Commentary by Roger Annis, with appended statements and articles by other writers, July 14, 2013
The Socialist Alliance of Australia has issued a statement, dated July 12, on the recent events in Egypt, notably the overthrow on July 3 of the elected president Mohamed Morsi. The statement is titled ‘The revolution belongs to the Egyptian people‘. The full text and weblink is below.
The statement is no doubt the product of careful deliberation. To these eyes, it is a disappointment. It is similar to the statements and news reports published during the past two weeks by sections of the International Socialists current, including by the Revolutionary Socialists of Egypt. Of particular note:
- The statement does not recognize that a military coup has taken place in Egypt. It refers to the events of July 3 as “popular mobilizations of the Egyptian people, led by youth, for democracy, human rights and social and economic justice that brought down the regime of President Mohamed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood.”
- It fails to warn of the danger of the direct resumption of political rule by the military. The statement does acknowledge that the military’s action aims to “steal the fruits of popular rebellion”. How it might do so and what might be done to forestall this is not explained.
- Similar to a statement by the Revolutionary Socialists on July 10, the SA statement’s concern about the repression being meted out by the military against the leadership and cadre of the Muslim Brotherhood is less than vigorous. It reads, “…the Socialist Alliance calls for all those detained accused of crimes to be accorded due process.” How is due process possible in conditions of military rule?
- The statement dismisses the legitimacy of the 2012 presidential election. “The Socialist Alliance notes that the number of Egyptians who participated in the protests [on and around June 30, 2013] was higher than the number who voted for Morsi, as was the number of Egyptians who signed the Tamarrod petition calling for the president to step down.” Mohamed Morsi received 52 per cent of the vote in the second round of the presidential election in Egypt on June 16, 17, 2012.
- The statement makes no reference to the role of the old order in creating economic and social tensions to discredit the Morsi government. An article in the New York Times on July 10, 2013 titled ‘Sudden improvements in Egypt suggest a campaign to undermine Morsi’ details how the ruling class in Europe manipulated electricity and gasoline supplies to make it appear that the government was responsible for shortages. The article also explains that police stepped back from key duties in the past year, apparently and deliberately worsening traffic congestion and incidences of crime.
The Socialist Alliance and International Socialist statements are predicated on two false and dangerous notions–one, that the current military rule (the statements don’t acknowledge that such exists, but I do) is a preferred state of affairs to a Muslim Brotherhood-led government; and two, there is little prospect for winning supporters of the Brotherhood movement away from its rightist program.
Since I am no expert on Egypt, I find it useful to find possible historical analogies to try and better understand the current situation. Perhaps there are useful analogies here–the Kornilov Uprising in August-Sept. 1917 in Russia and the Kapp Putsch in Germany in March 1920. These were both cases of military intervention by the old orders to try and forestall and ultimately destroy developing revolutionary situations. The Russian and German military officers played on political deadlocks in the respective political situations in which neither the capitalist nor the working classes could deliver a decisive blow that would decide who would rule. In both cases, the immediate targets of intervention were discredited or increasingly unpopular governments led by social democrats or political equivalents.
The Bolsheviks and many of their revolutionary allies got it right in Russia. They mobilized immediately and decisively to block the overthrow of the discredited government of Alexander Kerensky. They correctly saw that the military intervention aimed not only to overthrow Kerensky’s anti-revolutionary government but even more threateningly to destroy the revolutionary movement that was moving inexorably to assume political power.
In Germany, there was a big misstep by the fledgling Communist Party. It took some days to recognize the threat. By the time it did so, much of the initiative had been lost to the supporters of the threatened, social democrat-led government. The putsch (coup d’etat) was forestalled, but the revolutionary forces had lost valuable time and initiative. The political situation was stabilized and a revolutionary opportunity was lost.
I acknowledge that these analogies are partial. Today, the Egyptian military is not in a position to deal a decisive blow to the popular movement, as the Russian and German military officers expected to do in their time. Indeed, The Guardian is reporting that the Muslim Brotherhood is engaged in talks with the military to reach a temporary resolution to the political crisis. But I believe there are some shared lessons here that could serve as useful guides to action.
