Statement by Syrian Opposition Coalition and 70 armed rebel factions on Russian aggression, Assad and “international community”
* Russian imperial aggression unites the Syrian opposition
Comment: The “icing on the cake”, if we can possibly use such language to describe Russia’s devastating aerial bombing of the Free Syrian Army and Syrian civilian population, is this tendency to unite the broad Syrian opposition, armed and unarmed, as Assad’s genocidal counterrevolutionary war morphs into a colonial war. Below is a statement by the Syrian Opposition Coalition and 70 armed rebel formations on the ground, a great many of which are not affiliated to the Coalition. The main points are:
* condemnation of Russia’s aggression
* rejection of any role for tyrant Assad, including in any “transitional” role as has been recently flagged by most imperialist leaders
* rejection of a recent UN initiative to form working groups to hammer out ceasefires etc – there is obviously no basis for such discussion now
* confirmation that they all ultimately support a “political solution” based on achieving the goals of the revolution, but such a political solution “must ensure that the current regime is not reproduced”, ie, a rejection of the western-backed “Yemeni solution” of an Assadist regime with Assad
* at the same time though, they “emphasize the need to preserve state institutions and prevent their disintegration”
* The “Syrian people have completely lost confidence in international community”
* Assad is responsible for the rise of ISIS and continues to collaborate with it
Before reproducing the full statement below, here are a number of other statements by revolutionary forces in Syria over the last few days, indicating the depth of resistance to this new colonial war and to western imperialist attempts to make them accept a “transitional” Assad.
For those on the left currently talking muddle-headedly, if with good intentions, about the need for all global and regional powers to “negotiate in good faith” etc – as if that hasn’t been going for years already – and imagining this to be an anti-imperialist critique, let me just explain why you have this wrong, in fact, on its head.
It is the western powers trying to bludgeon the Syrian resistance into accepting either a “transitional” Assad regime or an “Assad regime without Assad.” As can be seen here, it is the entirety of the Syrian revolution that rejects this. And of course there is another side that rejects any “negotiations in good faith” – the Assad regime, which just invited in Russia to bomb its country even more than it has done already! During the last major imperialist-sponsored negotiations, in Geneva in January 2014, only half the Syrian uprising even agreed to the imperialist demand that they turn up to negotiate with Assad; the rest furiously rejected this idea. Yet after the conference, Assad declared that all the rebel formations and individuals that *had* turned up to negotiate with him were on his “terrorist” list!
So what do all these good western-based anti-imperialist do, when two Syrian sides reject the good advice of most or all non-Syrian powers, and of themselves? How do you get the imperialists to force them together if they don’t want to be? And let’s say they do. And so there is some agreement hammered together by the various imperialists and leaders of both sides in Syria. OK, and then what happens when one or both sides in Syria violate the agreement? Do you get the US, Russia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, France etc to act as an occupation force to forcibly prevent either side from violating the fruits of these negotiations?
It is up to the Syrian people, not global and regional powers and “anti-imperialists”. Here are some other important statements:
- The Local Coordination Committees of Syria (LCCSy, the nationwide network of the ongoing civil uprising) “calls upon all revolutionary forces and factions to unite by any means and respond to the Russian aggression. Long live our Revolution for a free and democratic Syria” https://www.facebook.com/LCCSy/posts/1238711152822685?fref=nf
- The FSA Southern Front (consisting of 54 brigades and 35,000 fighters in the south of Syria, united around a democratic, secular program): “From a Revolution to a war of liberation” against Russian occupation: https://yallasouriya.wordpress.com/2015/10/02/syria-fsa-southern-front-from-a-revoluton-to-a-war-of-liberation/
- Al-Sham Front, consisting of 12 rebel brigades in Hama, where Russia is hitting hard, “condemns and deplores the Russian direct military aggression on Syrian territory, and we consider it a declaration of war against the Syrian people” http://en.eldorar.com/node/205
- Homs Liberation Movement – some 100 FSA officers in Homs declare “that we have put all our strengths, means and expertise at the disposal of a unified operations room to confront the Russian and Iranian occupation and to clean Syria up from the abomination of criminal Bashar and his cronies” http://homs-l-m.com
- FSA founder colonel Riad Al-As’ad called for “the unification of ranks in order to face Iranian and Russian invasions of our country” and for “the general full mobilization for the opening of all the fronts, north and south, east and west, in in order not to allow the invaders and Assad gangs to rest, ever.”
