Libya

Libya: damned if we do and damned if we don’t

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 17/11/2017 - 9:08pm in

Given the complex attitudes towards foreign interventions in Libya, we need a clear strategy that stands up to local, regional, and international scrutiny.

Soldiers of the Libyan UN-backed government forces gather on a street in Aziziya, Warshaffana, Libya, on Nov. 10, 2017 hours after taking control of the largest military camp in the area. Picture by Hamza Turkia/Xinhua News Agency/PA Images. All rights reserved.Frustrated
by the lack of media time given to local Libyan reactions to
international actions, I have just finished a project
funded by the Remote
Control Project
to interview a wide range of local
stakeholders (including civil society activists, businessmen,
officials, Islamist leaders, former ministers and former fighters) to
elicit views on the less-well known but ongoing international
military intervention in the Libyan conflict since the NATO campaign
to topple Gadhafi ended in 2011.

The
responses highlighted the “damned if you do, damned if you don’t”
dilemma faced by governments currently seeking to contain the spread
of violent extremist groups in the country and protect their own
security. On the one hand, foreign intervention has generally
elicited a negative response in Libya, where pride in national
sovereignty and mistrust of international intentions run deep. Then,
on the other, there is a keen sense of abandonment following the
ousting of Gaddafi – when the international community left the
country vulnerable to meddling by a wide range of local and regional
actors.

How to resolve
the conflict in Libya remains one of the most difficult and important
questions facing policy-makers today. The country has been mired in
crisis ever since the toppling of the former Libyan leader Colonel
Muammar Gadhafi in 2011. Beyond the humanitarian costs of the ongoing
turmoil, the boost in available weapons
has fuelled conflicts
across the continent. Libya’s
proximity to Europe has also raised fears about rising
immigrant flows
; while, the Libyan
links to the Manchester bomber
highlighted the dangers
of leaving extremism to blossom in the country. As AFRICOM
commander Thomas Waldhauser
recently stated:
“instability in Libya and North Africa may be the most significant
near-term threat to US and allies’ interests on the continent.”

Foreign intervention appears to be inadvertently exacerbating divisions on the ground

It
is, perhaps, unsurprising then that many western countries discreetly
continued military operations in the country after the official end
of the NATO mission in October 2011. However, their interests and
motives – particularly their perceived focus on countering
terrorism over the broader stability of the country – have been a
cause of contention. Alongside diplomatic
efforts to build support
for the Government of
National Accord (GNA) (created with the intention of forging a
consensus ruling body in Libya – an aspiration that has failed),
there are reports that the US,
France,
Italy
and the UK
have or have had Special Forces on the ground in the country. This
engagement peaked after 2015 when, so called, Islamic State (IS)
declared the coastal town of Sirte as its Libyan headquarters –
just 396 miles off the coast of Italy.

As
chaos and division in the country continue to increase, foreign
intervention appears to be inadvertently exacerbating divisions on
the ground, adding further layers of controversy and suspicion to an
already complex situation.

Damned
if you do

While there was
an uneasy local acceptance of the 2011 intervention to bring down
Gaddafi, subsequent foreign interventions have prompted shrill
reactions inside Libya. For example, in
July 2016, after it was revealed that French Special Forces

were operating in the east of the country, hundreds of Libyans took
to the streets of Tripoli, as well as other western towns to condemn
foreign involvement, holding up placards that proclaimed, "Get
your hands off Libya" and "No French intervention."

In my own
research, many respondents remained concerned about intervention in
the country and many believed international actors had ulterior
motives. One person summed this up when they stated: “Everyone
knows that the international community didn’t intervene for good
reasons. They are trying to prolong the conflict in order to benefit
from it.”

Nor has the
covert nature of these operations saved international actors from
local scrutiny. In fact, while the UK – who has been one of the
most secretive actors in the region – has avoided mass protests
like those against France, their operations have been steeped in a
quieter controversy. While some respondents welcomed the assistance
provided by the UK against ISIS, especially in light of Libya’s
inability to deal with the problem alone, others were sceptical, of
their presence - with many doubting the UK’s intentions. For
example, one interviewee asserted, “The UK is driven by its own
interests and usually in such situations there is no space for values
and human charity.”

in the eyes of many Libyans, the GNA remains an illegitimate body

There
were several accusations among the respondents that Britain was
involved in the battle in Sirte for its own interests and that its
real goals had more to do with stealing Libya’s wealth and
resources. One student explained, “The international community has
bad faith towards Libya because it does not seek to protect civilians
from ISIS. It seeks to dominate resources in Sirte.”

Recent
comments by British Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson, who stated
during a meeting on the fringes of the Conservative party conference
in October 2017 that Sirte could become the next Dubai once it had
"cleared
the dead bodies away"
, only served to amplify such
suspicions.

