The Syrian double revolution and the Euro-Leftist double impotency

Leil-Zahra Mortada writes: Since the beginning of the Syrian Revolution many radical Leftist groups and networks, both on the international and local levels in Europe and around the world, have engaged in a heated debate on wether to support the revolution or not, on wether it was a revolution or an imperialist conspiracy. The European counterargument against the revolution had a quite-telling approach that was different from many in the rest of the world. It wasn´t just the usual claim that the Assad regime is one of the last-standing anti-imperialist forces. That claim became weaker in Europe after the aggravation of the regime crimes accompanied with hard-to-deny evidence on its brutality continuously coming out from Syria. Many within the European Left over and over affirmed that they will not support what is happening in Syria until they find revolutionary forces worthy of their support. The difference in approach was in the claim that there was no third option that is “revolutionary” and that poses a substitute to both the Assad regime and the Islamist militias. This approach wasn´t only problematic in its privileged laziness in not doing the needed effort to find these networks in Syria, but also in its White-tailored presets for what is a “better future” for the Syrians. It is the cliché and banal dichotomy of Secular vs. Islamist, something very reminiscent of Huntington´s “Clash of Civilizations”. It also bears a certain condescending patronization on who is worthy of demanding an end to a certain terrorist regime and who is not. This is a very dangerous approach. It is a clear double-standard in the alleged radical Leftist agenda, and a quite revoking one. Any people, whether we agree with them or not, who are living under such an oppressive and violent regime, has the right to overthrow it. Whether they have a plan that meets our aspirations on what is to come next, or not, it is their full right and own choice to rebel. We can be critical and actively disagree with their agenda, but we should never justify or whitewash the crimes of the regime against them. Refusing to support certain anti-regime actions or groups that do not meet our politics is needed and important, but this should not be mistaken for a support to the regime forces or undermining rebellious efforts of other groups and individuals. This is not problematic on the Syrian question only. It is a clear call for reflection on the mentality and approach of a big section of the European Left. This is where the debate is urgently needed. The strictly Eurocentric definition of the world, of politics, and even of revolution itself. The European Left has made a brand out of Revolution. It was taken under a European copyright and it gets bestowed on some and denied to others. It is given and could be taken away. Alas!

With over 170 days of siege on the El-Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp in Syria, and over 30 people there murdered by the regime forces with the weapon of starvation, Assad´s credibility as a pro-Palestine leader crumbled. It is no longer easy to justify his crimes against El-Yarmouk, nor paint him as the Palestine-loving fairy. It became harder and harder for people to look the other way. The humanitarian approach was gaining grounds before the revolutionary agenda. While El-Yarmouk suffered for a pretty long time, and its rebellious residents joined the revolution very early on, it took starvation and the usual postcard of dying children to get the world´s attention; especially the world of Palestine-solidarity networks in Europe and beyond. Starvation can´t be justified as a bomb that allegedly took a wrong turn, nor it could be blamed on certain anti-regime militias. It was no longer easy to keep the eyes closed! Though this only undermined one of Assad´s PR points, it still didn´t provoke the needed reaction. The Palestinian refugees in the El-Yarmouk camp, like many Syrians, are dying of hunger. The regime is using starvation as a weapon. Clear? Now action is needed!

The denial of life-saving medicines and vaccines is also being used as a weapon. For example, Polio vaccines are denied or given in amounts much less than the needed ones to zones out of the regime control. This is not a matter of a UNICEF-style activism of sick children on a postcard like some claim. And it is not a matter of the World Health Organization taking its responsibilities and duties seriously, plus putting the funds it has into action. This is another evidence, just like the refugee question, on the corruption of the international relief agencies. On the amount of money wasted and on diplomatic and bureaucratic protocols that are respected more than life itself. Health is being used as a weapon, as a repressive measure that is destroying the lives of many and will most probably leave life-long life-devestating impacts. There is a revolutionary obligation to actively put an end to this and as soon as possible. This is in no way different than fighting against a nuclear-power facility or a multinational that endangers the lives of many and that of the future generations, except maybe in its pressing urgency.

Much of the European Left´s counterargument against the revolution was demanding proof from the Syrians on their worthiness of support, asking them to demonstrate that they are “revolutionary enough”. Maybe it was never put so bluntly, but that is the essence of it. It was never enough that there are people dying, and that there are thousands in detention camps; it was never enough that the population is being forced into murderous exodus or being deprived of basic needs. The European Left wanted its “revolutionaries”. They continuously negated the presence of any substantial forces fighting the regime and posing an option other than religious fundamentalism.

Now news is hitting international fronts on Syrian activists kidnapped by Islamist forces. There is no more hiding of the division between the Islamist militias and the revolutionary groups in the anti-Assad camp. This division made it crystal clear that there are voices who are fighting both, that there are people who are a threat to Assad and to the Islamists. The threats-turned-attacks of the Islamists against many activists within the anti-Assad camp undermines the oversimplified binary of Assad vs. Islamists. The “third option” paid for the spotlight dearly, with threats to their lives. The voices from local committees and grassroots networks denouncing both the Assad regime and the Islamists trying to hijack the revolution intensified in the recent period. It is now much harder to ignore and marginalize them, let alone claim they don´t exist and that it is only Al-Qaeda militias in the horizon. [Continue reading…]

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