Monthly News Review: December 2015
Afghanistan… a country that used to be secular, civilised and appear from the outside at least a reasonable place to live, look at pictures of it in the seventies and you will see women dressed “normally”, relatively modern infrastructure and a country that could easily have become a modern state by now alongside any other proud modern country. In the 70’s the country was pro Russia and had a pro Russian government which isn’t unreasonable considering the Soviet Union was its neighbour, who knows the truth of who did what to who but the short story is something like this: The Afghan government waged a war with the Islamsists inside Afghanistan, the Islamists receieved support from the USA because the Afghan government were allied to the Russians. The Russians came into Afghanistan to help the government fight the Islamists and spent nine years there fighting the Islamists who were being backed by a western coalition. In the end the Russians withdrew, the Islamists won and the Taliban took control of of Afghanistan. The Islamists were supported by the USA, UK and Saudi Arabia amongst others.
Afghani women in the 70’s
Kabul in the 70’s
Another picture of Afghani women in the 70’s
A market in Kabul in 2013
Afghani women now.
It doesnt get much more extreme than this with regard to interpretations of Islam, In Afghanistan, the Taliban follow the Saudi Wahhabi version of Islam, the same ideology we can see in all the extremist Islamist terrorist groups where women are objects to be abused in any manner that can be facilitated by the religous law makers who derive their laws from their interpretaions of the Quran. A quick sidenote, just because a women wears western style dress, this doesn’t make her free, there are a mulititude of prisons for the mind and fashion is certainly one of them, but its clear to see that in one picture we have an example of women with the freedom to choose and in the other there is no freedom to choose.
So here we are, some 14 years after the USA invaded Afghanistan to hunt down Osama Bin Laden, the Saudi mastermind of the September 11 twin tower attacks and the leader of Al Qaeda. Bin Laden was being harboured by the Taliban whom the USA originally funded to take power to prevent the expansion of Soviet influence. Afghanistan as a country is devastated, its civilisation is living in perpetual war whether it be internal or an invader, most of its infrastructure is smashed or none existent and many of its people are burdened with an ideology that sets them back to an age of barbarism and savagry. It has been very sucessfull however at growing vast quatities of heroin in recent years since the US has been in control, there are countless addicts inside Afghanistan and the heroine is also exported en mass to Europe and around the world to fuel addictions and destroy lives. There are some in Afghanistan who testify that the drug trade is in a fact a western covert operation.
The US, despite declaring its combat operations are over still has 9800 troops in Afghanistan and plans to reduce that number to 5500 in early 2017. It has handed over the security of Afghanistan to the Afghan government who is supposedly in charge now and capable of handling its internal affairs. The coalition troops are there to act in an advisory and training capacity. Obama himself stated, “While America’s combat mission in Afghanistan may be over, our commitment to Afghanistan and its people endures,”. Its clear to see how much The US government cares for the Afghan people and has done ever since it financed Islamist extremists into power there. The people of Afghanistan must be very grateful to the US and its interventions over the last 30 years, perhaps they could offer Obama and his family citizenship and one of those nice holiday villas in downtown Kabul that are very poular with tourists, I hear Afghanistan is real nice these days. So whats the point of this article other than to highlight another country that has been devasted to nothing but rubble as a consequence of the West’s intervention. In recent months the Taliban has been making a significant comeback and is recapturing land in Afghanistan fast.
This map was formulated in 2015 and the Taliban have been advancing since then, in particular in Helmand province in the South where much of the poppy fields are. On December 8th there was a major Taliban attack on a residential compound in Kandahar military airport, it began at 6.20am when up to ten armed militants wearing military uniform, with suicide vests, small arms and rocket launchers stormed the airport and took hostages, presumably the families of the military personal who are stationed at the base. There are varying reports of casualties but according to Al Jazeera who report they spoke to hospital staff, there were around 70 deaths and 30 or more injuries, women and children were among the dead in addition to many shop keepers who operate stores inside the base and were caught in the cross fire. The armed men were killed after a major gun battle which ended around 11.ooam, security to the airport was then restored. Just another day of death and horror in Afghanistan.
