– Syria ceasefire: a plan for more war
– Justice for K Murleedharan (Ajith)!
(AWTWNS 12 September 2016)

This AWTWNS news packet for the week of 12 September 2016 contains two articles. They may be reproduced or used in any way, in whole or in part, as long as they are credited.

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Syria ceasefire: a plan for more war

12 September 2016. A World to Win News Service. If ever a country needed an end to a war, it is Syria, so ravaged that its domestic population has dropped from 22 to 17 million in a few years, with more than a quarter of a million dead, the rest forced abroad. But whether the cease-fire in Syria that began 12 September holds or not, it is unlikely to bring peace. In fact, that is not the purpose.

The most basic facts should make that plain. The cease-fire was arranged by the U.S. and Russia, with the backing of the UK, France, Turkey (which recently sent in a tank task force to carve out its own piece of Syria) and apparently Iran. These are precisely the powers whose intervention fuelled the Syrian civil war to the murderous level it has reached today.

The conflict over Syria, especially in terms of the U.S. and Russia, but also Turkey, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Qatar – and France and the UK, never entirely in synch with their U.S. rival/partners – has never been simply over Syria itself but is part of much wider regional rivalries. None of these powers has given up the reactionary strategic goals and rivalry that have driven their criminal conduct so far. While they seem to have reached an agreement, for now, maybe, each of them is seeking to further those goals through this agreement and beyond – through diplomacy and war, one after the other or simultaneously, as developments require.

Whether or not the agreement works, the measures it explicitly spells out would actually facilitate even more foreign military intervention. The plan calls for a week-long ceasefire, to be followed by a phase in which the U.S. and Russia would set up a joint military command to coordinate and step up an air war against the specific Islamist groups said to be this agreement’s target, Daesh (also called the Islamic State or ISIS) and Jabhat Fatah al-Shams, formerly known as al-Nusra. Just look at the photos of dead and wounded children we’ve had to look at for the last few weeks. The last thing the Syrian people need is more bombing. Although both the U.S. and Russia claim that their air attacks kill few or no civilians, each has exposed the other as a liar.

It’s extremely telling that the Syrian army would be largely sidelined by this agreement, since toppling or defending Assad was the pretext for the U.S. and Russia’s role in the carnage. While the Assad regime is a vicious enemy of the Syrian people, U.S. and Russian intervention has never been most basically for or against Assad, but part of a many-sided and inhuman brawl over who is going to dominate Syria and, just as importantly, deny that domination to its rivals.

A 5 July statement by Amnesty International explains the course of this civil war, speaking specifically of Aleppo (Syria’s largest city) and Idleb (in the northwest), but taking these two cities as “an informative case study”: “After pro-reform protests that started in Syria in early 2011 grew in scale and frequency there, Syrian government forces responded by attacking protesters, as they did elsewhere, with live ammunition. As a result, in 2012 armed opposition groups were formed in both governates  with the purpose of expelling government forces. Some of these groups, composed predominantly of Syrian nationals, gained increasing control of large area of Allepo city, Idleb city and surrounding areas between 2012 and 2015, and have remained in power there today with the support of governments such as Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the USA. In doing so, they set up administrative and quasi-judicial institutions. Residents in Aleppo and Idleb governates at first celebrated the effective end of Syrian government rule, hoping that the armed opposition groups would implement the rule of law. However, the hopes of many have faded away as armed opposition groups have resorted to the rule of the gun to impose their own version of order.”

In truth, as AI goes on to explain, these groups have implemented a “rule of law”: Sharia, strict Islamic law. Al Nusra, affiliated with the jihadi Al-Qaeda, steadily bulldozed its way to dominance over other Islamist and pro-U.S. (and pro-French) groups, with the backing of the U.S., Turkey and the Gulf states (even as each of these countries also tried to organize armed forces under their more direct command). Then they found themselves confronted by the explosive growth of Daesh, in which Islamic fundamentalism combined with military expertise of forces from the old Saddam Hussein regime, trained in fighting conventional warfare with modern weapons. The men who founded Daesh came together in U.S. prison camps. Whatever other factors are involved, without the U.S.’s efforts to bring Iraq under its control, first by toppling Saddam (using lies about “weapons of mass destruction”), and then by backing Shia reactionaries (linked to Iran – which shows how tightly rivalry and complicity are intertwined here) who responded to religious war against Shias with more religious war against Sunnis and the ethnic cleansing of Baghdad and other cities.

