Monthly Archives: November 2019

Iran

See also chronology December 2018 back to August 2014

1/12/19:

Guardian report on the movement in Shiraz

““Everyone took to the streets, I was really hopeful that things would change,” one of the recordings to Alinejad said. “For two days Shiraz was under the control of the people, but nothing bad happened. There was complete peace. It was such a great thing that people had the control over the city. I could see how the country would look like if we take power.””

This text, although coming from a ridiculously clichéed  Marxist-Leninist angle,  constantly repeating their mantra of the necessity of the vanguard party to seize state power, has some interesting facts about the movement of 1978-9

“On 8 September 1978 (Black Friday) troops killed thousands of demonstrators in Teheran. In reply, the workers went on strike. That strike was the spark which ignited the dynamite which had been building up all over the country. On 9 September 1978, the Teheran oil refinery workers issued the call to strike to express solidarity with the massacre on the previous day and against martial law. On the very next day the strike had spread like wildfire to Shiraz, Tahriz, Abdan and Isfahan. Refinery workers went on strike everywhere. The economic demands of the workers were rapidly transformed into political one: “Down with the Shah!”, “Down with Savak!”, “Marg Ber, American imperialism!” Then the Ahwaz oil workers went on strike, followed by non-oil workers in Khuzistan who joined the strike at the end of September. It was above all the movement of the oil workers—the so-called privileged section of the working class in Iran—that decisively undermined the regime. As the rhythm of the strike movement was intensified and prolonged its character also changed. Ever newer sections were being drawn into the struggle: workers from the public sector—teachers, doctors, hospital workers, clerks, postal workers, telephone and television, and employees from transport, railways, domestic airports and banks all joined the mainstream. White-collar workers with little or no experience of struggle were also drawn into the general movement. The strike of the Central Bank of Iran was particularly effective. This followed the burning of hundreds of banks by the enraged masses. When the bank clerks went on strike, they revealed that in the last three months $1,000 million had been spirited abroad by 178 members of the ruling elite, including the Shah’s relatives. Now busy making preparations for a comfortable exile, having sent his family abroad, the Shah had transferred $1,000 million to America (this was in addition to the $1,000 million or so which was held in banks in Bonn, Switzerland and other parts of the world). The Iranian treasury had been plundered by the autocracy and its watchdog, the hated Savak. The tidal wave of strikes paralysed the state machinery; the civil servants were on strike. But it was the magnificent 33 days oil workers’ strike that crippled almost everything. This fact alone showed the colossal power of the Iranian proletariat: a single strike of the oil workers caused the government losses of no less than $74 million a day in lost revenue. Oil workers cut the main artery of state revenues… Day to day there were continuous demonstrations and mass mobilisation which went far beyond the limits of ordinary life. The masses attacked the embassies of Britain and America and burned thousands of American flags. Effigies of US President Jimmy Carter and the Shah were hanged a thousand times over on every street corner of every Iranian city. The Shah came to symbolise both the hated existing order and the Savak’s bloody repression…

An article in the American magazine Newsweek commented on an angry mob which had gathered on Jaleh Square reacting against the imposition of martial law by shouting slogans against regime: “When they came close, the armed forces ordered the demonstrators to disperse but instead of retreating, the demonstrators disobeyed the order and went on to cross the warning line, slowly choking from teargas fumes, but unwilling to go back. Finally the troops raised their guns, firing bursts into the air, but even then the mob edged closer to the ranks of the troops. And the troops lowered their sight and, when the crowd kept coming, sprayed the demonstrators with round after round.”

… When thousands of mourners marched to the gate of Teheran’s Besheste Zahra cemetery shouting slogans against the Shah attacked an armoured car, a major came out and shouted: “We have no intention of killing you! You are our brothers!” and offered his weapon to the mob: “Here, take my gun and kill me if you wish!” The mourners cheered and shouted slogans of unity against regime. There were other such incidents. Several conscripts shot their officers or committed suicide on being ordered to open fire on demonstrations. On other side, many deserters and mutineers were executed by the Savak.

