Support the Undaunted Revolutionary People resisting against the Final Onslaught of Assad and imperialist Russia against the last Citadel of the Syrian Revolution!
By Michael Pröbsting, International Secretary of the Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (RCIT), 15.09.2018, www.thecommunists.net
Note of the Editorial Board: This article include a number of pictures, video links and a map which can be viewed below.
Tens of thousands people demonstrated in 83 cities and towns in the Greater Idlib region against the Assad tyranny and imperialist Russia on Friday 14 September. (1) In what many people say were the largest mobilizations since the early days of the revolution in 2011, people chanted slogans for the downfall of the regime. They denounced any attempt for reconciliation with the regime.
As numerous videos and pictures display, the demonstrators refuted the slander spread by the Assad regime and its international allies that the people in Idlib would be “terrorists”. They warn against a looming chemical attack, one of the most horrific weapons of the Assad tyranny against the revolutionary people. As it is well-known the regime has used this method of mass murder many times because its army is technologically superior but chronically understaffed due to the lack of popular support. (2)
While two separate mass rallies took place in Idlib City (the HTS supporters met at the Clock Square(3), pro-FSA/NLF supporters met at the Martyrs' Square), joint rallies of supporters of different factions were held in other towns. No incidents have been reported. (See below for a selection of pictures as well as a list of links to videos clips from these rallies.)
The only area where it is said that hardly any protests took place is a small region in the north-westerns countryside of Aleppo which is under control of the treacherous Zenki group which seems to be close to collapse. (4)
These demonstrations reflect that the will of the revolutionary people to continue the struggle against the barbarous Assad regime is undaunted. They also reflect the unabated mass support for the current leaderships of the popular uprising – mainly the petty-bourgeois Islamist Hayyat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) as well as the petty-bourgeois nationalist/Islamist Free Syrian Army / Jabhat al-Wataniya lil-Tahrir.
The FSA/NLF factions are closer to Ankara and partly support the treacherous negotiations of Russia, Iran and Turkey in Astana. (5) The HTS strongly opposes the Astana process and has not capitulated to the pressure of Ankara (until now). At the same it combines its uncompromising struggle against the regime with a reactionary Salafist ideology. (6) (See below a map showing the areas of factional control in the Greater Idlib region.)
None of these factions can lead the Syrian people to true liberation as they don’t stand for a working class program. This is why it is crucial for Syrian liberation activists to build a new revolutionary party as part of a World Party of Socialist Revolution. (7)
Since the beginning of September, Assadist and Russian forces have systematically bombed various towns in Idlib. The UN humanitarian agency (OCHA) announced: "Between 1-12 September, available information indicates that a sharp increase in hostilities and fears of further escalation has led to the displacement of over 38,500 people." (8)
While, in the last days, there have been less air strikes on liberated towns in Idlib then before, there is no reason for relief. (9) It is only a question of time until the Assadist and Russian aggressors will start invading Idlib and starting their massacre against the people. (10)
Attack in Two Phases?
There are discussions between the Assadist, Russian, and Iranian officials about an attack on Idlib in two phases. In a first phase the counterrevolutionary forces would focus on conquering the area around Jisr al-Shughour, the al-Ghab plain and the low areas around Jabal al-Zawiya. (The regime-controlled area in Latakia and the Russian military base at Hmeimim have been targeted regularly by rebels from these areas.). Another objective could be to push rebels further away from Hama by seizing the entire southern part of the Idlib pocket up to Maarat al-Numan and a third target might be to clear rebels from the western periphery of Aleppo. (11)
Later, in a second phase, the regime forces would try to conquer the rest of the liberated area. In any case, there is no reason to assume that the aggression against Idlib is about to end.
Currently, after the failure of the meeting between Putin, Rouhani and Erdoğan on 7 September in Teheran, negotiations between Russia and Turkey are continuing. (12) Moscow (in collaboration with Ankara) tries to combine ongoing attacks with attempts to buy-off some factions of the rebels: “Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Friday that Moscow would keep bombing militant targets in Syria’s Idlib Province if need be, but would also open humanitarian corridors to allow civilians to flee, the Interfax news agency reported. Lavrov, who was speaking in Berlin, was cited as saying that the Russian air force would strike what he called terrorist weapons-making facilities as and when it found out about them, but would also encourage local reconciliation deals.” (13)
At the same time, the Putin regime emphasizes that its attempts to annihilate those forces most determined the liberation struggle (the “al-Qaida terrorists”) will continue. Its tactic is the old “divide et imperare” policy which the Roman Empire already deployed with success. At a meeting with his German counterpart Heiko Maas in Berlin, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that there will be no reconciliation offered to the “terrorist forces” like Hay’at Tahrir Al-Sham and the Turkestan Islamic Party.