More
importantly, through its intervention, Britain has inevitably become
bound up in the complex local power struggles that are tearing Libya
apart. By backing the GNA in its battle to oust ISIS from Sirte, the
UK gave the strong impression that it was supporting one side in this
conflict at the expense of others. Although the GNA was conceived of
as a consensus government, its rejection by some of the key forces on
the ground meant that it was never anything of the sort. Nor was it
ever officially approved by Libya’s elected parliament, the House
of Representatives, meaning that in the eyes of many Libyans, the GNA
remains an illegitimate body.

By
working through the GNA and those forces that support it, Britain
appeared to some Libyans, therefore, to be deliberately empowering
certain elements in the wider Libyan conflict. As one civil society
activist asserted, “Without doubt, British intervention favours one
side over the other.”

At
the same time, local power brokers have been able to seize upon
foreign intervention to discredit and undermine their opponents,
accusing each other of having sold out on national sovereignty for
their own gain. As one respondent explained, “The problem for us is
that members of the political class are competing for power. They
empower themselves against each other through foreign parties.”

Damned if you
don’t

Yet,
in another sense the UK is damned if it doesn’t engage. Despite the
dominant narrative that rejects foreign intervention, there is
clearly a lot of bitterness about the way in which Libya was left to
its own fate once Gaddafi had been toppled. There is clearly an
appetite in Libya for international support, as long as it is
perceived to be focussed on helping Libya as a whole and not just on
tackling groups like ISIS or dealing with the migrant crisis.

For
example, one respondent commented that the international community
“left the country in chaos and civil war.” Journalist Jalal
Othman rued, “After getting rid of [Gaddafi], the international
community left Libya facing its fate alone. Quite often the tanks
were moving from one town to go to bomb another. The international
community heard that, saw that, but it didn’t do anything to stop
it.”

There is clearly a strong feeling of resentment inside Libya

Within
this vein, another issue to emerge strongly from the responses was a
sense that by turning its back on Libya, the international community
had left the country to the mercy of regional players. Many flagged
up the roles played by Egypt, the UAE, Jordan, Qatar and Turkey, who
have all played their part in Libya’s conflict, backing different
factions to the detriment of peace and stability. Indeed, Qatar
and Turkey
have backed the Tripoli and Misratan
camps, while Egypt and the UAE have stood firmly behind Haftar,
providing him with political support, as well as military training
and assistance.

So,
what to do?

While
many of these comments reflect a somewhat contradictory position in
which the international community is damned if it intervenes and
damned if it stands back, there is clearly a strong feeling of
resentment inside Libya that the country has been subjected to a
barrage of meddling and ill-thought through interventions, none of
which has had Libya’s interests at its core.

This
is exacerbated by the secrecy and ambiguity over the intentions of
intervening countries. Ambiguity and lack of transparency create hearsay and fuel accusations, drawing interveners into the local
dynamics of the conflict, making it impossible to be seen as an
apolitical or non-partisan player.

This
cannot help but undermine diplomatic action. In the case of the GNA,
the international intervention only fuelled accusations that it was
little more than a puppet government, created by external powers and
serving a foreign agenda. Such accusations weakened it further and
chipped away at its legitimacy.

If nothing else, my research underscores the need for greater
transparency, so that international actions and intentions can stand
up to the scrutiny of the many competing local groups that will need
to be brought onside if Libya is to see peace.

Check the full
report “After the fall: Views from the ground of international
military intervention in post-Gadhafi Libya
”.

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Related stories: 

Brother, where art thou? Libya, spaces of violence and the diffusion of knowledge

Stop blaming the rescuers

Historical amnesia and Europe’s migration relations with Libya

Whatever happened to peace? Arms, oil and war by proxy

The knockout punch to the Libyan political agreement

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Professor Sarah Churchwell on Boris Johnson and his Deceit and Offensiveness

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 15/11/2017 - 10:19pm in

This is another short video I came across on Imajsa Claimant’s Channel on YouTube. It’s from the Beeb’s Question Time, when one of the panellists, Professor Sarah Churchwell, the professor of American Literature at the University of London, really decided to lay into Boris Johnson. She attacked him for his opportunism, his duplicity, his lack of any political scruples, and his callous indifference to the carnage in Libya that he expressed in his ‘joke’.

She states that Boris is not the lovable clown, which he tries to present himself as, and she’s sick of people trying to say that all this is ‘just Boris’. She finds it incomprehensible how anyone could possibly think that he’s amusing She describes how he wrote one piece promoting Brexit, and then wrote another piece about it, just in case he lost. When it came to standing up for Theresa May, he only did so when made to by Amber Rudd. As for his comment about Libya, in which he declared that the country had some nice beaches and would be worth investing in, as soon as they’ve cleared the bodies away, she states that it wasn’t a joke and wasn’t funny. This was about a country ‘mired in civil war’. She concludes that he should not be in government. And the fact that Theresa May has not sacked him shows that she’s a follower, not a leader.

