The following is an interview with Adel Omar, from the foreign bureau of the Syrian Communist Party-Bakdash. The interview was conducted following an international peace conference held in Istanbul and Antakya, Turkey, April 25-28 and was published in the May issue of the Communist Party of Turkey’s monthly publication. The translation from Turkish is by Liberation News.
Can you describe the position of the Syrian Communist Party toward the imperialist aggression against Syria?
First and foremost, as the Syrian Communist Party, we believe that the course of events in Syria is neither a revolution nor a civil war. It is very clear that what has been taking place in Syria has been in accordance with the imperialist plans. It is not possible for us to define a process where NATO has been involved as a revolution. Besides, it is not the case that different sectors of the people of Syria are fighting one another. On the contrary, our people are resisting the imperialist forces together.
It is true that the people of Syria have demands and needs that need to be met, but the way to achieve this is not through destroying everything that belongs to the state of Syria. At the moment, our country is under attack, and achieving unity among the people to defend our homeland is what needs to be done first. At this point, we think it is especially crucial for the government to respond to the demands and the needs of the people. In order to be able to establish a solid resistance front against the imperialist attack, we believe a top priority for the government is to provide for the basic needs of the people, including food and medicine. Only then can the struggle of the people against imperialism be unrelenting.
It can be said that the Assad government partially backed off from its neoliberal tendencies once the imperialist attack against Syria got going. What does the Syrian Communist Party think of the policies of the Assad government? Do you think that the recent changes in their policies are satisfactory?
When we evaluate the 10-year period before the aggression toward Syria, we see that the Syrian government made grave mistakes in the economic area. By choosing neoliberal economic policies, it opened the Syrian market to foreign imports, especially Turkish and Qatari products. As a result, hundreds of factories and workshops shut down and millions of workers lost their jobs.
In fact, there was not a substantial change in these neoliberal policies when the imperialist intervention started. As the Syrian CP, we think that the adoption of these neoliberal economic policies was a fatal mistake. We believe that the solution needs to start by putting an end to these policies.
In addition, a war is going on in Syria. We are facing multifaceted and serious problems. It is important to realize that it is not only the Syrian army that is resisting against the imperialist-backed foreign forces. Ordinary Syrians are also fighting. It would not have been possible for the army to resist for two years against such an assault otherwise.
With this in mind, it is critical that the government support the people through economic policies in order for the popular resistance to be able to survive. But, unfortunately, it is difficult to say that the government realizes this fact even now. They more or less continue with the neoliberal policies. As the Syrian CP, we believe the biggest risk factor for the Syrian resistance is the economy.
Do the terrorist groups operating under the umbrella of the so-called Free Syrian Army target the Syrian Communist Party or similar groups of the resistance?
Yes, of course, and this is not an exceptional situation. The terrorist groups were behind a series of attacks targeting us including the bombing of our central office in Damascus. When they attacked our central office, they were not able to score a direct hit, but the building next to us was heavily damaged.
In Aleppo, the terrorist groups attacking the area of Sheikh Maksoud, which is mainly Kurdish, have primarily targeted the homes of Communist Party members. Unfortunately, three female comrades were murdered in these attacks. There are many other members who were targeted but were saved by luck since they were not home at the time of these attacks.
We are going through a war that though difficult and serious at times cannot be taken lightly. But we are determined to continue with our struggle. To begin with, in imperialist attacks toward a homeland, history shows us that the communists have primary responsibility for resisting and organizing this resistance. As Syrian communists, the duty to struggle for our homeland lies first and foremost on our shoulders. This is our responsibility.
Secondly, we cannot imagine any future in Syria but a victorious one. We have no other choice but victory. With that in mind, you can be sure that we will do our utmost to keep up our end. It is only natural that such determination would be targeted by the terrorists. It is normal.
Are there any communists or left forces that are in dialogue, or stand in solidarity, with you in the other Arab countries that have been subjected to imperialist attacks?
To answer the question frankly, even if there are diplomatic relations that go on at a particular level, it is difficult to say that there is solidarity among us. When our situation in Syria is taken into account, I can say that we need an attitude of solidarity that is more than a “message of goodwill” by this or that party.
To give you a concrete example, we need concrete steps of solidarity like the recent conference in Istanbul that was organized by the Peace Association of Turkey and our comrades of the Communist Party of Turkey. We valued this undertaking immensely. This is why I have been here in Turkey for days. Given the reality that people living in other parts of the world do not have access to honest news about Syria, the conference in Istanbul gave us a great opportunity to tell what is really going on in Syria, to put this on the agenda of the international movements in the right way, to achieve a clarity of approach and to move forward together. This is very valuable.
It is clear that similar conferences need to be held in other cities around the world. Forums of this sort not only help increase the support and understanding of the struggle of the people of Syria, but they also energize us. I need to say that in the struggle we are waging in Syria, we have been left alone. There are 22 Arab countries, and no events in solidarity with the Syrian people have been organized in the capitals of these countries. Yet we have been resisting for two years and we will continue until the end.
How have the events in Syria affected your organizing? Do you think that there are new opportunities for strengthening the party?
History shows us that struggles against imperialism and fascism increase the value and respectability of the communist parties in the eyes of the people. This was the case for the Soviets in their defense of the motherland, and the same in Greece or France. Communists were at the forefront, organizing the resistance of the people for the defense of their motherland. This is the case for us as well.
If we consider our position in Syria, the Syrian Communist Party is a strong organization with more than a quarter of a million members. This was already the case before the attacks. In this regard, the Syrian society is an organized one. With this in mind, instead of whether we are getting stronger during the crisis, it would be more meaningful to talk about our role in keeping the resistance going as much as it has.
As the cadres and members of the Syrian Communist Party, we are aware of the responsibilities on our shoulders. We appreciate the value of life very much, but we are also acting with the consciousness that we may have to be the first ones to face death for the future of our country. The people of Syria are very dignified. If they have been able to keep the resistance up for two years, our party has a share in this. I have to say that the fact that we are among the people, not simply with them, has played a very important role for the resistance.