Monthly Archives: November 2015

ISIS: The Saudi Connection

Fascinating piece on Consortium News detailing Saudia and Gulf State financing of ISIS. Author Daniel Lazare points out that the ultimate beneficary of ISIS’s growth in Syria are those, like the U.S. and Turkey who wish to see the fall of the Assad regime in Syria.

The Saudi Connection to Terror

Exclusive: While Official Washington devotes much sound and fury to demands for a wider war in Syria and the need to turn away Syrian refugees, Democrats and Republicans dodge the tougher question: how to confront Saudi Arabia about its covert funding for Islamic State and Al Qaeda terrorists, writes Daniel Lazare.

By Daniel Lazare

How does ISIS pay for its operations? This is the key question as the war against the terror organization advances to a new level in the wake of the Paris atrocities. But the mainstream’s approved answer is part of the problem.

That approved answer, from many political leaders and assorted “terrorism experts,” is that ISIS (also known as ISIL, Islamic State and Daesh) funds its operations through a variety of illicit activities such as illegal antiquity sales, kidnapping for ransom, holding up banks, and peddling crude from oil fields it controls in northern Syria and Iraq.

The line, dutifully parroted by news outlets from The New York Times to The Wall Street Journal and the Guardian, is nothing if not politically convenient. If ISIS is truly self-supporting, then it’s essentially self-contained. If so, then all the Western powers have to do once they’ve sealed it off in its self-proclaimed caliphate is to send in the F-18’s and Mirage 2000’s to rain down smart bombs and blow it to smithereens.

This is the thinking behind President Barack Obama’s unfortunate remarks on Nov. 12. When ABC This Week host George Stephanopoulos asked whether ISIS was gaining strength, Obama shot back that it was simply not the case:

“What is true is that from the start, our goal has been first to contain, and we have contained them. They have not gained ground in Iraq. And in Syria they’ll come in, they’ll leave. But you don’t see this systematic march by ISIL across the terrain. What we have not yet been able to do is to completely decapitate their command-and-control structures. We’ve made some progress in trying to reduce the flow of foreign fighters.”

Contain and decapitate – this the essence of the U.S. strategy. Hence, the more the Obama administration tries to contain ISIS militarily, the more it puts out word that it is also self-sustaining economically.

But what if it isn’t? In fact, there is every reason to be skeptical of the U.S. position – and not only because American leaders have been claiming success for close to two decades in various struggles against Islamic terrorism even as it has morphed from a few scattered cells to a vast movement stretching from Nigeria to Bangladesh.

Exaggerating the Sums

So let’s start with antiquities. Last year, NBC News breathlessly reported that ISIS was tapping into a $7 billion underground market in order to finance its operations. “Priceless pieces of history snatched from illicit diggings or swiped from museum cases have become one of the four most common commodities –- next to drugs, weapons and human beings –- to be trafficked by smugglers,” it declared.

But the $7 billion total is dubious considering that the contemporary art market, entirely above board of course, amounts to only $2 billion. Black markets are all but impossible to measure for the simple reason that participants scatter like rats as soon as the lights go on.

ISIS’s role, moreover, is doubly difficult since it operates under deep cover. But we do know a few things, one of which is that antiquities do not move as easily as, say, corn or wheat. To the contrary, buyers are relatively few and far between, appraisals are required, and haggling is standard. With so many police snooping around, buyers are especially wary of getting caught funneling money to ISIS. So the role of antiquities would seem to be no more than ancillary.

The same goes for bank heists. Although ISIS was widely credited with making off with $400 million when it took Mosul, in northern Iraq, in July 2014, The Financial Times described the seizure as the biggest heist that “never happened.”

“We speak to the banks there all the time,” it quoted an Iraqi banking official as saying. “We have been informed that all are guarded from the outside by their own guards and that nothing has been removed from the premises of any banks, not even a piece of paper.”

Kidnapping for ransom also seems less than lucrative in an economy inside ISIS-controlled territory that is going increasingly downhill. Ditto local taxation. While illicit oil sales may play an important role, they are also probably not as profitable as believed. Assuming they were filled to the brim, the 116 tanker trucks that U.S. planes destroyed on Monday may have contained a hundred barrels of crude each, oil that, at today’s prices, ISIS would be lucky to sell for around $30 a barrel. Thus, the damage to the Islamic State’s “treasury” weighs in at a relatively minor $350,000 or so.

