Middle East

The strange case of Malcolm Bidali

Last summer, the international trade union movement was celebrating the news from Qatar. The country which is slated to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup had come under enormous pressure to respect the rights of workers, especially migrant workers, who were getting the country ready for such a high profile event. The headline on the website of the Brussels-based International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) could not have been more gushing: “A new dawn for migrant workers in Qatar”. The article went on to say that “new laws adopted today by the State of Qatar are a game changer in the protection...

Against the Saudi war in Yemen

Joe Biden has announced the end of US support for Saudi-led offensive military operations in Yemen, arguing in a foreign policy speech that they have “created a humanitarian and strategic catastrophe”. The details remain to be seen, but we should use this shift to exert pressure on the British government too. Intervention by the predominantly Arab military coalition headed by Saudi Arabia, directed against Iranian-backed Shia Islamist/nationalist Houthi militias, has resulted in many tens of thousand of fatalities, including over ten thousand civilians killed directly by coalition military...

Lebanon in revolt

Joey Ayoub is a Lebanese writer and activist. He spoke to Daniel Randall from Solidarity about the protest movement in Lebanon in the aftermath of the Beirut explosion. For a previous interview with Joey about the Lebanese protests, from November 2019, click here. DR: What are the implications of the recent resignation of the government? How has this been received by the protest movement? JA: This is the second resignation since the 17 October revolution. Then-prime minister Saad Hariri had resigned soon after the revolution and was replaced by Hassan Diab, who is himself now-interim prime...

International news: Iran, Kuwait, Singapore, Qatar, Ecuador, New York

Iran’s official figures show new Covid-19 cases peaking there about 30 March and deaths peaking about 4 April, and 5,118 deaths so far. An Iranian activist told Solidarity: “The official figures are rubbish! What the true number is nobody can tell. Some people are saying there is going to be a second wave. Lots of workers have died.” Mohammad-Hossein Sepehri, a teacher jailed in Mashhad’s Vakilabad prison, has contracted coronavirus. He has been denied medical care. There are many teachers and hundreds of other labour and social rights activists languishing in the Iranian regime’s prisons and...

No relief for Yemen’s poor and starving people

Saudi-backed forces are fighting to take control of the port city of Hodeidah. Hodeidah, on Yemen’s West coast, has over half-a-million inhabitants. It is the only major port controlled by the Houthi insurgents who have had control of most of the populated areas of Yemen since late 2014. The Houthis have been battling a Saudi-led coalition which started a bombing campaign against them in 2015. The war has killed 10,000 (two-thirds of whom are civilians) and injured 55,000 people. Most of Yemen’s infrastructure has been destroyed or damaged, including almost all health centres. The Saudis aim...

War clouds gather in Middle East

Threats of war are piling up on all sides in the Middle East. On 8 May US president Donald Trump is announcing his decision on whether the US will withdraw from the 2015 deal lifting many economic sanctions on Iran and restricting Iran’s nuclear program. He is expected to withdraw. Trump’s new National Security Adviser, since 9 April, is John Bolton, a long-time advocate of the US bombing Iran. On 14 May Trump will make the symbolic and provocative move of declaring the US Embassy to Israel officially sited in Jerusalem rather than Tel Aviv. 14 May is the 70th anniversary of the declaration of...

21 lies the "Holocaust-mitigator" left tells itself on Israel/Palestine

A central fact of our political situation is that the left, especially the ostensible revolutionary left, is a major source of antisemitism — they say “anti-Zionism” — in the country and in the labour movement, including the Labour Party. Jeremy Corbyn has admitted that there are pockets of antisemitism in the Labour Party. On the self-described revolutionary left you will find only pockets of opposition to the “anti-Zionism” which becomes antisemitism — AWL for example. The root of “left-wing” antisemitism is the belief that Israel should not exist, that it is a historically non-legitimate...

Kuwaiti oil workers take on the ruling elite

By the time this paper goes to press over 13,000 oil workers in Kuwait will have been on strike for four days. Strikes are exceedingly rare in the oil producing oligarchies of the Gulf States. The workforce, made up of mainly migrant workers, usually have appalling living conditions and no civil or trade union rights. This is the first major strike in Kuwait in many years, although the last months have seen growing activity from a number of Kuwaiti unions in tourism and from municipal workers. There was a flurry of public sector strikes in September-October 2011 leading to street protests, the...

Eurocentrism as a fig leaf, and the art of conjuring in politics

Facts: On New Year’s Eve 2015, simultaneous coordinated sexual attacks took place against women in public space in about 10 cities, mostly in Germany, but also in Austria, Switzerland, Sweden, and Finland… Several hundred women, to this day, filed a case for sexual attack, robbery, and rape. These attacks were perpetrated by young men of migrant descent (be they immigrants, asylum seekers, refugees, or other) from North Africa and the Middle East. Unsurprisingly, reactions were: Dissimulation of facts, of their international coordination, of their magnitude for as long as could possibly be...

Flags and solidarity

In the wake of events like the massacre in Paris, almost all responses seem inadequate or wrong — especially the official and establishment ones. Solidarity with the French nation is an easy sentiment, but far from a simple one. And among a wide variety of commentators and activists — predominantly on the left — it has become usual to denounce the selective mourning of Parisians, as opposed to those killed in Beirut or Baghdad. Flags are, to be sure, a bad way to remember people. Meaningful solidarity — which can only ever be and aimed at addressing real political and material problems, and...

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