The Middle East is bleeding and it seems, it now becomes evident more than ever why the folks who bravely said “I am not Charlie” in the aftermath of Charli Hebdu tragedy were completely right.
When the imperialist powers are trying to reshape the Middle-Eastern geography in a top-to-bottom approach and causing wide sections of the population to pay a heavy price for this, the necessity of understanding of the lineages of revolt as Adam Hanieh put it in his extraordinary book on the issues of contemporary capitalism and the need to reinforce the voice of anti- capitalist forces in the region feels more than ever. Thus, taking a look at recent statement of a number of Iranian leftists within Iran and diaspora regarding Kobani’s upheaval and the MENA region might give us a better understating of the forces around us.
When one can barely find anything but “Iran deal as a break through” versus Nanatiaho’s brawl and Republicans I the US in the western mainstream media. Though apparently the fixers of the Islamic Republic and the so-called international community have the upper hand and understanding of the gist of recent upheavals might all boils down to what Hamid Dabashi put it earlier Obama doctrine and smart power.
Iran deal beyond the Hollywood version of the western MSM
When it comes to one the most geopolitical countries of the region, the heated debate of the mainstream and semi “progressive” ones in the West has only been revolving around “a historic breakthrough”. Predictably, the recent deal between the six world capitalist powers and Iran has been hailed as an “historic breakthrough”, a “significant accomplishment” by most leading politicians, editorialists and columnists.
Putting the insolent tone of the West, particularly the policeman of the world in the White House aside, as it has been pointed out by some independent political observers that Iran has committed to carry out its responsibilities and that the P5+1 countries and the European Union have committed only to suspend, not end, their brutal sanctions . Economist celebrated this victory and a number of mainstream pundits and correspondents flooded to “Vienna talk” earlier, keep playing with their “sexy” subject called #irantalkviena in the social network websites. Hence, the Hollywood anecdotal of “moderate versus hardliner” overshadowing the historic sell out and the inevitable transmutation of the ruling theocracy which has been striving to become a respected member of the so-called international community.
Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu now pathetically being upstaged by the banality of pro-Obama U.S. think tanks, their Persian pundit factotums, and assorted Islamic Republic "experts" on the air. Meanwhile, the menace approach of the West and its mainstream media using the fabricated issue such as ‘the Iranian nuclear crisis’ and the tragic inability of an undemocratic system with its well-worn slogan of ‘down with USA” persists. However, no one can gainsay the fact that seeing implementation and installing of a full version of neo-liberal capitalism in Iran is not going to come into effect through “humanitarian intervention” from the military kind to the other kind of wars like the ongoing brutal sanctions as a strong-arm tactics of “the international community” is a satisfaction.
Another phase of neoliberalism in Iran
Despite hanging between the public and private sector and the fact that Iran’s economy is increasingly controlled by corrupt oligarchies, Iran's Neoliberal Austerity-Security Budget is of course something one can barely read about amidst the ongoing hue and cry, instead waiting for the sanctions to be lifted, oil income to increase or foreign investment to arrive is the thing one can hear about every day.
As a matter of fact, the new phase of neoliberalism in Iran has a palpable consequence on the ordinary Iranian. As I wrote earlier, in Iran, the greed of the emergent bureaucratic Iranian bourgeoisie is at the root of efforts aimed at privatizing Social Security. Nevertheless, the very question might be about the ramifications of the ongoing privatization and economic liberalization for the ordinary people in Iran is something which needs to be answered. There are many evidences across the globe.
The neoliberal prescriptions that are portrayed as enabling the less-developed countries to harness “benevolent dynamics” of capitalism include: tax breaks for the wealthy and/or big business; privatization of public sector assets, enterprises and services; undermining labor unions and minimizing workers’ wages and benefits; eliminating or diluting environmental and workplace safety standards; deregulating markets; opening of the domestic market to unrestricted foreign investment/trade; and the like. They are all part of this package, the ramifications of IMF’s policy in the south.
