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Zugzwang a review

Zugzwang

by Ronan Bennett 2007
Bloomsbury

Zugzwang

Set around the great chess tournament held in St.Petersburg, in April/May 1914 (annotated) where the winner was to become endowed as the first chess Grand Master by the Tsar,Bennett takes the reader on a journey through plots within plots, revolution and chess. A thrilling, novel novel as a game is played throughout the story that challenges the reader to play along. (I skipped that but it will intrigue players I’ve no doubt) Bennett states of the main character, Rozental, “chess enthusiasts will have their opinion on the identity of the man on whom they think it is based.” The game played when the characters have time to play it is the Spethmann-Kopelzon game, (not the championship game) which it is said “bears a remarkable similarity” to King-A.Sokolov, the Swiss team Championship played in 2000.

Spethgame

I am not giving anything away the cover does not, to say “zugzwang is a chess term derived from the German, Zug (move) and Zwang (compulsion,obligation). It is used to describe a position in which a player is reduced to a state of utter helplessness. he is obliged to move, but every move only makes his position even worse.” I have never heard of this concept before but it strikes me that there is a lot in the way of general explanation of world events that can be understood through applying this idea. Hence this review.

Add a touch of spice, a psychoanalyst, (Otto Spethmann) and a few Anna K’s, police, spies, double agents and concert pianists (Kopelzon) and you have as the cover says, “A riveting story of treachery,murder,intrigue and passion” in a mere 274 pages and with an excellent Biblio of political background of late Tsarist Russia. Such big characters and ideas in succinct style. It is not surprising to learn Bennett is a regular chess journalist for the Guardian.
Bennett states in Acknowledgements that “Similarities may also be observed between Zugzang’s Gregory Petrov and the real-life Bolshevik militant Roman Malinowski.”

A can’t put down and informative read. Enjoy it from the bargain tables as I did.
Other reviews

The general commander of People’s Defense Units (YPG) in an interview with SOHR, “We view al- Hasakah as a nucleus of the new democratic Syria

From the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR)
October 1 2015
For those on Face Book the SOHR has a regular update on clashes and casualties etc..

“Daesh is a force of darkness, it bears no relation to Islam and the humanity, and we appeal to our Arab brothers, who left their villages and towns, to go back home”.

“The war may continue for ten years; it is the nations’ game on my the land of my country, where the victim in this war is my people”.

In these words, Siban Hammo the general commander of People’s Defense Units (YPG) concluded his interview with SOHR.

People’s Defense Units, known by YPG too, established a military force in the last four years, where the number of its fighters reached to 50000. The nucleus formation began in the Syrian Jaziar with the end of 2011, where it was able to achieve victories against “Islamic State” as well as its clashes with the regime forces, Jabhat al- Nusra (al- Qaeda in Levant) and Islamist factions in successive periods. It military formations have distributed in three main region where the Democratic Union Party (PYD), which is combined with People’s Defense Units (YPG) within the Democratic Society System, declared the establishment of 3 districts of al- Jazira, Efrin and Kobani in the late January 2014.

YPG has gained world-wide fame during IS attack on Ayn al- Arab (Kobani) and seizing more than 356 towns, villages and farms that guided to the military alliance between YPG and US-led coalition. SOHR could interview the general commander of YPG Siban Hammo, where the main points on the Kurdish and Syrian arena in general.

First of all, how do identify YPG?

“best definition of it is its name People’s Defense Units, its fundamental pillar is the young Syrian Kurdish men who are militarily disciplined, while its mission is to protect the people in Rojava in all its constituents under these deadly mess in the cantons of Rojava”. Rojava is an expression for the regions inhabited mostly by Kurdish people in Syria.

Is it faction from the Krilla forces – the military wing of PKK? And does it fight on Turkish territories with PKK?

“YPG is a military force belongs to the Democratic Self- Management in Rojava, and it is fighting in fierce battles to protect its regions, so YPG has no interest to open a front with Turkey expanding to hundreds of kilo meters, this is a military suicide, and what is said on the contrary of this is meaningless and does not merit a response.

What is your response to the accusations of recruiting children?

“We have issued a lot of statement in response to these allegations but it seems that some people insist on repeating this just to defame the good reputation gained by YPG, we all know who recruit children as fighters and suicide bombers by the name of Jihad.”

What is the relationship between the Self- Defense Forces, which was announced some time ago, and YPG? Is it an attempt to increase YPG personnel obligatorily? And is it a permanent or temporary step?

“The Self- Defense is a step to organize a permanent protection, where the society in all its constituents protects its self, and to that time YPG stays the most experienced in defending our areas. For this reason, the Self- Defense is a goal we seek to reach to, and its first step was YPG.”

Now, let talk about the hottest event, what is the story behind the last clashes in al- Sheikh Maqsoud in Aleppo?

“To answer this question, we have to see the whole picture, provocations have started by attacking our areas in the villages of Deir Ballout and Diwan as well as kidnapping civilians and banditry; the last one was the attempt of arm-twisting by their attack on the neighborhood of al- Sheikh Maqsoud believing that it is the weakest link because it is far from the center of gravity Efrin and due to the difficulties of ensuring logistic support, as the neighborhood besieged for more than a week and the humanitarian situation there is so bad specially because the neighborhood is inhabited by more than 250000 civilians from all society constituents.

We also draw attention to the point that the national members in the opposition were disturbed about this attack on the neighborhood of al- Sheikh Maqsoud, I, in turn, wondered and would you like you to wonder like me, who benefit from this attack? And who benefit from opening a front against the kurds? What is the advantages?

“Simply, Jabhat al- Nusra, al- Soltan Morad Brigade and Ahrar al- Sham Movement are agents for another force in fighting Kurds, and this force or the third-party gave them the orders to open this front.”

What is the prospect of the battle in Aleppo, is it a defensive or offensive measure?

“From our side, the battle is defensive, we respond to the sources of fire and protect the outskirt of the neighborhood. But if the same situation continue surely we are going take more stringent measures, and we are going to change the battle into the offensive position, I do not say that we are going to control more areas but I assure that we are going to hurt them and targeting their held areas.”

Do you think that Ahrar al- Sham, Jabhat al- Nusra, al- Zinki and other factions may alley themselves to attack Efrin?

“Jabhat al- Nusra believe in Bay’ah (in Islamic terminology, is an oath of allegiance to a leader) and does not believe in alliances simply because it does not believe in partnership, it endeavors to control all the factions exist in its-held areas whether by force or enticement by lining the pockets.

In addition, it is practically controls Nour al- Din Zinki Movement, part of al- Shamiyyah Front like al- Sham Legion and even with Soqor al- Jabal battalions supported by US. However, anyone refuses to join Jabhat al- Nusra is going to be assassinated as what happened to Hazem Movement, the Syrian revolutionaries Front and the Division Jabhat al- Nusra is unveiling the reality of its method that is assassination or control, and after that it will mobilize against Efrin. Here, I want to add something, it saddened us that there are some people in the Free Syrian Army who do not differ from Jabhat al- Nusra in their actions.”

Is the truce in Kefrayya and al- Fu’ah in the countryside of Idlib will have negative effect on Efrin particularly on Atmah and Jandirs front?

“We do not count very much on this agreement as it is a periodical and tactical one, we hope to be a success to alleviate the humanitarian suffering of civilians, women and children on both sides. However, as realistic reading, we do not expect it to be a success especially after a lot of breaches occurred in the past 2 days. Concerning Jabhat al- Nusra, we are enemies and what made the situation getting worse is the declarations issued by it several times that when they finish fighting in al- Fu’ah they are going to attack Efrin. Regardless al- Zabadani – al- Fu’ah agreement, the war between us has been declared for a time sometimes directly and sometime indirectly.”

How do you evaluate the current the situation in al- Hasakah, and what is your goal in the area?

“From the military aspect, the situation from al- Hasakah to Kobani is a defensive one. So, after expelling Daesh from al- Hasakah, Kobani and Tal Abyad our units are deployed defensively to repel any possible attack carried by IS militants.

“We view al- Hasakah as a nucleus of the new democratic Syria. For this reason, we are working on establishing joint councils includes Kurds, Arabs and Syriacs, and on increasing the communication among all constituents. So, the success of our project in al- Hasakah is the motivation to fine similar solution that could be applied on the whole Syria where Syria will be free and democratic for all people.

What about the ongoing military actions in the countryside of Ayn al- Arab (Kobani)?

“The military operation in the countryside of Kobani is under the military operation room of Burkan al- Forat that includes YPG and some factions of the Free Army, so this operation is going to continue until we reach al- Raqqa and expel Daesh from it. YPG is committed to providing all kinds of support to the factions of the Free Army affiliated to the military operation room of Burkan al- Forat in order to defeat Daesh and retake al- Raqqa.”

Were you going to achieve these glory victories in Ayna al- Arab (Kobani) without US-led coalition support?

“To be realistic, we cannot deny the role offered by US-led coalition in Koabani battle but frankly speaking, I confirm that the legendary resistance and courage of our fighters as well as their ability to scarify their blood were behind these victories. So, US-led coalition had an important role but it is not the basic one.

Under these victories, there are some parties accuse you of seeking to secede from Syria in order to establish a Kurdish entity.

“These are false accusations, the Turkish government underlies them where it tries to portray any Kurdish strife as if it is a secessionist movement. Rather, those who repeat these accusations should communicate with us and see our project, then they will discover that our main project for Syria is establishing a pluralist parliamentary democratic system, and that it is Syrian project par excellence for all the constituents of Syrian people. It is the real guarantee for the unity of Syria, so stop repeating Erdogan speech like parrots. I would like also to ask them, is the stay of Daesh in Jarablos and the countryside of Aleppo is a guarantee for the unity of Syria?!”

What is your response about that YPG displaces the Arabs from their regions?

Frankly speaking, we got bored of these blatant lies and falsehoods, we issued a formal statement about that, as well as many human rights organizations have refuted these allegations. In war, it is very normal that the civilians will leave the clashing areas towards safer places, and that what happened in all the clashing areas in Syria from Horan to Qameshlo, but those who have been disturbed by our victories and tolerance and humanity turned to confuse what we have achieved. In addition, we have repeatedly launched appeals for the citizens to return to their homes, and allow me to reiterate the call from your rostrum to all citizens on order to come back to their homes.”

Too much talk about your relation with the regime especially after al- Hasakah clashes, how do you explain this relation if any?

“These accusations are the same of accusations of seeking to secede, so those who repeat such accusations have closed their minds on two ways, whether to be with me or with the regime. I said to them we the are the third line. Our revolution against injustice and tyranny has its own special way that is nor similar to anything. We are convinced of the impossibility of the military solution for the Syria crisis but it should be a cultural, intellectual and political one. Therefore, we depend on ensuring protection to the citizen who will build new democratic Syria; the peaceful Syria. We are friends of people and friends of all those who want democracy and equality.

Earlier, you held a truce with Jabhat al- Nusra and other Islamist factions, if there is any mediation are you going to hold a truce with “Islamic State”?

“Our conviction is that Daesh is a force of darkness, it bears no relation to Islam and the humanity, even it is criminal force established to destroy all what is human. In my opinion, there is no big difference between Jabhat al- Nusra and Daesh but the war with al- Nusra is a little bit complicated because there are a lot of Syrians in its ranks and because there are some parties attempting to burnish its image on media. As for the truce, there was no truce between only Jabhat al- Nusra and us but it always was with several factions and Jabhat al- Nusra was signing with them on the truce.”

Lastly, what is your vision for the realistic solution of Syria crisis?

Unfortunately, what is happening in Syria, we can call it clashes of titans; it is more like a third world war, where the major powers are fighting to divide the zones of influence in the world.”

“The solution is not in the hand of Syrian now, it is related with the contesting powers, we see it a war of change of maps, divisions, agreements and mentalities that are hundreds years old. Syria is also a conflict center and the solution of disputes will be on its land. Unfortunately, our point of view is that the war may take dozens of years, and all what the Syrian people can do is having the will and the attempt to achieve a joint project that protects them, reduce the losses and help them to promote strongly at the end of war.”

“The war will not stop in Syria but it will extend to all the Middle East and my extend more than that, and then will see a reverse migration from all countries towards Syria which will be the safest country.”

Russia back on the frontline

I have been asked to publish this for discussion.

by TOM SWITZER

The Australian

September 30, 2015 12:00AM

Since Russia’s incursion into Ukraine 18 months ago, the West has indulged in the rhetoric of moral indignation, punished Moscow with economic sanctions and treated Vladimir Putin as a pariah in world affairs. “Russia is isolated with its economy in tatters,” President Barack Obama declared in January. “That’s how America leads — not with bluster but with persistent, steady resolve.”

Somebody forgot to tell the Russian President. Putin’s address to the UN General Assembly this week, following his lightning military deployment to Syria, marks Russia’s resurgence on the global stage. The Russians, far from being marginalised in international relations, are playing a weak hand rather skilfully and are being allowed to do so because of considerable ineptitude and vacillation on the part of the Obama administration.

The upshot is that Washington will have to take the Kremlin far more seriously in the future. This is not just because Putin’s support for the embattled Assad regime will help degrade and destroy Islamic State jihadists in a four ­year civil war that has claimed nearly 250,000 lives and displaced more than nine million people. Rather, Russia’s intervention in Syria shows how rational Moscow’s concerns over Western policy in the Middle East are, and that the Obama administration had better start treating it like the great power it still is.

After the fall of the Berlin Wall, Moscow voluntarily jettisoned the Warsaw Pact and acquiesced in the expansion of NATO and the EU on to the frontiers of the former Soviet Union. But the limits of Russia’s post ­Cold War retreat have been evident since the Western ­backed coup against a pro-Russian ally in Kiev in February last year. Putin has played hardball to protect what Russia has deemed as its sphere of influence in the Baltics long before Vladimir Lenin and Joseph Stalin appeared on the scene. And in the Middle East it is determined to protect what it perceives as its vital interests.

Putin fears that if Bashar al­Assad’s regime falls, Russia’s presence in western Syria and its strategic military bases on the Mediterranean will be gone. That is why he has sent tanks, warships, fighter jets and troops to bolster the regime, which has faced a troop shortage and loss of towns as it seeks to maintain Alawite rule over an overwhelming Sunni majority.

