Dear comrades of the communist and workers’ parties of the world,
Painful events have been continuing in Syria for nearly two months, since the emergence of a protest movement raising legitimate local and general demands among people in the governorate of Daraa. This movement threw light on the presence of major problems in the political life in Syria: the continuation of the state of emergency, the absence of laws governing political activity, and so on. Further, it drew attention to the popular discontent about the deteriorated living as well as social conditions as a consequence of Syria’s turn toward a free market economy — the reduction of state support for the poor, the erosion of subsidies for basic necessities and agricultural inputs, and free trade unaccompanied by an upgrading of the Syrian industry — which has raised the unemployment rate, especially among young people. This has already led to three decrees: the abolition of the state of emergency, the dissolution of the State Security Court, and the legalization of peaceful demonstrations. Special committees have been also set up and assigned to draft election, party, media, and other laws. Other new laws addressing the social and economic aspects of life are also in the works.
Nevertheless, protests have spread to other cities, due to the authorities’ disproportionate security responses in dealing with protestors in the streets which have resulted in a number of casualties. No sooner did this popular movement arise than an extraordinary mass media campaign was launched by many Arab and foreign satellite TV channels, using the latest technology. This campaign has resorted to forgery, exaggeration, and psychological incitement. Notable in the campaign is the American interest, falsely claiming to have sympathy for the Syrian citizens, as if we are supposed to forget the death, destruction, and ethnic and sectarian strife caused by the successive US administrations in various parts of the world, especially in Iraq.
Syria has played a key role in foiling the US schemes in the Middle East that aim to remake the region against the interests of the Arab peoples, to deal a blow to the Palestinian resistance, and to further Israel’s expansionism, violating the Palestinian people’s right to return, their right to self-determination, their right to a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital, and Syria’s right to regain the occupied Syrian territories. That is why our party supports the steadfastness of Syria against such schemes, and that is why Syria’s national stance has enjoyed the support of the Arab peoples, the world communist movement, and the national liberation movements in the world.
As we all know, Syria’s national political approach has been stronger than any foreign plots, no matter how powerful they are. But we have always warned that a plot might arise from within, and we have insisted that Syria’s foreign policy of resistance must be accompanied by a domestic policy counterpart equal to it and that neglecting it would pave the way for the powers bent on global domination to manipulate the country’s internal situation and to meddle in it, trying to derail its course to serve their interests.
Our party has publicly said, from the very beginning, that the protests were originally launched by masses whose political orientations are against colonialism and all forms of foreign intervention in the Syrian affairs, who have the right to protest against the injustices done by local security and administrative officials in the governorate and against the injustices suffered by large sectors of the Syrian society. Our party has demanded that violence be ended, that the legitimate demands of the masses be addressed, that peaceful demonstrations be dealt with peacefully, and so on. At the same time, we have warned that popular protests might be exploited, to instigate sectarian strife and destroy the national unity of the Syrian people with the goal of spreading chaos, by conspirators financed and encouraged by external forces opposed to the national policy of Syria. Thus many times we have urged the government to issue reform laws and carry them out as swiftly as possible. We have made it clear that such measures require the restoration of calm and normal life in the cities of Syria, which in turn demands the cessation of the spiral of violence, arrests and reactions, by all parties.
But the course of events has changed recently. Armed gangs targeting army and police personnel, ransacking public and private properties, have emerged, killing many victims, both civilians and members of the security forces. Normal life in several cities has been brought to a standstill. The aggressive behavior of these armed gangs has overshadowed the peaceful protest movement. Syrian media have broadcast films showing terrorist fundamentalist groups who admitted to receiving money and weapons from external sources to launch attacks against security personnel and their families.
