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Young Men Who Fought in Syria with Kurds Against ISIS Return.

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Our Kurdish Sisters and Brothers. 

Exclusive: Death Pact Of IS-Fighting Britons

From Sky News.

Two Britons who went to Syria to fight IS have told of their battles on the front line – and how they vowed to kill each other rather than get captured.

Jamie Read and James Hughes told how they dodged bullets during chaotic patrols with Kurdish forces after recording a “goodbye” video for their families in case they died.

They described spending hours lying in the “pitch black” in no-man’s land, in conditions they said were reminiscent of World War One.

On one occasion, it was so cold that a young Kurdish comrade collapsed with hypothermia – “body-popping” on the ground next to them.

In an exclusive Sky News interview after their return to the UK, the pair also revealed how panic alarms have been installed in their homes, amid fears they could be targets for IS supporters.

They strongly denied being mercenaries, telling how they had sold possessions to fund their flights and had returned to the UK to “mounting debts and bills”.

They had not been paid “a penny” for their exploits, though they had been “treated like royalty” by some of the Kurdish troops, the men said.

Provided by Sky News And the former soldiers gave a detailed account of their time in Iraq and Syria, explaining that they had travelled to fight IS militants because they had “zero tolerance for terrorism”.

Describing what had prompted them to travel, Mr Read said the beheading of British aid convoy volunteer Alan Henning had been the final straw.

“Alan Henning – aid worker, British – put him on his hands and knees and cut his head off, you know what I mean,” Mr Read said.

“Can you really find justification in sitting back here and doing nothing?”

Mr Read, 24, and Mr Hughes, 26, revealed that organising the trip had been quite simple with a “phone call here or there” and some communication over Skype.

They were screened by simply having their Facebook posts checked and ensuring that social media friends were not IS supporters, Mr Read said.

The pair said that after arriving in Irbil, northern Iraq, they were transported via the Kurdish HQ to the front line in Syria.

During the journey the Britons said they had no idea whether they had landed in a trap.

“I’m not going to lie, this was one of the most frightening processes you can go through, you know, the paranoia: through the roof,” Mr Read said.

“You get picked up by a guy who doesn’t speak English, so straight away there’s a language barrier.

“When we got to the safe house… it’s sort of dodgy-looking, so you think ‘I don’t really like this’. At one point, you think ‘is this the point I’m going to get handed over?'”

After getting a uniform and weapons, Mr Hughes said they eventually “rocked up” on the frontline to an old schoolhouse covered in mud.

They arrived to cheers from their Kurdish comrades, were plied with chai (tea) and cigarettes, and met three other Westerners who had joined the fight.

During their three weeks on the front line, their duties included terrifying night patrols where it was the “blackest black… like being in a cave with no lights”.

“You are left staring into the pitch black, hoping no one sees you first,” Mr Read said.

The Britons said they had hatched a plan to shoot each dead rather than being caught and paraded on television as hostages.

“We wouldn’t get captured, bottom line, we couldn’t get captured, we’re not getting our heads paraded on YouTube, we made that vow before we went out.

“Everybody out there is carrying a round for themselves. Nobody wants to be captured by IS. Nobody wants to end up on YouTube getting their head cut off.

“So for us, as harsh as it sounds, it’s probably the better way to go. It’s the old saying, ‘you keep a round for each other’.”

Describing their final day, Mr Read told how the pair had been out on patrol towards a nearby village where IS militants had been holed up.

“All of a sudden we just got opened up on. Quite a lot of small arms (…) quite a lot of AKs and they were quite close.

“There were rounds coming in and they were really close – they were pinging and they were bouncing, whizzing over your head – obviously it’s a very distinctive noise.

“There was a lot of shouting, a lot of screaming, a lot of F-words being dropped.”

The pair said they were forced to flee through a village which was “littered with IEDs (improvised explosive devices)” before returning to base.

“We eventually made it out but this was a real eye-opener – this is how these people were going to act – there’s something more that needs to be done there.”

They returned to Britain last week and were questioned by anti-terrorism officers for six hours at Heathrow airport before being released.

Asked whether they would return to Syria, Mr Read said: “I’d like to think we would have the opportunity to go back.”

