The Two Faces of Capitalism and Left Options By Prof. James Petras

Global Research, September 07, 2015
Introduction

Rightwing politics now dominate the globe. Broadly speaking, the Right can be divided into a US-centered rightwing bloc and a variety of anti-US rightwing regimes and social forces.
James Petras

Israel is a special case of a rightwing regime, allied with the US, which acts more independently to pursue its own colonial priorities and hegemonic ambitions.

The anti-US rightwing includes capitalist China and Russia; the nationalist, Islamist and secular republics of Iran, Syria and Lebanon; and the armed and civilian Islamist mass movements of the Middle East, East and West Africa and South and Southeast Asia.

Leftwing governments and movements, faced with the competing and conflicting rightwing power centers, find themselves having to operate precariously in the interstices of global politics, attempting to play-off one or the other. These include the center-left regimes and movements in Latin America; anti-capitalist opposition parties and trade unions in the EU; nationalist-democratic movements and trade unions in North and South Africa; nationalist and populist movements in South Asia; and a broad array of academic leftists and intellectuals throughout the globe who have little or no direct impact on the direction of world politics. A number of supposedly ‘Left’ regimes have capitulated to the US-EU bloc, namely Syriza in Greece and the Workers Party of Brazil.

In sum, the major conflicts in the world are found between competing capitalist centers; between rising (China and Russia) and established capitalist blocs (US and EU); between financial centers (US-England) and primary export states (Africa, Asia and Latin America); between dominant Judaic/Christian and emerging Islamist states; and between imperialist states and occupied colonized nations. We will explore the nature of each form of right-wing conflict.

The Nature of the Conflicts between the Rightwing Regimes

Despite their common capitalist basis, the conflicts between Rightwing regimes are intense, violent and enduring.

The US-centered Right has annexed former Soviet satellites in Eastern Europe and the Baltic and Balkan states. They have encircled Russia with their military bases, seized control of Ukraine through a violent putsch (color-coded revolution) and invaded Russian allies in the Middle East (Iraq and Syria).

The US has mobilized its EU followers to impose crippling economic sanctions on the Russian state and private enterprises in order to weaken its oligarchical ruling class under President Vladimir Putin, force ‘regime change’ and return Russia to the status of the pillaged vassal state under Boris Yeltsin (1990-2000).

Russia’s capitalist state, dependent on the oil and gas industries and western investments and markets, has responded by building up its military defenses. Faced with a US-imposed economic blockade and the growing militarization of US clients on Russia’s periphery, Moscow is finally developing local industries to substitute for EU and US imports and establishing alternative trading partnerships with capitalist China, India, Islamist Iran and the center-left regimes in Latin America.

The US-centered Right has sought to weaken China by encircling it through expanded military base agreements with Japan, Australia and the Philippines; and by promoting Asian-Pacific trade agreements excluding China. Washington relies on its historic military ties to counter its loss of Asian markets to rising Chinese economic exporters.

China, as the emerging Asian world power, has countered by deepening its trade, investment and financial ties with regional economies. Beijing is cultivating and formalizing trade and investment relations with the EU and Latin American economies. China has increased its defense spending and is constructing a series of offshore military installations to counter US military superiority in the Asia Pacific region.

In both the European and Asian regions of conflict, the struggle is between rival capitalist countries: On one side, there is the declining US-EU-Japanese regimes relying on ever more overt military expansion; while, on the other, China and Russia have turned to trade and economic expansion while fortifying their military defenses.

Both compete to influence the ‘Left’, and the independent Islamist countries by intervening wherever possible in internal conflicts.

The Tactics of the Competing Rightwing Blocs

The US-centered bloc relies on various forms of political-military intervention in the politics of their Chinese, Russian, leftist and Islamic adversaries.

These interventions include:

(1) Fomenting ethnic conflicts, e.g.Uighurs and Tibetans in China; Islamists and Chechen terrorists in Russia; Western-oriented liberals in the Islamist countries; and neo-liberals in Latin American countries under leftist regimes.

(2) Outright military invasions in the Middle East and South Asia against Islamic and nationalist regimes, including the recent invasions and attacks against Afghanistan, Libya, Iraq, Syria and Yemen.

(3) Financing and organizing ‘regime change’ via coups and street mobs in Leftist, nationalist and Islamist countries have increased in recent years. US-backed coups have taken place in Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador, Honduras and Ukraine; street uprisings have been financed and orchestrated by the US and its allies in Iran, Serbia, Georgia, Ukraine, Libya, Brazil, Ecuador and numerous other countries.

(4) Economic sanctions and exclusive trade pacts are directed against Russia, Iran, North Korea, Cuba, Sudan, Gaza, Syria and elsewhere.

The intent of US-centered bloc interventions is to weaken capitalist competitors, undermine Leftist and Islamist economies andconvert them into political and economic vassal states.

The anti-US capitalist bloc, headed by Russia and especially China, has relied predominantly on economic aid, trade and investmentto counter Western capitalist political intervention. They have arranged large-scale infrastructure loans and financed major trade agreements with less developed countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America and signed oil and gas agreements with the independent Islamic Republic of Iran and with energy producers in Latin America, especially Venezuela.

On the other hand, they have pushed military sales and loans for their weapon systems with Pakistan (South Asia), Egypt (North Africa), and Iran and Syria (Middle East).

The so-called, BRICS and China have organized new financial institutions as a response to the US – dominated IMF and WB.

Capitalist competition may provide some economic options to independent leftist governments, but it does not advance the class struggle. The reason is obvious: Each bloc pursues the capitalist strategy of enhancing market shares, increasing profits and exploiting labor and primary products.

The Dilemmas of the Left in a World of Capital Competition

The Left is not a major player in the current configuration of world power. It has a presence in governments and especially amongmass-based opposition movements. The current rivalry among capitalist blocs presents opposition movements with options not possible in a unipolar world dominated by US imperialism.

If the Left chose to ally with a ‘lesser evil’ – Russian or Chinese capitalism would be the likely choice. While Leftists, who sign pacts with capitalists, may end up losing their own identities, when faced with a hostile US-centered bloc the survival of a Leftist regime dictates the need to take risks by establishing such ties.

The best option is to avoid any political alliance while seeking favorable trade and investment agreements to diversify the economy, trade and investment sources and provide ‘negotiating’ leverage .

Leftists under military threat cannot think of self-sufficiency but must concentrate on independence and options.

In today’s almost exclusively capitalist world, the Left has to decide whether it makes sense to speak of progressive or regressivecapitalist states or enterprises. They have to decide which is the leastregressive or repressive and dangerous economic bloc to deal with. They need to reduce the negative and extract the positive aspects from their negotiations among the competing capitalist blocs.

Criteria for Left Politics

In general terms, the left should choose to work with less militarist and more trade-oriented capitalist states because these are less prone to intervene violently on behalf of their multi-national corporations or embark on ‘regime change’ campaigns against leftist governments, which have been elected to nationalize strategic assets and property.

For this reason Chinese-Russian capitalists are less malignant than those within the US-EU bloc.

Capitalists, willing to invest in minority shares of joint public-private enterprises, are better than those who demand majority shares and managerial control over strategic national assets.

Capitalists, willing to finance local research and development and transfer technology, are preferable to those who monopolize their technology in their ‘imperial headquarters’.

Capitalists, willing to add value and invest in the local ‘chain of production’ make better partners than to those who simply invest in raw material extraction, exporting ‘raw materials’ and importing finished goods. China has been notorious in pursuing this model of naked ‘colonial extraction’, which does not advance the economies of the resource-rich countries. However recently, Latin American, African and Asian governments have started to demand that China invest more heavily in local manufacturing and processing sectors.

