Thursday, February 10, 2011
Egyptians Stay Strong
By Fred Goldstein
Published Feb 9, 2011 8:56 PM
Feb. 8 — Hosni Mubarak’s military-police regime and its creators in Washington are waging a war of attrition to wear down the newly emerging Egyptian revolution. But the people show no signs of backing down. More than a million anti-government demonstrators today once again filled Liberation Square.
Despite police-agent attacks, gradual escalation of pressure from the military and slanderous campaigns against the protesters on Egyptian state television, all reports are that masses of people have flooded into central Cairo to demand the immediate ouster of Mubarak.
Press reports and live television feeds from Al Jazeera showed anti-Mubarak demonstrators streaming into Tahrir Square, swelling the crowds to at least as large a gathering as last Friday’s massive “Day of Departure” demonstration.
People show no signs of backing down
The masses came out in a renewed show of force, ignoring vague promises of “reform” from newly appointed Vice President Omar Suleiman, the former head of the secret police and a notorious torturer. According to the Wall Street Journal of Feb. 8, “Demonstrators showed no signs of backing down or losing support Tuesday. The lines to get into the square snaked down the street running along the Nile as well as across the Kasr Al Nil Bridge, as sympathizers heeded the call for another show of strength. New arrivals waited patiently shoulder to shoulder to get in. Ahead of them, the square was already packed with a crowd easily as large as the one that gathered Friday.”
A crowd of tens of thousands also marched in Alexandria, Egypt’s second-largest city, and appeared to be the largest assemblage in that city since the million-person march a week ago.
There are reports that first-time demonstrators have shown up, including members of the civil service despite their just being granted the promise of a 15 percent raise in salary by Mubarak. Contributing to the turnout was an impassioned interview by Wael Ghonim, a Google employee, after his release from nine days of incarceration by the Egyptian authorities. Ghonim administered the Facebook page “We Are All Khaled Said,” dedicated to the memory of a 28-year-old man beaten to death by Egyptian police in Alexandria on June 6, 2010.
The Facebook page, which gathered 70,000 viewers overnight, had called for the Jan. 25 demonstration that triggered the present upsurge. Ghonim broke down during the broadcast on privately held Dream TV when he heard of the 300 martyrs and thousands of injured. He expressed his condolences “for all those Egyptians who died.” He said he did not want to be declared a hero. “The heroes are the ones on the street,” he said.
Tents have been put up all around the square, which many are calling “the Republic of Tahrir.” The protesters have established a permanent presence.
Obama administration wants “transition” to keep the old order
Despite the determination of the masses to oust Mubarak and the entire hated regime of authoritarian military officers, police officials, businessmen and corrupt politicians, the Obama administration has thrown its support behind Suleiman. He is their point man to orchestrate a “transition” that will sustain Washington’s strategic interests and domination over the Egyptian government.
Apparently the Obama administration, the Egyptian ruling class, the Israeli regime and the Saudi bourgeois feudal monarchy have all come to the conclusion that the resignation of Mubarak, under any circumstances, in the face of mass protests right now would only embolden the people and lead to even greater demands.
Suleiman has stated that Mubarak has no intention of resigning and that Egypt is not ready for democracy. Suleiman has refused to lift the hated Emergency Law that has been in effect since 1981 and has appointed a commission of so-called “Wise Men” from the old order to supervise the “transition” to reform.
His statement about Egyptians not being ready for democracy was so outrageous that both Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and press secretary Robert Gibbs had to denounce it. Yet the entire administration, including President Obama, has praised Suleiman for moving on “the right track.”
Suleiman, former head of the Ministry of the Interior, has supervised Egypt’s participation in the U.S. special rendition program, whereby people taken prisoner by the U.S. are transferred to overseas prisons to be tortured. Egypt was a preferred country. Suleiman personally tortured important prisoners, including an Egyptian-born Australian, Mamdouh Habib.
Suleiman also led the attempt to crush Hamas, the elected leadership of the Palestinian people, and supervised the destruction of tunnels leading from Egypt into Gaza that had been dug to break the Israeli-Egyptian blockade on food and supplies getting to the embattled Palestinian population there.
Suleiman is a former general and part of the U.S.-created military group that oversees U.S. military interests in the region. As such, Suleiman represents not only the secret police but also the entrenched military group that has preyed upon the country.
The Egyptian military high command has many businessmen in uniform. They are active in exploiting the water, olive oil, cement, construction, hotel and gasoline industries. They also have control of the production of televisions, milk and bread. (New York Times, Feb. 6) Together with the military and the police, Mubarak’s National Democratic Party, which has been described as a collection of business interests disguised as a political party, makes up the old order that has left the majority of the population subject to grinding poverty, structural unemployment and arbitrary repression by the state.
The common demand of the opposition is the immediate ouster, if not arrest, of Mubarak. As a prelude to sweeping reform, their demands include the formation of an interim government of national unity representing broad sectors of the Egyptian population; abolition of Mubarak’s National Democratic Party; dissolution of the corrupt parliament; drawing up a new constitution; and democratic elections.
These demands boil down to a transition from a military-police dictatorship to a political democracy — i.e., to bring about a national democratic revolution.
As against this, U.S. imperialism and the entrenched upper echelons of the old order in Egypt want to manage a “transition” to save themselves and their interests. Above all, the U.S. wants to insure the peace treaty with Israel; the use of Egypt as a strategic military staging ground and watchdog for the region; the CIA-Egypt connection; and security for U.S. big business in Egypt, in particular open access to the Suez Canal for the oil monopolies and U.S. Navy ships, among other things.
This requires maintaining the hard core of the old order: the military high command, the secret police apparatus and other repressive forces of the state. And the Egyptian ruling class wants to “transition” in such a way as to leave their interests secure.
It has been revealed in mass media sources, including by Wolf Blitzer on CNN, that the Mubarak family has amassed as much as $70 billion in wealth, which is spread out in banks and properties all over the world.
Goals of masses versus aims of U.S. imperialism
The goal of these partners in crime is to keep the fundamental levers over Egyptian society in their hands while placating the demands of the masses for a national democratic revolution. This means dragging out the process and finding some formula for fraudulent democracy that leaves the core elements of the old order in place.
It is precisely the military, the police and the Egyptian comprador bourgeoisie behind the dictatorship that now want a mere cosmetic change.
Millions of Egyptian people are now mobilizing on a greater scale than has been seen in 30 years of police state repression, the iron fist which allowed the plundering of the country’s wealth by a corrupt gang financed and supported by Washington. The people’s goals are utterly irreconcilable with the aims of imperialism and the Egyptian ruling class, which is trying to hold on by a combination of maneuvering, force and the threat of force.
History has reached a point in Egypt where the conflict between reaction and social progress for the masses has been fully joined. One side or the other must triumph. The unvanquished steadfastness, the volcanic awakening of the Egyptian people gives the whole world hope that the old order will eventually be swept away in the tide of mass struggle and take the imperialists with them.