Erasing People through Disinformation: Syria and the “Anti-Imperialism” of Fools

JVL Introduction

This indignant cry for recognition of the Syrian people voiced by exiled Syrian academics, writers, and activists in the letter posted below raises a fundamental issue which we cannot ignore.

Not only in Syria, but in the case of several other terrible conflicts, certain self-styled “anti-imperialists” prefer either to avert their gaze, or, worse, airily to dismiss as propaganda well-documented crimes against humanity, simply because the perpetrators are not supported by the US.

This kind of lazy Manichean thinking, a brain fog which would divide the world’s régimes into “imperialist” and “anti-imperialist”, is utterly toxic, in effect denying whole peoples any agency in their own struggles for liberation.

Of course the US will use, abuse and distort the evidence of such crimes to suit its need to justify its own imperial wars, just as for almost a century western elites exploited the reality of Stalin’s gulags to justify every imperial atrocity and to besmirch the very idea of socialism.

None of that makes such crimes any the less real, nor can we ever justify withholding our solidarity from the oppressed.

GW

This article was originally published by New Politics on Sat 27 Mar 2021. Read the original here.

Erasing People through Disinformation: Syria and the “Anti-Imperialism” of Fools

Disreputable writers and outlets, often operating under the aegis of “independent journalism” with purportedly “leftwing” views, are spreading corrosive propaganda and disinformation that aims to strip Syrians of political agency

[The following Open Letter was a collaborative effort of a group of Syrian writers and intellectuals and others who stand in solidarity with them. It is signed by activists, writers, artists, and academics from Syria and more than forty other countries in Africa, Asia, Europe, the Middle East, North America, Oceania, and South America, and appears in multiple languages: English, Arabic, French, Spanish, Greek, Italian, Russian, and Portuguese.]

Since the beginning of the Syrian uprising ten years ago, and especially since Russia intervened in Syria on behalf of Bashar al-Assad, there has been a curious and malign development: the emergence of pro-Assad allegiances in the name of “anti-imperialism” among some who otherwise generally identify as progressive or “left,” and the consequent spread of manipulative disinformation that routinely deflects attention away from the well-documented abuses of Assad and his allies. Portraying themselves as “opponents” of imperialism, they routinely exhibit a highly selective attention to matters of “intervention” and human rights violations that often aligns with the governments of Russia and China; those who disagree with their highly-policed views are frequently (and falsely) branded as “regime change enthusiasts” or dupes of western political interests.

The divisive and sectarianizing role played by this group is unmistakable: in their simplistic view, all pro-democracy and pro-dignity movements that go against Russian or Chinese state interests are routinely portrayed as the top-down work of Western interference: none are autochthonous, none are of a piece with decades of independent domestic struggle against brutal dictatorship (as in Syria), and none truly represent the desires of people demanding the right to lives of dignity rather than oppression and abuse. What unites them is a refusal to contend with the crimes of the Assad regime, or even to acknowledge that a brutally repressed popular uprising against Assad took place.

These writers and outlets have mushroomed in recent years, and have often positioned Syria at the forefront of their criticisms of imperialism and interventionism, which they characteristically restrict to the west; Russian and Iranian involvement is generally ignored. In doing so, they have sought to align themselves with a long and venerable tradition of internal domestic opposition to the abuses of imperial power abroad, not only but quite often issuing from the left.

But they do not rightfully belong in that company. No one who explicitly or implicitly aligns themselves with the malignant Assad government does. No one who selectively and opportunistically deploys charges of “imperialism” for reasons of their particular version of “left” politics rather than opposing it consistently in principle across the globe — thereby acknowledging the imperialist interventionism of Russia, Iran, and China — does.

Often under the guise of practicing “independent journalism,” these various writers and outlets have functioned as chief sources of misinformation and propaganda about the ongoing global disaster that Syria has become. Their reactionary, inverted Realpolitik is as fixated on top-down, anti-democratic “power politics” as that of Henry Kissinger or Samuel Huntington, just with the valence reversed. But this maddeningly oversimplifying rhetorical move (“flipping the script” as one of them once put it), as appealing as it might be to those eager to identify who the “good guys” and “bad guys” are at any given place on the planet, is really an instrument of tailored flattery for their audiences about the “true workings of power” that serves to reinforce a dysfunctional status quo and impede the development of a truly progressive and international approach to global politics, one that we so desperately need, given the planetary challenges of responding to global warming.

The evidence that US power has itself been appallingly destructive, especially during the Cold War, is overwhelming: all across the globe, from Vietnam to Indonesia to Iran to Congo to South and Central America and beyond, the record of massive human rights abuses accumulated in the name of fighting Communism is clear. And in the post-Cold War period of the so-called “War on Terror,” American interventions in Afghanistan and Iraq have done nothing to suggest a fundamental national change of heart.

But, America is not central to what has happened in Syria, despite what these people claim. The idea that it somehow is, all evidence to the contrary notwithstanding, is a by-product of a provincial political culture which insists on both the centrality of US power globally as well as the imperialist right to identify who the “good guys” and the “bad guys” are in any given context.

The ideological alignment of rightwing admirers of Assad with this kind of authoritarian-friendly “leftism” is symptomatic of this, and indicates that the very real and very serious problem lies elsewhere: what to do when a people is as abused by their government as the Syrian people have been, held captive by those who think nothing of torturing, disappearing, and murdering people for even the slightest hint of political opposition to their authority? As many countries move closer and closer to authoritarianism and away from democracy, this seems to us a profoundly urgent political question to which there is yet no answer; and because there is no answer, all across the globe there is growing impunity on the part of the powerful, and growing vulnerability for the powerless.

About this, these “anti-imperialists” have no helpful words. About the profound political violence visited upon the Syrian people by the Assads, the Iranians, the Russians? No words. Forgive us for pointing out that such erasure of Syrian lives and experiences embodies the very essence of imperialist (and racist) privilege. These writers and bloggers have shown no awareness of the Syrians, including signatories to this letter, who risked their lives opposing the regime, who have been incarcerated in the Assads’ torture prisons (some for many years), lost loved ones, had friends and family forcibly disappeared, fled their country – even though many Syrians have been writing and speaking about these experiences for many years.

Collectively, Syrian experiences from the Revolution to the present pose a fundamental challenge to the world as it appears to these people. Syrians who directly opposed the Assad regime, often at great cost, did not do so because of some Western imperialist plot, but because decades of abuse, brutality, and corruption were and remain intolerable. To insist otherwise, and support Assad, is to attempt to strip Syrians of all political agency and endorse the Assads’ longstanding policy of domestic politicide, which has deprived Syrians of any meaningful say in their government and circumstances.

We Syrians and supporters of the Syrian people’s struggle for democracy and human rights take these attempts to “disappear” Syrians from the world of politics, solidarity, and partnership as quite consistent with the character of the regimes these people so evidently admire. This is the “anti-imperialism” and “leftism” of the unprincipled, of the lazy, and of fools, and only reinforces the dysfunctional international gridlock exhibited in the UN Security Council. We hope that readers of this piece will join us in opposing it.

[The list below was updated 1 April 2021.
To add your signature, send name, affiliation (for ID purposes only), country, and whether you are Syrian, under the subject line “Add Name,” here.]

Syrians
Ahmad Aisha, journalist and translator (Turkey)
Ali Akil, Founder & Spokesperson, Syrian Solidarity New Zealand (Aotearoa/New Zealand)
Amina Masri, Activist/Educator (USA)
Asmae Dachan, Syrian-Italian Journalist (Italy)
Ayaat Yassin-Kassab, Student, University of Oxford (UK)
Aziz Al-Azmeh, University Professor Emeritus, Central European University (Austria)
Bakr Sidki, translator and columnist (Turkey)
Banah el Ghadbanah, University of California, San Diego (USA)
Bisher Ghazal-Aswad, Doctor, NHS (UK)
Bushra A., Syria Solidarity New York City (USA)
Dellair Yousef, writer and director, Berlin (Germany)
Dr. Mohammed Zaher Sahloul, President, MedGlobal & Founder, American Relief Coalition for Syria (USA)
Faraj Bayrakdar, poet (Sweden)
Farouk Mardam-Bey, publisher and writer, Paris (France)
Fouad M. Fouad, Professor, American University of Beirut (Lebanon)
Fouad Roueiha, Activist (Italy)
Ghayath Almadhoun, poet (Germany)
Haian Dukhan, Associate Research Fellow, Centre for Syrian Studies, University of St. Andrews (UK)
Haid Haid, Senior Research Fellow, Chatham House (UK)
Hala Alabdalla, Filmmaker (France)
Hassan Nifi, writer (Turkey)
Irène Labeyrie Chaya, Architect & Former Teacher at the Faculty of Architecture, University of Qalamun, Deir Atiya, Syria
Joseph Daher, Syrian/Swiss Academic, University of Lausanne/European University Institute (Switzerland)
Karam Shaar, Senior Analyst, New Zealand Treasury (New Zealand)
Karim Al-Afnan, Journalist (UK)
Lara el Kateb, Member of the Alliance of Middle Eastern and North African Socialists
Leila Al-Shami, Writer/Activist (Scotland)
Lubayed Aljundi, PhD Candidate, SOAS, University of London (UK)
Mahmoud el Wahb, writer (Turkey)
Marcelle Shehwaro, New York NY (USA)
Marcus Halaby, British-Syrian Writer and Labour Party Member (UK)
Marwa Daoudy, Associate Professor, Georgetown University (USA)
Mayson Almisri, Syria Civil Defence – White Helmets, co-winner of the Gandhi Peace Award 2021 (Canada)
Miream Salameh, Syrian Artist (Australia)
Mohamed Al Rashi, Actor (France)
Mohamed Samawi, Homs, PR
Mohamed T. Khairullah, Mayor, Borough of Prospect Park, New Jersey (USA)
Mohammad Al Attar, Writer, Playwright, Berlin (Germany)
Mohja Kahf, Professor (USA)
Najwa Affash, President of the Hani Association, Paris (France)
Nidal Betare, Journalist (USA)
Nisrine Al Zahre, academic and writer (France)
Noor Ghazal Aswad, Doctoral Candidate, University of Memphis (USA)
Odai Al Zoubi, Writer (Sweden)
Omar Qaddour, novelist and journalist (France)
Orwa Khalifa, writer (Turkey)
Osama Alomar, Writer (USA)
Rahaf Aldoughli, Lecturer in Middle East and North Africa Studies, Lancaster University (UK)
Ramzi Choukair, Actor and Director, Kawalisse Theatre Company (France)
Sadek Abd Alrahman, writer (Turkey)
Salam Abbara, Doctor and Activist, Paris (France)
Salam Said, Academic (Germany)
Saleem Albeik, Writer/Journalist, Palestinian/Syrian (France)
Samar Yazbek, novelist (France)
Sami Haddad, Activist (Italy)
Taha Bali, physician and writer (USA)
Touhama Ma’roof, dentist (Turkey)
Victorios Bayan Shams, Journalist (Brazil)
Wael Khouli, Physician Executive – B E Smith, Michigan (USA)
Yasmine Merei, Writer & Journalist and Head of Women for Common Space, Berlin (Germany)
Yasser Khanger, Poet from the occupied Golan
Yasser Munif, Emerson College (USA)
Yassin al-Haj Saleh, Writer, Former Political Prisoner (Germany)
Yazan Badran, PhD student, Vrije Universiteit and SyriaUntold (Belgium)

