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Middle East

Egyptian left answers the state's attack

The Egyptian military's December 16 attack on protesters provoked outrage.

December 23, 2011 -- Socialist Worker (USA) -- The military regime that has ruled Egypt since the fall of Hosni Mubarak has taken a harsh turn toward repression, symbolised by this month's barbaric attack against protesters outside the cabinet's headquarters.

Now the generals and their allies are singling out the Revolutionary Socialists among other leading voices of Egypt's left. In a pattern that activists say is consistent with past propaganda campaigns, the regime is trying to whip up a hysteria about the group, using videotape of a meeting at which leading members talked about the need for Egypt's mass movement to break the power of the state and the army. Clips from that meeting showed up on the Interior Ministry website, and on television stations run by the state and by hardline Islamists, known as Salafists, who now support the military.

In this statement, the Revolutionary Socialists of Egypt respond to the smear campaign. [Below that, a range of political forces on the left also offer their solidarity.]

Interview with Adam Hanieh: Class and capitalism in the Gulf

December 5, 2011 -- New Left Project's Ed Lewis interviewed Adam Hanieh about the international political economy of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). Hanieh is a lecturer in development studies at SOAS, and is an editorial board member of Historical Materialism. He is the author, most recently, of Capitalism and Class in the Gulf Arab States. It is posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission.

* * *

Ed Lewis: You see the six states of the Gulf Cooperation Council – Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, UAE, Qatar, Bahrain and Oman – as being at the centre of the Middle East economically and politically, but not simply because of their vast reserves of oil. What, then, is your account of how the Gulf states have come to be in this position of centrality?

Boris Kagarlitsky: Reflections on the Arab revolutions

By Boris Kagarlitsky, translated from Russian by Renfrey Clarke

November 28, 2011 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- “Turning-points in the history of humanity,” a contributor to the left-wing Algerian newspaper Le Matin observed in the summer of 2001, “are never simple for contemporaries to understand. Rarely are people able fully to assess the significance of these episodes, or their consequences. The developments concerned do not proceed in the manner, or at the time and place, that people expect. The early years of the twenty-first century have seen this rule reaffirmed. During this time, new and increasingly powerful trends have been mingled with the heritage of the past, dragging us back. History, however, operates through these new forces, which gradually but inevitably will succeed in overcoming the inertia of the past.” (1)

Egypt: Profile of the Revolution Continues Alliance

The following profile of the left-wing Revolution Continues electoral alliance was published in the Egyptian weekly newspaper Ahram Online and Jadilayya. After considering suspending its participation in the November 28-December 5, 2011, Egyptian election, the alliance decided to resume its campaign.

* * *

November 18, 2011 -- Revolution Continues coalition members: the Socialist Popular Alliance Party, the Egyptian Socialist Party, the Egyptian Current Party, the Egypt Freedom Party, Equality and Development Party, the Revolution’s Youth Coalition, the Egyptian Alliance Party.

Tunisia: Interview with Communist Workers' Party (PCOT) leaders


Ted Walker interviews Samir Taamallah, Chrif Khraief and Jilani Hamemi

November 26, 2011 -- Al-Thawra Eyewitness, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with the author's permission -- I first met with Samir Taamallah, a former political prisoner and member of the central committee of the Communist Worker's Party of Tunisia (PCOT), in Tunis on October 4, 2011, to discuss the October 23 Constituent Assembly election and Tunisia's ongoing revolutionary struggle. The first part of the interview took place before the election. The follow-up interview part took place after the results were known.

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How is the election campaign going?

Egypt: The rise and (potential) fall of the Muslim Brotherhood

Arabic slogan that reads "No for military trials for civilians" over protesters' mouths during a rally in Cairo's Tahrir Square, where tens of thousands rallied against military rule. Photo by Amr Nabil / Associated Press

By Tim Dobson

November 29, 2011 -- Red Press Box, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- While the results of the Egyptian election won’t be known for a while, initial reports make it fairly clear that the election will result in a substantial victory for the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party.

Sudan: Farewell Uncle Al Tijani — a remarkable revolutionary (+ Tijani's 1982 address to the court in defence of the SCP)

By Abohoraira Ali

November 29, 2011 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal/Green Left Weekly -- On November 23, Sudan lost an invaluable activist, writer and leader.

Al Tijani Al Tayeb was one of the founders of the Sudanese Communist Party and the editor of the SCP's newspaper Al Midan. He dedicated his entire life to the movements against colonialism, dictatorship and capitalism in Sudan and against imperialist exploitation of Africa and the Middle East.

Al Tijani was born in 1926 in a poor village near the town of Shendi in north Sudan. His father was heavily involved in the Sudanese independence movement, fighting against the British occupation. Al Tijani learned much from his father’s ideas.

His family moved to Omdurman in Khartoum when Al Tijani was young. He attended school there and studied at Gordon College, which later became Khartoum University.

Al Tijani then went to Egypt to study, where he became involved with Egyptian communists and other leftists. After one year, he was arrested for helping the Egyptian people fight against the British, capitalism and the caste system.

Al Tijani was deported to Sudan where he continued to fight the British occupiers.

(Updated Nov. 24) Egyptian revolution enters new phase: Thousands protest military rule (Democracy Now! reports)

November 23, 2011 -- Democracy Now! -- Egyptian protesters continue to fill Cairo’s central Tahrir Square over the ruling military council’s refusal to immediately transfer power to a civilian government.

In a televised address on Tuesday, the head of Egypt’s military council, Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, said he has accepted the prime minister’s resignation and that the military is ready to relinquish power if Egyptians call for that in a referendum. But protests only intensified after Tantawi’s speech and security forces unleashed a barrage of tear gas. Over the past five days at least 38 people have been killed, thousands injured, and at least 15 journalists attacked as Egypt has witnessed the largest protests since the fall of Hosni Mubarak.

Boris Kagarlitsky: Políticas económicas después de la muerte del neoliberalismo

Boris Kagarlitsky.

[In English at http://www.links.org.au/node/2593.]

Por Boris Kagarlitsky, traducido del inglés para Rebelión por Germán Leyens

El sistema económico internacional que se perfiló después del colapso de la Unión Soviética todavía no está muerto, pero está moribundo. Lo vemos todos los días, no solo en informes sobre la crisis sino también en otras noticias de todo el mundo que cuentan la misma historia: el sistema no funciona.

La verdad es que el sistema nunca ha funcionado para los pobres y las clases trabajadoras. No se diseñó con ese propósito, no importa lo que nos digan todo el tiempo sus propagandistas y diversos intelectuales corruptos. El sistema funcionó para las elites: generó una tremenda redistribución de la riqueza y del poder a favor de los que ya eran ricos y poderosos. Aunque las elites no tienen suficiente coraje para admitirlo, hay que transformar el sistema.

Boris Kagarlitsky: Economic policies after the death of neoliberalism

Boris Kagarlitsky.

By Boris Kagarlitsky

November 2, 2011 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The international economic system that took shape after the collapse of the Soviet Union is not dead yet, but it is dying. We see that daily, not only in reports on the crisis but also in other news from around the world that tells the same story: the system isn’t working.

The truth is that the system has never worked for the poor and for the toiling classes. It wasn’t designed for that purpose, no matter what its propagandists and various corrupt intellectuals keep telling us. The system did work for the elites; it generated a tremendous redistribution of wealth and power in favour of those already rich and powerful, in favour of the bourgeoisie. But now it no longer delivers even for them. Though the elites aren’t brave enough to admit it, the system has to be transformed.

This is a real systemic crisis, if not for capitalism, then at least for its neoliberal form. And this crisis can’t be overcome until neoliberalism is eliminated. Whether this will also be the end of capitalism will depend on the scale of global struggles and their outcomes.

