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Thursday, April 4, 2013

Counterpunch: So Wrong on Syria

Available in Arabic here: كاونتربانش : الخطأ الكبير في سوريا

There is a whole trend of the Left, perhaps the dominant trend, that views world politics as largely a struggle between two camps that more or less represent the two classes whose struggle dominates the modern era, the proletariat and the bourgeois. These two camps are the imperialist camp, headed by the US, with the UK & EU, among others, coming up the rear and militarily organized through NATO and the anti-imperialist camp, headed by the former Soviet Union and China, and including a number of other socialist or ex-socialist countries and a number of countries ruled by dictators that have found it useful, for domestic as well as international purposes, to mock socialism [as Hitler did with his "national socialism"] and feign opposition to the imperialist camp.

Libya's Mummar Qaddafi and Syria's Bashar al-Assad are prime examples of this later category and they have been darlings of this trend in the Left.

So what did these Leftist do when the people of those countries, buoyed by the general uprising that shook the whole region beginning in December 2010, rose up to demand an end to these twin 40 year old dictatorships?

They backed the fascist dictators against the people!

Because Libya and Syria were run by fascist dictators, the response to peaceful protests was the immediate application of military power. There was none of the milk toast stuff where police were used but not the army as in Tunisia and Egypt, where the regime was "overthrown" without ever using the army against the people, where the regime was "overthrown" with the old army still in place. That happened partly because certain Western powers, in positions of influence in those countries, encouraged the army to stand down. They saw that as the best way to salvage their position from a bad situation and I believe history will prove them right. The revolution in Libya is real, thoroughgoing, and far more advanced than the changes in Egypt or Tunisia. Syria will soon move ahead of them as well.

Because they were fascist dictators, Qaddafi and Assad had build armies with lots of weapons and a willingness to use them against their own people, or so they hoped. Because they had the backing of a major fascist dictator, Putin of Russia, they had support for this most violent suppression of the people's movements.

Fortunately, the people of both countries rose to the tasks history has handed them and met armed suppression with armed resistance. They fought back!

In Libya, the dictator and his army were overthrown, the state had to be recreated from scratch. Now that they were free to do so, the people quickly built a free press, political parties and held elections just about as free and fair as anywhere in the world. Oil production was quickly brought back up and the violence has been coming down. The murder rate in Libya was half what it was in Chicago and a tenth of what is was in Venezuela last year. NATO planes have long since flown home and they were never able to put an army on the ground. Nevertheless, many Leftist, like those who write for Counterpunch, are still in the "Libya, just like Iraq" mode. They continue to dis the Libyan Revolution and they refuse to learn from the Libyan people.

When it comes to Syria, they are blind to the world that is right in front of them. They see Assad as the victim of an imperialist plot, just like Qaddafi or Saddam Hussein, another fascist dictator that really was the victim of an imperialist plot and not an uprising of his own people.

In a disconnect with reality that rivals those that think atomic bombs don't explode and the moon landing never happened, they see the Syrian Revolution as "Obama's War" and they blame him, not Assad, for the murder of 70,000 Syrians. This position leads them to obfuscating the suffering of the Syrian people and attempting to discredit the heroic nature of their struggle to overthrow their ruling class.

Examining a Counterpunch slap at the Syrian Revolution

Counterpunch recently published an excellent exposition of this thinking by way of an article by Shamus Cooke titled How Obama Chose War Over Peace in Syria in the weekend edition. As you have probably learned long ago, a mess is a lot easier to make than to sort out, so please bare with me while I dissect a few selections from this essay and show why it, and the trend it presents, is so tragically wrong.

From Counterpunch, 2nd ¶:
President Obama will have no talk of peace. He has chosen war since the very start and he’s sticking to it. A recent New York Times article revealed that President Obama has been lying through his teeth about the level of U.S. involvement in the Syrian conflict since the beginning.
Some people might say President Bashar al-Assad chose war over peace on 25 April 2011 when he ordered the 6,000 soldiers deployed in Daraa to open fire on unarmed protesters killing about 200 civilians and 81 defected soldiers in the next ten days, but not the Counterpunch crowd, all of Assad's crimes are forgiven in the name of fighting imperialism.

