Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

October 21, 2016

The numbers game in East Aleppo

Filed under: Syria — louisproyect @ 6:22 pm


Last night I attended a panel discussion on the siege of East Aleppo that left me depressed and angry, especially as its participants spelled out the terrible beating that hospitals are taking. The event started with a video narrated by Dr. Hatem who is the Director of the Independent Doctor’s Association’s Children’s Hospital. It is not easy to look at the footage of wounded children whose only offense was being forced to live in a city that Assad deemed filled with terrorists. It gave me the same sinking feeling I used to get when I worked at the Memorial Sloan Kettering cancer hospital in the 1980s. When you see a 3-year old kid walking around with a medication bag attached to his or her arm, you wonder how anybody can believe in god. After watching this video about Russian and Baathist atrocities, you can easily end up believing in the existence of Satan.

Now living in the USA, Dr. Abdulaziz spoke about his experiences working as a pediatrician in East Aleppo where the day begins at 7am and ends at 9pm. Doctors not only have to cope with shortages of medication and supplies, they anxiously await the next Russian bunker-buster bomb that can penetrate into a building’s basement, where all medical facilities operate now.

This video conveys the kind of information that was provided by the speakers:

With all of this weighing heavily on my mind this morning, I probably should have not read Pepe Escobar’s article in today’s Counterpunch that argued about the need to throw caution to the wind in the siege of Aleppo since “no more than 30,000 or 40,000 out of an initial population of 300,000” are living there. And since all the rebels in East Aleppo are jihadists, Escobar urges that the final assault on East Aleppo become “hardcore” as if he is describing a Metallica concert rather than blowing up pediatric hospitals:

The SAA, once again, is tremendously overextended. Thus, the method to reconquer East Aleppo is indeed hardcore. There is a humanitarian crisis. There is collateral damage. And this is only the beginning. Because sooner or later the SAA, supported by Hezbollah and Iraqi Shi’ite militias, will have to reconquer East Aleppo with boots on the ground as well – supported by Russian fighter jets.

Would it matter to Escobar if there were 300,000 to 400,000 people living in East Aleppo rather than 1/10th that number? Probably not. This is a guy who would probably be okay with killing 3 to 4 million if it advanced the cause of the BRICS or whatever the fuck ideology this mutt believes in. It certainly isn’t socialism.

But how did that 30,000 to 40,000 number come up in the first place? Even Martin Chulov, who has written useful reports on Syria, accepted that number as a given in a Guardian article: “Those who remain in eastern Aleppo, roughly 40,000 from a prewar population estimated at about a million, have been without electricity or running water for more than a year.” I get how you can ascertain whether there is electricity or running water but was a census taker going door to door to collect such data?

Moon of Alabama, a website that has the same indifference to human suffering as Escobar, makes a point about population reduction as well:

In other siege areas where the rebels gave up to the Syrian government the numbers of people coming out of them were much smaller than the original inhabitants. The numbers were also smaller than all prior estimates. Daraya, near Damascus, originally had some 80,000 inhabitants. The numbers of besieged people in Daraya the UN had given were variously between several ten-thousands and down to 8,000. When the evacuation of Daraya started the Syrian army estimated that 800-1,200 fighters and 4,000 civilians would come out. In the end the numbers of leaving fighters was some 600-700 and less than 2,000 civilians turned up to leave. The area was searched and all had left.

Maybe the best thing would be to rely on the word of Vitaly Churkin, the Russian ambassador to the United Nations, who surely would agree with Escobar and MofA on the paltry numbers of people living in East Aleppo. As it happens, Churkin sees it differently. On the inimical RT.com, which surely is as reliable as Escobar and MofA, Churkin is quoted on the numbers game: “Over 200,000 residents of Aleppo are hostages of the Al-Nusra Front and groups allied with it.” Now if you can’t believe the Russian Ambassador to the UN, who can you believe?



  1. “The SAA, once again, is tremendously overextended. Thus, the method to reconquer East Aleppo is indeed hardcore.”

    This reminds me of David Brooks’ infamous column in November 2003 where he argued that we had to accept the need for atrocities to defeat the Iraqi resistance:

    “What will happen to the national mood when the news programs start broadcasting images of the brutal measures our own troops will have to adopt? Inevitably, there will be atrocities that will cause many good-hearted people to defect from the cause. They will be tempted to have us retreat into the paradise of our own innocence.