A US Army Officer interviewed in Newsweek said of the Iranian army: “I would not put a lot of faith in their reliability, we do not know where their breaking point would be.” An Iranian official was also quoted as saying: “The longer the Shah keeps his army on the streets, the greater the danger of contamination”… on many occasions when soldiers and junior officers refused to open fire on the demonstrators…

By the time Khomeini returned from his Parisian exile on the first of February 1979, the battle against the Shah was effectively over. The old state had already completely disintegrated and power lay in the streets, waiting for somebody to pick it up. Although the old cleric had played no real part in the Shah’s overthrow, there were people who were anxious to give him a leading role. Consequently, he was met by officers who promised him the support of the key units of the armed forces. The army elite was anxious to reassert control and “order”. All over the country desertions were occurring daily, and when Shah Pur Bakhtiar used the army police and the Imperial Guard against a mutiny of air force cadets, fighting erupted. Insurgency spread all over military units. One section of the National Front led by Mehdi Bazargan, Khomeini’s Militant Wing and some ultra-left groups (the Fedayeen and Mujahidin), joined with the insurgents. Within a short space of time they smashed much of the Shah’s war machine capturing weapons factories, military bases, television stations, prisons and the parliament. The top officer corps was paralysed. Shah Pur Bakhtiar went underground and Bazargan, whom Khomeini had declared prime minister, took over.

In the process of the revolutionary mass strikes, the working class organised the shuras (soviets) and other embryonic independent organs of power. These were similar to the workers’ soviets which first appeared during the mass strikes of the Russian Revolution of 1905…

…the potential for workers’ power was present…At their inception, however, all that the soviets are is extended strike committees. There were already elements of dual power in the situation. Management could not pursue its “normal” functions without the permission of the workers, and neither could the administration. Thus, representatives of the Isfahan Steel Mill had to negotiate with the railway workers requesting the latter to carry the coal they required from Kirman to keep the plant’s boilers heated. A similar agreement was reached between oil workers and the railway workers to carry the fuel necessary for domestic consumption when all other production was at a standstill. These were already the elements of a rudimentary form of working class social administration.[6]

In December and February, the people took control of a number of cities and towns, particularly in the Northern Azeri and Caspian Sea provinces, including Zanjan, Orumich, Salmas, Ardabil Maraghel and Ajabsheer. The very idea of the shuras came from the direct and immediate experience of the workers themselves. … Three days after the insurrection, on the 14 February 1979, Khomeini ordered all workers to return to work. But the resistance of the oil workers forced Khomeini to resort to threats: “Any disobedience from, and sabotage of, the provisional government will be regarded as opposition to the genuine Islamic revolution.”[7] Despite these threats, the movement continued unabated. In the very first month after the provisional government came to power in February at least some 50,000 workers went on strike. This industrial unrest was fuelled by the radical transformation in the workers’ consciousness that had occurred in the course of revolution and particularly after the insurrection. The workers demanded the payment of delayed wages and resisted lockouts and layoffs.

In a number of northern areas the people formed shuras in order to run their day-to-day affairs. For the same sort of administration, shuras were also formed after the insurrection the in air force—the shuras-e-home faram (councils of air force servicemen). These workers’ organisations and factory shuras which had sprang up after the revolution persisted for some time, fighting stubbornly for survival under difficult conditions…. As soon as the new state had consolidated itself, a national campaign of intimidation, harassment and terrorism began against the workers’ shuras. After the invasion of Kurdistan and the gradual restoration of the government’s policy of management from above, the elements of workers’ power in the factories were brutally suppressed. After this setback, there was a general downturn in the worker’s movement….”

More on the shuras of ’78-’79

28/11/19:

Movement involves at least 180 cities across the country, with at least 450 killed

27/11/19:

Interior ministry, invariably minimising extent of revolt, says that protesters destroyed at least 50 police and army centers, 140 government centers, 183 police vehicles, nine seminaries, 731 state-affiliated banks and 70 gas stations

24/11/19:

Iran, Tehran: students protest poor living conditions & massive security measures171 cities now involved in uprising

“Iran protests against fuel price hike continued in various cities on Saturday and Sunday, November 23 and 24, 2019, including in Tehran (Tehranpars district), Malard and Fardis in Karaj, southwest of Tehran, Urmia, Isfahan, Sirjan, Shiraz and the areas surrounding the Port of Mahshahr.”

