We’re in the thick of it, there’s nothing else to say. All the international credibility gained out of Canada’s decision not to intervene in the Second Gulf War under Jean Chrétien’s leadership was lost in the blink of an eye, when Harper announced Friday that Canada would be sending its troops into combat (airstrikes specifically, no ground troops at this time). The thing is, Canada’s “official” intervention is only two days old, but it is already gearing up to be a disaster of gigantic proportions, and ultimately an utter failure that will only delay, but not prevent, the coming of another ISIS.

Canada might have given its green light for a full scale intervention only two days ago, but the coalition of the willing — which ironically includes Saudi Arabia and Qatar, two of the patrons of the radical interpretation of Islam promoted by ISIS — has been on the ground for around a month now. What are the conclusions that can be drawn? After one month, what is the future for this war? What new day is dawning on the horizon?

Well, to say the least, it’s a very dark one. The black clouds that arose from the ruins of the Kurdish bastion of resilience, Kobane, gave us, spectators, a little glimpse into the future of this mission.

The women of Kobane have armed themselves to fight against ISIS.

As thousands of Kurdish fighters held back the reoccurring, never-ending assaults of ISIS against the town, Turkish tanks stood still — not much of a surprise —and Western jets flew on by. The battle of Kobane is a central one for the survival of the Kurdish struggle within northern Syria. Unfortunately the lightly armed Kurds are fighting against the much stronger ISIS forces, ironically, using American artillery and weapons to besiege the town.

The hypocrisy of the Western forces and of their Turkish allies is obvious. They most certainly see this so-called humanitarian intervention, first and foremost, as a means towards an end: the eradication of the PKK and any viable Kurdish autonomous authority in the region.

In one of my articles concerning the conflict I wrote extensively about the “revival” of the Kurdish struggle for self-determination and their project of asymmetric federalism. There, I referred to their struggle and to this project as an alternative form of governance for the peoples of the region and a strong vaccination against the rise of organizations such as ISIS. Three weeks down the path of war, and it seems like Kobane will fall within a matter of days, or even hours, even though this humanitarian intervention was supposed to prevent such a tragedy from happening.

One month into this humanitarian intervention, and the American State Department has already announced that it was anything but humanitarian anymore. The White House announced today that civilian protection policy does not apply to the airstrikes in Syria. Apparently, protecting civilians in areas under rebel control from the wrath and vengeance of Syrian government forces is not part of the plan either. Within the past month much of the ground that was lost during the past three years by Assad has been regained. The bloodthirsty and mad dictator, whom the interventional community vigorously condemned for the usage of chemical weapons against his own people, is on cloud nine.


Can you believe it? The Americans are actually winning Assad’s war for him. Instead of mobilizing and building strong alliances with the secular and progressive sections of the Free Syrian Army, we actually bombed them last week. So much for wining “hearts and minds!” We’re actually losing them, as the ISIS ranks are filled with thousands, if not tens of thousands of young disenchanted Westerners, who turned to radicalism after years of discrimination and racism, and after years of seeing on the TV their Muslim sisters and brothers suffer excruciating pain in Iraq, Palestine or at the hands of any other Western backed dictatorial regimes.

Radicalism’s fuel is war, and unfortunately, through this war, we have swelled the reserves of hatred, of anger, of despair and of pain, everything ISIS was born out of, to last for a generation or two. If you believed the magical fairytale that whatever is happening was a humanitarian intervention, that we, the West, the ardent defenders of human rights, were on a courageous crusade against evil, that just like communism and fascism, this totalitarian evil of radical Islamism had to be quelled, you were wrong. Don’t be fooled. We are reviving ISIS. We created the conditions for it. We are reenacting them as we speak and what will come out of this third intervention in the Middle East might be more horrendous than anything our imaginations can grasp.

Since Nelson Mandela’s passing two days ago, the front pages of newspapers around the world have acclaimed Mandela as a human rights giant, a saint, and even as a reincarnation of Jesus Christ. That being said, very few of the international mainstream media outlets have done Mandela’s radical politics justice.

