Category Archives: Libya

Once derided, Gaddafi’s warnings about jihadists now used to justify Mali intervention

Standard

By Stephen Gowans
December 20, 2013

In today’s New York Times, Steven Erlanger justifies the French intervention in Mali on these grounds:

• It responds to “a direct request from a legitimate government.”
• It combats “the spread of radical Islamists, some of them foreign jihadists, strongly connected to terrorist groups like Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.”

Erlanger uses the word “legitimate” to describe Mali’s government. “Democratic” carries more weight, but the description doesn’t fit. Mali is governed by a military dictatorship, a truth one suspects Erlanger would prefer not to draw attention to. Being every bit a salesman, Erlanger presses “legitimate” into use as an inferior, though still high-sounding, surrogate for “democratic”. A military operation to help a legitimate government must be legitimate, right?

Wrong. How can a French military operation in a North African country be legitimate, when not too long ago France undertook what was then called a legitimate intervention in another North African country, Libya, with the opposite aims:

• Not to support, but to topple a legitimate government;
• Not to stop the spread of radical Islam, but to help radical Islamists, some of them foreign jihadists, strongly connected to terrorist groups like Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, overthrow a legitimate government?

In other words, the Mali operation is the very antithesis of the Libyan one. Yet, according to state officials in France, the United States and Britain and their jingoist Western mass media cheerleaders, both interventions are legitimate. Where the Mali intervention protects a legitimate government, the Libyan intervention toppled one. Where the Mali operation opposes radical Islamists, the Libyan operation aided them.

It can’t possibly be true that Western governments are against radical Islamists as a matter of principle, when the principal financial and ideological backer of militant Sunni Islamism, Saudi Arabia, is a treasured ally. Nor can it be true when Western powers backed radical Islamists against:

• The leftist Afghan government in the 1980s,
• Yugoslavia’s social democracy in the 1990s,
• Gaddafi’s economic nationalism in Libya,
• Assad’s secular nationalist government in Syria.

It can’t be true that Western powers are against despots, dictators, and absolutist monarchs, when they’ve backed so many of them in the past, and continue to back them in the present, from the potentates of the Gulf Cooperation Council to the military regime in Mali.

Neither are Western powers committed to backing struggles against tyrannies as struggles against tyrannies. On countless occasions, they’ve either stood idly by as tyrannies repressed democratic rebellions, or energetically aided their autocratic allies’ efforts to crush opposition. For a recent example, we need only turn to the crackdown on the rebellion in absolutist Bahrain, assisted by the same countries which supplied arms to misnamed “democrats” in Libya and equip the Muslim Brothers and foreign jihadists in Syria. Washington has done nothing to stop the crackdown in Bahrain, let alone vigorously protested it. The British, for their part, invited the offending tyrant to the royal wedding of Kate and William.

Erlanger notes that the Mali intervention “has been popular” and that it commands the support of three quarters of the French, according to one poll. This is a nod to the prowess of Erlanger’s cohorts in the trade of shaping public opinion, and the superficial attention most people pay to foreign affairs. It’s also an attempt to prop up his argument that the intervention is legitimate. After all, a military operation supported by a solid majority can hardly be a base affair, corrupted by hypocrisy and crass commercial interests, can it? And if you should happen to be against the French helping an ally defend itself against jihadists, Erlanger’s letting you know you’re on the wrong side of public opinion.

“The French people are ready to support a military operation as long as the objectives are clear and seem legitimate,” a French analyst told the Times’ reporter. Well, no, the French people are willing to support a military operation so long as no one calls upon them to risk their lives and pay higher taxes, what “support for war” used to mean. No longer. Today, support means feeling good about France and nothing more.

The French will continue to feel good about themselves so long as there are few French fatalities in Mali and so long as the connection between covering the costs of the war and higher taxes, is obscured. Payment must be deferred, and then concealed, preferably in tax hikes on the poor and middle class to cover (wink-wink) skyrocketing social welfare expenditures.

So here we are. Gaddafi was sneered at when he said that the rebellion that erupted against him in Benghazi was the work of radical Islamists, some of them foreign jihadists, strongly connected to terrorist groups like Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb. He was just as contemptuously dismissed when he warned, “if he fell, chaos and holy war would overtake North Africa.” Now that chaos and holy war threaten to overtake a Western client, Gaddafi’s words are being treated with new respect. In death, the man once ridiculed as a buffoon has become a sage.

Source

By Design: French Mali Invasion Spills into Algeria

Standard

By Tony Cartalucci
January 17, 2013

Exactly as predicted, the ongoing French “intervention” in the North African nation of Mali has spilled into Algeria – the next most likely objective of Western geopolitical interests in the region since the successful destabilization of Libya in 2011.

In last week’s “France Displays Unhinged Hypocrisy as Bombs Fall on Mali” report, it was stated specifically that:

“As far back as August of 2011, Bruce Riedel out of the corporate-financier funded think-tank, the Brookings Institution, wrote “Algeria will be next to fall,” where he gleefully predicted success in Libya would embolden radical elements in Algeria, in particular AQIM. Between extremist violence and the prospect of French airstrikes, Riedel hoped to see the fall of the Algerian government. Ironically Riedel noted:

Algeria has expressed particular concern that the unrest in Libya could lead to the development of a major safe haven and sanctuary for al-Qaeda and other extremist jihadis.

And thanks to NATO, that is exactly what Libya has become – a Western sponsored sanctuary for Al-Qaeda. AQIM’s headway in northern Mali and now French involvement will see the conflict inevitably spill over into Algeria. It should be noted that Riedel is a co-author of “Which Path to Persia?” which openly conspires to arm yet another US State Department-listed terrorist organization (list as #28), the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK) to wreak havoc across Iran and help collapse the government there – illustrating a pattern of using clearly terroristic organizations, even those listed as so by the US State Department, to carry out US foreign policy.”

Now, it is reported that “Al Qaeda-linked” terrorists have seized American hostages in Algeria in what is being described by the Western press as “spill over” from France’s Mali operations.

The Washington Post, in their article, “Al-Qaida-linked militants seize BP complex in Algeria, take hostages in revenge for Mali,” claims:

“As Algerian army helicopters clattered overhead deep in the Sahara desert, Islamist militants hunkered down for the night in a natural gas complex they had assaulted Wednesday morning, killing two people and taking dozens of foreigners hostage in what could be the first spillover from France’s intervention in Mali.”

The Wall Street Journal, in its article, “Militants Grab U.S. Hostages in Algeria,” reports that:

“Militants with possible links to al Qaeda seized about 40 foreign hostages, including several Americans, at a natural-gas field in Algeria, posing a new level of threat to nations trying to blunt the growing influence of Islamist extremists in Africa.As security officials in the U.S. and Europe assessed options to reach the captives from distant bases, Algerian security forces failed in an attempt late Wednesday to storm the facility.”

The WSJ also added:

“Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said the U.S. would take “necessary and proper steps” in the hostage situation, and didn’t rule out military action. He said the Algeria attack could represent a spillover from Mali.”

And it is military action, both covert and incrementally more overt, that will see the West’s extremist proxies and the West’s faux efforts to stem them, increasingly creep over the Mali-Algerian border, as the old imperial maps of Europe are redrawn right before our eyes.

Image: The French Empire at its height right before the World Wars. The regions that are now Libya, Algeria, Mali, and the Ivory Coast all face reconquest by the French and Anglo-Americans, with French troops literally occupying the region and playing a pivotal role in installing Western-friendly client regimes. Also notice Syria too, was a French holding – now under attack by US-British-French funded, armed, and backed terrorists – the same terrorists allegedly being fought in Mali and now Algeria.

Meanwhile, these very same terrorist forces continue to receive funding, arms, covert military support, and diplomatic recognition in Syria, by NATO, and specifically the US and France who are both claiming to fight the “Free Syrian Army’s” ideological and very literal allies in North Africa.

In reality, Al Qaeda is allowing the US and France to intervene and interfere in Algeria, after attempts in 2011 to trigger political subversion was soundly defeated by the Algerian government. Al Qaeda is essentially both a casus belli and mercenary force, deployed by the West against targeted nations. It is clear that French operations seek to trigger armed conflict in Algeria as well as a possible Western military intervention there as well, with the Mali conflict serving only as a pretense.

Source

The Tragedy-Cum-Farce in Algeria

Standard

What If David Cameron was Lying? How Would We Know?

By Afshin Rattansi
January 19, 2013

The end of the Gaddafi regime in Libya was celebrated with breath-taking idiocy by European leaders and a genuflecting corporate media. Fifteen months later, the media is reporting on neighbouring Algeria, the largest country in Africa – and one where a hostage-rescue mission has ended in carnage.

Either the UK Prime Minister David Cameron is telling the truth and wasn’t even notified by French-proxy President Bouteflika of Algeria or he is lying when it comes to what happened at the heavily fortified BP-Statoil plant near Tigantourine, deep in the Sahara desert. If Cameron is telling the truth, then why should it seem so insolent for a sovereign leader to react to mission-critical information on the ground and initiate an attack? Would Obama, Hollande or Cameron inform Algiers if they had received a call from their special forces on the ground on an imminent attack on the hostages? Algeria isn’t really a sovereign country and there might as well never have been the Battle of Algiers, what with the appalling redistribution of wealth accruing from the energy sector and all the foreign private and state actors on the ground.

But what if Cameron was lying – how would we know? And why are journalists so unquestioning when they receive information from their political leaders? How many years has it been since Iraq when UK journalists were supposed to get the hang of the idea that those in power don’t always tell the truth? Today, Libya is a catastrophe with no corporate journalists to cover it. Meanwhile, NATO’s attempts at destroying Assad’s secular government by funding Al Qaeda has led only to strengthening Wahabism. No wonder it’s difficult to work out what is going on if individual journalists take power at face value.

More pertinently, the whole tragedy-cum-farce at the Ain Amenas energy facility is a grim reminder of how pointless and misguided is NATO in their trans-global attempts at securing energy resources and playing off different sides. This isn’t the nineteenth century any more.

NATO weapons were poured in before French and British premiers could proudly declare victory in Libya – that energy rich land on the Mediterranean with some of the sweetest oil in the world. Britain, in particular, chose to back exactly the kind of people that cheered the September 11th 2001 attacks on Washington and New York. Why did they do this? To a large part, because government drew on an entire echelon of academic and intelligence analysts who have completely misunderstood the world since the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.

While U.S. President Bill Clinton sowed the seeds of the economic destruction of the United States with the abolition of Glass–Steagall, a concurrent suicidal foreign policy was well underway. In its own hemisphere, the U.S. made useless attempts at supressing Latin and Central American rage against U.S. power as the tide turned against American death squads, assassinations and terrorism.

There was continuing massive American support for that terrorist entity in the heart of the Middle East – Israel. The Zionists rewarded the U.S. in return by backing Salafists who despised everything the United States ever stood for.

And, all the way, Europe with its absurd EU institutions and crazy European currency, followed U.S. policy because of assumptions about the future of capitalism, markets and a neoliberal version of what Enlightenment thinking was actually about. Like levers, each intricately pulled to reach this outcome, we have a conjunction of Europe on its knees trying to clamber out of economic catastrophe and a new guerrilla warfare that even Che Guevara might never have imagined.

The faintly ridiculous anti-Marxist trend of identity politics without attendant superstructural contexts of class has reached a stage long predicted by its detractors. We have the sighs of the oppressed amplified around the world and only those powers who negotiate with it can progress – take a look at BRICS GDP figures. China’s come out today so expect earnest downplaying from Western media.

NATO as an organisation might as well be a Wahabi Loya Jurga in the Hindu Kush for all it has done to spread the toxic views of Osama bin Laden and his “evil-doers”. Meanwhile, the world’s next superpowers negotiate with multivariate parties, gaining an economic foothold here, a strategic partnership there.

As France’s Francois Hollande tries desperately to cling on to Uranium resources in pan-national, Tuareg West Africa to manufacture ever more nuclear weapons, it should be obvious that his mission will end in failure. As late as 11 December 2012, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon was saying that the UN Security Council should not approve any UN financial support for war in Mali. The Chapter VII UN resolution 2085 talks about an “Africa-led” force to foster peace – though EU corporate media say French airstrikes are covered by that resolution. But, in any case, weren’t the UK SAS, France’s GIGN and U.S. Deltas already on the ground in Mali? There are now European ground troops. And there will be asymmetric warfare in civilian areas of European cities in the years to come.

A quarter of a millennium before the creation of the United States, Sunni Ali, made Gao (today in Mali) the capital of the Songhay Empire. It is currently enduring airstrikes from French Rafale planes using ordnance that costs unimaginable multiples of the average wage in Uranium-rich Mali. Ali was succeeded by Askia Muhammad the Great and the 16th-century Moroccan explorer Leo Africanus said of Africa’s Songhay Empire that “more profit [was] made from the book trade than from any other line of business.” NATO leaders could do worse than read a few books before they sacrifice everything for access to Uranium to proliferate nuclear weapons of mass destruction. And while they’re about it, they can stop funding “Al Qaeda”.

AFSHIN RATTANSI is the author of “The London Novels: The Dream of the Decade” and runs Alternate Reality Productions Ltd. One of its commissions is Double Standards, a political satire show for Press TV, broadcast every Saturday at 2230 GMT. Shows can be accessed via www.doublestandardstv.com. He can be reached via afshinrattansi@hotmail.com

Source

Libya: Green resistance on the rise

Standard

The following article below was originally published by the Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist-Leninist)

Rise of the Green Jamahiriya!