Since the war began in Afghanistan in 2001, there have been (according to Wiki – which is not always accurate or truthful) 26 000 civilian deaths, 29 000 civilians wounded and a further 360 000 who have died as an indirect consequence of war. They weren’t shot or bombed but died because of the war which could be any one of countless possibilities. There have been 3400 coalition military deaths and over 25 000 wounded in Afghanistan. According to the Department of Veterans Affairs in a 2013 report, 22 US veterans commit suicide every day as a result of their experiences in the war in Afghanistan and Iraq.
If the Taliban manage to regain control of Afghanistan we will be in the same position that we were prior to 2001, well what can one say. Perhaps that outcome is unlikely as the western coalition will just send in more troops, but one thing is for certain, the Taliban are here and they are not weak, so what has this operation achaeived? As a citizen of the world, I can tell you one thing for certain, there is a lot more terrorism in the world today than there was in 2001. If only it would be the politicians and their families fighting and dieing on the front line then you could be sure the course of history would be different. “Operation Enduring Freedom” they called it, with a name like that what could go wrong? Well at least the public relations department could do their job properly.
Having felt justified in shooting down a Russian bomber jet that was allegedley in Turkish territory for no more than a few seconds, thats if you even beleive the Turkish version of events, and thats a big ask in itself, what would the Turkish authorities expect the Iraqi reaction to be when in early December the Turkish government decided to send without invitation, 25 tanks and 100’s of troops to reinforce inside Kurdish held territory, the Turkish base Camp Zalikan in Bashiqa, only a dozen or so miles from Mosul held by Islamic State in Northern Iraq.
The Turks claim that they are sending this equipment to train and reinforce the Kurdish position, however they decided to do this without permission from the Iraqi government. If the Iraqi government were to approach this in the same manner that the Turkish government approached the supposed minor breach of airspace by the Russian jet then surely we would be witness to a major incident, perhaps a ballistic missile being launched onto the Turkish camp would be in order? This might have happened if it wasnt for a couple of small inconvenient factors, Iraq has its hands very full right now with its battle against Islamic State and Turkey is a NATO member so any attack on Turkish troops can potentially be a major issue, in addition, Turkey wouldn’t act like this without approval of its puppet master the US. In any case, we can bear witness to incredible double standards by a NATO member, it isnt the first time and it surely won’t be the last.
The Iraqi governent and Prime Minister protested this action and threatened to raise it at the United Nations Security Council in addition to threating to use force if the situation doesnt change. The initial reaction from Erdogan and the Turkish government was they wern’t going anywhere and in any case the Iraqi government had actually been in agreement to these events and it should be no surprise. Erdogan and his government really are capable of saying and doing anything, no matter how much of a bare faced lie or outragous an action it might be, but then thats pretty normal for governments it seems.
The situation dragged on for a couple of weeks and then the Turkish troops began to withdraw along with the tanks. There are still howere a considerbale number of Turkish troops at the base but thats pretty much how it was before the incursion which presumably is what the Iraqi government had agreed to.
Not only do we see hypocrisy to its extreme in this scenario, it raises a couple of other questions. The Kurds are an ethnic group that are spread across south eastern Turkey, northern Iraq and Syria and also into northern Iran. The Turkish government is currently engaged in a war on the PKK which is the militant arm of the Kurds in the south east of Turkey. The Kurds in the diferrent countries, one would assume are all friends at a political level as they are one and the same ethnic group that ultimately wants to create its own country called Kurdistan? So how does it come to pass that Turkey can wage war on Kurdish communites in their fight against the PKK in Turkey yet roll on into northern Iraq with 25 tanks and 100’s of troops to help their Kurdish friends out? How does this fit together? Despite the Turkish governments brutal oppression on anything anti governement, there are still brave organisations willing to risk jail to speak out, one such media outlet called Ulusal Canal has long frank discusiions regarding Turkish and International politics. They speculate that Erdogan and the PKK are in fact at the highest levels alligned and that the war in Turkey is a front that is being waged to facilitate the creation of Kurdistan. This would help make sense of some of the apparent contradictories and would definately be more in line with the what many think is the plan of the zionist international financiers, the group that controls the US, UK, Israel, France, Germany and much of the world.
