Egypt: Thousands Mobilize Against Morsi’s Government
By Claudia Cinatti
Thursday, November 29, 2012
These days, Egypt is going through one of the biggest political crises since the fall of former dictator Mubarak in February, 2011. The crisis erupted on November 22, when the Egyptian President, M. Morsi, announced that, because of a “constitutional declaration,” his acts, those of Parliament, and of the Constituent Assembly (with an Islamist majority), were not subject to appeal and were outside of any judicial challenge.
Morsi tried to cover this openly autocratic turn with demagogic talk about “defense of the revolution,” taking advantage of the fact that the Supreme Court continues in the hands of holdovers from the old Mubarak regime.
However, this demagogy was not sufficient to hide the fact that the policy of Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) is to finish consolidating the diversion of the revolutionary process and establish a stable authoritarian regime that will allow him to move forward with austerity plans that he has already begun, for instance, with the elimination of subsidies to public services.
That is how tens of thousands of workers and middle-class youths, and also poor people, that went out to the streets of the country’s main cities in repudiation of this measure, understood it, that it would give the current President even more discretionary power than Mubarak himself had.
With this action outside of the relationship of forces, Morsi unified against himself a broad oppositional arc, that includes liberal, nationalist, secularist and leftist parties. Even parties linked to Mubarak’s old regime are taking the opportunity to reappear on the political stage. More than 100,000 demonstrators filled up the symbolic Tahrir Square and clashed with security forces. In big cities like Alexandria and Suez, the popular mobilizations ended with attacks on the offices of the MB and of the ruling Freedom and Justice Party. The workers of the Mahalla textile factories, who were the vanguard of the resistance under the dictatorship and played an essential role in Mubarak’s downfall, joined the protests, showing the willingness to struggle of advanced groups in the Egyptian working class, that, in the last month alone, led around 1,000 strikes of varied scope and intensity. Despite the electoral diversion and the consolidation of moderate Islamism as a mediation, the profound contradictions that gave rise to the most acute process of the “Arab Spring” have not been resolved, and they could fuel a new revolutionary wave.
Morsi and his neoliberal and pro-imperialist “brothers”
With the announcement of this dictatorial decree, Morsi and the MB tried to capitalize domestically on the “success” obtained in foreign policy, when the Egyptian government appeared as the architect and guarantor of the ceasefire between the Zionist State of Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip. For his services in favor of regional stability, Morsi received gratitude and congratulations from Hillary Clinton and the US government and showed that, under his government, Egypt will continue to be an ally of the US and will respect the peace treaty with the State of Israel.
Washington’s support facilitated the granting of an IMF loan of $4.8 billion (as part of a $14.5 billion package of foreign financing). This, together with other domestic policy factors, among them, the confidence that groups of the Egyptian bourgeoisie have in the government’s privatizations plan to expand their businesses, and the social networks of the MB that give them a big popular base, led Morsi to a mistaken reading of the relationship of forces, to try to impose a constitution that will guarantee moderate Islamist control and keep the armed forces off of the political stage, although preserving their role as a pillar of the state and an economic actor.
The model for Morsi and the MB is the Turkish regime, based on the combination of moderate Islamism as a main political force and the armed forces as a guarantor of last resort of the domestic order and of Turkey’s role in international politics as a member of NATO and an essential ally of US imperialism.
However, Egypt’s situation is very different from that of Turkey. Unlike his Turkish counterpart, Morsi still has to consolidate the diversion of the 2011 revolutionary process, in the context of the effects of the capitalist crisis. The economy continues on the verge of collapse, with 40% of the population beneath the poverty line. Sooner or later, the MB government will have to apply the IMF’s austerity prescriptions, beginning with the removal of the subsidy for popular consumption goods, like fuel, and making the labor market more flexible, which could have an explosive effect.
A new chance for the revolutionary process?
Only five months after taking office, Morsi confronts a political crisis, whose consequences are still uncertain. The presidential decree deepened the division between the supporters of the Islamist character of the state and secular groups, which could result in bloody confrontations, that, for now, have been avoided.
For broad groups of the poor, who hoped that a government and a regime dominated by the MB would be more favorable to their interests and would put some restraint on imperialist oppression and that of the State of Israel against the Palestinian people, the reactionary, bourgeois and pro-imperialist character of this government of diversion is beginning to be revealed.
The Egyptian working class, whose intervention was key in Mubarak’s downfall, has continued to lead big strikes, among them, the strikes by textile workers, ceramics workers and service-sector workers, like those in transportation and health care.
The Islamist ruling parties, both in their moderate MB version and in their more “radical” Salafist expression, and the bourgeois secular opposition, are working to prevent the re-creation of the alliance between the workers and the young people of Tahrir Square, that put an end to Mubarak’s regime. This week’s mobilizations show that profound democratic, economic and social demands can, again, light the fuse of revolution. The conclusion still remains open.
November 28, 2012
[From the Fracción Trotskista, ft-ci.org – Unofficial translation]