********************  POSTING RULES & NOTES  ********************
#1 YOU MUST clip all extraneous text when replying to a message.
#2 This mail-list, like most, is publicly & permanently archived.
#3 Subscribe and post under an alias if #2 is a concern.

---Original Message----- From: Louis Proyect via Marxism

Frankly, human rights abuses are not uppermost on my mind in a situation
where violence has become so generalized. There were human rights abuses
by Sandinista soldiers against Miskitos, while the Red Army was
positively barbaric as it swept westward against Hitler in 1945 ...
one can not be exactly sure what happens on the battlefield in the fog of war

Exactly. On the basis of what we know about the big picture, however, we can distinguish two sides in terms of the sheer level of human rights abuse:

1. The Assad regime, responsible for some 95% of all killing in Syria, and even higher if we talking specifics such as torturing to death etc; and, at the same level in terms of the totalitarian nature of its barbarity, the Islamic State, though in terms of quantity only a midget in comparison with the regime.

2. All those forces fighting both, in which category I include the FSA, the Islamist brigades, the YPG/SDF, and, perhaps controversially for some, Nusra/JFS. All commit a certain level of human rights abuse, as would be expected in such a barbaric battlefield against such violently terroristic regimes, in the same way as does Hamas against a similarly all-encompassing violent oppressor in the Zionist regime; and the list could go on.

Nick on the other hand is doing great sleight of the hand stuff when, responding to my point that the report clears the YPG/SDF of *systematic* ethnic cleansing but does not clear it of various crimes, he says I am "keen to imply this is of a piece with the abuses by other forces", and Nick describes these "other forces" as "both the regime and some rebels", ie, making Nick keen to imply the crimes of "some rebels" are "of a piece" with the regime!!!!! He does this by talking of "the numerous instances of torture, summary execution, bombing of civilians including with chlorine and cluster bombs etc", by both!

Of course there was no use of "chlorine or cluster bombs" by any rebels in this report (and the entirely false accusation in a previous Amnesty report that chlorine was sued against Sheikh Maqsud was based on one photo with some yellow dye smudged on it), whereas they are used on a massive scale by the regime, alongside napalm, white phosphorus, vacuum bombs, barrel bobs, bunker busters, ballistic missiles etc, yet Nick seeks to lump the rebels together with this regime. The "numerous instances" of torture in this report by "some rebels" included, just as with the YPG, *one* instance, allegedly in Aleppo of some one who tried to flee west. But Nick lumps this together with the regime which has been accused by the UN of torturing people to death in its dungeons at a level which amounts to "extermination," and there is copious evidence of at least tens of thousands tortured to death. Don't you think the *one* case of rebel torture is more "of a piece" with the one case of YPG torture?As for Nick's "summary executions", well wow! Here the report fucks up royally, and perhaps Nick can be excused for not reading the fine print, because the huge case of "summary execution" by "rebels" in this report was none other than the horrific slaughter of 128 *FSA captives* by the ISIS-aligned bandit group Liwa al-Aqsa, which the report mistakenly puts in under rebel crimes rather than ISIS crimes even though rebels were the victims.

So yes Nick I do put the crime of various rebel groups, including the YPG, on a par. Especially given *context* as you are keen to discuss. Nick notes that "The context of a militia in a poor, blockaded statelet should be taken into account" without seeing the apparent irony of shoving together rebels and regime - as if the Rojava statelet, free of regime bombing for the whole war, and under the permanent protection of the US airforce, can be compared "context-wise" with the situation of all the areas controlled by the rebels, al of which make Gaza look like a picnic except at the most intense moments of Zionist genocidal terror (the various 5-6 week "operations" which are akin the the last 6 years in Syria). Yes the context of various poor blockaded statelets being barrel-bombed into oblivion for years on end might be expected to produce more human rights abuse than in the relative calm and peaceful conditions in Rojava. Yet not much more according to the report.

Actually the worst rebel abuses are the firing of "indirect fire artillery systems, including improvised, locally manufactured “Omar” rockets" at targets in Assad-controlled cities (eg West Aleppo etc) which kill civilians. While virtually all pro-revolution activists and Syrian revolutionary civil society organisations condemn these attacks, again, what doe we expect in a brutal war in which 99% of the slaughter of civilians in these theatres of war is by the regime's warplanes and missiles of people in the rebel-controlled areas (eg former east Aleppo). Yes, in a war, armies shoot back, in the same way as Hamas and other Palestinian fighters shoot similarly improvised inaccurate rockets at towns in southern Israel, or as Hezbollah (back in ancient history when it was a resistance group) similarly did to Israeli civilians during Israel's onslaught in 2006. The more interesting issue is why do the rebels use these inaccurate improvised rockets made in back yard workshops? I guess because they are not being provided any useful military equipment by all the outside parties who everyone accuses of arming them.

Is the YPG similarly accused of firing rockets which kill civilians in ISIS-held towns which they are besieging? Well, no, because the US air-force does it for them. So, unmentioned in the report were the 200 + civilians slaughtered by the US air-force during the US-YPG siege of Manbij.

Nick claims I am wrong that the report only covers the period since mid-2016. Actually, a closer look suggests not really - sure, on the question of *systematic ethnic cleansing* the report goes back and says there is no evidence of that at any period going back several years. But the concrete violations it notes are very specifically only this period: all mentions of events before this period were only made when directly relevant to this period (eg, the siege of Manbij was early 2016, but the report discussed the issue of many displaced still not able to return now). In this period alone, the report notes further instances of local populations forcibly expelled under threats of violence of from towns who are still unable to return, destruction of property of expellees, forced conscription of minors (which it has in common with JFS), the torture case etc. If we went back over several years, I think Nick is well aware there would be much more.

Nick also avoids the issue of calling Gutman a "cruise missile leftist" without evidence (he says "on Serbia", re which I assume he is referring to Gutman's role in exposing the death camps in Bosnia in 1992, which the Bush administration insisted didn't exist, but I'm not specifically aware of him advocating cruise missiles) while simply brushing aside the fact that in Syria it is the YPG above all that is allied most directly, most massively, most systematically, with every aspect of the US intervention, simply saying "completely irrelevant is Mike aspersions about the PYD-led movement's tactical alliance with the US." I don't condemn the YPG/SDF for this as such, although I think there is a big difference between emergency defence (as in Kobani in late 2014) and a long-term systematic alliance between the YPG and the US for offensive operations. The US air-force is slaughtering civilians and the ground force it is directly supporting is the YPG/SDF. On the ground, of course I still prefer a YPG/SDF victory when it is fighting a regime like ISIS, despite the US alliance; but that's because I don't bend to the mechanical BS "anti-imperialist" logic of putting a plus everywhere the US puts a minus, and using rhetoric like "cruise missile leftist" against people you don't like for no good reason.

But facts are facts: today, "cruise missile leftists" and right-interventionists would be arguing for exactly what the US is doing with the YPG/SDF and probably arguing for more of it. If that gets in the way of some ideological obsession about being "anti-imperialist" and ultra-pro-Rojava at the same time, well sorry facts get in the way. Not my problem. Let's try this little test Nick and other SA comrades: If the US was using systematically using its air-force the last 2.5 years in support of the FSA against the Assad regime, and sending its special forces to embed with the FSA, and setting up military bases in FSA-controlled regions, and some leftists were supporting this, would you call them "cruise missile leftists" and would you support the FSA or would you condemn them as "imperialist proxies"?
Full posting guidelines at: http://www.marxmail.org/sub.htm
Set your options at: 

Reply via email to