Sunday, 11 January 2015

To Gerard Biard, editor-in-chief, and staff of Charlie Hebdo

We are writing to express our deepest condolences on the cowardly attack on the offices of Charlie Hebdo and the callous murder of your colleagues.  We vigorously condemn this barbaric act.

This was not just a gruesome attack on your magazine, which has bravely stood up to ignorance, bigotry and dogma, but also an attack on freedom of expression and the unconditional right to criticise and ridicule religion.  It was an attack on civilisation and humanity itself.

They were hoping to silence you and free speech.  Instead, in the wake of this attack, a colossal wave of human solidarity has taken shape in France, Europe and across the globe with you and your cause.

The Islamic terrorists who carried out this barbaric act belong to a movement which has been committing enormous crimes against people and critics of Islam for decades in countries like Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Nigeria and everywhere else plagued by Islam.

Confronting and stopping this movement is the job of left, secular, atheist, freethinking and progressive forces, who see the defence of unconditional freedoms as a prime task.  Charlie Hebdo belongs to this camp.

Our party is committed to a vigorous fight against Islamism both in Iran and internationally.  We are committed to the defence of unconditional freedom of expression and criticism of religion.  Our colleagues have for years been campaigning internationally for secularism, universal rights, and against Sharia laws, apostasy and blasphemy laws, the death penalty and stoning.  In Iran, we are committed to the overthrow of the Islamic Republic, i.e., a cornerstone of political Islam and Islamism, and the building of a free, open and equal society.

In solidarity with you and in loving memory of your lost colleagues
For a world free of religion, ignorance, prejudice and dogma
For a better world

Asqar Karimi
For the Executive Board
Worker-communist Party of Iran

Thursday, 8 January 2015

We condemn the murderous attack on Charlie Hebdo by Islamic terrorists

The murderous attack today by Islamic terrorists on the Paris offices of Charlie Hebdo has aroused people’s anger and disgust around the world. Charlie Hebdo is a left, progressive satirical weekly which criticises and ridicules religion and religious beliefs, prejudices and taboos. In 2011 the magazine’s office was firebombed by Islamists for publishing a caricature of Muhammed, and its editor and writers have repeatedly received death threats. In today’s attack 12 people, including the magazine’s editor and three well-known French cartoonists, were killed. This is a direct attack on freedom of expression, on freedom to criticise religion and on civilisation and humanity.

This atrocity has once again alerted the people of the world to the enormous crimes which Islamic states and groups in Iran, Afghanistan, Iraq and other countries plagued by Islam are committing daily against their opponents and critics of Islam. The fight against Islamic states and groups rests on the shoulders of left, atheist and freedom-loving forces. The governments in the West, which rely on Islamic states and forces in the Middle East to further their aims and policies, and which have been instrumental in the rise of these forces, stand practically opposed to the camp of the revolutionary left, the secularists, atheists and progressive humanity, which is fighting Islamic states and forces of all types. Charlie Hebdo belongs to this latter camp.

Civilised and progressive humanity must everywhere come out against political Islam, the western governments’ policy of appeasement of Islamic states and forces, in defence of the unconditional freedom to criticise religion - specifically criticism of Islam - and in defence of secularism and separation of religion from the state. Already, people in France, Germany and Britain are holding protest gatherings against Islamists. This can be – and our party will try with all its power to make it - the start of a new global line-up against Islamists.

The Worker-communist Party of Iran extends its deepest sympathies to the families and friends of the victims of the attack on Charlie Hebdo. It vigorously condemns this crime and calls on all left, secular and atheist forces and all freedom-loving people around the world to come out against political Islam and in defence of freedom of expression, in particular the freedom to criticise religion.

Worker-communist Party of Iran
7 January 2015

Friday, 8 August 2014

The lives of thousands of people in Iraqi Kurdistan are in danger

Statement by the Worker-communist Party of Iran

Following the atrocities of the barbaric Islamic terrorist group ISIS in Iraq, thousands of people have fled to the mountains from fear of this group, and are in danger of dying.

In the past five days, areas to the east of Mosul, including the town of Shangal, have been captured by ISIS. Hundreds of people in these areas, including 17 girl students, have reportedly been executed for belonging to the Yazidi religion. Over 200,000 have been displaced, of which around 50,000 have taken refuge on the mountains near Shangal.

These people are now under the siege of ISIS forces.

