Middle East

Since 1 October, massive and radical protests have rocked Iraq. Starting (uniquely) this time in Baghdad, they have quickly spread nationwide. The Iraqi armed forces and police responded with extreme violence, resulting in the deaths of at least 150 people (some sources claim over 300), and the wounding of more than 6,000. However, the brutal response has not halted the protests. Since 8 October, they have subsided, but there is a new nationwide demonstration planned for 25 October.

Below, we publish an interview with an Iraqi-Kurdish activist about the situation in Iraq. Although we do not agree with all the conclusions drawn in the interview, we still think it will be of interest to our readers. The interview was conducted in August: that is, before the present protests, and before the forming of a new government in October. Nevertheless, it gives some very interesting background information about the processes going on in Iraq today.

After a phone conversation with Turkey’s president Recep Tayyib Erdogan last Sunday, Donald Trump promptly stated that they had agreed on a withdrawal of US troops from Kurdish areas of Northern Syria and given the green light for a Turkish incursion. As of yesterday afternoon, this invasion has begun.

President of Egypt, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, is not a man familiar with the concept of shame. Perhaps that is why Donald Trump recently referred to him as his “favourite dictator”. Or perhaps the US commander-in-chief was just trying to make him feel better as the last of his authority in the eyes of the Egyptian people was ebbing away. Sitting calmly with a microphone in hand at the impromptu youth forum hastily arranged at his behest, Sisi did what his closest advisors had begged him to refrain from doing. He addressed the nation.

A series of attacks on Saudi oil installations have set sparks flying once again in the Middle East. Only months after a last-minute cancellation of a US strike on Iran – and weeks after reaching out for talks without any preconditions – US President Donald Trump is yet again filling the twittersphere with threats and intimidation. Meanwhile, oil prices shot up by 20 percent and the ripple effects are already working their way through the sensitive oil and currency markets.

The mayoral election in Istanbul on 23 June 2019 represents a significant blow to the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP). The opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) won with almost 55 percent of the vote, bringing an end to the AKP’s dominance of the city, which lasted over 20 years. Despite being a local election, it has been become a rallying point for anti-AKP sentiments and ultimately a damning referendum on the current leadership of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Sparks have been flying recently between the US government and the Iranian regime. Last night, US president Trump ordered missile strikes on Iran, but then abruptly cancelled them. The incident was the peak (to this point) of weeks of tensions between the two governments. The aborted strike came after Iran shot down a US military drone somewhere near the Strait of Hormuz. The US claims the drone was in international airspace. Iranian authorities, however, claim the drone was inside Iranian airspace when it was shot down.

In a video recorded yesterday (20 June), Hamid Alizadeh, writer for In Defence of Marxism, discusses the rising tensions between the USA and Iran, with Washington accusing the Tehran regime (amongst other things) of attacking two oil tankers. It is clear that the bellicose Trump administration, along with their reactionary allies in the Middle East, are looking to thwart the power and influence of Iran in the region, in order to assert their own imperialist interests.

On Monday 17 June, the former President of Egypt, Mohamed Morsi, collapsed and died in court while on trial for espionage against the Egyptian state. Morsi, who suffered from diabetes and chronic kidney and liver conditions, had been imprisoned since 2013, when his presidency was overthrown by one of the largest mass movements in human history.

As with all of the elections in the past period in Turkey, the local elections which took place on Sunday 31 March were in reality a referendum on President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. But while Erdogan used to score victory after victory with ease, this time important dents were made in his image of invincibility.

On Tuesday (26 March), the old general, Gaid Saleh, appeared again on Algerian state television to read a statement, with great difficulty and many errors. He was keen to start, as usual, by warning the Algerian people that their protests “might be exploited by hostile local and external forces, which resort to suspicious manoeuvres aimed at destabilising the country”, without specifying who these forces are.

On 9 April, a new parliament will be elected in Israel. Benjamin Netanyahu, the current prime minister from the nationalist Likud party, has to face corruption charges. In order to hold on to power, Netanyahu is trying to lean on the support of several far-right parties. At the same time, Benny Gantz’s Kahol Lavan, a more moderate and liberal, but still nationalist alliance is leading the polls.