Others
A Hak (UK)
Abdelrahman Elbanna, Lyndhurst, NJ (USA)
Abdullsh Hayed, Paris (France)
Abdul-Wahab Kayyali, Researcher, Princeton University (Canada)
abraham Weizfeld PhD, Direct Democracy Movement
Adam Sabra, Professor of History, University of California, Santa Barbara (USA)
Adam Shatz, Writer, Brooklyn (USA)
Aditya Sarkar, University of Warwick (UK)
Adnan Salim, Idoo Madrid (Spain)
Ahlam Zeineddine, Beirut (Lebanon)
Ahmad Matar, chef (Palestinian, Germany)
Ahmed Sakkal, Baltimore, MD (USA)
Aidan Geboers, Financial Professional (UK)
Akram Aboud, Riyadh (Saudi Arabia)
Al Hammood, Centreville, VA (USA)
Alan Wald, H. Chandler Davis Collegiate Professor Emeritus, University of Michigan (USA)
Aldo Cordeiro Sauda, Editora Contrabando, São Paulo (Brazil)
Alessandra Mezzadri, Senior Lecturer, SOAS, University of London (UK)
Alex De Jong, Co-Director, International Institute for Research and Education (Netherlands)
Alex Johnson, Syria Solidarity Australia (Australia)
Ali Bakeer, Senior Researcher, Ibn Khaldun Center (Turkey)
Ali Fathollah-Nejad, Freie Universität Berlin (Germany)
Ali Moravej, Manchester, CT (USA)
Ali Samadi Ahadi, Filmmaker (Germany)
Aliaa Tabbaa,, Hellin ((Spain)
Alicia Fdez Gómez, Oviedo (Spain)
Al-Sheik Hussein, Helsinki (Finland)
Amahl Bishara, Tufts University (USA)
Amal Mouhamad, Berlin (Germany)
Amal Sakkal, Charleston, WV (USA)
Amina A., Syria Solidarity New York City (USA)
Ammar Al-Ghabban, Independent educator (UK)
Anahita Razmi, Visual Artist (Germany)
Andrea Love, Educator (USA)
Andrew Berman, Committee in Solidarity with the People of Syria — CISPOS (USA)
Andy Heintz, Ames, IA (USA)
Ani White, Melbourne (Australia)
Anis Mansouri, Special Education Teacher & Coordinator, Tunisian Internationalists in Switzerland (Switzerland)
Anja Matar, travel agent (Germany)
Ann Eveleth, Anti-War Activist, Washington DC (USA)
Ann Morgen, Dundas (Canada)
Anna Alboth, Civil March For Aleppo (Germany/Poland)
Anna Ferris, Philadelphia, PA (USA)
Anna Sailer, University of Goettingen (Germany)
Anne-Kathryn Bathe, Berlin (Germany)
Ansar Jasim, political researcher, Berlin (Germany)
Anthony Ratcliff, California State University, Los Angeles (USA)
Anya Briy, PhD student, Binghamton University (USA)
Arash Azizi, PhD Candidate, New York University (USA)
Arianna Parisato (Italy)
Ariel Dorfman, Writer & former advisor to the government of Salvador Allende (Chile/USA)
Art Young, solidarity activist (Canada)
Ashley Smith, Member of DSA and the Tempest Collective (USA)
Athena Moss, Journalist (Greece)
Au Loong-Yu, global justice and labour campaigner (Hong Kong)
Austin G Mackell (Australia)
Barbara Blaudzun, MA Student, Humboldt University of Berlin (Germany)
Barbara Epstein, Professor Emerita, University of California, Santa Cruz (USA)
Basem Kan, Göteborg (Sweden)
Bashir Abu-Manneh, Reader, University of Kent (UK)
Becky Carroll, Co-Founder, Stand With Aleppo Campaign (USA)
Ben Manski, Assistant Professor of Sociology, George Mason University (USA)
Bernard Dreano, Activist (France)
Bilal Ansari, Faculty Associate & Director of the Islamic Chaplaincy Program, Hartford Seminary (USA)
Bill Fletcher, Jr., Past President of the TransAfrica Forum (USA)
Bill Weinberg, Journalist and Author (USA)
Birgitte Jensen, Vejle (Denmark)
Boris Thiolay Paris (France)
Brett Ogaard, Seattle, WA (USA)
brian bean, organizer/journalist, Rampant Magazine, Tempest Socialist Collective (USA)
Brigitte Herremans, Gentbrugge (Belgium)
Camila Pastor, Research Professor, History Dept., Center for Research and Teaching in Economics (Mexico)
Carol Akhras, Bridgeview, IL (USA)
Carol Murchie, Newport, RI (USA)
Caroline Gilbert, Retired HELP Center Counselor, University of Minnesota (USA)
Caterina Coppola, Activist (Italy)
Catherine Coquio (France)
Catherine Estrade, Singer (France)
Catherine Samary, Economist, Member of the Scientific Council of ATTAC (France)
Cedric Beidatsch, Retired Cook (Australia)
Charles Post, Brooklyn, NY (USA)
Charles-André Udry, Economist, Editor, alencontre.org (Switzerland)
Cheryl Zuur, former President, AFSCME Local 444 (USA)
Chris Keulemans, writer and journalist (Netherlands)
Christian Dandrès, Member of Parliament (Conseil National) (Switzerland)
Christian Shaughnessy, Democratic Socialists of America, Inland Empire Chapter (USA)
Christian Varin, Civil Servant & Member of the International Commission of the Nouveau Parti Anticapitaliste (France)
Christin Lüttich, Expert on Syria, German–Syrian Solidarity Initiative “Adopt a Revolution” (Germany)
Christoph Reuter, journalist and author, Berlin (Germany)
Claire Nolan, Dublin (Ireland)
Claude Marill, Retired Educator & Trade Unionist, Syndicat National des personnels de l’éducation et du social (France)
Claude Szatan, activist (France)
Colette Morrow, Professor of English, Purdue University Northwest (USA)
Colleen Keyes, Adjunct Faculty, Hartford Seminary (USA)
Cory Strachan, Manistee, MI (USA)
Craig Larkin, Senior Lecturer, King’s College London (UK)
Cristèle Jonnart, Ohain (Belgium)
Cristina Cardeño, Mexico City (Mexico)
Dan Buckley, International Marxist-Humanist Organization (USA)
Dan Cahill, Local Union 18, IUPAT, New Jersey (USA)
Dan La Botz, New Politics Journal (USA)
Dana Mohseni, Göteborg (Sweden)
Daniel Fischer, Food Not Bombs (USA)
Daniel Ford, Denver, CO (USA)
Daniela Vitkova, Sofia (Bulgaria)
Danny Postel, Writer, Member, Internationalism from Below (USA)
Dario Lopreno, Geographer (Switzerland)
Darren Fenwick, Silver Spring MD (USA)
David Bedggood, Syria Solidarity Discussion and Strategy Group (Aotearoa/New Zealand)
David Brophy, Senior Lecturer in History, University of Sydney (Australia)
David L. William, Peregrine Forum of Wisconsin (USA)
David McNally, Cullen Distinguished Professor of History, University of Houston (USA)
David N. Smith, Professor of Sociology, University of Kansas (USA)
David Turpin, Anti-War Activist (USA)
David Wearing, Senior Teaching Fellow, SOAS, University of London (UK)
David Westman, Communist Voice Organization, USA
Diane Michellini, Dallas, TX (USA)
Dilip Simeon, Teacher (India)
Dina Matar, Reader, SOAS, University of London (UK)
Donya Alinejad, Lecturer & Postdoctoral Researcher, Universities of Amsterdam & Utrecht (Netherlands)
Dora Manna, Activist (Italy)
Dr. Amr al-Azam, Professor of Middle East History and Anthropology, Shawnee State University (USA)
Dr. Ibrahim Chahoud, Berlin (Germany)
Dylan Terpstra, Randolph, NJ (USA)
Ed Sutton, Media Activist and Mutual Aid Organizer (USA)
Edin Hajdarpasic, Associate Professor of History, Loyola University Chicago (USA)
Eileen Boyle, Dublin (Ireland)
Elena De Piccoli, Activist (Italy)
Eleni Varikas, Emerita Professor of Political Science, Université de Paris 8 (France)
Elias Khoury, novelist (Lebanon)
Elias Khoury, novelist (Lebanon)
Elizabeth Bard, Little Rock AR (USA)
Elizabeth Lalasz, Chicago, IL (USA)
Elsa Wiehe, Boston University (USA)
Emma Wilde Botta, New Politics Journal (USA)
Emran Feroz, Journalist (Germany)
Enrico De Angelis, independent researcher, Berlin (Germany)
Eric G., Seattle, WA (USA)
Eric Toussaint, Member of the International Council of the World Social Forum (Belgium)
Eugene Zaikonnikov, Nesttun (Norway)
Eylaf Bader Eddin, Philipps-Universität Marburg \ Post-doc (Germany)
Fabio Alberti, Rome (Italy)
Fabio Bosco, CSP-Conlutas (Brazil)
Farah Baba, Feminist activist (Lebanon)
Fatemeh Masjedi, Research Associate, Centre Marc Bloch, Berlin (Germany)
Fatma Alhaji, Helsingborg (Sweden)
Fazlur Rahmat (Indonesia)
Fiorella Sarti, Activist and Translator (Italy)
Firas Aljanadi Leeds (UK)
Firoze Manji, Publisher, Daraja Press (Canada)
Francesca Burns, New York, NY (USA)
Francesca Giura, Activist (Italy)
Francesca Scalinci, Translator and Writer (Italy)
Francis Sitel, Member of the National Animation Team of ENSEMBLE! (France)
Franco Casagrande (Italy)
Françoise Clement, Chatou ((France)
Frankie Hill, Self-Employed (New Zealand)
Frieda Afary, Producer of Iranian Progressives in Translation (USA)
Gabriel Huland, PhD candidate & teaching assistant, SOAS, University of London (UK)
Gail Vignola, South Orange NJ (USA)
Gaya Nagahawatta, Translator, (Sri Lanka)
Gennaro Gervasio, Associate Professor in History and Politics of the Middle East, Roma Tre University (Italy)
George De Stefano, Brooklyn NY (USA)
George Monbiot, Author, Journalist & Environmental Activist (UK)
Gerard Lauton, academic, member of association For a Free and Democratic Syria (France)
Ghaith Almahayni, Istanbul (Turkey)
Gilbert Achcar, Professor, SOAS, University of London (UK)
Gilberto Conde, Research Professor, El Colegio de México (Mexico)
Giovanna De Luca, Translator-Activist (Italy)
Golineh Atai, TV Journalist (Germany)
Graciela Monteagudo, University of Massachusetts Amherst (USA)
Grant Padgham, Ashford, England (UK)
Günther Orth, Translator (Germany)
Habib Nassar, activist/lawyer (Netherlands)
Hadrien Buclin, Academic & Deputy Ensemble à Gauche in the Parliament of the Governorate of Vaud (Switzerland)
Haideh Moghissi, Emerita Professor, York University (Canada)
Haley Wilson, Westerville, OH (USA)
Halimah El Azem, Berlin (Germany)
Hannu Reime, Helsinki (Finland)
Harald Etzbach, Journalist (Germany)
Harout Akdedian, Senior Fellow, Striking from the Margins Project, Central European University (USA)
Harsh Kapoor, Independent researcher and editor, (India/France)
Hassan KRAYEM, Amman (Jordan)
Hayfaa Tahan, Milton (Canada)
Hazar Tahan, Beirut (Lebanon)
Heather A. Brown, Associate Professor of Sociology, Westfield State University (USA)
Helen Lackner, Research Associate, SOAS, University of London (UK)
Helen Scott, Burlington, VT (USA)
Hilary Austin, Chicago, IL (USA)
Hilary Oxley, Palmerston North (New Zealand)
Hiroki Okazaki, University lecturer (Japan)
Howie Hawkins, 2020 Green Party Candidate for President (USA)
Huda Tahan, Beirut (Lebanon)
Hussam Alshabi, Dubai (UAE)
Idrees Ahmad, Lecturer in Digital Journalism, University of Stirling (UK)
Ikram Abdelfattah, Beirut (Lebanon)
Isabelle Peillen-Debs Beirut (Lebanon)
Ismail ElAchkar, Khobar, (Saudi Arabia)
Ivan Handler, Retired CIO from Illinois Medicaid & the Health Information Exchange (USA)
Izzat Darwazeh, Professor, University College London (UK)
Jack McGinn, London (UK)
jacob Miller Brampton (Canada)
Jacques Raillane, Paris (France)
Jaime Pastor, Professor of Political Science, Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia (Spain)
Jairus Banaji, SOAS, University of London (UK)
James Dickert, Retired Computer Engineer (USA)
James Hamill Leicester (UK)
James Mullally, Human Rights Activist, British Columbia (Canada)
James Smith, Dallas, TX (USA)
Jamie Mayerfeld, Professor of Political Science, University of Washington, Seattle (USA)
Jan Malewski, Editor, Inprecor (France)
Jane England, Writer (Aotearoa/New Zealand)
Janet Afary, Mellichamp Chair in Global Religion and Modernity, University of California, Santa Barbara (USA)
Janet Robin Bogle, Grandmother (Aotearoa/New Zealand)
Janette Corcelius, Lorton, VA (USA)
Janick Schaufelbuehl, Associate Professor, University of Lausanne (Switzerland)
Jason Schulman, Lehman College, City University of New York (USA)
Javier Sethness, Los Angeles CA (USA)
Jean Batou, Historian and Deputy in the Parliament of the Governorate of Geneva (Switzerland)
Jean-Michel Dolivo, Lawyer & Former Deputy, Ensemble à Gauche, Parliament of the Governorate of Vaud (Switzerland)
Jeff Weintraub, Bryn Mawr College, PA  (USA)
Jen MacLennan, Independent Media, Syria Solidarity Activist, London (UK)
Jens Hanssen, University of Toronto (Canada)
Jens Lerche, Reader, SOAS, University of London (UK)
Jens-Matin Rode, Berlin (Germany)
Jessy Nassar, PhD candidate, King’s College London (Lebanon)
Joachim Haberlen, University of Warwick, (UK)
Joan Connelly, Secretary, Retired USA
Joanne Roberts (Australia)
Joel Beinin, Professor of Middle East History, Emeritus, Stanford University (USA)
Joël Jovet, Paris (France)
Joey Ayoub, Assoc. Doctoral Researcher, Univ. of Zurich, founder of ‘The Fire These Times’, writer/journalist (Switzerland)
John A Imani (USA)
John Clarke, Packer Visitor in Social Justice, York University, Toronto (Canada)
John Dunn, former striking coal miner & branch committee member, National Miners Union, Darbyshire Branch (UK)
John Feffer, Director, Foreign Policy In Focus, Institute for Policy Studies (USA)
John Kahler, MD, FAAP (Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics) (USA)
John Reimann, former recording secretary, Carpenters Union Local 713, Editor, Oakland Socialist (USA)
John Treat, New York NY (USA)
Joseph Green, Communist Voice Organization (USA)
Josepha Ivanka (Joshka) Wessels, Senior Lecturer, Malmö University (Sweden)
Joshua Cohen, Editor, Boston Review; Distinguished Senior Fellow, UC Berkeley; faculty, Apple Univ. (USA)
Judith Deutsch, psychoanalyst, Toronto (Canada)
Julia Bar-Tal, farmer, Berlin (Germany)
Julien Salingue, Director of the newspaper and website l’Anticapitaliste, Nouveau Parti Anticapitaliste (France)
Juliette Harkin, Writer (UK)
Julnar Tahan, Halba north (Lebanon)
Kaori Hizume, TV producer, Tokyo (Japan)
kawabata erkin (Japan)
Kelly Grotke, PhD, writer, greater Boston (USA)
Ken Hiebert, Palestine Solidarity Activist (Canada)
Kevin B. Anderson, Professor of Sociology, University of California, Santa Barbara (USA)
Kevork Assadourian, Yerevan (Armenia)
Khaled Ghannam Warehouse Manager (Australia)
Khaled Mansour, writer (Egypt)
Khaled Saghieh, journalist and writer, Beirut (Lebanon)
Konstantin Rintelmann, PhD candidate, University of Edinburgh (UK)
L R, Bern (Switzerland)
Lauren Langman, Professor of Sociology, Loyola University of Chicago (USA)
Laurie King, Associate Professor of Teaching, Department of Anthropology, Georgetown University (USA)
Leah Wild, Cheltenham, England (UK)
Lee Wengraf, Queens, NY (USA)
Leonie O. Dowd, Dublin (Ireland)
Lilia Marsali, Paris (France)
Lisa Albrecht, Retired University of Minnesota Professor, Social Justice (USA)
Lisa Morton, Newton, NJ (USA)
Lisa Perrine (France)
Lisa Wedeen, Mary R. Morton Professor of Political Science and the College, University of Chicago (USA)
Lisbeth Gouin (France)
Livia Wick, Associate Professor, American University of Beirut (Lebanon)
Lois Weiner, Professor Emerita, New Jersey City University (USA)
Loretta Facchinetti Amman (Jordan)
Loretta Facchinetti, Activist (Italy)
Louay Ojjeh, Neuilly-sur-seine (France)
Lucia Sorbera, Sydney (Australia)
Luke Alexander, Leumeah (Australia)
Lydia Beattie, Committee in Solidarity with the People of Syria – CISPOS (USA)
Mahdi Ghodsi, Economist, Vienna Institute for International Economic Studies (Austria)
Maher Barotchi, Sheffield (UK)
Mahvish Ahmad, Assistant Professor in Human Rights and Politics, London School of Economics (LSE) (UK)
Mai Taha, Goldsmiths, University of London (UK)
Maire Kelly, Activist, Berlin (Germany)
Majd A Bukit, Mertajam (Malaysia)
Mamoun DIB, Avrillé (France)
Marese Hegarty, Community Development Worker, Irish Syria Solidarity Movement (Ireland)
Margo Harkin Derry (UK)
Marina Centonze, Activist (Italy)
Mark Goudkamp, ESL and History Teacher, Syria Solidarity Australia (Australia)
Mark LeVine, Irvine, CA (USA)
Markus Bickel, Tel Aviv (Israel)
Marta Tawil-Kuri, Research Professor, El Colegio de México (Mexico)
Martti Koskenniemi, Prof. of International Law, University of Helsinki (Finland)
Mary Killian, Pianist/Music Teacher, Berlin (Germany)
Mary Lynn Murphy, Committee in Solidarity with the People of Syria — CISPOS (USA)
Mary Rizzo, Translator-Activist (Italy)
Max Weiss, Associate Professor of History and Near Eastern Studies, Princeton University (USA)
Mayssoun Sukarieh, Senior Lecturer, King’s College London (UK)
Mazen Halabi, Activist (USA)
Meghan Keane, Co-Director of Emergent Horizons (USA)
Meredith Tax, New York, NY  (USA)
Michael Albert, ZNet (USA)
Michael Fuller, Mapper, Social Scientist, British Columbia (Canada)
Michael Hirsch, NYC Democratic Socialists of America (USA)
Michael Karadjis, Western Sydney University, Syria Solidarity Australia (Australia)
Michael Löwy, Emeritus Research Director, French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) (France)
Michael Pröbsting, Author, Editor of www.thecommunists.net (Austria)
Michael Santos, Antiwar Activist (USA)
Michel Morziere, activist, member of association For a Free and Democratic Syria (France)
Michelle Cantat, Paris (France)
Michelle Dean, Bristol (UK)
Miguel Urbán, Member of the European Parliament (GUE/NGL) (Spain)
Minnie Berman, New York, NY (USA)
Mirko Medenica, Beograd (Serbia)
Miro Sandev, Sydney (Australia)
Mo Tabba, Brossard (Canada)
Mohamad Khouli, Committee in Solidarity with the People of Syria — CISPOS (USA)
Mohamed Abdi Nour, General Secretary, Somali Public Trade Union (Somalia)
Molly Crabapple, Artist and Writer (USA)
Mouhab Ibraheem, (Germany)
Mudassir Nadeem (India)
Muhammed Abbas, Antalya (Turkey)
Mustafa Aljarf, (France)
Myriam Kendsi, Grenoble (France)
Na’eem Jeenah, Executive Director, Afro–Middle East Centre (South Africa)
Nader Hashemi, Director, Center for Middle East Studies, University of Denver (USA/Canada)
Nadia Leïla Aïssaoui, Sociologist (Algeria/France)
Nadia NAFFAKH, Malakoff (France)
Nadia Salam, Troyes (France)
Nadia Samour, Lawyer, Berlin (Germany)
Nadje Al-Ali, Professor of Anthropology and Middle East Studies, Brown University (USA)
Nael Georges, Annemasse (France)
Nagao Koh, Ichikawa (Japan)
Nancy Holmstrom, Professor Emerita, Rutgers University (USA)
Nancy Ko, PhD Student, Columbia University, New York (USA)
Natasha Hazrati, San Carlos (Nicaragua)
