Summer of Imperialism in Middle East, North Africa

MENA_map

Lucien Gauthier

(reprinted from Informations Ouvrières No. 264, the weekly newspaper of the Independent Workers Party of France)

In the middle of August, the violence but also the “negotiations” have increased across the Middle East and in the Maghreb.

More than two years after the fall of Mubarak in Egypt and Ben Ali in Tunisia, the situation in these two regions, far from being “stabilized,” as U.S. imperialism would like it, is witnessing ever-increasing contradictions.

EGYPT
Mobilizations by millions upon millions of workers, youth, and people as a whole led to the fall of President Morsi. Many political forces of the Egyptian opposition have carefully avoided saying that the regime in Egypt was not made up solely by the Muslim Brotherhood, but was formed by a coalition of this current with the Egyptian Army.

In the face of these latest revolutionary developments, the top military brass, in conjunction with the U.S. administration, ousted Morsi to preserve the regime.

For decades, it has been the highest echelons of the Army that in fact run the country and constitute its main political, economic and legal force.

In this situation, part of the population that does not want a return to military rule continues to mobilize to demand the return of President Morsi.

Faced with the risk of an all-out explosive situation, the U.S. administration is pushing with all its weight for the Muslim Brotherhood to be reinstated in the Egyptian government via the formation of a government of national unity in Egypt. This country is indeed one of the pillars of imperialist domination in the Middle East. An explosion of Egypt could lead to a general explosion in the Middle East, already marked by a major drift toward its dislocation.

IN IRAQ AND SYRIA
“The Islamic State in Iraq,” that is to say, the Iraqi branch of al-Qaeda, claimed responsibility for the wave of attacks that left dozens dead during the holiday of Aïd, which marks the end of Ramadan.

Le Monde (August 13) said that the Iraqi branch of al-Qaeda has now extended its influence in Syria. The newspaper notes that the organization “imposes its methods wherever it goes: decapitation of Alawites, anti-Christian violence and even attacks on Sunni forces considered too luke-warm. This was the case in Rakka, where the Islamic State in Iraq eventually ousted all other rebel forces through abductions and assassinations.”

NEGOTIATIONS BETWEEN THE STATE OF ISRAEL AND THE PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY
Given all these developments, the U.S. administration has thrown all its weight to force the leaders of the State of Israel to reopen negotiations with the “Palestinian Authority.” This has caused profound contradictions in the government of the State of Israel, as major sectors of the state apparatus oppose any negotiations and in fact are pushing for greater confrontations with the Palestinians.

On the Palestinian side, the participation of leaders of the Palestinian Authority in the pseudo-negotiations has not met with the approval of the masses of Palestinians, who know from experience that nothing positive will come of these “negotiations” for the Palestinian people.

IN TUNISIA
The assassination of Member of Parliament Brahmi, after that of Choukri Belaïd, both leaders of the Popular Front, led to a new wave of mass protests. The international press has presented these developments in Tunisia as an opposition between the Islamist government and a secular opposition. Some groups in Tunisia have done the same. Many articles have sought to draw a parallel with the situation in Egypt.

But the reality is different. The revolutionary mobilizations in Tunisia, framed and structured by the UGTT trade union federation, not only resulted in throwing out Ben Ali, but also led to the liquidation of large parts of the Ben Ali regime — unlike what happened in Egypt, where the army remained in power and preserved the regime.

Thus the mobilization of the people in Tunisia led to the convening of a Constituent Assembly. But the combination of the actions taken by many political parties, all supported by the Major Powers, distorted and gutted the content of these elections, prohibiting de facto the election of a true Constituent Assembly. What resulted was a parliamentary election that led to the formation of a government that brought together the Islamic Party, Ennadha, and two secular parties, one on the right, the Congress for the Republic, and the other on the left, Ettakatol.

The result of this agreement was as follows: the appointed President of the Republic, Marzouki, is a leader of the Congress of the Republic; the Prime Minister comes from Ennadha; and the President of the Constituent Assembly is a leader representing Ettakatol.

Why do they all hide this fact? Precisely because this national coalition agreement has not only preserved the broad policy directives of the Ben Ali government, but has even accelerated them. This coalition government not only did not oppose, let alone challenge, the Association Agreement with the European Union, a “free trade” agreement with the EU, but has gone a step further by signing a special partnership with it.

The coalition government has accepted all the conditions put forward by the IMF and the U.S. administration. And yet it was precisely these agreements that laid the basis for the destruction of the Tunisian economy and that caused the revolutionary uprising in Tunisia two and a half years ago, raising the demand of “Bread and Water — Not Ben Ali” .

Faced with the mobilizations in Tunisia, the Major Powers and some of their relays in Tunisia seek to lay the groundwork for a broader coalition government, including other political forces now in opposition. Thus the President of the Constituent Assembly announced that his work would be put on hold as a gesture toward the opposition. At the same time, he asked the UGTT trade union federation to assume its “historic role by sponsoring talks between the government and the opposition.”

According to the Agence France-Presse (AFP), “after more than four hours of negotiations, Ghannouchi, the leaders of the Islamic party Ennadha, and Abassi, the leader of the powerful UGTT union federation, announced that they had made no progress that could lead to a solution to the crisis caused by the assassination of Member of Parliament Brahmi …. The UGTT had found itself placed reluctantly in the role of mediator between the opposition and Ennadha. ”

One question is carefully hidden by the international media, and that is the fact that the sovereignty of the Tunisian people can only be guaranteed by severing the ties of subordination to imperialism. This is valid in Tunisia, but also in Egypt and elsewhere.

