Syria Freedom Forever decided to publish a series of articles on the recent events in Egypt, Turkey and Iran. All these countries have an influence on the Syrian revolutionary process and it is important to understand these dynamics, while adopting an internationalist and radical position, and above all always being on the side of the peoples struggling for the same reasons that the Syrian people: democracy and social justice.
Long live the peoples in struggle!
Egypt : a military coup or continuation of the popular revolution?
Article published on July 8 2013
June 30 2013 marked a new stage in the Egyptian revolutionary process that started on January 25 2011.
Events are scrambling at the time of the writing, including the death of more than 50 members of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) in Cairo on July 8 2013, killed by the bullets of the army … But the characterization by some of the recent events by Western governments and medias, and the MB in Egypt, as a simple military coup against President Morsi elected through the ballot boxes, shows a lack of understanding of a deep and ongoing uprising to pursue the objectives of the revolution: democracy, social justice and national independence.
The MB’s government throughout their year in power has not pursued these objectives, on the opposite they have been opposing them.
The argument of the coup ignores the largest demonstrations in the history of the country – more than 20 million protesters· demonstrating in the streets on June 30 – and especially the continued resistance of the working and popular classes against the anti-democratic and anti-social and pro-imperialist policies of the MBs allied until then to the army. Between January 1st and the end of May 2013, Egypt witnessed 5544 protests. Economic and social demands, driven by violations of workers’ rights and deteriorating services, caused two-thirds of these protests. More than 22 million signatures (half of the adult population) supported the “Rebellion” campaign demanding the departure of President Morsi. Did you say lack of democratic legitimacy?
Liberal logic or revolutionary reading
The institutional logic of a presidential regime governing increasingly by decrees, show more and more their limits (social and democratic) and can be used as an excuse to abandon the objectives of a revolution that has already cost many deaths among the the Egyptian people. The democracy that we believe in and defend is based on the participation and the active resistance of the masses in the streets and workplaces, not elections that would allow a president and his ministers to oppose and fight the popular aspirations. Did the Article 35 of The Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen of 1793 of June 24, 1793 not say: ” When the government violates the rights of the people, insurrection is for the people and for each portion of the people the most sacred of rights and the most indispensable of duties “?
In Egypt, we have witnessed, once more, the start of democratic process from below gathering tens of millions of people to overthrow a leader and a party in power, who had turned their backs on the objectives of the revolution and had instead fought them. And if the army took the lead, it is to avoid losing control and try to ensure the sustainability of a favorable order to the privileges of the Egyptian bourgeoisie and its American imperialist masters.
Salvation through the army?
The military intervention should not be misled about its alleged role as “savior” of the revolution, as the misconceptions promoted by Samir Amin or the national salvation front (NSF), consisting principally of liberals and nationalists. The army is the declared enemy of the working and popular classes and of the objectives of the revolution. Its current power grab (coup de force) is reminiscent of February 11, 2011, when Mubarak was overthrown out of fear of the deepening of the revolution that was brought by massive popular protests and widespread strikes.
If the army had remained passive, the revolutionary process would probably have radicalized and turned into a threat to the capitalist state as a whole, including the economic and political power of the military. If the temporary alliance between the MB and the army ended on June 30 2013, it is because the mandate given to the Islamists to stop the revolutionary process by anti-democratic and anti-social measures, actions that have never been condemned by those who are now shouting at the Coup d’Etat, has been a failure to deal with the resistance of the Egyptian working and popular classes.
The army will probably soon give mandate to the Liberals, under the guidance of Baradei – one of the main advocates of positive role of the military – to try to ride and halt the revolutionary tiger (process) and “restore order.” This requires that the progressive and revolutionary forces are vigilant and denounce any violation of fundamental democratic rights against anyone. Thus, despite the reactionary nature of the MB and its policies in powers, we condemn the murders committed against them by the army, the arbitrary arrest of their members and the closure of their television.
