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"Stealth jets fight Daesh in first combat missions from HMS Queen Elizabeth":
Workers' Weekly Internet Edition: Article Index : ShareThis
"Stealth jets fight Daesh in first combat missions from HMS Queen Elizabeth":
A "Global Britain" is a Military Threat to the World's People
Congratulations to the Electricians:
Electricians Win Victory in their Fight for their Dignity and Rights
End the Blockade of Cuba Now!:
World Says No to Blockade as US Isolated in UN Vote
"Stealth jets fight Daesh in first combat missions from HMS Queen Elizabeth":
On Tuesday June 22, the government announced  that after spending "weeks working with its NATO allies", its newly deployed UK Carrier Strike Group had launched "stealth jets to fight Daesh (Islamic State)". These bombings and air attacks on Daesh are part of the US-led Operation Shader  in Syria, Iraq and the Levant region  with British and US F-35 jets carrying out these very first "combat missions" from HMS Queen Elizabeth. The Carrier Strike Group which left Britain for its deployment on May 22 and announced to be stopping at a "100 ports in over 40 countries" is heading to the Asia-Pacific. According to the report, the last leg of the voyage will take the strike group into what is described as themost serious part of the "journey through the South China Sea, waters which China claims more of than is internationally recognised". This is before taking part in provocative military exercises with Japan and "visiting" South Korea. Such hostile acts will not go unchallenged as Britain continues its military interference in the Middle East and then enters into a dangerous stand-off with China and the DPRK, countries which are rightly already opposing the hostile war preparations of the US in the Indo-Pacific, South China Sea, East China Sea and Yellow Sea. Britain is already carrying out hostile actions in the Black Sea against the Russian Federation and giving warships to Ukraine in a defence deal  all aimed at increasing the tensions further between Russia and Ukraine, which is not in the interests of either neighbouring country.
Emphasising that the UK Carrier Strike Group represents "Global Britain" as a military threat to the world's people, the government statement says that "it marks a change of emphasis. From exercises and international engagements, the Carrier Strike Group is now delivering its full might of naval and air power, putting the 'strike' into Carrier Strike Group and contributing to the UK's fight against Daesh." Defence Secretary Ben Wallace confirmed, "The Carrier Strike Group is a physical embodiment of Global Britain and a show of international military strength." He claimed that it would "deter anyone who seeks to undermine global security". This means that such sabre-rattling is not just aimed at Daesh, who they had also claimed to have bombed out of existence in 2019 , but it is aimed against any country who challenges the "rules-based international order" dominated by the US.
This is also calculated to accompany what the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, claimed in March was Britain's Indo-Pacific "tilt" at the heart of the national defence and security review. Such a "tilt" in war preparations has to be seen alongside the US "pivot" to Asia and Australia's Pacific "step up". It also coincides with NATO's 2030 agenda confirmed at the NATO Summit in Belgium on June 14 to extend its reach to the Asia-Pacific.
The government statement also emphasises that Britain is to be even more integrated into the US war machine than in the days of the invasion of Iraq in 2003 and the subservience of Britain's then Prime Minister Tony Blair to then US President Bush. The statement quotes Commodore Steve Moorhouse, Commander of the UK Carrier Strike Group: "This is also notable as the first combat mission flown by US aircraft from a foreign carrier since HMS Victorious in the South Pacific in 1943. The level of integration between Royal Navy, Royal Air Force and US Marine Corps is truly seamless, and testament to how close we've become since we first embarked together last October." Of course, what Commodore Steve Moorhouse fails to mention is that in 1943 Britain and the US were in a formal alliance with the Soviet Union against Hitlerite fascism, which was in the interests of all the world's people to defeat the fascist invasions and occupations, and that such integration of forces was against a world war and not, as it is today, preparations to unleash a new world war.
The latest actions of the UK Carrier Strike Group are revealing that once again the mask has slipped in the attempt to project post-Brexit "Global Britain" as part of a "rules-based international order" that is acting for "global security". In other words, the UK Carrier Strike Group represents "Global Britain" as a military threat to the world and integration of British with the US forces. It is a dangerous attempt to continue the Anglo-US "might makes right" war preparations in their rivalry with other powers and in opposition to the rights of the world's people, who wish to live without sanctions and war from the Anglo-US imperialist system of states. In Britain, the working class and people must demand that the UK Carrier Strike Group is recalled to British waters immediately and that all its US forces return to the US. The people should affirm the right to be of all nations and peoples of the world, and take a stand to renew international relations based on international law, declaring that international issues and world security is not settled by force of arms. Another world is a necessity for the people to live in a peaceful world!
