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Posts Tagged ‘Morsi

Egypt, Observations from the Left.

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Women March with Men Against Morsi.

Demonstrations continue against President Morsi’s  power-grab and constitutional plebiscite. Egypt’s political  conditions change daily.

The President’s Moslem Brotherhood (MB) has increasingly resorted to open violence against the opposition.

We can only wish the protesters success.

But what is the reaction of the left groups in the UK?

What do they think of the opposition to Morsi, in the streets and in political bodies?

Sameh from Egypt’s Revolutionary Socialists comments (Socialist Worker)

also it is obvious that there are elements of the old regime—the “feloul”, or “remnants”—who are trying to use this mass movement. Some liberal leaders have unwisely made alliances with former Mubarak people—and this is used by the Muslim Brotherhood in their propaganda. The Brotherhood says, “Look—these people want the old regime back,” which isn’t true of course.

The latest protests are being portrayed as being controlled by the “non Islamist” parties. But this movement is out of their control. They didn’t want there to be a march on the presidential palace—but they couldn’t stop it.

“We say the constitution is pro-business and pro-army. People feel this is not what the revolution is all about. That’s why people are on the streets. The revolution is still on.”

Counterfire publishes a piece by Mohamed Atef, who appears to be of the Socialist Popular Alliance Party (SPAP), *arguing against a full  alliance with the democrats.

…there is a political problem with the forces that are now arrayed against Mubarak. They are not just the revolutionary forces of 25th January. They now include all who are disappointed by the Muslim Brotherhood, including the remnants of Mubarak regime! Amr Mussa, former-Mubarak Minster of Foreign Affairs, has joined Hamdeen Sabahy, the Nasserist ex-presidency candidate, and liberal Mohamed El Baradie along with heads of the liberal and socialist parties. This opportunist alliance has called for civil disobedience and mass marches to Tahrir square and the Presidential Palace.

The revolutionaries need to quickly accumulate forces if they are not to be drawn into a confrontation with the Muslim Brotherhood before they are able to ensure a reasonable chance of success. If thye are not able to do this the conflict may end with the military leadership SCAF imposing a counter-revolutionary solution. Amr Mussa would be happy with this…which is why it is so dangerous to include him in any opposition front. Moreover, since there are popular forces in support of Morsi it can appear that January 25th would be knocked down by a military coup ‘supported by the masses’.

To avoid this scenario the Revolutionary Left in Egypt must build roots among the masses in a way that it has not done so far, despite having opportunities to do so. Yes, confrontation was unavoidable as it has been many times in the past. But the Left must build again among the working class (which was harassed by many laws were adopted during the past few days) and not blindly ally with its class enemies.

* I am open to correction on Atef’s allegiance.

In the past those form the International Socialists’ tradition stood for alliances with the Islamists ‘against the state’. The SWP published articles advocating voting for Morsi with a ‘heavy heart’. Counterfire  has even closer relations with the Muslim Brotherhood (MB)in the UK, through the Stop the War Coalition, and internationally through its campaign against ‘Zionism’.

To add to this confused position the Revolutionary Socialists in Egypt have wavered, from working with the Islamists on  pro-intifada and anti-war movements, to a section of them backing Morsi as a lesser evil, to their present opposition. Where the SPAP stands at present is, in the face of having to chose sides, is also unclear.

Now feel that the time has come again to raise the issue of class – not apparently worth mentioning in the past., Or rather, it was then asserted that in some vague way that the MB represented  the ‘oppressed’ and the ‘masses’.

Apparently this mess will all be resovlved in the ‘struggle’.

The pious bourgeoisie of the Moslem Brotherhood must be shaken at the SWP and Counterfire’s  less enthusiastic stand today.

By contrast  Alain Gresh  on le Monde Diplomatique’s site, offers an important analysis which illustrates what it at stake (December the 6th).

