Libyans Continue to Resist NATO-Installed Regime

Chaos reigns, human rights violations abound

Libyan woman from Tawargha protests in Martyr's Square, Tripoli, Nov. 5 (Editor's Note: Notice that the mural in the square depicts white Europeans, not Libyans, carrying the Idris flag)

Party for Socialism and Liberation
by Derek Ford

NOVEMBER 26 — One month after the official “liberation” of Libya was declared, the authority of the National Transition Council remains tenuous at best and the country remains in a state of chaos. There have been signs of renewed resistance and intense factional struggles within the forces that comprise the NTC.

Resentment against rebel militias continues to build across the country. Libyans are angered over the mob-like rule imposed by NTC militias that regularly loot homes and businesses. At military checkpoints, rebels arrest anyone who cannot produce proper identification.

Conditions in the prisons run by the NTC are inhumane, according to reports from international agencies. The U.N. human rights office has found evidence of torture in the prisons, where NTC fighters take revenge on anyone they suspect of supporting the resistance.

A leaked report by Ban ki-Moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations, indicates that some 7,000 detainees are currently being held in NTC jails with “no access to due process.” The Independent broke the story on Nov. 24. The report affirms that torture in the facilities is widespread. A large number of the prisoners are dark-skinned sub-Sarahan Africans, and there are cases where these prisoners are singled out because of their skin color. Women and children are also among those held. (The Independent, Nov. 24)

The life of Dr. Abuzaid Omar Dorda, once Libya’s prime minister and permanent representative to the U.N. under Gaddafi, has been in grave danger since his capture on Sept. 11. Prison guards broke both of his legs during an attempt on his life, which also caused internal bleeding. He remains untreated from those injuries.

Meanwhile, there are factional struggles erupting between the multitude of brigades that comprise the NTC military forces. On Nov. 12, quarreling units exchanged gunfire 15 miles outside of Tripoli, sending panic-stricken residents running from their homes. There is also evidence that Al-Qaeda forces are among those who have been fighting alongside NATO, as the Al-Qaeda flag was hoisted earlier this month above the Benghazi courthouse that was used as rebel headquarters throughout the year.

Signs of renewed resistance

Just 90 miles south of Tripoli in Bani Walid, residents remain defiant to the new government. In the town’s main hospital, which is under the control of a former NTC fighter, a portrait of Gaddafi lies at the floor of the entrance. The majority of the hospital’s visitors walk around the portrait, so as not to disrespect the former leader.

One NTC fighter told Reuters that “There are shootouts every day with Gaddafi loyalists.” (Reuters, Oct. 26) There have been reports that Warfalla tribe members were hoisting the green flags that symbolize the resistance and marching on Nov. 16. Anti-Gaddafi graffiti in the town has been covered up and painted over with warnings of resistance, including the slogan “the Warfalla tribe hasn’t used its power yet.” Nearly one-sixth of the Libyan population belongs to the Warfalla.

On Nov. 23 there were armed clashes between NTC troops and the Green Resistance in Bani Walid. Reports indicate that 7 people died, most of whom were NTC fighters.

Throughout the west, from Tripoli to Al-Zawiya, there have been clashes between the resistance and NATO forces. On Nov. 11, the resistance launched an offensive against what is known as Camp 27. During the fighting, resistance forces managed to free 300 prisoners. There has even been fighting in the rebel stronghold of Misrata.

Resistance groups have been formally organizing in the Sahel region in the south and have officially formed the Libyan Liberation Front. The region stretches across the borders of Niger, Chad, Sudan and provides easy access to Mali. There are reports that LLF is gathering weapons and providing training in the region. (Counterpunch, Nov. 4-6)

The LLF will likely find sympathy amongst the countries bordering the Sahel. In a recent soccer game between Tunisia and Algeria, the players and fans took a moment of silence to honor Muammar Gaddafi. During the game, fans held up a large composite photo of Gaddafi.

In addition to organizing militarily, the LLF is organizing formal political opposition to the NTC. They plan on running in the promised elections next summer.

