US/EU/AUST: Hands Off Venezuela!

Flag of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela

US/EU/AUST: Hands Off Venezuela!
For Workers’ Power in Latin America

23-02-2019 – Self-declared “President” of Venezuela, the right-wing Juan Guaido, has called on the actual President Nicolas Maduro to step down – or else. Or else what? The Venezuelan military remains on the side of the Venezuelan government, and the governments of Russia and China – the only powers with the material ability to counter US imperialism – have recognised Maduro as President, and have denounced what amounts to a brazen attempt at violent regime change. Juan Guaido at this stage appears to have little chance of his coup – more or less obviously in collaboration with Washington – doing anything but floundering.

Unfortunately, there are ways in which this barely concealed US led (yet another) Latin American coup can “succeed”. Juan Guaido has set a deadline of February 23 for the Maduro government to allow “humanitarian” aid into the country.[1] The arrival and stockpiling of aid packages on the Colombian border with Venezuela is a re-hash of a trick used many times by the US ruling class when attempting regime change in Latin America. Deliver the aid, entice people to collect it, and use the cover of “aid” for a stock standard invasion. This time, Juan Guaido is calling for one million of his right-wing supporters to act as chaperones for the aid,[2] who will likely act as human shields guarding the entry of US or Colombian troops. Even those with little political awareness can see the trap being laid.

Tripwire for World War III

Working people the world over must be aware that we can ill afford to allow the Venezuelan government to be overthrown by US imperialism, with its backing from the European Union (EU) and lackey medium sized imperialists such as Australia. Whatever its shortcomings, the “Bolivarian Revolution” in Venezuela over 20 years has built a form of resistance to the onslaught of Western led “globalisation”. Even though the forces of Western capital give scant regard to the sovereignty of a nation which retains a shred of independence, it is vital that this principle be defended by workers. What is more, if the US Empire is not staved off at this point, it could set off a wider war across the Americas, setting the scene for what many believed was impossible 20 years ago – World War III.

Workers must not be cowed, however. Out of crisis emerges great opportunity. And whatever military power the Venezuelan right-wing opposition can count on, it cannot be won with arms alone. A political struggle must ensue, and it is one in which Venezuelan and international workers must prevail.

US President Donald Trump in his recent State of the Union address won stormy applause from Republicans and Democrats when he claimed that “America will never be a socialist country”. With the US working class in desperation, enduring economic hardships seemingly without end, Mr Trump and the housebroken Democrats should not be so confident. All the prerequisites for a socialist revolution in the US are there – but what is missing is genuine leadership of US workers. Arguably the foremost working class leader in world history – V.I. Lenin – understood more than most that the working class will not struggle to overthrow capitalism except under the leadership of revolutionary Marxists. This applies not only to the US, but also in the EU and Australia – and it is also the case in Venezuela.

Chavismo has run its course

No matter how many times the US ruling class, and the right-wing Venezuelan opposition it collaborates with, decry “socialism” in Venezuela; the reality is that the first steps towards it have not been taken. “Chavismo” – the movement named after Hugo Chavez when elected in 1998 – was always a political project which explicitly rejected the key lessons of 20th century socialism. That is, it rejected the need for a Marxist vanguard party to lead the workers in a struggle for state power. From the distortions of Marxism which conservative and bureaucratic leadership of the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe brought about, the Chavistas drew the wrong conclusion that, therefore, the need for “the dictatorship of the proletariat” – a workers’ republic representing the working class in power – is obsolete. But today reality is starkly demonstrating that what is obsolete is Chavismo itself, or “Socialism of the 21st Century”. This was always a liberal vulgarisation of socialism, and an overt break with the first tenets of Marxism.

Chavismo under Chavez, or now under Maduro, was never about confrontation, let alone a contest, with Venezuelan capitalists. It was always an attempt to placate and pacify them. Maduro has bent over backwards to keep on reasonable terms with the Venezuelan capitalists, and by extension, with US imperialism itself. One result of this was leaving the banks in the hands of their private owners, and hence an inability to control hyperinflation – now likely to be running at 1 000 000 %.[3]  Needless to say, this drives up prices, especially of vital goods like food, fuel and medicine, to a level which is unaffordable for most Venezuelans. There are many examples of Venezuelan businesses hoarding goods to make them scarce, which pushes up prices. This can then be blamed on the government. In 2017, President Maduro accused bakeries of refusing to make bread, hoarding the flour to make more profitable brownies and cookies.[4] The absence of bread hits the poor – the base of support for Maduro – the hardest.

