A way out for Syria
The main debate in Assisi as well as in the anti-imperialist movement at large has been over Syria. We encountered an overwhelming common spirit that a way must be found to fulfil the legitimate democratic rights of the popular masses while the support to the resistances against imperialism and Zionism can be continued. The only possibility to end the repression against the democratic popular movement, to avert a sectarian civil war, to stop foreign involvement and to prevent foreign military intervention is a political solution by negotiations. This tendency was epitomized by the presence of two outstanding personalities, namely Haitham Manna from the “National Co-ordination Body for Democratic Change” (NCB), the main anti-imperialist opposition coalition within Syria, and Ali Fayyad, MP for Hezbollah in Lebanon.
The Anti-imperialist Camp and its partners and friends are committed to take international action to promote and facilitate a political solution marrying popular democracy with resistance – the quintessence of revolutionary anti-imperialism.
This will help to overcome the current paralysis of the global movement caused by the impasse of both sides producing sectarian civil war. We are strongly convinced that there will be massive support in the peace and anti-imperialist movement for a negotiated settlement opening up the democratic process and continuing resistance. It is not by accident that even the bishop of Assisi sent greetings and is supporting democracy and peace without foreign intervention.
Tahrir and Islam
Another burning issue – reflecting a larger debate in the broader movement as well – has been the role of the Islamic and Islamist movement which were present with representatives ranging from Tunisia, over Palestine, Lebanon to the state actor Iran.
There are vocal voices in the Arab world as well as in the European left that the Islamic tendencies led by the Muslim Brotherhood is about to replace the ancien regimes across the region essentially playing the same role of puppets of imperialism as their predecessors. They would maintain open market dependent capitalism, continue the repressive state now under the guise of Islam, increase the sectarian mobilisation against the Shia and the Iranian geo-political bloc and leave Israel untouched. The Tahrir movement would be forced into a live and death struggle in order not to return to the status quo ante.
The alternative reading does not deny the existence of these tendencies. But it objects the weighing and the frontal clash logically following from such an assessment. In this view the Arab popular rebellions express a deep historic change: The US order has been severely weakened also thanks to the determined popular resistances across the region. To avoid further loss of control and eventually full-scale revolutions significant concessions to the popular masses are indispensable.
The popular strive for democracy, social justice and national self-determination is not necessarily in contradiction to the attachment to Islam as a symbol of continued resistance to imperialist and Zionist domination. To reduce, however, the current historic turn to an “Islamic awakening”, as the Iranian guest insisted, is as inappropriate as to see only liberal democracy flourishing. The latter pattern easily reverts to the “Islamic winter” assessment as we have heard it by the Western ideologues and their corporate media outlets.
The changes have just begun and the demands of the popular movement are far from being accomplished. The remnants of the old regime need to be dismantled, democratic and social rights materialised, the dreamt-of break with imperialism enforced. The new regimes with strong Islamic components hesitate, oscillate between the popular masses and the elites balancing also the relations with imperialism. They wish to follow the Turkish model of gradual change without ruptures. But they definitely cannot return to the old regime without risking a popular explosion.
We must fully support the popular movements, the Tahrir, to push further ahead, to keep the pressure up, to fulfil the popular demands first of all regarding democratic rights. At the same time we must be aware that the Islamic forces have strong, deep and historic roots within the popular masses including sections of the movement itself. They need time to make their experiences with the Islamic forces in power. But conflicts and battles with the new regimes are ahead also within the Islamic spectrum itself.
No double standards
Bahrain is a small country but its political importance is paramount. It shows that the Tahrir movement is actually supra-confessional and its political advanced forces refuse double standards and sectarianism. When democratic rights and rebellion are legitimate in Egypt and Tunisia why they are not in Bahrain? Those who remain silent over Bahrain reveal that they follow a hidden agenda. This by the way applies also to Syria.
Out of the Euro
Not least there were the forums on Greece and Italy on the struggle against the starvation programme imposed by the EU centre. The strong Greek participation with several political tendencies showed the interest and need of debate and exchange.
The centre of gravity of the debate was revolving around whether the struggle against the austerity programmes needs to target the Euro altogether. In Greece the overwhelming majority refuses the troika’s brutal scheme of slashing the living standard of the popular masses but they nevertheless fear the exit from the eurozone and the ensuing state bankruptcy (a position represented by Syriza). But to remain within the Euro means to accept the rule of the EU oligarchy and the intrinsic logic of its programme. What is instead required is a deep break with the elites which necessarily means the exit from the eurozone and the EU eventually tending towards a break with US-led imperialist capitalism altogether. This implies huge sacrifices (but also to remain does so). In any case the break with the EU is the only possibility for real independence, democracy for the people, social justice and an alternative social model based on solidarity.
It is the very first time since decades that such questions as to how to overcome the global capitalist regime are being posed on the level of the popular masses.
There was common understanding that a very strong political leadership is required to go decisive steps ahead in such a direction. All have been convinced that a revolutionary popular front must be built to fill the political void – which applies also to Italy although the mass struggles are yet to erupt.
The Anti-imperialist Camp will try to bring together the forces of Southern Europe committed to fight the EU and the Euro head-on and who converge on the project of the revolutionary popular front.
On step ahead
While from a political point of view Assisi’s camp has been a success, we had hoped for a stronger participation. Despite the structural crisis of the global capitalist system, the Arab popular rebellions and the continued resistance movements, we have to acknowledge that Europe remains a political desert. We made an offer which has not been accepted in the way we hoped for at least for the time being. Maybe a deeper shock is necessary to end the decade long paralysis of the popular masses and the antagonist forces. We have been one step ahead and we will maintain our offer hoping that it will be received in the nearer future. The prophet needs to go to the mountain and not vice versa: We will have to participate in upcoming struggles against the elites even though they lack political memory and consciousness and will not fit to the criteria of the historic left. If we do not learn to read the language of the incipient popular rebellion, if we do not try to direct it against the ruling elites our message will never be received.
Our strategic proposal to all the popular anti-imperialist forces is to unite within a broad front to take co-ordinated global action bridging the gap between different revolutionaries, leftists, Islamic etc. Already one decade ago with the second Intifada and the upcoming resistances against the US global war we have been launching this proposal. Today the conditions are much better given the consolidation of the resistances, the weakening of the US global rule and the crisis of the capitalist system and – as one consequence – the return of popular revolutionary movements. Also the anti-imperialist forces across the globe are riper. A decisive step ahead must be taken.
Anti-imperialists of the world, unite!