Speaking of "lying through his teeth," the recent NY Times article cited begins:

With help from the C.I.A., Arab governments and Turkey have sharply increased their military aid to Syria’s opposition fighters in recent months, expanding a secret airlift of arms and equipment for the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad, according to air traffic data, interviews with officials in several countries and the accounts of rebel commanders.

Nothing in this article talks about "U.S. involvement in the Syrian conflict since the beginning." This is just a flat out misrepresentation of what the article he cited says. The first airlifts started in January 2012 according to the NY Times piece they cited, which is to say that the Syrian revolution managed to survive ten months without even these meager foreign weapons.

The airlift to Syrian rebels began slowly. On Jan. 3, 2012, months after the crackdown by the Alawite-led government against anti-government demonstrators had morphed into a military campaign, a pair of Qatar Emiri Air Force C-130 transport aircraft touched down in Istanbul, according to air traffic data.

They were a vanguard.

Counterpunch would have you believe Obama is the puppet master running the whole show but I think Fouad Ajami came much closer to the truth in an opinion piece he penned for Bloomberg 27 March 2013:

In the matter of the Syrian rebellion, the U.S. hasn’t even “led from behind.” The Obama administration has pioneered a new role for a great power: We are now the traffic controllers, directing the flow of weapons to the rebels.

The money isn’t ours; it is Qatari and Saudi and Libyan. The planes hauling the weapons are Jordanian, Qatari and Saudi. And the risks are run by Syria’s neighbors, principally Jordan, Turkey and Lebanon.

These Leftist are so US centric and haughtily taken with the power of "their" country that they assume that if the US is involved in anyway, its a US show all the way. The real situation is much different. They embellish the imperialists with powers they don't really have.

The truth is that, all his rhetoric aside, Obama has bet on Assad for the past two years and now that its looking like Assad won't make the tape on this track, Obama's looking for influence with the likely winners. Also, Obama wants what Israel wants, even if, now that the election's over, he is willing to let the Syrian rebels have a few more weapons. But no MANPADS!

Israel likes Assad

Israel has also been betting on Assad, even through they condemned his regime once. This is the description that accompanies a video titled Israel - Secret Supporter of Syria Dictator Assad - Zionists Prefer Fascist Killer to Peoples Rule and posted to YouTube by Syria2012Archives:

Published on Mar 1, 2012
The Fascist Dictator of Bashar Assad , whose family has ruled over our long-suffering people for the past 42 years, has a secret friend in Tel Aviv. Yes, many prominent Israeli policy makers have weighed the pros and cons of having Assad the Dictator and have decided that "The Devil you Know is better than the one you don't know" and have secretly been pushing for the Americans to back off on calling for Assad for step down and resign as Dictator.

The Israelis know that Assad is a half-hearted anti-zionist and has not fired one single bullet at Israel in over 40 years and has kept the Israeli border with Syria quiet and "safe" for Israel for decades. The Israelis even blew up a suspected nuke plant in northern Syria and also had their War planes fly low over Bashar's summer home in Latakia and the Dictator hid and did nothing in response to the aggression. Assad will never take any forceful steps to regain the Golan Heights and the Israelis know that his anti-zionism is all pure politics and that he uses Israel as a "boogeyman" to justify continued anti-democratic measures at home and to continue to rule over Syria with his tightly controlled and corrupt Police State.

Along the same lines Haaretz had a piece by Salman Masalha:

Israel's favorite Arab dictator of all is Assad
Mar. 29, 2011
Both Assad senior and Assad junior advocated resistance against Israel. This slogan was hollow, serving the regime merely as an insurance policy against any demand for freedom and democracy.

As strange as it sounds, everyone in Israel loves Arab dictators. When I say everyone I mean both Jews and Arabs. The favorite dictator of all is president Assad. As Assad junior inherited the oppressive regime in Syria, so did both Jews and Arabs transfer their affection for the dictator from Damascus from Assad senior to his son. More...