Steve Ellner claims that the economic problems in Venezuela have a three-fold source.[5] Firstly, the nosediving oil prices, which have declined precipitously since 2014. Secondly, the impact of US sanctions on Venezuela – which have even included sanctions on Cilia Flores, the wife of President Maduro. And thirdly, the mistaken policies of the Maduro government. Venezuela has the world’s largest proven oil reserves, and the oil prices never sank before 2014. US sanctions also inevitably take their toll. But it is not simply a case of the “mistaken policies” of the Maduro government. The whole approach and framework of the false theory of “Socialism of the 21st Century” is at fault. Capitalism cannot be reformed, even with the majority of electoral support, expressed many times over 20 years.

Unity of the “people” ?

So called “Socialism of the 21st Century”, as practiced by Chavez and the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), is at best left-leaning social-democracy. It has never made a political break with capitalism, and hence its impending downfall – perhaps at the hands of the invading US Empire. It is not possible to “unite the people” in Venezuela, or in the US, or Australia, or any country where capitalism rules. Capitalism means the division of society into the two great classes involved in production – capital and labour. For labour to release itself from under the heel of capital, and thus liberate all of society, the working class must take power in its own name. This cannot be done in the name of Chavismo, or Bolivarianism, or “the people” – for all of these attempt to “unite” classes with irreconcilable interests. Socialism is above all the working class in power, and this can only be achieved by splitting, not uniting, with the middle and upper classes, and especially the ruling class.

Yet this is not the strategy of the PSUV in Venezuela, and nor can it be. Their approach is to mobilise their own supporters, while at the same time cutting deals and making concessions to the political right-wing and the Venezuelan capitalists. The political intent is that of a united front with the capitalist class. Not only is the bourgeoisie entirely uninterested in such an alliance, these attempts further confuse and disorient the working class, and drive them away from the most essential first step – a political break with private capital and the reformist illusions of the PSUV. A political unification with the ruling class is always a recipe for stagnation and demoralisation, as workers wait interminably for signs of things improving.

If “unity” of all people in Venezuela is a mistaken strategy, it is doubly so internationally, including here in Australia. The Socialist Alliance (SA) has largely organised political solidarity with the Venezuelan Bolivarian process for years. It is again doing so, but again with the politics of “unity”, and this time including unity with the Labor Party. In its newspaper Green Left Weekly, SA call for the Australian Labor Party (ALP) to oppose the US led coup in Venezuela. They write: “The Labor leadership must reverse its decision to recognise Juan Guaido. It must also demand the coalition government pressure the US to lift its sanctions on Venezuela and rule out any military intervention.”[6]

Here the strategy is one where SA seeks to improve the policy of the ALP, so it can work together with the ALP, supposedly against an imperialist war. Yet the ALP represents one wing of the Australian ruling class – the same ruling class represented by PM Morrison and the Liberal Party. By extension, it seeks to lead the Venezuelan solidarity movement into a united front with the very ruling class which has loyally served the US ruling class in war since Korea in the 1950s. Working people can only lose through being politically subordinated, once again, to the major political parties and thus to Australian imperialism.

The Communist Party of Australia (CPA), alongside SA, retails the line of the reformist government of Venezuela, in calling for a “peaceful political solution to the crisis based on the principles of self-determination and non-interference in the affairs of a sovereign nation.”[7] In other words, the CPA calls for “dialogue” and “negotiations”, when the actions of US imperialism have clearly indicated that it will only accept the abolition of the Venezuelan government. Workers can hardly be empowered by staid calls on their own governments, and the US government, to come to what could only be a temporary agreement.

Workers to Power

Workers in Australia should note that while joint work with SA on the question of the current defence of Venezuela can be carried out, such co-operation is NOT possible when it comes to the question of Syria, Iran or Sudan. SA calls for “Hands Off Venezuela”, but for eight years strongly opposed both the demand “Hands Off Syria” and the organisation Hands Off Syria – as they vociferously backed US led regime change against the Syrian Arab Republic[8]. Likewise for Iran[9] and Sudan[10], SA again loudly advocate US led regime change – while simultaneously opposing US led regime change in Venezuela!