“We along with our Turkish partners are vigorously working on solving the situation in Idlib in a full accordance with the arrangements which were made during the process of creating the de-escalation zone over there. The arrangements entail the announcement of the ceasefire with one crucial exception – terrorists are not included. No reconciliation, no ceasefire regime includes terrorists. (...) Together with our Turkish partners who cooperate in a very constructive manner on this issue we facilitate local arrangements between the units of the moderate opposition and the government forces, the same way as we did in the other de-escalation zones when they existed. We also encourage the creation of humanitarian corridors, safe zones for the civilians.” (14)
Turkey Reluctantly Collaborates with Russian Imperialism
While the Erdoğan regime wants to avoid a bloodbath as a result of a full assault of the Assadist/Russian/Iranian forces, it is determined to advance the liquidation of the Syrian Revolution. (15) The main interests of Ankara are:
a) avoiding a new wave of Syrian refugees coming to Turkey,
b) suppressing the struggle of the Kurdish people for national self-determination
c) achieving a pacification of the situation in North Syria (i.e. the liquidation of the Syrian Revolution) and,
d) achieving stable relations with Russian imperialism as well as the regional powers (like Iran). (16)
For this reason the Erdoğan regime is willing to collaborate with Assad and Putin in attempts to eliminate the most determined forces of the liberation struggle against the Assad tyranny (like HTS, TIP, HaD, etc.). Ankara recently declared the HTS as a “terrorist organization” (as Russia, Iran and the USA did before).
Of course, open attempts of the Turkish army to military smash the HTS and allied forces would be very risky for Ankara. First, it would be very difficult given the military strength and the popular support of the HTS. Secondly, it would massively damage Turkey’s reputation not only among the Syrian people but in the whole Muslim world. Hence, until now, Ankara has focused its attempts to smash the HTS on a) encouraging and supporting pro-Turkish FSA factions to attack HTS and b) a systematic campaign of assassinations against HTS commanders and militants.
Nevertheless, given the present economic crisis in Turkey and the deterioration of its relations with US imperialism, the Erdoğan regime is likely to comply with Russia’s request. On 14 September, Turkey's Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said:
“’We are making an effort for a ceasefire in Idlib,” he said, repeating Turkey’s call for targeted operations against jihadist militants, including the Tahrir al-Sham alliance, instead of an indiscriminate onslaught. ‘We are ready to cooperate with everyone to fight terrorist organizations. But killing everyone – civilians, women, children – like this in the name of fighting terrorist organizations is not right and is not humane,’ he said on a visit to Pakistan.” (17)
In other words, the liberations fighters in Idlib must prepare for a full-blown attack by the Assadist and Russian forces while taking precautions against a stab in the back by the Turkish forces or their local allies. An unbelievable difficult and challenging task!
International Solidarity with the Revolutionary People in Idlib!
As we have stated many times, large sectors of the international reformist and centrist left shamefully fail to stand on the side of the Syrian workers and peasants fighting for freedom. Instead, most Stalinists, left social democrats and centrists either support the counterrevolutionary Assad regime and its Russian imperialist backers or they stand aside and take a neutral position in face of the ongoing against the Syrian people. (18)
The RCIT repeats its call to the workers and popular mass organizations around the world to rally in support of the Syrian people! Defend Idlib, the last citadel of the Syrian Revolution, against the impending annihilation by the barbaric counter-revolution! Oppose any sellout and any “reconciliation deal”! Denounce the interference and aggression of all imperialist Great Powers in Syria! (19) 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!
* Defend Idlib! Defeat the Assadist, Russian and Iranian forces!
* Oppose any sellout and any “reconciliation deal”!
* 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!
Collection of Videos of the Mass Demonstrations in Idlib on 14 September 2018:
https://twitter.com/i/status/1040641898476654599 (A Syrian woman speaking in English)
https://twitter.com/i/status/1040566517224615937 (OGN’s Bilal Abdul Kareem in English)
(1) In the province of Idlib, the largest rallies were held in Idlib city, Kafr Takharim, Maarat al-Numaan, Ariha, Jisr al-Shughur, Saraqib, Binnish, Khan Sheikhoun, Harem, Salqin, Darkoush, Taftanaz, and Kafr Nabl; in Hama, notable demonstrations were held in Qalaat al-Madiq, Qustoun, Shir Maghar, Kafr Zita, Al-Lataminah, and Morek; in Aleppo, notable demonstrations were held in Al-Atarib, Al-Bab, Azaz, Atme, Marea, Jarabulus, Dabiq, Akhtarin, Qabasin, Darat Izza, Afrin, and Jinderes. (Joško Barić: Syrian War Daily – 14th of September 2018, https://syrianwardaily.com/2018/09/14/syrian-war-daily-14th-of-september-2018/)
(2) See on this e.g. RCIT: Syria: Another Chemical Attack Massacre by the Assad Regime! 09.04.2018, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/africa-and-middle-east/another-chemical-attack-massacre-by-syrian-assad-regime/; Johannes Moraga: Syria: Was the Chemical Attack a “False Flag” Operation? 14 April 2017, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/africa-and-middle-east/syria-false-flag/; RCIT: Out on the Streets to Protest against the Chemical Weapons Massacre by the Assad Regime! 5 April 2017, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/africa-and-middle-east/cw-massacre-in-idlib/
(3) A longer video from this rally can be viewed here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BPSTXKGtc6A&feature=youtu.be
(4) On the Zenki gang see e.g. Michael Pröbsting: Syria: Turkey's hidden war against HTS in Idlib. On the character of the military offensive of Nour al-Din al-Zenki and Ahrar al-Sham against Hayyat Tahrir al-Sham,25.02.2018, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/africa-and-middle-east/turkey-s-hidden-war-against-hts-in-idlib/; Michael Pröbsting: Syria/Idlib: The Attack of the Astana Conspirators could be repelled thus far. Turkey’s allies Nour al-Din al-Zenki and Ahrar al-Sham continue their aggression against Hayyat Tahrir al-Sham. This represents a mortal danger for the Syrian Revolution! 05.03.2018, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/africa-and-middle-east/syria-idlib-the-attack-of-the-astana-conspirators-could-be-repelled-thus-far/)
(5) On the RCIT’s assessment of the Astana deal see e.g.: Michael Pröbsting: Syrian Revolution: The Moment of Truth is Approaching! Rally to defend the Syrian Revolution against the Imperialist conspiracy called the "Astana Deal"! 20.09.2017, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/africa-and-middle-east/syria-moment-of-truth-approaching/; RCIT: Syria: Defend Idlib against the Great Powers! Down with the reactionary Astana Deal! Defend the Revolution against the butcher Assad, against Russian and US Imperialism and the local Allies! Victory to the Struggle of the Workers and Oppressed! 04.08.2017, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/africa-and-middle-east/defend-idlib-against-great-powers/; Michael Pröbsting: Syria: The Astana-Deal Struggle Intensifies. Some Notes on Recent Developments in the Syrian Civil War and the Dangers for the Liberation Struggle, 28 July 2017, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/africa-and-middle-east/syrian-revolution-28-7-2017/; RCIT: 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, 7 May 2017, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/africa-and-middle-east/astana-deal/; 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, https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/syrian-revolution-not-dead/ and 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/.
(6) We have elaborated our characterization of HTS in a number of articles and statements which are collected in a special section of our website: https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/africa-and-middle-east/collection-of-articles-on-the-syrian-revolution/. In particular we refer to RCIT: Denounce the US terror listing of Syria’s Hayyat Tahrir al-Sham! The Trump Administration delivers another blow to the Syrian Revolution. Continue the Solidarity with the liberation struggle of the Syrian people! 03.06.2018, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/africa-and-middle-east/denounce-the-us-terror-listing-of-syria-s-hts/ Michael Pröbsting: Syria/Idlib: The Attack of the Astana Conspirators could be repelled thus far, 05.03.2018, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/africa-and-middle-east/syria-idlib-the-attack-of-the-astana-conspirators-could-be-repelled-thus-far/; chapter V of Michael Pröbsting: World Perspectives 2018, https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/worldperspectives-2018/chapter-v/.
