ISIS murders another journalist, more escalation?

This June 2014 video from Armenia is called Turkey Roundup: ISIS, Kurds and the Genocide.

By Mike Head:

ISIS murders another US journalist, Steven Sotloff

3 September 2014

A repugnant video released by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), purporting to show the beheading of an American journalist, Steven Sotloff, has already been seized upon by Washington and its allies to justify further intensifying the military intervention in Iraq, with Syria the likely next target.

Sotloff’s barbaric murder was the second by ISIS of a freelance US journalist in as many weeks, following that of James Foley. It was accompanied by a threat to kill a British hostage, David Haines.

The footage shows Sotloff, 31, who was kidnapped in northern Syria just over a year ago, dressed in orange and on his knees in a desert landscape. As in the previous video of Foley, this one then shows Sotloff’s severed head resting on his corpse.

The young man, originally from Florida, had worked for several publications, including Time, the Christian Science Monitor, World Affairs Journal and Foreign Policy, reporting from many parts of the Middle East, including Libya, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey, and finally Syria. Former colleagues, associates and editors paid tribute to his courage and dedication.

Sotloff’s family yesterday said they were aware of the video, which was yet to be verified by the US administration, and were grieving privately. He was executed despite a televised plea a week ago from his mother, Shirley, to the ISIS leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, to spare his life.

The family had known of Sotloff’s capture for a year, as had the US government, but his plight was not made public until he was shown on the video of Foley’s murder. A masked killer threatened his life in the event of further US airstrikes against ISIS.

As with Foley’s beheading, ISIS justified the heinous act as retaliation for the US bombing campaign in Iraq, referring this time specifically to the air strikes around the Mosul Dam and the northern Iraqi town of Amerli, previously under siege by ISIS. Over the past month, the US has conducted more than 120 bombing raids in Iraq.

On the video, Sotloff’s executioner declares: “I’m back, Obama, and I’m back because of your arrogant foreign policy towards the Islamic State… So just as your missiles continue to strike our people, our knife will continue to strike the necks of your people.”

To murder individual journalists for the ongoing crimes being committed by their country’s government—which are opposed by millions of Americans—underscores the reactionary outlook of ISIS and other Al Qaeda-linked groups.

These atrocious killings, together with those of captured Syrian soldiers, have nothing to do with the aspirations of the oppressed masses of the Middle East for liberation from imperialist violence and domination. ISIS represents the interests of disaffected sections of the Arab and Muslim bourgeoisie, which seek to exploit the predatory drive of the US for hegemony over the energy-rich region, and whip up sectarian divisions, for their own capitalist agenda.

In turn, this barbarity is being seized upon by the Western ruling elites and their media outlets to overcome the broad hostility of their populations to the launching of a renewed war in the Middle East.

Even before the video of Sotloff’s beheading was verified, the American media and political establishment ratcheted up the drumbeat of demands for the Obama administration to escalate its military campaign and extend it into Syria. Referring to Obama’s comment last week that his administration did not yet have a “strategy” for Syria, CNN’s Christiane Amanpour said Sotloff’s killing would heighten pressure on Obama to devise a strategy to combat ISIS.

Senator Bill Nelson, a Florida Democrat and member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said he would introduce a bill giving Obama authority to order air strikes in Syria. Representative Ed Royce, a California Republican and chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, called for more aggressive action against ISIS. “Working with key allies, the United States needs to be acting urgently to arm the Kurds on the ground who are fighting them, and targeting ISIS from the air with drone strikes,” he said.

There was no immediate response from Obama, who was about to leave for a weeklong trip to Europe and a NATO summit meeting, focussed on the escalating confrontation with Russia over Ukraine.

British Prime Minister David Cameron said the video depicted an “absolutely disgusting, despicable act.” Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said the killing “demonstrates that we are dealing with pure evil” and “abundantly justifies what Australia and other countries are doing to assist people who are threatened by this murderous rage.”

Such statements are hypocritical to the core. The roots of the emergence of ISIS, formerly known as Al Qaeda in Iraq, lie in the US financing and backing of the Islamic fundamentalists in Afghanistan during the 1980s. The organisation emerged in Iraq in the midst of sectarian violence encouraged by the US occupation, expanding into Syria as part of the US-backed regime change operation against President Bashar al-Assad.

As long as ISIS was carrying out its beheadings and other atrocities in Syria, directed against Bashar al-Assad’s regime, the US and its partners remained silent on the barbarity of the Islamists, because they were supposedly fighters for “freedom” and “democracy.” It was not until ISIS swept into Iraq, taking advantage of the utter devastation and sectarian divides produced by the US occupation, that ISIS’s crimes were suddenly denounced as “terrorist” slaughters.

Now, the horrific murders of journalists are being turned into a pretext for another full-scale war of aggression in the Middle East, driven by the same underlying agenda—to exercise unchallenged US domination over the entire region.