Imperialists capture Saif al Islam Gaddafi

On Nov. 19, NTC forces announced that they had captured Saif al-Islam Gaddafi outside of Sabha and Ubari. The verification of his capture by video and cell phone footage came as a surprise, as the NTC had previously reported that they had captured him numerous times and killed him once.

When the plane transporting Saif al-Islam landed in Zintan, an angry crowd of resistance supporters flooded the tarmac and tried to storm the plane.

The International Criminal Court has wanted to try Saif al-Islam for alleged crimes committed during the February rebel uprising, and has had a warrant out for his arrest since June.

There are several problems with this situation. The first is that the alleged crimes for which he is to be tried have been thoroughly disproven by numerous human rights organizations. There was never any massacring of civilians; what happened in Libya was a civil war. The second problem with the ICC’s intervention is that the agency only has jurisdiction over its member nations’ territories and citizens. Libya was not and, at the time of this writing, is not a member.

The Libyan Liberal Youth, a resistance group, issued the following statement online:

“This war has not been about the Gadhaffi family, it’s about the majority of Libyans rejection of foreign invasions, massacres, and intrusion into Libyan affairs.”

Also see:
Urgent Action Petition Campaign for Saif Gaddafi
Terror and Revenge Engulf NATO’s Libya

Protests in Syria: Who Counts the Dead?

by Julie Lévesque
Global Research, November 25

According to numerous reports from the Western media, human rights organisation, as well as the UN, countless peaceful civilians have been killed by the Syrian forces since the beginning of the unrest in the country in mid March. But where do the numbers come from?

Many media reports on the alleged deadly repression by the Syrian government fail to mention the sources of their information, which are very often referred to solely as “human rights groups” or “activists”:

“Rights groups said Sunday that troops cracking down on pro-democracy protesters killed eight people in northern Idlib province and four more in central areas near Hama. (Syrian Forces Kill 12 as ICRC Head Visits Damascus, Voice of America, September 4, 2011.)

These protests are an unprecedented challenge to President Bashar al-Assad — and his family, which has ruled the country for more than 40 years. The cost has been high: at least 200 dead, according to human rights groups, and many cyber activists have been jailed. (Deborah Amos, Syrian Activist In Hiding Presses Mission From Abroad, NPR, April 22, 2011.)

At least 75 people have been killed today in Syria during mass protests, local human rights activists told Amnesty International […]

Thirty were killed in the southern town of Izzra’, 22 in Damascus, 18 in the Homs area and the rest in other towns and villages, activists said […] (Scores killed in Syria as ‘Great Friday’ protests are attacked, Amnesty International, April 22, 2011.)

Although the necessity to remain “anonymous” where dissent is said to be life threatening may under certain circumnstances be understandable, this stance inevitably raises suspicions: The “‘numbers” can be used to demonize the government, as part of covert operations by any state or organisation looking for regime change in Damascus. It is no secret that the overthrow of the Syrian regime has been a long-sought goal by several foreign powers, including the U.S. and Israel.

The reliance of the mainstream media on information emanating from anonymous groups provides a biased understanding of the Syrian protests, which in turn supports the broader objective of destabilizing the Syrian regime.

When information from unknown sources pertaining to the death toll is published either by a mainstream media or a recognized human rights group, it is invariably picked up and considered as “factual evidence” by other news sources or think tanks, without further verification. Moreover, intghe process the information is subject to further distortion. Here is an example of this phenomenon:

Rights group Amnesty International said on Friday that it has recorded the names of 171 people killed since the first protesters died in Daraa on March 18.

The group based its tally on information received from rights activists, lawyers and other sources and said the majority appeared to have been killed by live ammunition fired by the security forces. (Protesters killed in southern Syria, Al Jazeera, April 9, 2011.)

The above news article is based on trhe following statenment by Amnesty International:

At least 171 people are believed to have been killed during three weeks of unrest in Syria, Amnesty International said today after at least eight more fatalities during protests.

The death toll from today’s clashes could rise significantly, according to reports from human rights activists in the country.

Amnesty International has recorded the names, via information received from sources including human rights activists and lawyers, of 171 people killed. (Death toll rises amid fresh Syrian protests, Amnesty International, April 8, 2011.)

