No 1562 August 20th 2019
Hong Kong airport thuggery and near murderous violent challenge to China’s workers’ socialist state shows the true counter-revolutionary character of the CIA/MI6 inspired so-called “pro-democracy” protests, just like the Legislative Council rampage before it. Imperialism will never stop seeking to incite chaos and lawlessness to undermine and over-throw working class rule. Chinese leadership defiance of imperialist diktat is a welcome sign of its growing strength and confidence. Firm proletarian dictatorship discipline is needed to defend workers’ states. Hair-rasing bourgeois reports on the coming capitalist Slump collapse shame all revisionism and the fake-”lefts” who still refuse to give a revolutionary perspective on the crisis. Fascist Tory “law and order” posturing is a sign of how desperate the bourgeoisie is becoming in the face of incipient revolutionary turmoil. “Above-the-law” ruling class corruption, decadence and degeneracy are inherent in capitalism, as is nonstop criminal warmongering tyranny. Only socialist revolution can create the conditions for ending poverty give meaning to alienated humanity.
The Chinese ambassador Liu Xiaoming’s firm rebuke to British imperialist meddling in Hong Kong’s internal affairs on 15 August following outbreaks of counter-revolutionary mob violence at Hong Kong airport is an encouraging sign of the Chinese worker’s state’s confidence and determination to prevent the increasingly violent imperialist-inspired petty-bourgeois “pro-democracy” demonstrations from escalating out of control:
Should the situation in Hong Kong deteriorate further into unrest uncontrollable for the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, the Central Government would not sit on its hands and watch. We have enough solutions and enough power within the limits of Basic Law to quell any unrest swiftly. Would the UK allow the Chinese to storm the Palace of Westminster and damage its facilities and get away with it? Would the UK give permission for attacking police officers with lethal weapons or set fire to police stations without any punishment? Would the UK allow so-called “pro-democracy” rioters to occupy airports, disrupt traffic, disturb social order or threaten the safety and peoples’ lives and property? Aren’t all these regarded as crimes in the UK?… We hope this will end in an orderly way. In the meantime we are fully prepared for the worst.
What would have happened if Extinction Rebellion activists had carried through with their plans to disrupt Heathrow airport last June??? - They were threatened with charges of terrorism and warned that they could face life sentences - an outrageous piece of fascist intimidation of the environmentalist campaigners’ attempts to expose the highly destructive consequences capitalist super-exploitation of the world’s natural resources is having on the environment.
There is no moral equivalence between this ruling class bullying and a workers’ socialist state’s 100% correct use of its dictatorial powers to suppress attempts by pro-capitalist mobs to overthrow proletarian rule.
The Ambassador further admonished Britain’s reactionary colonial throwback MPs and ministers - such as the former military intelligence officer Tugendhat who outrageously called for UK citizenship rights to be extended to the Hong Kong Chinese:
I think some of them still regard Hong Kong as part of British Empire and they treat Hong Kong as part of the UK... They are going to have to change their mind-set, put them in the proper position and regard Hong Kong as a part of China, not as a part of the UK.
Tugendhat’s citizenship demand was pure provocation anyway. The British ruling class has spent the last few years whipping up as much anti-foreigner chauvinism as it could. The idea that it would now seriously consider extending citizenship to over 7 million Hong Kong Chinese given that much of the positive support for Brexit was based on anti-immigration sentiment is totally insane!
Liu also demonstrated that the hysterical capitalist press allegation that the Chinese workers’ state was breaking the “one county, two systems” principle enshrined in the Hong Kong Basic Law, as agreed with between the British colonialists and the People’s Republic of China as part of the 1997 Hong Kong handover, was a lie.
Article 14 of the Basic Law allows the Hong Kong government to call for military assistance from Beijing to maintain public order.
Article 18 declares that the Chinese workers’ state’s Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress has the power to declare that the Hong Kong region is in a state of emergency when national unity or security is endangered and may issue an order applying the relevant national (i.e. – Chinese) laws in Hong Kong.
Beijung has every right under the Basic Law to take decisive action against any attempt to destabilise Hong Kong - as in the attacks at the airport and at the council building.
Equally encouraging is this statement from the “pro-democracy” lawmaker, Ronny Tong, a non-official member of the Hong Kong Executive Council who had previously opposed Beijing’s decision to constrain electoral reform in 2014 (which led to an outburst of naïve “pro-democracy” protesting) but is now supporting Carrie Lam’s Hong Kong administration:
I don’t see how we can get to democracy if young people are in the streets waving United States flags and UK flags, and calling for the liberation of Hong Kong. That is going the opposite direction... I keep telling everybody that one country, two systems is the best form of government that Hong Kong can have. I can’t really see any other good alternative. Under the one country, two systems; you have to accept the fact that we are part of China… Do you think that if something happened in the UK that tear gas wouldn’t be used? Come on, be realistic.
There is no “getting to democracy” under capitalism, however. Capitalist “democracy” is just a mask to disguise the reality of the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie. And anyway, Hong Kong will eventually be integrated into China’s socialist system. The 50-year “one country, two systems” agreement is in some ways a transitional period to allow time to prepare for this.
Whilst Beijing’s determination to maintain stability and the rule of law in Hong Kong, and its willingness to stand up to British and US imperialism, are good signs of the growing strength and confidence of the Chinese workers’ state (and taking account of the diplomatic need to maintain the “one country, two systems” agreement), there are questions to ask about the Hong Kong administration’s retreat on the extradition law last June, and the advice given by Beijing, as this gave the protesters a huge propaganda victory and galvanised them to step up their activities.
It has been clear from the start that these protests were not about “unjust” extradition laws, or how Hong Kong is administered, and this needed to have been stated clearly by Beijing at the time. The Union Jack and Stars and Stripes flag waving at the protests gave the game away. The aim is to ferment enough counter-revolutionary sentiment in Hong Kong for it two spread to mainland China itself - there were failed attempts to stir up unrest in mainland Hong Kong.
The proposed extradition law is a sensible move to make it possible to hand criminal suspects over to countries and territories not covered by existing extradition agreements, including mainland China. Why would Hong Kong want to be a haven for criminals such as the Hong Kong man who admitted to killing his pregnant girlfriend while on holiday but could not be charged with murder because it was committed in Taiwan???
Beijing would have stayed within the spirit of the Basic Law had it intervened when the fascist-colonialist essence of the Western inspired so-called “democracy protests” had shown its true colours six weeks ago, when a reactionary rabble using makeshift weapons stormed and ransacked the Legislative Council building and raised the British colonial era flag; or after last week’s violence at the airport broke out; or even as a result of the constant calls for, and clear signs of, imperialist meddling. Firm intervention then, when the violent fascist character of the demonstrations had become clear, would have prevented the escalation to the near lynch mob vigilante violence at the airport.
Beijing rightly argues that the context in which the Hong Kong provocations are taking place are different from that of 1989. The workers’ state is much stronger and more mature, and so they are probably able to find more sophisticated ways of dealing with complex situations whilst adhering to the handover agreement.
