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Imperialism and instability


July 10, 2014

The unrelenting Israeli assault on Gaza continues, with almost 100 dead and more than 600 injured. Once again the victims are mainly civilians. Israel is committing war crimes and governments around the world are silent in the face of this brutality.
 
The US government will do all it can to quiet opposition on the international level. As Philip Gordon, a special assistant to US President Barack Obama and the White House coordinator for the Middle East said in Tel Aviv on July 8, “The United States will always have Israel’s back. That’s why we fight for it every day at the United Nations.”
 
The current assault on is not a response to rocket attacks as the mainstream media suggests. It must be seen in the context of the larger geopolitical situation and crucially, the collapse of the designs of Western Imperialism in the Middle East.
 
ISIS, Iraq and imperialism
The rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is a direct result of imperial interventions in Iraq and Syria. The US and its allies launched the war in Iraq in 2003 and have since then attempted to exert control by using a divide and rule strategy, pitting Sunni versus Shia to try and weaken opposition to their dictates.
 
It has backfired. The government of Nouri al-Maliki in Iraq had continued a sectarian approach to governing the country as was laid out in the new constitutional arrangements imposed by the US. Not surprisingly, this has led to only tenuous control of parts of the country, which allowed ISIS to rather swiftly advance in the North.
 
The threat of ISIS is a handy tool for the Israeli government. According to Israeli peace activist Uri Avery, Prime Minister Netanyahu said of ISIS, “if they are not stopped by the permanent Israeli garrison there (on the Jordan river), they will appear at the gates of Tel Aviv.” It is therefore an imperative for the state of Israel to wipe out any opposition in Gaza so as to be able to focus on the borders with Jordan, Lebanon and Syria.
 
The reality is that Israel has little to fear from ISIS but they have provided a convenient bogeyman justifying further brutality against Palestinians. Similarly, while the US killed a million Iraqis through war and occupation, and while US-backed Saudi Arabia has been stoking sectarianism and arming ISIS, the US has used ISIS as an excuse to re-militarize its control of Iraq.
 
Egypt
The other major player in the current conflagration in the region is Egypt. During the last Israeli attacks on Gaza in 2012, the situation in Egypt was very unstable. There was a real fear from the US that the attack on Gaza was fuelling discontent that could spill into another revolutionary wave in the country.
 
Hilary Clinton helped then Egyptian president Mohammed Morsi to broker a peace deal to end the hostilities. It was an unprecedented move. The Israelis signed the deal without having all of its conditions met. What was really happening is that the US was more concerned about Egypt than Gaza. They wanted the fighting to stop until they were able to stabilize Egypt.
 
Egypt has been a lynchpin in the US strategy to control the Middle East for decades. The Camp David accords were designed to secure the southern border for Israel so it could launch more attacks on the remaining Palestinian territories and other neighbouring counties. Egypt, with the largest population in the Arab world, needed to be pacified.
 
It is difficult to tell what impact the current assault on Gaza will have in Egypt. The counter-revolution led by Abdel Fattah el-Sisi is in full swing. The space to show dissent has shrunk considerably.
 
But for revolutionaries in Egypt, the Gaza attack can once again expose the hypocrisy of the Egyptian state. Each Egyptian military leader uses their own participation in the wars against Israel in 1967 and 1973 to build their own credibility and to advance a notion of the army as saviour of the country. That begs a question however: if the credibility of Egyptian military leaders is based on their fight against Israel, why will they not side with the Palestinians now?
 
Progressive forces in Egypt have already started solidarity campaigns with the people of Gaza. It is crucial that activists in the West build solidarity with the Egyptian revolutionaries. They showed that the revolts of the Arab working class are crucial to ending the brutality of the Israelis.
 
Canadian Complicity
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper is well known for his blanket support for the Israeli state. He described the Israeli attack on Gaza in 2009 as a “measured response” and has continually been one of the most strident defenders of the brutality unleashed against Palestine.
 
He is following a long tradition of support from western imperial countries for Israel. The state is seen as a bulwark against independence in the region. The main goal for the western powers has been for a century to control the vast resources wealth – particularly oil. At the same time Harper wants to waste $490 billion on the Canadian military, while imposing austerity.
 
Harper has already called Benjamin Netanyahu to offer his unequivocal support for the current attacks. We, therefore, have a job to do in Canada to push back against Canadian complicity in these crimes, and Canadian militarism.
 
Take action: protest the assault on Palestinians. In Toronto join the demonstration Friday July 11 at 6pm across from the Israeli Consulate (Bloor and Avenue), organized by the Coalition Against Israeli Apartheid (CAIA) and Palestine House
 
Join the public forum “ISIS, Israel and instability in the Middle East”, Sunday July 13 at 5:30pm at Steelworkers Hall (25 Cecil Street), organized by the Toronto-centre branch of the International Socialists.

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