Moreover, ISIS is by now a very large operation. Troop-size estimates start at 20,000 to 31,500 (figures put out by the C.I.A. in September 2014) and go as high as 200,000, although 100,000 seems more plausible. Fighters reportedly earn anywhere from $350 a month to $800 or more. These are very imprecise numbers, but at the very least they suggest an organization with a monthly budget in the tens of millions.

So the proceeds from a hundred-odd oil trucks doesn’t explain how ISIS pays its bills. Nor does the speculation about ISIS’s antiquity sales. So if Islamic State does not get the bulk of its funds from such sources, where does the money come from?

The Saudi Connection 

The politically inconvenient answer is from the outside, i.e., from other parts of the Middle East where the oil fields are not marginal as they are in northern Syria and Iraq, but, rather, rich and productive; where refineries are state of the art, and where oil travels via pipeline instead of in trucks. It is also a market in which corruption is massive, financial controls are lax, and ideological sympathies for both ISIS and Al Qaeda run strong.

This means the Arab Gulf states of Kuwait, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, and Saudi Arabia, countries with massive reserves of wealth despite a 50-percent plunge in oil prices. The Gulf states are politically autocratic, militantly Sunni, and, moreover, are caught in a painful ideological bind.

Worldwide, Sunnis outnumber Shi‘ites by at least four to one. But among the eight nations ringing the Persian Gulf, the situation is reversed, with Shi‘ites outnumbering Sunnis by nearly two to one. The more theocratic the world grows – and theocracy is a trend not only in the Muslim world, but in India, Israel and even the U.S. if certain Republicans get their way – the more sectarianism intensifies.

At its most basic, the Sunni-Shi‘ite conflict is a war of succession among followers of Muhammad, who died in the Seventh Century. The more one side gains political control in the name of Islam, consequently, the more vulnerable it becomes to accusations from the other side that its claim to power is less than legitimate.

The Saudi royal family, which styles itself as the “custodian of the two holy mosques” of Mecca and Medina, is especially sensitive to such accusations, if only because its political position seems to be growing more and more precarious. This is why it has thrown itself into an anti-Shi‘ite crusade from Yemen to Bahrain to Syria.

While the U.S., Britain and France condemn Bashar al-Assad as a dictator, that’s not why Sunni rebels are now fighting to overthrow him. They are doing so instead because, as an Alawite, a form of Shi‘ism, he belongs to a branch of Islam that the petro-sheiks in Riyadh regard as a challenge to their very existence.

Civil war is rarely a moderating force, and as the struggle against Assad has intensified, power among the rebels has shifted to the most militant Sunni forces, up to and including Al Qaeda and its even more aggressive rival, ISIS.

In other words, the Islamic State is not homegrown and self-reliant, but a product and beneficiary of larger forces, essentially a proxy, paramilitary army of Gulf state sheiks. Evidence of broad regional support is abundant even if news outlets like The New York Times have done their best to ignore it. Some of the highlights of this money trail:

–In a 2009 diplomatic memo made public by Wikileaks, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stated that “donors in Saudi Arabia constitute the most significant source of funding to Sunni terrorist groups worldwide.”

(On Thursday, in a hawkish speech to the Council on Foreign Relations, Clinton, now the frontrunner for the Democratic presidential nomination, focused on her plan for military escalation, including a U.S. invasion of Syria to “impose no-fly zones” and secure what she called a “safe area.” But she added a brief and exasperated reference to the financial reality, saying: “once and for all, the Saudis, the Qataris and others need to stop their citizens from directly funding extremist organizations as well as the schools and mosques around the world that have set too many young people on a path to radicalization.”)

–An August 2012 report by the Defense Intelligence Agency stating that Al Qaeda, Salafists, and the Muslim Brotherhood dominated the Syrian rebel movement and that their goal was to establish a “Salafist principality in eastern Syria” where Islamic State’s caliphate is now located.

–The Times’s own report two months earlier stating that the C.I.A. was working with the Muslim Brotherhood to channel Turkish-, Saudi- and Qatari-supplied arms to Sunni rebels in Syria.

–Vice President Joe Biden’s remarkable admission at Harvard’s Kennedy School in October 2014 that “the Saudis, the emirates, etc. … were so determined to take down Assad and essentially have a proxy Sunni-Shia war … [that] they poured hundreds of millions of dollars and tens of thousands of tons of military weapons into anyone who would fight against Assad – except the people who were being supplied were Al Nusra and Al Qaeda.”

