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Three women, loads of lies and the destruction of Libya

US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton (R) talks with Susan Rice (L), the US Ambassador to the United Nations in a Security Council meeting during the United Nations General Assembly on 23 September 2010 at UN headquarters in New York. [STAN HONDA/AFP via Getty Images]

US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton (R) talks with Susan Rice (L), the US Ambassador to the United Nations in a Security Council meeting during the United Nations General Assembly on 23 September 2010 at UN headquarters in New York. [STAN HONDA/AFP via Getty Images]

Dr Mustafa Fetouri

Hillary Clinton, Susan Rice and Samantha Power were the three principal advocates of war against Libya in 2011, setting the North African nation on a free fall ever since. Demonstrations broke out in some Libyan cities against the government of late Muammar Gaddafi in February 2011, in what became known as the “Arab Spring” that engulfed the region. However, Libya’s promised spring turned into a destructive autumn during which Gaddafi was murdered on 20 October, 2011, and Libya was left anguishing in lawlessness, courtesy of the three women.

Secretary of State Clinton deployed whatever the State Department had to make the pitch for war, undercutting both the Pentagon and the US intelligence community. Pentagon officials and Democratic legislator Dennis Kucinich were so distrustful of Clinton, that they even opened their back channel with the Gaddafi government to try to stop the unnecessary war on Libya. However, Clinton had the ear of President Barak Obama and was feeding him unfounded stories about the conflict in Libya, in order to convince him to authorise the US military to take action. President Obama, at one point, referred anyone discussing the Libyan issue to talk to Clinton.

In her push for war and regime change in Libya, Clinton first used every possible means available to her as secretary of state to rally other US allies to support the intervention, under the pretext of “protecting civilians and civilian populated areas” in Libya alleged to be under government siege. She commanded Rice, the US’ permanent representative at the United Nations (UN) Security Council to campaign for the votes in the council to secure the passing of Resolution 1973, vaguely authorising the use of force. That resolution cleared the council by a vote of ten in favour, with five abstaining, including Russia and China. At the same time, Power, an official in the Obama administration’s national security team, took care of marketing the war as a “humanitarian intervention” within the administration.

READ: How the European Union betrayed Libya, and itself too 

For Clinton, who failed in almost every job she had, pushing for war against Libya in 2011 meant using her skills not only as the US’ top diplomat, but also as a prolific liar, too. She lied, at least twice, to the American people and legislators, simply by misrepresenting the events on the ground inside Libya at the time, and by claiming that regime change in Libya was not the real goal of the military intervention from the beginning. Even after NATO started bombing, she shut the door to any mediation or presentation of the Libyan government’s side of the story.

Clinton keeps twisting the Libyan narrative three years later, even when no longer secretary of state. In her memoir, Hard Choices, published in 2014, Clinton omitted NATO’s role in the regime change in Libya by claiming that the Libyan rebels captured Tripoli “by late summer 2011”, without mentioning NATO’s actions. At that point in the Libyan war, the NATO bombardment of Libya had expanded massively, beyond the declared mission of “protecting civilians” as required by the UN resolution. Regime change became the ultimate objective. Then-President Obama himself lied, or was misled to lie, by his very secretary of state. In his 23 March, 2011, remarks about Libya, Obama described the task he had assigned to the US military as protection of “the Libyan people from immediate danger” by establishing a no-fly zone with no intention of broadening that mission to include “regime change”, as that would be a “mistake”, according to Obama.

Secretary of State John Kerry speaks with United States Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power at a Security Council meeting on counter terrorism at the United Nations on 30 September 2015 in New York City. [Spencer Platt/Getty Images]

Secretary of State John Kerry speaks with United States Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power at a Security Council meeting on counter terrorism at the United Nations on 30 September 2015 in New York City. [Spencer Platt/Getty Images]

Rice, the US diplomat at the UN, tried to qualify Clinton’s lies at the Security Council by projecting a massacre in eastern Libya. The fact is that the Libyan government, at the time, was responding to armed rebellion like any government would do. Even today, there is no evidence to support the claim that Gaddafi was planning, let alone executing, any massacres in any part of Libya.

Most Libyans still remember Rice, after the Security Council adopted Resolution 1973, hugging Libya’s representative who earlier defected. That scene, which shows a tearful Abdurrahman Shalgham embracing a sombre-looking Rice, became the subject of sarcasm and ridicule. Some Gaddafi supporters even interpreted it as more evidence of the “conspiracy” against Libya.

In marketing the war within the ranks of the Obama administration, Power played the history card to create fear of failure and inaction by President Obama. She exaggerated events in Libya, even comparing it to the Rwandan genocide of 1994, in which nearly one million people were killed. Invoking the Rwandan experience was designed to provoke the strongest reaction by Obama, a Democrat himself, as was Bill Clinton under whose watch the Rwandan mass killing unfolded. The world later discovered that the Clinton administration knew what was going on in Rwanda, but chose to ignore it. Apparently, Power, by comparing Libya to Rwanda, wanted to warn President Obama not to ignore Libya and be accused of lying, which he did anyway in the Libyan case.

Obama, five years later in a 2016 interview, admitted that intervening in Libya was his “worst” mistake, blaming British and French leaders instead of his own advisors. None of the three advisors has ever been held accountable to answer serious questions about the Libyan fiasco. Instead, Power later served as US ambassador to the UN before joining one of the US’ top universities – Harvard, no less. Rice is a researcher at the American University in Washington, while Clinton went on to run for president, losing to Donald Trump in 2016.

READ: Why do Arab leaders respect treaties with others but not between themselves? 

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Libya: New War Has Begun

Posted by: Sammi Ibrahem,Sr

One week ago, the residents of Tripoli took to the streets protesting the Government of National Accord headed up by Fayez al-Sarraj. The crowds were angry because only those at the top of the Sarraj government have enriched themselves becoming billionaires and siphoning off much needed oil revenues.

The people are hungry, and utilities have been problematic. Sources have indicated that Sarraj has removed billions from Libya and not only financed the Muslim Brotherhood but has deposited large amounts into his various bank accounts across Europe.

Sarraj made a series of missteps that have caused even the United Nations to sit up and take notice. Sarraj terminated his Interior Minister then pushed terrorists to occupy key positions within the GNA. The final straw that enraged Tripoli residents was Sarraj’s appointment of terrorist public security militia commander Imad Trabelsi to the position of deputy head of Libyan Intelligence per resolution 595 this year.

Sarraj handed the country’s most sensitive files and secrets to a host of known terrorists who have bled the country of its wealth only to finance other terrorist activities around the world. The United Nations should be very proud of its accomplishments. They gave the keys to the bank to a group of terrorists.

Well financed now, what terrorist acts will take place in the future as a consequence of the UN’s actions? Later this month, the UN should consider Libya as the number one issue to tackle and end all of the proxy wars and remove all foreign fighters from Libya. There is no hope as long as powerful rich nations continue to pour money, equipment and fighters into Libya, only to keep the status quo at war.

