Western left-opportunism, and “denying agency” in Syria.

Having last week expounded upon the duplicity of the western “liberal lefts” position on the imperialist-sponsored fascist coup in Ukraine, a particularly egregious example of the same petty bourgeois sophism so pervasive within western civilised dissent has once again reared its ugly head. In what can only be described as emo agitprop, the western petty bourgeoisie’s flagship of misinformation and imperialist propaganda recently published an article on Syria by self-proclaimed “leftist Artist” Molly Crabapple.

The article covers a demonstration organised by an anti-government Syrian activist, who has chosen to read the names of 100,000 victims of the Syrian war standing outside the White House for 72 hours. The intended symbolism of such a demonstration is quite difficult to ascertain, particularly considering a sound historical analysis shows that western imperialism – ergo: the White House – bears huge responsibility for the deaths of those very people now being used to “guilt” the western public into supporting some form of further “action” against the Syrian state – meaning, (overt) US military intervention, NATO freedom-bombs, etc. Moreover, it seems that both Crabapple and her subject have forgotten, or are intentionally omitting the fact that over half of those victims met their deaths at the hands of the western/Israeli/wahhabi monarch-sponsored fundamentalist dominated militia; the very same militia Crabapple is now lionizing as “revolutionaries”.

Naturally for the Guardian, the narrative fulfills the many western falsehoods propagated on behalf of the reactionary insurgency since it began, by doing so, it provides an opportunity to expand upon and expose the role that western left-opportunism has played in buttressing said falsehood throughout the Syrian crisis. Further still, it provides a chance to counter the twisted theories and phrasing being used to attack anti-imperialists and anti-revisionists from within the western petty bourgeois “celebrity-left” camp, through which Crabapple and Co. postulate the absurd notion that westerners with the tendency to focus on the role of western imperialism represent “perverse Orientalists”.

Barring the usual “40 year dictatorship” slogans so typical of the deluded and self-righteous cheerleaders of western bourgeois “democracy”, the historical context for Crabapple’s Syrian “revolution” is built via the rosy portrayal of a wave of protests that “swept the world”. In Syria, a “police state and neoliberal reforms” are the central material factors used to explain the crisis.

These puerile simplifications are employed to distort and minimise the primary role of western predatory imperialism, either that, or simply through blind stupidity and laziness. In such a decontextualised analysis, there is no space available to document the years of western-led economic sanctions and subversion; nor is any space permitted to analyse the sociopolitical effects of the five-year drought that had decimated Syria’s agricultural industry prior to 2011 – causing widespread impoverishment to the disaffected rural sections of society. There is no economic analysis whatsoever. More importantly, there is no space afforded to document the decades of western support and collusion with Saudi Arabia’s sponsorship of ,ilitant fundamentalist ideologues, with the direct aim of unleashing them and their sectarian hatred upon Syria (or any other target in the region, see: Libya, Hezbollah, Iraq, etc) when political needs required; no space is given for the direct sponsorship of western imperialism toward the ex-pat “SNC” puppet administrators travelling between hotel suites in Ankara, Doha and Riyadh, or the thousands of US State Department-trained “activists” and NGO workers flooding media and commentary with false or bias accounts, staged photos and misinformation. Any critique of the western corporate media, and its complimentary “tailored analysis” industrys disgraceful servitude to western government narratives is completely omitted – regardless of the fact that both form essential components of modern “soft” imperialism.

To suggest western imperialism has invested in any of these individuals, policies or organisations with any sort of altruistic intention is comparable to suggesting over sixty years of historical evidence to the contrary is worthless; negating any value in historical materialism and dialectics. Omission of context and crude historical revisionism are entirely deliberate and further prohibit the prospect of reaching a sound political or moral examination of events and their evolving processes. Dialectics, logic, critical distance and contradictory evidence are replaced with emotionally driven narrow-framed discourse to remove the wider context – therefore western culpability – and form the false depiction of a “popular peaceful uprising versus despotic regime”.

Crabapple informs us that “it took four months for Syria’s protests to become an armed insurgency”. This blatant lie is a most crucial one in upholding western Imperialisms false narrative on Syria. Yet, as we shall see, while the celebrity-lefts continue to blindly recycle the lie, it has long been refuted, in even the most loyal organs of western imperialism itself.

