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From Atash, Iran: The earthquake in Iraq and its regional consequences
30 June 2014. A World to Win News Service. From Atash (Light), an Iranian communist monthly print newspaper and Web blog, with an introduction for AWTWNS by an Atash correspondent.
A look at the events of the past few weeks in Iraq and the Middle East shows the complexity of the contradictions centred in the region and the fluidity of the moves and policies being carried out by the main states and forces involved in response to the offensive by the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, called Da’ash in Arabic and Daesh in Farsi).
Under today’s new conditions, the White House is seriously considering a reorganization of the Iraqi state. The set of possible scenarios under review includes the formation of a regime ruled by a coalition of forces from both sides in the present military conflict, and autonomous states established by dividing the country among Sunnis, Shias and Kurds.
The theocratic regime of Iran, despite its internal contradictions, is apparently united around keeping Nouri al-Maliki in power. Some Islamic Republic officials call his regime “the most suitable form of rule” for Iraq because it is comprised of Iran’s closest allies and others associated with it. At the same time, the rulers of Iran, like those of Turkey and Syria, are worried about the disintegration of the Iraqi central government. In view of potential problems within their own borders, they are unwilling to accept a more fully developed, officially independent Kurdish state in Iraq. In the past few days, Iranian officials have intensified their threats against the establishment of such a state, and issued warnings to the Kurdish Democratic Party (KDP) lead by Massoud Barzani, the president of the Kurdish Autonomous Regional Government.
Currently, a combination of contradictions and limitations obliges the Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI) to limit its intervention in Iraq to providing intelligence and expertise regarding strategic matters through the presence of Iranian experts and military commanders. Syria has launched air attacks against ISIL in western Iraq and in that sense has taken the lead, on the international level, in attacking it. These measures may represent combined tactics by the IRI and the Bashar al-Assad government to change the political alignment in the region, forcing the West to shift its emphasis away from pressuring Syria and instead focus on opposing ISIL.
The character of the proxy wars taking shape in this region and in Iraq in particular reflect the complexity of the contradictions and risks facing all the forces concerned, including rival imperialists. Existing military alliances have split apart, and the new alliances formed so far are hastily improvised and mainly on the political and not military level. When it comes to determining friends and enemies, the imperialists and local reactionaries all face a situation of chaos and confusion. In fact, in this situation it is difficult for them to even carry out the simple, standard reactionary policy of “the enemy of my enemy is my friend”.
The following is from the June issue (no. 32) of Atash (Light).
Ripe and even rotten fruits don’t drop on their own. They need a breeze or a strong wind to finish the job. Important political developments, the formation of new alignments and alliances, and changes in the structures and hierarchies of power, whether at regional or world level, also need a spark or catalyst. What we observe today in the dark and dusty scene of Iraq could become such a spark. A catalyst for some of the changes that “history” hasn’t taken care of yet.
A relatively large armed force has surfaced in the western and central areas of Iraq. Its backbone is ISIL, a reactionary, fanatically religious and misogynistic organization that establishes medieval laws in the areas under its control. Evidence points to Saudi Arabia as ISIL’s main supporter, militarily and financially. At the same time, last year, a group of Arab analysts talked about contacts between the Islamic Republic of Iran and ISIL. They said that Sepah-e Qods (the international section of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, the Pasdaran) has encouraged ISIL’s presence along Iraq’s north-western borders and its fight against the rising anti-Syrian Kurdish forces on the one hand, and on the other hand it tries to use ISIL’s horrifying violence as a proof of the legitimacy of Bashar al-Assad’s rule.
Recently ISIL allied with Iraqi Sunni tribal leaders, remnants of the Ba’ath regime and a part of the population of al-Anbar and Salahuddin provinces who are sick of the Shia-dominated central government’s suppression and corruption. They launched a massive military operation and are now trying to advance and strengthen their positions. This alliance’s rapid occupation of several cities highlights, more than ever, the brittle and unstable nature of the Iraqi ruling structure. The polarization within the ruling class and the disintegration of political structures along religious and national lines (Shia, Sunni and Kurdish) are accelerating, whatever that alliance’s real military goals and full composition may be, and whether or not their offensive leads to a definitive victory. What is important is the formation of a new situation and the creation of a new context for collusion and rivalry among the imperialist powers, reactionary states and other reactionary forces in the region. Their rivalries make new forms of collusion and new alignments increasingly necessary.
Look at the open declarations of the IRI and various U.S. spokespeople about these developments. How openly they talk about the possibility and opportunity for collaboration between the two countries to restore “calm and stability” in Iraq and oppose the “Takfiri terrorists” (Sunni Muslims who label other branches of Islam “infidels”).
