[FB post] Western Assadists and leftist neo-cons

Love those Western pro-Syrian government forum idiots who after having an hour or so of a Wikipedia session pretentiously itch to splurt their ‘DONT YOU KNOW AMERICA TRAINED BIN LADEN IN THE 80s’ or ‘DONT YOU KNOW WHAT AMERICA DID IN IRAQ’, as if the people who support the Syrian resistance were against the Iraqi one or pro the US invasion in 2003. These smug idiots don’t actually study the current situation they seek to speculate about so assuredly and instead generalise the experience of entirely seperate conflicts on the current one, thinking that they can ‘guess’ what’s happening because they see some form of American involvement as a constant (which will obviously be the case as the fucking superpower of the world – but they don’t actually study how the characteristics of the involvement differ). The funniest thing actually is how those idiots (represented on an institutional level by groups such as ‘Stop the War’ – or Stop a War only where we can feel good about ourselves) supported the Iraqi resistance (which also included Al-Qaeda) as ‘heroic freedom fighters’, whilst opposed the currently simultaneous Syrian one as ‘brutal jihadis’. Oh that’s another thing – that Iraqi resistance they supported just a few years ago – yeah no they’re all terrorists and terrorist sympathisers now, funnily enough (or they’ve disappeared).

Alternatively, another reading is that Maliki has been sectarian and exclusionary in Iraq, unlike Assad in Syria, who has been an angel by comparison. I mean who in their right mind (even those who support Assad as a supposed ‘lesser evil’ – i.e. not those who are completely brainwiped) will think that Assad has alienated less people than Maliki, or that Assad has done worse than Maliki? (not that you should compare different types of crap). Ah but you know the difference, Maliki was ‘directly’ put there by the US, Assad wasn’t (regardless of course that the Syrian faction of the Baa’th party was one that constantly compromised and negotiated with imperialism since the rightist coup of Assad Snr in 1970 – from fighting against the Palestinians and Leftists in Lebanon, from joining the US in its coalition against Iraq in 1990, from torturing Bush’s War on Terror prisoners during the 2000s, from stating that it was willing to sell out Hamas in secret negotiations with the US in 2010, etc.). The Iraqis claimed that this was part of the reason for the split between the Iraqi and Syrian branches of the Baa’th, where the Iraqis essentially saw the Assadist Ba’ath as sell-outs (not that that made the Iraqis ‘good’).

And the greatest thing is that they don’t see any of those contradictions – when they faced off with neo-cons during Iraq who used the same ‘Jihadi’ language they would go and say ‘they’re resistance fighters’, ‘Al-Qaeda are just a part’ or ‘the situation has produced them’, or in other words apply some sort of contextual understanding, but when it comes to Syria these pseudo-anti imperialists metamoprhise into essentially leftist neo-cons: The entire resistance is essentially ‘brutal Jihadis’ who have dropped out of the sky. Funniest thing is that the Syrian resistance and Iraqi ones are very closely tied, a fact which ISIS has undoubtedly exploited.


Europe Solidaire Sans Frontières | A letter of solidarity to the farmers of Syria: The struggle for freedom and food sovereignty

From “Europe Solidaire Sans Frontières” (http://www.europe-solidaire.org/spip.php?article33639)
A letter of solidarity to the farmers of Syria – The struggle for freedom and food sovereignty

The loss of control over processing agricultural goods, such as turning grains into flour, have made it easier for the regime to punish large regions with starvation, and will in the future make it easier for foreign powers to grab hold of Syria through its dependent state.

Dear fellow farmers and peasants in Syria, dear people in Syria and those connected to its cause, – as food concerns us all, hunger and oppression feel the same to each and every person.

When we were approached to write a public letter for you, I felt rather humbled and not knowing where to start. As a farmer and as someone who has encountered the gratitude and witnessed the Sumoud of the Syrian people, I am ashamed of the hardships you are in and ashamed, knowing your strength, that you have been left to fight alone while the weakness of the world is just standing by. Who am I, or any of us out here, to write any lines to you other than those couched in deepest humility.