Of course, if the Iranian organisations linked to on this page ever got to power on the backs of this uprising they’d obviously just be a more modern, perhaps subtler, version of the obnoxious mullahs.

More here

23/11/19:

Iran: clashes continue in Fardis, Orumiyeh, Shiraz, Quds, Saveh and Mahshahrcall for arms by the Anarchist Union of  Iran and Afghanistan

This call also says that they’ll fight with the largely bourgeois opposition parties (the ones that almost certainly have the arms or the means to get them), even though they must realise that they’ll be used as cannon fodder, that  the hierarchies of these organisations will  very much control who and how the arms are used, making sure that, should the revolution succeed, the anarchists, at best, will be speedily disarmed, if not shot, and the situation will become a modernised version of  capitalist misery.

22/11/19:

Iran: 165 cities now involved as death toll rises to 251

21/11/19:

Iran, Shiraz: movement forces state forces to retreatvideo of people attacking Revolutionary Guards base while chanting, “Mullahs get lost”youths build roadblocks in Isfahan, banks and admin buildings torched in TeheranInternet partially  back on; government was ready for this uprising

“On Wednesday, a number of state-run media outlets ran stories highlighting the damage the blackout was doing to Iran’s economy. Communications Minister Mohammad-Javad Azari-Jahromi was quoted as saying that online business transactions “have fallen by 90 percent” while Chamber of Commerce member Ali Kolahi said the blackout was impacting exports. “We have no idea where our shipments are,” he told conservative news agency ILNA… speeds were so slow that videos could not be uploaded…The process of cutting off access to the internet was one of the most complex ever tracked by NetBlocks, and one expert told VICE News earlier this week that the government would have been planning this move for a long time.  “In every round of domestic unrest they have experienced over the last decade, the Iranian government has done some evaluation of their strategies and their responsiveness and they have learned lessons” Sanam Vakil, a senior research fellow at London-based think tank Chatham House, told VICE News on Tuesday. “What we are seeing today is that they were prepared for these protests because we immediately saw the presence of law enforcement on Iranian streets, and the internet blackout was a signal that they were ready. One of Iran’s most prominent political activists close to the reformist faction, Abulfazl Ghadiani, issued a statement blaming Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has thrown his weight behind the gas increase policy and effectively shut the door to any reconsideration.”

144 towns effected (videos and links)

“The mayor of Shiraz, where clashes have been severe, said on Wednesday that transportation infrastructure in four of the city’s districts have been destroyed. The owner of a popular hypermarket, Refah, the Iranian equivalent of Walmart, said shops in three of its locations had been ransacked.”

More on the political manoeuverings and gambles behind the price hike

20/11/19:

Iran: somewhat economistic but informative report on the last 2 years of struggles

 

19/11/19:

Haiti: a report

Iran:  map of cities and towns involved in movement (124 so far) and torched government buildings (42 so far), and cities where protesters have been killed (27 so far)Some Iranian state propagandaTwitter feed

The twitter feed is for information only – lots of would-be rulers and their supporters waiting in the wings to swoop down should this movement succeed in ousting the current archaic form of capitalism there.

Youths torch 3 State Security Forces’ vehicles – report on other aspects of the day…More here

18/11/19:

Iran:  officer refusing orders to shoot protesters, kills 2 other officers who’d given him the order… and more

“…protests have spread to 107 cities in most of Iran’s provinces. The regime has killed at least 61 protesters… two IRGC commanders in Fajr Garrison in Shiraz were shot and killed by another officer when they ordered the IRGC to open fire on protesters…. Protesters set on fire the office of the Supreme Leader’s representative (a notorious mullah) in Sadra, a district of Shiraz…Iranian protesters torch security forces booth…Shiraz, south-central Iran – The city is falling into the hands of protesters. Members of the regime’s Majlis (parliament) are acknowledging that the situation is now a “crisis.”
I  should point out that the link is from  a usually disgusting (e.g. often pro-Trump) and invariably  bourgeois reformist organisation which , nevertheless, provides useful information (there’s also a leftist site here, though it seems to be updated almost invariably well after events have developed).

