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Syria

Kobanê: Heroic defence resists ‘Islamic State’ assault; 'Kobanê will be a grave for IS'

The People’s Democracy Party (HDP) leader Selahattin Demirtas, who won nearly 10% in the recent presidential election. The HDP is leading a big campaign of solidarity with Rojava against the IS assault.

By Dave Holmes

September 27, 2014 -- Green Left Weekly/Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Besieged since September 15, the northern Syrian Kurdish-majority city of Kobanê (Arabic name: Ayn al-Arab) has mounted an heroic, all-out resistance to the murderous 'Islamic State' (IS, formerly referred to as "ISIS") gangs.

As of September 25, despite all the superior heavy weaponry deployed by the IS, it appears that fierce resistance and determined counterattacks have halted or slowed the assault. Nonetheless, the IS thugs have pushed closer to the city centre than ever before and the situation remains perilous.

Syrian rebels overwhelmingly condemn US bombing as an attack on revolution

Aftermath of the latest US airstrikes on Syria.

By Michael Karadjis

September 25, 2014 -- Syrian Revolution Commentary and Analysis, submitted to Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal by the author -- In extraordinary developments, the United States, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Jordan have launched a joint air war, on Syrian territory, with the full support of the Syrian tyranny of Bashar al-Assad, on the Islamic State of Iraq and Sham (ISIS, now also referred to as Islamic State, IS).

There are plenty of good reasons to oppose any US war in any circumstances; and in this case, a war that is targeting only the Sunni-sectarian ISIS, yet sparing the viciously anti-Sunni Assad regime, indeed collaborating with the regimethat is responsible for a hundred times more massacre and destruction than ISIS, with which it has long collaborated in any case, is likely to boost support for ISIS among a large section of the poverty-stricken, dispossessed Sunni majority.

Socialist Alliance: 'No Australian military involvement in Iraq'; 'End Australian partnership with NATO'

September 4, 2014 -- Socialist Alliance, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The following statements were adopted by the Socialist Alliance national executive on September 4, 2014, in response to the Australian government's decision to join the US and other imperialist states in a new military intervention in Iraq.

* * *

1. The US wars on Iraq (1991 and 2003) killed hundreds of thousands and completely wrecked the country. The US promoted sectarian divisions in order to retain control. It created the conditions for the rise of the "Islamic State" and is thus responsible for the current crisis.

2. Australia was an enthusiastic junior partner in both US wars on Iraq and thus shares responsibility for the terrible suffering inflicted on the Iraqi people as well as the current situation.

3. There is a humanitarian crisis in Iraq and Syria due to the Islamic State’s ethnic cleansing and general terror campaign. Approximately 1.5 million refugees are living in camps in Rojava (the Kurdish liberated zone in northern Syria), Turkey and the Federal Kurdistan Region of Iraq.

a. Australia should give large-scale assistance to these refugees. This should be delivered by non-military means.

b. Australia should massively increase its refugee intake from Iraq and Syria.

c. No asylum seekers already here should be forcibly returned to Iraq or Syria.

Kurds search for unity amid relentless fight to defeat 'Islamic State' thugs

Kurdish fighters after liberating Maxmur.

By Dave Holmes

September 2, 2014 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Across northern Syria and Iraq, Kurdish forces are locked in fierce battles with the murderous “Islamic State” (IS) armed force. Whether directly or indirectly, the whole Kurdish people is being drawn into this struggle.

In late August the Syrian Kurdish resistance forces announced they had defeated an IS push around the town of Jazaa in north-eastern Syria, close to the Iraq border. Hundreds of IS fighters were killed in the August 19-31 battles.

The IS attempted to cut off the YPG-YPJ (People’s Defence Units-Women’s Defence Units — the military arm of Rojava, the Kurdish liberated area in northern Syria) from their forces over the border in Shengal (Arabic name: Sinjar). The IS wants to establish a corridor linking Mosul and its possessions in Iraq with Al-Raqqa, its main stronghold in Syria.

Iraq, Syria: US-caused 'blowback' as violence escalates; Kurds resist ISIS

Kurdish fighters resist ISIS.

