RIP Konstandions Erik Sculfield: anti-fascist hero

March 4, 2015 at 7:52 pm (anti-fascism, good people, humanism, internationalism, Jim D, kurdistan, Middle East, RIP, solidarity, war)

 

.The ex-Royal Marine, named as Konstandinos Erik Scurfield, who was killed fighting for the Peshmerga in northern Iraq.

Make no mistake: ex-Royal Marine, Konstandinos Erik Scurfield, who was killed on Monday, fighting with the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) in Syria, was an anti-fascist hero.

His comrade, ex-US soldier Jordan Matson, also a YPG volunteer, wrote on Facebook:

“Kosta as we call him was from the United Kingdom and was born a Greek citizen. He served in both the Greek army and as a British Royal Marine commando up until he came here. He served with me in Jezza and Shengal.

“Kosta volunteered for every attack and guard duty opportunity. He wanted nothing more than to bring the fight to the enemy.

“I’m going to carry on your legacy  brother, I will; never forget you. I love you man.

“Save ne a place up there big guy.”

Scurfield had been fighting in an area southwest of the town of Tal Hamis, which Kurdish forces seized from the ISIS/Daesh fascists last week, when (it is thought) the vehicle in which he was travelling was hit by mortar fire.

The death of this hero reminds us of how shamefully the Kurdish forces have been neglected by the West and that, despite their courage and superior fighting skills, they are often simply out-gunned by the well-equipped forces of ISIS/Daesh.

In memory of Kosta, we must demand of our government: Arm The Kurds!

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Konstandions Erik Sculfield (kneeling); Credit: Facebook/Jordan Matson

Konstandions Erik Sculfield (kneeling); Credit: Facebook/Jordan Matson

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Brian Parsons RIP

February 15, 2015 at 1:07 pm (culture, good people, internationalism, jazz, Jim D, music, RIP)

Brian Parsons died on Saturday morning, after a long illness (a brain tumour).

My very dear friend Brian Parsons died this morning, he bought a lot of joy and happiness into my life and the lives of many others too. Thank you for being my friend.

Brian had been very politically active in the 1970s and was, briefly, associated with the libertarian-left group Big Flame. He was also a great champion of a wide range of music and pioneered appreciation of what became known as “world music” by means of his Bongo-Go disco (with occasional live sessions), which for many years were a hugely popular feature of Birmingham night-life, at the Moseley Dance Centre. He also supported live jazz and blues: I last saw him about a year ago at a gig featuring the Kinda Dukish Big Band – apparently he’d long been a passionate enthusiast of the music of Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn – something I’d never realised.

Meanwhile, he never lost his political commitment and remained a friend of equality and justice all his life.

So long, old friend and comrade!

H/t Terry Lilly

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The Anti-Imperialism of Fools: A Cautionary Tale for the Brit Anti-War Left

December 8, 2014 at 8:47 pm (Chomsky, ex-SWP, imperialism, intellectuals, internationalism, islamism, israel, Marxism, Middle East, posted by JD, reactionay "anti-imperialism", Shachtman, solidarity, stalinism, trotskyism)

Above: about as “anti- imperialist”-foolish as you can get: Rees, Murray and Galloway

By Camilla Bassi

‘The Anti-Imperialism of Fools’

Preface
The day after 9/11 I attended a local Socialist Alliance committee meeting in  Sheffield, England, as a representative of the revolutionary socialist organisation,  the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty.The Socialist Workers’ Party (SWP) comrades  present discussed the 9/11 attack as regrettable in terms of the loss of life but as  nonetheless understandable.They acknowledged the attack as tactically misguided, yet refused (when pressed to do so) to condemn it. Later, in November 2001, at a public meeting of the Sheffield Socialist Alliance, I shared a platform with a then  national committee member of the SWP to debate the US and UK war in Afghanistan. Besides from agreeing on opposition to the imperialist war onslaught, I was alone on the platform in raising opposition to the Islamist Taliban rule and in arguing for labour movement solidarity with forces such as the Revolutionary Association of Women of Afghanistan (RAWA), which resist both imperialism and  Islamism and demand a rogressive, democratic secular alternative.

