Socialist Workers Party demands Washington get troops, warplanes out of the Middle East!
The following statement is by Osborne Hart, Socialist Workers Party candidate for mayor of Philadelphia in 2015.
Following the bloody carnage inflicted on some 500 people in Paris Nov. 13 by Islamic State terrorists, French President Francois Hollande called for expanded war in Syria and Iraq.
Beating of the war drums for more “boots on the ground” in the Middle East is growing in Washington, including in President Barack Obama’s Democratic Party. More and more politicians and pundits are saying that U.S.-organized bombings, deployment of special forces units, and assassinations and drone attacks are not enough.
Hollande calls for a “grand coalition” to step up the war, based on Paris, Washington and Moscow. Washington and its allies have used terror to defend their class interests, from dropping the atomic bomb to incinerate Hiroshima and Nagasaki, to the leveling of city after city in North Korea during the 1950-53 war against workers and farmers there, to Iraq and Afghanistan. France’s capitalist rulers have a long and bloody record of imperialist intervention and exploitation, from Algeria to Vietnam, Syria to Mali.
The Socialist Workers Party calls on workers in the U.S. to oppose moves by Washington and Paris to expand their Mideast war. Demand they get their bombers and troops out of the region. Speak out against discrimination against Syrian refugees and against anti-Arab, anti-Muslim demagoguery.
The SWP opposes efforts by the capitalist rulers in Washington to seize the opportunity to step up assaults against political rights and to widen use of troops, informers, spies, “data mining” and more against working people. Capitalist politicians of all stripes are calling for barring Syrians from seeking refuge in the U.S. or to limit entrance to Syrian Christians. Anti-Arab and anti-Muslim bigotry is being promoted to justify gutting workers’ rights.
This in the face of the fact that the biggest victims of imperialist policy, of Syria and other bourgeois regimes in the region, and of reactionary Islamic State terror are Arabs, Muslims, Kurds and others there.
The Socialist Workers Party calls on workers, farmers and all defenders of democratic rights to protest these attacks and defend constitutional rights to speak out and protest against government policy — from wars abroad to cop violence at home.
There is growing resistance today to attacks by the bosses and their government, like the large picket lines put up by members of the autoworkers union on strike at Kohler in Wisconsin; steelworkers and others fighting deep concession demands; Black youth leading protests against police killings; and activities in support of demands for an end to the criminal U.S. blockade of revolutionary Cuba. This resistance is Washington’s real target as it prepares for sharper battles to come.
The French rulers have imposed a far-reaching state of emergency, reinstituted French border controls, barred demonstrations, put army troops on the streets and stepped up spying in Arab and Muslim neighborhoods.
Islamic State, which has taken credit for the slaughter in Paris, as well as terror attacks against a Russian airliner in Egypt and dozens of workers and youth in Beirut over the last couple weeks, is a reactionary thug outfit.
Betrayals by Stalinist parties and bourgeois-minded nationalist misleaders have prevented toilers in the Middle East from developing a leadership like the July 26th Movement — which led workers and farmers in Cuba to power in 1959 — capable of organizing a revolutionary struggle against imperialist oppression and capitalists and landlords at home.
The U.S.-led decade-long imperialist war in Iraq propped up a brutal, factional regime that attacked and deepened suffering in Sunni areas.
The Bashar al-Assad dictatorship in Syria, backed by Moscow and Tehran, responded to mass mobilizations in 2011 calling for political rights and an end to the regime’s despotic rule with bombs, murder, torture and destruction, crushing the revolt.
In this political vacuum, the reactionary Islamic State emerged and seized territory, ruling by terror, beheadings and violence. The only force that has proved capable of pushing them back are the Kurds, motivated by decades-long aspirations for national rights and an independent Kurdish state. And their growing strength and confidence are viewed with fear and anger by the capitalist rulers in Iraq, Iran, Turkey and Syria, as well as by Washington.
The Socialist Workers Party demands Washington and Paris get out of the Middle East. We fight against the rulers’ attacks on our rights and political space to organize, challenge the assault of the bosses and take political action.
