Saudi Arabia

During Yemen’s Annual Martyr Week, Anti-American Sentiment Prevails

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 14/01/2020 - 8:23am in

SANA’A, SADAA, YEMEN — As the ongoing war and blockade against their country enters its sixth year, Yemenis are commemorating the annual Martyr Week amid an increasing feeling of hatred and resentment towards the United States, a feeling never seen at this level in the war-torn country.

In Yemen, a country far from the prosperous and bustling United States, the size of cemeteries has increased dramatically in the past five years, with new burial sites springing up to house victims of the weapons supplied by western countries, particularly by the United States, as well as the blockade, hunger, and disease that have accompanied them.

Ebtisam al-Harazi is just four-years-old, but as she stands atop her father’s grave amid a meadow of martyrs’ shrines, she knows who sleeps in the soil beneath her and the type of weapon that killed her father. “This my dad,” she says, as she kisses a colorful portrait of her father perched upon a coffin-shaped mound beyond a low stone wall.

Ebtisam’s father was killed by a Saudi warplane that delivered a U.S.-made bomb to the al-Sultan zone in the Old City of Yemen’s capital Sana’a in July of 2015. The attack killed and injured dozens of residents and caused tremendous damage to the city, built long before the United States even existed as a nation.

Fatemah, Ebtisam’s widowed mother, packed flowers to place at her husband’s memorial site, “It is the martyr’s anniversary. We come here to share old times with our loved ones,” she told MintPress. Their visit to the memorial has become a tradition since 2015 when the war against their home began.

This particular memorial sits in 50th district, in the middle of Sana’a, and is the resting place of more than 1,000 men, women, and children killed by the Saudi-led coalition along with countless bodies of fighters killed in clashes against coalition forces. The shrines are ensconced with ornamental flowers and small trees planted by visitors who have come to honor the deceased.

The annual feast of the Martyr Week, an important occasion marking the beginning of December, kicked off in Yemen last Wednesday. It has become, for Fatimah and other Yemenis, a somber occasion amid a suffocating blockade, the threat of epidemics, rubble, tears, and the fear of the may lie ahead.

For eight consecutive days, residents in northern Yemen commemorate those that have been killed by the Saudi-led coalition. Program include held exhibitions, public festivals, and meetings where victim’s families discuss how they cope with the war.

To keep the history of the martyrs alive, officials visit the families of victims to show sympathy. Food and gifts are distributed in abundance to orphans and widows and groups of officials visit graveyards housing victims of the war.  There are more than 480 such graveyards spread over several regions in Yemen according to Martyr’s Foundation in Sana’a.

At least 450 exhibitions have been opened in the country. Public streets, city walls, schools, and government buildings in all districts are flooded with millions of flyers and posters bearing the images of civilians and fighters alike that have fallen in the war. Faces stare down from billboards on every highway, and the radios play Zawamil — patriotic battle hymns — day and night. While national TV broadcasts songs that glorify their sacrifices and threaten revenge.

“The exhibition shows something terrible but inspiring. Through the exhibition, people will understand how cruel the Saudi-led Coalition war supported by the U.S. is, and they will also know how brave and strong Yemenis are,” 70-year-old Ali told MintPress as he sought out his son’s photo to show to a group of visitors. The photo of his son was in the midst of crowded collage of pictures hanging on the wall of the al-Janoub Martyrs exhibition in the 70th district south of Sana’a.

Yemen Martyr week

A Yemeni man pours water on the grave of his relative killed in Yemen’s ongoing conflict, during “martyr week” at a cemetery in Sanaa. Hani Mohammed | AP

In Sadaa, which lies in Yemen’s north near the Saudi border, dozens of exhibitions and memorials symbolize society’s deep gratitude towards the country’s war heroes and martyrs. The ancient city, among the world’s oldest human-carved landscapes, has been devastated since Saudi Arabia declared it a military zone. Inside the city’s exhibition, visitors flow in an organized way to see more than 11,0000 photos of the fighters, women and children who lost their lives in the war

In the exhibition hall, videos show rescuers recovering children from rubble, massive scenes of destruction, martyrs reading their commandments and asking survivors to remain steadfast against Saudi Arabia, and a svelte, meek-looking man stepping up to a lectern in Washington. “The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia launched military operations in Yemen,” he says. The man in the video was none other than Adel al-Jubeir, the Saudi ambassador to the United States. The clip showed the first time Saudi Arabia’s war against Yemen was officially announced, just hours after the first bombs were dropped on the city.

For most Yemenis, the Saudis’ choice of Washington as the place to announce the war had meaning. They saw it as a deliberate signaling of complicity between the United States and Saudi Arabia. Al-Jubeir emphasized in his speech that the Kingdom had consulted very closely and very intensely with the United States before launching its war.

In Dahyan, a city in the far northwestern stretches of Yemen, where a U.S. laser-guided bomb dropped by a Saudi Arabia struck a school bus on August 9, 2018, a large crater is still visible near a fruit-and-vegetable stand in the suq. A brick wall a few yards from the scene features  large hand-painted letters in both English and Arabic that proclaim, “America Kills Yemeni Children.”

More than 100,000 people have been killed in Yemen just since January 2016 according to a new report by the Armed Conflict and Location Event Data Project (ACLED), however, the number is likely to be closer to one million if deaths from epidemics, diseases, hunger and from fighters who have been killed from both the resistance and local mercenaries are taken into account.


“We hate nothing more”

Ebtisam’s father, who spoke English fluently with American accent, was a tour guide until 2014, he had a shop near Bab al-Yaman (The Gate of Yemen) in the Old City of Sana’a which sold the famed Yemeni agates, a metamorphosed and hardened version of quartz that has been renowned as a gemstone in southern Arabia since ancient times. In 2015, the shop was closed due to a series of attacks that hit the ancient city over with over 30 airstrikes.

According to his family, he was a jovial man with many friends from the United States and Britain. In the sitting room of their small home, three charming photos once hung on the wall. The photos showed Ebtisam’s father posing with his American friends. After he was killed, the family replaced the photos with portraits of the man they lost and banner adorned with the now-infamous slogan, “Death to America.”

“That was before the war. Yes, we had liked the United States, but now, there is nothing we hate more than this country,” said Fatimah. Regrettably, this is the prevailing mood in the north of Yemen. Most of the area’s residents are keen to express feelings of hatred towards the leaders of the United States. Phrases deriding the U.S. adorn everything; photos of victims, walls, clothes, coffee shops, car showrooms, and even shopping malls.

Yemen anti-American

Yemenis stand on a representation of the U.S flag during a protest against the U.S. assassination of Qassem Soleimani, in Sanaa, Yemen. Hani Mohammed | AP

Before the war began, the Yemeni community, especially in northern Yemen, was friendly and most people had favorable attitudes towards Americans. American tourists, businessmen and diplomats were a regular fixture in Yemen. In Sana’a, local residents warmly welcomed American visitors to their salons by pouring a glass of single-malt scotch or sharing food and fun times. But now, Sana’a is embracing “Death to America” as their slogan, scrawled as graffiti on the capital’s walls. Thanks, in large part, to U.S. policy in Yemen. 