1. "Stealth jets fight Daesh in first combat missions from HMS Queen Elizabeth" - Ministry of Defence and The Rt Hon Ben Wallace MP, June 22, 2021
2. Since Operation Shader began in 2014, the RAF has conducted more than a thousand air strikes over Iraq and Syria, using more than 4,300 weapons launched from Tornado, Typhoon and Reaper drone aircraft. By January 2019, the Ministry of Defence stated that "1,700 British air strikes had killed or injured 4,315 enemy fighters" in Iraq and Syria. The number of air strikes carried out in Iraq and Syria has been described as "second only to the United States". The operation is the most intense flying mission the RAF has undertaken in 25 years. Sources: Wikipedia and https://www.forces.net/
3. The Levant region comprises Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Palestine and Jordan.
4. "UK Giving Ukraine Sandown-Class Vessels in Defence Deal", June 22, 2021
5. "On December 19, 2018, President Donald Trump declared that ISIS was defeated and signalled his intention to withdraw all 2,000 US troops supporting the SDF in Syria. But the SDF continued its offensive and in February 2019 launched the final siege on ISIS forces in Baghouz, the last holdout. Baghouz fell on March 23, 2019, formally ending the caliphate's claim to any territory. The mass surrender of ISIS fighters and their families illustrated the lingering challenge: how to deal with jihadists to forestall its transformation into an insurgency in Iraq and Syria. The Baghdadi era of ISIS ended on October 26, 2019, when the leader was killed in a US raid in northern Syria." The Wilson Centre
Stop The War Statement - June 24, 2021
Stop the War condemns the provocative decision for the UK destroyer HMS Defender to sail into disputed waters in the Black Sea near the Crimea. HMS Defender sailed just 12 miles off the Crimean coast, despite warnings from the Russian forces that they regard these as Russian waters. Moscow's defence ministry said a patrol ship fired warning shots towards the destroyer and a jet dropped bombs in the path of HMS Defender.
The UK government has played down events and denied such a military incident, but Jonathan Beale, a BBC journalist who was on the destroyer, said that the ship was indeed harassed by the Russian military. It is clear that the crew of the Defender knew that their action was likely to cause a dangerous incident. Beale reported that, "the crew were already at action stations as they approached the southern tip of Russian-occupied Crimea. Weapons systems on board the Royal Navy destroyer had already been loaded."
UK government sources have confirmed that the ship's action was deliberate, saying that "it was not there to pick a fight but to make a point". In recent weeks the US and its allies have ramped up their intervention in Ukraine, inflaming an already tense situation which could erupt into a shooting war at any time.
The British government's use of a navy destroyer to back up US brinkmanship is completely irresponsible. It is a dangerous act of aggression that has nothing to do with defence or security. We call on the government to end its support and participation in NATO's provocations against Russia.
Craig Murray, June 24, 2021 (excerpts)
The pre-positioning of the BBC correspondent on HMS Defender shatters the pretence that the BBC is something different to a state propaganda broadcaster. It also makes plain that this propaganda exercise to provoke the Russian military was calculated and deliberate. Indeed that was confirmed by that BBC correspondent's TV news report last night when he broadcast that the Defender's route "had been approved at the very highest levels of the British government".
The Prime Minister does not normally look at the precise positions of British ships. This was a deliberate act of dangerous belligerence.
The presence of a BBC correspondent is more than a political point. In fact it has important legal consequences. One thing that is plain is that the Defender cannot possibly claim it was engaged in "innocent passage" through territorial waters, between Odessa and Georgia. Let me for now leave aside the fact that there is absolutely no necessity to pass within 12 miles of Cape Fiolent on such passage, and the designated sea lane (originally designated by Ukraine) stays just out of the territorial sea. [...]
So far as I can establish, the British are not claiming they were engaged in innocent passage, which is plainly nonsense, but that they were entering territorial waters off Crimea at the invitation of the government of Ukraine, and that they regard Crimea as the territory of Ukraine and Crimean territorial waters as Ukrainian territorial waters.
