Syria: Condemn the Reactionary Astana Deal!

The so-called "De-Escalation Zones" are a First Step towards the Partition of Syria and a Conspiracy by the Great Powers to Defeat the Revolution


Statement by the Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (RCIT), 7 May 2017,




1.            The governments of Russia, Iran and Turkey signed an agreement on 4 May in the Kazakh capital, Astana, according to which four so-called "de-escalation zones" are about to be created. These zones cover significant parts (but far from all; Qaboun for example is not zoned) of those areas which are currently controlled by the Syrian rebels fighting against the tyranny of Assad. (1). While the plan officially calls for the cessation of hostilities between the rebels and the pro-Assad forces in these zones, it makes important exceptions. It explicitly states that the "guarantors" (i.e., Russia, Iran and Turkey) will continue to fight against all "terrorists," both inside and outside of these zones. In addition to Daesh, the agreement refers to Hay'at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), among other groups, as being "terrorist." Furthermore, the deal envisages that Russia, Iran and Turkey (and possibly other "third parties") will administer these zones and station troops ("armed foreign monitors") there. (2) The US government, as well as that of Germany, has already released a statement welcoming the Astana deal and its support for the liquidation of the HTS "terrorists." (3)


2.            The so-called High Negotiations Committee, a "moderate" coalition of several forces of the Syrian opposition led by Riyad Farid Hijab, who was Prime Minister under Assad from June to August 2012, refused to sign the deal and criticized it as "vague" and "illegitimate." In fact, more or less all relevant rebel factions published statements rejecting the agreement. This is hardly surprising, as these negotiations are extremely unpopular among the Syrian people and, thus, there is massive popular pressure on the delegations of Syrian rebels not to become a party to the deal. However, several of the rebels' negotiators in Astana merely focused their criticism on the inclusion of Iran as a "guarantor," i.e., the presence of military forces of the Teheran regime in the administration and enforcement of these "de-escalation zones."


3.            The Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (RCIT) calls upon all forces supporting the Syrian Revolution to unconditionally condemn the Astana agreement and openly refuse any cooperation with the Assad regime or the so-called "guarantors"! This deal is nothing but a dangerous conspiracy aimed at liquidating the Syrian Revolution by force of arms and placing the still-liberated areas under foreign occupation. All forces loyal to the Syrian Revolution must condemn the Astana deal, primarily for the following reasons:


i) The deal hands over control of the liberated areas ("de-escalation zones") to the reactionary regimes of Putin, Khamenei/Rohani and Erdoğan. The Russian and Iranian forces have supported the Assad regime’s massacring of the Syrian people for years. Handing over control of the liberated areas to these regimes is equivalent to handing them over to Assad, i.e., abrogating very important gains achieved by the revolutionary struggle. Troops from Russia, Iran, and Turkey will be responsible to militarily secure the “de-escalation zones." Sergei Rudskoi, an official with Russia's military general staff, explicitly stated that the "work of checkpoints and observation posts, as well as the management of security zones, will be carried out by the personnel and formations of Russia, Turkey and Iran". (4)


ii) The deal legitimizes the continuation of the reactionary war by Assad, as well as the interventions by the Great Powers, against Hay'at Tahrir al-Sham – which is the largest and most disciplined single force defending the liberated areas against the pro-Assad terrorist forces – as well as other so-called "terrorists" throughout all Syria, i.e., both inside and outside the "de-escalation zones." (The deal is actually not relevant to Daesh, as only small units of its forces are found in any of the designated "de-escalation zones.")


iii) Furthermore, the deal advances the long-sought goal of the Great Powers of liquidating the Syrian Revolution by partitioning the country. As a result, the Assad regime – in reality its Russian and Iranian backers – would control most of the country, while Turkey and the US, together with their Kurdish YPG allies, would control sectors of the central and eastern parts of northern Syria. A few enclaves would still remain under the control of some rebel factions who have expressed their willingness to act as the local gendarme for the Great Powers.


iv) Finally, a crucial, if not the most important, goal of the deal is to split the rebel forces and to encourage the leadership of several factions to become accomplices in the liquidation of the liberation struggle. Behind the scenes, Russia, Iran, and Turkey, as well as the US and EU, are actively attempting to bribe the leaderships of various rebel forces into directing their struggle away from the forces of Assad and towards Hay'at Tahrir al-Sham.


