Down with imperialist aggression against Syria! USA, hands off Syria!

[The following is a recent statement from revolutionary Maoists in Brazil, detailing their analysis of the ever-growing civil war in Syria as a proxy war by contending imperialist powers for control of the Middle East.  It is an important contribution to the international debate among revolutionaries, over the shifting relations and aggressions, direct and indirect, by leading powers in the world imperialist system. — Frontlines ed.]

Proletarians and oppressed people of the world, unite!

Declaration of the Revolutionary Front for the Defence of the People’s Rights – Brazil

About the recent situation in Syria

In the last months, the imperialist Yankee has intensified its manipulations and provocations to justify its military invasion in Syria. The US propaganda machine is once again creating smokescreens to justify to the world public yet another predatory war. “To defend democracy,” “human rights”, stop use of chemical weapons and weapons of mass destruction;” these are the new smokescreens of the Yankee imperialism in its counter-revolutionary offensive, reviving the “War on Terror”. These were also the same pretexts used to justify the aggression towards Afghanistan, Iraq, Mali, Libya, and many other countries. by the very forces  who are the most responsible for countless massacres and use of weapons of mass destruction in human history; imperialism, mainly Yankee.

Since 2011, the people in Syria are subjected to imperialist predatory war that currently is conducted in the form of a civil war. The armed forces of Assad’s regime (sustained politically, economically, and militarily by Russian imperialism) and the self-proclaimed ‘Free Syrian Army’ (mercenary forces directly controlled by the USA through their intelligence services and regional allies) are the contenders of this inter-imperialist dispute on the Syrian territory. In this war all kinds of horrors against the masses have been practised, without this having motivated attention or outcry from the well know”international institutions”. Continue reading

Abu Dhabi buying a new mercenary force to suppress “internal unrest” against petro-monarchies

Colombia Worries as Troops Join Arab Mercenary Force

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates, June 7 (UPI) —

Colombia’s defense ministry is alarmed about an exodus of top soldiers to the United Arab Emirates to join a highly paid U.S.-led mercenary force organized by Erik Prince, billionaire founder of the security firm Blackwater.
Prince, who sold Blackwater in 2010 after it was involved in killings and scandals in Iraq, went to Abu Dhabi, capital of the Persian Gulf federation, in 2011.
He signed on to form an 800-man battalion of mercenaries for what emirati officials termed “anti-terrorism operations” inside and outside the country.
But it’s widely believed in Gulf security circles the force, being assembled under considerable secrecy by Prince’s Reflex Responses registered in the emirates, will be used for undisclosed special operations for the seven desert emirates that make up the federation.
That’s expected to include putting down “internal unrest” that might challenge the ruling families, as happened in Egypt, Libya, Tunisia and Yemen, and which is growing in Kuwait and Bahrain. Continue reading

A rare show in iron-fisted monarchy: “Saudis in capital protest for release of prisoners”

saudi demoMARIAM RIZK, Associated Press, February 10, 2013

CAIRO (AP) – Residents of the Saudi Arabian capital Riyadh say more than 100 people have demonstrated to call for the release of people detained without charge.  Saudi security officials say they arrested at least five people. They spoke anonymously in line with police regulations.

Dozens of security vehicles blocked the intersections of two streets Saturday where the demonstrations were taking place.

North of Riyadh in the city of Buraydah, around 30 people – mostly women related to the prisoners – held a similar rally.

Women demonstrated in Riyadh

Women demonstrated in Riyadh

In past years, a small number of Saudis have demonstrated in Riyadh to demand the release of thousands of people detained without charge or trial on suspicion of involvement in militant activity. Some have been held for up to 15 years.

Protests are rare in the conservative kingdom.

Power Politics 101: Promoters of butcher Assad, Beware — Russia follows capitalist realpolitik

[Seeing the writing on the wall–that the days of their “ally” Assad of Syria are numbered–capitalist-imperialist power Russia (a growing imperialist contender to US’ imperial hegemon) seeks to ensure and preserve a piece of post-Assad Syria for its own regional interests.  Those who have made spurious claims that the Russian/Assad-ist Syrian alliance is somehow an anti-imperialist front, will have to adjust their framework, substantially…..Meanwhile, talks between US imperialists and the “official” Syrian opposition have, simultaneously, been held.  The fragmentary and formative revolutionary people’s forces have, to all indications, played no role in either set of talks with imperialists, as they have been either decimated or, driven underground or into exile, are making difficult preparations for the future. — Frontlines ed.]

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Russia in ground-breaking talks with Syrian opposition

03 Feb 2013 – MUNICH, Germany (AFP)

[Photo:  Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov]
Ground-breaking talks between the Russian foreign minister and the Syrian opposition leader have bolstered a global push to narrow sharp differences over how to end the conflict in Syria.