What I am interested in shedding light on, that has been underrepresented in mainstream media, is the extent to which Mandela sought to fight discrimination. Beyond race discrimination, Mandela strived to eliminate class.

The radicalism of Mandela can be shown through his usage of a diversity of tactics – training for young militants, violent actions and sabotage when needed, but also the organization of peaceful protests, strikes and boycotts. Due to the wide range of tactics Mandela employed, it is difficult to place him on the political spectrum.

Mandela gave a statement in his own defense at the trial of Pretoria on April 20, 1964, in which he said, “I have always regarded myself, in the first place, as an African patriot. Today I am attracted by the idea of a classless society, an attraction which springs in part from Marxist reading and, in part, from my admiration of the structure of early African societies. The land belonged to the tribe. There were no rich or poor and there was no exploitation.” Ultimately, on June 11 of that year, he was found guilty of four charges of sabotage and sentenced to life imprisonment.

mandela communist flag

Mandela saw the struggle for the liberation of his people as a class struggle. In these few upcoming weeks, politicians and writers around the world will be framing his struggle in a different light, in a way that will attempt to omit the essential fight that Mandela fought that is class warfare.

In many ways Mandela differed from the linear dogma that was the Marxist approach. Mandela didn’t believe in the dictatorship of the proletariat but that armed revolution was unfortunately, considering the circumstances of the time, the only option.

After the Sharpeville massacre, Mandela understood that peaceful resistance in the South African context would set precedence for immobility. He went on to co-found Umkhonto we Sizwe  (Spear of the Nation), which was the armed wing of the African National Congress (ANC) until 1990.

Armed revolution was a recurrent tactic used by national liberation movements throughout Africa since the end of World War Two, particularly in the Portuguese colonies of Guinea-Bissau, Angola and Mozambique, but also in Algeria, where Mandela was first trained in the art of armed revolution by members of the Front de Liberation Nationale (FLN).

Where Madiba (Mandela’s clan name) did differ was in his belief that violent revolution would not emancipate the majority of black South Africans but rather enact another form of oppression onto them. Unlike the Communist Party of South Africa, Mandela believed in actively participating in class struggle, with the mission to harmonize class distinctions.

This is a primordial point in understanding the national liberation theory that was the backbone of the ANC’s struggle and also in better understanding the current political climate of South Africa. Yet, in the past three days, mainstream media has made no mention of one of the defining traits of the South African Miracle – that black majority of South Africans did not seek a form of revenge from the white population after the end of apartheid – and why the so-called miracle has turned into a nightmare for many South Africans today.

There is a right-wing sanitizing effort that is trying to rewrite history and construct Mandela’s legacy to conform to a neoliberal agenda that many multinationals and the current South African Zuma administration ascribe to. On the other hand, many left-wing commentators and political pundits have noxiously repudiated Mandela’s legacy altogether.

The emphasis on Mandela’s non-violent actions while omitting his struggle to bring about substantial economical and social change in South Africa panders into the neoliberal belief that civil liberties can be upheld while economic and social rights are denied. Madiba knew this to be false.

Even though apartheid was technically vanquished in South Africa, in part because of the relentless efforts of Nelson Mandela, social and economical apartheid continues to impede the birth of the “rainbow nation” – a term coined by Archbishop Desmond Tutu that tries to capture the racial, tribal, and linguistic diversity of South Africa.

Many left-wing media sources have published articles that point to the ANC’s implementation of the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) directives and the World Bank guidelines in the early 1990s, which made sure to prevent an equal redistribution of wealth throughout South African society. These sources imply that Madiba’s decision not to pursue armed revolution, and his total faith in a democracy that could change, demonstrate that he was not radical enough for real social change in South Africa. It should be noted that social change has never been brought over night.

In light of the 2012 South African Marikana massacre, a wildcat strike that lasted a month and a half and cost the lives of 38 striking miners because of the intervention of security forces, Madiba’s radical legacy is more important than ever. We can look to his radical past and learn from how he used a diversity of tactics for the struggles of today. Madiba inspired the world to act and inform themselves on issues of class and race, but that struggle is far from over.