How Big Gangsters and Small Gangsters Negotiate to Get a Deal
By Michael Pröbsting, International Secretary of the Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (RCIT), 30.08.2018, www.thecommunists.net
Pro-Assad as well as Western media have reported in the last days about an interesting meeting which took place recently in Damascus. The story was first brought up by the pro-Hezbollah Lebanese newspaper al-Akhbar, later basically confirmed by officials both of the U.S. Administration as well as regional governments and then published in various Western media like Reuters, the New York Times and the Israeli YNet. (1)
According to these reports, “an American delegation of senior Defense Department officials” as well as “representatives from other intelligence agencies” met with a Syrian delegation led by Ali Mamlouk, the head of Syria’s national security bureau, as well other senior security officials, including the head of the Military Intelligence Directorate. The meeting, which took place near Damascus international airport, lasted for four hours.
The delegation of the US Administration “made a series of demands in exchange for the US vacating war-torn Syria. In addition to the demand that Iranian forces exit southern Syria, the US also sought a Syrian guarantee that the US would receive a share of Syrian oil and that the country transfer information from Damascus to Washington about the terrorist organizations operating in the country, claiming that "the threat of terrorism crosses continents and that the information we receive can likely serve the state’s security.”
Mamlouk replied that “Damascus would not cooperate with Washington on security issues until they had normalized ties and he also demanded a complete withdrawal of U.S. forces from Syria.”
While the two delegations couldn’t reach an agreement for now, “it was agreed that the channels of communication between the US and Syria through the Russians would remain in place.”
This meeting between these big gangsters and small gangsters tells us more about the state of affairs than 100 empty declarations from the propaganda departments of the Trump Administration or the Assad regime. It comes as no surprise to us in the RCIT as we have always explained that US imperialism and the Assad regime are not divided by antagonistic interests. The conflict between Washington and Assad is basically a result of the inter-imperialist conflict between the Great Powers USA and Russia. (2)
For some time the US and the European Union desired to replace Assad, known as a proxy of Russian imperialism as well as of the Ayatollah regime in Iran, and to replace it with their own proxy. Hence, in the first years of Syria’s popular uprising, Washington gave tacit, mainly diplomatic, support for the pro-Western sectors of the rebels in order to create problems in Moscow’s empire. However, when it turned out that Washington could not bring the country into its sphere of influence via a coup against Assad from within the Baathist state apparatus, they reconciled themselves with the prospect of Assad staying in power. As the RCIT has emphasized many time, in the end, Washington and Brussels always preferred the bloody Assad regime than facing the consequences of a violent popular revolution. (3)
For these reasons, the Trump Administration has started to open negotiations with Putin as well as Assad about “making a deal”, as the White House’s strange man with the orange hair likes to say. Basically, Washington offers to withdraw its troops in exchange for getting a share in Syria’s oil business and for guaranteeing Israel’s “security” by keeping Iranian troops away from the Southern border.
At the moment, the two sides have not reached a deal. Assad is in a strong position as he has the backing of Russia and Iran. Furthermore, the longstanding proxy of US imperialism in Syria, the Kurdish YPG/SDF (4), is now looking itself for negotiations with the Assad regime. (5) And finally, while the U.S. is still the biggest imperialist power, it is seriously weakened by its vicious domestic faction struggle within its ruling class.
It is quite possible that the negotiations between the U.S. and Russia as well as Assad will get bumpy. This is not unusual in negotiations between big gangsters and small gangsters. As we know the Assadist-Russian-Iranian forces are preparing the final assault on Idlib, the last citadel of the Syrian Revolution. (6) Russian imperialism has deployed a dozen warships to the Mediterranean Sea in what a Russian newspaper called Moscow's largest naval build-up since it entered the Syrian conflict in 2015. (7)
The U.S. will no doubt protest against Russia’s expanding influence and make threats. One can not exclude that Washington will launch this or that military strike against Russia’s proxy. But such conflicts would not be about the Syrian liberation struggle but simply about the right prize for a deal between the U.S. and Russia respectively the Assad regime. But irrespective of its rivalry with Russia, U.S. imperialism shares Moscow’s desire to pacify the Syrian liberation struggle. (8)
These developments demonstrate once more how foolish those leftists have been who always refused any support for the popular uprising by claiming that the Syrian rebels were “agents of the U.S.”. As the RCIT has stated from the beginning, all capitalist powers – despite their rivalry between each other – have desired an end of the revolutionary process in Syria. (9)
We repeat once again that all revolutionaries, socialists and democrats must denounce the interference and aggression of all imperialist Great Powers in Syria! (10) The RCIT calls for the immediate withdrawal of the Russian and U.S. troops as well as those of Iran and Turkey. All foreign military bases in Syria must be dissolved! We call the workers and popular mass organizations around the world to rally the support of the Syrian people! Defend Idlib, the last citadel of the Syrian Revolution, against the impending annihilation by the barbaric counter-revolution!
* Defend Idlib! Defeat the Assadist, Russian and Iranian forces!
* Russian, Iranian, U.S. and Turkish troops – out of Syria!
* Down with the counter-revolutionary Astana Negotiations!
* For a single Intifada from Idlib to Jerusalem, Basra, Cairo and Teheran!
* For a Workers and Poor Peasants Government!
* Build a Revolutionary Workers Party – nationally and internationally!