Moscow said Saturday it wanted to keep in regular contact with the Syrian opposition, after its Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Syrian National Coalition leader Moaz al-Khatib met for the first time.

“I reminded Khatib that after the creation of the coalition and the appointment of their leader, we immediately demonstrated our interest in maintaining regular contact,” Russian news agencies quoted Lavrov as saying after the meeting on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference.

“We will make that happen,” he added.

[Photo: A rebel fighter poses in front of a Soviet-made T55 tank abandoned by pro-Syrian regime forces in al-Yaqubia in northern Syrian, on February 2, 2013. Ground-breaking talks between the Russian foreign minister and the Syrian opposition leader have bolstered a global push to narrow sharp differences over how to end the conflict in Syria.]

Lavrov had earlier Saturday held talks with US Vice President Joe Biden and UN-Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi amid strong disagreement between Moscow and Washington about ways to end the 22-month Syria conflict, which according to the United Nations has claimed upwards of 60,000 lives.

Khatib, who became the head of the coalition late last year, reiterated on the opening day of the Munich talks Friday an earlier surprise announcement that his group is ready for dialogue with the Damascus regime — subject to conditions including the release of 160,000 detainees.

Lavrov said Moscow welcomed the initiative, adding: “If we take into account the fact that the coalition was founded on a refusal to engage in a dialogue with the regime, it’s a very important step.” Continue reading

The barbaric comprador monarchy of Saudi Arabia defends beheading

[That barbarism, feudalism, monarchism, and imperialism present an undivided front of arrogant impunity–of acting like nothing’s wrong–is shocking and disgusting, but expected, given their history and nature.  But that the story is so hidden, in the highly touted “information age,” is a shameful crime of media who claim, falsely, that they are objective, the basis for an informed democracy.  No, they are premeditated co-conspirators with the barbaric powers-that-be. — Frontlines ed.]

Charlotte Rachael Proudman, The Independent (UK), Tuesday 15 January 2013

The beheading of a housemaid in Saudi Arabia highlights slave-like conditions

In 2010, 27 migrant workers were executed in Saudi Arabia and, according to Amnesty International, more than 45 foreign maids are currently on death row

A young Sri Lankan woman was beheaded with a sword last Wednesday in a Dawadmi, a small town in Saudi Arabia. Rizana Nafeek was found guilty of murdering her employers’ child – a crime she vehemently denied until death.

Rizana is not the only migrant worker to have been executed in Saudi Arabia – at least 27 were executed in 2010 and more than 45 foreign maids are facing execution on death row according to Amnesty International. Rizana’s deadly fate highlights the plight of migrant workers all around the world.

Like many migrant workers’ Rizana’s story began when she left her home country Sri Lanka in 2005 for Saudi Arabia to work as a housemaid where she could earn enough money to support her relatives. In the same year she was arrested, charged, convicted and sentenced to death for murdering her employers’ four-month-old son, Kayed bin Nayef bin Jazyan al-Otaibi. Rizana said the child choked on milk and died. The child’s family believed Rizana had strangled the child after attempting to bottle-feed him.

Once arrested Rizana battled with an unjust Saudi legal system. “Defendants are rarely allowed formal representation by a lawyer and in many cases are kept in the dark about the progress of legal proceedings against them,” Amnesty International said. The Sri Lankan government and human rights organisations campaigned for Rizana to have a fair trial.

Rizana did not have legal representation prior to her trial – and – she was physically assaulted and forced to sign a confession under duress, which she later retracted. Under international law Rizana at the age of 17 was too young to receive the death penalty. As a signatory to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, Saudi Arabia is prohibited from sentencing a child under the age of 18 at the time of the alleged offence to death. It is unlikely Saudi Arabia will be subject to any stringent sanctions for violating international law, which led to the death of a young woman. Continue reading

Syrian people’s just rebellion needs people’s war–not FSA, Assad, or imperialism

[The conflict in Syria has been the subject of much  twisted coverage by the US and EU and its surrogates, by supporters of anti-US bourgeois nationalists, by partisans of Russian imperialism against US hegemonists, by advocates of the regional power of the Iranian Islamic Republic, and by “pragmatic opportunists” who wink at the role of Saudi Arabia/Bahrain/GCC.  Many people, outraged at the mass suffering and mass killing of Syrian people, have been justifiably confused, especially as the issues have been distorted by imperialist and reactionary medias which serve these interests.  And to confuse even more, many of the reactionary medias proclaim themselves as anti-imperialist, though careful reading reveals these to be promoting one reactionary power versus another.

We recently received the following statement and analysis of the situation in Syria from revolutionary Maoists in Brazil.  Views of revolutionary internationalists have too rarely been heard on this issue, and so we present these views as a good counterpoint to the prevailing revisionist and reactionary accounts.  We believe these comrades in Brazil have done significant groundwork toward the analysis needed. 

