Middle East

Construction death traps in the Gulf

M worked as an architect on construction sites in Dubai. He told Solidarity what daily working life is like on those sites.


The major difference between a construction site in Dubai and one in Europe is the number of hours that they work. The workers are present on site from 7am to 7pm — twelve hours a day for six days a week, sometimes seven.

An architect on construction sites in Dubai told us what daily working life is like.

Around the world: 

Publications: 

Syria, Egypt, Israel-Palestine: 2013 AWL conference resolution

Resolution passed by AWL conference 26-27 October 2013 on Syria, Egypt, and Israel-Palestine.


Almost three years after the beginning of the 'Arab Spring', much of the scene is dominated by the rise of reactionary Islamist movements. The threat we identified as early as spring 2011, of the democratic upheavals being co-opted by Islamism, has to a large extent been realised.

Resolution passed by AWL conference 26-27 October 2013 on Syria, Egypt, and Israel-Palestine.

Around the world: 

The AWL, Labour and the Left: 

Syria, Egypt, Israel-Palestine: 2013 AWL conference resolution

Resolution passed by AWL conference 26-27 October 2013 on Syria, Egypt, and Israel-Palestine.


Almost three years after the beginning of the 'Arab Spring', much of the scene is dominated by the rise of reactionary Islamist movements. The threat we identified as early as spring 2011, of the democratic upheavals being co-opted by Islamism, has to a large extent been realised.

Resolution passed by AWL conference 26-27 October 2013 on Syria, Egypt, and Israel-Palestine.

Around the world: 

The AWL, Labour and the Left: 

Embassy protest begins solidarity campaign with migrant workers in Qatar

On 12 October activists demonstrated outside the Qatari embassy in London in solidarity with Nepali and other migrant workers in Qatar, hundreds of whom have been worked to death as the Gulf dictatorship prepares for the 2022 World Cup.

On 12 October members of the Nepali community in London and British labour movement and migrants' rights activists protested outside the Qatari embassy to protest against the treatment of migrant workers in Qatar. More than 700, mainly Nepali, workers have died in the last year, the majority as a result of heart failures or industrial accidents, as the Gulf dictatorship goes into a building overdrive in preparation for the 2022 World Cup.


Protest organiser Shreya Paudel is on the right

Around the world: 

Culture and Reviews: 

Trade Unions: 

Publications: 

Political Islam, Christian Fundamentalism, Marxism and the Left Today

Sean Matgamna

Click here for a range of articles that were part of the controversy sparked by the republication of this article

***

(Adapted from the introduction to Workers' Liberty 3/1: Marxism and Religion - January 2006)

Since Islamist terrorists attacked New York on 11 September 2001, religion, or concerns and interests expressed in religion, are at the centre of international politics to a degree without parallel for hundreds of years.

Issues and Campaigns: 

Around the world: 

Marxist Theory and History: 

Political Islam, Christian Fundamentalism, Marxism and the Left Today

In many countries, religion and disputes about, or expressed in terms of, religion have long been central to political life — in Christian Spain, Portugal, Ireland, or the USA; in Muslim Iran or Algeria; in Lebanon; in Israel-Palestine. Today, since Islamist terrorists attacked New York on 11 September 2001, religion, or concerns and interests expressed in religion, are at the centre of international politics to a degree without parallel for hundreds of years.

Since Islamist terrorists attacked New York on 11 September 2001, religion, or concerns and interests expressed in religion, are at the centre of international politics to a degree without parallel for hundreds of years.

Issues and Campaigns: 

Around the world: 

Marxist Theory and History: 

Understanding the Arab uprising

A review of Gilbert Achcar’s The People Want: A Radical Exploration of the Arab Uprising (Berkeley, University of California Press, 2013).

Unusually for a professor at the School of Oriental and African Studies, Gilbert Achcar has become the hate figure for parts of the left over recent months for his perceived support for big-power intervention in Libya.

Around the world: 

Culture and Reviews: 

The AWL, Labour and the Left: 

Publications: 

The SWP and the Iran-Iraq war: the sudden shift to super-anti-imperialism

In 1988 the SWP suddenly became very 'anti-imperialist'. It became a loud cheerleader for what it sees as progressive or revolutionary nationalisms.

