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latest news

Spain
A break in the political establishment

07/02/2016: December’s elections broke the hold of the two main capitalist parties for the first time since the Franco dictatorship. The high vote for representatives of workers’ and social movements, and the recovery of the left-populist Podemos, open up a new phase in the struggle against austerity.

  Spain

US
#Movement4Bernie Takes Off Around the Country

06/02/2016: Bernie Sanders’ call for a political revolution against the billionaire class enthuses millions

  US

Brazil
Devastating outbreak of Zika virus

04/02/2016: Another healthcare system failure

  Brazil

Pakistan
PIA strike continues despite state repression

04/02/2016: Four workers killed, eight injured as security forces open fire on protesting workers

  Pakistan

US
Iowa results reveal crisis of establishment politics - Sanders and Clinton tie

03/02/2016: “It’s too late for establishment politics, establishment economics!”

  US

Japan
Social and political unease after “twenty lost years”

03/02/2016: Weakness of opposition is Prime Minister Abe’s only strength

  Japan

 Greece
Workers strike at Contitech-IMAS factory

02/02/2016: Solidarity campaign needed!

  Greece, Solidarity

World Economy
Capitalism buffeted by choppy waters

02/02/2016: Bosses strive to offload cost of crisis on working class - a struggle for system change is needed

  World Economy

Egypt
Fifth anniversary of heroic revolutionary uprising

01/02/2016: Workers’ struggles continue despite repression

  Egypt

India
Justice for Rohit Vemula

31/01/2016: Solidarity message from the Committee for a Workers’ International

  India, US

Britain
Fractured politics

29/01/2016: A volatile mix

  Britain

Tunisia
Suicide of unemployed youth sparks new wave of protests

22/01/2016: Five years after the fall of Ben Ali, demands of the revolution remain unsatisfied

  Tunisia

China
Kidnapping and TV show-trials

21/01/2016: “China is entering a dark night of repression and detentions under Xi Jinping”

  China

Venezuela
Right-wing landslide

20/01/2016: First electoral defeat suffered by the Chavistas since Hugo Chávez was first elected president in 1998

  Venezuela

Leningrad
‘Hero City’

19/01/2016: 900 days of siege in World War Two

  History, Russia

Britain
Police infiltration of Socialist Party exposed

19/01/2016: Untold distress caused to women in relationships with undercover police officers

  Britain

US
Socialist response to State of the Union 2016

15/01/2016: Kshama Sawant replies to Obama’s "State of the Union" speech

  US

 South Africa
Campus workers strike against outsourcing

14/01/2016: For the mobilisation and support of all students, permanent workers and communities across Tshwane

  Africa, Solidarity, South Africa

Britain
Steps towards setting up Trade Union Momentum

12/01/2016: Potential for inclusive, anti-austerity trade union based movement with effective alliances in workplaces and communities

  Britain

Scotland
Politicians have a choice

11/01/2016: Implement Tory austerity or set no-cuts budgets

  Scotland

Sweden/Denmark
Closing borders

07/01/2016: The EU’s nightmare continues

  Denmark, Sweden

 Pakistan
Nestle workers solidarity campaign update

06/01/2016: Union leader, Muhammad Hussain Bhatti, released on bail

  Pakistan, Solidarity

 Taiwan
Solidarity urged for insurance workers’ strike

05/01/2016: Determined battle for pension rights and an end to contract labour

  Solidarity, Taiwan

China 2015
A year of unnatural disasters

04/01/2016: Corruption, poor oversight and chase for profits, maim thousands

  China

Britain
Corbyn’s supporters want resistance against the right

01/01/2016: Edited extracts from an article by Peter Taaffe, Socialist Party general secretary, that will be published in the first 2016 issue of the Socialist (7 January).