There are some aspects of this analysis which require more work and debate, in our view.  In particular, their argument that People’s War–if defined as China’s revolutionary military strategy–is universally  applicable to all countries, is a view we do not share.  Our understanding that the Maoist strategic conception of People’s War, (as summarized by the phrase, “surrounding the cities from the countryside”), only applies to feudal, semi-feudal, colonial and semi-colonial societies, where repressive power in the countryside is sufficiently weak that people’s revolutionary war, seizing and expanding significant liberated areas is an accurately applied historic strategem.  In other countries, where reactionary state power is effectively deployed everywhere, a long period of amassing revolutionary political forces through primarily political , not military, struggle, must precede the armed struggle for state power.  These general categories and strategies have often been taken literally, without detailed investigation and analysis, at great and disastrous cost to revolutionary forces.  The need for detailed study of concrete conditions is especially indicated by the ongoing changes in capitalist-imperialist production, distribution, and state power–and the distribution and growth of people’s forces.

But some use the term People’s War, not in the sense of the “countryside-overtaking-city” strategem, but synonymous with people’s armed struggle for power in all variety of circumstance–as a statement of principle, in opposition to the revisionist and social-democratic notion of the “peaceful, electoral” road to power.  In this sense, People’s War (where the masses take up the gun against reactionary power, and where the gun is led by revolutionary politics) is a universal revolutionary principle.  —  Frontlines ed.]

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Proletarian and oppressed peoples of the whole world, united!

Statement of the Revolutionary Front in Defence of the People’s Rights, RFDPR, Brasil, on the present situation in Syria

DOWN THE IMPERIALIST ALLOTMENT IN SYRIA!

LONG LIVE THE PEOPLE’S WAR OF THE PEOPLES IN ALL COUNTRIES!

“The combat to imperialism and reaction without the inseparable combat to opportunism is nothing but empty phraseology”.

Lenin: “Imperialism and the splitting of socialism”.

The nation of Syria has been suffering a bloody imperialist plundering war in the shape of  a civil war. Assad’s armed forces and the so-called free army of Syria are the contestants of this inter-imperialist dispute for the Syrian territory. Syria has been converted into a new treachery for the anti-imperialist world resistance and the newest enclave of the inter-imperialist struggles.

At the present conditions of this struggle development any result will not bring any advance for the Syrian people and nation; it will only deepen the imperialist dominance over the country and oppression on the people since until now an independent and organized intervention of the armed masses has lacked of a proletarian vanguard even very little constituted.

The March 2011 revolt was a spontaneous mass uprising against a fascist regime led by Bashar al Assad and it is part of an overwhelming wave of people’s rebellions that happened all over the North of Africa and Middle East. The mass rebellions awakened in those countries, despite being developed in an unconscious form and not having a proletarian leadership, have the same root: they are antifascist, anti-feudal and anti-imperialist ones.

The revolt is a just rebellion against a bureaucratic comprador regime at the service of imperialism mostly Russian that has been controlled for decades by the Assad dynasty.

The Yankee imperialism has taken advantage from the situation, as for instance in all Arabic countries rebellions, manipulating the mass struggle, deviating them from the revolutionary path, to guarantee their interests in the region. The intelligentsia services for the imperialist coalition forces have formed and armed a mercenary army self-named Syria’s Free Army –SFA, directed commanded by their agents with the aim of changing the Syrian regime. Thus the USA wants to change the Russian control over Syria, breaking with the relationship with Hezbollah, surround and isolate Iran and prepare the grounds to attack it.

All this complex plan in the Middle East and North of Africa is part of a new war of imperialist plundering and allotment against the peoples. The Yankee imperialism, still being an unique and hegemonic superpower in the world, has declared its objective to create a map of a “New Middle East”, that is, a Middle East totally controlled by the USA, without the influence and interference of other imperialist powers and mostly without the people’s armed resistance of the masses.

The Yankee imperialism, amidst a deep and protracted crises, hit by the people of the world, mostly in the main front of the war in Iraq and Afghanistan and by the people’s wars in India, the Philippines, Turkey and Peru, with its hegemony questioned by the inter-imperialist struggle, is more and more at the verge of an unprecedented war.

In this context, the events in Syria are firstly and mostly part of the contradiction between oppressed peoples/countries and imperialist powers; secondly, the inter-imperialist contradiction that could convert into the principal contradiction. This one happens through the dispute for the control of colonies and semi-colonies accumulating and being able to develop into a direct confront in the form of a new world imperialist war. Continue reading

Protests Over Detentions Lead to More Detentions in Saudi Arabia

[Rebelling against injustice is basic to people in every society, and it often takes the form–or begins with the form–of protest, of an appeal to authority.  There is an assumption which drives all protests:  the authority will listen, be responsive, has a certain trust with the people to solve problems that are brought to attention by protests.  But when the protest reveals the unresponsiveness and illegitimacy of those in power, different forms of rebellion inevitably take shape, and people no longer line up at the King’s “suggestion box.”  But, it often takes time for rebels to gather the understanding and forces to challenge illegitimate authority in revolutionary ways. — Frontlines ed.]

