Defend the Syrian Revolution against Russian Imperialism!
Stop the US, UK and French Air Strikes! Smash the Assad Dictatorship!
Statement of the Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (RCIT), 9.10.2015, www.thecommunists.net
1. Since 30 September, the Russian air force has been undertaking massive strikes against Syrian rebels as well as the country’s civilian population. The Putin regime has transferred about 50 military aircraft and helicopters, several SA-22 surface-to-air anti-aircraft systems, T-90 tanks, artillery, BTR-82A armored personnel carriers, and several hundred marines to its naval military base at Tartus on Syria’s southern Mediterranean coast. They are closely coordinating their military intervention with Iranian troops as well as with Assad’s butchers.
2. This invasion of Russian imperialism started only shortly after British and French imperialism joined the US in their reactionary military campaign against Islamist rebels in Syria. Like Obama, Cameron and Hollande, Putin also justifies his intervention as a “struggle against ISIS terrorism.” As in all other cases, this is a total lie! Moscow’s military intervention is nothing but an invasion intended to save the bloodthirsty dictatorship of Bashar al-Assad! This is demonstrated by the fact that most of Russian air strikes are not directed against Daesh (the so-called “Islamic State”) but against important factions of the rebels like Jabhat al-Nusra, Ahrar ash-Sham, the Free Syrian Army and others.
3. This is hardly surprising. The Assad regime has been the closest ally of imperialist Russia in the Middle East for many years. Developments during the past six months, like the complete liberation of the Idlib province by the rebels and their advances towards Latakia – the strategically crucial area for the survival of Assad’s regime – have sounded the alarm bells among the rulers in Damascus as well as in Moscow.
4. In addition, the Putin regime is frightened that a defeat for Assad at the hands of an Islamist-led popular uprising would increase the unrest amongst Muslim minorities which make up a seventh (14%) of Russia's population. Moscow justifiably fears the deep-seated hatred for it by its numerous national minorities, having so oppressed them for centuries (with the exception of a brief period, 1917–1923, when the young Soviet Union was being led by Lenin and Trotsky). The most barbaric symbol of Russia’s colonial rule is its occupation of Chechnya, where it slaughtered at least a fifth of the small Chechen people and has raped and expelled most of the rest since 1994. While the world leaders all remained silent, no person of conscience can or will forget such a genocide – one of the worst crimes in modern human history!
5. However, there are two important additional factors which explain the fact and the timing of the Russia’s military intervention. First, as the RCIT has explained many times, Russia – together with China – is a rising imperialist power, as it already clearly demonstrated during the Syrian crisis in September 2013 as well as by its annexation of Crimea and Moscow’s intervention in the Ukrainian civil war. At the same time US imperialism – the global absolute hegemon for decades – is in the midst of a long-term decline in its relative power, as are the great powers of Western Europe. These developments have resulted, among others things, in important geopolitical changes in the Middle East: US imperialism was forced to end its cold war against Iran; Russia has built close relations with the military dictatorship of General al-Sisi in Egypt; and Israel – the US’s most important ally in the region – is now closely collaborating with Russia in the latter’s invasion of Syria.
6. Second, and related to the above, Putin is skillfully exploiting the strategic cul-de-sac in which US and EU imperialisms have maneuvered themselves. In the 1990s and 2000s Western imperialism collaborated with Assad on numerous issues including the 1991 Gulf War as well as the CIA’s program of torture by proxy conducted globally. However, when the Arab Revolution started in January 2011, and one regime after another was either overthrown or seriously shaken, Washington, London, Paris and Berlin hoped to retain their influence in the region by building alliances with the most corrupt sectors of the liberal and Islamist bourgeoisie. They pretended to defend “freedom” and “human rights.” When it became clear that the mass uprising of the Syrian workers and fallahin was a hard fact, Western imperialism hoped to replace Moscow’s puppet, Assad, with its own puppet. While Obama, Cameron and Hollande tried to gain some influence among the rebels by mostly verbal support (they managed to train only a few dozen rebels), their main desire was to install an Assadist regime without Assad in charge – i.e., to keep the state apparatus and to change only the leading figures.
7. However, until now this strategy of Western imperialism has failed on all fronts. The few rebels trained by the US have deserted them and either handed over their weapons to anti-Western Islamist rebels or were completely crushed by them. Furthermore, the civil war in Syria has thus far cost the lives of some 250,000 Syrians and turned half of Syria's population of 22 million into refugees. Since the neighboring countries Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Turkey have already taken in about 4 million refugees, more and more Syrians are now trying to enter Europe. This in turn has provoked a massive political crisis in Europe and has led to the rise of both a pro-refugee solidarity mass movement as well as of extreme right-wing racist parties. For all these reasons Western governments are increasingly changing their tactics and now express their support for a “political solution of the Syrian civil war which includes Assad.” It is likely that, in the coming months, there will be an intensive tussle between the great powers in which, on the one hand, they will try to increase their influence at the expense of their rivals (which also includes the possible danger of military friction between them). On the other hand, all the great powers will cooperate in order to pacify the civil war and to impose a reactionary “political solution” at the heart of which will be the continuity of the Assadist state apparatus (with or without Assad).