“Islamic Republic, say hello to your end.”

3 state “security” scum stabbed to deathIraqi Protesters Deliver Message of Solidarity to Iranian Counterpartsdozens  reported killedincluding 37 Kurds

17/11/19:

Iran: 100 cities & towns involved in protests

“The semiofficial Fars news agency, close to the Guard [ie the state’s version of events], put the total number of protesters at over 87,000, saying demonstrators ransacked some 100 banks and stores in the country…Iranian internet access saw disruptions and outages Friday night into Saturday, according to the group NetBlocks, which monitors worldwide internet access. By Saturday night, connectivity had fallen to just 7% of ordinary levels. It was mostly unchanged on Sunday. NetBlocks called it the most severe shutdown the group had tracked in any country “in terms of its technical complexity and breadth.” On Twitter, NetBlocks said the disruption constituted “a severe violation” of Iranians’ “basic rights and liberties.” The internet firm Oracle called it “the largest internet shutdown ever observed in Iran.”

A charred police station that was set ablaze by protesters in the central city of Isfahan on November 17, 2019.

Twitter used to  get round internet blackout …though it’s not clear how.

For some information about the struggles in Iran less than a year ago see this.

16/11/19:

Iran: cop killed, police station stormed in Kermanshah

“The attack on the police station in Kermanshah was not an isolated incident, as the protests sparked by a surprise gasoline price hike apparently grew increasingly violent. A footage obtained by RT Arabic shows a transport police headquarters in the city of Karaj, located just west of Tehran, burning, after it was supposedly stormed by violent protesters…the Iranian authorities said that one person was killed in the southeastern city of Sirjan. Sirjan’s acting Governor Mohammad Mahmoudabadi also told journalists that some violent elements within a largely “calm gathering” damaged public property, including fuel stations, sought access to a local oil company’s major fuel depots and even set them on fire.”

Brave woman unveils herself and gives speech attacking regime on bridge over motorwayAllah removed Central Bank of the Islamic Republic of Iran torched in Behbahan clashes spread to over a dozen towns and cities

“State news agency Irna said there were clashes with police when protesters attacked a fuel storage warehouse and tried to set fire to it. Several more people were injured. A protester also died in the city of Behbahan. Other cities were also affected including the capital, Tehran, Kermanshah, Isfahan, Tabriz, Karadj, Shiraz, Yazd, Boushehr and Sari. In several cities, dozens of angry motorists blocked roads by turning off car engines or abandoning vehicles in traffic. Videos posted online purportedly showed motorists in the capital, Tehran, stopping traffic on the Imam Ali Highway and chanting for the police to support them. Another clip shows what appeared to be a roadblock across the Tehran-Karaj motorway, hit by the season’s first heavy snowfall.”

Details of the fuel price rise and rationing here. More here

X writes: What were the Iranian theocrats thinking of? Their two areas of  greatest influence are already boiling with discontent over corruption  – of which Iran itself is also heavily freighted – and they think they  can get away with a snap austerity move without first conducting a  propaganda camaign to justify it (here of course the Americans, Saudis  and Israel always come in handy since they are almost aways doing  something that can be construed as provocative).

15/11/19:

Iran: clashes in 6 cities as Mullahs pour petrol on troubled waters

SamFanto was born, and then he lived a bit but never enough.

German army trains China’s PLA

German army trains China’s PLA

“Hong Kong activist Joshua Wong urged Germany on Sunday (Nov 17) to stop military training assistance to China after its troops appeared in the protest-hit Asian financial hub, a German daily reported. Speaking to the top-selling Bild newspaper, Wong said: “It makes me furious that the German Bundeswehr is apparently helping to train Chinese soldiers. Given the riots in Hong Kong, the defence ministry should have ended this programme long ago.”

