To: Detroit/Seattle Workers' Voice mailing list
March 25, 2017
RE:  The Syrian people will not surrender to Assad!

  1. The DWV mailing list has a new name: the Detroit/Seattle Workers' Voice mailing list
  2.  Heavy fighting in Damascus: The strugggle continues against the Assad dictatorship
  3.  The state of Assad's army: excerpts from a Russian newspaper report on the dispirited nature of Assad's forces
  4.  On the anti-war appeal of Ecumene against Russian bombing of Syria
  5. Appeal of the spiritual-resettlement movement Ecumene (our translation)

 (1) The DWV mailing list has a new name: the Detroit/Seattle Workers' Voice mailing list

The DWV mailing list was originally intended to serve mainly as a way to notify interested people about the activities and meetings of the Detroit Workers' Voice. But its purpose has grown over time. For some years now, the list has been a way of keeping people in touch not just with the views and activities, not just of the DWV, but of the Communist Voice Organization generally. Today most of our readers aren't in the Detroit area, and some are scattered in countries around the world.

The list long carried leaflets and materials from the Seattle Communist Study Group, as well as the DWV. And SCSG leaflets will now be appearing under the name of the Seattle Workers' Voice, thus resuming an old tradition of our trend. Thus the list's new name reflects what the list has become.

It also reflects our desire to expand readership in the Seattle area and provide more support for the movement there. With the advent of Trumpism, more people than ever are seeing the need to take part in protests and form a powerful resistance movement. The decision to resume publication under the name of Seattle Workers' Voice is designed to help emphasize the working class basis of opposition to the rightward trend of the bourgeoisie. And we request subscribers to the Detroit/Seattle Workers' Voice list who are in the Seattle area to notify us if they wish to receive special notice about SWV activities in Seattle

. -- Joseph Green   <>

 (2) Heavy fighting in Damascus: The struggle continues against the Assad dictatorship

There are many who say that the uprising against the Assad dictatorship is basically over, and Assad has won. The intense Russian bombing since September 2015 helped turn the tide of the battle when the regime seemed to be on is its last legs. Soldiers from Russia, Iran, and Hezbollah, and sectarian militias from Iraq have provided personnel as the Assad regime's army faltered. The fall of Eastern Aleppo to the regime in December 2016 was one of a series of continuing defeats.

Indeed the situation, as the seventh year of the uprising against Assad begins, is really difficult for Syrian democrats. But the large majority of the Syrian people do not want either the murderous Ba'ath dictatorship which has destroyed so much of the country in order to preserve Assad's rule, or ISIS. With great courage, they have persisted in struggle despite blockades, incessant bombing, gas attacks, and hunger. Indeed Assad has been unable to pacify major sections of the capital city of Damascus, where many poorer suburbs still continue to defy bombs, siege, and hunger.

On March 19 the rebels began a major offensive in northeastern Damascus. Despite both the supposed ceasefire arranged by Russia and Turkey and the 2014 "reconciliation agreement" covering some areas, the Assad regime had been continuing its pressure on  rebel-controlled suburbs such as Qaboun, which the regime is trying to isolate and overrun. 300,000 people in such suburbs have been cut off from aid and face a humanitarian crisis. The new rebel offensive aimed to release this pressure.

There has been heavy fighting in the last week. It is hard to know the details in these struggles, which aren't reported well and where there are changes day-by-day. Still, it seems the offensive caught the regime by surprise; suffering major losses,it rushed in reinforcements and foreign fighters on March 20, and called for Russian bombing attacks. But the fighting continued, and the rebels appear to have achieved some gains. Some reports say that they have established an overground link with Qaboun to supplement their previous link through tunnels.

The fighting wasn't just in Damascus. The rebels also struck in Hama province. Over the last few months, the fighting lines have moved back and forth in this area. In the new offensive, fighting has reached a few miles of Hama city. The Assad regime has responded with its usual war crimes, staging a chemical attack on a hospital in Latamneh today, killing doctor Ali Darweesh. And there is also fighting between the rebels and ISIS in the south of Syria around Daraa.

The FSA and the moderate Islamists have been the main forces in the offensive in Damscus, and an FSA bigade is playing a major role in Hama province. The FSA Southern Front has a major role near Daraa.