Once the underlying causes of the crisis have been distorted beyond any semblance of reality, whitewashing the “rebels” and their imperialist sponsors’ role as the instigators and primary actors responsible for excacerbating the crisis, Crabapple then attempts to bolster the false distinctions between the supposedly moderate and extremist rebel groups with the double fabrication that Al Qaeda took six months to enter the fray, and that Saudi Arabia took twenty months to “officially” start supplying arms; thereby portraying the fundamentalists emergence at around February to March 2012.

This is quite the perversion, and once again can only be interpreted as pure stupidity, or outright disingenuity in the aim of furnishing the imaginary “secular moderate freedom fighters” with unwarranted moral platform.

Contrary to such crude and uninformed analysis, and long known by anyone paying attention, the dominant proto-Salafi militia, such as Ahrar-al Sham – who form the vanguard of the insurgency throughout, and are inextricably linked to both overt Al Qaeda elements and ostensible “moderates” in thrall to Imperialism – openly admit to planning a violent insurgency before any protests in Syria began. These militia, sharing much in common with their overtly extreme counterparts, were most certainly active in the first weeks of the crisis, as evidenced by the oppositions own death-toll accounts: the one hundred-plus Syrian soldiers and police killed during March-April 2011 alone belies the fantasy that the violence erupted simply through state oppression of peaceful protesters.

Further contradicting the “peaceful protester-moderate rebel” narrative, corresponding incidents of organised violence against state security became widespread by the middle of 2011 (see: here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here), the massacre of 120 soldiers in Jisr al Shugour (20 miles from the Turkish border) in June 2011, provides but one prominent example. Either Crabapple is oblivious to all this, or is deliberately omitting it for the same reasons listed above. In attempting to skirt the issue, Crabapple regurgitates the evidence-free conspiracy theory that the soldiers were executed by their own superiors for refusing to fire on protesters, further dehumanizing the Syrian army.

Another critical falsehood follows, and one that has been endlessly spewed to form unwarranted moral platform in the face of compelling contradictory evidence. Crabapple claims that “crimes are committed on all sides. But only the Assad regime, with its superiority of force … could kill on the scale and with the consistency that turned war crimes into a tactic of war.” Again, this is a blatant lie and distortion of the facts. The theory that the Syrian airforce’s bombardment of rebel encampments in civilian zones equates to a larger percentage of the death toll is complete logical fallacy void of any material evidence. The opposite is in fact true: according to the US Chief of Staff, 90% of deaths in Syria have been incurred by gunshot or ground-to-ground artillery; weapons which the rebels have had, and used in abundance since the early stages. It has been amply documented that every stage of western, Turkish or Gulf initiated military support to the rebels has resulted in a huge increase in both the death-toll, and civilian displacement – most notably in the period between late 2011, when Russia and China made it clear they would block any Libya-style No Fly Zone attempts, and July 2012, when the CIA and Gulf states dramatically increased the arms shipments to rebels.

Death tolls provided by anti-government activists such as the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) – used as a principal source for western media, the UN, and western humanitarian “NGO’s”, no less – show it is the fundamentalist rebels that are likely responsible for the majority of killing. In its latest tally, the SOHR claims that 55,000 Syrian army and national defence force personnel have been killed during the conflict, accounting for almost 40% of total deaths, whereas rebel deaths – including 10,000 foreign fighters – amount to 33,000, accounting for almost 25% of the total, leaving roughly 50,000 civilian deaths, or 35% of the total.

Using these figures; if one were to equally divide the civilian deaths between government and opposition forces, then the “revolutionaries” would be responsible for close to 80,000 people killed, or around 55% of the total – unless of course one were to posit the absurd theory that thousands of disparate fundamentalist militia have the ability to kill twice as many professional soldiers than they lose, while avoiding a considerable toll on civilians within the urban zones they invade and militarize.

The equally false portrayal that a majority of Syrians oppose the government is omnipresent throughout such commentary, and of course, this is another blatant lie. An example of just how far-removed from reality this perception is was exposed way back in January 2012 – at the height of domestic anti-government sentiment and western agitprop – when a Qatari-funded YouGov poll found that 55% of Syrians,  a massive majority considering the political conditions, still supported the government. This majority has undoubtedly continued to rise as the conflict has dragged on, primarily as a result of the barbaric practices employed by the rebels in civilian areas they encamp, ethnically cleanse, militarize, and generally terrorize the remaining inhabitants of – a sentiment further intensified through the prolonged incompetence of the ex-pat puppets in five-star hotels, elevated to the lofty position of “the sole representatives of the Syrian people” by virtue of imperialism alone. Needless to say, the poll and its results were completely whitewashed from the western media narrative and was most observantly ignored by the western petty bourgeois opportunists, who find themselves parodying William Hague when claiming to speak on behalf of the “Syrian people”.