8. It is hardly surprising that all Syrian rebel forces – from the Local Coordination Committees of Syria, the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood, Jabhat al-Nusra, Ahrar ash-Sham, to the Free Syrian Army – sharply denounce the Russian invasion. Furthermore, the Syrian Opposition Coalition and 70 armed rebel forces have issued a statement in which they announced their decision to cease cooperating with the initiative of the UN envoy Staffan de Mistura.
9. The Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (RCIT) sharply denounces the Russian invasion of Syria as well as the Western imperialist intervention in that country. We continue to support the Syrian Revolution. True, many factions of the fractured rebel movement follow a petty-bourgeois Islamist agenda with which we cannot identify as communists. However, this is the tragic result of the absence of an authentic revolutionary leadership in Syria, and is by no means the fault of the popular masses! It is a shameful fact that many official Syrian “communists” (i.e., the two Stalinist parties) have duly supported the Assad dictatorship for decades. In such a situation, the Islamists have treacherously managed to present themselves as the only force fighting against the Assad dictatorship while also opposing both Western and Russian imperialism. However, these political deficiencies don’t change the fact that the Syrian workers and fallahin are continuing to fight against the Assad regime for their freedom and see the rebels as their leadership.
10. The RCIT continues to support the struggle of the Kurdish people for national self-determination. This includes support for the legitimate military struggle of Kurdish forces against those who try to suppress this right (like Daesh, for example). However we strongly denounce the petty-bourgeois nationalist leadership of the YPG/PKK which openly collaborates with US imperialism in its military campaign against the Islamists in Syria, and which has failed for years to join the struggle against the Assad dictatorship. It is characteristic of the petty-bourgeois and opportunist nature of major sections of the international left that they uncritically hail the PKK and its so-called “revolution” in Rojava.
11. Socialists both in Syria and internationally should rally to support the Syrian Revolution and the struggle of the rebels against Assad as well as against the reactionary Salafist-Takfiri Daesh. The RCIT supports the rebels’ resistance both against all imperialists, the Russians as well as the US, British and French. At the same time socialists have to fight against the political agenda of the rebels’ leadership. It is vital to support all steps to strengthen local self-governing structures. It is crucial to build local councils and militias in order to break the hold of the petty-bourgeois militaristic Islamist and secular factions over the revolution. This is the only perspective to advance in the struggle for a workers’ and fellahin republic in Syria and a socialist federation in the Middle East. In any possible confrontation between Russian and Western military forces, revolutionaries must support neither side but oppose both, since both are reactionary imperialists and enemies of the Syrian Revolution.
12. We denounce the pro-Russian social-imperialist left – like the Stalinist supporters of Castro-Chavezismo, the centrist muddle-heads supporting the “anti-imperialist” Putin and Xi regime, etc. – who praise the Assad regime and the Russian support for it. Authentic Marxism is incompatible with support for one of the imperialist great powers as well as for a reactionary dictatorship against the uprising of its own working class and peasantry!
13. The RCIT calls upon socialists to combine internationalist solidarity with the Syrian revolution with ongoing support for the Palestinian liberation struggle against the Zionist state, the popular resistance against the Egyptian dictatorship, and the Yemeni liberation war against the foreign invasion by the Al-Saud gang. At the same time socialists in Europe should participate in the pro-refugee solidarity movement and fight for a working class and internationalist perspective.
14. Most importantly revolutionaries have to unite on the basis of a international program which includes solidarity with the Arab Revolution, the struggle for permanent revolution and for working class power, and against both Western and Eastern imperialism. The RCIT calls revolutionaries around the world to join us in the struggle for a new world party of socialist revolution!
15. The RCIT calls upon authentic socialists, on all workers, and the poor and oppressed to fight with us together for:
* Victory in the Syrian Revolution! Down with the Assad Dictatorship!
* Defeat military intervention by Russia, the US, the UK and France!
* No to reactionary sectarianism! Down with the Salafi-Takfiri Daash!
* For Workers’ and Fallahin councils and militias! For a Workers’ Government allied with the Fallahin based on local councils and militias!
* For international solidarity with the Syrian rebel and popular movement! For a campaign of the mass organizations of the working class and the oppressed to facilitate military aid for the rebel movement!
* For international solidarity of the workers’ movement with their brothers and sisters in Egypt!
* Down with the Zionist Apartheid State! Solidarity with the Palestinian liberation struggle! For a Free, Red Palestine from the River to the Sea!
* Defend Yemen against the al-Saud Gang of Aggressors!
* Revitalize and spread the Arab Revolution which began at the end of 2010! For a socialist federation of the Middle East!
* Forward in building revolutionary parties in Egypt, Syria and internationally! For the revolutionary Fifth Workers’ International!
International Secretariat of the RCIT
For our analysis of the Arab Revolution we refer readers to:
RCIT: Revolution and Counterrevolution in the Arab World: An Acid Test for Revolutionaries, 31 May 2015, http://www.thecommunists.net/theory/theses-arab-revolution/
For other RCIT documents and articles on Syria see: