Two statements about Syria

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I am reprinting these two statements about the situation in Syria in the hopes that they will bring a modicum of clarity to the debate in the US left about the Syrian Revolution. I first saw them on Jews sans frontieres, An Anti-Zionist blog. They were originally translated by the Free Haifa blog:

28 movements, parties and activists issue common declaration supporting the Syrian people and calling for the release of political prisoners in the Arab Homeland
From the Arab Gulf to Syria, the Nile Valley and the Arab Maghreb – The People Unite in Solidarity!

At the time that the Arab states turn toward legal, political and economic reforms, pushed by the popular anger against the legal and economic situation that was afflicted on our Arab countries during the past periods by autocratic and repressive regimes, which acted to weaken the Arab peoples, keep them in ignorance and kill all their creative energies in an orderly and systematic way, we find that some states didn’t stop practicing some violations against the Arab activists in their different countries, in spite of the arrival (to the government) of some of the political parties that suffered a lot from the authoritative practices.

This happens while there is still Arab refusal to adopt a decisive stand against the regime of Bashar Al-Assad and his armed gangs, which commit daily massacres against the Syrian people and against the youth, who come out every day in peaceful demonstrations against the regime of Bashar Al-Assad.

In Morocco nearly 80 activists from the youth groups, and at their foremost activists from “The 20th of February Movement”, are still held in detention. In Jordan the authorities arrested nearly 18 activists from “The Jordanian Popular Movement” and referred them to the State Security Court, which is a military unconstitutional court. All the activists in Jordan and Morocco are detained for their political views and their demands for reform programs.

In Cairo the Egyptian authorities still use some illegitimate practices against the Egyptian activists who demand some economic reforms and putting an end to the use of military courts against civilians, including demonstrators (Khaled Mekdad, Ahmad Al-Dakroury and Ahmad Manna) and children (Islam Harby and Mohammad Ihab) and the release of the revolution’s officers, which are detained on the order of the former Defense Minister Hussein Tantawi.

In Bahrain the authorities did not stop practicing continuous violations that are incompatible with human rights principles. The military’s influence still costs the lives of civilians. The last case was the killing of a demonstrator, aged 17, in his village South West of the Bahraini capital Manama. He was shot by the security forces and died as a consequence. The security forces also arrested dozens and keep them in detention without bringing them to trial. Dozens of prisoners of conscience and people detained for their political views are still languishing in Bahraini prisons, including Human Rights and political activists, which were arrested because of their demands for political, constitutional and legal reforms.

In Algeria many Human Rights, trade unionist and political activists are subject to detention and judicial harassment.

In Sudan the number of detainees held by the authorities exceeded 1700. The situation was aggravated by the detention of more than 15 Sudanese women. Some of them were released and others are still held under detention in Sudan’s prisons.

We, the undersigned groups, declare our full solidarity with the Syrian people, their right to self determination and their demand for Bashar Al-Assad giving up power. We affirm our support for the initiatives of peaceful struggle in Syria.

We also demand from the authorities in Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Algeria, Sudan and Bahrain to respect Human Rights and the freedom of opinion and expression, to act quickly for the immediate release of all the detained activists and to put an end to all the extraordinary actions taken against them. We also call for the implementation of all the legitimate demands raised by those activists, including legitimate economic, legal and constitutional reforms.
6 April Youth Movement – Egypt
The Constitution Party – Egypt
The Egyptian Current Party – Egypt
No to Military Trials – Egypt
The Jordanian Youth Movement – Jordan
I Deserve A Civil Trial – IDACT – Jordan
Girifna Movement – Sudan
The 20th of February Movement – Morocco
ATTAC Morocco association against capitalist globalization
Association of Moroccan Workers in France – France
Independent Youth Movement for Change – Algeria
Syrian Peaceful Movement Group – Syria
“One People One Destiny” Campaign – Syria
Syrian Week – Syria
Demonstration Team – Syria
“Waw Al-Wasel” Group – Syria
The Syrian Democratic Forum – Syria
Youth Against the Settlements – Palestine
Palestinians with the Syrian Revolution – Palestine
Youth and Students sector in The Democratic Progressive Forum Association – Bahrain
Youth Bureau in The Patriotic Democratic Action Association (Wa’ad) – Bahrain
Libya Youth Movement – Libya
The Libyan Association for Humanitarian Relief – Libya
Arab National Figures
Human Rights activist – Khaled Ali – former candidate for the presidency – Egypt
Engineer Ahmad Maher – member of the Constituent Assembly for the Constitution
MP Ziyad Al-Alimi –member of the former People’s Assembly – Egypt
Khalaf Ali Al-Khalaf – Syrian writer
Rabab Al-Bouti – Syria
Ahmad Lanki – member of the Libyan National Congress
Mohammad Al-Aouni – head of “freedoms of media and change” organization – Morocco

Original English translation from the Free Haifa Blog.

Original Arabic link

The Chaos of the Armed Movement and the Organisation of the Syrian Revolution

from Yassari, Edition 11, by the Left Coalition in Syria – Mid-September 2012

The introduction of arms to the Syrian revolution, after months of peaceful struggle, did not come out of the blue, nor was it simply an emotional reaction. There were some parties who, from the beginning, called for arming the revolution and advocated violence. However, it was surely the increasing violence used by the authorities that made peaceful youth, who completely believed in a peaceful movement, change their minds, especially when the regime involved the Syrian army in a war against citizens at the end of July 2011, and when they adopted increasing tactics of killing and humiliating the people in Syria from August 2011.

