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Washington in Africa, 2012: Who will Obama ‘whack’ next?

Graphic from the Economist.

By Patrick Bond

[Address to the Muslim Youth Movement 40th Anniversary Conference, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, September 30, 2012. Posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with the author's permission.]

At a time when popular revolutions are sweeping the globe, the United States should be strengthening, not weakening, basic rules of law and principles of justice enumerated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. But instead of making the world safer, America’s violation of international human rights abets our enemies and alienates our friends. – Former US president Jimmy Carter, 25 June 2012, New York Times

Sudan: Interviews with Sudanese Communist Party's new leader, Mohammed al-Khatib; student protests continue

June 18, 2012 -- Police fire tear gas at protesters. Sudan's capital has become the scene for growing protests against austerity measures of the government of President Omar al Bashir. The protests were started June 16 by students from the University of Khartoum. The protests gained momentum and attracted more participants. On June 18, Bashir tried to explain in the parliament the need for a reduction of fuel consumption and an increase in food prices. But instead of calming the public uproar, civilians joined the demonstrations, shouting slogans against lifting subsidies on fuel and the increase in food prices. Amid the demonstrators some student activists also called for toppling the regime. Police have intervened by using tear gas. The riot police fired bullets into the air to disperse protesters. Some protesters were fainting and vomiting. Radio Dabanga reported how students of the ruling National Congress Party armed with iron bars accompanied the police and security forces. They assaulted several female students inside the university.

By Jaafar al-Sirr

The Arab uprisings, democratic demands and the Saudi payroll

Hillary Clinton (centre) meets King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia (right) in Riyadh to discuss Syria. Photograph: AP.

By Rupen Savoulian

May 21, 2012 -- Antipodean Athiest, submitted to Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal by the author-- In April 2012, a number of high-level political officials attended conferences in Paris and Istanbul organised by the Friends of Syria group. US secretary of state Hillary Clinton attended these meetings, and joined the foreign ministers from the NATO powers and Arab Gulf monarchies in denouncing the killings committed by the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad.

Indonesia explodes into protests over fuel price rise plan

One of the 1063 fuel price protests held in Indonesia in March 2012. Photo by Sari Putri.

April 4, 2012 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal/Green Left Weekly -- The following interview with Dominggus Oktavanius, secretary general of the Peoples Democratic Party (PRD) of Indonesia, was conducted by Peter Boyle. It follows a month of mass unrest and demonstrations all around the country during March 2012. Indonesian Police Watch (IPW) reports there were 1063 demonstrations, 16 police stations were damaged and 750 protesters were arrested just between March 23-26 . IPW was established in 2002 by the law faculty of the University of Indonesia but is now an independent monitoring organisation. All photos by Sari Putri.

Uganda: Why 'Kony 2012' will bring more misery to Africa

US Navy special forces. The US government has has deployed roughly 100 special operations troops to Uganda.

Kony 2012, a 30-minute documentary about the murderous cult leader Joseph Kony, has gone viral and has been watched by tens of millions of people online. But will this mobilisation of millions be subverted into yet another weapon in the hands of those who want to militarise the region further? Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal offers some information that the filmmakers -- the Invisible Children -- failed to provide that puts the complex situation in that region into context. These articles show that demands for greater military intervention will only makes matters worse for the people of the region, and especially the most vulnerable -- the children.

The downside of the Kony 2012 video

By Mahmood Mamdani

Behind capitalism's destructive car mania

Stop Signs: Cars & Capitalism ― On the Road to Economic, Social & Ecological Decay
By Bianca Mugenyi & Yves Engler
RED Publishing & Fernwood Publishing
2011, 259 pages

By Phil Shannon

February 5, 2012 -- Green Left Weekly -- The car, say Canadian authors Bianca Mugyenyi and Yves Engler, who took a bus ride across the United States, is a doomed jalopy going nowhere. It fails, especially in the “home of the car”, on every green count. (Watch the authors discuss their book HERE.)

Cars are the single largest contributor to US noise pollution and 40,000 people in the US die from car accidents each year (one million across the globe).

Nigeria: The state versus the people -- 10 million join general strike, protests; Unions condemn state killings

By Baba Aye

January 13, 2012 -- Socialist Workers Bulletin -- Nigeria's federal government declared war on Nigerians on new year's day, with its 120% hike in the petrol price. With heads held high, the people gallantly rose across the country in stiff resistance, immediately. The resistance snowballed into a general strike and series of escalating mass protests of historic proportions, with more than 10 million Nigerians demonstrating in more than 50 cities and towns within the country and no less than a dozen cities across Africa, Europe and the Americas.

