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"Popular" Coup d’Etat in Egypt - A first Statement by a group of the Communist Left

Following the events that have led to the strengthening of the military control over state power in Egypt on July 3rd., the International Communist Tendency published its declaration on this situation on the English language pages of its web portal a day later. It was thereby the first traditional group of the internationalist communist left that took a clear position on this “popular” putsch. We recommend it to our readers.

Egypt’s Crisis Goes On: Power Struggles at the Top Whilst Those at the Bottom Die of Hunger and Poverty

Tahrir Square has exploded once again. Millions of protesters took to the streets of the main cities of Egypt. President Morsi has been deposed, arrested and is under surveillance in the "office" of the Republican Guard. An interim president Mansoor Adli, former President of the Constitutional Court, has taken his place, and the Constitution has been suspended. A caretaker government is supposed to come into existence to revise the constitution and prepare the ground for the next election to be held within a year, while the Army continues to be the pivot of Egyptian public life. Just as It was in Mubarak’s time, as it has been under the management of the brief Morsi government, as it still is for domestic and international stability in this delicate phase of the crisis. It’s no coincidence that the new strong man is the Minister of Defence, General Al Zizi who dominates the post-Morsi political stage.

Why all this? Why is Egypt still hanging on the tail of the so-called Arab Spring? First of all it must be said that the severe economic crisis, which was the basis of the original demonstrations against Mubarak, not only has not been resolved, but has got dramatically worse, affecting almost all social strata. In two years, Egypt, from an economic point of view, has taken ten steps backwards. In a country where the majority of the population lives in conditions of semi-poverty, official unemployment has reached 40% and pauperisation seems to be an unstoppable process, it is completely understandable why social unrest simmers under the ashes, ready to take to the streets at the first opportunity.

The opportunity was provided by the disappointment with the Morsi Government, of his party in power and, more generally, of the Muslim Brotherhood which had preached so much about democracy and equality that he was swept to power in the elections a year ago. Morsi has not only ignored those expectations, but, with his fundamentalist clique, continued the old tradition of dictatorial power based on force, coercion and corruption. Nothing had changed from the old and much-maligned regime, except for the worsening of the economic crisis and the religious repackaging of power as usual.

The combination of these two factors was the basis of the new demonstrations against the Morsi government and also by those who, with no lesser political intensity, support him although it has to be said in much smaller in numbers. This has given the impression to both domestic and international political observers that if some "demiurge" had not intervened in time, civil war would have violently erupted, Egypt would have entered into a serious political crisis, and with it the entire region, questioning the already difficult balance between the Arab world and Israel, between the European Union and the United States, not to mention the price of oil and the shifting international speculation over oil revenues.

The "demiurge" has had to come into action to forestall the crisis, safeguard the economic interests of big business and take control of the political situation before the anger on the streets goes too far. The army demiurge has completed its task. It has made the Government fall, arrested Morsi, promised new elections within a year and in the meantime has assumed, in the shape of General Al Zizi, true command of operations. All in accordance with the programme of preserving the system and selling it to the masses. However, in this respect there are a few observations to make. The first is that the army was careful not to intervene in the streets with force. It has used the carrot while the stick has been brought out only to smack Morsi, a smack that was enough to get rid of the old government without the public at home or abroad crying "coup", even if that is what it is. The second is that the use of the velvet glove on the streets and preparation for a very soft coup, were "advised" by the Obama administration, which pretty much directed operations via telephone even as it recommended the maximum prudence.

The American interest has a threefold purpose. Prevent a new crisis from detaching Egypt from American plans for the Middle East, or rather to ensure that the relationship with Israel is unaffected by leaving things as they are. Reconnect the threads which have always linked American governments with the Egyptian army, the only strong structure, in political and economic terms, which can be related to for finding of any kind of internal solution. Use the weapon of blackmail ($1.3bn arrive annually in the coffers of the army that was Mubarak’s, Tantawi’s and now Al Zizi’s) to influence policies and modus operandi. In terms of the latter point there is also Obama’s wish to propose Mohammed el Baradei, current head of the secular opposition, as a future candidate for the Egyptian presidency. Obama could not play that little game two years ago, when the situation in Tahrir square was politically out of hand and brought about the Islamist government and caused some concern in the White House, even though it claimed it would not tear up the agreements with Israel and would continue to be a staunch ally of the U.S.

In conclusion, for the moment, millions of desperate Egyptians who have taken to the streets have allowed a game to be played that is passing over their heads. On the one hand it has provided a pretext for the army to regain power. The removal of Morsi is a political sop to U.S. imperialism which allows it to regain its role, image and acceptance in an area where until recently it would have been rejected as a foreign body. What is even more disconcerting is that the announcement of Morsi’s overthrow and the army coup have been celebrated in the square as if they were a victory and not as yet another defeat. But as long as there is no revolutionary party in such situations, a party with a political programme that has a social and economic alternative to capitalism, as long as no-one tries to break the cords that bind the masses to the laws of capital and its political trappings, no matter if these are dressed in secular rather than religious robes, anything is possible, but always essentially within the same set-up. This is the risk, or rather it is a certainty. Down with Mubarak, up Tantawi. Down with Tantawi up Morsi. Up a secular government, then a religious one, then another secular one. Meanwhile, the crisis of capitalism remains; capitalism itself is not questioned. Egyptian workers are becoming more and more impoverished and unemployed yet the army remains in command of operations which, in this case, also follow a straight line which is always that of American imperialism.

Thursday, July 4, 2013