In FRFI 237 (February/March 2014) we reported on a protest at Oakwood prison, saying: ‘Accounts of what actually happened in the latest incident on 5 January vary: G4S management claims it was an incident of “concerted indiscipline” which was brought under control without too much difficulty, while a prison officer from the “Tornado team” squad sent in to put down the protest has described it to the BBC as a “full-scale riot”.’
At the end of March the NHS deficit stood at £1bn; on current projections by the end of March 2016 it will be £2.5bn. The NHS is in financial meltdown, and despite a poll showing that 46% of the electorate regards the NHS as the issue that will decide which way they vote at the general election, all we get from the major bourgeois parties is smoke and mirrors.
In the year since the February 2014 coup against President Yanukovych over 6,000 Ukrainians have been killed in battle, 15,000 wounded and more than one million people displaced. The second Minsk ceasefire agreement between Ukraine’s government and its opponents in the south east of the country came into effect on 14 February 2015. However, the US and NATO continue to provoke conflict and are using Ukraine to target the Russian state. Trevor Rayne reports.
March 2015 marked four years of war in Syria. Despite their best efforts, NATO powers and their regional allies have failed to replace the government of President Assad with one more pliant to their objectives. They have succeeded only in wreaking massive destruction and suffering, and mobilising and strengthening brutal sectarian forces across the region – particularly the Islamic State (IS). Iran – formerly NATO’s main enemy in the region – has managed to gain influence. This was not NATO’s plan, and some in the ruling classes are now pushing for shifts in strategy. Splits in the US ruling class have come into the open, with a powerful section pushing for the US to develop its influence over Iran. From this perspective, destroying the Syrian government can wait.
The re-election of the racist war criminal Benjamin Netanyahu as the Israeli prime minister after his Likud party snatched victory from the jaws of defeat has created a political crisis. US President Obama clearly favoured the ‘change’ promised by the Zionist Union led by Tzipi Livni and Isaac Herzog, who looked to be winning the election, and was outraged at Netanyahu’s open racism and unrestrained rhetoric against Iran. At a time when US imperialism is building new alliances to refocus its strategy on controlling the Asia–Pacific region, Israel is in a difficult position. Special relationships don’t always remain special. The political landscape is shifting. But as ever, the unceasing US and EU-supported Zionist occupation means that the Palestinian people remain the real victims. The overwhelming majority of Palestinians are of course excluded from the ‘democratic’ process.