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In the Rubble of US Imperialism

category mashriq / arabia / iraq | imperialism / war | feature author Sunday September 28, 2014 04:13author by Shawn Hattingh - ZACF - Zabalaza Anarchist Communist Frontauthor email zacf at riseup dot net Report this post to the editors

The PKK, YPG and the Islamic State

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The mainstream news is filled with stories about the horrors committed by the Islamic State (IS) in Syria and Iraq, and how the US ruling class and their state want to stop this for humanitarian reasons. But what has not been widely covered in the corporate media is why the IS came to exist; the real reasons for the US state’s new round of intervention in the Middle East; and how the US wants to isolate and likely destroy the only two forces that have been effective in fighting the IS: the Kurdish Workers’ Party (PKK) and the People’s Protection Units (YPG).

This article highlights how the US state created the conditions in the Middle East in which a right-wing reactionary force like the Islamic State (formerly known as the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham) could emerge. Along with this – and central to the article – it discusses how the US state is refusing to back the only two effective forces that are fighting the Islamic State: the Kurdish Workers’ Party and the People’s Protection Units. Indeed, this article is also written to express solidarity with the People’s Protection Units that are currently fighting a key battle against the Islamic State to hold onto the city of Kobani in Syria.

[Italiano]

See also:


In the Rubble of US Imperialism:
the PKK, YPG and the Islamic State

The mainstream news has been filled with stories about the horrors being committed by the Islamic State (IS) in Syria and Iraq, and how the United States (US) ruling class and their state supposedly want to stop this for humanitarian reasons. What has not been widely covered in the corporate and state controlled media, however, is why the IS came to exist; the real reasons for the US state’s new round of intervention in the Middle East; and how the US state wants to isolate and likely destroy the only two forces that have been effective in fighting against the IS: the Kurdish Workers’ Party (PKK) and the People’s Protection Units (YPG).

How the Islamic State arose

The IS’s rise from an obscure group to a force within the Middle East can be traced back to the US military’s invasion and occupation of Iraq in 2003. During the invasion the US military killed 1.4 million people and as an occupying force it brutalised the population. This naturally fuelled anti-US sentiments throughout the country.

In fact, the US occupation of Iraq was based on the tactics of divide and rule. To weaken the possibility of united resistance to its occupation, the US state supported autonomy for sections of the Kurdish people in northern Iraq under the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG), which is headed by a corrupt pro-US ruling class. It also promoted sectarian violence in Iraq to make it hard for people to unify against the occupation. This included backing a puppet regime – despite the fact it came to be led by hard-line Shia politicians that were close to the Iranian regime – that suppressed large sections of the Sunni population.

It is in this context that the IS (formerly known by various other names including Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham) began to grow as a force under the leadership of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Many people, especially from the Sunni population, joined the IS because it looked like the only organisation that was capable of defending Sunni people and resisting the US’s occupation and its puppet regime. Thus, the IS gained a support base despite being a brutal authoritarian organisation.

Indeed, the IS is an anti-imperialist and anti-US organisation, but from the basis of an extremely reactionary right-wing stance. It has long had the goal of establishing a totalitarian state under its dictatorship that incorporates large parts of the Middle East. To further its political aims and ambitions throughout its history it has committed atrocities, such as mass murder against opponents, including Muslims and even members of rival jihadist groups. To be sure, anyone identified as an opponent has been harshly dealt with especially those identified as waivers or non-believers in terms of its extremist ideology. Central to its policies too has been the entrenchment of the systemic oppression of women. Such misogynistic views have even translated into the IS using captured women as sex-slaves.

Initially, when the IS was starting to become a force in Iraq, the US state deliberately turned a blind eye to it, even though it had already committed atrocities, because it wanted Iraq’s population to remain divided. By the time the US withdrew from Iraq in 2011, the IS already controlled some parts of the country.

Intervention in Syria adds fuel to the fire

Not content with destabilising Iraq, in 2011 the US state used the mass protests and ensuing civil war in Syria to try and destabilise and weaken the al-Assad regime. It was, however, not supporting these protests, and subsequently sections fighting the al-Assad regime in the civil war, because it wanted to support those people calling for democracy in Syria, but rather the US state was doing it for its own imperialist interests. It was clear the US felt that the Syrian regime was too close to the Russian and Iranian states. In fact, the US did not want to destabilise the Syrian regime because it was brutal – which it was and is – but because the ruling class that controlled it were not fully compliant (for their own reasons) with the agenda of US imperialism in the region.