Another curious element to this is the location of the camp, its only a very short distance from the city of Mosul which is held by Islamic State, Turkey and IS are supposed to be at war according to the Turkish government and western press. So how is it that there haven’t at the very least been minor scuffles beween the two opposing forces. According to an Iraqi MP who spoke to RT, the member of parliament spoke of how videos were presented to the Iraqi parliament showing the Turkish forces and Islamic State together with no exchange of fire. This only further reinfoces the accusation that one of Islamic State’s main sponsors is in fact Turkey. We have satelite imagery of IS oil tankers being driven to Turkey for the oil to be sold, we have testimony from captured IS fighters that they trained in Turkey and received Turkish support, MIT (Turkish intelligence) trucks laden with weapons bounds for Syria were stopped, searched and filmed with the footage then handed to the media. The Prosecutors who ordered the stop have been dismissed, the army generals involved in doing the seach and the reporters who reported the story have been prosecuted for crimes against the state. We also have the discovery of Turkish goods and food stuffs in terrorist dens when they have been over run by government forces. All the arrows point in the same direction. Turkey is a NATO member and would not be acting without the approval of its coalition partners, therefore this means the US and its western partners are aware of whats happening.
On December 6th, Venezuela held its 4th parliamentary elections since the constitution was changed following Chavez’s political victory and becoming elected as president in 1999. For the first time since then, the right wing pro privatisation party “Mesa de la Unidad Democrática” (Democratic Unity Roundtable) or MUD won a majority in the house delaing a major blow to the socialists and Chavez’s successor Maduro. MUD is an opposition coalition formed to fight the socialist government which has been in power since 1999. MUD claimed 109 of the 164 seats available in parliament
Venezuala has a very polarised society, there are very large oil reserves, in fact officially its now the largest oil reserve in the world, surpassing even Saudi Arabia. These reserves used to make a certain section of society very wealthy, and still do, meanwhile there were huge numbers of impoverished people. For decades prior to the socialist revolution of 1999, the rich, as they like to do, took all the wealth of the country for themselves and millions of poor people didn’t even get to pick the crumbs off the table. As you would expect, the United States was closely connected to the oil producers of Venezuela, making sure they got a good deal no doubt. However, after Chavez came to power, Chavez, the cruel and vicious man that he was, had an urge to share the wealth of the country with all the poor people, a bit like Robin Hood you might say, he took from the rich and gave to the poor. He ensured the country, rather than the private business, benefited more from its oil income and in return he built houses, hospitals, health centres and schools. He subsidised basic foods so that poor people would always be able to afford the basic food stuffs, he printed on the back of food packets laws on human rights and civil rights so that the poor could better understand their rights and what they were entitled to. He gave hope to millions, he lifted them out of poverty and gave them healthcare and literacy. Of course there is still poverty and violence and other social ills but there was a mammoth task and they were on the right track, the right track that is if you have a sense of decency towards your fellow man. Rich people don’t like sharing very much, unless they can enhance their status from it, then they are quite good at it. So when Chavez took some of their sweeties away from them they got very angry, so they spoke to all their rich friends who own the television companies and the newspapers and any other organisation that can damage Chavez and the campaign to destroy Chavez was waged against him. They also liased with their friends in the United States who were also quite unhappy becasue they werent getting the good deals anymore and not to mention are opposed to a socialist ideology. When it comes to oil, the United States like to be the first in the queue, otherwise your going to get some democracy pushed in your face, hard.
So the CIA in conjuction with the Venezuelan business elites hatched a plan to force Chavez from power, they arranged an anti Chavez protest march which at the last minute was directed toward the presidential palace, where there was another march where there were pro Chavez protesters. As the anti Chavez protesters got closer to the presidential palace many protesters were shot dead by sniper fire (Maidan, Ukraine??). Later on, the media that colluded with the coup attempt edited footage of Chavez protesters shooting off a bridge so that it appeared the Chavez supporters were firing on the anti Chavez protesters, however the Chavez supporters were hiding from the unknown snipers and footage later released shows that they weren’t firing on any anti Chavez supporters but rather trying to defend themselves from the hidden snipers. Within hours, treachourous military chiefs who were part of the coup attempt came on television to blame Chavez for the killings. Chavez was arrested by renegade army soldiers and whisked away to what he thought would be his execution having refused to resign. The next day, a businessman, Pedro Carmona, who has all the look af a slick suit that smells his money before he goes to bed was sworn in as the countries president to rapturous applause from all the Venezuelan fatcats and the whole thing was televised just to rub it in the faces of the poor as they watched their only hope of a better life get flushed down the toilet.
