First, some thoughts on Rules of Engagement
One of the things being shaped in the Syrian conflict, as with Libya earlier, are rules of engagement for the class struggle. Make no mistake about it, all the regime's sectarian trash talking aside, the civil war in Syria is between the 1% and the 99%. Assad and his cronies, as with the Qaddafi's in Libya, represent a tiny ruling class that exploit the country, its people and its resources for their private benefit.
With the dawning of 2011, these countries, as was the case for the majority countries in North Africa and the Middle East, saw the rise of popular movements to complete the democratic transition that began a half century ago but had been put on hold by the establishment by their ruling classes of a variety of semi-feudal regimes in which a king or "president-for-life" held dictatorial powers.
In all of these countries, the popular uprisings were met with police violence that cost lives. In two of these countries, Libya and Syria, these popular movements were met by military violence. In both of these countries the popular movements took to armed self-defense that progressed to revolutionary war.
In the case of the Libyan conflict, the world was appalled that Qaddafi would use tanks to shell cities and war planes to bomb protests. Under the slogan of "Responsibility to Protect", the UN united, even Russia and China were on board, in saying NO to this type military violence against a civilian opposition. NATO created a "no-fly zone plus" that deprived Qaddafi of his air force and his heavy weapons. This effectively leveled the playing field for the people and they won. Because the world didn't allow Qaddafi to do what it is allowing Assad to do, they were able to put down the Qaddafi regime and even elect a new government, while their brothers and sisters in Syria continue to be slaughtered in ever growing numbers.
Much of the left in the US and around the world had fantasies about Brother Qaddafi so they saw the Arab Spring in Libya as an imperialist plot. They were thick in the "anti-interventionist" camp that wanted Qaddafi to be left alone to do to Libyans what Assad is doing to Syrians. They were so busy making fun of what they saw as just another hypocritical use of "Responsibility to Protect" that they seemed to over look the fact the the concept, that there are definite limits to which a government will be allowed to go in suppressing its own population before the world community will intervene, has a definite and important value to people everywhere.
This might also be called world community "rules of engagement." Action was authorized against Qaddafi because he was found to have violated them. But it seems that these "rules of engagement" have shifted frightfully far to the right in a very short time because Assad now does everyday what Qaddafi was only preparing to do. Nobody is yet taking serious measures to make him stop and even Democracy Now ignores the hundreds of Syrians slaughtered every day by the Syrian state repression machinery.
President Obama tells Assad that the use of "a whole bunch of chemical weapons" is his new red line. The world will not stop him from dropping cluster bombs on civilians or shelling his own cities. He continues to do this and much of the "left" cheers him on; Witness the pro-Assad flags at last weekend's anti-war protests.
That is because they lack an independent analysis of the situation and are so use to reacting to whatever the imperialists do that when the imperialists saw it in their interest, for a variety of exceptional reasons, to support the Libyan revolution, they opposed it. Now, in the case of Syria, they follow the same model and because the imperialists want to sound like they would like to help the people, they rush to oppose an intervention when the imperialists, now returning to normal form, are holding back and secretly hoping that the tyrant can maintain his position.
Frightful new "Rules of Engagement" are now being established with the complicity of much of the "left." It may be that the level of state violence that is now being tolerated in Syria may one day be applied to the protesters in Greece or Spain or anywhere else the authorities conclude sterner measures must be taken.
Many peoples may long rue the day it was said that "a whole bunch of chemical weapons" was the new red-line in a government's war against a popular uprising.
If the Assad regime has nothing else, it has a first rate propaganda machine, and so now it can be heard from pro-Assad mouthpieces on every mountain and even in the swamps how Assad is fighting foreign jhadist terrorists mercenariness being armed and financed by imperialists and oil sheiks. This is a 1% lie. The vast majority of the Free Syrian fighters are ex-SAA soldiers and Syrian activists that have taken up arms. Meet one of the newest members.
From The North Star:
First Female Allawite Officer Defects
Translation by the Syrian Freedom team:
I am colonel Zbeyda Al miki of the Syrian army from the sold “Golan”. I declare my defection from the traitorous Assad army.
As I am the first woman officer of the Allawi sect to defect, this is my message:
People of my country, people of my sect, the conflict in Syria is between the oppressor and the oppressed, between the people and the regime, which means that the conflict isn’t between sects and minorities.
But the regime is making the conflict sectarian to destroy the revolution.
Brothers in arms, fight for the victory of the people’s revolution, and provide the revolution with a national soul and the feeling of belonging to the nation, not to a sect, with the values of nationalism, not sectarianism.
