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Nature of the Assad regime

The Assad regime is not different from the regime which existed in the United Arab Republic, under Nasser. On the one hand, the regime struggles against the "3 I's": Imperialism, Islamists, and Israel. On the other hand, the regime suppresses the left-wing forces, such as the Communist party of Syria, the Kurds, etc.

A particularly bloody incident occurred in 1982. From 1979 to 1982, Muslim Brotherhood of Syria carried out a series of revolts against the Assad regime. They were supported by a certain faction of population, adhering to their version of Islam (Sunni). In 1982, the regime attacks a whole town with heavy weapons and sends in special forces to virtually destroy the town. Between 38,000 and 60,000 people were killed, and this scar was not forgotten... Photo below: the town of Hama, after an assault by Syrian armed forces.

Assad was the supreme leader of the Baath party, Syria region. The Baath party has come to power in 2 countries: Iraq of Saddam Hussein, and in Syria. However, the relations between the two wings of the party have deteriorated to such an extent that the Syrian Baath party has supported Iran in its war against Iraq of Saddam Hussein (in the 1980's).

In both countries, the Baath party has pursued the politics of zig-zags, balancing between the interests of imperialism and the need to develop their own country. A nice characterization of the Baath regime in Syria is given in the analysis by the Socialist Party of Great Britain:

"The Ba'athist regime was sometimes called 'Bonapartist' because it rested on 'the conservative peasant' and a radicalised layer of ‘petty- bourgeois’ Alawite army officers".

Assad himself is an Alawite. This sect of Shia Islam comprises about 12% of the population. The majority of the population are Arab Sunni Muslims (65%). Christians are about 10-12% and Kurds are about 9%. The total population of Syria is about 23 million people. As of present (fall 2013), 2 million people are refugees, and about 100 thousand have been killed in the war.

Further about the Baath party we hear:

"The 'social pact' was the foundation of Ba'ath Party rule which meant land distribution for the peasantry, social welfare for the working class, industrialisation for the capitalist class but no free speech, and banned trade unions… In 1965 the Ba'ath regime 'nationalised' 106 industries which included electricity, water, industrial plants, the transport system, insurance companies, and commercial banks".

However, since 1980’s, “In Syria more private economic activity was permitted, state controls were loosened, free trade zones were established, tax exemptions and cheap credit introduced and local traders and merchants were allowed economic freedom to import and export goods. Nationalised industries were 'privatised' which meant state ownership was transferred to cronies of the regime... In 2000 Hafez died and his son Bashar became leader, and economic liberalisation continued. In March 2009 Assad opened the Damascus Securities Exchange, Syria's first stock market in over forty years. The IMF and World Bank were satisfied with the Syrian economy with its 'privatisations', and cuts in corporation tax for the capitalist class. The wealth of the crony capitalist class was evident when Maserati launched its range of high-priced vehicles in Damascus in 2010".

According to Wikipedia (Russian page), before the start of war in 2011, the state sector in Syria accounted for 70% of the principal means of production, 75% of the value of the industrial produce, and roughly a half of the GDP. The state completely controlled the finance, energy, trains and aviation industry. Meanwhile, the private sector produced 25% of the industrial output, dominated the agricultural production, the building industry, the foreign trade (90%), the internal trade (70%), and services.

The Assad regime in Syria can be compared to Stalin's regime in the USSR. It is a centrist regime, wavering between socialism and capitalism. For example, "Encyclopedia Britannica" writes: "Assad set about building up the Syrian military with Soviet aid and gaining the loyalty of the Syrian populace with public works funded by Arab donors and international lending institutions. Political dissenters were eliminated by arrest, torture, and execution..."

The Assad regime is friends with Russia. Wikipedia writes that in September 2008, Syria has made an agreement with Russia to buy MiG-29 fighter jets, anti-aircraft system "Pantsir" (photo below), tactical rockets "Iskander", and "Amour" submarines. In addition, Russia leases the Mediterranean port of Tartus from Syria. Wikipedia writes: "Amid Russia's deteriorating relations with the West, because of the 2008 South Ossetia War‎ and plans to deploy a US missile defense shield in Poland, President Assad agreed to the port’s conversion into a permanent Middle East base for Russia’s nuclear-armed warships".

The Assad regime has attempted to appease the U.S. imperialism by providing 20,000 troops in the operation "Desert Storm", against Iraq of Saddam Hussein. It has also used the 9/11/2001 incident to join the U.S. "war on terror", in reality to suppress its own Muslim militants.

The long-term U.S. policy towards Syria has been to suppress it. Since 1979, Syria has been on the U.S. list of countries "sponsoring terrorism". In a 2002 speech by Undersecretary of State John Bolton, Syria was placed on "the Axis of Evil". Other countries mentioned in Bolton's speech were Iraq, Iran and North Korea.

In 2004, the Bush administration has imposed sanctions on Syria. According to Wikileaks, the U.S. government has been giving money to the opposition forces in Syria at least since 2005. The Obama administration places its ambassador in Syria in February of 2010, then in May 2010 renews Bush-imposed sanctions, and in October 2011 pulls its ambassador out of Syria.

 

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