The Realities Behind the Attacks in Istanbul

Crocodile tears

News about possible attacks on Turkey which have been appearing for some time in the foreign press have now turned into reality. The explosions in Istanbul were added to the series of bombing attacks claimed –or said to be perpetrated– by Al-Qaeda. On 15 November 25 people were murdered and nearly 300 were injured by the attacks aimed at two synagogues. Hardly five days passed before two bombs exploded in front of the HSBC in Levent and the British consulate in Taksim, causing 30 deaths and over 400 injured. After the events, the officials from many countries made statements as usual and almost competed with each other in condemning terror. Various comments were mixed up in this mess created by the ruling circles. The main point was, though, clear; representetives of imperialist and capitalist states tried to play the innocent on this occasion, hiding behind a common enemy they created: “international terror”.

The realities behind these attacks in fact reveal the disgusting nature of the imperalist capitalist system that survives only by degenerated, rotten and gangster-like methods. Messages of condolences –which mean nothing but fulfilment of a diplomatic commonplace among various bourgeois powers of the world– are only crocodile tears of the rulers. The number of innocent people died or injured in these attacks does not trouble these imperialist and capitalist masters. They are troubled when their profits fall or stock market prices go down. Quite suitably for them, even before the bodies and injured people were not lifted from the ground, the TV channels began to broadcast appeasing news about the stock exchange giving the message: “Thank God! There has been no dangerous fall in the stock exchange.”

The comments made by different circles of capitalist power on the bomb attacks in Istanbul varied according to their interests. We live in an increasing pollution of comments. But there is no doubt that the consequences of these suicide acts in Istanbul cannot be considered independent from the imperialist war in Iraq, the recent developments in the Middle East, the Israel-Palestine conflict, etc. Indeed all comments in the bourgeois media, despite great variance, center around these problems. Moreover, the imperialist circles go even further to relate the impact of these events with Turkey–EU relations and with the Cyprus question. While these attacks caused many dead and injured people and grief on the part of their relatives, the ruling powers who had paved the way to these events try to carry on their malicious acts hiding behind a talk of “terror”.

Bush, who was on a visit to Britain during these events, declared hand in hand with Blair to the world that they will finish their task and stay in Iraq untill they defeat global terrorism. The USA tries to capitalise on the attacks to pull Turkey towards herself and reinforce the alliance between Turkey and Israel. She forces the Turkish establishment to solve the question of Cyprus as soon as possible. Europe, on the other hand, does the usual: to declare that these attacks have also targeted Europe as a whole and that they are with Turkey. On the other hand the European authorities remind in a polite way that while these bombing attacks do not harm the EU process of Turkey she should however fulfil her duties towards the EU as soon as possible. Thus, while innocent people are killed and injured and masses are terrorized by “possible new attacks”, imperialist powers take advantage of these events as new opportunities to carry on their policies.

Those who are directly responsible from the death of innocent people in Iraq, great sufferings of Palestinian people under the fire of Israel, ruined villages in Turkish Kurdistan now utter cynical cries of “war against terror”. If what we see in Istanbul is terror as they name it, what they have done is multiple terror. The imperialist powers and their native partners now cling to the xxx of terror in order to enforce reactionary arrangements in order to suppress the struggle of workers and toiling masses in their countries.

Terror means horror. And all the wars caused by the imperialist powers in order to redevide spheres of influence in the world are full of great horrors that made masses face unimaginable devastation. Besides, rulers of the attacked country resort to the instrument of terror in order to preserve their territorial integrity or sphere of power. Thus terror inevitably gives birth to terror. It is highly probable that these bombing acts will continue. We need no special information or great wit in order to guess this. Even if we leave all other factors aside, Istanbul or any other city of the world will be rocked by bombs perhaps many more times just due to the events provoked by the war the US has been waging in Afghanistan and Iraq or her calculations about regime changes in the Middle East.

