Syria

Crimes of the century – truth, perception and punishment

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 19/01/2020 - 3:00pm in

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Syria

Kevin Smith “You didn’t think that one through, did you, @eliothiggins sweetie? You’re not in the ladies’ lingerie trade now. This discussion is about truth, which endures, is not held together by elastic, and is not for sale.” Peter Hitchens responding to Eliot Higgins of Bellingcat over the OPCW scandal on Twitter – 2 January …

World War III

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 13/01/2020 - 11:18pm in

So, 2020 is off to an exciting start. It’s barely the middle of January, and we’ve already made it through World War III, which was slightly less apocalyptic than expected. Forensic teams are still sifting through the ashes, but preliminary reports suggest that the global capitalist empire has emerged from the carnage largely intact.

It started in the Middle East, of course, when Donald Trump (a “Russian-asset”) ordered the murder of Iranian general Qasem Soleimani outside the Baghdad Airport, presumably after clearing it with Putin, which, given Iran and Russia’s relationship, doesn’t really make much sense.

But whatever. According to the U.S. government and the corporate media, Soleimani was a “terrorist,” who had been working with Assad (another “terrorist”) to destroy ISIS (who are also “terrorists”) and elements of Al-Qaeda (who used to be “terrorists”) with the support of the Russians (who are kind of “terrorists”) and doing all sorts of other unspecified but allegedly imminent “terrorist” things.

Apparently, Soleimani had flown to Baghdad on a secret commercial “terrorist” flight and was on his way to some kind of covert “terrorist” diplomatic meeting to respond to a de-escalation proposal from Saudi Arabia (who are definitely not “terrorists”) when the U.S. military preventatively murdered him with a General Atomics Aeronautical Systems MQ-9B Reaper drone.

Iran (officially a “terrorist” country since January 1979, when they overthrew the brutal Western puppet that the CIA and MI6 had installed as their “Shah” in 1953, after they regime-changed the Iranian prime minister, after he nationalized the Anglo-Persian Oil Company, later to be known as British Petroleum) reacted to the preventative murder of their “terrorist” general like a bunch of “terrorists.”

The Ayatollah Khamenei (you guessed it, a “terrorist”) issued a series of “terrorist” threats against the 50,000 U.S. military personnel more or less completely surrounding his country on bases all across the Middle East. Millions of Iranians (currently “terrorists,” except for members of MeK), who, according to the U.S. officials, hated Soleimani, took to the streets of Tehran and other cities to mourn his death, burn American flags, and chant “death to America” and other “terrorist” slogans.

The empire went to DEFCON 1. The 82nd Airborne was activated. The State Department advised Americans vacationing in Iraq to get the hell out of there. #worldwar3 started trending on Twitter.

Freedom-loving countries throughout the region stood by to be annihilated. Saudi Arabia postponed its previously scheduled weekend edition of public head-chopping. Israel dialed up its non-existent nukes. The Kuwaitis posted armed guards on their incubators. The Qataris, Bahrainians, United Arab Emiratis, and other loyal empire outposts did whatever those folks do when they’re facing nuclear Armageddon.

In the U.S.A., it was mass hysteria. The corporate media starting pumping out stories about Soleimani having “blood on his hands,” and being “the number one terrorist in the world,” and having ruthlessly genocided hundreds of American soldiers, who, back in 2003, had preventatively invaded and destroyed Iraq and were preventatively slaughtering and torturing its people to keep them from attacking America with their non-existent WMDs.

Americans (most of whom had never even heard of Soleimani until their government murdered him, and many of whom can’t find Iran on a map) took to Twitter to call for the immediate nuking of Iran from orbit. Mayor Bill de Blasio ordered a division of heavily-armed anti-“terror” forces to stand around in New York City with their rifles in the classic “sling-ready” position to prevent the Iranians from swimming the Atlantic (along with their communist killer dolphins), crawling up onto East Hampton Beach, taking the LIRR into town, and committing some devastating “terrorist” atrocity that would be commemorated throughout eternity on key rings, T-shirts, and jumbo coffee mugs.

Trump, disciplined Russian agent that he is, held his nerve and maintained his cover, performing his “total moron” act as only a seasoned Russian operative can. While Iran was still mourning, he started publicly jabbering about Soleimani’s dismembered corpse, bombing Iranian cultural sites, and otherwise bombastically taunting Iran like an emotionally-challenged street-corner drunk. His strategy was clearly to convince the Iranians (and the rest of the world) that he is a dangerous imbecile who will murder the officials of any foreign government that Mike Pompeo tells him to, and then incinerate their museums and mosques, and presumably the rest of their “shithole” countries, if they even think about retaliating.

Nevertheless, retaliate the Iranians did. In a sadistic display of cold-hearted “terrorism,” they launched a firestorm of ballistic “terror” missiles at two U.S. military bases in Iraq, killing no one and injuring no one, but damaging the hell out of some empty buildings, a helicopter, and a couple of tents. First, though, in order to maximize the “terror,” they called the Swiss embassy in Tehran and asked them to warn the U.S. military that they would be launching missiles at their bases shortly. As the Moon of Alabama website reported:

“The Swiss embassy in Tehran, which represents the U.S., was warned at least one hour before the attack happened. Around 0:00 UTC the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration issued a Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) which prohibited civil U.S. flights over Iraq, Iran, the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman.”

