Anne Ashford

Defeat: Why Bush Cannot Win the War in Iraq

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For George Bush "staying the course" remains the order of the day but for most people the war is already lost. Anne Ashford spoke to award winning Iraq correspondent, Patrick Cockburn, and Iraqi exile Sami Ramadani about the resistance, the roots of sectarian violence and about "exit strategies" for the occupiers.

On Christmas Day 2006 around 1,000 British troops reduced the Al-Jamiat police station in Basra to rubble. Their intended targets, members of the city's Serious Crime Unit, had already fled but the soldiers of the 19 Light Brigade blew up the building anyway. According to the Ministry of Defence (MoD) verbose press release, the police station "erupted in a tower of debris and dust, removing a powerful symbol of oppression and corruption from the Basra skyline". The Serious Crime Unit, British commanders claimed, ran death squads and kidnapping gangs.

Iraq: Filmmaking under occupation

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Maysoon Pachachi interview with Anne Ashford

Iraq is constantly in the news, but the coverage which dominates our televisions is one-dimensional. For Maysoon Pachachi, an Iraqi filmmaker, it silences the voices which matter most-those of ordinary Iraqis: "I was very struck during the first Gulf War, when I was watching hours and hours of media coverage. You never saw one ordinary Iraqi person expressing an opinion. And there are so many stories in Iraq, and so many years of being silenced."

Egypt: Rebellion against the Free Market

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For over half a century the small Egyptian village of Kamshish in the Nile Delta has been a battleground between Egypt's landlords and its impoverished peasant farmers.

The British-backed monarchy which ruled the country before the revolution of 1952 was propped up by a handful of rich landowners - some of them honoured with the title Pasha - who lived like feudal lords on their estates. Today children and grandchildren of the last generation of Pashas are returning as part of the neo-liberal onslaught on the world's farming poor. Shahinda Maqlid's husband, Salah Husain, was assassinated by the landlords in 1966. Today she is facing a jail sentence as the same landlord family which killed her husband tries to stop her campaign for peasants' rights.

Palestine: Beyond a Religious Argument

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The victory of the Islamist organisation Hamas in the Palestinian parliamentary elections in January has been greeted with varying degrees of hysteria by Western governments and media.

The US administration has led the charge, threatening to cut off aid to the Palestinian Authority (which Hamas now runs). The hypocrisy of the US government is plain - promoting democracy but refusing to respect the Palestinians' democratic choice. But even on the left there has been unease at Hamas's victory. Does this represent the "Talibanisation" of Palestinian politics? The voices of Palestinian voters, and the history of Hamas itself suggest otherwise.

Palestine: Goes with the Territory

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Palestinian activists speak to Anne Ashford about their strategies to end the current occupation.

The Palestinian movement today faces a paradox. The Palestinian cause has more support than ever, thanks to the growth of the anti-war and anti-capitalist movements, but conditions inside Palestine are more difficult than they have been for years. At the European Social Forum thousands of activists heard testimony from campaigners inside the Occupied Territories, such as Mustafa Barghouti from Ramallah who has played a leading role in mobilising international protests against Israel's apartheid-style wall around the West Bank.

Israel and Palestine: Questions of Leadership

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Two events in the last week of October threw the contradictory relationship between the Palestinian and Israeli leaderships into sharp relief.

On 26 October the Israeli parliament, the Knesset, voted in favour of Ariel Sharon's plan for unilateral disengagement from the Gaza Strip. A day later doctors advised Yasser Arafat to leave the government buildings in Ramallah where he has been besieged by Israeli forces for the past two years. His departure for urgent medical treatment prompted speculation over a struggle to succeed him among the Palestinian leadership.

The Politics of Terror: Who are Al Qaida?

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Bin Laden's network has become a byword for 'evil'. Anne Ashford looks at the reality behind the hype.

In the beginning was the base. There is nothing mysterious about the name of Osama Bin Laden's Al Qaida organisation. In Arabic, the word usually means a base, or military training camp. In its earliest form, Al Qaida was a network of bases for the foreign volunteers who joined the Afghan Mujahadeen in their holy war against the Soviets. Osama Bin Laden's family firm, a Saudi construction company, provided engineers who built a huge tunnel complex for the fighters in Khost with US taxpayers' money. It was 1986, and the CIA was keen to raise the stakes in the global war on Communism.

Arab Civilisation: Found in Translation

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Modern language, science and culture owes much to the Muslim empire of the early Middle Ages.

'We should not be ashamed to acknowledge truth from whatever source it comes to us, even if it is brought to us by former generations and foreign peoples.' The philosopher Al-Kindi, who wrote those words in 9th century Baghdad, understood better than most how much human history has been shaped by the interaction of different cultures. He was one of the thousands of Arab scholars employed to translate, analyse and develop Greek learning by the Abbasid caliphs, rulers of the great Muslim empire of the 8th to the 13th centuries.

Cairo Conference: Middle Eastern Promise

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The Cairo conference brought to a close a momentous year for the global anti-war movement. Over 1,000 activists from Europe, North America and around the Middle East met on 13 and 14 December at the Egyptian Journalists' Union headquarters to debate strategies for building worldwide resistance to imperialism and globalisation.

Egyptian campaigners told how thousands of protesters took over central Cairo on the first day of war against Iraq. British trade unionists spoke about building the local Stop the War Coalition groups which mobilised millions on 15 February. US activists described launching a mass movement to bring the troops home.

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