“Conspiracy theories”

Even if we call the bombing attacks, which took the lives of many innocent prople and left many disabled, terror the real forces that have created and nurtured this are nothing but the imperialist and capitalist rulers leering behind the so-called terrorist organizations. That’s why we have to see that in the final analysis those organizations that claimed these attacks play into the hands of the imperialist powers no matter what their identity, nature or goal is. Such an argument is neither contrary to reality nor a conspiracy theory. Since it is frequently on the agenda nowadays, let us make clear that it is certainly not falling into the trap of conspiracy theories to admit the role of American (or other) imperialism in the formation of organizations like Al-Qaeda. This aspect of the matter is so clear that there is no need to go into the complex relations of the secret services of bourgeois states to understand it. Even if the organisation that claimed or indeed organized these acts is Al-Qaeda, the main factor that creates the enviroment for this kind of bloody operations is unquestionably the aggressive plans of the American imperialism. Indeed this fact finds expression in the cries of ordinary toiling people who have lost their loved ones in the bombing attacks in Istanbul.

History of class society is full of secrets of the ruling powers and we cannot exactly know the dark and hidden sides of events until all resources and archives are seized. But there is no point in forcing ourselves not to see clear evidences with a view to not giving credit to conspiracy theories. Remember the discussions in the bourgeois press or TV channels. In fact it is the first rate pro-American ideologists who cry out “we should not explain the events by conspiracy theories”, who seek to make people in the Middle East and Turkey not see the realities. That’s why it is very crucial to be aware about these points and not to go to the extremes. The real conspiracy theorizing that we should object to is trying to confuse minds by attributing these events to mysterious forces without seeing obvious facts and thus create a big confusion. As a matter of fact “deep” organizations of the bourgeois state, its intelligence services and their commentators, idelogists are very competent at producing and spreading conspiracy theories that mispresents the reality.

It is clearly known that Al-Qaeda, the so-called organizer of bombing attacks in Istanbul, was created and fed by American imperialism itself against the Soviet Union who waged a war in Afghanistan. But later on the balances have changed and the US and Al-Qaeda seemed to have broken with. After the collapse of the Soviet Union the US appeared as the agressive power in Afghanistan. The American imperialism announced by new reports of strategy that it will embark on regime changes in accordance with its interests in the Middle East as a whole and in Saudi Arabia in particular. In the final analysis, Al-Qaeda and other so-called Islamic organizations are seeds of the US and the US still uses their acts as excuses for her war plans. Indeed, Al-Qaeda’s attack on the Twin-towers on 11 September 2001 formed the basis of the imperialist war of the US in the Middle East under the name of “war against international terror”.

Bourgeois reaction can appear as radical Islam, Zionism or Christian mission; but this variation in form has no meaning for the working class. It is the ruling bourgeoise that tries to draw benefits from making religion a tool of politics. For workers and toiling masses religion is but an opium that is good for forgetting unbearable squeeze of capitalist society and the reality of exploitation. In order to pursue their own interests, the ruling powers have always tried to make peoples massacre one another throughout history under the guise of religious wars. The modern bourgeois of today are never free from this generalisation. Indeed, the US presented its new plan of attack in the Middle East and Eurasia on the whole as “clash of religions” or “clash of civilisations”. Imperialists have always exploited religious differences between peoples in order to attain their goals. They have created and stregthened political Islam insofar as they saw benefit in it. For instance radical Islam was no bad at all for US imperialism when a green belt was needed in the Middle East and Asia against the hegemony of the Soviet Union. But as soon as the world situation changed and these tools were no more needed, it became bad. And once they rebelled against their sponsor, it was decided that they deserved elimination.

As it was the case with 11 September, the bombings in Istanbul will be used as an excuse for the war plans of the US to reshape the Middle East. Thus we should be highly aware in the face of this propaganda campaign which is organized by the ideological apparatus of the ruling forces in order to divert the attention of the toiling masses from the reality of war towards a hazy talk of terror. As bombing attacks in Istanbul clearly shows it is a safe way for the bourgeoise to present these kind of acts as mere terror events. In fact these attacks are not simple terrorist acts but part of the state of war iniated by the attack of US imperialism with a view to reshaping of spheres of influence in the Middle East.