Despite being over-cautious in their response so far, they do not seem to be prevaricating in the way that they did 30 years ago, as the feisty statements made by officials and others, build-up of PLA forces on the border in preparation of a possible intervention, and organisation of large counter-demonstrations in Hong Kong and internationally indicate.
They do, however, need to explain in detail what actually happened in 1989, assert strongly that the use of troops (after weeks of indecision) to suppress the bourgeois-anarchist eruption of murderous violence against the security forces around Tiananmen Square was the correct thing to do, and explain why.
This would be a great lesson for the working class in China and internationally as it would counter the endless lying CIA propaganda about supposed “communist massacres”, and illustrate the sort of proletarian dictatorship measures necessary to defend workers’ socialist states.
Its sheepish embarrassed silence on this question is not giving the working class sort of revolutionary leadership it needs, and plays into the hands of imperialism by leaving the outrageous smears to fester.
This reaffirmation of workers’ state power was a shattering blow for Western imperialism’s attempts to overthrow China’s socialist system at a time when entire the communist world was engulfed by the counter-revolutionary consequences of Gorbachevite liquidationist idiocy. China’s reassertion of revolutionary leadership reinforced the foundations on which its vast economic and military strength was built, and as a consequence its ability to lift hundreds of millions of Chinese workers and peasants out of poverty.
President Xi’s reassertion of the need to study the works of Marx and Lenin is a welcome development, but what never gets mentioned is the crucial role proletarian dictatorship plays in defending and maintaining socialist states, as Lenin argued constantly. And yet this is the very point the individualist petty bourgeoisie gets most agitated over; and it is the real target of the West’s counter-revolutionary propaganda onslaught and internal sabotage campaigns against the workers’ states and all attempts to build socialism.
The best starting point for defending the Chinese workers’ state’s interests is to win (through open polemic as practised by the Bolsheviks under Lenin) the working class domestically and internationally over to the correct understanding that proletarian dictatorship is the most vital element in ensuring the survival and ultimate victory of the socialist revolution over capitalism.
But Chinese revisionism continues to try to hide its existence domestically in theory, even as it shows signs of strengthening it in practice as in Xi’s proposals to reassert Communist Party guidance of the economy by introducing and strengthening the role of party committees at major state-owned, private, and foreign companies; the insistence on the absolute loyalty, honesty and reliability of the military; and the implementation of firm measures to stamp down on corruption.
The most significant difference between then and now (but never explained by the revisionist communist party leadership) is the development of the capitalist crisis. The Tiananmen Square violent challenge to the Chinese proletarian dictatorship took place at the peak of the post-second world war inflationary boom. Imperialism was then able to dazzle the petty-bourgeois influenced sections of society, including large sections of the working class (and even, tragically, the revisionist leadership in Moscow), with the shallow glitz and glamour of Western consumerism.
The current provocations are taking place in the context of imminent capitalist collapse, just over a decade after it narrowly escaped catastrophe when a total stock exchange meltdown was narrowly averted by the printing of trillions of dollars of valueless money (quantitative easing), allowing the imperialist powers to push the burden of the crisis onto their rivals and the third world.
Ironically, China’s massive economic development has helped to prop up the world economic system since 2008 by providing a major market for export-dependent economies and buying up trillions of dollars US debt in the form of treasury bonds.
However, this insane period of money printing is coming to the end. Open trade war, leading eventually to shooting war, is breaking out everywhere. The glitz and glamour of the 1980s has long gone. Slump devastation is all capitalism has now got to offer the world.
This is not due to “capitalist greed” as such. Crisis is inherent in the capitalist system. But Chinese revisionism is failing the working class by not giving a lead in warning the working class of the catastrophe to come, and the need for revolution as the only way to bring this permanent crisis to an end.
They go no further than the fake-“lefts” in explaining the crisis. Even panicked right-wing Daily Mail commentators are able to do better in showing how dangerous things are getting:
On the surface, things are looking rosy. The Office for National Statistics last week announced that employment was at 76.1 per cent — the joint highest level since records began. Consumers are still spending. The International Monetary Fund says that the British economy will grow 1.4 per cent next year. But I’m not reassured. In fact, I don’t mind admitting that I’m rather scared. This week the red lights began to flash, a warning that a global recession is on the way.
And not just a normal recession of the kind which comes along every decade or so. I fear that an economic hurricane might be about to descend. Here in Britain and around the world we should prepare ourselves for job losses, failed businesses and busted hopes, and Brexit will have little to do with it.
Before I wrote about politics, I was a financial correspondent, and I know that economic trouble comes hand in hand with political turmoil. Go back to the Great Depression of the 1930s. It led to the rise of fascism in continental Europe and World War II. I don’t believe that history repeats itself, but it’s safe to say all kinds of problems lie ahead.
Let’s take a more detailed look at the warning signs. Last week we learned that the UK economy — the world’s fifth largest national economy — shrank by 0.2 per cent in the three months to June this year. Donald Trump’s threats against President Xi Jinping of China may win him domestic popularity. But it’s plain to see that the world is reverting into a system of rival protectionist blocks, reversing the direction of travel of the last 50 years. Some experts dismissed it as a blip caused by companies reducing stocks which had been expanded ahead of Britain’s original expected departure from the EU on March 29.
Perhaps. But look at Germany — globally the fourth largest economy and the engine room of Europe. Industrial production suffered its worst annual drop in a decade, and Gross Domestic Product (GDP) also fell by 0.1 per cent in the second quarter of 2019. At least Germany is strong enough to weather a storm. Not so Italy, which is a financial catastrophe waiting to happen. The country owes an eye-watering $2.3 trillion in public debt. GDP growth is all but non-existent and business confidence even lower amid political instability. Its fragile governing coalition looks finished, with Matteo Salvini — deputy prime minister and head of the far-Right League party, — pushing for snap elections in the autumn.
Most of all, though, I am unsettled by China, the nation that has driven global economic growth for the last three decades. The terrifying truth is that world growth has been financed on a borrowing splurge for the past decade. According to the Institute of International Finance, world debt rose $3 trillion in the first quarter of 2019, to $246 trillion — that is three times global GDP. Industrial production growth hit a 17-year low in July. At the same time, China’s export-led growth has been slowing fast. In July, it slumped to less than 5 per cent — Beijing needs much higher growth to sustain its investments at home and abroad.
Of course, cyclical downturns of this kind, however unpleasant, are routine occurrences. What makes me truly nervous about this one is mounting global debt, which now stands at a far higher level than it did ahead of the 2008 recession. This is deeply worrying because back in 2008, governments around the world were able to solve — or, at least, ameliorate — the problem by investing huge sums, bailing out banks and re-floating the economy via quantitative easing (in which central banks injected new money into the system).
