Author: Hanna Batatu.
Source: Middle East Journal, Vol. 35, No. 3. This essay is a revised version of a talk given at the Center for Middle Eastern Studies, Harvard University, on April 11, 1979.
At the heart of Syria’s regime stands a cluster of military officers. They hold in their hands the crucial threads of power. This much is obvious. Their common military profession, however, does not explain why they cling together and act in concert. Far more significant in this connection is the fact that the ruling element consists at its core of a close kinship group which draws strength simultaneously, but in decreasing intensity, from a tribe, a sect-class, and an ecologic-cultural division of the people.
Rifat and Hafez al-Assad.
How should supporters of the democratic revolution understand the Islamist trends that have emerged as part and parcel of the Arab Spring upheavals?
Are they friends of the revolution or enemies of the people?
What class trends do they represent? Continue reading
Washington suspended its paltry non-lethal aid to the Free Syrian Army’s (FSA) Supreme Military Council (SMC) led by General Salim Idris after falsely accusing the newly-formed Islamic Front of seizing FSA warehouses at the Bab al-Hawa crossing on the Turkish border right before making yet another inelegant about face on Syria policy. Now, Washington says it is open to working with the Islamic Front but insists, “we want our stuff back.”
“To the victors go the spoils” is evidently not something Washington is familiar with. Continue reading
The above interview with South African socialist Patrick Bond is a good counterpoint to some of the facile criticism of Nelson Mandela’s post-apartheid economic policies coming from a few of my socialist Facebook friends and it illustrates points about the Marxist understanding of democratic revolution that (believe it or not) are relevant to Syria.
Not everyone sporting a beard is a salafi.
Although the Syrian revolution is a bourgeois-democratic revolution, it does not conform to the 1848 pattern that Marx and Engels were most familiar with and experienced first-hand: bourgeois liberals, fearing the nascent but still immature proletarian movement, become irresolute and half-hearted in the struggle against counter-revolution and pave the way for the revolution’s defeat. Continue reading