“Why would you allow criminals to be present here?
They are responsible for our situation now…
It is they who turned our country into the centre of national and international wars”
— Malalai Joya, former member of Afghan Parliament
Recently, commentators on the Left in Brisbane have been trying to grapple with what is going on in Syria in particular and in the region generally.
Oil prices are rising as a direct result of Western economic sanctions placed on Iran.
This is a problem for the West.
If oil prices continue to go up, the financial crisis in Europe will deepen i.e. for the West to place economic sanctions on Iran is a dangerous game. Not solely because it may force Iran to close the Straits of Homuz.
We have witnessed that recent events in Syria have polarized the political situation into two camps — US, Europe, Saudi, Qatar on one side and China, Russia, Syria and Iran on the other.
Broadly speaking, one camp supports state capitalism, the other state socialism.
Sections of the Left in Brisbane argue that the uprising in Syria is part of the Arab Spring and should be supported by progressive groups.
So which side is the Left on, if on any side? I am reminded of a section of Left in Brisbane giving support to the fundamentalist revolution in Iran in 1979.
I recall a discussion at a film showing at the Universoty of Qld’s Schonell theatre in 1979 — someone argued the Left should side with the Ayatollah in order to defeat the Shah of Iran.
This was supposed to bring US imperialism into check in the region. I also remember an Iranian man in the sudience rebuke this position at the discussion after the film. He was wary of the fundamentalists and the damage they would do in Iran and elsewhere.
The rest is history, the Iranian people were savagely repressed by successive fundamentalist governments in Iran.
The immediate question is “How will the lack of oil and rising prices be resolved?’ Neither Libya nor Venezuela have provided a solution. Chavez has come out in support of Assad in Syria. After a long and bloody struggle, US imperialism is on the run in Latin America but not so in the Middle East. Gas exploration and exploitation in Africa, the US and Australia has failed to quench the thirst for oil. So prices will continue to rise and place pressure on the oil dependent economies of Europe and US.
Will the conflict in Syria spread and bring about civil war in neighbouring countries, resulting in untold suffering?
One perspective on the conflict lines up against the Syrian government with remarks like “the demonstrations and protests in Syria were not manufactured by the West but are legitimate peoples protests against a dictatorial regime, and hence a legitimate part of the Arab spring.” and “Look at the Syrian regimes record. In 1976 they intervened into the Lebanese Civil war on the side of the Israeli backed Christian Maronite government, against the Lebanese left and the PLO. In 1991, Syrian troops were part of the US lead attack on Iraq.”
Others are more defensive of the Syrian government with “Syria has been the sole nation to support the Palestinian cause” and “Hamas has it´s roots in the Muslim Brotherhood, and was established by well connected Muslim Brothers Families. From this perspective it is not entirely surprising that Hamas is now aligning itself with the Muslim Brother Sunnis from Qatar, Turkey and Saudi Arabia, who together with NATO´s Al Qaeda (Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, Tripoli Military Counsel, & Free Syrian Army) are aligned against the government and people of Syria.”
The former demonstrates idealism; the latter, an understanding of the geopolitics of the region.
The following article gives a good account of the dilemma facing the Left.
“The dilemma that this component of the Left faces in Syria is rooted in a more fundamental failure to read the Arab Spring in general – for if they denounced the Green Movement because the US had allocated some millions of dollars for “regime change” in Iran, that sum was peanuts compared with the money that the US had invested in the Egyptian army, and that the Saudis had in ensuring the Islamists had the upper hand in post-Mubarak Egyptian elections. So what to do with the Egyptian revolution? Dismiss the whole thing just because the US and the Saudis were trying to control its outcome?”
Greater discussion and a better understanding of these important issues is needed on the Left here and elsewhere. Perhaps a political forum should be convened to address these issues? What do you think?
28 February 2012