Enclosed are texts of four items:
- Statement by the Socialist Alliance, ‘The revolution belongs to the Egyptian people’, July 12, 2013
- ‘Egypt: the people and the army are not one hand’, by John Rees, published on Counterfire, July 2, 2013. (Note the date, published one day before the military overthrew Morsi. And note that I do not share Rees’ view that Egypt then or now is in a situation of “dual power”.)
- ‘Wary protesters fear army’s role in Morsi’s fall will stall Egypt’s revolution’, by Patrick Kingsley, The Observer, July 14, 2013
- ‘The Coup in Egypt’: An interview with Abdullah Al-Arian, Counterpunch, Weekend Edition July 12-14, 2013
- ‘Egypt: under military tutelage once again’, from Juventud Rebelde (Cuba), July 6, 2013
‘The revolution belongs to the Egyptian people’: Socialist Alliance statement of solidarity with Egyptian revolution
The following statement was adopted by the Socialist Alliance national executive on July 12, 2013
The Socialist Alliance recognises and welcomes the June 30-July 3, 2013 popular mobilisations of the Egyptian people, led by youth, for democracy, human rights and social and economic justice that brought down the regime of President Mohamed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood.
The Socialist Alliance notes that the number of Egyptians who participated in the protests was higher than the number who voted for Morsi, as was the number of Egyptians who signed the Tamarod petition calling for the president to step down.
At the same time, the Socialist Alliance condemns the violent and repressive measures of the Egyptian Armed Forces since July 3, in particular the July 8 massacre of more than 50 unarmed supporters of the Morsi government and the arbitrary detention of Morsi and other leaders and functionaries of the deposed regime.
The Socialist Alliance believes the revolution belongs to the Egyptian people not the armed forces. On July 3, 2013, as on February 11, 2011, the armed forces “went over to the people” in order to steal the fruits of popular rebellion and maintain the rule of Egypt’s foreign-backed elites in the face of changed realities created by mass people’s struggle.
The Socialist Alliance condemns the annual $1.3 billion subsidy paid by the US to the repressive Egyptian Armed Forces so that they can play the role of arbiter in Egyptian politics for the benefit of Western strategic and economic interests. The Morsi government was elected with the approval of the military. The US and the military was complicit in many of the crimes of the Morsi government that alienated the people including strategic collaboration with the US and Israel and most significantly the implementation of neoliberal economic policies that deny justice to the Egyptian people.
The Socialist Alliance calls for justice with respect to all crimes against the people by the armed forces, the Morsi regime, the Tantawi regime and the Mubarak regime. At the same time the Socialist Alliance calls for all those detained accused of crimes to be accorded due process.
The Socialist Alliance supports those who are calling for an immediate return to civilian rule and a civilian-led process to democratically create a new government and a new constitution.
The Socialist Alliance recognises that no Egyptian government can satisfy the needs of the Egyptian people as long as it is beholden to the diktats of Western-controlled financial institutions such as the IMF and World Bank. As such, the Socialist Alliance recognises the struggles of the Egyptian masses as part of the worldwide struggle against neoliberal globalisation.
The Socialist Alliance expresses full solidarity with those in the mass movement, including the left wing parties in the Coalition of Socialist Forces, seeking to counter the political influence of the military and elite political forces over the mass movement.
Egypt: the people and the army are not one hand
By John Rees, Counterfire, July 2, 2013
In the original 18 days of the Egyptian revolution in 2011, the crowd in Tahrir Square used to chant ‘the army and the people are one hand’. Its meaning might be said to range from ‘the army is with the people’ to an appeal to the army not to intervene against the revolution. In the event, the army was forced by the scale of the revolution and to pre-empt further division in its own ranks to act as the formal mechanism that removed Mubarak.
The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) had to be forced by revolutionary action to concede elections at all. For the last year, SCAF has tolerated the Muslim Brotherhood Presidency of Mohammed Morsi precisely because it was no threat to the ‘deep state’, the inner core of the Egyptian ruling class to which SCAF is central both economically and politically.
Under Mubarak, the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) was part of the democratic opposition. Its members, including Morsi, were jailed and repressed by the regime. They were late in mobilising for the revolution, but they, especially the MB youth, did so in the end.
In power, it has been the unabashed neoliberal economic policy of the MB that has disappointed revolutionaries, workers and the poor, and some sections of their own base. This has fuelled the continuing level of industrial unrest which is a permanent and under-reported backbone of resistance.
