Statement in support of the protests in Iran

Cautiously pessimistic

In the past week or so, two statements about Iran have been circulated – one essentially supporting the Iranian regime by framing the whole issue as being about “US imperialism”, and another initiated by Iranian socialists and revolutionaries living in exile, which puts the movement in Iran into its proper context, as one more moment of our class fighting back, just as it is in Chile, Ecuador, Hong Kong, Haiti, France, Lebanon and so on. The latter is reproduced below. If you would like to add your name to the list of signatories, please send an email to azadi_subversion@riseup.net, stating your full name and affiliation/self-description.

We are protesting against problems in the whole system in general. We reached a crisis where we noticed that the system cannot handle it anymore

— a protester in Chile

Our world is on fire. Not only forests but also cities are burning all over the world. Social conflicts of all sorts are erupting, spreading their flames across the planet: Algeria, Chile, Ecuador, Haiti, Hong Kong, Iraq, Lebanon, Sudan, you name it. Located within this global context of struggles against the social hell of neoliberal, financialized capitalism, there has been another mass uprising in Iran since November 15, 2019.

Sparked by the sudden tripling of fuel prices, tens of thousands of Iranian people have been protesting in more than 100 cities throughout the country. Of course, the fuel price per se did not generate such a huge and widespread uprising. Rather, it is 40 years rule of the privileged oligarchy on the basis of authoritarianism, systematic exclusion of opponents, dispossession and expropriation which have made millions of people unemployed, extremely precarious, depriving them from the basic conditions of life (education, healthcare, food, and housing).

Just as 30 pesos increase in subway fares turned the already raging fire into an inferno in Chile, so too, the fuel price sparked the recent uprising in Iran (the same goes for WhatsApp tax in Lebanon, the cancellation of fuel subsidies in Ecuador, and so on). “It is not about 30 pesos”, a Chilean poster proclaimed, “but 30 years of neoliberalism.”

Since Friday, the people in Iran have been courageously fighting against the heavily armed personnel of the regime’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), as well as armed plainclothes militia thugs (known as Basij) who are economically dependent on the regime. The people had every “right” in this world to defend themselves against the systematic state-violence, build barricades on the streets, block highways and occupy local areas and roundabouts.

The forgotten and the invisible in Iran made themselves visible by starting fires. The fire to these people is the yellow vest to the French surplus population and proletarians. Both give voice to the voiceless. While the BBC Persian TV and reactionary loyalist media (Iran International, Manoto etc.) prescribe the liberal doctrine of “peaceful, civil protest,” the Iranian youth are self-conscious of the fact that “a people without hate cannot triumph,” that “material force must be overthrown by material force,” and that they have the right to legitimately defend themselves against the state violence systematically aimed at killing the citizens.

“Enough is enough” is the message of the people in the Global South and beyond. As students have chanted in one of Tehran’s universities, “the people are fed up, enough with slavery.” Like our sisters and brothers in Iraq and Lebanon, the Iranian people are absolutely fed up with the authoritarian capitalism reducing their lives to a mere vegetable existence, the systematic corruption intrinsic to mafia capitalism, and the sub-imperialism of the Islamic Republic in Iraq, Lebanon, Palestine, Syria, Yemen and the region as a whole.

They are not only opposing the tripling of the fuel price but the Islamic Republic in its entirety. No other slogan, chanted by our comrades in Lebanon, can better express the spirit of struggles in the current conjuncture: “All means all” (كلن يعني كلن).

The ruling class has responded to this radical, practical negation of all existing powers with an iron fist. The systematic violence employed by the Islamic Republic to paralyze the uprising is unprecedented in scale and intensity. The authorities have completely shut down the internet for four successive days, transforming the country into a big black box, slaughtering the people with impunity. According to Amnesty International, hundreds have been injured, thousands arrested, and “at least 106 protesters in 21 cities have been killed,” although “the real death toll may be much higher, with some reports suggesting as many as 200.”

There are many videos showing the police shooting demonstrators in the head and chest — as we observed before in the case of Iraq. This happened mainly in the Kurdish and Arab provinces whose discriminated people are once again at the very forefront of the uprising and have paid the highest price.

The Islamic Republic has been successful so far in achieving its goals. They have seized the opportunity provided by the US sanctions to realize their neoliberal dreams in order to be able to both recover the current budget deficit and increase their military operations in the region. To do so, they have shut down the internet by virtue of which they have brutally slaughtered their opponents. Internationally speaking, there has been no specific media coverage, no international condemnation of the state repression, and very little solidarity from the global left — in other words, the bloodbath is carried out in silence. This is possible because, while the oppressed classes in Iran and the Middle East have no illusion about the “anti-imperialist” role of the Islamic Republic, many on the left still believe in the ideological self-representation of the regime as an anti-imperialist force standing against the US and its regional allies.