Egypt Coup: Blood-Soaked Military Ousts Reactionary Morsi

Workers Vanguard

Five days after ousting the reactionary government of Mohamed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood, the Egyptian military has gunned down more than 50 Morsi supporters outside a Republican Guard officers club in Cairo, where the Islamist leader is believed to be held. With this massacre, the military has sent a message: what they’re doing to Brotherhood supporters today they are prepared to do tomorrow to anyone standing in the way of order.

The July 3 coup took place after days of massive protests around the country demanding the resignation of Morsi, whose year in power was marked by the continuing collapse of the economy, mounting shortages of fuel and other necessities and heavy-handed attempts to reinforce Islamic legal and social strictures. News of the coup and Morsi’s arrest was cheered by hundreds of thousands who had gathered in Cairo’s Tahrir Square. Military helicopters and jet fighters flew overhead, driving home the generals’ message that they are the “defenders of the nation” and the ultimate arbiters of who will rule. In nightly clashes between pro- and anti-Morsi forces, scores died on both sides. Now, after today’s bloodbath, the Muslim Brotherhood has called to extend its protests into a national uprising.

As Marxists, we are just as adamantly opposed to the coup as we are to government by the Islamists. Many of the bourgeois-nationalist and liberal-reformist organizations that helped kick off the anti-Morsi protests whitewash the coup, which the military warned of well ahead of time, by claiming that the masses in the street are determining events. The opportunist Revolutionary Socialists, who a year ago called for a vote to Morsi, now chime in with talk of a “second revolution.” The masses that rose up two years ago against the hated bonapartist regime of Hosni Mubarak sought a fundamental change to their conditions of poverty, brutal oppression and absence of democratic rights. Mubarak was ousted. But what the working people and the oppressed got was not a revolution but a new political face on the same system of capitalist oppression—first under the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), then the elected Morsi presidency and now back to direct military rule. As we wrote following the 2011 ouster of the Mubarak regime:

“We Marxists reject this bankrupt reformist framework, which posits that the only two ‘choices’ for the working class in Egypt are to capitulate either to the ‘secular,’ military-backed bourgeois nationalist regime or to political Islam. In fact, these are alternative ways of propping up capitalist class rule, the system that ensures vast wealth for its rulers and dire poverty for the urban and rural masses. We look instead to the revolutionary mobilization of Egypt’s proletariat, standing at the head of all the oppressed, in a fight for socialist revolution, which alone can address the fundamental problems facing the masses.”

—“Pandering to Reactionary Muslim Brotherhood” (WV No. 974, 18 February 2011)

The same armed forces that have been cheered in Tahrir Square rounded up thousands of protesters in 2011, subjecting many to electric shock and other brutal tortures. Tahrir Square’s “Street of the Eyes of Freedom” got its moniker after security forces, in a cruel and calculated attack, fired directly into the faces of protesters rallying against SCAF rule. During the Maspero massacre of 9 October 2011, armored military vehicles, in concert with the police and Islamists, mowed down dozens of Coptic Christians protesting the burning of homes and churches. Women protesters detained by the army were subjected to humiliating “virginity tests.” Now large numbers of women demonstrators are again being gang-raped and otherwise assaulted under the eyes of the security forces.

Not surprisingly, during the coup U.S. officials were on the phone constantly with their Egyptian counterparts. The Egyptian military is dependent on the $1.3 billion in aid that it receives annually from Washington. General Abdul Fattah el-Sisi, the central figure in the coup (and Morsi’s Defense Minister), was trained at the U.S. Army War College and has close relations with American military tops. Washington also made clear to Morsi that his time was up. Using a common reference to the U.S., a Morsi aide texted to an associate shortly before the coup, “Mother just told us that we will stop playing in one hour.”

The military—the backbone of all of Egypt’s bourgeois regimes, along with the police—has stepped in to put a stop to social turmoil in order to halt the economic collapse, which has affected all but the wealthiest layers of Egyptian society. Government debt has increased by $10 billion in the last two years and the country’s foreign currency reserves are rapidly being exhausted. The vital tourist industry has all but collapsed since the initial protests in 2011. The value of the Egyptian pound has plummeted over the past year, while food prices have skyrocketed. Youth unemployment is almost 80 percent.

In the eyes of the capitalists, the only policy to address such a crisis is by taking it out of the hides of working people. While breaking strikes, Morsi’s government began to introduce vicious austerity measures against the poor to fulfill the conditions of an IMF loan. The working class can expect nothing less from the SCAF, which has a long, bloody record of repressing labor struggle and political dissent. To this end, the generals are turning once again to veterans of the Mubarak regime. Adli Mansour, a former crony of Mubarak, was named to replace Morsi. Other Mubarak appointees from the so-called “Deep State” have also stepped to the fore to resume governing.

A key task for revolutionary Marxists is combating the widespread nationalist ideology that is evident among the protesters waving Egyptian flags and embracing the army, and even police, as their allies. Anti-Morsi crowds chanted, “The people and the police are one hand” while battling Brotherhood supporters last week. Even the New York Times (6 July) called it “a curious sight since the police had been widely detested for killing protesters during the anti-Mubarak uprising.” Particularly among the petty bourgeoisie, there is a sentiment to get cops back on the street in the service of “law and order.”

Illusions in the army run particularly deep in Egypt, where officers led by Gamal Abdel Nasser overthrew the British-backed monarchy in 1952. Nasser’s pretensions to “Arab socialism” notwithstanding, his regime tortured, killed and disappeared hundreds of opponents, including workers and Communists. He was also adept at co-opting Communists and others who pledged allegiance.

During the “Arab Spring” uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt in 2011, we pointed to the working class, whose strikes played a major role in bringing down both despotic regimes, as the potential gravedigger of the bourgeois order. We underlined the urgent need for the proletariat to act as the defender of all the oppressed layers of society, including women, Copts and impoverished peasants. The working class continues to wage economic struggles, as in April when a national train drivers strike paralyzed Egypt’s train service for days. However, politically the proletariat remains subordinated to bourgeois forces.

