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On the Fundamentally Flawed Stop the War Coalition Statement on the London Attacks.

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StWC: Deeply Flawed Response to London Atrocities. 

The events on Saturday have left millions deeply saddened.

It is to be welcomed that the Stop the War Coalition (StWC) has responded to the murders with a serious  statement.

Nevertheless, it is deeply flawed. 

Enough is enough: the government must change course.

The Stop the War Coalition is unequivocal in its condemnation of the latest terror attack in London which has left 7 innocent people dead and many more injured. We extend our sympathy to the relatives of the dead and injured.

For those that committed this crime killing was a means to an end. Like the Manchester attack which preceded it, these murders aimed at disrupting the election, at inflaming racial and religious divisions, and at provoking the government into repressive measures. Theresa May and her ministers show every sign of doing exactly what the terrorists hope they will do.

There is a cycle of violence here in which the role of successive governments is a central part. To destroy Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria by military intervention and not expect that these ruined and abandoned societies would spawn killers and provoke violent responses was always a policy blindness bordering on the perverse. And of course, UK military forces remain deployed in all these countries to this very day.

Nor will repression based on religious or racial profiling work. The Prevent programme has not prevented terrorism. Internment in Guantanamo did not work. France has continued to suffer racist attacks despite a State of Emergency that has lasted from 2015 to the present and has seen protests banned and tens of thousands arrested.

We urgently need a serious and in depth discussion of the causes of terrorism, not knee-jerk, populist rhetoric.

What is needed is an end to the failed wars abroad; an end to arms sales to Saudi Arabia, a major international incubator of terrorist ideology; an end to racial and religious profiling which so often ends in the demonisation of Muslims.

This, and only this, will begin to drain the swamp in which the terrorists thrive. Anything else perpetuates a mutually reinforcing cycle of violence.

The difficulties with this statement centre on  the sentence that as a result of Western interventions,  ” ruined and abandoned societies would spawn killers “. The West is to be blame for having sown dragon’s teeth. The dragon is fearful, but its the sowers who are the ones responsible.

But who are the people who aim at inflaming racial and religious hatred and disrupting the election?

Not a word.

Islamic State.

 A genuine debate on these issues has to begin with this: who are the Islamic State and what are their aims?

Daesh, ISIS, the group which has claimed that its supporters carried out the killings is a Salafist jihadi group, as Gilles Kepel has called them (for a discussion of Kepel’s. Le Prophète et Pharaon 1984. and  La Fracture 2016 see here) That is, they are rigorist pietist Islamists who, in distinction to some ‘quietist’ (inward looking) Salafists  are engaged directly in violence to impose Sharia law, an Islamic society, fitted out with a totalitarian state, to impose their views. Daesh is also highly sectarian, in the original religious sense. They are marked not just by their hatred of non-Sunni Muslims but for all Sunnis who do not accept their particular ‘line’ of Quranic literalist  interpretation.

Daesh is only the most notorious Salafist Jihadist organisation. If it is, at present, within a broader mouvance, the leading group, there have been many predecessors and their continue to exist competitors. Amongst the best known early example of Salfist jihadis were the Groupe Islamique Armé  (GIA) which slaughtered  thousands during the 1990s Algerian civil war – a conflict that does not fit at all into the “Western intervention causes Terrorism” pattern. Think about it. Just ask this question: what Western military presence was there during a conflict that cost several hundred thousand lives?

At present part of the GIA forms Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, the first part of whose name, Al-Qaeda leads us to a group which needs no further introduction.

The rise of Jihadi Salafism is not doubt the result of complex conditions. But once formed it has a concrete existence. Its development can outlined, from “Micro-powers” centred around ultra-pious Mosques, attempts to create ‘zones’ where Sharia law becomes part of everyday life, to efforts to capture state authority and the means of repression that guarantee religious ‘law’ and function in the total absence of any form of democracy.

At present the most visible  material form of this Salafist Jihadist  ideology, that is a power, with its military and political presence in Iraq and Syria, is ISIS.

The Islamic State is the proximate cause, the inspirer, if not the commander, of the London bloodbath. Daesh is at present the immediate cause of these attacks.

There are is much more to discuss. Whether, as many people believe, the ground for this totalitarian entity was prepared not just by the civil war in Syria and the US-allied occupation of Iraq, but by the finance of Wahhabist Islamist teaching by Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States (which formally support Al-Nusra in Syria and not ISIS), is open to discussion.

