Garbis Altinoglu

A Discussion on the Revolution in North Africa and the Middle East

A Critique of Comrade Rudra’s Approach to the Present Crisis
in North Africa and the Middle East1

Written: 5–6 February 2011; Updated and expanded 10 February 2011.
Source: Bella Ciao.
Online Version: Garbis Altinoglu Internet Archive.
Transcribed/HTML Markup: The American Party of Labor, 2019.
Proofread: Alvaro Miranda (April 2021).
Translator’s Note: Citations and links have been revised and updated from the orriginal Alliance-ML edition. – MB, 2019.

Garbis Altinoglu

For the last couple of weeks, we have been witnessing the unfolding of a genuine people’s revolution in front of our very eyes. Arab working youth and masses at the forefront of whom stand the Egyptian masses, are dealing heavy blows at US backed reactionary and fascist regimes. They declare that revolution is far from being a forgotten utopia: no, it is very much an absolute and urgent necessity! Revolutions are feasts of peoples. At such times, even the most downtrodden and most oppressed sections of the population begin to come forward; the ordinary human beings neglected and despised by the ruling classes, their state apparata and paid bourgeois intellectuals begin to act like heroes. Under these circumstances, it is impossible not to feel the enthusiasm and passion of the toiling humanity who have been condemned to impotence by the despotic regimes imposed on them. Today, one such despot &ndash: Hosni Mubarak – who has been oppressing the Egyptian workers, youth and toiling peasants since 1981 and his clique is about to be overthrown. Symbolic significance of the developments in Egypt is enormous, at least in Arab countries, almost all of which have been under the yoke of the vassals of the US-Israel-Britain neo-fascist axis. I hope and believe this event shall mark the beginning of a new era for Arab workers and peoples and will contribute to the mass awakening of workers and peoples in the region. Even if the movement cannot go forward beyond this point or is repressed by military violence, it will have achieved a lot; the invaluable experience the fighting people have gained during these weeks of revolt will definitely contribute to and impact positively on their future struggles for democracy and socialism.

Revolutionary mass movement is putting everybody to test: classes, political parties, individuals etc. And it is pressing everyone to take a definite and unqualified stand: You are either with the masses or you are against them. In this context I want to express once more my disappointment and criticism with respect to certain members of this List, who not only have not been able to perceive the historical significance of the advancing revolutionary wave in Egypt and elsewhere, but in some extreme cases tried to belittle and detract from it. There have even been List members who have tried to portray the revolutionary movement mobilizing millions and millions of workers and youth a manipulation of US imperialists. Referring to bourgeois and anti-communist “experts”, they have tried to convince us that “the uprisings in Egypt are being orchestrated by Washington.” How detached they are from the concrete reality of revolution? On the contrary, without being aware of it, maybe they themselves are being “manipulated by Washington.” By considering imperialism in general and US imperialism in particular “invincible” and “all powerful”, they only demonstrate their lack of faith in workers and youth and their own ideological and political impotence.

* * * * *

Comrade Rudra writes:

“Who gives the revolution a direction, a road map, a plan for objectives that have to be achieved after the incumbent dictator is gone? There might be as many ideologies in the Egyptian struggle as the participating people? Right now, Egyptians just want to throw away the Mubarak and regime. Ok, then what happens after that? What are the alternatives? What shape would the revolution take? There is absolutely no ideology, no guiding movement and after Mubarak is gone and in presence of a political and leadership vacuum people will accept whatever options are thrown at them and the radical Islamists are all too ready to jump in at a given opportunity.”