November 29th, 2012

By Justin Dorman
Impunity Watch Reporter, Middle East

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia – On Tuesday about fifteen men, twenty-two women, and eight children were detained for participating in a protest just outside the Human Rights Commission in Saudi Arabia’s capital of Riyadh. The women and children were let go that day, however, the men are still being held by the Saudi Arabian security forces.

[Saudi Arabian religious leader, the grand mufti, believes that protests are nothing more than danger that can only bring chaos. (Photo Courtesy of Ahlul Bayt News Agency)]

The participants of the peaceful protest claimed that its purpose was to criticize the states improper treatment of their detained relatives. They congregated outside of the Human Rights Commission hoping to be heard by the body because no other Saudi Arabian authority would previously listen to their complaints or attempt to resolve the dispute.

The protestors’ complaints centered around two main issues concerning their detained relatives. Some cited inadequate medical care for detainees was a source of frustration. One woman claimed that her husband had been urinating blood for six months without ever receiving medical assistance.

Many others were protesting the complete lack of basis under which their relatives were being detained. Mohammed Al-Qahtani, a human rights activist and board member of the Saudi Civil and Political Rights Association, described the protests as demonstrations by family members for prisoners who have been, “languishing in jail cells without due process” for years. Continue reading

Amnesty International: “Saudi Arabia must halt attempts to stifle peaceful protest”

16 October 2012

Saudi human rights activist Mohammed Saleh al-Bajady was sentenced in April 2012 to four years’ imprisonment and a five-year travel ban for communicating with foreign bodies. 

[Photo: Saudi human rights activist Mohammed Saleh al-Bajady was sentenced in April 2012 to four years’ imprisonment and a five-year travel ban for communicating with foreign bodies.]

The Saudi Arabian authorities must withdraw their threat to deal “firmly” with people taking part in demonstrations and refrain from detaining those who exercise their right to peaceful protest, Amnesty International said.

The organization’s call came after the Minister of Interior issued a statement last week warning anyone taking part in demonstrations that they would face prosecution and be “firmly dealt with” by members of the security forces.

“The Saudi authorities must end their repeated moves to stifle people’s attempts to protest against the widespread use of arbitrary detention in the country,” said Philip Luther, Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Programme.

“The right of people to peaceful protest must be respected and the security forces must refrain from detaining or using excessive force against people who exercise it.” Continue reading

Partizan analyzes Arab uprising and Syrian opposition, imperialism, and Turkey

[As part of our ongoing coverage of people’s struggles against reactionary and oppressive regimes in the middle east, we are posting this new statement from Partizan, a revolutionary periodical from Turkey, which analyzes the current struggles in the middle east, focused on Syria, Turkey, borders, and Kurdish areas. — Frontlines ed.]

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AGAINST IMPERIALISM, FASCISM, COMPRADOR CAPITALISM AND ALL KINDS OF REACTIONARIES

PARTIZAN

The Arab uprisings and the opposition against Assad in Syria -­- The correct position in the light of a class analysis!

In North Africa and the Middle East a period, also expressed as the “Arab spring”, arised and still continues. In many occasions we have expressed our approach about the situation in these areas and towards the people’s movement. Current Syria based agenda is advancing fast with an inclusion of and shaping in direct relation with our country.

Hence, from the ruling classe front to the front of the revolutionaries, democrats and patriots all express their views, formulations and evaluations on this issue. Also the Marxist‐-­Leninist-­‐Maoists have shared their views with the public about Syria in the context of the Assa d government, the oppositional movement and the triangle of the imperialist occupation together with its subcontractors. Nevertheless, as Maoists from our country we feel the need that we must once more state our comments on this issue in a period in which many facts become interlocked with each other.

…There cannot be any just reason for such an intervention, and reasons given from imperialism are definitely not convincing nor can they be accepted…

After expressing this aim, we can start with some general definitions on the specifics of the topic: to have a country that faces an attack from the outside and which has been designed by the imperialist states, needs without a doubt, an open and clear opposition from all revolutionaries, democrats and patriots. Besides this, there cannot be any just reasons for such a intervention, reasons given from imperialism are definitely not convincing nor can they be accepted. We would like to begin with stressing that this is unquestionable. Furthermore, in a situation of an imperialist occupation, in standing firm in concern of the characteristic of the aspiration and the struggle for independence, in a national front policy’ it becomes a fundamental task to form an alliance of anti-­‐occupation forces. The position behind this is the fundamental principal that all people and every nation have a right to determine their own future.

