Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

September 11, 2014

The Angry Arab: bad hairdo, worse politics

Filed under: Syria — louisproyect @ 1:08 pm



Screen shot 2014-09-11 at 9.04.48 AM

When I checked my blog this morning, I saw a number of page views emanating from Asad AbuKhalil’s (aka the Angry Arab) blog, the man with a bad hairdo and worse politics.

This is now the second time he has referred to me as a “Trotskyite”, showing a grasp of my politics that can be compared to George W. Bush’s command of Marxist value theory. Frankly, I don’t mind being called a “Trotskyite”. I get called worse things 5 times a week by anonymous trolls.

But the real problem is trying to engage with this professor who at one time had a publicist capable of landing him guest spots on Bill Maher’s show. Now he has lapsed into the obscurity he well deserves.

In terms of believing that the “US is secretly backing Assad against FSA”, I have never said anything like that. (How would the Angry Arab know what I believe since there is zero evidence that he is familiar with my blog that regularly finds fault with the Trotskyist movement on one score or another.)

Instead I have said that Baathists and IS were attacking the FSA from different angles. The Angry Arab, like most of the “anti-imperialist” left has written 1000 articles (all as superficial as the one above) making an amalgam between the FSA and jihadism. Now that this analysis lies on the ground in a smoldering rubble, he is at a loss presumably to explain why he screwed up so royally. Maybe he would be better informed if he became one of my regular readers rather than relying on WSWS.org or Global Research for his talking points.


  1. Glad to see this up.

    Awful human. I saw him “debate” a woman on “Democracy Now” a few years back and he resorted to sexist insults.

    Comment by kjs — September 11, 2014 @ 4:47 pm

  2. ““US is secretly backing Assad against FSA”, I have never said anything like that.”

    You have said something like it just not that exactly. You have said the US had no interest in seeing Assad overthrown and were not unhappy he was still in power.

    I don’t think I agree with your comment but I am not as familiar with the US thinking as that in Europe (other than the US explicitly stating they want rid of Assad).

    I can tell you in Europe the political leaders wanted and still want Assad out and the puppets in, this has been their main policy aim in the last few years. They told us they wanted austerity and delivered it in spades so I am apt to believe what they say is true. They have also held numerous post Assad conferences on Syria with the puppets in waiting! Maybe US hesitation has thwarted their ambitions, who can say for sure?

    oh, hang on, there is one person, our resident expert Les Evenchick! How could I forget?

    Les, what exactly do the US want and do the Syrian people agree?

    Comment by Simon Provertier — September 11, 2014 @ 5:40 pm

  3. Provetier, do you fucking understand how to provide evidence? You (and Baraona) make assertions but do not back them up. Don’t you realize how stupid that is? For example, if I said something like “Leon Trotsky was a Nazi spy”, wouldn’t you expect something to back that up? (Of course, at this point I guess I should not be surprised by anything you come up with.)

    Comment by louisproyect — September 11, 2014 @ 5:44 pm

  4. You said it in one of your articles months back. I wasn’t in the mood to go trawling through your writings. Maybe now I will because that will show you are not even aware of your own arguments!

    Comment by Simon Provertier — September 11, 2014 @ 5:58 pm

  5. This is as far back as I am prepared to go but the comments section gives a flavour (But I am sure there are other examples):


    For example:

    “Or is your point that the imperialists never intended to overthrow Assad?”


    So I guess we should now be asking:

    Do you now believe the US want rid of Assad?

    And do you believe they have done anything material to help bring this this about?

    Comment by Simon Provertier — September 11, 2014 @ 6:50 pm

  6. “Awful human. I saw him “debate” a woman on “Democracy Now” a few years back and he resorted to sexist insults.”

    Is that referring to his debate with Irshad Manji? Unless there’s some crypto-sexism in bluntly stating she’s not trained in the history of Islamic thought or Arabic, I don’t see how any of his (perfectly merited) attacks on her were sexist.