There will be no end to the exploitation of working people, no emancipation of women or liberation of the peasant masses, short of a proletarian revolution that sweeps away the bourgeois state, expropriates the capitalists as a class and proceeds to establish a collectivized economy. There is no nationally limited road to the emancipation of the workers and the oppressed. The powerful Egyptian proletariat can be a leading force in the struggle for a socialist federation of the Near East, part of the fight for proletarian revolution internationally, crucially including the imperialist centers. To bring this perspective to the working class requires the construction of a Leninist vanguard party, which will be forged in political combat against the reformists, liberals and others who seek to subordinate the working class to the imperialists, nationalists and forces of Islamic reaction.

How Egypt Killed Political Islam

Shamus Cooke

The rebirth of the Egyptian revolution ushered in the death of the first Muslim Brotherhood government. But some near-sighted analysts limit the events of Egypt to a military coup. Yes, the military is desperately trying to stay relevant — given the enormous initiative of the Egyptian masses — but the generals realize their own limitations in this context better than anybody. This wasn’t a mere re-shuffling at the top of society, but a flood from the bottom.

In reality the Egyptian people had already destroyed the Morsi regime (for example government buildings had already been occupied or shut down by the people), which is why the generals intervened — the same reason they intervened against Mubarak: better to try to lead than be led by the people. But the people remain in the driver’s seat, no matter what “national salvation government” the generals try to cobble together to retain legitimacy before the Egyptian people.

Political legitimacy — especially in times of revolution — must be earned, not assumed. Revolutionary legitimacy comes from taking bold actions to satisfy the political demands of the people: jobs, housing, public services, etc. A “democracy” that represents only Egypt’s upper crust as the Muslim Brotherhood government did, cannot emerge from a revolution and maintain itself; it was destroyed by a higher form of revolutionary democracy.

The brief, uninspiring reign of the first Muslim Brotherhood government will alter the course of Middle East history, whose modern chapter was formed, in part, by the rise of the Brotherhood. The Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood has done the Middle East a profound favor by exposing its political and economic ideology for what it is: pro-western/capitalist economic policies that serve the IMF-dominated big banks, while preventing any real measures to address Egypt’s jobs crisis and massive inequality — itself born from previous neo-liberal privatization policies.

What did the Brotherhood do with the corrupt state they inherited? They tried to adapt; they flirted with the Egyptian military, coddled up to the security services, and seduced the dictatorship’s primary backer, the United States. They shielded all the Mubarak criminals from facing justice.

The Brotherhood’s foreign policy was also the same as Mubarak’s, favoring Israel at the expense of the Palestinians, and favoring the U.S.-backed Syrian rebels against the Syrian government, while increasingly adopting an anti-Iran agenda. A primary financial backer of the Muslim Brotherhood government was the oil-rich monarchy of Qatar (a U.S. puppet government), who helped steer the foreign policy of the Egyptian government.

The Muslim Brotherhood followed the same policies as the dictatorship because they serve the same elite interests. Consequently, political Islam will no longer be a goal for millions across the Middle East, who will opt for a new politics that will serve the real needs of the people of the region.

Political Islam outside of Egypt is also being rapidly discredited across the Middle East. In Turkey the mass protests that erupted were, in part, a reaction by the youth in Turkey to the conservative political and free-market economic policies of the Islam-oriented government.

The people of Iran recently chose the most religiously moderate of candidates to represent them, whose electoral campaign sparked an emerging mass movement.

The Syrian Muslim Brotherhood has allowed itself to become a pawn of U.S. foreign policy against the Syrian government, participating in a U.S.-organized “transition government” that will take power, in theory, after the U.S.-backed rebels destroy the Syrian government. The Syrian government’s battlefield victories and the new Egyptian revolution will further set back the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood.

Political Islam was already stained by the disgraceful monarchies of the Middle East. The especially corrupt and decrepit dictatorship of Saudi Arabia has thoroughly exploited Islam, where a fundamentalist version of Sharia law is reserved for the Saudi masses, while the Saudi monarchy partakes in any kind of illegal or immoral behavior it wants. Saudi Arabia’s only source of political legitimacy is its self-portrayal as the “protector of Islam” — since the holiest Islamic cities are in Saudi Arabia. But the Ottoman Empire that was destroyed in WWI also based its legitimacy on being the “defender of Islam” — both exploited Islam for political and financial power.

Of course, Islam is not the only religion that is exploited by elites. The ruling class of Israel defiles Judaism by using it to legitimize the state’s racist and expansionist policies. A nation-state based on religion — like Israel — implies that the non-religious minority be treated as second class citizens, while also implying that the “most devout,” i.e. most conservative religious groups, gain greater influence and are granted greater privileges by the state.

The same is true in the United States for the Republican Party — and increasingly the Democrats — who base much of their legitimacy on a fundamentalist version of Christianity, the inevitable result of which discriminates against non-Christians, though especially Muslims. Republicans increasingly rely on whipping up their fundamentalist Christian base against immigrants, Muslims, and homosexuals, allowing them the cover to pursue a pro-corporate and militarist foreign policy.

In the Middle East the modern history of political Islam was birthed by the Western powers after WWII, who installed and supported monarchies across the Middle East to maintain cheap oil and subservient governments; these monarchies use a fundamentalist version of Islam as their primary source of legitimacy.

This Islamic-exploitative policy was extended to fight the rise of the powerful pan-Arab socialist governments that favored a Soviet-style publicly-owned economy, first initiated by the still-beloved Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser. Retired CIA agent Robert Baer discusses this pro-Islamic/anti-Soviet dynamic in his excellent book, Sleeping With the Devil, How Washington Sold Our Soul For Saudi Crude.

