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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.

Tunisian Slaughter will Stop When Tunisia Stops Invading Middle East and Backing War on Terror: Stop the War Coalition.

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Tunisians Demonstrate Against Terrorist Murders.

Latest news on the Tunisian atrocity:

The number of Britons killed in Friday’s beach massacre in Tunisia is now expected to pass 30, it has emerged, as hundreds of British police were deployed in one of the biggest counter-terror operations since the London bombings on 7 July 2005.

Informed sources said the eventual death toll could be even higher. So far only 15 Britons have been confirmed among the 38 dead in a process overseen by a British coroner whose job has been complicated because of the nature and location of the attack, and the numbers involved.

The assault is already the biggest loss of British life to terrorism since the 2005 London bombings in which a total of 56 people including the attackers were killed.

Guardian.

This is how the Stop the War Coalition (StWC)  has reacted:

After terrorist atrocity in Tunisia it’s time to face facts: ISIS is a child of US-UK wars.

Lindsey German.

HERE IS a sense of shock and horror at the series of terror attacks which took place yesterday.

One can only condemn attacks which lead to the deaths of innocent people, whether praying in a mosque or lying on a beach.

The claiming of these actions by ISIS speaks of a strategy which is not just about fighting in the Middle East but about bringing the war into Europe.

ISIS explicitly stated with the Tunisia attacks that they were in response to members of the coalition at present bombing in Iraq and Syria.

While we can all condemn the attacks we need to also try to understand he reasons why they happen.

ISIS is the child of war, the creation of more than a decade of invasion, occupation and bombing in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and elsewhere.

It’s brutality was forged those wars, funded by Saudi princes, facilitated by the Turkish government which allowed it to cross its borders, tacitly supported by Middle East despots.

Isis and other terrorist groups have grown as a result of the civil war in Syria, the bombing of Libya and the sectarian tensions fostered by the US in Iraq.

Support for it has also grown in western countries because of the way in which Muslims are treated here. The growth of Islamophobia means that Muslims are repeatedly under attack by government, police, media and the establishment.

The Prevent strategy in Britain is an attempt to criminalise, to spy on and to censor the Muslim community.

The vast majority of Muslims reject terrorism, but they are now being told that even if they are non violent extremists, this leads to violent extremism. The only   Muslim acceptable to them are those who raise no criticism of government policy.

Racism and attacks on civil liberties will only serve to marginalise young Muslims.

All these policies are symptomatic of government failure in its various policies.

The war on terror has created more terrorism. The prevent strategy has not prevented anything but has bred resentment among Muslims.

These are the problems which need to be addressed if we are to stop the tragedies like those on Friday, and the daily tragedies which afflict so many people in the Middle East.

Source: Stop the War Coalition.

This bundle of mendacious confusion shows why no progressive should back the ‘Stop the War Coalition’.

Some “problems which need to be addressed” by the StWC.

  • Whatever the ultimate causes of the growth of the Islamic State/Caliphate/Daesh, what are the StWC proposing to do to fight it?
  • Is support for the Daesh  in “western countries” a result of European ‘Islamophobia’? What kind of reaction to this feeling is joining a genocidal organisation that murders, rapes, and enslaves? What causal link is being made her? What kind of counterfactual conditions are explored? How many other victims of racism and Western ill-treatment turn to mass murder?
  • Is Tunisia in the Middle East or in  Europe? Is Tunisia bombing Iraq and Syria? As it is not, the wish to overthrow a democratic secular government looks a more probable reason for this attack than the fantasy offered by the StWC.
  • The StWC shows not the slightest concern about the victims of these genociders, the martyrs slaughtered in Syria and Iraq, and women abused and treated as chattel, the people living under their totalitarian oppression.
  • The War on Terror may be fundamentally flawed, but when will the StWC support the very real war carried on by the Kurdish people against Daesh?

The fact is that Tunisia and the Maghreb more widely faces a violent Islamist threat that predates the rise of Daesh.

