Against both Morsi and the military: AWL statement on Egypt

July 5, 2013 at 10:10 pm (AWL, Cross-post, democracy, Egypt, fascism, islamism, Jim D, Middle East, religious right, revolution, secularism, workers, youth)

This statement appears as an editorial in the present issue of the AWL’s paper Solidarity and on their website. It was written before the fall of Morsi, but the political assessment remains sound, imho:

Egyptian protesters hold giant national flag as they demonstrate against the President Mohamed Morsi, in Tahrir Square, Cairo

Above: anti-Morsi demonstrators with giant Egyptian flag in Tahrir Square

Against the Egyptian military! Against the Muslim Brotherhood!

The Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt is not just a neo-liberal capitalist party, but clerical-fascist.

Former SWP leader Tony Cliff used that term for it in 1946. Despite the SWP’s subsequent shifts, which went as far as recommending votes for the Brotherhood in last year’s elections in Egypt, he was right.

The Brotherhood is an approximate Islamic analogue of the Catholic fascist parties of Europe between World Wars One and Two. It is a canny, cautious variant of the type, but like those parties it has a mass plebeian activist base and a political trajectory which would shut down living space for the labour movement in the name of populist demagogy (“Islam is the answer!”)

The Brotherhood was the only political force able to build up a big semi-tolerated organisation, and large funds, under the Mubarak dictatorship; and so it won the elections last year despite its equivocal role in the battles against Mubarak.

After a year, though — after November 2012, when Morsi claimed powers to rule by decree; after the killing and wounding of many activists by Brotherhood thugs on the streets; after Morsi has offered only Islamist rhetoric for the economic plight of Egypt’s people — millions have turned against the Brotherhood.

Egyptian socialists have been right to join the street protests against Morsi. They understand, also, that ugly forces are jumping on the anti-Morsi surge.

In most circumstances, we would side with any elected government facing a threat of military coup (or semi-coup, or quarter-coup). We would do that even if we hated the elected government and continued to oppose it.

There are cases in working-class history of socialists being swayed into support of populist military coups against unpopular elected governments (Pilsudski in Poland, 1926). We learn from those errors.

This is not the same. We are against a military coup. We are not for defence of the Morsi government. Why not? Because that government threatens, if consolidated, to squeeze out the light and air for the Egyptian labour movement even more fully than Mubarak could — or even more fully than the army could in foreseeable conditions.

The Egyptian working class is not yet politically strong enough to take power against both the Brotherhood and the army. Its priority must be to develop its political independence and to be the first fighter for democracy and secularism against Morsi, against any “transitional” government if he falls, and against the army.

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Morsi falls, Cairo celebrates

July 3, 2013 at 9:13 pm (Egypt, islamism, Jim D, Middle East, protest, revolution, secularism, solidarity, workers, youth)

Juan Cole has just posted this video on his excellent Informed Comment blog:

Unlike some “left” commentators, Cole is in no doubt where he stands on the Egyptian uprising. Even before Morsi fell tonight, Cole had written:

After [Morsi’s hardline] speech, Tahrir Square was if anything even more energized, with the Opposition “Rebellion “volunteers calling with renewed vigor for the fall of the Muslim Brotherhood regime.  Rebellion maintains that in placing himself above the law last November, in ramming through a fundamentalist constitution, in packing the upper house of parliament with the Brotherhood and its sympathizers, and by neglecting to improve services or the economy, Morsi has forfeited the right to finish out his four-year term (he was elected in June, 2012).

Read the full article here

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Cole on Egypt: ‘Fundamentalist Morsi defies both protesters & military’

July 2, 2013 at 3:16 pm (civil rights, Egypt, islamism, Middle East, protest, reblogged, revolution, youth)

Above: Russia Today’s coverage yesterday (nothing to do with Juan Cole but worth watching)

Juan Cole at Informed Comment is always a good source of information on the Middle East, even if we don’t always agree 100% with his politics.

Fundamentalist Morsi Defies both Protesters & Military Ultimatum, says Obama Backs Him

Posted on 07/02/2013 by Juan Cole

Egyptian President Muhammad Morsi’s support in his own government began crumbling on Monday.  Ten independent members of the Egyptian upper house or senate (Majlis al-Shura) resigned, ahead of 6 cabinet members in the Morsi government (including the minister of foreign affairs, who announced his resignation on Monday).