Together with this, the main point of the discussion of many problems we are facing is that such a situation isn’t there. We can say that the interventions of imperialism, their effort to cover the reality of what really happens, makes it complicated for us to understand the essence of what happens. “Anti-­‐imperialism” could be a strut to underestimate the revolts of the people against the tyrannical powers. Thus it is beneficial to look at the current developments in Syria from that perspective. Continue reading

Frantz Fanon and the Arab Uprisings: An Interview with Nigel Gibson

from Thinking Africa: Fanon 50 years later
Nigel Gibson was interviewed by Yasser Munif in Jadaliyya:  “The Wretched of the Earth, Frantz Fanon’s magnum opus, was published in 1961, a few days after his death. The book was not only influential for several generations of grassroots movements and activists in Africa, the United States, and Latin America; it was also discussed and debated extensively in intellectual circles across the globe. The reception of the book was more mitigated in the Arab world. This might be due to Fanon’s sweeping criticism of national bourgeoisie, which seized power after decolonization and became an intermediary class between Western powers and local populations. The Martiniquan intellectual was skeptical of revolutions from above, as was the case with several anti-colonialist movements in the Arab World. Interestingly, while the Arabic translation of the The Wretched of the Earth came out shortly after its publication in French, it omitted many passages because they were critical of the national bourgeoisie. Fifty years later, Fanon is almost absent in public discourses in the Middle East and is still marginal in the Maghreb. The uprisings should have been an excellent opportunity for Arab intellectuals and activists to engage with Fanon’s work on the revolution and the subaltern in the new conjuncture. However, despite the significance of his political philosophy for the current revolts, his books are either out of print or conspicuously absent from many bookstores in the Arab world.
“In this interview with Nigel Gibson, one of the most prominent experts on Fanon’s work, he explains the significance of the Fanonian theoretical framework and its relevance for the Arab uprisings. Nigel Gibson has written a number of articles and books on the Martiniquan intellectual and deployed a Fanonian perspective to examine many contemporary revolts. His numerous books include Fanon: The Postcolonial Imagination (2003) and Fanonian Practices in South Africa: From Steve Biko to Abahlali baseMjondolo (2011). He teaches postcolonial theory at Emerson College. The interview was conducted in Boston in July 2012.”
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Though the “Arab Spring” opened things up in many countries, it was not all the same, nor is the struggle of the people complete on any front, so attempts to classify or categorize will inherently fail. Nonetheless, this map represents one view of how things have gone (so far).

Yasser Munif (YM): Ongoing protests have swept the Arab world since the toppling of the Tunisian dictator. They changed the political and cultural landscape of the region. The mot d’ordre of the protesters is clear: “The people want the fall of the regime.” Western powers tried to co-opt the protests because real democracy in the Arab World can threaten their domination of the region. They want to maintain their hegemony in the oil rich gulf. The region is also important geopolitically because of the United States’ close ties to Israel and its wars in the Middle East. The interest of the West in the region is not new. In Culture and Imperialism, Edward Said argues that while formal colonization ended in the mid-twentieth century, Arab countries became the political satellites of the West since then. He writes, “for two generations the United States has sided in the Middle East mostly with tyranny and injustice… one administration after another has propped up compliant and unpopular clients, and turned away from the efforts of small peoples to liberate themselves from military occupation. In a way, Said is suggesting that real independence was never achieved; the present politico-economic condition of Arab countries is a continuation of the colonial period by new means. In this context, the work of Frantz Fanon is very relevant to understanding the current Arab uprisings. Yet, as you explain in a recent essay, one should refrain from the temptation of extrapolating old concepts into new situations. Referring to Fanon’s work ,you write, “The task for radicals is to avoid applying pre-formed cookie-cutter theory to new situations and jamming a new event or movement into old categories, but, instead, to begin to open up space for dialogue and reflection on action.” Do you think that Frantz Fanon’s analysis about colonialism, imperialism, and independence movements can have any relevance today for Arab protesters who are challenging despotic regimes?

