Revolution #254, December 25, 2011

Uprisings, Clashes Shake North Africa and the Middle East

Inspired by an uprising that drove out a hated imperialist-backed tyrant in the North African country of Tunisia, millions of Egyptian people defied the torture chambers and tanks of the Mubarak regime, driving him from power. For decades the U.S. considered Mubarak one of its closest and most important allies in the world, and provided his regime with billions of dollars in aid, even as they were fully aware of the Mubarak regime’s savage repression and robbery of the Egyptian people. The U.S. imperialists, through their tight ties with the Egyptian army, continue to work to repress the Egyptian people’s aspirations for liberation while maneuvering to contend with and control conservative and reactionary Muslim fundamentalist forces. Through twists and turns, the Egyptian people have continued to resist and look for ways to break out of the “options” offered by the current world order.

January 19: People in Tunisia demonstrate against holdovers from the regime of the just ousted dictator President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. In December of 2010, Mohamed Bouazizi, a 26-year-old unemployed university graduate, set himself on fire in protest of the U.S.-backed regime. His sacrifice became a rallying cry and by January 19, Ben Ali had fled. This uprising challenged all views that the oppressive order in North Africa and the Middle East was unchangeable and unchallengeable.

In a very inspiring development, on May 15 tens of thousands of protesters converged on, and in some cases heroically crossed the borders of Israel from Syria, Lebanon, the West Bank and Gaza to commemorate the Nakba (the ethnic cleansing on which Israel was founded in 1948). Israeli troops opened fire on these unarmed protesters, killing at least a dozen on the Lebanon, Gaza and Syria borders.

In these courageous mobilizations on the borders of Israel, one could see a seed of the potential strength of the people of the world. Israel is an extremely important “prop” and enforcer of U.S. imperialist domination of people throughout the region (and the world). And the oppression of the Palestinians is central to the whole setup that maintains the peoples of the region (and beyond) in poverty and brutal repression.

The mass uprisings across the Arab world in 2011 rocked the U.S., the main power dominating the region. At the same time, the U.S. rulers have been maneuvering ferociously and viciously to protect and promote their interests. The U.S. imperialist godfather oversaw a NATO military assault on the North African country of Libya to overthrow the Qaddafi regime. Obama declared that “The future of Libya is now in the hands of the Libyan people.” The reality is nothing of the sort. The war had nothing to do with liberating Libya or assuring self-determination for the nation of Libya. It was aimed at strengthening imperialism’s grip on Libya, and the overall region.

The U.S. also continued to back its reactionary allies in the face of upheavals shaking the region: the main attack dog for the U.S. in the region, the state of Israel; the fundamentalist monarchy in Saudi Arabia; the military regime in Egypt following the fall of longtime U.S.-backed ruler Hosni Mubarak; and vicious regimes in Bahrain and other countries.

Beyond the Middle East, in Afghanistan, the U.S. continues a brutal war—with bombings of villages, night raids on homes, covert assassinations, massive detentions and torture, and all-around terror—that has meant horrible suffering for the masses of people.

The U.S. (along with Israel) has also been intensifying a covert war and threats of open war against the Islamic regime in Iran; a bloody military campaign with drones in Pakistan; and intervention in a number of African countries.


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