COSATU leader on South African and Israeli apartheid

Address by Zwelinzima Vavi, general secretary of the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) to the Russell Tribunal on Palestine, District Six Museum, Cape Town. The Russell Tribunal on Palestine's Cape Town hearings concluded that Israel is guilty of apartheid crimes. Its panel of jurists ruled that Israel's actions against the Palestinians breach the prohibition of apartheid under international law. Click here for more details of the tribunal's findings.

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Black South African workers -- especially a mineworker like myself -- who bore the brunt of South African racial capitalism, and understood the purposes and mechanisms of apartheid, know that when we talk about the conditions faced by our Palestinian comrades we are talking about apartheid . -- Zwelinzima Vavi

Indian communists on challenges for the Arab Spring and the American Autumn; Revolt of the 99 per cent

Placard at a Occupy Washington DC protest.

For more on the Occupy movement, click HERE. 

By the Communist Party of India (Marxist Leninist) Liberation

November 7, 2011 -- ML Update -- It was Iraq in 2006. It is Libya today in 2011. In 2006, the administration of US President George Bush had celebrated the conquest of Iraq by exhibiting the mutilated body of Saddam Hussein as a prized trophy. The spectacle of celebration of Libya’s "liberation" is turning out to be remarkably similar. On October 20, 2011, the world came to know about the ruthless elimination of Libya’s deposed ruler Muammar Gaddafi. He was captured alive – and unlike in the Saddam case there was no pretence of a trial – only to be murdered brutally and his blood-streaked body was put on display in a commercial freezer at a shopping centre in Misrata. Around the same tIme his son, Mutassim, was also captured and killed in Sirte, reportedly the last stronghold of the Gaddafi regime. While Barack Obama's administration and NATO immediately hailed the "liberation" of Libya, US and French flags could be seen being waved on Libya’s streets alongside Libyan flags.

'A revival of collectivist solidarity' -- Hugo Blanco, veteran Indigenous revolutionary, on Occupy Wall Street

October 30, 2011 -- Ecosocialists Unite -- Hugo Blanco led a successful peasant revolution in Peru for land rights in 1961 when peasants were being killed by landowners. Praised by Che,  Blanco -- then a leader of the Fourth International -- was captured and placed on death row. He lived due to an international campaign of solidarity launched by figures like Jean-Paul Sartre.

Now in the his late 70s, he publishes Lucha Indigena ("Indigenous Struggle"). The uprising in Peru of the Awajan and Wampis and other Amazon people, of the Aymara and Quechua, have shown that Indigenous and workers can organise to challenge the destruction of the Earth and to build a democratic alternative to capitalism.

Hugo Blanco argues that the revolution must be global and that the Occupy movement shows that people in the global North are joining the revolt against the 1% and for a democratic, ecological society for the 99%.

This Lucha Indigena editorial on the occupy movement and the global fightback against neoliberalism has been roughly translated by Derek Wall and Martin O'Beirne.

* * *

Libya: NATO's war feeds ugly violence

Amnesty estimated up to half those detained were migrant workers from Sub-Saharan Africa, who have been persecuted since the beginning of the conflict over spurious allegations that they served Gaddafi as mercenaries.

By Tony Iltis

October 31, 2011 -- Green Left Weekly -- The October 23 declaration of Libya’s “liberation” by the National Transitional Council (NTC), the de-facto government since taking Tripoli from former dictator Muammar Gaddafi on August 21, was a showcase victory for the West’s vision of how the Arab democratic awakening should progress.

An uprising began in Libya on February 17 — part of the popular rebellion that has broken out against dictatorial regimes across the Arab world. The Gaddafi regime's brutal repression — carried out with Western-supplied weapons — meant the rising turned into a civil war.

By March 17, with the regime's forces preparing to attack the rebel-held eastern city of Benghazi, a NATO intervention was sanctioned by a UN Security Council resolution in the name of protecting civilian lives.

Palestine: The environmental impact of Israel's military occupation


Samah Sabawi addresses the Climate Change, Social Change conference, October 1, 2011. Film produced by Jill Hickson and John Reynolds.