The rise of Daesh has been a problem for the U.S., even though there has been conflict within U.S. ruling class policy circles over whether to focus on fighting Assad or Daesh. But no one in Washington seems to be saying, “Well, we tore apart Iraq and that was a disaster, even from our point of view, and now we’re tearing apart Syria, and that’s not working out for us – all this is turbocharging Islamic fundamentalism, so maybe we should just go home.” They can’t “go home”, because the rivalry between the imperialist powers and other reactionaries is so intense and the strategic stakes are so high. The more their intervention has created problems for them (the indescribable suffering of the masses of people doesn’t enter into their calculations), the more they step up their intervention. As Patrick Cockburn wrote in The Independent (12 September 2016), “A feature of the war in Syria and Iraq is that the anti-ISIS and anti-Nusra armies – the YPG [Syrian Kurdish forces], Syrian Army, Iraqi Army and Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga – all rely on foreign air forces. This makes it difficult for them to go against whatever their foreign allies want them to do politically.”

We could speculate about exactly how this current cease-fire fits into the interests and plans of these      monsters. For Russia, if this manoeuvre works, it could be a big step forward because it would mean the U.S. and other  countries have to recognize Moscow as an essential player in the Middle East, one that the West cannot afford to keep out, which has been their policy so far. That’s probably why the U.S. was so reluctant to accept this deal, and one reason it may fail (certainly there will be fighting within Washington circles about whether this is a good or bad idea). But the U.S. might see this agreement as offering a possibility of relief from what has become an intractable contradiction: the more it does every dirty thing in its power to topple Assad (and keep Russia, as well as Iran, at bay in the region), the more it fuels Daesh, which has made itself a bigger problem than Assad.

The last five years of atrocities in Syria have been driven by both the general clash between the Western imperialists and their political systems and ideology and Islamic fundamentalism, and the particular and often competing interests of imperialist powers and reactionary foreign states in Syria. This dynamic and the constantly shifting alliances that emerge from it are a main factor in the lack of clear sides in this civil war. It seems most likely that war will continue until one of them is able to impose its will by force, defeating some rivals on the battlefield and obliging other rivals to accept its dominance. Worst of all, no force has emerged that could fight for and unite a growing number of people around a way forward other than Islamism or naked subjugation to imperialism.

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Justice for  K Murleedharan (Ajith)!

12 September 2016. A World to Win News Service. The following is from the Web site of the Indian journal Sanhati (posted 12 September). Globally renowned feminist thinker and philosopher Judith Butler, Professor, University of California, Berkeley, has supported the global campaign for providing proper medical care to ailing Maoist under trial prisoner K Murleedharan from Kerala, lodged in the Yerawada Central Prison near Pune for the past 15 months. Prof. Butler had endorsed the call in an e-mail message to Justice for Murali, a global collective, demanding medical care and bail for the 62-year old Muraleedharan, suffering from cardiac related ailments.

Globally renowned public intellectuals and social scientists such as Prof. Noam Chomsky, Prof. Gayatri Chakravarty Spivak and Prof. Partha Chatterjee have already endorsed the call.

Prof. G Haragopal of the Defense Committee for the Release of Political Prisoners and poet Varavara Rao called for granting bail for Mr. Muraleedharan on medical grounds immediately. “As a heart patient he requires timely treatment and medical assistance. The authorities are denying even these basic rights for him”, they said. Prof. GN Saibaba, Prof. C Sheshayya, President Andhra Pradesh Civil Liberties Committee, Prof. G Lakshman President, Telengana Civil Liberties Committee are amongst the persons came forward to demand proper medical care and bail for Mr. Muraleedharan.

