Lead story

Syria condemns ISIS attacks

by our Arab Affairs correspondent

SYRIA has condemned the ferocious ISIS attack on the predominantly Kurdish city of Kobane and pledged to provide relief aid to “reinforce its people’s steadfastness in the face of the terrorist siege” by the sectarian Sunni Muslim militia whose followers control large swathes of Iraq and parts of northern Syria.

Kobane, which is also known as Ein al-Arab, is part of the Syrian Kurdish autonomous region known as Rojava. It now faces the wrath of ISIS which has proclaimed its own “Islamic Caliphate” in the territory it holds. Taking the town would give ISIS an open border with Turkey making it easier to transport the convoys of arms and jihadist volunteers that cross over with the covert blessing of the Turkish authorities.

Kurdish fighters are struggling to halt the ISIS advance in the suburbs of the city on the Syrian-Turkish border while American war-planes, along with those of its Nato and Arab allies, have stepped up their strikes on ISIS positions to help the battered Kurds who have held off the ISIS onslaught for over three weeks.

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Marching in the rain against war

by New Worker correspondent

AROUND 2,000 peace campaigners braved the cold and wind last Saturday to march through London to protest at Britain once more getting involved in bombing Iraq and the threat that Britain might also follow the United States into bombing Syria.

Marchers assembled at Temple Place and marched along the Embankment to the Houses of Parliament where they turned and marched up Whitehall for a rally opposite Downing Street.

There were banners from peace groups — mainly Stop the War and CND but also Quakers for Peace and others — and hundreds of placards demanding: “Stop bombing Iraq; don’t attack Syria.”

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Human rights or Tory rites?

THE FAR-right challenge to the Tories from the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) has rattled the Conservative Campaign HQ. The Tories now say that they will scrap the 1998 Human Rights Act if they win the next election and replace it with a “British Bill of Rights” if a series of changes, including the right to veto judgments from the European Court of Human Rights, is not accepted. This would jeopardise Britain’s membership of the Council of Europe, which was created in 1949 and whose 47 members include all EU countries and others including Russia and Turkey.

The Tory plan has raised a storm of protest from their Liberal Democrat coalition allies as well as the small band of Europhiles, led by old guard Tory Ken Clarke, within their own ranks who see it as an attempt to restrict civil liberty in Britain and as a further step to disengage from the European Union.

They are, of course, right on both counts. It goes without saying that a Tory “bill of rights” would only have one purpose — to empower the courts to impose whatever the bourgeoisie want at any given time. Secondly withdrawing from the European Court would jeopardise Britain’s membership of the European Union because membership of the Council of Europe is a requirement for all EU member states.

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