Middle East

Thoughts on working-class internationalism

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David Broder

The left devotes much of its efforts to campaigning against imperialism, which is no surprise given the present foreign policy of the American and British governments. However, in order to effectively combat imperialism and war, it is necessary that we understand what ‘anti-imperialism’ means, who is anti-imperialist, and what relationship that has with working-class politics.

Some thoughts on what really constitutes "anti-imperialism", and why the AWL majority fails to take a consistently third-camp stance on the conflicts in the Middle East.

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Al-Qaeda and those who will come after

Cathy Nugent reviews Al-Qaeda: the true story of Radical Islam by Jason Burke (Penguin, £7.99)

Despite its tabloidesque sub-title, Burke’s book is an extremely lucid, balanced and useful account. It is especially useful because it brings together summaries of most of the events, myriad roots of, and religious and political background to the rise of Al-Qaeda and groups like it.

It would have been easy to write the “true” account, which sets out to scotch the myths of the bourgeois press about the war on terror. But this book is much more than that.

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Is the Lebanese opposition an alternative?

The following article, written by Lebanese socialist Ghassan Makarem, was published on Z-net before the latest (14 March) mass demonstrations in Beirut against Syrian troops, and against a government which is seen to be pro-Syrian. Under US/international pressure, which followed the assassination of former prime minister Rafic Hariri, Syria has begun troop withdrawal. Makarem argues that the opposition is very heterogeneous, and is dominated by reactionary elements, including the communal leaders of Lebanon’s Druze and Maronite Christian sects.

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Soldier refuses to serve

An Israeli soldier — Staff Sergeant Itzik Shabbat — has refused to comply with an emergency order (Tsav 8) to report today for reserve duty in Lebanon.

Shabbat said, “In my opinion, only this type of opposition that I've chosen will put an end to the madness that is going on now and will shatter the false feeling that the entire home front supports this unnecessary war that is based on deceptive considerations. Someone has to be the first to break the silence and it will be me. It is a shame that my order was signed by another Sderot resident, Defense Minister Amir Peretz.”

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The left that backs Hizbollah

By Ruben Lomas

“Only they who can keep their heart strong and their will as sharp as a sword when the general disillusionment is at its worst can be regarded as a fighter for the working class or called a revolutionary.”

Antonio Gramsci

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Who are Hizbollah?

By Clive Bradley

The Lebanese political system, from 1943 until its collapse in the 1970s, enshrined the religious divisions in the population. There was a Christian president, a Sunni Muslim prime minister (and a much weaker Shi’a Speaker of the House); parliamentary seats were allocated with six Christians to every five Muslims. The Shi’a Muslims were often poor, and this “confessional” system discriminated against them.

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Stop the slaughter!

The Israeli armed forces have inflicted a vast destruction on the infrastructure of Lebanese economic and social life. They have killed hundreds of civilians.

The difference between the deliberate slaughter of civilians, the trade-mark of all the clerical-fascist organisations, and “collateral” civilian casualties in a military operation is blurred by Israel’s recklessness and indifference to civilian casualties.

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Lebanon, past and present

For centuries Lebanon, like all the Arab world, was part of the Ottoman empire, governed from Constantinople. But like another mountainous area of that empire, Kurdistan, it kept itself a bit apart.

The Kurds were converted to Islam but not Arabised; the Maronite Christians of Lebanon’s mountains, originally Aramaic-speaking, were Arabised but not Islamised. From 1638, France, noting the strategic position of Lebanon’s port cities on the Mediterranean, proclaimed itself the protector of the Maronites.

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Middle East politics after the Lebanon war

By John O’Mahony

A. For socialists in Britain, what are the most important political issues in relation to the situation in the Middle East after the Israeli-Hizbullah war?

B. • To oppose any American-British attack on Iran.

• To give solidarity to the beleagured Iraqi workers’ movement, and those fighting for secularism and women’s rights in Iraq.

• To reject and oppose both Jewish and Arab chauvinist approaches to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

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