And by reaching an understanding with Syria as well as Iraq and Iran to share intelligence about Islamic State, Putin is positioning Russia again as a key player in the Middle East, and one that is more willing than the West to defeat Sunni jihadists. In the process, he has exposed the shortcomings of the White House’s policy towards Syria.

Until recently, the prevailing wisdom held that the Assad regime — the nemesis of Sunni militants was on the verge of collapse, an outcome that Washington, London and Canberra had enthusiastically encouraged for much of the past four years. And although Malcolm Turnbull and Foreign Minister Julie Bishop now recognise that Assad must be part of any negotiated political solution, the Obama administration continues to insist that any resolution of the conflict must lead to the exit of the dictator.

US Secretary of State John Kerry warns Russia’s continued support for Assad “risks exacerbating and extending the conflict” and will undermine “our shared goal of fighting extremism”. British Chancellor George Osborne goes so far as to say the West’s aim should to be to defeat both Assad and Islamic State. But given Washington’s futile attempts to destroy the Sunni jihadist network during the past year, most seasoned observers of the Syrian crisis are entitled to think that such strategies are manifest madness.

The consequences of removing Assad would be dire. The regime would collapse and its Alawite army would crumble. Sunni jihadists such as Islamic State and al­Qa’ida’s Syrian affiliate Jabhat al­Nusra, also known as al­Nusra Front, would exploit the security vacuum and dominate all of Syria. The ethnic minorities — the Alawites, Shi’ites and Syrian Christians — would be massacred. And there would be the flight of millions more refugees into Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey.

If we are to avoid these horrific outcomes, Russia will have to play a central and positive role. It has had significant influence in Damascus during the past half century; indeed, many Syrian military officers have received training in Moscow. Russia’s navy and advanced anti­aircraft missile systems are based along the Mediterranean. It’s likely to deploy ground troops to the eastern coast. And Moscow has recognised that notwithstanding Assad’s brutal conduct, his regime is fighting the jihadists that Western leaders repeatedly say pose a grave and present danger to the world.

Obama says the US would work with any nation to end the fighting in Syria. But to engage Russia, the West needs to change its policy approach substantially. Alas, the prevailing Russophobia in Washington and Brussels remains a serious obstacle in the path of reaching accommodation with Moscow.

The problem in Ukraine is not related to a revival of the Soviet empire, as some hyperventilating politicians and pundits argue. The problem is the widespread Western failure to recognise an old truth of geopolitics: that a great power fights tooth and nail to protect vital security interests in its near abroad. Take Ukraine: it is a conduit for Russian exports to Europe and covers a huge terrain that the French and Germans crossed to attack Russia in the 19th and 20th centuries. Most Crimeans are glad to be part of the country they called home from Catherine’s rule to that of Nikita Khrushchev.

From Moscow’s standpoint, the expansion of NATO and the EU into Russia’s traditional sphere of influence, taken together with efforts to promote democracy, is akin to Moscow expanding military alliances into Central America. Some may respond by saying that Ukraine, however ethnically and politically divided it remains, has every right to join the West. But did communist Cuba have a right to seek political and military ties with the Soviet Union in 1962? Not from Washington’s perspective. Does Taiwan have a right to seek nationhood? Not from Beijing’s perspective.

This is a shame, but it is the way the world works, and always has. Not only does Putin know it, he calculates that a weak, inept and cautious Obama administration won’t push the issue despite the dire threats and warnings from congress and the Pentagon.

And so it was inevitable that the Russians would push back in the Baltics, first to secure the Crimean peninsula, the traditional home of the Russian Black Sea fleet (which Russian intelligence feared would become a NATO base), then to destabilise Ukraine with the aim of persuading Kiev’s anti ­Russian regime to protect the minority rights of ethnic Russians and maintain its status as a buffer state.

As for Syria, the problem here is not the Russians — or even Iran’s Shia crescent of Damascus, Baghdad, Hezbollah and the Yemeni rebels. After all, they’re committed to fighting Sunni jihadists. The problem is that US ­British aligned Sunni states — Turkey, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Arabs — have aided and abetted the Sunni rebellion that has morphed into Sunni jihadism.

Yet these reactionary regimes still have the temerity to call for Assad’s ouster. Following regime change, we’re told, a US­ led coalition of Arabs and Turks can create a peaceful and prosperous Syria.

Leave aside the fact Assad’s support stems not just from Moscow and Tehran but also from Syria’s military, political and business elites, including many urban Sunnis. Assad is a brutal tyrant. He has used chemical weapons against his own people. And he has launched relentless barrel bombs in rebel areas. But he is more popular than ever in the one ­third of Syria his regime still controls (which happens to be the major cities and the coastland). That is largely because many know his demise would lead to widespread ethnic cleansing.

The idea that Assad’s fall would lead to something approaching a peaceful transition of power is as delusional as the neo­conservative views about Iraq and Libya in 2003 and 2011 respectively. The downfall of Saddam Hussein and Muammar Gaddafi, it was onfidently asserted, would lead to viable democratic states. If anything, both post­Saddam Iraq and post­Gaddafi Libya are failed states that have attracted terrorists like flies to a dying animal.

As in the case of Iraq, Syria is an artificial state and an ethnically divided society created out of the ruins of the Ottoman Empire. In both nations the invasion and civil war, respectively, have unleashed centrifugal forces that are eroding political structures and borders that have prevailed since the end of World War I.

In Iraq, the 2003 invasion ended the nation’s sectarian imbalance between the minority Sunni and majority Shia communities. Ever since, the Shia have been more interested in seeking revenge against their former Sunni tormentors than in building a nation. The result: a Sunni insurgency that has morphed into a plethora of jihadist groups, including Islamic State.

In Syria, the Arab Spring in 2011 encouraged the Sunni majority to challenge and destroy the minority Alawite regime. The result: centrifugal forces that threaten the viability of Syria as we have known it for nearly a century.

As unfashionable as it is to acknowledge, partition is the likely outcome of the civil war. According to Joshua Landis, a veteran Syria observer and director of the Centre for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma, many Syrians, and Alawites in particular, privately acknowledge that the prospect of outright military victory against the Sunni militants is highly unlikely and that it would be impossible to coexist with Sunni fanatics.

For Syria, partition would most likely mean an Alawite Shia state in the regime’s western heartland and a Sunni state to the southeast. Notwithstanding statements to the contrary, this is the emerging reality on the ground.

As long as the regime endures, it at least prevents Sunni jihadists from consolidating their hold over the whole nation and creating a strategic sanctuary along Syria’s coasts.

The moral and political problems posed by Syria’s civil war during the past four years have been real and extremely difficult ones. Assad heads a brutal regime that, according to The Washington Post, has killed about seven times as many people as Islamic State in the first six months of this year.

But the cold, hard reality is that if the US and its allies are serious about defeating the Sunni jihadists, and not merely determined to feel virtuous and moralistic, we will need to tone down our anti­Russian bombast, restore a dialogue with Putin and recognise the madness of regime change in Damascus.  And if that means accommodating Putin’s power play in the Middle East, so be it.

Tom Switzer is a research associate with the United States Studies Centre at the University of Sydney. His interview with Joshua Landis airs on Between the Lines on the ABC’s Radio National on Thursday at 7.30pm and Sunday at 10am.

 

The following pic is from Radio Free Syria and is an image of Russian bombs near Roman ruins and Kafranbel Oct. 1st. 2015

Russiabombs2

Chomsky Drowning not Waving

Admin note:

It is now a decade after the 2005 series of elections in Iraq disproved Chomsky’s original narrative and the struggle against tyranny across the whole region is raging; so the following compilation article (comprised of newspaper articles, interview transcripts and blog comments etc.) is here updated and rewritten to place on record a more thorough repudiation of the Znet /Chomsky approach to the Iraq war, both at the time and currently. 

Chomsky himself is now reduced to rambling greenie mush.

For most of the intervening years the usual suspects have managed to just shrug their shoulders and point to the ongoing war as THE disaster, and that has very often sufficed (in their eyes) for an argument against launching the liberation.  But the 2015 fight against ISIS/Daesh has exposed that method. This fight is but one more example of the first fight and the attitude to this fight is demonstrating yet another level to the depth of head turning treachery that pseudolefts must resort to in the face of such a vicious enemy of progressive humanity.

The war for the transformation of the entire region is now focussed on Daesh and is thus widely accepted as unavoidable for the west by western peoples including a majority of reluctant working class ‘voters’. Neverland thinking is – in WW2 manner – once again isolated in the face of united efforts that are now required (obviously I would have though) right across the region. People like Steven Hawking and Geoffry Robinson are speaking out and those like Chomsky that remain opposed to ‘imperialist meddling’ gone a bit quiet. IMV the masses have grasped that western countries are and ought to be at war.

Progressive forces across the Islamic regions are seeking western military assistance and the pseudoleft ‘anti-imperialists’ have now split over every incident where the western ruling elites are in anyway involved.  The Syrian revolution has shattered what remains of the western anti-war masses that were on the streets in their millions prior to the destruction of the heavy weapons systems of the Baathists and the liberation of Iraq by the Coalition Of the Willing.

“Well, of course revolutionary war is illegal. Legal systems are created by revolutions, not revolutions by legal systems”, is the take home point from the criticisms of Noam Chomsky’s position on the Iraq war outlined below.

One further point.

The article when first published had a flavor of ‘naive’ optimism over the entire Iraq modernity project. In the writers defense – we were ‘younger’ then and just how deadly such ‘swamps’ are for any type of democratically minded reformists was not yet on full and daily display.  But nevertheless this more sober view from someone ‘older and wiser’ is still an overwhelmingly optimistic perspective because frankly history gives progressives good cause to be optimistic and ‘if you don’t  fight, you lose’ is a useful maxim to live by whatever history throws at us. 

Internationalists take what we call the mass line.  The entire approach to politics of always taking the mass line and uniting the many to defeat the few is the foundation for realistic optimism right across this planet whatever local events and temporary setbacks we confront. 

The winds of progress still blow whatever the tides are doing in the ‘backwaters’ of the world.

Noam Chomsky – Drowning not Waving.
first published at Lastsuperpower
by Patrick Muldowney 01/09/2006

The U.S. ruling-elite forgot to install puppets, is the stunning inference we are obliged to make from the following interview of Noam Chomsky given back in December 2005. 

Obviously the US military did not install puppets. The US ruling elite undoubtedly intended to remove the Baathists regime and disband the Baathist army and state structure because that is what they did. Restructuring the same tyranny with a US friendly as ‘their’ son of a bitch was not even possible in the 21st C. Once the heavy weapons were gone from the Baathists the Kurds and the Shia could never be put back in ‘their place’. There would have to be a new regime and elections were the only viable option.

For many years after the removal of the Baathist regime in 2003 (right through the required period of occupation and beyond) there were attempts to portray the Iraqi political forces as puppets by some western pseudoleftists and these lies and distortions was tolerated by many others in the anti-war milieu even when know to be rubish.

To rip off the Iraqi peoples (oil or whatever) puppets would have been required not independent nationalists and such an instalation as had often been installed in say central America in the early parts of the 20th C was predicted but when it did not happen the anti-war crowd discraced themselves. They abandoned theory and valid forms of argument. so nothing else makes sense; and as that inference doesn’t either we are thus dealing with a senseless argument from Chomsky who is far from being a senseless individual.

The point is everyone knows all these years later that his reasoning at the begining of 2003 left him only 2 years later dead in the water when the COW didn’t follow his purported imperialist ‘game book’ and people turned a blind eye to this rather than face up to the required corrections.

Noam on the People

In this interview Chomsky tells us how things were done by the old time imperialists, people like the Japanese in Korea, and the British in India.  These were imperialists that really knew their business not like what he is implying are the incompetent bunch of Neo-Cons then comprising the Bush Administration.  He is laughing at the current crop because he beileves they don’t even know what they HAVE to do!

In reviewing events ranging as far back as his youth Chomsky however gets himself lost and confused. The obvious though unstated conclusion is that the U.S. ruling-elite is not behaving rationally. Don’t misunderstand me, he would never say this directly. Quite the reverse, but it is nevertheless the only legitimate conclusion that can be drawn from his interview.

Citing various examples he points out that the U.S. in reality has always been opposed to democracy in the Middle East. He points out that they have done so while always proclaiming the opposite rhetorically. Chomsky maintains that after 9/11 the U.S. has not changed policies, and the current talk amounts to the same as it ever was.  For Chomsky the Bush administration is as opposed to the spread of bourgeois democracy as have been all other U.S. administrations since WW2!

Meanwhile, Bush maintains there is a new policy.

Chomsky is no longer just arguably wrong, but on the results of the Iraqi elections demonstrably wrong in this crucial example.

Clearly the election in Iraq produced genuine representatives with mass support. These Iraqis are no puppets of U.S. imperialism and to think otherwise is ludicrous. Yet the moribund section of the ‘peace movement’ would have us think just that.  Their position is unsustainable.

Chomsky knows the elected representatives are not puppets, so he creates a diversion and argues instead that ‘democracy’ has to mean something other than the establishment of a bourgeois representative democracy.  A modern representative democracy with proportional representation is a desirable and supportable advance on the absolute tyranny of the Baathists and he knows that.  But instead of accepting this and arguing that the Iraqi masses (just like we in the west) will have to move beyond that level of progress at some point, he fudges this issue of moderate and reasonable negotiated progress.

While anti democratic bombing in Iraq’s markets and schools etc is almost daily still going on in this war between those who are agreeing to a constitutional government and proportional representative bourgeois democracy Chomsky dumps a mish mash of anarchist ideas on us that effectively concludes that unless they (the representatives) hold the ‘apparent’ views of the masses, (established by secret British polling no less) and demand that the Coalition withdraw forthwith, then the Iraqi political forces are just political elitists no longer representing anyone except themselves!  The Ballot barely counted and the newly and in most cases re-elected politicians are to be ignored once more by Chomsky, they being nothing but political elitists!

That is a pathetic slight of hand.  The perfect is here put forward to be the enemy of the good.

On top of that distortion Chomsky is not interested in pondering what is in the imperialists interests in the here and now for this century as they planned and implemented this war- a war that was sure to lead to this or a very similar democratic political outcome.

