STATEMENT of IWL(FI)
Written by IWL-FI International Secretariat
Monday, 02 November 2015 12:05
The Syrian civil war is approaching its fifth year. At this time, the fury with which the dictator Bashar al-Assad clings to power has simply destroyed the country. More than 250,000 people have died. Two million are wounded, including thousands of permanently disabled people.
According to UN reports, six million people were forced to flee their homes, a third of the population. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says they are 11 million. Out of whom there are more than two million – half of them under-aged – who crossed borders and became “refugees” in Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq, Turkey and, as it’s widely known, knock on the doors of Europe and turn on the governments’ alarms. Around 280,000 Syrians reached European shores by the Mediterranean, 40% of all refugees so far this year.
Syria is bleeding before the entire world. The destruction of the country’s infrastructure – whose cities offer a ghostly landscape – and the terrible population decline will brand that society over the coming decades.
Russian air strikes to help Assad
In this context, after months of struggles that seemed to reach a military stalemate, the appearance on the scene of Russia begins to show changes in the course of the Civil War. Syrian ground forces were reported to carry out an offensive on rebel positions under Russian air cover.
In cities like Idlib and Hama (west), Aleppo (north), Latakia, a “fief” of the Assad family, and Tartus (Mediterranean coast), where the Russian naval facility is located, the troops of the dictatorship advance their lines along with thousands of Lebanese Hezbollah fighters and hundreds of Iranian “revolutionary” guards.
Despite Kremlin’s statements, it is very clear that the Russians are not targeting the Islamic State (IS) alone – that even took advantage of the air strikes to make advances in the Aleppo area – but mainly positions of the rebel militias. Just take a look at the map of Syria to realize that Russian bombs fall far from the so-called “caliphate”.
The intensification of Russian involvement is linked to a series of major setbacks in the first half of 2015, suffered by the Syrian government forces, battered after nearly five years of an enduring revolution. In fact, the dictator Assad currently controls only 25% of the territory and, despite the military “stalemate”, its resources have been drained continuously so far. In fact, he manages to remain in power just because of the support he receives from countries such as Russia, Iran, China, Lebanon’s Hezbollah, and even from “progressive” governments as those of Venezuela and Cuba.
While it is true that the Russian military power is superior to any of the Syrian allies, it would be wrong to conclude that, following the intervention of Putin, the revolution is necessarily “doomed.”
First because there are not, so far, troops on the ground. On the military field, air strikes can help a lot, but direct combat against the rebels are made by the battered regime forces as well as Hezbollah and Iranian guards.
So far, rebel militias are fighting the offensive tenaciously. They do it barely, lacking heavy weapons and the necessary military technology.
The central and essential issue is that the revolution, though cornered, continues. This is what explains Russian intervention and all current moves made by imperialism. Idlib is still controlled by rebel forces, primarily by Islamist groups like Al-Nusra Front and Ahrar al-Sham, which form the so-called Army of Conquest; every inch is fought in Aleppo; and pockets of armed rebels resist in Deraa (south) and in the very Damascus outskirts (East Guta). In the Syrian Kurdistan, the Kurdish militias still hold the IS hordes off.
A broad counterrevolutionary agreement facing difficulties
Thus, while rebel militias must face the Assad-Russia-Iran-Hezbollah alliance and the IS, a broad pact between the US, Europe, Russia and Iran to defeat the revolution and “stabilize” the country is going on in the diplomatic arena. They may differ in terms of rhythms and ways, but that is their main goal.
For a long time Washington, while rhetorically continues criticizing the Syrian dictatorship and charging it with humanitarian crimes, hasn’t posed Assad’s resignation. On the contrary, since the US began bombing Syrian soil – as from a year ago -, Obama and his generals insist that the “immediate goal” is to defeat the IS, not to overthrow Assad.
