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Shamima Begum: accused of responsibilities to face up to, she has rights.

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Was Begum a member of the  Isis all-female Al-Khansaa Brigade, who enforced women’s dress rules?

This has caught the headlines.

Shamima Begum: IS bride ‘given legal aid’ for citizenship fight

BBC.

Legal aid has been granted for Shamima Begum – who joined the Islamic State group aged 15 – to fight the decision to revoke her UK citizenship.

The 19-year-old, who left east London in 2015, was stripped of her citizenship in February, after she was found in a Syrian refugee camp.

Her family has previously said it planned to challenge the decision.

Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said the Legal Aid Agency’s decision to assist Ms Begum made him “very uncomfortable”.

Legal aid is financial assistance provided by the taxpayer to those unable to afford legal representation themselves, whether they are accused of a crime or a victim who seeks the help of a lawyer through the court process.

It is means-tested and availability has been cut back significantly in recent years.

This Blog agrees with this statement:

The I’ . Florence Sneed reports, nevertheless has also reported on  this:

Shamima Begum: Isis bride ‘was discipline enforcer for group’s morality police’

Shamima Begum, who left London aged 15 to join Isis, served in the terror group’s “morality police” to help enforce strict rules among female members, according to reports.

Ms Begum is said to have been allowed to carry a Kalashnikov rifle and earned a reputation for being a strict “enforcer” on issues such as women’s clothing.

The teenager, who is now 19, previously said she was “just a housewife” after being tracked down to a Syrian refugee camp earlier this year.

But sources have said she had a paid role as an enforcer of discipline in which she likely ordered the imprisonment and lashing of women in Raqqa, according to the Sunday Telegraph.

It reported that Ms Begum is also thought to have been actively trying to recruit other women across Europe during her time in city.

Other reports suggest the teenager – who has since been stripped of her British citizenship – went as far as preparing suicide vests and sewing them on to would-be bombers.

The Independent added this detail,

One activist quoted by the newspaper said Begum had been seen holding an automatic weapon and shouting at Syrian women in the city of Raqqa for wearing brightly coloured shoes.

“Members of our group from Raqqa knew her well,” said Aghiad al-Kheder, an activist from Deir ez-Zor who founded an anti-Isis collective that published information about Isis crimes from sources on the ground.

This leads to the following report, (Independent)

Isis: British women led by Aqsa Mahmood ‘running sharia police unit for Islamic State in Syria’

The ICSR says it monitors 25 British female jihadists who have left their lives in the UK to support Isis.

The brigade’s women are reportedly paid a monthly salary of 25,000 Syrian Pounds (roughly £100), says TRAC, for duties that are not involved with acts of terror – instead insurgency operations.

They are not the only all-female brigade, either, with another – Umm Al-Rayan – also created around the same time.

Security services believe that it is likely that the women will know the true identity of ‘Jihadi John’, the Isis fighter believed to be the person responsible for the beheading of American journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff.

According to Syria Deeply, the al-Khansaa brigade has also been tasked with cracking down on civilian women who fail to abide by the ultra-strict brand of sharia law implemented by Isis, including that women be fully covered in public and be chaperoned by a male.

An Isis official in Raqqa reportedly said: “We have established the brigade to raise awareness of our religion among women, and to punish women who do not abide by the law.

“There are only women in this brigade, and we have given them their own facilities to prevent the mixture of men and women.”

These are serious charges which Begum must face up to.

It will be interesting to hear the response from this quarter.

Shamima Begum said that at the time she had accepted Isis’s line that the Manchester bombing was justified as form of retaliation. But she went on to say that it wasn’t “fair” on the women and children killed in Mancheser.

And she suggested there was an equivalence between the Manchester bombing and the mass murder by the West in the Middle East.

Certainly it is utterly hypocritical to hear denunciations of violence from those who backed mass slaughter in Iraq and Afghanistan, urged on the devastation of Libya and support the bombing and starving of Yemen.

The West is responsible for the horrors of Isis. Had it not been for its imperialist wars in the Middle East, there would have been no Isis for Shamima Begum and her school friends to join.

Many liberals fall into the trap of seeing a division between “good” and “bad Muslims”—such as Shamima Begum who deserve to feel the full force of the law. But any Muslim that dares to question British foreign policy is considered to be a “bad Muslim” by the British state.

Socialist Worker. 20th of February 2019.

Begum, if the case against her is proved, was an active participant in genocide.

There is no doubt whatsoever about the nature of the mass killings carried our by Daesh.

Only the politically confused can try to excuse the genociders of ISIS and aided by the Islamic Morality Police by pointing to the crimes of Western powers.

Only hypocrites and liars can throw responsibility for their crimes onto ‘the West’. 

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Written by Andrew Coates

April 15, 2019 at 12:05 pm

Christchurch Massacre, Some Bad Responses from the Left.

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Incredibly moving: New Zealand mosque shooting: Children perform impromptu haka in tribute to murdered classmates

Would that we could say the same about the response from some on the British left.

“It seems beyond doubt that what did motivate the killer”, writes Lindsey German, the Convener of the Stop the War Coalition, “and his potential accomplices was precisely the ideology of fascism and far right ideas, which have at their centre the scapegoating of minorities of various sorts, but also the destruction of any kind of left political presence, the eradication of the trade unions, and the promotion of ‘white culture’ as superior to any other.”