What is not open to debate it that religion not international politics, still less “imperialism” plays the major part in Daesh’s  strategy and actions.

How should we look at this? One false route is to ignore the role of faith and simply dismiss their ideas as a “perversion” of Islam.

In the Way of Strangers  Encounters with the Islamic State |(2017) Grahame Wood observes,

The notion that religious belief is a minor factor in the rise of the Islamic State is belied by the crushing weight of evidence that religion matters deeply to the vast majority of those who have travelled to fight. Not only does it issue mountains of Fatwas and other pious declarations, but also, Wood demonstrates, the Islamic state cannot be understood without a deep immersion in the ideology of Salafism and a variety of Islamic schools. The “simplest explanation” for their roots is that their founders were “extreme Islamists”. As for effort to dismiss their faith basis, those doing so rarely have any knowledge of the clerics and scholars in its ranks.

“Since 2010, tens of thousands of men, women and children have migrated to a theoretic state, under the belief that migration is a sacred obligation and that the state’s leader is the worldly successor of the last and greatest of prophets. If religious scholars see no role for religion in a mass movement like this, they see no role for religion in the world.”

As the Blog you are reading commented,

As one reads The Way of Strangers happy talk about Islam as a “religion of peace” quickly evaporates. The ‘literalist’ Islam of the Islamic, baked by scriptural authority, state sanctions the most severe forms of Hudud punishment, slavery, infamously including sexual captives, and the regulation of all aspects of personal life fused around loathing of the non-licit and the ‘kuffer’. It is obsessed with, The Way of Strangers continues, the takfir¸ the “sport” of declaring those who disagree with them and claim to be Muslims “apostates” under sentence of death. It has genocidal intentions, already put into practice against Yazidis. Wild dreams of a worldwide apocalypse the Islamic state’s followers, to come in decades not months, round off the picture.

Attacks by ISIS inspired, or organised, individuals and groups did not start in Britain.

In 2014 a man opened fire in the Jewish Museum in Brussels, leaving four people dead. On 30 May, Mehdi Nemmouche, who in 2013 had fought for Islamists in the Syrian Civil War  was arrested at a bus station in Marseilles and admitted to the shooting. This was the first incident of a European jihadist committing an act of terrorism after returning from Syria.

Without continuing this list, marked by the heart-rending terrorist murders that have been inflicted in France, Germany, Belgium, Turkey and elsewhere, the common cause is the existence of the Islamic caliphate, Daesh, in Syria and Iraq (Islamic terrorism in Europe (2014–present)

StWC confuses  one of the conditions for the rise of Daesh, military intervention in the Middle East, with the existence of ISIS, the immediate causal force behind these atrocities.

It does not mention explore in any detail the all-important regional and religious and inter-state  aspect to the war in the Middle East, between Iran and its Shia allies and the Saudi backed forces, a division from Syria all the way to Yemen.

It does not mention the Syrian civil war, with its own internal causes, either out of a deliberate wish to avoid its own failure to oppose resolutely the Assad regime or back the only forces consistently fighting against ISIS, the Kurdish armed militias of the YPG, their Arab allies or their  internationalist brigades.

Many will say that this absence is more than “policy blindness”. It is a sign of moral cowardice.

The Statement does not mention the StWC’s leaders (in the groupuscule Counterfire)  own past reactions to terrorism, notably during the massacre at Charlie Hebdo and the Hyper Cacher to ‘explain’ the murders in terms of a ‘blow back’ against the “West”, nor the vile suggestion by people such as George Galloway, Alex Callinicos, Tariq Ali and  Seumas Milne, that Charlie Hebdo “had it coming to them”.

Nor does it even begin a “serious and in depth discussion of the causes of terrorism.”

Let us have one.

The Present Terrorist Wave.

France is perhaps the place where such a discussion has taken place.

Gilles Kepel’s Terreur dans l’Hexagone, Genèse du djihad français,, with Antoine Jardi. 2015) just now out in paperback, traces how Jihadi Salafism gained an audience in France.

In a narrative that closely parallels  Kenan Malik‘s writings the authors portray a generational shift from a Muslim community in which secular anti-racism had an audience (in France, La Marche des Beurs 1983), to the present day inflection of Salafism and religious intolerance  in the banlieue. Social conditions in these quarters are perhaps fertile ground for the religious ideologues.

