Frontlines of Revolutionary Struggle

where the lines are drawn and news is made

Egypt on the brink of a new dark age, as the generals close in for the kill

World View: Compromise is no longer feasible, and the army controls the levers of power. But can its victory be conclusive?

All parties in Egypt have overplayed their hands in the two and a half years since the fall of Hosni Mubarak in 2011. In the first months it was the army high command deceiving itself into believing it could marginalise those demanding radical democratic change. Then it was President Mohamed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood interpreting a narrow electoral victory as a mandate to rule alone. With the overthrow of Morsi by the army on 3 July and the massacre of Muslim Brotherhood followers on 14 August, the Egyptian army is gambling that it can win an outright victory and crush the Brotherhood, eliminating it permanently from Egyptian political life.

Too much blood has flowed for compromise to be feasible. Plausible suggestions made in early August about how the crisis might be brought under control now look out of date. Perhaps such hopes were always delusory: the army was never going to cede power back to Muslim Brotherhood leaders whom it had just put in jail, and those leaders were not going to legitimise a military coup against a legally elected government. Continue reading

Egyptian court orders Mubarak released from prison

CAIRO —Former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak could leave prison as early as Wednesday night, government officials and legal experts said, after a Cairo court ordered the release of the deposed autocrat who ruled Egypt for three decades.Mubarak’s release would constitute a dramatic blow to the broad protest movement that forced his removal from office in February 2011. It would also lend credibility to the Islamist opposition’s claims that the old regime is reasserting itself following a July 3 military coup that ousted Mohamed Morsi, the country’s first democratically elected president. Egyptian security services in recent weeks have launched a deadly crackdown against Morsi’s allies. Continue reading

ATIK: “WE CONDEMN THE MASSACRE OF THE FASCIST MILITARY JUNTA AGAINST THE PEOPLE OF EGYPT!”

[An important statement by the organization of migrants from Turkey in Europe, issued 16 August 2013. -- Frontlines ed.]
The attacks against the masses who gathered on the squares in Egypt in defiance of the military coup have turned into a massacre. Hundreds of people who took to the squares against the fascist military coup are killed, thousands are injured during the attack. And while these brutal attacks continue with all its barbarism, state of emergency was declared in many cities in Egypt.
As the deepening contradictions in Egypt are not being resolved, they have put the country in a more complex situation. As is known, the people of Egypt now more impoverishing and suffering from more repression have toppled the Hosni Mubarak regime with the rebellion started two years ago. However the spontaneous peoples uprising lacked revolutionary leadership and the  Egyptian army attempting to control the uprising, supervised the elections and the Muhammed Mursi administration came to power. As it is its nature, also this administration in its core continued the rule of the previous administration. Upon this the masses have risen again.
Following this uprising the army was once more activated to prevent the growing popular opposition to flow into a revolutionary stream. With this aim, the coup on behalf of the Supreme Military Council was committed and the leadership was seized. Muhammed Mursi was arrested on 3rd July. As a result the narrow minded organization Muslim Brotherhood have lead the masses within their influence spheres to demonstrations. The backward segments in the government will  use doctrines based on religion and nationalism on the poor layers of the people for their own gain. In fact,  this is what the Muslim Brotherhood Movement (Muslim Brotherhood) is doing.
This coup in Egypt is not independent from the imperialists. In fact, the coup by the Supreme Military Council was made with the directives of the US.  The current situation is clearly reflecting this. Following this the US imperialist has not been able to conceal the support they have given the coup in Egypt. Therefore the intervention was not even called a coup, and a declaration that they will continue with the annual financial aid was issued. Although the EU and US imperialists have “condemned” the junta’s attacks, massacring hundreds of people, this was merely to justify themselves. Despite these condemnations the role they played in this massacre cannot be camouflaged.  On the contrary, they have played a determining role in the coup and the massacre of the masses. Continue reading

US’ Egyptian “democratic” puppetry — military vs muslim bro., anything but the people

Those who lead the country into the abyss
Call ruling too difficult
For ordinary men.
–  Bertolt Brecht

Obama expresses concern, but does not condemn Egyptian military intervention

WASHINGTON U.S. President Barack Obama expressed deep concern about the Egyptian military’s removal of President Mohamed Mursi on Wednesday but stopped short of condemning a move that could lead to a cut-off in U.S. aid.

Obama issued a written statement responding to dramatic events in Cairo after huddling with his top national security advisers at the White House. The session took place shortly after the Egyptian military made its move.

