Monthly Archives: October 2014

No safe space for women

isfahan

 

 

 

 

 

On October 25 the authorities in Iran’s Islamic Republic executed Reyhaneh Jabbari for killing a man who allegedly tried to rape her in 2009. The 26-year-old Reyhaneh had spent the last seven years in prison, charged with the murder of Morteza Abdolali Sarbandi, a general medical practitioner who had previously worked for the intelligence ministry.

Reyhaneh was executed after her relatives failed to gain consent from the victim’s family for a reprieve. During her trial and subsequent appeals Jabbari had admitted stabbing Abdolali Sarbandi once in the back. However, she maintained throughout those seven years that there was a third person in the house who actually killed him. According to Jalal Sarbandi, the victim’s eldest son, Reyhaneh had refused to identify the man. He was quoted in the Iranian media as saying: “Only when her true intentions are exposed and she tells the truth about her accomplice and what really went down will we be prepared to grant mercy.”1

One law for the rich

The consent of the victim’s family was essential for a reprieve because of Iran’s adherence to the medieval laws of hodoud (punishment) and qasas (retribution). The sharia law of qasas covers all crimes involving personal injury or murder. The victim (or in the case of murder the victim’s family) are entitled to retribution (‘an eye for an eye’ or ‘a life for a life’). However, the victim or the victim’s family have the power to forgive the culprit and stop the punishment decided by the court in exchange for compensation paid in the form of diyya or blood money.

In the days since the execution most of the criticism directed against this particular hanging and the practice of qasas have concentrated on the medieval nature of this law, and there are valid reasons for arguing against it. However, an additional and potentially more serious aspect of the law is the fact that it gives the rich the ability to pay money in exchange for a reprieve, a practice widely used in Iran’s Islamic Republic. A clear example of the universal reality that there is one law for the rich and another for the poor. On the day Reyhaneh was executed, another two prisoners were reprieved because they paid substantial sums to the family of their respective victims. Reyhaneh’s case was different, in that she did not admit murder and paying the diyya would have amounted to an acceptance of guilt.

Of course, paying large sums of money to avoid serving a proper sentence for heinous crimes, including murder, exists in western judicial systems, albeit in a different form. The rich and powerful are able to employ the best available legal team, who are more likely to deliver a ‘not guilty’ verdict or a reduced sentence. In the OJ Simpson case in the US, expensive lawyers ensured a ‘not guilty’ verdict in 1995 and two years later a jury in a civil court decided Simpson should pay $25 million in punitive damages to the families of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald L Goldman, the two people he was accused of murdering. True, he was subsequently jailed for 33 years for armed robbery and kidnapping, but his lawyers have already succeeded in getting the minimum period before parole is considered reduced to four years.

No doubt Iran’s laws of hodoud and qasas are medieval. However, the OJ Simpson case is but one example of the increasing tendency in many western countries to imitate the system of sharia compensation. Both in the United States and the United Kingdom, criminal injuries compensation has become an integral part of ‘victim support’.

Several commentators have pointed to another deficiency of Iran’s judicial system: the fact that women cannot become judges. Sharia law considers women too ‘emotional’ and ‘irrational’ to hold such a position and this is certainly a clear example of misogyny – an obvious case of discrimination against women which must be condemned in the strongest terms. Having said that, we should also remember that the appointment of female judges is no guarantee that women will obtain justice, be they victims of violent crime or defendants like Reyhaneh. After all, only last week a woman judge in South Africa gave a five-year sentence to Oscar Pistorius for ‘culpable manslaughter’ – a sentence considered grossly inadequate by women activists in South Africa and worldwide.

The third aspect of the execution that has provoked controversy is the role played by social media, personalities and campaigners trying to help Reyhaneh inside and outside Iran. Her lawyer has claimed that, far from helping her case, the international campaigns and ‘attempts to politicise her trial’ had precipitated her death.2 The reality is that in a country like Iran this trial, like many other aspects of people’s lives, was political, irrespective of who takes up the case.

There is no such a thing as non-political human rights and, although it is true that Iran has at times responded to interventions over such issues from, say, the UN’s human rights commissioners with more arrests and executions, the fact remains that confronting a dictatorship in support of a prisoner via social media, and campaigning to enlist such support from artists, writers, etc, is one of the few means left for anyone wishing to help a victim of injustice.

What is problematic is the use of ‘human rights’ issues by western governments during times of confrontation with Iran – although now, of course, when Iran is no longer imperialism’s main enemy, such campaigns are less vocal and so the increasing dependence on imperialist resources by Iranian human rights groups means they are now worse placed than ever before. In the face of a bigger threat in the form of Islamic State, the priority for US and EU governments has changed. They are no longer so enthusiastic for regime change in Tehran and all those feminist, pseudo-left and human rights groups who relied on US/EU largesse are now finding themselves increasingly deprived of funding. Yet campaigns such as the one aimed at saving Reyhaneh are still considered by Tehran as imperialist interventions, even though the groups concerned are these days struggling to generate interest from the ruling class (except amongst hard-line Zionists and ultra-conservative Republicans).

As predicted, those groups that allowed themselves to become incorporated by the imperialists in their anti-Iran drive have now become a true hindrance to the cause of democratic, women’s and working class rights in Iran and the Middle East. Their association, direct or indirect, with unsavoury ‘regime change’ forces has brought into disrepute the genuine struggles of women, national minorities or workers inside the country and in this particular case did indeed probably increase the likelihood of execution.

Acid attacks

According to reports published on Iranian websites and social media last week, thousands of people have staged angry protests in Isfahan and Tehran against recent acid attacks on young women. The women who were targeted in Isfahan had their hair covered, but their hijabs were considered by some clerics to be inadequate. The demonstrators’ placards read: “Stop violence against women,” “Iranian women have a right to freedom and security”, “Isfahan doesn’t want Daesh [Islamic State]” and “Stop acid attacks”.

It is not clear exactly how many have been victims of such horrible attacks, but the authorities have admitted that eight women are currently in hospital – although many believe the real number is rather higher. Women activists claim these vicious assaults are related to a recent campaign by the more conservative religious leaders to launch civilian vigilante groups to enforce the commandment, Amr be marouf, nahye az monker (‘Command the good, forbid the evil’).

President Hassan Rowhani has tried to distance himself from the conservatives, but his opposition has so far been limited to ‘moderate’ comments, in which he has refused to contradict the supreme leader and conservative clerics, while attempting to appease his own supporters. For example: “Do not interfere in people’s lives so much, even if it is out of compassion. Let people pick their own path to heaven. One cannot take people to heaven through force and a whip. The Prophet did not have a whip in his hand.”3

The response from conservative clerics was predictable: “They say, let people be and don’t take them to heaven by force. Fine: we’ll suspend commanding the good and forbidding evil. To the thief, and to the girl … with bad veiling, we’ll say, ‘Be a good child.’ Is this Islam? Is this a determination to implement religion?”4

Last week the Iranian parliament debated a bill aimed at prohibiting the use of violence in the hijab crackdown and in fact, as protests against the acid-throwing incidents grew, conservative clerics went out of their way to condemn these attacks, demanding severe punishment for the culprits. Indeed, sections of the pro-government media were blaming Mossad! For his part, Mohammad-Reza Naghdi, the head of the religious basij militia, claimed that there was no evidence that the attacks were linked to ‘bad hijabs’, and those who claimed otherwise were trying to distort the image of Islam. He claimed that “western intelligence services” were behind the attacks.5

Mostafa Pourmohammadi, Rowhani’s justice minister, claimed the assaults in Isfahan were terrorist attacks, aimed at sabotaging the city’s safety. A number of Iranian papers, including the pro-‘reformist’ daily, Shargh, have said such incidents have the effect of making Isfahan, one of Iran’s main tourist cities, appear unsafe for visitors. The following statement from one of the victims summarises the horrific nature of these attacks: “I was coming back from the swimming pool and pulled over in Bozorgmehr Street, so that my friend could get out. That’s when it all happened … I took off all my clothes and threw them to the ground. People gathered in a circle, but no-one helped to wash my body. Everyone was throwing back clothes on me, so that my body would not be naked.”6

The government has now issued instructions on how to deal with such incidents, both in terms of helping the victims and avoiding contamination. However, as many Iranians have pointed out, this is a case of ‘too little, too late’. And, in a bizarre twist, there was news of arrests in Isfahan – not of those accused of throwing acid, but of women journalists from the semi-official news agency, ISNA. Their crime? Reporting the acid-throwing incidents and the subsequent protests.

Both Reyhaneh’s execution and the acid attacks have had limited coverage in sections of the British press and media. But, given the appalling injuries caused and the fact that even by Iran’s standards the hanging of a young women is unusual, the muted response in Europe and the US shows the opportunistic nature of imperialist ‘concerns’ for women’s rights in the Middle East. Iran is no longer the main enemy – some might even say it is an ally right now. So who cares about women’s rights in that country?

These events are also a reminder of other feminist misconceptions. Throughout the last three decades Islamic ‘feminists’ told us that the veil protected Iranian women against violence, that it created a ‘safe space’ for women and indeed one could argue that the ultimate safe space would include gender segregation and the veil. Yet the events of the last two weeks show the fallacy of such claims. The Islamic ‘safe space’ does not protect women against acid attacks. It does not protect women like Reyhaneh when they are attacked by a powerful man. It does not assist them during the lengthy judicial process.

The lessons from Iran are crystal-clear: women cannot be protected through the imposition of (visible or invisible) restrictions – either through the veil or through phoney bureaucratic measures. It is only through the empowerment of women that we can ensure their safety and their equality. And that empowerment must start with the rejection of such patronising attitudes as those that aim to restrict women to ‘safe spaces’.

yassamine.mather@weeklyworker.co.uk

Notes

1. www.businessinsider.com/afp-iran-hangs-woman-in-defiance-of-international-campaign-2014-10.

2. BBC Persian service Radio, 26 October 2014,,Cheshm Andaz Bamdadi.

3. www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2014/05/khatami-criticizes-rouhani-heaven-force-whip.html.

4. Ibid.

5. http://freethoughtblogs.com/butterfliesandwheels/2014/10/isfahans-tourist-industry-is-at-stake.

Imperialism has no progressive role in Kobanê

kobane-woman

The group formerly known as Daesh (Isis), now Islamic State, entered the Syrian Kurdish town of Kobanê In the early hours of Tuesday October 7. As this statement is issued, air strikes seem to have halted its advance for the moment, street-to-street fighting is taking place and initial reports suggest that in these battles secular Kurdish forces allied to the People’s Protection Units (military wing of the Democratic Union Party or PYD) are getting the upper hand – mainly because they are familiar with the town’s layout and IS’s heavy weaponry are not as effective in street battles. That said, the town is being destroyed, its inhabitants are refugees and it is highly unlikely that Kurdish forces can win ultimately.

Who is to blame for the catastrophic situation?

First the United States and its coalition partners – not just for their role in the Iraqi invasion of 2003 that is the root cause of all this, but, more important, for their association with and support for the countries who created and financed this IS monster.

US vice-president Joe Biden recently stated: “My constant cry was that our allies in the region were the largest problem in Syria” – and he singled out the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey specifically. He added:

“The Turks were great friends, but, when it came to Syria and the effort to bring down president Bashar Assad there, those allies’ policies wound up helping to arm and build allies of al Qa’eda and eventually the terrorist Islamic State … What were they doing? They were so determined to take down Assad and essentially have a proxy Sunni-Shia war? What did they do? They poured hundreds of millions of dollars and tens, thousands of tons of weapons into anyone who would fight against Assad – except that the people who were being supplied were al Nusra and al Qa’eda and the extremist elements of jihadis coming from other parts of the world.”

Of course, in his candour the US vice-president failed to mention that until last autumn the Obama administration shared these views and tactics. Even when the US did a complete U-turn, for all the propaganda about air raids by a coalition of 40 countries, there has been no serious attempt to weaken IS in Syria. Hundreds of thousands of Syrian Kurds have been forced to leave their homes and, according to the fighters and the people of Kobanê, coalition air raids were too little and too late to make any difference.

Turkey

Another culprit is the Turkish army. Controlling the heights north of the city, it stood by, as IS used heavy artillery, tanks and rocket launchers to attack the poorly armed Kurdish guerrillas. According to a Kurdish commander, Turkey hopes the fall of Kobanê will create the conditions where it can send ground troops into Syria, paving the way for the establishment of a pro-Turkish regime in Damascus.http://weeklyworker.co.uk/worker/1029/the-is-conundrum/ – 1 Turkish president Tayyip Erdoğan, speaking on October 7, seemed to confirm this view when he called for the launch of a ground operation against IS to halt its advance: “The terror will not be over unless we cooperate in a ground operation,” Erdoğan said.