  Britain

 Review
Alexandra Kollontai

29/12/2015: A life of socialist struggle

  Review, Women

Review
Revisiting Animal Farm

27/12/2015: Allegory of the terrible betrayal of the Russian revolution

  Review

Review
Charlie Chaplin

25/12/2015: Playing the underdog

  Review

Spain
Elections mark shift to the Left

23/12/2015: No government majority as Podemos partially recovers

  Spain

Environment
A world of change

23/12/2015: Human beings have radically altered the Earth, adapting nature in the struggle to survive and thrive…

  Environment

Pakistan
Hundreds protest against religious extremism and increased intolerance

21/12/2015: Rally organised by Socialist Movement Sindh in Mir Pur Khas

  Pakistan

China
Regime cracks down on labour activists

19/12/2015: Arrests in Guangdong province as workers’ struggles multiply

  China

Kurdistan

Kurdish ‘Intifada’ in Iran

www.socialistworld.net, 10/09/2005
website of the committee for a workers' international, CWI

Oppressed workers and poor resist regime

Tim Lessells, Socialist Party, England and Wales

There has been serious and violent unrest for over a month now in the predominantly Kurdish inhabited region of the Iranian state. This uprising has been largely ignored by the western media.

According to Human Rights Watch, 17 people have been killed during protests in recent weeks. Iran Focus (11/08/05) reports the deaths as follows: “Three anti-government protesters shot dead in Oshnavieh on July 26, two killed in Baneh on July 30, one shot dead in Sardasht on August 2, and 11 killed in Saqqez on August 3.” Given the lack of any independent media in Iran it is impossible to verify any of this – the numbers killed are likely to be much higher. Kurdish organisations have issued a statement that claims 50 deaths.

Demonstrations in many towns and cities were reported – with youths and political opponents chanting anti-government slogans and fighting running battles with the Iranian police. In retaliation for the police killings and repression, government buildings were attacked. The police and paramilitary forces are reported to have fired indiscriminately into crowds - wounding hundreds as a consequence. This was the case in Saqqez on the 3rd August. Some organisations claim that helicopter gun-ships also fired onto the crowds.

The Iranian state forces have massively increased their presence in the region and this is adding to the tension. Reportedly, 100,000 troops were deployed, as well as ‘special forces’ and helicopter gun-ships. The Kurdish region is now effectively under martial law. Some Kurds are reportedly fleeing the region and, if the violence escalates, a flow of refugees out of the region can be expected.

On August 9th there was a commercial shutdown across the region in response to the state killings and repression. Numerous journalists, political, human rights, women’s rights and labour activists were arrested. No doubt there are hundreds of prisoners, especially from amongst the young people, resisting state repression, who now find themselves in the regime’s notorious dungeons and torture chambers. The authorities have also closed down two Kurdish language newspapers.

The spark for this month long ‘intifada’ was the brutal murder of political activist Shivan Quederi, on July 9th. Iranian state forces shot him three times, and then tied him to a military vehicle and drove around the city of Mahabad.

There are, of course, other contributing factors to this uprising – not least the long time national oppression of the Kurds within the Iranian state. The economic situation remains dire – the Kurdish region is badly underdeveloped and unemployment is high. This underdevelopment is a deliberate political weapon used by the regime. A UN report states that “regions historically occupied by Kurds ...seem to suffer disproportionate inadequacy of services such as water and electricity and unsatisfactory reconstruction efforts”. (Reuters, 30/07/05)

Iraq and Turkey

Events in Iraq and Turkey are also having a knock on effect. In northern Iraq, Kurds have had autonomy for over a decade now. Despite the in-fighting between rival Kurdish factions in the mid-90s, the population were at least free from Saddam Hussein’s rule, and, as a result, they enjoyed relative peace and prosperity under the protection of US/UK imperialism. (During Saddam’s brutal rule, some reactionary leaders of the main Kurdish organisations also collaborated with Saddam). The Kurds are now seemingly progressing towards their place in a new ‘Federal Democratic Iraq’.

The nationalist and pro-capitalist Kurdish leaders in Iraq are currently in favour with imperialism, but this will not necessarily remain the case. What the extent of their autonomy actually amounts to in the future Iraq is yet to be seen. There are disputed issues, including the city of Kirkuk (and its oil fields) which is potentially explosive. Nonetheless, to the Kurds inside the Iranian state who continue to suffer under the brutal Iranian dictatorship, the situation for Kurds in Iraq appears to be much better.