When mass popular protests erupted against the Syrian regime in 2011, which were part of the spread of the Arab Spring and based on the real desire to end the al-Assad dictatorship in order to create a better society in Syria, the US state moved to turn events to its benefit. As such the mass protests in Syria were not fermented by the US state, but it used the circumstances to try and further its own agenda and that is why it rhetorically supported them.

When the al-Assad regime brutally repressed the protests, a civil war ensued. Various armed groups emerged during the civil war. Some were jihadist, others were more secular. Some sections of the military, headed by corrupt generals, also split from the regime and as the civil war emerged they were also key in setting up the Free Syrian Army (FSA). The US state soon began supplying arms to the FSA.

The US state, however, also armed the various Islamic extremist and jihadist groups (despite their anti-US positions) who had entered the fight against the Syrian regime. Soon many members of these extremist groups began joining the IS (which at first was loosely affiliated to al-Qaeda, but later broke with it around political and tactical differences). Some of the most important fighting forces that joined IS were experienced jihadist fighters from Chechnya who were supplied arms by the US when they joined the war in Syria. As an outcome of this in parts of Syria the IS became one of the most potent military forces – capturing massive amounts of weapons including T-55 and T-72 main battle tanks and Scud missiles from the other forces it had been engaging along with gaining supplies and equipment of US origin from other jihadists who joined it – and by 2013 it had taken over parts of Syria, notably the city of Raqqa.

In Syrian cities and areas it controls, like Raqqa, the IS established its harsh dictatorship. Anyone seen as being an opponent was dealt with, which included mass executions. But the IS’s control is not only based on fear, it is also based on providing welfare. IS has effectively nationalised some industries, including the banking sector, while allowing other industries to remain in private hands. Central to its policies it has also imposed higher taxes on the rich. Using such funds it has rolled out greater welfare. Despite, therefore, being an ultra-rightwing force, through such welfare measures it has gained support amongst sections of the population in the areas it has come to control in Syria.

In 2014 the IS used the platform they have in Syria to launch new military operations in Iraq. During this new phase of its war in Iraq it routed the Iraqi military in parts of the country: capturing large amounts of the latest US weaponry that had been supplied to the Iraqi army. When the IS seized gas and oil-fields in Iraq that were important for the US ruling class, along with starting to militarily threaten key US allies in the form of the KRG and Iraqi state, the IS became a problem for the US state.

Backing the KRG and the Iraqi state

To ensure the gas and oil-fields captured by the IS are returned to its sphere and to try and stop the IS’s territorial advance in Iraq, the US state has been supplying intelligence and weapons to the KRG and the Iraqi state to fight the IS. It has also conducted airstrikes against the IS in Iraq and recently in areas such as Raqqa in Syria. The reality though is that the Iraqi military and the KRG have been ineffective against the IS. This has led the US state to deploy special forces to Iraq, supposedly in support of the KRG and Iraqi military, but in reality they have been engaging the IS directly too. Indeed, if the Iraqi state and KRG continue to prove ineffective against the IS going forward, the US may be forced to commit far greater numbers of its own combat troops to try and stop the IS.

Progressive forces

There are, however, progressive forces – the PKK and YPG – in Iraq and Syria that have proved effective, despite being ill armed, in combating the IS. The US state, nonetheless, is refusing to back the PKK and YPG against the IS: based ultimately on the progressive politics of these two groups.

The PKK has a long history of fighting a national liberation struggle against the US’s ally, Turkey, and is considered a terrorist organisation by the US. During this war, the PKK cadre gained vital military experience.

