Cuban ambassador to the UK, Comrade Teresita Vicente, speaks powerfully at the CPGB-ML meeting to celebrate the 99th anniversary of the Great Socialist October Revolution held in Saklatvala Hall, Southall, West London on 5th November 2016.
Her full speech is now available to view in this video. Please watch and listen carefully to her words, and share her powerful message widely. You could not find a better antidote to the US election campaign!
The 7th Congress of the Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist-Leninist) was held over two days, 8-9 November in London. The Congress marked the occasion of the 97th Anniversary of the Great October Socialist Revolution with a public celebration in the evening which was addressed by the Ambassador of the DPR Korea, comrade Hyon Hak Bong, and comrade Jorge Luis Garcia from the Cuban Embassy. Joti Brar from the Proletarian editorial board spoke first and the evening finished with a rousing speech from comrade Harpal Brar.
The 7th Congress received the reports of the various party committee’s and discussed a number of significant issue’s such as rising nationalism, deepening crisis and the class composition of British society in the 21st century. Congress also endorsed a number of documents which will be made public in due course, and announced the publication of a new book on the history of the first imperialist World War. Congress noted the continuing growth and development of our party nationally, pledged to continue to support and promote our youth and cadres in their ongoing ideological development, and recognised the leading role young communists play in the leadership of our Party.
The 7th Congress was attended by many working class red youth’s, all of whom are active members of the party and youth section and many of which lead our party branches and organisations in their various cities and regions. All the comrades demonstrated their commitment to the Party, their class and the ideology of Marxism Leninism.
Here’s some photo’s for those comrades who were unable to attend (we missed you greatly) taken during the speeches, contributions and discussion and a couple from the evening celebration. Red Youth has pledged to continue the work in the regions, to build up the party branches and ensure we are able to hold even more Marxist Leninist educational classes, discussion groups, public meetings and events in all corners of Britain in 2015!
Support for the activists occupying the Israeli arms factory, UAV Engines in Shenstone, grew throughout the day yesterday. People continued to arrive from across the country, joining protesters who had stayed through the night, to express their outrage and grief at the continued support of humanitarian crimes against the Palestinian people. Their message was clear: stop exporting arms to aid in genocide, stop supporting an apartheid state, stand up against oppression and injustice in their most barbaric forms.
Protesters outside the police cordon (a crime scene, making it an arrestable offence to enter for anyone, except of course locals and anyone driving a nice car) kept up the spirits of the occupiers from London Palestine Action on the roof. Chants, drumming, and slogans were heard by the people on the roof, although the police would not let the protest move within sight of the factory.
The police invoked draconian laws recently passed that make being a ‘nuisance’ an arrestable offence, delaying any decision to move the cordon closer to the factory, and maintaining a strong presence throughout the day. Strangely, when the cameras arrived, the police decided to move all of their force out of sight, perhaps to give the impression that a peaceful protest wasn’t being met with over 30 officers armed with pepper spray, batons, and stun guns.
The protesters grew frustrated by the police’s attempts to delay and diffuse the movement, and decided to hold a silent march through the village which was met with support from the local pub and church. Many in the village were previously unaware that military hardware was being manufactured in the factory.
The police deliberately delayed the decision of whether to let the protesters move ahead, which had been demanded early on, in order to proceed onto the roof and arrest the occupiers at approximately 7-8pm. The police did this under the cover of allowing them to use phones to conduct interviews with the BBC and PressTV. Despite being removed from the roof they got the message out to people across the world, and have educated and inspired many not only about what is really happening in the world, but shown them that they are empowered to take action and stand for what is right.
Taking action, from informing the public and staging demonstrations to occupying means of production and denying trade and transport for imperialist wars is not only justified, but our imperative. Our ruling classes wage war in their own interest, oppress workers of all countries, and profit from our suffering. We must take control of our own labour, deny the capitalists the means of oppression, and smash the tools of imperialism.
“Either place yourself at the mercy of capital, eke out a wretched existence as of old and sink lower and lower, or adopt a new weapon-this is the alternative imperialism puts before the vast masses of the proletariat. Imperialism brings the working class to revolution.” – J.V. Stalin, Foundations of Leninism
The CPGB-ML and Red Youth are hosting a public meeting to discuss the bourgeois media lies about what is happening in Gaza and what can be done about it this Friday 8th August at 274 Moseley Road, Balsall Heath, Birmingham, B12 0BS at 6:30pm.
You should also join us at the Palestine Solidarity Committe demonstration in London on Saturday 9th August, taking place at 12 noon in front of BBC Broadcasting House, Portland Place, London, W1A 1AA. Take action! Make a difference!
Jot Brar speaks following the London demonstration to oppose the latest atrocities committed by Israel against the Palestinian people in Gaza. More contributions from the CPGB-ML international solidarity meeting will follow.
Arguably there are no civilians in Israel. It is such a militarised armed camp for the oppression of the Palestinians and facilitating the looting of the Middle East by US, EU, NATO and UK imperialism. Israel has become integral to a colonial system in which the world is dominated by a handful of superrich countries, which have become wealthy by looting resources and exploiting people all over the world.
Britain, the first country to develop capitalism was also the first to grab a modern empire. In the early 20th century, vast oil deposits were discovered under the desert. Suddenly, the rush to secure plentiful and cheap supplies of ‘black gold’ became a key strategic imperative for all imperialists, leading to a cut-throat competition for control of the region.
Zionism and Palestine
Seeing their chance, the early zionists asked Britain’s rulers to let them set up a jewish state in Palestine in exchange for helping to keep the region under British domination.
With Arab nationalism on the rise, the imperialists accepted the offer, looking forward to the creation of a “loyal jewish Ulster in a sea of potentially hostile Arabism”.
And, although British masters were later pushed aside by American ones, a ‘loyal jewish Ulster’ is exactly what Israel has remained to this day.
The zionist stooges who destroy Palestinian homes, drop bombs on Palestinian schools, plough up Palestinian crops and poison Palestinian water are bribed by US and British governments and corporations to do imperialism’s dirty work.
In return for helping corporations like BP and Texaco to carry on looting the oil and dominating the people of the whole Middle East, the zionists are given military support and hardware, financial aid, diplomatic immunity, and a campaign of lies and disinformation in the imperialist-controlled media.
Israel was established in an orgy of ethnic cleansing, and has been illegally occupying further Palestinian lands and displacing and wiping out Palestinian families ever since.
War crimes are a daily event in this, the most militarised state in the world. In fact, rather than viewing Israel as a state with a huge military, it is more helpful to realise that Israel is in fact a massive army base that also happens to have some schools. Israeli children are brought up to be Nazi-like stormtroopers, their heads filled with supremacist hatred of all Arab peoples.
The imperialists made one serious miscalculation, though. It was assumed that in the face of Israel’s might, Palestinians would accept underclass status or leave, but the days when colonialists could evict a people from their land and get away with it were over.
In a century of socialist revolution and national liberation, the racist dismissal of local peoples as ‘uncivilised barbarians’ or merely ‘irrelevant’ was no longer possible.
Instead of politely disappearing, the Palestinians stood their ground – refusing to submit no matter how barbarous their oppressors became. Instead of passively joining the long list of imperialist victims, the Palestinians became a beacon of resistance and an inspiration to oppressed people globally.
Gradually, the wellspring of sympathy that Israel shamelessly exploited following the Nazis’ mass extermination of jews in WW2 has run dry. It is now clear to all that it is the zionists, and not the Palestinians, who stand in the way of peace.
So brazen has its war machine become that, today, Israel is the number one creator of anti-jewish feeling in the world.
So what has all this got to do with workers in Britain?
We need to recognise that the same ruling class that is waging war on our living standards (trying to force us to pay the price of the economic crisis of capitalism) gains much of its power from looting the world. Since oil is such a vital resource, the British state is still one of Israel’s main backers.
It’s in our interest to support the Palestinians against imperialism and zionism. But if we want to give effective solidarity to their struggle, we need to learn from past experience.
A consumer boycott may embarrass to Israel, but British workers can do a lot more, if we are prepared to use our collective power over the country’s economy. British workers need to join this axis of resistance and give full support to all parts of it, taking their place in the unifying and indivisible struggle against imperialism.
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In December a 14 year old cadre of Red Youth took on his school’s Amnesty International group. We published his excellent letter online: A christmas letter to Amnesty International. In response we received a number of questions from others who were interested in the role of Amnesty International in their school. Our comrade has replied to a number of these questions, and we reproduce the excellent reply below [with names removed] in the hope that this will contribute to the debate around what constitutes our attitude to Amnesty International and at the same time explain our Marxist Leninist position on a number of familiar questions.
Dear XXXX XXXX,
Thank you for showing an interest in the CPGB-ML. I understand they have forwarded a letter of mine which I wrote to the Amnesty International club in my own School. Incidentally and importantly, I am still waiting for a reply from them.
I would like to answer, as a fellow school student, the questions you raised with the CPGB-ML. However, beforehand let me stress that the points which you have made are very important and insightful and give rise to the key and broader considerations at hand.
Your first question:
“The CPGB-ML has taken the stance of supporting ‘anti imperialist’
states such as the Republic of Zimbabwe, the Democratic People’s
Republic of Korea and the People’s Republic of China all of which have
according to many Western states and most human rights groups have
appalling records on human rights and other political freedoms. Does
the CPGB-ML feel these human rights abuses are falsified claims by the
West, claims that are put out of context or justifiable evils?”
Obviously, we believe these countries have significant human rights achievements and the western narrative is intentionally designed to mislead. In making this claim, there is no denial that miscarriages of justice do occur, as in any society with a class system. As Karl Marx explained it is class conflict which determines the social and political structures which prevail in society. In which case, only with the abolition of classes will it be possible to have a society without exploitation, inequality and injustices, the kind of ‘perfect’ society you allude to in your question.
