Archive | July 31st, 2016

This Is What Progressives — Especially Labor — Can Learn From Bernie Sanders’ Campaign


By David Moberg

Bernie supporters demonstrate outside of the Democratic National Convention, July 28, 2016.Bernie supporters demonstrate outside of the Democratic National Convention, July 28, 2016. (Photo: Saundi Wilson / Flickr)

If the Democratic National Convention is not sufficiently amusing in its own right — following a week of Republicans wracked by self-centered dissent and absenteeism, plagiarism from Michelle Obama and the specter of Lucifer guiding Hillary Clinton — you can enliven the evenings with an educational game: What would these conventions be like if Bernie Sanders were the Democratic candidate?

That question may be especially instructive for union members and supporters who saw him as the most pro-labor major candidate in ages. Even if Sanders is never a presidential candidate again, what could labor political strategists learn from his campaign that might strengthen their hand in the next round?

After all, he was one of the most pro-union and progressive members of Congress. And, despite his lack of widespread public recognition, he ran a very strong campaign against one of the best-known women in the world and the darling of both party insiders and wealthy contributors.

Moreover, Sanders did it by mobilizing small contributors and grassroots activists, bringing movement methods to an electoral campaign. He told supporters that real change came from their organizing and forcefully pressing their demands, not simply trusting leaders or emulating Republican fundraising and hoping that it would not result in Republican-like policies. Labeling his program as socialist did not seem to hurt Sanders much and even helped him with a remarkably large number of voters, especially the younger ones.

Although there are problems comparing results that lump primary and general election votes together, it’s still remarkable that Sanders received more than 13 million votes in the primaries — the most won in terms of either percentage or absolute numbers by any socialist in American history.

His campaign suggests that more progressives, even identifying as socialists, could run for offices and win, not by hiding their views but by clearly articulating them.

Sanders provided a coherent, persuasive account of what had gone wrong in recent decades for the vast majority of Americans, as the power and wealth of the top 1 percent grew enormously. He described contemporary America in terms of a political class conflict centered on a clash between the narrow elite and an alliance of working class and middle class voters on economic as well as social issues.

He also appealed to voters at all levels of education, providing an effective challenge to the right-wing “populism” that Donald Trump seems to be using so effectively to pull increasing numbers of white, working class voters — even union members — away from the Democrats.

“The Democratic Party would be well advised to listen to the Bernie Sanders’ campaign,” said United Steelworkers International President Leo Gerard.

Gerard admires Sanders’ straightforward talk about socialism.

“Bernie’s agenda is a vision that could create a better America,” he said. “One of my criticisms of the labor movement is that we take on one fight at a time, not comprehensive issues.”

Change From within

Sanders tried to demonstrate how a combination of policies he advocated and popular engagement could solve problems people readily recognize. By doing so within the Democratic Party, his proposals more readily gained some legitimacy or seemed safer to many voters.

Although Sanders had steadfastly refused to run as a Democrat throughout his career, he caucused with them for purposes of organizing House affairs and formulating Congressional Progressive Caucus strategy. Now, ironically, he came close to demonstrating the possibilities for socialists to win through Democratic primaries.

But, especially if self-identified socialists or progressives make up only a minority in a mass, moderately social democratic party (like the Democrats), they need an organization of their own within the party. Such a group might resemble a socialist version of the liberal Americans for Democratic Action that was a strong influence in the years after World War II, or democratic socialist Michael Harrington’s Democratic Agenda, which started in 1976. It could operate when needed outside of Democratic Party strictures to mobilize support for left-wing strategies.

In recent decades, there have been challengers to the Democratic establishment with different approaches and different organizational legacies: Think of the various campaigns outside the Democratic Party by Ralph Nader and Barry Commoner in progressive third parties, or the maverick third-party effort of businessman Ross Perot that criticized trade agreements like NAFTA in ways that appealed to elements of both parties, or Rev. Jesse Jackson’s campaigns for president within the Democratic Party.

