Condemn US aggression against Syria

CC-BY Alisdare Hickson on Flickr

Last Friday the US military launched 59 cruise missiles at Syria, striking the Shayrat airbase operated by the Syrian air force. Read the initial report from the SANA here. The strikes were announced as a response to an incident in the town of Khan Sheikhoun, where Syrian forces are accused of using chemical weapons. The incident has not yet been fully investigated, and the presumptive attack by the USA was deplored by Egypt, Iran, Russia.

Statements were released by a number of progressive & democratic organisations, most importantly the Syrian Communist Party (Bakdash) – “Shame on the American aggression” [21centurymanifesto, facebook, solidnet]

The Communist Party of Britain – “condemn US aggression in Syria” [21centurymanifesto, solidnet]

The World Peace Council – “on the missile attack of the USA against Syrian targets” [WPC website, Global Research]

Lastly, the Morning Star editorial the following Saturday identified the strikes as an ‘escalation of western involvement.’ [link]

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Heart Of The Crisis

f4-turkey_syria-war

Navid Shomali explains the imperial power plays that have caused chaos in the Middle East – and still do

THE refugee crisis has become one of the key political issues facing Europe, including the rise of a racist backlash in most countries of the EU.

The spectre of tens of thousands of refugees criss-crossing borders from Turkey to Germany via Balkan countries has been effectively used for justifying unprecedented policy changes including draconian security and immigration measures across Europe and further afield.

The most bizarre aspect of this crisis is that it springs from the conflict in the Middle East — but is then used to justify further military intervention to reshape the map of the Middle East. Conflict in Syria is at the centre of policy-making with respect to the refugees’ crisis and has spread into rivalry between the West and Russia.

UN reports speak of over 4.7 million Syrian refugees in neighbouring countries desperate to seek a safe haven from war and terror.

However the complex political and humanitarian events and developments in and around Syria are not isolated from the macro strategic policies that shaped the US’s “Greater Middle East Plan” after the US intervention in Iraq in 2003. Condoleezza Rice, the US secretary of state in the Bush administration, in 2006 famously justified the war and violence in the region as “the birth pangs of a new Middle East.”

The policy to reshape the political landscape of Middle East initially drafted and implemented by the neocons was later elaborated and progressed by Obama’s administration.

To this mix Russia’s deepening involvement in the Middle East in recent years should be added. Russia’s direct engagement in the military conflicts in Syria is part of its wider plan to assert itself as a global player by using its military might in order to compensate for its economic weaknesses.

This will in turn protect Russia’s strategic influence in the region, which has for decades been targeted by the US and EU as an unrivalled gas and energy supplier and a source of massive deposits of rare minerals waiting to be tapped.

To fully appreciate the complex mix of factors giving rise to the crisis in the Middle East one needs to focus on a couple of strategic considerations by significant global actors. It is now accepted that since Barack Obama rose to the presidency of the US in January 2009, the US has gradually reduced its direct military presence in the Middle East to compensate for its militarisation of the Far East targeting China, which is seen as a major risk to the US’s hegemonic position as the single superpower.

Iraq and Afghanistan are two examples and the US has resisted deploying ground military units of any significance in Libya, Syria or in the effors to repulse Isis from Iraq.

Another consideration is Europe’s critical dependency on Russia’s oil and gas resources which provide a powerful leverage that Vladimir Putin has been exploiting against the EU.

Therefore maintaining direct influence on the Middle East’s flow of oil and gas would be a vital geopolitical component of US global hegemony and Russia’s strategic plan.

An influential document published in 1997 by the neoconservative think tank Project for the New American Century has been the blueprint for all US administrations, including Obama’s.

The Project’s main tenet is “to promote American global leadership,” ie to perpetuate US global hegemony as the single superpower.

Regardless of Obama’s softened foreign policy approach (in contrast to the neocons), the US political, military and business establishments have had to consider a new approach to perpetuate US global hegemony in light of changing economic realities.

