Category Archives: Egypt

CP of Turkey: The People of Egypt will defeat both U.S. imperialism and Egyptian capitalists

Standard

TKP: The People of Egypt will defeat both the US imperialism and Egyptian capitalists

The Communist Party of Turkey issued a statement on the fall of Mohamed Morsi. The party emphasized that because the people could not create a real alternative, pro-American General Sisi has took the power. The TKP also claimed that the new-Ottoman dream of AKP has come to an end.

The statement made by the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Turkey (TKP) entitled“The people of Egypt, who have defeated the dictators, sooner or later will defeat the USA and the capitalists as well” is below:

“In Egypt the people shook the rule of pro-American Mubarek.

However, the people of Egypt could not create a popular alternative to the dictatorship of Mubarek. The USA and the conservative capitalists of Egypt, who considered that an Islamist government would serve their regional plans better, created their alternative. Thus, Mohamed Morsi, the leader of the Muslim Brotherhood and a close friend of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, took the power.

People did not accept the reactionary dictatorship of Morsi. They took over the streets again and shook also the rule of Morsi. But again people were not able to create a real alternative of their own.

The USA realized that there is no way to fit Egypt into the model of “moderate Islam”, which was applied by the Muslim Brotherhood.Then, in order to control the peoples’ movement and protect the American intereststhe USA encouraged the Egyptian army to intervene.

In the end, pro-American Morsi has left and been replaced by pro-American general Sisi (and his civilian friends).

The people of Egypt, who have been successful in overthrowing the dictators, could not open the way of real freedom.

In Egypt the looser is the Muslim Brotherhood, which is following the same line with that of Turkey’s Erdoğan. The people’s movement in Egypt has shown that this way is a dead-end. This is an important political gain. The fall of the dictatorship of Morsi is the fall of the pro-American moderate Islam and the Neo-Ottoman dreams of Erdoğan and Davutoğlu.

But for a real victory, the people of Egypt should unite around a true revolutionary program and get rid of their pro-American seculars, pro-American Islamists and pro-American liberals.

We know that the struggle of the people will not end here. The toiling masses will certainly build a free and equal order, thus the plans of the opportunist imperialists will fail.

The people of Turkey should learn from what happened in Egypt. The dictatorship of AKP will not last long. But this is not enough. People have to organize, and create an alternative to Erdoğan through a revolutionary program. They should not allow local Mubareks and Sisis to take power.”

Source

Advertisements

PFLP praises Egyptian decision to end gas exports to Israel

Standard

The following statement below was originally published by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine

April 26, 2012

The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine saluted the Egyptian decision to cease exporting gas to the Zionist entity, saying that this decision reflects the will of the Egyptian people and its strength, expressing great hope that this is a final and irreversible decision.

Furthermore, the PFLP hoped that the Egyptian people will develop this further and once again expel the Zionist ambassador from Egypt, the land of revolution, honor and dignity.

Comrade Abu Ahmad Fuad, member of the Political Bureau of the PFLP, said that this decision is the result of the uprising, struggle and sacrifices of the Egyptian people, a demand that has been shouted time and again from the mouths of protesters and echoed across the land of Egypt. He considered that this decision is the beginning of a process of the fall of Camp David, the agreement that has caused great damage to Egypt and the Arab nation as a whole, whose serious effects and implications continue to this day.

He said that the entire Palestinian people, the Arab nation, and Islamic peoples look upon this act with appreciation and optimism that sister Egypt can return to play a leading role in the nation and achieve its full objectives of liberation, independence and democracy on the way to liberating all of Palestinian land and freeing all of the Arab world from occupation. Comrade Fuad said he hoped to soon see the day of cancelling the Camp David Accords with the Zionist enemy as well as the full abolition of the humiliating Oslo agreement, which has been one of Camp David’s results.

Another slap in the face for imperialism and zionism by Egyptian SCAF?

Standard

The following excerpt below was originally published on the Sons of Malcolm news blog: 

By Sukant Chandan
April 22, 2012

Thousands of Egyptians demonstrating in solidarity to the Palestinian struggle against the Zionist state at the Egypt-Gaza border.

This story is just breaking, but it seems it could only have been the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) in Egypt, who are running Egypt, that could have done this.

If this is the case, then as I have been arguing for a while, in the absence of any serious anti-imperialist force in Egypt that can take the nation in such a direction, SCAF remains the surest bet for maintaining an independent nation. Protecting its independence and unity of the nation is a profound challenge seeing that division and violent destabilisation is what imperialism wants for the states of the Global South.

What I am not saying is that SCAF are some kind of wonderful socially progressive consistent anti-imperialist force. No, but nevertheless in the mess which is Egypt, and in the mess which is the region currently, they are not pro-imperialists but protectors, however problematic, of Egypt’s national integrity and I think many if not most Egyptians would probably agree with that.