Based on the fact a majority of Syrians support the government, and would therefore face the wrath of the fundamentalist rebels rather than the army they see as protecting them, a fact which is further evidenced by the vast majority of internally displaced people fleeing “rebel liberation” for the refuge of government safe-zones; then the wilful misrepresentation of the death toll becomes evermore deplorable. It can only be explained by Crabapple and the opportunists being so indoctrinated by their own narrow parameters and dehumanizing terminology; they simply don’t see the tens of thousands of dead Syrian soldiers, their families, and the majority of Syrian civilians who support the government as people worth accounting for. Crabapple and the pseudo-lefts in turn defile the victims of the wahhabi mercenaries and imperialism in Syria by attempting to blame their fate on the very actors protecting them, effectively turning the victim into the oppressor. The only other explanation is, once again, blind stupidity.

Over and above, it has long been known that western special forces, alongside Gulf, Jordanian, Lebanese factions allied to Saudi Arabia, and their Turkish and Israeli counterparts, have been actively conspiring with, and militarily supporting, what are essentially fundamentalist militia – to the tune of billions of dollars and thousands of tonnes of arms. It is these actors accountable for setting in motion a violent insurgency via the fundamentalist proxies they had been fomenting since at least 2006, and now continue to do so without even the pretense of plausible deniability.

The argument the pseudo-lefts are now attempting to throw at western anti-imperialists is one of utter opportunism and deception. Crabapple mimics Zizek (and other servants of bourgeois intelligentsia), and asserts that the emphasis on predatory western imperialism’s role when analysing conflicts and crises abroad – the emphasis espoused by westerners no less! – is in fact a “perverse kind of Orientalism” that removes and belittles the “agency” (another delightful abstraction implanted into petty bourgeois leftist discourse) of indigenous people.

How damning one might say, but where does this “logic” end? For instance, if one opposed the imperialist rape of Iraq, then did one oppose the “agency” of Ahmed Chalabi and all the other reactionary cretins who allied with western imperialism? Did they who opposed the imperialist destruction of Libya – whose position has now been fully vindicated, despite the grotesque doublespeak of Bernhard Henri Levy and his acolytes – “deny the agency” of Al Qaeda, Salafi warlords and the criminals now running riot and destroying the remnants NATO left behind?

The glaring contradiction is lay bare with the aid of a further simple example that may especially perplex the western opportunists who feign support for Palestinian Resistance: if one opposes the occupation and ethnic cleansing of Palestine, is one opposing Zionist “agency”?

Applying this “logic” to the Syrian question, if western anti-imperialists “deny the agency” of Syrians by opposing a fundamentalist-led insurgency sponsored by imperialism, then what exactly do the opportunists deny when ignoring the majority of Syrians that oppose the wahhabi revolutionaries!? In the western liberal-left equation, this majority of Syrians simply don’t exist, they have no “agency” worth even considering, let alone their right to self-determination. The opportunists are in fact misrepresenting said “agency” they hold in such high esteem by falsely portraying a minority of localised dissent, alongside a fundamentalist insurgency orchestrated and sponsored by western imperialism, as representative of the entire Syrian population. The opportunists accuse us anti-imperialists of Orientalism and “denying agency” while committing the very act! A case of pure cognitive dissonance, or simply a feeble attempt at creating confusion.

Such fallacious arguments and semantic trickery is employed in the vain attempt to shut down critical analysis that does not abide by western bourgeois political ideology and partisan agenda. In reality, it is the western pseudo-lefts who act as the agents of western imperialism, betraying self-determination and the foundations of internationalist socialism. To engage in such pointless obfuscation and theorizing is to deliberately obstruct simple material fact, historical dialectics, a “ruthless criticism of all that exists” and the correct examinations and conclusions to be drawn in the international sense.

Lenin was forced to spend great energy in combatting the same strands of left-opportunism one hundred years ago, rightly describing it as “the principle enemy within the working class movement”. The modern celebrity-lefts’ distortions and twisted theories represent nothing more than the vile opportunism witnessed within the socialist parties during the outbreak of WWI, when the so-called Marxists chose to side with their national bourgeoisie against the bourgeoisie and the working classes of hostile nations. The European opportunists who chose to employ the catchphrases of social chauvinism and act as the agents of their own bourgeoisie in “defending the fatherland” are today reflected by the western petty bourgeois “socialists” and “leftists” that endlessly obscure the international characteristics of modern capitalism and its inevitable antagonism, in turn diminishing the pre-eminent role, and therefore culpability, of western imperialism.