Yes, it worked then, but if another financial crash of that size happens, we lack the means to do it again. National balance sheets have not recovered. And it’s not just national debt. Average UK household debt is now more than £15,000 — that’s £2,000 more than the alarming level reached in 2008. Consider this terrifying statistic: unsecured debt stood at a £286 billion in 2008. That was unsustainable then, but today it stands at £428 billion. The same trends are seen internationally. Last week, U.S. mortgage debt reached a record level — $9.406 trillion, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York — which, for the first time, surpasses the high of $9.294 trillion from 2008.
On Wednesday something sinister occurred. For the first time in 12 years, yields on long-term bonds fell below those on short-term bonds. For the last half century, this so-called inversion of the yield curve has been an infallible sign that recession is on its way.
The terrifying truth is that world growth has been financed on a borrowing splurge for the past decade. According to the Institute of International Finance, world debt rose $3 trillion in the first quarter of 2019, to $246 trillion — that is three times global GDP. Unimaginable. And, I’m afraid, unsustainable. As all of us know from sometimes unpleasant personal experience, you pay a price if you live beyond your economic means. A day of reckoning is on its way.
The situation is made even more dangerous by looming trade wars. Donald Trump’s threats against President Xi Jinping of China may win him domestic popularity. But it’s plain to see that the world is reverting into a system of rival protectionist blocks, reversing the direction of travel of the last 50 years. The World Trade Organisation — which has done so much to create wealth by freeing up global trade — is almost impotent. Worryingly, that’s the institution which post-Brexit Britain will depend on when we quit the security of the EU single market and customs union. But Brexit, no deal or otherwise, isn’t the reason for what may unfold in the coming year.
Expect a wave of national bankruptcies. One already looks inevitable in Argentina, and certain in Italy, which can’t survive in the Eurozone for much longer. Nor can Greece. And the knock-on effects will be huge. We have become used to relatively benign economic growth stretching over decades. Now the world is entering a new and dangerous environment.
Hatred of Chinese communism amongst Hong Kong Island’s gilded youth and petty-bourgeoisie is driven by the effects this crisis is already having on their more privileged lifestyles. Hong Kong’s position as a major world financial centre makes it highly vulnerable to the depressing economic consequences of the capitalist slowdown generally, and the escalating trade war with US imperialism in particular.
The insecurities and job losses that come with this leads them, by class instinct, to yearn for the past colonial days of their forefathers - when the British had the ability to expand government spending and interventions to appease the working class and prevent the return of the sort of pro-Chinese communism unrest that broke out in 1967. But this is just a hopeless escape from reality. There was no “democracy” under Britain’s 156-year colonial domination, just decades of rule by imperialist diktat through governors appointed by the British monarch.
The British economy is a now basket-case, even before the Slump really hits. Its infrastructure is crumbling, and the ruling class cannot even guarantee food on the tables for 3 million children over the summer holidays let alone seriously challenge China.
The Turkish buyout of British Steel is a crushing humiliation for its colonialist-minded arrogance, as was the loss of Hong Kong in 1997.
British imperialism’s nonstop propaganda war of lies and smears against the Chinese workers’ state is more about heading the domestic working class away from communist revolution than any concerns for the so called “democratic rights” of the Hong Kong Chinese.
It will soon be clear to everyone that capitalism is incapable moving humanity forwards. The only way out of the crisis is along the path begun by the party-led revolutionary Chinese workers and peasants in 1949 towards communism, following on from the titanic lead the October 1917 Bolshevik Revolution gave. The ruling class in Britain, the US and everywhere else are desperate to prevent this understanding from developing within the working class, hence the demonisation of the China.
There are potentially huge dangers within China itself. Beijing’s legitimate use of capitalist market mechanisms to develop its socialist economy has been pushed to extremes. These measures have extended the size of the petty-bourgeois and bourgeois elements, who could potentially be provoked into turning against the communist party as the crisis deepen despite the influence of Chinese nationalism, which has under-pinned a lot of the anti-Western colonialism sentiment around Hong Kong (e.g. patriotic statements from the martial artist Jackie Chan).
Beijing’s lack of understanding of capitalism as a system which is inherently crisis-ridden leads to concerns that they may be unprepared when the it does eventually break in spite of Xi’s strengthening of the role of the party.
The Western bourgeois media has been working 24/7 to stir up as much hatred as possible against the Chinese workers state; fawning over the supposedly “peaceful” protesters whilst down-playing the threatening behaviour and anarchic violence (“violence on both sides”) or blaming it all on the responsive actions of the Hong Kong police. Anti-China protest numbers have been hugely inflated, whilst protests supporting police actions have been downplayed or ignored completely.
Violence has been deliberately and consciously stepped up since the assault on the Legislative Council building, with coordinated attacks on the Hong Kong security forces in a shopping mall, at the Beijing liaison office and outside police stations. The counter-revolutionary mob violence that finally erupted at Hong Kong International Airport followed weeks of provocations.
However, they were obliged to report on the terrifying disturbences at the airport that broke out after nearly two days of disruption and physical intimidation of passengers trying to get to their flights, whilst slyly justifying it through excuse-making and by insinuating that “police provocateurs” had been stirring it all up without any evidence whatsoever:
After ugly scenes at the city’s international airport Tuesday, where protesters beat and detained a man they accused of being an undercover police officer for several hours, the largely leaderless protest movement has been engulfed in a bout of soul searching.
The protests were sparked in early June by a proposed law which would have allowed extradition to mainland China. The bill has been suspended, but protesters now have a much wider host of evolving demands. They targeted the city’s airport in part to bring those demands to an international audience.
Small groups of protesters gathered at the airport again Wednesday, despite a new injunction banning demonstrations there, bearing signs such as “dear tourists, we’re deeply sorry about what happened yesterday. We were desperate and we made imperfect decisions. Please accept our apology.”
A statement emailed to journalists by one group claiming to represent protesters pointed to days of peaceful demonstrations at the airport, saying the violence Tuesday was an unfortunate aberration. “We are frightened, angry and exhausted,” the statement said. “Some of us have become easily agitated and over-reacted last night. For this we feel pained and dispirited and would like to express our most sincere apologies.”
The protest movement started with largely peaceful mass demonstrations attended by hundreds of thousands of people demanding the withdrawal of a since-suspended extradition bill. As the movement’s demands have been ignored, however, violence on both sides has escalated, and distrust has grown. This reached new heights over the weekend, when police dressed as protesters were filmed taking part in arrests, and unsubstantiated accusations circulated claiming they acted as agents provocateurs carrying out the worst of the violence.
It was perhaps inevitable that the heightened paranoia would spill over into something worse, as it did at the airport on Tuesday when the crowd grabbed the 23-year-old Chinese man surnamed Xu, accusing him of being an undercover police officer. At times the violence threatened to spiral out of control, as members of the crowd continued to lash out at the detained man even after he appeared to fall unconscious and was receiving aid from paramedics. Another Chinese man, later confirmed to be a reporter for a Chinese state owned newspaper, was also grabbed and assaulted, before being removed from the airport by medics.
