Colin Powell’s Lies Stampeded US into Iraq, and now…….

Boehner and Netanyahu’s Lies Press for War on Iran, or no deal on curbing nukes.  AlJazeera digs into the facts with whistle-blower-released Israeli Intelligence Cables, as reported, below, on Democracy Now.  The video (followed by transcript) also contains details of the US-Israeli relations, as well as revealing that the collaborationist Mahmoud Abbas, head of the Palestinian Authority, had prior knowledge about the Israeli assault on Palestinians in Gaza, but did not reveal or sound the alarm.  A very interesting report, from start to finish.  While Democracy Now leans toward the White House challenge to the Boehner-Netanyahu obstructionist initiative, they do not go into why the Democrat’s US-hegemonic-imperialist interests are expressing some rare tactical differences with Republican-allied-Israel’s regionally aggressive pursuits.  That is a subject for further study and analysis.  —  Frontlines ed.]
Democracy Now, February 24, 2015 — As Netanyahu Tries to Stop U.S.-Iran Deal, Leaked Cables Show Israeli Spies Reject His Nuke Claims

Guest:  Clayton Swisher, director of investigative journalism at Al Jazeera.

In what has been described as the biggest intelligence leak since Edward Snowden, Al Jazeera has begun publishing a series of spy cables from the world’s top intelligence agencies. In one cable, the Israeli spy agency Mossad contradicts Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s own dire warnings about Iran’s ability to produce a nuclear bomb within one year. In a report to South African counterparts in October 2012, the Mossad concluded Iran was “not performing the activity necessary to produce weapons.” The explosive disclosure comes just as the United States and Iran have reported progress toward reaching a nuclear deal, an outcome Netanyahu will try to undermine when he addresses the U.S. Congress next week. We go to Doha to speak with Clayton Swisher, the head of Al Jazeera’s investigative unit, which broke the Iran story and several others in a series of articles called, “The Spy Cables.”

AARON MATÉ: Just days before his controversial speech to the U.S. Congress, an explosive report has raised new questions about Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s effort to thwart a nuclear deal with Iran. According to Al Jazeera, Israel’s spy agency, the Mossad, contradicted Netanyahu’s own dire warnings about Iran’s ability to produce a nuclear bomb within one year. In a leaked cable to South African counterparts in October 2012, the Mossad concluded Iran was, quote, “not performing the activity necessary to produce weapons.” The assessment was sent just weeks after Netanyahu went before the U.N. General Assembly with a far different message. Netanyahu held up a cartoonish diagram of a bomb with a fuse to illustrate what he called Iran’s alleged progress on a nuclear weapon.

PRIME MINISTER BENJAMIN NETANYAHU: This is a bomb. This is a fuse. In the case of Iran’s nuclear plans to build a bomb, this bomb has to be filled with enough enriched uranium. And Iran has to go through three stages. By next spring, at most by next summer, at current enrichment rates, they will have finished the medium enrichment and move on to the final stage. From there, it’s only a few months, possibly a few weeks, before they get enough enriched uranium for the first bomb. A red line should be drawn right here, before—before Iran completes the second stage of nuclear enrichment necessary to make a bomb.

AMY GOODMAN: That was Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in September of 2012. The Mossad assessment contradicting Netanyahu was sent just weeks after, but it was likely written earlier. It said Iran, quote, “does not appear to be ready” to enrich uranium to the higher levels needed for a nuclear weapon. A bomb would require 90 percent enrichment, but the Israeli spy agency, Mossad, found Iran had only enriched to 20 percent. That number was later reduced under an interim nuclear deal the following year.

That 2013 agreement laid the basis for the ongoing talks in Geneva this week between Secretary of State John Kerry and his Iranian counterpart, Mohammad Javad Zarif. The U.S. and Iran are seeking a framework agreement to curb Iran’s nuclear program and impose international monitoring in return for an easing of U.S.-led sanctions before a March 31st deadline. The talks appear to be gaining momentum, with the involvement of high-ranking officials from both sides and leaked details of a plan to limit Iranian nuclear production for at least 10 years. They are set to resume next week.

AARON MATÉ: The advancing talks and the leaked cable come just as Netanyahu prepares for a controversial U.S. visit, where he’ll try to undermine the nuclear deal. On March 3rd, Netanyahu will address a joint session of Congress on Iran at the invitation of Republican House Speaker John Boehner. The trip has caused a major rift with the White House, to the point where Obama has refused to host Netanyahu for a meeting. Administration officials are also reportedly withholding details of the talks from Israeli counterparts. Speaking last week, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said Israel has spread false information about the proposed nuclear deal.

PRESS SECRETARY JOSH EARNEST: There’s no question that some of the things that the Israelis have said in characterizing our negotiating position have not been accurate. There’s no question about that.

Continue reading

VICTORY TO THE HEROIC WAR OF RESISTANCE OF KURDISH PEOPLE IN KOBANI AGAINST ISIS!

US, UK and French imperialist powers raised, fed and armed the reactionary groups such as Al Nusra Front and ISIS in order that they would fight the Assad regime on their behalf. Only when they realised that these groups are not capable of overthrowing the Assad regime, they began to distance themselves from them until their interests in Iraq were threatened. Now they wish to be seen as standing against ISIS.

US imperialism created al-Qaeda to fight the Russians in Afghanistan, but then when al-Qaeda started contradicting with US interests, they turned on them. Following the capture of Mosul by ISIS, having realised that their imperialist dominance is threatened by ISIS they have now, through NATO, started an international coalition against ISIS.

