CounterPunch supports the Floyd Rebellion and Black Lives Matter.
Please consider supporting an organization working on police accountability, additional resources on the movement and how you can get involved can be found here.


Self-Determination for Syria! U.S. Out Now!  

A furious bi-partisan warmongering outburst of opposition met President Trump’s mid-October announcement that U.S. troops were being withdrawn from Northeastern Syria. Engineered by the Democrats, and joined by the top spokespersons of the twin parties of war, racism and environmental destruction, they denounced Trump and passed an instant congressional resolution demanding that the estimated 1,000 U.S. troops remain in Syria.

In the name of “protecting our allies” – the Kurdish fighters organized in the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) – the Democrats, whose Obama-led eight-year regime change imperialist dismemberment efforts against Syria had failed, insisted that the Pentagon take yet another shot at the Syrian people. That 500,000 Syrians lost their lives in this U.S. imperialist-orchestrated horror, that half the population had been driven into internal or external exile and that the nation’s infrastructure was devastated, was not noted by the short-memoried corporate media. “We must remain in Syria,” they unanimously intoned, to protect our “friends,” and they added, to guarantee that these “friends” remain in Syria to guard the prisons wherein thousands of captured ISIS fighters and their families have been brutally incarcerated. Left to escape, according to this bi-partisan fear-mongering scenario, they were bound to transform a handful of alleged still-existing ISIS “sleeper cells” into yet another anti-U.S. army! Trump’s withdrawal notwithstanding, he and his shameless imperial predators are maneuvering to leave some 100 troops behind to guarantee U.S. corporate control of Syria’s rich oil fields and grainerys in the Northeast.

Trump sent his diplomatic entourage, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Vice President Mike Pense and special Syria envoy, James F. Jeffrey to do some arm-twisting, window-dressing political damage control, aimed at expressing his “concern” for protecting the Kurds against the almost immediately invading Turks in the Kurdish-occupied Rojava region. Few believed a word of what they said.

“This seems to be a lot of smoke and mirrors,” said Aaron Stein, author of “Turkey’s New Foreign Policy,” and director of the Middle East program at the Foreign Policy Research Institute. “It’s all based on the fictional notion that the U.S. has a say in a place where we withdrew our soldiers. The U.S. is irrelevant here.” Stein, of course, is dead wrong. The U.S. retains massive military forces in the region, including near instant capacities on land and in the Mediterranean and Gulf regions to launch bombs and missiles to Syria at will. Combine this with the continued infliction of deadly sanctions, a virtual embargo, drone attacks, secret Special Operations and “privatized army” efforts coupled with the U.S.-approved Israeli bombings of Syria and the U.S. war machine, while dealt a heavy blow by the Syrian Army and its allies, is far from silenced.

As a poor and oppressed nation, the Syrian government effectively exercised its right to self-determination when it sought the aid of Russia, Iran and the Lebanese-based forces of the Hezbollah in late 2015 to defend itself at a time when the U.S./NATO and the Gulf State monarchies organized, financed, trained and directed a “coalition” that devastated and occupied two-thirds of Syria. At that time, this U.S.-led coalition, through a series of conferences in Geneva and Riyadh, overseen by Obama’s Secretary of State John Kerry, literally planned the division of Syria in accord with U.S. imperialism’s dictates. Today, with the exception of the Northwestern province of Idlib, where U.S./NATO and Turkish-armed and protected forces remain, and in Northeastern Syria, where the previously-backed Kurdish militias of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) – associated with the Kurdish Workers’ Party-affiliated YPG (Peoples Protection Units) – controlled a considerable region, the previous U.S.-backed invaders, including ISIS and its affiliates, have been defeated.

Prior to the U.S. withdrawal the Kurds had established what they called a “feminist, ecological, horizontal, and stateless challenge to global capitalism” – the political-ideological anarchist-oriented self-description of the Kurdish Workers Party (PKK) and its Turkish-imprisoned leader (since 1999 with CIA assistance), Abdullah Ocalon.

