| Friday 8th June 2007
| Issue 591
WAKE UP!! IT'S YER RUNNING ON AN OILY RAG...
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Story Links: Who's
the Baghdaddy | Heiligenhamm-Dam-Busters
| We Are Skint | Protection
Rackets| Gas Alert | SchNEWS
in Brief | Ball Barings | ...and
Who's the Baghdaddy?
Strikes in Iraq as US pours trouble on oiled waters
Iraq's 'government' has issued arrest warrants for the leaders of the Iraqi Federation of Oil Unions - on strike since 4th June. The oil unions are protesting against the new oil law (see SchNEWS 578) and for improvements to wages, health and other working and living conditions. The new 'democratic government of Iraq' acted with a degree of leniency and understanding familiar to any Iraqis who survived the Saddam years - in fact the prime minister, Nuri al Maliki, promised to quell any threats to Iraqi oil production with 'an iron fist'.
The strikes are aimed at shutting down the network of pipelines that distribute crude oil, refined petroleum and gas for export, with plans to escalate the industrial action if the government refuses to listen to their demands. The union leaders face arrest for 'sabotaging the Iraqi economy', a charge that seems a bit weak in face of an invasion and occupation that has seen oil production slump to 1.95 million barrels per day: less than half its peak in the eighties and less even than under the sanctions regime. Iraq, with the world's third largest oil reserves, actually imports most of its petrol from its neighbours.
Unions and strikes seem almost a quaint echo of a bygone age in a country where political pressure is usually applied by suicide car bombings and sectarian death squads. Iraq's oil workers, along with all Iraqis, face these dangers daily. Even those elites holed up inside the fortified seat of American occupation, the Green Zone, are no longer safe, after a suicide bomber penetrated its security to blow himself up in the parliament's cafeteria, killing several ministers.
The unions have tried to stay above the is-it-a-civil-war-or-isn't-it sectarian violence that is now the number one killer of Iraqis. They stand by the highly plausible theory that the US have fomented conflict between Iraq's religious and ethnic groups in order to maintain control of one of the world's most strategically important areas. Since the highly publicised 'surge', US soldiers are under attack up to 150 times per day and are taking over 4 casualties a day across the country, mostly from the Sunni minority insurgents that make up around one quarter of Iraq's population. The US policy in Iraq now seems like nothing more than the old colonial favourite of 'divide and rule'. As well as organising the government along ethnic/religious lines, the US occupation forces have encouraged the ethnic cleansing of Sunnis from mixed areas, whilst simultaneously cracking down on militias that guard Shia areas, allowing Sunni extremists to kill hundreds of civilians with multiple suicide bombings in crowded areas.
That very sectarian conflict fuelled by the US is now being used as an excuse for them to stay. From finding invisible WMDs, the task of the occupation forces has shifted to 'preventing a civil war'. Some of the smaller oil unions, affiliated with Iraq's pro-American political parties, claim the same, saying that if the Americans left then the secular trade unionists would be massacred by the Islamists.
This makes less sense to Iraqis on the ground however. The Maliki government has only token control outside the Green Zone, and southern Iraq (where the major oilfields are, and hence, oil unions) is controlled by competing Shia militias - most notably the hugely popular and vehemently anti-occupation Medhi Army of Moqtadr al Sadr and the Supreme Iraqi Islamic Council (SIIC), which takes a less hostile stance to the occupation due to its position as the largest and most powerful party in the Baghdad government. The SIIC was until recently known as the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq, and one suspects they were asked to change their name by yanks who no doubt found it embarrassing to have an ally with the words 'Islamic Revolution' in its title.
Surge And Destroy
Avid Fox/CNN news followers will no doubt have heard of the US military's 'troop surge'. The grand strategy of General Petreus, the Pentagon's new kid on the Baghdad block, seems to be: if you can't fix a problem, make it bigger. An extra 30,000 soldiers have been deployed and troops are being stationed in forward bases throughout Iraqi trouble spots, where they will be able to interact with locals and gain valuable 'humint' (short for 'human intelligence', something the Yankees, in a moment of unintentional honesty, admit to lacking) about insurgents and terrorists.
