Syria and the return of the pro regime change left

Remember the antiwar left’s position when it came to regime change in Iraq, a country which you will recall was ruled by a dictator who had ruled it with an iron fist for decades and who had proved ruthless in crushing any and all dissent to his leadership whenever and wherever it arose? Yet despite this, and even though Saddam had launched invasions against two of his neighbours, Iran and Kuwait, the left refused to budge an inch from a position of firm opposition to the war that was about to be a unleashed, understanding it as a cynical and transparent attempt to use the terrorist atrocity of 9/11 to reshape the Middle East and cement US hegemony throughout the region.

You remember that, don’t you?

You will also recall how we warned of the devastating and grievous consequences if the war went ahead; the fact it would result in a brutal and bloody civil conflict, lead to sectarian violence, the proliferation of terrorism, and societal collapse.

And we were right. And they were wrong. And they’ve been wrong ever since. And we’ve been right ever since.

By ‘they’ I’m not just referring to our own governments and their apologists and bag carriers btw. I am also referring to the pro regime left – the Eustonites, the Decents, the swivel eyed supporters of Western military intervention, believing it heralded a new Enlightenment, bringing civilisation and democracy to the benighted Arab masses. Think Hitchens, think Aaronovitch, think Cohen…their names will forever conjure up the word patsy.

Well sadly first the Libyan conflict and now the Syrian conflict has seen more names added to the aforementioned roll of dishonour. Richard Seymour, he of Lenin’s Tomb, has clearly gone all Guardianista native, joined by his American co thinker, Louis Proyect, who runs a discussion list, Marxmail, for embittered white leftists.

They want us to believe – employing the usual intellectual contortions in the process – that because, presumably unlike Saddam, Bashar al-Assad is ‘killing his own people’, and because, presumably unlike in Iraq, there is popular opposition to his regime, that the left should support regime change in Syria.

Finding a revolution in Syria today would be harder than finding Shergar. In fact, it would be impossible to find a revolution in Syria right now using the Hubble Space Telescope. Claims there is one have zero basis in reality – that’s zero, nada – yet regardless Seymour and Proyect et al. refuse to budge.

Just as the US and its allies used 9/11 as a pretext to go into Iraq, they have used the chaos and dislocation of the Arab Spring to topple more regimes. But while they may have succeeded when it comes to Libya, regime change in Syria has hit the buffers. The Syrian government and Syrian Arab Army have proved too strong to be overcome to easily. The army has not disintegrated, as it most certainly would have by now given the duration and intensity of the conflict if the government did not enjoy solid support among the Syrian people. In the latter stages of the conflict involving as it has levels of butchery and barbarism not seen since Cambodia in the 1970s, the stakes have been raised to involve not just the survival of Assad but of Syria itself, given the intent of ISIS and others to turn it into a mass grave.

Now, with Russia’s intervention, the West’s claims to be attacking ISIS have been exposed as a sham. In fact it has been reduced to the role of spectator as the Russians take over the international leadership role in the struggle against this modern equivalent of the Khmer Rouge. What we are witnessing in the process is a multipolar world is being born, which for the pro regime change left is of course a source of anguish and agony.

Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya…how many countries need to enter the abyss before the penny drops with these fakes? All we can say is that this democracy medicine they’ve been taking must be some strong shit if it leads to the kind of blurred vision with which they’ve been surveying events in Syria.

One can only hope they’re not driving.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

48 comments on “Syria and the return of the pro regime change left

  1. Spirited polemic there John.

    Strong claims you make. So, it’s incumbent on you to evidence, who on the left has directly said: I want to see Western forces militarily remove the Assad regime in Syria and replace it with another in a manner akin to Sadam’s Iraq in 2003. No, no, no, don’t give me ‘well indirectly’, don’t say ‘well by implication’; it isn’t acceptable to say ‘the logic of their position is…’. Who has said, with direct quotes, that they favour external military intervention to replace the government of Bashir Assad in Syria?

  2. The formerly united anti-war left, on the other hand, is split down the middle on Syria now, with some imagining that Russian bombing will do some good and deserves support, and others reckoning that it is likely only to make a bad situation even worse.