The original information from Amnesty international (AI) is that “171 people are believed to have been killed”, a statement showing that although “it has recorded the names of 171 people killed”, this information could not be confirmed. Al Jazeera fails to report this “uncertainty” and by doing so makes it a fact rather than an assumption, that 171 people were killed.

Here is another example of blatant distortion:

Despite a pledge to end its crackdown, Syrian security forces continued to suppress anti-regime protestors, killing at least eighteen on Thursday in the city of Homs (al-Jazeera). (Jonathan Masters, Assad’s Broken Promises, Council on Foreign Relations, November 3, 2011.)

This is an analysis from the Council on Foreign Relations, the famous and extremely powerful U.S. foreign policy think tank [1]. It is based on the following article from Al Jazeera where the information related to the killing is markedly different:

“Dozens of people have reportedly been killed in the flashpoint city of Homs, as Syrian security forces bombarded residential areas with tanks.

The reported deaths occurred in the Bab Amro district of Homs on Thursday, the Local Coordination Committees of Syria, an activist group monitoring the country’s uprising, said. (Syria “violence defies peace deal”,” Al Jazeera, November 4, 2011.)

Al Jazeera’s wording “reportedly been killed” and “reported deaths” shows the deaths have not been confirmed. The Qatari media also mentions that these claims come from one source only, namely from an activist group called Local Coordination Committees of Syria (LCC). The article from the CFR changed Al Jazeera’s allegations into concrete facts.

When it comes to counting the dead, the LCC is very often cited in the mainstream media as a source for reports on killings committed by the Syrian authorities, as we can see in the examples below:

Another opposition group, the Local Coordination Committees, said it could not corroborate the Syrian Observatory’s account of the military casualties, though it also called Monday one of the uprising’s bloodier days, with at least 51 civilians killed. “We don’t have any confirmation of what they’re claiming,” said Omar Idlibi, a spokesman for the Local Coordination Committees. (Nada Bakri and Rick Gladstone, Syria Faces New Threats as Opposition Seeks Allies, The New York Times, November 15, 2011.)

According to the opposition network, the Local Coordination Committees, at least five people were killed during the military offensives — three in the central province of Homs, one in the eastern border town of Tal Kalakh and one in Idleb along the Syrian-Turkish border. (Roula Hajjar, Syria: Activists report manhunt for defectors and protesters, Los Angeles Times, September 5, 2011.)

Secret police opened fire and shot teargas to disperse more than 10,000 protesters in Deir Ezzour, in Syria’s tribal east, an activist from the Syrian Revolution Coordinators Union (SRCU) told Al Jazeera. Ten protesters were wounded and around 40 were arrested, he said.

The SRCU is the name given this week to one of Syria’s grassroots opposition networks. The SRCU works alongside the Local Coordinating Committees (LCC), another grassroots opposition network. (Al Jazeera Live Blog – Syria, June 3, 2011.)

At least 2,200 people have been killed in Syria since the beginning of the unrest, by the United Nations’ count. An activist group, the Syrian Revolution Coordinating Union, said on Tuesday that 551 people were killed during Ramadan alone. The group said 130 others were killed on July 31, the eve of Ramadan, in an attack on the city of Hama, which was also the scene of a ferocious crackdown in 1982.

On Tuesday, four people were killed in Hara and two others in Inkil, two towns in Dara’a Province, according to the Local Coordination Committees, another group of activists who document demonstrations. (Nada Bakri, Syrian Security Forces Fire on Worshipers as Ramadan Ends, The New York Times, August 30, 2011.)

The above article mentions a “UN count” as if it were an independent source of information. However, according to one of its reports, the UN also relies on the same sources of information, the LCC, and it mentions in a note that it is unable to confirm if the information given by the LCC is true:

“At the time of writing, the mission had received more than 1,900 names and details of persons killed in the Syrian Arab Republic since mid-March 2011; all are said to be civilians [26]

26. This information is compiled by local coordinating committees active within the Syrian Arab Republic in documenting the names and details of victims. The mission is unable to verify independently this information.” (United Nations, Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on the situation of human rights in the Syrian Arab Republic – A/HRC/18/53, September 15, 2011.)

What are the Local Coordination Committees (LCC)?