Since June this year, after several years of fighting the Islamic Maliki government, ISIS has succeeded in capturing a number of areas in five central provinces of Iraq. In the past two months, it has murdered thousands of people, and hundreds of thousands have been displaced from fear of these Islamic savages.

According to the latest reports, many people on the mountaintops have already perished from lack of water and food. The rest, if they receive no help, are also in danger of certain death. This is genocide. Those trying to come down from the mountains to save themselves are being executed by ISIS. ISIS has blocked all the escape routes, which means that tens of thousands of people, stranded in 45-degree Celsius heat and without water or food, have little chance of survival. The world states and international bodies have done nothing so far. If no help arrives immediately, these people will certainly perish.

We cannot and must not wait for the next few days, which will undoubtedly bring human catastrophes of far greater proportions. We must act immediately. We must put the world states and international bodies under pressure to bring food and water to these people immediately.

The civilised people of the world must come out in support of the people of these war-ravaged areas. The people in Iran, and in particular in Iranian Kurdistan, must come out in support of the people of Iraq and Syria, who have been terrorised by ISIS and other Islamic and reactionary forces and by murderous states.

The Worker-communist Party of Iran supports the struggle of the people of Iraq and Syria for liberation from the hands of ISIS and all the reactionaries and criminal states in these countries.

Worker-communist Party of Iran

7 August 2014 

Saturday, 1 March 2014

The 99%: this time in Kiev’s Independence Square!

By Hamid Taqvaee

Contrary to a lot of the commentaries in the mainstream media, what is happening in Ukraine today is neither a return to the Cold War, nor a continuation of the Orange Revolution.
These events are an extension of the recent revolutions in the Middle East and North Africa, and the 99% movement in the West. The Cold War was about rivalry between two global blocs - the East and the West. The so-called ‘Velvet Revolutions’ were about transition into a Western-style free-market capitalism. The central issue of the present revolution in Ukraine is the clash of the people with the ruling classes and governments affiliated to both the West and the East. Just as in Egypt, so in Ukraine, people have come out and occupied squares to say they don’t want the existing situation and government.

The Ukrainian revolution has already succeeded in forcing the pro-Russian President to go on the run. But people have stayed in Independence Square and won’t give up their demands. The pro-Western option, namely joining the European Union, is no answer either. Indeed, the latest events began when such options reached a dead-end. The Ukrainian revolution is not the product of the rivalry of the world blocs; it is a product of those blocs’ desperation.

The Ukrainian situation today is a clear manifestation of the condition when ‘those above’ cannot carry on in the old way and ‘those below’ do not want to live in the old way. This inability and this refusal are not limited to Ukraine. Control has slipped from the hands of all the states involved – the United States, the EU, Russia and their allies. Rejection of the existing situation is also a global phenomenon: people of Ukraine are protesting against the same political, economic and social injustices as people everywhere.

Represented today in Kiev’s Independence Square is the 99% of the whole world. The Square is linked not to the White House or the Kremlin, but to Cairo’s Al-Tahrir and New York’s Zuccotti Park.

First published in Farsi-language daily Journal, Thursday 27 February 2014

Sunday, 22 December 2013

It’s time for worker-communism

What was the background to the formation of the Worker-communist Party of Iran (WPI)? Why build a new party just after the collapse of the Eastern bloc? Why was it called worker-communist? Patty Debonitas talks to WPI leader Hamid Taqvaee on these and other questions on the 22nd anniversary of the party.
What was the background to the formation of the party?

All of the leadership and rank and file of the Worker-communist Party of Iran (WPI), when it was formed in November 1991, had been members or cadres of the Communist Party of Iran (CPI) which had been founded in 1983.

The formation of the WPI was certainly not the starting point of our political activities. It was a separation from the old party, the CPI, and forming a new one.

And what is certainly true for myself as well as many others who are in the leadership now of the WPI is that our political activities started way back before 1983. Most of us started our activities in the 1979 revolution in Iran and some of us even before that. We were politically active, we were Marxist activists.

The best way perhaps of looking at the WPI is not as a party that took shape from scratch but as a turning point in a form of communism that started with Iran’s revolution more than three decades ago and which was shaped mainly by Mansoor Hekmat at that time.

Why did you establish a new party?

The WPI was formed at the time of the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. That event was the cause and start of many new issues and challenges.

