A “Hands Off Syria Forum”… at the Harriet Tubman Center for Social Justice?

by Javier Sethness, for the Coalition for Peace, Revolution, and Social Justice (CPRSJ)

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First of all, it is extremely unlikely that Harriet Tubman, the abolitionist leader of the Underground Railroad and anti-Confederate fighter during the U.S. Civil War, would ever countenance a “forum” uncritical of a fascist dictatorship engaged in a genocidal counter-revolution taking place anywhere bearing her name!

The International Action Center’s (IAC) announcement for an event that took place on Saturday, September 22nd, declares its opposition to the supposed U.S. war “against the people of Syria!” Certainly, the more than 15,000 airstrikes launched by the U.S. since 2014, mostly against supposed Islamic State targets, have involved many atrocities, including the destruction of Raqqa. Yet the announcement is silent about the origins of the Syrian uprising as class struggle against despotism and the clear counter-insurgent war waged by Bashar al-Assad alongside his reactionary allies: Putin’s Russia, the Islamic Republic of Iran, Lebanese Hezbollah, Liwa Fatemiyoun from Afghanistan, and other affiliated paramilitary groups from Iraq, Lebanon, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.

Instead, the announcement parrots pro-Putin and pro-Assad propaganda, claiming that the regime is about to “liberate” Idlib from “Western-backed terrorist groups.” Such framing silences the estimated 100,000 detainees who have been killed by torture in Assad’s prisons since 2011, and seeks to downplay the horror that the conquest of Idlib would entail, echoing the fate of Darayya, Homs, Eastern Aleppo, Ghouta, and Der’aa. Besides, the rebel groups in Idlib are closer to Turkey than the West. To claim these to be “contra armies,” as the IAC does, is to present an extremely misleading and false equivalence between the Sandinista Revolution and the Assad Regime.

Predictably, the announcement denies the numerous chemical-weapons attacks for which Assad is responsible, as the findings of the Organization for Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and UN show. It therefore insults the victims of such attacks merely to agree with the predetermined narrative of campism, an absurdly simplistic and dichotomous worldview that argues that the U.S. is the source of all evil in the world, and that therefore all governments supposedly opposed to it (Assad, Iran, Russia) cannot simultaneously be responsible for atrocities, including the chemical-weapons attacks and genocide for which Assad clearly is guilty: Ghouta (2013), Khan Sheikhoun (2017), and Douma (2018), to name a few such atrocities.

The IAC recognizes threated hundreds of thousands of refugees,” and that white supremacists have exploited this refugee crisis to promote themselves. What it fails to acknowledge is that it’s Assad, Russia, and Iran who have murdered 200,000 civilians since 2011, and therefore caused the vast majority of the displacement, and that its position effectively in support of Assad and in denial of his crimes against the Syrian people is one with the position of fascists. This is called the red-brown alliance (or axis).

We urge everyone who attended the September 22 “Syria Forum” to think critically about the way the IAC presents the situation in Syria. Fidelity to anti-racism is definitely incompatible with support for the Assad Regime.

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