4.            We also draw attention to the fact that key powers of Western imperialism, like the Trump Administration and Germany's Merkel government, have already expressed their fundamental support for the Astana deal. (They only publicized reservation is about the role to be played by Iran.) This once more affirms our warning that all the imperialist powers involved – Russia, the US, and the EU – share a common interest in liquidating the Syrian Revolution by any means necessary. It also demonstrates, yet again, the idiocy of all those Stalinists, Castro-Chavistas and numerous centrists who claim that US imperialism is supporting or even controlling the Syrian rebels with the aim of overthrowing the Assad regime. In fact, such reactionary slander is designed to discredit the legitimacy of and popular support for the Syrian Revolution.


5.            The RCIT repeats its warning that the biggest current danger to the Syrian Revolution – in addition to the direct threat of the daily bombardment by the forces of Assad, Iran and Russia – is the ongoing conspiracy of the Great Powers behind the scenes. They are pressuring the leaders of several rebel factions to turn their weapons against Hay'at Tahrir al-Sham and others who more consistently fight against the Assad tyranny. It is this imperialist conspiracy which explains the repeated recent acts of aggression by Ahrar al-Sham against HTS in the Idlib region as well as those of Jaish al-Islam against HTS and Faylaq al-Rahman in the East Ghouta enclave. While both attacks against HTS failed and provoked popular outrage, it is clear that the imperialist powers, Russia and the US as well as their regional allies, will continue to encourage these forces to attack and weaken the more consistent defenders of the Syrian Revolution. It is hardly an accident that the leadership of Jaish al-Islam is part of the negotiation team in Astana and Ahrar al-Sham, while not part of the delegation, supports the participation of the Astana "peace process." In fact, it is revealing that the negotiators of the Syrian rebels attempt to justify their rejection of the deal by emphasizing the role of "co-guarantor" to be played by Iran, when this is, in fact, is a rather minor detail of the thoroughly reactionary Astana agreement. The imperialist conception of the "de-escalation zones" would involve the liquidation of the Syrian Revolution with or without Iranian participation! From this smokescreen tactic of blaming Iran’s role, we understand that the leaders of various rebel factions are currently laying the groundwork to sell-out the revolution in the interests of the imperialist Great Powers!


6.            All these developments re-affirm our previous warnings that both secular and Islamist petty-bourgeois leaderships are incapable of consistently fighting for the interests of the democratic revolution. Rather, they are all prepared to betray the struggle and to serve the interests of a regional or Great Powers. In the long run, this is also true of the HTS leadership, despite the fact that they are currently refusing to capitulate.


7.            In the present situation, it is crucial to put massive pressure on the rebel leaderships not to support the Astana deal. In fact, all those who are authentically true to the Syrian Revolution must demand that all negotiators claiming to represent Syrian rebels must immediately stop their participation in the so-called "peace negotiations" at Astana and Geneva. Similarly, all forces which instigate armed provocations, in the interests of the Great Powers, against rebel factions fighting against the Assad tyranny must be denounced.


8.            In the present situation, all loyal supporters of the Syrian Revolution must call for the creation of an anti-capitulationist united front of all forces which unambiguously reject the Astana deal, which oppose the partition of the country by the Great Powers and their regional allies, and which support the continuation of the struggle against the Assad tyranny. We call upon all revolutionaries around the globe not to stand idly aside in this crucial hour, but to rally in defense of the Syrian Revolution. Organize rallies in support of the continuation of the Syrian Revolution and against the Astana deal! Organize material support for the Syrian revolutionaries who are continuing the liberation struggle against the Assad tyranny and their imperialist backers!