We get no further than these recycled truisms,  in describing the ideas behind this murder’s attack in Socialist Worker, “He declared himself an “eco-fascist” most inspired by Oswald Mosley, leader of the British Union of Fascists in the 1930s.” Tomáš Tengely-Evans

While the SWP blames a “climate of Islamophobia” German puts the origins in capitalism, which apparently, always has a “pre-eminent form of racism”. Without explaining how private ownership and the free market, or neo-liberalism,  selected this form, the Counterfire leader  continues, ” the mainstream politicians and media who have spent the last decade and more attacking Muslims on a regular basis, decrying their dress and eating habits, declaring them subscribers to a uniquely violent and pro-terrorist religion, and using the horrific grooming cases to attribute blame to Muslim men in general.” The conclusion, “Islamophobia is encouraged and sometimes orchestrated by states, governments, police forces, and in this sense is the major racism in Europe and North America.”  (Capitalism always has a pre-eminent form of racism; it’s our task to identify, locate and defeat it, argues Lindsey German.)

The massacre in Christchurch is, to German,  the product of Islamophobia. – fear of Islam, a religion.

Apparently this  is “no accident”.

Are we surprised when all this happens that some of the filth becomes a motivator for those who are willing to use physical violence to kill Muslims, and to justify it in the name of the ‘clash of civilisations’ or ‘preserving western culture’? Are we surprised also when, having waged war on Muslim countries for close on two decades, western societies have to demonise the people whose countries they have invaded and occupied?

One of the best known faces of the Stop the War Coalition  therefore dispenses with the need to look at the ideology of Brenton Tarrant, he is just the vehicle of greater forces. The Great Replacement, the ‘anti-imperialist’ Red-Brown Identitarian ideas of the killer (very far from reducible to concern about Islam), are, ignored. For the SWP,  his ideas, after being related to Oswald Mosley by the SWP, are, equally reduced to the “climate” of hostility, not just to people, but to a religion.

While it the way they underlined ideology seemed a step forward to see ideas being taken seriously, as a material force, two steps backwards for German and it’s all down to capitalism.

But how exactly does capitalism generate hatred of Muslims?

The revolutionary socialist will doubtless reply that Islamophobia is a product of Western military interventions, which are, it goes without saying, led by capitalist countries. Few would even begin to account for prejudices, or organised hatred,, such as anti-Semitism, in such terms.

Above all can the present clashes in the Middle East be understood through the classical ‘anti-imperialist’ angle?

Let’s take the most recent case: is the Assad regime and the civil war in Syria a product of the ‘West’?

Rohini Hensman suggests that the attempt to overthrow Assad by democratically inspired revolt, is key:

 …neo-Stalinist anti-imperialists and their followers refused to treat the Syrian revolution on par with the Egyptian revolution, although both were part of the wave of Arab uprisings. Instead, they assimilated it to the model of ‘regime change’ employed by the US in Iraq! This is a position that reeks of racism: Apparently Syrians are backward savages incapable of wanting to throw off a brutal regime that was looting and oppressing them, and therefore the uprising must have been orchestrated by Obama using ISIS, which he sponsored. This was the story peddled by Assad’s and Putin’s media and repeated by Trump, and, in a watered-down version by the likes of Seumas Milne, who, I recently discovered, was part of a hardcore Stalinist faction in the CPGB which welcomed Soviet tanks in Czechoslovakia. The same media are behind the demonisation of the White Helmets, the rescue workers digging survivors out of the rubble after bombing raids by Syrian and Russian warplanes.

Inconsistent Anti-Imperialism, Selective Solidarity

German’s Stop the War Coalition (StWC) dutifully reflected the Seumas Milne Line.

If that’s not enough to morally disqualify them,  German completely ignores the independent agency of the Kurds, who, without any other help, have called on US aid, to defeat the Islamist genociders of the Islamic State.

A little bit of modesty would lead her, and her comrades, to reflect on the victims of these people, perhaps the Yazidis.

The book  Long Shot: My Life As a Sniper in the Fight Against ISIS (2019) by  Azad Cudi is a heartbreaking, account of resistance to the Jihadist murderers by the Kurdish fighters, from the embattled heroism of the defenders of Kobanî to the present day fight in what is now the  Syrian Democratic Forces SDF.

This lonely fight continues, under the immediate threat of Turkish and now Syrian army attack.

German might have a sliver of credibility if she took account of the autonomous struggle of such heroic people against the Islamist genociders.

Would she even dare..

All we have got to hear the same old line, already churned out so many times in the past it’s easy to know it.

This what German said about the London and Manchester Jihadist murders in 2017.

This climate of racism here in the UK, and elsewhere in Europe, is only helping to create a vicious circle where Islamophobia leads to a growth in extremism and terrorism, which in turn leads to more Islamophobia. It is a circle which can only be broken by a concerted campaign against both war and Islamophobia.

War, Terrorism & Islamophobia: Breaking The Vicious Circle. Lindsey German

In other words, it’s not the fault of the terrorist murderers, but of Islamophobia and Western interventions.

