Colombia | Britain | Japan | USA

Sibylla Brodzinsky, Jonathan Watts: Colombia and Farc rebels sign historic ceasefire deal to end 50-year conflict (Guardian)

The Colombian government and Farc guerrillas have declared the final day of one of the world’s oldest wars with the signing of a ceasefire agreement to end more than 50 years of bloodshed.
“May this be the last day of the war,” said Farc chief Timoleón “Timochenko” Jiménez, his voice choked with tears.
“We are close to a final peace accord,” he said, after shaking hands with Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos at the signing ceremony in Havana, which was attended by the UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon.

Reuters: Colombian Farc rebel unit rejects peace deal, saying it will not disarm (Guardian)
Sibylla Brodzinsky: ‘Unarmed, we are nothing’: Farc guerrillas wary of future without guns (Guardian)

Michael Hudson: The Silence of the Left: Brexit, Euro-Austerity and the T-TIP (CounterPunch)

The Maastricht and Lisbon treaties – along with the German constitution – deprive the eurozone of having a central bank to spend money to revive the European economy. Instead of working to heal the economy from the debt deflation that has occurred since 2008, the European Central Bank (ECB) finances banks and obliges governments to save bondholders from loss instead of writing down bad debts.
To top matters, Brussels bureaucrats seem quite bendable to U.S. pressures to sign the T-TIP: the Obama Administration’s neoliberal Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. This is a corporatist program shifting regulatory policy into corporate hands, away from government: environmental policy, public health policy and food labeling for starters.
The Brussels bureaucracy has been hijacked not only by the banks, but by NATO. It pretends that there is a real danger of Russia mounting a military invasion of Europe – as if any country in the world today could mount a land war against another…
What used to be a socialist left has been silent about the fact that there are very good reasons for people to say that this is not the kind of Europe they want to be a part of. It is becoming a dead zone. And it cannot be “democratized” without replacing the Lisbon and Maastricht treaties on which it is founded, and removing German opposition to public spending on recovery for Spain, Italy, Portugal, Greece and other countries.

Joyce Nelson: Post-Brexit, Is the EU Flaunting Its Undemocratic Tendencies? (CounterPunch)

Stung by Brexit, the EU bureaucrats seem intent on showing just how undemocratic they can be. Here are two examples just in the last seven days…
On June 24, EU member states again refused (for a third time this year) to approve a renewal of the license for the weed-killer glyphosate manufactured by Monsanto and other corporations involved in GMO crop cultivation. That should have meant that the license would expire by the end of June, and Monsanto’s Roundup and other glyphosate weed-killers would have to be withdrawn from Europe by the end of this year.
Instead, on June 29 the European Commission (EC) decided “unilaterally” to extend the glyphosate license for another 18 months…
On June 28, a German news agency reported that European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker told EU leaders the Commission is planning to push through a controversial free trade agreement between Canada and the EU – known as CETA, the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement – without giving national parliaments any say in it. [7] According to the German press, Juncker argued that allowing national parliaments to vote on the agreement would “paralyze the process” and raise questions about the EU’s “credibility.”

Sean Bell: The End of the United Kingdom? (Jacobin)

Brexit has suddenly made Scottish independence and a united Ireland possible. What does it mean for the Left?

Costas Lapavitsas: Why They Left (Jacobin)

Brexit wasn’t the first time Europeans rejected the EU, and it won’t be the last. Here’s what the Left should do.

Serge Halimi: Why Britain walked out / Une Europe à refaire (Monde diplomatique)

The EU, brainchild of an intellectual elite, born in a world divided by war, missed one of history’s great choices, or opportunities, to take another route 25 years ago…
But instead of a community, it built a market. Bristling with commissioners, rules for member states, penalties for its peoples, yet wide open to competition among workers, soulless and with only one aim — to serve the wealthiest and best connected in financial centres and major metropolises…
The protests expressed in the British vote cannot be dismissed solely as populism or xenophobia. And it is not by further reducing national sovereignty, in favour of a federal Europe almost nobody wants, that our politically discredited elites will assuage the popular anger unleashed in the UK — and rising elsewhere.

