...published in Rizospastis on April 30, 2011
Interview of Elisseos Vagenas, member of the CC and responsible for the International Relations Section of the CC of the KKE, concerning the developments in Syria and the wider region.
We discussed the startling developments in Syria and the wider region with Elisseos Vagenas, member of the CC of the KKE and responsible for its International Relations section, regarding the assessments of the party.
-Recently on the 20th of March, the CC of the KKE published its decision in relation to the developments in our region. Nevertheless, the developments are in full flow. What has changed in recent weeks?
- Of course the developments are in full flow. The main conclusions arrived at by the CC of the KKE still hold true. In our region (Balkans, Eastern Mediterranean, Middle East, North Africa, Caucasus) serious and dangerous developments are unfolding, which are characterized by the intensity of the contradictions between the imperialist powers, in a region which contains rich energy resources and constitutes a “transport route” for raw materials from Central Asia, the Caspian, the Middle East, both to the West and to the rapidly rising powers of Asia (China, India etc).
The strongest monopolies, imperialist unions and rising imperialist powers are entangled in a web of contradictions and struggle. Within the framework of the imperialist system, the bourgeois classes of the region seek “axes” of alliance, move into alliances and compromises, so that they benefit from the struggle for natural resources and market shares.
At the same time, we see that the UN, NATO, the police and military forces of the EU, the military bases, and naval fleets are used in this struggle, as well as every kind of pretext.
From the moment the Decision of the CC of the party was published we have witnessed several developments, the most important of these being the open imperialist intervention in Libya, with the decision of the UN Security Council and the naked imperialist military intervention of UN and French forces in the Ivory Coast, as well as the bloody developments in Yemen and Syria. We see that the developments are in full flow regarding various issues in many countries and regions. But, they continually pose in an even more persistent manner the question of the relationship capitalism-crisis-war. The very thing that we have noted theoretically and from historical experience is being confirmed by the recent developments.
The demonstrations which are taking place in Syria have their roots in the country itself. In the economic, social and political problems which the working class and the other popular strata are experiencing. Nevertheless it is obvious that they are being used by bourgeois forces and imperialist centres.
- The Greek as well as international media have presented the events in Syria as another popular “uprising” with democratic demands, which is being bloodily suppressed by the authorities. What is the stance of the KKE in relation to these mobilizations, especially taking into account the solidarity which it expressed to the mobilizations in Egypt and Tunisia?
We are very carefully monitoring the developments in the region, and not only from one source. The KKE is accustomed to taking public positions in a responsible way and to carefully informing the workers in our country concerning developments at both a domestic and international level.
We examine the mobilizations, where popular forces participate, by looking at the goals which the social and political forces active inside a country have, as well as the foreign powers which are involved in this mobilization. This is not always apparent from the slogans which are used. I should remind you that in the relatively recent past we have the experience of popular and workers’ mobilizations which in the name of “democracy” and “freedom” had a reactionary and counterrevolutionary direction e.g. in Poland in the period of “Solidarnosc”.
This is even more true today as there are many facts which show the large-scale distortion of the events by the bourgeois international media, orchestrated by the well-known Al Jazeera channel, which is based in Qatar, and is being promoted as the electronic “Trojan horse” of the bourgeois class in the region and supports the bourgeois modernization at a political and economic level in the countries of North Africa and the Middle East, as well as the imperialist plans for the “Greater Middle East”.
-What is this plan? What goals does it serve?
As is noted in the Decision of the CC, the basic goals of the imperialists and not the pretexts (concerning “democracy” and the “non-proliferation of nuclear weapons”), which are being promoted through these plans are:
The bourgeois modernization of the bourgeois regimes in the region, at both an economic level, and at the level of the legal-political superstructure in order to safeguard as far as possible a stable basis for the expansion of the monopoly groups in the region’s markets and the strengthening of their role at an international level
The safeguarding of its access to the region’s energy resources and the new deposits in the eastern Mediterranean.
The control of a large area, which is a “crossing-point” for commerce and transport.
