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- Week of action "With the Greeks against austerity": June 20-26
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For more coverage of the Philippines, click HERE
By Partido Lakas ng Masa international desk
Philippines must open bilateral talks with China to ease tensions, now!
US butt out, stop intervening in the dispute!
May 28, 2015 -- Partido Lakas ng Masa (PLM, Party of the Laboring Masses), posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Given the renewed sabre rattling and war cries between the US and China, over the West Philippine Sea and disputed territories, we call on the Philippine government to immediately open bilateral talks with China in order to ease tensions. While we condemn China's aggressive bullying tactics, we firmly believe that the government must take immediate steps towards a negotiated political settlement to this long-running dispute.
However, we also think that the government has to be sincere about pursuing a political settlement, in order to move towards a peaceful resolution of the conflicting claims. This means that the Philippine government disassociate itself from any actions that makes it a proxy for US interests, that is it must be committed to pursuing a truly independent policy in the region.
April 30, 1975: a North Vietnamese tank rolls through the gate of the Presidential Palace in Saigon.
By Jon Mitchell
April 30, 2015 -- Asia-Pacific Journal, Japan Focus, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- On April 30, 1975, North Vietnamese troops and their supporters entered Saigon. Their arrival ended three decades of conflict -- including 10 years of direct US- intervention -- which left as many as 3 million dead and countless others suffering from the legacy of PTSD, unexploded ordnance and Agent Orange.1
As the world remembers this 40th anniversary, all too often forgotten is the role of the Pentagon’s most important launch pad for this failed war: Okinawa.
The Vietnam War wrought massive changes on the lives of the island’s 900,000 residents. Many of Okinawa’s current problems date back to this era and, if the history of the Vietnam War there continues to be ignored, the island’s wounds -- in many ways as raw as those in South-east Asia and the US -- will continue to fester long into the future.
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US President Barack Obama fetes the late King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia.
By Rupen Savoulian
April 19, 2015 -- Antipodean Atheist, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with author's permission -- Saudi Arabia’s aerial offensive against Yemen has continued for the fourth week at the time of writing. Yemen is undergoing a humanitarian crisis, with millions of Yemenis lacking basic access to food, clean drinking water and health care. The Saudi bombardment has only worsened the plight of the Yemenis, with schools destroyed, hospitals and health-care facilities targeted, and electricity supplies cut off. Basic infrastructure is being shattered, thus precipitating a catastrophic health situation for Yemeni residents.
By Tony Iltis
April 13, 2015 -- Green Left Weekly, posted at Links International Joural of Socialist Renewal -- The United States is providing crucial support to regional ally Saudi Arabia ― a big buyer of US arms ― as it launches a new war in the Middle East by attacking neighbouring Yemen. A Saudi-led coalition of Western-aligned, mainly Sunni Islamist, Arab government's launched air, naval and ground military offensive against Yemen on March 25.
Saudi Arabian forces are being supported by military planes from the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait, Jordan, Morocco, Sudan and Egypt, which is also supplying naval forces. The military intervention is in support of Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, the Yemen president overthrown in January by a coalition led by Ansar Allah, also known as the Houthi movement. Ansar Allah is an armed movement based in the Zaydi religious minority, who are about 35% of Yemen's population.
The Saudi intervention has accelerated the civil war engulfing Yemen.
The World Health Organisation said on April 8 that at least 643 people had been killed and 2226 injured in Yemen between March 19 and April 6. The WHO said: “These are only health facility-based figures and casualty estimates are likely to continue to increase as additional cases are verified and reported.”
More than 334,000 people have been internally displaced and 254,400 have fled abroad.
President Raúl Castro Ruz thanked the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean for their solidarity.
By Raúl Castro Ruz, president of Cuba
[Council of State transcript of Castro's speech to the Summit of the Americas in Panama.]
