The rule of the MB lasted only a bit more than one year, why the collapse came so soon?
The fall of Morsi and of the rule of Muslim Brothers came as expected. Firstly, the government of the Muslim Brothers has been pursuing the same neoliberal policies as that of Mubarak, and even worse. It could not solve any problem faced by the Egyptian people.
Secondly, Morsi was elected through a gigantic fraud. Millions were given to buy the votes. The Muslim Brothers were mobilized to occupy the voting places and made impossible for the others to vote, to the extent that the Egyptian judges who usually followed the election were disgusted and moved out and gave the election. Despite that, the US Embassy and the Europe declared the election was perfect. This is how Morsi was elected.
Shortly after the fall of Morsi, you released a short statement and claimed it an important victory of Egyptian people, however, Morsi was ousted by the army, not directly by the demonstrations of the people. To what degree can we say it’s the victory of the people?
After a few months, it has been proven that Morsi was continuing the same policies rejected by the people. The movement of Tamarod started a campaign of signature, asking for the removal of Morsi and a new, real election. 26 million signatures were collected, which is the true figure. Morsi did not take an account of this campaign. So it was decided on 30th of June, which is exactly one year after his inauguration, there would be a demonstration. And the demonstration has been gigantic, the widest in the whole history of Egypt. 33 million people moved into the streets of Cairo and all Egyptian towns, including small towns. When you say 33 million people out of the total population of 85 million people, it means everybody. Just compare, imagine there (for China) are 500 million people demonstrating on the same day in all towns.
But Morsi replied to the demonstration by saying, oh, we are not accepting the civil war. There is no danger of civil war, because you have 90% of the people who are anti-Morsi and Morsi was not able to mobilize, even distributing a lot of money, more than a few hundred thousand people, which means an imbalance against him. The western media are continuously repeating the words of Morsi ‘we are moving to a civil war’, but this is ridiculous.
Facing the situation, the army operated in a very wise, intelligent way, they simply deposited Morsi and controlled him; the presidency was transferred to the President of the Constitutional Court, which is the normal way to replace a president which is removed. We shall see what the new government will do, if moving out of the policies of Morsi or not, but the movement is completely mobilized to respond.
The fact that Morsi was removed by the military force has been received in very different ways, some welcomed the change, some condemned it’s a pure military coup. What do think of that?
Such an action of the army is not a coup d’état. The western press said it was a coup d’état, but it is not, it is a wise action to answer the demands of the Egyptian people. I don’t want to go into details that I don’t know. The top leadership of the army has been, during the 30 years after the death of Nasser, controlled by the US and corrupted by the money of the US and the Gulf countries; and they accepted the polices of submission of Mubarak and Morsi. But everybody should know that the Egyptian army is not only the top leaders, also thousands of officers who remain patriotic; they are not necessarily progressive, nor socialist, but they understand that the people don’t want Morsi.
The new prime minister, Hazem Al Beblawi, I knew him personally. He was a brilliant student of economics. I don’t know what his mind is today; but he’s a clever man, able to understand the continuing of neoliberal policy is a disaster. We shall see.
As you said, the Egyptian army has been corrupt and has close connections with the US, but this time they stand together with the people. Can we say the army has changed in nature?
It’s the question we are all asking ourselves. We suspect the top leaders of the army are pro US, I don’t want to go into the secrets that I don’t know. Who is Sisi? Sisi is not necessarily the worst among them, I don’t know. Anyway, we judge the people by actions, not by this or that we don’t know. But I can assure you that many officers have shown their sympathy by moving among the people quite spontaneously. When the soldiers moved out onto the streets, standing with the people, it was also quite spontaneous. We should not consider the army as a whole is simply the instrument of the US.
Please tell us something about the movement. It seems very wide, who are joining the movement and how much in common do they have?
This is a wide movement which includes all the society. It brings together different people with different projects, different political minds. There is left, there is centre, there is right in the movement. They are unequally organized; some sectors are better organized than others.
The left is represented by Communist and socialist Parties
There is also left independent trade unions of the working class. About 4 to 5 million workers are organized by the trade unions which are traditionally on the left, with precise demands with respect to wages, conditions of labor, pensions, etc. On the left also there is the movement of small peasants who are resisting the process of dispossession to the benefit of the rich peasants, accelerated by the neoliberal policies. They are a very important component of the movement.
There are gigantic organizations, 4 or 5, of young people, basically from urban lower middle class and popular class. Hundreds of thousand organized. They are those who started Tamarod. These young people are politicized, they discuss politics continuously. They do not accept following parties; they have no confidence in bourgeois parties, democratic parties or even socialist parties. They want to continue to be independent.
There are movements of women, two sorts of movements. One is the movement of urban educated women – doctors, teachers, lawyers, also lower middle class women employees, who are asking for changes of the law. (I mean the Islamic law called the sharia ). There are also movements of poor women who are very strong fighters and supporting the workers ,for instance during the strikes. There are many strikes, 5000 strikes in one year in Egypt. They organize to provide food to the strikers and protect them from police attacks and so on.
There are also important organizations of middle classes – engineers, lawyers, judges, employees of the state, etc. They have trade unions of their own. These trade unions are not on the left, not socialist, but they are democratic, against Muslim Brothers and against submission to the US. There are also some personalities like Mohamed ElBaradei, who are more or less democratic but pro-US, pro-capitalism, pro-neoliberalism, they don’t understand the link between economic liberalism and the social disaster leading to the loss of legitimacy of lack of democracy.
There are also some people of the old regime who joined movement. They felt the movement was so strong and had to move in. They are not really influential in the movement.
