A SurrIV statement on Syria and the Arab Spring
The Syrian uprising, which continues despite the bitter setback of defeat at Homs – like the Libyan revolution that preceded it – cannot be considered in isolation from the wider Arab Spring of which it is part.
This uprising of the exploited and downtrodden, this elemental fury of the Arab street, has initiated a long process that is redrawing the map of the Middle East – for decades a map of straight edges shaped not by the tidal actions of millions, but cut abruptly by the bayonets of competing imperialisms and the swords of the elites in hoc to them.
Contagious revolt has upset the strategic plans of Western imperialism, which now attempts to regain the initiative, hoping to neuter the struggle by riding to its head and posing as a friend. In doing so, it abandons its support for some previously friendly client regimes (Mubarak, Gaddaffi) whilst continuing to bolster others (such as Bahrain). And, within the mass movements themselves, promotes the more pliable pro-western, pro-capitalist liberals who have come to the fore.
In some cases, such as in Egypt, this has dammed the progress of the revolution, with the consolidation of a military regime little different from the one it “replaced” but for the additional co-opting of the Muslim Brotherhood as a loyal opposition.
In Libya, the process went much further. The Gaddaffi regime was buried with the active military intervention of the Western branch of the imperialist family (led by Britain, France and the US), whose nervous gazes are now fixed on their estranged brothers, China and Russia, as much as on the states of the Arab world.
In Syria, we continue to counsel against the embrace of imperialism. We counterpose to demands for imperialist intervention our own demand for ARMS WITHOUT STRINGS to the revolutionaries. We call for this against the United Nations arms embargo that can only contain the struggle, which favours the Assad regime and prevents a radical rupture with imperialism itself.
Our support for the absolute right of oppressed peoples to throw off their shackles and cast the dice for a better future is unconditional. It does not depend on the character of this or that faction of the leadership, or the direction they may face from one day to the next. It does not rise and fall like mercury depending on the pace or temperature of the struggle.
However, the other side of that coin of principled support for the right to revolt is the obligation to criticise; to offer advice or to issue warnings. The lessons of previous struggles are plain to us and we will not bite our tongues in the fatuous belief that a false façade of unity is more important than the elaboration of a correct perspective.
Principally, we argue that the immediate spontaneous demands for national liberation, social justice and radical democracy cannot be fully realised or made permanent within the framework of capitalism or under the aegis of imperialism. Nor can the struggle proceed without a break from local bourgeois, clerical or military elites. They are the gardens in which the seeds of internal counter-revolution are sown.
With pens of hope and anger the masses have written their verses in the street, in the public square, in the factory and in the marketplace.
We will not allow the imperialists to edit or censor this poetry of revolution, to cram it into meagre volumes. Nor shall we let the jackals of counter-revolution blot the pages with red ink.