Whither Syria, the FSA, and the Islamicists?

by Brian Slocums on August 2, 2012

There is an excellent story by Ghaith Abdul-Ahad in the July 31 Guardian.

The conspiracy theorists will latch on to this because it confirms the presence of jihadist forces (“al Qaeda”) in Syria. This of course has never really been in dispute – the question is what role do they play?

Abdul-Ahad’s article now gives us a reasonably credible picture: they are a small and for the most part recently arrived element in the Syrian rebel forces; but they are acquiring some military weight and there is the beginning of some cross-over between these groups and existing Free Syrian Army (FSA) insurgents. Nevertheless, the wider Syrian opposition (including other groups in the FSA) are anxious about their influence and do not share their political views.

I think this might be an appropriate moment to try and deepen  our understanding of the Syrian situation, think about what issues this unfolding struggle may raise – both for the Syrian people and those who support their struggle from afar – and discuss what our response to these various scenarios should be.

I write this in the spirit of someone who has a couple of  clear political parameters – the current agony in Syria is the responsibility of the Assad regime and its backers; and the resolution of this situation (if one is possible) depends on the eventual overthrow of that  regime by popular forces.

But beyond that I find myself in a terrain of confusion, complexity, and unattractive alternatives.

Let me try and set out some of my questions and concerns.

  1. Sections of the western press, reflecting the views of the FSA forces are talking of Aleppo as “the decisive battle for the rebels”. But I’m not so sure. I don’t fully understand why the FSA has shifted over the past two weeks from what was an increasingly effective guerrilla struggle, waged in close association with the civilian opposition, to this militarised “war of position” in the cities. It strikes me as a serious mistake: and I don’t know if its stems from strategic naiveté on the part of the FSA or something else going on within opposition ranks. It looks to me as if Syria is moving into a Libya/Misrata type situation, where rebel forces hold an important built-up area while government forces conduct punitive operations with heavy weaponry (and aerial attacks).
  2. U.S. policy seems to be verging on the incoherent: Secretary of State Clinton in her press conferencelast week seemed to invite the Syrian opposition to set up a “safe haven” in territory it controls, and then went on to sketch out a fantasy program for a future opposition government, with no indication of how they would get from the first place to the second.

    Jourat Al-Shuyah neighborhood, Homs

  3. The FSA has also been talking of creating a “safe haven” (could it be that its current strategy has been forged in response to U.S. and Syrian National Council  encouragement of this objective?). But even if it could ensure the security of such a zone (doubtful) it looks more like a formula for long-term stalemate than “political transition”.
  4. What effect has this militarisation of the conflict had on the civilian opposition? It has certainly marginalised them in the short-term. The Syrian Revolution General Commission (reportedly the main coordinating bod for the grassroots) is quoted today  in the UK Telegraph, so that suggests they are still in business. What possibility is there that they will re-emerge once the military phase of the conflict is over?
  5. What are the consequences of the increasing jihadi influence? This is a worrying development, and while they are and will remain a relatively small minority within the opposition forces, their presence can contribute adversely to the sectarian climate that is already growing up in the conflict and sow considerable disruption in the post Ghaith Abdul-Ahad’s article makes it clear what the source of their influence is: their greater military discipline, the weapons they bring in, and, in particular their ability to help redress the imbalance in firepower between the FSA and the Syrian army by deploying their explosives skills. Is this a case for advocating  the provision of heavier weaponry to the FSA (thus far denied to them) and thereby lessening their dependence on foreign fighters?
  6. What is happening within the regime? Its my impression that Assad has pretty much disappeared from public view. There are confirmed reports that his officials in the Kurdish regions have simply handed the administration over to the Kurdish opposition (perhaps on the understanding that they keep out of the wider struggle). And there are reports that fighting in Aleppo are being waged on his behalf by armed semi-criminal groups – so what’s happened to his regular ground forces?

Answers on the back of a postcard, please!

No, seriously these are the questions that are going to be keeping me up nights for the duration (and probably beyond). I’d be keen for this to be a collective enterprise, and I’m happy to engage with people who may make different political assessments and judgments to me, provided that they know what a fact looks like and are capable of rational thought.

Brian Slocums is a retired social scientist and was a militant in the Canadian and British Trotskyist movement over many years. He is now politically unaffiliated but retains a firm commitment to socialist values, while accepting the need to rethink the means through which they can best be realized.