    Somehow, over the next six months, until the Iraqis are capable of their own defense, the Bush administration is going to have to remind us again and again that Iraq is the Battle of Midway in the war on terror, the crucial turning point where either we will crush the terrorists’ spirit or they will crush ours.”

    Comment by Richard Estes — October 21, 2016 @ 8:04 pm

  2. The standards of your cryptakfiri rhetoric, while no longer surprising, are still quite shocking.

    The headline of the Catholic Herald article you link to us actually: “Only 40,000 Christians are left in Aleppo, according to reports.” The term “East Allepo” never occurs in this article, so your really just making it up at this point. But no reason to stop there, we are also told:

    ‘The Carmelite convent is situated on the outskirts of Aleppo, an area under constant siege. Sister Anne-Françoise explained: “When the Syrian army attempts to prevent the opposition and other groups from entering into the city, the bombing and shelling is really close to us”.’

    So the ‘opposition’ and ‘other groups’ had not yet entered the part of the city these folks reside as of the date of this article(early August). What do you think ‘other groups’ signifies over here? Why is the bombing and shelling are really close only when they are trying to ‘enter the city’? Where are they entering from? Why are they attempting to enter at all? How is it all these indescriminate ‘Barrel Bombs’ have managed to spare the convent after five years of ‘Assad making war on his own people’? Could it be that there is a God after all?

    Comment by masoud — October 21, 2016 @ 11:30 pm

  3. On the official website of the Russian embassy with the UN, Vitaly Churkin says there are just 20k civilians in East Aleppo, NOT 200k that you stated.
    Heres the quote : “I will give more details on the situation in Eastern Aleppo. Eastern Aleppo is controlled by over twenty armed groups with about 3,500 fighters. Jabhat Al-Nusrah units are the main force in the east of the city. Their overall strength amounts to around 2,000 fighters. … Protests have been brutally suppressed by terrorists using arms. Therefore, around 20,000 citizens of Aleppo are hostages of Jabhat Al-Nusrah terrorists and other affiliated groups. These terrorists try to use women and children as a human shield….”
    So by his figures, there are 3,500 jihadi fighters and 20,000 civilians in E. Aleppo.

    Comment by Jed — October 22, 2016 @ 2:41 am

  4. Masoud, thanks for the correction. Now maybe you can explain Churkin’s reference to 200,000 people living in East Aleppo.

    Comment by louisproyect — October 22, 2016 @ 2:54 am

  5. Saleh Muslim: “The humanitarian pause in Aleppo has been extended for 24 hours, as announced by Russia, that is true. Russia wants to separate civilians from Al Nusra and other terrorist organizations. But like they do the same with terrorist organizations, they are also using the civilians as a shield. But it is not easy to get the terrorists out of Aleppo. In fact, they even don’t let the civilians out”.

    So fucking disgusting that Tony Iltis is repeating the filthy propaganda of Saleh Muslim while pediatric hospitals are being bombed.

    Comment by louisproyect — October 22, 2016 @ 3:01 am

  6. So how did RT.com’s editors accept Churkin’s original figure that was ten times the “real” population of East Aleppo without doing a double-take? If Obama made a speech that claimed that the population of Turkey was 740,000,000, would the NY Times print that without including a clarification in the article?

    Not only that, the official Syrian press cited the same figure: http://syriatimes.sy/index.php/news/world/26520-over-200-000-residents-of-aleppo-are-hostages-of-al-nusra-front-allied-groups-churkin.

    So did Iran: http://www.presstv.com/Detail/2016/09/25/486379/Russia-UNSC-Syria-US-France-China-Aleppo.

    So, obviously they were ready to accept the figure of 200,000 initially without any qualms.

    Frankly, I have no idea what the population of East Aleppo is. What I do know is that anybody who talks about 20,000 or 30,000 or 40,000 does so cluelessly. But that goes with the territory of an element of the “left” that is trying to excuse the mass murder of people under siege because there aren’t that many of them anyhow.

    Finally, if Churkin’s correction is to be accepted at face value, we are to believe that it has taken nearly four years for the Syrian military with its air force to seize control of East Aleppo that has only 3,500 fighters. When that did not suffice, they called in Russian bombers, Hizbollah, Kurds, Iran, and Afghan mercenaries. That should give you some idea of how little motivated Syrian soldiers are to defend a family dynasty that embodies crony capitalism just like Nicaragua’s Somoza.