According to the Christian Science Monitor, the LCC is part of the non-elected Syrian National Council (SNC). Even though most of its members are in exile and its members in Syria are unknown, the SNC is presented as the legitimate Syrian authority, and has been recognized by the National Transitional Council of Libya, another non-elected body recognized by Western powers as a “pro-democracy” representative of the Libyan people.

“Syrian opposition leaders meeting Sunday in Turkey formally created the Syrian National Council, bringing together most of the disparate groups seeking to unseat Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

The council includes the Local Coordination Committees, which has organized most of the protests across the country; the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood; and Kurdish groups; among others, the Associated Press reports. Almost half the members are from inside the country, according to the Washington Post, overcoming a key concern that the council would rely to (sic) heavily on exiles. (Ariel Zirulnick, Syrian oppositon groups formally unify, overcoming key hurdle, October 3, 2011.)

The LCC are somewhat “anonymous.” They refused a telephone interview, but agreed to answer some questions by email. They stated that for security reasons they could not reveal how many members the LCC includes, but claim 13 members of the LCC are in the SNC. “We have enough people to run demonstrations on ground, for media and relief action.”

LCC Logo

The members allegedly come from different backgrounds and are from all age groups; some are active inside Syria, the others outside the country. The LCC says that their members, in and outside Syria, have been threatened, arrested and tortured by the Syrian authorities. When asked how they became a source of information for the foreign media, the LCC says it is because they provide credible facts.

And what is the ultimate goal of the LCC? “Our goal is to change the regime in Syria, and as the first step, to end the mandate of the current President, who is now politically and legally responsible for the crimes committed by his regime against the Syrian people and a safe transfer of power in the country.”

Basically, the LCC wants regime change in Syria and it seems to be the major source of information for the western mainstream media and human rights organizations. This opposition group claims to provide “credible facts”, however there is no way to verify these facts. The so-called facts could well be propaganda intended to discredit the actual regime and galvanize public opinion in favour of the regime change the group aspires to implement.

Although the LCC spokesperson refused to disclose the names of its members, some have appeared in the mainstream media. One of their members, or collaborator, is Rami Nakhle, a cyberactivist living in exile in Beirut, Lebanon.

“Today, after 98 days of protests, he is living in denial,” says Rami Nakhle, a Syrian working in Beirut with the Local Coordination Committees, a clearinghouse for Syrian opposition protests and activities “It has become clear to everybody that Bashar al-Assad cannot change. He doesn’t realize that Syria has changed forever but he’s still the same president we heard last time, in April.” (Nicholas Blanford, Assad’s speech may buy time, but not survival, The Christian Science Monitor, June 20, 2011)

The activist has a privileged relationship with Al Jazeera, according to NPR:

When the Arabic channel Al-Jazeera broadcasts the latest news, the images come from Nakhle’s network. (Deborah Amos, Syrian Activist In Hiding Presses Mission From Abroad, April 22, 2011.)

It should be noted that Al Jazeera played a key role in promoting the regime change in Libya.

CyberDissidents.org, a website presented by the Bush Center as a “Voice of Freedom Online”, offers a brief portrait of Nakhle, which is not unlike the other portraits found in the mainstream press, which describe him solely as a cyber-dissident, as if he never had any other occupation:

“Rami Nakhle is a 27 year cyber-dissident. His use of social media to spread information about the Syrian Revolution caught the attention of Syrian authorities, causing him to flee to Lebanon in January 2011. For the past three years, he has been working under the pseudonym Malath Aumran. Although the Syrian secret police have discovered his real identity, he continues to use this pseudonym to retain recognition from his online followers.

Despite these threats from the Syrian government, Nakhle continues to work in hiding, continuing his campaign for freedom through Facebook, Twitter, and full-access interviews with prominent news sources like BBC and The New York Times. (CyberDissident Database)

Portrait of Rami Nakhle on CyberDissident.org

The U.S. government and NGOs doing CIA work, such as Freedom House, are major sponsors of cyber-dissidence:

Political dissidents from China, Iran, Russia, Egypt, Syria, Venezuela and Cuba will travel to Dallas to join with Fellows of the George W. Bush Institute, experts from Freedom House, Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society, the U.S. Government and other leaders in the field to discuss the successes and challenges of Internet-based political dissident movements around the world.