For the last two years the town had been controlled by the PYD, the Syrian branch of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which is fighting for Kurdish freedom from Turkish rule. The PYD and its People’s Protection Units (YPG) claimed it had created a region of self-governance. Those familiar with the PKK’s authoritarian politics would consider such claims with a degree of cynicism. However, there can be no doubt that tens of thousands of Christians, Yazidis and Turkmen from all over Syria had sought refuge in Kobanê.

The Turkish president has repeatedly talked of his country’s ‘commitment’ to fight IS, yet in reality there has been no sign of any serious effort from his state. Many believe Turkey is directly or indirectly helping IS’s rise, both by funding some of its activities and by allowing foreign volunteers to cross the Turkish border into Syria. In contrast, it has closed the border to Kurds wanting to cross into Syria and join the defence of Kobanê. In September the release of 46 Turkish hostages came after negotiations between the Turkish state and the jihadist group. And last week PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan, held in prison near Istanbul, warned Ankara that the peace process between Turkey and the Kurdish rebels would collapse if IS seized Kobanê.

While PKK/YPG officials in Syria are adamant they do not want Turkey to intervene in the conflict, they have called for an easing of border controls between Syria and Turkey, so that Syrian Kurd fighters can be supplied with arms. The group’s military forces – a poorly trained group of male and female peshmergas – have only light weapons and a few captured tanks. The YPG also claims that, for all its rhetoric, Turkey has been and remains in an undeclared alliance with IS, as it is more concerned to defeat Syrian Kurdish forces allied with the PKK.

Turkey, for its part, is blaming the Kurdish group for choosing an “isolationist position”, and for refusing to join the Free Syrian Army and other Syrian opposition groups funded by Arab countries. Turkey has maintained close relations with the Kurdistan Democratic Party and the Kurdish regional authority in Iraq. However, YPG/PKK fighters have dismissed KDP efforts in opposition to IS as half-hearted and ineffective. A claim supported by Kurdish, Yazidi and Turkmen refugees in the region.

The treacherous leaders of the Kurdish regional authority is a recipient of generous aid from the United States and the European Union. It is a living example of a corrupt, decadent, semi-colonial state. Its leaders were so alarmed by YPG’s experiments of ‘self-governance’ that they were ready to sit back and watch brutal jihadists take over Kobanê. But the problem they will face in the long term is obvious: when IS reaches Suleymaniye or Kirkuk, the major cities of the KRA, no-one will be left to defend its decadent, autocratic, misogynist rulers.

If IS defeats the Kurdish guerrillas in the Kobanê street battles, it would gain control of most of the Syrian-Turkish border – Kobanê is already flanked by two IS-controlled towns to the east and west. This would be a strategic victory for IS, as it would then be able to control the key Raqa-Kobanê route. That is why, irrespective of its political differences with the PKK and YPG, for the left in the region, Kobanê is in the eye of the storm of the fight against IS.

Iran

In Tehran on October 6, 14 well-known left/liberal activists began a protest hunger strike in solidarity with Kobanê – a little strangely. Left and centre-left websites and social media are full of messages of support for Kobanê fighters. Photos of the heroes of the war – the men and women guerrillas who have given their lives to defend the city – are prominent, including that of the young mother, Arin Mirkan, who launched a suicide attack on advancing jihadists on October 5.

The attitude of the Iranian left can only be explained as a leftover from the early 1980s – a period when it romanticised the Iranian Kurdish resistance: the brave fighters in the mountains were going to pave the way for the overthrow of another Islamic state – Iran’s Shia republic – and establish ‘socialism’! However, an ill-equipped army of brave young men and women faced reactionaries who were armed to the teeth, financed by wealthy, powerful forces and determined to die for Islam has little chance. Unfortunately, it is not hard to guess who will win the current struggle in Kobanê. We should leave the suicide attacks to the Islamists (Shia or Sunni) – for the left this is no way to fight, however desperate the situation gets. But the politics of vanguard activism, which created such illusions in Iranian Kurdistan in the 1980s, is fostering similar illusions about Kobanê, at least amongst sections of the Iranian left. This does not mean that in the Middle East, and especially in the west, the left should not support the fighters in Kobanê, who, as secular, leftwing forces, remain a source of hope, a progressive force fighting reactionary Islamists. Our comments are directed at those sections of the Iranian left who seem to have become obsessed with promoting YPG guerrilla heroism.