The revolution continues
Those who believe that “the people and the army are one” will soon be shown wrong, as those who have relied on the MB to continue the revolution after the presidential elections of June 2012.
The radical left will oppose liberals and nationalists who allied their forces with the army as it fought with the people the reactionary policies of the MB, when these latter allied with the army. It is naive to believe that the Egyptian people will accept a new dictatorship, civil or military. We should instead learn of a popular movement that succeeded in toppling two presidents in thirty months before giving lessons…
As stated by an Egyptian trade unionist commenting the fall of Morsi: ” If the next president refuses to meet our demands, we will rebel again. There is no other solution. Those who have tasted freedom will not be slaves again. The revolution will continue until its demands are met, no matter who sits in the presidential palace. We will never abandon the revolution and we will never give in.”
Viva the permanent revolution
Article published on June 28, 2013
For several weeks, popular mobilizations against the AKP (Party of Justice and Development) of Recep Tayyip Erdogan have shaken Turkey. The decision to destroy Gezi Park to replace it by a shopping mall and the violent repression of security forces against the environmental activists have been the spark of the outbreak of the uprising. But as we wrote in November 2012, frustrations in Turkey are much deeper (see this article http://www.lecourrier.ch/103490/le_modele_turc_et_les_revolutions_arabes).
Authoritarianism and wild neoliberalism of the Erdogan government is at the center of the popular protests and frustrations. Erdogan government tried by all means, media and law enforcement to delegitimize and put an end to the street protests. The Prime Minister and the press, under its influence, have characterized the protesters as terrorists, enemies of Islam, “putschists” secularists serving foreign forces jealous of the economic progress of Turkey. At the same time, the government did put pressure on the media to withhold information about the protests and the violent repression of the security forces.
In fact, more than 600 people were arrested, including doctors who treated injured protesters. The Turkish Medical Association reported on the evening of June 17, that 7822 protesters were wounded in various places and four people killed. The government has also threatened to use the army, former irreducible enemy of the AKP against the demonstrators.
These generalized attacks were however not able to shake the determination of the demonstrators to continue their protests. Solidarity rallies were held across the country in support of the popular dynamic in Gezi Park. The call of Istanbul authorities to parents to withdraw their children of Gezi Park ended with the arrival on site of more than a hundred protesters’ mothers, chanting “mothers are proud of the youth.”
The brutal eviction of protesters in Taksim Square by riot police, with tear gas and water cannons, nor has ended the energy of the protesters. The slogan “Taksim is everywhere, resistance is everywhere” was taken across the country, and experiences of participatory democracy started in Gezi Park have increased and multiplied in many neighborhoods of different cities, in the form of popular forums and gatherings.
Involving mainly, originally, leftists, environmentalists and artists, mobilizations were quickly extended to other sectors of society. Thousands of young activists, who, for many, were taking part in political activity for the first time, took to the streets, filled with rage.
The main opposition party (CHP, Republican People’s Party, secular Kemalist) and some right-wing groups that support the nationalist army, too, joined the processions. But their influence was limited since the early mobilization.
At the international level, critics displayed by certain Western countries against the AKP government in its handling of events demonstrate once again their hypocrisy to an actor who, not long ago, was praised by the same countries as a democratic and neoliberal model to be followed by other Muslim-majority countries, and continues to act as a staunch ally of NATO.
At the same time, some Western and Eastern media tried to limit the events in Turkey as a conflict between secularists and believers. An image that is far from the reality. Without denying that this issue, legitimate, is raised by some groups of demonstrators, it is truly the authoritarianism and the wild capitalism of the AKP, which is the target of popular mobilizations.
The hope actually is to build and see grow a radical political alternative, which combines democracy, social justice and recognition of the self-determination and rights of peoples in the Turkish state, on the basis of a newly politicized youth, is great. This alternative is so opposed to neoliberal, anti-feminist and authoritarian policies of the AKP as to the nationalist discourse hostile to the peoples of Turkey, especially regarding the rights of the Kurdish people and its denial of the Armenian genocide, while maintaining a position in favor of an increased political role of the army, despite this latter’s undemocratic characteristic.