Does this explain the way they have taken shape?

Kepel’s critic, Olivier Roy, by contrast talks of the “Islamisation of radicalism” and the growth of a nihilistic ‘death cult” (Le Djihad et la mort. 2016). Roy considers that the historical sequence, from SOS-racisme, to increased pious observance,  to present day genocidal Islamism ignores a fundamental break in ideology. Salafism is not ‘one’ thing, a continuum from ultra-orthodox to violence. There is a new dimension: the willingness to kill and die.

Roy asks, “why, for the past 20 years, have terrorists regularly chosen to die? “

Roy has written (Guardian April 2017) of this “youth movement”,

My argument is that violent radicalisation is not the consequence of religious radicalisation, even if it often takes the same paths and borrows the same paradigms. Religious fundamentalism exists, of course, and it poses considerable societal problems, because it rejects values based on individual choice and personal freedom. But it does not necessarily lead to political violence.

The objection that radicals are motivated by the “suffering” experienced by Muslims who were formerly colonised, or victims of racism or any other sort of discrimination, US bombardments, drones, Orientalism, and so on, would imply that the revolt is primarily led by victims. But the relationship between radicals and victims is more imaginary than real.

Those who perpetrate attacks in Europe are not inhabitants of the Gaza Strip, Libya or Afghanistan. They are not necessarily the poorest, the most humiliated or the least integrated. The fact that 25% of jihadis are converts shows that the link between radicals and their “people” is also a largely imaginary construct.

It is less sure that his conclusion will be accepted, but it ought to be debated,

The systematic association with death is one of the keys to understanding today’s radicalisation: the nihilist dimension is central. What seduces and fascinates is the idea of pure revolt. Violence is not a means. It is an end in itself.

How does the StWC propose to deal with Jihadi Salafism, if Roy is to be believed, a death cult? That is a group prepared to kill the ‘kuffer’ the mecreants not just aimed at (as the StWC mind-readers claim), “provoking the government into repressive measures” but because they wish everybody who does not agree with them to submit or be murdered.

They start by asserting that Guantanamo Bay, the French state of Emergency and the Prevent Programme, have had no success.

This may well be the case.

StWC Proposals.

But what does the StWC offer?

Let us untangle their proposals.

  • What is needed is an end to the failed wars abroad.

Clearly this will not affect the armed forces of ISIS nor its blood-thirsty supporters. There is only way one can begin to defeat them, by physical force against their ‘Caliphate’.WHy not back, if the StWC is so reluctant to back the West, with support for the YPG, the Kurdish armed groups?

  •  an end to arms sales to Saudi Arabia, a major international incubator of terrorist ideology

If arms sales are stopped how will this alter the Saudi’s finance of Wahhabist hatred?

  • an end to racial and religious profiling which so often ends in the demonisation of Muslims.

It is hard to take this seriously.

How is not doing something – I had no idea that “profiling” was the cornerstone of anti-terrorist policing in the first place – going to stop terrorism?

The StWC statement offers a paradigm of radicalisation-attack-repression-radicalisation, the “mutually reinforcing cycle of violence”.

Or to put it more simply: the more you repress a radical group the greater its support and radicalisation.

Perhaps instead of not doing things – that is, not repressing – the StWC might consider that that, regardless of what the State or the government does, they could begin by making allies with secularist forces, like the Kurds cited above, and with liberal secular voices in the countries they express such concern about.

They could also make a far more effective reply to Theresa May’s appeal to ‘British values’ by stating support for universal human rights.

 

 

 

 

Written by Andrew Coates

June 5, 2017 at 12:46 pm

Owen Jones, “not taking part in Trump Demo because of leading role of the SWP in it, a cult which covered up rape.”

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People who follow these things may have noticed an angry exchange between Lindsey German and comrade Owen Jones over the Trump protests.

As I have no wish to offered comrade Owen, who deleted the remarks, but did not protest at people mentioning it (despite opportunity to do so) I shall not paste it.

People who follow these things may have also noticed that yesterday there were two letters in the Guardian protesting against Trump’s planned visit to the UK.

We stand together against Donald Trump’s toxic agenda

One was headed by Owen’s name, it included  Ed Miliband, senior trade union figures and human rights campaigners, prominent Momentum figures and people from respected left groups, such as Left Unity.