In the wake of the Iranians’ devastating counter-strike, and the mass-non-casualties resulting therefrom, anyone with an Internet connection or access to a television descended into their anti-terror bunkers and held their breath in anticipation of the nuclear hell Trump was sure to unleash. I confess, even I tuned into his speech, which was one of the most disturbing public spectacles I have ever witnessed.

Trump burst through the doors of the White House Grand Foyer, dramatically backlit, freshly “tanned,” scowling like a WWF wrestler, and announced that, as long as he is president, “Iran will never be allowed to have nuclear weapons” … as if any of the events of the preceding week had had anything to do with nuclear weapons (which the Iranians don’t need and do not want, except in some neoconservative fantasy wherein Iran intends to commit national suicide by nuking Israel off the face of the Earth).

I didn’t make it through his entire address, which he delivered in a breathless, robotic staccato (possibly because Putin, or Mike Pompeo, was dictating it word-for-word into his earpiece), but it was clear from the start that all-out, toe-to-toe nuclear combat with the Axis of Resistance, or the Axis of Terror, or the Axis of Evil, or the Axis of Whatever, had been averted.

But, seriously, all mass hysteria aside, despite whatever atrocities are still to come, World War III is not going to happen. Why, you ask, is it not going to happen? OK, I’ll tell you, but you’re not going to like it.

World War III is not going to happen because World War III already happened … and the global capitalist empire won. Take a look at these NATO maps (make sure to explore all the various missions). Then take a look at this Smithsonian map of where the U.S. military is “combating terrorism.” And there are plenty of other maps you can google. What you will be looking at is the global capitalist empire. Not the American empire, the global capitalist empire.

If that sounds like a distinction without a difference … well, it kind of is, and it kind of isn’t. What I mean by that is that it isn’t America (i.e., America the nation-state, which most Americans still believe they live in) that is militarily occupying much of the planet, making a mockery of international law, bombing and invading other countries, and assassinating heads of state and military officers with complete impunity. Or, rather, sure, it is America … but America is not America.

America is a simulation. It is the mask the global capitalist empire wears to conceal the fact that there is no America … that there is only the global capitalist empire.

The whole idea of “World War III,” of powerful nation-states conquering other powerful nation-states, is pure nostalgia. “America” does not want to conquer Iran. The empire wants to restructure Iran, and then absorb Iran into the empire. It doesn’t give a rat’s ass about democracy, or whether Iranian women are allowed to wear mini-skirts, or any other “human rights.” If it did, it would be restructuring Saudi Arabia and applying “maximum pressure” to Israel.

Likewise, the notion that “America” has been making a series of unfortunate “strategic mistakes” in the Middle East is a convenient illusion. Granted, its foreign policy makes no sense from the perspective of a nation-state, but it makes perfect sense from the perspective of the empire. While “America” appears to be mindlessly thrashing around like a bull in a china shop, the empire knows exactly what it’s doing, what it has been doing since the end of the Cold War, opening up formerly inaccessible markets, eliminating internal resistance, aggressively restructuring any and all territories that are not playing ball with global capitalism.

I know it’s gratifying to wave the flag, or burn it, depending on your political persuasion, whenever things flare up militarily, but at some point we (i.e., we Americans, Brits, Western Europeans, et al.) are going to need to face the fact that we are living in a global empire, which is actively pursuing its global interests, and not in sovereign nation-states pursuing the interests of nation-states. (The fact that the nation-state is defunct is why we’ve been experiencing a resurgence of “nationalism.” It isn’t a return to the 1930s. It is the death throes of the nation-state, nationalism, and national sovereignty … the supernova of a dying star.)

World War III was an ideological battle, between two aspiring hegemonic systems. It is over. It’s a global capitalist world. As Mr. Jensen put it in the movie Network:

“You are an old man who thinks in terms of nations and peoples. There are no nations. There are no peoples. There are no Russians. There are no Arabs. There are no third worlds. There is no West. There is only one holistic system of systems, one vast and immane, interwoven, interacting, multivariate, multinational dominion of dollars. Petro-dollars, electro-dollars, multi-dollars, reichmarks, rins, rubles, pounds, and shekels. It is the international system of currency which determines the totality of life on this planet. That is the natural order of things today.”

That system of systems, that multivariate, multinational dominion of dollars, has us all by the short hairs, folks. All of us. And it won’t be satisfied until the world is transformed into one big, valueless, neo-feudal, privatized market … so maybe we should forget about World War III, and start focusing on World War IV.

You know the war I’m talking about, don’t you? It’s the global capitalist empire versus the “terrorists.”