Everything has changed as the hate against foreigners, particularly the leaders in the United States, has rapidly increased throughout Yemen because of western involvement in Saudi Arabia’s war or from the death of innocents killed by drones under the pretext of targeting al-Qaeda. Policies that predate the Trump administration.

Although Yemen has long suffered from instability, warring tribal factions and a long-standing al-Qaeda presence, foreigners including Americans, were welcomed in the country without restrictions on their movements. Now, they are seen with suspicion and are treated with caution for fear that they may be spies. Even aid workers are not immune.

“The slogan Death to America, as we see it, is not against the people of the United States but against the U.S.’ policies in our district,” a Houthi leader said as he gave a speech in front of a large audience at a Martyr Week exhibition. Most Yemenis differentiate between the Americans who support Saudi Arabia and those who reject the war. But to angry families who have lost loved ones in Saudi-coalition attacks, it can sometimes be difficult to differentiate.

The United States claims that it does not make targeting decisions for the Saudi Coalition. But it does support Coalition operations through training, arms sales, the refueling of Saudi combat aircraft, and the sharing of intelligence. Those arms sales include precision-guided missiles as well as precision guidance parts used on the warplanes blamed for civilians casualties in the Saudi-UAE’s military campaign in Yemen. 

Furthermore, as a result of the U.S. involvement in the war and the economic blockade against their country, Yemenis have been forced to reinforce their relationship with Iran, one of the only countries that has been consistently outspoken in its opposition to the war. Now, at the annual feasts of Martyr Week, photos of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, who were assassinated in a U.S. airstrike at Baghdad International Airport on in a January 3, are proudly displayed.

Ten of thousands of Yemenis staged a symbolic funeral ceremony in the country’s cities including in Hodeida, Sana’a and Sadaa to commemorate Soleimani and Muhandis, chanting that their blood is neither is Iranian or Iraqi, but rather belongs to all freedom-loving nations targeted by the United States.

Feature photo | A Yemeni man offers prayers at the grave of his relatives who were killed during Yemen’s ongoing conflict, during “martyr’s week” at a cemetery in Sana’a, Yemen. Hani Mohammed | AP

Ahmed AbdulKareem is a Yemeni journalist. He covers the war in Yemen for MintPress News as well as local Yemeni media.

The post During Yemen’s Annual Martyr Week, Anti-American Sentiment Prevails appeared first on MintPress News.

Why Saudi Arabia’s Bloody US-Backed War in Yemen Will Likely Escalate in 2020

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 04/01/2020 - 4:15am in

HODEIDA, YEMEN — For many around the world, there are reasons to be optimistic heading into 2020, but the reality on the ground is dashing Yemeni hopes that the new year will bring about an end to Saudi Arabia’s nearly five-year-long war on their country as Western support for oil-rich kingdom continues, particularly from the United States.

“No one is coming,” said 55 year-old Yasser, standing at the water’s edge on Hodeida’s port on the first morning of 2020, scanning the horizon for long-awaited ships. Yasser used to work at the port when he was young, “No one cares about us, nothing gives us a reason to be optimistic heading into 2020.”

Yasser, a father of eight, is one of nearly 3,400 workers in the port of Hodeida who have lost their livelihoods due to a Saudi-imposed blockade on the port that began in August 2015, when Saudi-coalition airstrikes destroyed the port’s cranes and warehouses, causing a humanitarian crisis for thousands of families in the province who head into 2020 with frustration and misery.

“We live under trying and undignified circumstances. We don’t have a home or a source of income. Conditions are unsettling and unbearable,” a fisherman who has been prevented from fishing by the presence of Saudi naval forces stationed in Yemen said. Conditions in Yemen are indeed becoming worse by the day, eroding whatever resilience people in major cities still have. Electricity and fuel shortages, food insecurity, skyrocketing unemployment rates and extreme water pollution have taken their toll.

This is Hodeida in 2020. Water, sanitation, and the health sector have all suffered substantially in the city from damage to infrastructure from thousands of airstrikes and from the ongoing blockade. As a result, epidemics including cholera still plague the city in what is the worst outbreak of the disease in recorded history. 

The coastal city is the subject of a UN-brokered international agreement signed in December of 2018 that was supposed to begin a process of bringing peace to Hodeida, but the agreement has been largely ignored by the Saudi-led coalition, which has pushed ahead with a brutal military campaign against the city’s residents. Hodeida, in many ways, is a bellwether for how the rest of Yemen’s will fare during the coming year.

Over a year after the UN-sponsored agreement was signed, Hodeida still remains the country’s most dangerous area. Three weeks ago, violence struck a new district in southern Hodeida where the city of Heys was subjected to airstrikes, mortar fire and shelling by the Saud funded Giants Brigade militia, killing and injuring dozens of civilians and creating a new wave of internally displaced people.

Despite warnings that the ongoing war against the city would plunge Yemen into a deeper humanitarian crisis, as around 70-80 percent of Yemen’s goods arrive through Hodeida’s port, the Saudi-led coalition boosted their military presence in southern Hodeida in early December, according to Houthi military officials. The fresh deployment likely indicates that fighting in the province will continue well into 2020.

Hodeida is already on the brink of a major health catastrophe amid the seizure of vessels carrying diesel fuel and petroleum by the Saudi-led alliance’s naval forces. Those vessels,  despite possessing the required paperwork, are left unable to reach Hodeida port to offload their consignments, leaving countless Yemenis without much-need fuel to power the generators that run hospitals and water treatment facilities. 

The Saudi blockade on what was already one of the poorest countries on earth has entailed tight control over all aspects of life in Yemen since 2015, severely restricting the movement of aid, as well as people. This lack of freedom of movement impacts Yemen’s right to enjoy the basic standards of human rights, including the right to seek medical treatment abroad.

Moreover, epidemics such as diphtheria, cholera, dengue fever and malaria, have swept Yemen in an unprecedented manner, making it difficult to confront them all at once. It is unlikely that Yemeni authorities will be able to handle the outbreaks in 2020, as years past have seen international organizations unable to provide the necessary medicine and medical supplies to combat them.

“As it [the war] enters its fifth year, Yemen now has the fastest growing outbreak of cholera ever recorded. Swine flu, rabies, diphtheria, and measles have also emerged in the country. Meanwhile, hundreds of Yemenis have died from the latest outbreak of the H1N1 flu and 1,600 others are suspected to have contracted the disease.” Mansour, a doctor working at City Hospital in Hodeida explained to MintPress. 

To make matters worse, Yemen is in the midst of the world’s worst famine. The UN has said that a record 22.2 million Yemenis are in dire need of food, including 8.4 million that are threatened immediately by severe hunger. According to the world body, Yemen is suffering from the most severe famine in over 100 years.

