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On Sat, Mar 11, 2017 at 7:22 PM, Chris Slee via Marxism <
marxism@lists.csbs.utah.edu> wrote:

> To put this in context, since 2012 there has been a 3-way conflict in
> Aleppo between the Assad regime, Turkish backed rebel groups and the
> YPG/YPJ - the latter being based in the predominantly Kurdish district of
> Sheikh Maqsoud.  There is a long history of attacks by reactionary rebel
> groups on Sheikh Maqsoud.  According to the Kurdish Question website, such
> attacks began in 2012 and have continued intermittently since then:
> http://kurdishquestion.com/article/3132-138-civilians-
> killed-912-wounded-in-sheikh-maqsoud-attacks
> Amnesty International has condemned the rebel attacks on Sheikh Maqsoud:
> https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2016/05/syria-
> armed-opposition-groups-committing-war-crimes-in-aleppo-city/
> I am not familiar with all the details of the battle for Aleppo.  But if
> the YPG's efforts to break the siege of Sheikh Maqsoud had the side effect
> of helping the Assad regime defeat the rebels in eastern Aleppo, a large
> part of the responsibility lies with reactionary elements of the rebel
> movement.
> Chris Slee

The Amnesty report, citing evidence of a starvation siege-like operation by
rebel groups against Sheikh Maqsod and indiscriminate rocket attacks on
civilians including use of chorine gas, is strong evidence of the defensive
nature of the YPG/J and allies operations in Aleppo. Of course we need to
be critical of all the claims about abuses in Syria, but this report,
unlike the previous Amnesty report claiming "ethnic cleansing" by the YPG
uncritically cited by Michael among others, uses eyewitness accounts and
video evidence more than satellite photos and has not been rejected by an
investigation team from the SNC and by the Syrian Observatory for Human

There seems to be a pattern among those supportive of the Syrian rebels who
have become cool towards or never warmed to the PYD-led movement, to
justify rebel opposition to this movement by grasping at any evidence,
however dubious, of its nefarious, chauvinist, sectarian, pro-Assad and/or
Stalinist nature.

There have been the claims circulating for a couple of years, made by Assad
and various cronies, that they had been arming the YPG/J, and had
"documents" to "prove" it. These claims as reported in the crony Syrian
regime media were happily taken up by the crony Turkish regime media
and were repeated on this list, by Louis if I recall correctly, and no
doubt elsewhere, as "proof" of Assad arming the PYD-led movement. Somehow
the "documents" have never surfaced. I guess running a dictatorship at war
is a busy job and Assad and colleagues might just keep forgetting to click
the "attach" icon on their media release emails, but perhaps we should
entertain the possibility that Assad is capable of lying to suit his ends
and the state media of the increasingly militarist and authoritarian
Turkish state is capable of spreading fake news?

Then there was the smudgy photos and brief smudgy videos on Assadist and
Russian sites claiming to show YPG and regime flags together in the battle
for Aleppo. Possibly these are legitimate; possibly they're the result of a
few minutes work with Photoshop and After Effects. The fact that in this
key example
the image of flags together is long shot and smudgily ow res, while there's
also a number of hi-res close-ups of SAA troops, *alone*, suggests the
latter possibility is the correct one. The dubious nature of all this
didn't stop Assadists and pro-rebels alike spreading this "news" across
social media, in a number of cases I saw without apparently bothering to
even look at the "evidence".

Then there are the claims that the deal is in and there's a secret pay-off
for autonomy in Rojava in return for services rendered. If the PYD
leadership was in fact anything like the billionaire gangsters running the
Kurdish statelet in northern Iraq this would be credible, and probably not
at all hard for the PYD to arrange. This narrative was recetly retold by
Joseph Daher
the totally illogical claim that the dropping of the Kurdish word Rojava
from the Domocratic Federation of Northern Syria was some kind of proof of
this deal. Of course what's happened since flatly contradicts the
narrative. The regime has continued to reject any idea of autonomy or of
changing the institutionally Arab-chauvinist nature of the state, and the
PYD-led movement has doubled down on its hostility to the regime, and its
insistence its fighting for a democratic, non-sectarian, federal but united
Syria, and that it has has no illusions in imperialist or sub-imperialist
forces being anything more than temporary, partial and ultimately
unreliable allies. As Syrian Democratic Council chair Ehmed put it on March

"With the invasion, Turkey started to build outposts. These outposts and
the invasion are a danger for Syria as a whole. These outposts are built
while the Regime and Iran watch, with the approval of Russia... they want
to divvy up Syria. What the regime has now will stay with the regime. The
areas Turkey invaded will stay with Turkey. This policy of allocation will
pave the way for the fragmentation of Syria. These people are trying to
push Syria to fragmentation. That is not an acceptable situation. We as the
Syrian Democratic Council will stand against this. We will try to raise
awareness on this danger and we will try to organize them. We will strive
to keep the unity of Syria. We are fighting and we will fight for a
democratic Syria, not a fragmented Syria with each country claiming a part
of it. If the Regime is involved in these negotiations, that is not right,
and we don’t accept that. If Russia is involved, it’s not right and we
don’t accept that. If the US and Turkey are involved, that is not right and
we don’t accept that.”


Then there was the ridiculous and lurid Nation article by Roy Gutman
Michael endorsed this, albeit with mild criticisms of some of its more
absurd claims, such as that the battle for Kobane was fake news, and that
the violent seizure of power by Kurdish forces in Rogava in 2012, taking
advantage of a crisis precipitated by a rebel bombing in Damascus that took
out key regime figures, was all part of a regime operation masterminded
since 2011 by a fiendish Iranian operative. Michael might have also
mentioned the bizarre extended story of the burning of a cow, or the
complete failure to support the claim that satellite photos show large
scale destruction of property in largely Arab villages occurred when no
fighting took place (the one example given shows the opposite).

Gutman also falsified a number of quotes, as at least two quotees
complained about. The "War Nerd" John Dolan details these and the article's
other lies and distortions and Gutman's mercenary neocon agenda here
along with some interesting reflections on irregular war and the use of
sensationalist headlines in social media. I don't agree with Dolan's
apparent evil-but-lesser-evil view of Assad (I haven't read much of him so
I'm not clear). But he does nail Gutman and the view that the view that the
utter incompatibility of the aims of the Assad regime of the PYD-led
movement, quite conscious on both sides, means there's no possibility for
anything but the most immediate, partial, tactical agreements, that
frequently break down in fighting.

"Actually, Assad’s 'Regime' hates the YPG/J. Assad’s defenders on social
media never fail to sneer at the YPG/J’s good reputation, and call people
like me 'Rojava-heads' while vowing to reconquer every inch of Syria. That
vow is addressed to Syria’s Kurds, and is an existential threat (as they
say) to Rojava. Any collusion between Assad and the YPG/J was a classic
alliance of convenience, as local observers have always realized".

One thing that's annoyed me about discussion of Syrian including on this
list is the immediate rejection of any information that comes from a source
viewed as suspect. But when a whole range of forces have strong interests
in distorting the nature of the PYD-led movements contradictory but
ultimately hostile relations with with the regime - the regime itself, the
Turkish state, the Russian state, the Iranian state, the Gulf states, much
of the rebels, all from their different points of view have interests in
this, and most of them have also in spreading tales of abuses as well - we
shouldn't be surprised when dubious stories get repeatedly circulated, and
we should be a bit more critical before accepting them.
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