Oppose Imperialist Barbarism! Canada Out of the Middle East!

After making its decision in secret, the Canadian government has declared war on the organization called the “Islamic State” (IS), first in Iraq and then possibly in Syria. Posing as a “great defender of democracy and freedom,” Stephen Harper announced a six-month operation involving 600 troops, ships and planes to bomb the areas controlled by the sectarian organization whose territory extended rapidly since June.

The cost of this operation, based on the one conducted three years ago in Libya, could amount to more than $500 million. In a shorter period of time, the Canadian assault on Libya cost around $350 million––$300 million more than expected. Paradoxically, several Islamist groups fighting against Gaddafi were financed and armed by Canada and other imperialist powers like the United States, France, and Britain. These powers dare not boast the results of their operation in Libya, where destruction and misery now prevails amidst growing fundamentalist forces who have now gone to fight in neighboring countries.

Taking advantage of the chaos generated by the imperialist barbarity in Iraq since 2003, and of the fact that political power is now controlled by the Shiite, Sunni Islamist forces have been strengthened; some of them were downright financed and ideologically oriented by the monarchies of the Persian Gulf. In their will to counter the growing influence of Iran in Iraq, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE discovered a mutual interest with the United States and their Western allies.

The roots of the IS group originate in the Al Qaeda network and the experience it accumulated in Afghanistan fighting against the Soviet occupation. While they were nearly non-existent in Saddam Hussein’s Iraq—contrary to the lies spread by George W. Bush and the other imperialist warmongers—by 2003 Al-Qaeda was recruiting and moving into this region. Some Sunni clans who saw their power reduced in favor of the Shiite joined the IS, along with the former military and police forces of Saddam Hussein, many of whom had lost their jobs and become mercenaries. Having separated themselves from the authority of Al-Qaeda after the death of Osama bin Laden in 2011, the IS managed to grow through the Syrian conflict. The group gained attention by committing crimes of rare violence and with growing frequency, generating confrontations within the forces opposing President Al-Assad. Instead of attacking the main enemies of the people of the Middle East—the State of Israel, the Arab monarchies, and US imperialism—the IS was primarily targeting Iran and the Shiites.

One year ago, the United States and their allies were threatening Syria––opposing the Assad regime allied to Iran and the Hezbollah in Lebanon. They were quick to condemn the Syrian regime’s use of “barbaric repression” but were silent about the barbarity committed by the opposition forces, including IS. In May 2013, Senator John McCain even visited the headquarters of the so-called “Free Syrian Army’” one of whose leaders was none other than the man who now proclaims himself “Caliph Ibrahim.” Again, monarchies financially supported those forces before the IS could take control of oil production to finance itself. The recruitment of foreign fighters known for their increased violence was carried out with the complicity of these monarchies, or at least the networks they protect, as well as that of Turkey’s Erdogan.

A NATO member and one of the best allies of the United States in the region along with Israel, Egypt, and the monarchies of the Persian Gulf, Turkey possesses a long history of harshly repressing progressives, communists, and trade unionists––especially the Kurdish activists organized with the PKK (Kurdistan Workers’ Party). Considered to be a terrorist organization by the United States and Canada, the PKK has long been trying to send forces to fight the Islamic State in Syria, but they were blocked by the Turkish troops at the border.

Recently, partisans of various communist organizations in Turkey, including the TKP/ML, MLKP and MKP [1] defied the Turkish authorities and went to support the resistance in Kobanê. Meanwhile, thousands of jihadist fighters’ including some one hundred Canadians’ easily entered Syria from Turkey’ to commit the brutal crimes that were reported in the media. When such crimes were committed against the Kurds and other minorities they were ignored by the Western media, but when a few Westerners were beheaded the war machine responded.

The Kurdish struggle for independence and national liberation is now at the heart of the tumults happening in the Middle East. Scattered and separated by the frontiers set up from the Sykes-Picot Agreement of 1916, the Kurds initiated a protracted struggle in which the socialist and class aspects varied depending on organizations, countries, and eras. Led by the PKK, the Turkish part of the Kurdish movement has always been seen as the most numerous and militant. It is in 2012 that the People’s Protection Units (YPG) were established in Syria, under the leadership of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), itself inspired by the PKK. The YPG raised eyebrows in July, when they defended and liberated some 100,000 Yezidis who had taken refuge in the mountains. It is reported that they now possess more than 40,000 combatants, 40% of them being women who are fighting not only for the defeat of ISIS but to free themselves from oppression and exploitation.

Contrary to his claims, Harper and his government do not defend our security, nor that of the victims of the Islamic State; his only objective is to ensure the maintenance of the dominant position of Canadian imperialism in a world currently in upheaval. On any issue whatsoever—be it oil exploitation or mining, the financing of health and social programs, the disappearance of thousands of indigenous women, etc.—the Canadian state has repeatedly proven that it has no interest at all in the safety of the workers and the masses.

If Canada was really a force for progress and freedom as the government claims, it would not have tagged the PKK as a terrorist organzation. It would condemn the State of Israel for its policy of colonization and destruction of the occupied territories and support the revolutionary forces in monarchies such as Bahrain. Above all, it would stop the repression against indigenous peoples here: the future of their territories would be in their hands, like factories and production sites would be in the hands of workers.

Those who are mainly responsible for the unjust and barbaric world in which we are living will never be allies in the struggle against barbarism, oppression, and exploitation. Down with Canadian imperialism! Let’s unite with the workers and popular masses who fight for their freedom everywhere!

[1] TKP/ML and the MKP are Maoist parties, while the MLKP defines itself as Marxist-Leninist. Both are supporting the right to self-determination for Kurdish people.