The left needs to learn from the oppressed classes to simultaneously oppose US imperialism (especially US sanctions) and the Islamic Republic’s interventions in the region.

We, the undersigned academics and militants, urge the global left to break its silence and express its solidarity with the people of Iran and their resistance.

It is pointless for us to demand anything from the Islamic Republic, but we will demand from our comrades and progressive forces all over the world to be — in any possible form — the voice of the oppressed people in Iran suffocated by the forced isolation. We also call on the international left to condemn the atrocities of the regime against its own people.

Finally, we stand in solidarity with the Iranian protesters who are reclaiming their dignity by refusing austerity, authoritarianism, militarization of society, as well as any other form of domination that stifles their autonomy and freedom.

Eyewitnesses to the Rojava revolution: women empowerment

ROAR Magazine

Protest against Turkish invasion in Serekaniye, Rojava. July, 2019 Photo: Olmo Couto / Shutterstock.com

The Rojava revolution is under attack. Debbie Bookchin and Emre Şahin share their thoughts on this unique revolutionary process after recently visiting the region.

Authors: Debbie Bookchin, Emre Şahin, Marina Sitrin

What has been taking place in Rojava is easily one of the most inspiring and exciting experiments in autonomous self-government to ever exist. It is also one of the most massive, and gender inclusive, often compared to the Spanish Revolution of 1936, as well as the Zapatistas in Chiapas, Mexico. And yet, people outside the region know little about the different dimensions of the revolution taking place in Rojava. And now, this revolutionary territory is under military and political attack — its very existence at risk.

What follows is the first of a three part interview series with people who have had ongoing relationship to Rojava, and who have spent time in the revolutionary territory. The first two parts of the series are with Debbie Bookchin and Emre Şahin. Debbie, a journalist, author, public speaker and organizer is Murray Bookchin’s daughter and spent a part of the spring of 2019 in Rojava. Emre, a Kurdish PhD student and translator, spent most of the summer of 2019, traveling to 14 different towns and cities in Rojava, conducting research and in-depth interviews.

The third part is an interview with Carne Ross, Executive Director of Independent Diplomat and author. Carne left his career as a British diplomat, having served in numerous embassies and was Head of the Middle East section and Deputy Head of Political Section at the UK Mission to the United Nations. Carne made the film, Accidental Anarchist, based on his time in Rojava.

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No Friends But The Mountains

Anarchist Communist Group

The Kurds have entered into alliances with local States and imperialist powers, always to be betrayed. After World War One, they were promised their own state by the victorious imperialist forces of Britain, France and the USA. These promises, enshrined in the Treaty of Sevres in 1920, proved to be worthless, and anyway it was always about how the great powers would carve up the old Ottoman Empire.

The Kurdistan depicted in the Treaty of Sevres would have been under British control. Some Kurdish nationalists supported this, but others sided with the Turkish nationalist military leader Kemal Ataturk to fight the Allied powers. These Muslim Kurds preferred Ottoman or Turkish nationalist control to domination by a Christian power. Others feared that the British would re-introduce Armenians – who had fled after the genocidal attacks on them by the Turks – would be re-introduced to the region. This was a decision to be regretted by the Kurds as they experienced the reality of life under the Ataturk regime.

The British had occupied the oil-rich province of Mosul, where many Kurds lived, in 1918. The following year Mosul was incorporated into the newly created Iraq. The Treaty of Sevres promised the Iraqi Kurds the chance to be part of this projected Kurdistan, a promise never to be fulfilled.

In 1920 Shaykh Mahmud Barzanji led an uprising of the Iraqi Kurds against British rule and declared a Kurdish kingdom in northern Iraq. At first the British had backed Barzanji, who they saw as offering a convenient buffer territory between their interests in Iraq and the Turkish state. He had become increasingly resentful about the failure of the British to keep their promises. He was wounded, captured and imprisoned in India until 1922.

However, the British now decided to bring him back to stabilise the area against the Turkish nationalists and he was installed as governor of south Kurdistan, but after his return he proclaimed himself King of Kurdistan, turned down the British deal and allied with Turkey. Barzanji was defeated and captured again in 1932. He sued for peace and was exiled to southern Iraq. During the series of uprisings against the British, the RAF used bombs and chemical weapons against Kurdish insurgents.