Obama doesn't want regime change in Syria

Obama's goal in the Syrian Revolution has not been regime change, that is why the Counterpunch piece can say:
Obama’s rebels are — after two years — still in a poor position to bargain a favorable peace to the United States, no matter how many tons of guns the U.S. has dumped into Syria.
They didn't receive any heavy weapons until after they started acquiring them on their own, mainly by taking Assad's bases, to date that is the only way they have gotten any anti-aircraft missiles, thanks to Obama's "No MANPADS for You" policy. [MANPADS is an acronym for man portable air defense system]

As the NY Times article cited by Counterpunch notes, only in the past 3 months have they begun to receive large shipments of modern heavy weapons but still no badly needed modern anti-aircraft weapons to neutralize Assad's hold card, his "lifeline", his air force. The rebel assault on Aleppo has been stalled many times simply because they were running out of small arms ammo.

Anybody that thinks this is how an imperialist superpower, hell bent on regime change, supports its proxy army, is a fool.

No, Obama's strategy is to use the people's uprising to weaken the Assad regime, to force important concessions from the Assad regime to be sure, but to preserve the state machinery of the Assad regime even as it becomes clear, at this late date, that Bashar al-Assad, the man, will have to go.

While Counterpunch can talk about "tons of guns the U.S. has dumped into Syria," the truth is that what Obama's CIA has been doing in Turkey and Jordan is attempting to regulate the weapon's pipeline feeding opposition fighters from Qatar, Libya and Saudi Arabia, and since the US isn't contributing any weapons itself to this flow, they can only regulate it by slowing it down, acting as a filter to determine what weapons get through and when.

Again from the NY Times piece cited by Counterpunch:

The American government became involved, the former American official said, in part because there was a sense that other states would arm the rebels anyhow. The C.I.A. role in facilitating the shipments, he said, gave the United States a degree of influence over the process, including trying to steer weapons away from Islamist groups and persuading donors to withhold portable antiaircraft missiles that might be used in future terrorist attacks on civilian aircraft.

American officials have confirmed that senior White House officials were regularly briefed on the shipments. “These countries were going to do it one way or another,” the former official said. “They weren’t asking for a ‘Mother, may I?’ from us. But if we could help them in certain ways, they’d appreciate that.”

Behind the "No MANPADS for You!" policy

The US imperialist didn't fret too long about MANPADS falling into the hands of extremists when they were hell bent on regime change in Afghanistan in the 1980's and they weren't too worried about WMD in the hands of Saddam Hussein when they were helping him build chemical weapons factories to weaken Iran in the 1980's.

Obama doesn't refuse the rebels effective anti-aircraft weapons that could save thousands of lives because he fears they will fail into the hands of Islamists. If the does, he should have me introduce him to some rocket scientists that will build secure irreversible digital expiration dates that insure those puppies won't work after 6 months or a year, your choice. They may still hack them up for explosives and parts but they'll never take down an airliner. Hell, there are a million ways to secure them now. That wasn't possible in the 1980's but it sure as hell is now.

Ten years ago the Federation of American Scientists applauded the G8 Action Plan [to prevent MANPADS proliferation] of 2 June 2003 for its plans to "explore the feasibility of preventing unauthorized use of these weapons through the development of launch control features and other design changes." So maybe Obama should get a progress report.

Obama refuses the rebels effective anti-aircraft weapons because he knows that as long as Assad is free to use his air force he can kill even in territory he can no longer control on the ground. He can make sure there are no safe liberated areas and the opposition can do very little to bring safety and normality to the 60% of Syria they already control. As long as Assad has air supremacy the opposition can't win.

Obama refuses the rebels effective anti-aircraft weapons so Assad doesn't lose. Again from the NY Times piece cited by Counterpunch:

Many [rebels] were also complaining, saying they were hearing from arms donors that the Obama administration was limiting their supplies and blocking the distribution of the antiaircraft and anti-armor weapons they most sought. These complaints continue.
“Arming or not arming, lethal or nonlethal — it all depends on what America says,”
said Mohammed Abu Ahmed, who leads a band of anti-Assad fighters in Idlib Province.