However, it was Lenin who showed that in the current epoch capitalism has now swallowed up the globe and that the powerful imperialist states had divided the world into areas of domination and influence in order to exploit the resources and people of the weaker countries. This world system on the one hand is the main obstacle to development and economic progress for the oppressed nations of the world whose resources and people are exploited by the hegemonic nations whilst on the other hand it is the cause of war as they fight each other over the division of the world and violently repress the attempts by the poorer ones to break out from this system. The consequences including the obscene inequality witnessed in the distribution of the world’s economic output and quality of life, as well as the suffering caused by modern wars are the greatest denials of human rights. It is in this context that we judge the role of countries like the former Soviet Union, the former peoples democracies of Eastern Europe, Zimbabwe, Cuba, China, Vietnam, the DPRK, Syria, Iran and previously Libya etc. These are countries that have broken the chain of Imperialism, providing the bulk of humanity with the prospect of a decent life, once the preserve only of the fortunate classes in the more powerful richer nations.
As you have not raised any particular examples in your question, it is difficult to address any particular abuse of human rights you might have in mind. However, what one can say about the listed societies is the needs of the ordinary working people determine the way the society is governed. This can be contrasted with capitalist countries where the primary concern is the right to private property, private profit, the capitalists to exploit the workers and most importantly, for big powerful countries to be able to oppress and plunder the rest of the world including launching unprovoked wars of aggression against smaller countries with much less sophisticated military means to defend themselves.
Further, as the capitalist elite in these more powerful and richer countries survives by exploiting most of humanity, countries which refuse to submit are a big problem for them. It should come as no surprise therefore that the mass media which is controlled by the capitalists should demonise the alternative to their domination. Below is a link to a video which is presented by an ex CIA Economic Hit man who explains very clearly and simply the stages in how the US intelligence forces plot to change or control an independently governed nation.
Additionally, the worst human rights abuses are within western countries and those that they control. The list of injustices is endless as my letter to Amnesty International indicates. However, western countries would have you believe that human rights abuse only happen elsewhere. Are not some of the worst breaches of human rights mass unemployment, denial of a free comprehensive and higher education, the denial of affordable and adequate healthcare and security in old age or when sick or disabled, the denial of equal opportunities for women, national/ethnic minorities, the denial of personal security and protection from police brutality? However, it is in capitalist countries that we witness such human rights abuse as the capitalists seek to place the increasing burden of the economic crisis of the capitalist system on the backs of the workers. The mind boggles when we hear the representatives of the capitalist class explain that the capitalist system can no longer afford these rights for the people, but continue to increase the assets of the ruling rich minority whilst wasting the potential contribution of millions of abled bodied workers who instead remain idle and jobless.
I think it’s also worth noting that the countries you refer to have to remain very vigilant in defending their independence, dignity and freedom from oppression from the big and powerful capitalist countries. Is this freedom not precious to them and should they not come down heavily on those who would jeopardise this, including those individuals that would sell out their country’s independence for their own personal gain?
Taking your second question:
“The CPGB-ML are famous amongst the left wing and trade union
movement for their attitude and relationship with the beliefs of
Joseph Stalin, Mao Tse-Tung and other Anti revisionist leaders. These
men, like the previously mentioned nations, have claims of human
rights abuses with their name. Does the CPGB-ML believe that the
claimed deaths that happened under Stalin’s reign, such as Holodomor,
are propaganda from the USA etc?”
Of course during WW2 Stalin was a hero not only to the people of the Soviet Union but to the workers throughout the world as the leader in the struggle of humanity to crush fascism. After the war much of the Nazi propaganda was taken up by Imperialism which of course was seriously weakened by the victory of the Red army. The vile and deceitful falsifications of history and the massive campaigns to deceive the workers in the imperialist countries is not only to be expected but is proof of the authenticity of the socialist and people centred nature of the Soviet Union. For why else was Imperialism forced to take a social democratic turn to stave off revolution in the imperialist heartland? Revolution had brought the workers to power in the socialist countries and at any cost this had to be prevented in the imperialist countries even if it meant making massive concessions at the time, of course with every intention of reversal as soon as the situation allowed or necessitated. So Stalin is demonised because he was a genuine leader of the workers who lead his nation into building a powerful socialist country very successfully and against all the odds. Such was its strength and success, it took over thirty years to dismantle.
The Holodomore myth is simply an extension of the Nazi policy of Lebensraum, whereby large parts of the western Soviet union were to be claimed by the Nazis. The German people were to be fed a barrage of lies about the region so that they should be seen as the rightful owners whose current residents would be only too grateful for the Nazi control. Of course in the very first days of the invasion as the entries in the diaries of senior German officers makes clear the reality could hardly have been more different. 90% of German combat fatalities in WW2 occurred fighting Russia. The Russian defeat of the Nazis is recognised as the greatest military achievement in history (MacArthur). This is the clearest evidence I can provide you with in rebutting the disgraceful slanders against the Soviet union and its leaders taken up by imperialism after the war in order to launch the Cold War.