The George W. Bush Institute today [March 30, 2010] announced it will co-host a conference on cyber dissidents with the human rights organization Freedom House on April 19, 2010. (George W. Bush Institute and Freedom House to Convene Freedom Activists, Human Rights and Internet Experts to Assess Global Cyber Dissident Movement,” Business Wire, March 30, 2011)

Rami Nakhle doesn’t hide his interests in American organisations. On his Facebook page, he lists the following as “interests”: National Democratic Institute (NDI), chaired by Madeleine Albright, Human Rights Watch and the U.S. Embassy Damascus.

Nakhle’s interest in these organisations clearly shows which side he’s on, just like SCN member Radwan Ziadeh, former fellow of the National Endowment for Democracy, another organization well-known for its links with the CIA.

In an interview with the Guardian, the cyberactivist claims to be harassed by the Syrian secret police, on his Facebook wall. It might be true, but it would be a rather unusual tactic for a secret police, which usually, as its name says, acts secretly. Such harassment is more likely to be black propaganda — people opposed to the regime trying to make the Syrian authorities look bad. A kind of “cyber false flag” on Facebook, for everyone to see.

The “Syrian uprising” seems to be a copy and paste of the “protest movement” in Libya, which was conducive to a NATO invasion and regime change. The mainstream press has once again one principal source of information – the opposition groups. The media neglects military casualties and fails to report that armed gunmen, 17 000 according to a report from the International Institute for Strategic Studies, are among the protesters. A non-elected body, the SNC, ironically is upheld as a democratic movement and is offered “credibility” as well as extensive mainstream media coverage.

Global Research Articles by Julie Lévesque

Also see:
Crimson Satellite Syria News

Syrian Women Rally In Support of President al-Assad

Women in Hasaka voice support for President Bashar al-Assad.

SANA English Bulletin
with editing by Nina Westbury

DAMASCUS, (SANA) – Thousands of Syrian women on Thursday gathered in Bab Touma Square in Damascus for a mass rally to express support to the comprehensive reform program led by President Bashar al-Assad, stressing the importance of Syria’s sovereignty and independent national decision.

The participants condemned the Arab League (AL) decision against Syria and rejected foreign interference in Syria’s internal affairs.

Meanwhile, women led a rally inside President Square, in the northeastern governorate of Hasaka, to express rejection of the AL decision against Syria.

The female participants voiced their rejection of foreign interference in Syria’s internal affairs, lending support to the independent national decision and the preservation of their homeland’s sovereignty.

The women condemned the AL and globalist organizations, which work by all means to internationalize the situation in Syria — attempting to discredit its leading role in defending Arab rights.

The women, in a statement read by Chairperson of the General Women’s Union of Syria, Majida Ktait, denounced the Arab League’s decision; they pledged to defend the homeland, foil conspiracy and saboteurs, and to participate in the making of a national epic that restores glory to Arab history and preserves Syria’s strategic importance in the region.

The statement underlined that those conspiring against Syria use a variety of cheap tactics to undermine the nation’s security and stability, including soliciting the involvement of foreign media outlets.

The women’s statement saluted the martyrs who have sacrificed their lives for the safety and security of the homeland.

Over the past few weeks, main squares and streets of several Syrian communities have been filled with millions of Syrian citizens who stress national unity, express support to the reform process and denounce the AL decision against Syria.

R. Raslan/ H. Said/ al-Ibrahim

Also see:
Millions of Syrians Nationwide Rally Against Arab League
President al-Assad: “We Have No Choice Left but to Win Any Battle That Would Target Our Sovereignty”

Venezuela Launches School for Human Rights and People’s Power

Gabriela Ramirez, Venezuela’s chief public defender, said the school will dismantle the liberal vision of human rights (RNV)

Venezuelanalysis.com

Last week, the Venezuelan Public Defender’s Office launched a school for human rights education that will be run by the state-funded Juan Vives Suria Foundation in Caracas and will carry out seminars in twelve of the country’s 23 states.

The new school will aim to “dismantle the liberal, reductionist, and individualist vision of human rights” said Gabriela Ramirez, Venezuela’s chief public defender, during a press conference at the foundation, which is named after a Catholic Priest famed for his activism in defense of human rights.

