‘Left’ Delusions Regarding Libya & Syria

One of the many pro-government protests in Syria

“Some people never learn.” That’s the conclusion one reaches from reading the shameful coverage of the unrest in Syria by the plethora of ostensibly ‘left’ groups in the United States. In the same way that groups like the International Socialist Organization (ISO) revealed their heinous liberalism in regards to Libya, this chorus of ‘left’ groups have joined again in defense of the Syrian opposition movement, who began protesting President Bashar al-Assad’s government in late March.

Perhaps the most frustrating aspect of articles like “Repression and defiance in Assad’s Syria”–written for Socialist Worker by ISO member Yusef Khalil on April 25, 2011–is that it echoes the ISO’s bogus position on Libya, which granted de facto support to NATO’s imperialist invasion. Although we’ve come to expect this from a ‘left’ group that called the collapse of the Soviet Union an event that “should have every genuine socialist rejoicing,” their continued embrace of the West’s line on the Middle East demonstrates that the ISO is not a legitimate anti-imperialist organization. (1)

A close examination of Syria yields three important conclusions: (1) Marxist-Leninists and anti-imperialists should unequivocally support President Assad’s government against the US-funded opposition, (2) President Assad’s government is the most progressive state in the Middle East, and (3) the ISO’s position rejects Leninism and offers de facto support for imperialist aggression towards Syria.

Western ‘leftists’ embarrassed themselves on Libya.

NATO bombing Libya

The NATO invasion of Libya greatly embarrassed ‘left’ groups throughout the West. Predominantly white and petty-bourgeois in class character, this loose association of liberals masquerading as socialists and academics supported the Libyan opposition movement against the government of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi from the moment it broke out. Indeed, President Barack Obama, Prime Minister David Cameron and President Nicholas Sarkozy have the ISO to thank for pioneering the slogan they trumpeted in their April 14th pro-war op-ed: “Gaddafi Must Go!” (2) (3)

Despite tremendous evidence to the contrary, these ‘left’ groups extolled the revolutionary character of the rebellion and foolishly downplayed the possibility of Western imperialist intervention. Immanuel Wallerstein, a favorite academic for many ‘left’ groups in America, wrote an article that would be particularly hilarious to read in retrospect if it wasn’t so tragically wrong. Entitled “Libya and the World Left,” Wallerstein writes:

The second point missed by Hugo Chavez’s analysis is that there is not going to be any significant military involvement of the western world in Libya. The public statements are all huff and puff, designed to impress local opinion at home. There will be no Security Council resolution because Russia and China won’t go along. There will be no NATO resolution because Germany and some others won’t go along. Even Sarkozy’s militant anti-Qaddafi stance is meeting resistance within France. (4)

Among his many errors, Wallerstein confuses his primary and secondary contradictions. He writes that “The issue therefore is not Western military intervention or not. The issue is the consequence of Qaddafi’s attempt to suppress all opposition in the most brutal fashion for the second Arab revolt.” (4) Thus, Wallerstein concludes, “despite the call of the hawks for U.S. involvement, President Obama will resist.” (4)

Wallerstein’s article is an embarrassment. In fact, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez was correct in warning Gaddafi of imperialist intervention. Obama did not “resist” the imperialist desire to invade Libya. Russia and China did “go along with it,” at least insofar as they refused to veto the UN’s no-fly zone resolution; the same resolution that Wallerstein said would never happen.

If only Wallerstein was an anomaly! Socialist Worker, the ISO’s newspaper, published a slew of anti-Gaddafi articles in the days leading up to the NATO invasion. Bending over backwards to justify the Libyan rebels’ cause, Socialist Worker re-published an article with the absurd title, “The West’s fear of Qaddafi’s fall,” on the front page of its website. (5) Like Wallerstein, the article tries to argue that NATO’s threats are only political posturing because Qaddafi’s government serves the interests of imperialism. Also like Wallerstein, NATO’s invasion completely discredited the article’s content.

Additionally, a nearly incoherent March 9th Socialist Worker editorial entitled “The US is no friend to Libya’s uprising,” argues that NATO would only invade Libya because it felt threatened by the popular uprising. It reads:

Libya is one link in a chain of popular uprisings sweeping the Arab world. The region-wide rebellion has left the U.S. scrambling to respond to the toppling of its longtime allies in Egypt and Tunisia–and the possibility that other U.S.-backed dictatorships, like Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, could also succumb to revolt. Intervention in Libya would provide the U.S. government with a golden opportunity after the setbacks it has suffered. (6)

The ISO took an erroneous “third way” position in Libya, claiming to denounce the imperialist invasion while simultaneously arguing that the current Libyan government “must go.” (3) Unable to acknowledge that the Libyan rebels were actively working in the interests of Western capital, they write in the same editorial, “That’s why we stand with those in the Libyan rebellion who call for the U.S. and other Western powers to keep out.” (6)