Nigel Gibson (NG): I do think that Fanon has relevance, and so the question is how do you approach Fanon? Are there categories in Fanon’s thought that can simply be applied to new situations, and if so what new thinking would emerge? Applying Fanon’s categories to new situations is valuable to a degree, but the question I am asking is what does Fanon offer us methodologically? In other words, how does he actually get us to rethink our concepts? I think Fanon is basically an open thinker and a radically humanist thinker. If you look at the first pages of Black Skin White Masks, where he is critical of scientific methods, to the final pages of the Wretched of the Earth, where he talks about working out new concepts, the question is how and on what basis do you work on new concepts with the goal of human freedom? For Fanon, becoming actional is connected to his idea of a new humanism, which is explicitly critical of European humanism so intimately connected with colonialism. So, it is not simply about finding new concepts from anywhere, but being both critical and self-critical and also being very open to what is happening on the ground. So, in other words, a critic could have said, last January in 2011 in Tahrir Square, that if you read Fanon, you know that the liberatory moment is going to be closed down by the military or the state, and therefore end up with a kind of ontological pessimism. We are defeated before we begin. The critic might add, Fanon tells us that all these revolutions in the end will fail, and look: they have. But, for me, that is not how one engages Fanon. If Fanon is alive he is in the revolts because the revolts themselves open up something very new. One has to be aware, or listen, or open one’s mind to what are the new beginnings.
Now, you could look at the situation and say, Fanon tells us to be very wary of the nationalist elite and all the other social forces we could talk about: religious elite, nationalist elite, military elite, regional elites, and the comprador nature of some of these elites and all the repressive ideologies that justify them. So, in other words, the question then becomes how do you employ Fanon productively? You do not want to close down possibilities, but at the same time, you want to be wary of Fanon’s warnings. So, in a certain sense, it is what I would consider a dialectical approach. It is not simply good enough—and one could do it with any thinker, one could do it with Marx—to have a series of categories to say, well, this revolt will fail because it does not correspond with the categories or fulfill certain expectations in a Marx or in a Fanon, and therefore it is doomed to do this and that. Even if in the end it does this and that, we have to be open about what is new in the Arab revolts. What do they tell us? How do they come about? Why have they come about now? In what way can one see them as new beginnings, a turning of a page, and the creation of a new historical moment, rather than a repetition of a neocolonial situation that you mention in Said’s quote in the beginning? If Fanon’s thought is alive, it cannot be simply applied.
YM: As I mentioned above, Said thinks that the process of decolonization was aborted by local social forces or international policies, and that what we are experiencing in the Middle East today is a continuation of old fashioned colonialism, as in the case of Iraq, or a form of neocolonialism /imperialism, as is the case of most Arab countries. In that sense, Fanon is extremely relevant and we have to reread him. And yet, Fanon has been extremely absent in the Arab public spheres, public discussions, and the media in general. Some intellectuals have either consciously avoided him or are ignorant about his work and its implications on contemporary Arab societies. Others, for ideological reasons, denied these connections between “metropole” and “colony,” to use Fanon’s categories and the relationship between the two. Many Arabs and Western liberals have argued that the revolts are about democracy and anti-authoritarianism and we should not conflate these new categories with the older ones such as imperialism or colonialism. Hazem Saghieh, one of the influential Lebanese journalists who writes for the London-based and Gulf-funded al-Hayat newspaper, wrote in one of his articles that protesters in Tahrir Square were not holding signs about imperialism or Zionism, and these revolts are therefore about internal /local issues and regional concerns. So, how can one make an argument for the relevance of Fanon when he is so absent in public discourses?
NG: It is almost like different levels of abstractions. There is not a one-to-one correspondence; fifty years is the long time to think about a thinker’s relevance or to think of the relevance of their work to a contemporary period. However, in the same way, you could say that there were not very many banners about democracy in the way that liberal democracy or the western kind of democracy understands it and that the pundits have said the revolts were about. Therefore, the signs and slogans in Tahrir may have not been about imperialism, and they may have not reflected the kind of things that the liberal critics wanted to talk about either. But the issue then becomes not to judge things by an a priori anti-imperial discourse. Rather, the first thing is to find out what is being talked about. What are people saying? It was certainly about getting rid of Mubarak. But it was more than that, even if it was not explicit; the point is to trace through the contradictions and developments. Someone who has not read Fanon and who lived through that period, and now reads Fanon, will find out how quickly he or she identifies with his analysis of how the new rulers behave like the old rulers; it is a revolution, yes, but in the old sense of revolving and repeating what was happening before. In one sense, it is how we understand neo-colonialism, but Fanon is not only talking about the threat from imperialism, which is always there, but how the threats are manifested internally. He speaks about a great threat to the decolonial movement being the lack of liberatory ideologies. What does he mean by ideology? Certainly, there are many ideologies around. There are Islamic ideologies; there are nationalist ideologies, neoliberal ideologies, and so forth. He is talking about something else. He has a vision for something else. The subject of the Wretched of the Earth is the wretched of the earth, that majority of the people of the world, who are not only poor, but are actively denied agency and are constantly reminded that politics is above them. How do the wretched of the earth become actional, become political, and become social individuals? Fanon calls his ideology a new humanism, not only in contrast to the elite humanism of the West, but also on the axiom that the wretched of the earth, understood socially, think and thus must be a basis of a new politics. This, of course, is not achieved immediately, but it must become an explicit element of the struggle for liberation. Then there is the question of the role of the intellectual committed to social change. What can the intellectuals do in these periods? So, again we are back to Fanon’s relevance and the difficulty of talking about it in an applied way. First, it is interesting to look at the history of why Fanon is not considered relevant and the fact that postcolonial states have suppressed his thought in one way or another.   Second, the only way we can prove the relevance of Fanon in a certain way outside of some academic circles is to ask, do people involved in social struggles engage with Fanonian concepts and find something relevant for them, even if they have never heard of Fanon because Fanon is implicitly in the struggles? In other words, the idea of a new generation; he has a phrase at the beginning of “On National Consciousness, where he talks about how “Each generation must, out of relative obscurity, discover its mission, fulfill it, or betray it.”[1] So, a new generation makes something of him and brings that into the discussion. To me, that would be the only proof of relevance of Fanon. I can make an argument for it, but in the end that would be the test. Now the question is: how would that happen? How do you get Fanon into the public discourse, especially when a lot of the public discourse is limited, and Fanon is considered irrelevant? You face liberal pundits like Hazem Saghieh, who might say that Fanon represents a fifty-year-old politics of violence and imperialism, or other politicians, who might emphasize that Fanon is not a Muslim and is therefore irrelevant to a Muslim society. These are some of the problems with discussing Fanon. Continue reading