BBC News (World)@BBCWorldGeneral Khalifa Haftar’s rival Libya government resigns after Benghazi protests

Protesters in Benghazi on 12 September 2020.

Days later, residents filled the streets of Benghazi and protested for the very same reasons—no food, no money, and people are tired of ineffective leadership. The House of Representatives (HOR), the only legally elected governmental body in Libya since the 2011 War in Libya, vested all of the national defense into the hands of Field Marshall Khalifa Haftar.

Haftar to his credit, had attacked foreign fighters and militias who held Tripoli hostage, but he failed to ever achieve his objective. Turkey and Qatar increased their stakes by importing some 12,000 mercenary fighters from Syria and dumped them into Tripoli to add to a huge burdening and growing complicated mess.

Haftar has retreated back to Sirte, the birthplace of Muammar Gadaffi, then Egypt and the United Arab Emirates increased their positions and stepped up the importation of drones, and other equipment. All of this has netted zero effect and gained no ground nor placed the Libyan National Army and the HOR any closer to regaining control of Libya. In fact, Libya is now worse, and the people are suffering immensely.

Yesterday, protesters stepped up their violence and set fire to government buildings and also Haftar’s own office building as a message to him and his staff that they have lost the confidence and support of his own people. Haftar and staff are on their way out.

All of the protests and other events that have unfolded inside Libya are the beginnings of a new front in an effort to free Libya. A huge upswell of volunteers and former military and intelligence operatives have banded together with the tribes to form the new Libyan People’s Army with no allegiance to Sarraj nor Haftar.

The new army has grown significantly in the last two weeks with even one brigade commander inside Tripoli now pledging his allegiance to the new army, as well as one field commander under Haftar’s command has also defected and stands ready to take action in the coming weeks. Several more militia and brigade commanders are in talks with the LPA to defect and join the new effort.

What sets the LPA apart from Sarraj and Haftar is the fact that it is commanded by Libyans with no foreign influence or agendas. This grassroots effort gave birth to a fast-rising army of the people driven by a fervor for freedom and to end this proxy war between bitter foreign foes.

The crumbling inside both competing governments has taken its toll and lost the confidence of the people. The people of Libya have long suffered these last 9 years from a fraudulent war that was launched by former President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and their allies inside NATO.

The entire war in 2011 was a ruse for Obama and Clinton to manufacture the necessity to go to war because neither of them had any successful foreign policies.

Clinton erased and destroyed emails and any evidence of the extensive efforts to deliver weapons in violation of United States laws as well as violating United Nations Resolution 1970. Civilian casualties and the mass destruction of private property inside Libya has been immense.

Yesterday the entire HOR based in Tobruk resigned, thus ending the entire governmental structure inside eastern Libya creating a power vacuum for the LPA to seize. In the coming weeks, the LPA will continue to grow and increase its membership as the only viable solution to end the 9 years of nightmare inside Libya. Sources have indicated that Haftar and staff will be removed from any remaining control and the LNA will be absorbed into the LPA.

This new collective effort seeks to drive Turkey and Qatar out of Tripoli and all of Libya. Inside sources indicated that all of the foreign fighters imported from Syria will not be allowed to leave.

The LPA seeks to end all regional aggression and restore peace for all of civil society. The stakes are extremely high, and the success of this new effort depends on the bravery and persistence of the Libya people.

By Justin Michaelsburg

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Syrian and Libyan oil: Washington’s hand in the till

People across the middle east continue to suffer war and economic hardships as the price of living on top of coveted oil resources.

Lalkar writers

Despite the clear failure of the western-backed jihadi war of subversion against Syria to impose a change of leadership, thanks to the courageous resistance of the Syrian Arab Army and the fraternal assistance of Russia and Iran, imperialism continues in its efforts to strangle the country economically, so hampering the nation’s reconstruction.

It does this in two ways: by the imposition of sanctions, and by obstructing government access to the nation’s oil wealth, concentrated primarily in the north-east of the country.

Daylight robbery in Syria

Imperialism’s chosen guard dogs in the Kurdish SDF rent-an-army are ostensibly tasked with ‘protecting’ this oil resource from remnants of Islamic State, but their real job is to deprive the Syrian nation of its own oil revenues and hold the door open for imperialist plunder.

This is now openly declared US policy. On 30 July, US secretary of state Mike Pompeo told the Senate foreign relations committee that an (as yet unnamed) American oil company would begin operations in the north-east of Syria in areas under SDF occupation.

To back the SDF militarily, US forces are being established in the provinces of Hasakah and Deir ez-Zor, and US convoys have been ferrying war materiel into the north-east.

This new US aggression has not gone unanswered by patriotic forces however. A Syrian Arab Army checkpoint near the settlement of Tell al-Zakhab recently barred entry of a US patrol into a government-controlled area southeast of the city of Qamishli in Hasakah.

A US reprisal airstrike sadly claimed the life of one soldier and injured two more, but this flouting of Syrian sovereignty is meeting with increasing resistance from people in Syrian towns and villages, who have repeatedly denied passage to US convoys, driving them back into SDF-controlled areas.

One Syrian tribe in the province of Deir ez-Zor, the Al-Uqaydat, has announced the formation of a military council to launch popular resistance against both the Americans and the Kurds. It blames America for the assassination of a tribal elder, Matshar al-Hafl, as well as complaining about other assassinations of its leaders by the SDF.

Clearly, the US has not lost the knack of winning hearts and minds that served it so well in Vietnam.

The price of oil in Libya

Oil is also central to the civil strife that continues to make life a misery for Libyans, who, after seeing over four decades’ worth of economic and social progress wiped out by western-backed counter-revolution and Nato bombs, now live in fear as rival imperialist interests pick through the ruins to plunder the country’s mineral wealth.

Whilst the ‘international community’ pretends to have its sights set on peace and reconciliation in Libya, the biggest obstacle to that outcome is precisely the conflicting vested interests of those imperialists who are backing the two sides.

When the western-backed Benghazi revolt against the Libyan revolution blew up in 2011, the French oil company Total did a secret deal with the rebels, who promised it a tempting range of oil concessions should the revolt prove successful. Britain’s BP and Italy’s ENI had already secured concessions in the 1990s.

Turkey, meanwhile, is anxious to get access to gas deposits under the Mediterranean, and hopes to achieve this by lending its support to the so-called ‘Government of National Accord’ (GNA). However, in spite of the fact that the UN officially recognises the GNA as the legitimate government, Turkey is in practice its only major backer, bringing it into collision with fellow Nato member France, which backs the revolt by the Libyan National Army led by Khalifa Haftar, a stand shared by most other international parties.

Ankara and the GNA have identified an ‘exclusive economic zone’ off the Libyan coast to which Turkey has been granted access – in exchange for increased military assistance.

Whilst most of the blood being shed on all sides is Libyan, direct conflict between France and Turkey erupted on the high seas at the beginning of July.

