Egypt

After the Port Said incidents, the political crisis is beginning again

February 06, 2012

By Claudia Cinatti

Thursday, February 2, 2012

The violent incidents in Port Said after a soccer match were not another clash between supporters of two rival clubs, but something emerging from an unstable situation filled with profound social and political contradictions.

The day after one of the most violent days in recent years, that left a toll of 73 dead and hundreds of injured people, a crowd again seized the streets of Cairo to demand the end of the military government, which they blame for the disaster and accuse of having instigated the clashes. As the supporters of the club that was attacked allege, most of the dead are spectators, who were desperately trying to flee the stadium, but found the doors shut and were killed in the stampede. The scenarios are varied: from those who suspect the involvement of security forces in the incidents in order to justify, with the violence, the continuation of repressive measures, to those who claim that it was revenge by the police against the "ultras" – groups of soccer fans who acted in defense of Tahrir Square in various mobilizations confronting repression and had a prominent role in the so-called "battle of the camels," in which Mubarak’s gangs were defeated. But, regardless of how the actions were triggered, the fact is that, as in previous incidents like the orchestrated attack against the Coptic Christians last October, all signs point to the security forces.

The Muslim Brotherhood echoed the charges against officials of the regime and called an emergency session of Parliament to try to contain the situation.

The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, in anticipation of the popular response, decreed three days of mourning, accepted the resignation of the government of Port Said and detained a local security chief. However, these measures were not sufficient to prevent the outbreak of a new political crisis with an uncertain outcome.

A year after the mobilizations that ended with the fall of Mubarak, the Egyptian revolutionary process remains open. The legislative elections served as a certain detour after the intense protests in November. Because of the agreement with the Muslim Brotherhood and the backing of the United States and other imperialist powers, the military junta has remained in power and appointed one of its agents, al-Ganzuri, as Prime Minister. As a result of the elections, the two Islamist parties – the Freedom and Justice Party (Muslim Brotherhood) and the Al-Nour Party linked to Salafi Islam – became the main political forces in the country, with a parliamentary majority that hovers around 70% between them both. But this detour is far from having been consolidated. The Port Said incidents were not an outbreak of isolated violence. A few days earlier, a massive mobilization that was trying to reach Parliament to demand an end to military rule was confronted by a large strike force from the Muslim Brotherhood that tried to break up the protest by assaults. The mobilization called into question the legitimacy of Parliament and challenged the ability of the Muslim Brotherhood to act simultaneously as a reserve force and police of the military regime, against the most radical groups of youth and the workers. The profound contradictions that led to the outbreak of the revolutionary process are strongly rising again in demonstrations and strikes, as seen in the impressive protest on January 25 for the first anniversary of the beginning of the mobilizations, which brought together hundreds of thousands of people under the slogan "Down with the military regime."

The army, the local bourgeoisie, the parties that defend the capitalist state – whether liberal or Islamist, like the Muslim Brotherhood – and imperialism, seek to stabilize a "transition" to a regime of supervised bourgeois democracy, that will preserve the role of the military as a fundamental institution of the regime and will guarantee its economic and geopolitical interests, including the peace treaty with the State of Israel. After a year of struggle, the counter-revolutionary character of this plan is beginning to be obvious to groups of the advanced workers and youth who have come to the conclusion that these forces are expropriating their revolution and that they must confront them. In order to defeat them, it is necessary to forge a workers’ and popular alliance and prepare an insurrectionary general strike that will overthrow the military regime, with the perspective of setting up a government of workers and the people.