A brief and quick debunking of Assad’s eloquent defence

Assad always asks “how could I still be in power if people didn’t want me?”, when the question he should ask is how could he have lost control of 3/4 of his country if the people did not want him? He will state that this was due to a foreign terrorist invasion, yet why would that foreign invasion be so effective against an army whose Russian backing, the Syrian media routinely makes clear, matches anything the US could offer in quantity and quality and beyond? (not to mention an army of course which possesses unchallenged aerial superiority, a reality the regime has never disputed).
And if this was a foreign invasion, why would he think that the displacement of half of his population and loss of 75% of his territory is anything other than a monumental failure to defend the country against this foreign attack? And if he did not care about power as he claims, why does he not resign and give someone else “a shot” considering a reality which only a madman could consider a “success”?
And if the population in these areas were loyalists, why are there no local insurgencies against these invaders in those areas (for example in the same  form of besieged pockets of armed resistance the rebels have throughout Syria – the only two examples which exist for the regime’s side are Fua’a and Kafraya, two Shia villages in the middle of rebel territory), with instead the only loyalist opposition coming from the army and its allies advancing from other areas?
(Note: Of course therein lies the answer to what has often been pointed out, as to why the regime never brags about the sheer scale of the humanitarian disaster (refugees etc) inflicted by the “foreign invasion” and instead tries always to keep it under the surface (unlike Saddam’s Iraq under embargo for example) – because if they did brag about it this would prove the regime’s utter failure to defend the country despite being militarily unimpeded (unlike Saddam who had No-Fly Zones over his head) at best and of course, the truth at worst.)

This does not mean that any of these claims should be treated seriously, nor even that we should be paying too much attention to the person of Assad as people often make the mistake of doing. But it is to note that Assad’s own statements regularly betray the vacuousness of his narrative, as when he admits his reliance on the thousands of foreign troops fighting for him (stating that “Syria is for those who defend it”), a shameless admission incidentally for a “nationalist” leader who had spent the past 5 years stating that his enemies were all foreign extremists (even during the days of peaceful protests, the lie of course repeated by every other Middle Eastern regime, but credit to Assad’s loyal military he survived long enough to allow his mukhabarat to turn the fantasy of a “foreign jihadi” invasion into something on the ground) – or when stating  that millions within his population are providing “refuge” to the “terrorist plot” (blaming it on a society-wide “ethical breakdown” –  which presuming that was the case has been a society ruled over by his family for 40 years).

However, ultimately Assad’s a puppet and a figurehead. When Assad denies the use of barrel bombs (though he doesn’t deny the use of an airforce on urban centres inside his own country, saying “casualties are expected in war”) he may be a psychotic liar or he may not even know the full extent of what’s happening in his country. That’s not to excuse him, he is a person who would have used the same counter-insurgency 100 times even if he knew what the results would be down the line, but to state that he is not the central issue in the Syrian conflict [as the US has incidentally been trying to make out over the past 5 years, in order to limit the scope of the rebellion and potential change to a state with which it has had a stable, 40-year old collaborative relationship (yet a state with a resolutely radical and anti-colonial society, stemming from a century old Arabist tradition), which is why incidentally that Syrian civil society has since 2012 rejected the US’s “diplomatic/political solutions”, and their “there is no military solution for the rebels” bullshit, which seek to maintain the regime and sacrifice the figurehead, a la Egypt]. But it is to note that it is not Assad himself who has been willing to torture, rape, drop bombs from the sky on a 4-year daily basis and kill hundreds of thousands of people in his country, it is an entire set of state intelligence, hateful sectarian loyalists and security apparatuses. They can keep Assad if they think they’ll keep those as well.

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The most important thing you will do this year

If you never come to this blog again and ignore anything else I ever post, watch this. I cannot overstate how important it is, I would quote things from it but this would be a mammoth post. Just take an hour of your time whenever that may be and watch this, I guarantee you will not regret it.