The only reason why the Turkish state did not want to be part of the international coalition is because of its close relations with ISIS. The whole world should know that the resolution passed on October 2, 2014 by the Turkish Grand National Assembly, is not against ISIS. This official resolution that allows Turkish soldiers to be sent to Syria and Iraq is in fact directed against the Kurdish people in Kobani and Rojava (section of Kurdish homeland in Syria) who declared autonomy in the region. This official resolution allows Turkish state to set up a buffer zone on the border of Syria and declare a no-fly zone. The resolution further emphasises that in Syria, the PKK poses a serious threat, clearly revealing the main purpose of the resolution and the intentions of the Turkish state. Continue reading

Down with imperialist aggression against Syria! USA, hands off Syria!

[The following is a recent statement from revolutionary Maoists in Brazil, detailing their analysis of the ever-growing civil war in Syria as a proxy war by contending imperialist powers for control of the Middle East.  It is an important contribution to the international debate among revolutionaries, over the shifting relations and aggressions, direct and indirect, by leading powers in the world imperialist system. — Frontlines ed.]

Proletarians and oppressed people of the world, unite!

Declaration of the Revolutionary Front for the Defence of the People’s Rights – Brazil

About the recent situation in Syria

In the last months, the imperialist Yankee has intensified its manipulations and provocations to justify its military invasion in Syria. The US propaganda machine is once again creating smokescreens to justify to the world public yet another predatory war. “To defend democracy,” “human rights”, stop use of chemical weapons and weapons of mass destruction;” these are the new smokescreens of the Yankee imperialism in its counter-revolutionary offensive, reviving the “War on Terror”. These were also the same pretexts used to justify the aggression towards Afghanistan, Iraq, Mali, Libya, and many other countries. by the very forces  who are the most responsible for countless massacres and use of weapons of mass destruction in human history; imperialism, mainly Yankee.

Since 2011, the people in Syria are subjected to imperialist predatory war that currently is conducted in the form of a civil war. The armed forces of Assad’s regime (sustained politically, economically, and militarily by Russian imperialism) and the self-proclaimed ‘Free Syrian Army’ (mercenary forces directly controlled by the USA through their intelligence services and regional allies) are the contenders of this inter-imperialist dispute on the Syrian territory. In this war all kinds of horrors against the masses have been practised, without this having motivated attention or outcry from the well know”international institutions”. Continue reading

Iran Trade Unionist, former Political Prisoner, on the Iranian election: “neither free nor fair”

June 13, 2013

Reading Marx in Tehran

By MANSOUR OSANLOO

IRAN’S presidential election on June 14 will be neither free nor fair. The candidates on the ballot have been preselected in a politically motivated vetting process that has little purpose other than ensuring the election of a compliant president who will be loyal to Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Regardless of the outcome of the vote, the most urgent challenge for both the next president and Ayatollah Khamenei will be to confront a rising tide of discontent resulting from a rapidly deteriorating economic situation.

The outside world is primarily focused on whether the election will signal a shift in the Iranian regime’s stand on the nuclear issue. But for the average Iranian the most important issue is the impact of this election on her pocketbook — especially for the hardworking masses, whose purchasing power has drastically decreased as they struggle to provide the most basic necessities for their families.

Iran’s industrial workers, teachers, nurses, government and service-sector employees have been hit hard. The profound mismanagement of the economy by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s government, coupled with stringent international sanctions, has made these workers’ plight the most important aspect of Iran’s domestic politics. Continue reading

A staggering map of the 54 countries that reportedly participated in the CIA’s rendition program

by Max Fisher, Washington Post,

February 5, 2013

Click to enlarge. (Max Fisher -- The Washington Post)

After Sept. 11, 2001, the CIA launched a program of “extraordinary rendition” to handle terrorism suspects. The agency’s problem, as it saw it, was that it wanted to detain and interrogate foreign suspects without bringing them to the United States or charging them with any crimes. Their solution was to secretly move a suspect to another country. Sometimes that meant a secret CIA prison in places such as Thailand or Romania, where the CIA would interrogate him. Sometimes it meant handing him over to a sympathetic government, some of them quite nasty, to conduct its own “interrogation.”

The CIA’s extraordinary rendition program is over, but its scope is still shrouded in some mystery. A just-out report, released by the Open Society Foundation, sheds new light on its shocking scale. According to the report, 54 foreign governments somehow collaborated in the program. Some of those governments are brutal dictatorships, and a few are outright U.S. adversaries.

Their participation took several forms. Some, such as Poland and Lithuania, allowed the CIA to run secret prisons in their countries. Many Middle Eastern, Central Asian and European countries handed over detainees to the CIA, some of whom those countries captured on the agency’s behalf. Other states, particularly in the Middle East, interrogated detainees on the CIA’s behalf, such as Jordan, which accepted several Pakistanis. Several, such as Greece and Spain, allowed flights associated with the CIA program to use their airports. Continue reading

Power Politics 101: Promoters of butcher Assad, Beware — Russia follows capitalist realpolitik

[Seeing the writing on the wall–that the days of their “ally” Assad of Syria are numbered–capitalist-imperialist power Russia (a growing imperialist contender to US’ imperial hegemon) seeks to ensure and preserve a piece of post-Assad Syria for its own regional interests.  Those who have made spurious claims that the Russian/Assad-ist Syrian alliance is somehow an anti-imperialist front, will have to adjust their framework, substantially…..Meanwhile, talks between US imperialists and the “official” Syrian opposition have, simultaneously, been held.  The fragmentary and formative revolutionary people’s forces have, to all indications, played no role in either set of talks with imperialists, as they have been either decimated or, driven underground or into exile, are making difficult preparations for the future. — Frontlines ed.]