The Green Party, which can typically count on about 1 percent of presidential votes, supported Nader, but the vehicle for Commoner — the Citizens Party — soon faded, as did Perot’s party after a second failed bid. Jackson never devoted the energy to make his National Rainbow Coalition into a strong organization either within or outside the Democratic Party, but it provided him a national platform.

Although most of these attempts did not succeed in creating vital organizations, Howard Dean’s brief primary campaign did much better with the still ongoing, internal, progressive group, Democracy for America.

The strongest of the alternative party organizations is the Working Families Party, which started in and is still strongest in New York.  A proponent of the so-called fusion strategy, the Working Families Party has its own line on the ballot but in practice mainly endorses Democrats who are relatively progressive and pro-labor. It has spread to a total of 13 states, but its influence is generally greatest at the lowest ranks on the ballot.

Only time will tell how Sanders’ group will fare.

He announced recently that he plans to launch an organization — Our Revolution — that would help recruit, train, and raise funds for candidates. About 24,000 individuals have already contacted the campaign about running for office or helping others, according to USA Today, many at the state and local levels, where Democrats have lost ground.

“Bernie Gave Voice to Millions”

Labor for Bernie, Sanders’ independent union supporters, was moderate in size but active and disproportionately influential, tipping the balance in some primaries, such as Washington state, supporters say. Six national unions (Communications Workers of America, National Nurses United, Amalgamated Transit Union, International Longshore and Warehouse Union, United Electrical Workers and the American Postal Workers Union) belonged to the group, plus 107 local unions and tens of thousands of individuals.

Now it is shutting down, says volunteer organizer Rand Wilson, but the group could still serve as a base for future organizing. By promoting Sanders’ ideas, it helped make more class conscious political discussion possible within union ranks.

Most Labor for Bernie members are likely to agree with Wilson that despite its small base, the organization gave a hint at what’s possible.

“Labor had an opportunity to get behind a serious candidate for the working class,” he says, “and you can see what more could have happened if Bernie had been endorsed (by the broader labor movement).”

“When people say Bernie can’t win,” says former CWA President Larry Cohen, a senior advisor to Sanders, “they mean the working class can’t win. But he showed the working class can win. The only reason he lost was because of the establishment.”

Cohen has come to a dramatic conclusion about traditional labor movement policy: After decades of taking seriously the idea that labor unions should try to reach common agreement on political issues, he has decided that if unions find better strategic partners outside the labor movement on a particular issue, they should proceed on the basis of their analysis of what is needed, not hold back and wait for labor unity. Too often, he says, a particular union’s political stance may reflect a private employer’s growth plans, not the general good for working people.

Following this strategy, “on the picket line there would be unity, and everyone would stand with a union on strike,” he says, “but not necessarily focus on unity about political strategy.”

RoseAnn DeMoro, executive director of NNU and a vigorous advocate for Sanders, says the labor movement now sees itself as non-partisan.

“My advice is we should see ourselves as representatives of the working class — not the executive class, not the neo-liberals,” she says.

DeMoro said the Democrats rejected (or in some cases, such as tuition-free college for all, watered down) Sanders’ leading proposals, such as expanded Medicare and Social Security, a ban on fracking and a “Robin Hood” tax, which is a tax on financial transactions.

In any case, she says, even the compromise 2016 Democratic Party platform is not binding on candidates.

“Assuming the Democrats win,” she said, “we have essentially negotiated down from our principles in advance — basically negotiating with ourselves. If we bargained our contracts that way, the nurses would fire us.”

“Labor is out of touch with its base,” DeMoro says. “Members are where Bernie was. Labor should have listened to Bernie.”

Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, the first union to endorse Clinton, believes that Sanders had a positive influence on the debate that resulted in the Democratic Party adopting what she, unlike DeMoro, describes as “a platform that’s the most progressive in history.”

“Bernie gave voice to millions who feel left out or left behind, especially young people,” she said, “but he certainly is not the only one who spoke truth to power.