The resignations come in the wake of Sunday’s demonstrations by millions, the biggest rallies in Egyptian history, demanding that Morsi step down.

The millions of protesting youth had given Morsi until Tuesday to resign or announce early elections, as a kind of referendum on how he is running the country.  The opposition cites his high-handedness, favoritism toward the fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood, crackdown on freedom of speech, and poor economy as reasons for which Morsi should resign only a year into his four-year term.

Then on Monday Morsi received another and different ultimatum, from Secretary of Defense, Brig. General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. The memorandum gave Morsi 48 hours to make up with the opposition. 

At the same time, Gen. Sami Anan, former Army Chief of Staff, resigned as presidential adviser.  He had been made a special counselor to President Morsi when Morsi subordinated the army to civilian government in August 2012.

The extraordinary military announcement raised the specter of a military coup.  But the armed forces were careful to say that it was no such thing, simply a response to “the pulse of the Egyptian street, i.e. the army was insisting that the president not plunge the country into civil war, given the obvious strength of the opposition.

The crowds at Tahrir Square reportedly went wild with joy on hearing that the military was taking their side against Morsi.

But the revolutionary youth groups, such as April 6, the Revolutionary Socialists, the Popular Current, and Strong Egypt, warned the military to stay out of civil politics. The youth groups spent the months from February 2011 through August of 2012 demonstrating and demanding that the military go back to the barracks.  Their insistence that Morsi call early presidential elections was not intended as an invitation to the army to come back into politics.

Then at 2 am Tuesday, President Morsi came on t.v. and rejected the military communique, saying that the president had not been consulted before it was issued and implying that it was an officers’ rebellion against the authority of the elected president. 

Morsi also quoted a conversation he had Monday with President Obama, saying the president assured him that he was committed to the elected, legitimate government (i.e. Morsi).  But Obama appears instead to have said that he is committed to the democratic process in Egypt but not siding with any particular party or group.  That is, Morsi misrepresented Obama’s call as support for himself.  In defying the military ultimatum, the Muslim Brotherhood appears convinced that the US would not permit the officers to make a coup, and that the officers would not dare do so without a US green light.  US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey called Brig. Gen. al-Sisi on Monday, but we do not know the substance  of the call.

Morsi’s misrepresentation of Obama will inflame anti-American opinion further in Egypt, where the opposition generally believes that the US is imposing the Muslim Brotherhood on Egypt for its own nefarious reasons.  This impression has been fanned by statements of US ambassador Anne Patterson discouraging the youth from holding the June 30 protest and supporting the elected president.  In fact, the US as a status quo power typically deals with the elected government in power.  It is true that the Bush administration had treated the Muslim Brotherhood as taboo, but it is not clear that that kind of ostrich policy was a good thing.

Morsi said he would stick to his own plan for reconciliation.  Since so far everything he has done has alienated the youth movements further, this stubbornness is not a good sign for Egypt.

Meanwhile, the Muslim Brotherhood in Alexandria and elsewhere announced a determination to go to the streets en masse to support Morsi and defeat the opposition’s attempt to delegitimate him by street action.

Over the whole scene looms the specter of Algeria 1992, when the military overturned the victory at the polls of the fundamentalist Islamic Salvation Front (FIS) and plunged the country into over a decade of civil war in which the Muslim religious forces were radicalized and 150,000 or more died.

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Down with the Muslim Brotherhood!

July 1, 2013 at 5:37 pm (AWL, Egypt, Human rights, islamism, Jim D, John Rees, Middle East, revolution, solidarity, strange situations, SWP, unions, workers)

You’d think a call for the overthrow of clerical fascists would be uncontentious for socialists, wouldn’t you?

We have yet to see how the SWP, who called for the election of the Muslim Brotherhood, will react to the latest developments in Egypt. They are on record defending clerical fascism. And, of course,  ex-SWP’er John Rees of the degenerate ‘Counterfire’ outfit, is an apologist for the Muslim Brotherhood, having repeatedly attended and promoted their Cairo conferences when a leader of the SWP.

