Planet Watch

Podcast: Anti-austerity and the utopian moment

Protests against austerity and the lords of capital are erupting simultaneously in Iran, Tunisia, Sudan, Morocco, China, Peru, Honduras, Argentina andĀ Ecuador, recalling the international protest wave of 2011. Such moments open windows of utopian possibility, but those windows inevitably seem to close as protest movements are manipulated by Great Power intrigues or derailed into ethnic or sectarian scapegoating. What can we do to keep the revolutionary flame alive, build solidarity across borders, and resist the exploitation and diversion of protest movements? Bill Weinberg explores this question on Episode One of the long-awaited CounterVortex podcast. You can listen on SoundCloud.

North Africa
Tunisian Jews

Tunisian Jews scapegoated in anti-austerity revolt?

A Jewish school on the Tunisian island of Djerba, home to one of North Africa's ancient Jewish communities, was attacked as anti-government protests raged around the country. Days earlier, synagogues in the Iranian city of Shiraz were similarly vandalized amid nationwide protests over austerity measures. Are indigenous Jews of the Middle East and North Africa being scapegoated amid the renewed protests over economic agony? (Photo: Rabbis at Djerba synagogue, 1940 via Beit Hatfutsot)

North Africa

Anti-austerity protests rock Tunisia

At least one is reported dead as angry protests have spread across Tunisia in response to an austerity package imposed by the government under pressure from the International Monetary Fund. Under the new budget, which took effect Jan. 1, fuel prices are hiked, and new taxes imposed on housing, cars, phone calls, Internet services, and several other items. Hamma Hammami, leader of the opposition Popular Front, pledged to keep up the pressure, telling reporters: "We will stay on the street and we will increase the pace of the protests until the unjust financial law is dropped." (Photo: North Africa Post)

North Africa

Tunisia: one step forward, one step back

Tunisia's parliament voted to overturn a 1973 directive prohibiting marriage between a Muslim woman and a non-Muslim man—a victory for the country's transition to secular rule. But one day earlier, the parliament voted overwhelmingly to approve a controversial amnesty law pardoning thousands implicated in corruption and embezzlement under the former regime of Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali. The opposition bloc boycotted the vote, as protesters massed outside the parliament building, calling the step a move back toward dictatorship.

Watching the Shadows

Appeals court: military judge biased in 9-11 case

A federal appeals court in Washington DC ruled  that the military judge hearing the case against the 9-11 defendants should have recused himself for making comments that revealed his bias in the matter. The case against the accused conspirators is still pending nearly a decade after it opened, beset by a long string of controversies and irregularities.

North Africa

Tunisian revolutionaries betray Syrian revolution?

The democratic transition in Tunisia since the 2011 uprising has been the one real success story of the Arab Revolutionā€”and the Tunisian revolution was also the firstĀ that served to spark the subsequent wave. So Tunisia’sĀ pro-democracy forces have international responsibilities, seen as keepers of the flame. It is distressing to learn thatĀ the General Union of Tunisian Workers (UGTT), a pillar of the country’s pro-democracy movement, sent a delegation to Damascus to meet with dictator Bashar Assad and express solidarity with his “war against terrorism.”

North Africa

Thousands protest Tunisia corruption amnesty bill

Thousands of Tunisians marched to protest a bill that would grant amnesty to officials facing charges of corruption committed under the previous regime of Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali.

North Africa

More mysterious air-strikes in Libya

The latest in an ongoing wave of unclaimed air-strikes in Libya hit al-Jufra air base in the interior of the country, which is in the hands of local militia forces.

North Africa

Tunisian fellahin resist land-grab

The farmers and agricultural workers of Tunisia's Jemna oasis have issued an urgent call for solidarity in defense of their communal propertyā€‹ against a government-backed land-grab.

North Africa

Algeria to build security wall on Libyan border

Algeria announced that it will join Tunisia in building a separation barrier along its border with Libya, in an effort to bar infiltration by ISIS militants and arms traffickers.