We have to campaign against “war” – including the Kurdish resistance? – and hostility to a religion.

Nothing about the need for building solidarity amongst the peoples of the world, nothing about being against all racism, including that of the Islamist genociders.

The following looks a better way to begin to look at some of these issues,.

In discussing Rohini Hensman’s book Ralph Leonard says,

In her final section, Rohini offers some suggestions as to how to fight back against the scourge of neo-Stalinism and neo-fascism and form an alternative, independent and more consistent democratic and internationalist politics: by pursuing and telling the truth; bringing morality and humanity back into politics; reasserting the value of the global struggle for democracy; placing internationalism center stage and pressuring global institutions like the UN to promote human rights and democracy.

I agree with all of this. My only minor criticism would be that we should not rely on international institutions like the EU and the UN to be agents of social and political change. These institutions, as they currently exist, are not fit for purpose and need to be radically changed, or replaced with alternative institutions born of popular struggles. Nevertheless, I very much agree with Hensman, particularly about the importance of internationalism. In this second age of globalization, capitalism is a well and truly global phenomenon and the economies of nations are more integrated than ever before. This means that any potential progressive anti-capitalist movement would also have to be a global movement, especially since an international working class now truly exists, far more so than in the days of Marx and Engels.

Book Review: “Indefensible” by Rohini Hensman – The Left and “pseudo anti-imperialism”

 

 

Justice for the Yazidi Survivors of Islamic State Killings.

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Yazidis wait for justice against the ISIS Genociders.

Shamima Begum: IS teenager to lose UK citizenship.

Let’s not forget this story.

For Yazidi Survivors of Islamic State Killings, the Nightmares Go On

Ever since Islamic State visited death and destruction on their villages in northern Iraq nearly five years ago, Yazidis Daoud Ibrahim and Kocher Hassan have had trouble sleeping.

For Hassan, 39, who was captured, it is her three missing children, and three years of imprisonment at the hands of the jihadist group.

For Ibrahim, 42, who escaped, it is the mass grave that he returned to find on his ravaged land.

“They burnt one house down, blew up the other, they torched the olive trees two three times. … There is nothing left,” the father of eight told Reuters.

More than 3,000 other members of their minority sect were killed in 2014 in an onslaught that the United Nations described as genocidal.

Mahmoud Khalaf, her husband, says Islamic State not only destroyed their livelihoods. The group broke the trust between Yazidis and the communities of different faiths and ethnicities they had long lived alongside.

“There is no protection. Those who killed us and held us captive and tormented us have returned to their villages,” Khalaf, 40, said, referring to the neighboring Sunni Arab villages who the Yazidis say conspired with the militants. “We have no choice but to stay here. … They are stronger than us.

SURVIVORS OF ISIS GENOCIDE HAVE NOTHING, FOUR YEARS LATER

BY SETH J. FRANTZMAN
 FEBRUARY 20, 2019

As the war against ISIS enters its final phases the victims of ISIS are still suffering.

Hundreds of thousands remain in displaced persons camps and cities and towns across Iraq and Syria are still in ruins. Many religious minorities, especially Yazidis and Christians, cannot return to their homes, which were often laced with ISIS bombs or destroyed.

ISIS carried out its worst mass murder between June and August 2014, targeting Bedouin tribes in Syria, Shi’ites in Camp Speicher and Tal Afar, and then Christians in Mosul and Nineveh plains in Iraq. In August 2014, Yazidis in Sinjar awoke to news that Islamic State was attacking villages across areas of northern Iraq where their minority group lives. Within days more than 300,000 Yazidis had to flee and more than 10,000 were kidnapped by ISIS. In their most brutal and cruel act of a long list of atrocities, ISIS separated the Yazidi men and women and put the women on buses to be sold into slavery. In scenes reminiscent of the Holocaust they then took the men and elderly women and systematically murdered them, dumping their bodies into mass graves across northern Iraq’s Sinjar region.

…..

In December 2015 the mass grave sites had been recently discovered. Some of their locations were known because Yazidis who had fled to Sinjar mountain were able to look down on the plains below and watch as ISIS murdered their relatives. In rare cases survivors of the massacres, hiding under the bodies or having escaped somehow, brought news back. There are exact parallels to the mass murder of Jews by the Einsatzgruppen during the Holocaust. I was struck by the fact that the mass graves looked identical to photos I’d seen from the Shoah. I was not prepared however to see the matted human hair, the skulls, the soccer jerseys and blindfolds the people wore, decaying on the ground. When I arrived it was more than a year after the bodies were dumped in the ground. Rain had brought the bones and human remains up to the surface. People said that stray dogs had eaten at the bodies. And this happened in August 2014, before the world’s eyes with basically no attempt to stop the mass killing, despite the fact that drones could easily have seen what was going on. From 1941 to 2014, nothing changed, except the fact that ISIS used smart phones to make videos cheering the killing, videos uploaded to social media.

Written by Andrew Coates

February 20, 2019 at 1:27 pm

Turkey Shells Kurds in Syria.

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Turkey, US finalize steps for joint patrols in Manbij

Turkey and US to Jointly Clear Northern Syrian Manbig of Kurdish YPG forces.