More ‘Fake News,’ Alas, From the New York Times

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 11/11/2017 - 6:49am in

From The American Conservative via Information Clearing House Disregarding President Trump’s insistent claim that the establishment press propagates “fake news” requires a constant effort—especially when a prestigious outlet like the New York Times allows itself to be used for blatantly fraudulent purposes. I cherish the First Amendment. Mark me down as favoring journalism that is loud, lively, and confrontational. When members of the media snooze—falling for fictitious claims about Saddam’s WMD program or Gaddafi’s genocidal intentions, for example—we all lose. So the recent decision by Times editors to publish an op-ed regarding Paul Manafort’s involvement in Ukraine is disturbing. That the Times is keen to bring down Donald Trump is no doubt the case. Yet if efforts to do so entail grotesque distortions of U.S. policy before Trump, then we are courting real trouble. Put simply, ousting Trump should not come at the cost of whitewashing the follies that contributed to Trump’s rise in the first place. The offending Times op-ed, the handiwork of Evelyn N. Farkas, appears under the title “With Manafort, It Really …

RT’s Lee Camp on What the US Military Is Doing in Niger

‘All the things we ever needed
I don’t need them now.
And all the things we did
Were confidential,
And hidden from me anyhow.’

– The Sisters of Mercy, Something Fast, early 1990s.

Remember those five US squaddies, who were killed in Niger the other week, but the American government couldn’t tell anyone what they were doing there in the first place? In this short piece from RT’s Redacted Tonight, comedian Lee Camp reveals what America is doing in this country in West Africa, and how the American military-industrial complex, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank have worked to screw over yet another country.

He begins by stating that Africa possesses many of the vital mineral resources needed by the modern world – gold, diamonds, oil and so on. However, American investment and hegemony over the continent is being challenged by China, which has secured deals in recent years with African nations covering nearly ever sector of the continent’s economy. To maintain their military readiness for conflict in the region, in 2008 the Americans set up AFRICOM. From 2010 to 2017 the number of US troops in African increased by 2000 per cent. Most African countries don’t allow American drones to be armed. Niger was the one exception that was open to the Americans flying armed drones within its borders. The country has rich deposits of cobalt, manganese, chromium and platinum, metals that are used in modern weapons systems. It does not have any of the yellow cake uranium that Bush and co. claimed Niger was supplying to Saddam Hussein in preparation for Iraq making a nuclear bomb. This didn’t stop the claim being revived again in 2011, when it was alleged that Niger was sending the mineral to Iran.

Between 1990 and 1995 there was a Tuareg rebellion in Niger and Mali against poverty, corruption and exploitation. This came to end when the rebel leader was killed in a plane crash, which many of them blamed on the C.I.A. It looked suspicious, because an autonomous Tuareg region in the north of Niger threatened the plans of Exxon and other American oil and mining corporations to have a free hand in exploiting the region around Lake Chad.

This was followed by a famine, which was created not by a shortage of grain, but through the deregulation of the grain markets and the price of oil ordered by the I.M.F. and World Bank. The civilian government was then overthrown by a military coup in 2011, which suspended the constitution. The American government has a policy of not supporting governments that have come to power through military action. But Obama’s administration showed that they were as ready to embrace them, as they were to embrace the military regimes that had also seized power through C.I.A. sponsored coups in Honduras and Paraguay.

Then there was the NATO bombing of Libya and its assistance for the rebels, who overthrew and assassinated Colonel Gaddafi. As part of their policy of regime change, the American government also armed and gave aid to various Islamist groups connected to al-Qaeda. After the fall of Gaddafi’s government, these groups spread out across north Africa, and moved south across the Sahel down to Niger, to cause trouble to American corporations in the region in another example of the blowback that has come from terrorist groups armed as part of American imperialism.

Camp then goes to explain why Americans should care about the situation in Niger. It’s because this is where Americans’ tax dollars are going. He states that America now has a military government in charge. It is also another area in which America’s brave young men and women are fighting, and from where they’re coming back in coffins.

The clip concludes with comments from John Perkins, the author of Confessions of an Economic Hitman, who states that after the Fall of the Soviet Union, America had the opportunity to practise good business practices around the world. They didn’t, and instead did exactly the opposite, promoting exploitation. As a result, the Chinese are stepping in to take advantage of the mistakes America has made.

The video’s entitled ‘What They Won’t Tell You About US Troops in NIGER’, and my guess is that they really aren’t going to be keen about the folks on this side of the Atlantic knowing about it either. Because whatever America is doing, we have to join in as part of the Special Relationship. Which means that we cling to our status as a world power by riding on the Americans’ coat-tails, acting as their poodle. Just as we did under Blair, and as we have done ever since World War II. And under Blair, we also sent ‘peace-keeping’ missions into West Africa – I think one of them was in Sierra Leone during their civil War in the late ’90s and early part of this century. So it really isn’t going to surprise me if it’s revealed that we’ve also got troops in there, or will have to send some in shortly if the situation escalates further.

