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Russia
Twenty five years since the coup against Gorbachev

25/08/2016: Decades of ‘shock therapy capitalism’, wars and corruption

  Russia

Chile
Up to 2 million march against pensions robbery

24/08/2016: General strike threatened for 4 November as protests grow

  Chile

Quebec
Montreal workers strike for $15 an hour

22/08/2016: "Company totally underestimated workers’ determination"

  Quebec

 Video
Militant, Liverpool and Trotskyism today

22/08/2016: Russia Today covers historic Liverpool battle, led by the CWI in Britain

  Trotsky, Video

US
Build a new party of the 99%

21/08/2016: Support Jill Stein

  US

Middle East
ISIS’ waning “caliphate”

20/08/2016: Imperialist solutions are no solution at all

  Middle East

Russia
Twenty fifth anniversary of attempted coup

19/08/2016: Attempted Stalinist counter-revolution speeds up capitalist counter-revolution

  Russia

US
Trump in trouble

17/08/2016: Political polarisation deepens

  US

Philippines
Is Duterte following in Marcos’ footsteps?

16/08/2016: New president threatens martial law while leaning on ‘left’ parties for support

  Philippines

Britain
The Corbyn insurgency 2.0

15/08/2016: Now let’s finish the job

  Britain

 Video
Socialist Party general secretary Peter Taaffe on Channel 4

14/08/2016: Socialist party media coverage amid accusations of Trotskyist "entryism"

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 Video
CWI around the world

13/08/2016: Video shown at the CWI Summer school of some sections’ activities

  CWI, Video

Quebec
World Social Forum 2016

13/08/2016: Tens of thousands of activists from around the world gather WSF in Montreal, 9-14 August

  Canada, Quebec

Hong Kong
Multinational MTR takes socialist Sally Tang Mei-ching to court

12/08/2016: Political motives behind ‘David versus Goliath’ trial

  Hong Kong

Britain
#KeepCorbyn - stand firm for socialism

10/08/2016: The fight for a Labour Party for the working class

  Britain

South Africa
Local elections a thunderous rebuke for ANC

09/08/2016: ANC polls less than 60% for first time since end of apartheid

  Africa, South Africa

Zimbabwe
Mugabe must fall!

05/08/2016: Mass revolt shakes the regime to its foundations

  Zimbabwe

The Olympics, big business and dictatorship

04/08/2016: A short history of the Olympics:

  History

 CWI Summer school
Brazil

04/08/2016: New cycle of struggle following right-wing parliamentary coup

  Brazil, CWI

 CWI Summer School
Economic instability, inter-imperialist tensions, workers struggles’ and political earthquakes

03/08/2016: Report of the discussion on world perspectives at the recent CWI Summer School

  CWI, Turkey

 CWI Summer School 2016
Fighting racism and the far right 

02/08/2016: Capitalist crisis and anti-immigrant reaction

  CWI

Germany
‘Brexit’ and the German Left

30/07/2016: Reject the bosses’ EU! For a Europe of working people - a voluntary socialist federation

  Germany

US
Most contentious Democratic Convention since 1968

29/07/2016: We need a new party of the 99% to defeat the billionaire class

  US

 Cameroon
Free jailed Buea activists!

28/07/2016: 100 protest outside the court demanding release of the 15

  Cameroon, Solidarity

Cote d’Ivoire
Protests against electricity prices

28/07/2016: The straw that broke the camel’s back!

  Ivory Coast

US
A call to action

27/07/2016: Walk out from the Democratic National Convention!

  US

Chile
One million protest against private pension fund

26/07/2016: After student protests, working class returns to streets

  Chile

 CWI Summer School
Europe in the aftermath of the Brexit shock

26/07/2016: Continent enters new phase of political and economic crises

  CWI

Britain
Westminster renews Trident weapons of mass destruction

25/07/2016: Debate exposes Labour as two parties

  Britain

Belgium
Brutal repression against Hong Kong socialist at Brussels Airport

18/07/2016: Chinese methods against Marxists copied by Belgian authorities

  Belgium

Kurdistan

Kurdish ‘Intifada’ in Iran

www.socialistworld.net, 10/09/2005
website of the committee for a workers' international, CWI

Oppressed workers and poor resist regime

Tim Lessells, Socialist Party, England and Wales

There has been serious and violent unrest for over a month now in the predominantly Kurdish inhabited region of the Iranian state. This uprising has been largely ignored by the western media.

