Accountability for Assad’s Murder of Marie Colvin: A Precedent for Justice?

By Javier SethnessColvin RIP

Originally published on Notes Toward an International Libertarian Eco-Socialism

On Thursday, January 31, a U.S. judge found the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad responsible for the targeted assassination of U.S. journalist Marie Colvin in Homs in 2012. A reporter for The Sunday Times, Colvin had been covering the regime’s besiegement of the Baba Amr district of Homs, whose population had rebelled against Assad’s rule as part of the Revolution which had begun in the southern city of Der’aa in March 2011. Though evacuated with other internationals and journalists within days of her arrival as a precautionary measure in light of a threatened regime offensive, Colvin returned with the French photojournalist Rémi Ochlik and British photographer Paul Conroy to the improvised community media center from where they had been reporting. As Conroy describes, he, Colvin, and Ochlik believed that, by reporting on the regime’s besiegement of Baba Amr, they could affect world opinion and bring relief to civilians under fire.  It was from Baba Amr that Colvin courageously went live on CNN, the BBC, ITN News, and Channel 4 News, on February 21, 2012, to belie the Assad regime’s fabrications that its assault on the district was exclusively targeting so-called “terrorists.” It was for this reason that the regime killed her, the very next morning after the broadcast. They triangulated her location via her cell signal due to Colvin’s bravery in broadcasting the devastating truth to the world, murdering her and Ochlik in a targeted artillery strike. As judge Amy Jackson observes in her ruling, Colvin was “specifically targeted because of her profession, for the purpose of silencing those reporting on the growing opposition movement in the country.”

Colvin’s remarkable story is told in two recent films: Under the Wire and A Private War. I will not here be discussing Under the Wire, which is brilliantly reviewed by Muhammad Idrees Ahmad in the New York Review of Books here. Instead, I will offer some comments about A Private War, a 2018 dramatization of Colvin’s life, directed by Matthew Heineman and written by Marie Brenner and Arash Amel.

Though Colvin covered armed conflicts for three decades, in A Private War, we follow her in her later assignments to war zones in Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya. It is amidst covering Sri Lanka’s civil war that Colvin suffers a disfiguring injury, leading her to wear a distinctive eye-patch over her left orbit. While there is little sense in the film that Colvin had an anti-imperialist critique of U.S. participation in wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya, the film depicts her dynamic and increasingly humanist approach to journalism, culminating in her martyrdom in Homs in February 2012. During the Libya segment, which takes place shortly after the outbreak of protests against Mua’mmar al-Qaddafi, we see Colvin outright interviewing the autocrat. Though Colvin never had the chance to question Assad—she was no Vanessa Beeley, a neo-fascist propagandist, but rather the Syrian despot’s direct victim—we get the sense that the writers and director are here channeling Assad’s specter through Colvin’s interaction with Qaddafi, given their similarities, from political authoritarianism to inter-personal repulsiveness and sexism, and their common opportunistic use of nationalist, ‘socialist,’ and ‘anti-imperialist’ rhetoric to legitimize their crimes. It follows logically that both Qaddafi and Assad would present essentially all opposition to their rule as “al-Qaeda” and/or “terrorists,” as they have.

Continue reading “Accountability for Assad’s Murder of Marie Colvin: A Precedent for Justice?”

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“Behind Turkey’s Attack on the Afrin Kurds: Imperialist Machinations in the Middle East” by Ali Kiani

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“The family’s plastic shoes remain after four members of the al-Khater family died when a Turkish shell hit their home in Maabatli, Kurdish Syria” (Courtesy Robert Fisk/The Independent)

Speech at Coalition for Peace, Revolution and Social Justice’s January 26 banner drop marking “Year 2 of Trump: LA Rise Up!”

by Ali Kiani, International Marxist-Humanist Organization

The danger of nuclear war is present today more than ever with Trump’s threats against North Korea and Iran. Without precedent in US history, the president openly states that he is willing to wage war and destroy a nation for US interests, disregarding his allies’ wishes. Trump not only follows the advice of his buddy Benjamin Netanyahu about the Iran nuclear deal, but he also announces that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. He remains ahead of schedule on the opening of the US embassy there as well as cutting off funding for Mahmoud Abbas for a Palestinian state, unless he bows to Israel and respects Trump. At same time, his military commander General Jim Mattis announces that the US should be ready for war at any moment.