Teach the people that the counties geography is not the geography of sects, and that belonging to the nation is to refuse all others attachments that interfere with national unity.
Teach and learn that sectarianism is a destructive, a defeat for the country, to pride and freedom, and is a victory for escalation and humiliating regime.
You should know that the Syrian revolution is for dignity, pride, equality, and citizenship. That is the national plan, as opposed to that of the criminal, sectarian regime.
Don’t be hit men for the regime. Remember Allah saying: the one who kills one person, is like one who kills all people, and the one who saves a life is like one who saves all lives.
Finally, I would like to thank all who helped me to defect from this criminal regime. I would like to thank my brothers in arms in the Free Syrian Army, Jund Allah battalion, with the coordination of the military council of Damascus and its outskirts. This is my identification.
MORE BREAKING NEWS: Seven Alawite military officers defect to Jordan, the first mass defection of Alawite officers from the regime since the Syrian uprising began!
I was certainly proven wrong in my speculation that Bashar al-Assad had been killed or was seriously injured in the July 18th Damascus explosion. After he went public again, I was won over to Stephine Lamy's alternate theory that Assad was laying low and staying out of site so that blame for the emmense violence would fall on the Syrian state and not him personally. She wrote me in a DKos message:
Assad comms strategy is very effective, he has managed to stay out of the limelight, thus deflecting any form of concentration of hate only on himself. Remember how angry people became after Saleh or Ghaddafi televised speeches?
By not showing himself, he is, in fact, hiding behind the whole regime - which in the long run is even more dangerous, as all Alawites will come to be seen as "evil".
The Damascus explosion that killed four of his top commanders was the first strike at the heart of his state repression machinery. His ability to stay out of sight and out of mind for a full month after that, while his violent repression of the opposition escalated, was, at the time, a sign of this strength at the time.
By the same logic, this accelerating need to show himself in public and even visit his front-line troops is a sign of his weakness. So is his more rampant use of violence against civilians, from his home demolitions in the face of Damascus's coming winter, to his non-stop shelling of Homs and his aerial assault on Aleppo.
Beneath what looks much like the "stalemate" we saw in Libya, slowly but surely he is losing this war and the Free Syrian Army is winning.
They are gaining more and more defectors from a wider strata of the Syrian Army, like the woman above or the men below:
Assad Army Unit Defects in Latakia - Joins Freedom Fighters
Many of those that remain in Assad's army have no will to fight and surrender easily when sent into battle, as with this group here:
100s of Assad soldiers captured in Kherbet Al Jouz, Idlib
As a result, and contrary to Assad's bluster, the Free Syrian Army is growing, developing as a better fighting force, organizing itself into larger and more effective fighting units and winning military successes. Here Reuters reports on the capture of an air defense base east of Aleppo and here SADA reports on how they are learning to govern liberated areas.
This is very good news because it is so important that they win because it Bashar al-Assad's violence succeeds in suppressing this popular rebellion, his victory will seek bloody repetitions around the world as ruling class after ruling class seeks to hang on to power like Assad is doing.
Here are my related diaries on Syria:
Two statements about Syria
Syria Today: New videos from the revolutionary war
Syrian Defector: Assad behind "terrorist" bombs
How Assad fights "terrorism" in Syria
REVISITED: FSA says it killed Russian General in Syria
Turkey attacks Syria
Truth Out: How Assad helped France kill Qaddafi
Panetta: Unilateral U.S. Military Intervention in Syria Would Be a Serious Mistake
BREAKING: 305 Syrians slaughtered in bloodiest day yet
Syria: Secret source of rebel arms revealed
BREAKING: Amnesty on Syria - Assad Regime guilty on indiscriminate slaughter
Syrian Revolution Digest shows "disgusting" photos!
Syria: The Killing Field the World is Learning to Live With
Barack Obama's Courtship of Bashar al-Assad
LIVE VIDEO: “World Silence is Killing #Syria” Rally in #DC
Free #Syria responds to Robert Fisk
UPDATED: #Assad: "#Syria doesn't need a green light!"
#Obama opposes French support for #Assad's opposition in #Syria
BREAKING: Amnesty site hacked, Assad propaganda posted
BREAKING: 630 Slaughtered in new massacre in Syria
Special message from Syrian children to Obama
Assad's Redline and Obama's Greenlight!
