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Iraq

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

Interview: Tariq Ali on Gaza, BDS, ISIS and Iraq

On August 11, 2014, the British left organisation Counterfire sponsored a public forum on Palestine featuring Tariq Ali.

Tariq Ali interviewed by Al McKay, an editor-at-large of E-International Relations.

August 18, 2014 -- E-International Relations -- Tariq Ali is a longstanding editor of the New Left Review. He has written seven novels and a number of screenplays, in addition to many works on history and world politics. His latest books are On History: Tariq Ali and Oliver Stone in Coversation and The Obama Syndrome.

In this interview, Tariq Ali discusses the recent Israel-Palestine conflict, the BDS movment, the rise of ISIS, and Obama’s commitment to long-term US involvement in Iraq.

* * *

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.)

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.

Socialist Alliance: No more military intervention in Iraq!

Statement by Socialist Alliance (Australia)

June 19, 2014 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The US, Australia and other partners-in-crime in the war on Iraq must not be allowed to use the latest developments in that country to increase their military intervention in the region. The Socialist Alliance adds its voice to others in Australia rejecting Prime Minister Tony Abbott's all-the-way-with-the-USA commitment made to US President Barack Obama over Iraq.

The 2003 invasion of Iraq was a monstrous war crime. Millions of people have died or been displaced as a consequence of that invasion and the subsequent occupation. The leaders of governments that ordered that invasion and occupation – chief among them former US President George W. Bush, former British PM Tony Blair and former Australian PM John Howard – need to be brought to account as war criminals.

The invasion of Iraq did not bring democracy but simply replaced one brutal regime with another more pliant to Western imperial interests. The invaders cared nothing for the people of Iraq and region and acted to advance the selfish interests of the powerful corporations they serve.

Ten years since the biggest protests in history

February 22, 2013 -- Green Left TV -- The Green Left Report hosts a roundtable discussion and debate on the millions-strong protests prior to the US war on Iraq, held around the world on February 15, 2003. The roundtable includes some key activists at the time who reflect on the strengths and weaknesses of the protests in Australia and lessons for progressive struggles today.

Pip Hinman was a leader of the anti-war movement in Sydney at the time; Nick Deane convened a local peace group; and Jim McIlroy, who has been an anti-war activist since the Vietnam war, was part of the Brisbane protests. Also featured is an interview with Simon Butler, who led Books Not Bombs protests of high school and other young people opposed to the war. Hosts are Mel Barnes and Peter Boyle. Footage of the 2003 anti-war marches in Sydney by John Reynolds and Jill Hickson of Actively Radical TV. The episode ends with Carlo Sands critiquing the notion of the "lesser evil".

Produced by Green Left TV -- media for the 99%. Watch it, share it, film it, support it

Abdullah Ocalan, the PKK and the Kurdish struggle

Prison writings: The PKK and the Kurdish Question in the 21st Century
By Abdullah Ocalan, translated and edited by Klaus Heppel; preliminary notes by Cemil Bayik
Transmedia Publishing, London, 2011 [Order here.]

Reviewed by Chris Slee

September 6, 2012 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Abdullah Ocalan is (or was -- it is uncertain if he is still alive) the leader of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), a group fighting for the rights of the oppressed Kurdish minority within Turkey and in the Middle East more broadly. Ocalan has been held in a Turkish prison on the island of Imrali since being kidnapped from Kenya by Western intelligence agencies and handed to Turkey in 1999.

This book was written in prison, as part of an appeal to the European Court of Human Rights. It was later adopted as a manifesto by the PKK at its 2002 congress.

Syria: No to Western intervention, no to illusions in Assad

Tariq Ali on Russia Today, July 13, 2012: "We have a very grim, polarised situation in which the choices are limited: either a Western-imposed regime composed of sundry Syrians who work for the Western intelligence agencies ... or the Assad regime. It's clear the people of Syria want neither ..."

By Phyllis Bennis

June 28, 2012 -- Znet -- Fifteen months on, the short Syrian spring of 2011 has long since morphed into a harsh winter of discontent. Syria is close to full-scale civil war. If the conflict escalates further, it will have ramifications far outside the country itself. As former UN Secretary-General and current envoy of both the UN and the Arab League Kofi Annan put it, “'Syria is not Libya, it will not implode, it will explode beyond its borders.”

Britain: The challenge of George Galloway’s ‘Bradford Spring’

George Galloway campaigns in Bradford West.

[For more discussion around George Galloway's re-election and the left's response, click HERE.]

By Paul Kellogg

April 4, 2012 -- PolEcon.net, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission by the author -- In the end, it wasn’t even close. Britain’s most prominent anti-war politician, George Galloway, is back as a member of parliament for his Respect Party, after receiving support so overwhelming that he had, in the words of a reporter for The Guardian, “annihilated the Labour vote”.

War crimes, international law and the elephant in the room

By Rupen Savoulian

March 9, 2012 -- Antipodean Athiest, submitted to Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal by the author -- US secretary of state Hillary Clinton, speaking to the US Senate Appropriations Committee in February 2012, stated that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad meets the criteria of a war criminal. The Telegraph newspaper in Britain reported as follows:

Based on definitions of war criminal and crimes against humanity, there would be an argument to be made that he would fit into that category,” she said in Washington.

But I also think that from long experience that can complicate a resolution of a difficult, complex situation because it limits options to persuade leaders perhaps to step down from power.