But he added: “I’m unsure on the political stance – I’m not sure whether our Government would appreciate us going back.”

The Independent reports,

After their three-week stint on the front line, they were held for questioning at Heathrow Airport for six hours and they claim to have faced mountains of debt on their return. Neither was arrested or charged for terrorism, unlike every other British national who left the country to fight in the Syrian civil war.

Read and Hughes also said they had “zero tolerance for terrorism” and cited that and the murder of British aid volunteer Alan Henning as their justification for choosing to fight against the militant group.

Their homes have been fitted with panic alarms in fear of Isis supporters who could be planning to seek retribution and the pair have also been monitored in a counter-terrorism watch.

Hughes, 26, from Worcestershire and served three tours of Afghanistan with the British Army, added during the interview with Sky News that patrols would be put out just in case their homes are attacked.

The Lions of Rojava page on Facebook, for the YPG which is also known as the People’s Defence Unit, has claimed that soldiers from countries such as the US, Germany, Netherlands and Estonia have also joined the Kurdish force.

Around 200 soldiers will be deployed by the British Army in the New Year to train Iraqi and Kurdish soldiers for six months, in plans announced last week.

We await complaints from the usual sources that that these brave young men were not charged with terrorism, that this shows UK ‘double standards’,  – that is from the same people who not too long ago were comparing  those fighting for the Daesh genociders with the volunteers defending the Spanish Republic in the 1930s.

Meanwhile comrade Janet Biehl has visited the Kurdish stronghold of Rojava

My Impressions of Rojava.

From December 1 to 9, I had the privilege of visiting Rojava as part of a delegation of academics from Austria, Germany, Norway, Turkey, the U.K., and the U.S. We assembled in Erbil, Iraq, on November 29 and spent the next day learning about the petrostate known as the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG), with its oil politics, patronage politics, feuding parties (KDP and PUK), and apparent aspirations to emulate Dubai. We soon had enough and on Monday morning were relieved to drive to the Tigris, where crossed the border into Syria and entered Rojava, the majority-Kurdish autonomous region of northern Syria.

……………..

Anyone with a bit of faith in humanity should wish the Rojavans well with their revolution and do what they can to help it succeed. They should demand that their governments stop allowing Turkey to define a rejectionist international policy toward the Kurds and toward Democratic Autonomy. They should demand an end to the embargo against Rojava.

The members of the delegation in which I participated (even though I am not an academic) did their work well. Sympathetic to the revolution, they nonetheless asked challenging questions, about Rojava’s economic outlook, about the handling ethnicity and nationalism, and more.  The Rojavans we met, accustomed to grappling with hard questions, responded thoughtfully and even welcomed critique.

Full article via above link.

Marine Le Pen: Torture Can Sometimes Be Useful.

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Torture: a ‘Useful Tool’ Says Marine Le Pen. 

“Moi je crois que les gens qui s’occupent des terroristes et accessoirement de leur tirer des informations, lorsque ces informations leur permettent de sauver des vies civiles, sont des gens qui sont responsables. S’il y a des abus c’est aux Etats-Unis de le déterminer”, a-t-elle commenté. “Il peut y avoir des cas, comme quand une bombe doit exploser dans une heure ou dans deux heures et, accessoirement peut faire des victimes civiles, où il est utile de faire parler la personne pour savoir où est la bombe avec les moyens qu’on peut”, a-t-elle ajouté.

I believe that those who deal with terrorists, who have also to extract information from them – information that allows civilian lives to be saved –  are responsible people. If there’s abuses in the USA it’s for them to work this out,” she commented, “There could be cases, when a bomb is about to explode in an hour or two – something that could cause civilian victims – when it is useful to make somebody talk in order to find out where the bomb has been placed – using the means that one can.” – she continued.

BFMTV

Torture can be a “useful” tool in certain cases French far-right leader Marine le Pen said on Wednesday, before later backtracking and stating that her words had been “misinterpreted”.

Speaking early Wednesday on BFMTV in an interview discussing the revelations that the CIA used brutal interrogation methods, Le Pen said she “did not condemn” the use of torture when questioning terror suspects.

“Of course [torture] can be used,” she said. “It’s been used throughout history.”