  3. Karl Stewart on said:

    Agree with you on the substantive points you’re making John. But have to say I haven’t seen anything from Richard Seymour on this subject. There’s nothing about it on his ‘Lenin’s Tomb’ site. Have you got a link to something?

    As for the other person you mention, Louis Proyect, I really don’t think anyone’s really heard of him.

    I do think there’s some pretty unbelievable shite coming from MSM on this though, desperately trying to argue the NATO line against Russia’s intervention, but pathetically failing to put together any kind of coherent argument as to what exactly is wrong with what Russia is doing.

    Russia is carrying out a sustained military assault on al-Qaeda and ISIS attempts to overthrow a sovereign, secular government, a government recognised under international law as the legitimate government, a government fully recognised as such by the UN, and to which Russia has formal treaty obligations, and at the urgent request of that government.

    The forces attempting to overthrow this government are the same forces that carried out the 2001 attacks on New York and Washington and the same forces that carried out the 2005 attacks on London, and yet the USA state is providing these forces with practical, material military assistance, and the UK Prime Minister and the UK MSM is providing these forces with political and diplomatic support.

    It is frankly, mad.

  4. Karl Stewart: I haven’t seen anything from Richard Seymour on this subject. There’s nothing about it on his ‘Lenin’s Tomb’ site. Have you got a link to something?

    As for the other person you mention, Louis Proyect, I really don’t think anyone’s really heard of him.

    Yes, I should have provided a little context. Seymour wrote a long critique of my previous piece on SU regarding the conflict and Proyect, his amanuensis, put it up on his own blog. Myself and others subsequently had a very good debate with Proyect and Richard on FB.

    Here is the link to Louis Proyect’s post of Richard’s critique on his blog http://louisproyect.org/2015/10/07/richard-seymour-on-john-wight/

  5. On Richard Seymour generally, I have a lot of respect for him despite disagreeing with him on many things. He is undoubtedly insightful, sharp, and knowledgeable on a variety of issues. He is a serious thinker and consistently challenging.

    Also, anyone who succeeds in constantly pissing off James Bloodworth can’t be a bad sort.

    On this, though, I believe he has seriously lost his way.

  6. Karl Stewart on said:

    John,
    Cheers for the link John, I’ll take a look.

    I also quite like most of Seymour’s stuff generally speaking.

  7. Karl Stewart on said:

    redhand,
    Some mobile phone footage of small groups of men firing off automatic firearms and repeatedly shouting what sounds like “Allah akbar”…and your point is?

  8. John Grimshaw on said:

    Sam64:
    Spirited polemic there John.

    Strong claims you make.So, it’s incumbent on you to evidence, who on the left has directly said: I want to see Western forces militarily remove the Assad regime in Syria and replace it with another in a manner akin to Sadam’s Iraq in 2003.No, no, no, don’t give me ‘well indirectly’, don’t say ‘well by implication’; it isn’t acceptable to say ‘the logic of their position is…’.Who has said, with direct quotes, that they favour external military intervention to replace the government of Bashir Assad in Syria?

    I have searched every left web site that I know, and that’s a few sadly, and I can find no-one calling for Western military intervention. With the possible exception of that stupid HP blog, but I suspect they’re some kind of state covert operation anyway. Francis King above is correct though there are those on the left who want to support Assad, those who are against Assad but also Western involvement and those who just say stop the war.

  9. John Grimshaw: I can find no-one calling for Western military intervention.

    You wouldn’t find it when it came to Libya either, but Western backed regime change was the logical conclusion for their support for a ‘revolution’ that could only have succeeded with the West’s support.

    You think there’s a revolution in Syria? Seriously? There was never was a revolution in either Libya or Syria. What there were is uprisings, both of which failed the test of popular support required to make qualify them as revolutions.

    Western backed and sponsored regime change toppled Gaddafi and it is behind the attempt to topple Assad in Syria.

  10. John Grimshaw on said:

    John: You wouldn’t find it when it came to Libya either, but Western backed regime change is what was the logical conclusion for their support for a ‘revolution’ that could only have succeeded with the West’s support.

    You think there’s a revolution in Syria? Seriously? There was never was a revolution in either Libya or Syria. What there were is uprisings, both of which failed the test of popular support required to make qualify them as revolutions.

