Monday, June 4, 2012

16 Months After the Fall of Mubarak... Here Comes the Counter-Revolution

Two betrayals of the revolution have sent the message that the forces of Egypt's old guard, the military and Mubarak loyalists, are about ready to close in on the forces of the revolution.

The first was the advancement of Ahmed Shafiq to the second round of the presidential election. Shafiq is a former Commander of the Air Force, a post held by both of Egypt's last presidents, Sadat and Mubarak. If this doesn't tell you enough about Shafiq's ties to the military and the old regime, remember that this is the same man who was Mubarak's last Prime Minister, installed as part of a reformist facade during the days of the Revolution. Now, he has abandoned nearly all pretenses of being reformist, stating that he will restore order and end the protests within 24 hours of taking office should he be elected. In short, he will initiate a massive crackdown on dissent that might resemble the Mubarak's backlash to the Revolution while he was still in power, the infamous "Battle of the Camel." In fact, there is reason to believe that Shafiq was personally involved in planning this attack. That Shafiq was permitted to enter the contest is an outrage, considering that Mubarak and his top aids faced the courts for similar crimes. Even without considering his involvement in this attack, the parliament passed a law banning all former Mubarak officials from running for office, a law that the Supreme Council of Armed Forces upheld and enforced by banning Omar Suleiman, Mubarak's last Vice-President, from campaigning for president. If Shafik wins the second round of the vote June 16-17, it will be the biggest defeat that the revolution has yet seen. Essentially, it will be a re-installment of the old order. The only man standing in the way of Shafiq in his quest for power is Mohhamad Morsi, the presidential candidate of the Freedom and Justice Party, the political wing of the Muslim Brotherhood. Morsi is by no means a revolutionary, and represents the conservative wing of the Brotherhood. However, many members of the Brotherhood's rank-and-file are decidedly more revolutionary and a Morsi victory would keep a door open to the leftist revolutionary organizing, whereas a Shafiq victory would slam that door shut. This was the essential reason why leftist organizations such as the Revolutionary Socialists endorsed Morsi in the 2nd round. They also strongly defended themselves against socialists in the U.S. who felt the RS's were falling into the trap of "lesser evil-ism," explaining that the situation is considerably different in Egypt, where there is the possibility of an authoritarian state being re-imposed than in America, which has a fairly stable democracy.

The second betrayal of the revolution is the continuing possibility that Hosni Mubarak and top aides will get no more than a slap on the wrist for three decades of repression, torture, and killings. Mubarak himself was given a life sentence, although that is subject to appeal. From the very beginning of Mubarak's trial, some saw the selective and flimsy charges as designed to crumble under the scrutiny of an appeal. The possibility that the appeal will significantly lessen Mubarak's sentence has inspired thousands of Egyptians to once again take to Tahrir Square.  Even if Mubarak's fate will indeed be life in prison, there is the possibility that the State has decided to "Sacrifice Mubarak to Save His Regime," as an article today in Counterpunch Newsletter suggested, meaning that Mubarak may be imprisoned in order to appease the protesters, while the State takes other measures to undermine the Revolution.

The situation may seem bleak, but the very presence of these ongoing protests leads one to believe that the revolutionary movement is very much alive. Whether or not it can defend against the onslaught of the forces of the old regime, the military, and the combined force of the Counter-revolution will be its great test in the coming days. 

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