As we all know, commodification is the essence of our time and under advanced capitalism, commodification expands into all corners of social and political life, with devastating consequences. Commodification of the various areas of social life in Iran today like the commodification of medical and health care and also education might be consider as another positive signal to the so-called international community. The violation of the real notion of human rights apart from the ruling mainstream discourse. At the same time the grassroots activities regarding Harvey’s “Right to the City” and ongoing gentrification of urban areas in Iran by a number of leftists , particularly the young generation in the non-profit organizations like “baahamestan”(the new Persian word for “community”) is like a ray of hope that Iran can cure itself of the rat poisons.
The fears and hopes
Although one cannot see any ‘positive point with implementing Structural Adjustment Programs (SAP) advanced by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), it’s not the whole story in Iran today. For one who wants to see things in a dialectical way of thinking, one has to put it into perspective. Hence, on the contrary to what the Economist’s cover has lately announced ‘The revolution is over’, the dynamic of the incomplete 1979 Revolution is something one has to take it into account. As a matter of fact, the core of the Islamic Republic has been striving for this transition, if it happens, given the different factors one cannot guarantee about the outcome, and if they can make it, the transition of Iran to become a next to ‘standard’ capitalist country and a ‘respected’ member of the so-called international community might also provide a room for mobilization and further struggle. However, in light of the lassitude of an unattached opposition, inevitable failure of the ruling theocracy in Iran might also going to become an unmitigated tragedy. Needless to say that creating jobs and things like this can also be part of the midterm perspective and also greater social freedoms and getting away with the military threat against Iran. However continuing these imperialist sanctions as a foreign policy tool is itself as an act of war.
From Iran to Kobani
Nevertheless, the very question, where the Iranian left or more appropriately Marxist forces stand during the harmonic orchestra of the core of the Islamic Republic and its pro-West neoliberal opposition of all kind, still remains in the same place. Putting aside the fact that in Iran, 7% of the population are Kurds, the activity of Marxist forces in Iran has made the current crisis in Kobani a sensitive issue in social, political and military circles in Iran today. Along the similar lines, a demonstration was held in front of the United Nations’ office on Shahrzad’s Boulevard in Tehran some months ago and estimates that about 1,000 people were present.
These demonstrations are usually organized either by activists with Marxist tendencies or by the Kurdish activists who live in Tehran. Yet again, Suruc attack, one of the deadliest terrorist attacks to rock Turkey in years which has targeted members of the Socialist Party of the Oppressed (ESP) Youth Wing, the Socialist Youth Associations Federation (SGDF), which was giving a press statement on the reconstruction of the Syrian town of Kobanî when the bombing took place, created another space to hear the voice of their Iranian counterparts.
Once again "Socialism or Barbarism"
"Comrades! The terrorist attack of 20th July to the gathering of the Federation of Young Socialists at the Cultural Centre of Arama in the border city of Suruç, in Turkey, in which 32 people of our comrades, who were to be sent off on the mission of reconstructing Canton in Kobanî, were brutally killed, once again, with all its clarity and manifestation, revealed the irreconcilable conflict between ISIS's barbarism and the socialist alternative of Kobanî."
As noted in the recent statement, signed by a number of Iranian leftist activists, writers, journalists, students, and academics in Iran and the diaspora, titled "A letter from Iran to Kobanî resistance forces, the Federation of Young Socialists, the members of People’s Democratic Party, and all other activists of the path of socialism and democracy." The Iranian left activists say “It is now crystal-clear that the present situation in the Middle East, chained to war and madness, is the harbinger of an age in which the question of "socialism or barbarism" carries an all the more clearer and unprecedented significance.
There is no coincidence that among the superpower states of the middle east which are, as it were, swollen by the incomes of oil export each of which, in a way, manifestly indicating the tension-free harmony of capitalism and undemocratic regimes, it has been the Kobanî canton - and that of Jazira canton and Afrin - that, along with an attempt to vehemently resist against the bestial monster of ISIS, have set forth a genuine alternative. Not only against this terrorist state of ISIS, but also against all other states of the region. As far as the canton ceremony is concerned, we are doubtlessly witnessing successful examples of direct democracy, cooperative autonomy and self-governing, just solidarity, and socialist secular democracy, which literally suggest no less than a complete detachment from the despotic heritage of the powers of the region - from an anemic parliamentarianism with its dictated democracy or discriminative identity-seeking to tribal militarist-theocratic capitalisms.