It includes the assassination of prominent Tunisian leftists, the beloved martyrs  Chokri Belaid and Mohamed Brahmi (both in 2013).

Born in the Middle East at present, Daesh has a dynamic of its own: its ideology, backed by substantial finance and resources,  has become a material force.

Whether or not this is “real” Quranic Islam or not is irrelevant.

Daesh is part of actually existing Islamism.

It has created a totalitarian prison, its own ‘ruling class’, grounded on religious tyranny, sexual apartheid,  exploitation, and genocide.

As in this:

Its Western recruits and sympathisers are the modern equivalent of those complicit in the acts of the Second World War Einsatzgruppen.

There should be not the slightest tolerance shown to these criminals.

The immediate objective of progressives should be to back the democratic forces fighting them: in the first instance the Kurdish Partiya Yekîtiya Demokrat‎, the PYD and its armed wing.

End Austerity Now Demonstration: a Personal Report from Ipswich.

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Protesters flood Parliament Square (Photo: John Stillwell/PA Wire)

Protesters flood Parliament Square (Photo: John Stillwell/PA Wire)

End Austerity Now Demonstration: a Personal Report.

Around 80,000 people (the Tendance’s estimate) marched in London on Saturday. They protested against the newly elected Conservative government’s plans to continue, and deepen, austerity.

It’s unnecessary to list the faults of these policies. It’s enough to see the people begging in the streets, a few hundred metres from the office of Ipswich Tory M.P. Benedict Gummer. Without the response of the People’s Assembly, the unions, the diverse groups and parties on the demonstration, and the wider public, Cameron and Osborne will have free rein to create a mean-spirited free-market Britain.

From Ipswich and Stowmarket 42 people piled in our coach – there were more travelling to London by train. Up to 70% were under the age of 40, with a large percentage in their teens and twenties. This was reflected amongst the marchers, with a strong presence of young people.

While assembling by the Bank of England we were addressed by various speakers. Those advertised included Kate Hudson (Chair, Left Unity, CND) and Diane Abbott (Labour MP and candidate to represent the party for the London Mayoral contest). They and others made good, rousing, contributions on the need to fight austerity.

Weyman Bennett (SWP/Unite Against Fascism) linked people being rude to women wearing the Islamic veil to the massacre at Charleston and the heart-rending plight of migrants drowned in the Mediterranean. Lee Jasper (Respect Party), the ‘controversial’ former Director for Policing and Equalities under Ken Livingstone’s Greater London Authority Assembly continued in this vein.

Someone (one can imagine who) compared his peroration  unfavourably to Ali G.(1)  One Suffolk comrade remarked that on what she called the “shouting”.

It was to be regretted that there was nobody from the National Shop Stewards Network – a group which, whatever one’s political differences, represents a lot more than the former two users of the demo microphone – was not invited to speak.

The route of the protest, which began next to the City, took us from Ludgate Circus, down the Strand, past Trafalgar Square. This was the venue of a – poorly attended- commercial beano, a pop radio concert. It symbolised the use of public space for corporate gain.

Local People’s assembly groups (like Suffolk People’s Assembly) unions, Left Unity, anti-cuts organisations, disabeld rights groups,the SWP, the Socialist Party, and other (even) smaller left parties, the Labour Assembly Against Austerity , the Green Party …to Class War, were present.

In Parliament Square there were more speeches. Again there were solid well-argued arguments against the Cabinet’s plans, from Steve Turner (UNITE and the People’s Assembly) onwards. John Rees included a reference to the rights of atheists in a call for to defend the freedoms of different beliefs. His claim that the demonstrators were from all ethnic backgrounds was perhaps not fully substantiated by a glance at the overwhelmingly  white crowd.

Charlotte Church made an exceptional contribution.

The Mirror called it an “incredible speech“.

The Conservatives’ intention was to create a society around their principles, of private profit and public loss.

Describing the idea that Britain needs austerity as “the big lie”, Charlotte said: “They will sell off our schools and our hospitals. When it’s done, it will he hard to reverse.

