Archive for the ‘Syria’ Category

by Yassamine Mather

Irrespective of what the experts from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons say, there is no doubt that the Syrian dictator is capable of using weapons of mass destruction against his own population and it is possible that Bashar al-Assad was responsible for the attack in Douma.

However, the point remains that the tripartite alliance of the US, UK and France has failed to prove that the Syrian government was responsible for this terrible act before launching a military attack. In addition, after all the fake documents produced prior to the Iraq war, can anyone trust the advice of international ‘experts’? There is a level of justified scepticism amongst ordinary people about British government claims of being certain who was behind the ‘chemical attack’ used to justify the military operations of April 14.

Chemical weapons

In the current situation, when Assad is clearly winning the eight-year civil war, why would he use chemical weapons on a small group of fundamentalist Islamists, Jaysh al-Islam (an offshoot of Al Qa’eda)? After all, his government, aided by Russia and Iran, has managed to defeat the other offshoots operating in Syria and, what is more, in Douma a deal had been reached that paved the way for the departure of the insurgents.

As late as April 12, US defence secretary James Mattis was telling reporters that the United States and its allies were “still assessing” reports of a chemical weapons attack on April 7 – days after his boss, Donald Trump, and British prime minister Theresa May had declared they knew what had happened and firmly blamed Assad.

Unlike Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and elements in the Stop the War Coalition, I have no illusions in the United Nations and the sanctity of ‘international law’. However, it is interesting to read the case made by US law professors Jack Goldsmith and Oona Hathaway against (more…)

Advertisements

by Don Franks 

Last year, US ambassador Scott Brown clashed with our then prime minister Bill English, who’d described Trump’s threat to rain “fire and fury” on North Korea as “not helpful”.

In a TVNZ interview on October 15th , Scott Brown complained: With respect to the prime minister, who I do have a lot of respect for, people either love the president’s tweets or they hate the president’s tweets. But this is how the president communicates and reaches his base, and it’s effective for him… I would refer your viewers to a recent Washington Post article that came out on October 11th saying that the president’s policy, after years of basically languishing, are actually working”. Scott Brown went on at some length to make it clear that in future he expected more compliance from New Zealand politicians.

Since the governing Labour/NZ First coalition has been going, the US ambassador has not needed to caution our government on matters of foreign policy. It would seem the lesson has been taken. 

Soon after becoming prime minister, Ardern made it clear that her government would be prepared to support an attack on North Korea. Her statement was hedged around with talk of negotiations and UN resolutions but it was unambiguous. Military support was a last resort, but a resort no less. And there was no comment from her about Trumps’s continuing bellicose rhetoric being “unhelpful”.

On April 14th this year Jacinda Ardern declared that New Zealand “accepted” the US-British-French missile strikes on Syria. Ardern told reporters that her government had been informed about the attack hours in advance.

Asked by reporters if she would send troops to Syria, Ardern did not rule it out, responding: “That’s a hypothetical. We haven’t been asked.” 

ardernmerkel

Ardern firmed up her pro-war response after meeting with Merkel

She said she would discuss the war with French, German and British leaders during an upcoming visit to Europe. When later conferring with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Ardern firmed up her pro-war response, now saying she “utterly accepted” the need for attacks on Syria. (more…)

Today, June 5, marks the 50th anniversary of the beginning of the 1967 Six Days War.  The war saw Israel take over the Gaza Strip, the Golan Heights and the West Bank, as well as Sinai.

by Moshe Machover

Much has been written about the sequence of events leading to the June 1967 Six-Day War: the series of missteps through which Egypt’s president Gamal Abdel Nasser stumbled into the fatal trap of a war he had not intend to fight.1 The course of the war is also well documented: the crushing defeat of Egypt – sealed in the first few hours of the war, when virtually the entire Egyptian airforce was destroyed on the ground, like a badling of sitting ducks – followed by the defeat of Jordan and Syria, which subsequently got sucked into the war.2

As for the consequences of the war, to say that it “was a watershed moment in the history of the modern Middle East”3is, like most clichés, evidently true. (This also applies to the cliché ‘most clichés are true’…) Secular Arab nationalism was dealt a blow from which it has not recovered, while Israel emerged as a regional strongman, America’s local enforcer. Indeed, due to the geopolitical and strategic centrality of the Middle East, the outcome of the war had a considerable global effect: the defeat of the USSR’s main regional allies was a severe blow to its standing as a world power, contributed to its decline and presaged its demise.