Regardless of whether any such rebels actually exist, the facts are in:

  • The Libyan rebels systematically target black African migrants by maiming, torturing, and lynching them. (7)
  • The Libyan rebels met with Western leaders, like Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and were formally embraced by imperialist countries like France and the US. (8) (9)
  • The Libyan rebels are tied to al-Qaeda and other fundamentalist groups that, incidentally, have historically committed acts of terrorism against the Libyan people and were militarily opposed by Gaddafi. (10)
  • The Libyan rebels have the blessing and tactical support of Western finance capital, demonstrated through the willingness of international banks to freeze Gaddafi’s assets and loan money to the rebels. (11)
  • The CIA has and continues to work closely in Libya alongside the so-called ‘rebels’. (12)

Time and time again, these so-called ‘leftists’ get into bed with reactionary tools of imperialism. Nearly any group that opposes the laundry list of governments that the ISO opposes can count on the organization’s support, provided they can turn out at least a couple hundred people to a protest. President Chavez was right about Libya because he understands imperialism. Western ‘leftists’ embarrassed themselves because they don’t.

Social Advances in the Syrian Arab Republic

From its founding in 1973 by the Syrian Arab Socialist Baath Party, the Syrian Arab Republic immediately began supporting the Palestinian national liberation struggle and combating Israeli geopolitical hegemony. A steady influx of Palestinian refugees escape Israeli apartheid and emigrate to Syria, where they enjoy living conditions “better than in any surrounding countries because, unlike in Lebanon and Jordan, healthcare, education and housing are accessible to Palestinians in Syria.” (13)

Palestinians are not the only recipient of Syrian assistance. The Assad government has consistently used its border to assist the Lebanese national liberation struggle by providing resources and tactical support to Hezbollah during the 2006 war with Israel. Following the 2003 US invasion of Iraq, Syria welcomed the 1.5 million Iraqi refugees dislocated by imperialist war and extended the country’s social programs to them. (13)

While Syria is not a socialist country, the nationalist Assad government has exercised the nation’s right to self-determination by nationalizing Western firms and factories, using the nation’s wealth for radical social programs, including “guaranteed health care, living standards and education.” (13)

Additionally, Syrian communists play an important role in the government and are allowed to organize separate from the Baath Party. Unlike the experience of communists in Iraq–who faced repression from the Baath state, led by President Saddam Hussein–Syria’s two communist parties are leading members of the ruling National Progressive Front, and have representation in the People’s Council of Syria.

Unrest in Syria is the product of Western imperialism & intervention

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad kicking ass & taking names

Although some small protests began in January, it took until late March for the unrest in Syria to seriously attract the world media’s attention. Recent cables released by Wikileaks, however, confirm that the West has played a leading role in the Syrian opposition for years. The US State Department “secretly financed Syrian political opposition groups and related projects, including a satellite TV channel that beams anti-government programming into the country.” (14) This US-funded channel, Barada TV, has had a central role in dispersing anti-Assad propaganda and “is closely affiliated with the Movement for Justice and Development, a London-based network of Syrian exiles.” (14)

The Wikileaks cables confirm that “money was set aside at least through September 2010,” which proves that regime change in Syria is the official policy of the Obama Administration. (14) That Barada TV emboldens and functions as the organizing arm of the Syrian opposition is a testament to the centrality of imperialism in this so-called ‘uprising’. Whether some of the individuals in the Syrian opposition have legitimate grievances with President Assad’s government or not, this movement functionally advances the aims of imperialism: to remove a popular anti-imperialist government in the Middle East.

Given the Assad government’s support for the Palestinian and Lebanese liberation struggles, the West understandably views Syria as a threat to hegemony in the Middle East. However, Syria has never fit into the crude Islamic fundamentalist threat that the US uses to fuel the war on terror. Unlike neighbors like Iran, Syria is a secular state that explicitly protects the rights of Muslims and Christians alike. Nevertheless, the West viciously opposes Assad’s government and fears its acquisition of nuclear power, indicated by Israel’s 2008 bombing of a Syrian nuclear facility.

Had Syrian unrest reached a boiling point two weeks earlier than Libya, NATO might have directed its attention at toppling Assad’s government rather than Gaddafi’s government in Libya.

The ISO is wrong on Libya and Syria.

