Feb 3, 2014
This article is from the January 10, 2014 edition of Lutte Ouvrière (Workers Struggle), the paper of the revolutionary workers group of that name active in France.
The December attacks in Lebanon, and the capture of Fallujah in Iraq by a Syrian Islamic group calling itself the Islamic State in Iraq and the Middle East, shows how the Syrian civil war has helped destabilize the entire region.
Popular protests against the Assad dictatorship took place beginning in 2011. But since then, the conflicts in Syria have turned into clashes between military cliques cut off from the population, each one more reactionary than the next. The imperialist states, starting with the United States, must take responsibility for this evolution. At first they bet that the Syrian dictatorship would withstand the challenges to it. Then the great powers changed their minds and bet on its destabilization. The civil war in Syria quickly became a regional battleground among Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Iran as each sent weapons, troops or financial support for one side or another.
The Syrian civil war further destabilized neighboring countries like Iraq and Lebanon, which were already weakened by internal conflicts. In Lebanon, on December 27, one attack killed seven people. The target was a member of former Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s coalition, representing the interests of the Sunni ruling circles, yet also linked to certain wealthy Christians with financial and personal ties to the Saudi regime. On January 2, another attack took place in the suburbs of Beirut, in a stronghold of the Hezbollah organization, which killed five people and wounded 66 more. Hezbollah is part of the Shiite Muslim community, with links to a different part of the Lebanese Christian ruling circles, and is supported by Iran. Hezbollah has sent fighters to Syria on the side of Bashir Assad.
Above all, Iraq, a country already heavily destabilized by U.S. military intervention, has seen a further deterioration. The taking of Fallujah by the jihadist militia called the Islamic State in Iraq and the Middle East is a sign that jihadist militias are resurging.
These clashes are presented as a religious war throughout the region between Sunnis and Shias. But religion hardly counts. What is really going on is clashes between regional powers, through proxy militias, fanned by the maneuvers of the imperialists. And sometimes imperialism fails to control its own creations.