Of course much has been written about the collectivisation of agriculture in the Soviet Union but if the claims of mass starvation leading to the deaths of millions are true then why is it that the photographs used to prove its existence are frauds and all are from the famine that happened during the war of intervention after 1918 when the new workers state was attacked by 11 imperialist powers? A famous book was written about this scandal by Douglas Tottle in 1987 called Fraud, Famine and Fascism: The Ukrainian Genocide Myth from Hitler to Harvard, which explains in great detail how this lie started and what actually happened in the Ukraine at the time but is ignored by western media. It should also be made very clear that collectivisation was very popular amongst most of the people who pursued it very robustly but was vigorously resisted by those that had most to lose. The Kulaks resisted violently and selfishly often destroying rather than sharing. However, the policy proved a great success and there has never been famine in the Soviet Union since though this was a frequent occurrence before the 1917 revolution. It also enabled the country to industrialise rapidly as the extra grain could be sold to earn vital capital. Without the policy the country would never have been strong enough to defeat the Nazis and so comprehensively and in so doing save humanity from the awful scourge of fascism.
Taking your third question:
“The CPGB-ML has taken an admittedly unpopular stance on the Arab
Spring revolutions in Syria and Libya. Why did CPGB-ML side with the
forces of Colonel Gaddafi and Bashar Al-Assad against the
revolutionaries? Does the CPGB-ML feel it is better to have a flawed,
non Marxist, anti imperialist state rather than a pro Western
democracy with links to the USA?”
Because Libya was and Syria is not led by puppets of western imperialism, it is to be expected that their systems would be demonised in preparation for military targeting. It’s noteworthy that Libya in 2010 received various UN accolades for its human rights record, namely for educational, gender, ethnic minority and health policies as well as for achievements for social provision and its magnificent infrastructural projects, such as the Sahara aquifers. These human rights achievements were heavily targeted during the destruction of Libya. Ironically, Libya’s prison population was only 12,500 when the country was attacked (which ranks very average as a percentage of the population compared with other countries-unlike the USA which has the highest).
Under foreign pressure, various terrorist prisoners were released who then in cahoots with various western intelligence organisations began a violent campaign in eastern Libya, centred in the city of Benghazi, publically attacking, lynching and beheading public officials and officers, particularly dark skinned ones. Using propaganda techniques reminiscent of the style of Joseph Goebels, the notorious NAZI propagandist, the western mass media then depicted the resulting attempts by the Libyan government in restoring order, albeit very successfully, as a ‘ruthless crack-down on peaceful protesters”. Indeed, how could Al Qaida linked terrorists, including the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, be in any way considered progressive or revolutionary? These throwbacks are fighting not to liberate their people from slavery, but to try and bring back the slave owners grip to the liberated zones.
Under the camouflage of the Arab spring, where genuine public protests in countries such as Egypt, Tunisia, Yemen and the gulf monarchies are aimed at removing western puppet governments, the UN caved into western pressure authorising a no fly zone resolution over Libya. NATO countries then cynically exploited this far in access of the spirit of its wording so allowing thousands of NATO proxies and mercenaries in the region to descend on Libya under the protection of a massive NATO carpet bombing campaign in order to remove the legitimate government of the country, resulting in the deaths of up to a hundred thousand Libyans including its leaders and their families. Colonel Gaddafi, labelled as a ‘ruthless dictator’ at the time, was lynched and raped in full view of the world’s public as a warning to all those others who should dare to stand up to the NATO powers. As a consequence, abuse of human rights in Libya now is systemic as tens of thousands of innocent civilians languish in the prisons of terrorist gangs, for no other reason than the colour of their skin or their former public service. Such is the level of instability and lacking of rule of law, that even the US ambassador and staff were murdered in full public view.
Indeed, the war was many years in the making, being a pre-planned, organised mission of western imperialism. At a democratic election gathering in 2002, 4 star US Genera, Wesley Clark, described the contents of an extremely classified document which stated that the United States and its allies would use the 9/11 Terror attacks as a pretext for attacking a list of countries which currently were not controlled by US imperialism including both Libya and Syria, as well as Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, Lebanon and Iran. (see this link)
Following the complete disregard for international law in the utter destruction of a sovereign country and the removing of its legitimate government as in the case with Libya, both Russia and China at the UN security council have remained firm in upholding the rule of law so averting a similar catastrophe in Syria.
Therefore, the CPGB-ML, far from being unpopular in its stand on the Arab Spring revolutions, is in good company with those that wish to uphold the rule of law, opposing the highest of all crimes, an unprovoked war of aggression (Nuremburg). We are very proud to have consistently upheld this position throughout the developments in the Middle-East, probably the only organisation on the so called left to have done so. With regards to Gaddafi and Assad not being Marxists, as already explained, the class position is determined by the correct stand against imperialism. The first task of the revolution is the removing of imperialism from the country enabling it to adopt policies to promote the welfare of its citizens at home and pursue an independent foreign policy abroad. Is it not our internationalist duty to support the leaders of such countries whether they are Marxist or not in achieving these goals? I therefore strongly urge you to examine these achievements in relation to these countries which of course have had no air time whatsoever in the western mass media but are well known to the citizens of these countries. It is no surprise that the first country for Mandela to visit after his release from prison was Libya to thank Gaddafi for his support for the liberation struggle in South Africa. Nor should it be a surprise that it was and still is Syria that provides sanctuary to hundreds of thousands of Palestinians seeking refuge from Zionist eviction and for some 2 million plus Iraqi refugees who were displaced during the genocidal war of aggression against Iraq.
