Thursday, June 11, 2015

MENA: Yemen, Iran and the Arab Revolution

Image result for Yarmouk camp
Yarmouk Camp, near Damascus, symbol of the Arab Revolution
Battle lines in the Middle East continue to be drawn between the US bloc and the rising China/Russia bloc over control of the hydrocarbon resources of the region. This has not become an open proxy war since the China, Russia bloc do not want to be drawn into a fight over oil in MENA (Middle East, North Africa) where the stakes are so high. At stake is the fate of Iran. Iran is in the camp of Russia and China. It has the 4th largest reserves of oil and 2nd largest reserves of gas in the world. Its immediate interests are to get the sanctions lifted and its own oil flowing. It has a stake in Iraq where the Shiite led regime and militias are driving back the IS forces in the north. It is the main force that is keeping al Assad in power in Syria.

In Yemen the latest front in a series of connected fronts has opened as the US bloc led on the ground by Saudi Arabia and a coalition of the US lackey states, lines up against the popular Houthi rebellion that has overthrown the US sponsored dictator who has flown the country. While the US bloc claims that the Houthi are armed by Iran, Iran denies this though the Houthi have links to Hezbollah another Iran proxy. Iran as part of the China/Russia bloc is clearly engaged in a struggle with the US bloc for control of MENA.

We advocate independent working class action in defence of the Houthi uprising without any political support to the bourgeois leadership or its proxy role aligned to the Russia/China imperialist bloc.

The Arab Revolution threatens both blocs

While the inter-imperialist rivalry underlies these wars in MENA, the real threat to both blocs is the unfinished Arab Revolution. In 2012 a year into the Arab Revolution re-opened in MENA we wrote a balance sheet in which the success of the revolution was clearly in the armed masses fighting against dictatorships. To the extent that uprisings were steered into parliamentary ‘solutions’ as in Tunisia and Egypt the revolutions were halted. Where these rebellions met overwhelming armed repression as in Bahrain they were aborted. Where they met armed repression but survived to arm a popular resistance movement as in Libya and Syria, the revolutions are still alive.

Most important, the Arab Revolution had to be joined up at Palestine from East, West, North and South. If the Syrian revolution did not join up militarily with the Palestinian struggle it would be doomed. If the Libyan and Egyptian Revolutions remained separated they would not succeed. Thus it was necessary for the revolution to remove the imperialist borders imposed by Sykes Picot in 1919 and turn the Palestinian struggle into a Pan Arab Permanent Revolution.

In those countries where the revolution succumbed to the siren songs of bourgeois parliamentary democracy, they failed to arm themselves and win over the ranks of the army. In Egypt the SCAF (Supreme Command of the Armed Forces) sacked the Muslim Brotherhood regime of Morsi and continued its historic role since Nasser as the military Bonapartist institution that is the backbone of the authoritarian state defending capitalist rule in Egypt, not only from the external enemy, but from the internal enemy, the populist Muslim Brotherhood and the Egyptian masses.

The most important task of this military regime is to isolate the Egyptian masses from the rest of the Arab states. One of the first acts of Al Sisi was to close the border to Gaza and to the uniting of Egyptian and Palestine revolutions. Today Al Sisi joins the Yankee coalition bombing IS in Libya and invading Yemen with Saudi planes and tanks to smash the rebellion as they did in Bahrain.

In those countries where the resistance armed itself, civil wars opened up against dictatorships like al Assad in Syria, al Maliki in Iraq, and the NTC in Libya. Yet in none of these countries has the armed resistance united across borders to join the Palestinian struggle. But neither have they been disarmed and destroyed. Every attempt has been made by both US and Russia/China blocs to isolate and destroy the popular resistance creating power vacuums in which other forces especially Islamic jihadist were able to fill the gap. In Iraq this has meant that the non-sectarian resistance to al Maliki has been overrun by the Sunni IS in the North while the Shiite militia from the South have become the dominant force in pushing the IS back. Similarly, in Syria the non-sectarian militias have become the target of not only al Assad but of the IS and its jihadist allies such as al Nusra. The IS has now moved against the Palestinian revolution attempting to take over the refugee camp at Yarmouk on the outskirts of Damascus.

Sectarian or imperialist wars?

So while the armed revolution advanced from 2011 to 2013, it has been overtaken by counter-revolutionary forces who may want to carve out Islamic states in much the same way that Israel carved out its Zionist state. These are the open enemies of the Arab Revolution. The result is that in both Syria and Iraq the dictatorships have aligned themselves with the counter-revolutionary Shiite forces against the Sunni masses in an attempt to turn what are potentially anti-imperialist and revolutionary wars into reactionary sectarian wars. It is the stalemate between these dictatorships and their Sunni opposition that has created the vacuum that the Islamic State has moved to fill. Yet the fundamental fault lines of the wars in MENA are not sectarian but imperialist.

