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latest news

Britain
Terror attack at Westminster

24/03/2017: Unite against terror, racism and war

  Britain

Italy
Democratic Party splits and 5-Star Movement in crisis

22/03/2017: Class struggle can build real left force

  Italy

Spain
Student strike empties classes and fills streets on 9 March

21/03/2017: Over 100,000 take to the streets in SE demonstrations

  Spain

Scotland
Second referendum on independence?

18/03/2017: SNP fire the starting gun but offer no solutions to austerity

  Scotland

Brazil
National day of strikes and protests shows Temer can be beaten

17/03/2017: For a one-day general strike as the next step

  Brazil

South Africa
Unity against poverty, crime and xenophobia

17/03/2017: Capitalist politicians use xenophobia to divert attention from failures of profit system

  South Africa

Netherlands
Election result a colossal defeat for austerity government

16/03/2017: Oppose Wilders and the ‘mainstream’ right – Build a mass workers’ party that struggles for socialism

  Netherlands

Yemen
Workers and their families left to starve by multi-billionaire companies

16/03/2017: International campaign needed to force companies to pay

  Yemen

Hong Kong
Protest against LSG Sky Chefs dismissal of union chairman

14/03/2017: Ng Chi-Fai sacked for organising union by multinational’s Hong Kong division – international solidarity needed

  Hong Kong

Ireland North
Snap election raises sectarian temperature    

14/03/2017: Workers need strong socialist alternative at ballot box and in unions

  Ireland North

Quebec
Counter protest against far-right

13/03/2017: Rise of Islamophobia and right-wing reaction poses new challenges to the left

  Quebec

 International Women's Day
Speech by Kshama Sawant

12/03/2017: Video of 8 March rally in Seattle

  Women

 International Women’s Day
Millions join marches and take action

10/03/2017: Socialists around the world demand an end to women’s oppression

  Women

 Hong Kong
Women’s march against sexism and racism

09/03/2017: International Women’s Day: “Solidarity with global mass protests and women’s strikes”

  Women

 Spain
Hundreds of thousands participate in International Women’s day student strike

08/03/2017: ‘Libres y Combativas’ and Sindicato de Estudiantes call strike against sexist violence and for working class women's rights

  Women

Pakistan
Political spectacle of the ruling class

08/03/2017: Most workers underemployed, 40% in poverty - situation demands new workers’ party

  Pakistan

 International Women’s Day 2017
A century on from the Russian Revolution

06/03/2017: Demonstrations world-wide swelled by anti-Trump anger

  Women

Britain
Massive demo shows battle to save the NHS can be won

06/03/2017: Up to 250,000 march in national protest, organised from below

  Britain

Egypt
Price hikes hit workers and middle classes

04/03/2017: Falling support for dictator Sisi portends growing opposition

  Egypt

Hong Kong’s sham election

03/03/2017: Pan-democrats sink to new low by supporting “lesser evil” John Tsang

  Hong Kong

US
Socialist response to Trump’s address to joint session of congress

02/03/2017: Kshama Sawant, Socialist Alternative councillor, speaks

  US

Sweden
“Who could believe it?"

24/02/2017: What is behind Trump's attack?

  Sweden

Britain/Ireland
Dublin's #JobstownNotGuilty

23/02/2017: Defend the right to protest - stop this political vendetta!

  Ireland Republic

Ireland
A web of intrigue sparks government crisis

22/02/2017: Smear campaign against a prominent police whistleblower

  Ireland Republic

February revolution 1917
What lessons for today?

21/02/2017: 23 February 1917 (8 March in today’s calendar) marked the beginning of the socialist revolution in Russia, which sparked a revolutionary wave that would travel around the world.

  Russian Revolution

 Yemen
International protests in support of TOTAL/G4S workers

20/02/2017: Solidarity spreads for victims of wage robbery and killing by multinational corporations

  Solidarity, Yemen

Netherlands
Anti-immigrant Freedom Party leading polls ahead of general elections

18/02/2017: Only a choice between the “regular” and far-right?

