The recent escalation of violence and tensions in the Middle East has raised the specter of a regional war, as the US and its allies clash with Iran and its proxies over various issues, such as the nuclear deal, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, and Palestine. The US strikes on Iranian-backed militias in Iraq and Syria, and the Iranian retaliation, have increased the risk of a direct confrontation between the two countries. The ongoing humanitarian crisis in Gaza, where Israel has launched a brutal assault in response to Hamas’s rocket attacks, has also sparked outrage and solidarity among people across the world, especially in the Muslim world.
In this context, what can the US Left do to prevent a regional war and support the progressive forces in the Middle East who are struggling for democracy, human rights, and social justice? How can the US Left build horizontal links with the activists and movements in Iran, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Lebanon, Palestine, and Israel, who are resisting the authoritarian regimes, the sectarian militias, the foreign interventions, and the occupation? How can the US Left challenge the US imperialism and militarism that have fueled the conflicts and suffering in the region for decades?
The US Left should oppose US intervention and sanctions
One of the most urgent tasks for the US Left is to oppose the US intervention and sanctions that have harmed the people of the Middle East and undermined their aspirations for freedom and dignity. The US has been involved in wars, coups, and proxy conflicts in the region since the 1950s, supporting dictators, monarchs, and extremists, while suppressing democratic and progressive movements. The US has also imposed crippling sanctions on countries such as Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Yemen, which have caused widespread poverty, hunger, disease, and death, especially among the most vulnerable segments of the population.
The US Left should demand that the US end its military presence and operations in the region, stop selling arms and providing aid to repressive regimes and groups, and lift the sanctions that violate the human rights and sovereignty of the people. The US Left should also support the efforts to revive the Iran nuclear deal, which was a diplomatic achievement that prevented a war and offered a chance for dialogue and cooperation. The US Left should also call for a just and lasting solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, based on the recognition of the rights of both peoples, including the right of return for the Palestinian refugees.
The US Left should amplify the voices of the progressive forces in the Middle East
Another important task for the US Left is to amplify the voices of the progressive forces in the Middle East who are fighting for a better future for their societies. The Middle East is not a monolithic or homogeneous region, but a diverse and dynamic one, where different cultures, religions, ethnicities, and ideologies coexist and interact. The Middle East is also a region where various forms of resistance and social movements have emerged and persisted, despite the repression and violence they face.
The US Left should listen to and learn from the activists and movements in the Middle East who are challenging the status quo and demanding change. The US Left should also share their stories and perspectives with the wider public, and counter the stereotypes and misinformation that often dominate the mainstream media and discourse. The US Left should also show solidarity and support to the progressive forces in the Middle East, and join them in their campaigns and struggles, such as the anti-war, anti-occupation, anti-corruption, anti-sectarian, feminist, environmental, labor, and human rights movements.
The US Left should foster horizontal connections and collaborations with the progressive forces in the Middle East
A third and crucial task for the US Left is to foster horizontal connections and collaborations with the progressive forces in the Middle East, based on mutual respect, trust, and understanding. The US Left should not impose its agenda or ideology on the progressive forces in the Middle East, but rather engage in dialogue and exchange with them, and learn from their experiences and insights. The US Left should also not romanticize or idealize the progressive forces in the Middle East, but rather acknowledge their complexities and contradictions, and their strengths and weaknesses.
The US Left should seek to build bridges and alliances with the progressive forces in the Middle East, and explore the possibilities of joint action and cooperation on common issues and goals. The US Left should also recognize the diversity and plurality of the progressive forces in the Middle East, and respect their autonomy and agency. The US Left should also be aware of the power dynamics and inequalities that exist between the US and the Middle East, and avoid any form of paternalism, tokenism, or appropriation.
The US Left has a vital role to play in preventing a regional war and supporting the progressive forces in the Middle East. By opposing the US intervention and sanctions, amplifying the voices of the progressive forces, and fostering horizontal connections and collaborations with them, the US Left can contribute to the advancement of peace, justice, and democracy in the region and beyond.