Archive | May 26th, 2017

Fascism, Neoliberalism, Endless Wars: Where in Fact Is Fascism?

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Aggression against neighboring countries, endless wars, dismantling states, violent border modifications? Does this remind us of Donald Trump and Nigel Farage or of their political opponents, Clinton and Bush clans, or of Tony Blair and David Cameron?

In the Western countries, more and more often the public is hearing the words “fascism” and “fascists”. Those words are reserved for Donald Trump, Geert Wilders, Marine le Pen and other “right populists”. In addition, the use of such heavy words is justified by the fact that these politicians refer to national values, because they ask mass immigrations to their countries to stop and because of xenophobic outbursts of their supporters.

Fascism is, however, a term whose meaning cannot be quickly and easily determined. After all, it is the same with all political ideologies. There is no generally accepted definition of liberalism, socialism and conservatism. It is well known that the term “fascism” hides very diverse movements such as the Italian fascists, the German Nazis or the Croatian Ustashas. All this, however, should not get us confused and prevent us from understanding this important historical phenomenon.

It is the historical experience that could help us in this task, more than any political simplification or a theoretical explanation. There is one key feature about fascism that is intentionally or not, too often forgotten in the general tumult against Donald Trump or Marine le Pen. The “fascists”, however, are still remembered for their aggressions against other sovereign countries, the endless wars, dismantling states and violent borders modifications. Louis XIV and Napoleon also committed acts of aggression against their neighbors, they led continuous wars, they dismantled countries and changed borders. Hitler’s aggression, however, was followed by the mass destruction of entire populations, such as Jews, Gypsies and Serbs. As such, fascism is especially remembered in Central, Eastern and Southeastern Europe.

Aggression against neighboring countries, endless wars, dismantling states, violent borders modifications? Does this remind us of Donald Trump and Nigel Farage or of their political opponents, Clinton and Bush clans, or of Tony Blair and David Cameron? Should we remind you of destructions of Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, the encirclement of Russia, the provoking of China, Iran? Trump, on the contrary, according to the published statements, is advocating for a traditional diplomacy of interests and negotiations between sovereign states, such as the one widely known since the Peace of Westphalia in 1648, which is the contrary of endless crusades in the name of “values” assiduously conducted by their liberal opponents.

Ethnically motivated mass destructions of entire populations? These people succeeded in what seemed to be an unattainable ideal for Hitler and Pavelic: they killed and expelled the Serb population from Croatia and parts of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo and Metohia. All this, of course, was conducted by their local collaborators, the same way it was done with the Christians in Iraq or Syria. We should not forget the anti-Serb hysteria in the media that allowed unpunished, mass crimes against Serbs. This operation is comparable only with what the Nazi Europe did to the Jews.

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Chauvinist terror and war crimes against the Serbs in the Bosnia and Herzegovina (1992-1995) (Source: Serbian Defence League)

Mark Mazower, a professor at Columbia University in New York, stated in his book Hitler’s empire, that Hitler and the Nazis were inspired by the colonial experience of liberal states, the United Kingdom and the United States, for the crimes they committed in Eastern Europe. They simply did to the Europeans what the liberal colonizers did in Africa and Asia. Hitler admired the British foresight and mercilessness in India, as well as the US racist brutality against black people and the Indians. He openly said that the Slavic countries, especially Russia, would be in the future, the India of the united German Europe. During the Germanic colonizing of the Slavic territories in eastern Europe, Hitler was inspired by the experience of the United States. Enclaves of “racially and civilizationally superior people” in the Indian sea, progressively bound together, merged and plundered the lands of the natives.

According to Mazower, the liberal empire’s attempts to force the colonized countries to adopt their modernization and cultural models, are just another side of the indestructible ancient racism. Hitler, as well as Goebbels called for the unification of Europe around Germany, in order to protect and defend its racial and cultural values. In doing so, they openly claimed that the key purpose of uniting Europe was the protection from Russia and the march on Russia. The rhetoric of defense against the Soviet Union was useful in the post-war process of uniting Europe, where, as Mazower proves it, Hitler’s former supporters assiduously worked as senior officials. The Russian threat was an important part of the campaign of the EU supporters during the Brexit referendum in Britain, as well as of the of Hillary Clinton’s supporters campaign during the presidential elections in the United States.

Some people will say that, after all, NATO liberals do not conquer the world in the name of race, but in the name of human rights. However, the bombs were dropped on Republika Srpska, Serbia, Iraq, Libya and Syria, along with the American and the British rock and roll, and not with the German military marches. It is, indeed, a beautiful consolation for millions of their victims.

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Cover Stories Are Used to Control Explanations. “Leaked Information about the Manchester Bombing”

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Years ago James Jesus Angleton left me with the impression that when an intelligence agency, such as the CIA, pulls off an assassination, bombing, or any event with which the agency does not wish to be associated, the agency uses the media to control the explanation by quickly putting into place a cover story that, along with several others, has been prepared in advance. I suggested that the new story that the Saudis did 9/11 was put into play to take the place of the worn and battered first cover story.

When the Oswald cover story for JFK’s assassination came under heavy suspicion, other cover stories appeared in the media. One was that the Mafia killed JFK, because he was having affairs with their molls.

The fact that it made no sense did not stop many from believing it. It did not occur to people more gullible than thoughtful that a gangster would simply get another woman and not take the risk of assassinating the US president over a woman. The last thing the Mafia would want would be for Attorney General Robert Kennedy to bring the law down on the Mafia like a ton of bricks.

