maandag 13 oktober 2014

The Intifada of Deir Al Zour against the Islamic State

Against the regime, against the reactionaries, for social revolution

Today, the Syrian revolution for freedom and dignity is not only fighting against the bloodthirsty regime of Bashar Al Assad, but also against other freedomkilling forces like the jihadists, and in particular those of the Islamic State, trying to impose their reactionary vision on the population. The Islamic State, locally know as Daesh, managed to spectacularly reinforce itself these lasts months, especially after their invasion in Iraq. That incited them to reconstitute a “Caliphate [1]” in the north of Syria and in the north and the east of Iraq. Everywhere they appear, the Daesh are imposing their law, commit sectarian massacres and other atrocities, imprison and assassin revolutionaries. It is also important to underline that the Daesh fought very few against the Assad regime, preferring to impose themselves in the liberated territories. It is by the way for sure not a coincidence that the positions of Daesh haven’t been bombarded much by the Syrian regime. Assad clearly made the choice to feed a sectarian conflict as to better maintain his power. But resistance and struggle against Daesh have not been few. In many cities, demonstrations and clashes took place, “Fridays of Rage against Assad and Isis”; many anti-regime militias are now also fighting Daesh. But in this article we would like to focus on what happened in the province of Deir Al Zour, in the east of Syria, next to the Iraqi border. There, the local population rose up into an insurrection against Daesh.
Beginning of July 2014, when the Islamist rivals Jabhat Al Nusra and Ahrar Al Sham retreat from Deir Al Zour, the region is immediately occupied by Daesh. Around the city, fierce fighting was going on for months between revolutionary brigades, Islamist forces and the Bashar regime. At the end, when the battalions of the Free Syrian Army had to retreat because of a lack of weapons and provisions, the Islamic State jumped in...
Very fast, manifestations against the Islamic State were organised in the whole region of Deir Al Zour. At the same time, small groups of partisan action known under the name of Kufn Al Abiyyad (“The White Shroud”) were formed to assassinate militants of Daesh and launch attacks against their positions. These groups dispose of a maximal autonomy of action and they do not all know each other. They show us another fighting method against Daesh and the regime: rather than forming big militias who liberate and defend zones, these groups are small cores of partisans who hit the enemy wherever they can. Their actions consisted up until now mostly of physical elimination of leaders and militants of Daesh, bomb attacks against their bases, ambushes against their convoys and grenade attacks against gatherings of Daesh. Rather than complex actions, this is pointing towards a rather important diffusion of small attacks against the men and structures of the Islamist repression. In one of its communiqués, Kufn Al Abiyyad adresses the Islamic State with these words: “Leave our region. There’s no place for you between the Syrian people who rose up against injustice and not to replace one tyrannical reign by a new oppressor.”
From the 30th of June, resistance against Daesh intensified after the arrest of three persons belonging to the Shoueitat tribe. The villagers gathered the few weapons they still had and launched the call for insurrection against Daesh in all the villages of the region. The fighting was very hard, but this movement managed to free the villages of Abu Hamam, Kishkiyeh and Granij. In many places, the offices and control posts of Daesh were burned down. The resistance of the Shoueitat also inspired other villages to rise up like in Mayadin, Souwaydan and Albukamal. On the 4th of August, Daesh retook control of the liberated zones. The autonomous guerilleros retreated towards Qalamoun, where they formed now battalions under the name of Usud al Sharquia (“The Lions of the East”) with the specific goal of fighting the Islamic State and continue the Syrian revolution. The insurrection also got echoes in Iraq, in the province of Anbar, were some villages would have chased Daesh.
But around mid-August, Daesh managed to repress this popular intifada. Like everywhere else, their coming was marked by blood and cruelty. At least 700 inhabitants of the region were decapitated as a collective punishment. When the cries for freedom win the hearts and arm the hands, the final answer of all power is always brutal repression and massacre.
This uprising shows us that the desire for freedom which has inspired the Syrian revolution cannot be suffocated so easily, neither by the regime, neither by other authoritarian forces. It also shows that even in the worst conditions, self-organised and autonomous struggle remains possible, the revolutionary fight against all authoritarians who want to destroy the élan of freedom.
If the States of the entire world are now speaking out “against Daesh”, one can for sure not forget that those same States are themselves sources of oppression and massacre. The statist fight they are putting up against Daesh is of course only a prelude to the arrival of yet another power, which will also imprison, torture and massacre. The struggle for freedom can therefore only be as fierce against Daesh, the Syrian regime and the authoritarian forces as against all States of the entire world.

[Hors Service, anarchist journal, n° 46, September 2014]

[1] The notion “Caliphate” historically applies to Islamic States governed by a supreme political and religious leader, the “Caliph” (or “successor” of the prophet Mohammed) and where the sharia is applied. The Abbasside Caliphate (750-1258) is considered as the Islamic Golden Age, with an empire stretching from Iran to Algeria. The “Caliphate” therefore has a particular meaning in the Islamic world, it is a mythical reference to a just (according to the sharia) and advanced reign.