In addition the MB’s narrow electoral victory (Morsi only got 51 percent of the vote, with radical Nasserite Hamdeen Sabahy winning outright majorities in Cairo and Alexandria) was hardly a convincing mandate.
To this catalogue of ‘how not to run a revolutionary government’ we might add dissolving the parliament and a studied reluctance to call new elections, continued civil rights abuses, sickening praise for the police and an embarrassing and dangerous placatory attitude to SCAF.
In this context the size of the June 30th protests are easily explained. The June 30th mass demonstrations, which were proportionally as big in many towns and cities outside Cairo as they were in the capital, open a new phase of the revolution.
‘Christians and Muslims are one hand’
The crowds were by all accounts less middle class and more working class and poor than before. The report in Foreign Policy confirms what many participants were reporting on twitter:
‘The daytime crowd in Tahrir crossed religious and socioeconomic lines — old women in black hijabs shouted irhal, or ‘leave,’ next to youths carrying crosses, who chanted ‘Christians and Muslims are one hand.’ Protesters carried red cards — both a reference to a soccer penalty and a message to Morsy that they wanted to force him from the political playing field. ‘This is not a warning, this is a red card, you donkey,’ read one poster (it rhymes in Arabic).The reputation of the Egyptian military has also undergone a significant revival among anti-Muslim Brotherhood forces. Cheers erupted from the crowd when army helicopters flew over the square; one protester turned to me to explain, ‘They’re here to protect us.’ Meanwhile, the U.S. government has become the bête noire of protesters, who blame Washington for propping up the Morsy administration. Tattered pictures of U.S. Ambassador to Egypt Anne Patterson, with a giant red ‘X’ through her face, littered the ground of the square. Meanwhile, a large poster declaring ‘Obama Supports Terrorism’ had pride of place at the center of the demonstration.’
But this is not simply a more working class re-run of the 18 days. There is a three-cornered fight for power taking place. The actors are the MB government, the army representing the core of the ruling class, and the street revolution.
The army is the crux of the matter. The MB demonstrators were chanting ‘the army and the people are one hand’: that is they were appealing to the army to intervene and save the government. In Tahrir many cheered the army helicopters as they repeatedly passed overhead trailing the Egyptian flag: that is they hope the army will assist them in removing Morsi.
This is a dangerous strategy. The army’s ultimatum to the political forces to sort out the ‘chaos’ or it will intervene within the next two days may result in a coup, although this is not the SCAF’s aim at the moment. For now SCAF wants to engineer a return of the remnants of the old Mubarak political class without Mubarak. And there are elements of that class~former Mubarak appointees Amr Moussa and El Baradei~who have stood with the opposition and would be only too happy to play that role.
The mistake of some radical elements of the opposition, including Hamdeen Sabahy, was to ally with these elements in the National Salvation Front on the mistaken belief that everyone in the opposition must stand together against the MB government. This was a mistake because these different elements were in conflict with Morsi for diametrically opposed reasons. The radicals want a deeper, more through-going revolution that at least accomplished the demands of the 18 days. Amr Moussa wants to return to as near the old order as possible, as soon as possible. No wonder the army thinks it sees a chance of getting even more of its own way than it was getting with Morsi.
But Amr Moussa does not represent the revolution. Neither do the army. The trouble is that the revolution desperately needs to develop a political representation that is an adequate expression of the interests of those doing the fighting in the streets.
Organs of popular power
In a revolution, power falls into the street, but unless the revolution has an adequate organisation that can pick it up it may fall into the hands of political figures and social forces whose aims fall far short of, or directly contradict, those of the mass of the people who made the revolution. There is now a gaping hole in the heart of the Egyptian revolution: its lack of any institutional embodiment of revolutionary power. It is almost unique for a revolution of such depth, and which has now lasted over two years, not to develop such intuitions.
The English Revolution had the Long Parliament and then the New Model Army, the French Revolution had the National Assembly, the Russian Revolution had Workers Councils. In these institutions, different forces within the revolution organised the whole revolution and contended for the leadership of the struggle.
Economic struggle, even a general strike, can assist in producing such intuitions but they are not in themselves a replacement for them. Economic struggle alone can end up simply flowing into channels created by hostile political forces, just as the demonstrations may lead to political forces whose aims run contrary to the revolution seizing power on their back.