–A Times editorial just last month complaining that Saudis, Qataris and Kuwaitis were continuing to channel donations to Islamic State.

–Finally, in a front-page article on Friday, the Times belatedly acknowledged the devastating DIA report, a mere six months after it was made public by the conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch. But even then, reporter Ian Fisher managed to leave out the most important part, which is that the Salafist stronghold that the Sunnis were seeking to establish is “exactly what the supporting powers to the opposition” – i.e. the West, the Gulf states, and Turkey – “want in order to isolate the Syrian regime.”

In asserting that there are “many strands of blame” in the ongoing debacle, Fisher managed to criticize everyone except his own paper.

Money Talks

Why is telling the truth so difficult? A big part of the answer is money. Because the U.S., France and other Western powers are dependent on the Gulf states for oil and see the Gulf states as an increasingly important market for high-tech weaponry.

Just last month, the Pentagon announced that it was selling to the Saudis up to four Littoral Combat Ships made by Lockheed for a total of $11.25 billion, while last week it followed up with the news that it was selling the Saudis $1.29 billion worth of smart bombs manufactured by Boeing and Raytheon to replace those the kingdom has dropped on Yemen as part of its crusade against the Shi‘ite Houthis.

The U.S. thus supplies the Saudis with bombs with which to flatten Yemeni neighborhoods, generate more refugees and, in the process, strengthen “Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula” so that the U.S. can then send in drones to take out a few Al Qaeda operatives.

Everyone makes out – arms manufacturers, the Pentagon, Washington politicians like the Clintons who benefit from Saudi largesse, even Al Qaeda, which, while it may lose a few personnel, sees its power grow as a consequence.

Making too big a point about how money from Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states is flowing to groups responsible for the carnage in Paris would put at risk this mutual-benefit society. Jeopardizing this lucrative money cycle is something that Washington cannot bear to do, which is why the Obama administration prefers to make ISIS appear to be a self-supporting operation that can be crippled by such military actions as bombing a convoy of oil trucks.

While Europe explodes with xenophobia, the real issue is not the Arabs or Islam, but the “special” U.S.-Saudi relationship which may be even more sacrosanct than the relationship with Israel. It is an alliance that demands of the U.S. that it see, hear and speak no evil about its major Arab partner. Hence, Washington must cover up the real cause of the horrors ranging from the World Trade Center to the Bataclan concert hall to the Syrian civil war.

As long as this U.S.-Saudi “special” relationship continues, the bodies will keep piling up.

Daniel Lazare is the author of several books including The Frozen Republic: How the Constitution Is Paralyzing Democracy (Harcourt Brace).

Trump Becomes A Nazi

Readers might remember a post I wrote a couple of days ago in which I half-jokingly wondered when Donald Trump, currently leading the Republican race for nomination as the party’s presidential candidate, would demand that Muslims wear Yellow Crescents, in imitation of the Yellow Stars the Nazis forced Jews to wear in the 1940’s.

The post was inspired by an interview on Fox News in which Trump suggested mosques might have to be closed down by the federal government to prevent ISIS-style attacks.

Here was the post:

Trump3That was on Tuesday.

Later the same day, he gave an interview to Yahoo News and was asked whether the level of surveillance of Muslims he was advocating included building a database on American Muslims and “giving them a form of special identification that noted their religion.”

Trump’s reply, refusing to rule out the possibility, was: “We’re going to have to look at a lot of things very closely…..We’re going to have to look very, very carefully.”

How about a Yellow Crescent?

Remember, you read it here first.

By Thursday, incidentally, Trump had hardened up the database idea. Realising that he was on to a winner with America’s hard-right, working class, White population, Muslims, he declared, would ‘absolutely’ have to register.

If I was a leader of ISIS, I think I’d conclude that it has been a pretty good week.

Here is the relevant section of  a piece in The New Yorker by John Cassidy describing Trump’s latest outrage:

Trump1Trump2

RUC/MI5 ‘Culpable’ In Scappaticci Killings, Said North’s Police Ombudsman

When the North’s Director of Public Prosecutions, Barra McGrory announced recently that he had asked the PSNI to investigate security force collusion in the murderous activities of British agent cum IRA chief spycatcher, Freddie Scappaticci, more than one jaw dropped in surprise.