In Turkey there is also some movement on the Kurdish question. According to an interview with Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) Commander, Murat Karayilan, (AFP, 12/08/05), the PKK is ready to lay down arms if the Turkish army ends the crackdown on its militants and if Ankara guarantees the rights of the Kurds. Meanwhile, whilst rejecting any possible let up in the military campaign against the PKK, the Prime Minister of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, recently pledged that the Kurdish conflict would be resolved with "more democracy". The Kurdish people can have no illusions in the Turkish ruling elite, which has oppressed them for decades. But to the Kurds in Iran, the situation in Turkey may look like progress. They must feel somewhat left behind and forgotten about compared to their brothers and sisters in the Turkish and Iraqi states.

"It is tragically ironic that while the United States now supports Kurds in Iraq who are embracing democratic principles and institutions deemed critical to Iraq’s future, Kurds in Iran, Syria and Turkey, striving for similar rights and freedoms, are marginalized and left at the mercy of repressive regimes" so says the Washington Kurdish Institute (09/08/05). The lack of consistency in the US’s mission to ‘spread democracy’ throughout the Middle East is thus picked up on, even by a nationalist, pro-capitalist institution such as this.

In reality, the US only wishes to ‘spread democracy’ when this is directly in accordance with its interests (such as in the ‘Orange Revolution’ in the Ukraine and the ‘Rose Revolution’ in Georgia. As the majority of people in the Middle East, Latin America and elsewhere in the neo-colonial world are all too aware the US is certainly not a consistent proponent of democracy. It has in the past supported the most ruthless and bloody of regimes, (Saddam Hussein’s Iraq being such an example), and it continues to support the likes of Saudi Arabia. Kuwait, the tiny country that the US and its allies ‘liberated’ in the first Gulf War, only extended the vote to women this year! Despite the lively rhetoric of President George W. Bush, and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, about ‘spreading democracy’, US imperialism has not all of a sudden been transformed into a tool of liberation for the oppressed peoples of the world. The economic and military-strategic interests of US capitalism remain the determining factor in its foreign policy.

The silence of imperialism and the media over the recent events in the predominantly Kurdish inhabited region of Iran can be partly explained by US imperialism’s fear of yet more instability in the Middle East. Reporting on the Kurds plight in Iran could threaten to spread the uprising elsewhere – to destabilise the Kurdish regions of Iraq, Syria and Turkey. Anything that could be interpreted as US imperialism encouraging the Kurds in their struggle could ignite a massive and uncontrollable fire. The repercussions would threaten the interests of American and European capitalism in the region – this, in turn, would impact on the world economy. The current nation states in this region could be split apart – the major powers of Iran and Turkey could in these circumstances be forced to enter the conflicts in a desperate attempt to gain control of the situation. This is a situation that US imperialism would understandably rather avoid.

Having said this, it is not ruled out that US imperialism is presently meddling in the explosive situation in Kurdish areas of Iran, for its own class ends, of course. As we know from the situation in Iraq, prior to imperialism’s overthrow of Saddam, and in the ensuing chaos since, US imperialism will lean on different peoples in the region, including the oppressed Kurds, to further its class interests and often playing a ‘divide and rule’ game.

Unfortunately, the main political organisations in the Kurdish region of the Iranian state look towards imperialism in its different guises (the US, EU and the UN) to resolve the Kurdish national question. Whilst an alliance of convenience is possible between imperialism and the Kurds in Iran, this will be short lived, and it will be imperialism that calls all the shots.

History has shown, time and again, that the Kurds can have no trust in imperialism. Following the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, ‘The Treaty of Sevres’, in 1920, promised the Kurdish people their own independent state. Imperialism did not deliver on this and the Kurds were betrayed. The Kurdish people were divided up between Turkey, Iran, Iraq, Syria and Armenia. Imperialism has created the modern Kurdish national question and it is unable to resolve it.

‘Mahabad Soviet’

Not only has Western imperialism betrayed the Kurds. The ruling bureaucratic caste of the Soviet Union, led by Joseph Stalin, left them to be crushed in 1947. The so-called ‘Mahabad Soviet’ was a mini-Kurdish state, established in 1946, with its capital in Mahabad (a city now in the Iranian province of West Azerbaijan, but which is predominantly Kurdish). This Kurdish republic was established following World War Two when part of Iran was still occupied by the Red Army. However, the Stalinist elite in Moscow abandoned support for the new independent Kurdish state in 1947 after signing a deal with the Shah of Iran to grant them access to oil and gas. After the Soviet Union withdrew its support the ‘Mahabad Soviet’ was soon invaded by the Iranian military and its leaders were hung.