I want to impress on you how mad this is. The whole point of "territorial sea" is that, legally, it is an integral part of the state and that the state's full domestic law applies within the territorial sea. That is not the case with the much larger 200 mile exclusive economic zone or sometimes even larger continental shelf, where the coastal state's legal jurisdiction only applies to specific marine or mineral resources rights.
Let me put it this way. If somebody is murdered on a ship within twelve nautical miles of the coast, the coastal state has jurisdiction and its law applies. If somebody is murdered on a ship more than twelve miles off the coast, the jurisdiction and law of the flag state of the ship applies, not the law of any coastal state in whose exclusive economic zone the ship is.
In international law, the twelve mile territorial sea is as much part of the state as its land. So to sail a warship into Crimean territorial seas is exactly the same act as to land a regiment of paratroops in the Crimea and declare you are doing so at the invitation of the Government of Ukraine.
[...] the UK government legal position can only be that Russia is an "occupying power". It is impossible that the UK government legal position is that Ukraine is in "effective control" of the territory.
We need to see the legal advice provided by FCO legal advisers. It is simply not the practice in international law to ignore the existence of an occupying power which is a recognised state, and act with armed forces on the authority of a government not in effective control. The difference in British attitude towards Russia as an occupying power and towards Israel is tellingly different.
The legality of the British action is, at very best, moot. In realpolitik, it is an act of brinkmanship with a nuclear power and further effort to ramp up the new Cold War with Russia, to the benefit of the military, security services and armaments companies and the disbenefit of those who need more socially useful government spending. It is further an act of jingoist populism for the neo-liberal elite to distract the masses, as the billionaires' incredible wealth continues to boom.
Electricians have won a victory in the attempt to deskill their role in the construction industry. It has been a significant battle in the struggle of workers to oppose the disequilibrium that the unilateral attempt of the employers to deskill the electricians' role had created. The workers fought to maintain their dignity and defend their right to have control over their lives and the future of their livelihoods.
Employers at the construction site of the Hinkley Point C nuclear power station, owned by EDF Energy and partly financed also by the China General Nuclear Power Group (CGN), had reneged on an agreement to employ 500 electrical apprentices and had instead begun to enact plans to employ new grades of "Electrical Support Operative" (ESO) at the construction site, without any consultation.
The ESO grade has now been defeated. Electricians organised demonstrations, leafleted, took part in the occupations and banner drops every week for the past three months .
Against attempts of the big business cartels to force job losses and cut pay, electricians took heroic militant action. They shut down the Atomic Weapons Establishment, occupied company offices and blockaded major projects across the country .
Training standards for the ESO grade on containment and cabling had been developed by the Engineering Construction Training Board. These have now been withdrawn. The ESO has been removed and the grade of Electrical Labourer, with no installation duties, is now in its place.
The BBB contractor cartel, Balfour Beatty Kilpatrick and NG Bailey, say that are now committed to a programme that supports the development of fully trained qualified Electricians of the future through the SJIB/JIB (Joint Industrial Board) Apprentice schemes.
Electricians are not leaving matters there, however. Further negotiations are now to take place to develop the struggle and to have a standalone section within the agreement where certain standards take preference that include grading, training and apprenticeships.
Workers' representatives point out that deskilling is rife, with the use of false improvers and mates on the increase. Issues around the use of agency labour, direct employment, blacklisting and bogus self-employment need to be tackled, as well as their claim on the value they create through wages being too low.
Electricians and their union have rightly pointed to relations, exploitation, deskilling, and control over their lives. Electricians, like all workers, should have a degree of control over their lives and conditions, and serve their own interests instead of the owners, who desire increasingly total control in their social relation with the workers they employ.
The interests of workers depend in part on upholding the dignity of their work, which includes maintaining standards. Speaking in the workers' own name and asserting their will is certainly not what the owners of capital like.
The fact that electricians should have control over their lives and conditions also extends to the economy itself, in which the large infrastructure they along with others build, run, and maintain. Industrial and domestic energy supply, for example, are massive factors in the production of value in the economy; the method of producing energy and the use to which it is put are centrally important to the direction of the economy.