    Comment by andrew r — September 12, 2014 @ 5:48 am

  7. andrew r:

    I’m no friend of Irshad Manji’s connection to Brigitte Gabriel (Full Disclosure: I’ve worked with both women on separate publications only because I’ve had to work with both women on separate publications), but he used a very demeaning way of addressing Manji as “Little Girl” in a taunting tone. That’s utterly uncalled for in a civil debate.

    Comment by kjs — September 12, 2014 @ 2:05 pm

  8. >>but he used a very demeaning way of addressing Manji as “Little Girl” in a taunting tone. That’s utterly uncalled for in a civil debate. >>

    Where did he call her “little girl” ? I have read that interview when it happened and now checked it again. He never called her that. Or maybe it’s just your imagination.

    I also see you and Proyect have no problem in calling opponents of western policy in Syria as Baathists, assad apologists and even worse names. That is very civil according to you.

    The demented ravings of Proyect are very civil, but challenging and ridiculing a rightwing apologist like Irshad Manji is very uncivil.

    And Proyect’s stock question to anyone who challenges him on Syria is “have you ever spoken to a single syrian”, Maybe a vietnam war defender or even Iraq war boosters used similar question to discredit their opponents.

    It doesn’t occur to you that one doesn’t have to know anybody in person in a nation to figure out what is going on there and to oppose western policy if it is immoral and disastrous.

    You guys will resort to any kind of slander against your opponents. Just like Stalinists of yore. You learned well from them.

    Comment by Jacob — September 12, 2014 @ 2:56 pm

  9. It doesn’t occur to you that one doesn’t have to know anybody in person in a nation to figure out what is going on there and to oppose western policy if it is immoral and disastrous.

    What the fuck does this have to do with Syria, moron? It is Russia, Iran and Hizbollah that are intervening to disastrous ends, not American imperialism.

    Comment by louisproyect — September 12, 2014 @ 3:04 pm

  10. “What the fuck does this have to do with Syria, moron? It is Russia, Iran and Hizbollah that are intervening to disastrous ends, not American imperialism.”

    Yes, it is rather odd that the US finds itself on the periphery, confused as a consequence of the dilemmas posed by past neoconservative policies that considered the redrawing of the boundaries of Iraq and Syria as a positive objective. But I would consider the involvement of Saudi Arabia and Qatar equally disasterous. The silence of many on the anti-Assad left on this subject is a classic instance of the failure, as Mao and others said, “to walk on two legs.” I hope I never find myself caught between the hammer and anvil of a secular dictatorship and rebels funded by radical, medieval Islamicists as people do in Syria.

    Comment by Richard Estes — September 12, 2014 @ 4:41 pm

  11. “You guys will resort to any kind of slander against your opponents. Just like Stalinists of yore. You learned well from them.”


    Go fuck yourself.


    Comment by kjs — September 12, 2014 @ 6:10 pm

  12. Such nastiness amongst “comrades”! In the meantime, what is obviously being set up in Syria is being ignored. Clearly, the US will spearhead Western imperialism and recruit some Syrian factions that will be labeled “moderate,” arm the hell out of them to severely degrade ISIS, and then move on to destroy the Assad regime.
    This opportunity for spectacle and regime change will be avidly embraced by Obama, given his other insuperable difficulties. So wave that flag! Drone the terrorist bastards! Arm the “good guys”. The American people will love it, and it’ll sell lots of product on the “news.”
    And the passive, long lost American “left”? Perhaps Nader is right. The super rich will save us.

    Comment by Joe Barnwell — September 12, 2014 @ 6:49 pm

  13. kjs, Asad should get the benefit of a doubt since Irshad Manji really is that ignorant about her subject (specifically, her asking where is the Muslim equivalent of Rabbis for Human Rights, which contains the implication that criticizing Israel is necessarily related to being observant), and he’s generally hostile to anyone who professionally writes about his part of the world without knowing Arabic. This sneering comment at Robert Worth, for example. “His editors expect him to start composing classical Arabic poetry after that one year.” I think it’s safe to say his attitude to Manji is gender-blind.