April 14, 2015 -- Granma, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- It was high time I spoke here on behalf of Cuba. I was told at first that I could make an eight-minute speech; although I made a great effort, along with my foreign minister, to reduce it to eight minutes, and as I’m owed six summits from which we were excluded, six times eight, 48 (laughter and applause), I asked President Juan Carlos Varela [of Panama] a few moments before entering this magnificent hall, to allow me a few minutes more, especially after we have been hearing so many interesting speeches, and I am not only referring to that of President Obama, but also that of Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa, President Dilma Rousseff and others.
“This is how much I care about your sanctions, Mr Obama.” Placard at anti-imperialist rally in Caracas held in the wake of Obama's March 9 declaration.
April 2015 -- Australia-Venezuela Solidarity Network, posted at Links International Journal of Socialisr Renewal with permission
[The following letter was written by Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro and was originally published on March 17.]
By Nicolas Maduro, president of Venezuela
We are the people of Simon Bolívar, our people believe in peace and respect for all nations.
Freedom and independence
More than two centuries ago, our fathers founded a Republic on the basis that all persons are free and equal under the law.
Our nation made the greatest sacrifices to guarantee South American people their right to choose their rulers and to enforce their own laws today. The historical legacy of our father, Simón Bolívar, is always remembered. Bolívar was a man who gave his life so we would inherit a nation of justice and equality.
We believe in peace, national sovereignty and international law
April 9, 2015 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The following letter, signed by 30 academics, municipal councillors, trade union officials, journalists, solidarity organisation convenors and political party leaders from around Australia, was initiated by the Venezuela Solidarity Campaign in Melbourne. It will be handed over the US consulates in Melbourne and Sydney on April 10. If you would like to add your name please email Denis Rogatyuk at firstname.lastname@example.org.
* * *
President Barack Obama
Washington, DC 20500
Dear Mr President,
We, the undersigned individuals and organisations, reject your March 9, 2015, declaration deeming Venezuela as an “unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States”.
We also oppose the sanctions your administration has placed on a number of Venezuelan state officials and call for the immediate repeal of your Executive Order on Venezuela.
The reality is that Venezuela today is not at war with any nation, nor does it have military bases outside its borders. In fact, Venezuela is helping to mediate an end to the war in Colombia and has constantly championed peace in the region.
Kosovans displaced by Milosevic's serb-chauvinist regime.
By Chris Slee
March 27, 2015 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- In his article, "New threats of war and fascism",, John Pilger rightly denounces the history of US military intervention around the world. But he gives a distorted account of the events leading up to NATO's war against Serbia in 1999. He fails to recognise that the previous actions of the Serbian government created the conditions which made NATO's attack on Serbia possible.
The Serbian-chauvinist regime of Slobodan Milosevic had provoked a rebellion by the Albanian population of Kosova [also referred to as Kosovo]. It had also alienated most of the other nationalities of the former Yugoslavia. This left Serbia isolated when NATO attacked.
Pilger condemns the "criminal record" of the Kosova Liberation Army (KLA), but seems to absolve the Serbian government of any wrongdoing.
Assad government forces enter a section of Homs after the government destroyed it with artillery and air attacks.
By Michael Karadjis
February 24, 2015 -- Syrian Revolution Analysis and Commentary, submitted to Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal by the author -- In recent months, Israeli occupation forces in Syria’s Golan Heights have launched a number of attacks on either Syrian regime or allied Hezbollah military forces in the region, adding to a more sporadic stream of attacks since mid-2013.
Given that countless Israeli politicians, military leaders, intelligence officials and other strategists and spokespeople have continually stressed, since the onset of the Syrian conflict, that they saw the maintenance of the regime of Bashar Assad as preferable to any of the alternatives on offer – as I have documented in great detail at https://mkaradjis.wordpress.com/2014/01/03/israel-and-the-syrian-war/ – the recent spate of Israeli attacks raises the question of whether Israel has changed its position and now favours the defeat of Assad.
Most civilian casualties have been caused by the land and air bombardment of populated areas in the east by Kyiv government forces.
More on the political situation in Ukraine.
