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Category: Middle East

Another Grim Aniversary For Gaza

Another grim anniversary for Gaza
Efforts to end the Gaza blockade must go hand in hand with the wider Palestinian right to self-determination.By
Sharif Nashashibi

Sharif Nashashibi is an award-winning journalist and analyst on Arab affairs.

July 8 marks the anniversary of last year’s Israeli onslaught against Gaza. Commonly and mistakenly described as a war against Hamas, the targets and victims were overwhelmingly civilian (a consistent and deliberate Israeli military strategy). According to the United Nations, two-thirds of the 2,251 Palestinian fatalities were civilian, including 551 children and 299 women.
More than 1,500 children were orphaned. Children and women comprised almost two-thirds of the 11,231 Palestinians injured, 10 percent of whom are permanently disabled. A report by Save The Children on July 6 documented continued “severe emotional distress” among children, including regular bedwetting and nightmares.
Some 19,000 homes were totally or partially destroyed, and 500,000 Palestinians (28 percent of Gaza’s population) were displaced, in what the UN described as “the largest displacement recorded in Gaza since 1967”.

Gaza anniversary

Has Israel committed war crimes in Gaza?
The anniversary of the war will attract predictions about the likelihood or inevitability of the next one. Certainly, for the people of Gaza that prospect is always on the horizon.
Most extremist
Israel’s recently elected government – aptly described as the most extremist in the country’s history (and that is saying something) – consists of figures who believe Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has actually been too soft on Hamas, and want a full-scale invasion and reoccupation of Gaza to wipe out the Palestinian faction.
The terms of last summer’s ceasefire agreement repeat the basic flaws that doomed previous truces: vague wording, and the postponement of talks on the fundamental issues. That means ample time and opportunity for the ceasefire to unravel (Israel has repeatedly violated it).
There is no mention of Egypt or Israel ending their blockades of Gaza, nor of the wider issue of Palestinian statehood. Israel even balks at smaller-scale issues such as constructing a Gaza seaport and rebuilding the airport that was bombed in 2000.
Furthermore, Netanyahu may feel that whenever his popularity is flagging, the remedy is another assault on Gaza. His public approval ratings were sky high during last year’s onslaught, peaking at 82 percent when the ground invasion began.
Gaza’s civilian population has for too long languished in what is aptly described as the world’s largest open-air prison.

So yet another war may be a matter of when, not if, but the next one might not necessarily be with Israel. Last week, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) threatened to “uproot” and “overrun” the “tyrants of Hamas” in Gaza, and to implement sharia law there.
The threat should be taken seriously, given that it follows a string of recent attacks carried out by its sympathisers against Hamas in Gaza – a jihadist challenge to the latter’s authority that would have been unthinkable not long ago. There have reportedly been at least a dozen such attacks so far this year alone, including four in May.

Desperate population

The humanitarian catastrophe that the years-long blockade has caused in Gaza is providing ISIL with fertile ground for recruitment among sections of the impoverished territory’s increasingly desperate population.
“The blockade – now in place for eight years – has devastated Gaza’s economy, left most people unable to leave Gaza, restricted people from essential services such as healthcare and education, and cut Palestinians in Gaza off from those in the West Bank,” said Oxfam on July 3.
According to its report, more than 40 percent of people in Gaza are unemployed, including 67 percent of youth, “the highest rate in the world”. A whopping 80 percent of people are in need of aid, and exports are at less than 3 percent of their pre-blockade levels due to “heavy restrictions” on the transfer of goods.
“Many key industries … have been decimated as essential materials are not allowed” into Gaza, “most of the water supply is unsafe to drink and there are power cuts of 12 hours a day”.

