Speech by Ângelo Alves, Member of the Political Bureau and of International Department of PCP, Solidarity Meeting of Communist and Left Parties in Europe and Arab Countries

“Facing the American Escalation in the region”

Dear Comrades

I would like, first of all, to thank the Lebanese Communist Party for their invitation to participate in this meeting, to thank the friendly and warm manner we are being received here in Beirut and underline the political importance and the opportunity of this initiative.

Despite our heavy political calendar this year, with the preparation of our XVIII Congress to be held in the end of November this year and the intense social struggle in which we are involved, it was with particular interest and motivation that we responded positively to the invitation from the Lebanese Communist Party, who we wish to salute, for the courage demonstrated in the struggle in defense of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Lebanon; for your determined and constant posture in building national unity and struggling for the real democratization of Lebanon and also for your generous efforts to strength the communist and revolutionary movement, internationally and in the region, of which this meeting is one more example.

Comrades

The peoples of the Middle East are one of the main victims of the exploitative, predatory, anti-democratic and criminal nature of imperialism. The present situation in the region cannot be understood without having in mind the following undeniable and evident reality: capitalism, in its current state of development, makes use, in a more intense and destructive manner, of violence, intervention, war and militarism to attempt to deal with its own historic contradictions and limits.

Unfortunately we witness here in the Middle East the terrible consequences of the action of the big capital and of the main imperialist powers in search of markets, resources and geo-strategic positions; we witness how, for imperialism, international law, democracy, national sovereignty and human rights are mere words that exist only to justify new crimes and destabilizing maneuvers; we witness how imperialism manipulates ethnic issues, religion and terrorism in order to pursue its strategy of "divide to rule"; we observe how speeches about peace are followed by the worse crimes and by the injection of weapons in the region; and we can also observe how the so called "international community" abandons the victims of imperialist and zionist aggressions, but does not hesitate to condemn and act against those that resist it.

We could be tempted to think that such an offensive could be only the result of the pro-fascist policies of the current Bush administration and, therefore, would be nearing its end, given the political situation in the USA. But unfortunately that is not the case.

Essentially for three reasons:

Firstly, the nature of capitalism itself and its crisis. The present economic crisis of capitalism—whose systemic character is increasingly in evidence—is already introducing—and it is important that we be attentive to this reality—new factors of instability and insecurity in the international situation. Given the dimension and inevitable consequences of the crisis, we should expect an attempt to transfer its most nefarious effects to the exploited class and towards the periphery of the system, and we should also expect the intensification of the attempts of domination over markets, of scavenging of resources and of recolonization of countries and regions of the globe. Naturally, the Middle East, with its impressive concentration of energy resources, will not be excluded from the imperialist response to the crisis, a possible and very dangerous "escape forward" of capitalism.

The second reason, and still related to the crisis, is the situation in the USA. The crisis is bringing to the surface a reality that many of us have been calling attention to for some time: the deficit-driven, parasitic nature of the US economy, which is driving the largest imperialist power in the world towards a situation of relative economic decline. Particularly if we consider the reconfiguration of forces within the imperialist camp, on the one hand, and the increasing weight of China, of other big countries and of the South-South economic relations, on the other.

But the US continue to be, by far, the largest military power in the world and have by far the more structured system of disinformation, espionage, and world destabilization. In a situation of domestic economic recession and simultaneously of global economic crisis, its dominant classes, be they in power with the republican or democratic party, will use these great "arguments" to maintain their political, economic and geo-strategic positions, and may still unleash an even broader set of actions of destabilization and interference—as already verified with the gigantic political-media campaign around Tibet and the Chinese Olympic Games, with the maneuvers in Latin American - around Venezuela and Colombia, but also Cuba –, in Africa and also here in the Middle East.