Above: Rees, the Brotherhood’s man within the UK left (including the SWP until they kicked him out)

Here’s the AWL’s  Mark Osborne’s description of an attempt to educate SWP members about the Muslim Brotherhood a year ago, during the Egyptian presidential election :

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Last week AWL activists leafleted SWP meetings to try to engage SWP members over their organisations support for a vote for the Muslim Brotherhood in the Egyptian presidential elections.

Generally we found SWP members unwilling even to take our leaflet, never mind read it and discuss. If a debate had actually taken place it might have looked like this.

SWP: Fundamentally you are sectarians. You intend to turn your backs on the mass of workers who are following the Muslim Brothers. The Brothers got 10 million votes in the parliamentary elections in December 2011. Yes, the leaders are well-off, but the rank and file are workers. In the Suez industrial area, for example, the big majority of workers voted for the Brothers or the salafist party Nour. We need to win the workers and to do that we need to get close to them, link up with them and talk to them.

AWL: Get close to them and link up? – you’re addressing this as an organisational matter, as if we just need a bus ticket to Alexandria. ‘Talk to them’? Of course, but we differ on what to say You approach the question like a sociologist – we don’t just ‘follow the workers’ irrespective of what the workers are actually doing. We’re not ‘ignoring’ the workers who follow the Brothers, but sometimes it is necessary to say to workers: this party will lead you to a disaster; workers have their own interests, distinct from the right-wing religious sectarians, pro-market millionaires and professionals who run the Brotherhood. By endorsing the Brothers you certainly are turning your backs on women, Christian workers, young liberals, trade unionists and leftists who are for democracy and are rightly alarmed by the Brothers. The MB’s support peaked in December, millions have turned away from them – our job is to encourage that flow towards us.

SWP: If you fail to vote for the Brothers you will never get a hearing from the many millions that still follow them. We have not dropped a single criticism of them. That is not necessary. We have made no political concession.

AWL: Voting for them is a political concession! Advocating a vote for them means taking some responsibility for them – you are recommending them, at some level, to the workers.

SWP: Yes, of course we are. They are preferable to the tired, corrupt old regime. Is that not true? Our slogan is the old communist one: ‘march separately, and strike together’.

AWL: In your case that useful idea is rewritten: ‘march behind, help them strike for what they want’.  ‘March separately; strike together’ is the idea behind the workers’ united front. It is a joke to use it here, now, with the clerical right-wing MB! During the election campaign they presented themselves as pro-market, overtly Islamic, devout.

SWP: Well, what do you expect? Most Egyptians are devout. Simply denouncing religious parties and Islam will get you nowhere. We need to be sensitive to religious sensibilities. The MB is continuing the revolution against the old regime. Many voted for them to express opposition to the old regime. We have to relate to such people. Moreover the attempted on-going ‘slow’ coup by the army is undermining your position. Right now, on the streets it is: for the military? or for democracy and the people’s choice, the Brothers?

AWL: The Brothers sat on the sidelines while the youth fought in the streets against Mubarak. The political benefits have, unfortunately fallen into their laps. The aim of socialist activity is to make a third choice possible – workers’ liberty – and a political collapse in front of the Brothers will not do that. No-one advocates headlines on all socialist propaganda: ‘Down with Islam!’ Equally we are secular Marxists, and it would be better if you remembered that. Let’s accept that the Brothers are ‘making a revolution’. But it is their revolution, which is both against the army, and simultaneously against us – the left, the workers, the feminists.

SWP: Reformists always compromise and often let others do their fighting. We must be there to point out to the poor and the youth that follow the MB that they should be pursuing a resolute struggle against the army and old regime. The MB took a turn after the book Signposts, by Sayyid Qutb, was published in the mid-60s. They stopped seeing the only enemy as imperialism, and attacked the local state directly. They were very embarrassing for the moderates. Thousands of young radicals were inspired.

AWL: Yes, but inspired to do what, exactly?  You are relating to them like the LP, which is absurd. They are no sort of working class party. Are they?

SWP: Your argument has become even weaker as the military have begun to move against the Brothers and against democracy. Socialists defend the MB against the military and defend the right of the MB to take power – they have a majority, let’s put them to the test. When the MB take people out onto the streets in self-defence we must be with them, against the military. Or would you stand on the sidelines while the military take full control again?

