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Comrade Peter Tatchell Speaks for Us: Back Corbyn and Raise Human Rights Issues with him.

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Comrade Peter Tatchell Speaks for our Left.

I’m backing Jeremy Corbyn for Labour leadership, despite his unsavoury “friends. By

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.

Could Bombing Have Averted the Syrian Refugee Crisis?

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?

He concludes,

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.

Sparticist League Backing ISIS: Once Again.

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Sparts Campaigning.

Spartacist League Forms Syrian Battalion in Support of ISIS

RAQQAH, SYRIA – Marking the first time since the Bolivian National Revolution that Trotskyists have rallied in armed defence of their values, members of the Spartacist League of Britain have travelled to “the Caliphate” in order to defend ISIS from “imperialism”.

The formation of the so-called “Hammer Battalion” follows an announcement earlier this week of Spartacist League support for ISIS military victory.

“However, a senior ISIS source has hinted that not everyone in the movement is supportive of the group’s actions: “They spend more time condemning others for not being ISIS enough than actually fighting. Three of our best men were killed last month in a fight over whether the Soviet Union was a ‘deformed’ or ‘degenerated’ worker’s state.”

See more on Workers’ Spatula.

The source for this?

SL/B National Conference Summer 2015. The fight for a Leninist party

We must guard against a tendency, noted in the documents adopted by the December 2014 plenums of the ICL International Executive Committee and the SL/US Central Committee, to succumb to the pressure bearing down on our party to weaken our opposition to imperialism. The reintegration of Crimea into Russia in the aftermath of an imperialist-sponsored, fascist-infested coup in Kiev and the referenda for “self-rule” in the East Ukrainian provinces of Donetsk and Luhansk were largely met with howls of outrage by the liberal and reformist left in the West…. We took a correct, Leninist stance in forthrightly declaring “Crimea is Russian” and in defending the right to self-rule in Eastern Ukraine.

The US, supported by Britain, is now at war with the Islamic State (ISIS), which was initially funded by extremist Wahhabis in Saudi Arabia. [An IS motion of 23 October 2014 said:] “We have a military side with the reactionary ISIL when it engages in military conflict with the imperialists and their local forces on the ground, including the Iraqi Kurdish pesh merga, the Baghdad government, Shi’ite militias and the Syrian Kurds. We give no political support to any of these retrograde forces.”…

The justification?

Here is some background:

Workers Vanguard 3rd of April 2015.

It is the duty of class-conscious workers everywhere, particularly in the U.S., to oppose all wars and occupations carried out by the imperialists. When the U.S. began air strikes against ISIS last year, we explained that “any force, however unsavory, that attacks, repels or otherwise impedes U.S. forces strikes a blow in the interests of the exploited and the oppressed” (“U.S. Out of Iraq! No Intervention in Syria!” WV No. 1051, 5 September 2014). We take a military side with ISIS when it targets the imperialists and forces acting as their proxies, including the Baghdad government and the Shi’ite militias as well as the Kurdish pesh merga forces in Northern Iraq and the Syrian Kurdish nationalists. This does not mean we give the slightest political support to the reactionary ISIS butchers.

 

Workers Hammer(UK) Winter 2014 – 15.

Many liberals and reformist organisations, while claiming to oppose the imperialists’ intervention in Syria/Iraq, are simultaneously backing the Kurdish forces that are acting as imperialist proxies. In the battle for the predominantly Kurdish city of Kobani in northern Syria, the US has carried out airstrikes against ISIS and dropped arms and other supplies to fighters on the ground, mainly from the military wing of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), which is allied to the nationalist Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) based in Turkey. PYD military forces are acting as ground troops and spotters for the US imperialists, thus tying the fortunes of the oppressed Kurdish population to the imperialists’ war against ISIS. While we uphold the right of national self-determination for the Kurdish people, who are oppressed by the bourgeois regimes in Iran, Iraq, Syria and Turkey, “championing the Kurds in the current conflict can only mean lending support to imperialist plunder”, as we explain in “Down with US/British war against ISIS!”

Workers Vanguard. 31st October 2014.