What are needed now are institutions that can provide an alternative to the whole political class, an alternative basis of popular power. There is, in effect, dual power in Egypt. On the one hand the various elements of the political class that either are the government (the MB) or would like to be the government (sections of the NSF). On the other hand the power of the mass demonstrations that repeatedly intervene to ‘correct’ the course of the revolution.
But street demonstration and strikes are a blunt political instrument. There needs to be a politically representative institution that can compete with the old political class and its junior would-be partners on equal terms and, ultimately, replace them. Without that SCAF will choose the government it least dislikes, and if that does not work, move toward a coup.
The army and the people are not one hand. Rather, SCAF are playing a counter-revolutionary hand. And they may become a fist waiting to smash the revolution.
Wary protesters fear army’s role in Morsi’s fall will stall Egypt’s revolution
‘Our demands were for bread, freedom and social justice. But I’m devastated by the level of inhumanity’ Mariam Kirollos, activist
By Patrick Kingsley, The Observer, July 14, 2013
Cairo–On Friday night, the five-mile drive between Tahrir Square in central Cairo and the Rabaa al-Adawiya mosque to the east was a journey between two parallel universes. At Rabaa, the ground zero of pro-Morsi support for the last fortnight, protesters chanted against General Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, the man who forced Mohamed Morsi from office. Photograph by Gianluigi Guercio/getty Opponents of Mohamed Morsi have a meal outside the presidential palace in Cairo on Friday with armoured personnel carriers of the army parked nearby. The weekend saw pro and anti-Morsi rallies in the city.
But in Tahrir Square, where hundreds of thousands gathered on 30 June to call for Sisi’s intervention, and where thousands more gathered to break their Ramadan fast on Friday, few would say a word against him. Many even wore his photograph around their necks. “This was not a military coup,” said Maluq el-Batrawy, a veiled 56-year-old, sitting in a wheelchair, and holding a picture of the general. “Sisi was following the people’s will.”
For many of the revolutionaries who rose to prominence during the fall of Hosni Mubarak, the ousting of Morsi – seen as being just as autocratic as his predecessor – was another necessary step towards achieving the goals of the 2011 revolution. Yet they do not welcome the army’s role either, since the military represents simply another incarnation of the same authoritarianism.
“I don’t think there’s anything to celebrate,” said Mariam Kirollos, a Morsi critic, and a human rights activist who was heavily involved in the 2011 uprising. “Shifting from religious fascism to military fascism is not something worth celebrating. Unless they prove me wrong and make some reforms.”
For Wael Eskandar, an activist and journalist, Morsi’s downfall still represents the best way of achieving the goals of the 25 January revolution. Eskandar said that army rule was not the answer – but that it still offers a more likely route to eventual reform than Morsi. “With Morsi, there was no chance,” he said. “Morsi was an autocrat and he got us no way closer to democracy. At least with this change, there is more chance of building a democratic framework.”
Yet the army’s massacre last Monday of at least 51 Morsi supporters – and the indifferent, even jubilant reaction from some Morsi opponents – was a stark reminder that the military are no custodians of revolutionary values.
“Our revolution started [ in 2011] from a very humane point of view – we protested against police brutality,” said Kirollos. “Our demands were very clear: bread, freedom and social justice. But now I’m devastated by the level of inhumanity the majority has descended to.”
Some, like Eskandar, also fear that Morsi’s downfall will help rehabilitate the same Mubarak loyalists and institutions that the 2011 revolution was supposed to sideline. The police force is one. Its brutality was a major cause of the 2011 revolution, while the reform of the force was one of its implicit demands. But the police’s enthusiasm for Morsi’s fall has helped rehabilitate them in some eyes.
Uniformed officers were seen holding anti-Morsi propaganda in the runup to his departure, while police pointedly failed to protect the offices of Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood. Many even marched against Morsi, and at some rallies protesters chanted: “The police and the people are one hand.”
Many have been heartened by the army’s decision to take a less handson role than it did during its last brutal stint in power in the 15 months after Mubarak’s fall. Last week it immediately handed over power to a caretaker civilian president, who then set a strict timetable for new elections.
But there are still concerns at how the new army-backed regime seems to be diminishing the role of activists from the Tamarod campaign, the grassroots movement that brought millions into the streets last week.