In theory, the United Nations has put an embargo on arms sales to either side in the war, which Nato is supposed to be policing. According to Paris, however, when one of its ships tried to approach a freighter suspected of running weapons to Libya, three Turkish warships threatened it, lighting it up three times by targeting radar.

Ankara has hotly denied the Paris version of events, as each country accuses the other of breaking the arms embargo.

Efforts by Russia to broker a truce have been hampered by the GNA’s insistence on winning militarily, despite the declared readiness of the LNA to sign up for an immediate ceasefire.

And, behind the scenes, rival imperialist interests prolong and exacerbate the civil conflict as they jostle to be in the best position to take control of Libya’s oil wealth.

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Abolitionist solidarity — Black and white — in the struggle against slavery

Paul Wilcox

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 Abolitionist Kansas Jayhawkers returning from a raid on slaveowners’ camp in 1858. Photo: Kansas Historical Society.

The full story of the struggle to end chattel slavery in the U.S. has yet to be fully told. History books have always minimized the struggle of enslaved people, who from the beginning in 1619 fought slavery at every turn, rebelling, escaping, fighting for the right to fight. Some 180,000 enlisted in the Union army and suffered among the highest casualties in a war where high casualty rates were considered proof of bravery.

The role of white working-class people in the struggle against slavery has also been left out of history books, buried beneath an avalanche of lies, distortions and slander. The ruling class is terrified of multinational solidarity, particularly in the working class. Their history is meant to show that such solidarity is not today, nor ever, possible. The truth is hidden.

“Labor in the white skin can never free itself as long as labor in the black skin is branded.” — Karl Marx, Capital

Marx saw clearly that the white working class had a direct stake in the struggle against slavery, that slavery in the South was closely linked to the exploitation of the working class in the North.

History books focus on the role of bourgeois abolitionists, often based on religious moralism and sentiment. Harriet Beecher Stowe, author of “Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” who portrayed Tom as a passive, Christ-like figure, and William Lloyd Garrison, the editor of the abolitionist newspaper “The Liberator” organized and bravely faced death threats. But it was the active role of white, working-class abolitionists in the struggle against slavery that mattered more. The truth is that alongside the heroic efforts of enslaved Black people, a great many white abolitionists were ready, willing and able to put their lives on the line to end slavery.

Struggle against slavery started in 1619

The struggle of enslaved people in North America began from the first day African captives were forced off the slave ships in Jamestown, Virginia, in 1619, and never stopped. From mass rebellions, escapes, sabotage, and countless other ways, enslaved people fought for their freedom. Rebellion never stopped, whether individually or in larger groups. It is not possible to provide a complete list of rebellions because they were so many, and no one article can do full justice to the struggle. Here are just a few:

The best known is Nat Turner’s heroic revolt in 1831, when Turner and his group escaped and moved from plantation to plantation, gathering more followers until they numbered about 60. They took money, supplies and weapons as they moved and killed 55 white slave owners and their families. Contrary to most reports that said that the rebellion was against all whites, Turner spared homes of poor whites “because Turner believed that the poor white inhabitants ‘thought no better of themselves than they did of the slaves,’” according to one newspaper of the time.

NatTurner planning revolt in 1831 in Southampton County, VA. Photo: National Park Service.

When captured, the State of North Carolina executed 56 Black people; the racist militia killed about 200 more, whether they had been involved in the rebellion or not.

Andry’s Rebellion in 1811 involved more than 200 people and burned at least three plantations. In the The New York City conspiracy trial of 1741, 10 fires were set in New York City as part of a plan to end slavery. Thirty African American men, two white men, and two white women were executed after a phony “jury” trial. In the 1739 Stono Rebellion in South Carolina, enslaved people escaped and killed several slaveholders, burning their homes as they traveled.

Denmark Vesey (also called Telemaque) was a Black leader in Charleston, South Carolina, and worked as a carpenter. In 1822, Vesey was alleged to be the leader of a planned slave revolt. Vesey and his followers were said to be planning to kill slaveholders in Charleston, liberate the slaves, and sail to the Black republic of Haiti for refuge. In June of 1822, he was convicted of being the leader of “the rising.”

Harriet Tubman was an escaped enslaved woman who became a “conductor” on the Underground Railroad, leading enslaved people to freedom before the Civil War, all while carrying a bounty on her head. But she was also a nurse, a Union spy during the Civil War, and a women’s suffrage supporter.

Harriet Tubman in 1868. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

In 1863, Tubman became the head of an espionage and scout network for the Union Army. She provided crucial intelligence to Union commanders about Confederate Army supply routes and troops and helped liberate enslaved people to form Black Union regiments.

One of the most successful expeditions to free enslaved people was the Combahee Ferry raid, which freed over 700 people, led by Harriet Tubman, carried out by 300 Black Union soldiers and Kansas Jayhawker Colonal James Montgomery.

The true story of working-class abolitionism is yet to be told

The entire history of the working class, particularly regarding the struggle against slavery, has been re-written to fit the needs of the captains of capitalism. The following are only some examples of how history has been rewritten. This information is available but hard to find and never part of the popular media, where it belongs.

The struggle in Kansas against slavery led by abolitionist Jayhawkers

“Jayhawk”

Fiction: Today a “Jayhawk” is a fictional blue bird and mascot of the Kansas athletic teams. Jawhawkers in pre-Civil War history are most often called “robbers” “assassins” and “looters” not concerned about slavery. A Hollywood movie in 1959 called the “Jayhawkers” had no Black actors and had no reference whatever to the Civil War.

Fact: The struggle against slavery in Kansas in the 1850s, before the Civil War, was led by an unofficial, unsanctioned abolitionist force called the Jayhawkers, who fought a border war with the slave owners and their hired thugs. The Jayhawkers refused to join units officially sanctioned by the U.S. Army, since the government policy was not anti-slavery until 1863.

The Jayhawkers conducted raids into pro-slavery Missouri to stop the attempt of pro-slavery forces to invade Kansas and make it a slave state.

Abolitionist guerillas raid slave catchers’ town in Osceola, Missouri, in 1861. Graphic: Library of Congress.

One highlight of their struggle was the sacking of Osceola, Missouri, a center of pro-slavery forces. It was done by the Kansas Jayhawkers on Sept. 23, 1861, to push out pro-slavery thugs, after the Union Army left the territory. It was not authorized by Union military authorities, but the town of Osceola was virtually burned to the ground and over 200 enslaved people were freed. Twelve slave owners and slave catchers were rounded up, given a quick trial, and nine were executed. What’s not to like?

John Brown fought in Kansas and led raid on the armory at Harper’s Ferry

Fiction: John Brown was “insane,” “mentally unstable,” “psychotic” and so on.

Fact: Implying that any white man willing to fight and die to end slavery was “insane” fits the racist narrative of the slave owners, and is a terrible insult.

