Archive | August 9th, 2012

Amnesty International: An Instrument of War Propaganda?

NOVANEWS

By Felicity Arbuthnot

August 08, 2012 “Global Research” Amnesty International has released satellite pictures of “craters” in Syria, citing : “an increased use of heavy weaponry, including near residential areas”.

The BBC reports, quoting Amnesty: “Images from Anadan revealed more than 600 probable artillery impact craters from heavy fighting between Syrian armed forces and armed opposition groups.” (My emphasis.)

Further: “Turning Syria’s most populous city into a battlefield will have devastating consequences for civilians. The atrocities in Syria are mounting already,” warned Christoph Koettl, emergency response manager for Amnesty International USA, without acknowedging that the killings of civlians are committed by the US-NATO Free Syrian Army (FSA) rather than the government.

“The Syrian military and the opposition fighters must both adhere to international humanitarian law, which strictly forbids the use of tactics and weapons that fail to distinguish between military and civilian targets”, he added.

Amnesty’s record on impartiality suffered a fatal blow when they stated in 1991 that Iraqi soldiers had torn babies from their incubators in Kuwait and left them to die on the floor of the hospital’s neo-natal unit. Arguably this sealed the 1991 onslaught on Iraq. The story that the Kuwaiti government rewarded Amnesty with $500,000 for endorsing this pack of lies has not gone away – and as far as I am aware, to date, has not been denied.

Amnesty suffered another own goal by organising a demonstration last year, outside the London Syrian Embassy, with CAABU (Council for Arab British Understanding) calling for the overthrow of the sovereign Syrian government. A plan which was outlined by the US Embassy in Damascus in December 2005. This action arguably falls under the definition of incitement to terrorism, set out by the UN Security Council on 4th May 2012. (SC/10636.)

The Syrian government is doing what any nation would do to defend its country when attacked by terrorists, many from outside and many also with British accents, according to recently escaped, kidnapped British and Dutch journalists.

However, back to your 600 craters. The insurgents also seemingly have rocket propelled grenades and have also boasted of capturing tanks with heavy weaponry. However many craters or not, they will certainly be responsible for many and will not have clean hands.

Further, I do not seem to remember Amnesty blasting the British and Americans soldiers for killing, raping, murdering whole families of Iraqis and Afghans, also illegally invaded, who simply wanted their countries back, or were totally innocent victims.

No doubt the all is now directed by your new US Head, former top aide to Hilary Clinton who seems to hate most of the world’s non Western population, especially those of the Middle East, or of predominantly Muslim heritage.

Amnesty has moved a long way from its fine founding aims.

Felicity Arbuthnot is a freelance journalist specializing in social and environmental issues with a special knowledge of Iraq.

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Syrian rebels feel abandoned, betrayed by U.S.

NOVANEWS
 
 ” AMERICA SAYS…’  Shoah’

washingtonpost.com

AL-BAB, Syria — As the Arab world’s bloodiest revolt continues to maim, kill and ravage lives on an ever-escalating scale, anti-American sentiments are hardening among those struggling to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad, in ways that could have profound consequences for the country and the region in a post-Assad era.

America, once regarded by the Syrian opposition as a natural friend in its struggle for greater freedoms against a regime long at odds with the West, increasingly is being viewed with suspicion and resentment for its failure to offer little more than verbal encouragement to the revolutionaries.

Syria has become the bloodiest uprising of the Arab Spring and has now descended into a full-blown civil war. Find out what’s behind the conflict and what’s at stake for the international community.

In the nearly 17 months since Syrians joined the clamor for change that swept the Middle East last year, Tunisians, Egyptians and Libyans have voted in elections, chosen new leaders and embarked, however messily, on democratic transitions.

Syria, by contrast, is hurtling ever deeper into an all-out conflict with no end in sight, “and all we get is words,” said Yasser Abu Ali, a spokesman for one of the Free Syrian Army battalions in the town of al-Bab, which lies 30 miles northeast of Aleppo.

The rebels say they don’t want direct military intervention in the form of troops on the ground. But they have repeatedly appealed for a no-fly zone similar to the effort that helped Libyan rebels topple Moammar Gaddafi last year and for supplies of heavy weapons to counter the regime’s vastly superior firepower, say rebels and opposition figures.

When the regime falls, as the rebel battalion spokesman assumes it eventually will, Syrians will not forget that their pleas for help went unanswered, he said.

“America will pay a price for this,” he said. “America is going to lose the friendship of Syrians, and no one will trust them anymore. Already we don’t trust them at all.”

It is not entirely accurate that the United States is doing nothing to help the Syrian opposition, nor is it clear what more it usefully could or should be doing, analysts say. A debate is raging within the Obama administration over whether it is prudent to step up support for the rebels now that the effort to promote a diplomatic solution through the United Nations has failed.

President Obama has already authorized the provision of non­lethal aid to the opposition, including communications and satellite equipment. The State Department has been reaching out to Assad opponents inside Syria with a view to identifying potential allies and recipients of assistance.

Syrian opposition figures say they have received some financial help to buy arms from U.S. allies Saudi Arabia and Qatar. NATO member Turkey is also facilitating rebel movements across its 550-mile border with Syria, including, some Syrians say, the transfer of arms.

But the assistance has been small-scale, intermittent, and dwarfed by the demands of an expanding battlefield that now covers all corners of the country and has escalated to include the use of air power by the government. If some of the weaponry deployed against Assad’s forces has been provided with outside help, most rebel commanders seem unaware of its provenance.

“We get no help from anyone. We are relying only on ourselves,” said a Free Syrian Army commander in al-Bab who identified himself as Capt. Abdul Razzaq. His assertion is widely repeated by rebels from many parts of the country.

Indeed, the bulk of the rebels’ arsenal comes from supplies they have bought on the black market or, more often, from weapons captured from the government, said Joseph Holliday, who monitors Free Syrian Army activity at the Institute for the Study of War in Washington.

Syria has become the bloodiest uprising of the Arab Spring and has now descended into a full-blown civil war. Find out what’s behind the conflict and what’s at stake for the international community.

At the same time, the rebels have already gone a long way toward fulfilling another of their key demands: a haven free of government forces. An 11-year-old boy, Abdel Rahman Sabha, whose left leg was severed at the knee, was one of the last victims of the battle for control of al-Bab, whose fighters drove out government forces last week to join a string of “liberated” communities stretching south from the border with Turkey toward Aleppo.

“America and the West could have prevented this,’’ Omar Sabha, 21, said as his younger brother lay weakly under a bloodstained sheet, his face twisted with pain and incomprehension. Abdel Rahman had been struck the previous day by a missile apparently fired by a helicopter outside his home, and the loss was only now beginning to register. “They are able to help us, but they don’t want to,” the older brother said. “They don’t have the courage or the intention.”

The areas that have fallen under rebel control remain within reach of the government’s artillery and air force, however, and the Syrian opposition is still trying to persuade Turkey and its NATO allies to impose a no-fly zone that would enable rebels to safely congregate and organize there, said Louay Miqdad, a coordinator for the Free Syrian Army based in Istanbul.

But the clamor for international intervention that erupted after Gaddafi’s fall last year, when Syrian protesters carried banners appealing for NATO help, has abated, replaced by a grim sense of self-reliance.

“After everything we’ve been through, we don’t want any help from the West,” said Ahmed Dosh, 24, an Aleppo university student who is on a waiting list for a gun so he can join the Free Syrian Army. “We know only God can help us. We have great faith in God, and only God will end this.”

Dosh described himself as an Islamist, though not an extremist. But at a time when al-Qaeda-influenced jihadis are trying to establish a presence in Syria, there is a risk that a virulently anti-American form of Islamism could take hold among disillusioned Syrians, said Andrew Tabler of the Washington Institute of Near East Affairs, who believes that the United States should selectively arm rebel groups identified as supporting America’s interests.

If Washington continues on its current path, “ultimately the political entity that comes to power is not going to be in U.S. interests,” he said. “A secular and democratic Syria is what we’re going to lose big-time.”

For some Syrians, offers of help now would be too late. With the rebels holding ground in the commercial city of Aleppo and making inroads in Damascus, hope is growing that they may be able to finish what they started unaided, said Barry Abdul Latif, 30, an activist in al-Bab. “These days I thank God that nobody supports us, because nowI think it will be easier for us to build a new Syria on our own, without the agendas of others,” he said.

“We called for help and nobody came. It is better this way.”

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الجيش يعلن قتل 20 مسلحا في اول غارات جوية قرب حدود اسرائيل منذ معاهدة السلام مصر: حملة عسكرية في سيناء وصراع سلطة في الوادي مرسي اقال قيادات امنية بينها رئيس المخابرات لاحتواء الغضب الشعبي من ‘الاخوان’

لندن ـ ‘القدس العربي’ – من خالد الشامي في محاولة واضحة لاحتواء حالة من الحزن والغضب الشعبي العارمين اثر مقتل 16 جنديا في الهجوم على نقطة حدودية قرب رفح المصرية مساء الاحد الماضي، قرر الرئيس محمد مرسي تعيين اللواء محمد رأفت عبدالواحد شحاتة قائما بأعمال مدير المخابرات العامة وإحالة اللواء مراد موافي للمعاش، وكلف المجلس الأعلى للقوات المسلحة بتعيين رئيس آخر للشرطة العسكرية بدلا من اللواء حمدي بدين، كما قرر تعيين اللواء محمد أحمد زكي قائدا للحرس الجمهوري، وإقالة كل من محافظ شمال سيناء اللواء عبد الوهاب مبروك، ومدير أمن شمال سيناء اللواء صالح المصري. وأصدر مرسي قرارا جمهوريا بتعيين السفير محمد فتحي رفاعة الطهطاوي رئيسا لديوان رئيس الجمهورية. كما أصدر تعليمات إلى السيد اللواء احمد جمال الدين وزير الداخلية بإحداث تغييرات مطلوبة ولازمة لتفعيل الأداء الأمني في قطاع الأمن المركزي وأمن القاهرة حيث اصدر اللواء أحمد جمال الدين وزير الداخلية قراراً بتعيين السيد اللواء ماجد مصطفى كامل نوح مساعداً لوزير الداخلية لقطاع الأمن المركزي والسيد اللواء اسامة محمد الصغير مساعداً لوزير الداخلية لأمن القاهرة. وتعد هذه اكبر حركة تغييرات في المناصب العليا في الدولة منذ تولي مرسي مهام منصبه في 30 حزيران/يونيو الماضي.