When Arab countries — like Syria, Iraq, Libya, Tunisia, etc. — followed Egypt’s example in the 1960’s and later took action against the rich and western corporations, the U.S. and Saudi Arabia relied ever more strongly on the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamic extremists to destabilize these nations or steer their politics to the right.

When the Muslim Brotherhood tried to assassinate Egypt’s Nasser, he used the military and state repression to destroy the organization, whose members then fled to Syria and Saudi Arabia. Then the Brotherhood tried to assassinate Syrian President Hafez al-Assad — Bashar al-Assad’s father — who followed Nasser’s example and physically destroyed the organization. Libya’s Gaddafi and Tunisia’s Bourguiba — both popular Presidents for years — likewise took aggressive action against the Brotherhood’s own aggressive, reactionary tactics, which remained protected and nurtured by U.S.-backed Saudi Arabia.

This policy of using radical Islamists against Soviet-allied states was extended further when the U.S. and Saudi Arabia funded, armed, and trained the groups later known as al-Qaida and the Taliban against the Soviet-allied Afghanistan government. After this “success” the same policy was applied to Yugoslavia, where the radical Islamists, known as the Kosovo Liberation Army, were funded and supported by Saudi Arabia and the U.S. as they targeted the Soviet-inspired Yugoslavia government. Now, the Saudi-backed radical Islamists are being employed against the Syrian government.

With the fall of the Soviet Union, the semi-socialist Arab nations that depended on it for trade and support found themselves economically and politically isolated, and consequently shifted their economies towards western capitalist policies seeking injections of capital (foreign investment) and new avenues for trade.

This transition required neo-liberal policies — especially widespread privatization schemes — that created vast inequality and unemployment, and eventually became the main economic causes of the revolutionary movements now known as the Arab Spring. Ironically, to combat their flagging popularity, these regimes lessened restrictions on the Islamic parties as a way to funnel energy away from economic demands, while also acting as a counterbalance to the political left.

The Arab Spring toppled dictatorships [Crimson Satellite note: Libya was not a dictatorship, but a direct democracy] but didn’t provide an organized political alternative. The Muslim Brotherhood was sucked into this vacuum, and was quickly spit out as a viable political alternative for the demands of a revolutionary Egypt and the broader Middle East.

And although the Egyptian military again holds the reins of institutional power in Egypt, it understands the people’s distrust of the post-Mubarak military, and is thus limited in its ability to act, since mass repression would further inflame the revolution and possibly fracture the army — the same way it did when former President Nasser rose to power in a junior officer’s leftist coup (a similar type of coup was attempted and failed by Hugo Chavez before he was elected president).

Ultimately, the Muslim Brotherhood and other similar Islamic political organizations are not a natural expression of the religious attitudes of people in the Middle East, but instead an unnatural political creation that serves a specific geo-political agenda, specifically that of the United States, Israel, and Saudi Arabia.

The Egyptian people have now had the experience of political Islam and have discarded it, in the same way a tank deals with a speed bump. Now new policies must be sought based on a different political-economic ideology, until one is found that will represent the actual needs of the people.

Until the Egyptian masses discover and organize around a platform that serves the people’s needs, a series of other governments will be constructed in an attempt to keep Egypt’s elites — and their western foreign backers — in place. These governments will be likewise tossed aside until one emerges that represents the needs of the people.

There is a valid fear that the Muslim Brotherhood will choose to take up arms in Egypt in the same way that the Algerian Islamists triggered a civil war when the military annulled the elections they had won. The Brotherhood may say, “We tried elections and the results were denied to us.”

But revolution is the greatest expression of democracy, and only by extending the revolution can a potential civil war between the Brotherhood and the military be averted. The power of both groups can be undercut by a revolutionary movement that fights for improving the living conditions — with concrete demands — of the majority of Egyptians. The lower ranks of both the army and the Muslim Brotherhood will sympathize with such a movement, allowing for a new direction for the country.

Many revolutionaries in Egypt have learned a thousand political lessons in a few short years; they will not easily allow the army to usurp their power. The Egyptian revolution is the most powerful revolution in decades and has already re-shaped the Middle East. It will continue to do so until the people’s needs are met.

Shamus Cooke is a social service worker, trade unionist, and writer for Workers Action (www.workerscompass.org). He can be reached at shamuscooke@gmail.com

Unmasking the Muslim Brotherhood: Syria, Egypt & Beyond

Down with secularism: Muslim Brotherhood backed leaders Mohammed Morsi and Recep Erdogan have been among the most vocal supporters of regime change in Syria, and the ultra-sectarian Brotherhood stands most to gain from the fall of the Ba'athist government.

Down with secularism: Muslim Brotherhood backed leaders Mohammed Morsi and Recep Erdogan have been among the most vocal supporters of regime change in Syria, and the ultra-sectarian Brotherhood stands most to gain from the fall of the Ba’athist Assad government.

Editor’s Note: The author refers to the “complexities” of the so-called “Arab Spring” and the promise of “revolution.” There were no complexities: the individuals who led efforts to destabilize North African and Middle Eastern governments in 2011 had been collaborating with the US to bring about the ‘spontaneous’ unrest since at least 2007.

Eric Draitser

01 January, 2013
StopImperialism.com

The complexities of the Arab Spring and the struggle for political freedom throughout the Arab world should not obscure what has now become an absolutely essential understanding for all anti-imperialists: the Muslim Brotherhood is one of the most powerful weapons of the Western ruling class in the Muslim world.

While that may be a difficult pill for some to swallow for emotional or psychological reasons, one need look no further than the insidious role the organization is playing in Syria and the abuses of power and human rights of the government of Egypt. In the US-NATO sponsored war against the Assad government, the Muslim Brotherhood has emerged as the leading western-sanctioned force, the avant-garde of the imperialist assault. While, in Egypt, President Morsi and the Brotherhood government seek to destroy what had been, little more than a year ago, the promise of the revolution.

