The use of Agent Orange during the Vietnam War means that for many the war never ended. They’re still suffering the effects of chemical warfare.
Produced by ABC Australia
- U.S. Finally Cleaning Up Some of Its Agent Orange Mess in Vietnam (alethonews.wordpress.com)
Former Member of Parliament joins ship to Gaza: ‘Time for Canadian politicians and people to speak up’
I look forward to joining the Estelle on its voyage from Naples to Gaza and I am aware of my responsibility as the only Canadian on this international crew of volunteers.
We want to bring a message of solidarity for the Palestinians of Gaza and to remind them that they are not alone in the struggle.
While we will be carrying a cargo of humanitarian aid, the basic goal of our trip is to continue pressuring the Israeli government to lift the blockade of Gaza. International aid is not a solution but a symptom of the problem whereby Israel keeps Gaza from developing its own economy.
We are firmly committed to non-violent resistance but the movement behind the Freedom flotilla will not quit until the Israelis lift the blockade.
Growing public opinion around the world recognizes that the Israeli blockade is not only illegal under International Law, it is also morally wrong. The blockade deliberately denies 1.6 million people of the essentials of life: adequate food, water, and shelter. It denies people the right to make a living through international trade and even trade with their fellow Palestinians in the Occupied West Bank. It denies them the freedom to live with dignity.
If we believe in human rights we must be prepared to take a stand when these rights are so flagrantly violated. It is time for Canadian politicians and the Canadian people to speak up against this illegal and inhuman blockade.
As part of Canada’s contribution, the Estelle will be carrying an anchor for Gaza’s Ark, which, like the Estelle, is a project of the international Freedom Flotilla Coalition. The Gaza Ark project is rebuilding a boat within Gaza to carry Palestinian goods to the outside world. In this way it will challenge the blockade from the inside just as the Estelle and other boats challenge it from outside.
While I want to thank you for your interest and support, I know that even more the Palestinians of Gaza thank you for your support and solidarity.
Jim Manly is a retired United Church minister who served as a New Democratic Party Member of Parliament from 1980-88, representing Cowichan-Malahat-the Islands, a BC Coastal riding. As MP, he was NDP critic for Indian Affairs and later critic for Fisheries and also International Development. As a United Church minister, Jim served mostly British Columbia congregations and has been active in the Church’s social justice work in Canada and the Americas. Ordained in 1957, he retired in 1997. He lives near Nanaimo, B.C. with his wife, Eva, and together they continue to be active in a number of areas including United Network for a Just Peace in Palestine and Israel (UNJPPI), and Mid-Islanders for Justice and Peace in the Middle East. This past spring he and Eva took part in a Pilgrimage of Solidarity to the Occupied Territory of the Palestinian West Bank.
The Canadian Boat to Gaza blog
The Canadian Boat to Gaza blog will keep you up to date on fundraising and organizing efforts in support of the ‘Tahrir’, a Canadian boat which is currently part of the ‘Freedom Waves to Gaza’. Bloggers will report from on board the Tahrir and on support activities in Halifax, Montreal, Toronto, Hamilton, London, Vancouver, Victoria and many points in between.
Canadian civil society has a responsibility to fight the illegal Israeli blockade of Gaza and to expose the Canadian government’s unjustified support for Israel. The time has come to send a Canadian boat to challenge the blockade of Gaza, in coordination with similar international efforts. Check out the Boat to Gaza’s website at http://tahrir.ca or follow us at twitter.com/CanadaBoatGaza.
- New Irish ship seeks to break Israeli supplies blockade on Gaza (irishcentral.com)
Haniya, in her home in al Nussairat.
On Monday, 10 September, 2012, Israeli warplanes launched 2 missiles at a vast tract of land in the west of al-Nussairat refugee camp in the Middle Area of the Gaza Strip. As a result, 2 rooms and a container on the land were destroyed. 10 olive trees and 23 houses were also damaged. Additionally, 7 Palestinian civilians, including 4 children and 2 women, were wounded. This attack targeted civilian objects which is a violation of international law.
