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Egypt: A victory for revolution or counterrevolution? Views from the Egyptian left (updated July 22)

Protesters fill Tahrir Square calling for Mohamed Morsi's resignation (Amgad Fahmi)

Protesters fill Tahrir Square calling for Mohamed Morsi's resignation.

July 5, 2013 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Below are a number of articles from the left on the massive protests and military intervention that toppled the government of Mohamed Morsi in Egypt on July 3, 2013. For more on Egypt, click HERE.

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On the fall of Morsi -- live from Cairo

The following interview with Egyptian activist Hannah Elsisi appeared at the IS Network on July 3, 2013.

Is today a victory for revolution or counterrevolution?

In a way, both. I’m currently sitting just off Tahrir Square with the woman who started "no to military trials", a musician, one of Cairo’s most active street artists, and a novelist of the revolution. That is precisely the question we’re discussing now – and we are split down the middle. Half of us see this as a victory for the revolution and the other half as a victory for the counterrevolution – half as a step forward, half as a step backwards.

We’re in this café, not the square, for a reason. We all feel and know that this is not the square we owned – as if we have no tangible place in it, despite knowing that we hold a "place" in the revolution.

Which half of the discussion are you in?

I’m in the optimistic half. Despite the fact that I’ve been most vocal about this unease for a few weeks now. Here’s why.

Two years ago there were untold millions who either knew nothing of the revolution or had no time for it because they couldn’t afford a minute off. Some resented it for stripping them of their privileges. Others even saw it as a return to the nice, "civilised" Egypt that they knew under British occupation and the monarchy!

What we have today is a mixture of the following. Several million Egyptians who previous took to the streets and remember the Muslim Brotherhood’s lies, the blood they abandoned and the blood they themselves spilled. And many more, particularly outside the cities (where Mohamed Morsi still managed to fare well in the presidential elections after a six-month majority in parliament) have taken to the streets to protest their despair and disappointment in those they placed their faith in – not just now, but for a good 20 years.

However overarching this is a set of objections to the Muslim Brotherhood’s rule that transcend class, religion, social occupation or revolutionary reference points.

What are the politics of the protests, and which tendencies dominate?

There is still a very strong discourse that Hosni Mubarak, and Anwar Sadat’s regime before him, built over many years and for specific historical reasons. This discourse is built on both a rejection of "political Islam" without a rejection of Islam itself – indeed they entrenched Islamic discourse. At the same time they built a fairytale scenario where the Muslim Brotherhood and its members contain some transgenerational, transpolitical trait that causes them to rule ruthlessly and dictatorially, in a manner that is somehow worse than Sadat or Mubarak’s dictatorships.

This is what motivates the majority of Egyptians on the streets today, though to varying levels. It is most extremely entrenched within the middle classes, and among Coptic Egyptians and older generations. Another motivating feature of the protests is a bourgeois notion of safety or “law and order” having disintegrated over the past few years, particularly under Morsi’s rule.

However, the revolution itself is yet to explicitly take up an ideology or “leadership”, and there are so many who have taken to the streets against Morsi simply to protest against their social and economic living conditions without any clear alternative in mind.

I feel the majority of those I encounter are there to remove the Muslim Brotherhood and their beards before they are out to remove the government. Here, I am in a minority. Beyond that though it seems as if most people are out to remove the government rather than wanting to install the military in power. Here, I am with the majority.

So the victory for the revolution today, in my opinion, shows the ruling class’s weakness. Our prime fear should not be the military, as there are many who do not find the answer to their prayers there. The victory for the counterrevolution is quite frankly the threat of popular sectarian violence against a particular group of citizens that also happens to be the military’s greatest political foe.

Can the rank and file of the army be split from the generals, or is this over optimistic?

The rank and file of the army will only consider such a situation if the majority or a large number of lay soldiers are forced to rule and govern, and deal with civilians. However, if the army can achieve what it had managed to not only in the shape of Morsi but also Sadat, Mubarak and Nasser – that is, rule under the auspices of revolutionary or liberal parliamentary governance – then there is no need for such direct rule, and as a consequence the circumstances will not necessarily be ripe for the institution’s disintegration.

We've heard over the years about efforts to form a new, mass workers' party. How far have these efforts got?

Notions of class have nowhere in Egypt’s history (save for short spells in the 1890s and 1920s-'30s) asserted themselves over political, cultural or socio-religious considerations. It is difficult to speak of a workers’ party when we cannot speak of any more than 700,000 to a million Egyptians who identify with this notion at the most basic level.

Working class self-organisation has not ebbed one bit over the past five years, and under current circumstances there is nowhere for working-class consciousness to go but to develop further. However I say this to emphasise that while revolutionaries in Egypt use the slogan “general strike until the regime falls”, and many agree, on the ground for all of us the main contradiction that needs explaining – or the main discourse we feel we lack – is a revolutionary narrative against the current government that stands on clear principle with respect to the military’s role, while also rejecting the reactionary discourse against the Muslim Brotherhood specifically and supporters of political Islam more generally.

Right now I can hear the calls to prayer, and a march chanting "Egypt (clap clap clap) Egypt". And this is what I was referring to earlier in terms of the reactionary discourse of the revolt, making nationalist, militaristic sentiment the focus.

What is the left doing, and what does it have the capacity to do?

The left has the capacity to nurture and give confidence to those sections of the square who have no vested interest in military rule. We are working hard to keep chants and art against "el 3askar" (military rule) on the walls and on our tongues. The left will no doubt work hard to defend human rights and reject any calls for indiscriminate violence against any group. It will continue to build campaigns against sexual assault, and against the electricity shortages across Egypt’s governorates. However uncomfortable we might sometimes feel, communists’ place is on the streets, where the masses are.

What do you think of ElBaradei’s manoeuvring?

This is also a topic we have been discussing for a few days. At one end there are those like myself who thought the army’s game was to keep supporting the revolutionary movement on the street – and popular violence against the Muslim Brotherhood – while leaving the Brotherhood in power until its organisation had disintegrated enough to no longer pose a threat to the military. This would also have meant waiting until at least a good chunk of the population were at the point where they were begging for the army to rule. The other half predicted that the street would outstrip the military’s expectations, and want the government out ASAP.

ElBaradei or any similar liberals might be an unnecessary phase for the military if popular demand for straight-up military rule is high enough, and the Brotherhood is weak enough. For those with the latter view, ElBaradei is part of a larger play than just encouraging popular revolt against the Brotherhood, and will quite frankly be the next suit the military will rule through.

It is important to remember that the US government plays a not insignificant role in these outcomes. If the US has given up on the project of a client political Islam state in Egypt, at least for the time being, them some setup with ElBaradei at the helm is not unlikely.

I can hear celebrations – gunshots in the air. I’m half deaf! Wish you were here.

 

Four days that shook the world

Statement by the Revolutionary Socialists organisation in Egypt, translated by Jess Martin

July 4, 2013 -- What happened on June 30 was, without the slightest doubt, the historic beginning of a new wave of the Egyptian revolution, the largest wave since January 2011. The number of people who demonstrated on that legendary day is estimated to exceed 17 million citizens, an unprecedented occurrence in history. This surpasses in significance any participation by old regime remnants, or the apparent support of the army and police. Mass demonstrations of millions are exceedingly rare events in human history, and their effect on the consciousness and confidence of the populace in themselves and in their power to change the course of history transcend the limitations of the slogans raised and the political alternatives put forward.

Yes, the liberal bourgeois elite wanted to use this mass impetus to overthrow the rule of the Islamist elite, in order to themselves reach power with the endorsement and support of the military institution. And it is true that the feloul (old regime remnants) wanted to return to the political scene by way of this new revolutionary tide. But there is a special logic to popular revolutions that will not submit to the illusions or schemes of the liberals or feloul, even if sections of the masses were temporarily affected by the slogans and promises of that elite, just as they were affected before by the slogans and promises of the Islamist elite.

Yes, there is influence from the huge media and propaganda campaigns, undertaken by sections of the ruling class opposed to the Muslim Brotherhood, about how the army and police are standing with the people, about their neutrality and patriotism, even their “revolutionary nature”! But this influence is momentary and superficial, and cannot erase the memory and direct experience of the people of the counterrevolutionary character and opposition to the masses, whether it be the institutions of the military or the security services.

The true reason for this temporary influence is the betrayal of the liberal opposition, as represented by the National Salvation Front, of the goals of the Egyptian revolution and the blood of the martyrs, in order to shorten their path to power. The true reason is the absence of a united revolutionary political alternative capable of exposing the National Salvation Front and winning the masses to a concrete revolutionary program; a project that can surpass both the liberal and Islamist elite and proceed forward to deepen the Egyptian revolution, sweeping away all of the institutions of the old regime, including the military and security institutions, which are the heart of the counterrevolution.