Today Al-Qaeda together with all its sub-organisations represents one of the warring parties in this war. Symbolised in the leadership of Osama bin Laden and notorious with serial suicide bombings at various places in the world, it is one of ruling forces demanding power in Saudi Arabia. Al-Qadea’s purpose is not to mar the situation of American imperialism and its allies and thus to serve the oppressed masses of the world. Its purpose is to wage its own war, to get itself known and try to get itself accepted, using terror as an instrument. Therefore these attacks are not ordinary individual terrorist acts, which can easily be eradicated by the bourgeoise intelligence services.

In fact all these attacks are part of the violence caused by the war that is being waged at the moment. Now this is exactly the fundamental reality the ruling powers of capital, which initiate these imperialist wars, support them and directly take sides by participating in war coalition, do not want the masses to grasp. Since it will become impossible to fool the masses by fairytales of terror whose source or timing is uncertain once this burning reality is grasped by the workers and toiling masses. The possibility of a block formed by organised forces of workers and toiling masses against the imperialist war is the nightmare of all bourgeois of the world. For that reason the bourgeois media does its best mobilising all its assets to present the acts of violence caused by the state of war as individual terror events. Here lies the distortion. Moreover, if we are to express the violence of war by the word terror then the US state is the number one terrorist organization of the world.

The fairytale of “innocent Turkey”

The Turkish Government authorities stated that these attacks were not aimed at Turkey but Israel and Britain. This attitude reflects an effort to cover expansionist ambitions of Turkey and picture Turkey as a neutral innocent state in the region. Some bourgeois writers on the other hand think that it is Turkey which is the real target and ask why the terrorists have made such a decision. They pretend to be innocent arguing that Turkey is a symbol of peace and democracy in the region as if they do not know the answer. “Why Turkey!” they ask. Whom do the state forces represent other than the capitalist Turkey, when they took responsibility in the highest level in the US operations in Afghanistan, when they decided to assign a former Minister of Foreign Affairs as governer in accordance with NATO resolution, when they violated Kurds’ right of self-determination, when they sought power in Northern Iraq and thus tried to pass motions from parliament for an intervention against Iraq?

The Turkish ruling forces who pursue new interests in the region within the context of reshaping of the Middle East by the US imperialism are directly on one side in today’s war no matter how much they quarrel among themselves or despite their bargaining with the US or other imperialist powers. If they have not yet actually led Turkey into the war in Iraq it is not because they want to constitute a model of peace and democracy in the region. The real reason of this situation is that, although they have passed a motion, their demand is not accepted by the US for the time being. Both decisions of Turkish rulers –participating in the war coalition in Afghanistan and not being able to participate in Iraq– are taken as result of big partner’s advices and demands. Turkey’s ruling forces have long been able to make Turkey the target of anti-American forces in the region with their desire to participate in the long term strategic plans of the US both in the Middle East and in Eurasia in general.

Moreover, the Turkish bourgeoise is directly a side in one of the bleeding problems of the Middle East, i.e. the Kurdish national question, as an oppressing force; a side whose cruelty is very well documented. Likewise Turkey is the closest ally of Israel which has for years tortured the Palestinian people, i.e. another oppressed nation of the Middle East. Since Turkey, as a continuation of an empire, considers it natural for her to rule other peoples, in recent years she persist her attitude of “non-solution” both on the Kurdish and Cyprus questions. This attitude irritates the US and EU who demand a solution in acordance with their own imperial plans. While trying to restore her relations with the US after a cool period, Turkey has not yet been able to overcome the obstacle of Kurdish organizations who have been chosen by the US as allies in the “restructuring” operation in Iraq. The Kurdish question is now directly on the agenda of the US. She is under pressure both from Turkey (“destroy PKK”) and Talabani and Barzani (“you cannot solve anything in Iraq if you try to deceive us as you did in the past”). Although the Turkish state announces that it has come to an agreement with the US on the liquidation of PKK from Northern Iraq we should not forget what the Bush administration ordered Turkey : “You cannot send military forces to Northern Iraq”.