Capitalists who invest in infrastructure linking domesticproducers to each other through a ‘grid pattern’ bring more long-term economic benefit than those who operate through a ‘spoke infrastructure’, where transport networks are built exclusively to foreign-owned operations in order to bring raw materials directly to export ports.

It is better to work with capitalists who invest in ‘integrated manufacturing complexes’ with high percentage of local suppliers than speculators and capitalists who set up low skill assembly plants using imported parts.

All capitalists seek to maximize market shares and profits by securing tax breaks, finding sources of cheap, docile labor with minimal environmental and workplace protection and easy remittances of profits. The question for the Left is which capitalists are flexible and open to making concessions on these local issues?

Over the past decade, the US capitalist bloc has increased domestic inequalities, cut social expenditures and undermined labor unions and workplace protections.

For their part, over the past two decades, China and Russia have gone through a period of intense concentration of wealth, spiraling inequality, wholesale dismantling of social welfare programs and privatization of resources, banks and factories – all in the course of their headlong transition to capitalism. However, during the last 10 years, Russian workers have benefited from a substantial economic recovery and Chinese workers have secured double-digit wage increases – in contrast to workers in the West with shrinking incomes.

The Left shouldn’t expect to find any expression of labor solidarity from either capitalist bloc but is more likely to negotiate concessions from the East, without the threat of military intervention or ‘regime change’ it confronts from the West.

Clearly there are dangers in dealing with capitalists of any complexion or bloc: US-centered capitalists threaten financial destabilization; Russian oligarchs engaged in pillage and gangster-capitalism in their ascent to state power. Neither should be allowed easy entry and quick exit in any economic relations.

Conclusion

For Left governments, operating in a capitalist world, there are no permanent allies; there are only permanent interests. The distinctions should be very clear.

Foreign market-oriented capitalism, which increases theproductive forces, creating value and raising the proportion of wage workers, can help provide the material basis for the state to socialize the economy – if it operates under strict control.

In contrast, militarized capitalism, like that of the US, poses a constant security threat and is a drain on the resources of any leftist government.

In an insecure world, and under the conditions of an unfavorable balance of power, it is best to tactically ally oneself with emergingcapitalists, who may have their own reasons for opposing established imperialism. However, the Left must never give up control of their strategic economic sectors.

The Chinese-Russian bloc has its own set of oligarchs and billionaires, exploiters and speculators, but these are not accompanied by imperial state-directed street mobs and saboteurs, militarists and Special Forces.

Left governments should not idealize their relations with tactical allies. Russia and China have betrayed agreements with Left governments when they capitulated under threats and enticements from the US-EU bloc.

‘Agreements’, whether with tactical allies or strategic adversaries, should serve to expand and strengthen the social presence, power and influence of the working class in the economy and state. That should be the strategic priority for Left governments as they navigate in these treacherous waters.

The “Collateral Damage” of US-NATO Wars: Europe’s Refugee Crisis, Depraved Morality of UK Prime Minister David Cameron

The “Collateral Damage” of US-NATO Wars: Europe’s Refugee Crisis, Depraved Morality of UK Prime Minister David Cameron
By Colin Todhunter

Global Research, September 06, 2015
Region: Europe, Middle East & North Africa

Theme: Police State & Civil Rights, United Nations

UK Prime Minister David Cameron this week said “as a father I felt deeply moved” by the image of a Syrian boy dead on a Turkish beach. As pressure mounts on the UK to take in more of those fleeing to Europe from Syria and elsewhere. Cameron added that the UK would fulfil its “moral responsibilities.”

On hearing Cameron’s words on the role of ‘morality’, something he talks a lot about, anyone who has been following the crisis in Syria would not have failed to detect the hypocrisy. According to former French foreign minister Roland Dumas, Britain had planned covert action in Syria as early as 2009. He told French TV:

I was in England two years before the violence in Syria on other business… I met with top British officials, who confessed to me that they were preparing something in Syria. This was in Britain not in America. Britain was preparing gunmen to invade Syria.

Writing in The Guardian in 2013, Nafeez Ahmed discusses leaked emails from the private intelligence firm Stratfor, including notes from a meeting with Pentagon officials, that confirmed US-UK training of Syrian opposition forces since 2011 aimed at eliciting “collapse” of Assad’s regime “from within.”

He goes on to write that, according to retired NATO Secretary General Wesley Clark, a memo from the Office of the US Secretary of Defense just a few weeks after 9/11 revealed plans to “attack and destroy the governments in seven countries in five years,” starting with Iraq and moving on to “Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Iran.” Clark argues that this strategy is fundamentally about control of the region’s vast oil and gas resources.

In 2009, Syrian President Assad refused to sign a proposed agreement with Qatar that would run a pipeline from the latter’s North field through Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria and on to Turkey, with a view to supply European markets in direct competition with Russia. Being a Russian ally, Assad refused to sign and instead pursued negotiations for an alternative $10 billion pipeline plan with Iran crossing Iraq and into Syria that would also potentially allow Iran to supply gas to Europe. Thus Assad had to go.

And this is where Cameron’s concerns really lie: not with ordinary people compelled to flee war zones that his government had a hand in making but with removing Assad in order for instance to run a pipeline through Syrian territory and to prevent Iran and Russia gaining strategic momentum in the region.

Ordinary folk are merely ‘collateral damage’ in the geopolitical machinations of bankers, oilmen and arms manufacturers, only to be shown any sympathy when the media flashes images of a dead Syrian boy washed up on a Turkish beach or people drowned at sea trying to escape turmoil at home. It is then that people like Cameron are obliged to demonstrate mock sincerity in the face of public concern.

It is not only Syrians who are heading for Europe and the UK but also people from Libya, Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere. Countries that Britain has helped to devastate as part of the US-led long war based on the Project for a New American Century and the US right to intervene unilaterally as and when it deems fit under the notion of the US ‘exceptionalism’ (better known as the project for a new imperialism – the ‘Wolfowitz Doctrine’).

Cameron said that Britain is a moral nation and would fulfil its moral responsibilities. Large sections of the population – ordinary men and women – are certainly ‘moral’ but that is unfortunately where any notion of morality seems to stop. Former British Ambassador to Uzbekistan Craig Murray has called the UK a rogue state and a danger to the world. Last year, he told a meeting at St Andrews University in Scotland that the British Government is deeply immoral and doesn’t care how many people its kills abroad if it advances it aims. Moreover, he said the UK was a state that is prepared to go to war to make a few people wealthy.

He added that Libya is now a disaster and 15,000 people were killed when NATO (British and French jets) bombed Sirte, something the BBC never told the public. Murray told his audience what many already know or suspect but what many more remain ignorant of:

I’ve seen things from the inside and the UK’s foreign interventions are almost always about resources. It is every bit as corrupt as others have indicated. It is not an academic construct, the system stinks.

Murray was a British diplomat for 20 years. But after only six months, he said that in the country where he was Ambassador, the British and the US were shipping people in order for them to be tortured and some of them were tortured to death. As far as Iraq is concerned, Murray said that he knew for certain that key British officials were fully aware that there weren’t any weapons of mass destruction. He said that invading Iraq wasn’t a mistake, it was a lie.

Back in 2011, 200 prominent African figures accused Western nations and the International Criminal Court of “subverting international law” in Libya. The UN has been misused to militarise policy, legalise military action and effect regime change, according to University of Johannesburg professor Chris Landsberg. He said it is unprecedented for the UN to have outsourced military action to NATO in this way and challenges the International Criminal Court to investigate NATO for “violating international law.” In 2015, the outcome has been to turn Africa’s most developed nation to ruins and run by armed militias fighting one another.

