Middle East

After a much criticized silence, Hosni Mubarak has finally made a statement regarding the protests. The initial reaction to the speech was one of anger. Mubarak’s speech was quite predictable, basically praising the poor, promising reform and what not. Even though these blatant lies that reek of condescension are enough reason to ignite the streets of Egypt with fury, it was Mubarak’s last statement that angered the people the most.

Day five of the revolution and the movement continues to grow in size and intensity. Last night’s curfew was ignored, and today there are more people on the streets than yesterday. A new curfew was called for four o’clock Egyptian time, but this is no more effective than the previous one. Even before the curfew came into effect, larger numbers of protestors were gathering on the streets.

Friday, 28 January 2011. The flames of anger are spreading through all Egypt and nothing can stop them. The fate of the Mubarak regime hangs in the balance. Today there were violent clashes on the streets of Cairo and other Egyptian cities as the struggle for power has entered into a new stage. The call went out for mass protests after Friday prayers. The regime warned that any protests will be met with the full force of the state. The stage was set for a dramatic confrontation.

The mass demonstrations demanding the resignation of President Hosni Mubarak have continued to rage since Tuesday across several cities, including Cairo and Suez. Debkafile's sources report that the situation in Cairo Wednesday was extremely tense after thousands of demonstrators poured into the streets and made for the Tel Talat Harb Square on the way to Liberation Square city centre, where 30,000 protesters demonstrated on Tuesday.

A tense calm settled over Cairo after yesterday’s street demonstrations. But if there is a truce it will not last long. Last night after some 15,000 protesters decided to stage a vigil in Liberation Square in protest against police violence. News reports speak of three people killed yesterday, of which one was a policeman. The real figure may be higher.

Dramatic events are unfolding in the Middle East. Today (Tuesday) Egypt was rocked by a wave of nationwide demonstrations demanding the end of the Mubarak regime, which has oppressed the people of this proud nation for nearly 30 years. This was the biggest protest movement Egypt has seen for decades. In Cairo and other cities thousands of anti-government protesters demonstrated on the streets and fought with police.

On August 21 the Bushehr nuclear power plant was officially launched. This marked a new stage in Iran's disputed nuclear programme. In the days preceding this event, former US ambassador to the UN, John Bolton, was quoted around the world as saying: "Israel has days to strike Bushehr" and further "diplomatically" hinted, “If Israel was right to destroy the Osiraq reactor [Iraqi nuclear reactor bombed by Israel in 1981], is it right to allow this one to continue? You can’t have it both ways.”

The tensions in Egypt are reaching boiling point. The crisis of the regime is reflected in a number of splits and growing opposition. The emergence of Mohamed Elbaradei on the political scene signifies an important change in the struggle against the regime. Until now, the masses have lacked a national point of reference to connect up the different struggles, but this is now changing. Revolution is developing just beneath the surface.

We received this note from the FWCUI in Iraq about the ongoing struggles to defend the right to form a union. The invasion of Iraq was presented as a way of establishing “democracy”. Well, one fundamental democratic right is the right to form a union!

We have received the following statement about the harassment of socialists in Turkey. We are publishing it as an elementary duty of internationalist solidarity.

On countless occasions since June 2009, we have seen the potential power of the Iranian people, with numerous protests that have brought hundreds of thousands onto the streets of Tehran and other cities across the country. The pinnacle of the movement so far was the two-day long protest during Ashura in late December 2009, when millions directly challenged the power of the state, occupying police stations and taking control of central areas of the capital. At this point it looked like the Iranian regime was on the verge of collapse.

The invasion of Iraq was supposed to establish a western-style “democracy”. But when it comes to basic trade union rights there is no such democracy. Union offices are raided, closed down, union assets are confiscated and union activists are victimized. Here we have the latest example of “democracy” at work in the Ministry of Electricity. But the workers are resisting as the photos provided here demonstrate.

On the anniversary of last year’s rigged elections in Iran, there were demonstrations on the streets of Iranian cities, in particular in Tehran. But while the youth in particular organised for the day, the so-called “leaders” like Mousavi did what they could to weaken the movement by declaring at the last minute that he was calling off the rallies. This highlights one very important factor: lack of leadership and organisation. That is what is now being discussed in many underground circles and among exiles.