Another cover story was that Castro did it. This made even less sense. JFK had nixed the Joint Chiefs/CIA plan to invade Cuba, and he had refused air cover to the CIA’s Bay of Pigs invasion. JFK would certainly not be on Castro’s hit list.

Another cover story was that Lyndon Johnson was behind Kennedy’s assassination. As I wrote, there is no doubt that LBJ covered up the Joint Chiefs/CIA/Secret Service plot against JFK, as any president would have done, because the alternative was to destroy the American people’s confidence in the US military and security agencies. The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court also covered up the plot, as did the Warren Commission, the media, and the Congress.

The “Johnson did it” story is the most preposterous of all. The Joint Chiefs, CIA, Secret Service, Chief Justice, Congress, and Media are not going to participate in the murder of a President and its coverup just for the sake of the VP’s personal ambition. The idea that so many strong institutions would permit a VP to murder a President for no reason other than the personal ambition of the VP is beyond absurdity.

Speaking of cover stories, I wonder if that is what we are witnessing in the leaked information to the New York Times about the Manchester Bombing. The only point of the leak is to set the story in place. The British complaints about the leaked information serve to disguise the leak’s purpose.

Setting a story in place early crowds out other explanations. Remember, the government claims to have had no warning of 9/11 but knew instantly who did it and set the story in place. The same for the Paris events, the Nice event, the Boston Marathon bombing, and I think all the others.

Authorities quickly come up with a story and names of those responsible. The alleged perpetrators or patsies, take your choice, are always dead and, thereby, unable to deny that they did it or say who put them up to it. The only exception that comes to mind is the younger brother who has been associated with the Boston Marathon bombing. Despite two police attempts to shoot him to death, he inconveniently survived, but has never been seen or heard from. As his orchestrated trial, his court appointed attorney confessed for him, and the jury convicted on her confession.

Remember, Oswald was shot dead by Jack Ruby before Oswald was questioned by police. There is no explanation for an armed private citizen being inside the jail with Oswald and positioned to shoot him at close range. Clearly, Oswald was not to be permitted to give his story. And no patsie since has either.

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Official Account of Manchester Suicide Bombing Unravels

It took less than 24 hours for Prime Minister Theresa May’s claim that Manchester suicide bomber Salman Ramadan Abedi was known to British intelligence only “up to a point” to be exposed as a lie.

Reports from acquaintances of Abedi and a series of leaks from US and French intelligence sources make clear that the security services knew that the 22-year-old who took the lives of 22 people at the Ariana Grande concert at the Manchester Arena Monday night was a serious threat to public safety.

British intelligence had been warned about Abedi being a possible suicide bomber as far back as five years ago. The BBC reported that two college friends of Abedi had made separate calls to the police at that time because they were worried that “he was supporting terrorism” and had expressed the view that “being a suicide bomber was OK.”

Among a plethora of leaks, NBC reporter Richard Engel tweeted that a US intelligence official told reporters that Abedi’s family had warned British security officials that he was “dangerous.”

Later that day his father and brother were arrested in Libya, accused of being long-time supporters of Al Qaeda and planning further atrocities.

France’s interior minister, Gerard Collomb, revealed that Abedi (image on the right) had “proven” links with Islamic State, and that both the British and French intelligence services had information that Abedi had been in Syria, from where he had only recently returned.

British Home Secretary Amber Rudd and May’s office have both denounced US intelligence and others for leaks they maintain will damage the “operational integrity” of the investigation into Abedi. Their real concern is that these revelations have undermined their efforts to portray anyone questioning the official account of the Manchester bombing as a “conspiracy theorist.”

Events now unfolding fit a well-established pattern. After an atrocity occurs, it soon emerges that the assailants were known to the security/intelligence agencies, which without fail and for reasons never explained allowed them to “slip through the net.” But claims of incompetence carry no weight. The only plausible explanation is that these individuals are protected by forces within the state.

From a political standpoint, the origin of these atrocities is clear. In every case the roots can be traced to the catastrophic wars launched since the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991 through to the present day—in the former Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria and beyond. The result is a political and social disaster in these countries that provides fertile soil for the proliferation of terrorist groups and individuals.

Crucially, those primed for murderous violence on the streets of Britain, France, the US and elsewhere are products of reactionary terror networks that are intimately involved in these imperialist wars for regime change.

Abedi’s trips to Libya and Syria and his links to Islamist terror forces follow a well-worn path of perpetrators of bombing atrocities being tied in with sectarian terrorist organisations financed, armed and utilised by the Western powers. He comes from an area of Manchester that exemplifies British imperialism’s cultivation of Islamist terror groups for service in its foreign operations.

Abedi is reported to have been a close associate of ISIS recruiter Raphael Hostey from Manchester, who was killed in a drone strike in Syria in 2016. For years, a group of members of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group were active in the Whalley Range district of Manchester, close to Abedi’s home. They were allowed to recruit there in return for their role in opposing the Gaddafi regime. The local leader, Abd al-Baset Azzouz, was active until he left for Libya in 2014. He was said to be an expert in bomb making, with 200 to 300 militants under his control.

Just as sinister as the Manchester attack itself is the political use to which it is being put. On Tuesday, May raised the national terror threat to “critical,” its highest level. Amid official warnings that another assault is “imminent,” nearly 1,000 troops have been dispatched to the streets, mainly in London, to reinforce counterterrorism officers. These moves are in accordance with Operation Temperer, a covert plan drawn up by the Tory government in 2015, when May was home secretary.