“One aspect of this that really gets under my skin is that it’s all wrapped up in a proud-to-be-British package.

“I’m proud to be British because of the NHS and David Bowie, not because of the Union Jack.

“Be proud for the right reasons. We need to win back these young minds and save ourselves from years of yuppie rule.

“If you are ashamed that you have to use a food bank, because this Government would rather see you starve than put a note in your pocket, walk tall. You have the moral high ground.

“We are not afraid of national debt and we will not let our public services be attacked.”

She added: “What this country needs is economic stimulation – most economists around the world would say the same. We need to get the blood pumping.”

Earlier, she said: “I’m here today in a show of solidarity with everyone here – it is a massive turnout – everybody who thinks that austerity isn’t the only way and thinks it is essentially unethical, unfair and unnecessary.”

It was hard not to be moved by Charlotte’s clear and heart-felt words.

Her call for positive alternatives and hope will resonate across the country.

For many present, Jeremy Corbyn, standing for the Labour Party leadership, made a decisive call to make sure there is a strong left, anti-austerity,  vote in this election.

End Austerity Now was a success.

Where we go from now is the subject of serious discussion.

One way forward can be seen in the multitude of protests against welfare reform: from the continued campaign against the Bedroom Tax, Benefit cuts, Workfare, to the – still not fully implemented – psychological treatment of some claimants.

It is to be regretted that some parties see groups like the People’s Assembly as a recruiting ground.

In Suffolk the Green Party does not appear to publicise this:

Suffolk’s best-known Green Party politician has pulled out of the battle to become Ipswich MP in next May’s general election – because he hasn’t “got the heart” to take on Tory Ben Gummer.

Mark Ereira-Guyer, leader of the Green and independent group on Suffolk County Council and an experienced election campaigner, was chosen earlier this year to fight for the Ipswich seat, but has now dropped out.

“Although I find Conservative policies odious and overly focused on free market fundamentalism, crass cost-cutting measures and ecological destitution, I am of the view that the current MP Ben Gummer is dedicated and hardworking.

“I respect his honest endeavours for the town. And, therefore, I can’t drum up sufficient energies to really take him on. I like my politics to work on a human level, and not in a tribalist way.

Ipswich Star.

The day was an achievement for the organisers.

It was, as they say, only a beginning.

(1) This is what Jasper said (Charlie Hebdo and Europe’s rampant racism. 17th of January) about the massacre at Charlie Hebdo  (he doesn’t even mention the anti-Semitic murder at the Hyper-Casher):

“JeSuisCharlie in this context is nothing more than appeal from right wings white’s to be allowed to be racist without opposition in the name of free speech.  It’s a sort of ‪#WhiteLivesMatter statement particularly when viewed in the context of the tragic violence and world silence about the Nigerian massacre by Boko Haram.

This privilege allows them to disregard the social environment and political context of such satire and its consequences.  Writing in this flawed tradition is the perogative  of white, middle class Libertarian anarchists. Charlie Hebdo is for me,  a silly magazine and quintessentially an exercise in white privilege and arrogance.

400 Leftist and other Foreign Fighters Join Kurds to Fight Islamic State Genociders.

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Internationalist Leftists and Communists Fight with the Kurdish people.

The London-based Syrian Observatory For Human Rights says that 400 foreign fighters have so far joined the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) in Syria.

The YPG has been active fighting against Islamic State (IS) in Hasakah, Raqqa and Aleppo provinces. The Syrian Kurdish group has been recruiting many of its foreign fighters through Facebook since last year. Recruits have joined the YPG from Europe, Australia, North America and South America. In addition, thousands of fighters that have joined from Turkey and Iran.

On 10th June, a New Leftist brigade was formed, modelled on the international leftist brigades of the Spanish civil war, called the Free Internationalist Brigades, reports IHS Jane’s Terrorism and Insurgency Monitor.