  Netherlands

Britain
Council cuts can be fought - and they must be

16/02/2017: Corbyn needs to stand up to Brexit rebels

  Aceh

Spain
Pablo Iglesias wins clear victory in Podemos congress

15/02/2017: Time to build the class struggle on the streets

  Spain

Russia

Kremlin enters the Syrian quagmire

www.socialistworld.net, 31/10/2015
website of the committee for a workers' international, CWI

Economic crisis deepens in Russia as Ukraine military stand-off continues

Rob Jones, CWI, Moscow

Since the beginning of October, following a ‘request’ to intervene by the Assad government, Russian jets have been completing over 60 bombing missions a day in Syria, purportedly on ISIS positions. On 7 October, Russian navy ships in the Caspian Sea fired 32 cruise missiles again at targets in Syria. Western intelligence reported four of these fell short in Iran but both Russian and Iranian foreign ministries deny this.

For Russian domestic consumption this is presented as an attempt to form “the widest possible coalition against extremism and terrorists”. The spectre is raised by President Putin of the dangers of the return home of some 7,000 Russian citizens fighting for ISIS. Russia Today, the Kremlin’s international media outlet, however openly boasts that the intervention “has in just a couple of weeks changed the balance of forces in the Middle East… Moscow has seized the initiative not only militarily, but also on the diplomatic front… Russia has thrown down an unprecedented gauntlet to the White House, this has forced many of US’s allies to the conclusion, that Washington is losing interest in the region and is ready to accept the growing influence of Russia and Iran”.

Whilst covering the numerous cases of “collateral damage” inflicted during US and allied airstrikes, the Russian media depicts its own attacks as highly targeted, with the successful annihilation of numerous ISIS bases. ISIS is a reactionary organization that the international workers’ movement and socialists must oppose but never in the Russian media do we hear any explanation about the anger and desperation that drives people into supporting it.

Nothing indicates the Russian campaign will be any more successful than the US led campaign and lead to a decline of terrorist attacks in Russia and elsewhere. The reality is that Russia’s intervention is driven by wider objectives than simply destroying ISIS.

The Kremlin has seized the initiative from US imperialism in Syria. In 2013, Russia intervened over the western allegations of Assad’s use of chemical weapons, averting the then planned US airstrikes. The US/EU strategy, based on removing Assad and leaving the opposition forces in control, led to a sectarian nightmare, with more than ten different groups and militias [dozens of groups in 2015], mainly supported and financed by the West and reactionary Arab regimes, such as Qatar and Saudi Arabia, fighting for control.

Russia invited Assed to Moscow to discuss further plans. By supporting its long-time ally and economic partner, Russia strengthened those within the Western imperialist camp who argue that Assad should be included in negotiations, in opposition to the US and UK who want to exclude him.

The majority of Russian air-strikes are in support of Assad’s military operations, particularly around Aleppo, and to further the interests of the so-called “anti-terror coalition”, essentially an anti US-coalition across the Middle East. Inherent in this situation is the possibility of a proxy war between Russia and the West. But very unwilling itself to send significant numbers of ground troops to Syria, Russia is coordinating its air activities not just with Assad’s generals but with Iran and Lebanon’s Hezbollah – both providing a large number of ground troops. According to one Free Syrian Army commander from Aleppo: “The Russians showered us with bombs even in the civilian areas. They want to clear everything so the regime’s tanks and even foot-soldiers can advance.” These attacks benefit not just the Assad regime, but help ISIS, claims another FSA advisor: “The regime and Isis tried to take Aleppo last year and they couldn’t, and now they are trying again with the Russians. The Russians are doing Isis a huge favour. They are giving them air cover while they are attacking us from the ground.”

Iran

Top Iranian commander Soleimani began to visit Moscow in July, in part, it seems, to bolster Russian determination to oppose further encroachments of anti-Assad forces towards the Mediterranean coast, which not only undermine the Assad regime, but also threaten Russia’s naval base at Tartus. Russian representatives met the Iranians and there has been a spate of diplomatic meetings with a seemingly unlikely ally, Saudi Arabia. The two sides signed a nuclear cooperation pact and the Gulf state will invest $1billion in the Russian economy. High level meetings between President Putin and King Salman are scheduled for later this year. Saudi Arabia is concerned that ISIS expansion has to be curtailed and is uneasy at the recent US-Iranian agreement. The Saudi’s, concerned at growing Iranian influence in the region, want to proceed with intervening in Yemen.