When protesters did attempt to reason with those determined to detain Xu, they were shouted down, with many reduced to tears from fear and frustration. The incident showed clearly the growing rift in the mass movement between those supportive of increasingly violent and radical action, and those who wish to keep protesting peacefully.
It also emphasized a key problem in leaderless protests: When no one is in control, whoever shouts loudest tends to get their way. When airport authorities announced that all departing flights had been cancelled on Tuesday, for the second day in a row, there was jubilation among the thousands of protesters gathered there.
Protesters gathered at Hong Kong airport from July 9. Mass protests on July 12 and 13 led all outgoing flights to be cancelled. On July 13, protesters grabbed three men they accused of acting suspiciously. One, surnamed Xu, was beaten and detained for several hours before being evacuated by paramedics. Another was found with sticks, but released after showing ID. A third man, Fu Guohao, was detained and beaten after it was revealed he was a reporter for China’s state-run Global Times. He was also later released.
In contrast to the protesters who had gathered at the airport throughout the weekend -- when it was seen as a peaceful, safe place to stage a protest away from the teargas and petrol bombs that have become a common sight in street clashes -- the crowd Tuesday was younger and more radical, most wore masks and other protective gear. They were also more paranoid and irrational, quick to anger, lashing out at each other, airport security and reporters as the situation around Xu -- the detained man -- grew uglier and uglier.
Xu was first accosted at around 6:45 p.m., and accused of being an undercover cop. What exactly elicited the crowd’s suspicion remains unclear -- there are multiple contested accounts -- but the situation quickly devolved, with protesters around the airport rushing to the scene. Some punched and kicked Xu as airport security and staff attempted to intervene.
Over the next four hours, those security guards, joined by two or three protesters and a paramedic -- and aided occasionally by foreign journalists -- attempted to reason with the crowd to let Xu go as his situation worsened. The area in which he was initially held was intensely hot and stuffy, and surrounded by an agitated crowd, he collapsed. A paramedic who arrived gave him oxygen but Xu drifted in and out of consciousness as his protectors negotiated with the crowd to move him to the main terminal. And that’s where he remained -- after being moved, while unconscious on a luggage trolley -- for over an hour.
Some protesters who could not see him shared photos of his bruised face that had been posted online, laughing at his predicament. No hard evidence was provided for him definitely being a cop other than a Google search which came up with a police officer in Shenzhen with a name that matched the one protesters found on his personal ID.
While the consensus in the terminal was to hold him -- to what end, no one was clear -- the debate online was far more vigorous. Many pointed to the terrible optics of preventing paramedics evacuating the casualty, highlighting tweets from reporters in the airport as examples of how the incident was being received overseas. Others took an even more extreme stance to those on the ground, with posts suggesting suspected infiltrators should be branded in some way so they could be spotted in future.
“Hong Kong people are in a very dangerous moment, some things in front of you may look crazy but we have no choice,” Max, a 35-year-old protester, told CNN at the airport. “It’s just like war, we’re fighting for our future.” A female protester -- who did not give a name -- said through tears after an attempt to free Xu was shouted down that “this is all so stupid and crazy. This is a disaster.”
The arrival of the five police vans at around 10:45 p.m., local time, allowed for a window in which Xu could be evacuated. One man, a 60-year-old security guard who had been by Xu’s side throughout the confrontation, attempting to prevent him being hurt further, broke down after he got on the ambulance, overcome by relief and emotion. Protesters then clashed with police, attacking their vehicles and ramming officers with luggage trolleys. One police officer was isolated and attacked by the crowd, and drew his side arm, pointing it at the protesters before other cops reached him.
Almost immediately more chaos broke out inside when another man was accused of acting suspiciously. He eventually turned out to be a reporter for the nationalist state-run Chinese tabloid Global Times, and was assaulted and bound to a luggage trolley before paramedics managed to evacuate him as well.
In many ways, Tuesday’s violence was similar to the July 1 storming of the city’s legislative council. Then too, moderate voices attempted to intervene but were drowned out by an angry crowd, which eventually broke in and vandalized the building, spraying slogans inside the main chamber and erecting a colonial era flag. Following that incident, which was highly publicized in Chinese state media, many in the movement worried they would lose moderates. But support proved resilient, with many pointing out there were no injuries. Critics also perhaps underestimated the disdain with which many Hong Kongers viewed the legislature and their lack of sympathy for a symbol of the local government being attacked.
Tuesday’s incident may prove different. Despite the claims of some protesters, Xu has not been confirmed to be a member of the security forces, and even if he was, he was one man against several thousand. His treatment was greeted by shock and disgust by many online, even among supporters of the movement. For those attempting to portray the Hong Kong protesters as a baying mob of radicals, the pictures from Tuesday were a gift. With calm largely restored to the airport and the city in something of a lull Thursday, the protest movement is discussing how to rein its worst impulses in, while retaining the flexibility and inventiveness of its leaderless roots…
… Pro-democracy protests have traditionally attracted a broad cross-section of Hong Kong society. Many people have stressed that it is possible to be both supportive of the current protest movement and against the actions of a violent minority. A key test of this support will likely come on Sunday. The Civil and Human Rights Front, which organized two mass anti-government rallies in June it claims attracted up to two million participants, has called for a march, the slogan for which is “Peaceful, Rational, and Non-Violent Protesters Stand Out.”
Whether these efforts are successful remains to be seen. Previous efforts to encourage calm have been lost in the tear gas and forceful tactics used by police, many protesters are also angry and frustrated that the government did not respond to mass peaceful rallies, and believe violence is the only way to increase the pressure.
That anger and frustration has led to a nihilistic, bitter streak among some, mostly younger protesters. That came to the fore on Tuesday, exemplified in the responses of some protesters to concern for Xu’s safety -- he was lolling unconscious on a trolley at the time even as they claimed he was “faking it.” What if he dies? “Who cares,” said one protester, who did not give a name in the chaos. What do you think will happen if he really is a cop and he dies because you didn’t let medics save him? “So they shutdown Hong Kong? Good! We are ready for it, we want it!”
As the final comments here (and in the “martyrdom” comment in the press cutting below) show, this “nihilistic, bitter streak” is itching for a violent show down, which echoes precisely the fascist character of the bloodthirsty Tiananmen Square unrest 30 years ago:
The bourgeois-anarchist influence from Western culture on certain reactionary student circles in Peking was literally asking for a confrontation eventually with China’s firm communist path.
Just before the weekend’s conflict, Louise Something of the Sunday Times revealed in a BBC broadcast that the protest leaders on Tiananmen Square were all determined to continue matters to an all-out fight. Without bloodshed, she explained, these student circles felt that their protests would be seen as a failure, would not be remembered, would create no martyrs, and would provide no symbols to build on for the future.
Stripped of their hysteria, the capitalist press reports spewing forth furiously to try to stir maximum hatred against the Chinese People’s Republic, never the less let slip enough of the truth to show that the anarchist provocations against the workers’ state authorities had reached intolerable levels, going beyond the ritual stripping and humiliation of soldiers trying non-violently to impose the martial law decrees, to murderous assaults on military vehicles and individual militiamen in a conscious escalation of violence to which the army finally had to respond. (See EPSR/ILWP book, vol 16, on Tiananmen “massacre” lies).
