Not on the Ballot: Imperialism, Corporate-Capitalist State Power, Racism, Police State, Patriarchy, Justice …..

[When people rise, and believe that the State offers no relief or solution, they turn away from elections, reject the credibility and false promises of the political system, and consider what it will take to take matters into their own hands.  It happens all over the world. — Frontlines ed.]

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The 2014 campaign to boycott the election in Brazil

Election materials are set ablaze in front of a polling booth after an attack by protesters in Bogra January 5, 2014. Bangladesh's ruling Awami League was poised on Sunday to win a violence-plagued parliamentary election whose outcome was never in doubt after a boycott by the main opposition party. — Photo by Reuters

Election materials are set ablaze in front of a polling booth after an attack by protesters in Bogra January 5, 2014. Bangladesh’s ruling Awami League was poised on Sunday to win a violence-plagued parliamentary election whose outcome was never in doubt after a boycott by the main opposition party. — Photo by Reuters

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Open letter of the Syrian Revolutionary left to support the Syrian popular revolution!

[The views and voice of the Syrian revolutionary left has been difficult to hear amidst the clamor of contending distortions by international media–whether Western, Russian, Chinese, or from within the Middle East.  We are seeking more information from popular secular forces involved in the uprising–including more information about the revolutionary left forces.  The following is an important statement and analysis by the Revolutionary Left in Syria, detailing the role and relations of the various forces within Syria and of the world imperialist and regional forces who have been attempting to seize control of the uprising.  We will report further materials confirming and contextualizing this, as they become available. —  Frontlines ed.]

“The major Western imperialists powers, and other world imperialist powers such as Russia and China, as well as regional ones such as Iran and Turkey, in their entirety and without exception, continue to try to implement a Yemeni-type solution in Syria – in other words, to cut off the head of the regime, the dictator Bashar Al Assad, while keeping its structure intact, as was witnessed during meetings between U.S. and Russian officials, or at the international conference in June 30 in Geneva. The only sticking point is the Russian position of still trying by all means to keep Assad in power, but Russia may sacrifice this in the near future to protect its interests in Syria. The United States in turn has repeatedly expressed its desire to preserve the structure of the military and security services intact.”  — from the Open Letter of the Syrian Revolutionary left

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 The resistance of the Syrian people has not ceased to grow since the revolutionary process began in March 2011. The struggle of the Syrian people is part of the popular struggles in Tunisia and Egypt, which has spread to other countries in the region.

Similarly, the Syrian revolutionary process is part of the global anti-capitalist struggles. The “Indignados” or “occupied” movements and occupations have taken their inspiration from the Arab revolutions. More than 700 cities in over 70 countries have resonated and for some still resonate of slogans and demands of a movement that demonstrates against poverty and the power of finance. In the same time, the resistance of the Greek people against the dictates imposed by financial agencies and notations is also a battle for dignity and social justice, but also the emancipation against the capitalist order and not its submission, joining the struggles of the peoples of the region.

The Syrian uprising, arising out of the global financial and economic crisis is also a revolt against the neoliberal policies imposed by the authoritarian regime, and encouraged by international financial institutions like the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank (WB).

The neoliberal policies were used to dismantle and to weaken increasingly the public services in the country, to the removal of subsidies, especially for basic necessities, while accelerating the privatization process, often in favor of the ruling and bourgeois classes linked to the political power.

The neoliberal reforms of the regime have encouraged a policy based on the reception and the welcoming of foreign direct investment, the development of exports and of the service sector, especially tourism. The repressive apparatus of this country has served as a “security agent” for these companies, protecting them of all disorders or social demands. This State has played the role of matchmaker for foreign capital and multinationals, while ensuring the enrichment of a bourgeois class linked to the regime.

The ills and consequences of these neoliberal policies in Syria are numerous. This includes the high rate of unemployment, particularly among young university graduates who cannot find opportunities in an economy now focused on low value-added jobs, and where skilled labor is scarce, or characterized by underemployment, a direct consequence of these measures. Continue reading

Bahrain: Shouting in the Dark

 Documentary for Al Jazeera English by May Ying WelshBahrain: An island kingdom in the Arabian Gulf where the Shia Muslim majority are ruled by a family from the Sunni minority. Where people fighting for democratic rights broke the barriers of fear, only to find themselves alone and crushed.

This is their story and Al Jazeera is their witness – the only TV journalists who remained to follow their journey of hope to the carnage that followed.

This is the Arab revolution that was abandoned by the Arabs, forsaken by the West and forgotten by the world.

Bahrain: Government prosecutes doctors for treating victims of government repression

Bahrain puts medical staff on trial for treating injured protesters

Security court deals with 47 doctors and nurses accused of participating in efforts to remove monarchy

Associated Press
guardian.co.uk, Monday 6 June 2011

The Salmaniya hospital in Bahrain

The Salmaniya hospital in Bahrain's capital Manama. Charges have been laid against some of its medical workers. Photograph: Hasan Jamali/AP

Doctors and nurses who treated injured anti-government protesters during the unrest in Bahrain went on trial in a security court on Monday accused of participating in efforts to overthrow the monarchy.