This raises a number of interesting questions regarding the application of international law to heads of state and corresponding government officials. What constitutes war crimes, and how can we evaluate whether or not a state leader is a war criminal?

Nuremberg and war crimes

Hollywood: Glimpses of empire

Part 1: In the belly of empire

“There must be some way out of here’, said the
joker to the thief,
There’s too much confusion, I can’t get no relief.
Businessmen, they drink my wine, ploughmen dig
my earth,
None of them along the line know what any of it is
worth.”
-- Bob Dylan[1]

Photo essay: 11-11-11 -- Veterans for Peace Arlington West Memorial: 8 years and counting

Photos and text by James Rodríguez, Santa Monica, Los Angeles County, California

November 11, 2011 -- Mimundo.org, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with James Rodríguez's permission -- The armistice that ended World War I was signed on November 11, 1918. Since then, many allied nations have adopted the date to commemorate members of the armed forces who have served in a war. In the United States, this day is observed as Veterans Day.

This year’s holiday marks the eight anniversary of a unique commemoration carried out by the Los Angeles chapter of Veterans for Peace (VFP) on the sands of world-renowned Santa Monica Beach. Every Sunday since Veterans Day 2003, numerous VFP members and volunteers have erected a temporary and symbolic cemetery aptly named Arlington West Memorial. White crosses represent one fallen Iraq or Afghanistan war veteran, while red crosses represent 10 US servicepeople killed in action in these two wars.

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.

US rulers turned 9/11 outrage into blank cheque for endless war

By Rupen Savoulian

September 17, 2011 -- Antipodean Athiest, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with the author's permission -- Near where I live in Sydney, there is a war memorial commemorating all those people from the area who have died serving the Australian armed forces in wars overseas. There are columns for each war Australians have participated in, followed by the names of those who never returned. For instance, there are columns for World War I (1914-1918), World War II (1939-1945), the Korean War (1950-53), and also the "International Campaign against Terrorism (2001– )". Notice that last one? Unlike the others, the war on terror has no end date.

The horrific terrorist attacks of September 11 prompted justified outrage at the perpetrators and sympathy for their victims. Since then, there has been a continuous barrage of war crimes, an escalation of US wars in the Middle East, new offensives against Iraq and Afghanistan by US imperial power, and a steady erosion of democratic civil liberties in the name of a "war on terror". In fact, the first decade of the 2000s can rightly be called the savage decade.

Libya: NATO's 'conspiracy' against the revolution; Who are the Libyan rebels?

Gilbert Achcar interviewed on August 24, 2011 by Democracy Now!. Transcript below.

The following article, reposted from Jadiliyya, was written before the entry of rebels into Tripoli on August 20-21, signalling the looming collapse of the Gaddafi regime. It offers valuable analysis of the dynamics between imperialism and the rebel movement and the Libyan masses. It contends that the Western powers, in an attempt to control the uprising, rationed their military support to ensure that significant sections of the Gaddafi state would be retained in any post-Gaddafi regime.

* * *

By Gilbert Achcar

The killing of bin Laden and the ugly tribalism of US politics

Three o’clock in the morning on May 1, Washington DC erupts in celebration of the killing of Osama bin Laden.

By Rupen Savoulian

May 20, 2011 -- Early in May 2011, Osama bin Laden, a Saudi billionaire criminal and religious fanatic, was murdered by US Navy SEAL troops in Pakistan. Bin Laden was a reactionary political figure, who promoted obscurantist, fundamentalist prejudices in the service of criminal wars and terrorism. He was a long-term ally and asset of the United States, whose repugnant views and activities were cultivated throughout the 1980s during Washington’s Cold War campaign against the secular, socialist government of Afghanistan.

Tariq Ali: The Obama syndrome

Audio of Tariq Ali's full address (63 minutes):

* * *

March 29, 2011 -- ABC Radio's Big Ideas -- In 2008, Obama could do no wrong. To the educated middle class, he was an intelligent and reflective writer who had penned his own insightful memoir. To the conservative elite, he was a Harvard graduate and expert in constitutional law. To the young people who came out in droves to vote for him, he liked the same TV shows, listened to the same music and "got" social networking.

Philippines socialists: `No to imperialist intervention in the Libya! Saudi, UAE troops out of Bahrain!'

Support Middle Eastern democracy struggles! End imperialist wars in Iraq, Afghanistan!

Statement by the Partido Lakas ng Masa (Party of the Labouring Masses), Philippines

March 19, 2011 -- On March 17, 2011, the UN Security Council passed a resolution authorising military intervention by the Western imperialist powers or their puppets in Libya. The justification for this is to prevent further loss of life in fighting between forces remaining loyal Muammar Gaddafi and forces supporting the uprising that began on February 15 against his 42-year-old rule, and to support the pro-democracy forces.

However, the imperialists’ claims to be in support of democracy, and concerned about loss of life, are contradicted by events in Bahrain, a key Western ally where the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet is based. Here the US response to brutal attacks by the monarchist government against unarmed, non-violent pro-democracy protesters has been to call for restraint — by both sides.

The ‘mubaraking’ of Gaddafi, Maliki, Mugabe and others

By Patrick Bond

February 27, 2011 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The late South African anti-apartheid poet-activist Dennis Brutus occasionally used “Seattle”, the name of a city in the northwestern United States, as a verb. We should “seattle Copenhagen”, he said in late 2009, to prevent the global North from doing a climate deal in their interests, against Africa’s.

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