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Islamic and Leftist Anti-imperialists unite

24. January 2009

From January 16 to 18 an international gathering of groundbreaking importance took place in Beirut, Lebanon. About 1,000 delegates representing diverse organizations from Lebanon, the Arab world, Europe, the Americas, Africa and Asia came together in the "Beirut International Forum for Resistance, Anti-imperialism, Peoples' Solidarity and Alternatives" to vibrantly exchange experiences and forge a common struggle.

In the opening session Hezbollah’s deputy-secretary Sheik Naim Kassem captured the common spirit of the assembly: Today there are only two camps in the world. The one of US imperialism and its allies and the other one of the resistances; regardless of their ideological, cultural or religious affiliation. The resistances must be unified against its common enemy. This is only possible by respecting the diversity of the resistance movements.

Hezbollah’s deputy-secretary Sheik Naim Kassem

Whether from Venezuela (which had a massive presence), India, or even from the United States in person of former US Attorney General Ramsey Clark, all the speakers from the anti-war and anti-imperialist movements of Europe and the US strongly confirmed the gathering’s commitment to an anti-imperialist alliance. This commitment from such a gathering alone is an achievement of utmost importance. Only a few years back this was unthinkable: the resistance movements, particularly the Islamic ones, were mistrusted and the Western antagonist forces still believed themselves to be playing a global protagonist role.

Although planned long ahead of the Zionist aggression on Gaza, the entire event was marked by a profound support of the Palestinian resistance struggle in Gaza. Nobody, not even the forces present from non-Islamic countries, used Hamas’ leadership of the resistance in Gaza as a pretext to reject the support to the resistance, as had been common in the past.

Spokesman of Hamas Osama Hamdan

On the contrary, during the Forum in Beirut, massive solidarity demonstrations for Gaza with hundreds of thousands of participants took place across Europe, indicating a clear shift in important sections of the antagonist forces. (However, these demonstrations should not be allowed to obscure the powerful and growing anti-Islamic campaign which is adding to the already existing Islamophobic sentiment in the West.)

An indicator for the changed climate in favour of anti-imperialism was the participation of what could be called the left wing of the Social Forum. Their participation contrasts the times when the vicious formula “no war, no terror” was predominant in the circles of the Social Forum, equating imperialism with the resistances and taking a “politically correct” equidistance. Those forces which still hold such a position have decisively lost their influence and no longer lead mass movements. Careful participants of the Beirut Forum could, however, notice a certain wariness to lend the same support to the Iraqi and Afghan resistance as they do for Palestine. This wariness is due to the interests of Iran as a regional power; interests which do conflict with these resistances. Given Iran’s record of support to the Iraqi regime installed by the US occupiers the message by the Iranian president to the forum rightly denouncing the Arab regimes which follow Israeli and US interest as traitors appears somewhat vapid.

Leila Khaled from the PFLP

Next steps

Given the fact that this was the first Anti-Imperialist Forum of such scale, the signal sent by this conference to form an international anti-imperialist front was already very bold. Nevertheless the organizers were keen to develop some concrete agreements for the next steps. It is clear that new activities and meetings will be needed to go ahead on that track. As Anti-imperialist Camp we have drawn the following conclusions and put forward the following proposals in the spirit of the forum:

1) Insist on the “Boycott, Divestment Sanctions” campaign to boycott Israel on all levels.

2) Send brigades and delegations to Gaza and other places of resistance to build solidarity from below and allow direct contact with the reality on the ground in order to counter the distortions of the Western corporate media.

3) Hold an anti-imperialist conference in Europe in support of the resistances as a continuation of Beirut forum.

4) Build a permanent and open global co-ordination body of anti-imperialist forces.

The main axis of our proposed European Anti-Imperialist Forum could be:

1) Give voice to the resistances

2) Oppose raging Islamophobia which provides the ideological backing to the ongoing imperialist war

3) Propose a single democratic state as the only solution to the problems in Palestine

Anti-Imperialist Camp
January 24, 2009

Read the Final declaration