Martin Chulov and the Guardian: at the forefront of Balkanising Syria.

Since the onset of the Syrian crisis, Martin Chulov of the Guardian has continuously been one of the most prominent “journalists” whose coverage, to put kindly, has been skewed beyond any recognition of objective journalism. His narratives have systematically relied on sectarian overtones and cherry picked “activist” quotes from such bastions of objectivity as the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Chulov has gone to great to lengths to portray the conflict in simplistic and sectarian terms: “Assad the Alawite, versus the Sunni majority.”

The large part of Syrian society that ardently support their president has gone largely unmentioned in his coverage. The larger still part of Syrian society that simply want the war to end, and the militants to leave their towns and villages so they can attempt to rebuild their lives have been callously brushed aside by war-profiteers such as Chulov; who willingly ignore the much larger sections of Syrian society that don’t abide his bias narrative. Chulov perniciously attempts to lead the reader to believe the whole Syrian public is fighting against a regime and its security infrastructure. The simple fact that the majority of men fighting the Salafi/Jihadi dominated rebels within the Syrian Army itself are Sunni Syrians belies his whole false sectarian narrative.

Chulov’s latest article is no exception. The sectarian melodrama is set in the title: “Sunnis fear Assad wants to ethnically cleanse Alawhite heartland”, in usual fashion, Chulov plays on manufactured sectarian fear and a growing western narrative that Assad is planning on building an “Alawite enclave” in the western provinces of Syria reaching to the Mediterranean coast, the heartland of Assad’s Alawite sect.

The sub-title, illuminates Chulovs simplistic rendering and the basis for his “Alawite enclave” theory:

“Homs land registry fire and handing out of arms to villagers fuel concerns that an Alawite-Shia enclave is being formed in Syria.”

Chulov lays the foundations of his theory with these basic facts, Assad is arming “farmers and villagers”, ie: Syrian men of military age, that are willing to fight the extremist dominated insurgency Chulov has propagated and promoted for the best part of two years. Yet Chulov is eager to portray these farmers and villagers (Syrians) as “evil Shabiha” intent on sectarian cleansing.

And, lo and behold, the land registry in Homs has burnt down! It seems Chulov has forgotten Homs has been a conflict zone for quite some time, constantly under bombardment from either rebels, or the SAA attempting to remove them. This includes a massive air and artillery campaign on the SAA’s part. Again, it is beyond Chulov’s wildest imaginations that this particular building may well be under government auspices, therefore a prime target for his beloved rebels. Indeed, since the very first week of the crisis in Daraa, militants attacked Government buildings and offices – often setting them ablaze. In Chulovs investigative mind, there is only one explanation: “the “Shabiha” set the land registry ablaze to remove proof of land-ownership, his anonymous source, in an almost Sherlock-Watson moment of journalistic drama confirms Chulovs suspicions: (my emphasis)

“What else could be going on?” asked one resident who refused to be identified. “This is the most secure area of the city and it is the only building that has been burned. A conspiracy is underway.”

Once more Chulov relies on anonymous sources and vague rhetoric to underline that the fire was undoubtedly set by “regime forces”. Chulov tells us “eyewitnesses” (no names of course) and “employees” (employees of who exactly he is not clear) recall seeing flames in the upper floors of the ministry and regime forces in the floors below. The regime forces couldn’t possibly have been stationed there, inside a government building, or maybe even attempting to put the flames out. No, the only plausible explanation is that regime forces set the blaze then dutifully stood around in the floors below waiting for the ceiling to collapse, in public view of everyone, even “employees”!

Chulov takes us on his sectarian fantasy of Homs, he leads us to believe that regime controlled areas are no longer multi-ethnic towns under the auspice of government, (as they have been for decades) these towns have morphed into “Alawite only” areas. Chulov fails to even mention that since the onset of the crisis it has been predominantly the “rebels” that have ethnically cleansed virtually every town or village they have entered, the examples are long and numerous. On the odd occasion rebel “liberated” towns and villages haven’t been completely emptied of civilian residents, the rebels have quickly laid sectarian demands upon Christian and Shi’a communities; engaged in summary executions, torture, imprisonment, and forced displacement, all on the basis of sect.