Last month’s killing of the journalist Sardasht Osman in the city of Mosul in northern Iraq was clearly aimed at silencing dissent under the Barzani regime that controls the Kurdish area of the country. It also highlights the limits of this bourgeois regime and the need for a socialist perspective in the region.

Last year a powerful movement erupted in Iran that shook the hated Islamic fundamentalist regime to its very foundations. All the conditions were present for a successful revolutionary overthrow of the regime. What was lacking, however, was the active participation of the working class as an organised force and, most importantly, a conscious, revolutionary leadership of the movement.

The Ashura uprising marked the beginning of a new phase in the movement of the Iranian masses that started last June. At the time we wrote that a point of no return had been crossed and that it was becoming increasingly apparent for vast active layers of the masses that the movement had to first of all topple the Islamic Republic with its state apparatus and military machinery. Ironically, the so called green movement have been seemingly in a lull ever since.

As we reported earlier several Kurdish based leftist organisations called for a general strike in Iranian Kurdistan on May 13 to protest the sudden execution of 5 Kurdish labour activists. The executions, as a part of a general wave of oppression by the Tehran regime, was clearly intended to use the temporary lull in the mass movement to intimidate the Iranian masses and get the upper hand in the revolutionary struggles that have been developing the since last June. But as seen many times before in times of revolution, the whip of the counter-revolution can serve to arouse the masses more than pushing them back.

A few days ago the hated Islamic Republic of Iran executed five militant youth. Komalah, the Kurdistan Organization of the Communist Party of Iran, has called for a general strike throughout Iranian Kurdistan. It is a call that the IMT fully supports. The regime can only be brought down by the mass action of the workers and the actions in Kurdistan should be spread to the whole of Iran, involving the whole of the working class.

With some delay we received this report on activities in Iran on May Day. Our readers will see that there was a sizeable level of activity on the day, but most importantly that the key issue of the role of the working class is being discussed widely among activists and workers and youth in general.

The first day of spring marks the beginning of the Iranian New Year, which is celebrated with bonfires, fireworks and dancing in the streets. This year, however, there was something new in the celebrations. The masses used the celebrations to express openly their hatred of the Islamic regime, in spite of attempt by the police to stop this.

The Syrian regime has been systematically harassing Communist activists. Here we publish an appeal against the latest arrests. Please send in solidarity messages and protest messages to the Syrian authorities. We provide a model letter and details of local Syrian embassies.

We publish here some more solidarity letters we have received and passed on to the Tekel workers in Turkey. The courageous struggle has now gone on for more than 60 days and put huge pressure on the Turkish government. The letters from workers and trade unionists from all over the world are a great source of inspiration in order not to give in but fight until the victory. Please keep on sending them!

A delegation of German workers from several trade unions recently visited the Tekel workers in Turkey to express to them their support and solidarity. Here we publish a report of the event which show the tremendous impact the Turkish and Kurdish workers in struggle had on these German workers. True workers internationalism in action.

The European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) is supporting the Tekel Workers and has called for an international day of solidarity for this coming February 20. Send more messages of solidarity and actively participate wherever you can in the day of solidarity.

We have received some brief updates on the situation being faced by the Tekel workers in Turkey. It clearly indicates the widespread support through Turkey for this struggle, but also the tough situation the striking workers are facing.

On February 11 the masses attempted to organise anti-government protests. This time the regime prepared systematically, learning from previous days of protest. This has brought out some of the limitations of the movement, but the masses are learning from each experience. They require greater organisation and leadership, and most importantly the active intervention of the working class.

In order to harass left activists, members of the Worker-Communist Party of Iran-Hekmatist, the Iranian regime’s “courts” have declared 12 members of this party as common criminals. Scandalously, INTERPOL has accepted this verdict as valid and has put these left activists on its “wanted list”.

We have received this letter as an update on the situation of the struggle of the Tekel workers in Turkey. Due to their pressure, the Prime Minister and the Turkish Cabinet were now forced to take up this issue. At the same time the class consciousness of the workers is taking a huge step forward and the ideas of communism are gaining ground amongst them. The victory of the Tekel workers would not be only a victory for them, but a victory for the whole of the Turkish working class.

We publish here some of the solidarity letters we have received and passed on to the Tekel workers in Turkey. The courageous struggle has now gone on for 46 days and put huge pressure on the Turkish government. The letters from workers and trade unionists from all over the world are a great source of inspiration in order not to give in but fight until the victory. Please keep on sending them!

