Archive | February 5th, 2012

Disbanding of the Gibson inquiry

NOVANEWS

The government has announced that the plug is to be pulled on the Gibson inquiry into Britain’s role in the kidnap, transfer across borders and torture of terror suspects over the past decade.

Ever since this inquiry was promised in July 2010, one excuse after another has been volunteered for its failure even to begin calling in witnesses. Wait till all the related police investigations have been completed, ran the standard argument, then we can get properly started.

The police went through the motions of investigating MI5’s interrogation of Binyam Mohamed in Pakistan, reportedly conducted after CIA briefings had made clear the ill treatment to which he was being subjected. This investigation ended with an out-of-court settlement and no charges.

Predictably, the police inquiry into allegations over MI6’s interrogation of suspects under duress at Bagram air base in Afghanistan once again terminated with no charges, the CIA having refused to cooperate with the investigation.

But if it seemed that the planned Gibson whitewash factory was now ready to commence production, this reckoned without the unanticipated side effects of imperialist support for the counter-revolutionary insurgency in Libya.

Abdelhakim Belhadj was a darling of the West when he fought with the mujahideen against Afghanistan’s progressive government and later tried to assassinate Colonel Gaddafi, but he fell from favour post-9/11 as his Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) was linked to al Qaeda. It is during this period that British intelligence, doubtless for its own reasons, is supposed to have assisted Libya in getting him behind bars.

Since his release, however, he has played a key role in the Libyan counter-revolution, and now parades about as the head of Tripoli Military Council, fully restored – for the time being at least – to the West’s good graces.

As imperialism has no permanent friends, only permanent interests, it should astonish nobody to see the dizzying speed with which heroes become demons and vice versa in western eyes. But such propaganda zigzags do not come cost-free for imperialism, as Whitehall is now discovering.

Now that no less than the head of Tripoli Military Council in ‘liberated’ Libya is suing Britain for its role in his previous incarceration and interrogation, and refusing to collaborate with the joke Gibson inquiry, it will not be so easy to conclude matters with an out-of-court settlement and a muttered “insufficient evidence to press charges”.

Of course, Belhadj was not the only fundamentalist whom the British were happy to see dealt with by Colonel Gaddafi’s government in Libyan jails. And the British government is very much hoist by its own propaganda petard, because, in demonising Gaddafi for the purpose of ‘justifying’ its own participation in the outrageous imperialist war of aggression against Libya, it put out all kinds of allegations of torture being committed by Libya’s government in the jails to which it had happily not so long ago been shunting British imperialism’s fundamentalist opponents.

We can expect as a result a flood of these fundamentalists, using British imperialism’s own propaganda against it, to be claiming compensation from the British government. Who knows, some of that compensation may end up being used in the fullness of time to finance armed struggle against the imperialists who assisted the fundamentalists in their own obscurantism-inspired battles against progressive Arab regimes.

In short, it is starting to look as if all the whitewash in the world will not be enough to cover the stench of imperialist degeneracy.

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Release of 1981 Cabinet papers

NOVANEWS

Lessons to be learnt and questions raised.

“These were not race riots – riots between races. Rather the conflict was with police as symbols of white authority, with state racism and criminalisation of black communities.”

The latest government papers to be released to the National Archives under the 30-year rule offer a revealing insight into the ‘management’ of the British state – and not just how things were in 1981.

Those of us who were around at the time will recall that the year was made memorable by mass uprisings against police violence, by the death of 10 Irish republican prisoners on hunger strike for the restoration of political status, and by the election of the hunger strikers’ leader, Bobby Sands, to the British parliament just weeks before his death.

Against the background of a capitalist crisis of overproduction that was causing widespread redundancies, closures and wage cuts, as well as cuts in public healthcare and education provision, police had been acting in the most depressed areas of the country like an occupation force, carrying out summary punishments on the streets. Using their powers under the notorious ‘sus’ and immigration laws, they picked out black and Asian youths for special levels of aggression and intimidation.

Eventually, the communities receiving such ‘special’ attention from the guardians of law and order could take no more, and they fought back spectacularly against the cruel and vindictive treatment of the invading police hordes.

