Notes on the role of US imperialism in the military’s coup d’état and the failure of the Egypt left
By Yossi Schwartz
Revolutionary Communist International Tendency
As revolutionary Marxists we do not have any false tears for the former Egypt president Mursi and we do not support the call to reinstall him in power. But at the same time we oppose not only the military coup that removed the democratically elected government of Mursi but also the paid agents in the service of the imperialists that were involved in planning the coup.
The Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (RCIT) explained in two statements in the last days that we support the revolutionary overthrow of the Mursi government by the uprising of the masses. At the same time we totally oppose the overthrow of the Mursi government by the reactionary military in alliance with US imperialism. The military coup d’état was a reactionary maneuver of the ruling class to avoid a revolutionary overthrow of Mursi by the masses and to prepare the future suppression of the workers, peasants and urban poor. Only an independent organization of the working class can ensure that it leads the Egyptian Revolution forward instead of subordinating it to either the bourgeois-Islamist Muslim Brotherhood of Mursi or the reactionary army and the bourgeois-liberal forces. This has not happened until now because the working class in Egypt lacks an authentic workers party based on a revolutionary program. (1)
US imperialism behind the military coup d’état
Mursi was removed from power not because of his association with the reactionary Muslim Brotherhood or because he did not want to be a regional lackey of US imperialism. No, the real reason was that he was unable to control the masses. Once the 17 millions Egyptian workers and lower middle class – many of them religious who only a year ago supported Mursi – took to the streets, Mursi lost his credits with the real masters of Egypt: the US-American imperialists.
According to Al Jazeera of 10 Jul 2013, documents obtained by the Investigative Reporting Program at UC Berkeley show the US channeled funding through a State Department programme to pro imperialists politicians.
“Documents obtained by the Investigative Reporting Program at UC Berkeley show the US channeled funding through a State Department programme to promote democracy in the Middle East region. This programme vigorously supported activists and politicians who have fomented unrest in Egypt, after autocratic president Hosni Mubarak was ousted in a popular uprising in February 2011. The State Department’s programme, dubbed by US officials as a “democracy assistance” initiative, is part of a wider Obama administration effort to try to stop the retreat of pro-Washington secularists, and to win back influence in Arab Spring countries that saw the rise of Islamists, who largely oppose US interests in the Middle East.” (2)
The new government in Egypt led byHazem el-Beblawia former finance minister and Mohamed ElBaradei, the vice president, are exactly the kind of the pro-imperialist politicians Washington “democracy assistance” has been aimed at. They are what the Egyptians call the feloul (“remnants”) of the Mubarak’s regime.
In simple words the coup was planned not only against Mursi but against the revolutionary masses – many of them workers and poor who came out on June 30 to bring down Mursi government.
The US paid army – let us recall that Egypt is world-wide the second-biggest recipient of US military aid only behind Israel – claims that the army only wants a new democratic elections within six months. But the roundups of Muslim Brotherhood members, closure of pro-Morsi media outlets and shooting of unarmed demonstrators suggest it has other intentions.
It is a shame that the middle class activists, who have led the movement so far, have cheered the military coup. This just shows the need for a working class revolutionary leadership because those who cheered the coup have proven that they are at best blind to the real forces that act in Egypt. We in the RCIT are convinced that such ignorance is a terrible danger for the Egyptian Revolution.
It is in the interest of the working class in Egypt that its vanguard rallies the workers as well as the lower middle class and poor to oppose the military coup. This necessitates calling for a united front – this means practical agreements for joint actions without any political support for non-revolutionary forces involved in such a bloc. Under the present circumstances such a united front call must also be directed to forces of the Muslim Brotherhood who are on the streets in massive numbers protesting against the military coup.
The RCIT says that such an application of the united front tactic in order to defend the revolution against its currently most immediate danger – the military coup d’état – must be combined with total opposition against either another Muslim Brotherhood government nor a secular pro-imperialist one. The only perspective the vanguard forces of the Egyptian revolution should fight for is a workers government allied with the poor peasants and the urban poor. Such a revolutionary government should carry out the complete break with imperialism and Zionism, expropriation of the foreign and domestic bourgeoisie, the smashing of the Egyptian state apparatus and the building of a socialist society.
Failure of the reformist and centrist left in Egypt
If Mursi exposed his reactionary role within one year, this new government will expose itself in much shorter time. Those left groups like the Revolutionary Socialists that in their July 6th statement did not oppose the coup but claim that the army was forced to act in defense of the revolution and parties like the Communists Party that supported the coup have proven once again on which side they stand. They are obstacle for the advance of the Egyptian Revolution.
The following is the position of the Revolutionary Socialists in Egypt (sister organization of the British SWP) which we reprint in full. (3) It shows that this centrist organization simply ignored the coup.
[Victory to the 30 June revolution: Statement of the Revolutionary Socialists in Egypt; Statement from the Revolutionary Socialists in Egypt, 6 July 2013]
During days that rocked the world, millions of Egyptians poured into the streets and forced their institutions to remove the failed president. Mohamed Mursi and the Muslim Brotherhood had betrayed the principles of the 25 January 2011 revolution and overthrown its goals.