Nathalie Robisco, Bastia (France)
Navtej Purewal, Professor, SOAS, University of London (UK)
Nazan Üstündağ, Independent Scholar (Germany)
Nick Riemer, University of Sydney (Australia)
Nicola Gandolfi (Spain)
Nigel Gibson, Emerson College (USA)
Nils de Dardel, Lawyer, Former Member of Parliament (Switzerland)
Nizar Flihsn (Kuwait)
noah zweig, (Ecuador)
Noam Chomsky, University of Arizona (USA)
nurlana khalilova (Italy)
Ofer Neiman, Student, Jerusalem (Israel)
Olfa Lamloum,, Tunis (Tunisia)
Omar Dewachi, Anthropologist, Rutgers University (USA)
Osama Alhomse, Jeddah (Saudi Arabia)
Ozlem Goner, Brooklyn, NY (USA)
Pam Bromley, independent member, Rossendale Borough City Council (UK)
Paola Rivetti, Dublin (Ireland)
Parvathi Menon, Researcher/Adjunct Lecturer, University of Helsinki (Finland)
Pascale TENANT, Mouettes (France)
Patrick Bond, Professor, University of the Western Cape (South Africa)
Patrick J. O’Dea, Electrician & Trade Unionist (New Zealand)
Paul Fletcher, Crawley, England (UK)
Payam Ghalehdar, University of Göttingen (Germany)
Penelope Duggan, Editor, International Viewpoint (France)
Pete Brown, Communist Voice Organization (USA)
Pete Klosterman, Human Rights Activist, New York City (USA)
Peter Bohmer, Faculty Emeritus, Evergreen State College (USA)
Peter Hudis, Professor of Philosophy, Oakton Community College (USA)
Peter McLaren, Distinguished Professor in Critical Studies, Chapman University (USA)
Phil Gasper, Professor Emeritus, Notre Dame de Namur University (USA)
Piero Maestri, Activist, Milan (Italy)
Pierre Conscience, Communal Deputy, City Council of Lausanne, Ensemble à Gauche – solidaritéS Vaud (Switzerland)
Pierre Vandevoorde (France)
Pina Piccolo, San Jose (Italy)
Polly Kellogg, Retired Professor of Human Relations, St. Cloud State University, Minnesota (USA)
Prabhu Mohapatra, University of Delhi (India)
Pritam Singh, Oxford Brookes University (UK)
Qutaiba Alhusein, Kirke-hyllinge Denmark
Raghu Krishnan, translator and interpreter, Toronto (Canada)
Rahim Laban, Cardiff (UK)
Rajan Hoole, Writer and human rights defender (Sri Lanka)
Rana Issa, American University of Beirut (AUB) (Lebanon/Norway)
Rana Kabbani, Fulham (UK)
Raouia Ben abd El ouahab Casablanca (Morocco)
Rasha Anayah, Baltimore, MD (USA)
Rashad Ali, Resident Senior Fellow, Institute for Strategic Dialogue (UK)
Rashmi Varma, University of Warwick (UK)
Rebecca Lesses, Ithaca, NY (USA)
Rebekka Rexhausen, Project Assistant, Alsharq Reise (Germany)
Rev. Dr. Rachael Keefe, Clergy, Living Table United Church of Christ (USA)
Rev. Gregory Seal Livingston, Syria Faith Initiative, NYC (USA)
Riccardo Bella, Theater Technician, Milan (Italy)
Richard Atkinson Chester (UK)
Richard Greeman, Victor Serge Foundation (France)
Richard Wood, Port Townsend WA (USA)
Richard Wood, Retired Chair, Sociology Department, DeAnza College (USA)
Rima Anabtawi, M.A. Groves, TX (USA)
Rima Majed, Assistant Professor, American University of Beirut (Lebanon)
Roane Carey, Senior Editor, The Nation (USA)
Robert Brenner, Center for Social Theory and Comparative History, UCLA (USA)
Robert Green, Hackney (UK)
Robert J. Pechacek, Woodstock, IL (USA)
Roberto Andervill, Social Worker & Activist (Italy)
Roger Silverman, former candidate, British Labour Party National Executive Committee (UK)
Rohini Hensman, Writer and Independent Scholar (India)
Roland Merieux, Member of the National Animation Team of ENSEMBLE! (France)
Romolo Molo, Lawyer (Switzerland)
Ruairi Nolan, Exeter (UK)
Rupert Read, Philosopher, University of East Anglia (UK)
Ruth Riegler Glasgow (UK)
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Saajeda Bayat, Businesswoman (South Africa)
Sadri Khiari, designer (Tunisia)
Saeb Shoufi, Fort Worth TX (USA)
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Salim Sendiane, Angers (France)
Salima Bey, Paris (France)
Salwa Ismail, Professor of Politics, SOAS, University of London (UK)
Sam Friedman, Poet and AIDS researcher (USA)
Sam Hamad, Writer & Researcher, University of Glasgow (Scotland)
Samantha Falciatori, Web Author (Italy)
Samia Akkad, Rome (Italy)
Samuel Farber, Professor Emeritus of Political Science, Brooklyn College of CUNY (USA)
Sandra Bender, researcher & human rights activist (USA)
Sandra Hetzl, Translator and Curator (Germany)
Sara Abbas, PhD Candidate, Freie Universität, Berlin (Germany)
Sascha Ruppert-Karakas, Munich (Germany)
Saskia Sassen, Professor, Columbia University, New York City (USA)
Scott Lucas, Editor, EA WorldView & Emeritus Professor, University of Birmingham (UK)
Scott Tokaryk, Berlin (Germany)
Sébastien Guex, Professor, University of Lausanne & Former Member, City Council of Lausanne (Switzerland)
Seda Altuğ, Academic, Istanbul (Turkey)
Sevgi Dogan, Professor, Scuola Normale Superiore (Italy)
Seyla Benhabib, Eugene Meyer Professor of Political Science & Philosophy Emerita, Yale University (USA)
Shafie Chkair, Kuwait (Kuwait)
Shakuntala Banaji, LSE, University of London, (UK)
Sheriff Tabba, Montréal (Canada)
Sherry Wolf, author/trade unionist, member, Tempest Collective, New York City (USA)
Shintaro Mori, translator (Japan)
Shireen Akram-Boshar, Democratic Socialists of America (USA)
Shirin Hakim, PhD Candidate at Imperial College London (UK)
Silvia Carenzi, PhD Candidate, Scuola Normale Superiore (Italy)
silvia carneiro Garcia, Lima (Peru)
Simon Assaf, Editor, al-Manshour, London/Beirut (UK/Lebanon)
Simon Pearson, Anti*Capitalist Resistance (UK)
Simone Jeger (Switzerland)
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Siobhan O’Brien, Dublin (Ireland)
Sonali Kolhatkar, Multimedia Journalist (USA)
Songül Deniz (Germany)
Soraya Misleh, Journalist (Brazil)
Souad Labbize,, Toulouse ((France)
Stacy Brown, Director, Refugees Forward (USA)
Staffan Olofsson (Sweden)
Stanley Heller, Host, The Struggle Video News (USA)
Stefan Zgliczyński, Author and Publisher (Poland)
Stéfanie Prezioso, Academic, University of Lausanne & Member of the Swiss Parliament, Ensemble à Gauche (Switzerland)
Stephen Donahue, Toronto (Canada)
Stephen Hastings-King, PhD, writer, greater Boston (USA)
Stephen R. Shalom, William Paterson University, New Jersey (USA)
Stephen Soldz, Coalition for an Ethical Psychology (USA)
Stephen Zunes, Professor of Politics and International Studies, University of San Francisco (USA)
Steven Heydemann, Director, Program in Middle East Studies, Smith College (USA)
Subir Sinha, Senior Lecturer, SOAS, University of London (UK)
Sue Sparks, Unite (UK)
suha sibany, Paris (France)
Sukla Sen, Peace activist, (India)
Sumit Sarkar, Historian, (India)
Susan Nussbaum, Writer (USA)
Susanna Sillanpää, Helsinki (Finland)
Suzi Weissman, Professor of Politics, Saint Mary’s College of California (USA)
Swati Birla, University of Massachusetts Amherst (USA)
Sylvia Arnstein, Champaign, IL (USA)
Tachibana Sara, Osaka-shi (Japan)
Talib Al Ali, Mississauga (Canada)
Tanika Sarkar, Historian, (India)
Tanya Monforte, DCL Candidate, McGill University (Canada)
Tasnim Sammak,, Palestinian, PhD Candidate, Melbourne ((Australia))
Tassos Anastassiadis, Journalist (Greece)
Terry Burke, Committee in Solidarity with the People of Syria — CISPOS (USA)
The Rev. David W. Good, Minister Emeritus, The First Congregational Church of Old Lyme, Connecticut (USA)
Theo Horesh, author and freelance journalist (USA)
Therese Rickman Bull, Independent Human Rights Upholder/Defender (USA)
Thomas Harrison, editorial board member, New Politics (USA)
Tim Leadbeater, Teacher (Aotearoa/New Zealand)
Timothy Gibran, Stockholm (Sweden)
Tory Whall, Salt Lake City, UT (USA)
Toufic Haddad, Academic and Author (Palestine)
Tristan Sloughter, Democratic Socialists of America, Larkspur, Colorado (USA)
Trond Revheim, Asker (Norway)
Vahid Yücesoy, PhD Candidate, University of Montreal (Canada)
Vicken Cheterian, University Lecturer in History & IR, University of Geneva, Webster University Geneva (Switzerland)
Vincent Commaret, Songwriter (France)
Vivek Sundara, Social activist, (India)
Vivian O’Dell, Research Scientist, University of Wisconsin Particle Astrophysics Center (USA)
Viviana Ferreras Lohe, Zamora (Spain)
W. J. T. Mitchell, Senior Editor, Critical Inquiry, Chicago (USA)
Wasim Khalili Göteborg (Sweden)
Wendy Pearlman, Professor, Northwestern University (USA)
William Flesch, Waltham, MA (USA)
Yamazaki Hideki, Tokyo, Japan
Yasmin Fedda, filmmaker and artist (UK)
Yossi Bartal, Writer (Germany)
Younes Ajarrai, Caen (Morocco)
Zeenat Adam, International Relations Strategist, Stop the Bombing Campaign (South Africa)
Zhaleh Sahand, Houston, TX (USA)
Zhaleh Sahand, independent (USA)
Ziad Elmarsafy, Professor of Comparative Literature, King’s College London (UK)
Ziad Majed, Associate Professor, the American University of Paris (Lebanon/France)
Zulekha Dinath, Author (South Africa)

