Archive for the ‘‘Counter-insurgency’’ Category

As we noted here a few weeks ago, 1968 was “the year of revolutions” – revolutions in the Third World, the Second World and the First World.  Throughout this year, we’re running articles commemorating especially important events during 1968 and re-advertising articles already on the blog that cover 1968 events.

During the Tet Offensive the imperialist forces came under attack across much of South Vietnam, including in the US embassy compound in Saigon; it was the beginning of the end for the US and its allies in the war

by The Spark
March 5, 2018

In the night between January 31st and February 1st, 1968, during the holiday of Tet (Vietnamese New Year), fighters of the Viet Cong, the South Vietnamese guerrilla organization of the National Liberation Front (NLF), rose up against the U.S. military occupation. They took control of more than 100 towns and cities, including the capital, Saigon.

Although, from a military point of view, the disproportionate level of forces did not allow the Viet Cong to hold these cities for more than a month, the world nevertheless viewed the Tet Offensive as an NLF victory. The NLF had proved that it had the support of the majority of the population, whom the ferocious war waged by the most powerful imperialism on the planet had failed to crush.

At the beginning of 1968, there were 500,000 U.S. soldiers stationed in South Vietnam. They possessed an ultra-modern military arsenal with an unprecedented capacity for destruction and massacre. There was no comparison between this force and what could be put forward by a small country ravaged by French and Japanese imperialism that had already been through 13 years of war.

Despite all this, in one night, some tens of thousands of Viet Cong fighters were able to rattle the most powerful army in the world, deep within its own strongholds in the cities. They went so far as to (more…)


Left, Cyril Ramaphosa; Right, Marikana Massacre

by Gearóid Ó Loingsigh

The election of Cyril Ramaphosa as president of South Africa has produced a plethora of articles hailing a new dawn for the nation.  The Irish Times published an article written by the South African psychologist and current John Hume and Thomas P. O’Neill chair in peace based at the International Conflict Research Institute, Ulster University, Professor Brandon Hamber.  The title of the article was the unimaginative A new dawn for South Africa, but a false start for Northern Ireland.(1)

But here I want to focus on South Africa.  He is after all from there and Ramaphosa was hailed in Ireland as a champion of peace and an important figure in the decommissioning process.  If his election as president of South Africa is a new dawn, then it will not be long before he is once again held up as an example to us all, which is what Hamber does, in effect.

He acknowledges problems in South Africa, but states that with Ramaphosa’s election, “A wave of new-found optimism has swept the country. In his state-of-the nation address on Friday, Ramaphosa spoke of a new dawn, turning the tide against corruption and tackling inequalities, while maintaining economic stability.”  He further states that “South Africans have a new belief in democracy and people power, and have learned first-hand the value of a free media and an independent judiciary. There is new hope in the constitution, the rule of law and the institutions developed to protect democracy.”  Were that true it would be a remarkable accomplishment in a matter of days.  The hypebole of people power is overwhelming and nauseating.

To be clear, the new president of South Africa is a mining magnate, a multimillionaire whose fortune is calculated, depending on the source as being between USD 450 and 700 million.  Yes he was once a lawyer and a leader of the National Union of Mineworkers.  But that is in the past.  How he became rich says more about the South Africa he will build than all the fine words that we expect at inaugurations or the sycophantic faith of academics who should (more…)

South Africans protest the use of administrative detention by the Israeli state, 2016

Among the arsenal of repressive measures used by the Israeli state against the Palestinian people and their struggle for freedom is “administrative detention”.  This is, in essence, internment without trial.  While the Israeli state pretends to be a democracy, measures such as these show it is anything but a democracy in relation to the Palestinians.

The below piece on administrative detention is taken from the site of Addameer, The (Palestinian) Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association:

Administrative detention is a procedure that allows the Israeli military to hold prisoners indefinitely on secret information without charging them or allowing them to stand trial. Although administrative detention is used almost exclusively to detain Palestinians from the occupied Palestinian territory (OPT), which includes the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip, Israeli citizens and foreign nationals can also be held as administrative detainees by Israel (over the years, only 9 Israeli settlers have been held in administrative detention). Israel uses three separate laws to hold individuals without trial:

  • Article 285 of Military Order 1651, which is part of the military legislation applying in the West Bank;

  • Internment of Unlawful Combatants Law (Unlawful Combatants Law), which has been used against residents of the Gaza Strip since 2005;

  • Emergency Powers (Detentions) Law, which applies to Israeli citizens.

Palestinians have been subjected to administrative detention since the beginning of the (more…)

Our 1968 coverage continues although, strictly speaking, this is October 1967. . .

Che was executed without trial in Bolivia on October 9, 1967.  The Cuban leadership declared 1968 “The Year of the Heroic Guerrilla” and supported revolutionary movements throughout Latin America in particular.  Che’s reputation, already very high among newly-radicalising young people around the world, grew significantly in 1968.

Below is the speech about Che delivered on October 18, 1967 by Fidel Castro to a rally of several hundred thousand people in Havana.

I first met Che one day in July or August 1955. And in one night — as he recalls in his account — he became one of the future Granma expeditionaries, although at that time the expedition possessed neither ship, nor arms, nor troops. That was how, together with Raúl, Che became one of the first two on the Granma list. 

Twelve years have passed since then; they have been 12 years filled with struggle and historical significance. During this time death has cut down many brave and invaluable lives. But at the same time, throughout those years of our revolution, extraordinary persons have arisen, forged from among the people of the revolution, and between them, bonds of affection and friendship have emerged that surpass all possible description. 