Recently, the PKK has been fighting the IS to stop it expanding into the northern parts of Iraq and committing atrocities against people in these areas. The PKK moved into Iraq from Turkey in August to stop the mass murder of Kurdish refugees by the IS. They have continued to hold key positions in northern Iraq

Despite initially being influenced by Maoism, the PKK, and especially its founder Abdullah Ocalan, have come to be heavily influenced by some of the ideas – although not all – of the libertarian socialist Murray Bookchin. Bookchin himself started out his political life as a Stalinist, but moved to anarchism before adopting a form of libertarian socialism based on communalism and libertarian municipalism. Hence, while the PKK was founded as a Marx-Leninist guerrilla outfit, by the early 2000s it was adopting left-leaning libertarian ideas inspired by key writings of Bookchin.

As part of its move towards a form of left-libertarianism, the PKK has become critical of the state as a structure, which it sees as oppressive, based on hierarchy, and as being the ultimate defender of minority class rule and capitalism. The aim of PKK, and the goal of its struggles, is for a revolution in the Middle East, which is why the US state deeply mistrusts it. As part of this revolution, and in line with its left libertarian orientation, it has explicitly stated that it does not aim to create a state, but rather a system of direct democracy that would be defined by people setting up assemblies, councils and communes that are confederated together. It has called this “democratic confederalism”. Although it is anti-state and sees the state as a key barrier to freedom and equality, and has a vision of a system of self-governance based on direct democracy, it however remains tactically ambiguous on whether the state should be explicitly smashed as part of such a revolution (as advocated by anarchists) or whether the state could simply be rolled back as part of an expanding direct democracy without necessarily smashing it.

Along with a libertarian form of self-governance, the PKK is anti-capitalist and aims to try and build an economy that is run with the aim of meeting people’s needs. Hence it aims to create a more egalitarian economy, but it has not stated whether such an economy would be based on worker self-management and the socialisation of the means of production and wealth. Thus, while heavily influenced by left-libertarian ideas and being a progressive movement (and having a very strong feminist current) it can’t be seen as fully anarchist.

The US state and ruling class, however, obviously do not take kindly to the progressive politics of the PKK because if a revolution based on the ideas of the PKK did take hold and spread in the Middle East, the US’s imperialist interests in the region would be completely undermined.

Influenced by some of the PKK’s ideas, but seemingly not all, people in northern Syria – in an area known as Rojava – began setting up councils and assemblies in 2011 in the aftermath of the uprisings against the Syrian regime. The assemblies and councils – sometimes referred to as communes – are confederated together with the Kurdish Supreme Committee acting as a co-ordinating body. While these structures are based on direct democracy, it is unclear whether the economy has been transformed in a more egalitarian direction. Indeed it is not clear whether or not the direct democracy in the political sphere has been extended to the economic sphere. Along with this, it is unclear – and not mentioned in reports – whether there has been any move to socialise or collectivise the means of production and wealth in Rojava (although there has reportedly been land redistribution). Nonetheless, the experiments with councils and assemblies in Rojava have been progressive (although also it seems under threat internally from the leadership of parties that wish to set up a state structure). What has also been progressive is that the liberation of women too has been at the forefront of initiatives in Rojava.

To defend the territory of Rojava a militia-based structure, the YPG, was established in 2011. Within the militia, women play a leading role. It has been the YPG that has been the most effective force in terms of engaging the IS in Syria. Indeed, the YPG militia have become experienced fighters within a short space of time as prior to defending the territory against the IS the YPG was engaged in defending it against elements of the FSA (although it now is in an alliance with the FSA against the IS), other jihadist groups and the Syrian state.

Throughout 2013 and early 2014, the YPG rolled back the IS and extended the territory of Rojava. In late September 2014, however, the IS launched another major offensive against the Rojava region. During the offensive the IS has unleashed as many as 40 main battle tanks against the YPG, who do not have significant numbers of heavy weapons. Currently the YPG is fighting a major battle against the IS to hold onto one of the key cities, Kobani, that is part of Rojava. With the recent US airstrikes against the IS in Rojava, the IS has also shifted more of its forces to Kobani.

For the US state, however, the YPG along with the PKK are seen as much of a threat as the IS. The reason is that, despite some limitations, they demonstrate that society could be organised by people in a more democratic way and they show how it could be possible to end capitalism, the state, patriarchy and class rule through mass movements and struggle. Hence the US state has refused to supply assistance to the YPG and PKK. As a matter of fact, the US state and Turkey have been allowing IS fighters to freely cross the border from Turkey to engage the PKK and the YPG. Along with this, the Turkish state has forcefully blocked people, mainly Kurds, wanting to cross from Turkey to join the fight against IS, especially now that Kobani is threatened. Along with this the US state now appears to be beginning to push the KRG to launch a war against the PKK and possibly even the YPG, despite the threat of the IS.

