UN Report on Ghouta Gas Incident Points to Evidence Tampering, not Syrian Culpability

Standard

The following article below was originally published by foreign policy analyst Stephen Gowans on his blog what’s left.

By Stephen Gowans
September 17, 2013

The United Nations report on the alleged use of chemical weapons in the Ghouta area of Damascus on August 21 does not, as newspaper headlines have indicated, “point to Assad’s use of gas” [1]; confirm that rockets were loaded with sarin [2]; or “come closer to linking Assad to sarin attack” [3]. Nor, as US officials and some journalists have declared, does it “reinforce the case that Mr. Assad’s forces were responsible” [4]; “confirm Damascus’s responsibility” [5]; or “undercut arguments by President Bashar al-Assad of Syria that rebel forces … had been responsible.” [6]

This isn’t to say that Syrian forces didn’t use chemical weapons, only that the evidence adduced in the UN report doesn’t show, or even suggest, that they did. On the contrary, the report offers stronger evidence that attempts were made to manipulate evidence to attribute blame to the Syrian government.

The report concludes that “chemical weapons have been used in the ongoing conflict between parties in the Syrian Arab Republic, also against civilians, including children, on a relatively large scale.” [7]

The UN inspectors adduced five findings in support of their conclusion.

• “Impacted and exploded surface-to-surface rockets, capable to carry a chemical payload, were found to contain sarin.
• “Close to the rocket impact sites, in the area where patients were affected, the environment was found to be contaminated by sarin.
• “Over fifty interviews given by survivors and health care workers provided ample corroboration of the medical and scientific results.
• “A number of patients/survivors were clearly diagnosed as intoxicated by an organophosophorous compound.
• “Blood and urine samples from the same patients were found positive for sarin and sarin signatures.” [8]

The findings, then:

• Present evidence that the symptoms experienced by people in Ghouta on August 21 were due to sarin exposure.
• Suggest—but do not confirm—a possible route through which the contamination occurred (delivery of the agent by surface-to-surface rockets.)
• Says nothing about who was responsible.

US officials and their allies have cited the discovery by the UN inspectors of rocket fragments containing sarin to attribute blame to Syrian forces. But to make the leap from ‘sarin-contaminated rocket fragments were found’ to ‘Syrian forces carried out a sarin attack’ requires evidence to support two intermediary conclusions:

• The contaminated rocket fragments weren’t planted or manipulated.
• Only Syrian forces could have carried out a chemical weapons attack using rockets.

The report can’t confirm the first conclusion, and indeed, challenges it.

Pages 18 and 22 of the report contain key paragraphs headed by the title “Limitations”.

On page 18:

The time necessary to conduct a detailed survey … as well as take samples was very limited. The sites [had] been well travelled by other individuals both before and during the investigation. Fragments and other possible evidence [had] clearly been handled/moved prior to the arrival of the investigation team. [9]

On page 22:

As with other sites, the locations [had] been well travelled by other individuals prior to the arrival of the Mission. Time spent on the site was … limited. During the time spent at these locations, individuals arrived carrying other suspected munitions indicating that such potential evidence [was] moved and possibly manipulated. [10]

In other words, the inspectors had little time to carefully gather evidence and inspect it in situ; there was plenty of opportunity for the evidence to be manipulated; and the evidence had clearly been handled and moved.

Far from indicting Syrian forces as the culprits, these findings point more strongly to evidence being manipulated, possibly to falsely implicate the Syrian government.

As to the argument that only Syrian forces could have launched a rocket attack, it’s plain that rebel forces could have used rockets supplied by their foreign backers or captured from Syrian forces.

Indeed, as the Associated Press’s Kimberly Dozier and Matt Apuzzo reported on August 29,

U.S. intelligence officials are not so certain that the suspected chemical attack was carried out on Assad’s orders. Some have even talked about the possibility that rebels could have carried out the attack in a callous and calculated attempt to draw the West into the war. [11, 12]

In summary, here’s what the UN report says: On August 21, people in Ghouta were exposed to sarin. We don’t know how they were exposed and who was responsible. But we do know that evidence in connection with rocket fragments was possibly manipulated.

Concluding that the UN report adds to the evidence linking Syrian forces to the August 21 incident, as US officials and some US mass media have indicated, is misleading. First, there was no hard evidence of Syrian culpability to which the UN report could be added. An earlier assessment by the US intelligence community was “thick with caveats.” [13] Second, the UN report, like the US intelligence community assessment, offers no evidence linking the Ghouta incident to Syrian forces.

US officials are reading far more into the evidence than the evidence allows, and US mass media are docilely following the officials’ lead. Anti-Syrian forces have adopted a ridiculously lax evidentiary standard to allow themselves to find the target of their hostility guilty of gassing non-combatants on, at best, flimsy evidence. One can only conclude that they’re motivated to discredit the Syrian government to facilitate the project of bringing about regime change in Damascus—a project these parties are overtly committed to.

Consider motives.