Last friday the Muslim Brotherhood held a sizeable protest at Tahrir Square asserting that ‘SCAF and the usa are one hand’, which is interesting as it’s obvious that actually the Muslim Brotherhood and the usa are much closer to each other. Having meetings with John McCain and other elements in the most right-wing and militaristic elements of the usa ruling class supports this. So perhaps this latest move by SCAF is in part an answer to the Egyptian, Arab and people across the world that they are nothing of the sort, but rather they have plenty of latent anti-zionist and anti-imperialist vigour on their part.

Anti-imperialist and progressive and socialist forces in Egypt are just to weak, and trying to make out they are larger than they are, as many dogmatic leftists are doing, is playing with danger. The main political forces are the liberals and the islamists, both are choice political actors for imperialism. At the moment it seems that imperialism prefers a Muslim Brotherhood state over a Egyptian state run by SCAF.

It should be borne in mind that although SCAF have been in collaboration with imperialism for several decades, largely due to the balance of forces in the region and world, they have a strong nationalist tendency, and have engaged in some of the most important revolutionary upheavals in modern Arab history under the leadership of Gamam Abdel Nasser. It is a point worth bearing in mind whatever the problems with these states (and there are important differences between them) Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Syria have been secular states which have not been borne out of empire, as the Gulf regimes have, but have been borne out of anti-imperialist struggle. It is no coincidence that in Tunisia with the regime change against Ben Ali, that we are seeing the rise of pro-empire islamists who are promoting Tunis as a launch pad for counter-revolution throughout the region, evidenced by them hosting the Friends of NATO conference (they call it ‘Friends of Syria’) just a few months ago.

We have not seen SCAF in Egypt play the same counter-revolutionary role, rather SCAF have slapped back imperialism many a time since the downfall of Muburak, and if this latest development is true, than here’s another big slap in the face of imperialism and zionism.

Currently, without any other real social forces for anti-imperialism and anti-zionism in Egypt, SCAF remain the primary ally of the patriotic and anti-imperialist struggle in the country. While the MB islamists and others in power in Tunisia and throughout the region who are riding NATO bomber wings are facilitating the enemy throughout the region and protecting the Gulf regimes, Egypt refuses to be a base for overthrowing Syria, Iran etc, rather it seems its a bulwark against imperialism’s rolling regime-change machine in the region.

SCAF’s admission of an Iranian war ship through the Suez shortly after the exit of Muburak was a clear message to imperialism and zionism that although the west may have got rid of their man (Mubarak) that SCAF should not be considered a push over, and will not collaborate with the empire’s plans for the region. Much more to say on the issue, but no doubt SCAF will be raising further eye brows in the coming period.

The Washington – “Moderate Islam” Alliance: Containing Rebellion Defending Empire

Standard

December 12, 2011

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton shaking hands with Libya Interim Prime Minister Mahmoud Jibril.

The dynamic of democratic, nationalist and class struggles throughout the Moslem world has set in motion a new constellation of alliances between the imperial West (US and European Union) and Islamist parties, leaders and regimes, dubbed “moderate” by US officials, propagandists and academics.

This essay analyzes the changing contemporary context of imperial domination, especially the demise of longstanding client regimes. It then examines the previous significant ties between western imperial powers and Islamist movements and regimes and the basis of ‘historical collaboration’.

The third part of the paper will outline the political circumstances in which the imperial powers embrace “moderate” Islamists in government and utilize “armed fundamentalists” in opposition to secular regimes. We will critically analyze how “moderate” Islam is defined by the Western imperialist powers. Is this a tactical or strategic alliance? What are the political “trade-offs”? What do imperialism’s neo-liberal clients and their new ‘moderate’ Muslim allies have in common and how do they differ?

In conclusion we will evaluate the viability of this alliance and its capacity to contain and deflect the popular democratic movements and repress the burgeoning class and national struggles, especially in regard to the ‘obstacles’ posed by the Israel-US-Zionist ties and the continued IMF policies which promise to worsen the crises in the Muslim countries.

The Transition from Neo-Liberal Client Rulers to Power-Sharing with Moderate Islamists

The key motivation in Washington’s and the European imperial troika’s (England, France and Germany) embrace of what their press and officialdom hail as “moderate” Islamist parties has been the collapse or weakening of their long-term client rulers. Faced with the ouster of Mubarak, in Egypt, Ali in Tunisia and Saleh in Yemen, mass protests in Morocco and Algeria, the US-EU turned to conservative Muslim leaders who were willing to work within the existing state institutional framework (including the army and state police), uphold the capitalist order and align with the empire against anti-imperial movements and states. In Egypt, the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) (the political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood), in Tunisia the Renaissance Party, in Morocco the Justice and Development Party have all indicated their willingness to serve as reliable partners in blocking the pro-democracy movements that challenge the socio-economic status quo and the long-standing military-imperial linkages.

The Islamist collaborators are called “moderate and respectable” because they agree to participate in elections within the boundaries of the established political and economic order; they have dropped any criticism of imperial and colonial treaties and trade agreements signed by the previous client regions – including ones which collaborate with Israel’s colonization of Palestine.