Things have not got to this stage in Hong Kong yet, but Tuesday’s events – the brutal treatment of Xu, the savage beating of a police officer who would have been killed had he not been rescued by his comrades, the hostage-taking of a Global Times reporter, etc. – threatened to escalate uncontrollably, as the article says, begging the question why the People’s Liberation Army did not step in to take firm control of the situation.
Interestingly, the cold-blooded violent assaults caused some disquiet amongst some of the more naïve demonstrators displaying banners the next day apologising for the violence. Also, comments such as “Hong Kong can’t be defeated” and “we are fighting to our last breath”, talks about protests “dissipating” and “last ditch attempts”, and expressions of foreboding and despondency suggest that defeatism and demoralisation is setting in. The protests have dissipated somewhat for the time being, although they were never anywhere near as big as was claimed.
The airport incidents show the real fascist character of this movement once again, and a rally at Chater Garden the following Friday openly calling for US and UK intervention underlines it. It even included a group of US flag waving demonstrators standing around a sound system playing the Star-Spangled Banner!!!
Where did the money come from to finance all the slick posters and banners that suddenly popped up over the weekend???
As befits the pattern of a CIA-inspired “colour revolution”(which coincides with similar co-ordinated street provocations in Zimbabwe, Russia and Sudan), a “martyr” figure has already been created, in this case “a weeping Madonna”, following deliberate rumour-mongering, gleefully reported as fact by initial capitalist press reports, that a young woman had lost her vision after she had been shot in the eye – a conscious exaggeration of which later changed to “partially blinded”, and then “has an eye injury”.
Claims that the Hong Kong police inflicted the injury are unproven. The “on-the-ground” reporter witness is not able to say where the shot came from or who fired it. And online statements calling for witnesses not to hand over any evidence to law enforcement agencies suggests that this is just a huge smelly stunt designed to deliberately undermine confidence in the police force:
Thousands of protesters soon swarmed Hong Kong’s international airport, chanting: “An eye for an eye!” Many wore bloodied bandages over their right eyes or held their hands over their faces as a symbol of resistance. One of the world’s busiest travel hubs was forced to shut down for two days and protesters took out their anger on two men believed to be spies, tying them up and abusing them.
Today, her image is on posters, pamphlets and placards, with blood trickling down her cheek like the visage of a weeping Madonna.
The young woman who was shot by Hong Kong police in the eye with what appeared to be bean bag round quickly becoming the latest image of tremendous anger with police and their tactics. Calls for a mass rally at the airport this afternoon.
Richard Scotford, a journalist who was metres away from the victim at the time, said the shot was fired into a group of people on the street clearly comprised of journalists and first-aid volunteers in high-vis vests.
“This white thing was also what I saw whizz past my face just five minutes before the girl was shot,” he posted on his Facebook page, referring to an image of the “non-lethal” beanbag round found in her goggles.
For some protesters, the image of one of their own disfigured and partially blinded has fed calls for more radical measures, including the idea that Hong Kong should be brought to a point of chaos in order to be rebuilt.
“So many people have been hurt and bled, yet we still talk about reason, peace and non-violence,” one user wrote in response to the statement from the victim’s sister. “Dying together is what we need. Let’s take Hong Kong back to zero and those who truly love it will remain.”
Her case has also become a flashpoint for mistrust of the police and competing narratives by pro-Beijing media. China’s state-run broadcaster CCTV has alleged the woman was not shot with a police beanbag round but a ball bearing fired by a fellow protester.
The police admitted to using beanbag rounds but said they could not definitively say if she had been shot by an officer. They said they had started an investigation into the case, but a statement online allegedly from the woman’s friend called on protesters not to submit videos or evidence to law enforcement.
The “liberal” Guardian does not waste any ink in pointing out that the “an eye for an eye” phrase chanted by protesters at the airport before mob violence broke out is a violent Old Testament vengeance slogan, later superseded by Christian pacifist notions of “turning the other cheek” – which would have been more appropriate if these were merely “peaceful protestors”!
No mention here either of the ubiquitous targeting by demonstrators of police and state officials eyes with green laser pointers that could potentially contain enough infrared light to damage the retina.
Compare this isolated incident, and the media frenzy around it, with the barely reported fascist brutality the capitalist French police have deliberately inflicted on the gilets jaunes protestors to intimidate the working class: over 140 serious injuries (including at least 20 who have lost an eye and 5 partially or completely severed hands) resulting from the use of injury-causing weaponry such as sting-ball grenades that deliver an explosion of rubber balls and shrapnel on detonation. Where are the international calls for intervention and demands for Macron to step down here???
Or for the overthrow of the Indonesian government following violent racist mob intimidation over the weekend, accompanied by a vicious police attack in which officers shot tear gas canisters into student accommodation and arrested 43 West Papuans after an Indonesian flag was alleged to have been thrown into a sewer, and a beating for two Indonesians who tried to bring food to the detained victims???
There won’t be any, of course, because this is class war. The Chinese workers’ state has every right to use whatever dictatorship measures it deems necessary to maintain law and order and defend its revolutionary socialist gains from capitalist subversion.
Capitalist “law and order” moves, on the other hand, are in the main about strengthening the bourgeois dictatorship’s state forces of repression in preparation for the revolutionary turmoil it senses is coming, and a means of blaming others for the crisis. This is the real agenda of Johnson’s macho “fight against crime” posturing and displays of “toughness”. It is a sick fascist joke; and a desperate and panicked response to intensifying capitalist disintegration and coming collapse into the greatest Slump disaster ever.
Violent crime is on the increase. However, no-one seriously expects to see any meaningful reductions as a consequence of tougher sentencing, increased prison terms, the extension of police stop-and-search powers, etc. The working class has been listening to such fascist grandstanding for decades, from Thatcher’s pledges to “strengthen the forces of law and order” to Blair’s “tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime” soundbite gimmicks, and yet knife crime is prevalent and on the increase in many inner-city communities; and violence linked to drugs criminality, which never went away, is now extending into middle class areas via “county lines” drug trafficking gangs.
Much of this latest bout of law-and-order strutting is hysterical fear-mongering anyway, as it always has been, designed to whip up a scapegoating atmosphere that points the finger of responsibility for all the rottenness of life in 21st century capitalist society on feckless individuals and low-level criminal elements rather than on the disintegration and coming collapse and failure of capitalism itself.
Humanity has developed beyond capitalism’s limits. Capitalism has advanced society’s technological and organisational abilities and its productive forces to the point where it is possible to provide a comfortable existence for everyone on the planet if organised correctly, but the inherent contradictions within its class divided, exploitative, profit-driven system means that it is incapable of ever doing so.
