Archive for the ‘Syria’ Category

Today, June 5, marks the 50th anniversary of the beginning of the 1967 Six Days War.  The war saw Israel take over the Gaza Strip, the Golan Heights and the West Bank, as well as Sinai.

by Moshe Machover

Much has been written about the sequence of events leading to the June 1967 Six-Day War: the series of missteps through which Egypt’s president Gamal Abdel Nasser stumbled into the fatal trap of a war he had not intend to fight.1 The course of the war is also well documented: the crushing defeat of Egypt – sealed in the first few hours of the war, when virtually the entire Egyptian airforce was destroyed on the ground, like a badling of sitting ducks – followed by the defeat of Jordan and Syria, which subsequently got sucked into the war.2

As for the consequences of the war, to say that it “was a watershed moment in the history of the modern Middle East”3is, like most clichés, evidently true. (This also applies to the cliché ‘most clichés are true’…) Secular Arab nationalism was dealt a blow from which it has not recovered, while Israel emerged as a regional strongman, America’s local enforcer. Indeed, due to the geopolitical and strategic centrality of the Middle East, the outcome of the war had a considerable global effect: the defeat of the USSR’s main regional allies was a severe blow to its standing as a world power, contributed to its decline and presaged its demise.

In this, the 50th anniversary, much more is and will no doubt be written about all this: the lead-up to the war, its battles and aftermath. But here I would like to consider another aspect of that history: the pre-war roots of trends and developments that became manifest after June 1967. Like every major political crisis, the war was a moment of historical discontinuity: local, regional and to some extent even global reality took an abrupt turn. Yet, like every such crisis, it was also a juncture that amplified some pre-existing tendencies. That these were discernable in the preceding period – at least since 1956 – does not necessarily imply that the post-war shape of things could have been predicted with certainty. Rather, of the various alternatives that seemed possible before June 1967, the war selected some and suppressed others.

Global and regional roots

I cannot dwell here on the pre-1967 indications that the Soviet Union had entered a downward trend – which was to be its terminal decline – internally and internationally. Let me just mention the Cuban missile crisis of October 1962, when Nikita Khrushchev was forced into a humiliating climbdown. The Brezhnev era, which started two years later, is generally recognised as one of stagnation, presaging ultimate collapse. Given this background, it could come as no surprise that the Soviet Union had to look on impotently, as its two Arab allies were thoroughly routed and their Soviet military hardware destroyed. This led directly within a few years to Egypt, the leading Arab country, leaving the Soviet orbit and becoming a US client.

While for the Soviet Union the war was but one in a series of steps, midway along its downhill slide, for the Arab world it was a (more…)

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The following is from an interview with Leila by Dimitris Konstantakopoulos which appeared on the Katehon site.

“We, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, made our position clear from the outset.

“We are not part of this crisis. We are refugees in Syria. The people of Syria has the right to make decisions for its country. We support the popular demands for democracy and freedom. It is the (more…)

by Jim Creegan

It is now increasingly apparent that the abrupt reversals of the Trump White House, emerging from behind a curtain of court intrigue, signal a major political shift. The white nationalist platform upon which the parvenu real estate mogul was elected in November seems in the process of being scrapped, plank by plank, in favour of a far more conventional rightwing Republican agenda, at home and abroad.

Far too often, Marxist political writing suffers from a conceptual gap. On the one hand, the bourgeois state is said – as a general theoretical proposition – to be an instrument of capitalist class rule. On the other hand, short to medium-term political events are analysed exclusively in terms of the pronouncements and deeds of political actors, momentary combinations, electoral moods etc., without regard to the interface between politics and class. No attempt is made uncover the particular pressures and influences through which the interests of the bourgeoisie are brought to bear.

In cases where politics flow through accustomed channels, the challenge is not daunting. Political parties and institutions are headed by individuals who either come from the ruling class themselves, or who are thoroughly venal and have undergone certain vetting procedures for class loyalty. The task of explanation becomes more difficult, however, when extraordinary convulsions – coups or insurrections in authoritarian regimes, or electoral upsets in democracies – put power in the hands of individuals and groups without long-established ruling class connections, and who may be hostile in important ways to the settled aims and practices of the bourgeoisie.

Hostile takeover?

Donald Trump is a case in point. Although himself a member of the ruling class, he entered the presidential primaries as an (more…)

Price of Raytheon shares. Notice the big spike immediately following the missile attack. Source: New York Stock Exchange

by Phil Duncan

The US strike against targets in Syria seems like a slap with a wet bus ticket – it appears the US administration felt it had to do something in response to the use of chemical weapons by the regime again, but not too much.  While the strike will hardly frighten the Russians or Assad, it has been a nice little earner for weapons manufacturer Raytheon.

Raytheon, you see, makes the Tomahawk missiles.

