As revolution once more erupts in Egypt Yasser Abdullah from the Egyptian Libertarian Socialist Movement has explained what is going on in two interviews with Anarkismo.net. He outlines the origins of this latest phase of the revolution, of note is how a sit-in of just a few dozen a few days ago was the catalyist that has resulted in the mobilizations of hundreds of thousands. (Image: Lilian Wagdy)
Yasser looks at the relationship between the Islamists including the Muslim Brotherhood and the military council (SCAF) and how those defending the square on the 20th were the "the main revolutionary forces and the unorganised youth" and not the brotherhood. On the 20th Yasser concludes by saying "the people now realize that their power lies in a leaderless, collective movement."
By the 22nd Sharraf’s government is offering to resign and Yasser is outlining what the demands of the people are and that the Egyptian anarchist communist movement is using the slogan "All power to the people" and "calling for civil disobedience all over Egypt and for a general strike by the Egyptian workers."
1. What has been happening in Tahrir Square over the last couple of days? Who is protesting and what is the cause of the struggle?
A few days before Friday (18th November), a number of relatives of victims and martyrs of the Revolution started a sit-in in Tahrir demanding their rights. For ten months now, since Mubarak stepped down, none of those accused of killing and shooting people during the uprising have been sent to jail. Also, last July the SCAF (ie., the military junta) created a fund of 200 million Egyptian Pounds (about €25 million) called "the Fund for the Revolution's Casualties and Martyrs" in order to compensate them and their families, but this was nothing but propaganda: the SCAF and Sharaf's Government gave some of the victims jobs as garbage collectors, literally speaking, so the victims felt humiliated, that insult had been added to injury, so they started a sit-in for a respectable solution.
On Friday, a "Million People" march was also planned, calling for an end to military rule and the interim civil authority before April 2012. After the march, the sit-in continued, and another march broke, called by the Islamist parties - who are against the sit-in and are trying to do their best in order to win the next elections, scheduled for November 28th.
So the sit-in was left alone with just a few dozen people; on Saturday 19th, at 11.00 am the Central Security Forces (CS, civil police) started an attack on the sit-in. There were around 200 protesters, who fought back against the CS. After that, the CS started to use tear gas and drove their armoured car into the protestors, running some over. Then some other protesters joined them to defend Tahrir square, and that's how it all began. The CS attacked Tahrir, we fought them back, they took Tahrir for only half an hour, then we reclaimed it back and are occupying it - now, November 20th at 12.00 pm, there are ongoing clashes between protesters against both CS forces and Military police disguised as civil police.
2. The Muslim Brothers until recently had been allied with the transition authorities... Why are they now clashing with the police as reported by the international media?
After the referendum for the Constitutional Amendment on March 19th, the Muslim Brotherhood and all other Islamist forces, mainly the Salafis, allied themselves with the SCAF. On March 20th, a Salafi sheikh stated that the ballot box said "yes to Islam"... They did not see the referendum as being merely about amendments, but actually about Islam, whose spirit they saw reflected in people's opinions as they voted. They claimed that most voters were for them because they represented Islam, and acted as if it were a referendum on them.
From March onwards, the Islamists stood against any direct action against the SCAF, as they thought they would get into power at the next elections, so they had to compromise with the military junta... But now they feel that the SCAF has bluffed them, using their influence only to consolidate their own power. Actually, the junta and the Islamists are quarrelling brothers, they can shout in each other's faces but they will not really fight. The ongoing clashes have nothing to do with the Muslim Brotherhood or any other Islamist party, or even any other party whatever its denomination.
The majority of parties now are aiming at parliament not at revolution. Only one leftist coalition has announced they're thinking of boycotting the next elections - all the other parties are putting all of their main attention on the next elections and they have not joined the Tahrir occupation. Only the main revolutionary forces and the unorganised youth who are ready to fight back for their rights are in Tahrir now, in defence of the revolution. The political parties are all looking for compromise with the junta, trying to win the next elections, to take power by an agreement with the SCAF... So to say that the ongoing clashes are by the Muslim Brotherhood or any other organised political force is nothing more than a big lie circulated by the mainstream media.