He argues that Morsi has increasingly relied on direct commands from his party, the Moslem Brotherhood. He takes advice, orders even, from the majlis el-irachad, the ‘political bureau’ of the organisation controlled by businessman Khayrat Al-Chater

“Ayant vécu l’essentiel de leur existence depuis les années 1950 dans la clandestinité ou dans une semi-légalité, ils ont développé une vision paranoïaque du monde politique et de leurs ennemis.”

Having lived for most of their political existence, since the 1950s, in semi-illegality or illegality, they have developed a paranoiac   vision of the political world and their enemies.”

Gresh states that they have great difficulty adapting to democratic political debate.

They see in “toute critique, dans toute contestation, un vaste complot pour les éliminer” – in every criticism, all opposition, a vast conspiracy to destroy them.

However Morsi is in far being an all-powerful Pharaoh.

Not only are the MB a minority in the government, but they do not ave full control over the police, the security services, and the army. In this Morsi is not in a position analogous to Mubarak. He cannot  use them to crush the opposition.At the same time the highest Moselle and Christian religious authorities, who backed Mubarak, are now independent.

Gresh warns however, of element son each side which could push the country to civil war

In the meantime who do we back?

Democratic  demands are not secondary.

They come first, bound up with workers’ rights under attack by the pro-Bosses Moslem Brothers.

Back the anti-Morsi fight without reservations!

Here are some compelling reasons:

On the Morsi Constitution, Human Rights Watch

Protection of Rights
Article 81 states that no law may limit the essence of the rights and freedoms set out in the constitution, but goes on to say that, “These rights and freedoms shall be exercised insofar as they do not contradict the principles set out in the Chapter on State and Society in this constitution.” The provisions in that chapter include article 10, which states that, “The state and society shall commit to preserving the true nature of the Egyptian family,” and article 11, which states that, “The state shall protect ethics and morals and public order.” The language in both these provisions is overly broad, open to interpretation, and available to justify wide-ranging limitations on key rights, Human Rights Watch said. It appears to place the “true nature of the family” and morals and public orders above fundamental rights. Read the rest of this entry »

Egypt: Pharaoh’s Plebiscite and the Left.

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Egypt is, as they say, in turmoil.

The BBC’s latest report,

Protests by the president’s supporters have prevented Egypt’s Supreme Constitutional Court from meeting in Cairo for a key ruling on a draft constitution, state media say.

Hundreds of protesters are trying to block any attempt to dissolve the panel that passed the draft.

President Mohammed Morsi has tried to bypass the court by assuming new powers and speeding through the draft.

His opponents say the document undermines basic freedoms.

On Saturday, Mr Morsi called a referendum on the draft constitution for 15 December.

Why exactly do they say this?

To begin with organising a referendum in two weeks time means that it will be a classic plebiscite. People will be asked for their loyalty, not for any reasoned position on the constitution.

Next, the constitution has strongly anti-democratic elements.

It is worth citing this in detail (from Al-Jazeera 

“The draft constitution no longer includes article 68, which ensured equality of the sexes provided “this does not conflict with the rulings of sharia.”

 That provision was fiercly opposed by women’s rights groups, which argued it would give men unequal advantages on personal status issues.

But the draft also includes article 219, which declares the principles of sharia to be the “fundamental rules of jurisprudence”.

It also removed language prohibiting discrimination on the basis of gender, and it includes article 10, which stipulates that the state “shall provide free maternal and child care services, and maintain a balance between a woman’s obligations toward the family and public work”.

“The state’s role should be confined to ensuring equality and non-discrimination, without interfering with a woman’s choices about her life, family and profession,” Human Rights Watch said in a statement.

Freedom of religion and speech

The draft, as expected, maintains article 2 from the 1971 constitution, which declares Islam the state religion and “the principles of Islamic sharia” to be the “principal source of legislation”. (Note by TC:reference to the Sharia exists in the present constiution).

Liberals are willing to accept this formulation, because there are no fixed “principles” of Islamic law. Some Islamists, particularly members of salafi parties, had pushed for a stricter application of Islamic law.