The other, well, let’s just say that it also included respected figures from the union movement and human rights campaigner, and… Lindsey German and organisations in which her groupuscule play a considerable part, the Stop the War Coalition and the remains of the People’s Assembly. Another organisation’s supporters,  Stand up to Racism, best known for the SWP’s involvement, featured. And Islamist organisations, such as the Muslim Association of Britain. (1)

Momentum meanwhile has advertised the London Demo without mentioning the various fronts, groups claiming to represent the Muslim community, and others, behind the demonstration.

It simply says this: ” JOIN THE MARCH TO STOP TRUMP THIS SATURDAY

If you’re in London, join the march to Stop Trump’s Muslim Ban this Saturday, 4th February, from the US Embassy to Downing Street. The Momentum and Labour Assembly Against Austerity bloc will meet at 11am at 24 Grosvenor Square, London W1A 2LQ. Check out the Facebook Event for more information.

Momentum is in the right direction.

Protesting against Trump  is very important, welcome, and needed.

But we don’t we don’t want to be caught up in the manipulative and dead-end politics of the likes of the SWP or Counterfire (both strong backers of the Brexit that Trump welcomes), the StWC (who oppose any interference in the sovereign politics of Syria) still less MAB and its cohorts.

Now this bombshell comes:

 

(1) “MAB first started working with the StWC in 2002 when they agreed to join together a demonstration they had planned to mark the anniversary of the Second Palestinian Intifada with a demonstration StWC had planned against the looming Iraq war at the opening of the Labour party. The march took place under the dual slogans ‘Don’t attack Iraq‘ and ‘Freedom for Palestine‘.[2] According to Altikriti, MAB ‘spoke to Stop the War and we said to them, we will join you; however we will not become part of your coalition, we will be a separate and independent entity but we will work together with you on a national basis as part of the anti-war movement’.[3] This reassured MAB that it would not ‘melt into that big coalition’ [4] that was known to be led by the Left. They would remain a distinct and autonomous bloc, able to shape the agenda. Altikriti and others in the MAB leadership were working to persuade members that collaboration with non-Muslim anti-war activists was halal (religiously permissible) and that it was within the remit of their organisation. Their argument was that, if gender-segregated spaces and halal food could be provided at meetings, demonstrations and other events, then Muslims could participate in the anti-war movements without being assimilated”

More on Wikipedia.

Brexit “Demands”, People’s Assembly.

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People’s Assembly Debates Consequences of Brexit.

Before the Referendum the left advocates of a vote to leave had no words too harsh for the European Union (EU). Setting their intellectual framework Perry Anderson in 2009 asserted that it had established a “semi-catallaxy”, a “far from perfect Hayekian order”, that is a willed “spontaneous” free market far from popular control, with a “dense web of directives and often dubious prebends”. It was a “deputy empire” to the United States. The 2008 Banking crisis, austerity, tightened in the Euro-zone to mean a block on any attempts, as Greece saw, to offer alternative policies, it has become the institutional embodiment of ‘neo-liberalism’. The EU was remote not just from left politics, but from the peoples of Europe Put crudely, as Tariq Ali so often does, voting to Leave would mean giving a kick up the backside to all that. (1)

Counterfire, the principal force in the shrunken People’s Assembly, listed a version of this account. The central reasons to vote Leave were: it would strengthen the position of all those fighting austerity in Europe, especially the south; It would protect the next Labour government from challenges to reform under European law; The British, European and US ruling classes all want us to “stay”; The EU is turning into Fortress Europe; Brexit would mess up the Tories for a generation. (Five Reasons to Leave the EU. 2005)

The ‘predictions’ in this list have all been proved false.

Brexit has not strengthened any European force apart from the ‘Sovereigntist’ far right in countries such as France and Germany. The Front National now sees the assertion of national sovereignty, including protectionism, as a realistic strategy. For them it proves that the ‘nation’, the ‘people’ can assert itself against the EU.

Brexit has not ‘messed up’ the Tories who have discovered unity around their own version of Sovereigntism, bringing ‘control’ back to the ‘people’ ‘Hard Brexit’.

The American ruling class, at least the in the ungainly shape of Donald Trump, has enthusiastically welcomed Brexit.

Whether or not Parliament will be free from potential European threats to a Labour government’s plans remains to be seen: an “open” Britain will be submitted directly to the rules of the international market for the immediate future.

