11-09-2015 – Images of refugees perishing on the shores of Europe while attempting to flee for their lives are flooding the globe currently. In response to the image of a drowned boy on the beach inciting outrage internationally, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s only response was “this is why we need to stop the boats.” Callous indifference to human suffering, and/or using the deaths of asylum seekers for political gain has unfortunately come to be the norm in the Australian body politic, at least on behalf of the major parties.
Yet this latest refugee exodus out of the Middle East and Africa and into Europe has clear and definable causes. Innocent human beings are fleeing from the endless wars being waged by the US and their allies, particularly the war on Libya in 2011, and the ongoing war on Syria, from 2011 to the present. These wars are not fought by conventional means, in terms of powerful countries sending in uniformed troops to invade and overthrow sovereign governments, as in the example of Iraq in 2003. These wars are essentially outsourced to barbaric mercenaries by the US and their allies. In the same manner in which the pro-socialist Afghanistan government in the 1980s was besieged by ultra-reactionary Mujahideen fighters armed and funded by the US government as part of its war against the Soviet Union, ultra-reactionary jihadists were and are funded and armed by the West in a brutal campaign for “regime change” in Libya and Syria. In Libya, Western backed Al-Qaeda terrorists were unable to overthrow the former Libyan government led by Colonel Muammar Gaddafi. NATO stepped in and bombed the Libyan state out of existence, and Gaddafi himself was lynched. With no state and government existing, Libya has become a death zone, with warring jihadists fighting each other in a dystopian Mad Max scenario. Previously, Libya had provided its citizens with the highest standard of living in Africa.
At the same time, the US was arming and funding the same jihadists in an effort to overthrow the sovereign Syrian Arab Republic. For four and a half years, the heroic Syrian people have resisted this lawless invasion by psychotic Western armed barbarians, who carry out unspeakable atrocities without a second thought. US allies Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Qatar and Jordan all play a huge role in funding, arming, training and transporting these mercenaries into Syria, while Israel occasionally bombs Syria while treating wounded jihadists for free in their hospitals. More than 80% of these mercenaries are not Syrian, and have never previously been to Syria. Yet the Western corporate media narrative is that Syria is undergoing a “civil war”. This is preposterous. If Australia was beset by foreign mercenaries who embarked on an armed uprising, while beheading and torturing those who did not follow them, we would scarcely use the term “civil war”. The war on Syria is plainly a war for regime change, led by the US, but egged on by the Australian government.
The horror of war is what many Africans, Syrians and others are fleeing. This war would finish in a few months IF the US and its allies cut off the arms flowing to the jihadists. The Syrian Arab Army would have little trouble in rounding up even several thousand mercenaries IF they did not receive constant material aid from the US, Turkey and Saudi Arabia especially. The Western powers, including the Australian government, are playing a double game. While feigning concern about “ISIS” – PM Abbott even comparing them to Nazis – the US and its allies arm, and to an extent, control this latest bogey man. There are videos on YouTube of US and British warplanes dropping supplies in ISIS held areas in Iraq and Syria. There are stories of British soldiers fighting with ISIS while wearing black balaclavas. This couldn’t be made up but it is true enough. A scant effort at research will produce evidence.
Unfortunately, the anti-war movement in Australia, while it exists, is restricted to a few brave souls and groups such as Hands Off Syria. Large sections of the left and political bodies who can usually be relied on to oppose US imperialism, have swallowed fantastic claims about a mythical Libyan or Syrian “revolution”. A social revolution, for one thing, must have overwhelming popular support. This has never been the case in either Libya or Syria. In fact, in June last year, Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad was re-elected, in the midst of war, with 88.7% of the vote! What is occurring in Syria is a classic “dirty war”, where death squads are armed and given a green light to do their worst in the service of their benefactors. The Latin Americans know from personal experience what a dirty war is all about. They have suffered this ignominy for decades at the hands of the US government. This is why the Cuban, Venezuelan and Bolivian governments, to name a few, staunchly defend Syria against the US Empire.
Working people in Australia, who are generally politically progressive, can be forgiven for not identifying the character of the last two major imperialist wars. However, left political parties who espouse their beliefs in socialism should know a lot better. Chief among these is Socialist Alternative (SAlt), Socialist Alliance (SA) and Solidarity (Sol). It should be noted that the Communist Party of Australia (CPA) backed the war on Libya, but appears to have corrected its error with regard to Syria. SAlt, SA and Sol have certainly not recognised their error on Libya, and have in fact deepened the error in the case of Syria. What this has meant in practice is that they have effectively maintained a pro-war, anti-refugee position for the last four and a half years. Now, with perished refugees washing up on the shores of Europe, these left parties are again, perhaps unwittingly, doing the bidding of the imperialist powers they claim to oppose. Western government leaders, from Germany’s Angela Merkel to Australia’s Tony Abbott (backed by the ALP, the Greens and GetUp!), are now saying they will accept Syrian refugees. This justifies their agenda of regime change in Syria. If we should give shelter to Syrian refugees, surely we should finish the job by bombing Syria back to the stone age? Moreover, as Syrians flee for their lives to safety, Syria itself is drained of its populace, lessening its defences, which prepares the victory of the genocidal ISIS, Al-Qaeda, Al-Nusra, Ahrar Al-Sham, the “Free Syrian Army” and the like – who are in effect outsourced US government contractors. Alas, the influence of mistaken left parties over bodies such as the Refugee Action Collective, has led to large sections of the refugee rights movement effectively backing, rather than opposing, US led wars. And these are the very wars which have created the catastrophic situation refugees now face.
Working people and their supporters should of course welcome refugees to Australia, Syrians included. However, to call for the welcoming of Syrian refugees, without at the same time launching a vigorous defence of the right of the Syrian government not to be overthrown by Western employed mercenaries, is to side with world imperialism against the working and oppressed people of the world. We also have a duty to call for the Australian troops, and Australian military hardware, to be immediately withdrawn from Iraq and Syria. We need to take this demand not only amongst the people, but crucially into the Unions. Workers’ opposition is what has more power than any moral force – just look at the anti-war movement in 2003. It mobilised the largest number of people in history and yet was unable to raise a serious challenge to the warmongers. Working people have a right to a world without war. Unfortunately, the dire economic crisis afflicting the capitalist economies worldwide is driving us to the edge. What is required is the mobilisation of workers in their own interests by opposing capitalism’s drive to war, the victimisation of refugees and for a world worth living in.
AUSTRALIAN TROOPS OUT NOW! VICTORY TO SYRIA!
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