Don’t Be Surprised, They’ll Declare Their Loyalty to the West and Hostility to Astana!
The term “fictitious dualisms” has been part of the People’s Will Party’s rhetoric since 2005-2006, that is, precisely the period in which the prospects for a direct US invasion of Syria had reached their peak.
At that time, opposition movements, such as the “Damascus Declaration” (within which formed the basic nucleus of a large number of the current opposition groups, especially those that incited violence and sectarianism, and solicited (and still does) external intervention) and, before that, the Damascus Spring had become active temporarily and for a short period.
What was interesting at the time, is that the general democratic discourse (its importance notwithstanding) was a prevailing and common discourse among the forces and personalities that were involved in that activeness, in parallel with complete absence of the socio-economic and even the national aspect (with a few exceptions of patriotic opponents whose intentions cannot be questioned). Furthermore, many forces under the label of “opposition” were openly and to an extreme pro the so-called free market economy (it is possible in this context, for example, to go back to the declared program of the Muslim Brotherhood in 2005), and implicitly were champions of an economic pattern closely tied to the West and extremely subordinated thereto.
The Opposition and Distribution of Wealth
In concrete terms, what has been applied on the ground, as a socio-economic program, is precisely the program called for by the greater part of the “Damascus Declaration.” In other words, a free market economy, but under a more disingenuous name – the “social market economy” – which, during the five-year period 2005-2009 produced an increase in the poverty rate from 30% to 44% among Syrians, which became the broad foundation for the 2011 eruption.
The pattern of wealth distribution in any country, linked to the applicable socio-economic model, is the core of any political system that governs the country in question. The interests of the various economic groups within society are always and forever the essence of the issue, as long as humanity lives in a class-based society. Sectarian, national, religious, ideological, etc. expressions are only secondary expressions whose primary goal is to mislead the fundamental truth of the issue of the distribution of wealth.
In more concrete terms, the wealth that was produced annually during the first decade of the century, according to government statistics, was distributed as follows: 75% go into the pockets of 20% of Syrians, and 25% to the people, i.e. to the remaining 80%.
This distribution of wealth presupposes an unjust and oppressive regime that prevents people from objecting to its injustice and oppression. Therefore, whoever raises the slogan of the free market and the plundering and unequal relations that are open to the West, implicitly wants to preserve the same unjust distribution and repression, and therefore it does not oppose the existing wealth distribution system, that is, it does not oppose the existing regime, but only opposes the existing authority. And why do they oppose the authority? Because they want a share of the plundering, or all of it.
Thus, there are two types of opposition: opposition to authority, and opposition to an entire system, including the authority. The opposition to authority agrees in almost everything with the authority but disagrees with it on the distribution of the plundering. On the other hand, the opposition that radically opposes the regime is the opposition that adheres to defending the interests of the 90% or more of Syrians, opposes both the regime and the opposition to the authority, that is, those who defend the interests of the 10% or less.
As it is unreasonable for the two sides to declare that their rivalry stems from narrow and selfish interests, which is a fight over the plundering of the 90%, it has always been crucial to highlight all sorts of conflicts and secondary contradictions – sectarian, national, religious, tribal, etc. – precisely to divide and disperse the plundered 90% to achieve two goals. The first goal is for both plundering sides (the authority and the opposition to the authority) to use part of the plundered people confront the other plundered part, as an instrument to possess or share the plundering.
As for the second and more important goal, it is to prevent the unification of the 90%, because that would mean a disaster for the authority and its opposition, because it means turning the distribution of wealth upside down, and the union of the plundered against their plunderers. In a nutshell, it means a radical and comprehensive change of the regime, for the benefit of all Syrians, and not a superficial and deceptive formal change of the Tunisian or Egyptian style.
The aforementioned, which was not tangible enough for the plundered Syrian masses, is clearer today than ever before. The extremists in the regime and the opposition, which represent the political facade of the class that is plundering and coveting plundering, intersect in their public stances on a daily basis, and in all the major dossiers, and this intersection is very exposed. Hereinafter are just some examples.
Before 2013, the war-drums-banging rhetoric was predominant among the extremists on both sides, which was represented by the slogans of “decisiveness” (as in resolving matters militarily) and “toppling” (an in toppling the regime). This kind of rhetoric, although still continues in one way or another, began with deceptive and very slow acclimation, starting from the Geneva 2012 Communiqué. At the time, there was no clear position from the regime side, but several semi-official positions emerged rejecting it, and on the opposition side it was completely rejected for the next two years.
When the Geneva Conference was held in 2014, the two extremist sides had a spectacular duel, which led to the failure of the conference and the safe return to the “square” one. The same scenario was repeated with the issuance of UNSCR 2254 at the end of 2015, and then with the Sochi Conference and the Constitutional Committee, but with some modifications to the tactics.
In terms of the “opposition”, it stood and still is against the Astana track, openly in the beginning and then ranging between openly and secretly. Regarding the regime, the Astana track was formally supported, but the extremists have always worked against it, secretly and openly as well.
Even the issue of restoring relations with Arab and European countries turned into haggling not aimed at breaking the siege on Syria and its people, but rather into a tool of provocation directed against Astana, in the hope of sabotaging the bilateral relations among the three guarantors, with the overall goal of trying to weaken the entire track, perchance a tense balance is maintained between the Astana group and the Western Small Group, so that the crisis remains, the attrition remains, and change is pushed back and delayed.
The Final Phase
As the political solution approaches, the size of the intersections between the extremist forces, which reject any change that does not contribute to the same unfair distribution of wealth and the economic dependency on the West, becomes greater. Today we can say that the fictitious dualisms, which have always been hiding behind specific international alignments, are forced to announce their true international alignments.
It will not come as a surprise at all to see the extremists within both the regime and the opposition increasingly declare (and they have already begun to declare) their loyalty to the West, and their hostility to Russia and the Astana process. In the end, this is very good, as the interests of 90% of Syrians intersect with the interests of the rising international powers, and with the new international balance in which the US will in particular, and the West’s more generally, is shattered.