....Capitalist politicians who seek to scapegoat Muslims and immigrants have seized the opportunity to increase their calls for closing borders and turning away refugees across Europe, as well as in the United States. More than 44,000 refugees are already trapped in crisis-wracked Greece because neighboring Albania, Bulgaria and Macedonia have sealed the borders.
EU-Turkey immigrant agreement
The government of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan just completed an agreement with European Union officials for Ankara to receive migrants turned back when they try to land on the Greek islands. In return, the EU promised Turkey $6.7 billion in aid and renewed consideration of its application for EU membership.
Another suicide bomber affiliated with Islamic State set off an explosion in Istanbul, Turkey, March 19 that killed three Israelis and an Iranian.
The monstrous attacks on civilians by Islamic State and the jihadists’ conduct in areas they control in Syria and Iraq, including beheading prisoners and making sex slaves of captured Yazidi women, are abhorrent to working people. This makes it easier for Washington and other capitalist rulers to justify their actions in the Mideast.
Washington’s increased collaboration with the governments of Russia and Iran to try to stabilize the Mideast in the interests of U.S. imperialism has resulted in a reduction of hostilities in parts of war-torn Syria, the expansion of areas controlled by the repressive regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, gains by Kurds in consolidating territory in northern Syria and a stepped-up military effort to retake cities and territories controlled by Islamic State.
Washington is turning increased attention and resources to what the Pentagon calls “the second phase in Iraq and Syria to degrade and ultimately defeat” Islamic State — the fight to retake Mosul, a large city in northern Iraq held by the brutal Islamists. The day after a U.S. Marine was killed fighting Islamic State 45 miles southeast of Mosul, the Pentagon assigned a detachment of Marines to join forces on the ground from the Kurdish Regional Government there and troops sent by Baghdad.
After carrying out a partial drawdown of Russia’s military presence in Syria, Russian President Vladimir Putin said March 17 that Moscow would maintain air power to back up Assad and would continue to train and financially support Syrian troops.
Russian bombing of Syrian opposition strongholds is down from 60-80 sorties a day to 20-30, Putin said. Moscow is aiding Damascus in efforts to reclaim Palmyra and Raqqa, Syria, from Islamic State, causing heavy civilian casualties, according to the anti-IS group Raqqa Is Being Slaughtered Silently.
New alliances across Mideast
Meanwhile, the governments of Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Israel — longtime allies of Washington who see the U.S. partnership with Moscow and Tehran as a threat — are seeking to form new blocs to defend their national capitalist interests.
Relations between Ankara and Moscow have been tense since Turkish forces shot down a Russian fighter jet that briefly entered Turkish airspace in November. In retaliation, Putin limited Russian travel to Turkey and the purchase of Turkish fruits and vegetables.
Ankara is strengthening ties with the Ukrainian government. It recently extended a low-interest $50 million loan to Kiev and conducted joint naval exercises in the Black Sea.
The Israeli government is increasing trade with Turkey and looking toward relations with the Saudi government as “an ally rather than an enemy,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told CNN Jan. 22, pointing to a shared interest in opposing greater Iranian control in the region.
When a truce and transition is reached in Syria, “it is critical from the Israeli standpoint that Syria does not emerge as an Iranian satellite,” Dore Gold, Israeli foreign ministry director general, told theWall Street Journal.