Egypt: the anger explodes/ FRFI 224 December 2011/January 2012

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism 224 December 2011/January 2012

egypt_violenceThe Egyptian masses’ demand for democracy has confronted the Egyptian military command. That command is the main agent of imperialism in Egypt. Having presented itself as on the side of the revolution by getting former President Mubarak to resign on 11 February 2011 and restraining the use of troops, the army is now exposed as a murderous instrument of oppression. After seven days of protests in Cairo, Alexandria, Suez and other Egyptian towns and cities, 41 people have been killed by riot police and soldiers and 2,000 have been injured. 80% of Egypt’s 500,000 soldiers are conscripts. Imperialism – and the generals _ will calculate how reliable they are as the masses mobilise with tremendous determination and courage for an end to military rule. TREVOR RAYNE reports.

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Egypt: revolt maintains momentum against military / FRFI 222 Aug/Sep 2011

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! 222 August/September 2011

Thousand of protestors have regrouped in Cairo’s Tahrir Square and on 15 July held a ‘Friday of final warning’ demonstration against the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF). The SCAF (senior generals) has run Egypt since President Mubarak’s overthrow on 11 February. Demonstrations were mounted in towns across Egypt. Among the protestors demands are an end to military trials of civilians, the immediate trial of Mubarak and other officials, including police officers accused of torturing and attacking demonstrators, and the resignation of the Prime Minister Essam Sharaf. Strikes are banned by the SCAF but have been held by workers in many industries: railways, automobiles, petroleum, airlines and health. Tenant farmers protested against state seizures of their land. Workers threatened to shut the Suez Canal. The SCAF responded by deploying the army.

The SCAF has been forced to make concessions. On 19 July it announced that registration for parliamentary elections will begin on 18 September, with elections six to eight weeks later. Fourteen new ministers were declared, but denounced by demonstrators as a continuation of the old regime. The SCAF said that 700 senior police officers accused of attacking demonstrators would be removed. However, presidential elections have been delayed until next year, leaving the SCAF in charge, and a proportion of parliamentary seats are being allocated, in the fashion of the British House of Lords, to preserve the influence of the wealthy.

The Egyptian and US military commands are in daily contact. Corporate executives and western politicians often visit Cairo. The International Monetary Fund, World Bank and others have pledged loans to the Egyptian state and in exchange the state has announced spending cuts in education, health and housing. The SCAF continues Mubarak’s neo-liberal policies. Inflation is running at 12%. 44% of Egyptians live below the poverty line of $2 a day. A confrontation between the state forces and the mass of Egyptian people seems inevitable.

On 30 June US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced that the US was establishing contacts with the previously outlawed Muslim Brotherhood. The Muslim Brotherhood has distanced itself from the renewed protests. The US will assess it as a potential electoral asset. Since Mubarak’s removal at least 10,000 civilians, including protestors and strikers, have been tried by military tribunals, several thousand are imprisoned. The US and SCAF will try to use the elections to diffuse the revolution’s momentum, and if this fails, calculate if and when they can unleash violent repression to maintain imperialist rule over Egypt.

Trevor Rayne

Egypt / FRFI 220 April/May 2011

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! 220 April/May 2011

Egypt has become a popular destination for western politicians. On 21 February British Prime Minister Cameron became the first western leader to visit Egypt since Mubarak was driven from power on 11 February. Cameron arrived with a coterie of arms dealers, en route for the Middle East, finding time to praise democracy. Before leaving for Cairo, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said, ‘We have an enormous stake in ensuring that Egypt and Tunisia provide models for the kind of democracy we want to see.’ Clinton explained, ‘the more foreign direct investment that we can help to encourage and support, we think will be beneficial for Egyptian people.’ The youthful protesters refused to meet Clinton because of her previous support for Mubarak.

Neo-liberal policies under the Mubarak regime removed workers’ rights, pushed people into poverty and concentrated wealth into the hands of a small minority. 44% of Egypt’s people live below the poverty line of $2 a day. The average The wage of a worker in Egypt is about a third that in Turkey. Between 2004 and 2009 Egypt received $42 billion of foreign capital, with no restrictions on repatriating profits and no taxes on dividends. Cameron and Clinton’s anxieties for the right kind of democracy are understandable.

The Egyptian state is run by the Supreme Military Council (SMC) during a six-month transition to democracy. Parliamentary elections are scheduled for June, with a presidential election in August. No doubt foreign money will play a part in the campaigns. A 19 March referendum on reforming the constitution got a 41% turnout, and of this 77% of the votes were for constitutional amendments.

The SMC issued a decree criminalising strikes and protests that harm business. The US state is in constant contact with Egypt’s military command. The Egyptian military has major investments in assorted industries, dairy and chicken farms, owns bakeries, shopping centres and resorts. For years it received $1.3 billion a year from the US government. The Egyptian military is tied to imperialism and its high command is part of the elite comprador class. For the Egyptian masses the march to democracy must confront the power of the armed forces and their alliance with imperialism. The democratic struggle requires the fight for socialism if it is to progress. Anything else will leave the small privileged class in command who have everything to fear from democracy.

Trevor Rayne

Uprising in Egypt shakes the world /FRFI 219 Feb / Mar 2011

FRFI 219 February / March 2011

protests_in_egypt

The courage and anger of the Egyptian people on the streets of cities across the country is shaking the entire edifice of imperialism in the Middle East and North Africa. They shout for ‘bread and freedom’ and declare ‘a day of revolt against torture, poverty, corruption and unemployment’ and tilt the balance against Zionism and the US. President Mubarak is clinging on to power but the masses are refusing to end their uprising.

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