Comments (19)

  • James Simpson says:

    It might have aided the credibility of this diatribe if the authors had included some evidence. As it is, the letter is merely vague accusations against persons and organisations unnamed, simply “various writers and outlets”. Who? What did they write? In what ways was it inaccurate or misleading? Without anything more specific to go on, any reader should dismiss the letter, no matter now many famous people have signed it.

  • Tariq Rafique says:

    No leftist socialist is a supporter of Assad as is quite wrongly described in this protest article. The unfortunate fact is that numerous Fighters against acids dictatorship came from religious extremist countries and turned the entire land into a chaotic mess. It is quite wrong to confuse real left socialists who despise and detest the regime in Damascus with those who are apologists for that regime. It is also quite wrong to blame those who realise that the regime in Damascus cannot for the foreseeable future be thrown out out with those who want it to remain indefinitely. Those who write this letter should look at the situation in Libya. In that awful country there is no leftist intervention and you cannot say that there is anything other than chaos ruling there. And you cannot point to any so-called leftist who supports or would support either the regime of Gaddafi or either of the two dreadful government’s that that are trying to monopolize rule in that unfortunate land. The persons who have signed this letter with whom I really sympathize should ask themselves this question. What would happen if tomorrow Assad and his supporters were to be forcibly removed from power in Damascus. Do they want another repetition of what is going on in Libya with another 10 years of of internecine fighting and further destruction of that land? Surely it is far better to start a dialogue immediately with whoever wants to do so with the regime in Damascus and those who are in Russia. We cannot assume about either Assad or Putin would be opposed to such a such a dialogue. It is far more likely that there could be a reconciliation and there could be reconstruction along with donations from those countries who have helped to destroy the land particularly I refer to those countries in the golf and the country of Saudi Arabia who has handled enormous sums of money to um what were at the time originally justifiable Rebels but later joined by religious extremists. There is far more I could say about the presence of Turkey at present ruled by a authoritarian man who has tried to impose a religious Dogma upon his own country. He is also concerned about the so-called threat posed by kurds who also want to do have semi or entire independence for their own people. If the the Goodwill existed in countries like the United States and France and even Great Britain where the majority of Syrian refugees now reside and they sincerely wanted the country to unite there could be an agreement allowing exiles to return and the country to go forward with or without Asad in a short time. Unfortunately these countries are more interested in keeping the pot boiling to the discomfiture of Putin. So please put pressure on the WESTERN POWERS before rounding upon your version of Leftists.