Is this the stability and morality Cameron preaches?

Yet for public consumption, Cameron flags up his ‘morality’ by stating that the UK would continue to take in “thousands” of refugees. But he cautions that this is not the only answer to the crisis, saying a “comprehensive solution” is required. Awash with self-righteous platitudes he hoped would drown out any hint of hypocrisy or irony, Cameron added: “We have to try and stabilise the countries from which these people are coming.”

One year ago, Cameron told the United Nations that Britain was ready to play its part in confronting “an evil against which the whole world must unite.” He also said that that “we” must not be so “frozen with fear” of repeating the mistakes of the 2003 Iraq invasion. He was attempting to drum up support for wider Anglo-US direct military action against Syria under the pretext of attacking ISIS.

At the same time, Cameron spoke of the virtues of the West’s economic freedom and democratic values as well as the horrors of extremism and terror. Cameron’s was a monologue of hypocrisy.

Over a million people have been killed via the US-led or US-backed attacks on Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria. Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, so we were told. It did not. That was a lie and hundreds of thousands have paid with their lives. We were told that Gaddafi was a tyrant. He used the nation’s oil wealth well by presiding over a country that possessed some of the best indices of social and economic well-being in Africa. Now, thanks to Western backed terror and military conflict, Libya lies in ruins and torn apart. Russia is a threat to world peace because of its actions in Ukraine, we are told. It is not. The US helped instigate the overthrow of a democratically elected government in Ukraine and has instigated provocations, sanctions and a proxy war against an emerging, confident Russia.

But how far in history should we go back to stress that the West and Cameron and his ilk have no right to take the moral high ground when it comes to peace, respect for international law, self-determination, truth or democracy? The much quoted work by historian William Blum documents the crimes, bombings, assassinations, destabilisations and wars committed by the US in country after country since 1945. And since 1945 the UK has consistently stood shoulder to shoulder with Washington.

Cameron stood at the UN and talked of the West’s values of freedom and democracy and the wonders of economic neoliberalism in an attempt to promote Western values and disguise imperialist intent. But it’s a thin disguise. The Anglo-US establishment has imposed its economic structural violence on much of the world by bankrupting economies, throwing millions into poverty and imposing ‘austerity’ and by rigging and manipulating global commodity markets and prices. Add to that the mass illegal surveillance at home and abroad, torture, drone murders, destabilisations, bombings and invasions and it becomes clear that Cameron’s ongoing eulogies to morality, freedom, humanitarianism, democracy and the ‘free’ market is hollow rhetoric.

Apart from attempting to legitimise neoliberal capitalism, this rhetoric has one purpose: it is part of the ongoing ‘psych-ops’ being waged on the public to encourage people to regard what is happening in the world – from Syria, Iraq and Ukraine to Afghanistan and Libya, etc – as a confusing, disconnected array of events (perpetuated by unhinged madmen or terror groups) that are in need of Western intervention. These events are not for one minute to be regarded by the public as the planned machinations of empire and militarism, which entail a global energy and trade war against Russia and China, the associated preservation of the petro-dollar system and the encircling and intimidation of these two states with military hardware.

Any mainstream narrative about the current migrant-refugee ‘crisis’ must steer well clear of such an analysis. Instead, we must listen to Cameron talking about the West ‘helping’ to stabilise the countries it helped to destabilise or destroy in the first place. It’s the same old story based on the same misrepresentation of imperialism: the US-led West acting as a force for good in the world and reluctantly taking up the role of ‘world policeman’.

Whether it’s the now amply financially rewarded Blair or whether it is Cameron at the political helm, the perpetual wars and perpetual deceptions continue.

Cameron plays his role well. Like Tony Blair, Cameron’s media-friendly bonhomie is slicker (and cheaper) than the most experienced used car salesman. And like Blair before him, Cameron is the media-friendly PR man who beats the drums of war (or mock sincerity, as the situation dictates), courtesy of a global power elite, who through their think tanks, institutions and financial clout ultimately determine economic policies and decide which wars are to be fought and for what purpose:

“… the Davos-attending, Gulfstream/private jet-flying, money-incrusted, megacorporation-interlocked, policy-building elites of the world, people at the absolute peak of the global power pyramid. They are 94 percent male, predominantly white, and mostly from North America and Europe. These are the people setting the agendas at the Trilateral Commission, Bilderberg Group, G-8, G-20, NATO, the World Bank, and the World Trade Organization. They are from the highest levels of finance capital, transnational corporations, the government, the military, the academy, nongovernmental organizations, spiritual leaders and other shadow elites. Shadow elites include, for instance, the deep politics of national security organizations in connection with international drug cartels, who extract 8,000 tons of opium from US war zones annually, then launder $500 billion through transnational banks, half of which are US-based.” – David Rothkopf (Project Censored ‘Exposing the transnational ruling class’)

The Rise OF Terrorism In Ukraine

Upcoming German TV Documentary Set to Expose Ukraine Volunteer Battalions Links to Arms Smuggling, Organised Crime and Islamic State
April 28, 2015StalinLivesTV
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In Midst of War, Ukraine Becomes Gateway for Jihad

By Marcin Mamon The Intercept

“OUR BROTHERS ARE there,” Khalid said when he heard I was going to Ukraine. “Buy a local SIM card when you get there, send me the number and then wait for someone to call you.”

Khalid, who uses a pseudonym, leads the Islamic State’s underground branch in Istanbul. He came from Syria to help control the flood of volunteers arriving in Turkey from all over the world, wanting to join the global jihad. Now, he wanted to put me in touch with Ruslan, a “brother” fighting with Muslims in Ukraine.

The “brothers” are members of ISIS and other underground Islamic organizations, men who have abandoned their own countries and cities. Often using pseudonyms and fake identities, they are working and fighting in the Middle East, Africa and the Caucasus, slipping across borders without visas. Some are fighting to create a new Caliphate — heaven on earth. Others — like Chechens, Kurds and Dagestanis — say they are fighting for freedom, independence and self-determination. They are on every continent, and in almost every country, and now they are in Ukraine, too.

In the West, most look at the war in Ukraine as simply a battle between Russian-backed separatists and the Ukrainian government. But the truth on the ground is now far more complex, particularly when it comes to the volunteer battalions fighting on the side of Ukraine. Ostensibly state-sanctioned, but not necessarily state-controlled, some have been supported by Ukrainian oligarchs, and others by private citizens. Less talked about, however, is the Dudayev battalion, named after the first president of Chechnya, Dzhokhar Dudayev, and founded by Isa Munayev, a Chechen commander who fought in two wars against Russia.

Ukraine is now becoming an important stop-off point for the brothers, like Ruslan.

In Ukraine, you can buy a passport and a new identity. For $15,000, a fighter receives a new name and a legal document attesting to Ukrainian citizenship. Ukraine doesn’t belong to the European Union, but it’s an easy pathway for immigration to the West. Ukrainians have few difficulties obtaining visas to neighboring Poland, where they can work on construction sites and in restaurants, filling the gap left by the millions of Poles who have left in search of work in the United Kingdom and Germany.

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You can also do business in Ukraine that’s not quite legal. You can earn easy money for the brothers fighting in the Caucasus, Syria and Afghanistan. You can “legally” acquire unregistered weapons to fight the Russian-backed separatists, and then export them by bribing corrupt Ukrainian customs officers.