Rudra, unfortunately, confirms my criticism in my last post. I am very well aware of the absence of the revolutionary leadership guiding the Egyptian masses, despite the presence of a revolutionary situation. I am also very well aware of the fact that the Egyptian masses have not – at least until now – put forward genuinely revolutionary demands and restricted themselves with the ouster of Mubarak and his clique. So what? The question is: WHAT IS TO BE DONE? WHAT SHALL WE COMMUNISTS DO? (Or what would comrade Rudra do if he were in Egypt at this moment?) Shall we sit down and shed tears over our shortcomings and over the low level of political consciousness of the masses when millions of ordinary people defy death and challenge the thugs of the fascist regime? OR shall we join the struggle, strive to organize the communist vanguard in the process and try to push the movement as far forward as we can. Can we stay away from the struggle on the pretext of Muslim Brothers and other bourgeois factions having greater or much greater chance of grabbing political power? I had already dealt with this question in my last post and said:

“The responsibility of genuine communists, whether they are in Tunisia, Egypt, Jordan etc or in other parts of the world, is 1) to join the struggle against pro-US reactionary/fascist regimes and 2) to strive for the formation of a revolutionary or communist leadership and its acceptance by the masses in the fire of the struggle.”

No revolutionary vanguard can definitely know the outcome of the interplay of class forces beforehand even if it were much better organized than the Egyptian revolutionary or communist forces. February 1917 Revolution in Russia was not started by the Bolsheviks or any other group, but began essentially as a spontaneous movement and the Bolsheviks were not and could not be sure whether they could gain the upper hand or not. We should also remember that the Soviets or Councils – which first had emerged during the 1905 Revolution – were not formed by the Bolsheviks or any other group, but were formed by ordinary workers and soldiers. We cannot REJECT participating in a revolutionary mass movement on the pretext of NOT HAVING DEFINITIVE ASSURANCE as to the outcome of the struggle. To expect that would be a very pedantic, arrogant and non-revolutionary way of looking at things. That would, in fact, mean preaching political impotence. Although Rudra stresses the importance of revolutionary leadership, he adopts a right opportunist and khvostist attitude when he says “... the masses have not been educated in the leftist ideology and they find Marxism unattractive.” Since the workers will not by themselves attain revolutionary political consciousness, in which case, there would be no need for a communist party, it is OUR JOB to educate the masses and make “Marxism attractive” for them. However, one cannot do that by lecturing them from afar, by preaching the adoption of a neutral stand and by staying away from the struggle.

I can say only a few words on the situation in Egypt: In the short run the Egyptian masses may not gain so much; they might not be able to prevent the emergence of a new, though less repressive bourgeois regime; besides their movement might even be crushed by force. Nobody however, can deny the fact they will have acquired very valuable experience during the last weeks of struggle. They, at least, have smashed the atmosphere of fear and helplessness imposed on them by the US-Israeli backed fascist dictatorship, which in itself is a very important gain and which will have further positive repercussions on their struggle in the short and medium term. They will rely on and benefit from these lessons in their future battles against the bourgeoisie and imperialism. “Revolutions” Marx had said in his Class Struggles in France, “locomotives of history.” Today the unfinished revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt are acting as the “locomotives of history” for North Africa, the Middle East and beyond. These revolutions are certain to continue to influence this broad region even if they cannot advance beyond this point.

It is true that revolutionary forces are very weak. It is also true that the Muslim Brotherhood is the most organized and powerful part of the opposition. Besides, the armed forces might have an even more important say in the new status quo. Therefore, if we try to make a realistic evaluation of the correlation of class forces, we cannot be too optimistic over the chance of revolutionary government emerging from the present situation. But who knows? There are too many unknowns and too many actors with important stakes in Egypt and beyond. If the political crisis deepens and the masses are drawn to a bloody confrontation with the army and the police and if a civil war develops unexpected opportunities might appear. Under such conditions, there might even emerge a rift in the army, part of which may side with the people. (I presume this might be the reason why the Mubarak clique have so far refrained from ordering the troops to use armed violence against protestors. This attitude might change of course, if the revolutionary determination of the masses weakens.) “As a matter of fact,” said Lenin in September 1906, “the wavering of the troops, which is inevitable in every really popular movement, leads to a real fight for the troops whenever the revolutionary struggle becomes more acute.” (The Lessons of the Moscow Uprising, Selected Works 3, London, Martin Lawrence Ltd., p. 349) Last but not least we should not forget that in revolutionary situations political education of the masses proceeds hundreds or thousands of times faster than in “normal” situations. And that obviously has happened and is happening in Egypt.

