Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

November 23, 2015

The left’s on again, off again bromance with jihadists

Filed under: Jihadists,Syria — louisproyect @ 10:48 pm

Fallen out of favor

In June 2004 the World Socialist Website published by David North waxed ecstatic over the resistance to the US Marines in the battle of Fallujah:

One resident who spoke to the Los Angles Times described the uprising as a popular revolt against the occupying power. “Every Fallujan who was able to carry weapons participated,” he said. “All of us are mujahedin. No masks will be used anymore by the mujahedin. We are struggling openly. Our relationship with the new Iraqi commander and his people is very good. They did not come on the back of the American tanks. They are our sons.” The Times reporter cited a sign hanging on the gate of a mosque that captured the mood. It read, “We are the soldiers of Muhammad and not the soldiers of Saddam. We love death as you love life.”

Words such as “All of us are mujahedin” and “We are the soldiers of Muhammad” prompt a different reaction today of course. They would cause David North to break out in hives.

The WSWS.org, a pillar of the Baathist amen corner, was not alone. Pepe Escobar, who has the same relationship to Vladimir Putin today as Bill O’Reilly had to George W. Bush, practically has a cow when the subject of jihadists comes up, as Bart Simpson would put it. He hopes that Putin is up to the task of smashing “those mongrel imperial offspring once and for all.” Lovely. I haven’t heard anybody on the left using terms like “mongrel” in quite some time, maybe ever. Those sorts of epithets are usually what comes out of the mouth of an IDF officer or the aforementioned Bill O’Reilly.


Pepe Escobar: bad politics, worse haircut

Back around the time WSWS.org was having a wet dream over Fallujah, Pepe Escobar was ready to join it in an orgy of leftist celebration even if Sharia law prevented booze. In a November 11th 2004 Asia Times article titled “Satan hides in a hospital”, he pulls out all the stops, sounding practically like the kind of pour soul who would be arrested today for aiding and abetting jihadists for comments made on social media.

Apart from a maximum of 1,500 “Arab brothers” – as the Iraqis call them – from Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Jordan, Syria and Tunisia, most of the remaining mujahideen in Fallujah are nationalist Iraqis whose tribal code mandates that they defend at any cost their homes, their families and their city under foreign attack.

They have been preparing for this onslaught for months. And they do have a battle plan – as it was relayed to Asia Times Online by sources in Baghdad. Former or retired Iraqi army officials have always been serious students of Viet Minh tactics and Che Guevara’s theory of the guerrilla foco (center of guerrilla operations).

Do I have to point out that the “Arab brothers” are what they call “foreign fighters” nowadays?

Keep in mind that this breathless paean to the jihadists was written a full four months after Escobar informed his Asia Times readers that they were pretty much the same kinds of people he has it in for today. The title of the article “The Islamic emirate of Fallujah” should make it clear that he understood their Islamist character:

Writers and professors in Baghdad with close family and tribal ties to Fallujah have explained to Asia Times Online the new order. In today’s Fallujah, every military commander is an emir. They may be strident, conservative Salafis, philosophical Sufis, al-Qaeda admirers, former Ba’ath Party army officials, former secret-service agents, or even the average neighbor, a father of six.

If you qualify as an emir, you are a leading member of what is popularly described as “the Iraqi resistance” in control of “liberated Fallujah”, a region off-limits to US troops ever since the United States handed over control of the city in May after a month-long siege.

Along with local imams and tribal chiefs, all emirs are also part of a Shura, a mujahideen council, created last winter and directed by two imams, Abdallah Janabi and Dhafer al-Ubeidi.

These imams may be considered the spiritual leaders of the resistance in Fallujah. Janabi, from the Saad bin Abi Wakkas Mosque, is a true radical: he is the leader of the takfiris – the fiercest warriors, some Iraqi, some from other Arab countries, some voluntary, some linked to Arab groups. Janabi was the first imam in 2003 to call for armed resistance against the occupation of Iraq, and for the summary execution of spies. Dhafer, from the al-Hadra al-Muhammadiya mosque, is a senior to Janabi in the Shura. His fatwas (religious edicts) carry enormous influence.

The aforementioned Abdallah Janabi was the liaison in Fallujah for the militia run by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the bloodthirsty jihadist from Jordan who founded the group that would become ISIS. Later on Abdallah Janabi would become the head of ISIS in Fallujah, and even established a “Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice.”


Bailed on the jihadists

Let me conclude with exhibit C in the investigation of how the left fell out of love with jihadists. While certainly a more obscure figure than David North or Pepe Escobar, Sukant Chandan deserves to be mentioned for the boldness of execution in carrying out a 180 degree turn. Chandan was on Marxmail briefly in 2008 but he unsubbed after I reprimanded him for posting links to Osama bin Laden’s statements.