This new fighting shows that the Syrian uprising continues. It's not so easy to smother a people's desire for freedom. The new fighting also shows that the FSA is still a major force. It's an Assadist and imperialist lie that the only opponents of Assad are "jihadists".

 -- Joseph Green <>

 (3) The state of Assad's army

As the uprising against him has continued, Assad's army has become a hollow shell. It has suffered heavy casualties. Many courageous soldiers deserted long ago to form the FSA. Most Syrians in areas under regime control, whatever their viewpoint, try as hard as possible to avoid conscription in Assad's army. Many conscripted soldiers don't want to either kill or die for Assad. Much of Assad's forces aren't regular army, but local formations that act more as criminal bands extracting tribute from the local population than as soldiers, and can't be moved from their areas. This is why foreign troops were used to subjugate Aleppo.

It's also why Assad has had to call on foreign troops to defend himself from the rebel offensive in Damascus. An interesting article on this appeared in one of the Russian newspapers. In order to defend the performance of Russian interventionist troops in Syria, it carried material denouncing the value of Assad's military. The newspaper is not a reliable source on Syria, but the article does show the contempt of the Russian imperialist bourgeoisie for their Syrian ally, the dictator Assad. Below are excerpts from a report on this that was carried in The Syrian Observer:

"The Russian Nezavisimaya Gazeta newspaper has sharply attacked the incompetence of Syrian government forces, repeatedly stressing that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, without Russia and Iranian and Lebanese militias, would be powerless to stop the broad assault of Syrian opposition forces on the capital Damascus.

"The newspaper published an article translated into Arabic by the Kremlin-backed website Russia Today on Thursday. The newspaper, which enjoys a large readership inside Russia, acknowledged the severe attack by opposition forces which began on Sunday, March 19, 2017, and continues today. ...

"The newspaper backed claims by opposition media and repeatedly challenged the [Assad] regime line which said that the forces of the 'Republican Guard held on to their positions despite the heavy losses they suffered.' This comes as a contradiction by the Russians of the [claims by the Assad] regime, which has denied the extent of the heavy losses suffered by its forces throughout the ongoing battles in Damascus on the Jobar and Abbasid fronts. ...

"The newspaper defended the Russian military experts who are supporting the regime forces, addressing accusations and reproaches toward the regime forces, indicating that idleness pervaded the ranks of these forces, saying: 'The facts supplied make it hard to blame the Russian military experts, some of whom have confirmed the lack of desire of the Syrians to mobilize quickly, always accompanied by the word "tomorrow," which it is impossible to overcome, making carrying out full reconnaissance to uncover the [rebel-dug] tunnels a fantasy.'  ...

"The newspaper clearly acknowledged that regime forces had fled from their positions during the battles and said that regime officers did not understood the meaning of military discipline and the need to carry out combat operations with extreme difficulty. ...

"It seemed that the Russian newspaper was reminding Assad of Moscow’s 'grace' toward him, saying: 'It should be said here that there is a group of Russian military experts and advisers in Syria working at all levels of the structure of the armed forces — including in leadership headquarters, supply departments and alongside military forces on the ground.' ...

"The Russian newspaper stressed that if not for the Russian intervention, the latter would need another month to repel the opposition attack which made its way to Damascus."

(From a report on the website Alsouria Net, which was translated and edited by the Syrian Observer, Bracketed additions by JG.)

 (4) On the anti-war appeal of Ecumene against Russian bombing of Syria

Some groups of religious pacifists in Russia and neighboring countries have come out to denounce the Russian bombing of Syria and the Assad regime itself. This is a significant stand for them. The official Russian Orthodox church backs the Assad regime and the Russian war on the Syrian democrats, but there is dissent from within the Church as well as from some other religious groups in that area. This helps illustrate that support for Russian aggression in Syria is not friendship for the Russian people; it is opposition to all imperialism, including Russian imperialism, that is needed to support the peoples in Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, and the surrounding area.

