Archive for the ‘Iran’ Category
Should Left Back Everyone Resisting NATO?
As President Obama admits ” We don’t have a strategy yet.” one group in Britain is pretty certain he does.
The Stop the War Coalition urges people to ” Protest the NATO Summit” (? – Protest what? For, Against,?).
At a mass demonstration of 600 people (BBC estimate, StWC estimate perhaps 60,000) they expressed the views below.
The StWC focuses on NATO, “NATO is the military alliance binding Europe to US foreign policy, a foreign policy post-Iraq increasingly unpopular around the world. It is also the military alliance currently occupying Afghanistan.”
Apparently it’s all connected with the present wars and conflicts.
Or as they ask, and answer: What links Gaza, Iraq and Ukraine? The deranged policies of the US and NATO.
The most obvious but mostly unconsidered factor is that all three of these situations are directly linked to an increasingly aggressive Western foreign policy promoted by NATO over the last two or three decades.
So now we know: it’s the West’s fault.
The StWC urges mobilisation. “We need to make sure that the scale of anti-war opinion and the spirit of the great Gaza demonstrations is on display in Newport and Cardiff for all the world to see.”
Some might care to comment on the comparison between Gaza, Newport and Cardiff.
But for the instant other matters arise.
One group of people on the British left seem to have taken the analysis of NATO to a very definite conclusion.
They are now working with the “enemy” of the “West” on the issue of Ukraine.
A conclusion with practical consequences not all will admire.
The Alliance for Workers’ Liberty (here, hat-tip D) publishes the allegations below about the alliances of some of those on the British Left protesting against the Ukrainian government – that is ‘NATO’s ally’.
Less than two months ago Richard Brenner (Workers Power) and Alan Freeman (Socialist Action) were feted in the Hotel Yalta-Intourist by assorted Russian fascists and ultra-nationalists at a conference about Ukraine. The same initiative, meeting again this weekend, will apparently be without them.
The first conference produced a “Declaration” (full of worthy anti-fascist and anti-war verbiage, designed for a European/US left-liberal audience) and a “Manifesto” (which amounted to a programme to wipe Ukraine off the face of the earth, or at least to reduce it to the borders of pre-World-War-One Galicia).
Brenner defended his attendance at the conference on the grounds that “some of the people in the resistance are nationalists and socially reactionary on some (not all) questions.” As for the “Manifesto”, according to Brenner, “there is nothing reactionary in its practical proposals.”
(An astonishing conclusion, bearing in mind that the title of the Manifesto – “Manifesto of the Popular Front for the National Liberation of Ukraine, Novorossiya and Transcarpathian Rus’” – was itself a “practical proposal” for the dismemberment of Ukraine.)
This weekend’s conference in the same hotel is entitled “Russia, Ukraine, Novorossiya: Global Problems and Challenges”, and will launch what it calls the “Anti-Fascist (Anti-Maidan) Council of the Russian Federation”. (1)
The conference is organised by the “Co-ordination Centre for Novaya Rus’” – one of the organisations headed by Aleksei Anpilogov which ran the earlier conference attended by Brenner and Freeman.
Three of the conference’s listed speakers attended the earlier conference: Anpilogov, Vladimir Rogov and Pyotr Getsko. (Anpilogov can fairly be described as a nationalist-cum-fascist; the latter two are more ultra-nationalist/fascist-fellow-travellers.)
But this time they are not meeting with a couple of (possibly) useful idiots from the British left.
Keynote speakers at the conference include Igor Strelkov-Girkin and Alexander Borodai (respectively, former Defence Minister and former Prime Minister of the ‘Donetsk People’s Republic’). Both are members of the Izborsky Club, a Russian fascist ‘think tank’ headed up by Alexander Prokhanov and Alexander Dugin.
Sergei Glazyev (presidential aide to Putin, and a member of the Izborsky Club) will also address the conference, as too will Mikhail Delyagin (Russian academic and a member of the Izborsky Club).
