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The funny thing is the one thing the Turkish state, its Syrian clients, the
Russian state and the Assad regime all have a common interest in is to to
exaggerate the limited agreements between the Assad and the Rojava
revolution, and also to claim a separatist if not chauvinist character to
the latter. Because these interests pump out plenty of propaganda some of
which is taken up by some western media it's not hard to find sources or
articles "proving" this point of view, if you're not too fussy about
journalistic standards. If I recall correctly some time ago Louis posted
one of a range of articles that had Assad and other regime representatives
claim — from a story that originated in the Assad regime media — that the
regime was arming the YPG (like this one
http://aa.com.tr/en/todays-headlines/syrias-assad-admits-sending-weapons-to-pyd/487871),
and Louis cited this as "proof" of collaboration. Somehow the "documents"
that regime representatives claimed they have about all this have never
turned up. Michael posted the ridiculous Gutman articles from The Nation,
with their falsification of those sources that presumably didn't tell him
what he wanted to hear without some doctoring, their ludicrous
interpretation of battle tactics and their lurid tales of Iranian SPECTRE
agents. This WSJ article, while not as egregious a frame-up, is still
pretty journalistically dodgy. Under a veneer of an objective news article
with a range of sources it's completely unbalanced. It cites the views of
the Turkish state, unnamed Syrian rebels, unnamed "western diplomats", US
and Russian officials, but not a single word of the views of the *actual
subject* of the article, representatives and statements from whom aren't
really hard to find.

Michael helpfully foregrounds the opinions of unnamed "western diplomats"
to presumably bolster claims the Rojava revolution is a franchise of
Assadism. But you have to read the whole of the article, which appears to
unquestionably accept the view of the world of the Turkish state and its
Syrian clients, to see what the reasons (or rather assumptions) are behind
the diplomats' opinion. One is the claim that the aim of the revolution is
apparently a chauvinist-nationalist Kurdish statelet, perhaps along the
lines of the Iraq KRG. Despite the "citizen journalist" of unknown
provenance from Manbiq whose article Louis recently posted, as I indicated
in response to that there's a lot of evidence that the aim of the Rojava
revolution is just what it says it is: a non-sectarian, democratic *Syria*.
I suppose it's possible that repeatedly denouncing a regime, announcing
one's intention to replace it and fooling numerous visitors and journalists
could just be the cunning chauvinist-Stalinist way to both support Assad
and set up a nationalist statelet, (though Assad doesn't support any kind
of independence or autonomy for Rojava any more than he does a democratic
Syria), but I think I'll keep taking the Ockham's razor approach to this
question, thanks.

The article also claims as a fact that "towns" around Manbiq have been
handed over the regime. While there's been claims from Turkish, regime or
rebel sources that the whole of Manbiq or chunks around it had been or were
to be being handed over, from what I can see the former is clearly false
and the latter at the least exaggerated. This February article details a
range of towns claimed to be handed over the the regime were still under
SDF control http://aranews.net/2017/02/kurds-deny-handover-
of-sdf-held-areas-to-syrian-regime/. In this March article
http://aranews.net/2017/03/manbij-military-council-
denies-handing-areas-assad/ (with some unclear translation) article the
Manbij Military Council denies handing anything substantial to the regime,
but concedes an agreement with Russian that in return for Manbij receiving
aid regime troops would be allowed to occupy a frontline between SDF/MMC
forces and Turkish and client rebel forces. ARA might have its own slant
but I see no reason to believe a unsourced, at best second-hand, throwaway
comment in an WSJ article over these on-the-ground reports.

Some obviously see any sort of agreement with the regime as a total
sell-out. In the context of what never much seems like a grinding civil war
with no military victory over Assad in sight, I don't agree, and don't see
any immediate battlefield or local agreement or in the longer-term
negotiated settlements in principle any different from what liberation
forces in occupied Ireland and southern Africa found themselves obliged to
do by the early 90s. If you think Assad is uniquely more early than the
regimes in these examples, well the Apartheid regime was at least as
torture-happy and if you include the Angolan war probably killed more
people than Assad has. In this context a revolutionary movement seeing
military force as primarily for self-defense, focusing on consolidating and
extending gains, winning allies, building democratic mass organisation in
liberated areas, using whatever tactics that can help this including
tactical agreements with with the US, Russia and the regime, and being open
to a negotiated settlement that can prepare the way for future political
struggles on the best terms possible within difficult balance of forces,
all makes sense to me.

On Sat, May 13, 2017 at 11:37 PM, mkaradjis . via Marxism <
marxism@lists.csbs.utah.edu> wrote:

> ********************  POSTING RULES & NOTES  ********************
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>
> "Western diplomats say the post-capture plan is for
> the SDF to hand over the administration of Raqqa to a local civilian
> council friendly to the Syrian regime. That council could eventually
> transfer control of the city back to the regime, these diplomats said."
>
> Kurd-Led Force Homes In on ISIS Bastion With Assent of U.S. and Syria Alike
>
> After taking crucial nearby dam, SDF is poised to capture Raqqa,
> Islamic State’s Syrian centerpiece
>
> https://www.wsj.com/articles/kurd-led-force-homes-in-on-
> isis-bastion-with-assent-of-u-s-and-syria-alike-1494522632
>
> BEIRUT—A Kurdish-led military force backed by Washington and now
> approved by Damascus is closing in on Islamic State’s stronghold of
> Raqqa after taking the strategic Tabqa dam nearby.
>
> ....
>
> As the Kurdish-led fighters supported by U.S. Special Operations
> Forces on the ground inch closer to Raqqa, the question of who will
> hold the city the day after it falls is becoming more urgent. Turkey,
> a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, and its Syrian
> Arab rebel allies oppose the rival Kurds leading the battle and fear
> they will try to hold onto the majority-Arab city after it is
> captured.
>
> Arab rebels particularly distrust the YPG, the Syrian Kurdish militia
> that dominates the SDF, because it has used the U.S.-backed fight
> against Islamic State to take over a large swath of territory across
> northern Syria—including predominantly Arab cities and towns—with the
> expressed goal of carving out a semi-autonomous Kurdish region. The
> rebels and opposition activists have long accused the YPG of colluding
> with the Syrian regime for its own benefit.
>
> U.S. President Donald Trump has made clear he opposes the expensive
> nation-building missions that have historically accompanied U.S.
> counterterrorism operations to support local governments and prevent
> insurgents from returning.
>
> For these reasons, Western diplomats say the post-capture plan is for
> the SDF to hand over the administration of Raqqa to a local civilian
> council friendly to the Syrian regime. That council could eventually
> transfer control of the city back to the regime, these diplomats said.
>
> The formation of the local civilian council for Raqqa, composed of
> both Kurds and Arabs, was announced last month. On Thursday, Russia’s
> Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov said Moscow supports the
> formation of local councils to administer territory taken from Islamic
> State but said they must not circumvent the Syrian government’s
> authority, in comments carried by Interfax news agency.
>
> “The U.S. military will be going in [to Raqqa] and trying to figure
> out who the tribal leaders are,” said an American official involved in
> the anti-Islamic State campaign. “The regime knows these details. They
> have a natural home-field advantage and have a way of slowly getting
> back in. We won’t be in Raqqa in 2020, but the regime will be there.”
>
> Western officials say the SDF operation that unfolded in the northern
> Syrian city of Manbij last year could serve as a blueprint for Raqqa’s
> eventual handover to Damascus. The Kurdish-led force took Manbij from
> Islamic State in August and handed over some surrounding towns to the
> Syrian and allied Russian armies in March.
>
> ......
>
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