Posted in ArabicComments Off on الجيش يعلن قتل 20 مسلحا في اول غارات جوية قرب حدود اسرائيل منذ معاهدة السلام مصر: حملة عسكرية في سيناء وصراع سلطة في الوادي مرسي اقال قيادات امنية بينها رئيس المخابرات لاحتواء الغضب الشعبي من ‘الاخوان’

ZIO-NAZI ATTACKS AGAINST PALESTINIAN CIVILIANS

NOVANEWS

Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) Continue Systematic Attacks against Palestinian Civilians and Property in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT)

     

  • In a new extra-judicial execution crime, the IOF killed a Palestinian activist and wounded another.

 

  • IOF used force to disperse peaceful protest organized by Palestinian civilians in the West Bank.

–        2 Palestinian civilians, including a journalist, were wounded in the Kafr Qaddoum demonstration, northeast of Jenin.

 

  • IOF conducted 36 incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank.  

–        IOF arrested 17 Palestinians, including 4 children.

 

  • Israel has continued to impose a total closure on the OPT, and has isolated the Gaza Strip from the outside world.

–        IOF established dozens of checkpoints in the West Bank and hindered the movement of Palestinian civilians.

–        IOF arrested two children at a checkpoint in the old town of Hebron. 

 

  • IOF have continued to target civilian objects.

–       IOF fired artillery shells at the vicinity of Gaza International Airport, but no casualties were reported.

 

  • IOF have continued settlement activities in the West Bank and Israeli settlers have continued to attack Palestinian civilians and property.

–        Israeli settlers blew up a Palestinian vehicle in the Senjel village, north of Ramallah.

Summary

Israeli violations of international law and humanitarian law in the OPT continued during the reporting period (02 – 08 August 2012):

 

Shooting:

During the reporting period, a Palestinian activist was killed and another was wounded when an IOF aircraft targeted them in the south of the Gaza Strip.  The IOF also wounded many Palestinian civilians and Israeli and international human rights defenders in peaceful demonstrations in protest of the annexation wall and settlement activities in the West Bank.

On 05 August 2012, the IOF positioned at the border with Israel near Karm Abu Salem crossing in the south of Rafa fired shells at the vicinity of Gaza International Airport and the eastern outskirts of Rafah. Helicopters flying in the sky of the area also opened fire for approximately two hours. The local population panicked, but no casualties were reported.

During the reporting period, the IOF used force to disperse peaceful demonstrations organized in protest of the construction of the annexation wall and settlement activities in the West Bank.  As a result, 2 Palestinian civilians were wounded, including a journalist, Ashraf Abu Shawish (42), who sustained wounds from a tear gas canister to his right leg.  The other civilian sustained wounds from a tear gas canister to his right hand.  Dozens of demonstrators also suffered from tear gas inhalation.

 

The full report is available online at:

http://www.pchrgaza.org/portal/en/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=8704:weekly-report-on-israeli-human-rights-violations-in-the-occupied-palestinian-territory-02–08-aug-2012&catid=84:weekly-2009&Itemid=183

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GOOGLE: TAX DODGE AND TRICKS

NOVANEWS

 

Dear All,

It’s just been revealed that Google has paid only £6 million in UK tax on profits of nearly £395 million. [1] Google seems to have managed to pull off this huge tax dodge by using tricks like sheltering its profits in tax havens, such as Bermuda. [2]

Google has long prided itself on its reputation as a responsible corporate citizen. [3] But there’s nothing responsible about dodging tax at a time when the country is facing deep cuts.

Google’s boss has said in the past: “We could pay more tax but we would have to do so voluntarily”. [4] Google will only make this choice if they feel enough pressure from us – their users and customers – and understand the risk to their reputation from continuing to dodge tax. Showing them how we feel with huge petition is the first step.

Can you sign the petition demanding that Google pay their fair share of tax?
https://secure.38degrees.org.uk/google-tax

In the run-up to the Olympics, 38 Degrees members forced high profile sponsors like McDonald’s, Coke and VISA to commit to paying their fair share of tax on their Olympic profits. Our campaign worked because these huge companies were worried about bad PR. The same will be true of Google.

Once the petition’s grown to thousands of signatures we’ll organise a high profile petition delivery to their new UK headquarters. We’ll follow that up with the same kind of tactics on Facebook that were so effective in the Olympic tax-dodging campaign. If the petition is big enough, and attracts enough media attention, it could be the first step in forcing Google to reconsider its position on tax-dodging.

Can you tell Google it’s time to pay their fair share? Sign the petition here:
https://secure.38degrees.org.uk/google-tax

Thanks for being involved

Robin, Belinda, David T and the 38 Degrees team

NOTES

[1] The Telegraph: Google pays just £6m UK tax on profits of £395 m http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/google/9460950/Google-pays-just-6m-UK-tax-on-profits-of-395m.html

[2] Richard Murphy, Tax Research UK blog: Google’s Tax http://www.taxresearch.org.uk/Blog/2009/04/19/googles-tax

[3] Wikipedia: Don’t be evil http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Don’t_be_evil

[4] The Telegraph: Google pays just £6m UK tax on profits of £395m http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/google/9460950/Google-pays-just-6m-UK-tax-on-profits-of-395m.html

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Mexican people reject electoral fraud

Proletarian
The candidate of the left has been cheated of victory for a second time. As the masses take to the streets, US imperialism is wary.

The month of July saw hundreds of thousands of people take to the streets of Mexico City to protest the electoral fraud that has, for the second time, deprived the left-wing candidate, Andrés Manuel López Obrador (popularly known as Amlo) of victory in the presidential election.Following the 1 July election, Enrique Peña Nieto of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) was declared the winner with 38.2 percent of the vote. Amlo, who was the candidate of his Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD), Mexico’s largest left-wing party, along with a broad coalition of party and non-party progressive forces including the Party of Labour (PT), a Marxist-Leninist party, was said to have polled 31.6 percent. Trailing badly in third place, with 25.4 percent, was the National Action Party (PAN), the most right-wing and pro-American force in mainstream Mexican politics, which had held power for the last 12 years, following its 2000 ousting of the PRI from 71 years in unbroken office.

In the 2006 election, widespread ballot fraud led to a declaration of a wafer-thin victory of just 0.58 percent for the PAN over Amlo. But as Mark Weisbrot noted in a 9 July Guardian article, there were massive irregularities:

The most prominent, which was largely ignored in the international press, was the ‘adding-up’ problem at the majority of polling places. According to Mexico’s electoral procedures, each polling station gets a fixed number of blank ballots. After the vote, the number of remaining blank ballots plus the number of ballots cast are supposed to add up to the original blank ballots. For nearly half of polling places, this did not happen. 

But it got worse than that: because of public pressure, the Mexican electoral authorities did two partial recounts of the vote. The second one was done for a huge sample: they recounted 9 percent of the ballots. But without offering any explanation, the electoral authorities refused to release the results of the recount to the public. 

From 9-13 August 2006, the Mexican electoral authorities posted thousands of pages of results on the web, which included the recounted ballot totals. It was then possible, with hundreds of hours of work, to piece together what happened in the recount and compare it to the previous results. At the Centre for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR), we did this for a large random sample (14.4 percent) of the recounted ballots. Among these ballots, Calderón’s [the ‘victorious’ PAN candidate] margin of victory disappeared. 

This may explain why the electoral authorities never told the public what the recount showed, and why the authorities refused to do a full recount – which would have been appropriate for such a close election with so many irregularities. A full recount could easily have reversed the result, or found the election to be completely indeterminate.” (‘Irregularities reveal Mexico’s election far from fair’)

This time around, besides the same types of ballot-box fraud, vote buying played a major role. For example, the PRI distributed massive numbers of voucher cards to poor voters, redeemable for goods at the Soriana chain of grocery and department stores.

Another part of the PRI strategy was the buying of votes in the poorest regions of the country through the intervention of PRI state governors, who promised cash, redeemable cards, construction materials, fertiliser and so on in exchange for votes.

Outrageous media bias also played a key role. Just two companies, Televisa and Azteca, both of which are hostile to the PRD and the left, control 95 percent of broadcast TV.

In all, at a 12 July press conference, called to present the evidence on which he is basing his demand for the election results to be annulled, Amlo stated that five million votes had been bought by the PRI.

Even the Washington Post reported:

 ‘It was neither a clean nor fair election,’ said Eduardo Huchim of the Civic Alliance, a Mexican watchdog group funded by the United Nations Development Programme. 

 ‘This was bribery on a vast scale,’ said Huchim, a former [Federal Electoral Institute] official. ‘It was perhaps the biggest operation of vote buying and coercion in the country’s history.’ ” (Quoted in Weisbrot,ibid)

With the presidential inauguration not scheduled until December, new and wider social forces, with working people to the fore, are increasingly joining the struggle, potentially pushing it in a more radical direction.

For example, the militant Mexican electricians’ union, SME, was a key mover in the 14-15 July National Convention Against the Imposition, which met under the slogan “To surrender is forbidden”. Some 800 delegates attended from 250 organisations, mostly representing workers, peasants and students, from 25 of Mexico’s states.

While the struggle is currently being played out between the PRI, largely representing vested interests, on the one hand and the left-wing and the popular masses on the other, as noted, the biggest loser was the right-wing PAN.

The PAN broke more than seven decades of PRI one-party rule in 2000, with the election of its candidate Vicente Fox, the former chief executive of Coca-Cola in Mexico, as president. Having been signed four years previously, the Nafta free-trade accord between the United States, Canada and Mexico had come into force on 1 January that year.

PAN’s rise to power was a major victory for the US strategy of pushing neo-liberalism and privatisation, including of education. Moreover, under Fox’s successor, PAN’s now outgoing president Felipe Calderón, more than 60,000 people lost their lives in a vicious ‘war against drugs’, whose primary target has in fact been the poor.

With eager enforcers in PAN, Nafta’s main impact on Mexico has been to turn the country into a market for US government-subsidised corn, leading to the ruination of a great mass of peasants, who had previously worked communal land for generations. With a growing income gap worsening social conditions, millions of Mexicans have found themselves forced north to work in the United States, often ‘illegally’, where they are the victims of superexploitation, racism and brutality at the hands of the police – and even far-right militia.

Mexico, therefore, has been far from fulfilling its economic potential and has failed to match the impressive rates of growth that have characterised many emerging economies in recent years. Specifically, by pursuing neo-liberalism at home and alignment with the USA abroad, whether through its submission to Nafta or through its meek compliance with the imperial demand for a ‘war on drugs’, Mexico has failed to see either the economic growth or the reduction in poverty that countries such as Venezuela, Brazil and Argentina have experienced, to varying degrees, owing to their adoption of policies favourable to working people and the national interest, the promotion of regional integration and solidarity, and the development of close relations with China.