{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

Arthur August 2, 2012 at 3:54 am

Ok, I’ll bite. Like Brian I have no expertize on Syria and can only speculate but here are my speculations on above numbered points – as a preliminary to arguing that we should not focus on such issues but on helping mobilize for immediate destruction of regime air force and grounding of helicopter gunships by US air power.

My guess is:

1. Aleppo would be decisive if they can hold it as it would dominate a region extending to Turkish border which could be given “protection” and both humanitarian and military supplies like Benghazi. As far as I can make out FSA is still basically a guerilla force with very little capability for mobile warfare, concentration of forces etc. So retreat from Aleppo would not necessarily be a decisive defeat for FSA.

2. US policy is often incoherent but nearly always appears so even when it isn’t. US is committed to rebel victory but wants to minimize expenditure of US political capital, blood and treasure. Democrat administration needs to appear incoherent about this since a coherent account would require admitting that their hostility to the previous administrations policy of “region change” was bullshit. The route from “safe haven” to government seems fairly straight forward. If there is a safe haven you can (and must) organize government functions which is very different from being a guerilla force constantly on the move and under threat.

3. Some of the regime massacres appear to be “rounding out” Alawi areas into a contiguous region without Sunni enclaves, which suggests the possibility of a long term hold out in those areas. But I wouldn’t call losing Damascus a “stalemate” and losing Aleppo would be a very big step towards losing Damascus.

4. Since the regime started shooting unarmed demonstrators the civilian opposition has had no option but to merge with the armed opposition. I get the impression the FSA exaggerates the proportion of its forces that came over from the regime army and they are mostly civilians learning to fight while fighting. They have been going for more than a year so they are becoming more “military”. I don’t see any problem establishing civilian leadership after military victory, but it would be surprising if the civilians who took up arms had less influence than those who didn’t. The whole premise of the revolution is that they want democracy not a military dictatorship.

5. Jihadis are a major threat. They need to be crushed rapidly to reduce the danger of sectarian massacres. Delays will result in greater bitterness and long term bloodshed. Their strategy in Iraq was mass murder of Shia with the aim of provoking reprisals against Sunnis to force Sunnis to fight on their side. They will certainly go for mass murder of Alawi and Christians in Syria.

6. I haven’t checked out Kurdish reports (which should be feasible). One possibility is that regime wants to complicate Turkish intervention by presenting a “PKK threat” to Turkey. Raising PKK flags on both sides of Turkish border seems provocative. I would hope that other Kurdish forces assert themselves and join the revolution.

7. Now I don’t think we should be having sleepless nights over any of the above. Even if we could know what is really going on, it wouldn’t make any difference. We do don’t have any say, nor any possibility of a say in what happens in Syria.

8. We do have a slight possibility of influencing US public opinion. Rather small, but out of all proportion to numbers precisely because the stereotype of “leftists opposing US military intervention” is so dominant.

9. By clamouring for immediate destruction of regime air force by US air power we can help speed that up by demobilizing opposition from liberal Democrats etc. That’s all we really need to know.

10. I’m assuming it is obvious that actually destroying the regime’s air superiority would be significantly more helpful than denouncing the Russians for vetoing such action. It will be harder for people in the administration to hide behind the Russsian veto as an excuse for inaction if they are being publicly shamed from all ends of the spectrum. Helping it happen sooner rather than later would be a real contribution. Forming opinions about what is and what should be happening in Syria would not be a real contribution.


Pham Binh of Occupy Wall Street, Class War Camp August 2, 2012 at 11:43 am

My guesses:

1. “I don’t fully understand why the FSA has shifted over the past two weeks from what was an increasingly effective guerrilla struggle, waged in close association with the civilian opposition, to this militarised ‘war of position’ in the cities.”

They made a final push to seize Damascus and Aleppo after the big bombing that killed the top regime figures and either killed or seriously injured Assad (see Claiborne’s piece on this: http://www.dailykos.com/story/2012/08/01/1115675/-Syria-Bashar-al-Assad-not-heard-from-on-Armed-Forces-Day). They mistakenly thought it was the final battle and that the regime would soon be decapitated. Furthermore, by standing and fighting in these two urban areas, they forced Assad to pull his forces from the Golan Heights and other border areas, ceding them to FSA control. Forcing them to fight in the big cities will provide much needed relief for the more remote border areas and allow them to get aid and supplies from neighboring countries.