What was Barra doing, opening up this can of worms? From where had this alarming and astonishing display of boldness come from? Did he not realise this meant taking on the real forces of the state, not Billy and Sammy from Craigantlet but the spooky ones who, since Elizabethan times, have presided with arrogant disdain over the secret dealings of the kingdom? What was he taking with his breakfast cereal and can we all have some please?

Now, courtesy of KRW Law, the Belfast legal firm which is representing many of the relatives of Scappaticci’s victims, we now know the real background to Barra’s decision, and surprise, surprise it was not his idea at all.

Barra McGrory - kept a file on a consultation with Gerry Adams but did not disclose it to PSNI or his own prosecution service

‘Who, me? Hey man, no way!’ – North’s DPP, Barra McGrory – taking on MI5 and RUC Special Branch over Scappaticci case was not his idea….

According to KRW, whose clients had mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, husbands  – twenty-four victims in all – allegedly shot dead either by Scap, as he was known, or by other members of the IRA’s Internal Security Unit (ISU)*, aka, the spycatchers, or the nutting squad, the initiative for this move came from elsewhere.

It was, the law firm revealed, actually an investigation by the Police Ombudsman which uncovered the evidence suggesting criminality and collusion on the part of MI5 and the RUC, and possibly the PSNI as well, but because the Ombudsman is not authorised to investigate MI5, he passed his findings onto Barra McGrory, with the implied suggestion that he ask the PSNI to complete the job.

Here is what KRW says:

Last month we were informed by the Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland (PONI) whose Office has been undertaking an investigation into the activities of the IRA Internal Security Team and the role of the RUC, that an interim report into this linked complex investigation of 24 murders involving Scappaticci that commenced in 2013 and revealed evidence of culpability, complicity and collusion amounting to criminality of both RUC officers and members of the British Security Forces specifically MI5 has been sent to the Director of the Public Prosecutions Service for Northern Ireland (PPS)

Because PONI has no jurisdiction to investigation allegations against state agents other than RUC or PSNI personnel, he referred his interim investigation report to the Director of Public Prosecutions: the DPP has now requested the Chief Constable of the PSNI to conduct an investigation into the activities of Scappaticci and the culpability, complicity and criminality of RUC and MI5 officers.

Dissident groups have little reason to fear a visit from this guy.....

Freddie Scappaticci, with dark moustache, scans a Republican crowd – he headed the IRA’s spycatchers but was a British double agent and is alleged to have killed with the knowledge and approval of his security force handlers. One can only imagine the dirty tricks involved in this, innocents sacrificed to hide the guilty, little touts killed and the big ones spared – and so on.

That all sounds very re-assuring. The DPP has ordered the PSNI to take the probe to its logical conclusion and soon enough we’ll be seeing MI5 men, former RUC Special Branch officers and, doubtless, members of British Military Intelligence in the dock, answering for some of the most cold-blooded and calculated killings of the Troubles.

Except, as KRW points out, the PSNI Legacy Investigations Branch is small, too small for this task. It is also staffed by PSNI members who will have to investigate the wrongdoings of their colleagues – that’s known elsewhere as a conflict of interest – and it also has former RUC members, some of them ex-Special Branch, on their team, which doubles down on the conflict of interest difficulty.

Surely Barra must have known this as well?

The PSNI is therefore incapable, in terms of resources and the necessary independence, to do the job.

Solution? Get an outsider, a Stalker-type figure to take over the investigation or better still, as KRW suggests, hold a public inquiry into collusion.

Except the recent deal to keep the Stormont ship-of-state afloat and provisioned with enough dosh to keep its over-fed, and overpaid members and their special advisers employed, wasn’t able to craft a deal on NI’s blood-soaked past, or ‘legacy’ as the current euphemism has it.

So, where are the Provos in all of this? I would have thought that getting to the bottom of the Scappaticci affair, and the closely related Brian Nelson scandal, would be a high priority for the former freedom-fighters. But no, that is apparently not the case at all.

Instead, it seems, dealing with the past will be allowed to sink into the slough of indifference while welfare cuts and rollbacks in corporation tax take the spotlight. Austerity and fat cats come first.

It’s enough to make a cynic wonder if there is something in the Scappaticci and Nelson affairs that Sinn Fein, rather like MI5 and the RUC Special Branch, would prefer to consign forever to the dark, unexplored corners of the Troubles’ story.

