Date: 6/19/2004


THE BLACK-RED ALLIANCE - Amir Taheri - Benador Associates


Jerusalem Post, June 10, 2004

When the US-led coalition invaded Iraq in March 2003, few would have imagined that the move might lead to the formation of an alliance between the radical Left and hard-line Islamists in Western Europe. But this is precisely what happened.

In this month's election for a new European Parliament, voters in several European Union countries, notably France and Britain, are offered common lists of Islamist and leftist candidates, often hidden under bland labels.

Europe's moribund extreme Left has found a new lease on life thanks to hundreds of young Muslim militants recruited from the poor suburbs of Paris and the Islamic ghettos of northern England.

The Islamist groups, for their part, are learning many tricks from the Left about how to exploit the inevitable weaknesses of an open society.

In Britain, the new Marxist-Islamist alliance is the offspring of the so-called anti-war coalition set up two years ago to prevent the liberation of Iraq. The coalition has a steering committee of 33 members. Of these, 18 come from various hard Left groups: communists, Trotskyites, Maoists, and Castroists. Three others belong to the radical wing of the Labor party. There are also eight radical Islamists. The remaining four are leftist ecologists known as Watermelons (Green outside, red inside). The chairman of the coalition is one Andrew Murray, a former employee of the Soviet Novosty Agency and leader of the British Communist Party. Co-chair is Muhammad Asalm Ijaz of the London Council of Mosques.

A prominent member is George Galloway, recently excluded from the Labor party, who is under investigation for the illegal receipt of funds from Saddam Hussein. Galloway heads a list of candidates backed by several radical leftist groups, notably The British Socialist Workers Party (SWP), as well as the Muslim Association of Britain, the British branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, and a dozen Palestinian groups financed by Yasser Arafat.

The Palestinian checkered headgear, worn by the leftists as a cache-col, has become the symbol of this left-Islamist alliance.

The New Statesman, the organ of the British moderate Left, calls the new Islamist-Marxist alliance "Saddam's Own Party." The label is not fanciful. Many of the groups involved in the alliance had been financed for years by Saddam through his so-called Cultural Relations Office in London.

IN FRANCE the radical Left alliance of Revolutionary Communist League (LCR) and Workers' Struggle (LO) groups counts on Islamist militants to help it win seats in the European Parliament. Arlette Laguillere, the pasionaria of the Workers' Struggle, claims that "the struggle for Palestine" is now an integral part of the "global proletarian revolution."

Similar Marxist-Islamist alliances have been formed in Belgium and Germany, where the Muslim Brotherhood itself has been taken over by radicals sympathetic to al-Qaida.

Talks are underway for holding a pan-European conference next year to give the Marxist-Islamist alliance permanent organizational structures.

The European Marxist-Islamist coalition does not offer a coherent political platform. Its ideology is built around three themes: hatred of the United States, the dream of wiping Israel off the map, and the hoped-for collapse of the global economic system.

Europe's hard Left sees Muslims as the new under-class in the continent.

"Are these not the new slaves?" asks Olivier Besanconneau, leader of the French Trotskyites. "Is it not natural that they should unite with the working class to destroy the capitalist system?"

The idea of an alliance with Islamists has even seduced the more traditional French Communist Party (PCF), which commissioned a study of the possibilities of electoral alliances with Muslim organizations.

The Islamists, for their part, are attracted to the European hard Left because of its professed hatred of the United States and Israel.

"We say to anyone who hates the Americans and wants to throw the Jews out of Palestine: ahlan wa sahlan (welcome)," quipped Abu-Hamza al-Masri, the British Islamist firebrand who is awaiting extradition to the US on various criminal charges. "The Prophet teaches that we could ally ourselves even with the atheists if it helps us destroy [the] enemy."

The first to advocate a leftist-Islamist alliance against Western democracies was Ayman Al Zawahiri, al-Qaida's #2. In a message to al-Qaida sympathizers in Britain in August 2002, he urged them to seek allies among "any movement that opposes America, even atheists."

The idea has received support from Ilich Ramirez Sanchez, the Venezuelan terrorist known as Carlos the Jackal. In his book Revolutionary Islam, published in Paris last year, Carlos, who says he has converted to Islam, claims he has advised Osama bin Laden, the al-Qaida leader, to forge an alliance with "all guerrilla, terrorist, and other revolutionary groups throughout the world, regardless of their religious or ideological beliefs."

Carlos says Islam is the only force capable of persuading large numbers of people to become "volunteers" for suicide attacks against the US. "Only a coalition of Marxists and Islamists can destroy the US," he says.

Europe must wake up to the dangers that this new version of the red-and-black alliance poses to its democracy, indeed to its political and social peace.

The writer, an Iranian author and journalist, is editor of the Paris-based Politique Internationale.