    Western backed and sponsored regime change toppled Gaddafi and it is behind the attempt to topple Assad in Syria.

    I thought recently we agreed we were going to try an be more nuanced John. The fact remains that the vast majority of the British Left (such as it is) is against Western Military intervention. I haven’t checked other Lefts in Europe etc. The fact that Western military intervention is taking place of course is a sign of our weakness. The issue here is rather the characterisation of the Assad regime and the opposition that arose originally as a protest movement. Not a revolution? well I would agree in that it wasn’t like that of the Bolsheviks in 1917, but was it a positive thing? Initially? My view is that it was strong enough to cause trouble for the Assad regime but not strong enough to move in a revolutionary direction. Never the less when it first took place I saw it with some enthusiasm. As you well know there are strong sectarian issues in Syria which have benefitted Assad. And now of course we have the appalling ISIS or whatever. Undoubtedly the West is backing multiple sides and now the Russians are involved, which makes the whole thing even more messy. However I think the original uprising as you say (lets call it that because I think a “real” revolution is when the self aware working class attempt to abolish capitalism) was made by mostly honest people who were fed up with Assad’s brutality. That things since have degenerated is a truism. In a shooting war people tend to lose sight of where they started especially when their families are being murdered. I find your absolute support for Assad quite strange.

  11. John Grimshaw: I thought recently we agreed we were going to try an be more nuanced John

    Nuance to you is lack of clarity to me, John. It is revolution as a parlour game rather than an attempt to understand the trajectory of a region in the throes of a Western/Saudi driven counter revolutionary process, unleashed on the back of the Arab Spring.

    John Grimshaw: The fact remains that the vast majority of the British Left (such as it is) is against Western Military intervention.

    That may the case in theory, but when it comes to their lack of clarity when it comes to the events being discussed and debated, they have fallen into the trap of sticking rigidly to an analysis they have held since the Egyptian Revolution of 2011.

    John Grimshaw: I find your absolute support for Assad quite strange.

    My support is not for Assad. My support is for the people who are for Assad, the conscious working class who understood early on that Syria’s survival, and with it their own, is at stake, and that while under normal circumstances they may wish to see political transition and reform, delivering their country into the abyss is not the way to achieve it.

    Syria does not exist in isolation. Events in Libya, Iraq, and Syria’s tradition of resistance and opposition to an axis of Western/Israeli/and Saudi intrigue has long made regime change in Damascus a priority in their eyes.

    The class conscious Syrian people know and understand this, which is why they have remained lock solid behind their govt even after four and a half years of the most brutal and intense conflict of modern times.

  12. Picture John as a serious Edinburgh school master, complete with cape, mortar board and pointed stick in front of a bunch of dullards, the left.

    Turning to the blackboard, ‘The fundamental error of the left’, he gravely intones, ‘Is that they do not follow this equation that I have devised in relation to the Syrian problem’. It is perfectly simple ‘First take “a lack of a full blown and immediate revolution in Syria 2011”. Add “the beginning of failure of entire Arab Spring”. Further, and this is crucial, insert “the contemporaneous Western involvement in Libya” and the “the rise of the savages – ISIL and other jihadists”. The outcome of this simple calculation is blindingly obvious. It equals “The regime of Bashir Assad has the backing of the Syrian masses and deserves our fulsome support”. Moreover, it is as clear as day that a logical corollary of this calculation is “the uncritical support for the increasing Russian military intervention”. And yet, and yet you, through the failure of the Left to accept this obvious calculus they point to such secondary matters as the mass killings of the regime that have no place in a valid calculation. Through such shallow moralism they objectively arrive at a position where they call for Western intervention to topple the Assad regime in a manner analogous to Sadam in Iraq!’.

    A hand is raised and voice asks meekly from the back. ‘Please sir, but can you show us somewhere where anybody on the left said that they wish to see Western intervention and regime change?’. ‘Don’t be ridiculous, no evidence is required!’, John thunders in reply, ‘It is perfectly obvious from my calculation that this is exactly what they want!’.