Equally important “moderate” means supporting imperial wars against nationalist and secular Arab republics, such as Syria and Libya, and isolating and/or repressing class based trade unions and secular-left parties.

“Moderate” Islamists have become the Empire’s ‘contraceptive of choice’ against any chance the massive Arab peoples’ revolt might give birth to substantive egalitarian social changes and bring those brutal pro- western officials, responsible for so many crimes against humanity, to justice.

The West and their client officials in the military and police have agreed to a kind of “power-sharing’ with the moderate/respectable (read ‘reactionary’) Islamist parties. The Islamists would be responsible for imposing orthodox economic policies and re-establishing ‘order’ (i.e. bolstering the existing one) in partnership with pro-multinational bank economists and pro US-EU generals and security officials. In exchange the Islamists could take certain ministries, appoint their members, finance electoral clientele among the poor and push their ‘moderate’ religious, social and cultural agenda. Basically, the elected Islamists would replace the old corrupt dictatorial regimes in running the state and signing off on more free trade agreements with the EU. Their role would keep the leftists, nationalists and populists out of power and from gaining mass support. Their job would substitute spiritual solace and “inner worth” via Islam in place of redistributing land, income and power from the elite, including the foreign multi-nationals to the peasants, workers, unemployed and exploited low-paid employees.

Why the Empire Arms Fundamentalist Anti-Secular Muslims

While the US and EU have backed respectable “moderate Islam” in heading off a popular upheaval of the young and unemployed, in other contexts they have enlisted violent, fundamentalist Islamic terrorists to overthrow secular independent anti-imperialists regimes – like Libya, Syria – just as they had done earlier in Afghanistan and Yugoslavia. The US, Qatar and the European troika financed and armed Libyan fundamentalist militias and then engaged in a murderous eight months air and sea assault to ensure their client’s ‘victory’ over the secular Gaddafi regime. Fresh from NATO’s success, the US, the European ‘Troika’ and Turkey, with the backing of the League of Arab collaborator princes and emirs, have financed a violent Muslim Brotherhood insurrection in Syria, intent on destroying the nationalist economy and modern secular state.

The US and EU have openly unleashed their fundamentalists allies in order to destroy independent adversaries in the name of “democracy” and ‘humanitarian intervention’, a laughable claim in light of decade long colonial wars of occupation in Iraq and Afghanistan. All target regimes have one crime in common: Using their national resources to develop modern secular states – independent of imperial dictates.

NATO implements its campaigns through conservative ‘moderate’ or armed fundamentalist Islamist movements depending on the specific needs, circumstances and range of options in any given target nation. With the fall of pro-Empire ‘secular dictatorships’ in Egypt and Tunisia, pliable conservative Islamist leaders are the fall back “lesser evil”. When the opportunity to overthrow an independent secular or nationalist regime arises, armed and violent fundamentalist mercenaries become the political vehicle of choice.

As with European empires in the past, the modern Western imperial countries have relied on retrograde religious parties and leaders to collaborate and serve their economic and military interests and to provide mercenaries for imperial armies to savage any anti-imperialist social revolutionaries. In that sense US and European rulers are neither ‘pro nor anti’ Islam, it all depends on their national and class position. Islamists who collaborate with Empire are “moderate” allies and if they attack an anti-imperialist regime, they become ‘freedom fighters’. On the other hand, they become “terrorists” or “fundamentalists” when they oppose imperial occupation, pillage or colonial settlements.

Contemporary History of Islamist-Imperial Collaboration

The historical record of western imperial expansion reveals many instances of collaboration and cooptation as well as conflict with Islamist regimes, movements and parties. In the early 1960’s the CIA backed a brutal military coup against the secular Indonesian nationalist regime of Sukarno, and encouraged their puppet dictator General Suharto to unleash Muslim militia in a veritable “holy war” exterminating nearly one million leftist trade unionists, school teachers, students, farmers, communists or suspected sympathizers and their family members. The horrific ‘Jakarta Option’ became a model for CIA operations elsewhere. In Yugoslavia the US and Europe promoted and financed fundamentalists Muslims in Bosnia, importing mujahedeen who would later form part of Al Qaida, and then backed the Kosovo Liberation Army, a known terrorist organization, in order to completely break-up and ethnically ‘cleanse’ a modern secular multi-national state – going so far as to have Americans and NATO bomb Belgrade for the first time since the Nazis in the Second World War.

During President Carter’s administration, the CIA joined with Saudi Arabia’s ruling royalty, providing billions of dollars in arms and military supplies to Afghan Muslim fundamentalists in their brutal but successful Jihad overthrowing a modern, secular nationalist regime backed by the USSR. The murderous fate of school teachers and educated women in the aftermath was quickly covered up.

Needless to say, wherever US imperialism faces leftists or secular, modernizing anti-imperialist regimes, Washington turns to retrograde Islamic leaders willing and able to destroy the progressive regime in return for imperialist support. Such coalitions are built mainly around fundamentalist and moderate Islamist opposition to secular, class- based politics allied with the Empire’s hostility to any anti-imperialist challenge to its domination..