While the rest of the world was looking at the Khashoggi killing in the Saudi Istanbul Consulate…

The state run Turkish News Agency Anadolu announces today:

Turkey, US finalize steps for joint patrols in Manbij  Kasim Ileri

‘Mission rehearsals and interoperability training for combined patrols are complete, says Pentagon

Turkey and the United States have completed preparations for joint patrols in northern Syria’s Manbij area, a Pentagon spokesman said Monday.

The patrols are part of a roadmap between Turkey and the U.S. that focuses on the withdrawal of forces of the PKK’s Syrian affiliate YPG to stabilize the city, which is in Aleppo province.

“Mission rehearsals and interoperability (note: ???????) training for combined patrols outside Manbij city are complete,” said Cmdr. Sean Robertson. “Both forces are resetting in order to begin combined patrols.”

Without providing an exact date, Robertson said the rehearsals were grounded in synchronizing Turkish and American forces’ ability to conduct patrols outside of Manbij.

“The mission rehearsals address safety and familiarizations (Note ??????) with combined tactical operations,” he said.

The training program included rehearsals of mounted patrol operations, weapons training, IED procedures, vehicle recovery, stabilizing traffic control points and situation de-escalation exercises.

Another spokesperson for the Pentagon, Lieutenant Colonel Kone Faulkner, said the patrols “should be in shortly.”

A defense official, who asked not to be named, told Anadolu Agency that the patrols are expected to begin in “a couple of days” or in “less than a week”.

This happened on Sunday:

Turkey Strikes U.S.-Backed Kurds After Erdogan’s ‘Final Warning’.

(Bloomberg) — Turkey fired on U.S.-backed Syrian Kurdish militants in northern Syria on Sunday, moving ahead with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s vow to rout them from his country’s southern border.

Turkish howitzers targeted positions held by the YPG fighters on the eastern flank of the Euphrates River that splits northern Syria roughly into eastern and western halves, state-run Anadolu news agency said. Turkey had earlier pushed out the American allies from most of the border areas to the west of the river, seeing them as an extension of PKK separatists it’s battled for decades at home.

Sunday’s shelling, albeit limited in scope, threatens to increase tensions between Ankara and Washington, which backed the Kurdish fighters because it saw them as best equipped to drive Islamic State fighters from Syria. The attack on YPG came just two days after Erdogan accused the U.S. of stalling on a June agreement to push the group away from the town of Manbij on the western flank of the Euphrates, and said he was warning Kurdish fighters for the last time to retreat.

Turkey shells US-backed Kurdish fighters’ positions in Syria: State media.

Middle East Eye.

Turkey’s military has fired artillery shells at a Kurdish armed group in Syria that is backed by the United States but deemed a terrorist group by Ankara, state-run Anadolu news agency has reported.

The shells targeted “shelters” of the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) east of the Euphrates River in the Kobane region of northern Syria on Sunday, Anadolu said.

The move comes two days after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan issued what he said was a “final warning” to those who would endanger Turkey’s borders, saying Ankara was determined to focus its attention on Syrian Kurdish fighters east of the Euphrates.

The bombardments also come a day after Erdogan hosted a summit in Istanbul on the Syrian conflict with the leaders of Russia, France and Germany, in which they adopted a joint statement committing to work “together in order to create conditions for peace and stability in Syria”.

The strikes targeted YPG positions and trenches on a hill near the eastern bank of the Euphrates, across the river from the city of Jarablus, AFP news agency reported.

The YPG, which has been a key ally of the US in the fight against the Islamic State group, took control of large areas of northeast Syria in 2012 as government forces pulled out to fight rebels in the west

However, Ankara is bitterly opposed to the group, regarding it as an extension of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has waged a deadly insurgency in Turkey since 1984.

The PKK is designated as a terrorist group by Turkey and its Western allies.

Washington’s support of the YPG remains a major point of contention between the US and Turkey, NATO allies who have seen relations deteriorate over the last two years.

Both oppose Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, but Turkey’s military incursions have recently focused more on Kurdish fighters near its border.

Turkey has launched two offensives west of the Euphrates since 2016 to repel “radical” fighters from its border and prevent zones under YPG control from joining.

The offensives include an operation against YPG forces in northern Syria’s Afrin region earlier this year, which saw thousands of Kurds displaced from their homes.

Spokesperson says Turkey violates US-Turkish agreement on Manbij

Kurdistan 24.

RBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Sharvan Darwish, spokesperson of the Manbij Military Council (MMC), on Sunday accused the Turkish-backed Euphrates Shield rebels of targeting MMC positions in Manbij and villages near the city, such as al-Harima, Kareidiya, and al-Hamran.

“A woman who was working in an olive field with her family was severely injured. This deliberate acts by these factions, acting under direct Turkish command, violate the terms of the initiative put forward by international coalition forces with the Turkish side to end tensions and conflicts, and establish security and stability in this area,” he said about the Turkish cross-border shelling that happened Sunday morning.

On June 4, Turkish Foreign Minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, met with US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, where the two endorsed a “general roadmap” for Manbij that was “conditions-based,” and included the establishment of joint Turkish-US patrols on the demarcation line separating the MMC and the Turkish backed forces. So far, US troops are still in Turkey for training to create these joint patrols.

