World in View: Sudan and Syria test revolutionaries

September 2, 2019

From the September-October 2019 issue of News & Letters

The Sudanese Revolution reaches a crossroads, with the accord between the revolutionary Forces for Freedom and Change and the genocidal Transitional Military Council signed on Aug. 4. On the one hand is the vision of a democratic Sudan defined by the rule of law, human rights, a free press, peace and freedom; on the other, a military dominated by General Hemedti, the genocidal butcher of Darfur.

Part of the protest near the army headquarters in Khartoum, Sudan,
April 7, 2019. (Photo: M. Saleh via Wikipedia).

It is a “unity” that can’t hold.

The armed defenders of Darfur, South Kordofan, and Blue Nile are forced to reject this artificial unity because they are its absolute opposite. The revolutionaries of Khartoum are forced to accept it, for the moment, or be plunged into further massacres.

It is the kind of revolutionary dilemma that can’t be placed only on the backs of the masses. The Sudanese revolutionaries must receive the practical and theoretical solidarity of all who aspire to a better world. It isn’t too much to say that this is the universal dilemma of our contemporary world.

It also isn’t too much to say that this type of dilemma is exactly why Marxism exists.


The death of Syrian revolutionary icon  while fighting Assad’s genocide in Idlib, on June 8, brought memories of the high point of the Syrian Revolution in Homs in 2012. Sunni soccer star Sarout and the Alawite actress Fadwa Suleiman then led massive, multi-ethnic demonstrations calling for freedom and dignity. It was a crossroads for the world.

The Syrian Revolution had reached out to all humanity. In the words of Sarout’s friend and comrade Khaled Abu Salah, it spoke: “We ask, do the Syrian people not belong to your community, the human community? Bread alone is not enough for humans to live. But there are people on this earth who are still without bread. They are calling to you, inheritors of the Age of Enlightenment, in the name of the absolute value of human life.”

This call, sadly, disgracefully, wasn’t answered. It represented a failure—not of the Syrian revolutionary masses, but of the theoreticians and activists who failed to rise to the historic moment, who failed the test of world politics. The rethinking that has been so striking among Free Syrians, in memory of Sarout, must become a moment of new theoretical clarity for the world freedom movements.

We all stand alongside the revolutionaries of Sudan and Syria at those crossroads of history, between freedom and genocide.

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