Middle East

On Thursday, April 2, Iran and the world’s most powerful nations signed a preliminary outline agreement about Iran's nuclear programme. It also dealt with the various sanctions imposed on Iran by the US, UN and the European Union. This marks the beginning of the end of a 12 year standoff between the US and Iran. But what lies behind the negotiations and what does the deal mean?

With a defiant right-wing turn promising that no Palestinian state would be established as long as he remained in power, Israeli prime minister Netanyahu has managed to overturn unfavourable opinion polls at the last minute and emerge as the winner of the Israeli elections on Tuesday. His appeal was aimed - and successfully so - at rallying the right wing around his figure and "firm" leadership by appealing once again to the historically deeply rooted fears of ordinary Israeli citizens over external threats to Israel. What are going to be the consequences of his victory within Israel and internationally?

Hossein Shariatmadari, the powerful editor of the Iranian right-wing daily Keyhan, was disrupted time and time again as he tried to speak at Tehran University on 13 December. The hundreds of students gathered in the call would interrupt him with slogans such as "Leave, interrogator!", "Keyhan, Israel congratulations on your unity", "Death to reaction" "Shame on you, liar, leave the university". This open defiance of the students clearly shook Shariatmadari, who as a close confidant of Ayatollah Khamenei is one of the most reactionary voices of the regime.

We publish the latest edition of the Farsi journal of the IMT - Mobareze Tabaghati. In this edition you will find articles about the underlying tensions which are accumulating in Iran. We also take a look at the situation of the working class and its latest movments. There are also articles on Kobane as well as the 150th anniversary of the First International.

As we get closer to the deadline for a deal on the nuclear negotiations, the question of “what now” is being asked by more and more people in Iran. The Rouhani government has bought itself time by turning the focus of the masses outwards to the nuclear negotiations, but sooner or later he will have to face the internal situation.

The forces of ISIS are closing in on the besieged town of Kobane on the Turkish-Syrian border. Thousands of terrified Kurds have fled to Turkey in a desperate attempt to bring supplies and reinforcements, but find themselves blocked by the Turkish army, which is preventing reinforcements, arms and supplies from crossing the frontier. While the rest of the world looks on, the people of Kobane are threatened with an unspeakable bloodbath.

The struggle of the Kurdish forces of the YPG and YPJ that have been defending the town of Kobane against the onslaught of ISIS forces that outnumber and outgun them, has been nothing short of heroic. The fight for Kobane has been raging for more than three weeks and has intensified in the last few days as the Kurdish forces had to withdraw back into the centre of Kobane from their defensive positions outside the town. Reports are now coming in of intense urban fighting as the YPG and YPJ are resisting the advances of ISIS street by street.

In a press conference on 28th August, US president Barack Obama openly admitted that he did not have a strategy yet to combat the jihadist ISIS group in Iraq and Syria. Obama’s confession reveals the impasse the US are facing with the new, explosive crisis provoked in the Middle East by the advance of ISIS, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.

In clinical Psychology, déjà vu is defined as “the experience of perceiving a new situation as if it had occurred before. It is sometimes associated with exhaustion or certain types of mental disorder”.

In the Presidential elections held at the beginning of June, Assad was declared the winner with 88.7% of the vote. That is not surprising considering the nature of the regime. However, in spite of the fact that these were in no way “free” elections, and that many people could not vote as they were in refugee camps beyond the borders of the country, what emerged was that a significant section of the population is backing Assad. Why is this?

Yesterday, the Israeli army embarked on a ground offensive into Gaza. Journalists on the ground have described the initial stages of the land invasion, recounting scenes of terror as Gaza is pounded by tank, cannons, airstrikes and missiles fired from Israeli warships off the coast. Israeli forces are bombing Gaza from the air, sea, and land.

A storm of bombs and fire grotesquely denominated “Operation Protective Edge” has been unleashed by the Israeli government on the civilian population of Gaza. Over the last days more than 400 tonnes of high potential bombs have hit targets within the densely populated Gaza Strip, killing at least 100 civilians, including many children, and injuring hundreds.

The speed with which large swathes of Iraqi territory have fallen to a relatively small force of armed militias begs the question as to how this was possible. The Iraqi armed forces were numerically much superior to the groups who took over towns such as Mosul in the north. The army actually melted away. This cannot be explained simply by referring to armed Islamic groups. Something deeper is going on.

On Tuesday, the Islamisc fundamentalist group ISIS captured Mosul, one of the key cities in Northern Iraq and then proceeded South towards Baghdad, capturing several important cities on the way. Hundreds of thousands have already fled fearing their lives under the rule of this reactionary group. This spectre of barbarism rising on the horizon, is the direct result of the cynical adventures of American imperialism.

The whole of the Egyptian establishment, from statesmen, to businessmen and TV presenters, are falling over each other as they praise the ‘landslide victory’ of Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi in the Egyptian presidential elections. However the stability that the bourgeois are craving for is further away than they think.

The class struggle is once more heating up in Egypt. Al-Sisi’s “popular” image is starting to fade as five union leaders are arrested after 50,000 post office workers came out on strike.

The die is cast. Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, the commander-in-chief of the army and Egypt's Minister of Defence, has resigned from his ministerial post and announced yesterday that he will be standing as a candidate in the presidential elections which he is likely to win.

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