• The United States and its allies have a motive to blame the Syrian government for using chemical weapons in order to establish a pretext to step up their intervention in Syria’s internal war. In light of this, it would be expected that they would be inclined to favor very liberal, over-reaching, interpretations of evidence to create a casus belli.

• Once Washington declared that the use of chemical weapons by Syrian forces would trigger an overt intervention by US forces, the rebels had a motive to stage a chemical attack in order to blame it on Syrian forces.

• Syrian forces had a motive to refrain from using chemical weapons to avoid crossing the United States’ red line.

In light of these motives, the most probable scenario is that a sarin attack was carried out by rebel forces to draw the United States more fully into the war and that Washington and its allies have set their evidentiary bar deliberately low to read Syrian culpability into the flimsiest of evidence. The objective is to achieve what US foreign policy has long set as its principal goal: to topple governments that stand in the way of the expansion of economic space for private ownership, market regulation and profit accumulation.

What makes Syria’s government an object of hostility for the big business-dominated US state is its denial of complete freedom for foreign capital to exploit Syrian markets, land, resources and labour. [14] Added to this is Damascus’s refusal to fully cooperate in supporting US geopolitical goals (which are themselves linked ultimately to US profit-making interests.) “Syria,” says the country’s president “is an independent state working for the interests of its people, rather than making the Syrian people work for the interests of the West.” [15]

Syria’s insistence on maintaining its independence, the US government’s long-standing hostility to foreign governments that demand to be allowed to chart their own course, the rebels’ interest in staging a gas attack to blame on Damascus, Washington’s reading far more into the evidence than the evidence allows, and the absence of any hard evidence linking Syrian forces to the Ghouta incident, suggest that the Syrian government is being set up.

The UN report does nothing to challenge this view. If anything, its noting that evidence was moved and possibly manipulated, supports it.

1. Rick Gladstone and C.J. Chivers, “Forensic Details in UN Report Point to Assad’s Use of Gas”, The New York Times, September 16, 2013.
2. Rick Gladstone and Nick Cumming-Bruce, “U.N. Report Confirms Rockets Loaded with Sarin in Aug. 21 Attack,” The New York Times, September 16, 2013.
3. Joby Warrick, “U.N. inspectors’ findings come closer to linking Assad to sarin attack”, The Washington Post”, September 16, 2013.
4. Siobhan Gorman, Joe Lauria and Jay Solomon, “Report on Gas Attack Emboldens U.S.”, The Wall Street Journal, September 16, 2013.
5. Gorman, Lauria and Solomon.
6. Gladstone and Chivers.
7. UN Report on the Alleged Use of Chemical Weapons in the Ghouta Area of Damascus on 21 August 2013,http://www.un.org/disarmament/content/slideshow/Secretary_General_Report_of_CW_Investigation.pdf
8. UN Report.
9. UN Report.
10. UN Report.
11.Kimberly Dozier and Matt Apuzzo, “Intelligence on weapons no ‘slam dunk’”, The Associated Press, August 29, 2013.
12. Significantly, that “suspicion was not included in the official intelligence report.”
13. Dozier and Apuzzo.
14. Stephen Gowans, “Syria’s Uprising in Context”, what’s left, February 10, 2012,http://gowans.wordpress.com/2012/02/10/syrias-uprising-in-context/
15. Bashar al-Assad May 19, 2013 interview with Clarin newspaper and Telam news agency

Counter-Questions on Syria

Standard

By Stephen Gowans
September 1, 2013

The US state is above international law, according to US president Barack Obama. In an address announcing that he was referring to the US Congress the decision to take military action against Syria, Obama declared that the United States needs to violate international law in order to enforce “the international system” and “international rules.” The international “system” and “rules” Obama referred to, which he apparently intended his audience to construe as “international law,” is not, in fact, international law, but rules Obama himself has unilaterally drawn up, and through rhetorical sleight of hand, attempted to pass off as international law. Yet, the very act Obama proposes—waging war on Syria without UN Security Council authorization, and to punish an act that, if there were hard evidence that it actually happened, would not be unlawful—is a flagrant violation of the authentic international system Obama deceptively claims he wishes to uphold. Obama has arrogated onto himself the powers and responsibilities of world ruler. He sets the rules, decides when they’re broken, and metes out the punishment.

The US president justified his self-elevation to the post of world emperor on moral grounds, arguing that the United States must punish heinous acts (though only those, real or imagined, of countries that are not US satellites; the heinous acts of satellite countries are allowed to continue with impunity, and often, US assistance.) In his statement, he asked:

• What message will we send if a dictator can gas hundreds of children to death in plain sight and pay no price?
• What’s the purpose of the international system that we’ve built if a prohibition on the use of chemical weapons that has been agreed to by the governments of 98 percent of the world’s people…is not enforced?
• If we won’t enforce accountability in the face of this heinous act, what does it say about our resolve to stand up to others who flout fundamental international rules? To governments who would choose to build nuclear arms? To terrorists who would spread biological weapons? To armies who carry out genocide?