  13. This rather silly article kicks off with a deliberate misunderstanding regarding ‘regime change’, which in the case of Iraq was used a pretext for imperialist intervention and aggression. That doesn’t mean that socialists are against regime change if it comes from below and is a genuine expression of justified discontent with an oppressive regime. The early protests against Assad fall into this category, and it is simplistic in the extreme to suggest that it was purely a case of outside manipulation.

    The fact that there were no secular, progressive forces able to give expression to that discontent does not invalidate the right of people to protest against the regime, irrespective of whether or not the gangsters who run it are at odds with western interests in the region. It’s a tragedy that the Arab Spring could not develop into a new politics that could point the way to a better life for people.

    So we’re left with debating who is more horrendous, Assad or ISIS. I can understand repugnance at the brutality and backwardness of ISIS leading some, in desperation, to cheer on Russian bombing. But let’s be honest, it is borne of desperation. It is more than likely to lead to an even worse mess, or at best will leave a dictator in charge, cynically propped up by Russia for its own geopolitical interests. It would better to be honest and acknowledge that, rather than dress i up in uncritical cheerleading that suggests that the emancipation of the Arab working class is the act of Vladimir Putin and his local pet despots.

  14. Louis Proyect on said:

    In fact the USA had been bombing ISIS for more than a year while Russia is bombing the rebels who are opposed to both ISIS and Assad. If you don’t believe me, just ask the Kurds who thanked the USA for helping them resist ISIS at Kobane:

    On October 17, 2014 Business Insider described how the PYD and US-led warplanes worked closely together to smash ISIS:

    US-led warplanes pummelled jihadists attacking the Syrian town of Kobani on Friday as the Pentagon said there was no imminent threat to Baghdad despite a wave of deadly bombings.

    Six strikes hit Islamic State group positions close to the front line in the east of Kobani, taking advantage of new coordination with the town’s Kurdish defenders, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

    In neighboring Iraq, sandstorms hampered the US-led air campaign against the jihadists, but despite recent advances west of Baghdad, IS is not poised for an assault on the capital, the Pentagon said.

    The dawn strikes in Kobani came after US Central Command said American warplanes struck 14 times around the town on Wednesday and Thursday, including “successful” raids on 19 IS-held buildings.

    “There is coordination between the Kurdish forces and the Americans,” Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP.

    “The Kurds are giving them the exact coordinates of where the fighting is.”

    Having stated that, I am opposed to all outside intervention–either American or Russian, Iranian or Hizbollah. The Syrian rebels would have been better off if the USA had never given them a single bullet if at the same time it kept the CIA from blocking the shipment of weapons that could have likely brought the war to an end 2 years ago, long before the emergence of ISIS:

    Wall Street Journal, October 17, 2012

    U.S. officials say they are most worried about Russian-designed Manpads provided to Libya making their way to Syria. The U.S. intensified efforts to track and collect man-portable missiles after the 2011 fall of the country’s longtime strongman leader, Moammar Gadhafi.

    To keep control of the flow of weapons to the Syrian rebels, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar formed a joint operations room early this year in a covert project U.S. officials watched from afar.

    The U.S. has limited its support of the rebels to communications equipment, logistics and intelligence. But U.S. officials have coordinated with the trio of countries sending arms and munitions to the rebels. The Pentagon and CIA ramped up their presence on Turkey’s southern border as the weapons began to flow to the rebels in two to three shipments every week.

    In July, the U.S. EFFECTIVELY HALTED the delivery of at least 18 Manpads sourced from Libya, even as the rebels pleaded for more effective antiaircraft missiles to counter regime airstrikes in Aleppo, people familiar with that delivery said [emphasis added].

    “We were told that we need to get our house in order on the ground, and that it wasn’t time yet,” said a rebel representative involved in the delivery.

  15. I am genuinely at a loss about Syria and what is appropriate to support there. But it seems highly unfair to accuse Seymour and company of doing a “Hitchens” when he is opposing Russian as well as American military intervention. Opposing military intervention as a matter of principle is not a shift to neo-con views. As I said, I am genuinely at a loss on this, because I generally oppose military intervention in another country by any other government, but I feel that the evil of ISIS may require a loosening of those principles. Polemical excess is not helpful I think.

  16. redhand on said:

    #10

    “…repeatedly shouting what sounds like “Allah akbar”…”

    Keep blowing that dog whistle.

