June 2013        


The rightful rulers of the Middle East

The imperialist powers of Britain, France and the United States regard themselves as the rightful rulers of the Middle East. After the First World War, Britain and France carved up the area between them, Britain taking Palestine, Jordan, and Iraq, with Syria and Lebanon going to France (under League of Nations trusteeship).
     Subsequently the United States moved in to establish its hegemony, most notably with the coup d’état in Iran in 1952, overthrowing the nationalist government that had the temerity to nationalise the oil. With the aim of maintaining their hegemony they have always allied themselves with the most backward and obscurantist forces in the area, such as the Shah of Iran, the king of Saudi Arabia, and the emirs of the Gulf states.
     This sordid alliance created the Islamic terrorist organisations that they are still happy to use. Any independent regime in the area is a target for attack, by subversion, by sanctions, or by outright aggression by client states and local allies, or directly if necessary.
     The government of Syria, like Libya before it, has made many concessions to the prevailing neo-liberal economic orthodoxy, at considerable cost to the working people. But nevertheless the government of President Assad, the last Nasserist left standing, remained a target, as an obstacle to the war plans of the United States and its client state, Israel.
     Legitimate demonstrations of popular unrest were suppressed by the government, and were taken advantage of by the imperialists and their agents to create a war situation. They recruited for their purpose, as they did in Libya, the very same fundamentalist Islamic terrorists against whom they have proclaimed a “war on terror.”
     These forces are directly recruited, financed and armed by the US allies Saudi Arabia and Qatar and facilitated by the NATO member Turkey. They come from many countries (including Ireland). They constitute the major part of the forces opposing the Syrian government; whatever democratic Syrian forces were participating in the insurrection are now completely sidelined.
     These tactics have caused enormous suffering to the Syrian people but have failed to dislodge the government. So the US client Israel steps in, bombing Damascus. Direct intervention is being prepared, on the claim that the government of Syria has used chemical weapons, when the evidence cited by the UN representative, Carla del Ponte, implicates the opposition forces. They apparently were carrying out a false-flag operation, prompted by Obama’s “red line,” to provide an excuse for intervention.
     With the Syrian government gaining the upper hand, and the United States and Russia preparing to talk about facilitating a peaceful solution, Britain and France declared their intention of openly arming the opposition forces, preventing the European Union from continuing its arms embargo. It seems they wish to pre-empt any prospect of a peaceful settlement, to keep the war going.
     They are not deterred by the danger of extending the conflict into a wider war, even though it has already spread into Iraq and Lebanon, thanks to the renewed strength it has given to the Islamic fundamentalists. They are shamelessly exploiting the 1,400-year-old schism in Islam between Sunni and Shi‘a, at a cost of thousands of lives.
     The Islamic Republic of Iran is by no means a progressive regime, but because of its independent stand it is also a target. Hillary Clinton even threatened to “annihilate Iran.” Iran could very easily be dragged into the Syrian conflict: that could even be the war the imperialists want. They have certainly been threatening it for some time.
     A number of imperialist interventions have been dressed up in “humanitarian” clothes, for example the creation of a civil war in Yugoslavia, leading to the bombing of Belgrade. Libya was bombed to remove the tyrant Gaddafi with the help of the Islamic fundamentalists.
     In both these cases many supposedly left-wing organisations gave their support, or at least their neutrality. There is no excuse at this stage for failing to oppose the intervention in Syria. The democratic opposition to Assad has been sidelined and can be revived only in conditions of peace.
     Syria is being attacked by an alliance of Zionists, mediaeval Arab despots, Islamic terrorists, and imperialist states, which threatens to destroy the country and create a wider war. It’s time for the peace movement to wake up.

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