I would suggest that Obama's real strategy in regulating this arms pipeline is to assure that the resistance has enough arms to keep them from losing but at the same time, lacks enough arms to allow them to win. This is a very old and cynical imperialist game and while I blame Assad first for the bloodshed of the Syrian people if Counterpunch were to credit Obama with much of it as a result of this craven policy, I would applaud them for it.

Instead, they really think Obama is behind the struggle for regime change, and apparently think Assad is justified in attacking civilians in defense of his state, and following that logic, blame Obama for all of the bloodshed in Syria:
This “arms pipeline” of illegal gun trafficking has been overseen by the U.S. government since January 2012. It has literally been the lifeblood of the Syrian “rebels,” and thus the cause of the immense bloodshed in Syria.
In other words, Counterpunch is laying responsibility for the deaths of more than 70,000 Syrians, not on the Assad regime or those that supply him with the cluster bombs and Scud missiles doing much of the killing, but on the US and anyone else they think is supporting the resistance to the Assad regime.

Russia and Iran keep Assad afloat

It is the Assad regime, not the revolution, that is on life support at this point. Without regular flights of money and arms from Russia and Iran, he would have been finished a year ago, but the anti-interventionists won't tell you that. Counterpunch may claim Assad "still enjoys a large social base of support" but from The Telegraph we have yet more proof of the way Russia and Iran are propping up Assad:

I flew secret missions carrying cash and weapons
into Syria for Assad, pilot reveals
A former Syrian army cargo pilot has revealed how he flew secret missions for the regime of Bashar al-Assad to carry cash and weapons into the country in the face of international sanctions.

By Nigel Wilson, Amman
8:00AM GMT 24 Mar 2013
The pilot, who asked to be identified only as Nazim, revealed that he or fellow pilots flew a cargo plane two or three times a month to collect bank notes from Russia - including large quantities of euros and dollars needed to prop up the regime.

He also recounted at least 20 missions to Tehran, two of which he flew himself, to collect Iranian arms and explosives for use by the regime in its effort to crush the rebellion that began two years ago.
Nazim, 50, spoke to The Sunday Telegraph from a border town in Jordan, where he fled with his family last September. He decided to quit Syria, where he had once been a supporter of the regime, after he and fellow pilots were arrested and imprisoned for 60 days over a plane crash that the regime regarded as suspicious. More...

This struggle has produce so many testimonials, videos, photos and reports, far more than any other conflict in history, that anyone in the world can know what the truth is. This is just one more story.

All wave the "War on (Islamic) Terror" in Syria

The Counterpunch piece goes on to define the opposition in Assad's terms:
The only effective fighting force for the Syrian rebels has been the terrorist grouping the Al Nusra Front, and now we know exactly where they got their guns.
This is a slight against the Free Syrian Army which formed up from Syrian Army defectors and Syrian activists more than 6 months before Jabhat al-Nusra, which translates to "The Support Front for the People of Syria," was founded. If the FSA wasn't an effective fighting force, as Counterpunch would have us believe, one would have thought Bashar al-Assad would have put down the rebellion long before al Nusra had time to form up.

While the al Nusra Front describes itself as an Islamic or jihadist fighting group, it denies being a terrorist organization, pointing out that it has not carried out any operations in other countries, hasn't targeted civilians, and has employed suicide missions only against the Assad regime. But as we have seen, "terrorist" is a very flexible and politically shaped charge. For example, during the Vietnam War, the US considered the National Liberation Front a terrorist organization, but not the US, even though we killed more than 3 million Vietnamese, most of them civilians, mostly with bombs.

In the case of Syria, President Obama, President Assad and Counterpunch are united in calling Islamic fighters against the Assad regime terrorists but they don't apply that label to the Assad regime even though they have clearly been responsible for the lions share of the slaughter.

Putting al Nusra on Obama's terrorist blacklist at the very time when they are one of the most effective, but not the only effective, military organization fighting Assad, is just another way to undermine the fight to overthrow Assad. The Guardian reported:

The State Department said the al-Nusra Front for the People of the Levant, which is taking part in the fight on the ground against president Bashar al-Assad, is an alias for al-Qaida in Iraq (AQI), and designated it as a "foreign terrorist organisation". The Obama administration said that AQI has been supplying money, weapons and manpower to the al-Nusra Front.
"It is an extremist organisation that has to be isolated," the official said in a telephone conference call with reporters. He said the aim was to expose the role of a-Nusra amid concern that its influence was expanding.

By which they mean, winning battles against Assad.

Al Nursa is a jhadist group and their politics may be similar al Qaeda, and therefore may be opposed for the same reasons for opposing al Qaeda, but the need to make then an alias for al Qaeda stems completely from US propaganda requirements. Since al Qaeda has been branded as the group that attacked the US on 9/11, all jhadist groups, irrespective of their origin, have to be branded as al Qeada, While Counterpunch happily accepts the Obama/Assad designation of al Nusra Front as an al-Qaeda alias and a terrorist organization, they fail to address the contradiction that arises from their claim that this is Obama's war, al Nusra is "the only effective fighting force for the Syrian rebels" according to them, and Obama's attempt to deny them weapons and support by blacklisting them.

Peace through Victory for Assad!

Counterpunch swings away:
If not for this U.S.-sponsored flood of guns, the Syrian rebels — many of them from Saudi Arabia and other countries — would have been militarily defeated long ago. Tens of thousands of lives would thus have been spared and a million refugees could have remained in their homes in Syria.
Provided, of course, that Bashar al-Assad decided to spare them once he was fully back in control. Lauren Wolfe, writing in the Atlantic, 3 April 2013, gives us some idea of what they do when they are in control, as well as the type of regime the Counterpunch crowd wants to see prevail:

One day in the fall of 2012, Syrian government troops brought a young Free Syrian Army soldier's fiancée, sisters, mother, and female neighbors to the Syrian prison in which he was being held. One by one, he said, they were raped in front of him.

Yes, hundreds, maybe thousands, of foreign fighters have come to Syria to support the struggle against the dictatorship, even some from the US, but the vast majority of the fighters are from Syria, even from the Syrian Army. In a 2 April 2013 article titled "Foreigners make up a tiny fraction of the Syrian opposition" in Foreign Policy, John Hudson cites a recent study that concludes foreigners make up less than 10% of the fighters. This is an inconvenient truth for Counterpunch as is the reality that the US has not sponsored a flood of guns to the Syrian rebels. Most of the weapons used against the Assad regime have been taken from the Assad regime as has almost always been the case with revolutions.

Counterpunch ignores that fact that the Syrian people were tired of being dragged from their homes and tortured for the slightest suspicion. Nazim, Assad's defected cargo pilot, adds to the catalog of police state horrors heard from Syria:

A Sunni Muslim, Nazim also described how he and other officers were arrested and imprisoned in a tiny cell, measuring four feet by seven and a half feet, after a cargo plane crash landed, killing the pilot - a member of the Alawite sect to which the Assad family belong.

“They took me from work and they put me in prison for 60 days. We were 12 people,” he said. “There were some pilots, some civilians and some artillery. All of them were officers.” He was interrogated about the plane crash almost daily until in mid-September - with no explanation offered - he was abruptly released.

“I decided to leave Syria when I got out of prison, because when I got home I found my house was burned down,” he said.
I was in the army, working for the government, and yet they burned my house.

The people were tired of 42 years of Assad family rule and rose up against it as part the general Arab uprising that began in December 2010. Counterpunch doesn't credit them with having any autonomy, just as they don't blame Assad for any of the slaughter. To hear Counterpunch tell it, those who took up arms against the regime after it responded to peaceful protests with gun fire, and those who supported an armed resistance are responsible for all the misery and destruction. It would appear that Counterpunch thinks it wrong to take up arms against the Assad regime and is still hoping to see the rebels defeated militarily and the Assad regime prevail.

Counterpunch is pushing the Assad line that all of his troubles are the result of a US plot. This piece is sprinkled with phrases like "Obama’s National Coalition of Syrian Revolution", "Obama’s precondition for peace","Obama’s rebels", "Obama’s prized rebels" etc. in lieu of anything like evidence, as if repetition alone could establish the facts. Never mine that it is the Syrian opposition that has been steadfast in demanding an end to the Assad regime, according to Counterpunch they are of no account, its all an Obama show.

To prove the point, Counterpunch indulges in another bit of misrepresentation and slander:
The most popular leader of the National Coalition of Syrian Revolution, Moaz al-Khatib, recently quit in protest because he was prohibited from pursuing peace negotiations by the U.S.-appointed opposition Prime Minister, Ghassan Hitto, a U.S. citizen who had lived in the U.S. for the previous 30 years.
So according Counterpunch, al-Khatib quit because he wants peace negotiations and Obama and his rebels want only war.

Again, I find it ironic that Counterpunch chose to lead with the charge of lying through teeth. To show you what I mean, I'm afraid I'll have to quote a big exert from a Reuters report last Wednesday that includes the words of the man himself:

The refusal of international powers to provide Patriot missile support for rebel-held areas of northern Syria sends a message to President Bashar al-Assad to "do what you want", Syrian opposition leader Moaz Alkhatib said on Wednesday

Alkhatib, a popular figure in the opposition, also said he would not rescind his resignation as leader of the main anti-Assad alliance but he would still perform leadership duties for the time being.

NATO said on Tuesday it had no intention of intervening militarily in Syria after Alkhatib said he had asked the United States to use Patriot missiles to protect rebel-held areas from Assad's air power.

"Yesterday I was really surprised by the comment issued from the White House that it was not possible to increase the range of the Patriot missiles to protect the Syrian people," Alkhatib told Reuters in an interview.

"I'm scared that this will be a message to the Syrian regime telling it 'Do what you want'."

Asked about his resignation on Sunday as leader of the rebel coalition - which he has said was motivated mainly by frustration at Western reluctance to increase support for the opposition - he said: "I have given my resignation and I have not withdrawn it. But I have to continue my duties until the general committee meets."

So Moaz al-Khatib is saying that he "resigned" (but nonetheless, represented the National Coalition at the Arab League.) in protest of a lack of military support from Obama and NATO, and not, as Counterpunch would have you believe, because they are pushing war and he is a man of peace.

As to the "U.S.-appointed opposition Prime Minister, Ghassan Hitto," it would seen that what really happened was much more nuanced and complex than Counterpunch is letting on. According to the NY Times:

The member [of the National Coalition] said that Saudi Arabia threatened to cut off financing and divide the coalition if its favored candidate for prime minister, Assad Mustafa, was not chosen. That demand enraged coalition members, who responded by quickly choosing Mr. Hitto, who was backed by Qatar and the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood, the member said.

This scenario is a bit more complex than Counterpunch can admit to. They can't allow that any daylight exists between the Obama administration and the House of Saud, let alone between the Syrian opposition and US imperialism. Puppets can't show such independence. Counterpunch says:
By appointing Hitto as the leader of the opposition, Obama has splintered the already-splintered opposition ...
So as far as Counterpunch is concerned, Obama appointed opposition leader Hitto much as he appointed John Kerry his Secretary of State and the Syrian people had no say in either choice.

This Counterpunch piece tries to make its case by spouting a shallow narrative of events, cherry picking a few quotes from the main stream media, and then maligning them. A prime example follows:
Obama has rejected both Russian and Syrian calls for peace negotiations in recent months, as he has greatly increased the frequency of the weapons trafficking plan. Reuters reports on the Obama Administration’s reaction to peace proposals from Russia and Syria:
“…[Syria's Foreign Minister's] offer of [peace] talks drew a dismissive response from U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who was starting a nine-nation tour of European and Arab capitals in London [to help organize support for the Syrian rebels].”
Once you take away Counterpunch's inserted conclusions about what the talks and trip were for, and add the sentence following that quotes Kerry, you get a different view of why he was dismissive of "peace talks" with Assad:

His offer of talks drew a dismissive response from U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who was starting a nine-nation tour of European and Arab capitals in London.

"It seems to me that it's pretty hard to understand how, when you see the Scuds falling on the innocent people of Aleppo, it is possible to take their notion that they are ready to have a dialogue very seriously," Kerry said.

Kerry here is just echoing the demands of the Syrian opposition when the says they won't negotiate with Assad, rather than the other way round. Since Counterpunch is all about denying the National Coalition any autonomy, they can't have it that way.

Assad and Putin are quite willing to talk about talking as long as it doesn't interfere with their slaughter of civilians with Scuds and cluster bombs, because terror and slaughter are tools they prefer and depend on. Counterpunch also makes no demands that they stop weapons trafficking or the purposeful attacks on civilian targets, they do demand that Assad's opposition have no such preconditions for talks before they come hat-in-hand to the table with Assad while he continues to let the Scuds crash into neighborhoods.

And with regards to Moaz al-Khatib's alleged proposal for a "political settlement" via peaceful negotiations with Bashar al-Assad, that was nothing but a very good propaganda ploy, designed to make Assad be the one that refused the negotiation, which it did, because it contained conditions al-Khatib knew Assad would never agree to, conditions Counterpunch neglected to mention. The National reported:

Mr Al Khatib said he was prepared to meet representatives of the Syrian regime in Cairo, with important caveats. First, he said, 160,000 detainees, including all of those held by the feared air force intelligence security branch, must be released.

The second condition was that all Syrians living abroad have their passports reinstated. Many exiled opposition figures have no legal status in Syria.

Mr Al Khatib said the proposal was a "goodwill initiative to seek a political solution to the crisis, to prepare for a transitional phase that prevents any more bloodshed".

It was reaction to a plan by Mr Al Assad calling for rebels to unconditionally surrender and for the opposition to enter negotiations.

I hope that this detailed examination of these excerpts gives you some idea of the sort of intellectual dishonesty these Leftists have to stoop to prop up their bankrupt position.

These Counterpunch Leftists are only opposed to intervention on the side of the Syrian people, as far as they are concerned, anyone has every right to supply requested support to the legitimate government of Syria, the same way the French are doing in Mali or the US did with South Vietnam.

Counterpunch quotes the Russian government as saying:
"Moscow is convinced that only a political settlement and not encouraging destructive military scenarios, can stop the bloodshed and bring peace and security to all Syrians in their country.”
But they fail to even mention Russia's admitted supply of weapons to the Assad regime and even their recent threat to put Russian boots on the ground in defense of the Assad regime.

Counterpunch lets us know that they are predisposed to blame any chemical weapons use on the resistance:
if the Syrian rebels get hold of chemical weapons and use them on the Syrian government — as seems to be the case —
In his closing paragraph, Shamus Cooke comes back to the overriding theme of this Left trend when it comes to the Syrian Revolution, its all a remake of the Iraq War, with variations:
Obama’s Bush-like determination to overthrow the Syrian government has led him down the same path as his predecessor, though Obama is fighting a “smarter” war, i.e., he’s employing more deceptive means to achieve the same ends, at the exact same cost of incredible human suffering.
Counterpunch is supporting a fascist regime in its struggle against the people and yet this passes for a respectable Left position and that is so wrong because the Syrian people are suffering mightily from that dictatorship and struggling heroically to overthrow it and they could use the help of more dedicated revolutionaries, even here in the US.

Click here for a list of my other blogs on Syria


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  3. Excellent and timely piece. perfect.

  4. Absolutely right. Great article. Anyone who thinks Assad is a "socialist" or a friend of the workers is a complete idiot. And it's perfectly obvious that Obama and Israel prefer the vile Assad regime to anything else that might replace it. Smarter analysts like Noam Chomsky recognize this. I think a lot of impressionable people took their cue from Chavez who very unfortunately backed the Syrian slaughterhouse regime. I think Chavez was a good man and it's very sad he gave his support to the Assad mafia gang.

  5. It broke my heart when Castro came out in support of Qaddafi. Chavez broke it twice. Just goes to show these guys don't know everything.

    Maybe certain "geo-political" considerations come into play that don't cloud my judgement or maybe they just haven't studied these situations and are marching along with certain "Left" commonplaces, I don't know, but none of that changes the facts.


  7. I still think the Left will find itself and change course on Syria. There are been a lot of confusion on this question because of the simpler (from an anti-imperialist standpoint) situations of Vietnam & Iraq. Also there has been Russian and old left money around to promote the Assad camp view of things, but the truth will win out in the long run and most on the Left really do want liberation.