Haniya Abdul Hadi Kabaja (60) is one of the women who sustained minor injuries on the night of the attack. She recounts that: “At around 2.00am in the night, we woke up to the sound of shelling. We were all very scared but we went back to sleep. 15 or so minutes later, we heard more shelling and shrapnel hitting surfaces outside. Something hit my face and, when I touched it, I felt myself bleeding. My son, Anas, saw this and he started screaming for his brothers to come and help me. After they offered me first aid, we heard my ten-year-old granddaughter, Reema, crying, and that is when we noticed that she had also been wounded, in her leg.”
An ambulance arrived after a while, and Haniya and her granddaughter were taken to Al Aqsa Martyrs hospital. Their wounds were moderate and they were discharged soon after.
Until now, Haniya and her family have unanswered questions with regard to the attack. They do not know what the exact target was: “All of us were terrified, because the missiles were launched about 100m from where we live. Other people in the neighborhood also got injured by the shrapnel from the missiles. Some windows were smashed and there is clear damage to some of the asbestos roofs. In this area, there have been no incidents since Cast Lead. Nobody really knows why they launched missiles on an empty piece of land, and so close to where people live.”
Since the attack, Haniya’s family has been living in constant fear of further attack. This has had a particularly negative impact on the children: “The attack has really frightened the children. They used to go out after dark to play or to visit relatives who live in neighboring houses. Now, they do not even step outside after darkness falls because they are too scared. They are not the only ones who are scared. Even we, the adults, feel the same way. At the same time, we know that there is nothing we can say against the Israeli occupation. We cannot do anything about it either.”
Haniya’s son, Mohammed (32), hopes to see an end to the attacks on unarmed civilians and calls for the respect of everyone’s rights. “I just want to see the situation change and an end to the Israeli occupation. We are unarmed civilians, yet they follow us and continue to attack and terrorize us in our homes. They hurt my mother and my daughter, yet they had not even done anything. We have not caused problems for anyone and the only thing we demand is our rights, our land and our freedom. We are peaceful people and we want it to remain that way. After all these years of being attacked, we will not stop demanding our rights. Even if they kill all of us and only 10 people remain, we will still demand for those rights.”
The direct targeting of a civilian object constitutes a war crime, as codified in Article 8(2) (b) (ii) of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. Similarly, under Article 53 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, the destruction of private property is prohibited unless rendered absolutely necessary by military operations. Intentionally launching an indiscriminate attack constitutes a war crime as defined in Article 8 (2) (b) of the Rome Statute of the ICC. Furthermore, according to the principle of proportionality, which is codified in Article 51 (5) (b) of Additional Protocol 1 to the Geneva Conventions, an attack that may be expected to cause incidental loss of civilian life, injury to civilians, damage to civilian objects or a combination thereof is considered excessive in relation to the concrete and direct military advantage anticipated.
- Occupied Lives: I have no future (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- OCHA: Israeli occupation destroys 13 houses weekly in West Bank (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- PCHR Weekly Report: 2 Palestinians executed; 3 wounded by Israeli forces this week (imemc.org)
- Occupied Lives: Nothing Left To Hope For (imemc.org)
With the Venezuelan presidential elections looming this Sunday, the U.S. press is dedicating increasing attention to the campaign between Hugo Chavez and opposition challenger Henrique Capriles. While nearly all polling companies, including the opposition-aligned Datanalisis, give double-digit leads for Chavez, many news organizations continue to give the impression that the race is a toss-up. Countless news agencies have focused heavily on polls conducted by Consultores 21, whose latest poll shows Capriles ahead 49.9 percent to 45.7 percent, to demonstrate that the contest is neck-and-neck.
Consultores 21 is “respected,” “reputable,” and “well-regarded,” according to the Wall Street Journal, ABC News, and Washington Post, respectively. Capriles himself has said “personally, I believe in Consultores. I’ve been looking at Consultores’ polls for many years.”