- The Syrian Muslim Brotherhood, somewhat more perceptive than significant parts of the western left, accuses US of being complicit in Putin’s bombing campaign: https://twitter.com/IkhwanSyria/status/649942470420267008
- Syrian Coalition statement September 27: “We Revolted For Freedom and Dignity, and We Will Still Say “No” To Assad and His Gang”. Regarding western attempts to bludgeon them into accepting a “transitional” Assad, the statement continues “it is greatly astonishing how aggression and tyranny are regarded as pillars for this solution, and we condemn the ongoing attempts to re-market the murderous Assad regime and its head” http://en.etilaf.org/press/we-revolted-for-freedom-and-dignity-and-we-will-still-say-no-to-assad-and-his-gang.html
- Syrian Coalition statement September 30: “Russian Airstrikes Are a Bold Aggression, Fuel Terror and Undermine a Political Solution: http://en.etilaf.org/press/russian-airstrikes-are-a-bold-aggression-fuel-terror-and-undermine-a-political-solution.html
Joint Statement on the Latest Developments and Implications of the Political Process in Syria
On Friday, 70 rebel factions and the Syrian National Coalition, in an emergency meeting following the start of Russian airstrikes, decided to end cooperation with UN envoy Staffan de Mistura’s initiative for “work groups” to study a resolution of the 4 1/2-year conflict.
The full statement:
Political offices of the undersigned rebel factions and the Syrian Coalition’s Political Committee held a meeting and thoroughly studied the proposals put forward by the UN envoy Staffan de Mistura, namely the “work groups” initiative. After in-depth reviewing of the regional and international reality engulfing the Syrian arena as well as recent sensitive developments with profound field and political influence — and out of our concern for the possibility of launching a new failed political process costing Syrians even more thousands of lives and more destruction to the remnants of the country’s infrastructure — we affirm the following points:
First: Participants in the meeting emphasize their commitment to reaching a political solution to achieve the goals of the revolution, preserve the identity of the Syrian people and end their suffering. This political process however must ensure that the current regime is not reproduced or that its head and pillars, whose hands are stained with the blood of Syrians, are given any role in the transitional political process or in Syria’s future.
Second: While forces of the revolution and the opposition have always dealt fully positively with the UN envoy despite the absence of any practical results on the ground, they emphasize they will continue to positively deal with the United Nations in order to achieve the interests of the Syrian people.
Third: The Syrian people have completely lost confidence in the ability of the international community to support their cause after five years of regime crimes committed against them with Iranian military support, Russian political coverage, and a legitimacy that the international community still insists on providing to the murderous regime. The current popular outrage must be taken into account in any political process which must be preceded by real steps to win the confidence of the Syrian people. The most important of these steps is to explicitly declare that the head of the regime and its pillars cannot be given any role to play in the political process.
Fourth: Bashar al-Assad has no place in any political process depending on the following legal and practical reasons:
*Bashar al-Assad inherited power in an entirely illegal way.
*Bashar al-Assad became a war criminal the moment he began killing Syrians who peacefully demanded their rights. He used illegal chemical weapons against innocent civilians. These crimes have been documented by neutral international organizations to prevent any doubt in the matter.
*Bashar al-Assad and his regime have shown utmost reluctance to engage in any political process, have not abided by any declared truces, and have shown non-cooperation with the international community purely with humanitarian issues. All of this has left him with no credibility or confidence.
*While Bashar al-Assad and his regime have failed in their alleged war against ISIS [the Islamic State] or to achieve any intellectual or field victory against this extremist organization, there is compelling evidence on full coordination between the two sides and the role Assad’s regime plays in the emergence of ISIS.
*Bashar al-Assad has opened the doors of Syria to foreign militias who commit the worst sectarian massacres at the same time as fueling sectarian rhetoric, which deprives him of any eligibility to participate in any political process that aims to unite the country.
