Archive for the ‘Iraq’ Category

The following is based on a presentation at the International Communist Forum in London last month (February 2017).  ICF is organised by the British Marxist workers’ group Workers Fight, which is aligned with the French revolutionary movement Lutte Ouvriere.  This is part of our efforts to make available to readers several different viewpoints on the conflict in Syria.

Introduction

It is almost exactly 6 years since the wave of protests of the Arab Spring spread to Syria, in February 2011. Within only a few months of these protests, the confrontation between the protesters and the Syrian dictatorship turned into a bloody civil war, which remains as rife and brutal as ever today.

These six years of bloodshed have already claimed nearly half a million casualties and forced an estimated 4.5 million Syrians to seek shelter outside the country around 20% of the population. As to the state of the country, most of us have seen TV footage of Aleppo when it was recently retaken by government forces: it is a ghost town, covered in rubble. Some buildings still appear to be standing upright, but, on a closer look, most have been hollowed out by the blasts of many explosions. In fact many of Syria’s small and bigger towns have suffered the same treatment. As to the country’s infrastructure it has either been destroyed or else, it is falling apart for lack of maintenance.

In other words, the same tragedy which took place in Iraq as a result of the country’s invasion by the imperialist powers is being played out again in Syria, but this time, without (more…)

by Yassamine Mather

Before the death of ayatollah Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani on January 8 (an event that has dominated Iranian politics and news), Iranian clerics and leaders of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards had been competing with each other in making exaggerated claims about the significance of the fall of Aleppo: it was a victory against “heresy” and for the “ascendancy of Shia Islam”. One cleric called on Iranians (presumably he meant the Revolutionary Guards already in Syria) to clean up Aleppo, as the 12th Shia Imam would soon be paying a visit!

This, together with the triumphalism during the inspection of the ruins of east Aleppo by major general Qasem Soleimini (credited with commanding Iranian troops in Syria’s recent battles), should be condemned. The intervention of Iran and Russia in Syria has cost the lives of thousands of civilians. All such foreign intervention – be it by the US, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Iran and Russia – should be condemned, and Iran and Russia cannot be exempt from this on the basis that they were invited by the Syrian regime.

Having said that, we now have a clearer picture of the final days of the battles in and around east Aleppo. The latest round of ‘peace talks’ between some rebel groups and Turkey, Iran and Russia gives an indication of who backed the main armed rebel groups. Most of these groups, far from being democratic, secular forces, were close to Turkey’s Islamic nationalist president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The extended participation of Syrian Kurds on the same side as those fighting against ‘rebels’ in Aleppo (in other words, on the same side as Hezbollah and other Shia groups) demonstrates that accusations of Turkish involvement in arming and sponsoring a section of the rebels in east Aleppo should be taken seriously.

Free Syrian Army

By all accounts, at least since 2015, the claim that the Free Syrian Army represents moderate or secular forces has been untenable.

It is worthwhile repeating what (more…)

Redline has run articles with different perspectives on Syria – from those who emphasise imperialist involvement to those that emphasise the awfulness of the Assad regime and the need to solidarise with its victims and those fighting it.  Below is the third perspective, presented by one of our Iranian readers (Redline is blocked in Iran, but we have readers there as well as Iranian readers around the world).  This third perspective is that the Assads are brutal and corrupt dictators but the alternative is even worse, as happened in Iran in 1979 – and, for that matter, more recently in Libya.  This perspective also suggests that western leftists who place emphasis on getting rid of Assad, at virtually any cost, are playing with fire but that it is not them who have suffered the consequences of the replacement of Gaddafi and it won’t be them who will suffer the consequences of the replacement of Assad by Islamic fundamentalists – it will be the working class, women, and national and religious minorities; the western left will just walk away unscathed (and unreflective).

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As bad as the Assad regime is, the alternative is even worse

by Karim Pourhamzavi

The tragic and brutal chaos is getting close to completing its fifth year. Recently, the siege of Aleppo by the Syrian army and its allies, along with the Russian heavy bombardment, has attracted a large amount of media attention, particularly by the anti-Assad camp. The extensive advance of the troops loyal to the Syrian regime, at the time of writing, put an end to the controversial siege.

