Guidelines for the formation of a leftist stance on Syria

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It has become trendy among the Western left to meet with the right over Syria. There is actually no debate on Syria in Western countries. In fact, debate is highly discouraged. Debate is seen as a political sin. Only one point of view is permitted on Syria; you may search American newspapers over a three-year period to find no trace whatsoever of any critique of the Syrian “revolution”.

Not only are those who support the Syrian regime forbidden from speaking (and supporters of the Syrian regime do exist despite the protests of Western correspondents in Beirut who rely on Free Syrian Army media—and Saudi and Qatari media—for their clues and information on the Syrian conflict), but those who are critical of both sides of the conflict are not allowed to speak either. Haytham Al-Manna` for example was not allowed to speak on Syria in Western media and his participation in Geneva was not permitted by Saudi Arabia and the US governments.

How do Western leftists justify their support for the Syrian rebels? By simple tricks:

1) To invoke anecdotes: “I met a Syrian leftist woman who so impressed me and she is really famous in the revolution”
2) By calling the armed groups “revolutionaries” and by conflating their action with the civil movement that started back in 2011 and largely died down from a combination of repression and Saudi/Qatari/Turkish/Syrian rebel hijacking
3) By citing the authority of the US government and Western governments to legitimize the stance of the left
4) By invoking the authority of Western human rights organizations who rarely deviate from the policies and wars of the US empire
5) By reminding the audience that Iran and Russia are not leftist (and the US is?)

As a contribution to the debate on this subject, I wish to offer a few guidelines on the subject, taking into consideration that in reality there are no leftists who support Bashar Al-Assad, unless you count individual leftists in Lebanon as evidence:

1) There is not a single leftist Syrian rebel group. Not one.
2) There is not a single leftist demand or request or slogan by either the Syrian armed groups or by the Syrian exile opposition.
3) There are no Syrian leftist intellectuals in the “revolution”: those who are identified as “leftists” in the Syrian “revolution” are in fact former leftists. And remember that some of the most vocal right-wingers in the Lebanese March 14 movement are themselves former leftists-turned sectarian right-wingers.
4) The sponsors of the Syrian rebels and of the Syrian exile opposition are Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey, and the US. Those can’t count as leftist regimes.
5) The Syrian regime is not a leftist regime; Hafidh Al-Assad coup in 1970 was launched against the leftist leadership of Salah Jadid.
6) Bashar Al-Assad did not lead Syria in a leftist direction: in fact, he took the country further to the right, especially in economic policy.
7) Ahmad Al-Jarba was selected by Saudi regime and the US to lead the Syrian National Coalition for his tribal and polygamous credentials and not for any leftist credentials.
8) There is no Syrian “revolution”: there is no serious academic or other justification for the invocation of the word “revolution”. The word is bandied about very much in the Ba`thist tradition as a mere word used to rationalize and legitimize political activities that don’t belong to revolutionary activity.
9) Having the support of Western leftists does not make an event or a movement in a developing country leftist.
10) There isn’t a single leftist current in Islamist and Jihadi groups and movements.
11) Neither the Russian camp nor the American camp is leftist, but you can always bet that the US leads a more rightist and reactionary camp than any other country in the world.
12) March 14 is a reactionary movement in Lebanon and its rhetoric and sponsors are the same as those of the March 14 of Syria (i.e. Syrian rebels and the Syrian exile opposition).
13) Arab leftists (throughout the Arab world) are far more opposed to the Syrian rebels than to the other side (with the exception of Trotskyists).
14) Hizbullah is not a leftist political party. It never was a leftist political party and never will be given its ideology and rhetoric, although it sometimes borrows from the political rhetoric of Third World leftism.
15) The support that Bashar Al-Assad receives from some leftist regimes (like in Venezuela) does not make him a leftist.
16) The Syrian rebels don’t count one leftist regime among their supporters and sponsors.
17) Wars of “humanitarian intervention” are an imperialist project, and not a leftist project.

Lastly, one last question: is Prince Bandar considered a leftist? Or is he a neo-leftist?

Dr. As’ad AbuKhalil is a professor of Political Science at California State University, Stanislaus, a lecturer and the author of The Angry Arab News Service. He tweets @asadabukhalil.


The west supported Assad and still supported it. And there was basically no coverage of the syrian Revolution. They described the Revolution as a "civil war" after a few months only.

What leftist? You are for Iran what arab liberals are for Saudi Arabia. Period.

04-05-2014: The senior military advisor to Iran's leader Ayatollah Khamenei stated in an interview published on Sunday that Iran's true borders now end at the shores of the Mediterranean sea in Syria and southern Lebanon.