#

CJ Hopkins
January 13, 2020
Photo: Wikipedia

CJ Hopkins Summer 2018 thumbnail

DISCLAIMER: The preceding essay is entirely the work of our in-house satirist and self-appointed political pundit, CJ Hopkins, and does not reflect the views and opinions of the Consent Factory, Inc., its staff, or any of its agents, subsidiaries, or assigns. If, for whatever inexplicable reason, you appreciate Mr. Hopkins’ work and would like to support it, please go to his Patreon page (where you can contribute as little $1 per month), or send your contribution to his PayPal account, so that maybe he’ll stop coming around our offices trying to hit our staff up for money. Alternatively, you could purchase his satirical dystopian novel, Zone 23, or Volume I of his Consent Factory Essays, or any of his subversive stage plays, which won some awards in Great Britain and Australia. If you do not appreciate Mr. Hopkins’ work and would like to write him an abusive email, please feel free to contact him directly.

Tories’ and UKIP’s Nazi Anti-Immigration Imagery

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 31/12/2019 - 11:18pm in

Remember how UKIP and its head honcho, Nigel Farage, got into trouble a few years ago for their anti-immigration poster? This showed a long line of middle eastern immigrants stretching across the landscape trying to get into Europe and Britain. It was based on the Syrian and North African refugees that had made their way to the West up through the Balkans, a million of whom had been promised asylum by German chancellor Angela Merkel. It was another piece of Farage’s anti-immigration propaganda. The argument runs that unless we get out of Europe, EU law will force us to take in more extra-European immigrants. And particularly Muslims, who are now the specific object of right-wing suspicion and hatred.

As Mike’s shown, the argument’s nonsense. Britain’s not part of the Schengen immigration area, and so doesn’t have to take in immigrants from outside Europe, who have sought refuge in one of these countries. The laws demanding Britain take in asylum seekers are UN treaties governing the rights of refugees, which obviously have nothing to do with the EU and will still be in place when we leave.

But Farage also got into serious trouble with the post because it was almost exactly like one put up by the Nazis protesting against Jewish refugees from eastern Europe trying to enter Germany. And there are more recent images from British neo-Nazi rags which also express the same type of bitter anti-immigrant sentiments.

I found this piccie of the cover of the British Nazi rag, The White Dragon, in Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke’s book on modern Nazi paganism, Black Sun. It seems to be of Hindu worshippers in the Ganges, but has been taken out of context and captioned ‘Welcome to Dover’. It’s from 1999, but could have come from any time up to the present.

Farage’s poster caused a storm of controversy, but the recent Tory victory and their promises of getting Brexit done have emboldened the islamophobes and racists. So can we expect more anti-immigration posters like UKIP’s? And will the Scum, the Depress or the Heil put a photo like this on their front pages when they issue another rant about non-White immigration?

Is Black Anti-Semitism Behind the Attacks on Jews in New York?

Yesterday came the shocking news that there had been yet another anti-Semitic attack in New York. The attacker had pushed into a rabbi’s house where he and a group of others were celebrating Hanukkah, and stabbed five of them. And Carl Benjamin, aka Sargon of Akkad, the Sage of Swindon, has posted a video about it.

Sargon is the right-wing ranter, who broke UKIP. He’s a ‘classical liberal’, or rather Libertarian, who believes in privatising everything, destroying the welfare state even further, and is anti-feminist and racist. So it should come as no surprise that he supports Donald Trump. Sargon is the man who sent the Tweet to Jess Philips telling her that he wouldn’t even rape her. When he joined UKIP and was selected as one of their two candidates for the south-west constituency in the Euro elections, the branch in his own town of Swindon asked for him to be deselected. Gloucestershire UKIP disbanded in disgust, and he was greeted with protests and thrown milkshakes and fish in places like Bristol and Truro on his election tour.

But this time Sargon seems to have raised an interesting issue and made a decent point. In his video, he goes through some of the newspaper coverage of the incidents. Yesterday’s attack is sadly only one of a number that have been carried out in recent weeks, so that several of the members of the Jewish community affected have said that they felt they were living in Nazi Germany.  Sargon noted how the newspapers claimed that the attackers were of both genders and all races, male and female, Black and White. He found a piece where one newspaper columnist called for Jews and Blacks to unite against their common enemy, white supremacy. But Sargon stated that in all the incidents he’d seen, the perpetrators had been very largely Black, although there were a few Hispanics. And he quite naturally wondered why.

Now it could be that the idea that the attacks are committed by Blacks is an illusion. It’s possible that there were equal numbers or more of Whites involved, but for some reason these were not covered as examples. Or else they were reported, but Sargon couldn’t find them when he searched the net. Certainly there have been terrible anti-Semitic attacks carried out by White racists this year.

But some of the attacks may also be due to causes peculiar to certain forms of Black radicalism. If that’s true, then it must also be stressed that this is only going to be a minority within America’s Black community, just as White racists like Richard Spencer certainly do not represent all White Americans.

Sargon suggested that it might be connected to a speech by the head of the Nation of Islam, Louis Farrakhan, which was taken down from YouTube. Farrakhan, whose anti-Semitism is notorious, had ranted about the Jews, at one point comparing them to Termites. Given that the attackers seemed to be largely Black, he didn’t see how Trump or White supremacy could be blamed. He claimed that Trump didn’t have any problem with Jews, as his daughter had converted to Judaism. So, he asked, why were Blacks attacking Jews? He then made the perfectly reasonable point that we wouldn’t know unless somebody asked them.

It is possible that Farrakhan’s highly inflammatory rhetoric against Jews could have inspired some of the attackers. Farrakhan is the head of the Nation of Islam, a Black Muslim organisation that, from the standpoint of orthodox Islam, is highly heretical. It’s a mixture of 19th century Freemasonry, Sudanese Sufism and elements of Ufology. It’s central doctrine is that W.D. Fard, a Syrian immigrant to the US, is the Son of God. Farrakhan claims that he was taken up to a flying ‘mother wheel’ by a UFO from a mountain in Mexico, and shown that Fard is alive and well and living on Venus, directing the war against Whites. The religion calls for the creation of a separate nation for Black Americans as it considers that they will never have justice or equality under White domination. They also believe that hundreds of thousands of years ago Blacks had an advanced civilisation, travelling to and exploring the Moon. White people are albinistic mutants created by a renegade Meccan scientist. Way back in the 1990s Farrakhan was predicting that American would be destroyed by a nuclear attack from an alliance of Muslim nations, that would free Black Americans. The religion is obviously bitterly hostile to Whites, or at least White civilisation. Given the immense exploitation and injustice Blacks have suffered in American and western history, it’s understandable.

Farrakhan also has a particular hatred of the Jews, because he blames them for the slave trade. Mainstream, respectable scholarship, such as Hugh Thomas’ comprehensive The Slave Trade, actually shows that Jews formed a tiny minority of slave traders and slave-owners.

A number of right-wing American websites also reported that the man responsible for an attack on a Jewish supermarket just before Christmas was a member of the Black Hebrew Israelites. This was a response to one of the left-wing Democrat politicos, who claimed that it was the vile work of a White nationalist. The Black Hebrew Israelites were founded c. 1964 by two preachers of Black Judaism, Gerson Parker, who took the name Nasi Hashalom, and Louis Bryant, who became Nasi Shaliach Ben Yehuda. Hashalom was the group’s spokesman, and revered as the Messiah. In 1969 they established a community in Dimona in Israel. The group believe that the only real Jews are Black Americans of slave ancestry.  Jews are fakes, and are part of the conspiracy to hide Black Americans’ real, spiritual identity from them. They will be destroyed, along with the rest of the religion’s enemies, at the Battle of Armageddon. This didn’t impress the Israeli authorities, who ruled that the Black Hebrew Israelites were not genuine Jews, and so could be legally deported. However, this hadn’t occurred by 1992, and the group was reported to have good relations with the Israeli authorities.  

It’s possible that the growth in the Nazi and anti-Semitic conspiracy theories in the White population may also have encouraged similar poisonous ideas in the Nation of Islam. The September 8th, 1992 issue of the religion’s newspaper, The Final Call, carried an article that suggested that the American government was planning to fake an alien landing in order to set up a tyrannical one-world government. The article featured an interview with UFO researcher Nario Hayakawa, who said

The U.S. government behind a veil of secrecy, is testing these aerial devices or select pilots may be receiving instructions [from alien beings] on how to fly these disk shaped crafts developed by the government for the purpose of staging a fake extraterrestrial event in the very near future, perhaps around 1995… Secret international banking groups and other global secret groups are going to forcefully eliminate international borders and create some kind of controlled society… The most amazing weapon they will use to do this will be the extraterrestrial threat. 

(See Donna Kossy, Kooks: A Guide to the Outer Limits of Human Belief (Portland: Feral House 1994) 27).

This is very similar to some of the ideas promoted by White conspiracy theorists at the time, like Bill Cooper in his book, Behold a Pale Horse. Lynn Picknett and Clive Prince also suggested that there was a conspiracy to create a Fascist social order with a fake alien landing in their book, The Stargate Conspiracy, published at the same time. This last book does not, however, blame the Jews and is certainly not anti-Semitic.

These ideas have been around for decades, however. This raises the question of why these attacks are being carried out now.

While Sargon is right that Trump’s daughter converted to Judaism – she did so when she married Jared Kushner, his son-in-law – Trump’s administration did contain allegedly genuine anti-Semites like Steve Bannon and Sebastian Gorka, and he did have links to and sympathy for the Alt Right. It might be that the growth in far right activism and racist rhetoric that his presidency has encouraged among White nationalists and racists like Richard Spencer has encouraged a similar increase in racism and anti-Semitism among some Black radicals.

On the other hand, it may also be that these attacks arise from tensions that a particular to the Black community. But left-wing commenters may also be right in that Trump’s neoliberal economic policies have resulted in more Americans of all colours facing terrible poverty. This is going to exacerbate racial tensions as groups compete over scarce resources. And the economic and social sense of threat this creates may cause some to seek out the Jews as scapegoats.

Racism and anti-Semitism have to be fought in all their forms. But the underlying economic causes have to be tackled as well – the poverty and the sense of despair and alienation this generates.

And that means electing a government that Sargon is definitely opposed to: one that will overturn decades of neoliberalism and restore genuine prosperity and a proper welfare net to working people. A government headed by Bernie Sanders.

