Democratic Socialist Movement

For Struggle, Solidarity and Socialism in Nigeria

By - DSM

SYRIA: For United Action of Workers and Youths Needed To Oust Assad

SYRIA: For United Action of Workers and Youths Needed To Oust Assad

By Aj Dagga Tolar

As we approach the second year of the revolt against the Bashar al-Assad, there can be no better pact with the devil for an anniversary gift than the call of Syrian opposition leader Ahmed Moaz al-Khatib, of the so call Syrian National Coalition (SNC) for negotiations with representatives of the Assad’s regime. Can this be taken to mean that the end is in sight for the crisis and that Assad would acquiesce to negotiating himself out of power? What is clear is that such an arrangement if it were come to be, would leave the working masses worse off?

When in March 2011 workers and youth came out in the millions demanding an end to the dictatorship of the Assad regime, inspired by the heroic efforts of workers and youth in Tunisia and Egypt, there was much expectation in the air that they would in the same spirit oust Assad. But the Arab Depots were also learning fast from the events in Tunisia and Egypt, the only way they would not be ousted like Ben Ali and Mubarak, is to employ the full machinery of the state in full smoking colours against the uprising of the workers and youth against its rule. Assad did just that mauling hundreds on the streets area after area to beat opposition workers and youth out of the street.

The repression employed by the regime gave room for the establishment of the Free Syria Army (FSA), whose use of armed struggle dominates its tactics of ending the Assad regime. Rather than a tactic of encouraging the mass movement of workers and youth with the establishment of committee of defense in all communities, the opposition leaders expect that with the support of Turkey, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and other regimes in the Gulf, most of whom are not any less despotic than Assad, supplying the needed arms and fund that would defeat Assad. They have also counted on the support of US led NATO to repeat a Libya-like air raid attack on Assad’s defense mechanism which is not yet forthcoming but cannot be ruled out. The closest so far to this is the recent ‘air strike’ attack by Israel on Assad’s surface-to-air missile and a military complex near the capital, whether this would be repeated to help weaken the Syrian regime, or would help the regime to play up the nationalist card and its anti-Israel credentials to mobilize against such further attack from Israel.

While Israel claims to act on its own account, hinging the air raid to prevent “advance military weapon systems” entering “into Lebanon, [and the hands of] the Hezbollah from Syria when Assad falls”. Rather than think this would raise up hope in the camp of the opposition, the SNC has rather called for direct negotiation with the Assad regime, meaning nothing is as it seems.

The tragedy in Syria is that the fighting has increasingly reflected the very mixed ethnic and religious character of that country. In the absence of an independent workers’ movement capacity of uniting the workers and poor of different religious denominations and nationalities the fighting has more and more taken a sectarian character. Syria is a mine field of power play internally between rival elites battling to end the monopoly of the Assad family and the mainly Alawite elite it leads on the resources and wealth of Syria and, externally, between the regional powers with Iran alongside Syria on one end and Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar on the other pole, and as well as with Israel on its own account against Syria and of course the US and Russia.

In all of this struggle for influence and power not a thought is given to the wellbeing of the working masses, whose worsening condition of poverty ignited the mass movement in march 2011. The poor working masses are paying heavily for the war with over 60,000 dead and over 200, 000 rendered homeless. Things can only get worse for the working masses, given the fact that quest for regime change in Syria has been largely spurred not by the need for a political and economic programme that aim to better the lot of the working masses. Rather, the opposition as constituted by the SNC, are only seeking to replace Assad with complete neoliberal economic programme

What has come out clear in Syria and indeed in the whole of the Arab revolt is the weakness, or complete absence, of an independent labour movement. Despite the role strikes have played in Egypt and Tunisia this has been reflected in its failure to intervene in the mass revolt with an independent working class agenda that would have offered a programme and leadership to weed out all the possible sectarian, ethnic and religious twist and turn that the movement against Arab despotism and imperialism has so far suffered.

Only the intervention of the working masses with the superior force of their united numbers across all religious and ethnic nationality divides, with a programme to overthrow the Assad’s regime and capitalism and replace it with a workers and poor peoples’ government that would defend democratic rights and seek to democratically run and manage the resources and oil wealth of Syria for the benefit of the working masses can bring the current battles in a conclusive favour of the working masses. Such a regime should not only nationalize the oil wealth and the other commanding sectors of the economy, it will necessarily place them under the democratic control and management of the working people of Syria. An example like the above would indeed inspire the working masses of the whole of the Arab world to carry forward the struggle to end despotism in all its facets and the gangsteric hold of imperialism on the Middle East as the victory of socialism in a single Arab state would lay the basis for a possible socialist confederation of Middle East.

Anything short of the above would only mean that whatever regime that replaces the Assad’s if and when it finally falls either by the contraption known as the Syrian National Coalition, or some other contraption invented by imperialism, negotiated or otherwise would continue with the same neo liberal capitalist regimes that have brought about the revolts in the first instance. But as unfolding events in Tunisia and Egypt where the working masses are already lurking horns in new streets battles against the succeeding regimes of Ennahda and Mursi have demonstrated the resolve of working masses to continue the struggle against the regimes who capitalized on the mass revolts to assume power but proceed with repressive and anti-poor program. This has shown that the working people are learning fast to understanding who their friends are and where they are to be found and are more than ever drawing the lesson for the need for a united action on the part of workers and youth on a programme that would improve their lot and not feather to the interest of profit making and imperialism.