  17. Our first responsibility is to stop the British government engaging with its military machine in this conflict. Secondly, we should be campaigning for Britain to disengage with the Saudi regime and the other regional despotic regimes in the ambit of the West.
    The resolution of class contradictions in any of the countries in the region cannot proceed with any hope of a favourable outcome for working people while the sectarian dividing line obscures other factors.
    This goes for Iran, Iraq, Syria, Yemen and Lebanon as much as the oil satraps of British and US imperialism.
    I can see the reasoning behind John Wight’s approach. Undoubtedly some progress will be made in checkmating the military progress of forces like ISIS and the other reactionary forces backed by regional powers like Quatar, Turkey, Saudi Arabia etc and the USA in their conflict with the secular government of Syria.
    But we should be careful. The resolution of this bundle of contradictions is as likely to be made more complicated by the Russian effort, even if successful.
    At their heart these are political problems and military solutions are only effective if they dovetail with a winning political strategy.
    If the Syrian regime has such a strategy it needs to be rolled out sooner rather than later. If a speedy resolution is hastened by the success of this military campaign, which must be more effective with the additional resources Russia is able to supply, so much the better.
    This drama cannot be reduced to a beauty contest between the Syrian regime and the other regional powers. If it was to be Assad would be only the less ugly of the contestants.
    In essence it is a series of sometimes contradictory strategies played out by imperialism for quite concrete objectives which include suborning such regimes as resist imperialism, even if, like Syria and Iran, in contradictory ways; in securing oil and gas, in isolating Russia and China.
    We are not required to be cheerleaders for any side and most especially we should not allow ourselves to be keyboard warriors for any Western military adventures. Once that door is opened we are all liable to be on parade at Harry’s Place

  18. Mike Phipps on said:

    Strong whiff of Russian state propaganda in the semi-penultimate paragraph. Russian bombs are a fact, as are the bombs of the other ten countries now pounding Syria. Whether they are doing any real damage to Isis – as opposed to the usual innocent civilians caught up in the conflict – is entirely a matter of opinion. My views at greater length here http://l-r-c.org.uk/blog/

  19. #21 If I recall correctly the organisation you are (or were?) associated with were giving out a leaflet at a rally in Manchester celebrating the defeat of the British government’s plans to bomb Syria a couple of years ago which bemoaned the failure of Western governments to give sufficient support to the Syrian rebels.

    Have I got that right? If so do you defend that position?

  20. Mike Phipps,

    You write: “On October 9, the US finally killed off its $500 million programme to train Syrian rebels. Last year, the Pentagon asked Congress to fund a programme that would train 2,300 rebels to fight the Assad Government. In the end, it managed to train only sixty.”

    In reality, the programme that’s just been wound up trained “rebels” to fight Daesh (ISIS), not to fight the Assad regime. The US long ago concluded that it is the former, not the latter, who is its main enemy in Syria. That’s why forces aligned with the Free Syrian Army who wanted to prioritise the fight against Assad were deprived of adequate funding and arms by the US.

    Recruits to the programme were not only required to prioritise the fight against Daesh over the fight against Assad, they were even required to sign a pledge that they would not use the arms they received against the Assad regime. There were very few genuine rebels from the anti-Assad opposition who were prepared to accept that, which is why the US was able to win so few recruits to its so-called “New Syrian Forces”.

    You add: “It’s hard to see where US strategy goes next.” In fact, the US has made it clear that, now the New Syrian Forces programme has been wound up, it will concentrate on backing the PKK/YPG forces in northern Syria and their (largely non-existent) allies, who will receive training in how to call in US airstrikes. Over the past year, the only force on the ground in Syria that has received major arms supplies from the US, along with the support of US airpower, has been the PKK/YPG.

  21. Karl Stewart on said:

    redhand:
    Keep blowing that dog whistle.

    They’re not ‘dogs’ they’re still human beings however much we deplore what they do.

  22. Mike Phipps on said:

    Vanya,

    It’s certainly possible that the 2013 parliamentary vote not to bomb Syria was hailed as a success but I have no recollection of any leaflet asking the west to aid rebels.