The latest attack follows a pattern where terrorist outrages coincide with critical ballots—most recently last month’s fatal attack on a police officer in Paris by Karim Cheurfi. This was used to justify holding the first round of France’s presidential elections at gunpoint, amid a massive police and army presence on the streets and at polling places.

France provides a serious warning of what may unfold in Britain.

A state of emergency has been in force in France since 2015 following a series of terror attacks in Paris. It was extended only yesterday, supposedly in response to the Manchester bombing.

Last week, L’Obs magazine disclosed that top members of France’s Socialist Party government had prepared a coup d’état in the event of neo-fascist Marine Le Pen winning the May 7 presidential runoff. The aim was not to prevent a National Front presidency, but to crush left-wing dissent and install Le Pen in power in an enforced alliance with a Socialist Party-led government. In the event, such was the obsequiousness of the nominal representatives of the “left” such as Jean-Luc Mélenchon, who effectively threw his support behind the banker Emmanuel Macron, that a coup was considered unnecessary—at least for now.

Does anyone seriously believe that similar discussions are not taking place in ruling circles in Britain?

May called the snap June 8 election in an attempt to pre-empt the democratic process by securing a parliamentary majority to ram through measures that have no real popular support—deepening the austerity offensive against the working class and pursuing a course of escalating war alongside the US against Syria, Iran and even Russia.

Less than 48 hours ago, her plans appeared to be in ruins. So acute was the political backlash over May’s manifesto proposal to make pensioners sell their homes to pay for social care that even her slavish media supporters worried that she might lose the election to Labour.

Such is the hostility in ruling circles in both Britain and the US to the prospect of Corbyn becoming prime minister—due in particular to Corbyn’s stated opposition to nuclear weapons and criticisms of NATO—that in 2015 an unnamed senior British general warned that there would be a “mutiny” should he become prime minister.

Already May has utilised the Manchester suicide bombing to shift the election agenda back to the question of national security, as she struts around unchallenged and unquestioned—the de facto spokesperson for the police, the MI5, the MI6 and the military. But things might not end there.

The most recent historical precedent in the UK for a snap election was that called by Conservative Prime Minister Edward Heath in 1974. At a time of enormous political and social tensions internationally, including a militant miners’ strike in Britain, Heath called the election to decide “who runs the country?”

Heath lost, but remained in Downing Street for four days. It is now acknowledged that discussions were being held between senior military officers on a possible coup.

Instead, the state decided it could rely on the incoming Labour government to help re-establish its control. Today, there is no reason to assume that Corbyn’s political prostration—his readiness to give the right wing everything they demand, from support to nuclear weapons and Trident to a refusal to reverse welfare cuts—will make a turn to state repression unnecessary. The shift towards dictatorial forms of rule flows from the deep class antagonisms wracking the UK and the utter putrefaction of British capital.

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Brazil Mainstream Media Admits Spreading Fake News About Lula

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teleSUR 

The mainstream media channel has long claimed that both former leftist presidents were involved in the massive corruption scandal.

Brazil’s largest television channel, Globo, has admitted that is has divulged false information about former Brazilian presidents Luiz Inacio “Lula” da Silva and Dilma Rousseff.

Globo journalist William Waak acknowledged on television Tuesday that previous reports about Lula and Rousseff, allegedly owning offshore accounts, were inaccurate.

The mainstream media channel has long claimed that both former leftist presidents were involved in the massive corruption scandal involving Joesley Batista, owner of JBS, Brazil’s largest meat packing company.

“We said that Joesley Batista had claimed in the awarding statement that he deposited fines on two current accounts abroad, in the name of the ex-Presidents Lula and Dilma Rousseff,” Waak said.

“In reality, however, Batista said that the account is in his name, but that money was going to be allocated to Lula and Dilma’s campaigns.”

The correction did not repair damage caused to Lula and Rousseff’s image, since many international agencies and foreign newspapers have since echoed Globo’s false claim, failing to correct them.

Last Friday, Batista confessed that de-facto President Michel Temer had requested and received bribes from his company since 2010.

Batista, the protagonist of a wiretapping scandal incriminating the unelected Brazilian leader, exposed the arrangement to the Brazilian attorney general’s office. He claims he paid Temer roughly US$1 million in 2010 alone. Another US$921,000 was requested by the embattled president in 2012 to support Gabriel Chalita’s bid to become mayor of Sao Paulo.

Batista also claimed that during the impeachment process against ousted former President Dilma Rousseff, Temer requested a payment of more than US$85,000 dollars for online political marketing expenditure.

Temer has repeated that he has no intention of resigning. Contrarily, he’s considering a lawsuit against the owner of JBS in order to strengthen his defense.

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A NATO summit for the Donald Trump era

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By M K Bhadrakumar 

If the expectation was that US President Donald Trump would outline his strategy toward Afghanistan at the summit meeting of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in Brussels (May 25-26), that might not be the case. Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg in his customary pre-summit press conference at the alliance’s Headquarters, in fact, said the summit’s agenda will focuse on two issues: a) Stepping up of NATO’s contribution to the fight against terrorism. The NATO will not undertake combat missions and its role is to “deal with the root causes of terrorism, training local forces is one of the best tools we have”; and,  b) “Burden sharing”, which meant meeting the pledge that the member countries had made in 2014 to stop the cuts in military budgets, and “gradually increase and move towards” spending 2% of GDP on defence within a decade.