ISIS today is in battle against the local tools of U.S. imperialism, the main enemy of the world’s working people. A setback for the U.S. in Syria might give pause to Washington in its military adventures, including by encouraging opposition at home. Such opposition adds to the tinder that must be ignited in class struggle against the capitalist rulers who, in their quest for ever greater profits, beat down the workers, black people and immigrants.

In our opinion the Sparts show the ultimate degeneration of revolutionary “defeatism” (wishing the destruction of one’s own ‘ruling class’ and its military).

This is where it led during the Second World War: saying that the Allies, backed by the French Resistance, were the same as the SS and Vichy.

One might say that the ultimate blame for this moral bankrupcy can be put at Trotsky’s feet.

As this indicates –  on the eve of the Second World War.

Trotsky sharply rejected any notion of taking sides in the war:

By his victories and bestialities, Hitler provokes naturally the sharp hatred of workers the world over. But between this legitimate hatred of workers and the helping of his weaker but less reactionary enemies is an unbridgeable gulf. The victory of the imperialists of Great Britain and France would not be less frightful for the ultimate fate of mankind than that of Hitler and Mussolini. Bourgeois democracy cannot be saved. By helping their bourgeoisie against foreign Fascism, the workers would only accelerate the victory of Fascism in their own country. The task posed by history is not to support one part of the imperialist system against another but to make an end of the system as a whole.

Just as in 1914, Trotsky was urging his followers to swim against the stream. In doing so, he cut through the ideological claptrap of the ‘democracies’ opposed to Hitler. What he failed to do was to offer any real indication of a strategy which would enable the tiny Trotskyist current to relate to the broad anti-Fascist movement that would emerge in occupied Europe.

More:  With the Masses, Against the Stream  Marxists Archive.

Ian Birchall, the author of the article cited above, is a lot more forgiving to the “errors” that resulted from these words than the Tendance is.

Is the Morning Star in Cahoots with Irrelevant Greek Communist Party (KKE) as French Communists Back Syriza.?

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French Communists Stand with Syriza; British Communists Snipe from Sidelines.

The morning the excellent l’Humanité (we shall never forget comrades your front line reports from the heroic defenders of Kobane, never!) leads with this headline:

La France doit défendre l’exigence de justice des Grecs !

Alors que le gouvernement renvoie la balle à Alexis Tsipras après un lourd silence de l’Élysée, de nombreuses voix à gauche exigent une intervention forte de la France.

France must defend the Greek demand for justice!

Whilst the government pushes back responsibility onto Alexis Tsiparis, after a deep silence from the Élysée, numerous voices on the left demand a strong intervention from France.

It concludes,

Ce nouvel acte de résistance à l’ordre libéral et à la guerre qui se perpétue sur notre continent, sous d’autres formes, doit amener à reposer les questions des objectifs de la zone euro, de la restructuration des dettes illégitimes et des orientations politiques.

This new act of resistance to the liberal economic order and to the virtual  war which is is waging over our continent, must bring forth a response that questions the objectives of the Euro,the restructuring of illegitimate debts, and (the EU’s…) political goals.

 In other words, reform the European Union….

By contrast (Hat-tip: Jim) the Morning Star, paper of the Communist Party of Britain carries this Editorial  on Greece today.

Eurozone Cannot be Reformed.

Tsipras wants to persuade other member states to back his vision of the EU as a bloc based on solidarity and to accept a chunk of his country’s debts being written off and the rest rescheduled.

Why should countries with lower living standards then Greece agree to this?

Will Ireland, Portugal, Spain and Italy, which have already writhed on the austerity rack, paying the price of ruthless loan conditions, support a softer approach for Greece?

It is ironic that, while eurozone states led by Berlin refuse to consider any debt write-off, the IMF is less rigid.

It often engineers creditors’ haircuts in return for new loans and conditions that involve revaluation of national currencies.

Eurozone members are denied this mechanism, with the value of the euro set to the advantage of the more developed states, especially Germany.

Germany’s huge overseas trade surplus, even with China, would normally push up the value of its currency, but eurozone membership precludes this.

When Merkel’s predecessor Helmut Kohl and French president Francois Mitterrand pushed through the single currency in 1992, many economists warned that economic union could only work properly in the context of political union.

This is exemplified by the reality of an undervalued euro favouring the richest members while the poorest are denied the benefit transfers and pooling of financial risk that exist in unified states.