The real change in Turkey goes through the unity of the working and popular classes of the different peoples of the country, opposing the attempts of the AKP and nationalists to divide them As a written sign of a protester put it, “Do you understand why they divide us between Sunnis and Alevis, between Turks and Kurds? This is because we are that (referring to the mass rallies and popular movement) when we are united. ”
An opportunity for the radical left to seize…
Iranian election, a victory for whom?
Article published on June 24 2013
The victory of the so called moderate candidate, Hassan Rohani, by 50.6% of the vote in the first round of the presidential elections of the Islamic Republic of Iran has been presented as a bitter snub to the Supreme Guide Ali Khamenei. This latter is the real power holder with his bureau and the Guardians of the Revolutions, which controls up to 40% of the Iranian economy. These three actors control foreign affairs policies, the nuclear issue and the redistribution of resources.
Crowds of Iranian men and women did celebrate in the streets of cities and villages throughout the country the victory of Hassan Rohani, but above all they expressed their revenge on the fraudulent elections of 2009, which led to the re-election of Ahmadinejad. The people voted for the candidate the least fundamentalist in appearance, but are these elections opening a new era of democratic openness and struggles for the Iranian working and popular classes? This is doubtful.
Presented as a “moderate”, Rohani was from 1982 to 1988 an influential member of the Supreme Defense Council and Secretary General of the Supreme National Security Council, one of the major repressive organ of the regime. He was also the chief negotiator on the nuclear issue under Khatami’s presidency between 2003 and 2005. Member of the Council of Experts, one of the highest authorities of the country, Rohani was a man of the seraglio, a guarantor of the dictatorial institutions of the Islamic Republic. In 2009, he did not say a word in favor of the popular protests and did not denounce the terrible repression of the regime.
It is also necessary to remind that the elections in Iran are far from democratic. According to the Iranian constitution, “the president must be elected from among the men versed in religion and politics and with the following qualifications: Iranian origin, Iranian nationality, ability to lead, wise, with an unblemished past, honest and pious, believing and adhering to the principles of the Islamic Republic of Iran and the official religion of the country. “Of the 800 nominations, the regime has retained only 8. The applications of Rahim Mashaie, the designed successor of Ahmadinejad, and Rafsanjani, one of the key men in the Islamic Republic, were denied. Rohani’s victory was also facilitated by the division of the fundamentalist camp, which had six candidates, and the rallying of the so called reformist camp.
The main objective of the regime, the Guide and the Revolutionary Guards, was to avoid a new uprising similar to 2009 and channel the frustrations of the people through a candidate loyal to the regime.
The will expressed by Rohani to reduce tensions with the West to resolve the nuclear issue and find a solution that would allow a lightening and reduction of trade and economic sanctions, while avoiding the risks of an Israeli intervention against nuclear sites suited the Guide and the Revolutionary Guards. After eight years of high and important tensions, they indeed want better relations with the West.
Also internally, the regime wants to use Rohani to defuse social and economic frustrations of the working and popular classes. Youth unemployment has exceeded 60%, and inflation reached 40% in recent months, while the neoliberal policies of the regime continue including its share of privatization of the public services and lower or suppression of subsidies. Mass layoffs have increased social resistance and strikes, increasingly important and numerous, despite the fierce repression. Iran’s foreign policy has also been a source of opposition within the population that has repeatedly denounced, through spontaneous popular protests, interventions alongside the Syrian dictatorship.
The crisis of the regime has continued to grow, as reinforced by the embezzlement of oil revenues and the divisions at the top of the Islamic Republic, especially between the former president and Khamenei.
The elections will not satisfy the need for social justice and freedom of the Iranian working and popular classes, only a popular uprising can topple the reactionary bourgeois regime of the Islamic Republic of Iran.