Taking your Fourth Question:
“What is the CPGB-ML’s position on Amnesty International and other
human rights organisations?”
I will try to briefly summarise the party’s line on Amnesty International, but I would recommend reading my letter which was written to the Amnesty International group at my own school.
Amnesty is, and always will be, a tool of the imperialist nations which, I have said before, commit the worst human rights abuses. Instead, it masquerades purposely as a human rights protector and deliberately points its longest finger at the nations which actually try to improve human rights, such as China, Cuba, the DPRK , Libya and Syria. Syria, the nation which is in the firing line of imperialism, is at the forefront of Amnesty’s ‘mission’ to improve “human rights”. Is this a coincidence? Of course not.
“We have the names of over 29,000 people killed since the crackdown on peaceful protests first began in Syria, in March 2011. But we believe the total figure is far higher, and the UN has claimed it is as high as 60,000.” quote Amnesty International (Stop the killing: Take action now!) This one paragraph released on Amnesty’s website sums the organisation up as a bias, lying and pro-war organisation.
So, our position on Amnesty International is very clear. It was set up purely to hoodwink the masses of western countries into believing that the wars perpetrated by western imperialism are carried out to promote human rights and fight humanitarian abuses but it is in fact the opposite which is the truth. Amnesty was introduced by CIA officials and ex US politicians as a key propaganda weapon.
I would be very interested in any responses that you might have to this letter and suggest that we maintain our discourse and continue with our debate.
Red Youth enjoys excellent relations with our comrades organised in the Kim il Sung Socialist Youth League, in the same way that the Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist-Leninist) enjoys warm relations with the Korean Workers Party. As part of our ongoing solidarity work, we’ll keep trying to publish The Pyongyang Times and Korean Today, here online at redyouth.org.
Anyone with a fleeting interest in foreign affairs could be forgiven this week for experiencing déjà vu as the United States, without a trace of evidence, accused the Syrian government of preparing to use chemical weapons on its people. In rhetoric that echoed the false claims of Iraqi WMDs last decade, western leaders intensified their plans for military intervention by claiming Damascus has started “potential chemical weapon preparation”.
Barack Obama, speaking on 4 December, warned that “if you [Assad] make the tragic mistake of using these weapons there will be consequences and you will be held accountable”. The US President continued, without a hint of irony, that “we simply cannot allow the 21st century to be darkened by the worst weapons of the 20th century”. (‘Syria crisis: Obama warns Assad over chemical weapons’, BBC News, 4 November 2012). The United States, of course, has used chemical weapons on the civilian population of Iraq and continually turns a blind eye to the Israeli use of white phosphorus in Gaza.
On the same day, Nato Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen approved the deployment of Patriot anti-missile batteries along the Syrian border in Turkey. These are, it is claimed, to shoot down Syrian missiles and/or warplanes which may be carrying chemical weapons.
Yet, whilst the majority of western media outlets have repeated these unsubstantiated claims, as they so faithfully did against Iraq in 2003, a Pentagon official has confirmed that “there is no evidence yet that the Syrian military has actually begun the process of mixing precursor chemicals to produce deadly Sarin nerve gas”. (‘No evidence Syria mixing chemical agents’, Pentagon official says, NBC News, 4 November 2012). Instead, we’re being asked to trust the intelligence agencies of US imperialism, who claim to have detected increased movement around ‘suspected weapons sites’.
It is the duty of communists, and all progressives, to ignore sensationalism and objectively analyse facts, history and class forces at play. The Syrian government has been able to withstand almost 22 months of foreign-backed insurgency – funded directly by US, British and French imperialists and indirectly by their proxies in Israel, Turkey and the Gulf monarchies. Indeed, the Syrian army has captured and identified a number of foreign nationals, originating from Saudi Arabia, Libya and even Britain, fighting in the country.
The government of Bashar al-Assad has survived not because of its possession of chemical weapons, nor out of fear as western commentators, and even socialists, foolishly assert, but because it retains the overwhelming support of the Syrian people: a population that has successfully resisted US imperialism and zionism for generations. If the imperialists attempt to manipulate events so that the FSA release chemical or biological weapons it will merely be a repeat of the strenuous efforts made whilst sending mortars into Turkey to embroil the entire region in a wider conflict, interfere with the internal situation in Syria and find a pretext for open imperialist interference.
The Syrian Arab Republic, contrary to its hysterical depiction, is a secular popular force in the region that has retained the progressive values of Arab nationalism and has, along with Iran and Hizbollah, been central to Palestinian resistance. It is for these reasons that Syria is being targeted by imperialism and its proxies – just as were Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya – and not, as we are asked to believe, because the US, British or French imperialists care a jot about civilian lives.