Whilst these countries have profited from China’s rapid development, on a basis of equality and mutual benefit, Mexico, through its subordination to the USA, has been largely left on the sidelines, bleating that its notorious, Nafta-inspired maquiladora sweat shops, which supply clothing to the US market, are unable to compete with more efficient and productive Chinese light industry.

Having held uninterrupted power for over seven decades, the PRI obviously has an important place in Mexican life. In its early years it was associated with anti-feudal land reform, which was in turn, of necessity, associated with militant anti-clericalism, as the feudals and the clergy were closely aligned. This turbulent period of history was vividly brought to life in Graham Greene’s famous novel, The Power and the Glory.

Also, in the 1930s, the PRI nationalised the country’s oil industry out of the hands of US and European monopolies, creating Pemex as a national state-owned oil company, and a constitutional prohibition was enacted against privatisation of or foreign investment in the oil industry.

Mexico was the only country, besides the Soviet Union, to support the Spanish republic in its fight against fascism, and for decades remained the only country in the world to maintain recognition of the Spanish republican government-in-exile, refusing any relations with the Franco regime.

After the victory of the Cuban revolution, when reaction prevailed throughout the whole of Latin America, Mexico was the only country south of the Rio Grande not to sever relations with Cuba, but to maintain a cordial relationship with Fidel Castro.

But over decades in power, whatever progressive ethos the PRI may once have had was progressively lost. Indeed, many of the left-wing figures in the party, including the son of Lázaro Cárdenas, the 1930s president best remembered for the nationalisation of the oil industry, were among the 1989 founders of the PRD.

Whilst becoming bureaucratic and repressive, the PRI has maintained a powerful section of the Mexican trade-union movement under its control, but these unions have largely become machines to police the workers in the service of the Mexican bourgeoisie.

Particularly low points in the PRI’s history were the suppression of student-led protestors at the time of the 1968 Mexico City Olympic Games, in which hundreds, if not thousands, died, and the bloody suppression of the Zapatista-led peasant uprising in the poor state of Chiapas, which erupted on 1 January 2004, coinciding with the coming into force of Nafta.

All this helped pave the way for the 2004 victory of the openly right-wing PAN, but the PRI remained entrenched in many states, where it continued to enforce its corrupt rule with an iron hand. One of the worst offenders was Nieto, the PRI’s ‘victor’ this time.

For example, on 3-4 May 2006, in his role as state governor, he sent more than 3,000 police and state security forces to suppress the people of San Salvador Atenco, who had gathered to defend the right of small vendors to sell flowers in front of the municipal market. The brute force they unleashed resulted in the deaths of two young men, the rape of 26 women, and the documented torture of 206 people.

Nieto has sought to send signals to Washington that he will continue to collaborate with the ‘war on drugs’ that has brought so much calamity to his nation. Prior to the election, he appointed General Óscar Naranjo, who, until recently, had headed Colombia’s national police, to be his security adviser. (Mexico’s constitution prevents foreigners from holding ministerial office.) Naranjo was coyly described by theFinancial Times as “someone who was deeply involved in the US-sponsored Plan Colombia during the 1990s, and who has been close to Washington for decades”. (‘Mexico’s frontrunner Peña Nieto enlists Colombian anti-drugs fighter Óscar Naranjo’ by Adam Thomson, 14 June 2012)

Accompanied by massive military suppression and despoliation of the environment, Plan Colombia was central to the US establishing a permanent military presence in the country and to its becoming a counter-revolutionary gendarme against the progressive governments of Venezuela, Ecuador and other countries in the region.

Yet, despite this unmistakable signal of subservience to Washington, there are also signs that the US is not completely sanguine with regard to the end of PAN rule in its southern neighbour and the return of the PRI. Writing in the Guardian on 2 July, Rory Carroll noted:

Enrique Peña Nieto’s victory in Mexico’s presidential election amid a raging drug war opens a new and uncertain chapter in relations with the US. Some in Washington fear the return of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), which ruled Mexico until 2000, will turn the clock back to an era of cosy deals with drug cartels and fraught relations with the gringos. 

The new president, as is customary, will clean house, meaning replacing security officials from the outgoing administration of Felipe Calderón of the National Action Party (PAN) which had developed unusually close ties with US in terms of sharing intelligence and military cooperation. Peña Nieto is also expected to change Mexico’s focus from combating drug trafficking to curbing violent crime, kidnapping, extortion and robbery, issues which matter more to Mexicans than the flow of cocaine, cannabis and other drugs north through a 2,000-mile border. 

According to Carroll, there was worry among US lawmakers that “after six years of mayhem”, in which tens of thousands were killed, “Mexicans have turned to a party which bought relative peace in previous decades by letting the cartels get on with business. After all, say many Mexicans, why should they pay the price for a US drug habit? ” (‘US concerned Mexico’s new president may go easy on drug cartels’)

The coming period will, therefore, be one where solidarity is needed with the working class and people of Mexico – against electoral fraud and imperialist interference; and for people’s democracy, independence and sovereignty.

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Iran: undeclared war on all fronts

Proletarian
Imperialism is presently pursuing a dual strategy of intimidation and interference against the Islamic Republic of Iran, but despite the imposition of further sanctions, the heightened threats of war and the foiling of yet more assassination attempts, it seems that no amount of open or underhand meddling is going to shift the country from its fiercely-held independence.
While the US economy is bogged down in crisis, it’s the emerging global powers that presently drive world demand for oil; and Iran has a very substantial buyer in China. With US and EU sanctions levied on Iran, it’s been Asia that has been the ready recipient of Iran’s crude, buying up two thirds of total production in 2011.

Sanctions

Despite the sanctions placed upon Iran last year, the US has been unable to cut the country off completely, even being forced to ‘grant’ a waiver to China and Japan (and 18 other countries!), who all continue to buy Iranian oil regardless of US actions.

In an effort to extend the sanctions and close off avenues whereby Tehran is able to sell its oil through private companies, thus circumnavigating sanctions on the state bank, US imperialism has recently identified a number of private firms and individuals, as well as 115 ships, for embargo. These ships are believed to have been renamed to avoid earlier sanctions. According to the Financial Times:

Under the new sanctions, the Treasury named dozens of companies it said had been acting on behalf of the Iranian government to help it circumvent existing sanctions.

It cited the National Iranian Tanker Co, a former subsidiary of the National Iranian Oil Co and the main vehicle for transporting Iranian crude oil exports, and its fleet and other front companies.

It also named four companies it says are working as fronts for the National Iranian Oil Co and the Naftiran Intertrade Co, both already under US sanctions: Petro Suisse Intertrade Co, Hong Kong Intertrade Co, Noor Energy of Malaysia and Petro Energy Intertrade Co.

The sanctions will freeze any assets the people or companies hold in the US, and ban Americans from doing business with them.” (‘US announces fresh Iran oil sanctions’ by Anna Fifield and Javier Blas, 12 July 2012)

As with all of imperialism’s sanction regimes, in contrast to the lie peddled by the media about ‘targeted sanctions’, the truth is that sanctions are designed to utterly disrupt and sabotage the entire economic lifeof Iran, causing social strife and upheaval.

Even the reactionary, square-headed Iranian ‘journalist’ Saeed Kamali Dehghan, after a long-winded session of distortion and hostility in the Guardian, was forced to admit that “Sanctions are the war, albeit economic and psychological, that the West is waging against the people of Iran and not its rulers. There’s nothing in sanctions that the west should be proud of. It’s time the west thought twice about bringing Iranian people to their knees and destroying their lives.” (‘Sanctions on Iran punish its people, not its leaders’, 11 July 2012)

As one writer on the website of the Tehran Times explained: “the sanctions have targeted all the Iranians. They have hit hard Iran’s medical sector. I’ve personally encountered patients who need medicine from European and north-American countries, but as a result of the sanctions, they are denied them. Aren’t such sanctions contrary to the principles of human rights?” (‘How Iran sanctions are fuelling hatred of the US’ by Kourosh Ziabari, 14 July 2012)

The answer, of course, is that imperialism cares not one jot for human rights. It cared not when it napalmed Vietnamese villages; it cared not when it detonated its nuclear bombs in Japan, wiping out a quarter of a million people in seconds. It sheds no tears when it massacres, maims, rapes and tortures the people of the developing world. Names such as Nanjing, Guantanamo, Sirte, Fallujah, Gaza and Abu Ghraib are scars on the collective psyche of the toiling masses of the world that cannot be erased. They are the scars of struggle, and witness to the nightmarish horror that imperialism is prepared to unleash when the subjugated people refuse to kneel at the feet of tyranny.

The only right that is upheld by imperialism is the right of the strong to beat the weak, the right of one man to exploit another. In the words of JV Stalin:

Such is the law of the exploiters – to beat the backward and the weak. It is the jungle law of capitalism. You are backward, you are weak – therefore you are wrong; hence, you can be beaten and enslaved. You are mighty – therefore you are right; hence, we must be wary of you.” (‘The tasks of business executives’, speech to leading personnel of socialist industry, 4 February 1931)

Ratcheting up the sanctions

Faced with the ingenuity of the oppressed peoples and the insatiable desire of the developing world to press ahead and forge out a future free of imperialist interference, Iran has been able to rely on trade with a host of countries, both enemies of US imperialism and even some of its ‘friends’. The New York Timesreported:

The Obama administration, seeking to plug loopholes in its sanctions against Iran, said last night that it would impose additional measures against more than a dozen companies and people involved in that country’s nuclear and ballistic missile programmes.

The administration also identified a web of front companies that it says the Iranian government uses to try to evade US and European restrictions on its oil exports.

The measures, announced by the US treasury department, are intended to tighten the vice on Iran, which has continued to defy the West over its nuclear programme despite evidence that the sanctions are damaging its oil industry and economy.

‘Today’s actions are the next step on that path, taking direct aim at disrupting Iran’s nuclear and ballistic missile programmes, as well as its deceptive efforts to use front companies to sell and move its oil,’ David S Cohen, the undersecretary of the treasury for terrorism and financial intelligence, said in a statement.

But the new sanctions also underscore the challenge the US faces in isolating Iran, which has busily spun off hundreds of front companies, and renamed or reflagged dozens of ships, to get around existing sanctions.