According to Human Rights Watch, 17 people have been killed during protests in recent weeks. Iran Focus (11/08/05) reports the deaths as follows: “Three anti-government protesters shot dead in Oshnavieh on July 26, two killed in Baneh on July 30, one shot dead in Sardasht on August 2, and 11 killed in Saqqez on August 3.” Given the lack of any independent media in Iran it is impossible to verify any of this – the numbers killed are likely to be much higher. Kurdish organisations have issued a statement that claims 50 deaths.

Demonstrations in many towns and cities were reported – with youths and political opponents chanting anti-government slogans and fighting running battles with the Iranian police. In retaliation for the police killings and repression, government buildings were attacked. The police and paramilitary forces are reported to have fired indiscriminately into crowds - wounding hundreds as a consequence. This was the case in Saqqez on the 3rd August. Some organisations claim that helicopter gun-ships also fired onto the crowds.

The Iranian state forces have massively increased their presence in the region and this is adding to the tension. Reportedly, 100,000 troops were deployed, as well as ‘special forces’ and helicopter gun-ships. The Kurdish region is now effectively under martial law. Some Kurds are reportedly fleeing the region and, if the violence escalates, a flow of refugees out of the region can be expected.

On August 9th there was a commercial shutdown across the region in response to the state killings and repression. Numerous journalists, political, human rights, women’s rights and labour activists were arrested. No doubt there are hundreds of prisoners, especially from amongst the young people, resisting state repression, who now find themselves in the regime’s notorious dungeons and torture chambers. The authorities have also closed down two Kurdish language newspapers.

The spark for this month long ‘intifada’ was the brutal murder of political activist Shivan Quederi, on July 9th. Iranian state forces shot him three times, and then tied him to a military vehicle and drove around the city of Mahabad.

There are, of course, other contributing factors to this uprising – not least the long time national oppression of the Kurds within the Iranian state. The economic situation remains dire – the Kurdish region is badly underdeveloped and unemployment is high. This underdevelopment is a deliberate political weapon used by the regime. A UN report states that “regions historically occupied by Kurds ...seem to suffer disproportionate inadequacy of services such as water and electricity and unsatisfactory reconstruction efforts”. (Reuters, 30/07/05)

Iraq and Turkey

Events in Iraq and Turkey are also having a knock on effect. In northern Iraq, Kurds have had autonomy for over a decade now. Despite the in-fighting between rival Kurdish factions in the mid-90s, the population were at least free from Saddam Hussein’s rule, and, as a result, they enjoyed relative peace and prosperity under the protection of US/UK imperialism. (During Saddam’s brutal rule, some reactionary leaders of the main Kurdish organisations also collaborated with Saddam). The Kurds are now seemingly progressing towards their place in a new ‘Federal Democratic Iraq’.

The nationalist and pro-capitalist Kurdish leaders in Iraq are currently in favour with imperialism, but this will not necessarily remain the case. What the extent of their autonomy actually amounts to in the future Iraq is yet to be seen. There are disputed issues, including the city of Kirkuk (and its oil fields) which is potentially explosive. Nonetheless, to the Kurds inside the Iranian state who continue to suffer under the brutal Iranian dictatorship, the situation for Kurds in Iraq appears to be much better.

In Turkey there is also some movement on the Kurdish question. According to an interview with Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) Commander, Murat Karayilan, (AFP, 12/08/05), the PKK is ready to lay down arms if the Turkish army ends the crackdown on its militants and if Ankara guarantees the rights of the Kurds. Meanwhile, whilst rejecting any possible let up in the military campaign against the PKK, the Prime Minister of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, recently pledged that the Kurdish conflict would be resolved with "more democracy". The Kurdish people can have no illusions in the Turkish ruling elite, which has oppressed them for decades. But to the Kurds in Iran, the situation in Turkey may look like progress. They must feel somewhat left behind and forgotten about compared to their brothers and sisters in the Turkish and Iraqi states.