Article 11 provides that the state “shall protect ethics and morality and public order,” broad language which rights groups say could allow the government to impose a religiously-inspired version of “morality”.

Article 43 provides for freedom of religion, but only for the “heavenly religions”: Islam, Christianity, and Judaism. This limitation could preserve discrimination against minority groups, like the Baha’i, who have long been treated as second-class citizens in Egypt. (They were unable even to obtain identity cards until 2009).

The constitution provides for the freedom of expression, but it also includes article 31, which bars “personal insults”; it is unclear how the two articles will be reconciled. Article 44 prohibits insulting prophets – blasphemy, in other words.”

The Revolutionary Socialists, a small group with close links with the British SWP, issued this statement (extracts) on November the 22nd on Moris’s coup.

TODAY, ALL the masks fell from Mohamed Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood organization, who trade in revolution, and for whom the revolution is nothing but a means to reach the seat of power. They and the remnants of the old regime are two sides of the same coin, which represents tyranny and enmity toward the people.

WE SAY to Morsi: you and your organization are the real threat to the revolution, as you embrace Mubarak’s businessmen, run panting after loans from the IMF, trade in religion, threaten national unity and sell out the revolution.

But what was the position of their co-thinkers, the SWP, on Morsi’s election?

“A vote for Mursi is a vote against the legacy of Mubarak and for continuing change.

Revolutionary activists will not enjoy voting for Mursi.

If they do not do so, however, they are likely to experience the real nightmare scenario—a president cloned from the dictator they overthrew last year

“Egyptians will be better off with Mursi as president and an unstable Brotherhood in

parliament than with Shafiq in office. Shafiq is backed by generals who wish to bring the revolution to an abrupt end.

Now it is time to put Mursi to the test—and to continue struggles over jobs, wages, union rights and for radical political change.” Socialist Worker 2nd June.

Those from the same political tradition (though presently estranged) have concentrated on these ‘struggles’ – largely to the exclusion of those for democratic rights

As the Arab Revolution has evolved Counterfire leaders, John Rees and Joseph Daher, have confined themselves to windy generalisations,

The behaviour of the new ‘post-revolution’ authoritarian regimes in Tunisia and Egypt, assisted by Western imperialism, is reminiscent of the approach of Tancredi, nephew of the aristocratic Prince of Salina, in Giuseppe di Lampedusa’s novel ‘The Leopard’. When asked by the Prince why he is intending to fight with Garibaldi’s revolution against his own class, Trancredi answers ‘If we want everything to remain the same, everything must change’.

Western imperialism and the new regimes must give the illusion of change for things to remain the same. The movements in Egypt and elsewhere created a revolutionary process with the power to overthrow the system, not merely to gain reforms. They must struggle for a permanent revolution to achieve far-reaching social and economic change.

We have yet to hear from Counterfire on the latest developments.

But  SWP, like the wind, changed.

“the show of strength by the revolutionary movement in the streets suggests that the Muslim Brotherhood remains under immense pressure from below.

Unlike Ayatollah Khomeini, who came to the head of and then crushed the revolution in Iran, Mursi’s attempts to claim revolutionary legitimacy have so far backfired.

The Egyptian economy is in crisis. Mursi wants to attack peoples’ living standards, not raise them. The mass of ordinary Egyptians want the revolution to fulfil their aspirations for a better life.

Around 1,000 strikes greeted the Brotherhood’s government in its first two months in office—many organised by people who had supported Mursi.

This is the greatest source of tension between the Brotherhood and its mass base of poor and working class voters and supporters. Linking the fight for social justice with the struggle for democracy can guard against the return of the old regime.” Socialist Worker. 1st December

We offered an extended critique of the SWP and Counterfire  position in Arab Spring, Islamist Winter (December 2011).  The argument for work with a modernising democratic left, and independent trade unionists, including constitutional liberals, is one accepted by many on the European left. We do not consider issues like women’s rights, freedom from religious rule, and other social liberties to be ‘secondary’. They involve key rights which the Islamists’ aim of creating the ‘rule of god’ threaten.