“We in the MMC, in order to create stability, have worked hard with the international coalition forces to implement this initiative, which is in the interest of our people in Manbij, specifically for the people living near the demarcation line,” Darwish explained.

“The factions operating under the banner of the Turkish army [could damage] any serious and sincere approach [by Washington and Ankara] working for the benefit of the local population,” the official warned.

He accused the Turkish-backed factions and the Turkish army of provoking tensions, which could lead to war and an “end to the stability in Manbij,” suggesting they were “tampering with civilian lives.”

The MMC “confirms to the public that repercussions to these provocations are directly borne by the Turkish military forces, which support and push these factions to carry out these acts,” Darwish argued.

“While we stress that we will take the measures required to deter these successive provocations, we ask the parties concerned to prevent escalation and tension for the Syrian situation to work.”

Darwish also noted that the current tensions were destabilization the security of Manbij, which it had not witnessed “since its liberation from Daesh [Arab acronym for IS].”

Turkish armed forces shelled the People’s Protection Units (YPG) positions east of the Euphrates River, in Syrian Kurdistan (Rojava), with Turkish state media, Anadolu Agency, claiming the attack was “within the scope of self-defense.”

The Turkish bombardments targeted “the villages of Zormikhar, Charikhli, Siftek, and Ashme, all of them located west of [Kobani], with tank, mortar, and howitzer fire,” the YPG said in a statement.

In the shelling, Mohammed Kobani, a conscript was killed in the village of Zor Maghar, and two others were injured.

The Democratic Union Party (PYD) on Sunday accused Western countries of remaining silent toward Turkish provocations and cross-border bombings following a quartet meeting between Turkey, Russia, Germany, and France on the Syrian crisis, in Istanbul.

“We emphasize that, without this position, Erdogan would have not dared to bomb northern Syria,” the PYD alleged.

“Therefore, we call on everyone not to submit to the blackmail and threat of Turkey, and to do their duty to create a solution to the Syrian crisis, without excluding the representatives of the real people of Syria,” the PYD concluded.

Editing by Nadia Riva.

Just to remind people what people in Syria have faced, the tragedy of Yazids has been put on film by the Kurdish activists.

Heartbreaking film on Ezidis introduces the Kurdistan Memory Programme

Written by Andrew Coates

October 30, 2018 at 1:47 pm

On Louis Proyect’s The Rhetoric of Anti-Imperialism and the European left.

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Idlib, Syria: Thousands protest peacefully against Assad’s war, Friday 14 September.

Louis Proyect has just published this article (in Counterpunch), of significance not only in the US but for the European left, and across the word.

On the Rhetoric of Anti-Imperialism.

Beginning with an overview  of “Rohini Hensman’s recently published Indefensible: Democracy, Counterrevolution, and the Rhetoric of Anti-Imperialism” it extends to a wider series of reflections.

Project tunes into some of the key ethical and political problems, thrown up by a number of intense  conflicts across the world since 2011 and the response of various parts of the left to them.

In each of them the politics of an ‘anti-imperialism’, limited to opposing the ‘West’ (and de facto backing, amongst others, Assad’s regime, Putin and , though he mentions this to a much lesser degree, Iran) has been called into question.

Rohini Hensman’s recently published Indefensible: Democracy, Counterrevolution, and the Rhetoric of Anti-Imperialism is an important contribution to the debate that has divided the left since 2011, the year that Syria became a litmus test. For some, support for Bashar al-Assad became tantamount to backing Franco in the Spanish Civil War while others saw my perspective as lending support to the USA, Israel, Saudi Arabia and other reactionary states carrying out the same neoconservative foreign policy that turned Iraq into a failed state.

In other respects, he observes that on a range of social and economic issues the US left was united (“ranging from defending immigrant rights to opposing fracking),at the start of the decade.

But, “The polarization deepened in 2014 when the Euromaidan protest became litmus test number two.”

“As was the case with Syria, the overwhelming majority of the left sided with Yanukovych who was seen as a progressive leader ousted by a coup organized and funded by the CIA. When war broke out in eastern Ukraine, the Kremlin-backed militias were freedom fighters while Kyiv became a tool of NATO and Western banks. Trying to avoid such geopolitical dualities became difficult, if not impossible.”

This could equally be seen here. The left (with at least some hope of a wider political influence than the US left, which was increasing after Ed Miliband began his Labour leadership)  has in general terms  been united on issues such as anti-austerity. This has parallels across Europe, although since that time the EU (UK) or sovereigntism has become  dividing lines.

It was during the Ukraine crisis that the same divisions over international issues, as in the US, became serious.

There was (lightly covered) with support for Putin and the Russian Federation’s claims  from the Morning Star, and the Stop the War Coalition (Counterfire-led) – a position not reflected so widely in the rest of Europe outside of the direct inheritors of the Stalinist parties – but also present.