Libya: Green resistance on the rise

The people of Libya struggle to regain what they have lost

In October 2011 the leader of the green revolution in Libya, Colonel Gaddafi, was brutally murdered by mercenary thugs backed by the West, after an eight-month Nato bombing campaign that devastated the country. A year on, that ‘victory’ for imperialism is looking increasingly hollow, with the puppets in Tripoli barely able to hold a government together for a week at a time or exercise any authority in the country, and the puppet army increasingly sidelined by rival warring militia.

Meanwhile, the green resistance, supposedly defunct, is making itself felt in ways that the media strive to ignore but Washington dares not.

The bitter truth for imperialism is that memories of Libya’s four decades of economic and social progress remain evergreen in the minds of millions of her citizens, despite all the lies pumped out about ‘Gaddafi the monster’. This means that the resistance fighters have been able to regroup and build up their attacks, strong in the knowledge of the widespread popular sympathy for their actions.

The inconvenient truth for the West is that the resistance, for which the last rites were read a full year ago, never really went away, and is now back with a vengeance.

Bani Walid: hero city of the green revolution

Symptomatic of the enduring loyalty and patriotism of most Libyans has been the refusal of the citizens of the northern city of Bani Walid to bow the head before the quisling government in Tripoli, instead preserving their town as a bastion of sanity whilst much of the country is torn apart by imperialist subversion and tribal conflicts. When the country’s legitimate leadership was brutally ousted by Nato, the citizens formed a Council of Elders to conduct the city’s affairs.

Desperate to reassert their own waning political authority, the puppets decided to make an example of the unacceptably loyal citizens of Bani Walid. The pretext for what was clearly intended as punitive expedition by the puppet army against its own citizens (the very act of which Colonel Gaddafi was so falsely accused) was the demise of one Omran Shaaban, the traitor ‘credited’ with having apprehended Colonel Gaddafi, delivering him at once into the hands of his psychopathic murderers.

Shaaban met his own richly-deserved end in disputed circumstances, after suffering injury when refusing to stop at a city checkpoint in Bani Walid. Even though this imperialist hireling fittingly expired in a Parisian hospital bed, his ‘martyrdom’ was deemed a sufficient pretext for the puppets to issue a decree, Resolution 7, giving the puppet army exceptional powers to use all and any means necessary to take full control of the city.

Even within the puppet General National Council (GNC) itself, voices were raised to protest that such a decree provides carte blanche for genocide. In vain did Bani Walid’s Council of Elders protest that the decree was illegitimate and unconstitutional. Indeed, one of the council’s own members was subsequently kidnapped by rats and taken off to their hole in Misrata to face an uncertain fate.

For weeks the puppet army, flanked and frequently outpaced by the ‘unofficial’ militias which led the assault on Bani Walid, combined indiscriminate shelling of civilians with kidnapping, assassination and massacre, terrorising the population and blocking supplies of food, medicine and other essentials. Doctors complained that militias were stopping vehicles carrying medical supplies, personnel and oxygen from getting through.

Yet despite weeks of heavy pounding by mortars, supplemented by gas bombs and white phosphorous, many of the inhabitants of Bani Walid refused to abandon their homes. One eye witness told Russia Today that “Many armed groups came to the main entrance of Bani Walid and they asked the people to get out of the city. We have decided not to go because we want to defend our rights, our homes, and our families.” (7 October 2012)

Those who could endure no more and were obliged to flee then found their return blocked by armed gangs. Many families found themselves stranded on desert roads with no nourishment or protection. Yet Bani Walid still fights on.

Uncle Sam cuts out the middle man

Having failed to fashion itself a puppet government and army capable of implementing the imperialist agenda, imperialism is putting increasing reliance on going direct to the militias to do their dirty work. And it is notable that one of the militia bands most prominent in the counter-revolutionary violence, Libya Shield, has been publicly courted by the White House since it helped rescue the surviving members of the US mission when it came under attack in Benghazi.

The Independent reported that a CIA-led embassy delegation “travelled to Benghazi to meet and recruit fighters directly from the Libyan Shield, a powerful umbrella organisation of militiasGiven complaints from the acting defence minister in the puppet government that “his ministry had no control over Libyan Shield forces from Misrata that had seized Bani Walid, a former Gaddafi loyalist town, and were blocking displaced residents from returning”, it is clear that Washington has only contempt for the government and its ‘official’ army, hoping instead to combat the resistance forces with hired guns. (11 November 2012)

It is equally clear that, for all the pious talk about overcoming tribal divisions and taking the gun out of politics, the US is doing all it can to play on those divisions, hoping thereby to suppress the patriotic resistance forces. When Russia tried to get a draft statement through the UN calling for a peaceful end to the Bani Walid siege, the US blocked the move.

Washington is deluded in its hope that hired militia guns will do any better than the ‘official’ government puppets when it comes to burying the resistance. Despite the near-total blackout on the massive war crimes being committed daily in Bani Walid, and the umpteenth triumphal announcement of the death of Colonel Gaddafi’s son Khamis (again) and capture of his information minister (again), there is no hiding the confusion and panic now besetting imperialism as yet another ‘easy’ warmongering adventure goes so badly wrong.

If it can’t beat Libya’s tiny population into subservience, the Pentagon must be anguishing, how the hell can it prevail against Syria and Iran?

Resistance on the rise

Over the summer, the number of attacks which may reasonably be attributed to the resistance forces kept multiplying despite the severest repression, giving the lie to media accounts which present all the violence as simply tribal squabbling (with the colonial overlord just there to help ‘keep the peace’).

On 10 August, eight resistance fighters were sprung from the Al Fornaj prison in Tripoli after a coordinated attack, the third such attack since Gaddafi’s overthrow. On 18 August, the resistance detonated a car bomb outside a hotel in Tripoli, targeting a vehicle being used by Benghazi security personnel. On 19 August, there were more car bombs in Tripoli, targeting the interior ministry and an interrogation centre.

On 23 August, in a development reminiscent of the escalating ‘green on blue’ violence which is currently warming the tails of the imperialist soldiery in Afghanistan, Abdelmenom Al Hur, spokesman for the Supreme Security Committee told journalists that the resistance had infiltrated many official security units and secured a whole barracks full of heavy armaments.

In September, the airport in Benghazi, which the US had been using as a drone base, had to close after the resistance kept shooting at the drones.

One website reported some more recent activities, including a near-miss assassination attempt against the military leader of the so-called ‘Transitional Council of Cyrenaica’, Hamid al-Hassi, an escape attempt from Koufiya prison in Benghazi and an RPG attack on the Supreme Security Committee in Tripoli. (libyaagainstsuperpowermedia.com, 8 November 2012)

Most damaging of all to imperialist prestige so far has been the attack on the US mission in Benghazi on 11 September, taking the lives of ambassador Stevens and three other colonial overlords.

At first, the Obama line was that the attack was a spontaneous protest sparked by the dissemination of the crassly islamophobic film Innocence of Muslims – a protest that got out of hand! However, the line then switched: it had been a terrorist attack put together by al Qaeda. This seemed, if anything, still lesscredible, given the sterling service that group so recently rendered to US imperialism by mobilising the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group against Gaddafi. Similar objections can be raised against the candidacy of the salafists, no less fervent opponents of the green revolution.

The simplest explanation might turn out to also be the truest: that the attack was carried out by the resistance itself. It certainly sounds like a professional job. An eye witness wounded in the attack reported that about 125 men moved in with machine guns, RPGs, anti-aircraft weapons and grenades, moving systematically through the complex.

And whilst Obama struggled to get his story straight for the rest of the world, the hapless puppets told a plainer tale. Libya’s ‘president’ el-Megariaf, Libya’s ambassadors to the UN and Washington, and the then ‘prime minister’ Abdurrahim El Keib, all began by blaming Gaddafi loyalists for the attack, only subsequently scrambling to tuck in behind the Nato line.

Whether the resistance can add this to their heroic record of anti-imperialist achievements or whether it turns out to be another spectacular own-goal, the end result is the same: a slap in the face for US imperialism, leaving it confused, humiliated and increasingly divided in its counsels.

The same is true for many other anti-puppet actions, which it is not possible at this stage to ascribe with certainty to the resistance. If imperialism’s own puppets fall prey to the chaotic tribal divisions which their masters have themselves sown, then so be it. The imperialists yet again lift a rock to crush their enemies, only to drop it on their own feet.

Thieves fall out

When, on 26 October, General Petraeus’s girlfriend chose to regale the public with gems from her pillow talk with the now disgraced head of the CIA, she kicked a hornets’ nest, revealing sharp conflicts within imperialist ruling circles.

“Now, I don’t know if a lot of you have heard this but the CIA annex had actually taken a couple of Libyan militia members prisoner, and they think that the attack on the consulate was an effort to try get these prisoners back, so that’s still being vetted … The facts that came out today is that the ground forces there at the CIA annex, which is different from the consulate, were requesting reinforcements. They were requesting the – it’s called the CINC’s (Commander-in-Chief’s) In Extremis Force – a group of Delta Force operators, our very, most talented guys we have in the military. They could have come and reinforced the consulate and the CIA annex that were under attack …

“It is a tragedy that we lost an ambassador and two other government officials, and there was a failure in the system because there was additional security requested … It’s frustrating to see the sort of political aspect of what’s going on with this whole investigation … the challenge has been the fog of war, and the greater challenge is that it’s political hunting season, and so this whole thing has been politicised.”

Standing by her man in a declaration that her man might have preferred to have remained unsaid, Paula Broadwell babbled that the “challenging thing” for Petraeus was having to keep quiet about what was really going on: “So he’s known all of this – they had correspondence with the CIA station chief in Libya, within 24 hours they kind of knew what was happening.”

Yes, it must be hell having to run the CIA and tell ever-taller tales on behalf of a system of global exploitation and domination that is going so spectacularly wrong. Ms Broadwell’s guileless exposure of the warm fraternal relations in place between the Oval office, the Pentagon and Foggy Bottom affords us a welcome glimpse of the stresses and strains obtaining within ruling circles as crisis-stricken imperialism wades deeper into yet another swamp of its own making. May it sink without trace.

Victory to the green resistance!
Death to the rats! 
Death to the king rat: imperialism!

China-Bashing, Syria & The “Degenerate Left”

Standard

The following article below was originally published by the Return to the Source news blog:

By Vince Sherman
December 12, 2012

The Syrian Armed Forces defending national sovereignty from foreign-backed terrorists.

The US State Department’s formal recognition of the Syrian Opposition Coalition (SOC) is no small occurrence in the imperialist world’s campaign to topple Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. To pretend, as many on the US left do, that the US and France have not actively struggled against Assad by materially supporting the rebels is no longer possible, even from a standpoint of technicalities. Arms and ammunition continue to flow to the rebels in Syria, and whether this lethal aid is delivered by the Central Intelligence Agency or puppet regimes in the Persian Gulf makes no difference to the fundamental imperialist mission afoot in Syria.

The US may not launch a military strike in Syria – no small thanks would go to China and Russia for providing material solidarity in the form of military deterrence – but the cruise-missile leftists at The North Star cannot continue to claim that “that, from the standpoint of the U.S.-Israeli alliance, there are no good options or outcomes as a result of the Syrian revolution.” (1)

In response to the chemical weapons allegations that emerged last week from Washington, Pham Binh – the author of “Lybia and Syria: When Anti-Imperialism Goes Wrong” – penned another screed denouncing the anti-imperialist left in favor of the rebellion. Binh claims that the threat of military intervention against Syria is empty, but he goes further in his denunciation of anti-imperialism by asserting that the US and Western Europe have a vested interest in seeing Assad remain in power.

Identifying, examining and combating the basic premises of what Takis Fotopoulos calls the “degenerate left” is important in light of the left’s disunity on the question of Syria. Most leftists do not take positions as horrifying as The North Star has, but the rejection of Marxism-Leninism as a means of understanding imperialism has put many on the US left in the camp of the imperialists themselves.

One of the principle reasons for the abandonment of anti-imperialism is the US left’s willingness to engage in China-bashing and not acknowledge China’s important role in world politics. As the second largest economic power in the world, China’s rise has effectively changed the way US imperialism operates and today functions as a counter-weight for aggression in Syria. Though their role is rife with contradictions, identifying China as an enemy, rather than a very important friend, of the global anti-imperialist movement is a dangerous starting point that leads to equally dangerous – and degenerate – conclusions.

China-Bashing & the “Degenerate Left”

There is an incredibly small section of the left in the United States and Western Europe that upholds China as a socialist country (Workers World Party, Freedom Road Socialist Organization, and the Party for Socialism & Liberation are the three Marxist groups of note). There is a slightly larger section of the left that has a positive to ambivalent view of China and Chinese influence, including but not limited to the revisionist Communist Party USA and the left-refoundationist Committee for Correspondence on Democracy and Socialism.

However, the majority of the left in the US holds a partially to wholly negative view of China. Groups like the International Socialist Organization (ISO) and the International Marxist Tendency share the same view of China with the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) and the Economist; the view that it is a state capitalist country.

The ISO takes this position even further in labeling China an imperialist power on par with the United States. Even US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton could find common ground with this stance, given her comment at a summit in Tanzania last year that China pursues a policy of “new colonialism” in Africa. Clinton made these comments without a hint of irony, just as there is no irony to be found in “China’s Record of Imperialism,” an article that appeared in Socialist Worker in 2009.

This is unsurprisingly a view shared by The North Star, which calls China “an essential support – perhaps the essential support – for capitalist domination internationally.” (2) This is important starting point for understanding the theoretical basis for the “degenerate left,” of which The North Star is a part.

Tellingly, Binh’s latest piece is devoid of any mention of the military or political deterrence provided by China and Russia in Syria. In the original piece defending NATO intervention in Libya and Syria, Binh makes mention of China and Russia’s opposition to a Libya-style intervention, saying:

Paradoxically, NATO’s successful campaign in Libya made a future U.S./NATO campaign in Syria less likely. Russia and China are now determined to block any attempt to apply the Libyan model to Syria at the United Nations Security Council and the Obama administration is not willing to defy either of them by taking Bush-style unilateral military action for the time being.

Five months later, the role of China and Russia are worth nary a mention, even as Binh ridicules the anti-imperialist left for responding to new signs of aggression. Instead, the explanation for Washington’s reluctance to directly intervene on behalf of the rebels is reduced to three major points: (1) Washington does not have the troops necessary to invade and occupy Syria, (2) the US Senate is restricting Obama’s ability to launch a no-fly zone, and (3) the US fundamentally does not want to see Assad toppled because the rebellion is pro-Palestinian and Palestinians support the rebellion.

China and Russia’s Role as Counter-Weights to Imperialism

China and Russia veto the UN’s no-fly zone resolution.

Let’s begin with the second argument about the lack of domestic political support in the US Senate for a no-fly zone. Binh’s argument is laughable given the US, France, and the other imperialist powers already pushed for a no-fly zone through the UN – just as they did a year ago to launch the Libya assault – in June. Had they faced the same abstentions from China and Russia as they did with the Libyan no-fly zone, there is no reason to believe that military intervention would not have occurred already.

However, China and Russia did, in fact, veto the UN Security Council no-fly zone, greatly reducing any perceived international consensus around foreign military operations in Syria. In August, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov “warned the West not to take unilateral action on Syria, saying that Russia and China agree that violations of international law and the United Nations charter are impermissible.” (3) Both China and Russia continue to trade with Syria and break the West’s sanctions on Assad’s government, with Russia going further to actually aid the Syrian government in the conflict. Both China and Russia continue to call for a political solution to the Syrian crisis and explicitly disavow the Free Syrian Army strategy of seizing power through continued warfare. And both China and Russia have opposed US escalation, including the recent placement of Patriot missiles on the Turkish-Syrian border.

Would China and Russia respond militarily if the West unilaterally intervened in Syria? It’s hard to say, although Russia is far more poised to launch a counter-attack to defend Assad’s government. The most salient point is that China and Russia have exerted their influence as a counter-balance to Western imperialism in Syria. The Western imperialist powers may still militarily intervene in Syria, but rest assured that one of the largest obstacles that has kept them at bay to this date is China and Russia.

What should we make of China and Russia’s abstention during the Libyan no-fly zone debate at the UN in 2011, which facilitated NATO’s barbaric assault on the Libyan people and the ouster of Muammar Qaddafi? I would propose that both China and Russia sum it up as a failure; a passive ‘buyer’s remorse’. Martin Beckford of the Telegraph reported this in the early weeks of NATO’s attack:

China, which frequently faces criticism over its own suppression of democracy movements, said it “regretted” the military action and respected Libya’s sovereignty.

A foreign ministry statement said: “China has noted the latest developments in Libya and expresses regret over the military attacks on Libya.

“We hope Libya can restore stability as soon as possible and avoid further civilian casualties due to an escalation of armed conflict,” it added. (4)

Russia’s reaction was similar. China has rarely used its veto power on the Security Council, and post-1991 Russia has followed that path as well, despite both quietly supporting independent nations like Syria. However, the scale and ferocity of the assault on Libya came to change the position of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), who summed up their inaction as a failure which they “regret.”

Dumb & Dumber: China-Bashing and Misplaced Cynicism of the Degenerate Left

Binh and those at The North Star will be quick to point to China and Russia’s commercial interests in Syria, along with their close economic relationship with Iran. Yusef Khalil of the ISO described China and Russia’s veto of a no-fly zone over Syria as “[moving] in to protect their own imperialist interests in the region.” (5)

The question of Russia is an equally important topic but one we will have to reserve for another time.

Admittedly, China is Syria’s top trading partner and largest foreign stake-holder in Syrian oil. (6) After the crippling embargoes set by the West, China has continued purchasing Syrian oil and severely undermines the success of ‘sanction warfare’. (6)

However, this inevitable counter-argument is as faulty and ridiculous as the entire premise that China is an imperialist country. Adel al-Toraifi, the Editor-in-Chief of al-Majalla news, unravels the arguments of anyone claiming that China’s stance on Syria is based on economic considerations:

…China has had strong trade relations with Syria, and strong economic cooperation with the Bashar al-Assad regime since 2001, after both parties signed an agreement on economic and technical cooperation; this means that China is Syria’s third most important trading partner. However the volume of trade between the two countries, which amounted to $2.2 billion in 2010, is nothing in comparison to the commercial exchange between China and the Gulf States, which exceeds more than $90 billion per year. Therefore China is not too concerned about the loss of Syria as an economic partner, however the issue is not one of profit or loss or business considerations, particularly as many Chinese interests are served by opposing the US and European movement to bring about regime change in the Middle East. (7)

Claiming that China, a country that by and large has not exercised its veto power on the Security Council, would suddenly go out on a whim and stand by a minor trading partner like Syria defies logic. Just a crude analysis of the basic numbers reveals that China had more than $20 billion in investments with Libya under Qaddafi’s government, almost ten times the amount of investments in Syria. (8)

Is oil a determinant factor for China’s different line on Syria versus Libya? Not even close. Syria is already a very minor oil producing country by Middle Eastern standards, but less than 1% of Syrian oil exports go to China (less than 4,000 barrels per day). (9) China imported more than 150,00 barrels of Libyan oil per day under Qaddafi, or about 37.5 times the amount imported from Syria. (10)

We could continue unraveling the argument of China’s economic self-interest through economic comparisons. For the sake of the reader, though, let’s cut to the chase: China has considerably less of a stake in defending Syria from Western aggression than it did with Libya, and yet the two questions elicited different responses.

The degenerate left and the right-wing in the US both share a common cynicism for Chinese actions in world affairs. However, the right-wing cynically uses China-bashing as a naked propaganda tactic designed to stir up nativism in the US. The degenerate left, on the other hand, actually seems to believe this farce and repeat the same lies to the detriment of the world anti-imperialist movement.

China-bashing puts the degenerate left just a hop, skip, and a jump from neo-conservatism

China’s foreign policy is a far cry from the critical support given by the Soviet Union to national liberation struggles around the world. In fact, it’s important for anti-imperialists to note and be critical of the foreign policy errors committed by Beijing during the Sino-Soviet Split, which far too many US groups in the New Communist Movement embraced uncritically.

However, the degenerate left lumps China in with the US as a competing imperialist interest in the world with a total neglect of the actual dynamics at play. Because most Western leftists have only witnessed global trade as an affair directed by trans-national corporations, they view China’s role in the world market as part of the same imperialist machine they protest in their own countries. An element of political opportunism plays into this analysis as well when looking at the patently anti-China flames fanned by many trade unions in the US.

The degenerate left’s cynical attitude towards China, even when it does something incredibly laudable like vetoing the no-fly zone resolution, comes primarily from its embrace of anti-China propaganda. The North Star, along with other blogs like Politics in the Zeroes, continue bashing China for the Tiananmen Square “massacre” that even the US admits did not happen. (11) Of course China is always falsely implicated as an imperialist power for their relationship with Tibet, despite the thoroughly feudal and imperialist interests fueling the Free Tibet movement. (12)

For all of its contradictions, China remains a socialist country. The commanding heights of the economy are still controlled by the state, which itself is controlled by the Communist Party and oriented towards working people and peasants. A capitalist sector has developed in China since Deng Xiaoping’s reforms that mirrored Lenin’s own New Economic Policy, but this sector is wholly dependent on the socialist state. And although China is no longer a vocal advocate for world revolution – many would call this revisionism – their line on the Syrian question demonstrates the CCP’s continued commitment to anti-imperialism and independent development.

By rejecting China and the entire socialist experience in the 20th century, the degenerate left already accepts the basic premises of the right-wing and bourgeois elite in the US. Of course it does not stop with just China. If one rejects China as a state capitalist, or even an imperialist state, then one must go further by rejecting bourgeois nationalist states like Assad’s government in Syria or Qaddafi’s government in Libya. Any attempt to support these governments from Western aggression by China, or even Russia, is seen as an inter-imperialist struggle, according to the degenerate left.

With that, the so-called Marxists in the motley crew can dust off Lenin, cite some out-of-context quotes denouncing the Second International, and call it a day. Some, like Binh, skip the Lenin and go straight for Malcolm X, ripping “by any means necessary” so grossly out of context that they use one of the most revolutionary national liberation leaders to justify the very imperialism he fought against. All are smug in their satisfaction that they are opposing tyranny – not even capitalism anymore, but the metaphysical concept of tyranny – on behalf of some imaginary workers movement ‘from below’.

That last point regarding the simplistic and thoroughly anti-dialectical worldview of the degenerate left is very important in understanding its relationship to neo-conservatism. Because Syria is a bourgeois state with a capitalist economy, the degenerate left views Assad’s government and its actions in a political vacuum. There is no dialectical understanding of primary and secondary contradictions, which would reveal that the struggle of oppressed nations against oppressor nations is the principle contradiction facing the Syrian people. Instead, Assad is viewed by the degenerate left the same way Saddam was by the Bush administration: a tyrant who denies his own people freedom and democracy. 

According to this worldview, Assad cannot possibly be progressive in any context because he leads a bourgeois state. Nevermind that he is a nationalist at odds with Western imperialism! Nevermind that the Syrian economy is still largely controlled by the state! Nevermind that he supports national liberation struggles in Palestine and Lebanon! He oppresses his people; a particularly condescending phrase towards whatever people happen to be talked about. And of course there is no discussion or differentiation on the sector of people facing repression by the Syrian state (collaborators, imperialist-sympathizers, terrorists).

China also factors into this tautological worldview. For the degenerate left, international solidarity by a state – any state – is categorically impossible because they consider either most or every state to be capitalist.

Consider the tautology at work here: When China vetoes a no-fly zone resolution, it’s tyrannysupporting tyranny. When China doesn’t veto a no-fly zone resolution in Libya, they are providing “essential support – perhaps the essential support – for capitalist domination internationally.” (2) When Russia positions ships to offset the US’s Patriot missiles in Turkey, it’s an imperialist power looking out for its strategic and commercial interests. If Russia doesn’t oppose Western intervention in Libya, they are silent partners in the imperialist project.

…Or perhaps we have to approach China, and Russia, dialectically by considering their place in relation to imperialism at a given moment in history!

Is it any surprise that several of the Trotskyites from the 20th century, who built their measly political ‘careers’ denouncing every instance of socialism as state capitalism, became neo-conservatives in the Reagan era?* We begin to understand Christopher Hitchens’ disgraceful pro-war line on Iraq when we realize his hatred for all existing socialist countries, which he viewed as capitalist and imperialist powers no better than the US.

Syria, China & the US Left

Military intervention in Syria seems more likely every day. Tragically, the response from the US left seems to grow smaller with every war or military action launched by the Obama administration.

With its significant economic ties to the US and world markets, China could take a more active role in economically pressuring the imperialist powers to not intervene. Ultimately if NATO is dissuaded from a Libya-style intervention over the issue of chemical weapons, Russia’s military presence in the Gulf will probably have more to do with it.

The most salient point is that the degenerate left continues to side with the imperialist powers, whether in word (The North Star) or in deed (the ISO). The US left must discard these bankrupt theories and embrace anti-imperialism if it hopes to build a militant resistance to these criminal attacks; an anti-imperialism that sends a unified message supporting Assad and Syrian self-determination in this period of crisis, as we wrote about this past weekend.

However, the China-bashing of the degenerate left will continue to haunt movements in the US, which find themselves unable to distinguish friend from foe. Russia-bashing, a related topic for another time, also feeds into a simplistic world view alien from the Leninist theory of imperialism. Most assuredly capitalist, Russia is still not an imperialist power and, most importantly, functions as a counterweight to imperialism along with China. Both China and Russia’s involvement in the Syrian crisis have different contradictions, but anti-imperialists would recognize that these two countries have made the subjugation of the Syrian people to Western finance capital more difficult.

Neither China nor Russia are the leaders of the world anti-imperialist movement. That distinction belongs to the masses fighting battling for self-determination and revolution in Colombia, India, Palestine, the Philippines, and all over the world. But the US left must recognize that China is a friend, not an enemy, of the anti-imperialist movement, and it will begin to see questions like Syria much more clearly.

——-

Return to the Source has defended China’s socialist orientation and its role in global trade before, and those interested in a more thorough examination should refer to China & Market Socialism: A Question of State and Revolution.

* By no means should this statement be taken as an indictment on all groups professing ideological heritage to Leon Trotsky. As flawed as we believe many of these groups’ lines and organizing strategies are, there are groups like the Socialist Equality Party have overwhelmingly upheld an anti-imperialist position on Syria.