AWL: If big, popular mobilisations against the military threat take place, led by the MB, clearly socialists would take part. We’d intervene, organise our own contingents; organise our own initiatives. Attempt to rally the workers and poor not just against the military but for democracy, women’s and workers’ rights. We would aim to rally people not just against the military, but for our positive demands.

SWP: And you fail to understand the potentially anti-imperialist role of Islamism. The Iranian Islamists did take control of the US embassy. The Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Palestine have played a key role in the armed struggle against Israel. The Algerian FIS did organise huge demonstrations against the first US war against Iraq.

AWL: Before coming to power Khomeini said he was for democracy, women’s rights and against imperialism. Anti-imperialism is not enough: what is important is what a political group is for. You fail to understand the counter-revolutionary role of Islamism. These forces will smash us and kill us if they can.

SWP: The job is to relate to the radicals amongst the Islamists. In the Prophet and the Proletariat [1994] the SWP’s Chris Harman wrote, “As with any ‘petty bourgeois utopia’ its supporters are faced with a choice between heroic but futile attempts to impose it in opposition to those who run existing society, or compromising with them, providing an ideological veneer to continuing oppression and exploitation. It is this which leads inevitably to splits between a radical, terrorist wing of Islamism on the one hand, and a reformist wing on the others. It is also this which leads some of the radicals to switch from using arms to try to bring about a society without ‘oppressors’ to using them to impose ‘Islamic’ forms of behaviour on individuals.”

AWL: So Harman thought that the radicals, involved in armed ‘resistance’ would come over to our side? Hasn’t this nonsense been ended by 9/11? This is simply another example of the SWP becoming mesmerised by ‘militancy’ rather than actually asking what a particular political force positively stands for. For example, look at Hamas – the Brothers sister party – in Gaza. Sure, they oppose the Israelis – but in their own way, for their own reactionary reasons. In Gaza they have smashed unions, uprooted secularism, enforced backward dress codes on women, created a one-party religious state. The Islamists’ revolution against the state and imperialism is both partial and – more to the point – against us (the left, the unions, women, religious minorities, LGBT people) too.

SWP: Yes but, as Harman also said, “On some issues we will find ourselves on the same side as the Islamists against imperialism and the state. This was true, for instance, in many countries during the second Gulf War. It should be true in countries like France or Britain when it comes to combating racism. Where the Islamists are in opposition, our rule should be, ‘with the Islamists sometimes, with the state never’”.

AWL: This is sloppy. If the fascists attack a mosque, for example, the socialist left will be with the Muslim self-defence. It might even be necessary to conclude a practical agreement  with the Mosque leaders – even Islamists – to that end. However, we are never ‘with the Islamists’ in politics or ideas. And by the way Harman also wrote this: “But socialists cannot give support to the Islamists either. That would be to call for the swapping of one form of oppression for another, to react to the violence of the state by abandoning the defence of ethnic and religious minorities, women and gays, to collude in scapegoating that makes it possible for capitalist exploitation to continue unchecked providing it takes “Islamic” forms. It would be to abandon the goal of independent socialist politics, based on workers in struggle organising all the oppressed and exploited behind them, for a tail-ending of a petty bourgeois utopianism which cannot even succeed in its own terms.” Even Harman was against what the SWP is saying now.

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Live news from the Egytian left and workers’ movement

June 30, 2013 at 10:13 am (Egypt, Human rights, internationalism, Jim D, Middle East, protest, solidarity, unions, workers)

Continually updated coverage from

The #EgyWorkers Daily

Egypt: joint statement – ‘together we will bring down the regime’

          Shared by       ArabSpringWorkerSoli    
 menasolidaritynetwork.com

    – Egyptian Federation of Independent Trade Unions, the Permanent Congress of Workers in Alexandria, the Revolutionary Socialists, Rebel Movement, the Egyptian Centre for Social and Economic Rights Re…

Egypt: Mahalla workers join rebellion, reject privatisation plans

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menasolidaritynetwork.com – Pictures from Revolutionary Youth Coalition, Mahalla (via Facebook) Thousands of workers from the giant textile mill in Mahalla al-Kubra marched out of the factory in a protest in solidarity with t…