"It is tragically ironic that while the United States now supports Kurds in Iraq who are embracing democratic principles and institutions deemed critical to Iraq’s future, Kurds in Iran, Syria and Turkey, striving for similar rights and freedoms, are marginalized and left at the mercy of repressive regimes" so says the Washington Kurdish Institute (09/08/05). The lack of consistency in the US’s mission to ‘spread democracy’ throughout the Middle East is thus picked up on, even by a nationalist, pro-capitalist institution such as this.

In reality, the US only wishes to ‘spread democracy’ when this is directly in accordance with its interests (such as in the ‘Orange Revolution’ in the Ukraine and the ‘Rose Revolution’ in Georgia. As the majority of people in the Middle East, Latin America and elsewhere in the neo-colonial world are all too aware the US is certainly not a consistent proponent of democracy. It has in the past supported the most ruthless and bloody of regimes, (Saddam Hussein’s Iraq being such an example), and it continues to support the likes of Saudi Arabia. Kuwait, the tiny country that the US and its allies ‘liberated’ in the first Gulf War, only extended the vote to women this year! Despite the lively rhetoric of President George W. Bush, and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, about ‘spreading democracy’, US imperialism has not all of a sudden been transformed into a tool of liberation for the oppressed peoples of the world. The economic and military-strategic interests of US capitalism remain the determining factor in its foreign policy.

The silence of imperialism and the media over the recent events in the predominantly Kurdish inhabited region of Iran can be partly explained by US imperialism’s fear of yet more instability in the Middle East. Reporting on the Kurds plight in Iran could threaten to spread the uprising elsewhere – to destabilise the Kurdish regions of Iraq, Syria and Turkey. Anything that could be interpreted as US imperialism encouraging the Kurds in their struggle could ignite a massive and uncontrollable fire. The repercussions would threaten the interests of American and European capitalism in the region – this, in turn, would impact on the world economy. The current nation states in this region could be split apart – the major powers of Iran and Turkey could in these circumstances be forced to enter the conflicts in a desperate attempt to gain control of the situation. This is a situation that US imperialism would understandably rather avoid.

Having said this, it is not ruled out that US imperialism is presently meddling in the explosive situation in Kurdish areas of Iran, for its own class ends, of course. As we know from the situation in Iraq, prior to imperialism’s overthrow of Saddam, and in the ensuing chaos since, US imperialism will lean on different peoples in the region, including the oppressed Kurds, to further its class interests and often playing a ‘divide and rule’ game.

Unfortunately, the main political organisations in the Kurdish region of the Iranian state look towards imperialism in its different guises (the US, EU and the UN) to resolve the Kurdish national question. Whilst an alliance of convenience is possible between imperialism and the Kurds in Iran, this will be short lived, and it will be imperialism that calls all the shots.

History has shown, time and again, that the Kurds can have no trust in imperialism. Following the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, ‘The Treaty of Sevres’, in 1920, promised the Kurdish people their own independent state. Imperialism did not deliver on this and the Kurds were betrayed. The Kurdish people were divided up between Turkey, Iran, Iraq, Syria and Armenia. Imperialism has created the modern Kurdish national question and it is unable to resolve it.

‘Mahabad Soviet’

Not only has Western imperialism betrayed the Kurds. The ruling bureaucratic caste of the Soviet Union, led by Joseph Stalin, left them to be crushed in 1947. The so-called ‘Mahabad Soviet’ was a mini-Kurdish state, established in 1946, with its capital in Mahabad (a city now in the Iranian province of West Azerbaijan, but which is predominantly Kurdish). This Kurdish republic was established following World War Two when part of Iran was still occupied by the Red Army. However, the Stalinist elite in Moscow abandoned support for the new independent Kurdish state in 1947 after signing a deal with the Shah of Iran to grant them access to oil and gas. After the Soviet Union withdrew its support the ‘Mahabad Soviet’ was soon invaded by the Iranian military and its leaders were hung.

