“Children and anybody with a free spirit have become terrorists in the eyes of the world.” My Syrian friend and I are discussing the current situation in Idlib. We are both exasperated that the world is standing idly by as thousands of innocent people are murdered or made homeless. Idlib, a governorate in North West Syria, is often portrayed as home exclusively to terrorists and violent Islamist extremists. My friend’s reference to “a free spirit” is his description of the people who participated in the Syrian revolution: those who dared to demand a free and peaceful life including the right to participate in democratic elections and to exercise freedom of speech and assembly without fear of being arbitrarily detained, tortured, executed or otherwise disappeared into the Syrian regime’s nightmarish prison system.
CW: mentions of torture, violence, assault
For a few years now so-called leftists have been acting as cheerleaders for Syria’s President Assad. The apparent logic seems to go something like this: “American imperialism is abhorrent, so naturally we will embrace America’s enemy – Russia – and by extension, Assad as our friends.” Let me be clear: in this case, the enemy of your enemy is not your friend. It is perfectly feasible to recognise that Russia is an imperialist power and serial abuser of human rights without legitimizing America’s terrible track record of imperialism, occupation and human rights abuses.
By Robyn Banks
Two weeks ago, Donald Trump signed an executive order bringing an end to the separation of undocumented migrant children from their parents. This was widely reported in the mainstream press as a win for those had publicly campaigned against this policy. But just saying that doesn’t make it so. The executive order did bring an end to the separation of children from their parents, but there has been no commitment to reuniting the families already separated. Children previously taken from their parents are being kept in camps in the Texan desert, while families crossing the border since the executive order are being transferred to ICE ‘Family Detention Centres’, which have extremely limited capacity. Whilst this was picked up by smaller media outlets and on social media, many in the mainstream press didn’t acknowledge these complications, focusing only on the initial ‘win’.
The attempted murder of Sergei and Yulia Skripal with a nerve agent bares all the hallmarks of a Cold War spy novel and the complexity of the smaller and more tightly connected modern-day world. Political balance is needed when addressing and reprimanding those responsible. If Russia is found to be to blame, what happens next? Is it likely that remarkably little will be done or will this be the beginning of a new coalition to stand up to Putin’s Russia?
Content warning: mentions drone attacks, conflict, and terrorism.
While the US President, Donald Trump, has made it clear that the US presence in Syria was to carry out the extermination of Daesh, Russia’s intentions have always been to support their ally, Bashar al-Assad. Last September the Russian President, Vladimir Putin, made a surprise visit to Syria to announce that Russia had succeeded in its mission. While both might be correct, it is Putin who is in a more difficult position and the risk that Russia will be dragged further in has become ever more likely.
Syria was an opportunity for Putin’s Russia to flex its muscles on the international stage again after creating trouble in Ukraine and the annexation of Crimea. Having already interfered in the election in the US and potentially in other elections in Europe, Russia remains largely unchallenged. Sanctions brought about by the US Congress do little to curb the ambitious plans of a nation seeking to relive past glories. Russia continues to forge relations with former satellite states and the lack of US involvement in NATO does nothing to deter the risk of another cold war breaking out in Eastern Europe. Yet, as with so many Western states, Russia has found itself stuck in the political and religious quagmire that is the Middle East.
by Chris Jarvis
Tuesday November 7th marked 100 years since the Russian Revolution, when the Bolshevik Party overthrew the Provisional Government in Russia established in February of 1917. What followed was 84 years of Government by the Party in Russia, and what came to be known as the USSR, as well as a global struggle for ideological, economic, military, and imperial dominance between the “communist” east and capitalist west.
Throughout that period, a central plank of western political policy and rhetoric was the fear-inducing concept of the red menace and its attempts to wreak havoc upon the democratic states of Western Europe and North America. Erosion of civil liberties, aggressive policies on migration, and imperialist adventures through East Asia, Latin America, the Middle East and Africa were all justified with the visage of Joseph Stalin, conniving communists. and the hammer and sickle looming ominously as a backdrop.
Amongst the most brazen of these were the infamous ‘red scares’ – periods of government, media and public hysteria about the communist threat, primarily confined to the USA.
by Alex Valente
CW: racism, sexism, fascism
There’s an old home-grown metaphor that runs in the Italian side of my family – which may have been acquired by my great-grandfather through his context and peers, I just have never heard it anywhere else – which goes as follows:
Italy is a watermelon. The thick, green skin on the outside is democracy, the Republic. The thin white layer that keeps everything inside together is the Democrazia Cristiana (Christian Democracy, the centre party that governed Italy after WWII, and the ancestor of pretty much all centrist politicians since). The red pulp is the Socialist, Communist heart of the country. But the seed, the black seed from which it all grows – that’s Fascism.
The calving of a 5,800 square-kilometre section of the Larsen C ice shelf has been recorded. Although it is only half the size of the largest ever recorded iceberg (B15 broke off from Antarctica’s Ross Ice Shelf in 2000, measuring 11,007 square-kilometres), it nonetheless represents yet another loss of ice – not just in Antarctica, but globally.
By Zoe Harding
I know you’re sick of elections. I know you’re sick of polling. I know you’re deeply, deeply sick of campaigns, and I’m sorry about that.
But in my opinion? We need a second referendum, as a minimum. Brexit is looking more and more like a disaster with every passing minute, and someone, somewhere needs to find the political will to halt it. If the British people have to vote again so be it, because nothing I’ve seen in the past 12 months has done anything to demonstrate Brexit as anything other than a heaping pile of bollocks with a Union Jack in it, especially now Theresa May’s government has hobbled itself with a poorly-planned election.
by Zoe Harding
Yeah, it’s another one of these. Might as well. These days the local news is moving so fast, and so depressingly, that I’d rather talk about Eastern Europe’s most recent frozen conflict and a three-decade-old nuclear disaster zone.
The first part of this article can be found published here.