The racist Libyan 'rebels' that the ISO continues to support

As soon as the Syria protests grew to the point of attracting media attention, the ISO began cranking out articles denouncing Assad’s government and supporting the so-called ‘popular resistance’. Ignoring the facts–that the Syrian opposition is funded and orchestrated by the US–Yusef Khalil of the ISO wrote in an April 21 article for Socialist Worker:

The demonstrators are demanding freedom, democracy, justice, equality and the creation of a civilian government. They are also demanding the lifting of the Emergency Law, legalization of multiple political parties, an investigation of all those involved in killing peaceful demonstrators and an end to government corruption. There is very little trust in the government or its official news agency anymore, even among its own supporters. (15)

The last sentence is particularly telling since the implication of “little trust in the government or its official news agency” is that some other news organ has garnered the trust of the Syrian opposition, namely Barada TV. Indeed, the vicious smear campaign from this US-funded TV channel would undermine some people’s trust in the government because its objective is to topple the Assad government. Why does this article from Socialist Worker, published four days after Wikileaks revealed that the US was funding the Syrian opposition, mention nothing about this blatant violation of national sovereignty?

Khalil’s article reads like something he wrote while he was researching Syria for the first time. Periodically, he slips into reporting facts that are clearly inconvenient to the bogus narrative he tries to paint, which he timidly tries to refute. He admits that Assad’s government has “given support to Lebanese and Palestinian resistance movements against Israel,” and has “positioned Syria in alliance with Iran as an obstacle to U.S. and Israeli interests in the region.” (15) His response is to call these actions “contradictory and self-serving.”

However, Khalil’s article takes a bizarre (and opportunistic!) turn when he tries to explain why Syria’s support for Palestine and Hezbollah is “contradictory”:

Syria only supports resistance against Israel from abroad. It does not allow any arms smuggling or attacks against Israel across its own borders. Even when it does support anti-Israel forces, the Syrian government demands a monopoly on the resistance. (15)

Perplexedly, Khalil contradicts decades of ISO polemics against nearly every armed insurgency in the Third World. (16) Moreover, an interview with frequent Socialist Worker contributor Gilbert Achcar by ISO member Paul D’Amato, the managing editor of the ISO’s International Socialist Review accuses Syria of the opposite: “Syria is still very much involved in Lebanon, of course. This is also one of the problems with Hezbollah’s strategy: its links with Syria. Most of the forces in the opposition are pro-Syrian forces—all of them actually.” (17)

D’Amato seemed to like what Achcar was saying. His next question about Hezbollah is more of a leading statement: “And they [Hezbollah] want to make Lebanon a protectorate of Syria…” Achcar responds:

Yes, of course. They use this kind of rhetoric. And unfortunately it is credible because of the fact that major chunks of the opposition are made up of completely rotten pro-Syrian forces. That’s a huge problem, quite far from the way some people on the left worldwide have romanticized Hezbollah during the war. (17)

What an opportunistic criticism for Khalil to make! The ISO does not support Hezbollah or the other national liberation groups supported by Syria, yet they denounce Assad for not supporting these groups enough. Khalil understands that the facts don’t support his conclusions, so he opportunistically pivots away from the ISO’s position to levy a critique of Assad’s government.

In another article four days later, Khalil writes:

There is a shift in consciousness underway in Syria towards revolutionary conclusions. It has yet to reach the tipping point achieved by Tunisians and Egyptians, but the trajectory is unmistakable. In city after city, in town after town, the protesters are calling for the downfall of the regime. (18)

Once again, the article mentions nothing about Wikileaks revelation of overwhelming US support for the opposition movement. Additionally, Khalil mentions nothing about the wave of pro-government rallies that took place simultaneously with and dwarfed the size of the opposition’s protests. (19) The omission of these facts reveal that the ISO is more concerned with maintaining theoretical consistency with its bankrupt Trotskyite-Cliffite views of countries like Syria than it is with a thorough analysis of the material conditions.

Assad’s government has substantial popular support

Pro-Assad Syrian Demonstrator

The material reality is that Assad’s government is incredibly popular among the Syrian masses. In a recent interview with Russia Today, Anhar Kochneva, the director of a Moscow-based tourist firm in Syria, said of the Syrian opposition:

Not even once did I come across anyone who would in any way support these riots; and mind you, in the line of my job, I deal with all sorts of people. There are many vehicles with the president’s portraits driving the streets throughout the country – ranging from old, barely moving crankers to brand new Porsches and Hummers. You can’t force people into hanging up portraits. It means that people, irrespective of their status and income, support the president rather than the rebellion. (20)

Kochneva goes on to describe the pervasive level of media manipulation related to the Syrian unrest:

On March 29, I saw a rally in Hama to support the president – indeed, many thousands of men and women, with their children, and entire families went out. The streets were flooded with people. It was quite a shock to see Al-Jazeera presenting rallies in support of the president as if they were protests against him. (20)

The Western media and its corporate allies in al-Jazeera function in tandem with imperialist governments to shape public opinion, both in the Middle East and the West. Kochneva notes that Secretary of State Clinton “stated that if Syria cuts its relations with Iran and withdraws its support for Hamas and Hezbollah, the demonstrations would stop the next day. They don’t even bother to keep secret the hand instilling riots in Syria.” (20)

