Tuesday, October 31, 2023

D. Koutsoumbas: On the military conflict between Israel and Palestine and the developments in the region

By Dimitris Koutsoumbas*

Israel’s ground offensive on the Gaza Strip will trigger a general conflagration in the region, and more generally, on a global scale. This issue was rightly addressed by the recent plenary meeting of the CC of the KKE. The CC reaffirmed the public positions of the Party, as they were reflected in press releases of the Press Office, in the interventions of its MPs in the Greek and the European Parliaments, as well as its actions in the mass movement.

Α. The regional and international powers–capitalist states involved in the conflict in the Middle East 

They can be roughly grouped into the following categories:

FIRST: The open supporters of Israel: Mainly the USA, Great Britain, the leading powers and in general the NATO members except Turkey, the leading powers of the EU (France, Germany) and in general the EU member states, in varying degrees (e.g. the reaction of Spain, Denmark and Luxembourg to the initial statement on economic sanctions against the Palestinian Authority). The Greek government seeks to play a key role for the region in this Euro-Atlantic bloc.

SECOND: Powerful capitalist states of the emerging Eurasian bloc, mainly Russia and China, which are adopting a cautious stance, leaning towards supporting Palestine for an independent Palestinian state, with initiatives for a diplomatic solution and an end to the war, while promoting their own economic and geopolitical interests in the region.

THIRD: Several powerful states - forces in the region in rapprochement with Israel or the USA, including some traditional allies of the “West”, who oppose Israel’s aggression and support the Palestinians because they are Arabs and Muslims, and because their interests at this stage coincide with or contradict those of others.

Such is the case with Saudi Arabia, which has broken off relations with Israel, in which the US had invested heavily. In fact, according to one interpretation of the developments, Hamas’ attack on Israel had precisely this aim and served not only a section of the Palestinians who consider that this restoration of relations betrays their struggle, but also quarters in Saudi Arabia and Israel that do not agree with this development, as well as the interests of third parties, such as those opposed to the IMEC corridor, like China.

This is the case with Turkey, which is raising the possibility of freezing the normalization of relations with Israel and the plan to transport Israeli gas to Europe through Turkey; a plan that would objectively reduce the role of the Russian Gazprom, which already sends more than 40 billion cubic metres a day to the EU.

The same goes for Egypt, which will receive the bulk of the Palestinian refugees in the event that Israel plans to uproot them en masse from Gaza, as Netanyahu has implied in his statements. This event is worrying the Egyptian bourgeoisie, which has outlawed the Muslim Brotherhood, which is linked to Hamas.

Even the United Arab Emirates, close allies of Israel and the US, for the first time since the beginning of the war publicly took an anti-Israeli stance after Israel’s deadly and inhumane attack on the hospital in Gaza.

FOURTH: Finally, a number of states in the region, probably already more actively and openly involved than all the others, which support and help the Palestinian resistance as they are in constant conflict with Israel.

Such is the case with Iran which, although it declares that it has nothing to do with the attack in question, welcomes it and does not exclude neither the possibility that it helped “unofficially” in the preparation of the attack nor its direct involvement in the event of a generalization of the conflict.

The same applies to Lebanon, whose territory is also occupied by Israel. Lebanese Hezbollah, which has close ties with Iran, has so far engaged in small-scale hostilities with Israel in northern Israel. There is a possibility of its involvement in the event of a generalized conflict.

Likewise with Syria, whose territory is also occupied by Israel. On the eve of the events, a drone hit a military graduation ceremony in the city of Homs, killing around 100 people.

Β. The likelihood of military conflicts and operations expanding is very high due to a number of factors

Among these factors, the following stand out:

