Tendance Coatesy

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Posts Tagged ‘Moslem Brotherhood

“I Will Survive” Version Mocks Muslim Brotherhood.

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At the risk of a visit of the Suffolk Police anxious to protect the reputation of the Muslim Brotherhood…

 

Not an endorsement, but this cover by secular leftists of Gloria Gaynor’s 1978 “I will Survive,” with satirical Arabic lyrics (translated in subtitles) about the rule of the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafis in Egypt since the fall of dictator Hosni Mubarak gives a window into the grievances and disappointments of the youth who made the January 25, 2011 revolution.

Thousands of protesters gathered in Tahrir Square today, Friday, demanding that Muslim Brotherhood leader and Egyptian president Muhammad Morsi call early presidential elections. The ‘Rebel’ campaign is supported by a group of leftist and liberal parties.

From here.(17/5.13)

Written by Andrew Coates

May 19, 2013 at 10:32 am

Syrian Intervention: The British Left in Confusion as The Stop the War Coalition Blames Israel.

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Kriegsspiel: How British Left Sees Middle East.

The British left has had a hard time adjusting to the post-Soviet international scene.

Dropping Marxism, which is based on the working class and democratic movements, some have adopted  mixture of ‘anti-globalisation’ and an anti-imperialism.

Some have considered  just about any country that opposes US foreign policy, from Iran even to Russia,  to be progressive. Others have become obsessed with Israel, considered the epitome of evil. A few clung to the idea that Islamist movements, like the Moslem Brotherhood, were a repeat of the genuine struggles for liberation that marked 1960s anti-colonialism.

Their politics  resemble a Kriegsspiel played by the cast of the Big Bang Theory.

The position of these ‘anti-imperialists on Syria’s unfolding civil war has shown the confusion, political and moral bankruptcy of one of these political currents.

The Stop the War Coalition (StWC), to which most of the British left is affiliated (apart from, notably a miniscule openly  pro-Assad band),   must be going through a hard time.

It is opposed, rightly, to Western Intervention in Syria.

But…

At one point it was allied with the Muslim Association of Britain. That is, the British arm of the Moslem Brotherhood, which now makes up a very substantial  part of the Syrian Opposition. Indeed the Syrian National Council (Arabic: المجلس الوطني السوري‎, al-Majlis al-Waṭanī as-Sūri) according to Wikiepdia, includes many members of the exiled Syrian wing of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Now the StWC carries prominently on its site an article by Abdel Bari Atwan, which is headlined.

“Reasons why western military intervention in Syria is coming soon: to protect Israel.”

Atwan is a strident Arab nationalist and former sympathiser with Saddam Hussein. He has expressed this view, Atwan opined (Here): “The events of 11 September will be remembered as the end of the US empire. This is because all empires collapse when they pursue the arrogance of power.”

On the  StWC site Atwan discusses the recent furore about Syria’s possible use of chemical weapons.

He makes this peculiar argument,

What concerns the United States first and foremost is Israel. What the United States really fears is the possibility of these weapons being used against Israelis whether by the regime in a state of despair, which cannot be ruled out, or by the currently militarily stronger jihadist groups in the Syrian territories. When jihadist groups fight against a common enemy like the Syrian regime, this fight would be commendable, but after toppling the Syrian regime, as happened in Libya and earlier in Afghanistan, the Americans’ new enemy would be these very groups.

Overthrowing the regime in Syria has absolutely nothing to do with democracy and human rights, but with the Iranian nuclear programme. This does not mean that the Syrian people’s demands for democratic change are not legitimate. These legitimate demands have been and are being exploited and used by the United States, Europe, and Arabs to shatter Iran’s nuclear aspirations.

We assume, though it is difficult to unpick the reasoning from the rants in this piece, that he thinks that Iran’s nuclear weapons are a threat to Israel. That this is why – Syria interposed – the US wants an end to Assad’s regime.

Most would assume that the USA wants to establish allies in a post-Assad regime. The same motive, dressed up with ‘humanitarian’ concerns  go for the French government, and other European states, which are funding the Free Syrian Army.

The former StWC allies, the Moslem Brotherhood, no doubt prefer this, and their Gulf and Turkish  backing, to the mighty British left.

But there you go.

The article  finishes with this even more curious defence of Syrian chemical weapons,

The Syrian chemical weapons were obtained to serve as deterrence against nuclear Israel, not to be used against the Syrian people or any other people. If the Syrian regime really uses such weapons against its people, something we doubt and strongly oppose, it would deserve any potential consequences. These are Syrian Arab weapons and must remain in Syrian hands. Neither the United States nor any other country has a right to seize or destroy them, as happened to Iraqi weapons, unless all weapons of mass destruction –biological and nuclear — in the Israeli military arsenal are destroyed.

The political degeneration of the StWC is clear.

They are unable to clearly ‘defend’ the vicious regime ruling Syria, they are unable to ‘defend’ the, predominantly Islamist (and anti-democratic) Syrian opposition.

They are fearful that the Free Syrian Army will become the US’s cats-paw.

They are in a complete mess.

Those who support Syrian democrats, oppose the Islamists, and are against Western military intervention, are unlikely to look to them to support their cause.

The Cairo Conferences or How some on the Left have got the Muslim Brotherhood Wrong.

