The thunderous events set in motion by Israel’s storming of the Mavi Marmara, the lead ship in the peace flotilla challenging the blockade of Gaza, have thrown important light on the overall situation in the Middle East. Turkey has emerged as the major protagonist among the forces that support the Palestinian cause. This is extremely ironic given that the country has been a loyal member of NATO for six decades and “Israel’s most important friend in the Muslim world” (New York Times, May 31, 2010) for as long as one can remember, markedly so in the post-Cold War period and even under the present government. The Turkish national flag competed all over the world for the pride of place with the Palestinian flag in demonstrations protesting the barbaric murder by Israeli commandos of at least nine volunteers on board the Marmara, all of them Turkish citizens. From Istanbul to Toronto, Islamic motifs also dominated most such protests.
What is behind this rise of a new Turkish-Muslim protagonist in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and what does this imply for the system of imperialist domination in the Middle East in the foreseeable future?
To provide an answer to this question, we need to bring into the discussion another unusual set of events: the imbroglio between the U.S., on the one hand, and the co-operation between Turkey and Brazil, on the other, over the question of sanctions against Iran. Barely a week after the Israeli assault on the humanitarian flotilla, on June 8, 2010, a vote was taken at the United Nations Security Council on a fourth round of (reinforced) sanctions on Iran and, lo and behold, Turkey and Brazil, rotating members of the Security Council and two docile allies of the U.S., voted against (and the only Arab country on the Council, Lebanon, abstained).
14 June, 2010
13 June, 2010 — The B u l l e t Socialist Project • E-Bulletin No. 368
We met with Antenea Jimenez, a former militant with the student movement who is now working with a national network of activists who are trying to build and strengthen the comunas. The comunas are community organizations promoted since 2006 by the Chávez government as a way to consolidate a new form of state based upon production at the local level. She told us about the important advances in the process, as well as the significant challenges that remain in the struggle to build a new form of popular power from below.
Susan Spronk and Jeffery R. Webber
Can you tell us about the barrio where you live and the comuna?
I live in a barrio in the north part of Caracas and work in a national network that is building comunas. Currently we operate in seven states; the majority of the comunas are situated outside Caracas.
We are working with the comunas to construct a political space in participatory way. It is a new experience in Venezuela. Above all, the comuna is a political space, not like the State or a parish; it is created by the people for the people.
Currently there are many comunas in construction in the rural areas, where they are the strongest. Every comuna has its own reality depending on political culture and the form of production in the specific locale. For example, on the coastal zone the community is dedicated to fishing, while in a rural zone the production is based on the land.
We are working to discover which elements and principles unite these different experiences, which elements are the same despite the fact that the methods of production and cultures may be different. We organize national meetings where the comunas from north, south, east and west can share their experiences and learn from each other – the errors as well as the successes.
What is the main aim of the comunas?
The aims of the comunas are diverse, and take different forms. Before the comuna existed there were all kinds of community organizations where people would participate looking for solutions to their problems, their neighborhood association, the municipal government, etc. The goal of the comunas is to build on these processes and consolidate them by organizing on the basis of territory where people live.