After the terrible attacks on November 13 in Paris, the President François Hollande – trying to increase its hitherto battered popularity – took a defiant and openly bellicose posture: “France is at war”, he announced to the Parliament.
The “Socialist” Hollande displayed a boundless hypocrisy and raised a global war between “civilization” and “terrorist barbarism.” His intent is to perform George W. Bush’s international role assumed in 2001 and to endorse the rhetoric of the far-right and xenophobic parties like Marine Le Pen’s National Front in France.
In this regard, he called for a “single united international” coalition against the Islamic State (IS) for which he would meet leaders of the US, Britain, Germany, Italy, Russia and China in the coming days.
At the same time, the French government asked the European Union (EU) the maximum military cooperation with France, presented as an “attacked” country. The answer, unprecedented in the history of the continent, was positive. 28 European governments unanimously decided to activate the “mutual assistance clause” that the EU Treaty foresees in the event of “attack” on a member.
The terrorist attacks by the Islamic State, reactionary to the core, far from “hitting” the “West” have provided an infamous “civilizing crusade” to which conveniently have joined Pope Francis – who said that the world faces a “kind of third world war”[ 1] – and the UN, which quickly passed a resolution to please Paris, by which the European borders will be strengthened and mobility control, including European citizens, will be tightened.
Hollande’s immediate reaction in the military field was to step up airstrikes against Syria. Fighter jets such as Rafale and Mirage made wide-scale bombings, mainly in the city of Raqqa, self-proclaimed capital of the “Caliphate” controlled by the IS since June 2014. A few days ago, the Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier, symbol of the French navy, has been deployed to the eastern Mediterranean. Theaircraft carrier’s arrival in the area will greatly boost France’s ability to launch airstrikes in Syria.
As part of this offensive, Hollande made an agreement with Russia. The attacks by IS in Paris also will have fit Moscow like a glove.
Sanctioned financially by the US and the EU because of his annexationist policy in Ukraine, Putin took the opportunity to insist with his cynical call for a “global action” against terrorism, trying to strengthen his international position and, above all, better safeguard his interests in Syria, mainly the protection of the naval base at Tartus and the maintenance of oil deals between Al-Assad’s regime and Russian companies.
The Russian president is trying to capitalize on the “single united coalition” called by the Elysee not only to reduce his isolation, but also to increase his influence in the region. It is not for other reason that, after the attacks on Paris, the Kremlin was fast to recognize that the Russian aircraft shot down over the Sinai last October 31 was the result of an IS attack, which at the time was denied. The fact is that, cunningly, Russia happily joined the “civilizing crusade” of imperialism and announced it will increase its military presence in Syria adding at least 25 more aircrafts.
Furthermore, the IS terrorist action reinforced the permanence of al-Assad in power and therefore made the political and military situation of the anti-dictatorship Syrian rebels much more complicated.
This is because these attacks have strengthened the policy of keeping in power the satrap of Damascus – whose slaughtering of the Syrian people continues unabated before the world’s indifference – who has long been considered by imperialism as a “lesser evil” against the dangers, first, of a triumph of the Syrian revolution and, secondly, before the advance of the IS in and outside the Middle East.
In this sense, from the agreement between the US and Russia, a few weeks ago a conference was held in Vienna to achieve a “negotiated transition” that would mainly “preserve the (dictatorial) institutions in Syria.”The reality, as opposed to the Castro-Chavez narrative that imperialism “conspires” against al-Assad, is that neither the US nor Europe have problems in that, regarding their counter-revolutionary plan, the Syrian dictator remains in power more or less time.
So, if at least since an year and a half nobody talks about “overthrowing” al-Assad, because the “priority” was changed to “fighting the IS”, after the attacks in Paris no imperialist power even mention the Syrian dictatorship.
Resorting to the French appeal, the British government announced plans to bomb Syria in December. Cameron also assured he will boost the defense-equipment budget by 7% for the next 10 years.
Similarly, Merkel announced that 650 German soldiers will be deployed in Mali, to decrease the participation of the French army in West Africa so that it can focus on the “fight against terrorism” in Syria.
We will have to see the dynamics of this military escalation. At least so far, the US has taken a more cautious stance. While Hollande announced the “war”, Obama warned that “this is not a conventional war.” The US president candidates, as the Democrat Hillary Clinton or the Republican Jen Bush (brother of George W. Bush), quickly clamored for more troops and air intervention.
However, Obama reiterated that, so far, the attacks in Paris will not change his tactics: airstrikes combined with support for “local forces” to confront the IS. The US has deployed 3,500 soldiers in Iraq and fifty “military advisers” in Syria. Despite the bellicose opposition rhetoric against Obama – a clear electoral manoeuvre to capitalize on the events in France – except for some “hawks” in Congress or minor candidates, no one seriously intends to repeat the Iraq-style invasion of 2003.
This does not exclude the possibility that other countries, such as Russia or even France, could send troops to Syria. Putin said he is studying this possibility that, in the context of the political and military dynamics, can’t be ruled out.
Hollande attacks democratic freedoms in France
Back to France, it should be noted that the belligerent foreign policy of Hollande government is combined, internally, with a repressive and police-like policy. Of course, always taking care to do so in the name of “freedom”, “democracy” and other “European values”. Hollande declared a state of emergency throughout the country that, in principle, will remain in force until February 26, 2016. This draconian measure was obtained by hardening an Act of April 3, 1995, and was approved in the parliament by both government supporters and opponents of the French president, including, shamefully, the MPs of the Jean Luc Melenchon’s “anti-capitalist” Front de Gauche (Left Front).
That very parliament passed another Hollande’s request without hesitation: give the Army an unprecedented freedom of action. The streets are taken by the military. More than a hundred people are arrested. The demonstrations are prohibited. The same happens in Belgium, where the troops patrol the streets and arrest persons without warning.
In other words, we are facing a frontal attack on the democratic freedoms of the French and European peoples that must can receive the strongest condemnation of the labor movement and the international left.
The impact on the immigration crisis
In addition to improving the conditions for a stronger imperialist intervention in Syria, the IS attacks in France also provided to European governments the opportunity to restrain the movements and persecute thousands of immigrants trying to obtain shelter and asylum after fleeing the horrors of war in Syria and other Middle East or African countries.
After a first speech on receiving with “open arms” the refugees, especially after the political impact of the death of the Syrian child Aylan Kurdi, Merkel and the German Congress begin to turn towards a tougher border control. Xenophobia and Islamophobia fueled by the bourgeois media create a favorable climate for neo-Nazi parties as PEGIDA and Alternative for Germany, which in recent weeks organized marches and increased racist attacks on refugee centers.
In France itself, a camp in the city of Calais that sheltered thousands of refugees from Afghanistan, Syria, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Sudan and Iraq was burned shortly after learning of the attack.
There are indications that the fire was caused by xenophobic groups . Meanwhile, the Hungarian Parliament rejected the irrelevant refugees quota system, arguing that this could contribute to “expand terrorism” on the continent. The Hungarian government, even before the attacks in Paris, ordered the building of fences along the borders, patrolled by the army. In Poland, the right-wing party Law and Justice (PiS) won the elections in late October and announced it would not accept more refugees.
Austria and Slovenia, meanwhile, have restricted the number of refugees they would accept per day to no more than two thousand people.
1. It’s imperative that all the labor and popular movements, mainly in France and other imperialist countries, clearly reject the escalation of airstrikes and the eventual deployment of ground troops to Syria. It can’t be forgotten, even for a moment, that imperialism is primarily responsible for the economic and social catastrophe that corrodes the Middle East. The US and European rulers are the biggest terrorists of world history. For decades they have not only colonized weaker countries, but have promoted wars, occupations, atrocious massacres, supported bloody dictatorships like al-Assad’s in Syria and when it suited them, stimulated groups such as Al Qaeda and the IS, which take advantage of the situation of chaos and utter despair in which thousands of people are drawn today in countries like Syria and Iraq.
2. The imperialist bombardment of Syria and Iraq, in addition to having proven ineffective to destroy the IS, just increase the death toll and the suffering to the Syrian civilians. Since the US began bombing the IS, thousands of civilians have died. In recent days, for example, they have killed hundreds of innocent people in Raqqa, a city with nearly half a million inhabitants, on which bombs from the French, American, Russian or Syrian aviations are dropped interchangeably.
3. The most effective way to defeat the IS is to strengthen both Arab and Kurdish Syrian armed resistance. The victories of the alliance between Kurdish militias and the Free Syrian Army in Tal Abyad and Kobanê, twice, show this. The same is true of the Iraqi Kurdish peshmerga who had liberated the city of Sinjar from the clutches of IS just a few days before the Paris attacks. The imperialist or Russian bombing should not be demanded, but heavy weapons and military technology to rebel brigades, so they can defeat both al-Assad and IS dictatorial projects. We fully agree with the proposition of the Local Coordination Committees in Syria: “We stress as well the importance of the need to support the Syrian people, both inside the country and abroad, in order to help us achieve our right to be liberated from tyranny and terrorism. Acceptance of Assad remaining in power after his crimes against humanity will not help in the fight against terrorism; on the contrary, it maintains the source of terrorism.” 
4. It’s important to fight the repressive or restraining measures of the most basic democratic freedoms that European governments apply or attempt to apply nowadays. In this regard, solidarity with refugees should be unfolded.
At a time when governments repress, criminalize, attempt to close borders to thousands of people fleeing wars that imperialism and dictatorships have promoted in the Middle East; at a time when racism, xenophobia and right-wing or directly neonazi parties raise their heads to the beat of Hollande and European leaders drums, the working class and peoples must fight back with unity, solidarity and class struggle. The working class must unite, regardless of ethnic, religious or differences between nations, against the same common enemy: the Capitalist-imperialist barbarism, their governments and parliaments.
More than ever, the workers and the people must take to the streets and shout out loud: Welcome refugees! Native or foreign, the same working class!
Let us reject the repressive and xenophobic measures by European governments!
No to US, French or Russian bombardment of Syria!
Heavy weapons to Arabs or Kurds Syrian rebels, defeat the IS and al-Assad!