It still talks of socialism and class struggle, but now these are proposed as merely the best means to secure the greater nationalist end. It fiercely supports Iraq in the Gulf War. It insists fanatically that it is not even worth thinking about an appeal to the Israeli working class, that Israel must be destroyed, and that a 'two-state' solution in Palestine is worthless even as an interim measure.

How the SWP shifted drastically on "anti-imperialism" in 1987-8.

The AWL, Labour and the Left: 

Around the world: 

Marxist Theory and History: 

Issues and Campaigns: 

AWL North East London film showing

Date: 

18 August, 2013 - 14:00 to 17:00

Location: 

Menard Hall, Galway Street, London EC1V 3SW

Description: 

Details of film to be announced: call 07883 607 506.

£4/£8 on the door (waged/unwaged), includes food and drink.

The AWL, Labour and the Left: 

Culture and Reviews: 

Marxist Theory and History: 

Around the world: 

Nick Cohen: still smoking the opium-pipe of the "liberal-interventionists"

Nick Cohen and the opium pipe of the "liberal-interventionists"

Assad's massacres in Syria make one wish for a benign world government that could prevent the horrors, or even for divine intervention.

But neither will happen. Some on the left respond to the omission by "demanding" that the USA and other big powers act like a benign world government, or deity.

They are smoking the "liberal-interventionist" opium pipe. Many of them, including Nick Cohen of the Observer, did that over Iraq.

Around the world: 

Bil’in arrest highlights Israeli intimidation in Palestinian villages

Mohammed Al-Khatib, a leading member of the Popular Committee in the famous Palestinian village of Bil’in, was arrested at the weekend during a non-violent demonstration in Nabi Salih village.

By Hamde abu Rahma and Rosie Huzzard

Around the world: 

Yemen: Saleh staggers on

Yemen’s President Ali Abdullah Saleh is resisting calls for him to step down, as the mass pro-democracy movement in the capital, Sanaa, continues to mobilise against him.

Protests began in January, and since then hundreds have been killed and many more injured.

However power is also contested in the capital by rival sections of the elite. In March several senior army commanders defected, and tribal militias fought the President’s forces in May and June.

Salah was badly injured by shell fire in June and left for treatment in Saudi Arabia for several months.

Yemen’s President Ali Abdullah Saleh is resisting calls for him to step down, as the mass pro-democracy movement in the capital, Sanaa, continues to mobilise against him.

Around the world: 

Publications: 

1968, 1989...2011? Is this a year of global revolt?

“Perhaps”, wrote a columnist in the staid Financial Times on 30 August, “2011 will come to rank alongside 1968 and 1989 as a year of global revolt”.

The columnist cites North Africa and the Middle East (including Israel), but also Chile, China, Greece... If Britain does not look like that yet, maybe it is just that this country is a backwater, and needs to catch up.

Capitalist crisis has shaken people up. “Ordinary citizens who feel excluded” have stirred against “an internationally connected elite”.

Revolt is breaking out all over, and most of it is broadly leftish, democratic, egalitarian. Socialists need to popularise positive demands which allow democratic and egalitarian impulses to express themselves rationally rather than being perverted.

Around the world: 

The AWL, Labour and the Left: 

Publications: 

Chaos grips Yemen

Yemen — even given the best possible of governments — would not be a well functioning state.

And Yemen has not got the best of all possible governments. It has the corrupt rule of Ali Abdullah Saleh, in power for over 40 years, and unwilling to let go.

President Saleh has not been seen in public since he was wounded on June 3, in an attack on his palace which left him with burns and shrapnel wounds. He left the country to be treated in Saudi Arabia, declaring he would soon be back.

Yemen is being pulled apart by a series of insurgencies: tribal, southern, Islamist and sectarian.

Around the world: 

Publications: 

Three dictators wobble, but don't yet fall

On Saturday 4 June, one of the three remaining Arab despots confronting mass rebellions — Ali Abdullah Saleh in Yemen — seemed to concede defeat, fleeing to Saudi Arabia for medical treatment. It was reported that 35 top officials had fled with him.

Tens of thousands celebrated in the capital, Sanaa, on Sunday 5 June.

But on Monday 6 June, Abdu-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, deputising for Saleh, refused to meet the opposition parties to discuss a transfer of power. He said Saleh would soon return, and there could be no talks until then.

The continuing revolts against dictatorship in Libya, Syria and Yemen.

Around the world: 

Publications: 

Middle East news in brief

The Rafah crossing, the only entry point to Gaza not controlled by Israel, was opened by Egypt on 28 May.

The opening will mean a great deal to the people of Gaza. A Palestine General Federation of Trade Unions activist and socialist based in Nablus, in the West Bank, told Solidarity:

“The opening of the border represents the end of the siege, and proof that the corrupt Arab dictatorships were partners in this siege.

“Meanwhile, the recent Palestinian protests on Israel’s borders were part of the non-violent resistance and revolution across the Arab world.”

A round-up of news from across the Middle East.

Around the world: 

Publications: 

Yemen: half way to hell

The main political lines in the four-month-old mobilisations to oust President Ali Abdullah Saleh are becoming blurred.

The opposition front which has led protests in the capital, Sanaa, demanding Saleh steps down, is led by secular leftists, Baathists, Nasserites and Islamists. Saleh is too weak to use the kind of systematic violence currently employed by the Syrian regime, but his forces have resorted to bursts of killing — splintering his support and hardening the resolve of the young protesters.

Yemen’s neighbours have become increasingly alarmed at the chaos on their borders, with a mini war in the capital and Islamists taking over the southern town of Zinjibar.

Around the world: 

Publications: 

A view of Bahrain

People in Bahrain are expecting the worst every moment. The military crackdown on protesters led by Saudi troops has unleashed an ugly racist face.

Bahrain was always a liberal country and the ruling regime itself is a secular tribe. But as a tribe, it had a problem with equality and justice. Other citizens, not in tribes, found themselves lost as they were treated as second or third class citizens.

The military crackdown on protesters in Bahrain led by Saudi troops has revealed the ugly racist face of the regime.

Around the world: 

Publications: 

Syria: democracy protests spread

Pro-democracy protests have spread to the Syrian capital, Damascus. On Friday at least 15 people were shot dead in Douma, a satellite of Damascus.

On Saturday, Syrian security forces arrested dozens of people, mostly in Deraa and Douma. Those that have been arrested have been brutalised and tortured. On Sunday. thousands marched in Douma as eight of those gunned down were buried. The crowd chanted “Down with the regime!”

Pro-democracy protests have spread to the Syrian capital Damascus with at least 15 people shot dead on the outskirts of the city.

Around the world: 

Publications: 

Arab revolution means jihad is over

“Socialism is what it is everywhere — weak and still trying to get its political bearings. The idea that in the Middle East the ‘masses’ can quickly become socialist, unleash a ‘process of permanent revolution’, and offer a socialist alternative can not but function in socialist observers to dissolve political standards, critical faculties and sober political judgment — and replace them with open-mouthed credulity and naivety towards political Islam." (Solidarity 3/199)

A contribution to the debate on the role of Islamism in the Arab revolution.

Issues and Campaigns: 

Around the world: 

Publications: 

The battle for democracy in the Arab revolution

Sean Matgamna examines the prospects of the Arab Revolution, and compares it to certain events in recent history.

The Arab revolution, the inspiring mass popular movement for freedom and democracy, sweeping across the Middle East might be compared to the “Springtime of the Peoples”, in 1848, when mass popular revolution spread from France to Germany, then to other countries, such as Hungary and Italy.

Most of them were quickly defeated.

The for now unanswerable question hanging over the Middle East is whether the Arab revolution will culminate in bourgeois democratic regimes or Islamist totalitarianism.

Publications: 

Around the world: 

Marxist Theory and History: 

Issues and Campaigns: 

Clashes in Bahrain

The protest movement in Bahrain has revived recently, with thousands of activists blockading the King Faisal Highway which leads to Bahrain’s main financial district. Security forces attempted to disperse them using tear gas.