More recently, Western imperialism backed Saddam Hussein’s Iraq during the Iran-Iraq war – including supplying the Ba’athist regime with chemical weapons, which were subsequently used against the Kurds in Halabja in 1988, killing over 5000.

The Kurds in northern Iraq rose up against Saddam’s regime in the first Gulf War of 1991, after the US said it would support them. The US then did a deal with Saddam, allowing his forces to massacre thousands of Kurds. The same happened to the Shia who had risen up in the south of Iraq. After forcing Saddam out of Kuwait, US imperialism decided to call a halt. It preferred a much weaker unitary Iraq under Saddam’s continued brutal rule than the destabilisation of the entire region. In particular, imperialism feared the repercussions in Turkey, a NATO member and important strategic and economic ally. The Kurds in Turkey would have been greatly spurred on by the Kurds in Iraq if they had gained independence.

The Kurdish people have shown a massive willingness to struggle. They refuse to lie down and be defeated. The Kurds within the Iranian state fought like tigers in the revolution against the Shah. After the Islamic (counter) revolution in 1979 they prevented Ayotollah Khomeini’s troops from invading the region until 1982. There are countless other examples of heroic uprisings and brave guerrilla fighters who have died in the struggle. Unfortunately, willingness to struggle, bravery and self-sacrifice are not enough. The necessary political leadership, with the correct programme and tactics to bring about victory, has always been lacking.

Instead of looking towards imperialism, the Kurdish people must instead look to the working class and poor masses of the region and the entire world for support. To smash the theocratic dictatorship the Kurds need the support of the powerful Iranian working class and student movement. Likewise, for the Iranian workers to succeed, they need to win over the oppressed national minorities within the current Iranian state firmly to their side. This means that they must rally to the defence of national minorities and support their just demand for self-determination. The working class movement, not imperialism, is the natural ally of oppressed peoples.

A socialist programme, which includes the right of nations to self-determination, can win support from across all the peoples of the Middle East. A socialist programme aim would win support for a democratically planned economy to dramatically raise living standards, and would also aim to win support for democratic and national rights - which can only be won and secured under socialism.

A mass uprising against capitalism - against dictatorship, against national oppression and against women’s oppression, could spread socialist revolution across the region and beyond. The success of the socialist revolution requires the building of mass parties of the working class, armed with a correct Marxist programme. This is the crucial task that socialists are faced with – to start the construction of such parties today.

  • Down with the theocratic dictatorship!
  • For a mass revolutionary struggle that unites the working class, poor masses, students and oppressed peoples across the Iranian state!
  • Self-determination for the Kurdish people!
  • For a socialist confederation of the Middle East!


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NEWS

Pakistan: Vindictive management suspend and transfer Sindh teachers
24/08/2016, CWI Reporters, Sindh :
Solidarity protests needed!

Chile: Up to 2 million march against pensions robbery
24/08/2016, Socialismo Revolucionario (CWI in Chile) reporters:
General strike threatened for 4 November as protests grow

Britain: Answer right’s attacks with firm socialist programme
23/08/2016, Editorial from the Socialist, paper of the Socialist Party (CWI in England & Wales):
#KeepCorbyn

Quebec: Montreal workers strike for $15 an hour
22/08/2016, Interview with Jacques Fontaine, a striking worker at the Old Port of Montreal:
"Company totally underestimated workers’ determination"

Video: Militant, Liverpool and Trotskyism today
22/08/2016, socialistworld.net:
Russia Today covers historic Liverpool battle, led by the CWI in Britain

US: Build a new party of the 99%
21/08/2016, Joshua Koritz, Socialist Alternative, USA:
Support Jill Stein

Philippines: Is Duterte following in Marcos’ footsteps?
16/08/2016, Vincent Kolo (CWI) interviews Philippines-based socialist, Gabriel:
New president threatens martial law while leaning on ‘left’ parties for support