  • Margaret West says:

    In answer to your question James – there was
    a chemical attack in Syria – chlorine – missiles
    from Syrian Govt aircraft. There were accusations that
    this was “fake news” and there was no attack. The fake
    news accusation was briefly discussed here on this Board –
    and I took part in the discussion. It did not go on for very
    long because it was a diversion from the main point of
    the article to which the discussion was attached. Some of
    this was reported on a radio program
    about the death of the founder of the “white helmets”. However
    this concentrated on facts – scientific evidence and concerned
    “fake news about fake news”.

    As to further examples – they more often appear from posters to
    main articles from left wing sites rather than the articles themselves.
    Apart from anything else – since I have not tackled the posters myself
    or taken part it would be unfair to quote.

    Maybe others can fill in ..?

    I completely agree with the letter!

  • Margaret West says:

    PS The post I have submitted does NOT mean I support
    bombing of countries such as Syria – we have seen what happened
    with Libya – as described in post by Tariq Rafiq.

    Then there is Iraq . .. as was sadly remarked by an Iraqi “Yes you got rid
    of one Sadim Hussain but he has been replaced by a thousand Sadim Hussains ..”

  • Margaret West says:

    At the risk of confusing things – here is the first of a Radio4
    series, “Mayday” featuring Syria and the White Helmets. It concerns
    Fake News rather than Left/Right politics :

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/p08xs4st

    It was first broadcast last November – apparently there will be
    an update in a few days.

  • Simon Korner says:

    “America is not central to what has happened in Syria,” says the letter. Yet the CIA has spent a huge amount of money on funding the anti-Assad campaign – $1 billion according to ex-UK ambassador to Syria, Peter Ford. It has admitted to the funding and training of supposedly ‘moderate’ rebels – who very quickly reinforced the ranks of extremist terrorist groups. According to veteran Middle East correspondent for the Independent, the late Robert Fisk: “I doubt if there are 700 active ‘moderate’ foot soldiers in Syria….I am being very generous, for the figure may be nearer 70.”

    The letter says it’s “provincial” to insist on the “centrality of US power globally”. But US military spending massively outweighs all the other global powers combined, making up 38% of global expenditure on arms. In 2019, its military spending was $732 billion – China was next at $261 billion, and Russia at $65 billion. Russia, Iran and the US are thus not equal powers militarily. As for China, also discussed in the letter, it has had no military involvement in Syria.

    While the letter accepts the extremely negative role played by the US in Afghanistan and Iraq, including “massive human rights abuses”, not only during the Cold War but later, it makes an exception in the case of Syria. Yet the US has invaded and occupied Syria – just as it did Afghanistan and Iraq. In Syria, it controls a large portion of eastern Syria. Not just any portion, but territory in which the country’s oil and agriculture lie. This, along with sanctions, means that 12 million Syrians are food insecure.

    Moreover, Israel is integrated into US power projection in the Middle East. The letter’s analysis ignores Israel’s role – though Israel bombs Syria regularly. The letter doesn’t deal with Israel because it seeks to frame the Syrian situation as a purely internal matter. Which it clearly is not.

  • George Wilmers says:

    Tariq Rafique writes above “No leftist socialist is a supporter of Assad as is quite wrongly described in this protest article.” Did Tariq read the article or just skim it? Even the first paragraph of the article makes clear that the authors hold that no genuine socialist can be an apologist for the Assad régime, though they may well self-identify as being on the “left”.

    James Simpson complains about the failure of the article to supply more detail or to identify the miscreants. That is a fair comment though it is not hard to find examples. I suspect that the authors did this quite deliberately so as to concentrate on a description of the ideological perversion rather than inducing a diversionary internet brawl concentrated on particular individuals. I think this approach is wise, firstly because a varied assortment of knaves and honest but naive journalists are propagating the apologetics, and secondly because the phenomenon is so widespread that, as an initial counterblast, the challenge “If the cap fits, wear it!” has some merit in breaking the silence. The approach of the apologists, which is as far removed from a socialist analysis as is possible, has been well characterised by a Syrian leftist who spent 16 years in a régime prison:

    “The discourses of wide sectors of the Western left and the right about Syria share one important thing: they are depopulated. As for mainstream professionals — ambassadors, diplomats, and no shortage of journalists and researchers — they knew very well how brutal, discriminatory and corrupt the regime was, but their perspective is state-centered, with stability as their highest priority. They like to have Syrian food, which is good, and to save a lot of their income in a country where the cost of living is not high. So why care for Syrians? They are convinced that the regime is bad, but many of them tend to think that we, Syrians, do not deserve better. Certainly, from the Syrian and Palestinian experience, I tend to think that they share the mentality of imperialist generals and administrators from the heydays of colonialism. These people pose a danger to democracy everywhere: in our countries as well as their own.
    So, it is the statist elitist structure that puts these people on common terms with the regime — a regime that deals with its own subjects in the same way their own colonial predecessors once did.”
    https://roarmag.org/essays/syrian-revolution-yassin-haj-saleh-interview/

    The world has seen something similar before. In the mid-1930’s the wishful thinking of western “progressive” opinion formers, including many liberal intellectuals, was such that the vast majority believed that reports of Stalin’s murderous repression were mere capitalist propaganda spread by corrupt traitors to the communist cause. This wilful blindness continued, though with a diminishing band of the faithful, throughout the Moscow trials, the Hitler-Stalin pact, the postwar workers’ revolts in Poland and Hungary, the invasion of Czechoslovakia, right up until the final collapse of the USSR. There is however a crucial difference between those earlier apologists for tyranny and the contemporary variety of fake anti-imperialist. However misconceived it may have been, the model of the USSR and its western satellite communist parties embodied for at least two generations the hopes of much of the world for a socialist future. Today no one but a political idiot would regard the Syrian, Russian or Iranian régimes as desirable models for the future of humanity.

  • Terence McGinity says:

    Whilst accepting much of the premise of the letter and sympathising with the signatories as does Tariq Rafique I want to defend the role of many independent Journalists a number of whom are posted by JVL. Not all IJs are driven by anti-imperialism but are driven to delve beneath what we are commonly told. And they do this at considerable risk not only to their potential careers.
    There is considerable evidence that casts doubts on the veracity, for instance, on Panorama’s ‘Saving Syria’s Children ‘ and its current follow up.
    Indeed, a little delving into the BBC Sounds ‘Mayday’ uncovers doubts about its reporting (found in email correspondence online). We are fully aware of the propaganda capabilities of the BBC and in particular, Panorama.
    This is such a fraught subject because we are addressing the suffering of so many, many people. But I do believe there are signs of refreshed attempts to drive the West into further intervention in Syria.
    Given the global attacks on Democracy surely we need to step up our efforts at Enquiry.

