[Marxism] Will Obama speak at the next ANSWER rally?
lnp3 at panix.com
Wed Dec 4 05:59:26 MST 2013
Without naming any names, it is fascinating that some of the most
diehard apologists for the al-Assad dictatorship on the Internet left
were also some of the most stubborn Obama campaigners back in 2008,
being sufficiently coy in their backing as to avoid actually coming out
with Carl Davidson type formulations. A couple of these people were not
reluctant to tell me privately that they intended o vote for Obama,
something that came as no surprise to me.
Today’s NY Times reports that the Obama administration intends to make a
“turn” to the Baathist dictatorship, another thing that comes as no
surprise to me. American imperialism desires stability above all else
and what better guarantee of stability is there than the government that
willingly participated in the extraordinary rendition program run by the
CIA and that now makes common cause with the Egyptian military?
I just sent off a review of Akbar Ahmed’s “The Thistle and the Drone” to
Critical Muslim, a journal that I have developed a relationship with.
Co-edited by Ziauddin Sardar, the author of 27 books including the
incomparable “Postmodernism and the Other: New Imperialism of Western
Culture,”, and my FB friend Robin Yassin-Kassab, it gives voice to the
Arab and Muslim left. They are publishing an article I did on the Jews
of the Maghreb in a future issue, and have one scheduled on Syria and
the Western left later on.
I can’t recapitulate the arguments made by Akbar Ahmed but urge
everybody to read a very important book whose essential point is that
the “war on terror” directed against al-Qaeda et al is ultimately a war
against Islamic tribes that are most frequently fighting for cultural
and economic survival. The Tuaregs are one of the prime examples as are
the Aceh guerrillas in Indonesia. All of them get amalgamated with
al-Qaeda irrespective of the truth. In some ways, the amalgam hearkens
back to the George W. Bush administration whose footsteps Obama is
I have long concluded that these “anti-imperialists”, with their
blood-curdling Islamophobia, are not much different from Christopher
Hitchens or Paul Berman—hiding under their bed from Sharia law and
clapping like trained seals every time a Baathist MIG launches a rocket
against a working class apartment building.
NY Times December 3, 2013
Jihadist Groups Gain in Turmoil Across Middle East
By ROBERT F. WORTH and ERIC SCHMITT
WASHINGTON — Intensifying sectarian and clan violence has presented new
opportunities for jihadist groups across the Middle East and raised
concerns among American intelligence and counterterrorism officials that
militants aligned with Al Qaeda could establish a base in Syria capable
of threatening Israel and Europe.
The new signs of an energized but fragmented jihadist threat, stretching
from Mali and Libya in the west to Yemen in the east, have complicated
the narrative of a weakened Al Qaeda that President Obama offered in May
in a landmark speech heralding the end of the war on terrorism. The
leaders of the Senate and House intelligence committees, Senator Dianne
Feinstein of California and Representative Mike Rogers of Michigan,
raised warnings in an interview on CNN on Sunday when they said that
Americans were “not safer” from terrorist attacks than in 2011.
The concerns are based in part on messages relayed this year by Ayman
al-Zawahri, Al Qaeda’s overall leader, indicating that he views Syria —
where the number of jihadist rebels and foreign fighters is steadily
rising — as a promising staging ground.
Some analysts and American officials say the chaos there could force the
Obama administration to take a more active role to stave off potential
threats among the opposition groups fighting against the government of
President Bashar al-Assad. But striking at jihadist groups in Syria
would pose formidable political, military and legal obstacles, and could
come at the cost of some kind of accommodation — even if only temporary
or tactical — with Mr. Assad’s brutal but secular government, analysts say.
“We need to start talking to the Assad regime again” about
counterterrorism and other issues of shared concern, said Ryan C.
Crocker, a veteran diplomat who has served in Syria, Iraq and
Afghanistan. “It will have to be done very, very quietly. But bad as
Assad is, he is not as bad as the jihadis who would take over in his
It is not clear whether or when the White House would be willing to make
such an abrupt shift in approach after years of supporting the Syrian
opposition and calling for Mr. Assad’s ouster. It would certainly
require delicate negotiations with Middle Eastern allies who were early
and eager supporters of Syrian rebel groups, notably Saudi Arabia.
One growing source of concern is the number of Muslims from Western
countries who have gone to fight in Syria and might eventually return
home and pose a terrorist threat. Analysts say at least 1,200 European
Muslims have gone to Syria since the start of the war to join the fight,
and dozens of Americans.