Other speakers include Mikhail Sheremet (former head of the ‘Crimean Self-Defence’ which worked with the Russian military in the annexation of the Crimea, subsequently appointed Crimean Deputy Prime Minister) and Mateusz Piskorski:
“Piskorski is an open proponent of Nazism, a holocaust denier, and the author of articles in the portals “White World” and “I, A Russian”. He was the leading light of the Polish skinhead paper ‘Odala’, where he praised the Aryan race and Adolf Hitler.” (2)
Publicity for the conference states that it will be attended by “members of the Izborsky and Zinoviev Clubs”.
The latter Club is named after the late Soviet philosopher Alexander Zinoviev: an admirer of Stalin, a supporter of Milosevic, and an opponent of Western values. The Club is concerned with the restoration of “traditional Russian values”.
Also attending the conference will be “parliamentary and government delegations from twelve European countries.” So far, only one of them has been named: Marton Dyondyoshi, a leading figure in the Hungarian far-right and particularly anti-semitic party Jobbik.
The list of speakers shows the hollowness of the expression “anti-fascist” in the context of this conference and its goal of setting up an “Anti-Fascist Council”.
(It is no less hollow in the context of: “Campaign in Solidarity with the Anti-Fascist Resistance in Ukraine”, to which Workers Power, Socialist Action and other more explicit brands of Stalinism are affiliated.)
There is nothing “anti-fascist” about the politics of the Izborsky Club members. There is nothing “anti-fascist” about the politics of Dyondyoshi. There is nothing “anti-fascist” about the politics of the French National Front (regularly praised on separatist websites).
“Anti-fascist”, in this context, is no more than a verbal fig-leaf to cover up for straightforward Russian-imperialist aggression against Ukraine. And the fact that the organisers of the first Yalta conference have now organized this weekend’s event, inviting along sundry fascists, Hitler-admirers and anti-semites, tells you a lot about their own politics as well.
But for the likes of Worker’s Power, perhaps Jobbik should now also be classed as no more than “nationalists (who are) socially reactionary on some (not all) questions”?
It is important also to see this from the AWL here.
Confirmation of their report, “Veterans of the Russian military and special forces, together with rights activists and representatives of Orthodox Christian community, are to jointly launch a group to try and thwart any attempts to forcefully change the political system in the country.” more Spetsnaz veterans to launch ‘anti-Maidan council’ in Russia (Russia Today).
ISIS Islamic Justice (from Fightback, Marxist Journal).
A great deal has been said on the unfolding civil war in Iraq.
Tony Blair’s remarks, justifying past, and future, military interventions, have, rightly, caused an uproar.
One of the most respected and reliable writers on the Middle East, Robert Fisk, has observed,
How do they get away with these lies? Now Tony Blair tells us that Western “inaction” in Syria has produced the Iraq crisis. But since bombing Syria would have brought to power in Damascus the very Islamists who are now threatening Baghdad, it must therefore be a mercy that Barack Obama does not listen to the likes of Blair.
Father Frans van der Lugt was a martyr of Homs, refusing to leave his Christian flock and Muslim friends throughout the years of siege, imploring the world to pity the innocent and the starving until, on 7 April this year, gunmen arrived in the church garden and murdered him. They came from the Nusra forces – the Assad regime called them terrorists, the opposition said, of course, that if Assad had not besieged Homs, the 72-year-old Catholic priest would not have died. He is buried a few metres away, his grave a cheap wooden cross surrounded by flowers. From a photograph, his bespectacled face stares at us. The Pope later prayed for Van der Lugt’s soul.
I suppose if the West had bombed Damascus last year – as Blair bombed Baghdad in 2003 – Father Francis might have lived. But then again, he might have been murdered much earlier by the Islamists we would have been helping.
