Natana J. DeLong-Bas, Deputy Editor of Oxford Islamic Studies Online, discusses the roots of sectarian divisions in the Middle East and the complex effects they continue to have on the political landscape in her latest focus on entitled “Sectarianism in the Age of Endless War.”

Image Credit: “Protests in Bahrain” by Sarah Hasan. CC BY SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

International statement on Syria and Iraq

We fight dictatorships, imperialist aggression and Daesh. We reject the politics of “national security”, racism and austerity. It’s time to mobilise!

Over recent months, people across the Middle East have been hit by an intensification of conflict in Syria and Iraq. That escalation has been sponsored both by global imperialist powers – chiefly the USA, Russia and European countries – and regional imperialist actors including Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey and Iran. These conflicts are the product of two distinct forms of counter-revolution: local dictatorships and counter-revolutionary regimes on one hand, and reactionary Islamic forces like Daesh on the other. The determination of major international and regional powers to impose their political and economic hegemony over the region is also a central cause of the current tragedy.

In Syria, the first form taken by the counter-revolution is support for the Assad regime. Russia’s deadly raids and the intervention of Iran, Hezbollah and sectarian Iraqi militias champion this profoundly reactionary, anti-democratic project. Assad is fuelled too by the mistrust Western powers routinely demonstrate towards democratic and revolutionary forces in Syria, including Kurdish forces.

Those fighting for a democratic and socially just future are the first targets of the Syrian regime, imperialists and their allies in the region. Syrian democratic forces are also the target of Islamic forces playing a counter-revolutionary role, supported at one time or another, directly or indirectly, by the Gulf monarchies and Turkey.

As always, women are the first victims of war. Rape, abduction and even the sale of women are gruesome outgrowths of the conflict.

What is Daesh? It is the creation both of international and regional imperialist aggressions and of the dictatorial, sectarian nature of regimes in the region, particularly in Iraq and Syria. The rise of sectarian tensions in the region is also the consequence of this deadly compound of domestic repression and external aggression.

It is in this context that we should understand the recent attacks in Ankara, Beirut, Paris, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Tunisia, and the attack on the Russian aircraft in Egypt. These attacks only strengthen the evil that spawned them – state terrorism.

The rhetoric of the “War on Terror” finds material expression in the ramping up of authoritarian state security policies, in war and in racism. Racism, particularly Islamophobia, has increased exponentially and has become state policy across Europe. Imperialist powers have used the rhetoric of counter-terrorism to justify their support for dictatorships and their restrictions on freedoms, while regional dictators have used the same language to defend their own repression.

Now it is this same overarching worldview that unites France, Russia, the US, Turkey and the Syrian regime – though each has its own particular interests – such that they coordinate, directly or indirectly, their strikes and military manoeuvres in Syria.

In the name of a war “against terrorism”, today the French state demands the power to terrorise. In the name of so-called “France values”, freedoms are being attacked. In an authoritarian headlong rush, François Hollande bombs Syria and Iraq while all the talk of war and noble “values” is unable to provide answers to the political and social aspirations of the French working classes. Meanwhile, undocumented migrants, refugees, Muslims, veiled women, the Roma, foreigners and others are all prone to being designated “enemies within”.

Throughout the wider Middle East, state repression of political opponents and social movements is on the rise; in Egypt and elsewhere, hundreds of death sentences have been issued in recent months.

In the face of the temporary demobilization and disorientation of large sectors of the oppressed, we must step up to the challenge with constructive initiatives. In practice that means:

– Oppose draconian policies; defend the democratic rights of everyone.

– Oppose all imperialist aggression, alongside implacable opposition to dictatorships and counter-revolutionary regimes.

– Oppose the Western military campaign in Syria, which includes bombing and other direct participation of Western military forces and also includes the armed participation in the conflict of forces supported by the West.

– Fight against all forms of counter-revolution in the Middle East and the Maghreb, as elsewhere.

– Fight repressive security policies, racism and austerity – whether in Europe, Asia or Africa.

– Fight “fortress Europe”; demand the opening of borders and decent living conditions for all refugees and migrants.

– Strengthen solidarity with people fighting for their liberation and emancipation in the Middle East, the Maghreb and around the world.

– Solidarity with democratic and progressive anti-imperialist forces throughout the Arab region.

– Solidarity with the people of the Middle East and the Maghreb in their legitimate struggles for emancipation and against foreign aggression: we insist that the emancipation of the people of the region will be the work of the people themselves.