The humble light arrows that ascend from the depths of darkness of the days and nights of the middle east, crippled by demise and anarchy, are enlivened and become enduring with the aid and endeavor of all our comrades in Kobanî, Afrin, Jazira, Diyarbakır, Istanbul, Ankara, and, of course, by the egalitarian and liberating sacrifices of our other comrades in other countries of middle east.”
Erdoğan's administration is trying to kill a number of birds with one stone
This statement is published at a historic moment when those who are victims of globalization at large, the unemployed, workers, farmers and agricultural producers, pensioners, women and young people, LGBTQ folks and all those struggling for democracy, peace, ecology and freedoms are encountering the same problems and expressing the same demands. This is why this statement is of great importance in furthering the solidarity and developing the common struggle between the forces of democracy and labor in the region and within the Middle Eastern Left.
The statement argues that Turkey's state - which has now and thanks to the mulishness of its so-far-surviving Party of Justice and Development turned into a bizarre juxtaposition of nationalistic Ottomanism, political Islamism, and neoliberal economy - has been long playing but a reactionary role both in Turkey and throughout the region.
“In response to the recent terrorist attack, Erdoğan's administration is trying to kill a number of birds with one stone: repairing its global image stained by cooperation with ISIS through self-victimization and launching a seeming assault to ISIS, and attempting to bring the formation of a coalitional government into impasse by implementing a premature parliament election, and, in parallel to all this, making an attempt to strengthen its weakened position in Turkey by the use of the nationalistic clichés and retrieving the considerable vote-loss in favor of its related party in order to compensate its recent political defeat by means of stirring PKK into an armed reaction against its recent actions and abandoning the peace strategy so that PKK appears as a threat against the national security of Turkey and an untrustworthy counterpart for political compromise through which it gets to win the sympathy of the Turkish nationalists who are against making any deal with PKK and thus providing the ground for the political suppression of PKK members and the other opposition members and ultimately all the leftist opposition forces, above all, the "Democratic Party of the People."
They are also after penetrating into the north of Syria under the pretext of fighting with ISIS, which in turns weakens the position of the democratic coalition, getting to control its moves in the region and, most importantly, preventing the triple cantons to join each other. In this regard, the emphasis placed by the Democratic Party of People and the other leftist forces on maintaining the peace pact - despite the unilateral truce role played by Turkey's state - and their avoidance of falling pray into military retaliation and their resistance against the temptation to parliamentarian cooperation in the area of national politics while remaining loyal to their own principles, their progressive political agenda and position and their attempt to strengthen solidarity with the social movements and to continue to rely on the organization of the masses and turning the blame against the Party of Justice and Development, has all together, even to this point, succeeded in taking a vital step in revealing the vicious agenda of Erdoğan's administration for tilting the balance of the political power in Turkey.”
The belief in the idea of internationalism: Take an oath of solidarity to stand with you
The statement then has stipulated” The belief in the idea of internationalism is essentially and despite the rise of all sorts of ethnical regional reactionary identity-seeking in the Middle East can only be attained through strengthening regional solidarities and attracting all those people who, regardless of the particular national interests, have passionately invested on human values.
That is why we, as a number of freedom-seekers and egalitarianists of Iran, reach hands to you from across the national borders that have separated us from each other and take an oath of solidarity to stand with you. In a battle that you have started with your political will and determination against ISIS's barbarianism, in one side, and Turkey’s state's hypocrisies, in the other, we are your companion and our hearts are with you.
It is true that we did not stand by you, shoulder to shoulder, in the demonstration and assemblies that you have called for in 26th of July, in Istanbul; yet we hope that you felt our deep sympathy with your aim. There is no doubt that, these days, the hope for a better future for the entire Middle East is only rendering itself possible through your united bodies and determined visages.”
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