Thursday, March 24, 2011

Revolution spreading to the Levant?

The Levant is a particularly difficult area because of the persistent menace of Israel trying to grab land and security for its criminal colonial project. Excepting Lebanon, all the states there are anything but democratic: Israel is an apartheid colonial regime, Jordan is an absolute monarchy with token concessions to 19th century-style parliamentarism and Syria is a single-party autocracy. Even Lebanon, which has regular fair elections in which all citizens take part freely, carries the burden of a sectarian political system imposed by the former colonial power, France, that gives undue weight to certain groups over others but specially does not allow for a non-sectarian, secular democracy. 

It is no surprise therefore that only Lebanon has been mostly exempt from popular protests and, when these have happened, they have been part of the democratic normality. 

Instead, Palestine (ruled as Israel and bantustans with a pretense of self rule), is in the other extreme, entering a new highly volatile cycle of inter-ethnic civil war.

In between these two extremes: democratic Lebanon and apartheid Palestine (Israel), the situations of Jordan and Syria are more in the line of what is happening elsewhere in the region: an increase of protests, sometimes quelled violently, sometimes forcing reforms. However while Jordan is like the Botswana of the Middle East (a puppet of Israel and its Imperial allies), Syria is more like the states more actively engaged against racist South Africa: Angola, Zimbabwe and Mozambique specially. Their autocratic regimes can be questioned but still they keep the moral high stand by comparison with those practicing apartheid and genocide, Israel (the colonial racist regime in Palestine) in this case.

Latest developments in this troubled region are:
  • Palestine: Zionist armed forces and native militias have made more or less indiscriminate attacks in several locations in the last days, often killing children. Nonviolent resistance to the regime is active since long ago but mostly sidelined by the media.
  • Jordan: a protest camp has been set up in the capital Amman, including at least 500 unaffiliated protesters, mostly students or unemployed graduates. They have adopted the name March 24th Youth. Their main demands are an end to corruption and to rule by the secret police, as well as the resignation of the prime minister and change to electoral laws. 
  • Syria: most protests have been concentrated in the southern city of Daraa, brodering Jordan. Some 25 people have been killed by the repression after a historical mosque was stormed. The government claimed it was just an armed gang but the fact that it has caused the government to promise to consider quite radical reforms (legalization of political parties, end to state of emergency, active since 1964, and effective freedom of speech) is indicative that there is some serious unrest and that Damascus feels the need to move ahead of the demands of the people.
Approx. intensity of the Arab Revolution (green X indicate wars)

Update: In Defense of Marxism has a very informed article by Isa Al-Jaza'iri on what has been going on in Syria these last weeks, how the sole perception of what is happening elsewhere across the region has got spontaneous masses in the mood of not being bullied around by corrupt police officers or other authorities anymore. Worth a read.

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