As for the famine created by the demands of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, that scenario has been played out in just about every country across the globe which has been forced to go to them for help. Way back in the 1990s there was a short film on Channel 4 about the IMF had trashed the economy of one of the countries in Southern Africa. The country was in dire economic straits, but had a healthy industry cultivating and exporting peanuts under government control. So the I.M.F. insisted that the industry be privatised and deregulated, with the result that the industry fell apart, creating more poverty and economic stagnation.

This isn’t the exception to the rule. This is the rule. Many of the countries in the Developing World, which have prospered, have done so precisely because they told the I.M.F. and World Bank where they could stick their recommendations. And these recommendations are always that industry should be privatised, deregulated and whatever there is of a welfare system should be cut back. Lobster has also described them as another important component of American imperialism, as they always recommend that the privatised industries should be sold to an American company.

Once again, American forces are being deployed in another part of the world to defend and expand American corporate interests against Chinese competition, and terrorist action by the same groups American armed against Colonel Gaddafi.
But the squaddies’ presence has been explained away as just being in an advisory role. Just like they were explained away in Vietnam.

Fox News Drools over Mandatory Patriotism Class in College of the Ozarks

The use of patriotism as a disguise for right-wing indoctrination gets another boost in this small section of the American education system. In this clip from Secular Talk, host Kyle Kulinski talks about a piece on Fox News, where they discuss the introduction of a new, mandatory freshman class on patriotism and the military at the College of the Ozarks with the college’s president, Gerry Davis. Actually, discuss is probably not the right word. ‘Rave about’ and ‘fawn over’ are probably better descriptors.

Davis states that the course will including rifle shooting, map reading and tying knots, as well as respect for the flag, as these parts of the curriculum are modelled on basic training in the American military. He states that everyone in America owes a debt to their armed forces. As for sport, he states that the college football and other sports teams would not play another side, whose team members refused to stand for the flag. And he states that it’s disrespectful for a squaddie, who’s served in Afghanistan, to have to see some multi-millionaire kneeling. This is clearly a reference to Colin Kaepernick and the other American football players, who have knelt when the flag is raised before games to show their support for Black Lives Matter and protest the shooting of unarmed Blacks.

Kulinski is understandable bitterly critical about the double standards towards free speech shown by the college and its administrators, and by the Republicans towards peaceful protest. He states that if others were assembling a course on patriotism, a few of the things they might put in it could be the Civil Rights movement, perhaps the New Deal, and the Constitution. But none of those are included, because it doesn’t reflect the personal tastes of Davis himself. And any course on patriotism should include how great it is to live in a country, that will allow you to burn the flag in a peaceful protest. He points out that peaceful protest is one of the most American of institutions. But this move means that it is ruled out, and there is literally no way people can express their feelings about injustice as these are also angrily denounced or suppressed by the patriotic right. If they march in the street, they’re accused of making a mountain out of a molehill. They can’t riot without being denounced, obviously, and so, with simply kneeling for the flag also attacked, there is simply nothing they can do to raise awareness of the issue of the cops killing innocent Blacks. And this is the attitude of the American patriotic right.

Who claim they are the defenders of free speech, except when it challenges the flag and the military. ‘You f***ing hypocrites’, Kulinski describes them.

As for ending the cavalier judicial murder of Black Americans, Kulinski suggests this could be done by passing laws setting up community policing, making all police wear body cameras and ending the war on drugs.

He ends by saying that if these people were truly concerned with patriotism, they’d be willing to let people kneel for the flag, even if they didn’t agree with them. But instead the president of the US himself, has said that people should fired for doing so.

Kulinski’s right about all of this, and the issue of respecting the flag has been raised before. Back in the 1980s when Reagan was in the White House, there was a storm of outrage when a young member of the Communist party publicly burned the flag in protest at Reagan’s policies. The great American comedian, Bill Hicks, lampooned the Republican protests and loud denunciations which followed.

He said he didn’t want anyone to burn the flag. But the flag wasn’t freedom. You can’t burn freedom because freedom is freedom. And that includes the freedom to burn the flag. Or words to that effect. It’s a long time since I listened to the joke.