Another very important factor underlies the apparently strengthening friendship between Russia and Saudi Arabia – oil prices, which are currently low partly due to the Saudis attempting to hamper competing US shale oil production. The Saudis invited Russia to join OPEC, seemingly with the aim of consolidating a block of oil interests capable of resisting US producers.

Russia is desperate to increase the oil price, so much so that some commentators talk of panic in the Kremlin. One former insider, Gleb Pavlovskii, compares it to "the music of a jazz group; its continuing improvisation is an attempt to survive the latest crisis." Another says the elite is in crisis: “They can’t live with Putin. And they can’t live without him.”

Russia has no clear way out of the current economic crisis. In recession since January, GDP is expected to fall by 4-5% by year end and the government expects the recession to last until the end of 2016. Unemployment statistics dramatically understate the real situation but even so the number out of work has officially increased by 13% this year. Inflation continues at high levels. For the first time in 17 years, there has been a decline in real incomes, by 10% in the large cities and reportedly by over 25% in rural areas.

Although the state-controlled media hide it, there is discontent. While the independent trade unions dispersed mass anger over health and education cuts at the end of 2014, the year still saw the highest number of protests since the start of the global crisis in 2015.Significantly most protests take place without any participation by the so-called opposition parties, such as Just Russia and the Communist Party or existing trade union structures.

Both domestic and external factors drive the Russian economy down. The energy sector accounts for 98% of all corporate profit and, despite sanctions and falling oil prices, has maintained this level because ruble devaluation has compensated losses. These profits are not reinvested in new production for fear of further reducing the oil price. Meanwhile the 700 top companies that produce 78% of Russia’s output have seen their debts escalate by two-thirds this year. The banks are reluctant to invest because they see no demand. The dramatic collapse of the Chinese stock market and currency instability make the prospects for the Russian economy gloomy. The likelihood is, according to gazeta.ru, that 2016 will be the year of “no money, no growth”. With no solution, the ruling elite are retreating to their fall-back strategy of just hanging on in the hope the crisis does not last too long.

Kremlin popularity

Kremlin popularity still benefits from the accession of the Crimea and the Syria intervention, in the words of one commentator, has been a “further dose of anaesthesia”. In the past, some sections of society in Russia prepared to ‘accept’ restrictions on democracy in exchange for improving living conditions. But now that living standards are eroded, criticism is directed at the lower levels of the ruling elite. According to the Levada research organisation, over half the population think Putin does not know the real situation in the country or that his entourage is lying to him to hide the truth. The ruling elite are clearly concerned and resorting to the whipping-up of anti-US and anti-Western moods.

Initially, the Kremlin argued that their anti-terror coalition would even extend to the US, an illusion that was dashed as airstrikes started hitting the pro-Western opposition. The Putin regime hoped that participation in the campaign against ISIS would lead to the lifting of sanctions and divert attention from the Ukraine.

Although tensions between Ukrainian government forces and the rebel Lugansk and Donetsk republics grew to dangerous levels in the summer, a new ceasefire has more or less held since early September. The Kremlin’s original strategy of creating “Novorossiya” (the expansion of the break-away republics over south and east Ukraine) was abandoned in August 2014 after Ukrainian forces made serious advances towards Donetsk. Since then, the Kremlin’s intervention has supported the rebel-controlled regions (proxy Russian territories) within Ukraine, to counter any further moves by the Kiev regime towards NATO or the EU. The costs of political and economic isolation, as well as the fear of growth of opposition at home, held the Kremlin back. A further purge of the republic’s leadership to ensure its compliance with Moscow took place in September.