    Comment by andrew r — September 12, 2014 @ 10:30 pm

  14. I read both AA and LP with interest. I learn a lot from AA–he’s an informed observer of the Arab world and media. His takedowns of Israel/Zionism are appropriate. His criticisms of Hezbollah/Hamas are apt. His leftism is solid. But his diagnosis of the politics of I/P is lacking, in sharp contrast to Norman Finkelstein.

    No way to have a problem with AA’s takedown of Manji–well deserved.

    Comment by David Green — September 13, 2014 @ 4:35 pm

  15. Perhaps one simple thing is being missed here. The comment is from some person called “Ajit” to AA. He has posted it on this blog. He gets a lot of mail from readers, which he sometimes posts on the blog. You may think whatever of this practice. He was indeed very critical of FSA, from the very beginning. He has dubbed it the “Fee Syrian Army”.

    As to his debate with Irshad Manji, he never called her a little girl or anything like that. I don’t see a single sexist insult anywhere in that interview. Not sure where that came from.

    Comment by Anand — September 15, 2014 @ 2:48 pm

  16. It is Russia, Iran and Hizbollah that are intervening [in Syria]

    Who can argue with this? The situation may change somewhat if Obama actually does much with this new I-can’t-believe-it’s-not-war against ISIS. But so far that is more talk than action. Probably “we” in the U.S. will continue trying to play multiple sides in Syria with minimal involvement as we have in the past, with a few more visible explosions for domestic political consumption. No doubt we will see an interminable series of drone strikes that kill “the number two man in ISIS.” Otherwise, the situation is not unlike that with respect to Kurdistan, whom “we” have a variety of reasons for supporting from time to time, but must always betray in the end if “we” want to keep on good terms with Turkey.

    I notice that developments in Syrian Kurdistan (Rojava) are being promoted breathlessly by–of all outfits–that mouthpiece of somniferous advanced capitalism, NBC News (http://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/isis-terror/meet-kurdish-women-fighting-isis-syria-n199821 ). Does this mean the groups fighting there have been manufactured out of the whole cloth by the C.I.A.?

    “We ‘ in the U.S. ought to meditate more on the word “perfidious.” It’s ridiculously naive to suppose that “we” are always wholeheartedly in there on one side only, or that the situation is being decisively manipulated by the U.S. (and “allies”) alone–or that the U.S. would not wish to hedge its bets–or that no legitimately revolutionary movement could ever make strategic use of a Western intervention.

    BTW: It is now unchallenged dogma in alleged progressive circles that “we” created the current bad situation in Libya through an indiscriminate NATO terror bombing campaign that laid waste to the country. This despite the fact that the toll of civilian casualties as now estimated has gone up from 55 to all of 72 (http://world.time.com/2012/05/16/how-many-innocent-civilians-did-nato-kill-in-libya/). Compare that figure–for a bombing campaign with thousands of sorties–with the high estimate of 1,654 civilians allegedly killed in two and a half hours during a single raid at Guernica during the Spanish civil war. (http://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/hitler-s-destruction-of-guernica-practicing-blitzkrieg-in-basque-country-a-479675.html)

    Now anything over zero is arguably an outrage; but 72 horrible deaths in an entire war’s bombing is hardly on a par with the total devastation for which the U.S. and NATO are being held responsible–solely through the bombing–in Libya (eg. in 2011 by Michel Chossudovsky [http://www.globalresearch.ca/destroying-a-countrys-standard-of-living-what-libya-had-achieved-what-has-been-destroyed/26686], or echoed in the casual phrase “the total destruction of Libya” by the self-denominated “progressive” Horace G. Campbell [http://www.towardfreedom.com/30-archives/africa/3632-us-nato-and-the-destruction-of-libya-the-western-front-of-a-widening-war]). Admittedly the infrastructure-destructionists have more plausibility than the mass-murderites, but both positions are knee-jerk responses to an abstract moral melodrama to which any form of serious historical analysis is finally irrelevant.