Laying aside the realities that: there is no hard evidence that the Syrian president was behind the heinous act and that it seems more likely that the opposition, Washington’s ally, was; that appointing to himself the moral duty to punish the perpetrator is rather rich coming from the leader of a country that has authored multiple heinous acts around the globe—and on an infinitely grander scale; that the agreement of other governments not to use chemical weapons has no relevance to what goes on within Syria, which has not signed onto international conventions against the weapons’ use (and neither have US allies Egypt and Israel); we might put these counter-questions to ourselves:

• What message will we, the world’s 99 percent, send if a president can autocratically appoint to himself the right bomb other countries without justification and without legitimate authority, and pay no price?
• What’s the purpose of the international system if a prohibition on the unlawful use of force that has been agreed to by the governments of 100 percent of the world’s people (the UN Charter) is ignored with impunity?
• If we, the 99 percent, won’t enforce accountability in the face of this act of aggression against Syria, which is to be carried out in brazen defiance of the international system, what does it say about our resolve to stand up to others who flout fundamental international rules? To a country that threatens non-nuclear countries with nuclear arms (as the United States does, reserving the right of first-strike against any country)? To a government which terrorizes civilians through bombing raids, “shock and awe” and drone attacks? To states that carry out genocide through sanctions of mass destruction (as the United States did in Iraq)?

Not only is Washington willing to brush aside international law when the UN Charter gets in the way of its foreign policy interests, it is also willing to toss evidence, reason and logic aside when they threaten its pretexts for war. Apropos of this, see counter-hegemonist Amal Saad-Ghorayeb’s 10 simple guidelines for ensuring methodological rigor, as inspired by US officials, here.

Source

Russian LGBT Network – Winter Olympics: We Should Speak Up, Not Walk Out

Standard

A few days ago I’d written an open letter to both the country of Russia and the revolutionary left throughout the world, addressing both the homophobia taking place in the country of Russia and the revolutionary left’s counter-productive attacks on individuals who speak out against the Russian govt’s oppression of the LGBTQ peoples. In my letter I concluded that it was maybe a good idea to ban the 2014 Olympics in Russia as a means of the world saying ‘No!’ to homophobia. Well I present below a better alternative proposal in addressing the issue, as was written by the Russian LGBT Network themselves:

Dear friends and colleagues,

In light of the recently enacted Russian law on ‘propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations among minors’ that renders illegal statements and actions that acknowledge LGBT equality and in response to the growing violence against LGBT people and allies in Russia, the upcoming Winter Olympics and Paralympics in Sochi have already become a subject of an international debate both over the impact of this context on the athletes, spectators, staff, and volunteers of the Games and over compliance of the Sochi Games with the Olympic values of diversity and non-discrimination.

The Russian LGBT Network applauds the actions of individuals and organizations who address the escalating official and societal homophobia in Russia, and we are with them in the commitment to the protection of the rights and freedoms of LGBT people and allies. Numerous initiatives in regards the 2014 Winter Olympics are successfully garnering support worldwide, with the centerpiece of the debate being the pro- / counter-boycott considerations. We would like to join the momentum and share our vision.

While we value diversity in approaches and welcome all efforts that forward justice and equality, we will contribute the work of the LGBT Network to the promotion of proactive participation in the Games instead of a boycott.

We believe that calls for the spectators to boycott Sochi, for the Olympians to retreat from competition, and for governments, companies, and national Olympic committees to withdraw from the event risk to transform the powerful potential of the Games in a less powerful gesture that would prevent the rest of the world from joining LGBT people, their families and allies in Russia in solidarity and taking a firm stance against the disgraceful human rights record in this country.

In retrospect, the record of the Olympic boycotts is not utterly promising in regards the potential to bring a change; look at the 1980 boycott of the Moscow Olympics, the 1984 ‘retaliation’ boycott of the LA Games, or at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City. What is remembered from 1968 is neither the number nor the names of those who boycotted the Games, but the ‘human rights salute’ by Tommie Smith and John Carlos who rose black-gloved fists and bowed their heads on the victory stand as a sign of resistance to racial injustice and solidarity with everyone who fought for equality and human rights.

The Olympic Games are a unique and powerful occasion for individuals, organizations, diplomatic missions, and governments to come together and voice, in tune with the Olympic ideals, the ideas of human rights, freedoms, equality and justice – regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity.

Participation and attendance of the Games in Sochi will not indicate endorsement of injustice and discrimination; they will only if they are silent. We hope to join forces and succeed in raising everyone’s voices for LGBT equality in Russia and elsewhere. We hope that together with those who share this vision, we will succeed in sending the strongest message possible by involving athletes, diplomats, sponsors, and spectators to show up and speak up, proclaiming equality in most compelling ways.

We call for organizations and individuals who are attending the Games to exercise freedom of expression and freedom of assembly and to not fall accomplices to the homophobic policies by censoring own beliefs, statements, and identities.