Misery and alienation has persisted throughout capitalism’s history because its system is inherently class-based, and it will only get worse as capitalism’s disintegration restricts humanity’s potential to the point at which life becomes intolerable for the majority.
At the best of times, its loser-winner culture (now personified by billionaire Trump’s Nazi boastfulness and arrogance, and his bullying “loser” jibes at rivals) leads to feelings of meaninglessness, powerlessness and despair amongst the many that lose out, and it is the total alienation felt by some that gives criminality its attractiveness.
And with the current wave of knife crime in parts of Britain’s inner cities, it is the harshness of life in some of the toughest estates that leads fearful teens to carry knives for their own protection.
How all this frustration and anger manifests itself depends on the specific cultural background circumstance of individuals and communities.
Racist double oppression faced by the black and Asian working class and migrant communities compounds feelings of alienation.
The deep sense of alienation and disaffection within traveller communities following an entire modern history of marginalisation and racist discrimination (still seen as “acceptable”) has led to lifestyles that necessitate black market criminality for many just to survive, and an understandable deep-seated suspicion of “outsiders”.
Jihadism is another way in which this alienation and anger has expressed itself. It has been an attraction for disaffected Muslim youths whose family backgrounds and cultural ties have led them to sympathise emotionally with the growing third world revolt against imperialist warmongering aggression and super-exploitation.
Alienation also draws the more lumpen sections of the proletariat to the more openly Nazi anti-Muslim/anti-immigrant/anti-traveller thuggery of the likes of the English Defence League and the Football Lads Alliance – who are deliberately stirred up by capitalism as a means of keeping chauvinist divisiveness on the boil, and to intimidate the working class, and are of the same character as the Hong Kong airport thugs.
The ruling class has tried to hide the reality of the social and economic breakdown context of the rise of support for Jihadism amongst sections of the Muslim communities. Its spying and censorship anti-terrorism Prevent programme for schools, colleges and other public institutions has attempted to foster the cartoonish notion that Muslim youths have somehow been “brainwashed” online by hypnotic Svengali-like figures who prey on the vulnerable. But it has failed and is facing a backlash from scapegoated Muslim communities.
Whilst the internet is used to recruit young people, sections of the bourgeois state forces now feel compelled warn the ruling class openly that people are not radicalised by ideas disseminated online or elsewhere, but by poverty and feelings of alienation, which compels them to look to others for leadership and a sense of purpose:
Britain’s most senior counter-terrorism officer has said the police and security services are no longer enough to win the fight against violent extremism, and the UK must instead improve community cohesion, social mobility and education.
In his first major interview since taking up his post last year, the Metropolitan police assistant commissioner Neil Basu told the Guardian that up to 80% of those who wanted to attack the UK were British-born or raised, which strongly indicated domestic social issues were among the root causes.
Grievances held by people who were “malleable” to terrorist recruitment were highly dangerous, he said, calling for sociologists and criminologists to take a leading role in helping police tackle the problem.
Basu, who is highly regarded in Whitehall, is seen as a potential next head of the Met. His comments are a significant break in tone, if not strategy, about how to combat terrorism and prevent it from becoming a multigenerational struggle that damages the UK’s social fabric.
Basu said Prevent, which he sees as the most important plank of Britain’s counter-terrorism strategy, had been “badly handled”, but its work was vital and had to become more transparent and community led.
He also said extreme right-wing terrorism was rising, with an increase in nationalism since the Brexit vote potentially fuelling violence.
Giving a personal view on the best ways to reduce terrorism, Basu said: “Policies that go towards more social inclusion, more social mobility and more education are much more likely to drive down violence … than all the policing and state security apparatus put together. It is much more likely to have a positive effect on society.
“The prescription for me is around social inclusion – it’s social mobility, it’s education, it’s opportunity.”
Basu said counter-terrorism operations increased by 50% from 2015 to 2017 and have since remained at a high level. The terror threat is still severe despite Isis losing territory in Iraq and Syria.
Both Islamist and extreme rightwing terrorists have continued to recruit Britons, despite efforts to thwart them. “Nothing I am saying remotely excuses these heinous acts of criminal violence,” Basu said. “But the deeper causes need examining. My teams are world class at stopping attacks and locking terrorists up. But we need to stop the flow of recruits into terrorism.
“Don’t forget that 70%-80% of the people we arrest, disrupt or commit an attack here, are born and raised here. Born or at least raised here. That has got to tell us something about our society – that we have got to look at why they would be prepared to do that. I want good academics, good sociologists, good criminologists … to be telling us exactly why that is.”
Basu accepted many people went through negative experiences without ever dreaming of committing violence, and some terrorists came from middle-class backgrounds and seemingly wanted for nothing.
But he said some people were more “malleable” than others to terrorist recruitment and there were common themes. “It might be everything from high anxiety, to lack of confidence, lack of education, things that may have happened to them when they are young, bullying, racism, bigotry, lack of opportunity, early experiences with law enforcement even, domestic violence,” he said.
The counter-terrorism network Basu heads had been stretched by the high volume of terrorist activity from Islamists. On top of this and rightwing extremism, he said there was a growing threat from states such as Russia, following the Salisbury novichok poisonings.
Basu said there was no one path that led to terrorism and a list of factors could result in violence if not checked at some point. “All of those things will be as relevant to a terrorist cause as they will be to other people of violence in other crime types,” he said.
Policies were up to the government, he said, but they must tackle “education, access to health, not disproportionate outcomes in criminal justice, feeling like you’ve got an opportunity to get on in life”.
Basu added: “These are wider societal problems. They are not paying more police and more security services to stop more terrorist attacks. That’s not the cure for this. Like every other aspect of law enforcement, we [counter-terrorism policing] are a suppression tool for a problem. We are dealing with the symptom and we do need to deal with the root causes of it.”
This is also a sign of desperation in the face of growing anger and incipient revolutionary turmoil that can only eventually turn to Leninist materialist philosophy for leadership because only Leninism can explain the crisis and arm the working class with the revolutionary theory necessary overthrow capitalism and start to build a socialist society in which all this competitive divisiveness is eventually replaced by cooperative social relations.
The root cause of all the anger and hostility that drives someone to sympathise with or join third world insurgency movements like ISIS, or to criminal gang culture, lies in the basic structure of capitalist society which depends on there being winners and losers.
Underachievement is endemic in British schools and colleges because the great mass of school-leavers will only ever expect to obtain low grade jobs on low pay at best. Dumbed-down capitalist consumer culture reflects this, seeped as it is in philistinism and superficiality; and so what aspirations young people have are stifled, leading to a frustrated, discontented and embittered working class (and large sections of the increasingly proletarianised middle class).
The capitalist system is built on corruption, intimidation and extortion. Petty crime and street thuggery merely reflects dominant ruling class culture, which is steeped in criminality, drug misuse and degeneracy of all kinds. And they get away with it every time, apart from the odd scapegoated “bad apple” given a slap on the wrist to give the impression that “things are different now” (and later richly rewarded behind the scenes for “taking one for the team”).