In a meeting with U.S. election monitors on Monday, influential opposition media figure Teodoro Petkoff said that Consultores is one of the only “serious” pollsters in Venezuela today (discounting Datanalisis as corrupt). It is entirely unclear how they come to this conclusion, however, as Consultores has an extremely poor record in previous Venezuelan electoral contests. For example: In the 2004 vote to recall Chavez mid-term, Consultores predicted a tie between those wanting Chavez to finish his term and those voting to recall. But the recall vote failed with Chavez garnering 60 percent of the vote.
In the 2006 presidential election between Chavez and opposition candidate Manuel Rosales, Consultores maintained that Chavez had just a 13% lead over his opponent. Chavez won that contest with a nearly 26 percent margin over Rosales (62.8% to 36.9%).
In the 2009 constitutional referendum to remove term limits for president, Consultores polls a month beforehand showed just 41.8 backing the referendum, with 56.20 opposed. The referendum passed with a 54 percent majority–almost a polar opposite result from the one predicted by Consultores.
Grave errors such as these by a polling company should have been more than enough to put them out of business. The continued existence of Consultores 21, despite their consistent lack of any semblance of accuracy, demonstrates its purpose as a mere campaign tool for opponents of Chavez. News organizations should be able to uncover and identify this type of blatant bias, and now must take steps to correct their misrepresentation of the status of the Venezuelan presidential election.
- One Month before Venezuela’s Presidential Election Polls Show Huge Leads for Chávez (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- BofA Sees Chavez Re-Election Even as Lead in Polls Narrows – Bloomberg (bloomberg.com)
- Chavez Trails Rival Capriles for First Time in Poll (bloomberg.com)
- Chavez Rival Maintains Lead in August Consultores 21 Poll – Bloomberg (bloomberg.com)
On October 7th, Venezuelan voters will decide whether to support incumbent President Hugo Chavez or opposition candidate Henrique Capriles Radonski. The voters will choose between two polar opposite programs and social systems:
Chavez calls for the expansion of public ownership of the means of production and consumption, an increase in social spending for welfare programs, greater popular participation in local decision-making, an independent foreign policy based on greater Latin American integration, increases in progressive taxation, the defense of free public health and educational programs and the defense of public ownership of oil production. In contrast Capriles Radonski represents the parties and elite who support the privatization of public enterprises, oppose the existing public health and educational and social welfare programs and favor neo-liberal policies designed to subsidize and expand the role and control of foreign and local private capital. While Capriles Radonski claims to be in favor of what he dubs “the Brazilian model” of “free markets and social welfare”, his political and social backers, in the past and present, are strong advocates of free trade agreements with the US, restrictions on social spending and regressive taxation. Unlike the US, the Venezuelan voters have a choice and not an echo: two candidates representing distinct social classes, with divergent socio-political visions and international alignments. Chavez stands with Latin America, opposes US imperial intervention everywhere, is a staunch defender of self-determination and supporter of Latin American integration. Capriles Radonski is in favor of free trade agreements with the US, opposes regional integration, supports US intervention in the Middle East and is a diehard supporter of Israel. In the run-up to the elections, as was predictable the entire US mass media has been saturated with anti-Chavez and pro-Capriles propaganda, predicting a ‘victory’ or at least a close outcome for Washington’s protégé.
The media and pundit predictions and propaganda are based entirely on selective citation of dubious polls and campaign commentaries; and worst of all there is a total lack of any serious discussion of the historical legacy and structural features that form the essential framework for this historic election.
For nearly a quarter of a century prior to Chavez election in 1998, Venezuela’s economy and society was in a tailspin, rife with corruption, record inflation, declining growth, rising debt, crime, poverty and unemployment.
Mass protests in the late 1980’s early 1990’s led to the massacre of thousands of slum dwellers, a failed coup and mass disillusion with the dual bi-party political system. The petrol industry was privatized; oil wealth nurtured a business elite which shopped on ‘Fifth Avenue, invested in Miami condos, patronized private clinics for face-lifts and breast jobs, and sent their children to private elite schools to ensure inter-generational continuity of power and privilege. Venezuela was a bastion of US power projections toward the Caribbean, Central and South America. Venezuela was socially polarized but political power was monopolized by two or three parties who competed for the support of competing factions of the ruling elite and the US Embassy.
