Lebanon

Lebanon's October revolution

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Mass protests and strikes in Lebanon have already toppled the prime minister, but they must go further, writes Simon Assaf.

This was never supposed to happen. A country riddled with sectarian divisions, facing a deeply embedded ruling class at ease using violence, threats and patronage to keep the people in place.

But now an unprecedented movement for change is sweeping Lebanon, with some one in four of the population taking part in the demonstrations, street occupations and strikes — numbers surpassing anything in the country’s history. There is a popular saying that “Hunger is an infidel that does not abide by public morals”.

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.

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.

Hezbollah's sectarian turn

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Simon Assaf examines the trajectory of Hebollah since 2006 that has led to their support of Assad in Syria

A party once lauded for its resistance to Israel is fast becoming a pariah in the Arab world. Hezbollah (The Party of God) is now openly derided as Hizb al-shaytan (Party of the Devil). Sunni Muslim preachers who once declared their support for it now call for holy war against it. Shia Muslims are now the victims of shocking violence and sectarianism.

The transformation of Hezbollah from the "heroes of resistance" into a sectarian party siding with a brutal civil war in Syria is rooted in its dependence on outside powers.

Letter from Lebanon

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What are the forces in this month's election and what are the prospects for the left? Bassem Chit reports

The elections in Lebanon have always been a peculiar affair involving electoral alliances between sectarian parties. But the elections on 7 June have international resonance. For the first time in Lebanon's history the opposition movement headed by Hizbollah could form the next government.

Letter from Lebanon

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Recent events exposed the weakness of the US-backed government and both the strength and limitations of the Hezbollah-led opposition, argues Bassem Chit.

Lebanon's 14 March coalition government has been an ally of US and European imperialism since it took power in 2005. The coalition capitalised on popular resentment against Syria's 29-year occupation to push for a neoliberal, pro-imperialist agenda. The government increased the role of "domestic intelligence" agencies in coordination with the US, and formed an armed militia under the guise of private security companies. They hoped that these security companies would become powerful enough to match Hezbollah. So the government could wage Israel and the US's war on the resistance.

Uniting struggles

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The World Against War conference in London last month united activists from around the world. Ibraham Mousawi, editor of Hezbollah's Alintiqad weekly newspaper, spoke to Patrick Ward about media myths and uniting against imperialism.

During the war last year the media portrayed the resistance as "terrorist", and Hezbollah a "terrorist organisation". What do you think about that?

Letter from Lebanon

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On 14 April this year Lebanese campaigners launched the people's tribunal to investigate the disappearances and massacres committed during Lebanon's 1975-90 civil war.

The tribunal is set to coincide with one launched by the United Nations into the assassination of former prime minister Rafiq Hariri. Campaigners are demanding that the deaths of all Lebanese and Palestinians be investigated, not just that of a billionaire politician.

Farah Koubaissy is one of the organisers. She writes from Lebanon on the long running campaign for justice.

On 14 April this year we launched the people's tribunal under the slogan "Yes to the annulment of the amnesty law - Justice for the Victims".

Letter from Lebanon

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People could be forgiven for thinking the recent fighting in Lebanon is due to clashes between fanatics. But, as Ayman Wehbe reports, it is part of the wider imperialist battle for the Middle East.

At first there might not seem to be a strong connection between the Lebanese Army's siege of a Palestinian refugee camp in north Lebanon and the US failure in Iraq. Yet they are both the result of a US strategy which tries to manage other setbacks across the Middle East. Secretary of state Condoleezza Rice described it as "constructive instability".

The neocons believe that by spreading "instability" they will regain control of events, or at least shape the chaos in their favour.

New Friends, Old Enemies

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We should welcome new supporters of the Stop the War Coalition who have learnt that they were wrong through bitter experience.

There are times when what was bearable suddenly becomes unbearable. The war on Lebanon was one of those.

Suddenly Labour MPs, councillors and party members, who accepted and even applauded Tony Blair's dogged devotion to George Bush's foreign policy and the war on terror, could stand no more. The blockade and bombing of Lebanon, the destruction of homes, schools, roads and petrol stations, and most of all the deaths of more than 1,000 Lebanese civilians, led to calls for an immediate ceasefire.

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