The SWP  comrades present, both on the platform and from the floor, alleged a political error  on my part and those who argued along with me. Their rationale was that, to fully oppose the War on Terror, we had a duty to oppose the main enemy and greater  evil – US and UK imperialism – and this alone. Anything else, they argued, would  alienate the masses of disillusioned, angry British Muslim youth that socialists needed to win over.

The SWP’s dual camp of ‘my enemy’s enemy is my friend’ (a socialistic inversion of imperialist war discourse of ‘the status quo versus  regression’) came to dominate England’s anti-war movement. They publicly  launched their initiative the Stop the War Coalition (StWC) ten days after 9/11, with the aim of mobilising a broad political grouping against the War on Terror.

Since then the SWP vanguard of the StWC has, at critical moments, steered the political course that England’s anti-war protests have taken. Read the rest of this entry »

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The Half Decents: Syria Benefit Gig for Médecins Sans Frontières

November 12, 2014 at 2:17 pm (anti-fascism, gigs, Harry's Place, Human rights, internationalism, London, Middle East, music, posted by JD, solidarity, Syria, The blues)

Congratulations to Dave ‘Blind Lemon’ Osler for initiaing this. At one point Dave was looking for a drummer and I considered offering my services, but the thought of getting a drum kit to a gig in central London was just too terrifying – JD

Some causes transcend political barriers. The plight of those trapped between the murderers of the Islamic State and the slaughter at the hands of Assad’s forces is one of those issues.

The Facebook Event page is here:

https://www.facebook.com/events/594797527292791/

On Saturday, 6 December, a band composed of bloggers, journalists and political activists from across the political spectrum will be playing a gig to support Medecins Sans Frontiers (Doctors Without Borders) and their vital work in the region.

Dubbed “The Half Decents”, our ad-hoc band will perform a familiar blend of rock classics and blues standards, with a sprinkling of indie pop. The evening will be hosted by 89Up, the public affairs agency (http://www.89up.org/), and will include guest speakers and a support act.

We’re asking anybody who wants to attend to donate at least £10 to Medecins Sans Frontiers, via this special JustGiving Fundraising Page.

https://www.justgiving.com/Half-Decents

Leave your name and we will email before the gig with all the details you will need.

The Half Decents is made up of Davis Lewin (Henry Jackson Society), Paul Evans (Slugger O’Toole), David Osler (ex Tribune), David Toube (Harry’s Place), Brett Lock (ex OutRage!) and Adam Barnett (East London Advertiser).

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Solidarity with the Kurds – or NATO-bashing?

November 6, 2014 at 12:22 pm (anti-fascism, Eric Lee, internationalism, islamism, kurdistan, Middle East, posted by JD, reactionay "anti-imperialism", solidarity, Stop The War, Syria, turkey)

Solidarity With Kobane  London takes part in Global Rally

By Eric Lee (cross-posted from the Workers Liberty website)

At the 1 November demonstration in Trafalgar Square in support of besieged Kobane, it struck me that the speakers — and more broadly, the left — were not singing from the same page.

On the one side there were those who were demanding that Britain and NATO do more to help the Kurds fighting against the Islamic fascists of IS.  For example, Peter Tatchell led the crowd in chants demanding that David Cameron authorise the dropping of more aid to the Kurds, including weapons.

There were calls for Turkey to be suspended from NATO because it, unlike other NATO countries, was not prepared to help the Kurds.

And more generally most of the speakers especially the Kurdish ones, had not a critical word to say about the USA, the West, NATO or imperialism.  Everyone was focussed on the evil that is “Islamic State”.

On the other side, some of the far-left speakers went overboard in denouncing NATO, the USA and the West, going so far as claiming that IS was a creation of NATO and Washington.

This was particularly the case with a spokesman for the “Stop the War Coalition” — an organisation whose presence at the event surprised many of the participants.

