Archive | February 13th, 2014

‘Aid enters’ besieged Damascus camp of Yarmouk

NOVANEWS
This undated activist photo provided by the group Palestinians of Syria on Monday, Jan. 13, 2014 shows a funeral for a resident who died during the siege of the Palestinian neighbourhood of Yarmouk
Photos from activists in the camp have shown funerals for residents who have died during the siege

Aid has reached the besieged Palestinian camp of Yarmouk in the Syrian capital Damascus for the first time in months, Palestinian officials say.

Some 18,000 Palestinian refugees in the camp have not seen an aid delivery since September.

It is not clear how much aid was allowed to enter the camp on Saturday.

Reports from inside Yarmouk say at least 40 residents have died from hunger and lack of medical care.

“A first batch of food aid entered successfully this morning and distribution to residents has begun,” Palestine Liberation Organisation official Anwar Abdul Hadi told Agence France-Presse, describing the delivery as a trial run.

Anwar Raja, a Palestinian official, told AP news agency that much of the material was carried “on the shoulders” of members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine – General Command (PFLP-GC), whose militia has been allied to the government of President Bashar al-Assad.

The PFLP-GC has previously clashed with the rebel Free Syrian Army (FSA) over control of the camp. Rebels seized much of Yarmouk in December 2012 but fighting there has continued.

‘Collective punishment’The UN Relief and Works Agency (Unrwa) had earlier warned that the humanitarian situation inside Yarmouk was “worsening dramatically”.

UN Relief and Works Agency officials have tried to deliver aid to Yarmouk during the week (13 Jan 2014)
UN Relief and Works Agency officials tried unsuccessfully to deliver aid to Yarmouk during the week

Unrwa spokesman Chris Gunness told BBC News that Saturday’s development was significant, “but we’re talking here about 200 food parcels, which is nothing like enough to meet the needs”.

He has spoken of widespread malnutrition, with people reduced to eating animal feed and women dying in childbirth because of a lack of medical care.

UN human rights commissioner Navi Pillay said on Friday that government forces “and affiliated militias” appeared to be imposing collective punishment on the camp’s civilians.

An Unrwa convoy of food and medical supplies tried to reach the camp this week, but security fears prevented it from travelling beyond a government checkpoint, the agency said.

Yarmouk was once home to Syria’s largest population of Palestinian refugees but most have fled since the conflict began. A community of 160,000-180,000 now numbers some 18,000.

Aid officials in Damascus recently told the BBC that “the gates of Yarmouk” were slammed shut in July and almost no aid has been allowed to enter since then.

Ms Pillay said numerous attempts had been made in the past four months to bring food and medical supplies into the camp, and “very little aid was getting through during the nine months prior to that.”

Map showing locations of Yarmouk and Palestine refugee camps in Damascus

Posted in Palestine Affairs, SyriaComments Off on ‘Aid enters’ besieged Damascus camp of Yarmouk

Hezbollah: Army Made Great Achievements, Everyone Should Support It

 
Hezbollah flag

Hezbollah said Wednesday that the Lebanese army has made great achievements through the arrest of one of the leading planners and perpetrators ofterrorist attacksand suicide car bombs, and by seizing two booby-trapped cars in Beirut and on the road of Arsal.

“These advanced security achievements add shining points to the honorable record of the army, which is the protective shield for all the Lebanese,” Hezbollah said in a statement.

The statement added that these points are evidence of the army’s hard work and sacrifices to protect the Lebanese people in the face of all risks, especially the permanent Zionist danger and the risk ofterrorist extremist groups who target innocent civilians.

“The Lebanese people, with all its strength and parties, is called to support the military institution in the face of the terrorist forces that target the security of citizens, assassinate their future and work to sow the seeds of dissension and discord among them,” the statement read.

Moreover, Hezbollah paid tribute to the significant achievements of the army and saluted the boldness of the command, officers and soldiers in their confrontation against the Takfiri terrorism hitting Lebanon.

The Lebanese Resistance also called on all Lebanese to be aware of the risks associated with thoseextremist groups, to condemn their terrorism, to work to organize their political differences and to unite in order to get Lebanon out of the huge regional.

Source: Hezbollah Media Relations

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“Holocaust hullabaloo” : British MP intimidated

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Or, how to make enemies of people who aren’t

By Stuart Littlewood

The head of the Holocaust Educational Trust, Karen Pollock, has once again succeeded in wringing an apology from a British MP for remarks about what happened to Jews in Nazi-occupied Europe and what is happening now to Palestinians in Israeli-occupied Gaza and the West Bank.

“Offensive” truth

During the same parliamentary debate in which Sir Gerald Kaufman gave Israel a severe rollicking, Yasmin Qureshi, MP for Bolton South East, told the House of Commons – the lower chamber of the British parliament – that the suffering in Gaza was intolerable. Let readers judge whether there’s anything to apologise for in what she said:

The situation has been going on for nine years. Everyone, from all parties — this is not a party political issue — and every one of our foreign secretaries have said, “Yes, we think this is wrong, and we all believe in the two-state solution. Yes, we are friends of Israel, and we have told Israel that it should not be doing this.” But guess what? Nothing has happened…

What has struck me in all this is that the state of Israel was founded because of what happened to the millions and millions of Jews who suffered genocide. Their properties, homes and land — everything — were taken away, and they were deprived of rights. Of course, many millions perished. It is quite strange that some of the people who are running the state of Israel seem to be quite complacent and happy to allow the same to happen in Gaza.

The issue is not just about Gaza; let us think about the West Bank and Jerusalem as well. Many Palestinians are being turfed out of their homes in Jerusalem. The Israelis are the occupying power in the West Bank, where they have got rid of Palestinian homes and replaced them with hundreds of thousands of settlements, recognized by the United Nations as illegal… The policy pursued by the state of Israel is not helping to lead to a two-state solution. All it is doing is making Palestinians even more depressed and anxious. They think, “What hope is there for us?”, and they rightly ask, “What is the international community doing about this?” Let us face it: if what is happening to Gaza, done by Israel, were happening to any other nation, the whole world would be up in arms, and rightly so.”

Fair comment? Not according to Ms Pollock. The MP was immediately accused of making “offensive and inappropriate comparisons” about the Middle East, as reported in the Guardian . “We expect our politicians to speak responsibly and sensitively about the past and about events today,” said Pollock. “These lazy and deliberate distortions have no place in British politics. Whilst current events in the Middle East understandably stir emotions, it is astonishing to think that anyone could visit Auschwitz-Birkenau, learn about the industrial nature of the Nazis’ murderous regime, even walk through a gas chamber – and then make these offensive and inappropriate comparisons.”

Readers will point out that some events in occupied Palestine not only “stir emotions”, as Ms Pollock downplays it, they are plain war crimes.

In the Jewish Chronicle, Labour Friends of Israel director Jennifer Gerber strongly condemned the comparisons between the holocaust and the situation in Gaza. “In her remarks, she [Qureshi] directly links Israeli policies towards the Palestinian people to the Nazis’ efforts to exterminate world Jewry. This is both deeply offensive to the memory of the holocaust and its millions of victims, but also wilfully ignorant of the actual situation in Gaza. We would ask Ms Qureshi to apologise for her remarks, and to cease using such upsetting and offensive comparisons.”

Ms Qureshi replied that she had not intended to draw a direct parallel and felt “personally hurt” that anyone could think so – especially as she had visited one of the most notorious death camps. “The debate was about the plight of the Palestinian people and in no way did I mean to equate events in Gaza with the holocaust. I apologise for any offence caused.” She does not seem to have withdrawn the remark, however.

Ordinary people won’t be told what to think or say

A year ago Liberal Democrat MP David Ward was in hot water for his “use of language” in condemning the Jewish state’s atrocities against the Palestinians while the horrors of their own suffering at the hands of the Nazis were still fresh in their memory. He wrote on his website a few days before Holocaust Memorial Day:

Having visited Auschwitz twice – once with my family and once with local schools – I am saddened that the Jews, who suffered unbelievable levels of persecution during the holocaust, could within a few years of liberation from the death camps be inflicting atrocities on Palestinians in the new state of Israel and continue to do so on a daily basis in the West Bank and Gaza.

The sky promptly fell on him. Karen Pollock and Jon Benjamin, the chief executive of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, launched a vicious attack with Pollock claiming that Ward “deliberately abused the memory of the holocaust” and his remarks were “sickening” and had no place in British politics.

Benjamin said he was outraged and shocked by Ward’s “offensive” comments. He complained: “For an MP to have made such comments on the eve of Holocaust Memorial Day is even more distasteful…”

They demanded the party withdraw the whip. Such was the pressure that wobbly Liberal Democrat bosses appointed a team to lay down language rules, determine whether Ward was “salvageable” and then re-educate him.

After that, in Brighton, the Sussex Friends of Israel turned on MP Caroline Lucas. During a pro-Israel lobby day in parliament Lucas accused Israel of “blocking humanitarian aid” and “humiliating” the people of Gaza. Simon Cobbs, a founding member of the Sussex Friends of Israel, told the Algemeiner: “The problem we have with Caroline Lucas is that she’s taken a side over and above her own constituency needs.”

Ms Lucas’s remarks were perfectly valid and there was no way Cobbs could deny it. He should have put his point to the 80 per cent of Conservative MPs and MEPs who have signed up with Friends of Israel, an organization that flies the Israeli flag in the British parliament and promotes Israel’s interests. Such activities are not only “above the needs” but very probably detrimental to the interests of their constituencies.

Then Colchester MP Sir Bob Russell, speaking during a debate on the national schools curriculum, put a question to Education Secretary Michael Gove about world history lessons, saying: “On the assumption that the 20th century will include the holocaust, will he give me an assurance that the life of Palestinians since 1948 will be given equal attention?”

The idea that Israel’s murderous oppression of the Palestinians should be given the same prominence in British schools as the shoah did not go down well. “These remarks are a shocking piece of holocaust denigration,” said the Jewish Leadership Council’s chief executive, Jeremy Newmark. “There is simply no comparison between the two situations. It is worrying that so soon after the David Ward affair another MP thinks it is acceptable to play fast and loose with the language of the holocaust in this context.”

Governments may bow to Jewish/Israeli exceptionalism and politicians may be bullied into submission, but civil society won’t stand for it.

Prickly Ms Pollock also pounced on Russell: “To try to equate the events of the holocaust – the systematized mass murder of 6 million Jews – with the conflict in the Middle East is simply inaccurate as well as inappropriate.”

First of all, it isn’t a “conflict”. It’s a brutal occupation and blockade in which millions of innocent civilians have been dispossessed at gunpoint and put to flight, or collectively punished for decades by a military force armed to the teeth with high-tech weaponry. As for the atrocities carried out in Nazi-occupied Europe and Israeli-occupied Palestine, there is no equivalence in terms of scale. But some similarities are inescapable to those who go and see for themselves. The crucial message of the holocaust, that such cruelty must never be allowed to happen again, seems lost already.

Governments may bow to Jewish/Israeli exceptionalism and politicians may be bullied into submission, but civil society won’t stand for it. Ordinary people don’t like to be told what to think or say. They won’t allow honest debate to be shut down. They hold Israel to the same standards expected of all nations. And because Israel won’t respect international law, human rights and other norms, and because its leaders are never held to account for their monstrous crimes, civil society has taken matters into its own hands and turned to measures like boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS).

True, growing numbers of Jews bravely speak out and condemn Israel. But more need to do so, because no-one does a better job of abusing the memory of holocaust victims than the Zionist regime itself, which drove into exile some 700,000 Palestinians in 1947/48 and has had its boot on the necks of those remaining for the 65 years ever since. The advice of Yehoshafat Harkabi, a former Israeli military intelligence chief, is surely ringing in enough ears: “Israelis must be aware that the price of their misconduct is paid not only by them but also Jews throughout the world.”

Ms Pollock, as a “guardian” of the holocaust enterprise, has a job to do in promoting the message and defending the memory against detractors. But why make enemies of those who are not? Instead, she might consider taking an educational trip into the occupied Palestinian territories. The holocaust teacher would benefit from becoming a Nakba student for a few days and learning about the Israelis’ evil matrix of control, their theft of Palestinian resources, their strangulation of the Palestinian economy, their frequent air-strikes, the midnight raids of their snatch-squads, the decimation of Gaza’s fishing industry, their imprisonment of children, the obstacles they place in the way of university students and sportsmen and women, their blocking of food, medical and building supplies, the all-round misery and destruction they inflict on everyone, and much, much more.

Only then would she be in a position to advise MPs on comparisons and how appropriate or inappropriate they are.

 

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How US bankrolling Israeli ethnic cleansing of Palestinians destroys all hope of peace

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by michaellee

Will Americans ever acknowledge their government’s active role in destroying the chances for a just and lasting peace between Palestine and Israel?

The top recipient of U.S. foreign aid over the past three decades isn’t some impoverished land filled with starving kids, but a wealthy nation with a per-head gross domestic product on par with the European Union average, and higher than that of Italy, Spain, or South Korea.

This top recipient of such aid — nearly all of it military since 2008 — has been busily engaged in what looks like a nineteenth-century-style colonization project. In the late 1940s, our beneficiary expelled some 700,000 indigenous people from the land it was claiming.  In 1967, our client seized some contiguous pieces of real estate and ever since has been colonizing these territories with nearly 650,000 of its own people. It has divided the conquered lands with myriad checkpoints and roads accessible only to the colonizers and is building a 440-mile wall around (and cutting into) the conquered territory, creating a geography of control that violates international law.

“Ethnic cleansing” is a harsh term, but apt for a situation in which people are driven out of their homes and lands because they are not of the right tribe. Though many will balk at leveling this charge against Israel — for that country is, of course, the top recipient of American aid and especially military largesse — who would hesitate to use the term if, in a mirror-image world, all of this were being inflicted on Israeli Jews?

Arming and bankrolling a wealthy nation acting in this way may, on   its face, seem like terrible policy. Yet American aid has been flowing   to Israel in ever greater quantities. Over the past 60 years, in fact,   Israel has absorbed close to a quarter-trillion dollarsin such aid. Last year alone, Washington sent some $3.1 billion in military aid, supplemented by allocations for collaborative military research and joint training exercises.