Justice for Murali (Com. Ajith)

Justice for Murali is a global collective that has emerged for ensuring proper medical care and treatment and bail for Muraleedharan. K (Murali Kannampilly), a radical political activist for the last four decades and a distinguished scholar of political economy, Dalit studies and author of ‘Land, Caste and Servitude’, a path-breaking analysis of agrarian relations in Kerala, languishing in the Yerawada Central Prison near Pune for the past 15 months as an under trial prisoner.

The health condition of the 62-year Murali, who has already undergone an open heart surgery, has been a matter of great concern for his friends, comrades, family members and well wishers ever since his arrest. As feared his health condition took a turn for worse forcing the jail authorities to admit him in the Sassoon Government Hospital in Pune on September 4, 2016. But the jail authorities got him discharged from the hospital on September 6, 2016 following his advocate filing a petition to ensure proper care to him at the hospital and permitting his son to attend to him there as there was no one to even take urine sample that the doctor had instructed to be tested, to the lab.

The jail authorities have taken such a step even as globally renowned intellectuals and social scientists such as Prof. Noam Chomsky, Prof Gayatri Chakravarty Spivak, Prof. Partha Chatterjee supported the call for proper medical care to Mr. Muraleedharan.

Justice for Murali has been formed to extend this campaign on a further wider scale to ensure proper medical care for the ailing prisoner as well as demanding his release from the prison. We seek the help and support of all persons believing in democracy, human rights and individual liberty to join the demand for proper medical care and release of Murali from prison. After his arrest on the charges of being a leader of the Communist Party of India (Maoist) he was produced to an open court only once in the past 15 months. Lodged in a high security prison the jail authorities have also prohibited access to books and other publications to him.

The action of jail authorities is against the fundamental rights guaranteed under the Indian constitution, the principles enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the United Nations Convention against Torture. We once again seek the support of all people believing in freedom, human rights and individual dignity to join the campaign for ensuring proper medical care and release of Mr. Muraleedharan from prison.

List prominent persons who have already joined campaign

1: Prof. Noam Chomsky: MIT
2: Prof. Gayatri Chakravarty Spivak: Columbia University
3: Prof. Judith Butler: University of California, Los Angeles
4: Prof. Partha Chatterjee: Columbia University
5: Prof. Anand Teltumbde: IIT Khargapur
6: Prof. Prabhat Patnaik: Emeritus Professor, Jawaharlal Nehru University
7: Bernard D’Mello, Deputy Editor, Economic and Political Weekly
8: Dr. KT Rammohan: Former Dean School of Social Science, Mahatma Gandhi University
9: Dr. TT Sreekumar: Professor, MICA, School of Ideas, Ahmedabad
11: Dr. J. Devika : Assistant Professor, Centre For Development Studies, Thiruvananathapuram
12: Prof. AK Ramakrishnan: Professor, Centre for West Asian Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi
13: K Satchidandan: poet writer
14: Meena Kandasamy: poet writer
15: Kanam Rajendran: State Secretary, Communist Party of India, Kerala
16: BRP Bhaskar: Eminent Journalist and Writer
17: K Venu : Writer and social commentator
18: MM Somasekharan: Writer and social commentator
19: Njamal Babu (TN Joy): Public Intellectual
21: PK Venugopal: Janakeeya Kala Sahitya Vedi
22: Prof. G Haragopal: Defense Committee, Committee for the Release of Political Prisoners
23: Varavara Rao, President, Revolutionary Democratic Front, Founder, Revolutionary Writers Association
24: Rajkishore, General Secretary, RDF
25: Prof. G N Saibaba, Deputy Secretary, RDF
26: Varalakshmi, Secretary, Virasam (Revolutionary Writers Association)
27: Prof C Sheshayya, President, APCLC
28: Prof. G Lakshman, President, Telengana Civil Liberties Committee.

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