By Tony Iltis
February 14, 2015 -- Green Left Weekly, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Leaders of Ukraine, Russia, Germany and France emerged from negotiations in Minsk, Belarus on the morning of February 12, after 16 hours of talks, and announced that agreement had been reached for a ceasefire in Ukraine's civil war.
The conflict has divided Ukraine since the overthrow of the unpopular, but democratically elected, president Viktor Yanukovich in February last year.
Russia's President Vladimir Putin told journalists that “despite all the difficulties of the negotiation process, we have managed to agree on the main issues”, the February 12 Moscow Times reported.
President Maduro during the televised press conference February 14, 2015.
February 12, 2015 -- TeleSur English, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- A coup plot against Venezuela's government has been foiled, with both civilians and members of the military detained, President Nicolas Maduro revealed on February 12 in a televised address.
Those involved were being paid in US dollars, and one of the suspects had been granted a visa to enter the United States should the plot fail, Maduro said.
Venezuela’s president stated that the coup plotters already had a “transitional” government and program lined up once the plan, which included bombings on the Miraflores [presidential] Palace and the teleSUR offices in Caracas, as well as assassinations of members of the opposition, Maduro and others, was carried out.
Maduro explained that a video of masked military officials speaking out against the government had been recorded, which was set to be released after the planned assassination was carried out.
February 3 interview on Democracy Now! with Professor Stephen Cohen of New York University and Princeton University.
More on the political situation in Ukraine.
By Roger Annis
February 6, 2015 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The Kyiv and NATO-driven civil war in Ukraine is taking new and dangerous turns. The United States is threatening to significantly increase its military support to Kyiv's army and the extreme-right militias allied with it, notably in the form of advanced heavy weapons, including artillery systems and anti-tank weaponry. The NATO countries as a whole are increasing their military presence in eastern Europe, including creating rapid-deployment infantry bases.
Increased sanctions against Russia are also on the agenda, although Russia's capacity to withstand sanctions as well as the harmful consequences of sanctions on European countries are cooling the enthusiasm for more sanctions and propelling parallel, military options.
Cuban students march in Havana on December 17, 2014, after the US released the last of the Cuban Five political prisoners.
By Marce Cameron
February 2, 2015 -- Green Left Weekly -- “I want to see Cuba before everything changes,” is how many reacted to Barack Obama’s surprise December 17, 2014, announcement that he would restore diplomatic relations with Cuba — severed by the US in 1961 — and urge Congress to lift the US blockade.
Seeing Cuba for oneself can only be encouraged, but those who fear that it will soon be transformed by American tourists, US corporations and commercialism need not rush to book flights.
Hordes of American tourists and a hotel boom to accommodate them may well be inevitable, but a US corporate invasion is not. Fears or hopes that Obama’s new Cuba policy will unleash a US corporate take-over and cultural recolonisation are unfounded. These fears and hopes are based on the dubious assumption that what holds back the tide of capitalist restoration on the Cuban archipelago is, ironically, the US blockade.
[For more on the struggle of the Kurdish people, click HERE.]
By Dilar Dirik
Today, after 135 days of fearless resistance, the people of Kobanî have liberated the city from the so-called Islamic State (ISIS). Since September 2014, the YPG and YPJ (People's and Women's Defence Units) have been leading – there are no other words to describe it -- an epic and unbelievable resistance against the latest wave of attacks by ISIS.
The women and men, who lead the most glorious resistance of our time, hoisted their flags on the last hills that were occupied by ISIS and immediately began their line dances, accompanied by old Kurdish revolutionary songs and slogans. Ever since, people around the world rushed to the streets to celebrate. After the countless tragedies, massacres and traumas that this region has had to suffer recently, the pains that have preceded this moment make victory even sweeter. One eye sheds tears for the dead, while the other cries out of much deserved joy.
Cuba to stand by its communist principles, Castro says; ‘US got isolated trying to isolate Cuba’ -- Rene Gonzalez
December 20, 2014 -- RT, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Cuba's leader Raul Castro said the country would not give up its political values for which it has fought. Calling for mutual respect in the new development of relations with the United States, Castro stated Cuba would continue its socialist route.