I am a simple farmer from the worldwide movement of the farmers and peasants, La Via Campesina, which in translation means the path of the farmer. The struggle for food sovereignty begins at our doorstep: when i work the fields on my farm i am actively engaged in the local movement against landgrabbing of agricultural lands in my region and the use of poisons and pesticides.This work is not separate to my direct solidarity with Syrians, and is as necessary. Policies of land grabbing, theft, destruction and displacement happen in a ’globalized’ setting, and such must be our resistance.

We know that in Syrian society, as in all societies, agriculture and food production play a crucial role. We know that a huge number of Syria’s poor, many of those who demanded justice, dignity and bread from the start of this brave revolution were actors from the rural areas and workers in the production of everybody’s needs: food production. We also know of the oppression that the regime embodies and the tactics of neoliberal destruction it had already launched against Syria’s agriculture long before the revolution was even dreamt of.

As many other powers do globally, so the Syrian regime also subdues Syrian society by keeping its food production under its control. It made sure to collect the seeds and distribute them in the next season for its own wellbeing: bad seed or none to those it wanted to punish politically and to the rest over the years it would give in return for the local inherited seeds those modern types that best served its own neoliberal interests.

Syria has long concentrated on centralizing its food production, collecting grains and keeping central control over the mills. These steps once achieved, it is a relatively easy task to subdue the people: whether for the sake of the profit for a few or as a political punishment and more generally a form of control.

We have also heard the stories of those who have risked their lives and hid seeds from the regime’s hands in the past. We have heard of the profit the regime has gained at the cost of Syrian farmers, Syria’s nature, earth and water when it years ago started to push, for example for cash crops such as cotton, implementing the whole path of western indoctrination against the agricultural industry and simply going along with the maximum exploitation of the deep water reserves, using mineral fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides and all other kind of chemicals.

All these steps led to an agriculture and a food production deeply dependant on governments or international enterprises, in any moment of crisis leading to an immediate influx of hunger. This destruction of our livelihoods is something we as farmers witness globally and also globally we fight it. You have started down a path of full liberation from a draconian regime and thus face the most extreme violence from all sides. We must understand that your liberation is the liberation of us all: it shouldn’t matter merely to Syrians. We know, for example, that many of the weapons used against you in your present struggle for freedom and future are weapons potentially and really used against us all.

The importance of the agricultural heritage of this whole region is something we as a people globally must understand. It was in the ancient Mesopotamia where human kind first started to breed grains for food. The Iraq war was one of the clearest examples of how the situation of war is being used by the powers to gain control over local markets and over whole populations: first they bombed the seed bank in Abu Ghraib and thus forever buried the most extensive samples of human kind’s seed history. The genetic diversity that has been destroyed in this attack would be – if still in existence – the best weapon against hunger when the high tech seed bred out of the laboratories of the great powers cannot rise to the challenge of pests, difficult climates or different types of soil.

They have destroyed this treasure for their own benefit: the new set of laws implemented on Iraq by the US administration now forbids the growing of traditional Iraqi seeds and pushes for the seeds of some of the few seed companies in power worldwide to grab hold of Iraq’s seed market.

It should be mentioned that Monsanto, one of the biggest of these companies had the violent private military group ‘Blackwater’ working for them. Seeds are systematically stolen in wars and it should also be mentioned that from the seed companies only four already control up to 75% of the world markets. They are direct beneficiaries of wars and come through various paths: by the armies of nations and regimes, or sometimes hidden in the shadows of big humanitarian aid agencies, bringing the promising relief to local farming in the form of their seeds and chemicals.

It is the farming of our grandmothers and –fathers that is under attack and it is this farming of this sustainable and diverse character – not necessarily with the same traditional social implications endured by our ancestors – but an agriculture connected to its people and nature, that has fed the people over the past ten thousands of years and that is the key to self-determination and freedom.