Opinion: Get ready for Egypt’s ‘second revolution’ – CNN.com

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cnn.com – Editor’s note: Cynthia Schneider is a professor in the practice of diplomacy at Georgetown University, dean at the School of Diplomacy at Dubrovnik International University and a senior nonresident…

Egypt: A revolution betrayed

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equaltimes.org – Two years on from the revolution that ousted Hosni Mubarak, democracy still eludes Egypt. Independent trade unions are supressed; street children are arrested and tortured; female protestors are at…

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Muslim Brotherhood says “no” to women’s equality

March 16, 2013 at 3:40 pm (Civil liberties, Egypt, Human rights, islamism, Middle East, reblogged, religion, religious right, secularism, UN, women)

Above: Egyptian women wave a flag showing pharaoh Queen Hatshepsut and anti-Muslim Brotherhood banners during a demonstration in Cairo, marking this year’s International Women’s Day.

by Ophelia Benson (Butterflies and Wheels)

The Muslim Brotherhood has issued a statement denouncing a proposed statement by the UN Commission on the Status of Women because it “contradicts principles of Islam and destroys family life and entire society.”

The 57th session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), taking place from March 4 to 15 at UN headquarters, seeks to ratify a declaration euphemistically entitled ‘End Violence against Women’.

That title, however, is misleading and deceptive. The document includes articles that contradict established principles of Islam, undermine Islamic ethics and destroy the family, the basic building block of society, according to the Egyptian Constitution.

This declaration, if ratified, would lead to complete disintegration of society, and would certainly be the final step in the intellectual and cultural invasion of Muslim countries, eliminating the moral specificity that helps preserve cohesion of Islamic societies.

Ah yes good old “moral specificity” that makes it ok to pretend women are inferior and subordinate, along with good old pseudo-anti-imperialism used to shore up theocratic imperialism. It’s a cute trick, pretending that rights for women amount to “intellectual and cultural invasion of Muslim countries.”

A closer look at these articles reveals what decadence awaits our world, if we sign this document:

3. Granting equal rights to adulterous wives and illegitimate sons resulting from adulterous relationships.

4. Granting equal rights to homosexuals, and providing protection and respect for prostitutes.

5. Giving wives full rights to file legal complaints against husbands accusing them of rape or sexual harassment, obliging competent authorities to deal husbands punishments similar to those prescribed for raping or sexually harassing a stranger.

6. Equal inheritance (between men and women).

That’s decadence, is it? Not treating women who have non-marital sex as having no rights – that’s decadence? Not treating marital rape as perfectly fine is decadence?

7. Replacing guardianship with partnership, and full sharing of roles within the family between men and women such as: spending, child care and home chores.

Jesus god – it’s decadent to treat women and men as equals as opposed to making men the guardians of their wives, as if women were children?

8. Full equality in marriage legislation such as: allowing Muslim women to marry non-Muslim men, and abolition of polygamy, dowry, men taking charge of family spending, etc.

9. Removing the authority of divorce from husbands and placing it in the hands of judges, and sharing all property after divorce.

10. Cancelling the need for a husband’s consent in matters like: travel, work, or use of contraception.

These are destructive tools meant to undermine the family as an important institution; they would subvert the entire society, and drag it to pre-Islamic ignorance.

The Muslim Brotherhood urges the leaders of Muslim countries and their UN representatives to reject and condemn this document, and to call upon this organization to rise to the high morals and principles of family relations prescribed by Islam.

And these are the people who are in power in Egypt, along with the Salafists, who are even worse.

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Why some on the “left” grovel before the Muslim Brotherhood

December 10, 2012 at 3:22 am (Andrew Coates, anti-semitism, apologists and collaborators, Egypt, grovelling, islamism, John Rees, left, Middle East, reblogged, SWP)

Tendance Coatsey opines on “The Cairo Conferences – or how some on the left have got the Muslim Botherhood so wrong”:

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Above: John Rees speaking at a Cairo Conference

One major factor that explains the inability of some on the British left to support, clearly, Egyptian democrats is their [the British “leftists”] long-standing links with the Muslim Brotherhood.