Muslim Brotherhood in Syria

[The recent] establishment of the Supreme Military Command, in charge of all military aid and coordination to the rebels, demonstrates unequivocally the leadership role of the Muslim Brotherhood in the drive for regime change in Syria. As Reuters reported, “The unified command includes many with ties to the Muslim Brotherhood and to Salafists…it excludes the most senior officers who have defected from Assad’s military.”[1] This command structure, formed at the behest and under the sponsorship of the US, UK, France, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey among others, does not simply include members of the Muslim Brotherhood, it is, in fact, dominated by them. Is it possible that the Western imperial powers simply did not notice that the group they were forming was comprised of these elements? To suggest so would be to accuse some of the leading “statesmen” of the world (Hillary Clinton, William Hague, Laurent Fabius, Ahmet Davutoglu, etc.) of being stupid.

Alas, they are not so. Instead, these individuals have collaborated to create a Muslim Brotherhood proxy force in Syria, one that can be controlled and depended on to do the bidding of the West.

However, it is not enough to say that the Muslim Brotherhood is heading this new military structure, for that would be to imply that they have not been playing a critical role all along.

Rather, the organization has been central to the destabilization of Syria since the beginning of the armed conflict. The Syrian National Council, originally the face of the Western-backed “opposition” was itself dominated behind the scenes by the Muslim Brotherhood. As former Muslim Brotherhood leader Ali Sadreddine stated regarding the SNC, “We chose this face, accepted by the West…We nominated [former SNC head Burhan] Ghalioun as a front for national action. We are not moving now as the Brotherhood but as part of a front that includes all currents.”[2] Essentially then, we see that the organization has, from the very beginning, maintained a large degree of control of the foreign-based opposition, as distinctly different from the indigenous opposition of the National Coordinating Councils and other groups. The Muslim Brotherhood, an international political and paramilitary machine, has come to lead the battle against Assad government.

In fact, the Muslim Brotherhood has provided many forms of leadership and assistance to the foreign-based, foreign-backed opposition beyond simply direct leadership. From providing diplomatic and political cover, to on-the-ground tactical support such as weapons smuggling, fighter recruitment, and other necessary responsibilities, the organization has come to permeate every aspect of what we in the West conveniently refer to as the “rebels”.

As early as May 2012, the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, the center of the organization, was already providing the political and diplomatic support the rebels needed to topple the Assad regime. As they were poised to win the Egyptian elections, the Brotherhood was busy making public comments about the need for Western military intervention in Syria. The organization’s spokesman, Mahmoud Ghozlan stated, “The Muslim Brotherhood calls on Arab, Islamic, and international governments to intervene…to bring down the [Assad] regime.”[3] This brazen public statement flies in the face of all arguments which claim that the Muslim Brotherhood is somehow anti-imperialist, that they stand in opposition to Western dominance of the Arab world. On the contrary, though they may posture themselves as opposing the West, they are, in fact, tools of the imperial powers used to destroy independent nations which stand in opposition to US hegemony in the Middle East.

This political and diplomatic backing is merely one aspect of the Brotherhood’s involvement in the destruction of Syria. As the New York Times reported in June of 2012, “CIA officers are operating secretly in Southern Turkey helping allies decide which Syrian opposition fighters across the border will receive arms…by way of a shadowy network of intermediaries including Syria’s Muslim Brotherhood.”[4] The use of the Muslim Brotherhood to smuggle arms to the rebels in Syria should come as no surprise considering the fact that it is the Sunni monarchies of the region (Saudi Arabia and Qatar primarily) who have been the most vociferous voices championing regime change in Syria by any means necessary. The relationship between these monarchies and the Muslim Brotherhood is self-evident: they share similar religious convictions and are avowed enemies of all forms of Shiism. Moreover, they have been part and parcel of the system of US hegemony that has kept the entire region under its vice grip for decades.

Many have argued in the past that, though they share identical ideologies and “brand”, the Syrian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood is somehow independent of the Muslim Brotherhood proper. This preposterous claim is countered by the simple fact that every public position the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood has taken has been in direct alignment with the public statements from Cairo. As the Carnegie Middle East Center’s article The Muslim Brotherhood in Syria, since the beginning of the revolution, has maintained that foreign intervention is the only possible solution to the crisis in Syria. In October 2011, it also called on Turkey to intervene and establish protected humanitarian zones in Turkish territory.”[5] When two entities bear the same name, have the same sponsors, and take the same positions, it is an exercise in willful ignorance to argue that they are somehow not the same entity or, as is more accurate, taking orders from the same masters. But who are these masters?

The powers behind the Muslim Brotherhood

In examining the utterly insidious role that the Muslim Brotherhood is playing in Syria, one must begin with an understanding of the historical relationship between the Muslim Brotherhood and Western imperialism. The organization was founded by Hassan al-Banna in 1928 with the intention of reestablishing a purer form of Islam as had existed centuries before. However, this was merely the religious veneer that was created to mask the political intentions of the organization. As explained in the Mother Jones article entitled What is the Muslim Brotherhood and Will It Take Over Egypt?, the author explains that, “The Muslim Brotherhood served as a battering ram against nationalists and communists, despite the Brothers’ Islam-based anti-imperialism, the group often ended up making common cause with the colonial British. It functioned as an intelligence agency, infiltrating left-wing and nationalist groups.”[6] This indisputable fact, that the Muslim Brotherhood functioned, even its early days, as a de facto arm of Western intelligence, is critical to understanding its development and current political power.