Obama stopped short of an outright condemnation of the intervention, which came amid growing concern among U.S. officials over Mursi’s leadership. Continue reading

Egypt: US Urges Opposition to Join Morsi in ‘Electoral Path’–but Opponents Say, ‘Stop Meddling’

Egypt: Opposition Group Denounces U.S. Intervention in Egypt Affairs

Aswat Masriya, 27 February 2013

Egypt’s National Association for change condemned on Wednesday the “outright intervention of the United States in Egypt’s internal affairs” which was expressed in the U.S. State Department call to the opposition to participate in the parliamentary elections.

Spokesperson of the U.S. State Department, Edgar Vasquez, has urged all the Political Parties to participate in the upcoming elections, saying, “Elections give the Egyptians a chance to have their voices heard.”

“It is crucial for all Egyptian parties to be involved,” said Vasquez, as reported by the American Network, Fox News.

In response to Vasquez’s remarks, the National Association for Change issued a statement saying, “Neither America, nor any other country, has the right to provide advice to Egyptians, or interfere in any way in the internal affairs of Egypt.”

“The successive governments of the United States have supported Hosni Mubarak’s regime unconditionally, which sponsored corruption and tyranny. They continue to disgracefully support the Muslim Brotherhood’s repressive regime,” said the statement.

The statement added that according to U.S. reports, Barack Obama’s administration has provided financial aid of one billion and a half dollars to the Muslim Brotherhood to enable it to take over the revolution and the government. Continue reading

Egypt’s irrepressible spirit of rebellion: The art of Mohamed Mahmoud Street

The Dramaturgy of A Street Corner

 Jan 25 2013 by Mona Abaza, http://www.jadaliyya.com
[Street cafe set up at the intersection of Mohamed Mahmoud Street and Tahrir Square. Photo by Mona Abaza (Captured 30 April 2012)] [Street cafe set up at the intersection of Mohamed Mahmoud Street and Tahrir Square. Photo by Mona Abaza (Captured 30 April 2012)]

Much like the ongoing revolutionary struggle in Egypt, this short piece is part of an in-progress work to chronicle the evolution of revolutionary art on Mohamed Mahmoud Street, also known as the “street of the eyes of freedom”—nicknamed as such since many protesters lost their eyes on that same street after being targeted by professional snipers during protests in 2011. (See previous articles on this subject by clicking here, here, here, here, and here. Also see interview with artist Alaa Awad on the subject by clicking here).

For a second consecutive year, Mohammed Mahmud Street witnessed intensive turmoil, and chronic violent clashes between demonstrators and security forces. Clashes ensued again in November 2012, ironically in the context of demonstrations that were organized to commemorate the previous year’s clashes of 19-24 November 2011, known as the Mohamed Mahdmoud Street battles. The clashes seemed like a farcical reenactment of those of the previous year, much like the Mohamed Morsi presidency and the Muslim Brotherhood, for many revolutionaries, are farcically reenacting the same policies, mindset, and discourse of the Hosni Mubarak regime.

Repertoire here might perhaps be one key concept that can help explain why the regular use of violence by authorities, and the recycling of the old regime’s discourses by the perpetrators of such violence have become dominant elements in the apparent counter-revolution led by the Muslim Brotherhood. Many anticipate that 2013 will be a decisive year for the wielders of power in their (recurrently violent) confrontations with the large segments of the population that are growingly losing faith in the Muslim Brotherhood. The hastily drafted constitution, and the overt threat it poses to basic principles of human rights and citizenship, perhaps underscore the Brotherhood’s desperation and angst over their faltering efforts to assert their control over—or as some call it, to “Brotherhoodize”—the state. Continue reading

Open letter of the Syrian Revolutionary left to support the Syrian popular revolution!

[The views and voice of the Syrian revolutionary left has been difficult to hear amidst the clamor of contending distortions by international media--whether Western, Russian, Chinese, or from within the Middle East.  We are seeking more information from popular secular forces involved in the uprising--including more information about the revolutionary left forces.  The following is an important statement and analysis by the Revolutionary Left in Syria, detailing the role and relations of the various forces within Syria and of the world imperialist and regional forces who have been attempting to seize control of the uprising.  We will report further materials confirming and contextualizing this, as they become available. --  Frontlines ed.]