More recently, Western imperialism backed Saddam Hussein’s Iraq during the Iran-Iraq war – including supplying the Ba’athist regime with chemical weapons, which were subsequently used against the Kurds in Halabja in 1988, killing over 5000.

The Kurds in northern Iraq rose up against Saddam’s regime in the first Gulf War of 1991, after the US said it would support them. The US then did a deal with Saddam, allowing his forces to massacre thousands of Kurds. The same happened to the Shia who had risen up in the south of Iraq. After forcing Saddam out of Kuwait, US imperialism decided to call a halt. It preferred a much weaker unitary Iraq under Saddam’s continued brutal rule than the destabilisation of the entire region. In particular, imperialism feared the repercussions in Turkey, a NATO member and important strategic and economic ally. The Kurds in Turkey would have been greatly spurred on by the Kurds in Iraq if they had gained independence.

The Kurdish people have shown a massive willingness to struggle. They refuse to lie down and be defeated. The Kurds within the Iranian state fought like tigers in the revolution against the Shah. After the Islamic (counter) revolution in 1979 they prevented Ayotollah Khomeini’s troops from invading the region until 1982. There are countless other examples of heroic uprisings and brave guerrilla fighters who have died in the struggle. Unfortunately, willingness to struggle, bravery and self-sacrifice are not enough. The necessary political leadership, with the correct programme and tactics to bring about victory, has always been lacking.

Instead of looking towards imperialism, the Kurdish people must instead look to the working class and poor masses of the region and the entire world for support. To smash the theocratic dictatorship the Kurds need the support of the powerful Iranian working class and student movement. Likewise, for the Iranian workers to succeed, they need to win over the oppressed national minorities within the current Iranian state firmly to their side. This means that they must rally to the defence of national minorities and support their just demand for self-determination. The working class movement, not imperialism, is the natural ally of oppressed peoples.

A socialist programme, which includes the right of nations to self-determination, can win support from across all the peoples of the Middle East. A socialist programme aim would win support for a democratically planned economy to dramatically raise living standards, and would also aim to win support for democratic and national rights - which can only be won and secured under socialism.

A mass uprising against capitalism - against dictatorship, against national oppression and against women’s oppression, could spread socialist revolution across the region and beyond. The success of the socialist revolution requires the building of mass parties of the working class, armed with a correct Marxist programme. This is the crucial task that socialists are faced with – to start the construction of such parties today.

  • Down with the theocratic dictatorship!
  • For a mass revolutionary struggle that unites the working class, poor masses, students and oppressed peoples across the Iranian state!
  • Self-determination for the Kurdish people!
  • For a socialist confederation of the Middle East!


Europe

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NEWS

US: #Movement4Bernie Takes Off Around the Country
06/02/2016, Socialist Alternative, CWI in the USA:
Bernie Sanders’ call for a political revolution against the billionaire class enthuses millions

Brazil: Devastating outbreak of Zika virus
04/02/2016, Isabel Keppler, LSR (CWI Brazil):
Another healthcare system failure

Pakistan: PIA strike continues despite state repression
04/02/2016, Fazal Abbas Shah and Rukhsana Manzoor, Socialist Movement Pakistan, Lahore:
Four workers killed, eight injured as security forces open fire on protesting workers

US: Iowa results reveal crisis of establishment politics - Sanders and Clinton tie
03/02/2016, Joshua Koritz, Socialist Alternative (CWI in the US):
“It’s too late for establishment politics, establishment economics!”

Greece: Workers strike at Contitech-IMAS factory
02/02/2016, Xekinima (CWI Greece) Reporters:
Solidarity campaign needed!

