Kurds mount determined resistance

The Syrian Democratic Forces are an alliance of Kurdish Arab Turkmen and other rebels

On 24 May 2016 the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), began to advance on Raqqa, the Islamic State (IS) headquarters. The SDF comprises 31 forces, including Kurds, Arabs and other ethnic and religious groups, but its largest components are the predominantly Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) and Women’s Protection Units (YPJ) of Rojava (Northern Syria/West Kurdistan). Their advance is receiving Coalition, predominantly US, air support. At the time of writing these forces have liberated towns and villages between Raqqa and the YPG/YPJ-run town of Ain Isa, and have encouraged and welcomed refugees fleeing IS.

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Kurds wage historic struggle

The Kurdish struggle is more significant to the future of the Middle East than ever. In Iraq and Syria, Kurds are crucial to the outcome of the battle against Islamic State (IS) and other jihadi groups. In Turkey, Kurds are in insurrection, the fate of which will decide whether the country succumbs to fascism or progresses towards democracy. The British government, the European Union (EU) and the US are indifferent as towns in Turkey are destroyed by tanks and heavy artillery, civilians are burned to death in their homes, academics, lawyers and journalists are branded as terrorists and the President says that democracy and the rule of law are meaningless in Turkey. Trevor Rayne reports.

The Turkish state planned for war on the Kurds in Turkey and Syria after the defeat of IS in Kobane, in northern Syria/Rojava in January 2015. Turkey’s ruling class fears that Kurdish self-determination in Syria will undermine its rule in Turkey itself, by encouraging the Kurdish struggle for rights. Turkish state forces prevented Kurds going to assist the resistance in Kobane and attacked and killed protestors in Turkey. The success of the Kurdish-led Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) in the June and November 2015 parliamentary elections thwarted President Erdogan’s ambition to change Turkey’s constitution from a parliamentary to a presidential system, and provided a pole of attraction for those opposed to the authoritarian rule of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government. A wave of arrests of HDP members and supporters preceded the 1 November election and the predominantly Kurdish town of Silvan was placed under curfew. Turkish state forces attacked Kurds in Iraq, Syria and Turkey. On 3 November the Group of Communities in Kurdistan (KCK), established by the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), declared the ceasefire, begun in March 2013, to be over.

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'The Kurds don’t vote for me’: the Kurds and Britain

Demonstration in London against attacks on the Kurds, 1991
Demonstration in London against attacks on the Kurds, 1991

For a century, British imperialism has suppressed the Kurdish struggle for self-determination. Armed force has been used in the Middle East, while in Britain the police, prisons and criminalisation have been employed against Kurds. British governments have repeatedly supported Middle Eastern states’ oppression of the Kurds. That oppression has been integral to imperialist domination of the Middle East. Trevor Rayne reports.

* The Sykes-Picot Agreement 16 May 1916:   This secret deal between Britain and France planned the carve-up of the remains of the Ottoman Empire after the First World War. Initially, Kurds were offered a truncated Kurdistan on what is now Turkish territory, omitting the Kurds of Iran, British-controlled Iraq, and French-controlled Syria. This was proposed in the Treaty of Sevres 1920. With the success of Turkey’s Ataturk and the Turkish National Movement, the promise to the Kurds was dropped in the Treaty of Lausanne 1923. At the end of the First World War among the great losers in the Middle East were the Palestinians and the Kurds. The Turkish, Iraqi, Syrian and Iranian states were, in part, founded on the oppression of the Kurds. Kurdish self-determination is inextricably tied to the advance of democracy in the Middle East.  