Apart from a minor setback in his ambition to become prime minister, Gove’s recent admittance of his cocaine snorting past did not prevent him from taking a ministerial position in Johnson’s government, despite previously being responsible for law and order as Lord Chancellor and Justice Secretary in Cameron’s administration.
Johnson’s (and Hunt, Cameron and Osborne’s) university days' membership of the elitist Oxford Bullingdon Club, notorious for bullying and intimidation, criminal destruction of public property, “prole bashing”, whoring and bizarre initiation ceremonies, is dismissed as “a stupid thing we all do when we are young” but in reality illustrates the essence of big bourgeois culture and how it maintains its class rule.
The gross excesses of assorted celebrities may be exposed and ridiculed by the reactionary capitalist to sell papers (and Prince Harry’s mixed-race wife Meghan Markle’s celebrity indulgences are only highlighted for racist “tainting the royal bloodline” purposes), but the real decadence, gross degeneracy and criminality of the ruling class barely gets a mention, let alone any serious investigative exposure. See the background to the recent convenient suicide of the extremely well-connected (presidents, royals, billionaires, etc.) depraved sexual deviant Epstein as an example:
Forget how he died, the real mystery is how Jeffrey Epstein lived - committing acts that would get a normal person jailed, all while next to the world’s most-watched men. How did he create a protective bubble around himself?
Take, for example, Epstein’s financial career, the foundation for so much of his other criminal activity. While doubts about his methods for obtaining wealth for his clients had been circulating on Wall Street for years, throughout that time he had been described, at face value, as a financier and a billionaire. In the past several months we have discovered that he likely was no billionaire, and no one is sure whether he ever did conduct any legitimate business activities, or even where any of his money came from. Yet, there was definitely big money involved, as is evidenced by superficially inexplicable multi-million dollar transactions percolating through a network of offshore accounts, and the very real luxury assets that he had accumulated. But despite the United States’ reputation for employing the world’s most aggressive financial crimes agents, ready go well outside their borders, Epstein was never charged or even thoroughly investigated, while the world’s most reputable banks were happy to continue doing business with him until the past few months.
More glaring is the scope of his unpunished sex crimes. This was not a relatively common-or-garden abuser like Harvey Weinstein, extracting sexual favours from adult women he had power over in a string of hotel room encounters. Instead, Epstein was apparently the operator of an international sex ring, involving hundreds of underage “slaves” picked off from the school and the mall, transported across international borders, with the knowledge of each other, and what must have been a great multitude of bystanders. Yet, Epstein was caught likely decades after he started, handed a notoriously lenient punishment, and reportedly allowed to continue his lifestyle while swatting away lawsuits.
Throughout all this, the convicted sex offender seems to have been treated with an odd laissez-faire lenience by the media, which is so fascinated now, but with the exception of several dogged local journalists, didn’t seem bothered enough to get to the bottom of who Epstein really was. Even if Epstein hadn’t been a larger-than-life character, a close associate of formerly the most powerful man in the world, and his wife vying to fill the same position, not to mention a friend of Prince Andrew and Woody Allen, should have been a treasure trove for an ambitious investigator. Yes, some of the allegations may have been difficult to prove, and journalists can’t be expected to sneak into the cargo hold of the Lolita Express, but at least since 2005 there has been solid ground on which to build a story. In a world where a single #MeToo article can destroy a career, Epstein was indulged like a disgraced Gatsby, holding court for New York Times journalists and boasting about his links to Mohammed bin Salman.
The greatest temptation for many now is to write this off as a conspiracy. That Epstein was a protected man due to his connection to the Clintons, that he was a front and a fixer for the CIA or Mossad, that anyone who got in his way, from investigators and prosecutors to journalists, was paid or warned off, perhaps blackmailed… But to me, a possibly more terrifying discovery is that there was no conspiracy, as such. That simply through the power granted by his wealth and connection multiplied by the ability to lead an international lifestyle simply put Epstein outside the reach of the normal legal and societal constraints. We already assume that plutocrats, the political elite, and celebrities live by different rules. But we are not talking about normal rich people indulgences: the yachts, butlers, and London basement pools. This is Bond villain-level stuff. A private island with a secret temple. Plans to “seed” DNA into scores of women. Engaging top scientists for transhumanist studies to create a new super race...
...We can tell ourselves that Jeffrey Epstein was a one-off, a uniquely cunning and depraved psychopath with the right connections. But it seems equally plausible that this opulent, global and lawless netherworld is capable of hiding other depraved transgressors, less publicity-hungry, and more dangerous still in their intentions. The job is to try and stop them now before they die in a New York jail cell, leaving behind a trail of victims. But who has the guts for it?
But Epstein’s death in mysterious circumstances a day after the opening of court documents linking him to very powerful people in his trial for alleged sex trafficking is suspicious, depite being confirmed by a coroner as a suicide. A conspiracy to shut down the investigations cannot be ruled out. Why wasn’t he on suicide watch following an apparent suicide attempt two weeks earlier, for example?
It isn’t simply about a few depraved transgressors: a sense of entitlement and deserved privilege pervades the entire ruling class who really do see themselves as above the law. And they are.
Bourgeois law and order is solely aimed at keeping the lower orders in their place whilst simultaneously allowing the ruling class to extort as much ‘surplus value’ as they can from the working class. They will use as much deception and intimidation against workers as is necessary (immiserating workers in the process) to allow them to continue with their decadent lifestyles without fear of meaningful legal sanction.
It comes as no surprise that Epstein boasts of links to the Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman. The Saudi princes are coked-up to their eyeballs. Their wild drug and prostitute parties are as far removed as possible from the harsh Islam codes they impose through threats of torture and death on their “subjects”.
Any dogged journalist or campaigner who gets close to exposing any of this, or their brutal, bloody destruction of Yemen alongside British imperialism, risks the fate of the journalist Khashoggi, gruesomely dismembered and murdered in a Saudi embassy in Turkey late last year and now barely mentioned in the bourgeois press.
WikiLeaks journalist Assange’s own revenge incarceration for exposing Nazi-imperialist warmongering criminality in Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, etc. following seven years of virtual imprisonment in the Ecuadorian Embassy is little short of a death sentence, and is criminal in itself:
Julian Assange’s mother has accused the US and UK governments of “slowly, cruelly and unlawfully” killing the WikiLeaks co-founder because he revealed war crimes and corruption. “My son Julian Assange is being slowly, cruelly & unlawfully assassinated by the US and UK Governments, for multi-award winning journalism revealing war crimes & corruption!” she wrote.
She also tweeted a link to a report from a United Nations expert who called for a stop to the “collective persecution” of the journalist. UN Special Rapporteur on torture: “In 20 years…I have never seen a group of democratic States ganging up to deliberately isolate, demonise and abuse a single individual for such a long time and with so little regard for human dignity and the rule of law.”
Assange is currently incarcerated in Belmarsh Prison after being arrested at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London in April. His visitors have repeatedly raised concerns about his health. As recently as last Wednesday, journalist John Pilger said his condition was “deteriorating” and that he was being treated “worse than a murderer.”