This is essentially a summit to get acquainted with Trump. The US’ allies fervently hope that Trump will give decent burial to his famous description of NATO being “obsolete” and, in particular, pledge loyalty to Article V of the alliance’s charter on collective security. There is bound to be some unease because Trump can be very unpredictable.

Stoltenberg was circumspect about Afghanistan, saying,

  • But the security situation remains challenging. We have recently completed our regular review of our training mission. And our military commanders have asked for a few thousand more troops. We are currently in the process of force generation and I expect final decisions to be taken next month.

It appears that Trump is yet to take a final decision on the US troop level in Afghanistan and/or his strategy toward the war.

Interestingly, during the Q&A, Stoltenberg distanced himself from the allegations in the US media (attributed to senior Pentagon commanders) that Russia has been giving covert support to Taliban to undermine the NATO operations. He said, “We have seen reports, but we haven’t seen fine proof of direct support of Russia to the Taliban.”

Importantly, Stoltenberg added, “We urge Russia to be part of an Afghan-led peace process” to reconcile the Taliban. This is a significant remark, because the NATO secretary-general usually takes his cue from Washington. Can this remark be taken as Stoltenberg’s premonition of some sort of US-Russia cooperation sailing into view over Afghanistan in a near term? It is a plausible assumption, if only because, below the radar, US-Russian cooperation over Syria at the military-to-military level is gaining momentum in the fight against ISIS. The US, it seems, is taking a leap of faith, finally.

Earlier today, addressing the upper house of the Russian parliament in Moscow, Defence Minister Sergey Shoigu made the stunning disclosure that the Russian and American militaries are engaged in discussions about the Syrian situation in a “round-the-clock mode” and are preparing a “joint project” on the hugely controversial southern zone of “deconfliction” where the competing interests of various external protagonists — Israel, Jordan, Iran, US and Hezbollah —  threaten to bring the roof down. (See my earlier blog US, Iran run into each other in Syria.)

To quote Shoigu,

  • We did not halt contacts and cooperation with them (Americans), this is also happening almost in a round-the-clock mode, we are talking with them during the day and the night, and we are meeting at different venues. A great work is underway with them. We would like it to be completed and presented as a project ready for implementation. But we are working with them and working, naturally, on the southern zone of de-escalation.

The “great work” in progress on Syria can stimulate similar cooperation in Afghanistan as well. Indeed, the US and NATO snubbed repeated Russian overtures over the years for cooperation in Afghanistan, including at the level of the Moscow-led Collective Security Treaty Organization. But Trump is perfectly capable of deciding that Russian help is useful and necessary in Afghanistan in the fight to defeat the ISIS and to bring the war to an end through a negotiated settlement with the Taliban.

By the way, Stoltenberg’s 48-minute press conference in Brussels today was free of any of his past rhetoric against Russia. It will be interesting to see what, if any, Trump will have to say tomorrow on “Russian aggression”, which had been the leitmotif of such high-level NATO events in the recent years during the Barack Obama administration. The video of Stoltenberg’s press conference is here.

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‘US military lost track of $1bn worth of weapons’

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Press TV

The US military has admitted to losing track of around $1 billion worth of weapons in Iraq and Kuwait, according to a US Defense Department audit reviewed by Amnesty International.

In the September 2016 document, which was obtained through Freedom of Information Act requests, the Pentagon stated that it “did not have accurate, up-to-date records on the quantity and location” of a large amount of weapons it had moved into Iraq and Kuwait to arm the Iraqi government forces, Amnesty reported Wednesday.

The transfers were part of the Iraq Train and Equip Fund (ITEF) program and following appropriation by Congress of $1.6 billion to allegedly stop Daesh (ISIL)’s advances in 2015.

The items included tens of thousands of assault rifles worth $28 million, hundreds of mortar rounds and hundreds of Humvee armored vehicles.

The Pentagon audit found that personnel in charge of tracking the ITEF weapons often logged them “across multiple spreadsheets, databases and even on hand-written receipts.”

The faulty records-keeping also meant that people in charge of locating the weapons or determining their status would not be able to do so.

According to the document, the Pentagon had no responsibility for tracking the items after handing them over to Iraqi authorities.

This amounts to a clear violation of the department’s own Golden Sentry program, which requires the Pentagon to perform post-delivery checks.

Patrick Wilcken, Amnesty’s arms control and human rights researcher, said the government audit shows how “flawed – and potentially dangerous” the US military’s controlling mechanisms are for overseeing the transfer of weapons in a “hugely volatile region.”

“It makes for especially sobering reading given the long history of leakage of US arms to multiple armed groups committing atrocities in Iraq,” including Daesh (ISIL), he added.

“The need for post-delivery checks is vital. Any fragilities along the transfer chain greatly increase the risks of weapons going astray in a region where armed groups have wrought havoc and caused immense human suffering,”  Wilcken further argued.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said June last year that of the thousands of armored vehicles supplied by the US to Iraqi security forces, some 2,300 or two-thirds of them had fallen into the hands ISIL and the group was turning them into moving bombs.

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Canadian companies caught with hands in African colonial cookie jar

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By Yves Engler 

The recent seizure of phosphate from a Moroccan state company in South Africa and Panama is a blow to corporate Canada and a victory for national independence struggles. It should also embarrass the Canadian media.