The masses have not revolted anew out of a desire for military rule or love for the feloul liberal alternative to the Muslim Brotherhood. They have revolted anew because Morsi and the Brotherhood betrayed the revolution. They did not implement even one of the demands of the revolution for social justice, freedom, human dignity or retribution for the martyrs of the revolution, whether they fell at the hands of Mubarak and al Adli, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, or at the hands of the Brotherhood and the Interior Ministry during the period of Brotherhood rule.

In fact, Brotherhood rule deepened the same policies as the Mubarak regime, of impoverishment and corruption, and the desperate defence of big business interests in the service of [US] and Zionist interests.

Rather than purging the state apparatus of corruption and of those who smeared their hands with the blood of the martyrs, whether in the Interior Ministry or the military institution or secret intelligence, they held to their bargains with them, hoping for the participation of the Brotherhood in state administration along with the feloul and Mubarak’s men.

And thus Brotherhood rule became merely an extension on all levels of the Mubarak regime against which the Egyptian people had revolted.

This is the essence of the new revolutionary explosion which began on this historic June 30. The Brotherhood did not understand this essence, so its popularity evaporated within months. And this is what the leaders of the military institution do not understand, nor their civilian cover represented by the National Salvation Front with their liberals and feloul. For it is not at gunpoint that they take the same policies pursued by Morsi, the military council and Mubarak before them. The same neoliberal economic policies, the same strategic alliances with the oppressive monarchs of the Gulf, the same humiliating dependency on US and Zionist colonialism.

The governments and media outlets of the US and European bourgeoisie are trying to describe what has happened in Egypt as if it were only a military coup against a democratically elected president, or a coup against the “legitimacy” of formal democracy. But what has happened in reality far surpasses formal democracy with its ballot boxes. It is legitimacy via the democracy of the popular revolution, direct democracy creating revolutionary legitimacy. It opens the horizons to new forms of popular power which dwarf the temporary democracy of the ballot boxes, which results in nothing but the sustaining of bourgeois rule with its different wings. The temporary democracy of the ballot boxes ensures only the continuance of power of the capitalist state apparatus. It ensures the delusions of the people that they rule via ballot boxes that are open to them only once every few years to choose who among the bourgeois elite will rule and exploit them, without of course getting near to the state apparatus or the sheltered capitalist corporations through the manipulation of the ballot boxes.

What has happened in Egypt is the height of democracy, a revolution of millions to directly topple the ruler. As for the military displacement of Morsi, this was nothing but a foregone conclusion, once the military institution saw that the masses had already settled the issue in the streets and squares of Egypt. Al Sisi did on July 3, 2013, what Tantawi did before him on February 11, 2011; he acquiesced to the will of the rebelling populace, not out of any patriotism or revolutionary fervour, but out of fear of the revolution. For if al Sisi had not intervened to dislodge Morsi, the revolution would not have stopped with the overthrow of Morsi and the Brotherhood, but was -- and still remains -- competent to transform into a complete social revolution which would oust the entire capitalist state, including the leaders of the military institution.

The military institution is hostile to the Egyptian revolution; it got rid of Mubarak to save itself from the crossfire of the revolution. The military is now getting rid of the Brotherhood and Morsi, its erstwhile allies, in fear of the time when the earthquake of the revolution will reach it. And just as broad sections of the populace were affected by the illusion of army neutrality and its stand with the revolution at the beginning of SCAF rule, they are affected today by the lying propaganda about the heroism and revolutionary allegiance of al Sisi and his generals.

But just as the masses quickly left behind that propaganda in the days of Tantawi through experience and struggle, they will pass anew through the illusion that “the army and the people are one hand” in the weeks and months to come.

The Egyptian masses have managed to overthrow two presidents in 30 months. This mighty power is not reflected only in million-strong protests, but also in the subsequent waves of labour strikes and popular demonstrations. For political confidence will transform into confidence in the social and economic struggle, and vice versa.

After the first revolutionary wave, the army had wagered on the organisational and populist capabilities of the Brotherhood to assimilate and abort the revolution. But this gamble failed on June 30. Now, the army is gambling on the liberal opposition for the same goal. But the vast field between the expectations of the revolutionary masses and what the liberal forces are offering them in terms of economic and social policies, in the wake of a violent economic crisis, will quickly lead to the exposure of these forces, and behind them, the true rulers of Egypt, the military and security institutions.

One of the hazards that we will face in the coming weeks and months is that the wave of repression directed at the Muslim Brotherhood and the Islamist movement will be used as propaganda by the liberals and for security purposes by the army and the police to strike at the labour movement and popular demonstrations, on the pretext of stability during “this critical period”. Restoring the security apparatus to confidence in facing the Islamists will be translated without doubt into waves of repression against strikes and sit-ins under thick cover by the bourgeois media.

Because of this we must be consistent in opposing all forms of abuse and repression to which the Islamists will be exposed in the form of arrests and closures of satellite channels and newspapers, for what happens today to the Islamists will happen tomorrow to the workers and the leftists.

The dilemma of the Egyptian revolution today is the political weakness of revolutionary forces espousing the demand of continuing the revolution and at its heart the social demands. For these forces, the ballot box will not suffice, and they will not accept the continuance of capitalist policies of impoverishment. They will not abandon the demand for retribution for the blood of the revolutionary martyrs. They will continue to insist upon the overthrow of Mubarak’s state, including its security, military, and judiciary institutions. These institutions still control the country and still protect the interests of the big businessmen and Mubarak’s feloul. They remain a great swamp of corruption, plunder, and despotism.

It is incumbent upon the revolutionary forces today to unite their ranks and put themselves forward as a convincing revolutionary alternative for the masses. An alternative to the liberal forces who are ascendant today on the shoulders of the military, to the forces of political Islam which have dominated for decades over broad swaths of the population. We must create a pulpit to unite the economic and social struggle among the ranks of the workers and the poor, to unite all of the oppressed sections of society. For it is these people who have an interest in continuing the revolution, an interest in toppling the heart of the regime and not just its representatives, whether that be Mubarak or Morsi in the past or perhaps el Baradei in the near future.

So we begin from this moment preparations for the third Egyptian revolution inevitably to come, to be ready to lead this revolution to final victory. For the masses have proven anew that their revolutionary energy is endless, that their revolution is truly a permanent revolution. Let us rise to the task of this historical responsibility and let us work together for the success of the revolution.

 

The fall of the Brotherhood

The following editorial, as well as an article by Hani Shukrallah, former editor of the English-language Ahram Online website, appeared in the United States Socialist Worker on July 4, 2013.

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In the wake of the immense protests on June 30, 2013, demanding the resignation of President Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt's military stepped in on July 3 to oust Morsi, appoint the country's top justice as interim president and announce plans for constitutional revisions and early presidential elections.

The scenes of celebration Wednesday night [July 3] in Cairo's Tahrir Square and other city centres were reminiscent of February 2011, when former dictator Hosni Mubarak was forced out of power after 30 years of rule. According to reports, the streets never really cleared from three days before, when millions upon millions of Egyptians -- estimates range as high as 17 million in all, roughly half the adult population -- demonstrated in the culmination of a petition campaign, called "Tamarod" (Rebellion), to demand Morsi's resignation.

The size of the protests and the jubilance of the crowds after his fall show the intensity of opposition to Morsi and the Brotherhood, just a year after Morsi won the presidential election and the Brotherhood dominated previous votes. But once in power, they continued to pursue the neoliberal economic agenda that has impoverished Egyptian society, and they proved themselves as anti-democratic as the Mubarak regime.

Morsi's downfall would not have come without this popular revolt. But it must also be recognised that Morsi's actual ouster was carried out by the Egyptian military -- the backbone of the former Mubarak dictatorship, though often the rival of the Brotherhood since Mubarak's fall. Some political forces active in the movement against Morsi celebrated the military's action, but the threat it represents must not be underestimated. Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi -- the top commander who announced Morsi's removal -- doesn't care about democracy or economic justice or freedom from oppression. The generals may have moved against the Brotherhood, but their long-term goal is to safeguard the interests of Egypt's elite.

The days to come will be filled with intense political conflicts -- and Egypt's revolutionaries will again respond with the goal of furthering the revolution. But one cause for optimism is the confidence gained by millions of Egyptians in the struggle against Morsi.

Hani Shukrallah, the former editor of the English-language Ahram Online website, who was forced out under pressure from the Muslim Brotherhood, wrote this article after the June 30 protests -- but before the military issued its ultimatum that led to Morsi's ouster. In it, Shukrallah explains why the demonstrations were so big -- and why Morsi fell. It was first published at Ahram Online.