“I believe that the people responsible for getting information out of terror suspects that can save civilian lives do a responsible job,” she added.

“There are times, such as if a bomb is about to go off, when it is useful to get a suspect to talk…by any means.”

France 24.

This is what the backtracking consists of:

(from Marine Le Pen dément avoir défendu l’usage de la torture. Libération.  Marine Le Pen denies defending the use of torture.)

Specifically she asserts that the phrase  “Les moyens qu’on peut” (the means available) refer to “les moyens de la loi” – legal means.

One thing is clearly on many people’s minds: Marine Le Pens father, Jean-Marie Le Pen, has regularly been accused of using torture during his time in the French military fighting against Algerian  independence – most recent controversy here (2012)

Written by Andrew Coates

December 11, 2014 at 1:13 pm

Returning Jihadists should be employed as “spokesman for their communities”.

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Our Beloved Comrades the Jihadists are out to Murder. 

“Rather than banning fighters from coming home, governments should consider employing them as spokespeople in their home communities.”

Hat-tip DM.

No this does not from the Guardian Comment is Free or from those see some elements of ‘progressive’ politics in the battle for the ‘Caliphate’.

It’s by “Josh Cohen …a former US State Department project officer. He currently works for a satellite technology company, contributes to a number of foreign policy-focused media outlets and tweets @jkc_in_dc. “

And it appears on Now.

It must rank, and it certainly ranks, as the most willfully vile suggestion that’s floating around.

Those most susceptible to recruitment into violent extremism frequently feel excluded by society.

We make a sharp distinction between attitudes and actions. All attitudes must be dissected and debated. This is the lifeblood of a democracy.”

One obvious question, then, is where the West’s Syrian jihadists — and would-be jihadists — land if prevented from returning home. Stateless and now rejected by their home countries, many will likely wind up in tertiary countries such as Yemen or Libya, where they are much more likely to come into contact with groups such as Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) or Ansar al-Shariah, and in turn potentially become part of a core of angry, “professional” jihadists dedicated to bringing destruction to Europe and the West.

Another important fact to consider is that many Westerners who have joined ISIS in Syria have become disillusioned with the organization upon discovering its brutality towards its fellow Muslims — not to mention the fact that jihad is not quite so glamorous when you are pulling washing duty and your iPod doesn’t work. One example of this phenomenon is the 30 British citizens with ISIS who have expressed a desire to return home but are stuck in limbo due to fears of long prison sentences when they arrive back in the UK. Rather than banning them from coming home, the UK government should consider employing them as spokespeople in their home communities as the perfect antidote to the tremendously effective social media recruitment campaigns with which ISIS targets young Western Muslims.

Finally, stripping returning jihadists of their citizenship may actually violate the UN Convention on Reducing Statelessness, as well as international human rights law. Referring to the UK’s revocation of citizenship, Dr. Christophe Paulussen, of the International Centre for Counter-Terrorism at the Hague, noted that “it becomes dangerous when measures are slowly eroding [international] law principles that we have cherished for so long and that we stand for.”

In Denmark, by contrast,

the municipality of Aarhus has implemented a unique program that focuses on inclusion rather than punishment.

And while implementing a de-radicalisation programme in the country,

…not all radicalization can be prevented, so Aarhus has also established a comprehensive reintegration and de-radicalization program for those returning from Syria. “The program’s core is that we have one entry point to help, but that help can have very different characteristics depending on the individual situation. It can be debriefing or psychological help; it may be in the form of a mentor, assistance with housing or something else. The program is rooted in the police, but includes many different disciplines,” Agerschou noted.

While some believe the Aarhus program is too soft, so far it is working. In 2013, 30 people travelled from Aarhus to Syria to participate in the conflict. As of August, however, only one person had been recorded travelling from Aarhus to Syria in 2014. Aarhus is also working with numerous returnees, most of whom are now engaged in work or education rather than the conflict in Syria. Word of Aarhus’ focus on rehabilitation and dialogue has spread in Syria, impelling many Danish Muslims — most of whom have also become disillusioned with jihad — to seek a way to return to Denmark and leave the jihadi life behind.