Aleppo, the largest city in Syria, did not witness a large-scale uprising in 2011, when the wider rebellion took place and steadily became a transnational armed struggle by the end of the same year. Various militant groups who fight in Syria, most prominent of which is the Nusra Front, the al-Qaeda branch in Syria, took over eastern Aleppo in 2012. The eastern part of the city includes approximately 300,000 residents and the western part, which has remained under the control of the Syrian regime to this day, is home for over one million residents, although you would not know this from ‘mainstream’ media coverage – you would think the whole of the city has been in ‘rebel’ hands and is being bombarded by the regime.

Propaganda

Any attempt of the Syrian regime to regain the eastern part of Aleppo was confronted by extensive propaganda in much of the western media. Not to mention the increase of multi-dimensional supports to the militants, including the Nusra Front, by the anti-Assad camp. The focus on civilian casualties whenever the Syrian army tries to regain Aleppo is, however, only one side of the story. The other side is that (more…)

This talk was delivered to the Communist University, August 6-13 (2016), London.

On September 4, 2010 British war criminal (and former prime minister) Tony Blair arrived in Dublin to promote his self-serving book.  The Irish socialist-republican current éirígí called a protest at Eason’s, the central city bookshop where Blair was doing a book signing.  éirígí had demanded that if Blair set foot in the 26-county state he be arrested as a war criminal.

Announcing the protest, éirígí spokesperson Daithí Mac An Mhaistír said Blair’s legacy is one of illegal invasions, occupations and war crimes, noting “Tony Blair is a war criminal, with the blood of hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians on his hands. Alongside his US allies, Blair launched brutal and bloody wars against the people of Afghanistan and Iraq. More than 1.3 million Iraqis are believed to have been killed during the illegal invasion and subsequent occupation.

“This man should be arrested and put before the International Criminal Court.”

He continued: “In Afghanistan, casualties continue to mount as the occupation and slaughter of civilians continues. Blair’s justifications for these invasions are a tissue of lies and deceit. His book is an attempt to rewrite history and justify his role in these illegal wars and the countless war crimes committed by British troops.

“In his time as British prime minister, Blair also oversaw the normalisation of the British occupation in the Six Counties and the murder by pro-British forces of nationalist civilians, including human rights lawyer Rosemary Nelson. He also blocked all attempts to secure the truth about collusion between British forces and unionist death squads, in particular their role in the Dublin/Monaghan bombings.”

Mac An Mhaistír concluded: “The book promotion in Eason’s is an insult to the victims of Blair’s war crimes and Eason’s should withdraw their invitation to him. If Blair proceeds with his visit, éirígí will be highlighting his crimes and staging a protest outside Eason’s from 10am on Saturday [September 4].”  Below is the video of the protest called by éirígí:

 

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Moko Rangitoheriri

by Don Franks

The torture and slaying of Moko Rangitoheriri appalled and sickened me, as it did most people in New Zealand. I say most, because not everyone is repelled. There are those in our society who regularly abuse and murder children.

How humans can become brutalised to commit such crimes is hard to understand. The impoverishment of generations plays an indelible part. In wretched ghettos of New Zealand discarded by capitalism there are families reduced to hopelessness by generational unemployment.

US soldiers humiliating and torturing prisoners at Abu Ghraib

US soldiers humiliating and torturing prisoners at Abu Ghraib

Families with no positive role models. Hardly ‘families’ at all, more like atomised individuals fighting blindly for their own corner, with no sense of solidarity and little sense of right and wrong.

However, as is frequently pointed out by politicians, most recently Labour leader Andrew Little, not all people in poverty abuse children. And so, the familiar argument continues, the problem is not really poverty, but the existence of a few evil people. People who think it’s ok to inflict torture on those unable to resist.

downloadThe problem with this argument is the fact that vicious torture of the helpless is currently socially acceptable. It is sanctioned by the rulers of society and carried out by their minions.

Torture of prisoners in (more…)

There’s a good Radio NZ interview with Yposter-Yassamine1assamine Mather on the current situation in Iran. The interview is 18 minutes long and available on podcast here:  Listen

She discusses the lifting of sanctions, the Shah’s regime, the conservative clerical regime, repression, the position of women, and the internal opposition. She speaks too of hope for the future for the region with the youth of Iran being very opposed to the clerics.

And for our own Redline interview with Yassamine several years ago, read here.