"The Traditional Middle in Turkish Politics Disintegrated"

published in MER121

Ahmet (a pseudonym) was a founder of the Turkish People’s Liberation Front Party in 1971. He was imprisoned from 1972 to 1974, and released during the general amnesty. He worked with Türk-Iş (the state-endorsed trade union confederation) in the 1970s and helped publish the political journal Birikim. In 1979, he was invited by Abdullah Baştürk to transfer to work with DISK, the progressive confederation of trade unions. Ahmet resigned from DISK in April 1980.

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"The Workers as a Class Were Defeated"

published in MER121

Metin Kara (a pseudonym) worked on the staff of DISK, the Confederation of Progressive Trade Unions. He now lives in exile in Brussels, and he works with the DISK liaison bureau there. His trade union work dates back to 1967, when he was a member of a DISK-affiliated union. From 1975 to 1978, he worked as a staff member in the publication and education bureaus of several DISK member unions. He was interviewed in late 1983 by Sami Kum, a Turkish citizen who now lives in the US and works with the Committee for Human Rights and Democracy in Turkey.

How do you see the political history of the workers’ movement in Turkey after World War II?

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Trade Unions and Turkey's Working Class

by Ronnie Margulies , Ergin Yildizoğlu
published in MER121

The emergence of the working class as a force on Turkey’s political scene is essentially a phenomenon of the years since World War II. The organized expression of this class, trade unions, also made their appearance in these years. Both these developments were closely related to the process of rapid industrialization in postwar Turkey. In the 1940s, industry and construction accounted for about 20 percent, and manufacturing for just over 10 percent, of national output. As of 1950, these shares began to rise, accompanied by falling ratios for the agricultural sector. By 1970, manufacturing accounted for a fifth of GNP, and by 1978 this sector was responsible for a greater share of GNP than agriculture.

Algerian Migration Today

by David McMurray
published in MER123

Richard Lawless and Allan and Anne Findlay, Return Migration to the Maghreb: People and Policies, Arab Papers 10 (London: Arab Research Centre, 1982).

Philippe Adair, “Retrospective de la Reforme Agraire en Algerie,” Revue Tiers-Monde 14 (1983).

Jean Bisson, “L’industrie, la ville, la palmeraie au desert,” Maghreb-Machrek 99 (1983).

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Egyptian Labor Abroad

Mass Participation and Modest Returns

by Robert LaTowsky
published in MER123

Hardly more than a decade has passed since Egypt’s pioneering emigrants first offered their skills to the nascent development of neighboring Arab countries. Measured against the volume and impact of its labor contributions, this seems a short time indeed. In that time, the limited opportunities once available only to Egypt’s most educated elite have mushroomed to require the talents and energies of tens of thousands of urban craftsmen, public employees and rural unskilled laborers. From these masses of temporary sojourners have come massive transfers of wages and remittances to Egypt’s thirsty economy.

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Labor Migration in the Arab World

by Fred Halliday
published in MER123

The Arab world comprises 18 states and was inhabited, in 1980, by more than 150 million people. [1] Two factors vital to economic development—population and oil—are, however, distributed in an extremely uneven manner among these states. The abstract possibility of mutually beneficial cooperation between the population-rich and the oil-rich is not being realized. Instead, we are seeing a process of increased inequality and deterioration in the productive and human resources of the Arab world: first, between the oil-rich and population-rich states; and second, between the Arab world as a whole and the industrialized economies from whom the real wealth of the Arab countries (mediated through oil revenues) is coming.

Seltzer Colonialism

by Michael Fin , Callie Maidhof | published April 18, 2014

Early each morning, dozens of workers from Jaba’ walk up a narrow set of stairs with trash strewn on either side to reach a bus stop on Highway 60, which bisects the West Bank on its way from Nazareth to Beersheva. As they climb the stairs, the workers pass a tunnel that once allowed villagers convenient access to the highway, but which has been blocked by limestone boulders, dirt and rubble since the intifada of the early 2000s. At this bend in the road, nine miles northwest of Jerusalem, much of the horizon is defined by the 20-foot high concrete separation wall.

The Politics of Egyptian Migration to Libya

by Gerasimos Tsourapas | published March 17, 2015

The beheading of 21 Egyptian Copts working in Libya, as shown in video footage released by the Islamic State on February 12, 2015, made headlines across the world. The story was variously framed as one more vicious murder of Middle Eastern Christians by militant Islamists, one more index of chaos in post-Qaddafi Libya and one more opportunity for an Arab state, in this case Egypt, to enlist in the latest phase of the war on terror. What was left unaddressed was the deep and long-standing enmeshment of the Libyan and Egyptian economies, embodied in the tens of thousands of Egyptian workers who remain in Libya despite the civil war raging there.

The Cares of Umm Muhammad

published in MER82

Nagya Muhammad al-Bakr -- known as Umm Muhammad, mother of Muhammad -- is 37 years old and works as a hospital attendant in the Heart Institute in Imbaba, Cairo. She is married to Bayoumi ‘Abd al-Baqi and has eight children. This interview, excerpted and translated from the Arabic by MERIP editor Judith Tucker, was published in the Egyptian journal al-Tali‘a in February 1976.

Where are you from?

From the peasantry. Our village is Minya al-Ghamh, in the province of Sharqiyya, and I’m from the ‘izba of Shalshamun. We came to Cairo twenty years ago.

Can you read and write?

Textile Workers of Shubra al-Khayma

by Mona Hammam
published in MER82

Dire material necessity is increasingly forcing Egyptian women to take up wage labor. Job conditions are poor, pay is low and social sanctions are heavy. Women make up 12 percent of the Egyptian industrial workforce, concentrated in textiles, food industries and pharmaceuticals. In textiles, an important Egyptian industry, their present numbers and their historical role are quite substantial.