After the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854, the issue of slavery was left up to the white, male settlers. Pro-slavery gangs invaded Kansas. John Brown moved to Kansas and was an early Jayhawker. He lead abolitionists to Pottawatomie Creek in retaliation for a raid on the Free Soil town of Lawrence. Brown and his followers killed five pro-slavery thugs with their own swords (!). It has been called “murder” and a “massacre,” the usual names for revolutionary justice. Brown was involved in numerous raids to aid enslaved people before his daring raid on Harper’s Ferry with 13 white and five Black men, which became a world-famous call for a war on slavery.

Recruiting poster for abolitionist regiment at the start of the Civil War. Photo: Wikipedia.

Brown’s famous words on the gallows tell the real story: “ … had I so interfered in behalf of the rich, the powerful … or any of that class. … Every man in this court would have deemed it an act worthy of reward rather than punishment.”

Northern trade unions went all in on the Civil War

Fiction: Most Union soldiers were racist and only fought because of the draft and to “save the Union.”

Fact: When the Civil War started in 1861, so many workers volunteered for the Union Army that whole unions in the north virtually ceased to exist. Irish workers, immigrating from famine at home, “had a battle record second to none.”  Some 200,000 German workers, many immigrants from the crushed revolutions of 1848 in Europe, who settled in St. Louis, brought their revolutionary spirit with them to battle the slaveholders. Refugees from the 1848 revolutions came from other countries as well. English Chartists (a working-class movement for reform in the 1840s), Welsh miners, 40,000 Canadians, the Garibaldi Guard of Italian workers in New York City, and so on, volunteered by the many thousands. But none surpassed the 186,000 Black soldiers, mostly freedmen, who volunteered to fight when finally allowed to enlist in 1863. (Labor’s Untold Story, United Electrical Workers of America, 1955)

This is not to say that there wasn’t any racism among Union soldiers, reflecting the prevailing attitudes in the North. The Democratic Party, for example, controlled by slave-owning interests, pulled no punches in its racist depictions in political campaigns, stating that if slavery ended the freedmen would come north, steal jobs, and lower wages, not unlike the Trump administration says today. Actually the opposite was true. Ending slavery strengthened the hand of labor.

Fiction: All Confederate soldiers loved General Lee, were happy to fight for the slave-holding planters, and had high morale, unlike the Union Army.

Fact: Certainly the Confederate Army was a cesspool of racism, from the officer corp. through the ranks. But the desertion rate in the Confederate Army was even higher (10-15 percent) than the Union Army (9-12 percent). r

Almost completely unknown was the anti-Confederate guerilla war in Mississippi led by a poor white farmer, Newton Knight, who organized several hundred Confederate deserters to declare Jones County to be a “Free State” that seceded from the Confederacy. If Knight hadn’t spent years after the Civil War in seclusion, finally calling a journalist to record what happened, his story would have been buried forever. 

Experience in the Civil War changed consciousness among Union soldiers

Consciousness changes in any struggle. When the Union soldiers saw how horribly enslaved people were treated, sentiment for abolition grew; when they saw the widespread poverty in the South, for enslaved people as well as poor whites, abolitionism grew; when Confederate officers arrogantly entered Union camps to demand the return of “their” escaped slaves, abolitionism grew; and when white Union soldiers saw the unparalleled bravery and fighting spirit of Black soldiers, sentiment for abolition grew. 

In 1864, when the election was a referendum on the war, between Lincoln and the pro-slavery Democrat, formerly popular Union General McClellan, the soldiers’ vote was at least 80 percent for Lincoln, 90 percent by some accounts.  (What They Fought For, by James M. McPherson, 1995)

Suspect history of the racist anti-draft riot of 1863 in New York City

The racist uprising in New York City against the Union draft law was mostly Irish immigrants, who blamed Black people for unemployment, burned, looted and lynched for four days, burning an orphan asylum. That wealthy men could buy their way out of the draft for $300 (while a skilled worker could earn $10 a week) was somehow blamed on the free Black community.

However, New York City at the time was a hotbed of “copperheads,” supporters of slavery in the North. The biggest banks in New York City were intimately connected with the Confederacy, and their profits largely came from slavery. The list of banks involved reads like a “who’s who” of Wall Street: JP Morgan, Bank of America, Lehman Brothers, Wachovia Bank, Wells Fargo, and other banks all got rich from the slave trade.

The Irish population of New York City in 1850 was about 200,000; about 1,200 to 1,500 took part in the racist riot. https://daily.jstor.org/race-and-labor-in-the-1863-new-york-city-draft-riots/  The U.S. government today enables well-financed racist militias to roam freely; it is hard to believe that the banks had no hand in financing lumpen elements in the working class to lead the revolt.  As was mentioned, Irish soldiers had a strong war record in the Civil War.

Even the history of piracy has been completely re-written

Fiction: Pirates were bloodthirsty killers who made their captives “walk the plank.”

Fact: Real pirates, whatever their individual stories, were democratic and egalitarian, and played a role in the struggle against slavery: The most famous pirate ships in history were captured slave ships. Blackbeard’s Queen Anne’s Revenge and Samuel Bellamy’s Whydah were both stolen from slavers and turned into pirate vessels.

When a pirate crew captured a slave ship, they got a whole new crew. Often, they’d go into the lower decks, set the slaves free, and encourage them to join. Blackbeard, for example, had 60 Black crew members on a ship of 100 men. On pirate ships, all crew members, Black and white, had the same rights.

International Workmen’s Association (First International) tried to continue struggle

In September 1871, 20,000 people marched for the eight-hour day in New York City, with the slogan “Workingmen of All Countries Unite.” African American members of the waiters’ union and plasterers’ union joined the march to great applause. This was a real advance in the city where eight years earlier racist anti-draft riots killed and destroyed the homes of Black people. (Reconstruction: the Battle for Democracy 1865-1876 by James Allen, International Publishers)

But the forces of racism and reaction were to overwhelm the progressive movement. Union troops were withdrawn from the South in a historic betrayal of the freedmen in 1876. The Panic (depression) of 1873 brought renewed workers’ struggle in the North. Some of the troops withdrawn from the South were used against the Great Railroad Strike of 1877, killing over 100 workers in several states.

History is re-written to protect the powers that be

All movements look to the past for inspiration, and the current rebellion today against racism and police murder is no exception. Solidarity is a critical component of every movement. Workers on strike need and depend on solidarity from other workers, for example. The ruling class is not very afraid of middle-class movements because they know the middle class is not revolutionary on its own. They are terrified of working-class movements and the solidarity that comes from common class interests because they are all too aware that workers are the true grave-diggers of capitalism. We all have a stake in the struggle against racism and national oppression.

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Pompeo tries to extort cash from struggling Sudan

by: Mitchell Plitnick

Mike Pompeo’s Middle East trip during the Republican National Convention has turned into a tour de force of scandal and failure. In that sense, it mirrors well both his tenure as secretary of state, and his boss’s time as president.

Starting in Jerusalem, Pompeo made a mockery of his office by giving a political speech, which might have been a violation of the Hatch Act, and doing so from foreign soil, a breach of diplomatic tradition in the United States.