    Comment by louisproyect — October 22, 2016 @ 3:11 am

  7. Is Churkin a paragon of truth and flawless accuracy in a world now dark with deceit and muddied waters? I’m not dure, but I would trust him more than the NATO set. If two hundred thousand was the pre war population if East Allepo, I’d have trouble believing that it is remotely close to that level now. I think either the Russian diplomat was either

    a) accidentally misspoke

    b) using the widely accepted western figures so as not to take away from his primary point that the terrorists in Allepo forbid the civilians from fleeing, literally using them as human shields.

    c) was referring to the practice of the terrorist groups of shelling residential sections of Western Allepo which has killed hundreds of civilians over the past weeks, in which case 200,000 would be the number of civilians within the current artillery range of the Marxist/Feminist/Anarchist/Liberalism/Wahabist/ButCertainlyNotTerrorist armed groups who have ‘liberated’ East Allepo.

    Comment by masoud — October 22, 2016 @ 3:57 am

  8. Masoud, nobody knows how many people are living in East Aleppo now. But the point of this article is not demographics. It is to indict Pepe Escobar for being a miserable heartless fuck for justifying Russia’s “hardcore” war crimes (that’s what bombing hospitals are) because there are “only” 30 or 40,000 people being killed or maimed.

    Comment by louisproyect — October 22, 2016 @ 4:10 am

  9. ‘Is Churkin a paragon of truth and flawless accuracy in a world now dark with deceit and muddied waters? I’m not dure, but I would trust him more than the NATO set.’

    Why is that then, Masoud? Reckon he has a good record on Ghouta chemical attacks, for example. You are just another sectarian mass murder mass torture supporting fanatic masquerading as a voice of reason.

    Comment by Matthew Jackson — October 22, 2016 @ 1:18 pm

  10. “Reckon he has a good record on Ghouta chemical attacks….”

    Little NATO birdies tell you that Matthew? Or was it the Nusrah Workers Syndicate?

    Comment by masoud — October 22, 2016 @ 3:21 pm

  11. The Russians said it was a false flag. It was Ake Sellstrom , expert leader of the investigation, said the Russian theories were hopeless. I know that you as a pro-Assad don’t care about what ‘experts’ say. But it’s impossible to argue with ‘true believers’ like you. You never answer a simple question. Why do you trust Chirkin more than ‘the NATO set’?

    Comment by Matthew Jackson — October 22, 2016 @ 3:30 pm

  12. Good to have it on the record that this lot take such offense to the idea that a NATO is less trustworthy than a Russian diplomat. I think there is actually a lot to dissect about the affinity between the dead ender marxists and the takfiri terrorist.

    Isis, Nusrah and it’s cohorts hate non-muslims, but they are ideologically distinguished from Al Qaeda by the fact that much more than non-muslims in foreign countries, they hate Muslims in ‘Muslim Lands’ who they proclaim to have ‘left’ Islam. Thus they scapegoat anyone who doesn’t subscribe 100% to their demented view of faith as the cause of decline of the Muslim World. The reasons people in ‘Muslim Lands’ don’t agree with them doesn’t make the slightest bit of difference in their minds they are all one lot: they have betrayed ‘Islam’, and must be put to the sword. Furthermore, they have particularly virulent hate towards hate any section of the Muslim world that simultaneously rejects them and their ideology and manages to stand up to western imperialist powers: the fact that they exist invalidates Takfiri philosophy and identity, so these forces must be prioritized for destruction.

    Deadender Marxists have the same view of the developing world as it relates to Marxist ideology. Marxists at one point thought the rise of their ideology throughout the developing world was inevitable.The ultimate failure if this ideology and it’s rejection by the entire planet(save maybe, Cuba?), is considered by these folks to be history’s greatest crime. Any moderately successful developing nation that has achieved positive results for its people ‘despite’ their rejection of Marxism, drives these folk into a blind fury, out of which springs this thinly disguised schadenfreude whenever those nations are ‘taken down a peg’. As nasty as that sentiment is to begin with, if left to fester it eventually gets nastier: these clowns go from cheering the ‘Betrayers of the People’ getting taken down a peg, to cheering on whoever it is doing the ‘taking down’, whatever the record of those particular actors. What other opportunities will they ever have to trot out those well worne revolutionary homilies?