A Tamarod spokesman said last week that the group was not consulted on Egypt’s temporary new constitution. Even the National Salvation Front (NSF), the largest formal anti-Morsi coalition, sometimes criticised for its links to Mubarak-era politicians, voiced concerns.
“The new government must be made up from figures who belong to the 25 January revolution, and who are known for their credible stands in support of the revolution since it took place,” said Khaled Dawoud, an NSF spokesman.
For the Big Pharaoh, the alias of an Egyptian blogger who rose to prominence internationally during the 2011 revolution, it is a case of wait-and-see. “I am a little bit concerned about the size of the Mubarak regime within the new order,” he said. “But until now I do not see signs that the Mubarak guys are jumping in. And there are good signs. Hazem Beblawi [the new prime minister] was not part of the old regime, and neither was his deputy.”
But for most revolutionaries, success does not just depend on who is in charge. As Kirollos points out, throughout the days of both Mubarak and Morsi, and during the military junta that split their regimes, one revolutionary chant has been a constant at protests: “The people demand the fall of the regime”.
For Egypt’s revolutionaries, the leaders at the top may rise and fall, but the oppressive state apparatus below them has remained intact. Until that regime falls, rather than just its figureheads, the revolution will continue.
Interview with Abdullah Al-Arian: The Coup in Egypt
Interview by Paul Gottinger, on Counterpunch, Weekend Edition July 12-14, 2013
Abdullah Al-Arian is assistant professor at Wayne State University. His research interests include Islamic social movements, globalization and the Muslim world, and United States policy toward the Middle East. His writing has appeared in Foreign Policy and Al Jazeera’s websites. Our conversation focuses on the events that led to Morsi’s fall and the likely consequences of the military coup.
Paul Gottinger: After Morsi took power in 2012 the Egyptian military generals maintained comfortable economic privileges and political autonomy. Would you say the Muslim Brotherhood ever had control of Egypt?
Abdullah Al-Arain: It’s important to understand that it was not always a zero sum game. What you had was an opportunity for the revolutionary forces, which included at one point the Muslim Brotherhood, to try and restrict some of the power and privileges that the military had enjoyed. Now of course, that’s not to say that the military wasn’t on it’s heels at certain points and time. I think you can point to specific moments during the last two years where it was restricted to a certain extent. This is particularly true after Morsi’s election when his popularity was quite high, and when he was able to retire senior level military generals. He was able to easily put to bed the idea of the Supreme Council of Armed Forces (SCAF) actually maintaining an overt role in governance.
However, the constitution preserved the military’s immunity from prosecution and the privileges it had enjoyed under the Mubarak regime. That was the arrangement. It wasn’t that the military had maintained overall power to govern; I don’t think they were ever really interested in that. I think they simply wanted to maintain their economic privileges, the lack of civilian over-sight over the military, and also immunity from prosecution for any of the atrocities that they committed when they were in power during the transition from the Mubarak regime.
PG: The speed with which the Muslim Brotherhood was repressed indicates that the military never lost control of the security apparatus. Would you agree with that?
AA: When you look at the revolutionary forces, the Muslim Brotherhood clearly proved to be the most successful in the transition. It was able to obtain certain advantages and access to political power. The Muslim Brotherhood won one election after another and then proved itself to be adept at becoming a partner in government.
But one thing that Morsi seemed unable or unwilling to do was to take on the power of what’s called the “deep state”. By this I mean the institutions that are deeply rooted enough to weather the storm of accountability and the calls for reform and complete overhaul. The most obvious example of this is the security regime. This includes the police, the internal security service of the state, the military, but it also includes things like the state bureaucracy, the state media, and the judiciary. The judiciary blocked a number of attempts at reform that Morsi tried to put through. These reforms would have started to peel back some of the layers of old regime power that continued to exercise itself long after Mubarak had left the scene.
PG: How dangerous do you see the military’s crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood after Morsi was removed from power?