  • The various open fronts in the region–powder keg, such as the conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia, or here in the Balkans, between Serbia and Kosovo. For example, the forced displacement of the Armenians from Nagorno-Karabakh (with the consent of Russia and Iran) is a development that may lead to the opening of a new, crucial trade route between China, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan and Tu These developments have led to an increased role of Turkey in the region, while its bourgeoisie is negotiating with the US, China and Russia at the same time. The USA supports it in the Caucasus and Central Asia as long as it limits the Russian influence. We are also witnessing Israel’s support for Azerbaijan and the strengthening of their relations, which worries Iran.
  • The chain reactions that will be provoked if a second front is opened in Lebanon between Israel and Hezbollah, given the build-up of many powerful military forces, such as the two US aircraft carriers.
  • This development comes at a time when the war in Ukraine is consolidating and escalating; when the so-called Abraham Accords (normalization of Israel’s relations with Arab countries without a solution to the Palestinian question) are underway. The USA places great importance to these agreements, which not only strengthen Israel’s position as its traditional geopolitical support in the region, but are also linked to its broader plans in the race with China, in the conflict for market shares in the Middle East and Europe (e.g. the IMEC corridor crossing the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Israel, which is a rival to the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative).
  • The intensification of the contradictions caused and triggered by the intervention in Gaza, such as the decisions of Saudi Arabia, the pressure of refugees on Egypt and possibly on other countries in the region, and so on. In addition, we see a wider region being Turkey is launching operations against the Kurds and is in conflict with the USA in Syria. Syria was hit (in the city of Homs, with 100 casualties) after the trade route for Chinese goods through Russia was blocked.
  • Moreover, we must not lose sight of the fact that this direction towards the expansion of conflicts is being promoted as an outlet for the over-accumulated capital. This applies to the war industry, the reconstruction plans after destruction, the energy war, the redivision of markets and the transport routes for goods, capital, etc.
  1. Greece’s involvement in the military conflict in the region is increasing

As regards the Greek people and the consequences for our country, we take into account that apart from the already great military involvement of Greece, under the responsibility of the New Democracy government and with the support of all the bourgeois opposition parties —an involvement that is also concretely expressed, together with the political and diplomatic support of Netanyahu and the murderous state of Israel as a whole, and with the dispatch of frigates, e.g. the frigate “Psara”, with the utilization of all the US bases in the country, etc.— there will be developments within the country in the course of time. Such developments may include:

  • The further aggravation of the refugee problem.
  • The high prices , also due to the increase in the price of energy, etc.
  • The so-called unconventional warfare, for which the bourgeois state and the government are already taking measures after the meeting of the Government Council for Foreign Affairs and Defence, with the guarding of targets, intensified patrols, etc.
  • The ongoing military cooperation with Israel, including cooperation in the construction of military systems, and, in particular, the promotion of the anti-missile shield that Greece is discussing with France and Israel, following the visit of the Chief of the General Staff to Israel in the summer and the presentation of the system there, which of course, Hamas managed to breach on the first day of the conflict, as all the media reported.

This also concerns the deeper involvement of Greece in the economic–energy war, for example the relationship between Israel and the Greek war industry, the ports and the transfer of Israeli LNG as a future project, the transfer of electricity, etc.

It certainly also concerns the consequences of the war, for example on oil and gas prices, higher food prices, tourism, the further aggravation of many problems that the people face.

The possibility of a sudden sharpening of the class struggle requires an enhancement of our political guidance efforts for the ideological, political and organizational readiness and action of our forces.

In any case, readiness will be achieved with an apt and continuous ideological–political intervention and with a plan of its escalation within the workers’–people’s movement.

  1. An apt ideological–political intervention means a direct response to the various ideological constructs invented by the propaganda of the imperialist war

In this period, since the Hamas attack, various ideological constructs and dangerous generalizations have appeared that need to be answered. The members and friends of the Party have to be well-equipped because they are forced to face them on a daily basis. We certainly need to monitor the development of these ideological constructs.

Some of the prevalent ones are the following:

  • The identification of Hamas with the Taliban and the total rejection of the struggle of the Palestinian people.

This position, which is often used by SYRIZA cadres to justify their alignment with the US-NATO and to equate the victim with the perpetrator, generalizes all “Islamic movements” on a religious basis and detaches them from any kind of social, class, political, cultural and historical basis and approach.

Thus, for example, it silences the fact that Hamas aims at the liberation of the Palestinian territories, that in its early years it represented the middle strata of Palestine and that its massive growth was a consequence of the chronic ineffectiveness of the struggle of the “secularists”, the anti-occupation and social struggle of the Palestinian people. Its emergence (in 1987) and its strengthening were and are linked to the overthrow of socialism. It developed along the way and now expresses a section of the Palestinian bourgeoisie that believes that the creation of the Palestinian state must have as a key component the establishment of a strong national army. By contrast, the origin and course of the reactionary Taliban “movement” is well-known and it is no coincidence that the USA left it a huge arsenal of weapons when it withdrew from Afghanistan.

  • They also say that a war of civilizations is being waged, that we are witnessing a clash between the Christian–Jewish civilization and the Muslim civilization.

This view argues that developments are determined not by class struggle but by the clash of civilizations. It defines the culture of a people as “quality”, determined by history, language, customs and, above all, religion.

  • Others say that our national interests demand that we support for Israel at all costs.