The group consists of fighters from Albania, Armenia, Germany, Greece, Spain, Caucasus, and members from Turkish leftist organisations such as the Marxist-Leninist Communist Party (MLKP), Halk Kurtulus Ordusu, and Birlesik Özgürlük Güçleri (BÖG).

US citizen Keith Broomfield (36), died on 3rd June in the village of Qentere near Kobani. In addition, a German female fighter of the YPJ and a member of the MLKP died in clashes against IS around the town of Tal Tamer in last March.

A British YPG fighter also died after he was wounded in clashes with IS in the area located between the two towns of Tal Hamis and al- Hol in the province of al- Hasakah on March 4th. An Australia was killed in clashes with IS in the town of Tal Hamis in al- Hasakah on February 25th.

Bas News.

teleSUR  reports,

Internationalist Freedom Brigade say communist fighters from various nations will fight alongside Kurdish forces against Islamic State
An International armed group has been formed in Rojava, the Kurdish region in north of Syria, called Internationalist Freedom Brigade consisting of communist and leftist fighters from several countries around the world. The Marxist Leninist Communist Party (MLKP) of Turkey and Kurdistan has been the main force behind the establishment of the group. The group’s main objective is to fight the Islamic State group in Syria and Iraq and any other occupying forces, according to a statement by the group on June 11.

Statement: “We are in the International Battalion to Protect the Rojava Revolution”

The Middle East is turned into a sea of blood by the hands of imperialist blood suckers and colonialism. Through the ISIS gangs organized by the same forces, the region is being tried to be occupied and the people are being forced to submit. Massacres committed by the ISIS gangs against Christians, Yazidis, Assyrians and Muslims, rapes, abductions and selling of the women and children, mass execution ceremonies, various inhumane practices are in fact the reflection of their imperialist masters and their centuries old practices.

The spectacular resistance of organized popular movements led by the YPG-YPJ against those who wish to drown peoples in this lake of blood, make them forget their languages, beliefs, lives and personalities have succeeded in Rojava, as it did in Kobanê, Shingal, Til-Hemis and Serêkaniyê.

The Rojava revolution has made a tremendous impact, the resistance of the YPG-YPJ has turned into a field that the impoverished peoples enviously admire, increase their solidarity actions and send fighters and it has became today’s Beqaa and today’s Palestine. The Rojava revolution is now, the Paris Commune under the German siege, Madrid of the Spanish Civil War and Stalingrad of the Second World War.

The Rojava revolution ran the power balances of surrounding countries, foremost Turkey upside down and has become the heart of the world revolutions that grow bigger every single day and a torch of resistance of the oppressed peoples.

As a women’s revolution, the Rojava revolution have created a strong women will against the male-dominated world reactionism and became its symbol.

Revolutionaries from the world who undertake defending the Rojava revolution and spreading its course as a historical duty and a responsibility have turned their faces towards the Middle East and have not hesitated, not even a moment to fight in fronts, shed their blood and die for the victory.

Revolutionary forces who have come to the lands of Rojava all around Turkey and the world to enhance and advance the revolution, as well as to greaten and carry the war to their lands have struggled for the essential contribution to the war and to the revolution.

We, who fight on every inch of Rojava, who die as martyrs, who raise the flag of resistance…

We, who fight up front against imperialism and regional reactionaries…

We, who confront the savage attacks carried out with all support in order to suppress the revolution by the ISIS gangs…

We, who live the revolution, who feel it in their veins and cells…

We, who realize the Rojava revolution, the peoples who live in Kurdistan, the workers, oppressed, women, internationalist revolutionaries who fight under the flag of YPG-YPJ…

We have taken an oath, made a promise to the ones who have fallen before us, to the values created before…

We are the Spanish, Germans, Greeks, Turks, Arabs, Armenians, Laz, Circassians, Albanians…

We, as internationalists, revolutionary forces, organizations, groups from all around the world have united under INTERNATIONAL FREEDOM BATTALION in order to defend the Rojava revolution.