Here is their activity in sharp focus,

Solidarity with the Antifascist Resistance in Ukraine’ launched in London Socialist Appeal. 2014

Lindsey German (Counterfire), Boris Kagarlitsky (Institute for globalization studies and social movements), Andrew Murray (Communist Party of Britain), Alan Woods (International Marxist Tendency) and Sergei Kirichuk (Borotba) discuss the threat of fascism in Ukraine, the role of imperialism in the current situation and the need for a campaign in support of the antifascist resistance in Ukraine to provide a counterweight to the lies and distortions of the Western media.

Then there is the Middle East, where unity over opposition to the Invasion of Iraq began to crack, above all as the Arab Spring brought forth a movement for democracy against the Assad dictatorship.

Proyect talks of Syria, the cause of whose people he has been a consistent champion.

He cites US writers who have sided with Assad (and not, odd as it may seem, the worst of the red-brown Assad apologists….)

For Syrians, the notion put forward by Stephen Gowans et al that Syria was some sort of socialist utopia rivaling if not besting Kurdish Rojava was a cruel joke. Hensman writes:

Finally, it is an irony that people who see themselves as socialists fail to note the class dimension of the uprising. Janine di Giovanni provides a vivid description of the Damascus elite who support Assad: “[In June 2012,] for several weeks running, I watched the fevered hedonism of the Thursday afternoon pool parties at the Dama Rose Hotel … By lunchtime, women were rushing to hairdressers; the roads leading out of the city … were clogged with luxury cars … Restaurants such as Narenj, which … served traditional Arabic food to the elite, were still packed.” (di Giovanni 2016, 8). By contrast, in 2007 a third of Syrians were living beneath the poverty line, with nearly another third only slightly above this level. Swiss-Syrian socialist activist and scholar Joseph Daher (2016) writes that “even the regime-controlled Syrian General Federation of Trade Unions deplored in 2009 that “the rich have become richer and the poor poorer … (and) low income earners who make up 80 percent of the Syrian population are looking for additional work to support themselves”. He continues, “We must not forget that the popular revolution in Syria began as a result of social economic injustices and widespread poverty, in addition to political issues.”

This is the crucial, the crunch point: his summary of what’s facing people in Syria now:

We are now in the final hours of the seven-year ordeal in which attempts to restore the democratic values of Hourani’s government have been crushed by overwhelming air power and massive intervention by Iran, Hezbollah and Afghan mercenaries. The looming victory against “imperialism” leaves the country in shambles with dismal economic prospects and inescapable environmental disaster.

He continues, looking at the “campists” now backing, more or less openly, Assad.

A certain political myopia exists in such quarters. Despite their anti-fascist pretensions, they cannot fathom how Assad’s victory will strengthen reaction throughout the Middle East and Europe. In an interview on Portuguese television, General al-Sisi stated: “The priority is that we support the national armies to impose control over the territory, deal with the extremists, and impose the necessary stability in Libya, Syria and Iraq.” When the interviewer followed up with “When you refer to the National Army in Syria, do you mean the Syrian army?”, the General replied: “Yes.”

In  Proyect’s conclusion he suggests that capitalists, and those states who wish for  Assad’s victory, have their own interests at heart.

Hardly a surprising claim but can this be extended to speculation that a bloc is being formed out of “With Assad, al-Sisi, Putin and Haftar” in a “new axis of resistance against Islamists” or, even more speculatively, “would anybody be surprised that Netanyahu would apply for membership?2

One can only note that Louis’s belief that Boris Johnson is still UK foreign Secretary is one, amongst many reasons to doubt the emergence of such an alliance. And there is a leap from a certain support for Libya’s Hafter to….Assad, and Putin, Israel, Macron….. which is hard to jump. (“In July, Haftar met with an Israeli intelligence officer in Amman, to “deepen security coordination between him and Israel”. Not only does Haftar have these considerable forces in his corner, he can also rely on the backing of France’s President Emmanuel Macron and the UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, as well as the United Arab Emirates.”).

The conclusion is, nevertheless, worth serious reflection:

 In all their heartfelt objection to imperialism, Assad’s supporters on the left seemed to have forgotten that Lenin wrote a book titled “Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism”. If you forget about the capitalism part of his analysis, you don’t get very far.

One cannot imagine that Iran (whose capitalist rather than geopolitical and religious-ideological interest, if there is one, which it far from sure,  goes unmentioned) and Putin’s Russian Federation, have backed Assad out of a wish to strengthen a multipolar world contesting American dominance purely out of hearty anti-imperialist good will. The extent to which religious ideology as a material force in the conflicts remains unclarified, but who can seriously doubt that it plays a substantial role in these wars.

While one is certain that much of the US left, anxious at all times to distance itself from any hint of support for its own imperialist military machine, has good reason to be wary of its state’s involvement.

But today this is of utmost urgence: 

Indefensible: Idlib and the left Leila Al-Shami

Criticising the burqa means lining up with racists – says SWP.

with 7 comments

Defiant woman rips off her black burqa after ISIS were driven away. (Raqqa October. 2017)

The fall out from Boris Johnson’s comments on the Burka continues.

Nobody doubts that they have given the wink to the far-right and legitimised prejudiced diatribes against ‘Muslims’.

But there is also a pro-body veil reaction from some quarters.

Liberal people who (as a Facebook friend in the US remarks) are up in arms about the world imagined in The Handmaid’s Tale. But often the same individuals give weight to the idea that the religious obligations inflicted on women by this interpretation of Islam, are a choice to be celebrated.