We will work for greater visibility of LGBT pride before, during, and after the Games in all domains possible, and we hope for the support of national organizations in making sure that the athletes publicly take a stance against violence toward LGBT people and stand strong for LGBT equality; that the national houses fill the gap of the banned Pride House and support LGBT athletes, staff, spectators and their allies on their grounds; that sponsors follow through with their policies and visualize their commitment to justice and observance of human rights in regards LGBT people at the Games; and that the broadcasters display all this in a positive and supportive way.

The Olympics in Sochi should embody the ideals and values of the Games and should demonstrate to everyone who is watching that the greatest athletes stand strong with their LGBT competitors and partners, out or closeted, and that together they stand strong with LGBT people and allies everywhere.

Do not boycott the Olympics – boycott homophobia! Stand in solidarity with people in Russia and bring LGBT pride and values of human rights and freedoms to the Games in Sochi!

An open letter to both Russia and the Revolutionary Left

Standard

By B.J. Murphy

The media is now catching onto actor and secular humanist Stephen Fry’s letter to Prime Minister David Cameron, urging him to ban the upcoming 2014 Olympics that’ll take place in Russia. His reasoning, despite what some media sources simplistically title, is because of the growing culture of Russian anti-LGBTQ bigotry and crimes, comparing it to how Nazi Germany developed its culture of anti-Jew bigotry and crimes. I write this letter to both Russia and the revolutionary left because I feel that both are in the wrong for their own reasons.

Russia is obviously in the wrong for its heinous crimes against the Russian LGBTQ peoples, in which its government is turning a blind eye to. I find this extremely unfortunate because I’ve come to greatly respect Russia over the last year. I respect and thank Russia for defending a nation (Syria) when it was at its peak of receiving imperialist aggression by that of the U.S., Israel, Turkey, etc.; I respect and thank Russia for providing a home for NSA spying whistleblower Edward Snowden when the entire West was out for his head. Both actions are quite admirable and worthy of attention and solidarity by that of the left. Having said that, though, I cannot respect, nor thank, Russia for their continuing line of anti-LGBTQ discrimination and crimes.

Even the Communist parties of Russia, despite their radical left persona and actions for revolutionary socio-economic change in the country, adhere to the homophobic fervor that sweeps the nation. I cannot imagine what the LGBTQ peoples of Russia are going through when they have no allies in govt, in the left – nowhere, except a pocketed few of a minority who adheres to reason and social equality in all forms of society.

As for the revolutionary left throughout, even here in the U.S., I’ve noticed a certain appeal to knock down Stephen Fry’s letter, under a dubious reasoning that somehow his letter will be used as a means of justifying Western imperialism against the nation of Russia. I find this to be absurd. It is one thing to call for an armed invasion of a country, or economic sanctions which will only harm the targeted country’s people rather than its own govt, but it’s another in calling for a ban in the Olympics in order for a much more peaceful, progressive world to say to Russia that they will not sit idly by as they continue committing crimes against their own.

Fry’s letter is a wakeup call against all forms of anti-LGBTQ bigotry. His letter is not a call for opposition against the country itself or its economic model, but rather against how the country handles questions like whether or not LGBTQ people deserve rights like every other. If the Olympics were to be held in Saudi Arabia, a country very well known for its anti-LGBTQ and anti-Woman social policies and culture, I’m fairly certain that Fry would be sending an exact same letter to Prime Minister David Cameron, despite Saudi Arabia being an ally to both Britain and the U.S.

Opposition to Stephen Fry is absolutely uncalled for, especially by that among the so-called revolutionary left. Rather opposition should be targeted towards the Russian govt’s inexcusable crimes against the Russian LGBTQ people. I find the revolutionary left’s response to these two events unfathomable – both their actions and inaction.

As a progressive, a revolutionary leftist, an anti-imperialist….I wish to say to the revolutionary left that they put an end to their dogmatic mindsets of a black ‘n white world and recognize that one can be anti-imperialist while maintaining a revolutionary approach to crimes of the oppressed in each country – whether they be an imperialist or anti-imperialist nation.

I also appeal to the Russian govt that they put an end to their anti-LGBTQ bigotry and crimes and to start leading the way for their liberation and freedom. I wish for there to be a 2014 Olympics event in your country, because I can think of no better place than where they stood their ground when the West tried formulating another disastrous, unnecessary war against the sovereign nation of Syria. I can think of no better place than where Edward Snowden’s been able to rest and be treated as a hero for his actions in exposing the NSA’s scandalous spying program of an entire nation. But then I cannot accept this place as being an appropriate venue of international unity in sports when the country hosting it cannot even comprehend why discriminating, torturing, and murdering LGBTQ peoples is a direct contradiction to the very message in which the Olympics upholds.

As Fry stated in his letter, “Every time in Russia…a gay teenager is forced into suicide, a lesbian “correctively” raped, gay men and women beaten to death by neo-Nazi thugs while the Russian police stand idly by, the world is diminished and I for one, weep anew at seeing history repeat itself.”