We needed to answer these challenges of the New World Order as it was named by George Bush (the elder) and the US. And the CPI was not ready for this. There was a nationalist trend in the old party that got stronger after the collapse of the Soviet Union and after the invasion of Iraq by the US under George Bush. Nationalism was gaining power and getting stronger in the Middle East and it had its effect on the old communist party as well - we were facing a new rise of nationalism in the party too.

One trend in the party wanted to get ready for these new challenges and the other trend was influenced by nationalism. There were long deliberations and debates within the party and during the course of these debates a worker-communism fraction formed which eventually led to the formation of a new party.

But this was just the inner-party manifestation of a more general and universal issue. The real issue wasn’t the opposition between communism and nationalism as has always been in different eras in history. It was the reflection of a bigger issue - the collapse of the Soviet Union and with that the collapse of the old type of communism being in the mainstream.

With the name worker-communism we wanted to explain its difference with that mainstream communism. That was the bigger issue. In the WPI’s manifesto we declared that this is a communism that has nothing to do with the mainstream communism of the whole Soviet era and that therefore the collapse of the Soviet Union is not our crisis, that this isn’t the collapse of worker-communism. On the contrary it is the collapse of non-worker-communism, the Soviet-type communism. We were establishing a party to get ready for the new challenges of the Post Cold War era.

Why did you call it worker-communism?

We think that communism is a social movement, and not an ideology.

Communism we think is a real existing movement within the working class all over the world. Sometimes it might be weaker or stronger, it might not be dominant in the labour movement, but whatever it is we think that we always have this sort of movement within the working class or labour movement every day and we call it communism.

It is not the only communism that exists. There are different branches of communism, like Soviet-style communism, Chinese communism, Trotskyism, Euro-communism, we have so many different trends of communism. With the name of worker-communism we wanted to show that we are different. Mansoor Hekmat gave a very profound and comprehensive interview about this which was published as a pamphlet called ‘Our differences’. It explains very clearly what our differences are theoretically, politically, and socially.

Let me just mention one of the differences. One such communism that was very powerful in the Soviet Union and China had replaced the essence of socialism, which means the abolishment of wage labour, with a new concept of industrialisation of their country mixed with some sort of state control of the economy, which was nothing but state capitalism. These have nothing to do with worker-communism.

Worker-communism was not about industrialisation or economic and political independence from Imperialism or state economy. These were the hallmark of other movements that called themselves communism.

You can look at Euro-communism, Maoism, communism of the Eastern Bloc, and many groups in Third World countries with the banner of  ‘African socialism’, ‘Arabic socialism’ and so on. All of those used the word of socialism or communism but their content had nothing to do with the abolishment of wage labour. For them socialism or communism meant some sort of independence from the US or other colonial powers. Getting their country industrialized and making the national bourgeoisie stronger - these were the objectives of those movements.

Worker-communism as opposed to all those movements identified itself with getting rid of capitalism all together. Abolishing wage labour and establishing common control of the means of production by the society. Those are the goals of worker-communism. You cannot find those sorts of goals in any other branches of communism that we had in the cold war era other than as a very faint spiritual concept.

That is the reason for the name of worker-communism as opposed to the other branches of communism.

How was the formation of your party perceived when in the public sphere there was talk about the end of communism?

That was exactly one of the challenges I was talking about earlier. The collapse of the Soviet Union was the collapse of state capitalism, of planned economy. It was not the end of our type of communism, it was the start or the coming back of our own communism.

Worker-communism came to power after the October revolution in 1917 but couldn’t stay in power for long and was replaced with another movement that we had in Russia at that time, the bourgeois-liberals who wanted a powerful Russia, who wanted to change the situation of Russia from the most backward country in Europe to the most advanced one. And they did that. As a result we had a superpower which was called the Soviet Union and the very success of that industrialisation movement of Russia and the formation of state capitalism under the name of socialism was a blow to worker-communism.

When you look at it in this way then the collapse of the Soviet Union was a new opportunity, an opening for worker-communism to come back and reclaim its position. In fact we are raising that banner again and declare that the collapse of the Soviet Union has nothing to do with us. We had been defeated 60 years before the collapse of the Berlin wall - with the formation of State capitalism in the Soviet Union and the rise of the Eastern Bloc.

In turn their defeat underlines our credibility and our critique of the whole type of Soviet-style communism.

