Middle East

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.

Over the past week, tensions within the Saudi led coalition fighting Houthi forces in Yemen have reached a critical point. Between Sunday and Wednesday, troops loyal to the Southern Transitional Council (STC) took hold of all but a few remaining areas of the port city of Aden and surrounded the presidential palace in which the cabinet was essentially besieged.

Las últimos semanas han visto el comienzo de un nuevo movimiento de la juventud tunecina, casi siete años después del derrocamiento del odiado régimen de Ben Alí, en 2011. Esta vez, el detonante de las protestas en todo el país se produjo con el anuncio de los presupuestos elaborados con las propuestas del FMI. Decenas de activistas han sido arrestados y un manifestante ha sido asesinado. El movimiento "Fech Nastannou?" (“¿A qué estamos esperando?”) es una clara demostración de que haber derrocado al dictador no resolvió automáticamente los problemas de pobreza, desempleo y falta de futuro, que desencadenaron el levantamiento de 2011.

The following talk was delivered in January 2018 by Hamid Alizadeh at UCL in London, UK. He discusses the protests that rocked Iran between December 2017 and January 2018, explains why they came about, and provides background information on the history of the class struggle in the country. Hamid points out that these protests reveal deep fissures in Iranian society: whose working class is the second largest in the region, has an impressive legacy of militant class struggle, and is being spurred to action under the pressure of events.

It appears that Turkey has started or will imminently start attacking the Kurdish-ruled enclave of Afrin in Northwestern Syria. The preparations for this operation have been ongoing for months. Turkish forces have surrounded the area from the south and, via their proxies - the socalled Free Syrian Army - from the east and have been fortifying as well as bombing the area for the past few weeks.

En las últimas dos semanas, olas de protestas heroicas se han extendido rápidamente por los pueblos y ciudades de todo Irán. Esta fue una erupción espontánea de rabia por parte de la juventud de clase media-baja y de la clase obrera contra la pobreza, el aumento de los precios y la indigencia, así como contra la riqueza y la corrupción de la élite iraní, en particular del clero. Se estima que 21 personas han muerto en las protestas hasta ahora y más de 1.700 han sido detenidas. Inmediatamente, los líderes occidentales desde Washington a Londres levantaron un coro defendiendo los derechos humanos del pueblo iraní.

Recent allegations of corruption against Benjamin Netanyahu have sparked a backlash and his position looks more vulnerable than ever. Netanyahu is one of Israel’s longest-serving prime ministers has been in power for two non-consecutive periods totalling over 11 years. Throughout this time his career and reputation have been repeatedly tarnished by controversy and corruption. In fact, his first premiership ended with an electoral defeat (1999) which was marred by a host of corruption allegations. Israeli Police recommended that he be indicted on two separate occasions, first in 1997 then again in 1999, however he avoided sentence due to lack of evidence.