The CPA, in addition, is also an organisation that working people CANNOT be allies with on the question of Iran – where they concur with the Tudeh Party of Iran that the Iranian government represents a medieval dictatorship!![11] The US state department would approve. Nor can the CPA be an ally on Sudan, where it joins with SA to once again call for political power to be usurped and handed to a US backed opposition.[12] When it comes to Venezuela today, the CPA and SA are also only half correct. Granted, they call for the defeat of the US backed coup attempt, the non-recognition of coup leader Juan Guaido, and the lifting of US sanctions on Venezuela. Yet they also politically defend President Maduro and the PSUV – a reformist (and still capitalist) government which in practice attempts to conciliate US imperialism. What is required is the mobilisation of workers in Venezuela and across Latin America to confront and defeat US imperialism – through efforts to organise workers to take state power into their own hands. A workers’ state is the key mechanism through which imperialism can be temporarily staved off until workers internationally are able to bring down “their own” capitalism.

Such an approach, however, is anathema to the PSUV in Venezuela, and also to SA and the CPA on these shores. While in Venezuela the PSUV practice a “united broad front” with the Venezuelan business class, in Australia SA and the CPA practice a “united broad front” with the ALP, i.e. the “liberal” wing of the ruling class. In both cases, workers are thus tied politically to a coalition with the bourgeoisie – a recipe for complete disaster. In order for workers to either defend themselves against capitalist austerity, or against a US led coup, workers must know exactly who their enemies are and who are their allies. To the extent that the Venezuelan government and military defend the country against US-led overthrow, workers should not stand in the way, and even assist. At the same time, not one bar of political support can be offered to the PSUV. In fact, workers in Venezuela desperately need to forge the Marxist vanguard party which can begin the task of winning the most class-conscious Chavistas to the perspective of uniting the workers, rather than the “people”.This is the missing link that workers internationally are crying out for.

WORKERS   LEAGUE
www.redfireonline.com       E: workersleague@redfireonline.com

[1] https://www.reuters.com/article/us-venezuela-politics-guaido/venezuelas-guaido-says-humanitarian-aid-will-arrive-on-feb-23-idUSKCN1Q1277 (18-02-19)

[2] https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2019/02/18/world/social-issues-world/venezuelas-juan-guaido-calls-million-volunteers-aid-standoff-maduro/#.XGlwWbhx2Uk (18-02-19)

[3] https://www.newsweek.com/venezuela-inflation-hits-833997-course-1-million-2019-1207509 (20-02-19)

[4] https://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2017/04/07/522912791/venezuelas-bread-wars-with-food-scarce-government-accuses-bakers-of-hoarding (20-02-19)

[5] https://venezuelanalysis.com/analysis/14334 (20-02-19)

[6] https://www.greenleft.org.au/content/labor-must-oppose-trump-coup-venezuela (20-02-19)

[7] https://www.cpa.org.au/guardian/2019/1857/02-editorial.html (20-02-19)

[8] https://www.greenleft.org.au/content/idlib-not-end-story (21-02-19)

[9] https://www.greenleft.org.au/content/iranian-workers-protests-confront-regime-crisis (21-02-19)

[10] https://www.greenleft.org.au/content/sudan-uprising-peoples-revolution (21-02-19)

[11] https://www.cpa.org.au/guardian/2017/1806/09-greetings-tudeh.html (21-02-19)

[12] http://cpa.org.au/guardian/2019/1856/14-sudans.html (21-02-19)

Iran: Workers or Separatists?

Flag of the Islamic Republic of Iran

Iran: Workers or Separatists?

16-02-2019 – When is a workers’ movement not actually a workers’ movement? When is a Union not actually a Union? A good indicator is when such “movements” spring up in a country directly targeted for regime change by the rapacious US Empire – the same one which pulled out all stops to overthrow an allied country using indescribable violence. We of course reference Syria, and its ally Iran. The Syrian Arab Republic remains, and for now has effectively defeated the US masters of war and its allies. This was achieved with the vital assistance of Russia, the Lebanese Hezbollah, and the Islamic Republic of Iran. Furious at having been blocked in what is usually a straight forward case of imperial overthrow, the US state now dramatically ramps up its vast array of tools for regime change in Iran. To say that a US led war on Iran – the gateway between the Middle East and Asia – would be a catastrophe would be an understatement.

“Independent” Unions

The US state department is very well schooled in manipulating well-intentioned but misguided progressive youth and left-leaning workers into serving as foot soldiers for its regime change wars. Assisted by all manner of NGOs, “liberal” corporate media and ostensibly “left” parties, the US Empire effectively reversed the anti-war sentiment that came about through the war on Iraq in 2003. Although “successful” in Libya, they were blocked in Syria – which has only increased their desperation and consequent appetite for regime change in Iran. Of course the US state has been desperate for regime change in Iran since the Iranian people toppled the US backed Shah in 1979, and expelled all US “advisors”. But in 2019, the US state can ill afford to allow liberals to lie idle.

