—Saskia Baas

Saskia Baas is a social scientist and holds a PhD from the University of Amsterdam. She has done extensive research on armed revolutionary movements in Sudan and Syria.

    Syria and the Problem of Left Solidarity

    by Donya Alinejad & Saskia Baas


    Since January, Syria has seen escalations in violence and civilian casualties in two conflict areas. Afrin, the Kurdish-held enclave along the Turkish border, has seen increased fighting since the Turkish military entered the area by force on January 19th this year. To date, the fighting has left an estimated 112 civilians dead. Meanwhile, in Eastern Ghouta, only a few hours’ drive away from Afrin, the Syrian military is finishing off final pockets of resistance through a brutal extermination campaign in which civilians are systematically targeted. Decisively reinforced by Russian air and Iranian ground forces, the bloodshed is reminiscent of the assault on Aleppo just over a year ago, during which more than 30,000 Syrians were killed. The civilian death toll in Eastern Ghouta has risen to include 1,070 civilians over the past three months.

    As the tragedy in Afrin develops, North American and European leftist platforms have been disseminating calls by Kurdish armed groups for solidarity with victims of military violence in Syria’s northern district of Afrin. Such solidarity is much needed and deserved, but so is international solidarity with civilians elsewhere in Syria. Instead, the Western Left has largely remained silent in the face of the unimpeded massacre in Eastern Ghouta. The striking hypocrisy forces us to re-examine how our concept of international solidarity applies to the unarmed victims of this war.