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Posts Tagged ‘Syria

Allegations of link-up between Socialist Action, Workers Power and Russian Far-Right.

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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”?

1) http://delyagin.ru/news/81020-rossiya-ukraina-novorossiya-globalnyje-problemy-i-vyzovy.html
2) http://sz-n.com/2014/03/piskorski-head-of-international-observers-in-the-crimea-is-known-fascist-and-anti-semite/

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).

 

Written by Andrew Coates

August 30, 2014 at 4:20 pm

The Wind-Farm Solution to ISIS – Counterpunch

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Counterpunch’s Solution to ISIS Genociders.

Crazy guys, crazy politics, Counterpunch, America’s best-loved satirical magazine has a solution to ISIS!

Yes: absolutely!

Just published:  Bombing is Not the Only Alternative What to Do About ISIS by DAVID SWANSON 

Swanson states,

“Start by recognizing where ISIS came from.”

 We’ll skip this portentous, ponderous, phrases that follow and go straight to the good bits.

This is the programme of Swanson, or What is to Be Done.

1. Apologize for brutalizing the leader of ISIS in Abu Ghraib and to every other prisoner victimized under U.S. occupation.

Indeed, this is certainly the Number One priority.

2. Apologize for destroying the nation of Iraq and to every family there.

I am beginning to wonder who is doing this apologising but I let this go for the moment.

3. Begin making restitution by delivering aid (not “military aid” but actual aid, food, medicine) to the entire nation of Iraq.

4. Apologize for role in war in Syria.

5. Begin making restitution by delivering actual aid to Syria.

Boring bits.

Though again, one asks, who is apologising for war in Syria? Other names, such as Assad might possibly spring to mind.

6. Announce a commitment not to provide weapons to Iraq or Syria or Israel or Jordan or Egypt or Bahrain or any other nation anywhere on earth and to begin withdrawing U.S. troops from foreign territories and seas, including Afghanistan. (The U.S. Coast Guard in the Persian Gulf has clearly forgotten where the coast of the U.S. is!)

Abolish weapons! Or, as the author’s book title goes, “War No More”. 

But the best follows.

7. Announce a commitment to invest heavily in solar, wind, and other green energy and to provide the same to democratic representative governments.

8. Begin providing Iran with free wind and solar technologies — at much lower cost of course than what it is costing the U.S. and Israel to threaten Iran over a nonexistent nuclear weapons program.

Now this is some original blue-skies thinking!

9. End economic sanctions.

10. Send diplomats to Baghdad and Damascus to negotiate aid and to encourage serious reforms.

11. Send journalists, aid workers, peaceworkers, human shields, and negotiators into crisis zones, understanding that this means risking lives, but fewer lives than further militarization risks.

12. Empower people with agricultural assistance, education, cameras, and internet access.

I think ISIS are already pretty good at Internet access and Cameras!

13. Launch a communications campaign in the United States to replace military recruitment campaigns, focused on building sympathy and desire to serve as critical aid workers, persuading doctors and engineers to volunteer their time to travel to and visit these areas of crisis.

14. Work through the United Nations on all of this.

15. Sign the United States on to the International Criminal Court and voluntarily propose the prosecution of top U.S. officials of this and the preceding regimes for their crimes.

Boring.

One might ask if ISIS genociders might also be hauled before this court.

But  Counterpunch seems determined to pursue other paths.

As another author, Deb Reich,  in this vintage edition, says,

Once upon a time, as a few inventive minds labored, most folks said humans cannot fly and are not meant to fly. Then came the airplane. Once upon a time, most folks said the Earth was flat. Then came better instrumentation and braver exploration and, lo and behold, the earth wasn’t flat anymore.

…….

Will we ordinary people, in large enough numbers, awaken in time? Enter, via the GPS of our imagination, the portal to the post-enemies era? Drag with us, kicking and screaming, our makers of policy and our shapers of opinion, our legislators and our law enforcement agencies, over the threshold into the grand new landscape unfolding before us? Stay tuned.

Stay tuned indeed!

Written by Andrew Coates

August 29, 2014 at 10:19 am

As UN denounces War Crimes by Islamists Socialist Worker Refuses to Bow to this Frenzy.

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Just like those defending Spanish Democracy says article in Socialist Worker.

The UN has just made this announcement,

The Syrian government and Islamic State insurgents are both committing war crimes and crimes against humanity in their war against each other, U.N. investigators said on Wednesday.