“Our vision is not just to train the staff of the Public Defender’s Office, but rather to build an enduring culture of human rights, just as our constitution calls for, and that it be the communities themselves that have the capacity and the competence to defend their rights,” said Ramirez.

Social workers and community activists who have already been leading human rights campaigns or who have denounced human rights violations will be the initial participants in the school. While enrolment is free of charge, aspirant students must submit a proposal outlining a social problem in their community and how their human rights education will help them solve it. The school will also offer a certificate of training in the new Anti-Corruption Law for local advocates who can vigil the behaviour of government institutions and of their own communal councils.

POLITICAL EDUCATION & SOCIAL CHANGE

The new human rights school is the latest of the government’s ongoing efforts to provide political education and skills training necessary for the success of its experiments in workplace democracy, local communal councils, land reform, judicial and penitentiary reform, and anti-poverty programs.

One of the government’s earliest training efforts was a series of workshops offered to start-up cooperative businesses that received government credits in 2005 and 2006. The workshops included techniques in group facilitation, practical skills for cooperative business administration, and an overview of leftist political thought including the origins of poverty, racism, the ownership of the means of production, and Marx’s concept of the original accumulation of capital.

Following President Hugo Chavez’s landslide re-election at the end of 2006, the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) was formed and a National Development Plan for 2007 -2013 was drawn up. The plan’s first strategic guideline was “the development of a new socialist ethic,” which is considered the basis for subsequent strategic guidelines, including “the deepening of revolutionary participatory democracy” and “the establishment of a socialist development model.”

The government also launched the “Morality and Enlightenment” program, which expanded the content of the training to be relevant to all social justice activists and government employees who sought to hone their skills and strengthen their role as change agents in their communities. Another objective of the program was “that people would un-learn the anti-values of the capitalist system such as individualism and selfishness, and cultivate solidarity and respect for human life”, in the words of Higher Education Minister Luis Acuña in a 2007 interview.

The cultivation of new values through political education has been a central tenet of the PSUV’s ongoing “3Rs” campaign – referring to “revision, rectification, and restart” – which aim to root out corruption, inefficiency, nepotism, and political opportunism from state bureaucracies, state-owned companies, and communal organizations.

TRANSFORMING TRADITIONAL INSTITUTIONS

In addition to the creation of new institutions to promote a transformation of values, the Chavez government has reformed pre-existing institutions, such as the National Institute for Educational Cooperation (INCE), which was founded more than 50 years ago.

Before Chavez was elected, INCE was well-known and often praised for providing technical training courses in textiles, tourism, construction, agriculture, commerce, and services. The Chavez government has carried on this tradition, but added a new element: Political training. Now, the institution – renamed the National Institute for Socialist Training and Education (INCES) – offers a broader variety of technical skills combined with “training of men and women with revolutionary consciousness and ideology, who assume work to be a tool for liberation, who are capable of transforming the traditional capitalist production model into a humanist, just, and egalitarian economic system”, according to an INCES press release.

SCHOOL FOR STRENGTHENING PEOPLE’S POWER

The INCES hosts one of the government’s most recent and far-reaching political re-education programs, the School for Strengthening People’s Power, which has been allocated a 65 million bolivars ($15.1 million) budget for fiscal year 2012. The school’s facilitators use diverse pedagogical methods to guide students to empower themselves and bring about social transformation cooperatively with their communities.

Workshops are tailored to serve different constituencies, such as communal council spokespersons in specialized housing, finance, and culture commissions. The school offers workshops to professionals such as doctors, lawyers, and engineers, as well as to traditional working class workers, with the stated goal of creating “socialist work brigades” that promote a new concept of work rooted in commitment to social well-being.

The school also trains workers in state-run companies such as the telecommunications giant CANTV.

“These companies are managing multi-million dollar budgets that are in some cases bigger than the budgets of municipalities, so we have to change the mercantilist logic they operated by in the past”, said Sebastian Caldera, sub-director of political and ideological training at the school.