And Trump had shares in Raytheon, (more…)

by Juan Cruz Ferre

President Trump gave the order to open a new front in the Syrian war Thursday evening. The US Navy launched 59 Tomahawk missiles hitting the ground at Al Shayrat airfield in Syria, site from where the chemical weapons were allegedly launched.

This marks a qualitative shift in the US policies towards the country since the civil war started and a stark departure from Trump’s own campaign promises of trying to collaborate with Russia to curb the Islamic State.

The situation escalated after the use of chemical weapons on Tuesday in the opposition-held province of Idlib, killing 80 people. France and the UK blamed Assad’s regime for the chemical attack, while Russia accused armed opposition groups of keeping chemical weapons stored in facilities bombed by the Syrian air force.

Disingenuous

With a disingenuous rhetoric of defending the children from Assad’s regime, Trump ordered the direct airstrikes Thursday evening, marking a break with the previous policy on Syria of no formal military intervention in the government-held territory, while maintaining covert military and financial support of opposition militias, and direct bombing of the areas in control of ISIS.

Trump laid the ground for a military intervention early (more…)

The article below was written late last year by a veteran Canadian Marxist and anti-imperialist.  It appeared in the Australian-based international Marxist journal Links.  We’ve included the discussion on the Links site, as it contains comments representative of the two positions taken by anti-imperialists: one which focuses on the imperialists’ machinations against the regime and one which focuses on the nature of the Syrian regime and its backers in Tehran and Moscow.

by Richard Fidler

November 14, 2016 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal — In Syria the rebel cities that rose up four years ago in revolt against the brutal Assad dictatorship are now under a genocidal siege, bombed and assaulted from the air by Assad’s military aided and abetted by Russian fighter jets and bombers. Their desperate fight for survival, if unsuccessful, will put paid to the Arab Spring and with it the potential for building a democratic, anti-imperialist governmental alternative in the Middle East for an extended period to come. Socialists and antiwar activists everywhere have every interest in supporting the Syrian people and opposing that war.

But where is the antiwar movement? And what if anything is it doing about Syria? The most recent statement on the Canadian Peace Alliance web site is headlined Stop Bombing Syria. But it is focused on NATO. Not wrong in principle, but the statement, addressed to Canada’s previous bombing of ISIS positions in Syria, is many months out of date. There is nothing on the CPA site about the current murderous air and bombing assault on Syria’s cities. And it would appear that across the country the movement is doing nothing to protest the war.

Why the silence? Is it only because Trudeau has pulled Canada’s fighter jets out of Syria; after all, Canadian planes and troops are active in other parts of the Middle East. The CPA denounces the bombing of Syria by Harper and Trudeau but says nothing about the bombing now by Putin. And most of the left and labour movement are likewise maintaining a disquieting silence on the war in Syria.

Part of the reason lies no doubt in the complex and confused situation on the ground in that country, and throughout the Middle East.

In Syria the Assad regime has from the outset responded with brutal repression, displaying no willingness to negotiate with the democratic and popular opposition forces. It has sought to deflect attention from its war by various tactics, including the release from its prisons of Islamic fundamentalists who are now fighting with Daesh, the reactionary Islamic State forces that have been drawn into Syria from Iraq as a result of the civil war.

Iran and now Russia have intervened in support of Assad, while traditional allies of the United States (Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Qatar, Jordan, with the obvious sympathy of Israel) have backed the opposition, although for their own reactionary purposes and without providing the opposition forces with the weapons and other material support they so desperately need.

The United States, no friend of Assad but fearing his overthrow will further destabilize the Middle East and jeopardize Israel’s defense, has doled out aid to the opposition as if through an eye-dropper, denying it the (more…)

The following is based on a presentation at the International Communist Forum in London last month (February 2017).  ICF is organised by the British Marxist workers’ group Workers Fight, which is aligned with the French revolutionary movement Lutte Ouvriere.  This is part of our efforts to make available to readers several different viewpoints on the conflict in Syria.

Introduction

It is almost exactly 6 years since the wave of protests of the Arab Spring spread to Syria, in February 2011. Within only a few months of these protests, the confrontation between the protesters and the Syrian dictatorship turned into a bloody civil war, which remains as rife and brutal as ever today.

These six years of bloodshed have already claimed nearly half a million casualties and forced an estimated 4.5 million Syrians to seek shelter outside the country around 20% of the population. As to the state of the country, most of us have seen TV footage of Aleppo when it was recently retaken by government forces: it is a ghost town, covered in rubble. Some buildings still appear to be standing upright, but, on a closer look, most have been hollowed out by the blasts of many explosions. In fact many of Syria’s small and bigger towns have suffered the same treatment. As to the country’s infrastructure it has either been destroyed or else, it is falling apart for lack of maintenance.

In other words, the same tragedy which took place in Iraq as a result of the country’s invasion by the imperialist powers is being played out again in Syria, but this time, without (more…)