The prosecution of 47 health professionals is a sign that Bahrain’s rulers will not end their relentless pursuit of the opposition despite officially lifting emergency rule last week.

The doctors and nurses were charged during a closed hearing in a security court authorised under emergency rule imposed in mid-March. Charges include participating in efforts to topple Bahrain’s Sunni monarchy, taking part in illegal rallies, harming the public by spreading false news, denying medical attention to several Sunni patients, assault, embezzlement and possession of weapons. Continue reading

“White House to Host Bahrain Royal to Push Reform” (and save the Pentagon’s 5th fleet home port)

[Here, the Wall Street Journal gives us more on the maneuvering of the US to maintain its relations with the GCC, and its hold on Bahrain–not to mention its headquarters for the US 5th fleet.  While “democracy” and “humanitarianism” may not be on the US’ agenda in Bahrain (or in Saudi Arabia, for that matter), US imperialist lips are now dripping with the call for “reform” as a public-relations move to “stay in the game.” — Frontlines ed.]

Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa: the face of liberal reform in Bahrain? Or window-dressing for a brutal regime beyond reform?

Wall Street Journal, June 4, 2011

WASHINGTON—The White House will host Bahrain’s crown prince next week, according to senior U.S. officials, in a bid to push for political liberalization in the tiny Persian Gulf sheikdom.

The Obama administration views Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa as the senior Bahraini government official most in favor of liberalizing Manama’s political system, and hope the visit will lend support to his efforts to ease his government’s harsh response to the uprising. “We think the crown prince is a serious interlocutor, and we see value in engaging with him directly,” said a senior administration official.

Of the half-dozen uprisings that have swept the Middle East and North Africa this year, Bahrain’s has proved to be one of the hardest for U.S. diplomats to navigate. The Khalifa family has been a close U.S. ally in combating terrorism and Iran’s nuclear program. And Bahrain is home of the Pentagon’s 5th Fleet, which polices the oil-rich Persian Gulf.

The island-state has emerged as a key proxy battle between Washington and its allies and Iran, which has urged on Bahrain’s uprising through broadcasts and official comments.

U.S. officials have been alarmed by the scale of the Bahraini government’s repression of its opponents, who hail mostly from the country’s 70% Shiite-Muslim majority. Continue reading

Bahrain police open fire at protesters in capital

[Bahrain’s King announced the lifting of emergency rule, and ordered the suppression of new protests, in the same breath.  The people’s resistance continues to grow.  — Frontlines ed.]

By BARBARA SURK, Associated Press

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Bahraini police fired tear gas and rubber bullets at protesters marching toward the landmark Pearl Square in the country’s capital Friday, two days after authorities lifted emergency rule.

The downtown square was the focus of weeks of Shiite-led protests against the Gulf nation’s Sunni rulers earlier this year. Witnesses in the tiny island kingdom said there were no immediate reports of casualties among the hundreds of opposition supporters who took their grievances to the streets for the first time since martial law was imposed more than two months ago.

The country’s security force moved against the protesters shortly before Formula One’s governing body deemed the kingdom safe enough to host the Bahrain Grand Prix in October. 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

Bahrain: A world away from Manama

Bahrain’s impoverished villages see little benefit from billions of dollars being invested in the glimmering capital.

by Gregg Carlstrom

Karzakan, Bahrain — Driving through this cheerless village, 20 kilometres southwest of Manama, it is easy to understand why thousands of protesters have camped out in Pearl Roundabout for nearly a month.

Karzakan feels a world apart from Bahrain’s glimmering capital. A clutch of grim concrete buildings – a fruit and vegetable stand, a shawarma shop, a few construction firms – sit along the poorly-maintained main road. A group of schoolchildren ride by on the back of a pickup truck, chanting yasqat Hamad (“down with Hamad”) and bouncing up and down as the driver navigates the potholed street.

Many of Bahrain’s villages lack basic services – connections to the municipal sewage grid, regular garbage collection – and the stench of trash and waste hovers over some of Karzakan’s back alleys and side streets. Residents say the poor sanitation leads to occasional outbreaks of disease, particularly among young children. Continue reading

Personal Revolutions: One Woman’s View from the Bahraini Frontline

March 8,  2011 by Tahiyya Lulu

Women's demonstration in Bahrain. Image from London News Pictures

Since February 14th 2011, Bahrain has been experiencing a massive popular uprising in which large numbers of women from different socio-economic, political and religious backgrounds have taken to the streets to demand greater rights, freedom and democracy. They were met with a brutal crackdown from the Interior Ministry and Bahrain Defense Force, which left seven demonstrators dead and scores injured. In light of international media frenzy, diplomatic condemnations, and rising public anger, the government withdrew its armed personnel to allow the public a free space in which to express their discontent and demands. It is here that aspirations for the future of Bahrain are being formulated into a plan, and it is here that tens of thousands of Bahraini women with demands for a more democratic and more just future are staking their claim.