Interview with Adam Hanieh: Class and capitalism in the Gulf

December 5, 2011 -- New Left Project's Ed Lewis interviewed Adam Hanieh about the international political economy of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). Hanieh is a lecturer in development studies at SOAS, and is an editorial board member of Historical Materialism. He is the author, most recently, of Capitalism and Class in the Gulf Arab States. It is posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission.

* * *

Ed Lewis: You see the six states of the Gulf Cooperation Council – Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, UAE, Qatar, Bahrain and Oman – as being at the centre of the Middle East economically and politically, but not simply because of their vast reserves of oil. What, then, is your account of how the Gulf states have come to be in this position of centrality?

Colombia: The mass movement re-emerges

By Anthony Boynton, Bogotá, Colombia

November 10, 2011 -– Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- At times masked beneath decades of paramilitary repression and hidden behind headlines about Colombia’s armed guerrilla armies, Colombia’s mass movement has survived against all odds. It is now reemerging into the light of day, seemingly without notice in the international press.

On November 9, Colombia’s President Juan Manuel Santos seemed to retreat in the face of a massive nationwide student strike that has lasted since October 12. Santos offered to withdraw his “educational reform” bill from the Colombian congress and sit down to negotiate with the student movement.

Students responded with a massive demonstration today that closed all of the major thoroughfares of the city. (See photos from El Tiempo, the main newspaper of Colombia.)

Indian communists on challenges for the Arab Spring and the American Autumn; Revolt of the 99 per cent

Placard at a Occupy Washington DC protest.

For more on the Occupy movement, click HERE. 

By the Communist Party of India (Marxist Leninist) Liberation

November 7, 2011 -- ML Update -- It was Iraq in 2006. It is Libya today in 2011. In 2006, the administration of US President George Bush had celebrated the conquest of Iraq by exhibiting the mutilated body of Saddam Hussein as a prized trophy. The spectacle of celebration of Libya’s "liberation" is turning out to be remarkably similar. On October 20, 2011, the world came to know about the ruthless elimination of Libya’s deposed ruler Muammar Gaddafi. He was captured alive – and unlike in the Saddam case there was no pretence of a trial – only to be murdered brutally and his blood-streaked body was put on display in a commercial freezer at a shopping centre in Misrata. Around the same tIme his son, Mutassim, was also captured and killed in Sirte, reportedly the last stronghold of the Gaddafi regime. While Barack Obama's administration and NATO immediately hailed the "liberation" of Libya, US and French flags could be seen being waved on Libya’s streets alongside Libyan flags.

Who’s causing the environmental crisis: 7 billion or the 1%?

October 26, 2011 -- Grist via Climate and Capitalism, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- Ironically, while populationist groups focus attention on the 7 billion, protesters in the worldwide Occupy movement have identified the real source of environmental destruction: not the 7 billion, but the 1%

This article, published today on the environmental website Grist, has provoked a vigorous discussion there. Many of the comments defend variations of the “consumer sovereignty” argument,  that corporations only destroy the environment in order to provide the products and services consumers demand. We encourage readers to join that conversation.

* * *

By Ian Angus and Simon Butler

The United Nations says that the world’s population will reach 7 billion people this month.

Sudan/South Sudan: Communist Party sees dangers, but also possibilities for progress

South Sudan's independence celebrations.

Rashid El Sheikh, Sudanese Communist Party, interviewed by John Foster

October 19, 2011 -- Morning Star -- Africa's newest state, the Republic of South Sudan, came into being on July 9. Its secession from the north has transformed the political dynamics of a region rich in natural resources and which still suffers from the legacy of Britain's long colonial rule.

The original state of Sudan emerged from the bloody wars of conquest waged by Britain in the 1880s and 1890s. The region's previous rulers were Arab feudal landlords. Britain sought to rule the new colony by pitting the Islamic north against a south that was first Christianised and then used as a base for the mass commercial farming of cotton. Sudan achieved formal independence in 1956 and the new state entered a period of neocolonial economic control administered through a concordat with the economically reactionary Arab clans of the north.

At the same time, these years also saw repeated challenges by more progressive nationalist elements and Sudan's relatively large working class, largely a product of its commercial cotton production. In the 1960s Sudan had one of the largest communist parties in Africa.

Leaving oil in the soil, from Durban's coast to Ecuador's Amazon

The decrepit 40-year-old tanker, MT Phoenix, lost its anchor mooring on July 26, 2011, and was pushed to the rocky shoreline in Christmas Bay, 25 kilometres north of Durban.

