Russia

New international talks aimed at ending the Syrian conflict may be unlikely to succeed, but they do mark shifts in the alignment of competing forces.

The United Nations Security Council unanimously voted on December 31 to support a ceasefire in Syria that started the previous day. The latest round of international peace talks are scheduled for January 23 in the capital of Kazakhstan, Astana.

When Donald Trump is sworn in as president on January 20, he will take over the running of the US intelligence agencies — the CIA, FBI, NSA etc — that have brought charges to discredit the outcome of his election.

The Electoral College has rubberstamped Trump’s election and Congress has ratified it. The storm over allegations of Russian interference in last year’s elections will pass as The Leader takes charge and cleans house in these agencies.

But there are some things that should be noted about this brouhaha.


Aleppo.

Another round of international talks on Syria, and a ceasefire, have come and gone. The five-and-a-half-year-old civil war continues unabated, as do the competing military interventions — all ostensibly targeting ISIS — by various regional and global powers.

Leon Trotsky
By Paul Le Blanc
Reaktion Books, 2015
224 pp, $39.99
Trotsky & the Problem of Soviet Bureaucracy
By Thomas M. Twiss
Brill, 2014
502 pp., $205.00

Leon Trotsky was one of the central leaders of the Russian Revolution. As the organiser and Commissar of the Red Army that saved the Soviet power and as the leading light of the struggle against Stalinism, he is surely one of the great heroic — and tragic — figures of the 20th century.

British parliament sat late into the night on December 2 before eventually voting up Prime Minister David Cameron's proposal to join the US-led air war in Syria.

Opposition Labour Party leader and veteran anti-war activist Jeremy Corbyn argued strongly against bombing Syria, as did protesters outside parliament. However, many right-wing Labour MPs supported the government.

Russia's initiation of air strikes in Syria on September 30, a year after a US-led coalition began air strikes in Syria — both officially targeting the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) — began the latest round of speculation of a “new Cold War” with Russia and its allies pitted against the US and other Western imperialist powers.

İlham Ehmed is a member of the Executive Committee of the Movement For A Democratic Society (TEV-DEM), the leading political movement in the self-governing cantons in Rojava (Syrian Kurdistan). She was interviewed by Günay Aksoy and Zana Kaya for Özgür Gündem on October 26.

The Dutch Safety Board released its long-awaited report on October 13 into the downing of flight MH17 at the Gilze-Rijen military airbase. It came 15 months after the disaster that killed 298 people, Morning Star said the next day.

Board chairperson Tjibbe Joustra criticised the Kiev government for allowing civilian aircraft to fly through a dangerous war zone.

Russia’s current military action in Syria, its first such action outside former Soviet territory, has shocked the world.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdoğan exclaimed, miserably: “Russia has no border with Syria, so why are they so interested in Syria?”

Russia followed the lead of Western powers on September 30 and began direct military intervention in Syria – using the same form (air strikes) and the same declared enemy, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.

Russia's campaign, aimed to shore up the beleaguered regime of Syrian dictator Bashar Assad, will also target the al Qaeda-affiliated Nusra Front and other armed groups fighting the dictatorship.

Russia's entry into the fray has dramatically heightened tensions between Russia and the West and further complicated the already confused, multi-sided conflict in Syria.

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