Economic pillage, social regression, political authoritarianism and corruption led to an electoral victory for Hugo Chavez in 1998 and a gradual change in public policy toward greater political accountability and institutional reforms which signaled a turn toward greater social equity.
The failed US backed military-business coup of April 2002 and the defeat of the oil executive lockout of December 2002 – February 2003 marked a decisive turning point in Venezuelan political and social history: the violent assault mobilized and radicalized millions of pro-democracy working class and slum dwellers, who in turn pressured Chavez “to turn left”. The defeat of the US-capitalist coup and lockout was the first of several popular victories which opened the door to vast social programs covering the housing, health, educational and food needs of millions of Venezuelans. The US and the Venezuelan elite suffered significant losses of strategic personnel in the military, trade union bureaucracy and oil industry as a result of their involvement in the illegal power grab.
Capriles was an active leader in the coup, heading a gang of thugs which assaulted the Cuban embassy, and an active collaborator in the petrol lockout which temporarily paralyzed the entire economy.
The coup and lockout were followed by a US funded referendum which attempted to impeach Chavez and was soundly trounced. The failures of the right strengthened the socialist tendencies in the government, weakened the elite opposition and sent the US in a mission to Colombia, ruled by narco-terrorist President Uribe, in search of a military ally to destabilize and overthrow the regime from outside. Border tensions increased, US bases multiplied to seven, and Colombian death squads crossed the border. But the entire Latin and Central American and Caribbean regions lined up against a US backed invasion out of principle, or because of fear of armed conflicts spilling beyond their borders.
This historical legacy of elite authoritarianism and Chavez successes is deeply embedded in the minds and consciousness of all Venezuelans preparing to vote in the election of October 7th. The legacy of profound elite hostility to democratic outcomes favoring popular majorities and mass defense of the ‘Socialist president’ is expressed in the profound political polarization of the electorate and the intense mutual dislike or ‘class hatred’ which percolates under the cover of the electoral campaign. For the masses the elections are about past abuses and contemporary advances, upward social mobility and material improvements in living standards; for the upper and affluent middle class there is intense resentment about a relative loss of power, privilege, prestige and private preferences. The right-wing elite’s relative losses have fueled a resentment with dangerous overtones for democracy in case of lost elections and revanchist policies if they win the elections.
The right-wing elite may not control the government but they certainly are not without a strong institutional base of power. Eighty percent of the banking and finance sector is in private hands, as are most of the services manufacturing and a substantial proportion of retail and wholesale trade. Within the public bureaucracy, the National Guard and military the opposition has at least a minority actively or passively supportive of the rightwing political groups. The principle business, financial and landowners associations are the social nuclei of the right. The right-wing controls approximately one third of the mayors and governors and over forty percent of the national legislators. Major U.S. and EU petroleum multi-nationals have a substantial minority share in the oil sector.
The right-wing still monopolizes the print media and has a majority TV and radio audience despite government inroads. The government has gained influence via the nationalization of banks – a 20% share of that sector, a share of the mining and metal industry and a few food processing plants and a substantial base in agriculture via the agrarian reform beneficiaries.
The government has gained major influence among the public sector employees and workers in the oil industry, social services and the welfare and housing sector. The military and police appear to be strongly supportive and constitutionalist. The government has established mass media outlets and promoted a host of community based radio stations.
The majority of the trade unions and peasant associations back the government. But the real strength of the government is found in the quasi-institutional community based organizations rooted in the vast urban settlements linked to the ‘social missions’.
In terms of money power, the government draws on substantial oil earnings to finance popular long term and short term social impact programs, effectively countering the patronage programs of the private sector and the overt and clandestine “grass roots” funding by US foundations, NGOs and “aid” agencies. In other words despite suffering major political defeats and past decades of misrule and corruption, the right-wing retains powerful institutional bases to contest the powerful socio-economic advances of the Chavez government and to mount an aggressive electoral campaign.