‘This is really a game of whack-a-mole,’ said Mark Dubowitz, the executive director of the foundation for defence of democracies and an expert on Iranian sanctions.” (‘US imposes new rules to tighten vice on Iran’ by Mark Landler, 12 July 2012)

Whilst the US treasury attempts to ‘whack the mole’, the Iranians are pressing on with the job of strengthening their defences and building up their self-reliance. Iran’s first vice president Mohammad-Reza Rahimi summed up the actual result of such punitive measures on the day the European sanctions came into effect: “enemies do not have a factual understanding of the Iranian nation and continue to perceive that by imposing sanctions they can disrupt the progress of this nation … The sanctions not only fail to impede the progress of the Iranian nation, but they also lay the ground for self-sufficiency and development.”

It is clear that there is only one country that stands to lose out long term by such belligerent action, and that is the USA itself. According to the latest data from Opec, the United States, a country of a little over 300 million inhabitants consumes 19,194 barrels of oil a day – whilst the emerging economies of China, Brazil, India and Russia consume a fraction of that amount (China 9,410 bpd, Brazil 2,780 bpd, India 3,433 bpd, Russia 3269 bpd). (See Annual Statistical Bulletin, 2012, opec.org)

It is clear that by sanctioning Iranian oil the US is only hurting its own interests. To paraphrase Chairman Mao: imperialism picks up a rock only to drop it on its own feet! (Speech to the Supreme Soviet of the USSR, 6 November 1957)

Straits of Hormuz

In a clear signal that Iran will not bow down to imperialist bullying, Ali Fadavi, the naval commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corp (IRGC), promised a strong rebuttal from his forces should either the US or Israel push their snouts too far into Iran’s back garden.

“Iran fully controls the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz … If they take any hostile action against Iran, they will have to pay greatly for it … We determine the rules of military conflict in the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz.”

Commander Fadavi has the backing of senior politicians and the army. The chairman of Iran’s joint chiefs of staff, Major General Hassan Firuzabadi, has declared that “We do have the plan to close the Strait of Hormuz, since a member of the military must plan for all scenarios”! (Quoted in ‘Iran in full control of Hormuz Strait’, xinhuanet.com, 14 July 2012)

With the country ready and capable of blocking off one of the world’s most important shipping lanes, imperialism needs to think very carefully before attempting to conduct further open aggression against Iran. Standard practice is for imperialism to conduct espionage, industrial terrorism, kidnapping and assassination in tandem with a hyped-up media and economic attack – and this is precisely the course of events unfolding with regards to Iran.

MI6 and Mossad: black ops in Iran

In recent months and years, many Iranian scientists have been kidnapped, shot or bombed by CIA, Mossad and MI6 operatives. These dirty, underhand operations are nothing short of a covert war already being waged by imperialism – one which the British and American governments constantly deny any role in.

Quite startling in July, therefore, was an admission by MI6 poster-boy Sir John Sawers. In a well-orchestrated speech (press release/threat; timed to coincide with increased US sanctions), Sir John claimed to an audience of senior civil servants that MI6 had prevented Iran from developing a nuclear weapon in 2008.

The Telegraph reported his claims as follows: “Sir John said that without MI6’s work dealing with the threat, ‘you’d have Iran as a nuclear-weapons state in 2008 rather than still being two years away in 2012.’

Sir John said it was up to MI6 to ‘delay that awful moment when the politicians may have to take a decision between accepting a nuclear-armed Iran or launching a military strike against Iran’.

When that moment came, he said: ‘I think it will be very tough for any prime minister of Israel or president of the United States to accept a nuclear-armed Iran.’” (‘MI6 chief Sir John Sawers: “We foiled Iranian nuclear weapons bid”’ by Christopher Hope, 12 July 2012)

Sir John’s was not the only revelatory account to emerge about the extent of espionage and assassination in Iran. The book Spies against Armageddon: Inside Israel’s Secret Wars by Yossi Melman and Dan Raviv (leading Israeli military and intelligence journalists) was released to a furore over its claims that Mossad has operated a secret branch of assassins called the Kidon inside Iran since the time of the shah, and that this group is responsible for the recent murder of Iranian scientists.

But the covert war waged by imperialism against Iran may not be one which they are winning. In recent years the Iranians have regularly intercepted British and American spies, and on 15 July Xinhua reported that Iranian intelligence minister Heidar Moslehi had announced that Iran had frustrated a number of further assassination attempts on Iranian scientists:

One of the plans that the recently apprehended groups were supposed to carry out was assassination of certain Iranian individuals who have made achievements in different areas of science … The Intelligence chief said Iranian scientists have made great progress in various areas of science and technology, but they cannot be introduced to the public in order to ensure their safety.” (‘Iran thwarts assassination plots to kill scientists’)

In the February issue of Proletarian we reported on the barbaric murder of Mostafa Roshan, a 32-year-old nuclear scientist with a wife and young baby son. Roshan was a university professor and commercial director at the uranium enrichment facility in Natanz. We wrote:

Like many of the Iranian scientists who work there he was dedicated to helping to solve Iran’s energy needs, and for this he was blown to pieces by imperialist agents using a magnetic bomb, which they attached to his car door as they passed him on a motorcycle.” (‘No cooperation with war against Iran’)

We also quoted Mehdi Hasan, who drew attention to the unholy glee of imperialism’s spokespeople on receiving news of this murder:

‘On occasion, scientists working on the nuclear programme in Iran turn up dead,’ bragged the Republican nomination candidate Rick Santorum in October. ‘I think that’s a wonderful thing, candidly.’ On the day of Roshan’s death, Israel’s military spokesman, Brigadier General Yoav Mordechai, announced onFacebook: ‘I don’t know who settled the score with the Iranian scientist, but I certainly am not shedding a tear’ – a sentiment echoed by the historian Michael Burleigh in the Daily Telegraph: ‘I shall not shed any tears whenever one of these scientists encounters the unforgiving men on motorbikes.’” (‘Iran’s nuclear scientists are not being assassinated. They are being murdered’, guardian.co.uk, 16 January 2012)

Santorum and Burleigh may have felt a little less smug when they heard the news that Iran has now rounded up and captured all those known to have been used by imperialism in the murder of the Iranian scientists.

In a press release reported by the Fars news agency, the Iranian intelligence ministry announced that “All the elements involved in the assassinations of the country’s nuclear scientists have been identified and arrested.

A number of countries, whose territories and facilities had been misused by the Mossad-backed terrorist teams, have provided the Iranian officials with relevant information, the statement added.

Over the course of the investigations, all other elements behind the assassinations of the Iranian scientists Massoud Ali-Mohammadi, Majid Shahriari and Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan as well as Reza Qashqaei (Roshan’s driver) have been apprehended, the statement read.

Some of the perpetrators of the assassination of Dr Fereidoun Abbasi, the current head of Iran’s atomic energy organisation, are among those arrested, the ministry added.

According to the statement, Iran’s intelligence ministry has detected some of Mossad’s bases within the territories of one of Iran’s western neighbours, which provided training and logistic support to the terrorist networks.

Earlier last month, Iranian intelligence minister Heidar Moslehi had announced that the country’s security forces had arrested at least 20 terrorists behind the assassination of Iran’s nuclear scientists.

Moslehi stated that the arrests were made following the identification of two terrorist groups and through multiple sting operations across the country.

Western spy agencies, collaborated by the terrorist Mojahedin-e Khalq Organisation (MKO), have assassinated several Iranian scientists in the last three years.” (‘Iran arrests terrorists behind assassination of Yong nuclear scientist’, farsnews.com, 22 July 2012)

Hands off Iran!

The increased meddling in Iranian affairs, both covert and open, bodes ill for our future. An escalation of the media war here in Britain must be matched by a qualitative change in the attitude of anti-war activists and the working class if we are to avert another carnival of slaughter, this time in Iran.

Despite the repeated wittering of Stop the War, who claim to “stand with the people of Iran”, and assert that they do “not want any more foreign intervention”, those who have been active in the anti-war movement know that it will not take more than one slap-dash sensationalised story concocted in Thames House or GCHQ and carefully filtered out via TwitterFacebook and the BBC to send these craven, spineless twits into hysterics and fits of moral superiority, whereby they, too, end up objectively paving the way once again for open warfare. Whether it’s the ‘discovery’ of some internal massacre, the sentencing of a blind homeless puppy to death by stoning or the unearthing of an atomic weapons facility by Israeli spy drones, the imperialists are past masters at trumping up some excuse or other with which to launch their predatory wars of aggression.

British workers and all progressive-minded people must get to grips with the truth. And that truth is thatimperialism strives for domination, not democracy. We must not be taken in by the sensationalised propaganda that emanates from well-paid lackies in the service of finance capital. We must base our resistance to imperialist war upon a solid foundation.

Workers have the power to stop war. If we withdraw our labour, refuse to cooperate with the transport of weapons and supplies, organise civil disobedience and refuse to be a part of this killing we can, and will, strike a real blow against imperialism.

It is in our interests as working-class people to see to it that Iran, Syria, China and all countries that are confronted by aggressive imperialist manoeuvres receive our full support. Let’s work to take a proletarian understanding out into the anti-war movement, spread the spirit of non-cooperation amongst fellow workers in the trade-union movement, rally our own forces in readiness to set the example for others to follow and pave the way for the final overthrow of imperialism and the victory of the socialist revolution!

No cooperation with imperialist war against Iran!

Posted in IranComments Off on Iran: undeclared war on all fronts

Constitutional coup topples progressive president in Paraguay

Proletarian
Paraguay’s revolutionaries and people will draw lessons from the Lugo presidency as they continue the fight for independence and freedom.
The recent ousting of Paraguayan president Fernando Lugo has received perhaps more critical attention in the West than have many other similar such moves aimed at undermining and overthrowing progressive leaders in the oppressed nations. Perhaps it was the brazen and hasty nature of Lugo’s impeachment, and the obvious signs of foreign involvement, which obliged the otherwise compliant western media, as well as a number of left-wing organisations, to give it a degree of attention.

Fernando Lugo is a “former roman-catholic bishop of an impoverished rural diocese” who was elected to the presidency of Paraguay as part of the Patriotic Alliance for Change (APC). Ideologically, he has expressed a commitment to ‘liberation theology’ – a left-wing catholic doctrine which is considered heretical by the Vatican owing to its socialist sympathies – and has “described his political views as somewhere between those of Presidents Chávez (Venezuela) and Morales (Bolivia) and the more moderate stances of Presidents Lula (Brazil) and Bachelet (Chile)”.