The Revolutionary Left versus the ISO

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad

Immediately Venezuela, Cuba, and the bulk of the Latin American revolutionary left have denounced the unrest in Syria and explicitly stated its opposition to foreign intervention. (21) Furthermore, the Syrian Communist Party (Bakdash) released an unequivocal statement of support for Assad’s government, denouncing the unrest as “reactionary forces,” whose aim is:

to exploit the deplorable incidents and to fuel unrest in various parts of the country, using an insidious method to attract the masses, mixing demands and slogans for democratic freedoms with the demands and slogans that are clearly retrograde, obscurantist, and provocatively sectarian in character, directed against the idea of secularism and the spirit of tolerance which have historically been distinctive features of the Syrian society. (22)

When President Assad lifted the country’s Emergency Law–a measure of internal defense against Israeli aggression–the Syrian Communist Party “expressed its support for the decisions and directions of the national leadership of the Arab Socialist Ba’ath Party, among the most important of which in the political sphere are the lifting of the state of emergency, the drafting of a law for political parties, and the reform of the media law.” (22)

In the United States, the WWP and the PSL have both released statements condemning imperialist intervention in Syria. Why hasn’t the ISO?

For all their Trotskyite roots, the ISO does a poor job reading Trotsky. In an interview with Mateo Fossa from September 1938 called “Anti-Imperialist Struggle is Key to Liberation,” Trotsky explains anti-imperialism surprisingly (and ironically!) well:

In Brazil there now reigns a semifascist regime that every revolutionary can only view with hatred. Let us assume, however, that on the morrow England enters into a military conflict with Brazil. I ask you on whose side of the conflict will the working class be? I will answer for myself personally—in this case I will be on the side of “fascist” Brazil against “democratic” Great Britain. Why? Because in the conflict between them it will not be a question of democracy or fascism. If England should be victorious, she will put another fascist in Rio de Janeiro and will place double chains on Brazil. If Brazil on the contrary should be victorious, it will give a mighty impulse to national and democratic consciousness of the country and will lead to the overthrow of the Vargas dictatorship. The defeat of England will at the same time deliver a blow to British imperialism and will give an impulse to the revolutionary movement of the British proletariat. Truly, one must have an empty head to reduce world antagonisms and military conflicts to the struggle between fascism and democracy. (23)

When the ISO claims that the Syrian opposition is “demanding freedom, democracy, justice, equality and the creation of a civilian government,” they fall into the ’empty-headed’ pitfall of “reducing world antagonisms and military conflicts to the struggle between [Assad’s government] and democracy.”

Trotskyism is alien to Marxism-Leninism, but it’s nowhere near as alien as the ISO’s bankrupt Cliffite ideology. Time and time again, their lines play into the hands of imperialism and betray the organization’s liberal political orientation. Socialist Worker continues to act as a preview of Obama’s talking points a week later.

Revolutionary leftists must support Assad’s government against Western intervention, including the funding of the Syrian opposition.

(1) Socialist Worker, September 1991; Quoted by Workers Vanguard, No. 866, March 17, 2006, “Parliamentary Cretinism ISO Goes All the Way with Capitalist Greens,” http://www.icl-fi.org/english/wv/866/isogreen.html

(2) Obama, Cameron, Sakozy, The New York Times, April 14, “Libya’s Pathway to Peace,” http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/15/opinion/15iht-edlibya15.html?_r=1

(3) Socialist Worker, February 28, 2011, “Rallying for the Libyan People,” http://socialistworker.org/2011/02/28/rallying-for-the-libyan-people

(4) Immanuel Wallerstein, March 15, 2011, “Libya and the World Left,” http://www.iwallerstein.com/libya-world-left/

(5) Richard Seymour, February 24, 2011, “The West’s fear of Qaddafi’s fall,” http://wwww.socialistworker.org/2011/02/24/western-fear-of-qaddafis-fall

(6) Socialist Worker, editorial, March 9, 2011, “The US is no friend to the Libyan uprising,” http://socialistworker.org/2011/03/09/no-friend-to-libyan-uprising

(7) Al-Jazeera, February 28, 2011, “African migrants targeted in Libya,”  http://english.aljazeera.net/news/africa/2011/02/201122865814378541.html

(8) BBC News, May 6, 2011, “Clinton meets Libyan opposition figure Mahmoud Jibril,” http://bit.ly/mTBmcD

(9) Turkish Press, March 21, 2011, “France formally recognizes Libyan opposition group,” http://www.turkishpress.com/news.asp?id=364929

(10) Praveen Swami, Nick Squires, Duncan Gardham, The Telegraph, March 25, 2011, “Libyan rebel commander admits his fighters have al-Qaeda links,” http://bit.ly/eyYolD