This is not just a matter of domestic alliances with the (then) Muslim Association of Britain in the Stop the War Coalition (StWC).

On the principle of being ‘with’ the MB – indeed anybody – when  ‘fighting’ ‘imperialism’ and its allied states: this reached its highest point in the Cairo Conferences, from 2002 to 2009.

Wikipedia is the most convenient source of the history of this alliance,

The first conference was held on the 17–19 December 2002, at the Conrad Hotel on the banks of the Nile . Four hundred attended. Speakers included former United Nations (UN) humanitarian coordinator for Iraq Dr Hans von Sponeck. Former Algerian president Ahmed Ben Bella (TC Note– who had become an Islamist) chaired the conference. One outcome of the conference was the production of the ‘Cairo Declaration’, which took a stance against the then looming Iraq war; it also noted the negative effects of capitalist globalisation and U.S.  hegemony on the peoples of the world (including European and American citizens). In addition, it noted that “In the absence of democracy , and with widespread corruption and oppression constituting significant obstacles along the path of the Arab peoples’ movement towards economic, social, and intellectual progress, adverse consequences are further aggravated within the framework of the existing world order of neoliberal globalisation”, while firmly rejecting the ‘advance of democracy’ justification for attacking Iraq.

The UK Stop the War Coalition, in particular John Rees then of the SWP, initiated the signing of the declaration by European leftists, including: Jeremy Corbyn MP, George Galloway MP, Tony Benn, Susan George (scholar/activist based in France), Bob Crow, Mick Rix (general secretary, UK train drivers’ Aslef union), Julie Christie, George Monbiot, Harold Pinter, Ghayasuddin Siddiqui (Muslim Parliament), Tommy Sheridan (Scottish socialist), Dr Ghada Karmi (research fellow, Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies, University of Exeter), Tariq Ali. attended.

I shall miss out the specific references to Iraq and concentrate on what the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty highlighted of the original ‘Cairo Declaration’.

Selective and misleading extracts from the ‘Cairo Declaration’ have been published in “Socialist Worker” (18th January 2003). The carefully edited extracts refer to the internationalist struggle against neo-liberal globalisation, the growth of poverty and unemployment as a result of capitalist globalisation and US hegemony, and the need for total opposition to war on Iraq. Such worthy sentiments, however, are not representative of the politics encapsulated in the ‘Cairo Declaration’. The ‘Cairo Declaration’ criticises the US for ‘maintaining the existing uni-polar world order’ and blocking a shift in the balance of power ‘towards multi-polarity.’ This is not an obscure and coded call for working-class struggle against capitalist inequality. It is a complaint that the domination of international markets by large-scale US capital (uni-polarity) is squeezing out the local capitalist classes and elites (multi-polarity).

It would be tedious to go through all these ‘conferences’ declarations but this one indicates the truth of this analysis (from the 3rd Conference 2003),

• The U.S. monopolizes political, economic and military power within the framework of capitalist globalization, to the detriment of the lives of the majority of the world’s people.

• The U.S. imposes control through naked aggression and militarized globalization in pursuit of its rulers’ interests, all while reinstating the characteristic direct occupation of classical colonialism.

• The U.S. global strategy, which was formulated prior to September 11 2001, aims to maintain the existing unipolar world order, and to prevent the emergence of forces that would shift the balance of power towards multi-polarity. The U.S. administration has exploited the tragic events of September 11, under the pretext of fighting terrorism, to implement the pre-existing strategy. Attention to this global context helps explain current world developments:

• Prioritize the interest of monopolistic capitalist circles above those of the people, including Europeans and U.S. citizens.

• Integrate the economies of different countries into a single global capitalist economic system under conditions which undermine social development and adversely affect the situation of women, child health, education, and social services for the elderly. In addition, unemployment and poverty increase.

The last conference in 2009 was under the banner of ”The International Campaign Against Universal Imperialism and Zionism”. Its main  slogan was “Pro-Resistance and Anti-Occupation with its crimes”, will be discussing a number of issues such as supporting the resistance, developing the struggle against the occupation of Iraq, confronting the racist policies of imperialist governments and issues against dictatorship and globalization in Egypt and the Arab world.