Regarding the forthcoming presidential elections, and having in mind the history of the north-American imperialism, nothing in the electoral debate can convince us there will be a clear inversion in this strategy, even in the context of an unguaranteed victory of Barack Obama. The political consensus between democrats and republicans regarding the maintenance and intensification of the war in Afghanistan; the continuation of the so-called "war on terrorism"; the more or less veiled threats against Syria and mainly Iran; the support to Israel's policy of state terrorism; the agreement on the need to maintain a strong military presence of the US in the Middle East independently of the solution to be found for Iraq (see the recent declarations of Barack Obama on this issue), are but a few examples of the same class options of the different candidates to the White House. Therefore we must pay gteat attention to the political maneuvers that can arise from the USA aiming to present to the peoples of the word a same strategy but with different clothes.

The third reason has to do with the role of the European Union. After the approval of the so-called Lisbon Treaty and even before the ratification process has ended, the EU is already embarking, in an impressive rhythm, in a series of decisions that, together, prove that the approval of the Treaty was a fundamental step towards affirming the EU as an ambitious imperialist power. Several european powers, particularly France and Germany, are now assuming the control of the so-called "foreign policy" of the EU and adopt a extremely active posture in several regions of the world, namely Africa and the Magreb region (note the adoption by the EU of a previously criticized project of Sarkozy on Mediterranean Union), but also in the Middle East and Central Asia. The relationship of this imperialist thrust by the EU with other facts, such as the rapid militarization of the EU, the enlargement of NATO towards the borders with Russia, the installation of an anti-missile system in Europe and the reinforcement of European participation in the several scenarios of imperialist intervention, is, in a context marked by inter-imperialist rivalries, above all an expression of reinforcement of the general offensive of imperialism against the peoples.

The recent decisions of the NATO summit in Bucharest of reinforcing the European military contingents in Afghanistan and of enlargement towards east; the military exercises in the Mediterranean led by the US; the role of UE regarding the "independence" of Kosovo; the ongoing negotiations with the Bush Administration around the installation in Europe of the so called "anti-missile shield"; the hypocritical posture of the EU regarding the gigantic Israeli crime against the Palestinian people; the recent resolution on Iraq presented by the majority of the European Parliament pointing to an increased European participation in the occupation of Iraq, are only some samples of evidence of the coordination between EU and the USA on essential issues. As it is also the fact that Portugal is presently negotiating with the USA an agreement to use the Lajes Base [in the Azores Islands] for new weapons testing and for logistical support in the installation of the new military command in Africa [AFRICOM]. Therefore one should not expect a positive change in the European policy regarding the Middle East, on the contrary. And one of the first signs of this increased intervention in the region was precisely the deploying of European military forces here in Lebanon, including from Portugal. That is why our Party opposed, since the first moment, to the participation of the Portuguese military forces in such mission.

Meanwhile, and right now, the dangers of the Bush Administration - faced in the end of its mandate with the military quagmire in Iraq - opting for the "regionalization" of the war in Iraq are, in our opinion, real. History has shown that this is always a solution US imperialism has always on the table.

Just recall: the injection of 20.000 million dollars in weapons to the region, destined to the most faithful allies of the US in the region; the rude interference in Lebanon and the use of the present political impasse for possibly new adventurous interventions; the relocation and reinforcement of naval combat units in the Mediterranean coast of Lebanon and in the Persian Gulf; the instigation of divisions among the Arab League countries, using among other arguments the Lebanese situation (as demonstrated in the recent Damascus summit); the heightening of threats on Iran and Syria; the criminal action of Israel and its evident coordination with the political agenda of the US in the region; the intensification of war in Afghanistan and the maneuvers in place in Pakistan. All these processes and facts are brewing instability and insecurity in the region that could rapidly lead to a generalized conflict in the Middle East and Central Asia, which would be catastrophic, and that we must prevent with all our strength.