Debate about whether or when conflict will erupt again takes place under the fundamentally flawed premise that war entails simply the resumption of military hostilities. The blockade itself is an act of war, with no end in sight. Focusing only on violence gives the false impression that in its absence there is peace in Gaza, which is occasionally and inexplicably broken by Palestinian militants.
Last summer’s Israeli onslaught did not create a humanitarian disaster – it exacerbated a long-festering one.
“One year on… life for many people in Gaza is getting worse,” said Oxfam, adding that “an already vulnerable civilian population has been left even more vulnerable.”
Not a single home that was totally or partially destroyed has been rebuilt, due to the blockade’s restrictions on building materials.
Moral imperative
A complete lifting of the blockade is a moral imperative, as Gaza’s civilian population has for too long languished in what is aptly described as the world’s largest open-air prison. However, that should be seen as a stepping-stone to realising Palestinian rights and aspirations, not an end-all solution.
The blockade and its duration – even efforts to end it – have created a discourse that views Gaza increasingly as a distinct entity separate from the rest of Palestine and its people. This serves Israel’s divide-and-conquer strategy, which must be resisted.
Efforts to end the blockade must go hand in hand with the wider Palestinian right to self-determination. Palestinians may be geographically and politically divided, but they are one people and one nation.
Even if the blockade were lifted, Gazans would not accept to leave their compatriots to their own fate. Sadly, however, the end of their misery remains a more distant prospect than the resumption of armed conflict, for which there will be more grim anniversaries.
Sharif Nashashibi is an award-winning journalist and analyst on Arab affairs.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial policy.

https://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2015/07/grim-anniversary-gaza-150708061032649.html

 

“More Than 20 Million People Are At Risk Of Starving To Death. Will the World Step Up?” Asks Washington Post

More than 20 million people are at risk of starving to death. Will the world step up?

July 17 at 7:23 PM

MORE THAN 20 million people in four countries are at risk of starvation in the coming months, in what the United Nations has called the worst humanitarian crisis since World War II. But the global response to the emergency has been lacking, both from governments and from private citizens. As of Monday, the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs was reporting that only 43 percent of the $6.27 billion needed to head off famine this year in Yemen, Somalia, South Sudan and Nigeria had been raised. A poll by the International Rescue Committee showed that 85 percent of Americans are largely uninformed about the food shortages. The IRC calls it “likely the least reported but most important major issue of our time.”

Accounts by the United Nations, the U.S. government and private aid groups more than back up that claim. More than half the populations of Somalia and South Sudan are in need of emergency food assistance, according to the U.S. Agency for International Development. Civil wars in those countries have combined with meager spring rains to drastically reduce food supplies. In Nigeria, some 5 million people are at risk in the northeastern provinces where the terrorist group Boko Haram is active.

The most harrowing reports come from Yemen, where the United Nations says a staggering 20 million people need humanitarian aid. In addition to millions who lack food, more than 330,000 people have been afflicted by a cholera epidemic since late April, with one person dying nearly every hour on average. Donors have supplied less than 40 percent of the aid Yemen needs to prevent starvation, and officials have recently been forced to divert some of that assistance to fight cholera. In all four countries, children are disproportionately affected: Aid groups say 1.4 million severely malnourished children could die in the next few months if more help is not forthcoming.

The United States has responded relatively generously to U.N. appeals, thanks largely to Congress, which inserted an extra $990 million in food aid for the four countries into this year’s budget. Aid officials complain that the Trump administration has been sluggish in distributing the funds, but this month USAID announced an additional $630 million in aid, bringing the U.S. total since November to $1.9 billion. Unfortunately, U.S. security policy is helping to exacerbate the crisis that the aid is meant to stem: In Yemen, the Pentagon continues to back a misguided military intervention led by Saudi Arabia that has choked imports of food and medicine.

With public awareness still lagging, one encouraging development has been the formation by eight large U.S. private relief organizations of an unprecedented alliance, the Global Emergency Response Coalition, which on Monday launched a two-week fundraising drive. The campaign has attracted backing from several U.S. corporations, including Blackrock, PepsiCo and Google; funds raised will be divided equally among the relief groups and used for aid in the four countries as well as six of their neighbors. The groups correctly make the point that further delays in aid, whether because of a lack of donations or bureaucratic slowness in distributing them, will translate directly into more avoidable deaths. “The crisis,” says Carolyn Miles, the chief executive of Save the Children, “is really reaching a peak.”

 

The Question the Washington post fails to ask: Will the Elite cough up a few of their tax-haven trillions to help this humanitarian crisis?
….that’ll be the day. Welcome to the 2030 Agenda. The Elite create the crises, then ask the world to fix ’em.

