The PFLP and the Syrian Civil War

The golden opportunity has finally arrived. The Americans have officially begun to blow the horns of war against Syria. Assad has allegedly crossed the "red line" and used chemical weapons against Syrian civilians. The American grim reaper started to hover over the souls of the countless Syrian civilians who will be killed as a result of an imminent military intervention.

"War mongers and predators of neocolonialism" are celebrating; they are brainwashed, and unaware of their political regression. Marx, the godfather of the red flag, and the champion of the disenfranchised proletariat, is very disappointed. He is rolling in his grave because American aircraft carriers and their cruise missiles are about to cause unprecedented carnage upon the Syrian people.

"The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles," and unless we understand this, the spectre of death, oppression, humiliation, enslavement will never be unscathed, and will be the end of our society.

Or so would the current leaders of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), may Marx bless their souls, want us to think. We must use every -ism the Webster dictionary offers us (and perhaps invent new ones) to denounce any American aggression against the Syrians: neo-colonialism, capitalism, Islamism, Zionism, Israelism, imperialism, retreatism, etc...

Yes, all hail captain Marx ... 

The PFLP Press Release:

Hoisting a banner that depicts a Palestinian flag intersecting with the Baathist Syrian flag (adopted in 1958, and then readopted in 1980), the PFLP's Arabic website featured a press release condemning American plans to intervene militarily in Syria. They view this intervention as part of a general scheme to advance Israeli, Zionist and neocolonialist objectives in the region. The PFLP argues that this aggression will cause "severe harm to the Syrian people and the Arab people" and will threaten the "sovereignty and unity of the territory."

But where were the PFLP's strongly worded press releases when Assad decided, with the coldest of emotions, to end, by any means necessary, the peaceful protests against his dictatorial rule? Was their editor on vacation?

On their English website, there are only a few mentions of Syria in their press releases. The most relevant of the earlier ones denounced the Israeli aggression against Syrian targets. Surely, there is nothing dishonourable with denouncing any type of Zionist aggression against Arab lands, especially when this aggression is targeted against innocent Palestinian and Syrian civilians. However, there is absolutely no mention of the Assad's brutal attacks against the citizenry that he claims to represent.

The press release, which was issued on February 4th, 2013, described the aforementioned aggression as a "heinous crime and a blatant challenge of the principles of international Law and the resolutions of international legitimacy." However, the same principle of international Law does not seem, at least from the perspective of the PFLP, to apply on Assad's war crimes and crimes against humanity. More confusingly, what exactly do they mean by "the resolutions of international legitimacy"?

Yes, Israel does not hesitate before it decides to inflict considerable damage against Arabs and Arab sovereignty; but surely the PFLP cannot possibly deny that Assad has also caused similar damage, if not more, against Arabs, Syrians and Palestinians.

Yes, International Law does not seem to be a factor when Israeli policy makers and IDF generals make their decisions, but when a war criminal like Assad violates the exact same law that the PFLP is referring to, he too does not take into consideration how his actions fit within the parameters of International Law.

But why am I mounting this vicious attack against the PFLP?

From the very beginning, when the protests Assad were still peaceful, the position of the PFLP has been murky at best. On their website, both the Arabic and English versions, the PFLP parades itself as the champion for the proletariat in their struggle against the Arab petit-bourgeoisie regimes. The English website has an elaborate "program" that defines what they call "Tasks of the New Stage." Part of their rhetoric includes defining their relationship with these petit-bourgeoisie regimes.

"[T]he objective and subjective conditions now existing requires a certain (style of) tactical relationship with these regimes which reflect the predominant objective and subjective conditions."

The type of "tactical relationship" that the PFLP is trying to design remains very ambiguous despite their attempt at providing an elaborate explanation. Their analysis, typical of Marxist thought, is historical, and they use precedents from the past to justify alliances of the present. But, when read in conjunction with their press release, news articles and op-eds in Arabic, it becomes clear that the tactical relationship they are seeking allows them to sideline the atrocities committed by groups that they call the "resistance" in order to further their own ideology.

The op-eds posted on this website, mainly these written by Dr. Fayez Rashid, are very apologetic. Rashid does not spare any effort at finding justifications for Hassan Nasrallah's decision to send Hezbollah fighters to Syria and defend the Assad regime. Of course, his denunciation of Israel is worthy of approbation, but using Hezbollah's history of fighting Israel as a legitimate justification for their engagement in Syria is a poor strategy.

The PFLP, as the only Palestinian party that refuses to compromise on the fundamental rights of the Palestinian people, should reassess its position. Supporting Hezbollah and the Baathist regime in Syria will continue to hurt its credibility as a party that does not wait before it denounces aggression and crimes against civilians. As the only organization that, over the decades, rejected all efforts to normalize with Israel, kept the profile of Palestinian political prisoners at the forefront of the struggle, mounted an effective opposition to the dysfunctional Palestinian Authority, the PFLP must, before its too late, be at the forefront of fighting the Assad regime, and be part of the wider effort to redefine the parameters of this struggle. 

Before any of that happens, their criticism of the opposition, if not coupled with providing proper alternatives, will continue to be weak.


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