There is little doubt that a long period of collaboration with the Muslim Brotherhood’s British antennae, notably what was known as the Muslim Association of Britain (MAB)_, has inclined them to a certain degree of sympathy for  the Islamist reactionaries. Such rights became less and less important for the SWP, the StWC and Counterfire as they imagined they had become players through their alliance with the Islamists.

Leaving aside the contemptible Respect ‘coalition’ some of these positions remain.

Some of the British left continue to indulge fantasies about the ‘progressive’ of ‘anti-imperialist’ Islamism. They are after all (hardly a surprise for a body with deep hatred for ‘Jews’) against Israel.

We have expressed a very different  judgement of the Moslem Brotherhood that, “The modernised, Constitutional Islamism they represent is not fundamentally democratic, it is bounded by the limits of the Divine Message. (Here).

In an excellent article Peter Mason in the latest Weekly Worker notes,

According to Jane Kinnimont of Chatham House, a “world-leading source” for “independent thinking on foreign affairs”, western governments have been “pleasantly surprised” by the Muslim Brotherhood: “… the first impressions of many westerners is that the articulate, suited and often US-educated businessmen they meet are easier to talk to than many expected. This honeymoon has been largely sweetened by the discovery that the leaders of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood seem largely centre-right on the economy” (The Daily Telegraph November 23).

On last week’s presidential decree, Kinnimont says: “The timing will convince his critics that he has had a US green light to take on more power in return for brokering the ceasefire.” For its part, the International Monetary Fund has implied that Mursi’s “constitutional coup” will “have no bearing” on the approval of a pending $4.8 billion IMF loan to Egypt.

He concludes,

the Weekly Worker had from the start upheld the independent interests of Egyptian workers. We declared our opposition to “any form of political rule that denies us the light and air we need to turn the situation to our advantage. The … second-round Hobson’s choice … lines up two prospective presidents who can both be expected to impose draconian rule, if allowed to get their way. Heads I win, tails you lose” (Weekly Worker June 7).”

Absolutely.

Written by Andrew Coates

December 2, 2012 at 12:04 pm

Egypt: Morsi Seizes Powers to “Please God and Nation”.

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Reuters reports,

President Morsi says Egypt is moving forward, takes decisions to please God and nation.

This wasn’t supposed to happen.

 According to some Western ‘anti-imperialists’ the Arab masses were united in protesting (rightly)  against Israel ‘s action in Gaza.

But what’s taking place in Egypt  is of enormous importance.

The Huffington Post says,

CAIRO, Nov 23 (Reuters) – Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi’s decree that put his decisions above legal challenge until a new parliament was elected caused fury amongst his opponents on Friday who accused him of being the new Hosni Mubarak and hijacking the revolution.

Police fired tear gas in a street leading to Cairo’s Tahrir Square, heart of the 2011 anti-Mubarak uprising, where thousands demanded Morsi quit and accused him of launching a “coup”. There were violent protests in Alexandria, Port Said and Suez.

“The people want to bring down the regime,” shouted protesters in Tahrir… More Here.

Al Jazeera gives more information,

Supporters and opponents of Egypt’s president have clashed in several cities after he assumed sweeping new powers, a clear show of the deepening polarisation plaguing the country.

In the largest rally on Friday, thousands of chanting protesters packed Cairo’s Tahrir Square, the heart of the 2011 revolution, demanding Mohamed Morsi quit and accusing him of launching a “coup”.

Buoyed by accolades from around the world for mediating a truce between Hamas and Israel, Morsi on Thursday issued a declaration giving himself powers that go beyond those held by toppled president Hosni Mubarak, putting himself above the judiciary.

He also ordered that an Islamist-dominated assembly writing the new constitution could not be dissolved by legal challenges.

Liberal and secular members earlier walked out of the body, charging it would impose strict Islamic practices