As for Americans owing something to the military, that’s true up to a point. This arguably begins and ends round about the Second World War and the attack on Pearl Harbour. The other wars America has fought across the globe have not been about protecting America or democracy, but preserving capitalism against the threat of Communism. This has meant the overthrow of even moderately liberal or reformist governments in order to protect and extend American corporate interests. 9/11 was an act of war against America, but the western armed forces that are now stationed in the country have long outstayed any residual welcome they may have had, and are now in fact actively counterproductive in that they are creating opposition to the West. And the subsequent invasions and military actions that have taken place under the guise of the War on Terror, such as the Iraq invasion, the bombing of Syria and the overthrow of Gaddafi, are simply more geopolitical imperialist adventures, in which the lives of brave squaddies are being spilt simply to boost the profits of big corporations.

Perhaps if America and the West genuinely wanted to respect our troops, we would just make sure they’d only be sent in when our security was directly threatened. And not as cannon-fodder for Raytheon and the other defence contractors to make another killing on the stock exchange.

The anti-Islamist campaign and Arab democracy

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 27/10/2017 - 7:55pm in

Egyptians, Libyans, Tunisians, and other Arabs deserve better than to be told that they must choose between extremism and chaos or autocracy.

AA/ABACA/Press Association Images. All rights reserved. Egyptian security guards intervene and detain scores of Morsi supporters who gathered in Alexandria on November 4, 2013 to denounce Morsi's trial in Egypt. AA/ABACA/Press Association Images. All rights reserved.The 2013 Egyptian coup, which overthrew the democratically
elected Muslim Brotherhood president Mohamed Morsi, strengthened the
anti-political Islam camp while hardening its attitudes.

Besides advocating the complete exclusion and repression of
Islamist groups, this camp also lumps jihadists and peaceful political parties
together.

The rigidity and anti-democratic hypocrisy of such attitudes recalls
anti-communist sentiment in the US during the Cold War, when many ordinary
Americans and their government could not grasp that the repression practiced by
right-wing US-allied regimes was just as ruthless as that applied in the Soviet
Union and by its allies. 

the US government readily looked the other way as human rights were violated

The thinking was that an autocratic right-wing government
was far better than the communist alternative. With this worldview as a
foundation, the US government readily looked the other way as human rights were
violated.

The current coalition against nonviolent political Islam,
sadly, includes some of the youthful protestors at the vanguard of the
2010-2011 Arab Spring who now harbor uncompromising attitudes toward the Muslim
Brotherhood and other Islamist groups. 

In the worst cases, their ‘allergy’ to political Islam is so
severe that it clouds their ability to empathize with the human rights of
fellow citizens.

After the 2013 coup in Egypt, many of those who called for
Mubarak’s removal in 2011 not only remained silent, but actively cheered, the
violent crackdown on Muslim Brotherhood supporters.

An uncompromising attitude toward political Islam is first
and foremost the consequence of many decades of state-driven propaganda which
has convinced a critical mass of Arab citizens and foreigners that political
Islam constitutes an existential threat to the state and needs to be put down,
at any cost to democracy and human rights. 

Historically, Arab autocrats at times co-opted political
Islam for their own purposes, but mostly they repressed Islamist movements in
the most brutal ways, as we are learning
from the work of the Tunisian Truth and Dignity Commission.

What Sisi and the Egyptian military really fear is not Islamists but democracy itself.

Islamist political parties may play the democratic game, the
autocrats said, but once in power they will trample on personal freedoms and
capture state institutions.

The autocrats also convinced American and
European leaders that their regimes were the only bulwark against extremism.

Today, the regime that rules Egypt, the most populous Arab
country, has returned to these well-trodden tactics. Its leader, Abdel Fattah
El Sisi, plays up the threat of Islamism as a way to bolster his internal and
external support and justify repression.

What Sisi and the Egyptian military really fear is not
Islamists but democracy itself. Nevertheless, many Egyptians have bought into
the narrative that strongman rule is the only bulwark against chaos and Islamic
theocracy. 

In anti-Islamist discourse, the Muslim Brotherhood is
indistinguishable from violent jihadist groups. Never mind that Islamists have
peacefully participated in parliamentary politics in countries such as Kuwait,
Morocco and Jordan for many years now, and in Tunisia since 2011.

The anti-Islamist
propaganda narrative in Egypt leaves this fact out, and instead the Sisi regime
has declared the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist group. Sisi has also reinstated the Emergency Law, which in modern
Egyptian history has been used to silence opposition while doing little to
quell terrorist attacks.

In Tunisia, anti-Islamist sentiments have been exploited for
political purposes and to distract citizens and outsiders from anti-democratic
practices.

Tunisian president Beji Caid Essebsi, who spent most of his
career serving dictators, recently pushed to end a ban on Tunisian women
marrying non-Muslim men and called for changes to gender-discriminatory gender
laws. Yet, he has done little to reform Tunisia’s interior ministry and police,
well known as sources of repression, and has presided over a troubling rollback
of democratic principles. 

This uncompromising anti-Islamist line has powerful external
sponsors. The United Arab Emirates uses its financial and diplomatic clout (at
times in alliance with other Gulf Arab allies) in a relentless campaign against
the Muslim Brotherhood.

