Egypt - Mubarak may fall, but the banner of the exploited has still to be raised

7 February 2011

After the sudden downfall of the Tunisian dictator Ben Ali, now the fate of Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak seems also to be sealed.

For 2 weeks, protesters have held their ground, 24 hours a day, first against the police and then against the regime's hired thugs, leaving over 300 dead and hundreds more injured. And they are still there, demanding the end of the dictatorship.

Seeing this, the leaders of the rich countries have finally resigned themselves to having to let down their old friend, Mubarak. Following Obama's lead, they are all now demanding the departure of the dictator and the introduction of "democratic" reforms.

A warning for the Egyptian people!

But the spectacle of these Western leaders who, from Obama to Cameron and Berlusconi, are falling over themselves to proclaim their "solidarity" with the demands of the Egyptian protesters, should come as a stark warning.

For 3 decades, these political leaders, or their predecessors, gave their political and military support to Mubarak, without the slightest concern for the systematic imprisonment of political opponents by the regime nor the torture that was going on in its prisons and labour camps. No surprise. The capitalist classes of the rich countries are all in favour of dictators - but they don't want to support a dictator who proves incapable of playing his role as warden of his own population! When this happens they want to see "regime change", and fast, but in order to keep the population in its jail, not to open the prison gates.

In this respect, Obama and Cameron's calls for "democratic" reforms in Egypt, are as hypocritical as they are ominous. Haven't the US and British armies occupied Iraq for 7 years and Afghanistan for a decade, in order to protect "democratic" regimes which are really only there to protect the interests of western companies and which are despised by the populations?

What other kind of "democracy" would they have in mind for Egypt? Except one which guarantees the profits of the multinationals operating there - including British giants like BG group and Vodafone. Yes, a "democracy" that would maintain the imperialist order in the Middle-East, prevent the Palestinians from reclaiming their land against the state of Israel and protect the interests of western oil majors.

In short, the only "democracy" which would be acceptable in Egypt for the Obamas and the Camerons of this world, would be a regime in which the majority of the population, the exploited classes, would be prisoners in their own land!

The remaining 90% of the road

Seen in this light, the so-called "talks" between Mubarak's vice-president (a former head of the political police!) and "opposition parties" are just horse-trading, designed to cobble together some sort of political transition which would preserve the interests of the rich countries and the Egyptian wealthy class against the aspirations of the country's poor.

The Muslim Brotherhood, which is involved in these talks, strives to make itself respectable and win the recognition of Washington, in the hope of being allowed to play a similar role to that of the religious ruling party of Turkey, the AKP. But, like the AKP, it represents the interests of the wealthy, with a long record as a sworn enemy of the exploited, going back to the days when it helped the British colonisers in their attempt to crush the fledgling Egyptian working class movement.

For the poor and working masses of Egypt, the departure of Mubarak will be a success, but not a victory. When it happens, they will have travelled only 10% of the road. They will still have to deal with the greed of the local propertied classes and the diktats of the imperialist powers, which are all dependent on a powerful army, whose hierarchy is tightly controlled by the US military.

The protesters of Tahrir Square in Cairo may be right to consider soldiers as their brothers in struggle. But as long as these soldiers still obey the orders of their senior officers and generals, they remain a weapon in the hands of the enemy.

What would really make a difference would be the emergence of a movement of the exploited, under its own banner, with its own social demands against all exploiters. Such a movement would be able to address itself to the majority of soldiers coming from working class or rural stock, and to win them over to its side. The Egyptian working class, which, many times already, has shown its resilience and capacity to organise under the worst circumstances, has the resources to produce such a movement. We can only hope that it will!