|Written by Alejandro Iturbe/PSTU(A)|
|Wednesday, 03 August 2011 04:39|
|On Sunday, May 16, thousands of Palestinians, exiled in Israel neighboring countries (Lebanon, Syria, Jordan), marched together with supporters from these countries to cross the Israeli borders and thus claim the right to return to lands from which they were expelled in 1948. In Egypt, the mobilization was held in front of the Israeli embassy in Cairo.
The death toll from the attack by the Zionist army hit more than fifteen demonstrators who reached the Israeli territory. In Cairo the Egyptian army clamped down on the movement and killed two people. In this context we are going (in another article) to analyze the Fatah and Hamas agreement in Palestine.
These facts eloquently express the current status of a revolutionary situation in the Arab world. On one hand, we have the mass mobilization’s power, which has strongly been extended to the Palestinian people who hits the Israeli borders. This is a critical feature, once it tends to unify the whole process of the Arab revolution. On the other hand, the counter-revolutionary action of imperialism, Israel and the national bourgeoisies seek to divert, stop and defeat the national uprisings and the Arab revolutionary mobilization as a whole.
After its first victories in Tunisia and Egypt, the Arab revolution followed its course. Not as a wide “one-way street”, but through advances and setbacks, including deadlocks and losses, as in Bahrain.
The objective basis needed for keeping this revolution going on have been very deep. Firstly, the struggle to achieve democratic freedom against corrupt and bloody dictatorships in power for decades. Secondly, the fight against poverty and misery whose origins are the plunder of national resources by imperialism associated with the national bourgeoisies. Harsh living conditions exacerbated by the international economic crisis that led to a huge unemployment increase, reaching 50% among the youth, and the intolerable increase in food and first-need goods prices.
Furthermore, as the background, which currently has reappeared at full blast, the permanent threat of aggression by the imperialist military enclave of the State of Israel and the knife stuck in the heart of the Arab peoples – the tragedy of the Palestinian people – on which this state was built and holds its existence.
Egypt and Tunisia
In the countries whose victory by the masses came first, as in Tunisia and in Egypt, this continuity is expressed especially in the wide process of reorganization that is taking place in the mass movement, especially in the working class and youth.
In Egypt, we see the emergence of several factory committees and new trade unions that replace the old regime’s union structures. It is a process that is extended even to sectors traditionally less likely to organize themselves as artisans or engineers of the oil industry. The process of reorganization is so strong and dynamic that it resulted fruitless all the attempts to control it or “to regulate it,” and the new government finally opted to just create a government department in which the only requirement is that the new labor organizations present their application. The youth, in turn, has been widely organized in universities. Together, the youth and the workers are building up new coalitions to fight for their demands, to face the repression and the “control” that the new government wants to impose and to intervene politically.
In Tunisia, the organization process is expressed through the strengthening of UGTT (General Union of Tunisian Workers), mainly through its regional branches and its more fighting unions. The trade unions have won thousands of new members, particularly resistant to unionization, such as female workers in the engineering plants. Moreover, during these months, dozens of manifestations were held demanding pay raises and improvement in working conditions.
Although it may seem limited, it is a very positive process. Having achieved their first victory by overthrowing the dictators, the Egyptian and Tunisian workers and the youth take advantage of the democratic freedoms they have won through their struggles and organize themselves in order to continuing the fight for their immediate needs while building up a solid organizational foundation for such.
The Arab revolutionary process is facing a counterrevolutionary action imposed by imperialism, Israel and the Arab national bourgeoisie who fight to save the monarchical and dictatorial regimes as well as to defend the imperialist economic, political and military interests in countries where dictators were overthrown, as in Tunisia and Egypt.
It is a counterrevolutionary policy that combines each country own military actions or the actions of allied countries, the internal repression and, where these military actions or repression can no longer be the center, they seek to take advantage of the revolutionary leadership crisis and the masses’ illusions in the bourgeois democracy, i.e., electoral processes and “legal regulations” of masses’ action.
In Bahrain, the military counterrevolution was successful through the actions of Saudi Arabia troops invading Bahrain. In three other countries, Libya, Syria and Yemen, this shock acquires an extremely violent character.
There is strong controversy within the international leftwing about the processes in Libya and Syria. This article’s purpose is to analyze a specific characteristic of Libyan revolution. Due to the circumstances we analyze in another article on Libya, the imperialist military intervention is seen as a “help” by the rebels fighting against Gaddafi, not as what it really is (a counterrevolutionary military aggression in the country). This is a political triumph of imperialism.