Sir Bernard Ingham, Margaret Thatcher’s press secretary, headed a team of economic specialists looking into the ‘riots’ in such places as Brixton, Southall, and Wood Green in London, Toxteth in Liverpool and Moss Side in Manchester. He sent a memo marked ‘secret’ to his boss in which he said “the consensus can be summed up in two words: ‘deeply worried’” adding in brackets “Where next?

The answer to that question came swiftly as Brixton burst into resistance again, followed by Handsworth in Birmingham and Chapeltown in Leeds.

The government of the day, not unlike the present one, tried to blame the uprising on parents not controlling their children, on greed (claiming that the backlash against police brutality was really just about looting shops) and, of course, on black youths not being properly integrated into the ‘wider’ community and alienating themselves because they had no respect for ‘British values’.

Also, lacking today’s technology scapegoats like Blackberry instant messenger, Facebook and Twitter at that time, the TV was blamed for showing pictures of ‘riots’ which supposedly encouraged others to follow suit. This was, in 1981 as it is today, a thinly-veiled call for increased suppression of news and greater censorship.

Tellingly, although these excuses, strongly peddled by media and government spokespeople at the time, were accepted by many British people then, the consensus among all those who have studied the uprisings since is that their primary character was indeed that of an uprising against police brutality:

These were not race riots – riots between races. Rather the conflict was with police as symbols of white authority, with state racism and criminalisation of black communities.” (K Leech, Struggle in Babylon, 1988)

The released papers, however, show that the government was not as out of touch as its above public utterances make them look. They reveal that Sir Bernard Ingham was worried about “the certainty of much worse unemployment figures, and very much worse youth unemployment”.

And in a telling aside on the true nature of public ‘royal’ events he added: “what the royal wedding will bring to unrelieved gloom will be reduced by industrial action and the national atmosphere soured”. Quite apart from the lovely description of capitalism as ‘unrelieved gloom’ this quote really shows how royalty and the pageantry that goes with it is used to help pacify the masses.

The industrial action Sir Bernard referred to was that of public-sector workers trying to resist impoverishment by fighting for higher wages. That the threat of industrial action in the public sector to defend the living standards of the workers was a real worry to the Thatcher government can be gleaned from a letter written to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Geoffrey Howe, by John Hoskins, head of the Downing Street policy unit, saying “we should try – implicitly and subtly, not very obviously, to link in people’s minds the moral similarity between high pay claims demanded with menaces and other forms of anti-social behaviour, including rioting and looting”.

This is a very informative insight into the way that capitalist propaganda operates. Having demonised one group of workers, our ‘masters’ then proceed to demonise others by a barely hinted association. This ploy is designed to make the social-democratic, ‘respectable’ leadership of British trade unions and the better-off amongst their members recoil in horror, and to alienate many other workers who might have sympathised and supported them in their struggle.

Actually, though, John Hoskins was right to link the two groups: there is a strong connection between organised workers fighting to protect or improve their pay and conditions on the one hand and workers fighting on the streets against the body of armed men that protect the state on the other! Both groups of workers have the same enemy, and it is only the lies, twisted truths and controls exercised over workers since their birth by the enemy and its agents (both inside and outside the labour movement) that keep them isolated from one another and weak.

Another interesting little snippet that the papers reveal from the discussions of ministers in the aftermath of the uprisings was the view they expressed privately, presumably with some evidence, that “much of the large scale looting in Toxteth, for example, had been carried out by middle-aged white residents who had had no part in the riots themselves”. The public line from these ministers, of course, was that all the ‘offences’ were being committed by black youths.

We can only say that those of us who remember the events know that, although the areas of conflict were mainly black and immigrant areas, both black and white youths fought on the streets against the heavy hand of police oppression, and that unity, limited though it was, was a thing of great beauty to behold.

The environment secretary, Michael Heseltine, anxious to be seen as ‘softer’ than Thatcher and as a potential prime minister himself, pleaded to be allowed to undertake a two-week investigation of Toxteth, talking to locals and empowered to splash around some money (a PR exercise as much for his own good as the government’s). Thatcher, who had herself just visited Toxteth, spending a single hour with community leaders and coming away saying she was “amazed at their hatred for the police”, agreed to the investigation, with the caveat that any money given would be decided by the government.

