Guidelines for the formation of a leftist stance on Syria
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.
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