EVERY DAY that US bombs blast Afghanistan, opposition in the Arab and Muslim world to imperialism grows. The corrupt and dictatorial pro-Western regimes in the Middle East and Asia are being shaken by seismic movements of the poor and oppressed, hence US secretary of state Colin Powell’s hasty tour to shore up the crumbling ‘grand coalition against terrorism’. The following reports show capitalism’s inability to resolve these regions fundamental problems of poverty and national oppression.
Us Attacks Provoke Mass Opposition
Musharraf – caught between a rock and a hard place
COLIN POWELL’S visit to Pakistan was greeted by rioting in Hyderabad and a partial strike shutting down shops called by pro-Taliban religious groups.
The regime of Pervez Musharraf in Pakistan was already struggling to control extreme Islamist groups within Pakistan itself.
He has acted against two prominent generals who helped him to overthrow the former government of Nawaz Sharif but who were in support of some of the Islamic parties. However, significant sections of even the army officers in the Pakistani army are supposed to be sympathetic to, if not members of, Islamic fundamentalist parties and organisations.
The repercussions for Pakistan are going to be severe. There is an incipient civil war already within Pakistan.
The outcome of this could be the removal of Musharraf and his replacement by a fundamentalist regime and possibly also, the fracturing of Pakistan along national lines. In particular, the breaking away of the Northwest Frontier province with its majority Pashtun population makes this a real possibility.
Musharraf is caught between the millstones of the colossal pressure of US imperialism, upon which his regime ultimately depends for economic salvation, and the mounting opposition to the bombings within Pakistan. It is not an accident that he has referred to the current situation as the greatest crisis that Pakistan has faced since the Bangladesh war of 1971. This led to the break up of Pakistan as it was then and the separation of East Pakistan into what became Bangladesh.
Given the support of the Pakistan military for the Taliban in the past, including from Musharraf himself, he is not at all enthusiastic about replacing it with the Northern Alliance who are supported by regional rivals Iran and Russia.
This is why Musharraf has suggested what was previously “unthinkable”, support for the return of the former Afghan king, Zahir Shah, as a focal point for an alternative post-Taliban government.
Meanwhile, the political fault line running through occupied Kashmir threatens to explode into a new regional conflict. A point emphasised by the latest shelling of Pakistani troops by Indian artillery along the disputed ‘line of control’ border.
In the bloody equation of war, anything is possible. The future will not be one of tranquillity and peace but of unprecedented turmoil with the risk of a break up, or partial break up, of Pakistan, the repercussions of which will be felt throughout the Indian subcontinent.
Extracts from CWI update.
Full version on www.socialistworld.net
House of Saud facing massive unrest
SAUDI ARABIA with its 262 billion barrels of oil possesses a quarter of the world’s total. The US imports 57% of its oil needs. By bombing the Afghan Taliban regime and thereby destabilising Saudi Arabia, George Bush is playing with fire.
Attacks on European and US nationals in Saudi Arabia are growing. The regime is downplaying such incidents or blaming them on other foreigners.
The Saudi Arabian regime is facing unprecedented opposition. This has meant that the Saudi royal family, while giving verbal support to US imperialism, has been compelled to refuse permission for the US bases in Saudi Arabia to be used in military action in Afghanistan.
The collaboration with US imperialism, the massive corruption of the rotten ruling feudal dynasty, the worsening economic situation of Saudi Arabia and its effects on significant sections of the population, and the outrage felt at the continued oppression of the Palestinian people, have all fed into a big movement of opposition to King Fahd’s regime.
The parasitism of the ruling dynasty is shown by the existence of 15,000 ‘royal princes’, each with their own courts and bands of retainers.
AT THE same time, a section of Saudi youth, who comprise most of the 20 million population, are discontented at the deterioration in their economic and social situation. The drop in oil revenues has meant that income per head has gone down from $28,000 in the early 1980s (comparable to the US) to about $7,000 today. Ten years ago unemployment didn’t exist. Now, the official unemployment rate is 18% and rising.