Fortress Europe, that is the policy of controlling settlement but allowing millions to gain refugee to the Continent, continues. Brexit has now introduced the issue of further barriers, this time against migrant labour entering Britain.

Counterfire.

Counterfire, whose Lindsey German is also a leader of the Stop the War Coalition, as well as the People’s Assembly, has made the issue of Islamophobia central to their politics. In their view the central aspect of racism in Europe today is hostility to Muslims. Their role, like that of their original group, the Socialist Workers Party, has been not only to defend – to cite Anderson again – the religious “protective shell of uprooted and vulnerable communities”. They have also seen in radical Islamism the potential seeds of ‘anti-imperialist’ revolt, in which the “struggle” would remove the outward garb of faith. (2)

There is little doubt that as Perry Anderson noted in the book cited above, Christopher Caldwell’s prediction that there would be deep conflicts over the existence of large Islamic communities in Europe would come about has been borne out. (Reflections on the Revolution in Europe. 2009) That this immigration was, “less manageable and less soluble than any that had come before it.” But was this the central aspect of what Perry Anderson called a “process of disintegration”, the result of mass immigration for economic reasons that just “happened” without popular consent? And what should the left’s response be? (3)

The progressive way is to respect diversity but to promote secularism. Counterfire and the SWP have refused to support liberal secular currents within Muslim Communities. Like the Orientalists they abhor they consider the ‘timeless’ nature of Islamic culture is a source of revolt, or reaction. For this fraction of the left, the brave individuals from a Muslim background, and the hundreds of thousands who support those who challenge the ‘conservative’ (a polite way of saying reactionary) leadership of the ‘community’ and the Salafist outriders are simply aping Western liberalism.

Yet, when the same forces are involved in the much wider alliances that include democratic groups fighting the ‘anti-imperialist’ regime of Bashir Assad, the same ‘eternal’ logic pushes a substantial number of the Stop the War Coalition’s supporters, not to say the Morning Star, to lump the lot onto the side of reaction.

Double standards barely covers this.

From Fortress Europe to British Castle.

Yet is European racism focused on prejudice against ‘Muslims’? Leaving aside the growth in anti-Semitism, Brexit has hardened hostility, hatred, towards European migrant workers. This massive fact can be heard every day in workplaces, the street, and the pub – in every social venue. This, only one aspect of the Carnival of Reaction that followed the Brexit vote, now dominates and divides debate on the left.

The suggestion that there should be a “two-tier” migration policy, access for the qualified and better off, no entry for the unskilled, is gaining ground. UNITE has proposed that workers can only be recruited amongst the already unionised or covered by collective agreements.  That “posted workers” under all forms of ‘detached’ arrangements, that is people employed under the terms and conditions that exist in their home countries, should be banned.

Of these suggestions only the latter measures up to the standard of equality. But if people are to be taken on under the same conditions, why does this not apply to recruitment?  Are only the unionised allowed employment in the UK? Perhaps, some might suggest, the unrealistic nature of the UNITE proposal is intentional Assuming that its officers are all too aware of how Agencies take on staff (not to say, reduce them to zero-hour contracts at the employers’ beck and call), one might suspect that this is a call to satisfy those with less noble concerns about the presence of migrants.

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With these, and many other considerations in mind, this is the People’s Assembly’s latest event.

7pm, Thursday 19 January, St Pancras Church, Euston Road, NW1 2BA.

Amelia Womack – Deputy Leader, Green Party

Kevin Courtney – General Secretary, National Union of Teachers

Lindsey German – People’s Assembly 

Malia Bouattia – NUS President

Steve Turner – Assistant General Secretary, UNITE

Alex Gordon – Former President RMT.

This the blurb.

This has been a year full of surprises; the Political landscape is changing at an unprecedented rate. Our new (un-elected) Prime Minster and her cabinet clearly have no real plan. One thing is for sure, if the last 6 years are anything to go by, if the Tories are left to handle Brexit negotiations on their own we’ll see a deal that suits the bankers, the bosses and the corporations. What should we be demanding from the government that means Brexit is negotiated in the interests of the people? However you voted in the EU referendum, we need to put pressure on the Tories to ensure they don’t use Brexit as a way of increasing attacks on the majority, continuing austerity, whipping up racist divisions in our community and scapegoating immigrants.”