While there is no single anecdote for homegrown jihadism, Aarhus offers a model that Western governments would be wise to at least consider.

 In our view those fighting with the genociders of Da’esh (Isis) and Al Nusra (also guilty of persecution, torture and mass murder) and should be investigated for war crimes.

They should indeed be excluded from society.

Written by Andrew Coates

December 8, 2014 at 1:52 pm

Nigeria: Boko Harem Attack.

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Nigeria unrest: Mosque attack death toll over 100

More than 100 people died in an attack on a Nigerian mosque on Friday, local government and hospital officials say.

The president of Nigeria has vowed “to leave no stone unturned” in tracking down the perpetrators of the gun and bomb attack during Friday’s prayers in the northern city of Kano.

Goodluck Jonathan urged the nation “to confront the common enemy”.

No-one has so far claimed the attack but officials say it bears the hallmarks of Boko Haram militant group.

Kano’s Central Mosque, where the attack took place, is where the influential Muslim leader, the emir of Kano, usually leads prayers.

Emir Muhammed Sanusi had recently called for people to arm themselves against Boko Haram, and there have been suggestions that the attack was in response to that call.

However, on Saturday the emir dismissed the claims, saying it must have taken at least two months to plan the attack. He made the comments during a visit to the mosque.

BBC

Today an update report continues,

The tension is palpable in Kano, after bombers and gunmen struck killing more than 100 people at the central mosque.

No-one here is in any doubt that Boko Haram did it.

It seems people do not know where to vent their anger now but hostility hangs in the air.

Inside the mosque, the sight is shocking.

Beyond the blood-soaked steps, the floor is strewn with debris: scattered prayer mats, beads, smashed spectacles and pages from the Koran.

There are bullet marks on the pillars and the suicide bombers’ blood can be seen splattered across the walls and right up inside the dome.

“We heard a loud sound outside, but people said let’s continue praying,” said Adamu Magashi, who was inside facing the imam who had just finished his sermon at the time of the attack.

BBC

There are those who explain Islamist violence as a ‘blow back’ at Western intervention.

Or as a struggle for a better world in a religious form….

How does this tragedy fit into their preconceptions?

Written by Andrew Coates

November 30, 2014 at 1:41 pm

Why we are internationalists.

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LastScan Tsuff

 

 

 

 

Coatesy, Bounds Green,  with ‘Migrant Workers’ circa 1960.

There has been so much offensive stuff about ‘migrants’ and ‘foreigners’ in the media and public domain that we should be reminded of some obvious facts.

The above photo was taken by my mum of her best friend, Molly, with her son, my sister and myself.

She was a lovely woman and I imagine my sister was influenced by this in the choice of her elder daughter’s name.

Molly was a ‘migrant’ from the Irish republic.

In 1997, the Irish government in its White Paper on Foreign Policy claimed that there were around two million Irish citizens living in Britain, the majority of them British-born.

Strangely enough this does not get mentioned in the mean-spirited drivel from politicians and in the press.

The below is a picture of my sister and myself at a dinner at the House of Lords.

It was held by a North London Humanist association is was under the patronage of Fenner Brockway –  a major figure in the 20th century left who was a pillar of the Movement for Colonial Freedom.

We supported his generous internationalism then and now.

ALsion and Andy

Written by Andrew Coates

November 27, 2014 at 11:33 am

Isis: ‘Manufactured” by US, says Counterpunch.

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From US ‘Tool Box’ Says Counterpunch. 

Counterpunch published over the weekend these latest wise-guy revelations…

ISIS: the Useful Enemy

by ISMAEL HOSSEIN-ZADEH

The dark force of ISIS is apparently an invincible and unstoppable war juggernaut that is mercilessly killing and conquering in pursuit of establishing an Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. In reality, however, it is not as out of control as it appears. It is, indeed, carefully controlled and managed by its creators and supporters, that is, by the United States and its allies in the regions—those who now pretend to have established a coalition to fight it! 