 

Turkey Marks Failed Coup Anniversary

With trinkets and commemorative items on sale, Turkey celebrates the anniversary of the failed Coup. With his “emergency powers” Erdogan seems untouchable, and has himself marked this anniversary with the purge of thousands of workers, and some grim remarks:

“TURKEY’S president addressed tens of thousands of people at a ceremony marking the first anniversary of the country’s crushed military coup, vowing to “rip the heads off” of terror groups and of the coup-plotters who tried to end his more than a decade-long rule.”

https://www.news.com.au/world/middle-east/a-treacherous-attempt-turkish-president-blasts-failed-coup-on-year-anniversary/news-story/afd225e24353740e52fe3e36470df7df

Turkish voters will decide Sunday whether to replace the Turkish Republic’s parliamentary form of government with a strong presidency. It’s a vote that could alter — or, opponents say, endanger — the democratic traditions of this key U.S. ally. Turkey is a NATO member helping fight ISIS.
If the referendum passes, it will increase the power of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Polls released late in the campaign showed a narrow lead for “yes,” with a large number still declaring themselves undecided. Erdogan is predicting at least a 55 percent margin for “yes.”

Parallels
Turkey’s President Erdogan Pushes For Broader Powers
The vote comes at a perilous time. Turkey remains under a state of emergency declared last July, following a failed coup that left nearly 300 people dead. The Erdogan government has used the emergency powers to conduct a sweeping purge of the military, judiciary and civil service. More than 100,000 people have been fired or arrested, including more than 100 journalists…..

https://www.npr.org/sections/parallels/2017/04/15/522771237/will-turkey-vote-to-give-erdogan-even-more-power

Narendra Modi in Israel: Don’t believe the hype, India isn’t abandoning support for Palestine

It seems only fair that the first Indian prime minister to visit Israel is Narendra Modi of the BJP.

Benjamin Netanyahu and Narendra Modi at Tel Aviv airport on Tuesday. PTI

Benjamin Netanyahu and Narendra Modi at Tel Aviv airport on Tuesday. PTI

The party had, even when it was in the Opposition, advocated closer ties to Israel, a nation much admired by the BJP and the Sangh Parivar for its aggressive defence capabilities and disproportionate retaliation for every missile launched from Palestinian soil.

In the hubbub surrounding Modi’s visit, former prime minister PV Narasimha Rao is almost forgotten. It was Rao, ever the pragmatist, who decided to improve relations with with Israel in 1992, at the end of the Cold War.

So he should be given some credit, especially as the Congress party since Independence had been a forceful advocate of Palestinian rights and Rao’s decision would have shocked several party stalwarts.

Israel prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu is going all out to make Modi’s visit — to mark 25 years of diplomatic ties — a memorable one. He will receive Modi at the airport, which he has done only for US president Donald Trump. Remember, the US is Israel’s closest ally.  Netanyahu will also accompany Modi everywhere during the trip.

In fact, there has been so much focus on the Modi visit, that Israel’s well respected newspaper Haaretz, wondered if India was to replace the US as Tel Aviv’s major ally: “Judging by the multiple ‘promo’ articles in the Indian and Israel press pre-announcing the visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Israel in July 2017, India could be Israel’s greatest ally. Uncertain of President Trump’s stand on several key issues, will ‘redemption’ come to Jerusalem via New Delhi?”

And the same piece goes on to say: “Indeed, the stakes are high. Israel has already signed on its largest deal in history: a $2 billion defense agreement (reportedly, $1.6 billion for Israel Aerospace Industries and $0.4 billion for Rafael, a a state-owned defense company) by which India will purchase anti-missile systems and
components made in Israel.’’

Yet despite the friendship and the hype around it, Modi will need to balance relations with Israel with that of other Gulf countries. The tight rope walk that India has always done since 1992, will continue to be Delhi’s focus. Modi knows that well and has drawn red lines.

In interviews ahead of the visit, the prime minister made it clear that on certain issues, he would not completely break from the past. When asked if India would shift its embassy to Jerusalem by an Israeli newspaper that was pro-government, unlike Trump, who promised he would do so during the election, Modi gave a categorical no.

Modi also stuck to Delhi’s line on the Palestinian issue: “India believes in a two-state solution in which both Israel and a future Palestinian state coexist peacefully,” he said on Monday.

He went on to say: “A final-status agreement should respect the sentiments and address demands of all affected parties,” he added. So despite India’s close ties with Israel, it is not as if Delhi is going to ignore Palestine or the Gulf countries.

There has been much talk about breaking with convention and making the trip to Israel a stand-alone visit. It had been mandatory for all Indian leaders to visit both Israel and Palestine. President Pranab Mukherjee as well as Vice-President Hamid Ansari had done so.