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Seventh anniversary of the launch of the Kurdish liberation struggle - interview with Abdullah Ocalan

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! no. 103 - October/November 1991

15 August 1991 marked the seventh anniversary of the launching of the national liberation struggle and the founding of the ARGK (People's Liberation Army of Kurdistan). A European delegation was invited to join the celebrations at the Academy Mahsum Korkmaz (a martyr of the PKK/ARGK) training camp in the Lebanon. TREVOR RAYNE of Fight Racism! Fight imperialism! and member of the Kurdistan Solidarity Committee in London gives some impressions of his visit and selections from conversations with PKK General Secretary, Abdullah Ocalan (Apo).

High above the Bekaa Valley, deep in the embrace of the Kurdish Revolution. 11 o'clock at night and I am in a tent with the German delegation: the tent allocated to me is crammed with twenty women suckling their babies. A messenger arrives, Apo's speech is tonight.

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Kurdistan Freedom Party speaks on its role

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! no. 103 - October/November 1991

Over 40 guerrillas from the newly-formed PAK (Kurdistan Freedom Party) were training with their PKK/ARGK comrades. A leading PAK member described how, in the 1980s, the KDP (Kurdistan Democratic Party) had prevented Kurds from south Kurdistan linking up with the PKK. However, Saddam's brutal repression undermined the credibility of Barzani's KDP and Talabani's PUK (Patriotic Union of Kurdistan) leadership.

PAK: 'Following Halabja in March 1988, which was a disaster for Kurdish liberated areas, developments in north west Kurdistan allowed people in south Kurdistan (Iraq) to form direct relations with the PKK. Many people began to join in the ranks of the PKK. Some came from east Kurdistan (Iran) and some from towns in south Kurdistan and Iraq proper.

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Visit to Kurdistan

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! no. 103 - October/November 1991

FRFI supporter WILLIAM MARTIN recently visited Kurdistan and sent us this report of oppression and resistance.

The warmth, kindness and hospitality extended to me by the Kurds of the village of Yesilynva contrasted sharply with the realities of daily life in this part of north west Kurdistan. Close to the town of Uludere and hugging the mountains straddling the Turkish/Iraqi border, Yesilynva is literally in the front line of resistance to the Turkish state. In defiance of Turkicisation, the Kurdish population still call Uludere and Yesilynva by their Kurdish names of Qilaban and Rapin.

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Kurdistan: revolution at a crucial juncture

Kurdistan

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! no. 114 - August/September 1993

Republished as Chapter 3.4 in The New Warlords: from the Gulf War to the recolonisation of the Middle East, ed. Eddie Abrahams, Larkin Publications, 1994.

Events during the past year: Syria's closure of Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) bases in Lebanon, the joint Kurdish Democratic Party — Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (KDP-PUK) and Turkish army assaults on the PKK in South Kurdistan (northern Iraq), the PKK's unilateral ceasefire and resumption of hostilities in the face of Turkish state intransigence have brought the Kurdish revolution to a critical stage. TREVOR RAYNE reports.

Financial Times: Abdullah Ocalan has agreed to extend his ceasefire. Are you closer to a solution?

Suleyman Demirel: We never hear him, whatever he says. If you start hearing him, then he becomes a party to the problem . . . We should never deal with him. (Financial Times 7 May 1993)

On 17 March 1993 PKK General Secretary Abdullah Ocalan accompanied by Jalal Talabani, leader of the PUK from South Kurdistan declared a unilateral ceasefire in the Kurdish liberation struggle to run over the 21 March Newroz (New Year). The ceasefire was extended indefinitely on 16 April when Ocalan made the following demands: an end to the annihilation of Kurdish people and Turkey's military operations; a general amnesty; cultural rights such as Kurdish language radio and television stations, newspapers and books; the right to the unfettered use of the Kurdish language and the legalisation of Kurdish political organisations; the right for displaced persons to return to their homes and be compensated for damage to their houses and loss of livestock; abolition of the system of regional governors and the disarming of the village guards. Ocalan warned that if the Turkish Republic continued its operations then the ceasefire would be meaningless and the guerrilla war would have to be resumed. He appealed to the UN and to the European Parliament to send delegates to Kurdistan to observe the ceasefire.