Plumbing the depths Hossein-Zadeh tries to make political capital out of Kobane and the brave Kurds fighting there,

While the Kurdish city of Kobani in Northern Syria is being attacked by the disproportionately better armed forces of ISIS, and thousands of its besieged residents face certain mass killings if it falls, the forces of the “coalition to fight ISIS” are watching—in effect, playing a game of hide-and-seek, or perhaps trick-or-treat, with ISIS—as the outgunned and outmanned Kurdish forces are valiantly fighting to death against the attackers. Only occasionally the coalition forces carry out bombing missions that seem to be essentially theatrical, or just for the record.

Further,

The inaction or half-hearted action of the United States in the face of the preventable slaughter of the Syrian Kurds, which makes it complicit in the carnage, can be explained by its political horse-trading with Turkey in exchange for the Turks’ collaboration with the pursuit of its imperialistic interests in the region.

It is self-evidently true that the Islamist government of Turkey is viscerally hostile to the PKK and those in Syria allied to it. But Hossein-Zadeh does not propose any measures to alleviate their plight, or indeed express any solidarity with the people of Kobane.

How one could help them – leaving aside the inconvenient truth that the Peshmerga are actually there – are not his concern. He simply wallows in it.

The ‘argument behind all of this?

That, the US and its tentacles are at work. If  you thought Seamus Milne’s Theory of why the USA is against the ‘multi-polar world’ is half-baked read this:

The U.S. approach to ISIS would be better understood when it is viewed in the context of its overall objectives in the region—and beyond. That overriding objective, shared and reinforced by its client states, is to undermine or eliminate “the axis of resistance,” consisting of Iran, Syria, Hezbollah, Hamas and, to a lesser extent, Shia forces in Iraq, Yemen, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.

Achievement of this goal would also be achievement of another, even broader, goal: undermining Russia’s influence and alliances in the region and, by extension, in other parts of the world—for example, its critically important role within both the Shanghai Cooperation Council (China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan) and the BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa).

And one doubts if many would go as far as this

To intervene in order to achieve these goals, the U.S. and its allies need pretexts and/or enemies—even if it means inventing or manufacturing such enemies. Without ISIS, resumption of U.S. military operations in Iraq and extension of those operations into Syria would have been difficult to justify to the American people. A year or so ago, the Obama administration’s drive to attack Syria was thwarted by the opposition from the American people and, therefore, the U.S. congress. The rise of ISIS quickly turned that opposition to support.

Viewed in this light, ISIS can be seen as essentially another (newly manufactured) instrument in the tool-box of U.S. foreign policy, which includes “global terrorism,” the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center, weapons of mass destruction, Iran’s nuclear technology, Al-Qaeda, and many other radical Islamic groupings—all by-products of, or blowbacks to, imperialistic U.S. foreign policies.

Let us, generously, assume that this article is not the famous Hope-Tipping (Hat-tip Rosie) famous for saying the opposite of what everybody else believes (accusing”D H Lawrence of showing  a neglect of “the consciousness of sexual relationship, the male and female element in life).

So it is not to strike a pose the author claims, “Just because everybody thinks that Isis is virulently anti-US means….that the US created it……”

No we will not claim this. Counterpunch has published extremely well-informed material on the origins of Isis in the Iraqi and Syrian Matrices.

Well, okay,l one that I can find quickly:  The Rise of ISIS and the Origins of the New Middle East War Tariq Ali talking to Patrick Cockburn.

…..they come most immediately from al-Qaeda in Iraq, which was at the height of its influence in 2006 [and] 2007 when it was an element–but not the only element–in the Sunni resistance to a Shia government and the American occupation. Ideologically, it comes out of the Jihadi movement and actually its religious beliefs are not that much different from Saudi Wahhabism, the variant of the Islam which is effectively the state religion of Saudi Arabia with its denigration of Shia as heretics, [along with] Christians and Jews.

It’s just carrying these beliefs to a higher and more violent level but it’s very much in the context of the Jihadi movement. …. ISIS has a number of different kinds of support. It has support of the alienated Sunni community in Iraq and also in Syria.

That at least their victors, after all these people have been defeated – they were defeated in ’91 by the Americans, they were defeated again in 2003, they were marginalised, persecuted – so victory is important to them. I think also they appeal to jobless young men, I mean sometimes referred to as the underclass, but actually just the poor, poor young men.

