Arab Spring

Syria: signs of hope

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The Syrian regime’s capture of Palmyra, the historic Syrian city taken by ISIS last summer, has been hailed as a significant victory and a vindication of Russia’s intervention in Syria. In a deft manoeuvre Putin, a key ally of Assad, announced that he would scale back Russian military forces in Syria — a move designed to reduce tensions with Turkey and the West.

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.

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.

Sectarianism and the Arab revolutions

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What explains sectarian divisions such as the Shia-Sunni divide in the Middle East?
Lebanese socialist Bassem Chit rejects claims that sectarianism is a "pre-modern" force and argues it is rooted in the pattern of capitalist development and crisis in the region.

There is a growing debate over the role of religious sectarianism in the Middle East since the outbreak of the Arab Revolutions. Most writing on the issue deals with the question from a cultural perspective. One of the most striking examples of such an approach is the debate surrounding the supposedly Shia-Sunni divide, which many authors treat as an extension of a conflict over who should have assumed power following the death of the Prophet Mohammed in 632 CE.

Class, power and the state in the Arab Spring

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This month marks the third anniversary of the start of the Egyptian revolution. Simon Assaf examines some key lessons while Anne Alexander spoke to three Egyptian revolutionaries.

At the forefront of the Arab Spring were the movements that took to the streets in vast numbers. The revolutions drew in diverse social forces - workers organisations, youth movements, left wing parties, liberals as well as Islamists - that have over the past three years battled to put themselves at its head. The revolutions have revealed the shortcomings of the established opposition parties, as well as the ability of the state and old ruling classes to adapt and survive. They have thrown up powerful street movements, but also forces of sectarianism and reaction.

Tunisia: Revolution in the balance

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Fathi Chamkhi is a member of the Popular Front coalition, and Mokhtar Ben Hafsa is a school teacher and union activist. They spoke to Jaouhar Tonsy about the struggle for the Tunisian revolution.


The third anniversary of the Tunisian Revolution is marked by political gridlock and a crisis for the ruling Ennahda party, the Islamist government elected in the wake of the uprising. What form is this taking?

Ennahda has been weakened by waves of widespread protests and deep popular anger that have forced it into discussions with the other opposition parties over a future "non-political" government.

Workers and the Arab revolutions

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On the third anniversary of the Arab Spring the revolutions stand at a crossroads. Over the next three months Socialist Review will be exploring the politics and development of these popular revolts. Anne Alexander open this series with an assessment of the nascent workers' movements in Egypt and Tunisia.

"The Russian bourgeois revolution of 1905-07...was undoubtedly a real people's revolution, since the mass of the people, its majority, the very lowest social strata, crushed by oppression and exploitation, rose independently and placed on the entire course of the revolution the impress of their own demands, of their attempts to build in their own way a new society in place of the old society that was being destroyed."

(Lenin, The State and Revolution, 1918)

Syria's revolution behind the lines

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Manbij is a poor and rural town of some 200,000 people in north eastern Syria. The city is half an hour's drive from the border with Turkey and the vital Tishrin Dam. It sits in the agricultural hinterland of Aleppo with one of the largest mills in the region, grinding some 500 tonnes of flour a day. Control over Manbij is a strategic prize for the Syrian revolution.

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