A useful method for the imperialists is to falsely claim to support the struggle of workers and Unions in a country they also label their number one enemy. As if the political operatives of world capitalism are the slightest bit concerned about the welfare of the working class!  Yet they do, and unfortunately they draw in progressive minded folk and some left parties who should know a lot better.

The “independent” Union set up is a classical case. “Independent” Unions in Iran can only be dependent on external backing, in a similar way in which “independent” Unions in China or Vietnam or Cuba are higly likely to be a conduit for US state interference. This is not to deny specific issues for workers that exist for workers in those countries, but the price of the loss of independence from imperialism – the restoration of capitalism in China, Vietnam or Cuba – would set workers back 100 years. Iran, despite operating a capitalist economy, is independent of US, and therefore world, imperialism. Despite Iran’s market economy, there is extensive state direction, and the loss of this would send Iranian workers back to a stage before 1979. This is why workers in Iran and internationally must stridently defend Iran against all facets of US domination.

Falling at the first obligation

Some Australian left parties stumble at the primary obligation of anyone claiming to be a socialist or Marxist – clear opposition to US imperialism. The Socialist Alliance (SA), through its newspaper Green Left Weekly(GLW), recently published an extraordinary attack on the Iranian government, at the precise time when it is enduring enormous hardship as a result of, amongst other things, US sanctions. In a piece dated February 1, Minna Langeberg claims that “although US sanctions have worsened the economic situation, they are not the cause: the cause is a religious fascist regime in a deep crisis of legitimacy.”[1] The mind boggles!!

To label Iran as “fascist”, at the same time as US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Security Advisor John Bolton are gunning for the overthrow of Iran, clearly marks where the Socialist Alliance stands. Whether they are aware of it or not, SA is unfortunately repeating its notorious role backing US led regime change in Syria. Regime change right now, in Iran, can only benefit the US ruling class. One cannot wish US imperialism out of existence. The only possibility that a political movement for a new government in Iran now could garner support from workers internationally would be one that: 1) Clearly maintained that it opposed the imperialism of the US and their allies in the UK, France etc, with the backing of Israel, and did so to a greater extent than the current Iranian government 2) Clearly stated that it stood for the defence of Iran and Syria and the region against Saudi Arabian and Zionist Israel, to a greater extent than the current Iranian government 3) Clearly stated that is was for the complete liberation of women through working class emancipation. 4) Clearly maintained the equality of all religions and minorities within Iran to a greater extent than the current Iranian government 5) Clearly stated that the economy should be more publicly owned than is currently the case 6) Clearly maintained that it backs the workers throughout Iran, not just in a couple of areas known for anti-government sentiment, and so on.

If such a political movement existed in Iran today, or even one with even some or even one of the above characteristics, leftists internationally would have to seriously assess it. But there are no indications the current “movement” of protests in Iran expresses serious anti-imperialism. This is even despite the fact that it claims it stands for “workers” and “unions” and subjectively opposes the “crony capitalism” of the Iranian government. Sure, there are workers demonstrating against the economic hardships largely caused by US sanctions. Some Iranians certainly blame the government, even while recognising the impact of US sanctions. But in a country whose population has now surpassed 82 million people[2], such demonstrations and rallies have to be closely analysed.

Khuzestan and separatism

GLW’s article by Minna Langeberg hinges on two supposed labour struggles breaking out in Iran. Langeberg writes “..two simultaneous waves of labour protests stand out, both in the southwest province of Khuzestan: the Haft Tappeh Sugarcane Company protests, and the National Steel Company protests in Ahvaz, the capital of Khuzestan.”[3] So of all the alleged labour unrest and “Union struggle” in Iran, the two most important all happen in one province in the south of Iran?  Some explanation for this is required here, yet none is offered by GLW.

The south-western province of Khuzestan hosts the majority of Iran’s oil production. It also is home to around 1.5 million Ahwazi Arabs, reportedly making up around 2% of Iran’s population.[4] Generally, Ahwazi Arabs claim that they are marginalized and excluded from Iranian society and government, as a minority in a majority Persian country. Khuzestan’s capital Ahvaz is hard hit by unemployment, but that is unfortunately widespread across Iran. Doubtless there are some grievances that need to be addressed, but whether the Ahwazi Arabs generally favour separatism from Iran is not clear. There are certainly some Ahwazi organisations, including armed ones, which stridently advocate a separation from Iran. One is the Arab Struggle Movement for the Liberation of Ahwaz (ASMLA), which may sound legitimate. However, this group, in seeking separation from Iran, has bombed government buildings and pipelines in the region which have killed civilians.[5]  In other words, regardless of the justness of whatever cause they claim, they are a terrorist organisation with no regard for innocent life.