“This is the first generation in our history that might be worse off than the generation before. And rather than being mired in frustration, Bernie inspired them to act. And that’s been a great gift to all of us,” said Weingarten.

Bob Master, political director for CWA in New York and co-chair of the Working Families Party, saw some of the same inspiration but also some disappointments.

He was not surprised at the upwelling of union member support for “a new brand of radical oppositional politics,” nor at the lack of such enthusiasm from many labor leaders for “the first politician in many years who so clearly articulated a class-based attack on the prevailing order.”

It was important, Master argues, that Sanders linked his varied reforms together as representing “socialism,” thus “open(ing) the social and political imagination to dreams of real alternatives.

“This ideological reorientation is far more important to the possibility of reviving the labor movement than most labor leaders would acknowledge,” said Master.

“How much more seismic would his campaign have been if even a handful of other major unions had joined the cause, creating greater credibility, providing additional resources, and perhaps helping to establish, most importantly, more organic connections to workers of color?”

How much more indeed?

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Lessons from Ukraine, ‘a surprising sort of success’.


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According to a new report by Princeton University’s Andrew Moravcsik, ‘Western policy to block Russian assertiveness in Ukraine has been surprisingly successful.’

The report, entitled Lessons from Ukraine: Why a Europe-led Economic Strategy is Succeeding, is published by the Transatlantic Academy, which describes itself as ‘a research institution devoted to creating common approaches to the long-term challenges facing Europe and North America.’ In a chapter entitled ‘Ukraine as a Western Policy Success’, the report says that ‘the current outcome in Ukraine, a “frozen conflict”, is in many respects a failure rather than a victory for Moscow, and a positive outcome for the West. … It is essential to remember that just two years ago, most observers … expected Russia to prevail easily.’ But, ‘Putin did not succeed’, and Russia ‘reversed its military advances, trimmed its ambitions, and eventually reverted to economic and diplomatic haggling with the West.’

‘Western policy success’ is thus measured not in terms of any positive gains by the West, but in terms of alleged ‘Russian failure’. This takes three forms, Moravcsik writes: 1) ‘Russia’s military was stalemated in the eastern Ukraine’; 2) ‘the Kremlin achieved few major political objectives in eastern Ukraine’; and 3) ‘with the insurgency in eastern Ukraine essentially over … Moscow’s only remaining alternative has been to negotiate with Ukraine and Europe using energy, trade, finance, domestic political influence, propaganda, and diplomacy.’

I can agree with number 2 of these: Russia certainly hasn’t gained anything out of the war in Donbass. But the other two propositions don’t match the facts. Russia’s military wasn’t stalemated – Ukraine’s was. It began the war against the insurgency in Donbass with a massive military advantage over its opponents, but in the end it failed to defeat them. Direct Russian military intervention in Donbass was brief, and was certainly not halted because of the efforts of the Ukrainian military. The Russians halted because they chose to halt, a fact which demonstrates the very limited nature of Russian objectives.

As I pointed out in an article in the journal European Politics and Society, ‘Moscow has largely been reacting to events and trying to gain some control of a process which was originally almost entirely outside of its control. Its primary aim has been to get the Ukrainian government to negotiate directly with the rebels, in order to produce a permanent peace settlement’. In that, the Kremlin has not succeeded. But it doesn’t make a lot of sense to talk about Moscow’s failure to ‘prevail’, when it wasn’t ever actually pursuing some broader objective of destroying Ukraine or the like. Moreover, since what Russia did want was precisely a return to negotiation, Moravcsik’s point 3 can hardly be said to constitute a failure.