This month courts in Port Elizabeth and Panama City okayed requests by the POLISARIO Front asking South Africa and Panama to seize two cargo ships with 100,000 tonnes of phosphate from Western Sahara, a sparsely populated territory in north-western Africa occupied by Morocco. Ruled by Spain until 1975, Moroccan troops moved in when the Spanish departed and a bloody 15-year war drove tens of thousands of Sahrawi into neighbouring Algeria, where they still live in camps.

No country officially recognizes Moroccan sovereignty over Western Sahara. The UN calls it “occupied” and the Fourth Geneva Convention as well as the Rome Statute prohibit an occupying power from exploiting the resources of territories they control unless it’s in the interest of, and according to, the wishes of the local population. In 2002 the UN Under-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs Hans Corell described the exploitation of Western Sahara’s natural resources as a “violation of the international law principles applicable to mineral resource activities in Non-Self-Governing Territories.”

Saskatoon’s PotashCorp and Calgary’s Agrium, which are merging, have a partnership with Moroccan King Mohammed VI’s OCP Group to export phosphate mined in Western Sahara. The two Canadian companies buy half of Western Sahara phosphates and it was an Agrium shipment that was seized in Panama.

To deflect from its complicity in violating international law, PotashCorp says OCP’s operations benefit the Sahrawi people. A 2014 PotashCorp statement claimed: “OCP has established a proactive affirmative action campaign to the benefit of the local people and, importantly, is making significant economic and social contributions to the entire region. As a result, we believe those who choose to make a political statement about OCP are effectively penalizing Saharawi workers, their families and communities.”

International solidarity activists have called on businesses to stop exploiting Western Sahara’s resources, which has led the Ethical Fund of Vancity credit union, four pension funds in Sweden and Norway’s $800 billion pension fund to divest from PotashCorp. A number of fertilizer companies have also severed ties to OCP, Morocco’s largest industrial company. The POLISARIO Front national liberation movement and African Union claim deals with OCP to export Western Sahara phosphate contravene international law and prop up Morocco’s control.

While only preliminary, the recent court decisions are important for national independence struggles. The South Africa case is thought to be the first time an independence movement has won legal action to intercept the export of state property.

Aside from a handful of stories in the business press, the Canadian media has basically ignored PotashCorp and Agrium’s role in violating international law. In the lead-up to the 2015 Saskatoon launch of Canada in Africa: 300 Years of Aid and Exploitation I submitted a piece about PotashCorp’s role in buying the non-renewable resources of Africa’s last remaining colony. The Saskatoon Star Phoenix opinion editor, who I’d communicated with on a few occasions when writing op-eds for a union, told me he was considering it and then responded a week later. “Hi Yves, Thanks, but I will pass on your op-ed. This issue has been on our pages in the past, with both sides of the debate making their points.” But when I searched the Star Phoenix database for articles on the largest publicly traded company in Saskatoon ties to Morocco’s occupation of Western Sahara there was a single 264-word letter to the editor criticizing PotashCorp’s policy two and a half years earlier (and a rebuttal from a company representative). Apparently, the Saskatoon business titan’s role in violating international law only warrants 264 words.

As part of writing this story, I searched Canadian Newsstream for coverage of PotashCorp and Agrium’s ties to Western Sahara. I found eight articles (a couple appeared in more than one paper) in major dailies on the subject, as well as three letters to the editor, over the past six years. Yet, as if violating international law is only of interest to those making investment decisions, all but one of the articles appeared in the business pages. When the Sisters of Mercy of Newfoundland brought a resolution to PotashCorp’s 2015 shareholder meeting about Western Sahara, the Canadian Press reported on it but only a few news outlets picked up the wire story.

While the Sahrawi struggle is unfamiliar to Canadians, it is widely known in African intellectual circles. An international solidarity campaign, with a group in Victoria, has long highlighted corporate Canada’s ties to the Moroccan occupation. I wrote about it briefly in my Canada in Africa and in an article for a number of left websites. In September 2015 Briarpatch did a cover story titled A Very Fertile Occupation: PotashCorp’s role in occupied Western Sahara and last week OurSask.ca published a long article titled Why a Segment of Saskatchewan’s Economy, and Our Ethical Compass, Hinges on an Undeveloped, War-Torn African Nation. An activist in Regina has been crowd funding for a documentary project titled Sirocco: Winds of Resistance: How the will to resist a brutal occupation has been passed on to two women by their grandmothers.

As my experience with the Star Phoenix suggest, the mainstream media is not unaware of the subject. Rather, there is a deeply held bias in favour of the corporate perspective and unless activists politicize the issue editors will ignore corporate Canada’s complicity in entrenching colonialism in Africa.

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Tory Lead Tumbling

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By Matthew JAMISON 

It has been quite a few weeks in the latest British General Election. The really interesting story is how the Conservative Party’s lead in the opinion polls keeps dropping. At the outset of the announcement of a General Election in the middle of April the Tories stood atop what looked like an insurmountable opinion poll lead. The opinion poll companies put the lead at somewhere in the range of 18-22%. This would have given the Conservative Party its biggest landslide majority in the House of Commons since the 1980s. Even as matters stand now the Conservatives are still on course to win the election and with a larger majority than at the 2015 General Election.

