Syria's Revolutionary Left: Challenges of a Transitional Phase

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Syrian dissidents hold a meeting for the Syrian National Council (SNC) in the Egyptian capital Cairo after the SNC lobbied for support in Cairo where the Arab League is based. (Photo: AFP - Owaise Mahmoud)

By: Gayyath Naisse

Published Sunday, November 6, 2011

Since mid-March 2011, we have been witnessing in Syria a revolutionary process linked to the context of the revolutions that swept the Arab region. This is a popular revolution aimed at getting rid of the dictatorship and struggling for freedom, dignity, equality and social justice. Any progress since then is achieved at the greatest pain and sacrifice, because of the violence inflicted by the dictatorship against peaceful protesters and the struggling Syrian masses.

Despite the great sacrifices in front of this violent and brutal dictatorship, the masses of the Syrian people are pursuing their peaceful revolution until they achieve their objectives, including the overthrow of the regime.

It is needless to emphasize the importance attached by the revolutionary left in Syria to ally and collaborate with the general democratic and social forces against dictatorship. In this current stage and in accordance with the requirements of the struggle, while taking into consideration the general and historical interests of the Syrian masses in the context of the ongoing revolutionary dynamics, the revolutionary left in Syria confirms that it adopts the major objectives of the Syrian People's Revolution, for freedom, democracy, dignity and social justice, and is committed to engage in mass action to achieve these objectives.

We consider that revolutionary dynamics is about building a democracy from below. We do not hesitate therefore at this current stage of transition, to emphasize our will to adopt and to build a democratic civil and pluralist state. We also insist on the need to adopt broader forms of participatory democracy and direct democracy, in order for the vast majority of the people to participate directly in the affairs of their life and society.

At the same time, the interrelation or connection between the various ongoing Arab revolutions has been demonstrated, beyond any shadow of doubt. These elements show the links in the struggle for radical social democratic change starting from a grassroots perspective.

The Challenges of the Revolutionary Process in Syria

The were repeated calls for unity among the Syrian opposition lately. This issue has become a very pressing concern to many among the Syrians, as if it is the only way to accelerate the collapse of the regime, and put an end to the bloody and horrible massacres committed on a daily basis against the right of the people to revolt.
The supporters of unity do not refer however to the vast and serious contradictions among the parties of the opposition and its components, while knowing that revolutionary groups are still struggling on the ground and are leading the movement to a very large extent.

The popular movement in the country also emphasizes its commitment to the three well known principles (peaceful revolution, the absolute rejection of foreign military intervention, and the determination to overthrow the regime while refusing any dialogue with it). We notice that despite these known features some segments of the opposition supposedly working against the Assad regime, at home, are interested in dialogue with the regime. Another segment, specially among the opposition abroad– and this is more dangerous, back the current militarization of the uprising, in order to get a foothold in Syria.

More dangerously also, they are in favour of a foreign military intervention. This has impacted a small minority of the opposition inside the country, with the emergence of voices in the local coordination’s committees raising the slogan of international protection, and even calling for a no fly zone.

Any particular action that leads to a Libya scenario, i.e. to direct intervention under the auspices of NATO, will have, without any doubt, severe and dangerous consequences on the country. This requires us to rethink the unity slogan for the following weeks and months, especially when we witness that the three principles, referred to above, are being violated.

This is important to understand, especially when the people become angrier on a daily basis in the face of the regime’s brutality and the various practices and forms of repression unprecedented in the history of Syria.

Meanwhile, we believe that there is a need to shame the advocates of militarization who give more reason to the regime to move things desperately into a deeper and dangerous abyss, and in particular to what may come along with it: possible sectarian-motivated assassinations while seeking to expand it by various means, notably by inciting sectarian sentiments.

In addition we warn also to the dangers of an external intervention on the revolution, while arguing for a radical opposition. We thus refuse any military role or action in the future, on Syrian territory, by NATO or other reactionary forces from the Arab States or other Middle Eastern ones (such as Israel, Turkey or any other). This is of course concomitant with the total opposition against the Baathist dictatorship.