(7) See e.g. the RCIT proposal for a short program: 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, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/africa-and-middle-east/draft-syria-platform/
(8) Fears for Idlib as UN says 38,500 have fled Syrian province in past fortnight, 13 September 2018 https://www.middleeasteye.net/news/un-says-38500-have-fled-hostilities-syrias-idlib-past-two-weeks-1325558385
(9) See e.g. Mariya Petkova & Umut Uras: Rebels, Turkey prepared for battle, but assault could be delayed. While Syrian forces and rebels step up preparations for battle for Idlib, sources say all-out attack may not start soon, 2018-09-11 https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/09/rebels-turkey-prepared-battle-assault-delayed-180910170306007.html
(10) See 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/
(11) Fabrice Balanche: Round One of Idlib Campaign May Target Turkish-Backed Rebels, PolicyWatch 3014, September 11, 2018 https://www.washingtoninstitute.org/policy-analysis/view/round-one-of-idlib-campaign-may-target-turkish-backed-rebels; see also Syrian regime planning 'phased' offensive on rebel-held Idlib, 30 August, 2018 https://www.alaraby.co.uk/english/news/2018/8/29/syrian-regime-planning-phased-offensive-on-rebel-held-idlib; Syrian army preparing phased Idlib assault – source, 30/08/2018, https://theregion.org/article/13049-syrian-army-preparing-phased-idlib-assault-source;
(12) Michael Pröbsting: Erdoğan Offers “My Dear Friend” Putin to Disarm the Syrian Revolution. Mass demonstrations demand continuation of the struggle against the Assad tyranny as the counterrevolutionary forces prepare for a frontal assault on Idlib, 08.09.2018, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/africa-and-middle-east/erdogan-offers-putin-to-disarm-the-syrian-revolution/
(13) Russia says will keep bombing Syria's Idlib if need be: Ifax, September 14, 2018 https://www.reuters.com/article/us-mideast-crisis-syria-russia-idlib/russia-says-will-keep-bombing-syrias-idlib-if-need-be-ifax-idUSKCN1LU1RE
(14) Russia says ‘no reconciliation’ with terrorists in Idlib, 15. September 2018, https://mobile.almasdarnews.com/article/russia-says-no-reconciliation-with-terrorists-in-idlib/
(15) See e.g. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan: The World Must Stop Assad. If the Syrian regime attacks Idlib, the result will be a humanitarian and geopolitical disaster, Wall Street Journal, Sept. 10, 2018 https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-world-must-stop-assad-1536614148
(16) See on this 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/. See also RCIT: Syria: No to Turkey’s Attack on Afrin! Defend the Syrian Revolution against Annihilation! The Syrian Revolution must reject sectarianism and strive to create multinational unity among Arabs, Turks and Kurds! Rally all forces against the Assadist-Iranian-Russian Aggression in Idlib! 22.01.2018, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/africa-and-middle-east/no-to-turkey-s-attack-on-afrin/; Michael Pröbsting: Syria: The Turkish-Russian Invasion against Idlib has begun! All out to defend the Syrian Revolution against the Astana Conspirators! For an anti-Assad, anti-imperialist and anti-capitulationist united front, 07.10.2017, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/africa-and-middle-east/the-turkish-russian-invasion-against-idlib-has-begun/; RCIT: No military intervention by Turkey/NATO in Syria! Victory to the workers and peasants uprising in Syria against the reactionary Assad dictatorship! 6.10.2012, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/africa-and-middle-east/no-turkish-war-against-syria/
(17) Humeyra Pamuk, Tom Perry: Turkey talking to all sides in Syria conflict for Idlib ceasefire, September 14, 2018, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-mideast-crisis-syria/turkey-talking-to-all-sides-in-syria-conflict-for-idlib-ceasefire-idUSKCN1LU22A
(18) 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/
(19) See e.g. 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/; 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/
Map of Faction in Idlib, 10 September 2018 (20)