Given that Joshua Wong’s main political stance is support for democracy and a desire to seek help for Hong Kong from Western states, he clearly has to denounce this complicity in order to give some semblance of coherence to show to those who would potentially vote for him. But as with Trump’s complicity with Beijing, and the UK cops helping the Hong Kong cops, seeking help from various states, democratic or otherwise, has no coherent basis whatsoever. But then Wong is a politician, so what can you expect?

Above: the Bundeswehr

Below: the PLA

Meanwhile, the Defence Ministers of China and the USA meet to develop “pragmatic cooperation”. “Chinese State Councilor and Minister of National Defense Wei Fenghe met the United States Secretary of Defense Mark Esper here Monday, with both sides reaching the consensus to deepen mutual trust so as to make bilateral military relations a stabilizer for the China-U.S. relationship, Chinese Defense Ministry Spokesperson Wu Qian said here on Monday. The meeting is “positive and constructive”, with both sides agreeing that “the China-U.S. military relationship is an important part of bilateral relations, and developing a healthy and stable bilateral military relationship would benefit not only China and the United States, but also regional and world peace and stability,” Wu said.” (18/11/19)

SamFanto was born, and then he lived a bit but never enough.

Lebanon

Lebanon

Originally published as part of the “Social Revolt in Iraq and Lebanon” post, now named “Social revolt in Iraq”

See this Crimethinc article for a long critical account of the situation (published 13/11/19)

Beirut, 21/10/19

“Mocking Lebanon’s political dynasties and handing-down of power from father to son, one protester held up a sign that read: “Electile dysfunction.” Others criticised the heavy-handed response of security forces on the first two days of protests, with one banner reading in English: “Don’t throw tear gas,  we can cry by ourselves.” – here

26/11/19:

A combination of the return of manipulated sectarian clashes and genuine conflict as movement seems to break with pacifism

25/11/19:

Beirut: clashes as demonstrators block main bridge

“Demonstrators want to see the entire ruling class gone from power…Supporters of Hezbollah and Amal waved the groups’ flags. Earlier, they had chanted: “Shia, Shia” and slogans in support of Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah. On the other side, demonstrators chanted: “Revolution, revolution”… fighting apparently broke out when Hezbollah and Amal supporters blamed other demonstrators for making offensive comments about Nasrallah…The ground was strewn with rocks. A motorcycle was set on fire.”

22/11/19:

Another interesting report on assemblies in Beirut

” We hope that through the revolution, we will be able to get back this property and turn it into public space for discussions and gatherings without security constraints or physical appearance concerns or class-based distinctions.”

Sure, the limitations of this take are pretty obvious, but…See entry for 15/11/19 for more information and comments.

19/11/19:

Twitter feed

Graffiti from Beirut:

Right side: “Iran on our mind”

Left side: “From Baghdad to Beirut.. One revolution that won’t die”

15/11/19:

Interesting Al Jazeera report about assemblies in private parking lots reserved normally for the rich

“These private parking lots lie in the heart of the upscale Beirut Central District run by a private corporation, Solidere, which has effectively transformed the heart of the Lebanese capital into an island for the rich. On any normal day, Solidere private security guards do not allow street vendors, let alone any sort of public political gathering or performance, in the manicured district. But now the security guards are nowhere to be seen as thousands flood the streets daily. It is not just the occupation of this “private” space by average citizens that is extraordinary, it is the unprecedented discussions and open public forums taking place under dozens of flimsy tarps. In one tent, a debate is raging over whether protesters should return to blocking highway traffic (as they had done in the first two weeks of the now month-old uprising), or whether children should be allowed to boycott schools and join the protests. “We are a war generation, we used to go to school under the bombs,” said one middle-aged woman, standing on the sidelines holding a microphone. “Our kids are learning the best civic education here, they are cleaning the streets, they are recycling, things they never learn in schools.” She then took aim at the minister of education, who called for schools to reopen after weeks of road closures. “We don’t have to listen to you minister, you have to listen to us now.” The crowd erupted in applause as one man shouted “Bravo, Bravo” clapping enthusiastically. …”We don’t need these Zuama [tribal chieftains],” she continued. “Not the Sunni, Shia, Druze or Christian ones, and I’m for blocking the road.”…New groups are organising in Lebanon, not around party ideology or sectarian dogma, but around everyday issues …”The people are the source of power today – not the ministers, not the members of parliament, not the zauma,” said another woman to applause…The calm discussions are suddenly drowned out by heated arguments in another tent. One man shouts, urging the protesters to retake the nearby downtown highway. “Is this a revolution or is it an activist movement?” a middle-aged man posed. “If this is a revolution, everything is allowed, there is no need for a discussion. We don’t have to ask for permission to occupy streets or attack ministries.” The moderator disagrees: “We are here to discuss tactics and all voices should be heard.”

