Erratum: Sharon, Sabra and Shatila

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In our article, "The proletariat confronts a dramatic deepening of all capitalism's contradictions" published in the International Review n°115, an error was made in stating that Sharon, described as the "butcher of Sabra and Shatila" "was responsible for a particularly barbaric Israeli punitive operation in two refugee camps in west Beirut, in September 1982, when thousands men, women and children were massacred." In fact, contrary to what we wrote, Sharon, who was the Israeli minister of defence at the time, did not take part in the bloody incursion in the Palestinian camps, nor did he lead them directly. It was the militias of the "Lebanese forces", with the authorisation of the Israeli troops, who did the dirty work.

This correction is clearly not intended to rehabilitate in the slightest the bloodstained Sharon, who is the direct architect and implementer of Israel's current policy "(?) based exclusively on trying to escalate the confrontation with the Palestinians in order to chase them out of the occupied territories" (ibid). Apart from our general concern to illustrate our analyses by reporting the facts as accurately as possible, it aims to remove any imprecision in our article which may have given the impression that Israel has always been the independent author of its terror policy in the Middle East, during the 1980s in particular.

The present policy of Sharon, as we show in our article in the International Review n°115, is increasingly escaping the control of the United States, often at the expense of US interests in the region; this demonstrates how difficult the foremost world power is finding it to make its turbulent ally toe the line. This was not the case prior to the dissolution of the Western bloc at the beginning of the 1990s, after the collapse of the Berlin wall. In this context, the orders for the massacre at Sabra and Shatila were not given by Sharon or by any other part of the Israeli state; they were part of the United States' plan of action, defined and directed by the US with the aim of taking a dominant position in Lebanon.

In fact, the situation up until 1958, in which Lebanon was controlled by pro-Western governments, was altered by the development of the Russian imperialist bloc's influence in the region, through the mediation of Nasser's Egypt in particular. Lebanon began to distance itself from the United States even before it was torn apart by the civil war that erupted in 1969, between pro-western and pro-Russian factions and groups, the latter being composed in large part of Palestinian and Syrian forces. Using the excuse of the attack against one of its London-based diplomats (for which the PLO has always denied responsibility), Israel invaded Lebanon on 5th June 1982 in order to eliminate the Palestinian and Syrian military presence. The military forces of the UNIFL (United Nations Interim Force for Lebanon, created after the Israeli invasion of 1978), which were present in Lebanon unconcernedly allowed Israeli troops to pass through their positions. Syria and the Palestinian resistance suffered a serious military defeat, leading to the conclusion of an agreement that forced the Syrian forces out of Beirut and back to the Bekaa valley, and the complete evacuation from Lebanon of the Palestinian fighters (towards the other Arab countries) under the "protection" of a multinational intervention force (composed of French, American and Italian units) sent there specifically for this mission. The evacuation was finished on 2nd September.

The original plan was for the multinational intervention force to remain until 21st September but the Americans gave the signal to leave on 11th September. From that moment on events escalated: the assassination on 14th September, before he could take up office, of the recently elected Lebanese President Bachir Gemayal (head of the Lebanese forces - the United Christian Militias), gave Israeli troops the excuse to enter west Beirut in order to "cleanse" that part of the city of the two thousand Palestinians who were staying there. The massacre in the Sabra and Shatila camps, carried out by the Christian phalangists under the benevolent eye of the Israeli army, was part of this cleaning-up operation. The stir caused at an international level by this barbaric act served as a pretext for the multinational force's return to Lebanon, on 24th September, clearly in the service of Western interests. The subsequent deployment of American troops to the region (in particular the battleship "New Jersey" firing the largest cannon in the world) "to support the mission" of the multinational force, enabled them to inflict a serious reversal on Syria, which was obliged to retreat behind its own frontier. At this point the Western bloc's control of Lebanon was complete.

Editorial board

Footnote