Russia-Israel military alliance in Syria is a breakthrough.
Left Socialist Blog
‘Tacit Agreement’ on Syria in Sight?
The agreement reached in Moscow between the Russian President Vladimir Putin and the Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu on a “mechanism to prevent misunderstandings between Israel and Syria” is to influence the power balance in the Middle East, Avigdor Eskin, the Israeli publicist told Pravda.Ru in an interview.
The Russian-Israeli joint military group will coordinate operations in Syria. This military cooperation is the first one since foundation of the Israeli state, Eskin noted. The military alliance will operate without the US as well as other Western countries. The parties have one opponent, that is the Islamic State, and misunderstandings can occur only on the Syria’s helping Hezbollah, which is declared a terror organization in Israel.
What about Bashar al-Assad, the expert says that the Israeli authorities realized that only his army can oppose the radical Islam, and he is the only intelligible negotiation leverage in Syria. Jihadists, which are currently in the Golan Heights (a disputed area between Israel and Syria) for instance, are backed by the US, and attack the Israeli territory.
Russia and the United States have reached a “tacit agreement” on ending Syria’s bloody crisis, a senior adviser to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has said.
Damascus (Agence France Press 24.9.15.)
“The current US administration wants to find a solution to the crisis in Syria. There is a tacit agreement between the US and Russia to reach this solution,” Bouthaina Shaaban said in an interview with state television late Wednesday.
“The US recognises now that Russia has profound knowledge of this region and a better assessment of the situation,” she said.
“The current international climate is heading towards detente and towards a solution for the crisis in Syria.”
Shaaban said there was a “change in the West’s positions” over Syria’s war, which has killed more than 240,000 people and displaced millions since 2011.
The main message of the former diplomat was the Russia was focused on the threat from violent Islamism, Daesh. The US had not been able to create an alternative to Assad and to the genocidal Islamists. In present conditions – not least the humanitarian crisis – it was important to get rid of the Islamic State before anything else.
Snyder noted that Putin had a long history of backing authoritarian regimes and had created problems in the Ukraine.
Which did not answer the point about the Middle East and defeating the Islamic State.
“Russia has provided and will provide adequate support to the legitimate government of Syria in the fight against extremists and terrorists of all kinds,” Ilya Rogachev, head of Russian Foreign Ministry’s Department for New Challenges and Threats, told RIA Novosti on Thursday.
Moscow announced Thursday it plans to hold naval exercises in the eastern Mediterranean Sea in September and October. On Wednesday, the Syrian military for the first time began using Russian drones, and the army has previously received at least five fighter jets along with tanks and artillery.
Now that Russia is militarily involved in Syria, there has been “a change in the West’s positions” over the Syrian war and the crisis “is heading towards detente and towards a solution,” according to Assad’s adviser.
As Stratfor writes, “Russia has rightfully judged that its direct intervention in Syria will force Washington to begin direct military-to-military talks with Moscow on the conflict.”
The White House announced Thursday that Obama and Putin will meet Monday afternoon in New York during a three-day session of the U.N. General Assembly, reported The New York Times. The two will discuss the conflicts in both Syria and Ukraine.
The wider consequences of this change are too great to be examined here.
The mention of Iraq, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Iran should make it obvious that the complexities of whatever is being negotiated are enormous.
But we can observe some effects on UK domestic politics, specifically on the left and foreign policy:
It will be interesting, to say the least, to see how these two opposing groupings react to developments in the coming days.
Downing Street has refused to comment on extraordinary allegations made in a new book that David Cameron performed an obscene act with a dead pig and smoked cannabis while he was at Oxford University.
The allegation is that,
His extraordinary suggestion is that the future PM inserted a private part of his anatomy into the animal’s mouth.
I must confess a disagreement with our esteemed colleagues of the Independent when they say that the French media has dismissed these claims.
David Cameron accusé d’avoir mis son sexe dans la bouche d’un cochon mort Créé : 21-09-2015 11:20
Which translates as Daic Cameron is accused of having stuck his knob in the mouth of a dead pig.
VIE ETUDIANTE – Une biographie publiée au Royaume-Uni lève le voile sur la jeunesse du Premier ministre britannique à l’université d’Oxford. Au programme : soirées alcoolisées et rite d’initiation à base de cochon mort…
Meanwhile the attention of international progressives is focused on Kermit’s Fate.
One further point: how Cameron is going to face to House of Commons, or indeed walking down a street, without shouts of ‘Oink oink’ remains to be covered.
But others have pointed out many newspapers worldwide used those images to make a political point. Why can’t Charlie Hebdo?
