Mass uprisings are destabilizing Egypt, an essential ally of war-making U.S. imperialists. Capitalism itself, however, the root cause of imperialist war and of the rebelling workers’ miseries, remains unthreatened. Unfortunately, the protesters aim solely at ousting dictator Mubarak. Lacking class consciousness, they do not seek to overthrow the profit system. Most follow either secular nationalist or Islamist politicians. Thus, even if Mubarak is ousted, workers in Egypt will continue to suffer under a new regime of exploiters. Nevertheless, our revolutionary communist Party can learn much from the courageous, though misguided, struggles in the streets of Cairo and elsewhere.
The uncertainty over whether Islamist or pro-U.S. bosses will rule Egypt has Obama & Co. worried sick. In 2006, open elections (which the protesters demand) gave anti-U.S., pro-Iranian Hamas control of the Palestinian Authority.
Today U.S. rulers fear that Muslim Brotherhood (MB) candidates might win in Egypt. MB leader and al Qaeda supporter Mohammed Akef told CBS News (5/22/08), “MB would send fighters to fight the occupation in Iraq and Palestine.” Mohamed Atta, reported ringleader of the 9/11 attacks, received anti-U.S. indoctrination as a member of MB in Egypt.
U.S. War Machine Armed Dictator Mubarak
Egypt holds vast significance in the sharpening rivalry among waning and rising imperialist powers. Martin Indyk, director of foreign policy at the Brookings Institution and Clinton’s ambassador to Israel, spoke of “huge potential consequences for U.S. strategic interests in a vital region.” (NY Times, 1/30) The Times explained:
“The United States could not have sustained the wars it fought in Iraq without logistical support from Egypt’s government. Oil for Europe comes through the Suez Canal. Egypt is the largest and most militarily powerful Arab country….Mr. Sadat’s peace deal in 1979 with Mr. Begin made it next to impossible for other Arab states to contemplate going to war with Israel.”
Next to Israel, Egypt is Washington’s second biggest recipient of military aid. Reuters reported (1/29) that Mubarak has been receiving an average of $2 billion annually from the U.S., “much of it military.” Obama asked Congress for a similar amount for 2011, including 1,200 Abrams tanks and 20 advanced F-16 jet fighters for 2013 delivery to add to the 240 already sent.
Imperialist IMF Impoverished Workers in Egypt
Egypt’s poverty, unemployment, and unaffordable food stem directly from U.S. imperialism. In 1991, Bush, Sr., purchased Mubarak’s support for Iraq War I by having the U.S.-run International Monetary Fund (IMF) forgive Egypt’s debt. The price was IMF control of Egypt’s economy. Mass unemployment in Egypt results directly from IMF demands that Egypt privatize industry that had been widely nationalized in its pro-Soviet 1950s-1960s era. IMF-imposed constraints on interest and subsidies jacked the cost of necessities through the roof.
U.S. Empire’s Saudi Grand Prize Next Domino?
But U.S. ruling-class mouthpieces like the Times hesitate to mention the far larger geostrategic stake just across the Red Sea, Saudi Arabia. U.S. rulers’ worst, unspeakable nightmare envisions Arab anti-government unrest spreading to the oil-rich cornerstone of their empire. Saudi Arabia is Exxon Mobil’s biggest oil supplier and Exxon Mobil is the kingdom’s biggest buyer.
U.S. global supremacy depends on this relationship, which helps enable it to dictate the conditions of the supply of capitalism’s lifeblood to most of the rest of the world, including (for now) China. The Saudi-based, Exxon-led chokehold, of course, involves other U.S. and allied oil giants and requires continued U.S. occupation of Iraq, which may have crude reserves as great as its Saudi neighbor. So, in gross understatement, the Associated Press reported (1/30) “Obama phoned the [Saudi] king in Morocco….both leaders were not happy with the chaotic situation.”
Just how U.S. rivals Iran, China and Russia will capitalize on the chaos remains to be seen. Keeping their Saudi contingency plans close to the vest, U.S. military planners openly fixate on wiping out Iran. The influential, Rockefeller-funded Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), in a January 2011 report, dreams of massive U.S. nuclear retaliation against “high-value population centers” like Teheran. The CSIS’s justification is that Iran’s developing A-bombs could “inflict 2,000,000 to 8,000,000” deaths in a 21-day period.
Despite bad politics on all sides, lessons for revolutionaries emerge from Egypt and environs. One dispels the growing myth that electronic social media have become the only way to organize. The rulers, in fact, own and run them. Actually, workers in Cairo had forged sufficient personal, non-electronic networks to be able to organize days after Mubarak pulled the plug on the Internet and mobile phones.
Another crucial point is that ill-armed workers can successfully face down the fascist police apparatus. Put simply, there are far more of us than there are of them. And soldiers, on the other hand, are mainly poor, working-class youth, rather than pro-government die-hards. The fact that some have already sided with the masses points up the crucial necessity for communists to advance revolutionary politics within the army to move soldiers against the bosses.
We are not witnessing, as fake leftists proclaim, the “liberation” of Egypt’s workers. That will take painstaking class-based organization for communist revolution against capitalists of all kinds, religious, nationalist and imperialist.
U.S. War-Makers Build ‘Opposition’ Groups to Maintain Control
While U.S. imperialists may control the leadership of fascist countries such as Egypt’s, the working class is often anti-U.S. Therefore, U.S. bosses — knowing their support of Mubarak-type dictators is on shaky ground over the long term — try to build alternative movements under their control.
The NY Post reported that, “In a December 2008 cable obtained by the Wikileaks website [U.S. ambassador to Egypt Margaret] Scoby….cited talks with an unnamed activist leader of an opposition group called ‘April 6’…which wants the Mubarak regime replaced….April has 70,000 members…and is now at the forefront of Egypt protests….
“Despite strong U.S. ties with Mubarak, there’s evidence U.S. officials quietly supported…activists seeking to remove him….
“In 2008, the State Department co-sponsored a youth activist conference that helped organizations use social media to spread opposition across the globe — and helped one of April 6’s leaders attend without the knowledge of Egypt’s secret police.
“The April 6 leader was among the delegates from around the world at the Alliance of Youth Movements gathered at Columbia Law School….At the three-day confab, participants swapped best practices for taking their activism ‘to the streets’ and guidance on ‘planning events, marches and protests.’
“There was also a panel devoted to ‘Egypt’s pro-democracy youth movement’ and how to advance them with social media.”