ISIS terrorists against Syrian Kurdish ‘terrorists’

This video from Syria says about itself:

2014 International Women’s Day in Qamishlo – Rojava Kurdistan

13 March 2014

Unlike the areas under the control of the Syrian regime and Islamic opposition forces, Kurds and Syriac Christian women organised public events in their self-rule autonomous cantons [in] northeast Syria, which promoted gender equality.

By Derek Wall in Britain:

Rojava: a beacon of hope fighting Isis

Monday 25th August 2014

The socialist Kurdish region in Syria has successfully resisted the Islamic State and deserves our solidarity, says DEREK WALL

Rojava should be trending on Twitter. Rojava should be on the lips of all of us, especially of those on the left. Rojava (or Syrian Kurdistan) is a sign of hope in a world which often seems rather dark. However, most of us haven’t even heard of Rojava.

Rojava is an autonomous socialist state with a population of 2.5 million that has recently been formed in the Middle East.

Rojava community self-defence units have been fighting the so-called Islamic State and consistently winning. We should all be fundraising for Rojava’s medical appeal, learning more about Rojava, giving its people solidarity and above all spreading the word.

The discourse in the mainstream media around Iraq and Syria is simple.

Murderous fundamentalists are killing Christians, Shia, Yazidis and terrorising people of all faiths in Iraq and Syria.

The killing of James Foley and threats to the US and Britain make them our enemy. For both pragmatic and ethical reasons, the US and Britain should return to the region and take them on.

Those who oppose direct military interventions are appeasing a force of supreme evil.

The history of US/British intervention suggests that this line of argument contains flaws. In 2003, when George Bush invaded Iraq, one of his pretexts was that Saddam Hussein had been working with al-Qaida.

However it is clear that while in 2003 al-Qaida had no serious support in Iraq, the chaos unleashed by the invasion has enabled the building of a force so repellent and regressive that even al-Qaida condemns them.

Cock-up or conspiracy, interventions have grown and fuelled this threat and with the supplying of weapons to Islamist groups in Syria, Isis have been armed by Obama.

A number of different organisations and states have been fighting Isis. It is forgotten, for example, that Russia has been supporting Iraqi forces for some time.

However, the force that has had the most consistent success in combatting the Islamic State is Rojava.

However Rojava, being a socialist autonomous state, has received no media publicity and no support from the US or Britain.

Rojava gained a measure of autonomy from Syria, and its main political party, the Democratic People’s Union, has organised self-defence units called the YPG. The Democratic People’s Union is affiliated to the Kurdish Workers’ Party, commonly referred to as the PKK.

A long-standing Kurdish revolutionary party, the PKK has been heavily repressed by the Turkish state. In fact much of the rise of the so-called Islamic State can be explained by Turkish opposition to an autonomous Kurdish state.

Turkey’s border has been closed to Rojava to strangle this new socialist and Kurdish state. In contrast, the border has been open from Turkey to jihadists fighting the Kurds.

The long-standing PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan was kidnapped in Nairobi in 1991 by the Turkish secret service and remains in prison.

The PKK is listed as an international terrorist organisation and is subject to intense repression. Yet in Rojava, despite all this pressure, their sister organisation has achieved something interesting.

The PKK and PYD advocate socialism, feminism, freedom of religious belief and pluralism.

In a region dominated by authoritarian regimes and sectarianism, their experiment in democratic socialism should be celebrated. One of Ocalan’s key influences, somewhat surprisingly, is the late US social ecologist Murray Bookchin.

Thousands of Rojavans have been murdered by the fundamentalists, and Rojavan school students have been kidnapped to put pressure upon their families.

However, Rojava has fought back impressively, forming community defence group the YPG. Yazidis from Mount Sinjar, under threat of death from the Islamic State, were led to freedom in Rojava by members of the YPG.

There is much in the media and from politicians like David Cameron about the threat from Islamic fundamentalists.

Of course US and British intervention led to the creation of such a threat, funding from Qatar and Saudi Arabia fed this threat and Turkey has turned a blind eye to jihadists from all parts of the globe moving to Syria and Iraq to cause murder and mayhem.

Real hope in the region will have to come from democratic and plural political structures, based on self-respect, and in the immediate term the so-called Islamic State needs to be challenged. Those who have done so most effectively in Rojava need to be supported.

Yet, at present, the PKK and its affiliates are listed as international terrorist organisations by the US, Nato and the EU.

All of us on the left must call for an end to this terrorism listing, demand the release of Ocalan and challenge the role of Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia in supporting fundamentalism.

My knowledge of Rojava is basic but I know I need to find out more. We should set up solidarity organisations, spread the word about Rojava, organise film showings — there are a number of excellent films about Rojava — and, above all, donate to the medical appeal for Rojava.

You can find details of how to send donations to the medical fund here.

Derek Wall is international co-ordinator of the Green Party.

The experiment of West Kurdistan (Syrian Kurdistan) has proved that people can make changes: here.

The barbaric murder of American journalist James Foley, and his apparent beheading by a masked British man, is being used to move the UK towards direct military participation in Iraq and Syria: here.