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Kurdistan: an oppressed nation

Kurdistan

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! no. 102 - August/September 1991

Republished as Chapter 3.2 in The New Warlords: from the Gulf War to the recolonisation of the Middle East, ed. Eddie Abrahams, Larkin Publications, 1994.

'We were witnesses that the Turkish state has officially declared war. Without any reason they keep shooting innocent people. Many people are dead or injured.' This was the message from Diyarbakir in North West Kurdistan (Turkey) from Popular Labour Party (HEP) MP Mahmut Alinak after the funeral of his comrade Vedat Aydin on 10 July. Vedat Aydin was chair of the Diyarbakir branch of HEP. He had been abducted by a unit of the Turkish state's Special Forces, tortured, his body riddled with bullets and dumped. The Kurdish people's response to this activity was massive and determined: 100,000 turned the burial into a proclamation that the Kurdish national liberation struggle will not be terrorised into submission.

The Turkish army responded with further terror. Commandos and tanks ringed Diyarbakir. Helicopters bombed coaches carrying mourners to the funeral. Counter-insurgency teams opened fire on the crowds who refused to disperse, chanted the illegal slogans of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and fought back with sticks and stones.

By 13 July reports indicated some 40 people killed, 208 injured and 1,000 missing. The Special Forces have been seen burying corpses at night. Hundreds of people have been arrested, including Turkish and foreign journalists.

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Turkish state commits mass murder in Cizre

The Kurdistan National Congress (KNK) has issued a statement saying that almost 60 civilians were killed in Cizre on 7 February 2016 by Turkish state forces. It is possible that chemical weapons were used. The 60 dead people were wounded, took refuge and were trapped in the basements of two buildings in Cizre. Turkish state forces would not allow medical staff, elected politicians or family access to them before they were finally killed. The hideous manner of their death is a deliberate warning to all Kurds not to resist Erdogan and the AKP government. Turkish state broadcaster, TRT, proclaimed ‘60 terrorists killed in Cizre’ and the Prime Minister Davutoglu said it was ‘A successful operation’ . On 10 February there are reports of some 25 more people in Cizre trapped in a third basement by Turkish armed forces and facing slaughter.

Cizre is a predominantly Kurdish city of approximately 115,000 people in south-east Turkey/North Kurdistan, close to the Syrian border. It was blockaded and placed under curfew by the Turkish forces on 12 December 2015 and has been attacked by tanks and heavy artillery since. Cizre is one of several Kurdish towns and cities in Turkey to have declared self-rule. It has been attacked by the Turkish state, defended itself and has been placed under curfew. Turkey’s President Erdogan and his Justice and Development Party (AKP) government have unleashed a ferociously savage war against the Kurdish people in Turkey, with the acquiescence of the British government, the European Union and the US - this complicity in slaughter must be stopped.

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Kurds resist Turkish state onslaught

The Kurdish people are engaged in a battle for survival against the Turkish state. On 23 January 2016 the Kurdistan National Congress reported 56 curfews imposed on seven cities. The districts of Sur, Cizre and Silopi in south-east Turkey (North Kurdistan) have been under siege for over a month. In four months, state security forces have killed 268 civilians, 62 of whom were children. On 21 January Amnesty International issued a report – Turkey: end abusive operations under indefinite curfew. It describes Turkish forces preventing wounded people from receiving medical care, cuts to water and electricity supplies and access to food made dangerous. Tanks and heavy artillery, normally deployed in conventional warfare, are being used on densely populated communities, snipers are targeting children, houses are demolished at random, elected officials rounded up and imprisoned – and still the Kurdish people resist. Trevor Rayne reports.

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Israel’s war against the people - review

War against the people: Israel, the Palestinians and global pacification – Jeff Halper, Pluto Press, 2015.

How does Israel manage to get away with its brutal Occupation of the West Bank and its incessant war on Gaza? Why do imperialist powers continue to support it in its war on the Palestinians? These are the questions that Jeff Halper, the head of the activist NGO the Israeli Committee Against Housing Demolitions (ICAHD), sets out to answer in War against the people: Israel, the Palestinians and global pacification. Through a detailed examination of Israel’s international role in the development of military techniques, high tech weaponry, and security products, Halper exposes how Israel’s war against the Palestinians is a war against all oppressed people.

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Iran and Yemen - Dangerous manoeuvres in the Middle East

The Saudi-led coalition bombing of Yemen has driven 300,000 people from their homes

As the US grip on the Middle East weakens, so Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Iran are competing for positions. A Saudi-led coalition of 11 countries, backed by the US, Britain, France, Turkey and Belgium, began bombing Yemen on 26 March 2015. By mid-May, an estimated 1,500 people, mainly civilians, had been killed, 300,000 people had been driven from their homes and 700,000 were in dire need of food. Saudi Arabia says it wants to reinstall Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi as president of Yemen and to curb Iranian influence. Hadi was deposed by Houthi militia in September 2014 and fled Aden for Saudi Arabia on 25 March. Yemen’s people are victims of intensifying regional conflict. Israel sides with Saudi Arabia, but US and European imperialism are seeking to co-opt sections of the Iranian ruling class while maintaining their regional alliances. TREVOR RAYNE reports.

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Syria, Iraq and the Islamic State - the shifting balance of power in the Middle East

The Islamic State (IS) made international headlines in May with the capture of the important city of Ramadi in Iraq and the historical site of Palmyra in Syria. Despite a ten-month bombing campaign led by the US, the group now controls 50% of Syria, and 30% of Iraq. US imperialism has been unwilling to commit the resources - including ground troops - required to destroy IS. The military priorities of US imperialism are shifting to Russia and China. US imperialism cannot continue to play the role of an unchallenged superpower. Local powers are now taking centre stage in the war, with Saudi Arabia and Turkey on one side - in a tacit alliance with IS - and Syria, Iraq, Iran and Hezbollah on the other.

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Israel–US split grows as Palestinians suffer

Protest in Washington on 3 March as the Israeli Prime Minister address US Congress

The re-election of the racist war criminal Benjamin Netanyahu as the Israeli prime minister after his Likud party snatched victory from the jaws of defeat has created a political crisis. US President Obama clearly favoured the ‘change’ promised by the Zionist Union led by Tzipi Livni and Isaac Herzog, who looked to be winning the election, and was outraged at Netanyahu’s open racism and unrestrained rhetoric against Iran. At a time when US imperialism is building new alliances to refocus its strategy on controlling the Asia–Pacific region, Israel is in a difficult position. Special relationships don’t always remain special. The political landscape is shifting. But as ever, the unceasing US and EU-supported Zionist occupation means that the Palestinian people remain the real victims. The overwhelming majority of Palestinians are of course excluded from the ‘democratic’ process.

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Imperialism and the Islamic State

The Islamic State (IS) is inextricably tied to the actions of the imperialists. In FRFI 241 we argued that IS was formed as a legacy of imperialist intervention across the Middle East and beyond (see ‘Islamic State: imperialist terror’). The imperialists sponsored and funded jihadists to undermine communists, nationalists and secularists – the social and political forces which held back reactionary trends in political Islam. Countless recruits to jihadist organisations have joined to fight against brutal imperialist occupation, war and torture. It has now come to light that the IS leadership and ideology was largely forged in US prison camps in Iraq. Toby Harbertson reports.