By Tony Iltis

August 24, 2014 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal, a shorter version of this article first appeared in Green Left Weekly -- Since August 8, for the first time since officially ending its occupation at the end of 2011, the United States has been carrying out air strikes in Iraq.

The strikes were aimed at the extremely violent multinational terrorist group that was until recently known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), but which renamed itself simply the "Islamic State" on June 29, to reflect that its ambitions are global. The group originally emerged in the aftermath of the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq.

International gangs of Salafi Sunni Muslim fundamentalists have been a feature of world politics since the end of the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan in 1989. To fight the Soviet occupation, the CIA, working with Saudi Arabia, had recruited a Salafi force from all over the world but having achieved this cut them loose. International groups of Salafi fighters began appearing wherever there was large-scale armed conflict in the Islamic world, while the mainly Saudi leadership of the network (prosaically named “the Base”, or Al Qaeda) engaged in escalating attacks against their former sponsor, the US, culminating in the 9/11 attacks.

Blowback

Israel and the coming Arab revolution

Massive destruction of Gaza by Israel has left Palestinians devastated.

By Santiago Alba Rico, translated for Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal by Art Young

August 14, 2014 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal, from Spanish at Cuartopoder.es -- Let’s imagine a Syrian who was dreaming of enjoying a little bit of democracy, a little bit of freedom, a little bit of social justice: in short, of enjoying a little human dignity. Which forces, and how many of them, would he or she have to struggle against?

First, against a dynastic dictatorship that, for more than 40 years, has repressed, impoverished and murdered its own people and that, for the last three years, has not hesitated to resort to torture, extrajudicial executions, aerial bombardment and even chemical weapons, not to mention spreading sectarian poison and the most abject propaganda.

Kurds mobilise to fight ‘Islamic State’ over vast front

Kurdish YPG fighters, Rojava.

By Dave Holmes

August 12, 2014 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal/Green Left Weekly --The Kurdish people are facing an unprecedented challenge. Across a vast swathe of northern Syria and Iraq, the region’s Kurds are locked in a desperate and heroic struggle with the genocidal forces of the so-called Islamic State (IS). Fighting is raging from Aleppo and Kobane in Syria to Mosul and Kirkuk in Iraq — and all points in between. (The “front” is enormous: for example, the direct distance from Aleppo to Kirkuk is over 650 kilometres.)

Is there an 'anti-imperialist camp'? A debate (part 2)

August 2, 2014 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- This is the next installment of the debate between Felipe Stuart and Michael Karadjis on the question of the concept of an anti-imperialist "camp" and related positions, strategies and tactics. The first part can be read at "Is there an 'anti-imperialist camp'? A debate (part 1)". Below, Stuart responds to Karadjis' previous contribution, followed by a final reply by Karadjis. Further discussion will continue in the comments section at the end of this post.

By Felipe Stuart

Michael Karadjis, thanks for your response to my last article.

I suspect that your distinction between class-based politics and anti-imperialist-based politics is rooted in a failure on your part to understand that imperialism itself is all about class and class struggle. I hope I am wrong, but let’s discuss that.

Behind Iraq's crisis: New US war is no answer

By Tony Iltis

June 21, 2014 -- Green Left Weekly -- US President Barack Obama announced the deployment of 300 special forces troops to Iraq on June 19. It followed a week of denials that the US would respond militarily to the rapid advance toward Baghdad of anti-government forces led by the Sunni fundamentalist Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

Obama’s announcement contradicted his previous statements as well as itself. On the one hand, he insisted the role of the special forces would be limited to “advising” forces of the US-installed Iraqi government, saying: “We always have to guard against mission creep. So let me repeat what I've said in the past: American combat troops are not going to be fighting in Iraq again.

“We do not have the ability to simply solve this problem by sending in tens of thousands of troops and committing the kinds of blood and treasure that has already been expended in Iraq.”

But he also said: “We will be prepared to take targeted and precise military action, if and when we determine that the situation on the ground requires it.”

Australian education minister Christopher Pyne told Channel Nine on June 20: “The United States obviously has to lead any kind of response in Iraq as they are the world power, if you like. If they ask us for assistance, we’ll weigh that up at the time and decide what we can or can’t do. The situation in Iraq is obviously very, very serious.”