At least three people are reported to have been killed in the clashes, with the regime claiming that three policemen have also died.

The protest movement in Bahrain has revived recently with thousands of activists blockading the highway which leads to the main financial district.

Around the world: 

Publications: 

Yemen opposition gunned down

In an effort to maintain himself in power Yemen’s president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, resorted to extreme violence on Friday when over 50 anti-government protesters were killed by snipers in the capital, Sanaa.

Denying he was responsible for the murders, Saleh then stated, “The great majority of the Yemeni people are with security, stability and constitutional law [bizarrely, meaning himself].”

More than 50 Yemeni anti-government protesters have been killed by snipers in the capital, Sanaa.

Around the world: 

Publications: 

How Twitter is like a horse

Later this month I’ve been invited to debate some of the leading online campaigners in Britain on the role of new media in the revolutions taking place in Middle East.

The organisers are calling it “Activism vs Slacktivism” and no, I don’t understand what that means either. But I do know the organisations that will be up on the podium with me — including Amnesty International and Oxfam.

The web, email, social networks, text messages and blogging are all great tools but they are only tools. Revolutions can succeed without them, and revolutions can fail even when these tools are widely available.

Around the world: 

Publications: 

Continuing turmoil in Yemen

Last weekend, in Yemen’s capital Sana’a, police attacked opposition demonstrators with gas and live rounds, killing several and bringing the total number of deaths during the recent round of protests to more than 30.

Islamists seem to be increasingly visible in the previously non-party and mainly secular opposition movement in the capital. A radical cleric — once an ally of the president — Abdul Majid al-Zindani, has joined the protests. He is calling for an Islamic caliphate.

Police in the Yemeni capital Sana’a have opened fire on opposition demonstrators with gas and live rounds, bringing the total number of deaths during the recent round of protests to more than thirty.

Around the world: 

Publications: 

Will the revolutions in North Africa also bring down the "Socialist International"?

Germany's Social Democratic Party (SPD), the leading party in the "Socialist International" for many decades, is talking about leaving the "International".

Both Mubarak's NDP in Egypt, and Ben Ali's RCD in Tunisia, were until their downfall members of the "Socialist International".

After Mubarak and Ben Ali and Qaddafi, another victim of the revolutions in North Africa and the Middle East may be... the "Socialist International", discredited by the fact that Mubarak's and Ben Ali's parties were both members until their downfall.

Around the world: 

The AWL, Labour and the Left: 

New revolutions need clarity not confusionism

Hardt and Negri’s musings on the recent uprisings in North Africa and the Middle East (Guardian, 25 February 2011) are a studied exercise in rapacity. Having mapped the road to nowhere for the anti-capitalist movement a decade ago, these confusionists now seem intent on misdirecting the great revolutionaries who’ve topped dictators.

Read the rest of the article here.

The revolutions in the Middle East may have removed the political figureheads, but they have not smashed the state. The armies and the bureaucrats remain in place in Egypt and Tunisia; and socio-economic relations are far from overturned.

Issues and Campaigns: 

Around the world: 

Publications: 

Industrial focus in Oman; deadlock in Bahrain

As we go to press on 1 March, street demonstrations in the oil-rich Gulf state of Oman are in their fourth day.

The protests have been centred in the state’s main industrial city, Sohar. Al Jazeera reports: “Hundreds of protesters blocked access to an industrial area that includes the port, a refinery and aluminium factory...

“’We want to see the benefit of our oil wealth distributed evenly to the population’, one protester yelled over a loudhailer near the port”.

Demonstrations in Oman are drawing in hundreds of workers while in Bahrain the political situation seems deadlocked.

Around the world: 

Publications: 

New revolutions need clarity, not confusionism

Hardt and Negri’s musings on the recent uprisings in North Africa and the Middle East (Guardian, 25 February 2011) are a studied exercise in rapacity. Having mapped the road to nowhere for the anti-capitalist movement a decade ago, these confusionists now seem intent on misdirecting the great revolutionaries who’ve topped dictators.

Issues and Campaigns: 

Around the world: 

Pages

Subscribe to RSS - Middle East