Pompeo also visited Bahrain, where his attempt to convince the king to join the United Arab Emirates in normalizing relations with Israel was firmly rebuffed, and wound up his trip in Oman. There, Pompeo is reported to have discussed the ongoing blockade of Qatar by fellow Gulf Cooperation Council members Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Bahrain. It is notable that Pompeo did not say that he had discussed this issue with Bahrain or the UAE, as one would expect if he were trying to resolve the stalemate. Instead, he discussed it with Oman, which has long been leading efforts to repair relations between the Gulf states.

Pompeo also attempted to convince Oman to increase efforts to normalize relations with Israel. Omani leaders have met with Israeli officials, including a 2018 visit to the country by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. But there is no indication that Oman is prepared to move further than it already has in normalizing ties with Israel for the time being, despite some raised hopes in both Jerusalem and Washington. 

When he departed Jerusalem, Pompeo made the first-ever direct flight from Israel to Sudan. It was there that the secretary would demonstrate just how degraded the United States’ foreign policy has become under Donald Trump, and with Pompeo at the helm of the State Department.

Pompeo told Sudanese leaders that the United States would consider removing them from the list of state sponsors of terrorism — if Sudan pays us $330 million.

Let’s put this in context. In 1989, Omar al-Bashir led a bloodless coup and took over Sudan. He would rule for the next three decades, with an iron fist. Natural disasters, dictatorship, civil war, massive human rights violations, even genocide marked the history of Bashir’s rule. Sudan’s economy has been devastated many times, and it is one of the poorest countries in the world.

Last year, a popular, non-violent revolution forced Bashir out. The revolt’s leaders made a deal with the remaining military leadership to transition to a civilian and more democratic government. It’s a shaky arrangement, with many elements in the military government reluctant to cede power to civilian rule, and leading activists wary of the military. As University of San Francisco Professor Stephen Zunes described it to me after visiting Sudan in January, it is “a civilian-led government with a majority on the three main governing bodies, albeit with strong military representation.”

The transition has been difficult and uneasy, and it is complicated further by Sudan’s presence, along with only Iran and Syria, on the U.S. State Sponsors of Terrorism — or SST — list. Zunes told me, “The U.S. sanctions make it difficult for other countries and international financial institutions to do business with Sudan.”

Although many sanctions on Sudan were lifted in recent years, the country remains isolated from the global monetary system — the International Monetary Fund and World Bank — due to its SST listing. This prevents it from getting the capital it needs to recover from the devastation it suffered during Bashir’s rule, and the economic impact of losing much of its natural resources when South Sudan split off from the rest of country in 2011.

In other words, the Sudanese people desperately need to be removed from the SST list. Currently, about one in four Sudanese faces a shortage of food, and inflation in June was measured around 130 percent, a substantial rise over the African Development Bank’s already grave projection of 61.5 percent.

Sudan’s entire GDP was just $18.9 billion in 2019, and it is expected to drop to just $9.7 billion in 2020. That’s the country we are trying to extort $330 million from, a sum that would represent less than 0.00007 percent of our 2020 budget.

This is cruel and inhumane. It’s made all the more so by the fact that Sudan is being held responsible for crimes committed by Osama bin Laden, who was expelled from Sudan long before the September 11 attacks and, in any case, was only allowed in the country for a few years by Bashir and one of his aides, Hassan al-Turabi. Whether Sudan should be held responsible now that Bashir has been ousted is dubious but given the effects of the SST listing on the Sudanese people, it’s also irrelevant. A stable Sudan might be able to grapple with these issues and, if necessary, the costs. But extorting an impoverished country for what to it is a significant sum, but the U.S. amounts to less than pocket change is intolerable — especially as that country is actively trying to become more free and open.

Pompeo also tried to convince the Sudanese to open normal relations with Israel, something that had been floated this past February, when Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with Sudanese General Abdel-Fattah Burhan, the head of the ruling sovereign council, and hastily announced that Sudan and Israel would move to establish normal relations.

The angry response from the Sudanese people made Burhan back off quickly. Sudan’s Information Minister Fasial Saleh reacted similarly this week to Pompeo, stating “The transitional government does not have the mandate… to decide on normalization with Israel. This matter will be decided after the completion of the transitional authority.” In other words, come back to us when we have a permanent government, we can’t handle the disruption now.

In February, it seemed Sudanese leaders were testing the waters on warming relations with Israel, knowing such a move would please Washington and maybe convince it to remove Sudan from the SST list. Whether the Sudanese government transitions to democracy, reverts to a military dictatorship, or lands somewhere in between, its economy desperately needs the international assistance it cannot access while still on the infamous list.

The Trump administration need not have attached a price tag for Sudan’s long-ago dalliance with Osama Bin Laden. There is little to be gained by this maneuver except to extend the suffering of the Sudanese people and make it harder for the civilian, democratic forces in that country to prevail. But this is the nature and character of the Trump administration. If Sudan should finally find its economic and democratic balance, they are not likely to forget how the United States treated them as they tried to build their country.

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Egypt’s counterterrorism strategy in Sinai: challenges and failures

by: Khalil al-Anani

Egypt has been fighting terrorism and an insurgency in the Sinai Peninsula for the past decade and a half with no sign of a decisive victory. Although the Egyptian military has conducted several military operations against radicals and extremists, it has not been able to eliminate or defeat them. Egypt’s counterterrorism strategy, particularly in Sinai, is flawed and counterproductive. Instead of eliminating and rooting out terrorism, it has created fertile ground for radical and militant groups to thrive, recruit new members, and intensify their attacks against the Egyptian military and security forces as well as civilians. This has led to the loss of thousands of lives and created instability in Sinai.

Sinai’s dilemma

The Sinai Peninsula spans approximately 23,000 square miles and constitutes 6 percent of Egypt’s total land area. It has a small population of 550,000—out of Egypt’s total population of 100 million—and most of them (around 434,000) live in North Sinai where the insurgency is active, particularly in the cities of El-Arish, Sheikh Zuweid, Rafah, and Bir al-Abed. The population of North Sinai is composed of a complex mix of tribes and families in which Bedouins represent about 70 percent of the total population. The rest includes residents of Palestinian origin, migrants from Egypt’s mainland, and a mix of Bosnians, Turks, and other ethnicities who settled in Al-Arish during the Ottoman era (10 percent).

Over the past decades, the North Sinai region has suffered from a number of political, economic, social, and development problems. Issues of marginalization, unemployment, poor governance, poverty and, most recently, repression and displacement have alienated the Bedouin and other residents of Sinai and increased their grievances. According to some reports, the Sinai region has one of Egypt’s highest unemployment rates, with less than 50 percent of its people employed. According to the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics, poverty in Sinai reached 38.4 percent in 2018. In addition, about 70 percent of Sinai’s population does not have access to water. These problems have been largely ignored by the central government in Cairo.

Over the past decades, the North Sinai region has suffered from a number of political, economic, social, and development problems.

