Syrian liberation fighters must reject the deal and continue the struggle against the Russian-Iranian-Assadist occupiers!
Statement of the Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (RCIT), 6 March 2020, www.thecommunists.net
1. At their meeting on 5 March in Moscow Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdoğan have agreed once again on a ceasefire deal on Idlib. Its official results are summarized in a so-called “Additional Protocol to the Memorandum on Stabilization of the Situation in the Idlib De-Escalation Area”. The main points of this agreement are the following:
* Cessation of all military actions along the line of contact in the Idlib de-escalation area starting from 00:01 on 6 March.
* Establishment of a so-called “security corridor” 6 kilometers deep to the north and 6 kilometers deep to the south from highway M4. Specific parameters for the functioning of the security corridor shall be agreed between the Defense Ministries of Turkey and Russia within 7 days.
* Launching of joint Turkish-Russian patrols along highway M4 from the settlement of Trumba (2 kilometers to the west of Saraqeb) to the settlement of Ain al-Havr.
2. The Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (RCIT) strongly denounces this deal as another vicious blow against the Syrian Revolution! This deal serves the interests of Russian imperialism and the tyrannical Assad regime. It might also be the case that Putin and Erdoğan secretly agreed on some political or economic issues which are important for the Turkish government (e.g. Libya, Eastern Mediterranean gas, SS-400). In any case, this deal means – like the Astana and Sochi deals in the past – another stab in the back of the liberation struggle of the Syrian people.
3. Concretely, this agreement is a sell-out of the Syrian Revolution for the following reasons:
* A ceasefire in this situation only serves the militias of Assad since they suffered terrible losses in the past days. Thanks to the deployment of Turkish armed drones and also because Ankara provided the rebels with some modern arms against war planes and tanks, the liberation forces were able to challenge the huge military superiority of the counter-revolutionary forces for the first time. In the last days alone, Assad’s militias lost at least three fighter jets, three helicopters, nine air defense systems as well as numerous tanks. Hence, the rebels were advancing and managed to liberate some towns and villages which they had lost in the past weeks. A ceasefire in such a situation means that the rebels can no longer advance and that the Russian-Iranian-Assadist occupation forces can rebuild their forces. In the past, Assad’s militias have broken all ceasefires once they felt strong enough. They will do the same now as they have repeatedly announced that they intend to conquer all free territories, i.e. the whole of Idlib.
* The agreement does not mention the important high way M5, linking Damascus with Aleppo. This highway is currently mostly under control of the Assadist forces and has been a major issue in the current battles. As it is not mentioned, this means nothing but continuing control of it by Russian-Iranian-Assadist forces.
* The agreement includes the establishment of a large “security corridor” on both sides of the M4, the other crucial highway which links Latakia with Aleppo. This highway is currently under full control of the rebels. Creating a “security corridor” with Turkish-Russian patrols is a pretext for expelling the rebels from this area and cutting off the area of southern Idlib. This area includes the strategically important town of Jisr al Shughur which is currently controlled by rebel forces which have until now consistently opposed the Astana-Sochi sell-out policy.
* In summary, the Putin-Erdoğan deal is a sell-out of the Syrian Revolution because it calls for a stop of the fighting in a moment when the rebels are advancing, because if leaves control of the M5 highway to Assad and because it potentially hands-over the M4 highway as well as southern Idlib to the Russian-Iranian-Assadist occupiers.
4. This sell-out does not come as a surprise. The RCIT has repeatedly warned for years that the Erdoğan government is primarily interested in consolidating its alliance with Russian imperialism (or other powers). Likewise, Ankara is determined to let no more Syrian refugees into the country. Political or military support for Syrian rebels has always been only a tactical instrument for Ankara in order to serve these primary goals. In a statement of 10 February, we said: “We warn that the Turkish army in Idlib should not be trusted. Since Erdoğan desires to keep his alliance with Putin the butcher, it is quiet likely that he will strike again a treacherous deal against the Syrian Revolution. As a result the Turkish troops could be used to expel, disarm or crush the Syrian liberation fighters and to hand over parts of Idlib to the regime.” We repeated this warning even when the recent escalation forced the Turkish army to lend some support to the rebels in the last weeks: “However, we warn once more that Ankara’s current flexing of muscles could be a prelude to strike a new deal with Moscow with the aim of pacifying the Syrian Revolution and disarming the militant factions. For these reasons, liberation fighters in Idlib must avoid any political subordination to Ankara and its foreign policy goals.” (29 February)
5. The RCIT calls all factions of the Syrian resistance to denounce the Putin-Erdoğan deal and to reject its implementation. We warn once more that this deal could be a pretext to disarm and suppress the factions which have always opposed the treacherous Astana-Sochi deals. We urge the factions to refuse any political subordination to Ankara. We call for a broad united front of all those opposed to the Astana-Sochi policy in order to continue the liberation struggle. For an international solidarity campaign with the Syrian Revolution!
Defend Idlib - Defeat Assad and the Russian-Iranian Occupiers! Don’t Let Idlib Die!
International Bureau of the RCIT
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The RCIT has published a number of booklets, statements, and articles on the Syrian Revolution that can be accessed on a special sub-section of this website: https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/africa-and-middle-east/collection-of-articles-on-the-syrian-revolution/. Our call “Save the Syrian Revolution!” has been published in six languages and can be read here in English: https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/africa-and-middle-east/call-save-the-syrian-revolution/.
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