Social Dynamics and the Presidential Campaign
The key to the success of the Chavez re-election is to keep the focus on socio-economic issues: the universal health and education programs, the vast public housing program underway, the state subsidized supermarkets, the improved public transport in densely populated areas. The sharper the national social polarization between the business elite and the masses, the less likely the right-wing can play on popular disaffection with corrupt and ineffective local officials. The greater the degree of social solidarity of wage, salaried and informal workers the less likely that the right can appeal to the status aspirations of the upwardly mobile workers and employees who have risen to middle class life styles, ironically during the Chavez induced prosperity.
The Chavez campaign plays to the promise of continued social prosperity, greater and continuing social mobility and opportunity, an appeal to a greater sense of social equality and fairness; and it has a bed rock 40% of the electorate ready to go to the barricades for the President. Capriles appeals to several contradictory groups: a solid core of 20% of the electorate, made up of the business, banking and especially agrarian elite and their employees, managers, and professionals who long for a return to the neo-liberal past, to a time when police, army and intelligence agencies kept the poor confined to their slums and the petrol treasury flowed into their coffers. The second group which Capriles appeals to are the professionals and the small business people who are fearful of the expansion of the public domain and the ‘socialist ideology’ and yet who have prospered via easy credits, increased clientele and public spending. The sons and daughters of affluent sectors of this class provide the “activists” who see in the downfall of the Chavez government an opportunity to regain power and prestige that they pretend to have had before the ‘revolt of the masses’. Capriles’ past open embrace of neo-liberalism and the military coup of 2002 and his close ties to the business elite, Washington and his right-wing counterparts in Colombia and Argentina assures the enraged middle class that his promise to retain Chavez social missions is pure electoral demagoguery for tactical electoral purposes.
The third group which Capriles does not have, but is vital if he is to make a respectable showing, is among the small towns, provincial lower middle class and urban poor. Here Capriles presents himself as a “progressive” supporter of Chavez social missions in order to attack the local administrators and officials for their inefficiencies and malfeasance and the lack of public security – Capriles, hyper-activity, his populist demagogy and his effort to exploit local discontent is effective in securing some lower class votes; but his upper class links and long history of aggressive support for right-wing authoritarianism has undermined any mass defection to his side.
Chavez on the other hand is highlighting his social accomplishments, a spectacular decade of high growth, the decline of inequalities (Venezuela has the lowest rate of inequalities in Latin America) and the high rates of popular satisfaction with governance. Chavez funding for social impact programs benefits from a year-long economic recovery from the world recession (5% growth for 2012), triple digit oil prices and a generally favorable regional political environment including a vast improvement in Colombian-Venezuelan relations.
The Correlation of Forces: International, Regional, National and Local
The Chavez government has benefited enormously from very favorable world prices for its main export-petroleum; it has also increased its revenues through timely expropriations and increases in royalty and tax payments, as well as new investment agreements from new foreign investors in the face of opposition from some US multinational corporations.
Washington, deeply involved in conflicts in oil rich Muslim countries, is in no position to organize any boycott against Venezuela one of its principle and reliable petrol providers; its last big effort at “regime change” in 2002-03, during the “lockout” by senior executives of the Venezuelan oil company backfired –it resulted in the firing of almost all US ‘assets’ and the radicalization of nationalist oil policy.
US efforts to ‘isolate’ the Chavez regime internationally have failed; Russia and China have increased their trade and investment, as have a dozen other European, Middle Eastern and Asian countries. The EU recession and the slowdown of the US and world economy has not been conducive to fostering any sympathy for any restrictions in economic ties with Venezuela.
Most significantly the rise of center-left regimes in Latin America, the Caribbean and Central America, has favored increasing diplomatic and economic ties with Venezuela and greater Latin American integration. In contrast Obama’s backing for the Honduran and Paraguayan coups and Washington-centered free trade agreements and neo-liberal policies have gone out of favor. In brief, the international and regional correlation of forces has been highly favorable to the Chavez government, while Washington’s dominant influence has waned.
