A Commentary on the “Astana Process” as a tool of Russian Imperialism as well as on the shared interest of the imperialist powers in liquidating the Syrian Revolution
By Michael Pröbsting, International Secretary of the Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (RCIT), 01.11.2017, www.thecommunists.net
Recently, Russian President Vladimir Putin, spoke at the Valdai International Discussion Club event on 19 October in Sochi. He expressed his optimistic outlook to liquidate the Syrian Revolution and to pacify the country under the control of the bloody Assad regime and his imperialist masters. He said, “There is every reason to believe … we will finish off the terrorists in the short term."
He presented imperialist Russia’s vision of the ongoing “peace effort” (the so-called “Astana process” negotiations in Kazakhstan), and praised the contributions of Iran, Turkey, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Israel. He also spoke highly of the role of the United States: “Other countries, including the United States, are greatly contributing; even though they are not participating in the talks in Astana directly, they are influencing these processes behind the scenes. We maintain stable cooperation with our American partners in this sphere, on this track, even though [we're] not without disputes. However, there are more positive than negative elements in our cooperation.” (1)
In this brief comment, we do not wish to repeat the RCIT’s characterizations of the arch-reactionary Assad dictatorship, of the imperialist nature of both the US as well as the Russian military intervention in Syria or of the fundamental progressive nature of uprising of the Syrian people (despite being led by petty-bourgeois nationalist and Islamist forces). (2)
At this point we confine ourselves to demonstrate, by the example of Putin’s’ quote, the correctness of two important conclusions of us Marxists.
First, a number of supporters of the Syrian FSA claim that the Turkish capitalist regime of Erdoğan follows a policy in the interest of the Syrian Revolution. They claim that Ankara helps the Syrian liberation fighters. The RCIT has always pointed out that this claim is totally wrong. Surely, Erdoğan lent some material support to the liberation fighters in order to gain some influence in the civil war. But such support was always motivated by selfish regional power interests to which the interests of the Syrian people were completely subordinated. For the regime in Ankara, the Syrian liberation fighters are nothing more than pawns in play for power. The primary interest of the regime in Ankara is to keep the Turkish domination over the oppressed Kurdish people and to put down the popular insurgency in Syria.
This is why the Turkish state is participating in the Astana negotiations and is fulfilling its role as an executor of its decision. It is not surprising that Putin is praising Erdoğan role in the Great Powers attempts to liquidate the Syrian Revolution. Erdoğan recently ordered the Turkish Army to move into Idlib – the last large area under the control of the Syrian liberation fighters. By doing this he tries to pressurize the Kurdish PYD/YPG which controls the area around Afrin (in the north of Idlib) as well as to take over Idlib.
This military intervention is part of the Astana deal. As its main goal is to liquidate the Syrian Revolution, the Assad regime as well as the Great Powers and their regional allies must take over control of the whole country so that they can smash all the Syrian liberation forces which refuse to subordinate to the interests of the popular insurgency against the Assad regime under the interests of the Great Power. (3) These forces are currently in particular the petty-bourgeois nationalist-Islamist Hayyat Tharir al-Sham (HTS) as well various independent factions. (4)
This is why Putin praises Erdoğan and this is why authentic supporters of the Syrian Revolution must oppose the Turkish regime and its military intervention in Syria.
However, there is also another interesting aspect in Putin’s speech. As one can see in the above quote, the Russian President also praises the role of US imperialism. He positively refers to its “influencing of the Astana process behind the scenes” and welcomes the “stable cooperation with our American partners in this sphere.” Naturally, such cooperation is “not without disputes”.
Such disputes are not surprising as Russia and the U.S. represents two imperialist Great Powers which are in constant rivalry in the desire to expand their regional influence. While the U.S. has been the hegemonial imperialist power for many decades, this has changed in the last decade with China and Russia emerging as new imperialist powers. (5)
When Russia and the U.S. are in conflict, it is purely because of their rivaling imperialist interests, not because of any principled class differences. They are essentially the same predatory animal.
However, irrespective of this rivalry, the Great Powers share a common interest in putting down popular insurgencies which threaten regional stability and, as a result, endanger stable conditions for the imperialist exploitation of the region. This is why Russia and the US join the strategic goal to smash the Syrian Revolution. Naturally, this is covered with the notorious phraseology about “fighting against terrorism and extremism”. But no sincere person should take such empty phrases seriously.
