Simon Assaf

Egypt: five years on, discontent still flares

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On the fifth anniversary of the Arab Spring revolutions the rumblings of discontent continue to cause panic in the regimes. Arab rulers remain terrified of the ghost of revolution.

As Egyptian security forces moved to clamp down on any event to mark the uprising, protests in Tunisia erupted once again, sparking memories of the 2011 Arab revolutions. The demonstrations, which began in the city of Kasserine and spread to other Tunisian cities, demanded “Work, freedom, dignity”.

Syria: from inter-imperial rivalry to inter-imperial crash

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Welcome to Syria

Last month Britain joined the many states dropping bombs on Syria. Simon Assaf talks to Socialist Review about the causes and implications of a crisis in which none of the players have control.

With such a messy situation in Syria, where do we even start?

It’s always a difficulty when you have deep complexities on the ground to start with what’s going on there, it just becomes more and more complex. So I think the best way to view it is from the top.

A scramble for Syria

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The tragedy in Syria has taken another disastrous turn with the military intervention of Russia. This is being played out in its ruined cities and the waves of desperate refugees attempting to flee their homes.

Warplanes from the US, Russia, Turkey and their various allies have crowded the skies above the country. Now Russian, Iranian, Turkish and US troops are beginning to put boots on the ground.

Discontent rises in Arab world

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A crisis caused by uncollected rubbish has triggered the biggest popular protest in Lebanon for a generation. And in Iraq, discontent over electricity shortages has galvanised a movement for an end to corruption and the sectarian wars.

The fast pace of neoliberal reforms in Egypt has pushed workers in the civil service to call for a million-man protest march in September, while low-ranking police officers have staged a series of strikes despite the threat of harsh penalties.

EU targets migrants at sea

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The European Union’s (EU) response to the biggest refugee crisis since the Second World War is more detention camps, fast track repatriation and jail for migrants and refugees.

Alongside this EU ministers have sanctioned a naval task force with the missions to destroy boats at sea and halt migrant ships as they set off on their journey.

The EU has drawn up a plan to open “structured border zones and facilities”, that is quarantine centres, in the so-called frontline states of Malta, Italy and Greece.

Hong Kong vote bill fails

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Hong Kong MPs have thrown out a bill proposed by China that would tighten its control over how the country’s leader, known as the chief executive, is elected. Only eight of the 70 MPs voted for the change.

The original move to alter the already undemocratic elections, decided by a 1,200-member committee loyal to the government in Beijing, to one where candidates had to be selected from a Chinese approved list, triggered one of the biggest mass movements in the former British colony’s history.

Syria: regime in retreat

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It has been a disastrous few months for the regime of Bashar Assad in Syria following a string of military defeats at the hands of rebels.

Assad’s forces have been driven out of the northern province of Idlib, while his troops are said to be planning to abandon the key eastern city of Deir el-Zour to the Islamic State (ISIS). His grip on Aleppo, once the economic powerhouse, is also slipping.

War on ISIS backfires

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The Coalition campaign to destroy the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has failed to dent the Islamist movement.

Despite thousands of bombing missions by Western warplanes, the Iraqi army and its Syrian counterpart continue to retreat in the face of a few hundred determined fighters.

The Coalition and its allies promised earlier this year that they were about to retake Mosul, Iraq’s second city that fell to ISIS during its lightning offensive last summer. Instead it is the newly rearmed Iraqi army that is once again in retreat.

Egypt regime arrests revolutionaries

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The Egyptian state has once again arrested Mahienour el-Massry.

Mahienour, along with renowned revolutionary Youssef Shaaban and six others, has been charged with storming the al-Raml police station in the Mediterranean city of Alexandria in March 2013.

On the day a small group of demonstrators staged a protest outside the trial of policemen accused of murdering political blogger Khaled Said, whose death triggered the 25 January revolution.

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