In any case, it isn’t sensible to define Western ‘success’ purely in terms of Russian ‘failure’, as if international politics is entirely a zero-sum game. We must define success instead in terms of achieving some positive results for Western countries. It is hard to see what those might be. Moravcsik says that, ‘For Western governments, the ideal outcome would be for states of the former Soviet Union to evolve into prosperous market-oriented, democratic regimes able to control their own territorial sovereignty and cooperate with the West.’ In those terms, European policy towards Ukraine, from the time it pressed an EU association agreement on Ukraine, through its support of the Maidan revolution to today, has been entirely unsuccessful. Ukraine is now less prosperous, not obviously any more democratic, certainly not able to control its territory, and still divided about its relationship with the West, as shown by recent opinion polls indicating that support for NATO membership among Ukrainians has once again fallen below 50%.

The only real success Moravcsik can point to is that the Ukrainian economy has not completely collapsed because of the financial aid European countries have given, and indeed it is true that the provision of financial aid has had a more positive effect on the situation in Ukraine than anything else Western states have done. The one strong point of this report is that it makes this clear. Moravcsik pours some welcome cold water on NATO hawks who see Russia as a military threat which requires a firm military response. Commenting on the very limited extent of Russia’s military involvement in Ukraine, he writes:

The obvious lesson from Ukraine is that Putin lacks the political will to fight a major war even under the most propitious of circumstances. … If the Kremlin was unwilling to tolerate even modest expenditures of blood, treasure, and prestige to sustain a modest military advance in support of a majority Russian-speaking population in a small corner of Ukraine for a few weeks, why should we expect that it would attack even a weak NATO ally like Latvia or Estonia, let alone a heavily armed, strongly anti-Russian country without a substantial Russian minority, such as Poland?

Given that the answer to this question is that Russia wouldn’t do such a thing, Moravcsik concludes that Europe should focus on supporting Ukraine economically, rather than on resisting or deterring Russia militarily. This is a sound conclusion – a flourishing Ukrainian economy is in everybody’s interests (including Russia’s), and helping that economy would be far more productive than wasting yet more money on defence. But we shouldn’t kid ourselves that Ukraine, whose GDP per capita is a third of that of Gabon, is suddenly going to turn into Switzerland. Nor should we kid ourselves that Western policy in Ukraine has been anything other than a failure.

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Palestinian children subject to Nazi solitary confinement, administrative detention



An escalating number of Palestinian children are being held in Nazi solitary confinement or detained without charge or trial under administrative detention. 16 Palestinian children have been detained without charge or trial under administrative detention since October 2015, reported Defense for Children International on 28 July.

DCI highlighted the case of Abdel-Rahman Kamil, 15, of Qabatiya in Jenin, arrested in February of this year. He was interrogated in the Salem military camp near Jenin without being allowed to consult a lawyer, and asked about alleged intentions to stab a soldier, throwing stones at invading Nazi occupation forces, or knowing young men from his town who participated in Palestinian resistance activities. Despite denying all of this, he was ordered to a six month administrative detention order without charge or trial on the basis of secret evidence. Despite a court reducing the order to four months, his administrative detention was then again renewed for an additional four months in June. He was one of seven children whose administrative detention orders were renewed in the month of June.

DCI also reported that “from January through June, Israeli authorities held at least 13 Palestinian children in solitary confinement for two or more days, compared to a total of 15 cases during 2015.” One 16-year-old boy from Yabad near Jenin spent 22 days in isolation. DCI noted that “the use of isolation for Palestinian child detainees is solely for interrogation purposes to obtain a confession and/or gather intelligence or information on other individuals.”

They highlighted the case of Rami K., 18, who was held in Nazi solitary confinement for 16 days for interrogation purposes. He reported that he was interrogated for 45 hours over a period of days, and that his hands and feet were bound to a metal chair during interrogation in stress positions. Rami is currently serving a 10 month prison sentence and a 3000 NIS fine ($780). He will spend another three months in prison if his family cannot pay.

Nazi occupation prosecutes nearly 700 Palestinian children each year in military courts, alongside its use of administrative detention against Palestinian child prisoners. Two debates have been held in the British parliament on Palestinian children in Israeli military custody in 2016,  while 20 members of the U.S. Congress urged President Obama to appoint a “special envoy for Palestinian youth,” to address issues relating to the human rights of Palestinian children and youth. Meanwhile, the Nazi regime is escalating laws used to punish and imprison Palestinian children.