Islamic State forces in northern Syria are waging a campaign to instill fear, including amputations, public executions and whippings, they said.

Reuters

This follows a story in the Guardian on Monday,

Isis accused of ethnic cleansing as story of Shia prison massacre emerges

As many as 670 prisoners thought killed in Mosul with other abuses reported in Iraq amounting to ‘crimes against humanity’

A few days ago, in what can only be called one of the vilest exercises in whataboutery Socialist Worker published this week this apology for the racist genociders of ISIS/Islamic State.

There is resistance to this frenzy of Islamophobia by Hassan Mahamdallie, co-director of the Muslim Institute.

Mahamdallie begins by making a string of unsavoury comparisons.

The beheading of US journalist James Foley by the Islamic State, formerly known as Isis, was horrific. But is the Nigerian military slitting the throats of 16 young men and boys any less horrific?

Or last week’s Israeli air strike that blew to smithereens the wife and seven month old son of Hamas military leader Mohammed Deif? Surely that was horrific and disturbing too?

One atrocity was carried out by a murderer who calls himself Muslim. The second was sanctioned by a head of state who calls himself Christian. And the last was executed by an entity that defines itself as an exclusively Jewish state.

That is to ignore the widespread revulsion at the religious and ethnic cleansing by the genociders of ISIS/Islamic State.

That is, the suffering of the hundreds of thousands of Yazidis, Christians, Kurds and Turkomans massacred, tortured and driven from their homes in Iraq. The same gang is carrying out these actions in Syria.

One might imagine a few words on this topic.

But the eminently self-righteous Mahamdallie remains fixed to the Foley murder.

He comments that,

Yet only one triggered convulsions of outrage, with calls from the establishment in Britain and the US to take action. Madness descended yet again.

Continuing in this vein he comments on the condemnation of the Foley decapitation (though he is too polite to use this word) made by former Labour foreign minister Kim Howells and makes this observation that he should look into his own past and see how people are motivated to fight in wars. That is, one fight in particular, the defence of the Spanish Republic against the Franco-Led armies.

In the 1930s radicalised young men from the same mining communities illegally made their way into Spain to take up arms against general Franco’s fascist army.

He then takes time, a long long time,  to pass smug comments ridiculing British Muslims who have denounced the genociders – for a variety of reasons. Apparently Muslims should not be asked their opinion on Muslim groups and Muslim religious authorities should not have to speak about those  who declare themselves the only true Muslims.

The (former) Senior Officer, Diversity, Arts Council England  concludes that he prefers this response from the leader of the Lewisham Mosque,

The press asked him to condemn a tweet from a woman “Jihadi” in Syria who might have once attended the mosque.

He retorted, “The young woman’s desire to travel to Syria has nothing to do with the Centre. Unfortunately, the Muslim community are being subjected to a burden of proof based on a ‘guilty by association’ standard”.

Not a word of condemnation for the religious and ethnic cleansing.

But instead this,  “It was good to see someone refusing to bow to the frenzy, a spark of resistance in a very dark week.”

No doubt Socialist Worker will applaud a  “spark of resistance” to the “frenzy” of the  UN announcement.

Update: Amongst Comments on Facebook about the Socialist Worker article,

“It doesn’t just ‘blur the distinction’ between ISIS and the International Brigades, it effectively equates them. This ranks it among the most odious pieces I have come across in over 30 years of reading the far left press. Disgusting is the only word for it.” (D.O)

Written by Andrew Coates

August 27, 2014 at 11:24 am

Islamist ‘Freedom Fighters’.

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Khaled Sharrouf's son, believed to be aged seven, had to use both hands to hoist the decapitated head up as he posed for a chilling photo in the northern Syrian city of Raqqa

This is Islamist ‘Freedom Fighters’.

Pictures of a father and son proudly posing with the decapitated head of a Syrian soldier were posted on Twitter.

The 7-year-old child who was pictured holding the decapitated head of a Syrian soldier is believed to be the son of Australia‘s most-wanted terrorist and jihadi fighter, Khaled Sharrouf.

The horrific picture was captioned “That’s my boy.”

Another picture showed Sharrouf holding the same decapitated head with the caption “What a head.”

Written by Andrew Coates

August 13, 2014 at 9:49 am

Declaration of Islamic State, the ‘Caliphate’

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Hudūd Penalties and Tax on Kuffār: The Caliphate.  