Few serious observers believe, however, that U.S. imperialism could be a reliable partner in this anarchist-oriented “stateless challenge to global capitalism!” Indeed, for the past century and longer, oppressed and fractured by the imperialist powers, the Kurdish nation, has been divided and re-divided between five separate nations in the Middle East in the course of World War I, World War II and their aftermath. The recent spectacle of Kurdish generals, paid and financed by the U.S., denouncing Trump and demanding that the imperialist beast remain in Syria, was yet another tragic expression of desperate and oppressed people, seeing no alternative but to rely on the imperialist devil itself.

In the San Francisco Bay Area this untenable scenario was repeated in microcosm, when the Rojava Defense Coordination, organized some150 demonstrators at an October 22 rally where speakers demanded that the U.S. remain in Syria! California warhawk Senator Dianne Feinstein issued an accompanying October 22 statement opposing Trump’s withdrawal stating, “The Kurds have been holding 12,000 ISIS fighters in prison. Now, thousands of these ISIS fighters, including dozens of high-value ISIS detainees that were left behind by withdrawing U.S. troops, could end up back on the battlefield.”

Unlike all other forces in the pay of U.S. imperialism, however, the Kurds have taken their distance from all U.S.-backed conferences aimed at Syria’s division, instead maintaining contact with and avoiding military confrontations with the Syrian government throughout most of the U.S. war. These contacts aimed at negotiating greater forms of Kurdish autonomy within the existing state. The PKK-oriented Kurds have not demanded a separate Kurdish state in Syria.

Virtually immediately after the U.S. October withdrawal, the Kurds concluded negotiations with the Syrian government, with the latter rushing its armed forces to the Northeast to join with and defend the Kurds against the Turkish Army and its mis-named  Syrian opposition. The latter, previously dubbed the Free Syrian Army, since 2012 has been organized, financed and trained at the major U.S. military base in Turkey, from which literally tens of thousands of jihadists from some 100 countries have been funneled into Syria to pursue the U.S. regime change war.

Undoubtedly, the Kurdish fighters today see a rapprochement with the Syrian government as far preferable to their U.S.-contemplated role as ISIS prison guards.

History of U.S. wars in the Middle East 

The past half-century of U.S. wars and interventions have not been forgotten or forgiven by the people of the Middle East. The 1953 U.S. CIA-led coup removed Iran’s democratically-elected president, Muhammad Mossadegh and installed the murderous dictatorship of Shah Reza Pahlavi. When in 1979 the unprecedented mass mobilization of seven million in Teheran, perhaps the greatest in world history, removed the Shah’s torture regime and its hated CIA-trained security agency, SAVAK, the U.S. soon after secretly orchestrated and funded the 1980-88 Iran/Iraq war that took the lives of one million Iranians and 800,00 Iraqis. The U.S.-chose its ally at that juncture, Iraq’s Saddam Hussein, to lead that secret war against Iran. The ongoing U.S. war in Afghanistan, the longest in U.S. history, continues to ravage that nation. The U.S.-installed puppet government there is openly bypassed while U.S. officials negotiate with the Taliban over Afghanistan’s future. The U.S. “weapons of mass destruction” war against the subsequently demonized Saddam Hussein government took the lives of 1.5 million Iraqis and saw the U.S. install yet another corrupt, hated and exclusionary [of Sunni Muslims] regime.

The U.S./NATO dismemberment of Libya, under the invented pretext that President Gaddafi was about to murder 50,000 Benghazi protestors, left that nation a “failed state” replete with warring factions fighting over control of the major oil resources that U.S. corporations today dominate. The 2013 U.S.-backed General Abdel Fattah el Sisi coup in Egypt overthrew a democratically-elected government returning that nation to the control of the “deep state” associates of the previous Hosni Mubarak dictatorship. Essentially in pursuit oil, the resource whose continued use threatens the very existence of life on earth itself, the U.S. imperial plunderers press on.