As DCI notes:

“The amendments to the Israeli penal code in 2015 included stricter penalties in mandatory sentencing laws such as a maximum 10 year sentence for throwing a stone, or other object, at traffic, without intent to cause injury, and 20 years for throwing a stone, or other object, at traffic with intent to cause injury. While the 20-year maximum sentencing existed prior to 2015, the word “stone” was added to specifically target Palestinian society.

Minimum penalties for stone-throwing offenses, one-fifth of the maximum penalty, were also added to the penal code. In a controversial decision, the Knesset, or Nazi parliament, added to the scope of punishment the denial of National Insurance benefits to families whose members have been convicted of throwing stones.

According to the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI), proposals are also in the works to impose life sentencing for children under the age of 14.”

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US & Saudi Arabia ‘Involved in Turkey’s Downing of Russian Su-24’ in Syria


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German former CDU politician and Vice-President of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe Willy Wimmer told Sputnik Deutschland that he fears NATO involvement in the downing of Russia’s Su-24 bomber over Syria last November.

NATO was involved in last year’s downing of Russia’s Su-24 bomber in Syrian airspace, Willy Wimmer, former Vice-President of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), told Sputnik Deutschland on Friday.On November 24 2015 Turkish jets downed a Russian Su-24 bomber carrying out anti-terror operations in Syria. The plane’s two co-pilots parachuted from the plane but one of them, Lieutenant Colonel Oleg Peshkov, was shot and killed by suspected Turkmen militants operating in Syria.

The incident caused a major diplomatic dispute between Turkey and Russia; the former said the bomber was shot for infringing Turkish airspace, but Russia maintains the Su-24 did not enter Turkish airspace, and was carrying out an anti-Daesh mission in Syria when it was downed.

The downing had been interpreted as a unilateral decision by Turkey, but Willy Wimmer contends that in fact, NATO and Saudi forces were involved in the incident.

“According to my information, Airborne Early Warning and Control System (AWACS) aircraft from the US and Saudi Arabia were involved,” Wimmer said.

“Aircraft like that Russian Su-24 bomber are not that easy to just shoot out of the sky. You need to take aim, and you can only do that with AWACS aircraft.”

The two AWACS planes involved in the incident took off from a US base on Cyprus, and an airbase in Saudi Arabia respectively, Wimmer said. He explained that according to NATO guidelines, if a plane is believed to be violating another country’s airspace then contact should made with the appropriate flight control center to draw the pilot’s attention to the error.In peacetime, the most military aircraft is allowed to do is to force a stray aircraft to make an emergency landing.

“What happened there does not comply with international regulations in any way. They brought the Russian plane down because they wanted to,” Wimmer said.

Wimmer believes that the motivation for enabling the otherwise inexplicable attack, was a desire on the part of Turkey’s allies to spoil diplomatic relations between Turkey and Russia.

“It must be assumed that if somebody breaks international rules, then political interests are at stake. This was about destroying the relations between the Turkish Republic and the Russian Federation, which were blossoming (back) then,” the politician said.

“Last year the construction of the South Stream pipeline (from Russia) through the EU was stopped because of American pressure. A few weeks later, Russia and Turkey successfully created a replacement, the Turkish Stream. Of course, that was diametrically opposed to the Americans’ sanctions politics against Russia. The reaction of the Americans can be interpreted accordingly,” Wimmer believes.

Last month Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan wrote a letter of apology to Russian President Vladimir Putin about the downing of the Su-24. The Turkish President said that Turkey “never had a desire or a deliberate intention to down an aircraft belonging to Russia,” and expressed his deep sympathy and condolences to the relatives of the deceased Russian pilot.