    So that’s really how you get to the rather sad spectacle of self described marxists cheering on the NATO logistical supply, and further demanding the imposition of a NATO no fly zone in support of Takfiri genocidal maniacs.

    Comment by masoud — October 22, 2016 @ 4:19 pm

  13. “It was Ake Sellstrom , expert leader of the investigation…”
    Oh, an ‘Expert Leader’, was he? I guess that just ends the debate right there. Check and Mate!

    Comment by masoud — October 22, 2016 @ 4:27 pm

  14. Any moderately successful developing nation that has achieved positive results for its people ‘despite’ their rejection of Marxism, drives these folk into a blind fury, out of which springs this thinly disguised schadenfreude whenever those nations are ‘taken down a peg’.

    I take it you have never read a serious critique of Assad’s economic policy. I recommend Bassam Haddad’s “The Syrian Regime’s Business Backbone” that appeared in MERIP:

    After Bashar al-Asad succeeded his father in 2000, the architects of Syria’s economic policy sought to reverse the downturn by liberalizing the economy further, for instance by reducing state subsidies. Private banks were permitted for the first time in nearly 40 years and a stock market was on the drawing board. After 2005, the state-business bonds were strengthened by the announcement of the Social Market Economy, a mixture of state and market approaches that ultimately privileged the market, but a market without robust institutions or accountability. Again, the regime had consolidated its alliance with big business at the expense of smaller businesses as well as the Syrian majority who depended on the state for services, subsidies and welfare. It had perpetuated cronyism, but dressed it in new garb. Families associated with the regime in one way or another came to dominate the private sector, in addition to exercising considerable control over public economic assets. These clans include the Asads and Makhloufs, but also the Shalish, al-Hassan, Najib, Hamsho, Hambouba, Shawkat and al-As‘ad families, to name a few. The reconstituted business community, which now included regime officials, close supporters and a thick sliver of the traditional bourgeoisie, effected a deeper (and, for the regime, more dangerous) polarization of Syrian society along lines of income and region.

    Successive years of scant rainfall and drought after 2003 produced massive rural in-migration to the cities — more than 1 million people had moved by 2009 — widening the social and regional gaps still further. Major cities, such as Damascus and Aleppo, absorbed that migration more easily than smaller ones, which were increasingly starved of infrastructural investment. Provincial cities like Dir‘a, Idlib, Homs and Hama, along with their hinterlands, are now the main battlegrounds of the rebellion. Those living in rural areas have seen their livelihoods gutted by reduction of subsidies, disinvestment and the effects of urbanization, as well as decades of corrupt authoritarian rule. The Tunisian and Egyptian uprisings motivated them to express their discontent openly and together.

    full: http://www.merip.org/mer/mer262/syrian-regimes-business-backbone

    I should mention that Haddad has a big article in the latest Nation that in essence calls for the continuation of Baathist rule so nobody could confuse him with me.

    And even Patrick Cockburn agrees with Haddad:

    Again, consider Syria. The expansion of the free market in a country where there was neither democratic accountability nor the rule of law meant one thing above all: plutocrats linked to the nation’s ruling family took anything that seemed potentially profitable. In the process, they grew staggeringly wealthy, while the denizens of Syria’s impoverished villages, country towns, and city slums, who had once looked to the state for jobs and cheap food, suffered. It should have surprised no one that those places became the strongholds of the Syrian uprising after 2011. In the capital, Damascus, as the reign of neoliberalism spread, even the lesser members of the mukhabarat, or secret police, found themselves living on only $200 to $300 a month, while the state became a machine for thievery.

    full: http://www.tomdispatch.com/blog/176158/tomgram%3A_patrick_cockburn,_an_endless_cycle_of_indecisive_wars/

    So is Cockburn right that the Syrian state became a machine for thievery? I suppose that you’ll deny this just as you deny that there is anything wrong with bombing pediatric hospitals.