Overall, the United States covers nearly one quarter of Israel’s defense budget — from tear gas canisters to F-16 fighter   jets. In their 2008-2009 assault on Gaza, the Israeli Defense Forces made use of M-92 and M-84 “dumb bombs,” Paveway II and JDAM guided “smart bombs,”   AH-64 Apache attack helicopters equipped with AGM-114 Hellfire guided   missiles, M141 “bunker defeat” munitions, and special weapons like   M825A1 155mm white phosphorous munitions — all supplied as American   foreign aid. (Uniquely among Washington’s aid recipients, Israel is also permitted to spend 25% of the military funding from Washington on weapons made by its own weapons industry.)

Why is Washington doing this? The most common answer is the simplest:   Israel is Washington’s “ally.” But the United States has dozens of   allies around the world, none of which are subsidized in anything like   this fashion by American taxpayer dollars. As there is no formal treaty alliance between the two nations and given the lopsided   nature of the costs and benefits of this relationship, a far more   accurate term for Israel’s tie to Washington might be “client state.”

And not a particularly loyal client either. If massive military aid   is supposed to give Washington leverage over Israel (as it normally does   in client-state relationships), it is difficult to detect. In case you   hadn’t noticed, rare is the American diplomatic visit to Israel that is   not greeted with an in-your-face announcement of intensifiedcolonization of Palestinian territory, euphemistically called “settlement expansion.”

A Dishonest Broker

Nothing is equal when it comes to Israelis and Palestinians in the   West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip — and the numbers say it   all. To offer just one example, the death toll from Operation Cast Lead, Israel’s 2008-2009 assault on the Gaza Strip,   was 1,385 Palestinians (the majority of them civilians) and 13   Israelis, three of them civilians.

And yet mainstream opinion in the U.S. insists on seeing the two   parties as essentially equal. Harold Koh, former dean of the Yale Law   School and until recently the top lawyer at the State Department, has   been typical in comparing Washington’s role to “adult supervision” of “a playground populated by   warring switchblade gangs.” It was a particularly odd choice of   metaphors, given that one side is equipped with small arms and rockets   of varying sophistication, the other with nuclear weapons and a   state-of-the-art modern military subsidized by the world’s only   superpower.

Washington’s active role in all of this is not lost on anyone on the   world stage — except Americans, who have declared themselves to be the   even-handed arbiters of a conflict involving endless failed efforts at   brokering a “peace process.” Globally, fewer and fewer observers believe   in this fiction of Washington as a benevolent bystander rather than a   participant heavily implicated in a humanitarian crisis. In 2012, the   widely respected International Crisis Group described the “peace process” as “a collective addiction that serves all manner   of needs, reaching an agreement no longer being the main one.”

The contradiction between military and diplomatic support for one   party in the conflict and the pretense of neutrality cannot be explained   away. “Looked at objectively, it can be argued that American diplomatic   efforts in the Middle East have, if anything, made achieving peace   between Palestinians and Israelis more difficult,” writes Rashid   Khalidi, a historian at Columbia University, and author of Brokers of Deceit: How the U.S. Has Undermined Peace in the Middle East.

Fake Peace Process, Real War Process

Today, Secretary of State John Kerry is leading a push for a renewed   round of the interminable American-led peace process in the region that   has been underway since the mid-1970s.

It’s hardly a bold prediction to   suggest that this round, too, will fail. The Israeli minister of   defense, Moshe Ya’alon, has already publicly mocked Kerry in his quest for peace as “obsessive and messianic” and added   that the newly proposed framework for this round of negotiations is “not   worth the paper it’s printed on.” Other Israeli high officials blasted   Kerry for his mere mention of the potential negative consequences to   Israel of a global boycott if peace is not achieved.

But why shouldn’t Ya’alon and other Israeli officials tee off on the   hapless Kerry? After all, the defense minister knows that Washington   will wield no stick and that bushels of carrots are in the offing,   whether Israel rolls back or redoubles its land seizures and   colonization efforts.

President Obama has boasted that the U.S. has   never given so much military aid to Israel as under his presidency. On   January 29th, the House Foreign Affairs Committee voted unanimously to upgrade Israel’s status to “major strategic partner.”   With Congress and the president guaranteeing that unprecedented levels   of military aid will continue to flow, Israel has no real incentive to   change its behavior.

Usually such diplomatic impasses are blamed on the Palestinians, but   given how little is left to squeeze out of them, doing so this time will   test the creativity of official Washington. Whatever happens, in the   post-mortems to come there will be no discussion in Washington about the   role its own policies played in undermining a just and lasting   agreement.

How much longer will this silence last? The arming and bankrolling of   a wealthy nation committing ethnic cleansing has something to offend   conservatives, progressives, and just about every other political   grouping in America. After all, how often in foreign policy does   strategic self-interest align so neatly with human rights and common   decency?

Intelligent people can and do disagree about a one-state versus a   two-state solution for Israel and Palestine. People of goodwill disagree   about the global BDS campaign. But it is hard to imagine what kind of   progress can ever be made toward a just and lasting settlement between   Israel and Palestine until Washington quits arming one side to the   teeth.

“If it weren’t for U.S. support for Israel, this conflict would have   been resolved a long time ago,” says Josh Ruebner.  Will we Americans   ever acknowledge our government’s active role in destroying the chances   for a just and lasting peace between Palestine and Israel?

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Saudi Arabia: Preparing for aggression?

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87

Recent information from the Saudi Arabia gives sufficient evidence that the Saudis are preparing for a war. Will this be an internal disturbance with the possible involvement of the army, will the Saudi-Iranian hostility transgress into open combat, or will Saudi tanks cross the Syrian borders as the Arabic media predict – even the top officials in Riyadh do not know it yet. Nevertheless, the beginning of this year was heralded by purchases of vast amount of arms, which tripled the country’s military budget.

In addition to American weaponry worth dozens of billion dollars purchased recently (in 2010, the Saudi Ministry of Defense ordered U.S. weapons for a total amount of 60 billion dollars), Riyadh has made the following purchases not so long ago.

It purchased new DF-21 East Wind, mid-range liquid fuel missiles, which are easy to use and have good accuracy, Claudio Gallo writes in his article published on the website of the newspaper La Stampa. The Chinese missiles in the Saudi hands are not the weapon to reverse the situation, but they rather bring more tension into the psychological war, i.e., the type of confrontation that can result in most unpredictable consequences. It should be added that in 2007, the Saudis purchased ballistic missiles – again from China and with assistance of American intelligence agencies, which ensured that the missiles could not be equipped with nuclear warheads.

At the same time, the Saudi Ministry of Defense intends to purchase one hundred patrol boats from Germany for a total amount of 1.4 billion euros, as was reported in Der Spiegel magazine with reference to a confidential letter written by Steffen Kampeter, Germany’s Secretary of State for Finance. In November 2013, it was learned that Saudi Arabia intended to purchase from Germany five Type 209 submarines, with the opportunity to increase the order to 25 vessels. The cost of purchasing this fleet is estimated at 12 billion euros.

Besides this, the story of possible sale of German Leopard 2 tanks is close to realization. The agreement for delivery of the first batch (about 270 vehicles at an estimated cost of 3 billion euros) has already been agreed on, and is now awaiting official approval from the Federal Republic of Germany’s Security Council. According to the Bild newspaper, Riyadh is willing to purchase up to 800 Leopard 2S armored vehicles. This is the version specially designed to suit Saudi requirements, and which has successfully passed testing in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

At the same time, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia began negotiations for the supply of new Al-Khalid main battle tanks and JF-17 Thunder fighter jets to Riyadh. The contract for supply of military hardware may be signed within the framework of a more large-scale agreement on military and scientific cooperation between Islamabad and Riyadh. The exact number of armored vehicles and planes planned for purchase remains unknown.