Ukraine’s social and economic disaster is approaching, if not quite reaching the depths experienced after the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early nineties. The hryvnia is the world’s second worst performing currency, ahead only the Belarussian ruble. At least this was the situation before the Chinese crisis. This reflects the collapse of the Ukrainian economy, which suffered a staggering 15% fall in GDP over the past year (According to the World Bank, Ukraine’s GDP fell 35% since independence).

President Poroshenko’s support fell dramatically. Elected with 54% of the vote a year ago, polls now give him just 15%. Voters are disappointed that he did not fulfil his promises to sort out the problem of the breakaway republics within days or to give up his business interests. His proposals to increase “decentralisation” do not go far enough to satisfy the leaders of the break-away republics while, at the same time, are seen by the hawkish forces in Kiev as giving too much of a concession.

Despite the ceasefire, voices demanding more decisive action to isolate the break-away republics are still being heard. The parliamentary leader of Poroshenko’s party, who recently called for a full blockade of the two republics, resigned over the summer. Leonid Kuchma, Ukraine’s president in the 1990s, calls for Ukraine to “sever all economic and political relations with these regions controlled by the militants and Russia”. In effect, he’s advocating that the republics should be starved into submission. In addition, a conflict between the far-right and the Poroshenko government has come out into the open. A recent armed conflict between the Right Sector and the police in West Ukraine over control of the black market and the refusal of the right wing battalions in east Ukraine to withdraw, make a long-term compromise very difficult.

Potential to build an alternative

Although it may seem that there is a world of difference between the situations in Ukraine and Syria, the reality is that there is far more in common. In Ukraine and Syria, the military actions of the authoritarian regimes and local warlords, backed by NATO, Western imperialist and Russian military forces, are causing immense suffering to working people. The economic crisis that affects Russia is made worse by the demands for austerity and budget cuts, fuelling poverty, corruption and despair.

But there is also potential to build an alternative to this nightmare: the Ukrainian and Russian working classes are amongst the biggest in Europe and are both suffering from dramatic attacks on their rights and living standards. If the working class was to move into action to prevent wage cuts, jobs losses and budget cuts, it would inevitably also face the need to oppose the authoritarian policies of the ruling elite. Such a struggle based on united action would also mean that in those areas affected by the military conflict the working class would form joint workers’ committees uniting all nationalities to oppose imperialist intervention and force the withdrawal of all foreign forces; to enable working people to decide their fate in open, fair and free elections, supervised by elected, democratic workers’ committees; to guarantee the national and democratic rights, including the right of self-determination, with the building of independent trade unions and mass workers’ parties capable of implementing a programme of land to the masses and the factories to the workers, through a programme for a socialist democratic planned economy, under a democratic and voluntary socialist confederation of the region.



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NEWS

Britain: Terror attack at Westminster
24/03/2017, Judy Beishon, from the Socialist Party (CWI England & Wales) website :
Unite against terror, racism and war

Belarus: Protesters flood onto streets demanding scrapping of “law against parasites”
21/03/2017, Daniil Raskolnikov (translation of article from the Russian CWI site www.socialist.news):
President Lukashenko must go!

Spain: Student strike empties classes and fills streets on 9 March
21/03/2017, Sindicato de Estudiantes (SE), Spanish Students' Union :
Over 100,000 take to the streets in SE demonstrations

Scotland: Second referendum on independence?
18/03/2017, Philip Stott, Socialist Party Scotland (CWI) :
SNP fire the starting gun but offer no solutions to austerity

South Africa: Unity against poverty, crime and xenophobia
17/03/2017, Shaun Arendse, Workers and Socialist Party (CWI South Africa):
Capitalist politicians use xenophobia to divert attention from failures of profit system

International Women’s Day: March in Malaysia and week of activity in Belgium
16/03/2017, socialistworld.net :
Reports from Kuala Lumpur and Brussels

Netherlands: Election result a colossal defeat for austerity government
16/03/2017, Pieter Brans, Socialist Alternative (CWI in Netherlands), Amsterdam:
Oppose Wilders and the ‘mainstream’ right – Build a mass workers’ party that struggles for socialism

Russian Revolution: March 1917 - After the fall of Czarism, what next for the revolution?
16/03/2017, socialistworld.net:
New article on 1917revolution.org