However, there are those who argue that, despite this “coincidence” of objectives and agendas, the Muslim Brotherhood could never be tied directly to the intelligence community. However, as Robert Dreyfuss, author of the Mother Jones article clearly points out, there is ample evidence tying the leadership of the Muslim Brotherhood directly to the CIA:

By then [1954], the group’s chief international organizer and best-known official was Said Ramadan, the son-in-law of Hassan al-Banna. Ramadan had come to the attention of both the CIA and MI-6, the British intelligence service. In researching my book … I came across an unusual photograph that showed Ramadan with President Eisenhower in the Oval Office. By then, or soon after, Ramadan had likely been recruited as a CIA agent. Wall Street Journal reporter Ian Johnson has since documented the close ties between Ramadan and various Western intelligence services … Johnson writes: ‘By the end of the decade, the CIA was overtly backing Ramadan.'”[7]

The fact that the central figure in the international organization was a known CIA agent corroborates the assertions made by countless analysts and investigators that the Brotherhood was used as a weapon against Nasser and, in fact, all Arab socialist leaders who at that time were part of a rising tide of Arab nationalism which sought, as its ultimate goal, independence from Western imperial domination.

In order to fully grasp just how the Brotherhood developed into the organization we know today, one must understand the relationship between it and the royal family of Saudi Arabia. In fact, the Saudis have been the key financiers of the Brotherhood for decades for the same reasons that the United States and the Western powers needed them: opposition to Arab nationalism and the growing “insolence” of Shiite states.

Dreyfuss writes, “From its early days, the Brotherhood was financed generously by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, which appreciated its ultra-conservative politics and its virulent hatred of Arab communists.”[8] Essentially, as the United States began to exert its post-war might throughout the region, the Muslim Brotherhood was there to be a willing beneficiary and humble servant sowing the seeds of hatred between Sunni and Shia, espousing a hate-filled Salafist ideology that preached conflict and inescapable war between the branches of Islam. Naturally, all to the benefit of Western powers who cared little for the ideology and more about the money and resources.

A tool of the Western Powers today?

It is often argued that, though the historical record unequivocally shows the Brotherhood as intimately connected to Western intelligence, somehow the organization has changed, that it has become a peaceful force for political progress in the Arab world. As recent events in Egypt have shown, nothing could be further from the truth. With the undemocratic attempted power grab by Egyptian President Morsi, the scaling back of civil liberties, the rights of women, and religious and ethnic minorities, the Muslim Brotherhood has shown itself to be little more than a reactionary political force parading itself as a form of “progress”.

If one had any doubts as to the true intentions and motivations of the Muslim Brotherhood once in power in Egypt, one needed look no further than its position on the institutions of global finance capital, particularly the International Monetary Fund. In one of the first decisions taken by Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood government, Cairo established that it would, in fact, welcome conditional loans from the IMF[9] to rescue itself from the prospect of a continued economic crisis.

However, as part of the conditions of the loan, Morsi’s government would have to drastically reduce subsidies, regulations, and other “market restrictions” while increasing taxes on the middle class. Essentially, this meant that the Brotherhood consented to the usual cocktail of austerity medicine that had been administered by the agents of finance capital so many times all over the world. This, naturally, begged the question: Was this the end of the revolution?

Indeed, many in the streets of Cairo are asking themselves this same question. Or, to put it more accurately, they already know the answer.

In Egypt, as in Syria, the Muslim Brotherhood has made itself into an appendage of the Western imperialist ruling class. It has dutifully served these interests over the course of decades, though the names, faces, and propaganda have changed over the years. As we watch the tragic images coming from Syria or the tens of thousands in the streets of Cairo, we must question why it has taken so long for this perfidious organization to be exposed or even understood. The answer is, as usual, because it serves the interests of global capital to keep the rest of the world confused as to who the enemies of progress really are. By revealing their true nature, the real forces of peace and progress around the world can reject the Muslim Brotherhood and the imperial system in all its overt and covert forms.

Source:

[1] http://news.yahoo.com/rebels-circle-damascus-airport-russia-u-downbeat-013515100.html
[2] http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/05/06/us-syria-brotherhood-idUSBRE84504R20120506
[3] http://english.al-akhbar.com/content/egypts-brotherhood-calls-intervention-syria
[4] http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/21/world/middleeast/cia-said-to-aid-in-steering-arms-to-syrian-rebels.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0
[5] http://carnegie-mec.org/publications/?fa=48370
[6] http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2011/02/what-is-the-muslim-brotherhood
[7] Ibid.
[8] Ibid.
[9] http://www.albawaba.com/business/morsi-egypt-imf-loan-432065

Egypt’s Morsi: Globalist Trojan Horse Visits Iran

Morsi is clearly playing the role of figurehead for the latest incarnation of the West’s regime change strategy for Syria.

Dan Glazebrook

Morsi In Tehran: Strategic Realignment or A Safe Pair of Hands?

Egypt’s new President Mohammed Morsi was in China last week, putting in an appearance at the Non-Aligned Movement summit in Iran on the way home – all before ever having stepped foot in the US. Several commentators have speculated that his movements herald a strategic realignment for Egypt away from Washington and towards Tehran. The Washington Post hailed the trip as “a major foreign policy shift for the Arab world’s most populous nation, after decades of subservience to Washington”. This seems very unlikely, if not disingenuous, for a number of reasons.

Firstly, the importance of foreign visits and their chronology can easily be overstated. Every reactionary from Doha to Downing St goes to China to do business, and China does not demand political allegiance in return; this trip in itself, therefore, signifies nothing about Egypt’s foreign policy. Likewise with Tehran; the Turkish foreign minister and the Emir of Qatar are also attending the summit, yet no one seems to be suggesting that this signifies any “major foreign policy shift” on the part of either of those countries. Neither should it be forgotten that, although Morsi has yet to visit the US, he hosted a visit from Hillary Clinton within a fortnight of coming to power, and his first foreign visit as President was to King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia – the West’s number one Arab friend.