    Comment by louisproyect — October 22, 2016 @ 4:30 pm

  15. Louis, can you clarify that particular bit if Takfiri propaganda you quoted from Saleh Muslim? How is Russia or Assad, using civilians as human shields? Can you go as far as the Takfiri mouthpiece has and acknowledge that the Syria is actually trying to separate the civilians from the terrorists that have embedded themselves within East Allepo, going as far as offering the terrorist safe passage to NATO territory, as they have in so many other cities before?

    Comment by masoud — October 22, 2016 @ 4:39 pm

  16. You’re right that I have never read an extended critique of the neo liberal aspects of the Syrian economy. I’ve read brief pieves, concluded that they were probably right, and moved on(I do have a day job…). I’ve never had to pretend that Syria was perfect in any regard in order to admire it’s independence from the Takfiri-NATO set or to mourn it’s destruction at the hands of roving bands of genocidal maniacs employed by same.

    Comment by masoud — October 22, 2016 @ 4:46 pm

  17. Saleh Muslim was referring to Nusra and all the other rebels for that matter, not the Russians. In case you hadn’t noticed, the Kurds agree with Churkin–that the rebels are holding the East Aleppo population as a hostage. I am for Kurdish self-determination but I find the alliance they have formed with the Russians and Assad despicable.

    Comment by louisproyect — October 22, 2016 @ 4:48 pm

  18. to mourn it’s destruction at the hands of roving bands of genocidal maniacs employed by same.

    You don’t seem to grasp that I and nearly everybody I am connected to around the Syrian revolution are on the left and have nothing to do with jihadism. In fact I am a deep admirer of Yassin al-Haj Saleh who is described in Wikipedia as:

    a Syrian writer and political dissident. He writes on political, social and cultural subjects relating to Syria and the Arab world. From 1980 until 1996 he spent time in prison in Syria for his membership in the left-wing opposition group Syrian Communist Party (Political Bureau), which he calls a “communist pro-democracy group”.However, he has also stated that his time in prison allowed him to break out of the “internal prisons [of] narrow political affiliation [and] rigid ideology”, and has called the Syrian revolution an “open-ended and multi-leveled struggle”, while remaining supportive of aspects of Marxism. He was arrested while he was studying medicine in Aleppo and spent sixteen years in prison, the last in Tadmur Prison. He took his final examination as a general medical practitioner in 2000, but never practiced.

    If you prefer Assad who had this Marxist thrown in prison, go ahead. It’s a free country. Just try to remember that this website is titled Unrepentant Marxist, not Unrepentant Believer in Bourgeois Nationalism, Crony Capitalism and the CIA Extraordinary Rendition Program.

    Comment by louisproyect — October 22, 2016 @ 5:11 pm

  19. I have no idea who Yassin al-Haj Saleh is, and neither I, nor anyone else has had to in order to understand what is going on in Syria. I have no reason to believe your fellow believer is anything other than s one time political prisoner whatwho was released and graduated from medical school the same year Bashar Al Assad assumed office. Your wikipedia article makes no reference to any recent trouble he’s had between the time he was released from jail, and the beginnings of the Takfirist attack on Syria.

    It’s an attack he seems to support, that’s his decision. But that doesn’t obviate the fact that this is a Takfirist genocidal rampage, and not a people’s revolution. Your fellow believer has as much to do ‘on the ground’ with this war as you or I do. That’s why he fled first to Damascus then to Europe, then to Istanbul.

    If you ever decide it’s time for a name change you should definitely shortlist the ‘The Prattling crypto-Takfirist’

    Comment by masoud — October 22, 2016 @ 5:38 pm

  20. Seems like the supporters of Assad don’t read too good. Wildly and without abandon, they use the most bizarre charges they conjure out of thin air to level at the opponents of this genocidal guy who thinks Syria is the private property of his family.

    The irony of it all is that the biggest ‘takfiri’ faction in this civil war is the Syrian Persian-Speaking Army, who, through their defense of their genocidal ally in Syria, are upholding a theocracy in Iran. A theocracy that reintroduced stoning of women to death for adultery, that hangs gay people from cranes in public spectacles of terror, a theocracy that considers women (in LAW) as half as worthy as men, and who have introduced industrial scale torture and rape of political opponents both in Iran and Syria. The list goes on.

    The real non-jihadis can only be found among the millions of Syrian people who rose up to overthrow this disgusting dictatorship that has created a living hell for all Syrians for the past forty years.