Yemen 2020 feature photo

A malnourished newborn lies in an incubator at Al-Sabeen hospital in Sanaa, Yemen, Nov. 23, 2019. Hani Mohammed | AP

This is Yemen in 2020. A dirty war and a brutal siege on a forgotten people subsisting in unlivable conditions. There is no life in this country, if one is able to dodge death by war or disease, they will die from the desperation borne of the misery of their life.

The United States, for its part, continues to neglect Yemen’s suffering, despite the United Nations calling it the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. This ignorance will likely only increase in 2020. According to many Yemeni civilians who spoke to MintPress, 2020 will not bring an end to their suffering as long as the United States continues supporting the Saudi-led coalition. Such continued support will make peace in Yemen impossible, they say, as Americans turn a blind eye to the Trump administration’s policies in the Middle East.

In 2019, the U.S. Congress approved a bill to suspend American backing for the Saudi-led coalition that would have halted U.S. support for the coalition’s war. Not long after, President Donald Trump vetoed the bill, despite efforts to make adjustments. Alas, if the 2020 Pentagon budget is any indication, the United States will not end its involvement in the war in Yemen as some Yemenis had hoped. Impunity from the United States, which enables the Saudi-led war with its vast military support, will almost certainly continue into the coming year.


Grim prospects for peace

Efforts to end the five-year-long war in Yemen seemed to have been gaining momentum last year but ultimately failed to bring peace to the war-torn country. However, several small steps were taken in 2019 to address the impasse between Yemen’s Houthi resistance and coalition countries led by Saudi Arabia. Those steps, which included the withdrawal of forces by the United Arab Emirates and a small number of prisoner releases, in reality, only addressed the tensions that arose immediately following the Houthi detention of three Saudi-coalition brigades in Najran in August and their attacks on Saudi oil facilities in September.

Fadhel Abbas Jahaf, a Yemen analyst based in Sanaa said, “During the last few years many have tried to portray peace efforts as positive. Yet this departs from the realities on the ground and reflects a lack of comprehension about the Saudi-led coalition’s strategic ambitions in the country.” Jahaf’s comments reflect the frustration of many Yemenis, whose hopes have been repeatedly dashed by one failed peace process after another. The Saudi-coalition’s political will for a peaceful resolution, most Yemenis feel, simply does not exist.

Though there are indirect talks between the Houthis and Saudi Arabia, few are holding out hope that they can bring an end to the bitter Yemeni war in 2020. Indeed, Riyadh seems to be pursuing a policy of shielding itself from the blowback of the war instead of seeking an end to the war itself, according to a high-ranking Houthi official.

Yemeni prisoners of war

Prisoners of war arrive at the Sanaa airport after being released by the Saudi-led coalition as part of a prisoner swap, Nov. 28, 2019. Hani Mohammed | AP

Negotiations between the two sides, even on minor issues, often reach a dead end. Numerous negotiations between the Houthis and Saudi Arabia have failed, including UN-brokered peace talks in Switzerland last year. Previous talks also broke down in 2016, when 108 days of negotiations in Kuwait failed to yield a deal. Separate talks that same year in Dhahran between the Houthis and Saudi Arabia also failed.

Saudi Arabia is bogged down in Yemen as it has failed to achieve any of its objectives in the devastating war it launched against its southern neighbor in 2015. Saudi leaders promised a decisive victory in a matter of weeks, one to two months at most. However, five years on, Saudi Arabia is drowning in Yemen.


A new year brings new tension

In recent months, mutual threats have between the coalition and the Houthi-allied Yemeni army have returned in the wake of Saudi attacks on a bustling market in Sadda in December that killed and injured at least 80 migrants and local residents. The attacks, according to Houthi officials, show that Saudi Arabia is not genuinely seeking peace.

For its part, the Houthi-allied Yemeni army resumed ballistic missiles attacks against Saudi Arabia, launching a ballistic missile at the leadership camp of Saudi Arabia’s Brigade 19 border guards in the southern Saudi city of Najran. That attack came in retaliation for a Saudi airstrike on the al-Raqou market in the Munabbih district in Yemen’s mountainous northwestern province of Sadaa. That attack killed 17 civilians, including 12 Ethiopian migrants in what was the third deadly assault on the same location in just over a month, according to the UN.

Moreover, the Houthis announced that they are fully prepared to strike nine strategic targets deep inside the territory of coalition countries, six of which are located in Saudi Arabia and the rest in the United Arab Emirates. “We believe that attacks on Saudi Arabia are the only hope to make 2020 different, stop the war and lift the blockade on our country,” Jahaf told MintPress.

Yemen 2020

A woman injured in a Saudi airstrike lies in a hospital bed in Sanaa, Yemen March 12, 2019. Khaled Abdullah | Reuters

Brigadier General Yahya Saree, the spokesman for Yemen’s Houthi-allied armed forces, announced that 2020 year would be the year of air defenses; and that Yemeni forces would work to develop their military industries and enhance their inventory of various types of deterrence capabilities.

 In the wake of Saree’s statement, Yemeni air defenses shot down four Saudi-led coalition military drones, including a Chinese-made Phantom Drone that was shot down while on a reconnaissance mission in al-Tina area of the Hayran district. The development came only hours after a Turkish-built Vestel Karayel drone was shot down with a precision missile. On Monday, a Saudi-led spy drone was shot down as it was flying over the Razih district of the country’s northwestern province of Saada. A drone was shot down in Hodeida western Yemen on the same day.

Even amid such obvious signs of escalation, the UN emergency relief chief claimed in December that Yemen’s war is showing promising signs of winding down in 2020. The UN has so far disregarded the deep-rooted motives and structural issues driving the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen. Even if new initiatives do occur in the coming year, they will not achieve much unless Yemenis are finally allowed to decide their own fate. Short of that, the war in Yemen will likely continue to escalate in 2020. More civilians will lose their lives, more people will become internally displaced, the spread of epidemics will continue unabated, more cities, hospitals, and schools will be destroyed, and millions of helpless families will be left with no means of sustenance.

Feature photo | Bodies covered in plastic lie on the ground amid the rubble of a building destroyed by Saudi-led airstrikes, that killed at least 60 people and wounding several dozen more, Sept. 1, 2019. Hani Mohammed | AP

Ahmed AbdulKareem is a Yemeni journalist. He covers the war in Yemen for MintPress News as well as local Yemeni media.

The post Why Saudi Arabia’s Bloody US-Backed War in Yemen Will Likely Escalate in 2020 appeared first on MintPress News.

Scapegoats for Jamal Khashoggi

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 29/12/2019 - 11:47am in

The hit squad that went about its deadly business with varying degrees of competence in Istanbul last year is set to be thinned. Five members of the group tasked with strangling and carving up the Saudi journalist and out-of-favour Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate on October 2, 2018 are now facing the generous justice…

The post Scapegoats for Jamal Khashoggi appeared first on The AIM Network.

Has Tory Victory Emboldened the Islamophobes?