One could develop further from this that the group has an internal totalitarian dynamic,  a machine of “disciplining and punishing” grounded in Islamism, that represents,as Cockburn suggests,  not a radical break with other forms of Islamism, but an extreme exaggeration of their repressive efforts to shape human beings according to Divine Law. Or, failing that to cage them within it.

We can discuss for a long time the geopolitics, the Invasion of Iraq, and at present, the Syrian civil war, the stand of Turkey’s government, that have favoured these developments.

The contradictions within the Iraqi Kurdish power  and the various Kurdish  movements (including their own Islamists) and the complex issue of the Kurdish movements, the PKK’s inspiring programme of egalitarian social measures, decentralised power, secular freedom and sexual equality would fill pages.

But the point now is to mobilise support for the Kurdish fighters against Isis/Islamic State.

All this is blown to the winds by Hossein’s ramblings. – more than typical of the contributions on the site.

Is this deliberate?

That the real wish is to pile all the misery of the beloved peoples of the Middle East on the ‘West’s’ back?

Who can be certain?

Counterpunch – just when you thought unpleasant conspiracy theorists had had enough.

Global Day of Solidarity with Kobane: Pictures.

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A world day of solidarity with Kobane

Thousands of people took to the streets throughout Europe today in a demonstration of support for Kurds in Kobane, the Syrian border town under siege from Islamic State (IS) fighters for more than a month.

This is a crucial moment for Kurdish activism. We are coming together as never before and with global support as never before,” Aysegul Erdogan, a Kurdish human rights activist and one of the organisers of the demonstration in London’s Trafalgar Square, told Rudaw.  Thousands of people waved multi-coloured flags and placards in the sun as they listened to speeches from members of parliament and human rights activists.

 In Turkey, there were fears that protests in the capital Istanbul and Turkey’s biggest Kurdish city Diyarbakir could turn violent. Several hundred people, mainly leftist groups and supporters of the banned PKK marched through Istanbul’s main shopping district waving PKK and YPG flags and pictures of imprisoned PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan, despite warnings from the government the protest was illegal and it would come down hard on any civil disturbance.

Water cannons and hundreds of riot police armed with tear gas stood watch only metres away stopping the group’s advance while protesters shouted anti IS slogans as well as “Free Kurdistan”.

 Ankara has said it will hold the main pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) responsible for any violence after it made a call earlier this week for people to take to the streets. Some 40 people were killed during riots over Kobane in Kurdish cities last month following a similar call by the HDP.

 The Dogan news agency reported that some 20,000 protesters had also gathered in Diyarbakir.

 Elsewhere in Europe, demonstrators carrying green and gold Kurdish flags and placards saying “Hands Off Kobane” thronged the streets in major cities from the Mediterranean to Scandinavia, with some protestors supporting or criticising their own governments’ actions in the crisis.

More on Rudaw (Kurdish News Service)

See also: Manifestations en Turquie et en Europe en solidarité avec Kobané

Update:

YPG and YPJ commanders Mahmut Berxwedan and Roza Kobane saluted everyone that joined the “World Kobane Day” demonstrations across the world. The commanders said, “We promise victory in Kobane to the millions that have expressed their support and solidarity”.

The commanders also said that the scenes that came through from across the globe has boosted the morale of the YPG and YPJ fighters and that the resistance of the fighters in Kobane and the activities of the millions of supporters of the resistance were complimentary to each other.

YPJ commander Roza Kobane especially thanked all the women in the world who participated in the 1 November activities by saying that, “we give our word to the women of the world to continue our struggle for the liberation of women”.

Kurdish Question.

mcr 5

Manchester

Thousands protest in Turkey to show solidarity with Kobane Kurds

Istanbul.

kab1

Kabul (Via, Initiative Communiste Ouvrière)

Perth, Australia.

World shows solidarity with Kobane

Cologne Germany. 

Northern Kurdistan, Diyarbakir.

Rally in LA

Los Angeles.

Paris. 

© AFP

Toulouse.

1414879704-thousands-rally-in-london-in-solidarity-with-kobane_6158578

London (thanks to beloved comrade Gemma).

Speakers included Mark Thomas, Peter Tatchell  and representatives of Kurdish organisations.

More on London here.