Middle East

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.