The poverty and thus resulting migration of the people from Syria’s “cottonized” regions into cities’ poor neighborhoods the past years is just one example of the outcomes of the regime’s neoliberal agricultural policies. The loss of ground water and fertile soil will long be a challenge to these areas. The loss of control over seeds or means of further processing agricultural goods, such as turning grains into flour, have made it easier for the regime to punish large regions with starvation and will in the future make it altogether easier for foreign powers to grab hold of Syria through this dependant state that people are in. Hunger and food is an ugly tool used against us all. So the defense of our foods is and must be part of our daily resistance.

While we embrace you from afar, we are sharing these words with you as we fear for your power to stay steadfast when facing such dangers in addition to the terrible dangers you are already facing. As simple farmers we do not come with the money and forces of a big aid organization. We too have not much more in our hands than the tools with which to work the soil under our feet. We cannot and will not make big promises or meet you in five star hotels somewhere abroad.

What we want to offer is the work of solidarity as you face the challenges you face, as we increasingly understand them as a collective challenge. We want to offer you our knowledge about the powers that in some of our countries have already attacked us and our foodstuffs. We want to learn from your knowledge and skills on how you face these attacks. We want to invite you to join our global movement of peasants’ solidarity and we want to join your work and resistance for your local bases.

We, we represent a few of the global peasants movement, La Via Campesina and some of us started work in Syria with the first few of your fellows, on the movement called “The 15th Garden”. This name reiterates for us what we feel a farmer’s hands can do: join the call of the Syrian revolution which sprung to life on March 15 three years ago and build gardens throughout Syria as part of this resistance–full of the diversity of kinds and traditions that the Syrian soil is capable of.

Not all of us are farmers too. Some activists who have never had any contact with agriculture have nevertheless started to understand the need for food sovereignty, when the weapon of hunger is a tool used against people.

The regime has already chosen this form of repression, to fight our revolution by starving people in Syria. When this happens, it is only logical that activists must as a consequence becoming farmers: “The soil that you work is yours.” Thus the revolution means that people may have an opportunity to get closer of what belongs to them. As some friends from a community garden put it: “It might even be a step further than any thing you will find either in the opposition- or regime-controlled areas. The moment your hands touch the ground and the community joins as a collective feeding itself from there in solidarity, this ground is liberated and belongs –just and only- to the community.” This is what we have recognized in Syria and it is this insight that allows us to extend our solidarity.

The 15th Garden has started to grow from these seeds. It is the network of projects of food sovereignty –of a free food for a free people- in Syria. Here we meet as community gardeners and farmers from throughout the country and abroad. It is the farmers and the city gardeners, it is the refugees who have fled, but carry the soil and the spirit of Syria under their feet when they are determined to produce life even in the furthest camp town afar.

As such, we offer knowledge from the simplest questions on how gardening is actually done (for those who are new to it) to the bigger questions of how our communities organize better through their need to produce food, or which support can we offer for you from afar.

It is farmers and gardeners from abroad, who might not have known a single person from Syria were it not for this connection can build a mutual understanding on this civil basis.

Julia Z, 24 June 2014, a farmer of the international solidarity group The 15th Garden

The 15th Garden is a network of a growing number of urban and community gardens in liberated areas in Syria, and of urban gardens abroad standing in solidarity and in direct contact for skill sharing with them. It is a platform for gardeners and farmers alike in Syria to stand together, exchange skills and develop a sovereign food production for the people of Syria, connecting this goal with the demands of the revolution for a free and diverse Syria.

It involves meetings and workshops in Syria and and the neighbouring countries, and doing the actual work of food production together, across the areas and putting the struggle for a free Syria in the context of global peasants resistance. The 15th Garden works on sustainable seed exchange and building the knowledge to reproduce sustainable and free seeds and all other methods of farming that a free people need for gaining their self determination.

Feel free to contact us and join the network!

We don’t want your solidarity – How Western ‘progressives’ scabbed on Syria: A comment on ‘Progressive Orientalism’ or “On Passive Interventionism”

Those self-denominated ‘anti-imperialists’ – George Galloway, Stop the War and the like – have proven that they are completely shaped by orientalism in their thought, by letting their reaction get framed completely by the precepts set out by that of which they’re reacting against.. The only problem therefore is that they do not understand that the status quo IS Western Intervention (and to rectify it you must fight against it), so their understanding of ‘non-intervention’ is a fallacy… the idea that only ‘active’ and not ‘passive’ processes are the ones that qualify as ‘intervention’ is a fallacy. If the West saw an uprising occur and did not intervene any more than ‘established’ forms of involvement (for e.g. selling a regime arms), that is not ‘non-intervention’ that is passive action to maintain an intervention-based structure. ‘Passive intervention’, so to speak..