(11) Alexander Cockburn, April 15 – 17, “What’s Really Going on in Libya?”  http://www.counterpunch.org/cockburn04152011.html

(12) CNN Wire Staff, March 30, 2011, “Source: CIA operating in Libya, in consultation with opposition,” http://bit.ly/lZjl2R

(13) Sara Flounders, Workers World, May 5, 2011, “Events in Syria – Which Side Are You On?” http://www.workers.org/2011/world/syria_0512/

(14) Craig Whitlock, Washington Post, April 17, 2011, “U.S. secretly backed Syrian opposition groups, cables released by WikiLeaks show,” http://wapo.st/fzASak

(15) Yusef Khalil, Socialist Worker, April 21, 2011, “The Syrian Revolution spreads,” http://socialistworker.org/2011/04/21/the-syrian-revolution-spreads

(16) Freedom Road Socialist Organization, “Revolution in Colombia: ISO Stands on the Wrong Side,” 2008,  http://www.frso.org/about/statements/2008/isocolombia.htm

(17) Paul D’Amato, International Socialist Review, Issue 52, March – April 2007, “Interview with Gilbert Achcar Lebanon and the Middle East crisis” http://www.isreview.org/issues/52/achcar.shtml

(18) Yusef Khalil, Socialist Worker, April 25, 2011, “Repression and defiance in Assad’s Syria,” http://bit.ly/f8m43b

(19) Reuters, March 29, 2011, “Syria mobilizes thousands for pro-Assad marches,”  http://reut.rs/f1J87K

(20) Russia Today, April 29, 2011, “Western media lie about Syria – eyewitness reports,” http://bit.ly/m4YZZZ

(21) Rodolfo Reyes, Cuban Ambassador, Published in Monthly Review, April 29, 2011, “Cuba Opposes Any Foreign Interference in Syria,” http://mrzine.monthlyreview.org/2011/reyes040511.html

(22) Syrian Communist Party (Bakdash), Published in Monthly Review, March 25, 2011, “Regarding Syria,” http://mrzine.monthlyreview.org/2011/syria180411.html

(23) Leon Trotsky, September 1938, “Anti-Imperialist Struggle is Key to Liberation, http://www.marxists.org/archive/trotsky/1938/09/liberation.htm


Posted on May 8, 2011, in Libya, Syria and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 19 Comments.

  1. There have been about 600 protesters killed and 100 policemen killed. Meanwhile in Egypt about 800 protesters died and only 10 policemen. It is wrong to kill protesters but this shows how much more violent the opposition in Syria is.

  2. Amazing Article

    I will be following this blog from now on with great interest, and I will make sure to spread it around to other like-minded folks.

  3. Amazing Article

    A couple other things worth exploring:

    Paul D’ Amato and most of the ISO ruling-clique receive large salaries for their ‘work’ in the ISO. I think various documents obtained from their “non-profit” front group, The Center for Economic Research and Social Change, suggests D’Amato makes about $40-50K a year from that organization. A lot of their money comes from their massive amount of stock in Phillip Morris and Oracle. See this article for more information about their massive corporate stock options:


    The rest of the money comes about because all the ISO focuses on is getting more and more “members” to sign up, and having them push their god-awful books and their horrible newspaper. While the ISO boasts of having “2,000 members,” most of them don’t see the organization as anything more than a “Socialist Club,” leading some to think it is a Menshevik-style organization. The reality of the situation is that it does operate as a pseudo-Leninist cadre organization, with a much, much smaller amount of people who have any real say at all in the organization (ultimate authority rests with the paid-staff, people like D’Amato, Sherry Wolf, Ahmad Shawki, etc, so in that sense it is more like the preferred form of Trotskyite organization: a cult, with whoever at the top being the stand-in for Trotsky). ISO focuses on college campuses because that is the easiest place to run their Amway-style racket.

  4. While the ISO is counter-revolutionary and at times reactionary when actual forms of socialism come about. In no form is the Syrian Arab Republic a Socialist State or a representation of what the Working Class with its combined might to create a future is capable of. Much like the Ba’ath Party of Iraq, the Ba’ath Party of Syria has suppressed Revolutionary Communists that have came to the realization that Assad was allowing for the working with Imperialists in order to support his own interests.

    Not only has Assad worked with Imperialists though, Assad himself has headed a Government which is Bourgeois, he has allowed for the accumulation of capital on the backs of the Working Class. As well, the Ba’ath Party has its historic roots with Fascism, much like the Iraqi Ba’ath Party, the Syrian Ba’ath Party is structured in the same way that the Nazi Party was structured. It as well has acted in many of the same ways with repressing the population and resorting to consistent nationalism and rhetoric of national unity in order to keep its very own structure together. This cannot be ignored, nor should it be ignored.