Furthermore, the Egyptian government has always perceived Sinai as a security threat and dealt with the Bedouin population with suspicion, treating them as second-class citizens. For decades, the Bedouin have been accused of collaborating with Israel, particularly after its occupation of Sinai in 1967, and hence, they are perceived as not trustworthy. In fact, most of the Bedouin do not hold Egyptian citizenship and have not been politically represented until recently. In addition, they are not allowed to join the army, the police, and military academies or to hold senior positions in the government. Securitizing the government’s problems with the Bedouin has turned Sinai into a security dilemma and a headache for all Egyptian administrations. Neither of the regimes of Hosni Mubarak or Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi has tackled the root causes of this dilemma. In fact the opposite has been true: their harsh and brutal policies against the Bedouin and the residents of Sinai have alienated these populations. This has enabled militant groups to thrive, recruit followers, and expand their activities and influence all over the North Sinai region.

The roots of Sinai’s insurgency

The problem of terrorism and insurgency in Sinai has lingered for years. It began under the Mubarak regime when militant Islamists conducted a series of deadly attacks in TabaSharm el-Sheikh, and Dahab and in the South Sinai Governorate during 2004-2006, killing and wounding hundreds of people (and particularly foreign tourists who were visiting these cities). The attacks were carried out by a radical group called al-Tawhid wa’l-Jihad (Unification and Struggle) whose members included Bedouin and men of Palestinian origin in North Sinai, specifically Al-Arish district. These attacks ushered a new era of insurgency and terrorism that Egypt has never experienced before, even at the height of the terrorism wave in the 1980s and 1990s. Mubarak’s security policy in confronting militants in Sinai exacerbated the problem and created grievances among the Bedouin and local residents. For example, following these attacks, the security forces arrested thousands of the Bedouin and the Sinai residents, including women and children. The regime used them as “a bargaining chip to secure the surrender of the male tribal member—an unforgivable and unforgettable violation of tribal traditions.” While Mubarak’s security forces arrested and killed some of the leaders of the al-Tawhid wa’l-Jihad group, other members remained at large and sought revenge from the regime.

After the uprising of 2011, radicals and extremists in Sinai regrouped and established different networks such as the well-known Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis (ABM) group. Between February 2011 and June 2013, ABM conducted attacks on the Egyptian-Israeli border and targeted the gas pipeline between Egypt and Israel several times. However, after the coup of 2013, ABM began targeting Egyptian military and security forces not only in Sinai but also in Egypt’s mainland. For example, on December 24, 2013, the group bombed the police headquarters in Cairo, killing at least 15 people and wounding more than a hundred others.

February 2011 and June 2013, Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis (ABM) conducted attacks on the Egyptian-Israeli border and targeted the gas pipeline between Egypt and Israel several times.

In November 2014, ABM joined the Islamic State (IS), gave allegiance to former IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, and changed its name to Wilayat Sina. Over the past seven years, Wilayat Sina has carried out several deadly and massive attacks against the Egyptian army, security forces, and civilians which claimed the lives of thousands of people. For example, in October 2015 the group claimed responsibility for the downing of a Russian airplane, which killed all 224 people aboard. It also attacked Al-Rawdah mosque in the city of Bir al-Abed, killing more than 300 people in November 2017. Moreover, media reports claim that Wilayat Sina controls five towns in Bir al-Abed’s vicinity—Rabaa, Katiya, Aktiya, Janayen, and Merih. If true, it would be a dramatic shift in the group’s tactics that would pose a serious challenge to the Egyptian government and its western allies. For its part, according to some reports, the Egyptian military and security forces have killed over 7,000 militants and arrested around 27,000 as of a year ago.

Egypt’s counterterrorism strategy

Since he assumed power in 2014, Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi adopted a heavily militarized strategy in dealing with the insurgency in Sinai. Its aim was to eliminate the activities of militant groups, particularly Wilayat Sina, and uproot the insurgency from the peninsula. To achieve this, the Egyptian military conducted military operations in the cities of Rafah, Sheikh Zuweid, and Al-Arish. These operations followed three phases: the first began in October 2014 after Sisi declared a state of emergency in northeastern Sinai that included Rafah, Sheikh Zuweid, Al-Arish, and many villages on the Egyptian border with Gaza. The operation focused on the cities of Rafah and Sheikh Zuweid, where the Egyptian military attempted to eliminate the militants’ activities there by creating a buffer zone of 1,000 meters on the Gaza-Rafah border. This military operation led to the destruction of more than 1,500 homes, the razing of hundreds of hectares of farmland, and the forced and illegal displacement of around 3,200 families of Bedouin and residents of both cities.

The second phase started on September 3, 2015 after Wilayat Sina launched a major attack using a Kornet missile attack on a navy ship. On September 7, 2015, Sisi’s regime started another military operation called “The Martyr’s Right,” described by the Egyptian media as the “largest and most comprehensive operation aimed at rooting out and killing ‘terrorists’.” As Egypt’s media amplified the operation and praised its success in eliminating the insurgency in Sinai, Wilayat Sina intensified its attacks against the Egyptian military and security forces, which resulted in the killing of hundreds of officers and civilians over the following years.

Recently, the Sisi government changed its tactics in fighting the insurgency in Sinai. In addition to the military offensive, it attempted to attract and co-opt some of the tribal leaders in order to fight alongside the Egyptian army.

Phase three began in February 2018 when the Egyptian army launched a “comprehensive military campaign,” dubbed “Operation Sinai 2018,” that aimed to “purge the country of terrorists.” Recently, the Sisi government changed its tactics in fighting the insurgency in Sinai. In addition to the military offensive, it attempted to attract and co-opt some of the tribal leaders in order to fight alongside the Egyptian army. Some media reports pointed to an agreement between the Egyptian army and some of the elder leaders of the Tarabin, Swarka, and Rumailat tribes. However, while the Egyptian government claims that the current campaign has weakened and eliminated the insurgency in Sinai, the reality on the ground does not support that claim. Over the past two years, not only has Wilayat Sinai conducted sophisticated attacks against the military and police forces but it also extended its activities to other areas such as Bir al-Abed and the surrounding villages. Moreover, it has acquired more advanced equipment and developed its guerrilla war tactics.  As Omar Ashour states, “the Sinai insurgency has grown from mainly an urban terrorism campaign of bombing soft targets … to a structured, low-to-mid level insurgency, aiming primarily for ‘hard’ targets.”

A failed strategy?

Egypt has been fighting terrorism in Sinai for many years with no sign of an end or of a decisive success. Therefore, some analysts argue that Egypt’s counterterrorism strategy has been focusing on containing the insurgency in Sinai rather than eradicating and uprooting it.

