Middle East

According to the latest news, at 2pm today, Tuesday December 1 2009, Farzad Ahmadi, a labour activist and tailor, was released from Sanandaj prison on a bail of 30 million tomans ($30,369). While we congratulate all activists of the class struggle on the release of this dear comrade, we condemn the detention of Pedram Nasrollahi and demand the unconditional release of this labour activist.

Although we do not necessarily agree with every position of the Worker-communist Party of Iraq, we are making available one of their latest statements which highlights the sectarian logic behind the latest electoral reform in Iraq where people will be represented in parliament according to their ethnic background rather than their political affiliations. This helps to strengthen and deepen ethnic conflict, not solve it.

Last week's visit of the president of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Ahmadinejad to Bolivia has unleashed the hysteria of the reactionary media in the country and abroad. The idea has been promoted that the Iranian regime is in some way “anti-imperialist”, “revolutionary”, and that the foreign policy of the Bolivian revolution must be guided by the principle of “multi-polarity”, or to put it clearly, the principle that “the enemy of my enemy is my friend”. Here we publish a statement by the Marxist Tendency in Bolivia, analysing the real character of the Iranian regime.

We received this news item on a significant strike in the Leather Industry in Iraq. Some 1,500 workers have been on strike for more than 40 days and they need international support and solidarity. The duration of this strike marks a new record in the strike history of the workers’ movement in Iraq. We publish it for the interest of our readers.

The following is a statement issued by Iranian Workers’ Solidarity Network activists in Sanandaj (in the Iranian province of Kurdistan) on the recent arrest of Farzad Ahmadi, a labour activist.

Two labour activists in Kurdistan were recently arrested for the 'crime' of defending workers' rights, attending workers' meetings and not caving in to the Iranian regime's threats. Pedram Nasrollahi and Farzad Ahmadi have the support of dozens of workers in Sanandaj and other parts of Iranian Kurdistan. [Updated list of supporters: 30 Nov.]

The following is a statement issued by Iranian Workers’ Solidarity Network activists in Sanandaj on the recent arrest of Pedram Nasrollahi, a Kurdish labour activist. Pedram was released on bail earlier this year (April 6 2009) from prison in Sanandaj, the capital of the Iranian province of Kurdistan.

After their wages and bonuses went unpaid a group of Abadan oil refinery workers began a protest on Wednesday November 11. Around 300 workers have not been paid for more than three months.

On November 4 Iran was once again shaken by mass demonstrations. Normally this day is used by the regime to celebrate the anniversary of the occupation of the US embassy in Iran. The masses used it to mobilize against the regime, shouting slogans such as “Death to the Dictator”, revealing a deep-felt desire to see an end to this regime.

On Monday November 2 the bakers of Sanandaj, in Iranian Kurdistan, won a pay rise. After their several meetings and ongoing correspondence with the Governor’s Office and other Sanandaj authorities over higher wages had no result, the bakers of Sanandaj finally announced a three-hour strike on November 2.

The Arbitration Board of the Shush Labour Office has fired Ali Nejati, the President of the Haft Tapeh Sugar Cane Company Workers’ Trade Union.

The Appeals Court of the Islamic Republic of Iran in Ahvaz has issued prison sentences for the labour activists and executive committee members of the Haft Tapeh Sugar Cane Company’s trade union.

On September 18 there were mass demonstrations in Iran, confirming the fact that the movement that began against electoral fraud is not dead. That movement shook Iranian society, and although there will be ups and downs, it will continue until the present hated regime is brought down. The key question is the role of the working class and the need for a revolutionary leadership.

Two hundred and fifty workers at the Crepe Naz textiles factory in Harsin County (in Kermanshah Province, western Iran) stopped work on 12-15 September to protest against not being paid their wages for the past four months.

There is much talk in the media about the “building of democracy” in Iraq. This brief report about how the present Iraqi government treats oil workers reveals the real interests that it defends. Oil worker trade union activists need your support.

Last week we witnessed a public spectacle in Iran, which revealed the resilience of the mass movement, but most importantly it brought out into the open the serious divisions at the top of the regime, the precursor of an even deeper crisis. What is required now is for the working class to step in as a force that can lead the whole movement and bring down the regime.

The 4000 workers at the brick kilns of Vayghan-Shabestar, in East Azerbaijan province, have won better pay and benefits following a 17-day strike. Iranian Workers’ Solidarity Network has translated two statements by the Free Trade Union of Iranian Workers on this strike.

The reign of terror unleashed by the Iranian government against the demonstrations in the aftermath of the rigged elections did succeed in keeping people off the streets the last 11 days. But yesterday this combustible material ignited once again, as thousands once more took to the streets in a collective show of defiance.

In spite of attempts by the regime to intimidate people with threats of violent repression, thousands turned out to demonstrate yesterday in Tehran. Here we have eyewitness reports about the events that unfolded.

Millions of Iranians have come out on the streets demanding a change in regime. The movement that was first sparked off by “electoral fraud” has become a movement to demand complete democratic rights and against the dictatorship of the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is an interview (conducted on July 2nd 2009) with Arash, an Iranian socialist, which was originally made to explain the situation in Iran to an Indonesian audience.

Some on the left are questioning whether the movement in Iran is a progressive one. They have been taken in by propaganda that states that the movement is all an “imperialist plot” to overthrow the Islamic regime. This ignores the very essence of what is happening in Iran, which is the beginning of a revolution. What is required to move everything forward now is decisive action by the working class.

The workers of the service line unit of the Ferdowsi branch of the Sanandaj Communication Office went on strike on June 22 2009 near the office. The 52 workers, who are contract workers, were told by the Communication Office that they were about to be sacked and that a new workforce with lower wages would replace them.

In response to recent statements by Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, the Venezuelan Revolutionary Marxist Current has issued this statement. They express their support for the movement of the masses in Iran and explain the differences between the revolutionary movement in Venezuela and the counter-revolutionary regime in Iran.

Forty-eight days have passed since the suppression and arrests of the workers’ gathering on International Labour Day - May Day. During this time important events have taken place and have caused widespread and amazing changes in the social movement of the country. Here we publish a message and a list of demands of the Free Trade Union of Iranian Workers.

On Saturday, June 20 and Sunday, June 21, the mass movement in Iran took another step forward. After a full week of illegal mass demonstrations, the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei had made it clear that no more protests would be allowed, and that the full force of the repressive apparatus would be used. That did not stop the movement. On both days, thousands came to the streets and when prevented from demonstrating by the police and other repressive forces they fought back, and in some cases forced the police to retreat. Nothing will be the same after this weekend.

As reports are coming in about clashes between protesters and police in Tehran, it is clear that the movement against the fraud has reached a critical point. Khamenei’s speech yesterday threw down the gauntlet to the movement and threatened repercussions for continued protests but the organised working class are now joining the struggle against the regime.

What we are witnessing in Iran is a full-blown popular revolution. However, in order to set its stamp on the movement, the working class must participate in the front line. The movement will stand or fall to the degree that the working class is able to lead it.

The stormy street demonstrations in Iran are continuing and gathering strength. Anti-government protesters held another big rally in central Tehran today (Wednesday), which, to judge from photographs we have just received, has dwarfed even the massive demonstrations of the last few days. It defied renewed calls from Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the Supreme Leader, to keep off the streets. Faced with vast protests, the ruling regime in Tehran is being pulled in opposite directions.

All the objective conditions for revolution as outlined by Lenin have matured in Iran. The events of the past few days mark the beginning of the Iranian revolution, which will unfold over a whole period. This is due to the lack of a mass revolutionary party capable of leading the masses today. But the conditions to build such a force have also matured. Workers and youth in Iran will be looking for the genuine ideas of revolutionary socialism, of Marxism.

Dramatic events are unfolding in Iran. Hundreds of thousands of people marched in silence through central Tehran on Monday to protest Iran’s disputed presidential election in an extraordinary show of defiance that appeared to be the largest anti-government demonstration in Iran since the 1979 revolution. Reuter says one demonstrator was shot dead. But nothing can stem the tide. The revolutionary situation is unfolding with lightening speed.

Two candidates stood in the Iranian “elections”, but the regime had decided who was going to win long before any votes were cast. In spite of the mild, “loyal opposition” of Mousavi, large sections of the Iranian electorate used their vote to express opposition to the regime. Once the “result” was announced violence broke out on the streets, revealing the seething anger and discontent among the masses. This marks a new phase in the development of the Iranian revolution.

Last week the workers of Iran Khodro were successful with their glorious strike which started in the assembly hall and continued in the shuttle (body) hall and ended with the press hall strike. The workers’ immediate demands were payment of their unpaid wages (productivity and last year’s production record bonuses) and to switch workers on temporary contracts to contracts of the Iran Khodro Company itself.

We received these short news items on significant labour struggles in Iraq in the oil industry in Basra, and a gathering of the Electricity workers in Nasiriyah. We publish them for the interest of our readers. They show that the Iraqi labour movement is beginning to recover from the devastation of recent years and achieving important victories.

We received this small news item from the Federation of Workers Councils and Unions in Iraq, which highlights how so-called "anti-terror" laws are used in Iraq to harass trade union activists, whose only crime is to defend the interests of Iraqi workers.

At 5pm on May 1 2009 workers and their families gathered in Sanandaj's Amiriyeh Park to commemorate International Labour Day. The May Day celebration was disrupted after 15 minutes when police and plain-clothes security officers attacked those gathered, beating them and arresting 12 people.


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Recently there was an attempt to organise a so-called Facebook strike in Egypt. The attempt failed abysmally as it had no connection to the real movement of the working class, such as what we witnessed last year. There is no alternative to real life organisation on the ground, at the factory gates, in the working class neighbourhoods.

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We have received this appeal from workers in Iraq against the victimisation of an Iraqi trade unionist in the oil industry. Please send message of protest to the Iraqi authorities and copies to the address provided here in the appeal.

Once again the Middle East is engulfed in the flames of war. Alan Woods explains at the IMT Winter School last weekend in Berlin the reasons for Israel's invasion of Gaza and analyses the wider implications for relations between the powers in the Middle East and on a world scale.


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Formally speaking Bush has gained control of Iraq, and now the puppet Iraqi government has been granting oil concessions to the major multinational oil corporations. But all this comes at a heavy price in political terms...

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Local people came out onto the streets of Mashhad (Iran) recently, chanting slogans such as "The economic mafia must be exposed" and "Incompetent government, resign, resign" and wanted the Ahmadinejad government to resign. Over 200 were arrested.

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The heavy-handed intervention of the army and police on Sunday managed to block the general strike, but it has enraged the workers and youth who have continued to protest.

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The situation in Mahalla has become far more serious than the media would lead us to believe. The police opened fire on the unarmed demonstrating workers and killed at least four. Here we publish an appeal for solidarity that we have received from Egypt.

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Yesterday, Sunday, April 6, the workers of Egypt were preparing for what could have been a very powerful general strike. The state intervened heavily at the Mahalla textile plant arresting 150 workers. These methods cannot stop the growing wave of working class militancy and will only serve to increase the determination of the workers. The workers ‘intifada' which erupted later that day in the city is proof of this.

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Message of solidarity from the Moroccan Marxists to the workers in Egypt in struggle. Read this in English, French and Arabic.

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