by Adel Samara
Lots of articles have been written on Syria and Palestine and the position of Syrian Leaders towards the Palestinian liberation struggle.
Especially on the Syria of Hafez el Assad and the responsibility of the Fall of Tal El Zaatar ( the same is said on Yarmouk/Bashar El Assad today), but few voices state that it was a lie spread by Yasser Arafat* ( testimonial of Nagi Alloush http://uprootedpalestinians.blogspot.com/2012/04/who-is-responsible-fot-fall-of-tal-al.html ).
Following is a debate on this matter, Comrade Adel Samara through our organization Garden of Knowledge Malta Association provides his analysis in a more historical and political perspective.
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The relationship between Syria and PLO is a very complicated and contradicted one. The main difference between PLO organizations and Syrian Baa’th regime towards Palestine may be found in the positions of both towards Arab nationalism and the position towards Zionist Ashkenazi Regime (ZAR) and imperialism. Those positions are reflected or uncovered by the class issue.
From historical, geographic, demographic and cultural realities, Palestine is the southern part of Syria, and Syria is part of Arab Mashriq and Arab Maghrib.
This is the base of Arab nationalism which has been continuously targeted by all colonialisms of Ottomans, British, French, and Zionist as well and currently by the most dangerous enemy the US.
In any reading of the Palestinian-Syrian relationship, we must consider the fact that Arab space has been destroyed through Sykes-Picot imperialist secret conspiracy which Lenin uncovered after the victory of Russian revolution 1917. But Syria space was even destroyed from inside and became four entities.
But, because Syria is the mother of Palestine, there are two main issues that control the relationship among, Syria, the Palestinians and ZAR:
– Syria never compromised with ZAR and the Counter-Revolution (CR), and that is why it never recognized ZAR.
– ZAR always concentrated that its fate will never be secured unless Syria is destroyed .
So far, any logical analysis must conclude that the Syrian regime and PLO must be one front against ZAR and CR.
But, the contradiction lies in a different area.
While the Syrians were inside their Homeland, they were able to adopt an independent policy and positions. But, because the Palestinians lost their Homeland, they became fragile and vulnerable to various intrusions by all Arab rulers and even non-Arab.
That is why, positions of Palestinian organizations towards their Palestinian question lacks, most of the time, consensus. They were always influenced by the regimes where this or that organization was based and/or financed. But, even this interpretation is still not adequate to clarify the contradiction between PLO and Syrian regime.
There is no way to avoid the main issue, i.e. Arab nationalism and concretely, the Qawmi and Qutri positions.
Arab Qawmi position stems from the fact that Palestine is an Arab land and must be liberated.
The Qutri stems from a compromising position that Palestine is the issue of Palestinians, and as long as they are not able to liberate it, they must compromise with ZAR and be satisfied with a tiny state within 1967 borders.
The content of Qawmi position means that any Qutriya state might lose part of its land, but its liberation is conditioned by a form or level of Arab unity.
This position stems from an analysis that conflict in Palestine never was and will never be with ZAR alone, but with the imperialist center and CR in general.
This was the understanding of Pan- Arab parties, especially Baa’th and Arab Nationalist Movement and Nassirism of Nasser himself.
Most of Arab and Palestinian communists were in favor of the recognition of ZAR and even until today.
The defeat of Arab nationalist regimes 1967 paved the way for Qutri regimes and forced them to declare their compromise of Palestine for the ZAR. Arab Gulf regimes were always out of the conflict as if they are not Arab.
The tragedy of PLO is in the fact that it was born after the defeat of its national mother, i.e. the defeat of Arab nationalist regimes.
Fatah organization as a patriotic one stems from a Qutri ideology, i.e. contradicting the Qawmi one. That is why it is supported by Gulf rich regimes, a fact that enables it to be the strongest organization.
Fatah leadership recognized early on, or even before its military struggle that its struggle will never defeat ZAR. That is why; its leadership was and still is open for a series of compromises. And as the main force of PLO, it was and still is able to impose its policies over other organizations of PLO.
The main challenger to Fatah was and still is the Syrian Ba’ath regime.
Egypt of Nasser and Syria of Ba’ath lost parts of their land in 1967 war while trying to liberate the occupied part of Palestine in 1948 war. Jordan lost the West Bank and Gaza (WBG). In 1973 they liberate parts of their land.
But despite of that, Fatah as a Qutri organization pretend that “only” Palestinians are able to liberate Palestine. However, any deep thinking of the conflict will realize and conclude that Fatah leadership was playing politics.
Accordingly, because Fatah leadership well understood that it is unable to liberate Palestine, it went too far from Arab liberation movement. This very Qutri policy was and still is aiming to separate Palestine from Arab nationalist movement, a policy which justifies any compromise with ZAR.
This policy was crystallized in what so-called the Independent Patriotic Decision IPD. This decision was directly against Syria.
Here we uncover the base of class issue.
As long as the leadership of Fatah is mainly if not totally comprised of a petty-bourgeois factions, and as long as they are not a productive national bourgeois which is based inside its own liberated land and insist according to its interests to have and dominate its local market, and because of a huge money transferred to this leadership from Gulf monarchies, this leadership became a bureaucratic capitalist one.
Moreover, the class base of this leadership made it ready for a Self-Rule as an alternative for liberated Palestine .
Let’s consider the following:
· Fatah leadership believes that it is unable to liberate Palestine
· It became a rich capitalist class
· Arab nationalist movement is in decline.
These factors gave it the chance to follow Arab comprador regime of Egypt under Sadat who declared that all “cards of solution” are in US hands. To translate this declaration it means one thing: that the solution is the recognition of ZAR.
