Egypt crisis: analysis from the Egyptian Communist Party
by Nick Wright
Interview with Salah Adli, general secretary of the Egyptian Communist Party by "Nameh Mardom", the Central Organ of the Central Committee of the Tudeh (Communist) Party of Iran
6 July 2013
I would like first of all to extend my greetings to the Tudeh Party of Iran and wish it success in its struggle. I would also like to salute "Nameh Mardom" newspaper for the opportunity to clarify the big historical events that are taking place in Egypt.
- In the recent statements of the CP Egypt (July 3rd) you referred the fact that the mass protest movement comprises of various classes and strata. How were the classes and strata of the Egyptian society mobilized in the second wave of the 30th June Revolution?
- Salah Adly
- Since the outbreak of the revolution of 25th January 2011, the protest movements have not subsided, and demonstrations of millions of people have not stopped, i.e. the revolutionary state of the masses has always been there, subsiding at times and flaring up some other times. The workers' protests and strikes also escalated. After the success of Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood came to power, the masses discovered their authoritarian nature, fascist character, their bias to the interests of more reactionary and parasitic sections of capitalism, and their inability to run a state of the size of Egypt. Furthermore, their betrayal of the interests of the homeland and their willingness to act as the biggest broker to maintain the interests of America and Israel in the region were exposed. They concluded the truce in Gaza and gave America and Israel what even Mubarak's client regime had not given. Their sectarian and obscurantist project, which is hostile to democracy, science, culture and tolerance, became very evident. More importantly, the masses discovered the falsehood of their use of religious slogans to disguise their plans in the service of the Greater Middle East project and "creative chaos".
Therefore, the number of social protests (strikes, sit-ins, demonstrations and protest pickets) reached 7400 - by Mohamed Morsi's own admission - during last year. The unemployment rate reached 32%, with most of the unemployed being holders of high and middle qualifications. The foreign debts rose from $34 billion to $45 billion. The domestic debt rose by 365 billion Egyptian pounds during the reign of Morsi last year. The proportion of people living below the poverty line increased to more than 50% of the population. In short, most classes and strata of society - and its liberal, nationalist and leftist political forces, as well as youth movements, mostly leftist and nationalist oriented, in addition to the main state institutions, especially the army, judiciary, media and police - felt there is a grave danger as a result of the Muslim Brotherhood remaining in power because of their fervent quest to monopolize power and exclude anyone who is not with them, other than their allies among terrorist groups that use religion as a cover.
Even broad sections of the middle and big Egyptian bourgeoisie in the sectors of tourism, industry, trade, agriculture and construction felt very scared for their interests as a result of the continued rule of the Muslim Brotherhood which was creating an atmosphere of chaos, insecurity and instability.
The "Tamarud" (Rebellion) Movement succeeded in collecting more than 22 million signatures for the withdrawal of confidence in Morsi and in support of calling for early presidential elections. All parties, trade unions and organizations participated in collecting signatures, and the campaign spread in the streets of cities, in factories, schools and universities, and in villages in all the governorates of Egypt. The great importance of this campaign is that it was able to involve Egyptian citizens actively in the revolutionary movement to overthrow the rule of the Muslim Brotherhood. It also restored the peaceful and democratic character of revolutionary action, and formed the basis for removing the sacred cover of the false legitimacy of the ballot box as the sole criterion for legitimacy and the democratic system. The call for the collection of signatures was accompanied by calling for demonstrations in all the main squares of Egypt on 30th June as a principal test of the credibility of this campaign and the fundamental basis for the revolutionary legitimacy of the masses to overthrow this fascist regime and foil the project of the religious state.
The response of the masses of the Egyptian people was great, and the biggest demonstrations in the history of Egypt, and even in the history of the world, came out. This has been verified by the "Google Earth" index. More than 27 million demonstrators came out at the same time in all the governorates of Egypt, representing various classes and strata of the Egyptian society, in the face of protests that did not exceed 200 thousand demonstrators from the Muslim Brotherhood and their allies in one small square in Cairo. Thus, the Egyptian people were on one side and the Muslim Brotherhood were with their allies on the other, isolated, side. This is the reality of the scene. This is the reality upon which any evaluation of the situation or any political scientific analysis should be based.
We believe that what happened on 30th June is a second wave of the Egyptian revolution that is stronger and deeper than the first wave in 2011. It has taken place to correct the path of the revolution and seize it back from the forces of the extreme religious right that had conspired to steal the revolution and ride its wave to serve their fascist and reactionary objectives and the schemes of world imperialism.
- What is the level of the participation of the toiling classes and workers in these protests? Why the workers participate in the battle with political Islam for democratic rights?
- Salah Adly
- The basic slogans of the January revolution were: bread - freedom - social justice - human dignity. It is an essential link of the national democratic revolution, and came after a long historical stage that had begun in the mid-seventies of the last century, with the rule of dependent big capitalism and a full cycle of regression, backwardness and tyranny. During that period, the reactionary forces, in alliance with world imperialism and Arab reaction, managed to strengthen a climate that allowed the current of political Islam - especially the Muslim Brotherhood - to spread and ascend. The forces of the left were weakened, workers were displaced and big industries were liquidated in order to deal a blow to any possibilities for achieving comprehensive development.
In fact, the workers have been involved in most of the protests that have escalated since 2006 and are participating in all the popular demonstrations as part of the people and not in a class organized manner. This is due to the absence of strong trade union organizations and federations because of a long legacy of a tyranny and government repression to control the federations and trade unions. It is also due to the big changes to the class map and to the nature of the composition of the working class in various sectors that took place during the past period. Small and medium-sized industries controlled by private sector were relied upon, where workers were prevented from forming trade unions. The working class did not emerge in a clear class manner in the revolution. As a result of the lack of effective unity among the forces of the left and its weakness during the previous stage for many reasons, which there is no room here to mention, the labor movement did not appear in an effective and influential manner commensurate with the size of its participation and big sacrifices in the revolution.
It is important to clarify that the workers in the public sector have discovered that the practices and attitudes of the Muslim Brotherhood do not differ from the orientations of the Mubarak regime, rather they were worse. The Muslim Brotherhood implemented the same policies on the continuation of the privatization program and the liberalization of prices, and did not raise the minimum wage even though it was one of the first demands of the revolution. They even reduced the taxes on businessmen, continued the privatization of services and refused to implement the health insurance program. They insisted on selling and mortgaging the assets of Egypt and its institutions through the project of "Islamic bonds" which they rushed to pass in the Shura Council [the upper house of parliament] controlled by Muslim Brotherhood. The most dangerous position was their refusal to pass the law to ensure freedom to form unions, which they had agreed upon with all political forces and trade union currents before the revolution, and replaced Mubarak's men in the government-controlled General Union of Egyptian Workers with their own men. This is the social and democratic basis for the bias of the working class in favor of the revolution against the rule of the Muslim Brotherhood and the forces of political Islam, in addition to the other reasons that we have mentioned earlier.
Anyone who imagines that workers only revolt for factional issues or for economic reasons is mistaken. Workers are more aware of the dangers of the extremist religious right-wing project and their right-wing and fascist practices in all democratic, political, economic, social, and national fields.
- In your statements, the CP Egypt characterises the current developments as a revolution .. What are the nature, tasks and urgent demands of the revolution?
- Salah Adly
- Yes, what is happening now is a revolution. To be precise, it is the second big wave of the January 2011 Revolution, as its first wave was aborted because it was robbed by the Muslim Brotherhood despite the fact that they did not participate in calling for it or making it. It is a democratic revolution with a clear social and patriotic orientation. It is continuing, and broad social strata and various political forces (liberal, nationalist and leftist) have participated in it. With the continuation of the revolutionary tide, the truth about the various positions has become clearer, and the biases of these forces and their willingness to continue along the path of the revolution are revealed.
The first democratic tasks of the revolution is promulgating a new civil democratic constitution that stresses human rights, women's rights and economic and social rights for the toiling classes, and one which does not negate the people's right to choose its political and economic system in the future according to the balance of forces. Thus, the task of overthrowing the sectarian, reactionary and distorted Constitution, rather than amending it, is a fundamental task for the democratic and progressive forces in the present moment.
One of the tasks of the democratic revolution is also the freedom to form trade unions, political parties and associations without government interference, rejecting the formation of political parties on a religious and sectarian basis, full equality between men and women in terms of rights and duties, equality before the law and the criminalization of religious and other forms of discrimination.