(1) Reuters: U.S., Syrian security officials met in Damascus: official, report, August 28, 2018, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-mideast-crisis-syria-usa-officials/us-syrian-security-officials-met-in-damascus-official-report-idUSKCN1LD2A4; New York Times: U.S., Syrian security officials met in Damascus: official, report, August 28, 2018, https://www.nytimes.com/reuters/2018/08/28/world/middleeast/28reuters-mideast-crisis-syria-usa-report.html; Daniel Salami: Report: US offered to exit Syria if Iran vacates south, YNet, 08.28.18, https://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-5336680,00.html
(2) See on this e.g. chapter V of Michael Pröbsting: World Perspectives 2018: A World Pregnant with Wars and Popular Uprisings, February 2018, https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/worldperspectives-2018/chapter-v/
(3) See on this e.g. Michael Pröbsting: Syria: Assad’s Massacre in East Ghouta and the Western Hypercritics, 23.02.2018, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/africa-and-middle-east/assad-s-massacre-in-east-ghouta-and-the-western-hypercritics/; Michael Pröbsting: Is the Syrian Revolution at its End? Is Third Camp Abstentionism Justified?
(4) On the role of the Kurdish YPG/SDF as a U.S. proxy see e.g. RCIT: “We have 50,000 partners on the ground.”, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/africa-and-middle-east/revelations-of-u-s-general-on-washington-s-allies-in-syria/. Maj. Gen. James Jarrard, the commander of US Special Operations against the Islamic State, once praised the YPG/SDF: “They have an indomitable will. They have been ferocious fighters and excellent leaders and pretty amazing tacticians.” (https://www.defense.gov/News/Transcripts/Transcript-View/Article/1359137/department-of-defense-press-briefing-by-general-jarrard-via-teleconference-from/) And Gen. Joseph Votel, the commander of US Central Command, told a congressional committee that the Kurdish-led fighters constitute “the most effective force on the ground in Syria against ISIS.” (https://armedservices.house.gov/legislation/hearings/terrorism-and-iran-defense-challenges-middle-east)
(5) On the negotiations between the Assad regime and the Kurdish YPG/SDF see e.g. Syria's Kurds cautiously progress in talks with Damascus, August 6, 2018 https://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2018/08/turkey-syria-damascus-dialogue-kurdish-perspective.html; Helbast Shekhani: Kurdish leader reveals details of first meeting with Syrian government , July 30-2018, http://www.kurdistan24.net/en/news/54d92d6a-2f82-457f-a8da-5b5b579ef70c; Kurdish-led SDF visits Damascus for second round of talks, 14 August, 2018 https://www.alaraby.co.uk/english/news/2018/8/14/kurdish-led-sdf-visits-damascus-for-second-round-of-talks Syrian Kurds say plotting path to decentralisation with Assad government, MEE and agencies 28 July 2018 http://www.middleeasteye.net/news/syrian-kurdish-group-says-it-and-government-form-committees-end-violence-1801170266; Syrian Kurds say they will 'chart roadmap to decentralized Syria' with Damascus, Reuters Staff July 28, 2018 https://www.reuters.com/article/us-mideast-crisis-syria-kurds/syrian-kurds-say-they-will-chart-roadmap-to-decentralized-syria-with-damascus-idUSKBN1KI05I; Wary of U.S. ally, Syrian Kurds look to Damascus for talks, Ellen Francis July 25, 2018 / https://www.reuters.com/article/us-mideast-crisis-syria-kurds/wary-of-u-s-ally-syrian-kurds-look-to-damascus-for-talks-idUSKBN1KF2NN; Syrian Kurdish-backed council holds talks in Damascus, July 27, 2018 / https://www.reuters.com/article/us-mideast-crisis-syria-talks/syrian-kurdish-backed-council-holds-talks-in-damascus-idUSKBN1KH0Q9; Why Syria's Kurds are inclined to negotiate with Damascus, July 26, 2018 https://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2018/07/syria-regime-kurds-north-east-negotiations.html
(6) See on this e.g. Michael Pröbsting: Syria: Towards the Final Battle in Idlib. Assad, Russia, Iran and Turkey prepare for the final onslaught on the last Citadel of the Syrian Revolution, 04.08.2018, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/africa-and-middle-east/syria-towards-the-final-battle-in-idlib/
(7) US, Russia engage in war of words as Syria attack looms, 2018-08-28, https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/08/war-words-russia-syria-attack-looms-180828205707552.html; see on this also Michael Pröbsting: 63,000 Troops. Russian Imperialist Forces back up the Reactionary Assad Regime in Syria, 27.08.2018, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/africa-and-middle-east/63-000-russian-troops-in-syria/
(8) See on this e.g. Michael Pröbsting: U.S. Imperialism Wants to “Re-Engage” with the Assad Tyranny, Comment on an Article by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter published in the New York Times, 28.08.2018, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/africa-and-middle-east/u-s-imperialism-wants-to-re-engage-with-the-assad-tyranny/
(9) See on this e.g. Michael Pröbsting: Syria and Great Power Rivalry: The Failure of the „Left“. The bleeding Syrian Revolution and the recent Escalation of Inter-Imperialist Rivalry between the US and Russia – A Marxist Critique of Social Democracy, Stalinism and Centrism, 21 April 2018, https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/syria-great-power-rivalry-and-the-failure-of-the-left/
(10) Concerning the Great Power rivalry and imperialist interventions in the Middle East we refer, among others, to a joint statement issued by the RCIT and supported by five other organizations: Warmongering in the Middle East: Down with all Imperialist Great Powers and Capitalist Dictatorships! Joint Statement of the Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (RCIT), Alkebulan School of Black Studies (Kenya), Pacesetters Movement (Nigeria), Pan-Afrikan Consciousness Renaissance (Nigeria), Marxist Group ‘Class Politics’ (Russia), and Sınıf Savaşı (Turkey), 13 May 2018, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/africa-and-middle-east/joint-statement-warmongering-in-the-middle-east/
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The RCIT has published a number of booklets, statements and articles on the Syrian Revolution which can be read on a special sub-section on this website: https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/africa-and-middle-east/collection-of-articles-on-the-syrian-revolution/.