Paul Mason: UK: lost, divided and alone (Monde diplomatique)

The Brexit vote was a insurrectionary protest against neoliberalism, globalism and cultural contempt. It will break up the UK, and split England forever.

Dimiar Indzhov: After Brexit: the EU Needs to Abandon Austerity or Face More Exits (CounterPunch)

Chilcot delivers crushing verdict on Blair and the Iraq war (Guardian)
Tony Blair deliberately exaggerated threat from Iraq, Chilcot report finds (Guardian)
Spy agencies ‘produced flawed information on Saddam’s WMDs’ (Guardian)
Bush largely ignored advice on postwar Iraq, Chilcot inquiry finds (Guardian)
Lee Williams: Chilcot has underlined exactly why Labour needs Jeremy Corbyn – one of the brave few to oppose the Iraq War (Independent)
Ian Black: Blair says the Middle East is better off post-Saddam, but is this true? (Guardian)
Owen Jones: The war in Iraq was not a blunder or a mistake. It was a crime (Guardian)
Jeffrey St. Clair, Alexander Cockburn: Iraq’s Weapons of Mass Destruction: Who Said What When (CounterPunch)

Justin McCurry: Japan could change pacifist constitution after Shinzo Abe victory (Guardian)

Japan’s prime minister, Shinzo Abe [Abe Shinzō 安倍 晋三], has called for a debate on rewriting the country’s pacifist constitution after his Liberal Democratic party [LDP, Jiyū-Minshutō 自由民主党] and its allies secured a supermajority in upper house elections on Sunday.
The LDP, its junior coalition partner Kōmeitō [公明党], and several like-minded smaller parties and independent MPs now control two-thirds of the 242 seats in the upper house. The ruling coalition already has a similar majority in the more powerful lower house.

Yan Lei, Liu Tian: Abe’s victory in Upper House election threat to Japan, regional stability (Xinhua)

The Japanese ruling camp led by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has won a majority in Sunday’s upper house election, which means Abe’s coalition and like-minded parties managed to take the two-thirds majority needed to try to revise the nation’s post-war pacifist Constitution.
The victory, though came as no surprise to the public, could pose a danger to Japan and regional stability, as it means Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will snatch more power and put Japan’s Constitution in jeopardy…
For one thing, Abe has been touting the so-called “achievements” of his economic policies dubbed “Abenomics”, referring only to favorable economic data, while being evasive about his true political agenda which is to revise the pacifist Constitution, a strategy that successfully disarmed many voters who are against constitutional revision.
For another, the voters, though discontent with Abe’s policies, felt a lack of better choices, as they are equally dissatisfied with the opposition parties, which seemed to have also failed to offer feasible solutions to the problems that Japan is faced with. Many people, therefore, chose to vote to keep the status quo, or even refused to vote.

Jason Burke: More than 300 dead as South Sudan capital is rocked by violence (Guardian)

Jon Swaine, Edward Helmore: Hundreds arrested amid new protests as details of Dallas gunman’s plans emerge (Guardian)

Military-style vehicles, teargas and smoke grenades returned to American streets for the first time this summer, and Barack Obama appealed for calm and said those who attack law enforcement undermine the cause of social justice.

David Wainer, Jonathan Ferziger, Ahmed Feteha: Old Mideast Foes Unite Over Gas Deals and Fighting Militants (Bloomberg)

Nearly four decades after their peace accord changed the face of the Middle East, Israel and Egypt are slowly turning a cool relationship into an alliance. They have tightened security cooperation to unprecedented levels and have been laying the legal groundwork for a multi-billion dollar energy contract, as gas discoveries in the Mediterranean and the persistent threat from Islamist militants shift the political dynamics across the region.

Israel Launched Numerous Drone Strikes in Sinai (Haaretz)

The attacks have been carried out in recent years, former Israeli official tells Bloomberg. Israel’s deputy army chief says cooperation between Israel and Egypt has never been better.