While Modi is not visiting Palestine, India had invited President Mahmoud Abbas to Delhi in May and again reiterated Delhi’s support for a Palestinian state. Despite Modi’s desire to expand ties with Israel and upgrade it to perhaps a strategic partnership, Modi has not neglected the Gulf nations. He has invested both time and effort and established a rapport with the ruling families of Saudi Arabi, Qatar, and UAE and has visited each of these countries.

Considering over seven million Indians live and work out of the region and send back remittances fluctuating between $35 and $4o billion annually, the Arab states cannot be ignored.

The bulk of India’s oil supplies and 80 percent of its natural gas is imported from the region. So Modi knows that he cannot tilt completely towards Israel without offending key Arab leaders. Though the Arab states have paid mere lip service to the Palestinian cause in the last two decades, a complete change of India’s policy towards Palestine will not go down well in the region. It will be interpreted as part of the the BJP government’s anti-Muslim stand.

Leaders of the region are also aware that Kashmir, India’s only Muslim majority state, is on the boil as street protests take on the BJP-PDP government in Srinagar. Despite the violence and the crackdown by the authorities in Kashmir, the Gulf leaders, have not so far made many statements on the situation in Kashmir.

In the early days, there would have been an outpouring of concern from every Arab capital on the Valley. More significant has been the cooperation of both Saudi Arabia and the UAE in getting terror suspects back from these countries.

Published Date: Jul 05, 2017 06:46 am | Updated Date: Jul 05, 2017 06:46 am

Water: India is desperately short of it, and Israel is a leader in desalination and irrigation tech. Might be a key ingredient in this scenario?

The new Saudi crown prince “is good news for the US”

Image result for Saudi new prince vision 2030

by Tom Rogan |

 

The ailing King Salman of Saudi Arabia has replaced Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef with Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

The crown prince is the successor-designate to the Saudi throne.

The first thing to note, however, is that this doesn’t portend any major changes in the kingdom’s pro-U.S. sentiment. Both Mohammed bin Nayef and Mohammed bin Salman belong to the pro-U.S. wing of the House of Saud. They recognize that the U.S. government is crucial to the royal family’s long term survival.

Instead, while there’s a dynastic element to King Salman’s pick (bin Salman is his son), this appointment speaks to looming domestic reforms.

After all, just 31 years old, Mohammed bin Salman breaks the tradition of geriatric Saudi monarchs. By appointing bin Salman as crown prince, King Salman knows he’s laying a foundation for around five decades.

And under the banner of his “Vision 2030” program, bin Salman plans vast changes to Saudi Arabia’s governance, economy and society.

 Read More:
“GOOD FOR THE U.S?” OR  GOOD FOR GLOBALISM? DOES ANYONE SEE THE UN 2030 AGENDA AT WORK YET AGAIN?
Vision 2030 Arab

Jared Kushner: Man On A Middle-Eastern Mission

 Jared Kushner: The young, well spoken, impeccably groomed son-in-law seems to be unstoppable in his rise to prominence. I mark him as a man to watch very closely. There is certain to be speculation and controversy galore with this man!
FROM REUTERS:
By Luke Baker | JERUSALEM

JERUSALEM U.S. President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, met Israeli and Palestinian leaders on Wednesday to try to revive long-fractured Middle East peacemaking that Washington acknowledged will take some time.

Kushner, a 36-year-old real estate developer with little experience of international diplomacy or political negotiation, arrived in Israel on Wednesday morning and was due to spend barely 20 hours on the ground.

Video showed him giving Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a friend of Kushner’s father, a handshake and a hug as they prepared to sit down with the Israeli ambassador to Washington, the U.S. ambassador to Israel and other senior officials for preliminary discussions.

“This is an opportunity to pursue our common goals of security, prosperity and peace,” Netanyahu said. “Jared, I welcome you here in that spirit. I know of your efforts, the president’s efforts, and I look forward to working with you to achieve these common goals.”

Kushner replied: “The president sends his best regards and it’s an honor to be here with you.”

Kushner did not speak to the media or take questions, maintaining the circumspect profile he has established since Trump took office in January.

U.S. officials and Israeli leaders “underscored that forging peace will take time and stressed the importance of doing everything possible to create an environment conducive to peacemaking,” the White House later said in a statement.