Instead, in what is a deliberate diversion, he tells us that we must never believe declaratory policies, no matter what or who the political leaders are as if we have to take a course in understanding class society 101 from an anarchist viewpoint. But this diversion into the obscure anarchist land of direct democracy is vital a little later when a patently deliberate sleight of hand is pulled.

Chomsky talks endlessly about how he thinks the will of the Iraqi people ‘apparently’ (the word is deliberately used on several occasions) is that the coalition forces should withdraw immediately and leave it to the Iraqi people to sort out. Yet the vast majority of the political forces that stood for election don’t think this and said so during the election campaign.

Thus for Chomsky the ‘apparent’ will of the Iraqi people was not just determined by free and fair elections (that delivered a proportional number of elected representatives of the Iraqi people).  Rather the will as Chomsky implies all through this interview is to be determined by a representative poll conducted in secret by the British, and with questions what’s more that we currently do not have clearly before us!

For the decrepit ‘peace movement’ all the election did was enable the imperialists to establish a political elite (leaders and a government) that all good people can now ignore because;  ‘No rational person pays the slightest attention to declarations of benign intent on the part of leaders, no matter who they are. And the reason is they’re completely predictable, including the worst monsters,…’

So, those who just ran for election with their platforms and so forth right up front, who are daily risking their lives in the cause of the liberation, can be ignored by Chomsky as speaking for no-one when they again ask the coalition to remain in Iraq and continue assisting to fight the jihadists and Baathists and to build the armed forces etc..

Make no mistake; once ignored, these openly campaigning politicians can then be called collaborators and understandably attacked by the ‘resistance’.  Noam and the rest can then shrug with a ‘what do you expect’ exasperated expression.  These political leaders will be physically attacked over the years with no solidarity from Z-net types until the attacks in the new Iraq are so blatantly fascist that Noam will have to fall silent.

The concept of a resistance will have to at some point vanish from the narative.

For anyone remotely attracted to democracy in any form Noam has led them into a dead end.

The violent elements of this ‘noble’ resistance will become ‘the monsters let loose’.  A mass non-violent method of resistance led by no-one really – because those leaders would have had to be ignored as well one supposes, will have sprung de novo fully formed and in control of a country fighting undemocratic monsters.  Actually you can get away with these leaders (like Chomsky himself) all you do is call them a ‘sort of figure head’ for the mass movement (non violent to be sure).  Just don’t look back because there will be no ‘lawful’ trail to follow.  A revolutionary transformation will be unavoidably real and will have been fatherless.  ‘Not in my name!’ was the banner carried by the confused left and the pseudoleft all marched behind it.

Having plunged this far into Z net thinking we can now see that there is not even a veneer of open inquiry to be found.  We are confronted with blatant anti-American shibboleths.   There is no ‘seeking truth from facts’ over what has been happening in Iraq.

History was being used by Noam not to guide us forward but to block inquiry into unacceptable areas. It is as if we are in a church service being preached at and not involved in any political analysis. Now we are firmly in the realm of the pseudoleft where theory trumps practice; cultures are fixed and relative; and the ‘struggle against western imperialism’ has regressed to the point where even norms of the basic bourgeois democratic revolution are abandoned before our very eyes.

I have at least one thing in common with Chomsky: I didn’t accept the declaratory policy of the Coalition before, during, or after the war in Iraq*. Nevertheless, I do NOT believe the leaders are ‘completely predictable’ and as evidence for this view I offer the fact that Chomsky admits that he did not predict what they would do once they had overthrown the Baathist tyranny of Saddam Hussein.

Chomsky – as did all the usual suspects – got it dead wrong and he openly admits this. He believed it would be business-as-usual.

Yet a very few dissident left-wingers with a long history of campaigning against imperialism got it right.

For instance, people at Lastsuperpower.net predicted that the US administration, would push for elections that everyone knew islamist parties would win and the Shia would dominate and that this push for democratic elections was in stark contrast to Vietnam where because the democratic result was going to be the election of communists they simply refused to hold them.

In the example of the Vietnam War, left-wingers predicted that U.S. imperialism would be crushed by people’s war and thrown out of Vietnam, and they were. We didn’t apologise for the armed-struggle, we supported it. ‘One side’s right, the other’s wrong; victory to the Vietcong’, was one of the demonstration chants of the time.

No mass non-violent movement threw the imperialist forces out they were defeated by the armed-struggle of the Vietnamese in conjunction with a supportive political struggle on the streets of the Western world. The Vietnamese were engaged in a justifiable armed-struggle just as they engaged the French and Japanese before and leftists around the world supported that armed-struggle!

The current war in Iraq is being waged by Baathists, reactionary Islamic jihadis, and Arab national chauvinists of a mostly Sunni persuasion, but also a very few Shia chauvinists. All are opposed to democracy in any form and can only be described as the enemy of all potential democratic revolutions in Iraq, whether non-violent or armed. They are the enemy of all modernity as the U.S. was in Vietnam and ought be as firmly opposed.

There is thus no comparison between the two wars just as there is no comparison between the war in Vietnam and WW2.

The warring opponents of democracy constitute but a minute [I would now correct this expression to small] portion of the Iraqi population and deserve no support or understanding whatsoever from any descendents of the Enlightenment. They ought be fought by a united-front of all: just like the vicious medievalist Islamists invading from other countries in the region. These Islamists are reactionary, ‘crusader’ types and the irony is not lost on those suffering from their ‘Kamikaze’ and head lopping activities.

The surrounding countries that the Islamists come from are still very deeply mired in the swamp of Middle Eastern reaction, and that ongoing problem is exactly what we ought to be discussing now and not the defense of the Iraqi masses from their vicious attacks.

This is exactly what Noam Chomsky did discuss way back on September 10 2002, and it was raised by Last Superpower author Albert Langer in his article published in 2003 in the mainstream Australian press.

May Day – it’s the festival of the distressed

by Albert Langer

THE AUSTRALIAN 01 May 2003

‘The war in Iraq has woken people everywhere – and the pseudo-Left has really blown its chance’.

Millions who marched in mid February stopped marching two months later, as soon as the argument shifted towards democratising and liberating the Iraqi people. Those millions still agree that George W. Bush is an arrogant bully, but they no longer believe the peace-mongers have got it right. People want to figure out what is going on and are joining the debate at websites such as Last Superpower.

For months, the argument was about weapons of mass destruction and the role of the UN. If the demands of the US, and the UN, had been fully met, Saddam Hussein could have lived happily and the Iraqi people miserably, for ever after.

But look at what happened next! Suddenly we were hearing a different song. Bush has been making the argument not for disarming Iraq but for liberating Iraq. Stripped of the “God bless America” stuff, the US President’s case now goes like this:

“If we devote our resources to draining the swamps, addressing the roots of the ‘campaigns of hatred’, we can not only reduce the threats we face, but also live up to ideals that we profess and that are not beyond reach if we choose to take them seriously.”

Actually, those words are from Noam Chomsky two days before Bush’s UN speech on September 10, 2002.

But if Bush had adopted Chomsky’s position so early, that would have prevented congressional authorisation. Such a position threatens to destabilise despotic, reactionary regimes everywhere. But those in the US foreign policy establishment have devoted their entire careers to supporting the most corrupt tyrannies in the Middle East, in the name of “stability”.

For Chomsky, “draining the swamps” apparently didn’t include killing people and blowing things up. Fortunately, Bush is made of sterner stuff.

Both Bush and Chomsky know the US cannot be secure from medievalist terrorist mosquitoes while the Middle East remains a swamp. But Bush also knows that modernity ‘grows out of the barrel of a gun.’

That is a genuinely Left case for a revolutionary war of liberation such as has occurred in Iraq. The pseudo-Left replies: “That’s illegal.”

Well, of course revolutionary war is illegal. Legal systems are created by revolutions, not revolutions by legal systems.

The next logical step for the new policy is to establish a viable Palestinian state. Bush has put himself in a position where he can and must take that step. Naturally, he will not admit to the enormous strategic and policy retreat that such a step implies, so he has preceded it with enough triumphalist rhetoric to make even the Fox News team look queasy.

The revival of the Left in the ’60s only began once it was widely noticed that the remnants of the previous movement were reactionaries obstructing progress. After it tried so hard to preserve fascism in Iraq even after Bush Jr had wisely given up on Bush Sr’s policy of keeping the Iraqi dictator in power. Can anyone deny the pseudo-Left is reactionary?’

END Albert Langer

As things stand, one could be forgiven for not noticing that a reasonable parliamentary democracy has been agreed upon by the Iraqi masses via a mass vote. The Constitutional Referendum in October does not get a mention – yet it was this document that formally establishes how the Iraqi ‘will’ is to be determined, and replaced the Baathist tyranny. And note to Chomsky it’s not a secret poll conducted by the British military with god knows what wording!

Chomsky goes on at length actually condemning the most democratic election ever held in Iraq and ignoring the proportionally elected representatives. He wants no part of an Iraqi Government because he wants to continue to classify these representatives as collaborators, as does Robert Fisk, whom he praises.

The Iraqi people have gone to the polls three times in twelve months yet their representatives are to be called collaborators and ignored? Something of a card trick; in the end you have been told the will of the Iraqi people so often that ‘apparently’ there is no need to talk to any representatives. In the end you are forced by the card sharp to choose the ‘withdraw at once’ card.

The old-time anti-democratic imperialist practices were the standard practices of the preeminent imperial powers just prior to their crushing defeats. Chomsky is referring to a period so long-ago now that one can speak of a different era.

The US ruling-elite tried the same old policies in Indo-China and met with utter defeat almost 35 years ago. The Vietnamese war of National Liberation is what a war of liberation looks like when imperialists are really trying to prevent elections. But Noam Chomsky insists that the US ruling-elite went into Iraq with no genuine plan to hold free and fair elections.

Could anyone in the year 2006 imagine British imperialists re-colonizing India (And through local Indian puppets to be sure) ruling India for the benefit of the English ruling-class? Could the Japanese elite run Korea via Korean puppets? Of course they couldn’t. Why on earth would anyone think that ‘the great Satan’ could achieve this result in Iraq?

Chomsky then admits to having got it wrong about what the US government intended for Iraq at the time of the invasion. From the transcript;

Andy Clark: “With the war in Iraq, it seems we are viewing the US’s engagement in some bold, in your face, strategic geopolitical chess. In your opinion, what is the US’s next likely international move?”

Noam Chomsky: My own guess frankly, was that the invasion of Iraq would be over in about three days and that the US would install a stable client regime. It should have been one of the easiest military victories in history. But they did turn it into a catastrophe. My guess back at that time was that the next place the US would move would be the Andes in the Western Hemisphere.

End transcript

This is not only admitting that he didn’t have a clue that this was not business-as-usual but that the experienced imperialists didn’t even know how to do the old policy. (That the U.S. had been following since WW2) Chomsky gave example after example of how it is done – and then he says the Bush Administration bungled it.

Unbelievably Chomsky does not concede even the possibility that the U.S. is following a different policy he just blurts out that they blew it and turned what should have been a cake-walk, into a ‘catastrophe!’ This admission comes up, about halfway through the interview after he has gone beyond mere foolishness to ‘explain’ the real reason for the war by no more than chanting the believers mantra; ‘I mean, let’s be serious. Of course it’s oil.’

Naturally there is no analysis of exactly how the imperialists of 2006 are to achieve the long sought mythical holy grail of stealing oil without the old imperialists ability to install puppets.

No blood for oil placards

That is what it would have to be, a miracle without rational basis.

Either you have the puppets and you can steal the oil or you don’t have the puppets (As the U.S. elite clearly don’t have) and the oil revenues stay with the Iraqis. It is not done by magic so let’s really be serious because whatever the reason for the war of course it’s not about oil!

From the transcript

Miguel’s email: “Forget about the US and EU governments: they’re hopeless. Where to for ‘the people?’ How can the insanity be stopped? Or will it have to run its course and get much worse before it can get better?”

Andy Clark: What’s your take on that?

Noam Chomsky: The violence in Iraq is a serious problem for the Iraqis and I tend to agree with, apparently the majority of Iraqis, that it’s the occupation forces that are stimulating the violence. The fact that an insurgency even developed in Iraq is astonishing. I mean it’s an amazing fact that the US has had more trouble controlling Iraq than the Germans had in controlling occupied Europe or the Russians in controlling Eastern Europe. After all, the countries under Nazi or Russian occupation were run by domestic forces, domestic police, domestic armies, and domestic civilian forces. The Nazis and the Kremlin were in the background and if needed, they came in, but mostly it was domestically run. There were partisans in Western Europe and they were very courageous, but they would’ve been wiped out very quickly if it hadn’t been for enormous foreign support and, of course, Germany was at war.

Well, in Iraq none of these circumstances prevailed, there was no outside support for the resistance. The little support that has arisen, and it is very slight, is mostly engendered by the invasion. But there’s no outside support. The country had been devastated by sanctions. The US was coming in with enormous resources to rebuild it and they have turned it into a total catastrophe. It’s one of the worst military catastrophes in history. You look at figures for something like, say malnutrition; malnutrition is way up since the US took over, that’s unbelievable. It’s one of the few wars that can’t be reported, not because reporters are cowards, but because it’s too dangerous. Reporters are mostly in the Green Zone or else they go out with a platoon of marines. There are some, like Robert Fisk, Patrick Cockburn and a couple of others who are independent and brave it, but not many. This is an incredible catastrophe. But it’s very likely, and I tend to agree with apparent opinion of most Iraqis on this, that it’s the invading armies themselves that are engendering the violence. Well, they’re carrying out plenty of it, but the violence of the insurgents would probably decline if they left and allowed Iraqis to be on their own.’

End transcript

I read the above two paragraphs, gaping open-mouthed. This war can’t be reported ‘…because it’s too dangerous’! But not for the ‘brave’ partisan anti-coalition reporters – the outright apologists for the insurgents like Robert Fisk, and Patrick Cockburn, who rather than ‘brave it’ are best seen as a protected species of pro-war propagandists. They are not anti-war they are on the other side!