2. “U.S. policy seems to be verging on the incoherent”. How so? The U.S. is giving the FSA just enough aid to survive but not win outright: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/01/obama-secret-syria-order_n_1730712.html?ref=topbar This makes sense because the U.S. historically has always preferred predictable strongmen to raucous democracies. The situation for them is fraught with dangers and unknowns and so they’ve adopted a conservative approach to aiding (or rather, bleeding) the revolution.

3. If the FSA maintains control of the borders for any length of time that is a big win! It’s liberated territory that can form the base of operations, resupply, reorganization, and so on. It also allows them to control the economy in those areas. From what I gather, smuggling from Turkey is a big source of revenue for Assad’s butchers.

4. There is no hard and fast line dividing the civilian and armed opposition. As soon as the bullets and shells stop flying, the FSA puts its guns down for banners. Syrians continue to hold nightly protests when it’s safer under the cover of darkness. The problem is the military phase of the revolution will not end even with Assad’s death. We are looking at a long-term (sectarian[ish]) civil war because of the way the regime was built. Assad isn’t even on T.V. giving speeches anymore, so the shabeha who are slaughtering people are on autopilot.

5. The longer the FSA is starved for arms and military aid (including imperialist airstrikes on Assad’s forces), the more they’ll turn to the Islamicists. Here’s a good piece of analysis by an American who joined the Libyan revolution: http://www.matthewvandyke.com/blog/arm-islamist-militants-syria/ And the longer the revolution is starved for support, the bloodier it will become; the bloodier it becomes, the more sectarian it will be in its hour of victory; and the longer its hour of victory is delayed, the more socially debilitating it will be when it finally happens. The growth of Islamicist influence in Syria is a good sign the left there and here is not up to the tasks posed by the revolution.

6. Assad is dead or seriously injured a la Yemen. Regime stalwarts are not fighting for him but for themselves and their families. They still use heavy armor, helicopters, and planes against the FSA, so there is months of fight left in the Syrian military (for figures, see: http://www.scribd.com/fullscreen/85255549?access_key=key-1yyt0rcjvy3mwu0bokb5). There tens of thousands heavily armed and well-organized little Assads and Ghadafis that will either have to be killed or forced to flee the country before the revolution is victorious.

Syria is a good example of why Wright was right about the reality of revolutions versus the left’s idealization of them in his post: http://www.thenorthstar.info/?p=1139


Tony August 3, 2012 at 9:27 pm

Pham, you say that you think that ‘Assad is dead or seriously injured a la Yemen.’ And just what is ‘a la Yemen’, Pham? Here… ‘Yemen president injured in attack on residential compound’ @ http://articles.latimes.com/2011/jun/03/world/la-fg-yemen-president-attack-20110604 is a news report of that affair to jog our memories some, and what does the bombing of the top leaders of Syria have anything to do similar to that event in Yemen earlier that severely injured Dictator Ali Abdullah Saleh, which the US supported?

That assassination attempt in Yemen ACTUALLY DID INVOLVE 2 YEMENI POWER GROUPS BATTLING IT OUT WITH EACH OTHER, unlike with Syria. I would say that there is nothing at all similar to the Yemen situation to the US-Syrian war zone effort to kill Assad, because of that ONE crucial and big difference. OUTSIDERS carried out the attack against Assad that may have injured him, and not Syrians.

What I am saying, is that in Yemen the outside intervention involved in the fighting encompassed a much smaller range of players than what we have happening with Syria at this minute. In Syria, the bombing of Assad and his top military and police people did NOT get condemned by the US and the UN as being a terrorist action as they did with the Yemen attack on Saleh. AND, there is no evidence that any of your FSA buddies, Pham, had anything to do with the attack against Assad and his close circle of resisters to the US made war against the Syrian people.

The evidence is that one ally or the other of the US Pentagon carried out this particular act of terrorism in Syria, which you are trying to tell us was ‘a la Yemen’, Pham, when in fact it really isn’t so at all. And the aftermath of the attack on Assad was the following attack on Saudi spy chief Prince Bandar bin Sultan bin Abdul-Aziz, which suggests that possibly Assad and his top officials believe that is who planned the terrorist attack on themselves. ‘Saudi Spy Chief Rumored Killed in Bomb Attack’ @ http://atlanticsentinel.com/2012/08/saudi-spy-chief-rumored-killed-in-bomb-attack/

Lots of speculation here at this time, and it is perhaps just as likely that agents of Israel or the US actually might have been behind the attack on Assad for all we can really say. But this battle to take control over Syria by the Pentagon and its allies is definitely much more broad than what has been going on with Yemen, which is a side show more or less, along the lines of other Pentagon side show battlegrounds such as Mali, Somalia, Sudan. et al. Israel, for example. is acutely part of the plot against Assad, though much less involved in the war zone of Yemen. For Israel, taking out of power Assad is part of their desire to take out the top leadership from power in Iran.


