Egypt erupts over Morsi power grab
By Abayomi Azikiwe
November 28, 2012
Mass protests erupted across Egypt following President Mohamed Morsi’s
Nov. 22 announcement of a series of decrees that would further consolidate his
administration’s power over areas of law, the judiciary and the
constitution. On Nov. 26, he met with leaders of the Supreme Judiciary Council
in Cairo in an attempt to calm the atmosphere on the eve of scheduled
demonstrations both for and against his ruling.
But the Muslim Brotherhood announced it was calling off its planned
demonstration in support of Morsi in order to ease tensions. At the same time,
a spokesperson for the president tried to soften the impact of his earlier
Three main forces
are contending for power in Egypt following the February 2011 overturn of
President Hosni Mubarak. The best organized are (1) the remaining pro-Mubarak
forces who are concentrated in the army, the police and the judiciary and (2)
the Muslim Brotherhood leadership, which Morsi represents and which was in the
opposition during the Mubarak years.
Still out of any form of power are (3) the main mass forces behind the
revolution: the workers who struck, the unemployed and disillusioned youth who
mobilized using the Internet, some Muslim Brotherhood rank and file who
provided defense for the demonstration in Tahrir — in short, the Egyptian
The secular, pro-socialist and anti-imperialist organizations that represent
the workers’ needs do not have enough organizational strength to rule on
their behalf at this moment. The corporate media instead focus on bourgeois
democratic political leaders like Mohamed el-Baradei, who the imperialists can
Both the reactionary state forces on one side and the secular democratic and
pro-socialist forces on the other — from opposite perspectives —
oppose a Muslim Brotherhood takeover.
Jurists, most of them holdovers from Mubarak’s reign, have threatened
an indefinite strike over the new measures. Morsi claimed that he acted to
expedite the charging and prosecution of those responsible for killing
activists during the uprising of early 2011 that led to Mubarak’s ouster.
This puts a popular face on his maneuver.
But the mass movement didn’t accept this explanation. After widespread
protests in Cairo, Alexandria, Suez and the Nile delta, Morsi announced on Nov.
25 that the decrees would be temporary.
National protests condemn
Clashes had occurred earlier in commemoration of anti-military
demonstrations one year ago that resulted in the massacre of civilians. Youth
fought police in several areas of Cairo for several days leading up to
Morsi’s announcement of the new decrees.
Some 10,000 people marched through Cairo’s Tahrir Square with the body
of the latest youthful martyr to the revolution, Gaber Salah, 16, who died of
head injuries sustained during clashes with police in earlier protests. Images
of Salah began appearing on Tahrir’s walls with the words: “Your
blood will spark a new revolution.” (AP, Nov. 26) Salah was a member of
the April 6 movement, a key organization in the uprising that ousted
A Muslim Brotherhood youth was reportedly killed on Nov. 25 when a group of
anti-Morsi protesters tried to storm the offices of his Freedom and Justice
Party. (Ahram Online, Nov. 25) The Minister of Health said that 444 people were
wounded between Nov. 22 and 26.
Secular and Christian forces have withdrawn from the 100-seat panel charged
with drafting a national charter.
Since the signing of the Camp David Peace Accords in 1978, Egypt has been
the main ally of U.S. imperialism and the state of Israel. The Egyptian masses
have gained nothing from the accord, nor from the billions in aid supplied by
the U.S. since the 1970s. When the uprising against the U.S.-backed Mubarak
regime occurred in early 2011, it sent shockwaves through ruling circles,
intelligence agencies and the Pentagon.
Next to Israel, Egypt is the largest recipient of direct U.S. military aid.
Its army has been fully integrated into the Pentagon and CIA strategy for North
Africa and Western Asia. Since Morsi took office, the U.S. and its allies have
sought to undermine the popular aspirations of the revolution.
Military ties between Egypt and the U.S. as well as Israel have continued.
The Morsi administration has sought to reestablish the supply of natural gas to
Israel in the Sinai. The corporate media praised Egypt for its role in
mediating the latest conflict between Tel Aviv and Hamas in Gaza. This is a
role that Egypt had played under the Mubarak regime.
The worsening economic situation in Egypt, coupled with the aggressive
policies of the Israeli government, will serve to keep the masses in a
heightened state of mobilization and political awareness. A possible outcome
might be a new coalition of nationalist, left and religious forces who could
take Egypt’s revolution to a higher level.