Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

September 5, 2016

Refugees: a guide to modern left “Solidarity”

Filed under: Syria — louisproyect @ 3:35 pm

refugees syria left


  1. Well crafted imagery!

    Comment by lptrey — September 5, 2016 @ 10:51 pm

  2. Who on the left is against refugee rights, regardless of their position on the war? I haven’t come across anything written by a leftist besides Zizek (not a real leftist) that opposes asylum. I support any and all Syrian refugees who want to come to the U.S. being granted full asylum with extensive social benefits. The U.S. Navy should pick up the refugees on the shores of the Mediterranean and transport them across the Atlantic if thats what they want. But I don’t want the Pentagon involved in the war at all, either in terms of arming, bombing, or restricting the flow of arms to rebels. “Hands off” is consistent with support for refugees.

    Comment by Michael Nau — September 6, 2016 @ 12:24 am

  3. The point is that Assad is causing the refugee crisis. It is also the point that John Rees, et al, provide political support for Assad by demonizing the rebels as “jihadists”. If Rees and company had been raising hell since 2011 about Assad’s crimes, maybe there wouldn’t have been a refugee crisis.

    Comment by louisproyect — September 6, 2016 @ 12:43 am

  4. The refugee crisis at least here in Europe is made up of a lot more people than just from Syria/Iraq (and hence, directly victims of Assad). About 25% in Germany are from Afghanistan alone, and the entire globe is represented in the pool – Pakistan, Iran, Palestine, Somalia, Eritrea, Eastern Europe, West Africa and North Africa, etc. If peace were suddenly magically to reign in Syria and Iraq, the refugee crisis would be far from over.

    Comment by krindd — September 6, 2016 @ 7:45 pm

  5. Given that I’ve seen you on this very website lamenting that you don’t have the money to arm ‘rebels’ with MANPADS, forgive me for not believing you genuinely give much of a shit about Syrian refugees. If you had your way this war would not only continue, it would end with the overthrow of the Syrian government. What do you then imagine would happen? A peaceful democracy would emerge? The militants are literally turning on each other right now, when it only serves to further weaken them. A post-Assad Syria would be a multi-way civil war. Look to the recent histories of Lebanon, Iraq, and Afghanistan for a glimpse of what you’re actually supporting.

    Comment by Merasmus — September 7, 2016 @ 8:40 pm

  6. Given that I’ve seen you on this very website lamenting that you don’t have the money to arm ‘rebels’ with MANPADS, forgive me for not believing you genuinely give much of a shit about Syrian refugees.


    Comment by louisproyect — September 7, 2016 @ 9:56 pm

  7. Seriously? You’re gonna plead ignorance? It was several weeks back, someone in the comments made some fratricidal attack on you from the Left, and you responded by saying that if you had a nickle for every time someone had made that ‘dumb’ argument you would be able to purchase MANPAD AA missiles for Syrian rebels.

    Comment by Merasmus — September 9, 2016 @ 1:41 am

  8. Merasmus, I wasn’t able to buy any MANPAD’s unfortunately since there were only $13.75 worth of nickels. So instead I bought a nice bottle of Zinfadel.

    Comment by louisproyect — September 9, 2016 @ 1:44 am

  9. Merasmus, in my opinion, talking like you do in favour of the regime as the best way to stop the horrors of a post-Assad Syria, ( and seemingly care-less of actual present time regime horrors, a regime held up at this point mainly not by Syrians, but by Iraqi militia, Lebanese Hezbollah, press ganged Afghans, Jihadist Iranians, Imperialist Russians etc ) and seeing as in Zaatari refugee camp for example you’d get very short shrift, I think its clear it’s you who doesn’t care about Syrian refugees.

    Comment by Matthew Jackson — September 9, 2016 @ 4:06 pm

  10. And another thought, Merasmus , why not look at the recent history of Lebanon yourself . ‘ A week ago today Lebanese Judge Alaa al-Khatib issued a 44-page indictment in the case of the Tripoli mosque bombings of 23 August, 2013, naming two Syrian intelligence officers, Captain Muhammad Ali Ali of the so-called ‘Palestine Branch’ and a lesser official, Nasser Jowban, as the “planners and supervisors” of the twin car bomb attacks. Judge Khatib also initiated an inquiry into the identities of those who gave Ali and Jowban their orders, adding investigations had revealed a “high-level security apparatus” within the Syrian mukhabarat was responsible. Or consider , yourself, the 2005 assassination of Prime Minister Rafiq al-Hariri. Glimpses of what you are supporting, Merasmus.