Construction of the Revolutionary Left

The absence of an organised revolutionary left in Syria as an important actor has been among the causes in the confusion inside the leadership of the current six-months-long revolutionary movement. On one hand, this is the outcome of the historical participation of the traditional communist movement in the existing regime and its brutal repression. Another reason is the crushing by the regime of the revolutionary left and to a large extent all other political forces since 1980s.

This is why the formation of an organised revolutionary Marxist left, through engagement on the ground in the ongoing process of struggle should be the top priority of revolutionaries.

At the same time, the revolutionary left has to provide a transitional program as one of its functions and missions as a group participating in this historical period opened by the revolutionary process. This program may be expanded later, and by other elements, according to the evolution of this process.
Despite the success of the Syrian masses to continue the struggle against this oppressive regime, the latter will nevertheless not be toppled overnight. The battle of the masses to achieve their demands mentioned above will need time. This is why the revolutionary work is not limited to Syria, but also includes other Arab countries, and may include later all the Arab countries in order to build a revolutionary left capable of mobilizing the masses for freedom, dignity and social justice on the basis of a progressive and radical program that can stand out amid programs of other political and social forces.

The Transitional Tasks

Such a program entails the following transitional objectives:

A. Overthrow the regime and establish a Provisional Revolutionary Government:
1 - The dismantling of the security infrastructure of the state
2 - Call for the election of a Constituent Assembly, on the basis of proportional representation, to establish a constitution for a civilian, democratic and pluralist state that respects civil liberties and human rights, and achieves full equality between citizens including equality irrespective of religion, ideology, nationality, ethnicity or gender. The constitution should also be committed strengthen and to accomplish essential national and pan Arab tasks, such as the liberation of the occupied Golan Heights and the practical support of the Palestinian struggle for the right of return and full self-determination on the land of historic Palestine.

B. Construction of the revolutionary left in Syria, through the turning of individuals and groups into an active political and social force. The components of the revolutionary left would be gathering around a transitional program, in order to succeed in mobilizing vast sectors of the masses around it.

This would open the way to the maturation and the evolution of the current democratic revolution into a global social and national force, in close alliance with the forces of the revolutionary process in the entire Arab region.

The basic elements of this program will fall under four broad titles; firstly democratic freedoms and judicial independence and impartiality; secondly separation of the religion and state, in the framework of guarantying the freedom of belief and the rights of national minorities; thirdly to improving economic and social conditions, and women's emancipation; and fourthly taking on national and pan Arab struggles.

Ghayyath Naisse is a representative of the Syrian Leftist Revolutionary Current, a gathering of Syrian-based leftists under formation. This text is part of the Transitional Program of the group issue in October 2011.

The views expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect Al-Akhbar's editorial policy.


"The absence of an organised revolutionary left in Syria as an important actor"

This makes me question what is going on with those claiming that the rebels are democratic forces. Are the Syrian lefitsts who say there is a revolutionary left in Syria actually just living in exile, like in England and Australia?

Joseph Daher of the Syrian Left Current talks about how Local Coordinating Committees are in Syria:
"We have to understand more generally the crucial role played by the popular committees and organisations in the continuation of the revolutionary process, they are the ultimate actors that allow the popular movement to resist."
This sounds good, but is it realistic?

I would think that illustrating the article about Syrian "left" with the picture of Syrian National Council (SNC) (NATO/Israel/Gulf royals tool) is odd. Not much. The article just repeat the same NATO/Israel/Gulf royals propaganda, including "peaceful" about the armed opposition.

But, of course, if the author himself admits "The absence of an organised revolutionary left in Syria", he sure could find no better supporters for left goals than NATO/Israel/Gulf royals.

Hitler claimed he was going to "liberate" Russians from Stalin. Some Russian supported him in such noble endeavor. But as far as I know no on of Hitler's Russian helpers called himself "leftists".

When Assad government goes, radical Islam will take over the power. You, the so called "leftists" can keep on helping and dreaming. You will miss these days under the president you call a 'dictator" - I pity you...

Very well said Lidia... "leftist" my ass...

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