Their defeat at the hands of the oppressed and exploited masses of the poor nations of the world – from Syria and the Middle East to Venezuela and Latin America and Africa can only represent a victory for all humankind and open the door wider than ever for native revolutionary forces who have won their stripe in opposing U.S. imperialist intervention to be in the forefront of building deeply-rooted mass revolutionary socialist parties fully capable of challenging the rule of capital itself.

The starting point in the U.S. and worldwide is the construction of broadly-based united front mass action mobilizations demanding U.S. Out Now! Hands off Syria!


More articles by:

Jeff Mackler is a staffwriter for Socialist Action. He can be reached at  socialist

Weekend Edition
June 05, 2020
Friday - Sunday
Jacob F. Lee – Matthew E. Stanley
Direct Action and the Rejection of Monumental History
Louis Proyect
Reflections on My COVID-19 Immunity
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Mad Bull, Lost Its Way
Stanley L. Cohen
Everywhere is War
Louis Yako
America Has Always Been Burning with Racism: Who is the Enemy?
Jefferson Morley
Showdown on 16th Street
Eve Ottenberg
Killing Workers (and Customers) – With No Liability
Peter Linebaugh
Say Their Names!
Melvin Goodman
Trump’s War on Democracy
Paul Street
Dear History Students
Lola Allen
How Has Bolivia’s de Facto Regime Taken Advantage of COVID-19 to Consolidate Its Power and Repress Political Rivals?
Jonathan Cook
As US protests Show, the Challenge is How to Rise Above the Violence Inherent in State Power
Alvaro Huerta
Police Abuse in America’s Barrios
Ron Jacobs
Generals Are Not the People’s Ally
Daniel Warner
Ramzy Baroud
‘Wolf Warrior Diplomacy’: Israel’s China Strategy in Peril
David Yearsley
Dam Nation and Woody Guthrie
Sam Husseini
The Barr Coup 
Richard C. Gross
Bunker Mentality
Pam Martens - Russ Martens
BlackRock is Bailing Out Its ETFs with Fed Money and Taxpayers Eating Losses; It’s Also the Sole Manager for $335 Billion of Federal Employees’ Retirement Funds
Marshall Auerback
The Battle Over Free Speech Online is a Volcano That’s Ready to Blow
David Rosen
Trump’s Election to Lose
Jack Rasmus
Confronting Institutional Racism
Joseph Natoli
Ubu Orange
Gary Olson
Jakarta: Force and Fraud at Home and Abroad. What’s Next?
Sister Karen M. Donahue
I’m Outraged by Trump’s Church Photo-Op
Jaelani Turner-Williams
Racism is a Public Health Crisis
Chuck Collins
As 42.6 Million Americans File for Unemployment, Billionaires Add Half a Trillion Dollars to Their Cumulative Wealth
Jill Richardson
It Doesn’t Matter Who Protested and Who “Rioted”
Richard Ward
A Matter of Focus
Colin Todhunter
Food and Agroecology: Coping with Future Shocks
Ariel Dorfman
Literature in Times of Turmoil
Russell Mokhiber
ICE Wants to Deport Marc Petitpierre to Switzerland
Liz Theoharis
Organizing the Rich or the Poor? Which America Will Be Ours After the Pandemic?
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Social Media Sucks for Reporting News
Denita Jones
Going Back to Work in a Pandemic
Tracey L. Rogers
A Tale of Two Americas
Paul Cantor
Thank You, Peaceful Protesters!
Susan Block
Sadistic Policing
Nicky Reid
Because Imperialists Rape: Anarcha-Feminism In the Ashes of the MeToo Era
Marilyn Bruya
Trump is the Looter to Worry About
Norman Solomon
Solidarity Includes Wearing a Mask at Protests
Kim C. Domenico
Misfit Redemption: Escape from the Cruelty of White Liberal Innocence
John Kendall Hawkins
The Coming Purge of Doppelgängers and the Palast Revolution
Stephen Cooper
America is Burning