Charlie was mocking European states.
It was mocking Christian ‘Charity’.
A subject on which the Daily Mail is no doubt an expert.
Comrade Peter Tatchell Speaks for our Left.
This article expresses the views of many of us on the democratic socialist left.
A Corbyn premiership would reverse damaging, cruel welfare cuts and the privatisation of vital public services. He’d tackle climate destruction, rocketing rents and house prices. Trident renewal, foreign wars and the sinister Transatlantic Trade & Investment Partnership would be nixed. His administration would bring rail and energy companies back into decentralised public ownership. All sensible, compassionate policies. Good for him.
In my book, he is head and shoulders above all the other Labour leadership candidates, both in terms of his past political record and his political agenda for the future. But the single most important over-arching reason for supporting Jeremy is that Britain needs to turn away from the flawed and failed policies of business as usual. He is shaking up the establishment and breaking with the cosy political consensus that has been shared by Labour, Conservatives, Lib Dems and UKIP. The mainstream, middle-of-the-road policies of the last decade are not the answer. All they offer is more of the same, which is what got us into the current mess.
Comrade Peter’s article is lengthy and merits a full read.
Those will long-memories will recall that Peter has been important contributor to Labour Briefing – a significant part of the Labour left backing Jeremy Corbyn. He has also been on the Socialist Society’s Steering Committee. He is well-known to “our” left.
That is apart from all the other campaigns and issues he has fought for so bravely.
Peter Tatchell is one of the most respected and genuine people many of us know.
After having given due weight to his merits, and the immense hope Jeremy Corbyn represents, he sums up our reservations.
Since Jeremy has his heart in the right place and is not an Islamist, Holocaust denier or anti-Semite, I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt. Nonetheless, he has been careless in not checking out who he shares platforms with and been too willing to associate uncritically with the Islamist far right.
While I’m certain that Jeremy doesn’t share their extremist views, he does need to explain in more detail why he has attended and spoken at meetings alongside some pretty unsavoury bigots who advocate human rights abuses – and especially why he did so without publicly criticising their totalitarian politics.
He also notes problems with the stand taken on Hamas, Hezbollah, Russia and Ukraine.
There is much to say on these issues, and others – but read the article.
I will concentrate on those who are crowing that Corbyn’s opposition to direct Western intervention in Syria is another reason why he is unfit to lead the Labour Party.
One of the more distasteful claims now being made is that full-throttled backing of the Syrian opposition would have stopped the present refugee crisis.
What exactly that mean became clear as the conflict escalated in 2012- 2013 and voices became louder and louder that there should have been armed intervention, helped by aerial bombardments.
Those leading the charges against Corbyn were amongst the forces putting pressure for the British government to support military action in Syria.
Parliament voted in August 2013 against this. “David Cameron said he would respect the defeat of a government motion by 285-272, ruling out joining US-led strikes.”
They, above the ‘Eustonites’ and the Labour right-wing, including Blogs such as Harry’s Place, have not forgiven Jeremy Corbyn for helping in the defeat of this move.
It is clearer nevertheless, by the day, that the “opposition” in Syria, that is armed groups, that would have been aided by these measures were the very Islamist genociders (in ‘moderate’ killer or ‘extremist’ killer guise) who now create mass misery.
The result would probably have been, as Phil states, the premises are skewed.
The injection of large numbers of US and UK troops might have brought about an Afghanistan/Iraq-style “solution” with all the anti-insurgency actions and casualties that would have entailed, but IS would have been locked out. However, as we know neither the public nor for that matter the political and military elites were taken with such a scenario. Perhaps timing could have made a difference. Had the bombs fallen on Damascus earlier today’s crisis might have been avoided. Possibly, but as the last foray into Libya showed early intervention is no guarantee of success. If the bombs had landed in support of the 2011 uprisings, what has befallen Tripoli, Benghazi, etc. could be a window into the road not taken in Syria. That, however, was never on the table.
This was, and remains, no democratic alternative to the Assad tyranny with the force to replace it.
What can we do?
Peter’s statement on the present state of the Syrian civil war is important.
On Syria, Jeremy seems to have no policies, apart from “Don’t bomb Syria”. I concur. We don’t want escalation and war. But surely 250,000 dead, 1.5 million wounded and 10 million refugees merits some action? Total inaction aids the survival of Assad and Isis (IS).
A good start might be a UN General Assembly-authorised no-fly zone, arms embargo, peacekeepers and civilian safe havens – plus cutting funding to the IS and Assad armies by a UN blockade of oil sales.