His election in 2008 was considered a further victory for the emerging left in Latin America and was seen by many commentators as a result of “Washington’s intense focus on the Middle East” and thus “diminished influence in Latin America”. (‘Paraguay moves a bit to the left’, Los Angeles Times, 22 April 2008)

However, once in power, Lugo was not able to bring about many of the reforms that he desired, owing to both the deformed nature of Paraguay’s economic and political structures – the result of decades of underdevelopment at the hands of western monopoly capital – as well as the fact that, whilst popular among the masses, he lacked a parliamentary majority, powerful party backing – or even a supportive vice president!

Paraguay’s state and economy

Moreover, any elected leader of Paraguay, who must abide by existing constitutional frameworks, faces innumerable historical challenges and constraints.

The history of Paraguayan development up to the current era is best characterised as one of imperialist dependency and under- (or mal-) development. A useful outline of the theory of ‘dependency’ (a term current among academics who are loath, or find it inopportune, to speak of ‘imperialism’ when this is what they really mean), comes from the historian Walter LaFeber, in his book on US foreign policy and its impact on central American nations:

Dependency may be generally defined as a way of looking at Latin American development, not in isolation, but as part of an international system in which the leading powers (and, since 1945, the United States in particular), have used their economic strength to make Latin American development dependent on – and subordinate to – the interests of those leading powers. 

This dependence … has stunted the Latins’ economic growth by forcing their economies to rely on one or two export crops, or on minerals, that are shipped off to the industrial nations. These few export crops … make a healthy domestic economy impossible … because their price depends on an international marketplace which the industrial powers, not Latin America, can control. Such export crops also blot up land that should be used to grow foodstuffs for local diets. Thus malnutrition, even starvation, grow with the profits of the relatively few producers of the export crops.

Dependency also skews [Latin-] American politics. The key export crops are controlled by foreign investors or local elites who depend on foreigners for capital, markets, and often for personal protection. In the words of a Chilean scholar, these foreign influences become a ‘kind of fifth column’ that distorts economic and political development without taking direct political control of the country. 

Thus dependency theory denies outright a cherished belief of many north Americans: that if they are allowed to invest and trade freely, the result will be a more prosperous and stable [Latin] America. To the contrary … such investment and trade has been pivotal in misshaping those nations’ history until revolution appears to be the only instrument that can break the hammerlock held by local oligarchy and foreign capital.” (Walter LaFeber, Inevitable Revolutions: The United States in Central America, 1993)

The particular history of Paraguay during the 20th century confirms this general picture. From the Chaco war of the 1930s, to the CIA-backed Stroessner dictatorship that ruled from 1954-89, we see countless examples of how foreign and domestic exploiting classes sought a path of development for Paraguay that was completely at odds with the most basic needs of its people.

The result of this path of development is tragically predictable. The modern Paraguayan economy “remains heavily dependent upon its traditional agricultural exports … [while the] industrial sector is still largely underdeveloped, with much of the population still employed in subsistence agriculture … [As a result] growth tends to be limited by Paraguay’s imports of manufactured goods, as well capital goods that are necessary to supply the industrial and investment requirements of the economy.”

The ‘traditional agricultural exports’ mentioned above – principally soybeans, animal feed and cotton – are almost entirely controlled by elite forces. In most regions of Paraguay over 80 percent of the land is controlled by as little as 2 percent of the population – primarily foreign multinationals, such as Cargill, and wealthy private landowners both domestic and foreign, such as the so-called ‘Braziguayos’ (Brazilian nationals) – with the result that most Paraguayan agricultural labourers are forced into a kind of neo-feudalism.

This inequitable distribution of land is one of the most pernicious legacies of the Stroessner dictatorship, which oversaw the transfer of a good deal of public land into private hands.

Paraguay’s agrarian, import-dependent development model has a number of important political consequences. Most notably, “Paraguay is heavily influenced by the economic conditions of its larger neighbours, Argentina and Brazil” and a “significant part of the country’s commercial sector consists of importing goods from the United States and Asia for re-export into neighbouring countries” which necessitates that “Paraguay and the United States have good relations”.

The relationship between Paraguay and the United States during the Lugo presidency is best characterised as ‘close but fraught’. For a president elected on a moderate, reforming mandate without a clear parliamentary majority, there could be no question of a clean break with foreign dependency.

When Lugo was elected in 2008, the United States was providing “an estimated $11.6m” in aid “to support child survival and health … development assistance … international military education and training … international narcotics control and law enforcement assistance … [and] the continuation of a Peace Corps programme in the country”. (‘Paraguay: background and US relations’, United States Congressional Research Service, 2 February 2009)

The course of Paraguayan development under Lugo was further constrained by Paraguay’s existing commitment to the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) – an independent, bilateral United States foreign aid agency that was established under the Bush presidency to promote “development with accountability”.

The reality of ‘development with accountability’ is a “competitive selection process” in which prospective compact members are expected to submit to the mandate of the MCC in areas as vital to effective national sovereignty as trade policy; fiscal policy; inflation rates; land rights and access; political rights and civil liberties – with some areas of concern having deliberately vague descriptors (eg, “voice and accountability”). Paraguay is currently a ‘threshold member’ of the MCC compact and is the target of a $30.3m ‘stage II’ threshold programme that will allegedly “focus on anti-corruption efforts in law enforcement, customs, and the healthcare and judicial sectors”. (‘Paraguay threshold programme’,mcc.gov)

On a domestic level, Lugo’s ability to effect meaningful change was constrained by the congressional balance of power, which continued to favour traditional, right-wing parties, and by the above-discussed economic balance of power, which favoured domestic elites and foreign corporations.

When elected in 2008, Lugo was obliged to enter into a coalition with the conservative PLRA (led by the former vice-president Federico Franco, now installed as president in place of Lugo), which gave his first years in office a distinctly ‘moderate’ character. Despite an election campaign which “emphasised empowering the poor, agrarian reform, health reform, and putting an end to endemic corruption”, Lugo was frustrated in many of these areas by the realities of the existing domestic and international political balance.

As Pepe Escobar has pointed out, “Lugo was in fact facing a Sisyphean task – trying to steer a weak state, with minimum income from taxes (less than 12 percent of GNP), and under severe pressure by powerful transnational lobbies and comprador elites.” (‘Welcome to “democraship”’, Asia Times Online, 4 July 2012)

Lugo’s downfall

Despite many early concessions, efforts to remove Lugo began as early as 2009, when the US embassy in Asuncion reported that opponents of the Lugo presidency were “now working together to assume power via (mostly) legal means should President Lugo stumble in coming months” and noted “increased reports of a possible ‘constitutional’ plot against Lugo”. At the time, however, there was no real international backing for any coup attempt, leaving it effectively a non-starter; the US embassy cables reported that “For all his foibles, President Lugo remains Paraguay’s least-worst option.” (wikileaks.org)

This did not dissuade certain die-hard opponents of the new president from conspiring against him, however, as Lugo himself revealed in 2008 when he “publicly exposed a conspiracy plotted by former President Nicanor León Duarte and General (r) Lino Oviedo”.

This grudging designation of Lugo as imperialism’s ‘least-worst option’ gradually began to shift, however, as Lugo demonstrated an unwillingness to submit to the more overt political mandates from Washington and elsewhere. Lugo began strengthening ties with more independent nations such as Brazil, Argentina and Venezuela – harking back to the initial fears raised by his commitment to ‘liberation theology’ – and expressed a desire to reduce US involvement in Paraguayan affairs.

Antagonism with the US came to a head when Lugo refused to accept the deployment of 500 US troops in Paraguay under the ‘New Horizons Programme’, a prospective deployment which was seen by many commentators as part of a process to establish a permanent US military base in the country and thus complicate any further moves towards national self-determination.

On the economic front, Lugo fell foul of western corporate forces – particularly those representing the agribusiness giants Monsanto and Cargill, which were concerned at Lugo’s attempts to introduce graduated income tax and suggestions of future land reform programmes. This, coupled with the new worries of the US state department, created a new base of international support for action to remove Lugo.

As Mempo Giardinelli points out: “Although timidly, and not without contradictions and setbacks, the Lugo government was coming to signify a more than interesting change for the Paraguayan people,” and this deviation from the status quo was wholly unpalatable to those whom the status quo most benefited. (‘Paraguay: two centuries of coups’, Granma International, 6 July 2012)

When action was finally taken to remove Lugo, the condensed series of events were roughly as predicted by the US embassy telegram of 2009: the use of an apparent political outrage, in this case the Curuguaty massacre, as a rallying point for opposition to Lugo within the Paraguayan congress and as justification for rapid impeachment.

The reality of the particular events which ‘justified’ the impeachment remain hotly disputed, with no cohesive narrative yet to emerge. What can reliably be established is that a stand-off occurred between police and peasants, who were protesting what they (not without justification) considered to be the inequitable distribution of land in the north-eastern regions of Paraguay – where large tracts of the land are controlled by foreign corporations and domestic elites, as a result of constitutionally-dubious decisions taken by the Stroessner regime during the late 1960s.

The stand-off turned violent after shots were fired, though accounts vary as to by whom and directed at whom – it is not, at this stage, conspiratorial to mention that several different reports have suggested the presence of agents provocateurs within the peasant groups – and led to a protracted fire-fight between police, peasants and others. After the initial battle, a number of different sources seem to indicate an attempted cover-up operation by police and special forces in which a number of people were extra-judicially detained and a great deal of potential evidence destroyed.

What should be clear is that, whatever the reality of the events which took place in Curuguaty, the process that followed them was motivated by concerns that were far from humanitarian. Those who remember the ‘massacres’ in Srebrenica (Bosnia) or Houla (Syria) would do well to further remember the way in which an emotionally-potent but wholly inaccurate version of events was used to create a climate favourable to overt and predatory imperialist actions.

In the case of Paraguay, Lugo was obliged, by the apparent ‘disgrace’ brought to his supporters by the events in Curuguaty, to hand over control of key positions within his government to the Colorado Party (the traditional party of the compradors and big landowners) and its elite backers – apparently believing that these concessions to his political opponents would help him to stave off an attempted impeachment. With their new, even greater influence, however, Lugo’s opponents from both sides of the ‘political spectrum’ (such as it is in modern Paraguay) quickly reached an agreement and Lugo was given just two hours to prepare his official case against impeachment.

Lessons from the Lugo period

Marx long ago noted that the working class would not be able to lay hold of the ready-made state machinery – it having grown up out of the very class relations that the revolution seeks to overcome – but would, instead, have to smash that state machinery and rebuild their own state on new foundations.