The same ‘coalition’ of Islamists and the Empire has been glaringly obvious during the NATO assault on Libya and continues against Syria: The Muslims provide the shock troops on the ground; NATO provides the aerial bombing, funds, arms, sanctions, embargoes and propaganda.

These Islamist-Imperialist coalitions are usually temporary, based on a common secular or nationalist enemy and not on any common strategic interest. After the defeat of a secular anti-imperialist regime, militant Muslims may find themselves attacked by the colonial neo-liberal regime most favored by the imperial west. This happened in Afghanistan and elsewhere after the overseas Islamist fighters (Afghan Arabs) returned to their own neo-colonized, collaborating home countries, like Saudi Arabia, Algeria and Egypt and elsewhere.

Contemporary History of Islamist-Imperial Conflict

The relation between Islamist regimes and imperialism is complex, changing and full of examples of bloody conflict.

The US backed the “modernizing” free market dictatorship of the Shah in Iran, overthrowing the nationalist Mosaddegh regime. They provided arms and intelligence for the Savak, the Shah’s monstrous secret police as it hunted down and murdered tens of thousands of nationalist-Islamists and leftist resistance fighters and critics in Iran and abroad. The rise to power of the fundamentalist-anti-imperialist Khomeini regime fueled US armed attacks and provoked retaliatory moves: Iran backed and financed anti-colonial Islamist groups in Lebanon (Hezbollah), Palestine (Hamas) and Iraq (the Shia parties).

Subsequent to 9/11 the US invaded and overthrew the Islamist Taliban regime, re-colonized the country, establishing a puppet regime under US-European auspices. The Taliban and allied Islamist and nationalist resistance fighters organized and established a mass guerrilla army which has engaged in a decade long war with armed support from Pakistani Islamist forces responding to US military incursions.

In Palestine, Washington, under the overweening control of Israel’s Zionist fifth column, has armed and financed Israel’s war against the popularly elected Palestinian Islamist Hamas government in Gaza. Washington’s total commitment to the Jewish state and its colonial expansion and usurpation of Palestinian (Muslim and Christian) lands and property in Jerusalem and elsewhere reflects the profound and pervasive influence of the Zionist power configuration throughout the US political system .They secure 90% votes in Congress, pledges of allegiance from the White House, and senior appointments in Treasury, State Department and the Pentagon.

What determines whether the US Empire will have a collaborative or conflict-ridden relation with Islam depends on the specific political context. The US allies with Islamists when faced with nationalist, leftist and secular democratic regimes and movements, especially where their optimal choice, a military-neo-liberal alternative is relatively weak. However, faced with anationalist, anti-colonial Islamist regime (as is the case of the Islamic Republic of Iran), Washington will side with pro-western liberals, dissident Muslim clerics, pliable tribal chiefs, separatist ethnic minorities and pro-Western generals.

The key to US-Islamist relations from the White House perspective is based on the Islamists’ attitude toward empire, class politics, NATO and the “free market” (private foreign investment).

Today’s ‘moderate’ Islamist parties in Tunisia, Egypt, Turkey, Morocco (and elsewhere), which have offered their support to NATO and its wars against Libya and Syria, uphold ‘private property’ (i.e. foreign and imperialist client control of key industries) and repress independent working class and anti-imperialist parties: They are the Empire’s “new partners” in the pillage of the resource-rich Middle East and North Africa.

The US-brokered counter-revolutionary alliance among moderate Islamists, the previous military rulers and Washington is fraught with tensions. The military demands total impunity and a continuation of its economic privileges; this includes a veto on any legislation addressing the previous regime’s brutal crimes against its own people. On the other hand, the Islamist parties uphold their electoral victories and demand majority rule. Washington insists the alliance adhere to its policy toward Israel and abandon their support for the Palestinian national struggle. As these tensions and conflicts deepen, the alliance could collapse ushering in a new phase of conflict and instability.

Emblematic of “moderate Islamiist” collaboration with US-EU imperialism is the role of Qatar, home to the ‘respectable’ Arabic media giant, Al-Jazeera, and the demagogic Qatari “spiritual guide” Sheik Youssef al-Qaradawi. Sheik Youssef quotes the Koran and Islamic moral principles in defense of NATO’s 8-month aerial bombing of Libya, which killed over 50,000 pro-regime Libyans (themselves Muslims). He calls for armed imperial intervention in Syria to overthrow the secular Assad regime, a position he shares comfortably with the state of Israel. He urges the “moderate Islamists” in Egypt and Tunisia to cease any criticism of the existing economic order, ( see “Spiritual guide steers Arabs to moderation”, Financial Times, December 9, 2011 – p5). In a word, this respectable Muslim cleric is NATO’s perfect Koran-quoting “moderate Islamist” partner – a dream come true.