Zelo Street yesterday posted an article that ‘Hatey’ Katie Hopkins has slithered out from under whatever stone she hides under, and endorsed the Tories. And in doing so made some clearly islamophobic and racist comments directed at the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, and Sayeeda Warsi.

Hopkins started off by gloating about the extent of Bozo’s majority. She tweeted

Boris majority on track to be bigger than Thatchers or Blair’s. Incredible turn from Labour to Tory in unthinkable seats like Redcar, jihadi-central-Stoke & Workington … Formally out of the EU in December … Nationalism is back in Britain. Time to put British people first.

Zelo Street points out that Thatcher had a majority of 140 in 1983 and Blair 180 in 1997, both of which were much larger than the Blonde Beast’s 80.

Ignoring the inconvenient fact that the Tories lost half their seats in Scotland, she declared that the ‘Ginger Dwarf from the North’ does not speak for all Scots. Which I’m sure she doesn’t, just as Bozo definitely doesn’t speak for all of Britain. But Sturgeon speaks for the majority of Scots.

As Zelo Street’s article showed, Hatey Katie then posted a meme saying ‘Safer to be in Syria’ and tweeted

We have taken back control of England from leftists & those who wish to see this country fail. Now it is time to take back our capital city. Time to Make London Great Again.

Which she then followed with

Now that nationalists are in control of England, we begin the fight back for London … It’s time to kick Sadiq Khan out of office.

She tried to make this not sound racist by including ‘love to my Indian family’, but the islamophobic and racist subtext is very clear.

She then tweeted at Sayeeda Warsi when she sent a message saying that her party must begin healing its relationship with Muslims

It’s our party now Warsi. Time you stepped down, love. Way down.

This was followed by

Your party? Hold on a minute sister. I think you will find it’s OUR party now. Britain has Boris and a blue collar army. Nationalism is back. British people first.

Zelo Street points out that Warsi is British, because she was born in Dewsbury. But Hopkins doesn’t mean that. Hopkins then went on to post a picture of a letter box, saying that this reminded her to post her Christmas cards. She then sent another tweet in the direction of Sadiq Khan, saying

Don’t think of it as a dark day darling. Think of it as a brilliant awakening. Britain is fighting back for its own.

As Zelo Street points out, the doesn’t consider Khan British either, because he isn’t white.

Tim concludes

‘Bozo’s victory has emboldened the racists. I’ll just leave that one there.’

Absolutely. Yesterday I found that a supporter of Tommy Robinson had posted a series of comments on this blog. One was objecting to my article about Mike Stuchbery suing Robinson for libel after Robinson and his storm troopers turned up at Stuchbery’s house banging on the windows and doors at all hours. In addition to demanding that Stuchbery come out to talk to them, they also accused him of being a paedophile. Stuchbery’s a teacher, and so this has made his job in England very difficult and he’s moved to Germany. But Robinson’s supporters see their leader as absolutely innocent of all wrongdoing, and claim that Stuchbery had doxed Robinson by putting up pictures of his house. Which I don’t believe Stuchbery did.

They also gloated about the extent of the Tory victory, and accused Corbyn of supporting Islamist terrorists like Hamas and Hezbollah, and the IRA over here. Which he doesn’t. They also posted this comment

Oh, and if you think Islam is so wonderful, I suggest you move to Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, or Iran then you can see what life is really like under Sharia Law.

They’re talking to the wrong person here. I’m not a Muslim, but I studied Islam as part of a minor degree in Religious Studies when I was at College in the 1970s. This was during the Satanic Verses controversy, and I am very well aware of the bigotry in certain sections of British Islam, and the problems confronting the Islamic world. These are social, political and economic stagnation, an absence and in some cases complete rejection of democratic government and modern human rights, corruption and religious intolerance. However, none of these are unique to Islam. As I’ve pointed out, Christianity and the West passed through similar crises in the 19th and 20th centuries, and I’ve read works by a French anthropologist arguing that Islamism is the result of a similar crisis in Islam as it grapples with modernity. As reader of this blog will be aware, I also call out and denounce Islamist bigotry as well as other forms of racism, including islamophobia.

Some of the problems facing the Islamic world have been greatly exacerbated by outside, western interference. Saudi Arabia has gained its powerful position in the Middle East through support by the West, who have used it as a bulwark against secular Arab nationalism in the Middle East. The rise of Islamism in Algeria was partly encouraged by the country’s politically Conservative regime. They saw it as a peaceful alternative to the radical socialism preached by intellectuals with a French education. And there are movement for greater political freedom and feminism within the Islamic world.

Also, just ’cause Muslim countries are a mess doesn’t mean that Muslims over here want to turn Britain into an Islamic state or import some of the elements of Islamic politics that have held these countries back. Yes, you can find the intolerant bigots ranting against Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism and so on, and there are those, who would like to turn Britain into an Islamic state. But I’ve also seen them challenged by other British Muslims. There have been demonstrations against bigots like Kalam Sadeequi and the rest. And when Akhthar and his crew were burning copies of the Satanic Verses in Bradford, one of the Islam lecturers from my old College went up there to argue with them, quoting chapter and verse from the Qu’ran why this was wrong. And attempts to launch Islamist parties over here have hardly been impressive. I remember back in the 1980s or early ’90s there was a British Islamic party launched. But it seems to have vanished without trace. If it was Hizb ut Tahrir, then this may have been because it was banned as a terrorist organisation. I’m sure you can find some far left morons, who support it and feel it should be given a voice, but they are very few and far between, despite the Islamophobic propaganda. And Hizb ut Tahrir and groups like it, from what I’ve seen, have never commanded a mass membership.

The wider Muslim community in this country thus should not be accused of terrorism or terrorist sympathies, based on the actions of the Islamist radicals. Nor should they be seen as somehow less British than anyone else in the UK.

Taken with Hopkins’ tweets attacking praising the Tories and attacking Warsi and Sadiq Khan for being Muslims, these comments do seem quite ominous. It reinforces Zelo Street’s conclusion that the Tory victory has emboldened the racist right. After Johnson published his noxious comments about Muslim women in burqas, there was an increase in Islamophobic attacks. And certainly racist incidents have been on the rise since the emergence of UKIP and the Brexit party. Brexit does seem to have encouraged racist Whites to believe that they can get away with the abuse and assault of ethnic minorities. I might be wrong – I hope I am – but I won’t be surprise if we can expect a further increase in racist incidents.

The Conservatives have always played on racism, and Johnson’s victory is going to make this worse. 

Regional Inferno, by Amin Saikal

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 13/12/2019 - 2:34pm in

The Middle East is on the boil more than could have been expected a decade ago. It has been transformed into a zone of conflicts within conflicts, which have bedevilled the region from Afghanistan to Syria to Palestine to Yemen to Libya. It has gained the notorious reputation of being the most unstable, turbulent and insecure region of the world. Authoritarianism, violent extremism, human rights violations, social and economic disparities, shifting alliances and loyalties and foreign interventionism have come together to make the region highly explosive. Some might say ‘What’s new?’, as the region has always been on a dangerous edge. That may be so, but not to the same extent as it has been since the formation of the modern Middle East by colonial powers in the wake of the Second World War. The region is badly in need of structural reforms at the national level, meaningful cooperation at the regional level and deeper understanding of its complexities by outside powers at the international level.

