Sunday, January 01, 2006

Suez, Eden and Spain

Peter Tatchell, at Labour Friends of Iraq in November (via Harry's Place):
Franco’s Spain and Pinochet’s Chile were tea parties by comparison to Iran’s Islamist bloodfest. Since the ayatollah’s seized power in 1979, nearly 100,000 Iranians have been murdered [...] In the four months following the June election of hardline President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, over 80 people are known to have been executed or sentenced to death. Under Iranian law, girls as young as nine and boys as young as 15 can be hanged. So far this year, seven children have been executed.
I know a lot of people were killed after the Iranian revolution, especially in the early years. We should, however, also remember that, according to Antony Beevor's The Spanish Civil War, 'the most widely quoted figure for executions and political killings by the conquerors between 1939 and 1943 is nearly 200,000.' At Castellón de la Plana, prisoners who requested permission not to attend mass 'were marched there with the others, then, when they refused to kneel during the service, they were hauled out and shot in the courtyard.' (P390-2)

 After the fall of Barcelona in January 1939 alone 'it is said that as many as many as 10,000 people were killed in five days.' (P367: it is unclear whether this is included in the earlier figure of 200,000.) Earlier, 'rearguard slaughter' took place in Republican held territory as well, but was far heavier in areas captured by the Nationalists: 'the figure for the war must exceed 100,000 and may be nearer to 200,000'. (P106-7) The economic consequences of the war and the settlement imposed afterwards were also disastrous: 'in the most depressed areas the infant mortality rate was higher than 50 per cent.' (P393) Some tea party.

There was a programme shown on BBC TV a month or so ago, about Suez 1956. Amongst the rather forced parallels that were drawn with Iraq 2003, it was said that Anthony Eden talked about 'regime change'. The archive footage they actually showed had him saying something more like, "We must not allow fascist aggression to go unchallenged: we know what happens when the world fails to stand up to fascism." (You can hear a different extract of Eden here.) 

Eden had good reason for saying this. According to Beevor again (P159-160), when the war broke out in 1936, Eden, as foreign secretary, handled the situation virtually on his own. And the British policy was crucial: 'The French government acted most loyally by us.' Eden ' "decided to announce that Britain would apply an arms embargo without waiting for other powers." This in effect meant denying arms to the recognized government and ignoring those going to the rebels [i.e. the fascists who eventually came to be controlled by Franco].' 

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