Hail Massive People’s Upsurge Against US Puppet Dictatorships in North Africa and the Middle East
“Without beating around the bush or postponing or playing us for fools and without more false promises, we, the people of Egypt, demand all of our long forgotten rights to be granted and this time there is no turning back….we have learned our lesson….we have finally broken free of all fears.” - a pamphlet issued by protestors in Egypt.
We are currently witnessing a remarkable popular movement which has spread over northern Africa and the Middle East: puppet regimes and dictatorships backed by the United States are now facing an unprecedented political challenge, as the working classes in Tunisia, Egypt, Algeria, Jordon and Yemen take to the streets in huge numbers and oppose anti-people regimes and economic policies. Some political commentators in the Middle East have in fact called this remarkable movement a ‘political earthquake’.
In Egypt for instance, on 25th January, an estimated 50,000 people, predominantly young unemployed workers and students, defied the police dictatorship of President Hosni Mubarak, routinely described as a “staunch ally of the US,” to demand his resignation and the lifting of emergency rule. It is to be noted that the legislative elections held in Egypt on 28th November 2010 were blatantly rigged in favour of Mubarak and his allies. The widespread anger against this scuttling of a democratic process found fresh energy when a mass movement in Tunisia suceeded in overthrowing the Tunisian President, General Zine el Abidine Ben Ali and today, Tunisian flags fly all over Egypt in solidarity.
Such a massive uprising has not happened in Egypt since 1977, when Cairo’s Tahrir Square was occupied to protest price hikes mandated by the International Monetary Fund. This movement is continuing to spill out on Egypt’s streets despite the Hosni Mubarak regime’s savage police repression — people are braving tear gas, water cannons, rubber bullets, concussion grenades and truncheons every single day. The regime has also tried to quell the movement by shutting down internet services, a key organising tool of the protests.
The specific political and economic demands of the movement in Egypt include:
- salary and pension increases;
- financial aid for unemployed workers;
- canceling the law of emergency, empowering authorities to arrest people without warrants;
- demanding Mubarak’s ouster and his son, Gamal, prevented from succeeding him;
- dissolving Egypt’s fraudulently elected parliament;
- holding free democratic elections; and
- banning Egyptian exports to Israel, mainly its natural gas.
Recognising the strategic and geo-political importance of Egypt in its overall plans to maintain its dominance in the Middle East, the US is shamefully supporting Mubarak and his brutal crackdown on the protests. Egypt is the most populous and politically important of the Arab states and the recipient of tens of billions of dollars in US military aid. Egypt is also a key supporter of Israel in the US-Israel’s genocidal war against the Palestianian people.
At the same time, there are indications that the US and other imperialist forces are also trying to co-opt the opposition forces active in the movement. This remarkable ongoing mass movement in Tunisia and Egypt therefore has to ensure that not just the puppet rulers like Mubarak and Ben Ali, but the puppet-masters in the US, IMF and the World Bank are also decisively rebuffed. The real battle at stake is for these countries to ensure that their political and economic sovereignty is maintained, and protected against domination and manipulation by imperialist interests. Devastating neo-liberal policies, and the national missions of the IMF and the World Bank have to be kicked out: meaningful political change can only be ensured if the neoliberal economic policy agenda, and its domestic and foreign promoters are thrown out.
What we are witnessing in north Africa and Middle East has repercussions and lessons for the progressive and democratic movement all over the world. It is time we join the struggling masses in these countries in solidarity with their ongoing battle against authoritarian regimes and neo-liberal policies.