Against the backdrop of the long-running Israeli-Palestinian conflict, whereby Israel’s continued occupation of Palestinian lands and repressive treatment of the Palestinian people have become a perpetual source of anxiety in world politics, the 2001 and 2003 US-led invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, respectively, were touted as enhancing the conditions for regional stability and security. Yet this was not to be the case. Not only have the Afghan and Iraqi tragedies become daunting for both the interventionists and their subjects but also more conflicts, iron-fisted rule, violent extremism, public unrest, and power struggles fuelled by major powers, national authorities and non-state actors have become a dominant feature of the Middle Eastern landscape.

The Afghan and Iraqi fiascos, emanating largely from an interactive relationship between the socially difficult and politically mosaic nature of the two countries and the United States’ inability to deliver peace, have placed the two states in the grip of long-term structural instability. Whereas the Afghan war has gone on for nineteen years with increasing violence and insecurity, which has prompted President Trump to seek an (as yet unsuccessful) political settlement of the conflict as central to a US exit strategy, the Iraqi situation has not fared any better. Although the United States pulled out of Iraq at the end of 2011, it left behind a broken country. The continued Iraqi turmoil in combination with the bloody conflict in neighbouring Syria dramatically altered the dynamics in the Levant. In Syria the so-called Arab Spring or popular uprisings, which commenced in Tunisia in late 2010, triggered a mass uprising against the Iranian-backed authoritarian regime of Bashar al-Assad. Instead of reaching a negotiated settlement with the opposition, the regime decided to crush the uprising. These factors enormously helped provide the necessary conditions for two important developments.

One was the rise of the so-called Sunni extremist Islamic State (IS). The other was the return of the United States as the head of a military coalition to combat IS, which succeeded in declaring a territorial Islamic state (khilafat) over one third of Iraq and Syria in mid-2014. IS’s religious extremism and politics of brutality were opposed not only by the United States and its allies but also by the Muslim world and the wider global community. However, the United States and its allies could not exclusively claim victory for folding back IS territorially by early 2019. Another coalition that played a more formidable role in the process was led by Russia, in league with the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Iranian-backed Lebanese Hezbollah, in support of the Assad regime. This meant that two international coalitions, one opposing the Assad regime and the other backing the regime, deployed forces against IS as a common enemy. The US-led coalition also focused heavily on fighting IS in Iraq, where the United States, as in the case of Syria, made common cause with its regional foe, Iran. The latter vehemently opposed IS’s anti-Shia and anti-Iran stand. Although neither Washington nor Tehran ever acknowledged publicly that they were complementing one another against IS, a change of alignment and loyalty has never ceased to be a common occurrence in the troubled Middle East. It depends on who serves whose current geopolitical purpose.

Under the neo-nationalist and impulsive Trump this occurrence has become more common. While adopting a policy of exerting maximum pressure on Iran by cancelling the multilateral July 2014 Iran nuclear agreement—officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)—and imposing harsh sanctions on the country, Trump has eased US opposition to the Assad regime. He has let Russia, Iran and Turkey (the latter is a NATO ally, but opposed to the Assad regime and yet tilts towards Russia and Iran because it has been disillusioned with its NATO partners) occupy the driver’s seat in determining the future of Syria. He recently ordered the withdrawal of 2000 US troops from Syria by claiming victory over IS. In the process, he also dropped US support for its most trusted ally in the Levant, the Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), who had fought IS valiantly alongside US personnel in Syria.

However, after his action met condemnation from both sides of the US Congress and from his European allies, Trump back-pedalled to some extent by redeploying some of the troops, under the pretence of protecting the largely non-productive Syrian oil fields in the north, and warned Turkey against attacking the SDF. Ankara regards the SDF, or more specifically its People’s Protection Units (YPG), as a terrorist organisation and an extension of the Kurdish Workers Party (PKK), which has been fighting for the independence of Turkey’s substantial Kurdish minorities over the last four decades, at a very high human cost. While ignoring Trump’s warning, Ankara negotiated with Moscow as the main force in Syria to achieve its objective of pushing the SDF back by 10 kilometres from a strip along its border—a strip where Russian forces have taken over abandoned US bases and engaged in joint patrolling with Turkish forces. In all, the United States’ Syrian policy has featured as much chaos as its handling of Iraq. Today, Russia and Iran call the shots in Syria. This, together with Iran’s having secured a formidable degree of sectarian and geopolitical influence in Iraq, places the entire Levant from Iraq to Lebanon under the Russo-Iranian axis, at the cost of the United States’ traditionally dominant role in the region and Israel’s growing security discomfort.

Meanwhile, Trump has provided unqualified support for Israel and Saudi Arabia and the latter’s allies within the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) as the main regional front against Iran, and augmented US-force deployment in the Gulf. He has rejected a passionate appeal from Congress to pressure Riyadh over the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul in October 2018 and to retrench US backing for the Saudi-led Arab coalition against Iran-affiliated Houthi rebels in Yemen, where the coalition’s operations have caused massive human misery and physical destruction.

Concurrently, while backing away from any kind of support for democratic reforms, the Trump administration has lately acted unconstructively in relation to the Libyan conflict, which commenced with the overthrow of the country’s dictator, Muammar al-Qaddafi, in 2011 as a result of a popular uprising and NATO’s intervention. The Libyan crisis has taken a severe toll on its population and economy, and the fate of the country has fallen into the hands of several warring groups. A UN-backed Government of National Accord has materialised in Tripoli, backed by Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Russia. However, its position is challenged by the Libyan National Army, led by veteran field marshal Khalifa Haftar, and Trump has voiced his support for him, which can only prolong the Libyan tragedy.

Against this backdrop, not only does the Middle East remain riddled with conflicts, violence and insecurity but also its demographic composition has changed significantly in favour of younger generations, whose frustrations over appalling conditions in many of the constituent states have led them to engage in mass protests. Lately there have been cross-sectarian and cross-ethnic popular demonstrations in Iraq, Lebanon, Algeria and Sudan in pursuit of good and clean governance, democratic rights and freedoms, and better living conditions. Of all these states, the Sudanese have managed to take the initial steps towards a transition to a kind of democracy, though with considerable sacrifices on the part of those who have demanded it. Otherwise, the struggle between the authorities and the popular opposition in other concerned states has taken a steady course with no relief in sight. This has led some analysts to predict a second Arab Spring.