To mark International Women’s Day, we look at the reflections of one woman from ‘the Pearl’.

I meet our subject in Bahrain’s financial district in downtown Manama. A Bahraini twenty-something, suited and heeled with short brown hair and softly lined eyes, she walks to our meeting from her banking job in one of the high-rises a few minutes away. In her own experience, the recent wave for social and political change in the Middle East sparked her involvement in Bahrain’s February 14 uprising. Continue reading

Bahrain: A fissured future in a ‘fictitious democracy’

Thousands of demonstrators came to support the friends and family of Mahmood Makki Abotakki on Feb. 18. Mahmood was shot and killed during the Pearl Roundabout uprising when police stormed the square at 3 a.m.

February 27, 2011

Jesse McLean

Lucas Oleniuk/Toronto Star

MANAMA—Mohammed Khalil sits on a curb, his back to the towering monument in the middle of Pearl Roundabout, and takes a long drag on a Marlboro cigarette.

The 22-year-old Bahraini was among the first throng of protesters to rush back into the landmark square on Feb. 19 after riot police retreated. But he hasn’t been able to sleep well since.

“I keep worrying: What happens now?” he said softly.

Two days before the square was reclaimed, a pre-dawn assault by police killed four protesters, their bodies peppered with shotgun pellets.

After criticism from the international community, including its U.S. allies, the crown prince of Bahrain’s Al-Khalifa royal family ordered police and tanks to withdraw from city streets and announced demonstrators would be free to protest. The prince also said he would talk with opposition groups to restore calm in this tiny Gulf kingdom.

But opposition politicians and blocs have struggled for days to coordinate a response to the government’s call for discussions, revealing fissures in the protesters’ ranks. Now that it’s time to make their demands, they have to decide exactly what it is they want. Continue reading

Saudi Arabia watching Bahrain unrest

Michael Birnbaum, Washington Post
February 23, 2011

MANAMA, BAHRAIN — The morning after tens of thousands of demonstrators turned out in Bahrain’s capital to demand that King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa make democratic concessions or step aside, the monarch boarded a plane Wednesday to pay his respects to Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah, who had returned home after months abroad for medical treatments.

The trip – unexpected given the major problems Hamad faces in Bahrain – underscored the extent of Saudi Arabia’s sway over the teardrop-shaped island off its eastern shore, analysts said. Hamad often makes the journey after the Saudi king has been away for an extended period.

But this time, what happens in tiny Bahrain might have outsize repercussions in its giant neighbor, analysts said. The Shiite-led protesters in Bahrain are demanding that their Sunni royal family grant them equal rights and an equal voice, and Saudi Arabia is worried their campaign might give ideas to its own large Shiite minority.

In a sign of its concerns, the Saudi government announced Wednesday that it will pump $10.7 billion into a fund that gives interest-free loans to citizens and that government workers will receive a 15 per cent wage hike, among other measures. Bahrain also pumped cash to households just before its protests erupted last week. Continue reading

Bahrain troops shoot at protesters: ex MP

Thousands attend Bahrain protest funerals

February 18, 2011
Thousands of people have attended the funerals of those killed in yesterday’s security crackdown in Bahrain. At least four people died and more than 230 others were wounded when riot police drove activists from a makeshift camp in Pearl Square in the centre of the capital Manama. Earlier, in the village of Sintra, where some of the victims’ funerals were held, the anger against the level of force used by authorities was palpable. http://www.euronews.net/
MANAMA, Feb 18 (Reuters) – Bahraini troops shot at protesters near Pearl Square on Friday and wounded many, a former Shi’ite lawmaker said, a day after police forcibly cleared a protest camp from the traffic circle in Manama.

Jalal Firooz, of the Wefaq bloc that resigned from parliament on Thursday, said demonstrators had been elsewhere in the city, marking the death of a protester killed earlier this week when riot police had fired tear gas at them. Continue reading

Protester killed in Bahrain “Day of Rage”

Photo
12:40am IST

By Frederik Richter

MANAMA (Reuters) – Police in Bahrain fired teargas and rubber bullets to break up pro-reform demonstrations on Monday and one protester was killed, witnesses said, in a “Day of Rage” stimulated by popular upheaval in Egypt and Tunisia.

Helicopters circled over the Gulf Arab state’s capital Manama, where protesters had been due to gather but which remained quiet as security forces patrolled Shi’ite areas. More than 20 people were hurt, one of them critically, in clashes in Shi’ite villages that ring the capital, witnesses said. Continue reading