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Victory in Kobane

After 135 days of heroic resistance the defenders of Kobane cleared the city of Islamic State (IS) forces on 26 January 2015. Representatives of the People’s Defence Units (YPG) and Women’s Defence Units (YPJ) said that they would proceed to clear the surrounding villages of IS. IS attacked Kobane on 15 September 2014. Over 200,000 people crossed the border into Turkey. Turkey’s President Erdogan said, ‘Kobane may fall very soon.’ The Kurdish fighters fought with determination, organisation and skill. They were joined by peshmerga from South Kurdistan (northern Iraq), volunteers from the Turkish Marxist Leninist Communist Party (MLKP), elements of the Free Syrian Army and others and they were helped by bomb attacks on IS positions by the US Air Force. The Turkish state obstructed volunteers from joining the defence of Kobane from North Kurdistan (Turkey). In the end, IS forces were reported fleeing into Turkey, to be escorted away from the border with Syria by Turkish troops.

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Israel, Hezbollah, and Al Qaeda: the war in the Golan Heights

The Zionist settler state of Israel has made clear that it intends to increase its military involvement in southern Syria, against the resistance axis of Hezbollah, the Syrian government, Iran and Palestinian militants, and in a tacit alliance with Al Qaeda’s Syrian branch, Jabhat Al Nusra (JN). Israeli drones launched an unprovoked drone strike on Hezbollah soldiers on 18 January near the Syrian town of Quneitra, killing eight, including an Iranian general. After further Israeli strikes on Syrian positions, Hezbollah retaliated, killing two Israeli soldiers. Following this, Israeli attacks on southern Lebanon killed a Spanish UN soldier. With the major imperialist powers taking steps to normalise relations with Iran, and giving qualified support to peace negotiations involving the Syrian government, Israel sees attacks on Syria and Hezbollah as the best way to reassert its own interests.

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Islamic State: Permanent war in the Middle East

The Islamic State (IS) in Syria and Iraq presents a huge problem for the imperialists, right at the heart of one of the world’s most resource rich regions. Through decades of war and manipulation the US, Britain, France and other imperialist powers have created the social, economic and sectarian conditions for the rise of IS. Every state in the region has been shaped by its relationship to the imperialist system. But the crisis of the system is accelerating. Contradictions are throwing themselves up in the path of imperialist strategy. Reacting to new obstacles the imperialists are creating yet more problems – for their own interests and for the people of the region. Having let IS grow to challenge the Syrian government and Iran’s growing influence, NATO powers have created a fundamentalist monster they can neither control nor destroy. They were forced to take action when IS posed a threat to their oil interests in Iraq. Now they are left fighting an expensive and difficult war in Iraq and Syria, with a lack of commitment from regional allies and threats to their economic hegemony on the horizon. Toby Harbertson reports.

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Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! says Long Live Kurdistan! Biji Kurdistan!

Kobane

Speech by Trevor Rayne from Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! to the demonstration to support the Kurdish resistance forces of the YPG and YPJ in Kobane called by the Kurdistan National Congress in Parliament Square, London on 11 October 2014.

Today, the struggle of the Kurdish people in Kobane is on the front line of the struggle for all of humanity. They are not just fighting the Islamic State they are fighting the forces of barbarism, of ignorance and intolerance, the forces of mass murder and those who, like the Turkish state, would excuse them and use them for their own short term and selfish ends.

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War on ‘IS’ targets Syria

The US and British imperialists have launched their third war on Iraq in 24 years. Along with other NATO powers and their regional clients, they again expect to remain openly engaged in the Middle East for years. Imperialist bombs are once again destroying countless lives for the bank accounts of the ruling classes. In whipping up an international military campaign against the jihadist Islamic State (IS) the imperialists have provided a cover for escalating their campaign to destroy the Syrian government. A bombing campaign against Syria was thwarted in September 2013. However, as the crisis of capitalism deepens, and rivals emerge, the need for strategic domination increases. This new war will only create more contradictions, more chaos and more resistance. Toby Harbertson reports.

