Middle East

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...

Corbyn and the Middle East: the hypocrisy of the right, a challenge for the left

The controversy sparked, or ramped up, by Jeremy Corbyn’s appearance on Channel 4 News on 13 July raises important issues for the left. (You can watch it on the Channel 4 website here.) Corbyn responded to interviewer Krishnan Guru-Murthy asking about his description of Lebanese Islamists Hesbollah and Palestinian Islamists Hamas as “our friends” by saying that he doesn't agree with these organisations, but that peace in the Middle East requires negotiations with all sorts of people. The first thing to say is that, however one assesses the performance and motives of Guru-Murthy and Channel 4...

Civil war in Yemen

On 26 March a broad Saudi-led Sunni-Arab coalition began bombing opposition bases in Yemen. The Saudi operation, named Decisive Storm, also involved moving 150,000 troops, plus tanks and heavy weapons, up to their border with Yemen. Both Saudi Arabia and Egypt have threatened to invade to prop up their favoured regime, led by Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, and against Hadi’s Shia opponents, the Houthi militia. They won’t be eager to put troops on the ground. Their main target, the Houthi fighters in northern Yemen are formidable opponents; the Houthis were not beaten by Saudi bombing — supporting a...

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