    Comment by Reza — October 22, 2016 @ 5:47 pm

  21. I can understand why you would want to make an amalgam between Yassin al-Haj Saleh and the “Takfirists”. It is essentially the tactic of the worldwide support network of people who either work out of a basement in Moscow for pay or for free just because they are ideologically disposed to bourgeois nationalism and crony capitalism. The goal is to make Assad look good by smearing everybody who revolted against him as a terrorist. It is a filthy lie and clearly indicates that you are some kind of anti-Communist, especially with your reference to deadender Marxists. When you take into account that Putin describes Lenin as the source of all the bad things that have happened to Russia since 1917, your Assadist/Putinite politics become abundantly clear.

    Comment by louisproyect — October 22, 2016 @ 5:50 pm

  22. Reza, your comment is so just perfect in so many different ways, I really don’t know what more to say.

    Comment by masoud — October 22, 2016 @ 5:56 pm

  23. How about some specifics? Where are the secularist, internationalist, working class armed forces? What city do they operate from? How many men do they have under arms? How are they supplied? Where are they fighting? Where areas have they liberated? Where is Yassin al-Haj Saleh’s army?

    Comment by masoud — October 22, 2016 @ 6:02 pm

  24. Are you Iranian, Masoud? You come across as a partisan of the Islamic Republic. Do you like the idea of bus drivers being thrown in prison for trying to organize a union in Tehran? That’s exactly the sort of thing that would happen in Damascus as well. When did you first decide that capitalist development was the key to progress in Syria and Iran? Did you read “Atlas Shrugged” or something?

    Comment by louisproyect — October 22, 2016 @ 6:03 pm

  25. How about some specifics?



    All around Taftanaz, amid the destruction, rebel councils like this were meeting—twenty-seven in all, and each of them had elected a delegate to sit on the citywide council. They were a sign of a deeper transformation that the revolution had wrought in Syria: Bashar al-Assad once subdued small towns like these with an impressive apparatus of secret police, party hacks, and yes-men; now such control was impossible without an occupation. The Syrian army, however, lacked the numbers to control the hinterlands—it entered, fought, and moved on to the next target. There could be no return to the status quo, it seemed, even if the way forward was unclear.

    In the neighboring town of Binnish, I visited the farmers’ council, a body of about a thousand members that set grain prices and adjudicated land disputes. Its leader, an old man I’ll call Abdul Hakim, explained to me that before the revolution, farmers were forced to sell grain to the government at a price that barely covered the cost of production. Following the uprising, the farmers tried to sell directly to the town at almost double the former rates. But locals balked and complained to the citywide council, which then mandated a return to the old prices—which has the farmers disgruntled, but Hakim acknowledged that in this revolution, “we have to give to each as he needs.”

    It was a phrase I heard many times, even from landowners and merchants who might otherwise bristle at the revolution’s egalitarian rhetoric—they cannot ignore that many on the front lines come from society’s bottom rungs. At one point in March, the citywide council enforced price controls on rice and heating oil, undoing, locally, the most unpopular economic reforms of the previous decade.

    “We have to take from the rich in our village and give to the poor,” Matar told me. He had joined the Taftanaz student committee, the council that plans protests and distributes propaganda, and before April 3 he had helped produce the town’s newspaper, Revolutionary Words. Each week, council members laid out the text and photos on old laptops, sneaked the files into Turkey for printing, and smuggled the finished bundles back into Syria. The newspaper featured everything from frontline reporting to disquisitions on revolutionary morality to histories of the French Revolution. (“This is not an intellectual’s revolution,” Matar said. “This is a popular revolution. We need to give people ideas, theory.”)

    Most opposition towns elect a delegate to one of the fifty or so district-wide councils across the country. At the next level up is the Syrian Revolution General Command, the closest thing to a nationwide revolutionary institution. It claims to represent 70 percent of the district-wide councils. The SRGC coordinates protests and occasionally gives the movement political direction: activists in Taftanaz told me that they sometimes followed its suggestions concerning their publications.

    Comment by louisproyect — October 22, 2016 @ 6:06 pm

  26. Changing the topic, are we, Louis?

    Comment by masoud — October 22, 2016 @ 6:07 pm

  27. So it is the poor farmers of Taftanaz who have taken up arms against the Syrian Arab Army?

    Comment by masoud — October 22, 2016 @ 6:10 pm

  28. Like I said, Assadists just can’t read too good. Masoud asks for specifics, he gets specifics, and he says Louis is changing the topic. Go figure!

