Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

March 22, 2021

A Short History of the Syrian Conflict

Filed under: Counterpunch,Syria — louisproyect @ 6:08 pm


When the Arab Spring came to the Middle East ten years ago, most on the left welcomed the protests, except in Libya and Syria largely out of geopolitical concerns. If the world was made up of opposing camps, you had to support Washington’s enemies even if their secret police were torturers and their governments little more than family dynasties. Libya was far more up-front about being the wholly-owned property of the Gaddafi clan but didn’t Syria have elections? Most notably, you can find references to Bashar al-Assad being re-elected to President in 2014 with close to 90 percent of the vote, a seeming anomaly given the depth of the civil war.

It turns out that he did even better in 2007, when he got 97.29 of the vote, a total redolent of Noam Chomsky and Ed Herman’s studies of demonstration elections. But you had to avoid making such a charge since you didn’t want Assad to be mistaken with José Napoleón Duarte’s victory in El Salvador in 1984. He got 54 percent of the vote but—who knows—maybe Assad deserved such overwhelming support. Yes, it’s true that it wasn’t exactly an election but a referendum on whether he should take over for his father after Hafez’s death that year. With word of posters being plastered on Damascus’s walls and songs blaring from cars and loudspeakers “We love you”, who could deny his popularity? Of course, anybody caught writing graffiti on the walls denouncing such a rigged election might end up hanging upside down in a police station and beaten for hours. That would the norm in 2011, when Syrians lost their fear.

Between 2007 and 2011, not much attention was paid to Syria. For many, the charms of the country were irresistible. Visits to Damascus and Aleppo were a perfect alternative to the usual resort spots. What could be more fun than strolling through the bazaars in search of cheap rugs? Even after the country had been torn apart by civil war, you could always count on Vanessa Beeley and Max Blumenthal to report back on the glories of the nightlife and their favorite hotels.

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  1. Almost any dictatorship is better than civil war. Those who starts a revolution against the dictatorship and there is big chance that such action will lead to civil war take big responsibility.
    Maybe a dictatorship is killing thousands, but an unsesscfull revolution turn to civil war could kill hundreds of thousands and lead to a total destruction of the country.
    Or especially , like in Syria , the revolutionaries , it seem counted of the help of US, which is not interested in any success of some democratic revolution anywhere.
    In the case of Syria, where US policy is following interest of the Israel, US helped the uprising against of Assad only to make and keep the chaos and destruction in Syria permanent, what suits Israel interest perfectly, feeding with enough weapons and sometimes with Islamic fighters ( terrorists) to keep it in that stage. There is no excuse for Assad response to the uprising, but did somebody expected some different one?

    Comment by Yugoslav — March 24, 2021 @ 11:49 pm

  2. I guess you aren’t aware that the opposition armed itself because Assad’s snipers were firing on peaceful protesters. I often wonder how people so ignorant about Syria can come here and pontificate.

    Comment by louisproyect — March 25, 2021 @ 11:30 pm

  3. Admire you’re restraint at the nostalgically-named Yugoslav. Often you are rather more abrasive to fools, which he is. Unless, that is, he sees himself as supporting the greater good, through thick and thin, through partial analysis and exclusion, focusing on the usual suspects, without a thought of domestic factors, or the wider universe of interested parties.

    Comment by Martin Davis — April 5, 2021 @ 8:17 pm

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