    Comment by Matthew Jackson — September 9, 2016 @ 5:26 pm

  11. Or consider this Merasmus when you mention caring about Syrians,

    ’73 different aid groups suspend cooperation with UN in Syria because of influence of Assad regime

    Today, 73 different NGO’s working on humanitarian response to Syria and neighboring countries have issued a joint statement demanding an immediate investigation into UN’s operations in the country, and suspending their cooperation with UN bodies in Syria until further notice.
    ‘It has become clear to many organizations that the Syrian government in Damascus has a significant and substantial influence on the performance of UN agencies based in Damascus as well as their partners SARC and other humanitarian actors (…) we must express our concern over the manipulation of humanitarian relief efforts by the political interests of the Syrian government ‘

    Comment by Matthew Jackson — September 9, 2016 @ 7:00 pm

  12. It’s pretty hilarious to say the bulk of the ground fighting isn’t being done by the SAA when it’s their Tiger Forces that almost always lead the charge in key offenses. Also within just the last few days another 1,000 Syrian Marines completed training and were deployed. So the SAA continues to be a functioning military, as it has been throughout this entire war.

    I know this won’t penetrate at all, since this entire blog is a circle-jerk thought bubble, but not everyone (and in fact, I very much doubt more than a few) of the people who disagree with Proyect on Syria are ‘Ba’athists’ (incidentally, funny how you never seem to talk about the former Iraqi Ba’athists who make up so much of the leadership of ISIS, a group you have no problem with the opposition allying with if it helps defeat Assad) or paid by the Assad government. This isn’t a complicated issue: was Syria better off before the war or not? The answer is a resounding yes, and whatever the crimes, past and present, of the Assad regime the current state of affairs, not to mention the probable future situation should the opposition win, is not desirable. That you people can look at a country that is being torn to pieces and not only place the blame squarely on one faction, but lament any progress made on the battlefield towards stability as a bad thing, says a whole hell of a lot about your moral compasses.

    I’m sure the hundreds of thousands of people in western Aleppo who are now going to be fed and otherwise supplied via the recently reopened supply line through the Ramousah neighborhood don’t share your admiration for the ‘rebels’.

    Comment by Merasmus — September 9, 2016 @ 7:39 pm

  13. It’s pretty hilarious to say the bulk of the ground fighting isn’t being done by the SAA when it’s their Tiger Forces that almost always lead the charge in key offenses.

    The following is a translation of a scathing article on the state of the Syrian Arab Army that appeared in an online outlet Gazeta.ru, which is Kremlin-controlled but sometimes critical of the Russian authorities online. The author is a retired Russian officer with 8 years of experience working in the General Staff and 5 years as an editor of an established military magazine. The article, originally titled “It would be easier to disband the Syrian army and recruit a new one”, mirrors the emerging Syria fatigue sentiments in the Russian military circles and reportedly was confirmed by a serving Russian colonel, who added “Everything is like it’s written but worse”. The expert notably omits mentioning regime war crimes even when describing the use of barrel bombs. Throughout the text, he calls Syrian rebels “militants” and “illegal armed groups” — terms widely used by Russian military and media to describe Chechen fighters during the wars. This anti-rebel stance perhaps lends even more credibility to the author’s assessment of their capabilities versus those of the SAA.

    While militias, Iranian volunteers, Hezbollah and PMCs fight in lieu of the Syrian army, Bashar Assad’s soldier busy themselves with collecting bribes at checkpoints. This view becomes more and more widespread among military experts aware of the actual situation in Syria. The country’s air force is worn down and uses home-made bombs, the soldiers dig moats to protect from terrorists’ tunnels, while the militants enjoy tactical and moral superiority, says Mikhail Khodarenok, Gazeta.ru’s military observer.

    The pro-government forces are likely to capture the city of Aleppo soon. However, it remains doubtful if this will bring the end of the Syrian war closer. In Middle Eastern wars, there is no single building to plant a flag on that would make the enemy surrender unconditionally.

    Indeed, it is quite hard to say which side is currently winning the military conflict. Bashar al-Assad, the president of the Syrian Arab Republic, still does not control about half the country’s territory and a majority of towns and villages.

    The results of the fighting in Syria so far have been disastrous. The total number of Syrians killed has grown to 250-300 thousand (giving a more precise number is impossible), while about a million people have been wounded. Syrians of all ethnic and religious denominations have grown weary of the civil war that has dragged on for over five years.

    Always defeated

    The actual fighting against opposition groups is mostly done by Syrian militias, the Lebanese Hezbollah Shia units, Iranian and Iraqi volunteers and Private Military Companies (PMCs).

    The main military actions Assad’s army engages in is extorting a tribute from the locals. The Syrian armed forces have not conducted a single successful offensive during the past year.

    Apparently Syria’s General Staff has no coherent short-term or mid-term strategic plans. Assad’s generals do not believe their troops can bring the country to order without military aid from foreign states. They do not plan large-scale operations, giving the reasoning of ostensibly high combat capabilities of the illegal armed groups, lack of ammunition and modern equipment, a fear of heavy losses and a negative outcome of the fighting.

    The Syrian army’s junior officers, NCOs and privates have little enthusiasm to charge and fight for their motherland. The general morale deterioration is exacerbated by the fact that the history of the modern Syrian army has known no military victories.

    Assad’s army bears the brand of constant defeats and humiliations since the first Arab-Israeli wars of 1947-1948.