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Russia in ground-breaking talks with Syrian opposition

03 Feb 2013 – MUNICH, Germany (AFP)

[Photo:  Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov]
Ground-breaking talks between the Russian foreign minister and the Syrian opposition leader have bolstered a global push to narrow sharp differences over how to end the conflict in Syria.

Moscow said Saturday it wanted to keep in regular contact with the Syrian opposition, after its Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Syrian National Coalition leader Moaz al-Khatib met for the first time.

“I reminded Khatib that after the creation of the coalition and the appointment of their leader, we immediately demonstrated our interest in maintaining regular contact,” Russian news agencies quoted Lavrov as saying after the meeting on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference.

“We will make that happen,” he added.

[Photo: A rebel fighter poses in front of a Soviet-made T55 tank abandoned by pro-Syrian regime forces in al-Yaqubia in northern Syrian, on February 2, 2013. Ground-breaking talks between the Russian foreign minister and the Syrian opposition leader have bolstered a global push to narrow sharp differences over how to end the conflict in Syria.]

Lavrov had earlier Saturday held talks with US Vice President Joe Biden and UN-Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi amid strong disagreement between Moscow and Washington about ways to end the 22-month Syria conflict, which according to the United Nations has claimed upwards of 60,000 lives.

Khatib, who became the head of the coalition late last year, reiterated on the opening day of the Munich talks Friday an earlier surprise announcement that his group is ready for dialogue with the Damascus regime — subject to conditions including the release of 160,000 detainees.

Lavrov said Moscow welcomed the initiative, adding: “If we take into account the fact that the coalition was founded on a refusal to engage in a dialogue with the regime, it’s a very important step.” Continue reading

Syrian people’s just rebellion needs people’s war–not FSA, Assad, or imperialism

[The conflict in Syria has been the subject of much  twisted coverage by the US and EU and its surrogates, by supporters of anti-US bourgeois nationalists, by partisans of Russian imperialism against US hegemonists, by advocates of the regional power of the Iranian Islamic Republic, and by “pragmatic opportunists” who wink at the role of Saudi Arabia/Bahrain/GCC.  Many people, outraged at the mass suffering and mass killing of Syrian people, have been justifiably confused, especially as the issues have been distorted by imperialist and reactionary medias which serve these interests.  And to confuse even more, many of the reactionary medias proclaim themselves as anti-imperialist, though careful reading reveals these to be promoting one reactionary power versus another.

We recently received the following statement and analysis of the situation in Syria from revolutionary Maoists in Brazil.  Views of revolutionary internationalists have too rarely been heard on this issue, and so we present these views as a good counterpoint to the prevailing revisionist and reactionary accounts.  We believe these comrades in Brazil have done significant groundwork toward the analysis needed. 

There are some aspects of this analysis which require more work and debate, in our view.  In particular, their argument that People’s War–if defined as China’s revolutionary military strategy–is universally  applicable to all countries, is a view we do not share.  Our understanding that the Maoist strategic conception of People’s War, (as summarized by the phrase, “surrounding the cities from the countryside”), only applies to feudal, semi-feudal, colonial and semi-colonial societies, where repressive power in the countryside is sufficiently weak that people’s revolutionary war, seizing and expanding significant liberated areas is an accurately applied historic strategem.  In other countries, where reactionary state power is effectively deployed everywhere, a long period of amassing revolutionary political forces through primarily political , not military, struggle, must precede the armed struggle for state power.  These general categories and strategies have often been taken literally, without detailed investigation and analysis, at great and disastrous cost to revolutionary forces.  The need for detailed study of concrete conditions is especially indicated by the ongoing changes in capitalist-imperialist production, distribution, and state power–and the distribution and growth of people’s forces.

But some use the term People’s War, not in the sense of the “countryside-overtaking-city” strategem, but synonymous with people’s armed struggle for power in all variety of circumstance–as a statement of principle, in opposition to the revisionist and social-democratic notion of the “peaceful, electoral” road to power.  In this sense, People’s War (where the masses take up the gun against reactionary power, and where the gun is led by revolutionary politics) is a universal revolutionary principle.  —  Frontlines ed.]

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Proletarian and oppressed peoples of the whole world, united!

Statement of the Revolutionary Front in Defence of the People’s Rights, RFDPR, Brasil, on the present situation in Syria

DOWN THE IMPERIALIST ALLOTMENT IN SYRIA!

LONG LIVE THE PEOPLE’S WAR OF THE PEOPLES IN ALL COUNTRIES!

“The combat to imperialism and reaction without the inseparable combat to opportunism is nothing but empty phraseology”.

Lenin: “Imperialism and the splitting of socialism”.

The nation of Syria has been suffering a bloody imperialist plundering war in the shape of  a civil war. Assad’s armed forces and the so-called free army of Syria are the contestants of this inter-imperialist dispute for the Syrian territory. Syria has been converted into a new treachery for the anti-imperialist world resistance and the newest enclave of the inter-imperialist struggles.

