Wednesday, January 25, 2012

A Year of Revolution in Egypt

Early signs of new Arab Spring in Tahrir Square?
It is January 25th 2012, and Egyptians have taken to the streets in a mass demonstration of both joy at their ousting of Hosni Mubarak, and anger at the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) regime. It is the anniversary of the first mass demonstration in Cairo's Tahrir Square.

Many thousands have either camped overnight, or arrived later in the plaza, which was the symbolic epicentre of the anti-Mubarak revolution, and the scene of fierce battles in the twelve months since.

Hailed as 'neutral' upholders of law and order by anti-working class forces when Mubarak fell, SCAF have steadily revealed themselves to be every bit as much an enemy of the Egyptian masses as the departed dictator. Within weeks, they had drawn-up a reactionary new constitution, and effectively banned strikes and other demonstrations. In this, the generals were defending their own business interests as owners of factories and land throughout the country. They were also executing the will of the United States government, which turned its affections from Mubarak when his fate was sealed, and started showering 'foreign aid' on the new Egyptian junta.

Largescale strike action - a central though generally underrated element of the February revolution - returned in the autumn of last year, especially in the period leading up to November's bogus elections of pro-regime parties. This reflected both mistrust of the army and the unmet material need for well-paying jobs, which was the major root cause of the 2011 rebellions.

Despite the recent third round of elections, the upheaval continues. As CrimethInc reports:
"One year later, elections are entering their third round while the military still holds political power. They also hold over 12,000 political prisoners, who are being hastily sentenced in military trials. The streets of Cairo are filled with graffiti and the residue of political protests that became street fights. Walls made of huge concrete slabs block roads where the military and police faced off with protesters only months earlier; the marble sidewalks remain torn up where street militants recently improvised ammunition. Some neighborhood assemblies have transformed into “popular committees in the defense of the revolution,” working on issues ranging from basic services to local governance. Meanwhile, over 100 independent trade unions were formed, breaking the state’s former monopoly on organized labor."
The social contradictions that pushed millions of Egyptians on last January and February have not been resolved. On the contrary, they have grown. A massive new uprising is an inevitability, and it is merely a matter of time before a second revolutionary struggle breaks out.
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