Lindsey German of the Stop the War Coalition has commented on Blair,
Stop the War Coalition convenor Lindsey German condemned his discredited views and the airtime he was given to peddle them, including an appearance on the BBC’s Andrew Marr show.
Ms German told the Star: “Blair has yet again been given a lengthy platform to promote his demented warmongering.”
And she said it was precisely the bombing of the country’s infrastructures 11 years ago that lead to “disastrous consequences which are still playing out to the cost of the Iraqi people.”
Ms German called on Mr Blair to step down from his role as Middle East peace convoy.
She said it was a “a job for which he lacks a single qualification.”
Ms German wasn’t alone in her criticisms as politicians and the public piled into the ex-PM.
Former international development secretary Clare Short — who stepped down from her role over the invasion of Iraq — labelled her former boss as a “complete American neocon.”
Mr Blair’s opinions, she argued, were “absolutely, consistently wrong, wrong, wrong.”
“More bombing will not solve it, it will just exacerbate it,” she urged.
Socialist Worker, as one would expect, simply regurgitates the line that it’s all the fault of the Western Intervention.
Iraq’s spiral into a new sectarian war is a result of the occupation, and the tactics used by western forces to defeat the 2004 national uprising.
At the time, the US and its coalition allies sought to engineer sectarian tensions to divide a growing national liberation movement.
Perhaps they will enlighten us as to what this “national liberation” movement was, and where it has gone.
What stand then should or could people on the left take on the Iraqi tragedy?
Intervention looks set to exaggerbate the horrors: fueled by the conflicts between a wide range of forces opposed to the Baghdad government (and not just ISIS). Whether Iran and the USA will co-operate, and a host of other ‘whethers and ifs’ do not make other predictions about the outcome easy. There is also this important contribution to consider 7 Myths about the Radical Sunni Advance in Iraq which urges caution on the part of the West and a sobre approach to the threats.
In general, and in respect to intervention, the Stop the War Coalition has got strong arguments on its side.
The Irish left journal Fightback sums up their nature.
The ISIS has its roots in the militias that formed the Iraqi branch of Al-Qaeda. Until recently it was a marginalised group within the Islamist movement which viewed it as too extreme. It gained notoriety for its brutal and barbaric methods of crucifixion and decapitation. It was mainly isolated to desert and tribal areas of western Iraq, where the disintegration of the Iraqi state and the backwardness of these areas allowed ISIS to gain a foothold.
Over the past year, the group has rapidly grown. This, combined with the increased income, allowed it to take bolder initiatives. It is on this basis that the offensive of ISIS could widen out and develop a momentum. From fighting the Iraqi army in the desert and the tribal areas the group moved into the cities. Its success came as a surprise, as it is one thing to to roam around in war ridden Syria and an entirely different matter to fight in Iraq, with its numerically overwhelming army.
The real reason why they could do this is the rotten character of the corrupt gangster regime of Nouri al-Maliki, who has been whipping up sectarian conflict for years. His gangster methods and the widespread corruption has alienated layer after layer of the population. At the same time poverty and unemployment is rife. According to the World Bank, 28% of Iraqi families live below the poverty line. In the event that the country would face a major crisis, such as the armed conflicts of the past year, the organization’s estimates that this rate could increase by 70%. Thousands of families literally feed on garbage and live in landfills and slums.
Whether, as Fightback asserts, ISIS is the “creation of imperialism” is less clear.
The Daily Beast claims the following, “The extremist group that is threatening the existence of the Iraqi state was built and grown for years with the help of elite donors from American supposed allies in the Persian Gulf region. There, the threat of Iran, Assad, and the Sunni-Shiite sectarian war trumps the U.S. goal of stability and moderation in the region.”
More recent funding has come from their control over a variety of rackets and their seizure of oil fields.
This and other aspects of ISIS and their leader, Ibrahim Awwad Ibrahim Ali al-Badri, are analysed at length by specialists.