Fisk et al support the right of people’s under imperialist onslaught the theoretical right of resistance; they do not have to condone all the acts, indeed they don’t, after all it’s conveniently a mixed bag of sweets to pick from. As demonstrated these two ‘reporters’ are more properly called propagandists – having argued that the masses of Iraqis viewed the politicians that were elected last January and formed the interim government as nothing more than ‘collaborators’. I predict they will not retract from this position. They will absurdly say this again of the politicians elected in December, yet if they do, who will take them seriously besides Noam Chomsky?

Chomsky now has to face up to the nonsense of calling the once more, free, and fairly elected representatives collaborators. Or it may be time for the anti-war types to dissolve the people and elect a new set, because they keep electing – against all historical examples, one must add – ‘collaborators’.

‘This war can’t be reported?’ Au contraire, it is the most reported war of all time. This war is being fought in the era of instant mass-communications. Bombings and be-headings are often shown live. There are dozens of new and vibrant media outlets in Iraq from TV stations to almost every shade of newspaper. What Chomsky means is that western reporters have to rely more on Iraqi reports.

Then Chomsky stoops to outright deception. He starts out by agreeing that the elections are an important milestone event, then pulls a subtle word switch in order to maintain the ridiculously improbable notion that any democratic outcome was not the U.S. Government’s intention all along.

From the transcript;

Andy Clark:…After the vote, the President has called the elections an important milestone. Professor Chomsky, how do you see the elections? Do you see them as an important milestone for Iraq?

Noam Chomsky: Actually I do, but before talking about that, I should just bring up a kind of a truism. No rational person pays the slightest attention to declarations of benign intent on the part of leaders, no matter who they are. And the reason is they’re completely predictable, including the worst monsters, Stalin, Hitler the rest.’

What he would have us believe is that the U.S. ruling-elite under the leadership of the likes of Paul Wolfowitz were attempting in the 21st Century to;

‘…The US tried, in every possible way, to prevent elections in Iraq. They offered effort after effort to evade the danger of elections. Finally, they were compelled to accept elections by mass non-violent resistance, for which the Ayatollah al Sistani was a kind of a symbol. Mass outpourings of people demanding elections. Finally, Bush and Blair had to agree to elections. The next step is to subvert them and they started immediately. They’re doing it right now. Elections mean you pay some – in a democracy at least – you pay some attention to the will of the population. Well, the crucial question for an invading army is: ‘do they want us to be here?’…

Andy Clark: But isn’t this the start of a process that could see the occupying troops from America and Britain leaving? We’ve seen an awful lot of Iraqis taking part in the elections, two thirds, we’re told. The turnout was quite high…

Noam Chomsky: But hold on a second, … Now of course, there’s a conflict, the Iraqis have forced the occupying powers to allow some kind of electoral process. What the occupying powers are doing now is perfectly clear and very familiar, very familiar. … The way they want it to work – standard procedure – you want the local forces to run their own countries, so … the US-run state terrorist forces are the military, the civilians are local, and the US is in the background. If anything goes wrong, they move in, the same with the British in India, the same with the Japanese in South Korea.

Andy Clark: So you see this is a step to set up a sort of puppet government and not something that’s really representative of ordinary Iraqis?

Noam Chomsky: That’s what they are trying to do, but there’s always a conflict about that. Many of the Western backed or Russian or Eastern or other backed tyrants rose up. However, it is as clear as a bell that the US, and Britain behind it, are doing everything they can to prevent a sovereign, more or less democratic Iraq.’

End transcript

Saddam statue topples

So, Chomsky is saying that the U.S. went into a country with the intention of putting puppets in place, but, presumably, forgot how. Like, they had never done it before??

This is not analysis, this is a pseudo-analysis from a leftist that is now deeply mired in pseudo-leftism and who can no longer tell the real article from the shoddy fraud.

When you get it wrong as he admitted you really ought to pause to think; why did this error of judgment happen? But Chomsky dares not pause to genuinely analyse his errors, instead he rushes on with the explanation that the Bush Administration are just incompetent imperialists. He insists that it was the Neo-Cons that got it wrong by not doing what all competent imperialists do. So, he apparently only got it wrong because they did. SO, it’s not his error at all!

Anything but face up to the policy change that is now being implemented while Chomsky calls black, white. Unlike other analysts, he did not spot it coming before the war and he would not debate the issues when the analysis was pointed out to him, because to Chomsky it was an absurd, unworthy theory. He thought he didn’t have to think about any new issues but now reality is catching up and he is forced to think about the issues.

If the U.S. imperialists did not intend to install puppets after the Baathists were overthrown, and the Iraqi army disbanded then they were left with precisely what options? To honestly pose the question is to answer it.

Contrary to the Chomsky view, the liberating Coalition wanted an election right from the start and they could not possibly not have wanted one in this day and age. The only debate was what type of democratic election. The U.S. elite sought alternatives that empowered the other (Sunni) sections of the Iraqi population to a disproportionate extent, at the expense (necessarily) of the Shia majority. They were told NO, by Sistani who then called for a demonstration of resolve and the matter was thus decided in favour of Proportional Representation. (PR)

Chomsky’s version is a fairy tale. The world would not have tolerated the U.S. preventing Iraqi elections and everybody should have known this. The U.S. ruling-elite most assuredly did.

Iraqi girl U.S. flag

The only question was what was to be the election regulations etc.. This is why there is deliberate distortion by Chomsky because he understands that if they did not do what he thought they would do and ‘install a stable client regime’, then the outcome would be determined by the Iraqis in an election process.

Now we can ask a question again and this time hope to get a genuine answer based on what the Iraqi people think elections mean.

From the transcript;

Andy Clark: ‘Do you see them as an important milestone for Iraq?

Noam Chomsky: ‘Actually I do’.

End Transcript

Iraqi woman voter

Iraqi woman voter

Actually he does not see them as an important milestone in a genuine sense as to note the milestone properly is to take those elected seriously and to give some honour to those who have enabled their election Chomsky does neither and instead gives contempt and comfort to the enemy.

* The Iraqi election has ended the old war, irrespective of how it started and begun the new war. This war is deserving of support from all democrats, all leftists and all progressives world-wide.

• Results that Chomsky won’t notice.
(Posted at Last Superpower by Patrick Muldowney at 22/01/2006)

Of the 275 seats available from the December 15 election, the results have been announced as follows;

Shi’ites UIA Daawa & SCIRI 128

Shi’ites Risaliyun (Muqtada al-Sadr) 2

(Edited Arthur comment;  Not the only 2 seats for Sadr.  The party which won 2 seats was a faction of Sadr supporters who didn’t agree with joining in the dominant Shia islamist UIA ticket (Elites and Cadres group or some such “Life of Brian” type name). That dominant Shia ticket included candidates from SCIRI, Daawa, and Sadr supporters as well as others. A total of about 30 Sadr supporters was elected, mainly on the dominant UIA ticket.)

Whether Sadr supporters would have won more or less than the total of about 30 if they had not joined the UIA ticket cannot be determined from the fact that (some faction of them) won only 2 seats running independently. It is however highly likely that the total of 30 allocated in the ticket is a significant overestimation of their actual voting strength as an inducement to abandon their armed insurrection and rely on voting instead by joining the UIA mainstream.

Secular Kurds 53

Secular Shia al-Iraqiyah (Iyad Allawi) 25

Kurds (Sunni Islamist) 5

Sunni NAF 44

Sunni NFforND 11

Sunni, Mishaan Juburi liberal party (ex-Baathists) 3

Turkmen, oppose Shia fundamentalism (at least) 1

Christian, oppose Muslim fundamentalism. 1

Yazidi; oppose Muslim fundamentalism. 1

Mithal al-Alusi, a Western-style liberal 1

These 275 people are self evidently not U.S. puppets. This election result either destroys the theory that it was the intention of the ‘imperialist invaders’ to install puppets (to steal the oil etc., for which there is no evidence despite Chomsky’s ‘explanation’) or it firmly declares at the least that such a theoretical attempt has failed.

Legitimate Iraqi representative politicians are now in charge. This is undoubtedly a bourgeois revolutionary victory over the once all powerful Baathist tyranny. It was achieved in less than three years of struggle, and it has to be said that any other even vaguely realistic hypothetical effort to achieve the same result without a liberating invasion would have cost many more lives, and dragged on over a great many more years. And yes I know the war still goes on, but I am prepared to say right now that the strategic direction is clear. This revolution is going well.

Democratic forces can now hold political power in large areas of Iraq, and while the enemies of the Iraqi ‘peoples with purple stains on their fingers’, can still attack them with random bombings and so on, the Iraqi masses are now well armed and determined to remain on the offensive; and they continue to have very powerful allies.

Yet despite these revolutionary gains, some ‘opinion leaders’ among western political trends are prepared to call these newly elected politicians nothing but ‘collaborators with the occupation, from the point of view of the ordinary Iraqis’. (As Robert Fisk called the same representatives when they were last elected about one year ago) That is essentially what Chomsky and the Z-net types are stuck with. They will have nothing to do with the new reality. They will do their best to deny recognition to these brave politicians. They will fail to give them the due respect and support they have earned as the duly elected representatives. The Z-net types are trapped.

The western anti-war movement will have to split yet again over the issue of where too next. One section will continue to call the evident progress of this revolution ‘a quagmire’, and recommend that the U.S. ruling-elite should ignore the requests for on-going assistance and simply withdraw and leave it to the Iraqis to sort out their ‘civil-war’. Most of the remainder seeing the political dead-end, will just fall silent.

It reminds me of the behaviour of the China-line leftists in the late 1970’s. They went along en masse with the counter revolution of Deng and Co, and the nonsense that was being peddled by various CP (ML’s). When the pretense that this new direction was a continuation of the revolutionary struggle of Mao became unsustainable the people that had been taken in just drifted away. There was not much effort to say ‘I was wrong’. The actual result was rejection of the political tendency that had been proven correct, as well as that tendency which had led them into a dead end.

The current ‘peace’ campaigners; greens; liberals; conservatives; and ‘leftists’, will be objectively behaving as outright racists if they refuse assistance to the Iraqi People now. None of these tendencies belly-ached about their own government’s offering police and other military assistance to authorities in other countries such as Spain when they were dealing with mass-murdering bombers, or with the authorities in Bali; or London; or New York and so forth. Why would they reject the appeals of the Iraqi political leadership for assistance now?

Consider what a national unity government means.

“The UIA and the Kurds could form a government but in this period we have no interest in doing this and are leaning more towards a national unity government,” says Hoshyar Zebari, Iraq’s foreign minister.

As we saw with the negotiations over the Iraq Constitution; and the three months of negotiations to form the interim government elected last January this latest series of negotiations will go on for quite some time, and no doubt some seemingly peculiar compromise solutions will be worked out.

However, even though numerous issues have already been worked through with the formation of the interim government a year ago it is always possible that we could be surprised, and also that longer rather than shorter, negotiations are to be expected. In the end however, I don’t doubt that a national unity government will be formed even if some of the smaller political forces decide to remain outside of it.

These historic negotiations are intended to establish a country that has never before existed. A country where the majority of the population is no longer ruled by an ethnically privileged 20%. That 20% has some adjusting to do and they are not in a strong negotiating position. Those who can’t make enough of an adjustment will remain at war with the vast majority, but that is up to them, because I would be willing to wager that an inclusive democracy with ample power sharing; religious tolerance; and economic guarantees regarding proportional shares of the country’s oil wealth is on offer.

It would not make sense for the 80% to fail to protect the proportional interests of the 20%, because there is really nothing in it for them, as compared to the advantages of ‘living the good life’ in a rapidly developing peaceful and united Iraq.

Just as the U.S. could never steal the oil resources and did not go to war for oil, neither does it make any sense for the Kurds, and the Shia to try and take down the Arab Sunni people’s from their rightful share of the growing wealth. It is far easier to keep making a larger pie to share, than to fight over crumbs from a much smaller static pie. Peace will bring an enormous economic opportunity.

Insurgents will not improve their negotiating position with more time, and their opponents are definitely not going to send the large military ally home while those groups remain at war. Until such a time as the new Iraqi armed forces are massively more powerful than the insurgents, about the best that the ‘nationalist’ insurgency can face save for, (because this war really is lost) is a plan for a method to establish a time-table for the occupation troops to go home, or some such gobbledygook wording, because they will not be given a firm time-table. All this is on offer now so I would guess that most will grab it with both hands.

What ‘guarantees’ are to be given in terms of stopping military actions against both the government and Coalition forces and providing protection to economic assets as a result of inclusion in the government are the big issues. How is delivery of the guarantees to be measured? Cease-fires have to show up statistically. Areas have to go quiet, casualties have to fall, and discipline has to be enforced by the locals first.

The Government sending the Coalition home only arises in the context of having substantially built up the national armed-forces, and demonstrable demobilization of the insurgency. The Government must become far more powerful. These are hard-nosed negotiators requiring more than just promises of future peaceful behavior. There will have to be measured steps, on both sides, as the fighting reduces but inevitably goes on. This messy latter stage part of draining the Iraqi swamp can only be run by the locals.

The first of the steps, required of those entering the political process is the total isolation of the Al Qaeda type Jihadis, this is the bottom line starting point to the new negotiations.

The nationalist insurgents are now clearly drawn into politics, and thus separated from and fighting against these ‘enemies of all’. The huge bulk of the elected politicians will be obliged as evidence of their sincerity to publicly denounce the latter types as ‘enemies of all Iraqis’, and to make reasonable efforts to stand-down the former nationalist insurgents that have an honorable peace process before them. All are obliged into giving due allegiance to the national armed-forces and police-force, in due deference to not just majority rule but a substantially consensus rule.

Incidentally, the vote this time seems to me to be a good base for a rise in the secular vote in four years time as a big growth in young voters continues and more people drift away from religious style political representation under the influence of a vibrant mass-media as now exists in Iraq. If secularist politicians perform well they have every reason to be optimistic. After all, Iraqi politics has now opened up and progressives not only have a place at the table, but an electorate to win. They have space, time and enough people so could need little else to make good progress with this revolution.