As part of this policy, the US is not only turning a blind eye to the Russian attacks on the rebels but also talking to Moscow on the need to “coordinating efforts in the struggle against ISIS and other terrorist groups,” as put by the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs after Obama and Putin meeting on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly. It also reported that the two countries would be “promoting political settlement in Syria in line with the June 30, 2012,” that means, a “negotiated solution” for Syria. 
In this regard, a few days ago, an agreement between the two countries to “coordinate” the use of the Syrian airspace was reached; a division of labor in which one bombs here and the other there…
Faced with the prolongation of a seemingly “dead-end” war; the emergence and consolidation of IS in the Syrian and Iraq territories that make up its “caliphate” and, furthermore, before the huge pressure exerted by the constant influx of Syrian refugees to Europe, American and European imperialism accelerate efforts to “stabilize” the country through a “political transition” without necessarily requiring the prior departure of Assad but considering his participation in the “negotiation process.”
In March, the head of US diplomacy, John Kerry, admitted that “in the end, we will have to negotiate”. On the other hand, it is clear that the Russian air strikes, in addition to paving the way for the dictatorial Syrian troops, represent an attempt to “force” a negotiation to maintain Assad in power. This is, in fact, the goal that Assad himself has been pursuing since the introduction of IS, trying to appear as a “lesser evil.”
Over a month ago, Kerry became more obvious on the American policy:
“We need to get to the negotiation. That is what we’re looking for and we hope Russia and Iran, and any other countries with influence, will help to bring about that, because that’s what is preventing this crisis from ending,” said Kerry. “We’re prepared to negotiate. Is Assad prepared to negotiate, really negotiate? Is Russia prepared to bring him to the table?” At the same time, he stressed that a possible exit of Assad “doesn’t have to be on day one or month one … there is a process by which all the parties have to come together and reach an understanding of how this can best be achieved.” 
Angela Merkel, who leads the main European imperialism, said in the same vein: “We have to speak with many actors, this includes Assad, but others as well“. The German Foreign Minister Frank Walter Steinmeier now admits:“There is no doubt that the presence of Russia has changed something.”
Philip Hammond, British Foreign Secretary, conceded that Assad could remain in power if it meant ending the conflict: “If the price for doing that is that we have to accept that Assad will remain as titular head of state for period of time, do I really care if that’s three days, three weeks, three months or even longer? I don’t think I do“. 
The same “softening” of positions was expressed by the Foreign Minister of France, Laurent Fabius, when he stressed that France will not demand al-Assad’s departure as a precondition for “peace talks”: “If we require, even before negotiations start, that Assad step down, we won’t get far.”  Jose Garcia-Margallo, Spanish Foreign Minister defended the same position a long time ago: “The time has come to enter into negotiations with the regime of Bashar Al Assad.”
So, on 23 October, Kerry and Lavrov, the Russian Foreign Minister met in Vienna with the foreign ministers of Saudi Arabia and Turkey to convene a “broader” international summit on Syria. The government of Iran, which is working closer to imperialism to “pacify” the region since the “nuclear deal”, was invited. It’s worth noting that both Iran and Russia administrations are interested in “solving” the Syrian conflict – in a favorable way to their interests – so as to halt the huge and increasing expenditures from their treasury.
The Vienna conference brought together foreign ministers from 17 countries, including the US, Russia, Saudi Arabia and, for the first time, Iran. However, neither the Syrian regime nor opposition representatives participated. The meeting, although it was described as an important “first step” by the US and Russia, ended with a vague statement: “to accelerate diplomatic efforts to end the war.” However, it is clear the “road map” designed by the White House and the Kremlin: call the United Nations to convene Syria’s government and opposition to start “a political process leading to credible, inclusive, non-sectarian governance, followed by a new constitution and elections;” and, above all, that Syria’s “state institutions will remain intact” during the transition.
