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Egyptian masses return to Tahrir Square

From the International Report delivered to the CPGB-ML’s central committee on 3 December

Tahrir Square is once more open for business – the business of overthrowing dictatorships, that is.

Throughout most of November, after the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) proposed to guarantee the military budget against any scrutiny, while also giving itself the power to veto the new constitution due to be finalised next year, hundreds of thousands of people returned to Tahrir Square, erected tents and vowed to stay there until power was definitively handed over to a civilian government, for, as David Blair so graphically expressed it, “the central paradox remains: everything has changed in Egypt, except the country’s rulers”. (‘Will Egypt’s generals listen to Cairo protesters now?’, Telegraph, 22 November 2011)

The response of the authorities to these protests has been brutal. At least 41 unarmed protesters have been murdered in cold blood, with over 2,000 injured (eg, losing their eyes to rubber bullets). In one case the police have been seen dragging the dead body of a protester to a rubbish heap.

Far from intimidating, such brutality has only served to fan the flames of revolutionary fervour. The protesters are more determined than ever to save their revolution, to safeguard the honour of the Egyptian masses and get rid of the present continuers of the Mubarak regime.

They have succeeded in securing the resignation of the entire civilian cabinet, including Prime Minister Essam Sharaf, only to see the military replace him with the 78-year-old former Mubarak lieutenant and tool of the military council Kamal el-Ganzouri.

In the meantime, Egypt has held its first post-Mubarak elections and it would appear that the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party has emerged as the largest party. Banned under Mubarak, they are not about to defer when in power to those who were only yesterday responsible for suppressing them.

However, the Muslim Brotherhood has indicated willingness to uphold the undertakings made by Anwar Sadat to US imperialism under the Camp David accords, which includes safeguards for Israel.

If that is indeed the case, then US imperialism is as happy for the Muslim Brotherhood to run Egypt on its behalf as it previously was for the generals to do so. The only difficulty is that popular public opinion in Egypt is thoroughly opposed to the Camp David accords, and if free and fair elections are going to predominate in Egypt, all political parties hoping to get themselves elected are sooner or later going to have to make concessions to that public opinion.

The US government’s current tactic, however, is to call on the Egyptian military to hand over at the earliest to a civil administration, in an apparent show of support for the protesters. Its motivation, however, is simply to retain control of the situation.

Helen Cooper of the New York Times has correctly noted: “The Obama administration appears now to be openly hedging its bets, trying to position the United States in such a way that regardless of who comes out on top — the army or the protesters — it will still maintain some credibility, and ability, to influence the government and ensure a level of stability in Egypt, and to continue to uphold the Egyptian-Israeli peace deal, which the United States views as central to stability in the region as a whole.” (‘For US, risks in pressing Egypt to speed civilian rule’, 26 November 2011)

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