Egypt: Fifth anniversary of heroic revolutionary uprising
01/02/2016, David Johnson, Socialist Party (CWI England & Wales):
Workers’ struggles continue despite repression

India: Justice for Rohit Vemula
31/01/2016, socialistworld.net:
Solidarity message from the Committee for a Workers’ International

Britain: Fractured politics
29/01/2016, Peter Taaffe, general secretary, Socialist Party (CWI in England & Wales):
A volatile mix

Tunisia: Suicide of unemployed youth sparks new wave of protests
22/01/2016, Al-Badil al-Ishtiraki, CWI in Tunisia:
Five years after the fall of Ben Ali, demands of the revolution remain unsatisfied

China: Kidnapping and TV show-trials
21/01/2016, chinaworker.info:
“China is entering a dark night of repression and detentions under Xi Jinping”

Britain: Police infiltration of Socialist Party exposed
19/01/2016, Press statement from the Socialist Party (CWI England & Wales):
Untold distress caused to women in relationships with undercover police officers

US: Socialist response to State of the Union 2016
15/01/2016, Socialistworld.net:
Kshama Sawant replies to Obama’s "State of the Union" speech

South Africa: Campus workers strike against outsourcing
14/01/2016, Workers & Socialist Party (WASP), Reporters:
For the mobilisation and support of all students, permanent workers and communities across Tshwane

Britain: Steps towards setting up Trade Union Momentum
12/01/2016, John McInally Public and Commercial Services Union Vice-President (personal capacity), from The Socialist newspaper:
Potential for inclusive, anti-austerity trade union based movement with effective alliances in workplaces and communities

Scotland: Politicians have a choice
11/01/2016, By Brian Smith and Jim McFarlane, Glasgow City Unison and Dundee City Unison branch secretaries (in a personal capacity) and Socialist Party Scotland:
Implement Tory austerity or set no-cuts budgets

Sweden/Denmark: Closing borders
07/01/2016, Per-Ãke Westerlund, Rattvisepartiet Socialisterna (CWI in Sweden):
The EU’s nightmare continues

Pakistan: Nestle workers solidarity campaign update
06/01/2016, Fazal Abbas Shah SMP (CWI in Pakistan), Lahore:
Union leader, Muhammad Hussain Bhatti, released on bail

Taiwan: Solidarity urged for insurance workers’ strike
05/01/2016, CWI Taiwan Reporters (translated from The Socialist, journal of the CWI Taiwan):
Determined battle for pension rights and an end to contract labour

China 2015: A year of unnatural disasters
04/01/2016, chinaworker.info reporters:
Corruption, poor oversight and chase for profits, maim thousands

Britain: Corbyn’s supporters want resistance against the right
01/01/2016, Peter Taaffe, Socialist Party (CWI in England & Wales):
Edited extracts from an article by Peter Taaffe, Socialist Party general secretary, that will be published in the first 2016 issue of the Socialist (7 January).

Review: Alexandra Kollontai
29/12/2015, Heather Rawling, from Socialism Today:
A life of socialist struggle

Review: Revisiting Animal Farm
27/12/2015, Andy Ford, from Socialism Today (Issue 192 October 2015):
Allegory of the terrible betrayal of the Russian revolution

Review: Charlie Chaplin
25/12/2015, Niall Mulholland, from Socialism Today (Issue 191 September 2015):
Playing the underdog

Spain: Elections mark shift to the Left
23/12/2015, Socialismo Revolucionario (CWI in Spain):
No government majority as Podemos partially recovers

Pakistan: Hundreds protest against religious extremism and increased intolerance
21/12/2015, Hameed Channa Socialist Movement Pakistan (CWI in Pakistan) organiser in Sindh:
Rally organised by Socialist Movement Sindh in Mir Pur Khas

Ireland North:Court rules abortion laws contravene human rights
21/12/2015, Socialist Party (CWI Ireland) Reporters, Belfast:
Movement needed for women’s rights

CWI Comment and Analysis

ANALYSIS

Spain: A break in the political establishment
07/02/2016, Danny Byrne, CWI (article from issue 195 of ’Socialism Today’):
December’s elections broke the hold of the two main capitalist parties for the first time since the Franco dictatorship. The high vote for representatives of workers’ and social movements, and the recovery of the left-populist Podemos, open up a new phase in the struggle against austerity.