——-

(1) Pham Binh, The North Star, ““Red Line” or Empty Threat? How the Left Gasses Itself on #Syria,” December 6, 2012, http://bit.ly/RFo9ec

(2) Gabriel Levy, The North Star, “The Trouble With Economic Growth,” October 2, 2012, http://bit.ly/U8zzb7

(3) Reuters, “Russia, China warn West against Syria intervention,” August 21, 2012, http://bit.ly/NhpwI2

(4) Martin Beckford, The Telegraph, “Libya attacks criticised by Arab League, China, Russia and India,” March 21, 2011, http://bit.ly/gS9sHO

(5) Yusef Khalil, Socialist Worker, “A Turning Point in Syria,” May 31, 2012, http://bit.ly/LIFJ7w

(6) Joel Wuthnow, The National Interest, “Why China would intervene in Syria,” July 16, 2012, http://bit.ly/Mzuyjb

(7)Adel al-Toraifi, al-Majalla, “Does China truly support Bashar al-Assad?” February 16, 2012, http://bit.ly/wZsVih

(8) Michael Kan, The African Business Journal, “China’s Investments in Libya,” http://bit.ly/TTv0js

(9) Energy Information Administration, “Country Analysis Briefs: Syria,” Updated August 2011, http://www.eia.gov/cabs/Syria/pdf.pdf

(10) Deborah Brautigam, China in Africa: The Real Story, “China’s Oil Imports From Libya,” March 23, 2011, http://bit.ly/eoRojH

(11) Malcolm Moore, The Telegraph, “Wikileaks: No Bloodshead Inside Tianamen Square, cables claim,” June 4, 2011, http://bit.ly/mxFf3m

(12) Michael Parenti, “Friendly Feudalism: The Tibet Myth,” January 2007, http://www.michaelparenti.org/Tibet.html

Against Left Opportunism: Syria & Anti-Imperialism

Standard

The following article below was originally published by the Return to the Source news blog: 

By Vince Sherman
December 10, 2012

The time has come for the left in the United States to make a choice.

Either it can continue to play into the hands of Western imperialism through its bizarre, undying support for the Syrian rebellion, or it can break decisively from opportunism and consistently uphold Syria’s right to self-determination by supporting President Bashar al-Assad.

NATO’s ruthless assault on Libya proved that all of the Western polemics in the world could not conjure a workers revolution into existence that opposed both Colonel Muammar Qaddafi and NATO. It proved that the call to support the rebellion while also condemning Western aggression was worse than taking no position at all. Liberals and opportunists in the US spent more time criticizing Qaddafi than they did organizing actual resistance to the horrific actions of their own government in Libya, and ultimately they supported the Obama administration’s so-called “humanitarian intervention,” if not in words than certainly in deeds.

With President Barack Obama winning a second term handily over Mitt Romney, the administration no longer has the disincentive towards war with Syria and Iran that it did a little over a month ago. Xinhua and RT challenge the narrative put forward by the Western media about the progress of the Syrian rebellion, arguing that they are essentially locked in a stalemate on the ground coupled with a worsening international situation. CNN, on the other hand, runs stories titled “Syria endgame in sight: ‘We welcome this fight’” that claim a rebel victory is within reach.

Washington tipped its hand last week in revealing the purpose of the propaganda war: Accusing a supposedly desperate Assad of planning to use chemical weapons. Imminent victory for the rebellion is an important component of the pro-war narrative because it gives Assad, by all accounts a rational world leader, a motive for planning a patently irrational action. While the US is in a less advantageous position internationally to launch an assault on Syria than they were ten years ago with Iraq, the possibility of invasion has never been greater.

This is the larger context of the US left’s positions, and it’s shocking how little hue and cry there is over imminent war with Syria. Takis Fotopoulos, the famed Greek left-libertarian political philosopher behind the “inclusive democracy” concept, perfectly describes the phenomenon of leftist support, explicit or tacit, for the criminal attacks on countries like Libya and Syria. In the Winter/Spring 2011 issue of The International Journal of Inclusive Democracy, he wrote of the “degenerate left” in the United States. We will quote him at some length:

The world mass media controlled by the transnational and Zionist elites, crucially assisted this time by the “alternative” world media (from Aljazeera — which has become the unofficial channel of the “revolutionaries” and the transnational elite — to the Iranian Press TV), have played a very important role in creating the illusion of a monolithic “world against the tyrant”, which was not created during all the previous criminal wars of the transnational elite (see Section 4).

This has had very important implications as regards the stand of the Left (statist, libertarian, Green, etc.), who have mostly sided with the “revolutionaries”, if not with the criminal campaign itself! Furthermore, it has not just been the reformist Left who have sided with the new criminal campaign, as they have done in the past. This time, a very significant part of the anti-systemic Left have also indirectly been in favour of this war, through their support for the so-called “revolutionaries” in Libya. This has created (or perhaps revealed) a new kind of degenerate “Left” who, instead of demystifying the systemic propaganda, as used to be their traditional role, have directly or indirectly been supporting it, justifying the conclusion I derived ten years ago about the end of the traditional antisystemic movements. (1)

We are eager to read Fotopoulos’ new book, Redesigning the Middle East: The Arab “Revolutions”, Counter-Revolution in Iran and Regime Change, which promises to explore this concept further.

The point is, by not putting forth a consistent, unified, principled anti-imperialist position on the Libyan or Syrian question, the left aids and abets Western imperialism. One cannot call the US left’s willingness to hitch its wagon onto any protest movement, regardless of its composition or political context, anything but the most degenerate form of opportunism. Just as in Libya, the Syrian rebellion today has generally worked with the West and its puppet states towards the overthrow of a nationalist, anti-imperialist government since the beginning. Thanks to news services like RT, even Western leftists have had access to this information from day-one, and yet they cannot be bothered to sacrifice some vague notion of “principle” and support Assad and Syrian self-determination. As we will see, this opportunism has run the gamut from outright support to more insidious forms.

Like Libya, Syria Reveals Opportunism in the US Left

A cruise-missile leftist blog called The North Star raised the ire of a number of leftist groups in the US when they posted an article entitled “Lybia and Syria: When Anti-Imperialism Goes Wrong.” The piece took left-opportunism to a new level by openly calling on leftists to support the demand by the Syrian opposition for Western imperialist intervention. In subsequent pieces, the author, Pham Binh, heavily criticized the Cliffite-Trotskyite International Socialist Organization (ISO) for “quietly [abandoning] its support for the Libyan revolution once the going got tough and NATO’s F-16s got going.” (2) For Binh, the ISO’s clumsy and ham-handed justification for supporting the Libyan rebels but not the NATO intervention of 2011 was “the anti-imperialism of fools,” but not because they supported the invasion. Rather, Binh criticizes the ISO for not actively supporting the NATO airstrikes to bring down Colonel Muammar Qaddafi’s government, claiming that leftists should support the ‘Arab spring’ – itself a completely empty term employed by the West to blur the line between popular uprisings, like those in Egypt and Tunisia, and the imperialist-instigated plots against Libya and Syria – “no matter what side the U.S. government eventually decides to back.” (2)

This bizarre episode of explicit opportunist support for imperialism provoked many strong responses from other left groups around the world. Directly responding to both The North Star and the ISO’s own left-opportunist view of the Syrian question, Mazda Majidi of the Party for Socialism & Liberation (PSL) wrote a fantastic piece for Liberation News entitled “When justifying imperialist intervention “goes wrong” Cruise-missile socialists.

At Return to the Source, we see no reason to reinvent the wheel, and we unite with the criticisms of Binh’s piece levied by Majidi and the PSL. We encourage any and all Marxist-Leninists interested in this debate to read the aforementioned article.

Unlike Libya, however, the question of the Syrian ‘rebellion’ is still at the forefront of the struggle against imperialism. anti-imperialists must resolutely struggle against the possibility of a Western military invasion of Syrian and rigorously combat the left-opportunist elements – like the ISO and The North Star – which seek to give cover to an invasion.

In terms of honesty, logic, and consistency, The North Star gets high marks. Polemic-trading between The North Star and the ISO should not blur the fact that both of these groups view the so-called ‘Syrian rebellion’ in the same way: a genuine popular people’s movement against the so-called “Assad dictatorship.” This is crucial to understanding the common tie between the ISO and The North Star, which is left-opportunism and social imperialism. Majidi notes this in the PSL’s response, saying that ”[they] accept all the same premises: that the Libyan government had no significant base of support and that the revolt was a popular “revolution” with an “understandable” desire for foreign help.” (4)

However, The North Star accepts the logical conclusion of its support for the so-called ‘Syrian rebellion’, while the ISO fallaciously tries to have their cake and eat it too. In perhaps the most bizarre piece put forward by the ISO, author Paul D’Amato presents its position “to support the revolutions in Libya and Syria against dictatorial regimes, while at the same time opposing intervention by the U.S. and its imperialist allies.” He follows up these mutually contradictory positions by saying that “some of us who haven’t lost our heads,” (!) presumably the ISO, “still consider imperialism to be the greatest enemy of both the revolutions of the Arab Spring and national self-determination in the Middle East.” (5)

D’Amato’s seems uncomfortable for the duration of the article as he attempts to distinguish the stance of the ISO from The North Star. The reason for D’Amato’s discomfort is that Binh’s piece on The North Star is just a more honest and logical presentation of the ISO’s own horrendous position: tactical support for imperialism.

It becomes evident in D’Amato’s piece, along with two follow-up pieces further articulating the ISO’s left-opportunist position, that the ISO supports an imaginary ‘rebellion’ in Syria. Lee Sustar of the ISO blatantly denies facts now acknowledged by the Western media in his August 16, 2012 screed entitled “What is the future of the Syrian revolution?”  We quote Sustar at some length to give the reader a sense of scale for the ISO’s delusion:

SocialistWorker.org has been among publications on the left that have supported the Syrian revolution while criticizing leading elements of the Syrian National Council (SNC) for their attempts to make alliances with imperialism. Key members of the SNC have called for stepped-up intervention by Western powers, such as military action to establish safe havens for refugees on Syrian territory or the imposition of a no-fly zone to neutralize Assad’s air power.

But for Rees and some others on the left, that’s enough to write off not only the SNC and the Free Syrian Army (FSA), but also the Local Coordinating Councils (LCCs) that have organized heroic mass resistance for more than a year and half despite the most savage repression–mass arrests, torture, artillery attacks on civilian areas, massacres and, now, aerial bombardment.

Is it really the case that one of the most inspiring, self-organized revolutionary movements in recent decades has degenerated into a pliable tool of the West? Are we looking at a repeat of Libya, where NATO air strikes played the decisive role in turning the tide in the civil war? Are ultra-sectarian Islamist forces–backed by the Saudis and Qataris–becoming a dominant force?

The answer is no. While imperialist forces are angling to install a post-Assad leadership to their liking–a preferably a military strongman, as Reuters reported–the revolutionary movement has continued to develop in response to the struggle in Syria itself.

Moreover, there are well-documented divisions within the SNC and the FSA–and criticisms of both from grassroots Syrian revolutionary forces on the ground in the LCCs. And does it make any sense to equate an SNC leader who calls for a no-fly zone and meets with State Department officials with a farmer who distributes AK-47s smuggled in from Turkey in order to defend a village from Syrian army tanks?

Notice how Sustar actually avoids answering the serious indictments of the so-called ‘Syrian rebellion’ that he himself brings up via rhetorical questions. All he can muster is some flaccid claim that “the revolutionary movement has continued to develop in response to the struggle in Syria itself,” (?) and that “there are well-documented divisions within the SNC and the [Free Syrian Army].” (6)

Of course there are divisions in the ‘rebellion’! There were the same divisions in Libya between the comparador bourgeois elite and the Islamist elements connected to al-Qaeda. This isn’t the point, though. The point is that both of these interests, which have comfortably coalesced in Syria as they did in Libya, are the unquestionable leading forces for the ‘rebellion’. US officials, who are now openly collaborating with al-Qaeda to bring down the Syrian government, now admit that the radical Islamist network “has advanced beyond isolated pockets of activity in Syria and now is building a network of well-organized cells.” (7) With several hundred militants operating in Syria, the Associated Press writes that US officials “fear the terrorists could be on the verge of establishing an Iraq-like foothold that would be hard to defeat if rebels oust President Bashar Assad,” a peculiar concern for the US to hold if the ISO’s ‘local coordinating committees’ were in the driver’s seat separate from al-Qaeda and Islamists. (8) In trying to downplay their numbers, Sustar neglects the stark reality that Islamists “are using their experience in coordinating small units of fighters in Afghanistan to win new followers,” allowing them to take control of many so-called ‘independent’ groups of ‘rebels’ that the ISO claims to support. (9)

Even the US government acknowledges divisions in the rebellion. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s remarks in late October that withdrew support for the Syrian National Council (SNC1) reflects Washington’s growing alarm at the presence of al-Qaeda militants on the ground, who have little to no loyalty to the Syrian exile elite. Independent scholar Stephen Gowans explains this phenomenon in a November 2, 2012 article:

Uprisings aimed at overthrowing governments are often divided between militants who do the heavy lifting on the ground and politicians who lead the fight in the political sphere. Outside powers scheme to anoint an acceptable politician as a leader-in-waiting to step into the void if and when the current government is toppled. The leader must be both acceptable to his or her foreign backers and to the militants on the ground. (8)

Gowans goes on to explain that the strong presence of exiled Muslim Brotherhood members – consistent opponents of Assad’s secular Ba’athist government in Syria – prevented the SNC1 from gaining the loyalty of the rebels on the ground. Indeed, the Obama administration and the faux-socialist Hollande government in France have gone back to the drawing board in supporting the rise of the Syrian National Coalition (SNC2), which hopes to garner the loyalty of the various sectarian elements in the Syrian rebellion.

