Socialist Worker

Repression and concessions fail to stop mass protests

by Tim Nelson
Issue No. 2241

As Colonel Gaddafi’s dictatorship continues its attempt to violently suppress the revolution in Libya, regimes across the region are struggling to keep control.

Many are using concessions and repression in a desperate bid to hold onto power.

Thousands took to the streets in Iraq last week in protest at electricity shortages, food rations and unemployment.

They also called for an end to the US-led occupation and more democracy.

Government attempts to appease demonstrators—by giving out free power and diverting money from weapons to food—have so far failed.

In Bahrain, security forces have fired upon several opposition protests over the past few weeks.

Yet the king has since shifted, pulling troops out and calling for negotiations with opposition leaders. The government has also sacked five ministers and released 300 prisoners.

In Oman, demonstrations against Sultan Qaboos Bin Said began last week. The monarchy responded with repression, killing at least six people.

But the government has created some 50,000 new state jobs and brought in a monthly benefit of £240 for unemployed workers.

It also replaced six cabinet ministers.

Security forces in Yemen killed five protesters on Friday of last week—but president Saleh also announced the creation of a committee to “open dialogue” with the opposition.

So far all such concessions have largely been ignored or rejected.

And in countries that have won the most, such as Tunisia, people are fighting to take the revolution forward.

Tunisia’s prime minister Mohamed Ghannouchi resigned on Sunday after tens of thousands protested in central Tunis on Friday of last week calling for him to go.

Many people want the interim government disbanded, the suspension of the constitution and the formation of an elected assembly.

Hundreds of journalists and technicians at Tunisia’s state-run TV broadcaster First National struck last week in protest at government censorship. They are also demanding new managers.

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