Syrian anarchist speaks

A few weeks back we examined the anatomy of the Syrian opposition, noting the various factions, how they fit in to the Great Power chess-game now being played over the country—and asking whether there are any independent secular left elements that progressives in the West can support. It was just brought to our attention that on July 28, Solidarity Federation, website of the British section of the anarcho-syndicalist International Workers Association, ran a statement from a  young man identified only by the first name Mazen, who claims to represent a "group of young Syrian anarchists and anti-authoritarians from Aleppo." In plausibly stilted English, he details the eclipse of the civil opposition by armed factions, and the foreign manipulation of the latter—while laying much of the blame for the situation with the Assad regime and its bloody repression. An excerpt:

[T]he Syrian revolution is caught now in an open armed fighting. The peaceful demonstrations lost their significance now, and almost nobody bother to mention them or think they can have real impact on the outcome of the struggle . what started as a spontaneous mass revolution has become an armed struggle between the regime army and its armed opponents. This happened mainly due to the brutal oppression of the regime, using its army, its tanks and guns against civilian neighborhoods , but also because of the intervention of tyrannies like Saudi and Qatari monarchies.

Due to the strategic position of Syria, the revolution was caught in Iran–Saudi rivalry for regional domination, and even between Russia and US , each supporting one part, but only for the sake of their own interests: we can't believe that the Saudi monarchy bother about the freedom of the Syrian people , they just want to weaken their opponent: The Iranian Islamist oppressive regime. Saudi Arabia and Qatar did all they can to divert the Syrian revolution into sectarian struggle between Sunni and Shiaa sects of Islam, cynically, the Syrian regime did the same.

Just recently an influential Saudi journalist described the Arab spring (this term is used to describe the sequence of Arab revolutions) as a Sunni spring that threatened shiia Iran. The other competing camp of oppressed regimes are using sectarianism for their sake also. The Syrian regime is trying to do the same by promoting himself as the "protector of religious minorities" in Syria.

We saw it very differently, we saw it as it happened and as it started, a spontaneous mass revolution against dictatorships and their neo-liberal policies and "reforms", and in this difficult moment for the masses; we count on the masses, on the oppressed, from every religion, sect, or ethnicity to unite against their oppressors, whatever their religion. We count on organizations like our comrades from Aleppo and other initiatives done by young students and some workers. It is a difficult struggle that could descend into sectarian civil war, and there is no guarantee but the masses' determination (and ours) to continue the struggle for real freedom and justice , for free self-organization of the oppressed .

In fact , there is very big divisions now in the Arab and Syrian left: the Stalinists stood beside the regime as an "anti–imperialist" regime; as usual, they can neglect the oppressive nature of the regime, it is so natural for them. There are three Syrian "communist" parties , supporting the regime fully very shamelessly. Other prominent Stalinist parties in Arab countries support the regime also. On the other side Trotskyites stood against such regimes but they see Islamists as a possible "allies" is such struggles , denying the reactionary, authoritarian and capitalist, even the neo-liberal, nature of the Islamists' project...

Another thing, brothers, I am going back to Syria this august in order to join the struggle of our comrades and masses. Some Syrian activists organized a campaign named WE ARE COMING BACK . We will enter Syria in August from *****. It is expected that the regime will arrest us, and they could torture some of us, or even kill some. I might need your solidarity that time. Some comrades might update you about such developments when it happen. For the time being I am still in *****, Egypt. If you can arrange any support for our comrades inside Syria you can contact me here till that time, and before leaving to Syria; I can give you contact details of our comrades inside Syria or some Egyptian comrades here to send your contributions to. Thanks a lot for your solidarity.

For revolution, and freedom, for Anarchy !! mazen *****

Some details have been redacted for the safety of the comrade concerned.

Does anyone know how to contact Mazen and his group in Aleppo? If you are reading this, comrades, please be in touch.


Nonviolent resistance in Syria

It just came to our attention that a Syrian Nonviolence Movement (SNVM) has its own Facebook page, and was written up by AFP on Aug. 28, after it held a conclave in Damascus to bring together civil opposition groups committed to unarmed struggle. "We are faced with two sides that use violence, but weapons only lead to attrition," said Raja Nassar, who coordinated the gathering. Amnesty International on May 29 featured an interview with one of the SNVM's founders, Omar Assil, now exiled in Britain, saying he always "managed to avoid arrest, but his brother was tortured by Syrian authorities." The UK branch of Amnesty also has a campiagn page to free another member of the movement, Anas al-Shogre, who "has been detained incommunicado since May 2011."

Nonviolent resistance in Syria: how real?

The new website of the Syrian Nonviolence Movement features a "Non-Violence Map in Syrian  Uprising"—not an actual geographic map, but a chart of interlocking clusters of spheres each revolving around its own central sphere. The central spheres are dubbed "Local Councils," "Civil Initiatives," "Education," "Art," "Newspapers & Magazines," etc. Each outer sphere represents a particular project, with information available at a click. This portrays a vigrous civil movement in Syria, but we wonder how many of these organizations are explicitly committed to nonviolence and without links to the armed resistance...

Apparently, 16 activists from the SNVM recently attended a two-day training session from Amnesty International UK. Amnesty writes: "Regardless of what happens in Syria, an active, strong and independent civil society (whether over ground or underground) is critical."