The genie is well and truly out of the bottle now. In an interview with the New York Times, President Obama has stated that the notion that arming the rebels would have made a difference has “always been a fantasy”:

“This idea that we could provide some light arms or even more sophisticated arms to what was essentially an opposition made up of former doctors, farmers, pharmacists and so forth, and that they were going to be able to battle not only a well-armed state but also a well-armed state backed by Russia, backed by Iran, a battle-hardened Hezbollah, that was never in the cards.”
    Meanwhile, rebels in Aleppo are under simultaneous attack from both the North and the South, by ISIS and the Assad regime, in a critical battle for survival:

“As such, the principal defenders of areas of Aleppo still under opposition control today are a wide array of moderate FSA factions, some of whom still receive limited military support from the West, and members of the fading Islamic Front, most of whom are from the Aleppo area. These groups have borne the brunt of fighting ISIS while also facing a sustained Syrian military assault. Both of these offensives have combined to leave Aleppo critically vulnerable.”

    Way to go for those who betrayed in word and deed, and scabbed in solidarity those who for once actually took action to change the reality of the world they live in (which the former complain about all the time and spend their hours pontificating on how to change according to ideological manuscripts). Those who would like to think of themselves as anti-orientalist (I refer here to the self-denominated ‘anti-imperialists’ – George Galloway, Stop the War and the like) have proven that they are completely shaped by orientalism in their thought, by letting their reaction get framed completely by the precepts of what they’re reacting against, for e.g. those who bragged about being able to ‘stop the war on Syria’ have got their heads so far up their (still) orientalist asses that they think it was all about them and getting their country involved, instead of studying what was actually going on there (even if it required a translator to read first-hand reports and accounts), whether their countries actually wanted to intervene or whether there was much more to it (did you see Obama engage in endless debate and hearings on whether to intervene today in Iraq?). But of course not, since for many of these it comes down to identity politics, ‘we’ with all our history and baggage should not be going in there to fix a problem, ‘we’ are the epitome of evil, ‘we’ cannot do any good.

Yet what if I hypothetically posit that active intervention (more on why its in italics in a bit) in this particular case would do good, would save lives that would not be saved otherwise, would actually be better for the people in the region? ‘I’m sorry, its a terrible situation but I just can’t support a ‘return’ to Western adventures [even if they will save thousands of lives]’, those lives will have to be unfortunately expendable because it would save future suffering (without putting it so bluntly). For some undoubtedly meanwhile, it is ‘I’ am so radical I can never support Western intervention (regardless of whether an active intervention can actually be the better option for the people I’m purporting to support). Incidentally, according to one poll (which barely showed the Syrian opposition in a bask of glory), the majority of Syrian people support foreign intervention to break the horrible cycle they are currently trapped in. But what would they know, they’re only ‘reactively’ thinking like that aren’t they?

(I should note, my entire critique here does not necessarily mean that I am ‘pro-intervention‘, but it seeks to dispute the tenets that are often associated with the opposite position and which are simplistic, and I argue, often perversely orientalist. My positions regarding such questions on intervention I prefer to take from what those revolutionaries are asking for and saying from the ground.)