The oft-referenced town of Qusair is possibly the prime example of the duplicity inherent in reports from western “journalists” such as Chulov. He failed to show an ounce of “concern” back in 2012 when rebels entered Qusair and immediately forcibly removed all Christians living there (the vast majority of residents left at the same time, as has been the case in most rebel “liberated” areas). Indeed, he failed to even report on the rebel cleansing of Qusair. Chulov would find it extremely difficult to find a single town or village “liberated” by the extremist dominated rebels that hasn’t seen some form of ethnic cleansing, but these uncomfortable truths do not fit with his skewed narrative.

In fairness Chulov does attempt to offer some “balance” in his article, one whole sentence alludes to the mass exodus of Alawite’s from rebel held areas in the north of Syria (he doesn’t mention the thousands of Christians and Shi’a that have also been ethnically cleansed, nor the thousands of Sunnis that have left rebel-held areas due to the fundamentalist doctrine of the Salafi/Jihadi rebels forced upon them). Chulov explains this minimal episode of ethnic cleansing as a result of northern Syria being dominated by jihadists, giving the reader the false impression that rebels in other regions are not the jihadi type.

Literally every piece of information Chulov uses to bolster his “Alawite enclave” narrative is a source form a rebel leader/militant, an activist, or an anonymous source. He again tells us that the whole of the north of Homs has been “emptied of Sunni’s” and replaced with Alawites, the empirical evidence he provides? “Local leaders claim”. Leaders of what and whom Chulov fails to reveal. The sectarian narrative Chulov has relied upon bears fruit once more, and again in the form of  an “activist” account: (my emphasis)

“There have been obvious examples of denominational cleansing in different areas in Homs,” said local activist, Abu Rami. “It is denominational cleansing; part of a major Iranian Shia plan, which is obvious through the involvement of Hezbollah and Iranian militias. And it’s also part of Assad’s personal Alawite state project.”

One must seriously take this man for his word, obviously an “activist” (a common euphemism for armed opposition rebel in western media) is in a prime position to understand the workings of “Iranian Shi’a plans” and Assads “personal projects”. Maybe the Syrian Observatory told him, just after Assad and Ayatollah Khamenei relayed their plans to the man in Coventry. Chulov once again offers zero empirical evidence to back these claims and is quite literally engaging in opposition stenography. (a favourite pastime of Chulov’s; going by his work on Syria for the past two years.)

Chulov spends the remainder of the article theorising and speculating on the regimes alleged sectarian motives, all on the basis of his vague and anonymous “sources”. He tells us, quite incredibly and with no shame in the lack of journalistic integrity that “diplomatic sources in the region” – presumably the same “diplomatic sources” that have erroneously declared such falsehood as “Assads days are numbered”, which Chulov has dutifully repeated in his articles ad nauseam – have relayed that Assad is not only planning an “Alawite rump state” in the west of Syria, but the first countries Assad is making overtures toward to secure this “rump state” are his biggest enemies: (my emphasis)

Over the past six months, diplomats in the region have claimed that contingency planning for a rump state to protect Syrian Alawites has involved diplomatic contact being made by senior Syrian officials with enemy states. A mediator – a well-known diplomatic figure – is understood to have been asked by Assad to approach the former Israeli foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, late last year with a request that Israel not stand in the way of attempts to form an Alawite state, which could have meant moving some displaced communities into the Golan Heights area.

It seems Chulov is unwilling to acknowledge, or realise, that Israel is the only regional state that has overtly and opportunistically attacked Syria since the crisis erupted. It makes absolutely no sense for Assad to make overtures and relay plans to one of his biggest threats, and a state that actively conspires with the jihadi dominated opposition. Chulov also conveniently omits the fact that the “plan” he so eagerly propagates Assad is intent upon is the exact “optimal scenario” Israeli military leaders have put forward for their ideal outcome of the Syrian crisis.

How very convenient that the “optimal scenario” for Israel (and its allies in their attack on the Syrian state) just happens to be the precise narrative Chulov and others are going to great lengths to propagate. Let me be clear, Western/Israeli media is propagating the idea that Assad is attempting to build an “Alawite enclave”, because that is the exact scenario the west and its allies who are attacking Syria are intent upon. If Assad cannot be removed – which is becoming more and more unlikely without overt western intervention – then the US, Israel and their Gulf allies will attempt to “Balkanise” the Syrian state.