Arab Spring

Syria's Revolution: bloodied but unbowed

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With the regime of Bashar Assad desperately trying to cling to power, the death toll has risen to 30,000 fighters since Syria's revolution began. Simon Assaf argues that the revolution remains popular, non-sectarian and led by Syrians themselves, despite the claims of some commentators

It is a bitter war that has engulfed Syria - one that has transformed the Arab world's most popular revolution into a struggle that can only end in the defeat of Bashar Assad's regime, or the death of the revolution, and with it any hope of change. At the heart of this revolution is the demand for an end to one-party rule, arbitrary detentions, repression, corruption and poverty. The revolution was born in the poor villages and spread to the vast working class areas of all the major cities.

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.

Resilient Revolutions: Bahrain and Yemen

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The Arab Spring is far from over. In the wake of controversy over the Formula One race, Dominic Kavakeb looks at the movement in Bahrain, while Mirfat Sulaiman considers the ongoing uprising in Yemen

"Sumood" is a common word in Bahrain at the moment. Literally translated it means "resistance", although its meaning is closer to the idea of refusing to give in or persevering through great difficulty.

This word isn't just a reference to the physical action of the Bahraini people it is about a mentality. It encapsulates the mindset that keeps this extraordinary population coming out onto the streets day after day, night after night, to face down repression and demand freedom.

An Arab 1848?

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In 1848 popular revolutions swept across Europe. The lessons from these events can help us to understand the revolutions in the Middle East today.

The sheer scale of the Arab revolutions has sent commentators searching through the historical record to find parallels to help make sense of events and guess where they might lead. Repeatedly they turn to the revolutions that swept Europe in 1848. It's not hard to see why.

Friend of the Palestinians?

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Miriyam Aouragh dismisses the claim that a revolution in Syria would be a disaster for the Palestinians

Syria lies at a very sensitive nexus in the Middle East. It borders Israel, a state that poses a very real threat to it. The country lacks it own natural resources, and is dependent on other states economically. US president George Bush described Syria as a "state sponsor of terrorism", and the regime sees itself as standing alone. So it looks to ally with other anti-US and anti-Israel movements, such as Palestinian Hamas and Hezbollah in Lebanon, in order to strengthen its position.

Revolution, sanctions and US imperialism

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Sarah Ensor and Mark L Thomas spoke to Tariq Ali who gives his take on the revolutions and rebellions in Tunisia, Egypt and Syria, the threat of war with Iran and US imperialism after Iraq

What is the balance sheet on Iraq for US imperialism? How far has US dominance been damaged?

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.

2012: the fire this time

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2011 will come to rank as a year of turmoil, upheaval and revolution alongside 1830, 1848, 1919-20, 1936, 1956, 1968 and 1989.

At its centre stand the Arab revolutions, with the year ending with new clashes between protesters and the ruling military council in Egypt, a strike wave in Yemen, continuing strikes and sit-ins in Tunisia, deepening protests against the Assad regime in Syria and a rash of strikes in Kuwait, suggesting that even the Gulf states may not be immune to revolt in 2012.

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.

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