Al-Jazeera Reports,

A Sunni armed group which controls large areas of Iraq and Syria has announced the establishment of a “caliphate” straddling the two countries, urging other groups to pledge allegiance.

In an audio recording released on Sunday, the group formerly known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant declared its chief, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, “the caliph” and “leader for Muslims everywhere”.

“The legality of all emirates, groups, states and organisations becomes null by the expansion of the caliph’s authority and the arrival of its troops to their areas,” said the group’s spokesman Abu Mohamed al-Adnani. “Listen to your caliph and obey him. Support your state, which grows every day.”

As another  source (The Long War Journal)  says,

“The lengthy statement largely defends the Islamic State’s decision to announce the formation of the Caliphate, a controversial move that is sure to send shockwaves throughout the jihadist world

Here are some extracts,

This Is the Promise of Allah.

“succession is to utilize all that for the purpose of compelling the people to do what the Sharia (Allah’s law) requires of them concerning their interests in the hereafter and worldly life, which can only be achieved by carrying out the command of Allah, establishing His religion, and referring to His law for judgment.”

“The time has come for those generations that were drowning in oceans of disgrace, being nursed on the milk of humiliation, and being ruled by the vilest of all people, after their long slumber in the darkness of  neglect – the time has come for them to rise. The time has come for the ummah of Muhammad (peace be upon him) to wake up from its sleep, remove the garments of dishonor, and shake off the dust of  humiliation and disgrace, for the era of lamenting and moaning has gone, and the dawn of honor has  emerged anew. The sun of jihad has risen. The glad tidings of good are shining. Triumph looms on the horizon. The signs of victory have appeared.”

“Here the flag of the Islamic State, the flag of tawhīd (monotheism), rises and flutters. Its shade covers land from Aleppo to Diyala. Beneath it, the walls of the tawāghīt (rulers claiming the rights of Allah) have been demolished, their flags have fallen, and their borders have been destroyed. Their soldiers are either  killed, imprisoned, or defeated. The Muslims  are honored.”

“Ahlus-Sunnah (The Sunnis) are masters and are esteemed.”

“The hudūd (Sharia penalties) are implemented – the hudūd of Allah – all of them. The frontlines are defended. Crosses and graves are demolished. Prisoners are released by the edge of the sword. The people in the
lands of the State move about for their livelihood and journeys, feeling safe regarding their lives and wealth. Wulāt (plural of wālī or “governors”) and judges have been appointed. Jizyah (a tax imposed on kuffār) has been enforced. Fay’ (money taken from the kuffār without battle) and zakat (obligatory alms) have been collected. Courts have been established to resolve disputes and complaints.”

It does not take much imagination to see that this is a totalitarian hell-hole.

One wonders how some on the  ‘left’ like Socialist Worker continue to come out with lines like the following,

“Muslims who want to fight Bashar al-Assad’s dictatorship in Syria and now the government in Iraq are being portrayed as the major problem.

The politicians and police never consider the feeling of injustice and persecution that leads young men to want to go and fight.”

It would be more accurate to say that the minority of Muslims from Europe,  who respond to the call of the Caliphate, wish to inflict injustice and persecution.

 

Written by Andrew Coates

June 30, 2014 at 12:19 pm

Iraq: Qualified Support for the Stop the War Coalition?

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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.

Independent.

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.

Morning Star. More from Lindsey German on the Stop the War Coalition site.

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.

ISIS.

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.

But we should not forget who ISIS (Islamic State in Iraq and Syria or Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham) (Arabicالدولة الاسلامية في العراق والشام‎ ʾad-dawla ʾal-islāmiyya fīl-‘irāq waš-šām) are.

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.

ISIS rebels have also implemented Sharia law in areas of Syria which it has taken over. Steps taken include a ban on mannequins in shop displays as well as a ban on singing and dancing at weddings.

Al-Qaeda affiliated jihadist rebel groups in Syria have also warned citizens against “hurting the dignity” of the prophet Muhammad, threatening those who do so with execution. Here.

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.

Written by Andrew Coates

June 17, 2014 at 10:55 am

Is George Monbiot a Fascist Fellow-Traveller?

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File:George Monbiot (cropped).jpg

Is George Monbiot a Fascist Fellow-Traveller? 

Citing George Orwell is a venerable tradition in political debate.