This has forced the US to reconfigure its policy in the Middle East and how it utilises and manipulates the forces of political Islam — this is one of the key causes of the present humanitarian disaster in the Middle East. The roots of the humanitarian catastrophe in Syria are multidimensional, with political and economic implications spanning across the Middle East and internationally.

Since the turn of the century and for more than a decade Bashar alAssad’s autocratic regime had refused to abandon its neoliberal economic policies and implement effective economic and political reforms despite the growing pressure from different social strata, in particular from the urban middle classes and ethnic minorities.

Instead a series of economic restructuring measures were imposed with the usual devastating effect on the urban and rural populations.

On the eve of the Arab Spring of 2011, when a massive wave of awareness and uprisings for freedom and social justice was surging across the region, Assad’s secular autocratic rule was internally unpopular and isolated. Assad’s weakness and vulnerability was ruthlessly exploited as opportunity for external intervention by the reactionary Arab sheikhdoms and Western powers.

Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates deeply feared and opposed the Arab Spring and its potential for change and democratisation in the Arab world.

The possibility that the autocratic “client states” in the Middle East and North Africa could be replaced by national democratic states would have been a disastrous outcome of Arab Spring for both Arab reactionary rulers and the Western imperialist interests.

Therefore after the fall of dictators in Tunisia and Egypt the Arab Spring had to be subverted and ultimately halted at any costs before the popular movements would solidify across the region. Saudi Arabian forces invaded Bahrain and suffocated the popular movement for change there. Nato with the participation of Qatar and the UAE directly attacked Libya in March 2011.

The fall of Gadaffi’s regime in October 2011 created a predictable power vacuum which was quickly filled by Islamist forces, including al-Qaida. Libya soon descended into a massive tribal war, disintegration into competing powerful warlords and an ensuing humanitarian catastrophe.

In 2009, Syria received a USbacked proposal from Qatar for the construction of a pipeline — it would have stretched across Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Syria all the way to Turkey, to supply the EU. Qatar’s massive gas fields are adjacent to Iran’s South Pars gas fields.

But instead in 2012, Syria signed a memorandum of understanding with Iran worth $10 billion for a rival proposal, the so called “Islamic pipeline” that would have run across Iran, Iraq and Syria to Europe. This pipeline had Russia’s tacit approval and backing as it involved Iran and Syria, which Russia is able to influence. The refusal of Qatari proposal and the “Islamic pipeline” added new aggressive economic dimensions into the already unfolding conflict.

In spite of massive global Islamophobic propaganda and the real or perceived threat of “Islamic terrorism,” the US strategists are unlikely to consider the ideology of “political Islam” to be an existential strategic threat to their interests. In fact on the contrary, intrinsic economic links have historically fused imperialist objectives of the European powers and US with those of “political Islam.”

Therefore from a US perspective, “political Islam” in its various forms is not a direct partner, but neither is it an avowed enemy. Reduction of the US military presence in the Middle East is accompanied by a reconfiguration of its policy aiming at “multilateral containment” that encompasses the regional powers — the Islamic Republic of Iran, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and even Israel to some degree.

The US policy shift in the Middle East simultaneously counters and supports the regional contradictions in relation to each key player. The US is using its power to exploit internal unrest and contradictions by means of a so-called “carrot and stick” approach in its diplomacy.

This is already resulting in Sunni versus Shii’ite alliances and confrontation between Saudi Arabia and Turkey with Iran, because Iran has since 2013 acquired a pivotal role in the US’s plan for a “new Middle East.” The US plan is forging ahead by changing the political map of the Middle East, causing massive humanitarian devastation.

The US and its strategic allies Britain and France are now revising and reconfiguring their overall approach towards the newly configured entities within the Middle East and the wider region such as the Kurds, Sunni Iraq, Baluchistan and more.

The region has been turned into an arena of diplomatic power play, accompanied by proxy civil wars and tactical air strikes orchestrated by the major global powers.

Russia has now entered this dangerous mix of diplomacy and military alliances and counter-alliances. The regional powers such as Iran, Turkey and Saudi Arabia are pushed and pulled within dangerous alliances and tensions. And the creation of new statelets based on religious and ethnic confrontation is one of the possible solutions to be imposed by the major global powers.