Who and why

For all the talk of a ‘US-led coalition’, including countries such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the UAE, none of these states are serious about stopping the funding of the jihadists or preventing the financial transactions of banks and institutions in IS-occupied northern Iraq. Who is buying the oil IS sells? Turkey. Who is allowing international transactions from Mosul banks? Qatari, Saudi and UAE banks are laundering money from their counterparts under IS control in northern Iraq.

Is international capital incapable of stopping the flow of funds to IS? Of course not. We know from the recent example of sanctions against Iranian banks that the world hegemon power, the United States, is capable of closing down all international monetary routes. It is capable of tracing the smallest transactions between individuals associated with ‘rogue states’ and punishing banks who fail to comply. Yet we are expected to believe that it cannot do the same when it comes to the northern Iraqi cities controlled by IS? The reality is that a disorientated US does not want to confront its allies in the Arab world.

The ability of IS to maintain and expand its influence is due to a number of factors – not least the reputation it has gained as a force that does not (ostensibly) compromise with the west.

For all the religious statements issued by Sunni clerics denouncing the group’s brutal methods, many young Muslims still join it. Its brutal methods may be medieval, but IS has shown considerable ability in managing the cities it has captured.

According to the Irish Independent newspaper:

“The ‘Islamic State’ group, infamous for its beheadings, crucifixions and mass executions, provides electricity and water, pays salaries, controls traffic and runs nearly everything from bakeries and banks to schools, courts and mosques. While its merciless battlefield tactics and the imposition of its austere vision of Islamic law made headlines, residents say much of its power lies in its efficient and often deeply pragmatic ability to govern …

“Civilians who do not have any political affiliations have adjusted to the presence of Islamic State, because people got tired and exhausted, and also … because they are doing institutional work,” one Raqqa resident opposed to Isis said.”

So far, the US-led bombing operations– which rely on long-distance engagement (to ensure minimum risk to military personnel and warplanes) – have largely only succeeded in gaining new allies for IS. Imperialism created the horror that is currently engulfing this region of the world: it is madness to think it can now drop bombs on it to provide a solution.

Is the US serious about defeating IS or is Iran right to believe that there is a ‘stage two’ in the US-led action against IS – one dedicated to overthrowing Assad from above, with Turkey waiting patiently in the wings? And is this ultimately aimed at regime change in Iran? The situation is confused and tense, but Hands Off the People of Iran is clear:

  • Imperialism has no progressive role to play – no to the bombings!
  • Defend Kobanê against IS barbarism!
  • The only force that can bring peace, progress and socialism to the region is the working class!

No To Intervention! Islamic State atrocities must not disorientate us! there are no short cuts, no easy solutions to the crisis in the middle east!

warEvery new barbaric atrocity by the Islamic State (Isis) makes headlines. Precisely as they are intended to do. US attacks may have the effect of slowing down Isis’ military progress – but it cannot be beaten by military interventions.
Ironically, only a year ago all the talk was of US military intervention on the side of the Syrian opposition – forces that were even then dominated by jihadists who have today evolved into Isis. Today the US and UK are waging an air war against them.
This air war will bolster the regime of Bashar Assad, yesterday’s mortal enemy. Assad has consolidated his power with phoney elections; his army (supported by another ‘rogue state’, Iran) is as repressive as ever before. In short, nothing has changed except the priorities of the imperialist powers – there is now an urgent need to maintain control over the country they ruined in another ‘humanitarian’ intervention in 2003: Iraq.
So Shia Iran, and therefore its ally, Syria, are no longer the main enemy. On the contrary, Iran’s alliance and support is welcomed in Iraq, where, in true colonial fashion, Washington dismisses the prime minister of the occupation government and gets Tehran’s approval to install a replacement.
Ten years after de-Ba’athification and ‘year zero’, when neoliberal economics was supposed to bring about a democratic civil society and, according to some, trade union rights for Iraqi workers, the country remains devastated. It soon became obvious that the regional power benefiting from the political vacuum was Iran. With a friendly, at times obedient, Shia-led state in Baghdad, relative influence in Syria and growing links with Hezbollah in Lebanon, the clerics in Tehran and Qom could not believe their luck: the neoconservatives had handed them the Shia belt, stretching from Tehran (some would say Kabul) to the Mediterranean coast. Yet Iran’s influence and at times direct interventions in Iraq and Syria – not to mention Hezbollah’s political success in Lebanon – increased sectarian tension, a tension fuelled by Saudi and Qatari financial support for Sunni militias in Syria and Iraq, as well as political opponents of Hezbollah in Lebanon.
US threats against Iran and the hysteria about Iran’s nuclear programme since 2007, as well as subsequent crippling sanctions, were inevitable consequences of attempts by first Bush and then Obama to address the increasing geopolitical strength of Iran. The Arab spring in 2011 and 2012 only reinforced this position, as the US now had to consider the coming to power of the Muslim Brotherhood in Cairo. Ironically it was the defeat of the Arab spring and the rising power of fundamentalist jihadists, especially in Syria, that changed US foreign policy. Washington is disorientated and the reality is that last year’s enemies (the Iranian rulers, Assad and Hezbollah) are today’s allies. Unfortunately this disorientation is mirrored amongst sections of the left.
the choice is not between the abstraction that only ‘socialism will do’ or the ‘realistic’ politics of supporting ‘humanitarian’ interventions by the US and its allies. The mess in the Middle East makes a principled position all the more vital:

No foreign military intervention!
No support one or the other reactionary state, one or the other hopeless, ‘moderate’ Islamic group, simply because they oppose the local dictator.  remember!

  • Many of these jihadists were incubated by Saudi Arabia and other US allies
  • It was western colonialism that created the underlying problems of the region – arbitrary borders, crude imposition of ruling elites from religious minorities (Sunni rulers in Shia countries and vice versa).
  • All imperialist ‘humanitarian interventions’ are political, with the single aim of advancing the geopolitical hegemony of US imperialism. Otherwise we would have witnessed, if not US military action, at least forthright condemnation of Israel, as it massacred over 2,000 Palestinians in Gaza.
  • Sections of the left that tail the latest ‘humanitarian’ intervention end up supporting the bombing of pro-Assad forces, including Iranian Revolutionary guards one year and the bombing of Assad’s opponents the next, as ground troops supported by Iranian Revolutionary Guards help Iraqi forces to recapture Shia towns.
  • Every military intervention, ‘humanitarian’ or otherwise, brings new recruits into the ranks of the jihadists. Anyone in doubt should look at events in Afghanistan and how US bombing increased support for the Taliban.

One of the revolutionary left’s most important tasks in the current situation is to point to the fallacy of ‘humanitarian intervention’. It is the short-sighted, opportunistic politics of falling behind this or that Arab/Middle Eastern state or Islamic opposition (‘moderate’ or jihadist, from the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt to Al Nasr in Syria) that continues to discredit the international left in the Middle East, and play into the hands of the religious fundamentalists.
The Americans and their new regional ally, Iran’s Islamic Republic, hope the removal of the much hated Maliki and the coming to power of the ‘moderate’ al-Abadi will improve relations with Sunni tribes. However, as late as August 30, Sheikh Ali al-Hatim of the Dulaim tribe was urging fellow Sunni leaders to withdraw from talks to form a new government. Hatim also called on the Sunni authorities to clamp down on Shi’ite militias.
Principles
Faced with the horrors inflicted by the IS, there was some confusion amongst the left in the imperialist countries. However, the answers remain simple and straightforward. For example:
in 2007 Hopi pointed out, in opposition to the line adopted by the Stop the War Coalition leadership, that threats of war against Iran do not mean us we side with a reactionary religious state.
In 2012, during the Arab spring, Hopi said warned that, while in Egypt the departure of Hosni Mubarak was a cause for celebration, in the absence of any viable leftwing alternative, the neoliberal economics of the Muslim Brotherhood’s, and by the imposition of aspects of Sharia law, would be a disaster. We rejected claims about the allegedly progressive and anti-imperialist nature of the MB and warned against calling for a vote for it.
We were also against the military coup in Egypt in the summer of 2013, which sections of the left at first giddily supported.
And we opposed US military intervention in Syria. Foreign interventions in that country from Iran and Russia on the side of the Syrian dictator, and from Saudi Arabia and Qatar in support of Al Nasr, Isis and the Free Syrian army, paved the way for subsequent disasters.
We repeat the warnings again. The Middle East has a complicated history, compounded by arbitrary borders drawn up by the colonial powers. It has seen imperialist interventions throughout the last century. Only one position that has stood the test of time:

  • No to social-imperialist calls in for ‘humanitarian’ intervention!
  • No ‘critical support’ to this or that regional dictator or Islamist group (‘moderate’ or otherwise)
  • Stand alongside those sections of the working class movement that have not been tainted by either social-imperialism or false anti-imperialism. do not be fooled: there are no short cuts, no easy solutions.