At the present conditions of this struggle development any result will not bring any advance for the Syrian people and nation; it will only deepen the imperialist dominance over the country and oppression on the people since until now an independent and organized intervention of the armed masses has lacked of a proletarian vanguard even very little constituted.

The March 2011 revolt was a spontaneous mass uprising against a fascist regime led by Bashar al Assad and it is part of an overwhelming wave of people’s rebellions that happened all over the North of Africa and Middle East. The mass rebellions awakened in those countries, despite being developed in an unconscious form and not having a proletarian leadership, have the same root: they are antifascist, anti-feudal and anti-imperialist ones.

The revolt is a just rebellion against a bureaucratic comprador regime at the service of imperialism mostly Russian that has been controlled for decades by the Assad dynasty.

The Yankee imperialism has taken advantage from the situation, as for instance in all Arabic countries rebellions, manipulating the mass struggle, deviating them from the revolutionary path, to guarantee their interests in the region. The intelligentsia services for the imperialist coalition forces have formed and armed a mercenary army self-named Syria’s Free Army –SFA, directed commanded by their agents with the aim of changing the Syrian regime. Thus the USA wants to change the Russian control over Syria, breaking with the relationship with Hezbollah, surround and isolate Iran and prepare the grounds to attack it.

All this complex plan in the Middle East and North of Africa is part of a new war of imperialist plundering and allotment against the peoples. The Yankee imperialism, still being an unique and hegemonic superpower in the world, has declared its objective to create a map of a “New Middle East”, that is, a Middle East totally controlled by the USA, without the influence and interference of other imperialist powers and mostly without the people’s armed resistance of the masses.

The Yankee imperialism, amidst a deep and protracted crises, hit by the people of the world, mostly in the main front of the war in Iraq and Afghanistan and by the people’s wars in India, the Philippines, Turkey and Peru, with its hegemony questioned by the inter-imperialist struggle, is more and more at the verge of an unprecedented war.

In this context, the events in Syria are firstly and mostly part of the contradiction between oppressed peoples/countries and imperialist powers; secondly, the inter-imperialist contradiction that could convert into the principal contradiction. This one happens through the dispute for the control of colonies and semi-colonies accumulating and being able to develop into a direct confront in the form of a new world imperialist war. Continue reading

“Hands off the People of Iran” exposes Tribunal on Iran’s 1980’s massacre of prisoners

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by “Hands Off the People of Iran”

1. Payam Akhavan (chair and spokesperson of the tribunal’s steering committee) has links to organisations that have accepted large amounts of money from the US government

2. The tribunal refuses to take a stand against war and sanctions on Iran
3. Mainstream lawyers and politicians like Sir Geoffrey Nice, John Cooper QC and Maurice Copithorne ideologically support the tribunal – why?
4. The pro-war Mujahedeen is closely involved with the tribunal
5. Many organisations and witnesses have withdrawn
6. Critical voices have been silenced
7. Conclusion: The tribunal has become part of the campaign to legitimise war and sanctions to enforce pro-western ‘regime change from above’.

The arguments in more detail: Continue reading

The Iran Tribunal and the crimes of the Islamic Republic

12 November 2012. A World to Win News Service. “I was only 19 years old when I went to the coffin room, but I… can’t escape thinking about it… I was with those who lost their lives, or lost their minds. I live with them all the time. I still both work and cry, I both live and mourn, I think about what happened.”

Another person testified, “Once they came for me and asked if I had repented. I said yes. They asked me if I was prepared to take part in executions. I said yes. I wanted to pretend that I had repented, others had thought the same way, but one day…”

These are the examples of testimony given by witnesses at a symbolic tribunal held in The Hague (Netherlands) on 25-27October that found the Islamic Republic of Iran guilty of crimes against humanity for the mass execution of political prisoners in the 1980s.

The Iran Tribunal, as it was called, took place in two stages. The first was held 18-22 June this year in London, where 75 witnesses testified in front of a “Truth Commission”. At the second session, in The Hague, around 20 witnesses testified in front of a commission of international judges.

Johann Kriegler, who led the judges, introduced himself as a member of the Truth Commission held in South Africa after the end of apartheid. Other judges had experience with similar tribunals, including British barrister Michael Mansfield who is a member of the jury panel on the Russell Tribunal inquiry on Palestine.

According to the organizers, the Iran Tribunal was inspired by the original Russell Tribunal initiated by the philosophers and Nobel Prize winners Bertrand Russell and Jean-Paul Sartre and other intellectuals in 1966 to put the United States on trial for its war crimes in Vietnam. This current campaign was launched after a gathering of survivors and families of the victims. Continue reading

Israel’s Hypocrisy on a Nuclear Middle East

By Thalif Deen, Inter Press Service
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses the general debate of the sixty-seventh session of the General Assembly. Credit: UN Photo/J Carrier

[Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses the general debate of the sixty-seventh session of the General Assembly. Credit: UN Photo/J Carrier]

UNITED NATIONS, Oct 1 2012 (IPS) – When world leaders packed their bags and headed home last week, there was one lingering memory of the General Assembly’s high-level debate: Benjamin Netanyahu’s dramatic presentation of a cartoonish nuclear red line, which hit the front pages of most mainstream newspapers in the United States.

The Israeli prime minister warned Iran against crossing that red line even though the Jewish state itself had crossed it when it went nuclear many moons ago.