[The following talk and PowerPoint slides were presented to the World at a Crossroads: Climate Change, Social Change conference in Melbourne on October 1, 2011. Samah Sabawi is the public advocate for Australians for Palestine. For more material from the conference, click HERE.]

By Samah Sabawi

Posted October 30, 2011 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Thank you for asking me to take part in this conference and to add the voice of my people and their struggle for justice to your voices. There is great strength in solidarity and quite often, once we’ve peeled the external layers of what makes our individual causes unique, we quickly find that we are all in the same boat and that our fight for justice, equality and respect for the land shares many common threads.

Palestine: Adam Hanieh on why trade unions should support BDS


Video by SWPTvUK.

Adam Hanieh from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) development studies department was one of the speakers at a forum, "Palestine's fight for freedom", held in London on October 24, 2011.The meeting was initiated by the National Union of Rail Maritime & Transport (RMT) London Transport Region and supported by the SOAS branch of Unison and the University and College Union.

Other speakers included: Hugh Lanning, chair of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PCS); Moshe Machover, Israeli socialist; Anne Alexander, MENA Solidarity Network; and Ilan Pappe, author The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine; SOAS Unison. For more videos of the speakers at the forum, go to SWPTvUk.

Gaddafi, imperialism and Western hypocrisy

"The lesson of Saddam Hussein, Hosni Mubarak, Ben Ali and now al-Gaddafi is that friends can be quickly forsaken by their Western patrons when the writing is on the wall."

By Reza Pankhurst

October 21, 2011 -- New Civilisation, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with the author's permission -- British Prime Minister David Cameron’s statement regarding the killing of Muammar al-Gaddafi  will go down as another piece of brash hypocrisy, which would be breathtaking if it was not so expected from the British premier. He mentioned that he was “proud of the role that Britain has played” in the uprising – intending of course the support given by NATO once it was clear that the Libyan people had risen up against the man en masse.

However he neglected to mention some of the other roles that Britain previously played with the Gaddafi regime which have undoubtedly had an effect on the events:

Afghanistan: Predictions, obstructed justice and 10 years of war

By Rupen Savoulian

October 17, 2011 -- Antipodean Atheist, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with the author's permission -- The Washington Post, the highly influential US newspaper, reported that the top US general in Afghanistan predicted that the Taliban would collapse as a viable fighting militia over the next several months, and eventually accept the offer of national reconciliation from the US-supported Afghan government. This confident prediction was backed up by a note of caution; the general warned that the Taliban could still strike. But he was optimistic about the "progress" of the counterinsurgency in Afghanistan. There is just one thing to note about this report: this prediction was made in April 2005. This month marks 10 years since the US invaded Afghanistan in 2001, and the Afghan war shows no signs of abating.

BDS campaign declares: 'Occupy Wall Street not Palestine!'

[For more on the BDS campaign click HERE. For more on Occupy Wall Street, click HERE.]

 If a people one day wills to live                     fate must answer its call
And the night must fade                               and the chain must break

– Abou-Al-kacem El-Chebbi (Tunisia)

We are part of the world’s 99% yearning for freedom, justice and equal rights!

Arab Spring eyewitness: Reflections on the revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia

[The writer is an Australian Socialist Alliance activist presently in the Middle East. His regular reports appear in Green Left Weekly, Australia's leading socialist newspaper.]

By Ted Walker, Cairo

October 7, 2011 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Arriving in Egypt the day before the September 9 protests that brought tens of thousands into the street, marches to the Ministry of Interior and the Supreme Court, and then the storming of the Israeli embassy, certainly threw me in at the deep end! But arriving in Cairo at almost any point would have been like that.

For the last few months, Friday protests -- in Cairo's Tahrir Square and nationwide -- have been going on more or less every week. The week after September 9, there was a protest at Tahrir Square of around a thousand against the military trials; today there are "back to the barracks" protests demanding a quicker timetable for creating a civilian government.

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