 

It is unlikely that those who voted to Remain are in a mood to hear lessons from those who cast their ballots for Leave. That was the act that created the conditions in which these problems were created.  From the deep-rooted hegemony of Tory Sovereigntism, to xenophobia, tricking into the left, there’s a lot more to challenge than  the  “un-elected” (?) Teresa May. “Demanding” may be fine, but having an effect requires a lot more than the politics of demonstrations and mass meetings. And what on earth is this “people” and its “interests”? Perhaps they have passed from the peoples of Europe, to The People..….

Theresa May signals UK on path to ‘ruinous’ hard Brexit  Another Europe is Possible.

Migrants not to blame for UK problems. Support the Alliance for Free Movement.

 

 

 

(1) Pages 541, 543. The New Old World. Perry Anderson. Verso 2009.

(2) Pages 533 537. Anderson Op cit.

(3) Page 93 Reflections on the Revolution in Europe. Can Europe be the Same with different People in it? Christopher Caldwell. Allen Lane. 2009. Page 534. Anderson op cit.

 

Nazzareno Tassone: Hero and Martyr.

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Nazzareno Tassone: Hero and Martyr. 

An Edmonton man killed fighting ISIS in Syria vowed to do his best before heading into his final battle, despite poor equipment, airstrike attacks and seeing friends die in explosions.

From here,

That’s according to social media messages shared by a friend the 24-year-old fighter regularly confided in while overseas.

Mike Webster last heard from Nazzareno Tassone on Nov. 12, 2016.

Tassone, who left Edmonton in June to join the Kurdish People’s Protection Unit (YPG), told Webster at the time he was heading to Raqqa, Syria, in two days, according to messages in a conversation posted on Facebook.

“Will do my best,” he wrote to W

Will do my best,” he wrote to Webster, a former reservist who lives in Brantford, Ont. “Hopes are low.”

Nazzareno Tassone’s last message to Mike Webster before he was killed in an ISIS attack on Dec 21.

On Tuesday, a YPG statement hailed Tassone as a hero and martyr killed in action in Raqqa on Dec 21.

Fellow YPG soldiers have announced plans on Facebook to commemorate his memory and sacrifice in Ottawa on Monday morning, at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

Their post offers additional details surrounding the death of Tassone, also referred to by his Kurdish name, Agir Ararat, who was killed along with British volunteer Ryan Lock.

 

Written by Andrew Coates

January 5, 2017 at 4:25 pm

Posted in Anti-Fascism, Human Rights, Syria

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Protests for Aleppo in Britain.

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 Protesters march through London’s busiest high street demanding aid drops, ceasefire in east Aleppo.

Thousands of protesters took to the streets of London on Saturday to voice their anger at the ‘inaction’ of the international community after reports of the humanitarian situation worsening in eastern Aleppo.

Activists from the Syria Solidarity Campaign and various other groups carried Syrian flags and banners that read “save Aleppo”, “Hand in hand with Aleppo” and “Enough with Assad” as a means of prompting international action for the people currently stranded inside the city.

More than two dozen police accompanied the rally as protesters marched through London’s Oxford street while thousands of shoppers were visiting the busy high street a week before the Christmas holidays, chanting “You are shopping, bombs are dropping”.

“The inaction and utter failure of the international community has been demonstrated by the massacres that have unfolded in east Aleppo,” said protester Zaki al-Kaf.

Al-Kaf spoke at the demonstration and told Middle East Eye that MPs had failed to fill the vacuum left by the late Jo Cox, who had campaigned tirelessly for the Syrian cause.

“Many MPs like Alison Mcgovern, who is now the chair of the parliamentary group on Syria, have done fantastic work but more needs to be done” said Zaki.

Evets took place across the country.

Huffington Post:

March For Aleppo: Thousands Join London Rally To ‘Save Aleppo’.

Thousands of people marched through the streets of London on Saturday to share their “extreme rage about the complete inaction of the international community” in face of the bloodshed taking place in Aleppo.

Activists carried Syrian flags and banners which read “save Aleppo”, “hand in hand with Aleppo” and “enough with Assad” as a means of prompting international action for the people currently stranded in the Syrian city.

The march was organised by the Syria Solidarity Campaign.

The event’s Facebook page reads: “Besieged Eastern #Aleppo is on the verge of falling to the Assad regime.

“Reports estimate about 98% of Eastern Aleppo is now under the control of the Assad regime and its allies.”