The murder of James Foley is being manipulated to gain support for a new war in Syria, argues Colin Toddhunter: here.

US military to initiate operations in Syria: here.

Britain: HOME SECRETARY May is set to bring in special measures to deal with British terrorists returning from Syria and Iraq, where they were allowed to go to fight President Assad with the tacit encouragement of her government and its security forces: here.

Theresa May has a short memory on Syria. The government seeks to punish Britons going to fight in Syria, when a year ago we were on the verge of air strikes there: here.

BRITISH Home Secretary May, driven by the desperate home and foreign policy crisis of British imperialism, is lashing out at basic rights in the UK, at the same time as a civil war has broken out in the Tory Party, and spreading into the army leadership, over whether the British ruling class should back Syria’s President Assad, and seek an alliance with President Rouhani of Iran, as Cameron has suggested, against the ISIS movement. This is a movement that has been built up and financed by Saudi Arabia, where chopping off heads and a Caliphate are still the norm: here.

Men and women in Britain appear to hold very different views on whether the government should sanction RAF air strikes against Isis militants in the Middle East: here.

The drive to war is a measure of the crisis facing US imperialism in the Middle East, after a quarter century of escalating intervention, characterized by the combination of recklessness and brutality that is the particular specialty of the American ruling class. While increasingly apocalyptic administration comments and media headlines declare ISIS to be a deadly threat to the United States, there has been virtually no acknowledgement that the crisis in the Middle East is the direct product of the repeated US interventions: here.

Australian government weighs up joining US air war in Iraq: here.

Italian government sends weapons to northern Iraq: here.

For the US and its allies, Mount Sinjar is a success story: a humanitarian disaster alleviated by US air power. But hundreds, if not thousands, of Iraqis – mostly sick and old – remain atop the mountain, with no relief on its way: here.

Germany spying on Turkey scandal

This video is called German Spying Report Angers Turkey, Embarrasses Berlin.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

German ambassador summoned over Turkey spy claims

Monday 18th August 2014

TURKEY summoned German ambassador Eberhard Pohl yesterday to demand a “formal and satisfactory explanation” following a report that German spooks had targeted Turkey.

Mr Pohl was also told that, if the reports were true, Turkey expected Germany to immediately stop spying on the country.

German magazine Der Spiegel had alleged on Saturday that the BND agency had listened to calls made by US Secretary of State John Kerry and predecessor Hillary Clinton.

It also cited a confidential 2009 BND document listing Turkey as a target for intelligence gathering.

If true, Turkey’s Foreign Ministry said, “such practices would in no way be acceptable in an environment that requires mutual trust and respect between friends and allies.”

German officials would not confirm Der Spiegel’s report.

Government spokeswoman Christiane Wirtz would say only that it had informed a parliamentary intelligence committee about some matters in the report last month and would inform it about the rest soon.

The US National Security Agency (NSA) is involved in systematic spying against large sections of the Turkish ruling elite, according to reports this week in the German news magazine Der Spiegel and The Intercept , the online publication edited by Glenn Greenwald: here.

German spies spied on John Kerry too

This February 2014 video is called New German TV Snowden Interview – Clapper Put in His Place.

Translated from NOS TV in the Netherlands:

Saturday Aug 16 2014, 16:52

The German secret service has spied on a call by the US American Secretary of State, John Kerry. According to the weekly Der Spiegel it was a ‘bycatch’ in a thorough interception of Turkish officials.

Lots of criticisms are possible about the Turkish government. However, officially Turkey is a NATO ally of Germany. There are German soldiers in Turkey, close to the border with Syria, increasing military tensions in that area. So much for the honesty in military alliances.

The German government commanded this in 2009 and that monitoring continues until the present day. According to the magazine it is not clear who are spied on.

Yesterday German media already published that the predecessor of Kerry, Hillary Clinton, had her phone tapped two years ago. Germany had previously been critical of the US because Chancellor Merkel was bugged by the NSA.

Turkish government helped ISIS terrorists

This video is about ISIS killing truck drivers for religious sectarian reasons.

From the Washington Post in the USA:

August 12 2014

REYHANLI, Turkey — Before their blitz into Iraq earned them the title of the Middle East’s most feared insurgency, the jihadists of the Islamic State treated this Turkish town near the Syrian border as their own personal shopping mall.

And eager to aid any and all enemies of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Turkey rolled out the red carpet.

In dusty market stalls, among the baklava shops and kebab stands, locals talk of Islamist fighters openly stocking up on uniforms and the latest Samsung smartphones. Wounded jihadists from the Islamic State and the al-Nusra Front — an al-Qaeda offshoot also fighting the Syrian government — were treated at Turkish hospitals. Most important, the Turks winked as Reyhanli and other Turkish towns became way stations for moving foreign fighters and arms across the border.

“Turkey welcomed anyone against Assad, and now they are killing, spreading their disease, and we are all paying the price,” said Tamer Apis, a politician in Reyhanli, where two massive car bombs killed 52 people last year.

See also here.