By Patrick Bond, Durban

August 2, 2011 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- There's no way around it: to solve the worsening climate crisis requires we must accept both that the vast majority of fossil fuels must now be left underground, and that through democratic planning, we must collectively reboot our energy, transport, agricultural, production, consumption and disposal systems so that by 2050 we experience good living with less than a quarter of our current levels of greenhouse gas emissions.

That's what science tells our species, and here in South Africa a punctuation mark was just provided by a near-disaster in Durban -- host of the world climate summit, four months from now -- during intense storms with six-metre waves last week. A decrepit 40-year-old tanker, MT Phoenix, lost its anchor mooring on July 26 and was pushed to the rocky shoreline in Christmas Bay, 25 kilometres north of the city.

Review: `The Muslim revolt: A journey through political Islam'

By Rupen Savoulian

June 25, 2011 -- http://rupensavoulian.wordpress.com, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- Since the September 11, 2001, twin tower attacks, there has been renewed interest in the questions of Islam, political Islamism and jihadism. Books have been published by the truckload, seminars bringing together various political scientists and experts have been held, reams of paper analysing the origins and trajectory of political Islam have been published, and the airwaves resonate with talkback from pundits about the impact of Islam and Islamism in the world. How can one make sense of all this? Where does one begin?

The truth behind Chevron's greenwashing: 'The true cost of Chevron'

June 22, 2011 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Television viewers in Australia are being bombarded by an expensive series of PR advertisements extolling how much the giant "energy" corporation Chevron "agrees" with the Australian people's concerns for the environment. In a classic example of "greenwashing", Chevron's "We Agree" campaign is a concerted effort to defuse opposition to its activities around the world.

But as with most capitalist advertising, the truth and reality behind the glossy claims are very different, as the True Cost of Chevron: An Alternative Annual Report below highlights in extensive detail. Fortunately too, the satirical exposers of corporate shams the Yes Men joined forces with the environmental groups Amazon Watch and the Rainforest Action Network to issue a bogus press release and set up a phony website to expose the "We Agree" campaign.

Philippines socialists call for negotiated settlement to Spratly Islands dispute

For more background to the Spratly Islands issue, see "China, Vietnam and the islands dispute: What is behind the rise of Chinese nationalism?"

* * *

June 10, 2011 -- The Partido Lakas ng Masa (Party of the Labouring Masses, Philippines) condemns any actions that increase military tensions in the region and contribute to a regional military conflict, by countries that lay claim to the Spratly Islands. We are opposed to any sabre-rattling and stand for a negotiated, political settlement of the disputed claims to the area. Therefore we deplore China’s strong-arm tactics and bullying, which undermines efforts towards a peaceful, political settlement, of the disputed claims.

The Spratly Islands, less than four-square kilometres of land area spread over 425,000 square kilometres of sea and usually submerged, probably have strategic importance fuelling the numerous territorial disputes. The area holds significant reserves of oil and natural gas: reportedly some 17.7 billion tons of oil and natural gas reserves, larger than the 13 billion tons held by Kuwait, thus making it the fourth largest reserve bed in the world. In an energy hungry world, these reserves intensify the disputed claims over the area.

End the United States' sanctions against Venezuela

The government of Hugo Chavez has used Venezuela's oil wealth to radically improve the wellbeing of the people.

A statement by the Australia-Venezuela Solidarity Network

May 28, 2011-- AVSN -- On May 24, the United States' State Department unilaterally imposed sanctions against Venezuela's state-owned oil company, Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A. (PDVSA), accusing it of undermining the US sanctions against Iran by sending two cargo ships delivering US$50 million worth of reformate -- a blending component used to improve the quality of gasoline. The sanctions, which will last for two years, prevent PDVSA from entering into contracts with the US government, and bar it from import-export finance programs and obtaining licences for US oil processing technology.

Middle East: Can democracy activists undo US and IMF/World Bank damage?

By Patrick Bond, Palestine

May 23, 2011 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Here in Palestine, disgust expressed by civil society reformers about US President Barack Obama’s May 19 policy speech on the Middle East and North Africa confirms that political reconciliation between Washington and fast-rising Arab democrats is impossible.

Amidst many examples, consider the longstanding US tradition of blind, self-destructive support for Israel, which Obama has just amplified. Recognisng a so-called “Jewish state” as a matter of US policy, he introduced a new twist that denies foundational democratic rights for 1.4 million Palestinians living within Israel. For a Harvard-trained constitutional lawyer to sink so low on behalf of Zionist discrimination is shocking.

For although Obama mentioned the “1967 lines” as the basis for two states and thereby appeared to annoy arch-Zionist leader Benjamin Netanyahu, this minimalist United Nations position was amended with a huge caveat: “with land swaps.”