 The Coalition’s website has almost nothing at all about the war taking place today in Syria and Iraq and indeed the only reference to it is video of George Galloway denouncing the support NATO is giving to the Kurds.  Galloway also voted against this support in the Commons.

It seems to me that elements of the British far left find themselves in a bit of a bind.

 On the one hand, there’s this extraordinary, inspiring resistance movement in Kobane, which has captured the imagination of many who would normally be the natural constituency for the left.  The people on the ground, fighting IS, belong to a movement which was seen, until recently, as part of the broad international left.

 Obviously they deserve our support — and yet that seems to mean supporting the US and British air strikes, supporting NATO.  

To get around this, the far leftists have decided on the “ISIS is NATO” line, which is an extraordinary position — one is almost at a loss for words to describe it. 

For those not understanding how IS could be both under NATO attack and simultaneously a creation of NATO, some of the speakers went so far as to say that IS was using American weapons 

The implication was that America gave them weapons.

This is, of course, utter nonsense.  The American weapons that have fallen into the hands of IS were taken from the retreating Iraqi army.  Taken — not handed over as a gift by the Americans. 

One of the anti-NATO, anti-American tirades came from an organisation I’d not previously heard of called the Revolutionary Communist Group.  (I’m sure that specialists will know the entire history of this micro-sect, but for me it was new.) And groups like this, which get invited to speak at mass rallies, give only a very small piece of their line because they’d be booed off the stage if people knew what they really believed. 

The RCG’s speaker shouted the usual stuff about solidarity with the Kurds, but a quick glance at their website shows that they are in fact enthusiastic supporters of the bloody Assad dictatorship and its army.  The same Syrian army that abandoned Kobane — an army that no Kurd wants to have back.  But there was no mention of that to the largely Kurdish crowd in Trafalgar Square. 

So what are people like this, who support Assad and Saddam, who demonize NATO and the USA, doing at these rallies? 

They’re there because they can’t afford not to be there.  To have nothing to say when the battle of Kobane rages would be unacceptable; they must somehow show solidarity with the embattled Kurds. 

But they oppose the very thing — NATO air support — that has made that battle possible.  The tide may be turning in Kobane because of US bombing and air drops.

On the ground, some Kurds have been heard chanting “Long live Obama!”  How embarrassing for the anti-Americans on the far left.

These people with their crazy views, denouncing the essential support given by the west to the Kurds, praising Assad and Saddam, have no place at Kurdish solidarity rallies. They are there purely to cover their tracks, to provide themselves with some kind of moral cover as IS continues with its murderous rampage across Syria and Iraq.

We should give them no platform.

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Critique of Patrick Cockburn’s ‘Whose Side is Turkey on?’

November 4, 2014 at 1:59 pm (conspiracy theories, Human rights, imperialism, internationalism, iraq, islamism, kurdistan, Middle East, posted by JD, reactionay "anti-imperialism", Syria, turkey)

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Another interesting, well-researched article by the Australian-Greek-Cypriot Castroite Mike Karadjis. This originally appeared at Syrian Revolutionary Comment And Analysis. As ever, when we republish such articles, Shiraz does not necessarily endorse everything the author says, nor his overall politics. But it’s an important piece because it takes on some myths about the origins and funding of ISIS that are increasingly widely believed on the left – sometimes in a spectacularly crude and conspiratorial form.
 
LRB Cover
  
By Michael Karadjis

Introduction

The November 6 London Review of Books has published Patrick Cockburn’s latest article, ‘Whose Side is Turkey On?’. Now, as I support the struggle of the Syrian Kurds, led by the PYD and its armed militia, the YPG, against ISIS’ genocidal siege, I have no interest in defending Turkey’s shabby role in this, even if I think both the US and Turkey, in their current difference on this issue are both being totally cynical in their different ways. So this critique will not deal with these issues.