The oppressed people, workers, labourers, women, youth, communities of different beliefs and identities, ecologists, anti-imperialists, anti-fascists, anti-capitalists, democrats and revolutionaries; we call upon you to fight and triumph under the flag of INTERNATIONAL FREEDOM BATTALION to defend the Rojava revolution, increase our gains, enhance the fraternity of the people and the revolution of the Middle East and the region…”

Syandan.

Meanwhile there are those from Europe who have gone to join the genociders.

Community leaders in the home town of a West Yorkshire teenager who reportedly carried out a suicide bombing in Iraq have spoken of their shock at the news.

Dewsbury councillor Masood Ahmed said Talha Asmal, 17, was “no different” from other teenagers, and said people in the town were “devastated”.

Asmal is believed to have become Britain’s youngest suicide bomber, in an oil refinery attack south of Baiji.

His family say he was groomed online, describing it as a “tragedy”.

At least 11 people were killed in the car bombings carried out by four suicide bombers near the city north of Baghdad on Saturday.

Social media reports linked to militant group Islamic State (IS) said Asmal, going by the name of Abu Yusuf al-Britani, was among the attackers.

Asmal would be Britain’s youngest known suicide bomber. Another West Yorkshire teenager, Hasib Hussein, was 18 when he blew himself up on a London bus in the 7 July 2005 attacks.

BBC

Michael Meacher MP on Labour’s Defeat – Chartist AGM.

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Michael Meacher MP Backs Jeremy Corbyn for Labour Leader.

The Chartist AGM was held on Saturday at the University of Westminster. Around 40 people gathered to discuss, as democratic socialists, “post election perspectives”.

The meeting began with Michael Meacher, the veteran (as they say) MP for Oldham West and Royton. He talked of how we are on the left are in a “very bad place” after the election defeat.

Why had this happened ? – Meacher asked. While there is a need to look at detailed analysis of the polls, which will emerge – there are some points, the MP said, that could be made now.

The principal point is that the evidence is that the party lost because voters were not “prepared to trust Labour with finances”. The Conservatives had, during the whole Coalition period, been hammering away at the claim that the legacy of the Blair and the Brown years had been economic incompetence faced with the banking crisis and its aftermath. They had left a massive budget deficit that, the Tories claimed, only they were capable of dealing with.

The Labour Party had not met this message, repeated and repeated. They had not clearly pointed to the flimsy foundations of the Conservatives’ claims to economic competence. The ‘recovery’ was already “fizzling out”, wages had not recovered, and more employment (largely confined to London and the South-east) was above all in the precarious and badly paid work. The Coalition had not even been able to meet their own claims to resolve their own favourite problem – the deficit. Instead Ed Balls and the team around Miliband had accepted the right-wing premise that austerity was necessary.

With Labour unable to challenge the grounds of David Cameron and George Osborne’s economic strategy, the electorate preferred to place their confidence in the outgoing Tories instead of a new government.

Meacher then outlined an alternative to austerity, and long-term measures to deal with inequality. Fiscal policy should be a form of modern Keynesianism. Against “market fundamentalism” strategic areas of the economy would benefit from public intervention and control. The poor services offered by the privatised utilities and transport, had to be tackled, and manufacturing promoted.

Through the tax system and inside companies measures should be introduced to reduce, by a long-term and determined effort, the gulf between the sky-high salaries of the super-rich and ordinary people. This would also help increase public revenue and provide increased revenue for public services.

The AGM then heard a valuable contribution on the Greek left government, Syriza, by Isidoros Diakides (Greece Solidarity Campaign and a Haringey councillor). He painted a picture of just how severe the plight of the Greeks people had become.

The day’s debates that followed these well-argued talks were wide ranging. Many different points were raised. Meacher’s principal explanation for Labour’s defeat – the feeling that Miliband was not to be trusted with the economy – received support. However appealing Labour policies on issues such as the living wage and increased workers’ rights were, they had not stood up clearly to the Tories in this area. Accepting tight fiscal policy, and the need to cutting back on public spending, was a principal problem.