Incidentally, I have always held that the West did not want to intervene in Syria even after the chemical attacks, because although it appeared to have certain advantages as a whole there was a high risk it was not in its logical interests, and until now I’ve been right. Nor should I be expecting them to or be overly disappointed of them not doing so. Rather what irks me is how those here did not understand the political game at all and did not seek to scratch beneath the surface. What irks me is the attitude of simplification, lack of engagement and arrogance, amounting very much to subtle, un-conscious orientalism in operation, on the side of those ‘supporting us’. ‘Oh you don’t want us getting involved, we know better than you’. The arrogance, do you think we on the other end of Western imperial might know ‘less’ than you of what that might can entail? Do you think Islamists fighting Assad (and now ISIS) and asking for Western arms are ‘enamoured’ about seeking Western support? Do you not understand that we are trying to resist those very structures put in place by colonialists? Do you think its a coincidence that people in Kosovo used to name their children after Clinton and Blair, warmongers as they were? Do you think its a coincidence that you have Yazidis today raising placards saying ‘Thank you USA’? Of course those Western imperialists were war mongers who acted in their interests, but in certain specific contexts their interests for a variety of factors happened to be the lesser evil at that moment in time and coincided to some degree with the people’s ones; when in a certain situation there are worse warmongers, a warmonger whose military rapes as a matter of routine, tortures and destroys entire cities. Instead you think of it as a zero-sum game.

Even the idea that a tyrannical Syrian power-seeker cannot be as bad as a tyrannical Western power-seeker is both a) mistaken and b) also again in a sense orientalist; a) mistaken because contrary to the idea that because he is not ‘white’ he cannot reach anything as bad as ‘us’, not least the fact that his actions can and have, he is also the vestige of a colonial and post-colonial legacy; b) orientalist because it offers the assumption that, in the hypothetical of his removal with the people now facing obstacles the West will put in front of them to prevent proper democracy (which I believe would be the case), at this point we do not have any autonomy to fight such further challenges and will undoubtedly be defeated by the West’s machinations. Yet indeed the fact that this is NOT a foregone conclusion and is very much a risk variable is *precisely* the reason the West has not from the start intervened in Syria or decisively backed the homegrown rebels, because it recognises the risk that supporting the revolution, even if putting obstacles after, might make the revolution succeed! The West is powerful, but it is not all-powerful. This is why today it prefers the survival of the Assad regime and a detente between them, so that they are able to focus together on ISIS.

So Re the commonly cited example, that the West had previously supported the Mujahedin in Afghanistan against the Soviets, since there was a large strategic advantage in doing so, but the Taliban were able to take over later ostensibly against their will (although incidentally I believe that have they the option to do so again, they would without a shadow of a doubt, but that’s a different matter). Rather what I find to be a remarkably more similar parallel to my mind in terms of the nature of the conflict (if with different colours) to Syria today is undoubtedly  the 1930s civil war in Spain. During that time the West too appeared to dislike the the fascists, as they formed a tangible threat to the West with the rise of Hitler, etc. Yet the Western imperialists were not too enamoured by the Republican, Leftist and anarchists on the other side either. They left them abandoned and often tacitly supported the fascists, not least by stopping resources going through to them, firstly through an arms embargo and then extending to eventually encompass a volunteers ban. Meanwhile, in Syria of course too, after a period of relative ‘flexibility’ to try and back the rhetoric with some form of ‘action’, there has been a ban on volunteers going to Syria to fight, while there have been also blockades attempting to the flow of weapons to the Syrian opposition.

Of course there are differences, a) that the opposition in this case has a very heavy religious component, rather than a socialist/leftist one (something which has abandoned it much support, ‘selective internationalism’), b) that the threat of communism taking hold in Western Europe was by far a much greater danger than that of Islamists doing so in the Near-East, meaning that British antipathy and tacit complicity against the Republican cause might have exceeded that of the Rebel cause in Syria, yet also c) that the threat of strengthening the Spanish fascists, and by extension their Italian and German backers far outweighed that of strengthening Assad (and his Iranian and Russian backers). Indeed, transversing through decades and generations, Neo-Nazi and fascist support for the Assad regime is an ignored phenomena, with many fascists even having gone to fight for him (not that that gets any coverage – its only the bearded ones). Indeed this is one of those ‘rare’ occasions which has brought the idiotic self-denominated-anti-imperialist ‘left’ (supposedly) and right together, and shows the overlap of their views with regards to the Syrian conflict.