* (The Internal Security Unit’s job was to unearth British double agents in the IRA but it is now fairly obvious that the ISU itself was possibly the most infiltrated unit in the entire organisation.)

In the meantime here is the full text of the KRW statement:

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Gerry Adams, Goldman Sachs And The Latest Stormont Peace Deal

Last March, around the St Patrick’s Day celebrations in New York, I published a blog post noting that during a lunch for Hillary Clinton, hosted by Niall O’Dowd, the editor/publisher of The Irish Voice, Goldman Sach’s CEO, Lloyd Blankfein, sought out Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams, one of the honoured guests, for a private chat.

The context was a revolt led by Greece’s Syriza party against the Anglo-German austerity policies in Europe and a presumption on the part of many who knew no better, that a Sinn Fein role in the next Irish government could plunge Europe into an even deeper crisis.

Adding fuel to the fire was an imminent internal Goldman Sachs report predicting that SF would take a radical line opposing austerity in Ireland, hitherto the most amenable EU member vis-a-vis austerity.

Lloyd Blankfein, CEO of Goldman Sachs - was 're-assured' after his chat with Gerry Adams

Lloyd Blankfein, CEO of Goldman Sachs – was ‘re-assured’ after his chat with Gerry Adams

Hence the interest of a worried Blankfein in what was really in Gerry Adams’ mind. Was he going to follow Syriza or the Spanish party Podemos and plunge Europe into an economic maelstrom with alarming implications for Goldman Sach’s profits and Blankfein’s annual bonus? Or not? This is what I wrote:

I understand that on the periphery of the Hillary Clinton lunch in New York hosted on Monday by Niall O’Dowd, the wannabe Irish ambassador for the next Clinton White House, Gerry Adams had a ten-minute tete-a-tete with Lloyd Blankfein, CEO of Goldman Sachs.

It would be sensible to presume that Blankfein wanted to get his own take on the leader of the political party which was about to be described as the greatest single threat to Ireland’s economic future by his Chief European economist, Kevin Daly.

The report, which warned that Sinn Fein in government could well take the same stance on Ireland’s debt as Podemos does in Spain and Syriza once promised in Greece, was published a day or so later so presumably Blankfein, whose Goldman Sachs empire was once memorably described by journalist Matt Taibbi as “a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money,” did not have the opportunity to influence Daly’s report.

A pity for Sinn Fein because according to reliable sources Blankfein later told friends that he had been “greatly impressed” by the Sinn Fein leader, and “re-assured” (by what he had heard).

gerryadams

It is in that context that I recommend that you read a statement issued yesterday by Eamonn McCann and the ‘People Before Profit’ party, critiquing the latest peace process deal between Sinn Fein and the DUP. I doubt whether Lloyd Blankfein, reading this, would think that Gerry Adams had misled him much back in March.

Read it here:

Eamonn McCann of People Before Profit:

“Sinn Fein has now joined the ranks of the austerity parties.”

Staying in government with the DUP took precedence over standing by the most vulnerable. The worst-off people in deprived places like Derry will be hardest hit. People Before Profit’s Eamonn McCann: “If the Coalition in the South introduced this sort of package, Sinn Fein would be elbowing its way to the front of street protest.”

Eamonn McCann: “This deal underlines the necessity of a radical alternative to the DUP, SF and other parties of the status quo.

Eamonn McCann - for Sinn Fein 'Staying in government with the DUP took precedence over standing by the most vulnerable'

Eamonn McCann – for Sinn Fein, ‘Staying in government with the DUP took precedence over standing by the most vulnerable’

People Before Profit will be offering this alternative in the forthcoming Assembly election. We need an election asap – and the election of people with different politics.

“It is typical of the deal that new money has been found for a fresh attack on social welfare “fraud”. Welfare fraud is tiny in the North.

The real scandal lies in the huge tax frauds of the big corporations and the super-rich. The Tories should have been told to sod off and sort that out before coming after people in Derry doing the double.

Under the deal, the Assembly will agree not only to the welfare cuts introduced in 2012 but also to the new cuts currently before Westminster. These will see a benefit cap of just £20,000 per annum for families with children – leaving many unable to meet basic needs. It is overwhelmingly children who will suffer.

