Many Syrians (both in the besieged territories and in the diaspora) continue to conceive of their struggle against President Bashar Al-Assad as an ongoing revolution. Despite this, debates over the nature of the conflict in Syria have plagued leftist discourses, in the nearly six years that have passed since the uprising began. As the humanitarian disaster in Syria deepens, so too have divisions within the left on how to understand the crisis.
While some on the left have argued that Assad’s immediate removal is critical to protect civilians, others claim Assad should not be so hastily eliminated, as he may be replaced by more terrifying actors. Notably, proponents of both these starkly incompatible perspectives claim to be antiwar and anti-imperialist, and purportedly attempt to build upon the legacies of intellectual giants, like Edward Said and Howard Zinn.
In the hope of creating meaningful space for this timely and fractious debate, Muftah has created this collection of six articles, which explore the various moral and political dimensions of leftist discourse on Syria. The pieces in this collection discuss the revolution as a grassroots phenomenon, as well as one of armed struggle, and address topics ranging from humanitarian intervention, the role of foreign actors, the successes and failures of antiwar coalitions in the West, and critiques of many different leftist thinkers, political figures, and journalists who have expressed views about the Syrian conflict, among other issues.
Muftah made every effort to solicit pieces reflecting a wide range of perspectives on the left’s relationship with the Syrian conflict. Our staff approached a range of individuals who eschew or challenge the revolutionary narrative—many of whom are critiqued in this collection—in order to build a collection that reflects diverse opinions about the issue. Unfortunately, many of these writers either turned down or did not respond to our requests. We have, nevertheless, done our utmost to select articles that, at least indirectly, highlight the diversity of views on the conflict, even if most of the authors featured here ultimately share a similar outlook on the Syrian conflict and the left’s responsibility toward it.
We encourage our readers to contribute to the discussion by submitting comments and asking questions, on our website, Facebook, and Twitter pages. We also encourage those who are interested to submit their own articles, responding to the pieces in this collection, by emailing them to firstname.lastname@example.org. Muftah looks forward to continuing the conversation on Syria and the Left.