Middle East

With the re-introduction of the emergency law, the military junta is desperately trying to strangle the revolution and return to the “normality” of the Mubarak era. But the workers are on the move. The recent upsurge in strikes and protests could spell the end for the SCAF regime.

The euphoria amongst the Egyptian masses that followed the fall of Mubarak in February has disappeared. The hard reality of the situation – in which political, social, and economic conditions have barely changed – has set in. The revolution has not ended, however, but has, after a brief lull, transitioned from the streets to the workplaces. The working class in Egypt – the motor force of the revolution – is organising and is on the move.

Almost seven months after the fall of Mubarak, the revolution in Egypt is far from over. The old regime is still in power and the masses can feel the revolution slipping through their fingers. Everything has changed, and yet everything remains the same. However, the anger of workers and youth has not gone away as the recent spate of strikes indicates.

All the 223 oil workers at Shiwashok oil company in Kurdistan Iraq have begun an open-ended strike since 05:00 this morning, August 1, 2011, which has stopped the work of the entire field.

Friday 8th July saw the largest protests since the departure of Hosni Mubarak as tens of thousands took to the streets of Cairo, and thousands more came out to protest in other cities across Egypt, such as Alexandria and Suez. Material conditions have not improved for the workers and youth of Egypt, and Tahrir Square has once again become a visible epicentre of the revolution.

Dramatic events are taking place in Yemen. The rule of Saleh is clearly finished, and the combined powers of Saudi Arabia, the US, the EU and all that is reactionary is manoeuvring in order to crush the revolution. This, however, will not be an easy task. Now is the time to finish the regime! All that is lacking is a bold leadership that is up to the task.

The situation in Syria is reaching boiling point quickly and confirms our previous perspective that the regime is on its way to being overthrown. Last Friday, The Friday of the Children of Syria, saw a qualitative change in the revolutionary movement.

The last few weeks have seen an unprecedented public dispute between the president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the supreme leader Ali Khamenei. The dispute officially erupted over Ahmadinejad’s dismissal of Heydar Moslehi, the minister of intelligence who was fired by Ahmadinejad (officially he resigned himself) on April 17, but was then reinstated later the same day by a direct decree from Khamenei. Following Khamenei’s decision to reinstate Moslehi – that was done in a particularly humiliating manner first in a personal letter to Moslehi and then in a public address – Ahmadinejad embarked on an 11 day boycott of his cabinet meetings and many other official meetings.

The revolutionary uprising of the Syrian masses has left many among the Syrian left confused and perplexed. Many of the so called “progressives” and “lefts” have taken a negative attitude towards the revolutionary movements, in some cases going as far as repeating the propaganda of the regime regarding “an imperialist conspiracy”, “Muslim extremists”, and “agent provocateurs”. But all this completely misreads the situation.

In 1977 around 34 people were killed in Istanbul’s Taksim Square when snipers opened fire on the unarmed May Day rally. And between 1978 and last year May Day rallies were banned from being held there. That changed last year when for the first time after 33 years workers once more were able to gather in Taksim Square. Following on from last year’s lifting of the ban, this year’s May Day rally was the largest at Taksim Square since 1977.

The Syrian revolution has taken a significant and possibly key turn today after what has been a very bloody week. As thousands of protesters once again took to the streets, the regime has unleashed the most barbaric repression, no doubt gambling on the idea that total repression can stop the movement. But cracks are now appearing within the armed forces.

In this final part of the document we look at the state of the movement inside Iran, the weak and vacillating leadership of Mousavi, the reasons for the present lull in the movement and indicate the need for a revolutionary leadership capable of meeting the tasks of the Iranian revolution.

We have received two letters that give a very interesting insight into what is happening in Syria. In spite of the regime's combination of repression and concessions, the movement that initially began with the youth continues to build up and spread to other layers of society.

In today's [April 8] demonstration on Tahrir Square (Baghdad), the youth marched towards the bridge in order to cross to the Green Zone, and chanted the slogan of “Ousting the System”. The security forces – under the "General Commander of the Armed Forces" Mr. Nouri Al Miliki gave orders to detain and torture all the organizers of the demonstration. Division 11 of the Iraqi army (army intelligence) took pictures of all the demonstrators including the OWFI women. The same division used civilian cars to arrest tens of demonstrators into detainment.

On Tuesday, April 5, in Riyadh the (female) literacy campaign teachers staged a protest in front of the Ministry of Civil Services, demanding full time employment.

