Simon Assaf

A region transformed

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The Arab Spring has been marked by a series of momentous events that herald the beginning of an era of revolutionary change. The uprisings have transformed in weeks and months a region mired in decades of political stagnation. The revolutions contain the possibility of growing over to an even more radical social change. To understand this potential we have to examine the deep social changes that have transformed the Arab world, but this requires breaking with many of the ideas that have dominated our understanding of the region.

For many people the Arab revolutions are simply a "correction" in the struggle against imperialism. The overthrow of Ben Ali of Tunisia, Hosni Mubarak of Egypt and Ali Saleh of Yemen have struck deep blows to imperialism. The uprising in Bahrain, which pits a disenfranchised population against a US and Saudi client regime, is seen in the same light.

Anger in Benghazi

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Libya has erupted once again in protest. In January an angry crowd of some 2,000 people stormed the offices of the ruling National Transitional Council (NTC) in Benghazi, the birthplace of the revolution. NTC leaders were planning to announce the publication of the new electoral law that evening but were forced to transfer the announcement to Tripoli.

The Benghazi crowds smashed computer equipment and refused to allow NTC chief Mustafa Abdel Jalil to address them. They then torched his armoured Land Rover. The immediate impact of the protest was to force the resignation of NTC number two, and former Gaddafi-era minister, Abdel Hafiz Ghoga.

Libya: The West's new client?

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The uprising in Libya was inspired by the revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt. But the intervention of Nato forces changed the situation dramatically. Simon Assaf asks if Libya is now destined to become a client state of Western powers or whether its revolution could revive

The revolution itself appears to have stopped, becoming instead a Western-backed revolt. While in Egypt young revolutionaries are storming the Israeli embassy, in Libya Western leaders are greeted as heroes. French, US and British flags fly over the centre of Benghazi. In Cairo these flags are being torn down.

Taking sides in Syria

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The revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt were major reversals for the US and Israel. But Nato intervention in Libya's popular rebellion has raised the possibility that imperialism could hijack the revolutions. Simon Assaf asks, can Syria's uprising avoid falling into the hands of the West?

Syria has long been a thorn in imperialism's side. The Baathist regime has given crucial support to the Lebanese and Palestinian resistance movements who depend on Syria for their survival. So those who found themselves on the same side over the revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia have suddenly found sharp disagreement over the movement for change in Syria.

Outside the Law

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French Algerian director Rachid Bouchareb spoke to Simon Assaf about his new film on the Algerian war of independence, Outside the Law

The Algerian national liberation struggle plunged France and its Algerian colony into a bloody war that has scarred both countries. Rachid Bouchareb's Outside the Law is the story of Algerian immigrants to France who were drawn into the National Liberation Front (FLN), the Algerian national movement. The war, and the scale of the repression recently admitted by France, is part of a history France attempted to bury.

Libya: at the crossroads

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Libya's revolution faces stark choices. Simon Assaf looks at the roots of Gaddafi's regime and the danger posed by Western intervention

As we go to press, Libya's revolution is at a crossroads. The uprising that erupted on 17 February faces two dangers - the possibility that an offensive by the regime of Muammar Gaddafi could crush the revolt, and that the West could intervene and undermine the revolution. This crisis is not of the revolution's making, but is nonetheless one that throws into sharp relief two possible options - to make an alliance of dependency with Western powers, or to draw on the forces that have been pushing for change across the region.

Mubarak: ally of imperialism

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For 30 years Egypt has been the linchpin of US and Israeli domination across the Middle East. Simon Assaf charts the history of Western support for Mubarak and the consequences of his downfall

When the mass demonstrations that swept Egypt turned into an insurrection, US president Barack Obama demanded to know why Middle East experts in Washington failed to predict that a revolution was about to sweep away its most important ally in the Arab world.

Lebanon

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Director: Samuel Maoz; Release date: 14 May

It was a promising start: a film shot from inside an Israeli tank as it battles its way into Lebanon during the 1982 invasion. Lebanon won a clutch of prizes at international film festivals and it created a stir inside Israel and protests where it was shown.

US: Imperialism

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The long war that is getting longer.

It has been called Barack Obama's "LBJ" moment, where a progressive president is dragged into escalating an unpopular war in the hope that a quick success could rescue the US's reputation around the world.

Lyndon Baines Johnson, who assumed the presidency following the assassination of John F Kennedy in 1962, was praised by many progressives for his support for civil rights legislation. But his failure in Vietnam eventually destroyed his presidency.

Inside Egypt

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John R Bradley, Palgrave Macmillan, £14.99

Egypt is on the brink of revolution, unless the US changes its policy towards the regime of Husni Mubarak. That at least is the conclusion of John R Bradley's new book, Inside Egypt - The land of the Pharaohs on the brink of a revolution .

In a series of interviews Bradley reveals the depth of opposition to the regime among ordinary people, activists and intellectuals.

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