    Comment by Reza — October 22, 2016 @ 6:13 pm

  29. So it is the poor farmers of Taftanaz who have taken up arms against the Syrian Arab Army?

    Of course. The social base of the Syrian revolution is the rural poor. It came into existence because the crony capitalism of the Assad dictatorship made life impossible. Frankly I have no idea why someone so disposed to Assad’s elite “one percenters” would want to waste time arguing with me or Reza or any of my readers. Clearly you believe in capitalism and maybe should find some other blog to comment on. Just google “Ayn Rand” or “Milton Friedman” and I am sure something will turn up.

    Comment by louisproyect — October 22, 2016 @ 6:16 pm

  30. There is an armed conflict in Syria, who are the parties? Were are the armed Taftanazite revolutionary forces? Where is Yassin al-Haj Saleh’s army?

    Comment by masoud — October 22, 2016 @ 6:23 pm

  31. Masoud, you are becoming increasingly trollish and stupid. I have better things to do than answer your puerile questions.

    Comment by louisproyect — October 22, 2016 @ 6:30 pm

  32. […] could begin with one important and  latest contributions:  The numbers game in East Aleppo by Louis […]

    Pingback by Will the left hear the cries from Aleppo? | Tendance Coatesy — October 23, 2016 @ 10:53 am

  33. Everything that can be said about this article has already been said below – The Unrepentant Marxist now exclusively appeals to emotion and ignores scientific evidence, you aced dialectical materialism 101 with flying colours. Now I eagerly await your eloquent denunciation of the American invasion of civilian-packed Mosul.

    Comment by mancini — October 23, 2016 @ 8:36 pm

  34. What kind of fucking moron are you, Mancini? I was denouncing the American invasion of Iraq probably when your dad and mom were working on conceiving you.

    This is from 10 years ago:


    MERIP opines on immediate withdrawal from Iraq

    Like NACLA, the Middle East Information and Research Project (MERIP) emerged during the radicalization that began in the 1960s and was designed to serve as an independent and radical alternative to mainstream journalism.

    Apparently, based on the evidence of an article by Executive Director Chris Toensing titled “Why Exiting Iraq Won’t Be Easy” in the current “In These Times”, MERIP has evolved in the same direction as NACLA. As the 60s died down and as the principals involved with such publications become a bit longer in the tooth and more convinced of their usefulness to wonkish policy-makers in Washington, the more pragmatic and the more opportunist they become. Thirty years ago the target audience for MERIP or NACLA might have been undergraduates organizing teach-ins. Now it would seem to be aides to Hillary Clinton or Joe Biden.

    After surveying the current military and political situation in Iraq, Toensing’s article makes the case that “The United States, having done so much to break Iraq, has now become powerless to fix it.” Those of us who are still foolish enough to adhere to the principles of self-determination that prompted us to organize antiwar demonstrations in the 60s can only stand with our mouths agape at the notion of the US “fixing” anything. There is absolutely nothing in Toensing’s article that challenges the right of the US to send its troops anywhere to act as a police force.


    Comment by louisproyect — October 23, 2016 @ 9:53 pm

  35. Further to what Reza said above about Iran, I read this today , ‘Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah cast the insurgency against Syrian President Bashar Assad as a facade designed to weaken Iran’s regional access and make “changes to the map”, vowing to stay in the country until it could “defeat the apostate project.”

    ‘The apostate project’. Yet some on the putative Left, like Corbyn to a degree I think I’m right in saying, still vaunt Hezbollah. Strange.

    Comment by Matthew Jackson — October 24, 2016 @ 8:33 am

  36. “Yet some on the putative Left, like Corbyn to a degree I think I’m right in saying, still vaunt Hezbollah. Strange.”