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Turkish Coup Fallout: Chief of Staff Fingers Gulen As Plot Leader




From the Turkish Armed Forces’s Chief of Staff hanging the plot on Erdogan to the drama at Incirlik and the NBC psyops, Christoph Germann of the New Great Game blog is here to update us on all the latest news, views and reactions to this month’s failed coup attempt in Turkey.

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Saint-Étienne-du-Rouvray church massacre and the Nazi State


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By Gearóid Ó Colmáin 

“Was there ever a prophet your ancestors did not persecute? They even killed those who predicted the coming of the Righteous One. And now you have betrayed and murdered him?” – St. Stephen.

The terrorist attack today on a church in Saint-Étienne-du-Rouvray where a Catholic priest was murdered and several hostages taken and killed, is part of the ‘Islamic State’s (Da’esh) attempt to spread their war on ‘Western civilisation’ from the metropolis to the provincial town. This now generalises the heightened fear experienced by the French public in the wake of the Nice attack.

Reports indicate that the attackers have been ‘neutralised’. Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy has taken the opportunity to show his political prowess. “Legal quibbles and precautions and pretexts for incomplete actions are now not admissible”, he said. French President Francois Hollande said, “Da’esh has declared war on us”. The rule of law will soon be suspended and people will be imprisoned or worse without trial, this is what the statements of Sarkozy and Hollande mean. Once again, we see that the terrorists have been shot dead before they could be interrogated. It seems taser-guns and highly sophisticated non-lethal weapons are of no use when it comes to Da’esh. Adel Kermiche, one of the terrorists shot dead, was known to police and he had reportedly attempted to join Da’esh in Syria twice. He had been released from prison in March 2016 and wore an electronic surveillance bracelet. Father Jacques Hamel, was known among the local community for his efforts at inter-religious dialogue.

Da’esh is an army of mercenaries which was formed in US prison Camp Bucca in 2006 under the supervision of the US military. The group has been used as a proxy force against the reconstituted Iraqi state allied to Iran and the Syrian Arab Republic, also a close ally of Russia. Troops for the Islamic State are recruited in Europe with the approval of Brussels, according to Israeli intelligence sources. The public are being told that the Islamic State is the enemy of the West. The facts show, however, that the Islamic State is a fake enemy created to destroy countries resisting subservience to global financial, corporate and military agencies of imperial power or, in short, the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO).

As terrorist attacks now become a daily occurrence in Europe with the Nice and Munich atrocities followed by minor assaults such as the machete attack in Germany a few days ago, the descent into civilisational suicide is accelerating. The attack on a Catholic church may be significant. The attack occurred in the church of Saint Stephen. One of the proto-martyrs of the church, Saint Stephen, is famous for his damning critique of the Jews in the Acts of the Apostles. The Jewish Sanhedrin court sentenced him to death by lapidation (stoning). St. Stephen is considered ‘anti-Semitic’ by some scholars. The Sanhedrin Courts were re-established in Israel. In 2015, the Sandedrin Court in Jerusalem declared it would put Pope Francis on trial for the Vatican’s decision to recognise a Palestinian state. He has also been criticised by the self-declared Jewish court of being too friendly with the Mufti of Jerusalem, Sheikh Muhammed Hussein.

Although the Catholic church is currently more subordinate to Judaism than at any point in its history, the Vatican’s decision to recognise a Palestinian state is a thorn in the side of hard-line Zionists. We have shown before that the Islamic State is a proxy army of Israel, which is being used to pave the way for a Greater Middle East or, in other words, a Greater Israel. Tel Aviv has not disguised its support for the Islamic State in Syria. Former Israeli ambassador to the U.S. Michael Oren has said that he would prefer Da’esh in Syria, to Assad.

The same terrorists who attacked today have been beheading and torturing priests and nuns in Syria for years, yet the Vatican has been obmutescent. The Vatican is a key actor in the Western/Zionist empire but it has not yet been completely taken over. Christendom, or what is left of it, is another target of the Zionist New World Order. The creation of a right-wing Christian Zionist movement in France would drive religious and ethnic divisions further, thus sabotaging efforts to awaken working-class consciousness and solidarity – the only hope we have of winning the war on terror, which is, and always has been, both a class war and a spiritual war.