Secondly, Morsi’s government looks set to be deepening, not reducing, his country’s economic dependence on the West through a $4.5bn IMF loan currently under negotiation. As has often been discussed in these pages, the IMF do not do free lunches; they demand their pound of flesh in the form of privatisation of industry, the abolition of tariffs and subsidies and other measures to make life easier for foreign capital (and harder for the poor). Not that Morsi’s organisation, the Muslim Brotherhood, have any particular objection to such policies – their economic strategy document al-Nahda (“the renaissance”) is a model of the type of extreme neo-liberalism the IMF so adores. They have already pledged to abolish the £10billion annual food and fuel subsidy that is currently a lifeline for the country’s poor, and are committed to the emasculation of the trade unions which were such a potent force in last year’s uprisings. Opposition to such measures will certainly be blunted if the Brotherhood implement their commitment to end the current reservation of 50% of seats in the Egyptian parliament for workers and farmers. This reform would pave the way to a parliament stacked with corporate-sponsored middle-class career politicians based on the Western model – complete, presumably, with similar levels of subservience to the global neoliberal agenda. Interestingly, the IMF loan currently being negotiated was rejected by Egypt’s military leaders last summer as being politically unwise – in other words, likely to provoke massive popular outrage. In economic terms, the elites of Egypt and the West are definitely singing from the same songsheet.

Finally, Morsi is clearly playing the role of figurehead for the latest incarnation of the West’s regime change strategy for Syria. Long before his outburst against Assad in Tehran this week, Morsi had nailed his colours to the mast, claiming that the Syrian government must “disappear from the scene” because “there is no room for talk about reform”. Now he is proposing a new Contact Group for Syria involving Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Iran. That this plan was not immediately dismissed by Washington and London – as similar suggestions had been in the past – is indication enough that it has their backing. Morsi’s spokesman Yasser Ali explained that “Part of the mission is in China, part of the mission is in Russia and part of the mission is in Iran”. Presumably there will be some kind attempt to win Russian and Chinese acquiescence to some kind of NATO-imposed ‘no-fly zone’, as suggested this week by US general Martin Dempsey, before delivering an ultimatum to Tehran not to intervene.

Rather than a “strategic shift”, what is more likely to be happening is that Morsi is consciously allowing the idea of a “turn from Washington” to take root – with the backing of sections of the Western media – in order to gain credibility, allowing his Syria plan to be presented as an “independent regional initiative”, and thus undermine Russian and Chinese claims of Western imperialism.

We have been here before. Turkish President Erdogan gained huge prestige across the Arab world three years ago for the supposed ‘anti-Zionism’ he demonstrated walking out of Shimon Peres’ speech at the World Economic Forum, and his grandstanding over the Israeli attack on the Gaza flotilla the following year. Hw went on to use this prestige, however, to garner support for the West’s ongoing proxy war against Syria, the one Arab state that backs up its supportive words with material support for the Palestinian resistance. In so doing, he effectively placed himself at the vanguard of the Israeli-Western policy agenda for the region.

Morsi’s Egypt remains financially dependent on the US, and now also Saudi Arabia. The US famously provides $1.3billion military aid annually, whilst Saudi Arabia has been the only country to provide loans to Egypt – to the tune of $4billion – since last year’s uprising. Meanwhile, the country has been suffering under the double hammer blows of world recession and the loss of tourism. Egypt’s financial stability depends, in the short term at least, on keeping its two backers happy. In this light, Morsi’s comments this week that his commitment to Western-sponsored regime change in Syria was a “strategic necessity” is quite a candid admission. Morsi’s calculated posturing is an attempt to win credibility by appearing to distance himself from the US, whilst in reality working to win support for US goals both in Egypt – through the pursuance of an extreme neoliberal economic agenda – and in the wider region, by spearheading the latest incarnation of the West’s roadmap to Syrian regime change.

Dan Glazebrook is a political writer and journalist. He writes regularly on international relations and the use of state violence in British domestic and foreign policy.. He can be reached at danglazebrook2000@yahoo.co.uk

Ahmed Shafiq Supporters Hold Mass Rally in Cairo

20120623-183318.jpg

RIA Novosti

Dozens of thousands of supporters of Egypt’s presidential candidate Ahmed Shafiq gathered on Friday in Cairo’s Nasr City district to demand that Shafiq be declared the winner of last weekend’s presidential race and protest against Islamist forces struggling for power in the country, local television reported.

The demonstration took place at the Unknown Soldier Memorial and the tomb of President Anwar Sadat, who was assassinated by a radical Islamist in 1981.

The demonstrators chanted anti-Islamist slogans, protesting against Egypt turning into what they say would be a theocratic state is case the Muslim Brotherhood movement and its presidential candidate Mohammed Mursi come to power.

Protesters, holding aloft banners branded with Shafiq’s image, chanted “Down with the rule of the Supreme Guide” and “No to Brotherhood, no to Salafists; they market in the name of religion,” the al-Ahram daily reported.
During his election campaign, Mursi, a 60-year-old U.S.-trained engineer, has promised to implement Islamic Sharia law in Egypt, which has worried secularists and the country’s Coptic Christian minority.

Slogans in support of the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) were also heard during the demonstration. The rally blocked Nasr Street, leading to considerable traffic jams in surrounding areas, al-Ahram said.

Meanwhile, Mursi supporters have continued their demonstration on Cairo’s Tahrir Square, the center of last year’s revolution that ousted President Hosni Mubarak.

Egypt’s Supreme Central Election Commission is planning to announce the results of the June 16-17 run-off presidential vote on Sunday afternoon. Both Mursi and Shafiq, who was the last prime minister under Mubarak, have claimed victory in the elections.
The ruling military council, which has been in power in Egypt since Mubarak’s ouster, has refused to publicly support any of the candidates.