Judging from some of my own experiences in France, this hints at  aspects of the problem of ideologies of horizontalism and direct democracy. Whilst a certain horizontal form is necessary in certain respects it can also just become a brake on putting ideas into action – endless discussions without consequence. Fetishised, horizontalism is a critique of dominant forms of organising without a critique of the content and aims of organising. But effective struggle needs to unite form and content – you can’t fight alienation by alienated means but you also can’t fight alienation with petrified content. The guy at the end of the above quote – “We don’t have to ask for permission to occupy streets or attack ministries.”  is essentially right – and if I was in his situation I’d have gone off and organised with those people who were in agreement with what I wanted to do rather than hang around to interminably try to convince others so as to get a majority. Descriptions of other discussions later on  in this article show  that there are lots of specialised activists, aiming to change the nature and image of the state without seriously confronting it (some of whom will become part of the future ruling class), very present in these discussions. But the moderator is also partly right – discussion is necessary to develop both the reasons for such actions and the tactics needed to carry them out, though given the fact that state spies may well be in the crowd a certain discretion would clearly be necessary.

Protestors ask “security” forces to spray them with water so they can have a shower

13/11/19:

Roads blocked again…

 President Michel Aoun told the nation in a televised address Nov. 12 that Lebanon will descend into a “catastrophe” if protesters do not return home and allow Lebanon to work normally again. Protesters, however, took to the country’s streets soon afterward, blocking roads with burning tires in various parts of Lebanon and marched toward the president’s Baabda Palace on Nov. 13. Security forces blocked demonstrators from reaching their destination, and closed the highway leading to the president’s residence….Amid gasoline shortages, limits on cash withdrawals at banks and threats to salaries and many critical imported goods, workers from a variety of industries in Lebanon had gone on strike prior to Aoun’s speech to protest a wide swath of issues related to the continuing economic crisis….Earlier in the day [Nov.11th], strikes took place as employees from Alfa and Touch, Lebanon’s two state-owned mobile network providers, demanded salary guarantees, and bank employees left work to protest after some workers were exposed to violent threats after bank branches limited the amounts of money consumers could withdraw. A general strike called for Nov. 12 also included roadblocks across the country, and marches by students to state institutions after schools had been closed.”

after first fatality directly linked to movement the previous day 

On Wednesday, protesters blocked major highways with burning tires and other debris, saying they will remain in the streets despite the president’s appeal for them to leave. Schools and universities were closed and banks remained shuttered…Highways linking Beirut with southern and northern Lebanon as well as other roads in major cities and towns were also closed on Wednesday. In Nahr al-Kalb north of Beirut, protesters closed a tunnel by parking their cars inside it while a nearby highway was filled with debris. In Khaldeh, on Beirut’s southern entrance, tires were set on fire and sand barriers closed a vital highway. Black smoke billowed from several locations in and around the city on Wednesday. Near the country’s only international airport, travelers were seen dragging suitcases as they continued on foot to the airport, after protesters blocked the highway. The place where the first fatality in the protests, Alaa Abou Fakher, was shot in the Khaldeh area was decorated with roses and a Lebanese flag was placed nearby. He was the first to be killed in direct shooting related to the protests, though there have been four other deaths since the demonstrations began.”