But comrades, if it is true that the dangers and challenges that the peoples of the Middle East face are enormous, it is also true that the resistance of these same peoples is not allowing imperialist intervention and zionist aggression to have their triumphal march. The situation in the region and the extent of the imperialist crimes is showing to the world that the peoples have not only the legitimate right but also the historical need and duty to resist occupation and imperialist aggression, including by military means. And the situation is revealing also the decisive political importance of such resistance and the enormous challenge that the progressive forces are faced with when it comes to try to give a more progressive, secular and democratic course and content to the popular resistance against occupation and aggression.

Here today in Beirut, we want to salute the heroic resistance of the Lebanese people who inflicted a significant defeat on the Zionist aggressor and of the imperialism; we want to greet the Iraqi resistance who despite numerous difficulties and the blackmail of "terrorism" has demonstrated that: to resist is already a victory: also to greet personally the Cypriot people and specially our dear comrades in AKEL for the historical election of comrade Dimitris Christofias as President of the Republic of Cyprus and to reaffirm them the commitment of our Party to strength the solidarity of the Portuguese people with the struggle of the Cypriot people for the reunification of Cyprus. We also want to send a special salute to the Palestinian communist parties here present and to the martyr Palestinian people who are today twice victims, of Israeli state terrorism and of the hypocrisy of the so-called "international community", but that continues to resist, even though under conditions that are now even harder.

The resolution of the Palestinian issue is, in our opinion, the central issue in the struggle for a just and lasting peace in the Middle East. While Israel acts with impunity, while there is tolerance of the zionist killings in the occupied territories, while is allowed the systematic disrespect of United Nations resolutions that consecrate the inalienable national rights of the Palestinian people, it will be impossible to speak of peace in the Middle East. The past and present history of negotiations demonstrates that, since Oslo, what has prevailed in every process has been the hypocrisy and manipulation of the "peace processes" to fulfill political agendas that are foreign to the interests of the Palestinian people. What stands out from these processes is a constant posture of imperialism that, on the one hand, demands all sacrifices from the Palestinian people and, on the other, tolerates and supports the zionist strategy towards destroying the possibility of building an independent and sovereign Palestinian State, with is capital in Jerusalem, and the viability of applying the UN resolutions that establish, among others, the right of return and compensation.

The history of the Palestinian people teaches us two important lessons. The first is that in the present world correlation of forces, without a very strong political pressure coming from the popular masses and from the internationalist solidarity, it is impossible to expect a sincere posture of defense of people’s rights from the main world powers, or a readiness towards real processes of political negotiations that respect international law. The second is the decisive importance of people’s unity around their national rights and in defense of their independence and sovereignty. A unity that history reveals is strongest and most indestructible when progressive forces, particularly communist parties, are strongest and most connected with the popular masses. We recall, for example, the remarkable effect the Palestinian Liberation Organization had upon the struggle of the Palestinian people, and also the role of heroic progressive organizations of liberation of Palestine, specially the communists, in the creation of the PLO.

In fact History teaches us that the people’s resistance against imperialist aggression and intervention and the struggle for peace are inseparable from the more general struggle for independence, sovereignty, social justice, progress and socialism.

Comrades, in ending, I would like to extend a message of profound solidarity with the people of Lebanon and other peoples of the Middle East here represented, and to tell those comrades that are fighting under very difficult conditions that you can count on our solidarity and our availability to deepen and our common action in defense of the interests and aspirations of the peoples of the Middle East. Therefore we support the concrete proposals already made by several comrades aiming to improve our common action and solidarity towards the peoples of the Middle East, namely the ideas of regular meetings like this one; common solidarity campaigns and solidarity missions.

I also leave you a message of confidence, which results from the positive moment we are experiencing in Portugal, one of intense social struggle and of reinforcement of the organization, influence and positions of Portuguese communists.

A confidence based on the central idea that it is among the workers and peoples that we find the necessary strength to stop capitalist exploitation and oppression. Therefore, we are convinced that the peoples of the Middle East, through their struggle and counting with the internationalist solidarity of all those that reject the policy of war and imperialist interference, will conquer freedom, independence and sovereignty by their own hands.

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