Kushner traveled to Ramallah, in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, for two hours of talks with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas after iftar, the evening meal that breaks the daily Ramadan fast.

Abbas spokesman Nabil Abu Rdainah said all major issues at the heart of the conflict were discussed.

U.S. officials called the trip part of an effort to keep the conversation going rather than the launching of a new phase in the peace process, saying that Kushner and Jason Greenblatt, the president’s special representative for international negotiations, are likely to return often.

Trump has described peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians as “the ultimate deal” and made it a priority. As well as receiving both Netanyahu and Abbas in the White House, he visited the region last month.

But it remains unclear what approach Trump, via Kushner and Greenblatt, plans to take on resolving one of the world’s most intractable conflicts.

For at least two decades, the goal of U.S.-led diplomacy has been a “two-state solution”, meaning an independent Palestinian state living side-by-side and at peace with Israel.

But when Trump met Netanyahu in Washington in February, he said he was not fixed on two states saying, “I’m looking at two-state and one-state, and I like the one that both parties like”.

12 ‘BULLET POINTS’

Netanyahu has in the past given conditional backing to two states. But ahead of his last election victory in 2015, he promised there would never be a Palestinian state on his watch, a remark seen as an attempt to shore up right-wing support.

In discussions with Greenblatt before Kushner’s visit, Palestinian sources said the phrase “two-state solution” had not been used.

Palestinian sources said that ahead of Kushner’s meeting with Abbas, they had been asked to draw up a list of 12 “bullet point” demands they would want met in any negotiations.

They saw it as a helpful exercise in focusing on core elements rather than an oversimplification of a complex issue.

Trump administration officials have said that if they are going to make progress on peace, they do not want to get bogged down in process but to move rapidly on tackling what are known as “final status” issues, the complexities around Jerusalem, Palestinian refugees, water resources, security and borders.

Those have long been thorny problems in the multiple rounds of peace negotiations launched by both Republican and Democratic presidents since the mid-1990s. It remains unclear what new approach Trump’s administration may have to untangling disputes that blend politics, land, religion and ethnicity and have defied resolution for 70 years.

(Additional reporting by Jeffrey Heller and Ali Sawafta; Editing by Howard Goller)

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-israel-palestinians-usa-talks-idUSKBN19C162

AND FOR A DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVE:

Even before Benjamin Netanyahu locked him in a warm embrace, Jared Kushner began his effort to broker peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians by making it clear that he completely accepts Israel’s vision of itself as an innocent victim.

That’s because Kushner started his 15-hour trip to the Middle East on Wednesday by mourning with the family of an Israeli police officer, Hadas Malka, who was killed by a Palestinian assailant in East Jerusalem on Friday.

Since her death, Israelis have been outraged over the murder of Malka, who was a member of the border police force charged with maintaining Israeli control in the Old City of Jerusalem, one of the Palestinian territories occupied by Israel since 1967.

Read more:

https://theintercept.com/2017/06/21/jared-kushners-pursuit-middle-east-peace-looks-lot-like-total-surrender-israel/

See also:

Jared Kushner: “There Is Something Very Strange About This Man”: Video

Russia Warns U.S. After Downing of Syrian Warplane

Syria Russia

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/18/world/middleeast/iran-syria-missile-launch-islamic-state.html?ribbon-ad-idx=5&rref=world/middleeast&module=Ribbon&version=context&region=Header&action=click&contentCollection=Middle%20East&pgtype=article

“WASHINGTON — An American fighter jet shot down a Syrian warplane on Sunday after it dropped bombs near local ground forces supported by the United States, the first time the American military has downed a Syrian aircraft since the start of the civil war in 2011, officials said.

The confrontation represents a further escalation between forces supporting President Bashar al-Assad of Syria and the United States, which has been directing the military campaign in Syria and Iraq against the Islamic State.

The American F/A-18 shot down the Syrian government warplane south of the town of Tabqah, on the same day that Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps launched several midrange missiles from inside Iran at targets in Syria, hoping to punish Islamic State forces responsible for last week’s terrorist attacks in Tehran.

The Guards Corp said it “targeted the headquarters and meeting place and suicide car assembly line” of “ISIS terrorists” in the province of Deir al-Zour, where Islamic State forces surround an estimated 200,000 people in a government-held section of the provincial capital of the same name…..”

