Middle East

In the past month, there have been over 230 strikes and protests across Iran. Since their national three-day strike from 10–13 December, teachers’ protests, led by a Teachers’ Coordinating Council, have continued across Iran. Sporadic strikes continue among oil workers in Khuzestan, and on a nearly daily basis, there are reports of workers at major factories spontaneously launching indefinite strike action.

This month has seen a relentless series of over 230 strikes and protests in Iran. The most prominent of these was a two-day teachers’ strike on 11-13 December, involving tens of thousands of teachers in hundreds of cities across the country. The regime responded by arresting over 200 teachers and trade unionists.

After nearly 19 years in power, the strongman image of Turkey’s longest-sitting head of state, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, is rapidly deteriorating. The world economic crisis triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic has delivered another, severe blow to his crisis-ridden regime.

Since 8 November, thousands of farmers have been protesting in Isfahan, Iran, over the drying up of the Zayanderud river, the major river in the province. They have been calling for the distribution of water reserves to farmers. Having been ignored by the regime, farmers occupied the dried-up riverbed in front of Khaju bridge. In the early morning of 25 November, riot police set the farmers’ tents ablaze: the beginning of a government crackdown against the increasingly militant protests. Clashes between protesters and the regime continued for three days, with 210 arrested, 20 injured and three deaths confirmed.

In the last month there have been over 150 strikes and protests across Iran. This is only the latest strike wave since 2018. The ongoing struggles include oil workers in Khuzestan, the Haft Tappeh sugar plantation workers, miners in Azerbaijan, Khorasan and Kerman, national protests of teachers, and ongoing farmers’ protests among others. All the while, the social crisis in Iran is continuing to plummet to new depths.

As Lebanon’s economic crisis deepens, the Lebanese ruling class continues to manoeuvre and haggle over debt repayment to its imperialist creditors, ignoring the plight of the people. As talks with the IMF stall, it is the Lebanese masses who pay the price. Between fuel shortages, medicine shortages, and hyperinflation, the Lebanese workers and youth face a scenario of complete societal collapse.

The Turkish working class is beginning to move as a series of strikes and protests spread across the country. Factory workers; textile workers; construction workers; health workers; postal workers; service workers; miners; airline workers; press workers; municipality workers; and more have begun fighting back against union busting, unfair contracts, layoffs, dismissals, and unpaid wages.

Since 16 September, more than 2,500 factory workers at the electric appliance company Universal have been engaging in a heroic strike at the industrial zone in 6th of October City, near Cairo. Please read this appeal, and share our solidarity motion (below).

Since 15 July, protests over a severe water shortage in Khuzestan province in Iran have developed into a powerful localised movement, which has now spread to all major cities of the province: Shush, Susangard, Izeh, Dezful, Kut Abdullah, Weiss, Mahshahr, Hamidiyeh, Chamran and several areas of Ahvaz. The regime has declared martial law but this has only had the effect of provoking protests in a further 16 provinces.

On 20 June, contracted oil and gas workers in Assaluyeh went on strike. Since then, more oil and gas workers across Iran have joined the strikes, with over a hundred strikes now ongoing and that number continuing to grow. The workers are demanding: 10 days off after 20 days of work (10-20 scheme), a minimum wage across the sector of 12 million tomans, and trade union rights. These demands have found widespread support in the entire hydrocarbon sector and in the working class at large. Inspired by the oil and gas workers, strikes are breaking out among railway construction workers, truck drivers and steelworkers. All the while, protests by pensioners, teachers, medical staff and farmers

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The surge of the movement of Palestinian youth and workers against Israeli occupation, which culminated in the unified Palestinian general strike of 18 May, is continuing. It is now expressing itself in a growing mood of criticism and anger in the West Bank against the corruption of the Palestinian Authority (PA), which governs parts of the Israeli-occupied West Bank. The PA’s security forces have been brutally clamping down on any manifestation of internal opposition to discredited President Mahmoud Abbas, and the ruling Fatah party. The arrests and beatings of activists and the PA’s active collaboration with the Israeli state in suppressing the ongoing protests have undermined

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On 18 June, the Islamic Republic of Iran held its presidential election, which was met by a widespread boycott by the masses. The official figure for turnout was 48%, with the regime’s desired candidate, Raisi, winning with 61.9%, with blank votes coming second on 12.8%. The real turnout however could have been even lower, with some estimates placing it between 25 and 35 percent. There have been reports of some polling stations being completely abandoned. This was an absolute sham of an election, which saw the lowest turnout and the highest number of blank votes in the history of the Islamic Republic. This comes on the back of a continuous wave of strike action and protests that

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For over two months now, the Turkish state and president Erdogan's regime have faced attacks from a seemingly unlikely source. Sedat Peker, a notorious mafia boss in exile, with a long record of criminal activity and of intriguingly short jail sentences, has released a video almost every Sunday for the past two months in which he claims to expose the details of connections between important AKP officials, the Turkish state, and organised crime.

On Sunday, the Knesset (Israeli parliament) elected a new government with a narrow majority of 60 against 59 – ending Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s 12 year-long hold on power. His rule was characterised by right-wing policies and the brutal oppression of the Palestinians, based on the personal standing of Netanyahu as Israel’s strong man. The final example of this was the recent bloody bombardment of Gaza. What will the new government bring? And why did Netanyahu lose his grip on power?

The upcoming 18 June presidential elections in Iran are turning into an even greater farce than usual. In the past, the regime would have at least projected the appearance of competition, approving competing candidates from its various factions. This year, however, it has only approved seven candidates: all from the hardline, conservative faction. This move comes from a position of weakness, exposing the crisis of the regime.

On 22 May, 1,400 farmers protested against the lack of permanent access to water in the Iranian province of Isfahan. The regime answered by sending riot police, who brutally beat the farmers, who fought back, leading to clashes. This was not an isolated incident; there is widespread discord among farmers, with recent protests in Khuzestan, Sistan-Balochistan, Khorasan and elsewhere.

We recently received the following article written by an Egyptian Marxist on the events in Israel/Palestine over recent weeks. Although it was written on 18 May – the day of the general strike that united Palestinians, and before the ceasefire – and events have since moved on, we nevertheless believe it will be of general interest to our readers. For further analysis on the unfolding of events since the general strike, click here.

After eleven days of the ruthless bombardment of Gaza – which has killed more than 240 Palestinians (almost half of whom were children and women) and left thousands severely injured – Israel has eventually agreed to a ceasefire. The bombardment caused the displacement of 75,000 people. Their homes have been destroyed and severe damage has been inflicted on essential infrastructure: schools, hospitals (including the only COVID-19 testing and vaccination centre), electricity and clean water supplies. The population of Gaza will pay a heavy price for many years to come for Israel’s attack.

Over the last few days, dockworkers of the South African Transport and Allied Workers Union (SATAWU) in the port city of Durban have refused to handle cargo from an Israeli ship, in protest against Israel's bombardment of the besieged Gaza strip over the last few weeks. Currently, the ship is still lying in the Durban harbour waiting to take on cargo.