I weep as well, for both Russia’s actions and the revolutionary left’s inaction. This cannot continue any longer.

Zimbabwe reelects Robert Mugabe as president

Standard

The following article below was originally published by Fight Back! News, the news wing of the Freedom Road Socialist Organization:

ZANU-PF sweeps parliamentary election on platform of land and freedom

By Dave Schneider
August 3, 2013

ZANU-PF supporters rallying ahead of the Zimbabwean election.

ZANU-PF supporters rallying ahead of the Zimbabwean election.

Although official vote totals in the July 31 election are still coming in, the people of Zimbabwe voted overwhelmingly to reelect President Robert Mugabe to another five-year term. Mugabe’s party, the Zimbabwe African National Union – Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF), also won the parliamentary election in a landslide, making gains and solidifying their majority. Despite claims by Mugabe’s opponent, Morgan Tsvangirai of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), that the elections were rigged, monitors from the African Union called the elections “peaceful, orderly, free and fair.”

Mugabe’s victory is a mandate for the ZANU-PF manifesto, which calls for over $1.8 trillion in idle mining assets and $7.3 billion in foreign-owned assets to be turned over to Zimbabweans. Voters similarly favor the ZANU-PF plan for “education for all,” “housing for all,” and gender equality “through laws, empowerment programs and promotion of women in sectors and positions previously held by men only,” according to the ZANU-PF 2013 election manifesto.

This is the third and latest defeat of MDC candidate Tsvangirai, who ran against Mugabe for President in 2002 and 2008. Although Tsvangirai led the 2008 presidential election, he failed to garner a majority vote and lost decisively in the runoff to Mugabe. Wikileaks cables from 2010 revealed collaboration between Tsvangirai with his MDC party and the U.S. Tsvangirai called on the Western countries to toughen the economic sanctions on his own country and people after he lost the election. Since that time, more and more Zimbabweans disapprove of the MDC in opinion polls.

In February 2013, Zimbabweans approved a new constitution, ending a power-sharing deal between ZANU-PF and the MDC. A decisive election victory for ZANU-PF provides a mandate and curbs outsider meddling in the internal affairs of Zimbabwe.

Indigenization Program central to election

Zimbabwe’s election comes at a time of profound revolutionary changes in the nation. In May 2012, ZANU-PF announced the implementation of the Indigenization and Economic Empowerment Program, to transfer ownership of the major national industries to Zimbabweans and workers. According to the ZANU-PF’s election manifesto, called “Taking Back the Economy,” the indigenization “seeks to enforce the transfer to local entities of at least 51% controlling equity in all existing foreign owned businesses.” The aim is to “create dignified employment especially for the youth, distribute wealth amongst citizens more equitably, cause a general improvement in the quality of life of every Zimbabwean and bring about sustainable national development which is homegrown.”

ZANU-PF’s campaign focused on strengthening the nation’s land reform – which redistributed more than 7 million hectares of land, mostly to African peasants and farmworkers – and deepening the indigenization policies. In a preface to the manifesto, Robert Mugabe and his wife, Grace, write, “The essence of ZANU-PF’s ideology is to economically empower the indigenous people of Zimbabwe by enabling them to fully own their country’s God-given natural resources and the means of production to unlock or create value from those resources.”

Indigenization policies already distributed more than 120 mining companies to black Zimbabweans, organized into employee ownership trusts. These trusts allow working people in Zimbabwe to share in their nation’s resources, rather than Western companies taking profits out of Zimbabwe. ZANU-PF also aims to transition the current stock exchange into an indigenized market owned by Zimbabweans called the Harare Stock Exchange. They claim that shares will be distributed to at least 500,000 people in the first year, with the greatest beneficiaries being women, youth, and disabled people.

Zimbabwe’s struggle against colonialism and imperialism

ZANU-PF’s victory demonstrates the continued importance of Zimbabwe’s revolutionary history. British Imperialists, led by infamous mass murderer Cecil Rhodes and his British South Africa Company, invaded and colonized Zimbabwe around 1880. Rhodes named the country after himself as white colonists seized the best land. With most of the land and the government in white hands, the whites ruled the country despite never being more than 4.3% of the population. In 1966, Zimbabweans waged a 13-year liberation war against white minority rule that ended the racist Ian Smith regime in 1980.

Mugabe’s continued popularity and re-election as President comes from his leadership during the liberation war, called the ‘Second Chimurenga’ by Zimbabweans. Influenced by the Chinese communist revolutionary Mao Zedong, Mugabe founded ZANU along with other black revolutionaries in Zimbabwe. Ian Smith imprisoned Mugabe for more than a decade, and then he was elected President of ZANU in 1974 shortly before his release.