* * *

Egypt is making world history; in particular, world revolutionary history. Already, it is firmly up there with the two axiomatic revolutions of the modern world, the French and Russian revolutions.

The popular upsurge on June 30 has been described as the biggest demonstration in the history of mankind; we would be hard pressed as well to cite other examples of two major revolutionary upsurges in the space of two-and-a-half years, overthrowing two regimes -- and make no bones about it, the Muslim Brotherhood regime in Egypt is over and done with -- meanwhile putting somewhere between 30 and 40 per cent of the nation's adult population on the streets in a single day.

Simply, there is no historical precedent for any of this. Let alone that even in the grimmest of times during the past two-and-a-half years, under the military/Muslim Brotherhood alliance, under the Muslim Brotherhood/military alliance and under the Muslim Brotherhood's frenzied power grab, popular resistance did not cease for a single day. And it was thus that the first wave of the Egyptian revolution slipped -- just like waves are known to do -- into the second.

Also, for the first time in modern political history, a popular revolution is in the process of overthrowing an Islamist regime. Thirty-four years in Pakistan, another 34 years in Iran, 24 years in Sudan, a foreign invasion to oust the Taliban in Afghanistan -- and never mind for the moment the fractured and corrupt caricature that has produced -- a foreign invasion actually bringing Shia Islamists to power in Iraq, which Saddam had been Islamising already via a debased marriage of degenerate Arab nationalism and Sunni Islamism.

Against that backdrop, the overwhelming conviction everywhere was that once in power, Islamists were there to stay -- short, that is, of foreign invasion. Egyptians, however, did it, in 12 months.

All of which makes it doubly imperative for the revolutionary and democratic forces in the country to be fully aware of their place in history, and for God's sake to not let the trees blind them to the wondrous magical forest that lies just beyond.

"There is something in the soul that cries out for freedom", said Martin Luther King Jr. so many years ago -- his memorable words quoted by none other than Barak Obama in his February 12 statement on the Egyptian revolution, which a day earlier had successfully overthrown Hosni Mubarak's obdurate 30-year rule. For the US president it was rhetorical flourish, even as his administration, both before February 11, 2011, and since, acted consistently to help strangulate that very "something" in Egypt's soul.

Yet for the rest of us, there are few phrases that sum up Egypt's continuing revolution as aptly or as eloquently. For over 30 years, the overwhelmingly predominant perspective on Arabs and Muslims was that they were somehow a uniquely notable exception to King's words, even in their most vulgarised, stunted sense, as neoliberal free market economics accompanied by some form of equally stunted parliamentary democracy, more often than not overseen by local Mafiosi billionaires and their networks overseas.

Yet ours was not an "orange revolution" of the kind so favoured by global capitalism; if it has any colour at all, it is the deep red of the blood of our martyrs, no less than as a reflection of the centrality of the social at its very heart. Egypt's revolutionary banner back in January 2011, as it is today, proclaims: "Bread, freedom, social justice and human dignity."

As predominant dogma would have it, the political, social, cultural and economic behaviour of Arabs and Muslims could only be understood by reference to Islam, wherein, supposedly, "freedom" has little or no place.

Tens of thousands of words have been written pontificating on this theme; Mr. Huntington created his absurd little meta-theory of "the clash of civilisations", the very thrust of which was to presumably explain Arab/Muslim "exceptionalism"; Mr. Fukuyama grudgingly admitted that Muslims may indeed be the globalised world's single exception to his "end of history", constituted by neoliberal economic policy and oligarchic liberal democracy.

On one occasion during these fatuous decades, I had to suffer through a lecture by an intensely postmodern US scholar in which he argued that Islamism in the Arab and Muslim worlds was the Muslims' equivalent of the feminist and gay liberation movements in the West. This mind-numbingly boring drivel was thankfully delivered in English, and to an American University in Cairo (AUC) audience, who lapped it up. Had it been delivered to real, as opposed to "fashionable", Islamists, the young postmodern scholar would have been hard put to escape the lecture hall bruise-free.

Needless to say, this predominant rubbish was shared and upheld as jealously on our side of the Atlantic/Mediterranean as on theirs. The policy ramifications were simple: Arabs and Muslims could be governed only by "semi-secular" police states or Islamist regimes, preferably with some form of "representative, electoral" political system (even if the Iranian variety could be dismissed, purely arbitrarily), and even more preferably, based on an accommodation between generals and mullahs -- to which US ambassador in Egypt Anne Patterson seems particularly wedded.

I've spent the best part of the last 30 years critiquing this predominant paradigm, at a stage of our history, which I had come to describe as the "Arabs' age of ugly choices". Today, on July 2, 2013, having just returned from Tahrir, it is with joyous glee that I thumb my nose at the literally thousands of pundits, academics, commentators, politicos and postmodern fashionistas, even as I, most humbly, bow to the indomitable spirit and love of freedom of my people: Thank you, Egyptians.

 

In Egypt the military is supreme: Not a 'second revolution' but counterrevolution

The following article first appeared in CounterPunch on July 4, 2013.

By Esam al-Amin

The Generals have done it again!

Egypt’s president, Mohamed Morsi, was deposed one year after being democratically elected by the Egyptian people. For those opposed to Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood (MB), the move by the military is seen as supporting a popular uprising and a belated effort to revive or restore the Egyptian revolution that ousted Hosni Mubarak more than two years ago. But for Morsi’s supporters or those who simply had any respect for democratic governance and the rule of law, the action by the army is nothing short of a brazen though soft military coup d’état.

Which one is it? Here are the facts.

The military in Egypt has always enjoyed a privileged and autonomous status and is tacitly considered the power behind the throne. For decades, political power was concentrated in the hands of an elite yet mostly corrupt political and business class that monopolised power and looted the country’s resources. But the revolution that toppled Mubarak was in essence a rejection not just against the dictator, but also his entire corrupt regime. One of the major demands of the revolution was to get rid of dictatorship and repression and uphold the principles of democracy and the rule of law.

Over the next two years, the political process that followed Mubarak’s overthrow allowed for the will of the Egyptian people to be expressed numerous times through free and fair elections and referenda. The people in Egypt went to the polls at least six times: to vote for a referendum to chart the political way forward (March 2011), to vote for the lower and upper house of parliament (November 2011-January 2012), to elect a civilian president over two rounds (May-June 2012) and to ratify the new constitution (December 2012). Each time the electorate voted for the choice of the Islamist parties to the frustration of the secular and liberal opposition.

To the discontent of the Islamists, all their gains at the polls were reversed by either the Mubarak-appointed Supreme Constitutional Court (SCC) or the military. The lower house of parliament, of which the Islamists won seventy three per cent of the seats, was dissolved by the SCC a year ago, while the military has just suspended the new constitution, while ousting the democratically elected president.

Undoubtedly, the MB committed colossal mistakes. For example, it reneged on several promises to its secular and liberal coalition partners, including to not contest the majority of parliamentary seats, field a presidential candidate or exclude others in the composition of the Constitution Constituent Assembly. Perhaps, its gravest mistake was to ally itself closely with the Salafist groups during the process of writing the constitution, thus alienating many of the secularists, liberals, as well as Christians even though the MB did not care much about the constitutional ideological battle. Its motivation was not to be outflanked by the Salafis on the Islamic identity of the state. To accomplish this objective, the MB lost most of the others.

In addition, Morsi and the MB did not adhere to their promise of full partnership in governance. Many of the youth and opposition groups felt that the president and MB leadership were not genuine in their outreach and only sought their participation for cosmetic reasons. Even their Islamic partners such as the Salafist Al-Noor Party complained that the MB wanted to monopolise the major power centers in the state. It did not matter that the MB did not control the military, the intelligence, the security apparatus, the police, the diplomatic corps, the banking system, or even the bureaucracy. But because of the MB’s lack of transparency and openness, the perception was that it was trying to control the major centres of power in the state and exclude other parties based on ideology while the reality was that such control was non-existent or superficial.

But to the average people on the street what mattered was their security and livelihood. During his one year in power, Morsi faced enormous challenges: deterioration in security and basic services, lack of social justice, and economic decline. It appeared to many as deliberate attempts by the deep state (entrenched elements and bureaucrats loyal to the former regime) to ensure the failure of his presidency. His lack of transparency and openness to his people in favour of presenting an optimistic or upbeat outlook added to public cynicism and the perception of incompetence.