Comrade Rudra writes:

“Frankly speaking, I would not care if some religious oriented ideology or political group(s) is anti-Imperialism or pro-Imperialism. To me be they Christians, Islamists, Hindus, Buddhists etc they all represent the same backward, retrograde, regressive rotting morass and hence of the opposite side along with reactionaries of all colors and hues.”

I believe comrade Rudra here fails to discriminate between the struggle on the IDEOLOGICAL plane and the struggle on the POLITICAL plane and mixes them up. Of course, the struggle on the ideological plane is not disconnected with or entirely isolated from the struggle on the political plane. However the latter cannot be reduced to the former or equated with it. To be against all religions, which are in essence an expression of idealistic view of the world, does not automatically translate into a definite stand in politics; we cannot condemn all political movements with religious connotations and cannot label them all as reactionary or counter-revolutionary. There have been and at present are democratic and/or national liberation movements which have used a religious rhetoric or have had an ideology. A case in point is the “liberation theology” adopted by some Christian movements in Latin America. Especially in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, partisans of this movement tried to interpret the teachings of Jesus Christ in an unconventional manner and took a stand against US-supported dictatorships and oligarchic regimes. Of course religion plays a much more important role in the Muslim world due mainly to the economic and social backwardness of Muslim countries and partly as a result of the specific characteristics of Islam.

Our attitude towards political movements with religious connotations cannot be essentially different from our attitude towards other non-communist political movements; we support them or enter into alliances with them as long as and to the extent that they fight against fascism, imperialism and political reaction. At the same time we strive to educate the workers and other poor toilers in the spirit of communism and proletarian revolution, organize them in independent class organizations and fight to establish the hegemony of the proletariat in the revolutionary process.

Comrade Rudra writes: “I never said that I am being neutral and I just said that I am not too optimistic of the outcome. Right now we have a Washington supported dictatorship that would be likely replaced by an Islamic dictatorship. I think we all know about Shah of Iran, Hekmat Mansoor the exiled Iranian Marxist-Leninist and the ultimate grab of power by the religious fanatics the Ayatollahs, who then went about prosecuting communists and leftists.”

Of course he did not openly and unequivocally say that he was being neutral in this struggle. But that is the inescapable practical stand that one can deduce from his approach. He thinks that the most probable result of this revolutionary crisis would be the formation of a bourgeois government dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood, which would crush the leftist forces after the ouster of the Mubarak clique; he further thinks that such a regime would not be very different from the Mubarak regime. If one reasons in this manner he/she would not feel a genuine need to take part in the popular struggle to overthrow the fascist regime in Egypt or elsewhere. The fact that he refers to the arguments of concealed revisionist/Trotskyite Hekmat Mansoor and his anti-Marxist approach confirms this assessment of mine. Mansoor and his supporters have REJECTED to identify US imperialism as the main enemy of the peoples of the world; they have argued that US imperialism AND Islamic fundamentalism are equally dangerous. This stand in fact was a smokescreen aimed at hiding Mansoor’s and his Party’s (Workers Communist Party of Iran) views, which considered Islamic fundamentalism in general and the Iranian regime in particular as the main enemy. For instance, in his article The World After 11 September Mansoor portrays these attacks as “the world’s entry into a new and destructive phase in the international war of terrorists.” According to him there exist two main camps of international terrorism. “At one pole,” he says “there stands the most enormous machinery of state terrorism and international intimidation and blackmail. This camp includes the American government and ruling elite ...”