After winning majority rule, most black Zimbabweans remained dispossessed and poor while white colonizers kept the best farmland. After a series of austerity measures forced upon Zimbabwe by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the people of Zimbabwe began occupying large farms and taking control of their own resources in 2000. Almost 75% of the beneficiaries of the land reform were poor peasants, former farmworkers and urban workers – many of whom were women – making it one of the most progressive land reforms in the history of Africa.

By stripping wealthy whites of their land and political power, Zimbabwe angered the U.S. and Britain, who responded with economic sanctions that sent Zimbabwe down a destructive path of hyperinflation and economic turmoil. However, with new investment from socialist countries like the People’s Republic of China, Zimbabwe’s economy began to recover, with their gross domestic product growing by 11% in 2011 alone.

Unemployment remains a persistent struggle in Zimbabwe, caused by the continued sanctions placed on Zimbabwe by the U.S. and Britain. However, ZANU-PF designed the indigenization program to create dignified jobs for Zimbabwean workers and allow them greater ownership of the nation’s resources.

At 89, Mugabe is the oldest African head of state, and constitutionally this will be his final term as president. ZANU-PF spent the past five years, after the 2008 election, holding party cadre schools to train activists to continue the revolution. With a new victory on the horizon, the days ahead shine bright for Zimbabweans.

CP of Turkey: The People of Egypt will defeat both U.S. imperialism and Egyptian capitalists

Standard

TKP: The People of Egypt will defeat both the US imperialism and Egyptian capitalists

The Communist Party of Turkey issued a statement on the fall of Mohamed Morsi. The party emphasized that because the people could not create a real alternative, pro-American General Sisi has took the power. The TKP also claimed that the new-Ottoman dream of AKP has come to an end.

The statement made by the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Turkey (TKP) entitled“The people of Egypt, who have defeated the dictators, sooner or later will defeat the USA and the capitalists as well” is below:

“In Egypt the people shook the rule of pro-American Mubarek.

However, the people of Egypt could not create a popular alternative to the dictatorship of Mubarek. The USA and the conservative capitalists of Egypt, who considered that an Islamist government would serve their regional plans better, created their alternative. Thus, Mohamed Morsi, the leader of the Muslim Brotherhood and a close friend of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, took the power.

People did not accept the reactionary dictatorship of Morsi. They took over the streets again and shook also the rule of Morsi. But again people were not able to create a real alternative of their own.

The USA realized that there is no way to fit Egypt into the model of “moderate Islam”, which was applied by the Muslim Brotherhood.Then, in order to control the peoples’ movement and protect the American intereststhe USA encouraged the Egyptian army to intervene.

In the end, pro-American Morsi has left and been replaced by pro-American general Sisi (and his civilian friends).

The people of Egypt, who have been successful in overthrowing the dictators, could not open the way of real freedom.

In Egypt the looser is the Muslim Brotherhood, which is following the same line with that of Turkey’s Erdoğan. The people’s movement in Egypt has shown that this way is a dead-end. This is an important political gain. The fall of the dictatorship of Morsi is the fall of the pro-American moderate Islam and the Neo-Ottoman dreams of Erdoğan and Davutoğlu.

But for a real victory, the people of Egypt should unite around a true revolutionary program and get rid of their pro-American seculars, pro-American Islamists and pro-American liberals.

We know that the struggle of the people will not end here. The toiling masses will certainly build a free and equal order, thus the plans of the opportunist imperialists will fail.

The people of Turkey should learn from what happened in Egypt. The dictatorship of AKP will not last long. But this is not enough. People have to organize, and create an alternative to Erdoğan through a revolutionary program. They should not allow local Mubareks and Sisis to take power.”

Source

Statement of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Turkey

Standard

The Prison Gates Are Open… is re-publishing the following statement below which was published by the Party for Socialism and Liberation:

The choice for the working class will certainly be created

June 4, 2013

The following is a statement of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Turkey (TKP), issued June 4. It has been slightly edited for readability. Follow Liberation News for frequent updates and statements from activists and organizations on the ground in Turkey as the struggle there unfolds.

1. For days now Turkey has been witnessing a genuine popular movement. The actions and protests, which started in Istanbul and have spread all over Turkey, have a massive, legitimate and historic character. The most important of all is the striking change in the mood of people. The fear and apathy has been overcome and people have gained self-confidence.

2. The Communist Party of Turkey has been part of the popular movement beginning from the first day and has mobilized all its forces, tried to strengthen the proletarian and revolutionary character of the movement, endeavored to encourage a mature attitude of discipline, and organized numerous actions and demonstrations. In this process, the police forces carried out a heavy assault on our party headquarters in Ankara. All over Turkey, several party members have been injured and arrested. There have been some attempts of abduction of our party cadres. But the attempts of provocations against our party were defeated.

3. Our emphasis on the role of the TKP does not aim to underestimate the spontaneous nature of the movement or contribution of the other political actors. On the contrary, the TKP stresses that this movement has an aspect that is beyond the impact of any political actor or any kind of political opportunism.

