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June 24, 2014
Phyllis Bennis actually said this on Democracy Now Tuesday:
In Syria, both countries [Iran and the United States] have an interest in tamping down the violence, even though they have differences over what the real threat might be. Iran, in Syria, is still supporting the Syrian regime; the U.S., of course, opposes the Syrian regime. But both Iran and the United States say that they are against ISIS, I-S-I-S, the leading force in Syria that is opposed to the Syrian regime. So, the U.S. and Iran, in that context, are on the same side.This is another good example of how those in the "anti-imperialist" camp twist reality to fit their twisted politics. Phyllis Bennis makes two, shall we say, dubious claims in the above statement 1) Iran is interested in tamping down the violence in Syria, and 2) ISIS is the leading force that is opposes the Syrian regime.
These two statements represent a break from reality that is so serve that I really don't know where to begin except to say they illustrate why it is so hard to build unity or even carry on a rational conversation with these "anti-imperialist" neighbors, but let me at least try.
If "tamping down the violence" means to Phyllis Bennis destroying any movement for democracy in Syria, slaughtering anyone who opposed the Assad regime so that there is no longer any armed resistance, and bringing the violence back to were it was for most of 40 years, through arbitrary arrests, torture, rape and murder in Assad's detention centers, then she may be able to make the argument that both the Assad regime and its Iranian backers are interested in "tamping down the violence," because after three years and 160,000 of his people's lives it should be clear to even a moron that Bashar al-Assad would rather take that road to "peace" than give up his "presidency."
If on the other hand, one wishes for the Syrian people and the whole region, the peace that comes with justice, then we must acknowledge that Iran is one of the greatest purveyor of violence in this conflict. Second only to Russia, it has enabled Assad's carnage with political, economic and military support. It is first in putting foreign "boots on the ground" in Syria. It has its own Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps fighting for Assad in Syria, and it has, let us say, "encouraged" both Hezbullah and Iraqi Shiite militias to be Assad's shock troops. Those forces don't exactly have a reputation for "tamping down the violence." As a matter of fact, it has been widely reported for over a year now that Iranians are pretty much peopling and running the Syrian state. Phyllis Bennis suggests that Iran has an interest in "tamping down the violence" in Syria, but that's not what the Iranians say. They say their future is joined at the hip with the continuation of the Assad regime. In other words they say what the other regime supporters say "Bashar al-Assad or we burn the country." I'm sure Phyllis Bennis knows that. Why else the "tamping down" metaphor?
So much for her not so veiled support for Bashar al-Assad and the Iranians. Shall we now turn to her attack on the Syrian Revolution? The view that all of Assad's armed opposition are Islamic jihadists is also an Assad regime talking point but ISIS is definitely not "the leading force" in Syria.
I know there is a peculiar definition of "the leading force" among some on the Left that allows them to think a small group can be "the leading force" regardless of its size or disconnect from the mass struggle because they have the "right" ideology. If Phyllis Bennis thinks ISIS is leading this struggle ideologically, she must also see the struggle to overthrow the Assad dictatorship as a reactionary counterrevolution.
But as a practical matter there is no way ISIS has been leading this revolution. First it is formally only about a year old, it has a relatively small number of fighters and they haven't been fighting the Assad regime. They have been fighting the Free Syrian Army, the Islamic Front, even Jabhat al Nusra, in fact every rebel group that the mind of Phyllis Bennis has them leading. Also the National Coalition of Syrian Revolution and Opposition Forces issued a memo on 10 February 2014 titled "ISIS & the Assad Regime: From Marriage of Convenience to Partnership" in which they said:
Since the FSA declared war on this group on 3rd January 2014 and took over many of their bases, significant evidence has been uncovered which has confirmed circulating testimony and rumors about the links between the regime and ISIS.So there's that.
This memo is just a small sample of testimony from FSA fighters that describe events on the ground where regime forces have been protecting and assisting this group. Accounts go further, saying that regime forces are intimately intertwined with this group, whose objectives are one and the same: to destroy moderate Opposition forces and establish control over as much of Syria as possible.
As for her assertion that "the U.S., of course, opposes the Syrian regime," I have already dealt with that at length:
How Obama has supported Assad's gas murder always
Obama's Real Syria Policy: Endless War
The Courtship Continues: Obama stopped French strike on Assad
The Courtship Continues: Obama's New Gift to Assad
How Obama Helped Assad Kill with Poison Gas in Syria
Win-Win for Assad as Obama Response to CW Mass Murder Put on Hold
Obama Denied Gas Masks to Assad's Victims
Obama's Dilemma and Assad's Opportunity
Barack Obama's Courtship of Bashar al-Assad
Barack Obama's Courtship of Bashar al-Assad Exposed!
Obama "green lights" Assad's slaughter in Syria
Assad's Redline and Obama's Greenlight!
Chemical weapons use in Syria, Has Obama's red-line has been crossed?
AP weighs in on Obama's Green Light for Assad's slaughter in Syria
Syria: Obama's moves Assad's "red line" back as SOHR reports 42,000 dead!
SecState John Kerry and his "dear friend" Bashar al-Assad
How Obama's 'No MANPADS for you' policy in Syria is backfiring
More thoughts on Obama's 'No MANPADS for you!' policy
Obama: Did the CIA betray Assad's opposition in Syria?
Obama planning drone strikes against Assad's opposition in Syria
How Obama helps Assad: US tried to start war between FSA & al Nusra Front