The Strategic Utility of “Moderate” Islamist Parties

Islamist parties are approached by the Empire’s policy elites only when they have a mass following and can therefore weaken any popular, nationalist insurgency. Mass-based Islamist parties serve the empire by providing “legitimacy”, by winning elections and by giving a veneer of respectability to the pro-imperial military and police apparatus retained in place from the overthrown client state dictatorships.

The Islamist parties compete at the “grass roots” with the leftists. They build up a clientele of supporters among the poor in the countryside and urban slums through organized charity and basic social services administered at the mosques and humanitarian religious foundations. Because they reject class struggle and are intensely hostile to the left (with its secular, pro-feminist and working-class agenda), they have been ‘half-tolerated’ by the dictatorship, while the leftist activists are routinely murdered. Subsequently, with the overthrow of the dictatorship, the Islamists emerge intact with the strongest national organizational network as the country’s ‘natural leaders’ from the religious-bazaar merchant political elite. Their leaders offer to serve the empire and its traditional native military collaborators in exchange for a ‘slice of power’, especially over morality, culture, religion and households (women), in other words, the “micro-society”.

For their part, they offer to marginalize and undermine the left, anti-imperialist secular democrats in the streets. In the face of mass popular rebellion calling into question the imperial order, a ‘moderate’ Islamist-imperial partnership is a ‘heavenly deal’ praised in Washington, Paris or London (as well as Riyadh and Tel Aviv).

Conclusion: How Viable is the Imperial-Islamic Coalition?

Those who thought that the spontaneous pro-democracy movements spelled the end of the imperial order left out the role of organized “moderate” Islamist electoral parties as able collaborators of Empire. The brutally repressed mass mobilization of unemployed youth was no match for the well-funded grass roots community organization of the moderate Islamists. This is especially true when politics shifted from the street to the ballot box, a process that the Islamist parties facilitated. In the absence of a mass revolutionary party, seeking state power, the existing military-police state was able to work around the mass protesters and put together a power sharing agreement at least in the short-run.

In the November 2011 elections, the radical Egyptian Islamist party, Nour, gathered one-quarter of the vote in Cairo and Alexandria. Their showing was even higher among the urban poor districts, which promises even greater support among poor rural constituencies in the coming elections. Essentially a Salafist Islamist party, Nour, unlike the Muslim Brotherhood, combined denunciations of class abuses and elite corruption with mass appeals to a return to a mythic harmonious life. They used effective grass roots organizing around basic services in order to gain a greater proportion of the working class vote than all the leftist parties combined. Nour’s message of “class retribution against the …abuses of Egypt’s elite fueledNour’s new found popularity”, (Financial Times December 10, 2011 p6).

Despite the successes of the Islamist-Imperial partnership, the world economic crises and especially the growing unemployment and misery in the Arab countries will make it difficult for the ‘respectable moderate’ Islamists to stabilize their societies. They are inextricably constrained by their alliances to function within the confines of the ‘orthodox neo-liberal framework’ imposed by the Empire. For that reason, the “moderate” Islamists will try to co-opt some secular liberals, social democrats and even a few leftists as ‘minority partners’, so that they won’t be held solely responsible for dashing the expectations of the poor in their countries.

The fact of the matter is that the pro-imperial Islamist parties have absolutely no answer to the current crises: Charities delivered from the mosque during the dictatorship won them mass support; now more austerity programs imposed from their ministerial posts will certainly alienate and infuriate their mass base. What will follow depends on who is best organized: Liberals are limited to media campaigns and tied to economic orthodoxy; the leftists have to advance from protest movements in the downtown squares to organized political units operating in popular neighborhoods, workplaces, markets, villages and slums. Otherwise radical fundamentalist, like the Salafists, will exploit the people’s outrage with moderate Islamist betrayals and promote their own version of a closed clerical society, opposing the West while repressing the Left.

The US and EU may have ‘temporarily’ avoided revolution by accommodating electoral reforms and adapting to alliances with “moderate” Islamists, but their ongoing military interventions and their own growing economic crisis will simply postpone a more decisive conflict in the near future.

Source

Video: The Egyptian rebellion continues

Standard

Egyptian socialists: ‘Revolution has just begun’

Standard

By Ted Walker
October 30, 2011

Tahrir Square, May.

In September, Green Left Weekly spoke to Mamdouh Habashi and Dr Muhammad Hesham, members of the Egyptian Socialist Party (ESP), about developments in Egypt since the popular uprising overthrew dictator Hosni Mubarak on February 11.

The ESP is one of several new parties formed since Mubarak’s ouster. A longer version of this interview can be found at ThawraEyewitness.blogspot.com.

* * *

What is the role of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF, who has been in power since Mubarak’s ousting)?

Mamdouh Habashi: After getting rid of Mubarak, this uprising was without a head. So we had to accept this new leadership of the military government ― there was no other possibility.

The revolutionary forces were not able to form a counter-leadership, so we had to accept the army regime ― although we know the army leadership is a big part of the old regime. We have no illusions about that.