But to get a flavour of what the anti-war luminaries make of the same developments see Juan Cole; Bay Area Indymedia

 

For a more up to date picture of Iraqi politics  “The Security Council reiterates that no terrorist act can reverse the path towards peace, democracy and reconstruction in Iraq, which is supported by the people and the Government of Iraq, and by the international community.” See here for more UN Security Council statements on current situation faced in Iraq

Syria is Charlie Hebdo without the world’s focus

French cartoonists aren’t the only one’s having problems with Islamo-fascists. Cartoonist and anti-Assad activist, Raed Fares is finding it difficult to stay away from the ‘justice’ of thugs when he is in Kafranbel, a town in Syria’s Idlib province. He narrowly survived a shower of bullets on Jan. 28th 2014 after leaving his office around midnight to travel home. His car and the brick wall close by were reportedly riddled with bullets luckily most missed and he survived after being shot twice in the back.

Meanwhile, a year later on January 17th 2015 Jabhat al-Nusra (JAN) soldiers behaved like thugs when they occupied the community offices of the Mazaya women’s centre in response to a wild rumour. It’s a training centre for tailors, hairdressers and nurses, which also houses a Free Syria radio station and office for a publication. Workers and activists were beaten and forced to leave and threatened with beheading if any returned. A pregnant woman was beaten and there were fears for the unborn child but thankfully mother and child have stabilised.

This cowardly attack was prompted by nothing more than false rumours that the publication of ‘mocking and insulting pictures of the Prophet Mohammad’ was ‘imminent’. So it appears that wild and false rumours are all that is needed to disrupt national coalition processes and have these bullies invade the women’s space, where they were uninvited by the unveiled women and where they then beat them and abused them further calling them whores. These thugs were REALLY ‘mocking and insulting’ their own code.

Although real free speech allows for the right to offend, and say what others do not want to hear – in this case in Syria building a united front requires that this not occur just as it requires that atheists have the right to exist and promote their beliefs. Offending each other is not productive and serves the enemy whatever that enemy believes about the after life.

JAN occupiers have now withdrawn from the offices and JAN officials have claimed that the incident was unauthorised and that they will rectify this error.

Banners from Kafranbel have consistently caught the attention of English readers since the outbreak of the fighting in Syria now roughly 4 years ago, and with a death toll over 200,000. It is difficult to concisely convey messages especially in a second language but the Kafranbel activists have poignantly portrayed the demands and hardships of life in Syria and their humour and courage seems to know no limits. It appears that JAN is the only authority at present in Kafranbel as it was necessary to lodge a complaint against these crimes with JAN itself.

Some examples of messages from Kafranbel.
Syria inactivity

to die on the feet Syria

Obama waits people die

For further examples

For background Raed Fares and Kafranbel activists

Al-Qaeda challenges Islamic State with Paris attack

An early summary prior to the death of the perpetrators.(And escape to Syria by the wife of Coulibaly – Hayat Bemoudienne)

From Al Monitor

Summary Al-Qaeda’s deadly terror attack in Paris may have been an attempt to restate its relevance and effectiveness in its global jihadist struggle with the Islamic State.

by Antoun Issa Posted January 8, 2015

The deadly attack at the offices of Charlie Hebdo in Paris was the realization of a long-expected nightmare — a planned homegrown terrorist attack. The two prime suspects, brothers Said and Cherif Kouachi, are French-born Muslims of North African descent. The brothers allegedly went on a killing spree that claimed 12 lives, while a third, 18-year-old Hamyd Mourad, provided the getaway car. Mourad, who has been unemployed and according to reports homeless, has since surrendered, while the brothers, at time of writing, remain at large, having reportedly robbed a service station in the north of France.

From the information available, it seems clear the Paris attack was well-planned and executed by an established terror network, or sleeper cell. The two men were well-armed with Kalashnikovs, carried out a military-style assassination of its prime target, the editor-in-chief of Charlie Hebdo, Stephane Charbonnier, and had devised an exit strategy that has so far succeeded in evading French police. Seven people connected to the suspects have already been arrested, suggesting a wider network could have helped facilitate the attack.

This differs substantially from the Sydney cafe siege in December, which was the action of a single man who, despite his professed radical Islamist leanings, appeared to be mentally unstable. According to eyewitnesses, the French brothers claimed to be members of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), which has for years maintained a foothold in parts of Yemen. Charbonnier was publicly identified as an assassination target by al-Qaeda in 2013.

This, thus, dispels early suspicions on Twitter that the attack might have been a spontaneous response by supporters of the Islamic State (IS) after Charlie Hebdo published a cartoon yesterday of IS caliph Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. This would be extremely unlikely, given that al-Qaeda’s core in Afghanistan would prefer nothing more than the elimination of its jihadist archenemy Baghdadi. Indeed, there is a strong possibility that the Paris attack might be more about IS than fighting a holy war against the West.

Al-Qaeda and IS have been engaged in a fierce competition for primacy in the jihadist world since al-Qaeda disavowed IS in February 2014. The result has been an ongoing bloody war between IS and al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria, Jabhat al-Nusra. Since IS’ spectacular offensive in Iraq and Syria last summer, al-Qaeda has been on its back foot playing catch-up as IS steals the world headlines. The main jihadist movement suddenly found itself in second place while IS was drawing the scorn of the West and winning the praise of would-be jihadists.

Jabhat al-Nusra was becoming increasingly concerned that IS’ new fame made it a more attractive destination for new recruits, and thus countered IS’ caliphate with its own declaration of an Islamic emirate in Syria’s northern Idlib province in November. Additionally, there have been reports of splinters in al-Qaeda franchises and defections to IS, most notably in North Africa.

The rise of IS has placed significant pressure on al-Qaeda to respond to demonstrate its relevance and effectiveness in the jihadist world. There is no better way to demonstrate to would-be jihadists worldwide that al-Qaeda is still the don at the table than a terrorist attack in a major Western city. Indeed, the United States has been on alert for such a headline-grabbing attack by al-Qaeda for some time, given its repeated strikes on the al-Qaeda-linked Khorasan group in Syria, which US officials said was planning attacks in the West similar to the Charlie Hebdo raid.

By killing a dozen in Paris, al-Qaeda is throwing down the gauntlet to IS. Of the two, only al-Qaeda can claim to have carried out terrorist attacks in the West, since IS has confined its operations thus far to the Middle East and to contiguous territorial expansion. Despite the jihadist glamour of IS’ caliphate, the ability to carry out major attacks in the West remains a drawing card for al-Qaeda. The frightful question is whether IS will respond to al-Qaeda’s challenge and seek its own headlines with a terror attack in the West.

Until now, there have been few indications that IS was planning to expand its operations beyond the areas where it maintains a physical presence. Unlike al-Qaeda, it has not sought a global franchise network to destabilize the international system, but rather sought to consolidate territory to replicate a nation-state model, and thus conform to the international system. Out of the dozens of small grassroots jihadist factions pledging allegiance to Baghdadi, IS has only endorsed one such pledge outside of Iraq and Syria — Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis in the Sinai Peninsula.

According to Al-Monitor, IS enlisted Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis — renamed Wilayat Sinai — precisely to carry out terror attacks against Western targets in Egypt in retaliation for the US-led airstrikes against the group in Iraq and Syria. This threat, which was reportedly conveyed by Israeli intelligence, prompted the closure of the British and Canadian embassies in Cairo in December. But there appears little information to demonstrate — or at least there has been nothing disclosed by Western intelligence agencies — that IS is planning revenge attacks in the West.

But IS’ calculations may change following the successful terror operation in Paris by its rival in al-Qaeda. Should IS choose to match al-Qaeda’s terror prowess, the West could be facing more regular terror attacks. Such a feat wouldn’t be insurmountable for IS, given the thousands of Western jihadists fighting in its ranks, and the thousands more who discreetly support it in Western cities.

As demonstrated by the Paris attack, the fear now is not whether al-Qaeda and IS can establish sleeper cells in Western cities, but how many and in which cities, and whether the West becomes a new battleground for the growing jihadist feud.

Who Failed the Test of #JeSuisCharlie?

As I repost this article the terrorists are no longer at large but have been killed after taking hostages at a commercial Printer on the outskirts of Paris.

From Not George Sabra.

Which side are you on?

It’s the most basic question in politics.

After three Al-Qaeda gunmen burst into the editorial board meeting of Charlie Hebdo magazine and executed six of its staffers as well as two policemen guarding them, figuring out which side to take could not be any easier. Cartoonists the world over took up their pens to slam terrorism and masked murderers while the French people poured into the streets with signs proclaiming” we are not afraid” and “we are all Charlie.”

This spontaneous and unmistakably progressive reaction is worlds away from the Islamophobic ‘Draw Muhammad Day’ campaign that erupted in response to Comedy Central censoring an episode of South Park in 2010. When someone ripped a Qu’ran at one of the Paris demonstrations, the crowd turned ugly and booed the provocation, a clear sign that the incendiary polarization strategy Al-Qaeda was counting on to gain recruits and prestige among Western Muslims has failed miserably. Others exploited the popularity of the #JeSuisCharlie hashtag on social media by promoting an alternative hashtag, #JeSuisAhmed, referring to the French Muslim policeman who gave his life defending a magazine that mercilessly mocked Islam.
And yet there were a few who refused to join the broad masses in their mourning, outrage, and solidarity, who failed the test of the Charlie Hebdo massacre. They opted for victim blaming or exploited the tragedy to push their political hobby-horses.

Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League, openly blamed Charlie Hebdo editor-in-chief Stephane Charbonnier for his own death, writing “had he not been so narcissistic, he may still be alive.”

Stop the War Coalition leader Lindsey German argued, “The one effective response to such attacks would be to change foreign policy, which has helped to create precisely the terrorism that it now abhors.” In the Lindsey German universe, France helped U.S. president George W. Bush invade and occupy Iraq and should have never, ever done so! Or perhaps she is arguing that France should change its foreign policy of avoiding unjust and unnecessary wars waged on false pretexts?

Patrick Cockburn writing in the Independent responded by arguing that making peace with Bashar al-Assad — a murderous tyrant who sponsored, fostered, and funneled Al-Qaeda into Iraq during the American occupation — would help tamp down terrorism, somehow, some way. Cockburn is becoming more Fisk-like with every new article.

Ali Abuminah, co-founder of Electronic Intifada, echoed Bill Donohue’s victim-blaming in the Tweet below (apparently in his view Al-Qaeda is an anti-racist organization or attracts anti-racists).ali

In a blogpost republished on the wretched Jacobin, Richard Seymour managed to write something that brings to mind the old adage “better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and to remove all doubt.” First, he questioned the use of the term terrorism in what was unquestionably a terrorist attack. Second, he decried the “enormous pressure” to stand in “solidarity with what is frankly a racist publication” and predicted an “inevitable statist backlash against Muslims, or the ideological charge to defend a fetishized, racialized ‘secularism,’ or concede to the blackmail which forces us into solidarity with a racist institution.” When he got the intense internet blowback that this nonsense deserved, he defensively posted a Charlie Hebdo cartoon as an example of the publication’s racism. He claimed the drawing was about the “Muslamic demographic threat” (a favorite topic of Islamophobes) when it was actually mocking the indignation of the privileged and well-off in France who decried the government’s decision to end benefits for children of the rich, thereby revealing the author’s ignorance and zeal for self-justification.

Mixing up two unrelated issues — Boko Haram’s sex slaves and budget cuts aiming at the 1% in France, using the suffering of the former to ridicule the latter — is one of Charlie Hebdo’s signature methods of being obnoxious, controversial, offensive, and yes, racist. But dwelling on the reactionary aspects of the trash Charlie Hebdo published in the context of today’s political moment does the following:

Enables victim-blaming (he/they ‘deserved’ it).

Ignores how the broad masses have rushed to the defense of Charlie Hebdo without embracing its reactionary aspects or falling into jingoism, racism, or militarism. Their reaction has isolated and minimized the retaliatory violence directed at Muslims and Arabs in France to the political fringes.

Most dangerously, it distracts from the main enemy here — Al Qaeda and its cousin, ISIS.

The three killers are still on the loose in France, wreaking havoc and taking hostages and no amount of useless bleating from (pseudo) left ideologues that Al-Qaeda’s assassination of Charlie Hebdo’s staff is the “bitter fruit of racism and imperialism” is going to stop or slow their crime spree in France, Yemen, Iraq, or Syria.

France’s Left Front (Front de gauche) led by Jean-Luc Mélenchon got it exactly right by calling for “respond[ing] with more democracy, more fraternity and tolerance” and for unity among all democrats (which means excluding the likes of the National Front). Almost one year after ISIS nearly assassinated the Syrian revolution’s top cartoonist, Raed Fares, that is exactly what is needed in France, Syria, Yemen, and everywhere else, both within and between all nations.

After jihadist arrests, Australian mufti rejects IS fatwa

Some Muslim voices have strongly rejected recent fatwas [issued by the Islamic State (IS)] that call for the killing of citizens [whose countries are] participating in the international coalition against IS.

Author Faraj Obegi Posted September 25, 2014
Translator(s)Pascale el Khoury

Australia’s grand mufti, Ibrahim Abu Mohamed, commented on these fatwas, telling An-Nahar, “Assaults on human freedom and dignity and killing are not accepted or advocated by any humanitarian law. One shall not incite to shed the blood of others and prejudice their honor.” Abu Mohamed rejected violence, counterviolence and any act of violence that may come from individuals, groups or states, saying, “Violence is unacceptable in all its forms and people should live in safety.”

He called on the international community to distinguish between groups demanding their own freedom and those spilling the blood of innocents. He said, “There are groups facing tyranny and subject to practices that prevent them from living freely and expressing their beliefs, and there are other groups who are shedding the blood of people and prejudicing their honor in the name of Islam.”

He added, “I call on people in Australia to remain calm, to act rationally and not based on their instincts and steer clear of escalation. Love should prevail over hatred. Here, we enjoy complete freedom and we must not lose this privilege as a result of calls for actions and reactions.”

He said that Australian society does not discriminate between Muslims and Christians and that everyone wants to live in peace without being disrupted by any foreign provocations. “We do not want any foreign conflict to be transferred to Australia, and we support the measures undertaken by the Australian authorities to prevent any attack in the country. However, this must be done within the framework of the law. The law must not be violated in such a way that worsens the situation and leads to an unwanted reaction.”