Tonight we are meeting to try to express, in some degree, our feelings toward one who was among the closest, among the most admired, among the most beloved, and, without a doubt, the most extraordinary of our revolutionary comrades. We are here to express our feelings for him and for the heroes who have fought with him and fallen with him, his internationalist army that has been writing a glorious and indelible page of history.

Che was one of those people who was liked immediately, for his simplicity, his character, his naturalness, his comradely attitude, his personality, his originality, even when one had not yet learned of his other characteristics and unique virtues.

In those first days he was our troop doctor, and so the bonds of friendship and warm feelings for him were ever increasing. He was filled with a profound spirit of hatred and contempt for imperialism, not only because his political education was already considerably developed, but also because, shortly before, he had had the opportunity of witnessing the criminal imperialist intervention in Guatemala through the mercenaries who aborted the revolution in that country.

A person like Che did not require elaborate arguments. It was sufficient for him to know Cuba was in a similar situation and that there were people determined to struggle against that situation, arms in hand. It was sufficient for him to know that those people were inspired by genuinely revolutionary and patriotic ideals. That was more than enough.

One day, at the end of November 1956, he set out on the expedition toward  (more…)

Free Ahed, free all the children AND all the adults!

by Phil Duncan

I have no problem with the highlighting of the situation of Ahed Tamimi, the teenager being held in an Israeli prison for slapping an IDF soldier after the IDF shot her cousin in the face – not to mention that the IDF is an occupation force which, even by the standards of bourgeois law, is breaking the law.

What I do object to, however, is when people single out one young Palestinian prisoner and/or Palestinian child prisoners and demand only their release.

Why should Ahed Tamimi be freed and Karim Younis, who is now starting his 36th year in prison, remain behind bars?  And what is the cut-off age for children?  Should the 16-year-olds be released, but forget the 17-year-olds?  What about the old folks?  Should an imprisoned Palestinian in her or his 70s  be forgotten about while we protest solely for the release of the ‘children’?

Karim Younis, now entering his 36th year in a Zionist prison. Fight to free ALL the Palestinian prisoners!

I can’t help but have the uneasy feeling that a whole layer of people in this country who ‘support’ the Palestinians are uncomfortable (more…)

This is the first in what will be an occasional series of articles we are running about specific revolutionary women; we say ‘occasional’ simply because they won’t be daily or weekly.  This article was not written to be part of this series; Yassamine wrote it for a different purpose, but we thought it was a fascinating article and so we’re re-blogging it to kick off the series.

by Yassamine Mather

One hundred thousand women demonstrate in Tehran against the imposition of the veil by the theocratic regime in 1979

Taher Ahmadzadeh, a veteran member of Iran’s Jebheh Melli (National Front – Mossadegh’s political coalition) and the Freedom Movement, who became briefly the governor of Khorassan province after the Iranian revolution of 1979, died on November 30 in Mashad, northern Iran. Most of the Persian language press inside and outside the country published lengthy obituaries. He had been imprisoned both during the Pahlavi period and after the Islamic Revolution and the obituaries dedicated paragraphs to his sons Massoud and Majid, founders of the Sazman-e Cherikha-ye Fadayee-ye Khalgh, OIPFG, who were executed by the Shah’s regime, and his youngest son, Mojtaba, a sympathizer of another communist organisation, who opposed armed struggle, killed at the age of 25 by the Islamic Republic.

However almost all of these obituaries failed to mention his daughter Mastoureh Ahmadzadeh, who is alive, who was a political prisoner of the Shah’s regime and became a leading figure of OIPFG, a member of its central committee. The editors, journalists and commentators who remind us everyday how they have become ‘feminists’, the very same people who complain daily about the lack of women ministers in Rouhani’s government (as if that would make any difference to a government led by a reformist Shia cleric) wrote about Taher Ahmadzadeh and his three sons but not a word about his daughter. It is almost as if she doesn’t exist.

This short piece, based on my memories of Mastoureh (comrade Azam) in Kurdistan and later in France, is to (more…)


The following is the text of a talk delivered by veteran journalist and film-maker John Pilger at the British Library in London last Saturday (Dec 9).  His talk was part of a festival called “The Power of the Documentary” organised by the Library.  The festival was held to mark its acquisition of the archive of his written work.

by John Pilger

I first understood the power of the documentary during the editing of my first film, The Quiet Mutiny. In the commentary, I make reference to a chicken, which my crew and I encountered while on patrol with American soldiers in Vietnam.

“It must be a Vietcong chicken – a communist chicken,” said the sergeant. He wrote in his report: “enemy sighted”.

The chicken moment seemed to underline the farce of the war – so I included it in the film. That may have been unwise. The regulator of commercial television in Britain – then the Independent Television Authority or ITA – had demanded to see my script. What was my source for the political affiliation of the chicken? I was asked. Was it really a communist chicken, or could it have been a pro-American chicken?

Of course, this nonsense had a serious purpose; when The Quiet Mutiny was broadcast by ITV in 1970, the US ambassador to Britain, Walter Annenberg, a personal friend of President Richard Nixon, complained to the ITA. He complained not about the chicken but about the whole film. “I intend to inform the White House,” the ambassador wrote. Gosh.

The Quiet Mutiny had revealed that the US army in Vietnam was tearing (more…)