Meanwhile, it should be noted that all military equipment in Saudi Arabia is maintained by numerous foreign specialists. Of course, these are chiefly Americans who have several military bases here. The missile systems are supervised by Chinese engineers; there are many military personnel from Pakistan in the country, and their numbers will increase as new deliveries come in. German specialists intend to work on the maintenance for their most complicated tanks and even more complicated vehicles, like the submarines. It should be noted that the Saudis are mostly Bedouins, people of the desert, and they fear the sea from their birth. It is interesting as to who will form the crews of these new submarines?

The world press writes in a straightforward way that the Saudis have decided to add a mailed fist to their uncounted wealth. Then there is the question: Why would the Saudis need such military power, when no one is going to attack them, and the Americans have opened their antimissile umbrella over Saudi Arabia long ago?

In addition, the Saudis have almost no combat experience. In fact, back in 2010, Saudi Arabian troops did participate in a military operation in Yemen against rebels, given a simple and comprehensive name of “Scorched Earth”, and in March 2011, Riyadh sent a limited military contingent to Bahrain. This is all we know about Saudi military victories.

However, these detachments may come in handy for creating a large-scale provocation. We must not forget how Prince Bandar ibn Sultan offered his help to the President of Russia V. Putin in ensuring safety for the Sochi Olympiad, referring to the Saudis having full control over terrorist groups. Back then, Putin made them understand that Russia is quite capable of ensuring security at the Olympiad. However, now the Saudi prince may try to play this card again, and organize a provocation during the Olympic Games. By the way, the Arabs have a saying that a Saudi never forgives an offence, just like a camel.

For example, the article by Ahmed Sherkawi entitled “Saudi Arabia is preparing an attack against Syria and the Hezbollah” has recently become one of the most popular articles in the Arabic Internet. The author writes that the Saudis took an irrevocable decision to change the balance of power in the region, discard their old strategy and begin a military campaign (indirect, as it is performed through their puppets) against Syria and the Hezbollah in Lebanon. First of all, implementation of this project will involve regular mercenary armies. In this connection, security experts informed that Saudi and Israeli commanders had been holding a continuous meeting for 10 days already. They are working on developing an agreement for cooperation in the field of security, and the Saudis have already promised to grant the Israeli Air Force the right of passage over their territory if they decide to ‘solve’ the Iranian problem.

Other media reports suggest development of plans to attack the capital of Syria, Damascus, during the Sochi Olympiad, as well as different important military facilities in Syria; preparations for aggression in Lebanon, intending to strike the Hezbollah, are underway. In Lebanon itself, the fifth column is getting ready for action under the guise of the “March 14 Movement”. Activities of these powers are coordinated by Ashraf Rifi.

Moreover, Dr. Navaf Ubayad, advisor to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, informed the Western press about details of a plan to form two new Saudi armies. The first army will be formed from the kingdom’s citizens, while the second will include foreigners, primarily from Morocco, Yemen and Jordan. The two armies will be used in various regional conflicts, and first of all in the aggressive campaign against Syria.

On this subject, Syria’s Minister of Information Omran az-Zoubi has put things quite succinctly: “The same powers are behind the acts of terror in Syria, Iraq, and Russia. If some party has billions of dollars to spend, this does not mean that it can go unpunished for staging terrorist attacks here and there.” In this case, he meant the current rulers of Saudi Arabia.

Konstantin Orlov, political observer, exclusively for the online magazine New Eastern Outlook.

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Naim Abbas: From an Admirer of Hezbollah to its Sworn Enemy

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by: Uprooted Palestinians
Lebanese soldiers in the Corniche al-Mazraa neighborhood where Naim Abbas was found. (Photo: Marwan Tahtah)

The man who has more than one nickname (Abu Ismail and Abu Sleiman), and who is described by security agencies as an unparalleled “security mastermind and executor”, is now in the hands of the army’s intelligence directorate. The security community could hardly believe the news and the Islamist community is in shock. Suddenly, Abbas collapsed and confessed, in a record time of four hours, to dangerous information that he knew of and that thwarted more than one plan of suicide bombers and rocket shelling before they happened.
Abbas was kicked out of the Abdullah Azzam Brigades about a year ago. He stayed away from Sheikh Tawfiq Taha, known as Abu Mohammed, due to internal organizational disagreements. A few months ago, he swore allegiance to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and began to work for the al-Qaeda affiliated group, but he was not connected to the ISIS branch declared by the so-called Abu Sayyaf al-Ansari weeks ago. Islamist sources reveal that his relationship was directly with the organization’s leadership in Iraq.

Naim Abbas, 43, is a famous name in the world of terrorism and jihad. He is a leading figure in the Ain al-Hilweh refugee camp whose name comes up whenever prominent leaders such as Tawfiq Taha, Majed al-Majed, Usama al-Shihabi and others are mentioned. The name resurfaced last month when Sheikh Omar al-Atrash was arrested, who was accused of taking suicide bombers to Dahiyeh. His name was mentioned that day as Abu Sleiman who owns a warehouse on the outskirts of Dahiyeh where the car bombs are parked before they head to their target. Prior to that, he worked in the shadows and shied away from the media. It has also been speculated that he has been behind rocket attacks on Israel and attacks on UNIFIL troops.

His name came up in 2009 in the confessions of Fadi Ibrahim, known as al-Sikmo, who said that Abbas was involved in the assassination of the army chief of operations, Major General Francois al-Hajj in 2007. Nevertheless, the archives of the security agencies had only two old photographs of Abbas. One is more than 20 years old and the second is more than eight years old in which he appears sitting on a motorcycle in Ain al-Hilweh.
Abbas, who left the Islamic Jihad movement years ago to work with al-Qaeda, is a man of few words. Despite his record-setting speedy confession, everyone who met him agrees that he is a master at the art of silence. He exhibits little knowledge of a situation but his enthusiasm sometimes exposes him.
For a while, he stopped using a cell phone for security reasons but he went back to carrying one out of necessity. He started changing his number from time to time. The young man who admired Hezbollah in the past, now considers the “Shia party” his sworn enemy. He throws accusations against “the party that stood by the oppressive Syrian regime against the oppressed people,” and is proud of his affiliation with al-Qaeda.
It is not confirmed which exact piece of information led to Naim’s arrest. It is being circulated that the terrorist, who also faced an attempt of assassination by the Israeli enemy in 2010 by explosives, had been followed closely by the army’s intelligence directorate. Security sources reveal that the content of the recordings and eavesdrop on communications among other proofs, as well as the shock of the arrest, are the reasons that brought on his quick confession.

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Anti-imperialist youth meet in Ecuador

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Proletarian issue 58 (February 2014)
World Festival brings together militant young people from all over the world and strengthens the fight for liberation and socialism.
Comrades from Red Youth and the CPGB-ML had the pleasure of taking part in the 18th World Festival of Youth and Students in Quito, Ecuador last December. We had the privilege of meeting young revolutionaries from all over the world, and youth from imperialist countries such as Britain had the opportunity to learn about the struggles in countries oppressed by global capitalism, as well as to hear about the inspiring progress of socialist and progressive countries along with revolutionary parties.Since the last festival in 2010 in South Africa, the world has seen many atrocious wars of aggression in the name of capitalist ‘democracy’, such as the destruction of Libya and the invasion of Syria by US-backed terrorists. A full-scale invasion of Syria by imperialist forces has thankfully been averted so far, due to the heroic resistance of the Syrian armed forces and people, along with their Lebanese, Iranian and Iraqi allies, and Russia’s deft diplomacy.