Iraq and Syria: The struggle against the 'multi-sided' counterrevolution

June 27, 2014, BBC map of the gains made by ISIS.

By Michael Karadjis

June 25, 2014 -- Syrian Revolution Commentary and Analysis, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- As a coalition of Sunni-based forces, including the Islamic State of Iraq and Sham (ISIS), took the major northern Iraqi city of Mosul and then most of the Sunni heartland in the north and west of Iraq, regional and western capitals went into crisis mode: the entire post-US occupation stabilisation had collapsed in a heap.

The Gulf and Islamism in Syria: myths and misconceptions

ISIS fighters.

By Michael Karadjis

June 3, 2014 -- Syrian Revolution Commentary and Analysis, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- Over the last year, the sectarian (mainly Sunni versus Alawite) element of the Syrian conflict has markedly grown, within an uprising that began as a multi-sectarian popular democratic uprising against Syria’s tyrannical regime of Bashar al-Assad.

The hold of Sunni sectarianism is by no means universal among the insurgent Syrian masses and their myriad of civil and armed resistance organisations; on the contrary, despite persistent myths, the revolution still contains a powerful secular wing (both within the civil uprising and the Free Syrian Army), and even the largest parts of the clearly political-Islamist wings are not specifically sectarian; and many are markedly moderate Islamists. However, there is no denying that a dangerous level of Sunni sectarianism has grown, especially among the more extreme ‘jihadist’ fringe affiliated to al-Qaida, and that this is an entirely negative and reactionary development.

Australia: Socialist Alliance's 'International Political Perspectives' resolution

"Despite repeated warnings from the majority of the world's scientists of the urgent need to slash greenhouse gas emission, the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere passed over 400 parts per million for the first time in human history – signalling the globe’s dangerous race to catastrophic and irreversible global warming."

Adopted by the 10th National Conference of the Socialist Alliance, June 7-9, 2014.

1. The 10th national conference of Socialist Alliance is taking place at a time extreme inequality, intensified conflict and ecological crisis on a global scale. The 85 richest individuals in the world now hold as much wealth between them as the 3.5 billion poorest people in the world. A world divided by such extreme inequality will never be at peace and this is fundamentally why wars and uprisings continue to break out in numerous countries. This unprecedented concentration of wealth and power also is an absolute block to the urgently needed transition to an ecologically sustainable future.

Discussion: Are Russia and China imperialist powers?

"Probably the most important Russian monopoly is Gazprom, the world’s largest gas company, which by 2008 had about 400,000 employees. The company is reported to control over 93% of Russia’s natural gas production and about a quarter of the world’s known gas reserves."

By Chris Slee

April 7, 2014 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Russia and China both play an important role in world politics. This includes involvement in armed conflicts distant from their borders. Russia for example supplies arms to the Syrian government. Both Russia and China supplied arms to the Sri Lankan government during its war against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, who were fighting for an independent Tamil homeland in the north and east of the island of Sri Lanka. (The LTTE was defeated in 2009.)

In some cases, Russia and China intervene on the same side as the Western imperialist powers. This was the case in Sri Lanka, where the US, Britain, Israel and other Western powers also aided the Sri Lankan government in its brutal war against the LTTE, which was in fact a war against the Tamil people.

Understanding the Arab rebellions: Adam Hanieh's 'Lineages of revolt'

Lineages of Revolt: Issues of Contemporary Capitalism in the Middle East
By Adam Hanieh
Chicago: Haymarket Books, 2013

[For more articles by or about Adam Hanieh, click HERE.]

Review by Chris Slee

March 15, 2014 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The year 2011 saw uprisings throughout the Middle East and North Africa. They were portrayed in the Western media as rebellions against dictatorial regimes and for democracy. But that is only part of the story. Political discontent was combined with economic discontent, as reflected in the widespread slogan, “bread, freedom and social justice”.

Syria: Assad regime responsible for rise in religious sectarianism

Alawite supporters of the Assad regime.

Read more on Syria.