Hussein Rouhani, the president of the crisis-ridden and divided Iranian state beset by the growing misery and discontent of the masses, softly complains, “The U.S. has not yet started acting against the ISIL. If and when they do, we will study the question of collaboration in this situation.” U.S. politicians have implied similar desires. On the one hand, U.S. Defence Department officials declare that collaboration with Iran in Iraq is not on the agenda, and on the other hand a U.S. official famous for his hard line against Iran talks of the possibility of military and security collaboration with Iran against the ISIL. Undoubtedly there are barriers in the way of any such collaboration and rapprochement, partly because of differences within the ruling cliques in both countries. But that is not the main point. The main point is that both sides are being compelled to accelerate their efforts and adjust their politics and plans to the existing unstable situation.
For the U.S. imperialists, military and security collaboration with the IRI regarding Iraq could be an opportunity to pull the Iranian ruling class under their aegis and use that to expand and strengthen U.S. political, economic and military influence in Iran and the region as a whole. For the Islamic Republic, collaboration with the U.S. could be an opportunity to alleviate its long-standing “security concerns” about the U.S. , strengthen Iran’s position in the region and sell itself at a higher price on the international political market. If the IRI cannot use this opportunity to its advantage, it might suffer destabilizing and irreversible consequences.
In such circumstances, will the IRI and its Sepah-e Qods be able to shoulder the task of waging a proxy war on behalf of the U.S.? Will the IRI’s direct military intervention in Iraq be the beginning of a more pronounced and wider presence of a multitude of imperialist and regional powers in that country? And finally, will such policies provoke a response and even a counter-attack by the political-economic-military factions and cliques within the Iranian ruling class closely connected with the U.S.’s imperialist rivals, in particular Russia?
These current developments have another important impact, and that is in the way they shape and channel public opinion and people’s outlook. The main Western media portray the conflict in Iraq as a struggle between forces that, however imperfect, are basically on the side of freedom, humanity and civilization, ranged against the forces of barbarism, fanaticism and medieval terror. Media outlets run by or associated with countries contending with the U.S. and Europe (Russian satellite channels and the like) blame the U.S. and the West for giving birth to and raising forces of barbarism and religious terror. Their aim is to counter the influence of their rivals in the realm of international pubic opinion, and cover up their own role in the formation and continuation of the miserable and deadly prevailing world order. In the absence of a strong pole fighting for a different global public opinion by creating and spreading ideas and strategy for communist revolution as the only real alternative to the imperialist world and its unavoidable misery, the confused and misleading pictures and analyses promoted by all these imperialist media can find a market and become the general understanding.
The reality is that the imperialist powers and their partners and cronies in the so-called “front for democracy and civilization” on the one hand and the reactionary and fanatic religious fundamentalist forces on the other all have important points in common. First, they all, despite what they may claim, seek to maintain the class system now ruling the world. They are all enemies of a deep-going revolution in the politics, economy and culture of human society. Secondly, they are both trying hard to spread the lie among the billions of people who suffer from the dominant oppression and exploitation that they have no alternative but to choose between these two outmoded and putrid poles (imperialism and its blood-soaked democracy on the one hand and religious fundamentalism with its blood-soaked ignorance and fanaticism on the other). The lie that the people of the world must either become cannon fodder for imperialist interests or soldiers in the suicide armies of reactionaries such as ISIL and Al-Qaeda. This is the same lie that the anti-people IRI regime has been feeding the people for more that 30 years: “You have to choose between us and the U.S.! There is no other alternative!”
This situation, with the intensification of oppression and exploitation, the growth of poverty, misery and ignorance and the tightening of the chains of class and gender and national and religious divisions and discrimination around people’s throats, cries out for radical change.
In these conditions, there is nothing more harmful than spreading the seeds of fear and illusions among the people. No deed is more treacherous than siding with one of these two outmodeds in these reactionary brawls. We have to oppose their demagogy and cries of victory, and expose the fact that despite their shows of strength, the foundations of the class systems ruling in each country and the capitalist-imperialist system ruling the world are weak and crumbling, and crises are inevitable. We should boldly declare that in order to end the pain, displacement and insecurity that swallows large groups of people around the world every day, there needs to be a different flag. A flag that puts forward a politics, economy and culture totally different from the existing anti-people poles.
We should boldly and loudly declare to those who suffer from the existing order and whose basic interests are in contradiction with the system of class exploitation and oppression that in order to solve problems, we can neither rely on non-existent gods in the sky nor on the earthly gods, from the Western imperialists to their Chinese and Russian rivals and various factions of the IRI, or backward-looking and bloodthirsty religious groups like the ISIL. The masses of people need to be made aware of the importance of internationalist unity with those who suffer the same fate in every country. We have to draw on previous and current experience in this integrated world to demonstrate to one and all the poisonous and baseless character of nationalist close-mindedness and divisions along religious, national and ethnic lines. There is no other way but to strive hard to build a revolutionary alternative with open eyes, relying on one’s own forces grouped around a vanguard communist leadership that charts the path for the struggle ahead based on a summation and scientific synthesis of the positive and negative experiences and the achievements of twentieth-century communist revolutions and movements.
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