Eight-and-a-half thousand participants from 80 countries attended the event, which was fully supported by the Ecuadorian government.

Since taking presidential office in 2007, Rafael Correa has brought Ecuador into the forefront of the progressive tide in Latin America, increasing social spending and national control over vital industries such as mining and oil production, resulting in unemployment and poverty rates dropping substantially.

The atmosphere in Quito was friendly and inviting – a reflection of the development of socialist values in the country, which are contributing to the transformation of society.

The festival consisted of several days of workshops, conferences and seminars on a variety of subjects, mostly regarding struggles against imperialist oppressors and native capitalist ruling classes, while also discussing how successful revolutionary movements are formed and built to become a force for change in the world.

The most important aspect for us in attending the festival was the opportunity to discuss pressing issues in our movement, and what can be done both internationally and nationally, as well as the role of parties in imperialist countries in the anti-imperialist struggle. We were able to speak about the latter topic extensively with the youth wing of the Worker’s World Party (FIST – Fight Imperialism, Stand Together), as well as important current issues in the United States, such as abortion rights, the rights of undocumented migrants, hate crimes and police brutality.

We discussed the effects of revisionism in the European left with the youth section from the Kommunistiska Partiet (Sweden’s communist party), as well as party-building tactics and the general issues faced in Europe, such as the rise of fascist groups, unemployment and the economic effects of the capitalist crisis on the working class.

We also spoke with Canadian comrades from the Employee Action and Rights Network about the rights of workers and the role of unions, both in Canada and in Britain. We’ve seen here the extent to which our unions have failed us in protecting workers from zero-hour contracts, low pay and constant job losses, while in Canada the struggle to create a unionised workforce remains key.

The issue of the popular uprising in Gezi Park, in the Turkish city of Istanbul, was the main focus of our talks with the Communist Party of Turkey (TKP). The uprising has caused the party’s membership to double, and has led to an awakening of the political consciousness of many Turkish people.

We have also seen popular uprisings in Britain, such as the 2010 student protests and the 2011 youth uprisings – both of which were responses to the effects of the capitalist crisis and the increasingly reactionary and repressive actions of the British government. Being able to compare the events and the levels of political awareness among the youth of our respective countries was interesting and insightful.

We were also able to speak with the Syrian delegation about the imperialist involvement in the aggression against their country, and to get their perspective on the actions of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and similar groups.

They explained that these groups are no more than terrorists, funded by nations like the US and Britain through Saudi Arabia and Qatar – monarchist states that depend on imperialism to prop up the anachronistic arrangements that see obscene amounts of the wealth flow into the coffers of their bloated royal families. The incursion of these terrorists, who are mostly non-Syrian and not fighters in a popular uprising, as is so often claimed, has taken a great toll on the Syrian people, who are fighting so hard for their right to self-determination and for independence from any manifestation of imperialist control.

The solidarity expressed by revolutionaries from across the world was inspiring and reinforced our resolve to fight for a world free from imperialism and capitalist oppression. Representing a truly Marxist-Leninist party in Britain was a vital and rewarding effort and we were overwhelmed by the warm and positive responses from people directly suffering from the actions of the British state, who are so eager and hopeful to build a better world for all.

We worked hard to form good relationships with both Marxist-Leninist and national-liberation organisations from across the world and our literature was very well received – hopefully helping to counter the reactionary poison spread internationally by Britain’s revisionists and Trotskyites.

The festival was an inspirational, educational, and vital exercise in true international solidarity, and we look forward to continued good relations with the progressive and revolutionary peoples of the world, who we join in the struggle to unite the working class and free ourselves from the chains of capitalism and imperialism!

Posted in South AmericaComments Off on Anti-imperialist youth meet in Ecuador

Korea: front line between socialism and imperialism

NOVANEWS
Proletarian issue 58 (February 2014)
The DPRK’s struggle for peace and reunification is an anti-imperialist fight that needs and deserves international solidarity.

 

The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) has entered 2014 determined to continue defending and building socialism, and to continue the anti-imperialist struggle for peace and reunification on the Korean peninsula.

These and other themes were highlighted in the New Year address of the country’s leader, Comrade Kim Jong Un, who declared that: “we are seeing in the New Year 2014 filled with confidence in the future and revolutionary self-respect …

“Last year was a proud year, in which the entire party, the whole army and all the people waged an all-out offensive in support of the party’s new line of developing the two fronts simultaneously [of nuclear defence and developing the economy – Ed] and thus achieved brilliant successes in building a thriving socialist country and defending socialism.”

Comrade Kim Jong Un referred to the tense situation that prevailed earlier in 2013, when US and south Korean war exercises simulated an invasion and nuclear attack on the north, and made a bold appeal to the authorities in south Korea and all sections of the Korean nation to once again take the road of national reconciliation, saying:

“To resolve the reunification issue in keeping with the aspirations and desires of our fellow countrymen, we should reject foreign forces and hold fast to the standpoint of ‘By our nation itself’.

“The driving force for national reunification is all the members of the Korean nation in the north, in the south and abroad; only when we remain steadfast in this standpoint can we reunify the country independently in line with our nation’s interests and demands. To go on a tour around foreign countries touting for ‘international cooperation’ in resolving the inter-Korean relations issue, the one related with our nation, is a humiliating treachery of leaving its destiny in the hands of outside forces.” [Here Comrade Kim Jong Un refers to the public statements made by the south Korean president last year in the course of her state visits to a number of countries, including Britain – Ed.]

Comrade Kim Jong Un made clear that his proposals for peace and reconciliation were made against a background of the danger of imperialist war – a threat to which the DPRK will not bow, but rather will militantly resist:

“The US and south Korean war maniacs have deployed legions of equipment for a nuclear war in and around the Korean peninsula and are going frantic in their military exercises for a nuclear war against the north; this precipitates a critical situation where any accidental military skirmish may lead to an all-out war.

“Should another war break out on this land, it will result in a deadly nuclear catastrophe and the United States will never be safe. All the Korean people must not tolerate the manoeuvres for war and confrontation by the bellicose forces at home and abroad but stoutly resist and frustrate them …

“It is heartrending to see our nation partitioned by foreign forces, and it is more intolerable to see one side slinging mud at and showing hostility to the other. This will serve merely as an occasion for the forces that are undesirous of seeing one Korea to fish in troubled waters.

“It is high time to put an end to such slander and calumny that bring no good to both sides, and they should desist from doing anything detrimental to national unity and reconciliation. The south Korean authorities should discontinue the reckless confrontation with their compatriots and the racket against the ‘followers of the north’, and choose to promote inter-Korean relations in response to the call of the nation for independence, democracy and national reunification.

“We will join hands with anyone who opts to give priority to the nation and wishes for its reunification, regardless of his or her past, and continue to strive for better inter-Korean relations …

“Last year, in the international arena, the imperialists persisted in interference and war moves threatening the independence of other sovereign states and the right of mankind to existence.

“Especially the Korean peninsula, the hottest spot in the world, was in a hair-trigger situation due to the hostile forces’ manoeuvres for a nuclear war against the DPRK, which posed a serious threat to peace and security in the region and the rest of the world.