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Gaddafi’s Ghosts: Return of the Libyan Jamahiriya

By Dan Glazebrookm 

When NATO murdered Gaddafi and blitzed his country in 2011, they hoped the socialist ‘Jamahiriya’ movement he led would be dead and buried. Now his son has been released from prison to a hero’s welcome with his movement increasingly in the ascendancy.

There were various moments during NATO’s destruction of Libya that were supposed to symbolically crown Western supremacy over Libya and its institutions (and, by implication, over all African and Arab peoples): the ‘fall of Tripoli’ in August 2011; Cameron and Sarkozy’s victory speeches the following month; the lynch-mob execution of Muammar Gaddafi that came soon after. All of them were pyrrhic victories – but none more so than the death sentence handed down to Gaddafi’s son (and effective deputy leader) Saif al-Gaddafi in July 2015.

Saif had been captured by the Zintan militia shortly after his father and brother were killed by NATO’s death squads in late 2011. The ‘International’ Criminal Court – a neocolonial farce which has only ever indicted Africans – demanded he be handed over to them, but the Zintan – fiercely patriotic despite having fought with NATO against Gaddafi – refused. Over the next two years the country descended into the chaos and societal collapse that Gaddafi had predicted, sliding inexorably towards civil war.

By 2014, the country’s militias had coalesced around two main groupings – the Libyan National Army, composed of those who supported the newly elected, and mainly secular, House of Representatives; and the Libya Dawn coalition, composed of the militias who supported the Islamist parties that had dominated the country’s previous parliament but refused to recognize their defeat at the polls in 2014. After fierce fighting, the Libya Dawn faction took control of Tripoli. It was there that Saif, along with dozens of other officials of the Jamahiriya – the Libyan ‘People’s State’ which Gaddafi had led – were put on trial for their life.

However, once again the Zintan militia – allied to the Libyan National Army – refused to hand him over. After a trial condemned by human rights groups as “riddled with legal flaws”, in a court system dominated by the Libya Dawn militias, an absent Saif was sentenced to death, along with eight other former government officials. The trial was never recognized by the elected government, by then relocated to Tobruk. A gloating Western media made sure to inform the world of the death sentence, which they hoped would extinguish forever the Libyan people’s hopes for a restoration of the independence, peace and prosperity his family name had come to represent.

It was a hope that would soon be dashed. Less than a year later, the France 24 news agency arranged an interview with Saif Al Gaddafi’s lawyer Karim Khan in which he revealed to the world that Saif had in fact, “been given his liberty on April 12, 2016″, in accordance with the amnesty law passed by the Tobruk parliament the previous year. Given the crowing over Saif’s death sentence the previous year, and his indictment by the International Criminal Court, this was a major story. Yet, by and large, it was one the Western media chose to steadfastly ignore – indeed, the BBC did not breathe a single word about it.

What is so significant about his release, however, is what it represents: the recognition, by Libya’s elected authorities, that there is no future for Libya without the involvement of the Jamahiriya movement.

The truth is, this movement never went away. Rather, having been forced underground in 2011, it has been increasingly coming out into the open, building up its support amongst a population sick of the depravities and deprivations of the post-Gaddafi era.

Exactly five years ago, following the start of the NATO bombing campaign, Libyans came out onto the streets in massive demonstrations in support of their government in Tripoli, Sirte, Zlitan and elsewhere. Even the BBC admitted that “there is no discounting the genuine support that exists”, adding that “’Muammar is the love of millions’ was the message written on the hands of women in the square”.

Following the US-UK-Qatari invasion of Tripoli the following month, however, the reign of terror by NATO’s death squad militias ensured that public displays of such sentiments could end up costing one’s life. Tens of thousands of ‘suspected Gaddafi supporters’ were rounded up by the militias in makeshift ‘detention camps’ where torture and abuse was rife; around 7,000 are estimated to be there still to this day, and hundreds have been summarily executed.