“Our goal here is to get weapons, which will be sent to the Caucasus,” Ruslan, the brother who meets me first in Kiev, admits without hesitation.

WITH HIS WHITE hair and beard, Ruslan is still physically fit, even at 57. He’s been a fighter his entire adult life. Born in a small mountain village in the Caucasus, on the border between Dagestan and Chechnya, Ruslan belongs to an ethnic minority known as the Lak, who are predominantly Sunni Muslim.

The world that Ruslan inhabits — the world of the brothers — is something new. When he first became a fighter, there wasn’t any Internet or cell phones, or cameras on the street, or drones. Ruslan joined the brothers when the Soviet Union collapsed, and he went to fight for a better world, first against the Russians in Chechnya and Dagestan during the first Chechen war in the mid-1990s. He then moved to Azerbaijan, where he was eventually arrested in 2004 on suspicion of maintaining contact with al Qaeda.

Even though Ruslan admits to fighting with Islamic organizations, he claims the actual basis for the arrest in Azerbaijan — illegal possession of weapons — was false. Authorities couldn’t find anything suspicious where he was living (Ruslan was staying at the time with his “brothers” in the jihad movement) but in his wife’s home they found a single hand grenade. Ruslan was charged with illegal weapons possession and sent to prison for several years.

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In prison, he says he was tortured and deliberately housed in a cell with prisoners infected with tuberculosis. Ruslan took his case to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France, accusing the authorities in Azerbaijan of depriving him of due process. The court eventually agreed, and asked the Azerbaijani government to pay Ruslan 2,400 euros in compensation, plus another 1,000 euros for court costs.

But when Ruslan was released from prison, he didn’t want to stay in Azerbaijan, fearing he would be rearrested, or even framed for a crime and again accused of terrorism. “Some of our people disappear and are never found,” he says. “There was one brother [who disappeared], and when he was brought for burial, a card was found showing that he was one of 30 people held in detention in Russia.”
In Russia, a warrant was issued for Riuan’s arrest. Returning to his small mountain village was out of the question. If he goes back, his family will end up paying for what he does, anyhow. “They get to us through our families,” he says. He condemns those who refused to leave their own country and fight the infidels. This was the choice: either stay, or go abroad where “you can breathe freedom.”

“Man is born free,” Ruslan says. “We are slaves of God and not the slaves of people, especially those who are against their own people, and break the laws of God. There is only one law: the law of God.”

After his release from prison in Azerbaijan, Ruslan became the eternal wanderer, a rebel — and one of the brothers now in Ukraine. He came because Munayev, now head of the Dudayev battalion, decided the brothers should fight in Ukraine. “I am here today because my brother, Isa, called us and said, ‘It’s time to repay your debt,’” Ruslan says. “There was a time when the brothers from Ukraine came [to Chechnya] and fought against the common enemy, the aggressor, the occupier.”

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That debt is to Ukrainians like Oleksandr Muzychko, who became one of the brothers, even though he never converted to Islam. Muzyczko, along with other Ukrainian volunteers, joined Chechen fighters and took part in the first Chechen war against Russia. He commanded a branch of Ukrainian volunteers, called “Viking,” which fought under famed Chechen militant leader Shamil Basayev. Muzychko died last year in Ukraine under mysterious circumstances.

Ruslan has been in Ukraine for almost a year, and hasn’t seen his family since he arrived. Their last separation lasted almost seven years. He’s never had time to raise children, or even really to get to know them. Although he’s a grandfather, he only has one son — a small family by Caucasian standards, but better for him, since a smaller family costs less. His wife calls often and asks for money, but Ruslan rarely has any to give her.

I N THE 17th century, the area to the east of the Dnieper River was known as the “wilderness,” an ungoverned territory that attracted refugees, criminals and peasants — a place beyond the reach of the Russian empire. Today, this part of Ukraine plays a similar role, this time for Muslim brothers. In eastern Ukraine, the green flag of jihad flies over some of the private battalions’ bases.

For many Muslims, like Ruslan, the war in Ukraine’s Donbass region is just the next stage in the fight against the Russian empire. It doesn’t matter to them whether their ultimate goal is a Caliphate in the Middle East, or simply to have the Caucuses free of Russian influence — the brothers are united not by nation, but by a sense of community and solidarity.

But the brothers barely have the financial means for fighting or living. They are poor, and very rarely receive grants from the so-called Islamic humanitarian organizations. They must earn money for themselves, and this is usually done by force. Amber is one of the ideas Ruslan has for financing the “company of brothers” fighting in eastern Ukraine — the Dudayev battalion, which includes Muslims from several nations, Ukrainians, Georgians, and even a few Russians.

The brothers had hoped the Ukrainian authorities would appreciate their dedication and willingness to give their lives in defense of Ukrainian sovereignty, but they miscalculated. Like other branches of fighters — Aidar, Azov and Donbass — the government, for the most part, ignores them. They’re armed volunteers outside the control of Kiev, and Ukraine’s politicians also fear that one day, instead of fighting Russians in the east, the volunteers will turn on the government in Kiev. So ordinary people help the volunteers, but it’s not enough. The fighters associated with the Ukrainian nationalist Right Sector get money, cars and houses from the rich oligarchs.

Ruslan has a different plan. He’s afraid that if they begin stealing from the rich, the Ukrainian government will quickly declare their armed branch illegal. He’s decided to work in the underground economy — uncontrolled by the state — which the brothers know best.

Back in the ’90s, the amber mines in the vast forests surrounding the city of Rivne were state-owned and badly run, so residents began illegally mining; it was a chance at easy money. Soon, however, the mafia took over. For the right daily fee, miners could work and sell amber to the mafia at a fixed price: $100 per kilogram. The mafia conspired with local militia, prosecutors and the governor. That was the way business worked.

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As a result, although Ukraine officially produces 3 tons of amber annually, more than 15 tons are illegally exported to Poland each year. There, the ore is processed and sold at a substantial profit. The Rivne mines operate 24 hours a day. Hundreds of people with shovels in hand search the forest; they pay less to the mafia, but they extract less amber and earn less. The better off are those who have a water pump. Those people pump water at high pressure into the earth between the trees, until a cavity 2 to 3 meters deep forms. Amber, which is lighter than water, rises to the surface.

At one point, Ruslan disappeared in Rivne for several weeks. When he returned, he was disappointed; he’d failed to convince the local mafia to cooperate with the brothers’ fight for an independent Ukraine. But now, he has other arguments to persuade them. His men are holding up the mines, by not allowing anyone into the forest. Either the local gangsters share their profits, or no one will get paid.

Ruslan doesn’t like this job. He knows it won’t bring him any glory, and could land him in prison. He would have preferred to be among the fighters at the front lines, where everything is clear and clean. He says he can still fight, but he’s already too old to really endure the rigors of battle, even if he doesn’t want to admit it. He may still be physically fit, but fighters don’t usually last longer than a few years. Then they lose their strength and will to fight.

He has other orders from Munayev: he’s supposed to organize a “direct response group” in Kiev. The group will be a sort of rear echelon unit that take care of problems, like if someone tries to discredit the Dudayev battalion. It will also collect debts or scare off competition. There’s no doubt the new branch will work behind the lines, where there isn’t war, but there is money — as long as you know where to get it. If need be, the direct response group volunteers will watch over the mines in Rivne, or “will acquire” money from illegal casinos, which operate by the hundreds in Kiev.

