The imperialist drumbeat to invade Syria is getting louder by the day. The U.S. rulers have found a willing partner for a push to war in the energy-rich slave state of Qatar, which borders Saudi Arabia on the Persian Gulf. This blossoming alliance seeks to use the Arab Spring upheavals and the Iraq War to heighten its profitable influence in the Middle East.
In a September 25 address to the UN General Assembly, the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, urged other Arab countries to do their “military duties… to do what is necessary to stop the bloodshed in Syria.”
Two days later, the New York Times ran an op-ed piece, “Five Reasons to Intervene in Syria Now,” by Max Boot of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) and Michael Doran of the Brookings Institution. The column’s rhetoric — in line with President Barack Obama’s pledge “to foresee, prevent and respond to genocide and mass atrocities” — cynically masks the drive for profits from gas pipeline routes that motivates Qatari and U.S. war plans. It is apparent that yet more death and devastation await workers in the Middle East.
This latest push for a U.S. intervention, including (for starters) a countrywide no-fly zone and a Turkish corridor for military supplies to Syria’s largest city, Aleppo, is part of a sharpening competition between imperialist interests.
In the name of “freedom,” U.S. and allied capitalists aim to remove Syria’s Assad government, which has united with gas-rich Iran and Russia in jockeying for gas export routes. Qatar contains 14 percent of the world’s natural gas reserves, ranking it third behind Russia and Iran.
The majority of Qatar’s natural gas is located in the massive offshore North Field, which spans an area nearly as large as the country itself. The leading foreign investor in Qatar’s North Field is ExxonMobil, the largest U.S. oil and gas company and the world’s richest corporation by revenue.
According to the Asia Times, “It’s clear what Qatar is aiming at: to kill the $10 billion Iran-Iraq-Syria gas pipeline….Here we see Qatar in direct competition with both Iran (as a producer) and Syria (as a destination), and to a lesser extent, Iraq (as a transit country)” (9/28/2012). With Qatar as a main source, the article adds, the “strategic aim” of U.S. ally Turkey “is to become the top energy crossroads from the Middle East/Central Asia to Europe.”
Since the First Gulf War invasion of Iraq in 1991, Qatar had been home to a major U.S. Air Force base and now serves as a launching pad for strategic U.S.-backed energy and financial ventures (see box). The victims of these ventures mount into the millions:
• Reporting on the strife in Egypt, The Economist magazine (9/9/2011), a staunch booster of U.S.-UK imperialism, provided a conservative body count of 846;
• Libya’s own health ministry estimated at least 30,000 dead in that country (Associated Press, 9/9/2011);
• According to The Lancet, the authoritative British medical journal (10/12/2006), Iraqi war deaths totaled 654,965 between 2003 and 2006;
• At least half a million children died from earlier U.S. sanctions that Bill Clinton’s secretary of state, Madeleine Albright, deemed “worth it” (“60 Minutes,” 5/12/1996).
Racism Kills Worldwide
Furthermore, domestic U.S. racism, as reflected in the recent rash of cop killings of black and Latino youth, has been “exported” to this mass murder of Arab, Muslim and black workers in the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia. Racism has no boundaries. It is fueled and justified by the demonization of peoples as “worthless” or as “terrorists” for imperialist purposes.
ExxonMobil and Qatar Aim to Break Iranian-Russian Gas Dominance
Qatar’s energy sheiks have joined U.S. bosses’ domestic schemes to break the global gas supply dominance of Russia and Iran. As the world’s largest shipper of liquid natural gas (LNG), Qatar has vessels and expertise that could transform the current U.S. gas boom into a geostrategic weapon. “Exxon Mobil Corp. and Qatar Petroleum International are teaming up on a proposal to export LNG from Texas. Exxon is a 30% owner of Golden Pass Products and Qatar holds a 70% stake. The two firms could invest up to $10 billion in the project” (MarketWatch, 8/20/2012).
The CFR and Brookings proponents of a Syria invasion share something in common with Qatar’s ruling clan: the same benefactors, representing the dominant wing of U.S. capitalism. JPMorgan Chase and ExxonMobil have invested fortunes in these finance-capital think tanks. In accord with Qatar’s rulers, Boot and Doran propose that “American intervention would diminish Iran’s influence in the Arab world.”
The agreement between U.S. and Qatari rulers is not complete, however. Qatar’s sheiks believe that Saudi-led, U.S.-armed Gulf Cooperation Council forces can oust Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. But while U.S. finance capitalists understand that “Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Jordan, Qatar and Israel would like to see Mr. Assad toppled,” and that “France and Britain could also be counted on to help,” Boot and Doran maintain that only the U.S. Air Force and Navy “have the weaponry needed to dismantle Syria’s Russian-designed air defenses with little risk.” The authors manage to ignore nuclear super-power Russia’s naval base in Syria.
CHALLENGE doesn’t make speculations. But when capitalists are calling all the shots, we know for certain that whatever happens in Syria (or Iran) won’t be good for our class. A U.S. coalition strike will kill many. In the absence of such a strike, imperialist rivals Russia and China will be in a stronger position — another step toward a wider war.
U.S. Elections Hide War Dangers to the Working Class
The phony choice between Obama and Republican Mitt Romney aims to derail U.S. workers from uniting to rise up against these war-makers.
By painting Obama as a lesser evil to the right-wing Republicans, the U.S. ruling-class media attempts to deceive workers into believing he will protect them from the “extremists.” But while Romney rants about bombing Iran, Obama prepares for it. Tens of thousands of U.S. military troops are stationed throughout the Middle East. Nuclear-armed aircraft carriers, waiting in the Persian Gulf, are not there as peacemakers.
Meanwhile, U.S. workers under Obama suffer from all the pathologies of capitalism: mass racist unemployment and home foreclosures, huge numbers of racist deportations, and the world’s highest racist incarceration rates, with black and Latino workers representing 70 percent of the U.S. prison population. These attacks stem from a profit system enforced by whoever resides in the White House. Clinton or Bush, Obama or Romney — for the working class, it makes little difference.
The only real choice for workers lies in uniting to destroy this exploitative system and its oppressive state apparatus, and to replace it with a communist society without bosses, profits, racism, sexism and capitalist-bred imperialist wars.
The goal of the revolutionary communist Progressive Labor Party is to win workers and youth in all our workplaces, unions, schools, campuses, communities, churches and mass organizations to the fight for revolution. That’s the answer to the bosses’ election circus. Join us!
Middle East Bank Scramble Mirrors Global Imperialist Rivalry
As a willing U.S. client state, Qatar hopes to turn a fat profit by taking over banks in lands recently “liberated” with lethal U.S. assistance:
Qatar National Bank (QNB), seeking to boost its regional presence, has hired J.P. Morgan Chase to advise on its planned buy of [French] Societe Generale’s Egyptian arm….It also raised its stake in Iraq’s Mansour Bank and bought a 49 percent stake in Libya’s Bank of Commerce and
Development earlier in April. BNP
Paribas, another French lender, is said to be seeking initial bids for the sale of its Egyptian retail arm, with QNB interested in the business…. However, the lender lost out to Russia’s Sberbank in bids for Turkey’s Denizbank earlier this year (Reuters, 9/2/2012).