There is no point, therefore, regretting the move from peaceful demonstrations, or fearing this significant step now. There is not even any point discussing it now. We have moved from the phase that the revolution started with, the peaceful spontaneous demonstrating of ordinary people, to the revolution of all methods, with demonstrating and fighting taking place together. Since we have reached this phase, it is important now to study the problems, as the revolution is now in need of planning, by learning from previous lessons and organising all elements.

Sensitive issues need to be addressed here. First, how to organise the armed struggle (connecting groups and finding clear strategies of how to develop this struggle). Secondly, how to coordinate between the armed movement and the popular movement, especially since the armed struggle has stolen all the attention and popular demonstrations have become marginal. Third, we need to think of how to organise and control the free areas, which are not under the control of the authorities anymore.

The armed people in Syria are actually separate groups who all call themselves “Free Army” (this is dangerous because it is a vague phrase which anyone could use) - some of them defected from the Syrian army (these are the main foundation), some are sectarian, and the rest, the majority, are ordinary people, with no experience in working with wars and weapons, and therefore they only undertake defence, and when they attack instead, lots of mistakes take place. They have made mistakes, but they haven’t learnt from them. The main mistake has been basing themselves inside residential neighborhoods, and staying there until the regime forces attack and destroy them, which has had a very negative effect on the popular movement there and almost stopped it in some areas. “Liberating” areas without considering the strength of the regime’s forces means aggravating the struggle instead of developing it. What is important now is to focus on attacking the sensitive centres, the army on their way to control cities, and the locations where rockets and cannons are based.

Most of these fighters are the same young people who took part in the demonstrations at the beginning of the revolution. They are fighting today without sufficient training, and with light weapons which they obtain from military warehouses or purchasing from weapons dealers at high rates. They won’t obtain any better weapons to win this war because those providing them with weapons don’t want the war to end. Thus, these groups are not able to turn into an army, and they will not be able to compete with the regime’s forces. They shouldn’t locate themselves at the centre of residential areas for a long time. Warfare at the street level requires replacing the policy of being at the centre with a dynamic policy, moving all the time, and the sudden attack of security and army centres, instead of waiting for them to attack first.

This requires an advanced military strategy against a regime using all its military abilities. It needs coordination between groups and organisation of their activities. It also requires forming a structure to being together these groups, with rules and laws to control their activities and their relations with the public, as well as their actions towards the ‘shabiha’ forces and the army officers who are fighting against their people, or even those who are in the Syrian army, but have not been involved in killing.

We must fear not pushing aside the extremist religious groups, in order to save the revolution from their foolish military or sectarian mistakes. We must not fear any conflict with them now, because it is much better to get rid of them than to wait until they become stronger later. It is one of the Free Syrian Army’s duties to protect ‘minorities’ now, who support the Syrian regime or are silent, to protect them from crimes which these extremist groups could commit against them. Some of these groups were formed to commit such crimes against ‘minorities’, who are part of the Syrian people, even if they are silent, hesitating, or only a small part of them is taking their part helping the Syrian revolution, because they fear the Syrian regime, or because they are not happy with the statements of some people in the Syrian opposition, or even fear the Gulf’s media and those behind it. It is very dangerous to allow some parties to play the sectarian game under the umbrella of the revolution. This only causes more fears for these people, and makes them even more convinced that the regime is the least scary option. What we need now is the exact opposite, we need to show them that the revolution is owned by all the people (including themselves), and we need to protect the public institutions in Syria, and the security of the people, since the situation here could allow gangs to control areas because the police is not able to protect people there.

The military strategy we need must support the people and their activities. We must recognise the popular movement, since it is the most powerful tool in this revolution. The revolution will not win without the popular movement, which causes more trouble to the regime than the weapons the revolutionaries have. The might of the revolutionary armed movement is dependent on the popular movement, and should not destroy this movement by moving to the centre of the residential areas in which the popular movement is based. This will eventually cause the destruction of these areas, since it is impossible to defend them, leading to the migration of the demonstrating people from these areas, becoming a burden in need of help rather than the main element in the revolution.

The strategy requires re-organising coordinating committees everywhere by learning from the experience they have gained during the revolution, so they can motivate the public movement. They should study the situation to organise when and how to demonstrate and what slogans reflect the revolution’s goals and the demands of the people involved. They also need to draw the main policies, to avoid counting on the international community and focus on the movement inside the country instead.

We should prepare to control the areas where the regime has no authority anymore (we are not saying these areas became librated, as mentioned above). We need to fulfill our duties by supplying the people with their daily supplies and to set up an alternative authority, to provide security.

To achieve that, we need to find true leadership from local committees and the armed groups together, as well as other community bodies which could organise the relations between parties, draw up the general policies and represent the revolution by working on achieving its goals.

In conclusion, the goals and policies of the revolution should be made clear now, after all the complications the revolution has been experiencing. It is very important to organise our work for the revolution, and to prepare to form an alternative authority with the collapse of the regime day by day. The regime may be making a last attempt, but it will fail as previous ones failed too. Therefore, there is no point being spontaneous anymore, and there is no space for confusion anymore. We need to forget about a purely military solution, and realise that the idea of ‘liberating cities’ doesn’t work. We are not Libya, and will not be. We must commit to our popular movement, supported by an armed movement to paralyse the forces of the regime and upset their military logistics.

We have progressed very well so far. The regime is no longer the strong side, and therefore we must organise ourselves to use this advantage and move the revolution forward.

Yassari, Edition 11, by the Left Coalition in Syria – Mid-September 2012

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