The Syrian Revolution: A Marxist account

Mahmoud El-Wardani, Wednesday 27 Aug 2014

Salameh Kaileh provides a Marxist account of the Syrian revolution, arguing that international interests have undermined the people's struggle

Book Cover
Thawra Haqeeqia(A Real Revolution … A Marxist Perspective of the Syrian Revolution) by Salameh Kaileh

Thawra Haqeeqia… Manzoor Markisi lil Thawra Al-Surryiah (A Real Revolution: A Marxist Perspective of the Syrian Revolution) by Salameh Kaileh, Dar Noon Publishing, Ras Al-Khaimah, Emirates, 2014. pp.191

Salameh Kaileh, the author of A Real Revolution, concludes that the international situation constitutes a burden on the Syrian revolution. He adds that hope rests on people "who have to show their support and defend this great revolution through the boldness of youth and the sacrifice of the martyrs."

Fearing that the revolution will extend to their borders, the Arab Gulf states, for instance, aimed at thwarting it. Consequently, they backed the Syrian regime financially during the first six months following the outbreak of the revolution. When those states felt that the Syrian regime was unable to be decisive, it went on to finance what is known as the fundamentalist "Mujahedeen." Of course, this policy will lead to transforming the people's conflict against those in power with the aim of overthrowing them into a sectarian confrontation that will destroy Syria and disintegrate its society. In this course of action, the Gulf regimes sent hundreds of Salafists to Syria and exerted pressures on Jordan and Turkey to let them pass through their land. This warns of the transformation of the current conflict into a conflict between Sunni and Alawites, in the same vein as what is happening in Iraq where the conflict became between Sunni and Shia.

The aforementioned are some of the ideas which Salameh Kaileh examines from a Marxist perspective. The revolution, which has entered its third year, if we consider that 15 March 2011 was the first spark of the revolution and three days later, on 18 March the regime confronted the demonstrators with live bullets.

On another perspective, the economic and political circumstances and developments of the Syrian revolution are similar to that of Tunisia, Egypt and Yemen, and to a lesser degree that of Libya. Although Syria was long overdue, it eventually walked through the same path.

In all those countries that witnessed revolutions, the political authorities were authoritarian and totalitarian, imposing its tight grip over the entire society through rude and harsh security intervention and full control of syndicates and associations. In Syria, the death of Hafez Al-Assad, who made his son Bashar inherit the rule of the country, allowed a partial transformation. This was demonstrated in the emergence of an outlet that was called the "Damascus Spring," but it was soon discovered that the authoritarian nature still existed and continued.

Syria was also the last country in which the economic situation was resolved in favour of privatisation, the imposition of an open-door policy and predominance of new businessmen, especially groups and families closely attached to those in power.

The author identifies a few families that deal with Al-Assad and are closely attached to him after he reconfigured the economy to be a rentier economy relying on services, real estate, tourism, exports and banking. At the same time, the production economy was marginalised. This in its turn led to an increase in unemployment rates and the impoverishment of millions, and correspondingly wealth was concentrated in the hands of the aforementioned families.

During the last ten years, general social problems grew. However, the three years preceding the revolution were the most decisive.

When the revolution broke out, there were two factors behind it. First, the objective circumstances in which the problems accumulated and the second was the eruption of revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt. The Syrian revolution is similar to those in Tunisia and Egypt, because its expansion was spontaneous and without a leadership. When the Syrian Revolution General Commission was formed it was discovered that it was affiliated to Muslim Brotherhood, so many members withdrew. Afterwards, the Syrian National Council was set up also under the pressure of the Brotherhood, accompanied by "a group of academics," according to the author.

Salameh Kaileh adds that with the occupation of Tripoli in September 2012, it seemed that the Libyan option, which was based mainly on international intervention, had been successful. Hence, the opposition living abroad was able to pass policies calling for importing arms and foreign intervention. Moreover, the bloody violence which was unleashed by the Assad regime led to the transformation of demonstrators into armed strugglers. Of course, the Assad regime benefitted immensely from this to assert that the demonstrators were fundamentalist terrorists.

In spite of this, the second year of the revolution witnessed the emergence of two main variables. The first is that the revolution covered all Syrian lands except the country's coastline. The reason for the withdrawal was mounting discontent within some regiments with the savageness of the army's strategy.  

As for the second variable, the appearance of the Nusra Front in the areas from which the regime troops withdrew. It is the organisation that was formed by leading Al-Qaeda elements who were detained by the Assad regime and released in April 2012, as well as groups from Al-Qaeda who infiltrated Syria through Iraq and other groups of Mujahedeen financed by Arab Gulf countries which exerted pressure over Turkey to let them go through its lands. In this context, ISIS can be added, but it did not come into being when the author wrote his analysis.

Salameh Kaileh also tackles the international situation which is very influential on the Syrian revolution, where he analyses the role of the Russians and its limits in the context of making new alliances after the fall of the Soviet Union and its satellite states. These alliances included China and Russia, for instance, confronting other alliances that include the USA and some European states. He also discusses the challenges that the Syrian revolution faces, the weakness of those in power, the reasons for the delayed success of the revolution.

Finally, the author asserts that the revolution will succeed in the end because the Assad regime has reached an unprecedented degree of weakness and disintegration. However, a new strategy must be adopted that is based on the inevitability of the revolution's victory, relying on the people and the strengthening of armed action provided it is unified along with forming a military political leadership of the revolution. It is important to make it clear that the main objective of the revolution is to build a secular democratic state in order to fulfill the demands of the poor and the marginalised.

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