Bloody repression can be turned against striking workers and youth
Niall Mulholland, from The Socialist, weekly newspaper of the Socialist Party (CWI England and Wales)
The Egyptian state’s bloody crackdown against Muslim Brotherhood supporters continues, leaving hundreds dead and injured. At least 83 died during last Saturday’s police massacre of supporters of former president Mohamed Morsi, near the Rabaa Adawiya sit-in protest, in east Cairo.
The regime claimed that pro-Morsi supporters fired first, while the Muslim Brotherhood accused the police of orchestrating a bloodbath. Many victims were shot in the head and chest – a clear ‘shoot-to-kill’ policy.
The tops of the military and police seem intent on violently crushing all pro-Morsi demonstrations and intimidating dissent. Deposed president Morsi remains under arrest and is charged with conspiring with the Palestinian Islamist Hamas and carryin out “economic sabotage”. Saturday’s massacre followed calls by the Egypt’s army chief, Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, for mass protests against pro-Morsi “terrorists”.
US Secretary of State, John Kerry, could only bring himself to note “deep concern about the bloodshed and violence”. Unlike Libya under Colonel Gaddafi‘s rule in 2011, the EU, Britain, France and the US are not advocating any serious action to stop state massacres in Egypt. This is because the Egyptian military are a key ally of US imperialism in the region, funded to the tune of $1.3bn a year by the Pentagon. The US and EU are broadly backing al-Sisi, while pushing for the stabilisation of an ‘inclusive’ regime in Egypt, to see an end to mass protests.
Enormous July movement
Morsi was removed by the army tops on 2 July, following enormous anti-Muslim Brotherhood protests involving at least 17 million people. The mass movement was fuelled by deep anger at the Muslim Brotherhood’s right wing policies, authoritarianism, collusion with police brutality, largely pro-US foreign policy and for presiding over the country’s disastrous economic situation. Tragically the huge movement had no independent leadership and the military tops were able to put themselves back into power.
Big parts of the ‘deep state’, including the old Mubarak apparatus, were never reconciled to Muslim Brotherhood rule. The generals also acted to remove Morsi to cut across the street protests and a planned general strike, which they feared could have threatened the entire ruling elite.
Working people in Egypt have nothing to gain from the current military-appointed regime, which involves various neo-liberals, Mubarak-era figures and Mohammad El-Baradei, a leader of the pro-capitalist National Salvation Front, and now Vice President. The regime will come under intense pressure from the IMF to make cuts in fuel and food subsidies and other austerity measures in return for a financial lifeline, throwing millions more Egyptians into penury. Inevitably the regime will come into direct conflict with the working class. The state’s guns fired against Muslim Brotherhood supporters today can be turned against striking workers and radicalised youth tomorrow. The interim prime minister was given powers this week to declare a state of emergency and he announced the return of notorious Mubarak-era police units.
Masses will not accept new repressive regime
The Tamarod (Rebel) movement that helped spark the mass anti-Morsi movement was supported by some left groups, like the Revolutionary Socialists. But Tamarod spokespersons supported the generals’ takeover. A leader of the independent unions, Kamal Abu-Eita, is now Minister for Manpower and advocating an end to all industrial action.
The Egyptian masses have shown great reservoirs of energy and courage in overthrowing two regimes in just a few months. They will not easily accept a new repressive regime and neo-liberal policies. But to satisfy the urgent demands of the masses – including democratic rights, jobs and a living wage – requires the building of a genuinely independent workers’ movement with socialist policies to struggle for power and to transform society.