Yet their opinion poll lead rather than holding up or growing ahead of Election Day set for Thursday June 8th is actually declining as the campaign wears on. With so much of the mainstream press in Britain backing Theresa May’s Tory Party and the overwhelmingly hostile campaign of nearly all the newspapers and members of his own Parliamentary Party, Mr. Corbyn, had been pronounced by many in the London media and indeed within his party in the House of Commons as a dead man walking with no hope of slashing the Tory lead let alone consistently week on week bring it down by 3-4%. Now the Tories once mighty lead has fallen by nearly 10% in the space of three weeks or so. At this rate come election day it may even be tied between Labour and the Conservatives or a few points separating them.

How has this happened. Well, it would appear that while most of Mr. Corbyn’s Parliamentary Party were plotting his downfall with various journalists he and the Labour Leadership have been developing rich policy work across a range of public policy areas in need of drastic reform. Since the formal launch of the campaign all we have had from Theresa May and her Conservatives is one vacuous slogan: «Strong and Stable leadership.» Nothing on the NHS and the funding crisis it and schools in Britain are facing. Nothing on plans to update and improve Britain’s appalling infrastructure; nothing to help bring down the cost of living holding shark landlords and extortionate rents to account. Nothing on the job creation of the future. Basically on all the important domestic policies which affect people’s lives, Theresa May and the Conservative Party have said and presented nothing.

When she and her colleagues have finally started discussing their actual policies and governing vision for Britain it actually started to frighten some of what were thought to be some of the most reliable of the Tory horses – Pensioners. Pensioners and those nearing retirement were greeted with the Tory prospect that a «dementia tax» would be introduced which would see elderly people receiving social care and having to fund the entire cost, until they reached their last £100,000 of assets. They are quite a large voting bloc and overwhelmingly backed Brexit against the wishes of future generations who will actually be alive when those who voted for Brexit are long gone.

The average UK house price stands at £215,847, so the «dementia tax» would affect many middle-class voters. It is being compared to Margaret Thatcher’s flagship policy of her third term – the «Community Charge» or Poll Tax which proved so unpopular in the country that it fuelled a massive rebellion that ended her near 16 year leadership of the Conservative Party. So, perhaps British voters are finally, finally just starting (and here I emphasize just starting) to finally wake up and realize that the Tories are a deeply divisive, sinister party who offer nothing for those who need it the most and are a tiny clique of a party that represents the interests a very privileged, powerful, wealthy minority whose number one political agenda is to protect and preserve their privileges and vested interests while ensuring the perpetuation of economic and social inequality which suits the preservation and enhancement of their established wealth and with it power to the detriment of the country as a whole. There have also been Mrs. May’s lukewarm attitude towards preserving the «triple lock» on pensions and the possibility that VAT already at a staggering 20% may go up after the next Parliament.

Meanwhile, the Labour Party have been rolling out what appear to be well thought out; costed and popular policies with key constituencies across the UK. Many people have started to say that Jeremy Corbyn’s message on the home front or his foreign policy views make a great deal of sense and he is not the Stalinist madman that the likes of the Daily Mail and the Sun have made him out to be while Mrs. May’s vacuous, meaningless slogan «strong and stable leadership» is starting to wear very thin with little policy meat on the bones to back it up and what there is such as the «dementia tax» are thoroughly nasty, horrible policies. Mrs. May; her inadequate team and the party she leads may find come polling day they squandered one of the largest opinion poll leads in the shortest space of time imaginable. If by June 9th we are back to the situation of 2010 where no one party commands an overall working majority in the House of Commons there could very well be the possibility of a Labour/Liberal/SNP alliance forming a Coalition Government with the Greens thrown in for good measure. What delicious irony it would be if the only exit Mrs. May gets to preside over is her own exit from No. 10 Downing Street in the days after June 8th.

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Thousands of Japanese rally in capital against ‘anti-terror’ bill

NOVANEWS

People demonstrate against a piece of “anti-terror” legislation in the Japanese capital, Tokyo, May 24, 2017.
Press TV 

Thousands of people have held a protest rally in the Japanese capital, Tokyo, to express their dissent against the government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe for putting forward a controversial “anti-terror” bill.

Demonstrators, carrying placards, flooded the capital’s streets on Wednesday evening. They said the government would be prosecuting practically everybody in the name of fighting terrorism if the bill was passed.

The protest came a day after the country’s lower house approved the “conspiracy bill,” which enlisted 277 new types of offences deemed by the lawmakers as threats against Japanese national security.

The government argues that with the help of the bill, if it is passed, it will be able to mount a crackdown on what it calls organized crime and punish those who plan to carry out “serious crimes” against the country.

The bill now needs to be ratified by the upper house, the House of Councilors — where Abe’s coalition has the upper hand — to become law.

While Tokyo argues that the legislation should be adopted before the Tokyo Olympics in 2020 in an attempt to battle terrorism and organized crime, the opponents of the bill say they fear it would treat such offenses as sit-in demonstrations and violations of copyrights as “serious crimes.”

The government further argues that the law would be necessary to ratify the United Nations (UN)’s Convention against Transnational Organized Crime.

The demonstrators in the Wednesday rally also protested against a number of other issues, including Japan’s nuclear power policies and the United States’ presence on the Japanese Okinawa Island.

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The MANCHESTER Bombing is the Price We Have Paid for Iraq and Libya

NOVANEWS
Trump and May Support Saudi Arabia’s Bombing of Civilians in Yemen and then Complain about Terrorism


When it comes to hypocrisy no-one can outdo the British press. Virtually the whole of the British press, with the exception of the Daily Mirror, supported Britain’s invasion of Iraq.  An invasion that killed up to 1 million civilians.