Another recent example of the absent lack of concern for the butchering of innocents by Ahwaz separatists was the September 22 terrorist attack on a military parade in Ahvaz. The parade was marking the anniversary of the beginning of the Iraq-Iran war, in which then Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein apparently believed the Ahwazi Arabs would welcome the entry of the forces of fellow Arabs. They did not, and Iranian forces had to wage a battle to retake the city a couple of years later at a high cost of life.  What occurred at that parade only last year, was that four gunmen disguised as soldiers opened fire and indiscriminately shot dead fleeing soldiers and civilians. At least 24 people died, including a four year old child.[6] Around 70 were injured.

Saudi Arabia, UAE, Denmark, the Netherlands all aid “jihadist separatists”

Two groups claimed responsibility for the attack: ISIS and the Ahwaz National Resistance. It is unlikely that ISIS was behind it – they claim responsibility for many attacks they have nothing to do with. The claim of the Ahwaz National Resistance is much more likely. What kind of “resistance” movement would openly claim responsibility for an attack which clearly extinguished innocent lives? Iran’s Supreme Leader the Ayatollah Ali Khamanei did not mince his words in response: “This cowardly attack was the work of those very individuals who are rescued by the Americans whenever they are in trouble in Iraq and Syria  and who are funded by the Saudis and the (United) Arab Emirates.”[7] It has long been suspected that the Saudi Arabian royal family, along with the UAE government, fund and arm the Ahwaz separatists, as a way of undermining and destablising Iran. In this case, it seems likely it was direct payback for the role Iran has played in Syria, helping to defeat the foreign backed jihadists seeking ultra-violent regime change. Without endorsing the Iranian government per se, working people can only support the actions of the Iranian military in Syria, which contributed to the defeat of the US and its proxy forces.

While the Saudi and Emirati governments fund and arm the ultra-violent terrorist Ahwazi groups, the governments of Denmark and the Netherlands give them safe haven on their soil. In response to the September 22 atrocity, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Bahram Qasemi stated that it was not acceptable for European Union countries to refrain from blacklisting known members of terrorist groups as long as they do not commit a crime on European soil. He said the Iranian government had warned Denmark and the Netherlands about the presence of the terrorists and called for their arrest and trial.[8] The hypocrisy is galling. One could only imagine the response if Iran had hosted known terrorists on its soil, whose fellow members then went on a shooting rampage in the US, or a European country. Yet the reverse happens, but the imperialist powers get away scot-free.

Workers must defend Iran, and condemn Western armed terrorism

Unfortunately the Socialist Alliance is joined by the Communist Party of Australia (CPA) in blindly backing the Ahwaz separatists, who skillfully manipulate progressives under the cover of backing “independent” workers’ “Unions”. In an article in the CPA’s The Guardian newspaper dated December 12, 2018, the author attempts to draw a wall between the open US state aim of regime change in Iran, and the workers’ protests in Khuzestan.[9] Yet they are one and the same! How do we know this? One reason is because none other than John Bolton – currently heading up US backed regime change in Venezuela and Iran – has openly advocated backing Iran’s ethnic minorities as a means of destabilising the country.[10]

Not only has John Bolton advocated the stoking of ethnic tensions in Iran as part of regime change efforts, his links to the notorious terrorist group the Mujaheddin E Khalq (MEK) are well known. The MEK fought with the invading Iraqi government during the Iraq-Iran war, and as such are despised as traitors by almost all Iranians. They are exiled because of this, but it has not stopped John Bolton declaring to MEK supporters that he will celebrate with them in Tehran “before 2019”.[11] This is a senior US official, openly preparing not only regime change in Iran, but choosing known ultra-violent terrorists as the new leaders! In addition, MEK cult leader Maryam Rajavi has publicly supported the Ahwazi separatists.[12]

Due to Iran’s necessary building of conventional missiles as defence, not to speak of a united and well-armed military, external US led regime change on Iran is unlikely – though not impossible. Much more likely is internal US led regime change – which utilises all manner of anti-government yahoos, up to and including ultra-violent terrorists and criminal jihadists. Without endorsing the political positions of the Iranian government, workers internationally have a vital interest, at this time, in defending Iran against internal and external regime change. Imperialism must be opposed regardless of its modus operandi.