As Mouin Rabbani, contributing editor to the Middle East Report, told IPS, “The real absurdity of Netanyahu lecturing the world about nuclear weapons was precisely that – an Israeli leader lecturing the world about the dangers of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East.”

The fact of the matter is that not only is Israel the region’s sole nuclear power, and not only has it on previous occasions all but threatened to use these weapons of mass destruction, but it has since its establishment consistently and steadfastly rejected ratification of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), Rabbani said.

“It’s a bit like listening to (Hustler magazine publisher) Larry Flynt denouncing pornography – though to be fair to Flynt, it’s unlikely he will reach the levels of hypocrisy displayed by Netanyahu,” said Rabbani, a Middle East expert who has written extensively on the politics of the volatile region.

Still, most Middle East leaders, speaking during the high-level debate here, seem to have accepted Israel’s double standards on nuclear politics – and with hardly an aggressive response to Netanyahu’s address to the Assembly. Continue reading

Open letter of the Syrian Revolutionary left to support the Syrian popular revolution!

[The views and voice of the Syrian revolutionary left has been difficult to hear amidst the clamor of contending distortions by international media–whether Western, Russian, Chinese, or from within the Middle East.  We are seeking more information from popular secular forces involved in the uprising–including more information about the revolutionary left forces.  The following is an important statement and analysis by the Revolutionary Left in Syria, detailing the role and relations of the various forces within Syria and of the world imperialist and regional forces who have been attempting to seize control of the uprising.  We will report further materials confirming and contextualizing this, as they become available. —  Frontlines ed.]

“The major Western imperialists powers, and other world imperialist powers such as Russia and China, as well as regional ones such as Iran and Turkey, in their entirety and without exception, continue to try to implement a Yemeni-type solution in Syria – in other words, to cut off the head of the regime, the dictator Bashar Al Assad, while keeping its structure intact, as was witnessed during meetings between U.S. and Russian officials, or at the international conference in June 30 in Geneva. The only sticking point is the Russian position of still trying by all means to keep Assad in power, but Russia may sacrifice this in the near future to protect its interests in Syria. The United States in turn has repeatedly expressed its desire to preserve the structure of the military and security services intact.”  — from the Open Letter of the Syrian Revolutionary left

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 The resistance of the Syrian people has not ceased to grow since the revolutionary process began in March 2011. The struggle of the Syrian people is part of the popular struggles in Tunisia and Egypt, which has spread to other countries in the region.

Similarly, the Syrian revolutionary process is part of the global anti-capitalist struggles. The “Indignados” or “occupied” movements and occupations have taken their inspiration from the Arab revolutions. More than 700 cities in over 70 countries have resonated and for some still resonate of slogans and demands of a movement that demonstrates against poverty and the power of finance. In the same time, the resistance of the Greek people against the dictates imposed by financial agencies and notations is also a battle for dignity and social justice, but also the emancipation against the capitalist order and not its submission, joining the struggles of the peoples of the region.

The Syrian uprising, arising out of the global financial and economic crisis is also a revolt against the neoliberal policies imposed by the authoritarian regime, and encouraged by international financial institutions like the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank (WB).

The neoliberal policies were used to dismantle and to weaken increasingly the public services in the country, to the removal of subsidies, especially for basic necessities, while accelerating the privatization process, often in favor of the ruling and bourgeois classes linked to the political power.

The neoliberal reforms of the regime have encouraged a policy based on the reception and the welcoming of foreign direct investment, the development of exports and of the service sector, especially tourism. The repressive apparatus of this country has served as a “security agent” for these companies, protecting them of all disorders or social demands. This State has played the role of matchmaker for foreign capital and multinationals, while ensuring the enrichment of a bourgeois class linked to the regime.

The ills and consequences of these neoliberal policies in Syria are numerous. This includes the high rate of unemployment, particularly among young university graduates who cannot find opportunities in an economy now focused on low value-added jobs, and where skilled labor is scarce, or characterized by underemployment, a direct consequence of these measures. Continue reading

Frantz Fanon and the Arab Uprisings: An Interview with Nigel Gibson

from Thinking Africa: Fanon 50 years later
Nigel Gibson was interviewed by Yasser Munif in Jadaliyya:  “The Wretched of the Earth, Frantz Fanon’s magnum opus, was published in 1961, a few days after his death. The book was not only influential for several generations of grassroots movements and activists in Africa, the United States, and Latin America; it was also discussed and debated extensively in intellectual circles across the globe. The reception of the book was more mitigated in the Arab world. This might be due to Fanon’s sweeping criticism of national bourgeoisie, which seized power after decolonization and became an intermediary class between Western powers and local populations. The Martiniquan intellectual was skeptical of revolutions from above, as was the case with several anti-colonialist movements in the Arab World. Interestingly, while the Arabic translation of the The Wretched of the Earth came out shortly after its publication in French, it omitted many passages because they were critical of the national bourgeoisie. Fifty years later, Fanon is almost absent in public discourses in the Middle East and is still marginal in the Maghreb. The uprisings should have been an excellent opportunity for Arab intellectuals and activists to engage with Fanon’s work on the revolution and the subaltern in the new conjuncture. However, despite the significance of his political philosophy for the current revolts, his books are either out of print or conspicuously absent from many bookstores in the Arab world.
“In this interview with Nigel Gibson, one of the most prominent experts on Fanon’s work, he explains the significance of the Fanonian theoretical framework and its relevance for the Arab uprisings. Nigel Gibson has written a number of articles and books on the Martiniquan intellectual and deployed a Fanonian perspective to examine many contemporary revolts. His numerous books include Fanon: The Postcolonial Imagination (2003) and Fanonian Practices in South Africa: From Steve Biko to Abahlali baseMjondolo (2011). He teaches postcolonial theory at Emerson College. The interview was conducted in Boston in July 2012.”
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Though the “Arab Spring” opened things up in many countries, it was not all the same, nor is the struggle of the people complete on any front, so attempts to classify or categorize will inherently fail. Nonetheless, this map represents one view of how things have gone (so far).

