Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! 222 August/September 2011
Thousand of protestors have regrouped in Cairo’s Tahrir Square and on 15 July held a ‘Friday of final warning’ demonstration against the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF). The SCAF (senior generals) has run Egypt since President Mubarak’s overthrow on 11 February. Demonstrations were mounted in towns across Egypt. Among the protestors demands are an end to military trials of civilians, the immediate trial of Mubarak and other officials, including police officers accused of torturing and attacking demonstrators, and the resignation of the Prime Minister Essam Sharaf. Strikes are banned by the SCAF but have been held by workers in many industries: railways, automobiles, petroleum, airlines and health. Tenant farmers protested against state seizures of their land. Workers threatened to shut the Suez Canal. The SCAF responded by deploying the army.
The SCAF has been forced to make concessions. On 19 July it announced that registration for parliamentary elections will begin on 18 September, with elections six to eight weeks later. Fourteen new ministers were declared, but denounced by demonstrators as a continuation of the old regime. The SCAF said that 700 senior police officers accused of attacking demonstrators would be removed. However, presidential elections have been delayed until next year, leaving the SCAF in charge, and a proportion of parliamentary seats are being allocated, in the fashion of the British House of Lords, to preserve the influence of the wealthy.
The Egyptian and US military commands are in daily contact. Corporate executives and western politicians often visit Cairo. The International Monetary Fund, World Bank and others have pledged loans to the Egyptian state and in exchange the state has announced spending cuts in education, health and housing. The SCAF continues Mubarak’s neo-liberal policies. Inflation is running at 12%. 44% of Egyptians live below the poverty line of $2 a day. A confrontation between the state forces and the mass of Egyptian people seems inevitable.
On 30 June US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced that the US was establishing contacts with the previously outlawed Muslim Brotherhood. The Muslim Brotherhood has distanced itself from the renewed protests. The US will assess it as a potential electoral asset. Since Mubarak’s removal at least 10,000 civilians, including protestors and strikers, have been tried by military tribunals, several thousand are imprisoned. The US and SCAF will try to use the elections to diffuse the revolution’s momentum, and if this fails, calculate if and when they can unleash violent repression to maintain imperialist rule over Egypt.