Continue reading ““Behind Turkey’s Attack on the Afrin Kurds: Imperialist Machinations in the Middle East” by Ali Kiani”

Stop Trump’s War Threats against North Korea and Iran!

by Los Angeles Coalition for Peace, Revolution and Social Justice

August 11, 2017

chung sung jun getty

Courtesy Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images

With Donald Trump’s open threats of nuclear annihilation in August, the U.S.-North Korea confrontation has become the greatest threat to world peace. The U.S. has never recognized the North Korean regime and it was explicitly targeted—alongside Iraq and Iran—in George W. Bush’s infamous 2002 “Axis of Evil” speech. Since then, this brutal totalitarian regime has escalated its nuclear program—most recently, by launching a missile that could reach Alaska, and by threatening to target Guam. Even if the North Koreans have not yet miniaturized their nuclear warheads to fit onto a missile, it is conceivable that this will happen in the next few years. At the same time, the U.S. has targeted North Korean territory with nuclear weapons for decades. We oppose U.S. imperialism and all other forms of imperialism, militarism, and authoritarian capitalism in East Asia and throughout the world.

An equally dangerous war threat we face is the U.S., the Saudis, their allies, and Israel against Iran. Trump has vowed to rip up Iran’s nuclear agreement with the U.S., the UN, and the European Union. Trump also used very bellicose language against Iran during his trip to Saudi Arabia in May. More recently, he has promised to decertify the nuclear agreement in October, which could touch off a real war with Iran. We need to find ways to oppose Trump’s war threats while also supporting democratic and revolutionary movements inside Iran and the region. Iran is a regional power that, with its ally Russia, has intervened brutally against the Syrian people. We oppose the imperialist war threats against Iran and also support the struggles of the peoples of the region against all other forms of imperialism, militarism, authoritarianism, and capitalism.

Stop Trump’s War Threats against North Korea and Iran!

Abolish nuclear weapons everywhere, including the U.S., N. Korea, Israel, Russia and China!

Defend the peoples of the Middle East and Asia from war, imperialism, and authoritarian capitalism!

Stop the Russian-Iranian imperialist intervention in Syria! Support Syrians Who Oppose Assad, ISIS and Al-Qaida!

Stop Trump’s Social War on the people of the U.S.!

Frieda Afary, “How Did We Go from the Arab Spring and the Occupy Movement to the Destruction of the Syrian Revolution and the Global Rise of Racist Authoritarianism?”

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Frieda Afary, Alliance of Syrian and Iranian Socialists

Comments presented at the July 14 launch of the Coalition for Peace, Revolution and Social Justice at a public meeting at the Westside Peace Center, Culver City

In 2011, the world was abuzz with the spirit of the Arab Spring, a revolutionary movement for social justice, freedom and human dignity which aimed to overthrow authoritarian states in the Middle East.   This movement seemed to come out of nowhere but was actually the result of decades of deep mass dissatisfaction with worsening poverty and political repression under authoritarian regimes such as those of Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Syria.

The revolts in Tunisia and in Egypt involved the participation of youth and women as well as large labor unions. They led to the overthrow of the dictators, Ben Ali in Tunisia and Mubarak in Egypt.   The uprising in Syria against the regime of Bashar al-Assad had the most diverse composition, involving youth, workers, women, and not only the Sunni Arab majority but also the Kurds, an oppressed national minority, as well as members of the Alawite Muslim minority, Christians, Assyrians and the Druze Shi-a community.   The Arab Spring was really a Middle Eastern Spring that involved non-Arabs and even extended to protests against poverty and corruption in Israel. It was also preceded by the Iranian Green movement, a mass protest movement against the fraudulent presidential election in 2009 which lasted several months before it was brutally crushed by the Iranian government.

Continue reading “Frieda Afary, “How Did We Go from the Arab Spring and the Occupy Movement to the Destruction of the Syrian Revolution and the Global Rise of Racist Authoritarianism?””