Down with the Price Hikes! For the Creation of Action Committees and Self-Defense Units! For a United Front to Organize a General Strike! Unite the Popular Struggles in Tunisia, Palestine, Syria, Iran and Yemen! For a single Intifada in the whole Middle East!
Joint Statement of the International Secretariat of the Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (RCIT) and Tunisian Supporters of the RCIT, 10.01.2018, www.thecommunists.net
1. Since 7 January, Tunisia experiences another wave of spontaneous mass protests, many workers and youth are clashing with security forces. This is the people’s response to the government’s new budget, which, taking effect on January 1, raised the prices of petrol and other items and hiked taxes on cars, phone calls, internet usage and hotel accommodation as part of those economic reforms. Like a similar uprising two years ago, the protests began spontaneously after activists tagged the phrase #Fech_Nestannew [What are we waiting for?] on walls and on social media. Since then, demonstrations have spread to more than 20 towns including Fernaneh, Bouhajla, Ouslatia, Moulouche, Sabitla, Gtar, Gafsa and Kef as well as Tunis. Young demonstrators are blocking roads and hurling stones. In Tunis, a crowd stormed a Carrefour market. In Nefza, demonstrators stormed a police station. Interior ministry spokesman, Khelifa Chibani, lamented that “criminals” had looted and burned security centres, torched police cars and attacked government offices. People are chanting slogans like “No fear” and “Prices have shot up”. The state reacts with brutal repression resulting in the killing of a 55-year old man in Tebourba and the arrest of more 237 people. About 50 police were wounded in clashes. The Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (RCIT) declares full support for these protests!
2. The austerity budget reveals, once more, the reactionary nature of the capitalist government as well as of the imperialist world order. The government is a coalition led by Nidaa Tounes, a bourgeois and pro-imperialist party representing the old guard of the Ben Ali dictatorship, and the bourgeois-Islamist Ennadah party as a junior partner. It is governing the country in the interest of the super-rich capitalist class and the imperialist monopolies. While those elite enrich themselves in the past years, the popular masses are living under worse conditions than the ones before the Revolution in January 2011. According to official figures unemployment stands at more than 15% and youth unemployment at even more than 35%! The government’s austerity program is the direct result of its recent agreement to a four-year loan program with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) worth about $2.8 billion in return for economic reforms. And more attacks are looming. Such the government wants to cut the public sector wage bill to 12.5% of GDP in 2020 from about 15% now.
3. The RCIT states that the IMF “agreement” is nothing but a dictate of this institution of the imperialist powers against the interests of the Tunisian workers and poor. Such dictates will continue as long as the Tunisian working class and oppressed do not overthrow the capitalist ruling class and liberate the country from imperialist domination.
4. Ej-Jabha (Popular Front, short for “The Popular Front for the Realization of the Objectives of the Revolution”), a left-wing petty-bourgeois opposition alliance representing a coalition of parties mostly coming from a Stalinist/Hoxhaist as well as Nasserist/Baathist tradition, has called for a continuation of the protests. Its leader Hamma Hammami stated that “we will stay on the street and we will increase the pace of the protests until the unjust financial law is dropped”. Furthermore Nourredine Taboubi, head of the trade union federation UGTT, demands that the government raises the minimum wage and aid for the poor within a week. Revolutionaries in Tunisia should call these parties and unions to fully support the movement, to create a united front and to transform the protests into a general strike.
5. The RCIT considers it as a crucial task to form action committees in the workplaces, neighborhoods, schools and universities in order to organize the struggle democratically. Furthermore, the movement needs to create self-defense units so that it can defend itself against the attacks of the repression apparatus. In addition, such committees should organize self-defense units to fight against state repression. For now, the central demands should be the withdrawal of all austerity measures. In order to fight unemployment and poverty, activists should call to establish a public employment program under the control of the UGTT and other mass organizations, financed by the expropriation of Tunisia’s super-rich, many of whom are close to the Ben Ali clan. Revolutionaries should combine such demands with the perspective of fighting for an authentic workers’ and popular government. Such a government would exclusively serve the interests of the popular masses and would remove power and wealth from the hands of the small corrupt elite of super-rich politicians and army generals. It would also expropriate the foreign imperialist corporations which are exploiting semi-colonial Tunisia.
6. Most importantly, revolutionaries in Tunisia should work to advance the formation of a revolutionary party. Without such a party, any new popular uprising is in danger of failing just like the first did after 2011. Such a party must also be part of the new revolutionary world party, since capitalism in Tunisia and the class struggle there are closely interrelated with international capitalism. We call upon revolutionaries to join forces on the basis of an unambiguous revolutionary program of action.
7. The present spontaneous uprising is a crucial event not only for the working class and oppressed in Tunisia but also for the whole region of the Middle East. It is another powerful confirmation of the RCIT’s thesis that the revolutionary process which opened in the Arab world at the end of 2010 is still continuing. In fact, the revival of the Palestinian liberation struggle against the Zionist state (the Al-Aqsa protests last summer and the regular mass demonstration for Jerusalem since Trump’s announcement), the recent popular uprising in Iran, the ongoing liberation struggle of the Syrian people against the Assad dictatorship and its Russian and Iranian masters, the Yemeni people’s just war of defense against the Saudi invasion as well as the recent militant mass demonstrations against price hikes on food in Sudan – all these are strong indications that a new phase of upswing of popular struggles has begun in the whole region of the Middle East. The RCIT calls all revolutionaries to join forces in order to unite these struggles into a single Intifada in the whole Middle East and to fight for a socialist program of permanent revolution and working class power directed against all imperialist Great Powers (U.S., EU, Russia, China, Japan) as well as the local bourgeois regimes!
For our analysis of the class struggle in Tunisia as well as of the Arab Revolution we refer readers to the relevant subsection on our website: https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/africa-and-middle-east/
In particular we refer readers to the following documents:
RCIT: World Perspectives 2017: IV. The Middle East and the State of the Arab Revolution, https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/world-perspectives-2017/part-4/
RCIT: Tunisia: Solidarity with the Workers’ and Youth Uprising! 23.01.2016, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/africa-and-middle-east/tunisia-uprising/
RCIT: Revolution and Counterrevolution in the Arab World: An Acid Test for Revolutionaries, 31 May 2015, http://www.thecommunists.net/theory/theses-arab-revolution/