The new deal includes cuts to all working age benefits, including Job Seekers Allowance, Housing Benefit and even Employment and Support Allowance – a benefit for people found unfit for work. The already miserly rate for each of these will be frozen for four years, while tenants in social housing will see a one percent year-on-year cut to their Housing Benefit. This is all on top of the cuts to Tax Credits, over which Stormont has no control.

Disabled people will see their incomes slashed, as Disability Living Allowance (DLA) ends and is replaced by the Personal Independence Payment (PIP).

The Department for Social Development has admitted that a full 25 percent of people currently receiving DLA will not receive anything under PIP, while a further 33 percent will receive a reduced award. Public sector staff numbers are already down by 5,210. A further 2,200 employees are to be pushed out before March 2016. By 2018, some 20,000 public sector jobs will have gone. Just like Labour in the South, Sinn Fein defends itself by saying the job losses are “voluntary”.

But when managements start putting on the squeeze, there can be a thin line between compulsory and voluntary. Moreover, the loss of so many jobs will have a devastating effect on hospitals, schools and wider public services.Eamonn McCann: “No genuinely anti-austerity party would have signed up to this.”

The DUP/SF plan also involves “challenging cost reduction targets for each of the nine new departments’”. That means more austerity. The agreement is full of the sort of coded neo-liberal language found in austerity programmes all over Europe. Take “structural reform” in health education, housing and justice – that’s code for outsourcing and privatisation. Despite the rhetoric about taxing the rich, DUP/SF have signed up to a reduction in Corporation Tax to 12.5 percent from April 2018.

This is a bonanza for big corporations. It means a cut of 7.5 percent in their official tax rate. But even this disguises the reality of enormous tax subsidies to the corporations. In the South, the official rate is 12.5 percent but the actual tax paid by corporations amounts to only 5-6 percent. We can expect similar scams in the North – meaning even less money for public services.

The only issue that SF propagandists can claim a concession on is the bedroom tax, which will not affect current tenants. This measure acted like a lightning rod for anger against the welfare cuts generally. Protecting current (but not future) tenants from the tax helped give DUP/SF political space to endorse the overall welfare cuts package.That might provide cover, but of the fig-leaf variety.Parties should stop talking out of both sides of their mouths.

In the coming weeks, People Before Profit will be challenging Sinn Fein members and supporters to take a different road.

Liverpool-Irish Trauma During 1939 IRA Bombing Campaign A Dark Portent For West’s Muslims

As the post-Paris conversation gets uglier, and anti-Muslim acrimony flourishes, in France itself, in Britain and especially here in the U.S., my mind went back to the anti-Irish hysteria that swept England during the early and mid-1970’s, prompted by an IRA bombing and shooting campaign that for its time, and in its sometimes indiscriminate targeting (no warning pub bombs for instance), was arguably the equivalent of today’s ISIS violence.

So I began a search on the internet for material from that period and to my surprise I could find none, or at least only passing references (perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised as the peace process has made the sensitive areas of British Hibernophobia and Irish Anglophobia off limits).

What I did find however was a fascinating and sharply written article about the unhappy experience of the Liverpool Irish during the IRA’s short-lived but very violent English bombing campaign of 1939, in the months preceding the start of the Second World War.

The work of Liverpool-based academic, Dr Bryce Evans, whose website can be accessed here, ‘Fear and Loathing in Liverpool….’ firstly sheds new light on the extent of the campaign, at least for me. For example, there was an IRA bombing incident in England ‘almost every other day’, according to Dr Evans, during the first nine months of 1939. Although short-lived, the IRA’s England Campaign was clearly a more forceful affair than is usually depicted.

But his work is really important because it chronicles the nightmare visited upon the city’s Irish population as fear and outrage spread in a city already infamous for its sectarian divisions.

In circumstances that Donald Trump might find pleasingly familiar, the Liverpool Irish became targets not just because of their suspected sympathy for the IRA, but because Irish immigrants were ready to work for lower wages than the natives who consequently were losing jobs.

A huge public meeting was held shortly after the first IRA bombings in the city in mid-January, 1939 and angry citizens demanded that an Irish bureau be set up “to monitor the city’s Irish immigrants and expel trouble-makers”.

To a chorus of cheers, a local councillor complained that if the flow of Irish migrants to the city continued, Liverpool would have to be renamed Dublin.

A month later as anti-Irish frenzy spread – encouraged by some racially salacious reporting by the local media – the newly formed Liverpool Irish Immigration Bureau began overseeing the forced expulsion of undesirables back to Dublin. Evans writes of poignant scenes at Liverpool docks as tearful relatives saw off expelled family members.