    The Syrian army fighters see no close end to the crisis. There are no set dates of ending military service. The achievements of soldiers and officers are not encouraged or awarded. The materiel and food supplies are inadequate. There are no benefits for soldiers or their families.

    Most importantly, even if the Syrian leadership wished to solve these problems, they couldn’t raise the funds to do so. Assad’s government currently has no stable income sources. Years of fighting have severely disrupted the country’s economy. Industrial production has fallen by 70%, agriculture — by 60%, oil production — by 95% and natural production — by 70%. The Syrian treasury has no money even for immediate defense expenditures.

    This situation is further exacerbated by the Syrian army being severely understaffed and underequipped. Currently, the staffing and equipment levels stand a bit over 50% of the required figures. The yearly draft does not satisfy even the minimal needs of the army. Due to this, since 2011 sergeants and privates who have served their terms have not been discharged.

    The draft fails due to a number of reasons. Some potential conscripts support the anti-government forces and actively dodge the draft. Others have joined the illegal armed groups. Still others have adopted a wait-and-see attitude, preferring not to fight for any of the sides. Many potential recruits have become refugees outside Syria, some of them in Europe. A large part of the population lives on territories outside the government troops’ control. Finally, recruits and their families fear reprisals from the militants.

    The majority of Syrian army units are based at fortified checkpoints. There are in total about 2 thousand such checkpoints throughout Syria. Thus, over a half of the army operates with no connection to their units.

    Sitting inside those fortified checkpoints, the Syrian regulars are mostly doing defensive duties and extorting money from the locals. They do not conduct any major operations to liberate population or administration centers.

    Such pillars of any military as “A superior’s order is the law for his subordinate” and “An order is to be performed at all costs, precisely, timely and with no objections”, are at best limitedly enforced in the Syrian army.

    “Barrel” bombs

    It is hard to find anything worthy of studying or imitation from the Syrian army’s military practice.

    The only worthy examples are of the “How not to wage war” variety.

    The Air Force deserves a special mention. The Syrian Arab Air Force conducts a significant number of sorties daily (reaching 100 in certain days in 2015), over 85% of which are bombing runs. The Air Force’s contribution to the overall fire damage is about 70%. The airstrikes are conducted by several dozen fighter/bomber jets and around 40 army aviation helicopters.

    The SyAAF’s main modus operandi is solitary sorties. Flights in pairs and larger units are not done in order to save resources. In order to decrease losses, the bombing runs are done at heights of 3 thousand meters and above. In extreme cases, dive bombing is used.

    Due to the lack of air ordnance, the Syrian army has until recently used even sea mines, torpedoes and depth charges for ground attacks. The so-called “barrel bombs” are also widely used. Over 10,000 of the latter have been dropped on the enemy.

    A “barrel bomb” is a type of home-made air ordnance weighting 200 to 1000 kg. It is a section of a wide oil pipeline welded shut with metal plates from both sides and stuffed with a high amount of explosives. A “barrel bomb” is highly explosive and is used to destroy buildings and attack large gatherings of the militants.

    There is no pilot training to replenish the combat losses (training in Russia has been discontinued). The aircraft are not being repaired (the only aircraft repair plant is inside the Aleppo warzone).

    full: https://citeam.org/here-s-why-assad-s-army-can-t-win-the-war-in-syria/

    Comment by louisproyect — September 9, 2016 @ 7:44 pm

  14. You want to paint Assads Syria as a force for ‘stability’ , that is ridiculous. Emile Hokayem has written an article titled ‘Assad or we burn the country;misreading sectarianism’, and you are a misreader. The whole article is worth reading, and from it I just quote ;
    ‘There is a logic to Assad’s violence. It cannot be blamed on ill-disciplined Alawite militias as the author does with regards to the massacres of Houla or Baniyas. The nature and extent of Assad’s violence is strategic in design and effect. He is pursuing a strategy of terror, siege, and depopulation in key areas, calculating that winning back the loyalty of much of the Sunni middle class and underclass is highly unlikely and certainly not worth the resources and political capital. Better to level half the country than to give it over to the opposition.

    Glaringly, the author understates the sectarian logic to the regime’s strategy. It is telling that in the author’s articles, Iran is mentioned only in passing and Hezbollah in largely benign terms.’
    I notice you dodge these same things and slur over everything that conflicts with your image of Assad regime Syria as some kind of tolerant democracy. I won’t say thats ‘hilarious’ as nothing about Assad regime Syria is hilarious but your point of view is blind.

    Comment by Matthew Jackson — September 9, 2016 @ 8:25 pm

  15. No, my position is that a war that has killed hundreds of thousands and displaced millions is not a desirable state of affairs.

    Comment by Merasmus — September 10, 2016 @ 6:13 pm

  16. ‘Same trend: #Assad’s jails as jihadis incubators; freed, 2 become terror ops in #Iraq (04-09) or #Syria (post 2011).’ You just don’t have a clue.

    Comment by Matthew Jackson — September 10, 2016 @ 11:40 pm

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