  23. There is a decent socialist position that doesn’t try to disentangle the surrogates for local and not-so local powers who are engaging in this war. That is, at this particular point, to be opposed to ‘our’ country’s drift into aerial bombing. Aerial bombing is a war on civilians. It always has been. Governments who order it, are ordering the most modern technology to kill unarmed people. As socialists, we should be able to say this, find room to say it, and make a lot of noise about it.

  24. Michael Rosen: There is a decent socialist position that doesn’t try to disentangle the surrogates for local and not-so local powers who are engaging in this war.

    I disagree. There is a struggle raging for the very survival of Syria and there is no equivalence in this regard. You can be with those intent on destroying the country or with the internationally recognised and legitimate government of Syria and its allies, fighting to save it.

    Obfuscation is not an option in this scenario.

    Michael Rosen: Aerial bombing is a war on civilians. It always has been. Governments who order it, are ordering the most modern technology to kill unarmed people.

    Yes, they are, just as the Allies did during the Second World War. However it still did not invalidate the necessity of waging war against the Nazis.

    The war against ISIS and the al-Qaeda affiliates who are intent on turning Syria into a mass grave is likewise a war of necessity. Total war follows its own catastrophic trajectory. Syria today is engulfed in such a war.

    Michael Rosen: As socialists, we should be able to say this, find room to say it, and make a lot of noise about it.

    This begs the question, though, of who gets to decide what it is that socialists should do in a given situation? One person’s conception of what is socialism is might not be someone else’s conception of what socialism is.

    For my part I am in no doubt that socialists and anti imperialists at this point must stand squarely on the side of the Syrian government and its allies in their struggle against the hell offered by a medieval death cult and by the West’s attempt to exploit the resulting chaos to effect regime change.

  25. John Grimshaw on said:

    John: It is revolution as a parlour game rather than

    There is no revolution in Syria. As I have already said. I agreed with your use of the word “Uprising”. Do you seriously believe that the uprising happened because the Americans paid some random crooks to cause trouble for the noble Assad?

    John: driven counter revolutionary process,

    As there is no revolution in Syria what counter revolutionary process can there be?

  26. John Grimshaw: As there is no revolution in Syria what counter revolutionary process can there be?

    Region-wide a counter revolutionary process has been unleashed.

  27. John Grimshaw on said:

    John: My support is not for Assad. My support is for the people who are for Assad, the conscious working class who understood early on that Syria’s survival,

    Which class conscious working class are we talking about here? The Alawite ones or the Sunni ones?

    John: and opposition to an axis of Western/Israeli/and Saudi intrigue

    And yet we are told that the Israelis are willing to support the Ba’athist regime for their own gain, obviously.

    John: why they have remained lock solid behind their govt

    Apart from the many hundreds of thousands, or millions, who have been/are on route to Europe?

  28. John Grimshaw: he fact remains that the Assad regime survives not because as John insists that he is backed by the Syrian working class, but because he is backed by the Alawite sect and some middle class people and some other minorities.

    Interesting how you so blithely dismiss the rights of minorities and adopt the sectarian line followed by those intent on splitting the country up. The majority of the Syrian Army are Sunnis and Sunnis constitute the majority of the country’s population.

    “Some middle class people”. This is not an accurate rendering of the crisis.

  29. John Grimshaw on said:

    Vanya: which bemoaned the failure of Western governments to give sufficient support to the Syrian rebels.

    You are being deliberately provocative Vanya. As far as I am aware most of the Trot left has not called for western aid for unspecified rebels. There are some who do, but not for being surrogates of the West but rather because mistakenly they think it will help the rebels against the Assad regime. They are in my view mistaken. If you carry on like this I shall have to talk to Kevin Halpin about you. 🙂

  30. John Grimshaw on said:

    John: followed by those intent on splitting the country up.

    Who wants to split the country up? Assad himself may settle for that at some stage in the future. I doubt that the Israelis/US/Russians want that to happen, but I suspect they would settle for it in the end. I don’t support any “splitting up” I want what’s best for the working class. However that also means a secularist future without Assad, eventually.

  31. jock mctrousers on said:

    John Grimshaw: The fact remains that the Assad regime survives not because as John insists that he is backed by the Syrian working class, but because he is backed by the Alawite sect and some middle class people and some other minorities.

