Joti Brar posted the following note on Syria on the Facebook page of her party, the Communist Party of Great Britain [Marxist-Leninist]. The post was part of a longer thread debating the actions of the Assad government and imperialist war moves against the country. I hope Marxist Update readers find it as useful as I did:
Joti Brar7:50am Mar 14A few things to understand about Syria's 'repression'. There has been a state of emergency in Syria for decades. This is not because of the government's inherent hatred for the people or for freedom, but as a result of ISRAELI AGGRESSION AND OCCUPATION. Don't forget, part of Syria (the Golan Heights) has been occupied by Israel since 1967, and aggressive moves from that massively armed country have never stopped.Occupation of the Golan Heights also means that Israel is stealing a large proportion of Syria's fresh water supplies.Meanwhile, western imperialists from France, US and Britain have been trying to overthrow the government from within and without for 50 years. It is only the presence of a Soviet (now Russian) base that has given Syria any protection against the might of the many aggressive military powers ranged against it.(A military base does not have to constitute an occupation, however. It's all about context. There are many US bases on British soil, for example, and clearly, however much we might dislike their presence, they are not an occupying force.)Despite the state of emergency, and the incredibly difficult conditions in which it has been trying to develop, Syria is the best country in the Middle East for refugees. 500,000 Palestinian refugees and their descendants live there, along with 1.5 million Iraqi refugees. This puts an additional strain on the country's resources.The country's government is not an 'Alawite dynasty' or a one-man 'dictatorship', as it is habitually referred to in the western press. The government is in fact a multi-party coalition of forces, from nationalists to communists, which have two key things in common: they are SECULAR and they are for NATIONAL UNITY AGAINST IMPERIALISM.If you had had the privilege of ever being in Syria you would have found that it was a very civilised place. The people are exceptionally well educated and well informed, and they are very friendly and very welcoming, but in a dignified, hospitable way, rather than in the 'how can we get money out of this tourist' sycophantic kind of way that most westerners are used to when they travel.And one of the key ways you can tell that the country really isn't thoroughly subsumed into the global financial system is that you can't just walk up to a hole in the wall and get out cash with your visa card - and you aren't surrounded by corporate billboards on every street corner, either. There aren't a thousand branches of McDonald's in Damascus and every shop doesn't sell Coca Cola. In fact, the food and culture is Syrian - something Syrians are very proud of.Under pressure from imperialism, Syria has made some concessions to western finance capital in recent years - and because of those, Syrian people have suffered as prices have gone up and the gap between rich and poor has grown (although it's nothing like the gap that exists here or in the States). These are the main source of criticism that most Syrians have of the leadership - and the Syrian communists who are part of the government also make these criticisms.Love for the people is not what drives the Homs rebellion, however. That is driven by the lust for money and power. Small groups of agents, religious extremists and foreign mercenaries are being given unlimited funds by the West and by western proxies such as Saudi Arabia and Qatar, as well as arms, military training, logistical back-up and a massive psyops propaganda campaign so that they can inflict the maximum damage, terrorise the people and demoralise the armed forces.The courage of such fighters comes not from selflessness or a sense that they are expressing the will of the people but from the knowledge that if they can keep it up, they will be rewarded with unlimited access to the Syrian national treasury in return for allowing imperialist corporations free reign to loot and pillage the country's resources and exploit its people.The fact that their campaign still isn't really working, despite all the back-up they're getting, shows just how little support it has amongst ordinary Syrians. So in a situation where a tiny minority of mercenaries, who are only able to act at all because of their western backing, is trying to take over the country and demolish the gains that Syrian people have made since they rejected old colonialism and modern imperialism, are we not right to support the people's chosen government and leaders?If we really respect the right of people to determine their own future, then we must respect the Syrian people's right to chose Bashar al-Assad, no matter how many propaganda lies we are fed about him. Who are we, after all, to imagine we know better than the people concerned? To imagine that because we've watched a couple of news programmes and read a couple of articles that we're in a position to judge what people's lives are really like and what they really need?Could life be better for the Syrian masses? Undoubtedly. Are Bashar al-Assad and his government the main obstacle to advance? Not at all. It is imperialism's direct and indirect military and financial pressure that has kept Syria from achieving its true potential. And it is the determined pursuit of an independent economic and foreign policy that has enabled Syria to provide at least the basic fundamentals of a decent life to the vast majority of its citizens.So as the comrades here have already said, it's time to remove the blinkers, get off the fence and choose a side. Are we with the oppressed masses of the world in their fight against imperialism? Do we agree they (and not we) are best placed to choose their own leaders?In which case ... victory to Assad and the Syrian people!And if that feels to difficult to say, they maybe it's time to admit just how good a job has been done on us by western imperialist propaganda. In which case, more useful than talking about what we don't understand would be launching ourselves on a campaign of reeducation! Remember: the BBC, the Guardian and even the Socialist Worker are NOT ON THE SIDE OF THE OPPRESSED OF THE WORLD. Do not believe what they tell you!