“The major Western imperialists powers, and other world imperialist powers such as Russia and China, as well as regional ones such as Iran and Turkey, in their entirety and without exception, continue to try to implement a Yemeni-type solution in Syria – in other words, to cut off the head of the regime, the dictator Bashar Al Assad, while keeping its structure intact, as was witnessed during meetings between U.S. and Russian officials, or at the international conference in June 30 in Geneva. The only sticking point is the Russian position of still trying by all means to keep Assad in power, but Russia may sacrifice this in the near future to protect its interests in Syria. The United States in turn has repeatedly expressed its desire to preserve the structure of the military and security services intact.”  – from the Open Letter of the Syrian Revolutionary left

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 The resistance of the Syrian people has not ceased to grow since the revolutionary process began in March 2011. The struggle of the Syrian people is part of the popular struggles in Tunisia and Egypt, which has spread to other countries in the region.

Similarly, the Syrian revolutionary process is part of the global anti-capitalist struggles. The “Indignados” or “occupied” movements and occupations have taken their inspiration from the Arab revolutions. More than 700 cities in over 70 countries have resonated and for some still resonate of slogans and demands of a movement that demonstrates against poverty and the power of finance. In the same time, the resistance of the Greek people against the dictates imposed by financial agencies and notations is also a battle for dignity and social justice, but also the emancipation against the capitalist order and not its submission, joining the struggles of the peoples of the region.

The Syrian uprising, arising out of the global financial and economic crisis is also a revolt against the neoliberal policies imposed by the authoritarian regime, and encouraged by international financial institutions like the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank (WB).

The neoliberal policies were used to dismantle and to weaken increasingly the public services in the country, to the removal of subsidies, especially for basic necessities, while accelerating the privatization process, often in favor of the ruling and bourgeois classes linked to the political power.

The neoliberal reforms of the regime have encouraged a policy based on the reception and the welcoming of foreign direct investment, the development of exports and of the service sector, especially tourism. The repressive apparatus of this country has served as a “security agent” for these companies, protecting them of all disorders or social demands. This State has played the role of matchmaker for foreign capital and multinationals, while ensuring the enrichment of a bourgeois class linked to the regime.

The ills and consequences of these neoliberal policies in Syria are numerous. This includes the high rate of unemployment, particularly among young university graduates who cannot find opportunities in an economy now focused on low value-added jobs, and where skilled labor is scarce, or characterized by underemployment, a direct consequence of these measures. Continue reading

Egypt: Walls of breaking news-views

by Mona Abaza, Jadalliyya
[Half-Mubarak/Half-Tantawi mural repainted with Amr Mousa and Ahmed Shafiq appearing in the background. Photo by Mona Abaza]
[Half-Mubarak/Half-Tantawi mural repainted with Amr Mousa and Ahmed Shafiq appearing in the background. Photo by Mona Abaza]

The Mohammed Mahmud wall remains alive and kicking through its graffiti, which is getting altered by the hour. The walls continue to be whitened thanks to the efforts of Egyptian authorities. Yet drawings keep on appearing layers after layers to cover the older ones and the white paint. Not only have the walls of Mohammed Mahmud Street become “a memorial space,” as I have noted in a previous contribution, but also a barometer of the Egyptian revolution. The murals seem to be vividly narrating the most recent political turmoil, portraying the state of the arts of the revolution. Sardonic graffiti and abundant insults against counter-revolutionary forces are re-emerging by the hour. Three recent drawings are worthy of attention.


[Half-Mubarak/Half-Tantawi mural before it was erased. Photo by Mona Abaza.]


[Half-Mubarak/Half-Tantawi mural repainted with Amr Mousa and Ahmed Shafiq appearing
in the background. Photo by Mona Abaza] Continue reading

Palestine: How hunger strikers “tied the hands of the occupation”: a view from Israeli prison

A demonstration in solidarity with hunger-striking Palestinian prisoners, Jaffa, 12 May 2012. (Oren Ziv / ActiveStills)

A demonstration in solidarity with hunger-striking Palestinian prisoners, Jaffa, 12 May 2012.

(Oren Ziv / ActiveStills)

Palestinians have achieved three consecutive victories in the last few months. In October 2011, there was the release of prisoners (the exchange deal involving the kidnapped Israeli soldier).

Then there was a series of individual hunger strikes, which lasted for unparalleled periods of time. These began with Khader Adnan, who went on hunger strike to protest against the Israeli policy of administrative detention.

Adnan’s action spurred an open-ended hunger strike by prisoners, started by more than a thousand prisoners on 17 April. It ended on 14 May, with more than 2,000 prisoners taking part. The strike began a new page in the history of the Palestinian struggle for liberation, written by the prisoners along with their Arab and international supporters.