Rest assured, though, Washington’s hesitance to commit to the SNC1 has nothing to do with minimizing a “revolutionary alternative” or the ‘local coordinating committees’ within the Syrian rebellion, as the ISO might claim. Gowans further explains that the impetus to the new SNC2′s formation “is to marginalize the influence of the Jihadists, many though not all of whom have spilled into Syria from other countries, bent on overturning a secular regime led by a president whose Alawi faith they revile as heretical. If the Jihadists can be sidelined, Washington may be able to funnel arms to “acceptable” militant groups, without fear of their being used later against US targets.” (8) Secular, “anti-imperialist” rebel groups are not a substantial factor in Washington’s calculus for intervention, despite what the ISO would have its members believe, because the truly anti-imperialist groups in Syria, like the two communist parties, critically support the Assad government.

Appalling as it may be, The North Star’s position is simply a more honest rendering of the same opportunist position taken by the ISO. It approaches the Syrian question not from a perspective of dialectical materialism, but from a perspective of craven idealism. The opportunists in the US left cannot view the Syrian rebellion in any terms other than a metaphysical struggle against tyranny. They buy wholesale the reports of retaliatory violence by the Syrian security forces in order to characterize Assad as a tyrant, and in doing so, they confound the central contradiction facing the Syrian people: the contradiction between imperialism and national liberation.

Ironically, Leon Trotsky – the ideological godfather of the ISO – may have put it best in a 1938 interview, when he said, “Truly, one must have an empty head to reduce world antagonisms and military conflicts to the struggle between fascism and democracy. Under all masks one must know how to distinguish exploiters, slave-owners, and robbers!” (9) It’s a testament to the absurdity of the US left’s opportunism that we now say, in this particular moment, D’Amato and Sustar could learn a lot from reading Trotsky!

Perhaps the most confounding question of all for the ISO is this: Where is their coverage of the ‘Libyan revolution’ now? Now that the rebels that were supposedly independent of the West have ascended to power, what happened to the ISO’s enthusiasm and the phrase-mongering about ‘democratic rights’? An ever-defiant ISO published an attempt at summating the lessons of the ‘Libyan revolution’ shortly after the fall of Tripoli. ISO leader Alan Maass, in an article titled, “Who really won in Libya?” writes, “Qaddafi deserved to be overthrown. But the circumstances of his downfall are an advance for imperialism–which means a setback for the struggle to extend democracy and freedom.” (10)

One almost expects to hear a Homer Simpson-esque “Doh!” at the end of the article, as if to say, what a shame that the US compromised the integrity of another revolution! The ISO did nothing but apologize for the crimes of the Libyan rebels – shamefully downplaying and apologizing for the lynching of black African migrants – and ignore the long-standing evidence that the rebellion was instigated and supported by Western imperialist countries from the beginning. And then they act surprised when NATO attacks Libya at the request of those same rebels for whom they pledged support.

If the ISO had published a thoughtful, reflective piece that asked honest, hard questions about the flaws with their line in Libya, they might have earned a little credibility. Instead, they applied their tautological ideology to Syria and doubled-down on their support for the foreign-backed rebellion, whose ties to the West are even more documented than those of the Libyan rebels.

The ISO may be the most peculiar of all the US left sects, but their position was echoed by countless liberal publications and thinkers, including The Nation, ZNet, and the academic Immanuel Wallerstein. Sadly, these groups and individuals have learned nothing from the Libyan experience and continue to support the Syrian rebellion, even in the face of renewed US aggression.

Opportunism in the Western Left

Although opportunism has led many groups in the US left down the path of social imperialism – socialist in word, imperialism in deed – this perverse trend extends far beyond to the US to many of the so-called “left” groups in Western Europe.

SYRIZA, the Greek coalition of ostensibly leftist groups, has enjoyed the support of many on the US left vis-a-vis the Communist Party of Greece (KKE). The so-called “Coalition of the Radical Left” exposed its opportunism to the people of Greece in its continued acceptance of the Eurozone, despite its verbal commitment to opposing austerity. However, SYRIZA has quietly worked with the other conservative parties in Greece to support the Syrian rebels and argue for Greek intervention into the conflict. On September 12, 2012, SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras “expressed his concerns about the developments in Syria and the need for Greece to “intervene” in order  for the EU to enhance assistance so Greece can host refugees fleeing the violence in the country.” (11) During the duration of NATO’s attack on Libya, SYRIZA leaders made nary a statement whatsoever and made only a vague reference to the criminal assault in a statement to the Coalition Against NATO/G8 rally on May 20, 2012.

We contrast SYRIZA’s opportunism with the plethora of statements by the KKE against Greek involvement in aggression towards Syria and Iran. (12) KKE consistently upholds proletarian internationalism and is strongly critical of any attempts by its own government to intervene in Syria. SYRIZA, instead, has broken their opportunistic silence during the assault on Libya and crossed the threshold into the territory of social imperialism, calling openly for Greek intervention in Syria.

SYRIZA is but one example of the increasingly prevalent role that so-called “left” parties and movements are playing in supporting imperialism. Much ado was made of France electing a ‘socialist’ President, François Hollande, earlier this year. Playing into the historical trend of social democracy towards supporting imperialism – the major schism in the Second International that Lenin fought against – Hollande has doubled-down on the increasingly hawkish policies of former President Nicholas Sarkozy and supported the Syrian rebels at every juncture. To date, France’s so-called ‘socialist’ government has supported the reactionary terrorist rebellion more prolifically than the United States!

France now delivers money and arms to proxies along the Turkish border that are subsequently funneled to the Free Syrian Army (FSA), which has primarily directed the terrorist activity of the rebellion in Syria. (13) The Guardian reports that Hollande’s support has even ”reached Islamist groups who were desperately short of ammunition and who had increasingly turned for help towards al-Qaida aligned jihadist groups in and around Aleppo.” (13) Going further than the United States, Hollande recognized the SNC1 as the legitimate government of Syria and has called for the Syrian opposition to begin forming a “provisional government.” (14)

Of course, every Marxist-Leninist should expect social-democrats like Hollande and SYRIZA to function as part of the capitalist system. However, the vanguard role that a nominally ‘socialist’ government is playing in spearheading imperialist aggression towards Syria is particularly striking in this period. Hollande and SYRIZA are opportunists, but the similarities in their positions on Syria with elements of the left in the US are incredibly disturbing.

Lenin, Syria, and the Struggle Against Opportunism

As Social-Democratic parties across Europe got behind their own bourgeois governments in lockstep during the First World War, Lenin was one of the harshest critics of what he termed “social chauvanism,” which was the placing of national interests above proletarian internationalism through the use of socialist phrases. Indeed, the distinguishing feature of the Bolsheviks was their consistent opposition to the First World War and the imperialist crimes of their own government.

Reading Lenin’s attacks on social chauvanism in 2012 will draw obvious analogies to SYRIZA, Hollande, and opportunist elements of the US left in the mind of astute readers. We will quote from his 1915 essay, Social Chauvanist Policy Behind a Cover of International Phrases at some length:

To influence the workers, the bourgeois must assume the guise of socialists, Social-Democrats, internationalists, and the like, for otherwise they can exert no influence. The Rabocheye Utro group disguise themselves; they apply plenty of paint and powder, prettify themselves, cast sheep eyes all around, and go the limit! They are ready to sign the Zimmerwald Manifesto a hundred times (a slap in the face for those Zimmerwaldists who signed the Manifesto without combating its timidity or making reservations!) or any other resolution on the imperialist nature of the war, or take any oath of allegiance to “internationalism” and “revolutionism” (“liberation of the country” in the censored press being the equivalent of “revolution” in the underground press), if only—if only they are not prevented from calling upon the workers to participate in the war industries committees, i.e., in practice to participate in the reactionary war of plunder (“a war of defence”).

Only this is action; all the rest is words. Only this is reality; all the rest is phrases. Only this is needed by the police, by the tsarist monarchy, Khvostov and the bourgeoisie. The clever bourgeois in countries that are cleverer are more tolerant of internationalist and socialist phrases if only participation in defence is assured, as is evidenced by comment in the French reactionary press regarding the London Conference of the socialists of the “Triple Entente”. With the socialist gentry, one of these papers said, it’s a kind of tic douloureux, a species of nervous malady which forces people involuntarily to repeat the same gesture, the same muscular movement, the same word. It is for that reason, the paper said, that “our own” socialists cannot speak about anything without repeating the words, “We are internationalists; we stand for social revolution”. This is not dangerous, the bourgeois paper concludes, only a “tic”; what is important to “us” is their stand for the defence of the country.

That is how the clever French and British bourgeois reason. If participation in a war of plunder is defended with phrases about democracy, socialism, etc., is this not to   the advantage of rapacious governments, the imperialist bourgeoisie? Is it not to the master’s advantage to keep a lackey who swears to all and sundry that his master loves them, and has dedicated his life to their welfare? (15)

The particulars have changed, but the general opportunist trend that Lenin observed in Social Democratic parties has re-emerged in 2012. Groups like the ISO and intellectuals like Wallerstein assert that their support for the Libyan or Syrian rebels is a part of some greater move towards ‘democracy’ or ‘revolution’. Central to the ISO’s argument for supporting the Libyan rebels, even after the NATO intervention, was constantly repeating the phrase, “Arab Spring,” and waxing on about how the rebellion in Libya was part of a larger revolutionary movement sweeping away “dictators” in the Arab world.

Reality collided with their idealist phrase-mongering, and the ISO tacitly supported the criminal assault on Libya by ruthlessly demonizing Qaddafi, first and foremost. Today, as opportunist groups on the US left call for the toppling of Assad – whether they take the next logical step and call for outright intervention, like The North Star, or veil it, like the ISO – we are witnessing a similar trend.

Just as Lenin and the Bolsheviks combated social chauvanism through ideological struggle, so too much genuine revolutionaries in the US and Western Europe combat the opportunist elements that functionally support US imperialism. There can be no more mixed messages; no more social democrats playing the role of imperialist cheerleaders. The anti-war left in the US must firmly embrace anti-imperialism and begin building resistance to war with Syria that includes upholding Syria’s right to self-determination.

Victory to Assad and the Syrian people!

Hands Off Syria!

For Return to the Source’s essay on supporting nationalist governments, like that of Assad, please refer back to Marxism & Bourgeois Nationalism.

——

(1) Takis Fotopoulos, The International Journal of Inclusive Democracy, Winter/Spring 2011, “The pseudo-revolution in Libya and the Degenerate “Left”,” http://www.inclusivedemocracy.org/journal/vol7/vol7_no1_takis_Libya_part1_pseudo_revolution.html

(2) Pham Binh, The North Star, July 18, 2012 “The Anti-Imperialism of Fools and the Syrian Spring,” http://bit.ly/OZaabI

(3) Reuters, Published on The Guardian (UK), August 20, 2012, “Barack Obama warns Syria over use of chemical or biological weapons,” http://bit.ly/Qj7N3s

(4) Mazda Majidi, Liberation News, July 17, 2012, “When justifying imperialism ‘goes wrong’: Cruise Missile Socialism,” http://bit.ly/LwSIPl

(5) Paul D’Amato, SocialistWorker, July 16, 2012, “Siding with the greatest purveyor of violence,” http://bit.ly/NY0VLe

(6) Lee Sustar, SocialistWorker, August 16, 2012, “What is the future of the Syrian revolution?” http://bit.ly/PmC19d

(7) Associated Press, August 11, 2012, “US officials: Al-Qaeda spreading in Syria,” http://bit.ly/NZqtqW

(8) Stephen Gowans, what’s left, November 2, 2012, “Will Damascus Survive Washington’s Latest Attempt to Impose a Puppet Government on Syria?” http://bit.ly/U5FnSz

(9) Leon Trotsky, “Anti-Imperialist Struggle is Key to Liberation,” September 1938, http://bit.ly/UpGian

(10) Alan Maass, Socialist Worker, “Who Really Won in Libya?” August 23, 2011, http://bit.ly/qJbLQG

(11) Al Yunaniya, September 12, 2012, “SYRIZA leader says Greece should host refugees from Syria,” http://bit.ly/Z2TqcY

(12) Communist Party of Greece, May 31, 2012, “NATO and EU are Preparing for Bloodshed,” http://bit.ly/K3QgM0

(13) Martin Chulov, The Guardian, December 7, 2012, “France funding Syrian rebels in new push to oust Assad,” http://bit.ly/VoCLdr

(14) Julian Borger, The Guardian, August 27, 2012, “François Hollande calls on Syrian rebels to form provisional government,” http://bit.ly/SJyvXW

(15) VI Lenin, December 1915, Social Chauvanist Policy Behind a Cover of International Phrases, http://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1915/dec/21.htm

The Vice Presidential Debate and National Liberation

Standard

The following article below was originally published as a Facebook Note, but I’ve been asked not to link back, nor to include the author’s name: 

October 12, 2012

Libya’s Col. Muammar Gaddafi (left) and Syria’s Bashar al-Assad (right)

There were two discernible moments in last night’s Vice Presidential debate that I thought were the most telling and most important moments we’ve seen in the two confrontations between the Obama-Biden and Romney-Ryan tickets. It wasn’t Congressman Ryan’s brilliant swipe at Vice President Biden’s long history of gaffes. It wasn’t Biden’s blistering attack on Romney’s 47% comment or his rock-solid defense of the Administration’s tax plan, in which he pointed out that 97% of small business owners don’t make more than $250,000 per year. These were all interesting moments, although by my own standards of debate – cultivated from four years of competing in high school and three years of coaching in college – Biden won the arguments.