Paris, Washington use killings in France to push Mideast war
Step up attack on rights after Islamic State brutality
BY BRIAN WILLIAMS
AND JOHN STUDER
“France is at war,” President Francois Hollande said to a rare joint session of the French Parliament at the Palace of Versailles Nov. 16. He spoke in response to the indiscriminate killings in Paris carried out three days earlier by agents of the reactionary Islamic State.
Hollande laid out a program of war measures in Syria; a call for Washington and Moscow to subordinate their political differences and join in leading a “grand” and “single coalition” against the Islamists; and for a series of attacks on political rights and the rights of Arabs and Muslims in France. He got a standing ovation from legislators of all political parties, who joined him in singing the national anthem.
Rulers in Washington, London and other imperialist capitals joined in denouncing the assaults and proposing new attacks on workers’ rights in their own countries.
Pointing to Islamic State’s responsibility for blowing up a planeload of Russian tourists in Egypt Oct. 31, Moscow joined France in bombing Raqqa, the de facto capital of the IS “caliphate” in Syria, beginning Nov. 16.
IS suicide bombers stormed the Bataclan concert hall in Paris Nov. 13, gunning down 89 people attending a performance by U.S. rock band Eagles of Death Metal. Others wearing bomb belts detonated themselves outside Stade de France soccer stadium where the French and German national teams were playing. Assassination squads fired point blank into several nearby restaurants and bars. IS says eight of its members were involved. The anti-working-class jihadists killed more than 130 people, wounding over 350.
Islamic State issued a statement celebrating their assault as “a blessed battle.” They said they attacked the soccer match because the teams represents “crusader nations” and workers and youth at the Bataclan were “pagans gathered for a concert of prostitution and vice.”
The brutal IS terror attacks, the imperialists’ steps to take advantage of them to push for wider war and moves to slash political rights are blows to the working class.
While many workers are drawn into the patriotic orgy whipped up by the propertied French rulers, some are opposed. “I’m worried that a whole community is going to get blamed for this,” Farid Borsali, 46, an auto assembly worker and general secretary of the CGT union at the Peugeot plant in Poissy outside Paris, told the Militant. “We need to try to unite workers, not let ourselves be divided.”
The overwhelming majority of Muslims oppose the Islamic State attacks. This is “bad for the people who died and bad for my religion, Islam,” said Samir Amer, 41, who was born in Morocco and also works at the auto plant. “Now people who see me going to the mosque — and I have a beard — are going to think I’m like the people who did this.”
Seven of the attackers were killed — six by blowing themselves up, one in a shootout with police — and a cross-border manhunt is on in France, Belgium and beyond.
This was the second deadly terror assault in Paris this year. In January, two Islamist thugs shot up the offices of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, killing 13 cartoonists and others, and another killed four shoppers in the Hyper Cacher kosher market in a Jewish district.
While President Barack Obama joined French officials in denouncing the killings, he chose not to adjust his schedule to visit Paris. He stressed he continues to oppose deploying more U.S. ground troops in Syria and Iraq, saying instead Washington’s military would step up bombing.
There are growing calls among Republicans and Democrats alike for a more robust U.S. military response.
Obama should shift from a “consistently underpowered” military course “by deploying more Special Operations forces” to work with Arabs and Kurds moving to take IS-controlled Raqqa, to join with Iraqi and Kurdish forces to push toward Mosul in Iraq, and to directly supply more weapons, the Washington Post said Nov. 16.
Ignored amidst imperialist leaders rushing to profess solidarity with France’s rulers is the loss of 44 lives in double suicide-bombing attacks targeting Arabs and Muslims in Beirut, Lebanon, the day before the Paris attack.
Hollande declares state of emergency
Hours after the assault Hollande declared a state of emergency, allowing police to search homes without a warrant, impose curfews and place anyone authorities consider “dangerous” under house arrest. Some 1,500 French troops were deployed in Paris. Street demonstrations were banned until at the earliest Nov. 19.
Hollande, leader of the Socialist Party government, announced he was reasserting French control over its borders, tossing aside free movement between countries in Europe established by the European Union.
France has one of the largest Arab and Muslim populations in Europe, a product of the workings of its colonial empire and imperialist wars. During the 1950s and early ’60s, French troops fought a bloody but unsuccessful war against a popular revolution in Algeria, and conducted fierce repression on the Algerian community in France.