Austerity had to be fought. This was one of the reasons why Meacher had now “switched” support in the Labour Party leadership campaign to Jeremy Corbyn.

Yet some new Labour MPs had managed to win by reaching out into the community. The undermining of the ground of social democratic politics was discussed. The view that British politics could melt down and prepare the way for a Syriza or a Podemos did not get much backing. The differences between Greek, Spanish and our economies and politics were underlined, from the scale of the economic disaster in Greece to the extent of corruption in Spain, which stimulated the rise of these parties, were mentioned. Problems with Podemos, such as its vertical structure, were mentioned.

For others there was the issue of Scottish nationalism and the high vote for UKIP (despite their failure to secure more than one MP). It was suggested that constitutional issues remained central. A candidate who had stood for the Bermondsey  Republican Socialists in London took the view that the whole electoral process had become irrelevant.

Somebody pointed out that the Republican socialist had received 20 votes in the General Election (0.0%).

We think we can guess who that somebody was.

There was panel on migration, racism and nationalism.

Don Flynn (Migrant Rights Network) warned the meeting of a new clampdown on migrants. ‘Illegal’ workers will find their wages treated as criminal revenue and confiscated. Tehmina Kazi (Muslims for Secular Democracy) spoke on the twin threats of prejudice against Muslims and the rise of intolerant Islam. Secularism, universal rights, was the alternative to both. She cited, as a young woman her inspiration: Southall Black Sisters and the beloved Gita Segal.

Andy Greeg (Race on the Agenda) outlined the issues involved in different ethnic or ‘race’ policies and the problems of politics which depended on ‘community leaders’. He mentioned that the Conservatives had actively sought support from Hindus. The election results showed that the Tories had scored well in this constituency, and amongst Sikhs. Labour could not take the Black and Minority Vote for granted.

A high-point of the day was a talk, “Cartooning against the Coalition’, illustrated by magic lantern, by the cartoonist, Martin Rowson.

It is hard to recall the name of the politician whose face he described as resembling a “balloon full of sick”.

We will leave it to readers to imagine who it is.

More on Chartist Magazine

Parti de Gauche Backs Left Kurdish HDP Party in Turkish Elections.

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French Left Backs our Kurdish Sisters and Brothers. 

The Parti de Gauche (Left Party), one of the largest components of the Front de Gauche (Left Front) in France, has issued a statement in support of the HDP saying that HDP’s overcoming the electoral threshold in the general elections to be held on 7 June is vital to the future of Turkey and of Rojava.

Reports The Kurdish Question.

The statement of Parti de Gauche drew attention to the importance of the general elections in Turkey to be held on 7 June, stressing that the elections might open the possibility for the realisation of a democratic, social, peaceful and anti-capitalist project defending the rights of the workers and the minorities (Kurdish, Alevi people, LGBT individuals, women, etc. ) as well as promoting ecology and the protection of the environment.

The statement stressed that that project is today defended in Turkey by the HDP, which is the sole political force able to break the political hegemony of the AKP, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and its government.

The statement said: “The power in Ankara has understood this: While the AKP representatives hold offensive speeches and stigmatise the HDP as a “terrorist organisation” or as “dangerous for democracy”, they do not seek to bring to light the bombings on the HDP election offices that were carried out in Mersin and Adana on 8 May 2015”.

French Left Party also drew attention to the 10 % electoral threshold of in Turkey, calling it undemocratic and unjust, and stressed that the HDP’s having votes over the threshold will undermine the will of Erdoğan to strengthen his grip on the society by changing the Constitution towards presidential system and greater authoritarianism. The statement also said a probable victory of the AKP would be a threat to peace and exacerbate the abuses of liberties, secularism and women’s rights, adding that worse would be the continuation of the support of the AKP government to ISIS gangs to break the autonomy of Rojava, despite the failure of this strategy in Kobanê.

The statement concluded by stressing the support of the Parti de Gauche to HDP and its candidates in the elections, adding that the people of Turkey demonstrated that they would not give in to this repression as has been proved by the events of Gezi and the successful results obtained by Selahattin Demirtaş, the co-chair of the HDP in the presidential election in 2014.

