Europe
Pushilin

Podcast: Ukraine: against the ‘Nazi’ calumny

In Episode 152 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg calls out the relentless propaganda exploitation of the Azov Battalion to tar Ukraine as “Nazi” by the same pseudo-left hucksters (e.g. the inevitable Grayzone) who engage in shameless shilling for the fascist regime of Bashar Assad in Syria—which is beloved of the radical right and which employed fugitive Nazis to train its security forces. These hucksters also (of course) join with far-right figures such as Marjorie Taylor Greene and NickFuentes in openly rooting for Putin and opposing aid to Ukraine. And while hyperventilating about the Azov Battalion (which years ago purged its far-right leadership), they make no note of the Nazis fighting on the Russian side in Ukraine. This is both pseudo-pacifist war propaganda and fascist pseudo-anti-fascism. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon. (Image: Denis Pushilin, head of the Russian-backed Donetsk “People’s Republic,” giving an award to one of his thugs who is wearing two Nazi insignia on his sleeve. Credit: The Sun. Fair use rights asserted)

Europe
Holodomor

Germany recognizes Holodomor as genocide

The German Bundestag voted to formally recognize the Holodomor, a politically induced famine that decimated Ukraine in 1932-3, as a genocide. The declaration found that Soviet authorities demanded inflated quantities of grain from Ukrainian farmers and punished those who fell short with additional demands. Affected regions were cut off from the rest of the Soviet Union so that Ukrainians could not receive aid. As a result, approximately 3.5 million Ukrainians starved to death. The Bundestag characterized the Holodomor as a project of Joseph Stalin to suppress the Ukrainian “way of life, language and culture,” and one of the most “unimaginable crimes against humanity” in Europe’s history. The motion also recognized Germany’s own history of genocide and the Bundestag’s “special responsibility” to acknowledge and condemn crimes against humanity. Ukraine declared the Holodomor a genocide in 2006. (Photo: 2019 Holodomor remembrance in Kyiv. Credit: EuroMaidan Press)

Europe
Hagal

Propaganda exploitation of Italy neo-Nazi bust

Italian police carried out raids against an armed neo-Nazi network called the Order of Hagal, arresting five suspected militants. Searches in Naples and other cities turned up large caches of fascist regalia. In addition to swastika flags and Mussolini portraits was a banner of Ukraine’s Azov Battalion, with whom one member of the network is said to have fought. This is avidly jumped on by Putin propaganda outlet Grayzone, under the headline: “Blowback: Italian police bust Azov-tied Nazi cell planning terror attacks.” Grayzone of course fails to mention that in the press photos where the regalia is displayed, the Azov Battalion ensign appears directly below that of the European Solidarity Front for Syria, a pro-Assad formation rooted in Italy’s far-right Casa Pound movement. (Photo: IPA/Fotogramma via  Sky TG24. Fair use rights asserted.)

Syria
rojava

Turkey bombs Rojava, pressures Sweden

Turkish warplanes carried out air-strikes on several towns within the Kurdish autonomous zone in northern Syria, known as Rojava. Among the towns hit was Kobane, from where Ankara says the order was given for the suicide attack in Istanbul that left six dead. ”Kobane, the city that defeated ISIS, is subjected to bombardment by the aircraft of the Turkish occupation,” tweeted a spokesperson for the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). Both the SDF and affiliated Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), named by Turkish authorities as behind the Istanbul attack, deny any involvement. Three days after the blast, Sweden acceded to Turkish demands that it stiffen “anti-terrorist” measures as a precondition for joining NATO. The Swedish Riksdag adopted a constitutional amendment facilitating passage of laws to limit freedom of association for those who engage in or support “terrorism.” Turkey has long accused Sweden of giving harbor to exiled PKK sympathizers. (Photo via ANF)

Greater Middle East
syria

Multiple interventions continue in Syria

An air raid on the convoy of an Iran-backed militia in eastern Syria’s Deir az-Zor province left 14 presumed fighters dead and made brief headlines. There was immediate speculation that the raid was the latest in the small but growing handful of times over the course of the 10-year Syrian war that the US has bombed forces allied with the Assad regime. The strikes did immediately follow the slaying of a US aid worker in Iraq. However, Israel has for years also carried out sporadic air-strikes on similar targets in Syria, and has likewise come under suspicion in this attack. Getting far less media attention are ongoing air-strikes by Russia and the Assad regime on the remaining pocket of rebel control in Syria’s northwest. Just three days before the Deir az-Zor attack, Russian or regime strikes in Idlib province targeted a displaced persons camp, leaving at least seven noncombatants dead—and winning few international headlines. (Image: Pixabay)

Europe
Jill Stein

Podcast: against pseudo-pacifist war propaganda II

In Episode 148 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg notes that the ANSWER Coalition—a formation so “tankie” that it actually displays portraits of the genocidal Syrian dictator Bashar Assad at its Orwellian “anti-war” rallies—is holding a panel at The People’s Forum in New York on “The Real Path to Peace in Ukraine.” The headlining speaker is to be Jeremy Corbyn, who was bashed by Ukraine’s government as a “useful idiot” of Vladimir Putin for joining a panel demanding a cut-off of military to aid to the besieged nation. Other panelists are even more subservient to Moscow’s military aims, including Vijay Prashad, Medea Benjamin, Jill Stein and Brian Becker. Notably absent from the panel (of course) are any progressive Ukrainian voices—such as Yuliya Yurchenko or Vladislav Starodubtsev of the Ukrainian left-opposition group Sotsialniy Rukh (Social Movement), Taras Bilous, editor of the Ukrainian socialist journal Commons, or Artem Chapeye, Noam Chomsky’s Ukrainian translator who called Chomsky out in an open letter for abetting Russian propaganda after the war began. All these Ukrainian voices, whatever strong criticism they may have of the neoliberal government of Volodymyr Zelensky, are unequivocal on the need to defend Ukraine against Russian imperialist assault. Whereas this hypocritical “anti-war” panel is an exercise in pseudo-pacifist war propaganda. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon. (Photo of Jill Stein dining with Putin via social media)

