Turkey

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.

How can the US lecture China on the rights of Muslims?

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 17/12/2019 - 5:00pm in

Andre Vltchek In 2019, I wrote a long analysis about “the Uygur issue”; analysis which will be soon published as a book. For some time, I have been warning the world that the West, and the United States in particular, are helping to radicalize the Uyghurs in Xinjiang Province and outside. And not only that: …

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.

Boris Johnson Declared Islamophobia ‘Natural Reaction’ to Islam

Mike also put up another excellent piece, pointing out that while the Tories are misdirecting people to look for massively over-exaggerated anti-Semitism in the Labour party, they have been actively promoting hatred against Muslims. According to the magazine Business Insider, in 2005 our comedy prime minister wrote in the Spectator that

To any non-Muslim reader of the Koran, Islamophobia — fear of Islam — seems a natural reaction, and, indeed, exactly what that text is intended to provoke. Judged purely on its scripture — to say nothing of what is preached in the mosques — it is the most viciously sectarian of all religions in its heartlessness towards unbelievers.

This was in the wake of the 7/7 London bombings, and Johnson questioned the loyalty of British Muslims and said that the country must realise that ‘Islam is the problem’.

Mike concludes ‘He’s not my prime minister. He is racist filth.’

Boris Johnson believes Islamophobia is a ‘natural reaction’ to Muslims. Let’s vote this racist OUT

No argument there from me, especially after Mates Jacobs has released a dossier of rabidly islamophobic, racist and anti-Semitic comments from the supporters of Jacob Rees-Mogg and our buffoonish Prime Minister. Not after Sayeeda Warsi has repeatedly demanding investigations into islamophobia in her party, and been condescendingly told that there’s little to worry about. Not when an inquiry into it has been pushed back after the General Election – presumably so that it won’t embarrass Johnson when it uncovers massive prejudice and hatred.

Now let’s put Johnson’s comments into their context. Many Brits understandably were worried about the possible danger from Islam after the 7/7 bombings on the London Underground and on buses. This was also a period when alienated Muslim youths marched through the street waving placards against the Iraq and Afghanistan invasions, proclaiming that Islam would dominate the West and promising more violence and terrorism. But it is a mistake to claim that this alienation and rage represents true Islam, or comes from the pages of the Qu’ran.

In fact Islamism is the product of a distinct set of social and political circumstances. This includes the economic and political stagnation of Islamic societies, rising poverty and the bewilderment and dislocation felt by many Muslims to rapid modernisation. Some of the problems are due to the adoption of neoliberal economic programmes by secular Arab and Middle Eastern states, like Algeria, which have massively increased poverty. Some of it is a reaction to western colonialism and cultural and economic hegemony. And some of it is a response to real oppression by non-Muslim states around the world. Like there is massive discrimination and organised violence against Muslims, as well as Sikhs and Christians, by Hindu ultra-nationalists in India.

I studied Islam as part of my religious studies minor degree at College. Yes, Islam has expanded through violence and conquest, just as Christianity has. But it has also spread through peaceful contact and conversion. And the problems Islam is experiencing as it modernises aren’t unique to it. Christianity and the West experienced the same process in the 19th and 20th centuries. There were reactionaries in the Anglican Church in the 19th century, who were frightened of the extension of the franchise and political rights to Protestant Dissenters, Roman Catholics, and other religions. In the middle of the century the Papacy placed on its index of forbidden doctrines the idea that Roman Catholic countries should allow freedom of religion and conscience to non-Catholics. But now the Anglican and Roman Catholic churches as a whole very definitely are not anti-democratic, despite the attempts of General Franco and Roman Catholic clerico-Fascists during the Second World War. And aggressively atheist states like the Soviet Union have their own bloody history of intolerance. Religion was viciously persecuted in the USSR, and millions of people of faith, whether Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist or shamanist, were killed or imprisoned in the gulags for simply holding their beliefs. Nathan Johnson, surveying the vicious intolerance across secular, atheist as well as religious societies in his books on the mythology of New Atheism, has suggested that such intolerance may be part of human nature, rather than just unique to religion or a specific religion.