The protest of the Tekel workers is lasting for more than 40 days. Because of their consistent pressure the Turkish Prime Minister Erdoğan has now decided to meet up with the trade union tomorrow evening. The hunger strike has now been postponed until Friday, pending on the results of the meeting with the Prime Minister.

The administration of the Cotton Industries issued – based on a ministerial warrant – an order to transfer the unionist Falah Alwan from the company. The decision came as a result of the strike of the workers of the Cotton Industries Company which started on December 13, 2009.

We have received further news about the Tekel workers in Turkey. As a result of their determined struggle trade union confederations have pledged a general strike if the government fails to meet their demands by January 26. This marks an important step on the road to winning this dispute. Please keep on sending solidarity messages!

The Tekel workers are stepping up their struggle with a hunger strike, but also raising the demand for a general strike. The desperate conditions of these workers is pushing them to he limit. They need the solidarity of workers from all countries. Send us your messages now!

The Tekel workers in Turkey are starting a hunger strike today at 16.00 pm Turkish time in Ankara. They are requesting messages of solidarity from workers and students, intellectuals from all over the world. The message we received and forwarded below was a great source of inspiration for the workers. Please send more.

Recent events in Iran have highlighted the fact that the movement that erupted back in June was not a one off sporadic event. It marked the beginning of a revolutionary process that will not stop until this hated regime is brought down. There are ups and downs, but the direction is clear. What the mass movement now requires is the decisive intervention of the organised working class. That is what the Marxists insist on in this situation.

Part of the process of creating a so-called western style “democracy” in Iraq is the passing of laws that restrict trade union rights. One of these involves the direct intervention of the state to decide who can and who cannot represent the workers, imposing an official union over the tops of the existing unions created by the workers. Here we publish a statement of the FWCUI for the information of our readers.

We received this article from a reader of marxist.com about the ongoing struggle of the Tekel workers in Turkey. Tekel is a tobacco and alcohol producing company which has announced the closure of plants affecting 12,000 workers. This is a very militant struggle and desreves the attention and support of workers around the world.

These days, there are a lot of reports on Yemen in the mainstream media in the West. Most of these reports really don’t say anything about the desperate situation inside Yemen. Furthermore, they say nothing about the class struggle and the revolutionary traditions in Yemen.

Over the last few days, mass demonstrations have erupted again in Iran. Millions are on the streets and there are reports of the people taking control of the streets, burning down police stations and even of police refusing to fire on demonstrators. These could be the last days of the hated IRI regime. If a revolutionary leadership were present, the hours of the Islamic Republic would be counted. We publish this article with lots of eyewitness reports from the ground.

“Student’s Day” on 7 December was used by the Iranian opposition to stage a huge anti-government protest, which turned out to be the most aggressive day of protests since they began in June. Hundreds of thousands of people joined the students on the streets. The further escalation of protests and clashes with the police and Basij has confirmed our analysis that this is the beginning of a revolution.

The workers in the leather production achieved a historic victory, when the administration agreed to pay safety benefits after more than fifty days of strike. The strikers have not responded to any promises made by the administration, but instead insisted in the fulfilment of all of their demands.

Mansour Osanloo, the leader of the Steering Committee of the Trade Union of the Vahed Bus Company of Tehran and Suburbs, has been sacked from work.

On Monday December 7, 2009, Pedram Nasrollahi, a labour movement and women’s movement activist, was released on 30 million tomans ($30,369) bail. Pedram Nasrollahi was arrested by the security force on Thursday, November 12, 2009, at 5:40pm, while returning [home] from work. He was detained in Sanandaj’s Ferdowsi Street, and after a beating was held in the city prison’s quarantine.

The workers in the leather industries achieved a historic victory when the administration officially agreed to pay all back safety benefits, and write out checks for other worker back pay. The workers maintained the integrity of their strike for forty-seven days, not allowing doubt or division to creep up on them.

The militancy of the Iraqi leather industry workers is forcing management to make concessions, but the workers have been holding out until they get all their demands. The strike, the longest since 1931, is having an impact on other groups of industrial workers who are looking to the leather workers as an example to follow.

Iranian president Ahmadinejad recently visited Brazil. Some on the left erroneously have developed illusions that somehow his regime should be supported because of its “anti-imperialism”. Here we publish a statement of the comrades of Esquerda Marxista, where they explain that Ahmadinejad is no friend of the working class.

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