Mobilizations of workers in the Middle East
» All the world’s press commented on the referendum on the independence of Iraqi Kurdistan last September.(1) With more or less agreement on its political “opportunity”, in the end everyone celebrated “the will of the people” and “national unity” not without envy. But in reality it was another “fake independence,” an attempt by the Kurdish bourgeoisie to buy time and provide the population with its particular “Groundhog Day”. (2) The response of the Iraqi government was to take back the border factually under its control and to take direct control of the large oil fields around Kirkuk. From then on the interesting started.
First there were spontaneous mobilizations of the oil workers which were joined by unemployed and public workers whom the government – deprived of the oil revenues – had left unpaid. The resignation of the prime minister could not stop an already growing anger. The demonstrations soon turned against the political apparatus of the Kurdish bourgeoisie as a whole: the seats of the five Kurdish parties were burned by the crowd. (3) Hereupon a cruel repression followed. (4)
The government of Iraqi Kurdistan demonstrated by shooting that the “right to decide” is sacred until the workers decide to interrupt the nationalist tunes and shake off national union.
The images [on YouTube] show a demonstration on December 30 in Shiraz. The demonstrators are shouting: “Dictatorship, you should be ashamed and piss off.” There have also been shouts of “Down with the Guards” and the photograph of the highest ranking military officer of the ‘Revolutionary Guards’ (Gjadem Seimani, he had been engaged in Syria) was burned. They have called upon the forces of order to join them and demand their solidarity with the demonstrators.
We do not know more from the course of the mobilizations after the first waves of repression because since the 19th [of December] we have not found any news in the international media. (5) But on the 28th, only two weeks later, videos started to sip through on YouTube like the following one: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5OFz8ikphnU&w=762&h=425
At the other side of the border, in Kermanshah, Iranian Kurdistan, spontaneous demonstrations had started against rising prices, unemployment and corruption (6) that spread almost immediately to Mashhad (7) and Tehran. (8) Whereas the Iranian state opted at first for a mild repression, (9) the case is that they have gained strength for two days now, going from the streets to the enterprises and factories, converting into a wave of political strikes outside and against official syndicalism. (10)
Iran, an imperialist power
The Iranian bourgeoisie finds itself at a critical moment. The nuclear agreement signed with Obama opened markets for it and allowed it strategic purchases abroad. Trump denounced it and initiated the course of its cancellation by the USA. However, the divisions within the American bourgeoisie are so brutal that the Senate, with a Republican majority, has let the deadlines go by without making the president’s promise effective. (11) But this did not bring much tranquility in the Iranian power either. Swamped in a proxy-war with the Saudis in Yemen and with troops deployed in Syria next to the Israeli border, it has been increasing the stakes again and again, (12) tightening its alliance with Russia, Turkey and Qatar on one side, (13) with China on another side (14) and with France and Germany on still another one. (15) This expansionist game has been fueling regional tension. Among other consequences this has accelerated the change of leadership in Saudi Arabia to the most belligerent sectors, represented by Prince Salman.
The development of Iranian imperialism throughout the region has immense costs that have been put on the shoulders of the workers. The struggle for work and for the value of wages is the most effective fight against war.
A force in the cradle… that can change everything
Who pays for the militarism and the costs of Iranian imperial expansion? Obviously the workers. The loss of purchasing power, the chronic unemployment that goes on and the aggravation of endemic problems such as access to housing, fall fundamentally on their backs. Also, in part, on that of the petty bourgeoisie. The appearance of slogans against corruption in Tehran demonstrations testifies to this. This is, at this moment, a weakness. An “honest” Iranian state would not be less imperialist than the current one, nor would it be less determined on attacking the workers. The same can be said for Iraqi Kurdistan.
We still can not venture more. We do not know whether there have been attempts to organize independently, whether strikes and demonstrations have some kind of coordination or are just street movements. It is possible that there have been such attempts, but the information can not come in more lamely or filtered. In any case, it looks like the working class is beginning to awaken and to show a tendency to act politically independent of the state and the bourgeoisie, beyond national, linguistic and ethnic borders. And in a place that is, at this precise moment, the center of global imperialist conflict. And this, although it does not advance more at the moment, constitutes already a most important qualitative leap. A force capable of changing everything begins to emerge. «
Nuevo Curso, December 29, 2018
Source: Movilizaciones de trabajadores en Oriente Medio – http://nuevocurso.org/movilizaciones-de-trabajadores-en-oriente-medio/
Translation: H.C., January 13, 2018
2 A reminiscence to the surrealist situation around Catalan separatism, where the rivaling bourgeois fractions are “back to square one” after the regional elections of December 21. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Groundhog_Day_(film)
17 As of January 9, 2018, 3,700 arrest have been officially confirmed. The number of death is said to be at least 22, on what is generally termed in mainstream media as “the biggest anti-government demonstrations since 2009.” (Editor’s note. Source: Al Jazeerah)