The latest stage of revolt in Egypt

Photo: RamyRaoof
Demonstrators in Tahrir Square Cairo

By Alan Davis

The outpouring of popular rebellion in Egypt has inspired progressive people throughout the world. Literally millions were on the streets. The mass mobilisations are continuing despite the killing of hundreds of people by the security services and then the assaults on the protestors by state security thugs.

But in the last few days the various manoeuvrings at the top in Egypt and internationally have intensified.

There should be clarity on their character.

Inside Egypt itself vice-president Suleiman has only one aim in ‘negotiations’ with the opposition – which is supported by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the rest of the US administration. That aim is to derail and defeat the mass movement.

Suleiman, as the Guardian’s release of WikiLeaks cables shows, has long been the favoured candidate of Israel to succeed Mubarak. Suleiman is also strongly supported by the US. The Egyptian regime, in which Suleiman is now the key figure, through its constant attacks on Al Jazeera and other journalists, as well as its actions against the mass movement, shows it wants to launch a new crackdown if the mass mobilisations reduce.

Whether the opposition is right to expose Suleiman’s aims through participating in the negotiations or boycotting them is a matter which can only be decided by those on the ground in Egypt and who therefore have the most concrete knowledge of the views of the Egyptian masses and the precise relations of forces. But there should be no misunderstanding anywhere as to the sole aim of Suleiman – he is trying to save Mubarakism, not ‘democratise’ it.

The same applies to another international manoeuvre – the dispatch of William Hague to the Middle East. Hague claims he is going ‘to show support’ for democratic change in the Arab world. This claim is entirely ludicrous. US and British governments have never supported democracy in the Middle East, as their countless activities – from coups in Iran in the 1950s, through to the invasion of Iraq and support of Israel against the Palestinians – amply demonstrate. Hague is merely playing the usual role of British foreign secretaries of being an obedient lap dog being sent to do the master’s bidding, the real master being the US administration, with the British government being used as the administrative apparatus through which messages are transmitted. In continuity with the long-term policy of British governments in the Middle East, the only real purpose of Hague’s trip is to help to try to find the best way to organise a counter-revolution and trample on the democratic, social and national rights of the Arab peoples.

More precisely regarding Egypt, the only issue Hague is trying to clarify is whether Mubarak can be saved, or whether Mubarak personally will have to be sacrificed in order to try to preserve Mubarakism – that is, a police state in tight alliance with Israel against the Egyptian and Palestinian people. The number one item on the agenda of a meeting between Suleiman and Hague can therefore suitably be entitled ‘Preserving Mubarakism – the tactical options.’

The aim of these manoeuvrings is simply to attempt to get the various imperialist and Egyptian ruling class forces into the best possible alignment with each other. As Lenin noted: ‘The fundamental law of revolution, which has been confirmed by all revolutions… is as follows: for a revolution to take place it is not enough for the exploited and oppressed masses to realise the impossibility of living in the old way and demand changes; for a revolution to take place it is essential that the exploiters should not be able to live and rule in the old way. It is only when the “lower classes” do not want to live in the old way and the “upper classes” cannot carry on in the old way that the revolution can triumph.’

The people of Egypt have already amply demonstrated in truly inspiring fashion that they are unwilling to go on in the old way. It is not yet clear whether the ruling classes are unable to go on in the old way. It is the cracks which have appeared in the old regime that Suleiman and Hague, and their masters in Washington, are working night and day to overcome. It is this collision between the unwillingness of the Egyptian people to go on in the old way, and the unceasing attempts of the imperialists and their puppets in Egypt to coordinate their actions, that will determine whether the Egyptian people secure their just goals.

Total support must be given to the Egyptian people and not one single illusion should be entertained in Suleiman, Hague, Clinton or Obama – the aim of all of whom is to suppress democracy in the Arab world, not to promote it.