Arab Uprisings: Progress, But Not Yet a Revolution

[Article 2 of the series “One Year After the Arab Uprisings.”  Part One, “The Failure of the Arab ‘State’ and Its Opposition” originally appeared at  http://english.al-akhbar.com/content/failure-arab-state-and-its-opposition and was posted on revolutionary frontlines at https://revolutionaryfrontlines.wordpress.com/2012/04/20/the-failure-of-the-arab-state-and-its-opposition … Part 3 of the series is expected soon. — Frontlines ed.]

 ….a revolution is fueled by class interest or the ideology of a revolutionary party while an uprising is fueled by anger and frustration. A revolution presents a comprehensive social, economic, and political program for change that was pre-meditated and based on philosophical discourses. An uprising has no such program and has no philosophical discourse. A revolution has a leading class or a leading party, whereas an uprising has no clear leadership.

A protester, wearing a Guy Fawkes mask, stands in front of Egyptian military police standing guard near the Ministry of Defense in the Abbassiya district of Cairo 30 April 2012. (Photo: REUTERS – Mohamed Abd El Ghany)

By: Hisham Bustani–Saturday, May 5, 2012

Arab Uprisings: Progress, But Not Yet a Revolution

There is no real class formation in modern Arab societies. The post-colonial Arab “state” is a political and economic disaster area that has yet to advance into the industrialized era. Its social fabric was deformed by imposing and/or magnifying divisions and fragmentation. It transformed the collaborative self-sufficient gatherings – based economically on farming and grazing in rural areas; pillaging and grazing in desert areas; and commerce, crafts, and some manufacturing in cities, with each social group having its own traditions and rules that applied to all members – into malformed consumerist social formations. These formations come in the shape of family, clan, sect or ethnicity for identity, solidarity and protection.

These formations live on the periphery of a globalized service sector, and are governed by regimes that largely destroyed local economies in exchange for a model based on foreign aid. This is a corporate-dependant, commoditized, service-based model, where the ruling class is the representative of global corporations: a comprador formation with interests opposed to local industrialization and production. In countries where natural resources are abundant, the governments opted for exporting raw materials rather than investing in and manufacturing goods with them. Instead, the money was sucked away in a cycle of corruption and parts of it were redistributed down to the people as a form of a “grant” from the benefactor ruler..

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Arab Spring and Imperialism

[The “Arab (and North Africa) Spring” enters its second year, where in country after country the complex interplay of domestic people’s movements, regional alliances, and imperialists (of both the crisis-driven old variety, and newbies making new global assertions)–are hellbent on asserting very elusive controls.  Such would-be controllers continue to be frustrated, and while this provides openings for revolutionary people to seize the time, their organizational, political, and military tools have been lacking–so far.  Time will tell how this will play out.  Deepankar Basu, writing in Sanhati, takes on the challenge of clarifying the different contradictions and forces at play. — Frontlines ed.]

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February 20, 2012

by Deepankar Basu, Sanhati

The unprecedented wave of mass movements that started in Tunisia in December 2010 and quickly spread to Egypt, Libya, Bahrain, Syria, and Yemen, with smaller scale demonstrations in Lebanon, Mauritania, and Saudi Arabia has the potential to completely change (a) the socio-economic dynamics within the Arab world, and (b) the relationship of the Arab world to imperialism. To understand the dynamics and implications of the unfolding movements, it seems useful to abstract from the details of the movements in particular countries and take a broad brush view of matters. Moreover, to construct a broad brush view it seems important to disentangle two aspects of (or basic contradictions driving) the situation, not only in Syria that is the current focus of world attention but the Arab world in general.