In order for the Paraguayan people to defeat both their domestic and international exploiters they must begin to fight on their own terms, not on terms offered to them by their exploiters. They must reject the legitimacy of the Paraguayan state, which has been custom-built to facilitate the rape of their country and its natural resources. They must make a materialist analysis of their situation and begin to organise in such a way that they may issue a real challenge to imperialist monopoly-capitalism, both in Paraguay and in Latin America.

Duty of solidarity

We have no doubt that many lessons from the Lugo period will be drawn and developed by those to whom they can be of the most benefit – the Paraguayan people and their revolutionary representatives. It is up to them to determine their line of advance, while our task is to support their fight against imperialism in all its forms.

And it is our duty today to offer solidarity with their struggle against the counter-revolutionary forces that are currently seeking to smash the national-liberation struggle, of which the Lugo presidency has definitely been a component part. Whatever criticisms we might make of Lugo’s presidency, we must echo Mempo Giardinelli’s reminder that Lugo’s opponents were “seeking to bring down the democratic government on account of its virtues, not on account of its defects” and that, given the highly complex material circumstances in which the class struggle in Paraguay is conducted, it is not always possible to prefer ideological purity to pragmatism.

It is also our duty to offer solidarity with the ongoing struggle to develop the revolutionary movement in Paraguay. Though the forces of reaction may currently have the upper hand, we have no doubt that these trials will only strengthen the resolve of the revolutionary movement in Latin America and its supporters in Paraguay.

Victory to the Paraguayan people!

SOURCES
Paraguay moves a bit to the left LA Times
Inevitable Revolutions – United States in Central America
Paraguay – Background and US Relations Wikileaks
Paraguay Threshold Program Millennium Challenge Corporation
Welcome to democraship Asia Times
Paraguayan pols Wikileaks
Paraguay – two centuries of coups Granma International

Posted in South AmericaComments Off on Constitutional coup topples progressive president in Paraguay

Cuban revolution still strong as it faces new challenges

Proletarian
This report from Cuba by our party’s recent delegation will bring fresh inspiration to all those struggling against imperialism. Not only can we win, but a bright and dignified future awaits us on the other side of the revolution.
At the end of June, the Communist Party of Cuba (PCC) hosted a delegation of CPGB-ML comrades, led by our chairman Harpal Brar and vice-chairman and international secretary Ella Rule.

The exchange was characterised by a spirit of sincere friendship between the working people of Britain and Cuba and true comradeship between CPGB-ML delegates and our Cuban hosts, borne of a remarkable harmony of outlook and realisation of our common interests and destinies.

We were privileged to meet members of the PCC’s central committee and delegates of the National Assembly of People’s Power (the Cuban people’s parliament), including Ramon Pez Ferro, who was the youngest member of Fidel Castro’s company when it stormed the Moncada barracks on 26 July 1953.

{Comrades David Lopez Sierra (translator), Oscar Martinez Cordovez, Noel Carrillo Alfonso and Jamila Pita (International Relations dpt).}

{Ramon Pez Ferro (centre), representative at the PPNA and the youngest of the rebels who stormed Mocada Barracks on 26 July 1953.}

It was this attack on the Moncada barracks, challenging the corrupt rule of US puppet Fulgencio Batista, that served as a call to arms to Cuba’s finest revolutionary youth and gave rise to the July 26 Movement (M 26-7). That movement went on to overthrew the brutal Batista dictatorship on 1 January 1959 and laid the foundations of the modern socialist state of Cuba.

We met leaders of the youth movement (CJC), women’s federation and trade unions, as well as health workers and cooperative farmers. All told us of their current struggle to build a productive and efficient socialist economy, to improve the material conditions of the Cuban people and to safeguard the gains of the revolution.

The delegates presented our Cuban hosts with literature – issues of Lalkar and Proletarian, pamphlets, and books – which was warmly received and has been placed in the national libraries of the Cuban parliament, as well as in the libraries of the PCC central committee, the Federation of Trade Unions, and the women’s and youth organisations.

Much has been written recently of Raul Castro’s introduction of market reforms to Cuba; the ‘deregulation’ of the Cuban labour market and the hundreds of thousands of workers who are consequently entering the private sector. Many commentators tell us to expect the impending collapse of Cuban socialism.

It was therefore of special value to visit Cuba at this crucial time, following the sixth party congress of the PCC in 2011, while its decisions are in the process of implementation.

Che Guevara famously wrote that “the true revolutionary is guided by a great feeling of love. It is impossible to think of a genuine revolutionary lacking this quality … Our vanguard revolutionaries must idealise this love of the people, of the most sacred causes, and make it one and indivisible.” (‘Socialism and man in Cuba’, Marcha, 12 March 1965)

We found both the historic leadership and Cuba’s new generation of leaders to be talented and hard-working, self-disciplined and incorruptible people, who lead by example and common consent, in the spirit of Che’s precept.

Meeting with the central committee of the PCC

Comrade Oscar Martínez Cordovés, deputy head of the department of international relations of the CC, welcomed the CPGB-ML’s visit enthusiastically, and noted that “You are visiting Cuba at a very interesting time … This year we commemorated, among other things, the fiftieth anniversary of the missile crisis, which as you know brought the world to the brink of nuclear war. This event is closely linked with US imperialism’s ongoing attempts to strangle Cuba.

“Today the danger of war is far greater than in 1962. The international situation is extremely complex and unstable. The economic crisis in the eurozone typifies this instability. The EU project was designed to merge and safeguard the interests of European finance capital …

“In Europe, the International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank are overturning national sovereignty and determining the policies to be followed.

“You are visiting Cuba at a time when we have been outlining the main problems on which we need to focus: how to build our economy in the current international and national situation.

“Cuba is a small island of 12 million people and limited national resources, which has been subjected to a strict economic blockade by the most powerful country on earth, sitting just 90 miles from our shores. Under these circumstances, how do we strengthen socialism?

“There is a lot of talk about Cuba at present: whether Cuba is going in a Vietnamese way or a Chinese way? In fact, we are following our own method of development along an untrodden path …

“In the lead-up to the sixth party congress we held extensive discussion among the masses to ascertain their needs and aspirations, and it became clear to us that above all we needed to strengthen our economy. This is our most basic requirement to fulfil all our needs and internationalist duties.

“We seek to develop a socialist economic model that is efficient, sustainable and gives us the real possibility of safeguarding our social programmes and the gains of our people. The PCC seeks to undertake the political and ideological work necessary to achieve this goal.

A socialist planned economy is the chosen model of the Cuban people

“After extensive consideration of several models, the sixth party congress reaffirmed that our economic model of development should be a socialist model characterised by planning, and not by the market. We are clear that social property should remain the principal element of production. In addition, we have cooperative production undertaken by individuals who lease social property, and individual workers who work on their own account …

“The 1976 constitution guarantees the right of every citizen to employment, and we wish to preserve that right. But we have created too many unnecessary and unproductive roles, which has inflated the state payroll burden. We need to reduce unproductive expenditure on unnecessary salaries and reallocate workers in order to increase productivity and strengthen our economy.

“The IMF would solve this problem immediately with ‘shock therapy’ – by turning workers out into the street. That is capitalism. Under socialism we cannot do this. We must reorientate and redeploy unproductive workers into productive sectors where our economy really needs them. The principal sector where we need more workers is in agriculture, in order to produce more of our food requirements domestically and reduce imports.

“We also want to reduce our expenditure on the service sector and stop providing all services, some of which can better be provided by individual workers – such as barber shops and beauty parlours.

Increasing productivity is the focus of the sixth congress of the PCC

“Our principle problem consists of low labour-productivity …

“Although we are a small island, we have enough land to produce all our food needs. However, we are producing just 30-40 percent of our food requirements at present. Since making these decisions, we are already seeing improvements in our economy, and have been able to reduce some imports.”

Comrade Harpal Brar, in discussion with Comrade Oscar, said: “We completely agree with you that socialism cannot be built unless there is a high productivity of labour. If we cannot produce more productively than capitalism then socialism has no future. That is clear from the days of Marx and I think everybody is clear about that.

“But again, production has a purpose. Under socialism, production is to satisfy the needs of the people. If productivity rises but it ceases to have any connection with the needs of the people, then there is no point having production. American capitalism is able to produce, although this may seem unbelievable, more productively than the Chinese and many others, but their production is not for ordinary people, which is why there are 40 million people in the USA who have no health cover and 15-20 percent of the US population go hungry. There is no reason for America to go hungry.

“You have told us that you need to increase productivity, but in increasing productivity, you’re not forgetting the needs of the Cuban people … I’d like to thank the Communist Party of Cuba for inviting us and giving us the opportunity to listen to you face to face …

“We support Cuba. But we don’t do it as a favour to you. It is our proletarian internationalist duty. If Cuba is successful – to the same extent we are successful as well. If we are successful in building a strong movement in our country, this is of some help to Cuban communists and other socialist countries. So we really very much hope that you are able to combine Bolshevik zeal with American efficiency!

Cuban socialism a beacon of hope

“We hope you make tremendous progress. Cuba has surprised the whole world by holding on to its socialism … As soon as the Soviet Union collapsed, imperialists were waiting like vultures, asking ‘When is Cuba going to collapse?’, ‘When are China, Vietnam and north Korea going to fall down?’ They have been waiting for a very long time – and I hope they will wait forever!

“Cuba exercises on the world stage an influence disproportionate to its size, its population or resources. This is because of its selfless help to other people, both in the fields of medicine and education, as well as in armed combat.

“You have sent soldiers to defend liberation movements in Africa, and you have given all kinds of help, and Cubans are known in those areas. Even muslim fundamentalists in Pakistan actually appreciate what Cuba does. When the earthquake hit Kashmir, Cuban doctors provided immediate unconditional help. That is the kind of help that needs to be given – not what the Americans gave to Haiti, where they come to loot the people, conduct espionage, and sabotage any progressive movement.

“Cuba is doing exceptionally well and we want to thank you.”

Achievements in health in Cuba; defying the US blockade

Visiting Hermanos Ameijerias hospital in Havana, the delegation toured the modern facility and discussed Cuba’s health system with Dr Gonzalo Estévez Torra, epidemiologist and medical director. He explained that the Cuban model of health is based on our own NHS primary-care system, but with an emphasis, like the Soviet Union, on preventative as well as curative medicine. “At the primary and polyclinic level in the provinces, 80 percent of Cuba’s health needs are met,” he said.

