WILL IRAQ’S NEW PRIME MINISTER RECOGNISE ROMA RIGHTS?

by Sarah Edgcumbe

In early May 2020, Mustafa al-Kadhimi was appointed as Iraq’s new Prime Minister against the context of ongoing protests and popular discontent resulting from widespread government corruption. This corruption has contributed massively towards increasing poverty, reduction in public services and rising unemployment. Since the 2003 U.S. led invasion of Iraq, social cohesion has fractured perhaps (but hopefully not) irrevocably, with politics and society becoming increasingly sectarian.

The effects of the sectarian conflict in Iraq have been widely reported on, but the media has remained largely silent on the dire situation of the Iraqi Roma. This lack of attention by the media is reflective of the neglect of the Roma of Iraq by the government, humanitarian and human rights organizations and largely speaking, civic society in general. The complete lack of information produced by the Iraqi government on the Iraqi Roma is symptomatic of the de facto policies of ostracization and othering which have persisted since the formation of the Iraqi state in the 1920s. The number of Roma residents in Iraq, including the Kurdish Region of Iraq (KRI), is unknown, but best estimates place the figure at nearly 200,000 – translating to roughly 0.5% of the Iraqi population. Continue Reading

COLONIALISM, CORRUPTION & CHAOS: THE DISILLUSIONMENT OF IRAQI YOUTH

by Sarah Edgcumbe

During early October 2019, in the space of just nine days, Iraqi state forces killed over one hundred young people and injured thousands more. Thousands. In just nine days. As anti-corruption protests broke out, the state deployed live ammunition almost immediately. In some places, snipers positioned themselves on rooftops, picking off young Iraqi citizens who had nothing left to lose except the hope that they would one day experience a government that provides for their basic needs rather than greedily shovelling oil revenue into its own pockets.

The catalyst for these protests was the sacking of Lieutenant General Abdul-Wahab al-Saadi, who led the fight against ISIS as part of Iraq’s elite counter terrorism unit, and who was widely acknowledged as the liberator of Mosul. As soon as his transfer to an administrative role was made public, speculation arose that ‘his refusal to back a specific political party made him unpopular among officials in Baghdad’, and that he was ‘removed from his post because he broke sectarian barriers in Mosul.’ The sacking of al-Saadi was widely perceived as emblematic of the corruption that has characterized successive post-U.S invasion administrations, resulting in widespread protests against corruption, unemployment and poor public services. Continue Reading

AMERICA’S FADING ROLE IN THE MIDDLE EAST

by Gunnar Eigener

America’s influence in the Middle East is beginning to fray at the edges. This is bad news for both the region and the global community. America has, over the past decade, became something of a pariah in the area. Its foreign policy, already distrusted by enemies and allies alike, has looked increasingly unclear and erratic under the current administration.

While previous Presidents acted with caution and measure, the Trump White House presses on, having found in its new National Security Advisor John Bolton the man who would seemingly give weight to any decision that Donald Trump would be likely to favour, yet is already being rumoured to be behind Trump’s decision to withdraw from the North Korea Summit. Continue Reading

IRAN AND THE ART OF THE DEAL

by Gunnar Eigener

The US President, Donald Trump, has announced that the US will pull out of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) with Iran much to the dismay of all those involved and many other countries around the world. The deal was viewed by Trump as ‘the worst deal ever’, possibly an overstatement since Iran surrendered 97% of its enriched uranium stockpile and limited to installing at a maximum 5,060 centrifuges, making the production of a nuclear weapon impossible. Still, time limits were placed on these and other elements of the deal, meaning that in 15 years, Iran could have begun its nuclear programme again. While the JCPOA can, and should, be viewed as a successful deal, it is another example of not dealing with the root cause of the problem, which is the part Iran plays in propping up terrorist organisations and brutal regimes worldwide.Continue Reading

T IS FOR TERRORISM. T IS FOR TORY.

by Gunnar Eigener

Content warning: mentions terrorism, The Troubles.

Not only has Theresa May’s snap election gamble backfired spectacularly, but the possibility of a partnership with the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) has left a sinister stain on the government going forward. Lurid headlines have been a constant feature of the campaign, attacking Jeremy Corbyn and his alleged links to the IRA and Hamas. But now, ironically, it is the current government that has turned to terrorist sympathisers in order to shore up their position. Time will tell if those tabloids will apply the same standard to the government as they did to Jeremy Corbyn.

Within these developments, there are two worrying aspects that have emerged – both nationally and globally. The first is the ease with which governments are able to use the fear of terrorism to further their own agenda. The second is the ability of governments to ignore or cover up their complicit actions.Continue Reading

THE POWER OF THE FARCE: THREE THINGS ABOUT ROGUE ONE

by Zoe Harding

Warning: contains spoilers. Also mentions fascistic, militaristic imperialism, Trump, and ‘Nazi dickheads’.

