Author: Siyavash Shahabi

Forgotten Refugees of the Balkan Route

Trieste’s Piazza della Libertà and the nearby Silos warehouses have become a hub for migrants, mostly from Afghanistan and Pakistan, fleeing violence and seeking asylum. They endure harsh living conditions, with inadequate shelter, facing winter cold and illness. Volunteers provide some aid, while local organizations struggle to house the 420 asylum seekers awaiting placement in the overburdened system. Meanwhile, Italy’s government tries to tighten borders and offshore asylum processing to Albania, but faces legal challenges.

Islamism, Pseudo-Marxism and Ali Shariati

The phrase “camel, cow, leopard” symbolizes a confusing mixture, something Iranians use to describe Ali Shariati’s complex blend of Islam and social science, reshaping young Iranians’ views. Asef Bayat’s book details Shariati’s role in the 1979 Iranian Revolution, portraying him as a thinker who challenged Western ideologies and traditional religion with a Marxist-Islamic perspective. He captivated young intellectuals and was central to pre-revolution debates. Despite varied views, Shariati’s teachings inspired Islamic leftists globally. His life, from formative years under his father’s guidance to transformative Parisian influences, was marked by intellectual growth, activism, and controversy, ultimately rendering him a legend in Iranian political discourse.

Voices Unheard: Afghan Women’s Fight Against Marginalization

The UN meeting on Afghanistan in Doha coincides with protests by Afghan women against Taliban rule. Parwana Ibrahim Khail, a known journalist and women’s rights activist, shared her experiences of imprisonment and torture under the Taliban, including a stoning sentence for alleged apostasy. Despite international outcry and support for these women, the Taliban continue to enforce repressive measures, including the educational ban on girls and closure of women-oriented businesses, violating human rights. The latest WPS index ranked Afghan women’s condition as the worst globally. Activists criticize the UN for not inviting Taliban opposition to the meeting, viewing it as legitimizing the regime and complicit in gender apartheid. They demand that international communities hold the Taliban accountable for human rights violations rather than negotiate, expecting actions beyond mere statements.

Disqualification Mechanism in Iran Elections

Iran is set to hold its twelfth parliamentary elections and sixth Assembly of Experts elections on March 1, 2024. With prevalent disqualifications of candidates, 7 provinces face uncontested seats in the Assembly of Experts, indicating a lack of genuine competition, a trend mirroring Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s preference for compliant candidates. It’s called an election, but in reality, it’s not an election. Not only do the vast majority of the people not have the right to participate as candidates, but multiple political parties are illegal, opponents of the Islamic government are not allowed to operate, even opposition newspapers are being shut down among themselves.

Untold Story of Binke:
The 1979 Resistance of Sanandaj’s City Council

In a bold and unapologetic exploration, Zaniar Omrani’s documentary “Binke” (The Base) tears into the fabric of Sanandaj’s contemporary political landscape. Omrani doesn’t just depict history; he thrusts viewers into the heart of the furnace. From the explosive liberation of political prisoners in 1979 to the tumultuous birth of Rojhelat’s self-governance, “Binke” refuses to look away. It confronts the formidable establishment of city councils and captures the raw defiance of the Islamic Republic of Iran’s assault on Kurdistan. And let’s not overlook Jina’s fiery 2022 revolt—a fierce battle cry to reclaim the very essence of public sovereignty. This isn’t just a documentary—it’s a political cauldron of untold stories, simmering with the relentless struggle for autonomy and justice.

Hidden Histories:
Insights into Bahman Uprising

On February 11, 1979, Tehran saw an organized, well-armed uprising against state forces, leading to the fall of the Shah’s regime. Guerrilla groups, alongside a determined public, captured key locations including police stations, military barracks, and the radio-television center. Despite resistance, the insurgents secured arms, released prisoners, and occupied government buildings, culminating in the fall of notable centers of oppression. The revolution paralleled none of recent protests, underlining the significant, yet fleeting, victory for political freedoms later thwarted by the Islamic government’s repressive actions post-June 20, 1981.

Iran: A Movement for Life Against Execution

Recent reports from Iran show a troubling increase in executions, with political dissidents like Worishe Moradi and Shahab Nad-Ali charged with “Baghy,” equating to rebellion. January 2024 saw 86 executions, outpacing new death sentences. This reflects an apparent policy shift or “cleansing” effort, with the death penalty used to suppress opposition and violate international human rights standards. Despite international condemnation, such as Mohammad Qobadloo’s case, the executions continue unabated, highlighting a disregard for basic human rights and international pleas.

Podcast Episode 5

“The Fire Next Time” podcast delves into political and social justice issues biweekly, sparking important dialogues. Valentine Moghadam’s piece examines the Iranian Left during the 1979 revolution, discussing their anti-imperial stance and criticism of capitalism, the influence of historic events, and strategic missteps, including underestimating the clergy’s influence.

Iran 1979: Between Anti-Imperialism and Socialism

Valentine Moghadam’s article, “Socialism or Anti-Imperialism? The Left and Revolution in Iran,” analyzes the ideological complexity of the Iranian Left during the revolutionary period. It explores the Left’s commitment to anti-imperialism and its critique of dependent capitalism, while also addressing its failures and challenges. The article delves into the impact of historical events, such as the Shah-CIA coup and the rise of Islamic governance, on shaping the Iranian Left’s strategies and outcomes. The article also highlights the Left’s underestimation of the power of Islamic clergy and its neglect of democracy, providing valuable insights into the struggles of aligning ideological principles with pragmatic political strategies during societal upheaval.

Iran: The Colonial Legacy of Women’s Exploitation

Iran’s Deputy Minister of Industry announced the closure of 6,900 industrial units, exacerbating unemployment and poverty, with women hit hardest. Official data shows women’s employment decreasing, with informal jobs, accounting for 70% of employment, leaving them vulnerable to exploitation and without legal or social protections. The patriarchal and misogynistic culture systematically oppresses women, marginalizing them from decision-making and pushing them into unpaid domestic labor. Gender inequality is institutionalized in laws and governance, leading Iran to rank 143 in the 2023 global gender gap report.

Iran: Ahvaz Steel Workers Against Privatization

Recently, steel workers in Ahvaz, Iran, intensified their protests over fair compensation, job classification, and job security, clashing with National Steel Factory management. The conflict arose after a corrupt privatization scheme, inequitable salary practices, and management’s refusal to uphold agreements. Workers have initiated strikes following failed negotiations and are challenging the management’s deceptive tactics and the government’s privatization efforts. They demand the reinstatement of a labor leader, salary adjustments in line with industry standards, and the cessation of retaliatory actions by employers.

Middle East and The Fate of Populism:
Iran, Palestine and Beyond

“The Fate of Third Worldism in the Middle East: Palestine, Iran and Beyond” explores the region’s shift from Third Worldism—a revolutionary, anti-imperialist ideology of the 1960s, aimed at universal emancipation—to authoritarian religious governments in the 1980s. Rasmus Christian Elling and Sune Haugbolle’s book discusses how the promising liberation movements in Iran and Palestine succumbed to oppressive regimes and Islamic fundamentalism, respectively. Analyzing the decline of Third Worldism, the work reflects on global neoliberal shifts, the end of leftist movements, and the rise of Islamist politics, suggesting that by the mid-1980s, third-worldist rhetoric was co-opted by authoritarian states. Spanning 320 pages and part of the “Radical Histories of the Middle East” series, the book provides a comprehensive study for understanding current Middle Eastern political dynamics and the legacy of Third Worldism.

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