Another major mistake by the MB was its failure to separate its socio-religious movement from its political manifestation, the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP). While the public in past times respected the MB for its social services and religious outreach, engaging in politics by its nature is a source of division and rancor. For example when the MB fielded its presidential candidate in March 2012, it was MB’s Guidance Bureau that made the declaration instead of the FJP. In the eyes of the public there was little distinction between the MB and the FJP. So the MB was, correctly or not, held responsible for any political missteps by the FJP.

In part because the 2011 revolutionary partners were sharply divided on ideological grounds, former regime loyalists, politicians and corrupt businesspeople were able to regroup and play an increasing role in the political battles that engulfed the country. Mubarak’s National Democratic Party (NDP), which dominated political life for decades, was the only party in the country capable of organising nationwide and competing with the MB. But since the public rejected the NDP (and it was banned shortly after Mubarak was deposed), it did not participate in the parliamentary elections in the fall of 2011. However, by June 2012, Ahmad Shafiq, Mubarak’s last prime minister, represented the NDP’s interests. As one of the two remaining candidates in the second round of the presidential elections, he ultimately lost by less than two per cent.

Morsi took over power by June 30, 2012. When he was not as inclusive as promised in his senior appointments, the opposition almost immediately turned against him. Two months after he was sworn in, they called for a massive protest on August 24, calling it “the protest to oust the rule of the Brotherhood”. Their hostility and acrimony increased as the writing of the new constitution was finalised. Meanwhile, the new political openness and freedom in the country allowed for the private media, owned and controlled by many of the former regime’s loyalists and supporters, to target Morsi and the MB in an orchestrated campaign to alienate and inflame the public.

By the time the president issued his ill-advised and ill-fated constitutional decree, the opposition was not only united against Morsi and the MB but also determined to dislodge them from power. Morsi argued that his move was necessary to protect the nascent democratic political structures that the courts were dissolving one by one. He eventually reversed course and annulled his decree, even though the opposition rejected all his appeals for political dialogue. However, his objective of having a new constitution, which the opposition vehemently rejected, and replacing the Mubarak-appointed public prosecutor, a demand that the youth and revolutionary groups had called for, were already fulfilled. This single act proved to be a rallying point for all the opposition and the remnants of the former regime (fulool), which united under the National Salvation Front (NSF) in order to confront and defeat Morsi and the MB. They campaigned vigorously to defeat the constitution, which to their dismay, was passed by 64 per cent.

Meanwhile, the MB and its Islamist allies aimed at targeting the corrupt elements in the judiciary, which represented not only a major obstacle in delaying or dissolving the new democratic components of the state, but also it reversed the convictions and released all the corrupt elements of the Mubarak regime. Although this was also a revolutionary demand, the opposition, which so far had not fared well at the ballot box, aligned itself with the judiciary and accused the Islamists of attacking an independent branch of government that had reservations, if not outright discontent, about the revolution.

By the spring of 2013, the MB and its supporters were preparing for new parliamentary elections, which they had expected to win. Their strategy was that if they won the parliamentary elections and forced judiciary reform, they would be able to control or influence all branches of government and easily confront the deep state and institute their program. Sensing the danger of this scenario, NSF coordinator Dr. Mohammad ElBaradei met with Shafiq in the United Arab Emirates in March. In an interview last week, Shafiq disclosed that he and ElBaradei had agreed on an elaborate plan to depose Morsi and the MB. He also predicted that Morsi and MB officials would be arrested and tried. Furthermore, Shafiq complained that ElBaradei and the opposition did not fulfill their part of the bargain, which was to promote and support Shafiq and help make him the next president, and that they instead began to distance themselves from him.

Throughout the political power struggle, the youth movements, which spearheaded the 2011 revolution against the Mubarak regime, were marginalised while their grievances were not addressed. Morsi and the MB gave only lip service to their demands and needs. But during his address to the nation last week, Morsi belatedly acknowledged this neglect as he promised to address it. By late April, the youth groups had already come together to form a new movement called Tamarrud or Rebellion. The central theme in their program was to call for early presidential elections by gathering 15 million signatures, a million more than Morsi had received during his presidential run.

During the process, the secular opposition and the fulool embraced Tamarrud’s message, while the latter used the offices of the NSF and held several press conferences at the headquarters of well-known media outlets of Mubarak loyalists. There is also anecdotal evidence that the group received financial support from fulool groups. Meanwhile, the private media started a well-orchestrated campaign and continuous onslaught on the MB in particular and the Islamists in general. The level of hostility and hatred spewed against them was reminiscent of the 1930s Nazi propaganda against the Jews. Dozens of incidents were reported in the past two months, in which supporters of the MB were attacked verbally and physically by strangers because of their purported associations.

Though the campaign against the MB was in full swing, the president and the group did not take it seriously and did not attempt to offer a compromise to the opposition or genuinely address their concerns. They miscalculated badly as they thought that the popular support of Tamarrud’s initiative was thin. In short, the MB was facing a perfect storm. Whether in reality or perception, the MB has alienated its former liberal and secular partners, the youth groups, the judiciary, the media, the general public because of lack of services and rising prices. The fulool and their allies within the deep state took advantage of this public discontent. Many former security officials and wealthy businessmen tied to the former regime were seen organising and mobilising for the June 30 protest, the day Tamarrud designated to force Morsi’s ouster.

By July 2, the Appellate Court invalidated the appointment of the general prosecutor appointed by Morsi and returned the Mubarak-appointed corrupt prosecutor, who was dismissed last November. Furthermore, in order to further muddy the political scene, the courts also ordered that Morsi’s prime minister, Dr. Hisham Qandil, be arrested and sentenced to one year in prison for not implementing an earlier court order given to a Mubarak-era prime minister.

However, on June 30 impressive numbers of Egyptians protested against the MB and the president in Tahrir Square and across Egypt. It was reminiscent of the early days of the 2011 protests against Mubarak. Although the protesters did not include Islamist groups, they were diverse. Many youth groups were represented, voicing their frustration of being marginalised and their demands neglected. Many were ordinary citizens alienated because of economic hardship and the lack of basic services. Many were secularists who hated Islamists and wanted to overthrow them by revolutionary means since they could not defeat them at the ballot box. Many were Christians who feared the Islamists and were tacitly encouraged by the Coptic Church to participate.

But it was also clear than many were fulool and Mubarak regime loyalists as the picture of the former dictator was prominently raised and hailed in Tahrir Square amid chants in his support. Many were also former and current security officials who showed up in their uniforms. Even two former interior ministers who served during the military transitional rule and former regime were leading the protests as revolutionaries, even though they were charged by the youth groups at the time with murdering their revolutionary friends and comrades.

Many protesters were also thugs hired by NDP politicians and corrupt businesspeople. In fact, over the three days protest, these thugs raped over 100 women in Tahrir Square including female journalists, according to public officials. Meanwhile, in an orchestrated manner, dozens of buildings that belonged to the MB and the FJP including their headquarters were burned down, torched or ransacked. More than a dozen members were killed, while hundreds were wounded. Within hours, five cabinet ministers resigned and dozens of senior officials including presidential spokespersons and dozens of diplomats submitted their resignations in an attempt to collapse the state.

Meanwhile, pro-Morsi supporters were also gathering in a different square in Cairo in large numbers. After the MB and its allies saw the massive demonstrations of their opponents on June 30 they called for massive mobilisation the following day, holding more than 20 huge protests across the country that also numbered in the millions. With few exceptions, the secular and liberal media ignored these protests.

On the afternoon of June 30, defence minister and military chief General Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, who was appointed by Morsi last August, issued an ultimatum to the president and the opposition to reach a compromise within 48 hours or else the military would intervene. In reality, it was an ultimatum to the president to resign since the opposition had in the past rejected all attempts at dialogue or compromise. On July 1, the frustrated president addressed the nation and adamantly rejected the military’s ultimatum, as he called on his people to support his legitimacy as a democratically elected president. Immediately after the speech, the president’s supporters, who were holding a huge rally in Giza, were attacked by thugs and snipers. Sixteen people were killed and hundreds wounded.

By July 2, it was evident that the army has decided to overthrow Morsi and side with the opposition. As the military reached out to foreign governments, it was clear that many Western governments, especially the US, had difficulty accepting the military overthrow of an elected president. Secretary of defence Chuck Hagel and the chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey called their Egyptian counterparts, advising that they should instead either encourage Morsi to resign or keep him as a figurehead.

However, as they officially announced that Morsi was removed from power, the generals surrounded themselves with several civilian and religious leaders, including the head of Al-Azhar, the Coptic Pope, ElBaradei as NSF spokesperson, and representatives of Tamarrud and the Salafist Al-Noor Party. It was a brazen attempt to make it seem as if the overthrow of Morsi had broad consensus by civilian and religious leaders.