“Nothing is more precious for our people than peace, but it is not something that can be achieved if we simply crave and beg for it. We can never just sit back with folded arms and see the dark clouds of a nuclear war against us hovering over the Korean peninsula. We will defend our country’s sovereignty, peace and dignity by relying on our powerful self-defensive strength.”

Following the New Year address of Comrade Kim Jong Un, the DPRK has advanced a number of further proposals to ease the situation, including for reunion meetings of members of families separated by the partition of the country.

But as a statement issued by the DPRK’s National Defence Commission (NDC) on 17 January noted, the United States and south Korea are once again planning to stage massive military exercises simulating and rehearsing a war on the north from the end of February. It is reported that this year the exercises will be among the biggest for several decades and will specifically rehearse an attack on the DPRK’s capital, Pyongyang.

Proposing that exercises explicitly targeting the DPRK be called off, the NDC statement suggests to the south Korean side:

If the ‘coordination’ and ‘cooperation’ with the US are so precious and valuable, they should rather hold the exercises in a secluded area or in the US, far away from the territorial land, sea and air of the Korean peninsula.

The statement continues:

The denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula is a goal common to the nation … 

The possession of nuclear weapons and the pursuance of the line on simultaneously pushing forward economic construction and the build-up of a nuclear force are a treasured sword common to the nation and the most just option for self-defence which aims at ending the nuclear threat and blackmail against all Koreans by the US and envisages the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula and the rest of the world alike.

Our nuclear force serves as a means for deterring the US from posing a nuclear threat. It will never be a means for blackmailing the fellow countrymen and doing harm to them.

We courteously propose to the south side not to resort to reckless acts of bringing dangerous nuclear strike means of the US to south Korea and to areas around it …

It is the stand of the DPRK to resolutely break with the double-dealing stand of tolerating the nuclear weapons of outsiders which are harmful to the fellow countrymen while denying the nuclear weapons of fellow countrymen which protect the nation.

The DPRK’s proposals for peace, reconciliation and reunification need and deserve the support and solidarity of the working-class movement and all anti-imperialists.

They will certainly meet with opposition and resistance from imperialist and reactionary forces. Besides the planned aggressive military exercises, in a coordinated pincer movement, a report of a so-called ‘commission of enquiry’ into human rights in the DPRK, set up by the United Nations Human Rights Council, and fronted by an Australian judge, Justice Kirby, is due to present its supposed findings on the internet in mid-February, with a formal launch in Geneva on 17 March.

Consisting solely of uncorroborated and unsubstantiated assertions made by politically hostile defectors and renegades, and ignoring the consistent and stalwart efforts of the DPRK since its foundation to defend and promote the most vital human rights – such as those to food, clothing and shelter – for all of its people and in the teeth of more than six decades of sanctions and blockades, and the threat of nuclear war, it is widely reported that the imperialist powers will seek referral of the report to both the UN Security Council and the International Criminal Court.

The lurid fairy tales about a brainwashed and terrorised people who were forced to cry when their leader Kim Jong Il died two years ago is just an example of the kind of black propaganda and lies that Kirby’s report will unleash.

Faced with such a barrage of lies and war propaganda, progressive people must keep in mind that it is but a variation of a theme habitually used against any force in history that stands for progress and the promotion of human liberation, from the bourgeois French revolution of 1789 to the great proletarian revolution of October 1917 and right through to the specious justifications for contemporary predatory wars of aggression against Yugoslavia, Iraq, Libya, Syria and other countries.

The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea must be resolutely supported and defended come what may.

Hands off Korea!

Posted in North KoreaComments Off on Korea: front line between socialism and imperialism

Delhi voters install anti-corruption chief minister

NOVANEWS
Proletarian issue 58 (February 2014)
But it remains to be seen how much impact a reforming capitalist politician can have, when the system itself thrives off and breeds the corruption he is trying to fight.

 

 

The struggle against India’s notorious corruption received a kick-start in Delhi at the end of December with the electoral victory of the Aam Aadmi (Common Man) Party in local state elections. Completely unexpectedly, the AAP received 30 percent of the votes and, although this was a bit less than the main opposition BJP received, the Congress Party allied with AAP to enable the latter to form the Delhi administration and appoint its leader, Arvind Kejriwal, as Delhi’s new Chief Minister.

The AAP’s basic programme is to rid India of corruption. Within a week of taking the helm, three Delhi officials who had been filmed by television reporters taking bribes were summarily suspended.

Kejriwal has over the last 15 years been campaigning against corruption and the extravagant lifestyles of elected politicians. His victory has reignited hope that it will be possible to dismantle the bureaucratic red tape that only bribery can disentangle in order to bring conditions for doing business in India into line with what is expected in the modern world.

The AAP is intending to stand candidates in most constituencies in the next parliamentary elections, most likely in May this year.

Corruption, however, is deeply embedded in every corner of the Indian state system. This was shown by the facts surrounding another high-profile rape case that occurred in Kolkata (Calcutta) a couple of months ago.

A 16-year-old girl, the daughter of a taxi driver, was twice gang-raped by the same six men – the second time as a ‘punishment’ for her having reported the first rape to the police. Following this, the six men were left at large and continuously threatened the family, including making death threats against the girl’s father, yet no move was made to arrest or charge them.

Finally, towards the end of December, two of the the gang broke into her home while she was there alone and set fire to her, as a result of which she died.

The rapists were from relatively well-off families linked to West Bengal’s ruling party, the Trinamool (Grassroots) Congress, and as a result both the local government and the police acted to protect them. One can only hope that as a result of all the publicity the case has now received this immunity will now come to an end – for this particular group of criminals, at least.

Embedded corruption ensures that the majority of rapists in India can get away with it since they can always buy their way out of trouble – provided, of course, that their victim is poor. Despite all the horror of the Delhi rape case a year ago and the death sentences meted out to the perpetrators of the victim’s dastardly murder, reported rape cases in Delhi have not decreased but have, on the contrary, actually doubled!

On 1 November 2013, Dean Nelson of the Daily Telegraph reported that “According to new government figures there have been 1,330 rapes in Delhi in the 10 months since January compared with 706 for the whole of 2012.

It is no wonder that the ‘common man’ of India yearns for freedom from corruption, but it remains to be seen how much can actually be achieved without proletarian revolution, since capitalism always and everywhere breeds corruption and no country with a capitalist economy is free of it.

Posted in IndiaComments Off on Delhi voters install anti-corruption chief minister

Turkey: Erdogan’s AKP in deep trouble

NOVANEWS
Proletarian issue 58 (February 2014)
 
The Turkish PM is exposed over Syria, embroiled in a corruption scandal, and now faces challenges from communist and progressive forces in the upcoming elections.

 

The last year has been a decidedly turbulent one for Turkey. The country has witnessed mass demonstrations by workers and progressives against war, and an uprising last summer that shook the political status quo to its foundations. Now that imperialism’s plans for the speedy occupation of Syria lie in tatters, it seems as though the would-be thieves’ accomplices in Turkey are falling out amongst themselves.

December and January saw a spectacular series of accusations and arrests centred around the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) amid numerous charges of corruption and scandal.