Such measures – enforced by non-Western states such as Argentina, India, Brazil, Nigeria and South Africa – would help de-escalate the conflict and reduce casualties. Jeremy’s wariness of intervention is understandable. I share it. But surely a UN mandate designed to limit war fighting is reasonable and legitimate for a left-wing candidate?
Peter also speaks on a subject dear to our heart: the Tendance has supported movements of solidarity with the Iranian people, such as Hands off the People of Iran * – which is both anti-Theocracy and for human rights in Iran, and against Western Military intervention.
Like Jeremy, I don’t want war with Iran. I opposed the indiscriminate, blanket Western sanctions that hurt ordinary Iranians. But I’ve struggled to find examples of where he has spoken out against Iran’s mass jailing and torture of trade unionists, students, journalists, lawyers, feminists, human rights defenders and sexual, religious and ethnic minorities (such as the Arabs, Kurds, Azeris and Baluchs). Why the silence? He often and loudly criticises Saudi Arabia. Why not Iran?
It is very distressing to see Jeremy appear on the Iranian regime’s propaganda channel Press TV, especially after it defamed peaceful protesters and covered up state violence at the time of the rigged presidential elections in 2009. Moreover, how can Jeremy (and George Galloway) appear on Press TV, despite it broadcasting forced confessions by democrats and human-rights defenders who’ve been tortured into admitting false charges, and who are later executed?
Based on these serious lapses, Jeremy’s critics say his foreign policies make him unfit to be Labour leader and prime minister. I understand some of their reservations, but they ignore all the international issues where Jeremy has a superb record, including support for serious action against global poverty and the arms trade, and his opposition to the Saudi Arabian and Bahraini dictatorships (two tyrannies that most other MPs ignore and which Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and David Cameron have actively colluded with). Moreover, Jeremy’s been a long-time champion of the dispossessed Chagos Islanders, Kurds, Palestinians and Western Sahrawis. Few other MPs have shown similar concern about the fate of most of these peoples.
We are immensely glad that Peter has spoken out.
John Prescott: Comrade.
The Tendance, old liquidationist Pabloites as we are, has always had a soft spot for John Prescott.
There’s that time he phoned me up – late, but obviously during House of Commons Bar opening times – and we had a chat, about this and that.
He struck me, as he does most labour movement people we know him, as a genuine man of the left, one of ‘us’.
Marginalised, and patronised by Blair, treated as a bleeding idiot, he kept his corner.
He did his best against the privateers running down the transport of this country, stuck up for the environment, was none too clever about Council Housing, and was – we now know – capable of arguing against the Iraq War.
He even went to Ruskin, like my dad.
Though my dad didn’t end up in the House of Lords.
Today I got an E-Mail from John, obviously personally addressed, to my good self.
Hello comrade! (We can still say that can’t we?).
I’m going to break the habit of a lifetime and be brief.
This leadership election is nearly over, and it looks like it’s down to a choice between Jeremy Corbyn and Andy Burnham.
I was glad I encouraged MPs to nominate Jeremy to get him into this race because we really needed a debate on Labour’s future.
And what a debate it’s been! People are flocking to meetings, our number of members and supporters has tripled and there’s a buzz about Labour again.
But now you need to decide who’s the best person to lead us back to power in 2020.
And for me, that person is Andy Burnham.
From progressive renationalisation of our railways to integrating social care into our NHS, Andy has the ideas, experience and passion to unite this party and put our traditional values in a modern setting.
We need a leader who won’t just lead protests ON Downing Street. Andy’s the best candidate to march us back INTO Downing Street.
Because if we don’t choose a leader who can win in 2020, we’ll give the Tory’s another five years of misrule to hit the poor and dismantle everything we achieved in Government.
So if you haven’t yet, please vote for Andy today.
The future of our country and our party depends on it.
And you’ll make me happy too!
Today Andy Burnham has made a final appeal to voters in the Labour Party election (Independent).
I know you feel like we we’ve been dancing to the tune of the Conservative Party for too long. It’s no wonder people think we’re all the same when they can’t see the difference between us and the Tories on key issues like education and social security.
You want a bolder, more principled Labour Party. And you want us to be clearer about where we oppose the Tories. So here are five key commitments I will make if you elect me leader.
I will oppose the extension of right-to-buy to housing associations. Right-to-buy has created a dysfunctional housing market that doesn’t work for people anymore. Instead we should be championing policies such as ‘rent to own’ and allow councils to borrow money councils so they can build more homes.