*Finally, Bashar al-Assad has handed over Syria to Iranian and Russian invaders, thus committing an unforgivable act of betrayal to the country’s history, its future and dignity.
Fifth: We consider that dissolving the security agencies and the restructuring of the military institution directly responsible for killing Syrians an essential item for any political solution. This beleaguered and crumbling military institution has turned into sectarian militias led by Iran. It cannot therefore form the nucleus of a national army, nor can it be trusted by the Syrian people to restore security and stability to the country.
Sixth: The formation of a transitional governing body is a process of full transfer of power in which Bashar al-Assad and pillars of his regime have no place. We emphasize the need to preserve state institutions and prevent their disintegration as they belong to the Syrian people, and to prevent the country from sliding into more chaos.
*Seventh: We consider that proposing the “work groups” initiative ignores the majority of the relevant United Nations resolutions on Syria, particularly resolutions 2118, 2165 and 2139. This initiative is in fact a complicated political process that requires confidence-building between the Syrian people on the one hand and the party that will sponsor the political process, namely the United Nations. Confidence-building can only be achieved through the implementation of the above-mentioned UN resolutions that the Syrian regime has so far disabled them.
*Eighth: We consider that the “work groups” initiative in its current form and its unclear mechanisms provides the perfect environment to reproduce the regime. These “work groups” must instead be based on clear principles regarding standards for selecting the participants in these groups and the final vision for the solution.
Ninth: We condemn Russia’s direct military escalation in Syria and consider the Syrian regime fully responsible as it has turned Syria into a hotbed for foreign intervention. The silence of the international community also bears responsibility for this escalation and represents a point of no return in the relationship between the Syrian people and Russia. This escalation clearly shows that Russia is not serious or sincere in its commitment to the political process, and that it has never been a honest mediator but a party to the conflict and a key ally of the criminal regime.
Tenth: While forces of the revolution and its institutions reaffirm commitment to our people, we vow to exert the utmost efforts to close ranks and correct previous mistakes. We also vow that the revolution will remain faithful to its principles and the blood of its fallen heroes, and that we will strike a balance between achieving our objectives and safeguarding our fundamental principles. We also pledge to alleviate the suffering of our people, expedite victory and to dedicate our political and military capabilities for this purpose.
Accordingly, the “work groups” initiative in its current form is unacceptable neither practically nor legally process unless the above-mentioned points are taken into consideration and the ambiguities shaping the mechanisms of this initiative are resolved.
Ahrar al-Sham Movement
Islamic Union of Ajnad al-Sham
The Levant Front
Fastaqim Kama Umert Conglomeration
Noureddine Zanki Movement
Homs Liberation Movement
The South’s 1st Army
The 1st Corps
Al-Tawhid Army – Homs
The Tribes Army
Amoud Horan Division
The Tribes Corps
Tahrir al-Sham Division
The Central Division
Division 16 Infantry
Sultan Murad Aldin Division
The 1st Coastal Division
Fajr al-Tawhid Division
Division 24 Infantry
Shabab al-Sunnah Division
Ossoud al-Sunnah Division
Fallujat Horan Division
March 18 Division
The 69th Davison- Special Tasks
Ahrar Nawa Division
Khaiyalet al-Zaidi Division
Shuhadaa’ al-Hirak Division
Al- Sham Unified Front
Al-Asala wal Tanmiya Front
Ansar al-Islam Front
Al-Inqath Fighting Front
Suqur Jabal al-Zawiya Brigade
Fursan al-Haqq Brigade
Farouk al-Janoub Brigade
Shuhadaa’ al-Islam Brigade
Ahbab Omar Brigade
Ahfad al-Rassoul Brigade
Jisr Houran Brigade
Tawhid Kataeb Houran
Al-Muhajirin wal Ansar Brigade
Youssef al-Azmah Brigade
Omar al-Mukhtar Brigade
Shabab al-Huda Brigade
Al-Sahel 10th Brigade
Suqur al-Ghab Brigades
Al-Omari Brigades Conglomerate
Izraa’ Brigades Conglomerate
The 1st Regiment
The Artillery Regiment
The FSA Brigades in Hasaka