In essence, Sisi embraced all the demands of the opposition and the fulool. Not only did he depose Morsi and replace him with the head of the SCC, but he also suspended the constitution and dismissed the government. He unilaterally also gave the powers to issue constitutional decrees and legislative authority to the newly installed president.

Within minutes, huge celebrations with full display of festivities and fireworks were taking place in Tahrir Square and in many cities across Egypt. Meanwhile, Morsi’s supporters across Egypt were stunned and angry at the turn of events. They had mistakenly held hope that the army would force some sort of a compromise that would not circumvent the will of the Egyptian people who elected a president and passed a new constitution with a large margin only few months ago.

Immediately after Sisi’s announcement, the new regime began its crackdown on the media that supported the deposed president. Four TV satellite channels that belonged to the MB or the Islamists, as well as two Al-Jazeera channels, were suspended and taken off the air. The pro-Morsi protests across Egypt were also surrounded by the military. TV cameras were removed and the electricity was cut in anticipation of forcefully evacuating the protesters, as food and water were denied.

Meanwhile, MB leaders Mohammad El-Beltagi and Esam El-Erian, who played pivotal roles during the 2011 revolution, called Morsi’s ouster by the military an illegal coup d’état and vowed to oppose it, as they called on their supporters to resist it with all peaceful means even if they lose their lives. Morsi also released an eleven-minute video on the Internet rejecting his overthrow and defying the military’s act, insisting on his constitutional legitimacy as the duly elected president of the country.

Meanwhile, a crackdown against the MB leaders and their supporters was in full force, strongly suggesting premeditation. Within two hours of Sisi’s announcement, Morsi and some of his senior assistants were detained and transferred to the defence ministry. Former speaker and FJP chair, Dr. Saad Katatni, MB leader and general guide Dr Muhammad Badie, as well as his deputies Khayrat El-Shater and Rashad Bayyoumi were also arrested. Former presidential candidate and Islamist Hazem Salah Abu Ismail and preacher Safwat Hegazi were arrested and charged with "insulting the military".

Al-Ahram newspaper also reported that over 300 arrest warrants were issued against the MB and their supporters, as dozens were rounded up while all MB and FJP properties, assets and buildings were being seized and their bank accounts frozen. Moreover, within minutes of the announcement, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia and Muhammd Bin Zayed of the UAE, the two countries most openly hostile to the MB’s rule, issued statements praising and congratulating the military. Ironically, Bashar Al-Assad of Syria expressed his relief and joy at the ouster of "the Islamist regime" that was threatening his country.

Meanwhile, the secular and liberal opposition and many youth groups and their supporters argued that their protests followed by the ouster of Morsi by the military was analogous to the overthrow of Mubarak. But this argument conveniently ignores the fact that Mubarak was not a legitimate president or elected by the will of the Egyptian people while Morsi, whether one supports or opposes him, loves or hates him, was duly elected in free, fair, and contested elections that the entire world observed and accepted.

Furthermore, Mubarak killed hundreds of youth in order to stay in power, while dozens of youth were killed in the streets defending the legitimacy of Morsi’s presidency. In addition, most of the people and groups who oppose Morsi today after one year in power, never lifted a finger during Mubarak’s 30-year reign. Mubarak’s security apparatus used thugs to terrorise his opponents and oversee fraudulent elections, while the same thugs today attack and terrorise unarmed supporters of Morsi.

While official and government media outlets and corrupt businesspeople and judges supported Mubarak for decades, the same government-supported media, businesspeople and judges attacked Morsi from his first day in office.

Liberals, democrats and human rights activists have been preaching to Islamists for decades that democracy is the only legitimate system for peaceful political participation and transition of power. In 1992, when the Algerian military intervened and canceled elections after the Islamic Salvation front (FIS) won it, the West, led by the USA and France, looked the other way. Meanwhile, Algeria was engulfed in civil strife for over a decade, a conflict that resulted in more than 200,000 deaths.

Two decades later, whether or not one agrees with its political program, favours or despises the MB, there is no doubt that the group played by the rules of democracy and embraced the rule of law. It did not employ or advocate the use of violence. Yet, it is the height of irony that the ones who called for, encouraged and cheered the military intervention to oust a democratically elected president are the secular, liberal and leftist parties and individuals such as ElBaradei, Amr Mousa, Naguib Sawiris, Ayman Noor and Hamdein Sabbahi, as well as human and civil rights activists who frequently advocate for free media and freedom of political association.

The international community looked the other way when the will of the Algerian and Palestinian people were thwarted when they elected Islamists in 1992 and 2006. This is the third time in two decades Islamists are dislodged from power. It remains to be seen if the West will take a strong stand against the military’s latest attempt to prevent Islamists from holding power. It may indeed define the relationship between Islamist groups and Western governments for the foreseeable future.

The message such stand would send to people around the world will be profound. Either the West stands for democratic principles and the rule of law or it does not. When President Obama called Morsi on June 30, he admonished him that “democracy is about more than elections”. But what is equally essential to recognise is that there is no democracy without respecting and protecting the legitimacy of its results regardless of its outcome.

[Esam Al-Amin is the author of The Arab Awakening Unveiled: Understanding Transformations and Revolutions in the Middle East.]

 

Occupy the squares: stand firm in the face of the conspiracy by the Brotherhood and America

Statement from the Revolutionary Socialists in Egypt

July 6, 2013 -- During days that rocked the world, millions of Egyptians poured into the streets and forced their institutions to remove the failed president. Mohamed Mursi and the Muslim Brotherhood had betrayed the principles of the 25 January 2011 revolution and overthrown its goals.

But the stubbornness, stupidity and criminality of the US-backed Muslim Brotherhood and Mohamed Badie, its General Guide, open the terrifying horizons of civil war. This can only be stopped by millions coming into the squares and streets to protect their revolution. They must abort the US-Brotherhood plan to portray the Egyptian Revolution as a military coup.

The popular uprising of 30 June threw the Muslim Brotherhood out of power, and its plan is now clear. The Brotherhood is seeking to take over the squares in order to project an image of false popularity for the president who was removed by the uprising. It may even be aiming to negotiate his return to power with the support of the US and other imperialist powers in order to accomplish what Mursi promised to do for them in Syria and the region.

Leaving the squares to Mursi and his supporters today is the biggest danger that faces the revolution. The return of the Brotherhood to power will mean the defeat of the greatest uprising of the masses, setting the revolution back and destroying the hopes that launched it.

The masses who made the revolution in January 2011, and sought to complete it in June 2013, are the only ones who can save it from danger.

The people who called on the military to protect them on 30 June and subsequently, can defend themselves, without waiting for a hesitating army or police. The valour of the people of Boulaq Abu Al-Ala and Maniyal and Sayyida Zeinab and Sidi Gaber and elsewhere last night in the face of the attacks of the Brotherhood, is our best example.

The revolution is continuing, but it still needs time and to organise itself. This requires the reformation of popular committees to defend our revolution in every street, neighbourhood and factory. We are multitudes, but we lack organisation in our ranks.

Whoever is the next prime minister must be from among the ranks of the January Revolution.

We demand that the priorities of the coming government must be:

Immediate steps to achieve social justice for the benefit of millions of poor and low-income.

These are the people who paid the greatest share of the price for Mursi's failure to implement the goals of the revolution—and that of the Military Council before him.

Election of a Constituent Assembly, representing all sections of the people—workers, peasants and the poor, Coptic Christians and women—to write a civil, democratic constitution which entrenches the values of freedom and social justice.

The drafting of a law of transitional justice which holds to account the Brotherhood for the blood it has spilled, as well as the Military Council and the symbols of the Mubarak regime, and achieves retribution for the martyrs and injured of the revolution.

We will not leave the streets and squares to the merchants of religion, the friends of the US. We will not wait for the army to protect us; we will defend our revolution with our own hands.

Glory to the martyrs! Victory to the Revolution! Shame on the murderers!

All power and wealth to the people.

Interview with Comrade Salah Adli, general secretary of the Egyptian Communist Party

By Nameh Mardom, central organ of the Central Committee of the Tudeh (Communist) Party of Iran

 

July 6, 2013 -- Solinet -- Q1 – In the recent statements of the CP Egypt (July 3) you referred the fact that the mass protest movement comprises of various classes and strata.  How were the classes and strata of the Egyptian society mobilized in the second wave of the 30th June Revolution?

