Simon Assaf

Bassem Chit (1979-2014)

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After the sudden loss of a revolutionary who inspired and organised young activists in the Middle East, Simon Assaf records Bassem Chit's legacy.

The sudden death from a heart attack of Lebanese revolutionary socialist Bassem Chit is a tremendous blow to our movement. Bassem was a man of immense energy and extraordinary bravery, with a sharp tactical and strategic mind.

Iraq and Syria: A war without end

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The Western coalition attacks on Iraq and Syria will only build support for the Islamic State, argues Simon Assaf, as the movement has grown out of the persecution of Sunni Muslims in both countries.

The Coalition-led bombing campaign on Iraq and Syria is being sold as a desperate intervention to push back the Islamic State (IS also known as ISIS and ISIL. In Arabic it is known by its acronym Daesh). The battle for control over the Kurdish-majority Syrian city of Kobane (Ayn al-Arab) is portrayed as a possible turning point in this war.

Bread, Freedom, Social Justice

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This much-anticipated and authoritative book by Anne Alexander and Mostafa Bassiouny tracks the role of the Egyptian working class movements in the 2011 Revolution. It is a closely argued, detailed and thorough examination of the dynamics of the revolution and the potential for workers to make a profound change in Egyptian society.

Alexander and Bassiouny begin with the definition of the Egyptian military — not a neutral body standing above society mediating between different interests, nor is it simply a charmed circle of personalities, but a brutal agent of class rule.

West charges into Iraqi quagmire

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Syria in rubble

The new rush to war in Iraq and Syria by the West is a dangerous foray back into the quagmire created by its 2003 invasion of Iraq.

US President Barack Obama announced that he has assembled a 50-country coalition to destroy the Islamic State (IS) in Iraq and in Syria — IS is also known as Isis and Isil.

This new “coalition of the willing” includes Western allies in the Arab world — Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Jordan, Bahrain and the UAE — as well as France, which refused to join in the 2003 invasion. Britain is also on board.

Miliband's losing election strategy

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Last month’s Labour Party conference was a moribund affair, judging by all reports. “Despair” is a word that crops up repeatedly. “Ennui” has also been noted.

Labour MPs should have been upbeat after securing a No vote in the Scottish referendum. After all, Gordon Brown became the toast of the Union when he emerged from his monk-like retreat to head up the “great pledge” for DevoMax.

But the morning after the vote left Labour looking like the biggest loser.

Palestine, Arab Revolutions and Global Solidarity

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Gaza demo London

Israel's punishing war on the Palestinians has left the Gaza Strip in ruins. But the Israeli military failed in its main objective, to break the spirit of resistance and cow the population.

The carnage and scorched earth policy unleashed by the Israeli war machine on the Gaza Strip over the summer marked a grim end to the era of hope that began with the Tunisian and Egyptian Revolutions in 2011. Yet despite its brutal military superiority, Benjamin Netanyahu’s government failed to defeat the Palestinian resistance.

Iraq: torn apart by imperialism

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The dramatic military advance by Isis militants in the Sunni Muslim areas of Iraq in the early part of the summer pushed the country back towards civil war. The US war and occupation sowed the roots of sectarian division in Iraqi society.

The declaration of the formation of an Islamic Caliphate by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (Isis) and its lightening offensive in both countries has sent shockwaves around the world.

The Caliphate (known as the Islamic State) stretches from the Syrian city of Aleppo to the Iraqi suburbs of Baghdad. By effectively abolishing the Iraqi-Syria border, Isis has in one move trumped the rhetoric of every Arab ruler since the 1917 Anglo-French Sykes– Picot agreement drew the modern map of the Middle East.

Gabriel Garcia Marquez

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The death of Colombian author Gabriel Garcia Marquez at the age of 87 marks the end of an era that transformed Latin American literature.

Marquez is renowned for a style of work known as Magical Realism, where the supernatural and the mundane merge. His books are a metaphor for imperialism, dictatorship and struggle.

Marquez, who was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1982, popularised a style that was steeped in Latin American artistic traditions at a time of deep social change and dashed hopes.

Qatar: pulled back into line

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One of the many casualties of the end of the Arab Spring is the Gulf state of Qatar, a country that up till recently had seemed best placed to emerge as a leading power in the new post-revolutionary Arab world.

Its main allies in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) have turned on the island kingdom, withdrawing their ambassadors and hinting that the gas rich monarchy would be expelled from the powerful bloc.

Recent reports appear to indicate that Qatar is recanting its support for the Arab Spring, and reining back its sponsorship of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Why read...Imperialism and World Economy

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Lenin described Nikolai Bukharin's Imperialism and World Economy as essential to understanding not only the economic basis of imperialism, but also its political and social impact.

The book, which was published at the height of the First World War, set out to prove that the war was not a "descent into madness", or to halt "German militarism", but the consequence of the emergence of imperialism, itself a "higher stage" of capitalism.

Bukharin's work was a reply to the tendency at the time to reduce imperialism "to the level of a cuss-word".

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