A meeting was held on Thursday 24 May in central Birmingham to address some of the key imperialist lies which are being spread within the anti-war movement with regards to Syria. The meeting was Chaired in a personal capacity by local NUJ activist and photographer Stalingrad O’Neill. Contributions from the Indian Workers Association (GB), AIWAA (Against imperialist wars in Africa and Asia) and the CPGB-ML will be posted shortly. We urge all anti-war activists and peace campaigners to host similar meetings and ensure that the truth about imperialist intervention in Syria is spread.
Make a start in finding out the truth by reading this excellent article from the latest Lalkar:
The steadfastness of the Syrian people in the face of every effort to divide and undermine them, coupled with the refusal of Russia and China to endorse the economic, diplomatic and military campaigns of aggression, continue to frustrate imperialist plans of conquest in the Middle East.
Whilst it cannot be doubted that Washington will carry on doing all possible to subvert the Annan plan, striving to transform an opportunity for reconciliation and dialogue into just one more cover for bullying and coercion, there is no disguising the humiliating reverse which has already been inflicted upon imperialist pretensions in the region.
What opened up the possibility of a negotiated solution in the beginning of April was the success with which the attempted putsch efforts in Homs, Idlib and elsewhere were faced down by Damascus, exposing for all to see the minimal support from within the country for the armed rebellion and its growing demoralisation. The refusal of China and Russia to allow the UN Security Council to impose sanctions had already created difficulties for the warmongers. Now, with the rebellion clearly on the back foot and even the Arab League growing dubious about the ability of the US to control events, Russia was able to initiate the diplomatic process which was taken under the wing of former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan.
For Syria, and for all who respect her sovereignty and desire a peaceful resolution of the conflict so maliciously cultivated by the West, this initiative was most welcome. However, for those who would wish to demolish her sovereignty, end her support for Palestine and Lebanon, loot her resources and reduce her to a pawn on the geopolitical chessboard, the threat of such an untimely outbreak of peace set alarm bells ringing. Such a peaceful outcome would not only cheat Washington out of its pretext for aggression, but would also redound enormously to the credit of Russia and China, the hostile encirclement of which countries is the strategic aim of imperialism. Such a fillip for the growing diplomatic influence of the BRICS countries, such a slap in the face for imperialist domination, is a nightmare for the West.
The West tries to sabotage the Annan Plan
The obvious solution to the West’s dilemma was to try and subvert the Russian initiative and subsequent Annan plan, transforming the genuine search for a peaceful resolution of the crisis into another stick for imperialism to wield against Syria’s national dignity. Imperialism tried to pull much the same stunt earlier in the year with the farce which played out over the Arab League’s observer mission. That mission had been pushed enthusiastically inside the League by the House of Saud, the King of Bahrain and other such “democratic” friends of America, all eager to send in the monitors. Their real agenda was twofold: to find or manufacture pretexts to justify further imperialist meddling, and to give the hard-pressed rebels a breathing space to consolidate their ragtag forces.
The propaganda end of the mission turned out to be a disaster for imperialism, with the mission’s official report producing damning evidence of rebel atrocities and giving a broadly positive account of the government’s compliance with the provisional requirement to withdraw heavy weaponry from major population centres. Needless to say, the contents of the report received scant coverage in the imperialist media, with all attention lavished instead upon the tantrums of Saudi Arabia and the other US satellites who denounced the report, slandered the Sudanese mission chief who authored it, submitted a fabricated report of their own and sabotaged the continuing mission by unilaterally withdrawing their monitors.
However, although the intended propaganda coup misfired so badly for the West, the mission’s second purpose, to interrupt the momentum of the government’s efforts to defend the country’s sovereignty and give the scattered rebels a chance to regroup, had more success, tragically extending this period of internecine strife and claiming yet more Syrian lives. Now, with the rebellion increasingly revealed to be a spent force within the country, its leadership riven by endless factions and its sole hope of salvation resting upon the West and its proxies (notably Turkey), imperialism sought to turn the Annan plan down the same blind alley. Washington paid lip service to the plan’s peaceful intentions, whilst in practice using it as a cover for the imposition of a series of impossible and ever-shiftingultimata upon the Syrian government.
The agreement to which the parties signed up required both sides to stop fighting, with the anticipation that international efforts would be made to ensure that the process goes forward on the basis of reciprocity. Yet it has throughout been clear from the belligerent tone of US leaders that imperialism is interested in only one outcome: the unilateral disarming of the country’s security forces. Under these circumstances, it would have been suicide for Damascus to completely stand down its forces on 10th April (as was ludicrously demanded) without at the very least guarantees in writing from the rebel bands that they plan to reciprocate. Syria’s entirely reasonable request for such written guarantees to be furnished was, predictably, trumpeted by Washington as a spoiling tactic, as if it were President Assad who sought to derail the process.
On 9 April, on the eve of the 10 April deadline, skirmishes were reported on the border between Syria and Turkey. BBC news that afternoon and evening headlined this skirmish as spectacular breaking news. Government forces, we were told, had opened fire on a refugee camp across the border in Turkey, slaughtering a number of refugees and wounding many others. In the context-free environment of BBC journalism, this was clearly intended to stack up as proof positive of the supposed bad faith and bloodthirsty disposition of the Syrian government, and ample reason for a Turkish government spokesman to strangle the Annan process at birth, declaring it “void”.
