Monday, March 14, 2011

"Abbas, Haniya -- we want national unity!"

For political unity and a united struggle by Palestinians
3000 young Palestinians marched in Gaza  for Palestinian unity. "We are starting our sit-in now," said the organiser Ahmad Arar . Banners and placards were held up stating,"We won't go home until the end of the division."

Tent city in the middle of Gaza is underway a day before originally planned, with further demonstrations planned across the West Bank. Apparently Hamas Interior Ministry at the last minute refused a permit for the 15th, having given it to a Hamas organisation instead. So direct action preempted this undemocratic manouvre. Last time the youth tried to demonstrate, they were manhandled by Hamas security forces but not today.

"So we have started now because we don't want any other Palestinian faction to steal this event. We will sleep here because we don't want anyone else to take over the square," Rawah said. Hamas has now agreed that the rally will go ahead and not be obstructed. Yet only last week, 11 of the facebook organisers had been arrested by Hamas. Now Hamas has been made to recognise the reality on the ground, whether they will fully endorse the call for unity and no longer attack Fatah fighters we wait to see. Similarly will the PLO dominated PA do similar.

Whilst the Saudi tanks and army go into Bahrain to put down the democratic movement and reinforce the ancien regimes, Libyans and Palestinians continue to suffer . Yet remember this is good news for the UK Balance of Trade as we sold them most of the weapons being used against their own people. Oh what a lovely war as the corrupt rulers can laugh all the way to the bank!

Let us hope that the youth of Gaza, Ramallah, Cairo, Tunisia, Yemen, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia can further link up with those in Libya and throw the whole darn rotten lot out.

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The West, Gaddafi and the Uprisings

Gerry Vincent | March 14, 2011 at 10:20 pm | Categories: Libya | URL:

Roy Ratcliffe writes in Collective Resistance
In the wake of the Arab uprisings, the last thing the western governments of Europe and North America wanted throughout the middle east and North Africa, was a domino effect of people power. The reasons? A transfer of power, from dictatorships, to people’s democracies throughout the region, would undoubtedly result in higher prices for oil and other raw material resources as the citizens of the Arab peninsular and the Maghrib countries voted for increases in their own standards of living.  Any such increases achieved there would adversely effect the lives and prospects of the populations of Europe and North America, who are already beginning to reel under the impact of cuts and increases, due in turn to the financial melt-down. Further price increases for the bulk of the white and blue-collar working people in these ‘advanced’ countries, would probably provoke them into more persistent activism than just the usual petitions and regularly ‘kettled’ demonstrations in capital cities. Severe unrest in the heartlands of the Anglo-Saxon capitalist firm of America and UK, together with Europe, would seriously threaten the continued domination of the present form of economic and financial rule by the owners and representatives of this form of social wealth. They definitely do not want that. The economic, financial and political elites in these countries clearly understand their system is vastly unfair and morally repugnant and can only be kept in place by keeping enough of the population above a minimum welfare-line to ensure their relative quiescence. Therefore their strategy in relationship to the current middle east and North African uprisings, is to do as little possible to assist the medium or long-term welfare of the ordinary people who live there. - other than mouth some platitudes.
Accordingly, European and North American diplomacy, although caught off-guard by the speed and direction of the Arab revolt, is not entirely without direction. The wait and see game they played (and continue to play) in Tunisia and Egypt revealed no serious attachment to their rhetoric of being in favour of democracy. This policy is also revealed in their silence with regard to the brutal reactions to uprisings in Bahrain and Saudi.  In the short-term, western elite positions are calculated to neither materially aid popular uprisings nor to publicly support the unpopular dictatorships. The example of one country overcoming the regimes and providing a confidence boosting ‘good example’ to the others is not something they wish to see or assist in achieving. In the medium and longer-term, their policy will be to explore every overt and covert avenue, to return forms of government in these countries, which preserves, relatively low costs and easy access to their markets. This policy will be continued, even if this means encouraging (‘behind the scenes’ of course) the re-emergence of new forms of dictatorship. So the media-alleged apparent confusion of the western liberal-democratic regimes over what to do in Libya should be viewed as something of a convenient smokescreen.  Had they really been eager to support the popular uprisings, they could easily neutralise the weapons of the dictators and their ‘loyal’ troops, without the need to invade airspace and without involving ground troops. Supplying the rebels with modern, lightweight, powerful weapons, to trump the second-rate but presently superior weapons of Gaddafi supporters, would also ensure at least a fighting chance, if not a complete victory, for the democratic forces. 
The US is no stranger to such a strategy. It was the one they implemented in Afghanistan, in supporting opposition to the then Soviet-backed regime and they have done it elsewhere. Further forms of support such as providing communication facilities and ’jamming’ those of the dictators, along with supplying food and medical supplies would also not require invading - something the ordinary citizens of these countries definitely do not want. The reason they have not given these kinds of support in the Arab countries is fear of the consequences. They know, from the experience of Afghanistan, such supportive gestures would not be sufficient to ensure that if these uprisings became revolutions and overthrew the previous regimes, a cosy relationship would not be an automatic outcome. Any large distribution of the latest light-weight anti-aircraft weapons and other portable ordinance in Libya, for example, may later be used to defend themselves against the US, European and Zionist interests. Indeed, it is probably the case that the economic, financial and political elites of North America and Europe will never be trusted in the life-times of the majority these so recently oppressed and exploited peoples of the middle east and North Africa. The list is far too long. US led conduct in arming and supporting the Arab dictators, their conduct in Afghanistan and Iraq, their support for the Israeli genocide in Palestine and much, much else, will ensure that victorious outcomes for the ordinary citizens of these countries of the east will not be as deferential or favourable to the governing elites of the west as they would like.
The stubborn resistance of the Gaddafi) regime and its fight-back, has therefore thrown them something of a short-term life-line. If Gaddafi, forces, using the weapons and resources supplied by North America and Europe, manage to stalemate or even overcome the democratic uprising in Libya, this could, (they undoubtedly hope), have the effect of halting or even reversing the steady unravelling of US and European puppet regimes in this region. The spectre of a protracted and bloody civil war in Libya with thousands of deaths, could have the effect of weakening the resolve of the democratic forces elsewhere around the region.  At the same time this possibility might also strengthen the resolve of reactionary forces, now partly suppressed in Tunisia and Egypt, for example. In this way the Gaddafi regime may yet continue to serve the interests of the elite in North America and Europe in the war against ‘terror’. A war which was always a war of ‘state terror’ against helpless citizens as is daily  revealed in Libya. By not materially supporting the opposition forces in an appropriate way the elites of Europe and the US also continue to serve the interests of the Gaddafi regime in its war of terror against the people of Libya. Even the imposition of a no-fly zone, if one is eventually imposed, may assist Gaddafi and other dictators, as it will play into his (and their) anti-imperialist rhetoric, perhaps weakening the unity of the opposition forces. Additionally, western politicians such as UK’s William Hague are obviously looking ahead to the failure of the democratic forces in Libya, by intimating that a future Libya under Gaddafi would be “considered a pariah state“. Well no real change there then! Just a return to a previous condition. With such an outcome, the Gaddafi regime will still need to sell oil and the oil-dependent west will still need to buy it. And so in such a scenario perhaps a retreat on regime arrest and sending them to the International Criminal Court.
The only force which can prevent such machinations and prevail in the present struggle against oppression and exploitation in the middle-east and elsewhere, is that of the combined efforts of the blue and white-collar working class and their reliable supporters among the middle-classes. Their unity and tenacity is required for what amounts to a renewed but protracted 21st century struggle, for human rights and better conditions. In this struggle, there will be reversals and set-backs as well as advances, but at each stage the maximum unity needs to be maintained, together with a clear understanding of the nature of the global economic, social and political period in which they and we live. All attempts at instigating sectarian divisions (political or religious) within the ranks of the popular resistance will need to be opposed, for these are the means reactionary forces will utilise in order to divide the movement and defeat it. Sectarian or dogmatic positions will also need to be opposed where they emerge from within the movement for these essentially and effectively serve the same purposes. From past experience, where differences occur over tactical questions they should be resolved by practical testing and evaluation rather than polarised and debilitating polemical debate followed by acrimonious splits. These 21st century uprisings in the middle east and North Africa, also deserve careful unprejudiced comprehensive study and unbiased evaluation, so that any applicable lessons can be learned and shared by those in other countries facing their own struggles against global oppression and exploitation. Real effective solidarity is also about sharing information as well as resources and dutifully holding up protest banners.
In general, and for some time now, it seems to me, there has been an urgent need for the development of a movement of ’free radicals everywhere’. Radicals who are free in many senses of the word. Free from some negative things and free for some positive things. For example: Free from dogma, free from operating with abstractions, free from unshakeable beliefs, free from arrogance, free from elitist pretensions and free from the habit of nurturing sectarian divisions; a movement which is, at the same time, determined to remain united in support of the struggle by humanity against the rule of all forms of greed, power and wealth - including the present form under the domination of capital. Put more positively, it is a need for a movement of international radicals who are also free and willing to comradely discuss and exchange ideas along with good practices, whilst recognising openly their mistakes and the social rather than the individual nature of knowledge and understanding. In short, a movement of radicals who insist in joining revolutionary people rather than insisting that revolutionary people join them. To paraphrase Marx: ’Radicals of the world unite; we have nothing to lose except our sectarian chains’.

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