So Heseltine took his media circus to Liverpool, with himself as the centre of attention of course, and publicly called for a £100m boost for the area. However, this show of ‘bringing harmony’ to the people of Toxteth was not to the taste of all government ministers or the Tory hierarchy. Chancellor Geoffrey Howe wrote to the PM warning of the “need to be careful not to over-commit scarce resources to Liverpool”, adding that “we do not want to find ourselves concentrating all the limited cash that may have to be made available into Liverpool and have nothing left for the possibly more promising areas such as the Midlands or, even the North East”.

And Mr Howe had a further contemptuous and sinister suggestion regarding Liverpool. He wrote, in reference to a study carried out by the Cabinet office think-tank, the Central Policy Review Staff (CPRS), “I cannot help feeling that the option of managed decline, which the CPRS rejected in its study of Merseyside, is one we should not forget altogether.” Not too much imagination is required to get some idea of what ‘managed decline’ would mean.

Another ongoing struggle at that time was the fight of the Irish people for the reunification of their country and the ending of British rule in the north east of the island. When a group of volunteer republican prisoners, led by IRA commander Bobby Sands, decided to carry on the struggle by means of a hunger strike the government publicly put on an air of indifference, but in private they took this brave and bold strategy very seriously.

This pivotal episode in Irish resistance to British imperialist rule, during which 10 heroic volunteers laid down their lives, brought the Irish struggle back into the clear view of the world’s people, triggered a massive new influx of recruits into the republican forces, and eventually led to the peace process that has moved the Irish struggle into its current, political phase.

The released papers bear out this view and in fact tell much more. While publicly declaring that it ‘would not deal with terrorists’, the British government was in fact holding secret negotiations with the republican movement. The released files show just how dangerous the government considered the hunger strikes to be to British imperialism and just how anxious ministers were to end them. There was even Cabinet discussion of a possible British withdrawal following “an erosion of international confidence in British policy” and at “a widespread feeling in favour of British withdrawal” at home.

If the British labour movement had been more supportive of our Irish comrades, instead of lining up with British imperialism (with some honourable exceptions), the withdrawal that was being grudgingly discussed inside the British cabinet might well have become a reality. So worried did ministers become that they discussed intravenously force-feeding the hunger strikers to break the strike.

They knew, however, that this would not work because, as the papers tell us, they realised that “if intravenous feeding led to all the protesting prisoners coming out on hunger strike the authorities would be faced with the enormous task of sustaining them by such methods indefinitely”. Instead, the British government had to sit and watch history move away from it and towards a united Ireland, a direction in which the country is still travelling, despite the dragging of British imperialist heels.

The released papers also document the massive support given by both Britain and the US to creating and maintaining the insurgency that fought against Afghanistan’s new revolutionary government and the Soviet troops that came to assist it.

This support came in the shape of anti-Soviet propaganda manufactured by specially trained cameramen and reporters ‘embedded’ into the mujahideen groups, military training of the insurgents and huge amounts of weaponry.

Lord Carrington, the foreign secretary, wrote in a note regarding a request for anti-aircraft and anti-tank weapons and .303 ammunition from Ahmed Gailani, leader of the National Islamic Front of Afghanistan, “from information available to us, I am satisfied that arms are getting through to the Afghan resistance. I do not think therefore that we need or should get into the business of supplying arms to the resistance ourselves. I would, of course, look at any specific requests on their merits.”

We know that arms dealers have always been ‘close’ to British governments of whatever political hue and the merits of that particular request must indeed have been convincing because it is a matter of fact that Britain supplied limpet mines (used against tanks) and anti-aircraft blowpipe missiles, along with much other military equipment.

The released Cabinet papers provide glimpses into many other things that the British government of 30 years ago involved itself in, but there are some subjects deemed not suitable for our eyes even after this length of time. These include the files on Anthony Blunt (a royal aide and Cambridge don who turned out to have been a Soviet spy during the 1930s and ’40s), the taking out of Tory MP Airey Neave (killed by the Irish National Liberation Army (INLA) inside Westminster just two days before he would have taken office as Northern Ireland Secretary in the new Tory government), and the case of Jeremy Thorpe (a Liberal Party leader who was accused of conspiring to murder his alleged former lover Norman Scott on the eve of the 1979 election, just in time to ensure defeat for the Liberal-Labour alliance at the polls).