Today the US and Britain support, with all the modern weaponry that Saudi  money can buy, the murderous war of destruction in Yemen.  One in 3 Saudi air raids hits civilian sites.  Over 10,000 civilians have been murdered in circumstances no less tragic than what happened in Manchester.  Theresa May and Donald Trump, no less than Obama and Cameron before them, literally have blood on their hands, together of course with the Sun which then has the gall to talk about terrorism and ‘our way of life’. One in three Saudi air raids on Yemen hit civilian sites, data shows

 
Saudi Attack on Yemeni School

There were no terrorist groups in Iraq before the invasion.  There were no weapons of mass destruction either.  The only thing Iraq possessed was an abundance of oil and it was this that the United States was determined to lay its hands on.

 
The terrible aftermath of Manchester is a consequence of Blair, Cameron and May’s war policy

After the invasion in 2003 Al-Qaeda in Iraq grew in leaps and bounds.  A few years later they changed their name to ISIS.  Thus began the growth of this monstrous death cult.  ISIS was a product of the bloody war that the United States and Blair’s New Labour imposed on Iraq.  Nor was it accidental.  When the Americans ran into heavy armed resistance in Iraq they did what all imperial powers do, they played the divide and rule card.  The US and Britain deliberately sowed the seeds of division between Sunni and Shi’ite Muslims in order to shore up their own positions.

 
The Scum Always Had a Problem with the Truth

Donald Trump today is still doing this.  He went a few days ago to Saudi Arabia to condemn the Iranian terror axis in the Middle East!  ISIS, Al Qaeda and the other Jihadi groups in Syria and Iraq are 100% Salafist Sunni groups.  Hezbollah, the main Shi’ite guerrilla group in the Lebanon, which is allied with Iran, has never exploded bombs in Western cities. Nor has Hamas, which is Sunni.  Both condemned Al Qaeda for its Charlie Hebdo murder yet they are called ‘terrorists’  because they fight or have fought the terrorist regime in Tel Aviv.

 
The SCUM has the gall to accuse Corbyn and McDonnell of having blood on their hands

The western press deliberately conflates organisations which fight a guerrilla war against Israel with organisations that butcher and murder anyone who doesn’t subscribe to their definition of the Islamic faith.

 
Was it any wonder that the Scum supported Tony Bliar?  That’s what the Labour Right wants again

In reality ISIS are not motivated by Islam.  It is a flag of convenience.  Much fun was made of ISIS recruits in this country who bought Islam for Dummies before setting out on their Jihad.  Those who murdered and maimed in Brussels and France, almost without exception, were petty criminals who drank and led anything but a pious Islamic way of life.  Being a Muslim was a way of dignifying their alienation.

 
Lest we forget – the Sun attacked the one party leader, the late Charlie Kennedy, who opposed the Iraq War – under Nick Clegg the Lib-Dems became the pro-war party

Not content with what it had done in Iraq, Cameron and Clegg also decided to intervene in the Libyan civil war.  Despite Britain’s previously close relations with the Ghadaffi regime, we decided to repay old scores and support the Islamic opposition to his regime.  The consequences were predictable.  Once again Al-Qaeda, ISIS and various Jihadist groups thrived. Ghadaffi had warned of just such an outcome but we decided on another ‘humanitarian’ bombing campaign.

 
Germans reading the Nazi equivalent of The Sun – Der  Sturmer was also a semi-pornographic paper

The Sun Has the Blood of Manchester and 1 million dead Iraqis on Its Hands

On Tuesday the Sun came out with a headline accusing Jeremy Corbyn of having blood on his hands.  The irony is that it is the Sun which is covered in the blood of the innocents.

As the headlines displayed here should remind people, the Sun was the chief cheerleader for the illegal war in Iraq.  In Nazi Germany the editor of the Nazi newspaper, Der Sturmer, which did most to support Hitler’s wars of aggression and the attacks on the Jews, one Julius Streicher, was hanged at Nuremburg in 1946 for crimes against humanity.  Instead of being feted by Prime Ministers, Rupert Murdoch should also be treated as a war criminal.

The Sun’s reference was not to Manchester but Corbyn’s previous support of Sinn Fein and the Republican movement.  It is to be hoped that Corbyn does not duck the challenge.  Jeremy Corbyn did indeed support the fight of the Catholic people of Northern Ireland for justice and a United Ireland.

 
The Sun of course never acknowledges its own mistakes – it assumes that its readers are idiots (probably true!) and have no memory

People forget that up to the imposition of Direct Rule in 1972, Northern Ireland had been a Protestant supremacist police state (much like Israel and South Africa).  If you were a Catholic you couldn’t get a job in the civil service or decent housing.  Discrimination was institutionalised in a state which the former Prime Minister, Lord Brookeborough described as a Protestant state, which it was.  Northern Ireland was created in 1921 after the all-Ireland elections in 1918 had produced a Sinn Fein majority.  This was unacceptable to the Tories allies amongst the Unionists who threatened to use force to reverse the results of the election.  Thus began Ireland’s war of independence.