On February 23, US Secretary of State John Kerry said the partition of Syria was possible if the ceasefire fails. The imperialist carving up of the Middle East by Sykes-Picot and Balfour a century ago is being revived in light of the 21st-century interests of the global powers, with ever closer rapprochement between them and political Islam as the dominant ideological power in the Middle East.

This is a recipe for future destructive conflicts and the perpetuation of an oppressive ideology with ensuing humanitarian catastrophes. The refugee crisis was used to facilitate the involvement of major global powers in the Middle East. This has given rise to the reconfiguration of the political map of the region and this in turn will no doubt give rise to more ethnic and religious conflicts and hence more refugees crossing European borders seeking safety and security. The EU’s approach to the Middle East and dealing with the crisis has squarely failed.

  • Navid Shomali is international secretary of the Tudeh Party of Iran.

in Solidarity with Pakistani People after Deadly Floods

WFTU in Solidarity with Pakistani People after Deadly Floods
21 Mar 2016ASIA, PAKISTAN, SOLIDARITY
The World Federation of Trade Unions, (WFTU) addresses the world public opinion and the international working class and expresses its solidarity with the people of Pakistan who is facing heavy torrential rains and flood that left dozens of people dead and displaced. Among the victims are also workers of the coal mines in Orazkai region, where 30 coal miners were trapped and 8 never went back home, after the mine collapsed because of the heavy rain.

The last few years, there are thousands of dead from “natural disasters”, like the deadly mega floods of 2010 that left 2.000 people dead and thousands of displaced families.

This situation is permanent in Pakistan and many other capitalist countries. Despite the progress of science and technology in civil protection sector, the workers, the poor, the toiling masses in capitalist countries remain unprotected when facing natural disasters, earthquakes, epidemics, fires.

It is a matter of class. It is unacceptable that during earthquakes poor people get killed, during fires poor people are burnt, during floods are again the poor who get drown. Those in charge put the blame on the “wrath of nature” or say its “an act of god”, But, the blame for the victims of “natural disasters” lies with the class policies of capitalist governments, who -in order to serve the interests of the capital- let the shortcomings in infrastructure and protection measures persist and allow it so that the people stay unprotected facing “natural disaster”.

WFTU follows the developments in the region and we express our moral support and solidarity with the victims and the labor movement of Pakistan. We call the government of Pakistan to immediately take all necessary relief measures for those affected by the floods and also take all necessary protection measures so that tragedies like this one never happen again.

THE SECRETARIAT

WFTU in Solidarity with Pakistani People after Deadly Floods

Middle East: Powder Keg Politics

iranWith the lifting of Western sanctions against Iran imminent, JANE GREEN considers the implications of recent developments in the region for the Iranian people


THE reintegration of the Islamic Republic of Iran into the world economic community moved a step closer this weekend with the clean bill of health given to the Iranian nuclear programme by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

The IAEA statement opens the way for the removal of financial and economic sanctions imposed upon Iran by the West four years ago.

While the sanctions have been crippling the Iranian economy, the leadership of the Islamic Republic has been moving towards a rapprochement with the United States since the initiation of secret talks in 2010, held in Oman.

As far as the West is concerned, lifting sanctions will mean that Iran is “open for business” and the regime’s leadership, desperate to shore up its credibility with a restive population, will do all it can to encourage further investment in the flagging economy.

The West’s relationship with Iran is by no means straightforward, however.

In the current conflict in Syria, the Islamic Republic has made no secret of its support for President Bashar al-Assad, while Western support has been channelled towards the so-called Free Syrian Army and assorted other groups opposed to the Assad government.

It is against this background that the recent breakdown in diplomatic relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia must be considered.

The Saudis have long been regarded as allies of the West, being the recipients of major arms shipments from Britain and the United States, and they are seen as a safe pair of hands in the Middle East by Nato.

The situation in Syria has resulted in a more ambivalent attitude towards the Saudis, however.