Yasser Munif (YM): Ongoing protests have swept the Arab world since the toppling of the Tunisian dictator. They changed the political and cultural landscape of the region. The mot d’ordre of the protesters is clear: “The people want the fall of the regime.” Western powers tried to co-opt the protests because real democracy in the Arab World can threaten their domination of the region. They want to maintain their hegemony in the oil rich gulf. The region is also important geopolitically because of the United States’ close ties to Israel and its wars in the Middle East. The interest of the West in the region is not new. In Culture and Imperialism, Edward Said argues that while formal colonization ended in the mid-twentieth century, Arab countries became the political satellites of the West since then. He writes, “for two generations the United States has sided in the Middle East mostly with tyranny and injustice… one administration after another has propped up compliant and unpopular clients, and turned away from the efforts of small peoples to liberate themselves from military occupation. In a way, Said is suggesting that real independence was never achieved; the present politico-economic condition of Arab countries is a continuation of the colonial period by new means. In this context, the work of Frantz Fanon is very relevant to understanding the current Arab uprisings. Yet, as you explain in a recent essay, one should refrain from the temptation of extrapolating old concepts into new situations. Referring to Fanon’s work ,you write, “The task for radicals is to avoid applying pre-formed cookie-cutter theory to new situations and jamming a new event or movement into old categories, but, instead, to begin to open up space for dialogue and reflection on action.” Do you think that Frantz Fanon’s analysis about colonialism, imperialism, and independence movements can have any relevance today for Arab protesters who are challenging despotic regimes?