Ruslan sends me photos of the group’s criminal exploits: they came into the casinos with weapons, and broke into the safes and slot machines. They disappeared quickly, and were never punished. The money went to food, uniforms, boots, tactical vests and other equipment necessary for the fighters. The mafia knows they can’t beat them at this game. The brothers are too good, because they are armed and experienced in battle. The police aren’t interested in getting involved either. In the end, it’s illegal gambling.

I told Ruslan that it’s a dangerous game. He laughed. “It’s child’s play,” he says. “We used to do this in Dagestan. No one will lift a finger. Don’t worry.”

RUSLAN FINALLY DROVE me to see his “older brother,” to Isa Munayev, and his secret base located many miles west of Donetsk. Riding in an old Chrysler that Ruslan bought in Poland, we drove for several hours, on potholed and snowy roads. Ruslan had glued to the car one of the emblems of Ukraine’s ATO, the so-called Anti-Terrorist Operation, which includes both soldiers and volunteers in the fight against separatists.

The bumper sticker allows him to drive through police traffic stops without being held up — or if he is stopped, they won’t demand bribes as they do from other drivers. The ATO sticker, Ruslan’s camouflage uniform, and a gun in his belt are enough to settle matters. Policemen salute him and wish him good luck.

He drives fast, not wanting to rest, sleep or even drink coffee. If he stops, it’s to check the compass on his belt to check the direction of Mecca. When it’s time to pray, he stops the car, turns off the engine, places his scarf in the snow and bows down to Allah.

Asked whether — after so many hardships, after so many years, and at his age, almost 60 now — he would finally like to rest, he answered indignantly, “How could I feel tired?”

There’s much more work to do, according to Ruslan. “There’s been a small result, but we will rest only when we’ve reached our goals,” he says. “I’m carrying out orders, written in the Holy Quran. ‘Listen to God, the Prophet.’ And I listen to him and do what I’m told.”

On the way into the city of Kryvyi Rih, we met with Dima, a young businessman — under 40 — but already worth some $5 million. He’s recently lost nearly $3 million from his business in Donetsk, which has been hit hard by the war. Dima worked for Igor Kolomoisky, one of the oligarchs who had been funding Ukraine’s volunteer battalions. Dima and Ruslan have only known each other for a short time. Ruslan claimed Dima owed him a lot of money, although it’s unclear from what. Ruslan kept bothering him, threatening to blackmail him. Finally, he got $20,000 from Dima.

That’s not nearly enough to support the Dudayev battalion. But Ruslan had something bigger to offer Dima: amber. Now, Dima was ready to talk. He came up with the idea to find buyers in the Persian Gulf, including wealthy sheikhs. They would like to sell an entire house of amber: furniture, stairs, floors, and inlaid stones. It only takes contacts, and Ruslan has them. The brothers from Saudi Arabia like to help the jihad in the Caucasus and the Middle East.

The next day, Ruslan was behind the wheel again. The old Chrysler barely moved, its engine overheated. A mechanic with an engineering degree and experience working in Soviet arms factories connected a plastic bottle filled with dirty water to the radiator using a rubber hose.

“I don’t know how long I’ll last,” Ruslan says suddenly. “It depends on God. I’ll probably die on this road. But I don’t have any other road to take.”

Photos: Tomasz Glowacki

Next: The Life and Death of a Chechen Commander

* At the request of the writer, “Ruslan” is identified by a pseudonym.

The material for this story is part of BROTHERS, a documentary film being developed for Germany’s broadcaster WDR – Die Story and Autentic, produced by Propellerfilm, broadcast date May 18th, 10pm (MET).

Link to article https://firstlook.org/theintercept/2015/02/26/midst-war-ukraine-becomes-gateway-europe-jihad/

TYRANT – Let’s do Arab Bashing on TV

Ray Hanania |
The Cable TV series from FX Tyrant is driven by anti-Arab racism and stereotypes. Not surprisingly, the series is produced by an Israeli who has no compunction to portray Arabs in as negative a light as possible to further libel Arab culture and their just claims against Israel. The real story of greed, betrayal, immorality and tyranny is the story of Israel that Howard Gordon would never write
I watched the FX series Tyrant out of disdain and the need to help portray its true essence of racism and stereotypes to the public.

Tyrant is one of the most racist and viciously hateful programs on American television, but that isn’t a lonely category in this country because racism, hatred, stereotypes and ethnic lies sell and make money for Hollywood.

Of course, that’s only if the subjects of the racism and hate are “minority minorities,” like Arabs and Muslims who are abused and oppressed in America.

I believe a large part of the hate portrayed on American TV is what fuels the real violence that takes place on the streets of America, not against White people, Israelis or Hollywood producers but against minorities like Arabs, Muslims, African Americans and anyone who “looks” Middle Eastern.
Hollywood is feeding on the country’s hate and it is paying off, otherwise people like Gordon would not be allowed to produce the garbage that they pass off as “good television.”

Just this week, an “American” cut-off a cab driver who “looked” Middle Eastern and Muslims, and then proceeded to beat him to a pulp in Darien, a suburb of Chicago. It turns out the victim was not Arab or Muslim, but in this America, where education means far less than it did when our forefathers started to build this country, the victim was in fact a Sikh.

The victim is Inderjit Singh Mukker, a long time American citizen and the father of two children. He was driving to a grocery store when, according to media reports, another driver began calling him racist anti-Arab and anti-Muslim names, cutting him off with his car and finally forcing Mukker to pull over. Why” Because many Americans are really stupid people. Mukker was wearing a “turbin,” and to most Americans anyone who has dark skin and covers their head has to be a terrorist. That conclusion doesn’t come from education, but rather from watching hatefully driven programs on American television where hatred is promoted and sold as a commodity for cash, praise and success.

Tyrant has everything that makes for a good program in America. It has hate. It has racism. The key actor, Ashraf Barhom, a Christian Palestinian with Israeli citizenship who was born in Galilee in Northern Israel, is a vicious tyrant with no morals and no scruples, who blames everyone else for his problems and only has second thoughts about death after the fact.

Barhom plays Jamal al-Fayeed, the eldest son of a tyrant in a country called Abu-Deen (which, when translated from Arabic means “Father of God”), so pretentious. “President Jamal al-Fayeed” is one of the most brutal of tyrants. He is a man who has no hesitation to kill everyone around him. It was natural for his personality to rape his son’s wife before the wedding, to ensure that she was a “virgin.” He tried but couldn’t kill his Americanized brother Bassam or “Barry” al-Fayeed (played by Adam Rayner) so he tossed out in the middle of the desert to allow God to kill him. Jamal even plots to kill his bastard son who was raised by Jamal’s Mother, the Queen, Amira (played by Alice Krige). But as it turns out, the mother dies instead in a roadside bombing planned through his mousy general. Jamal is accused of gassing his own people, shooting them to death on the street, and torturing them to confess to crimes they never committed.
Palestinian Israeli Christian actor Ashraf Barhom plays Jamal al-Fayeed, the vicious tyrant who rapes his daughter-in-law, plots the murder of his bastard son, and tries to kill his own brother.

This type of portrayal can only come from the black mind of an individual who has deep-seated racist issues of his own. Howard Gordon is an Israeli. He could easily have made this series about an Israeli Prime Minister who orders the murder of Palestinian activists, starts a war with Hamas just to build up public support for his government, and has no problem killing 2,200 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip including more than 500 children under the age of 18 all because he can get away with it.

In a real life adaptation of Tyrant, Benjamin Netanyahu would be the vicious tyrant, and an honest Howard Gordon would make Netanyahu to be the war criminal that he really is.