It is clear that Northern Iraq is the only relatively stable area and neither Kurdish groups in Northern Iraq nor the US desire any changes in this situation. However Turkey’s concerns about a possible new formation in Northern Iraq are still there. The Turkish state circles, both the government and the military, are highly concerned that the Kirkuk oil area (third largest petroleum reserves in Iraq) would be seized by Kurds. They are aware this will form a very sound economical base for a probable Kurdish state in this region. For this reason Turkey’s ambition to intervene in Northern Iraq is not done away with yet. The Turkish rulers now hold Turkmen card in their hands to destabilise the region. After the fall of Saddam’s regime, Turkey does her best in order to escalate the tension between Kurdish groups and Turkmen in Northern Iraq. Even after the US instructed the Turkish Army not to send troops to Norhtern Iraq, Hilmi Özkök, Chief of General Staff, declares: “The Turkmen are in need of protection. If a possibility of massacre arises, Turkey cannot stay disinterested.”

Behaving in a more cautious manner, considering differents risks, on the face of it and apparently more reluctant on sending troops to Iraq, the TUSIAD (Association of Turkish Industrialists and Businessmen) reflects many-sided demands of Turkish big capital. The TUSIAD wants no conflict with the US, that Turkey’s EU membership come through and that Turkish companies get good shares in the post-war construction business. And not only that. Tuncay Özilhan, chairman of the TUSIAD, announces that they attach great importance to the investments in Russia. “Russia is a potentially big prospect in our international business.” The Turkish capital, very eager to become the partner of the US in the region, nowadays has its eye also on Russian sphere of rule, which is in the restructuring list of the US imperialism. As shown by the recent developments in Georgia, near future is pregnant with new clashes.

Bourgeois ideology should not be credited

After the collapse of the Soviet Union the US remained almost without any rivals thanks to its enormous strenght in war industry. The collapse of the Soviet Union and so-called socialist bloc put an end to the state of balance that prevailed after the Second World War, i.e. during the period called “cold war”. Thus the US thrusted forward as the hegemonic power of the capitalist system in order to reshape various spheres of influence in accordance with her own interests. The new strategy of the US is to reinforce its hegemony in the face of potentially new powers like Russia and China and not to let others take the lead in the future. This fact does not mean that there will be no rival imperialist powers or the US can do whatever she wants in every corner of the world thanks to its gigantic war machine. However its power to change balances gave the US so much courage that she can carelessly think of getting plots in all spheres of influence in the new period.

The challange of the US imperialism under the Bush administration is not a temporary inclination; it results from a need to keep and further develop its superioty in the period of re-shaping the spheres of influence. It is perfectly possible that Bush and co. follow wrong paths, spoil everything or make many tactical mistakes while trying to fulfil strategical necessities of this period. For this reason the US administration will be bitterly criticised both by native opposition and by other imperialist centers of power. But these facts do not change the strategical realities that lie behind. As the war in Afghanistan and Iraq show, the intention of the US is not to eradicate these states form the map or make these lands her colonies but to make regime changes in accordance with her interests. To bring obedient forces to power and then jump into another area. To what extent it can manage this, will be determined by the imperialist war that is going on.

The outspoken representative of American imperialism, Bush, was trying to point out a reality when he said the war in the Middle East would be a long one. And when he announced the end of the war in Iraq on 1 May after the fall of Baghdat, he did not mean that the war in the Middle East was over. He tried to secure a strong political position by giving the message that the job in Iraq is done in a very short time and now new targets are on the agenda. We wrote at that time: “the imperialist war is still going on!”[1] After the fall of Baghdad the imperialist war went on to occupy Iraq and the appearance of a quiet summer was nothing but part of the plans for new attacks. As a matter of fact as soon as attacks on occupation forces in Iraq began to increase, the US once again intensified the vilonce of war in Iraq. And those who wrote about the end of war had to admit that the war started again and the situation was like that before May. It is the style of bourgeois press to make daily comments in paralel with short term ups and downs in the course of events. This style makes them miss the general strategy while following the tactical zigzags closely. Though they are in the same category in essence the left liberals always carry bourgeois influence into the socialist movement with their apparently more serious and comprenshive comments.