Among the social tasks is formulating an independent comprehensive social development plan that is based on encouraging the productive sectors with the need for equitable distribution of the development product and wealth for the benefit of the poor and toilers and achieving urgent social demands. A top priority among these demands is specifying a minimum and maximum wage and linking it to prices, cancelling debts for small peasants, redistributing the budget items to increase spending on health and education, providing housing for low-income people, raising taxes on the rich, regaining possession of the corporations that were looted from the public sector and fighting against corruption.
The national tasks are: opposing dependency on the United States, refusing to succumb to Zionist hegemony, amending the Camp David agreement, restoring Egypt's national role in the on Arab, African, regional and international levels, and deepening the relationship with the countries and peoples of the Third World.
- Do the current developments in Egypt mean rejection of the 'political Islam' or only rejection of "Moslem Brotherhood" by the Egyptian people?
- Salah Adly
- The Muslim Brotherhood are the most effective and influential organization among the forces of political Islam. All the other organizations, including Salafi and Jihadist groups, were allies with the Muslim Brotherhood and came out with them in their last battle defending their regime because they know that their defeat would mean a major defeat for the sectarian Islamist project which is supported by the U.S. administration as an alternative to the collapsing authoritarian regimes. Only the Salafi al-Nour Party was excluded from the alliance in the last battle due to considerations related to its association with Saudi Arabia, although we are aware that it is a reactionary and sectarian party that is hostile to human rights and the rights of women and minorities, including other Islamic sects. This was evident in their inciting in the crime of murdering Shiites and dragging their bodies in the horrific massacre that took place in a village last month.
We believe that the battle is not over and there needs to be a political, social and cultural struggle to crush their resistance and change the general climate which has been rife for decades.
But what we would like to draw attention to is that what is happening in Egypt now is not only a confrontation of the Muslim Brotherhood, and their allies among the forces of the religious right, with the security institutions of the state. They are in fact confronting the Egyptian people of all sects and currents as well as all state institutions, including the judiciary, media and culture. In neighborhoods and villages, the Muslim Brotherhood will be now confronting the masses of the Egyptian people, as they have certainly lost the support of large segments of the people during the last two years. But the army and security forces will have an important role in confronting their armed terrorist militias.
In short, we see that what has happened is a big defeat for the project of the religious right in general, and not only for the project of the Muslim Brotherhood. It will have major implications in the region in the coming period.
- What is your view about the arguments which say Morsi's removal is undemocratic because he was elected through a legally and the new Constitution was ratified through a referendum. Was Morsi overthrown by the Egyptian army?
- Salah Adly
- Those who have ousted Morsi are more than 22 million citizens of the Egyptian people who signed a document containing the signatory's name, ID number (national ID) and the name of the province, written by hand rather than on the Internet, in an unprecedented referendum that was culminated in the "big coming out" in main squares by more than 27 million demonstrators on 30th June 30, continuing for four consecutive days. It was Morsi who overthrew legitimacy when he issued his dictatorial constitutional declaration in November 2011. It was Morsi who devastated human rights when his terrorist supporters besieged the Constitutional Court, when his militia tortured protesters in front of al-Ittihadyah Palace [the presidential palace]as shown by investigations carried out by the public prosecutor office, and when his men killed demonstrators in front of the headquarters of the Freedom and Justice Party (the political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood) in accordance with explicit orders from the leader of the group and his deputy, as the killers confessed before the public prosecutor. It was Morsi who reneged on the promises he had announced on the day he succeeded to amend the Constitution and form a coalition government. He and his group insisted on submitting to the conditions of the International Monetary Fund, and also declared Jihad on Syria at a conference of terrorist jihadist forces without referring to the army and the National Defense Council.
Therefore, all the political parties and forces, and even the Salafi al-Nour Party, which jumped from the ship before it sank, have supported early presidential elections. This call is not a coup against democracy, rather it emanates from the heart of popular democracy when any president betrays his promises to the people and his program on the basis of which the people had elected him.
To limit the cause of democracy to just the "ballot box" is a complete plunder of the essence of democracy and an explicit rejection of the right of peoples to revolt against their autocratic rulers and the fascist regimes that use religion to hide their reactionary nature and right-wing capitalist orientation.
The defending of Morsi by the United States and Western capitalist states and portraying the issue as just a "military coup" against "constitutional legitimacy" is a formal position that hides the fact that world imperialism is terrified by peoples' revolutions and their ability to transcend the narrow confines of the democratic bourgeoisie which represents, in essence, the optimal form to fulfill the interests of big businessmen and monopolies and their local agents in controlling the destiny of peoples in Third World countries.