But Howard Gordon is not honest. As an Israeli, his purpose is to further disparage the Palestinians to undermine their legitimate claim to statehood, something Israelis refuse to recognize. Portraying Arabs as vicious killers feeds into the brainwashing that has been feed to the American people by Israeli propagandists and the pro-Israel mainstream media.
Because, as I said before, hate and racism sell. That is what the American news media is all about. Write a story about a Boy Scout who helps a little old lady to cross the street, and none one would by a newspaper. But tell the story of a Boy Scout who is a serial killer who massacres the grandmother, rapes her mother, and kills her babies, and the story would result in extra newspaper runs to keep up with sales to American readers.

Israel propagandists learned long ago that the media is the key to oppression. If you can control the media (news media, Hollywood films, TV and cable TV programming and serials, and even the theater) and fill it with hateful anti-Arab and anti-Muslim stereotypes, you can shield yourself from criticism of your own crimes. Israel can kill 2,200 civilians including more than 500 children under the age of 18 and not have to pay the price of public shame.

In America, the lie is what sells, not the truth. Tyrant is a lie. Tyrant is a calculated lie that spins half truths and feeds on the stereotypes that grow in this country that is based on racism and an audience that lusts for the most unimaginable and fictional cruelty.

Tyrant is not the only hateful program on television. There are so many others, including 24 and Homeland. The list really is endless. (Not surprisingly, 24 originated from the black ugly mind of Howard Gordon, too.)

They all share one common denominator. They take a morsel of truth, exaggerate the hell out of it. Focus the ugliness on a race or religion that society has been taught to hate and despise, and then make it even worse. In other words, don’t just kill people. Add a sense of inherent blood lust in the acting of the actors.

And just to add a cruel and cynical twist of irony, make the people who portray the Arabs as hateful Arabs be Arabs themselves, like Barhom, who is a phenomenal actor forced to survive in a Hollywood industry that can only create anti-Arab and anti-Muslim characters and storylines as the only garbage that they can produce.

Personally, I don’t want to produce a TV show call War Criminal, the story of Benjamin Netanyahu. Because unlike Howard Gordon, I don’t hate Israelis the way he hates Arabs and Muslims. My wife and son are Jewish and my son had his bar mitzvah last year before an audience of Jews, Arabs, Israelis and Palestinians. I believe that one day we will get away from the industry of selling racist hatred and ugly stereotypes to generate audiences and money and success.

My idea is to produce a comedy about an Arab and a Jew who are married and call it “Everyone Loves Abdullah.”

But the concept of good being sold to Americans is so unnatural that it would never survive in today’s vicious world.

I watched Tyrant, but the series made me sick. Hate sells. And the more hateful it is, the more successful it will be. That’s Howard Gordon and his despicable TV series Tyrant.

The Israeli Settler’s (Publish Children’s Book) – they really are such a charming bunch of detritus at least they are over there not here.

Settler group publishes anti-Palestinian children’s book titled ‘Occupation Shmuccupation’
Israel/Palestine
Ben Norton on September 10, 2015 36 Comments
An illustration from the book, which reads: (man on right) “Hey Jamil, need help with the olive harvest?” (man on left) “Don’t bother, why get in trouble with the left-wing organizations?” CREDIT: Shlomi Charka / YNet An illustration from the book, which reads: (man on right) “Hey Jamil, need help with the olive harvest?” (man on left) “Don’t bother, why get in trouble with the left-wing organizations?”
CREDIT: Shlomi Charka / YNet

Occupation Shmuccupation is the name of a new children’s book published by the Yesha Council, a right-wing Israeli settler organization.

The illustrated propaganda book teaches Israeli kids that “there is no such thing as the State of Palestine” and that “there is no solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

The cover of Occupation Shmuccupation CREDIT: Shlomi Charka / YNEt
The cover of Occupation Shmuccupation
CREDIT: Shlomi Charka / YNEt

It also blames “price tag” attacks—in which Israeli extremists attack Palestinians or Palestinian homes, property, and/or crops, such as olive trees—on “internal conflicts between the Arabs over land,” that is to say on Palestinians themselves.

Conservative pro-Israel publication YNet refers to Occupation Shmuccupation as a “hasbara booklet for kids.” The Hebrew word hasbara (הסברה) means public relations, and is commonly used as a euphemism for Israeli propaganda.

YNet reports:

The booklet will be distributed in community centers, universities across the country and among professionals working with teenagers. The council is also considering distributing the booklets in kindergartens, schools, and youth groups in order to reach all of the children in the area.

Right-Wing Extremist

The propaganda book attacks not just Arabs, but also what is dubs “the left-wing organizations.”

Yesha Council spokesman Yigal Dakmoni told YNet Israeli children are being given the hasbara book as a way of indoctrinating them against leftist groups.

Propaganda in books like Occupation Shmuccupation appears to be having an effect. In increasingly conservative and xenophobic Israel, “leftist” is often used as a slur, particularly among the youth.

“Israeli Teenagers: Racist and Proud of It,” an August 2014 feature in leading Israeli newspaper Haaretz, revealed that many Israeli children express violent hatred toward leftists, whom they disparagingly call “Arab lovers.”

Israeli scholars recorded young students threatening to kill Jewish Israeli leftists. In one instance, they recalled:

The same student who told Yaron that she won’t think twice if she gets the opportunity “to shoot one of them [the Arabs]” when she serves in the army, also said, “As soon as I heard about the quarrel with that leftist girl [Michal], I was ready to throw a brick at her head and kill her. In my opinion, all the leftists are Israel-haters. I personally find it very painful. Those people have no place in our country – both the Arabs and the leftists.”

‘Not Going Anywhere’

The Yesha Council has long insisted that Israel should and inevitably will refuse to withdraw from the Palestinian territories, which have been militarily occupied in contravention of international law since 1967.

In a 2012 op-ed in the New York Times, Yesha Council Chairman Dani Dayan refers to the illegally occupied West Bank as “Judea and Samaria” and avers that “our four-decade-long settlement endeavor” is both justified and wise. He implies Palestinians would be incapable of governing themselves in their own state, which would doubtless become “a hotbed of extremism” which “Israel would then be forced to recapture.”

While attacking the Israeli Left, Dayan insists it is Israel’s “inalienable” right to colonize Palestinian land. He openly states “we aim to expand the existing Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria, and create new ones.”

“The American government and its European allies should abandon this failed formula once and for all and accept that the Jewish residents of Judea and Samaria are not going anywhere,” the Yesha Council head insisted. “Our presence in all of Judea and Samaria — not just in the so-called settlement blocs — is an irreversible fact.”

“No final-status solution is imminent,” Dayan added.
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Book on Syria’s Revolution by Charles Glass (Afterword)

Could Syria’s revolution have been different?
Middle East
Charles Glass on September 10, 2015 17 Comments

Syrian anti-regime protesters carry a picture of President Assad that reads, “Leave. We don’t trust you. You will leave and we will stay because Syria is ours. Enough of injustice and killing,” during a rally in the southern suburb of Maadamiya, Damascus, Syria in July 2011.

The following is the Afterword to Charles Glass’s new book Syria Burning from Or Books. In it, Glass puts the failure of the Syria revolution into a broader historical context where the United States, with its European and Arab allies, have manipulated and subverted movements for change in the Middle East for decades. You can buy Syria Burning here.

Could Syria’s revolution have been different? At its birth in the spring of 2011, it promised hope for a better, freer life for Syria’s people. Syrian aspirations resonated with lovers of liberty everywhere: an end to governmental corruption and arbitrary arrest; an independent judiciary; a free press; equality before the law; abolition of torture; genuine elections leading to legitimate authority; and democratic institutions responsible to the governed. The state responded with arrests and violence. Dissidence evolved into war. Those who eventually captured the revolution dropped its original objectives in favor of supplanting a secular dictatorship with a dictatorial theocracy. The revolution was defeated from within, albeit with much assistance from outside powers motivated by anything but the good of the Syrian people.