Jacob Kornbluh: Clinton Supporters Reject Democratic Platform Amendment Calling to ‘End’ Israeli Settlements (Jewish Insider / Haaretz)
Mira Sucharov: For Diaspora Jews, the Occupation Can’t Just Be a Spectator Sport (Haaretz)

An eternal debate that is relevant not just in the US, but in many countries:
John Halle, Noam Chomsky: An Eight-Point Brief for LEV (Lesser Evil Voting) (Outrages and Interludes)
Andrew Smolski: No Lesser Evil, Not this Time (CounterPunch)
Andrew Smolski: To My Less-Evilism Haters: A Rejoinder to Halle and Chomsky (CounterPunch)
Jeffrey St. Clair: Noam Chomsky, John Halle and a Confederacy of Lampreys: a Note on Lesser Evil Voting (CounterPunch)

Syria | Venezuela | Sudan | Colombia | Myanmar | Pete Seeger

Syria army, rebels agree new Damascus truce (Daily Star)

Syria’s army and rebels have agreed local truces in key flashpoints around Damascus, despite regime and opposition representatives failing to make any progress in Geneva peace talks.

Maria Paez Victor: Venezuela Under Attack Again (CounterPunch)

Again, a highly organized attack is being carried out against the democratic and popular government of Venezuela. It has involved monetary manipulations, economic sabotage, international media campaign against the economy despite excellent economic indicators, defaming the state run oil company, and this last week riots on the streets that have left 3 dead and 66 injured.

Chris Gilbert: What’s Really Happening in Venezuela? (CounterPunch)

If the term fascism is abstracted from the accidental features of its historical manifestations and used more broadly to identify a movement that captures sectors of the middle and working class for a pro-imperialist project – a movement that is often racist and always willing to disregard democratic results – then President Maduro is correct in calling the key actors on Wednesday fascists.

Hubert Sauper, Amy Goodman: South Sudan Reaches Ceasefire, But Will Nascent State Survive Oil-Fueled Neocolonialism? (Democracy Now)

After more than a month of violence that left thousands dead, rivals in South Sudan have reached a ceasefire agreement. The clashes began as a political dispute between President Salva Kiir and his former vice president, but quickly escalated into ethnic clashes that raised fears of a civil war. We turn to a new documentary that shows how South Sudan has become ground zero for contemporary colonialism in Africa. Director Hubert Sauper’s “We Come as Friends” provides an aerial view of the conflict in Sudan from a shaky, handmade two-seater plane. The film depicts American investors, Chinese oilmen, U.N. officials and Christian missionaries struggling to shape Sudan according to their own visions, while simultaneously applauding the alleged “independence” of the world’s newest state. What emerges is a devastating critique of the consequences of cultural and economic imperialism.

Dana Priest: Covert action in Colombia (Washington Post)
Amy Goodman, Dana Priest: Covert CIA Program Reveals Critical U.S. Role in Killings of Rebel Leaders (Democracy Now)

[A] shocking new report has exposed how a secret CIA program in Colombia helped kill at least two dozen rebel leaders. The Washington Post reports the program relies on key help from the National Security Agency and is funded through a multibillion-dollar black budget. The program began under President George W. Bush and continued under Obama. It has crippled the FARC rebel group by targeting its leaders using bombs equipped with GPS guidance. Up until 2010, the CIA controlled the encryption keys that allowed the bombs to read GPS data. In one case in 2008, the U.S. and Colombia discovered a FARC leader Raúl Reyes hiding in Ecuador. According to the report, quote, “To conduct an airstrike meant a Colombian pilot flying a Colombian plane would hit the camp using a US-made bomb with a CIA-controlled brain.” The attack killed the rebel leader and sparked a major flareup of tensions with Ecuador and Venezuela.

Amy Goodman, Mario Murillo: Did Covert U.S. Program Targeting Rebel Leaders Help Undermine Colombia’s Peace Process? (Democracy Now)
Jack L. Laun: What Dana Priest Left Out (CounterPunch)
John I Laun: Who is Really in Charge of Colombia? (CounterPunch)

Nancy Hudson-Rodd: Silence as Myanmar ‘genocide’ unfolds (Asia Times)

Glenn Greenwald and Ryan Gallagher: Snowden Documents Reveal Covert Surveillance and Pressure Tactics Aimed at WikiLeaks and Its Supporters (Intercept)

Pete Seeger on Democracy Now (Democracy Now)

The legendary folk singer, banjo player, storyteller and activist Pete Seeger has died at the age of 94.