    On the situation of Libya though, it seems to leave the minds of certain Comrade’s that Libya has allowed for Neo-Liberalism to take place. Gaddafi has continually walked hand in hand with the Italian Government in which it allows for the trading of oil at the massive scale. Yet again, at the rate of workers being exploited and in many cases not being payed their proper share at what they could be potentially payed with the amount of oil trading that takes place. In recent times though, the majority of Qaddafi’s rhetoric has somewhat died down in this area, as he no longer needs to appease the no longer existent USSR in this area, which is the reason that Neo-Liberalism has been so widely accepted within Libya since the fall of the USSR.

    While Imperialism should be opposed, sympathizing with the National Bourgeois should not be accepted, as they are still the National Bourgeois and are still exploiting the Working Class which still makes them the enemy.

    • Prof Mohja Kahf

      This article is deluded on so many levels. Where to begin.
      1) The opposition is truly grass-roots. Have you seen the numbers of protesters? Have you seen their geographic spread in Syria? their rural-urban and class spread? Their ethnic and sectarian spread? Outside opposition is diffuse too; indeed that diffusion has been seen as one of its weaknesses. Discredit Barada for getting funding wherever it can? Doesn’t matter;a) Barada is a fraction of 1% of the opposition; b) Barada is outside, while the grass-roots is inside Syria. c) the grass-roots are not funded by anyone but themselves; in fact, it is extremely difficult to get money into Syria these weeks.

      2) Do you seriously dispute the brutality and authoritarianism of this regime? Seriously? Would you like to withdraw your head from where it is inserted and take a look at Martial Law and its brutal effects over the last 48 years? The reason why the anguish is grass-roots and diffuse is that the pain inflicted by this regime on the masses of the people is widespread. It extends nearly universally in Syria, crossing ethnic class gender and sectarian boundaries. The only people it doesn’t oppress unbearably is that tiny coterie at the top and their direct beneficiaries, and even they can barely stand it anymore. Do you seriously dispute that regime forces are shooting live gunfire at unarmed civilians, that Dara is under a brutal 2weeks-plus siege with enormous humanitarian costs daily, that torture occurs in Syria’s prisons overstocked with prisoners of conscience?

      3) “You can’t force anyone into hanging up portraits–” Seriously? Has the person who said this been to Syria at all in the last 48 years? Or talked to any Syrians at all in the last 48 years? My aunt was forced to hang a portrait by two security men who came to her pathology lab in the 1970s bearing several and refusing to leave until she hung it. Anyone with a shop or an office is forced to hang a portrait of the president, throughout the Baathist time in power,to this year.

      4) Do you think a free Syrian people would be any less supportive of Palestinian resistance or Lebanese sovereignty against Israel than a Syrian people stripped of their civil liberties? What a stab in the back to the Syrian people this is, coming from the left. How little you think of us. Because another country is oppressed, Syrians are not entitled to basic human freedoms, to freedom of assembly, freedom of speech, freedom from one-party rule, to free genuine elections?

      That’s just the tip of the iceberg. Please do the rest on your own through serious research, and don’t forget to use your own sanity; this is all the time I can give this malarchy. It is dangerously delusional and profoundly immoral to support the Asaad regime. Please examine your values, your vision, and the facts.

      -Dr Mohja Kahf, Associate Professor of Comparative Literature, University of Arkansas

  5. The notion that Gaddafi embrassed neo-liberalism or that socialist leaders should not cut trade deals with imperialist nations is utterly fatuous. Yes, he signed deals with Italy. Yes, he made deals with US imperialism. It’s called diplomacy and survival. Libya had a gun to its head since 1969. In spite of the deals with capitalist countries,Libyans continued to enjoy higher living standards than any other nation in Africa. They continued to enjoy free health, free education, free housing, and many many benefits of their vast oil wealth. It is also constantly being claimed that Gaddafi is the head of the Libyan state, when he left the government in 1974.
    As for Syria, of course there are problems there. But Assad does have genuine mass support and yes, I have been there, in the last three weeks in fact. The oppositionist I spoke to were all fans of Sarkozy, Cameron and Obama. They want more privatisation and an ethnic reformation of the society. I cannot say that this accounts for all of the protestors but this CNN, AL Jazeera, Al Arabiya driven ideology is quite prevalent. Many of the oppositionists told me that they do not support Palestine liberation, that the Palestinians should not be receiving help from Syria. It is true that people put posters of the president everywhere but it would not be possible for the regime to force people to put up posters on the windows of their cars etc. I’m sure there are plenty of examples of horrible injustice in Syria but this violence is clearly being orchestrated by the CIA through social media and the Satelite TV stations.