We are very proud to announce the publication of Reason in Revolt: Modern Science and Marxist Philosophyin Farsi. Since its publication, there has been huge interest in the book in all corners of the world. Over the years, it has been translated into Spanish, Italian, German, Greek, Urdu, Bahasa Indonesia, Portuguese and Turkish. Now, after three years of hard work by translator Saghar Sagharnia, the book will be available to a whole new audience, published by Zharf publishing house and available in bookstores throughout Iran. While the sanctions on Iran complicate matters, we are attempting to make it

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On 1 March, the Exit Theatre group in Tehran, Iran organised a very successful conference on the relevance of Marxism in the modern era as a part of their “Exit discussion” series. The meeting, which was focused around Alan Woods’ book, The Ideas of Karl Marx, was opened by screening the teledrama “Marx in Soho”, a 2018 production by Exit Theatre, written by American historian Howard Zinn.

A wave of protests is sweeping Iraq, with the latest taking place on 21 December in Basra. About 250 people gathered outside the temporary headquarters of the provincial council throughout the afternoon to protest against corruption, and demand jobs and better public services. A few weeks before, on the 6 December, 100 protesters were seen mimicking the recent French mass protest movement by wearing yellow high-visibility vests, when they gathered in front of the Basra’s council building and in Baghdad at Tahrir Square.

Almost one year since the most widespread mass protests in the history of the Islamic Republic of Iran, there is no sign that the mood of anger and resentment has gone away. While that movement died down due to repression and a lack of leadership or organisation, further protests – as well as strike after strike – have been taking place on a daily basis ever since.

On 3 December, 20,000 people in Tel Aviv protested against violence towards women. The protests followed the murder of two girls – Silvana Tsegai, 12, and Yara Ayoub, 16. This year, 24 girls and women were murdered in Israel, which is a sharp increase compared to the years before. For days, protests were going on and a women‘s strike was called for the following day.

On 2 October, Jamal Khashoggi walked into the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, to complete some paperwork so he could marry his Turkish fiancé. He was greeted at the door by a smiling Saudi official. He never came out again. Turkish officials insist they have evidence from inside the Saudi consulate that confirms that Khashoggi was tortured and killed there, his body dismembered and secretly disposed of.

A lot of fuss is being made about what one can and cannot say about the state of Israel. Especially virulent is the campaign against Jeremy Corbyn’s so-called “anti-semitism” in Britain. In reality this is a blatant attempt to silence any criticism of Israel and its discriminatory policies against the Palestinian people. In light of all this, Francesco Merli looks at the new law that openly discriminates against Palestinians living in Israel, officially reducing them to the status of second-class citizens.

The Turkish economy has entered a state of organic instability. A sharpening political conflict with the US, which has imposed punitive tariffs on Turkish steel and aluminium imports, has caused the Turkish Lira to plummet in value. At its nadir, the currency was worth 40 percent less than in January. The ‘stabilisation’ of the currency that followed merely meant that, for the past week, dollars could be exchanged for 30 percent more Liras than before the crisis began.

GERD workers

There is a crisis flowing downstream towards the mouth of arguably the world’s longest river. The Nile has been the source of Egypt’s water supply – and therefore the basis of agriculture in the country – for many thousands of years.

The protest movement in southern Iraq has continued into its second week. The protest broke out on Sunday 8 July over the government's inability to provide basic services such as electricity and clean water. The protesters are also demanding jobs for the local population.

On Sunday 24 June, Turkish voters were called to the polls by President Recep Erdogan to confirm his rule. With 52.6 percent of the total votes, Erdogan was re-elected as president of Turkey in the first round.

On Monday June 4, the Prime Minister of Jordan, Hani al-Mulki, was forced to resign. This came as a result of a growing mass movement, which has shaken the country to its core.

When the Iraqis went to the polls to elect a new parliament on 12 May 2018, the establishment was confident that they had the whole situation under control. All the factions were basing themselves on the presumption that the central government, having defeated IS was enjoying large scale support from the population. The final result shocked all bourgeois commentators revealing the exact opposite of what they had been expecting.

At a recent public meeting at Queen Mary University in London (hosted by the Marxist Student Federation), Hamid Alizadeh of marxist.com provided a history of the Kurdish national liberation struggle, looking at how Kurdish fighters have consistently been used as pawns by the imperialist powers in their belligerent games.

In the third episode of IMTV  the International Marxist Television channel, hosted by the UK section of the IMT, Socialist Appeal Francesco Merli provides a Marxist analysis of the situation in Israel and Palestine.

The spectacle of celebrations for the opening of the new US embassy in Jerusalem on Monday 14 May stood in stark contrast with the bloodshed in Gaza, where on the same day, 59 Palestinian demonstrators were killed and more than 2,700 injured by Israeli snipers. As we stated in a previous article, the mass resistance movement by Palestinians in Gaza for the right of return for the Palestinian refugees of 1948, and against the 12-year-blockade by Israel, has been growing despite the harshest repression by the Israeli Army.

Alan Woods editor of In Defence of Marxism discusses Trump's decision to withdraw from the Iran nuclear dealand reintroduce sanctions. In taking this step, the US President is throwing a lit match onto an already highly-flammable situation. In the process, Trump has stomped on the interests of the Europeans and instead allied himself to the most reactionary regimes in the region: Israel and Saudi Arabia. Far from bringing stability or security to the people of Iran and the wider Middle East, Trump's actions will only add fuel to the

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Yesterday, Donald Trump announced his decision to withdraw the United States from the Iran nuclear deal. In a speech filled with lies, distortions and crude hypocrisy he announced that his administration will reimpose the “highest level of economic sanctions” on Iran.

After a brief ebb over the course of the Iranian new year holidays, a steadily rising stream of local protests, which began in the aftermath of the nationwide protests in January, has surged yet again. Farmers of the Isfahan province protested for 50 days until Saturday 14 April. Starting from the small town of Varzane, the movement has taken its protests to the city of Isfahan and dragged in people from all over the east of the province.

The US and its ‘allies’, the UK and France have bombed multiple government targets in Syria in an early morning operation targeting alleged chemical weapons sites. Explosions hit the capital, Damascus, as well as two locations near the city of Homs, the Pentagon said. "The nations of Britain, France, and the United States of America have marshalled their righteous power against barbarism and brutality," President Trump said in an address to the nation from the White House at about 21:00 local time (02:00 BST).

While the attention of the international media is drawn to the threatened US airstrike on Syria, the Palestinian mobilisations for the right of return of refugees and the ruthless killing of demonstrators by the IDF (Israeli Defence Force) in the Gaza Strip continues.

Alan Woods, editor of In Defence of Marxism, discusses the Western response to gas attacks in Syria. Trump, Macron, and May have all been banging the war drums over the alleged use of chemical weapons by Assad. But the atrocities in Syria mask the Western imperialists' own role in propping up reactionary regimes in the region and perpetuating a never-ending humanitarian disaster in the Middle East. At the same time, their bellicose rhetoric acts as a useful distraction for these imperialist leaders, who are all facing criticism and opposition back home.

We publish Alan Woods’ guest introduction to a special edition of Farsi-language art magazine, Contemporary Scene, called Capitalism and Art. The edition contains a series of articles about Marxism and culture, many of which were previously published on Marxist.com.

Hamid Alizadeh speaks at a recent meeting of the LSE Marxist society about the political situation in the Middle East, from the Arab Spring of 2011 to the present day. Hamid provides a overview of the revolutionary and counter-revolutionary developments in the region over the past seven years. Today, the focus is on the civil war in Syria and the heroic struggle of the Kurds. But crisis is also brewing in Saudi Arabia, home to the main bastion of reaction in the region. Hamid discusses the processes unfolding in all of these countries, as well as the increasing contradictions facing American imperialism, which is no longer able to play its hegemonic role of the past.

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Presidential elections were held in Egypt last week, in accordance with a formal concession to the Egyptian Revolution in the 2014 Constitution. This was the first electoral test of President Sisi’s authority since he was officially inaugurated back in 2014. Despite the risible contempt for democracy demonstrated by Sisi and his regime at every stage of the electoral process, early estimates of the results indicate this is a test he has comprehensively failed.

Alan Woods, editor of www.marxist.com, discusses the hypocrisy of the imperialists regarding events in the Middle East, particularly the Turkish army's recent, brutal invasion of Afrin and the misery it is exacting on the Kurdish population.

On Sunday, the Turkish war machine, supported by so-called Syrian rebel troops took control of the Kurdish-majority city of Afrin in northeastern Syria. Of course, while the western media were busy condemning the Assad regime’s offensive against Islamist forces in the Damascus suburb of Ghouta, they paid no attention whatsoever to the brutal onslaught against the Kurds, who have never attacked Turkey.

Although the youth movement that shook Iran in late December and late January has died down, nothing has been solved. It is evident that the movement merely anticipated a far deeper mood of anger and resentment, which has been building up for decades.

Después de todo el alboroto, la ruidosa propaganda y las maniobras en Naciones Unidas, el llamado alto al fuego sirio se ha derrumbado de manera repentina, vergonzosa e irrevocable. En realidad, era un aborto que estaba muerto incluso antes de que naciera.

After all the fuss, noisy propaganda and manoeuvres at the United Nations, the so-called Syrian ceasefire has broken down suddenly, shamefully and irrevocably. In reality it was an abortion that was dead even before it was born.

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