Arab Revolution

arab revThe Arab revolution of 2010 and 2011, starting in Tunisia and spreading like wildfire throughout the region, was a rebellion against decades of poverty, misery and the suffocating dictatorships maintained with the help of western imperialism. What they revealed was the complete impasse of capitalism, which is not able to solve the most basic problems facing the people of the Middle East and the Arab world.

Without any plan, organisation or leadership, the masses took on these huge state apparatuses and won, overthrowing dictators in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Yemen. In Egypt, the revolution staged a whole series of uprisings and two revolutions, pushing aside four heads of state and a prime minister between 2011 and 2014.

But in spite of all the heroism and determination of the masses, the leaders of the revolutions did not take power. While several heads of state were removed, the main levers of power in society – the state and the economy – remained in the hands of the ruling class. This gave the counter-revolution room to manoeuvre, to regroup and strike back. Thus, nothing has been solved, and new movements and revolutions are everywhere on the agenda. But if these are not to lead to similar results, what is needed is a serious study of the movements of the past period and the reasons for their defeats.

After the Tunisian people overthrew Ben Ali we were told by so-called expert analysts that the revolution would not spread to Egypt. After it did just that these experts weren’t so sure any more about what could happen next. Already there had been powerful movements in Jordan and the Yemen, as well as big protests in Algeria and other countries. Now Libya and Bahrain are joining the queue, as is Iraq, while the Yemen is flaring up again.

The marvellous revolutionary movement of the Tunisian workers and youth is an inspiration and an example to the whole world. For more than one week Tunisia has been living through a revolution of epic dimensions. The mass uprising in Tunisia has ended in the overthrow of the hated dictator Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali after 23 years in power.

The recent Arab summit (May 22-23) ended with Tunisian President Zain al-Abidin bin announcing that the Arab leaders had adopted a 13-point programme that is to be applied to their countries. Its aim is to promote "political reform". The same plan will be presented to the G8 summit next month, no doubt for their approval.

Political and social unrest against Lebanese President Chamoun's pro-Western policy and his support for imperialist intervention in the 1956 Suez war against Egypt triggered civil war in Lebanon and forced US direct intervention in the country in July 1958 to save Chamoun. Ted Grant based his analysis on the class interests at stake in this war while even greater convulsions were being prepared in the Middle East.