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/russia-shoot-down-all-flying-objects-in-syria-us-regime-warplane-isis-terror-a7797101.html

Credit Vadim Savitsky/Russian Defence, via European Pressphoto Agency

WASHINGTON — Long-running tensions between the United States and Russia erupted publicly on Monday as Moscow condemned the American military’s downing of a Syrian warplane and threatened to target aircraft flown by the United States and its allies west of the Euphrates.

The Russians also said they had suspended their use of a hotline that the American and Russian militaries used to avoid collisions of their aircraft in Syrian airspace.

The episode was the first time the United States downed a Syrian plane since the civil war began there in 2011 and came after the SU-22 jet dropped bombs on Sunday near American-backed fighters combating the Islamic State. It followed another major American military action against the Syrian government: a cruise missile strike to punish a nerve gas attack that killed civilians in April.

The latest escalation comes as competing forces converge on ungoverned swaths of Syria amid the country’s six-year civil war. Syrian forces and Iranian-backed militias that support them are extending their reach east closer to American-backed fighters, including forces that the Pentagon hopes will pursue the militants into the Euphrates River valley after they take the Islamic State’s self-declared capital of Raqqa. The collision of the disparate forces has, in effect, created a war within a war.

More:

“I would be very surprised if they willfully shot down a U.S. plane that came to bomb some al Qaeda target west of the Euphrates River,” said Michael O’Hanlon, a senior fellow in foreign policy at the Brookings Institution, a think-tank in Washington. “On the other hand, if we’re coming after Assad’s forces with some big armada, maybe they want us to be a little nervous that maybe we’d get shot at.”

O’Hanlon added, “They’re trying to create some deterrents, or some limits, on our involvement in escalation. And it’s consistent with the way this thing has been going back and forth for a while.”

Then again, some analysts believe the Russians are issuing empty threats because they can’t afford the consequences of doing anything more.

“A lot of of this is saber rattling and bluster from the Russians who are clearly unnerved actually by recent U.S. actions,” said Gardiner.

Gardiner said it’s significant that when a plane from NATO-member Turkey shot down a Russian fighter operating from Syria in 2015 there was rhetoric from Moscow but not a whole lot of action……

https://www.cnbc.com/2017/06/20/russian-threat-to-target-us-aircraft-in-syria-seen-as-more-bluster.html

Sabre-rattling, or serious threat? Maybe there wasn’t a lot of action in 2015, but things have moved on. I guess we’ll find out what the next move is soon enough.

A genuine Left is rising in Britain: What are the implications for the Middle East?

Interesting comments on the rise of the “Authentic Left”, the appeal to Youth, reducing the power of the far Right, and  the rise of Sanders, Mélenchon and Corbyn:

Dimitris Konstantakopoulos
CounterPunch
Wed, 14 Jun 2017 21:11 UTC

© Garry Knight

The other day a friend almost told me off when I said I don’t exclude even an election win for Corbyn, but I certainly exclude the possibility that the Tories are going to romp home.

He was not the only person with this view. Once again, the great majority of observers throughout the world, but also politicians, proved completely wrong in their forecasts. Having succeeded in controlling the totality of public life, political correctness has fallen victim to its own success, reaching the point where it deceives itself, mistaking its own pronouncements for reality.

There is nothing accidental about this. It is a systematic, not a random error and this is why it is constantly being repeated. It was seen in the referenda in the Netherlands and Britain, in the elections in the US and France, in the Spanish Socialist Party, and now again in Britain.

Such mistakes always emerge in periods of deep crisis and transition to a new historical epoch. People tend to analyze the future in terms of the experienced past and present.

I read somewhere that the turn of the British and American Left to candidates in their seventies is the surest sign of their decline. The commentator who wrote this evidently perceives the crisis of the system as a crisis of the Left, at the very moment when in a number of centrally important Western countries it is the Left that is arising from its ashes, in tandem with the far right, precisely because something is going very wrong.

The reason that Corbyn, Sanders and Mélenchon are so attractive, particularly to very young people, is that this age group, who represent the future, are condemned to a precarious existence in an ugly, unacceptable, dangerous, prehistoric and barbaric world and are searching intently for a political solution. (In passing, the recent French and British elections have shown that the emergence of a genuine, authentic left drastically reduces the power of the far right – the vast majority of European citizens are mainly interested in maintaining their social gains and the basics of democracy)

The commentator is evidently unaware of the cyclical elements in history, including in the realm of ideas. He appears to think that the system that he himself imbibed, which shaped his life and which he believes in and serves, cannot be disturbed. It will remain forever in place, less and less disputed, as in Fukuyama’s postulated End of History.

