[News] Egypt in Movement
news at freedomarchives.org
Thu Mar 3 11:06:57 EST 2011
Egypt in Movement
By <http://www.zcommunications.org/zspace/samiramin>Samir Amin
Samir Amin (SA): In the short paper, I wanted to
stress the strategy of the enemy, that is, the
strategy of the USA and the ruling class of
Egypt. Many people do not understand this. Now I
would like to discuss the components and the strategies of the movement.
There are four components of the opposition. One
is the youth. They are politicized young people,
they are organized very strongly, they are more
than one million organized, which is not at all a
small number. They are against the social and
economic system. Whether they are anti-capitalist
is a little theoretical for them, but they are
against social injustice and growing inequality.
They are nationalist in the good sense, they are
anti-imperialist. They hate the submission of
Egypt to the US hegemony. They are therefore
against so-called peace with Israel, which
tolerates Israels continued colonization of
occupied Palestine. They are democratic, totally
against the dictatorship of the army and the
police. They have decentralized leaderships. When
they gave the order to demonstrate, the
mobilization was one million. But within a few
hours, the actual figure was not one million, but
fifteen million, everywhere throughout the whole
nation, and in the quarters of small towns and
villages. They had an immediate gigantic positive echo in the whole nation.
The second component is the radical left, which
comes from the communist tradition. The young are
not anti communist, but they do not want to be
put in the frame of a party with chiefs and
orders. They do not have bad relations with the
communists. Absolutely no problem. Thanks to the
demonstrations, there is a coming together, not
of leadership, but of interaction.
The third component is the middle class
democrats. The system is so police and so mafia
that many, including small businessmen, were
continuously racketed in order to survive. They
are not part of the left; they accept capitalism,
business and the market, they are even not
totally anti-American, they do not love Israel
but they accept it. But they are democrats,
against the concentration of power of the army,
police and the gang mafia around. El Baradei is
typical of them, he has no idea of the economy
other than what it is -- the market. He does not
know what socialism is, but he is democrat.
The fourth component is the Muslim Brotherhood.
Even if they have a public political popular
echo, they are ultra reactionary. They have not
only religious ideology, they are reactionaries
on social ground. They have been openly against
the strikes of the workers, standing with the
state. They think workers should accept the
market. They took a position against the
peasants movement. There is a strong middle
peasant movement, they are menaced by the market,
by the rich peasants, and they struggle for the
right to maintain their property. Muslim
Brotherhood took a position against them, saying
that land property is a private right, and the
market is sacrosanct in Koran. Muslim Brotherhood
has in fact been complicit with the regime. The
regime and Muslim Brotherhood are in apparent
conflict, but in fact they are combined. The
State has given three major institutions up to
the Muslim Brotherhood: education, justice, and
state TV; these are very important state
institutions. Through education, they have
imposed the veil first for the girls in school
and then for society. Through justice, they
introduced the Islam law sharia. Through the
media, they influence public opinion. The
leadership has always been a corrupted political
leadership made of very rich people. They have
always been financed by Saudi Arabia, which means
by the USA. But they have two big influences, one
in the sectors of the middle class which are pro
capitalist, anti-communist, afraid of the people,
and they think Muslim rule is not a bad thing.
These are spontaneously with them. They are very
influential among teachers, medical doctors, and
lawyers etc. At the same time, they have a lumpen
support in which they recruit their paid
militias. In Egypt, extreme poverty is large
scale. We have 5 million in Cairo that can be
totally deprived among a population of 15
million. Among the very poor with very low
political understanding, Muslim Brotherhood has
this army that they can mobilize.
What happens is the following. The movement was
started by the youth, joined immediately by the
radical left, and joined the next day by the
bourgeois democrats. Muslim Brotherhood boycotted
for the first four days because they thought the
movement would be defeated by the police. When
they saw that the movement could not be defeated,
the leadership thought they could not stay out,
and they moved in. This fact must be known.
We come to the strategy of the USA. The system is
not Mubarak, but the people started with one
symbol, which is Mubarak. A few hours after
Mubarak nominated Omar Suleiman as vice
president, the slogan shouted by the people was
No Mubarak, no Suleiman, they are two
Americans. Obama said we want a soft transition,
which would be something like in the Philippines.
The people say, we want to get rid of not one
criminal but all criminals, a real transition not
a farce, so there is a very high political
consciousness. Yet the USA target is a soft
transition. How? By opening negotiation with the
right and the centre, with Muslim Brotherhood and
eventually some bourgeois democrats, they would
isolate the left and the youth. That is their
strategy. With or without formal concessions,
they say soon Mubarak will be out. An invitation
to so called negotiation was initiated by vice
president Soliman. The Muslim Brotherhood
leadership is clever, they did not surrender. But
they accepted the principle of negotiations with the system.
The conference of the movement, which is
discussing everyday, is establishing the rules for a real transition:
First, the immediate dissolution of the
fabricated assembly, second, the immediate
lifting of the martial law and allowing free
demonstration, third, starting the project of a
new constitution; fourth, the assembly elected
should be a constitutional assembly and fifth,
not immediate or fast elections, but allow for a
long time of freedom. If it is immediate
elections, many people will vote for the Muslims
because they are organized, they have the media,
and so on. But if you allow for a year of real
freedom, the left and the youth can then organize themselves.
It is the beginning of a long struggle. Egypt is
a country of long revolutions. From 1920 to 1952,
with ups and downs. In the long run, the youth
and the left are the majority, with capacity of
action. But a bad possible scenario is the
possibility of Muslim Brotherhood attacking them.