AA: The military’s crackdown of the Muslim Brotherhood, which started in the first hours after Morsi was overthrown, signals a number of very troubling things. On the one hand it certainly signals the fact that this was all premeditated and orchestrated well in advance. We know this because they immediately went to all the media stations that were run by supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood and shut them down. They even went to Al Jazeera’s offices and detained some of its staff. Then they went to detain a number of high profile Muslim Brotherhood figures, in addition to leading a violent crackdown on the pro-Morsi demonstrators. That situation continued to escalate itself in the days after that including, of course the bloody massacre [July 8] in which over 50 people were killed and hundreds more injured. All the evidence so far demonstrates it was an unprovoked attack by the Egyptian military on the pro-Morsi demonstrators, which were demonstrating peacefully.
The Muslim Brotherhood now finds itself in the strangely comfortable position where it’s always been: it is the opposition to an authoritarian and repressive regime. This was the position it maintained for decades. I don’t think the Muslim Brotherhood’s opinion on the coup will change due to the harsh military response. They believe their cause is just and they still support the elected president. This has serious implications for the legitimacy of the next Egyptian president. All indications are that the Muslim Brotherhood will be boycotting the upcoming process. This means boycotting the transition, the writing of the constitution, the referendum, and even the upcoming parliamentary and presidential elections scheduled for next year.
Unless there is a serious effort by the military to reengage the Muslim Brotherhood, they will continue to boycott the transition process. And I don’t think you can have a legitimate political process as long as you have a significant segment of the Egyptian population that is disenfranchised. Even with the Muslim Brotherhood boycotting the process the oppression of it has not ceased. In fact, on July 10 there was an indictment for Mohammed Badie, the head of the Muslim Brotherhood movement. He is being charged with incitement of the events, which led to the massacre of pro-Morsi supporters. This is something that is very troubling. As long as people keep calling for dialogue with the Muslim Brotherhood, but the actions on the ground are nothing but repression and violence, it’s doubtful that the current transition process will be able to move forward smoothly.
PG: Do you see any threat of a militant faction of the Muslim Brotherhood forming and sectarian violence breaking out?
AA: Here I think we have to be careful before we jump to that kind of conclusion. So far all indications are that the entire organization has adopted non-violent/peaceful means to protest what they perceive as the illegal overthrow of the elected Egyptian president. This is not to say that certain people will not be disillusioned with the democratic process. I think that is a danger anytime you undermine the democratic process. But the Muslim Brotherhood has maintained non-violence as the cornerstone of its activist mission for the better part of the last 3 decades. And I don’t think that is going to change over night. I do think there are already militant elements that exist throughout different segments of Egyptian society that could flare up into isolated incidents of violence. But I don’t think that is something that can be traced directly back to the Muslim Brotherhood, or even to any elements of the opposition. The only side that is focusing on violence as a means of accomplishing their goals is the Egyptian military.
PG: The Egyptian Military has destroyed many of the underground tunnels into Gaza nearly stopping the transfer of goods. Given the Israeli siege, these tunnels are essential for the Gaza economy and for the population to have access to essential food and basic goods. What effect do you think the military coup will have on the people of Gaza? one of the bright spots was that the people of Gaza would have a little bit easier access to food, medical attention, goods, as well as an ease in the movement of people in and out of what is essentially an open air prison for 1.7 million people. But let’s not idealize the situation. Even under the Morsi presidency there were still an enormous degree of restrictions on the Palestinians in Gaza.
But I think we see that situation ratcheted up tremendously the moment that the military took charge-essentially resuming the siege situation. We’re now reading reports that not only has the military destroyed the tunnels used to deliver goods, but they’ve even closed the overland boarder, which allows the movement of people in and out of Gaza. On top of that the Egyptian government has said that any Palestinian traveling into Cairo on any airline will be turned back and will not be allowed to continue on. The only route to get into Gaza is to fly into Cairo and take the overland route crossing from Egypt. A lot of these signs are deeply troubling. I think it points to a certain brazen behavior on the part of the Egyptian military, which extends beyond the Egyptian people to include the treatment of the Palestinians as well.
PG: Where do you think the revolutionary energy of the youth movement will go from here? Do you see any progressive force gaining political power?
AA: I would say that I’m not very optimistic for the future prospects of the transition. The first reason is what I mentioned before: there has already been a disenfranchisement of the largest political party in Egypt. The Muslim Brotherhood is being completely excluded from the transition process and is being violently repressed. We’re also seeing a certain amount of horse-trading and deal making between the remaining so called revolutionary forces. These forces are made up of different revolutionary movements including the youth movement, the leftists, liberal political leaders within Egypt, and others. All of these groups seemed to have made their peace with remnants of the old regime.