They find “seventy-year-olds” to represent them because they do not often come across people in the intermediate age groups, given that they have almost all compromised or withdrawn from the conflict, in the course of almost a half-century of undisturbed hegemony of neo-liberalism and the international rule of financial capital (“globalization”). Some have not compromised: they have remained in the arena and now they meet up once again with the historic wave expressing the “social question”, which has once again become relevant, as much as it was two hundred years ago. It has become relevant, ironically, at the very moment when many have proclaimed “transcendence” of Left and Right, a political distinction that has its origins in precisely that social question in the past.

The stormy entry of youth, and particularly of students, into politics, played a basic role in the rise of Sanders, Mélenchon and Corbyn.

The youth is looking for a solution to its huge social problems, but also feels that the planet is on the wrong course. All of this is encapsulated in a desperate search for honest politicians: people of integrity.

A recent study in the USA showed that among teens from 16 to 20 years of age, 45% would vote socialist and 21% communist, in a country where socialists and communists hardly exist.

A Defeat for the War Party

As illustrated by the crisis with Qatar, the continual reappearance of war plans against Assad, Iran and Korea, plans in other words that were elaborated and publicized twenty years ago by American neocons and their friends, within the parameters of what has been called a “Strategy of Chaos”, remain permanently in force, threatening a new escalation in the Middle East and Far East and conceivably involving a nuclear cataclysm at some point.

The otherwise inexplicable early elections called by Theresa May possibly aimed at clearing the British political scene of the annoying Mr. Corbyn, whose presence at the head of one of the two main political parties was never tolerated by the country’s establishment and its international allies.

How could May and her particularly warmongering Defense Minister Fallon go into new major wars in the Middle East with a former leader of the British anti-war movement and man of principle par excellence, whether one agrees with him or not, as leader of the opposition?

It is at this point that the question of “Islamic terrorism” also made its entrance, because the attacks in France and Britain have very much the appearance of…..electoral interventions, difficult to interpret from the viewpoint of Islamic fanatics and their ideology.

This is now noted by a number of analysts, who emphasize that ISIS evidently enjoys support from Saudi Arabia, a country in relation to which Corbyn demanded that arms sales be stopped and “tough discussions” initiated. In the past, according to reports in the Guardian newspaper, Saudi Arabian leaders had even threatened Tony Blair with terrorist attacks in Britain! (1)

It is nevertheless interesting that terrorist attacks, as demonstrated in the British elections, are always able to move public opinion, but that increasingly large sectors of it are beginning to link them with Western policy itself in the Arabic/Muslim world and thus not react in the way normally expected.

In any case, the attempt to eject Corbyn from leadership of the Labour Party not only failed but also backfired, greatly complicating any attempt to organize British participation in a new major war in the Middle East, along the lines apparently favoured, during his recent tour of the area, by US President Trump.

Unfortunately the defeat of Theresa May was not decisive enough to lead to failure of the plan to convert Cyprus into a protectorate.

Shortly after the formation of her government, the General Secretary of the UN called for a conference in Geneva on the Cyprus problem. In what amounts to a coup inside Cyprus and the European Union, this illicit conference aims at expropriation of the Cypriot state from its population and the transformation of the second member state of the EU, after Greece, into a colony. It also involves the risk of Cyprus being converted into Syria, with all that entails (2).

The great problems of the Left

The recent re-emergence of an authentic Left in important Western countries does not of course mean that the way ahead is strewn with rose petals or that the Left itself is ready to deal with the huge problems it faces.

Jean-Luc Mélenchon appeared disappointed in the immediate aftermath of the first round of the French presidential elections. He perhaps imagined that he would be in the second round and that henceforth all would become possible.

But even if he had managed to have himself elected as President of France there is much reason for skepticism as to what in reality he would have been able to achieve. There are two ways to look at his “failure”. On the one hand it was indeed a failure. On the other it is as if History has presented him and La France Insoumise with a great gift. It has given them time to prepare themselves. The future of this political current, and also much else, depends on what use they make of this time.