Yet, the forces of status quo that stifled the objectives of the first pro-democracy Arab Spring that resulted in the toppling of such dictators as Tunisia’s Ben Ali, Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak, Libya’s Qaddafi and Yemen’s Ali Abdullah Saleh, and fuelled the Syrian uprising are still in full force in the region. Of all the countries that experienced the Arab Spring, only Tunisia has assumed a democratic trajectory; the others have either gone back to authoritarian rule, as is the case with Egypt, or are drowning in perpetual conflicts. The status-quo forces are led by two rival actors: Saudi Arabia on one side and Iran on the other. Despite recently having loosened up socially to some extent under the young de facto leader Mohammad bin Salman, Saudi Arabia is not about to move down the path of democratic political reforms. Similarly, Iran cannot be expected to transition from a politically pluralist theocracy with a network of supporting sectarian groups across the Levant and Yemen to a liberalist posture any time soon. The two Gulf powers are locked in serious geopolitical-sectarian rivalry, but neither is willing to see any sea change in the region. Both want to see the region altering in their favour, but not in any direction that could undermine their current domestic and regional settings.

At the same time, the public’s demand for structural change in many of the countries in the region is growing louder by the day. If the authorities fail to address popular concerns whose expression has already cost many lives, the Middle East remains ripe for more instability, violence and insecurity. It is these kinds of conditions that also provide the space for extremist groups, whether in the name of religion or other creeds, to become active. The two main extremist groups—al Qaeda and IS—that emerged in the conflict zones are still alive and kicking. They have franchised and extended their networks wherever they have found a power vacuum within an arena of conflict. In spite of the US claim of success against them, the two groups can be expected to maintain and possibly widen their operational capability as the old conflicts continue and new ones surface in the Middle East as an arena of frenemies.

The outlook for the Middle East does not appear bright. Most of the conditions that have given rise to conflicts, extremism, public protests, insecurity and tensions have not been addressed. US-Iranian enmity, Iranian-Saudi rivalry and Iranian-Israeli hostility, proxy conflicts, and challenges by non-state actors—Islamic or otherwise—are set to be the major components of instability and insecurity across the Middle East in the coming years. The variable that could dramatically change the situation is a possible military confrontation between Iran and the United States or Iran and Israel or both at the same time. Such a scenario is conceivable only if a beleaguered Trump decides, under the pressure of impeachment, to go for a foreign-policy diversion. Otherwise, all parties are fully aware that a war could be very costly for them and could easily trigger a regional inferno that no one could control. Recognition of this fact undermines the reason for a war but does not free the region from being a source of boiling discomfort for its inhabitants and the international community. To shift the Middle East towards a paradigm of stability there is an urgent need for structural reform at the national level, regional cooperation, and world powers’ constructive engagement in pursuit of both. This may not come soon enough for the suffering people of the region.

Yemenis Know Firsthand the Extremist Underpinnings of the Pensacola Shooter

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 11/12/2019 - 6:37am in

SANA’A, YEMEN — The attack on U.S. Naval base in Florida exemplifies the harsh reality of life in Yemen where Saudi pilots routinely kill “nonbelievers” according to an extremist Salafi ideology that serves as the central building block of the Saudi government, and by extension, the Saudi military.

With a cracked skull, a ruptured intestine and severed foot, 35-year-old Meshal Ali Saeed, a Yemeni father, died in a shabby Sadaa hospital on Sunday. His injuries were caused by a bomb dropped by a Saudi pilot in a crowded residential area in the district of Shada in Sadaa province near Yemen’s border with Saudi Arabia, where Meshel, a farmer, lived. Meshel was one of the dozens killed immediately or wounded in the attack, the latest casualties of the Saudi Air Force in the Arab world’s poorest country. 

Mohammed Alshamrani, a 21-year-old second lieutenant in the Saudi Air Force called the United States a “nation of evil” before carrying out a mass shooting at a U.S. Navy base in Florida, killing three people, including a Yemeni-American trainee, and injuring eight more before being shot dead by police.

The shooting incident at a naval base in Florida has sparked angry reactions amid Yemenis who have asked the United States to reconsider supplying U.S.-made bombs, warplanes, and training programs to Saudi Arabia. The United States, they said, is now drinking from the same glass that thousands of Yemenis have been drinking since 2015 when the war on Yemen began.

32-year-old Shrog Khalid, whose daughter was killed when a Saudi pilot dropped a U.S.-manufactured and supplied bomb on their family home in al-Jeraf district in Sana’a in 2015, said, “as the tragedy reaches American families, we hope their country will feel our suffering caused by their weapons and Saudi pilots trained in U.S. bases.” Shrog still has fractures in one of her legs from the bombing.

According to a recent report by the Intisaf Organization for Women and Children Rights, Saudi pilots, along with their coalition partners, have killed and wounded at least 7,500 children in over 1,700 days, leaving more than 800 children disabled and 8,000 others suffering from multiple types of psychological and neurological conditions according to Yusef al-Hadhari, a spokesman for Yemen’s Ministry of Health.

Amnesty International warned in a recent report titled, “Yemen: War and exclusion leave millions of people with disabilities in the lurch,” of the increasingly dire situation faced by the millions of people living with disabilities in Yemen. The report called on the international community to address the suffering of at least 4.5 million disabled Yemenis amid the bloody Saudi-led war.

Yemen’s Ministry of Health says that around three million children under the age of five are also suffering from malnutrition, 400,000 of whom are suffering from severe malnutrition and are at risk of death every ten minutes if they do not receive appropriate medical care. Health Ministry spokesman al-Hadhari also said that the closure of the Sana’a International Airport has prevented approximately 320,000 Yemenis from traveling abroad to receive medical treatment, resulting in 42,000 people losing their lives, 13 percent of whom were children.

Fares, a recent graduate who lost his entire family in a Saudi attack, hoped that the attack on the U.S. Navy base in Florida would serve as a wake-up call for Americans, spurring them to cease their ongoing support for Saudi Arabia. Mohammad Ali, who was wounded during a Saudi attack on a funeral in Sanaa, described the attack as justified revenge for the thousands of Yemenis who were killed by Saudi pilots trained at the base.

Members of Saudi Arabian's Marine Corps meet with Cpl. Robert Loeffler, the assistance maintenance chief at Marine Corps Training Center in Tampa, Fla., Dec. 5, 2014. Ian Ferro | U.S. Marine Corps

Saudi military members meet with Cpl Robert Loeffler at a US Marine Corps Training Center in Tampa, Fla., Dec. 5, 2014. Ian Ferro | U.S. Marine Corps

According to the family of Meshal Ali Saeed, Meshal was a victim of American training programs that provide Saudi pilots the skills and ability to carry out deadly attacks. Many of Yemen’s civilians who spoke to MintPress expressed concern over  U.S. training programs for members of Saudi-led Coalition, which they say gives extremists the ability to kill their children.

The Pensacola Naval Air Station, an early training center for naval pilots from a myriad of U.S.-allied countries, is known colloquially as the “cradle of naval aviation.” It is the crown of the U.S. Navy’s foreign military training program, established in 1985 specifically for Saudi students before being expanded to other nationalities.  