One of the last Latin American bastions of US efforts to destabilize Chavez, Colombia, has sharply shifted policy toward Venezuela. With the change in regime from Uribe to Santos, Colombia has reached multi-billion dollar trade and investment agreements and joint diplomatic and military agreements with Venezuela, signaling a kind of ‘peaceful coexistence’. Despite a recent free trade agreement and the continuance of US military bases, Colombia has, at least in this conjuncture, ruled out joint participation in any US sponsored military or political intervention or destabilization campaign.
US political leverage in Venezuela is largely dependent on channeling financial resources and advisors toward its electoral clients. Given the decline in external regional allies, and given its loss of key assets in the Venezuelan military and among Colombian para-military forces, Washington has turned to its electoral clients. Via heavy financial flows it has successfully imposed the unification of all the disparate opposition groups, fashioned an ideology of moderate ‘centrist’ reform to camouflage the far right, neo-liberal ideology of the Capriles leadership and contracted hundreds of community agitators and ‘grass roots’ organizers to exploit the substantial gap between Chavez’s programatic promises and the incompetent and inefficient implementation of those policies by local officials.
The strategic weakness of the Chavez government is local, the incapacity of officials to keep the lights on and the water running. At the international, regional and national level the correlation of forces favors Chavez. Washington and Capriles try to compensate for Chavez regional strength by attacking his regional aid programs, claiming he is diverting resources abroad instead of tending to problems at home. Chavez has allocated enormous resources to social expenditures and infrastructure – the problem is not diversion abroad, it is mismanagement by local Chavista officials, many offspring of past clientele parties and personalities. The issue of rising crime and poor law enforcement would certainly cost Chavez more than a few lost votes if the same high crime rates were not also present in the state of Miranda where candidate Capriles has governed for the past four years
Despite massive gains for the lower classes and solid support among the poor, the emerging middle class product of Chavez era prosperity, has rising expectations of greater consumption and less crime and insecurity; they look to distance themselves from the poor and to approach the affluent; their eyes look upward and not downward. The momentum of a dozen years in power is slowing, but mass fears of a neo-liberal reversion limits the possible electorate that Capriles can attract. Despite crime and official inefficiencies and corruption, the Chavez era has been a period extremely favorable for the lower class and sectors of business, commerce and finance. This year -2012- is no exception. According to the UN, Venezuela’s 5% growth rate exceeds that of Argentina (2%) Brazil (1.5%) and Mexico (4%). Private consumption has been the main driver of growth thanks to the growth of labor markets, increased credit and public investment. The vast majority of Venezuelans, including sectors of business will not vote against an incumbent government generating one of the fastest economic recoveries in the Hemisphere. Capriles’ radical rightist past and present covert agenda could provoke class conflict, political instability, economic decline and an unfavorable climate for international investors.
Washington is probably not in favor of a post-election coup or destabilization campaign if Capriles loses by a significant margin. The popularity of Chavez, the social welfare legislation and material gains and the dynamic growth this year ensures him of a victory margin of 10%. Chavez will receive 55% of the votes against Capriles 45%. Washington and their rightist clients are planning to consolidate their organization and prepare for the congressional elections in December. The idea is a “march through the institutions” to paralyze executive initiatives and frustrate Chavez’s efforts to move ahead with a socialized economy. The Achilles heel of the Chavez government is precisely at the local and state level: a high priority should be the replacement of incompetent and corrupt officials with efficient and democratically controlled local leaders who can implement Chavez’s immensely popular programs. And Chavez must devote greater attention to local politics and administration to match his foreign policy successes: the fact that the Right can turn out a half a million demonstraters in Caracas is not based on its ideological appeal to a ruinous, coup driven past, but in its success in exploiting chronic local grievances which have not been addressed – crime, corruption, blackouts and water shortages .
What is at stake in the October 2012 election is not only the welfare of the Venezuelan people but the future of Latin America’s integration and independence, and the prosperity of millions dependent on Venezuelan aid and solidarity.
A Chavez victory will provide a platform for rectification of a basically progressive social agenda and the continuation of an anti-imperialist foreign policy. A defeat will provide Obama or Romney with a trampoline to re-launch the reactionary neo-liberal and militarist policies of the pre-Chavez era – the infamous Clinton decade (of the 1990’s) of pillage, plunder, privatization and poverty.