 

US agrees to Assad transition and participation in elections: Abandonment of Arab Awakening complete

The US agrees with Russia to Assad running “transitional” period and running in elections in 2017, stating that “we might disagree over Assad’s fate but we agree on the necessity of political process” – coinciding with Russia’s statement that “Only political process can decide Assad’s fate”.

For the past 5 years there were two narratives on Syria, one that the US was attempting to overthrow the Syrian state, the other (from 5 years worth of statements from people on the ground, who have of course been the most ignored in Western “expert” coverage of Syria in both mainstream and “alternative” media) that the US has been hiding under the cover of diplomatic rhetoric whilst consistently undermining the Syrian rebellion, and would eventually accept the remaining of the regime (eventually even compromising vis a vis its “head”).

Who was right about Syria now?

Stop the War Coalition lie about being lied about

In response to Stop the War statement regarding Parliamentary meeting event on the 4th November 2015.

Lie No.1: Regarding “Andrew Murray’s support for the Syrian regime”

During the meeting Andrew Murray called for the support of the Syrian Army and the Iraqi Army in the fight against ISIS. This will be on record of the footage that Stop the War Coalition have yet to release of the meeting (unless they choose to edit it).

It should be noted that it is not the person of Assad himself which has caused the destruction in Syria, it is an entire military-security-intelligence apparatus of a fascist (self-defined nationalist-socialist) state. It is not Assad himself who has been dropping bombs every single day for the past 4 years, raped thousands of women and men, or tortured to death thousands of detainees, it an entire state set of apparatuses. Indeed, the long touted “political solution” supported by the International powers since 2012, whereby despite perceptions of “difference” between the US and Russia there has been a consistent unanimity on the necessary retention of the structures of the Syrian state and only disagreement on the fate of the person of Assad, has been rejected repeatedly by the revolutionary Syrian people. They can keep Assad if they think that they’ll maintain his regime. We only need see what happened in Egypt when a figurehead and some of his cronies were removed, only to be replaced by a worse one propelled by a vindictive ancien régime.

Andrew Murray’s support of the Syrian state is beyond dispute, as is wide swathes of the Stop the War coalition. They seek to play on “technicalities” of not directly stating “we support Assad”. Indeed President Sisi of Egypt says exactly the same thing when asked about his support for Assad in Syria, claiming “we must support the Syrian state, its not about the person”. The reader familiar with Stop the War coalition’s writings over the duration of the Syrian conflict, and their mocking writings about the Syrian resistance and existence of non-Assad Muslim “moderates”, will recognise this fact – never mind the absence of a (naive) outright “declaration” (which immediately opens up the movement to criticism as well as historical infamy), which is reserved for the Communist Party of Great Britain and the BNP, Stop the War’s leadership and outlets have (with rare exceptions) repeated close-to verbatim the narratives of the Syrian and Iranian governments.

Their rhetoric of a “sovereign Syria in which Syrians decide their fate”, for example, is taken right off the Russian manuscript. The irony of those proclaiming this maxim being entirely reliant on non-Syrian forces (Iraqi militias, Iranian revolutionary Guards, Hezbollah and now Russia’s airforce), whereby an independent regular “Syrian army” is practically no longer existent, entirely reliant on Iranian-sponsored militias, seems to be lost on those proponents.

Finally, it should be noted Andrew Murray’s (the Chair of Stop the War coalition) declaration of the necessity of supporting the “US-backed” (in fact US-created) Iraqi Army; this is another ironic contradiction for the “anti-imperialist” Stop the War coalition to support “Western-backed” forces in the Middle East, and is one from the few that will be seen in this article.

Lie 2: Regarding “allowing Syrians to speak”

This is indeed an audacious claim by Stop the War coalition, and reflects the general strategy in this statement of “the best way of defence is offence”. One Syrian was allowed to speak (which is what was already claimed), Muzna – she was interrupted and following that point not a single Syrian, of whom there were many and who were holding their hands up for the full remainder of that meeting’s duration, were given the chance to speak – whilst (with a few exceptions) practically every non-Syrian present were given that opportunity (including known Stop the War organisers, despite them being the organisers), including one man who proceeded on a historical lecture of the “fake” background of the Arab Spring. Ms Abbot’s statement on Daily Politics that “she didn’t know who the Syrians were” warrants no response.