General Meade at Gettysburg
Tell US gov't to stop endangering Syrian activists
UPDATED: #Obama "green lights" #Assad's slaughter in #Syria
Syria: Turning Battlegrounds into Playgrounds
BREAKING: Bashar al-Assad is alive as deaths in Syria reach 25,000
The Left and the Arab Spring
Iran increasing its intervention in Syria
Syria: Images from the Battle of Aleppo
Fears grow of WMD attack in Syria
UPDATED: FSA says it killed Russian General in Syria
BREAKING: Syria releases new images of Bashar al- Assad | Are they fakes?
NOT BREAKING NEWS: Just another massacre in Syria
UPDATED: Syrian prime minister defects
Syria: FSA says Iranian pilgrims really Republican Guard
Syria: Aleppo under Siege!
BREAKING: UN votes to condemn Assad Regime as Reuters posts false story on Syria
BREAKING: Kofi Annan resigns as envoy to Syria
Syria: Bashar al-Assad not heard from on Armed Forces Day!
BREAKING: Senior Syrian diplomat to Armenia defects
BREAKING: Big Explosion hits #Damascus #Syria
UPDATED: Syria's Charge D'Affaires Quits London Post
BREAKING: Ground assault on Aleppo begins!
BREAKING: Protests across Syria in spite of Assad regime violence
ALEPPO: Step outside the Matrix and witness the Horror
UPDATED: US fears massacre in #Aleppo, #Syria
BREAKING: Reports of clashes between Jordan Army & Assad's Syrian army
BRAKING: Obama stops Putin from re-arming Assad in Syria
Syria: Foreign meddling increases as crisis builds
BREAKING: Aleppo, Syria bombed with fighter jets
BREAKING: Syria issues a correction, it has no WMD to use
BREAKING: Arab League asks Assad to step down!
Bashar al-Assad: New images released as slaughter continues in Syria
no blood for oil
BREAKING: Activists report toxic gas attack in Deir ez-Zor, Syria
Glenn Greenwald sees Islamist Terrorism as main issue in Syria
Will Syria's Assad make a chemical attack in Damascus on Saturday?
BREAKING: I know where Syria's President Bashar al-Assad is!
BREAKING: Massive Fire near #Assad's Presidential Palace in #Damascus, #Syria
BREAKING: Is Syria's Bashar al-Assad dead or dying?
BREAKING: Damascus explosion kills Defense Minister, other key figures
The battle for Damascus is coming
BREAKING: General Strike in Damascus
BREAKING: Intense fighting reported in Damascus now!
BREAKING: Syrian defector spills beans as important new defection reported.
Does Syria's Assad have something on Kofi Annan?
Tremseh Massacre in Syria: What we know
BREAKING: ~227 reported massacred by Assad's forces in Tremseh, Syria today!
Syria: Is Assad regime on the verge of collapse?
BREAKING: Russian Warships reported in Syria
BREAKING: #Russia changing on #Assad but not as fast as conditions in #Syria
UN Observers say violence in Syria is ‘Unprecedented’
BREAKING: Defection of major Assad insider reported in Syria
BREAKING: WikiLeaks releases 2.4 million #Syria emails
When did "Never Again" become "Whenever?" | #Douma
BREAKING: Incredible mass rally in Aleppo, Syria today!
BREAKING: HRW releases torture report on Syria
BREAKING: Syrian General defects with 293 to Turkey
BREAKING: Items not in the MSM on Syria
My response to Phyllis Bennis: Where is the non-violent opposition in Syria?
BREAKING: Syrian Air Force attacks Douma, 10m from Damascus, thousands flee
BREAKING: As Syria Burns, UN Blows More Smoke
BREAKING: Kofi Annan to propose Syrian unity gov't sans Assad!
BREAKING: Douma, Syria under massive attack, another massacre feared
BREAKING: Another mass defection from Syrian army
BREAKING: #NATO says No War in #Syria shoot down of #Turkey jet
NATO meetup tomorrow as more defect from Syria
BREAKING: Turkey calls for NATO consult on downing of jet by Syria
BREAKING: Senior Syrian Officers Defect
UPDATED: Russia reported to be preparing to evacuate from Syria
BREAKING: Syria fighter pilot defects
BREAKING: Britain stops Russian ship carrying attack helicopters for Syria
BREAKING: Russian troops headed to Syria
Qaddafi forces Strike Back in Libya
BREAKING: UN suspends mission in Syria
Libya & Syria - two videos - no comment
BREAKING: Russia denies supplying Syria with NEW attack helicopters
Syrian people rise up against the massacre
Another "Houla style" massacre in Syria
Fake Houla Massacre Photo: Was the BBC set up?
Idlib, Syria protest today on anniversary of Kent State killings
BREAKING: Massive protests in Syria following Friday pray
Syria is bleeding
Syria: Ceasefire faltering as mass protests breakout