There is talk – I thought it remained safely relegated to distant memories of courses on ‘theory’ – about the way it may free the female shape from the ‘male gaze’.

As if Islamic Law is about anything other than the behaviour of the believers in the sight of god enforced through violence if need be.

Not surprisingly the British SWP, with its long history of complicity with Islamism, has bent to this wind.

They are not trying to shout down criticisms of the burqa by linking them to the far-right.

Why criticising the burqa means lining up with racists

Boris Johnson’s attack on the burqa has left some liberals with a problem.

The article begins with this bold assertion:

“when supposed progressives criticise the burqa, it gives more credibility to the more overt Islamophobes.”

It then jumps to this statement,

Some liberals see the burqa as a reflection of sexist ideas.

They assume that women are pushed to cover themselves because female flesh has been deemed dirty or too exciting to men.

Of course there will be some Muslims who think this. But the idea is hardly Islamic—it’s deeply rooted in Western capitalist societies.

So that’s all right then.

Or not.

Think of rape trials where women are told they were “asking for it” because of what they wore. Or the Canadian cop who said that women should “avoid dressing like sluts” to escape sexual assault.

The SWP claims that

Many liberals, and right wingers, claim they want to “liberate” oppressed Muslim women who they assume have been forced to cover up.

Are they alone.

Apparently not:

We should oppose women being forced to wear coverings. And we should stand with the women in Iran who have defied the state and removed their hijabs in public, imprisoned as a result.

This is what the SWP said about these protests (4th of June):

Women are resisting the compulsory wearing of the headscarf—which is another very good thing happening at the same time.

Even women who want to wear it are saying it should be the right of women to choose.

As the left we have to support the women fighting back, and not leave the issue to the pro-imperialist right.

The problem is that the issue grabs attention in the West because it resonates with the Islamophobic representations of Iran.

The issue is being hijacked by Islamophobia by some in the media in the West.

End of story for the SWP until this week.

But its not Islam that’s at fault

But it isn’t true that Islam forces women to cover themselves. Like other religions, Islam suggests that men and women dress “modestly”. What this means is open to interpretation, which is why different Muslim women choose to wear different coverings, or none at all.

Women often say they choose to wear coverings to feel closer to Allah. It’s patronising to assume that every women who wears a hijab, niqab or burka has been told to do so by a man.

So they do it for Allah.

If religion is not a problem what is?

This also treats the main source of oppression facing Muslim women as Muslim men. In fact, the main oppressor of Muslim women is the state.

The state is of course the principal form of oppression for ‘women’: no doubt the ‘state’ has a special function in oppressing women……

Apart from wishing away decades of feminist debate about patriarchy, the family, and the old saying that the “personal is political’,

The confusion reaches its apex in confusing state legislation about the full body veil, ‘forcing’ women to give up the ” veils, headscarves or burqas  with the idea that criticising the burka is to “line up with racists”.

Socialists should defend a woman’s right to choose what she wears. That includes the right to wear a burqa—and the right not to wear one.

Forcing Muslim women to give up wearing veils, headscarves or burqas isn’t liberating, just as encouraging women to wear skimpy clothes isn’t. Instead it’s just another form of judging women on their appearance and dress, and taking control and choice away from them.

Is siding with the legislation, in say France, when it was backed by all the political parties at the time, the same as being on the same side as the ‘far right’?

Is ‘forcing’ people to not wear the oppressive full-body veil the same as “criticism”?

This argument gets nowhere.

Rather than point out that the SEP feels no compunction about lining up with the far-right over Brexit the issue at hand should be taken seriously.

This is a ‘liberal’ view  of a Muslim woman the SWP and others are trying to  shut up.

Boris Has Made it Almost Impossible for Muslims to Critique Veiling.

Yasmin Alibhai-Brown

In my view, scarves, cloaks and masks symbolise the negation of the female form, female inferiority and menace, and most troublingly, a wilful distancing from other humans in the public space.

One of Britain’s foremost scholars Ziauddin Sardar, has this to say on the controversial subject: “In a total perversion of Qur’anic advice, dressing modestly has been interpreted as dressing like a nun, covered from head to foot, showing only a woman’s face (in some circles only the eyes), wrists and feet.”

Females thus accept the burden of modesty while men do not, though both have this obligation. Millions of Muslim women do not submit to these pressures. One of them, a senior TV producer unloaded her frustrations in an email: “We came here to get away from these oppressive expectations. Britain offered hope, a place where you were protected by the law, could be educated, go out, be free. “You could make your own decisions, strive to be equal to men.

Now this freedom is crumbling away because of a few shouty, veiled women. Our voice remains unheard.”

She is right. Vast numbers of white Britons give us their support when most we need it. They did this week. We Muslims need to give a little too – abandon regressive customs and integrate for the greater good and our survival. With the hard right marching again across Europe, Muslims face an existential threat. This is no time for cultural and religious obstinacy.

These are her views (2015) in more depth:  As a Muslim woman, I see the veil as a rejection of progressive values.

They are much more materialist and historically rooted than airy abstractions about the ‘state’.