WORKERS  LEAGUE

www.redfireonline.com

E: workersleague@redfireonline.com

PO Box 66  NUNDAH  QLD  4012

 

[1] https://www.greenleft.org.au/content/iranian-workers-protests-confront-regime-crisis (16-02-19)

[2] http://www.worldometers.info/world-population/iran-population/ (16-02-19)

[3] Ibid, 1.

[4] https://bigthink.com/strange-maps/the-phantom-emirate-of-al-ahwaz (17-02-19)

[5] https://www.middleeasteye.net/news/ahwazis-dont-give-anniversary-annexed-arab-province-looms-iran (17-02-19)

[6] https://www.alaraby.co.uk/english/news/2018/9/25/iran-says-jihadist-separatists-behind-ahvaz-attack (17-02-19)

[7] Ibid, 6.

[8] https://www.dutchnews.nl/news/2018/09/iran-criticises-the-netherlands-for-sheltering-terrorists-after-parade-attack/ (17-02-19)

[9] http://www.cpa.org.au/guardian/2018/1852/06-rally.html (17-02-19)

[10] https://www.rferl.org/a/iran-khuzestan-poverty-separatism-bloody-war-memories/29515269.html (17-02-19)

[11] https://www.alaraby.co.uk/english/comment/2018/6/8/boltons-mek-ties-make-him-more-lobbyist-than-statesman (17-02-19)

[12] https://www.middleeasteye.net/news/ahwazis-dont-give-anniversary-annexed-arab-province-looms-iran (17-02-19)

Sudan: US Fuels Deadly Subversion

Flag of Sudan. The Sudanese flag features the Pan-Arabic red, white and black bars. Image from Flagpedia.net.

Sudan: US Fuels Deadly Subversion

10-02-2019:  In the horn of Africa, some Sudanese people move onto the streets to protest against the price of bread. The demonstrations soon force a response from the government, which moves to prevent them from spreading. The demonstrators call for the overthrow of the state. For the left internationally, on the surface it appears to be a straight forward case – we back the people who are demanding bread – or do we?  In Africa in 2019, things are not at all what they seem.

After the experience of Libya, Syria, Ukraine and now Venezuela, working people need to be alert to any suspected regime change effort by the US Empire. And in Sudan currently, all the hallmarks of yet another attempt to overthrow yet another “regime” which is independent of Washington are there. How can we determine this? One giveaway is the fact that the demand for cheaper bread almost immediately became a call for regime change. This is usually a tell-tale sign that imperialism is fomenting yet another hybrid war for the overturn of a state. Another sign is that the protestors immediately moved to burn down offices of the ruling National Congress Party, headed by President Omar Al-Bashir[1], and set fire to some government vehicles. Suffice to say that demanding cheaper bread at the same time as knee-jerk pyromania is more than a little suspicious.

Sudan pivots to Russia, Syria

Another sign that the current protests in Sudan are not the genuine article is the fact that they broke out immediately after Al-Bashir met with Syria’s President Bashar Al-Assad in Damascus on December 16. What is more, President Bashir was flown from the Sudanese capital Khartoum to Damascus in Russian military aircraft.[2] This visit made Bashir the first Arabic leader of a country to visit Al-Assad in eight years – during the time of the West’s proxy war for regime change against Syria. Al-Bashir’s visit to President Assad seemed to be intended to mark a public display of reality in Syria – the war for regime change waged by the US government is over, and Syria will, for now, remain independent. It also seemed to be an intentional display of the re-alignment of Bashir’s government away from Saudi Arabia and the Gulf monarchies, and towards Russia and Syria. Workers can be thankful for small mercies such as this. The Sudanese government’s participation in the Saudi led war on Yemen is almost unforgivable. Bashir’s government reportedly sent four attack aircraft and up to 10 000 troops to take part in the attempted suppression of the Houthis defending Yemen.[3] The war on Yemen was a spin-off of the failed regime change war against Syria, and Al-Bashir’s participation in this war against fellow Arabs should be condemned, despite an apparent need now to defend Sudan against US led regime change.

