The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

The Population Left to Fend for Itself

Feb 20, 2023

This article is translated from the February 15 issue, #2846 of Lutte Ouvrière (Workers Struggle), the paper of the revolutionary workers group of that name active in France.

In Syria, the death toll from the February 6 earthquake in the northwest of the country continues to rise. Thousands of people were injured, and 2.5 million Syrian children badly impacted, according to UNICEF.

The inhabitants themselves were the only ones to try to find survivors. With their bare hands, or with the help of rudimentary tools, risking life and limb, they managed to save survivors trapped under the rubble. Those pulled out alive then must survive the cold and hunger.

This disaster struck a country already devastated by more than ten years of war, pitting Bashar al-Assad’s army against armed gangs and militias of various stripes. Idlib province is at the center of the earthquake zone. More than three million people live there, mostly displaced from war zones. It is held by one of the militias still at war with the Syrian regime, a former branch of al-Qaeda in Syria, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham. The Turkish army occupies part of the Kurdish region—protection of the population is the least of their concerns.

Since well before the earthquake, Idlib has only received humanitarian aid by the spoonful from Turkey, through a single crossing point. But the roads that allow access were damaged by the earthquake and have become impassable. The Syrian government has finally authorized the opening, for three months, of two new crossing points with Turkey, asking in exchange for a reduction in American and European sanctions.

The population does not see any help coming from the Western countries. "How is it possible that the UN has sent barely fourteen truckloads of aid? We have received nothing here. People are on the street," said a resident of Harem, a town in northern Syria. European leaders at the European Commission meeting on February 8, two days after the earthquake, merely agreed to provide aid to Syria, which the affected population is still waiting for.

The U.S. has so far kept to declarations. They will finally ease the sanctions they have imposed. But they have long been responsible for the worsening of the situation in the country, which sinks into misery, where hospitals and schools have been abandoned and cholera has reappeared. The leaders of the imperialist countries do not care about the fate of the Syrian people any more than the regime itself.