There are 852 Saudi nationals receiving training in the United States’ under the Pentagon’s security cooperation agreement with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Most, if not all, of the Saudi pilots who fly a variety of warplanes, including F-15 fighters and C-130 cargo aircraft over only the Yemeni sky, strike civilian targets including schools, hospitals, markets and infrastructure, are trained in the United States.

Over the course of the nearly five-year-long war in Yemen, Saudi pilots, along with their coalition partners, have launched 250,000 airstrikes, dropped half a million bombs and missiles — including  6,000 a phosphorous and cluster bomb — on Yemen according to the Yemeni army. The vast majority of those strikes were on civilian targets.


Extremist underpinnings

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman telephoned U.S. President Donald Trump to denounce the shooting, claiming that “the perpetrator of this heinous crime does not represent the Saudi people,” according to the official Saudi Press Agency. According to officials, Saudi Air Force officers undergoing military training in the U.S. were intensely vetted, hand-picked, and often came from elite families in the Kingdom.

Although Saudi Arabia has sought to distance itself from the incident of the Naval Air Station in Pensacola and from hundreds of deadly attacks against civilians in Yemen, the Saudi government has continued its support for hate speech espoused by clerics who preach the extremist iteration of Islam known as Salafism which originated in the Kingdom. Salafi doctrine preaches hate against religious minorities, the United States and anyone disloyal to the Saudi royal family. It is the same ideology practiced by ISIS, al-Qaeda and other extremist groups. 

Despite its outward-facing diplomatic charm offensive, Saudi officials have so far done little to curb the use of textbooks and a public education system that preaches Salafist doctrine. This despite that fact this it is the source of hateful propaganda and for the radical causes that help indoctrinate Saudi military members who view other faiths as an abomination. Like the Saudis who were involved in the September 11, 2001 attacks, Saudi military members are brought up in a country rife with extremism supported by both the royal family and Kingdom’s religious institutions. It is precisely that same ideology that was espoused by Pensacola shooter Mohammed Alshamrani.

Mohammed Alshamrani ID card

The US gov’t issues ID card of Pensacola shooter Mohammed Alshamrani

In Yemen, Saudi forces target civilians based on ideological underpinnings, a fact morbidly demonstrated by the large number of civilian casualties in the country. According to the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED), more than 100,000 people have been killed in Yemen since March 2015.

Saudi troops captured while fighting in Yemen recounted how they were told by Saudi princes and Imams alike that the (Saudi) King Salman Bin Abdulaziz brought them there to defend the Prophet Muhammad and his companions. They will die on the path of God and go to heaven, they were told repeatedly. Yemenis, whether soldier or civilian, are all Rafidah (infidels).


A willing accomplice

Many Yemenis describe Donald Trump as an accomplice to Saudi Arabia. A hypocrite who justifies crime after crime of his Saudi allies. After all, the Saudi pilots that pulverize Yemeni people in markets, wedding parties, hospitals, roads, and schools are trained in the United States and use American weapons. 

In the wake of the Pensacola attack, Trump said just moments after being briefed on the situation that Saudi King “Salman said that the Saudi people are greatly angered by the barbaric actions of the shooter and that this person in no way shape or form represents the feelings of the Saudi people who love the American people.”

Trump, known for his quick-handed responses to terrorist attacks around the world, didn’t label the Saudi gunman a terrorist, as he usually does following such attacks. Instead, he assured Americans of Riyadh’s position before the result of any investigation into the attack had even been released.

Feature photo | Saudi soldiers parade during a concert titled “mettle to the top” at the green hall theatre marking Saudi 89th National Day celebrations in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Sept. 21, 2019. Amr Nabil | AP

Ahmed AbdulKareem is a Yemeni journalist. He covers the war in Yemen for MintPress News as well as local Yemeni media.

The post Yemenis Know Firsthand the Extremist Underpinnings of the Pensacola Shooter appeared first on MintPress News.

Corbyn Demands Change to Foreign Policy to Stop Fuelling Terror

This is another story from yesterday’s I that I’ve no doubt is going to alarm some people in certain places. Corbyn has said that it is ‘time to end bad foreign policy fuelling terror’, according to the headline of an article by Will worley.

The article runs

Successive governments have too often fuelled, rather than reduced, the threat of terrorism-with UK leaders having made the wrong calls on security for “far too long “, Jeremy Corbyn said.

Speaking in Yorkshire, the Labour leader said the war on terror has “manifestly failed”, adding that security requires “calmly making the right calls at moments of high pressure”.

Mr Corbyn accused Boris Johnson of being “the world’s leading sycophant” towards Donald Trump.

Mr Corbyn said he warned against the invasion of Iraq. “I said it would set off a spiral of conflict, hate, misery that will fuel the wars, the conflict, the terrorism, and the misery of future generations. It did and we are still living with the consequences.”

He’s right, and the 1-2 million people who marched against the Iraq invasion also knew it. I’ve read again and again on left-wing news and comments sites that studies have shown that what motivates Islamist terrorists isn’t some kind of jealous resentment of western freedoms or the western way of life – though I don’t doubt that this is a factor for many terrorist atrocities – but anger at western foreign policy. The Iraq Invasion had nothing to do with stopping al-Qaeda. It was a cynical ploy by the American military-industrial complex to overthrow Saddam Hussein and seize his country, and particularly its oil reserves and state enterprises. The Iraqi oil industry is now firmly in foreign hands, and likely to remain so: it’s been written into the country’s constitution. It has also been part of a wider neocon strategy of overthrowing seven different states in the region. These include Libya, Somalia, Syria and Iran. It’s also been suggested, citing documents written by various members of Bush’s cabinet and his advisers, that it’s also part of an American strategy of showing the world where the real military power lies. In the terms of the people who wrote this document, that meant picking up a country every once in a while and shaking. The American military manufactured a foreign policy crisis in order to use it as the pretext for a show of force in order to impress other nations not to buck their global authority and interests. Bush keenly denied that the invasions and wars in the Middle East are against Islam – which is true, as they’ve also been allied to Saudi foreign policy goals of also seizing other nations’ oil wealth and fighting and destroying rival Shi’a and secular Muslim and Middle Eastern states. But nevertheless, this how many Muslims see it, and especially after the flagrant islamophobia spewed by Johnson and the Tories, and their press.

It’s nearly 20 years since 9/11 and British forces are still fighting in Afghanistan, if not Iraq. Instead of pacifying the region, they’ve exacerbated it immensely. And if the neocons have their way, there may be more to come, as they’d dearly love to invade Iran. Which would have exactly the same consequences as the Iraq invasion, if not worse.

Corbyn’s words won’t be welcome to the neocons and certainly not to the Israelis, who are also profiting and seeking to foment wars with some of the Muslim states around them, like Iran. But they’re exactly right. The old foreign policy isn’t working. Perhaps, as John Lennon sang so long ago about the Vietnam War, it’s time we gave ‘peace a chance’.