Dave Marsh: What It Means to Lose Pete Seeger (CounterPunch)
David Yearsley: For Pete’s Sake! The Shameless Descent of Bob Dylan (CounterPunch)

Palestine | EU | Syria | South Sudan | Iran

Yazan al-Saadi: Salman Abu Sitta: The Palestinian History Weapon (al-Akhbar)

Wilhelm Langthaler: EU may explode (soon) (Anti-Imperialist Camp)

Bassam Haddad: My 50 Minutes with Manaf (MERIP)
As’ad AbuKhalil: Syria: Shameful Performance of Western Media (al-Akhbar)
Interview mit der syrischen Opposition (Deutscher Friedensrat)
Steve Tamari: Against Orthodoxy: The Story of Alawi Origins (insidethemiddle)

Since the outbreak of the popular uprising in Syria last spring, the media have focussed on the Alawi minority which controls the levers of power in that country. Most often, one hears echoes of mainstream Sunni and Shi’i sources that Alawis represent a heretical or, at best, syncretic deviation from Muslim orthodoxy.

Jomana Farhat: Israel Siphons off Africa’s Nile (al-Akhbar)

Egyptian and Sudanese policy failures have lead to a looming strategic threat to both countries’ most important resources – the Nile. Israel has now signed an agreement with the South Sudanese authorities over rights to the country’s precious water source.

Pankaj Mishra: Why weren’t they grateful? (London Review of Books)

The American ambassador reported that Mossadegh was backed by 95 per cent of the population, and the shah told the visiting diplomat Averell Harriman that he dared not say a word in public against the nationalisation. Mossadegh felt himself to be carried along on the wings of history. … ‘There was disquiet across the white world,’ de Bellaigue writes, at Mossadegh’s ‘show of Oriental bad form’. The Foreign Office started a campaign to persuade the American public of the rightness of the British cause and the US press duly fell in with it. The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal compared Mossadegh to Hitler … The New York Times summed up the new imperial mood immediately after the coup: ‘Underdeveloped countries with rich resources now have an object lesson in the heavy cost that must be paid by one of their number which goes berserk with fanatical nationalism.’ … ‘We are not liberals like Allende and Mossadegh, whom the CIA can snuff out,’ Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, now Iran’s supreme leader, warned during the hostage crisis in 1979. So far he has been proved right.

Julie Wark: The history of the west is not the history of the world (Open Democracy)

Syria | Gaza | Libya | Sudan | Egypt | Haiti

The following article is an interesting analysis of Dar‘ā (‏درعا) in the southwest of Syria and the sectarian character of the al-Asad regime. It also notes the lack of militarization both in Damascus and Aleppo. Most interesting is the author’s attack on the traditional left which he accuses of siding with Assad and thus helping the Islamists to appear radical. I wonder if he is right about the pace and the stage of the events – the movement seems weak and the repression seems strong.
Hassan Khaled Chatila: The revolt in Syria: Its roots and prospects (Kasama / World to win)

John sent this link:
Ernesto Londono, Joel Greenberg: Egypt to reopen Gaza border crossing, raising Israeli concerns (Washington Post)

Wilhelm Langthaler: Egypt’s drift away from Western tutelage (Anti-Imperialist Camp)
Werner Pirker: »Das ist ausgeartet zum Karneval politischer Hochstapler« (junge Welt)

Samir Amin: 2011 : le printemps arabe ? (Nouveaux cahiers du socialisme). Excerpts in translation: Libya Is Neither Tunisia Nor Egypt / On the Revolt in Syria (MRzine)

Oren Kessler: Israel hopes to attain a new African ally in S. Sudan (Jerusalem Post)
Gil Ronen: South Sudan Wants Ties with Israel (Arutz Sheva)

Jamie Doward, Philippa Stewart: UK training Saudi forces used to crush Arab spring (Guardian)

Britain is training Saudi Arabia’s national guard – the elite security force deployed during the recent protests in Bahrain – in public order enforcement measures and the use of sniper rifles. The revelation has outraged human rights groups, which point out that the Foreign Office recognises that the kingdom’s human rights record is “a major concern”. … Britain sends up to 20 training teams to the kingdom a year.