In 1968 the USA supported the coming to power in Iraq of the Ba’athist Party, which promptly began to attack the Kurds in that country. In the 1970s it supported the Shah of Iran as its ally in the region, and gave support to the Kurds against Iraq. When war between Iran and Saddam Hussein’s Iraq ended suddenly in 1975, Iran dropped its Kurdish allies and the Americans stopped supplying them with military aid. The Kurds then were at the mercy of Saddam.

In the 1980s The USA saw Saddam as a useful regional ally, particularly with the fall of the Shah and the Islamic Revolution in 1979 in Iran. The Americans turned a blind eye to Saddam’s atrocities against the Kurds. This changed again in 1990 with Saddam’s invasion of Kuwait. He was now the enemy of the USA and American support was given to Kurdish and Shiite revolts in Iraq. However with the declaration of a Kurdish autonomous zone in northern Iraq, the USA failed to provide assistance and the revolt was crushed.

With the Syrian civil war, the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) of Turkey, who had been waging a war against the Turkish State, in alliance with its proxy, the Democratic Union Party (PYD) took over parts of Syria from the Assad regime. They defended themselves against attacks from the Islamic State. The Americans, seeking an ally in the region, at first supported the Kurds against ISIS with air attacks, and then later with financial and military aid. The Kurds had once again become a proxy of the USA.

All of this changed with Trump’s abrupt decision to desert the Kurds and to allow the Turkish state to attack the Kurdish area in Syria. But, once again, Trump has reversed his position of pulling US troops out of Syria, under pressure from both Democrats and Republicans, and the criticisms of many retired military leaders. What this means for the Kurds in Syria remains to be seen.

As for Russia, it initially gave support to the PYD and its military units, the YPG. Now, however, Russia’s uneasy alliance with the Erdogan regime in Turkey means that Putin has given the green light for YPG forces to be pushed back from the Turkish/Syrian border. Putin met with Erdogan at the Black Sea resort of Sochi last week, and there it was agreed that Russian troops in Syria would not intervene to stop the advance of the Turkish forces. For its part, the PYD has agreed for the return of control of north east Syria to Assad and his forces. The PYD might switch allegiances and go into alliance with Russia, which will cynically play them off against the Turkish State, and then in time-honoured fashion, drop the Kurds when they are no longer deemed useful. Putin’s support of the Assad regime is still a priority and comes before any support for the Kurds.

We should also be aware of the demands by the German Defence Minister, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer to set up a security zone in the area and send thousands of troops there. This represents a move by the Franco-German bloc in Europe to intervene for its own interests.

Meanwhile, across the border in northern Iraq, the USA still supports the Kurdish autonomous region ruled by the Barzani family. However, this support has its limits. After an independence referendum with a 93% vote of Yes, in 2017, the USA used its troops to support Iraqi forces to push the Kurds back into their enclave and the areas taken by the Kurds in 2014, including Kirkuk and its oilfields, were retaken by the Iraqi government. This is in spite of the role that Kurdish forces had played in driving out ISIS from most of Iraq.

There is an old Kurdish saying that the Kurds have no friends but the mountains. Any attempt by the Kurds to ally with world imperialist powers as well as regional imperialist powers like Iran, have proven time and again to be disastrous. The Kurds are used as proxies, as cannon fodder for the interests of these powers in a danger zone where the USA and its British and European allies, and Russia and its allies of Syria and Iran, are in confrontation.

Only a revolutionary movement that unites Kurdish, Turkish, and Arab workers and sweeps away the ruling class in the Middle East, whether it be the Barzani family, the theocratic regime in Iran, the Assad regime in Syria and Erdogan in Turkey, can offer any real solution to the situation.

Support antifascist prisoner David Campbell and anti-ISIS prisoner Aidan James

Cautiously pessimistic

David Campbell, a New York-based antifascist, is starting an 18-month sentence after being convicted of “gang assault”, a charge that sounds similar to the notoriously terrible principle of “joint enterprise”, allowing people to be convicted for someone else’s actions. To make things a little easier while he’s inside, you can donate money here, send him a message using this form which his friends will print out and pass on to him, or pick something off his very extensive reading list (or even choose a book you think he’d like that’s not on there) and order a copy to be sent to:

David Campbell #3101900657
Eric M. Taylor Center
10-10 Hazen Street
East Elmhurst, NY 11370

If you’d like to write to David, but aren’t sure what to write about, here are some suggestions:

  • the last time you saw a good play, or your favorite …

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Red And Black Telly: HONG KONG,U.K., EXTINCTION REBELLION.