When Sadat declared in front of the Egyptian parliament that he will visit occupied Jerusalem, Arafat was present in the parliament hall and did not object. Since that moment, it became a fact that Egyptian regime, not Syrian, is the supervisor of PLO politics.
Sectarian War in Lebanon
Many writers call it “civil” war. I think it is wrong in a country led by the bourgeoisies and even feudal sects.
The issue which is not solved yet is: Why did Syria accept to enter Lebanon in 1976 and to what extent it is right that Syria stand against the patriotic forces in Lebanon including PLO.
It might be that Syria was since that time sure that Arafat will compromise the Right of Return of Palestinian refugees and recognize Israel .
But, if Syria was right in its analysis, its main fault is that it failed to develop its role and relationship with Lebanon masses to demand its restoration of Lebanon as part of Syria. A restoration which must take place through a mass demand for unity. This never happened.
We must keep in mind that the Syrian role in Lebanon did not stop or harm the PLO struggle against ZAR. And during 1982, ZAR aggression against Lebanon, the Syrian army participated in the war, while all Arab regimes never tried.
As for Tel-el-Zatar Palestinian refugee camp, I must explain that I was never an eye witness because I live in the occupied West Bank and rarely got the chance to travel. But I met the late Naji Alloush in Amman at his home more than once, and he repeated that Arafat was manufacturing wars with Syria in Tel-el-Zatar, and later in Tripoli. He said that Arafat all the time was looking for compromise with ZAR to have a tiny state.
I believe Naji Alloush first as a real militant and thinker and also because I believe that Arafat was looking for power not land according to three main component factors of his personality:
– His Moslem Brotherhood back ground which believed in power, any form of power not land.
– His Qutri ideology
– And his wealth as a bureaucrat capitalist through financing by the Gulf rich rulers.
What about today?
Egyptian, Jordanian, Palestinian, comprador recognized ZAR.
All Gulf rent rulers compromised with ZAR by direct recognition or without.
Ba’ath regime of Iraq while in power never recognized ZAR.
Ba’ath of Syria still defends Syria against a globalized war.
The war mongers made it clear: recognize ZAR and everything will finish.
Arab Gulf rulers launching war against Syria and financing it by its two wealth surpluses:
– The surplus human power of youth educated of Wahhabi ideology which is against Arab nationalism.
– And oil rent surplus.
The two surpluses are the main wealth of any people looking for development.
Those regimes are blocking their own countries development and destroying Syria, Iraq, Yemen. Who benefit directly from that? It is the ZAR.
Lets’ go back again, ZAR aggression against Lebanon 1982 tells more. The leadership of PLO especially that of Fatah decides to leave to Tunisia and Yemen. This was clear evidence that PLO decided to stop struggle against ZAR. Few of PLO organizations stayed in Lebanon and Syria. Many consider those organizations as satellites to Syria.
Even if it is right, it is better than to leave to far places from Palestine. The result of that departure was Oslo Agreement.
The departure to Tunisia as a route to liberate Palestine is similar to the Forces of Politicized Islam (FoPI ) that they are going to liberate Syria and Arab Homeland as a way towards liberating Palestine! What a very “SHORT” road?
The FoPI pretend that Syrian regime siege Yarmouk refugee camp while they themselves occupied it until today. They try to invade Damascus from the camp.
The Syrian Arab army stops them and the regime still trying to let them leave the camp peacefully, they did not agree.
What is really ironic is that Hamas which in the beginning of Syrian crisis thought that the regime is falling, Hamas betrayed the regime. Even until now, al-Quds TV (which belongs to FoPI), writes every day in news line that today is not so and so of the siege of Yarmouk camp.
It is important to note that the Ba’ath of Syria and Iraq gave the Palestinians all right of its citizens except citizenship to protect Palestinian identity.
Finally, it is well known that any Arab politics are estimated measured through its position towards Palestine especially the recognition of ZAR and the struggle against it.
The Syrian regime stills standing strong at this level. But PLO went too far in compromising people’s rights.
This doesn’t mean that I consider the Syrian regime as the ideal type neither in social nor economic levels.
In fact, I continued writing and criticizing this regime from 1975 until 2010. When Syria as a country was targeted by CR for the sake of ZAR goal, I stand with Syria.
Some people in Syrian ruling circles asked a Baa’thist comrade in the West Bank:
How come this man stand with us?
He said that he stands for Syria as long as you are protecting Syria he will support you.
Briefly speaking, I think that the fate of Arab Homeland is only socialism. We must struggle for Arab unity as a road towards liberation, development and socialism.
Will Syria go this way after victory? This is what we must struggle for.
 See the following:
Our goal is to destroy Lebanon, Syria and Jordan. After that Syria will fall into our hands.”Zeév Jabotinsky, Zionist militant: Source -“We and Turkey” in Di Tribune, November 30, 1915.
And see David Ben-Gurion, From “Ben-Gurion, A Biography” by Michael Ben-Zahra, May 1948 wrote:
”-Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA), from strategy paper #474 “Priorities in Lebanon & Syria”, March 2, 2005
Ben Gurion said that he is ready to pay any Arab Emir prince to encourage him to launch war against Israel.
Quoted in The Global Political Economy of Israel by Jonathan Nitzan and Shimshon Bichler, Pluto Press, 2002.p. 102 .
 Adel Samara, Palestinian Capitalism from Dependency to Independent Crisis, al-Zahra Publications, Jerusalem 1991.(Arabic)
 The best source for that is what Edward Said wrote that he was mediating between Arafat and US Imperialism since 1969. Edward W. Said Peace & Discontents: Gaza Jericho 1993-1995. Vintage, 1995.