Conclusion

It is clear that the IS is a reactionary force that holds little hope for a better future for the Middle East. It wants to establish a dictatorship and is completely intolerant to anyone that differs from its politics. From the actions of the US state, however, it is also clear that it cares little about democracy or the atrocities committed by the IS. It too is not interested in a peaceful, free and equal Middle East and the only thing it offers is more misery for the working class of the region. In fact, for the working class in the Middle East it is only the politics and initiatives taking place through the PKK and YPG that offers any prospect – for the moment – for a better future. Perversely, this is also why the US state wants to destroy them.

Related Link: http://zabalaza.net/2014/09/25/in-the-rubble-of-us-impe...lism/
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Mashriq / Arabia / Iraq | Imperialism / War | en

Sat 25 Mar, 08:58

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150122_842113389166036_7294858716189015531_n.jpg imageVictory to the Rojava Revolution! 18:52 Sat 25 Oct by Melbourne Anarchist Communist Group 0 comments

Leaflet distributed today at a rally and march in Melbourne in solidarity to the Kurdish struggle.

rojava_1.png imageInternational Libertarian-Socialist Statement in Solidarity with the Kurdish Resistance 04:36 Sun 19 Oct by Johnny 2 comments

For some years now the Kurdish movement has been moving in the direction of libertarian ideas. While not an anarchist movement, this move is a sign that anarchist ideas of freedom and equality through solidarity, our ideas of horizontality and radical direct democracy and our radical critique against the State are not only valid and strong, but are also necessary for movements in order to break away from the authoritarian legacy within the left. It is our duty to express our solidarity with Rojava and the Kurdish movement, because they represent hope in this region and because they are the oppressed fighting the oppressors. Real struggles are never perfect but they carry diverse degrees of potential to being about a free society. Expressing our solidarity with the revolutionary movement in Rojava means we understand our role is to continue developing the core tenets of our ideas in order to inspire revolutions and revolutionaries all over the world. - Anarkismo.net Editorial Group [Italiano] [Ελληνικά] [Castellano] [Français]

daf_in_koban_10.jpg imageRevolution will win in Kobanê! 14:41 Thu 09 Oct by DAF 0 comments

It’s the 24th day of ISIS attacks on Kobanê. While people’s defending forces in all border villages are on human shield sentry for Kobanê against attacks, everyone, everywhere in the region we live, rised up not to let Kobanê fall. [Français] [Italiano]

anarchist_womendafkobane.jpg imageLatest news from Kobanê 19:35 Sat 04 Oct by DAF 3 comments

The Turkish state that is preparing to interfere to avoid the ISIS danger, is at the same time neglecting the offensive made by ISIS supporters within its borders, showing its politics of hypocrisy. [Italiano]

daf_in_kobane_3.jpg imageTurkish anarchists in Syria to support Kurdish people 14:37 Sat 27 Sep by Workers Solidarity Movement 5 comments

Istanbul anarchists along other leftists, feminists, and 'Gezi park types' have managed to cross over into Syria and the northern town of Kobane which is currently threatened by ISIS. [italiano]

daf_in_kobane.jpg imageIn Shingal, Kobane and all Rojava, ISIS is Dehak and the people are Kawa 19:35 Fri 26 Sep by Devrimci Anarşist Faaliyet 0 comments

In Kurdistan, people are fighting against ISIS, “the procreated violence” given birth by capitalism and the states that start wars for their own benefits. ISIS, subcontractor of the states that pursue income strategies on the region, is attacking people while yelling “islamic state!” and “holy war, jihad!”. People are suffering from hunger and thirst, getting ill, getting injured; migrating ad dying. They are still fighting in that struggle for existence. People are fighting not for the schemes and strategies around meeting tables, not for income, but for their freedom.

textPalestine-Israel: The joint struggle confront the transfer efforts of the Israeli settler colonialis... 14:49 Sun 21 Sep by Ilan S. 0 comments