But the moment I’m referring to was more important than all of that. I get that this election is about jobs and the economy in the minds of voters so I don’t use ‘important’ to mean ‘election-altering’. I mean that for progressive-minded people, organizers, and activists in this country, these two moments told us a lot more about the country we live in and the policies we organize against than anything said on the campaign trail.

The two moments I’m referring to were the Libyan embassy question at the beginning of the debate and the Syria question near the end.

First on Libya: Ryan targeted the Obama Administration for not labeling the embassy attack as “terrorism” earlier and not being prepared. Biden countered by saying that Ryan’s budget had cut security funding for embassies by millions of dollars and short-changed the staff there. Romney and Ryan clearly want to win this election, so why do they – let alone the supposedly “free” and “investigative” press – not point out the obvious: NATO, under the direction of the Obama administration, funded, armed, and brought to power the same Libyan ‘rebels’ that attacked the US embassy in Benghazi on September 11th.

We can quibble as to whether or not the attackers were literally “the same rebels,” but NATO commanders and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton all admitted that a large section of the rebels that they supported in Libya last year were members of al-Qaeda or other Islamist extremists. When NATO was criminally murdering Libyans through their bombing campaigns, they didn’t distinguish between “good rebels” and “bad rebels.” They armed the rebellion by any means necessary – the rebellion that systematically lynched black African migrants; the rebellion that attacked hospitals and schools for children with Down-syndrome; the rebellion that, with NATO’s air strikes, killed more civilians than Libya’s national army; the rebellion that sodomized and murdered Colonel Muammar Qaddafi without trial; and ultimately the rebellion that was directed on the ground by al-Qaeda and Islamist militants.

Qaddafi was a bulwark against radical Islamists, much like Saddam Hussein in Iraq. Al-Qaeda committed terrorist attacks against Libyan targets and Qaddafi showed no tolerance for their indiscriminate violence, so much so that he opportunistically joined the war on terror in 2005. Just as it doesn’t matter in Syria today, though, Washington’s short-term interests in acquiring oil overrode any possible problem they had with materially supporting the same people that attacked the US on 9/11. The Obama administration knew it and they did it anyway.

So fast-forward to 9/11 in 2012. Al-Qaeda attacks the US embassy in Libya right after receiving aid from the US and NATO in 2011. With the amount of support they received, there is a good chance that the same weapons used to breach the embassy were provided by the US, much like how many of the same arms given to the mujahedeen in Afghanistan by the US in the 1980s are now used by the Afghani resistance against US troops today.

Why doesn’t Romney or Ryan bring this up? Why don’t they hammer Obama and Biden on the biggest hole of all in the White House’s sketchy narrative on the embassy attack? Even in catering to the racist and Islamophobic base of the Republican Party, why don’t they point out that the Obama administration, in this case, literally armed al-Qaeda and Islamist extremists?

The answer is because they don’t fundamentally disagree on what happened in Libya. Republican or Democrat, neither one of them has an interest in laying the real question before the American people: Why did we bomb the hell out of Libya and arm our so-called enemy against a government that didn’t threaten the United States? Outside of the Ron Paul clique, nary a critical word was thrown at the President for the crimes his administration committed against the Libyan people.

The two parties can posture all they want over tax policies or Medicare reform, but let’s make one thing clear: When the rubber hits the road and we’re talking about dropping bombs on civilian targets that suck the oxygen out of a mother’s lungs before her and her child are charred by the flames; when we’re talking about black African migrants who are strung up on light poles and disemboweled because of the color of their skin; when we’re talking about a school, where children with Down-syndrome go to learn and are cared for every day, being obliterated by firebombs; when we’re talking about real people dying – who you and I will probably never meet – the two candidates are one and the same.

Isn’t that deeply unsettling? I have conversations with Obama supporters to whom I bring this up and they dismiss it out of fear that it might play into Romney being elected. They then proceed to lecture me on how there are differences between the candidate’s domestic policies. And then for the closer, they turn these concerns on their head and ask me why I care so much about foreign policy when there are people hurting in this country.

I just grow weary of it, folks. I get that Romney’s policies on a lot of economic and social issues are more reactionary than Obama’s – although I would follow it up by saying, “Not by much. They’re both reactionaries.” What I don’t get is the national chauvinism that pervades the lesser-of-two-evils progressive community that writes off foreign policy as if it’s some separate sphere to evaluate candidates.

The mother charred by fire from NATO’s death machines in Libya doesn’t care that Obama’s tax policy only affects 3% of small businesses. Frankly, she doesn’t even care that Romney’s policy will raise taxes on workers in this country. She was living a normal life with her family, raising her children, working a productive job, and putting food on the table in one form of another until her country was invaded. Violence was committed against her, and it was done in the name of the United States – violence, for no honest reason; violence, for no positive outcome; violence, completely divorced from any semblance of justice; violence, that even the most opportunistic and hateful critics of the President in this country cannot condemn, especially at the Vice Presidential debate.

For the hanged black migrant, for the dead Libyan infant, for the wounded Syrian bus driver, and for any oppressed person around the world, this election is literally meaningless and tonight’s debate proved that beyond a shadow of a doubt.

Now someone’s ready to protest, “But we’re not Libyans. We’re not Syrians. We’re Americans who live in this country and have to deal with the consequences of this election.” Yes we are. And if those consequences guide progressives to vote to defeat Romney – however they think they can best do that in their respective states – they should absolutely do so.

But I want people to understand that there is only one way to vote for the President and not have Libyan and Syrian blood on your hands: Resistance. Whether Obama or Romney win on the evening on November 6th, progressives must issue a declaration of independence, not just from both parties but from the entire system of imperialism. We have to commit to organizing our communities, our workplaces, our classrooms, and our places of worship to resist the attacks that come down on us and on oppressed people around the world. We have to build a new movement – not an anti-war movement like we saw under Bush, but an anti-imperialist movement that recognizes that the crimes perpetrated on the Libyans are made possible by the crimes committed against workers and oppressed people in this country, and vice versa.

That’s all anti-imperialism is. It takes the anti-war movement and joins it with the battle against budget cuts, the fight against bosses on the shop floor, the struggle to keep collective bargaining rights, the campaigns for affordable public education, and the continued war against racism, national oppression, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, and every other phobia that oppresses people here and around the world. It recognizes that the struggle of Libyan freedom fighters against NATO and the Islamist rebels is intertwined with the struggles that we wage here in the US against anti-union laws, foreclosures, budget cuts, racist violence, and attacks on women’s rights.

Imperialism is a system that oppresses people domestically to commit untold horrors against entire nations internationally. And it’s a system we have to fight and dismantle if we’re serious about wanting freedom in our lifetime.

Clearly it won’t happen through the ballot box. The Vice Presidential debate showed us that. If we hope to achieve that freedom, we have to fight for it in the streets.

Lincoln, Assad & the Vice Presidential Debate

Now onto Syria: The second moment that stood out to me in last night’s Vice Presidential debate was downright awkward and embarrassing for Ryan. Trying desperately to distinguish the Romney campaign’s position on Syria from Obama’s position, he fumbled around and could not answer the moderator’s question, which was, “What would you do differently?” About all he could muster was the flaccid jab at the Obama administration for calling Syrian President Bashar al-Assad “a reformer.”

Except Obama never said that, and neither did Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, for that matter. Clinton made a statement in March 2011 that “many of the members of Congress of both parties who have gone to Syria in recent months have said they believe he’s a reformer,” but her agenda was the same as Romney and Ryan’s from the beginning: Use the civil unrest, which later became a civil war, to topple the Syrian government at any cost.

All things considered, Biden knocked it out of the ballpark in terms of honesty. He noted that the US hasn’t worked through the UN on the question of Syria, having never endorsed or accepted Kofi Annan’s peace plan, and began aiding the so-called “rebels” directly in the early stages of the civil war. He candidly admitted that the US was completely aligned with the oppressive Turkish government and the reactionary Saudi and Qatari monarchies, all of whom are funneling arms – most likely provided by the United States – to the Syrian “rebels.” About the only thing he left out in his effort to bolster the Obama administration’s “Tough on Assad” credentials was the White House’s announcement last week to put troops on the Jordanian border with Syria.

For their part, neither candidate endorsed a US military operation in Syria under the current conditions. I take this to mean that both tickets understand how unpopular the idea of another war is with voters, which by extension means that the Syrian government has at least until December to put down the rebellion before the threat of a Libya-style NATO intervention comes back on the table. This is the good news.

The bad news is that both candidates agreed to a disturbing caveat, stated not-so-eloquently by Ryan: “Well, we agree with the same red line, actually, they do on chemical weapons, but not putting American troops in, other than to secure those chemical weapons.” If there’s one thing that the past two Presidents have taught this generation about justifications for this type of preemptive war, it is that a targeted government doesn’t have to have actual weapons (Iraq) or plan to use them on the population (Libya) to still launch full-scale military operations. What Biden and Ryan – and ultimately Obama and Romney – are really saying is that they won’t exercise military force until after November 6th.

Realize too that when Ryan said, “[our strategy with Syria] means like embargoes and sanctions and overflights, those are things that don’t put American troops on the ground,” he is talking directly about the type of intervention that NATO launched in Libya. Save for some military advisors, US troops were not “on the ground” in Libya in the same way they are today in Afghanistan. It’s horrifying, of course, that drone and aerial warfare allows the US to victimize thousands of people without having to weigh the consequences of physical risk. There are no longer any counter-weights or human cost calculations that go into setting up no-fly zones, which Ryan calls “overflights.”

Between Libya and Syria – and Afghanistan and Iraq, despite how Biden may have postured to pretend like he didn’t vote to put the same two wars “on credit cards,” like Ryan did – we have to admit that we don’t have a choice in the US Presidential elections. If you even have a semblance of sympathy for the women, men, and children who will bear the full brunt of war in these countries, then you have to admit that there’s nothing democratic about the choice that voters will make on November 6th. The candidates are in full agreement that the United States should continue to build its empire, declare war on smaller nations for their resources, and do so in the most brutal and efficient manner possible. This is one area – probably the most major area, if we are honest with ourselves as human beings – where there is literally no difference between a second-term President Obama and a President Romney.

Immediately after the debate, CNN aired the second trailer for the new Steven Spielberg film, Lincoln, which has Daniel Day-Lewis portraying the Great Emancipator himself, President Abraham Lincoln. The juxtaposition of both candidates’ characterization of Assad “turning guns on his own people” coupled with this exciting movie trailer hit me pretty hard. Most Americans in 2012 revere Lincoln as a national hero, and the film’s Thanksgiving release date all but guarantees it will be the movie event of 2012.

But why is that? Most people in the 21st century view the American Civil War as a totally just war and condemn slavery as an institution – though it should be noted that a disturbing number of reactionary Republican lawmakers are beginning to come out as slavery apologists – but it wasn’t always seen that way. Neither was Lincoln enshrined as “the Great Emancipator” by mainstream American canon until relatively recently (read: the last forty years).

For a large portion of the country, Lincoln was remembered as a brutal tyrant who “turned guns on his own people” and grossly violated their constitutional rights. He was remembered as a radical who forcibly expropriated the “property” of the rich – namely slaves – and waged a brutal civil war on the American people. His unwillingness to compromise on the issue was not touted as a virtue as it is today; rather it was seen as the stubbornness of a dictator whose decisions cost hundreds of thousands of Americans their lives. He was seen as divisive, conniving, and wicked by a large section of the country.

Most Americans probably do not think of it this way, but a great number of atrocities were committed during the Civil War, and by no means were they limited to the racists in the Confederacy. Thousands of people – many of whom never owned slaves – were put into prison camps, forced to work without pay, starved, took ill, and died. For the first two years of the war, the Union Army, under the direction of the scoundral George McClellan, refused to liberate slaves in the South, leaving them under the bondage of the white slaveowners. Not least of these victims were the freed slaves, who received second-class treatment when they were allowed to join the Union Army and received unequal compensation.

Indeed, Lincoln’s policies and military draft program were so divisive that they led to massive riots in the North that left hundreds dead, most of whom were black residents targeted by racist pogroms. The media was not silent on these matters either. The Chicago Times in 1863 was topped with the headline, “DICTATOR PROCLAIMED, for the Proclamation can never be carried out except under the iron rule of the worst kind of despotism.”

But here’s the simple and undeniable truth: Lincoln was a hero, the Union was on the right side of history, and the American Civil War was not just justifiable, but necessary and honorable. As Americans in 2012, most of us wouldn’t think twice about making that judgment because we instinctively understand that slavery was a wicked instrument of oppression and the Confederacy was an evil empire seeking its preservation and expansion. All of Lincoln and the Union Army’s actions that were viewed as tyrannical by some people in 1860 are worthy of praise in 2012 because we understand what the conflict meant to oppressed people; so worthy of praise that a legendary director and actor are teaming up for a film honoring President Lincoln.