7/11/19:

Informative detailed history and analysis of current situation written by an academic

“The Lebanese people started their protests against the entire ruling class. These include militia leaders Walid Jumblat, leader of the Progressive Socialist Party, formerly a client of the Syrian regime and since 2005 a client of Saudi Arabia and the U.S.; and Samir Ja`ja`, leader of the Lebanese Forces party, which started as an Israeli surrogate militia responsible for the worst war crimes of the civil war and is now aligned with the Saudi regime. Others include the financial moguls of the militias: Najib Miqati, a billionaire from Tripoli who made his fortune in Syria and Lebanon from telecommunication monopolies and Muhammad Safadi, a billionaire member of parliament from Tripoli with Saudi connections.  Displays of lavish lifestyle by members of the ruling class — who celebrate million-dollar weddings in the south of France and flaunt their private jets, yachts and mansions (in Lebanon and abroad) — have recently deepened the anger of people living paycheck-to-paycheck.   The resentment of the populace was so wide that for a while it suppressed the sectarian divisions that has long plagued the Lebanese people (and the rulers often stoked those tensions in order to suppress class resentment and mobilization across sects)…The infiltration by the mass base of traditional political bosses loyal to the Saudi regime into the demonstrations (especially the bases of Jumblat and Ja`ja`) may have been intended as a way to divert the protests in a direction favorable to the U.S.-Israel-Saudi alliance.  It is up to the protesters to stay vigilant and exclude from their ranks those whose only wish is to protect the ruling class and its interests.”

29/10/19:

Central Bank Governor says that Lebanon just days away from collapse of economy

“Today there is no economic activity in the country,” said Salame. “Imports are getting difficult to channel because the banks are closed, and opening letter of credits is more difficult than it was before.” The governor, who has held office since 1993, also warned that the country risks defaulting on its ballooning debt. Lebanon has one of the highest debt-to-GDP ratios in the world.” In a world dominated by money, particularly in the currrent form of neoliberal capitalism dominated by finance and fictive capital, it’s invariably those at the bottom of the hierarchy that pay for an economic collapse. Without a movement that goes further by seizing the total social product in order to redistribute what’s useful and necessary whilst destroying what’s useless oamongst the products of this “wealth”, the masses of individuals are trapped by an abstraction that’s materialised in the form of the need for money.  Until they go further and block not only the roads but seize all of social space and  try to connect directly to international movements, it’s like smashing Dr.Frankenstein’s science lab  without attacking the monster itself. Without such an aim, an aim which was at least understood by a significant section of the working class over 100 years ago, movements will almost always try to find a “good government” which turns out to be just as bad as the last.

28/10/19:

Demonstrators barricade roads

“Lebanese demonstrators set up barricades and parked cars across key roads on Monday to protest corruption and press their demands for a radical overhaul of the political system. The protesters defied pleas from top leaders and sought to keep Lebanon on lockdown for the 12th consecutive day by cutting off some of the main thoroughfares, including the main north-south highway”

25/10/19:

Protests resume in all cities and villages; banks & schools closeHezbollah tries to intervene against protesters (more on this here)

20/10/19:

Government reforms fail to dampen movement

“Euphoric crowds partied deep into the night Sunday, leaving political and sectarian paraphernalia at home to gather under the cedar-stamped national flag, dance to impromptu concerts and chant often hilarious anti-establishment slogans.They were back in front of the houses of government and on the main Martyrs’ Square on Monday to listen to Hariri’s announcement, which was broadcast on loudspeakers. The crowd erupted into shouts of “revolution, revolution” when Hariri finished his address. “We want the fall of the regime,” they went on. “This is all just smoke and mirrors… How do we know these reforms will be implemented?” asked Chantal, a 40-year-old who joined the protest with her little daughter and a Lebanese flag painted on her cheek…Hariri detailed some of the measures taken by his fractious cabinet, including a programme of privatisations, a decision to scrap new tax hikes and halving the generous salaries of ministers and lawmakers….Schools, banks, universities and many private businesses closed their doors Monday, both for security reasons and in an apparent bid to encourage people to join the demonstrations.”