The agreement signed on 14 May 2012 between the authorities in charge of the strike and Israel — with Egyptian and international mediation and guarantees — confirmed that the prisoner movement not only scored a major achievement, but realized a clear victory. We can now speak of two periods, the before and after, with the watershed moment being the hunger strike of 2012. Continue reading

Al Jazeera video: “Is this the end of Egypt’s revolution?”


Published on Jun 25, 2012 by AlJazeeraEnglish

The decision by Egypt’s electoral commission ends a week of uncertainty in a country without a parliament or a constitution, and a barely functioning economy. There is a new president, the country’s first elected leader. Mohammed Morsi, the candidate for the Muslim Brotherhood. Is Egypt’s political limbo over? Guests: Hisham Kassem, Waleed El-Haddad, Adel Darwish.

The Islamist Complex: Will the Left Rise to the Challenge?

“So why fear the Islamist rise? Let the Islamists rule, and fail. Let the Islamists expose their opportunist positions on imperialism and Israel. Let the Islamists contradict their double speech on liberties by suppressing social freedoms, arts and literature. Let the Islamists maintain the capitalist model which will leave impoverished Arab populations with no hope. Exposing the Islamist shortcomings will aid the formation of a true unashamed secular, leftist, and anti-capitalist current, which will be forced to present theoretical arguments, confront reality and deliver answers and programs.”
This is Part Three of a series by Hisham Bustani, “One Year After the Arab Uprisings.”
Part One, titled “The Failure of the Arab ‘State’ and Its Opposition” was posted on revolutionary frontlines at http://revolutionaryfrontlines.wordpress.com/2012/04/20/the-failure-of-the-arab-state-and-its-opposition
Part Two, titled “Arab Uprisings: Progress, But Not Yet a Revolution”, was posted at http://revolutionaryfrontlines.wordpress.com/2012/05/05/arab-uprisings-progress-but-not-yet-a-revolution/

A young boy waves a black flag inscribed with Islamic verses at a rally of Tunisian Salafi Islamists in the central town of Kairouan 20 May 2012. (Photo: Reuters – Anis Mili)

By: Hisham Bustani

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Since the Arab uprisings were not class-based, have no philosophical backbone, and lack a leading revolutionary party to drive the movement towards defined socio-economic and political change, the ground was set for the rise of institutionalized currents that already had a substantial presence, chiefly the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist factions.

Historically, political Islam served as a close ally to Arab despotic regimes, especially in the 1950s and 1960s when it was used as a tool to confront the expansion of nationalist and leftist currents. In Jordan, for example, the Islamists were allowed to stay legally active during the period of martial law (1957-1989) while all other parties were banned. They were permitted to establish institutions, associations, banks, hospitals, schools, universities, and a huge network of social support organizations, in addition to their leading of Friday prayers and their activities in key government institutions like the Ministry of Education. The Salafi movement was completely nurtured and backed by the US and its subservient ally Saudi Arabia during the Cold War. It was used primarily in Afghanistan against the Soviets and later spread throughout the world.

It was only when Islamist groups grew too strong for government manipulation and became a possible threat that the regimes unsuccessfully tried to move against them. It was too late. The Islamists had already opened channels with the US administration, and began to present themselves as a possible, more efficient and more popular replacement for the Arab regimes.

Palestinian inmates agree to end hunger strike

[Update:  Further news  from the Financial Times, citing Addameer (the prisoners rights group), reported on the Egypt-brokered deal and its effect on the longer hunger strike among Palestinian prisoners:
":Sahar Francis, director of Addameer, said the agreement appeared to be favourable for Palestinian inmates. “It’s good – as far as the prisoners’ main demands, this appears to be enough,” she said.

It was not clear what impact the accord would have on a separate hunger strike by several prisoners against Israel’s policy of detaining Palestinians without charge for months or even years.

The Israeli activist organisation Physicians for Human Rights-Israel said on Monday that at least seven administrative detainees were on weeks-long hunger strikes. Most have been refusing food for at least 40 days. The group also said two had been refusing food for more than 70 days and were “in imminent risk of death”.

According to Israeli human rights activists, international law says countries should use administrative detentions only in exceptional cases but Israel implements it as a “blanket measure” against Palestinians....