The wave of nationalism and populism sweeping across western societies has bought into the anti-Islamist narrative

The Emiratis have supported anti-Islamist figures like
Eastern Libya’s self-styled strongman Khalifa Hiftar, whose militias commit
well-documented human rights abuses in the name of fighting Islamists. Saudi Arabia has also intervened in support of politically
“quietist” Libyan Salafists.

The wave of nationalism and populism sweeping across western
societies (which features Islamophobia as one of its main tenets) has also
bought into the anti-Islamist narrative with the help of Russian information
warfare. 

This has helped convince many Europeans that in the Arab
world, autocracy is the only defense against radical Islam. As a consequence,
European right-wing populist parties and their followers express support for
Bashar al-Assad, who is fighting a noble battle against jihadists. Never mind
that he is also backed by the theocratic Iran and scores of
religiously-motivated Shia militias. All of this lowers the potential for
Europe, never a champion of Arab democracy, to be a positive force for reform
in the Arab world.

Similarly, the administration of Donald J. Trump has
signaled often and vocally its unqualified support for Arab authoritarian
leaders as partners in the fight against “violent Islamic extremism.”

In April 2017, a photograph of Egyptian president Sisi, by
most measures more repressive than former president Hosni Mubarak, sitting next
to Trump in the White House spoke volumes about the priorities of the
administration and its readiness to buy into the time-tested appeals of Arab
autocrats to American presidents. Meanwhile, Trump's son-in-law and advisor
Jared Kushner have forged close friendships with Saudi and Emirati royalty. 

The post-Arab Spring campaign against political Islam has
been used again and again to justify political exclusion and human rights
abuses.

Its rigid ideological approach only further entrenches
authoritarianism and promotes feelings of marginalization, which can drive extremism.

Egyptians, Libyans, Tunisians, and other Arabs deserve
better than to be told that they must choose between extremism and chaos on one
hand or autocracy on the other.

It is also time that courageous western leaders
openly challenge the premises and methods of the campaign against nonviolent
political Islam, not because they agree with the program of nonviolent Islamist
parties, but rather because they care about democracy.

Sideboxes
Related stories: 

Political Islam in Tunisia: a history of Ennahda and the Tunisian exception

Despite Tunisia's positive reforms, more changes are needed

Pain, torture and alienation

Tunisia’s struggle against corruption: time to fight, not forgive

The Egyptian Army’s violent trail of breadcrumbs

Send them to Egypt

Sisi’s neoliberal assault: context and prospects

Who will defend Egypt’s human rights defenders?

Tunisia's fight against fundamentalism: an interview with Amel Grami

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Code Pink Urges US Institutions to Boycott Arms Industry

This is another important piece by RT America on attempts by American peace activists to stop the war machine that is currently killing and making homeless millions of innocents in the Middle East, as well as the courageous American and allied squaddies sent to fight in it, and which has also resulted in massive cuts to public programmes in order to fund it.

The left-wing peace group, Code Pink, has launched a conference to encourage universities and financial institutions to boycott and divest from the arms industry. The group’s leader, Medea Benjamin, states that the reason these wars have dragged on so long is because they are incredibly profitable to the arms manufacturers. Every time Trump goes to Saudi Arabia, for example, to announce a multi-million dollar sale of armaments, the share price of companies like Lockheed Martin goes up. So, she says, they are simply following the money and trying to get institutions to stop funding and supporting these ‘merchants of misery’.

Vijay Prashad, the director of International Studies at Trinity College, states that even though millions are being killed in these wars, there is no accountability, no outrage, no pity for the victims and no sense that anybody should be dragged before an international tribunal. Instead, the victims of these wars themselves are blamed, as is happening now in Syria, while the reality is that these wars are destroying country after country.

The Black American activist, Ajamu Baraka, who was the Green Party’s presidential nominee, also makes the point that in order to fund this war machine, the American state is cutting vital welfare services and programmes. These include those for the homeless, support for education, such aid for the poor to go to college, environmental protection policies will be cut, energy assistance for the poor and elderly will also be cut, all in order to find the money to provide the £696 billion granted to the US military. It’s money that has been supplied at the expense of poor people’s basic needs.

The clip ends with Medea Benjamin stating that the conference is designed to get people together to say ‘enough is enough’ and that institutions no longer want to make profits from the military and their wars.

All of this is correct. People in America, as well as those over here, are seeing welfare budgets slashed partly to provide funding for the continued wars in the Middle East and elsewhere. These are not being fought for democracy, or the defence of the West and its allies against evil dictators. They are being fought to provide profits for American arms contractors, who provide millions of dollars in funding for American politicos. Iraq wasn’t invaded because it had weapons of mass destruction. That was a lie. It was invaded because the Saudi-US oil industry wanted the Iraqi oil reserves and its industry. American multinationals also coveted Iraqi state enterprises, and Israel hated the aid Saddam Hussein was giving to the Palestinians.