Unfortunately, the angle from which Cockburn criticises Turkey is full of the same contradictions that significant parts of the left espouse, basked in an overall hostility to the Syrian revolution. Valid criticism of Turkey’s sabotage of the defence of Kobani – connected to Turkey’s own oppression of its Kurdish minority – is mixed in with criticism of Turkey for allegedly wanting to help overthrow the Syrian tyranny of Bashar Assad. As if there were something wrong with wanting the overthrow of a tyrant who has burnt his whole country, sending 1.5 million Syrian refugees into Turkey.

Indeed, the fact that Turkey plays an otherwise positive role (for its own reasons which I can’t go into here) in allowing Syrian resistance fighters to cross the border is labelled “facilitating ISIS”, as if the Syrian rebellion has anything to do with ISIS, its vicious enemy. Don’t get me wrong – Turkey may well be facilitating ISIS around the Kurdish regions of the north-east for specifically anti-Kurdish regions, but that simply has nothing to with its *rightful* facilitation of the anti-Assad rebellion elsewhere.

Unless one held the view that only the Syrian Kurds had the right to resist massacre, torture, ethnic cleansing and so on. After all, the Syrian rebellion, based largely among the vast impoverished Sunni Arab majority, has faced a regime that makes ISIS’ tyranny appear amateurish in comparison, and considering how barbaric ISIS is, this is a big claim, yet one that is simply empirically true.

Indeed, and I digress a little here – not understanding that it is the Syrian and Iraqi Sunni Arab populations that have been bombed to pieces, ethnically cleansed, dispossessed physically, politically and in every other way, by both the American invasion of Iraq and the Assad regime’s burning of its whole country to keep a narrow mega-plutocracy in power, is one of the keys to the left’s misunderstanding of many of these issues. It is the Sunni Arab populations of both countries that have suffered a decade-long apocalypse, not, overall, the Shia, Alawites or Kurds.

Who arms “jihadis”?

Referring to the “coalition” that the US has built to confront ISIS in Iraq and Syria, Cockburn writes:

“When the bombing of Syria began in September, Obama announced with pride that Saudi Arabia, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain and Turkey were all joining the US as military partners against Isis. But, as the Americans knew, these were all Sunni states which had played a central role in fostering the jihadis in Syria and Iraq.”

Ah, no, they didn’t actually. And just because Cockburn continues to make that assertion, always evidence-free, doesn’t make a non-fact a fact. Actually, only less than 5 percent of ISIS funds came from outside donations at all, and of that, what came from the Gulf certainly didn’t come from the regimes (http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2014/06/23/231223/records-show-how-iraqi-extremists.html?sp=/99/117/). Read the rest of this entry »

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Unite backs the Kurds in Kobane, condemns Turkey

November 1, 2014 at 11:04 am (Andrew Coates, anti-fascism, Cross-post, internationalism, kurdistan, Middle East, solidarity, Syria, Unite the union)

By Andrew Coates  (from Tendance Coatesy):

The biggest trade union in Britain, UNITE, has issued a statement of support for the Kobane resistance.

The statement came after representatives from Centre for Kurdish Progress met with UNITE officials and briefed them on the developments in the town of Kobane, where Kurdish fighters have been holding off an ISIS onslaught for the past 48 days.

In the statement, UNITE said it “offered its support and solidarity to the brave people of Kobane” and that “The bravery shown by the Kurds in Kobane in defence of the entire community is to be commended”.

The statement also highlighted Turkey’s role in the developments and said, “we were appalled that the Turkish government put its own nationalist politics ahead of the plight of Kurdish people”.

Kurdish Question. 

World Kobane Day (1)Screen_Shot_2014-10-31_at_20.36.44

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AWL statement: Solidarity with democratic and socialist forces resisting ISIS! Mobilise for 1 November!

October 31, 2014 at 1:26 am (anti-fascism, AWL, genocide, Human rights, internationalism, iraq, islamism, kurdistan, Middle East, posted by JD, reactionay "anti-imperialism", solidarity, Syria)


Above: Muayad Ahmed, secretary of the Worker-communist Party of Iraq

From the Workers Liberty website:

Solidarity with democratic, workers’ and socialist forces in the Middle East resisting ISIS! Mobilise for 1 November!

