The Militant (logo)  

Vol. 75/No. 31      September 5, 2011

Protesters in Syria
defy murderous regime
Workers and farmers across Syria continue their mobilizations for political rights, refusing to back down despite the deaths of some 2,000 people at the hands of the government of President Bashar al-Assad over the last five months. More than 350 civilians have been killed during the first three weeks of August, according to UN figures.

Thousands took to the streets August 19 in Deir al-Zour in eastern Syria, Daraa in the south, Latakia on the northwest coast, in Damascus suburbs, and elsewhere.

On August 22, a UN delegation sent to Homs with the regime’s agreement to “assess the need for food and medicine” was met by hundreds of protesters. “The people want the overthrow of the regime,” they chanted, and “We will never give up until we get our freedom.” Officials ordered the delegation to leave. Two people were later shot dead by government agents, according to the London Guardian.

On August 12 the government assaulted opposition strongholds in Latakia, the country’s main port. A central target was Ramleh, home to more than 10,000 Palestinians as well as other working people, many of them fishermen or laborers at the port. Residents’ reports of being fired on by gunboats, corroborated by witnesses, were denied by Syrian officials. Troops also used tanks and automatic weapons.

There are more than 460,000 Palestinians in Syria, mostly refugees from what is now Israel and their descendants. For decades the ruling Baath party has cynically proclaimed Syria a “fortress of resistance” for the Palestinians and the fight against imperialism. It kept up this pretense even as Syrian-backed forces attacked refugee camps in Beirut, Lebanon, in the 1970s and ’80s.

“We will not accept to be a bargaining chip for the Syrian regime,” Abu Ammar, a Palestinian refugee living in Yarmouk, a refugee camp in a Damascus suburb, told “I think most Palestinian refugees in Yarmouk now moved from being neutral to being on the side of the Syrian protesters.”

President Barack Obama, after months of calling on Assad to “advance a meaningful reform agenda,” issued a statement August 18 imposing stiff new sanctions and saying “the time has come for President Assad to step aside.”

Under pressure from Washington, regimes in the region are taking their distance from Assad. The rulers of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Bahrain recalled ambassadors to Damascus in August. Ankara, seeking to establish Turkey as the main bourgeois power in the region, is calling on Damascus to soften its stance. Tehran, also in the U.S. rulers’ gunsights, is backing Assad.
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Demonstrations shake Israel … along with illusions about it
Israel not exempt from class politics  
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