Thanks to the United States’ US$1.3 billion of annual aid to the military, we have quite a big part of the economy ruled by the army leadership. Their task now is not defending the country, but operating in the building industry, agriculture, tourism industry; they are involved in every sector.

They have become a part of the ruling class. Their goal is keeping as much as possible of the old structures.

But the masses must learn this by their own experience. And positive perceptions of the military have begun to shift due to the attitudes of the SCAF in many situations since February 11.

The demands of the revolution have been formulated very clearly, but the military council just plays with them. Everything achieved since then was only achieved under pressure.

What do you think of the incident in the Sinai in which Israel killed six Egyptian soldiers, and the storming of the Israeli Embassy on September 9 in response?

Muhammad Hesham: The ESP is not in favour of violent action. But at the same time, if people cannot see some sort of change, you cannot blame them for their reactions.

It’s not about a conflict of religion between Muslims and Jews, but about Israel as a state based on discrimination. Some Islamists think in terms of a religious war, but people in general do not.

And when the incident in the Sinai occured, the people expected the government to take action and condemn Israel, withdraw the Egyptian ambassador, complain to the UN ― anything.

But the government did nothing. So people’s anger is quite justified.

What role is the ESP playing in the revolutionary process?

Habashi: We consider the uprising of January 25 not the revolution, but just the start of a new, long revolutionary tide.
We have a new revolutionary wave that could take many years.

Therefore, we don’t look to the next elections as the end of the revolution, as the SCAF and many other political forces try to convince people.

But the government created by the next elections will not be the only force with legitimacy. Our task is to create a new legitimacy, a parallel and revolutionary legitimacy.

The new parliament will be comprised of those who have money ― which is not the left, and especially not the left forces formed after the uprising! The forces with money are the Mubarakists without Mubarak, who are still in power and adapting themselves to the new situation.

They are the Egyptian capitalists, with or against the Mubarakists, and also the Islamists, with all of their shadow parties.

They all have something in common ― they are not with the revolution. They do not want a radical change in policy. They reduce the demands of the revolution to this ridiculous word, “corruption”. They pretend that, if we eliminate corruption, everything will be fine.

This is a deception, because corruption is an element in capitalism, which cannot function without it. The main issue is not corruption but the policies that lead to it and to the crisis we are living in.

Hesham: We have started building the party immediately after the revolution; now we have more than 1000 members. We expect this number to increase in the coming months; we are organising activities ― conferences, seminars, etc ― in different governorates, and we have branches now in places such as Mansoura, Aswan, Luxor and Alexandria.

Our aim is to grow to at least 3000 members by the end of the year.

Who supports these counter-revolutionary forces?

Habashi: The counter-revolutionary forces are quite organised and powerful, with very strong financial backing. They are supported by three main powers abroad ― the United States, Israel and Saudi Arabia.

The US wants to keep Egypt inside the imperialist enclosure of neoliberal policies and dependency on the global North, as it was.

Israel and Saudi Arabia are just the hands of the US in the region ― although they have their own agendas, because, if Egypt stands up, they will not have any room to move.

Independent union activity has been increasing outside the formal state-controlled unions. How has the ESP related to this?

Hesham: We have members involved in union activity. There are different left groups working to organise independent trade unions, and now more than 150 have been established.

A considerable number of our new members are working in independent unions. But still we have a lot of work to do ― many factories still have no unions, in many places workers are still deprived of this right. Left parties are working hard on this.

We have lots of legal problems. We are struggling for a new law to recognise the freedom of unions.

Some independent unions have formal registration and are working legally, but others have yet to gain legal status. The situation of these unions is fragile ― we can face sanctions or harassment for working in these unions.

What other issues has the ESP been campaigning around?

Hesham: One campaign is for economic rights, especially for people in informal settlements.

Cairo is surrounded by at least 26 regions defined by the authorities as very dangerous areas to live. This problem affects between 12 million and 15 million people across Egypt.

In 2008 there was a landslide in the settlement of Al-Duwayqa, which left more than 100 people dead, as well as thousands made homeless. Many of these people have still not been offered any housing or any sort of compensation.

A group of young people are raising awareness among inhabitants of their rights to housing, health and other human rights. We are also encouraging these people to form their own organisations to defend their rights.

There was a series of demonstrations and the strikes by the people of these settlements in August, which we took part in.

We are also working for women’s rights. The ESP is in favour of complete equality between men and women in all areas. We cannot think of a socialist society without the elimination of all forms of discrimination.

The Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamists say they support women’s rights, but they are against women owning posessions, for example, and think of women as inferior and subordinate to men.

The Law of Nationality and the Law of Personal Issues discriminate against women, and we want to see radical changes to these. But again, the Muslim Brotherhood are against any kind of change to these.

One of the good sides of the revolution has been the active participation of women ― young people, housewives, all different ages and backgrounds.

We also have a special section of our platform dedicated to serious environmental problems. This is a global issue that requires co-ordinated action, but we also face specific problems here in Egypt.