In this, the 50th anniversary, much more is and will no doubt be written about all this: the lead-up to the war, its battles and aftermath. But here I would like to consider another aspect of that history: the pre-war roots of trends and developments that became manifest after June 1967. Like every major political crisis, the war was a moment of historical discontinuity: local, regional and to some extent even global reality took an abrupt turn. Yet, like every such crisis, it was also a juncture that amplified some pre-existing tendencies. That these were discernable in the preceding period – at least since 1956 – does not necessarily imply that the post-war shape of things could have been predicted with certainty. Rather, of the various alternatives that seemed possible before June 1967, the war selected some and suppressed others.

Global and regional roots

I cannot dwell here on the pre-1967 indications that the Soviet Union had entered a downward trend – which was to be its terminal decline – internally and internationally. Let me just mention the Cuban missile crisis of October 1962, when Nikita Khrushchev was forced into a humiliating climbdown. The Brezhnev era, which started two years later, is generally recognised as one of stagnation, presaging ultimate collapse. Given this background, it could come as no surprise that the Soviet Union had to look on impotently, as its two Arab allies were thoroughly routed and their Soviet military hardware destroyed. This led directly within a few years to Egypt, the leading Arab country, leaving the Soviet orbit and becoming a US client.

While for the Soviet Union the war was but one in a series of steps, midway along its downhill slide, for the Arab world it was a (more…)

The following is from an interview with Leila by Dimitris Konstantakopoulos which appeared on the Katehon site.

“We, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, made our position clear from the outset.

“We are not part of this crisis. We are refugees in Syria. The people of Syria has the right to make decisions for its country. We support the popular demands for democracy and freedom. It is the (more…)

by Jim Creegan

It is now increasingly apparent that the abrupt reversals of the Trump White House, emerging from behind a curtain of court intrigue, signal a major political shift. The white nationalist platform upon which the parvenu real estate mogul was elected in November seems in the process of being scrapped, plank by plank, in favour of a far more conventional rightwing Republican agenda, at home and abroad.

Far too often, Marxist political writing suffers from a conceptual gap. On the one hand, the bourgeois state is said – as a general theoretical proposition – to be an instrument of capitalist class rule. On the other hand, short to medium-term political events are analysed exclusively in terms of the pronouncements and deeds of political actors, momentary combinations, electoral moods etc., without regard to the interface between politics and class. No attempt is made uncover the particular pressures and influences through which the interests of the bourgeoisie are brought to bear.

In cases where politics flow through accustomed channels, the challenge is not daunting. Political parties and institutions are headed by individuals who either come from the ruling class themselves, or who are thoroughly venal and have undergone certain vetting procedures for class loyalty. The task of explanation becomes more difficult, however, when extraordinary convulsions – coups or insurrections in authoritarian regimes, or electoral upsets in democracies – put power in the hands of individuals and groups without long-established ruling class connections, and who may be hostile in important ways to the settled aims and practices of the bourgeoisie.

Hostile takeover?

Donald Trump is a case in point. Although himself a member of the ruling class, he entered the presidential primaries as an (more…)

Price of Raytheon shares. Notice the big spike immediately following the missile attack. Source: New York Stock Exchange

by Phil Duncan

The US strike against targets in Syria seems like a slap with a wet bus ticket – it appears the US administration felt it had to do something in response to the use of chemical weapons by the regime again, but not too much.  While the strike will hardly frighten the Russians or Assad, it has been a nice little earner for weapons manufacturer Raytheon.

Raytheon, you see, makes the Tomahawk missiles.

And Trump had shares in Raytheon, (more…)

by Juan Cruz Ferre

President Trump gave the order to open a new front in the Syrian war Thursday evening. The US Navy launched 59 Tomahawk missiles hitting the ground at Al Shayrat airfield in Syria, site from where the chemical weapons were allegedly launched.

This marks a qualitative shift in the US policies towards the country since the civil war started and a stark departure from Trump’s own campaign promises of trying to collaborate with Russia to curb the Islamic State.

The situation escalated after the use of chemical weapons on Tuesday in the opposition-held province of Idlib, killing 80 people. France and the UK blamed Assad’s regime for the chemical attack, while Russia accused armed opposition groups of keeping chemical weapons stored in facilities bombed by the Syrian air force.

Disingenuous

With a disingenuous rhetoric of defending the children from Assad’s regime, Trump ordered the direct airstrikes Thursday evening, marking a break with the previous policy on Syria of no formal military intervention in the government-held territory, while maintaining covert military and financial support of opposition militias, and direct bombing of the areas in control of ISIS.

Trump laid the ground for a military intervention early (more…)