Thirty-five years earlier, a coalition of progressive movements in neighboring Lebanon issued similar demands for reform. It may be helpful to recall what happened in Lebanon during a 15-year civil war that, despite an estimated 150,000 deaths and the transfer of populations into sectarian ghettos, left the corrupt antebellum system intact. In 1975, the year that Lebanon’s war erupted, there seemed nothing incongruous about a revolution led by what the French press called Islamo-progressites. The world had yet to witness the Islamic revolutions in Iran, Sudan, Libya, Egypt and Yemen. Those movements were more reactionary than progressive, less liberating than despotic. Yet, in those naïve times, progress and Islam did not seem self-contradictory. Indeed, Lebanon’s Christian parties, despite having sponsored social security and pension reform in parliament, resisted change, while Muslim militias waved the banner of revolutionary progress. It was a time when a Marxist historian, Maxime Rodinson, could write about Islam both critically and sympathetically without fear of assassination.
Revolutions that begin with the goal of liberating people from the dead weight of an oppressive past often lead to a more oppressive present. Ideals give way to expediency. Those most likely to seize control of popular forces are pitiless rather than compassionate, well financed rather than independent, more conspiratorial than collaborative. Those who trust their fellow revolutionaries suffer for it, while the victors are those who first destroy the enemies on their own side. So it was in Lebanon; so it would be in Syria.

The Palestinian commando groups that had been expelled from Jordan in 1970 took their revolution to Lebanon, where it flourished. Initially secular, democratic and socialist, the Palestinian national movement threatened the sectarian, dictatorial and pseudo-capitalist oligarchies of the Arab world more than it ever did its ostensible enemy, Israel. The rich Arab oil states, notably Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, funded nationalist Palestinians like Yasser Arafat of Al Fateh as a counterweight to the more dynamic socialist movements led by George Habash and Nayef Hawatmeh. The leaders of the Popular and Democratic Fronts for the Liberation of Palestine happened to be Christians and secularists, whose followers included more Muslims than Christians. The princes, sheikhs and mullahs of the Arabian Peninsula rejected them and their philosophy. Saudi financing enabled Arafat’s Fateh, with its incoherent ideology and tensions between its secular and Islamist adherents, to claim the leadership of all Palestinians. Al Fateh used Saudi money to dominate its rivals in the Palestinian movement and to lead the Lebanese Left to self-destruction.

The idealists who demanded structural change in Lebanon’s body politic lost ground to the partisans of sectarian identity. From seeking an end to the distribution of political spoils from the presidency down to postal clerks by sect, they demanded merely a larger share of the spoils for Muslims, specifically Sunni Muslims from outside the traditional elite that had shared power with the Maronite Christians since the state’s independence. Instead of making all Lebanese equal before the law, as the socialists had proposed, they would recalibrate the distribution of state offices to reflect changed demographics. What had been a principle surrendered to the familiar horse-trading that Lebanon had inherited from the Ottoman Empire and the French Mandate. It was barely reform, certainly not worth killing or dying for.

In the mid-1970s, the Left in Lebanon, as in Chile and other countries where popular movements challenged oligarchies dependent on the United States, met overwhelming external resistance. The US approved Saudi Arabia’s policy of co-opting and taming the Palestinian revolution and, with it, Lebanon’s National Movement. Saudi Arabia would go on to fund opposition to social change as far afield as Nicaragua, Afghanistan and, most recently, Syria.

As well as bolstering nationalist opposition to socialism, Saudi Arabia used the Islamists to undercut nationalism. Islamic revanchist movements funded by Saudi Arabia’s oil wealth resisted economic and social reform in Gamal Abdel Nasser’s Egypt in the 1950s and opposed education for women in Syria 20 years later. In Lebanon, they failed to represent the most impoverished segment of society, the Shiite Muslim peasantry whom Israel in its military onslaught against the Palestinians was exiling to the shanty towns of Beirut’s southern outskirts.

Arab nationalism, with its commitment to equality among Muslims, Christians and Jews, died in the Arab versus Arab bloodletting on the streets of Beirut in the 1970s. One motivating idea remained: Islam in political forms dictated by Saudi Arabia for the Sunnis and by Iran, after its 1979 revolution, for the Shiites. A political division within Islam that had lain dormant for centuries would torment Lebanon, Iraq, Yemen, Bahrain, Syria and the eastern province of Saudi Arabia.

In the spring of 1976, the western half of Beirut was infected with the revolutionary ethos that saw the rich, like Italians fearful of the Brigate Rosse in the same era, hiding their jewelry and luxury cars from the envious glare of a roused proletariat. There were echoes of Orwell’s Catalonia in both the idealism of young zealots and the cynicism of power-hungry aspiring dictators. The US Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger, recognized the threat to American dominance, as he did in so many other countries, and fashioned a solution in the form of a Syrian invasion to protect the embattled old guard and control the excesses of the Palestinian-Lebanese rebels. The revolution died, but the war raged for another 14 years. The war ended, but only after two Israeli invasions and countless massacres. Foreign powers imposed a settlement at a conference in Taif, Saudi Arabia, in October 1989. By then, most Lebanese were willing to accept any outcome that allowed them to drive to work without fear of snipers, car bombs, artillery or kidnapping.

Lebanon, like Syria, saw democratic, secular dreams vanish into a sectarian maelstrom that ravaged the country and left it vulnerable to foreign invasion and local brutality. Yes, Lebanon’s old system encouraged corruption. Yes, there was injustice. Yes, a majority suffered from inequalities. Yet changing the system was no excuse to shred the fabric of a society that, for all its flaws, was tolerant of different creeds and political beliefs. Two revolutions perished in Lebanon, the Palestinian and the Lebanese. Security became more important than freedom, if only because so much freedom permitted the anarchic rule of kidnappers, gangsters, drug dealers, gun runners and fanatics. In the absence of central authority, the only states on Lebanon’s borders, Syria and Israel, occupied different halves of the country. The only militia to survive the war as an armed force was Hezballah, a sectarian grouping of religious Shiite Muslims that represents Iran and the perpetuation of sectarian politics in Lebanon.

One way to view the fanatic Islamicization of the Syrian revolution after 2011 is that it was the inevitable form of a rebellion inspired and financed by Saudi Wahhabism that sought not democracy but the elimination of rule by Alawite “infidels.” Another is that fratricidal violence marginalizes moderation, renders compromise impossible and pushes forward the most brutal actors. What was more surprising than the rise of fanatics within the revolution was that such disparate opposition forces had found any common ground at all. Like the leftists opposed to the Shah of Iran in 1979, Syria’s democrats saw their Islamist allies dispose of them and their beliefs when they were no longer needed. If the regime fell, the victors would replace it with a theocratic dictatorship that would purge the country of its diversity, its minorities, its dissidents and its tolerance.

The Syrian revolution lacked strategic vision because it began without any objective beyond reforming or replacing a regime that had nurtured as many allies as enemies. Too many rebel leaders sold themselves, as most Palestinian leaders did, to external paymasters for any one of them to establish popular, unifying credentials. Hundreds of armed groups came into being, sponsored by the United States, Britain, France, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey. The regime, which had almost 50 years to perfect mechanisms of control, played its cards better than rebels with no experience of government, no roots in social work and little experience of combat. Fighters with battle scars from Chechnya, Bosnia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Algeria and Libya dominated the rebel side of battlefield. When they trod across the border into Iraq and threatened American interests, the Obama administration responded with air strikes. Yet it did not admit it was wrong about Syria, the strength of the regime or the relative strength of fanaticism within the opposition. That would have meant admitting it was wrong to assume the regime was so unpopular and weak it would fall with a small push before the opposition turned from early reformist demands to radical Islamism.