We received the document from the Christian anti-war groups on Feb. 4. Since then there are some changes in the situation, such as the current warming up of Russian-Turkish relations. That, of course, could change again as the foreign policy objectives of the Russian and Turkish governments in Syria clash. Cooperation based on frustrating the will of the Syrian democrats is unlikely to have a firm basis. Naturally, too, our analysis of the situation differs in some ways from that of the anti-war religious groups. For example, we do not see the situation in Syria as part of a "centuries-old conflict between the two main currents of Islam - Shiites and Sunnis", even though the Assad regime has zealously sought to promote sectarian hatreds. But we have consistently reported on, not just our own analysis of the Syrian civil war, but the statements of other trends in support of the Syrian people, and we shall continue doing so. We think that this anti-war statement is a brave stand that helps promote international solidarity. <>

 (5) Appeal of the spiritual-resettlement movement Ecumene

The Russian adventure in Syria, under the guise of combating Islamic extremism, instead of bringing peace to this troubled country has only led to an escalation of the conflict. Hostilities have sprawled like a cancerous tumor into neighboring states, killing hundreds of peaceful people. The balance wheel of confrontation is swinging with alarming force, threatening to turn the Syrian war into a global conflict. In response to the destruction by the Turkish Air Force of a Russian Su-24 bomber, the Defense Ministry has transferred to Syria S-400 anti-aircraft guns, capable of shooting down targets at a distance of several hundred kilometers, that is deep inside Turkish territory. This was done in order to "protect" Russian military aircraft flying in the Syrian sky. Ankara for its part, has already warned that the destruction of any aircraft of the Turkish Air Force will be considered as an act of aggression with all its consequences. That is, under the terms of the agreement, Turkey, as a NATO member will require protection from all member countries of the alliance, and they will have to take retaliatory military measures.

After the occupation of the Crimea and the war in the Donbass region, which were inspired by Moscow, Western countries, with fear and perplexity, expect other unpredictable actions from the Kremlin. "We commit follies", meanwhile, and we have many of them. The war on the side of the corrupt Alawite regime of Bashar al-Assad against the Syrian people - most of whom are Sunni Muslims - has led to the fact that now we are hated by the entire Islamic world. And there are no excuses for the fact that "we are all now a common enemy" - which does not and will not find any understanding in the West (also confronted with the threat of Islamic terrorism), or in the East.

The downing of the Russian airliner A-321 in Egypt is only the "first sign" of terror that comes to the Russians at home. The Caucasus has an intensified Islamist underground sworn to the "Islamic state". Putin, not realizing the consequences that this may lead to, intervened in the centuries-old conflict between the two main currents of Islam - Shiites and Sunnis, by maintaining the regime of the ayatollahs of Iran and its ally Syria - Bashar al-Assad. The Syrian dictatorship, established almost half a century ago by a military coup, and applied against the repression of the Syrian people is cursed and hated throughout the Arab world. It should be borne in mind that the war on the side of the Alawite regime and Shiite Iran, a mass death of peaceful Syrian-Sunnis, Islamic holy site destruction during the bombing, leads to the radicalization of the Islamic community in Russia itself. A quarter of Russians profess Sunni Islam. [See note below] Putin's blatant aggression in Syria makes Russian Muslims look with anger at the destruction of their brethren in that Middle Eastern country. This risks spreading jihad to Russia itself.

Syria is where the religious, national, regional conflicts are in a narrowly intertwined tangle with the interests of the great powers of the Sunni world, and Shiite Iran today is a model of the upcoming Third World. Of particular concern is the worsening of relations between Russia and Turkey, with which, as we know from history, we have had many wars, and who is now a member of NATO. That is, in the case of armed confrontation Kremlin has put himself in international isolation because of the aggressive foreign policy will have to deal not only with Turkey, but with the camp of the strongest military powers of the world.

Russians, think again! Rather than support the adventurous policy of the Kremlin, pushing Russia and the rest of the world into the abyss of World Armageddon, think about the fact that in this battle there will be no winners. Nuclear war will put an end to the existence of Russia as a country, and will lead to a huge loss of life and the suffering of millions of people. Tell them "no!" to aggression and militarism, save your life and the lives of their children, and loved ones. Hear the voice of reason before it's too late!

Translation from the Russian by the D/SWV mailing list. Original at mirovoj-v/  <>

[Note: We are checking this figure of a quarter of Russians being Muslim back with the authors, to see if we have gotten something wrong in translation. Different sources give figures of that from 4 to 15% of Russians are Muslim, depending in part on what one means by being Muslim. - D/SWV]

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Posted on March 28, 2017