Hong Kong: Protest against LSG Sky Chefs dismissal of union chairman
14/03/2017, Sally Tang Mei-ching, Socialist Action (CWI in Hong Kong) :
Ng Chi-Fai sacked for organising union by multinational’s Hong Kong division – international solidarity needed

Quebec: Counter protest against far-right
13/03/2017, Michele Hehn, Alternative Socialiste (CWI in Quebec) :
Rise of Islamophobia and right-wing reaction poses new challenges to the left

International Women's Day: Speech by Kshama Sawant
12/03/2017, Socialistworld.net :
Video of 8 March rally in Seattle

International Women’s Day: Millions join marches and take action
10/03/2017, Clare Doyle, CWI:
Socialists around the world demand an end to women’s oppression

Hong Kong: Women’s march against sexism and racism
09/03/2017, Socialist Action (CWI in Hong Kong) reporters:
International Women’s Day: “Solidarity with global mass protests and women’s strikes”

Spain: Hundreds of thousands participate in International Women’s day student strike
08/03/2017, Sindicato de Estudiantes, students’ union in the Spanish state :
‘Libres y Combativas’ and Sindicato de Estudiantes call strike against sexist violence and for working class women's rights

Pakistan: Political spectacle of the ruling class
08/03/2017, Tariq Shahzad, National Organiser of IYWM (International Youth and Workers Movement) :
Most workers underemployed, 40% in poverty - situation demands new workers’ party

Britain: Massive demo shows battle to save the NHS can be won
06/03/2017, Hannah Sell, Socialist Party (CWI in England & Wales) deputy general secretary :
Up to 250,000 march in national protest, organised from below

Egypt: Price hikes hit workers and middle classes
04/03/2017, David Johnson, Socialist Party (CWI England & Wales) :
Falling support for dictator Sisi portends growing opposition

Hong Kong’s sham election
03/03/2017, Dikang, Socialist Action:
Pan-democrats sink to new low by supporting “lesser evil” John Tsang

US: Socialist response to Trump’s address to joint session of congress
02/03/2017, socialistworld.net:
Kshama Sawant, Socialist Alternative councillor, speaks

Catalonia: Historic demonstration in Barcelona in support of refugees
25/02/2017, Esquerra Revolucionària :
'Volem acollir'

Sweden: “Who could believe it?"

24/02/2017, Per-Åke Westerlund, Rättvisepartiet Socialisterna (CWI Sweden):
What is behind Trump's attack?

Britain/Ireland: Dublin's #JobstownNotGuilty
23/02/2017, Neil Cafferky, from The Socialist (weekly paper of the Socialist Party, England & Wales):
Defend the right to protest - stop this political vendetta!

Ireland: A web of intrigue sparks government crisis
22/02/2017, By Cillian Gillespie, Socialist Party (CWI in Ireland) :
Smear campaign against a prominent police whistleblower

Yemen: International protests in support of TOTAL/G4S workers
20/02/2017, Socialistworld.net:
Solidarity spreads for victims of wage robbery and killing by multinational corporations

Netherlands: Anti-immigrant Freedom Party leading polls ahead of general elections
18/02/2017, Pieter Brans, Socialist Alternative (CWI in Netherlands), Amsterdam:
Only a choice between the “regular” and far-right?

CWI Comment and Analysis

ANALYSIS

Italy: Democratic Party splits and 5-Star Movement in crisis
22/03/2017, Marco Veruggio, ControCorrrente, (CWI in Italy) :
Class struggle can build real left force

Brazil: National day of strikes and protests shows Temer can be beaten


17/03/2017, André Ferrari LSR (CWI in Brazil) :
For a one-day general strike as the next step

Yemen: Workers and their families left to starve by multi-billionaire companies
16/03/2017, Cedric Gerome, CWI :
International campaign needed to force companies to pay

Ireland North: Snap election raises sectarian temperature    
14/03/2017, Daniel Waldron, Socialist Party (CWI Ireland), Belfast :
Workers need strong socialist alternative at ballot box and in unions

International Women’s Day 2017: A century on from the Russian Revolution
06/03/2017, Clare Doyle, CWI :
Demonstrations world-wide swelled by anti-Trump anger

February revolution 1917: What lessons for today?
21/02/2017, Peter Taaffe, Socialist Party (CWI in England & Wales), printed in the Socialist (paper of the Socialist Party):
23 February 1917 (8 March in today’s calendar) marked the beginning of the socialist revolution in Russia, which sparked a revolutionary wave that would travel around the world.

