At this critical moment, socialists in the MENA region and elsewhere need to come up with creative ways of expressing their solidarity with these uprisings and connecting them to each other and to revolts in other parts of the world such as those in Chile and Hong Kong, China. This statement offers some ideas for solidarity work.
December 5, 2019
The Alliance of MENA Socialists express their solidarity with all the new 2019 uprisings in the MENA region from Sudan to Algeria, Iraq, Lebanon and now Iran. These revolts have shared some important features: The opposition to authoritarianism, neoliberalism, poverty, inequality, exploitation, sectarianism and religious fundamentalism; the active participation of women who are at the forefront and raise explicit demands for women’s rights; The predominant presence of working class and unemployed youth. The protesters are not content with the resignations of leading political figures or prime ministers but demand a fundamental change in the current socio-economic and political system.
At the same time, the might of the authoritarian capitalist ruling systems backed by various global imperialist and regional imperialist powers cannot be underestimated. In Sudan, the agreement signed by the military and the opposition coalition still leaves significant power in the hands of the military, although some success has been achieved as the Sudanese transitional authorities recently approved a law to dissolve the former ruling party and repealed a public order law used to regulate women’s behavior. In Lebanon, despite prime minister Hariri’s resignation, sectarian and neoliberal political parties still oppose any kind of radical change demanded by large sectors of the protest movement. In Iraq, the revolt of the masses in Baghdad and the predominantly Shi’a south against the Iranian backed government is now being joined by small but growing sectors of Sunni inhabited areas, while signs of support for the revolt are appearing in Iraqi Kurdistan. The Iraqi government and Shi’a Islamic fundamentalist militias affiliated with the Iranian government, all in collaboration with Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) have killed over 450 protesters so far. In Iran, the uprising that began on November 15 has spanned the entire country and has been the strongest show of popular opposition to the regime thus far. The repression by the IRGC and other security forces has also been ferocious and has led to at least 208 deaths (according to Amnesty International) and more than 800 deaths and over 7000 arrests according to forces on the ground. The estimated number of deaths is rising as reports are being sent from Iran. The majority of deaths however are those of protesters in Khuzestan and Kurdistan.
At this critical moment, socialists in the MENA region and elsewhere need to come up with creative ways of expressing their solidarity with these uprisings and connecting them to each other and to revolts in other parts of the world such as those in Chile and Hong Kong, China.
- One promising effort has been a statement by MENA socialist feminists and allies which now has signatories from around the world and will be the basis for organizing planned solidarity activities and livestream dialogues. This statement is now available in English, Arabic, Persian, Chinese, Greek and Portuguese. New signatories will be accepted.
- Another effort has been a statement signed by more than 70 academics, militants and independent political groups which calls upon the global left to break its silence and express its solidarity with the people of Iran. This statement is also available in various languages and is accepting new signatories.
- Urgently needed is the work of publicizing the cases of protesters detained and killed recently and those political prisoners who have been languishing in various prisons in the region. In Iran, activists are deeply concerned that the Iranian regime would completely cut off access to the internet once again and conduct mass executions of new detainees as well as other political prisoners in order to prevent the uprising from continuing. In the rest of the MENA region, feminists, labor activists, oppressed minority activists, other dissident intellectuals and less well-known activists are languishing in prisons in Syria, Egypt, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Algeria, and elsewhere. There are various efforts by activists to publicize their cases. The Alliance of MENA socialists also plans to expand its campaign in solidarity with feminist political prisoners in the region and possibly make this a global campaign. We appeal to prison abolitionist organizations and individuals who oppose the Prison Industrial Complex to join this effort as part of a broader global struggle. If you would like to be part of this effort, please see the link below and contact us.
- One effective way to bring our struggles together is to organize panels or rallies in solidarity with MENA uprisings in countries around the world where there are still enough freedoms to allow for such events to take place. The Alliance of MENA Socialists has also tried to bring socialist activists from MENA and elsewhere together through livestream dialogues which are then made available for viewing on the internet. Please view and share the following livestream dialogues:
- Urgently needed are specific expressions of solidarity between the uprisings in Iraq, Lebanon and Iran. If the protesters in these countries show that they see each other as allies, that would have a tremendous influence in weakening the Iranian regime and its repressive apparatus at home and in countries where it acts as a regional imperialist power. That would also weaken Saudi Arabian and Israeli regional imperialism which gain sustenance from presenting themselves as the counterweight to Iran’s nuclear and missile programs even as they promote their own nuclear and missile programs and repress Palestinians.
- For socialists, it is also extremely important to challenge any chauvinist discourses and symbols that are based on exclusion.
In general, our struggles have been the weakest when it comes to offering an emancipatory alternative to capitalism. Challenging neoliberal capitalism has been a good first step. Popular uprisings throughout the world have demonstrated the rejection of this model. However, as socialists, we must be clear: All forms of capitalism, whether private or state, need to be challenged. In the face of this reality, socialists need to be painfully aware of the serious and international efforts required to develop and offer an alternative.
Our destinies are linked.
Alliance of MENA Socialists
December 5, 2019