12: Save Kevin Cooper; Revolution and Counter-Revolution in Syria with Anand Gopal and Yasser Munif

We talk to Anand Gopal and Yasser Munif about the revolution and counter-revolution in Syria. Anand has travelled to Syria multiple times as an unembedded journalist starting in 2011 and returning from his most recent visit in May. This gives him an almost unparalleled ability to untangle the lies and hypocrisy of both Assad’s regime and the U.S. Yasser is a Syrian-American activist who was in Syria at the beginning of the revolution and is studying the Arab revolutions. He is writing a book about how the Syrian resistance is building an underground society to survive the brutality of the regime.

Yasser and Anand answer all our questions, and probably yours, about Syria. They describe the Syrian uprising of 2011 and its links to the Arab Spring. Many left-wing and pro-Palestine activists, including journalists who have embedded with Syrian regime forces and traveled on regime-sponsored tours, ignore this history and argue that the resistance forces are simply tools of U.S. imperialism and regime change.

Yasser and Anand refute these charges and offer a dynamic analysis of U.S. imperial goals in Syria. Anand outlines the three stages of U.S. intervention--the first being the U.S. military and diplomatic efforts to prevent the Syrian revolutionaries from obtaining weapons to defend themselves against a murderous regime. They argue that the US is not interested in “regime change,” but would like to see Assadism without Assad.

They describe two currents of counter-revolution--the regime and reactionary Islamist forces. Both are backed by competing imperialist and sub-imperialist powers. They argue that anti-imperialists need to stand in solidarity with the popular forces that are opposed to both of these forces.

Most importantly, Yasser and Anand point to sources of hope. They argue that the democratic forces in Syria are small and embattled, but still exist. Many of the 5.5 million Syrian refugees are revolutionaries and are a radicalizing and destabilizing presence throughout the Middle East. They link the Syrian revolution to the wider developments in the Middle East, including the current uprising in Palestine, and the process of rebuilding a new left throughout the region.

In our opener, we talk about the case of Kevin Cooper, an innocent man facing execution on California’s death row. Nicholas Kristof has written a major piece for the NY Times (bit.ly/SaveCooper) detailing the mountain of evidence that Cooper is innocent and was framed by police who planted evidence. Cooper came within hours of being executed in 2004. A massive campaign by the Free Kevin Cooper Campaign (bit.ly/CooperCampaign), the Campaign to End the Death Penalty (bit.ly/NoDeathPenalty) and other activists. Once again, he is facing execution and activists are calling on Democratic Governor Jerry Brown to grant clemency so that new evidence in Cooper’s case can be investigated. Listeners are encouraged to sign the petition (bit.ly/CooperPetition).

Writings and Interviews of Anand Gopal:

Interview in Socialist Worker (http://bit.ly/AnandRuderSW) about his major investigative piece for the NY Times, The Uncounted (bit.ly/Uncounted), about the underreported civilian casualties of US airstrikes in Iraq and Syria.

Democracy Now! (bit.ly/AnandDN) interview

Interview with International Socialist Review about the roots of ISIS (bit.ly/AnandISR).

Interview with Ashley Smith for Socialist Worker on whether the US wants regime change (bit.ly/AnandSW).

Writings and Interviews of Yasser Munif:

Review of Burning Country, about the Syrian revolution and civil war, for the International Socialist Review (bit.ly/YasserISR).

Interview with Yusef Khalil for Jacobin about the question of Syria and the Left (bit.ly/YasserJacobin).

Democracy Now! Interviews during siege of Aleppo (bit.ly/YasserDNFall) and about the Syrian activists working to continue the Arab Spring (bit.ly/YasserDNSpring).