Japan: Social and political unease after “twenty lost years”
03/02/2016, Carl Simmons, Kokusai Rentai (CWI in Japan):
Weakness of opposition is Prime Minister Abe’s only strength

World Economy: Capitalism buffeted by choppy waters
02/02/2016, Lynn Walsh, from The Socialist (weekly paper of the Socialist Party, CWI England & Wales):
Bosses strive to offload cost of crisis on working class - a struggle for system change is needed

Venezuela: Right-wing landslide
20/01/2016, Tony Saunois, from February edition of Socialism Today, magazine of the Socialist Party (CWI in England & Wales):
First electoral defeat suffered by the Chavistas since Hugo Chávez was first elected president in 1998

Leningrad: ‘Hero City’
19/01/2016, Clare Doyle (fuller version of a review article to be published in the February 2016 issue of Socialism Today):
900 days of siege in World War Two

China: Financial turmoil spreads fear across global markets
14/01/2016, Per-Åke Westerlund, with additional reporting by Vincent Kolo:
Setting the tone for 2016?

2016: Crisis-ridden capitalism will meet with bitter mood of resistance
05/01/2016, Peter Taaffe, Socialist Party (CWI in England & Wales) general secretary:
Socialist alternative is essential

Environment: A world of change
23/12/2015, Jess Spear, Socialist Alternative (CWI in USA):
Human beings have radically altered the Earth, adapting nature in the struggle to survive and thrive…

Venezuela: Elections – who won and who lost?
16/12/2015, Johan Rivas, Socialismo Revolucionario (CWI in Venezuela):
Victory for the right wing reflects popular discontent

Pakistan: Religious extremism, military operations and increased intolerance
15/12/2015, Khalid Bhatti SMP (CWI in Pakistan):
Revolutionary movement of the working class needs to finally defeat religious extremism and intolerance

Côte d’Ivoire : Ouattara reelected in a “frighteningly quiet” atmosphere
14/12/2015, CWI in Ivory Coast:
Dictatorship consolidating while opposition ridicules itself. Time to “turn the page”!

Environment: Socialism or ecological catastrophe
05/12/2015, Articles from Socialism Today, magazine of the Socialist Party (CWI in England & Wales):
25 years of hot air from establishment

World relations, economy and the class struggle
05/12/2015, CWI International Secretariat:
There has been a profound change in the world situation and world relations since the CWI’s last World Congress in 2010

Britain: After the vote in parliament to bomb Syria
04/12/2015, Socialist Party (CWI in England & Wales) reporters:
This crisis has revealed that Labour is essentially two parties in one

Britain: Syria vote reveals two Labour parties in one
02/12/2015, Editorial from The Socialist, paper of the Socialist Party (CWI in England & Wales):
Fight for a party that stands against war and austerity

Scotland: Post-referendum, where is Scotland heading?
29/11/2015, Socialist Party Scotland (CWI):
Mass struggle and socialism will challenge capitalist austerity

Environment: Socialist change not climate change
28/11/2015, Pete Dickenson, Socialist Party (CWI in England & Wales):
The growing threat of climate change and a socialist programme for the environment

Middle East: Bombing Syria won’t stop Isis
25/11/2015, Editorial of The Socialist, weekly newspaper of the Socialist Party (CWI England & Wales):
For workers’ unity against war, terrorism and racism

Hong Kong: Great result for socialist election campaign
25/11/2015, Vincent Kolo, chinaworker.info:
Socialist Action’s Sally Tang Mei-ching lifts opposition vote to 33 percent

Turkey: Erdoğan’s Pyrrhic victory
20/11/2015, Nihat Boyraz, Sosyalist Alternatif (CWI in Turkey) - translation from an article originally written in Turkish for Sosyalist Alternatif magazine:
It is time to build a new united left force

Burma: Sweeping victory for Aung San Suu Kyi party
19/11/2015, Keith Dickinson, Socialist Party (England and Wales):
Army holds on to powerful positions

France: Horror in Paris
14/11/2015, Statement from Gauche Révolutionnaire (CWI in France):
We will not be intimidated !

Britain: Socialist ideas back on the agenda
10/11/2015, Sarah Sachs-Eldridge, Socialism 2015 organiser:
Best ever ‘Socialism’ weekend of discussion & debate

US: The Bernie Sanders challenge
07/11/2015, Tom Crean, Socialist Alternative, USA. Article from Socialism Today:
The established political order in the US has been shaken up by Bernie Sanders’ campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination…

Israel/Palestine: Netanyahu government policy claims more victims
28/10/2015, Two articles by Socialist Struggle Movement (CWI in Israel-Palestine) reporters:
The crisis of “management of the conflict”