    Assad couldn’t survive in any situation, much less this one, if he didn’t have wider support than his home-team Alawites, and some Christians, Druzes… How does he command the loyalty of the army, which I’ve seen reported often enough is hugely majority Sunni? An army too, which has suffered massive casualties, and whose loyalty must be severely tested. The MSM regularly trots out these figures for dead in Syria and claims they’ve nearly all been killed by the Assad regime, failing to mention that they include , what 70,000 regime soldiers and I assume about the same jihadis, which leaves….? So the jihadis didn’t kill any civilians? Anyone believe that? But the point is that without Sunni support and loyalty ( at least against the jihadis) the army couldn’t have stayed in the field.

  32. John Grimshaw: I want what’s best for the working class. However that also means a secularist future without Assad, eventually.

    These working class Syrian militants, actually invovled in the struggle, disagree with you. https://scontent-lhr3-1.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-xpa1/v/t1.0-9/12079474_818412101601496_8846385371466035103_n.jpg?oh=10f109348c2b65c09c5c7635aa664319&oe=569E2F94

    We’re on safer ground, I think, in taking our lead from those actually engaged in the struggle than from those pontificating from afar.

  33. John Grimshaw on said:

    jock mctrousers: The MSM regularly trots

    Sorry jock whats MSM?

    That there are Sunnis who support the regime I don’t deny, but do you deny that the Shabiha exist? And do you deny that there has been a long tradition of persecution of Alawites by orthodox Sunnis?

  34. P Spence on said:

    Here is an article from West Point about the resilience of the Syrian Government and guess what, its because the majority of the population, including Sunni’s, prefer Assad to the alternatives on offer:
    https://www.ctc.usma.edu/posts/syrias-sunnis-and-the-regimes-resilience

    No one in their right mind on the Left could possibly want to see the institutions of the Syrian state collapse, as in Iraq and Libya.

    The Russians, the Iranians and Chinese are clear sighted about what is at stake; the chance to defeat a pattern of proxy imperialism that has been playing out since the CIA funded the Islamic terrorists in the Communist-led Afghanistan of the 1970s and 80s.

    I hope Russian military and diplomatic assistance in the war effort proves decisive.

  35. John Grimshaw: As you well know there are strong sectarian issues in Syria which have benefitted Assad.

    This is an extraordinary claim. Can you elaborate/explain?

    It seems to have escaped your attention that the Syrian government is secular. The forces of sectarianism are your beloved “rebels”

  36. Karl Stewart on said:

    John Grimshaw,
    “MSM” is an acronym for “mainstream media”.

    Here in the UK, MSM reports of foreign affairs, particularly on the BBC, tend to project the general position of the Foreign Office. I wonder if the BBC has a formal ‘copy-clear’ arrangement with the FO?

  37. jack ford on said:

    Said this before but it needs repeating.

    An army like the Syrian one does not fight for that long against those odds and in such a brutal conflict unless they are fighting for far more than one man, dictator or no. And God knows what they think about Assad, the Baath Party, the regimes’ various Mukhabarats and other political issues. Just as the Russians fought the Nazis not out of some deep love for Stalin (though some certainly did feel that too) but for their country. What began as a counter insurgency operation has become a war of national liberation against all the Wahabi/Salafi/Takfiri foreigners who are trying to destroy the Syrian society.

  38. John Grimshaw on said:

    Zaid: This is an extraordinary claim. Can you elaborate/explain?

    We use the word sectarian to identify religious discrimination between groups. I think you can see that one reason why the Assad regime has survived so long is because it’s strength lies in its support from the Alawite minority. It is also the case that 40 years ago or so the Sunni majority persecuted the Alawites. This is a fault line in the Islamic World which has existed before Western Imperialism. Ask the Alawi how they feel about the way they are treated by the mainstream Sunni Turks.

    Zaid: It seems to have escaped your attention that the Syrian government is secular. The forces of sectarianism are your beloved “rebels”

    I imagine you could argue that Hitler’s regime was secular? Why do you assume that all the rebels are sectarian? Is it not possible to be secular and moderately religious both at the same time?