Video: Socialist Party general secretary Peter Taaffe on Channel 4
14/08/2016, Socialistworld.net:
Socialist party media coverage amid accusations of Trotskyist "entryism"

Video: CWI around the world
13/08/2016, socialistworld.net:
Video shown at the CWI Summer school of some sections’ activities

Quebec: World Social Forum 2016
13/08/2016, socialistworld.net:
Tens of thousands of activists from around the world gather WSF in Montreal, 9-14 August

Hong Kong: Multinational MTR takes socialist Sally Tang Mei-ching to court
12/08/2016, Socialist Action reporters (CWI in Hong Kong):
Political motives behind ‘David versus Goliath’ trial

Britain: #KeepCorbyn - stand firm for socialism
10/08/2016, Editorial from the Socialist, paper of the Socialist Party (CWI in England & Wales):
The fight for a Labour Party for the working class

South Africa: Local elections a thunderous rebuke for ANC
09/08/2016, Weizmann Hamilton, Workers and Socialist Party (CWI in South Africa):
ANC polls less than 60% for first time since end of apartheid

Ireland: Non-payment of water bills rises to 73%
09/08/2016, Katia Hancke, Socialist Party (CWI in Ireland):
Abolish the charges now

Zimbabwe: Mugabe must fall!
05/08/2016, Statement by the Executive Committee of the Workers and Socialist Party (CWI in South Africa):
Mass revolt shakes the regime to its foundations

The Olympics, big business and dictatorship
04/08/2016, Vincent Kolo, chinaworker.info:
A short history of the Olympics:

CWI Summer school: Brazil
04/08/2016, Michael O’Brien, Socialist Party (CWI in Ireland):
New cycle of struggle following right-wing parliamentary coup

CWI Summer School 2016: Fighting racism and the far right 
02/08/2016, Scott Jones, Socialist Party (CWI England & Wales):
Capitalist crisis and anti-immigrant reaction

Germany: Media seizes on violent attacks to whip up Islamophobia
01/08/2016, Sascha Stanicic, Sozialistische Alternative (CWI in Germany):
No security under capitalism

US: Most contentious Democratic Convention since 1968
29/07/2016, Patrick Ayers, Socialist Alternative (US):
We need a new party of the 99% to defeat the billionaire class

Cameroon: Free jailed Buea activists!
28/07/2016, CWI reporters:
100 protest outside the court demanding release of the 15

Cote d’Ivoire: Protests against electricity prices
28/07/2016, CWI in Cote d’Ivoire:
The straw that broke the camel’s back!

Britain: No compromise with Labour right wing
28/07/2016, Editorial of the Socialist, newspaper of the Socialist Party (CWI in England & Wales):
#Keep Corbyn

Chile: One million protest against private pension fund
26/07/2016, Celso Calfullan and Patricio Guzman Socialism Revolucionario (CIT/CWI Chile):
After student protests, working class returns to streets

Britain: Westminster renews Trident weapons of mass destruction
25/07/2016, Socialist Party (CWI England & Wales) Reporters:
Debate exposes Labour as two parties

Belgium: Brutal repression against Hong Kong socialist at Brussels Airport
18/07/2016, CWI reporters :
Chinese methods against Marxists copied by Belgian authorities

CWI Comment and Analysis

ANALYSIS

Russia: Twenty five years since the coup against Gorbachev
25/08/2016, Rob Jones, CWI in Russia :
Decades of ‘shock therapy capitalism’, wars and corruption

Middle East: ISIS’ waning “caliphate”
20/08/2016, Serge Jordan, CWI:
Imperialist solutions are no solution at all

Russia: Twenty fifth anniversary of attempted coup
19/08/2016, Clare Doyle, International Secretariat of the CWI:
Attempted Stalinist counter-revolution speeds up capitalist counter-revolution

US: Trump in trouble
17/08/2016, Tom Crean, Socialist Alternative, USA:
Political polarisation deepens