Workers’ Liberty’s comments on the 2003 Cairo Declaration, are relevant,

The Cairo Conference was convened by an organisation committed to the defence of the national security of Egypt. At best, the conference was financed by local businessmen. (At worst, the Iraqi government had a hand in funding it.) Those attending the conference including representatives of the Iraqi Baath regime, members of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, a delegation from the Cuban Castroite regime, and various veteran Stalinists lamenting the collapse of the Soviet Union.

I will not go into the issue of Israel, or Stalinism.

The most important point is that they [the “left” supporters of the Cairo Conference/Declaration] aligned themselves with a section of the pious Egyptian bourgeoisie – with all its own financial and capitalist links with Gulf States.

The MB’s anti-globalisation and ‘anti-imperialism’ now stand as a cover for their promotion of their own religious-political national interests.

These interests are increasingly anti-democratic and anti-working class.

But will those in Britain who have worked with them draw a balance sheet?

It seems highly unlikely.

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The Graun backs Morsi

December 8, 2012 at 8:22 pm (Egypt, Guardian, islamism, Jim D, Middle East, SWP, thuggery)

God is great! The Graun’s supporting me!

You’ve got to hand it to the Guardian. Only they could come up with an editorial line that is simultaneously pro-Assad and pro-Morsi. Even the SWP* wouldn’t try that on:

Guardian editorial, Saturday 8 December 2012:

Egypt: Tug of war

As the crisis in Egypt develops, it is becoming increasingly clear what it is not about. It is not about the proposed constitution, many of whose provisions opposition members put their signatures to, before changing their minds and walking out of the drafting committee. Negotiations on the contentious clauses have been offered and rejected. Nor is it about the date of the referendum, which the Egyptian justice minister, Ahmed Mekki, offered to postpone. Again, this was rejected. Nor even is it about the temporary but absolute powers that the Egyptian president, Mohamed Morsi, assumed for himself – which will lapse the moment the referendum is held whatever the result.

Urging the opposition to shun dialogue, Mohamed ElBaradei said that Morsi had lost his legitimacy. So the target of the opposition National Salvation Front is not the constitution, or the emergency decree, but Morsi himself. What follows is a power battle in which the aim is to unseat a democratically elected president, and to prevent a referendum and fresh parliamentary elections being held, both of which Islamists stand a good chance of winning. Morsi, for his part, is determined that both polls be held as soon as possible to reaffirm the popular mandate which he still thinks he has.

In weighing who occupies the moral high ground, let us start with what happened on Wednesday night. That is when the crisis, sparked by Morsi’s decree when he was at the height of his domestic popularity over the role he played in stopping the Israeli assault on Gaza, turned violent. The Muslim Brotherhood‘s Freedom and Justice party sanctioned a violent assault on a peaceful encampment of opposition supporters outside the presidential palace. But lethal force came later, and Islamists were its principle victims. Five of the six people killed in Cairo were members of the Brotherhood and one came from the opposition. Two more Islamists were killed outside the capital. Brotherhood offices were attacked up and down the country, while no other party offices were touched. This does not fit the opposition’s narrative to be the victims of Islamist violence. Both sides are victims of violence and the real perpetrators are their common enemy.

Morsi undoubtedly made grave mistakes. In pre-empting a decision by the constitutional court to derail his constitution, his decree was cast too wide. The final draft of the constitution has many faults, although none are set in stone. The opposition on the other hand has never accepted the results of freely held elections, parliamentary or presidential, and is doing everything to stop new ones being held.

* Mind you, the degenerate ex-SWP splinter-group ‘Counterfire’ does manage this feat: see this and this.

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Egyptian democrat denounces CNN and BBC

December 5, 2012 at 9:39 am (BBC, democracy, Egypt, islamism, Jim D, media, Obama)

I’ve no idea who this guy is (he seems to be an Egyptian living in Canada), but he’s certainly angry.

He notes that CNN has virtually ignored this week’s mass demonstrations against Morsi and the Brotherhood, while the BBC reported that “thousands” (later “tens of thousands”) had demonstrated in Cairo.

Reuters, this guy says, put it at 25 million (though I’ve checked and not been able to find where Reuters cite that figure: it strikes me as incredibly high, given that the total population of Cairo is 18 million.  Still, most credible reports put the numbers in the hundreds of thousands).