What has happened is not a military coup in any way, but a revolutionary coup by the Egyptian people to get rid of this fascist rule. What the army did is carrying out the will of the people and protecting them from the plots of the Muslim Brotherhood and their armed terrorist allies who want to ignite sectarian strife and civil wars, divide the Egyptian army and destroy the institutions of the Egyptian state to serve the interests of imperialism and Zionism in the region.
What kind of military coup is it when tens of millions of people are in the streets?!! What kind of military coup is it when the head of the Constitutional Court has already assumed power, which is what had been demanded by the Salvation Front, that includes all the opposition forces with their various orientations and the "Tamarud" (Rebellion) youth movement, and has been endorsed by the masses of the Egyptian people??!! What kind of military coup is it when a government made up of civil national qualified people will be formed and has full powers during a transitional period not exceeding one year and ending with the promulgation of a democratic civil constitution and presidential and parliamentary elections which everyone is keen to have?? What kind of military coup is it that allows the right to peaceful protests even by its opponents and does not impose a state of emergency? The statement by Al-Sisi, the Egyptian army chief, in which he declared the road map for the transitional stage, was only announced after a dialogue and consensus with the representatives of the Egyptian people, including the youth of the "Tamarud" (Rebellion) movement, the representative of the Salvation Front, the Sheikh of Al-Azhar, the Coptic Pope and a representative of women. The Egyptian people have celebrated in main squares, neighborhoods and villages this great victory for the Egyptian people and the national army's compliance with it.
We should, as taught by Marxism, proceed from the concrete reality and not confine our vision to predetermined rigid ideas and ready formulas. Isn't it noteworthy that the Western media turn a blind eye to all this, refuse to see the reality and insist that what is happening is a military coup??!!!
Nevertheless, we are keen for the need to be alert and pay attention during the next phase to ensure that the military's role in this stage is limited to the protection of the people and the Egyptian national security and to abide by its promises not to interfere directly in political affairs, and the need for the people to remain in the squares to ensure the implementation of their demands in the transitional phase.
- What is your assessment of the USA's position TOWARDS THE DEVELOPMENTS IN Egypt?
- Salah Adly
- The U.S. was taken by surprise by the revolution of January 2011, but it had been preparing for scenarios of change in Egypt before that when it felt that the Mubarak regime had become aged. So it intervened immediately after he was overthrown to form an alliance between the former Military Council and the Muslim Brotherhood to pave the way for handing over power to Muslim Brotherhood after they pledged to ensure fulfilling the interests of the United States, ensuring the security of Israel and continuing the neoliberal economic policy which is against the interests of the popular masses.
But the United States discovered after a while the extent of the inability of the Muslim Brotherhood to run the affairs of governance, their lack of qualified people and their insistence on alliance with the jihadi groups instead of an alliance with the liberal forces and uniting the big capitalists' class with its various strata in a stable system that is based on a transfer of power that revolves in the orbit of this class and ensuring America's interests. The U.S. was at the same time also keen to ensure the interests and privileges of the military institution in order to guarantee its loyalty.
But the United States was at the same time afraid of the continuation of the revolutionary situation in Egypt, the mounting scale of the protests and the escalation of popular rejection of the rule of the Muslim Brotherhood. Therefore, it exerted pressure on the Muslim Brotherhood to carry out reforms, and also exerted pressure on the forces of the liberal opposition, especially those representing the interests of big capital in Wafd Party, Free Egyptians Party and the Constitution Party to speed up parliamentary elections, end their alliance with the forces of the left and reject the revolutionary orientations of the youth movements which believe that the objectives of the revolution and the uprooting of the Muslim Brotherhood's regime can only be achieved with a big popular revolution against it and boycotting the elections.
When the "Tamarud" (Rebellion) and its genius idea to withdraw legitimacy from Morsi were successful, it put everyone in a dilemma when broad sections of the people and the political forces responded to it. This put an end to the wavering of all the parties and forces, and they rallied behind the popular option to overthrow Morsi and conduct early presidential elections. This demand escalated to calling for the overthrow of the Muslim Brotherhood's regime, changing the Constitution and correcting the course of the revolution through a new revolutionary legitimacy and a new transitional phase on a proper basis.