  6. 1.) ‘The notion that Gaddafi embrassed neo-liberalism or that socialist leaders should not cut trade deals with imperialist nations is utterly fatuous. Yes, he signed deals with Italy. Yes, he made deals with US imperialism. It’s called diplomacy and survival’
    Real Realpolitik notions of survival aren’t to be recognized as Proletarian. As they’re directly against the Proletariat and don’t benefit the Proletariat. The Proletariat itself doesn’t benefit from Neo-Liberalism being inserted into society and pushing forward exploitation. It isn’t ‘survival’ to allow for capitalism to occur, its revisionism and should be noted as such. Before the NEP is brought up– The NEP was pushed into effect in order to crush Semi-Feudal landownership and was used for a small time before, it was no longer necessary. Capitalism however, has existed in Libya, which means that Libya should be prepared for the transformation phase of Socialism. However, Gaddafi has no interest in Socialism, as Gaddafi is not a Socialist and shouldn’t be confused as such. More or less, hes supportive of Neo-Liberal policies and occasionally puts forward Social-Democratic policies except with an Authoritarian approach and the commitment to stay in power.
    2.) ‘Libya had a gun to its head since 1969. In spite of the deals with capitalist countries,Libyans continued to enjoy higher living standards than any other nation in Africa. They continued to enjoy free health, free education, free housing, and many many benefits of their vast oil wealth. It is also constantly being claimed that Gaddafi is the head of the Libyan state, when he left the government in 1974.’
    First part: Libya has indeed faced Imperialism since 1969, however Libya however had during this time been allowed to flourish due to the existence of the USSR and the supportive policies of the USSR to Libya, which is the reason that the occasional decent policies were allowed to flourish.
    Second Part: Libya has been indeed allowed to partake in potentially the highest standard of living in North Africa due to these welfare state esque policies, however these policies should not in the least be confused for a working model of socialism, as Libya has continually accumulated capital in the interest of gaining profit, which makes Libya effectively capitalist. Libya has not in the least allowed for workers to gain the power that they require and have an effective control of the industry, they have not gotten rid of Capitalist private property, nor have they even set the pathway for this, and the pathway itself should have been set quite some time ago.
    Third Part: Gadaffi has been Leader and Guide of the Revolution of Libya since 1979, however he ceased to be Prime-Minister in 1972 and had afterward abolished the previously existing position of the Revolutionary Guide in order to create his current position.

    Imperialism itself must be noted and resisted however, accepting an open alliance with Gadaffi is non-sense as Gadaffi himself is not a Revolutionary Socialist in the least, does not represent the Proletariat and is simply the National Bourgeois, and being the National Bourgeois he should be noted as effectively the enemy, even if he currently is against a larger scale of Imperialism. While Libya must have the hands that are currently on it removed, in no way should the delusional belief of Gadaffi being a Comrade, be accepted.

    • I think your confusing primary and secondary contradictions. Imperialism is an overpowering force and needs to be confronted even if that means supporting countries that are nationalistic bourgeoisie.

  7. 1. ‘I think your confusing primary and secondary contradictions. Imperialism is an overpowering force and needs to be confronted even if that means supporting countries that are nationalistic bourgeoisie.’
    Imperialism is a force that must be indeed confronted however, the solution isn’t to affirm support towards the Nationalistic Bourgeois regimes that have no care for the Working Class in the case of this situation. A temporary support for these regimes in the case of ousting Imperialism is what you’re referring to. However such a temporary support would simply lead to the confusing out what Anti-Imperialism is to mean, Anti-Imperialism is to reject Imperialism in all forms and as previously said– Gadaffi has been open to Imperialism through Realpolitik styled solutions along with the opening of his borders to Neo-Liberalism. Gadaffi himself has also formed himself around the US’s War on Terror and taken part in it as well, even giving material aid to Imperialism.

    The solution though, is to reaffirm support towards the people of Libya, as opposed to Gadaffi’s leadership, but the people of Libya whom are resisting Imperialism and the actions of the National Bourgeois as well. Which effectively means killing two birds with a single stone.

    • Your conclusion is not materialistically a reality. If NATO didn’t intervene Gadaffi would have crushed the rebellion. The rebellion now (if it ever was anything else) is nothing but a pro-western, pro-neoliberal force. To support a non-existent 3rd camp of workers is idealistic.

      As for the compliance with the war on terrorism: Libya was being destroyed economically and was the next country to be invaded after Iraq. They gave up their nuclear weapons for better trade relations. They also joined in “war of terror” in part because Al Qaeda targeted Libya for take over due to it’s wealth, large geographic size/relative small population, and it’s strategic geopolitical position.

      The same goes with a lot of the reforms they passed in order for foreign capital to be invested. You should read the wikileaks cables and see what imperialist countries thought of the deals they where getting in Libya.