The elites and the coup participants didnt count on one thing though in their well thought out plot in which they murdered their own supporters. Hundreds of thousands of poor people descended from the shanty towns and surrounded the presidential palace to demand the return of their president, with such overwhelming people power the army decided to react, in favour of the people, the presidential guard retook the presidential palace and Chavez was reinstated and led the country of Venezueal until he died of cancer in March 2013.
After Chavez’s death, Maduro, who was Chavez’s close ally took the reigns of office after narrowly wining presidential elections and has been Venezuelan president ever since. However, he too has had to face the right wing business elite opposition who fight their war against him on all fronts. Maduro claims they have waged an economic war on Venezuela, essientialy making life hard financially for Venezuelan citizens and damaging the economy so that in turn the citizens would blame it on the government and become disenfranchised, like before with Chavez there are major news networks and media instiututions that continuosly try to undermine the socialists in an attempt to return ownership of the country to the priveleged few and away from a government that represents a majority. Its been a long time since 1999, and one might argue that any healthy democracy should see a change of government in that time. There are many voters of age in Venezuela who wont rememeber the times before 1999 or were even very familiar with the coup of 2002. If the right wing parties can secure enough power they will reverse as much as they can that Chavez acheived and there may be no coming back after that, Chavez was a one off, you cant count on him turning up again when you find yourself in the gutter. The busines, finance and right wing government elites are merciless and without empathy, and this applies in any country, the common man is nothing but cattle to be driven in any manner they see fit.
In early January the Venezuelan courts have accepted a challenge to the election results in some areas due to corruption and fraudelent voting practices, it remains to be seen whether a new election in these areas will take place.
John Pilger’s War on Democracy which looks closely at the coup attempt of 2002.
Below is a link to the BBC’s coverage of the election, their headline in conjuction with their use of language and imagery in their video makes it pretty clear they are anti Chavez/Maduro, with comments like “seized control” when he won an election in 1999. Its peculiar when you consider that the BBC is about a far removed from capitalism as possible, it is funded by UK citizens who are forced by law to buy a “TV licence”, this TV license is what funds, and only funds the BBC. Quite a socialist concept, everyone coming together to pay for a service shared by all. The only problem with it is it is forced by law whether you support the BBC or not, if this was a Russian media outlet the BBC would be calling it a state run propoganda channel, amusing really because thats exactly what the BBC has become. To add further hilarity to the BBC’s hypocritical position, if it were forced to fund itself, through advertising or subscription, like other channels, it would probably collapse, and here it is, quietly cheering for a right wing privatisation party.
In August 2013, David Cameron’s conservative government attempted to pass a bill that would enable the UK to launch air strikes on President Assad’s government in Syria. This was well in line with the objective of the Syrian war which has always been and still is no doubt, and that is to remove President Assad from power. Thankfuly this failed, not just for Assad, but for the Syrian people. What would have happened if that vote was passed and it resulted in the collapse of the Syrian governemt? Most likely the same thing that happened in Libya, it becomes a major hotbed for Islamic Wahhabi extremism and butchery but a great deal worse. One might say that is already the case in Syria, which is true for parts of the country, should the government fall, it would be nationwide within weeks, the Islamic extremists (of many different nationalities) are in their tens of thousands in Syria already, much more than were in Libya at the time of Gaddafis fall. David Cameron thought it would have been a good idea to assist extremist Islamic Terroists in their battle against Assad and to prevent further uses of chemical weapon attacks by Assad’s government on innocent civilians. Whenever they want to go to war, they always justify it by claiming they are going to save somebody, which makes their war always seem so just and heroic, and much easier to sell. As Cameron would have well known, the use of chemical weapons by Assad are almost certainly fabrications by the west to garner support for an invasion, it is in fact more than likely, that it was the so called rebels who used the chemical weapons. Fortunately, even the UK parliament had enough common sense about them to vote against the air strikes albeit by a small margin, even then, for many MP’s, it was because of overwhelming public support against the idea, not because they were concerned about what the devastating consequences might be.