Syria’s borders were drawn in secret negotiations for control over the region between Paris and London a century ago after the overthrow of the Ottoman Empire. France got what became Syria and Lebanon, while the U.K. got Iraq, Jordan and Palestine.
French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said Nov. 16 that 23 people had been arrested in 168 raids overnight and another 104 put under house arrest. “This is just the beginning,” he added. Dozens of Belgian police and armed commandos surrounded houses in the overwhelmingly Arab district of Molenbeek in Brussels the same day.
Some 30,000 cops imposed border controls at the country’s 285 road, rail, sea and air checkpoints in an operation authorities say will last at least through the conclusion of the U.N.-sponsored climate conference scheduled to open in Paris Nov. 30.
French officials have not yet said whether they will ban a Nov. 29 demonstration called by trade union and other groups to press for stronger protection of the environment.
Government figures called for stepped-up spying on mosques and Arab communities and discussed new restrictions on the 10,000 or so people in French spy agencies’ “S files.”
Rulers across Europe seized on the developments in France to shift the debate on how to handle the tens of thousands of refugees streaming in from the deepening war and social disaster in Syria.
While the majority of the Islamic State murderers were either French citizens or residents of Belgium, there is evidence that one of them entered Europe by joining refugees crossing into Greece.
Markus Söder, the Bavarian finance minister and member of the Christian Social Union, one of the parties in Chancellor Angela Merkel’s coalition government, called for federal police to impose controls on all border crossings with Austria. If not, he threatened, Bavaria would take matters into its own hands.
Demands for a halt to acceptance of Syrian refugees in the U.S. swelled as well. Within a few days of the attacks in Paris, the majority of state governors, including both Democrats and Republicans, called for shutting the program down.
In Washington, New York and other cities authorities beefed up police patrols, increasing inspections of buses, trains and passengers’ bags. On the CBS news program “Face the Nation” Nov. 15 New York City Police Commissioner William Bratton described the Paris attacks as a “game changer” for the cops.
With 2,000 police already deployed in special counterterrorism units, the city is fielding a new antiterror squad, Bratton and Mayor Bill de Blasio said the next day. The first assignment for the 560-member Critical Response Command, armed with heavy equipment, is to stake out the New Year’s Eve celebration in Times Square.
CIA Director John Brennan said restrictions on data collection and electronic spying have made it “much more challenging” to track potential terrorists. “I do hope this will be a wake-up call,” he said Nov. 16.
The vast majority of the victims of Islamic State murder, torture and oppression are Arabs and Muslims in IS-controlled areas. The reactionary outfit seized parts of western Iraq and Syria during the nearly five-year-long civil war in Syria. Paving the way for its emergence was the political exhaustion of the bourgeois nationalist forces that arose throughout the Mideast after World War II, combined with betrayals of worker and peasant struggles by Stalinist parties in the region. The Arab Baath Socialist Party, led since 1970 by Hafez al-Assad and since 2000 by his son Bashar al-Assad, imposed a brutal capitalist regime, backed by Moscow.
Origins of Islamic State
In response to growing protests in 2011 demanding an end to Assad’s dictatorial rule, the regime cracked down with arrests, bombings, starvation sieges and use of chemical weapons. Since then some 250,000 people have been killed and more than 11 million — half the country’s population — have been driven from their homes.
Islamic State stepped into this vacuum, seizing territory and imposing a bloody rule wherever they took control.
Washington views IS as an obstacle to its efforts to enforce a semblance of stability in the region and protect U.S. imperialist interests.
Since August 2014 a U.S.-led coalition has conducted some 8,000 airstrikes — the vast majority by Washington — against Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.
The Institute for the Study of War, which advocates stronger U.S. intervention in Syria, recently called for loosening the rules of engagement, not worrying so much about killing civilians.
Moscow began airstrikes in Syria at the end of September, purportedly against Islamic State but instead concentrating its bombings to prop up Assad’s tattered regime, targeting opposition groups in western Syria fighting to end his rule.
France is now moving to play a larger role, pressing the Obama administration to work with Moscow to concentrate their fire against Islamic State.
Derek Jeffers in Paris contributed to this article.