Bashir’s tilt away from Saudi Arabia and the Gulf monarchies such as Qatar and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and towards Syria and Russia is to be welcomed, if only to counter the nefarious ends of US imperialist pressure on Sudan. Despite the US government recently lifting crippling sanctions on Sudan, President Bashir claims – not without foundation – that the US seeks the balkanisation of Sudan into five parts. Bashir stated that Sudan sought Russian made S-300 anti-missile protection systems and SU-35s (advanced Russian fighter jets) in order to protect themselves from a US onslaught seeking to shatter the country.[4] In contrast to the decision to assist the war on Yemen, this decision is a rational one. The US was transparently behind the moves to separate South Sudan from Sudan in 2011, when it backed the “Christian” south against the “Muslim” north.[5] What is more, this campaign, which inevitably led to further war, was backed by Hollywood celebrities including Don Cheadle, Mark Wahlberg and the notorious US imperialist adjunct George Clooney.[6] George Clooney would go on to make moves to produce a film glorifying the Al-Qaeda outfit “The White Helmets” in Syria, which made fake videos falsely portraying them as “rescuers”.[7] Even with Hollywood’s backing, the US Empire and their Al-Qaeda proxies were defeated in Syria with the assistance of Russian air power – particularly the SU-35. Hence, Bashir’s desire for a stock of these jets for Sudan.

New Silk Road

As is now customary, US ruling class designs in Africa are consistently overhauled in an attempt to ward off the assistance offered by Red China. Any means which can disrupt trade, investment, healthcare or infrastructure development assistance offered by the world’s largest socialist power to African countries, will be considered or carried out by Washington. This includes all measures up to and including the stoking of fratricidal wars. All of this is under the watchful eye of AFRICOM – the US Empire’s strategic command for the African continent. And AFRICOM takes a dim view of China’s New Silk Road (One Belt One Road – OBOR), which seeks to link Africa and Asia to Europe through mutually beneficial construction of roads, ports and railways. Heaven forbid that African countries should accept development assistance from the predominantly planned and collectivised Chinese economy! Given that Sudan is a strategic hub of the African section of the New Silk Road, it follows that Sudan is thus a prime target for a hybrid political/psychological/diplomatic war.

To give just one example, in 2017 it was announced that China would build a railway connecting the strategic Port Sudan on the edge of the Red Sea to the Chadian capital N’Djamena. This will allow surrounding Eastern African countries such as Cameroon and Nigeria a link to the sea port at Port Sudan – a link to Europe and Asia.[8] The US ruling class, from their point of view, simply cannot stand by and allow any African country to develop, or at the least, not through Washington. China, with its economy operating on a fundamentally different basis to predatory imperialism, has nothing to fear and everything to gain from the rise of African countries out of Third World status. The US economy, based on private profit – cannot tolerate any competition whatsoever. The Chinese economy, which does not operate primarily on private profit, but according to its Five Year Plans, welcomes trading partners, cultural exchanges, and friendly political alliances. Hence – the US covert war for regime change in many parts of Africa. Today Sudan, tomorrow Nigeria, and on and on it goes.

US admits one of their own behind the “protests”

Sometimes the hand of the US deep state reveals itself, and in this case, its involvement in the regime change protests in Sudan. The “Voice of America” – US state department propaganda pumped around the world – admitted in a recent article that Rudwan Dawod helped organise the recent protests in Sudan.[9] Mr Dawod, the article states, is a Sudanese-American politician. He lives sometimes in Oregon in the US, and sometimes in Khartoum. He heads up the transparently dubious “Sudan of the Future” campaign, and when in Khartoum he is employed by “Sudan Sunrise” – an openly US funded NGO.[10] Mr Dawod has previously been arrested by Sudanese authorities, apparently on suspicion of spying for both the US and South Sudan. Given his employment by a US backed NGO, such suspicions have more than reasonable grounds. US backed NGOs are planted around the globe, endlessly plotting regime change on behalf of their benefactors, in Russia, China and Iran. The addition of Sudan to this list would surprise no one.

No one, that is, apart from the imperial left in Australia. Leading from behind on this score, is the Communist Party of Australia (CPA). The CPA should be well aware of the role of Red China in Africa, and the desperate measures of the US Empire and its de facto permanent AFRICOM occupation force. However, the CPA gives carte blanche endorsement to the Sudanese Communist Party (SCP), and blindly assumes that the actions of this party align with its name. Over a century has passed since Karl Marx wrote that just as we do not judge an individual on what he thinks of himself, we also do not judge political parties on the basis of what they claim to be. If the Sudanese Communist Party claims to be “communist” while calling for the overthrow of the Sudanese “regime” at the same time as US backed NGOs operating in Sudan are helping to organise this, it follows that, at least on this issue, the Sudanese Communist Party is barely left-wing, let alone “communist”.  By retailing the Sudanese Communist Party’s calls for what can only at this stage be US backed regime change,[11] the CPA adds to its membership ledger of the imperial left.

