Socialist Worker

Middle East round-up: ‘The gates to our freedom have been opened’

by Siân Ruddick
Issue No. 2239

Since Tunisia’s revolution began in December, people across North Africa and the Middle East have risen up against their regimes. They are inspired by Tunisia and Egypt, where two dictators were toppled in the last few weeks.


Thousands took to the streets over the weekend, defying a police crackdown. They chanted, “Yesterday Egypt, today Algeria” as they faced police lines.

Since December young people have taken to the streets over rising unemployment and food prices.

The protests have forced concessions from the regime, including food subsidies.

And President Bouteflika has promised to lift the 19 year state of emergency—but has failed to do so yet.


Demonstrations have seen protesters fighting battles on street corners with police. Police have used rubber bullets and tear gas against protesters.

The government has promised a relaxing of the laws that restrict movement and the media. It has also given every family the equivalent of about £2,000 in an attempt to stop the protests.

Protesters are vowing to bring down the regime.


Pro-government thugs have attacked democracy protesters. Both sides threw rocks while the security forces stood back.

On Sunday, Human Rights Watch said police used stun guns and batons against demonstrators and small mobs of government supporters attacked protesters.


The entire cabinet of the Palestinian Authority, headed by prime minister Salam Fayyad, handed in its resignation to president Mahmoud Abbas on Monday in the face of rising protests.

Abbas promptly appointed Fayyad as premier and asked him to appoint a new cabinet.

The old cabinet were all members of Fatah.

There is talk that Abbas wants to try and draw opposition groups into the cabinet, but up until now Hamas—which won the last election in Palestine in 2006—has refused to take part.

The political crisis in Palestine has grown in recent weeks after the leak of the Palestinian Papers which exposed how much Fatah was prepared to concede to Israeli demands in negotiations.

But both Fatah and Hamas have discouraged demonstrations in solidarity with the Egyptian revolution.

Yousef Asfour from Jaffa told Socialist Worker, “The official Arab media are trying to say this revolution is only for Egyptians.

“But we know it is a blow against imperialism in the Middle East. We Palestinians are rejoicing—the gates to our freedom have been opened.”

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