Greece’s Syriza government seeks change, but the lacuna in its argument is that the most powerful member states benefit from current arrangements. Why should they change?

Syriza’s commitment to peddling illusions that the eurozone is reformable and could approve an alternative to austerity does not inspire confidence in Tsipras’s ability to win over his EU “partners.”

Whatever Greeks thought they were voting for, their government’s obsession with wearing the eurozone straitjacket makes attacks on living standards, including pensions, the likely price of Syriza’s negotiations.

We are aware that some members of the CPB are supportive of the views of the sectarian Greek Communist Party (KKE  Κομμουνιστικό Κόμμα Ελλάδας, Kommounistikó Kómma Elládas).

The KKE actively abstained in the Sunday  Referendum.

One sympathiser of the CPB has published their reaction, which we suspect lies behind the Morning Star’s comments (21st Century Manifesto),

The governmental majority of SYRIZA-ANEL rejected the proposal of the KKE for the government’s draft agreement to also be placed before the judgment of the Greek people in the referendum together with the issue of abolishing all the anti-people laws that have been passed in recent years and the issue of disengaging from the EU. At the same time, the coalition government explained that the NO in the referendum is interpreted by the government as approval for its own proposed agreement with the EU-IMF-ECB, which inside 47+8 pages also includes harsh antiworker-antipeople measures, worth about 8 billion euros.

In these conditions, the KKE called on the workers to turn their backs on the false dilemma which was being posed in the referendum, using all appropriate means. The forces of the KKE outside the election centres handed out its own ballot paper to the voters which said:

NO TO THE PROPOSAL OF THE EU-IMF-ECB
NO TO THE PROPOSAL OF THE GOVERNMENT
DISENGAGEMENT FROM THE EU, WITH THE PEOPLE IN POWER

Of course, it was understood that this ballot paper would be counted as a spoiled ballot, but together with the blank ballot papers and the abstention it constitutes a political current that disputes the choices of the SYRIZA-ANEL government and also of the imperialist organizations, with whom the government is negotiating for the needs of capital in Greece.

So there we have it: Greece should leave the EU –  something many in Merkel’s party, not to mention other right-wingers, would welcome.

Update: British CPB to negotiate unity with Trotskyist  World Socialist Web Site?

The political fraud of Syriza’s referendum on EU austerity in Greece

Since Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras called a referendum on European Union (EU) austerity last Saturday, the entire enterprise has been exposed as a political fraud. It is designed to engineer a further capitulation to the EU’s demands, regardless of the outcome of the vote.

Meanwhile on the left:

French left demo in Paris backing Syriza –  a few days ago.

Boko Haram: Islamic State’s African Ally, Murder 150 in Nigerian Mosques.

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Nearly 150 Killed in Suspected Boko Haram Attacks in Nigeria

 

Boko Haram, Daesh Affiliate in Nigeria.

While – rightly – marking our respect for the dead in Tunisia today we should remember these victims as well.

Nearly 150 Killed in Suspected Boko Haram Attacks in Nigeria.

Maiduguri, Nigeria (Agence France-Presse) Suspected Boko Haram militants have killed nearly 150 people in northeastern Nigerian villages, mowing down men and children while they prayed in mosques and shooting women preparing food at home, witnesses said on Thursday.

Dozens of militants stormed three remote villages in the flashpoint Borno state on Wednesday evening, setting houses ablaze in the bloodiest day of attacks by the extremist group since President Muhammadu Buhari came to power in May.

Gunmen killed at least 97 people in Kukawa, the worst-affected village, a local who gave his name as Kolo and who said he had counted the bodies told AFP.

“They wiped out the immediate family of my uncle… They killed his children, about five of them,” Kolo said.

A fisherman who witnessed the attack corroborated the death toll.

‘Victims as Young as Four’

Babami Alhaji Kolo, another witness in Kukawa who fled to the state capital Maiduguri, said more than 50 militants had stormed the village.

“The terrorists first descended on Muslim worshippers in various mosques who were observing the Maghrib prayer shortly after breaking their fast,” he said.

“They… opened fire on the worshippers who were mostly men and young children.

“They spared nobody. In fact, while some of the terrorists waited and set most of the corpses on fire, others proceeded to houses and shot indiscriminately at women who were preparing food,” he said.

