Saudi Arabia’s ‘Counter-Terrorism’ Initiative in Syria

December 18, 2015 at 4:11 PM

Eric Draitser provides his commentary (Dec. 16, 2015) regarding the announcement by Saudi Arabia of a new counter-terrorism coalition of Sunni Muslim countries. Draitser notes the hypocrisy of the foremost sponsor of global terrorism claiming to fight terrorism. He explains the domestic and international political motivations behind Riyadh’s move, and why it matters to the future of the war in Syria.

Venezuela: A Revolution That Will Not Die

December 18, 2015 at 4:08 PM

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This is not a revolution that can be undone with one election, nor can it be simply legislated out of existence.

Much has been written about the outcome of Venezuela’s Dec. 6 legislative elections, with many of the analyses justifiably focusing on the shortcomings of the Socialist Party (PSUV) and the difficulty of the current state of affairs in the country. Indeed, even before the political body was cold, post-mortem examinations abounded in the corporate and alternative media, with dissections of seemingly every aspect of the Bolivarian Republic’s political, economic, and social life.

But what these journalists and political analysts often overlook is the determination of the core of the Bolivarian Revolution, the radical base that is committed to preserving what Hugo Chavez began building more than 17 years ago. This is not a revolution that can be undone with one election, nor can it be simply legislated out of existence. This Revolution will not, as some cynics have argued, be brought down by the weight of its own contradictions, or by internal rot and corruption, or by external forces such as assassinations and economic destabilization.

Instead, the Revolution will survive. It will be resurgent. It will be reborn thanks to the commitment of millions of dedicated Chavistas.

While one may take this as an article of faith, it is instead a conclusion born of experience in Venezuela, one that is informed by dozens of conversations with activists and organizers whose words of love and dedication to the revolution are matched only by their actions to build it.

In building the Revolution, these men, women, and children are pledged to defend it.

The Revolution’s Flesh Wounds

The election results, and the social problems from which they sprang, are undeniably a comment on the level of discontent that many Venezuelans feel, both toward their government and the general state of affairs in the country. To read the corporate media, one would think this is the end for the Bolivarian Revolution, that the defeat at the polls is a repudiation of the entire program of the PSUV and its allied political parties. But such a reading belies the reality and resilience of the revolutionary process, one that has seen and overcome great challenges before.

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US and Russia: Different Objectives, Different Strategies in Syria

December 16, 2015 at 11:12 AM

Eric Draitser of stopimperialism.org provides his commentary (Dec. 15, 2015) on the talks between the US and Russia over Syria and other issues. He notes that the US objective of regime change has failed, and now the Obama administration is looking for a way out, while Russia is looking to jump-start a political process that will allow it to achieve its counter-terrorism objectives and end its military involvement in Syria. These and related issues in this short commentary.

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US-Russia Talks on Syria; Shanghai Cooperation Organization Meets in Zhengzhou

December 15, 2015 at 4:42 PM

Eric Draitser of http://StopImperialism.org appears on CPR News (Dec. 15, 2015) to discuss the latest talks between US Secretary of State John Kerry, and Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov and President Putin. Draitser explains that there is some overlap in terms of interests, but that sharp divides persist, especially on the issue of Assad’s status and the nature of the opposition to be included in the political process. He also discusses the latest SCO summit and what the development of the SCO means for the development of China and the Eurasian landmass generally.

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Assessing Venezuela’s Elections: The Good, the Bad, and the Indifferent

December 15, 2015 at 2:30 PM

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The streets of Caracas were eerily quiet late Sunday evening (December 6) as the city, and indeed the whole of Venezuela, anxiously awaited the results of the critical legislative elections. Everyone knew the vote would be close: the polls had indicated as much in the weeks leading up to the elections, with many experts predicting a victory for the right wing opposition party Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD).

Traveling throughout the capital, and especially in the poor and working class neighborhoods, however, the mood was optimistic, with most Chavistas fully expecting to carry the day and maintain their control of the National Assembly. In the 23 January neighborhood, a stronghold of the ruling Socialist Party (PSUV) and a hotbed of radical activism and resistance, local party and community leaders were upbeat as they showed me around, pointing out the gains made in the years of Chavista rule: every house now having a cooking gas connection, improved sewage systems, guaranteed government pensions, low-cost government housing, among many other tangible gains.

In El Valle, another solidly red working class district, I visited two of the many punto rojos (red points) – Socialist Party tents manned by volunteers who helped organize voter turnout for their respective neighborhoods – where the mood was festive, something between a block party and a local community meeting. The punto rojos, interestingly enough, were almost always opposite from MUD tents (a recent phenomenon as the right wing opposition has adopted the PSUV organizing strategy), and all was peaceful and quiet, no confrontations to be seen. Indeed, it seemed everywhere I went that these elections were a model of a peaceful democratic process, precisely what Venezuela’s government has long prided itself on, and precisely what the western media has always denied.

After having met with a number of community leaders, including PSUV candidate Jesús Faría who welcomed me with a handshake and a hug, thanking me for coming to his country to watch democracy in action, I went (along with my delegation from the US) to Tiuna el Fuerte, a cultural center and communal outdoor meeting space financially supported by the Venezuelan government. With intricate graffiti murals adorning the walls of shipping containers transformed into living quarters, computer labs, and other important resources, Tiuna el Fuerte looked like something out of hipster Brooklyn or Oakland, a meeting space where hip hop and reggae music blared from the speakers, and sancocho (a traditional soup dish) was ladled into bowls for anyone who wanted it.

But as I sat voraciously devouring the delicious sancocho, gazing calmly at the trees and public housing buildings across the dusty street, it was immediately clear that there was a tension in the air, an unease somehow palpable in the cautious movements and facial expressions of the twenty- and thirty-somethings in charge of this cultural center. It was obvious that these people were nervous, that they had a sense that all was not well. The television around which everyone gathered flashed images from around the country, showing polling places still open well into the evening as voters waited in lines to cast their ballots. Text and WhatsApp messages went back and forth like electrical signals shot by digital neurotransmitters across the synapses of a collective Chavista brain. These people were worried, and now so was I.

I did not come to Venezuela to be objective – I am a leftist and an anti-imperialist, a strong supporter of Hugo Chávez and the Bolivarian Revolution – but rather to bear witness to these elections and see Venezuela for myself, this country I have followed and defended vigorously as a bastion of resistance against global imperialism these last 17 years. I came to document the reality, but also to counter the corporate media’s propaganda: President Maduro as dictator, Venezuela as failed state, and other such lies and distortions peddled by the mouthpieces of neoliberal finance capital. I came to be part of this momentous election, and to tell its story.

And then it happened. The bombshell. The National Electoral Council (CNE), the impartial body that conducts the country’s elections, announced an overwhelming victory for the right wing opposition and the MUD. The wealthy and middle class neighborhoods of Caracas erupted in cheers and celebrations, while the poor and working class sections of the city seemingly went silent.

The country had taken a stunning turn to the right, an astonishing thing for the most left wing country in the western hemisphere. How could this have happened? What led to these incredible developments? And what might this mean for the future of the Bolivarian Republic and its revolution?

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