A fundamental part of the curriculum is an alternative history of Venezuela from the independence struggle against the Spanish Empire to the struggle for sovereignty and resistance to US hegemony. The curriculum includes independence hero Simon Bolivar’s ideas about South American integration, as well.

“Here in Venezuela, a large part of people’s history was hidden from us, and now we have the obligation and the duty to make these histories known,” said Caldera.

Mauricio Jaramillo, a facilitator at the school, said learning in the workshops is often mutual.

“More than teaching, we have learned a lot from the organized communities,” Jaramillo told COI. “We’ve also arrived to many communities where people do not know how to organize themselves, they do not know the new laws, or how to organize a commune – these are all things we teach them in the workshops.”

The school’s workshops take place in the participants’ workplaces, in local schools, in public buildings, and in universities. They occupy 6 full 8-hour days, which may fall within one week or be spread out across two long weekends or three normal weekends. The school’s goal in 2012 is to train 175,000 communal council spokespeople, 60,000 socialist work brigade members, 16,400 professionals, 11,000 activists, 720 INCES staff facilitators, and 160,000 refugees living in camps, according to Caldera.

“This army of people who are being trained to have dignified employment will be an example for the world. Here in Venezuela, unprecedented movements are taking place,” said Caldera.

“In the past, Latin America was a reference for bad policies, but now we see that in European countries and the US, the presidents and prime ministers are very low in the polls, and in contrast in Latin America we have [several presidents] winning re-election with more than 60% of the votes. So, let us do a comparison, which of the two systems is the better one? The capitalist one, or the progressive socialist one that is about people being subjects and not objects?”

Also see:
Venezuela Leads Efforts to Build Sovereign “Peace Zone” Through Integration

Interview: NATO Intervention Amounts to Recolonisation

IPS

RIO DE JANEIRO, Nov 17, 2011 (IPS) – Brazilian journalist and writer Mário Augusto Jakobskind was thwarted in his attempt to visit Libya during the civil war there, but in spite of this he produced a lucid analysis of the situation in the North African country and of the forces that have taken power after the fall of the Muammar Gaddafi regime.

Jakobskind, a 68-year-old correspondent for the Uruguayan weekly Brecha, was invited by the civil society Fact Finding Commission in Libya, along with people from several other nations, to visit Libya in August in the midst of the internal armed conflict and the aerial attacks by North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) forces.

But just as they were about to cross the border between Tunisia and Libya, the Brazilian delegation he was with had to turn back for security reasons, due to the intensified bombing and fighting on the ground.

In his book “Líbia: barrados na fronteira – O que não saiu na mídia sobre a invasão da Líbia” (Libya: Blocked at the Border. What the Media Did Not Publish about the Invasion of Libya), Jakobskind analyses the rebel forces that overthrew Gaddafi with NATO support, and their links with the extremist Al Qaeda network.

Q: Why was the Brazilian delegation unable to enter Libya?

A: The Fact Finding Commission (FFC) invited delegations from several countries to verify in situ what was happening in Libya, and to write an unbiased report on the impact of the NATO bombing, to be delivered to former United Nations secretary general Kofi Annan.

The Brazilian delegation, made up of nine people, two of whom were official parliamentary delegates, was the last one to arrive, after groups from countries like the United States, Venezuela, France and Italy.

The visit was to last 10 days. We departed from São Paulo and reached Tunis after a stopover in Paris, and then travelled overland towards Tripoli because Libya’s airspace was closed.

We left Aug. 14, and that very day NATO bombings were intensified. The leaders of the FFC in Tripoli themselves told us to go back to Tunis. The situation had changed. If we had arrived 24 hours earlier, we would have been able to get into Libya.

Q: Why did you want to go to Libya, in spite of the risks?

A: No journalist can ever turn down an invitation of this kind. I was psychologically prepared and aware of the risks, and of everything that could happen in a war situation. The idea was to prepare a report, but I also wanted to write something special about the country, the society, and the effects of the bombings.

Besides, the FFC, which issued the invitation, vouched for our security.

Q: What was it that the media did not publish about the NATO invasion of Libya?

A: The role of Al Qaeda, for instance. It is highly unusual for an organisation like Al Qaeda to fight alongside NATO against Gaddafi. I discovered this information by investigating, and from correspondents who have followed events in Libya from the start. This has not been published.