Malami Abdulkareem, an Arabic teacher in Kukawa, said some of the victims were as young as four.

“The attackers did not spare even children between four and 12 years old who went to mosques with their fathers.

“I saw at least nine kids who were killed in two mosques,” he said.

A military source in Maiduguri, who refused to be named, confirmed the attack but could not yet give a death toll.

“The military responded with aerial bombardments on terrorist positions,” he said, without giving further details.

‘Volleys of Bullets’

In two other villages near the town of Monguno, meanwhile, gunmen killed 48 people and injured 11 others, local lawmaker Mohammed Tahir and witnesses told AFP.

“They selected particular male residents from among the crowd of worshippers… and opened fire on them before setting the two villages on fire and razing them to the ground,” Tahir said.

Another resident who managed to flee said the militants arrived in vans and on motorcycles.

“Many of us managed to escape amid volleys of bullets,” said the resident who asked not to be named for safety reasons.

Kukawa is around 50 kilometres (30 miles) away from the two villages near Monguno.

All three are located near Lake Chad, which straddles Nigeria, Niger, Chad and Cameroon and has been a focal point of the unrest.

Boko Haram had captured scores of towns and villages in the northeast last year, but has since been pushed back into hide-outs by a four-nation military offensive that kicked off in February.

Despite their territorial losses, the insurgents have kept up their deadly raids, explosions and suicide attacks on “soft” targets such as markets and mosques.

And the armed group has intensified its campaign of violence since Buhari came to power on May 29 vowing to crush the jihadists’ bloody uprising that has claimed at least 15,000 lives.

Since then, some 400 people have been killed in attacks blamed on the extremists, who have sworn allegiance to the Islamic State group, according to an AFP tally.

March 13th Reuters.

Islamic State leader accepts allegiance of Nigeria’s Boko Haram

The leader of the Islamic State militant group that controls tracts of Syria and Iraq has accepted a pledge of allegiance from Nigerian Islamists Boko Haram, his spokesman said, calling on supporters to fight in Africa.

Boko Haram, which has killed thousands and kidnapped hundreds during a six-year campaign to carve out an Islamist state in northern Nigeria, pledged its allegiance last week, highlighting increased coordination between jihadi movements across north Africa and the Middle East.

“Our caliph, God save him, has accepted the pledge of loyalty of our brothers of Boko Haram so we congratulate Muslims and our jihadi brothers in West Africa,” Islamic State spokesman Abu Mohammad al-Adnani said in an audio message, referring to his group’s leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

So far as we can tell the reaction of the Stop the War Coalition (StWC)  to Boko Harem centres on demands for no outside military intervention.

Last year they published this by Xavier Best:

Nigerian militant group Boko Haram has kidnapped over 200 schoolgirls and US policymakers and the “free press” have exploded into a fit of pro-interventionist hysteria. It’s hard to escape media reports about the ruthless cruelty of Boko Haram’s leader Abubakar Shekau and his vow to sell his hostages into slavery.

…..

It is widely conceded that the popular base of Boko Haram is a response to severe economic inequality that has disproportionately impacted Nigeria’s northern region. Unlike the south, Nigeria’s north faces severe problems meeting basic human needs of education, healthcare and clean water. Unemployment among young males in northern Nigeria “is in excess of 50 percent.”

Written by Andrew Coates

July 3, 2015 at 11:23 am

Syria: Air Strikes on the Way? How Should the Left React?

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Two RAF Tornado GR4's

Is ISIS massacre of 30 UK holidaymakers in Tunisia only the beginning?

Comments Paul Rogers on the Stop the War Coalition site.

He notes:

“..the great majority of people in the UK are hardly aware that this is a major war – and that Britain is at the centre of it.”

That,

While one intention was seriously to wreck the Tunisian tourist industry, leading to higher unemployment and more anger and resentment, providing a better environment for recruiting young people to the IS cause, it was probably part of a much wider intention to bring the conflict home to the coalition of countries now engaged in the air war.

This makes for uncomfortable connections, especially as most people in Britain simply do not recognise that the country is part of a large coalition that has been waging a major air offensive on IS forces in Iraq and Syria for almost a year.