Since the election of Bush, a caricature of “idiot Bush” filled this kind of press. Unfortunately we can see such attributes also in the socialist press. The point here is not of course a debate on Bush’s IQ. However, though employed with good intentions, such attributes may go out of control and prove counterproductive such that they can create an ambiguity in relation to grasping the developments. For instance, false or careless characterizations that can lead to relating the conflicts or wars which serve imperialist interests to stupid strategies of some bourgeoise politicians would serve the bourgeois ideology in the end. This kind of comments play into the hands of the bourgeoise opposition. They push the workers and toiling masses to the arms of such an anti-war movement that is confined within the boundaries of the order. However stupid or crazy may seem the acts of the US hawks for ordinary people who want to lead a relatively peaceful and restful daily life, wars do not result from caprices and adventurous leanings of stupid or crazy administrators. As we frequently repeat, war is the continuation of politics by other means.

When talk exhausts its use in negotiation tables, the clash of arms is heard in international political settling of accounts. This has been so throughout the history of capitalism and this truth has proved itself in its imperialist stage in a much more strikingly and fascinating way with two great division wars. There is no essential difference today in this respect. The period of “cold war” came to an end by the termination of the state of balance between the two super powers after the collapse of the Soviet Union. And we witness the period of hot wars one following another. The main reason was clearly not that the US had a stupid president when the imperialist powers turned the Balkans into bloodbath with regional wars and drove the people to massacres in poor countries of Africa to settle their scores. The European administrators who pretend to be against war boasting to represent the civilised world or those American politicians who try to become world-saving democrats by eliminating Bush and co. were sides in these bloody wars of division.

The real mind confusers in the struggle of the working class against capitalist order are not –as in the example of Bush– “stupids” who openly tell the realities of the system. On the contrary it is the clever politicians and ideologists who present themselves as good-hearted democrats and try to camouflage the sharp edges of capitalism. Because they blame Bush and the like for all evil in the system that can be apperantly seen by workers and toilers and spread the lie that the world could become a peaceful paradise if the US was governed by Clinton-like presidents. Thus they serve to lengthen the life of capitalist system. If the US is waging a war and occupies Iraq which seems totally unjust to the toiling masses, then hold on a bit you toilers! Because stupid Bush and co. will be beaten pretty soon in the elections and your distress will stop! Now all brillant strategists of American imperialism are mobilised to prevent the rebel of the working and toiling masses against the capitalist system with this kind of tricks. The so-called US democracy with two parties –which is rather like a seesaw game– is presented as a remedy that can eliminate the monster of unemployement, poverty and war which have seriously hurt the working class, toiling masses and oppressed nations. Can there be a bigger lie?

A great part of the comments we see in liberal bourgeois press commenting on the failures of the US in Iraq voices the demands of European imperialism. France and Germany desires to pave the way for a cooperative intervention to the Middle East by exerting pressure on the US via a propoganda of failure. They say, “While the US did not need any allies in winning the war in Iraq, she needs them in winning the peace.” Another part of comments springs directly from domestic opposition in the US. For instance, Newsweek writes that the Bush administration has experienced a fiasco in Iraq and what lies behind this is the neo-conservative wing called “neocons”. It says, Bremer embarked on a cleansing of Baath supporters from all ministries despite all warnings from the CIA and thus liquidated lower layers of the bureaucracy and army driving 350.000 soldiers into the ranks of resistance. This kind of criticisms are not substantial but rather reflect tactical strifes between different ruling cliques. When the experts complain that everything is messed up in opposition to the Bush team, they do not raise objections to the general strategy of the US towards the Middle East. What they object is only the tactics in implementing the strategy.

Brezinsky, the prominent ideologue of the Democrat Party, which bears the role of opposition today in the two-party political system of the US, is complaining about the isolation of the US due to the false policies of the Bush administration towards the Middle East. According to him the US should restore its relations with Europe, cooperate with the European Union, pass into the position of an arbiter in the Palestine-Israel conflict and have an eye on the security of the region that includes Russia and its neighbours. Brezinsky, as an oppositionist, reminds the Bush team, who are in power, the need for shaping the foreign policy of the US in a way that suits the hegemonic power of the imperialist system. Liberal comments that sometimes turn into sharp criticisms directed at the US intervention in Iraq are not criticisms towards the expansionist policies of the US, but advices for her to expand in a more cautious and careful way. Brezinsky’s suggestions to Bush –internationalisation of military forces in Iraq and transfer of administration to Iraqies as soon as possible– are all within this context.