3. Is there any potential for the popular movement in these protests? Do you think the military will consolidate its power or that there will be a renewed revolutionary wave?
The potential for the popular movement now is very high... On November 19th I felt as if we had been taken back to January 25th. The main chants now are "Down with military rule" and "People demand the removal of the regime". There have also been clashes in Alexandria and Suez. The casualties up to now (12 pm) are 1 dead in Cairo and 2 dead in Alexandria... Today there are plans for a day of action against the SCAF all over Egypt.
This action is not being planned by any of the political parties, a positive thing, for after ten months of revolution the people now realize that their power lies in a leaderless, collective movement. They're realising now that all the political parties are traitors, trying only to gain seats in parliament. I don't think the junta can consolidate its power... They're now in big trouble. On the one hand, their allies are demanding that they transfer their authority after the elections, and on the other hand, the protesters are in revolt on the streets, seeking to continue the revolution. I think the next few days will be a witness to all forms of action against the SCAF.
4. What is the real meaning of the fall of Sharraf’s government?
Sharraf has not fallen yet. He sent his resignation to the Military Junta (SCAF), but the SCAF has not accepted it yet… for me, but also for most of the revolutionaries in Tahrir Square , Sharraf is just the errand boy of the SCAF. If you revolt against the manager you don't care about the little errand boy… I think the SCAF just sent a test balloon to Tahrir, to see if we accept this or not.
Secondly, the SCAF is now trying to hide behind what they call the "National Rescue Government", demanded mainly by El Baradei and his front. For us, this so called "Government" would be worse than Sharraf's, for it would be nothing short of Fascist rule with velvet gloves.
Thirdly, all of those parties have escaped from Tahrir because they only care for their parliamentary seats and now they're trying to harvest what the people have sown.
5. What are the main demands of the people now?
The main demands now are:
the SCAF to step down;
the trial of the police criminals who shot all those martyrs, and who are still shooting at us.
6. What are the main demands of the anarchist communist movement?
We have released an urgent statement "All power to the people" calling for civil disobedience all over Egypt and for a general strike by the Egyptian workers. We think that the only solution is the anarchist one… we are now facing a classic revolutionary crossroads: the people demand their power, on the one hand, and the SCAF and all the political parties on other hand want to retain their power. The people have no trust in any party, but at the same time they don't want a military regime any more, so the only solution for the movement as we see it, is to form and strengthen people's councils all over the country, to rule it collectively from the bottom up.
7. What is the role of the international community? the USA and the EU say they support the democracy movement and Qatar and Saudi Arabia are trying to shift the Arab Spring into their direction as well, what do you think of this?
You can get a good grasp of the role of the international community by seeing their ammunition being shot in Tahrir at us. Over the last few days there have been tear gas bombs from the USA and birdshot from Italy in the EU being used against protesters. I think the international community will defend the Military Junta until its last breath… for them the SCAF and the Egyptian Military-Industrial compound is a good business opportunity for USAid, for their dirty military business, for the military black market, and at the same time, it represents the biggest Egyptian cartel.
As for the role of Qatar, you can watch Al Jazeera to find out its position… the next uprising shall not be a colour revolution or a FaceBook revolution they can adapt to. The next revolutionary wave is a genuine one, so Qatar and Al Jazeera are trying to hold the stick in the middle: get the people in Tahrir shot but not all of them… well, the clashes are not in the square itself, the clashes are in a side street called Mohammed Mahmoud Street. I think the next uprising could open up a phase of revolutionary potential for the whole world.
Long live Tahrir Square
Long live the Martyrs
Long live the Anarchist Revolution
Interview carried out for Anarkismo.net by José Antonio Gutiérrez D., see the original articles The Egyptian masses rise up again to complete their revolution! Testimony from an Egyptian anarchist and The Sharraf government resignation bluff will not stop the people's struggle in Egypt for additional background commentary from Jose who visited Egypt after the spring revolution and presented a talk at the 2011 Dublin anarchist bookfair on his experiences there. Articles also include additional images