Thursday, November 24, 2011

Egyptian Masses Defy Military

By John Catalinotto
Published Nov 22, 2011 9:43 PM

Nov. 21 — The masses have opened a new chapter in the Egyptian revolution. They have stood strong in Tahrir Square for nearly four days against bullets and gas demanding that the military regime, which succeeded President Hosni Mubarak last Feb. 12, step down.

As the day ended in Egypt, the Health ministry reported that 23 people had been killed and more than 1,500 wounded by the Egyptian army and police. But the people keep filling Tahrir Square.

As a result of the mass determination to stay in the streets, as well as the spread of the struggle to other Egyptian cities, the civilian government — that is, the politicians who provide a civilian cover to the U.S.-backed military — offered to resign. It was an important concession to the strength of the mass movement.

The struggle comes at a tense time politically because national elections are scheduled to begin on Nov. 28. People expect the Muslim Brotherhood to do well in the elections, since it is the best organized of the many groups that opposed Mubarak.

For this reason, the Brotherhood, after calling the first protest demonstration in Tahrir Square on Friday, Nov. 18, then called its organized forces off the streets so as not to give the military government a pretext to postpone the elections, according to an AP report today.

However, the reports in the U.S. corporate media are unreliable. Until WW can get reports from independent, working class sources, it is best to review information that is reasonably reliable.

Last January and February, a massive uprising upended the Mubarak regime, surprising the world. The imperialist governments, in this case mainly the U.S., supported the general staff of the Egyptian army, with whom the Pentagon has had close relations since the late 1970s.

The New York Times calls the Egyptian army “longtime American allies and beneficiaries whose power survived Mr. Mubarak’s departure.” (Nov. 21) Washington looked to the officer corps to make cosmetic changes but to keep the old system virtually intact. It may be possible for the mass movement to win over the rank-and-file soldiers, but the upper officers are tied to the ruling class and to imperialism.

Now U.S. officials are worried. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said earlier in November that “If, over time, the most powerful political force in Egypt remains a roomful of unelected officials, they will have planted the seeds for future unrest, and Egyptians will have missed a historic opportunity.” (New York Times, Nov. 21)

Along with the military, the Muslim Brotherhood, as the best organized force and one that did not challenge property relations, is expected to play a role in the new government.

There is also a secular opposition both to Mubarak and to the military regime. This opposition has some elements that are conciliatory to imperialism and others that are decidedly anti-imperialist, and includes a minority of Marxist and other pro-socialist forces.

The imperialists and the Egyptian military have often tried to incite hostility between the Islamic and secular forces, or between Muslims and Coptic Christians. However, the latter have blamed the government, not the Muslims, for attacks that led to deaths within their community, like the dozens killed by security forces Oct. 9.

In this latest demonstration, secular forces joined the demonstration originally called by the Muslim Brotherhood. Coptic Christians stood guard in Tahrir Square against the army while the Muslim demonstrators took time out to pray. (New York Times, Nov. 21)

Both inside and outside these organizations are the tens of millions of workers and other poor people in Egypt, in unions or not, who have been the motor force of the revolution. None of their basic demands, that is, the social demands for higher wages, more social benefits, etc., have been won yet.

These powerful mass forces impact on all the organizations. Their demands cannot be won through any government that conciliates with world imperialism. This next phase of the Egyptian revolution has just begun.

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