Electricians have been a contingent of the working class that has traditionally asserted their political stands such as factors pertaining to war. The Atomic Energy Agency and nuclear power and reprocessing have long been attached to militarisation of the economy, and electricians have always monitored this with an attitude towards democratic control and production for peaceful purposes. There is also ongoing concern in society over the safety of atomic energy.
1. For further background information and details of earlier actions, such as the February protest at the EDF Energy offices, where electricians promised to blockade the Somerset power station site if necessary, see:
"Electricians Fight for their Dignity and Rights", Workers Weekly, March 27, 2021
2. Video of electricians closing down the UK Atomic Weapons Establishment, forcing employers to the negotiation table:
"Like the virus the blockade suffocates and kills and
it must stop."
Bruno Rodriguez, Cuban Foreign Minister
The cruel and inhuman US blockade of Cuba reveals what the US stands for no matter which administration is in power. And that is the opposite of its claim to act in the name of the people, of its claim to uphold freedom, democracy and human rights. These claims are a complete fraud. In fact, as the Biden administration is revealing, it is the US which makes the rules in a so-called "rules-based international order", and then demands the rest of the world comply with the US interpretation. If they do not, the US is reserving the right to penalise and collectively punish non-compliance. This is creating ever-greater dangers for the world's people struggling to build a human-centred society. It is the US which is responsible for crimes against humanity, and then citing these crimes as values which humanity must share, while at the same time showing contempt for international law. This could hardly be more graphically illustrated than at the vote at the United Nations.
The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) once again overwhelmingly voted on June 23 in favour of Cuba's resolution demanding the end of the US blockade. Voting in favour were 184 countries, while only two voted against (US and Israel). Three countries abstained (Brazil, Colombia and Ukraine).
This was the 29th vote on the blockade, but the first under the administration of Joe Biden. Although the US president said that he would reverse some of the 240 new sanctions and measures introduced against Cuba by Donald Trump, there has been no change of policy since his election in January 2021.
In an updated report to the United Nations on the impact of US sanctions during April-December 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic, Cuba said that the intensification of the blockade during this time forced the island "to fight against the most terrible pandemic in decades and against the lengthiest and all-embracing system of coercive measures ever. There is no justification for such gargantuan cruelty."
Cuba Update, from the Cuba Solidarity Campaign, points out: "The cost of the US blockade against Cuba since its imposition almost six decades ago amounts to over 147.8 billion dollars (or $1.3 trillion if the depreciation of the dollar against the price of gold in the international market is taken into account). Between April and December 2020 alone, it cost the Cuban economy more than $3.5 billion. During this time the US government deliberately blocked a delivery of medical equipment and PPE to help fight COVID-19."
The Venezuelan representative at the United Nations declared: "The US uses the blockade as a weapon of war and collective punishment against a people...It is a crime which affects us all as it is a denial of our right to national sovereignty."
The Vietnamese representative said that the blockade ran counter to international law, the United Nations Charter, and was the most unjust and longest blockade inflicted against a country in modern history. "The policy is unjustifiable," they said.
Speaking on behalf of CARICOM countries, the Haitian representative said that despite the UN voting against the blockade every year, the Cuban people still suffer the impact of the blockade: "CARICOM calls for an immediate and unconditional end to the blockade. We consider the lifting of the embargo to be a prerequisite for any meaningful normalisation of relations between the two countries." Despite the blockade, Cuba continued to provide medical aid, and the Haitian delegate noted the doctors sent to Haiti and thanked Cuba for this "brotherly gesture of solidarity and cooperation."
China told the meeting that "US bullying will ultimately backfire", and Bolivia described it as "an act of genocide and of economic warfare".
The South African representative recalled Cuba's contribution to ending apartheid in their country and said: "Cuba's solidarity and internationalism is an inspiration to humanity. Despite the obstacles it faces it shows tremendous resilience. One can only imagine what more this small country could achieve were it able to fulfil its full potential and be allowed to develop."
"Unjustifiable, illegal and illegitimate at its inception, and six decades later this still holds true. It is an anachronistic policy of confrontation and isolation," said the representative from St Vincent and the Grenadines. "Following small yet significant progress under Obama - the blockade has been progressively and systematically intensified," she said.