He concludes,

One of the grim ironies of the Sousse attack is that the appalling loss of life might alert more people in the UK to the true extent of the war. Equally, IS will no doubt encourage further attacks on the countries at war with it; counterterrorism forces in countries as far afield as the US, Australia, Canada, France and Britain will accordingly be intensifying their work.

It is just possible that the Sousse massacre will turn out to be an isolated attack on British nationals, but it’s very unlikely. The reality is that the war with IS in Iraq and Syria is beginning to extend beyond those countries and the region – even beyond the established battlegrounds ofAfghanistan and Libya. What happened to the holidaymakers in Sousse may only be the beginning of a new phase.

 

If it is a “war” against Daesh we can be sure we know today where the UK government stands.

Consider Syria IS strikes, defence secretary urges MPs

MPs should consider allowing Britain to bomb Islamic State targets in Syria, the defence secretary is to say.

The RAF has been carrying out strikes in Iraq since September but Michael Fallon will say Parliament should look at the case for missions in Syria too.

The UK does not need the backing of MPs to launch raids but Mr Fallon has said the Commons will have the final say.

He will suggest terrorist attacks, such as Friday’s tourist murders in Tunisia, may have been planned by IS in Syria.

Thirty of the 38 tourists killed on the beach in Sousse on 26 June have been confirmed as British. Student Seifeddine Rezgui, 23, said to have had links to IS, was shot dead by police after carrying out the attack.

Prime Minister David Cameron later said IS posed “an existential threat” to the West, and its members in Iraq and Syria were plotting “terrible attacks” on British soil.

The Mirror also notes,

Britain edged closer to bombing Islamic State extremists in Syria after the Defence Secretary said it was “illogical” to attack jihadists in Iraq but not over the border.

Michael Fallon said a new Commons vote would be needed before the RAF carried out air strikes against Islamist fighters in Syria.

But he insisted there was no “legal bar” blocking Britain from attacking extremists in either country.

RAF Tornados and drones have been bombing the jihadists in Iraq since last September as part of a US-led alliance.

But Mr Fallon said: “ISIS is organised and directed and administered from Syria and there’s an illogicality about not being able to do it there.”

Where does the StWC stand?

Will it ‘defend’ the genociders of Daesh, and the European volunteers for its racist Einsatzgruppen from this bombing?

We say:

Another foreign intervention in Syria and Iraq is a bad idea, ethically and in terms of Realpolitik. The UK and the West have not opposed support for the reactionary forces of Al Nusra and other Islamist murderers. Their allies, such as Saudi Arabia, actively back these reactionaries. They have not stood against the threat of Turkish ‘Neo-Ottoman’ policy. They had not stood against Shia sectarian killings in Iraq.

The possibility that they will encourage any kind of democratic outcome to the civil war, and a replacement for the Assad regime with a progressive alternative is non-existent.

But to make opposition to this  bombing our chief objective is wrong.

We should be backing the democratic, largely Kurdish forces, of the People’s Protection UnitsYekîneyên Parastina Gel,, battling the genociders and their International volunteers on the ground.

There is little we can do in this tumult, but we are must use all the resources we can to help our Kurdish sisters and brothers who are fighting for dear life.

Written by Andrew Coates

July 2, 2015 at 11:28 am

Are Jordan and Turkey Invading or about to Invade Syria?

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Erdogan: Neo-Ottoman Foreign Policy?

Are Jordan and Turkey Invading Syria?

Asks the Daily Beast.

Or are they just messaging to Obama that they’ve had enough with his non-policy?

Turkey announced plans to send 18,000 soldiers into Syria. That announcement was amplified by Jordan’s, which came out the next day in a Financial Times story that reported the Jordanian plan was “backed by key members of the international coalition against Isis.”

One key member of the coalition that definitely has not backed the plan is the U.S.

A State Department official, speaking the same day the story about Jordan’s planned buffer zone broke, downplayed the possibility to reporters, saying there was no “solid evidence” for it and citing “serious logistical challenges” in creating them.