"In the same way that we have never demanded that the United States change its political system, we will demand respect for ours", Castro told Cuba's National Assembly in a session on December 20.
Having expressed gratitude to US President Barack Obama for his initiative to open a "new chapter" in the two countries' history by making a decision to lift the blockade, Castro stressed that the US president's move would in no way make Cuba abandon the ideas it has struggled for over half a century.
"Cuba is a sovereign country, with its people having determined its path to socialism and its political system by expression of will", Raul Castro said, adding that blood has also been shed to stand for the national ideas.
By Julie Webb-Pullman
December 18, 2014 -- Scoop -- Cubans and many others around the world are jubilantly celebrating the return to Cuba on December 17 of Gerardo Hernández, Ramón Labañino and Antonio Guerrero, the final three members of the Cuban Five to be released from US prisons, in a prisoner swap for US spy Alan Gross.
Cuba's President Raul Castro said in Havana that the release of the Cuban anti-terrorist fighters was the culmination of a respectful and reciprocal dialogue, without detriment to Cuba's national independence and sovereignty.
In a simultaneous address in the United States, President Barack Obama announced the release of Alan Gross, who arrived back in the United States on December 17 morning with his wife.
At the same time, both leaders announced a normalisation of relations, including re-establishment of diplomatic relations and an easing of US economic and travel restrictions on Cuba.
However, the complete lifting of the 50-year blockade requires US Congress approval.
In his announcement, Obama said that isolation has not worked, and it is time to try a new approach.
For more on Syria, click HERE.
By Michael Karadjis
For more on Burkina Faso, click HERE.
By Amber Murray
November 3, 2014 -- Ceasefire, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- An incredible political transformation has been taking shape in the "Land of the Upright or Incorruptible People", Burkina Faso. Twenty-seven years after the assassination of revolutionary leader Thomas Sankara, Burkinabés turned out in their hundreds of thousands, for several days of protest, chanting “trop c’est trop” (enough is enough), echoing in the process a long history of trade union activism against political repression in the country, as well as protests staged through the Balai Citoyen collective.
After four days of the popular anger, President Blaise Compaoré vacated his post.
Fighters of the Free Syrian Army
For more on Syria, click HERE.
By Michael Karadjis
October 31, 2014 -- Syrian Revolution Commentary and Analysis, submitted to Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal by the author -- The November 6 London Review of Books has published Patrick Cockburn’s latest article (http://www.lrb.co.uk/v36/n21/patrick-cockburn/whose-side-is-turkey-on), ‘Whose side is Turkey On?’. Now, as I support the struggle of the Syrian Kurds, led by the Democratic Union Party (PYD) and its armed militia, the YPG, against ISIS’ genocidal siege, I have no interest in defending Turkey’s shabby role in this, even if I think both the US and Turkey, in their current difference on this issue are both being totally cynical in their different ways. So this critique will not deal with these issues.
"A YPJ fighter (right) next to a very similar picture of a female fighter in the Spanish revolution in the 1930s. The comparison is apt. The presence of such a high proportion of female front line fighters is evidence of a profound social transformation that has been happening in liberated Rojava and within the Kurdish revolutionary movement."
By Tony Iltis
November 1, 2014 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- On November 1, protests were held worldwide in solidarity with Kobanê. Protests took place in most countries on every continent. Even in Afghanistan, protests were organised in six cities by left-wing anti-occupation groups.
After withstanding more than six weeks of intense siege by the terrorist group that calls itself “Islamic State” (IS), Kobanê (also called Kobani), a small majority-Kurdish town on the Syrian side of the border with Turkey, has become one of the most well-known places on the planet.
The defenders of Kobanê mostly belong to the Syrian-Kurdish militias, the Peoples Defence Units (YPG) and Womens Defence Units (YPJ). The YPG has both male and female fighters. The YPJ is, as its name suggests, all female. Despite having held three cantons in Rojava as liberated zones since July 2012, until recently these militias were as obscure as Kobanê itself.