The difference between ‘Non-Intervention’ and ‘Passive intervention’

How often do you hear this quote: ‘No good can come out of Western intervention, unfortunately they have to fight the battles no matter how costly themselves’. The foolishness! We are already fighting Western intervention in terms of the existent structures left to us by the West! Indeed even if we were to treat the merits of this statement hypothetically, you speak as if not intervening now would somehow establish a pattern of not intervening in the future (in the West’s interests) and the people’s battle for self-determination can eventually be fought unimpeded – yet what silly guarantee can you even offer that your governments will not intervene again in the future?? That we will be left to our own ‘self-determination’? That you have such control over your government’s policies! Illusions, much as we would like them not to be! And yet you formulate yourselves and your positions regarding actual current, real life struggles for emancipation happening now according to these illusions and hopes for a reality that doesn’t exist! And this is what you do not understand, that we live in a world of reality and not what *should* be the case, and we cannot act according to a reality which we might all want but does not exist! In our ideal ‘should-be’ world we would not have had colonialism occur in the first place! Yet to pretend it hadn’t, or that we aren’t fighting its remains today, is that being ‘progressive’? The battle to liberate ourselves was NOW and you failed to support us!

Instead of truly caring about the ends and not the means, the ends of helping people to liberate themselves and fight oppression, you would have been pushing your governments which at least have some form of representation to *help* those trying to liberate themselves (even if that involves making it attractive for them to intervene, if you were truly selfless yes!) as you inevitably push your governments to do other things (*not* intervene in military conflicts, pressing for various types of social reforms, etc.). Instead you leave them to their fates. After all, anti-establishment tactics do not consist of a 24/7 demand for the ‘collapse of the state’, a unilateral boycott/refusal to engage with it, and indeed inevitably always encompass engagement of some sort with the state, whether that’s consciously admitted or not. A campaign which tries to change government policy regarding say the introduction of a higher minimum wage, or to stop the privatisation of a certain facility does not do so raising slogans demanding the collapse of the state, but by putting pressure on it through different means. Even if those individuals engaged in such campaigns would like to see the ‘collapse of the state’, this does not mean that that is their policy and mechanism for every campaign when conditions for that goal are not ripe, for if that were the case very little progress could arguably be made while we wait for the ‘revolution’ (and while one could argue that such processes are in themselves part of the revolutionary process, one could equally argue that they are part of a reformist one which inevitably keep and legitimise the current system of government).

The only problem therefore is that you do not understand that the status quo IS Western Intervention (and to rectify it you must fight against it), so your understanding of ‘non-intervention’ is a fallacy. The idea that only ‘active’ and not ‘passive’ processes are the ones that count as ‘intervention’ is a fallacy you do not seem to comprehend. If the West saw an uprising occur and did not intervene any more than established involvement (for e..g selling a regime arms) that is not ‘non-intervention’ that is passive action to maintain an intervention-based structure. ‘Passive intervention’, so to speak.

This is why the West generally intervenes where it can make it worse, not better. Even after a vote in the House of Commons do you think the UK could not covertly help the opposition if they wanted to, regardless of what their ‘people’ think? Do you think that history does not exist?

But when the people rise up and it happened to be that that government they rose up against cannot be defended even by your governments than if you want to help you must push them to act! Organisations like Stop the War’s accomplishment was not to stop the war and massacre in Iraq but to stop any support for the Syrian revolution, and today we see what the result is with two forms of fascists taking back control (ISIS and Assad). Its amazing how the ‘resistance’ (to imperialism, neo-liberalism, the whole global order in general) in the Middle East knew what the problems were and took actions to fight it (even if against massive odds), despite their supposed ‘backwardness’ and ‘lack of advanced knowledge’ they knew the way to resistance and acted on it with little support, while the more developed, knowledgeable and ‘experienced’ elites of the advanced countries here knew nothing. What hope is there when even the fucking people on ‘our side’ have got it so wrong? We don’t want your solidarity. You’re just as blind (and think it ‘ideologically astute’) as your governments.

   For in its depths it comes down to identity politics (with varying degrees on ‘how deep’), identity politics that ‘you cannot ever support the West intervening’ even if it were to be in the hypothetical in the interest of the people living there, naturally rationalised by different means.