The Arab dictatorship has consistently denied that it has provided any military hardware to Isis but it is widely accepted that Saudi weaponry has made it into the hands of Isis, either directly or indirectly.

In the wider context of the Middle East split between supporters of the Shi’ite and Sunni branches of Islam, the latter, supported by the Saudis, is more consistent with the Isis position.

With both Syria and Iraq being more inclined to the Shi’ite camp, of which Iran is the widely acknowledged leader, it is not difficult to see where Saudi allegiances lie.

There is no doubt that following the execution of Sheikh Nimr Baqr al-Nimr, the Saudi dissident Shi’ite cleric, by the Saudi authorities relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran have become critical and increased the possibility of dangerous conflict between the two countries.

The execution prompted groups associated with the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps and security forces to raid the embassy of Saudi Arabia in Tehran and the Saudi consulate building in the city of Mashhad.

It came as little surprise that Saudi Arabia announced that, following the attacks on the buildings of the Saudi diplomatic missions in Iran, it had severed its diplomatic ties with Iran and asked that Iranian diplomats leave Saudi Arabia within 48 hours.

The escalation of tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia stems from the serious disputes between the two regimes about the domestic wars in Syria and Yemen.

In February 2015, the Saudi regime officially invaded Yemen to prevent the victory of Houthi forces and their allies who, as alleged by the Saudis, are supported by Iran.

This action by Saudi Arabia and its allies in the Persian Gulf Co-operation Council was to prevent the fall of the previous Yemeni president, supported by Riyadh, and to control the political developments in Yemen in favour of the reactionary policies of the Saudi regime.

In relation to the domestic war in Syria, Saudi Arabia and the reactionary monarchists of the Persian Gulf, in alliance with Turkey and the United States and Nato states, want to transfer power from Assad, Syria’s elected president, to Wahhabi and Salafi groups which they support.

It is no coincidence that on December 28 Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan made a trip to Saudi Arabia just days before the executions which have resulted in the escalation of tensions in the region.

During his official talks with Saudi authorities, Erdogan spoke about the common vision of the two countries regarding the future of Syria.

He spoke of shaping the developments in other conflict areas in the region, including Yemen, stating: “It is clear that steps that are taken without considering the dynamism, sociology and the history of the region will only end in savagery and brutality.”

During the trip, Erdogan officially announced the joining of Turkey to the reactionary alliance of Sunni states engaged in Syria.

Reactionary pressure groups associated with the Revolutionary Guards inside Iran have taken the opportunity to pour fuel on the fire and have talked of “seeking revenge” for the execution of Sheikh Nimr.

Such statements will do nothing to calm tensions between the two states and the opposition inside Iran has called for both sides to step back from such provocative positions.

Any rise in tensions, or new military conflict in the region, could have potentially disastrous consequences for the Middle East as a whole.

In Britain, the Committee for the Defence of the Iranian People’s Rights (Codir), has pointed out the contradiction in Iran condemning the execution of Sheikh Nimr, when Iran leads the world league table of countries which employ capital punishment.

Iran executed almost 1,000 people in 2015. The record in previous years has not been less catastrophic.

Codir has, however, acknowledged that the execution of Sheikh Nimr was clearly an act of provocation on the part of the Saudis, while calling upon the Iranian government not to take the bait and increase tensions in the region any further.

The Iranian progressive and pro-democracy forces have characterised the situation in the Middle East as like a barrel of gunpowder that, in the event of any new military conflict, could lead to blood, fire and catastrophe for its already hard-hit people.

Codir will continue to support the call of the Iranian opposition to defend peace and support a peaceful solution based on the United Nations Charter.

  • Jane Green is national organiser for Codir.

Arab League Takes Dim View Of Saudi-Iranian Proxy Spat

James Tweedie writes:


ARAB League foreign ministers held an extraordinary meeting with a single agenda item — condemnation of the ransacking of Saudi Arabia’s diplomatic mission in Iran and Tehran’s “meddling” in Arab affairs.

Saudi Arabia was expected to garner the support of 18 members of the 22-nation bloc, in which Syria has been represented by the opposition Syrian National Coalition since 2011.