As a matter of fact it seems as if the Bush administration took these advices into consideration and made a tactical manoeuvre in the last period defending that power should be passed to Iraqies as soon as possible. Despite these manoeuvres, which were presented by the dissenting bourgeois press as a retreat of the Bush team, the US administration is still making statements that prove that there is no change in the general strategy. Donald Rumsfeld says: “There’s no early retreat, quite the contrary. We will stay in Iraq as long as it takes them to enter the course of democracy”. Bush, on the other hand, declares they will not retreat from Afghanistan and Iraq until they find Saddam and Osama bin Laden. Even Bush’s fierce critic Brezinsky remarks: “If Russia will be a part of a broad peace belt it cannot bring its imperialist intentions with. We will live in an unsecure world. One cannot avoid it.” Aren’t the goals of the long term strategy of American imperialism clear no matter who wins the next elections in the US?

“The Vietnam Quagmire”?

The Bush administration has on various occasions stated that the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are first examples of a long series of wars in these regions. It has been written that Syria, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Libya, Sudan, North Korea are included in the US list of countries “to be restructured”. However, the fact that in the first two attempts, i.e. the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the US has not yet achieved the success it expected, fuelled the arguments that the Bush team is unsuccessful and it will be compelled to take back the steps it has taken. This is a very important argument that has no answer yet.

We know from history that those expansionist states that embark on grand scale advances alone with an excessive self-confidence in their power, have mostly disappointed and found themselves in a more troubled situation compared to their initial position. Even if it is a superpower with an army equipped with the most advanced weapons, no great power in any epoch of history could be omnipotent in the face of peoples’ resistance. This is also true today for the US. It is also an accomplished fact that standing armies with super firing power can be compelled to retreat in the face of the attacks of guerilla detachments that can spring up from any corner of a foreign land. But this is possible only if there is a popular struggle and organisation clamped together with the determination to beat the invading imperialist powers like in Vietnam. This is exactly what is missing in Afghanistan or Iraq. It would be a great mistake to take the conditions that would literally force US imperialism to retreat as identical to those conditions that make it only hesitate. We must remind in this context that the analogies with Vietnam, frequently made by various circles nowadays, are not quite proper.

During Vietnam war two factors made the US retreat. In the first place, American families increasingly reacted to the fact that their sons were dead, injured or disabled in distant lands in a war hard to justify. The opposition in America was not limited to this only. American workers and soldiers driven to war were also speaking up and stepping up their actions against the administration. Secondly, there was a genuine anti-American struggle in Vietnam which had a confidence in the Soviet Union taking it as model, organised around the goal of a national developmentalist socialism waging a genuine war with a great support from the toiling masses. Today there is no Soviet Union or the other factors yet. American public has been so terrorised and ideologically bombarded after the 11 September that the opposition against the unjust war of the US in the Middle East is very weak compared to that in Vietnam war. Moreover there is no significant people’s resistance against American imperialism in Afghanistan or Iraq today.

Proceeding from the Vietnam analogy the liberal press insists that Iraq has become a quagmire for the US. Part of the socialist press share this view without seriously looking into the real situation. Subscribing to a talk of resistance as if there is a real upheaval of people against American imperialism when there is no such thing in sight would mean both misleading the masses and totally underestimating the realities. If Iraq could easily become a quagmire for the US without organised masses waging a people’s war –like in Vietnam– then why do we need so much effort to organise, so much determination to fight and self-sacrifice? It is the fundamental principle of proletarian revolutionism not to distort the reality, but to prepare the workers and toilers for the struggle in the light of the reality. We must know that a talk of resistance that is only good for adorning left journals and that has nothing to do with the real world would not help promoting the struggle of the working class.