4. The call of the masses for the government to resign is an absolute demand of this movement. Although it is obvious that a leftist alternative cannot be built “right now,” this demand should be expressed loudly. This option for the working people can be generated only through benefitting from the energy that came out at this historical moment. The TKP will focus on this and expose the real meaning of alternatives like “the formation of a national government,” which will most likely be put forward to deceive the working masses into thinking that the crisis can be overcome that way.

5. Without a doubt, the holders of political power will try to calm the people down, institute control and even attempt to use the situation to their advantage. They can have temporary achievements. Even in that case, the popular movement would not be wasted. The TKP is ready for a period of stubborn but intense struggle.

6. In order to act in concert, different branches of the socialist movement sharing similar goals and concerns need to evaluate the rise of this popular movement immediately. The TKP, without interrupting its daily missions and activities, is going to act responsibly regarding this issue and endeavor for the creation of a common ground in line with the urgent demands below.

7. In order to nullify the plans of the government to classify and divide the popular movement as legitimate and illegitimate, all forces need to avoid steps that might cause damage to the legitimacy of the movement. It is the political power that attacks. The people should defend themselves as well as their rightful action but never fall into the provocation trap of the government.

8. While the masses are chanting the slogan “government, resign,” the negotiations limited to the future of the Taksim-Gezi Park are meaningless. The government pretends not to understand the fact that the old balance has been upset fundamentally and cannot be restored. Everybody knows that the popular movement is not the product of sympathy towards the trees in the Gezi Park. The anger of the people is over the urban transformation projects, the terror of the market, open direct interventions in different lifestyles, the Americanism and subordination to the U.S., the reactionary policies, the enmity towards the Syrian people. The AKP cannot deceive the people with a discourse of “we will plant more trees than the ones that we will chop down.”

9. While rolling up our sleeves in order to create an alternative of the working people, the movement needs to lean on certain concrete demands. These demands are valid in the case of the resignation of the government or of Erdogan:

a) The government must announce that the projects that involve the demolishing of Gezi Park and the Ataturk Cultural Center are terminated.

b) Those who were taken into custody during the resistance must be released, and all charges against them must be dropped immediately.

c) All officials whose crimes against the people are proven by reports of the commissions that are formed by the Union of Bar Associations and local bar associations must be relieved of their duties.

d) The attempts that hinder the right of the people to get true news on the developments must be stopped.

e) All prohibitions regarding meetings, demonstrations and marches must be repealed.

f) All de facto or de jure obstacles that lock out the political participation of the people, including the 10 percent election threshold and the anti-democratic articles of the “law on political parties,” must be abolished.

g) All initiatives that attempt to impose a monolithic life style on all people must be stopped.

10. These urgent demands will in no case affect our right and duty to continue the opposition against the political power. The people’s reaction to the government must be reinforced, and efforts must be concentrated to bring about a real alternative in the political scene.

11. The star and the crescent Turkish flag that was intended to be used to provide a shield for reactionary and chauvinist attacks against laborers, leftists, and Kurdish people after the fascist military coup of September 12, 1980, has now been grasped by the people from the hands of fascism, and given to the honorable hands of Deniz Gezmiş and his comrades, as a flag in the hands of patriotic people.

12. The people’s movement, ever since the beginning, has persistently put down the sinister strategy to play one community against another in Turkey. This attitude must carefully be maintained, leaving no room for chauvinism or vulgar nationalism.

13. Appealing to our Kurdish brothers and sisters, we had already declared, “There can be no peace agreement with AKP.” There can be no deal with a political power to which its own people have turned their backs, and the true face of which has been revealed. Kurdish politics must give up “cherishing hopes of proceeding further with AKP,” and become a strong constituent part of a united, patriotic and enlightened laborer people’s movement.

14. Our citizens who have lost their lives at the hands of the police force of the political power have sacrificed their lives in the name of a just and historic struggle. The people are never going to forget their names, and those who are responsible for their deaths will pay the price before the law.

CentralCommittee
Communist Party of Turkey
4 June 2013

Hezbollah Is Launching An Offensive That Will Profoundly Change The Syrian War

Standard

The following article below was originally published by Business Insider:

By Michael Kelley
June 3, 2013

Lebanon’s Hezbollah militants hold flags as they walk towards the cemetery where their fellow fighters were buried during a ceremony conducted one day after Hezbollah’s Martyr’s Day, in the Beirut’s suburbs, November 12, 2010. (REUTERS/Jamal Saidi)

Thousands of Lebanese Hezbollah militants are amassing around the northern Syrian city of Aleppo in preparation for an assault on the city, Loveday Morris of The Washington Post reports.

The deployment demonstrates the group’s complete commitment to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and may profoundly affect the 26-month conflict.

“The Aleppo battle has started on a very small scale; we’ve only just entered the game,” a senior Hezbollah commander told The Post. “We are going to go after strongholds where they think they are safe. They are going to fall like dominoes.”

The commander had been overseeing five units in Qusair, a town near the Syria-Lebanon on border where Hezbollah has been spearheading a regime offensive to retake the town for the last three weeks.