Salah Adly: Since the outbreak of the revolution of 25th January 2011, the protest movements have not subsided, and demonstrations of millions of people have not stopped, i.e. the revolutionary state of the masses has always been there, subsiding at times and flaring up some other times. The workers’ protests and strikes also escalated. After the success of Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood came to power, the masses discovered their authoritarian nature, fascist character, their bias to the interests of more reactionary and parasitic sections of capitalism, and their inability to run a state of the size of Egypt. Furthermore, their betrayal of the interests of the homeland and their willingness to act as the biggest broker to maintain the interests of America and Israel in the region were exposed. They concluded the truce in Gaza and gave America and Israel what even Mubarak’s client regime had not given. Their sectarian and obscurantist project, which is hostile to democracy, science, culture and tolerance, became very evident. More importantly, the masses discovered the falsehood of their use of religious slogans to disguise their plans in the service of the Greater Middle East project and “creative chaos”.

Therefore, the number of social protests (strikes, sit-ins, demonstrations and protest pickets) reached 7400 - by Mohamed Morsi's own admission - during last year. The unemployment rate reached 32%, with most of the unemployed being holders of high and middle qualifications. The foreign debts rose from $34 billion to $45 billion. The domestic debt rose by 365 billion Egyptian pounds during the reign of Morsi last year. The proportion of people living below the poverty line increased to more than 50% of the population. In short, most classes and strata of society - and its liberal, nationalist and leftist political forces, as well as youth movements,  mostly leftist and nationalist oriented, in addition to the main state institutions, especially the army, judiciary, media and police – felt there is a grave danger as a result of the Muslim Brotherhood remaining in power because of their fervent quest to monopolize power and exclude anyone who is not with them, other than their allies among terrorist groups that use religion as a cover.

Even broad sections of the middle and big Egyptian bourgeoisie in the sectors of tourism, industry, trade, agriculture and construction felt very scared for their interests as a result of the continued rule of the Muslim Brotherhood which was creating an atmosphere of chaos, insecurity and instability.

The “Tamarud” (Rebellion) Movement succeeded in collecting more than 22 million signatures for the withdrawal of confidence in Morsi and in support of calling for early presidential elections. All parties, trade unions and organizations participated in collecting signatures, and the campaign spread in the streets of cities, in factories, schools and universities, and in villages in all the governorates of Egypt. The great importance of this campaign is that it was able to involve Egyptian citizens actively in the revolutionary movement to overthrow the rule of the Muslim Brotherhood. It also restored the peaceful and democratic character of revolutionary action, and formed the basis for removing the sacred cover of the false legitimacy of the ballot box as the sole criterion for legitimacy and the democratic system.  The call for the collection of signatures was accompanied by calling for demonstrations in all the main squares of Egypt on 30th June as a principal test of the credibility of this campaign and the fundamental basis for the revolutionary legitimacy of the masses to overthrow this fascist regime and foil the project of the religious state.

The response of the masses of the Egyptian people was great, and the biggest demonstrations in the history of Egypt, and even in the history of the world, came out. This has been verified by the "Google Earth" index. More than 27 million demonstrators came out at the same time in all the governorates of Egypt, representing various classes and strata of the Egyptian society, in the face of protests that did not exceed 200 thousand demonstrators from the Muslim Brotherhood and their allies in one small square in Cairo. Thus, the Egyptian people were on one side and the Muslim Brotherhood were with their allies on the other, isolated, side. This is the reality of the scene. This is the reality upon which any evaluation of the situation or any political scientific analysis should be based.

We believe that what happened on 30th June is a second wave of the Egyptian revolution that is stronger and deeper than the first wave in 2011. It has taken place to correct the path of the revolution and seize it back from the forces of the extreme religious right that had conspired to steal the revolution and ride its wave to serve their fascist and reactionary objectives and the schemes of world imperialism.

Q2 - What is the level of the participation of the toiling classes and workers in these protests? Why the workers participate in the battle with political Islam for democratic rights?

Salah Adly: The basic slogans of the January revolution were: bread - freedom - social justice - human dignity. It is an essential link of the national democratic revolution, and came after a long historical stage that had begun in the mid-seventies of the last century, with the rule of dependent big capitalism and a full cycle of regression, backwardness and tyranny. During that period, the reactionary forces, in alliance with world imperialism and Arab reaction, managed to strengthen a climate that allowed the current of political Islam - especially the Muslim Brotherhood - to spread and ascend. The forces of the left were weakened, workers were displaced and big industries were liquidated in order to deal a blow to any possibilities for achieving comprehensive development.

In fact, the workers have been involved in most of the protests that have escalated since 2006 and are participating in all the popular demonstrations as part of the people and not in a class organized manner. This is due to the absence of strong trade union organizations and federations because of a long legacy of a tyranny and government repression to control the federations and trade unions. It is also due to the big changes to the class map and to the nature of the composition of the working class in various sectors that took place during the past period. Small and medium-sized industries controlled by private sector were relied upon, where workers were prevented from forming trade unions. The working class did not emerge in a clear class manner in the revolution. As a result of the lack of effective unity among the forces of the left and its weakness during the previous stage for many reasons, which there is no room here to mention, the labor movement did not appear in an effective and influential manner commensurate with the size of its participation and big sacrifices in the revolution.

It is important to clarify that the workers in the public sector have discovered that the practices and attitudes of the Muslim Brotherhood do not differ from the orientations of the Mubarak regime, rather they were worse.  The Muslim Brotherhood implemented the same policies on the continuation of the privatization program and the liberalization of prices, and did not raise the minimum wage even though it was one of the first demands of the revolution. They even reduced the taxes on businessmen, continued the privatization of services and refused to implement the health insurance program. They insisted on selling and mortgaging the assets of Egypt and its institutions through the project of "Islamic bonds" which they rushed to pass in the Shura Council [the upper house of parliament] controlled by Muslim Brotherhood. The most dangerous position was their refusal to pass the law to ensure freedom to form unions, which they had agreed upon with all political forces and trade union currents before the revolution, and replaced Mubarak’s men in the government-controlled General Union of Egyptian Workers with their own men. This is the social and democratic basis for the bias of the working class in favor of the revolution against the rule of the Muslim Brotherhood and the forces of political Islam, in addition to the other reasons that we have mentioned earlier.

Anyone who imagines that workers only revolt for factional issues or for economic reasons is mistaken. Workers are more aware of the dangers of the extremist religious right-wing project and their right-wing and fascist practices in all democratic, political, economic, social, and national fields.

Q3- In your statements, the CP Egypt characterises the current developments as a revolution .. What are the nature, tasks and urgent demands of the revolution?

Salah Adly: Yes, what is happening now is a revolution. To be precise, it is the second big wave of the January 2011 Revolution, as its first wave was aborted because it was robbed by the Muslim Brotherhood despite the fact that they did not participate in calling for it or making it. It is a democratic revolution with a clear social and patriotic orientation. It is continuing, and broad social strata and various political forces (liberal, nationalist and leftist) have participated in it. With the continuation of the revolutionary tide, the truth about the various positions has become clearer, and the biases of these forces and their willingness to continue along the path of the revolution are revealed.

The first democratic tasks of the revolution is promulgating a new civil democratic constitution that stresses human rights, women's rights and economic and social rights for the toiling classes, and one which does not negate the people's right to choose its political and economic system in the future according to the balance of forces. Thus, the task of overthrowing the sectarian, reactionary and distorted Constitution, rather than amending it, is a fundamental task for the democratic and progressive forces in the present moment.

One of the tasks of the democratic revolution is also the freedom to form trade unions, political parties and associations without government interference, rejecting the formation of political parties on a religious and sectarian basis, full equality between men and women in terms of rights and duties, equality before the law and the criminalization of religious and other forms of discrimination.

Among the social tasks is formulating an independent comprehensive social development plan that is based on encouraging the productive sectors with the need for equitable distribution of the development product and wealth for the benefit of the poor and toilers and achieving urgent social demands. A top priority among these demands is specifying a minimum and maximum wage and linking it to prices, cancelling debts for small peasants, redistributing the budget items to increase spending on health and education, providing housing for low-income people, raising taxes on the rich, regaining possession of the corporations that were looted from the public sector and fighting against corruption.

The national tasks are: opposing dependency on the United States, refusing to succumb to Zionist hegemony, amending the Camp David agreement, restoring Egypt's national role in the on Arab, African, regional and international levels, and deepening the relationship with the countries and peoples of the Third World.

Q4 – Do the current developments in Egypt mean rejection of the 'political Islam' or only rejection of "Moslem Brotherhood" by the Egyptian people? 

Salah Adly: The Muslim Brotherhood are the most effective and influential organization among the forces of political Islam. All the other organizations, including Salafi and Jihadist groups, were allies with the Muslim Brotherhood and came out with them in their last battle defending their regime because they know that their defeat would mean a major defeat for the sectarian Islamist project which is supported by the U.S. administration as an alternative to the collapsing authoritarian regimes. Only the Salafi al-Nour Party was excluded from the alliance in the last battle due to considerations related to its association with Saudi Arabia, although we are aware that it is a reactionary and sectarian party that is hostile to human rights and the rights of women and minorities, including other Islamic sects. This was evident in their inciting in the crime of murdering Shiites and dragging their bodies in the horrific massacre that took place in a village last month.