 

 

Three New Reads – December

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 30/12/2019 - 9:00am in

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BBC, Labour, Syria

Philip Roddis And so this is Christmas, what have you done? The old year is over, a new one just begun. Well, almost. I can’t alas, offer much in the bliss department this year, nor would you expect me to. I leave to others the bringing of glad tidings of great joy. As my flawed …

How the Pro-War “Left” Fell for the Kurds in Syria

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 23/12/2019 - 11:00pm in

Max Parry The October decision by U.S. President Donald Trump to withdraw American troops from northeastern Syria did not only precipitate the Turkish offensive, codenamed ‘Operation Peace Spring’, into Kurdish-held territory which followed. It also sparked an outcry of hysteria from much of the so-called “left” that has been deeply divided during the 8-year long …

Turkey in Syria, by Christopher Houston

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 22/12/2019 - 11:22pm in

In Turkey, perhaps more than most other places, the significance of events is hard to grasp. One reason for this is the sheer number of major, often extreme, politically inspired actions: the murder of the Appeals Court judges in 2004; the huge Republic protests in support of state secularism in 2007; the massive Gezi Park protests against urban development in 2013; the shocking suicide bombings in Suruç and Ankara in 2015; the attempted military coup in 2016; the referendum for a new constitution in 2018, and so on. More importantly, multiple antagonistic political visions offer radically different perspectives on Turkish history and such events. Secularist (Kemalist), ‘Muslim’, liberal, Turkish-nationalist and pro-Kurdish citizens, receiving their news from their favoured sources, differ greatly in the meaning they attribute to historical incidents and thus in what they remember and forget. One feature of these polarised political emotions is the way in which each new appalling or auspicious act is obsessed over or ignored according to people’s pre-existing schemas of thought, matrices of perception and sentiment, and sedimentations of experience.

I begin with this brief discussion of ‘history wars’ in Turkey because the same disputation applies to the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government’s involvement in Syria since the beginning of the civil war in 2011, as well as to its more recent military actions against the pro-Kurdish government in Syria’s northeastern corner. For supporters of the government, military intervention is applauded for its targeting of terrorism. For many Kurds (and others), military action testifies simply to the chauvinistic Turkish nationalism of the government.

Since the unexpected uprising against Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Syria in 2011, the Turkish government has hosted and supported the Syrian National Council, at first a coalition of groups opposed to the Syrian government and later a self-proclaimed government in exile. It has also helped arm its military wing. At the same time the Russian and Iranian states have been active in Syria, supporting the pro-Assad Syrian Armed Forces in military operations against both numerous rebel groups and the unrecognised proto-state ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant). The result has been a vicious and internationalised ‘civil’ war that has killed at least 500,000 people and displaced a further six million. 

Although there was some Syrian Kurdish participation in the Turkish-sponsored Syrian National Council’s activities in its very first months, soon nearly all Kurdish groups disengaged. As Damascus lost control over vast areas of the country, in 2012 a coalition of groups led by the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) declared de-facto autonomy in the country’s northeastern provinces—Rojava. Aligned with the Kurdish Workers Party (PKK), a guerrilla and socialist political force that emerged in the late 1970s to defend Kurdish rights in Turkey, the PYD and its militia, the People’s Protection Units, have, since 2014, governed and defended the autonomous region against ISIL expansion. The progressive constitution of the Rojava cantons guarantees religious, political and cultural freedom for the region’s polyethnic population that includes Kurds, Arabs, Armenians and Assyrian Christians, and Turkmen. It also embeds principles of gender equality in its new political structures. Today the PYD advocates for regional autonomy within a federal and democratic Syria, a position apparently supported by Russia. Turkey would wish Rojava’s destruction. Curiously, the People’s Protection Units have also been an effective fighting force in the US-organised anti-ISIL coalition, an alliance recently betrayed by Donald Trump with his sudden withdrawal of US military support for the multi-ethnic Syrian Democratic Forces.

Another aspect of these unfolding developments in Syria has been the Turkish government’s creation of the Turkish-backed Free Syrian Army (not to be confused with the Free Syrian Army) to more directly pursue its political aims in Syria. Together with other Turkish-supported Syrian rebel forces, the Turkish armed forces began Operation Olive Branch on 20 January 2018 with a military intervention into the Kurdish canton of Afrin. As it did so, the president of the Directorate of Religious Affairs (the Diyanet) announced that every mosque in Turkey would recite the ‘Fetih’ (the Conquest) chapter from the Koran, while praying that the movement ‘begun by our heroic security forces across the border into Afrin will conclude with victory’. After Trump’s wavering policy decisions, Turkey’s present offensive against the Syrian Democratic Forces appears temporarily halted. Today Rojava, as it has been for nearly a decade, is delicately poised between powerful regional states. Its future constitutional status is uncertain.

Ever since the institution of the Turkish Republic, its governments have propagated a Turkish nationalism that has demanded the assimilation or obliteration of non-Turkish ethnic ‘others’. In particular, Turkish nationalism has denied Kurds’ self-description of their difference from Turks. In one way, then, current AKP policy towards the emergence of a Kurdish government and of a Kurdish autonomous region in Syria simply continues long-running republican policy.

