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Issue #1488      9  February 2011

In solidarity with heroic struggle of the Egyptian people

Statement Central Committee, Communist Party of Australia

Egypt is witnessing a popular uprising against the despotic regime of President Hosni Mubarak. For over a week, tens of thousands of people have been demonstrating in the streets demanding an end to Mubarak’s rule. They have braved police brutality and attacks by organised pro-Mubarak gangs. About 300 have given their lives, many more have been injured and an unknown number may still be in jails.

The Communist Party of Australia stands in solidarity with this heroic struggle in Egypt’s political and economic life to achieve democracy, jobs and bread.

We are witnessing a national democratic revolution, a determined attempt to overthrow a corrupt reactionary, pro-imperialist regime.

For decades the peoples of Egypt, Tunisia and the whole of North Africa and the Arab world have borne the brunt of dictatorship and brutal repression. These dictatorships have been backed and sustained by the United States.

Workers and their families have experienced super-exploitation, poverty and hunger while western governments turned a blind eye to these massive abuses and continued to arm and train the military machines that have been used to keep the people down. Workers’ organisations, from their trade unions to their political parties, have been savagely suppressed.

The 30-year period of the Mubarak regime has been marked by authoritarianism, suppression of democratic rights, corruption and merciless neo-liberal economic policies pushed by the World Bank and IMF since the 1990s. Nationalised industries and public services developed by Egypt’s Gamal Abdel Nasser with Soviet support in the 1950s are disappearing.

A devastating IMF program imposed in 1991 brought deregulation of food prices, sweeping privatisation and massive austerity measures which led to the impoverishment of the Egyptian population and the destabilisation of its economy. Almost half of all Egyptians live at or below the poverty line, and prices for basic items like bread have soared.

Neo-liberal policy, grinding poverty and repression are the backdrop to this strife. The uprising is rooted in the social and economic grievances of the working and middle classes.

It was organised initially by young Facebook and Twitter activists inspired by the success of Tunisians in overthrowing Ben Ali. They came from the Kifaya (Enough) movement – a coalition of government opponents – and the April 6 Youth Movement. Formed three years ago, this takes its name from a April 6, 2008 general strike that itself stemmed from a year-long strike by textile workers in Ghazi el-Mahalla. Key issues in the general strike were the soaring cost of bread and other basic necessities, and demands for increased wages.

However, what seemed initially to be a movement of Egyptian young people demanding change drew in workers, opposition political parties, civil society groups and other forces to become a popular uprising.

The popular mobilisation we are witnessing on the streets of Egypt also has its roots in the courage and persistence of the organisations representing the workers and other progressive forces – among them the Communist Party of Egypt – who have worked for many years under very difficult conditions to rebuild the workers’ movement, weakened by successive cycles of repression and political persecution.

The Communist Party of Egypt has experienced decades of repression. Its members have suffered imprisonment and death at the hands of this regime. They have shown great courage and have succeeded in mobilising tens of thousands of workers in recent years in waves of strikes that have contributed to weakening the regime.

Egypt occupies a highly strategic position, straddling Africa and Asia, and it controls the Suez Canal, the vital shipping link for oil and other products moving between Asia and Europe and beyond.

The US and its European and Israeli allies will fight to prevent the Egyptian people controlling their nation’s military and energy policies, and what passes through the Suez Canal. The threat of military intervention hangs over the nation. Imperialism has invaded Egypt once before to maintain control of the Suez Canal.

The US has given Mubarak military aid worth US$1.3 billion per year. This has funded the largest army in the Middle East and helped maintain Mubarak in power. In addition most of the millions have gone straight back into the coffers of US corporations. The biggest winners over the last decade have been Lockheed Martin ($3.8 billion); General Dynamics ($2.5 billion); Boeing ($1.7 billion); Raytheon ($750 million); and GE ($750 million).

The ultra-conservative Fox TV raised the spectre of Islamic fundamentalism, reporting: “If Mubarak falls, the United States and its other principal ally in the Middle East, Israel, could have to face a government of the Muslim Brothers in Cairo, and a turn towards anti-western sentiment in the North African country.” But this is not an Islamic-led movement.

The Obama administration has had to abandon Mubarak and find alternative ways of propping up its strategic interests.

While the US has supported Mubarak over the last 30 years, US foundations have quietly supported sections of the political opposition. This “political leveraging” or “manufacturing dissent” is an old tactic of imperialism.

Posing as defenders of “democracy” and the “right of peaceful dissent” and promoting an “orderly transition”, the US is trying to control the popular movement and achieve cosmetic changes to preserve the interests of monopoly capital and imperialism.

The national government is the target of the protest movement. The slogan is Mubarak must go. There have been no reports of anti-American chants or slogans.

However, to win its aims the people’s movement will have to deepen, targeting not only the puppet but also the US puppet master.

US imperialism and its allies are desperately concerned that the Egyptian national democratic and anti-imperialist revolution will succeed and spread to other parts of the Arab world, threatening other client regimes and undermining US-Israeli hegemony in the region.

What is happening in Egypt is already affecting Jordan, Yemen, Algeria, Morocco as well as other states. The balance of forces, the political map is changing in a process which may be diverted or delayed but cannot be stopped.

A new Egyptian government could break the blockade of Gaza.

The events sweeping Egypt in recent days, as well as the heroic uprising of the Tunisian people show that the days of the oppressive Arab regimes are numbered and that the will of the people for democracy, freedom and a decent life cannot be denied.

The Egyptian uprising demonstrates the power and the potential of the people .to bring about real change. The masses make history.

Current events in Egypt and across the Arab world challenge the domination of the US dictatorship of capital, they challenge its murderous wars of economic, political and cultural domination, and they challenge the oppression and destruction of the Palestinian people.

Regardless of the immediate outcome, the mass uprising in Egypt marks a turning point not only for Egypt, but for the Middle East and surrounding countries, and for US foreign policy. Imperialism and the reactionary, Zionist state of Israel have a lot to lose.  

Next article – Editorial – Housing – on the list of neo-liberal failures

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