This AWTWNS news packet for the week of 19 January 2015 contains one article. It may be reproduced or used in any way, in whole or in part, as long as it is credited.
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Israel, the U.S. and Islamic fundamentalism
19 January 2015. A World to Win News Service. In the wake of the Charlie Hebdo killings in France, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a warning against “a wave of Islamization” sweeping Europe. But an Israeli air strike in Syria only a few days later provided a new and even more dangerous example of how Israel, far from a secular state itself, has deliberately aided Islamic fundamentalists for its own cynical and criminal ends.
On 18 January Israeli guided missiles targeted two vehicles travelling on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights. Among the half dozen or more people killed in this assassination, according to early reports, were the head of the Syrian operations of the Lebanese Shia organization Hezbollah and the top Iranian Revolutionary Guards commander in Syria.
The Israeli airstrike seems to have been meant to strike a hard blow at the Lebanese and Iranian forces playing a key role in the Syrian regime’s battle against the Islamist fundamentalist Jabhat al-Nusra that has been advancing in south-west Syria. The Golan Heights overlook Syria’s capital, Damascus, and al-Nusra’s campaign to seize control there could be a factor in tipping the scales in the currently stalemated Syrian civil war. It would be hard to argue that the Israeli attack had any foreseeable result and therefore aim other than supporting one reactionary side in that civil war, Sunni Islamists, against the reactionary Bashar al-Assad regime.
This is at least the fifth time Israel has launched strikes against the Syrian government since 2013 (Washington Post, 18 January), effectively helping the Islamists who long ago gobbled up almost all other opposition to Assad. In one of these incidents, Israel shot down a Syrian MiG that had been been supporting government forces on the battlefield. U.S. assent for these offensive actions became obvious when the Obama government decided to ignore a well-documented 7 December Israeli air attack on a Damascus international airport facility, allegedly a military warehouse, which certainly would have been denounced as terrorism and an act of war if anyone had similarly attacked Israel’s Ben Gurion airport.
Israel has provided direct support for al-Nusra on the ground. A June 2014 UN report drawn up by UN observers assigned to the Golan Heights describes, among other incidents, numerous Israeli attacks on Syrian government forces during periods of intense fighting between the Syrian army and “armed opposition forces” (in an area where al-Nusra has absorbed the other opposition groups and where the black Islamist flag flies over captured outposts from the Syrian army). UN observers reported seeing Israeli soldiers handing unidentified boxes to fighters on two occasions. On 59 occasions, they saw Israeli soldiers take a total of 89 wounded for medical treatment and then later return most of them to the front lines. (www.un.org.en/ge/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=S/2014/401)
This Israeli policy was reported in The New York Times (19 January), which said, “Israel has mostly turned a blind eye toward the Qaeda-affiliated insurgents battling the Syrian government near the border… Israeli hospitals have even treated United States-backed Syrian insurgents who have been allowed to cross the border, including from groups that have sometimes cooperated on the battlefield with those Qaeda-affiliated fighters.”
Only three days before the Israeli airstrike, Hassan Nasrallah, the head of the Shia Islamist Hezbollah, made two points in a television interview. One was a warning to Israel not to break the de facto cease-fire on the Lebanese and Syrian borders. Although Hezbollah has claimed legitimacy from Lebanese Shias and others as a representative of resistance to repeated Israeli aggression, including the 2006 Israeli invasion that killed more than a thousand Lebanese, mainly civilians, its main objective is its own religious rule and not freeing Palestine.
Nasrallah’s other point was to repeat earlier offers of a “political solution” to Syria’s civil war in which Assad would agree to step down. Israel’s political goal in supporting Islamists forces in Syria has been meant to prevent or delay an end to that civil war.
While Israel has its own interests, this aim is consistent with U.S. goals and actions in Syria until now. Although the U.S. may have had illusions about bringing a compliant regime to power a few years ago, it seems to have considered Syria’s destruction as the next best thing. Even the idea of an eventual “political settlement” being floated around now has been contingent on first weakening Assad, making sure that enough damage is done so that the U.S. can more fully dominate whatever future regime may emerge. The U.S. and Israel have actively worked to fuel the horrendous civil war with no regard for the hundreds of thousands of dead and the millions of refugees.
It is not true, as many people believe, that the rise of Islamic fundamentalism can be attributed chiefly to the conscious efforts and policies of the U.S. and Israel, its reliable Middle Eastern outpost. Although such a simplification has appeal for many Middle Eastern people and others cruelly confronted with both U.S. domination and Islamic fundamentalism, a little hard thinking makes it clear that the social and ideological factors driving the clash between Western (and chiefly U.S.) imperialism and Islamist reactionaries are beyond anyone’s control. But the U.S., acting on its own and often through the Israeli secret services, did a great deal to encourage the rise of Islamism when they thought it was in their interests, and they do not hesitate to do so now for the same reasons. (See The Devil’s Game, How the United States Unleashed Islamic Fundamentalism, by Robert Dreyfuss, Metropolitan Books, New York, 2005).
In fact, the main way the U.S. aids Islamism is by its brutal attempts to control the Middle East, including American backing for Zionist rule over Palestine, and presenting that as the only alternative to Islamic fundamentalism, thus echoing and giving aid and comfort to Islamism’s claims that it is the only alternative to Western and Zionist domination.
This latest Israeli attack illustrates what we all need to know: that any strengthening of either of these inhuman monsters, the Islamic fundamentalist forces or the U.S.-led forces, reinforces both sides in a dynamic that is extremely harmful for the people of the region (above all) and the world. That is what Israel is doing, with U.S. backing, and that is what it should be condemned for.
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