They have tried. The system is very vicious. It
had opened the prison and released 17,000
criminals, given them pro-Mubarak badges, arms,
money, and the guarantee that they would not
return to the prison, for them to attack the
demonstrators. These criminals could not have
escaped from the prison without the protection of
the police. Nobody from the movement opened the prison.
Q: You think the young people are for the left.
But it seems likely that the right and Muslim
Brotherhood will try to divide the young people.
I think it is important that the youth, even the
democrats, are not for the Americans.
SA: Many democrats are neutral, not against the
Americans. El Baradei is rather naïve that the
Americans are for democracy. We continue
repeating that the target of USA is not democracy.
Q: What has been the role of the workers and the farmers?
SA: Three years ago, there was a wave of strikes
in Egypt, the strongest in the African continent,
South Africa included, since 50 years. The
official trade unions are completely controlled
by the state, since the time of Nasser, like the
Soviet model of state control of the trade union.
The strike did not start from the trade union
leadership, but from the bottom. We can say it
was spontaneous in terms of it not being
initiated by the leadership. It was a success, a
gigantic success. The regime three years ago
wanted to send the police. The companies said no,
it was impossible, because we could have all the
factories destroyed. They negotiated. The strikes
won very small concessions, 10% or 15% increase
of wages, which was less than what had been eaten
by the inflation of those years. However it won
something important for dignity, and for trade
union rights, such as no one would be dismissed
without the knowledge of the trade union. They
established themselves as new independent trade
union. They are there now in the movement.
The peasant movement is much more difficult in
connecting. There has always been a radical
movement since 1920. You have the latifundias,
but there are also the rich peasants which are
very strong in rural society since they are not
the absentees, and they have relations with the
government, the lawyers, the doctors. There are
the middle peasants, the poor and the very poor
peasants, and the landless. The situation of the
landless, curiously, has not deteriorated in the
last 30 years, because they have out migrated to
the Gulf countries for work, and they have made
some small money which allowed them not to buy
back land, but to establish themselves in the
grey, informal economic activities. The very poor
are menaced, because the neo liberal market
allows and facilitates them to be expropriated by
the rich peasants, new capitalist landowners, and
modern Egyptian companies associated with
agrobusiness. They are very radical, they are not
anti-communist, but they do not know what
communism is. They simply do not know. It is the
weakness of the communists that they have never
been able to integrate them. The only people who
went to discuss with them were the communists,
not Muslims, not bourgeois democrats. But nobody
has influence on them. But they have continued their struggles.
Q: Have the workers and the peasants participated in the recent mobilizations?
SA: The peasants have mobilized in the small
villages, but there are no links with the global
movement. They do not participate in the
conference that is discussing the transition.
Q: Are the movements mostly urban?
SA: Yes, also in small towns.
Q: How would you explain their spontaneity?
SA: The people are fed up with everything, with
the police. If you happen to be arrested, even if
it is only because of the red light, you will be
beaten and tortured. There is the daily torture
and repression from the police. Absolute
impunity. Most ugly. People are also fed up with
the mafia system. The entrepreneurs that the
World Bank says are the future, are gangsters.
Where do they have their fortune? From selling
land of the state given to them by the state for
nothing, for building projects; wealth
accumulated by dispossession. They are squeezing the real entrepreneurs.
People are also fed up with the American
dictates. Egyptians are good nationalists. We
ask, how can we be so low, that the American
ambassador and president dictate everything
everyday? There is also the social degradation.
Unemployment and poverty is growing for the
majority, inequality is gigantic. So all that
combined. The government has no legitimacy. Now
that is no more. Sudden explosions. People got
killed. But they know that if you struggle, you may die.
Q: What is the impact on solidarity on Arab countries?
SA: It will have an echo, but each country is
different. Tunisia is a small country, with a
higher level of education and of living, but it
is a small country and vulnerable in the global economy.
Q: It seems people are more organized in Tunisia,
and it is more spontaneous in Egypt. There would
certainly be an impact on Palestine?
SA: Sure, also impact on Syria which is very
complex. It is very difficult to know the impact
on Iraq. South Yemen is nationalist populist left
and with Marxist rhetoric and some thinking of
the radical left, the strong feeling for one
nation. But it is like Korea, with a backward
north and an advanced south. Yemen may split
again, because the south cannot accept unity.
Q: Please comment on the latest developments.
SA: What has happened is that firstly, Mubarak
has not resigned. He has been dismissed by a coup
detat of the head of the army, and he and his
fellow vice president Omar Suleiman have been
dismissed. This new official leadership of the
army is claiming that it will hold power until
new elections, and then the army will go back to
the barracks. In the meantime, they are responsible for the transition.
But the conference of the movements has continued
its work, to push for its demands for a new
democracy with all freedoms such as organization and access to the media.
Secondly, this conference will deliberate on a
concept of new constitution, so that the assembly
that will be elected will be a constitutional
assembly, not a legislative assembly, even if the
government makes its soft amendments to the present constitution.
It is too early to know how this new government
will manage the condition. We will know in the
coming days. The movement has not completed its
project. The leadership of the army wants a
strong transition with an election in which of
course the Muslim Brotherhood will be highly
represented. We want a slow transition in order
to allow for the new political, democratic forces
to organize themselves, to elaborate their
programmes and projects, and to have access to
the public opinion, before the elections.
Dr. Samir Amin is a prominent Egyptian political
economist who currently lives in Dakar, Senegal.
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
More information about the News