Michael Brooks Applauds Labour’s Election Video

Michael Brooks is the titular presenter of an American left-wing internet news and comment show. He’s also a co-presenter with Sam Seder on the latter’s Majority Report. In this video, Brooks looks at and gives his approval to Labour’s election video.

Before going into the video, Brooks says that he thinks the election video is fantastic, that the initial polls look good and that Labour’s Brexit strategy is pretty smart. It’s smart from a tactical perspective of dealing with the competing demands from within their own party. He says of the Liberal Democrats that they are ‘utterly exposed’. They had an opportunity to form a government purely on the basis of making sure there wasn’t a no-deal Brexit. They rejected it because they care infinitely more about corporations and austerity and right-wing economic policies than stopping Brexit.  Brooks then attacks the Tories, stating that Boris Johnson is the UK’s own contribution to the global embarrassment list – Trump, Netanyahu, Duterte and so on. Of Labour’s video, he says that he watched a conversation earlier that day between Alistair Campbell and John McDonnell, Corbyn’s no. 2.  Brooks says that they’re really good politicians, because they’re putting so much on the table from the perspective of healthcare, workers’ cooperatives for a 21st century democracy, ‘that it’s not an opportunity to pass up.’ The video also shows they’re taking the campaign seriously, strategically and ‘presentationally’.  They then show the video.

Labour’s election video begins with Corbyn’s election as head of the Labour party in 2015. It then moves through his career, and shows how he has forced the Tories to backtrack on some of their horrendous policies, while seeing off Prime Ministers David Cameron and Tweezer. In front of the relevant scenes are the following captions, beginning with Corbyn’s election. Corbyn’s shown saying ‘Poverty isn’t inevitable, things can and they will change. And they already have, says another caption. Tweezer is shown walking on, and then walking off backwards with the caption ‘Tories forced to backtrack on’ – dementia tax, winter fuel cuts, fox hunting ban, – ‘and many more’. A list of other policies blocked rolls up the screen too fast to catch, but they include grammar schools, police funding cuts, diesel tax, solar panel tax, tampon tax, Brexit deal vote, National Insurance, Brexit impact reports, Saudi prison contracts, Sunday trading hours,  and triple lock on pensions.

There’s then footage of a reporter stating that polls show the Tories on 48 per cent, and Labour half that. Which is followed by John Snow saying ‘We, the media, the pundits, know nothing’. The captions then states that Labour had the biggest campaign growth since polling began. And that Corbyn bid farewell to two prime ministers, showing Tweezer and Cameron. It says he defeated May’s Brexit deal once, twice and then three times. He blocked Johnson’s disastrous no-deal Brexit. It then shows footage from the Labour conference of Corbyn saying that the party ‘will commit to unleash the biggest people-powered campaign we’ve ever seen in this country and in this movement.’ A caption then appears and says ‘To totally transform our society from grass roots upwards. To radically change our rigged economy so that it works for everyone.’ At this point there’s an image of Johnson meeting various people and Rees Mogg lounging on a Commons’ bench. The caption goes on ‘To urgently respond to the climate crisis with our green industrial revolution. To get Brexit sorted by giving the people the final say.’ It goes back to Corbyn against, who says, ‘We achieve all of these things by being a party and a movement totally and absolutely united to our common cause and purpose.’

The captions then appearing, saying ‘This is our chance, once in a generation  to rebuilt Britain and put wealth and power in the hands of the many not the few. It’s time for real change’. And there it finishes with the Labour Party logo.

Brooks remarks, ‘That’s a good ad. They’re on point. I would really recommend if you’re in the UK you do absolutely everything you can for Labour. I’m incredibly excited to see what they put forward.’ He and the crew then discuss which date the election is on, before concluding that it’s the twelfth December. Brooks ends that section of the video by saying that he thinks it’s fantastic they have such a short election cycle.

The reason why the election cycle is so short, is because all the Tory governments have collapsed ever since Cameron’s wretched decision to call the Brexit referendum.

I think it’s brilliant that Michael Brooks thinks the video is so great, and gives his unqualified support for Labour. Brooks and Seder are both supporters of Bernie Sanders and his campaign to bring about the radical change America needs to empower its ordinary working people, and give them jobs and prosperity instead of more neoliberal lies, poverty and despair from the Republicans and corporatist Democrats. And what America most desperately needs is medicare for all. It’s a disgrace that a massive economic and geopolitical giant like America does not provide properly funded medicine to all of its people. The claims by the Republicans and right-wing Democrats like Hillary Clinton that the country can’t afford to is a flat-out lie. Bernie’s serious about correcting this glaring injustice in American healthcare, just as Corbyn’s determined to revive and regenerate our National Health Service.

We need and deserve Corbyn to win over here, and Bernie to win in America. And then we can make a better world by destroying four decades of Thatcherism and Reaganomics.

Who Funds Terror Inc?

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 16/11/2019 - 5:02pm in

When we see terror groups mobilizing, there is often that jarring moment when we all wonder how is it possible with all the global military might terrorism can still prosper?

The post Who Funds Terror Inc? appeared first on Renegade Inc.

17th Century Quaker Statement of Right to Freedom of Religion

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 30/10/2019 - 11:04pm in

I found this Quaker declaration of the freedom of religion in Documents of the Christian Church, selected and edited by Henry Bettenson, 2nd edition (Oxford: OUP 1963). It’s taken from The Chief Principles of the Christian Religion, as professed by the people called the Quakers, drawn up by Robert Barclay in 1678, and published in his Apology for the Quakers. Proposition XIV, Concerning the Power of the  Civil Magistrate in Matters purely Religious and Pertaining to Conscience, runs

‘Since God hath assumed to himself the power and dominion of the conscience, who alone can rightly instruct and govern it, therefore it is not lawful for any whatsoever, by virtue of any authority or principality they bear in the government of this world, to force the conscience of others;… provided always, that no man, under the pretence of conscience, prejudice his neighbour in his life or estate; or do anything destructive to, or inconsistent with, human society; in which case the law is for the transgressor, and justice to be administered upon all, without respect of persons.’

(p. 256).

It’s almost incredible to think that this was written in the 17th century, and that nearly 3 1/2 centuries later there are still countries in this world that don’t recognise it. Countries like Saudi Arabia, North Korea, China and Russia. In Saudi Arabia only Wahhabi Islam is permitted, and Shi’a Muslims viciously persecuted. A few years ago they also passed a law declaring that atheism was terrorism even without any violence or threats of violence being made. Russia is far more tolerant of religion than it was under Communism, when it was a persecuting atheist state. But even now, some religions are declared to be illegal. This includes not only extremist sects and beliefs, like Islamism, but also the Jehovah’s Witnesses. I admit they can be a pain when they come knocking on your door sometimes in their zeal to spread their version of Christianity, but a dangerous, radical extremist group? When, and to whom? The Nazis also persecuted them, because they wouldn’t accept Hitler as a secular Messiah.

It’s a disgrace that in the 21st century, freedom of religion and conscience still needs defending from persecutors across the world.