The reality is that these garrison outposts are surrounded by a hostile sea of locals, who perform regular searches/raids, smashing family homes and stealing possessions while searching for weapons and wanted people - basically doing everything they can to make their presence as unwelcome as possible. They make perfect targets for the insurgents, whose strategies are becoming bolder and more direct.
An attack claimed by the Islamic State of Iraq involved fighters
firing on a base before two truck bombs drove into it. In a bit
of terrorist jiu jitsu, fighters used the enemy's defences against
them - the first truck blew up the concrete walls protecting the
base, collapsing the structures on top of soldiers. The second truck
bomb hit the heart of the base and destroyed it. Ten US soldiers
were killed in that one attack; numbers which would have been exceptional
a few months ago but now, as the surge in troops leads to a surge
in US casualties, such numbers have become daily fare. Of course
there's no such meticulous record of civilian deaths, but if the
Lancet report is to believed then the number of people killed since
the invasion began may well be near the million mark.
Oil prices jumped up sharply last Wednesday as reports came in
that thousands of Turkish special forces had invaded Northern Iraq/Iraqi
Kurdistan to root out PKK Kurdish guerillas there. It turns out
that this invasion, alternatively denied and reported by the Turkish
military, consisted of some 150 soldiers who occupied a hilltop
for an hour. The Turkish government has been trying to get the US
authorities to do something (read: kill) with the PKK guerillas.
They've not met with the usual US enthusiasm for the 'War on Terror',
probably because the two Kurdish parties are the American's most
reliable allies and who, as Kurdish nationalists, can't be seen
to allow attacks on fellow Kurds without further damaging their
credibility amongst the people they supposedly represent. That credibility
is weakening anyway, mostly due to corruption in the party ranks,
and the two parties (the PUK and the DPK) have already fought one
civil war during the Saddam days that left 10,000 dead, with both
sides doing deals with Saddam at various points.
Kurdish people are getting fed up with having a choice of two
political parties that don't represent them (sound familiar?) and
are getting more and more vocal in their protests. Last August,
striking cement workers were shot and severely wounded when the
forces of the PUK opened fire on a picket line as the strikers demanded
the reinstatement of some 300 sacked workers.
Total lack of security means the US has not yet succeeded in cashing
in on Iraq's oil. Paul Wolfowitz's claim that Iraqi oil would pay
for Iraqi reconstruction seems as dead as his career. But for US
imperial policy it is not so important that they exploit Iraqi oil,
but that nobody else gets their hands on it - thus denying it to
global competitors like China, keen to have an energy policy independent
of the US system. In the words of London-based Iraqi oil union activist,
Rami Ramadani, "The Americans can't control Iraq, but they
can't leave Iraq." They are going to be there for a long time
and it isn't going to get any better. Unless of course the sleeping
giant of world anti-war sentiment wakes up and kicks oil driven
market capitalism into history's dustbin.
HEILIGENDAMM-BUSTERS- G8 REPORT
SchNEWS will be back next week with a more black-blockbusting round-up of the resistance against the G8 summit in Heiligendamm, Germany (i.e as soon as our roving reporters have finished choking on tear gas). This time round activists haven't been sitting on their hands in their convergence centres waiting for the inevitable hot air about climate change to spew forth from the G8 leaders (and for more agenda bending see SchNEWS 589), they've been out on the streets preparing a warm welcome for the bad men in suits...
Sat 2nd (June): 60-80,000 marched in Rostock in a large demo involving a range of left and anti-capitalist groups. After provocation from police, the Black Bloc hurled a few objects, which was a cue for police to escalate into indiscriminate attacks on all protesters with water cannons, tear gas and batons. As the argy-bargy went on, a concert with speeches continued nearby. There were some 164 arrests, with hundreds of cops injured. One eyewitness was reminded of the 'Make Poverty History' march in Edinburgh in the lead-up to the 2005 G8, where police were aggressive despite a fluffy, non-violent event. A Reclaim The Streets party was broken up when five units of riot police attacked the crowd. In Schwerin, anti-fascist mobilising against a neo-nazi demo was heavily repressed by police, after they'd banned both marches. The anti-fascists were surrounded by police and 150 were arrested, the nazis got away.