Though Israel failed in its last open assault on the Gaza Strip, it still succeed in its transfer efforts. The drowning of a refugee ship with 450 mainly Gaza people reflect the partial success of Israel transfer efforts that for the never ended efforts since 1948. The siege on Gaza join the pressure on both Palestinians within the 1948 borders and that of the 1967. The big masses were driven out during the 1948 and 1967 wars, but efforts continued with all means possible. Some expelled by force some were moved within the border as pressure to "voluntary transfer". Within the 1967 borders, the Israeli efforts are targeted on the villages and Bedouins living in area C where the joint struggle to resist it is mainly focused in the South of Hebron Hills. And the joint struggle in Arkib, Dahamsh (1948 borders), and Bil'in, Ma'asara, Nabi Saleh, Ni'ilin, Qaddum, Sheikh Jarah (East Jerusalem) continue "as usual". [Italiano]

oabubakralbaghdadi570.jpg imageWhat do we think about the current crisis of Iraq? 20:25 Tue 24 Jun by Kurdish Anarchists Forum 0 comments

The Iraq crisis has been continued for decades while it has been under the power of Saddam Hussein or under the “current democratic Regime” since the invasion of 2003. There were no freedom, no social justice; no equality and also little opportunity for those who were independent from the political parties who were in power. In addition to existing brutality and discrimination against women and the ordinary people a very big gap was created between the rich and poor, making the poor even poorer and the rich richer. [Italiano]

textPalestine-Israel, History's wheels turn faster and scream as blood does not oil the axes enough* 22:23 Mon 26 Aug by Ilan S. 0 comments

The turmoil in our region expresses the melting of world history as we knew it. It accelerates before it reaches its end as the axes of the old order cannot hold it any more. The Zionist settler colonialist bridgehead of the developed imperial countries in the cradle of human culture at the east of the Mediterranean Sea is being eroded by the resistance of the indigenous inhabitants who are recruiting supporters from all over the world. The cracks in neoliberal global capitalism, which seemed to have reached its ultimate victory just a few years ago when the end of history was declared, are pointing to the real end of the history of egoistic and alienated class society. In the day-to-day struggle here, it is still hard to discern the cracks in the structure of the system, but you can already smell it in the clouds of tear gas at the weekly demos and feel the ground tremor under your feet. [Italiano]

textPalestine-Israel, Some activities the Anarchists Against the Wall initiative involved with lately 17:23 Tue 15 Feb by Ilan S. 0 comments

There are four main areas of struggles the AAtW activists are involved with: Joint struggle with communities that invite us to join, like Bil'in and other struggles against the separation fence. Other joint struggles against occupation and settler colonialists like Nabi Salih. Joint struggles with wider coalitions like the Sheikh Jarrah coalition and South Hebron. The fourth is within Israel, like prison and jail solidarity, Al Araqeeb and Lod. It seems that our confrontational and direct-action mode of struggle is being adopted by more and more Israeli radicals.

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imageIn retaking Mosul YPG/J and the Guerrillas must be aware of the hidden agenda Aug 04 by Zaher Baher 1 comments

This article is about retaking the city of Mosul that has been under control of Isis since 09/06/2014. At the moment the Iraqi government is in talk with KRG and US forces about making plan to liberate it. In my opinion this will be one of the bloodiest battle that could happen in Iraq since 2003 after the invasion. I believe there is a hidden agenda, when Isis is defeated, it will try to run away. The liberator forces may push them to withdraw towards Jazeea in Rojava. So it is necessary for YPG/J and the Guerrillas to change their tactic.

imageNATO against the Kurds: The battle for A’zaz Feb 24 by José Antonio Gutiérrez D. 5 comments