But there is also a more contemporary political context to the AKP’s militaristic responses. This relates to a slow decline in the electoral popularity of the government that began in June 2015, when the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) gained 13.1 per cent of the popular vote, smashing the 10-per-cent barrier instituted by the military in 1982 precisely to stop minority representation in parliament. The AKP’s response to losing its majority in parliament was cynical and undemocratic. HDP parliamentarians were stripped of parliamentary immunity, charged with supporting terrorism, and taken to court. Since 2015 the police have detained 10,000 people and made 3000 arrests of HDP members. Selahattin Demirtaş, co-chair of the party, has been accused of sedition and terrorism, for which the prosecutor has sought 130 years’ imprisonment. Illiberal political measures have also resulted in the obstruction of Kurdish municipalism, despite HDP-controlled councils being legally elected political bodies within the Turkish electoral system. Two years of emergency rule after July 2016 has allowed the government to continue these repressive processes.

Nevertheless, the continuing popularity of this pro-Kurdish party in the Kurdish-majority regions of Turkey threatens the AKP’s hold on government, particularly as many religious Kurdish Muslims no longer choose to vote for it. In response, since 2016 the once ‘Islam-friendly’ AKP has forged a new coalition with the Nationalist Action Party, an ultra-Turkist party with links to the state security forces that interprets Turkish nationalism as a doctrine of civil war.

So there are at least two reasons for current government policy towards Syrian and Turkish Kurds. The first is the continuing influence of a powerful, century-old current of Turkish nationalism, which instituted the Turkish Republic in 1923. The second is a pragmatic response to waning electoral popularity. As many governments around the world know, there is nothing like heroic military action for shoring up jaded public support.

Today the political bloc forged in the first decade of the 2000s between the AKP, Turkish liberals and religious Kurds has collapsed. A militaristic and authoritarian ‘nationalist front’ has taken its place. But how long might this front hold sway? Early in 2019 the AKP suffered its most significant electoral defeat since its founding in 2001, losing control of both the Greater Istanbul and Greater Ankara municipalities to the Republican Peoples Party. Kurdish voters in each city were critical in the result. The AKP (and its predecessor Refah Party) have governed Istanbul and Ankara for twenty-five years. Tayyip Erdogan became mayor of Istanbul in 1994, marking the beginning of his political career.

This defeat will have significant consequences for Turkish politics, and for the future of President Erdogan. At its core, the AKP is a municipal party, and its popularity for decades has been connected to its ability to build houses and hospitals, make roads and bridges, construct transport infrastructure, establish parks, facilitate the expansion of shopping malls and regenerate Istanbul’s built environments (including its tourist infrastructure, and cultural heritage conservation). Under neoliberalism, planning is a prime method of accumulating capital. For the Republican Peoples Party, winning Istanbul is a political game-changer. Control of Istanbul’s planning and development possibilities, its marketing and organising of tourism and conferences, its provisioning, and its urban regeneration give it enormous new opportunities for business and finance, for rewarding its supporters with contracts and services, for establishing new companies dedicated to city servicing, and for setting up new enterprises oriented to cultural production, arts entrepreneurship and tourism. There is some small hope that it might also develop and publicise its own new practice of ‘democratic municipalism’.

In sum, even as the Turkish armed forces threaten further military action in ‘Western Kurdistan’, election results in Turkey’s biggest cities breathe new life into Turkish democracy, rejuvenating urban issues as a core battleground for citizens’ rights. But this also heralds a return in some ways to the late 1970s, when different political parties held power at the national and greater-council levels. That led to a crisis in council services and competencies as the national government starved opposition municipalities of funds. We can expect to witness a similar political struggle today, including disputes over financing, as well as bitter conflict over the AKP’s attempt to re-centralise Ankara’s control over urban municipalities.

Inside Journalist Tareq Haddad’s Spectacular Departure from Newsweek

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 21/12/2019 - 4:13am in

It’s Manufacturing Consent meets Operation Mockingbird; in a long exposé essay that doubles as a goodbye to the profession, Newsweek journalist Tareq Haddad explained why he was very publicly quitting his job at the New York-based magazine. “Journalism is quickly dying. America is regressing because it lacks the truth,” he wrote. 

The trigger for his decision was management suppressing his story on the bombshell news that the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) hid a mountain of evidence suggesting the 2018 Douma Attack was staged, thus paving the way for more military intervention in Syria. But below the surface, it was about far more than that; Haddad’s essay described how journalists are worked to the bone and how media drives the public towards war, coordinating smears against politicians who stand against it. But most spectacularly of all, he alleges that there is a network of hundreds of government assets working as high-level editors in newsrooms across America, even naming the one at Newsweek.

Haddad knew the consequences of speaking out:

In the end, that decision was rather simple, all be it I understand the cost to me will be undesirable. I will be unemployed, struggle to finance myself and will likely not find another position in the industry I care about so passionately. If I am a little lucky, I will be smeared as a conspiracy theorist, maybe an Assad apologist or even a Russian asset—the latest farcical slur of the day,” he wrote.

MintPress News reached out to him for comment. He responded that he was certain that there were more capable and well-meaning reporters like him that could come forward. “Hopefully, those journalists will have the courage to push the issue with their editors or face the embarrassment the industry will experience when the truth of the matter is revealed to all,” he stated.