The event’s Facebook page urged supporters: “Join us to protest against the large-scale bombardments and targeting of civilians in Aleppo.

“There is a Holocaust ongoing and we urgently need the international community to take action to save lives.”

As the march headed through Picadilly Circus, demonstrators could be heard chanting “drop aid not bombs”.

Other signs along the march read “protect civilians” and “Aleppo’s the new Holocaust”.

 Rolling road blocks were in place across the capital to accommodate the protest.
The Aleppo evacuation was suspended on Friday after a report of shooting at a crossing point into the enclave by both sides of the conflict. Thousands were evacuated before the process was suspended.

An agreement was reached on Saturday to allow “humanitarian cases” to leave two besieged government-held Shiite villages in northwestern Syria, a step that would allow the resumption of civilian and rebel evacuations from eastern Aleppo which were suspended a day earlier, the Associated Press reports.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the evacuation of some 4,000 people, including wounded, from the villages of Foua and Kfarya was expected to start Saturday.

It later reported that 29 buses were heading toward the two villages to start the evacuation process, adding that insurgents in the area rejected allowing 4,000 people to leave and saying they will only allow 400 people to be evacuated.

Exeter (HC)

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Nottingham (PR)

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In France, this image of Syrian journalist Zaina Erhaim in the ruins of Aleppo, with a Je Suis Charlie placard, the Syrian rebels’ flag in the corner, has had, since it was distributed in the middle of the month, a big impact:

Written by Andrew Coates

December 19, 2016 at 1:09 pm

Left Solidarity with the Syrian People.

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Father Christmas, when you visit from the heavens, with your millions of toys, don’t forget my little stockings, filled with blood. (Nouveau parti anticapitaliste)

Not everybody follows the Morning Star:

Solidarité avec la lutte du peuple syrien.

Face à la guerre sans fin du régime Assad et de ses alliés contre le peuple syrien, face à la volonté croissante des puissants de liquider les aspirations démocratiques de la révolution syrienne, il faut réaffirmer notre soutien à la lutte du peuple syrien pour la démocratie, la justice sociale et l’égalité, contre toutes les formes de confessionnalisme et de racisme. Pour cela, il faut en premier lieu arrêter la guerre, qui ne cesse de créer des souffrances terribles, empêche le retour des réfugiéEs et déplacéEs internes, et ne profite qu’aux forces contre-­révolutionnaires issues des deux bords.

Facing the endless war of the Assad regime and its allies against the Syrian people, faced with the growing will of the world’s powers to liquidate the democratic impulses of the Syrian Revolution, we have to reaffirm our support for the Syrian people for democracy, social justice and equality, against all forms of confessionalism and racism. For that to be achieved a first step is ending the war, to bring to a halt the terrible suffering, the barrier to the return of refugees and those internally displaced, and which only fuels counter-revolutionary forces from both sides.

Socialist Worker (USA)

The counterrevolution crushes Aleppo

The Syrian regime and its Russian ally are in the last barbaric stages of an onslaught against Aleppo. Ashley Smith analyzes the consequences of the rebel stronghold’s fall.

Internationally, the left must reckon with its failure to unanimously support the Syrian Revolution, and it needs to re-learn how to combine opposition to all forms of imperialism with solidarity with revolution from below.

 The Stop the War Coalition has declined to follow calls for solidarity with the Syrian Revolution, or, express specific opposition to the taking of Aleppo.

This is their response:

Aleppo Debate: MPs In Denial Once Again  WRITTEN BY LINDSEY GERMAN ON 14 DECEMBER 2016.

“Lindsey German: ‘Every time they get the chance, MPs rush to promote further intervention and to justify past ones'”

We were right to oppose intervention then, and we are now. The people of Aleppo are suffering from a war which can have no winners. It has destroyed much of the country.

We should be calling for an end to the war, with a ceasefire and attempt at a political solution, an end to all outside intervention on whatever side, and for humanitarian aid to those who need it. We should also allow Syrian refugees into Britain, something these hypocritical MPs have no intention of doing.

It hardly needs adding that German talks of a “war” without naming who is waging it in Aleppo. 

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This is a really good round up:

LEFTIST GROUPS ON THE SYRIAN CIVIL WAR.

Also see:  Why I will no longer write for the Morning Star Rabbil Sikdar.