We believe that the battle is not over and there needs to be a political, social and cultural struggle to crush their resistance and change the general climate which has been rife for decades.

But what we would like to draw attention to is that what is happening in Egypt now is not only a confrontation of the Muslim Brotherhood, and their allies among the forces of the religious right, with the security institutions of the state. They are in fact confronting the Egyptian people of all sects and currents as well as all state institutions, including the judiciary, media and culture. In neighborhoods and villages, the Muslim Brotherhood will be now confronting the masses of the Egyptian people, as they have certainly lost the support of large segments of the people during the last two years. But the army and security forces will have an important role in confronting their armed terrorist militias.

In short, we see that what has happened is a big defeat for the project of the religious right in general, and not only for the project of the Muslim Brotherhood. It will have major implications in the region in the coming period.

Q5- What is your view about the arguments which say Morsi’s removal is undemocratic because he was elected through a legally and the new Constitution was ratified through a referendum. Was Morsi overthrown by the Egyptian army?

Salah Adly: Those who have ousted Morsi are more than 22 million citizens of the Egyptian people who signed a document containing the signatory’s name, ID number (national ID) and the name of the province, written by hand rather than on the Internet, in an unprecedented referendum that was culminated in the “big coming out" in main squares by more than 27 million demonstrators on 30th June 30, continuing for four consecutive days. It was Morsi who overthrew legitimacy when he issued his dictatorial constitutional declaration in November 2011. It was Morsi who devastated human rights when his terrorist supporters besieged the Constitutional Court, when his militia tortured protesters in front of al-Ittihadyah Palace [the presidential palace]as shown by investigations carried out by the public prosecutor office, and when his men killed demonstrators in front of the headquarters of the Freedom and Justice Party (the political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood) in accordance with explicit orders from the leader of the group and his deputy, as the killers confessed before the public prosecutor. It was Morsi who reneged on the promises he had announced on the day he succeeded to amend the Constitution and form a coalition government. He and his group insisted on submitting to the conditions of the International Monetary Fund, and also declared Jihad on Syria at a conference of terrorist jihadist forces without referring to the army and the National Defense Council.

Therefore, all the political parties and forces, and even the Salafi al-Nour Party, which jumped from the ship before it sank, have supported early presidential elections. This call is not a coup against democracy, rather it emanates from the heart of popular democracy when any president betrays his promises to the people and his program on the basis of which the people had elected him.

To limit the cause of democracy to just the "ballot box" is a complete plunder of the essence of democracy and an explicit rejection of the right of peoples to revolt against their autocratic rulers and the fascist regimes that use religion to hide their reactionary nature and right-wing capitalist orientation.

The defending of Morsi by the United States and Western capitalist states and portraying the issue as just a "military coup" against "constitutional legitimacy" is a formal position that hides the fact that world imperialism is terrified by peoples’ revolutions and their ability to transcend the narrow confines of the democratic bourgeoisie which represents, in essence, the optimal form to fulfill the interests of big businessmen and monopolies and their local agents in controlling the destiny of peoples in Third World countries.

What has happened is not a military coup in any way, but a revolutionary coup by the Egyptian people to get rid of this fascist rule. What the army did is carrying out the will of the people and protecting them from the plots of the Muslim Brotherhood and their armed terrorist allies who want to ignite sectarian strife and civil wars, divide the Egyptian army and destroy the institutions of the Egyptian state to serve the interests of imperialism and Zionism in the region.

What kind of military coup is it when tens of millions of people are in the streets?!! What kind of military coup is it when the head of the Constitutional Court has already assumed power, which is what had been demanded by the Salvation Front, that includes all the opposition forces with their various orientations and the “Tamarud” (Rebellion) youth movement,  and has been endorsed by the masses of the Egyptian people??!! What kind of military coup is it when a government made up of civil national qualified people will be formed and has full powers during a transitional period not exceeding one year and ending with the promulgation of a democratic civil constitution and presidential and parliamentary elections which everyone is keen to have?? What kind of military coup is it that allows the right to peaceful protests even by its opponents and does not impose a state of emergency? The statement by Al-Sisi, the Egyptian army chief, in which he declared the road map for the transitional stage, was only announced after a dialogue and consensus with the representatives of the Egyptian people, including the youth of the “Tamarud” (Rebellion) movement, the representative of the Salvation Front, the Sheikh of Al-Azhar, the Coptic Pope and a representative of women. The Egyptian people have celebrated in main squares, neighborhoods and villages this great victory for the Egyptian people and the national army’s compliance with it.

We should, as taught by Marxism, proceed from the concrete reality and not confine our vision to predetermined rigid ideas and ready formulas. Isn’t it noteworthy that the Western media turn a blind eye to all this, refuse to see the reality and insist that what is happening is a military coup??!!!

Nevertheless, we are keen for the need to be alert and pay attention during the next phase to ensure that the military's role in this stage is limited to the protection of the people and the Egyptian national security and to abide by its promises not to interfere directly in political affairs, and the need for the people to remain in the squares to ensure the implementation of their demands in the transitional phase.

Q6 – What is your assessment of the USA’s position TOWARDS THE DEVELOPMENTS IN Egypt?

Salah Adly: The U.S. was taken by surprise by the revolution of January 2011, but it had been preparing for scenarios of change in Egypt before that when it felt that the Mubarak regime had become aged. So it intervened immediately after he was overthrown to form an alliance between the former Military Council and the Muslim Brotherhood to pave the way for handing over power to Muslim Brotherhood after they pledged to ensure fulfilling the interests of the United States, ensuring the security of Israel and continuing the neoliberal economic policy which is against the interests of the popular masses.

But the United States discovered after a while the extent of the inability of the Muslim Brotherhood to run the affairs of governance, their lack of qualified people and their insistence on alliance with the jihadi groups instead of an alliance with the liberal forces and uniting the big capitalists’ class with its various strata in a stable system that is based on a transfer of power that revolves in the orbit of this class and ensuring America's interests. The U.S. was at the same time also keen to ensure the interests and privileges of the military institution in order to guarantee its loyalty.

But the United States was at the same time afraid of the continuation of the revolutionary situation in Egypt, the mounting scale of the protests and the escalation of popular rejection of the rule of the Muslim Brotherhood. Therefore, it exerted pressure on the Muslim Brotherhood to carry out reforms, and also exerted pressure on the forces of the liberal opposition, especially those representing the interests of big capital in Wafd Party, Free Egyptians Party and the Constitution Party to speed up parliamentary elections, end their alliance with the forces of the left and reject the revolutionary orientations  of the youth movements which believe that the objectives of the revolution and the uprooting of the Muslim Brotherhood’s regime can only be achieved with a big popular revolution against it and boycotting the elections.

When the “Tamarud” (Rebellion) and its genius idea to withdraw legitimacy from Morsi were successful, it put everyone in a dilemma when broad sections of the people and the political forces responded to it. This put an end to the wavering of all the parties and forces, and they rallied behind the popular option to overthrow Morsi and conduct early presidential elections. This demand escalated to calling for the overthrow of the Muslim Brotherhood’s regime, changing the Constitution and correcting the course of the revolution through a new revolutionary legitimacy and a new transitional phase on a proper basis.

The Muslim Brotherhood, the Americans, the army, and even the forces of political opposition and youth, did not imagine that the people's response will be of this mighty size which forced everyone to implement the people’s will.

We know that the United States exerted pressure in a flagrant manner on the leaders of the army and the liberal political forces not to overthrow Morsi and only carry out big reforms. But it was too late and everyone realized that the people have spoken and that the alternative would be the escalation of civil war, the escalation of terrorism and sectarian strife, and opening the door to foreign intervention.

The arrival at this critical point led to the overthrow of Morsi and the intervention of the army in a manner that serves the objectives of the revolution at this stage. It is noteworthy that this is the first time that the Egyptian army has disobeyed America’s orders because it has realized the nature of the big dangers that would plague itself and the homeland if it declines to support the revolution.

The national and democratic forces realize that the army’s leaders have interests and privileges which they want to preserve, and they also want to have a role in power without a direct political interference. We believe that this has to be taken into account at this stage with emphasis on correcting things gradually during the next phase.