Across the region, a rising tide of Islamist militancy — fueled partly
by sectarian violence and partly by the collapse of Egypt’s Muslim
Brotherhood in the face of opposition from the country’s military — has
contributed to a recent wave of attacks, including deadly bombings in
Lebanon and the Sinai Peninsula as well as the daily carnage in Syria
The violence has underscored the continuing disarray across the Middle
East in the wake of the 2011 Arab Spring uprisings. Above all, it is the
chaos of Syria, where foreign jihadis appear to be building to a
critical mass and have overwhelmed the Western strategy of support for
the moderate opposition, that could drive the Obama administration
toward greater involvement, analysts say.
But it is not at all clear what form that involvement might take.
American officials are unlikely to open a new front of drone strikes in
Syria. Other options carry large risks. In early October, American
commandos carried out raids in Libya and Somalia aimed at capturing
terrorist suspects. The Libya raid was successful; the one in Somalia
To some extent, infighting among the jihadist groups in Syria has
recently mitigated the threat there, but it is not clear how long that
will last. Mr. Zawahri sent an envoy, Abu Khalid al-Suri, in an effort
to resolve disputes between the two main factions, the Nusra Front and
the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.
“To the extent that I am concerned about Al Qaeda the brand, it’s that
it is clearly expanding its affiliates, both in number and in some cases
in capability,” Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs
of Staff, said in an interview. “We’ve got to watch and determine which
ones are local, which ones are regional, and which ones are global, and
each requires a different approach.”
Those agendas can easily overlap and change, and one place where that
appears to be happening is Yemen, the home to Al Qaeda’s most organized
and threatening affiliate. A series of clashes in the past month between
Zaydi Muslim militia fighters and hard-line Sunnis in Yemen’s remote
northwest has led to calls for a wider religious war, and there are
reports of training camps being established for that purpose, Yemeni
In Yemen, as in Syria, this sectarian dynamic may appear to divert the
militants’ attention away from the West. But the accompanying
radicalization and militancy creates “the perfect environment for Al
Qaeda” in a country where the terrorist group already has a strong
foothold, said one Yemeni official.
Even as an American drone campaign continues to kill people suspected as
militants in Yemen, the Qaeda affiliate based there gained at least $20
million in ransom payments earlier this year from the governments of
Qatar and Oman, which paid to free two groups of European hostages,
according to American and Yemeni officials. That is enough to fuel their
operations for years, the officials said.
A string of recent deadly attacks on Yemeni military targets has also
made clear that Al Qaeda “has infiltrated our security services” to a
greater extent, the Yemeni official said. In one of those attacks, a
band of six jihadists disguised in army uniforms commandeered a military
post with dozens of soldiers inside and held it for three days,
repelling repeated efforts to free the men.
In addition to the rising number and deadliness of attacks, there are
signs of possible cross-pollination among some of the jihadist groups
around the region. American officials say that the Yemen-based Al Qaeda
affiliate, Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, has regular contact with
jihadist groups in Lebanon and in the Sinai Peninsula, where there have
been near-daily attacks since the Egyptian military ousted the Islamist
president Mohamed Morsi in July.
Despite extensive Egyptian military efforts to confront them, the Sinai
militant groups remain strong and have powerful new weapons — including
surface-to-air missiles that could take down airliners — obtained from
Libya after its civil war, said Ehud Yaari, an Israel-based security
analyst for the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
The disarray in Libya, where the weak transitional government is largely
hostile to the nation’s fractious militias, is also a source of
increasing concern. Terrorism analysts say southern Libya has become a
safe haven for a range of jihadists. “All of our regional partners are
very afraid of the instability they see emanating from southern Libya,”
said Maj. Gen. Patrick J. Donahue II, the commander of American Army
forces assigned to Africa.
Other extremist groups are redoubling their efforts across Africa. Last
month the State Department branded Boko Haram, the homegrown Islamist
insurgent movement in Nigeria, as a foreign terrorist group. Its attacks
have left thousands dead in a decade, and in October it ransomed four
French hostages for a reported payment of over $27 million.
“Whether they are dismayed by the way things played out in Egypt or by
the growth of Al Qaeda in Syria, the worm has turned in the Middle East
in the minds of American foreign policy makers,” said William McCants,
an expert on jihadist movements and a former senior adviser at the State
Department. “It seems we are back to counterterrorism as a guiding focus
for American policy.”
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