By Michael Karadjis

February 17, 2014 -- - Syrian Revolution Commentary and Analysis, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with the author's permission -- Much of the criticism of the Syrian resistance to the Bashar al-Assad regime is based on the fact that Sunni sectarianism has become an important element within it, in particular sectarianism against the Alawites, the sect to which Assad belongs. This criticism is justified, especially with reference to the extreme jihadist elements, but is also greatly exaggerated and generalised to unjustly cover all the resistance, which is also anti-sectarian in large part.

Kurds in Syria: ‘We don't want to draw new borders’, says Democratic Union Party

Salih Muslim, president of the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party, interviewed by Thomas Schmidinger

January 29, 2014 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Salih Muslim (pictured above) shares the presidency of the Democratic Union Party (Partiya Yekitîya Demokrat, PYD) with Asya Abdullah. The PYD is a sister party of the Kurdistan Workers Party PKK and shares the same ideological background as its leader Abdullah Öcalan. The party is the ruling force in the Kurdish areas of Syria and took over three enclaves with Kurdish majorities in 2012.

In an interview with Austria-based political scientist Thomas Schmidinger, Salih Muslim tells about the present and future project of Kurdish self-rule in Syria.

First I want to give my deepest condolences on the death of your son Sherwan, who was recently killed at the age of 17 while fighting against jihadist groups.

Thank you. If we are fighting for freedom we have to pay a price. This was my price I had to pay.

United States, Iran, Russia, Syria and the geopolitical shift: Anything for the region’s oppressed?

Russia's foreign minister Sergey Lavrov (right) and US Secretary of State John Kerry during a May 2013 joint press conference in Moscow on "finding ... common ground" on the conflict in Syria.

Click HERE for more on Syria.

By Michael Karadjis

December 19, 2013 -- Syrian Revolution Commentary and Analysis, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with the author's permission -- In recent weeks and months, a pronounced geopolitical shift in US policy related to the Middle East has been widely discussed. This shift consists mainly of the US-Russia deal with Syria’s Assad regime to get rid of its chemical arsenal, in exchange for the US dropping its brief threat of air strikes over Assad’s chemical attack on August 21; and the high-level US-Iran negotiations over its nuclear arsenal, which led to a new agreement, involving a slight reduction on imperialist sanctions on Iran in exchange for Iranian concessions on its civilian nuclear program.

Syria: War threat, the US-Russia deal and some left delusions

Click HERE for more on Syria.

By Michael Karadjis

September 25, 2013 -- Syrian Revolution Commentary and Analysis, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- For two and a half years, the Bashar Assad regime has waged a barbaric war against the Syrian populace, using long-range missiles, fighter aircraft, helicopter gunships, tanks, artillery, cluster bombs and almost certainly chemical weapons, not to forget everyday machine gunning and torture, in a bid to crush the heroic uprising of Syria’s “wretched of the earth”, the peasants and urban poor, against his gangster-capitalist regime.

France: Front de Gauche leader Jean-Luc Melenchon opposes attack on Syria

Front de Gauche leader Jean-Luc Melenchon discusses the threat of a US attack on Syria, broadcast September 1, 2013. Below is an earlier TV appearance by Melenchon in which he also discusses Syria. (Note: to improve the resolution of the subtitles in each, press play then click on the "cog" at the bottom of the video, and increase the setting for "quality" to at least 360p. Then restart the video.)

(Updated Sept. 24) Syria: West's hypocritical war drive slowed

By Barry Sheppard

September 15, 2013 -- Green Left Weekly -- The proposal by Russia, accepted by the regime of Bashar Al-Assad, for Syria’s chemical weapons to be turned over to an international authority (presumably the United Nations) for destruction, has temporarily put off Washington’s plans for war against Syria.

US President Barack Obama has postponed asking US Congress to approve of his plans to attack Syria. This represents a political defeat for the war drive.

Even if Washington scuttles the proposed agreement and goes ahead with war, it will do so with even less support at home and abroad than it had before the Russian proposal.

The main force blocking the proposed attack has been the opposition of the world's people especially in the United States.

In spite of huge pressure, in the face of mass opposition of their own citizens, few countries have backed bombing Syria. Only one country has fully said it would take part militarily ― Saudi Arabia, a well-known bastion of liberal democracy and human rights.

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