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Workers Vanguard No. 1091

3 June 2016
The closing date for news in this issue is 31 May.

Workers Vanguard skips alternate issues in June, July and August. Our next issue will be dated July 1.

 

Workers Vanguard

Down With U.S. Imperialism!

Syria Quagmire

On April 25, President Barack Obama announced that the number of U.S. Special Operations troops in Syria would be officially increased from 50 to 300. Washington’s latest strategy for fighting the Islamic State (ISIS) is for U.S. commandos to support an armed force consisting mainly of Kurds from northern Syria and backed up by U.S. airstrikes. That armed force, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), is providing the ground troops for U.S. imperialist intervention in the country. These latest developments can only serve to escalate the unspeakable suffering that has been inflicted on the Syrian people by the U.S. imperialists and various lesser powers.

The SDF was formally announced last October, the day after the U.S. officially abandoned its fruitless effort—which had cost $500 million—to raise an army of “moderate,” Sunni Arab insurgents. The SDF is basically a subsidiary of the People’s Protection Committees (YPG) and includes several smaller non-Kurdish groups. The YPG is the military wing of the Syrian-based Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD), which is allied to the nationalist Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) based in Turkey. The setting up of the SDF was prepared by a year of joint operations in which the YPG served as proxies for the U.S. military. During that time, as Kurdish forces overran ISIS-controlled villages, they repeatedly carried out communalist expulsions, driving Arabs and Turkmen from their homes.

“Iraq First”

The formation of the SDF marks an adjustment in Washington’s military strategy for fighting ISIS. Dubbed “Iraq First” by administration officials, that strategy had focused on providing bombing support to Washington’s proxies in Iraq, namely, the Baghdad government, the Shia militias and the Kurdish pesh merga in the north of the country. U.S. airpower and special forces continue to support those Iraqi proxies as they push toward Mosul, the biggest city in that country controlled by ISIS. Imperialist airstrikes are currently being carried out in support of Iraqi government forces as they assault Falluja. In May, the imperialists and their lackeys also opened a new front in Syria as the SDF began attacking Arab-majority villages on the outskirts of Raqqa, the de facto capital of ISIS in Syria. U.S. officials have declared that the eventual aim is to seize Raqqa, clearly auguring a major escalation in the U.S.-led war against ISIS.

Meanwhile, Russian president Vladimir Putin announced in March that he would be significantly scaling back Russia’s military intervention in Syria. The purpose of that intervention was to bolster the regime of Russia’s ally, Syrian president and Alawite Bashar al-Assad, whose forces recaptured the historic city of Palmyra from ISIS at the end of March. Even as it declares war on ISIS, the Obama administration—or at least significant components of it—are still banking on the fall of the Assad regime. As noted by Jonathan Steele in the London Review of Books (21 April), U.S.-led airstrikes against ISIS (also known as IS) are “highly selective. They helped the Syrian Kurdish ground forces, the YPG, to liberate the towns of Kobani and Tal Abyad, both on the border with Turkey, from IS last year, but did nothing to protect the Syrian army when it came under threat from IS. When IS forces laid siege to Palmyra last May and drove Assad’s army out after a week-long battle, not a single American plane was seen.” (read on)

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About the ICL




V.I. LeninLeon TrotskyThe International Communist League (Fourth Internationalist) is a proletarian, revolutionary and internationalist tendency committed to the task of building Leninist parties as national sections of a democratic-centralist international. Our aim is the achievement of new October Revolutions—nothing else, nothing other, nothing less. The ICL bases itself on Marxist historical, dialectical materialism and seeks in particular to carry forward the international working-class perspectives of Marxism developed in the theory and practice of the Bolshevik leaders V. I. Lenin and L. D. Trotsky and embodied in the decisions of the first four Congresses of the Communist International as well as key documents of the Fourth International such as the Transitional Program (1938) and "War and the Fourth International" (1934). We also look to James P. Cannon, a leader of the early American Communist Party who was won to Trotskyism and went on to become a principal founder of the Socialist Workers Party (SWP), working in close collaboration with Leon Trotsky. The origins of the ICL are in the Spartacist League/U.S., which began as the Revolutionary Tendency in the SWP and was bureaucratically expelled in 1963. Our ICL "Declaration of Principles and Some Elements of Program" was modeled on the Declaration of Principles adopted at the 1966 founding conference of the SL/U.S.

Adopted at the Third International Conference of the ICL in early 1998, the declaration presently exists in English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Japanese, Chinese, German, Russian, Polish, Italian, Turkish, Indonesian, Greek, Korean and Tagalog. In this post-Soviet period, marked by a deep regression of proletarian consciousness, we continue to be guided by Trotsky's statement that "the task of the vanguard is above all not to let itself be carried along by the backward flow; it must swim against the current." Reforge the Fourth International, world party of socialist revolution!