This should all sound familiar in the context of Syria: Here we have a leader, a President no less, waging a civil war to hold the country together. Opposite him and the Syrian Army is an unholy alliance of neo-liberals seeking to sell Syria’s resources and labor to the West at a profit, militants of al-Qaeda, and other radical Islamists. Assad fights for secular government against theocratic tyranny; he fights for a self-determined Syria against a puppet regime that will prostitute the Syrian people to Western corporations; he fights for an independent country in a region occupied and dominated by the United States and Israel; and now he fights for the self-determination of the Kurdish people in the northern part of Syria.

That last point is particularly salient in the comparison with Lincoln. The Syrian government has by no means consistently stood for Kurdish self-determination or nationhood, and Kurds have in the past faced oppression in Syria. Similarly, the United States government was the chief perpetrator in the crime of slavery against the black Africans kidnapped from their homes to work under the whip in North America. However, just as Lincoln realized that the question of winning the American Civil War was inseparable from the question of emancipation, Assad realizes that winning the Syrian Civil War is impossible without Kurdish independence. And just as the Union Army could not have won the war without the emancipated and slaves liberating themselves, Assad will have the Kurds to thank if he succeeds in putting down the rebellion.

When the Vice Presidents talked last night about the possibility of intervening in Syria, it made me think of the Trent Affair during the Civil War. Oligarchs in France and Britain considered intervening on behalf of the Confederacy. Though the countries were officially neutral, they engaged the Confederacy on possibly intervening on their behalf in the American Civil War and were only dissuaded by the Union victory at Antietam.

As an American, would you have tolerated British or French intervention in the American Civil War, especially on behalf of the Confederacy? I wouldn’t have. Most of us would like to say we would have supported President Lincoln, but I think all of us could agree that foreign intervention would have been wrong.

President Assad will be remembered by Syrians much in the same way President Lincoln is by Americans. Both leaders are fighting a civil war to hold their country together in the face of threats of foreign intervention – in Assad’s case, this is a more likely and greater threat than it was for the Union – and basic questions of freedom and oppression are at stake in the war’s outcome. From every indicator, a majority of the Syrian people supports the government, and it’s only a small band of traitors calling for military intervention.

As progressives, I don’t think it’s sufficient to just call for “Hands Off Syria.” That’s a start, of course, but in 21st century hindsight, “Hands Off America” would have fallen drastically short in 1862. Anti-imperialism means doing what we can to stop the government we live under from violently attacking another nation, but it is also a call to support those forces who are on the right side of history; those forces who find themselves struggling for independence and liberation; those forces who are most threatened by the kind of slaughter we witnessed in Libya last year. And those forces are President Assad and the Syrian people.

When people go to watch Spielberg’s film in November, voters will have already elected a new President. Last night’s debate showed us that the election won’t determine what happens in Syria because both sides are in agreement. Two factors can turn the tide, though: The first is an overwhelming victory for the Syrian people against the terrorist rebellion. And though I pray that happens, we need to begin exercising the second factor: American resistance to war with Syria.

The struggle for hegemony in the Muslim world

Standard

For half of the last century, Arab nationalists, socialists, communists and others were locked in a battle with the Muslim Brothers for hegemony in the Arab world.—Tariq Ali [1]

By Stephen Gowans

The Jihadists who toppled the secular nationalist Gaddafi government—and not without the help of Nato bombers, dubbed “al Qaeda’s air force” [2] by Canadian pilots who participated in the bombing campaign—are no longer disguised in the pages of Western newspapers as a popular movement who thirsted for, and won, democracy in Libya. Now that they’ve overrun the US consulate in Benghazi and killed the US ambassador, they’ve become a “security threat…raising fears about the country’s stability” [3]—exactly what Gaddafi called them, when Western governments were celebrating the Islamists’ revolt as a popular pro-democracy uprising. Gaddafi’s description of the unrest in his own country as a violent Salafist bid to establish an Islamic state was doubtlessly accepted in Washington and other Western capitals as true, but dismissed in public as a transparent ploy to muster sympathy. This was necessary to sanitize the uprising to secure the acquiescence of Western publics for the intervention of their countries’ warplanes to help Islamic guerillas on the ground topple a secular nationalist leader who was practicing “resource nationalism” and trying to “Libyanize” the economy– the real reasons he’d fallen into disgrace in Washington. [4]

Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, which played a major part in the rebellion to depose Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, may have plotted the attack on the US consulate in Benghazi which led to the death of US ambassador Christopher Stevens, according to US officials.

The uprising of militant Muslim radicals against a secular state was, in many respects, a replay of what had happened in Afghanistan in the late 1970s, when a Marxist-inspired government came to power with aspirations to lift the country out of backwardness, and was opposed by the Mullahs and Islamist guerillas backed by the United States, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and China.

An Afghan Communist explained that,

“Our aim was no less than to give an example to all the backward countries of the world of how to jump from feudalism straight to a prosperous, just society … Our choice was not between doing things democratically or not. Unless we did them, nobody else would … [Our] very first proclamation declared that food and shelter are the basic needs and rights of a human being. … Our program was clear: land to the peasants, food for the hungry, free education for all. We knew that the mullahs in the villages would scheme against us, so we issued our decrees swiftly so that the masses could see where their real interests lay … For the first time in Afghanistan’s history women were to be given the right to education … We told them that they owned their bodies, they would marry whom they liked, they shouldn’t have to live shut up in houses like pens.” [5]

That’s not to say that Gaddafi was a Marxist—far from it. But like the reformers in Afghanistan, he sought to modernize his country, and use its land, labor and resources for the people within it. By official Western accounts, he did a good job, raising his country’s standard of living higher than that of all other countries in Africa.

Gaddafi claimed that the rebellion in Libya had been organized by Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, or AQIM, and by the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, which had vowed to overthrow him and return the country to traditional Muslim values, including Sharia law. A 2009 Canadian government intelligence report bore him out. It described the anti-Gaddafi stronghold of eastern Libya, where the rebellion began, “as an ‘epicenter of Islamist extremism’ and said ‘extremist cells’ operated in the region.” Earlier, Canadian military intelligence had noted that “Libyan troops found a training camp in the country’s southern desert that had been used by an Algerian terrorist group that would later change its name to Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.” [6] Significantly, US officials now believe that the AQIM may have plotted the attack on the US consulate in Benghazi. [7]

Abdel Hakim Belhaj, the Libyan rebellion’s most powerful military leader, was a veteran of the U.S.-backed Jihad against the Marxist-inspired reformist government in Afghanistan, where he had fought alongside militants who would go on to form al-Qaeda. Belhaj returned to Libya in the 1990s to lead the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, which was linked to his al-Qaeda comrades. His aim was to topple Gaddafi, as the Communists had been toppled in Afghanistan. The prominent role Belhaj played in the Libyan uprising should have aroused suspicions among leftists in the West that, as Western governments surely knew, the uprising was not the heroic pro-democracy affair Western media—and those of reactionary Arab regimes—were making it out to be. Indeed, from the very first day of the revolt, anyone equipped with knowledge of Libyan history that went back further than the last Fox News broadcast, would have known that the Benghazi rebellion was more in the mold of the latest eruption of a violent anti-secular Jihad than a peaceful call for democracy. [8]

“On Feb. 15, 2011, citizens in Benghazi organized what they called a Day of Anger march. The demonstration soon turned into a full-scale battle with police. At first, security forces used tear gas and water cannons. But as several hundred protesters armed with rocks and Molotov cocktails attacked government buildings, the violence spiraled out of control.” [9]

As they stormed government sites, the rampaging demonstrators didn’t chant, “Power to the people”, “We are the 99 percent”, or “No to dictatorship.” They chanted “‘No God but Allah, Moammar is the enemy of Allah’.” [10] The Islamists touched off the rebellion and did the fighting on the ground, while U.S.-aligned Libyan exiles stepped into the power vacuum created by Salafist violence and Nato bombs to form a new U.S.-aligned government.

Syria’s Hafiz Asad, and other secular nationalists, from his comrade Salaf Jadid, who he overthrew and locked away, to his son, Bashar, who has followed him, have also been denounced as enemies of Allah by the same Islamist forces who violently denounced Gaddafi in Libya and the leaders of the People’s Democratic Party in Afghanistan. The reason for their denunciation by Islamists is the same: their opposition to an Islamic state. Similarly, Islamist forces have been as strongly at the head of the movement to overthrow the secular nationalists in Syria, as they have the secular nationalists in Libya and the (secular) Marxists in the late 1970s-1980s Afghanistan.

As they stormed government sites, the rampaging demonstrators chanted “‘No God but Allah, Moammar is the enemy of Allah’.”

The secular nationalists’ rise to power in Syria was a heavy blow to the country’s Sunni Islamic militants who resented their society being governed by secular radicals. Worse still from the perspective of the Islamists, the governing radicals were mostly members of minority communities the Sunnis regarded as heretics, and which had occupied the lower rungs of Syrian society. From the moment the secular nationalists captured the state, Islamists went underground to organize an armed resistance. “From their safe haven deep in the ancient warrens of northern cities like Aleppo and Hama, where cars could not enter, the guerrillas emerged to bomb and kill.” [11]

In 1980, an attempt was made to group the Sunni opposition to the secular nationalists under an “Islamic Front’, which promised free speech, free elections, and an independent judiciary, under the banner of Islam. When militant Islamic terrorists murdered Egyptian president Anwar Sadat a year later in Egypt, Islamists in Damascus promised then president Hafiz Asad the same fate. Then in 1982, Jihadists rose up in Hama—“the citadel of traditional landed power and Sunni puratinism” [12]—in a bid to seize power in the city. The ensuing war of the Islamic radicals against the secular nationalist state, a bloody affair which costs tens of thousands of lives, convinced Asad that “he was wrestling not just with internal dissent, but with a large scale conspiracy to unseat him, abetted by Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Israel and the United States.” [13] Patrick Seale, a veteran British journalist who has covered the Middle East for decades, described the Islamists’ movement against Syria’s secular nationalists as a “sort of fever that (rises) and (falls) according to conditions at home and manipulation from abroad.” [14]

Media accounts of Syria’s civil war omit mention of the decades-long hostility between Islamists and secular nationalists—a fierce enmity that sometimes flares into open warfare, and at other times simmers menacingly below the surface—that has defined Syria in the post-colonial period. To do so would take the sheen off the armed rising as a popular, democratic, progressive struggle, a depiction necessary to make Western intervention in the form of sanctions, diplomatic support, and other aid, against the secular nationalists, appear just and desirable. Today, only Trotskyists besotted by fantasies that the Arab Spring is the equivalent of the March 1917 Petrograd uprising, deny that the content of the Syrian uprising is Islamist. But the question of whether the uprising was initially otherwise—a peaceful, progressive and popular movement aimed at opening democratic space and redressing economic grievances–and only later hijacked by Islamists, remains in dispute. What’s clear, however, is that the “hijacking”, if indeed there was one, is not of recent vintage. In the nascent stages of the rebellion, the late New York Times reporter Anthony Shadid noted that the “most puritanical Islamists, known by their shorthand as Salafists, have emerged as a force in Egypt, Libya, Syria and elsewhere, with suspicions that Saudi Arabia has encouraged and financed them.”[15]

Secular nationalists, socialists and communists in Muslim lands have struggled with the problem of Islamist opposition to their programs, to their atheism (in the case of communists) and to the secular character of the state they have sought to build. The Bolsheviks, perhaps alone among this group, were successful in overcoming opposition in the traditional Muslim territories they controlled in Central Asia, and improving the lives of women, who had been oppressed by conservative Islam. Female seclusion, polygamy, bride price, child and forced marriages, veiling (as well as circumcision of males, considered by the Bolsheviks to be child abuse) were outlawed. Women were recruited into administrative and professional positions and encouraged – indeed obligated – to work outside the home. This followed Friedrich Engels’ idea that women could only be liberated from the domination of men if they had independent incomes. [16]

Western governments, led by the United States, have made a practice of inflaming the Islamists’ hostility to secular nationalists, socialists and communists, using militant Muslim radicals as a cat’s paw to topple these governments, which have almost invariably refused to align themselves militarily with the United States or cut deals against the interests of their own people to fatten the profits of corporate America and enrich Wall Street investment bankers. But whether Washington aggravates fault lines within Muslim societies or not, the fact remains that the fault lines exist, and must be managed, but have not always been managed well.

For example, no matter how admirable their aims were, the reformers in Afghanistan had too narrow a political base to move as quickly as they did, and they rushed headlong into disaster, ignoring Moscow’s advice to slow down and expand their support. The Carter and Reagan administrations simply took advantage of their blunders to build a committed anti-communist guerilla movement.

Salah Jadid, who Hafiz Asad overthrew and locked away. Jadid pursued an unapologetically leftist program, and boasted of practicing “scientific socialism.” The Soviets thought otherwise. Jadid came to power in a conspiracy and never had more than a narrow base of support.