The Muslim Brotherhood, the Americans, the army, and even the forces of political opposition and youth, did not imagine that the people's response will be of this mighty size which forced everyone to implement the people's will.
We know that the United States exerted pressure in a flagrant manner on the leaders of the army and the liberal political forces not to overthrow Morsi and only carry out big reforms. But it was too late and everyone realized that the people have spoken and that the alternative would be the escalation of civil war, the escalation of terrorism and sectarian strife, and opening the door to foreign intervention.
The arrival at this critical point led to the overthrow of Morsi and the intervention of the army in a manner that serves the objectives of the revolution at this stage. It is noteworthy that this is the first time that the Egyptian army has disobeyed America's orders because it has realized the nature of the big dangers that would plague itself and the homeland if it declines to support the revolution.
The national and democratic forces realize that the army's leaders have interests and privileges which they want to preserve, and they also want to have a role in power without a direct political interference. We believe that this has to be taken into account at this stage with emphasis on correcting things gradually during the next phase.
We expect that the United States, in the current critical period, will encourage plots to ignite sedition and strife and to encourage these groups to stir up chaos to achieve the schemes of "creative chaos" schemes and turn Egypt into another Iraq. This is what happened and was revealed in the plot on Friday 5thJuly. This plot has been called by the youth "the Tripartite, U.S. - Israeli - Muslim Brotherhood, Aggression" on the people of Egypt. The plan was aimed at aborting the revolution, reinstating Morsi, spreading chaos and terror through demonstrations that would occupy the Liberation squares by employing weapons and terrorism, launching a campaign of rumors and a war of disinformation that was unprecedented in Egypt in order to create divisions between the people and the army and within the military itself, and conspiring with jihadist groups in Sinai to declare it a liberated area in collusion with Israel and the Islamic groups in Gaza.
Egypt lived through critical hours after the speech of terrorism and intimidation delivered by the leader of the fascist group, the Muslim Brotherhood, to his supporters in Rabi'a al-Adawiyya square in Nasr City, Cairo. That was the signal for the start of this big conspiracy to turn against the popular will. The CNN as well as the BBC Arabic service TV channels played a dangerous role in this plot. But the people and the army were able to foil this plot and the shameful role of America and the Muslim Brotherhood's betrayal of the people and the homeland were exposed. This was a major blow to the schemes of America and imperialism in the region, and reaffirmed the triumph of the revolution and the people's will over the forces of counter-revolution.
- What is your assessment of the newly appointed interim president, Adly Mansour, and what he should immediately do?
- Salah Adly
- He is a judge who is well-known for his integrity and competence, and had not professed any political positions or adopted certain biases. The speech he delivered after he was sworn in and took up his post as interim president for the transitional period was a good and positive speech. He stressed that it was "the people alone" who authorized him, and that the powers granted to him are honorary, but the real authority will reside in the prime minister who will be chosen by consensus among the national forces and youth, and who will be charged with the implementation of tasks agreed upon by national democratic and social forces. A top priority for the government will be to halt the economic collapse, implement the urgent demands of the toilers and provide security.
We see the need for continued public pressure in the squares, which was confirmed by the statement announced by Al-Sisi, protecting the right to peaceful demonstration. This is to ensure that there will be no deviation from what has been agreed upon, and to ensure that the army will not intervene except within the limits agreed to ensure the success of this difficult transitional stage.
- What are the main challenges facing your party, specifically in relation to other political forces and creating a united alliance?
- Salah Adly
- The main challenge is the need to unite the forces of the left in the first place to confront the big tasks that we are facing at this stage. The most important are:
- To ensure the achievement of the objectives and tasks of the transitional phase.
- To achieve consensus on a single candidate for the national and democratic forces to fight the battle of presidential elections.
- To form a front of leftist forces, Nasserites, youth movements and trade union organizations; to prepare joint lists to fight the forthcoming parliamentary and local elections; and to exert pressure to ensure there is no retreat from correcting the path of the revolution in the transitional phase.
- To seek to complete and develop the party structure, to renew the party with fresh blood, and to develop its program so that we can face the big challenges that we are confronting.
This interview with comrade Salah Adli, general secretary of the Egyptian Communist Party was conducted by "Nameh Mardom", the Central Organ of the Central Committee of the Tudeh (Communist) Party of Iran