Brian S. August 3, 2012 at 8:24 pm

Nice to have such clear and relevant comments from Pham and Arthur. A couple of things in response:
1.I take the point that US policy is coherent enough for its own purposes: a “ zone of safety” on the Turkish-Syrian border, full of refugees and dependent on western powers for sustenance; an opposition, cobbled together under western patronage and preoccupied with trying to run this area; an FSA kept on a short military string with just enough backing to continue destabilising the Assad regime : ideal arrangement for the West, but not so good for the Syrian people. I just hope that the FSA isn’t being steered into this trap.
2. Nobody is going to be “crushing” the “jihadists” anytime soon : the FSA needs all the firepower it can get and while foreign salafists may be annoying they are not going to be turning them away while they bring key resources to the struggle. In any event the groupings are not clear cut: there are foreign jihadists; Syrian jihadists; locals who have joined the jihadists because of their effectiveness – some of whom have and been politically converted and others who haven’t; and then you have the Irish-Libyans, whose position remains unclear to me. I came across a nice story on the internet that seems to illustrate the situation: in one town (misplaced the details) a jihadi group announced that they would be joining the Friday demonstration with their black flag; the local community voted to refuse them permission; the civic leaders and the jihadis then held negotiations and agreed that the black flag could be flown – but only for 20 minutes.
3. I do not see the implementation of a “no fly zone” as a positive measure. Syria is not Libya, and the scale of the assault that would be necessary to neutralise Syria’s air defences would have very dangerous ramifications – both on the civilian population and at a geo-political level. The critics of the Libyan campaign were not wrong in raising many of the problems they did – they simply calculated the balance of risks and gains incorrectly. And the Libyan experience, while it had a positive outcome, was not without problems: there was “mission creep”; there was an increase in the dependence of the rebels on the western powers. The fact that these negative pressures were counterbalanced in Libya is no guarantee that they will be in Syria.
4. If we want to argue for support for the FSA then the most useful form of assistance would be provision of the necessary heavy weaponry to counter Assad’s armoured and air assaults. Its something they are asking for; it could perhaps be delivered relatively easily; it would enhance the capacity of the FSA rather than increase their dependence.
5. The military situation is very fluid at the moment, so I’m not going to try and comment on that until things are a bit clearer.
6. One thing that it might be useful to talk about is our understanding of the dynamics of the regime. Assad’s invisibility is looking increasingly strange; and, his position is looking weaker than I previously thought. Is this a personalist autocracy on the Libyan model, or is it more of an authoritarian regime, like Egypt? Is there any possibility of a move from within?


Arthur August 4, 2012 at 12:41 am

Some quick responses to numbered points by Brian S (B) and Pham Binh (P):

B6. Certainly not a personalist autocracy like Libya. Others in the clan or even other Alawis could replace replace Bashir either to compromise or to fight on.

P2. “The U.S. is giving the FSA just enough aid to survive but not win outright. This makes sense because the U.S. historically has always preferred predictable strongmen to raucous democracies. The situation for them is fraught with dangers and unknowns and so they’ve adopted a conservative approach to aiding (or rather, bleeding) the revolution.”

That preference for predictable strongmen lasted many decades but the results were disasterous and it is very obviously NOT the current US policy. eg Instead of establishing another autocracy as predicted by Iraq war opponents US dissolved Baath party and army and organized free elections. We should advocate the US providing more aid in Syria but it is far from clear that the delays in doing so refelect a desire for FSA to survive but not win. US is already committed to overthrow of regime. Conservative approach can be simply that – they are after all conservatives.

B2. They may well be failing to crush jihadis, but if so it is a very serious mistake. Mass murderers are not helpful.