Answering a question about the arrests in Australia and whether they were directed against Islam, he said, “The Muslim community in Australia accounts for half a million people and the recent arrests targeted 15 houses. One person was indicted and investigations are still ongoing. These arrests are not directed against Islam but against terrorist groups seeking to undermine Australian security.”

Commenting on the incident that took place at the Maronite College in Harris Park in Sydney, he said: “It is totally unacceptable. It does not only affect Christians, but we are also subject to such behaviors. This incident may be isolated, but we condemn all forms of such behaviors. I met today with some Christian officials and we discussed our problems and concerns regarding the current situation.”

Abu Mohamed called on the international community to deal with current world events with one standard — the standard of justice. He said, “There should be no dual standard in dealing with these sensitive issues, since this could lead to irrational insurgencies. I hope the international community will think sensibly and handle the ongoing events according to the standard of truth.” He said that whoever financed, trained and armed IS must answer these questions with full transparency.

The grand mufti sent a message to those who called for the killing of Australians, saying: “Go back to your senses. This is not preached by Islam. If you want to commit massacres, do not do so in the name of Islam and do not speak on behalf of Islam.”

Read more: http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/security/2014/09/mufti-australia-response-is-fatwa-kill-citizens-coalition.html?utm_source=Al-Monitor+Newsletter+%5BEnglish%5D&utm_campaign=767e4a06f2-September_26_2014&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_28264b27a0-767e4a06f2-93145129##ixzz3EfGV7cql

PKK commander threatens to resume war

Cemil Bayik, the PKK’s top field commander, is interviewed by Al-Monitor in the Kandil Mountains, September 2014. (photo by Amberin Zaman)

Exclusive: From

On Sept. 24, the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) issued a highly critical statement. In a nutshell, it said that Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) had “eliminated” the conditions of a mutually observed 18-month cease-fire between the PKK and the Turkish army. It said that, in response to “the AKP’s war against our people, our leadership council has decided to step up its struggle in every area and by all possible means.” I had heard similar words on Sept. 21 from Cemil Bayik, the top PKK commander in the field, during a three-hour meeting I had with him in a tent in the Kandil Mountains.

In an exclusive interview, the Kurdistan Workers Party’s (PKK) top military commander, Cemil Bayik, says that Turkey has sabotaged the peace process and the PKK is ready to resume open conflict.
Author Amberin Zaman Posted September 25, 2014

“We may resume our war at the end of September. We have the authority to resume the war,” Bayik said.

“What of the PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan?” I asked.

“We have a division of labor. Our leader has the authority to make peace,” he replied.

I couldn’t believe my ears. “Are you sure?” I asked repeatedly, because his words could have profound consequences for Turkey and its government.

Bayik responded positively: “We will be making a statement to this effect,” he said.

I thus decided to wait for the PKK to make its statement before publishing this interview. I did not want to be the first to impart the gloomy news. Because in the repressive climate that is gripping Turkey, I might have been accused of warmongering. So, is there a real risk that the insurgency will resume? Won’t Ocalan have the final say? Is the PKK’s statement no more than a tactical move aimed at putting pressure on the government? I would say yes to both questions. That said, with every passing day that the AKP government fails to take concrete steps to solve the Kurdish problem, the risk of the cease-fire’s ending grows. I raised all of these issues with Bayik, who hasn’t set foot in Turkey since 2000.

The following are the highlights of the interview he gave to Al-Monitor:

Al-Monitor: How is the Islamic State [IS] onslaught against Kobani [the Syrian Kurdish-majority town of Ayn al-Arab on the Turkish border] affecting the peace process in Turkey?

Bayik: The attacks by Daesh [the initials of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham] against Kobani helped elucidate two things. One was whether Turkey’s collaboration with Daesh is continuing or not. The other is whether the peace process is continuing in the north [i.e., Turkey] or not. What emerged is that Turkey is continuing its relations with Daesh and that Turkey will not solve the Kurdish problem in the north. Because a Turkey that supports Daesh’s attacks against Kobani, that seeks to depopulate Kobani and lobbies for the establishment of a buffer zone cannot sever its ties with Daesh. Because if it did so Daesh would expose all of Turkey’s dirty laundry, and document the links between them.

Al-Monitor: Are you able to prove that these links exist?

Bayik: Before Daesh attacked Kobani, Turkish officials contacted the YPG [the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units] official responsible for Kobani. They warned him that should the YPG attack the Shah tomb [the Ottoman Tomb of Suleiman Shah inside Syria, which is guarded by Turkish troops and considered Turkish territory] that Turkey would retaliate in kind. I repeat, they said this before we were aware that Daesh would attack. Isn’t this strange?

Second, two days after the campaign against Kobani started, a Turkish train stopped at an Arab village near [the IS-controlled] Tell Abyad border gate and unloaded weapons and ammunition that were taken by Daesh. There are eyewitnesses to this transfer. And during this period the [Turkish] hostages [held by IS in Mosul] affair is supposedly resolved. These events are all interlinked. Turkey then opens the Mursitpinar border gate with Kobani just as Daesh fires Katyusha rockets at Kobani and surrounding villages to sow panic among the people. Turkey opens the border gate on the third day of the attack so that the people can flee to Turkey. This is what Daesh wants as well. This proves the collusion between them. Because Turkey has long wanted the establishment of a buffer zone. Its aim is to prevent the Kurds in Rojava [Syrian Kurdish areas in western Kurdistan] from winning a formal status. By emptying Kobani and provoking a mass exodus of people, Turkey can then claim before the international community that its own security is at stake and set about establishing a buffer zone.

Al-Monitor: Very senior Iraqi Kurdish officials told me that Hakan Fidan, the head of Turkey’s national spy agency [MIT], had as recently as last week offered to mediate between the Kurdistan Regional Government President Massoud Barzani’s Kurdistan Democratic Party [KDP] and the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party [PYD]. Doesn’t this contradict your claims?

Bayik: Not at all. Turkey always supported the KDP against the PYD. Now they [the Turks] are supposedly trying to drive a wedge between the PKK and the PYD and to draw the PYD into an alliance with groups that are close to [the Turks] and to bring them in line with their own [Turks’] Syria policy. There are thousands of Syrian Kurds within the PKK. During the war [against Turkey] 1,500 Syrian Kurds were martyred. Many Syrian Kurd commanders from the PKK went over to Rojava to train YPG forces and to help them in the fight against Daesh. Such matters do not always work the way Turkey intends them to through money and weapons. And there is no friction between the YPG and the PKK as claimed. They are acting together in the south [Iraqi Kurdistan] in Kirkuk, in Shengal, in Rabiya. The only force to defend Rojava is the PKK.

Al-Monitor: IS has some very modern weapons. Aren’t you having trouble combating them?

Bayik: Yes, they have modern American weapons they seized in Mosul. Our own weapons aren’t effective against the American tanks that they use. Besides, we are used to fighting in mountainous terrain and now we are forced to do so in open plains. But we are a movement that adapts quickly to new circumstances.

Al-Monitor: Getting back to the peace process, you say that you have realized that the AKP will not solve the Kurdish problem

Bayik: We realized this a while back. There is tremendous pressure on our leader [Ocalan] and a very ugly psychological war that is being waged against him. Propaganda is being spread to demean him in the eyes of the people.

Al-Monitor: To the contrary, what we see is that Ocalan has been legitimized before the public as never before.

Bayik: You may not see this, but there are those who know and it’s reached all the way to us. I am telling you openly: Turkey must immediately stop these psychological ops tactics and end its pressure on our leader.

Al-Monitor: Can you be more explicit. What kind of pressure?

Bayik: I do not want to share all the details. It may not be appropriate at this time. But there is no improvement in the internment conditions of our leader. Recently, his sister and nephew visited him and they were put in a room where nobody could breathe. The nephew protested to the prison guards, saying they were aware of our leader’s breathing difficulties. Their response was that they would have to meet there and that was all. Moreover, they forced the meeting to end before the allotted time. The new government is trying to force our leader to roll back his demands by applying pressure on him. This applies especially to the negotiating points. But as they know he won’t back down, they are going to use this as an excuse to set the stage for war.

Al-Monitor: Are you saying that Turkey wants to resume the war?

Bayik: Absolutely. If this were not so, they would have worked harder at solving the problem. They would have improved the internment conditions of our leader. They would have accepted the presence of third-party observers in the peace talks. And they would have allowed the negotiating sides to carry equal weight. All they have done is to pass a bill to “end terrorism” in the parliament [legislation that effectively formalized the talks without actually referring to their substance]. And they did so kicking and screaming. We are concerned with actions, not words. The negotiations have still not started. They want to keep the talks on a dialogue level. They want to deceive our people. We have been in dialogue for years. We went back and forth to Oslo for years [the secret Oslo talks that ended in 2009].

Al-Monitor: Did you go to Oslo?

Bayik: No.

Al-Monitor: Have you had contact with any Turkish officials over the phone?

Bayik: No. I haven’t touched a phone since 2003 for personal security reasons.

Al-Monitor: During the presidential campaign of [the left-wing People’s Democracy Party (HDP) Kurdish candidate] Selahattin Demirtas the Kurdish political movement gained a lot of ground. Demirtas won support from most unexpected quarters. By talking in this manner, aren’t you undermining peaceful politics?

Bayik: As we are at the center of this process, if we say there is no progress in the peace progress, that means there is no progress because there is no one better placed to assess this. We have paid a very heavy price during 40 years of conflict. Thousands of our fighters and cadres were martyred. Thousand of Kurdish villages were burned and destroyed. Thousands of our people fell victim to extrajudicial killings. And now we see that the numbers of village guards [a state-paid anti-PKK Kurdish militia] are growing. Army garrisons are being built, together with supply roads. We are sticking to the cease-fire but they are not. And they took advantage of the cease-fire to launch a war against Rojava. We gave them time. We said they had until the end of September to take certain steps. We said that unless they do so by the end of September the war would resume.

Al-Monitor: Did you say “we will resume” or “may resume”?

Bayik: “May resume.”

Al-Monitor: But don’t you need Ocalan’s authorization for this?

Bayik: We decide on war. The authority to end the cease-fire lies with us. But our leader Apo [as Ocalan is often called by his followers] decides on peace, on the continuation of the peace process. His role is different from ours. We are complementary.

Al-Monitor: But if Apo says peace must prevail, you won’t be able to decide on war. Thus, the final decision rests with Apo.

Bayik: Ocalan is our leader. We are a movement that obeys its leader. We are loyal to our leader. But unless Turkey takes some steps, how can our leader say, “No, do not fight?” We are having trouble restraining our fighters as it is.

Al-Monitor: What are your demands from Turkey?

Bayik: The internment conditions of our leader need to be improved. We cannot negotiate in his present conditions. Third-party observers must be allowed to take part in the negotiations. They can be from civil society, from the parliament or from an international organization. It can also be a foreign power. And the support being given to Daesh against Rojava must end. Rojava is part of the peace process. This is clear.

Al-Monitor: Just as you have won plaudits for your role in helping the Yazidis in Sinjar and for your prowess in combating IS, and just as the international community is debating delisting the PKK and American cooperation with the YPG, would you not be throwing this all away by attacking Turkey, a NATO member?

Bayik: No. We are a legal movement. And nobody can blame the PKK. Until now we have declared nine unilateral cease-fires since 1993. In 2013, on the occasion of Nowruz [the Kurdish New Year], we freed all our prisoners. We ended the war and began to withdraw our fighters from Turkey. We are not eyeing anyone’s territory. We are not seeking independence. All we want is to live freely with our own identity, culture and values in democratic conditions.

Al-Monitor: But is it not risky to open a second front against Turkey when you are fighting IS in Rojava?

Bayik: We have been fighting for 40 years. If need be, we shall fight for many more years. We are fighting because we are being forced to do so. We are not going to surrender after 40 years. No power can implement its strategies in the Middle East without taking the PKK into account.

Al-Monitor: You speak of democracy but in recent days a group that calls itself the PKK’s youth wing has been burning down schools in the southeast of Turkey. Do such actions have any place in a democracy?

Bayik: Burning schools is wrong. But our people built schools there with their own means. They want to study in the Kurdish language, so why is the state forbidding this? There is a great deal of anger among our youth. Even we are having trouble restraining them. When we ask them why they burn schools, they respond, “Why are our schools being shut down?” There is a lot of alienation. The number of people joining our ranks last month has exceeded that in 1993. In 1993, around 1,000 people would join every month. Last month, 1,200 people joined.

Al-Monitor: The Turkish government spokesman Huseyin Celik said that we can now talk with Kandil [the PKK leadership]. No sooner did Ahmet Davutoglu become prime minister, he made very positive statements about the peace process. For the first time, a government is talking directly to Ocalan and announcing this to the public. It has done more than any of its predecessors to solve the Kurdish problem. Does none of this mean anything? Besides, why would the government want to go to war before the elections?

Bayik: Yes, the government continues to speak positively about the peace process. And the pro-government media is helping to propagate this upbeat mood. This is a delaying tactic, a deception. They are trying to portray Apo as being optimistic when in fact he continually criticizes the AKP during the talks. They want to drain the process of all its substance and they want to manage it at their whim. What was their aim? To win the [March 2014] local elections and then the [August 2014] presidential elections. And now they want to win the 2015 [parliamentary] elections.

It’s true that they would not want to resume the war before the elections. They want the cease-fire to continue, but they want it to continue without making any concessions, save for a few unimportant gestures. After the 2015 elections, their position may change.
Amberin Zaman
Columnist

Amberin Zaman is an Istanbul-based writer who has covered Turkey for The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, The Daily Telegraph and the Voice of America. A frequent commentator on Turkish television, she is currently Turkey correspondent for The Economist, a position she has retained since 1999. On Twitter: @amberinzaman
Original Al-Monitor Translations
Türkçe okuyun

Read more: http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2014/09/turkey-pkk-commander-bayik-threatens-resume-war.html#ixzz3Ef8umk6J

The ISO on Stalin A Critique by David McMullen

First published in Red Politics (A journal for the discussion of revolutionary ideas) No.1 Sept. 1993
From Lastsuperpower

In keeping with Strange Times’ policy of bucketing nonsense from the pseudo left, this issue is devoted to examining a central dogma of the International Socialist Organisation,(ISO) namely that relating to Stalin’s Russia. While the discussion does have a wider relevance to the extent that it relates to the whole issue of what went right and wrong in the Soviet Union and the nature of socialist revolution, the primary aim is simply to show once again how the ISO is not up to scratch in the ideas department.