Lie  3: Regarding “police being called”

This is perhaps the most blatant and astonishing falsehood by Stop the War coalition. Police present on the premises of parliament were called – in quite an extraordinary example of attempting to play “fast and loose” with the truth Stop the War attempt to distinguish this here by stating that the constabulary wasn’t called. The “constabulary” was not called, police already present in the vicinity of parliament were. Indeed many of the police on parliament premises were armed with machine guns – more than could be said of “the constabulary”; though those who were summoned to the meeting were not armed. Police arrived in numbers and were visible to all at the doors of the meeting by its end, something which any attendee at that meeting can attest to. One of the Arab attendees denied the opportunity to speak by the panel was also talked to by police after the meeting. Prior to that the Syrian and Arab audience members were repeatedly told “you are going to get arrested [if you continue]”. We are actually surprised that Stop the War have gone to the lengths of denying this instead of letting it “die down”. We urge Stop the War coalition to release unedited footage of the meeting which can serve to be the judge as to who is telling the truth and who is not.

It should be noted Stop the War coalition had a pro-Iraq war MP on platform, Crispin Blunt. The fact that they did this as an issue, regardless of our differences on Syria, shows how shallow their actual emotional connection is to the real life realities of “imperialism”. An SSM supporter present mentioned this to the panel, and (expectedly) received no response.

Other statements made at the meeting by prominent leaders of Stop the War coalition should also be noted, such as by Lindsey German: “some people here [the Syrians] might not see ISIS as a big problem, but it is”, an implication more reminiscent of traditional right-wing and Zionist arguments used in debate with Muslims, as well as snide remarks by another prominent Stop the War figure stating: “this is the democracy they want” in the direction of emotional Syrians “interrupting” the panel. Again we note the convergence of wide swathes of the “far-left” with the far-right in their support for Assad (the latter alliance is natural, seeing that Assad’s regime is an archetypal fascist-structured regime), whereby shared opposition to the “mainstream” establishment and a closet admiration of how far a departure such “fortress states” are from their own disliked systems informs their overlap on Syria.

The repeated smear used by Stop the War that Syria Solidarity “supported the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan” is a blatant falsehood – there is not a single SSM member that supports the aggression and invasion of Iraq – which is more than could be said for the panel that “Stop the War” hosted last Wednesday – nor the decade of sanctions that killed a million Iraqis (according to the UN) before that, and our members continue to argue that the invasion should not be forgotten simply because it is in the past. It is ironically Stop the War who find themselves actively support the axis which gained power out of the invasion of Iraq, that of Russia-Iran–Sisi-Maliki-Assad. It is the anti-Maliki, anti-Sisi, anti-Assad axis that we support, three rulers Iran either supported or is in the process of normalising relations with (Iran sent an envoy to Sisi’s inauguration and is currently in talks). It is the Syrian people who hosted the refugees of Iraq and it is the Iraqi people in those areas who suffered the most from the invasion, in Fallujah, Ramadi, Tirkrit and Anbar, who stand in solidarity with the Syrian people against their tyrant. They need no lectures from people who live thousands of miles away and enjoy the benefits of the “imperialist” state.

Our issue with Stop the War coalition is not that it is “against intervention”, as they would prefer to pretend. It is about them consistently no-platforming Syrian voices for the past 4 years, consistently peddling the Syrian regime’s narratives, consistently making sarcastic “snide” references about the hundreds of thousands of the Syrian people who remain engaged in the revolution (both its military and civil aspects) being extremist, or the millions more of their supporters being extremist sympathisers (something Assad himself once declared, when he stated ‘millions of Syrians are providing sanctuary for “terrorism”’, inadvertently acknowledging the scale of popular opposition to him), consistently peddling neoconservative-like War on Terror narratives (used by every repressive post-colonial regime in the region), and now blatantly coming out in support of the Syrian military and state. We should note our great surprise and disappointment of Ms Caroline Lucas doing the same in that meeting with regards to the latter.