Despite the fact that the problem of terrorism in the peninsula began during Mubarak’s era, it has worsened under Sisi’s regime for many reasons. First, Sisi adopted a highly security-oriented strategy in fighting the insurgency without acknowledging the political, social, and economic aspects of the situation in Sinai. His counterinsurgency policies have exacerbated the challenges there and created many other problems. Second, this strategy is largely driven by revenge, collective punishment, and a pressing desire to achieve quick success against the repeated attacks of Wilayat Sina, instead of being based on a long-term vision that seeks to tackle the root causes of the Sinai problem. Third, the Egyptian military and security forces have committed grave human rights violations against the Bedouin and other Sinai residents, and these policies have fueled alienation and rage. According to a detailed and comprehensive report by Human Rights Watch, “the Egyptian military and police have carried out systematic and widespread arbitrary arrests—including of children—enforced disappearances, torture, and extrajudicial killings, collective punishment, and forced evictions” in Sinai. Fourth, the displacement of thousands of the Bedouin and local residents in Sinai has increased their grievances and radicalized some of them, spurring many to join militant groups in order to take revenge against the regime. Finally, using tribes in the fight against the insurgency has created many problems as some of their members are regularly kidnapped, tortured, and killed by the militants.

The Egyptian military and security forces have committed grave human rights violations against the Bedouin and other Sinai residents, and these policies have fueled alienation and rage.

Egypt’s counterterrorism strategy in Sinai has failed miserably in eliminating the danger of terrorism. In fact, it has been proven to be counterproductive and has deepened the serious and dangerous situation in Sinai instead of resolving it. This raises many questions about the competence of Sisi’s government and its ability to fight terrorism effectively.

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UN Says New Polio Outbreak in Sudan Caused by Oral Vaccine

By Maria Cheng

These are excerpts of a an AP Report

The World Health Organization says a new polio outbreak in Sudan is linked to an ongoing vaccine-sparked epidemic in Chad — a week after the U.N. health agency declared the African continent free of the wild polio virus.

In a statement this week, WHO said two children in Sudan — one from South Darfur state and the other from Gedarif state, close to the border with Ethiopia and Eritrea — were paralyzed in March and April. Both had been recently vaccinated against polio. WHO said initial outbreak investigations show the cases are linked to an ongoing vaccine-derived outbreak in Chad that was first detected last year and is now spreading in Chad and Cameroon.

“There is local circulation in Sudan and continued sharing of transmission with Chad,” the U.N. agency said, adding that genetic sequencing confirmed numerous introductions of the virus into Sudan from Chad.

On Monday, WHO warned that the risk of further spread of the vaccine-derived polio across central Africa and the Horn of Africa was “high,” noting the large-scale population movements in the region.

More than a dozen African countries are currently battling outbreaks of polio caused by the virus, including Angola, Congo, Nigeria and Zambia.

To read complete article, click here

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Haftar rejects GNA’s call for Libya ceasefire

LNA dismisses ceasefire announcement as ‘marketing’ stunt, says GNA is planning a Turkish-backed offensive on Sirte.

A member of the self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA) commanded by Khalifa Haftar stands on a military vehicle at one of their sites west of Sirte, Libya [Esam Omran Al-Fetori/Reuters]
A member of the self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA) commanded by Khalifa Haftar stands on a military vehicle at one of their sites west of Sirte, Libya [Esam Omran Al-Fetori/Reuters]

Renegade military commander Khalifa Haftar’s forces have dismissed a ceasefire announcement by Libya’s internationally recognised government as a “marketing” stunt.

Ahmed Mismari, spokesman for Haftar’s self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA), said on Sunday rival forces from the war-torn country’s west were mobilising around front lines in the centre of the country.

In a media briefing, he said the eastern-based forces were ready to respond to any attempted attack on its positions around the coastal city of Sirte and Jufra, further inland.

Mismari’s comments were the first by the LNA after the announcement on Friday of a ceasefire and a call for the resumption of oil production by the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA), headed by Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj.

“The initiative that al-Sarraj signed is for media marketing,” Mismari said. “There is a military build-up and the transfer of equipment to target our forces in Sirte,” he added.

“If al-Sarraj wanted a ceasefire, he would have drawn his forces back, not advanced towards our units in Sirte.”

Mismari made no reference to a parallel ceasefire call also issued on Friday by the head of Libya’s eastern-based parliament, Aguila Saleh. Saleh has gained influence compared with Haftar since Turkish military support for the GNA forced the LNA to retreat from a 14-month offensive on Tripoli in June.

Al Jazeera’s Malik Traina, reporting from Misrata, said: “Previously in any negotiations or any peace talks in Libya, Haftar was a very significant member and very involved in these kinds of talks – and he’s feeling sidelined now.”

Traina noted this was not the first time Haftar had rejected a ceasefire agreement. In January, Turkey and Russia also tried to support a truce that was signed by the GNA in Moscow, but not by Haftar.

“If Haftar’s foreign backers stop supporting him, does this mean that the GNA will be able to make advances? Does this mean that Saleh and al-Sarraj will be able to come to a peaceful agreement and bring about a lasting peace in Libya? That remains to be seen,” Traina said.

 Meanwhile on Saturday, Libya’s High Council of State, an advisory body to the GNA, vehemently rejected any dialogue with Haftar.

In a statement, it underlined the need to seriously work to end the “state of insurgency” in the country through an immediate ceasefire and the need to enable the government to take control over all of Libyan soil.

“Any dialogue or agreement should be under the Libyan political agreement, which regulated the mechanism of dialogue to be only between elected bodies,” it added.

With Haftar loyalists blocking oil facilities in the country in recent months, the council also called for resuming the production and export of oil – Libya’s main source of income – and holding those responsible for the closure of the facilities accountable.

Libya splintered into rival political and armed groupings after the uprising that toppled and killed longtime ruler Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

The oil-rich country remains deeply divided between factions based in the east and west that back rival governments and parliaments.

The conflict has become an arena for regional rivalries, with Haftar being supported by Egypt, Russia and the United Arab Emirates and the GNA having the backing of Turkey and Qatar.

There has been little fighting since June. In the past, both sides have accused each other of quickly violating truces and using them to rearm.

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World-Renowned Actors, Filmmakers, and Writers Call on Egyptian Authorities to Release Sanaa Seif

World-Renowned Actors, Filmmakers, and Writers Call on Egyptian Authorities to Release Sanaa Seif

By : Jadaliyya Reports

Over two hundred of the world’s most prominent artists, along with nearly two dozen leading human rights groups and film organizations, are calling for the immediate release of Sanaa Seif, a film editor arrested in Cairo last month.

Among the signatories to a public statement published on Tuesday, August 4th are Juliette Binoche, Laurent Cantet, Noam Chomsky, JM Coetzee, Judi Dench, Claire Denis, Dave Eggers, Danny Glover, Paul Greengrass, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Rebecca Hall, Naomie Harris, Khaled Hosseini, Anish Kapoor, Naomi Klein, Mike Leigh, Ken Loach, Paul Mason, Simon McBurney, Ruth Negga, Thandie Newton, Michael Ondaatje, Philip Pullman, Miranda Richardson, Andrea Riseborough, Arundhati Roy, and Stellan Skarsgård. 

In addition to Seif, the statement calls on Egyptian authorities to release “all those detained for peacefully exercising their rights,” and to “end the abuse of pre-trial detention” as well as a “global assertion of the rights of all people to live in dignity and justice.” 