But the stubbornness, stupidity and criminality of the US-backed Muslim Brotherhood and Mohamed Badie, its General Guide, open the terrifying horizons of civil war. This can only be stopped by millions coming into the squares and streets to protect their revolution. They must abort the US-Brotherhood plan to portray the Egyptian Revolution as a military coup.
The popular uprising of 30 June threw the Muslim Brotherhood out of power, and its plan is now clear. The Brotherhood is seeking to take over the squares in order to project an image of false popularity for the president who was removed by the uprising. It may even be aiming to negotiate his return to power with the support of the US and other imperialist powers in order to accomplish what Mursi promised to do for them in Syria and the region.
Leaving the squares to Mursi and his supporters today is the biggest danger that faces the revolution. The return of the Brotherhood to power will mean the defeat of the greatest uprising of the masses, setting the revolution back and destroying the hopes that launched it.
The masses who made the revolution in January 2011, and sought to complete it in June 2013, are the only ones who can save it from danger.
The people who called on the military to protect them on 30 June and subsequently, can defend themselves, without waiting for a hesitating army or police. The valour of the people of Boulaq Abu Al-Ala and Maniyal and Sayyida Zeinab and Sidi Gaber and elsewhere last night in the face of the attacks of the Brotherhood, is our best example.
The revolution is continuing, but it still needs time and to organise itself. This requires the reformation of popular committees to defend our revolution in every street, neighbourhood and factory. We are multitudes, but we lack organisation in our ranks.
Whoever is the next prime minister must be from among the ranks of the January Revolution.
We demand that the priorities of the coming government must be:
Immediate steps to achieve social justice for the benefit of millions of poor and low-income. These are the people who paid the greatest share of the price for Mursi’s failure to implement the goals of the revolution—and that of the Military Council before him.
Election of a Constituent Assembly, representing all sections of the people—workers, peasants and the poor, Coptic Christians and women—to write a civil, democratic constitution which entrenches the values of freedom and social justice.
The drafting of a law of transitional justice which holds to account the Brotherhood for the blood it has spilled, as well as the Military Council and the symbols of the Mubarak regime, and achieves retribution for the martyrs and injured of the revolution.
We will not leave the streets and squares to the merchants of religion, the friends of the US. We will not wait for the army to protect us; we will defend our revolution with our own hands.
Glory to the martyrs! Victory to the Revolution! Shame on the murderers!
All power and wealth to the people.
The Egyptian Communist Party is even worse. They openly support the military coup d’état. The following is part of an interview with Salah Adli, who is the General Secretary of the Communist Party in Egypt which appeared under the peculiar title “Egyptian Communist Party: What happened in Egypt was not a military coup”. (4) His comments should be compared with the latest information of the US real activity in Egypt.
“What has happened is not a military coup in any way, but a revolutionary coup by the Egyptian people to get rid of this fascist rule. What the army did is carrying out the will of the people and protecting them from the plots of the Muslim Brotherhood and their armed terrorist allies who want to ignite sectarian strife and civil wars, divide the Egyptian army and destroy the institutions of the Egyptian state to serve the interests of imperialism and Zionism in the region.”
The next step in the revolutionary development will most likely be the polarization of the cross-class movement between the working class and the other oppressed classes like the peasantry and the urban poor that have genuine revolutionary interests on one hand and the middle class that support the new reactionary government on the other. Socialists and the workers vanguard in Egypt should intervene in the movement with a clear set slogans and a program for revolutionary working class power. The goal must be to break the workers, youth and poor away from the petty-bourgeois and bourgeois leaders – be it secularists or Islamists.
Most importantly, activists should unite in an authentic revolutionary organization in order to advance the struggle. The RCIT is willing to support all steps which advance the struggle in such a direction.
In the present situation the RCIT raises the following slogans:
* Down with the military coup d’état! No support with the SACF’s puppet regime! No to the repression of Muslim Brotherhood supporters! But also no to a return of Mursi to power!
* Prepare for mass mobilizations and a general strike against the SACF and its puppet regime!
* For Action Committees in each factory, workers neighborhood and village to be organized on district and national level to coordinate the protest activities!
* For self defense committees! Split the army to win the soldiers for revolution!
* For a revolutionary Constitutional Assembly!
* Working class and socialist organizations: Break with the National Salvation Front!
* Cancel the debts!
* For a workers government, based on the poor peasantry and the urban poor committed to the expropriation of the multinationals, big capital and banks under workers control as well as the replacement of the bourgeois state apparatus by workers and peasant organs!
* Build a revolutionary organization! All Workers Organizations should break with the bourgeois opposition forces and form an independent Mass Workers Party based on a revolutionary program!
(1) See the two RCIT Statements: Tasks of the Revolution in Egypt, 2.7.2013; Egypt: Down with the Military Coup d’État! Prepare Mass Resistance!, 8.7.2013
(4) Egyptian Communist Party: What happened in Egypt was not a military coup. Interview with Salah Adli, general secretary of the Egyptian Communist Party by “Nameh Mardom”, the Central Organ of the Central Committee of the Tudeh (Communist) Party of Iran, 6 July 2013.