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One major factor that explains the inability of some on the British left to support, clearly, Egyptian democrats is their long-standing links with the Muslim Brotherhood.

This is not just a matter of domestic alliances with the (then) Muslim Association of Britain in the Stop the War Coalition (StWC).

On the principle of being ‘with’ the MB – indeed anybody – when  ‘fighting’ ‘imperialism’ and the its allied states this reached its highest point in the Cairo Conferences, from 2002 to 2009.

Wikipedia is the most convenient source of the history of this alliance,

The first conference was held on the 17–19 December 2002, at the Conrad Hotel on the banks of the Nile . Four hundred attended. Speakers included former United Nations (UN) humanitarian coordinator for Iraq Dr Hans von Sponeck. Former Algerian president Ahmed Ben Bella (TC Note- who had become an Islamist) chaired the conference. One outcome of the conference was the production of the ‘Cairo Declaration’, which took a stance against the then looming Iraq war; it also noted the negative effects of capitalist globalisation and U.S.  hegemony on the peoples of the world (including European and American citizens). In addition, it noted that “In the absence of democracy , and with widespread corruption and oppression constituting significant obstacles along the path of the Arab peoples’ movement towards economic, social, and intellectual progress, adverse consequences are further aggravated within the framework of the existing world order of neoliberal globalisation”, while firmly rejecting the ‘advance of democracy’ justification for attacking Iraq.

The UK Stop the War Coalition, in particular John Rees of the SWP, initiated the signing of the declaration by European leftists, including: Jeremy Corbyn MP, George Galloway MP, Tony Benn, Susan George (scholar/activist based in France), Bob Crow, Mick Rix (general secretary, UK train drivers’ Aslef union), Julie Christie, George Monbiot, Harold Pinter, Ghayasuddin Siddiqui (Muslim Parliament), Tommy Sheridan (Scottish socialist), Dr Ghada Karmi (research fellow, Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies, University of Exeter), Tariq Ali. attended.

I shall miss out the specific references to Iraq and concentrate on what the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty highlighted of the original ‘Cairo Declaration’.

Selective and misleading extracts from the ‘Cairo Declaration’ have been published in “Socialist Worker” (18th January 2003). The carefully edited extracts refer to the internationalist struggle against neo-liberal globalisation, the growth of poverty and unemployment as a result of capitalist globalisation and US hegemony, and the need for total opposition to war on Iraq.
Such worthy sentiments, however, are not representative of the politics encapsulated in the ‘Cairo Declaration’.
The ‘Cairo Declaration’ criticises the US for ‘maintaining the existing uni-polar world order’ and blocking a shift in the balance of power ‘towards multi-polarity.’ This is not an obscure and coded call for working-class struggle against capitalist inequality. It is a complaint that the domination of international markets by large-scale US capital (uni-polarity) is squeezing out the local capitalist classes and elites (multi-polarity).

It would be tedious to go through all these ‘conferences’ declarations but this one indicates the truth of this analysis (from the 3rd Conference 2003),

• The U.S. monopolizes political, economic and military power within the framework of capitalist globalization, to the detriment of the lives of the majority of the world’s people.

• The U.S. imposes control through naked aggression and militarized globalization in pursuit of its rulers’ interests, all while reinstating the characteristic direct occupation of classical colonialism.

• The U.S. global strategy, which was formulated prior to September 11 2001, aims to maintain the existing unipolar world order, and to prevent the emergence of forces that would shift the balance of power towards multi-polarity. The U.S. administration has exploited the tragic events of September 11, under the pretext of fighting terrorism, to implement the pre-existing strategy. Attention to this global context helps explain current world developments:

• Prioritize the interest of monopolistic capitalist circles above those of the people, including Europeans and U.S. citizens.

• Integrate the economies of different countries into a single global capitalist economic system under conditions which undermine social development and adversely affect the situation of women, child health, education, and social services for the elderly. In addition, unemployment and poverty increase.

The last conference in 2009 was unde the banner of “The International Campaign Against Universal Imperialism and Zionism”. Its main  slogan was “Pro-Resistance and Anti-Occupation with its crimes”, will be discussing a number of issues such as supporting the resistance, developing the struggle against the occupation of Iraq, confronting the racist policies of imperialist governments and issues against dictatorship and globalization in Egypt and the Arab world.

Workers’ Liberty’s  comments on the 2003 Cairo Declaration, are relevant,  

The Cairo Conference was convened by an organisation committed to the defence of the national security of Egypt. At best, the conference was financed by local businessmen. (At worst, the Iraqi government had a hand in funding it.) Those attending the conference including representatives of the Iraqi Baath regime, members of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, a delegation from the Cuban Castroite regime, and various veteran Stalinists lamenting the collapse of the Soviet Union.

I will not go into the issue of Israel, or Stalinism.

The most important point is that they aligned themselves with a section of the pious Egyptian bourgeoisie – with all tis own financial and capital links with Gulf States.

The MB’s anti-globalisation and ‘anti-imperialism’ now stand as a cover for their promotion of their own religious-political national interests.

These interests are increasingly anti-democratic and anti-working class.

But will those in Britain who have worked with them draw a balance sheet?

It seems highly unlikely.

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