Islam also has a tolerant side. Christianity survived in the Balkans after the Turkish conquest because, when the Ottoman emperor wanted to force the Christian peoples to convert to Islam, the majlis, the assembly of Muslims scholars and jurists, told him it was specifically forbidden, for example. And even after the conquest, there were many areas in which Christian and Muslim lived side by side in peace. When Mike visited Bosnia after the war in the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s, he saw areas where churches and mosques had been built next to each other. Not the mark of an intolerant society, at least, not at that time.

Boris Johnson is, as Mike and so many others have repeatedly pointed out, a vicious racist. This is in sharp contrast to the Labour leader, who is a determined opponent of all forms of racism. Don’t believe him when he smears Labour as anti-Semitic.

And don’t let him get away with smearing Muslims. This is what the Tories are doing and have always done: manufacture hate against an out-group in order to gain power. They are doing it against the poor. They are doing it to the unemployed, to the disabled, to anybody, even working people, who claim benefits. And in the early part of the 20th century they did it to Jews. Now they’re doing it to Blacks, Asians and particularly Muslims.

A better world is possible. Reject the Tories and their prejudice and bigory, and vote for Corbyn and his anti-racism instead.

 

 

Identity of Monster Behind Uighur Concentration Camps Revealed

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 27/11/2019 - 12:47am in

The I today has published a piece revealing the identity of the Han Chinese minister behind the concentration camps used to imprison and torture China’s Muslim minority, the Uighurs, simply for practising their own culture, language and religious identity.

The article by Jane Clinton, titled ‘Revealed: man behind Uighur camps’, runs

After bloody race riots rocked China’s far west in 20089, the ruling Communist Party turned to a rare figure in their ranks to restore order: a Han official fluent in Uighur, the language of the local Turkic Muslim minority.

Now, newly revealed, confidential documents show that the official, Zhu Hailun, played a key role in planning and executing a campaign that has swept up a million or so Uighurs into detention camps.

Written in 2017, the documents were signed by Mr Zhu, as then head of the powerful Political and Legal Affairs Commission of the Communist Party in the Xinjiang region.

Mr Zhu joined the party in 1980 and moved up Xinjiang’s bureaucracy. By the 90s, he was so fluent in Uigher he corrected his own translators during meetings.

“If you didn’t see him, you’d never imagine he’s Han Chinese, he really spoke just like a Uighur, because he grew up with them,” said a Uighur businessman living in exile in Turkey, who declined to be named for fear of retaliation.

The Han are the majority Chinese population.

From what I understand, this is at heart all about the Chinese development of Xinjiang for its resources of coal and iron. This has led to massive Han Chinese immigration, which is resented by the indigenous Uighurs, as they fear they are becoming a minority in their own homeland. The concentration camps are part of a policy of forcibly suppressing Uighur national identity, including the use of their language and the practising of their religion, Islam. According to an article in the ‘Letter from…’ column in last fortnight’s Private Eye, even after release, Uighur former inmates are not free from surveillance and to pressure to abandon their national identity. Han Chinese spies may be billeted in their homes to make sure they don’t return to their old customs and identity. The policy’s similar to the way General Franco in Spain tried to stop the Basques speaking their own language, and the Soviet Union’s campaign to eradicate religion and religious practices.

By international law, Zhu Heilun and the Chinese government responsible for this policy are guilty of crimes against humanity, as I believe that attempts to suppress an ethnic group’s national identity is considered genocide.

Zhu is a monster, and his government deserves criticism and contempt for this policy.

How will History Remember Russia’s Role in Syria?

