Great Power betrayal to re-unite Syrian revolution?

On Dec. 27, leaders of the Kurdish autonmous administration¬†in northern Syria, meeting as a Constituent Assembly¬†at the town of Rmeilan (Rimelan),¬†voted to remove the name “Rojava”¬†from the federal system that governs the region. Initially called the “Democratic Federal System of Northern Syria-Rojava,” it is¬†now to be¬†named simply the “Democratic Federal System of Northern Syria.”¬†(Kurdish Question, Jan. 3) The dropping of the traditional Kurdish name for the region is something of an about-face, following a campaign to revive Kurdish-language toponymy. This would appear to be motivated by the current political re-alignment in Syria, and the final breaking of what some have seen as a de facto alliance between the Kurdish forces and the Bashar Assad regime against Turkish-backed rebel militia.

The move comes just as¬†Saleh Muslim, leader of the Kurds’¬†Democratic Union Party (PYD), has announced that the Kurdish forces have not been invited to join the new ceasefire deal in Syria‚ÄĒthis one for the first time negotiated by Russia and Turkey without the participation of the US, the power that has been most closely backing the Kurds. “We aren’t included‚Ķ Nobody asked us to join the truce because countries in the region deny that there is a nation called Kurds,”¬†Muslim said. All too tellingly, this statement is eagerly jumped on by Kremlin mouthpiece Sputnik.

That Russia’s deal with Turkey would mean¬†betrayal of the Kurds¬†became evident with the Assad regime’s ultimatum that the Kurdish forces must abandon their¬†enclave of Sheikh Maqsoud in Aleppo¬†after the city’s fall to pro-regime forces. We have not received an update on the enclave’s evacuation, but the fact that it was ordered means the Kurds are not viewed as reliable proxies by the regime or its foreign backers.

Is there a sign of hope in the dropping of the “Rojava” name? Betrayed by Russia and Assad, the Kurds may be tilting back to a more accommodationist posture on Syrian unity and seeking to rebuild ties to the other revolutionary forces. The Arab rebel forces, now betrayed by Turkey, could answer with¬†a more accommodationist posture on Kurdish¬†autonomy.

War crimes apparently continue in Aleppo.¬†The Syrian Coalition, umbrella group for the opposition,¬†issued a statement charging thay¬†Iranian forces are summarily executing civilians in the conquered city, and stressed¬†that “the international community bears responsibility for these crimes as it failed to prevent them.” The statement cited reports from local activists that¬†Iranian militiamen summarily executed six young men in the neighborhood of Sakhour on Dec. 23.

EuroNews¬†provides a chilling comparison of before-and-after photos, betraying the scale of the destruction in Aleppo.¬†One of the oldest cities on earth is nearly¬†reduced to rubble, the minaret of the Ummayad Mosque toppled…

Regime warplanes have meanwhile resumed bombardment¬†of rebel held areas¬†outside Damascus on Jan. 1‚ÄĒdespite the supposed ceasefire agreement. Hundreds fled the rebel-controlled valley of¬†Wadi Barada. (Jurist, Jan. 2)

But abandoned by all the Great Powers, Syria’s¬†civil resistance¬†is again emphasizing internal unity. Activists have called for demonstrations throughout the liberated areas of Syria, under the slogan of “Revolution Brings us Together,”¬†to demand the unification of all factions commited to “the goals and principles of the Syrian revolution.” (El-Dorar al-Shamia, Dec. 29)

  1. Syrian voices on Aleppo

    From Leila al-Shami on openDemocracy:

    As liberated Aleppo was falling, its horror broadcast by media activists in real time, thousands across the world took to the streets to protest the humanitarian catastrophe unfolding. Whilst such solidarity is vital, some may bitterly complain that it is six years too late. The last pockets of grassroots democracy and creative resistance are now being crushed, and the Syrian conflict mutates into a much darker and more terrifying phase.

    From Rime Allaf on Bandannie:

    No, actually, Syria is not an "again" but an absolute first…. It is a macabre…uninterrupted 6-year long live reality TV program watched globally 24/7 on YouTube, Facebook and Twitter, on Skype, WhatsApp and Viber.

    "Never again" doesn't apply to us, for what has been done to Syria has never been done before. Our tragic fate is to be the modern age's "never before."

    Never before has the world been able to observe – in real time – the destruction of a nation and the extermination of a people who dared to demand freedom. Never before has a civilian population been filmed under attack with Scud missiles, barrel bombs and chemical weapons by its "own" illegitimate authorities. Never before have starvation sieges and old-fashioned barbaric massacres been so documented as they happened. Never before has mass torture been so evidenced. And never before has the world's indifferent silence been so loud, save for perfunctory condemnations and erasable red lines.

    Indeed, never before has the mightiest superpower the world has ever known shamelessly pretended to be impotent, and never before has it had the temerity of falsely pleading with the Syrian people's executioners for grace and mercy, the same grace and mercy it denied Syrians by rejecting their desperate appeals for protection.

    Never again? You mean never before. Hell of a legacy.

    From Abdulfattah Alkhaled of advocacy group Kesh Malek in the LA Times:

    The United States representative to the United Nations, Samantha Power, gave an impassioned speech last week asking Russian and Syrian representatives whether they felt "any shame at all" for their actions in Aleppo, and whether there is "no execution of a child that gets under [their] skin?" For Syrians, these statements were infuriating. Americans should be asked the very same questions. You, too, have blood on your hands.

    Over the past few years, you have deceived us with your empty promises. From the first day of the 2011 revolution to the most recent breakdown of a life-saving evacuation effort, the killing of Syrians has been met with consistent U.S. inaction, or worse: U.S. acquiescence to Russian aggression. While the Assad and Russian regimes are responsible for the vast majority of Syrian bloodshed, by no means should you feel entitled to lecture the world based on your supposed "moral superiority." You have let us down again and again.

    After Rwanda and then after Srebrenica, you said, "Never again." After Gaza you said nothing at all. Today, you can no longer rest on your hollow rhetoric celebrating freedom and equality. Today as Syrians, watching you glibly condemn a catastrophe that is partly of your own making, we ask if you feel any shame at all for your inaction.

    From Farouk Mardam-Bey on Pulse Media:

    As a Syrian who has always identified politically with the left, I am particularly appalled by those men and women who call themselves left-wingers—and are therefore supposed to stand in solidarity with struggles for justice worldwide—and yet openly support the regime of the Assads, father and son, who are chiefly responsible for the Syrian disaster.

    Following four months of intense bombardment by the Russian air force, Bashar Al-Assad’s army, along with Shiite militias hailing from everywhere and mobilized by the Iranian mullahs, have now finished ‘liberating’ Eastern Aleppo. Liberated from whom? From its inhabitants. More than 250,000 inhabitants were forced to flee their own city to escape massacres, as had the people of Zabadani and Daraya before them, and as will many more Syrians if systematic social and sectarian ‘cleansing’ continues in their country under the cover of a massive media disinformation campaign.

  2. New Yorkers stand with Aleppo

    On Dec. 21, as pro-regime forces were carrying out their conquest of Aleppo and horrific war crimes were reported in the city, a Stand With Aleppo rally was held in New York. Some 100 marched from the United Nations to Times Square, where a live statement was aired from Aleppo activist Lina Shamy, who had just been evacuated to Idlib. The rally concluded with a silent vigil for the slain, pictured below. CounterVortex editor Bill Weinberg kneeling center with denim jacket and baseball cap. Photo via Facebook.