The Alliance for Workers’ Liberty conference (London, 25-6 October) sends solidarity to democratic, working-class and socialist forces resisting ISIS in Kurdistan, Syria and Iraq, including our comrades in the Worker-communist Parties of Kurdistan and Iraq.

We support the people of Kurdistan in their fight for self-determination and self-rule. More broadly, people in Kobane and elsewhere are fighting a life and death battle to defend basic human freedoms, particularly freedom for women.

We are supporting and mobilising for the international day of action on 1 November. We call on the British and international left to get off the fence and support these mobilisations.

Even when they may aid a liberation struggle, we do not endorse or have trust in bombing or the sending of ground forces by the US and its allies, or by Iran. The US has bombed ISIS units attacking Kobane; but it helped create the conditions for the rise of ISIS; it continues to ally with a variety of reactionary regimes and forces in the region; and by its very nature it acts for reasons that have nothing to do with democracy or liberation.

We protest against the Turkish government’s undermining of the fight against ISIS, motivated by fear of a challenge to its rule in Kurdistan.

We call for the free movement of refugees, including their right to come to the UK.

We will build solidarity with democratic forces in the region – but particularly working-class and socialist organisations. We will continue to work with our comrades in the Worker-communist Parties of Kurdistan, Iraq and Iran; the Iranian Revolutionary Marxists’ Tendency; and Marksist Tutum in Turkey – and the workers’ and people’s organisations they are building. We invite others on the left and in the labour movement to work with us to build solidarity with these comrades and with the class-struggle left throughout the Middle East.

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1 November: World Kobanê Day

October 29, 2014 at 1:37 am (anti-fascism, genocide, Human rights, internationalism, islamism, kurdistan, Middle East, posted by JD, Syria, turkey)

This Saturday, please do anything you can to support the Rojava Kurds and their allies fighting for Kobanê. Biji Kurdistan!

This Saturday, please do anything you can to support the Rojava Kurds and their allies fighting for Kobanê. Biji Kurdistan!
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Press statement here
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Coatesy on “the new International Brigade,” here

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Attila The Stockbroker asks “where is the left” in support of the Kurds?

October 22, 2014 at 5:50 pm (anti-fascism, internationalism, islamism, kurdistan, Middle East, posted by JD, reactionay "anti-imperialism", secularism, solidarity, Stop The War, turkey)

Letter published in todays’s Morning Star:

Secular, progressive Kurds in need of left

I salute the heroic struggle of the secular, progressive Kurds of the YPG (People’s Protection Groups) as they battle to defend Kobane from fascist murderers equipped with much heavier and more modern weapons.

The Turks and the Western leaders appear prepared to let the fascists wipe out the Kurdish fighters — people like me and you, people of the left — including the women who save the last bullet for themselves rather than fall into the hands of the fascists.

It seems to me that there is a cynical plan in place. If Kobane falls, there will be crocodile tears about massacres and the drums will start beating for a ground war and the gruesome cycle starting all over again.

There is, of course, an alternative.

The Kurds are once again victims of the same kind of geopolitics which denied them a homeland when the Sykes-Picot agreement was drawn up at the end of the Ottoman empire.

With modern weaponry they could defend their own communities successfully — they certainly have the fighting ability to do so.

But the Turks and the Western powers are scared of their left-wing radicalism and their desire for an independent homeland.

And, sadly, many on the left turn their backs. They can’t bring themselves to support fellow progressives desperate for military aid in fighting fascism, because they see that in some way as “supporting imperialism.”

The Kurds are crying out for support, for Western governments to help them.

They demonstrate with banners saying “Your silence is killing us.” They are right.

This is Guernica, this is Madrid. These are our comrades. But where is the left? Where are the thousands who rightly throng the streets in support of another stateless, oppressed people in Palestine? Where is the Stop The War Coalition? Why the silence? Why, why, WHY?

ATTILA THE STOCKBROKER
http://www.attilathestockbroker.com

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JD adds: Very interesting article on the Kurds, intervention and the European left, by Yasin Suma, here

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