While all of these certainly involved national security at the time, it is hard to see that there could be any national security issues that remain today that could possibly excuse the non-publication of the relevant files, at least in redacted form. Withholding this information cannot but incite speculation as to what remains hidden, suggesting the likely involvement of Britain’s secret service dirty-tricks brigade at one level or another.

The fact remains that even after 30 years, when many of the individual criminals that make up any bourgeois government are pushing up daisies, imperialism still needs to try and hide its true nature, so papers released under the 30-year rule are bound to have big gaps and be decidedly sketchy. They can, however, still be of some use in offering insights into the duplicitous behaviour of our rulers, allowing us to draw conclusions about the present-day running of British imperialism, while showing up the reality of a ‘democracy’ that is championed around the world by imperialism at the point of cruise missiles.

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Egypt: the masses are still in Tahrir Square

NOVANEWS

The harder imperialism tries to impose its own travesty of an ‘Arab spring’ upon the Libyans and Syrians, the clearer it becomes that the real ‘spring’ – the revolt of the oppressed and dispossessed against corrupt feudal sheikhdoms and other rulers imposed and maintained by the West – has not gone away and has plenty of unfinished business in its sights.

The continued dictatorship of Egypt’s corrupt and brutal military establishment since the token removal of Mubarak has wiped out some of the illusions that attended the early days of the protests.

Field Marshall Tantawi’s Supreme Council of Armed Forces (SCAF) has for months been presiding over a reign of terror, which has seen over 12,000 dragged before military tribunals, the routine use of torture and beatings, and the deliberate stoking up of sectarian hatred against the Coptic christians. To cap it all, SCAF declared its intention of inventing a civilian advisory body composed of party representatives, artists and intellectuals to make suggestions and represent the military council in parliament. Further, if parliament wanted to make any changes affecting the army, it would need to ask the army’s permission!

The people’s response came in November and December, when hundreds of thousands again flooded into Tahrir Square to denounce the regime. The police reaction was murderous and well-publicised, with video footage on the internet showing soldiers stripping the clothes off the female protestors whom they were beating up.

The New York Times reported “more than 24 hours of street fighting in front of the military-occupied parliament building that left 10 dead from gunshots and hundreds wounded. For most of the previous day and night, men in plain clothes, accompanied by a few in uniform, stood on top of the ‘people’s assembly’ and hurled chunks of concrete and stone taken from inside the building down at the crowd of demonstrators several stories below.” (‘Leader denies use of violence as Cairo crackdown persists’ by David D Kirkpatrick, 18 December 2011)

If the token trial of the previous dictator, Hosni Mubarak, was supposed to distract attention from the crimes of the present dictator, it has failed miserably. Even Washington, traditionally so reliant upon its close relations with the Egyptian military, appears to be casting about for alternative allies – including within the Muslim Brotherhood, which topped the polls in the recent election.

US deputy secretary of state William Burns met the Brothers on 11 January, dangling hopes of US investment in Egypt – subject to cooperation with the IMF. An IMF delegation is anticipated with a possible reinstated $3bn loan offer, for whoever can best demonstrate willingness to bow the knee to imperialist diktat. Burns drew the line at meeting the Salafi leaders of the newly coined Nour party, runners-up in the election, perhaps finding their anti-zionist views too much to take.

A year on from the first signs of the ‘spring’, everything possible has been done to bamboozle or crush the spirit of Tahrir out of the Egyptian masses. Yet all that this has done is strip away the people’s illusions and harden their determination to resist. The steel of revolt is being tempered.

Long live the spirit of Tahrir Square!

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Libya: green flag raised in Bani Walid

NOVANEWS

After the capture, torture and murder of Libya’s national leader on 20 October, imperialist joy was unbounded in Washington, London and Paris. It seemed the green revolution had been cut off at the head, and now it only remained for the western-backed ‘opposition’ to form a puppet government ready to deliver sovereign Libya and her oil wealth safely into the clutches of imperialism.

Just three days after Colonel Gaddafi was slaughtered, Libya was solemnly pronounced to be ‘liberated’, and all the talk was of minting a brand new constitution and government.

By early November, however, the assorted counter-revolutionary militia had already broken their pledge to give up their weapons and submit to the authority of the National Transitional Council (NTC), instead continuing to fight each other over the elusive spoils of victory. The heavily armed Misrata Brigades, in between engaging in fire fights with their terrorist rivals from Benghazi, have not even refrained from attacking each other in Misrata itself, with brigades setting up rival checkpoints in the city.