Syria
Hassakeh

Syria faces ‘dire water crisis’

Syria’s cholera outbreak has now spread to every one of the country’s 14 provinces, with 24,000 suspected cases and more than 80 deaths since early September. Severe water shortages—exacerbated by war, politics, and climate change—have forced people to drink unsafe water and allowed cholera bacteria to spread in the extremely low Euphrates River. There are other dangerous impacts from what the UN calls an “already dire water crisis” that is likely to get worse: Pastures dry up, and farmers have to sell their livestock. Crop yields are low, prices go up, and more families are forced to skip meals. This has especially grim implications as winter comes to northern Syria, where some 1.7 million are displaced and living in camps—already facing privation and harsh conditions. (Photo: Daniela Sala/TNH)

Planet Watch
Chad

Podcast: climate change and the global struggle II

In Episode 147 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg notes the recent statement from the UN Environment Program that “only a root-and-branch transformation of our economies and societies can save us from accelerating climate disaster.” Studies from similarly prestigious global bodies have raised the prospect of imminent human extinction. An International Energy Agency report released last year warned that new fossil fuel exploration needed to halt by 2022 in order to keep warming within the limits set by the 2015 Paris Agreement. Adoption of new technologies and emissions standards does mean that CO2 emissions from energy generation (at least) are likely to peak by 2025. But the IEA finds that this would still lead to global temperatures rising by 2.5 C above pre-industrial levels by century’s end—exceeding the Paris Agreement limits, with catastrophic climate impacts. And the catastrophic impacts, already felt in places like Chad and Cameroon, win but scarce media coverage. Climate-related conflict has already escalated to genocide in Darfur. Climate protests in Europe—at oil terminals and car shows (as well as, less appropriately, museums)—do win some attention. But the ongoing resistance to oil mega-projects in places like Uganda and Tanzania are comparatively invisible to the outside world. The dire warnings from the UN and IEA raise the imperative for a globalized resistance with an explicitly anti-capitalist politics. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon. (Photo of Tantaverom region of Chad via UNDP)

Greater Middle East
Turkey

Turkey: hundreds of refugees deported to Syria

Human Rights Watch reports that Turkish authorities arbitrarily arrested, detained and deported hundreds of Syrian refugees between February and July 2022. The report found that refugees are arrested in their homes, workplaces and on the street, then detained in harsh conditions, and forced over the border to Syria. According to the UN, Turkey hosts the world’s largest refugee population with 3.7 million Syrians under temporary protection. The deportation of refugees is contrary to the prohibition of refoulement under international law—meaning the return of refugees to a place where they would face a real risk of persecution, torture or other ill-treatment, or a threat to life. HRW says the EU must “acknowledge that Turkey does not meet its criteria for a safe third country and suspend its funding of migration detention and border controls until forced deportations cease.” (Map: CIA)

Iraq
Bordeaux

Turkey accused of chemical attacks in Iraqi territory

Kurdish communities in cities across Europe held protests demanding action on claims that the Turkish military has repeatedly used chemical weapons in its ongoing air-strikes against strongholds of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in northern Iraq. The Nobel-winning International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW) said it found evidence of chlorine and other “improvised chemical agents” during an investigative mission to Iraq. The IPPNW urged international bodies including the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) to launch formal investigations. The PKK has released the names of 17 guerrillas it says were killed by Turkish chemical attacks in Southern Kurdistan (northern Iraq) over the past year. Kurdish news outlets published a video that has been circulating on social media, showing two PKK fighters apparently suffering under influence of a chemical agent. The Turkish defense ministry dismissed the claims as “completely baseless and untrue.” Iraq’s parliament has established a commission to examine the charges. (Photo: ANF)

Europe
Lampedusa

EU doubles down on asylum double standards

More than 1.1 million refugees and asylum seekers have entered Germany this year—outpacing the 890,000 that arrived during the Mediterranean migration crisis in 2015. Back then, the vast majority were Syrians. This year, around one million of those who have entered are Ukrainians, although Syrians, Afghans, and others continue to arrive. For Ukrainians, the EU Commission has extended the Temporary Protection Directive—first activated in March, and allowing them to live, work, and access services throughout the EU. Some 4.2 million Ukrainians have registered under the directive, which is now valid until March 2024. Meanwhile, the EU is pursuing much less welcoming policies for asylum seekers and migrants from other parts of the world. These include the the Dublin Regulation, that since 2003 has required asylum seekers to apply for protection in the member state they first entered—often prolonging perilous journeys to reach sanctuary beyond countries with harsh immigration policies, such as Poland and Hungary. (Photo: Sara Creta/TNH)

Europe
Izyum

Ukraine: over 18,000 war crimes documented

Ukraine’s Center for Civil Liberties, which was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize with other rights defenders from the region earlier this month, reports that it has documented 18,000 war crimes committed on Ukrainian territory since the conflict began there in 2014—with the number skyrocketing since the Russian invasion of this year. Instances of torture and rape by Russian occupation forces are particularly emphasized. The Center is stepping up its investigative work in response to a fast-growing caseload. Ukraine’s law enforcement system is already overloaded with war crimes cases, and the International Criminal Court is focusing on only a few cases. The Center’s leader Oleksandra Matviychuk is calling for creation of a special tribunal to try Vladimir Putin and Russian war criminals. (Photo via Twitter)