Archive for the ‘Terrorism’ 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…)

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by Daphna Whitmore

Gideon Levy is on a mission to tell the truth to Israelis, that they are accountable for the occupation. He has just finished a short visit to New Zealand and  several hundred people turned out to hear him speak at a public meeting in Auckland. 

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Gideon Levy

He gave a compelling view of the Israeli regime and society.  Born and raised in Israel Levy  did not start out as a critical thinker. It wasn’t until he started visiting the occupied territories in the early 1980s as a journalist for the newspaper Haaretz that he gradually realised how brainwashed he’d been.

He characterises Israel as three regimes. One is a liberal democracy for the Jewish citizens, though there are cracks emerging in that democracy. Nevertheless Jews, including Levy, enjoy all the rights of a democracy and he has published his unpopular views in Haaretz for decades without being silenced. The second regime is for the Palestinian citizens living within Israel, known as Israeli Arabs, who have formal civil rights but face deep discrimination. The third regime is the “dark backyard” of the occupied territories, one of the most tyrannical regimes, not identical to that of apartheid South Africa, but one that looks a lot like apartheid.  (more…)

Thomas Suarez, State of terror: how terrorism created modern Israel, London: Skyscraper Publications, 2016, pp418, £20.  Reviewed by Tony Greenstein.

The state of Israel prides itself on being at the forefront of the ‘war against terror’ and the war on Islam and it is this which makes Israel the darling of Europe’s far right. But this book documents how the Israeli state was born in a wave of terror that makes Palestinian guerrilla groups seem like children at play.

Terror was remorselessly directed at the indigenous Palestinians by the three main Zionist militias – the Labour Zionist Haganah and its Palmach shock-troops; the revisionist Irgun, a split-off from Haganah in 1931 (Haganah Bet); and Lehi or the Stern Gang, a breakaway from Irgun in August 1940. The Irgun was commanded by Menachem Begin, who in 1977 was elected prime minister of Israel. Lehi, which parted from Irgun on the question of continuing the war against the British, was initially commanded by Avraham Stern and later a triumvirate, which included future Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Shamir (1983-84, 1986-92). Lehi distinguished itself by making two proposals in 1940 for a military pact with Nazi Germany against the British!

Suarez’s book is based on copious research from the Public Record Office at Kew. A clue to this book’s importance is the fierce campaign waged by the Zionist movement against it and its author. In Cambridge the Zionists managed to get a meeting relating to it cancelled.1 In Portsmouth the Zionists enlisted the aid of the Council’s Prevent officer, Charlie Pericleous, in order to put pressure on venues to cancel such talks. Presumably opposing Zionism makes you an ‘extremist’ and therefore a potential terrorist – a good example of how anti-terror laws are used to attack free speech. A talk at the School of Oriental and African Studies was disrupted by a group of Zionists led by Jonathan Hoffman, a well known activist, former Zionist Federation official and someone who has no problem with working with fascist and anti-Semitic groups, such as the English Defence League.

A talk held at the House of Lords on December 15 2016, hosted by Baroness Tonge, was subject to the same bogus complaints of anti-Semitism (on March 15 2017 an ethics committee of the House of Lords dismissed the allegations as baseless).

The Daily Mail, the paper which waged a campaign against Jewish immigration from Nazi Germany and tsarist Russia, became (more…)

by Yassamine Mather

If there was any doubt that we live in a post-truth world, the events of the last few days in the Middle East have proved that false news is winning out. Saudi Arabia, the birthplace and sponsor of jihadi/Salafi fundamentalism, has broken relations with Qatar, a supporter of a different brand of jihadism, accusing it of supporting ‘terrorism’. And the president of the United States claims he initiated all this. You know you live in a post-truth world when lies are considered truth, stupidity is considered smart and failure is considered success.

Saudi Arabia claimed it had taken the decision because of Qatar’s “embrace of various terrorist and sectarian groups aimed at destabilising the region”, including the Muslim Brotherhood, al Qa’eda, Islamic State and “groups supported by Iran”. Now anyone with a basic knowledge of the Middle East would tell you that this list of ‘terrorist groups’ put out by the Saudis (and presumably supported by Donald Trump) makes no sense.

Saudi and Qatari support for jihadis

While the Muslim Brotherhood, IS and al Qa’eda are staunch enemies of Iran and its supporters in the region (Hezbollah, Syria, etc), there is ample evidence for both Saudi and Qatari support for a plethora of Sunni jihadi groups in the region – mainly in reaction to (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…)

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…)