The first, and primary, aspect is that all these movements, often taking the form of mass uprisings, are movements for democratization of their respective societies, a movement against decades-old authoritarian and brutal regimes backed by imperialism. In most cases, over the last two decades, these regimes saw a convergence between authoritarianism and neoliberalism. One way of stating this is to say, using an old-fashioned terminology, that the primary contradiction that is driving these movements in the contradiction between authoritarian (often neoliberal) regimes and the broad masses of the people in these countries.

The second, and to my mind secondary, aspect is the reality/possibility of imperialist intervention. Using the old-fashioned terminology once again, one could say that the secondary contradiction that is maturing in these events, that is driving these movements, is the contradiction between imperialism and the broad masses of the people.

Note that both contradictions are basic, in the sense that they are both active in the current situation; the current conjuncture is shaped by an interplay between them. But between the two it is also important to distinguish the primary from the secondary. What is the rationale for characterizing the contradiction between the broad masses and authoritarianism as the primary contradiction? The rationale is the following observation: each of these movements, without any exception, started as movements for democratization and against neoliberal authoritarian regimes; each of these movements retain that thrust. Hence, it seems very likely that what is being expressed through these movements is the maturing of the contradiction of these neoliberal authoritarian regimes and the popular classes. If at any point there is direct military invasion of a country by imperialist powers with the intention of turning the country into a colony, then the second contradiction, i.e., the contradiction between imperialism and the broad masses, would become the primary contradiction. Continue reading

Saudi counter-revolution cools Arab Spring

Fueled by fear of rising oil prices, US deference is helping Saudi Arabia implement its agenda in the Gulf.

Jim Lobe, al Jazeera

24 Apr 2011 —

”]As the so-called Arab Spring enters its sixth month, it appears to have run into seriously wintry headwinds.

While some observers here have blamed Saudi Arabia and its neighbouring Sunni-led sheikhdoms as a major source of the icy winds that are blasting through the Gulf, the growing contradictions between the US and Western “values” and their interests are adding to the unseasonable weather.

Thus, while Washington has privately expressed strong doubts about the wisdom of the increasingly brutal and indiscriminate crackdown against the majority Shia population in Bahrain, home to the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet, its failure to clearly and publicly denounce the Saudi-backed repression is only the most blatant example of this trend. Continue reading

Bahraini opposition to Saudi Arabian and Gulf armies’ invasion

Mar 14 2011 by Jadaliyya Reports

[Image from unknown archive.]

Troops from the GCC Peninsula Shield Forces, originating mostly from Saudi Arabia but also the United Arab Emirates, arrived in Bahrain today. When the Bahraini Crown Prince visited Saudi Arabia last week, he was given an ultimatum and a deadline: either the Bahraini government takes control of the situation and ends the month old anti-government protests, or Saudi Arabia would send its troops to do the job. While Bahrain’s ruler did issue an appeal for help to the GCC, critics have said that this was in response to pressure by Saudi Arabia, whose deadline given to the Bahraini ruler expired last night. According to the BBC, yesterday Saudi King Abdullah informed the US administration of the decision to send GCC troops into Bahrain to quell the pro-democracy protests. Today the White House announced that it does not consider the entry of over 1000 foreign troops–mostly Saudi Arabian–into Bahrain an “invasion” and called on the Bahraini government to “exercise restraint.”

Omanis and Kuwaitis have threatened their respective governments with major strikes if their national troops are sent with the GCC Shield Forces into Bahrain. Foreign journalists have reported being harassed by the Bahraini government in the lead up to the troops’ arrival, with many journalists “asked” to leave the country by the end of the day. Others have simply been refused entry into Bahrain at the airport. The UK has issued a travel advisory warning its citizens against travel to Bahrain, and Saudi Arabia has evacuated its students who attend universities in the neighboring island.

Tens of thousands of demonstrators gathered at the now famous Pearl Roundabout today in response to the news of foreign troops reaching Bahrain. Continue reading

Violent clashes in Bahrain


Euronews on  Mar 14, 2011

In one of the most violent confrontations since troops killed seven protesters last month, police used tear gas and water cannon to break up demonstrations against the kingdom’s royal family. Witnesses said rubber bullets were also fired by police.

Bahrain is gripped in its worst unrest since the 1990s For several weeks now the Shi’ite majority has held rallies complaining against what it says is discrimination by the ruling Sunni minority.

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Washington Post: Security official in Saudi Arabia: Gulf military force enters Bahrain to help deal with unrest

By MAAMOUN YOUSSEF, Monday, March 14, 4:59 AM

CAIRO — A security official in Saudi Arabia says a military force from Gulf states has entered Bahrain to help deal with a month of political unrest in the island kingdom. Continue reading