He had a blog at the time called O.U.R.A.I.M: ORGANISATION TO UNDERSTAND RADICAL ARAB & ISLAMIST MOVEMENTS (forgive the caps, they are his) whose title speaks for itself. It is a virtual treasure trove of information on jihadist movements with observations such as this sprinkled throughout: “This Islamist leftist rhetoric has inspired annoyance in some left-wing and radical circles in the West. While they might share Bin Laden’s radical comments they perhaps don’t appreciate Bin Laden picking holes in their political strategies and movements so publicly.” You can obviously understand why he would be on a collision course with unrepentant Marxists.

Interestingly enough, the last article posted to O.U.R.A.I.M. is dated October 19, 2010. He must have run out of steam defending Islamism five years ago. Always showing a fondness for Stalinism as well as Salafism, our lad finally allowed his Stalinist side to take over completely like a Marvel Comics character, using his other blog Sons of Malcolm to voice opinions identical to Pepe Escobar et al today. He also is a guest on RT.com and Press TV from time to time. No surprise there. Like so many who have drunk Putin’s Kool-Aid, Chandan shows no signs of restraint. This is typical:

What Russia does: within a few days Russia has been very effective in targeting western-backed armed gangs and have the west and their pathetic hangers on in an utter state of panic and disbelief.

The Global South peoples and countries raise a big hurrah and eagerly await more unity and more alliance building of the people of the region, Russia and others to have an almighty push back on this imperialist death squad project.

If you’re looking for an explanation of why the fellow has fallen out of love with the jihadists, you’ll probably have to wait a long time. Whatever their ideology, these people have something in common with old school Stalinism, an impressive ability to turn on a dime without bothering to make sense out of the turn. You might as well be dealing with a hyena on methamphetamine.




  1. Fucking classic!

    Excellent juxtaposition of the political absurdity of Neo-Stalinism , especially the last paragraph wherein a more iconic characterization of the rancidity of Putin’s bootlickers is unimaginable.

    Comment by Karl Friedrich — November 23, 2015 @ 11:50 pm

  2. Excellent, and concisely put together piece!

    Of course, shaming these characters by drawing their attention to facts (including the facts of what they themselves have said) is the scientific way to get them to see the contradictions in their way of thinking.

    Alas, they are impervious to facts and have no shame. They are also impervious to thinking.

    Comment by Reza — November 24, 2015 @ 12:13 am

  3. Foreigners coming to the aid of a nation invaded by Western imperialism is not the same thing as foreigners, supported by imperialism and the Arab gasoline monarchies, invading an Arab nation. Different circumstances produce different analyses. It’s not that hard to figure out.

    Comment by Georges — November 24, 2015 @ 3:44 am

  4. Excellent piece. And while the support the left gave to Islamist forces fighting in Fallujah was appropriate, if sometimes uncritical and exaggerated, there was of course worse; it was often hard to get leftists to condemn things that really did need condemning, such as bombing work queues and Shiite mosques. What a contrast with now when everyone who is just mildly Islamist, or even non-Islamist at all (ie FSA), are ritually denounced as “jihadists”, though none of them would even consider committing such crimes.

    Comment by mkaradjis — November 24, 2015 @ 5:06 am

  5. All this reminds us of is the fact that ISIS are a creation of US imperialist slaughter and mass displacement, along with secular liberal authoritarianism and suppression.

    The idiot anti imperialists put a minus where the US puts a positive, and they are absolutely correct to do so.

    Any US meddling in the region should be opposed wholesale.

    This article is too sectarian. The big story of Fallujah wasn’t the different reactions to it by left sects but the horrors of US imperialism.

    I am struggling though to reconcile the logic of those who heroically opposed the Iraq war with now supporting mass slaughter against the rebels in Syria and Iraq.

    My position is this: oppose any bombing of Syria by the US, France, Great Britain, Australia, Russia or any other murderous regime with a squadron of warplanes ready to inflict the terror of aerial bombardment.

    Solidarity with those people being terrorised from the skies.

    Comment by Simon Provertier — November 24, 2015 @ 5:39 pm

  6. […] meermalen laten zien in niet altijd subtiel geschreven, maar bepaald niet overbodige stukken. Zijn “The left ’s on again, off again bromance with jihadists”  is daarvan een […]

    Pingback by Kappen met dit gevaarlijke spel! | Ravotr — November 25, 2015 @ 10:38 am

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