Of course every imperialist power has its own individual goals. So the efforts of the USA unquestionably meet and will continue to meet the opposition of rival powers (chiefly the leading countries in the EU, China, and Russia). Since they place in danger their plans to penetrate the region so that their monopolies reap similar benefits in the region .It is within the framework of this competition that we must understand the dismemberment of Sudan which is being pushed forward, as well as the foreign intervention in the Ivory Coast, the imperialist military intervention in Libya and the plan for its possible dismemberment.
These developments can still lead to a more total scenario of destabilization of a large region, which will create problems for the energy supply of the EU- the USA’s rival- as well as for the penetration of Chinese capital and commodities into the EU and Africa.
Imperialism, as the highest stage of capitalism, becomes more aggressive in conditions of capitalist crisis. In addition, it can utilise the situation which has been created in order to blunt the consequences of the global capitalist crisis and to channel capital into wars in the region.
The developments in Syria are not at all unconnected to these plans. Something which is apparent from the statements and positions taken by officials of the imperialist powers, of the USA and the EU, as well as the involvement of regional powers, such as Turkey and Iran.
- You mean that the events in Syria are manufactured from outside the country? Do they constitute a “tool” for the overthrow of the government and President Assad?
-Of course, the events which are taking place in Syria have their roots inside the country itself. In the economic, social and political problems which the working class and the other popular strata are experiencing. These are problems that have been sharpening in recent years, due to the policies of privatization, the reduction of the rights and income of the working class and popular strata, which are being promoted in the interests of the domestic bourgeois class. The KKE supports popular mobilizations which struggle for the solution of the people’s problems, the right of the people to fight, as the long history of our party demonstrates. Our party tries to carefully study the complex developments, such as today’s, in this direction.
And so, we must note that today we have a lot of evidence which demonstrates to us that there is an attempted imperialist intervention in the internal situation of Syria from outside, as well as the manipulation of workers in other countries with fake evidence concerning the developments in Syria. E.g. much of the so-called “video-evidence” which they show us has been filmed in other countries or in other situations. This line of manipulation public opinion has led in recent days to resignations of journalists form Al Jazeera.
Evidence is coming to light on a daily basis which reveals the interventions of neighbouring countries (Saudi Arabia, Turkey). Evidence which reveals the attempts to sharpen and exploit religious contradictions, which speaks of the arming of groups and the training of forces abroad. We must take all of this into account.
It is apparent that the USA, the EU and Israel are interested in the destabilization and weakening of a bourgeois regime, which had anti-imperialist points of reference and is an ally of anti-imperialist forces in Palestine, Lebanon etc. We should not forget that today Syrian territory is under foreign (Israeli) occupation. The weakening of this regime or even its overthrow could whet the appetite of the imperialist plans to attack Iran, under the pretext of its nuclear programme. It may even lead to the new dismemberment of states in the region, and a domino-effect of destabilization and bloodshed, something which will bring new imperialist wars and interventions.
- In the past the Soviet Union has close relations with Syria and the governing Baath party. How do you judge this position and how this fact influences the stance of the KKE in relation to Syria today?
After the 2nd World War, thanks to the influence of the USSR, due to its contribution to the Anti-fascist victory, the superiority of socialism in the reconstruction of the country, the creation of the people’s democracies in Eastern Europe, and the collapse of colonialism, there were positive developments which contributed to the change in the global correlation of forces. Of course, the international imperialist system remained powerful, despite the undoubted strengthening of the forces of socialism. Immediately, after the end of the war, imperialism under the hegemony of the USA, began the Cold War and elaborated a strategy to undermine the socialist system and to regroup its forces. A rivalry developed between the two systems at a global level.
In the same period, in a series of countries, like Syria, the question of national independence and the rallying around this goal were the central issues. Undoubtedly, the acquisition of national independence by the colonies constituted a primary and basic precondition for the overcoming of the retarded development which was predominant in every sector of social life. The USSR and the other socialist states formed a policy of economic and other forms of cooperation and support for the new regimes, amongst them Syria, with the aim that they not be assimilated into the international capitalist market, the imperialist unions, and also to strengthen forces within the governing fronts which were in favour of a socialist orientation.
