Reconsidering a Classic: How Europe Underdeveloped Africa

Reconsidering a Classic: Walter Rodney’s “How Europe Underdeveloped Africa”

The seminar on March 19, with commentators Pius Adesanmi and Paul Tiyambe Zeleza, focused on Walter Rodney’s influential and much debated book, How Europe Underdeveloped Africa, originally published in 1972. Rodney was a Guyanese scholar educated first at the University of the West Indies and then at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. His pioneering work focused both on the slave trade and on the European colonization of Africa. Rodney was also active politically in Guyana, where he was assassinated in 1980 at the age of thirty-eight.

Call for Immediate Aid to Syrians Dying of Starvation Due to Siege

Doctors, Faith, and Peace Leaders Gather at UN to Announce International Solidarity Hunger Strike for Syria, Demand Lifting of Military “Starvation Siege”

Photo by Maysun Aleina

On Friday, January 10, at 10:00 a.m. a working group of leaders representing the Syrian American Medical Society, the Syrian Nonviolence Movement and the Minnesota-based Friends for a NonViolent World will hold a press conference in the United Nations Plaza to announce an International Solidarity Hunger Strike for Syria, a major global campaign, and to demand the lifting of the starvation sieges of dozens of Syrian towns that are preventing hundreds of thousands of Syrians from eating or getting medical treatment.

To address the background of the siege, they will be joined by Kenneth Roth, Executive Director of Human Rights Watch and Dr. Annie Sparrow, an expert in complex humanitarian emergencies at Mount Sinai Global Health Center. Leaders representing interfaith and peace organizations will express their support for the hunger strike.

 WHEN:       Friday, January 10, at 10:00 a.m.
WHAT:      Press Conference about the International Solidarity Hunger Strike for Syria
WHO:         Doctors, Faith and Human Rights Leaders Representing the Syrian American Medical Society, the Syrian Nonviolence Movement, Friends for a NonViolent World and Other Organizations
WHERE:   Bahá’í International Community’s United Nations Office, 866 United Nations Plaza, Suite 120. The entrance is on East 48th Street, just off of 1st Avenue, on the same side of 1st Avenue as the UN. It’s the first building north of the UN gardens.
 
The speakers at the press conference will include:
  • Kenneth Roth, Executive Director of Human Rights Watch
  • Zaher Sahloul, President of the Syrian American Medical Society
  • Mohja Kahf, Member of the Syrian Nonviolence Movement & Professor of Middle East Studies at the University of Arkansas
  • Dr. Annie Sparrow, Pediatrician, Teacher in Complex Humanitarian Emergencies, Professor at Mount Sinai Global Health Center
  • Haris Tarin, Director of the Washington, DC office of the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC)
  • Rev. Chloe Breyer, Executive Director of the Interfaith Center of New York (ICNY)
  • Leila Zand, Fellowship of Reconciliation

The Battle Against ISIS

This is a little difficult to process for those infantile minds that think the Syrian revolution is “all al-Qa’ida”. The Free Army and the Islamic Front are engaging in battle against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria all across the north, while protestors across the country demonstrate against the al-Qa’ida franchise. Valerie Szybala writes a good summary:

The situation is changing rapidly in northern Syria as rebel fighters have launched widespread attacks against the al-Qaeda affiliated Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) in dozens of locations in Idlib and Aleppo provinces. The situation began on the night of Thursday January 2nd, when ISIS tried to storm the town of Atareb in Aleppo. Friday saw widespread protests across Syria against ISIS, even in locations in the south such as Damascus and Deraa, which is unusual. Concurrently, violent clashes broke out across northeastern Syria as rebel forces attacked ISIS fighters.
In addition to the ISIS incursion into Atareb, citizens and rebel fighters have been increasingly upset over ISIS persecution in northern Syria. One of the most recent incidents includes the abduction, torture, and killing of the Ahrar al-Sham member Dr. Hussein al-Suleiman (aka Abu Rayyan), whose mutilated body was found on Wednesday, January 1. Many of the protests on Friday included slogans such as “We are all the shaheed Abu Rayyan,” which alluded to the anger over his death. In at least one village, ISIS opened fire on unarmed protestors. ISIS also recently attacked media activists in the village of Kafrnabel, the “voice of the uprising,” which has become a symbol of the Syrian revolution for its stream of witty slogans and caricatures. There have also been violent confrontations between Ahrar al-Sham and ISIS in Maskanah, Aleppo in recent weeks.
Additionally, many Syrians hold the suspicion that ISIS is actually working with the regime, claiming that the Syrian military does not attack ISIS-held positions. These rumors have been flying wildly around social media sites in recent days as anti-ISIS sentiment bubbled to the surface, along with political cartoons and hashtags.
Actions taken against ISIS include the arrest of its fighters and commanders, negotiations for ISIS to leave certain areas, and violent confrontations. In many areas fierce battles between ISIS and rebel groups are still ongoing, and ISIS has begun using car bombs against rebel fighters. Chaos has reportedly engulfed Jarablus, which is the town which ISIS possibly had the strongest control over, with everyone including the Kurds rebelling against ISIS fighters who have started acting erratically according to sources in the area.
The three major rebel coalitions involved in the attacks on ISIS, the: Islamic Front, Jaysh al-Mujahideen, and the Syrian Revolutionaries Front, have all issued statements detailing their grievances with ISIS and making demands for ISIS to withdraw. These groups include Islamic factions, FSA-affiliated groups, and there are even indications that Jabhat al-Nusra is involved.
In response ISIS has reportedly pulled out of several towns that it controlled – including Atmeh and ad-Dana – without a fight, and is bringing in reinforcements from western provinces. This indicates that a large counteroffensive is imminent and the rebels of northern Syria may not have long to revel in their victories before ISIS hits back hard.
This fighting in Syria comes at the same time when ISIS has gone on the offensive across the region. In Iraq they have launched offensives to take urban centers. ISIS has also released a statement claiming responsbility for a deadly suicide bombing targeting Hezbollah in southern Beirut on January 2nd.
Although there have been clashes and disputes between ISIS and other rebel groups before in Syria, the scale of what is happening right now is unprecedented. This situation is still incredibly fluid and volatile. Further updates will be posted as the details become clearer.

The Syria Dilemma: A Critical Dialogue

This discussion took place last month at Columbia University. It was based partly on our friend Danny and Nader’s fine book The Syria Dilemma:

SPEAKERS: