Only the working class can end Middle East chaos

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In the context of the acceleration of political chaos and war around the world following the September 11th events, the Middle East is once again threatening to go up in flames. After being overshadowed for some time by conflicts in others parts of the world --Bosnia, Yugoslavia, Chechnya, Afghanistan -- this region is reclaiming its status as an imperialist powder keg. In a situation that changes daily, the bourgeois media is packed with a dazzling amount of information on and "analyses" of the region. For a start, the US bourgeoisie has made clear its intention to once again unleash a military intervention against Iraq. At the same time the chronic Israel/Palestine conflict has reached the level of an all out open war. There is not day passed without a new act of barbarism being committed by either the Israel State or its Palestinian rivals. The death toll on both sides has already reached the thousands, Palestine's economic infrastructure is in shambles, and Israel's is not much better. Both populations live in constant fear; the misery, the suffering, the desperation is reaching nightmarish levels.

As usual, the bourgeoisie, both left and right, all over the world exhort the working class to choose sides in this conflict, to either support Palestine's "freedom fighter" terrorists or Israel's Zionist defenders of the Jewish State. Anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim feelings are being stirred up all over the world. Pro-Palestine or pro-Israel demonstrations are organized in many countries. In the face of this campaign to push workers to choose between the capitalist cliques who are fighting in the Middle East, the working class cannot permit itself to be drawn into this nationalist war fever. The only way that workers -particularly in the industrialized countries where the main battalions of the working class are concentrated- can support their Palestinian and Israeli class brothers is by developing their class struggle in their own terrain. The working class has no country, no nationality or religion to defend. Against the present drive to war by world capitalism workers need to oppose their own international struggles for the abolition of wage slavery and all national frontiers. The creation of a Palestinian state or the defense of a Jewish state is not the task of the working class movement.

The Western democracies would like us to believe that they have nothing to do with the Palestine/Israel war. They present themselves as peace loving nations in the midst of barbarians stirring up chaos in an increasing unstable world. In the US, the Bush administration portrays itself as a concerned and fair "peace broker," while in fact it has provided political cover to Israel's scaled-up war against its Palestinian rivals. The latest Israel's military offensive in the West Bank aimed at weakening the Palestinian's militia groups could not have taken place without the "green light" of the American government. Despite the leverage that the Israel's bourgeoisie has with the US, as its most trustworthy ally in the region, it can't afford to go against American global imperialist interest. There is not secret that Israel could not have survived as a nation state without the economic, military and political support of the US for the past half century. Thus the US present support of the policies of Israel has nothing to do with a Bush government being somehow teledirected by the Jews, as some conspiratorial theories with an anti-Semitic flavor maintain, but it is mainly determined by the American bourgeoisie immediate political objectives in the region.

The US, paradoxically, needs this war to give a new lease on life to the "pax Americana" in the region, so that it can get underway its war against Iraq in the best possible conditions. The apparently contradictory policy of the Bush administration comes from this situation. It is impossible for the US to go into another war against Saddam Hussein with the Palestinian/Israel conflict at the level reached in the last months. The acquiescence of the US Arabs allies in the region to the US policies depends in great part on the US ability to reign on Israel expansionist policies. The 1990's "peace process" launched by the US in the wake of the Gulf war was supposed to create a balance of power in which Israel would resolve its outstanding rivalries with its Arabs neighbors. The resolution of the Palestinian question was in this context high on the agenda. This is why Arafat's PLO was given the task to police the Palestinian territories with the promise of the eventual formation of a national state. However this "pax Americana" particularly in relation to the Palestinian question has in the end come to a total failure. The Israel/Palestinian conflict has reached levels in the last year-and-a-half not seen since the 80's, jeopardizing the policies of the US in the region. Arafat's PLO - when it is not itself participating in the military activities against Israel -had proven unable to reign in the Islamic extremist terrorist groups. In fact, a group like Hamas is more popular among the Palestinian population than the famously corrupt, gangsters turned policemen of the "Palestinian Authority." This is why the Bush administration has no choice, despite the danger that its policy would alienate its Arabs allies, but to give Israel the green light to crush militarily the terrorist groups.

It almost seems ironic that as far as the Palestinian bourgeois cliques are concerned, the main beneficiary of the Israel latest military campaign is Mr. Arafat, Mr. Sharon's declared "hated enemy." After being humiliated and virtually held prisoner by Israel during the last 4 months, Arafat has gained a new political lease on life. Of course it is very likely that this has been Israel intention all along.

As far as the European powers are concerned, they also have their share of responsibility in the present mayhem in the Middle East. They of course do not have the imperialist stature to challenge directly the US hegemony in the region as Russia did during the so-called cold war period. However this has not prevented them from trying hard during the last few years to set foot in this strategically important area of the world. Thus their vociferous condemnation of Israel's latest military campaign betrays their past efforts to sabotage the "pax Americana" in the region. Furthermore they know that behind Israel's offensive, there is the American bourgeoisie preparation of a new and more devastating war in the Middle East that will weaken even more their imperialist standing in the region.

Once again the Palestinian question has no solution within the framework of capitalism. Palestinian state or no Palestinian state, the misery, exploitation and oppression of the Palestinian masses will continue unchanged. Once again it's only the world working class that can provide a way out of the increasing spiral of barbarism that is sweeping the world.

ES, 24/5/02.