When we formed the CPI some 30 years ago one of our main points was that with the rise of the Soviet Union we had a new type of capitalism and not socialism.

We radically criticised the experience of the Soviet Union. So we had that banner already when the Soviet Union collapsed. Theoretically we knew what was happening, but politically it was a way of showing our credibility; it confirmed that our views were correct. So in this sense this was a new beginning of worker-communism.

How was the formation of the WPI received by the people, governments and the media?

When the WPI was established communism was on the retreat according to the media and the governments and also in the public sphere. The public doesn’t necessarily differentiate between the different types of communism like we do. To them the Soviet Union was the core and the base of mainstream communism. And when the Soviet Union collapsed public opinion was convinced that communism is done. It’s gone. And of course everything was controlled by the bourgeois media and governments all over the world. At that time we didn’t have social media. So the whole media was enforcing the view that communism is done. So in that sense establishing a worker-communist party was not very popular with the people.

We had a lot to do to change that image and we have been doing it for the last 22 years and still today that is one of the big challenges - to change the idea that what the Soviet Union and the whole Eastern Bloc created was communism, and advocate and propagate what we think real communism, real socialism is.

When we established the WPI it wasn't very popular even within the left because many parties and organisations were busy changing their names at that time. For them it was the end as well. Even some leftist groups, like Trotskyists, who were identified by anti-Stalinism - criticising the Soviet Union for lack of democracy – found themselves in a difficult position. When the Soviet Union as such was finished this sort of anti-Sovietism was finished as well. Organisations and parties changed their names and their goals, they went for what they had wanted right from the beginning, so then they went for nationalism, for industrialisation, for human rights or democracy so to speak. Many of them concluded from the collapse of the Soviet Union that what was missing in their communism recipe was democracy!

So now they had become fighters for democracy and fought under that banner. And they were criticising Marxism and communism and they based their explanation on what was happening at the time on the collapse of communism.

In this atmosphere worker-communism was an against the current movement, it was going in the opposite direction. We declared that everything that was happening wasn’t the end of communism but rather a new opening for worker-communism to come back to the mainstream of the political events in the world. And that is what we have been doing.

The last two decades have been the history of fighting for establishing worker-communism as the mainstream communism in the world. That was the new challenge in front of us.

Do you think if the events back then hadn’t happened you would still be with the same party?

In history you can’t ask that sort of question. It’s very hard to speculate about that sort of thing.

We didn’t wait for the collapse of the Soviet Union to come to the conclusion that the Soviet-style wasn’t our brand of communism. Quite the opposite. From the beginning of our activities 30 years ago in the late 70s and with the revolution in Iran in 79 we knew that communism and socialism are not represented by the Soviet Union. And we already had it in our old party programme that what was happening in China and Russia had nothing to do with socialism or communism. We didn’t need the collapse of the Soviet Union to find out that the way we saw the world, the way we identified our party with socialism and communism had nothing to do with the Soviet Union.

The collapse became a major political factor all over the world. As a result everything changed. Not only in the Eastern Bloc but also in the Western Bloc because they were opposing a bloc that didn’t exist anymore. So with that comes the crisis of the US which had to prove its hegemony, its leadership.

This was the basis of the New World Order, the basis for the invasion of Iraq, and the second war in Iraq and the invasion of Afghanistan. It was the basis for the rise of political Islam in the Middle East and all over the world. The war between the two camps of terrorism, the neo-conservatism in the West and political Islam on the other front. The whole situation in the world was changing.

All of these were new challenges that had to be analysed and with worker-communism you could explain them from the workers point of view, from the masses of the world’s point of view. So worker-communism is not only explaining its differences with the old type of communism but especially explaining the New World Order, and its causes. What was the cause and the reason for what happened in the previous Yugoslavia, what happened in the Middle East. The reason for the First Gulf War. The reason for September 11. What is the reason for having political Islam all over the world. We were and still are at the forefront of fighting against those reactionary, backward forces that were released by the New World Order and are active all over the world especially in the Middle East. 

The WPI emerged in this environment.

How many formed the core of the new party and where were you?

When we formed our party Mansoor Hekmat and most of the members of the leadership of the new party were in Europe but the majority of the cadres were in Kurdistan. We were a few hundred cadres and members of the old party, the CPI.

