Statement of the Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (RCIT), 12 May 2020, www.thecommunists.net
1. In the context of the global counter-revolutionary offensive under the cover of COVID-19 starting in March, the ruling classes in Lebanon and Iraq had succeeded for some time to impose draconic lockdowns and to suppress the mass protests which have shaken both countries since autumn 2019. However, hunger and repression are driving the workers and youth to revive their uprising.
2. In Lebanon, inflation has risen dramatically, resulting in the increase of food prices by two to four times. According to the local daily Annahar unemployment is now at 40%. While the top 10% of Lebanese citizens receive 55% of national income, three quarter of the population live in poverty. The situation will worsen much more as the neoliberal government, hoping for a $10 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund, has adopted a brutal five-year austerity plan. It is noteworthy that this government is supported by Hizbollah which is hailed by many opportunist leftists around the world as “anti-imperialist” but which, in reality, acts in Syria as an ally of Russian imperialism in helping the tyrannical Assad regime to butcher the people.
3. In reaction, workers and youth have taken the streets again. Since 25 April, protesters have attacked banks and clashed with the Lebanese army. While Tripoli, the country’s second-largest city and one of the most deprived areas, is the center of the renewed uprising, protests have spread to Beirut, Sidon, Tyre, and the Bekaa Valley. They met brutal repression by the security forces which killed one demonstrator, 26-year-old Fawaz Fouad al-Samman, and injured many others. However, the army has not succeeded in suppressing the protests until now.
4. It is a characteristic feature of the uprising that many young activists have lost their illusions of last year that a peaceful change is possible. People are now determined to fight till the bitter end. A popular slogan at the demonstrations is: “This is the Hunger Revolution” and Fawaz Fouad al-Samman has been dubbed at his funeral as a “Martyr of the Hunger Revolution.” A young female demonstrator told the media: "When the city's residents began to rise up again, they were saying 'we'd rather take to the streets and die from a virus than stay quiet at home and die from hunger." Another protestor said: “Of course we don’t want violence with the army. However when we are angry, when the hungry people are angry, especially against the political situation and against the rule of the banks, it is our right to get rid of this kind of rule.”
5. Similarly, we see a reemergence of the protests in Iraq after the regime managed to stop the mass demonstrations by imposing a reactionary lockdown under the cover of COVID-19. On 6 May, a majority in the parliament voted for a new parliament led by Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi. The country’s former spy chief has been known as Washington's man in Baghdad, but he has also forged close ties with America's arch-foe Iran. The new Prime Minister promised that all pensions would be paid out in the coming days. He also said that he would release demonstrators arrested during the mass protests that erupted in October 2019. Furthermore, he pledged justice and compensation to relatives of more than 550 people killed since the start of the popular demonstrations.
6. However, the revolutionary process of last year has created a new generation of activists who have learned to mistrust the ruling class. Hence, just days after the new government came to power, mass protests started in Baghdad, Babel, Wasit and other southern cities. They called for the downfall of the regime, which they accuse of being part of the same “corrupt” former government. In Wasit, protesters burned down the headquarters of the Badr Organisation’s party, an important pro-Iranian force.
7. The Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (RCIT) enthusiastically welcomes the new wave of protests of the heroic workers and youth in Lebanon and Iraq! Together with food riots in Africa and renewed pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong, these struggles show that the global counter-revolutionary offensive of the ruling classes meets resistance. The past weeks have demonstrated, as the RCIT has repeatedly warned, that the ruling classes utilize the COVID-19 pandemic as a cover to suppress the mass protests. Furthermore, the events of the last days confirm that any struggle of the masses must confront and demolish the rules of the reactionary lockdown regime. While the ruling classes claim that such lockdowns would be in the interest of public health, they serve in reality only their political power interests.
8. It is urgent that the workers and popular masses organize themselves in action councils at work places, neighborhoods, universities and villages. Likewise it is important to build self-defense committees defending the masses against the police and army. The people should overthrow the whole ruling elite by staging a nation-wide, indefinite, general strike leading to a popular insurrection. The goal must be the creation of a workers and poor peasants government based on popular committees of action. The insurgent masses should convoke a Revolutionary Constituent Assembly.
9. It is the view of the RCIT that an authentic government of the workers and popular masses should nationalize the oil industry, banks and big companies under workers control and without any compensation of the capitalists! It should organize a public employment program under control of the workers and popular organization. Such a program could abolish unemployment and poverty and help reconstructing the country.
10. The renewed popular uprisings should be linked to other protests around the globe and help to revive the Great Arab Revolution which started in 2011. Supporting the ongoing liberation struggles of the Syrian people against the tyrant Assad is a particularly important task. The goal should be, as we said in past RCIT statements, to work towards a single Intifada of the entire Middle East – from Baghdad and Beirut, Idlib, Tripoli, Sanaʽa, Gaza, Cairo, Algiers, Khartoum to Teheran!
11. In order to implement such a perspective, revolutionaries need to unite in building revolutionary parties – in combination with building a Revolutionary World Party! We urge activists to unite on the basis of a program of socialist liberation and solidarity with the struggles of workers and oppressed in other countries. Join the RCIT in tackling this great task!
* Nationalize the banks and key industries!
* For a public employment program!
* Down with the reactionary lockdown regime!
* Build popular councils at work places, neighborhoods, universities and villages!
* Create self-defense committees!
* Organize a general strike! Victory to the popular insurrection!
* For a Revolutionary Constituent Assembly!
* For a workers and poor peasants government!
* Forward to the second wave of the Arab Revolution! Long live the socialist world revolution!
* Defeat the global counter-revolutionary offensive under the cover of COVID-19!
* Forward in building a revolutionary party in each country! For a revolutionary world party!
International Bureau of the RCIT
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The RCIT has published a number of documents on the second wave of the Arab Revolution that can be accessed on a special sub-section of this website: https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/africa-and-middle-east/collection-of-articles-on-2nd-wave-of-great-arab-revolution/. Our documents on the Syrian Revolution can be accessed here: https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/africa-and-middle-east/collection-of-articles-on-the-syrian-revolution/.
In particular we refer readers to our latest statement on Iraq: Victory to the Popular Insurrection against the Government of Abdel Mahdi! 04 October 2019, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/africa-and-middle-east/iraq-victory-to-the-popular-insurrection-against-the-government-of-abdel-mahdi/
Our latest statement on Lebanon, issued by our section in Israel / Occupied Palestine, is here: The Revolution in Lebanon as Part of the International Uprising, 29 October 2019, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/africa-and-middle-east/revolution-in-lebanon-is-part-of-international-uprising/
For our analysis of the global COVID-19 crisis we refer to numerous documents, including a new book, which have been collected at a special sub-page in our website: https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/global/collection-of-articles-on-the-2019-corona-virus/