    Can anyone really doubt that the current bad situation in Libya is owing in large part to the inability of its governments to find a basis for disarming the many militia groups who are now contending for power in a political vacuum? This is hardly the sole consequence of the U.S. intervention or the bombing campaign.

    People who see war and revolution above all in “moral” terms–so often the language of frauds and manipulators–can have no inkling of what might be meant by a historical and materialist approach. Beware of such people. The bloody shirts they wave are so seldom their own or those of their kin, yet they invariably have something to gain by their posturing.

    Comment by Pete Glosser — September 15, 2014 @ 10:14 pm

  17. The left in western countries is subdivided into two main groups, when it comes to what is going on in Syria and Iraq. The first group listens to the Anti-imperialist rhetoric coming out of Iran/Syria and believes that the governments there are truly anti-imperialist. This group supports these regimes (overlooking their murderous records) based on this rhetoric without looking at what these governments actually are and what they have been doing since taking power, AND considering whoever opposes them as an imperialist stooge. The other group supports the uprising in Syria (but not Iraq) on the ground that it is an anti-dictatorship uprising (thinking that the uprising in Iraq is ISIS controlled). The following are some observations in this regard:

    1- Since taking power in Iran in the late seventies, the ruling mullah-controlled theocratic Islamic state has been calling the USA the Great Devil and the USA has been calling Iran a terrorist state. The USA invaded Iraq twice since then (about to do that a third time) and not a single shot was fired by US against Iran during same period. The “Terrorist State” joined hands with the “Great Devil” in its war on both Iraq and Afghanistan (as indicated on several occasions by Khatami, Rafsanjani, and Iran’s UN ambassador).
    2- Since taking power in Syria in 1970, the Assad regime provided all kinds of services to the “imperialists” including his interference in Lebanon to wipe out the left-oriented national front, and his support for sectarian militias there; his completion of Israel’s war against Palestinians in refugee camps after the 1982 invasion of Lebanon; his direct involvement, with the imperialists, in the war against Iraq in 1991 and in 2003 (and now); his participation in the so-called war on terror after 9/11 where he provided tremendous intelligence to the “imperialists”; and his participation (together with Iran) in the CIA’s rendition program where he was involved in torturing suspects in his prisons.

    What is going on in the Arab Countries now is a counter-revolution (to destroy the Arab Spring and possibly to later subdivide these countries along sectarian/ethnic lines) led by USA and supported by all its allies in the area which include all governments (including Gulf countries, Iran, Syria, Egypt, Israel, etc) AND by Jihadist groups (created by USA and these countries) that are being used as Trojan horses to fight revolutions from within – as happened in Iraq in 2006 with the so-called al Qaida which was responsible for the defeat of the anti-occupation insurgency (with direct cooperation between Iran, USA), and as is happening now in Iraq and Syria with ISIS (with direct cooperation between USA and Iran). The objective is to try to return to the status-quo (prior to Arab spring) where stooge governments run these countries for the benefit of imperialists (Global like USA and regional like Iran). The counter-revolution was successful in Egypt (through the reactionary Muslim Brotherhood first and through the military junta later), and to a lesser extent in Tunisia. This counter-revolution is still going on in both Iraq and Syria, where the USA and its allies had to interfere directly to try to defeat both of these revolutions. Of main interests is Iraq where there are huge American/Iranian interests (mostly oil for USA and empire dreams with associated benefits for Iran). The following are some observations in this regard:

    1- The revolution against the government in Syria did not receive any useful support form the USA and its allies (only rhetoric). The support provided was mainly to prop-up extreme Islamist groups (became ISIS later) whose purpose was to destroy the revolution from within. In addition, all Iranian support to the regime in Syria came either through Iraq where the USA could have easily stopped it, being in control of Iraqi airspace, or through Lebanon (where without USA approval it would not have been done).
    2- The majority of leaders of ISIS (including al-Baghdadi) were imprisoned in BOCA by Americans in Iraq, where they were brainwashed. They were later transferred to Abu Ghreib Prison after withdrawal of US forces from Iraq (controlled by pro-Iran government). They were released in 2012 form Abu Greib (they called it a breakout) and travelled through Iraqi and Syrian government controlled areas (about 400 km) to get to Syria without a single shot being fired at them by Iraqi (Iranian) or Syrian forces. Other extremist leaders were released from Syrian prisons by the government there.
    3- Al-Baghdadi declared the establishment of the IS from a mosque in Mosul. He travelled there from Syria and passed through parts of Iraq using a convoy of American-made 4X4’s (with highly sophisticated jamming equipment) on a desert highway without being seen by Iranian spy drones (in Syria) or American Spy drones (in Iraq), keeping in mind that Iraqi airspace remains under American Control as per the American withdrawal agreement signed with the puppet regime in Baghdad (in addition, American spy planes are also all over Syrian airspace).
    4- The media story is that 4000 member of ISIS, in 1 week, supposedly took over lands whose area is about 50% of the area of Iraq (area of Iraq is about 440, 000 km2) defeating Iraqi security forces numbering around 170,000. What is not talked about is the role played by the anti-occupation (American occupation followed by Iranian) forces in Iraq (most are ex-Iraqi army people and tribal fighters. Some are Islamists but not ISIS affiliated and some are secular) who were (and still are) the main anti-government/occupation fighting force.
    5- ISIS is an extremist takfiri organization supposedly bent on killing all non-followers of its ideology AND is against the governments in Syria and Iraq. The absolute majority of ISIS-murdered people in Syria were government opposition fighters (over 5000 of them). In Iraq, their main role of ISIS (or IS or ISIL) was to sully the reputation of the anti-government revolution by committing ethnic cleansing (also staged beheadings always reported firstly by the intelligence-backed website, SITE), and by starting fights with the Kurds.

    Comment by mohamad — September 17, 2014 @ 6:52 am

  18. Richard: “But I would consider the involvement of Saudi Arabia and Qatar equally disasterous … I hope I never find myself caught between the hammer and anvil of a secular dictatorship and rebels funded by radical, medieval Islamicists as people do in Syria.” The only problem with that is that that is not who they fund. The Gulf states would be the last to fund and arm al-Qaida-connected groups whether ISIS or even Nusra. Qatar has funded some soft-Islamist groups vaguely connected to te Muslim Brotherhood, plus the secular mainstream. The Saudis only fund and arm via the secular mainstream Syrian Opposition Coalition (SOC) and Supreme Military Council (SMC).Things are not as one might imagine: http://mkaradjis.wordpress.com/2014/06/03/the-gulf-and-islamism-in-syria-myths-and-misconceptions/

    Comment by mkaradjis — September 17, 2014 @ 1:49 pm

  19. The revolution against the government in Syria did not receive any useful support from the USA and its allies (only rhetoric).

    This is quite true IMHO. What you seem unwilling to allow is that the U.S., unlike Satan, is capable of wavering, ambivalence, a desire to avoid commitment on either side, and plain old incompetence. Thus your point 1 becomes one of several proofs of your overarching thesis, which is that the ISIL (or IS or ISIS) movement is the fruit of a calculated, coherent, and competent U.S.-led “counter-revolution,” something that I do not believe is proved by the bulk of the facts you cite.

    This reminds me of the 9/11 conspiracists who think that “super-thermite” is proved to have been used by the U.S. Government to demolish the World Trade Center precisely because it is supposed to be a closely guarded secret and nobody knows anything about it.

    The alternative to such a global theory of the U.S. as the unique and totally effective source of evil in the world would not necessarily be some shitfaced apologia in favor of our foreign policy; merely something more nuanced and factual that does not have to see one side or another in every armed conflict as the side of The Revolution period–as defined by the arguable presence of the U.S. on the other side.

    Comment by Pete Glosser — September 17, 2014 @ 6:43 pm

  20. Turns out professor khalil was correct on all fronts and you were wrong you dick van dyke!

    Comment by Sam Abu Khalistan — January 13, 2015 @ 7:21 am

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: