World Perspectives 2016: Chapter IV.2. Counterrevolutionary Offensive: The Retreat of the Arab Revolution Continues Despite Heroic Popular Struggles

69.          The RCIT has analyzed the state of the Arab Revolution in a number of documents in the past seven months. [1] Here we will summarize only the most important conclusions. The retreat of the Arab Revolution, which we noted in 2013, continues. In fact, today the danger of its final defeat is bigger than ever before. The petty-bourgeois left-liberals, the reformists and the Islamists have led the revolutionary upheavals into a cul-de-sac. As a result, in most cases the Arab dictatorships were either able to retain power (Syria except the liberated areas, Bahrain, Algeria, Morocco, the other Gulf monarchies) or the ruling elite managed return power to itself via a coup d’état (Egypt) or “democratic” elections (Tunisia). Currently, the imperialist Great Powers are aggressively intervening – particularly in Syria – in order to increase their respective spheres of influence while at the same time liquidating the revolutionary process. In short, the Arab Revolution faces the sword of Damocles as the Great Powers and their local flunkies continuously try to strangle it by supporting old and new dictatorships, as well as by means of foreign military intervention.


70.          However, it is by no means inevitable that the Arab Revolution will end in defeat. In fact, the new uprising of the Tunisian workers and youth completely refutes the idiotic claims of many reformists and centrists that the Arab Revolution had ended in defeat, or that it had been the product of a conspiracy by Western imperialists. The popular rebellion in Syria is continuing despite all obstacles, the Yemeni people are fighting heroically against the Saudi invasion, the Egypt workers and youth continue to take to the streets fighting for freedom and the Palestinian youth is determined to launch the Third Intifada! And if the recent mass uprising in Tunisia continues, it has the potential of not only stemming the counterrevolution which the country experienced in recent years and advancing the previously unfinished democratic revolution which set in motion the wave of Arab revolutions. But in doing so it could also revitalize the Syrian Revolution against Bashar al-Assad, strengthen the mass resistance in Egypt against the dictatorship of General al-Sisi, set an example for and give support to the Palestinian liberation struggle against the Zionist state, and inspire the Yemeni war of liberation against the foreign invasion by the Al-Saud gang. In addition, a successful mass uprising in Tunisia would invaluably advance the struggle against the reactionary sectarianism promoted by reactionary forces like the Salafi-Takfiri Daash. Finally, it would also strengthen working class and democratic forces in Europe, encouraging them to fight back against the counterrevolutionary wave of racism and state repression which is currently being waged by various conservative and social democratic governments with both tacit and open assistance and support by semi-fascistic forces.


71.          The importance of the Arab Revolution goes far beyond the borders of the region. As we have stated repeatedly, (a) the Arab Revolution has constituted the most advanced phase of the revolutionary process in the historic period since 2008; (b) it directly effects the political conditions for class struggle in Europe because of the wave of refugees; [2] (c) it is the main target (together with Afghanistan) of the military intervention of the imperialists; and (d) it has become the arena for the open display of the rivalry between the Great Powers.


72.          The Syrian Revolution – despite facing huge threats – continues to live and struggle and, hence, deserves more than ever the solidarity of the international workers’ movement. It remains the forward post of the Arab Revolution. The revolutionary struggle finds its expression in numerous local resistance committees and militias, as well as in larger armed rebel factions under petty-bourgeois-nationalist leaderships (Islamists and secular). The Revolution basically faces the following threats: (a) an intensified military offensive by the Assad forces with the massive support of the Russian air force and ground troops of Iran and the Hezbollah; (b) the Great Powers military intervention, as well as their conspiracy to enforce a negotiated settlement (the negotiation process in Vienna); (c) the continuous attacks by the arch-reactionary Daesh forces; and (d) the possible betrayal of rebel leadership groups which the Western Powers, Saudi-Arabia and Qatar try to bribe and push to capitulate. The RCIT repeats: if the Great Powers succeed in their plans, this would be a major blow to the Arab Revolution in general and the Syrian Revolution in particular. The Bolshevik-Communists therefore call revolutionaries as well as workers and migrant organization around the world to rally in solidarity with the Syrian popular masses fighting against the Assad dictatorship as well as against the intervention of the Great Powers.


73.          In Yemen the popular masses continue their heroic resistance against the invasion by Saudi forces and their proxies, all supported by Western imperialist powers as well as by the other Arab monarchies and dictatorships. Naturally, the Saudi aggressors are superior in terms of military technology, their air force, their ability to implement a naval blockade, etc., and it is therefore hardly surprising that they have been able to make some advances in the South. However, despite their vast military superiority, the Saudi forces have not managed to come anywhere near the capital Sana'a or the city of Saada. At the same time, Yemeni revolutionaries are fighting for the workers and popular independence from petty-bourgeois Islamist forces like the Houthis who currently constitute the leadership of the national resistance. The RCIT send its greetings to the Yemeni revolutionaries participating in the difficult task of national liberation while combining it with the struggle for a socialist program.


74.          Two and a half years after the reactionary coup d’état of General Sisi, the dire situation in Egypt unfortunately confirms our characterization at that time: the coup was a huge blow for the working class and popular struggle in Egypt and constituted a strategic defeat. It established a brutal, pro-imperialist dictatorship, a kind of "Mubarakism without Mubarak". [3] Thousands have been murdered and tens of thousands are rotting in prison. In Egypt the unfinished democratic revolution has turned into an unfinished despotic counterrevolution. The leadership of the Muslim Brotherhood has been deeply split since then and, due to its bourgeois limitations, is incapable of offering a perspective for the militant youth. Unsurprisingly, the so-called left in Egypt does not show any sign that it has learned anything from its betrayal of the democratic revolution at the time of the coup and in its wake. However there are huge sectors of vanguard fighters – particularly amongst the youth – who are continuing the resistance and who are eager to learn lessons from the past. There has also been a rise of workers strikes and demonstrations last year. There was also an increase of worker strikes and demonstrations last year. According to Democracy Meter, an NGO that monitors the Egyptian labour movement, 1,117 labor protests took place in 2015 – an average of around three a day. [4] Revolutionaries in Egypt should intervene in this process and offer an alternative to the Islamist-Guerillaist cul-de-sac, an alternative which focuses on the programmatic clarification and propaganda as well as combining open and clandestine work among the working class and the urban poor.


75.          In Libya the civil war continues between the arch-reactionary camp of General Haftar (based in Tobruk) and the bourgeois Islamist forces called Fajr Libya (“Libyan Dawn”, based in Tripolis). Haftar’s pseudo-government is built on the remnants of what remains of Gaddafi’s state apparatus and receives support from the Western imperialists as well as from General Sisi and the Gulf monarchies. The Tripoli government represents many rebels who oppose both the Western imperialist intervention and the continuing influence of the ex-Gaddafi forces in the state apparatus. After the Haftar forces proved incapable of defeating the Islamists, the Western powers are now trying to pressure both sides into ending the civil war via a negotiated compromise solution. If this pressure fails to satisfy the imperialist interests, a military intervention by the EU is not out of the question. Socialists should support the struggle against the Haftar forces as well as against the reactionary Salafist-Takfiri Daash which has built a small base around Sirte, the home town of the Gaddafi clan. In the event of an imperialist military intervention, revolutionaries should call for the defeat of the European invaders and support those forces that are resisting the aggressors. At the same time it is crucial to advance the formation of militant trade unions and an independent working class party.


76.          In Tunisia the unfinished democratic revolution has turned, with the election of the pro-imperialist, bourgeois Nidaa Tounes government in late 2014, into an unfinished democratic counterrevolution. Nidaa Tounes represents primarily the old guard of the Ben Ali dictatorship which is acting as loyal servants of the imperialist Great Powers. However, the most recent, spontaneous workers’ and youth uprisings of January 2016 could dramatically change the situation and open a new phase. [5] Revolutionaries in Tunisia are supporting workers and youth to reorganize the struggle against unemployment, for higher wages and for democratic rights. They try to win the best elements from the working class youth attached to the petty-bourgeois left which – mostly influenced by the Stalinist/Hoxhaist as well as Nasserist/Baathist tradition – shamefully supported the Nidaa Tounes forces against the former bourgeois Islamist Ennahda government, instead of fighting for an independent proletarian program.


77.          The youth uprising in Occupied Palestine / Israel is a crucial factor for the future of the Arab Revolution. Naturally it faces harsh repression by the Zionist state. In addition, it faces open hostility by the collaborationist PA administration of Abbas and only rhetorical support by Hamas. Given the lack of leadership and perspective, it is currently reduced to repeated street battles of Palestinian youth with the Israeli army and individual-terrorist attacks mostly directed against the occupation forces and settlers. Hence, we can currently not speak about a fully developed Third Intifada. However, revolutionaries fight in order to transform the protests into such a Third Intifada. For this it will be crucial to build popular committees in the workplaces, neighborhoods, villages and universities. Such an uprising should be combined with an internationalist perspective of combining the Intifada with the Arab Revolution, directed against reactionary dictators and all Great Powers, as well as appealing for solidarity with all progressive Israeli Jews who are ready to defend the Palestinians.


78.          The bourgeois Islamist AKP government of Recep Erdoğan in Turkey is currently waging a war against the Kurdish people. This is part of Erdoğan’s plan to deflect public attention from his corrupt government and widespread poverty amongst the Turkish masses. While revolutionaries reject the nonsense about the fascist character of the Turkish state – widespread amongst various Maoist/Hoxhaist groups – there can be no doubt about Erdoğan’s desire to transform the Turkish state from a mixture of (limited) bourgeois democracy with a strong Bonapartist component in the form of the army command into a state where he himself would be the Bonapartist component. Revolutionaries must support the Kurdish people’s struggle for self-determination and their own state – both against the Turkish army as well as against Daesh. At the same time, they denounce the collaboration of the PKK leadership with US imperialism and, in the past, with the Assad dictatorship. Equally, supporting the struggles of workers and youth against the Erdoğan government must not lead Turkish revolutionaries to lend any support to Erdoğan’s rivals in the camp of the bourgeoisie (the pro-US Islamist movement of Fethullah Gülen, the Kemalist CHP, etc.).

79.          The recent outburst of hostilities between Saudi Arabia and Iran demonstrates the potential for war in the Middle East. Revolutionaries clearly denounce the reactionary execution of the Shia religious leader Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr. The RCIT opposes the oppression of the Shia minority in Saudi-Arabia (as well as the Shia majority in Bahrain) and their struggles for equality. Such support however must not lead revolutionaries to side with either the reactionary regime in Teheran or the monarchy in Saudi-Arabia, who both are trying to utilize this murder to improve their position as a potential leading power in the Middle East. While both regimes have their own interest in this conflict, they could not act as they do if they did not enjoy the support by the Great Powers which stand behind them: the US in the case of Saudi Arabia and Russia (and China) in the case of Iran.

[1] We refer readers to the numerous documents and articles published on our website in the section on the Middle East ( In particular we refer to the following documents: RCIT: Revolution and Counterrevolution in the Arab World: An Acid Test for Revolutionaries,; RCIT: Tunisia: Solidarity with the Workers’ and Youth Uprising! Down with the Nationwide Curfew! For a General Strike and Mass Uprising to Bring down the Essebsi Regime! Onward to the Second Revolution! 23.01.2016,; Yossi Schwarz: Why Revolutionary Marxists Oppose Daesh/ISIL, 15.12.2015,; RCIT and ALS: The Imperialist Counterrevolution Threatens the Syrian Revolution! Down with the Great Powers’ Wars! Solidarity with the Syrian Revolution against the Assad Dictatorship! For a Socialist Federation in the Maghreb and Mashreq! 07.12.2015,; RCIT: Great Powers Aim to Liquidate the Syrian Revolution! Mobilize for International Solidarity with the Syrian Liberation Struggle against the Assad Dictatorship! Stop the US, Russian and French Air Strikes! No to Daesh/IS-Terrorism! 18.11.2015,; RCIT: Revolution against Russian Imperialism! Stop the US, UK and French Air Strikes! Smash the Assad Dictatorship! 9.10.2015,; Yossi Schwarz: Israel / Occupied Palestine: The sparks which ignited the rebellion! Solidarity with the Intifada! Down with the Israeli repression! 18.10.2015,; RCIT: Turkey/Kurdistan: Stop the Terror against the Masses! Down with the reactionary Erdogan-government and its war against the Kurdish people! 14.10.2015,; RCIT: Israel / Occupied Palestine: Victory to the 3rd Intifada! No Peace with Apartheid – Mass Resistance, International Solidarity and Armed Struggle Will Free Palestine! 13.10.2015,; Yossi Schwartz: Israel, Syria and the International Refugees Crisis, 19.9.2015,; Yossi Schwartz: Palestine: Occupied East Jerusalem in Revolt, 20.9.2015,; Yossie Schwartz: Nuclear Agreement Signed: Will Iran Become the Policeman of Imperialism in the Region? 23.7.2015,; RCIT: Turkey: Stop the Aggression against the Kurds! No to the US/France/UK Crusade against the People of Iraq and Syria! 29 July 2015,; RCIT: The Elections in Turkey and the Kurdish National Question, 19.6.2015,

[2] See on e.g. François Heisbourg: The Strategic Implications of the Syrian Refugee Crisis, in: Survival Vol. 57, No. 6 (December 2015–January 2016)

[3] An appropriate term used by Amr Adly, a senior researcher at the Beirut-based Carnegie Middle East Center.

[4] Al Jazeera: Is another revolution brewing in Egypt? Five years after the Arab Spring, analysts say the conditions are in place for another uprising in Egypt. 24 January 2016,

[5] See on this RCIT: Tunisia: Solidarity with the Workers’ and Youth Uprising! 23.01.2016,