“At the opposing pole, there stands Islamic terrorism and the reactionary and vile political Islam. These forces that were once created and nurtured by America and the West themselves during the Cold War as a means of organising indigenous reaction against the Left in Middle Eastern societies, have now become an active pole of international terrorism and one contender in the bourgeois power struggle in the Middle East.”2

Such generalizations are hardly defensible. One cannot put widely different groups, movements and parties in one basket on the pretext of their being “Islamist.” There are entirely reactionary “Islamist” forces such as Al Qaeda and its offshoots. But there are “Islamist” forces, such as Hezbollah in Lebanon, Hamas in Palestine or Taliban in Afghanistan, which in essence are national liberation organizations and therefore OBJECTIVELY play a limited revolutionary role as long as they fight foreign occupation. I don’t think that I have to strive more to prove the incorrect nature of Rudra’s anti-Marxist approach. To try to do so would be an insult to the level of intelligence of all genuine revolutionary groups and persons. We cannot, however, deny the presence or influence of similar views in revolutionary circles, even among communists. This is not surprising in view of the fact that there is a considerable overlap between Mansoor’s approach and that of the anti-Islamic and pro-Zionist views fashionable especially in the US and Western Europe. I believe Rudra’s approach is not exempt from the influence of this anti-Marxist trend. Comrade Rudra’s pro-Hekmatist approach leads him, for instance, to equating Iran and Egypt in a dogmatic manner, without making a “concrete analysis of concrete conditions” (Lenin). Violating the basic dictum of historical materialism, this approach completely disregards the extremely important role of the Egyptian masses, who have been through a crash course of political education during the last couple of weeks. Besides, this approach completely disregards the immense international and regional impact of the present crisis in Egypt as well. Whatever the result of the present correlation of class forces in Egypt and the Middle East, one has to admit the fact that the “post-Tunisian and post-Egyptian” Middle East will be a very different place; uprisings of the Egyptian, but also Tunisian, Jordanian, Yemeni etc peoples have already dealt a very heavy blow at the political strategy of US imperialism, has very much weakened the positions of the Zionist state and the local satraps of the US and has strengthened the positions of Palestinian and Lebanese peoples. This uprising, I believe, will also have a positive impact on the struggles of Iraqi, Afghan and Pakistani peoples against US-NATO aggressors.

Comrade Rudra writes:

“Taliban was a creation of CIA and ISI – both happen to be the secret services of the world’s two most reactionary states. They were bed partners when Soviet Union was there in Afghanistan, a nexus of evil against the progressive front of leftist backed People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan and SU. The only reason Taliban is fighting US forces is because, the thoughtless US actions have made Afghan people wary of US designs and Taliban wants to regain power and control. We all know how much Afghanistan prospered under their rule from 1996 (post-Najibullah hanging) till December 2001.”

Here we differ again on several points. First of all, to argue that Taliban is “a creation of CIA and ISI” is incorrect and reminds me of the colonialist arrogance of big Western powers. Unfortunately, this arrogance has to some extent influenced the judgments of even communists in Europe and the US. Yes, imperialists and their intelligence agencies may be able to create small gangs, but they CANNOT CREATE a broad-based social movement. Yes, CIA, ISI and others have supported the Mujahiddin against the Russian invaders. Yes, these forces have encouraged and assisted the Taliban for a certain period of time; but they have not created it. Such a feat of social engineering would be even more difficult in Afghanistan whose people have fought against several invaders throughout history and have been very much against foreign interventions of all hues. Besides, to portray imperialism in general and the US imperialism in particular as all-powerful entities who can manipulate almost every other party or movement is not correct and reflects a right opportunist viewpoint. Let’s remember Lenin’s approach who described imperialism as “a colossus with feet of clay.” To make such mistakes at this moment, when US strategy of enslaving the peoples and especially Muslim peoples of the world is in tatters and is crumbling in front of our eyes is even worse and downright pathetic. If people calling themselves communists or even Stalinists cannot understand the meaning of events taking place around them they do deserve to be called right opportunists or superficial communists. Let’s look at the facts: What has the US achieved in its attack to reshape the Middle East and Central Asia despite its gigantic military machine, great financial resources and brutal use of force during the last decade? Has it won a victory in Iraq? No, at present Iraq is being ruled by an Iran-friendly bourgeois government. Has it won a victory in Afghanistan? No, despite the support of several NATO and non-NATO countries, including Russia, Afghan people and Taliban are slowly defeating the imperialist aggressors. Has it won a victory in Lebanon and Palestine? No, despite unleashing its Zionist terrorist allies on these peoples, it has not been able to crush the glorious resistance. Hezbollah is more powerful than ever and shall form the new government together with its allies. Has it won on the Iranian front? No, despite the imposition of several rounds of sanctions approved in the UN “Security” Council and supported by the EU and to some extent by Russia and China and US and Israeli-inspired and executed terrorist actions, kidnappings and sabotages, Iran continues to defy the so-called international community. Has it won on the Syrian and North Korean fronts, despite political pressures, provocations and military shows of force? No, it has not. And now the “security structure” the US has established in the Middle East has started to crumble. One doesn’t have to be an expert on international relations to be able to see these facts. But sometimes their preconceptions may blind and prevent revolutionary observers from seeing the naked facts around them which can be seen even by bourgeois analysts and ordinary people.

Secondly, Rudra mentions the killing and hanging of Najibullah by the Taliban. But he should also have mentioned the enormous number of the Afghan people killed, wounded, maimed tortured by Russian social-imperialist invaders and their puppets, including Najibullah; the Afghan people whose homes, villages and livelihoods were destroyed by these forces, the Afghan people who were compelled to leave their countries as a result of Russian invasion. Comrade Rudra expresses his indignation over the killing of Najibullah. But shouldn’t he have also felt sorry about the Afghan people who have suffered infinitely more losses? Would I be doing injustice to him if I criticized him for being indifferent to the great tragedy this people have been compelled to endure? According to their own figures, between 1979–1989, Russian invaders lost around 15,000 soldiers. On the other hand, it is widely accepted that between 1 million and 2 million Afghans perished as a result of Russian invasion. Around 1 million Afghans were disabled and 3 million Afghans were maimed or wounded. At least 5 million Afghans had fled their country and another 2 million Afghans were displaced within the country. I have to remind him that these terrible losses were suffered in a country whose total population was estimated to be around only 15 million in 1980, 16.8 million in 1985 and 18.5 million in 1990. Could he envision the depth of the suffering Afghan people were subjected to? According to these figures, almost 10 percent of the total population had lost their lives, 20-25 percent of the population was disabled, maimed or wounded and more than 25 percent of the population had fled the country. I do not even mention the tens of millions of landmines left behind by the Russian invaders which have been continuing to kill and maim people to this day and the destruction of the already insufficient infrastructure of this very poor country, including its irrigation systems by Russian bombing. The scale of this tragedy/massacre is almost entirely forgotten. Why? Is that because they are considered a primitive people even by persons who consider themselves communists or Stalinists? Were he alive Stalin would have severely condemned such an attitude as bearing all the hallmarks of Western colonialism and social-chauvinism. Criticizing the so-called heroes of the Second International, Stalin had this to say in his The Foundations of Leninism:

“The scores of hundreds of millions of Asiatic and African peoples who are suffering national oppression in its most savage and cruel form usually remained outside of their field of vision. They hesitated to put white and black, ‘civilized’ and ‘uncivilized’ on the same plane ... Leninism laid bare this crying incongruity, broke down the wall between whites and blacks, between Europeans and Asiatics, between the ‘civilized’ and ‘uncivilized’ slaves of imperialism, and thus linked the national problem with the problem of the colonies.” (Problems of Leninism, Moscow, Foreign Languages Publishing House, 1940, p. 50)

Yes, Taliban is NOT a progressive force and it does NOT have a democratic or “republican” program. We can discuss about the historical, economic, political and cultural reasons underlying this phenomenon. But we cannot forget the fact that it represents a majority of the Afghan people who aspire to be independent from foreign yoke, Taliban leads (and before that various Mujahiddin factions led) the independence struggle of this people devastated by decades of invasion and civil war. It is true that, especially after the departure of the Russians, Mujahiddin factions, incited by different countries, fought a reactionary civil war among themselves and committed atrocities. It is also true that the internal forces supported by Russian invaders were more progressive – or if you like more “republican” – in contrast to the more backward Mujahiddin and/or Taliban; but at the same time they were agents of the invaders who were sowing death and destruction in Afghanistan.

“It is possible that the republican movement in one country,” said Lenin, “may be merely an instrument of the clerical or financial-monarchist intrigues of other countries; if so, we must not support this particular, concrete movement ...” (The Discussion on Self-Determination Summed Up, Collected Works, Vol. :22, Moscow, Progress Publishers, 1974, p. 341)

But comrade Rudra is not content with defending the former invaders (the Russians); he also tends to defend the present invaders (the Americans). If we argue like comrade Rudra and say that “The only reason Taliban is fighting US forces is because the thoughtless US actions have made Afghan people wary of US designs and Taliban wants to regain power and control” we are bound to commit a very serious mistake. To remain indifferent towards the national liberation struggle of the Afghan people and adopt a neutral stand between the US-NATO aggressors and the Afghan people led mainly by Taliban is not much different from supporting the US-NATO side. US imperialists and their partners/puppets are not responsible for carrying out “thoughtless actions.” They are responsible for WAR CRIMES against a people whose country is devastated by decades of imperialist aggression and internal conflict. Today, irrespective of the ideological arguments put forward by the Taliban, the struggle of Afghan people against the most reactionary forces in the world is a national liberation war. Lenin and Stalin had noticed the aspirations to independence of the Afghan people who had more than once fought against the British invaders, the superpower of the time and consistently supported this fight.

“The revolutionary character of a national movement under the conditions of imperialist oppression” said Stalin “does not necessarily presuppose the existence of proletarian elements in the movement, the existence of a revolutionary or a republican program of the movement, the existence of a democratic basis of the movement. The struggle the Emir of Afghanistan is waging for the independence of Afghanistan is objectively a revolutionary struggle, despite the monarchist views of the Emir and his associates, for it weakens, disintegrates and undermines imperialism…” (Problems of Leninism, p. :53)

Today the Afghan people are once again in the forefront of the struggle. They are fighting against a massive enemy comprising more than 40 odd countries led by the US. They are fighting against a technologically much more advanced enemy with small firearms, IEDs and other inferior weapons. While fighting against imperialist terrorism of US-NATO reactionary alliance, Afghan people (and other peoples) are fighting for us as well, for their brothers and sisters elsewhere. To waver on the defense of Afghan people is nothing less than capitulating to the ideological-political attack of US imperialism and its neocon chiefs. Such an attitude has nothing to do with proletarian internationalism and deserves to be called “annexationist” and “social chauvinist.” Every single person, I repeat every single person on Earth SHOULD SHOW RESPECT AND SHOULD BE GRATEFUL to the Afghan fighters, but also to the fighters in Iraq, Palestine, Lebanon, Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen etc. And they should show their solidarity with them and unequivocally support their struggle for independence. Lenin’s attitude was similar to that of Stalin’s. He had made his position very clear with regard to just and/or defensive wars as opposed to wars of aggression and/or unjust wars. “For example, if tomorrow Morocco were to declare war on France” he had said in 1915:

“or India on Britain, or Persia or China on Russia, and so on, these would be ‘just’, and to ‘defensive’ wars, irrespective of who would be the first to attack; any socialist would wish the oppressed, dependent and unequal states victory over the oppressor, slave-holding, predatory ‘Great’ Powers.” (Socialism and War, Collected Works, Vol. 21, Moscow, Progress Publishers, 1974, pp. 300–1)

The situation was not much different before the emergence of Taliban in 1994. Great Marxist-Leninist Enver Hoxha had condemned the Russian social-imperialist occupation of Afghanistan and fully supported their objectively revolutionary struggle. Here I present some excerpts from one of Hoxha’s books, Reflections on the Middle East (Tirana, The ‘8 Nentory’ Publishing House, 1984)