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Islamic State, imperialist terror

Forces of the Islamic State (IS) now control around one third of the territory of both Iraq and Syria. The CIA suggests that they command around 30,000 armed militants. A fundamentalist, jihadist group, their attacks on religious and ethnic minorities, videos showing the beheading of US and British hostages, and reactionary practices towards women have all been well publicised by the ruling class media. The group is well armed, organised, and funded. They have been attracting recruits from all over the world. Fifteen years ago however, secular Ba’athist governments were in power in both Syria and Iraq, where the rights of religious minorities and women were safeguarded. These functioning states with modern infrastructure put neighbouring imperialist client states to shame. So how did a group like IS come to occupy such a strong position in the Middle East? Toby Harbertson looks at its roots.

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A critical time for the Kurdish struggle

By 23 September 2014 140,000 Kurdish people had left Kobane Canton in Rojava (West Kurdistan) in Syria for Turkey. Over one hundred villages were evacuated in the face of an Islamic State (IS) attack. IS was reported to have 40 tanks and 30 armoured personnel carriers 12 miles from Kobane city. Kurdish groups were amassing a large fighting force to resist the attack. Turkish police and soldiers forcibly prevented Kurds from crossing from Turkey to fight IS. There is evidence of Turkish state complicity in the IS operation. The Turkish government and other regional powers fear the democratic and revolutionary potential of Rojava and the liberation struggle of the Kurds in North Kurdistan (Turkey), led by the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). While the US, Britain and NATO talk of defeating IS they have hesitated to help Rojava resist the attack. Trevor Rayne reports.

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Imperialists launch war on Islamic State in Iraq and Syria

On 11 September 2014, Barack Obama, US President and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate announced the escalation of the military campaign against the Islamic State (IS), extending air strikes and military operations from Iraq into Syria. This will be accompanied by a renewed push to arm and support ‘moderate’ rebel forces who have been fighting Syrian President Assad. At the NATO summit in Newport on 4 September, British Prime Minister David Cameron argued that Assad’s ‘illegitimacy’ provided moral and legal justification for breaching Syrian sovereignty in the pursuit of IS. On 11 September, a spokesperson for Cameron stated that the British state had ruled out nothing over Syria. It is only a year since a proposal in the House of Commons calling for airstrikes was defeated. It is also a year since Obama attempted to build a coalition to launch a war against Syria. Splits in the ruling classes foiled imperialists plans at that time. However, as the crisis of capitalism deepens, and rivals emerge, the need for strategic domination increases. A year later, IS has provided the suitable pretext for war which chemical weapons could not. Openly fighting a war inside Syria’s borders, whatever the stated aim, could provide the imperialists with a strategy to finally overturn the Syrian government.

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Qatar: a fairy godmother for the warmongers

Map of Qatar

On 14 July 2014 at the Pentagon, US Secretary of Defence Chuck Hagel signed a $11bn arms deal with representatives of the Qatar government to provide Apache helicopters, advanced Patriot surface-to-air missiles and Javelin handheld ground-to-air defence systems to one of the world's most ruthless, reactionary dictatorships. The biggest arms deal of 2014 was a reward for the good behaviour of the Qatari ruling class in defending US imperialist interests in the Middle East and North Africa, including Qatar's arms supplies to 'rebel' groups in Syria, its role in the brutal 2011 NATO invasion of Libya and for maintaining a fort against revolution in the Gulf. Qatar has defence pacts with the US, Britain and France and hosts the biggest US military base in the Middle East.

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The end of Sykes-Picot? - Redrawing the Middle East borders

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! 240 August/September 2014

In mid-July IS launched a major offensive in Syria capturing most of the oil-rich Deir ez-Zor province which borders Iraq.

At the end of June and the beginning of Ramadan, the Sunni group then known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) announced the establishment of the Islamic State across the lands it had captured, from the outskirts of Aleppo in eastern Syria to Suleiman Beg in the Diyala province of Iraq. ISIS (now renamed The Islamic State – IS) proclaimed its leader Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi as Caliph of all Muslims. IS propaganda proclaimed the ‘End of Sykes-Picot’ referring to the 1916 agreement when British and French imperialists drew new borders for the region, in order to secure resources and power. The historic region of Al Sham, which IS intends to capture, extends over all the lands carved up by this agreement, including Jordan, Lebanon and beyond. Jim Craven and Toby Harbertson report.