There are also the salafists. The salafists are as bad as Muslim Brothers, they were eliminated by the Muslim Brothers because Muslim Brothers wanted to have all the positions only to them. This is why the salafists also moved into the movement. They have some influence among some sections of the middle classes and among those very poor who have very little understanding of politics, particularly in the rural area. Not more than that.
To have the movement getting together with minimum common program, there are discussions among various partners, particularly with the organizations of the youth. There is a real need for a common program able to meet the immediate challenges; it is not a program for socialism, but a program to start moving out of the trap of neoliberalization by restoring the power of the state, and starting to move out of the stuck of the US, Israel, and Gulf countries and opening new relations with other partners, particularly with China, with Russia, with India, with South Africa, so that we can start having independent policies and therefore reducing the influence of the US, of Israel, and of the Gulf countries.
We can say the movement faces three tasks.
One is social justice; it is not socialism. It is a set of important reforms in the management of enterprises, ending privatizations, recapturing the enterprises which have been “sold out” at very low prices to private companies, establishing a new rule of minimum wages, a new rule of working conditions, a new rule of labor rights – strikes and so on, a new rule of participation of the working people with the management of the enterprises that they would have a say. These reforms are not socialism, but they are on the long road to socialism, they are socialist-minded. For the farmers, it includes the protection of the ownership of the land by small peasants. These demands are also very strongly supported by small and medium enterprise, the profit of which was pumped out by monopoly capital of foreign companies.
The second direction is the national question, the dignity. They want a government which represents Egypt with dignity. It means a government which is independent, not accepting the US orders, not standing with Israel’s repression of Palestinians, and independent from the Gulf countries who are allies of the US, they can’t be anything else. On that ground China has a big responsibility, It would be great if some people in China say frankly : we are with you and we are prepared if you ask it to help you solve your economic problems. Such a declaration would have a tremendous echo in Egypt. There are slogans on the streets of Cairo saying : we don’t need US aid, we can also get it from other countries. We don’t need US aid which is associated with corruption and political submission. This is called a national independent policy, in order to be able to develop a sovereign Egyptian project.
The third dimension is the democratic one. On that point, there are various views. There are people in favor of normal bourgeois pluri party elections. But there are many people who think that fast elections are not the answer to the challenge, democracy can’t mean just elections. Democracy implies the changes in attitudes, in changes in common relations of people in daily life. I think they are right. In Egypt, the young people consider democracy as the freedom of behaving in daily relations, particularly between boys and girls, men and women. Maybe, the majority of Egyptian people are believers in God, but they do not accept that because they are believers they should obey the orders of Muslim Brothers, forbidding them to have free lives. This is the way they understand democracy. We should have a popular parliament, which is not an “elected” parliament. It is a parliament which brings together people send by the organizations of the movement, by the trade unions, by the women organizations, by the youth organizations, by the various parties. This is the true parliament, more than a so-called elected parliament in which the distribution of representation is so unequal and biased.
You can call that not a socialist program, but a national, democratic, sovereign, and progressive program.
What role did the US play in the change?
The US supported Mubarak to the last minute. They also supported Morsi to the last minute; they continuously repeated ‘the elected president’. But when the leaders of the army took action to deposit Morsi, then the US accepted it, they understood. Of course they exercise strong pressure on the new government to continue neoliberal policy, submitting to IMF and the World Bank. But the people on the street shout the slogan, we don’t want IMF, we don’t want the World Bank. But there are pressures; those working with the management of finance are spontaneously conservative and pro neoliberalism. So there is a need for a struggle against them.
On one hand, we can say the US accepted and supported the army and the new government, but on the other hand, they tried to put pressure to bring back reactionary political Islam, not through the Muslim Brotherhood but through the salafist. This is the plan of the US, which is not to help Egypt out of the crisis, but to use the crisis to destroy more. Because Egypt is considered by them a dangerous country, it has a long past, it has been the first emerging country since the beginning of the 19th century, and one of the Third World important emerging country in the time of Nasser and Bandung, in line with China, the Soviet Union, and other countries of the third world. It played an important role in the liberation of all Africa. An independent Egypt with a sovereign, popular, progressive project would be a danger to the influence of the US, not only in Egypt, but in the Middle East, in Arab countries, and in all Africa. It will limit the expansion of Israel to Palestine. It will also put an end to the influence of the Gulf countries.
Egypt is now in another transition which is not peaceful; the clashes have costed dozens of lives. What do think of the bloodshed? What will be the future of the transition?
Of course it is not peaceful, but it’s not a civil war. The people are highly politicized, everybody is discussing politics on the street every day. People are active. Therefore different opinions appear, they discuss in some cases correctly and in other cases less correctly. But there is no danger of civil war because the common front is very wide.
The US is using another weapon in addition to economic and financial pressure. The US are supporting small armed groups operating as real terrorists. These groups are coming from Libya. Since Libya has been destroyed by the western military operation, Libya has become the base for all kinds of Jihadists. There are Jihadists with strong arms including missiles coming from the desert, this is the real danger.
Also in the Egyptian peninsula of Sinai small Jidahist groups supported by Israel and the Gulf countries are operating terrorist actions. This is made possible by the so called “peace agreement” between Egypt and Israel which puts a limit for the number of Egyptian soldiers stationed in Sinai : 700 to 2000, very small figure for this wide area.. On the 4th of July after Morsi was removed, I wrote a paper, the last sentence of which says now the danger is from imperialist US, Israel and Gulf, using criminal mercenaries, coming from Libya, and from the province of Sinai. This is what is happening now : terrorism , not “civil war”..