Safe havens for some?

THE RAISING of the Syrian flag in Salah-ed-din Square in the heart of Aleppo marked the defeat of the imperialist-backed rebel gangs in the country’s commercial capital last weekend. But while the Syrian army mops up the last of the rebels in Aleppo the imperialists were meeting in Turkey to plan the next moves of their Syrian pawns.

In Istanbul US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has announced that the United States and Turkey will study a range of new measures to try to overthrow the Syrian government, including a possible no-fly zone.

The “number one goal” of Washington and Ankara was to hasten the end of the government of Bashar al-Assad and stop the bloodshed, she said, also warning that Syria must not become a haven for Kurdish rebels fighting for self-determination in Turkey.

As far as imperialism is concerned “safe havens” can only exist if they are “safe” for Nato and their regional stooges. Nato air power provided “no-fly zones” for rebels to oust the Gaddafi government in Libya while tame Kurdish leaders of northern Iraq run their autonomous region under American protection.

Whether the north-eastern part of Syria, where the Kurdish minority live now, constitutes a “safe haven” is a matter of opinion. But there is no doubt that the largest haven for the Kurds is Turkey itself, where half the entire Kurdish population live and where the Kurdish Workers’ Party (PKK) has been fighting against Turkish oppression for years.

Last week the PKK went on the offensive with attacks on Turkish army posts and local politicians from the mainstream bourgeois parties including the kidnapping of a prominent member of the opposition in the Turkish parliament.

The “human rights” gang, so vociferous in trumpeting the claims of rebels in the pay of imperialism around the world, rarely champion the plight of the Kurds in Turkey. And next to nothing is said about what is going on in Arabia where hundreds of thousands of the oppressed are taking to the streets to challenge the rule of tyrants, whose thrones are propped up by American guns.

Bahraini and Saudi troops are on the streets of the oil-rich Gulf island trying to suppress opposition demands for a democratic constitution while protesters are now defying the might of the oil princes in the heart of Saudi Arabia.

The Saudi king and the other oil princes claim that Iran is behind the unrest amongst the Shia Muslims of Bahrain and eastern Arabia. But that’s only part of the story. The House of Saud uses the Sunni Muslim Wahabi [Unitarian] movement to divide and rule their subjects and justify their authority as Guardians of the Holy Cities of Mecca and Medina. They consequently marginalise the Shias who come from the poorest sections of Arabian society as “heretical” outsiders.

But while it’s true that millions of Shia Muslims look to the leaders of the Shia Islamic Republic of Iran for guidance and protection, it is equally true that millions of oppressed Shia and Sunni Muslims needed little encouragement to take to the streets, having lived for decades in relative poverty while their autocratic rulers wallow in the luxury that comes from their cut of the oil profits.

They are now playing the Sunni card in Syria and other parts of the Arab world to try to mobilise Arab opinion around a sectarian platform that targets the Shia Arab population and ultimately Iran itself.

Behind all of this lies the hand of Anglo-American and Franco-German imperialism, which have closed ranks within Nato to make a renewed bid for total control of the Middle East and the vast oil reserves the region possesses.