India: Upheaval in Tamil Nadu
09/02/2017, Sajith Attepuram, New Socialist Alternative (NSA) (CWI India) :
Corruption, nepotism, and other crimes of ruling party exposed

Britain: Universal basic income demand gains ground
08/02/2017, Judy Beishon, from The Socialist (weekly newspaper of the Socialist Party – CWI England & Wales) :
What approach should socialists take?

CWI and Izquierda Revolucionaria – Towards unification
06/02/2017, Socialistworld.net :
Joint declaration of the CWI’s IEC and Izquierda Revolucionaria’s IEC

France: After Sarkozy, Juppé and Valls, now Fillon is on the way out
06/02/2017, Alex Rouillard, Gauche Révolutionnaire (CWI in France) :
Space opening up to left of Socialist Party

Syria: Is an end to the war in sight?
03/02/2017, Serge Jordan (CWI) :
New movements for change will need to arm themselves with the lessons of the Syrian tragedy

Sri Lanka: The year 2017
31/01/2017, Siritunga Jayasuriya, United Socialist Party (CWI in Sri Lanka) :
Between oppression and struggle

Canada: Where are Trudeau’s ‘Sunny Ways’?
31/01/2017, Tim Heffernan, Socialist Alternative (CWI Canada), Toronto

:
Battles of Indigenous peoples, youth, workers will test Liberal government

Russian Revolution Centenary: January 1917 - On the eve of revolution
29/01/2017, Niall Mulholland, from 1917revolution.org :
War, hunger, hated Tsarist regime: class tensions reach breaking point

Afghanistan: The limits of US power
28/01/2017, Judy Beishon, from Socialism Today (February 2017 issue), monthly magazine of the Socialist Party (CWI England & Wales)<br />
<br />
:
Imperialism’s 15-year adventure a bloody catastrophe for millions

US: Build 100 days of resistance to Trump’s agenda!
27/01/2017, Bryan Koulouris, Socialist Alternative, US :
Establishment deeply divided as mass resistance explodes

Millions on women's marches around the world
25/01/2017, Editorial from the Socialist, paper of the Socialist Party (CWI in England & Wales) and reports from US marches :
Reports from mass women's marches against Trump

China: New US President’s approach to China
21/01/2017, Vincent Kolo, chinaworker.info :
Outbursts raise fears of confrontation

Ireland North: Snap elections called to Stormont Assembly
17/01/2017, Daniel Waldron, Socialist Party (CWI Ireland), Belfast :
Build a socialist alternative to the ‘Orange’ versus ‘Green’ headcount

Spain: What kind of Podemos do workers and youth need?
17/01/2017, Izquierda Revolucionaria, Spanish state, editorial :
Debate within leadership touches on fundamental issues for future of party

US: Trump prepares vicious attacks
05/01/2017, Philip Locker and Tom Crean, Socialist Alternative (US):
Mass resistance needed!

Russian Revolution centenary
02/01/2017, Editorial from Socialism Today, Dec/Jan 2017 edition:
Defending the legacy in a new era

2017:Upheaval and fightback will continue
01/01/2017, Peter Taaffe, Socialist Party (CWI in England & Wales) general secretary :
Everything to play for in 2017

Britain's shifting political contours
22/12/2016, Hannah Sell, Socialist Party (CWI in England & Wales) from Socialism Today Dec/Jan 2017 edition :
Capitalist establishment in disarray

CWI International Executive Committee: European capitalism “battered by events”
16/12/2016, Kevin Henry, Socialist Party (CWI in Ireland) :
Report of discussion on Europe at CWI IEC meeting in November