Even when we started we were one of the biggest parties in Iran and the Middle East because at that time with the collapse of the Soviet Union you couldn’t find any longer many communist parties at all - most of them were soul searching and sitting and explaining and reassessing the position of their party and what they should do. So in this context the WPI even at the very beginning was one of the most powerful and biggest communist parties in the Middle East and all over the world.

But of course we weren’t satisfied with what we were. We were very active and started to grow in numbers.

We were very active right from the very beginning, not only from a political and theoretical but also from a practical aspect. We had many new ways of practice, new areas for our fights.

We had different aspects of activities in Iran that we were organising against the Islamic Republic, against political Islam, against women’s situation in Iran, against the Islamic forces who were becoming active in the Middle East and its extension as a global movement which we called Political Islam. We had to organise and fight for secularism and organise internationally against capital punishment and stoning. We were leading a movement in defence of children’s rights, for refugee rights, a labour movement against Islamic labour laws, against Islamic-police organs in working places, advocating general assembly and genuine worker councils, in defence of women rights and against gender apartheid, and so on.

So from the very beginning the WPI was very active, involved in fights for the rights of different groups of people, not only in Iran but all over the world in fact. And then of course criticising and explaining what is happening with the New World Order. But we were going for the new challenges from the point of view of the working class, the masses of people. That was the difference.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union everyone said how nice and civilised and peaceful the world would become as if the source of all the problems in the world was the Soviet Union. And now the Soviet Union was gone and everything was nice and good and there wouldn’t be any more problems. That was the view they wanted to sell to the world.

At that time of the so-called victory of the free market, the victory of the liberal democracy of the West, many of the so-called leftist or communist groups and parties were thinking somehow to join this universal celebration.

But we explained right from the beginning that the carnival for democracy and free market is not going to last long. We foresaw that the world is going to be much worse than what they were saying. Mansoor Hekmat in ‘The Gory Dawn of the New World Order’ explained that this celebration of the victory of the West is not going to last and the whole Western Bloc is going to collapse because it has no meaning anymore. And in this New World Order we will see the rise of the most backward and most reactionary forces that are coming to the fore and going to rule. And that is exactly what happened. And in this sense the party that had a real and thoughtful explanation of the new world and was ready and was involved in the day to day struggle on different fronts, in Iran and abroad, against capitalism and its New World Order was the WPI.

How do you think being an exile and opposition party has influenced your politics?

Being an exile party is nothing new for revolutionary communist parties.

In almost every revolution you see that the revolutionary forces are mainly in exile. For obvious reasons - as you have mainly dictatorships in those countries that wouldn’t let you be active inside the country.

The same thing happened to us. We were very active in Iran, then three years after the toppling of the Shah's regime we had to flee to Kurdistan which was mainly free at that time. We had to retreat there and establish the party there. And after that the Islamic Republic’s forces that we were fighting got the upper hand in Kurdistan as well. The Islamic Republic of Iran was established in the whole country even Kurdistan so we had to leave Kurdistan as well and go into exile. That is nothing new in the communist movement. It’s not the exception but the rule.

But nowadays with the new technology, social media and new ways of international communication, it is not a decisive factor whether you are outside or inside Iran. Of course we have our activists and our organisation in Iran, it is mainly our leadership that is outside of Iran - for obvious reasons as we are not allowed to be active in Iran. We are not even allowed to be alive in Iran! Radical communist parties have to be active in exile – that’s the political reality of our time.

Thursday, 24 October 2013

The issue in Syria is Assad’s regime

Hamid Taqvaee

In a CNN interview on the issue of military attack against Syria, the question was put: Does getting rid of Assad's chemical weapons solve the problem of the Syrian people? The speaker gave a vague reply, and in effect dodged the issue. However, this simple question betrays the hypocrisy behind the recent fanfare over the destruction of Assad regime’s chemical weapons as a ‘solution’ to the Syrian crisis. By reducing the Syrian question to the use of chemical weapons, the fact is covered up that the overwhelming proportion of that regime’s carnage is carried out using conventional weapons, and that the problem of the Syrian people is the regime itself and not just its use of chemical weapons. Just like the issue of Iran’s nuclear weapons, which is highlighted so as to cover up the main issue for the Iranian people, namely the Islamic Republic itself.