Revolutionary Left Current – Syria

Socialist Forum – Lebanon

Revolutionary Socialists – Egypt

Workers’ Left League (LGO) – Tunisia

New Anticapitalist Party (NPA) – France

Socialist Workers Party (SWP) – Britain

Revolutionary Socialism in the 21st Century (rs21) – Britain

The Editors, Salvage – Britain

Revolutionary Communist League-Socialist Workers Party (LCR-SAP) – Belgium

SolidaritéS – Switzerland

International Socialists Scotland (ISS) – Scotland

Emancipation Démocratique – Morocco

Anticapitalistas (Estado Espanol) – Spain

Socialist Resistance – UK

Sosyalist Demokrasi İçin Yeni Yol – Turkey

Internationale Socialisten – Netherlands

International Socialist Organization (ISO) – USA

Socialist Alternative – Australia

En lucha-En lluita – Spanish State

Why is Iraq being torn apart? |

This truly is the BEST and most CLARIFYING article available for understanding the unraveling situation in Iraq from a genuinely antiwar and progressive standpoint.


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An intensifying civil war–with its roots in the U.S. invasion and occupation–is ripping Iraq apart and threatening sectarian conflict across the region.

Ashley Smith provides the essential background for understanding Iraq’s crisis.

Please VOTE for Syria

Please sign this petition that calls that the Presenter #Faisal Al Qassem and AL #Jazeera News Network (Qatar channel) to be presented to Justice because of incitement to a genocide of a minority religious group in Syria.

The petition will be sent to Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International Office of the Special Advisor on The Prevention of #Genocide and Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights . We need 2000 more votes.

To brief you of the video posted with the petition. It shows an episode of Faisal Al Qasem’s program on Al Jazeera aired on May 5th 2015 asking people to vote on a #pole that asks; Do you think Alawites have brought on themselves whatever might come to them next? Then the presenter starts reading out answers like those quotes from the episode: 1. “the better question should be shall we impale(pierce with sharp objects) Alawites? Shall we erase the Alawites and wipe out their existence including their children?

                    2.  “Alawites are demons” and the presenter then says no “ Even Demons are ashamed of their existence”

                   3. Then the presenter mutters out his opinion and says: “It is the right of the people to #SLAUGHTER all #Alawites”.

These are just a few of what was said in this #SECTARIAN episode that for 47 minutes discussed how this religious group should be slaughtered. Just as a note for those who don’t know this is exactly what ISIS, Islamic army, Nusra Front and other extreme Islamic groups are doing to this sect together with other minorities and christians because they consider them evil groups against “true” islam.  So basically this episode was asking people to help #ISIS to slaughter those minorities on live international tv !!

The petition says that this episode and many of the quotes chosen are a clear violation of the United Nation’s treaty of Prevention and Punishment against Genocides (9 December 1948 article 3 paragraph C) that for sure is a part of Direct and public incitement to commit genocide.

Please help the Syrians get this #petition to the Human Rights and get those criminals into a court and OFF television. 

Please sign and reblog.

Petition link here

“As every prophet, sectarian, free spirit, socialist, and churchman understands, the word ‘truth’ is a thorough-going proof that the process of self-overcoming and the discipline of spirit needed to find some small bit of truth has not even begun.”

—F. Nietzsche, The Anti-Christ, §53 (edited excerpt).
The sectarian myth of Iraq | Sami Ramadani

Sami Ramadani: We coexisted peacefully for centuries, and need neither brutal dictators nor western intervention.

 … Every tribe in Iraq has Sunnis and Shia in its ranks. Every town and city has a mix of communities. My experience of Iraq, and that of all friends and relatives, is that of an amazing mix of coexisting communities, despite successive divide-and-rule regimes.

The most serious sectarian and ethnic tensions in Iraq’s modern history followed the 2003 US-led occupation, which faced massive popular opposition and resistance. The US had its own divide-and-rule policy, promoting Iraqi organisations founded on religion, ethnicity, nationality or sect rather than politics …

 … Until the 1970s nearly all Iraq’s political organisations were secular, attracting people from all religions and none. The dividing lines were sharply political, mostly based on social class and political orientation.
At least 25 Shia Muslim pilgrims have been killed after gunmen opened fire on a bus in western Pakistan, officials said.

The pilgrims had been travelling through Mastung in Balochistan province on their way to the Iranian border when the attack happened.

Several other people were injured, some critically, Pakistani media reported.

No group has admitted carrying out the attack but police say they believe the motive was sectarian.

Sunni and Shia extremists have frequently clashed and launched attacks on each other over the past 20 years.

Police said the bus, carrying more than 30 Shia pilgrims, had come from the provincial capital Quetta and was heading for the border town of Taftan.

Two motorcycles blocked its path as it travelled though Mastung and three gunmen stormed the vehicle, local tribal policeman Dadullah Baluch told the Associated Press news agency.

Shia Muslims are a minority in Pakistan.

It was the deadliest attack against Shias in Pakistan since a suicide bomber killed at least 57 people at a Shia rally in Quetta in September 2010.