Thursday, April 14, 2011

Revolution and Counterrevolution in the Arab World

Translation of an analysis by Shalgooni about the Arab revolution.
See original, in Persian, here ...

Revolution and Counterrevolution in the Arab World - 1
by: Mohammad-Reza Shalgooni / April 9, 2011

The Arab revolution, whose introduction descended on the region like a thunder, and which brought tens of millions of people with their spontaneous protests to the streets in different Arab countries, is now facing a mountain of difficulties and turmoil. In Tunisia and Egypt, where the dictators were brought down, the dictatorial structures are still standing untouched, and the cronies of the dictators that were overthrown are planning to leash the revolution. In Libya, imperialist powers with the support and collusion of the most reactionary Arab dictatorships, in a surrealistic coalition, have entered the arena in support of the Libyan revolution. [Meanwhile] in Yemen, despite his grumblings about "White House conspiracies", Ali Abdullah Saleh's hands are left completely free in slaughtering the Yemeni revolutionaries. In Bahrain, where the Saudi military forces in support of the Al Khalifa royal family are occupying the place, the Al Jazeera TV distorts the truth in the same manner as Hilary Clinton. And finally, in Syria (despite all the predictions and disbelief of "experts"), where revolutionary waves are breaking the levies supporting the Asad dynasty, the Wahabi king of Saudi Arabia, in order to "neutralize the conspiracy," announces its solidarity with the Alawite Baathist monarchic republic. Can the great Arab revolution overcome these challenges and find a way out? Nobody can yet answer this question clearly, but paying attention to the reasons and the conditions that gave rise to this revolution can give us a better understanding of its capabilities and it horizons.

Conditions that gave rise to the Arab Revolution
Before anything, it must not be forgotten that the Arab revolution is a world even. Without attention to this truth, it will be difficult to understand the alignment of the forces and the ups and downs of the revolutionary process, even within the borders of particular countries involved. The factor that gives this revolution a global character is not merely the fact that it travels beyond the borders of this or that country. It is rather the very important and sensitive position of the Middle East in the current world system.

The Middle East is tied to the heart of the world system (meaning the U.S.) in two ways: through the oil and gas resources and through the issue of Israel. So far as the importance of oil and gas resources go, it is enough to remember that 60% of today's world's energy needs are met by oil and gas, and nearly 60% of known oil reserves and more than 40% of known gas reserves are located in the Middle East. The Israel issue, however, is important because it is the source of constant friction between the people of the region and the U.S. Whether we consider Israel as an outpost or a bridge for the American empire in the Middle East, or an out-of-control regime that even threatens American interests in the region, we cannot deny the reality of two factors: first, the "Israel lobby" exercises considerable influence in the power structures in the U.S. and has tied the American Middle East policy with Israeli interests; and second, the goal of the Israeli occupation [of Palestinian territories] is the complete elimination of the Palestinian people from the map of the Middle East, and this is something that the Arab nations cannot stay indifferent about. It was by putting his finger on this very truth that enabled Uri Avnery to write in the second week of the Egyptian revolution: "The turmoil in Egypt was caused by economic factors: the rising cost of living, the poverty, the unemployment, the hopelessness of the educated young. But let there be no mistake: the underlying causes are far more profound. They can be summed up in one word: Palestine." Considering these realities and truths, then, as long as the U.S. continues its [two-pronged] policy of unconditional support of Israel and the control of energy resources of Middle East, the connectedness of the region to the heart of the current world system will continue. For this reason, the Arab revolution in inevitable fashion is a rebellion against the current world system; and the more this rebellion progresses forward (and, of course, if it progresses forward), the more clearly and transparently will it manifest and display its [anti-systemic] nature. Any change in the Arab world will most definitely change the Middle East's relations with the current world system.

It is necessary here to remind the reader that "Middle East", more than being a geographic concept, is a strategic concept invented by the British empire, and has been employed and institutionalized by the American empire (and more so the English language media), and its boundaries vary depending on American policies. [...] However, the Arab world is a geographic and historical reality, without which "Middle East" (within or beyond any limits) loses its importance for many reasons:

1. A significant portion of the energy sources of the Middle East is located in the Arab world.

2. The Arab world is the most connected part of Middle East. Of course, Arab people live in (more than) 22 different countries, but a majority of them have such vast cultural, historical and religious connections that they consider themselves a united collectivity that shares the same destiny. Arabic is the official language of all these countries with a population of 350 million people that mostly live side by side over a contiguous landmass stretching from the shores of the Atlantic Ocean to the coasts of Persian Gulf. The mother tongue of nearly 80% of this population is Arabic, and the religion of 90% is Islam. [...]

3. History of Islam and the history of Islamic empires, Muslim holy places, and the Arabic language as the religious language of Islam, has bestowed a special place to the Arab world among the peoples of the greater Middle East and even the Muslim world, and this turns Arab issues into issues for the entire Muslim world, and in turn into truly global issues and sensitivities.

It is all these special characteristics together that make the Arab revolution a world event, with larger global resonance. In addition to these factors, the Arab revolution is taking place in a particular time period/era: after the banner of the thesis of "Clash of Civilizations" had been raised by some American imperialist strategists, and the sharp edge of this thesis pointed particularly at Muslims and naturally the Arabs; after the September 11, 2001 disaster, and a bigger disaster called "war on terrorism," whose sharp blade, again, has been drawn against Muslims and specially Arabs and has caused the occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq; after PLO had been shut up and made irrelevant, and after the erection of the Apartheid Wall and the imprisonment of one and a half million Palestinians in the Gaza ghetto, which was made possible through Mubarak's collusion with Israeli government.

And finally, two more factors tie the Arab revolution to the global clock: First, the Arab revolution set things on fire in an era when the revolution in information and communications had ripened on a world and mass scale; as a result, a significant portions of the Arab youth, by turning to the Internet and social media, could bypass dictatorial regimes' media, and competing satellite TV stations (especially since the creation of Al Jazeera TV) could bring closer together all the millions of the Arab masses in different countries. Second, the globalization of capital and the neo-liberal regime of accumulation have led to the biggest economic crisis of capitalism in the last eighty years, a crisis that is still causing unemployment, inequality, poverty and hunger on catastrophic levels around the world, and has had a determining role in starting the fires of the Arab revolution.

During the first days of the February 1917 revolution in Russia, in a series of articles titled "Letters from Afar", Lenin showed that the contradictions of the capitalist system at the beginning of the 20th century, more than anywhere else, had become critical in Russia, and it was from this that the concept of "the weak link in the imperialist chain" was created. And today, we can say with some certainty that the contradictions of world capitalism of twenty-first century are most critical in today's Arab world more than anywhere else, and the weak link in today's imperialist chain is in the Arab world.

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