When you first start reading stuff by the ISO (or the Socialist Workers Party in Britain) on the Soviet Union of the 1920s and 30s you feel there must be something you’ve missed, that the apparent stupidity has to be deceptive. However, it does not take long to realise that no deception is involved. It really is genuinely silly. The silliness can be divided into two categories – those they share with other trotskyite groups and those which are uniquely their own.

What they share with other trots is the habit of holding two mutually exclusive views at the same time. They claim in the same breath that Stalin betrayed the Russian revolution and that socialism in Russia in the absence of a revolution in Europe was impossible. They pull a similar stunt with Stalin’s foreign policy.

On the one hand they claim that Stalin let revolution abroad go hang and geared his foreign policy to the narrow priority of preserving (and expanding) his own regime. On the other hand they admit that after about 1922, revolution in the capitalist countries was no longer an issue – capitalism had stabilised. In other words by the time Stalin came to power there was no longer a revolution abroad for him to sabotage or neglect.

Underlying all this muddle is the fact that the main problem for trotskyites is their distaste for the situation the Soviet Union found itself in rather than Stalin’s program for dealing with it. This is manifested in the fact that they had no alternative except heroically launching forth to support some non-existent revolution in Europe. They were not prepared to accept as socialist or progressive the measures necessary to ensure economic and social development in Russia.

It also shows up in the fact they can’t quite sort out whether they are claiming that Stalin was the cause of the degeneration or whether he was simply a response to conditions that shouldn’t have been – reality was unfair!

Quite often Stalin is denounced for doing what was obviously necessary given the conditions. Like a child throwing a tantrum, they denounce reality for being wrong;it shouldn’t have been like that. The following quote is a classic example of this. (It is taken from an article by Binns in Education and the Modern World, Socialist Workers Party, London 1987, page 14.)

“The extreme backwardness of Russia in an age of imperialism forced it to industrialise rapidly. If the revolutions in Germany and elsewhere had succeeded in the early 1920s, plenty of means of production and skilled labour could have flowed into Russia [?!] to accomplish this task. But when the perspective changed, from stressing the need to spread the revolution internationally to stressing the building of ‘socialism’ in a single country, as was proposed by Stalin in 1924, the situation was completely reversed. If industrialisation was to take place in Russia in isolation, this could only be by forcing many of these peasants off the land into the mines and steel mills.”

Notice how a change in reality – the defeat of the revolution in Europe – is transformed into a devilish change of perspective by Stalin!

Where the ISO differs from other trotskyite groups is in their characterisation of the Stalin regime as state capitalist rather than as a ‘deformed workers state’. The post-Stalin regimes are similarly characterised because they were seen as a straight continuation of the earlier regime in all essential respects. According to the ISO the Soviet Union was capitalist under Stalin because the aim of production was accumulation and this is what distinguishes capitalism from socialism or communism. Under the latter on the other hand production is to meet people’s needs.

Binns explains why capitalists accumulate as follows:

“The drive for accumulation as a means to still greater accumulation, which is the essence of capitalism, is due to two main factors. Firstly, workers are separated from the means of production. If they controlled production as a whole, it would be subordinated to use, to consumption. In so far as they decided to accumulate, it would only be as a means for the further end of consumption. Secondly, there is competition between the capitalists. Without it each capitalist could decide freely whether to consume the surplus products, to accumulate it, or even to return it to the workers who created it. It is competition which makes him accumulate and it does so by threatening him with extinction by rival capitalists if he doesn’t. That is why ‘competition makes the imminent laws of capitalist production to be felt by each individual capitalist, as external coercive laws’ [Marx in Capital, volume 1].”

This is not bad as an explanation of why there is accumulation for its own sake under capitalism. However, the attempt by Binns and his confreres to characterise the crash industrialisation of the 1930s in Russia as capitalist accumulation is misconceived.

They make their case on the basis that the two conditions applied: workers were separated from the means of production and competition still existed through military or strategic competition with the West. Let’s examine these in turn.

Binns tells us that Stalin took away workers control over the means of production. “The last remnants of workers’ control over production, the ‘Troika’, was abolished in 1929. In its place stepped the manager whose orders were to be unconditionally binding on his subordinate administrative staff and on all workers.”

The first point to make here is that even if you had all the troikas and workers’ councils that your heart desired worker appropriation of the means of production is always going to be very limited during the early phases of socialism, particularly in an economically backward country. Appropriation is not essentially a question of establishing a set of formal institutions. Rather it is bound up with the abolition of the division of labour which is a process requiring an entire historical epoch.

For the individual worker a prerequisite for work being a controlling rather than controlled experience is the acquisition of the higher skills and abilities associated with organisation, communication and design. This would only be fully achieved with the transition from socialism to communism.

In the Russia of the 1920s and 30s when the average worker was an illiterate ex-peasant, it was unavoidable that production was run by a caste of engineers and managers. In fact because of this backwardness, production organisation would in some respects need to be more hierarchical than it is in present day capitalist industry.

You can argue about whether Stalin could have taken things further, however, the extent of repossession would still be severely limited.

Now how does Binns show that the crash industrialisation of the 1930s was driven by capitalist accumulation? While the forms of competition we generally associate with the drive to accumulate are absent there is a new form – strategic or military competition with the West.

“The bureaucracy’s monopoly of foreign trade enabled it to seal off Russia from price competition. But strategic and military competition completely dominated the process of capital formation in Russia from the moment accumulation became the bureaucracy’s central concern in 1928. From the beginning of the Five-Year Plans armaments dominated the accumulation process. For instance in machine-building plants, which are probably the best gauge of the development of accumulation, already by 1932 munitions plants accounted for as much as 46 per cent of the total iron and steel consumed. By 1938 this figure had risen to a staggering 94 per cent, and virtually all other machinery plant construction had ceased. Accumulation in the period before the outbreak of the Second World War, in 1939, was dominated by strategic and military competition with the Western nations.”

The remark about ‘price competition’ is muddled. In the home market the Soviet government sealed off all competition, price or non-price. As for exports, the kind and level of competition faced would vary with the market conditions for each good and this was beyond the control of the Soviet government.

This notion of military or strategic competition being a form of capitalist competition is mumbo-jumbo. It is market competition that underlies capitalist accumulation – the protection of the exchange value of capital in the face of the threat from competing capitals. We are not talking about any old competition – for example, there has been military competition throughout history but it was not capitalist competition.

Certainly military power can be used to defend or expand a country’s markets and to destroy the market power of others. However, in this role it is a weapon or adjunct of capitalist competition but not the thing itself.

So given that the only field where the Soviet economy was in competition was in its export markets, you would have to show that its military power was being used, or about to be used, as a weapon in that competition. This of course is nonsense. It was a backward country with limited connections with the rest of the world economy and minimal reliance on export earnings. Its ability to industrialise during the 1930s while the capitalist world stagnated in depression is an indicator of how limited its reliance on external trade really was.

The policy of industrialisation and arms build up in the 1930s tells you nothing about whether the Soviet Union was or was not socialist. Just as capitalism develops modern industry, you would also expect a revolutionary government in a backward country like Russia to undertake a program of industrialisation because modern industry is a prerequisite for socialism and communism.

As for emphasising military production, Nazi aggression confirmed the wisdom of this policy. Why does preparing for the inevitable Nazi onslaught rate as capitalist accumulation? It is what any self-respecting revolutionary government would have done. You would expect a revolutionary regime to ‘compete’ militarily with a hostile capitalist world. OK the ISO’s case for characterising Stalin’s regime as state capitalist is unsatisfactory but are they still right even for the wrong reasons?

They are at least half right in that socialism itself is a form of capitalism, a form presided over by a revolutionary government that leads a protracted struggle to transform society from capitalism to communism.

Furthermore, in the Soviet Union, the Bolsheviks had the even more rudimentary task of converting a country of illiterate peasants into a country of unskilled and semi- skilled factory workers. In other words the task of revolutionaries in Russia was basically to create capitalism. The extent that the capitalist stage could be jumped was constrained by the limited scope for eliminating the division of labour.

However, having said this the regime was socialist in the sense that it generally speaking did everything revolutionaries could be expected to do in the conditions in which they found themselves and given the level of understanding and limited experience at the time.

In particular it expropriated the bourgeoisie and collectivised agriculture. This enabled the Soviet Union to rapidly industrialise while the capitalist world was in depression and provided a socialist economic base which was a prerequisite for more fundamental changes in relations between people at work and in society generally.

The capitalist label appears much more appropriate for the post-Stalin period. While the Stalin period was essentially one of dramatic revolutionary change, the subsequent Khruschev and Brezhnev periods were characterised by stagnation and conservatism.

There was no ongoing radical change but rather an entrenchment of the division of labour and the private expropriation of resources by a minority by every conceivable legal or illegal means. In this way socialists property forms became an empty shell and in fact a fetter to the proper working of capitalism which required the full development of bourgeois property rights. In this sense the Soviet Union had become totally capitalist.

Weren’t there better alternatives to Stalin? Not really. He was the best of a generally poor lot. Lenin (who died in 1924) was the only one who gave strong leadership in ideas and action. There was nothing exulted about the ‘Bolshevik Old Guard’ that Stalin purged and their policies were moronic and would have lead to failure.

Stalin on the other hand was prepared to take the necessary hard decisions on collectivisation of agriculture and industrialisation.

For those who are not radically inclined there was of course the non-socialist alternative. However, that alternative was not liberal democracy but a fascist White regime.

Originally published as ‘Not the 1917 news’ in Strange Times no.16 April 1992.
_

The myth of the “Secularism” of the Assads

WRITTEN BY JEAN -PIERRE FILIU, translated by Mary Rizzo

04/07/2014 or 07/04/2014 Oz time

fromwewritewhatwelike

Among the arguments put forward constantly by proponents of the Syrian dictatorship , standing out is the presumed ” secularism” of the Assad regime. It is striking that “secularism” is associated with the illusory protection of minorities (while the percentage of Christians in the Syrian population has halved since the advent of Hafez Assad in 1970) and the promotion of women’s rights.

Yet these two concepts have nothing to do with secularism, which expresses the neutrality of the State towards all faiths, whether they can be labelled as religious or not. The French Republic had built its secularism during the crisis with the Catholic Church and the events that emerged thereof.

The separation of church and state in 1905, in France came 40 years before the right to vote for women. And the French Revolution had, according to the famous formula of one of its members, recognised establishment of the rights of religious minorities as rights due to citizens, and not to a community.

This has not prevented the Arab dictators to enhance the idea of their “commitment” to the emancipation of women (Ben Ali in Tunisia) or for the protection of minorities (Copts in Egypt by Mubarak). This has brought about a paternalistic strategy of their propaganda towards the population (“without me, poor subjects, there exists only the greatest threat), and their seemingly “progressive” appearance on the international scene (I’m the only bulwark against the forces of darkness, Islamism, or Al Qaeda).

Yet, never has been such a lie been brought to the level that the Assad regime has taken it.

Hafez al-Assad, the founder of the dynasty, took power in 1970 against those who drafted – the year before – the only constitution in the history of Syria that could actually be described as “secular “. Assad the father “regulated” his manoeuver with a masquerade election, in 1971, attributing 99.2% of the votes to its sole candidate.

It amended the Constitution in 1973 to guarantee the explicit belonging of the Head of State to the Muslim religion.

The term “secularism” is absent from the official propaganda, which celebrates its successes with the words “socialist” and “nationalist” of the Assad regime. In 1979, the Syrian Baath Party, officially “Arab” and “socialist”, had allied with the Islamic Republic of Iran against the Iraqi Baath Party. This alliance, sealed by the war launched by Tehran against Baghdad in 1980, remains the same until this day.

Assad father and son support a Ministry of Religious Affairs (known as “Waqf”) and a Mufti of the Republic to establish an Islamic bureaucracy. The management of a body of religious officials is the exact opposite of the secular separation of religion and state. In Syria, the Imams are expected every Friday to celebrate the glory of the Head of State and his achievements.

In addition to this ministry integrated with the machine politics of the dictatorship, Assad has co-opted Sunni personalities, responsible for consolidating the presidential legitimacy in the ranks of the majority community in Syria. We should remember that, in the absence of official statistics, the percentage of Sunnis in Syria is estimated at four-fifths (mainly Arabs, with a Kurdish minority) and 12% are Alawites (all ethnically Arabs).

Among these public figures, the most notable were Kaftaro Sheikh Ahmad, who died in 2004, and Sheikh Ramadan al-Bouti, who was killed in a bombing in 2013. Both were known for their unconditional support to the Assad regime, and their vigorous attacks against the principle of secularism, which was considered as godlessness.

In February 2006, it was in Damascus where there were the most violent protests against the publication of caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed in the press of the West: the Syrian secret police organised events that led to the attack of the French Embassy and the destruction of the embassies of Denmark and Norway.

Those who still believe in the “secularism” of Bashar al-Assad could, for example, see this press release by Government Information (SANA) relative to the preaching at the end of Ramadan 2012 (Eid al-Fitr): “The sheikh leading the ceremony praised the struggle of the Head of State at the service of Islam against “conspiracy and terrorism.”

http://sana.sy/fra/51/2012/08/19/437134.htm

But there are none so deaf as those who will not hear …

* Jean -Pierre Filiu is a university lecturer at Sciences Po (Paris).

Arabist and historian, specialist in contemporary Islam.

After a long diplomatic career, he devoted himself to academic research, and has held various positions at prestigious American universities. He is the author of several important books on the Middle East and his essays have been published in a dozen languages ​​.

One of his latest books is dedicated to Syria: “I am writing of Aleppo” (Denoël , 2013).

Original: http://syriemdl.net/2014/04/02/le-mythe-de-la-laicite-des-assad/

Palestinians demand release of jailed leader Barghouti

Published March 27th, 2014

As part of their tit-for-tat negotiations with Israel, Palestinians have demanded the release of political prisoner Marwan Barghouti.