9.            Finally, we repeat that the only way forward for the Syrian Revolution is to create popular councils and militias, under the control of the workers and poor peasants, which will fight for a workers’ and peasant republic. We call for an international workers’ and popular solidarity movement in support of the Syrian Revolution. Furthermore, we urge all authentic supporters of the liberation struggle to unite and found a revolutionary party in Syria and a global revolutionary international based on a program of permanent revolution.


* Down with the Assad regime! Victory to the Syrian Revolution!


* Condemn the reactionary Astana deal! No participation in the Astana and Geneva "peace talks"!


* Down with the interventions by the US and Russia in Syria! Defend the Syrian people's sovereignty! Drive all Great Powers out of Syria!


* The international workers’ movement must support the liberation struggle of the Syrian people! Organize rallies in support of the continuation of the Syrian Revolution and against the Astana deal! Organize material support for the Syrian revolutionaries!


* For the creation of popular councils and militias! Fight for a workers’ and peasant republic!


* For the founding of a revolutionary party in Syria and the establishment of a new international!




International Secretariat of the RCIT






(1) Zone 1: Includes Idlib province, as well as northeastern areas of Latakia province, western areas of Aleppo province and northern areas of Hama province (with at least one million civilians currently living in these zone); Zone 2: Contains the Rastan and Talbiseh enclaves in the northern part of Homs province (with approximately 180,000 civilians residents); Zone 3: Comprised of eastern Ghouta in the countryside north of Damascus (with a population today of about 690,000 civilians); Zone 4: The rebel-controlled south along the border with Jordan that includes parts of the Deraa and Quneitra provinces (with up to 800,000 civilians currently living there).


(2) The full text of the Astana agreement can be viewed by visiting the following link:


(3) See e.g.,


(4) Al-Jazeera: Syria's 'de-escalation zones' explained, 2017-05-06,




For the RCIT analysis of the Arab Revolution in general and the Syrian Revolution in particular, we refer readers to our numerous articles and documents accessed from the Africa and Middle East section of our website: In particular we refer readers to the following documents:


Michael Pröbsting: Is the Syrian Revolution at its End? Is Third Camp Abstentionism Justified? An essay on the organs of popular power in the liberated area of Syria, on the character of the different sectors of the Syrian rebels, and on the failure of those leftists who deserted the Syrian Revolution, 5 April 2017,


Johannes Moraga: Syria: Was the Chemical Attack a “False Flag” Operation? Let’s make Syria the graveyard for Assad, Putin and Trump! Victory to the Revolution! 14 April 2017,


RCIT: Syria: No to Trump's Missiles Strike! Drive all Great Powers out of Syria! Victory to the Syrian Revolution! 7 April 2017,


RKO BEFREIUNG: Press Conference on Assad's Chemical Weapons Attack and the US Air Strike, Report (with video) on a press conference of the Syrian Community and the Austrian Section of the RCIT on 7 April 2017 in Vienna,


Yossi Schwartz: Raqqa: Defeat the US Imperialist Offensive! An assessment of the US/SDF/YPG war against Daesh, April 2017,


RCIT: Down with the Assad Tyranny! Victory to the Syrian Revolution! For a Workers and Peasants Republic! Draft Platform of Syrian Revolutionaries in Political Solidarity with the RCIT, April 2017,


RCIT: Defeat the Imperialist Invasion in Syria – Victory to the Revolution! Down with the American and Russian interventions! No to the imperialist plan to divide Syria! Down with the butcher Assad and his imperialist allies! 13.03.2017,


RCIT: World Perspectives 2017: The Struggle against the Reactionary Offensive in the Era of Trumpism, Theses on the World Situation, the Perspectives for Class Struggle and the Tasks of Revolutionaries, 18 December 2016, Chapter IV. The Middle East and the State of the Arab Revolution,


RCIT: Revolution and Counterrevolution in the Arab World: An Acid Test for Revolutionaries, 31 May 2015,