The Sound of War Drums in the Middle East


Statement by the Internationalist Socialist League (RCIT Section in Israel / Occupied Palestine), 22.02.2018,




The shooting down of the Israeli F16 over the skies of Syria was a blow to the Israeli air force that has gotten used to control the skies of Lebanon and Syria and attack positions of Hezbollah, Syria and Iran at a whim.


It was the first time an Israeli military airplane was shot down since 1982. Following this event, four Israeli soldiers were wounded. This happened when an improvised explosive device blew up along the border with Gaza that is under siege since 2007. The Israeli soldiers were injured while trying to remove a Palestinian flag, a symbol of defiance against Israeli oppression. The Israeli army retaliated by attacking 18 Hamas positions.


According to Aljazeera reporters from Gaza, two Palestinian teenagers were killed in the southern area of the besieged Gaza Strip, following two waves of Israeli air raids.


The two bodies of the two 17-year-old boys were retrieved in the city of Rafah on Sunday morning, Ashraf al-Qudra, and spokesman for Gaza's health ministry, confirmed.


At least two other Palestinians have been wounded, one of whom is in critical condition, and are currently treated in a medical facility in Rafah. [1]


This is the most serious clash between Israel and Hamas since 2014, when Israel killed 2,300 Palestinians with more than 17,000 injured, according to the annual report by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.


It is difficult not to see that a new war between Israel and Gaza or Israel and Syria, Iran and Hezbollah is on the way. The only two questions are when and with whom? It is even possible that this time Israel will face four fronts: Gaza, Lebanon, Syria and Iran. In such a war the interest of the international working class lies with a military defeat for imperialist Israel. However, it is more likely that the next war of Israel will begin in the south against Hamas.


We think so because the situation in Syria is becoming even more complicated by the war between the Kurds in Northern Syria and Turkey. As this statement is written a convoy of 20 vehicles with heavy machine guns carrying dozens of pro-Assad fighters entered Afrin region waving Assadist Syrian flags and chanting pro-government slogans. It has to be seen whether they will fight alongside the Kurds.


Last month, Turkey launched a major air and ground attack against the Kurds in Afrin. Syria’s government has not been involved in the fighting in Afrin since 2012, but now Assad has announced his intentions to back the Kurdish YPG militia in Afrin.


The armed deployment, said Damascus, will arrive after an agreement was reached with the People’s Protection Units (YPG) group, “Popular forces will arrive in Afrin within a few hours to support its people’s stand against the Turkish regime’s attack on the area and its people,” announced Sana, the Syrian state news agency. The forces, continued Sana, will position themselves at the frontier – a move that opens up the possibility of direct clashes with the Turks and allied Syrian Arab militias. [2]


The reference to “popular forces” indicate that the initial units may not be the regular Syrian's army, but paramilitaries composed of, among others, Shia Afghans recruited in Iran, and the Shabiha – the militia of Syria’s ruling Alawite community.


Turkish foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said in response to the Syrian statement: “If they [the Syrians] are entering Afrin to protect YPG/PKK, nobody can stop the Turkish army.” However, he added that “there will be no problem” if the regime forces were being sent to control the Kurds. “We have always expressed our support for Syria’s territorial integrity. We are one of the countries with the utmost support for it.” [3]


Nuri Mahmoud, a spokesman for the YPG, also spoke of “preserving the unity of Syria”. He said: “We are calling on the Syrian army to protect Afrin because we would love to preserve a unified Syria." [4] This statement is a clear betrayal of the Kurdish masses who want an independent state.


Even though the Kurdish militia has been considered the most reliable pro US imperialism in Syria, the US has not intervened militarily against Turkey on the side of the Kurds. Last month the US announced its plans to create a new armed force with the Kurds close to the Turkish border. After Turkey protested with strong words, the Pentagon said it drops this plan. [5]


While we defend the Kurds’ right to self determination in the regions they are the majority in Turkey, Syria and Iran, it is clear that the reactionary leadership of the Kurds, that relies on the imperialists and now on Assad and that has committed many atrocities against Arabs, rather than being part of the Syrian revolution, will never be able to gain a state with their strategic alliances. As the popular saying goes "those who sleep with the dogs will wake up with fleas." At best they will win a short lived autonomy.


Nevertheless, in the war between Turkey and the oppressed Kurds we defend the Kurds as long as they fight for their territory. However, if this war will turn into a war between Turkey and Assad's army we will be for a revolutionary defeat for both sides. It seems, however, that Assad’s army and militias are more likely to prevent the Kurds from fighting Turkey rather than defend them against Turkey. In the meantime, it means that the hands of Assad are full and Israel will be free to attack Gaza without so much as a symbolic protest from Syria.


The Kurds, like the Palestinians, will not be free short of a victorious Arab revolution that will begin with democratic demands. In order to win it is necessary for the workers and the Fallahins to take power and establish a socialist Federation of the Middle East with red Palestine and red Kurdistan. For such a victory, revolutionary working class parties - sections of the Fifth International, must be built.










[3] ibid.


[4] ibid.