Note that he’s emphatically not calling for any kind of western interference:

H/t: Pete Radcliff

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Egypt: Juan Cole on the protests against Morsi’s “temporary dictatorship”

November 28, 2012 at 7:38 pm (Civil liberties, democracy, Egypt, Human rights, islamism, Middle East, reblogged, secularism)

As usual, excellent comment and analysis from Juan Cole, though I personally do not agree with his opposition to the possibility of Morsi being removed by “crowd action” – JD

Egypt Polarized as 200,000 Tahrir demonstrators and Crowds in other Cities protest Morsi’s “Temporary Dictatorship”

Posted on 28/11/2012 by Juan Cole at Informed Comment.

On Wednesday morning, in the wake of a huge demonstration downtown Cairo, the crowds assembled in Tahrir Square faced tear gas barrages whenever they moved out of the center of the square. Some 36 persons were wounded in Port Said in clashes Wednesday between anti-government forces and the Muslim Brotherhood. The fight began when three Ultras (soccer fanatics) of the Green Eagle soccer club in the city were attacked when they passed near the Muslim Brotherhood HQ.

Liberals, leftists, nationalists, Muslims, Christians, trade unions, professionals, movie stars, lawyers and judges united on Tuesday throughout Egypt to deploy a whole range of protest techniques against last Thursday’s Executive Order of President Muhammad Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood, which put him above all judicial authority. Some clashes broke out with Morsi followers, and some 76 were injured.

The crowd at the downtown Tahrir Square was estimated by some newspapers at 200,000, among the largest demonstrations held since the fall of Hosni Mubarak in February, 2011. It is worrisome that many in the crowd have started to demand ‘the fall of the regime’ and the ‘departure of Morsi.’ Since he is an elected leader, it would be undemocratic for him to be unseated by crowd action, and the danger that the Muslim Brotherhood might be radicalized by losing the fruits of both of its electoral victories is great.

The spokesman for the Egyptian military Pointedly underlined that the army is there to defend the interests of the nation and that its sole loyalty is to the people. He did not say anything about protecting the government, raising the question of where the army’s loyalty might lie if the political polarization worsens.

Performing artists had their own column in the march in Cairo.
Journalists and attorneys were organized by their guilds to participate. Even a group of judges marched, single file, into Tahrir Square. Cairo’s courts were closed and on strike for the third day running in protest against the insult of the president’s decree. A huge procession walked from the slum of Shubra to Tahrir Square Tuesday, joined by Muhammad Elbaradei (former head of the IAEA). About half of the densely packed population of Shubra is Christian, and as a working class district its parties include the Free Egyptians, the Social Democratic Egyptian Party, the Popular Coalition, and the Revolutionary Socialist Movement. Unfortunately, they are good at mobilizing for marches and rallies, but not good at winning elections. They insisted on the abrogation of Morsi’s Executive Order.

Among the demands of the protesters was that the Constituent Assembly writing the constitution be reconstituted. It had begun with 100 members, but 22 have withdrawn, along with 7 reserve members, and the remaining 78 are disproportionately loyal to the Muslim Brotherhood, raising fears that the constitution will be overly religious in character.

Reuters has a video report on Tuesday’s massive country-wide rallies:

There were similar demonstrations, some of them quite large, in other cities, including Alexandria, where crowds invaded the HQ of the FJP and tossed papers out the window.  In the Delta city of Mansoura, 25 were hurt when an angry crowd set fire to part of the HQ of the Freedom and Justice Party, the civil wing of the Muslim Brotherhood.  In al-Mahalla just north of Cairo, a working-class city of factories, 50 were injured in clashes between protesters and the Muslim Brotherhood.  Euronews reports:

Morsi’s claim of extra-judicial power struck many Egyptians as a creeping dictatorship, and there are fears that the Brotherhood was plotting to bring back the dissolved parliament of fall, 2011, which was dominated by members of the Brotherhood party, Freedom and Justice, and by hard line Salafi fundamentalists.  With the presidency and parliament and an established principle that both were beyond the authority of the judiciary, the Brotherhood could hope to rule Egypt as a virtual one-party state, succeeding the one-party dominance of Hosni Mubarak’s National Democratic party.

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