B3 and 4. “No fly zone” is a euphemism. I said “destroy air force” and establish air superiority. It does have major ramifications since Syria has serious air defences. There would be a prolonged bombing campaign with some civilian casualties – and the result would not in itself be as decisive as in Libya where all mobility was along coastal highways (and still took a long time before victory). That level of commitment would in no way inhibit supplying heavy weapons. My impression is that they haven’t got a lot of recruits from officers already trained in heavy weapons. Training artillery or tank officers (and troops) takes considerable time and the level of civilian casualties from supplying heavy weapons to untrained and poorly disciplined fighters is likely to be much greater than from systematic bombing of air defences (followed by anti-tank warfare etc from the air).

“Geopolitical issues” may well be what is inhibiting US and NATO from acting. Domestic politics too – both current US administration and European governments took a position against bypassing UN on Iraq that makes doing so on Syria rather awkward. A lot of other countries will object to bypassing UN. Same problem as for leftists who took that position on Iraq too.

For both governments and leftists inhibited by previous stances the answer is straight forward. Get over it! Sort out whether or not you got it wrong about Iraq later. Its bloody obvious that waiting for Russian permission before smashing the Syrian air force would be getting it wrong about Syria.

The Syrian air force is attacking the Syrian people in both cities and countryside, Guernica style. Stopping it shouldn’t be a difficult decision!

Regime depends on its superior capability for mobile warfare – able to concentrate forces and move them to different parts of the country eg suppressing Damascus and then moving many of the same forces to Aleppo. Air power would not be as decisive against that as with coastal roads of Libya but it would be a hell of lot harder to quickly move forces around the country once NATO had control of the skies.


Tony August 4, 2012 at 5:00 am

Arthur seems to have appointed himself to the position of the confused marxist adviser to the Pentagon and NATO….

‘The Syrian air force is attacking the Syrian people in both cities and countryside, Guernica style. Stopping it shouldn’t be a difficult decision!’

Funny, I see it as the Pentagon and NATO allied forces are attacking the Syrian people, Comrade Arthur. Who asked them to be part of any ‘solution’ to anything? You, Arthur? You the specialist on Syria now through your superior marxist knowledge? Or what?


Arthur August 5, 2012 at 1:00 am

Yes, I’m advocating Pentagon and NATO air strikes not just agreeing with the current level of US intervention. So are the people being attacked by the Syrian air force and helicopter gunships.

Doesn’t require specialist knowledge of Syria or superior Marxism. Simply a matter of siding with the people against fascist tyrants.


Brian S. August 4, 2012 at 8:44 am

Another excellent article from Mary Fitzgerald of the IrishTimes, which gives a sense of the complex dynamics within rebel ranks: http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/world/2012/0804/1224321449457.html
In my view she provides the best first hand coverage of the situation of any western journalist (and often just the best coverage, period.) Well worth following.


Tony August 4, 2012 at 3:08 pm

The title to the article is just pure bullshit though, Brian. It is… ‘We have no one to help us but ourselves’ and supposedly suggests the attitudes some of the FSA grunts have about the fighting. However, every damn other day almost, the FSA leaders call upon the US government of Obama to actively begin military operations OVERTLY instead of merely COVERTLY as the Pentagon is already doing by way of its military bases in Turkey. They want the US military to bomb their country and smash it up further, same as the CIA/ Pentagon promoted ‘rebels’ got done for them to regime change for D.C. in Libya.

Brian, you seem determined to present an unreal scenario to us about how this is supposedly just a group of Syrians that jello-ed together and that then decided all on their own to start an uprising against the Assad government. However, comrade, we all know that that the Syrian government was seen as a regime that had to be taken out when it played such a huge role in opposing Israel’s last invasion of Lebanon. You would have us believe that the US, Turkey, Israel, and their Arab allied regimes all just were busy sleeping instead of organizing any sort of internal rebellion against Assad! Instead of us having a nuanced view of reality here, you would pigeon hole us into a Black and White… Assad= bad guy/ all Syrians have reason to hate him pov, which you have adopted as your own, from here so very far away from Syrian reality.

What is so sad to me is to see comrades who are unable to focus and see clearly that Syria is merely be Step 2 in regime the changes for the entire region and world by the Pentagon now begun. Setup= invasions and occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan. Step1 now= Libya. Step2=Syria. Step3 near future=Iran. Is that really so hard to grasp though, Brian?


Arthur August 5, 2012 at 12:50 am

“Setup= invasions and occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan. Step1 now= Libya. Step2=Syria. Step3 near future=Iran. Is that really so hard to grasp though, Brian?”