One thing we can see immediate evidence of is the Sharia law regime they have established in Mosul.
Since taking over Mosul, members of the group have been handing out documents to residents, stating that Islamic law is binding from now on and which ban any contact with the Iraqi government and its institutions.
Police and security forces were given the opportunity to ask for a pardon, and the document stress that those who do not do so are likely to be given a death sentence.
Men will be required to participate in public worship and those who do not will be sentenced to received lashes, while women will be required to cover their faces and remain permanently in their homes and not leave them unless necessary, the documents state.
Robbers and thieves will be sentenced to death, crucifixion or cutting off of hands and feet. Carrying weapons is now prohibited, and the penalty for violating this directive is death.
The group has begun turning southward towards Baghdad, after conquering Mosul and several other northern cities this week in a lightning offensive.
We hardly need to be reminded of their utter and undying hatred of Shias.
There are British jihadists fighting with ISIS.
One wonders if anybody will dare compare them to volunteers defending the Spanish Republic.
Joseph Anton. A Memoir. Salman Rushdie. Jonathan Cape. 2012.
In early September demonstrations against the video The Innocence of Muslims, took place across the world. Wednesday the 19th of the month saw the French leftist satirical weekly, Charlie Hebdo published, to more protests, caricatures of Mohammed.
Two days later, Tahar Ben Jelloun argued, in Le Monde (21.9.12) against any concessions to Islamist inspired rage. He began by asking why Islam seemed so fragile that fiction, cartoons, or a bad film, His answer was the some Moslem countries encouraged this reaction to stave off creating states based on individual rights. Salman Rushdie’s Satanic Verses was the template for this strategy. It been used by the Iranian regime to quash any criticism of Islam, and to cement an “appartence absolue à la communité” (absolute adhesion to the community). Jelloun had no time for the provocations of Charlie. Yet he recommended ignoring them, and turning to the transcendental spirit of Islam.
Tareq Oubrou, the Rector of the Bordeaux Mosque, wrote on the same Le Monde Débats page, even more clearly against those who wished to suppress ‘blasphemy’. “La liberté de conscience et d’expression est un aquis occidental incontesté et incontenstable. Une avancée et un progrès philosophical-moral réels de notre humanité.” – Freedom of speech and conscience are established, unchallenged, and indisputable facts in the West. This is a step forward and real moral and philosophical progress for humanity”. Oubrou did not just repeat the standard argument (even sued by some Islamists, in the absence of a state ruled by the Sharia) that Muslims should submit to French law. All criticism of writing and art should be within their own terms, “La critique d’art se fait par l’art, la philosophie par la philosophie, and les idées par les idées.”
On the publication of Salman Rushdie’s Joseph Anton, at the end that Month Le Monde put the author on the front page followed by a long, respectful, article/interview. It dealt with Rushdie’s criticisms of “Actually Existing Islam” as well as the Satanic Verses and the Khomeini Fatwa that has marked his life.
The present work does not neglect this political-religious theme, “During the worst excesses of Soviet Communism…Western Marxists had tried to distance ‘actually existing Socialism’ from the True Faith, Karl Marx’s vision of equality and justice.” Now, with Communism’s faults there for all to see, “it was no longer possible to believe in a True Faith untainted by the crimes of the real world.” Yet, “as Islamic states forged new tyrannies, and justified many horrors in the name of God, a similar separation was being made by Muslims; so there was the ‘actually existing Islam’ of the bloody theocracies and there was the True Faith of peace and love.” (Page 356) The crisis is profound, and cannot be wished away by this appeal, Rushdie says, “something was eating away at the faith of his grandfather, corroding or corrupting it, making it an ideology of narrowness and intolerance, banning books, persecuting thinkers, erecting absolutions, turning dogma with which to beat the undogmatic. That thing needed to be fought and to fight it one had to name it and the only name that fitted was Islam.”(Pages 356-7) Read the rest of this entry »