Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Egypt: Mubarak Gone, Workers to Power! [IG/LFI]

Worker Mobilization Brought Down “Pharaoh,”
But U.S.-Backed Army Junta Grabs Power

Egypt: Mubarak Gone, Workers to Power!
Suez Canal workers strike on February 9 demanding ouster of company chairman (an admiral), pay increase and social equality. Strike wave by Egyptian workers finally forced out Mubarak. (Photo: AP)

End the Siege of Gaza – Open the Border Now!
Block U.S. Warships from Suez Canal!
For a Socialist Federation of the Near East!

On February 11, the Egyptian strongman Hosni Mubarak was ousted after 30 years in power. After 18 days of continuous protests by hundreds of thousands of Egyptians, and two days after strikes swept across the country, the hated dictator departed. The streets of Cairo, Alexandria and other cities exploded in joy. Upwards of 2 million people streamed into Maidan al-Tahrir (Liberation Square) to celebrate. Fireworks exploded overhead, youth danced on burned-out armored personnel carriers. The slogan “The people want the regime to fall,” borrowed from Tunisia, became, “The people, at last, have brought down the regime.”

This is at best a partial truth, at worst a deadly illusion. The determined mass protests, courageously resisting and throwing back every bloody assault by the regime, played a vital role in forcing Mubarak out. The workers mobilization was what finally triggered his downfall. But although the despotic Raïs (Leader) is gone, the army-based regime that has lorded it over Egypt for more than half a century remains. Talk of “democracy” under the dictatorship of capital, particularly in semi-colonial countries like Egypt, is a lie. The ouster of Pharaoh, as the Egyptian president was unaffectionately known, must lead to workers revolution if autocratic rule is to be swept away.

Demonstrators remarked over and over that for the first time they were proud to be Egyptian. They wanted to honor the more than 300 martyrs who were killed by the regime in the recent mobilizations: their blood was not shed in vain. But beyond the pride in having brought down the despot, we must look at the hard facts:

* The huge repressive apparatus is intact: The notorious Central Security Force which viciously beat demonstrators is still in place. The Republican Guard, in charge of protecting the government, is still in place. The 2 million-strong National Police as well as the army of police spies, squads of baltagi (regime-paid rent-a-thugs) and legions of torturers are still in place.

* While government media have begun to wobble, and Law 100 giving the state control of union elections was recently annulled by restive justices, the gigantic apparatus of the corporatist regime – including the National Democratic Party, the official Egyptian Trade Union Federation (ETUF) and other state organizations that controlled every aspect of Egyptian life – is still intact.

* The 30-year-old national emergency law is still in place, and the military is in no hurry to remove it. The army command is unchanged: The head of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, which now holds the reins of power, is Field Marshall Hussein Tantawi, referred to by junior officers (according to U.S. cables released by WikiLeaks) as “Mubarak’s poodle.”

* The sinister longtime intelligence chief and short-lived “vice president,” Omar Suleiman, who was in charge of the “extraordinary renditions” of CIA prisoners to Egypt’s dungeons, is still around. Praised by Israeli leaders and popular with U.S. officials because he was “not squeamish” about things like torture, Suleiman messed up Washington’s “orderly transition” by openly asserting on a TV talk show that the Egyptian people lacked a “culture of democracy.”

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