In a city like Cairo, it’s not confined to air pollution, but one that impacts on every citizen’s wellbeing through issues such as garbage collection and access to clean water.

Such problems are felt most in the informal settlements. The ESP also has members working on specific issues such as clean, safe energy.

In September, students and staff went on strike at the American University of Cairo. What is the state of political activism on campuses in Egypt?

Hesham: Since 2005, there has been a strong movement growing for university independence from both government and the security forces. Since January 25, three or four main groups have been co-operating on different universities. On September 11, there was a protest called by these groups and 5000 people marched to cabinet headquarters and met with the prime minister and the SCAF.

The demands were to get rid of all officials appointed under Mubarak ― directors and deans, etc ― and improve the situations of academics and of general staff. But they refuse to make any radical changes ― in the universities or other fields.

SCAF do not respond unless they are under pressure. So a general strike in all universities was organised for October 1. There was also a call for a general strike in schools.

We expect other sectors of society to join too. There have been recent strikes by doctors in some hospitals, for example, and they are prepared for more activities.

The SCAF wants to limit reforms to the minimum, which, in return, leads to much anger. We expect more confrontations in the future.

The ESP and other left forces recently formed the Coalition of Socialist Forces. Is this just for the elections or for broader joint work?

Habashi: Election coalitions must be differentiated from social fronts, which are long-acting, deeper in the society and have clear demands and legitimacy.

The elections are a battle, but not the most decisive one. The next parliament and government will not be able to solve any of the country’s problems.

There are some theoretical differences between the left forces, but these are not the main issue. You cannot expect that, after 60 years of dictatorship, the left will just at once unite!

Unification will also be a process that comes from working together. The ideological differences show up in the means of approaching political questions ― for example, how to face the elections.

There will be a process of creating a parallel legitimacy besides that of the parliament and it will take years.

Hesham: When it comes to battles, such as the parliament elections or opposing the Islamists, we have tried to find common ground for work. We have issued many joint statements on events with other leftist groups, in Alexandria especially.

And we are now looking to carry out joint work around the reimposing of the emergency law, which was lifted for a very short time. The military council is seeking to impose it more broadly.

There is another law, too, introduced after February 11, against demonstrations and strikes ― that we are struggling to change.

No single force can face all these challenges alone.

We have helped each other through joint work. For instance, we have problems finding offices ― all of the leftists groups are very poor ― so we solve this problem by finding offices for several groups. This is happening in Alexandria, Mansoura and many other places.

It is the dream to create one unified left party, but unity developed too quickly, without a proper base, might not be sustainable.

Source

Egyptians break into Israeli embassy in Cairo, burns Israeli flag

Standard

September 10, 2011

Security forces used tear gas after Egyptian protesters stormed the Israeli embassy on Friday night. (EPA)

Israel’s embassy in Cairo has been stormed by protesters who tore down one of the outer embassy walls and threw thousands of documents from the embassy’s windows.

The angry Egyptians also replaced the neighbouring country’s flag with their own after breaking in on Friday night.

In response, the Egyptian prime minister summoned the cabinet crisis team to discuss the situation, and the interior ministry declared a state of alert.

Hundreds of Egyptian soldiers backed by armoured cars were rushed to the embassy district and clashed with the protesters who torched police trucks and attacked regional police headquarters nearby.

Protesters played cat-and-mouse with police throughout the night, amid clouds of tear gas and smoke from burning tyres.

The group that swarmed the embassy had left a mass rally at nearby Tahrir Square, where organised protesters called for reforms by the military, which now governs Egypt.

“Thousands of documents were being thrown out of the windows, but it’s unclear which floor they were coming from,” our correspondent Sherine Tadros said.

Chaotic scenes

Egyptian protesters burning an Israeli flag.

“Indications are that it’s pretty much a chaotic situation. Protesters set on fire two police vehicles.”

Just past 3am local time on Saturday, the Egyptian health ministry said there had officially been 520 injuries as a result of clashes around the embassy. An earlier report said one person had died of a heart attack.

Nora Shalaby, a protester outside Israel’s embassy, justified the protesters’ actions.

“I think this is the only way we can get our point across,

“Here we still have lots of tear gas. There’s rubber bullets. They’re basically attacking us from all sides,” she said, reffering to government security forces.

A few hours later, our correspondent said that the Egyptian military stepped in to work with police to quell protests.

“The military is actually starting to fire live ammunition into the air.

“Once again, protesters are trying to storm the [Egyptian] security headquarters.

“As far as we understand these protesters are unarmed, they’ve been there for hours,” Sherine Tadros said.

State television quoted an interior ministry official as saying that “foreign hands” were behind the violence. Egypt’s rulers often blame foreigners for unrest in the country.

Flight of Israeli envoy

Israel’s ambassador, Yitzhak Levanon, his family and other embassy staff rushed to Cairo airport and left on a plane for Israel, Egyptian state television and airport officials said.

The state television also reported that ambassador Levanon met with a general of the ruling military’s Supreme Council of the Armed Forces before his departure, and that the ambassador appeared “anxious and even scared.”

