Struggling against Islamophobia without lapsing into Orientalism

Islamophobia in Europe today is linked to a long history of colonial rule and enduring armed conflict in the Middle East. In opposing this form of racism, it is important that leftists in Europe reject culturalist tropes about Muslims and remain committed to the struggle for democratic rights.

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Joseph Daher: Iran Failed to Translate Political and Military Influence into Sizable Economic Gains

Joseph Daher is a researcher specializing in political economy. He wrote extensively on Syria and Lebanon, and most notably authored “Syria after the Uprisings, The Political Economy of State Resilience.” He is affiliated with the European University Institute and its Wartime and Postconflict in Syria program. 

The  Syrian Observer: Recent reports indicate that Iranian exports to Syria rose sharply since the beginning of 2021.  Is this a sign that Iran is on its way to become the dominant force in Syria economically?

Daher: Indeed, Iran’s intervention in Syria has allowed it to obtain some concessions in the economic domain. For example, Iran was able to sign free trade agreements with Syria that allowed it to bolster exports. In addition, an Iranian company close to the Pasdaran (Iranian Guardians of the Revolution) was granted a contract for the reconstruction of a major power plant in the area around Aleppo.

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Palestinian liberation and the MENA revolutions

Israel’s recent attacks against Palestinians in Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza demonstrated, once again, the brutal colonial, racist, and apartheid nature of the Zionist state. The replacement of Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s government by a new coalition led by ultranationalist Naftali Bennett will change nothing for Palestinians.

The new regime’s policy is no different than Netanyahu’s. Proving this reality, Bennett ordered fresh air strikes on Gaza just a few days after his assumption of power. These new acts of violence and repression prove why the international left must stand in unconditional solidarity with the Palestinian resistance.

But we also must engage in the strategic debates about how to win liberation and our role in it. Socialists should see the Palestinian struggle as inextricably tied to the revolutions in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) against all the region’s states, most importantly Israel. This combination of resistance in Palestine and regional revolution is the only realistic way to free Palestine and all the peoples of the region.

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Mercredi 16 juin se réunissent à Genève les présidents Joe Biden et Vladimir Poutine pour discuter d’un certain nombre de dossiers internationaux et chercher des formes d’entente et de collaboration.

Des trafiquants de la mort

Les États-Unis et la Russie disposent respectivement du 1er et 4e budget militaire le plus élevé au monde, avec des dépenses militaires de 778 milliards et 62 milliards de dollars respectivement. Ces deux États abritent ensemble 14 des 25 plus grandes entreprises d’armement au monde. Enfin, pour un montant respectif de 9,3 et 3,2 milliards de dollars, les États-Unis et la Russie sont les deux plus grands exportateurs d’armes au monde. Ces deux puissances nucléaires avec le plus grand arsenal mondial ont donc une large responsabilité dans la prolifération et l’usage mortifère des armes dans le monde.

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The Private Banking Sector in Syria: Between Survival and Opportunity

This study analyses the evolution of the private banking sector in Syria and the challenges and obstacles it faces after a decade of conflict with an eye to understanding the role the sector could play in the country’s eventual economic recovery. The paper first examines the rebirth of the sector and its main characteristics in the 2000s. It then examines the key consequences of the war and international sanctions for private banks in Syria. The paper also looks at changes in ownership of the main private banks. Finally, it analyses the resumption of certain activities by some private banks during a window of relative economic stabilisation between 2017 and 2019, and their attempts to capture international funding for humanitarian assistance to Syrians inside the country.

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La mascarade de la « réélection » de Bachar al-Assad

Damas a organisé une mascarade à grande échelle avec une deuxième « élection présidentielle » depuis le début du processus révolutionnaire en 2011. Bachar al-Assad a « obtenu 95,1% des voix », améliorant son score de la présidentielle de 2014 (88%).

Les élections présidentielles ont toujours eu pour objectif principal, depuis l’arrivée de la famille Assad au pouvoir en 1970, de mobiliser les réseaux du régime et affirmer son pouvoir total sur la société syrienne.

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Depuis le début des années 1980, le racisme environnemental est dénoncé par une partie du mouvement écologiste. Néanmoins ce discours reste encore peu diffusé. Il est pourtant crucial pour lier luttes contre le racisme et l’urgence climatique.

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Islamophobia in Europe

WHILE ISLAMOPHOBIA, CONNECTED to forms of anti-Arab racisms and colonial and imperial histories, certainly existed prior to 2000, it exploded in Western countries after the attacks of September 11, 2001 by the jihadist organization al-Qaida. A new enemy had been found and laws discriminating against Muslim populations blossomed in Europe, North America and Australia, but also elsewhere, such as in India, Russia and China.

Western states built up Muslims as a dangerous “other” in the wake of the 9/11 attacks. The so-called “War on Terror” helped the USA and its allies to justify imperialist wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and the wider region of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) under the guise of combating terrorism.

At home, in both Europe and the United States, new counterterrorism policies and measures very largely targeted Muslims, who have been treated as legitimate objects of suspicion, and other non-white populations. Building on this “otherness” and “dangerousness,” authorities have increased laws and means to monitor Muslims, to control their every move, and to constantly ensure their adherence to so called “Westen Values” or in France “Republican Values.”

Islamophobia has continued to grow in the USA and European countries over the past decade, with governments exploiting the rise of a new jihadist organization, the “Islamic State” (IS), and the arrival of millions of refugees from the MENA region to deepen their racist and repressive policies. The refugees of course are fleeing the deadly repression of authoritarian and despotic regimes, such as in Syria, the rise of the IS in Syria and Iraq, along with foreign interventions.

European Union (EU) countries are home to 20 million Muslims. Increasing number of far right and fascistic political parties throughout the continent have scapegoated Muslims and other non-white populations. National Rally (formerly known as the National Front), the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP), the English Defense League, Spain’s Vox Party and the Austrian Freedom Party are some of the political parties that share a common discourse and policy to rid Europe of its “Muslim issue.”

These far-right political movements, however, are not the ones that have implemented the racist and exclusionary policies against Muslim populations. It’s the social liberal and right-wing governments that have done so. Successive center-right political leaders have, for instance, repeatedly spoken against “Islamist terrorism” (German Chancellor Angela Merkel) and the incompatibility with European values of so-called “Islamist separatism” (French President Emmanuel Macron).

The article will discuss the growing Islamophobic political atmosphere and rising violence against Muslims in Europe, which also served to attack more generally the democratic rights of wider sectors of the society, especially leftist groups and activists.

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Le gouvernement socio-démocrate du Danemark accélère les retraits de permis de séjour à des réfugié·e·s syrien·ne·s du fait d’une situation jugée « sûre » dans la capitale syrienne et ses environs. 

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