Since the dawn of the so-called “Arab Spring” Syria has been a warzone. On the one side there was the Ba’athist regime of Bashar al-Assad; on the other side, an insurgency collectively referred to as the Free Syrian Army (FSA). In the context of uprisings throughout the Arab world, the situation in Syria has caused some confusion for those who profess to be communists. Now that the US are manoeuvring for intervening directly (even if their plans were temporarily countered by Russia’s initiative), as they did in Afghanistan and Iraq, and depose Assad, it is important to resolve this confusion.
We communists speak of something called the international contradiction—that is, the primary tension that defines international politics and thus affects every instance of regional politics. This international contradiction is the contradiction between imperialism and the oppressed masses. Communists need to always side with the oppressed against imperialism and this should inform how we understand Syria. Therefore, a communist should stand resolutely against US intervention in Syria because imperial interventions, which strengthen the imperialist camp, are always far worse than the regime of the dictator that is being deposed.
While recognizing this global contradiction, however, communists must also consider the particularities of the region that is being targeted by imperialism. We should not uncritically endorse, as some unfortunately do, the anti-people regimes controlling the targeted countries. Just as when some well-meaning socialists celebrated the FSA (the FSA has been exposed as an imperialist lackey being funded by the imperialist camp), we should not ignore the local contradictions and pretend that the Ba’athist regime stands with the Syrian people.
The truth is that, at this juncture, the Assad government has been forced into an anti-imperialist position simply by defending its regime. We must also remember that the initial uprisings were authentic but also disorganized and spontaneous and thus easily crushed by the Assad regime, and were quickly overtaken by armed militias sponsored by the imperialist camp. However, many continue to fight against both against imperialism and the Assad regime, and for the self-determination of the Syrian people.
As with Iraq, where we could say no to imperialist aggression without endorsing Saddam, we can still say no to imperialism without supporting the Ba’athist regime. Furthermore, we recognize, alongside the Syrian Left opposition, that the only possible resolution to this conflict in the short term is not through military intervention, but rather through the Geneva Process that calls for a negotiated settlement and the self-determination of the Syrian people. Additionally, we recognize the right of the Kurdish people in Syria to fight for their own self-determination and regional autonomy.
In the end, any long-term solution for the emancipation of the popular masses in Syria would require them to organize for a revolutionary people’s war that will smash imperialism and the reactionary classes and establish a revolutionary regime toward socialism and communism.
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