So we’re seeing the temporary makeshift government is appointing former Mubarak loyalist judges to the heads of the judiciary body. We’re also seeing this within the constitution writing committee. We’re even seeing some of the ministries starting to go to figures whose reputation has been compromised by their behavior during the Mubarak authoritarian era. That is not encouraging because Egypt was expected to rid itself of a lot of these elements. We’re probably just going to see a resumption of business as usual. Perhaps there will be some slight democratic practices in which people are able to select from among a few different bad options, but I don’t think Egypt will develop any kind of alternative leadership anytime soon.
Egypt: under military tutelage once again
The strong man in the North African country is not the interim President, Adli Mansour, but General Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, Chief of the Army.
By Jorge L. Rodríguez González, Juventud Rebelde (Cuba), July 6, 2013
A CubaNews translation, edited by Walter Lippmann.
The Egyptian Armed Forces will keep controlling the route of the nation. So far, this is the only clear thing in the uncertain and complex scenario of the North African nation. The strong man is not interim President Adli Mansour who, until the overthrow of President Mohammed Morsi, acted as President of the Supreme Court. The strong man is General Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, Chief of the Army.
As on other occasions, the military will play politics. They grabbed the power for a year and a half after the fall of dictator Hosni Mubarak, until elections were held. In those elections, they also had their candidate: Ahmed Shafiq, a retired military man who had been the last Prime Minister of the ousted Mubarak. Now, nothing indicates the story will be different. Behind Mansour, the military strings are in action, particularly those of Al-Sisi, whom most media present as the hero of the coup that changed the route of Egypt to become a caliphate and avoided bloodshed.
Apart from the mistakes that Morsi may have committed, one cannot ignore the fact that he was a democratically-elected president, and that the ascent of the Islamists was always distrusted by the sectors that historically held the power, or were next to the power, including the military elite. The president could not rule comfortably to initiate at least a reform that could solve the problems he inherited from the former regime. The followers of Mubarak, entrenched on the levers of power, took care of the boycott against the actions of the Islamist leader.
In the year he ruled the nation, until the Armed Forces staged the coup d’état on July 3, Morsi was unable to make the Egyptian economy take off: tourism -an important source of income for the nation- is still in decline; unemployment affects more than 13% of the population; food prices increased by 10%. To all these, add the scarcity of fuel and the power outages in Cairo.
In the middle of this difficult economic situation, Morsi was unable to offer a social and economic program, neither to take distance from the policies of the international financial bodies. These include the International Monetary Fund which, in order to grant credits, demands reforms that represent cuts in the state budget and subsidies, dismissals, tax increases, a higher cost of living and more privatization. This is what is happening in neighboring Tunisia. However, many criticize Morsi for not being able to complete the agreement with the IMF.
Besides, the government followed many of the old practices of the previous regime, despite the fact that the Muslim Brotherhood criticized these during their protests against Mubarak. The Islamists, believing they held the highest power because they had the majority in the Legislative, rushed in to conquer all possible spaces without taking into account the other colors in the political-ideological-confessional Egyptian rainbow. They should not have underestimated this, even more so when their victory in the May June
2012 elections was by a small margin.
Now, the Armed Forces that say they are on the side of the people -whom they massacred during the revolts against Mubarak in January and February 2011- and on the side of the Mubarak followers, the right, the liberals, the secular and even the left, proclaim they will build a Government of national unity in Egypt.
So said Mansour, and at the same time, a wave of arrests and prohibitions to abandon the country was launched against Islamist leaders. The followers of Morsi -and some of his opponents- who are unhappy with the coup d’état, promised to keep protesting until constitutional order is restored and, therefore, are victims of Army repression. There are already thirty dead and hundreds wounded.
The situation in Egypt is very far from the path to stability. The Islamist forces will not remain idle after having conquered political power through elections; something that had been forbidden to them for 80 years during which they were illegal. A campaign of harassment and persecution will be fatal for the democratic state the people demand.
And the popular movement must remember that accepting the military as guardians of the transition process after the fall of Mubarak was a mistake. Far from safeguarding the defended aspirations, they usurped the executive power. And before that, they had tortured and murdered those that in the anti-Mubarak revolts which called for a different Egypt.