Black people in particular were targeted, seen as symbolic of the pro-African policies pursued by Gaddafi but hated by the supremacist militias, with the black Libyan town of Tawergha turned into a ghost town overnight as Misratan militias made good on their promise to kill all those who refused to leave. Such activities were effectively legalised by the NATO-imposed ‘Transitional National Council’ whose Laws 37 and 38 decreed that public support for Gaddafi could be punished by life imprisonment and activities taken ‘in defence of the revolution’ would be exempt from prosecution.

Nevertheless, over the years that followed, as the militias turned on each other and the country rapidly fell apart, reports began to suggest that much of southern Libya was slowly coming under the control of Gaddafi’s supporters. On January 18th 2014, an air force base near the southern city of Sabha was taken by Gaddafi loyalists, frightening the new government enough to impose a state of emergency, ban Libya’s two pro-Gaddafi satellite stations, and embark on aerial bombing missions in the south of the country.

But it was, ironically, the passing of the death sentences themselves – intended to extinguish pro-Gaddafi sentiment for good – that triggered the most open and widespread demonstrations of support for the former government so far, with protests held in August 2015 across the country, and even in ISIS-held Sirte. Middle East Eye reported the following from the demonstration in Sabha (in which 7 were killed when militias opened fire on the protesters):

Previous modest pro-Gaddafi celebrations in the town had been overlooked by the Misratan-led Third Force, stationed in Sabha for over a year – originally to act as a peacekeeping force following local clashes. ‘This time, I think the Third Force saw the seriousness of the pro-Gaddafi movement because a demonstration this big has not been seen in the last four years,’ said Mohamed. ‘There were a lot of people, including women and children, and people were not afraid to show their faces … IS had threatened to shoot anyone who protested on Friday, so there were no green flags in towns they control, apart from Sirte, although there are some green flags flying in remote desert areas,’ he said. ‘But if these protests get stronger across the whole of Libya, people will become braver and we will see more green flags. I know many people who are just waiting for the right time to protest.’

In Sirte, demonstrators were fired at by ISIS fighters, who dispersed the group and took away seven people, including four women. The same Middle East Eye report made the following comment:

The protests have been a public representation of a badly kept secret in Libya, that the pro-Gaddafi movement which has existed since the 2011 revolution has grown in strength, born out of dissatisfaction with the way life has worked out for many ordinary citizens in the last four years… [Mohamed] added that some people who had originally supported the 2011 revolution had joined the protests. Most Libyans just want a quiet life. They don’t care who takes over or who controls Libya’s money, they just want a comfortable life. That’s why Gaddafi stayed in power for 42 years. Salaries were paid on time, we had good subsidies on all the essentials and living was cheap.

Mohammed Eljarh, writing in the conservative US journal Foreign Policy, added that,

These pro-Qaddafi protests have the potential to turn into a national movement against the 2011 revolution, not least because a growing number of Libyans are deeply disillusioned by its outcome… there is now a building consensus that the atrocities and abuses committed by post-Qaddafi groups since the revolution exceed by far those committed by the Qaddafi regime during its rule.

At the same time, the Green resistance is becoming an increasingly influential force within the Libyan National Army, representing the country’s elected House of Representatives. Earlier this year, the Tobruk parliament allowed Gaddafi’s widow back into the country, whilst the LNA entered into an alliance with pro-Gaddafi tribes in the country’s East, and began to recruit open supporters of Gaddafi into its military structures. Gaddafi’s Tuareg commander General Ali Kanna, for example, who fled Libya following Gaddafi’s fall in 2011, has now reportedly been welcomed into the LNA. The policy is already bearing fruit, with several territories near Sirte already seized from ISIS by the new allies.

The Jamahiriya, it seems, is back. But then, it never really went away.

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Hillary Clinton is a Political Liar: “Lying for 13 Minutes Straight” ”Video”

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