Sun 3rd: 5,000 strong march through Rostock under the theme of 'Resistance Is Fruitful', about issues of agriculture and food. During this largely peaceful event, the police provoked the crowd with stop-and-searches, and further arrests.
Mon 4th: Several decentralised actions around Rostock focused on migration and freedom of movement, including one at the city's Immigration Office. The main city centre demo in Rostock was met with aggressive policing, including snatch-squad arrests, and stop and searches of protesters in the town and the train station. A train full of Polish protestors was prevented from passing the German border under the threat of arrest, so the train was blockaded until anti-terrorist police broke it up, leaving protesters stuck at the border.
Tues 5th: 1,500-2,000 were at a demo against arm company EADS near Rostock. As George Bush arrived at the Rostock-Laage Airport, 400 protesters tried to block the road to the airport. The international G8 Alternatives Summit began in Rostock, with over 120 talks on subjects on environmental and social justice, going until Thursday.
Weds 6th: Roads to Heiligendamm were blockaded, with many breaking police lines to occupy points on the road and the security fence. The heavy police response included water cannons, mounted police and a flotilla of helicopters sending in support. There were also blockades around the Rostock-Laage military airport.
Thurs 7th: Overnight blockades of roads leading to the summit site. Many groups began their missions to get to security fence in the early hours of the morning, with a large number going from the Reddelich camp. By 8am, 70-80 had been arrested as the 105 road was barricaded, and by midday there were 2-3000 arriving from Reddelich and elsewhere to the west gate. Police came in with water cannons, tear gas and batons to break up a group of protesters on the road, and by mid afternoon there were 1000 at the fence, and 3000 in the fields nearby.
Back at the Anti-G8 convergence centre, 50-70 nazis arrived intending on attacking it, and were rounded up by police, who remained surrounding the centre. There was an overnight blockade at the east gate, which continued over another night, with hundreds going over to support it. Since Sunday there have been over 700 arrests.
* For running updates see www.indymedia.org.uk
WE ARE SKINT
Despite our rigorous 'overhead reduction strategy', which has seen the office having to buy its biccies in bulk, we're still skint. We've even had an efficiency drive which has seen us produce each copy of yer weekly SchNEWS on less than 100 cups of tea - an historic achievement by any standard. And we're still brassic.
Each month we get about £250 in book orders and donations. Occasionally one real generous soul bungs us a fat cheque, but we still struggle to pay the £250 rent. On top of that we spend around £50 for internet and phone, and another £150 mailing out SchNEWS. Then there's the fifty quid to keep our festival gear in a lock up and around £100 gets blown on stationery, computer bits, and those all important biscuits and tea bags. And let's not forget the hundred pounds spent actually printing SchNEWS. So that's around £250 income and £700 expenditure - no wonder the bank hates us.
So please help us out! You can make a one off donation or - better still(!) - send us money on a regular basis through our website using the evil corporate monster, PayPal. Why not send us cheques payable to Justice? or even some stamps to help with the mailout. We even accept brown paper bags stuffed with fivers at 5am in the morning if necessary... Get in touch with the office or see www.schnews.org.uk/extras/help.htm
As Brian Haw marked six years camped out in Parliament Square last week, John Reid has now added a new arrow to his seemingly endless quiver of laws for prohibiting legitimate protest, claiming that a mere exclusion zone around Parliament isn't enough to keep protesters at bay. Ominous black signs have appeared bearing the legend "Trespass on this Site is a criminal offence. This is a protected site under Section 128 of the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005."
Of course, the other sections of SOCPA already require the organisers of any protest within 1km of Parliament to give at least six days notice to the Police about their intentions (See SchNEWS 583). But in a double whammy new powers extending the existing SOCPA 2005 (Designated Sites) list have been granted to make it an offence to protest on the site of 16 new "protected" sites around the country, including the House of Commons, the MI5 and MI6s buildings, the MOD, GCHQ in Cheltenham, and most Royal residences.