I will oppose the Tories’ latest damaging changes to our education system. I will stand up for comprehensive education against the enforced academisation of schools. The values of comprehensive education should be as intrinsic to our party as the values of the NHS.
3. Trade unions
I will fight against the Conservative campaign to demonise the trades unions. I will defend the ability of the unions to defend Britain’s workers. I will lead outright opposition to the cynical Trade Union Bill and will be a proud defender of the Labour movement.
I will lead the opposition to the Welfare Bill. I am proud of what the last Labour Government did to lift children and disabled people from poverty and to help low paid workers with tax credits. The Welfare Bill will move the clock backwards and unfairly punish disabled people.
I will win the 2020 election general election. The polls have shown that, of all the candidates standing to be leader, I am best placed to win for Labour. I won’t just take the Tories on, I’ll kick them out of government.
So under my leadership we will fight the next election on a radical manifesto, with bold ideas such as integrating the NHS and social care, and renationalising the railways. I will set out exactly how we will pay for each policy, leaving no doubt in people’s minds that we are a principled Labour Party, ready for government.
To the thousands of people still undecided on how to vote, I say very clearly: don’t give up on wanting to see big changes, but don’t give up on winning either. The stakes for our party and the country couldn’t be higher.
I am sorry not to make my old mucker John happy.
I voted Jeremy Corbyn: the best anti-austerity candidate, and somebody with a solid socialist background and policies.
But I put Andy Burnham as my second preference.
John is obviously not planning to join the Kendall Resistance, and certainly does not share Yvette Cooper’s dislike of ‘boys’ toys’ like trains and cars.
I hope that Corbyn and Burnham can work together.
More…. Andy Burnham makes a pitch for Labour’s leftwing vote (Guardian)
An impassioned article has just appeared on the Guardian site.
Rosie Fletcher writes,
My many criticisms of Labour in recent years – its milquetoast defence of its economic record, its lack of direction, skittering whichever way the tabloid wind blows, its bland, sputtering lack of passion – distanced me from them. But I saw May’s defeat as an opportunity to revitalise the party, along with tens of thousands of others, many of whom, like me, are young people whose futures are being clouded by the Tory present.
I joined before Jeremy Corbyn had even removed his hat to throw it into the ring, but he’s not only got the policies to clear those clouds, but also the passionate support needed to do so.
Jeremy Corbyn’s backers, that is the Socialist Campaign Group of MPs, and others, such as the activists’ alliance, the Labour Representation Committee (Labour Briefing) have been arguing for a positive alternative to Labour Party national policies, for many years.
So many that we are perhaps we were convinced that nothing would change in the Party – which some of us left (although if union members we have been affiliates in a sense already: I voted in my union’s elections for the last leadership candidate).
We were however convinced that Ed Miliband served our full support in the May General Election.
On issues like the Living Wage, workers’ rights, progressive taxation and defence of public services (particularly welfare and education) we saw Miliband as a step forward.
He was unable to successfully defend Labour’s past economic record in the face of mendacious Tory attacks.
He did not clearly come out against austerity, or the wholesale give-away of public services to private chancers – at present enjoying a continued bonanza at the expense of the rest of the population.
He did not tackle head on the anti-migrant message of the other parties, or the anti-welfare message of the free-market right.
But, it must be said that Miliband was more open to the labour movement, new radical ideas, and wider left-wing opinion that his predecessors.
Many of us gave practical support to Labour during the election.
We too do not relish being treated as potential infiltrators.
Rosie Fletcher notes,
as a young Labour member, it’s often hard to discuss Corbyn with – shall we say? – more seasoned voters. It can feel as though an official opinion has been issued. If in doubt, one can, should the topic of the Labour leadership come up, simply pronounce: “Of course, Corbyn is totally unelectable” and feel as if one has contributed something at least. We have reached consensus without giving him an opportunity to disprove it, despite his progress from being eminently electable in Islington to imminently electable as Labour leader.
I would take this argument seriously.
But the counter-argument is that if we wish Labour to be a copy of the Conservatives, backing welfare cuts for example, then people will vote for the original and the not the copy.
I am not so overcome with Corbymania that I believe Comrade Jez to be perfect and his leadership of Labour – should it happen –as the first step to a sort of socialist version of the 1970s’ Coca Cola commercials, where we not only buy the world a Coke, but seize the means to produce it as well.
Perhaps we are much too old to even begin to think in these terms!
The accusations surrounding his less savoury associations need a robust response, more than just a denial of antisemitism. His detractors should, however, consider the paradox held within complaining about the company Corbyn keeps and then parroting Tony Blair.