Since 2011 and the very short-lived retrenchment of “War on Terror” language post-Iraq groups such as “Stop the War” have accounted for some of the biggest parts of the resurrection of this narrative, all to support Iran’s counter-revolutions. Let us also make clear, that we like most Syrians once defended Iran and its allied parties, Iran threw away the goodwill of the non-sectarian Muslim peoples by embarking on a path of counter-revolutionary “stability”, which they now use to tout as the “only island of stability in the Middle East” (substitute for “only democracy in the Middle East”) and which has achieved them global recognition.

Stop the War’s (main) leadership’s understandings of the conflict are to such an extent far off from what is happening on the ground, that in a perverse twist of “fate” Stop the War’s leadership has spun a web of simplistic (click-baiting) contradictions so wide that it now often finds itself ignoring instances of Western intervention (yet alone Russian ones), its supposed raison d’être:

  1. Refusing to cover the US bombing of Syrian revolutionary forceswhich killed up to 150 rebels, before the onslaught of Russia’s interventionThis was due to the inconveniences that such a contradiction posed to the narrative they have been promoting for the past 4 years.
  2. Supporting the US-backed Iraqi Army whilst engaging in a quasi- reporting blackout of its historical collapse in 2014, which was almost unanimously the reason for the rise of ISIS. However, the links of the US-backed Iraqi Army with the “resistant” Iranian regime posed an uncomfortable narrative – blaming Syrian revolutionary forces, who were amongst the firstto fight ISIS, long before the “secular” (Western-rhetoric, clean-shaven) regime, who viewed them as “apostates worse than infidels”Instead, despite the indisputable fact that US “support” (which in fact has been restricted Arab support provided through US-aligned Turkey and Jordan) for the Syrian revolutionaries cannot be compared to that given over a decade to the US-constructed modern Iraqi Army. The monumental collapse of a decade long US-trained Iraqi Army which provided the main justification for the US occupation of Iraq until 2011 should have been one of the most effective criticising points against the US policy in Iraq – instead, this was largely brushed under the carpet due to Iran’s allegiance with the Iraqi Army.
  3. Supporting the “imperialist-aligned” Kurdish PYD and hosting them on their platforms. In August an invitation by a local Stop the War coalition branch (Birmingham) to a Syrian member of a Syria Solidarity was rescinded at the request of the National Office due to “Syria solidarity’s support of military intervention”. Incidentally there were a range of views within Syria solidarity on the question of intervention, as there is amongst revolutionary Syrian circles, and some members have written against arguing for it – however Syria solidarity’s policy reflects that of refugeesinternally displaced Syriansand Syrian civil society groups, not its members’ individual opinions – because we believe in actual agency of “other” peoples, not their use as pawns in anti-establishment posturing when convenient, which represents simply another form of Western narcissism and orientalism. The same meeting hosted a PYD member.
  4. Opposing the “Western-backed” Sisi regime – a firm allyof “Western-attacked” Bashar al-Assad.
  5. Not mentioning historical relations between the UK and the Assad regime, most importantly that the Sarin gas used in Syria had been imported from the UK.This would undermine the “Assad is hostile to West” narrative and entail “rectification”, and so exposing “imperialist complicity” is temporarily put on hold.

A significant example of Stop the War’s detachment from the post-2011 Middle East was provided in August, when STWC provided a platform to “revolutionary, Arab Spring” pro-Houthi speakers (the Houthis are allied with Saleh’s counter-revolution in Yemen) in a public meeting in London. After the meeting one of the panel speakers was quoted as stating “Ali Abdullah Saleh is a man and a hundred men”, in response to heckling by an attendee who challenged the Houthi alliance with Saleh and disparaged their claimed “revolutionism”. The fact that this basic knowledge of the Houthis being in alliance with the tyrant Saleh’s forces in Yemen was not known by the organisers is indicative. This in a sense was a real life manifestation of a Press TV article, citing the “revolutionary” Houthi movement in the same breath as “Saleh declares support for Houthis”.