Turkey and Jordan, on Syria’s northern and southern border respectively, have a common interest in erecting buffers zone. Both countries have absorbed large refugee populations fleeing the war and both are threatened by the growing presence of hostile actors on their doorsteps, be they jihadists are Kurdish nationalists. A buffer zone is an area controlled by military forces, either national armies or those of allied rebels inside Syria that would allow the Turks and Jordanians to exert more influence inside Syria and prevent people and materiel from passing over the border. But those are old concerns that have been expressed by Turkey and Jordan before. The resurgence of plans for intervention suggests that new developments—namely the Assad regime’s deterioration and the success of Kurdish forces fighting ISIS— may be changing the calculus in Ankara and Amman.

Turkey, which first announced plans for a buffer zone, is threatened by the growing power of Kurdish groups who have had a series of recent victories against ISIS forces in Syria.

“I am saying this to the whole world,” Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in a speech last Friday, “We will never allow the establishment of a state on our southern border in the north of Syria.” He was referring to the increasing autonomy exhibited by the Democratic Union of Kurdistan (PYD), an armed and U.S.-backed Kurdish affiliate of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which Turkey (and the U.S.) consider a terrorist organization. The PYD has made no mystery of its intention to establish “Rojava,” an independent statelet of Syrian Kurdistan tantamount to what the Kurds of northern Iraq have maintained for decades. Impressive military gains in Syria by the PYD’s paramilitary force, the YPG, have rattled Ankara more than ISIS has.

This follows the following report (28th June) in the pro-Kurdish site, Kurdish Question.

KQ News Desk

Turkish newspapers especially those allied with the Justice and Development Party (AKP) have for the past few days been headlining discussions that have allegedly taken place between Turkey President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, former government and current majority party AKP and the Turkish Armed Forces on a possible military operation into Rojava (West Kurdistan-North Syria).

The headlines began coming thick and fast after the President declared ‘I am talking to the whole world, regardless of the price we might have to pay we will not allow a Kurdish state in North Syria, to the south of Turkey.’ This declaration was made on 26th June, a day after ISIS gangs, crossing over from Turkey (North Kurdistan), massacred over 200 civilians in Kobanê.

It is also being speculated that there is no consensus between Erdogan, his de-facto party and the Armed Forces and that the latter are wary of any military operation due to the unknown results it may trigger. The Armed Forces are asking the President and AKP to get support and the go-ahead from the USA, Russia and Assad, commentators are claiming.

The Turkish state for a long time were calling for a no-fly and buffer zone in Rojava on the pretext of bolstering the fight against the Syrian regime and protecting refugees. This was rejected by the international community and only the training and arming of FSA elements was supported. With Erdogan’s latest speech it has become clear that his main concern is the autonomous cantons of Rojava.

 

An important article by Selahattin Demirtaş,   the leader of the Turkish, democratic socialist, feminist and pluralist  Party HDP which won 13% of the vote in the recent elections and now has 80 MPs,  which touches on the Kurdish issue appeared in le Monde yesterday: Le rêve d’une Nouvelle Turquie est possible.

One of the reasons for the HDP’s success, he notes, is that the Turkish government alienated the Kurdish electorate by Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his “neo-Ottoman” foreign policy. At the centre of this has been a claim that his government was the “self-proclaimed protector of all the peoples of the Middle East” (“autoproclamé protecteur de tous les peuples du Moyen-Orient.”)

He notes,

Pendant la résistance kurde à Kobané, ce discours s’est durci en des termes inacceptables pour les Kurdes. Alors que l’immense majorité du monde démocratique soutenait l’héroïque résistance des combattantes kurdes face aux assassins du Daech, ainsi que l’abnégation des femmes et des hommes venus de partout – qui, poussés par une conscience internationaliste, ont défendu Kobané, où a été perpétré l’un des crimes contre l’humanité du XXIe siècle – et qu’on pouvait entrevoir dans ces résistances l’espoir d’une paix au Moyen-Orient, « la chute de Kobané ne tient qu’à un fil », ne cessait d’ironiser M. Erdogan.

During the resistance in Kobane, this line hardened in a way that was unacceptable to the Kurds. The vast majority of the democratic world stood with the heroic resistance of the Kurdish fighters against the murderers of Daesh. The self-sacrifice of women and men who came from everywhere – driven by an internationalist conscience – defended Kobane, where one of the Crimes Against Humanity of the 21st century was  carried out. While one could see amongst this resistance hopes for peace in the Middle East, Erdogan could only mockingly comment, “The Fall of Kobane Hangs by a Thread”.