Often it’s simply to score points, usually against the left. Sometimes it is – still – used to great effect. Jean-Claude Michea, deeply inspired by Orwell, wrote  in 2008, a polemic which uncovered the “doublethink’ of contemporary economic liberalism. (La double pensée : Retour sur la question libérale).

One would have expected George Monbiot, whose writing including debunking climate-change deniers, and the way free-market economics have made the State “captive”, to have followed in Michea’s line and kept writing about subjects he knows something about.

Not so.

He has gone beyond quoting Orwell to using the man’s – heroic – decision in the 1930s to fight to defend the elected Spanish republic to endorse his sympathetic stand on  those fighting jihad in Syria. This takes some gumption. But, as an apparent authority on the ramifications of this conflict, he has been given prominent space to expound his opinions.

Monbiot’s column appears under this headline,

Orwell was hailed a hero for fighting in Spain. Today he’d be guilty of terrorism Guardian.

The International Brigades are acclaimed for bravery. But British citizens who fight in Syria are damned. If only they did it for the money.

Monbiot’s main gripe is with the anti-terrorism laws.

He writes,

If George Orwell and Laurie Lee were to return from the Spanish civil war today, they would be arrested under section five of the Terrorism Act 2006. If convicted of fighting abroad with a “political, ideological, religious or racial motive” – a charge they would find hard to contest – they would face a maximum sentence of life in prison. That they were fighting to defend an elected government against a fascist rebellion would have no bearing on the case. They would go down as terrorists.

People fighting against forces that run a system of industrialised torture and murder and are systematically destroying entire communities could be banged up for life for their pains. Is this any fairer than imprisoning Orwell would have been?

Mobiot expresses some reservations,

I accept that some British fighters in Syria could be changed by their experience. I also accept that some are already motivated by the prospect of fighting a borderless jihad, and could return to Britain with the skills required to pursue it. But this is guilt by association.

But the war, the holy jihad in Syria,  itself appears just.

To prove this he  cites this – single –  case,

Last week a British man who called himself Abu Suleiman al-Britani drove a truck full of explosives into the gate of Halab prison in Aleppo. The explosion, in which he died, allowed rebel fighters to swarm into the jail and release 300 prisoners. Was it terrorism or was it heroism? Terrorism, according to many commentators.

It’s true that he carried out this act in the name of the al-Nusra Front, which the British government treats as synonymous with al-Qaida. But can anyone claim that liberating the inmates of Syrian government prisons is not a good thing? We now know that at least 11,000 people have been killed in these places, and that many were tortured to death.

Last week we referred to the case of British Muslim Iftikhar Jaman. He was a member of ISIS and was killed by Kurdish freedom-fighters.

Who are ISIS?

Torture, flogging, and summary killings are rife in secret prisons run by the Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), an armed group that controls large areas of northern Syria , said Amnesty International in a briefing published today.ISIS , which claims to apply strict Shari’a (Islamic law) in areas it controls, has ruthlessly flouted the rights of local people. In the 18-page briefing, Rule of fear: ISIS abuses in detention in northern Syria , Amnesty International identifies seven detention facilities that ISIS uses in al-Raqqa governorate and Aleppo .

Let’s forget what harm these jihadists may do if and when they return to Europe.What of the above?

They are now slaughtering innocents – though perhaps Syrians do not count for Monbiot.

Monbiot has responded to critics by writing,

First, it would be wrong to assume that all British fighters going to Syria are affiliated with the ANF, which is part of the point I’m making. Secondly that just because someone is doesn’t mean that what their subsequent actions are necessarily wrong. I find it hard to see al-Britani’s action in seeking to liberate a prison as an act of terrorism. If there is such a thing as a legitimate act of war, that, I believe, is an example.

We can debate the issue of the anti-terrorism laws.

But a “legitimate act of war”?

The jihadists, including the Al-Nusra Front, are  equally accused of tortures and the murder of civilians.

They are not fighting against the Baathists in the name of  a democratic state. Their aim is the caliphate: a theocracy in which human rights have no place.

It is hard to see how exactly they resemble any of the  political forces in the Spanish civil war. But certainly their practice and ideology has something in common with fascism.

Orwell always emphasised the need to use political language with precision.

So we ask, and do not answer, the question: by giving credibility to the Syrian jihadists is George Monbiot a fascist fellow-traveller?

Written by Andrew Coates

February 12, 2014 at 10:52 am