Meanwhile, in amongst this chaos of civil war unleashed by imperialism, there starts to emerge also evidence that Libya’s green forces are gathering strength after the setback of losing their leading figure.

And whilst the mainstream media are happy to use the fog of war to muddle up sectarian clashes with acts of resistance, it is clear even from their reports that resistance to NTC attempts to rule is growing. Nor is it always so obvious where militia loyalties lie.

When Gaddafi’s son Saif al-Islam was captured by the Zintan militia, the ecstatic NTC promised he would be delivered to the International Criminal Court. Instead he appears, according to some reports, to have remained under the protection of the Zintan militia, which according to Dr Yusuf Shakir, a veteran Libyan TV broadcaster, may itself be warming to the green cause.

Some sense of the developing pattern of events can be gleaned from the Libya Liberation Front News (LLFN) website, though the information coming through is necessarily patchy and hard to corroborate in detail. This source tells how people chased out of Tawergha (formerly home to 10,000 mainly black Libyans, now a ghost town) in racist pogroms are now crammed into unsanitary concentration camps in the depths of winter, with their children dying of exposure to frost.

Other displaced people inside Tripoli have been attacked and robbed by the Misrata militia. This nation, which a year ago could boast the highest Human Development Index in all Africa, is now reduced to near-barbarism.

Yet the LLFN website testifies how even in the midst of all this chaos, resistance is growing in influence and organisational strength. For example we are told that the “green army has sent teams of engineering battalion to start immediate repairs on the Man-Made River in areas that have been captured by the green army”.

At present, the western stooges use water shortages as a way of controlling the population, cutting off the supply to those who disagree with the NTC’s rebellion or who cannot afford to pay the hefty new bills. By their actions, the green resistance forces are striving to restore fresh water and electricity to city residents.

LLFN reports too that anti-green rebels in the southern city of Sabha have lost control to green forces, calling on the quisling NTC for reinforcements, and armed clashes between rebels and green fighters in Sirte are reported to have left a score of rebels dead. In and around Tripoli itself, it is claimed that recent ground operations by green forces have resulted in the loss of many NTC soldiers, whilst a green attack using two helicopter gunships cost the lives of a number of French and Italian mercenary agents near Bregah.

A resistance attack is also reported upon El Jadida prison involving an intense fire fight and the loss of a number of NTC security goons. A new year report announced that Sabha, Bani Walid, Tarhouna and Zilten are still flying the green flag of the resistance, and people there publicly celebrated the reopening of the Al Jamahriya TV channel, (now beaming in from Egypt to the chagrin of the NTC).

As we go to press, we are much heartened by the following report, which appeared in the Daily Mail of 24 January:

“Libya appeared to be sliding backwards into civil war yesterday when supporters of Colonel Gaddafi’s regime clashed with government forces and seized control of a town.

“At least four were killed in the violence. The fighting came just 24 hours after the head of the interim government said Libya risked becoming a ‘bottomless pit’.

“A resident of Bani Walid, about 120 miles south-east of Tripoli, said both sides fought using heavy weaponry and that 20 had been wounded …

“Another witness said the fighting had stopped but that supporters of the country’s previous regime were in control.

“The violence was sparked when some Gaddafi loyalists were arrested. Other supporters of the former leader, who was captured and killed in October, attacked the local militia’s headquarters in response …

“The uprising could not come at a worse time for the ruling National Transitional Council. It is already reeling from violent protests in the eastern city of Benghazi.” (‘Four dead as Gaddafi loyalists seize town amid fears country is descending into “bottomless pit”’ by Julian Gavaghan)

The impotent NTC has meanwhile announced its fantasy plans for a new electoral system. In place of the mass-participation model of neighbourhood democracy that previously obtained, the quislings propose to ban from standing, not only former government leaders (and this despite the fact that many NTC leaders were themselves senior members of the former Libyan government), but even anyone who secured a university degree relating to academic research on the Green Book. Clearly the only democratic right now in Libya is that being fought for by the green resistance.

Victory to Libya’s green army!

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Syria: Assad looks East

Proletarian issue 46 (February 2012)

 

 

The Syrian president has reasserted his government’s anti-imperialist credentials and his people’s determination maintain their dignity and independence.