The 48-year-old is facing extradition to the United States, where he is charged with possession and dissemination of classified information. If found guilty, he could receive up to 175 years in prison. The US has sought to get its hands on Assange for nearly a decade after WikiLeaks published the leaked ‘Collateral Murder’ video, which shows US military attacking journalists and civilians in Iraq in July 2007.
Imperialism can and will continue get away with such brutality regardless of whether or not odd individual cases are overturned through popular pressure, either as a consequence of imperialist defeats or through fear that such injustices are teaching the working class too many revolutionary lessons. Only the victory of party-led revolutionary communist movements worldwide and the establishment of firm proletarian dictatorships in every country can stop all the horrors and injustices inherent in the capitalist system.
Parents of troubled teenagers struggling to understand why criminal influences and bullying behaviour are rife in their communities and are attracting their kids would be right to point the finger of blame towards to the examples set by the criminal violence and brutality routinely imposed on the world by the imperialist ruling class.
See as an example the civil war turmoil inflicted on Libya as a consequence of the Nazi-blitzkrieg onslaught to topple Gaddafi’s anti-imperialist bourgeois nationalist regime in 2011 by Obama and Clinton’s US imperialist leadership alongside the French and British ruling class:
An air war in Libya is intensifying as rival forces in the divided country try to break a military stalemate, heightening significantly the risk of civilian casualties.
At least 45 people were killed and dozens wounded in an airstrike last Sunday that targeted a town hall meeting in south-western Libya. The forces of Khalifa Haftar, the 75-year-old military strongman who controls much of the east of the country, have been blamed. Witnesses said the attack on a residential district of Qalaa in the town of Murzuq came from a drone. The death toll, which included many children, represents one of the largest single losses of civilian life since the civil war began in 2011 following the fall of the veteran dictator Muammar Gaddafi.
In June, more than 50 people were killed when an airstrike demolished much of a migrant detention centre on the outskirts of Tripoli. Haftar’s forces were also blamed for that attack. The new strike comes almost exactly four months after the former general launched his self-styled Libyan National Army against Tripoli, the seat of the rival Government of National Accord (GNA). Haftar’s offensive has so far led to more than a thousand civilian deaths and derailed diplomatic efforts to reconcile the two main armed political factions in Libya.
After rapid early gains, Haftar’s forces have stalled as resistance by a coalition of militias fighting for the GNA has hardened. This has led to an increasing deployment of air power to gain tactical advantage in what has become a stalemate and to avoid further military casualties, experts say. The shift has been fuelled by the provision of drones and other weapons systems by regional and international powers backing both factions.
“The air war will intensify, as long as international reaction is pretty non-existent. The conclusion is that [actors] can get away with this, and they can do it again, even in more densely populated areas. These are thresholds that keep getting crossed,” said Jalel Harchaoui, an expert at the Clingendael Institute in The Hague.
Haftar is supported by Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, while the GNA, recognised by the UN as the legitimate government of Libya, is backed by Turkey and Qatar. In June, Antonio Guterres, the UN secretary general, called for the UN arms embargo in place since 2011 to be respected...
...The attack on Murzuq on 4 August is thought by experts to have involved a Chinese-made armed drone probably flown from one of the airbases built by the UAE in Libya. The Wing Loong drones were first deployed in the east of the country in 2016.
Arnaud Delalande, an expert in Libyan military aviation and its role in the conflict, said small fleets maintained by both sides had been depleted by enemy fire, accidents and mechanical failures in the course of recent fighting. Though the LNA already had drones deployed, operated by the UAE, the GNA obtained its unmanned aircraft from Turkey. “Both sides needed other options and drones were the best choice,” Delalande said.
Some other airstrikes in recent weeks have been made by what appear to be more modern F-16 or Mirage fighters. Other precision strikes have taken place at night. This suggests the involvement of either Egypt or Emirati planes and pilots, analysts say.
The victims in Murzuq last Sunday were from the Tebu tribe, which has opposed the expansion of Haftar’s influence into south-western Libya and has fought with local Arab tribes allied with the LNA. The target was a government building at which more than 200 local dignitaries were gathered to resolve local disputes.
Guests from a wedding which had been held in the building earlier in the day were also killed when they attempted to help casualties and were hit by a second strike, Dr Ahmed Adey, a doctor in the town who treated some of the injured people, told the Guardian. Many casualties struggled to get treatment.
“There’s only one hospital with no resources in the town, and it’s dangerous for the Tebus to travel to get treatment because of their issues with the tribal militias that are supported by Haftar,” Ismail Bazinga, a medical student from Murzuq who has assisted in the care of casualties, told the Guardian on the phone.
There are reports of casualties from the bombing dying after being stopped at checkpoints manned by fighters from other communities as relatives tried to take them to coastal cities for medical help. With its 50,000 inhabitants, mostly from the Tebu ethnic group, and its ancient fortress, the oasis town is located almost 900km (550 miles) by road south of Tripoli. A spokesperson of the LNA said in a video on Facebook that the airstrikes had targeted militias from neighbouring Chad.
In a statement the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) said it was extremely concerned by reports of violence in Murzuq, including the airstrikes. “Indiscriminate attacks constitute a blatant violation of international humanitarian and human rights law and may amount to war crimes,” a statement said.
And then there’s the non-stop bullying, harassment and intimidation of the Palestinian nation by the Nazi-Zionist occupiers of their homeland:
Millions of Muslims around the world will be celebrating Eid Al Adha as the holiday began on Sunday, August 11 and is set to last until Thursday. Hundreds of Palestinian Muslims attempted to gather for prayer to mark the Muslim festival at the al Aqsa compound in East Jerusalem on Sunday. However, clashes broke out between them and the Israeli security forces on Sunday who ushered the groups away while firing tear gas.
Video footage shows the Force engaging in scuffles with the worshipers as they attempt to clear the square. While pushing and ushering worshipers away stun grenades can be seen being thrown towards the worshipers in the holy site.
Tensions appeared to be raised between Israelis and Palestinians as Muslim and Jewish holidays conceded on Sunday. This resulted in conflict over admittance rights to places holy worship areas. Unverified images posted on social media showed injuries in the wake of the confrontation from the scene as police engaged with worshipers.
The clashes at Temple Mount, a site worshipped by both Muslims and Jews, happened after some 80,000 Muslims gathered on the area to celebrate Eid al-Adha, a key holy day of Islam. At the same time, large crowds of Jewish worshipers gathered at the entrance as they wanted to mark the second day of Tisha Be’av holy day. To prevent further escalation and altercation Jewish worshipers were barred from entering by police. This decision was hotly criticised by Jewish groups.
The Palestinian Red Crescent reported that 61 people were injured in the clashes while 15 of them were taken to local hospitals. Police said that four officers sustained minor injuries. Access to the Temple Mount was later granted to some Jewish worshipers.
Back to the top