“The build-up of the resistance and struggle of the patriotic Afghan people rejoices us because, apart from other things, it confirms the Marxist-Leninist thesis that the peoples, however small and unarmed they may be, when it comes to defending their freedom, independence and honour, can launch powerful attacks on and triumph over savage enemies ...” (The Afghan Fighters Strike Heavy Blows Against the Soviet Occupiers, January 26, 1983, pp. 442–43)

“The reports about the armed resistance and the courageous actions of the Afghan patriots show that when a people fight for their own land, freedom and rights, no great power, however heavily armed, can defeat them.” (When A People Fight, No Great Power Can Defeat Them, March 10, 1983, p. 448)

Hoxha compares the national liberation wars of Albania and Afghanistan and says:

“Of course, our war was at a much higher level and much better organized and, above all, it was led by our Communist Party on the basis of the teachings of Marxism-Leninism ... Nevertheless, I repeat that the struggle of the people of Afghanistan is a just struggle, and the Afghan patriotic fighters deserve to be honoured and respected by all the patriotic forces of the world, to be supported so that they can step up their liberation war even further until they drive the Soviet occupiers completely from their homeland.” (The Middle East in the Year 1983, December 1983, pp.&#nbsp;530–31)

“The proof of the pudding,” had said Engels, “is in the eating.” This rule is valid in determining in practice the political character of various conflicts and struggles as well. Let’s remember the fact that the Red Army (and Red Navy) of the 1940s led by Stalin and his comrades defeated the most advanced and powerful military machine of the time: German Wehrmacht.

“When the invasion began the population of Germany and her satellites totalled 290 million,” says Albert Axell, “Russia’s approximately 193 million. These human resources made it possible by June 1941 to bring the German front-line forces up to 8.5 million men. Hitler also had the spoils of war from his successful campaigns in the west. German and Russian documents show that more than 60 Wehrmacht divisions were equipped with captured French motor vehicles.” (Stalin’s War Through the Eyes of His Commanders, London, Arms and Armour Press, 1997, p. 173)

The Red Army led by Stalin and his comrades defeated THIS ARMY, which was incomparably superior to the Afghan Mujahiddin of the 1980s and 1990s. Despite the atrocities it committed, this army was defeated by a much, much weaker forces of Mujahiddin and was forced to retreat in disgrace. Let’s not also forget the fact that the Afghan resistance, which did not have a unified command was comprised of various factions, who were continuously bickering and even fighting among themselves. In the end Russian invaders were defeated because they were waging an unjust war, because they did not have a real motivation to fight. Besides, the Red Army of the 1940s was very careful in concentrating its enormous firepower on military targets and in minimizing civilian casualties. There were no firebombings of Dresden or Tokyo in the battle record of the Red Army. Even the anti-communist and bourgeois historians cannot deny that. But the “Red” Army of the 1980s led by anti-Stalinist personalities, systematically bombed civilian targets, razed thousands of villages and sowed death and destruction in Afghanistan; it committed a small-scale genocide of the Afghan people.

I think I have dealt with the main points comrade Rudra has raised in our discussion. I believe I have in this article also dealt with similar points some other comrades have raised and do raise. I hope the arguments and material I have presented shall contribute to dispel the non-revolutionary doubts and question marks these comrades have entertained and do entertain over the past and present glorious struggles of the peoples of North Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia in general and the struggle of the Egyptian people in particular and help them to adopt a more internationalist approach.

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1. This article has been prepared in the course of a discussion among the members of the Stalinist List.

2. Mansoor supported the American invasion of Afghanistan. “What could be said about the America’s attack on Afghanistan?” he said in the same article. “Is ‘Hands off Afghanistan!’ a progressive and principled position? The people of Afghanistan and its opposition will tell you otherwise. The prospect of Taliban’s downfall, a gang of murderers and drug dealers, has spurred political forces in Afghanistan. The demand for the overthrow of the Taliban is a humane and progressive demand.” If he were alive, he most probably would have supported a “humanitarian imperialist intervention” in Iran to rid his country of “Islamic fascists” and would have shared the responsibility for the bloodshed and misery such an attack would give rise to.

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