Middle East

Two weeks have passed since the eruption of protests all over Iran after the regime introduced a surprise cut to fuel subsidies. Despite a heroic struggle by the people on the streets, the movement was crushed by the regime within five days. But this was far from a triumphant victory for a regime that is now weaker than ever before.

The protests sparked on 15 November by fuel rationing and increased prices in numerous cities spread across the country, affecting at least 100 cities and towns by 18 November. Since then, it has become increasingly difficult to follow developments, due to an almost total internet shutdown in the country. Amnesty International has confirmed that at least 106 people have been killed in 21 different cities across the country, but these are only fully named and confirmed victims.

A few years ago, a conversation was leaked between a commander of the revolutionary guards, and a group of Basiji militiamen, discussing the Green Movement that shook Iran in 2009. In that conversation the commander said something along the lines of “these guys [referring to the people in the Green Movement] are just uptown pretty boys, there is nothing to be afraid of, but once the barefoot people of the poor and destitute areas come out, that is when we have to be afraid.” Well, that day has come.

Protests broke out in Iran on November 15, 2019, after the government unexpectedly announced a major increase in fuel prices at midnight on Friday. Protesters took to the streets in many cities across the country, switching off their cars on the streets and blocking the roads.

A disastrous speech by President Michel Aoun, the killing of a protester and a burgeoning student uprising have revitalised the revolutionary struggle in Lebanon. Sensing the masses’ energy beginning to wane, the ruling class became overconfident, and seriously miscalculated with a series of provocations that only strengthened the people’s resolve.

On Monday, 28 October, in the face of a massive movement of protestors from all backgrounds, Saad Hariri announced his resignation. This retreat of the government came after two million people – one third of the population – took part in huge protests across the country. Amidst calls for a general strike, people have blocked roads, and shut down banks and schools. Cutting across all the sectarianism that has dominated politics in Lebanon for decades, this movement has done more in two weeks than the corrupt politicians in Lebanon have done in years.

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.

The following is an interview, conducted by our German section, with Lynn Beyrouthy: an activist from Lebanon who is involved in the revolutionary events unfolding in the country. She explains how the movement came about, the grievances behind it, and what its main demands are. Note that this interview took place before the announcement of a general strike.

The following is a letter, sent to us by a comrade of the International Marxist Tendency, who is visiting Beirut and is an eyewitness to the revolutionary events unfolding in Lebanon.

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

...

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

...

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.