This new diplomatic attempt can certainly have concrete political effects. However, it is important to consider the contradictions and difficulties to reach an effective agreement between the imperialism, Putin and the Iranian ayatollahs. Assad continues his offensive: the day of the conference in Vienna, the Syrian regime bombed a market in eastern Damascus killing more than 50 civilians. The “moderate opposition”, i.e., the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces was not invited. On the other hand, it will be very difficult to reconcile regional interests between Saudi Arabia and Iran. The same applies to Turkey and the Syrian Kurds, who have made military gains in Rojava under the Turkish PKK leadership, considered a “terrorist organization” by Ankara. In short: after nearly five years of an atrocious massacre, it will be difficult that one or even several summit meetings of foreign ministers end the conflict in the short term. The prospect that the Syrian conflict continues as a “long war” remains the most likely.
It is essential to reject any kind of “negotiated” agreement, because any deal between imperialism and the governments of Russia, Iran and Turkey will be beneficial to the Syrian people. Any kind of “political transition”, regardless of keeping Assad for more or less time in power, will not meet the democratic and economic demands of the Syrian people.
Even if some concessions “from above” are made, they will always be at the service of perpetuating the essence of the undemocratic (remain the institutions intact) and submissive Syrian regime; not to mention the semi-colonial capitalist structure of the country.
Only revolution can overthrow al-Assad and, with him, destroy the repressive, corrupt and servile to imperialism regime.
Strengthen solidarity with the Syrian revolution!
The Syrian revolution faces a difficult time. The counterrevolutionary front expands and begins to experience achievements on the ground.
Most of the international left, which unfortunately continues to support the dictator al-Assad must review this position that betrays the heroic struggle of the Syrian people.
The old story about the alleged “anti-imperialism” of the Syrian dictator is getting ridiculous. At this point it is clear that the policy of US and European imperialism is not to overthrow Bashar al-Assad. If some “stability” can be guaranteed with him in office or at least a “less chaotic” scenario than the current one, imperialism will not hesitate to support him. At the same time, Assad himself doesn’t save efforts to appear “reliable” and “necessary” to the imperialist plans in the region.
We continue to maintain that the only progressive solution to the Syrian people and the entire Middle East and the Maghreb passes by defeating the Syrian dictatorship and its allies. This would be a fundamental starting point. Therefore, it is necessary to oppose both the Russian and the US bombings. We also oppose the recent deployment of US “special units” in Syria, which, as announced by Obama, would serve as “advisers” against the IS.
Equally crucial is to oppose the ongoing counterrevolutionary pact that looks for a “negotiated solution” to defeat the revolution, preserve the essence of the regime and keeep the bloodthirsty Syrian dictator in power for a longer or shorter time.
There is no negotiation possible with who has killed the Syrian people and destroyed the country! The powers that now bombard Syria can’t be trusted!
More than ever, the unity among Arab rebels, and of those with the Kurds to defeat the dictatorship, the IS and imperialism is a decisive condition for victory. The unity in action between the Kurdish YPG and the FSA that occurred in Kobanê and Tal Abyad continues to show the way!
In this way, it is necessary to forge a revolutionary leadership able to guide this struggle to a worker, socialist and internationalist program.
Outside of Syria, the great task is to organize active solidarity and demand that each of our governments not only to sever diplomatic and trade relations with the Al-Assad dictatorship but also deliver heavy weapons, drugs and all kinds of supplies for the rebel troops. In Russia, it is necessary to call the people to reject Putin’s intervention on Syrian soil.
The international solidarity with the Syrian revolution is urgent. Strong support of labor, social, democratic organizations and, of course, the left parties can certainly tip the balance in favor of the Syrian people. This should be our immediate task.
For the defeat of al-Assad, Russia, Islamic State and imperialism!
No to US and Russia air strikes!
No to the US “special units” in Syria!
No counterrevolutionary pact for a “negotiated solution” in Syria!
For the victory of rebel forces!
São Paulo, October 29, 2015
 – Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ press release
 – http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/09/19/us-mideastcrisis-kerrytalks-idUSKCN0RJ0FX20150919
 – British Foreign Secretary speech
 – http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/09/21/us-mideast-crisis-syria-france-idUSKCN0RL27N20150921