The attack on the embassy followed Riyadh’s execution of prominent Shi’ite preacher and critic of the Saudi monarchy Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr.

Tehran condemned the assault, but the communist Tudeh Party of Iran blamed it on elements linked to the powerful Revolutionary Guard, the paramilitary Basij militia and security forces.

And the party warned that diplomatic rows between Tehran and Riyadh were aimed at derailing Syrian peace talks and that both were determined to see the Syrian civil war pursued to the bitter end.

“The Middle East is like a barrel of gunpowder that in the event of any new military conflict could lead to a blood-and-fire catastrophe for its already hard-hit people,” said Tudeh international secretary Navid Shomali.

Tehran and Riyadh support opposing sides in the wars in Iranian ally Syria and Saudi Arabia’s southern neighbour Yemen.

On Saturday, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem declared his government’s willingness to abide by the unanimous December 18 UN security council resolution calling for peace between Damascus and the “moderate” opposition.

But Mr Shomali said that there were those on both sides who wanted to scupper the deal.

He drew attention to a visit to Riyadh by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan — a leading proponent of regime change in Syria — days before Mr Nimr’s beheading.

– The US released a video on Saturday which it claimed showed Iranian Revolutionary Guards firing rockets dangerously close to shipping in the Persian Gulf.

The same day, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif wrote to the secretaries-general of the UN and the Organisation of Islamic Co-operation, warning that Saudi Arabia was trying to drag the whole region into conflict.

http://www.morningstaronline.co.uk/a-a5af-Arab-League-takes-dim-view-of-Saudi-Iranian-proxy-spat#.VpOCCvmLQ_4

 

 

Diplomatic ties broken between Iran and Saudi Arabia

tudeh-roseThe statement of the CC of Tudeh Party of Iran on the breaking of the diplomatic relations between the Islamic Republic of Iran and Saudi Arabia and rise of tension in the Persian Gulf region 

Following the execution of Sheikh Nimr Baqr al-Nimr, the Saudi dissident Shiite cleric, by the Saudi authorities, the political and diplomatic relations of this country with Iran – which have already deteriorated in recent years – have now become very critical and increased the possibility of dangerous conflicts between the two countries.

Subsequent to the calculated and provocative action of the Saudi’s reactionary rulers in executing Sheikh Nimr, the Saudi Shiite cleric, on Saturday 2 January , along with 46 other  people – who according to the published news were mostly affiliated with the terrorist group Al-Qaeda – the hooligans associated with the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps and Basij militia and IRI’s security forces raided the embassy of Saudi Arabia in Tehran and the Saudi’s consulate building in the city of Mashhad. During these raids, besides chanting proactive slogans, some of the demonstrators took advantage of the indifferent police force, entered the grounds of the embassy and set fire to part of the building and ransacked some of the documents and properties of the embassy. According to the media today (Sunday January 3rd) Adil al-Jubeir, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Saudi Arabia, announced that following the attacks on the buildings of the Saudi diplomatic missions in Iran, Saudi Arabia has severed its diplomatic ties with Iran, and asked that Iranian diplomats leave Saudi Arabia within 48 hours.

The provocative speech of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, outside of the diplomatic norms, about the execution of Sheikh Nimr, and the attacks and raids on the Saudi embassy and consulate building are politically and diplomatically unjustified. The invasion of the embassy of a State under any pretext is considered invasion of that country and in the eyes of the international bodies, including the UN, is condemned. It must be added that both the President and the head of the Iran’s Judiciary labeled the attack on the Saudi embassy as illegal and criticised the action.