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The tilting balance in the Middle East and North Africa

The furious demonstrations and attacks on US and other western embassies in over 20 countries from Nigeria to Indonesia in September express the anger of millions of people at their oppression by imperialism. For the people from Tunis to Benghazi, Cairo to Karachi, the US-made video insulting the Prophet Mohammed represents the imperialists’ humiliation of their people and their nations – which they have suffered for over a century. However the US, Britain, France and their allies manoeuvre to contain and co-opt the people’s risings, the Arab Spring still threatens to weaken and break the entire edifice that was constructed by the victorious powers after World War One to dominate the Middle East and North Africa.

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Middle East and North Africa: Spring has yet to bring a summer

The ‘Arab Spring’ has yet to bring a summer for the region’s masses. Imperialism responded to the risings in Tunisia and Egypt in early 2011 by mobilising its local allies, principally Saudi Arabia and its five fellow Gulf Cooperation Council partners. It turned the revolt against Colonel Gaddafi’s government into a NATO-led war. The rebellion in Bahrain was crushed with help from Saudi and United Arab Emirates’ forces. Now imperialism is using its regional allies, including Turkey, to fund and equip forces to overthrow the Syrian state. US imperialism and Israel wage covert war against Iran, accompanied by US and European Union sanctions that amount to economic warfare.

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The King of Bahrain - an FRFI guide– May 2012

The King of Bahrain - an FRFI guide

The King of Bahrain, Hamad bin Isa Khalifa, was a guest of HM Queen Elizabeth II for her Diamond Jubilee lunch at Windsor Castle on 18 May 2012. He also hosted the Formula 1 Grand Prix on 22 April 2012. Below are some interesting facts for FRFI readers.

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Murderous British imperialism - military operations in North Africa and the Middle East since 1945

Murderous British imperialism - military operations in North Africa and the Middle East since 1945

The Royal Air Force bombing of Syria on 3 December 2015 is the 50th separate British military intervention in the Middle East and North Africa since the end of the Second World War. This region contains approximately half of the world’s proven oil reserves; control over these reserves and the distribution of oil is essential for the British ruling class and for the balance of power between the competing imperialist states.

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Arming the Middle East and North Africa

While US President Obama and British Prime Minister Cameron talk of a ‘free democratic and prosperous’ Libya and say that they are promoting democracy throughout the region, the US and British governments are arming dictatorial regimes to save these regimes from the masses.

World military expenditure in 2000 was $810 billion. In 2006 it had reached $1.2 trillion and in 2010 it was $1.63 trillion; that is double the 2000 figure. The US accounts for 43% of world military spending, an 81% increase on 2001, and its defence budget is ten times that of its nearest rival China. The profits of the US arms companies have quadrupled in the past decade. BAE Systems UK had the second largest arms sales of any company in the world in 2009. If we combine BAE Systems UK with its operations in the US and Australia then it had the largest arms sales in 2009 by far. Eleven out of the top 100 arms companies are based in Britain. According to the Ministry of Defence the UK security sector has 18,000 companies and employs 335,000 people.

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Hands off the Middle East and North Africa

The people’s revolt across the Middle East and North Africa continues to send tremors through the centres of imperialist power. The capitalists are pledging billions of dollars to shore up states and maintain their grip on the region. In Libya they send missiles and helicopter gunships, always in the name of democracy and humanitarianism, never in the name of oil and power. For every dollar they give as aid, they send twenty as weapons. The demands of the risen peoples of the Middle East and North Africa threaten the entire system of exploitation that has ruled over them and much of the world for more than a century – imperialism.

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