Muslim feminists of the past critiqued and repudiated the veil. One of them was a man, Qasim Amin, an Egyptian judge and philosopher, who in 1899 wrote The Liberation of Women.He was the John Stuart Mill of the Arab world. Huda Shaarawi set up the Egyptian women’s union in the early 1920s. One day in 1923, as she disembarked from a train in Cairo, she threw off her veil and claimed her right to be visible. Educated Iranian women started feminist magazines and campaigned against the veil around the same time. These pioneers have been written out of history or are dismissed as western stooges by some contemporary Muslim intellectuals.

After the transformative 60s, Muslim feminists resumed the fight for equality. European rule was over. It was time. The Moroccan academic Fatema Mernissi, Egypt’s Nawal El Saadawi and the Pakistani scholar Riffat Hassan all argued for female emancipation. They rightly saw the veil as a a tool and symbol of oppression and subservience. Mernissi’s Beyond the Veil ( 1975) is a classic text. So too El Saadawi’s The Hidden Face of Eve (1975). But more conservative Islamic tenets have taken over lands, communities, families, heads and hearts.

The promise of this version is a return to certainties and “purity” of belief, a mission backed by Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states. Deobandi revivalists, funded by Arab money, now run more mosques in Britain than any other Muslim subgroup. Women are told not to travel without male relatives, not to work, to be subservient, to veil. This movement began as a reaction against the Indian raj and mutated into a fundamentalist creed. Today their pushback against “cultural imperialism” appeals to many alienated young Muslims. And, in part, it explains the growing popularity of the hijab, jilbab and full veil .

But in the Qur’an, the veil is mostly used metaphorically to describe barriers between good and bad, believers and nonbelievers. In two verses, women are told to lower their gaze, and to cover their private parts and bosoms. Men are also instructed to lower their gaze, and to dress modestly. One verse commands the women in the prophet’s family to fully veil, partly to protect them from enemies and supplicants.

Sahar Amer, associate professor at the University of North Carolina, has studied these sacred injunctions: “[Nowhere] is the hijab used to describe, let alone prescribe, the necessity for Muslim women to wear a headscarf or any other pieces of clothing often seen covering women in Islamic countries today. Even after reading those passages dealing with the female dress code, one continues to wonder what exactly the hijab is: is it a simple scarf? A purdah? A chador? Or something else? Which parts of the body exactly is it supposed to cover? Just the hair? The hair and neck? The arms? Hands? Feet? Face? Eyes?”

 

All religions cast women as sinners and temptresses. Conservative Islam has revived the slander for our times

 

Veils, in truth, predate Islam. Zoroastrian and Byzantine upper-class ladies wore them to keep aloof from the hoi polloi. When Islam’s armies first reached Persia, they were shocked at this snobbery; then they adopted the custom they loathed; the control of women was hard-wired into their psyches.

All religions cast women as sinners and temptresses. Conservative Islam has revived the slander for our times. Women have to be sequestered or contained lest they raise male lust and cause public disorder. Some young Muslim women argue that veils liberate them from a modern culture that objectifies and sexualises females. That argument is appealing; but if credible, why would so many hijabis dress in tight jeans and clinging tops, and why would so many Muslim women flock to have liposuction or breast enhancements?

It is complicated: veils for me represent both religious arrogance and subjugation; they both desexualise and fervidly sexualise. Women are primarily seen as sexual creatures whose hair and bodies incite desire and disorder in the public space. The claim that veils protect women from lasciviousness and disrespect carries an element of self-deception. I have been at graduation ceremonies where shrouded female students have refused to shake the hand of the chancellor. Veiled women have provoked confrontations over their right to wear veils, in courts, at schools and in colleges and workplaces. But I regard their victories as a rejection of social compromise.

Written by Andrew Coates

August 21, 2018 at 12:15 pm

Chris Williamson MP Praises Assad Apologist.

with 5 comments

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The “Rebel” tent at The Levellers festival: Who on earth would want to attend this event?

Or this:

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Or this?

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Well now we know:

Not surprisingly Williamson has already got some stiff replies:

Vanessa Beeley — the Syrian conflict’s goddess of propaganda

Brian Whitaker. 

One spin-off from the Syrian conflict has been a war of words that reaches far beyond the Middle East. It’s a battle in which honest reporting and the search for truth have come under sustained attack.

Those leading the attack claim they are simply asking questions that need to be asked. It’s healthy scepticism, they say. But it’s a selective kind of scepticism where reports from some sources, primarily mainstream media in the west, are dismissed as untrue — not because evidence shows they are wrong but because they don’t fit the desired narrative.

At the same time, reports that do fit the narrative win praise on social media, regardless of supporting evidence, and people who venture to question them are liable to be assailed with abuse.

A prominent example is the work of Vanessa Beeley, a supporter of the Assad regime whose reports from Syria have turned her into a social media celebrity. The Russian propaganda channel, RT, describes her as “an independent investigative journalist” and, in addition to her Russian TV appearances, she is associate editor of 21st Century Wire, the conspiracy theory website that publishes most of her work.


Beeley (fourth from right) with President Assad in 2016. She described it as her proudest moment.
 

Written by Andrew Coates

August 20, 2018 at 12:42 pm