You omitted Tunisia and Egypt and future all the rest of the region not just Iran.

Is is really so hard to grasp that the whole region will go through a bourgeois democratic revolution just as Europe did, and that it will be a complex and contradictory process including religious conflicts and armed interventions as with previous bourgeois democratic revolutions?

Probably not hard for you to grasp at all. It was explained clearly enough when Sadaam’s deputy visited most of the other autocrats warning them that the invasion of Iraq aimed at “region change”, not just “regime change” in Iraq.

But with such consistent opposition to revolutionary social change, shouldn’t you also be denouncing the Tunisian, Egyptian and Bahraini revolutions? Only denouncing those that the US directly intervenes in suggests that you don’t really grasp how interconnected the whole process is, and how obvious it is that US imperialism has reversed its previous “stability” policy and now actively aims at undermining the status quo.

As an upholder of the status quo you should denounce ALL the regime changes, not just most of them.


Tony August 5, 2012 at 2:28 am

Because I don’t support regime changes brought about by US imperialist manipulations, you call me ‘an upholder of the status quo’, Arthur? My, you are a very strange marxist IMO. Imperialism to you, actually represents a desire to change the status quo! Too damn weird!

‘But with such consistent opposition to revolutionary social change, shouldn’t you also be denouncing the Tunisian, Egyptian and Bahraini revolutions?’

And you just make silly statements about me supposedly being against revolutionary social change just off the top of your head. No evidence needed by such a strange Marxist as yourself, I guess? Say it and it is so automatically, so you think???? You must walk upside down because your efforts at logic are absolutely wacko upside down, Arthur.

Arthur, do you really believe as a marxist that ‘revolutionary change’ is brought to you by the Pentagon? It seems to me from what you have just said that you actually do.

‘Is is really so hard to grasp that the whole region will go through a bourgeois democratic revolution just as Europe did, and that it will be a complex and contradictory process including religious conflicts and armed interventions as with previous bourgeois democratic revolutions?’

Those ‘armed interventions’ you talk about would be from the Pentagon and NATO, Arthur. How strange your brand of ‘marxism’ is. Comical really…


Brian S. August 6, 2012 at 1:47 pm

@Arthur. I’m interested in you reference to “bourgeois democratic revolutions” , because I think its in in a similar space to my thoughts about these issues – but I’m reminded of a passage in Vijay Prashad’s “Arab Spring, Libyan Winter” (not a general source of wisdom for me, I hasten to add): He talks about a meeting between some Indian radicals and the British marxist historian E.P. Thompson,where Thompson responded to one participant by saying “stop using the word ‘bourgeois’ before democracy, its giving me a headache”.
If we are talking about the political objectives of these revolutons, then its true that they don’t move far beyond “bourgeois right” (although with a social democratic and nationalist inflection); if we’re talking about the social forces involved they are mostly “petit-bourgeois” (although with a large role for the “new petit-bourgeois” of professional and technical workers.) But the presence of so many “althoughs” in this statement suggests to me its time for some rethinking. I rather lean to the term “popular democracy” which combines both a social characterisation and a programmatic aspiration: its the sort of “democracy” that reflects broad, socially diverse movements, but seeks to shift power from elites to the mass of the population. (rather than just circulating the elites).


Tony August 6, 2012 at 2:17 pm

Imperialist onslaught is hardly any struggle for ‘popular democracy’ or ‘bourgeois democratic revolution’, Brian and Arthur. You 2 comrades seem to me to be taking hallucinogenic drugs???? Simply put, you both are stoned out of your minds.


Arthur August 6, 2012 at 2:45 pm

I’m happy with the terms “revolutionay democracy” or “popular democracy” or just “democracy” for broader consumption.

But I think its worth stressing the bourgeois character of the revolutionary tasks and leadership in these narrower discussions. It simply isn’t a new democratic revolution with bourgeois tasks but a proletarian communist leadership that could hope for uninterrupted transition to socialist revolution. The outcome is certain to be capitalist regimes – a vast improvement on the semi-feudal setups described as “socialist” by their apologists.

This helps combat both illusions among the left that the leadership is held by leftists and undermine the counter-revolutionary arguments pretending that the left should only support democratic revolutions led by leftists (which extends to not supporting the British or American revolutios or the anti-fascist allies including US and British imperialism in the war against fascism.


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