Things have been changing very rapidly in Syria, including some violent shifts in the mood of different layers of society. Last Friday, named the Friday of Martyrs, did not meet expectations in terms of the number of protesters, however we saw new towns join the protests as well as the Kurds coming out for the first time. Also some members of the Christian community joined the movement.

On Tuesday, Vice President Farouq al-Sharaa (clearly alive in spite of rumours to the contrary) announced the President was going to be making a speech which would "make the people happy". Tuesday night came and went, and nothing came from Assad. His media advisor, Buthaina Shaaban, came out and repeated that the emergency law would be repealed, without saying when.

Over a week ago there was a big protest held at the main office of Saudi Telecom (STC) in Mursalat (Riyadh) by workers at the company (Saudi nationals) while the Saudi Telecommunications Minister was on a visit to the company. The protesters were demanding an increment in wages, bonuses, overtime pay and other economic demands.

As the brutal reaction of the Syrian regime to the growing protest movement unfolded over the weekend, we received several letters from Syrian socialists that give some interesting insights into the size of the movement and the effects it is having within the regime.

On March 19, Egyptians voted by a large majority in a referendum in favour of a series of amendments to the Constitution. However, it would be wrong to see the results of this vote as an endorsement of the policy of the Army Council to contain the revolution and return to capitalist normality with as few changes as possible.

Events are beginning to move in the direction of revolution in Syria. Prior to today’s day of action we received this letter from a Syrian socialist that gives some interesting insights into the difficulties the regime is facing.

Following the regime’s brutal massacre of protestors on Friday, March 18, the revolution has moved forward in Yemen. The state apparatus has split, and most of the army has turned against President Saleh. After the repression failed to achieve its objectives, the ruling elite and the imperialist powers are desperately trying to find a “safe” alternative. But that will not stop the revolution.

From a spontaneous demonstration of 1500 ending with the interior minister himself apologizing to the crowd in Damascus, to thousands in Daraa facing live shots by security forces, to protests in the Kurdish areas: Syria is on the verge of boiling over into revolution.

The recent revolutions in Algeria and Sudan show that none of the contradictions facing workers, youth and the poor, that led to the wave of Arab revolutions starting in 2011, have been resolved. We republish this manifesto (written by the IMT during the first wave of those movements), explaining the tasks of the Arab Revolution, which are every bit as pressing and relevant today.

Last Friday was Iraq’s Day of Rage, where 70,000 came out on the streets in cities all over the country. Here we publish an account of what happened, that was sent to us by the president of the OWFI, the Organization of Women's Freedom in Iraq.

The wave of revolution that started in Tunisia is now also reaching Iraq, where the Kurdish areas had already flared up last week. But the protests are not limited to these areas. On Friday an anti-government rally named the Day of Rage, was organised in Baghdad and other cities with thousands taking part.

The mighty power of revolution has been demonstrated with the resignation of Mubarak. It has shown that the staunchest, most vicious and stubborn of despots can be overthrown when the masses enter the arena of struggle and their resolve becomes absolute. But the most unique feature of this movement is that even after the tyrant has gone it refuses to relent.

As we reported earlier, the situation in Iran is extremely tense. Most factions of the regime were confident that the mass movement of 2009 was now dead. But almost like lightning from a clear blue sky the demonstration last Monday shook the entire establishment, that was taken completely by surprise. Now it seems that the movement has provoked more serious cracks in the regime than we had anticipated.

There have been reports that an uprising has started in Sulaymaniyah, the capital of the Kurdish region in northern Iraq. Reports indicate that the security forces have used brute force to suppress the protests and nine or ten people have been shot and killed. We know that street protests have taken place on two consecutive days (16th and 17th February).

We republish here a statement from the Committee for the Defence of the Revolution of the south Cairo neighbourhoods of Maadi, Besatin and Dar el-Salam. Such CDRs were established during the revolutionary uprising which led to the overthrow of Mubarak and they exist in several Cairo neighbourhoods, but also in other cities, including the industrial centre of Helwan.

Since the mass demonstration organised by the opposition on Monday, a tense mood has gripped the streets of Tehran. The youth has been mobilised and great pressure has been mounting for the opposition to take further action. This has led to the call from an umbrella organization of the Reformist parties to stage a demonstration on Sunday, February 20, in memory of the two protestors who were killed on the demonstration last Monday. This could tip the scales and fully revive the revolutionary mass movement of 2009.

After almost a year of lull, the revolutionary movement that started after the presidential elections of 2009 seems to be resurfacing. This was displayed on Monday, February 14, when hundreds of thousands all over Iran poured out onto the streets responding to a call made by Reformist leaders MirhosseinMousavi and Mehdi Karroubi.

Despite appeals by the Army Council that strikes should stop, Egyptian workers, emboldened by the revolution, have continued to take mass action to solve their long held grievances. We publish here two reports we have received about the growing movement of the Egyptian working class.

The Egyptian military top brass have taken over the running of the country and, while they are promising a transition to “democracy” at some stage, they are more concerned in the short term about what they see as “chaos and disorder”. That is, not just the rallies that have gripped all of Egypt’s major cities, but something far more dangerous in their view, the growing strike wave.

An example of the militancy of the Egyptian workers is this statement issued by the higher coordination committee of the Petrotrade workers, calling on workers at the company for an open ended strike until their demands are met.

Contrary to what the bourgeois media claim, revolutions are not made by individual agitators or small groups. They are made by the mass of people and they are prepared for years by the decay of the old system which is no longer able to take society forward. On the other hand, when a society is ripe for revolution, that is, when all the contradictions have accumulated to a critical degree, a small force can play a large role in the events that are about to unfold.

The tyrant has fallen! As I write these lines, Hosni Mubarak has resigned. This is a great victory, not just for the people of Egypt, but for the workers of the entire world. After 18 days of continuous revolutionary mobilizations, with 300 dead and thousands injured, Hosni Mubarak's 30-year tyranny is no more.

History is indeed being written with the fall of Mubarak and as the whole of the Middle East and North Africa erupts in one revolutionary upheaval after another. This is also now having an impact in Iran as the lines are once again being drawn for a new round of battles since the eruptions that started one and a half years ago. The focus is now on the call for a demonstration on Monday, February 14.

There are situations in which mass demonstrations are sufficient to bring about the fall of a regime. But Egypt is not one of them. All the efforts of the masses to bring about the overthrow of Mubarak through demonstrations and street protests have so far failed to achieve their principal objective.

This month, we have seen the courageous people of the Arab world rising up and fighting for a democratic system of government. Also in Iran we continue to see rising struggles, especially in the form of strikes. They come at a time of severe cuts to subsidies to food and fuel, and are sure to continue as the pinch is felt more severely.

The masses have once again taken to the streets in the biggest demonstrations yet seen in Egypt. They call it the "Day of Departure". Already this morning Al Jazeera showed an immense crowd of people thronging Tahrir Square. The mood was neither tense nor fearful, but jubilant. The very instant Friday prayers finished the masses erupted in a deafening roar of “Mubarak out!” The few Mubarak supporters who were slinking on the streets outside the Square like impotent jackals could do nothing.

We have just received a statement by the revolutionary youth on Tahrir Square in Cairo. The marvellous movement of the workers and youth of Egypt is an inspiration to the whole world. It gives new hope to the exploited and oppressed, not only in the Middle East but everywhere.

One of the salient features of a revolution is that the masses conquer the fear of the state and repression. This has been graphically demonstrated on the streets of Egypt. At the same time the surge of a mass upheaval breaks the taboos in the psychology of the soldiers and the army begins to cleave on a class basis. A rare fraternity between the security forces and the masses, whom they are supposed to crush, develops as the revolution blossoms.

“The sky was filled with rocks. The fighting around me was so terrible we could smell the blood.” With these words Robert Fisk describes the dramatic events in Tahrir Square, where the forces of the Revolution met the counterrevolution head-on. All day and all through the night, a ferocious battle raged in the Square and the surrounding streets.

The revolution in Egypt is reaching a critical point. The old state power is collapsing under the hammer blows of the masses. But revolution is a struggle of living forces. The old regime does not intend to surrender without a fight. The counterrevolutionary forces are going onto the offensive. There is ferocious fighting on the streets of Cairo between pro- and anti-Mubarak elements.

We have received a Press Release from the Center for Trade Union & Workers’ Services in Cairo via Akram Nadir from Federation of Workers' Councils and Unions in Iraq about a meeting called to set up a new trade union federation in Egypt, which we publish for the interest of our readers.

The Great Pyramid of Giza has lasted for 3,800 years. Hosni Mubarak has lasted somewhat less, but he would like to survive for a little longer. The difference between his regime and the Pyramid of Khufu is that it is an inverted pyramid. All its strength is at the top, but there is only a tiny point at the bottom. The laws of gravity and architecture tell us that such a structure is inherently unstable. The slightest push can bring the whole structure crashing down.

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