Major General Yahya Rahim Safavi (pictured), who was formerly the Commander-in-Chief of the Tehran regime's elite Iranian Revolutionary Guard between 1997 and 2007, said in an interview published by the regime's Fars News Agency that Iran is now the primary influence in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon, and has de facto control of the region.

In the interview about the Tehran regime's support of Bashar al Assad, the senior aide to the Iranian leader added that this was the third time in Iran's history that it had controlled the region between its own territory and the Mediterranean sea, a reference to the Achaemenid and Sasanid periods of Persian imperial rule of the region.

This newspaper is responsible for the ongoing genocide against Sunni´s as it has framed basically all Sunni´s as NATO Wahabi Zionists whatever.

i don't really see the very rationale of the article, except for the good historical summary it provides. Firstly, I identify here a weird attempt of absolutizing what "leftist" should unchangeably BE in the middle eastern scenario. Secondly, why struggling to persuade people that nowadays leftism, if related to the Syrian events, should be nothing but ideological and pragmatic fence-sitting?? We should care much more about what the emerged concepts of social justice imply on the ground in the wake of the Syrian tragedy, rather than attributing to such changing concepts of justice with labels of leftism or not.

There is not a single leftist Syrian rebel group. Not one.


I wonder if this Angry Academic ever bothered to attend a pro-FSA rally in the USA. The largest ever featured a U. of California professor who did far more for the struggle than the Angry Academic did, whose main claim to fame was an occasional appearance on the Islamophobic Bill Maher show. I am speaking of Hatem Bazian.

At San Francisco State University in the late 1980s, Bazian became the first Palestinian to be elected president of SFSU Associated Students and the Student Union Governing Board. He was the first student to win a second term as president in the history of SFSU. The election came as a result of a united front formed under the Progressive Coalition that brought together all the students of color organizations on a common platform and a joint political strategy.

At the national conference United States Student Association (USSA) held at UC Berkeley in 1988, Bazian co-lead a major walk-out that culminated in the organization adopting a progressive board of directors structure granting by a 2/3 vote at least 50% of the Seats to Students of Color.

Bazian was elected as a Chair of the National People of Color Student Coalition (NPCSC) and an executive board member of the USSA. In both, he took the lead on affirmative action, access to education, anti-apartheid efforts on college campuses, and the Central American Solidarity Movement. He authored resolutions, which were adopted by the USSA national conference in 1991 calling for cutting US aid to Israel and imposing sanctions for its sales of military equipment to apartheid South Africa.

I see that LP the NATO Marxist is here. How the glorious NATO revolution in Libya fares, by the way? LP the NATO Marxist told a lot of tales about how in Libya NATO really were not supporting "revos", just like he now claims the same about Syria.

The idea that Fisk (who I seem to recall is married to a christian Syrian emigrée), ever had the slightest sympathy for Assad Père ou Fils, is bizarre. The only support he would ever have offered either of them would be from the end of a rope.

As to our own dear As'ad AbuKhalil (and he is, he's really unique in western journalism), I think his argument lacks realism. I have come to the conclusion, after several decades of increasingly wide reading, that the entire Leninist transformation of classical marxism was wrong, and that Rosa Luxemburg was correct. I'm not talking about their rival theories of capitalist accumulation and crisis. I'm talking about the fact that Rosa maintained the classicial marxist position that marxist revolution cannot be applied first in less developed countries, then reimported back into the most advanced ones. This is a leninist illusion perpetuated by Stalin, Mao, Fidel, and a thousand more or less romantic outlaws starting with Che Guevara. The classical marxist position is that the revolution must - repeat must - occur first in at least one of the most industrially advanced, and hence imperialist, countries. Rosa insisted that it must occur first in Germany, then eastern Europe and Russia would fall almost as an automatic consequence, whereas the attempt to do it the other way round would simply lead to Russia being quarantined by the major powers, if not altogether destroyed, and would incidentally make the imperialist powers stronger as they seized upon it as an object of imperialist counter-revolutionary world war, which is more or less exactly what happened.

In any case, none of the pseudo-marxist regimes that have arisen since Lenin have been in any sense I can see, 'marxist'. They have been developmental dictatorships, a state-form akin to fascism, but nothing else is realistic, intelligible or feasible. This should be so obvious that one can sometimes suspect colonial and post-colonial leftists of being western pawns, for denying it. This is precisely why westerm marxists are so easy to bash around in the western media, and so completely unpopular and ignored by the general western publics. The trotskyites, for example, are rightly treated as totalitarian hypocrites and liars, since their 'critique' of the original Leninist mistake is nonexistent; they merely pretend they could have managed the results less 'bureaucratically'. So I suggest a little realism: Gamal Abd'el-Nasir was an exponent of developmental dictatorship, and he was hated almost as much by Egyptian marxists as by Egyptian Islamists. But he is more widely loved than any other recent political leader in the world, not just by Arabs, but by everyone who cares about the future of the opporessed nations of Asia, Africa and southern America, than any other man in history. So please don't play the Sabahi versus Sisi card unthinkingly; understand the hard truth of what I'm saying.

The following is a flat-out lie and fabrication (as one would expect from a "former" Stalinist of the hypocritical and filthy West-residing breed):

"Not only are those who support the Syrian regime forbidden from speaking...."

Patrick Cockburn, the Daily Telegraph correspondent, Robert Fisk, many of the writers at Al-Guardianiyya, the L.A. Times, and others have all expressed views highly sympathetic to the Assad regime, in some cases acting as mere conduits of Assad regime propaganda under government minders.

Patrick Cockburn writes for the independent not the telegraph.

I find your comment ridiculous. First AbuKhalil is not a former "Stalinist." Second, Robert Fisk is not a propagandist for Assad. The LA Times is not either. You're paranoid reading of the media suggests that you cannot bear anyone who doesn't share your perspective which in turn is suggestive of some kind of political sectarianism.

Yeah, nice try. Mr. "former" Arab Stalinist wrote:

"I was a hard-core Marxist-Leninist-Stalinist in high school, and Jiha was a right-wing reactionary."

"I made it very clear that right-wing and fascist literature would not be permitted--I had told you I was never a liberal democrat, and this was during my Stalinist days."

Who do you think you're kidding?
A couple of balanced reports from a very small handful of correspondents doesn't make up for the blizzard of pro-rebel propaganda we've been served up daily for the ;last three years. The Guardian and the BBC especially have been unending in their bias.

There's no doubt that the western MSM has lost a huge amount of credibility since the war in Syria began. Along with the "controlled dissent" human rights NGOs like Amnesty and HRW, they will come to regret being part of the State departments new "soft power" policy. They're hacking away at the very root of their own authority, the idea that they are themselves independent. Once this has gone, regaining that reputation will be near impossible. And it's draining away daily.

As for leftists supporting the rebels, there are actually very few who do, and they're invariably liberals (in the English sense), rather than people on the left. Frankly, the more folk know about the Syrian rebels, the less likely they are to support them. Only people who lack the intellectual capacity to change their minds are still sympathetic.

I wonder if the coverage of the Assad regime in the far freer media of Russia, China, the Mollah Regime et al. would fall more in line with your preferences?

P.S. Yeah sure, Cockburn (scion of the Stalinist mouthpiece, Claud Cockburn), Robert Fisk, the Daily Telegraph correspondent, and the Assad & Mollah Regime West-residing Groupies and propagandists like the Leveretts, etc have only written a piece or two about the Assad Regime -- naturally, those pieces are "balanced reports" not pro-Assad propaganda. Got it.

Funny how the whitewasher of imperialist propaganda aka "free press" cannot really find a good argument and has to use curse words instead.
After "Saddam's WMD" in this free press one could even pity Alireza were it not so gross crime by imperialism aided by this "free press", while China, Russia and Iran had not published anything like thous murderous lies.

I agree Alireza. Syria is sandwiched between a narrative that exploits the Syrian people for western interests, and another that is filled with state worshipg that is masqueraded as anti-imperialist leftism. See how many columnists on Al-Akhbar alone posit themselves as "lefitsts" or "marxist" and glorify the nepotist, neoliberal, reactionary Assad against the right-wing rebels. As if the former is any better for the "workers" than the latter. Bottom line is that dogmatism dominates every narrative in Syria, but the worst one is that one that insists that Syrian people have no right to resist a tyrant (no matter who he may be).

Year, sure, "resist a tyrant" with the help of CIA and Saudi royals and Zionists - who is better suited to such resistance than the same forces which "liberated" Libya and Afghanistan among a lot of others.

The CIA, Saudis, and Zionists didn't invent opposition to Assad, it was there because of his brutality and austerity. According to you, nobody can possibly be opposed to Assad unless they are funded/armed by the west. And that makes you a state worshiper, as well as a charlatan.

Real opposition to Assad is sure possible (there is even opposition in USA), but anyone who takes CIA/Saudi royals/Zionists as backers is just their puppet, no matter whether there are real problems of Syria.
I could provide a long list of such "oppositions" all over the world, from Cuba to Ukraine. The same (dirty) tale.

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