Yemen demonstrates this exactly. Look who is driving the ideology of the anti-Shia, anti-Iran realpolitik; Israel and Saudia Arabia with the US providing the intelligence and supplying the weapons. Israel, the Zionist reactionary state has fought wars against Hamas and Hezbollah. Along with Saudi Arabia the home of the Wahabi Sunni sect and al Qaeda, both are client states of the US bloc armed by the US to the teeth, and backed up by not-so-secret Israeli nuclear weapons! But who joins in this god squad of mercenary states after a bloody purge of the leadership of the Muslim Brotherhood, Al Sisi and his secular Egyptian army that isolates Gaza on behalf of Israel. Turkey even chimes in from the sidelines fearful of a vacuum being filled on its borders by a Kurd nation that threatens its own territory.

Look to see who is backing the opposition. The Iraqi regime forces trained by the US are incapable of stopping the Islamic State. In Iraq, as in Syria, it is the Shia militia led by Iranian generals and backed by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards that are putting up the only opposition to the revolutionary democratic militias and the Islamic State. Iran is part of a military bloc with Russia and China. Russia has recently committed to supply S-300 missiles which are a defence against aircraft if not an Israel nuclear missile attack. Of course, both blocs are in the final analysis attempting to maintain stability of the whole of MENA against the revival of revolutionary uprisings that become linked into one united struggle.

For a United Front with Palestine!

There is only one force that can solve the crisis of war ridden MENA in the interests of the popular masses, those masses themselves. Revolutionaries recognise that the Arab masses are fighting a revolution against both imperialism and its national dictators, bought and paid for by imperialism. We give no support to fake anti-imperialist bourgeois war lords and jihadist mullahs who claim religious rights to steal the land that has been liberated by the masses’ struggles. If not the creations of one or other imperialist bloc, they are competing to create new bourgeois mini-states that do deals with one or both blocs for the franchise to pump oil or gas.

Against the counter-revolution in Syria, Iraq and Libya, the popular armed militias have to fight the dictators and their imperialist backers, and the jihadists who hijack the revolutions to create caliphates. This can only succeed as a common front with the Palestinians who have carried the burden of the Arab Revolution for generations. The key is Egypt the most powerful state in MENA that is the pivot between the Middle East and North Africa.

As we argued from the start of the ‘Arab Spring’ in Egypt the workers program against a military Bonapartism of Mubarak (and now Al Sisi) is clear. Re-activate the unfinished ‘democratic revolution’ as the Permanent Revolution. This means building a Marxist party that can raise a transitional program to mobilise the working class to build workers councils and militias to fight for the immediate demands of workers and poor peasants through strike action and a political general strike.

Such a program will challenge the Islamic fundamentalism of the Muslim Brotherhood youth who have come to the fore with the arrest of the old Morsi generation and who are no longer following the road of parliamentary reform. Drawing the masses behind such a program will force the hand of the SCAF to resort to an Al Assad type civil war. This will split the ranks from the SCAF officer corps and create the conditions for an armed insurrection.

The revival of the revolution in Egypt will draw the US and Israel in to defend the Al Sisi dictatorship at all costs. The loss of Egypt would allow the revolution in North Africa to link up to the Palestinian and Syrian revolutions. It would signal that the non-sectarian Arab forces can form a bloc from Libya to Iraq and a potential alliance with the Kurds.

The only solution is the Permanent Revolution where the proletariat, small traders and poor peasants led by a mass proletarian party overthrow the bourgeois state and build a workers’ state. The legacy of the reactionary Stalinist parties that entered popular fronts with the secular Baathists and Nasserites has to be replaced by the program of Permanent Revolution of a new Leninist Trotskyist International.

The Permanent Revolution in MENA requires a transitional program that begins with the struggle for basic democratic rights of assembly and speech. But nowhere in MENA are such rights possible without workers taking power. The semi-colonial state is the agent of imperialism in extreme crisis. Imperialism can only survive by using these client regimes to super-exploit and oppress the masses. There can be no reform of the existing state and society. A revolutionary insurrection is necessary based on workers, farmers, and soldiers councils defended by popular militias from Tunisia to Yemen.

For a Revolutionary Marxist party!

For the Permanent Revolution!

For a Union of Socialist Republics of MENA!

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