Yet even the BBC report could not avoid letting slip a “rumour” that armed rebels had somehow been involved. The RT news service was more forthcoming, reporting how armed Free Syrian Army thugs cross to and fro across the border without impediment from Turkish border guards. And it fell to Reuters to report on the account given by local Turkish officials on the ground, presumably before the official Ankara line had been handed down. Yusuf Odabas, the governor of Kilis province where the camp is situated, said simply that“The injuries are a result of clashes between Syrian soldiers and rebels. The bullets reached the camp.” Reuters reported that the stray bullets which hit the camp originated“from clashes between Syrian soldiers and rebel fighters”, and that the “gun battles occurred just inside Syria.” (9 April, ‘Fire from Syria border clashes hits refugee camp in Turkey, report says.’)
As one report followed another, often mutually contradictory (Three died, or two? They died in the camp or running to the border? They were refugees or armed rebels?), it became possible to piece together a much more plausible sequence of events. Imperialism, by doing its best to plunge Syria into civil war, has created a humanitarian nightmare on the country’s borders, with panicked civilians mistakenly crediting Turkish promises of a “safe haven” from the fighting. Instead of enjoying safety, they have found themselves used as pawns in a cynical game concocted by imperialism and played out by its Ottoman stooges. Reports suggesting that the gun battle was sparked as FSA thugs “helped refugees escape to Turkey” reinforce the suspicion that what was really at issue was the hot pursuit of terrorists towards the border, and the tragic consequences of the FSA using the refugees as camouflage for the continued subversion of the country.
Less well reported was the surrender to government forces in Idlib of at least 227 armed men at around the same time. With great magnanimity these terrorists were allowed to go free once they had given up their weapons and promised not to attack the government or their fellow citizens, hardly the action of the bloodthirsty tyranny portrayed in the West. Nor was this a one-off incident: back in November last year Syria offered amnesty to those who gave up their weapons. Victoria Nuland of the State Department then demonstrated her commitment to the cause of peace by encouraging the gangs to hang on to their guns and spurn the amnesty (Press TV: ‘Hundreds of armed men surrender to Syrian army in Idlib’, 9 April). From this we may judge who are the real peace lovers and whose hands are stained with the blood of innocents.
The West tries to torpedo the Annan Plan
Despite the worst efforts of the West, the Annan plan was not strangled at birth in mid-April, thanks in very large measure to the refusal of Damascus to abandon the ceasefire although under enormous provocation.
Whilst the imperialist media put itself entirely at the disposal of the rebels, maintaining a constant barrage of unsubstantiated allegations against the security forces, the routine counter-revolutionary violence on the ground was ramped up, supplemented now by a dirty war of assassinations of leading patriots, all with the clear intention of torpedoing the Annan plan. In the eastern province of Deir al-Zour assassins murdered Lieutenant Colonel Youssef Saqqe; in the central province of Hama terrorists slew Major Moussa Youssef and kidnapped Colonel Mohammad Eid. To demonstrate their respect for religion, the rebels shot Sayyed Nasser al-Allawi, the imam and preacher of al-Hossayniya Scientific Hawza on his own doorstep, in a suburb of Damascus. It seems that his “crime” was to have helped in relief efforts to help refugees uprooted from their homes by civil strife. And to demonstrate their respect for democracy, the self-styled “battalions of Mohammed” went onto YouTube to broadcast their intention to kill anybody who stands for office in the 7 May parliamentary elections (to be held in accord with the overwhelming mandate delivered in the February referendum). That such threats are to be taken seriously was underlined by the fate of one such candidate, Mohammad Ismail al-Ahmed, whose home in Idlib was stormed by an armed gang which dragged him off to an unknown destination. Even on the very day that the ceasefire was due to kick in, as if deliberately to sharpen the provocation and induce Damascus to walk away from the Annan plan, officials including a brigadier general in the Damascus suburb of Jaramana, a first lieutenant in the northern province of Aleppo, and the secretary of al-Baath Party’s office in al-Mazareeb town of the southern Daraa province were killed, and dozens of officers were wounded.
Thieves fall out as Syria stands firm
As frustration mounted in the West at the failure of all its stage-managed provocations to abort the peace process, the headlines screamed ever more incontinently about Syria’s “monstrous” government. Yet for the overwhelming majority of Syrians, including those raising legitimate demands for reform, the attempted demonization of President Assad and the progressive, secular coalition which he leads simply beggars belief.