“Health care is free of charge to the population. The government also offers a great deal of medical aid abroad. This is very expensive for the Cuban state. The American blockade denies us access to medicine and equipment we could otherwise buy cheaply locally. Because of this, Cuba has been forced to develop its own medical technology and pharmaceuticals industries.

“Cuba now produces 70 percent of the drugs we consume. When we need a medicine, we often have to source it in Europe or Asia, but if equipment has an American component then the US applies its sanctions, preventing us from buying it …

“Today, we are vaccinating our children against 18 diseases. Eleven of these vaccines are produced in Cuba. This is our response to the blockade. We have become more self-sufficient and even export some of our medicines – for example a uniquely chemically-synthesised vaccine against haemophilus influenza.

“Life expectancy of Cuban men is 76 years and of Cuban women is 80. We have an infant mortality of fewer than 5 per 1,000 live births. These figures are better than those of the USA. Free public health is for all Cubans regardless of race, gender, religion or economic status.”

The achievements of the Cuban health system are inspirational, especially when one remembers the position of pre-revolutionary Cuba, where only a handful of doctors practiced, and almost all of them resided in Havana, tending exclusively to the tiny parasitical class of US businessmen and their local stooges.

{Mural depicting the revolutionary struggle in Cuba and the achievements it has made possible in health, education and sport.}

Comparing Cuba’s healthcare indices to the vast majority of Caribbean, Latin-American or oppressed countries today tells an even more stark story. Even in comparison to the health systems of the richest imperialist nations, Cuba’s achievements are enviable.

Comrade Ranjeet, a delegate and also a healthcare worker in Britain, commented that “In our country we have a national health system which was introduced in the 1940s, but for the last 30 years there has been a growing pressure to divide it up and privatise it, to turn it into something much like the US health system.

“For a long time the NHS was considered the envy of the western world. Our health indices are similar to Cuba’s, but it costs 5-6 times as much to produce them. The NHS costs about £100-110bn per year to run – although funding is currently being cut . But much of that finance ends up in the hands of private pharmaceutical multinationals, medical technology companies and now also PFI contractors and financial consortia. Private companies make a huge amount from that ‘public’ money.

“Cuba shows that through rational planning, and with nationalisation of pharmaceutical and medical technology companies, it is possible to provide very good health care for all, efficiently and cheaply… In Britain, at the current rate of ‘reform’, our NHS system will not exist for very many decades longer.”

People’s Power National Assembly

Meeting Comrade Ramon Pez Ferro, president of the commission of international relations at the People’s Power National Assembly (PPNA), Comrade Harpal told him that:

“We are here to express solidarity with the Cuban people, and to say that there are two Britains; the Britain of the working class and progressive people and the Britain of the ruling class … We represent the finest elements of the British working class in coming to be with you. We wish to state unequivocally that the hostile propaganda levelled at you is the work not of the working people of Britain, but of the British ruling class.”

Comrade Ferro replied, saying: “I agree with you when you say there are two Britains – of the workers and capitalists. In that regard, I think we can achieve something. We have Britain. British parliamentary groups have expressed solidarity with Cuba on issues such as the Miami Five. All of this has achieved some results – although limited.

“In Britain there are important non-parliamentary solidarity movements and organisations, and these and British trade unions have expressed their solidarity with Cuba. For us it is very important to receive groups such as yours and those I have mentioned.

“Cuba is a victim of the US propaganda campaign that slanders the reality of our daily life. This type of campaign is also very much alive in Europe and Great Britain. The US state department has approved an additional twenty million dollars of funding for mobile-phone propaganda and misinformation campaigns, as well as financing dissident groups to wage campaigns of destabilisation and subversion in our country.

“This is a direct continuation of the war of destabilisation that the US has never ceased waging against Cuba since the revolution of 1959. It is part of the general and comprehensive policy of US imperialism – and not only against Cuba. It is aimed against all progressive movements. The methods change, but the objectives remain the same.

“They used to threaten Cuba with force. Today they use direct force against the peoples of the world, as well as all their other methods of economic and political destabilisation. They have absolutely no moral or ethical standards.

“For several years we have seen a change of the political situation in our continent. The previous subservient governments, subordinate to the USA, have been replaced in many cases by independent governments that pursue the interests of the Latin-American people. Anti-imperialist resistance has strengthened.

“These governments are all facing the same treatment that Cuba is facing. This was the same policy used against Honduras, and in Venezuela. There also, president Chávez faced a military coup d’état, and was kidnapped by airborne US forces. It was only the courageous actions of the people that prevented its success and obliged imperialism and its local agents to turn their helicopters around, to spare Chávez and return him to the presidency.

“In Ecuador, there was an uprising of the police, putting in danger the life of president Rafael Correa. In Bolivia now there is a very difficult situation, using the same methods – an uprising of a group within the police force, on a spurious pretext.

“Around the world, similar situations can be found: the US-sponsored ‘free army’ in Syria; the US-sponsored ‘colour revolutions’ in Iran and other places; the overthrow of Gaddafi; Afghanistan; Iraq: the USA is seeking, through its policy of force, to control the world in order to dominate its economy and monopolise its wealth.

“That is why it is so important the world’s progressive forces, our movements, identify more and more and get closer and closer. It is only through unity of our peoples that we can oppose imperialism, and prevent it from dominating the peoples of the world.

“Blockade and sanctions are the greatest violations of human rights that it is possible to commit; for these modern-day acts of siege warfare impose privations on the whole population – the elderly, children, pregnant women, the sick and disabled.

“Even in the USA, the overwhelming majority of public opinion is against the blockade, but they pay no attention to the will of their people. Every year at the UN general assembly, a resolution is passed demanding the lifting of the blockade against Cuba. They do so because it is unilateral and illegal, and cannot be accepted even from the purely economic or trading perspective of bourgeois countries.

“Today, Cuba gives exemplary solidarity to the peoples of the world; it is a shining example of how to give security and protection to one’s people. We have experienced difficult and complex circumstances, but there is no family without food, clothing, shelter, culture, education, health care. Despite difficulties resulting form being a poor nation without great wealth of natural resources, and being subjected to 50 years of blockade, our policy of equity and justice has demonstrated that we can give an improved life to the people under socialism.”

No material privilege for leaders of the revolution

In stark contrast to the British parliamentary system, which systematically divorces our MPs from workers, Comrade Ferro told us “I am an MP, and my standard of living as such is the same as the Cuban workers. I give this example because we are here in the PPNA. The same applies to a minister or any other political leader in the country; they enjoy no privilege due to the position they occupy.”

Growing the rural economy

As Cuba’s current economic plan is designed to promote agricultural production, the delegation went to the municipality of Guira de Melena, in Artemisa provence, to visit the ‘1st May’ cooperative farm.

The cooperative has a total area of 774 hectares, of which 602 are under cultivation. Thirty-eight of the participating farms, totalling 236 hectares, are newly cultivated.

The 1 May cooperative is divided into 92 farms with some communal areas. The leading body of the cooperative is the assembly, which has 246 members (187 men and 59 women at present). The assembly elects a managing board of nine people to conduct day-to-day affairs of the cooperative, two of whom are currently women. The board elects a president, to lead the affairs of the cooperative between assemblies, and must present accounts at these meetings.

Bright green crops of sugarcane, banana, yam and cereals sprout from the farm’s deep red, ferrous-rich soil, nourished by the plentiful and often tempestuous rains, under the tropical embrace of the Caribbean sun. Pigs, chickens and rabbits were penned near the farmers’ cottage where we ate. We were treated to a sumptuous lunch of beef and salad sandwiches, tropical fruits and juices, mixed (on occasion) with a little Havana Club rum.

All of the food in our meal was produced by the cooperative, and most on the farm itself. The organically-farmed feast was deliciously fresh, naturally sweet and healthy. Shared with the farm workers, at the farmhouse of the principal leaseholder’s family, the meal became an occasion of real social enjoyment, and conversation was animated.

The rural and agricultural workers were visibly healthy, well fed, well clothed, socially engaged, and concerned with their work. Production targets are not some abstract notion to them, but represent real problems to be solved, real challenges to be met, in cooperation and with the benefit of help from state scientific and technical agencies, academics and advisors, who truly work synergistically to achieve the same broad goals: increased but sustainable production, efficiency, self-reliance, dignity.

{Touring the newly-created 1 May cooperative farm in Artemisas Province. Rich green crops of bananas and maize rise from fertile red soil.}

While 70 percent of Cuba’s land is owned and run by state farms, the new soils being brought under cultivation are for the most part being leased to individuals, who enter into legal agreements with the Cuban state, and must ensure that the land is put to productive use – on penalty of termination of the agreement.

And new farmers are indeed coming back to the countryside from the towns. Despite the individual nature of the lease agreement, this is far from ‘capitalist farming’. All farmhands enjoy similar working conditions and have an input at weekly meetings into planning and overseeing production.

A proportion of the harvest is sold at pre-arranged prices to the state. On the 1st May cooperative, 25 percent of production was disposed of in this way. Beyond this, the cooperative is allowed to sell its remaining crop. Much of it goes in bulk contracts to other enterprises – schools, hospitals, hotels, or offices – and the rest is sold in open markets in local towns and cities.

School for the disabled

Another memorable visit was to the Solidaridad con Panama special school, a school for the disabled where, at no cost to their families, physically and/or mentally disabled children are trained to be able to work independently if at all possible when they reach adulthood.

In a socialist society, if disability means that one worker is somewhat slower than others this is not a fundamental factor, since production is not for profit, and every little bit that each person can contribute by his or her work to society as a whole is valued as a contribution to the common cause.

{Solidaridad con Panima special school for the disabled, where children are given support to be fully involved in society.}

Despite the overwhelmingly inspiring nature of our visit to the school, it was distressing to note that the happy little children there were in many cases being deprived of equipment they needed to further enrich their lives because of the blockade. It is surely the grossest infringement of human rights to deny a little child with cerebral palsy an electric wheelchair just because some small part is manufactured in the US or by a US company!

However, neither the staff nor the students at the school we visited were prepared to allow these setbacks to daunt their firm determination that all the children should grow up to lead satisfying and fulfilling lives in their socialist society.

Why the blockade – what do they fear?

Speaking at the CPGB-ML’s summer barbecue last year, Comrade Ranjeet asked why it is that small countries like Cuba, with its 11 million population, and north Korea with its 23 million are perceived as such a threat by mighty US imperialism, with its population of 350 million and a greater military arsenal than the rest of the world combined. The answer that he gave has been strikingly confirmed by our delegation’s visit to Cuba: it is the example that Cuba and other socialist countries set to the oppressed of the world, currently suffering under the jackboot of imperialist domination.