In December 2015, David Cameron had a change of heart, he was still determined to drop some bombs on Syria, the UK was already bombing Iraq so it made sense to bomb Syria, you could bomb Syria on the way back from Iraq, it doesnt even require a seperate mission. This time however he wanted to target Islamic State and not the Assad “regime”. The debate in Parliament went on for some hours, with Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the labour party making quite clear his objections. However, Jeremy didn’t force what was called the party whip where all the members of a party have to vote the same way as the leader, the members were allowed to vote whichever way they chose. The conservatives don’t need the party whip on a war vote, the right wing conservatives need absaloutly no encouragement to vote for a war. In particular, we saw Hilary Benn, son of the famous deceased tradiional left wing Tony Benn give a passionate speach of how the UK must do it’s bit and join the bombing coalition. His father probably turned in his grave a few times when his son spoke, the conservatives were very proud of Hilary though.
We also heard David Cameron give reasons why our bombing campaign isnt going to be just be some fruitless mission of destruction that only serves the military industrial complex and our US partners, Cameron claimed there were 70 000 moderate rebels just sitting idling by waiting for some one to come along and give them air support so that they could go fight Islamic State and put an end to this terrible evil once and for all. Or at least, thats the picture he painted. So, fairly predictably, the vote to bomb Syria was successful and the UK began its bombing missions in Syria the next day.
In the UK parliament they ignored an important point. Russia is in control in Syria now, they have the most modern air defense network set up, they have the most modern electrical warfare systems set up that can block out comms and radar, they have over 50 jets of several different variants, some of which are the best military jets available to mankind. They have warships in the Mediterranean and Caspian sea that are also providing air defense and cruise missile capability. The Russians are also using long range strategic bombers dropping cruise missiles from high altitutude. The Russiam Airforce in support of the Syrian Arab Army is now making very good progress against all terrorist groups who share the Saudi Wahhabi ideology which includes Islamic State and Al Nusra front amongst others. The reality on the ground is the Syrian Arab Army and its militias and Hezbollah, accompanied by the Russian Air Force are wiping out the terrorists. The job is already being done, the UK doesn’t need to get involved. The only new outcome from getting involved is that the UK is now a potential revenge terrorist target, although that is already the case without being in Syria. Yet for some reason in all the latest terror attacks the terrorists seem to site Syria as their reason for attacking, therfore the UK has increased its potential as a target for terrorist attack. A fact that surely isnt lost on the government and may well prove useful as catalyst for a ground invasion if that happens.
The UK has neither the volume of equipment or number of soldiers to make a significant or meaningful difference on the world stage anymore. Of course it can still have an impact but like all things it’s relative, and compared to the major players, the UK’s forces are a little way down the pecking order. This is reflected in the fact that the UK’s contribution to the bombing in Syria is 10 Tornado bomber jets, (that are about 30 years old) which receive air support from a handfull of Typhoons which are in fact modern aircraft. In recent wargames between the Indian Airforce and the RAF, the Indians who were flying modern Russian Jets and the RAF the Typhoons of course, the RAF lost 11- 0. So essentially in the end, after much debate, the difference it will make isnt a great deal when you consider how many jets are already flying over Syria. Then there is the question of what targets they will be targeting, no doubt they will get targerts from the United States and there is a massive question mark over the US strategy in Syria and whether they are actually tring to defeat IS or merely contain and direct it in a manner that suits them, using IS as a battering ram against Assad in effect.
Sure enough the figure of 70000 rebels was just public relations fantasy cooked up by some spin doctor to make everyone feel like bombing would achieve something and convince them to vote for war. The government and British press have also made a big issue out of the “Brimstone” laser guided Missile, another one of the pro war campaigners unique selling propositions. They explain that this bomb is very accurate and powerfull which means it kills all the bad guys and doesnt hurt any civilians, marvellous. As if the US or Russia aren’t already using bombs of equal precision and power already? Yet somehow this made everyone in the UK feel like its all going to be worth it. The Brimstones cost over £100,000 per missile, why doesn’t war suffer from austerity?
Perhaps whats of greater concern is if this UK involvement in Syria is part of some wider plan, we know that the west cant wait to train its crosshairs on Assad, and so far has been doing it through its proxy fighters in the form of terrorists, however, their options are much reduced now since Russia’s intervention and unless there is a drastic change of strategy one would expect the west to begin engineering a way to get boots on the ground in Syria. We are already hearing statements that are heading in that direction from various political corners, time will tell. In the meantime one can only hope Syria can be restored back to a functioning state, the terrorists destroyed, the refugees return to their homes and Syrians can start rebuilding their shattered country.