Al Jazeera take on this

“There are a few key ways in which these latest protests differ from those in 2005 and 2015. As in 2015, but unlike in 2005, they are part of a genuine grassroots movement that has not been directed by any political party. They are cross-sectarian in a broader sense than those of 2015. They are taking place across Lebanon, rather than only in Beirut. And they are demanding the fall of the government from the outset, while criticising political leaders from every sect. Although the number of people on the streets was much higher in 2005, the current protests are much larger than those of 2015. They are also taking place in regions where such public action used to be considered impossible, particularly in southern Lebanon where people from the Shia community have been publicly denouncing traditional Shia leaders, including Nasrallah. The government’s response to the current protests has been its usual carrot-and-stick approach: walking back on proposals to increase taxes while cracking down on the protests through violence. Neither has deterred the protesters, who have vowed to stay on the streets until the government falls. For the first time, people are demanding accountability from the leaders of their own sects as well as from the government at large, and protesters in Sunni strongholds like Tripoli are expressing solidarity with protesters in Shia strongholds like Tyr. Civil society groups involved in the protests are also devising tactics to counter the violence and facilitate mobilisation (one group offered free scooter rides to protest sites) and creating a reform roadmap for the Lebanese state. For the first time, the protests are a condemnation of the political status quo that has, since even before Lebanon’s 15-year civil war, been largely recycling the same faces (or their relatives and descendants) in parliament, the cabinet and high-level positions in the civil service and military… The protests have only been taking place for a few days but the protesters already show a growing awareness not only of the governmental tactics typically used to try to diffuse popular movements but of their own needs as citizens, regardless of class or sect. This alone is a revolution in a country where the political system is, for the most part, a modern version of feudalism. “

 

19/10/19:

More mass demonstrations

“The people want the fall of power!”,  “Revolution! Revolution!” There were tens of thousands of Lebanese in the streets across the country Saturday, for a third day of mobilization against the political class accused of corruption, an unprecedented movement since a long time in Lebanon. Despite … heavy intervention by the police on  Friday night and dozens of arrests, the ranks of protesters have continued to grow, especially in… Beirut and Tripoli, the second largest city in the country. Saturday, during the day and even in the evening, unlike the two previous nights of clashes between rioters and police, the Lebanese were gathered in a good-natured atmosphere. Only a small clash between protesters in front of the mosque al-Amine was reported late evening…gatherings also took place in Akkar, where clashes with the security forces left three wounded, and in Zghorta in North Lebanon, Baalbeck in the Bekaa, Jal el-Dib in the Metn but also in Zouk in Kesrouan. Several roads were blocked by barricades of burning  tires and dumpsters erected by protesters . In the morning, the army reopened highways, while volunteers cleared the city center which yesterday had been turned  into a battlefield. Many shop fronts were destroyed, some were burned, dumpsters and burnt tires littered the ground….”They must leave, all of them” In front of the mosque al-Amine, young people were gathered during the day, they brandished a banner. “My message is our banner, they must leave, we want our children to have a future, we do not believe in their promises, we will stay until they leave,” says Roula…Some politicians were enormously insulted, and in the crudest terms, by the protesters. Essentially Gebran Bassil, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Head of the CPL, as well as Speaker of Parliament and Chief Amal, Nabih Berry. The wife of Berry was also the recipient of  unflattering slogans … Though Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Hezbollah, was also targeted, the slogans were not so  massively taken up

18/10/19:

Massive clashes  in Beirut (videos and links)

17/10/19:

Lebanon: clashes on anti-austerity demonstrations throughout country 

“Protesters in the capital blocked the road to the airport with burning tyres, prompting a heavy deployment by security forces. Near government headquarters in central Beirut, violent confrontations broke out between protesters and security forces as demonstrators tried to storm the building. Security forces fired tear gas to disperse protesters, after the Internal Security Forces (ISF) said clashes wounded 40 of its members. Protesters also sparked a large blaze near the Mohammad al-Amin mosque in Downtown Beirut…Besides the capital Beirut, protests erupted in the southern city of Sidon, the northern city of Tripoli and the Bekaa Valley, before spreading to other areas..Telecommunications Minister Mohammad Choucair said that the government had reversed its decision to tax calls on messaging apps following the unrest.”

SamFanto was born, and then he lived a bit but never enough.