The agreement did not make any mention of administrative detentions." (See the Financial Times and Addameer for more information. --Frontlines ed.]

by Nidal al-Mughrabi | Reuters | May 14, 2012

A Palestinian artist paints a mural in Gaza City in support of Palestinian prisoners on a hunger strike in Israeli jails May 14, 2012. REUTERS/Suhaib Salem

A Palestinian artist paints a mural in Gaza City in support of Palestinian prisoners on a hunger strike in Israeli jails May 14, 2012. REUTERS/Suhaib Salem

Palestinian women look at a man standing inside a mock prison cell during a rally in the West Bank city of Ramallah, May 14, 2012, in support of Palestinian prisoners on a hunger strike in Israeli jails. REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman

Palestinian women look at a man standing inside a mock prison cell during a rally in the West Bank city of Ramallah, May 14, 2012, in support of Palestinian prisoners on a hunger strike in Israeli jails. REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman

GAZA (Reuters) – Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails agreed on Monday to an Egyptian-brokered deal aimed at ending a mass hunger strike that challenged Israel’s policy of detention without trial and raised fears of a bloody Palestinian backlash if any protesters died.

Most of some 1,600 prisoners, a third of the 4,800 Palestinians in Israeli jails, began refusing food on April 17 although a few had been fasting much longer – up to 77 days.

Their protest centered on demands for more family visits, an end to solitary confinement and an easing of so-called “administrative detention”, a practice that has drawn international criticism on human rights grounds.

An Egyptian official involved in the talks said that under Monday’s deal to end the strike, Israel had agreed to end solitary confinement for 19 prisoners and lifted a ban on visits to prisoners by relatives living in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.

Israel also agreed to improve other conditions of detention, and to free so-called administrative detainees once they complete their terms unless they are brought to court, according to the official.

Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri confirmed the deal, telling Reuters that “the prisoners signed the deal after their demands were met. The deal was brokered by Egypt.”

Israel also confirmed an accord had been struck. “An agreement has been signed to bring about the end of a 28-day hunger strike by Palestinian security prisoners,” the Israel Prisons Authority said in a written statement. Continue reading

Clashes erupt at mass rally in Cairo

Thousands protest against recent killing of demonstrators and demand that Egypt’s military leaders step down.
 Al Jazeera’s Rawya Rageh reports on the latest clashes outside the Egyptian defense Ministry–May 4, 2012
 

Egyptian armed forces and protesters have clashed in Cairo, with troops using water cannon and rocks to disperse demonstrators trying to reach the defence ministry.

Hundreds of troops guarding the ministry surged forward on Friday when protesters began cutting through barbed wire used to seal off the ministry building in the capital’s central Abbasiya neighbourhood.”We understand that just a few minutes ago, the protesters tried to remove the barrier with barbed wire between themselves and the defence ministry,” Al Jazeera’s Steve Chao reported from Cairo.

“Security forces responded with water canons. Protesters responded with rocks.”

He said the military forces were describing their actions as “self-defence”.

The protests come amid heightened tension after 11 people were killed in clashes that broke out on Wednesday when unidentified assailants fired at protesters staging a sit-in outside the ministry of defence in Cairo.

Protesters have plastered Cairo’s Tahrir Square with banners reading, “Down with military rule”. Continue reading

The Arab Awakening – Tweets from Tahrir

[New mobile communication technologies such as twitter have been extremely useful for youth, students, and many petty-bourgeois activists in the "Arab Spring" and its many spin-offs in North Africa and in the MiddleEast.  These communication tools have also been recounted as essential instruments, as if there would be no rebellion without tweets, and that is a ridiculous claim.  Additionally, at certain key junctures, the repressive state apparatus has been able to use these new technologies for enhanced surveillance, and at times, when popular over-reliance on twitter was detected by the police, they could systematically shut it off and prevent communications among rebel groups.  Nevertheless, this AlJazeera account of the role of Twitter and Tweets in Tahrir has fascinating insights to one part of the ongoing story of a revolution that has only taken its first step. -- Frontlines ed.]

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AlJazeeraEnglish on Feb 19, 2012

Cairo’s ‘Twitterati’ tweeted their revolution for 18 days from in and around Tahrir Square.

Young, urbane and highly-motivated, their tweets revealed the truth of the scale of the uprising which Egypt’s state media sought to hide, and gave a street-level, minute-by-minute account of how the persistence and bravery of the Egyptian people brought down a dictator.

Note: The book ‘Tweets From Tahrir’ by OR Books was the inspiration for this film.