Saturday, January 29, 2011

In solidarity with the people of Tunisia, Egypt and the Arab world

Statement by the Socialist Alliance January 29, 2011

The Socialist Alliance applauds the courage and tenacity of the Tunisian people, whose protests for democracy and economic and social justice, now in their second month, have ended the 23-year rule of dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.

The Tunisian revolution has inspired ordinary people across the Arab world and protests have broken out in Algeria, Jordan, Yemen and, most dramatically, against the United States-backed dictatorship in Egypt.

The overthrow of Ben Ali was achieved by the Tunisian people without any outside help. The regime, on the other side, was supported by the Western powers, in particular France and the United States, right until the moment Ben Ali fled to refuge with the West’s closest ally in the Arab world, the Saudi monarchy.

In Egypt, hundreds of thousands of people are in the streets standing up to the violence of the security forces of Hosni Mubarak, dictator since 1981. While more than 40 million Egyptians live on less than $2 per day and more than 1 million children live on the street, the people are denied free elections and a legal parliament, and suffer severe repression for any expression of dissent.

The tragedy of Iraq has demonstrated the falsehood of Western claims that its interference in the region is to bring about democratic regime change. The people of Tunisia and Egypt are showing where genuinely democratic regime change will come from — the people themselves.

The Tunisian and Egyptian uprisings are not just against a Western-backed dictator. They are against an unjust global economic system based on the plunder of the human and natural resources of poor countries by Western corporations. The policies of multinational institutions like the International Monetary Fund and World Bank, faithfully implemented by Ben Ali and Hosni Mubarak, create poverty, unemployment and lack of opportunity for ordinary people.

On December 17, the twin evils of poverty and dictatorship in Tunisia became too much for Mohammed Bouazizi when he suffered police brutality and the confiscation of the fruit cart from which he eked out a living — a marginal living typical of the young, rural people who are the majority of Tunisians. His desperate response, burning himself to death in front of local government offices, catalysed a revolution.

After Ben Ali fled, Tunisians took out their anger on the mansions of his corrupt cronies and relatives. Tunisian workers, in enterprises from banks and insurance companies to airlines and the media, have literally thrown out managers who were close to the regime and taken over the enterprises themselves.

While the dictator has gone, the interim government is largely comprised of ministers who served under Ben Ali. The Tunisian people are now calling for the resignation of all ministers associated with the previous regime. In provincial towns, the regime has been challenged by the establishment of democratic councils based on participatory mass meetings.

Western leaders, while pretending since their dictator fled to be in favour of democracy in Tunisia, have demanded that the current interim government remain to oversee the transition to democracy. The Socialist Alliance expresses its full solidarity with the Tunisian people’s demands for a new, representative government.

The Socialist Alliance calls for:
• No Western interference in Tunisia. The Tunisian people have shown that it is they, and not the Western empires, who know what democracy means.

• The West to stop propping up the Mubarak dictatorship in Egypt, the second largest recipient of US military aid in world (after Israel).

• An end to the ongoing Western military occupation of Iraq, and other Western military interference in the Arab world and the neighbouring region, including the occupation of Afghanistan and covert operations in Yemen and Somalia.