British anti-war campaigners, the Stop the War Coalition, have organized two protest rallies for next week against the war in Afghanistan and the threats on Iran and Syria.
The Sunday rally in London’s Trafalgar Square will be held on the 11th anniversary of the start of the war in Afghanistan to commemorate those killed in an event dubbed Naming of the Dead.
The protest will also call for an end to the British government’s involvement in the “unjustified and futile war” and bring the troops home by Christmas.
Paul Flynn who was recently sacked from the British parliament for saying the government has been lying about Afghanistan will be among the participants in the event.
Also on Tuesday, the Stop the War Coalition will hold a rally at the University of London Union against the “western intervention in Syria” and the threats of military action against Iran.
The Stop the War Coalition’s core idea of a joint rally against the intervention in Syria and the threats on Iran is that Syria is only an excuse for an attack on Iran.
“An attack on Iran remains the ultimate goal for the US. Intervention in Syria is a stepping stone toward that goal,” the group said in a statement on its website.
The group is also warning that any intervention will have “huge regional and global consequences” and will at best “deny the Syrian people the right to determine their own future.”
“It will place the opposition leadership in the hands of the western powers and their allies, who will act in their own interests,” the group said.
The rallies come amid sporadic reports and confirmations by British officials including Foreign Secretary William Hague that London is helping Syrian terrorists with military equipment and intelligence supplies.
- Tutu: Try Blair and Bush for war crimes (morningstaronline.co.uk)
- Ending the Violence in Syria (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- | MP ejected from parliament for saying UK Govt lying about Afghan War! (truthaholics.wordpress.com)
Turkey’s parliament has authorized cross-border military operations into Syria ‘when necessary.’ The move follows a cross-border mortar-shelling into Turkey which Damascus has apologized for.
Parliament voted 320-129 in favor of the bill, though the government was quick to eliminate the perception the country is preparing for a unilateral military assault.
“The bill is not for war… It has deterrent qualities,” Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Besir Atalay told reporters after the vote on Thursday.
He stressed that Turkey’s priority was to act in conjunction with “international institutions” on Syria. Atalay further said the Syrian government has admitted what it did and apologized. The deputy premier added that Syria had given its assurances “such an incident would not be repeated.”
The Turkish army has been shelling Syrian military positions since Wednesday in retaliation for shelling conducted from Syrian territory that killed five civilians.
The government-initiated debates in the Turkish parliament took place behind closed doors. The cabinet of Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan claimed the Syrian military had launched an act of aggression against Turkey.
MP Muharrem Ince from the opposition Republican People’s party said the motion was dangerous as it had no clearly defined limits.
“You can wage a world war with [this motion],” Hürriyet Daily News cites him as saying.
Ince also lambasted the fact that the session took place behind closed doors.
“Why would you hide this from the people? Will it be your children that go to war? People are not going to know why they have sent their children to war,” he said.
On Wednesday at least three mortar bombs fired from Syria killed five civilians and wounded at least eight in the Turkish town of Akcakale. It was the second such mortar attack on the Turkish town since last Friday. Foreign Minister Davutoglu warned he would take action if there were a repeat in the wake of the shelling.
After a heated debate an urgent parliamentary session has opted to apply the new law.
Originally the bill targeted militants of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) fighting for independent Kurd state for the last three decades. The Kurds have bases in northern Iraq, de-facto not controlled by the government in Baghdad. The Turkish military has conducted a number of air and ground assaults on Kurdish positions in Iraq, most of them considered successful.
The debates around the move have sparked sharp negative reaction among the Turkish population. While a small group of anti-war protesters rallied outside the Turkish parliament in Ankara, a real anti-war storm has been initiated by Turkish and foreign activists on social networks both inside and outside of Turkey. The hashtag #savasahayir (no to war) quickly spread beyond Turkish borders into global social networking.
- Turkish Army continues shelling positions in Syria (alethonews.wordpress.com)