11-10-2015 – When a refugee rights protest has a keynote speaker who expresses “no remorse” for the slaughter of 87 University students sitting an exam, you know something has gone terribly wrong. Unfortunately, such is the actuality of the “Stand Up for Refugees” action in Brisbane today. One of the speakers is one Rima Flihan, billed as a “Syrian human rights activist”. Far from it. Ms Flihan cares only about the human rights of NATO armed death squads which have been committing unspeakable atrocities across Syria for the last four years. The Syrian government has an outstanding warrant for her arrest, after collaborating with US and Saudi Arabian armed mercenaries attempting to overthrow the Syrian Arab Republic. Wanted criminals as “human rights activists” – you have got to be kidding.
The reasons why the Syrian government had little option but to seek the arrest of Ms Flihan became obvious when she gave an interview to a Lebanese television station in January 2013, soon after a mercenary terrorist attack on the University of Aleppo, in which 87 students sitting exams, were slaughtered. Ms Flihan stated that she felt “absolutely no remorse” for the students, as they were “supporters of the regime”. Since fleeing Syria in September 2011 to avoid facing criminal charges, Ms Flihan has paraded around the world as a “political activist”. Such “activism” in her case, means being a part of virtually every body which claims to be a legitimate opposition in Syria, from the “Local Coordinating Committees” (which included non-local expatriates!!), to the “Syrian Opposition Council” to the “National Council of the Syrian Revolution and Opposition Forces”. All of these bodies have now vanished, and some have now been absorbed into the “Free Syrian Army” which has in turn absorbed itself into ISIS.
At fault is not the Refugee Action Collective – the organisers of today’s rally – per se. The Refugee Action Collective contains many honest and ethical people who are doing what they can to protest against both the Australian government’s horrific abuse of refugees and asylum seekers as well as against the US led wars which have created waves of refugees worldwide. Yet the Refugee Action Collective has become beholden to what has become known as the “Imperial Left” – leftist parties who, despite claims to “socialism” and “Marxism”, have nonetheless been the biggest backers of the imperialist wars waged first on Libya, and then on Syria. The Imperial Left has the greatest amount of influence in the Refugee Action Collective, and similar respective bodies around Australia. Such parties include Socialist Alternative, Socialist Alliance and Solidarity. Buying into the fanciful claims of Libyan and Syrian “revolutions”, such parties have performed yeoman’s service for the very imperialist powers they claim to oppose. In fact, so far have the imperial left gone in providing “left” cover for US led wars, they now virtually omit any mention of imperialism, or even claim that US imperialism is not the main enemy!
Imperialism can be succinctly described as “the expansionist policy of finance capital”. That is, where finance capital dominates, it must expand into other countries (i.e. through war) in order to seek an adequate rate of profit after the home market has been exhausted. And, with the capitalist economies worldwide in a state of deep recession, especially in Europe, the US, Japan and Australia, unprovoked wars against independent nations – or even those deemed to be not totally compliant – become ever more part of daily operation. However, there is resistance. Syria today is a laboratory for the imperialist versus anti-imperialist global blocs which have emerged. On the one hand, imperialism is represented by the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany (despite some differences with the others) and their allies Saudi Arabia, Israel, Turkey and other Gulf Monarchies. The anti-imperialist bloc is represented by Russia, China, Iran, Syria and their allies such as Belarus, the DPRK, Cuba and Zimbabwe. The anti-imperialist bloc contains some socialist states – China, the DPRK, Cuba – and some capitalist states – Russia and Iran. However, without necessarily endorsing the politics of the respective leaderships, workers of the world have a stake in mobilising in temporary blocs with the anti-imperialist alliance where its actions coincide with the interests of working people. Currently, Russia’s assistance to Syria is objectively in the interests of preventing wider war, in the sense that they have checkmated US imperialism by calling their bluff and actually carrying out the demolition of ISIS, which the US and their allies falsely claimed the current “war on terror” was all about.
To permanently end the scourge of war, what is required is nothing less than the overthrow of capitalism and the triumph of socialism. In the meantime, what the refugee rights movement desperately needs is to break free from the “left” parties which have railroaded the movement in support of US led wars. The refugee rights movement needs new leadership, one which allies it with the interests of the working class domestically and internationally. This means advocating for the rights of refugees while simultaneously opposing, not backing, Washington and Canberra’s latest criminal wars. This may mean temporary blocs with those forces halting the advance of the NATO/Saudi/Israeli forces to gain a breathing space from which to prepare the organisation of the working class for its historic tasks. To truly be pro-refugee, we need to be anti-war.
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