This is exploited by all the bourgeois parties, which support Greece’s strategic alliance with the USA and Israel, claiming that “national interests dictate it”. However, they conceal that these “national interests” have a class character in the class society and, in this case, they serve the bourgeoisie, its interests and aspirations, and lead our people to dangerous paths.

  • Another view that is being peddled is that “an anti-imperialist axis is being created between Iran, Hamas, Hezbollah, China and Russia, which we should perhaps support against the USA”.

It is mainly promoted by various opportunist quarters. They claim that there are “anti-imperialist” and “anti-fascist” capitalist forces, hiding the objective fact that these are all capitalist forces with their own interests and aspirations, playing geopolitical games to the detriment of the Palestinian people and other peoples of the region. Of course, this does not mean that it is not legitimate for the Palestinians, for example, to seek international alliances with those capitalist states and power blocs that adopt the position for an independent Palestinian state, for an end to the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories, etc. But this is as far as it goes.

We stress this because our correct analysis of what imperialism, i.e. monopoly capitalism, is, cannot be interpreted in a one-sided way, leading to a reflection on whether bourgeois states, such as Palestine, should seek international allies at the political–diplomatic level that would strengthen, even if only occasionally, their anti-occupation struggle for the establishment of a free, independent state.

And this has to do with questions that may be raised today, albeit in a limited way, such as why we support one side (the Palestinians) when both the Palestinian Authority and Hamas represent sections of the Palestinian bourgeoisie and their regional and international allies also represent bourgeois interests in their countries. Rizospastis and other party means are successfully dealing with these contrived notions on a daily basis.

Such issues have been raised in relevant articles in Rizospastis and KOMEP (Communist Review) and we must recall the argumentation that refutes all these views and ideological constructs. Historical ignorance and inexperience have a negative effect on the people, especially the youth. This is an issue that needs to be addressed by providing the necessary information and data to understand the Palestinian issue and the way it is developing, as well as in connection with the Kurdish issue, etc.

Ε. The intensified ideological–political preparation and counter-attack requires continuous mass action and broader work within the workers’– people’s movement and especially the youth movement.

It is necessary to open the discussion in all workplaces, sectors, trade unions, universities, schools, neighbourhoods of big cities, towns and villages in the countryside. We attach importance to the stance of Greece and what the Greek people should do in the face of this military conflict.

We express our solidarity with the Palestinian people because the State of Israel and its government have been murdering them for decades, resulting in thousands of deaths, a real genocide, the occupation of Palestinian territories, apartheid and blockades, as in Gaza, imprisonment, torture and so much more.

At the same time, we express our solidarity with the Israeli people, who are also suffering under the State of Israel and the reactionary Netanyahu government, which is constantly dragging them into military conflicts, into massacres against neighbouring peoples and thus making them victims of a general barbaric policy.

The content of the demands and slogans can be summarized as follows:

  • We emphasize the right of the Palestinian people to a free and independent Palestine on the 1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital.
  • We demand the return of all Palestinian refugees to their homes, on the basis of the relevant UN resolutions.
  • We demand the immediate release of all Palestinian and other political prisoners held in Israeli prisons.
  • We demand that the frigate “Psara” be withdrawn from the region and not be replaced by another warship, and that all aid to the US and Israel be stopped.
  • We demand that all economic–political–military cooperation with the murderous state of Israel be stopped and that the recognition of the Palestinian state, based on the unanimous decision of the Greek Parliament, be proceeded.

In particular, we have to inform the Greek people and the youth even more broadly that a geopolitical “chess game” is being played to the detriment of the Palestinian people, which may lead to a generalization of the war, is clearly linked to the efforts of the bourgeois classes of the region to enhance their position in the imperialist pyramid and may be or is already linked to the great inter-imperialist conflict for supremacy in the imperialist system.

In this context, it is necessary to organize mass rallies, protests, solidarity concerts, etc. The dynamics of the struggles and mobilizations should evolve according to the development of events.

We must respond to the request of the Palestinian embassy to collect food, clothes, basic essentials, medicines, etc and to put pressure on those in charge to ensure the means of transport to their destination.

Finally, it is necessary today to make a more decisive contribution to the coordination of the forces of the communist and workers’ movement internationally.

To sum up and conclude, as the CC pointed out in its last plenary meeting, we have to put the entire Party and KNE on constant alert and vigilance, monitoring all developments and intervening politically in them.

* General Secretary of the CC of the KKE, Published in “Rizospastis” on 21-22 October