I know it came out last year, I was on holiday damn it.

The first I properly heard about Rogue One was that some Trump supporters wanted to boycott it because it was rumoured to contain anti-Trump themes. Seemed like a good reason to go and see it. Incidentally, the finished product contains no giant smug orange aliens inexplicably allowed out without supervision groping women – perhaps people were getting confused by Star Wars’ underlying anti-Nazi overtones. I can’t imagine how anti-fascism would seem anti-Trumpist at all. Those ‘Alt right’ (read: Nazi) dickheads really don’t like it, of course. Tough. They can fuck off back to Ender’s Game.

With that decent start in mind, I went to go and see it just before New Year. You know what? It’s pretty decent.Continue Reading

A FRIGHTENED AND DANGEROUS NEW WORLD AWAITS? – LOOKING BACK ON OBAMA’S 2ND TERM

by Oliver Steward

Two things that have become clear with the election of Donald J Trump as President – elect.  Firstly, America’s status as a sole superpower and its Exceptionalism is coming to an end, and secondly, the liberal international order, rooted in principles of international law and community and defined in part by American hegemony, has been turned upside down.  The world is in an increasing state of flux.

While it is undergoing a process of reordering, the likelihood is that global affairs may not be very responsive to the will of the United States either through its diplomatic capacity, its institutional structures which it retains its legitimacy, or through hard power.  Authors such as Kupchan go further, arguing that America must prepare for the decline of the West, correlating with a decline in its own position.Continue Reading

THE TRUMP CARD AND ‘MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN’ — IS IT ONE OF DECLINE OR RENEWAL?

by Oliver Steward

The United States is experiencing relative decline vis-a-vis in relation to other so-called ‘Great Powers’, notably China. The election of President-elect Donald  Trump may navigate this transition or accelerate this relative decline in the second decade of the 21st century.

US GDP has only grown nominally at 1.5%.  Some important elements can be taken to show the growing disparity and changes to the world’s two most important economic powers. As discussed in The Globalist, ‘US GDP stood at $16.8 trillion in 2013 —just about 4% larger than China’s economy…. [While]The IMF estimates that China’s GDP at purchasing power parity was $17.6 trillion at the end of 2014.’  Furthermore the US is spending $1 trillion on domestic and national security under the auspices of counter terrorism. It has spent blood and treasure in two costly wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Continue Reading

COLD WAR MARK II: UNNECESSARY, AVOIDABLE, AND A CHALLENGE TO INTERNATIONAL SECURITY

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by Oliver Steward

Today in international relations we are witnessing a return to a new Cold War between Russia and the West. However, this Cold War Mark II is avoidable, and has only been institutionalised by the actions of both the West and Russia to antagonise one another, and rejuvenate the old Cold War which ceased since the collapse of the Soviet Union. Now in the second decade of the 21st Century it is here once again. This new Cold War is characterised by increased tensions between the West and Russia, with rhetoric particularly from the latter becoming increasingly aggressive, and the use of economic measures such as sanctions against Russia by Western powers.

The recent Russian bombardment of the besieged Syrian city of Aleppo has done nothing to ameliorate the current diplomatic tensions, only deepened it. However two important qualifications need to be made about this new Cold War that makes it different to the Cold War of the 20th Century.Continue Reading

FANNING THE FLAMES OF WAR IN SYRIA

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By Faizal Nor Izham

While Islamophobia continues to run rampant on the streets of Europe, one critical aspect that tends to be overlooked by the mainstream media when it comes to the Western world’s relationship with the Middle East is the steady stream of armed aid the former provides to pro-Western regimes in the latter. Understanding the main source of grievances in the Arab world may offer us a clue as to why there is so much tension stemming from the Middle East today. For example, it’s no secret that the British government has for a long time been highly complicit in its arms dealings with Sunni Saudi Arabia, often used by the oil-rich kingdom to exterminate Shi’ite Houthi rebels in Yemen. And even more recently, leaked emails from Hillary Clinton also indicate that she is fully supportive of fanning the flames in Syria even further through the export of arms to extremist groups such as ISIS.

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INTERPRETATIONS OF HUMAN RIGHTS IN ISLAM

by Faizal Nor Izham

Trigger warnings: Female Genital Mutilation, Islamophobia, Homophobia, Torture

How does Islam actually fare in terms of human rights, and is it really any different from any other religion? The “religion of peace” has been getting a poor reputation in Western media over the issue for decades, with human rights abuses in Muslim countries often stretching from the major to the mundane.