Update:  Syrian Kurdish group PYD warns Turkey not to intervene militarily.

Syria‘s main Kurdish party warned Turkey on Wednesday that any military intervention would threaten international peace and said the country’s main Kurdish militia is ready to face any “aggression.”

The statement by the Democratic Union Party, or PYD, comes as Turkish media is abuzz with talk of a long-debated military intervention to push the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) back from the Turkish border – a move that would also outflank any Kurdish attempt to create a state along Turkey’s southern frontier.

Kurdish fighters backed by US-led airstrikes have been on the offensive against ISIL in northern Syria for months, and now control a long stretch along the Syria-Turkey border. Turkey has viewed the advance with growing concern and has warned it will not tolerate the establishment of a Kurdish state in Syria.

Two weeks ago, the People’s Protection Units, or YPG, which is dominated by the PYD, captured the border town of Tal Abyad, denying ISIL a crucial nearby border crossing used to bring in supplies and foreign fighters.

The capture of Tal Abyad cleared the way for the Kurds to connect their stronghold in Syria’s northeast to the once badly isolated border town of Kobani – where they famously resisted a months-long ISIL siege – and possibly extend it to the Kurdish enclave of Afrin in Syria’s northwest.

“Any military intervention in Rojava will have local, regional and international repercussions and will contribute to complicating the political situation in Syria and the Middle East and threaten international security and peace,” the PYD statement warned. Rojava is a term that refers to Syria’s predominantly Kurdish region.

The PYD called on NATO members to prevent Turkey from carrying out any “reckless” intervention. It added that Syria’s Kurds want good relations with their neighbors and have no intention to set up an independent state.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan chaired a National Security Council meeting Monday which covered developments in Syria. Pro-government newspapers said proposals ranged from loosening the rules of engagement to give Turkish troops a freer hand to fire into Syria, to a tanks-and-troops invasion aimed at occupying a 110-kilometer (70-mile) long, 33-kilometer (20-mile) wide buffer zone.

Turkish officials fear the creation of a vast and contiguous zone of Kurdish control could stir up separatist sentiment among its own Kurdish minority. Ankara is also concerned over reports that Kurdish rebels are chasing other ethnic groups, such as Arabs and Turkmens, out of the areas under their control.

The PYD statement said YPG fighters “are ready to repel any aggression by any party.” It called on Turkish officials to “stop their provocative and reckless acts.”

Those in direct contact with Turkish and Middle Eastern politics would no doubt be able to comment further.

Erdogan appears to be moving on the home front as well: Erdogan and Turkey move toward once-unthinkable grand coalition.

Moazzam Begg: Back Islamists of Al Nusra and from Al-Qaeda to Defeat Daesh.

with 22 comments

 

Al-Nusra: Stopping Daesh Narrative, Says Moazzam Begg.

David Cameron will not engage the only people able to stop the IS narrative writes Moazzam Begg on the Middle East Eye (Tuesday 30 June 2015).

Hat-tip: David T.

In this article these are the sentences that matter:

Ahrar al-Sham – part of the Islamic Front coalition – and Al-Qaeda’s Al Nusra Front are the largest, most effective opposition forces in Syria. They have been at the forefront in the fight against IS. Thousands of their members have been killed in battle, tortured, beheaded and crucified. Despite Al Nusra’s confirmation that Syria would not be used as a launchpad for attacks on the West both groups have been bombed by coalition forces.

Arguably the most credible voices against IS have been Islamic clerics traditionally associated with Al-Qaeda. These include Jordanian scholars Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi and Abu Qatada. Cameron’s government fought very hard to deport the latter from Britain where he had been imprisoned on the basis of secret evidence, without charge, for over a decade.

In the end, Abu Qatada opted to return to Jordan, of his own accord, where he was acquitted of terrorism charges against him. During and after his imprisonment in the UK and Jordan Abu Qatada made repeated calls for the release of British aid workers and journalists held by militant groups – including IS. He declared their consequent murders unlawful and subsequently issued scathing fatwa [religious edicts] denouncing IS:

“This group [IS] does not have the authority to rule all Muslims and their declaration [the caliphate] applies to no-one but themselves. Its threats to kill opponents, sidelining of other groups and violent way of fighting opponents constitute a great sin, reflecting the reality of the group.”