And the same is true of Syria. The neocons want to destroy it, because its an ally of Iran and Russia and a potential threat to Israel. They and a group of Arab states, including Qatar and Jordan, also want to oust Assad because he’s blocking the construction of a massive gas pipeline, which will stretch from Qatar to Turkey. In fact, these nations even told the Americans they’d pay for the war if America attacked Syria.

And the neocons have already destroyed Libya, they’d like to destroy Somalia, Sudan and Iran. Hence Trump’s step in decertifying the Iranian nuclear deal with Obama.

General Smedley Butler described all this back in the 1930s in his book, War Is A Racket, detailing the way American big business had profited from the First World War. As for the poor suffering because of the need to cut services to fund the military, I think it was president Truman, who described it has taking food from the mouths of the poor, and denying the construction of schools and hospitals.

I’ve already said in my last article about the revelation that the CIA was staging fake academic conferences as part of its campaign against the Iranian nuclear programme, that Lobster had published an article expressing similar concerns about the way some of Britain’s universities were also supporting the British war machine. Millions are being plunged into poverty and death, including American and British squaddies, all for the profits of the merchants of death and big business like Haliburton. It’s time for this obscenity to end, and universities and investment houses to pull out of supporting the war machine.

The Difference Between Tories and Labour over Misogyny and Offensive Jokes

Mike’s put up several pieces over the past few days commenting on the recent ‘dead cat’ scandal the Tories are manufacturing over a joke Clive Lewis made at the Labour party conference. In one event, one male volunteer asked if he could take part on his knees. Lewis replied that he could, and jokingly referred to him as ‘bitch’.

This complete non-event, which no-one present objected to at the time, is now the subject of a storm of fake indignation from the Tories and their Blairite enablers in the Labour party, like Jess Philips, who is accusing Lewis of sexism and misogyny. One Tory female MP, Nusrat Ghani, wants an early day motion to debate Lewis’ horrendous comment.

A friend of mine used to be a member of the Conservative party, right up until John Major said baldly that students only went to university to avoid going to work. He was at the same College I was, and worked extremely hard, as did so many other students despite the propaganda pumped out by the press. You can probably remember the stories – students are all lazy, don’t do any studying and just use their grant money to get drunk. Realising that the party he’d supported had nothing but contempt for him and others like him, he left. Discussing the state of the Tory party, he quoted the old saying, ‘the Tory party is an organised hypocrisy.’

And as Mike has shown, it certainly is. In spades. He has provided quote after quote from Tories swearing at constituents, and making racist and very sexist comments. One female Tory MP was caught repeating the figure of speech ‘N***er in the woodpile’. One of the most horrendous hypocrites has been Paul Staines, of the Guido Fawkes blog infamy. Despite his professed horror at the use of the word ‘bitch’, Staines has bandied it around fairly freely himself. Mike quotes a couple of young women on Twitter, who were seriously maligned by Staines and his followers. One was accused by Staines when she was 17 of having got her place in Momentum through providing sexual services, and another was similarly hounded by his slavering followers when she was 19.

In fact, the idea that Staines has any respect for women is incredible, considering his political connections. Back in the 1980s, Staines was part of a Libertarian group on the fringes of the Tory party. This group were so extreme, that one year they invited the leader of one of the Central American Fascist death squads to be the guest of honour at their annual dinner. This were the same death squads that raped women, and sexually mutilated both their male and female victims. But now the poorly fellow is terribly outraged by the jocular use of the word ‘Bitch’.

This government has certainly been no friend to women, despite the attempt to portray the selection of Theresa May of Prime Minister as the Second Coming of Maggie Thatcher. As one of the female commenters on Twitter quoted by Mike has pointed out, the Tories have closed rape crisis centres. They also inserted a rape clause to justify not paying child benefit to women, who had a third baby through sexual violence.

And on the subject of rape and women’s reproductive rights, Jacob Rees-Mogg went off and said abortion couldn’t be justified at all, even when the child was conceived through rape. For which Mogg, now also being touted as the next great Tory leader, was also pilloried.

And the hypocrisy comes particularly thick and fast in the shape of Boris Johnson. Mike’s provided a number of comments from Blond Bruiser, which shows just how deeply prejudiced he is. In one of them, he says that women only go to university to find husbands(!) Well, yes, people often meet their future partners at Uni. But most students, female and male, go to university because they enjoy the subject they want to study, and hope that pursuing it will enrich their lives as well as hopefully lead to better career prospects, if not a career. For example, it has been projected that soon the majority of people in medicine will be women. And it’s very clear from the number of female doctors and other medical professionals that they studied medicine because they wanted to be doctors, nurses, surgeons, psychiatrists and therapists, not because it was simply a nice way of meeting a prospective husband.