The Syrian Communist Party (Unified) issued a statement — which has won wide support among national forces — demanding the convening of a national conference of all political parties, including the national opposition inside Syria, representatives of trade unions and professional associations, intellectual, cultural, economic, and religious leaders, for dialogue and reconciliation. The task of the national conference is to reach consensus on a national program to put the country on the path to a comprehensive political, economic, and social reform which would help create a new democratic Syria under the rule of law, a state that guarantees public liberties for all citizens and for all components of civil society such as political parties, trade unions, and civic associations, a state that recognizes political pluralism and the freedoms of assembly and expression, a state where public life is free from censorship, a state that allows citizens to express their political, economic, and social needs and desires within a collectively agreed-upon framework for peaceful competitions, a state in whose institutions all citizens participate for the progress of Syria, a state that promotes the dignity of its people, achieving comprehensive social and economic development, defending the interests of all social strata, putting the poor before the rich, reinforcing the steadfastness of our country in the face of the schemes to make us surrender, and strengthening the struggle to liberate the Golan Heights.
Our party has said that the Syrians have been aware of the shortcomings of their own internal affairs. They can also distinguish those who are demanding political reforms and social and economic development in order to strengthen the home front from those who are trying to exploit the situation to stir up strife that only serves the enemies of Syria.
It has become quite clear that imperialist interventions in the internal affairs of Syria under the pretext of “democracy,” led by the governments of France and the United States, together with the British and German governments, are behind the mass media campaign against Syria, the campaign employing a number of Syrian dissidents in exile who have associated themselves with the US-Israeli project in the region.
Our people take the threats to our country seriously and stand together in confronting them. The foreign plots thus will not succeed in changing the national policy of our country: Syria’s opposition to the US-Israeli project; Syria’s struggle to liberate the Golan Heights; Syria’s support for the struggle of the Palestinian people to liberate their land, to build an independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital, as well as for the struggles to liberate Iraq from the US occupation and South Lebanon from the Israeli occupation.
We very much appreciate the firm positive stances of Russia and China exposing the threats to Syria and giving full support to Syria in this crisis.
Now our party is working with other Syrian parties, the Syrian national opposition forces, and various currents of civil society in order to put in practice the proposal for a conference for national dialogue.
With our best comradely wishes,
First Secretary of the Syrian Communist Party (Unified)
The original statement بيان الحزب الشيوعي السوري الموحد is available at Ahewar.org (26 May 2011) and other Web sites. For more information, visit <www.syrcomparty.org> or email <email@example.com>. Cf. Myriam Ababsa, “Privatisation in Syria: State Farms and the Case of the Euphrates Project” (2005); Angela Joya, “Economic Liberalization and Reform in Syria: 1970-2005” (2006); Raymond Hinnebusch, “Modern Syrian Politics” (History Compass 6.1, 2008); An-Nour, “Disturbing Events in Dara’a” (MRZine, 1 April 2011); Syrian Communist Party (Unified), “The Syrian Communist Party (Unified) Emphasizes the Importance of National Unity and Investigation of the Causes of the Recent Events” (MRZine, 1 April 2011); As’ad AbuKhalil, “(Former) Communists for Liberal Democracy” (MRZine, 14 April 2011); Syrian Communist Party (Bakdash), “Regarding Syria” (MRZine, 18 April 2011); Syrian Communist Party (Unified), “Stop Violence Now and Start National Dialogue!” (MRZine, 27 April 2011); Salim Kassem, “Demystifying Syria” (MRZine, 30 April 2011); Reinoud Leenders, “The Syrian Opposition’s ‘National Initiative for Change’: A Missed Opportunity” (MRZine, 1 May 2011); Hassan Khaled Chatila, “The Revolt in Syria” (A World to Win News Service, 17 May 2011); RIA Novosti, “Opposition’s Call for General Strike Falls on Deaf Ears in Syria” (18 May 2011); Joshua Landis, “Divisions within the Syrian Opposition on Eve of Turkey Meeting” (Syria Comment, 26 May 2011); As’ad AbuKhalil, “Syrian Opposition and Israel” (Angry Arab News Service, 28 May 2011).