Many representatives also stressed how the policy hindered Cuba's ability to realise the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
After more than twenty contributions from regional blocks and countries speaking in support of Cuba, Bruno Rodriguez, Cuban Foreign Minister, addressed the meeting.
"In 2020, Cuba, like the rest of the world, had to face the extraordinary challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic. The United States government used the virus as an ally in its ruthless unconventional war," he said.
The vast majority of the US people support the lifting of the blockade and their freedom to travel to the island, he said. He described the shortages that Cuba currently faces with people being forced to queue for food, and shop shelves being empty "despite a Herculean effort by the Cuban government", and lambasted the damage caused by the US measure as a "deliberate aim by the US to punish the Cuban people as a whole. It is a massive, flagrant and systemic denial of the human rights of the Cuban people."
"It is neither legal nor ethical for a powerful country to subject a small nation, for decades, to incessant economic warfare for the sake of imposing on it an alien political system and a government designed by it," he said. "Like the virus the blockade suffocates and kills and it must stop."
The United Nations vote once again shows that the US is isolated in its cruel and vindictive policy towards Cuba. The working class and people of Britain stand as one with the people of Cuba and the peoples of the entire world in opposing the crimes committed in the name of upholding human rights. The blockade must be ended now!
On the weekend of June 18-20, car caravans and other actions were held in 50 cities around the world as part of the global "Bridges of Love" project which calls for an end to the coercive measures against Cuba and the normalisation of relations between the United States and Cuba. The events were part of an international weekend of actions in advance of the United Nations General Assembly vote on the US blockade which took place on June 23.
In Britain, Cuba Solidarity Campaign (CSC) activists took action in London, Birmingham, Liverpool, Manchester, and Sheffield on June 19-20 as part of the World Caravan against the US Blockade of Cuba.
In London, CSC supporters cycled and walked along the Thames Embankment to Trafalgar Square, handing out leaflets which called for the Biden administration to reverse the 240 measures and sanctions against the island introduced under Donald Trump.
They were joined by Cubans resident in Britain who chanted, "The blockade is hate, send Cuba love." Since July 2020, monthly caravans of car and bicycle cavalcades have been organised under the banner puentes de amor meaning "bridges of love". The caravans have called for US President Joe Biden to allow families to be reunited by ending travel restrictions, opening the US embassy in Havana for visa processing and allowing them to send money home to families in Cuba. Such actions were restricted under Donald's Trump administration and have not been reversed by President Biden.
Supporters in Manchester and Cuban residents in the city organised a car caravan through Hyde. CSC groups in Liverpool, Sheffield and Birmingham also organised walking caravans to call for the end the US blockade
A particularly cruel aspect of the US blockade is that it prevents Cuba from being able to acquire many of the essential medical supplies it requires to address the health needs of the Cuban people, including the need to vaccinate the population against Covid-19.
In 2020, during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, US sanctions blocked a shipment of vital medical supplies from entering Cuba. It included more than two million masks, 400,000 rapid diagnostic kits and 104 ventilators. Cuba described it as "another twist of this genocidal, inhumane policy".
In May 2021, Oxfam, the international development agency, called for an end the blockade which it said "restricts access to suppliers of medicines, technology, food, and other essential products".
Manchester and Birmingham
East London and Liverpool
"The US blockade will have been in place for 60 years in 2022. It is an anachronistic relic of the Cold War which causes shortages and suffering in Cuba and has been repeatedly condemned by the United Nations. British friends of Cuba are taking to the streets this weekend to call for an end to this cruel and immoral policy. It is unconscionable that it has continued throughout the Covid-19 pandemic and has resulted in shortages of PPE equipment in Cuba, and hindered their vaccine roll-out," said Rob Miller, CSC director.
Friendship and solidarity groups in Europe, North America and Latin America have been raising funds with the aim of sending enough syringes to complete the 30 million that Cuba needs to fully vaccinate its population.
In Britain, CSC supporters raised almost £70,000 in the last twelve months to supply medical aid to help Cuba fight Covid-19 at home, treat patients and deliver their vaccination programme. The CSC has also worked with MPs to raise the issue with the British and US governments, and organised events to raise awareness of this policy.
(With material from Cuba Update, June 24, 2021)
World Caravan Against the Blockade - UK actions 19 June 2021 - YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dSIArSi18DQ
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