Shafiq Spokesperson: Brotherhood Seeks Victory by Imposing Fait Accompli

Aswat Masriya

Ahmed Shafiq’s media spokesman criticized Mohamed Mursi’s campaign’s announcement that Mursi won Egypt’s presidency based on preliminary results.

“Elections cannot be won by imposing a fait accompli as the Muslim Brotherhood did,” Ahmed Sarhan, media spokesman of Shafiq’s campaign, stated.

Mursi’s campaign announced late on Sunday that their candidate won with around 13,230,177 votes after sorting 99.9 percent of all votes.

The Supreme Presidential Elections Commission (SPEC) will announce official results next Thursday.

“The actions of Mursi and the brotherhood are irresponsible,” Sarhan wrote on Twitter.

“Announcing that Mursi won and getting brotherhood supporters on the streets is an absurd, irresponsible action that aims at fueling clashes between Egyptians when official results declare Shafiq to be the winner,” Sarhan added.

The SPEC is not responsible for any announcements of results and sorting votes still continues, Sarhan quoted Amr Salama, spokesperson of the SPEC, as saying.

The brotherhood aims at trading the dissolved parliament for Mursi’s presidency “in a stark defiance of the presidential elections commission’s authority and the will of the people who want the truth,” Sarhan said.

Muslim Brotherhood: Washington’s Horse in Egypt Presidential Race

Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood reassures Washington

al-Akhbar

Cairo, (Al-Akhbar): “No need to fear us.” That was the Muslim Brotherhood’s message to the US in 2005. Seven years later, they are trying to offer the same reassurance.

After the Muslim Brotherhood’s (MB) sweeping parliamentary election victory in 2005, Khairat al-Shater wrote an article titled “No Need to Fear Us” in the Guardian.

Al-Shater is now the deputy chairman of the MB and the Freedom and Justice Party’s (FJP) candidate for the Egyptian presidential elections.

The article aimed to ease Western powers’ concerns over the then rising power of the MB, after they had won one-fifth of the parliament for the first time.

In the article, al-Shater said that the MB does not want “more than just a small piece of the parliamentary cake” in spite of the “great confidence” the Egyptian people have in them.

He added that they only ran for 150 seats out of 444 (in the people’s assembly), because they “recognize that the provision of a greater number of candidates will be considered a provocation to the system” and lead it to “falsify the results.”

The 2005 article even committed the MB to “respect the rights of all political and religious groups” and made no mention of the application of Islamic law.

Today, al-Shater is reaping the fruits of his rapprochement with the West, and especially the United States, in his run for Egypt’s top post.

His position in the race is the opposite of that of the Salafi candidate Hazem Salah Abu Ismail. The latter is facing disqualification because his mother is said to have US citizenship.

The Egyptian electoral law prohibits candidates from having parents with other nationalities. But Abu Ismail’s supporters showed their resentment of the rule by calling for a protest on Friday, raising the slogan of “No to Manipulation [of the election results].”

Abu Ismail also announced that he will be suing the interior ministry for refusing to provide documentation about his mother’s nationality.

One of his supporters, Mostafa Abido, told Al-Akhbar that the US endorses al-Shater against Abu Ismail because the Salafi candidate is committed “to applying sharia and rejects US intervention in Egyptian affairs.”

Earlier this week, Reuters had spoken to Sondos Asim, a member of the FJP’s foreign relations committee and editor of its official English-language website.

At a forum at Georgetown University in Washington, Asim said they were there “to start building bridges of understanding with the United States,” according to Reuters.

“We acknowledge the very important role of the US in the world and we would like our relations with it to be better than before,” he added.

Abdul Mawgoud Dardery, an FJP lawmaker from Luxor, says the party is dedicated to the principle of a “civil state” and the objectives of sharia rather than its specific practice.

This could be the reason behind Abido’s claim that al-Shater is not committed to Islamic law. He says the MB candidate does not aim to apply Sharia and “has announced the opposite to appease the clerics who were present.”

He was referring to al-Shater’s announcement in a meeting Tuesday with the Sharia Council for Rights and Reform. Al-Shater announced then that sharia was and still remains his project and “his first and final objective.”

He said he will form a group of influential personalities to assist the parliament in reaching this goal.

The official spokesperson of the MB Office of Guidance Mahmoud Ghezlan clarified this position to Al-Akhbar. He said that the party’s delegation to Washington “is just to correct the stereotypical image given to us by the former [Egyptian] regime.”

He added that they want to “reassure the West about its interests and our respect of international conventions. But of course we did not ask for the permission of the US or anyone else to nominate Khairat al-Shater.”

“Our decision comes from the Brotherhood’s shura council,” he insists. He added that what applies to international conventions should apply to the Camp David peace accord with Israel.

He emphasized that any final decision will not be made by the MB but “it will be taken by all the Egyptian people.”

In other developments, the US government denied any coordination with the MB on the upcoming presidential elections in Egypt.

Several meetings were held between the group and US senator John McCain and the US Ambassador to Egypt Anne Patterson during the senator’s visit to Egypt last February.

In a press statement released a few days ago in Cairo, the US Embassy claimed there “was no discussion of whether the Muslim Brotherhood would or should run a candidate in the upcoming presidential elections in Egypt.”

“McCain and Patterson were not asked for their support, nor did they offer their support, for such a proposal from the Muslim Brotherhood,” the statement added.

“The question of who will run for office in Egypt is an internal matter that is entirely up to the Egyptian people. The US takes no position on this subject,” it said.

This article is an edited translation from the Arabic Edition. 

Earlier:
Tunisia: Islamist Furor over Persepolis