IS Tendency statement on the new war in the Middle East
Tuesday 7th October 2014
The United States, heading a “coalition of the willing” embracing NATO states and Arab regimes, has launched a new war in the Middle East. Barack Obama and other Western leaders assure us that it is quite different from George W Bush’s military adventure in the Middle East. The aim is simply to “degrade and ultimately to destroy” the group variously known as the Islamic State, ISIS, and ISIL. The media are full of reports of the atrocities committed by this group.
In fact the bombing offensive against ISIS is a continuation of Bush’s “war on terrorism”. ISIS emerged amid the chaos caused by the US invasion of Iraq. It has flourished thanks to the sectarian civil war waged by the regime of Bashar al-Assad to destroy the Syrian Revolution – a civil war that has been fed by Washington’s staunch allies in Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf states. And the corrupt and brutal sectarian regime of Nouri al-Maliki that the US supported to restabilise Iraq provoked growing discontent among the Sunni Muslim minority, which ISIS exploited to seize Fallujah and Mosul.
The justifications used for the campaign against ISIS – its “mediaeval” ideology and the brutality of its methods – were exactly those used about al-Qaeda to justify the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. And it’s true that ISIS’s ideology is reactionary and its methods abhorrent – in particular how it targets Shia Muslims and Christians and thereby sabotages the development of a united movement against the Western imperialist powers and their local allies.
But the US-led campaign will simply build support for ISIS, allowing the jihadis to present themselves as the real fighters against imperialism. The authors of the wars that devastated Afghanistan and Iraq can’t be trusted to defend those, like the Kurds of northern Syria, who are threatened by ISIS. This is not a “humanitarian war”, but a war to maintain the domination of Western capitalism over the Middle East and to prop up the reactionary political order that supports this domination.
There is an alternative to both sides in this war. In 2011 the Arab masses showed that they could mount popular revolutions against corrupt and brutal dictatorships – in Tunisia, Egypt, and Syria. Real change came from below, removing Ben Ali in Tunisia and Mubarak in Egypt, without the help of the US, which in fact supported both these tyrants. The counter-revolutions that sought to wipe away these risings have created the conditions in which reaction in many different forms – the US, Israel, the Assad regime, Saudi Arabia, ISIS – has been able to regain the initiative. But we are confident that new revolutionary upheavals will drive these forces back. In the meantime we pledge ourselves to mobilise against this new war, and all the disasters it will bring its wake.
The Coordination of the International Socialist Tendency
7 October 2014