Nigel Gibson (NG): I do think that Fanon has relevance, and so the question is how do you approach Fanon? Are there categories in Fanon’s thought that can simply be applied to new situations, and if so what new thinking would emerge? Applying Fanon’s categories to new situations is valuable to a degree, but the question I am asking is what does Fanon offer us methodologically? In other words, how does he actually get us to rethink our concepts? I think Fanon is basically an open thinker and a radically humanist thinker. If you look at the first pages of Black Skin White Masks, where he is critical of scientific methods, to the final pages of the Wretched of the Earth, where he talks about working out new concepts, the question is how and on what basis do you work on new concepts with the goal of human freedom? For Fanon, becoming actional is connected to his idea of a new humanism, which is explicitly critical of European humanism so intimately connected with colonialism. So, it is not simply about finding new concepts from anywhere, but being both critical and self-critical and also being very open to what is happening on the ground. So, in other words, a critic could have said, last January in 2011 in Tahrir Square, that if you read Fanon, you know that the liberatory moment is going to be closed down by the military or the state, and therefore end up with a kind of ontological pessimism. We are defeated before we begin. The critic might add, Fanon tells us that all these revolutions in the end will fail, and look: they have. But, for me, that is not how one engages Fanon. If Fanon is alive he is in the revolts because the revolts themselves open up something very new. One has to be aware, or listen, or open one’s mind to what are the new beginnings.
Now, you could look at the situation and say, Fanon tells us to be very wary of the nationalist elite and all the other social forces we could talk about: religious elite, nationalist elite, military elite, regional elites, and the comprador nature of some of these elites and all the repressive ideologies that justify them. So, in other words, the question then becomes how do you employ Fanon productively? You do not want to close down possibilities, but at the same time, you want to be wary of Fanon’s warnings. So, in a certain sense, it is what I would consider a dialectical approach. It is not simply good enough—and one could do it with any thinker, one could do it with Marx—to have a series of categories to say, well, this revolt will fail because it does not correspond with the categories or fulfill certain expectations in a Marx or in a Fanon, and therefore it is doomed to do this and that. Even if in the end it does this and that, we have to be open about what is new in the Arab revolts. What do they tell us? How do they come about? Why have they come about now? In what way can one see them as new beginnings, a turning of a page, and the creation of a new historical moment, rather than a repetition of a neocolonial situation that you mention in Said’s quote in the beginning? If Fanon’s thought is alive, it cannot be simply applied.
YM: As I mentioned above, Said thinks that the process of decolonization was aborted by local social forces or international policies, and that what we are experiencing in the Middle East today is a continuation of old fashioned colonialism, as in the case of Iraq, or a form of neocolonialism /imperialism, as is the case of most Arab countries. In that sense, Fanon is extremely relevant and we have to reread him. And yet, Fanon has been extremely absent in the Arab public spheres, public discussions, and the media in general. Some intellectuals have either consciously avoided him or are ignorant about his work and its implications on contemporary Arab societies. Others, for ideological reasons, denied these connections between “metropole” and “colony,” to use Fanon’s categories and the relationship between the two. Many Arabs and Western liberals have argued that the revolts are about democracy and anti-authoritarianism and we should not conflate these new categories with the older ones such as imperialism or colonialism. Hazem Saghieh, one of the influential Lebanese journalists who writes for the London-based and Gulf-funded al-Hayat newspaper, wrote in one of his articles that protesters in Tahrir Square were not holding signs about imperialism or Zionism, and these revolts are therefore about internal /local issues and regional concerns. So, how can one make an argument for the relevance of Fanon when he is so absent in public discourses?
NG: It is almost like different levels of abstractions. There is not a one-to-one correspondence; fifty years is the long time to think about a thinker’s relevance or to think of the relevance of their work to a contemporary period. However, in the same way, you could say that there were not very many banners about democracy in the way that liberal democracy or the western kind of democracy understands it and that the pundits have said the revolts were about. Therefore, the signs and slogans in Tahrir may have not been about imperialism, and they may have not reflected the kind of things that the liberal critics wanted to talk about either. But the issue then becomes not to judge things by an a priori anti-imperial discourse. Rather, the first thing is to find out what is being talked about. What are people saying? It was certainly about getting rid of Mubarak. But it was more than that, even if it was not explicit; the point is to trace through the contradictions and developments. Someone who has not read Fanon and who lived through that period, and now reads Fanon, will find out how quickly he or she identifies with his analysis of how the new rulers behave like the old rulers; it is a revolution, yes, but in the old sense of revolving and repeating what was happening before. In one sense, it is how we understand neo-colonialism, but Fanon is not only talking about the threat from imperialism, which is always there, but how the threats are manifested internally. He speaks about a great threat to the decolonial movement being the lack of liberatory ideologies. What does he mean by ideology? Certainly, there are many ideologies around. There are Islamic ideologies; there are nationalist ideologies, neoliberal ideologies, and so forth. He is talking about something else. He has a vision for something else. The subject of the Wretched of the Earth is the wretched of the earth, that majority of the people of the world, who are not only poor, but are actively denied agency and are constantly reminded that politics is above them. How do the wretched of the earth become actional, become political, and become social individuals? Fanon calls his ideology a new humanism, not only in contrast to the elite humanism of the West, but also on the axiom that the wretched of the earth, understood socially, think and thus must be a basis of a new politics. This, of course, is not achieved immediately, but it must become an explicit element of the struggle for liberation. Then there is the question of the role of the intellectual committed to social change. What can the intellectuals do in these periods? So, again we are back to Fanon’s relevance and the difficulty of talking about it in an applied way. First, it is interesting to look at the history of why Fanon is not considered relevant and the fact that postcolonial states have suppressed his thought in one way or another.   Second, the only way we can prove the relevance of Fanon in a certain way outside of some academic circles is to ask, do people involved in social struggles engage with Fanonian concepts and find something relevant for them, even if they have never heard of Fanon because Fanon is implicitly in the struggles? In other words, the idea of a new generation; he has a phrase at the beginning of “On National Consciousness, where he talks about how “Each generation must, out of relative obscurity, discover its mission, fulfill it, or betray it.”[1] So, a new generation makes something of him and brings that into the discussion. To me, that would be the only proof of relevance of Fanon. I can make an argument for it, but in the end that would be the test. Now the question is: how would that happen? How do you get Fanon into the public discourse, especially when a lot of the public discourse is limited, and Fanon is considered irrelevant? You face liberal pundits like Hazem Saghieh, who might say that Fanon represents a fifty-year-old politics of violence and imperialism, or other politicians, who might emphasize that Fanon is not a Muslim and is therefore irrelevant to a Muslim society. These are some of the problems with discussing Fanon. Continue reading

Israel’s Secret Weapon

Broadcast on BBC Two on Monday, 17 March, 2003.  This film is the story of the bomb, Vanunu and Israel’s wall of silence. Which country in the Middle East has undeclared Nuclear weapons? Which country in the Middle East has undeclared biological and chemical capabilities? Which country in the Middle East has no outside inspections? Which country jailed its nuclear whistleblower for 18 years?

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The imperialist threat and the Islamic Republic of Iran, 33 years after its foundation

27 February 2012,  A World to Win News Service.

By N. Peyman

The threats against Iran, the sanctions and other economic pressures and the military movements and manoeuvres all testify to the intensification of the contradictions between the US and Iranian regime, 33 years after its foundation. These contradictions have reached such a critical point that an air strike or other form of military intervention against Iran by the US and some of its allies has become a clear possibility.

Why have relations between Iran and the Western powers, especially the US, been so tense for most of the last three decades, and why are they now fast approaching such a dangerous point? What are the forces driving the imperialist powers to another war in a region that is already overloaded with various wars?

These questions are even more striking if we take into account the fact that both the Western powers and the Iranian regime are undergoing crises internally.

According to the constant barrage from the mainstream media, the main concern of the Western powers is Iran’s nuclear programme. They argue that the Iranian regime intends to build nuclear weapons. So the Western imperialists are pushing harder and harder to force the Iranian regime to stop enriching uranium, while Iran denies this charge and claims its nuclear programme is for purely civilian purposes.

The pressure so far has included UN Security Council approval for several rounds of economic sanctions against Iranian institutions and the personnel involved in its nuclear programme. Now the US and EU have taken it upon themselves to impose further sanctions against Iran’s central bank. On July 1 of this year a ban on the importation of Iranian oil will take effect. These measures are meant to block Iranian exports and make it impossible for the country to import for lack of foreign currency.

But is the US and Western powers’ concern about Iran’s nuclear programme the real driving force behind the current crisis?

