Unaccused war criminals

October 14, 2008

- Alastair Reith

In the weeks leading up to the recent conflict in South Ossetia and Georgia, the big news was that the Serbian general Radovan Karadzic had been captured. The capitalist media was spitting with fury at the heinous crimes this officer had committed. The most heavily denounced of these was his use of artillery strikes against the civilian areas of Sarajevo. The actions of Karadzic were carried out in the name of preserving Yugoslavia’s territorial integrity against ethnic separatists.

On 7 August 2008, Georgian forces invaded South Ossetia. As part of their attack, they launched artillery strikes against civilian areas of the South Ossetian capital of Tskhinvali. This has killed somewhere between 200 and 2000 people (depending on whose account you believe), and forced 30,000 South Ossetians to flee for their lives, out of a total population of 70,000. The Georgians carried out this attack in the name of preserving their territorial integrity against ethnic separatists.

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Iran, sanctions and the left

October 1, 2008

- Tim Bowron

Since 2002 when details of Iran’s nuclear program first came to light there has been much talk on the part of Western politicians and journalists about the need to prevent the regime from developing uranium enrichment and other technology that could potentially be used in military applications.

As a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), under which all nations are guaranteed the right to enrich uranium to a level needed to make fuel for nuclear power, Iran is obliged to allow inspections of its nuclear facilities by the International Atomic Energy Association (IAEA). However for the first 18 years of existence Iran’s nuclear program remained a secret and no IAEA inspections were carried out, a fact which more than any other has caused the Iranian regime to be viewed as untrustworthy by the West.

What most Western commentators fail to understand is that Iran might have had a very good reason for not openly declaring the existence of its nuclear program, when you consider the fate of the nuclear reactor at Osiraq in neighbouring Iraq which was completely obliterated without warning by the Israeli air-force in 1981 - in accordance with Israel’s policy of preventing any Muslim nation from acquiring nuclear capability, however peaceful. Indeed, as one of Israel’s own leading military historians, Martin van Creveld put it: “Obviously, we don’t want Iran to have nuclear weapons and I don’t know if they’re developing them, but if they’re not developing them, they’re crazy.”

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Iranian socialist: “Capitalism is causing these wars”

September 2, 2008

Torab Saleth, a leading activist in the Iranian Workers Left Unity current and a prominent figure in the British-based Hands Off the People of Iran (HOPI) campaign, was recently interviewed by Philip Ferguson of the Workers Party.

Philip Ferguson: Could you tell us a bit about Workers Left Unity - how it came into existence and what work it does?

Torab Saleth: Workers Left Unity was formed in exile in the early 1990s, as one of the earliest responses to the crisis of the Iranian left (following its decimation in the early 80s at the hands of the counter-revolutionary theocratic regime). WLU is an independent organisation based on individual membership and an agreed minimum uniting all radical socialist currents cooperating towards a new regroupment of the socialist left. We come from many different traditions, principally from backgrounds in the Fedayeen minority and in Iranian Maoism and Trotskyism.

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Spark Audio: Three talks on the Middle East

August 26, 2008

The following talks recorded at forums in the first half of 2008 have just been added to the Spark Audio archive.

John Edmundson
What future for Palestine?

Phil Ferguson
Iraq five years on

Nick Scullin
The present war in Afghanistan

People of Zimbabwe between a rock and a hard place

August 8, 2008

- John Edmundson

The disastrous election period in Zimbabwe has thrust that country back into the media spotlight over the last few months, with the latest big news being the veto in the UN Security Council of a package of sanctions being sponsored by the United States. Reports of voter intimidation have been added to the ongoing hostile media reports of land occupations by Mugabe cronies, financial mismanagement and economic collapse.

The story of Zimbabwe’s slide into poverty is, of course, more complex than the picture we tend to receive in the media, as is the perceived solution of Western-led international sanctions.

There can be no doubt that the election process in Zimbabwe was rigged by the ZANU-PF (Zimbabwe African National Union - Patriotic Front) party led by independence war hero Robert Mugabe. The lead-up to the 29 March 2008 harmonised local government, parliamentary, senatorial and presidential elections saw widespread reports of intimidation, while the vote-counting was inexplicably delayed. Finally a narrow win to the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) was announced in the parliamentary poll, but in the presidential election it was declared that a runoff election would be required - a result that was immediately challenged by the MDC.

The new poll was set for 27 June but in the intervening period the MDC claimed that over a hundred of their activists had been killed and many more subjected to various forms of intimidation. MDC Presidential candidate Morgan Tsvangirai, who had himself been beaten and arrested several times during the campaign, withdrew from the contest and took refuge in the Dutch Embassy for nine days.

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