Every objective observer will immediately recognize the absurdity of these claims. Who are these people who are supposed to save us from “terrorism”? Is it Assad who is responsible for more than 90% of all dead in the Syrian civil war and of at least half a million people in the past 6 years?! (6) Or is it the Russian imperialists who are responsible for the killing of up to 200.000 Chechens and the displacement of many more during the two wars since 1994?! (7) Or is it US imperialism which is responsible for the death of at least one million Iraqis and the displacement of another four million people?! (8)
Putin’s praise for the supportive role of US imperialism in the Astana process demonstrates once more the silliness of the admirers of Assad and Russia. How can they cheer their heroes as a progressive resistance factor against Washington?! Who has forgotten all those muddleheaded theories of these Assadist and Putinist eulogists who fantasized for years that the regime in Damascus would defend “national independence against Western imperialism”?! They spread myths that Washington would control the Syrian rebels, that the US primary interest would be to topple the Assad regime (since the latter was supposed to be “anti-imperialist”), etc. (9)
In fact, Assad helped to transform Syria to a colony of Russian imperialism. Today Washington, Moscow, Teheran and Ankara are all cooperating to pacify and to occupy the country. All the gossip spread by the Assadists was just smokescreen in order to justify their hatred for the uprising of the Syrian people. In fact, the Assadists and Putinists are not “anti-imperialists” but rather pro-Russian social-imperialists.
(1) Anton Mardasov: Moscow eyes working with tribes as its next move in Syria, A-Monitor, October 25, 2017, http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2017/10/russia-work-syria-tribes-next-more-putin.html; see also Taha Abed Al-Wahed and Kamal Sheikho: Putin Outlines his Vision for Syria Solution, 2017-10-20, https://english.aawsat.com/taha-abed-al-wahed-and-kamal-sheikho/news-middle-east/putin-outlines-vision-syria-solution
(2) See on this the collection of the numerous documents and articles of the RCIT on the Syrian Revolution which can be accessed at the link below.
(3) For an overview of our view of the developments in the Syrian civil war in the past weeks we refer readers to the following articles of Michael Pröbsting: The Revelations of a U.S. General on Washington’s Allies in Syria. Another Blow to the Stalinist Myths about the Character of Syrian Liberation Fighters and the Role of the Kurdish SDF/YPG, 27.10.2017, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/africa-and-middle-east/revelations-of-u-s-general-on-washington-s-allies-in-syria/; Syria: Assad's Army and ISIS Act Hand in Hand against the Liberation Forces. Assad's Republican Guard marches undisturbed through the Daesh/ISIS pocket in North Hama so that it can attack the free Syrian areas in the North), 25.10.2017, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/africa-and-middle-east/assad-s-army-and-isis-act-hand-in-hand-against-the-liberation-forces/; Russia’s Air Force supports Daesh against Syrian Liberation Fighters. Another instructive episode how Russian imperialism helps Daesh/ISIS to attack the Liberation Forces in the North of Syria, 23.10.2017, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/africa-and-middle-east/russia-s-air-force-supports-daesh-against-syrian-liberation-fighters/; Syria: A Very Instructive Episode. Counterrevolutionary ISIS/Daesh collaborates with Assad’s Army (as well as Erdoğan and Putin) in Attacking the Syrian Liberation Fighters in Idlib, 10.10.2017, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/africa-and-middle-east/a-very-instructive-episode-in-syria/; 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/
(4) For an analysis of the contradictory nature of the petty-bourgeois Syrian liberation forces we refer reader, among others, to the following pamphlet: 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/
(5) For the RCIT’s analysis of China and Russia as emerging imperialist powers, we refer readers to our numerous studies and documents which can be accessed from a special section of our website: https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/china-russia-as-imperialist-powers/
(6) See on this e.g. OGN Research Staff and Bilal Abdul Kareem: Civilian Casualties vs Terror Narrative, OGN News, April 14, 2017, http://ogn.news/ccn/
(7) See on this e.g. Russian-Chechen Friendship Society: Civil and military casualties of the wars in Chechnya, https://archive.is/20070821154629/http://www.hrvc.net/htmls/references.htm. See also: RCIT: Where does the RCIT Stand on Russia's Occupation of Chechnya? https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/russia-and-chechnya/; Freedom for Chechnya! Down with Russian Imperialism! For a Workers and Peasants Republic! A Video Statement by Michael Pröbsting, 06 August 2017, https://www.thecommunists.net/multimedia-1/freedom-for-chechnya/.
(8) See on this e.g. Larry Everest: 10 Years Later, U.S. Legacy in Iraq: Death, Disease, Devastation, Displacement, Global Research, March 26, 2013, http://www.globalresearch.ca/10-years-later-u-s-legacy-in-iraq-death-disease-devastation-displacement/5328530. See also Yossi Schwartz: Down With the New Imperialist Attack on Iraq and Syria! The Renewal of the Imperialist War and the Tasks of the Workers Movement, 2.10.2014, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/africa-and-middle-east/us-war-in-iraq-and-syria/
(9) See on this e.g. Yossi Schwartz: The Myth of Assad’s Syria as an Anti-Imperialist Regime, November 2013, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/africa-and-middle-east/myth-of-assad-s-anti-imperialism/
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For the RCIT’s analysis of the Syrian Revolution, we refer readers to our numerous articles and documents which can be accessed at a special section on our website: https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/africa-and-middle-east/collection-of-articles-on-the-syrian-revolution/