Increased political infighting amongst Turkey’s political ruling classes, and a crisis of supreme proportions for the government are no longer brewing but rather are in full motion. Prime Minister Erdogan’s AKP and its highest echelons have come under fire from a wide-ranging corruption investigation and Erdogan himself has hit back by arresting the investigating officers, dismissing ministers and throwing out claims that he is the victim of forces that seek to undermine Turkey.

The AKP government, and its plans for a ‘new Ottoman empire’ were built upon a coalition with powerful business forces and a particular section of Turkey’s rising bourgeoisie who did not share the outlook of the then rather dated and weary Kemalist Republican People’s Party (CHP).

Since every class needs an ideology with which to justify its actions, this aspirational, resourceful section of Turkish bourgeois society subscribes to a particular selection of conservative cultural attitudes that are shaped by a supposedly moderate islamic right whose leadership is firmly in the pay of US imperialism.

A myriad of islamic charitable and religious organisations – with connections to some of the most reprehensible and murderous servants of US imperialism in the region – have been significant backers of the AKP and Erdogan, both before and since their rise to power. This group has worked to position Turkey at the heart of the operations to topple both the Libyan and Syrian anti-imperialist governments, and it continues to obstinately push for a return to power of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.

All this whilst a myriad of organisations, trusts, cartels and individuals – closely linked to Erdogan – have lined their pockets in the years since his election in 2003, during which time Turkish GDP has nearly quadrupled.

Accusations of corruption

The latest accusations of corruption stem from a police investigation into the financial dealings of Erdogan and many of those closest to him, and reportedly focus on bribery, corruption and gold smuggling.

Of the high-profile resignations and arrests, two – the economic minister Zafer Caglayan and interior minister Muammer Guler – have sons who are also in jail awaiting trial on corruption charges. Incredibly, Mr Guler, as the interior minister (and therefore also head of the police), was ultimately responsible for investigating his own son! Guler Jr was discovered to have a number of strong boxes in his home, along with a telling machine similar to those found in banks – apparently to enable him to count the vast quantities of cash he has been accused of appropriating.

The Financial Times of 26 December wrote that the Turkish prime minister has finally lost his “aura of invincibility”:

The prime minister’s troubles started just over a week ago when prosecutors launched a raid on the homes of prominent civil servants and businessmen. Among those taken in for questioning were the sons of three prominent cabinet ministers – two of whom are still in detention. The most startling arrest was the head of the state-controlled Halkbank, who was allegedly discovered with $4.5m in cash tucked away in shoeboxes in his library.

The revelations were a shock for a government accustomed to getting its way. Since Mr Erdogan came to power in 2003, he has succeeded at taming the country’s powerful military while sidelining dissenting newspaper columnists …

After appearing caught off-guard, Mr Erdogan has since gone on the offensive. He dismissed the investigation as a political vendetta against him. Meanwhile, police were taken off the case, new prosecutors were appointed and the ministers who were in the direct line of fire were asked to step down. Like trees in the forest, these dismissals were concealed in an overall cabinet shake-up in which ten new ministers were installed.

In the past, Mr Erdogan has been able to rally his political base as a champion of public morality, talking up his opposition to abortions and caesarean sections and even opposing male and female university students sharing the same flat.

But it is not clear that this lockdown strategy will have the intended effect. One public prosecutor, Muammer Akkas, was in open rebellion on Thursday, issuing a press statement accusing his superiors of a dereliction of office by refusing to carry out a new wave of search and seizures.

‘All my colleagues and the public should be aware that I, as a public prosecutor, have been prevented from carrying out an investigation,’” Mr Akkas said.

In a later report, the FT noted:

The resignation of [a] third cabinet member, urbanisation and environment minister Erdogan Bayraktar … may prove most damaging. Mr Bayraktar, a political ally of the prime minister since Mr Erdogan became mayor of Istanbul in 1994, made clear he would not go quietly.

He said he was under pressure to resign and, furthermore, to issue a statement that would not put pressure on the prime minister. He added that everything he had done had been with Mr Erdogan’s knowledge.

‘I declare my resignation from parliament, and as a minister,’ Mr Bayraktar said. ‘However, I also believe that to make the people more comfortable, the prime minister should also resign.’

Mr Bayraktar’s comments must have caused Erdogan some considerable pain, “With friends like these …”!

War in Syria

Readers may well ask themselves how on earth the situation has spiralled so far out of control for Erdogan. But while it is true that an alliance between the AKP and various right-wing organisations has remained seemingly strong since 2003, with the abject failure of the plans for Turkish involvement in the occupation and looting of Syria, is it to be wondered that the various members of this unholy alliance of reactionaries are now going for each other’s throats?

The AKP received support and funding precisely because it was able to package itself as a force that was capable of delivering Turkey on a plate for finance capital. And, true to its word, since coming to power the AKP has eroded workers’ rights, sold off publicly-owned utilities, companies and services, and been at the centre of a number of attempts to topple legitimate governments, including that of Muammar Gaddafi.

All this has been justified under the cover of a supposed ‘moderate Islam’, based on conservative attitudes that are used as a cover for imperialism’s dirty role in the party’s shenanigans.

Whilst attacking workers at home, the AKP has been attempting to position Turkey in a pivotal regional position, so as to serve imperialism better by being able to decisively influence affairs of international significance – not least in Iran, Libya, Egypt and Syria, as well as even further afield.

But all this has been brought to naught as a result of two converging forces: first, the heroic Syrian people’s resistance to imperialist interference in their own country; and second, the courageous resistance of the Turkish masses to such brazen and reckless warmongering and craven and corrupt manoeuvring on the part of Erdogan and his backers.

Much credit must be given to the role played by the progressive and revolutionary workers’ organisations in Turkey, who have not gone the way of their less-worthy European counterparts in capitulation to revisionism and class collaboration (of which more anon).

Cemaat

One organisation in particular appears intrinsically linked to the AKP and its plans for the ‘new Ottoman empire’; all the recent articles and press stories on Turkey document the power struggle that is presently raging between the AKP and a group known as Cemaat.

Cemaat (a colloquial name meaning ‘the community’) is led by Turkish islamic scholar Fetullah Gulen. The organisation – if it can called an organisation, for its structure is very loose and indistinct – possesses a considerable portfolio of outlets around the world: schools, businesses, charities and real estate, including here in Britain, where it operates a number of ‘faith schools’.

In Turkey, alongside all its other holdings, Cemaat reportedly controls Zaman, one of the big national daily newspapers. Cemaat’s leader, spiritualist and overall mover-and-shaker is Fetullah Gulen, who lives in self-imposed exile in the United States.

An article in the New York Times neatly summarised what are now being portrayed as ‘differences of principle’ between Fetullah Gulen and Cemaat on the one hand, and Erdogan’s faction within the AKP on the other:

Following much the same strategy he employed as he battled thousands of mostly liberal and secular-minded anti-government protesters this summer over a development project in a beloved Istanbul park [It is worth noting that one very significant part in the current crisis is the corruption scandal that links Erdogan and his close allies with powerful construction bosses in Istanbul – Ed], Mr Erdogan is portraying himself as fighting a ‘criminal gang’ with links abroad.[i/]

That is an apparent reference to Fethullah Gulen, the Pennsylvania imam who adheres to a mystical brand of sufi Islam and whose followers are said to occupy important positions in Turkey’s national government, including the police and judiciary but also in education, the news media and business.

Mr Erdogan and Mr Gulen have disagreed on a number of important issues in recent years, although the tensions were kept largely silent.