 
 
 

President Bashar al-Assad’s January speech in Damascus has been much abused but little studied in the West. In it, Assad boldly confirmed the government’s intention to unite the nation behind its planned reforms whilst giving no quarter to the western-backed insurgency, serving notice on the world that Syria has no intention of abandoning the anti-imperialist road, despite the internationally driven campaign of slander and violence that has racked the nation for the past year.

Whilst naturally for Victoria Nuland of the US state department the speech proved that Assad should “step aside”, and French foreign minister Alain Juppé snorted that the speech was a “denial of reality”, for all sane and progressive humanity this slap in the face for colonial arrogance was cheering indeed.

Assad’s confidence reflected the fact that imperialist aggression against Syrian sovereignty, carefully decked out in phony ‘Arab spring’ regalia, has been running into increasing difficulties of late. In October, America barked its shins on the Russian and Chinese Security Council veto, thwarting its attempt to get the UN to declare economic war on Syria with a sanctions resolution.

Then, frustrated at the failure of all its propaganda lies and covert support for terrorism to overthrow the broadly based Ba’athist-led secular coalition that leads the country, imperialism came clean on its support for armed subversion within the country, no longer even bothering to pretend that what is going on is just ‘peaceful democratic protestors versus a brutal dictatorship’.

Sadly for the insurgents though, now that they have stepped out of the shadows, their lack of support within the country, and embarrassing reliance upon support from their country’s enemies, have become ever more evident.

Under these circumstances, the US, Britain and France are scrambling all the harder to lend the pro-imperialist insurgency against Syrian national sovereignty an Arab face. To this end, the feudal relics now dominating the Arab League, such shining examples of democracy and progress as Saudi Arabia and Qatar, were egged on to push for the Arab League observer mission to go and nose around Syria in search of pretexts for intervention by the ‘international community’.

In his speech Assad aptly characterised this ‘international community’ as “a group of big colonial countries, which view the whole world as an arena full of slaves who serve their interests”. By kowtowing to these panjandrums, the Arab League will “no longer be a league – bringing people together – or Arab. It will be a mock-Arab body in order to be in line with [the imperialists’] policies and the role they are playing on the Arab arena. Otherwise, how can we explain this unprecedented and unreasonable tact with the zionist enemy in everything it does and this decisiveness and toughness with Syria?”

Of the League he asked: “Has it returned one olive tree uprooted by Israel or prevented the demolition of one Palestinian house in occupied Arab Palestine? Has it been able to prevent the partition of Sudan or prevent the killing of over a million Iraqis or feed a single starved Somali?” As for the penny lectures offered by such people on the subject of democracy, he compared them to “a smoking doctor who advises the patient to quit smoking while putting a cigarette in his mouth”!

Yet when the long-awaited observer mission arrived, even this stunt started to backfire. When the mission visited Homs, it was incautious enough to note that the situation was – “reassuring”! There was no sign of tanks on the street, just the occasional armoured car. Incensed, ‘activists’ claimed that the monitors were mistaken, the tanks must have been pulled out when they saw them coming, and in any case the mission’s leader was from Sudan and could not be trusted. In short, the monkey was not dancing hard enough to the organ grinder’s tune.

Since then, no effort has been spared to furnish the mission with photo opportunities to illustrate the supposed brutality of the state, orchestrating provocative demonstrations, putting words in monitors’ mouths, and not even stopping at such gruesome stunts as reportedly hoisting a young girl’s lifeless body across the bonnet of an observer’s car as supposed proof of government atrocities. Yet for all that, as Assad puts it, “the tears shed by the dealers of freedom and democracy for our own victims can no longer conceal the role they played in the bloodshed that they tried to use for their own purposes”.

Further pressure upon the mission to cleave more closely to the intended propaganda line came with the maximum media coverage given to the decision by one of the monitors, Anwar Malek, to quit his post. He told the Qatar-based Al Jazeera that the “mission was a farce and the observers have been fooled”, adding that the “regime orchestrated it and fabricated most of what we saw to stop the Arab League from taking action against the regime”. Of course, Al Jazeera knows all about fabrication, having itself built and televised an elaborate replica of Tripoli’s Green Square in Doha as part of the psy-ops wing of the Libyan counter-revolution.