These socialist countries are the living proof that nothing is more precious than independence and freedom, and that it is possible to build a bright and dignified future for workers in which they share the fruits of their common labour without being exploited, and without exploiting the labour-power of others.

This is anathema to the US imperialists’ system of domestic wage slavery and its international network of vassal states and puppet dictatorships designed to help America’s corporate elite plunder and pillage the resources of the entire world.

We wish the Cuban people well in their endeavours to strengthen their economy in line with the plans adopted by the PCC’s sixth party congress. If Cuba is successful – to the same extent we are successful as well: may they indeed combine Bolshevik zeal with American efficiency!

End the blockade!

Free the Miami Five!

Long live the Cuban revolution!

Delegation photos – CPGB-ML photostream (Flickr)
Obituary – Teofilo Stevenson – August 2012 (Proletarian)
Cuba special – 50 years of revolution – December 2008 (Proletarian)
Cuban revolution 50th anniversary – January 2009 (Proletarian TV)

{Billboard calling for the release of the Miami Five, who have been held unjustly in US jails for 15 years.}

{Patria o muerte venceramos – Our country or death! We will win! Harriet Tubman, who escaped slavery in the southern states of the USA, spent her life escorting southern slaves to freedom in the north. Her steely resolve was never to be subjected and enslaved once more. She travelled with a revolver and famously said “I shall have one of two things: my liberty, or my death.” This encapsulates the spirit of the Cuban people to maintain their dignity, independence and freedom!}

Posted in South AmericaComments Off on Cuban revolution still strong as it faces new challenges

Turkey: NATO’s Neo-Ottoman Spearhead in the Middle East

NOVANEWS
By Rick Rozoff
 

Global Research

 

Stop NATO

Turkey already has troops in Syria and has threatened military action to protect the site they guard.

A 1921 agreement between Ottoman Turkey and France (the Treaty of Ankara), the latter at the time the colonial administrator of Syria, guaranteed Turkey the right to station military personnel at the mausoleum of Suleyman Shah (Süleyman Şah), the grandfather of the founder of the Ottoman Empire, Osman I (Osman Bey).

Turkey considers the area adjacent to the tomb to be its, and not Syria’s, sovereign territory and late last month reinforced its 15-troop contingent there.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan stated the following in an interview televised on August 5: “The tomb of Süleyman Şah and the land surrounding it is our territory. We cannot ignore any unfavorable act against that monument, as it would be an attack on our territory, as well as an attack on NATO land. Everyone knows his duty, and will continue to do what is necessary.” The gravesite of a Seljuk sultan who was reputed to have drowned in the Euphrates River while on a campaign of conquest is now proclaimed a NATO outpost in Syria.

If confirmation was required that a neo-Ottoman Turkey is determined to reassert the influence and authority in Mesopotamia it gained 700 years before and lost a century ago and, moreover, that it was doing so as part of a campaign by self-christened global NATO to expand into the Arab world, the Turkish head of state’s threat to militarily intervene in Syria with the support of its 27 NATO allies should provide it.

Especially as the above complements and reinforces the roles of the U.S. and NATO in providing military assistance to Ankara in its current war of attrition against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in Turkey and Iraq, with Syria soon to follow as last week Turkey deployed troops, tanks, other armored vehicles and missile batteries to within two kilometers of the Syrian border for war games. Last week a retired Turkish official compared the current anti-Kurdish offensive to the Sri Lankan military’s final onslaught against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) three years ago, ending the 25-year-long war against the latter with its complete annihilation.

U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta’s trip to Colombia in April was designed to achieve the same result in the 48-year joint Colombian-U.S. counterinsurgency war against the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). In the current era of international lawlessness, only NATO states and American clients like Colombia and Israel are permitted to conduct military strikes and incursions into other nations and to wage wars of extermination against opponents.

In the same interview cited above, Turkey’s Erdogan asserted the right to continue launching military strikes against Kurdish targets in neighboring countries, stating, “It should be known that as long as the region remains a source of threat[s] for Turkey we will continue staging operations wherever it is needed.”

Turkish Interior Minister Idris Naim Sahin recently claimed that his nation’s armed forces had killed 130 suspected PKK members and supporters in Hakkari province, which borders Iran and Iraq.

Specifically in respect to military attacks inside Syria, Erdogan stated: “One cannot rule that out. We have three brigades along the border currently conducting maneuvers there. And we cannot remain patient in the face of a mistake that can be made there.”

He also stated, in reference to fighting in the Syrian city of Aleppo, “I believe the Assad regime draws to its end with each passing day” and criticized Iran’s support, which is to say its recognition, of the Syrian government. Iran is the inevitable secondary target of actions directed by Turkey and its NATO and Persian Gulf Arab allies against Syria and will be struck through Iraq also.

In the same interview the Turkish head of state identified a third target: Iraq. He condemned the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, declaring it illegitimate and urging it be overthrown. In what portends confrontation and possible conflict with Iran and Syria as well by exploiting the PKK issue, he added:

“Even though we should be countries that share the same values, for us to be in such rigor [conflict?] only makes the terrorist organization more powerful. This leads us to approach each other with suspicion.”

In the process he criticized Iran as well:

“It is not possible to accept Iran’s stance [of supporting the Iraqi government]. We conveyed this to them at the highest level of talks. We said to them, ‘Look, this has been a source of disturbance in the region.’”

His comments occurred after the Iraqi government criticized the visit of Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu to the cities of Kirkuk and Irbil in the Kurdistan Regional Government-controlled north of Iraq in part to secure oil and natural gas deals with the regime of Massoud Barzani, president of the Kurdish autonomous region. Irbil is the region’s capital, but Kirkuk is claimed by Iraq’s central government too. Davutoglu’s trip to Kirkuk was the first by a Turkish foreign minister since 1937.

On August 7 Hurriyet Daily News columnist Murat Yetkin offered this perspective on the matter:

“Because Iraq [is] at risk of falling apart. Massoud Barzani, the leader of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in the north of the country, which borders Turkey, has started to sign oil and gas deals with energy giants despite the objection of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki in Baghdad, who refuses to approve a hydrocarbons law to regulate the sharing of oil and gas income. The energy giants have an interest in supplying more oil and gas that is not controlled or is less controlled by Russia and Iran to Western markets; Turkey provides an option under NATO protection for both Iraqi Kurdish and Azeri resources to be transferred further west. The presence of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in the KRG region and its armed campaign is, of course, a pain in the neck and a big obstacle to greater cooperation…”

On July 26 the same commentator claimed that “There are already political and economic actors trying to push Turkey to claim some energy-rich parts of Iraq and Syria, which would mean a regime change such as a federated Turkey, with Kurdish and possibly Arabic members,” which, he conceded, “could drag the whole region into a chain reaction of wars.”

Part of Turkey’s justification for involvement in northern Iraq, and another pretext for potential military intervention, is the protection of their ethnic kin, the Turkmen, in the country.

However, since the U.S. and British invasion of Iraq in 2003 the true indigenous people of the north, the Assyrians, have been decimated by attacks from Barzani’s peshmergas and Saudi-backed Wahhabi extremists without Turkey, or the West, being in the least degree concerned. Nine years ago there were an estimated 1.5 million Assyrian and other Christians in Iraq; now there under 500,000. Churches have been destroyed and in 2008 the Chaldean Catholic Archeparch of Mosul, Archbishop Mar Paulos Faraj Rahho, was kidnapped and murdered in the northern Iraqi city where he resided. Other religious minorities – Mandeans, Sabeans and Yezidis – have suffered the same fate. Shiites are regularly targeted by Wahhabi death squads.

The Barzani domain in the north has become a Turkish foothold inside the country, which has aided Ankara by preventing the PKK from operating on its territory and suppressing its sympathizers. It is also a dependable Sunni ally for Turkey, Saudi Arabia and other Gulf monarchies in efforts to weaken the Shiite-led government in Baghdad. The al-Maliki administration condemned last week’s visit by the Turkish foreign minister to the Kurdish-dominated north as a violation of Iraq’s constitution and national sovereignty as Davutoglu had neither requested nor obtained permission to enter Kirkuk.

Iraq’s Foreign Ministry handed the Turkish chargé d’affaires in Baghdad a harshly-worded statement and the Turkish Foreign Minister in response summoned the Iraqi ambassador to lodge a protest.

With Turkish threats against Iraq and Syria, and by inevitable implication Iran, mounting, on August 6 the Chief of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces, Major General Seyed Hassan Firuzabadi, warned that:

“Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Turkey are responsible for blood being shed on Syrian soil.

“This is not an appropriate precedent, that neighboring countries of Syria contribute to the belligerent purposes of…the United States. If these countries have accepted such a precedent, they must be aware that after Syria, it will be the turn of Turkey and other countries.

He added that Iran fears “Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar have become victims of promoting the terrorism of al-Qaeda and we warn our friends about this.”

On the same day Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian stated, “There is a question that when al-Qaeda plays an active role in Syrian terrorism and violence, why the US and other countries back the shipment of heavy and semi-heavy weapons to the country?”

Kazem Jalali, a member of the Iranian Parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Commission, said that “Turkey and those who support and arm terrorists” in Syria were responsible for the safety of 48 Iranians kidnapped in the country on August 4.

The following day the Turkish press reported that Osman Karahan, a Turkish lawyer who defended a suspected top-level al-Qaeda operative accused of participating in deadly bomb attacks in Istanbul in November of 2003 was killed in Aleppo fighting with anti-government forces. In 2006 the Turkish government charged Karahan with aiding and abetting al-Qaeda.

Syria has announced that it captured several Turkish and Saudi military officers in Aleppo. Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar have established a base in the Turkish city of Adana, 60 miles from the Syrian border, to supply weapons and training to Syrian rebels for cross-border attacks.

The Turkish government is providing bases, training and advisers for al-Qaeda and other participants in the insurrection against the Syrian government at the same time that it is threatening Syria, Iraq and Iran over the “terrorist” Kurdistan Workers’ Party.

In bordering Iran, Iraq and Syria, Turkey provides NATO – and through NATO the Pentagon – direct access to those three nations. The final stage in the West’s Greater Missile East Initiative is now well underway, as is a new redivision of the Levant modeled after the Anglo-French Sykes-Picot Agreement of 1916.

Posted in TurkeyComments Off on Turkey: NATO’s Neo-Ottoman Spearhead in the Middle East

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