  8. a socialist worker weighs in against Chavez:
    Venezuela’s Hugo Chávez is respected as a left opponent of U.S. imperialism–but he is lending support to Middle East despots who are trying to suppress popular uprisings.


    this author manages to ignore the racist pogram the ‘rebels’ have been engaged in against black africans,as well as the jihadis.
    The left should be ashamed at being so easily gulled by NATO… brit journalist and muslim convert Yvonne Ridely has been.. ,Its amazing that people are so easily gulled into thinking NATO is a force for good! whereas Gadafi, who has helped raise Libya to one of the most developed countries in africa is a villain!
    the mind boggles

  9. Libya’s money
    In Tripoli the “journalists” of ABC asked me how long Gaddafi could last financially?
    I answered them much longer than the US.
    They couldn’t believe me and continued: ”no seriously, how many months can he last?”
    My answer, 10/20 years, brought a very big surprised expression on their faces: “NO, impossible”.
    Our society of money changers and bean counters is not able anymore to think about a solid society, not based on debt or credit.
    Libya has known an embargo for decades and a real ostracism for 42 years.
    Gaddafi was never understood nor accepted. He was declared crazy and loony from the very beginning because he didn’t accept the orders from his “betters”. His feeling of oppression by the Western powers that be and afterwards his betrayal by the Soviets convinced him to look for an alternative solution, based on their native tribal structure.
    He didn’t spend money because he couldn’t, the embargo obliged him to save money.
    This frugal lifestyle wasn’t really bad for the country, they learned to live with it.
    Only the Western educated and latter “revolutionaries” wanted more pieces of the cake.
    I have seen governors of provinces, with budgets of billions, walking around in old army fatigues and plastic sandals, driving in old Toyota Corolla’s, with absolutely no desire for more luxury.
    Gaddafi himself is of the same ilk, money doesn’t drive him, the fate of his country is his only driving force.
    If that is enough to consider him a lunatic than he will proudly declare himself a lunatic.
    As far as the money of the country is concerned, the calculation is rapidly made.
    The total revenue during 42 years went far over a trillion dollars.
    During the embargo time Libya spent only the interest of its investments, they didn’t touch their capital.
    They had some amounts in foreign, US, European and Arab countries and banks.
    That money was continuously siphoned off by those banks, they didn’t receive any interest on their money, the paid expenses every year on that money, pure highway robbery.
    Gaddafi is a very astute investor and made several very good investments worldwide, which saved Libya a lot of money and kept their capital intact.
    Today Libya is still sitting on a cash hoard of far over one trillion, the second largest after China, but safer. China has too much worthless US paper.
    Because of his cash position, Libya was thinking to make Africans benefit of their commodities by introducing their own gold backed currency and their own Reserve Fund.
    This would have shown the decrepit situation of the world credit system and the real abysmal situation of the Western banks.
    Because the emperor had no clothes anymore Gaddafi had to disappear.
    Russia and China are still hesitating what to do and whom to join. The sirene songs of Wall Street are very seductive but extremely empty. The main US corporations are already voting with their feet to Asia, just in case.
    I hope Gaddafi survives the criminal onslaught and will have the chance to see his enemies crumble. The stakes are extremely high.

  10. ‘On February 16, 2009, Gaddafi took a step further and called on Libyans to back his proposal to dismantle the government and to distribute the oil wealth directly to the 5 million inhabitants of the country.
    However, his plan to deliver oil revenues directly to the Libyan people met opposition by senior officials who could lose their jobs due to a parallel plan by Gaddafi to rid the state of corruption.
    Some officials, including Prime Minister Al-Baghdadi, Ali Al-Mahmoudi and Farhat Omar Bin Guida, of the Central Bank, told Gaddafi that the measure could harm the country’s economy in the long term due to “capital flight.”
    “Do not be afraid to directly redistribute the oil money and create fairer governance structures that respond to people’s interests,” Gaddafi said in a Popular Committee.
    The Popular Committees are the backbone of Libya. Through them citizens are represented at the district level.
    “The Administration has failed and the state’s economy has failed. Enough is enough. The solution is for the Libyan people to directly receive oil revenues and decide what to do with them,” Gaddafi said in a speech broadcast on state television. To this end, the Libyan leader urged a radical reform of government bureaucracy.
    Despite this, senior Libyan government officials voted to delay Gaddafi’s plans. Only 64 ministers from a total of 468 Popular Committee members voted for the measure. There were 251 who saw the measures as positive, but chose to delay their implementation.
    Given the rejection of the Committee, Gaddafi affirmed before a public meeting: “My dream during all these years was to give the power and wealth directly to the people.”
    So…another big LIE falls by the wayside, the false image of Ghaddafi the dictator who robs from his people.

  11. El Rojo del Sur

    The ISO is full of shit, in the US they are the most opportunistic current there is, they always try to sabotage what other coalitions do. They are collaborating with imperialism!
    Actions, not fancy words!

    El Rojo del Sur

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