Always eager to be the first in line to call for regime change in a country targeted by US imperialism, the Socialist Alliance (SA) has leapt into the fray. Seemingly SA has drawn no lessons from its strident backing of the US led wars for regime change against Libya and Syria, and has even deepened the errors. Its newspaper Green Left Weekly is replete with articles urging the overthrow of Sudan, seemingly oblivious to the fact that the contrived protests in Sudan do not appear to have gained anything other than token support across the East African country, which has a population of 40 million people. The photos of the “mass rallies” in Sudan are the classical narrow angle photo, which only shows a section of a small crowd, falsely implying a huge attendance. Even aside from this, basic Marxists should know just by the title of the declaration of the opposition parties, that this is an orchestrated pro-Western coup, with some backing from domestic conservative forces. The “Declaration of Freedom and Change”[12] sounds wonderful for the well paid technical staff of the Sudanese Professionals Association, but will do nothing for poor and working class Sudanese. In fact, US backed regime change in Sudan, which blocked off development assistance offered by China, will be disastrous for them.

“Freedom and Change” cannot be won through the US Empire

This is not to deny socio-economic and political problems for the working class of Sudan. Similar issues exist in all countries, but especially in African countries which are still prevented from developing as one consequence of the history of European colonialism. If US and European imperialism did not exist at all, if there was no military, political, financial or diplomatic interference in Sudan, or in Africa as a whole, from the ruling classes of the United Kingdom (former colonial ruler) and the United States, there is a small possibility that workers internationally could come behind political movements in Sudan – even ones aimed at forming a new government. But this fantasy world does not exist. Imperialism – the expansionary needs of financial capital from the First World “great” powers – has created the political problems in Africa, and it will remain until it is overthrown – principally by workers in “their own” centres.

IF there was political movement in Sudan which was clearly leading a struggle for socialism, for workers’ power, and IF this movement was led by parties or a party which made its call for a workers’ government in Sudan and throughout Africa, and IF this movement made it crystal clear that it opposed the interference of US imperialism in toto, THEN workers internationally could look at engaging with such a movement in a supportive manner.  IF any of these characteristics were present, or anything even leaning in such a direction, it MAY be worth looking at a position of critical support for such a movement. Marxism, as Lenin stressed repeatedly, is the concrete analysis of concrete conditions. Leftists have to analyse each set of circumstances on a case by case basis.

The contrived political protests in Sudan today do not meet ANY of even the most basic pre-conditions that would lead to the beginnings of critical support. Not only does the US state department admit that one of its citizens was organising the protests, part of the Sudanese “opposition” admits it has met with high level US consular staff. For example, the opposition Sudan Call alliance met with US Ambassador Steven Koutsis, at their request, in London in September 2018, to “discuss their position on the peace talks and democratic process”.[13] After the experience of the regime wars on Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, and attempts at regime change in Ukraine and Iran, amongst others, one can imagine how the US state department views a “democratic process” !!

Working people in Sudan have an interest in opposing, not backing, US imperialist plans for their country. While maintaining their political independence, state and non-state development assistance offered on good terms from socialist China should be welcomed, and even leveraged against the aims of AFRICOM. Socialists internationally should seek to expose the role of the US Empire in Africa, while extending efforts to forge genuine Marxist vanguard parties – the key element of true internationalism.

WORKERS  LEAGUE

www.redfireonline.com

E: workersleague@redfireonline.com

[1] https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/africa/sudan-bread-price-protests-rebellion-government-khartoum-a8697986.html (03-02-19)

[2] https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20181219-why-did-sudans-president-visit-bashar-al-assad-in-syria/ (03-02-19)

[3] https://southfront.org/sudanese-forces-in-yemeni-war/ (05-02-19)

[4] https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2017/11/25/543483/Sudan-US-sanctions-Bashir (05-02-19)

[5] https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2011/07/us-played-key-role-in-southern-sudans-long-journey-to-independence/241660/ (05-02-19)

[6] https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-14050504 (05-02-19)

[7] http://www.handsoffsyriasydney.com/articles/white-helmets-black-hearts/ (05-02-19)

[8] https://www.globalresearch.ca/sudan-is-indispensable-to-chinas-silk-road-vision-for-africa/5619886 (06-02-19)

[9] https://www.voanews.com/a/sudanese-american-politician-who-organized-protests-goes-missing/4749567.html (06-02-19)

[10] http://en.rfi.fr/africa/20120814-US-concerned-over-re-arrest-of-aid-worker-in-Sudan (06-02-19)

[11] http://www.cpa.org.au/guardian/2019/1854/04-sudanese.html (09-02-19)

[12] https://www.greenleft.org.au/content/can-sudanese-people-bring-down-dictator (09-02-19)

[13] http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article66325 (10-02-19)