In the case of Syria, however, this sort of reduction of the issue of the regime in the analysis of the Syrian crisis is not limited to Western governments; a large section of the anti-American left and anti-war activists do the same. In their analyses too, which present the Russian-American confrontation or the conflict amongst the Islamic forces as the main issues in the Syrian question, the issue of the Assad regime is willy-nilly sidelined.

From the viewpoint of the Syrian people and their heroic revolution, a revolution which was drowned in blood, the very existence of the Assad regime is at the heart of what is called the Syrian crisis. This crisis is the result of the response of the Syrian regime and the various reactionary forces in the region and around the world to a revolution which the Syrian people started two and a half years ago. These forces are now aligned around the Russian and American blocs. However, the cause of the current situation is not the rivalry between these two blocs. Furthermore, the Syrian crisis is not the result of the West’s war with political Islam, what our party called the “war of terrorists”. Such analyses belong to the past, to the time of the Cold War, to the world after 9/11, and not the world after the Tunisian revolution. A political conclusion of such analyses is to equate the Assad regime to the other reactionary forces, to see it as just another terrorist among terrorists, thus to make a travesty of the central issue of the revolution: the overthrow of the regime. It should be noted, above all, that unlike the time of the war of terrorists, the American military threat against Syria is not a means for the USA of reasserting its supremacy following the end of the Cold War. It is, rather, a response to conditions which essentially the uprising of the people of Syria against Assad, and, on a more basic and strategic level, the revolutions in the Middle East have brought about. The war on Iraq (at the time of both Bushes) and the war in Afghanistan followed and served an aggressive and domineering policy, aiming to bring the forces of the Western bloc once again under American leadership. The pretext for this aggressive militarism, especially after 9/11, was the war on Islamic terrorism. With the political failures of the US in Afghanistan and Iraq, and, later, with the collapse of Wall Street in the winter of 2008 and the onset of the world capitalist crisis, the neo-conservative militarism which had led the West in the war of terrorists, was marginalised. Obama came into office with a platform to end the wars and ‘to extend a hand’ to those ‘willing to unclench [their] fist’. However, from a social and political viewpoint and on a wider and deeper level, what put an end to that era was the Tunisian revolution and, following that, the revolutions known as the Arab Spring. People who had been crushed under those reactionary wars raised themselves up and overthrew long-standing dictators allied to and supported by the West. Thus, there began a period whose identifying feature was no longer the war of the two terrorist camps, the unbridled domination of political Islam and neo-conservative militarism, but the confrontation of revolution and counter-revolution: on one side, the revolutionary people fighting for bread, freedom and human dignity; on the other, the whole array of reactionary, bourgeois forces, i.e. Islamists, the regimes in the region and the Western governments. This situation can no longer be explained by such concepts as ‘the war of terrorists’, ‘the New World Order’, ‘the Dark Scenario’, etc. The latter are the political concepts of a bygone time. Thus, they do not provide a correct approach to the current situation.