A reminder from Greece

The same gift was presented in 2012 to Alexis Tsipras, bringing him to the threshold of power. But it seems to have gone to his head. Rather than using the time he was given to organize and prepare, he preferred to subordinate the need to develop a strategy for addressing the Greek problem… to the priority of winning the election. He took his desires for realities, hoping that he would find a painless way to compromise with the forces that were attacking and ruining Greece.

Instead of SYRIZA opening up and instituting qualitative changes, adjusting to the very difficult problems it was facing, he tried to adapt the problem to his own moods, to his capacities and to numerous petty vested interests.

The forces of financial capital and the USA-Britain-Israel axis finally succeeded with their skillful manipulation of the leadership team, utilizing its own characteristics to lead it finally, of its own accord, to capitulation and its subsequent downfall.

Of course, there are many differences between the situation in France, Britain and the USA, as well as very significant differences in the personalities. Nevertheless, there is also a basic structural similarity between what is happening in Southern Europe and what is happening in these former countries, so we will at the first opportunity return to the very little known and internationally poorly understood Greek example.

The question of the political subject and of the Program

The successes of Sanders, Mélenchon and Corbyn have confirmed that a significant sector of the population are aware of the need for a radical shift towards more social, democratic and ecological policies, the need to halt the continuing movement towards new wars in the Middle East, Europe (Ukraine), the Far East (Korea) and Africa.

On the other hand the emerging American, British and French Left can hardly be expected already to include the political and programmatic subjects with the capacity to wage war against an “Empire of Finance” that has become stronger than ever.

There is no doubt that any government attempting to implement such policies will find itself immediately up against the pressure of “the markets” in a globalized economic environment where financial capital has enormous power to pressure any state and also the technological means for unprecedented monitoring and manipulation both of small leadership groups and large social collectives. Recourse to an updated Keynes is a first but still insufficient response. The creation of parties and movements capable of responding to the difficult requirements of the “war” they will be obliged to wage if they are to implement their policies has yet to be done. It cannot be regarded as having been done just because certain politicians have performed quite well in electoral confrontations.

Sanders, Mélenchon, Corbyn would doubtless like to pursue a social-democratic policy. But it is doubtful whether the margins for this exist in today’s capitalism.

To resort to the Leftist rhetoric of the 1930s is completely anachronistic. But this is not true of the lessons to be learned from the experience of the Left and the social movements of the 20th century prior to the Second World War, if only because the world that was established in 1945 is now in crisis and is passing from the scene.

The need for a new Zimmerwald

The urgent, pressing, very little understood need for today is the need for a new Zimmerwald Conference.

It is worth noting that in Europe today, objectively, we are in any case more and more in a single state while still feeling, thinking and acting within a national reality that has become increasingly fictitious.

It is necessary today in Europe, but also internationally, for anyone who seeks to oppose, and not just be inside, “the system” not only to have the solidarity of an “International”, but to be part of a new gradually forming international political entity, with one foot firmly ensconced in national realities and the other in international. This requires a “Zimmerwald II Conference” (3) to bring together forces that combine seriousness with radicalism, the popular element with a Gramscian relationship to their own nations.

Such a role cannot be undertaken, of course, either by the Socialist International or by the European Socialist Party. Nor can it be played by the self-appointed so-called European Radical Left.

Something new is needed

After the great tragedies and failures of the Left in the 20th century the question remains open of what the alternative vision is to be for the world of the 21stcentury.

For the moment neither the Western Left nor Russia, China, or the BRICS embody such a vision, which is a strategic necessity for victorious confrontation with the chaos and ruin being organized by the global power of Finance, which is gnawing away like cancer at the body of the human race.

NOTES

1 For the question of Islamic terrorism and European policies see, indicatively:

2 See After the Greek experiment, a sequel in the EU: turning Cyprus into a protectorate!

3 The Zimmerwald Conference was convened in 1915 in the Swiss town of the same name, bringing together the few socialists who had not compromised with the pro-war policies of their governments in the First World War. It was the foundation stone in the course that led to the Russian Revolution in 1917.

Dimitris Konstantakopoulos is a journalist and writer, former Secretary of the Independent Citizens Movement, former member SYRIZA’s Central Committee, current editorial board member of the international magazine Utopia Review, ex-chief of the Greek Press Agency office in Moscow, formerly served as Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou’s adviser in East-West relations and arms control.