This effort of the Soviet Union to develop economic relations, and even alliances, with some capitalist states, against the stronger imperialist powers, was desirable and understandable, as it weakened the united front of the imperialists, detached forces from them, even if only temporarily, and utilised contradictions in the imperialist camp. The problem was that this contingent (state) policy of the USSR, which was expressed at an economic, diplomatic or other level in certain countries, was elevated into a principle which was turned into a theory and there was talk of the so-called “non-capitalist path of development”. This created confusion in the international revolutionary movement. As was proved in practice, such a “third road to socialism” does not exist.
Of course our party seeks to draw conclusions form the history of the international communist movement. Thus, the current stance of the KKE e.g. against the imperialist war in Libya, does not in any way mean approval of the Gaddafi regime, with which in any case it never had any relations. Nor, of course, does our opposition to the looming imperialist intervention in Syria, or the possible imperialist attack against Iran, mean that our party retreats from its critical position in relation to the bourgeois regimes of these countries.
With this orientation, the communists focus their attention on what is important, which is at this moment the imperialist war and similar interventions in the region, with participation of our country.
-To what extent does the participation of the Syrian Communist Parties in the “Patriotic front” of the governmental party of Baath influence the stance of the KKE?
-The KKE takes into consideration the positions, the assessments of the communist parties of other countries. We appreciate the consistent anti-imperialist stance of the communists in Syria as well as their contribution to the effort to reconstruct the international communist movement. Recently, just before the outbreak of these specific incidents, Ammar Bagdash, General Secretary of the CC of the Syrian Communist Party had visited our country at the invitation of the KKE. Thus, we had the opportunity to exchange views on the developments in our region. We are aware of and we appreciate the activity of the communists in Syria against the deterioration of the labour relations, the “liberation” of dismissals, for the establishment of the right to strike, against the plans to privatise the land and against the law on the privatisation of the public utilities and in general against the assimilation of Syria into the imperialist organisations. Of course we take their positions into account. Nevertheless, the KKE always seeks to shape its own view on the developments also taking into account our own experience and assessments.
The historical experience of our party and the international communist movement for instance has lead as to the assessment that it is a mistake to separate the bourgeoisie into “comprador” and “patriotic” and to pursue alliances with the latter. In addition, we have made it clear that the power will be either in the hands of the bourgeois class or in the hands of the working class. There cannot be any intermediate power!
Thus, we approach the bourgeois regime of Baath in Syria (Arab Socialist Party), which for its own reasons has been in a long hard and armed conflict with the imperialist state of Israel and consequently with the US as well as with other imperialist plans in the region on the basis of the class analysis and without idealisations.
We support the demand for the immediate withdrawal of Israel from the Syrian and all the Arab territories occupied by the Israeli army with the support of the USA and other imperialist forces. In addition, we fully support the right of each people, including the Syrian people of course, to decide on its future without foreign imperialist interventions either military or economic ,or of a manipulative ideological-political character.
-What does the KKE suggest to the Greek people and the peoples in the region?
-The KKE addresses the working class and the peoples in the region and stresses that their interests are identified with the joint anti-imperialist- antimonopoly struggle, for the disengagement from the imperialist organisations, for the removal of foreign military bases and nuclear weapons, for the return of military forces from the imperialist missions and the integration of this struggle to the struggle for power.
On this basis the people can live peacefully and creatively and utilise the natural resources, which will belong to the people, for their own benefit, for the satisfaction of their own needs.
We condemn the unjust imperialist wars and we struggle for the disengagement of our country from them! However, we know that the wars, which are the continuation of politics by other violent means, are inevitable as long as society is divided to classes, as long as there is exploitation of man by man, as long as imperialism prevails.
The replacement of war by peace in the interests of the people cannot be achieved without the replacement of capitalism by socialism because the imperialist peace prepares the new imperialist wars.