Moreover, if we were to compare the reality of Vietnam and Iraq we would see that there are significant dissimilarities between the objective conditions of two countries. The objective factor that made possible the victory of national resistance against American imperialism in Vietnam was the fact that, unlike the Middle East, national question had not entered the scene of history in such a divided and gangrenous form. The national questions in the Middle East have remained unresolved until today. It was due to the fact that capitalism has made, at first in period of colonialism and then in imperialist era, this region the arena of settling the scores between the ruling powers in the world. That is why Kurds and Palestinians, the oppressed nations of this region, have been condemned for years to a fate of “unfortunate nations”. The “divide and rule” policy of imperialism in the Middle East on the one hand, and the fact that the different nations in the region have not even objectively achieved a national unity in this region on the other hand, added up to serve this fragmented picture of the Middle East. The most striking example is the Kurdish nation being divided into the boundaries of four different states. And there is no unity on the part of the Kurdish organisations in these seperate segments as well.

It would of course be pleasing for the revolutionary forces of the working class if Iraq was made a quagmire for imperialist agressors. But when this is not the case, then cries of delight on paper or in cyberworld would do no good for the revolutionary struggle of the working class. In the era of Stalinist domination there was a very popular saying: “imperialism is a tiger made of paper”. What happened then? The ruling bureaucrats of the despotic-bureaucratic regimes of the Soviet Union and the like, who did not take seriously the struggle against the capitalist system, are now busy considering how they can move faster into capitalism. Tending to walk the same way has nothing to do with the revolutionary struggle of the proletariat. The imperialist capitalist system cannot be undermined by underestimating it or tail-ending the liberal left. Organised revolutionary struggle led by the working class is the only force that can defeat the expansionist ambitions of US imperialism and other imperialist powers in the Middle East and elsewhere. There is no other way of making the Middle East a quagmire for the US imperialism.

It is the workers who will bring peace and democracy to the Middle East

The workers and toiling masses in the Middle East, as well as in the other countries of the world, are in desperate need of peace, democracy. Also they need a new order that will save them from the unbearable conditions they live in. It is precisely for this reason that, before the peoples of the world, the US seeks to justify its attack on Iraq using the words “democratisation” and “restructuring”. Yet the whole capitalist history is full of bloody examples which show that the colonialist powers at first and imperialist powers afterwards never had the intention to grant the blessings like democracy or modernisation to peoples in a silver plate. But this fact does not justify the attitude of defending Baath-type despotic regimes or their relics against the interventions of the imperialist powers. The crucial point in dealing with problems like anti-imperialist struggle or struggle for democracy is the question of what content would these demands (which are surely of interest to the workers and toiling masses) be loaded with and in what way they would be attained.

The overthrown Baath regime did not represent an oppressed nation. The former Iraqi state of Saddam was not a victim that must be defended against imperialism by the working class; rather a cruel and despotic nation-state that oppressed the working class and toiling peoples. The monstrous Taliban power based on an unfettered religious reaction in Afghanistan is the creature the US imperialism once nurtured in order to use it against the Soviet Union. Today what lies behind those guerrilla-type attacks on American or coalition forces in both countries is, to a considerable extent, the life and death struggle of powers like Baath or Taliban, which had once been backed by US imperialism itself to bother popular masses. The Sunni minority (about 15% of the population) that had all power in Saddam’s time is completely out of the restructuring process planned by the US and thus it is a question of life and death for them to secure some positions. On the other hand, we know that life abhors void. In the absence of a popular resistance led by the working class, its place will be filled by Islamic movements supported by various Arabic countries or by Shiite opposition stirred by the mullahs in Iran, etc.

This does not mean however that these resistance movements –in reality struggle of acquiring a good place in the new Iraqi administration– do not and will not enjoy any support among people. When a country is occupied by foreign forces, it cannot of course be said that all people would embrace the invaders even if these forces have overthrown a brutal tyranny. Still there are differences among various resistances. And it is very important that, though bourgeois press often try to ignore this difference, it would be wrong for the revolutionary forces of the working class to end up with a similar language to that of liberal bourgeois.