This is the humanitarian war crime of our time, a genocide that we watched live on television Facebook for years — and we did nothing. We have witnessed ethnic cleansing, repeated breaking of ceasefires and remorseless ruthlessness towards civilian population. The Syrian resistance against a fascist dictator desperately needed solidarity from the international community, and especially the left.

Some gave it; I’ve seen some fantastic leftist activists bravely holding everyone to account; Oz Katerji, Idrees Ahmad and James Bloodworth being some of them. The late Jo Cox was a strong supporter of the inspirational White Helmets.

But how did the Morning Star respond? They called the near fall of Aleppo a ‘liberation’. What was genocide was seen as liberation by this socialist newspaper. Rather than backing down, they doubled down instead. For the past year the Star have led a horribly pro-Assad line, painting the rebels as Jihadists, pouring suspicion over established facts regarding Assad’s war crimes. They continuously echoed propaganda emanating from Russia, unequivocally supporting the Moscow line. Even as Russia and Assad rained destruction, bombing civilians, destroying hospitals and every emergency shelter — the Star continuously chose to support them.

..

I loved writing for the Morning Star because there were some good things to it. It did give a voice to the disadvantaged and voiceless often. But not the Syrian ones. My three editors were two women and a black man, the first black sports editor in the UK and one of the main reasons I continued writing at the paper by the end (I had more or less switched to sports content). As a liberal left-wing working class British Muslim, the Star gave me a platform to describe the world as I saw it through my own eyes. To talk about the racism, inequality and other vital issues. But they have betrayed the children of Aleppo. The blood and tears of the people of Aleppo did not matter to them. I’m not going to be writing for the paper while they spout disgusting Kremlin propaganda.

Written by Andrew Coates

December 15, 2016 at 12:54 pm

Morning Star Hails Alepo ‘Liberation’.

with 18 comments

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Galloway has added his own unique claim that ISIS was in Aleppo…..

This is  the latest, a careful and sober report of what’s happening.

Asma Ajroudi. Al Jazeera.

As the Syrian government forces, backed by allies, inch closer to a decisive victory in the ravaged rebel stronghold of east Aleppo, t he impending fall of the city to regime forces would be the biggest setback for rebels since the conflict broke out in 2011.

It could also mark the start of a wider military shift that sets the course of the war in the Syrian regime’s favour.

In less than a month, Syrian troops, with unfettered Russian air support, were able to recapture 90 percent of the eastern part of Aleppo. On Monday, the Syrian army claimed that 98 percent of east Aleppo was in the hands of regime forces.

Reports also indicate a massive exodus of people to either remaining rebel-held districts or government-controlled areas in the western part of Aleppo. The Russian Defence Ministry claimed that 13,346 civilians had left rebel-held areas in the past 24 hours, and 728 rebels laid down their arms and surrendered.

The United Nations human rights office had warned on Friday that hundreds of men have “gone missing” after crossing into regime-controlled areas of Aleppo as Russian and Syrian air strikes continue to pound the city.

The Independent reports,

UN chief warns of ‘atrocities against large number of civilians’ in Aleppo.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has raised alarm over “reports of atrocities against a large number of civilians, including women and children” in Aleppo, his spokesman said.

Syria’s army, loyal to President Bashar al-Assad, are reportedly close to capturing all of east Aleppo which has been a rebel stronghold in the country’s civil war.

Residents in the besieged areas of the city have described the situation as “doomsday”, with many unable to flee the fighting.

Le Monde carries this as its lead-story:

Syrie : l’ONU alerte sur des exécutions sommaires commises dans Alep par des forces pro-Assad

Le commissariat de l’ONU aux droits de l’homme s’appuie sur plusieurs témoignages en provenance de la partie est d’Alep, qui subit une terrible offensive depuis quatre semaines.

 

It is extremely unwise to talk of ‘liberation’ in these conditions – to say the least.

The French left group Ensemble says, Solidarité avec le peuple syrien, avec son combat pour la paix, la justice et la liberté !

  • L’arrêt immédiat de tous les bombardements et la levée des sièges des villes. ( An immediate stop to bombing, and raising the siege of cities and towns).
  • Une mobilisation internationale pour apporter une aide humanitaire massive aux populations. (World-wide efforts to bring humanitarian aid to the Syrian people).
  •  Le départ de Syrie de toutes les armées et milices étrangères.(All foreign armies and militias should leave Syria.)

Written by Andrew Coates

December 13, 2016 at 1:02 pm