Britain: The Corbyn insurgency 2.0
15/08/2016, Hannah Sell, Socialist Party (CWI in England & Wales):
Now let’s finish the job

CWI Summer School: Economic instability, inter-imperialist tensions, workers struggles’ and political earthquakes
03/08/2016, James McCabe, Socialist Party (CWI in Ireland):
Report of the discussion on world perspectives at the recent CWI Summer School

Germany: ‘Brexit’ and the German Left
30/07/2016, Sascha Stanicic, Sozialistische Alternative (CWI in Germany):
Reject the bosses’ EU! For a Europe of working people - a voluntary socialist federation

US: A call to action
27/07/2016, Kshama Sawant, Socialist Alternative (CWI in the US):
Walk out from the Democratic National Convention!

CWI Summer School: Europe in the aftermath of the Brexit shock
26/07/2016, Kevin Parslow, Socialist Party (CWI England & Wales):
Continent enters new phase of political and economic crises

US: Bernie Abandons 'the Revolution’
14/07/2016, Kshama Sawant, Socialist councillor Seattle City :
Time to back Green candidate Jill Stein

Australia: Close election result - A crisis for the establishment
08/07/2016, Socialist Party (CWI Australia) statement :
To fight anti-working class measures, we must build a socialist alternative

History: 1936 - Spain’s revolutionary promise
06/07/2016, Tony Saunois, from Socialism Today (July/August 2016):
Working class and peasants rose up against capitalist exploitation, poverty and fascism

US: Beyond Bernie
01/07/2016, Kshama Sawant, Socialist Alternative (CWI in the USA):
Still not with her

Britain: Referendum revolt
27/06/2016, Peter Taaffe, from Socialism Today (issue No.200, July-August 2016):
Capitalist establishment shattered

Asia: Conflict in the South China Sea
16/06/2016, This is an abridged version of an article by Vincent Kolo, originally published on chinaworker.info.:
Territorial disputes resemble pieces on a ‘geopolitical chessboard’ as the US and China struggle for hegemony in Asia

Middle East: ISIS under pressure on several fronts
15/06/2016, Niall Mulholland, CWI:
Working classes, through bitterest of experiences, will take to road of mass struggle again

EU: Left parties turning against bosses’ Europe
10/06/2016, Danny Byrne, CWI:
Progress in Portugal and Spain, confusion in Britain

Muhammad Ali: A fighter who inspired millions
09/06/2016, Hugo Pierre, Socialism Today (originally published in 2003):
Establishment forced to incorporate his legend into re-writing of history

Review: The working-class case against the EU
08/06/2016, Hannah Sell, article from Socialism Today, magazine of the Socialist Party (CWI in England & Wales):
Review of ‘And The Weak Must Suffer What They Must?’ by Yanis Varoufakis

France: Fight against Valls/Hollande government intensifies
31/05/2016, Clare Doyle, CWI:
Gauche Revolutionnaire statement underlines vital need for political alternative

Austria: Only 31,026 votes prevent far right’s Hofer becoming president
24/05/2016, Sonja Grusch, SLP (the Austrian section of the CWI):
‘Breathing space’ offers chance to build a fighting, democratic left alternative

Britain: EU referendum exposes gaping political fault-lines
24/05/2016, Peter Taaffe, from Socialism Today (monthly magazine of the Socialist Party England & Wales):
New road can open up for labour movement if working class relies on its own forces

Brazil: Fall of President Dilma Rousseff unleashes offensive against working class
19/05/2016, André Ferrari, LSR (‘Freedom, Socialism and Revolution’ - CWI Brazil):
The impeachment process and historic crisis of the PT (Workers’ Party)

Ireland: ‘Jobstown trials’ to go ahead
18/05/2016, Kieran Mahon, Anti-Austerity Alliance / Socialist Party Councillor, Dublin:
Government loses battle on water charges but wages war on Left

Saudi Arabia: Gathering storms over the House of Saud
13/05/2016, Serge Jordan, CWI:
Collapse of oil prices expose fragile foundations of oil Gulf monarchies