Barghouti was arrested in 2002, and convicted by an Israeli court in 2004. He is serving five life sentences, one for each of the murders he is allegedly responsible for, though Barghouti continues to deny allegations that he directly ordered the killings.

Barghouti’s case is a controversial one because despite a significant number of Israelis viewing him as a terrorist, many people, both Israelis and Palestinians, believe he may be their best hope for arriving at a two-state solution.

The Guardian reports Fadwa Barghouti, Marwan’s wife, visits him twice a month for 45 minutes at a time. She brings him books — he reads voraciously — news of their grown children, and updates on the peace talks. Several times throughout Barghouti’s imprisonment, the possibility of negotiations for his release have arisen, yet still he remains behind bars.

“He has spent 18 years of his life in an Israeli prison. He was deported for seven years. It has been a long and horrible journey,” says Fadwa. “Despite all this he believes the conflict should be resolved by a two-state solution. He does not believe there is an alternative in a one-state solution except more bloodshed and more agony.”

According to Ziad Abu Ein, his longtime friend and colleague, Barghouti advocates civil disobedience, not armed struggle, to protest Israel’s occupation.

These renewed calls for Marwan Barghouti’s release come at a time when Barghouti has gained considerable political clout as an iconic Palestinian figure. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas even asked President Obama to put pressure on Israel to release Barghouti during his visit to the White House last week.

Perhaps because Barghouti seems his likely successor.

Barghouti has tremendous public support — News of Barghouti’s potential release swayed Palestinian opinion, from 75 percent being against talks with Israel to 50 percent now supporting negotiations — and is a strong candidate to replace Mahmoud Abbas as president of Palestine, a development that could make his continued imprisonment a politically compromising position for Israel.

Speaking to the Guardian, Yossi Beilin, a former Israeli politician long opposed to Marwan’s incarceration, said, “If Mahmoud Abbas does not stand again for president and Barghouti does run, he will win easily. Then Israel will have the Palestinian president in jail.”

FGM: UK’s first female genital mutilation prosecutions announced

Via AHA

21 MAY 2013
BBC News

An offence was allegedly carried out by a doctor at the Whittington Hospital in London

The first UK prosecutions over female genital mutilation have been announced by the Crown Prosecution Service.

Dr Dhanuson Dharmasena, 31, of Ilford, east London, will be prosecuted for an alleged offence while working at the Whittington Hospital in London.

Hasan Mohamed, 40, of Holloway, north London, faces a charge of intentionally encouraging female genital mutilation.

Dr Dharmasena and Mr Mohamed will appear at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on 15 April.
‘Sufficient evidence’

In a statement, director of public prosecutions Alison Saunders said the CPS was asked by the Metropolitan Police to consider evidence in relation to an allegation of female genital mutilation (FGM).
FGM includes procedures that alter or injure female genital organs for non-medical reasons.
About 140 million girls and women worldwide are living with the consequences of FGM. Dangers include severe bleeding, problems urinating, infections, infertility, complications in childbirth and increased risk of death for newborns. (From WHO data)

It was alleged that following a patient giving birth in November 2012, a doctor at the Whittington Hospital repaired female genital mutilation that had previously been performed on the woman, allegedly carrying out female genital mutilation himself.

Ms Saunders said: “Having carefully considered all the available evidence, I have determined there is sufficient evidence and it would be in the public interest to prosecute Dr Dhanuson Dharmasena for an offence contrary to S1 (1) of the Female Genital Mutilation Act (2003).

“I have also determined that Hasan Mohamed should face one charge of intentionally encouraging an offence of FGM, contrary to section 44(1) of the Serious Crime Act (2007), and a second charge of aiding, abetting, counselling or procuring Dr Dharmasena to commit an offence contrary to S1 (1) of the Female Genital Mutilation Act (2003).

“These decisions were taken in accordance with the code for crown prosecutors.”

NHS trust Whittington Health, which runs the Whittington Hospital, said it had contacted police and started its own investigation when staff raised concerns following a birth in November 2012.

The CPS has decided to take no further action in four other cases of alleged FGM.

In one of those cases it was alleged that two parents had arranged for their daughter to undergo female genital mutilation while abroad.

In another, a suspect contacted an FGM helpline to request the procedure for his two daughters after misunderstanding the purpose of the service for victims. The CPS is currently considering whether to proceed with four other cases.

Prosecutors have also had discussions with police over investigations into two further cases, which are at an early stage.

‘Unforgivable’

The UK has in the past been compared unfavourably to other countries over the issue, such as France where there have been more than 100 successful prosecutions.

MPs have said it is “unforgivable” that there have been no UK prosecutions since laws against FGM were introduced nearly 30 years ago. This was despite more than 140 referrals to police in the past four years.

The Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003 replaced a 1985 Act, in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, raising the maximum penalty from five to 14 years in prison.

It also made it an offence for UK nationals or permanent UK residents to carry out FGM abroad even in countries where it is legal.

Home Office minister James Brokenshire said the government had “stepped up its response” to “take this crime out of the shadows” and give victims the confidence to come forward.

He said the “key message” was that the government took FGM “extremely seriously”.

Education Secretary Michael Gove is writing to every school in England to ask them to help protect girls from FGM.

Where is Australia at?

South Australian provisions

The ABC reported on Sept. 14 2012 that prosecutions occurred in NSW stating that it was unlikely to be an isolated incident. It is very likely that these procedures are occurring in Australia under Medicare and state Hospital funding. This most often occurs after the infibulated woman presents for pre-natal care etc. and requires reopening in order to safely deliver their baby and is re-stitched after the birth. Many women require stitching after giving birth and these procedures fall under the radar as they receive a few extra to restore their previous pre-admission condition.

Palestinians seek Barghouti’s release as condition for extending talks

Free Marwan Barghouti

Free Marwan Barghouti


A rising star in the dominant Fatah party before he was captured by Israeli troops in 2002. Marwan Barghouti could be the key to keeping talks alive.

By The Associated Press | Mar. 19, 2014 | 11:01 PM

The Palestinians are seeking the freedom of Marwan Barghouti, who is serving multiple life sentences for his alleged role in killings of Israelis, as part of any plan to extend negotiations with Israel beyond an April deadline, several top officials said.

A prominent Palestinian uprising leader imprisoned by Israel, Barghouti could soon emerge as the key to keeping fragile U.S.-led peace efforts alive.

A release of Barghouti, a popular figure among Palestinians, could inject new life into the troubled peace process, boost embattled Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, and even provide the Palestinians with a plausible successor to their 78-year-old leader.

But Israel seems unlikely to approve the request, setting the stage for a possible breakdown in the talks.

The Palestinians have two demands for an extension: a freeze in Israeli settlement construction in the West Bank and East Jerusalem and the release of the most senior prisoners held by Israel, first and foremost Barghouti, senior official Nabil Shaath and Prisoner Affairs Minister Issa Qaraq told AP.

Israel was already forced to release dozens of prisoners convicted of deadly violence to make the current round of talks possible, but Barghouti remains jailed.
With Israel not expected to halt settlement construction, the Palestinians say they will drive a tough bargain on the prisoner issue. Palestinian officials and Barghouti’s family said Abbas raised the issue of Barghouti’s release in his White House meeting this week with President Barack Obama.

“President Abbas demanded the release of the political leaders in jail like Marwan Barghouti, Ahmad Saadat and Fuad Shobaki,” said Qaraqi, the prisoner affairs minister.

Barghouti’s wife, Fadwa, said Abbas is “exerting his efforts to release Marwan and he is very serious about it.”

Israeli officials said the matter has not yet come in the talks. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the peace efforts with the Palestinians.

Saadat heads a faction that killed an Israeli Cabinet minister in 2001 and is serving a 30-year sentence for allegedly participating in attacks. Shobaki, a former top Palestinian official, is the alleged mastermind of an attempt to smuggle a large shipment of weapons to the Palestinians on a ship that was intercepted by Israeli naval commandos in 2002.

But no prisoner is more prized by the Palestinians than Barghouti, who was a rising star in the dominant Fatah party before he was captured by Israeli troops in 2002. Israel says Barghouti, 54, was a leader of the violent uprising in the West Bank early last decade. He is serving five life terms for alleged involvement in the deaths of four Israelis and a Greek monk.

The Palestinians say Barghouti is a politician who had no direct involvement in any of the killings.

Barghouti’s release could be critical for Abbas. The Palestinian leader has seen his popularity plummet due to the lack of progress in peace talks. Winning Barghouti’s freedom would be a huge moral victory for him.

And at almost 79, Abbas has recently acknowledged he cannot serve forever. Yet he has never designated a successor and is facing a rising challenge by an exiled former aide, Mohammed Dahlan. Barghouti is perhaps the only member of Fatah’s next generation of leaders with the gravitas to confront that challenge.

Palestinian analyst Hani al-Masri said Abbas desperately needs Barghouti’s release, both to justify continued talks with Israel and to finally have a clear successor.

Fadwa Barghouti said her husband remains intimately involved in Palestinian affairs from his cell in an isolated bloc of the Hadarim prison in central Israel.

She said he shares a cell with two other men and is allowed to go outdoors into a courtyard twice a day – one hour each time – for exercise and a walk. She said he starts his day with exercise and then reads four Israeli newspapers. In addition to his native Arabic, Barghouti speaks Hebrew and English.

As a member of Fatah’s leadership, Barghouti is briefed on the negotiations through his wife, who is in close contact with the Palestinian leadership and visits him twice a month.

“He was hoping that the U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry would succeed in striking a deal based on the Israeli commitment to end the occupation on the 1967 borders,” she said.

Barghouti, like other Palestinian leaders, wants to establish an independent state in all of the territories captured by Israel in 1967: the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza Strip, she said. Several past Israeli offers, by more moderate governments than Netanyahu’s, seemed to come close, but ultimately fell short.

The fate of the roughly 5,000 prisoners held by Israel is deeply emotional in Palestinian society. Virtually every Palestinian has a friend or relative who has served time in Israel, and the prisoners are revered a s freedom fighters.

But the issue is equally emotional for Israelis, who see prisoners like Barghouti as terrorists.

At the outset of talks last July, Israel agreed to release 104 long-serving prisoners in four stages. But the fourth and final stage, scheduled later this month, is suddenly in jeopardy.

The previous releases, including dozens of men who were convicted in deadly attacks, have been accompanied by jubilant celebrations by Palestinians and attended by Abbas himself, angering many in Israel. On Tuesday, Israel’s chief peace negotiator said the final release was not guaranteed unless there was progress in the talks.

For that reason, the release of Barghouti could become a contentious issue in the coming weeks. Israeli officials have rejected repeated attempts to include him in past prisoner releases.

Still, Israel could be tempted. During the peace talks of the 1990s, Barghouti was generally liked by the Israelis, had many friends among them, and was considered a moderate interlocutor. With many Israelis concerned that Abbas will be followed by more radical nationalists or Islamists, a Barghouti ascension, despite his supposed actions during the uprising, might not seem like the worst option.
Without a significant gesture, the Palestinians could soon walk away from the negotiating table.

Shaath gave a glimpse of what could lie ahead, saying the Palestinians would soon resume a campaign for UN recognition if Israel does not carry out the final scheduled prisoner release. Israel bitterly opposes the U.N. campaign, since the Palestinians have said they will use their enhanced international status to press for anti-Israel action. The Palestinians halted the campaign in exchange for Israel’s pledge to free prisoners.

“We committed to not applying to the UN agencies and Israel committed to release 104 prisoners in four batches,” he said. “That was the deal. If Israel breaches it, we will too.”

Under heavy U.S. pressure, Israel and the Palestinians restarted negotiations last July, setting a nine-month target for wrapping up a comprehensive peac e deal establishing a Palestinian state and ending a century of conflict. After realizing this was unrealistic, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry scaled back his ambitions and said he would aim for a “framework” peace deal by the April deadline.

With even that more modest goal in question, the sides are now searching for a formula that will allow the talks to continue.

The Palestinians have been skeptical about the chances of success, distrusting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. A prolonging of the talks means continuing shelving of their previous plans to press for recognition, even without a peace deal, with various international bodies.

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Pussy Riot members beaten by Russian security officials with horsewhips in Sochi

From ABC News
(no author credited) 20 Feb. 2014

Members of Russian protest punk band Pussy Riot were attacked in Sochi by Cossack militia armed with horsewhips.

The scuffles came a day after band members Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina were detained by police in the Russian Black Sea resort for several hours in connection with a theft case.

The latest fracas over their stay in Sochi came as the International Olympic Committee (IOC) warned the women that it would be “wholly inappropriate” to stage actions outside Winter Olympic venues.

The clash took place as Tolokonnikova, Alyokhina and one other Pussy Riot member sought to stage an action in the centre of Sochi, about 30 kilometres north of the main Olympic Park.

They donned the coloured balaclavas and tights that are their group’s trademark but were immediately surrounded by uniformed security personnel who appeared to be Cossacks.

The women were whipped repeatedly with horsewhips and roughly handled, video footage showed bruises on Maria Alyokhina.

At one point Tolokonnikova was thrown to the ground and her coat thrown on top of her.

Several uniformed Cossacks, acting as security guards in Sochi, pulled the women’s ski-masks off them, punched them repeatedly and whipped them.

Tolokonnikova herself wrote on her Twitter feed @tolokno that they had been attempting to stage a new performance entitled “Putin will teach you to love the motherland”.

Alyokhina posted pictures on her Twitter feed of her chest, showing severe bruising after the clashes.

“My back hurts from the beatings on my body there are bruises and marks from the whips,” Tolokonnikova said.

“Putin will teach you to love the motherland,” she added ironically.

The women went to Sochi hospitals for medical treatment and Alyokhina later posted a picture of Tolokonnikova in the hospital bed next to her.

Tolokonnikova said her husband Pyotr Verzilov has suffered in particular due to the use of an unidentified spray.

Alexander Tkachev, the governor of the Krasnodar region, which includes Sochi, said the incident had to be investigated, even if the views of Pussy Riot do not reflect the majority.

“All the guilty in what took place should be punished,” Mr Tkachev said.

The IOC distanced itself from the controversy over the arrest on Tuesday (local time), which rights groups described as a public relations disaster that cast a new shadow over the Games.