Archive article from The Socialist Issue 449
Middle East crisis:
Stop the carnage
Conflict spiralling toward regional war
THE ISRAELI government is bombing Lebanon into rubble. Airports, roads, buildings and, not least, hundreds of human lives have been destroyed. Workers and young people around the world were already sickened by the Israeli Defence Force (IDF) attacks on Gaza, but what has taken place in the last few days is a massive escalation of the nightmarish crisis in the Middle East.
The Bush regime, with Blair wagging his tail behind, has already been responsible for massively destabilising the Middle East via the war and occupation of Iraq for oil.
Now Bush and Blair have responded to the Israeli onslaught on Lebanon by laying the blame at the foot of the 'terrorist' Hezbollah and turning a blind eye to the crimes of the IDF. In other words they have given the Israeli regime a green light to continue stepping up the bloodshed.
The escalation of this conflict primarily reflects Israel's attempt to reassert itself as the dominant military power in the region. But, as ever under this system, it is ordinary people in Lebanon, Israel and Gaza who are paying a terrible price.
Neither side can 'win'. After all, the 18-year long occupation (1982-2000) of southern Lebanon by the IDF failed to defeat the Hezbollah guerrillas. It only succeeded in strengthening Hezbollah and striking a serious blow against Israel's military prestige.
However, Hezbollah can never militarily defeat the might of the Israeli state and liberate the Palestinian people from occupation. And the latest conflict can only deepen divisions between working people in Israel, Lebanon and the Palestinian areas.
Yasha, an Israeli socialist from Haifa, told this newspaper: "The Israeli government is out to restore the prestige of the army which was humiliated twice - once in Gaza when the soldier was captured and the other time when two soldiers were captured by Hezbollah. So now Olmert [Israel's PM] wants to do something to restore their pride and show the whole of the Middle East who is the master, who has the strongest army.
"Hezbollah are trying to demonstrate to the Lebanese that they have the courage and strength to hurt Israel and thereby to make political gains.
"Therefore, this current conflict is about who will gain the most in terms of prestige and political kudos. The people who will lose out in all this will be the working class on both sides."
At the root of these national conflicts is a power struggle between the different ruling classes in the region backed by different imperialist powers.
Bush and Blair complain that Syria and Iran are backing Hezbollah but say nothing about the billions of dollars in loans, aid and military hardware provided to Israel by the US. And what about the Labour government's sanctioning of £23 million of arms to Israel by UK suppliers over the last 12 months?
Neither the Israeli ruling class nor the rotten Arab regimes in the Middle East - including the repressive Islamic regime in Iran and the Syrian dictatorship - offer a way forward for working people. All these ruling elites share a common aim - to control territory, resources and industry, and exploit the workers and poor in order to maintain their privileged positions.
The capitalist system of imperialism is still "horror without end" - an exploitative system that brings oppression, wars, and poverty for the majority of people.
To permanently end the threat of war and terror we have to fight for the end of capitalism and for the establishment of a democratic socialist world run in the interests of the billions instead of for the profits of the billionaires.
Workers are paying the price
A socialist in Beirut sent the following eyewitness report:
"The Israeli assault is now spreading to all regions including the mountains and the north. The damage is enormous and the death toll is rising - only half an hour ago one bomb in Ekkar (north) killed 20 people. This only indicates the scale of the attacks and the advanced weaponry the Israelis are using.
"Looking at the infrastructure ruins you can see how powerful they are. We are under siege from all directions - air, sea and land. It is impossible to move about right now and all regions are isolated from each other while the whole country is isolated from the rest of the world.
"The Israelis have been given the green light [by the US] to go ahead with their plan and will not stop until most of the country is underground."
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