Mr Gulen was said to have opposed the government’s activist foreign policy in the Middle East, especially its support of the rebels in Syria. He is also said to be more sympathetic to Israel, and tensions flared after the Mavi Marmara episode in 2010. That was when [a href=”http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/01/world/middleeast/01flotilla.html” target=”_blank” title=”Times article”]Israeli troops boarded a Turkish ship[/a] carrying aid for Gaza and killed eight Turks and one American of Turkish descent, leading eventually to a rupture in relations — since patched up — between Turkey and its onetime ally.

Mr Gulen’s followers ‘never approved the role the government tried to attain in the Middle East, or approved of its policy in Syria, which made everything worse, or its attitude in the Mavi Marmara crisis with Israel,’ said Ali Bulac, a conservative intellectual and writer who supports Mr Gulen.

The escalating political crisis, experts say, underscores the power Mr Gulen has accumulated within the Turkish state. That power threatens to divide Mr Erdogan’s core constituency of religious conservatives ahead of a series of elections over the next 18 months.

Erdogan has now accused Cemaat of seeking to create a “state within a state”, whilst Gulen has declared in a video recording: “Those who don’t see the thief but go after those trying to catch the thief; who don’t see the murder but try to defame others by accusing innocent people – let God bring fire to their houses, ruin their homes, break their unities.”

Quite clearly, the powers that be are reconsidering who is best able to take forward imperialism’s programme in the region. Such suspicions were all but spelled out in a report by Daniel Domby and Piotr Zalewski in the Financial Times shortly before Christmas:

In comments that appeared aimed at Francis Ricciardone, the US ambassador to Turkey, Mr Erdogan warned foreign envoys against meddling, adding: ‘We do not have to keep you in our country.’

In response to a campaign in the pro-government press linking Mr Ricciardone to the investigation, the US embassy has strongly denied any connection, adding: ‘No one should put Turkey-US relations in danger with unfounded claims.’

The embassy has specifically denied pro-government media reports that Mr Ricciardone discussed Halkbank’s links with Iran at a supposed meeting last week with EU ambassadors – a meeting that both US and European officials say never took place.

An article in the July 2013 edition of Lalkar, which specifically dealt with the question of the Syrian situation and the Gezi Park uprising, gave an appraisal that gathers more weight with each passing month:

Animosity towards Erdogan’s Syrian policy threatens to bring together many of the forces which had previously been divided and picked off one by one. 

Where is Turkey’s national dignity if she is to be reduced to no more than a crude tool of imperialist policy in the Middle East? Where is Turkey’s secular tradition if her foreign policy is to be tailored to the needs of islamist rebels dedicated to the jihadist overthrow of Syria’s own secular state? 

The urgent arrival of such burning questions has confronted the government with the horrendous possibility of seeing all its enemies – Kemalist, socialist and democratic – out on the street in a common front of resistance, unravelling all Erdogan’s worst efforts to keep his critics divided amongst themselves.

It may have seemed to Erdogan a couple of years ago that he could pull off a cheap foreign-policy coup by offering Turkey’s services to the counter-revolution in Syria, backing what his imperialist masters confidently assured him would prove to be the winning side and paving the way for a much-touted ‘post-Assad future’, in which Ankara (and in particular the islamist AKP) would have a greatly inflated role in the Middle East.

Two years on, with the rebels and their backers retreating and splitting whilst the Syrian army advances in firm defence of the country’s sovereignty, he might be forgiven for entertaining doubts. 

It is Ankara that has conspired to destabilise Turkey’s progressive and anti-imperialist neighbour. In so doing, however, it has destabilised Turkey itself, threatening to bring the whole house down around Erdogan’s ears.”(‘Turkey: war and economic crisis destabilise Erdogan’)

Communists and progressives prepare for the polls

Fortunately for the Turkish working class, a militant and well-organised proletarian movement exists in the country, and has done a very real and tangible job of defending the Turkish workers and their class interests since Erdogan came to power in 2003 – and over the past year in particular.

Large, militant demonstrations against the positioning of patriot missiles and against war with Syria were held last year, and the wholesale rejection of the AKP was very clear in the spontaneous uprisings that resulted from the Gezi Park protests.

Rather than decrying these protests and the violence that ensued, the Communist Party of Turkey (TKP) and its members threw themselves into the fight alongside other revolutionary, patriotic and progressive forces, and against the reactionary AKP government.

This year and next will see a number of important elections in Turkey, and progressive forces will be going to the polls in an attempt to bring down the current corrupt regime of Recep Tayyip Erdogan and expose the entire sham of the Turkish bourgeois dictatorship.

In the little town of Defne, which is near to Reyhanli and close to the Syrian border (Reyhanli was the town which was the victim of a bomb attack in 2013, and which Erdogan tried to blame on President Assad), Sevra Baklaci, a journalist originally from Hatay but reporting from Damascus for the newspaper Sol (Left), will stand as a candidate firmly opposed to Erdogan’s warmongering in Syria, with the support of the TKP and local peace activists and progressive forces.

A statement issued by the TKP in January makes the following observations on the Cemaat–AKP rift, and puts forward a programme of action based on a clear appraisal of the current crisis:

It has become clear that Turkey cannot be contained within the AKP regime. The AKP regime’s anti-people, religionist, pro-capital and collaborationist character has been rejected by all the dynamic sections of Turkish society.

The rejection of the AKP regime by our people, the failure of AKP’s Syria policies, which relied on the overthrowing of the Baath government by foreign intervention, have pushed the imperialist powers and the bourgeoisie of Turkey into a pursuit for an alternative to Erdogan, whom they had supported from early on.

The fight between Gulen’s movement and Erdogan is the result of that pursuit, and it is part of a much wider political crisis.

Led by the US, the imperialist countries and the capitalist class, while looking for an alternative to Erdogan, are also trying to find a formula that will guarantee the continuation of the main characteristics of the AKP regime, which have been beneficial for their interests.

The political future of Turkey will be determined by that quest of the international and local monopolies and the struggle between the main actors of the AKP regime on the one hand, and the position to be taken and the subsequent struggle to be waged by the popular and political forces against the AKP regime on the other.

Instead of trying to guess what will be the result of this complicated and chaotic process, we need to take steps to put more weight – in the name of Turkey’s working class and by fostering the power of the organised people further – to shift that power onto the political scene.

The idea that the liquidation of the AKP at the hands of the Gulen movement or an AKP without Erdogan will solve the problems of Turkey should be fought against in order to stop its spread among the people. 

The future of Turkey can’t be left to the result of the competition between two reactionary religionist camps.

Any strategy that relies on the thesis that Erdogan or the Gulen movement can be preferred over the other should be rejected … 

The collaboration of the AKP regime with imperialism, its religious reaction and market fascism is a totality which cannot be handled or struggled against piece by piece.

This clear and concise statement by the TKP goes on to list a number of demands to which the popular, progressive forces of Turkey should be won. The demands include the dismissal of the government and all the prosecutors and judges who have over the last few years prepared indictments for political trials, as well as the release of all those incarcerated as a result of such political trials.

The statement makes clear throughout that the Turkish masses have absolutely nothing to gain from imperialism’s criminal adventure in Syria, and that their problems at home can only be dealt with in a resolute fight against the forces of monopoly capitalism.

Posted in TurkeyComments Off on Turkey: Erdogan’s AKP in deep trouble

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