12: Save Kevin Cooper; The crisis in Syria with Anand Gopal and Yasser Munif

May 28, 2018

Independent journalist Anand Gopal and Syrian-American activist Yasser Munif answer all our questions, and probably yours, about Syria — describing the Syrian uprising of 2011, its links to the Arab Spring and the counterrevolution that crushed it.

Anand has traveled to Syria multiple times as an unembedded journalist since 2011, 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. government. Yasser is a Syrian-American activist who was in Syria at the beginning of the revolution and is writing a book about how the Syrian resistance is building an underground society to survive the brutality of the regime.

The two provide a history of the Syrian Revolution often ignored by many left-wing and pro-Palestine activists, including journalists who have embedded with Syrian regime forces and traveled on regime-sponsored tours who 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 U.S. isn’t interested in “regime change” but would like to see Assadism without Assad.

They describe two streams of counterrevolution — the regime and reactionary Islamist forces, both 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, arguing 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 wrote a piece in the New York Times (http://bit.ly/SaveCooper) detailing the mountain of evidence that shows that Cooper was framed by police who planted evidence. In 2004, Cooper came within hours of execution, which was halted in large part by a massive campaign by the Free Kevin Cooper Campaign (http://bit.ly/CooperCampaign), the Campaign to End the Death Penalty (http://bit.ly/NoDeathPenalty) and other activists. Once again, he is facing execution and activists are calling on Gov. Jerry Brown to grant clemency so that new evidence in Cooper’s case can be investigated. Listeners are encouraged to sign the petition (http://bit.ly/CooperPetition).

Read an interview with Anand Gopal in Socialist Worker (http://bit.ly/AnandRuderSW) about his investigative piece for the New York Times, “The Uncounted” (http://bit.ly/Uncounted), about the underreported civilian casualties of U.S. airstrikes in Iraq and Syria.

Interviews with Gopal have also appeared at Democracy Now! (http://bit.ly/AnandDN), in the International Socialist Review about the roots of ISIS (http://bit.ly/AnandISR) and another at Socialist Worker on whether the U.S. wants regime change in Syria (http://bit.ly/AnandSW).

Read Yasser Munif’s review of Burning Country, a book about the Syrian Revolution and civil war, for the International Socialist Review (http://bit.ly/YasserISR) or his interview with Yusef Khalil for Jacobin about the question of Syria and the left (http://bit.ly/YasserJacobin). Listen to his interviews with Democracy Now! during siege of Aleppo (http://bit.ly/YasserDNFall) and about the Syrian activists working to continue the Arab Spring (http://bit.ly/YasserDNSpring).