Cameron must be wondering how many young Britons would have joined IS if Abu Qatada made these statements from the UK instead of Jordan?

Many people will consider Begg’s intervention as part of the effort to “re-brand” Al-Nusra (The rebranding of the Nusra Front.Mehdi Hasan).

But in this case it appears to be part of an attempt to extend this to elements within Al-Qaeda.

It’s not as if there is a lot to white-wash.

I am at present about half-way through this important book: Al Qaeda’s Global Crisis. The Islamic State, Takfir and the Genocide of Muslims. V. G. Julie Rajan 2015.

This book focuses on the crises facing Al Qaeda and how the mass killing of Muslims is challenging its credibility as a leader among Islamist jihadist organizations.

The book argues that these crises are directly related to Al Qaeda’s affiliation with the extreme violence employed against Muslims in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and Pakistan in the decade since 9/11. Al Qaeda’s public and private responses to this violence differ greatly. While in public Al Qaeda has justified those attacks declaring that, for the establishment of a state of ‘true believers’, they are a necessary evil, in private Al Qaeda has been advising its local affiliates to refrain from killing Muslims.

To better understand the crises facing Al Qaeda, the book explores the development of Central Al Qaeda’s complex relationship with radical (mis)appropriations and manifestations of takfir, which allows one Muslim to declare another an unbeliever, and its unique relationship with each of its affiliates in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The author then goes on to consider how the prominence of takfir is contributing to the deteriorating security in those countries and how this is affecting Al Qaeda’s credibility as an Islamist terror organization. The book concludes by considering the long-term viability of Al Qaeda and how its demise could allow the rise of the even more radical, violent Islamic State and the implications this has for the future security of the Middle East, North Africa and Central/South Asia.

It would be very complex to go into the various alliances and conflcists between the different groups in Syria and Iraq – though there have no doubt been convergences between the so-called “opponents” of Daesh – Al-Nusra and the Islamic Front.

Perhaps a simpler way of dealing with Begg’s lies about Al-Qaeda and the Al-Nusra Front is to cite Patrick Cockburn in yesterday’s Independent.

 Because Isis publicises and boasts of its atrocities in order to spread fear, it masks the fact that official al-Qaeda affiliates, such as Jabhat al-Nusra in Syria or AQAP in Yemen, are just as dangerous.

Their basic agenda is very similar to that of the self-declared caliphate, with al-Nusra carrying out the enforced conversion of Druze and the massacre of those who resist. This attempted rebranding of extreme but non-Isis Sunni jihadis is opportunistic and often directed at making them more palatable as proxies for Sunni states such as Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

 There is more in Begg’s ideology: the reference to the importance  of the ‘Caliphate’.

He ends his piece with this distasteful observation:

…why did Seifeddine Rezguie kill 38 innocent tourists? Warped as his ideas must have been, he saw the tourists as representatives of Britain. Britain that had wanted to destroy the caliphate past, and, the caliphate present. The only ones who can successfully challenge the IS narrative, however, are the only ones the government will not engage with.

‘Caliphate John’ would doubtless agree.

Elderly working class tourists are indeed ‘targets’ for vengeance against the destruction of the ‘Caliphate past’, the “dismembered and occupied” Ottoman Empire.

But what exactly was this past?

The Caliphate – if we can condense so many different forms together,  as Begg does was marked by the treatment of   non-Muslims  as second class citizens and women as second class citizens. The caliphates were for most of their history based on slavery and landowner  exploitation. The Caliphate empires were grounded on the oppression of peoples, from Eastern Europe to North Africa. They regularly engaged in massacres of minorities, the torture and the murder of political opponents.

The clue perhaps lies in the word “empire“, not the word “Ottoman”.

Most people who are acquainted with the real – not fairy-story – history of the Caliphate, will feel sick in the stomach at  the thought that the Caliphate should be revived.

Whether it’s by Daesh or the forces Begg appears to favour, it is a potent symbol of tyranny, of class, sexual and religious oppression.

It is to hoped that this is the last time we will hear anybody on the left defending Moazzam Begg