Newsweek was not alone in failing to report on the OPCW revelations. Virtually the entirety of the mainstream press (with the exception of Tucker Carlson) ignored or downplayed the findings that cast the Syrian Civil War in a considerably different light. In contrast, MintPress News, with a tiny budget compared to corporate media, has covered the story closely. Unsurprisingly, they have shown little interest in Haddad’s exposé of their corruption either.

“In any functioning democracy the Tareq Haddad affair should occupy mainstream media for weeks” Oliver Boyd-Barrett, Professor Emeritus of Bowling Green State University (Department of Journalism and Communications) told MintPress News. However, he noted, “We have neither a fully functioning democracy nor the uncontaminated information ecosystem that would enable such a thing.” Newsweek, for the record, claimed that the matter was much more mundane: “The writer pitched a conspiracy theory rather than an idea for objective reporting. Editors rejected the pitch,” it said in a statement.

The “conspiracy theory” referenced is that multiple whistleblowers have come forward to publicly accuse the OPCW of suppressing their evidence in order to reach a predetermined conclusion about the Douma attacks­– one that supported military intervention. On the new evidence, former head of the OPCW Dr. Jose Bustani said it “confirmed doubts and suspicions I already had” about the incoherent report, claiming that “the picture is clearer now, although very disturbing.” 

Truth, Haddad wrote, is “the most fundamental pillar of this modern society we so often take for granted,” claiming that, despite going into the profession after reading radical critiques of the media like Herman and Chomsky’s Manufacturing Consent, and knowing others (like Chris Hedges) had been fired for opposing war, “I believed that honest journalism could be done. Nothing I read, however, came close to the dishonesty and deception I experienced while at Newsweek.”

He spoke of constantly self-censoring and modifying his language as to not rock the boat and how staff were totally overworked. Haddad himself wrote an average of four articles per day on complicated topics he admitted he often had no experience with whatsoever. This is a phenomenon called “churnalism” by academics, where reporters are turned into cogs in giant news machines, churning out vapid and shallow writing or copying corporate press releases for the profit of the outlet. This is one reason why trust in media has been falling since the 1970s, and particularly in the last few years.

He also discusses how the media manufactured public consent for military intervention in Syria. One example of this was his boss’s refusal to publish another of his stories questioning the legitimacy of Bana Alabed, the youthful face of the pro-intervention movement. Meanwhile, those who stand up against war are smeared as assets of foreign powers. He condemns what he describes as coordinated attacks launching “preposterous accusations” against antiwar voices such as Hawaii Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard.  

Academics found the case remarkable, but not particularly unusual. When asked for comment by MintPress News, Tabe Bergman, Lecturer in Journalism at Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University, Suzhou, China replied,

“Sadly, the resignation of Tareq Haddad is merely the latest in a long series of dedicated journalists quitting their job at mainstream news organizations that try to squeeze every penny out of the ‘news product’ while placating the powers that be.”

 

Operation Mockingbird 2.0

Perhaps the most truly alarming claim Haddad makes in his tell-all treatise is that there is a network of hundreds of deep state assets placed into newsrooms across the country, working to control what the public sees and hears, planting stories and quashing others. As he says:

 The U.S. government, in an ugly alliance with those the profit the most from war, has its tentacles in every part of the media — imposters, with ties to the U.S. State Department, sit in newsrooms all over the world. Editors, with no apparent connections to the member’s club, have done nothing to resist. Together, they filter out what can or cannot be reported. Inconvenient stories are completely blocked.”

Dr. Boyd-Barrett compared his revelations to Operation Mockingbird, a widespread CIA infiltration of hundreds of agenda-setting news outlets throughout the United States during the 20th century, placing agents in key positions or persuading existing reporters to work with them. “The use of journalists has been among the most productive means of intelligence‑gathering employed by the CIA,” wrote the legendary investigative journalist Carl Bernstein, who broke the story for Rolling Stone in 1977. As such, Boyd-Barrett told us there is “nothing essentially new” with Haddad’s exposé:

Discerning critics have long assumed the wholesale penetration of our media ecosystem and universities by intelligence agencies and other special interests and every so often something emerges accidentally to confirm their worst fears.” 

While initially fearing he might never work in the profession again, Haddad said that he is still weighing his options and is considering crowdfunding as a model to finance new investigations as an independent journalist. 

“There are numerous stories that haven’t had the attention they deserve in the mainstream press and they are well worth investigating further. Also, it’s worth noting that because of my initial piece, several journalists have reached out to me with information I wasn’t previously aware of so there are several threads to be investigated more,” he revealed.

Haddad’s exposé of the corruption and collusion at the heart of modern journalism is something long-discussed by academics such as Bergman and Boyd-Barrett, but rarely does such a clear example present itself. His account undermines the credibility of the entire for-profit corporate model of news that prevails across the world, precisely the reason why you are unlikely to hear about it on CNN or in the New York Times.

Feature photo | A photo of Tareq Haddad is shown from his Twitter profile: @Tareq_Haddad.

