The Free Syrian Army: Short on Weapons, Long on Hope

by By Brian Slocums on August 12, 2012

This is a very recent video documentary from within a Syrian Free Syrian Army (FSA) region released by Journeyman Films.

My experience of Journeyman is that they produce material that is of high-quality and independent-minded. For example, they produced two documentaries on post-Ghadafi Libya, one about the problems of political division and reconciliation, and a second about the displaced people of Tawergha both of which were honest, sensitive to all sides, and critical of the National Transition Council government.

The reporter on this film is Yaara Bou Malhem, who I believe is quite well-known in Australia. What is interesting about this documentary is the picture it gives of the limited resources that the main FSA units are working with and some insight into the command structure of at least this part of the FSA. This was the “original” FSA force and is the only one that I have seen with something like a clear command structure. The FSA’s founder, Colonel Riad al-Assad, chooses to base himself in Turkey close to the front line (unlike other defecting figures who have opted for more comfortable places of exile) and has regularly proved himself independent of the Syrian National Council and its efforts to foist its authority on the FSA fighters. He described the SNC as “opportunists who want to ride over our revolution and trade with the blood of our martyrs.” There seems to have been a significant growth in the number of fighting units recently, as civilian oppositionists have taken up arms in response to the regime’s militarisation of its repression and brutal massacres by the its paramilitary gangs. But much of this has overflowed the framework of the FSA, fragmenting the structure of the military opposition still further.

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.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Tony August 12, 2012 at 7:08 pm

Long on hope (for Change), Brian? It is truly amazing how much the rhetoric here on North Star by the humanitarian Left Imperialists echos that of the 2008 Obama Democratic Party presidential campaign. Now let us ‘pray for a wind’, fellow comrade worshipers.


Arthur August 13, 2012 at 2:23 am


I’m confused about how this site works. This is a good post which I only noticed from Tony’s comment being listed in the recent comments sidebar. Its not listed in the list of recent DEBATE sidebar. I notice it is “UNCATEGORIZED” which may explain the non-listing. Similar problem with “The Fall of the SWP” (category “ANALYSIS). Even after I found that one I didn’t form the habit of refreshing the home page as its more natural for me to refresh the recently open page where I usually see any new comments. So others may also be missing things.

This design requires refreshing the home page to find all articles. How about adding an “all categories” listing of new topics to every page either as well as or instead of the “same category” or category “DEBATE” sidebar. Also please extend the number of new comments listed so people who using notify by email can see responses by checking daily rather than needing to check more frequently.


Brian S. August 14, 2012 at 10:01 am

Here’s another important on-the-ground report from Luke Harding of the Guardian:
I suspect its a bit overoptimistic about the dangers of communalism, but its worth noting that there are countervailing forces and trends.
There’s another good Guardian piece from their Diplomatic editor:
It looks as if the eggs are dropping out of Clinton’s SNC basket and a rethink may be underway. Certainly shows the fallacy of thinking that the US & the CIA were in control of the situation: as so often has been the case they have been blundering around blindly following events (anyone with a decent internet connection could have told them that the SNC was a broken reed). The question now is whether they will try and put the FSA at the centre of their strategy (which will mean having to commit to serious military resourcing – as Borger’s informants note) or wether they will try and find some figure around whom to build a new Syrian opposition more to their liking, or both. My guess is that they will go with the French proposal of promoting Manaf Tlass, linked to a unified command for the FSA. But they’ve really left it too late to pull all the various fighting groups together around that formula (they’ d even find it difficult to get Riad al Assad’s FSA to fall in line).


Brian S. August 21, 2012 at 12:50 pm

Here’s a piece from Jonathan Steele of the Guardian (last seen in a joint love-fest with George Galloway on YouTube peddling nonsense about al Qaeda in Syria). He’s at least had the courage to visit Damascus and while his political judgements are dubious, it does contains some interesting interviews and on the spot reports, and bears out information from other sources.
Its hard to tell if his position has changed since his Galloway/Stop the War video (no mention of al Qaeda here) or if he’s just juggling conflicting positions.


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