The Parti de Gauche’s best known figure is JeanLuc Mélenchon.

Turkey’s general election set for Sunday is predicted to be one of closest in more than a decade for the ruling AK Party. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan increasingly is targeting the HDP, the pro-Kurdish opposition party, which is seeking for the first time to enter parliament as a political party. A surge in political attacks on the HDP has coincided with an increase in the number of violent attacks against the party.

With just a few days of campaigning left before the June 7 election, the pro-Kurdish HDP is facing growing political violence. Police used tear gas and rubber bullets to try and stop protesters trying to break up a HDP party rally in the eastern city of Erzurum.

In the same region, a mob attacked an HDP campaign bus and set it on fire. The bus’s driver was reportedly injured; how seriously is unknown. An HDP activist was fatally shot Wednesday night in southeastern Turkey near his campaign bus, which was raked with gunfire.

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The wave of political violence follows a speech in the same region Wednesday by Erdogan, in which he strongly condemned the pro-Kurdish party.

“The Armenian lobby, homosexuals and those atheists – all these representatives of sedition benefit from any HDP success,” said Erdogan.

Even though the president is bound by the constitution to be impartial, he has been stepping up his political rhetoric against the HDP. Recent opinion polls indicate the party will just pass the 10-percent electoral threshold required for parliamentary representation.

Original statement:

Le Parti de Gauche soutient les candidat-e-s du HDP

Des élections législatives ont lieu le 7 juin en Turquie. Elles constituent pour les citoyen-ne-s turcs/turques une opportunité pour faire avancer un projet démocratique, social, pacifique et anticapitaliste défendant les droits des travailleurs/travailleuses, des minorités (kurdes, alévis, LGBTI, droits des femmes) et promouvant l’écologie et la protection de l’environnement.

C’est le projet défendu par la coalition HDP (Parti démocratique des peuples), seule force politique en mesure de briser l’hégémonie politique du parti AKP, du Président Recep Tayyip Erdogan et de son gouvernement. Le pouvoir d’Ankara l’a bien compris : tenant un discours violent et stigmatisant le HDP qualifié d’ « organisation terroriste » ou de « danger pour la démocratie » par des responsables de l’AKP, il ne cherche pas non plus à faire la lumière sur les attentats à la bombe dont les bureaux du HDP ont été victimes dans les villes d’Adana et de Mersin le 18 mai 2015.

Le système électoral turc, profondément injuste, impose aux listes en présence de franchir la barre des 10% pour être représentées au parlement. Atteindre ce seuil constituerait pour le HDP une première victoire. Cela mettrait à mal la volonté du Président Erdogan de renforcer son emprise sur la société turque en modifiant la Constitution vers davantage de présidentialisme et d’autoritarisme. À l’inverse, une victoire de l’AKP serait une menace pour la paix et aggraverait les atteintes aux libertés, à la laïcité, aux droits des femmes avec la mise en œuvre d’une insupportable politique de régression sociale. Pire encore, le soutien du régime turc aux forces de l’État Islamique visant à briser l’autonomie du Rojava (Kurdistan syrien) se poursuivrait, malgré l’échec retentissant de cette stratégie délétère à Kobané.

Le peuple turc ne se résigne pas à cette éventualité comme l’ont démontré les manifestations de Gezi, les événements de la place Taksim et le succès du candidat du HDP, Selahattin Demirtas, aux dernières élections présidentielles de 2014.

Pour ces élections législatives turques, le Parti de Gauche apporte tout son soutien au HDP et à ses candidat-e-s.

Written by Andrew Coates

June 5, 2015 at 11:43 am

Atena Farghadani, Iranian Cartoonist, facing a dozen years behind bars for drawing cartoons.