    First of all, Corbyn doesn’t necessary “vaunt” Hezbollah, but he doesn’t support the US/Israel policy of reducing Lebanon to a client state through its destruction. That doesn’t mean that he supports Hezbollah policies and its intervention in Syria. Hezbollah has working class Shia support, even if it acts contrary to their interests by supporting austerity and neoliberal policies. Don’t know if it is true now, but it was reported several years ago that the Hezbollah base was more interventionist in Syria than the leadership. If so, this is reflective of a real crisis on the left in regard to the ability to engage the Shia working class. Beyond this, the Shia are under assault in Lebanon, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Iraq, facing a possible genocide in Yemen, and the left needs to find a way to confront this, as it does Assad in Syria, given that the US/UK/Saudi Arabia/Israel have effectively dehumanized them as “an Iranian proxy”.

    Comment by Richard Estes — October 24, 2016 @ 10:54 pm

  37. Matthew Jackson on October 24, 2016 at 8:33 am

    I’m not sure whether your just trolling or actually ignorant, do I’ll assume the latter.

    ISIS, Nusrah and the other ‘opposition’ groups are referred to as the ‘takfiri’ project. This word may sound familiar: it is from the same root as ‘kafir’, which has been variously interprated into English as infidel, apostate, unbeliever etc… (The root they both share ‘kfr’ which means to cover up or to hide).
    To do ‘takfir’ is to declare someone a ‘kafir’. This is practice complete my unique, and quite widespread to groups formed in the recent Syrian ‘revolution’. This is a practice that not even the Taliban or the Bin Laden wing of Al Qaeda approved of.

    When Nasrallah talks about defeating the takfiri project, he talks about defeating precisely the groups that are running around proclaiming people they don’t like to be ideologically deficient and then executing them. Whatever dubious source you read is purposely conflating the meaning of the words ‘takfir’ and ‘kafir’ because they know what their readers want to hear.

    Comment by masoud — October 24, 2016 @ 11:43 pm

  38. Louis Proyect, you know that I was talking about the currently ongoing invasion of Mosul by American and Iraqi forces, not the invasion of 13 years ago. Mosul is packed with 1.5 million civilian hostages of ISIL, so logically, I expect you to denounce the Americans’ callous disregard for civilian lives with the same or greater vigour and disgust with which you denounce the battle for east Aleppo.

    Comment by mancini — October 25, 2016 @ 6:17 am

  39. Yes, Mancini. Not only do I oppose the assault on Mosul, I also analyzed why ISIS arose out of the oppression of Sunnis that the American-supported Shia state exploited.


    Comment by louisproyect — October 25, 2016 @ 11:48 am

  40. Masoud, if Nasrallah is concerned about mass murder and those who busy themselves with executing those they find unsound he has a more obvious enemy in the regime he supports so totally, with his unholy war, on ‘the apostate project’.

    “The Assad regime is killing so many detainees in Syria that it now amounts to the crime against humanity of “extermination”, a UN report has found.

    In a document published by the UN’s High Commissioner for Human Rights, investigators found the Syrian government responsible for “massive and systematised violence”.

    The crimes against humanity committed by the Assad regime, according to the UN, far outnumber those of Isis militants and other jihadist groups.”

    But he isn’t bothered about any of that is he. You never did answer if you are Iranian. You really do discuss things like you are basij.

    Comment by Matthew Jackson — October 25, 2016 @ 10:29 pm

  41. Hey, Proyect, you dirty Jew, do you still stand by this garbage after the incredibly rapid collapse of the militant pocket in East Aleppo, and the objective reality that only about 35,000 civilians were inside it (and have finally escaped, now that your jihadi pals no longer have the manpower to hold them hostage)? Unless there are hundreds of thousands of people somehow crammed into remaining 7% of the pocket that your head-chopping friends still hold, which I very much doubt.

    I see that you’ve gone extremely silent.on the whole issue of Syria since late October. I expect your silence will continue even as the tens of thousands of evacuees from East Aleppo tell their stories, and it becomes abundantly clear that the ‘moderate rebels’ were anything but.

    “Would it matter to Escobar if there were 300,000 to 400,000 people living in East Aleppo rather than 1/10th that number? Probably not. This is a guy who would probably be okay with killing 3 to 4 million if it advanced the cause of the BRICS or whatever the fuck ideology this mutt believes in.”

    Says the crapsack who doesn’t see any problem with ‘moderates’ allying with medieval fanatics, and who would love to see Syria continue to be savaged by war for years to come, so long as it resulted in the defeat of Assad. Unrepentant indeed.

    Comment by Merasmus — December 9, 2016 @ 9:56 pm

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