Leading advocacy groups, including Amnesty International, PEN International, Human Rights Watch and Reprieve, have also signed onto the letter, as have prominent film organizations, including Sundance Institute, IDFA, the European Film Academy and Société des Réalisateurs de Films.

Campaigners are inviting artists and members of the public to sign on to the call at:

www.freedomfor.network/sanaa 

Seif was abducted by plainclothes security forces in front of the public prosecutor’s office in Cairo on June 23rd, where she had arrived to file a complaint as a victim of a physical assault and robbery that occurred in front of the Tora prison complex the day before. She is currently being held in pretrial detention, a widespread practice used by Egyptian authorities to keep thousands locked up for months or years without ever being convicted of a crime. 

A new video on the case of Sanaa Seif was published on freedomfor.network on Tuesday, August 4th at 9am GMT: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wSY8LhPt0AI&feature=emb_title

A film editor, writer, and activist, Seif worked on the Oscar-nominated documentary The Square, and the award-winning film In the Last Days of the City. Her brother, Alaa Abd El Fattah — a prominent figure of the 2011 revolution—was released from prison last year, after serving a five-year sentence on trumped-up charges. Upon his release, he had to turn himself into a police station for 12 hours every day, from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m, as part of an additional five-year probationary sentence. He was re-arrested in September, and remains behind bars in pretrial detention. 

Seif and Abd El Fattah are among thousands of activists, artists, lawyers, journalists, LGBTQ+ people, writers, publishers, librarians, and translators held in prison in Egypt today.

Since the coronavirus outbreak, human rights groups have documented multiple cases of COVID-19 inside Egypt’s crowded prisons as well as several deaths. In March, the Ministry of Interior banned all prison visits and thousands of detainees have little to no communication with their families in nearly five months.

For additional information, including the full public statement, list of signatories, background information, video material, and photos visit: https://www.freedomfor.network/sanaa/ 

For media inquiries email: freedomforsanaa@gmail.com

Posted in Egypt, Human RightsComments Off on World-Renowned Actors, Filmmakers, and Writers Call on Egyptian Authorities to Release Sanaa Seif

US confused policy on Libya encourages Turkey

By: Mona El-Mahrouki

Washington has kept a perplexing silence about Ankara’s transfer of thousands of militants from Idlib.

Militants loyal to Libya’s Turkish-backed government in Tripoli. (REUTERS)


TUNIS –Ankara is taking advantage of the US’s confused policy in Libya and President Donald Trump’s preoccupation with the volatile situation in the US since the killing of an African-American citizen by a white policeman to torpedo international efforts to stop the fighting in Libya, which are seen by many as the last chance to prevent the conflict from slipping into a new phase that could lead to greater Russian intervention and ultimately the “Syrianisation” of the conflict.

On Wednesday, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu announced his country’s rejection of the Egyptian initiative to solve the Libyan crisis, describing it as an attempt to save Libyan National Army (LNA) leader Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar after the losses he suffered on the battlefield.

“The effort for a Cairo cease fire was stillborn,” Cavusoglu told a Turkish newspaper. “If a cease-fire is to be signed, it should be across a platform that brings all sides together.”

Turkey’s position defies the US National Security Council’s support of the Cairo initiative. On Sunday, the Council said it was hoping that the Egyptian peace initiative on Libya would lead to a ceasefire, the withdrawal of foreign forces and the return of UN-led political negotiations.

For his part, President Donald Trump welcomed, during a telephone conversation on Wednesday with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, the Egyptian efforts towards a political settlement in Libya, and towards ending the violence there by supporting a ceasefire, and acting to implement the will of the Libyan people and their desire for security and stability. Trump’s move signals the beginning of the White House’s efforts to retake control of the Libyan file from the Department of State.

Some, however, have described the US support for the ceasefire in Libya as just a “formal” gesture, saying that the US is more likely to back Ankara’s intransigence and its persistence in continuing the fighting until it achieves control of all military bases and oil fields and terminals. And it is this scenario that could prompt Russia to intervene directly in Libya, considering the weak capabilities of the LNA to face up to Turkey.

Former US Ambassador to Turkey Eric Edelman and former Deputy Commander of the US European Command General Charles Wald said the subversive role played by the regime of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Libya constituted a threat to the vital interests of the United States and a direct challenge to Washington’s efforts to encourage energy projects for peaceful purposes in the Middle East.

Edelman and Wald considered that the Trump administration’s reluctance to lead any initiatives to stop confrontations in Libya gave way to the aggressive Turkish intervention in Libya, which is exacerbating the conflict there. Both former officials were quoted in statements to the digital magazine Breaking Defense as insisting that Erdogan’s actions in Libya give the opportunity for the terrorist organisation ISIS to reorganise its ranks and expose Europe to a new wave of refugees and migrants.

One of the most disturbing aspects of the Turkish intervention in Libya is Erdogan’s transfer of thousands of Syrian extremists from Idlib to Tripoli, which represents a tremendous security threat not only to Libya but also to the entire region. The American administration, however, has been observing a perplexing silence regarding this particular aspect.

Turkey has been accused by the LNA of supporting militias and extremist Islamist groups since the fall of the late Colonel Muammar Qaddafi’s regime. That covert and indirect support in the beginning became full blown and in broad daylight a few months following the launching of the LNA’s military campaign against Tripoli.

With the signing of the security and military cooperation memo of understanding and the maritime border demarcation agreement by Erdogan and the GNA’s Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj, Turkish intervention intensified.

US Ambassador to Libya Richard Norland found the Turkish intervention in Libya justified since it came in response to Russia’s intervention, he said. The ambassador’s excuses were seen by many as part of a political and media campaign led by the US Department of State meant to exaggerate Russia’s role in Libya and find justification for America’s support of Islamists and their militias, even though the latter were behind the 2012 assassination in Benghazi of US Ambassador Christopher Stevens. That happened before Haftar’s LNA liberated the city and kicked the extremist groups out.

On Wednesday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo did not miss the opportunity to highlight the Russian intervention but chose not to mention Turkish intransigence. “It’s time … for all Libyans and all sides to act so that neither Russia or any other country can interfere in Libya’s sovereignty for its own game,” Pompeo said.

Be that as it may, the US position on the crisis in Libya was and still is confused. During the 2016 election campaign, Trump made a big deal of the situation in Libya and promised to get rid of the militias there, accusing his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton, who was then secretary of state in the Obama administration, of supporting the chaos in Libya.

Just a few days after the launching of the battle for Tripoli, Trump made a phone call to Haftar, which many considered as a sign of the White House’s backing of the campaign. But then the Islamists regained their composure and dispatched the GNA’s Interior Minister Fathi Bashagha to Washington, where he met with a number of US officials, especially in the State Department.

Many also believe that the resignation last September of former US National Security Adviser John Bolton, who was known for his hostility to the Islamists, must have opened the way for support of the Sarraj government in Tripoli to move freely and impose their views on the US administration.

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