The most recent offensive comment uttered by BoJo was about Libya and the prospects for capital investment despite the carnage wrought by the civil war raging there. Boris stated that he had British investors lined up to turn the town of Sirte into the next Dubai ‘after they’d cleared away the bodies.’ This cavalier reference to the police and civilians shot down in a battle with Islamist militants understandably upset a lot of people. It was even denounced in one of the Libyan parliaments. But the last thing I saw about it on YouTube had the headline that Boris wasn’t going to apologise.

He should. But he hasn’t.
Lewis, on the other hand, has. And according to the I today, Jeremy Corbyn has condemned the comment.

And so we’re back to Tory hypocrisy, as amply supported by Mrs Nusrat Ghani.

For the various comments and Mike’s response to them, see

http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2017/10/22/never-mind-clive-lewis-what-about-the-racism-and-sexism-alleged-of-these-scottish-tories/

http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2017/10/21/this-is-not-the-state-of-british-politics-but-you-should-still-be-sickened-strong-language/

RT on House of Lord’s Opposition to £200 million Going to Syrian Opposition

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 22/10/2017 - 5:24am in

This clip from RT covers the opposition in the House of Lord’s debate over the British government spending £200 million of taxpayer’s money on the Syrian opposition groups. Only £14 million of this money was for ‘political purposes’. One member of the Lords asks the obvious question about what the rest of the money is for. A government spokesman replies that it is to help the Syrian people stand on their own feet, and that £39 million has gone towards roads and such. Another peer states that the British people would be outraged if they knew how much money was being spent in this way, and feels it would be better spent against fuel poverty in the UK.

Baroness Caroline Cox argued that we should not be sending this money to the Syrian opposition groups, as they are not moderate and will use the money to purchase arms that will be used against us. Interviewed by RT afterwards, she states that she has gone to Syria to see what the situation was really like there, where she met President Assad. She states that there was much opposition to her when she came back, as the government really didn’t want to go, arguing it was unsafe. But she felt she had to go after working with women and children, who had fled the war. She states that she certainly does not condone many of the things Assad has done, but she went to see what the Syrian people wanted.

Cox is quite right to object to this money being spent supporting the opposition groups. They are by no means moderate. They include al-Nusra, which used to be the Syrian branch of al-Qaeda, and ISIS. They aim to set up another hardline Islamist state. Syria at the moment, while not a democracy, is a secular state. If the opposition groups take over, they will begin exterminating Christians, Shi’a and moderate Sunni Muslims, and any other religious or secular group that they considered the enemies of Islam, just as they have done elsewhere in Iraq. The weapons they use will be passed on to other Islamist militants, who will use it against us.

The claim that this is to promote a genuinely democratic regime in Syria is a lie. The Likudniks and neocons have been pressing for regime change in Syria for a long time, not least because Assad is supported by Russia and Iran. They, and an alliance of various Arab countries, also want to topple Assad because he is blocking the construction of an oil pipeline which they would like to run from Qatar to Turkey. Assad has refused on the grounds that it would damage the oil interests of his Iranian and Russian allies.

We should not be funding the Syrian opposition. They represent only more sectarian violence and butchery. If they win, the country will destroyed, just like Iraq and Libya. But it will allow the oil multinationals to loot the country, just as they did in Iraq.

Telesur English on the Chaos Caused by the Death of Gaddafy

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 22/10/2017 - 1:54am in

This is another very short video from the South American broadcaster, Telesur English, about the destruction wreaked on Africa by the murder of Colonel Gaddafy. The video states that under the dictator, the country had free education and healthcare. It was also a racially tolerant society, and Gaddafy did much to help the other countries on the continent. The NATO bombings that assisted the rebels have destroyed much of the country, including the free education and healthcare. Islamist rebels have taken over large regions, and the country is in turmoil. The racial tolerance is gone, and weapons from Libya have travelled south, to be used by Islamist rebels making life miserable in other African nations.

This is all absolutely true, and I’ve said much of it before. But it’s interesting to see it repeated by Telesur. Gaddafy wasn’t perfect. He was a thug and a dictator. He also used Islamist terrorists to kill his political rivals elsewhere in Africa and the Middle East. But he gave his country prosperity after decades of bloody Italian colonial rule, secular government, albeit one that mixed Arab socialism with Islam and stability. And there is now a massive racist backlash against the Black Africans, who came to the country seeking a better life, or passage to Europe.

But he defied America and big oil, and so he was on the neocons list of countries to be invaded and leaders to be ousted. His country has been destroyed, Africa as a whole impoverished. And Hillary Clinton, now promoting herself as the great feminist heroine, had a jolly good giggle about his death.

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