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I think that using the term inter-imperialist rivalry and trying to bring
in the connotations circa 1914 and World War I misses the mark drastically.
The quality of life and purchase power within Germany as opposed to Great
Britain was a matter of equivalence. The poverty experienced by Russians to
this day because of the neoliberal pillage of the public sector after the
collapse of the USSR makes their purchase power and quality of life
significantly lower as compared to the Western neoliberal empire. This is
indicated further by the repeated statements in public by Putin over the
years. He has always tried to claim America as a partner and collaborator,
most obviously when he and Obama spoke at the UN on the same day several
years back. Suggesting contrary is flying in the face of demonstrable
matters regarding the Russians. They have a military that is nowhere near
as large as the combined forces of NATO and their invocation of Great
Russian nationalism within the right element of their voting population is
nothing in comparison to the strength that can be and is mustered by their
Western contemporaries when nationalism is invoked by someone like Michael


Message: 1
Date: Sat, 10 Feb 2018 19:57:19 +0000
From: Chris Slee <chris_w_s...@hotmail.com>
To: "marxism@lists.csbs.utah.edu" <marxism@lists.csbs.utah.edu>
Subject: [Marxism] Fw: The Assad regime: a response to Marcel Cartier

Content-Type: text/plain; charset="iso-8859-1"


In a recent article, Marcel Cartier denounces the Turkish invasion of Afrin
and calls for solidarity with Rojava....

I fully agree with Cartier's call for solidarity with Rojava revolution,
but I disagree with some other points in the article.

Cartier rightly condemns the Assad regime for oppressing the Kurds and
other ethnic minorities   But he gives the regime undue credit in some
other respects.

Cartier claims that Assad is popular with a large part of the population....

I believe this is overstating Assad's popularity.  It is true that many
Syrians, particularly religious minorities such as the Christians, support
Assad as the lesser evil compared to some of the Sunni-sectarian rebel
groups.  But that does not mean that they regard him as progressive.  The
lesser evil is still evil....

Cartier also gives Assad credit for being anti-imperialist....

It is true that Assad has in some ways defied US imperialism, particularly
by supporting Hezbollah in Lebanon.  But in other ways he has at times
collaborated with US imperialism - e.g. by torturing prisoners sent to
Syria by the CIA.

>From the point of view of the US ruling class, Assad is a less than ideal
ruler of Syria. He has long been allied with Russia and Iran....

No doubt the US would prefer to see a more consistently pro-Western
government in power in Syria.  When the rebellion started, the US talked of
replacing Assad, and supplied some aid to the rebels (though not enough for
them to win).

Since then, however, talk of replacing Assad has largely disappeared....

When Cartier talks about "the machinations of imperialism towards a
government that defied its diktat", he is referring to the actions of the
US and its allies.  But in my view Russia is now an imperialist power too.

Hence when we talk of imperialist intervention in Syria we should include
Russia as one of the intervening powers.  Because of inter-imperialist
rivalry, Russia may intervene in a different way than the US.

Russia's military aid to Assad in suppressing the rebels is a form of
imperialist intervention.

Russia has also intervened diplomatically, by hosting discussions between
the Assad regime and Turkey.  This has resulted in Turkish troops entering
Syrian territory without meeting any opposition from the Syrian armed
forces or the Russian air force.  First Turkey invaded the Jarablus area in
2016.  Now they are invading Afrin.  In both cases there appear to be
trade-offs.  Turkey has persuaded, pressured or ordered some of the rebel
groups it supports to withdraw from the battle front against Assad in order
to fight against Rojava.  This has helped Assad regain control over much of
the territory previously held by the rebels.

Best regards,

Andrew Stewart
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