Roger Annis, Kevin Edmonds: Haiti’s foreign-orchestrated election hands power to neo-Duvalierist Michel Martelly (rabble.ca)

Anti-imperialism | Bahrain | Côte d’Ivoire | Sudan | Israel | Cuba | Libya

阳和平:中国崛起争霸还是反霸(乌有之乡)
Ian Black: Bahrain protests will go nowhere while the US supports its government (Guardian)

Pierre Hasky: Why Sarkozy is no ‘Africain’ (Guardian)

Officially, French troops in Ivory Coast are described by their government as “impartial forces”. This is somewhat disingenuous. French combat helicopters played a decisive role in the runup to the arrest on Monday of the outgoing Ivorian president Laurent Gbagbo in his Abidjan official residence, and in the final victory of his rival, Alassane Ouattara.

Simon Tisdall: Omar al-Bashir: genocidal mastermind or bringer of peace? (Guardian)

“What happened in Darfur, first of all, was a traditional conflict taking place from the colonial days. Under all [previous] national governments, there were tribal conflicts in Darfur, because of the frictions between the shepherds and the farmers. These kind of frictions increased because of climate change and the dry weather which also increased the movement of people and herds, which led to more friction.

“These traditional conflicts developed into an insurgency against the state and there was an attack on Al Fasher city [in north Darfur in 2003] and they occupied the airport and destroyed it. All planes in the airport were destroyed.

“It was a duty for the government to fight insurgents, but we did not fight the people of Darfur. We are not claiming that there is nothing in Darfur, there is a problem in Darfur, there are displaced people, but the number they are talking about, 2.5 million, this number is not right. We put the number at 70,000.”

Ofer Aderet, Yossi Melman: Netanyahu urged Olmert to initiate Israeli attack on Iran (Ha’aretz)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed willingness to join Ehud Olmert’s government in 2007 if Israel initiated an attack on Iran, a document from the Israeli WikiLeaks collection has revealed.

Informe Central presentado por el compañero Raúl / Central Report to the 6th Congress of the Communist Party of Cuba (Granma)
Hina Jilani, Christine Chinkin, Desmond Travers: Goldstone report: Statement issued by members of UN mission on Gaza war (Guardian)
Alan J. Kuperman: False pretense for war in Libya? (Boston Globe)
Maximilian Forte: The War in Libya: Race, “Humanitarianism,” and the Media (MRzine)

Tunisia | Palestine Papers | Egypt

Le Parti communiste ouvrier de Tunisie avec le peuple Tunisien qui
s’insurge : La voie du changement s’ouvre en Tunisie

This is a declaration of the Hizbu l-‘Ummāli š-Šuyū‘iyyu t-Tūnisī (Communist Workers’ Party of Tunisia). Rough translation of two paragraphs:

The Tunisian people needs a new national and popular democratic government, created by the will and the representation of its own interests. Such a structure cannot emerge from the current system and its institutions, its constitution and its laws. It can only be created on their ruins by a constituent assembly chosen by the people in transparent and free elections after ending tyranny. The task of a
Popular Council is the creation of a new constitution as the foundation of a democratic republic with its institutions and laws …

The Communist Workers’ Party … renews the invitation to a day-to-day coordination to support the popular movements and its concrete demands, on a local and the national level, so that the movement won’t fizzle out. These are some of the most important and urgent demands: stop the campaign of repression, free all prisoners, and hold accountable those responsible for the repression, the looting and killing. Abolish all restrictions that were imposed in the name of security, abolish all legal and practical restrictions of the freedom of expression, association and demonstrations.