Despite the claims of the mainstream media and political officials whose job is to repeat and spread Western imperialist ruling class propaganda, the claims about the Iranian regime’s nuclear programme are highly questionable. In fact their assertions have repeatedly been challenged by genuine experts, investigative reporters and observers familiar with the issue.

First of all, the Western powers and the United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)  have not, so far, been able to provide any credible evidence, let alone proof. Even their intelligence and military officials have not been able to back the claims of their leaders. So they seem to be making so much noise and heading toward war based on a case built on the “suspected intentions” of the Iranian regime that no one has been able to prove.

The US and its allies also claim if Iran succeeds in making nuclear bombs, it would start attacking other countries, especially Israel, and endanger American and Western security.

There seems to be a consensus among experts, however, that even if the US and its allies are right about the Iranian regime’s intentions, it could become capable of making only one or a very few bombs in the near future. There is no way that it could match the nuclear arsenal of Israel, said to include more than 200 warheads, let alone the nuclear capability of the imperialist powers. According to experts, this cannot change the military balance of power in the region.

There is also the argument put forward by some imperialist apologists that if Iran goes nuclear, that would start a nuclear arms race in the region, so that Egypt, Saudi Arabia and other countries would have to compete. First of all, experts familiar with the region’s economic and political situation argue that political problems in some countries such as Egypt and the lack of infrastructure in others such as Saudi Arabia would make it impossible for them to undertake full-scale nuclear programmes. Secondly, this nuclear arms race has already been started with India and Pakistan. Thirdly, countries such as Turkey are not waiting for Iran to go nuclear. They are already working on it.

So not only is there no definitive evidence that Iran is making nuclear bombs, the arguments about the danger that an Iranian nuclear programme would represent for the security of the world and the stability of the region are exaggerated and do not match the reality. In fact, these arguments are little more than justifications for a hidden agenda – the preparations by the US and its allies for a war against Iran.

Also, as everyone now knows, or should know by now, the US and its allies have repeatedly made up various excuses to start wars in different parts of the world. The most memorable example is the 2003 invasion of Iraq under the cover of accusations about the Saddam Hussein regime’s possession of weapons of mass destruction that proved to be a pure invention by George W. Bush and Tony Blair. This has cast even more doubt on the Western powers’ real intentions. Many people all over the world simply don’t trust the US imperialists and their allies on this issue.

Thus it is not difficult to conclude that even if the Iranian regime’s nuclear programme is a concern, it is not the main issue. It cannot, in itself, explain the US’s agenda –  why it is intensifying the contradictions with Iran and building a case for and preparing military intervention.

If that is not the real issue, what are the real contradictions that are pressing so hard on both sides, and what are its real sources? Why are the US and its allies unhappy with the Iranian Islamic regime? Continue reading

Arab Spring and Imperialism

[The “Arab (and North Africa) Spring” enters its second year, where in country after country the complex interplay of domestic people’s movements, regional alliances, and imperialists (of both the crisis-driven old variety, and newbies making new global assertions)–are hellbent on asserting very elusive controls.  Such would-be controllers continue to be frustrated, and while this provides openings for revolutionary people to seize the time, their organizational, political, and military tools have been lacking–so far.  Time will tell how this will play out.  Deepankar Basu, writing in Sanhati, takes on the challenge of clarifying the different contradictions and forces at play. — Frontlines ed.]

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February 20, 2012

by Deepankar Basu, Sanhati

The unprecedented wave of mass movements that started in Tunisia in December 2010 and quickly spread to Egypt, Libya, Bahrain, Syria, and Yemen, with smaller scale demonstrations in Lebanon, Mauritania, and Saudi Arabia has the potential to completely change (a) the socio-economic dynamics within the Arab world, and (b) the relationship of the Arab world to imperialism. To understand the dynamics and implications of the unfolding movements, it seems useful to abstract from the details of the movements in particular countries and take a broad brush view of matters. Moreover, to construct a broad brush view it seems important to disentangle two aspects of (or basic contradictions driving) the situation, not only in Syria that is the current focus of world attention but the Arab world in general.

The first, and primary, aspect is that all these movements, often taking the form of mass uprisings, are movements for democratization of their respective societies, a movement against decades-old authoritarian and brutal regimes backed by imperialism. In most cases, over the last two decades, these regimes saw a convergence between authoritarianism and neoliberalism. One way of stating this is to say, using an old-fashioned terminology, that the primary contradiction that is driving these movements in the contradiction between authoritarian (often neoliberal) regimes and the broad masses of the people in these countries.

The second, and to my mind secondary, aspect is the reality/possibility of imperialist intervention. Using the old-fashioned terminology once again, one could say that the secondary contradiction that is maturing in these events, that is driving these movements, is the contradiction between imperialism and the broad masses of the people.

Note that both contradictions are basic, in the sense that they are both active in the current situation; the current conjuncture is shaped by an interplay between them. But between the two it is also important to distinguish the primary from the secondary. What is the rationale for characterizing the contradiction between the broad masses and authoritarianism as the primary contradiction? The rationale is the following observation: each of these movements, without any exception, started as movements for democratization and against neoliberal authoritarian regimes; each of these movements retain that thrust. Hence, it seems very likely that what is being expressed through these movements is the maturing of the contradiction of these neoliberal authoritarian regimes and the popular classes. If at any point there is direct military invasion of a country by imperialist powers with the intention of turning the country into a colony, then the second contradiction, i.e., the contradiction between imperialism and the broad masses, would become the primary contradiction. Continue reading