Until now most protected sites were military bases and nuclear facilities e.g. RAF Fairford, RAF Menwith Hill and the usual focal points for anti-war protests. The new law does not outlaw protests outside the security fences of these places, but when the perimeter has been breached. Bunking over the fence in the wrong place can now earn you up to a year in the slammer. SchNEWS wonders how long it will be until any trespass is a criminal offence...
Protesters against the monstrous pipeline plowing its way through Wales (see SchNEWS 576) lost their eviction court case today. Authorities now have permission to evict the five month old tree camp in Brecon National Park. People are urgently needed on site, machinery has been moved on and eviction is expected from Friday or Monday. Ring the site phone 07903 152822 for information or for advice on what needs doing, i.e. legal support, observers etc.
* For more see www.fightthepipe.co.uk
* June 15th - Benefit Gig for 'Fight The Pipe' - Dub The Earth, Jah Crew sound system, donation entry, at The Brunswick, Park Rd, Gloucester, 7.30pm, tel 07966497410
SchNEWS in brief
JUNE: 9 - Enough! End the Israeli Occupation! An International day of action to mark the 40th anniversary of the Six Day War and Israel's military occupation of Palestine. They want tens of thousands of people to join in support of the Palestinian people. Meet at 1.30pm at Lincoln's Inn Fields for the march to Trafalgar Square. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or see www.waronwant.org
9 - Brighton Alliance Of Sound Systems on Brighton Beach. A free afternoon of live bands and performance. At the West Pier, Brighton from 12-8pm.
16 - 'It's broke - let's fix it! finding solutions to poverty, conflict and climate change' - All day conference aiming to take a positive approach to global problems at Imperial College, South Kensington, London. See www.mondediplofriends.org.uk
Inspired by yer SchNEWS and fancy getting your quill dirty? Twice yearly, the Institute for Anarchist Studies (IAS) offer grants to fund radical writers and translators around the world for essay-length works. For details and to apply see www.anarchiststudies.org
This weekend is the 4th World Naked Bike Ride against oil (and clothes) dependency. The ride aims to "draw attention to the elegant simplicity of the bicycle [so are the riders gonna strip all the paint off their bikes? - Ed], highlights the vulnerability of riders in traffic and celebrates the power and individuality of our bodies. It's 'as bare as you dare', so full nudity is not required."
Last year over 1,000 riders took part in four rides across the UK. This year there will be rides in Brighton, London, Manchester, Southampton and York Last year, riders in Brighton were threatened with arrest under section 5 of the Public Order Act for any display of "rude bits", however police in oh-so-liberal Brighton have relented and will allow full frontal nudity on a bike - so it'll be bare bums on bikes instead of on the beach in Brighton.
For more see www.worldnakedbikeride.org/uk
It's not all doom and gloom in Greenland, where the ice cap is busy melting faster than a choc ice in a microwave. OK, Greenland's ice alone adds up to 10% of the world's entire fresh water, and it's estimated that if the ice cap melts entirely, global sea levels would rise around 7m, flooding large parts of low-lying civilisation (and well before, seriously affecting the ocean currents that control the weather systems of Northern Europe)... Innuit fisherman are finding that with the mild winters - on average 5 degrees warmer than 15 years ago - they are able to fish much further upstream than previously, making their hunting season longer and more productive.
And enterprising local business types, eager to take their lead from how unflustered Western suits are attempting to 'manage' the emerging crisis, are rubbing their hands with greed instead of the need to keep warm.
With a more hospitable climate to offer, Air Greenland has just launched a new direct flight from Baltimore, hoping to attract rich Americans over for holidays to watch the icebergs collapsing and visit the new island (dubbed Warming Island) recently found freshly uncovered by the big melt. The irony of jetting in for what has been labelled "eco-suicide tourism" seems to have escaped them. We wonder how long it will be before we can read stuff about saving the planet printed on paper from pristine tropical rainforest, or buy t-shirts demanding an end to human exploitation made in repressive sweat shops... oh, er...
SchNEWS warns all readers - we won't financially collapse before capitalism does. Honest!
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