Karen Dabrowska

Tripoli Post Article

Originally published: 30th March 2013

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One fight: The Struggle for Democracy and the Struggle Against Imperialism


Two struggles: the struggle for democracy and the struggle against imperialist domination and control are very closely interrelated. They boil down to the same fight. If one side of the equation is downgraded or neglected the other part of the equation becomes totally dominant.

That was the message of Sami Ramadani a senior lecturer at London Metropolitan University when he addressed a meeting of the Algeria Solidarity Campaign at the School of African and Oriental Studies at London University under the auspices of the Algerian Solidarity Campaign.

He emphasised that the struggle for democracy in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region has common features. The current imperialist powers that want to intervene today are the former colonial powers.

They are joined by the USA which posed as an anticolonial power post WW1 and WW11 but has joined in the struggle to control the resources of the region along with the old colonial powers – Britain, France and Italy.

During the first part of his presentation, Ramadani focused on the underlying consideration of energy resources: oil and gas, in the struggle for control of the MENA region. He said that oil is a vital raw material for the modern industrial complex that is being built around the world by major capitalist corporations.

This fundamental raw material goes way beyond oil being a source of energy. It is a vital raw material of modern industry. Whoever controls the oil resources will have a major advantage in the conflict between powers. There are conflicts between China and the United States over their activities in Africa. There has always has been a power struggle in who dominates the energy resources and raw material wealth.

The conflict over the greater Middle East is really a vital cornerstone of not only attempts to satisfy the West’s own capitalist economies but to deny their competitors dominance over this vital resource.

Trade in arms is very important. It comes either first or second in priorities in world trade. The West pumps arms into the MENA region more than anywhere else in the world. The Gulf rulers try to get more weapons in return for supplying the USA, the West and Russia with oil because they fear democracy.

They are the domestic dictators and reactionaries who exploit the people, torture and imprison them and fight against their interests.

Like the dictators the imperialists also fear democracy because if the people emancipate themselves, achieve democracy and rule over their own affairs imperialism will not have a standing in the region. The imperialists will lose their control over oil, trade and over this vital strategic region.

In the second part of his presentation Ramadani argued that great caution needs to be exercised when supporting the argument that it is acceptable for the imperialist powers to intervene where there is a humanitarian threat and the likelihood of a massacre or genocide - regardless of what happened in the past. He used the example of intervention in Iraq.

Saddam’s regime was backed by imperialist powers for many years and was supplied with chemical weapons. But when there was a genuine threat of genocide against the Kurdish people and the people in southern Iraq it was argued that there was an emergency situation which dictated that assistance was required.

A package of lies including Iraq’s possession of WMD’s, was used to justify the intervention.

On the other hand there was a situation where parts of the opposition to imperialist domination and control argued that one should forget completely about Saddam’s anti-people record and focus on fighting imperialism full stop.

“I was very active against Saddam’s regime but I could not reconcile that struggle with supporting imperialist intervention and invasion and the 13 years of sanctions that preceded the imperialist war of aggression against the Iraqi people,” Ramadani said.

“That does not mean that I was no longer was part of the struggle for democracy in Iraq or social change but the struggle for democracy and the struggle against imperialism are inseparable. I believe this is the view of most Iraqi people.

“As the drums of war were beaten, as the US forces were gathering momentum to launch the war against the Iraqi it was obvious that the people were in danger from US bombers and the jack boots of occupation were threatening the Iraqi people in a way they had not seen for centuries. More than a million Iraqis paid for that war with their blood.

“What was dished out as humanitarian intervention translated into a war of genocide and some four million Iraqis became refugees: two million external and two million internally displaced people.

“Now the silent killers are water borne diseases which are on the rise in a very alarming fashion. There is a lack of electricity to power the sewage plants and the sewage is being pumped into the rivers.”

Ramadani concluded his presentation by referring to the liberation of women as another justification for intervention both in the context of Afghanistan or Iraq. Women have always featured in imperialist propaganda.

The reality in Iraq today is that despite many decades of enormous achievements by women through their own struggle they dare not walk the streets of Baghdad at night. There is a frightening catalogue of deterioration in Iraq and one of the consequences of occupation is that the country might be heading for civil war.

“When we see headlines about humanitarianism we need to question whether these headlines reflect the actuality of a conflict or struggle.”