We expect that the United States, in the current critical period, will encourage plots to ignite sedition and strife and to encourage these groups to stir up chaos to achieve the schemes of “creative chaos” schemes and turn Egypt into another Iraq. This is what happened and was revealed in the plot on Friday 5thJuly. This plot has been called by the youth "the Tripartite, U.S. - Israeli - Muslim Brotherhood, Aggression" on the people of Egypt. The plan was aimed at aborting the revolution, reinstating Morsi, spreading chaos and terror through demonstrations that would occupy the Liberation squares by employing weapons and terrorism, launching a campaign of rumors and a war of disinformation that was unprecedented in Egypt in order  to create divisions between the people and the army and within the military itself, and conspiring with jihadist groups in Sinai to declare it a liberated area in collusion with Israel and the Islamic groups in Gaza.

Egypt lived through critical hours after the speech of terrorism and intimidation delivered by the leader of the fascist group, the Muslim Brotherhood, to his supporters in Rabi’a al-Adawiyya square in Nasr City, Cairo. That was the signal for the start of this big conspiracy to turn against the popular will. The CNN as well as the BBC Arabic service TV channels played a dangerous role in this plot. But the people and the army were able to foil this plot and the shameful role of America and the Muslim Brotherhood’s betrayal of the people and the homeland were exposed.  This was a major blow to the schemes of America and imperialism in the region, and reaffirmed the triumph of the revolution and the people’s will over the forces of counter-revolution.

Q7 – What is your assessment of the newly appointed interim president, Adly Mansour, and what he should immediately do? 

Salah Adly: He is a judge who is well-known for his integrity and competence, and had not professed any political positions or adopted certain biases. The speech he delivered after he was sworn in and took up his post as interim president for the transitional period was a good and positive speech. He stressed that it was "the people alone" who authorized him, and that the powers granted to him are honorary, but the real authority will reside in the prime minister who will be chosen by consensus among the national forces and youth, and who will be charged with the implementation of tasks agreed upon by national democratic and social forces. A top priority for the government will be to halt the economic collapse, implement the urgent demands of the toilers and provide security.

We see the need for continued public pressure in the squares, which was confirmed by the statement announced by Al-Sisi, protecting the right to peaceful demonstration. This is to ensure that there will be no deviation from what has been agreed upon, and to ensure that the army will not intervene except within the limits agreed to ensure the success of this difficult transitional stage.

Q8 - What are the main challenges facing your party, specifically in relation to other political forces and creating a united alliance?

Salah Adly: The main challenge is the need to unite the forces of the left in the first place to confront the big tasks that we are facing at this stage. The most important are:

1) To ensure the achievement of the objectives and tasks of the transitional phase.

2) To achieve consensus on a single candidate for the national and democratic forces to fight the battle of presidential elections.

3) To form a front of leftist forces, Nasserites, youth movements and trade union organizations; to prepare joint lists to fight the forthcoming parliamentary and local elections; and to exert pressure to ensure there is no retreat from correcting the path of the revolution in the transitional phase.

4) To seek to complete and develop the party structure, to renew the party with fresh blood, and to develop its program so that we can face the big challenges that we are confronting.

Comments

Assessing the military coup in Egypt

Introduction by Roger Annis

July 5, 2013–The weekend edition of Socialist Worker (U.S.) website contains two new items  on the events of the past week in Egypt–an interview with Ahmed Shawki, editor of the International Socialist Review, and a new statement by the Revolutionary Socialists of Egypt that ranks the military coup as one event in a “Second Revolution” that has opened up in the country.

The interview appears to reverse the cautionary note about the military coup that the editors of the publication sounded yesterday in a brief statement. Here is an excerpt from that statement:

Some political forces active in the movement against Morsi celebrated the military’s action, but the threat it represents must not be underestimated. Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi–the top commander who announced Morsi’s removal–doesn’t care about democracy or economic justice or freedom from oppression. The generals may have moved against the Brotherhood, but their long-term goal is to safeguard the interests of Egypt’s elite.

Further below are the following:

  • An article from Counterpunch.
  • A July 3 statement by the Egyptian Samir Amin in support of the coup. (Earlier this year, Samir Amin supported the France invasion of Mali.)
  • Reports from today’s Guardian, Toronto Star and Globe and Mail.

Hundreds of leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood have been arrested by Egypt’s military. It has declared states of emergency in south Egypt and the Suez region. Interestingly, the Revolutionary Socialists statement notes the inevitability of military repression against the Muslim Brotherhood:

One of the hazards that we will face in the coming weeks and months is that the wave of repression directed at the Muslim Brotherhood and the Islamist movement will be used as propaganda by the liberals and for security purposes by the army and the police to strike at the labor movement and popular demonstrations, on the pretext of maintaining stability during “this critical period.” Restoring the security apparatus to confidence in facing the Islamists will be translated without doubt into waves of repression against strikes and sit-ins under thick cover by the bourgeois media.

Because of this, we must be consistent in opposing all forms of abuse and repression to which the Islamists will be exposed in the form of arrests and closures of satellite channels and newspapers, for what happens today to the Islamists will happen tomorrow to the workers and the leftists.

The lead item on the website of the New AntiCapitalist Party (NPA) of France is a report from Egypt by correspondent Jacques Chastaing, dated July 4, which describes the military coup as “the overthrow of an Islamist dictatorship by a popular revolution” (le renversement d’une dictature islamiste par une révolution populaire. The  ”popular revolution” refers to the protest movement across Egypt against the Muslim Brotherhood-led government which culminated in the giant protests on June 30, 2013, reportedly, the largest protest action in human history.

The Electronic Intifada has published an article that looks at the grave consequences of the Egypt coup for Palestinians living in Gaza. The Rafah border crossing from Gaza to Sinai (Egypt) has been closed by Egypt’s military.

See http://www.rogerannis.com/assessing-the-military-coup-in-egypt/

Am I wrong or are the

Am I wrong or are the Revolutionary Socialists (a) ignoring the consequences of the military crackdown and have failed to object to the attacks on civil rights now being engineered by the military against the Moslem Bro; and (b) fostering a civil war schema by equating the Moslem Bro (and by default all supporters or Morsi) with the Mubarek regime?

I sincerely hope my reading is mistaken.

Egypt: 'an accomplished revolution'?

Posted on behalf of Roy Ratcliffe

* * *

It seems to me that the shortcoming of most of the 'left' contributions, here and elsewhere is that they have uncritically regurgitated the opinion that the events in Egypt are already an accomplished revolution. Hence there can only be defence of a revolution already accomplished or a counter-revolution against it. This to my mind displays a lack of understanding of revolutionary processes and compresses or collapses several stages into one. At the same time this view includes an assumption that revolutions are led by clear political ideas.  Any study of actual revolutionary processes will reveal, that Uprisings, even mass uprisings, do not by themselves constitute a revolution or necessary lead to one and are not usually motivated by political ideas.

Revolutions involve a process, the broad outlines of which are as follows. First, popular mass uprisings; second, unifying economic and social demands are created and promoted widely among the population; third, military support sides with the (by now) insurgents; fourth, the masses become armed; fifth a dual seat of power is established; sixth the oppressors and their seats of power are overthrown; seventh, a new socio-economic system is released or created.  If any of these broad and complex stages are not accomplished then no matter how large the unrest/dissatisfaction is/was the situation has failed to be transformed into a revolution - at least in the sense that anti-capitalist should use the term. Indeed without these the socio-political process can be deflected into civil-war and other counter-revolutionary directions.

On the basis of this broad outline, the Egyptian uprising has failed, as yet, to reach point 2, since the recent unity of the anti-Mubarak and anti-Morsi forces was merely to change the figure heads of an existing variant of a neo-liberal system. This is only to be expected at this stage. So far, the uprisings despite all the courage and sacrifices made, have only delivered changes in figureheads and incidentally maintained the split in the potential revolutionary forces in their three currently and variably hostile camps. Secular motivated workers, religious motivated workers and ordinary soldiers still under the control of their US sponsored military commanders.

The current task of revolutionary-humanist and anti-capitalist  activists in my view is to tackle the issues involved in the difficult and contradictory phases of stages 2 and 3. That is to say create, by inclusive means as far as possible, a programme of economic and social demands (addressing the issues of concern to ordinary soldiers) and disseminate this as widely as possible (to rank and file soldiers also) so touching on the stage here described roughly as 3. Of course the process will not be a linear progression and reversals and advances will undoubtedly occur in each area, but the general elements, based upon past revolutions, are all necessary to seriously and consistently address. Out of such painstaking facilitative work among communities will come genuine calls for various actions, both small and large, rather than putative 'leaders' making strident calls hoping the masses will follow them.

Regards, Roy

[See also 'Egypt: Insurrection or Interregnum?'; 'Egypt: Workers and soldiers!' and 'Uprisings and Revolutions' all at www.critical-mass.net.]

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