Any one who examines the situation of the Middle East, not in each country separately but as a whole, must come to the conclusion that the days of social and economic stability are definitely over. Instead of economic stability we have crisis. Instead of peace we are caught in the crossfire between the imperialists’ state terror and the individual terror of the Islamic fundamentalists.
One of the most recent cases that caught the attention of people around the world was what happened on the border between Israel and Egypt in the Sinai Desert when three explosions hit holiday resorts populated by thousands of Israelis. The irony is that those people who go to these kinds of resorts are just ordinary working Israelis who cannot afford spending their holidays in far away countries.
The most devastating attack took place last Thursday, when a blast ripped through the Hilton Hotel in the resort town of Taba, close to the border with Israel. Seventeen of the initial 19 casualties were killed in Taba. Most casualties were Israelis, but three of the dead in Taba were Egyptians and one was a female tourist from Russia. Thousands of Israelis fled Sinai all night Thursday. At least 15,000 Israelis were in Sinai at the time of the blasts. Two hours after the Taba blast, three other explosions occurred in the area of the nearby resort towns of Ras Satan. Two Israelis were killed in the blast.
A new organization, the Jama’a Al-Islamiya Al-Alamiya (World Islamist Group) later claimed responsibility for the Taba hotel blast.
While these kinds of terrorist attacks continue, the Israeli army continues with the killing in Gaza. More Palestinians, including teenagers, have been killed in Gaza and according to the Israeli sources the number of dead, many of them women and children, reached 88 by the end of last week.
To justify the killing of large numbers of civilians the Israel army claimed that two young boys were trying to carry out attacks. The two, a 14-year-old and a 15-year-old, had been killed while playing at being militants, Palestinian witnesses said. Abu Foul’s older brother, 19-year-old Mohammed, said he was told by the boys’ friends that the two had been playing on the outskirts of Jabalya, about 200 meters from an IDF tank position. Mohammed said he was told the two boys were playing with an empty tube and gasoline-filled bottles, imitating militants. Also Thursday of last week, a 13-year-old Palestinian boy from Jabalya died of wounds sustained from a missile fired at a group of people in the camp.
The former Palestinian security chief in Gaza, Mohammed Dahlan, told a Spanish reporter that there were no talks underway between the two sides, as Israel was not interested, and he blamed Prime Minister Ariel Sharon for strengthening Hamas and dragging the Palestinians into civil war.
While the Israeli army continues to kill Palestinians, the US army continues to kill Iraqis. According to Al Jazeera, a US air strike on the Iraqi city of Falluja left at least 10 people dead. The US army immediately issued a statement that it had early on Friday targeted a so-called “safe house” used by supporters of al-Qaida linked to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. This is the same language the Israeli army uses, and the same kind of justification for attacking civilian targets. “Multinational forces struck an Abu Musab al-Zarqawi safe house in north-west Falluja on the morning of 8 October. Credible intelligence sources confirmed Zarqawi leaders were meeting at the safe house at the time of the strike,” the statement said.
Falluja, to the west of the capital Baghdad, is in fact targeted frequently by US warplanes on the lookout for supporters of al-Zarqawi. At the same time, the Islamic fundamentalists fired at least two rockets at the Sheraton and Palestine hotels in central Baghdad, causing damage and starting a fire in the area. Panic-stricken guests fled from the building, the lobby of which was littered with shattered glass and bits of rubble.
Thus both Israel/Palestine and Iraq are experiencing brutal state terrorism, with the army storming into civilian areas shooting and bombing ordinary working people. And at the same time we have individual terrorist attacks hitting ordinary working people in Israel. There are important differences between the situation in Iraq and that in Israel, but there are also common elements. In both cases we have people being oppressed by a foreign power. And there is no end in sight to this.
The instability of the Middle East is not only due to military conflict and occupation. The area is being affected by the general crisis if the economy. This is expressed also in a worsening of the infrastructure. An example of this we had in the Lebanon last week.
While we have dark clouds of fire and death over growing parts of the Middle East, the Lebanese people suffered literally from darkness last week. Because of the higher cost of fuel there were power cuts, which plunged the country into four days of darkness. Lebanese Energy Minister Ayub Hmayid has said that electricity would gradually return to normal as ships unloaded fuel. However, those supplies will last only until the end of this month.
“The reason for the blackouts is rising fuel prices,” an EDL [the Lebanese electricity company] official said. “EDL has fallen into a financial crisis where its budget cannot cover the cost of fuel. Today, oil prices are $51 a barrel. Our budget was drawn up on the basis of $25 a barrel.” This has led many to fear a winter by candlelight. The EDL power utility will be struggling to guarantee electricity supplies this winter.
Thus we see how the Lebanese ruling class cannot even provide what is a basic necessity for civilized existence. This problem in the Lebanon serves merely to highlight the crisis of the whole system in the Middle East. Everywhere the basic infrastructures are in decline. Everyday life is becoming more difficult across the whole of the Middle East, for Arabs, Jews, Druzes, Kurds. Unemployment, inflation, falling living standards, do not distinguish between one people and another. They affect all.
Last week’s power cuts in the Lebanon are merely a taste of what is to come in the future. It is part of the hell of growing barbarism of the decaying capitalist order spreading throughout the entire region. And it will continue and deepen so long as capitalism survives in the region. The working class of all countries have the duty to transform this decaying social order into a socialist society based on a nationalized planned economy within a socialist Federation of the Middle East.
Until this is achieved we will see more wars, more terrorism, more conflicts between peoples.