A genuine struggle against imperialism in this region is essentially the problem of the working class. Both peace and democracy will be brought to the Middle East by the struggle of the working class. Meanwhile, the working class must also defend the right of self-determination of the oppressed nations while struggling to emancipate itself and restructure the society in the course of socialism.

The oppressed nations of the Middle East –Palestinians and Kurds– carry on their struggle to establish their own nation-states for years. The US intervention in Iraq has encouraged the Kurdish organisations like the KDP and the PUK in their endeavour to establish their own nation. However it cannot be said that the Kurds of Turkish Kurdistan have had the same chance in their relations with the US for the time being. Kurdish organisations had always relations with imperialist states in their national liberation struggles. Today this is materialised in the relations of Kurdish groups with US imperialism that is trying to settle in this region. Even Osman Ocalan, one of the leaders of the PKK, says in his statement to The Guardian on 7 October: “Turkey is no friend of the US. Turkey is betraying the US. If a country wants resolution of conflicts in Iraq, it should not create obstacles for the US.”

This kind of statements and relations with imperialist powers are absolutely unacceptable from the revolutionary viewpoint of the working class, but, at the same time, such things are not unusual for the national liberation organisations whose goal is limited to acquiring national independence. However, the Stalinist mentality, which still continues to be ideologically influential on a significant part of the socialist movement of Turkey, has created a complete confusion in this kind of matters. Thus such circles are unable to make necessary distinctions. Since the distinction between emancipation struggle of the working class and national liberation struggle has been blurred from the onset, the organisations that pursue the goal of a national independence are appreciated in the same level with the revolutionary workers’ organisations. And thus national liberation organisations are expected to be sticking to the principles a revolutionary party of the working class must have. When life proves otherwise, then starts a never ending accusation of “betrayal”. What must in fact be blamed is the mentality of Stalinist organisations who claim to organise the revolutionary struggle of the working class and then make themselves dependent on the ebbs and flows of the struggle of the oppressed nation. Very limited a space you are left with if you seek to pursue your politics by tail-ending the struggle of the oppressed nation or on the basis of criticising it. The fate of such “communists” is nothing but crisis.

We have explained it in our various articles before. An organization of struggle which is confined itself to the goal of national independence can, by its very nature, compromise with the bourgeoisie or capitalist states, either imperialist or not, at any moment. In the final analysis, it is historically a bourgeoisie solution that the oppressed nation achieves the right of self-determination and –at its best– goes to the last point and builds its own nation-state. In this way the oppressed nation can obtain national liberation –the most it can see within the framework of capitalism– but the problem of emancipation of the working class would remain unresolved and become more apparent. The goal of building a nation-state is one within the boundaries of capitalist order. Exploitation and oppression of the working class and toiling masses will remain unless the state formed under capitalism is crushed by the working class. The proletariat can attain its goals, i.e. peace, democracy and social emancipation, only through its own revolution and power. Moreover, as we see in the October Revolution, a simultaneous liberation of the oppressed nations and the working class is possible in case the oppressed nation follow the leadership of the working class. The goal of the proletariat is nothing other than this profound solution.

The Stalinist mentality has totally distorted the conception of the organisations, which could not totally break from Stalinism, of the most fundamental issues like anti-imperialism, struggle for democracy and strategy of the revolution. For this reason their approach towards the struggle of the Middle Eastern peoples and revolutionary goals facing the working class in general are very problematic. For instance, for them, the task of attaining democracy is always a separate stage of power to be reached before the working class power. But it is very clear that the kind of democracy needed by the working class in imperialist epoch can only be achieved by a working class revolution and power. An organisation which claims to have a proletarian revolutionary mentality must at least be equipped with basic Marxist knowledge on this kind of issues. It is not possible to be a Marxist by ignoring the problem of Stalinism which must absolutely be questioned at least after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the like. To try to carry on with the old Stalinist mindset as if nothing has happened deserves accusations like petty-bourgeoisie narrow-mindedness, petty-bourgeois conformism or pragmatism. We want to remind them once more: the most harmful thing for the revolution are illusions, and the most beneficial thing is sincere and plain truth.


[1] Elif Çağlı, The Imperialist War of Division Continues