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Reported to be the offending Atena Farghadani cartoon

Our Comrade Faces 12 Years in an Iranian Gaol for Drawing this

Iranian artist-activist Atena Farghadani has been handed a 12 year prison sentence by Tehran’s Revolutionary Court for posting a cartoon in protest at legislation to restrict birth-control and make divorce more difficult in her country. The illustration, in which Iran’s parliamentarians were depicted with animal heads, was posted on Farghadani’s Facebook page.

After spending nine months in prison awaiting trial, during which time she reportedly suffered a heart attack while on a hunger strike, Farghadani has been found guilty of “insulting members of parliament through paintings” and “insulting the Iranian supreme leader.”

The 28-year-old painter had also been charged with “gathering and colluding with anti-revolutionary individuals and deviant sects” for contact she had with families of political prisoners and followers of the Baha’i faith during a painting exhibition.  The exhibition — Parandegan-e Khak (Birds of Earth) —  focused attention on protesters killed by government forces in the wake of Iran’s contested 2009 election.

More here

CARTOONISTS RIGHTS

Originally signaled by Ex-Muslims Forum.

Amnesty International adds (today).

Atena Farghadani

Atena Farghadani is a prisoner of conscience, sentenced to over 12 years in prison for her peaceful activism.

28-year-old Atena was tried on 19 May on charges including ‘spreading propaganda against the system’ and ‘insulting members of parliament through paintings’. She was sentenced to 12 years and nine months in prison.

Ahead of her trial, more than 33,000 of you signed our petition to the Iranian authorities calling for Atena’s release. We continue to call on Iran’s Supreme Leader and Head of the Judiciary to release Atenda immediately – she has committed no crime. The fight for her freedom continues.

Last August, 12 members of the Revolutionary Guards came to Atena’s house. They confiscated her personal belongings, blindfolded her and took her to Tehran’s notorious Evin Prison.  She was to be punished for her peaceful acts of political defiance, including meeting the families of political prisoners and for posting on Facebook a cartoon she’d drawn that was critical of members of the Iranian parliament.

Iran is currently creating a law that will roll back women’s rights in the country by restricting access to contraception and criminalising voluntary sterilisation. Atena’s cartoon, which depicted politicians in favour of this Bill, is now being held against her – one of the charges she has been convicted of is ‘insulting members of parliament through paintings’.

While in prison last year, Atena flattened paper cups to use them as a surface to paint on. When the prison guards realised what she had been doing, they confiscated her paintings and stopped giving her paper cups. When Atena found some cups in the bathroom, she smuggled them into her cell. Soon after, she was beaten by prison guards, when she refused to strip naked for a full body search. Atena says that they knew about her taking the cups because they had installed cameras in the toilet and bathroom facilities – cameras detainees had been told were not operating.

Atena was released in November last year, but rearrested just six weeks later. In the time that she was released, she gave media interviews and posted a video on youtube describing how the prison guards had interrogated her for nine hours every day for six weeks. She said that female prison guards had beaten her and subjected her to degrading body searches.

Just weeks after posting her youtube video, Atena was once again arrested – possibly as reprisal for speaking out.

She was sentenced to 12 yeas and nine months on  charges including

  • Gathering and colluding against national security
  • Spreading propaganda against the system
  • Insulting members of parliament through paintings
  • Insulting her interrogators

Atena is a prisoner of conscience – she has committed no real crime. She is being unfairly punished simply for exercising her right to free speech, association and assembly.

Atena was kept in solitary confinement for over two weeks when she was detained last year in Tehran’s notorious Evin prison. During that time she was denied access to her lawyer or family. After her release from detention, she said that she’d been beaten by prison guards.

Three weeks after she was rearrested in January this year, Atena went on hunger strike to protest that she was being held in extremely poor prison conditions, in a jail that does not have a section for political prisoners. Atena’s health suffered considerably as a result; her lawyer told us that the 28-year-old had suffered a heart attack and briefly lost consciousness in late February as a result of her hunger strike.

Atena has since been moved to another detention centre and stopped her hunger strike, but we remain worried about her health.

Written by Andrew Coates

June 3, 2015 at 5:08 pm