As indeed they should.
Not everybody agrees with what Jeremy Corbyn has said on foreign policy issues.
We need, just to cite one case, a strong response of complete opposition to all forms of Islamist reaction just as much as opposition to Western intervention in the Middle East. The sight of British volunteers for the jihadist genociders – people who go to murder our Syrian, Iraq, Kurdish, Yadzidi and Assyrian sisters and brothers – cannot be dismissed as a product of the ‘West’s’ crimes. They are responsible for their actions and should be judged for them.
We need practical backing for our Kurdish sisters and brothers, against Turkey’s Erdoğan and the Jihadist killers.
But we have confidence in the ability of people, with a new and open Labour Party, to bring these views into debate.
Jeremy Corbyn is the Chair of the very respected human rights and anti-colonial organisation, Liberation (ex-Movement for Colonial Freedom). Liberation campaigns for human rights without exception. It has taken up not only the case of the Palestinians but, amongst many others, that of secularists in Bangladesh, the victims of Islamism in Sudan, and (as Stephen Marks notes in the comments here) has, with Jeremy Corbyn, been promoting the Kurdish cause for many many years.
We would hope that this activity is better known.
Back to the Past?
These patrician warnings that Corbyn only serves to drag Labour backwards serve to make me, as a young voter, feel patronised and unwanted. I had never considered that Corbyn was a throwback until people started banging on about how bad the 1980s were, seemingly forgetting that we are not actually electing a leader to be sent back in time into the exact circumstances of Jim Callaghan’s resignation. You’d think Michael Foot himself was running, attending debates in a hammer and sickle-print donkey jacket, from the amount we’ve been talking about him.
There were patrician predictions of dire consequences of radical policies at every stage in the left’s history…
Unfortunately we recall the 1980s campaigns against left-wingers, feminists and anti-racists, all too well.
Barely a day went past without a story about the “loony left”.
Let’s not talk about Michael Foot. We should look at somebody, who was greatly loved, and who tried to make a difference to the world, starting from where she lived, Haringey
Mandy helped set up the “Positive Images” campaign. This was after controversy was whipped up over the inclusion of a statement in the 1986 Haringey Labour Party manifesto, which committed Haringey Council to devote resources to “to promote Positive images of gay men and lesbians”.
Nobody, today, would accuse this initiative of being extremist madness.
But this is exactly what happened.
When Bernie Grant stepped down as Leader of Haringey Council, following his selection as the Labour Candidate in Tottenham; Steve King and Martha Osamor took over as Leader and Deputy Leader of the Council, and for a short while the left was in the ascendancy. But the Labour right wing within the Haringey Labour Group, soon organised to replace them. This they achieved in 1987, and immediately the new leader began making significant cuts from the autumn of 1987 onwards. In response, Mandy and Mike Marqusee initiated through Haringey Labour Briefing, an attempt to build mass resistance to the cuts by setting up “Haringey Fights Back”. Public meetings and mass lobbies were organised, whilst inside the Labour Party attempts to get councillors to oppose the cuts continued.
Then there was the evening of 10th December 1987 when the Haringey Labour Party Local Government Committee met to discuss the cuts. Heated discussion took place. Finally the riot police, already deployed within the Haringey Civic; were used to clear the public gallery during the course of the meeting. Two councillors and two labour party activists were arrested. A complaint was subsequently made against Mandy and she was charged with “a sustained course of conduct prejudicial to the Party”.
It was at this point that the attempt to smear and discredit Mandy began in the national media. She was turned into a national hate figure, with the clear intention of undermining her leadership of the campaign against the cuts. The attack was vicious and very personal. She found herself on the front page of the Sun and door stepped, having to climb over a garden wall and out through a neighbour’s door in order to be able to get off to work. Various attempts were made to get her employer to take action against her. One example of this was an article in the Daily Mail on 11th February 1988, in which Richard Littlejohn wrote: Appointing Mandy Mudd as a school governor is as appropriate as putting Kurt Waldheim in charge of a holiday camp. Do you want her ruining your daughter’s education? I don’t.”
Mandy did not shut up.
There were many Mandies, and many of us are still around.
Perhaps Rosie you can now realise how we react to the press campaign against Jeremy Corbyn.
Corbyn is inspiring passion, enthusiasm and motivation. People want something different. He is packing out halls, bringing in new supporters and new voters. Imagine what Labour could do if they harness that over the next four years, rather than throwing away the harness and then shooting the horse and setting the barn on fire for good measure.