The Prevention of Terrorism Act notwithstanding, the IRA’s campaign of the 1970’s never produced an excess to match this.

Two potent forces, fear of, and anger at IRA violence combined with resentment at job losses blamed on Irish immigration to make life increasingly uncomfortable for Liverpool’s Irish population during 1939 and some in that community adjusted accordingly.

By the time a 19-year old Brendan Behan was arrested in Liverpool, on the day he arrived in the city, in December 1939 at the fag end of the IRA campaign, he was, Evans writes, jeered by a hostile crowd who shouted: ‘String the bastard up’.

Behan, who went to Liverpool on an unauthorised bombing mission and subsequently served time for IRA activity in Ireland, later wrote of the experience: “….some of them were Liverpool-Irish, trying to prove their solidarity with the loyal stock.”

Another IRA activist wrote of a change in the Irish mood as 1939 wore on: the Liverpool Irish, “…..now met him and his comrades with fear and sometimes outright hostility.

All this, and possibly much worse, is what faces Europe’s and America’s Muslim people.

The Lyrics Of ‘La Marseillaise’, For Your Delectation….

Here are the translated lyrics of the French national anthem, La Marseillaise sung with gusto at Wembley stadium tonight. I thought you’d like to see what they look like. This line might get your attention: ‘Let the impure blood, Water our furrows’.

Or this: ‘Theyre coming right into your arms, To cut the throats of your sons and women!’ Hmmmm. Let’s hope not, but I fear that is exactly what we’ll see.

The Song of Marseillase

Arise, children of the Fatherland,
The day of glory has arrived!
Against us tyranny
Raises its bloody banner
Do you hear, in the countryside,
The roar of those ferocious soldiers?
They’re coming right into your arms
To cut the throats of your sons and women!

To arms, citizens,
Form your battalions,
Let’s march, let’s march!
Let the impure blood
Water our furrows!

What does this horde of slaves,
Of traitors and conjured kings want?
For whom are these vile chains,
These long-prepared irons?
Frenchmen, for us, ah! What outrage!
What fury must it arouse!
It is us they dare plan
To return to the old slavery!

To arms, citizens,
Form your battalions,
Let’s march, let’s march!
Let the impure blood
Water our furrows!

What! Foreign cohorts
Would make the law in our homes!
What! These mercenary phalanxes
Would strike down our proud warriors!
Great God! By chained hands
Our brows would yield under the yoke
Vile despots would have themselves
The masters of our destinies!

To arms, citizens,
Form your battalions,
Let’s march, let’s march!
Let the impure blood
Water our furrows!

Tremble, tyrants and you traitors
The shame of all parties,
Tremble! Your parricidal schemes
Will finally receive their reward!
Everyone is a soldier to fight you
If they fall, our young heroes,
The earth will produce new ones,
Ready to fight against you!

To arms, citizens,
Form your battalions,
Let’s march, let’s march!
Let the impure blood
Water our furrows!

Frenchmen, as magnanimous warriors,
Bear or hold back your blows!
You spare those sorry victims,
Who arm against us with regret.
But not these bloodthirsty despots,
These accomplices of Bouillé,
All these tigers who, mercilessly,
Rip their mother’s breast!

To arms, citizens,
Form your battalions,
Let’s march, let’s march!
Let the impure blood
Water our furrows!

Sacred love of the Fatherland,
Lead, support our avenging arms
Liberty, cherished Liberty,
Fight with your defenders!
Under our flags, shall victory
Hurry to thy manly accents,
That your expiring enemies,
See your triumph and our glory!

To arms, citizens,
Form your battalions,
Let’s march, let’s march!
Let the impure blood
Water our furrows!

We shall enter the (military) career
When our elders are no longer there,
There we shall find their dust
And the trace of their virtues
Much less keen to survive them
Than to share their coffins,
We shall have the sublime pride
Of avenging or following them

Children, let Honour and Fatherland
be the object of all our wishes!
Let us always have souls nourished
With fires that might inspire both
Let us be united! Anything is possible;
Our vile enemies will fall,
Then the French will cease
To sing this fierce refrain:

To arms, citizens,
Form your battalions,
Let’s march, let’s march!
Let the impure blood
Water our furrows!

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North’s Parties Edge Towards Historic Deal……

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