Moreover, the role of the Saudi regime in fostering the development of a powerful clerical establishment, preaching religious messages in the schools and universities, has resulted in bin Laden and his like finding an echo amongst thousands of graduates versed in religious teaching but lacking basic skills for the labour market.
This is an explosive mix which the trigger of the Afghanistan war could ignite, leading to the overthrow of the ‘fundamentalist’ regime of King Fahd and its replacement with an even more extreme fundamentalist regime. This would threaten the interests of US imperialism in the region.
Extracts from CWI update.
Full version on www.socialistworld.net
Indonesia/Philippines Anti-US protests grow
INDONESIAN POLICE fired tear gas and water cannon into hundreds of anti-US Muslim protesters outside the national parliament buildings on 15 October. Eyewitnesses spoke of brutal police beatings, including against journalists.
This marked the first significant protest in the capital, Jakarta, since the start of the attacks on Afghanistan.
Right-wing Muslim groups, including the Islamic Defenders’ Front (FPI), threatened to storm the parliament unless the government of President Megawati Sukarno-putri clearly condemned the US-led war.
Last week, the FPI threatened to target and drive out Americans and Britons from the country.
Initially, Megawati, desperate for foreign investment and aid following years of economic decline and instability, gave qualified backing to Bush’s war plans.
But as the killing of civilians continues in Afghanistan, ‘moderate’ Muslim opinion has hardened against US policy (Indonesia has the largest Muslim population in the world).
Islamic organisations have links to the powerful armed forces that proved critical in bringing Megawati to power recently. In a setback for Bush, the President recently softened her support for the war. This follows calls from the Vice-President, Hamzah Haz, for a halt to the bombings.
Megawati hopes that through repression and by making concessions to the popular mood she can contain the rise in Islamic opposition.
MEANWHILE, THOUSANDS of Filipino Muslims have staged anti-US protests on the island of Mindanao in the southern Philippines. They are demanding President Gloria Arroyo withdraws an offer to the US to allow them to use former military bases.
Muslims make up around 5% of the 76 million population and are largely concentrated in the south of the Philippines where the Abu Sayyaf paramilitary group fights for a separatist Islamic homeland.
The US administration claims Abu Sayyaf is linked to Osama bin Ladin’s al-Qa’ida network, and is reportedly planning to send in military advisers and a number of troops to help the Filipino government crush the group.
Such US involvement, in the Philippines, Indonesia or even Malaysia, will only aggravate religious, ethnic and national sores, which erupted after economic crisis hit the region in 1997.
AFTER THE US-led bombings, anti-US feeling and protest have too increased in the divided state of Kashmir.
In Kotli, in POK (Pakistani Occupied Kashmir), where there are number of training camps of the different Islamic groups, the Jamiaat-Islami – the main Islamic group – is in the forefront in organising anti-US and pro-Taliban protests.
One such demonstration included the ruling Muslim Conference, PPP (Pakistan Peoples Party), and JKLF (Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front). Other capitalist nationalists have sided with the reactionary Islamic groups.
A suicide bomb attack on the IOK state legislature on 1 October, which resulted in the killing of over 38 people and dozens injured, was initially claimed by the Jaish-e-Mohammad but later denied.
This group’s leader was one of the imprisoned leaders who were released from an Indian prison as part of a government deal following the hijacking of an Indian airliner in December 1999. This latest attack provided the Indian ruling classes an excuse to whip-up anti-Pakistan war hysteria.
Here in Kotli and other parts of POK, Islamic groups have planned for further protests, while the Sikandar Hayat Administration of the Muslim Conference continues to attack the working-class. Its right-wing, neo-liberal policies of privatisation and down-sizing continues unabated, with expected loss of thousand of jobs, and women teachers have not been paid their salaries for the last six months.