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 15/11/2019 - 2:00am in

Ahmed al-Khalid The former US Marine Corps Intelligence Officer, and former United Nations Weapons Inspector, Scott Ritter puts the question in his article: how will historians come to appreciate what Russia accomplished in Syria? The analyst has criticized the US’ policy and represented Russia as a major positive power in Syrian conflict. Is it really …

Scared Johnson Now Reduced to Throwing Coarse Insults at Labour

Oo-er, Johnson must be getting scared! I have a rule of thumb that someone is winning an argument when their opponent turns to ad hominem insults or profanity. And by this standard, Johnson is losing, as today he hurled a coarse insult in Labour’s direction. Speaking at a manufacturer of electric vehicles today, our comedy prime minister was expected to make a speech referring to the ‘groundhoggery of Brexit’, the ‘horror show’ of a Corbyn government propped up by Nicola Sturgeon, and described the prospect of second referendums on Brexit and Scottish independence as ‘political onanism’. Onanism is a rather elevated term for masturbation. It comes from Onan, one of the figures in the Old Testament. ‘Groundhoggery’ simply comes from the film Groundhog Day, whose hero is condemned to relive the same day over and over until he finds some way of breaking the cycle.

The I’s Nigel Morris, in his article on the planned speech, ‘PM: I’ll pour cold water on Labhour’s Brexit ‘onanism’, said that Johnson would ‘risk accusations of resorting to crude insults’. Yes, he has. Mike put up a piece about it this morning, titled ‘Boris’ obscene insult with cement the nation’s opinion of him’.  Michael Rosen, the Children’s Poet Laureate, tweeted

Dear Dominic
Are you absolutely sure that I should drop one of these obscure obscenity bombs every few days?
Horatio pro fellatio
Boris

And the Independent commented that this wasn’t the first time Johnson had resorted to off-colour language in public. He described money spent on child abuse inquiries as ‘spaffed up the wall’, gay men as ‘tank-top wearing bum-boys’ and referred to the President of Turkey in a limerick with a word rhyming with ‘Ankara’. How statesmanlike! And I have to say, I find his smear of gay men rather bizarre. They’ve got a reputation for being rather well-turned out, otherwise we wouldn’t have the show Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, in which two gay men advise a straight bloke on how to dress better. And from what I remember, the tanktop was never an exclusively gay fashion. It appeared in the ’70s, and all kinds of men and boys wore it without any thought that it had anything to do with homosexuality. I had one. Lenny Henry had a joke about how he had one, and wondered why he couldn’t pick up women at the disco when wearing it. And it’s a bit rich for Johnson, who was educated at Eton, to make sneering remarks about homosexuals with the reputation public schools have for homosexuality.

Johnson was also expected to say that while Britain was admired and respected around the world, foreign countries would be baffled by our failure to get Brexit done. Mike concludes his piece by stating that

the leaders of those other countries that have caused Mr Johnson such concern will be even more “baffled” if he wins an election with language like this.

Boris Johnson’s obscene insult will merely cement the nation’s opinion – of him

Quite. Johnson is increasingly showing himself to be an incompetent buffoon, who can only stave off attacks on his government and conduct in office through coarse insult. And it belies the confidence the Tory press claim they have in a Conservative election victory. Today’s Times had its leading headline on the front page proclaiming that the Tories were 14 points in the lead over Labour. But yesterday’s I reported that there was confusion among politicians over the whether polls could be trusted.

Johnson’s little bit of crudity suggests he and his chief advisor, Dominic Cummins, don’t.

To paraphrase the old movie poster for the David Cronenberg remake of The Fly, they’r afraid. They’re very afraid.

Make them so and vote them out on December 12.

Where’s Your Football, Lucy?

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 21/10/2019 - 5:24pm in

President Trump’s order to withdraw American troops who created a buffer zone between Turkey and Kurdish-controlled areas of Iraq was a controversial movie seen as a betrayal of a long-time American ally. But there’s a long history of US forces making extravagant promises to local forces, then withdrawing and leaving them to the wolves.

The Turkish Invasion of Syria

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 15/10/2019 - 11:41pm in

image/jpeg iconsyriamap1.jpg

It was obvious from the beginning of the war against Bashar el Assad (2011) that Turkey intended to invade north-east Syria alongside its border (an area of some 30 kilometres deep and 420 long). Turkey only participated in the war against Isis/Daesh after a long delay, and never with much conviction.

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