Robert Ford, the former US ambassador to Syria who had championed the revolution and encouraged its militarization, was a rare official who admitted that the policy he had espoused was mistaken. He told a conference in Washington in January 2015, after nearly 200,000 Syrian deaths and the displacement of a third of the population, “The people we have backed have not been strong enough to hold their ground against the Nusra Front.” If the US could not achieve its goals in Syria, he added, “then we have to just walk away and say there’s nothing we can do about Syria.” This is rich coming from an ambassador whose policies helped to create the fanatic groups controlling large regions of Syria and Iraq. To America’s policymaking adolescents, the world is a plaything to abandon when it breaks.

The rebels, using weapons made in America, paid for by Saudi Arabia and funneled through Turkey, imposed a vision of society that took no account of Syrian diversity and mutual respect among its peoples. Syria, as history records, welcomed the Armenian victims of Turkey’s genocide after the First World War and had long been home to heterodox forms of Islam. The goal of the self-proclaimed Islamic State and Jebhat an-Nusra was to make Syria something it never was: an extension of Saudi Arabia. No one heeded Nietzsche’s warning, quoted early in the revolution by Masalit Mati, writer of the satirical, anti-Assad Top Goon puppet show: “Be careful when you fight the monsters, lest you become one.”

The United States, with its European and Arab allies, had its own purposes in Syria. It strains belief that the US, Saudi Arabia and Qatar opposed Bashar al-Assad because he was a dictator or because his cousins were taking the lion’s share of the country’s wealth. The countries that crushed popular dissent against the royal family in Bahrain could not claim to believe in democracy for any Arab country. The US opposed Assad, as did the Saudis and Qataris, because he would not relinquish the alliance with Iran that gave him a strategic asset against Israel. Israel had occupied part of Syria since 1967 and showed no sign of relinquishing its hold or permitting the exiled inhabitants and their descendants to return. The Arab monarchies, which had sought to dominate Syria since it achieved independence from France in 1946, saw in Iran an adversary for control of Syria and, through Hezballah, Lebanon. To remove Assad was to eliminate Iranian influence in the Arab world.

In the midst of the Syrian war and despite Israel’s desire to humiliate Iran, the US opened a door to the regime in Tehran. Negotiations to regulate the Iranian nuclear program improved relations between the longtime adversaries. As American business scented an opportunity to return to the lucrative Iranian market, the raison d’être for America to eliminate Iran’s only Arab ally evaporated. US policy in Syria has floundered ever since.

Hopes for a negotiated end to the war receded with the deterioration in America’s relationship with Vladimir Putin’s Russia, Assad’s only ally apart from Iran and the regime in Baghdad, over Ukraine and the eastern expansion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). The US, Russia, the Syrian regime and much of the Syrian opposition came to Geneva in January 2014 with no plan, no inclination to end Syrian agony and no purpose other than pushing their own goals to the detriment of a population that was enduring the daily reality of death, maiming, exodus and oppression from both camps. The dominant force in the Syrian revolution proclaimed itself a caliphate, beheaded innocent prisoners, raped and enslaved women, hurled young men from towers because of their sexual preferences and burned alive a young Jordanian soldier who fought for his country. This is where superpower, Turkish and Arab policies have led. Where will they take Syria next?
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Despite millions of US displaced refugees flooding Europe EU nations still permit US troops to be stationed in Europe

Millions of refugees have crossed into Europe in the last five years from Middle East and Africa. Starting from 2011 in Libya, the United States dropped bombs in order to replace Muammar Gaddafi. Since then the chaos has not stopped from escalating, wrote US author Eric Zuesse.

The American-sponsored bombing campaign has been creating terror in many countries in the last few years, more recently, in eastern Ukraine which has led to refugees escaping to Europe. The current war in Syria also has its roots starting in Washington, analyst Eric Zuesse believes.

And yet, despite millions of US-displaced refugees flooding into Europe, European nations still permit US troops to remain stationed on European soil.

“The current refugee-crisis was, in fact, caused by America’s continuing obsession to destroy Russia — an obsession that the EU goes along with, and now suffers greatly from, not only because of loss of their Russian trading-partner, but because of the influx into Europe of millions of refugees that were displaced by this New Cold War,” Zuesse wrote for the Strategic Culture Foundation.

Sirte was once home to Libya’s former dictator Muammar Gaddafi before he was killed by a NATO-led rebellion in 2011.
© FLICKR/ THIERRY EHRMANN

Western Legacy in Libya Leaves a Hole Filled by Migrants Fleeing for Europe

He further explained that the crisis was not caused by Russia’s defensive measures against an increasingly aggressive NATO. It was caused by US aggressions, which the EU continues to ratify.The analyst refers to the investigative journalist Christof Lehmann who published an investigative piece on 7 October, 2013, at his MSNBC news site, “Top US and Saudi Officials responsible for Chemical Weapons in Syria,” and he opened:

“Evidence leads directly to the White House, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey, CIA Director John Brennan, Saudi Intelligence Chief Prince Bandar, and Saudi Arabia´s Interior Ministry,” The US has been allied with the Saudi royal family since 1945.

Lehmann said that the chemical-weapons attack “in the Eastern Ghouta Suburb of Damascus on 21 August 2013,” which attack US President Barack Obama was citing as his reason for planning to bring down Syria’s pro-Russian dictator, Bashar al-Assad, whom Obama was blaming for the chemical attack.

Fake Anti-ISIL War: US-Led Coalition Wants to Topple Syrian Government

However, much like another great investigative journalist Seymour Hersh subsequently reported (using different sources) in the London Review of Books on 17 April 2014, Lehmann’s even-earlier investigation found that the US had set up the chemical attack, and that it was actually carried out by Islamic jihadists that the US itself was supplying in Syria, through Turkey. Lehmann reported:“After the defeat of the predominantly Qatar-backed Muslim Brotherhood and Free Syrian Army (FSA) forces, which were reinforced by Libyans in June and July 2012, the US —Saudi Axis was strengthened. Uncooperative Qatari-led brigades which rejected the new command structure had to be removed. The influx of Salafi-Wahhabbi fighters to Syria was documented by the International Crisis Group in their report titled ‘Tentative Jihad.’”

Hersh’s report added to Lehmann’s, a powerful confirmation by British intelligence, which found that the source of the chemical-weapons attack couldn’t possibly have been Assad’s forces.

“Journalist John Pilger provided the best summary description of the horrific and intentional catastrophe that Obama and his Secretary of State Hillary Clinton perpetrated upon the Libyan people,” Zuesse wrote.

The international war crimes that have been done by US together with the Saudi and other Arabic royal families have resulted in the massive influx of refugees into Europe.

The decision that the EU leaders have made in relation to supporting US in their war crimes have resulted in the current crisis.

Germany’s own leader, Merkel is complicit in helping to cause the surge of Syrians who are trying to find safe haven in Germany and other European countries, Global Research reported.

The European public suffers much from them. Europe is being destroyed by them — by US agents. Why are there not enormous public displays in the EU against America, instead of against the refugees, etc.?

Real compassion for those refugees would be a demand to get the US out of the EU, concluded Zuesse.