Female genital mutilation, the stoning of homosexuals to death, the subjugation of women – the list goes on and on. Apostasy is frequently met with the death sentence in conservative states such as Saudi Arabia. Furthermore, individual liberties in these countries, such as speaking up against the state, are frequently curtailed on the pretext of actually insulting the religion itself. Just ask Raif Badawi, the Saudi activist and blogger who dared to criticize the Saudi regime and was sentenced up to 1,000 lashes from the theocratic state for his troubles.

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THE COLD WAR, REHEATED

by Gunnar Eigener

The Cold War peaked with the Cuban Missile Crisis and ended with the falling of the Berlin Wall. It left scars across the globe, many of which are still felt today. It tore societies apart. It created a feeling of angst and paranoia in those who lived through it. The lack of trust the West and East held for each other hasn’t really gone nor have the players changed that much. For younger generations, it used to be hard to imagine what a time like that must have been like but as this century progresses, but it’s becoming easier.

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THE CONSEQUENCES OF THE IRAQ WAR

by Julian Canlas

Content warning: mentions sexual abuse, torture, Islamophobia

On 15 February 2003, the now-Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn spoke out to the largest anti-war demonstration in British political history. In front of two million people at Hyde Park, London, he exclaimed,  ‘Stop now or pay the political price!’ He was warning about the consequences of attacking Iraq.Continue Reading

BANNING THE BOYCOTT OF ISRAELI GOODS?

By Gunnar Eigener

The UK Government’s decision to prevent local authorities and public-sector organisations from boycotting Israeli suppliers has been widely criticised. The British Cabinet Office stated that such boycotts ‘undermine good community relations, poisoning and polarising debate, weakening integration and fuelling anti-Semitism’. In an opening speech to a visiting UK trade delegation, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said: ‘I want to commend the British government for refusing to discriminate against Israel and Israelis and I commend you for standing up for the one and only true democracy in the Middle East’.

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THE MEMORY OF THE WORLD IS SHORT

by Ellen Musgrove

Cherokee writer and academic Daniel Heath Justice writes in The Kynship Chronicles that ‘the memory of the world is short, and death rides hard in the forgetting.’ Being indigenous and queer, Justice knows very well the selective amnesia of the nation-state, and the resistance that demands.

Such an introduction may seem obscure, but this perceived obscurity demonstrates the problem I want to discuss. The same nation-state amnesia is imbricated in “western” society’s selective mourning of recent terror attacks, the current refugee crisis, and now renewed military intervention.

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WE DON’T NEED TO TALK ABOUT ISLAM, WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT HUMANITY

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by Gunnar Eigener

The terrorist attacks in Paris have brought back a feeling of despair, that no matter where we live, there is always someone who wants to hurt us. The shaky camera footage of police storming a building, the bangs of smoke grenades, the echoes of gunfire, have sent a shockwave through France, Europe and the world. In the aftermath, a reaction is already beginning and anger will turn on Muslim individuals, communities, businesses and places of worship. Already a petition to “Stop all immigration and close UK borders until ISIS is defeated” is circulating and has got over 383,000 signatures so far. This will not solve anything, nor will blaming Islam.

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DON’T COUNTER VIOLENCE WITH MORE VIOLENCE

by Faizal Nor Izham

Despite almost 14 years of Western nations waging a ‘war on terror’, not much has been achieved in the way of making the world a truly secure place for all. With Al-Qaeda and Osama bin Laden now considered yesterday’s news, the Iraq war that was waged after 9/11 — widely considered by critics to be “pointless” — merely gave birth to another terrorist threat in the form of ISIS. Today, some sections of the Western media continue to be awash with Islamophobic articles on an almost daily basis, further fueling the public’s misconception of Islam and its supposed roots in terrorism. This in turn has affected Britain’s immigration and multicultural policies to an extent, and has only served to further heighten levels of prejudice against Muslims.

It begs the question: has the Western response to 9/11 really been that worthwhile?Continue Reading

THE PROBLEM OF EXTREMISM

by Jonathan Lee

Prime Minister Erdoğan was speaking in reaction to the Obama administration identifying Turkey as a moderate Islamic country. The blunt statement challenges much of the narrative coming from Western governments, and forces the West to question the validity of the term as well as another of its favourite loaded words: ‘Extremism’.

In the wake of the Charlie Hebdo shootings and the heavily sidelined Boko Haram massacre at Baga, the media’s use of choice words like ‘extremism’, ‘radicalism’, ‘fundamentalism’, and ‘Islamism’ has once once again been unleashed in a daily barrage on our television and computer screens. The corresponding rise of Islamophobia, which was already latent in the West, has reached even higher levels, resulting in liberals, apologists, and leftists having to try and stem the tide of what is sometimes wanton bigotry and racism. An oft deployed tool of argument is the careful labelling and distinction between ‘moderate Islam’ and ‘extremism’, usually in the vein of ‘moderate Muslims are not to blame, extremism is’.

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