To be clear, this is not to state that we are for the Saudi intervention in Yemen, but to present a microcosm of Stop the War coalition’s Arab Spring “understanding”. We do not propagandise for the Syrian revolution’s allies, whether Saudi, Qatar or Turkey. The same however cannot be said of Stop the War coalition, who consistently carry out exactly that role for the Iranian state, even during a historic rehabilitative rapprochement with the West (including most recently the opening of the Iranian embassy for the first time in four decades in London).

Likewise, Stop the War’s ostensible ignorance of the “Western-supported” Sisi’s support for the “Western-attacked” Assad, and the scale of support for Assad in Egyptian media since Sisi’s “election” as president is similiarly indicative. Sisi has not only been diplomatically supporting Assad, as is seen with Putin’s latest plea to include Egypt in Vienna’s “peace” talks, but has also been sending him arms (for more see hereherehere and here). Stop the War’s oblivion to all this indicates that whilst such reports may be of common awareness for those in the region, there is a massive gap in ‘transmission’ to those in the West. This is precisely why we have tried to make the case of the necessity of providing opportunities for regional voices. This does not necessitate that they are correct simply by virtue of their backgrounds, but that if what they say is intellectually deemed to make sense then this means that they may very well know a lot more.

In expressing support for the counter-revolutionary Saleh-Houthi alliance in Yemen, the Iraqi Army and the Syrian regime, Stop the War coalition proved itself not as a supporter of the Arab Spring, but an English-language propagandist of Iran’s counter-revolutions in the region (which has incidentally established it for the first time in 40 years as a recognised global player and “partner” for stability) – a Press TV translated into a social movement, if you will. Stop the War still continues to issue illusory pamphlets of “Syria is about a covert Western attempt to attack Iran” – even whilst a landmark Iranian relief sanctions deal was achieved with thousands of its troops stationed in Syria (which incidentally would entail tighter sanctions if that was supposedly the case, not their lifting) and even whilst the US is a de-facto ally of Iran in Iraq.

That these faux pas occur should not be surprising – it is the natural consequence of an elitist, statist, theory-based approach, which in essence is not substantively about foreign politics and foreign events, but (domestic) anti-establishment politics.

Let us finally note, that Stop the War Coalition’s narrative of a Western plot against the “resistance” state of Assad (a former Henry Kissinger and later War on Terror ally) is the same one cited and repeated by every single Arab ruler who faced the uprisings of the Arab awakening, dynastic-republican and monarchical: from Mubarak (who claimed that “he knew” the US wanted to overthrow him ever since they asked him to have elections in 2005), to Al-Sisi (whose regime and media claim that the Muslim Brotherhood is a US proxy organisation), to Ali Abdullah Saleh (a former firm US ally who, when abandoned, cited a “Zionist-American” Spring), to Ahmad Chalabi (the Iraqi politician who was the falsifying architect of the US invasion of Iraq, claimed a “Western conspiracy” in defence of his ally Assad), to Maliki (appointed by the US in its post-invasion transitional government, even before he was elected as Prime Minister) – these all had a few things in common: they were all tyrants, they all supported one another, they were all former “imperialist” allies, they all received support and played off both global powers (US and Russia), and they all claimed the same “foreign plot” when their populations rose up and when their embarrassed sponsors eventually had to abandon them.

For Stop the War coalition to regurgitate propaganda of the Middle East’s felool elites is a tragedy, for it is these same elites that justified US-aligned foreign policy by their leaders, only for them to hurtfully declare a plot when their US trustees abandoned their leader. Is this what constitutes radical politics?

Until then, perhaps STWC should change its role and title, and declare its new role as an “Adopt grievanced discarded puppets” lobbying group/charity.