  • Hannu Reime says:

    “[T]he US has invaded and occupied Syria – just as it did Afghanistan and Iraq.”
    The idea that the US as the most powerful imperialist state in the world would not be involved in the Syrian war is surely wrong. But equally curious is the view that the US intervention in Syria is at the same level as its attack against Iraq; that the Americans would have caused the Syrian war. In reality, there was a popular uprising against Assad’s tyranny, inspired by the Arab Spring in 2011. There had been nothing of the sort in Iraq in 2003.
    Until the Iranian and especially Russian intervention that saved it from being overthrown, the fate of the Assad régime really hung in the balance. It would be very strange if the US as the strongest world power would have been indifferent as to the future of Syria.
    Since 2014 the main interest of the US has been the struggle against Da’esh (Isis), in which it made an alliance with the Kurds in Northern Syria. When the Syrian Democratic Forces (Kurds plus some Arabs, Assyrians and others) defeated the Isis “Caliphate”, a big chunk of Syrian territory fell into the hands of the US allies. Their most determined adversary is a NATO-member Turkey whose nightmare is a permanent Kurdish autonomy in Northern Syria.
    As to Turkey and Russia, they are in good terms despite conflicting interests. Also Russia and Israel have good relations. Maybe the autocratic nature of the leaders of these three states helps in this.
    Israel has concentrated its fire on Iranians in Syria. At the beginning of the war Israeli strategists were quite content that Arabs were killing Arabs. If Israel would have really wanted to help in overthrowing Assad, it had an easy weapon at hand: it could have mobilized its forces in the occupied Golan Heights at a time when Assad’s army was trying to suppress a popular uprising and its soldiers were deserting to the side of the rebels.
    It’s unfortunate that some people who regard themselves as leftists or critical journalists have taken a stand in favor of Assad’s tyranny in this geopolitical gangster-war, forgetting Syrians and their democratic aspirations altogether but also forgetting the factual history of this horrendous war. Maybe the excellent statement by Syrian intellectuals and others will help at least some of them to think it all over.

  • Terence McGinity says:

    But, and a big but, Robert Fisk was an exemplary journalist/war reporter.His writings on Syria are of the highest standard of Independent journalism. He spoke to everyone but belonged to none.
    How bitter, terrible has the Syrian Civil war been and is. How utterly tragic the loss of lives and destruction of cities and homes. Fueled by weapons and bombs from all sides. Robert Fisk knew the cruelty of the Syrian regime. But All sides descended/fell into this nightmare. I am so utterly sorry.

  • Chimes says:

    Big problem with this article. None of it examines evidence, as someone like Robert Fisk would, for example.

  • Simon Korner says:

    In response to the comment above, by Hannu Reime, about the centrality of US involvement in Syria, US Senator Dick Black, a retired colonel, has this to say: “In 2011, also during the Arab Spring, the highly secretive Central Intelligence Agency Special Activities Center sent paramilitary teams into the sovereign territory of Syria to identify, train, equip and lead terrorist to overthrow the Syrian government. In twenty thirteen, Barack Obama formalized, formalized this long-standing support for anti Syrian terrorists by secretly authorizing CIA program Timber Sycamore under program Timber Sycamore, the CIA Special Operations Division, trained, armed and paid thousands of terrorists to fight …. those armies totally under our control.”

  • Margaret West says:

    But US Senator Dick Black has claimed all sorts of things – including
    the White Helmets “false flag” incidents in Syria referred to above.
    (For what it is worth – he is not left wing I think!)

    See his “Wiki” page – in particular
    https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/syria-chemical-weapons-virginia-senator-richard-black-uk-mi6-assad-russia-a8529681.html

    I am not sure what evidence he provides for any of his allegations – does he know a CIA whistleblower for example or does he himself belong to the highly secretive CIA group?

  • Roger Young says:

    I hate to think what Joanathon Cook, Aaron Mate, Caitlin Johnstone, Medialens, Peter Oborne, Craig Murray, Consortium Newsand virtually every other journalist who has had the integrity to stand against the Labour anti semitism narrative will think about this. And I’m not talking about the letter, more the introduction.

    If this isn’t about their brave and evidence laden reporting on the almost certainly false flag Douma incident then you must say so now because people will think it is.

    If it is about Douma it’s not too late to withdraw it and apologise.

  • Ieuan Einion says:

    I’m sorry that JVL saw fit to publish what Caitlin Johnstone describes as “this despicable letter.”

    In common with Simon Korner, Tariq Rafique, Terence McGinity and others, I’m deeply suspicious of people who reference the BBC and similar suspect sources regarding Syria, the White Helmets (many of whom were exfiltrated from Syria by Israel), chemical weapons etc. I also wonder at the people who chose to illustrate this article with a picture of women waving Islamist flags and sporting the trappings of reactionary Islam, who had they prevailed would have assisted in wiping out the Christian and other minority populations in Syria.

    I tend to get my information from Syrian friends and comrades who either still live in Syria or can see beyond the smoke and mirrors. By and large what was a critique of the economic policies of the Syrian government (despite subsidies on some essential goods etc) combined with a unified patriotic front against external enemies, most notably Israel, zionism and its US backers has, sadly, amongst those comrades been replaced with just the latter because, as a result of the jihadi insurrection, the devastating civil war, the intervention of the USA, UK, France and their allies in Turkey and the gulf, any discussion about the socialist credentials or otherwise of the Syrian Baathists and the Assad government has been kicked down the road because all that remains is to circle the wagons in the face of foreign occupation (by the USA, Turkey and Israel, who between them hold up to a third of the country by force of arms, including all the oil fields) and to defend the honour and independence of the state against its external enemies.

    Had they possessed an ounce of dialectical analysis, the liberal lefties who have signed this letter could have seen this coming a mile off.

    You don’t have to be a supporter of Assad to understand why these people are living in a wonderland. I’ve posted Caitlin Johnstone’s full response below but to quote the grist:

    “This snide and incoherent broadside…comes at a time when Washington’s aggressiveness is reaching new levels of intensity and many antiwar writers are confronted with growing attempts at marginalization and even censorship. It is so timely to brand them all with the label “anti-imperialism of fools.”

    “To reply to the labelers in their language, let me say that the promoters of this despicable letter are practicing the imperialism of foolers.”

    https://consortiumnews.com/2021/04/07/diana-johnstone-the-imperialism-of-foolery/

  • Steve Shalom says:

    In response to Simon Korner: Dick Black is not and never was a US Senator. He was a Virginia senator, considered a wingnut even by his fellow Republicans. After Black sent a letter to Assad thanking the Syrian army for its efforts, one of his Republican colleagues said: “What’s the matter, Dick? Was Kim Jong-un not returning your text messages?” His colonel’s rank in the military legal corps (where he championed opposition to gay soldiers) does not make him an expert on US foreign policy.

  • James Dickins says:

    I signed this letter – and urge others to do so.
    ____________________________________________
    However, we should not be naive about Western mainstream media propaganda surrounding Syria. A previous commenter, Margaret West, mentioned the BBC ‘Mayday’ series:
    https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/p08xs4st

    In fact, the BBC ‘Mayday’ series is itself a very good example of ‘fake news’ as expertly documented by Aaron Mate:
    https://thegrayzone.com/2020/11/30/questions-bbc-podcast-opcw-whistleblowers/
    See also:
    https://thegrayzone.com/2021/04/07/bbc-white-helmets-mayday-uk-intelligence/

    It is also increasingly clear that the official Western story that the Assad regime carried out the Douma chemical attack is false. See:
    https://thegrayzone.com/2021/03/14/5-former-opcw-officials-join-prominent-voices-to-call-out-syria-cover-up/
    https://thegrayzone.com/tag/douma/

  • Steve Shalom says:

    Are there actually leftists who support Assad? To take just one example, consider this program sponsored by Syria’s ambassador to the UN and featuring the US Peace Council: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AOB5vgdoAko.

    There is indeed lots of Western media propaganda about Syria, but one cannot advance a few articles from Grayzone (where slurs often replace evidence) to refute the many reports from the UN Human Rights Council, international human rights groups, and materials smuggled out of or videotaped in Syria.

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