Even in the West, despite all the efforts to downplay the thousands-strong pro-Assad demonstrations (all held at the point of a gun, we are assured), reality has a habit of breaking through from time to time. Thus it was that no less than The Telegraph ran a piece on 9 March by Matthew Schofield, gloomily entitled “U.S. officials: Assad could survive Syria revolt” in which it is revealed that “Months after the United States sided with rebels against Syrian President Bashar Assad, senior U.S. intelligence officials acknowledged Friday that not only could Assad survive the uprising, but also that they couldn’t say with confidence that the opposition represents a majority of the Syrian people.” The officials gave the lie to the repeated assertion that the governing coalition is driven by Alawite sectarianism, not only identifying support for President Assad amongst Christians, Kurds and Druze, but also admitting with puzzlement that, whilst most Syrian soldiers are from the Sunni majority, “Yet the military remains cohesive”. One official speaks truer than he knows when he says of the Syrian military, “This was an army built for a ground war with Israel. They have approached that level of commitment.” An army consisting of mercenaries rented by Doha and Riyadh is no match for the army of a progressive and independent nation committed to fighting Zionism and imperialism.
And whilst the Syrian military holds firm and the Syrian masses continue to rally behind the government, the rebel forces continue to split and buckle under the weight of their own treachery. The Telegraph quotes one member of the West-backed Syrian National Council bemoaning the fact that “There are internal divisions within the SNC… The main problem is SNC has gotten … bigger each and every day. We started with 80 people, now we are 340 people, and every high-ranking official defecting from the Syrian regime wants to have a big role” (Matthew Schofield, “U.S. officials: Assad could survive Syria revolt”, 9 March).
Whilst Syria’s strength and cohesion may remain a mystery to Telegraph readers, they pose no such conundrum to the millions of Syrian patriots for whom national pride, and pride in the nation’s anti-imperialist tradition, loom larger than any confessional or ethnic divisions.
Bahrain: a different story
A mystery that the capitalist media never does seem able to fully account for is why Hillary Clinton and David Cameron are not pestering the UN to pass resolutions imposing sanctions and threats of military intervention against the unelected feudal relics ruling over the population of Bahrain with teargas, sound bombs, birdshot and worse, calling in the Saudi army to murder demonstrators last year and celebrating the return of Formula One by shooting a protestor dead. Where are the diatribes against the bloodthirsty dictator killing his own people? Where is the international community’s outburst of moral indignation as Abdulhadi al-Khawaja, serving a life sentence for saying Bahrain should be a republic, slowly starves to death on hunger strike?
Yet the difference is not hard to grasp. Syria is a progressive, anti-imperialist country, and therefore deserving of the same campaign of calumny previously lavished upon other such countries, most recently Libya. Bahrain is an oil well with a flag, franchised out by imperialism to unelected local comprador stooges to run as a private fiefdom. In exchange, the US gets to park its Fifth Fleet there, ready to challenge any perceived threat to its exploitation interests. So really it is no mystery that the “Arab Spring”, invented and promoted by the West in Libya and Syria, must carve for itself in Bahrain. It will prosper the better without such “friends”.
Even the Mail on Sunday, in a rare burst of candour on 8 April, felt moved to comment as follows on the company which British imperialism’s own entirely bourgeoisified reigning monarch likes to keep (Katie Nicholl and Jonathan Petre, ‘Ruler of Bahrain’s bloody regime set for Windsor Castle’):
“The Queen has risked an international outcry by inviting the King of Bahrain to a Diamond Jubilee banquet despite widespread criticism of his bloody and repressive regime… He is also thought to be among those invited to a champagne dinner given by Prince Charles the same evening at Buckingham Palace… The king’s son, the Crown Prince of Bahrain, was last year invited to the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton but pulled out at the last minute… In January, the Countess of Wessex came under pressure to return lavish jewels given to her by the Bahrain royal family… The crown prince gave her a silver and pearl cup and her husband, the Earl of Wessex, received a silk rug…”
For good measure the Mail on Sunday recalls that in 2011, “At the height of the killings, David Cameron greeted the crown prince at No 10, and between July and September 2011 the Coalition reportedly authorised the sale of £2.2million of arms to the regime.”
Vain hopes that bringing Formula One back to Bahrain would help convince the world that everything had blown over were spectacularly dashed. Instead, two things were demonstrated: that the fascistic character of the state repression had in no wise abated; and that the revolt which began over a year ago is not over by a long chalk.
Syria is a working class issue
Trotskyites and revisionists of course will have no such trouble supporting in words the popular revolt in Bahrain – but only in order then to muddle up the anti-imperialist essence of the Bahraini revolt with the pro-imperialist essence of the armed Islamic rebellion in Syria. Such muddle must be uprooted in the labour movement.
Without a doubt Washington and its stooges will continue to take every opportunity to sabotage the Annan plan and regain the warmongering initiative, and we cannot underestimate the threat to Syria’s sovereignty that still exists.
Crucially, workers need to understand that it is the anti-imperialist steadfastness of the Syrian nation and its leadership which has opened up the possibility of a peaceful resolution to the conflict. By contrast, those on the “left” who have joined in with the demonization of Assad and the progressive coalition government which he leads, however much they may protest their opposition to military intervention in Syria’s affairs, have done more than most to grease the wheels for precisely such an outcome. Now more than ever it is time for workers to give heartfelt support to the Syrian nation in its struggle against imperialist meddling.