It is clear that the end of the war of terrorists does not mean that the American and other Western states have given up on war and military attacks, or that the Islamists have given up on terrorism and killing people. It means that the actions of these forces, including their military operations against each other – and today, at times, alongside each other – are essentially in reaction to revolutions, so as to hijack and defeat them and to contain the situation after the fall of the dictators. In Tunisia, Libya, Egypt and today in Syria we have been witnessing precisely this sort of military and political interventions by the forces of the two blocs, which previously stood against each other. The Syrian experience, which is the subject of this discussion, clearly exhibits this new alignment of the forces in the camps of revolution and counter-revolution. (We have previously talked at length about the Tunisian, Egyptian and Libyan experiences and the actions of the Western governments and Islamists against those revolutions; so the interested reader can refer to those texts.) There is no ongoing revolution in Syria today; however, the issue, which the revolution has raised and put on the agenda, i.e. the overthrow of the Assad regime, remains the key issue of the Syrian crisis. The reactionary forces involved in the civil war in Syria, i.e. Russia, the Iranian regime and the Lebanese Hezbollah (in the bloc supporting Assad), and the Western governments, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Qatar and the Islamists allied to them (in the bloc opposing Assad) have all come out in reaction to a revolution which started two and a half years ago and which, like every other revolution, turned the question of the state into the main question of society. The Islamic regime of Iran rightly sees the Syrian revolution and the fall of Assad as the run-up to its own downfall. For Russia, the revolutionary overthrow of Assad means losing a sphere of influence it has traditionally held in the Middle East. What motivates Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates is the fear of the spread of the revolution into their territories and especially the formation of a secular state after Assad. Just like the regime in Iran, they too ultimately want to control the situation in Syria, but by going past Assad; after his downfall. The Western governments, as we saw in the other revolutions in the region, follow the policy of management of the crisis with a minimal harm to their interests and objectives. Clearly, all these players have their own internal strife and conflicts; the key point, however, is that the issue of Syria, unlike the period of the clash of the two terrorist camps, is not the outcome of such confrontations. The Syrian crisis has not come about by the Salafi-Alawite war. The carnage and the devastation are not the products of ethnic or religious cleansing in a ‘dark-scenario’ type situation. Unlike the Cold War, the Syrian crisis is not the result of a Soviet-American clash, as, for example, in the Bay of Pigs invasion. The Syrian crisis, and the massacre and devastation wrought on the people, are above all, and fundamentally, a product of the systematic and brutal suppression of the Syrian revolution and the revolutionary people of Syria by the Assad regime. The Islamic regime of Iran, the Lebanese Hezbollah and Russia are all directly and actively involved in this suppression, and are accessories to the crimes of the Assad regime. It was with the direct support of these forces that the Assad regime from day one opened fire on the people, from ground and air, with snipers, missiles, tanks and helicopters. It was inevitable that in the face of such a savage attack, the revolution would take up arms. A section of the army, as in most revolutions, mutinied and went over to the side of the people. However, essentially due to the absence of an organised revolutionary left force able to organise and lead the revolutionary war of the people against the regime, ultra-reactionary Islamist forces, backed by Turkey and Saudi Arabia, stepped in and got the upper hand. In the meantime, the US and Western bloc followed their general policy towards the revolutions in the region, namely dealing with the crisis with minimal changes. However, mainly due to the Russian factor, i.e. the historical alignment of Syria to the Soviet camp, prior to its alignment to political Islam, the West did not possess the leverage for the direct management of the crisis in its own favour. Here the USA needed to come to terms with Russia. And today, following the American threat of military strike, it seems the chemical disarmament of the Assad regime could be the point of compromise between the two.

All these reactionary forces make up the various elements of the Syria crisis. They are fighting with each other, but against the revolution. There is no ongoing revolution in Syria today; however, the “danger” of the resurgence of the revolution, and the problem which the revolution has put on the table of all these forces, i.e. the very existence of the Assad regime, is still alive. The “threat of revolution” has become a main concern for all these reactionary forces, not just as a result of the mass movement that started in Syria two and a half years ago, but as a result of the revolutionary period ushered in by the Tunisian revolution. Their problem is not just the revolution in Syria, but the spectre of revolution engulfing the whole of the Middle East. In particular, for all the Islamists, from the Islamic regime in Iran to those in Turkey, Saudi Arabia and the Emirates, to the Hezbollah and the Salafis and Alawites, “the spectre of renouncing Islam that is haunting the Middle East and North Africa” is seen as a mortal and imminent danger. (See Mina Ahadi’s statement on the start-up of Ex-Muslim societies in Tunisia, Egypt and Morocco). Today the Islamists in the region are agitated, not over the “great Satan” and their share of political power – which was the issue for Islamic terrorism at the time of the war of terrorists – but over revolution, in particular revolutions that threaten the very existence of Islam and political Islam. The war of terrorists, with its specific issue and alignment of forces, has been consigned to history. However, the forces remaining from that time have taken to the scene again, this time in direct war against revolutions and revolutionary people. This is neither a ‘dark scenario’, nor a collection of different wars between different forces. This is a novel way of suppressing the revolution, in the manner of the new period, using, however, the tools, material and the residual forces of the previous one. The Salafis, Alawites, the Islamic regime of Iran, the USA, Hezbollah and Russia have all entered the fray; however, they have taken on new roles, which the new times, the time of revolutions, have assigned to them. They have all lined up against the revolution; are reacting to the revolutionary times.

Against all these forces, we must above all insist that the issue of Syria is still the issue of state power, and that the solution likewise is the overthrow of the Assad regime by the power of people’s revolution. We must mobilise a global movement around this perspective.

[Originally published in International, the Farsi-language weekly of the Worker-communist Party of Iran, issue 522, September 13, 2013. Translation: Bahram Soroush]