It must be noted that the escalation of tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia stems from the serious disputes between the two regimes about the domestic wars in Syria and Yemen. Last February, the Saudi regime officially invaded Yemen to prevent the victory of Houthi forces and their allies who, as alleged by the Saudis, are supported by Iran. This action by Saudi Arabia and its allies in the Gulf Cooperation Council was to prevent the fall of the previous Yemeni President who was supported by Riyadh and to control the political developments in Yemen in favour of the reactionary policies of the Saudi regime. With regards to the domestic war in Syria, Saudi Arabia and the reactionary monarchists of the Persian Gulf in alliance with Turkey and the United States and NATO states want to transfer  power from Bashar al-Assad, Syria’s elected President, to Wahhabi and Salafi terrorist groups who they support. Iran, in a common front with the Russian Federation, Iraq, and Lebanese Hezbollah adamantly and practically support the continuance of Bashar al-Assad government and the foreign policy of the Syrian government.

The trip to Riyadh (on December 28th) of Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, one of the main protagonists in continuing the bloody and destructive war in Syria, could not be unrelated to the decision of Saudi Arabia and the recent executions and the escalation of tensions in the region. Turkey and Saudi Arabia are central to the alliance of the Sunni countries involved in the developments in Syria. During his official talks with Saudi authorities, Erdoğan spoke about the common vision of the two countries with regards to the future of the Syria and shaping the developments in other conflict areas in the regions, including Yemen, and said: “It is clear that steps that are taken without considering the dynamism, sociology, and the history of the region will only end in savagery and brutality.” In this trip, Erdoğan officially announced the joining of Turkey to the reactionary alliance of Sunni states engaged in Syria.

What should be clearly stated is that the irresponsible statements of influential figures within the Iranian regime about the recent worrying events do not help in keeping the peace and calm at all and in fact serve the dangerous policies of the reactionary regime of Saudi Arabia. Ali Akbar Velayati, the Head of the Strategic Research of the Expediency Discernment Council in Iran said: “the indications of the Saudi government’s dissatisfaction with the events in Yemen and the developments of the region are seen in the execution of the Sheikh Nimr.” He said that he is “sure” that Saudi Arabia will suffer a military defeat in Yemen. Iran’s news media released the harshly worded statement of the Guards Corps which alluded to “seeking revenge” for the execution of Sheikh Nimr and threatened to “appropriately respond” to this action of Saudi Arabia. Iran’s Military also issued a statement denouncing the execution of Sheikh Nimr and stated that “it is time for an appropriate response to the crimes of the House of Saud.”

The Tudeh Party of Iran condemns the anti-people and reactionary policies of the Saudi regime and at the same time expresses its grave concern about the events of recent days and the dangerous escalation of tensions in the region. If this deepening crisis is not managed wisely and based on the national interests of our nation, it could be exploited by the warmongering circles on both sides and lead to further conflicts, and cause our nation to suffer from its unpredictable disastrous and devastating consequences. The Saudi regime is determined to take advantage of any escalation of tension against the Islamic Republic of Iran to strengthen its position in the region and to continue and deepen the isolation of Iran which will have huge political and economic costs for Iran. The reactionary and warmongering circles in the power structure of the theocratic regime of Iran could also exploit this tense environment and the possibility of conflicts to reshape the political atmosphere of the country, over the next few months leading to the parliamentary elections [in February], to their advantage and cause new problems and new rounds of devastating sanctions against Iran. Any rise of tensions and any new military conflict in the region could have disastrous consequences for the future of our country.

The Tudeh Party of Iran, which is a longtime critic of the anti-people regime of Saudi Arabia and its human rights record, condemns the provocative execution of Sheikh Nimr Baqr al-Nimr and calls upon the appropriate international bodies like the Human Rights Commission of the UN to seriously deal with the continuing human rights violations in that country. At the same time, we denounce the raids on the embassy and consular building of Saudi Arabia in Iran and the damaging of their properties. The government of the Islamic Republic of Iran is bound to act upon its responsibilities according to the international diplomatic protocols. The Tudeh Party of Iran considers the protection of the interests of the people of Iran its national responsibility and its position is to defend peace and support a peaceful solution to end all disputes and regional conflicts based on the United Nations Charter and respect for the will and demand of the nations. Currently, the Middle East is like a barrel of gunpowder that in the event of any new military conflict could lead to a blood and fire catastrophe for its already hard-hit people.

The Central Committee of the Tudeh Party of Iran

3 January 2016