(Biannual - February 2017)
Some Quick Observations on the Events in Berlin (ICT)
Isis has claimed responsibility for the attack in Berlin. The police are still searching for those responsible. But whatever they find, the scenario of war and terror that has existed for years now will continue to wreak havoc on a capitalist society facing a crisis of profitability and political identity.
“Redouble your efforts, the Crusaders have struck: Americans, Europeans, Turkish traitors, Russian Communists, Arab tyrants.”
This was the last message transmitted by Radio Mosul about two weeks before Aleppo fell into the hands of the Assad militias, following the onslaught of the Russian bombings. It was a sort of last, desperate ’call to arms’ to sleeper cells in the West to make the ultimate sacrifice for the Caliphate. The Isis spokesman also indicated the way the attacks should be organised, threatening: ’You will remember these words’, and so it was.
The first question is: Has Western imperialism treated Arab nationalism so badly that it has provoked such intense hatred? Yes. Not to go too far back, between 2003 and 2011 the US, Britain and France have battered Libya, Syria and Iraq. Under the pretext of exporting democracy they have attempted to undermine the old dictatorial equilibrium to impose their economic and energy agendas, displacing whole populations, promoting bloody civil wars, creating hundreds of thousands of deaths and millions of totally desperate refugees who are attempting to flee to find shelter in the countries that have been the cause of their despair.
The second is: How did ISIS arise and what does it represent in the Middle Eastern scenario? ISIS is a response to the American invasion of Iraq in 2003. It is the nationalist Sunni response to pro-Western Shiite governments. The same imperialism which inadvertently triggered the birth of ISIS then used, financed and armed it as part of the imperialist conflict in Syria (USA-Russia but not only them) and then walked off and turned against it when it came to be seen as an inappropriate instrument – politically cumbersome and strategically negative.
The third: Why are there so many attacks against the West right now, as with the killing of the Russian ambassador in Ankara, Berlin, Zurich and a few days ago in Jordan? The answer lies in the war. At the moment the Russian-Turkish-Iranian axis seems to have control of the situation against the US and its allies.
USA/Saudi Arabia & Company. (Do not be misled by the weirdness and contradictions of the two coalitions. Both are temporary, instrumental alliances and can change at any time, as they already have). Russia is fighting ISIS just to have an excuse to crush all opponents of its ally Assad; Turkey, after an endless series of U-turns is allying itself with Russia in order to restore the lucrative Turkish Stream pipeline project and to gain possession (control) of the Kurdish Syrian area on its south-eastern border. Iran is seizing the opportunity to exercise its religious influence in the area, in reality political and therefore economic/oil interests, which extend from the Iraq border to the shores of the Mediterranean by taking advantage of Shiite support in the shape of the Lebanese Hezbollah. All of them are against ISIS but each of them has their own particular interests which oblige them to get rid of any inconvenient obstacles that they may have helped to create. And we are in the end-game. Al Baghdadi’s project of creating the new Caliphate is shipwrecked: over this last year three-quarters of the conquered territories have been lost with only one stronghold city – Raqqa – remaining but which, however, is going to be recaptured. The terrorist incidents of recent days need to be seen within this framework.
In Jordan we have seen punishment doled out for the Hussein monarchy’s support of the pro-USA Coalition. In Zurich, provided the episode in question is confirmed as terrorism of Islamic origin, we have witnessed an attack on one of the centres of Western financial capital. The assassination of the Russian ambassador in Ankara sounds like the revenge of an isolated ’individual’, either Islamist and ’lone wolf’ or someone sent by Gulen (alleged organiser of July’s failed coup in Turkey), but these speculations are of little significance. The main point is that the places affected are the enemies of ISIS. Russia, in particular, is guilty of having bombed the jihadi opposition in Syria, and has conquered their Aleppo stronghold in support of the Shiite-backed Assad, the sworn enemy of al Baghdadi.
The Berlin atrocity may turn out to be yet another blow against a European nation belonging to the Western bloc which, although not at the forefront of the fight against jihadism, is part of the US Coalition “of the willing”. Berlin was also ’open’ to receiving refugees. In the mind set of the black Caliph’s followers, this is seen as aid to people who have run away from their responsibilities as good Muslims. They should have stayed and fought for the establishment of the Caliphate. In other words, these latest attacks are a response to the political and military defeat which ISIS is facing. They are art of a desperate attempt to make a mark on an international scale, in order to say to Sunni Muslims, ’we are still alive after all and can go on fighting’.
The fourth question concerns both the short-term and long-term prospects. What are the immediate consequences of these attacks? The probable answer is that there will be more of this kind of asymmetric warfare in the tragic wake of Berlin and elsewhere. As we reported at the beginning of the article, ISIS spokesman have indicated that they will strike with all means possible against their internal and external enemies so that they too fall into the hell that has been created. It doesn’t matter if civilians, are affected as long as ’the symbols of the Christian West, its way of life and the symbols of its decadence’ are hit. Such anathemas that leave civilians dead on the pavements are somehow supposed to ’compensate’ for the Arab casualties, also civilian and in vastly greater numbers, who have remained under the bombs and the rubble of Aleppo. But the anathemas that pile victim upon victim, like the anxious concern of the European people affected by the attacks, take no account of the fact that this clash is a totally inter-imperialist one between two politically opposed blocs, with different economic and strategic objectives, but where both have made war and carried out massacres (collateral damage!) with no holds barred.
It is the crisis of the capitalist system that is pulling the strings in this encounter. The devastating economic crisis continues to provoke terrible massacre of entire populations and innocent civilians, with or without the spectre of ISIS and its deadly backlash. And if that was not enough, it gives racists and reactionaries of the Right (but not just them) the chance to play their xenophobic cards in elections, deliberately confusing terrorism with the desperate migration of millions of the dispossessed, that they themselves have helped to create. While on the battlefields of Syria and Iraq – but we could add in Yemen, Libya and sub-Saharan Africa, just to stay within the close geo-political area – hundreds of thousands of workers, the dispossessed, are victims of Western imperialism and the victims of the ambitions of their respective ruling classes. Wage slaves in peacetime, cannon fodder in wartime, they are always subject to the interests of capital, its brutal laws, its explosive contradictions, under whatever management, private or state, secular or religious. These attacks are the perverse consequence of wars fought in other areas. The wars themselves are the poisoned fruit of the economic crisis. The crisis is the ’natural’ consequence of how wealth is produced and distributed within any single nation, across the world’s geo-economic areas. All this is the child of capitalism. The struggle against the latter is our starting point as we grope to regroup against a social disaster whose viciousness and ferocity offers no escape, other than war, imperialism, economic crisis, ’biblical’ migrations and terrorist attacks. All of them are destined to increase and expand in the time and political spaces that still remain.