There has been solidarity all over the Arab world.
Le Parti Communiste libanais salue la victoire historique du peuple tunisien (Al-Oufok)

And now there are big protests in Egypt (see Guardian and Aljazeera coverage, for example).

There’s also a lot of anger about the Palestinian leadership after some secret documents were leaked to the media:
The Palestine Papers (Aljazeera) / The Palestine Papers (Guardian)
Seumas Milne: Only authentic leaders can deliver a Middle East peace (Guardian)

It’s a study in the decay of what in Yasser Arafat’s heyday was an authentic national liberation movement. Try to imagine the Vietnamese negotiators speaking in such a way at the Paris peace talks in the 70s – or the Algerian FLN in the 60s – and it’s obvious how far the West Bank Palestinian leadership has drifted from its national moorings. …

What has been highlighted by the documents is not a picture of genuine negotiation and necessary compromise, but of a gross imbalance of power that can’t deliver peace, let alone justice. …

With the large bulk of its income coming from the US and the European Union, the PA’s leaders are now far more accountable to their funders than to their own people. And, as the records of private dealings between US and PA officials show, it is the American government and its allies that now effectively pick the Palestinians’ leaders.

Jean Shaoul: Great power rivalries over oil animate Sudan secession referendum / Großmachtrivalitäten hinter Unabhängigkeitsreferendum im Sudan (WSWS)
Ann Talbot: Sudan: A tale of blood and oil in Africa (WSWS)
Déclaration de l’ACTUS/prpe sur la situation en Côte d’Ivoire (ACTUS)

Max Blumenthal: The great Islamophobic crusade (CBS)
Lawrence Davidson: Show Trials for American Muslims? The New Radicals in Congress (Counterpunch)

Rob: Glenn Beck thinks (about China) outside the reality box (Blackandwhitecat.org)
Rob: Na Ying thinks it’s normal (Blackandwhitecat.org)

John Sexton: G7 set to be eclipsed by E7: PwC; (China.org.cn)
John Sexton: Origins of Haitian cholera in Asia: NEJM (China.org.cn)
John Sexton: Campaign group ‘disappointed’ with Coca Cola (China.org.cn)
John Sexton: Did cuddly Lang Lang dis the White House? (China.org.cn)

State building | Iran | Chomsky

Isabel alerted us to this article:
Alex de Waal: “Dollarised: The Political Marketplace”. In: London Review of Books 32.12:38–43 (June 24, 2010). Online version here (subscription only). The article is based on this lecture:
Fixing the Political Marketplace: How can we make peace without functioning state institutions? (PDF file; Christen Michelsen Institute)

Shamus Cooke: Dangerous Crossroads in World History: Obama’s New Iran Sanctions: An Act of War (GlobalResearch.ca)

When the UN refused to agree to the severe sanctions that the U.S. wanted, Obama responded with typical Bush flair and went solo. The new U.S. sanctions against Iran — signed into law by Obama on July 1st — are an unmistakable act of war.
If fully enforced, Iran’s economy will be potentially destroyed. The New York Times outlines the central parts of the sanctions:
“The law signed by Mr. Obama imposes penalties on foreign entities that sell refined petroleum to Iran or assist Iran with its domestic refining capacity. It also requires that American and foreign businesses that seek contracts with the United States government certify that they do not engage in prohibited business with Iran.” (July 1, 2010).
Iran must import a large part of its refined oil from foreign corporations and nations, since it does not have the technology needed to refine all the fuel that it pumps from its soil. By cutting this refined oil off, the U.S. will be causing massive, irreparable damage to the Iranian economy — equaling an act of war.

David Tresilian: Noam Chomsky: speaking of truth and power (Al-Ahram Weekly)
German translation by Andrea Noll: Die wahre Gefahr an Bord der „Freedom Flotilla“ (ZMag)

Israel is becoming extremely paranoid, overtaken by ultra-nationalist sentiments, and is acting pretty irrationally, from its own point of view. They are harming their own interests. My own denial of entry was a minor example of that. If they had just let me in to give a talk at Bir Zeit, that would have been the end of the story. In fact I wasn’t even talking about the Middle East. I was talking about the United States, and they knew it of course.