Exactly who is fooling whom came sharply and tragically into focus with the death in Homs of the French journalist Gilles Jacquier. His cameraman explained that Jacquier had been interviewing merchants out on the street when a spontaneous pro-government demo took off. It was whilst they were filming this that the rockets were fired, killing the journalist and at least seven others.

The Syrian information ministry officials pointed out that the murder was just the latest extension of the terror chain to which Syria is exposed, adding that it comes in the context of the terrorists’ bid to distort the real image of what is happening in Syria.

Meanwhile, when the Arab League mission’s report was presented on 22 January, it broadly concluded that the League’s plan was being implemented by Syria. Whilst dutifully repeating the West’s assertions about government violence, the report was honest enough to point out the violence of the ‘opposition’. The report also noted that Damascus had granted authorisation to approximately 147 media outlets to operate in Syria, with 112 media outlets being physically present in Syria, and 90 media outlets sending reporters. The mission’s leader, General Mohammed al-Dabi, recommended that the mission be extended to allow it to complete its duties.

Horrified at the sight of the whole propaganda exercise backfiring so badly, Saudi Arabia at once responded to al-Dabi’s measured report by denouncing the mission’s leadership and pulling its monitors out of the team, with Bahrain and Kuwait rapidly following suit. By sabotaging the very diplomatic mission that they themselves had earlier demanded, this gaggle of princelings stand exposed before the whole world as puppets of imperialism. They themselves are rotten ripe for that same overthrow which they so ardently wish upon the Syrian government.

Putting all this in context, Assad spelled out in his speech the strategic goals that imperialism is pursuing right across the Middle East and went on to explain why those goals will never be achieved. “What is taking place in Syria is part of what has been planned for the region for tens of years, as the dream of partition is still haunting the grandchildren of Sykes–Picot. But today their dream turns into a nightmare, and if some believe that the time of conflict over Syria is back, then they are mistaken …

“And one thing we will never allow them to achieve is defeating Syria as it means defeating steadfastness and resistance and it also means the fall of the whole region to the hands of great powers. Defeat is not necessarily military and it might come true if they succeed in making us withdraw to internal conflicts and forget about our bigger issues – on top of which is the Palestinian issue.

“The ultimate goal which they aspire to achieve eventually is a Syria that is busy with internal marginal conflicts … But they did not succeed in destroying our identity or in shaking our belief that the resistance is at the core of this identity, which shall remain firm as it has always been over history.”

Towards the conclusion of his speech, Assad offered this valuable insight into the shifting geopolitics within which the world struggle against imperialism is playing out:

“For us, the West is important and we cannot deny this truth. But the West today is not like the West a decade ago. The world is changing and there are emerging powers. There are alternatives. It is important, but it is not the oxygen that we breathe. If the West closes its doors, we can still breathe. It is not the life buoy without which we drown. We can swim on our own and along with our friends and brothers, and there are plenty of them.

“That is why we decided in 2005 to move eastwards. At that time, we knew that the West will never change. The West is still colonial in one way or another. It is changing from an old coloniser to a modern coloniser and from a modern coloniser during the Sykes-Picot agreement to a contemporary coloniser. It has different forms and shapes but it will never change, which means that we have to turn to the East.”

Victory to Syria and Assad!

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LETTER TO A ZIONIST HASBARA

NOVANEWS

By: mary Shepard

This is me on a comment thread telling some Zionists to shove it: You gentlemen, with the exception of Chet Riese, have proven yourselves to be sophomoric, adolescent anti-intellectuals totally devoid of any empathy or understanding for anyone who is not a Jew and/or an Israeli. This outrageous narrowmindedness, as well as your arrogance and antagonism towards people with whom you disagree, makes you worthless when it comes to having any meaningful discussion. In other words, you’re boring me to tears.

When you care to educate yourselves with information that is not the standard hasbara and other bigoted tripe, perhaps your minds will expand. But I tend to think otherwise. Your only interest is in comforting and entertaining each other with your hatred of Muslims and particularly Arabs, your denial of Palestinian suffering, and your incredibly shallow and stupid propensity for asking pointless questions.

You are whining, narcissistic, emotionally immature, insensitive, uninformed knuckle-draggers who are sadly out of step with the world and ignorant about its people.

Salam.

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