The leftist Syrian regime of Salah Jadid, which Hafiz Asad overthrew, did much that would be admired by leftists today. Indeed, Tariq Ali, in an apology apparently intended to expiate the sin of seeming to support the current Asad government, lauds Jadid’s regime as the “much more enlightened predecessor whose leaders and activists…numbered in their ranks some of the finest intellectuals of the Arab world.” [17] It’s easy to see why Ali admired Asad’s predecessors. Jadid, who lived an austere life, refusing to take advantage of his position to lavish himself with riches and comforts, slashed the salaries of senior ministers and top bureaucrats. He replaced their black Mercedes limousines with Volkswagens and Peugeot 404s. People connected with the old influential families were purged from government. A Communist was brought into the cabinet. Second houses were confiscated, and the ownership of more than one was prohibited. Private schools were banned. Workers, soldiers, peasants, students and women became the regime’s favored children. Feudalists and reactionaries were suppressed. A start was made on economic planning and major infrastructure projects were undertaken with the help of the Soviets. And yet, despite these clearly progressive measures, Jadid’s base of popular support remained narrow—one reason why the Soviets were lukewarm toward him, regarding him as a hothead, and contemptuous of his claim to be practicing “scientific socialism.” [18] Scientific socialism is based on mass politics, not a minority coming to power through a conspiracy (as Jadid and Asad had) which then attempts to impose its utopian vision on a majority that rejects it.

Jadid backed the Palestinian guerrillas. Asad, who was then minister of defense, was less enamored of the guerrillas, who he saw as handing Israel pretexts for war. Jadid defined the bourgeoisie as the enemy. Asad wanted to enlist their backing at home to broaden the government’s base of support against the Muslim Brothers. Jadid spurned the reactionary Arab regimes. Asad was for unifying all Arab states—reactionary or otherwise—against Israel. [19]

Asad—who Ali says he opposed—recognized (a) that a program of secular nationalist socialism couldn’t be implemented holus bolus without mass support, and (b) that the government didn’t have it. So, after toppling Jadid in a so-called “corrective” movement, he minimized class warfare in favor of broadening his government’s base, trying to win over merchants, artisans, business people, and other opponents of the regime’s nationalizations and socialist measures. At the same time, he retained Jadid’s commitment to a dirigiste state and continued to promote oppressed classes and minorities. This was hardly a stirring program for Marxist purists—in fact it looked like a betrayal—but the Soviets were more committed to Asad than Jadid, recognizing that his program respected the world as it was and therefore had a greater chance of success. [20]

In the end, however, Asad failed. Neither he nor his son Bashar managed to expand the state’s base of support enough to safeguard it from destabilization. The opposition hasn’t been conjured up out of nothing by regime change specialists in Washington. To be sure, regime change specialists have played a role, but they’ve needed material to work with, and the Asad’s Syria has provided plenty of it. Nor did Gaddafi in Libya finesse the problem of mixing the right amount of repression and persuasion to engineer a broad enough consent for his secular nationalist rule to survive the fever of Salafist opposition rising, as Patrick Seale writes, according to conditions at home and manipulation from abroad . The machinations of the United States and reactionary Arab regimes to stir up and strengthen the secular nationalists’ opponents made the knot all the more difficult to disentangle, but outside manipulation wasn’t the whole story in Gaddafi’s demise (though it was a significant part of it) and hasn’t been the sole, or even a large part of the, explanation for the uprising in Syria.

The idea that the Syrian uprising is a popular, democratic movement against dictatorship and for the redress of economic grievances ignores the significant history of struggle between secularist Arab nationalists and the Muslim Brothers, mistakenly minimizes the role of Salafists in the uprisings, and turns a blind eye to Washington’s longstanding practice of using radical Muslim activists as a cat’s paw against Arab nationalist regimes.

The idea that the uprisings in either country are popular, democratic movements against dictatorship and for the redress of economic grievances, (a) ignores the significant history of struggle between secularist Arab nationalists and the Muslim Brothers, (b) mistakenly minimizes the role of Salafists in the uprisings, and (c) turns a blind eye to Washington’s longstanding practice of using radical Muslim activists as a cat’s paw against Arab nationalist regimes that are against sacrificing local interests to the foreign trade and investment interests of Wall Street and corporate America. With Islamists lashing out violently against US embassies in the Middle East, their depiction by US state officials and Western media as pro-democracy fighters for freedom may very well be supplanted by the labels used by Gaddafi and Asad to describe their Islamist opponents, labels that are closer to the truth –“religious fanatics” and “terrorists.”

Reactionary Islam may have won the battle for hegemony in the Muslim world, as Tariq Ali asserts, and with it, the United States, which has often manipulated it for its own purposes, but the battle has yet to be won in Syria, and one would hope, never will be. That’s what’s at stake in the country: not a fragile, popular, egalitarian, pro-democracy movement, but the last remaining secular Arab nationalist regime, resisting both the oppressions and obscurantism of the Muslim Brothers and the oppressions and plunder of imperialism.

1. Tariq Ali, “The Uprising in Syria”, http://www.counterpunch.com, September 12, 2012.
2. Stephen Gowans [A], “Al-Qaeda’s Air Force”, what’s left, February 20, 2012. http://gowans.wordpress.com/2012/02/20/al-qaedas-air-force/
3. Patrick Martin, “Anti-American protests seen as tip of the Islamist iceberg”, The Globe and Mail, September 13, 2012.
4. Gowans [A]
5. Rodric Braithwaite. Afghantsy: The Russians in Afghanistan 1979-1989. Profile Books. 2012. pp. 5-6.
6. Gowans [A]
7. Siobhan Gorman and Adam Entous, “U.S. probing al-Qaeda link in Libya”, The Wall Street Journal, September 14, 2012.
8. Gowans [A]
9. David Pugliese, “The Libya mission one year later: Into the unknown”, The Ottawa Citizen, February 18, 2012.
10. Pugliese
11. Patrick Seale. Asad of Syria: The Struggle for the Middle East. University of California Press. 1988, p.324.
12. Seale, p. 333.
13. Seale, p. 335.
14. Seale, p. 322.
15. Anthony Shadid, “After Arab revolts, reigns of uncertainty”, The New York Times, August 24, 2011.
16. Stephen Gowans [B], “Women’s Rights in Afghanistan”, August 9, 2010. http://gowans.wordpress.com/2010/08/09/women%e2%80%99s-rights-in-afghanistan/
17. Ali
18. Seale
19. Seale
20. Seale

Source

“Libyan” “freedom fighters”

Standard

By Lizzie Phelan
August 10, 2012

Double parenthesis needed because these are actually white European or US mercenary training forces, like those also reported to be on the ground in Syria.

Source

Turkey running proxy invasion of Syria

Standard

Admits hosting foreign fighters seeking to enter Syria, trucks in weapons to rearm terrorist groups

By Tony Cartalucci
July 26, 2012

The Washington Post has just published an article with the very misleading titled, “Turkey a hub for Syria revolution as illegal border crossing points abound,” in which it describes “Salafi Muslims,” who have “come to offer help from the countries of the Persian Gulf region” arming and joining the so-called “Free Syrian Army.” The article also claims “weapons are ferried into Syria, delivered by Turkish military trucks and picked up by fighters on the other side in the dead of night.”

A more apt title would be, “Turkey hosts invading Saudi and Qatari mercenary army.”

This confirms earlier reports featured in the New York Times and the Washington Post, that not only are the Gulf States of Saudi Arabia and Qatar funding and arming militants via Turkey, but that the US is coordinating the logistical aspects of the operation as well.

Likewise, CNN has attempted to spin concessions made by its own Ivan Watson, traveling with sectarian extremists into Syria, where it was admitted:

Meanwhile, residents of the village where the Syrian Falcons were headquartered said there were fighters of several North African nationalities also serving with the brigade’s ranks.

A volunteer Libyan fighter has also told CNN he intends to travel from Turkey to Syria within days to add a “platoon” of Libyan fighters to armed movement.

CNN has now added:

On Wednesday, CNN’s crew met a Libyan fighter who had crossed into Syria from Turkey with four other Libyans. The fighter wore full camouflage and was carrying a Kalashnikov rifle. He said more Libyan fighters were on the way.

The foreign fighters, some of them are clearly drawn because they see this as … a jihad. So this is a magnet for jihadists who see this as a fight for Sunni Muslims.

CNN then attempts to claim the “real” Syrian “revolutionaries” “do not want an Islamist political agenda to be mixed in with their revolution.”

The face of Libya’s “revolution” was literally Al Qaeda. Abdul Hakim Belhaj, commander of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) listed by the US State Department as a “Foreign Terrorists Organization,” was armed and backed by NATO (including the US) in his efforts to topple the government of Libya. Belhaj more recently pledged (NATO) weapons, cash, and Libyan militants to the “Free Syrian Army.”

Unfortunately for CNN, despite its best efforts, it cannot qualify its claim that these foreign fighters are “unwanted,” – for the so-called “Free Syrian Army” (FSA) has long since exposed itself as a sectarian extremist front infiltrated with foreign fighters and foreign weapons, stretching back as far as 2007.

Saudis and Qataris Attempt “Arab League-UN” Rescue of Faltering Mercenaries

Perhaps as a sign the Gulf States of Saudi Arabia and Qatar are stretched to the limits of their ability to covertly undermine Syria, they have announced plans to seek “UN General Assembly action” for a “political transition and establishment of a democratic government in Syria.” For the despotic, unelected, grandiose nepotism of Saudi Arabia and Qatar to call for a “democratic government in Syria” is truly a move made as much out of desperation as it is one of farcical hypocrisy.

Both Gulf State nations are run by absolute monarchies – some of the only kind still left in the world. In Saudi Arabia, not only are elections out of the question, but women are in fact, prohibited from even driving. How the Saudis themselves are not subject to UN resolutions, open condemnations, sanctions of all kinds, and ultimatums over their own dictatorship is a true indication of the bankrupted, hypocritical, self-serving dysfunction that punctuates a Western corporate-financier dominated “international order.” It is an “international community” that creates the illusion of urgency and injustice when it seeks to expand its interests into one nation, but conveniently ignores real injustice when it jeopardizes their interests elsewhere.

Turkey Supports Subversion of Syria, While Crushing Dissent at Home

Turkey itself has been waging a decades-long bloody campaign against its own armed uprising in predominately Kurdish areas bordering Syria, Iraq, and Iran. In fact, at one point, the US allowed Turkish tanks to cross into American-occupied Iraq to attack villages suspected of harboring armed Kurdish separatists in 2008, mirroring the very tactics Turkish PM Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is now condemning Syria for. The Guardian reported in their 2008 article, “Iraq demands Turkey withdraw from border conflict with Kurds,” that the conflict had been raging since 1984 and had cost the lives of 40,000 people.

Turkey has in recent weeks, violated Iraq’s airspace in order to strafe and bomb Kurdish villages inside Iraqi territory. Iraq has lodged a complaint with the UN Security Council – a complaint likely to go unnoticed.

One can only imagine the “threat” Syria would be portrayed as if it were to likewise strafe and bomb targets beyond its borders in pursuit of now admittedly foreign-armed, foreign fighters invading its country via Turkey. Turkey, a NATO member since 1952, would most likely invoke “Chapter V” of NATO’s treaty, a mutual defense clause that makes an attack on one alliance member an attack on all members – thus opening up the door for more direct foreign military intervention.

Turkey’s ruling government led by PM Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is in fact undermining its own national security by running errands for NATO versus Syria. By supporting foreign terrorists invading neighboring Syria, it undermines the legitimacy of its own campaign against Kurdish rebels within its borders, not to mention beyond them. Turkey’s current stance vis-a-vis Syria is not shared by all members of Turkey’s government, and at this critical stage, now more than ever they need to make their voices heard both to the Turkish people and to the people of the world.

Carving Out “Safe Havens” for the US State Department’s SNC

Also out of the Brookings Institution, Middle East Memo #21 “Assessing Options for Regime Change (.pdf),” makes no secret that the humanitarian “responsibility to protect” is but a pretext for long-planned regime change.

The ultimate goal of inundating Syria with foreign fighters and weapons while Saudi Arabia and Qatar farcically call for a “democratic transition” in Syria is to create a “safe haven” from which the US State Department coached and directed “Syrian National Council” (SNC) can rule from – further dividing and undermining the Syrian nation-state.

This geopolitical objective was first summarized in the Fortune 500-funded Brookings Institution’s March 2012 Middle East Memo #21 ” Assessing Options for Regime Change (.pdf)and recently reiterated almost verbatim by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

The US foreign-policy think-tank, Brookings Institution blueprinted designs for regime change in Libya as well as both Syria and Iran. In their report, ” Assessing Options for Regime Change” it is specifically stated (emphasis added):

“An alternative is for diplomatic efforts to focus first on how to end the violence and how to gain humanitarian access, as is being done under Annan’s leadership.This may lead to the creation of safe-havens and humanitarian corridors, which would have to be backed by limited military power. This would, of course, fall short of U.S. goals for Syria and could preserve Asad in power. From that starting point, however, it is possible that a broad coalition with the appropriate international mandate could add further coercive action to its efforts.” -page 4, Assessing Options for Regime Change, Brookings Institution.

The Brookings Institution’s “safe havens” and “humanitarian corridors” are meant to be established by NATO-member Turkey, who had been threatening to partially invade Syria in order to accomplish this. And while Turkey claims this is based on “humanitarian concerns,” examining Turkey’s abysmal human rights record in addition to its own ongoing armed campaign against the Kurdish people both within and beyond its borders, it is clear they are simply fulfilling the agenda established by their Western patrons on Wall Street and in the city of London.

There is still extreme danger that with Aleppo still under threat by foreign fighters and the so-called “Free Syrian Army,” NATO is preparing cross-border provocations to justify the “limited military power” Brookings calls for in establishing its prescribed “safe havens.” Fabricated “massacres,” “humanitarian crisis,” and false flag attacks involving chemical weapons are also pretexts the West might use for a limited military incursions into Syria in an attempt to cripple its military and lend its militant proxies a “safe haven” in Syria to rule over.

Source