NATO, represented by the Turkish State, for the last two days has been bombing the Kurdish militias of the YPG that had advanced to the north of Aleppo towards the cities of A'zaz and Such Rifaat. The bombings, which have killed at least 23 civilians, are concentrated around the military airbase of Menagh, conquered in 2013 by a coalition of “rebels”, including Al - Qaeda (Al- Nusra Front) and others that later would end up as the Islamic State. That is a key point to supply the “rebellion,” which serves the petro-theocracy and the interests of the USA and the EU. Ahmet Davutoğlu said that he has informed the vice-president of the USA Joe Biden about the bombings. Although Biden has not publicly approved Turkey’s military intervention, he has neither condemned it nor taken any action to restrain the Turkish State, which would never act without the absolute certainty that the U.S. would end up supporting them. [Castellano] [Català] [Italiano]

imageKobane’s Second Phase: Resistance and Necessities Mar 04 by KAF 3 comments

After 134 days of fierce resisting and defending. The women, men and their combatants with the support and solidarity from millions of people around the world had finally defeated the vicious attack from ISIS and liberated their town Kobane. This was not just a defeat for ISIS and it’s dream to establish an Islamic Kelifat. But it had also destroyed the ISIS’s ally the current Turkish government’s dream to resurrect a Neu-othman empire.

The attack on Kobane was a proxy war launched by ISIS on behalf of the regional regimes and others against the bravery people in Kobane and the Democratic Self administration (DSA). [Italiano] [Français]

imageWhy is the world ignoring the revolutionary Kurds in Syria? Oct 12 by David Graeber 0 comments

Amid the Syrian warzone a democratic experiment is being stamped into the ground by ISIS. That the wider world is unaware is a scandal. [Castellano] [Français] [Italiano]

imageA ‘Revolution’ under Attack – the Alternative in midst the War in Syria Oct 04 by Ulrike Flader 0 comments

The most recent pictures of thousands of refugees fleeing from heavy attacks of ISIS and making their way from Syria across the border to Turkey, come from the area of Kobani – one of three cantons of the self- proclaimed Autonomy Region Rojava in Northern Syria.

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imageVictory to the Rojava Revolution! Oct 25 Anarkismo 0 comments

Leaflet distributed today at a rally and march in Melbourne in solidarity to the Kurdish struggle.

imageInternational Libertarian-Socialist Statement in Solidarity with the Kurdish Resistance Oct 19 2 comments

For some years now the Kurdish movement has been moving in the direction of libertarian ideas. While not an anarchist movement, this move is a sign that anarchist ideas of freedom and equality through solidarity, our ideas of horizontality and radical direct democracy and our radical critique against the State are not only valid and strong, but are also necessary for movements in order to break away from the authoritarian legacy within the left. It is our duty to express our solidarity with Rojava and the Kurdish movement, because they represent hope in this region and because they are the oppressed fighting the oppressors. Real struggles are never perfect but they carry diverse degrees of potential to being about a free society. Expressing our solidarity with the revolutionary movement in Rojava means we understand our role is to continue developing the core tenets of our ideas in order to inspire revolutions and revolutionaries all over the world. - Anarkismo.net Editorial Group [Italiano] [Ελληνικά] [Castellano] [Français]

imageIn Shingal, Kobane and all Rojava, ISIS is Dehak and the people are Kawa Sep 26 DAF - Revolutionary Anarchist Action 0 comments

In Kurdistan, people are fighting against ISIS, “the procreated violence” given birth by capitalism and the states that start wars for their own benefits. ISIS, subcontractor of the states that pursue income strategies on the region, is attacking people while yelling “islamic state!” and “holy war, jihad!”. People are suffering from hunger and thirst, getting ill, getting injured; migrating ad dying. They are still fighting in that struggle for existence. People are fighting not for the schemes and strategies around meeting tables, not for income, but for their freedom.

imageWhat do we think about the current crisis of Iraq? Jun 24 KAF 0 comments

The Iraq crisis has been continued for decades while it has been under the power of Saddam Hussein or under the “current democratic Regime” since the invasion of 2003. There were no freedom, no social justice; no equality and also little opportunity for those who were independent from the political parties who were in power. In addition to existing brutality and discrimination against women and the ordinary people a very big gap was created between the rich and poor, making the poor even poorer and the rich richer. [Italiano]

text6 days of protests to mark 40 years of occupation Jun 05 0 comments

For six days, June 5 to 10 - corresponding to the days of the 1967 War - a wide spectrum of events will take place, including exhibitions, demonstrations, theatre plays, academic conferences etc., in order to place a the occupation and the millions suffering under its yoke on the public agenda. June 9 and 10 had been declared as International Days of Protest Against the Israeli Occupation, and we will hold The main march and rally on Saturday, June 9.

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