Alan MacLeod is a MintPress Staff Writer as well as an academic and writer for Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting. His book, Bad News From Venezuela: Twenty Years of Fake News and Misreporting was published in April.

The post Inside Journalist Tareq Haddad’s Spectacular Departure from Newsweek appeared first on MintPress News.

The Real Reasons Tulsi Gabbard Did Not Vote to Impeach Donald Trump

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 21/12/2019 - 3:28am in

Along strongly partisan lines, the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives voted to impeach President Donald Trump on two articles, by a total of 230-197-1 on abuse of power and 229-198-1 on obstruction of Congress. The first stems from his alleged pressuring of the Ukranian government to announce investigations into his political rival, Joe Biden. The second is because of his alleged refusal to cooperate with the investigation, withholding evidence and barring aides from testifying. The notable “1” in both counts was Hawaii Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, who, instead of siding with the overwhelming majority of her fellow Democrats, voted “present” both times. 

Gabbard, who is currently running for the Democratic presidential nomination, was roundly criticized by her party for the decision. “I really think it was not a smart choice for her politically,” said Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D–WA), “If she can’t make a decision about whether to vote yes or no on these articles of impeachment, I’m not sure how she intends to make those decisions in the White House.” Jayapal added that she was very disappointed and considered Gabbard’s stance a “cop out.” “These votes are votes of courage, they are votes of conscience…I don’t think people are looking for a ‘present’ vote at the moment,” she concluded.

Freshman New York Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez also expressed her unease with Gabbard’s decision. “Today was very consequential. And to not take a stand one way or another in a day of such grave consequence to this country is quite difficult. We’re sent here to lead,” she said.

The Hawaii congresswoman explained her stance yesterday with a press release on her campaign website. “I could not in good conscience vote against impeachment because I believe President Trump is guilty of wrongdoing,” she said.

I also could not in good conscience vote for impeachment because removal of a sitting President must not be the culmination of a partisan process, fueled by tribal animosities that have so gravely divided our country. When I cast my vote in support of the impeachment inquiry nearly three months ago, I said that in order to maintain the integrity of this solemn undertaking, it must not be a partisan endeavor. Tragically, that’s what it has been.”

She also introduced a resolution calling on the House to censure Trump on five issues she implied were far more substantial. Those include carrying out wars without congressional approval, illegally “occupying and pillaging” Syria, “recklessly enabling” Turkey to invade Northern Syria and ethnically cleanse Kurds (a U.S. ally), continuing to support Saudi Arabia’s “genocidal war” in Yemen and scrapping nuclear agreements with Iran and Russia, thereby strongly increasing the risk of nuclear proliferation.

While her move was undeniably unpopular within the Democratic Party she is hoping to lead into the next election, impeachment itself is a highly controversial tactic. The latest poll from Gallup (published Wednesday) shows support for impeachment dropping well below 50 percent while the president’s approval ratings continue to move upwards. Furthermore, it is entirely unclear how Democrats intend to actually remove Trump from office as to do so would require a similar vote from the Republican-controlled Senate.

Jayapal claims that Trump’s approval ratings should not be considered static and that his support could quickly melt away if Republican senators “do the right thing” and back his removal. But fully 100 percent of House Republicans voted against impeachment, something the president celebrated as a sign that their party was united like never before. 

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R–KY) has already declared that there is “no chance” that they will allow Trump to be removed. There also remains a serious question as to whether House Democrat Leader Nancy Pelosi will even send the articles to the Senate for a vote, leaving the process completely stalled. Trump is evidently ready for battle, claiming on Twitter that “Pelosi feels her phony impeachment HOAX is so pathetic she is afraid to present it to the Senate, which can set a date and put this whole SCAM into default if they refuse to show up! The Do Nothings are so bad for our Country!”

Thus, the entire process is a high-risk strategy from the Democrats that some feel could end up backfiring. “Trump is going to be able to say there was a conspiracy against him– with some justification,” Rolling Stone’s Matt Taibbi said. “It’s a disaster. If they had just not done this and argued against Trump’s presidency on other grounds– on how is America doing, inequality, all those things, it would have been tough for him. But now they’ve handed him a couple of issues, huge ones, that he’ll be able to carry all the way to the finish line…it’s amazing that they did this.”

Gabbard is serving her fourth term in the U.S. House of Representatives. She has served in the Hawaii Army National Guard for sixteen years and was elected to the state’s legislature at age 21. Real Clear Politics’ cumulative poll tracker has her polling at around two percent. Time will tell whether her latest move will resonate with the public or hurt her campaign.

Feature photo | Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, listens as family members of victims of 9/11 speak during a news conference at the 9/11 Tribute Museum, Oct. 29, 2019, in New York. Mary Altaffer | AP

Alan MacLeod is a MintPress Staff Writer as well as an academic and writer for Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting. His book, Bad News From Venezuela: Twenty Years of Fake News and Misreporting was published in April.

The post The Real Reasons Tulsi Gabbard Did Not Vote to Impeach Donald Trump appeared first on MintPress News.

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.’

https://zelo-street.blogspot.com/2019/12/katie-hopkins-full-tory-english-racist.html

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. 

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