Levanon had only recently come back to Cairo from vacation in Israel as protests raged outside the embassy since last month.

US President Barack Obama was first to react, calling on Egypt to protect the embassy and “to honor its international obligations to safeguard the security of the Israeli Embassy.”

A White House statement said that “the President expressed his great concern about the situation at the embassy, and the security of the Israelis serving there”.

The statement said that Obama spoke by telephone to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the two agreed “to stay in close touch until the situation is resolved.”

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also called Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohamed Kamel Amr to urge Egypt to meet its Vienna Convention obligations to protect diplomatic property, a senior State Department official said.

Embassy wall damaged

The incident began with around 1,000 people attacking a wall recently built outside the Israeli embassy in Cairo to protect the building.

Using hammers and a large metal bar, the protesters managed to partially destroyed the wall, about two metres high.

One protester clambered up the embassy building and removed the flag, throwing it down to the rapturous crowd below.

Last month, Egyptians staged huge protests outside the embassy and called for the expulsion of the Israeli ambassador over the border deaths of Egyptian policemen killed as Israel hunted a group of attackers.

Egypt has asked Israel for an official apology and demanded a probe into the deaths of the five policemen.

Source

Egypt’s Communist Party advocates unified revolutionary body

Standard

July 28, 2011

The Egyptian Communist Party suggested Thursday the formation of a unified body of revolutionary forces responsible for managing demonstrations.

The party said in a statement the body would “take decisions collectively and coordinate with revolutionary forces, as well as agree on a road map to specify objectives, forms and appropriate methods of protest.”

The party’s idea for protest oversight comes as an ongoing sit-in in Tahrir Square has drawn the ire of some of the public as it has paralyzed Cairo’s main square since 8 July.

The party’s statement statement emphasized the need to continue all forms of peaceful struggle to achieve the revolution’s demands, but said it is not possible to achieve all the demands simultaneously.

During Friday’s protests, revolution activists plan to denounce a military council statement accusing opposition forces of receiving foreign funds to destabilize the country.

Islamic forces including Salafis and the Muslim Brotherhood said they will stage a protest in support of the military council’s efforts to maintain stability during the transition phase.

The statement said the Communist Party aims to reach consensus with other parties regarding principles that will guide the constituent body responsible for drafting a new constitution.

Source

Violent clashes erupt in Egyptian capital

Standard

July 23, 2011

Many Egyptians worry that their "revolution" has stalled under the military council's assumption of power.

Dozens of people have reportedly been injured in clashes between groups of armed men and pro-reform protesters marching towards Egypt’s ministry of defence in the capital, Cairo.

Thousands calling for the “downfall” of the country’s ruling military council were trying to reach the military headquarters on Saturday when they were attacked by opponents armed with knives and sticks.

Witnesses said most of the injuries occurred when civilians, believed to be thugs, standing in front of military blockades hurled barrages of stones and at least six firebombs at demonstrators. The demonstrators fought back with stones torn up from the pavement.

Al Jazeera’s Ayman Mohyeldin, reporting from Cairo, confirmed that “people with knives, sticks and petrol bombs surrounded the peaceful protesters” and assaulted them with their weapons.

“The situation is extremely tense, the military has used tear gas and fired into the air to push back crowds.”

He also said that besides firing warning shots, the military did not intervene in the clashes.

“But they seem to have melted away from the scene. The military is nowhere to be seen compared to just moments ago they were widely present in the streets.”

Ambulances were seen tending to the injured, as an army helicopter flew overhead shining its spotlight into the crowd, the AFP news agency reported.

It is the second time protesters have tried to reach the defence ministry, after a similar attempt was quashed overnight.

Rare violence

The clashes came a day after military police fired shots in the air and beat demonstrators blocking a main road in the Mediterranean city of Alexandria, witnesses said.

Friday’s events were a rare display of violence in two weeks of largely peaceful protests in Alexandria, Cairo and Suez following a court decision to free on bail 10 policemen accused of killing protesters during the uprising that overthrew President Hosni Mubarak in February.

Witnesses told the Reuters news agency that the clash in Alexandria erupted after hundreds of protesters blocking the coastal road near the army’s northern command headquarters refused to leave the area.

More than five months after mass street demonstrations drove Mubarak from power, many Egyptians worry that their “revolution” has stalled under the military council’s assumption of power.

Egypt’s interim rulers have reshuffled Prime Minister Essam Sharaf’s cabinet and promised to speed up trials and political reforms, but thousands kept up protests across Egypt on Friday to back demands for the policemen’s trials to be held soon.

Sharaf, in a speech after his new cabinet was sworn in on Thursday, promised to set up an anti-corruption body and work to scrap a 30-year-old emergency law. He also said the interior minister would appoint a human rights adviser, and human rights and civil society groups would have access to prisons.

But activists said this was not enough.

Source

Video: Egypt prepares for one million march in Tahrir Square

Standard