Arab party under fire for supporting Assad on Aleppo
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Arab party under fire for supporting Assad on Aleppo

Hadash chair issues clarification after head of its Communist faction calls regime actions in city ‘turning point in defeating imperialist assaults’

Syrian pro-regime fighters gesture as they drive past residents fleeing violence in the restive Bustan al-Qasr neighborhood, in Aleppo. December 13, 2016. (AFP/Stringer)
Syrian pro-regime fighters gesture as they drive past residents fleeing violence in the restive Bustan al-Qasr neighborhood, in Aleppo. December 13, 2016. (AFP/Stringer)

The Hadash party — one of four parties that makes up the Joint (Arab) List faction in the Knesset — came under fire after one its officials declared support for the Syrian government’s brutal advance in Aleppo.

The comments on the Hadash Facebook page written Friday by Adal Amar, who heads the party’s Communist faction, also stirred angry debate over its position on the Syrian civil war.

“The reunification of the city of [Aleppo] from terror organizations is a turning point… in defeating the imperialist and reactionary assaults on nations of this region,” Amar wrote.

“The reunification of [Aleppo] ends plans to divide Syria, and reflects the failure of US, Turkish, Saudi and Qatari strategy and their inability to continue protecting terror organizations that devastated Syria and ruled over civilians with terror,” he said.

The comments sparked an angry discussion between party members and left-wing activists over where Hadash loyalties lie when it comes to Syria. Hadash activists told the Haaretz daily on Saturday the backlash to Amar’s post was the result of internal differences between party members over radical and more moderate ideologies.

Joint (Arab) List chairman Ayman Odeh addresses a question to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the assembly hall of the parliament, July 18, 2016. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)
Joint (Arab) List chairman Ayman Odeh addresses a question to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the assembly hall of the parliament, July 18, 2016. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

The online row prompted Hadash leader Ayman Odeh, who also heads the Joint List faction in the Knesset, to clarify that the party does not support either Syrian President Bashar Assad or the rebel factions.

“Neither I nor the Joint List support the Assad regime. We support the people of Syria, and support a free and democratic government,” Odeh said in a statement.

He said the ongoing fighting was rooted in rule of a decades-long authoritarian regime that gave way to “a popular battle for democracy that any person of conscience and morality must support.”

But, Odeh said, supporting Syrian rebels was not an option given the inclusion of radical Islamist groups.

“This battle has unfortunately been hijacked by savages like the [al-Nusra front and the Islamic State] so it is not possible to remain human and side with such dark forces,” he said.

The head of the left-wing Meretz party, Zehava Galon, slammed Hadash for Amar’s post, saying its “ongoing support of Assad and [Russian President Vladimir] Putin is a stain on their party, almost as Aleppo itself is a hideous blot in the world’s conscience and a disastrous failure of the international community.”

Aleppo has been ravaged by some of the worst violence of the nearly six-year Syrian civil war that has killed more than 310,000 people.

In the last week, Syrian forces, backed by Russia, drove out the last remaining rebel-held enclaves in a brutal onslaught that is said to have killed hundreds.

Meanwhile, thousands of trapped civilians and the last remaining opposition fighters in Aleppo were waiting for evacuations to resume on Saturday, a day after the operation was suspended by the Syrian government.

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