The increased presence of the militant group, in addition to the arrival of sophisticated military technology such as Iranian surveillance drones and Russian anti-mortar systems, has helped solidify recent gains made by forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Hezbollah’s preparations to attack Aleppo, which is nowhere near the Lebanon-Syria border, significantly raises the stakes in the war.

“A deployment so deep into Syria and in such a crucial place would be a clear indication that Hezbollah’s role in Syria was never limited to defensive aims but is geared toward helping Assad score major victories,” Emile Hokayem, a Middle East-based analyst at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, told the Post.

Aleppo is Syria’s largest city and served as the country’s commercial hub before the war.

David Barrett of The Telegraph reports that the metropolitan population, about three million before the war, has grown to about 3.5 million since the opposition seized half the city last July.

Rebels, primarily al-Qaeda-affiliated Jabhat al-Nusra, have been administering city services in areas under their control while a stalemate persists.

Syrian rebels walk through rubble and damaged buildings near the Aleppo’s Umayyad Mosque on February 11, 2013. (REUTERS/Aref Heretani)

The guerrilla fighters of Hezbollah are training and advising the growing irregular militias being deployed by Assad.

At least 50,000 militiamen — known as Jaysh al-Sha‘bia i.e. “People’s Army” — are now fighting for Assad, and Iran aims to increase the force to 100,000 by sending fighters to a secret base in Iran for guerrilla combat training.

Last week Jeffrey White, a defense fellow at The Washington Institute, wrote that “Hezbollah’s all-in commitment is perhaps the single most important development of the war thus far and will profoundly affect its course.”

Israel, which has bombed Syria three times this year amid suspicions of weapons transfers to Hezbollah, is surely watching the developments closely.

One unintended consequence of the Shia group’s assertiveness inside Syria is an unprecedented galvanization of the fractured opposition.


Another immediate implication is increased sectarian tensions in Lebanon, where Hezbollah is one of two major political parties.

“The presence of Hezbollah units around Aleppo will only deepen the divide in Lebanon and confirm, in the eyes of its rivals, Hezbollah’s complete alignment with Assad,” Hokayem told the Post, adding that it’s now plausible that Hezbollah is and will be utilized anywhere in the country.

Right on cue, on Sunday night a security source told al-Arabiya that one person was killed and 21 wounded in Lebanon’s second city of Tripoli when pro- and anti-Assad Alawite and Sunni residents clashed.

From China to Libya: A Critique to Kasama’s “Remembering the Rebels of Tiananmen”

Standard

B.J. Murphy:

Two years ago I’d written this article in response to the Kasama Project’s counter-revolutionary spin of the Tiananmen Square demonstrations. I stand by this analysis still!

Originally posted on The prison gates are open...:

“The elimination of counter-revolutionaries is a struggle of opposites as between ourselves and the enemy. Among the people, there are some who see this question in a somewhat different light. Two kinds of people hold views differing from ours. Those with a Right deviation in their thinking make no distinction between ourselves and the enemy and take the enemy for our own people. They regard as friends the very persons whom the masses regard as enemies. Those with a “Left” deviation in their thinking magnify contradictions between ourselves and the enemy to such an extent that they take certain contradictions among the people for contradictions with the enemy and regard as counter-revolutionary persons who are actually not. Both these views are wrong. Neither makes possible the correct handling of the problem of eliminating counter-revolutionaries or a correct assessment of this work.

“To form a correct evaluation of our work in…

View original 3,375 more words

Syria calls on Turkish PM to resign over crackdown

Standard

June 1, 2013

A bleeding protester is assisted after being attacked by riot police on 1 June 2013, during an anti-government protest in Taksim Square in Istanbul. (Photo: AFP – Bulent Kilic)

Syria gleefully turned the tables on Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday over his response to anti-government demonstrations, calling on him to halt the violent repression of peaceful protests or resign.

Erdogan, a former ally of Bashar al-Assad, turned against him after the Syrian uprising erupted in March 2011, which has since descended into a brutal civil war.

Syrian state television broadcast hours of live footage from Istanbul, where thousands of protesters clashed for a second day with riot police who fired teargas and water cannons.

The unrest was triggered by government plans for a building complex in Istanbul’s Taksim Square, long a venue for political protest, but widened into a show of defiance against Erdogan and his Islamist-rooted Justice and Development Party (AKP).

“The demands of the Turkish people don’t deserve all this violence,” Syrian television quoted Information Minister Omran Zoabi as saying. “If Erdogan is unable to pursue non-violent means, he should resign.”

“Erdogan’s repression of peaceful protest … shows how detached he is from reality.”

The Turkish prime minister turned against Assad after he said the Syrian leader had rejected Ankara’s advice for political reform in response to protests which erupted in Syria two years ago, inspired by uprisings across the Arab world.

It now hosts Assad’s political and military opponents, infuriating Damascus which accuses Erdogan of fueling the bloodshed in Syria.

Source