When in 1969 the Catholics launched a civil rights movement they were viciously attacked by the B-Specials and Protestant supremacists at the Battle of Burntollet It was the ‘spark that lit the prairie fire’ i.e. the Troubles.  The Catholic ghetto of the Bogside in Derry was attacked in a two day battle by the RUC and B-Specials (a paramilitary police force).  A civil rights march in Derry was attacked by the RUC.  This was the beginning of ‘The Troubles’.  To those who want a greater understanding than that provided by the Sun then The Troubles in Derry article provides a starter.  It was only when Britain accepted that the North of Ireland could no longer be a Protestant supremacist state that a peace accord was possible.

 
Lest we forget – the Sun invited people to cut out their dartboard filled with anti-war targets

The IRA fought a war with the British.  Undoubtedly they, like the British Army, killed many innocent civilians.  That is always the consequence of war.  Britain and the US call it ‘collateral damage’.  However the IRA killed far fewer civilians than the British army in Iraq, Afghanistan or elsewhere.

21 years ago the IRA exploded a massive 1500 Kg bomb in Manchester city centre.   It devastated the heart of Manchester yet not one person was killed.  The reason?  They gave a 90 minute warning.  On occasions elsewhere, not least Birmingham, when warnings went astray or weren’t heeded, people did get killed, however the IRA never deliberately murdered civilians.  Protestant paramilitary groups like the UDA and UVF, which the British Army and its secretive Forces Research Unit infiltrated with agents, deliberately targeted Catholic civilians.

That is one of the major differences between the IRA bombing campaign and that of ISIS and the US military.  The latter two don’t give warnings when they bomb people.

It was also the case that the IRA and Sinn Fein had and continue to have massive support in the Catholic ghettos of Northern Ireland.  The fact that the majority group amongst Catholics in Northern Ireland is Sinn Fein not the SDLP is proof of that.  ISIS by contrast has to terrorise the inhabitants of the areas it controls.

In the article below, Patrick Coburn exposes the hypocrisy of the British political establishment and Theresa May.  Saudi Arabia’s Wahabist regime and Qatar have sponsored, armed and funded ISIS, Al-Qaeda and a host of Jihadist groups in Syria and Libya.  The regime in Saudi Arabia, under King Ibn Saud, was armed and funded by the British in the wake of the first world war.  We have continued, with the United States, to support them ever since, for the simple reason that this most austere and barbaric version of Islam is ideal to keep the population of Saudi Arabia cowed.  What better way of legitimising repression and coercion than religion?  For us to condemn the head choppers of ISIS when we support the head choppers of Saudi Arabia is the kind of hypocrisy for British imperialism was long renowned.

Tony Greenstein

Manchester attack: It is pious and inaccurate to say Salman Abedi’s actions had ‘nothing to do with Islam’

In the wake of the massacre in Manchester, people rightly warn against blaming the entire Muslim community in Britain and the world. Certainly one of the aims of those who carry out such atrocities is to provoke the communal punishment of all Muslims, thereby alienating a portion of them who will then become open to recruitment by Isis and al-Qaeda clones.

This approach of not blaming Muslims in general but targeting “radicalisation” or simply “evil” may appear sensible and moderate, but in practice it makes the motivation of the killers in Manchester or the Bataclan theatre in Paris in 2015 appear vaguer and less identifiable than it really is. Such generalities have the unfortunate effect of preventing people pointing an accusing finger at the variant of Islam which certainly is responsible for preparing the soil for the beliefs and actions likely to have inspired the suicide bomber Salman Abedi.

The ultimate inspiration for such people is Wahhabism, the puritanical, fanatical and regressive type of Islam dominant in Saudi Arabia, whose ideology is close to that of al-Qaeda and Isis. This is an exclusive creed, intolerant of all who disagree with it such as secular liberals, members of other Muslim communities such as the Shia or women resisting their chattel-like status.

A further sign of the Salafi-jihadi impact is the choice of targets: the attacks on the Bataclan theatre in Paris in 2015, a gay night club in Florida in 2016 and the Manchester Arena this week have one thing in common. They were all frequented by young people enjoying entertainment and a lifestyle which made them an Isis or al-Qaeda target. But these are also events where the mixing of men and women or the very presence of gay people is denounced by puritan Wahhabis and Salafi jihadis alike. They both live in a cultural environment in which the demonisation of such people and activities is the norm, though their response may differ.

The culpability of Western governments for terrorist attacks on their own citizens is glaring but is seldom even referred to. Leaders want to have a political and commercial alliance with Saudi Arabia and the Gulf oil states. They have never held them to account for supporting a repressive and sectarian ideology which is likely to have inspired Salman Abedi. Details of his motivation may be lacking, but the target of his attack and the method of his death is classic al-Qaeda and Isis in its mode of operating.

The reason these two demonic organisations were able to survive and expand despite the billions – perhaps trillions – of dollars spent on “the war on terror” after 9/11 is that those responsible for stopping them deliberately missed the target and have gone on doing so. After 9/11, President Bush portrayed Iraq not Saudi Arabia as the enemy; in a re-run of history President Trump is ludicrously accusing Iran of being the source of most terrorism in the Middle East. This is the real 9/11 conspiracy, beloved of crackpots worldwide, but there is nothing secret about the deliberate blindness of British and American governments to the source of the beliefs that has inspired the massacres of which Manchester is only the latest – and certainly not the last – horrible example.

The attack on Manchester Arena – and those on the Bataclan and the Pulse nightclub before it – can trace their roots to the Wahhabism of Saudi Arabia. The UK and US governments just won’t admit it.

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