Certain NATO leaders are linked with the extreme right, like NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, who was prime minister of Denmark from 2001 to 2009.

Fogh Rasmussen headed a coalition with the right wing of the Conservative People’s Party and relied for support on the Danish People’s Party, which has affinity with the Norwegian Progress Party. It was a former member of the Progress Party, neo-Nazi activist Anders Behring Breivik, who carried out the attacks in Norway this year that killed dozens of people.

Q: What direction do you envision for the Arab Spring (the wave of uprisings and protests since December 2010 in the Arab world)?

A: I have been covering the Middle East for the past 20 years. What happened in Egypt and Tunisia must be distinguished from Libya. They are different, each with their own idiosyncrasies and consequences.

For example, Libya is the North African country with the highest human development index. Most of its 6.5 million people live in Tripoli and (the northeastern city of) Benghazi. There has always been rivalry between east and west, represented by the country’s two major cities.

Unusually for the oil-rich North African region, the Gaddafi regime managed to use its oil resources to fulfil social goals. Yet in Western eyes, it was a dictatorship.

There are 140 tribes and clans in Libya, 30 of which are politically dominant. Gaddafi took power without bloodshed and managed to unite the country.

After 2003, Gaddafi changed course in order to show the West he was reliable. For example, he received then U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and forged friendly ties with the British government.

He stated publicly that Libya had helped finance French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s electoral campaign, and it must also be remembered that Gaddafi owned 10 percent of the shares of Italian car-maker Fiat.

Q: How do you see the future of Libya and its reconstruction?

A: It’s part of the game for the political marketing of ‘democracy.’ Behind the scenes, it will be European powers like France and Italy, as well as the United States, that will dominate Libya.

Libyans have no concept of democracy as understood in the West. What happened in Libya was a process of recolonisation, recreating a dependency that dates back to the 19th century.

The rebels would not have amounted to anything without the backing of NATO, which used human rights violations as a pretext for intervention. But crimes were committed on both sides of the Libyan conflict.

Moreover, it is those who destroyed Libya who are now going to profit from its reconstruction.

Venezuela’s Chavez Blames United States for Possible “Nuclear War”

Venezuelanalysis
by TAMARA PEARSON

Mérida, November 15th 2011 (Venezuelanalysis.com) – Yesterday Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez blamed the United States government for the danger of a possible “nuclear war” in the Middle East, as a result of “tensions over the last few weeks” between the West and Iran.

“There’s a nuclear war threat…The most guilty [of this risk] is the United States government and its allies such as Israel, who have many nuclear bombs,” Chavez said.

Last week the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said it had “serious concerns” over Iran’s nuclear program and had supposed “credible” information that the country is looking to develop nuclear arms. The IAEA reports to the UN General Assembly and the Security Council. Iran says its nuclear program is purely for medicinal and peaceful purposes.

On Monday the European Union increased its sanctions against Iran but for the time being has rejected military intervention. US president Barack Obama said the world was “united” in opposing Iran’s nuclear program. He said his “preference” was to resolve the issue “diplomatically” but he was “not taking any options off the table”.

Chavez said that Obama was not fulfilling his electoral promises. “If President Obama had started to fulfil 10% or 20% of what he offered to do during his [electoral] campaign, they’d get him.” Chavez explained his point saying that US ex-President John Kennedy was assassinated in 1963 for not being “convenient”.

“Obama prefers to live and to become the anti-Obama to who he was as candidate, offering to put an end to war,” Chavez said referring to US intervention in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“It is worth calling on the world to reflect about where they [the U.S] want to take us, a nuclear war could be the last war,” he said, adding that no countries should use nuclear weapons, as they don’t just affect governments but “also the people… and the radiation that nuclear arms emit damages the planet’s life”.

The U.S invaded Iraq on the pretext of it having nuclear weapons, though none were ever found. According to the Federation of American Scientists, the US has a total of 8,500 nuclear weapons and according to ex US President Jimmy Carter, Israel has 150.

In March, Chavez ended the country’s nuclear energy program after the crisis that followed Japan’s earthquake.

Also see:
US Out to Topple Chavez