Egypt – battles to come/FRFI 225 Feb/Mar 2012

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Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! 225 February/March 2012

Hundreds of thousands of Egyptians converged on Cairo’s Tahrir Square on 25 January 2012 to celebrate the anniversary of the start of the uprising that toppled President Mubarak on 11 February 2011, and to demand an immediate end to military rule. Similar demonstrations took place in Suez and Alexandria. Regardless of parliamentary elections, the generals of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) are still in power.

The new parliament is dominated by Islamic parties: the Freedom and Justice Party, tied to the Muslim Brotherhood, won 46% of the seats, and the Salafist Nour Party, funded by Saudi Arabia, won 23%. Parliament must draft a new constitution before June’s presidential elections. The SCAF said it would hand over power in July 2012. However, it has been in negotiations with the Muslim Brotherhood to preserve its powers within the new constitution.

For imperialism the SCAF is the most reliable instrument for dominating Egypt. Since January 2011 it has combined concessions to the masses with lethal force. Prior to 25 January the SCAF released 2,000 prisoners convicted in military courts since Mubarak’s removal, but retained emergency laws to deal with ‘thuggery’. Over 40 people were killed by the Egyptian army and police in November 2011 when they protested against the SCAF’s powers. The British government revoked licences for arms sales to Egypt in March 2011, but by July arms sales were resumed.

The conditions of the Egyptian masses are deteriorating: unemployment and inflation are rising; youth unemployment is over 25%. Foreign investment in Egypt has fallen from $13 billion a year to $8 billion, tourism has declined and foreign currency reserves have halved in a year. In January 2012 the SCAF announced public spending cuts and now it has asked the International Monetary Fund for a $3.2 billion stand-by loan. Egypt’s costs of borrowing are over 15%.

The parliamentary elections showed that, as yet, there is no leadership through which the revolutionary spirit of the Egyptian masses can be channelled to contend for power. But 25 January 2012 showed their spirit will not be extinguished – there are battles to come.

Trevor Rayne