Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Alex Callinicos: 'Victory to (some of) the Resistance!'

Is the SWP’s top theoretician backtracking – albeit perhaps partially - on the party’s ‘Victory to the Resistance!’ line on Iraq? I only ask after seeing the latest edition of Iran Bulletin, which carries an interview on Middle East issues with Alex Callinicos.

The Professor goes so far as to brand Al Zarqawi’s ‘Al Qae’da in Iraq’ outfit as ‘sectarian terrorists’. That is exactly what they are, of course. It’s just that I’ve never heard any SWPer admit as much, especially not in writing:

‘The case of Iraq has to be mentioned separately because it is so complex. Here the resistance, which appears to be a loose collection of Iraqi Ba’athists, nationalists, and Islamists based mainly in the Sunni Arab areas have succeeded in mounting a counter-insurgency war that, to repeat, the US shows no sign of winning. (It is essential to distinguish the mainstream of this resistance from the sectarian terrorists of Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, formed by the late and unlamented Zarqawi.).’

So we can afford to be choosy, after all. And yet this is the same Zarqawi who was so admiringly profiled in Socialist Worker last October:

‘Al-Zarqawi is the ultimate product of Al Qaidism, the new anti-imperialist ideology which has risen from the ashes of Al Qaida,’ we read.

This year’s sectarian terrorist was at that time hailed as ‘the new icon of anti-Western struggle’ and praised for ‘his determination to challenge authority’ and – get this - ‘his kindness’.

In fairness, Ms Napoleoni is not an SWP member and of course, not all articles that appear in a newspaper necessarily reflect the editorial line.

But Callinicos’s realisation that the far left should not indiscriminately hail every mutha that picks up and AK-47 and declares himself an anti-imperialist is welcome, if a little overdue. Logically, shouldn’t his doubts extend to the rest of AQ?

[Hat tip: Harry’s Place]

UPDATE: As a couple of commenters point out, Callinicos has indeed said something similar before, albeit in a US magazine rather than any in any SWP or IST publication. My bad. But as an interesting debate has started rolling in the comments box, I'll leave the post up.

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