… and its limitations
The intervention of the major imperialist powers in Libya has not yet managed to change the military stalemate, although it goes demolishing little by little Gadhafi’s military infrastructure. This “slowness” is due, firstly, to limited intervention taking place: Unlike Iraq and Afghanistan, imperialism did not send ground troops, but attacks with the air force and with missiles launched from ships near the coast.
It must be understood that this is not an “all powerful” counter-revolutionary action. On the contrary, the imperialism and national bourgeoisie should act under a double conditioning restraint. On the one hand, the strength of the revolutionary processes itself. On the other, it is developed in the framework of the world situation created by the defeat of the Bush’s project for Iraq and the increasingly negative course in Afghanistan, whose burden is now transferred to Obama.
In 1975, the defeat in the Southeast Asia has created the so-called “Vietnam syndrome”. That is, the fear of American imperialism to intervene militarily overseas, which lasted several years and was reversed only when George W. Bush took advantage of the September 11, 2001 attacks to the Twin Towers.
Now, the defeat in Iraq and the almost certain defeat in Afghanistan have created a new “syndrome” to avoid military intervention that end up to converting, first in long-term occupations and then into wars that lead to a military quagmire without an exit strategy. Therefore, US Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates, said that those who propose a new intervention with ground troops in the Middle East should be “committed to an asylum for insane people”.
A second impact of the “Iraq syndrome” is the deep open debate among the US imperialist bourgeoisie about which countries are and which are not of “vital interest” to the US in the area. For U.S. imperialism, the most strategic country, on one hand, is Saudi Arabia (the world’s largest producer of oil and “guarantee” of their international supply), and, on the other hand, the existence of the imperialist military enclave of Israel, now threatened in all its borders by the Arab revolution and by the reviving of the Palestinian struggle.
The definition of Obama’s government of leaving the “burden” of military intervention in Libya in the hands of European countries occurs in the context given above. And there are important voices, like James Baker, former chief of staff of Reagan and Bush (father) Republican administrations, who proposed to “pass” the war in Afghanistan to the new “partners” (such as Russia, China, India and even Iran).
This throws a different light on the recent killing of Osama bin Laden. It was a victory of imperialism, but not a very strong one due to the impact of the Arab revolution. Moreover, this “victory” would be used to justify, backed on negotiations with the Taliban, the departure of US troops from Afghanistan, without showing that the US was “defeated” because it would have gotten its war’s “primary purpose”.
A strategic region
If in 1975 Vietnam was not a genuine strategic region for the imperialism, the situation is totally different now with the Arab world. This region has 60% of the world oil reserves, its control is of “vital interest” and imperialism cannot just “go walking out” as it did in Southeast Asia.
Historically, imperialism has ensured its control and its dominance through the national monarchies and dictatorships, as from 1948, with the creation of the military enclave represented by the State of Israel.
When, in 1950, these national bourgeoisies had clashes with that domain, seeking to negotiate better terms, the imperialism faced them militarily together with Israel. Then, as from the late 1970s, the imperialism has co-opted most of these regimes that became also pro-imperialism dictatorships, as in Egypt with Mubarak and with Gaddafi in Libya.
Now, the current wave of Arab revolution threatens the root of this imperialist “order” and “stability” for their fight against either the imperialist regimes, an explicit part of this mechanism, or against those who, despite some rhetoric, really help to keep it.
Therefore, the imperialism tries to keep the region under control by restoring the stability through regimes that ensure the “order” and Saudi Arabia and Israel security. In a series of “concentric circles of security”, the imperialism must also preserve other regimes, and if it couldn’t prevent them from falling, it must guarantee that they will be replaced by others who also ensure these central issues and continue to be parts of an “organized game”. In order to do so the imperialism applies, as discussed, different tactics according to each country.
Thus, in Egypt the imperialism supports the new government of Tantawi; in Bahrain it supported the Saudi Arabian invasion; in Syria and Yemen it supports, for the time being, the “bad, but not surprising” regimes of Assad and Saleh, who find themselves empowered to continue with the repression; in Libya the imperialism carries out an air military action; in Palestine, while maintaining the strategic defense of Israel, the US imperialism has adapted its tactics and lets the Fatah-Hamas agreement running …
In several articles published in Correio Internacional No. 4, we say that an “unconscious socialist revolution” is being developed in the Arab world, whose people, in the fight for democratic freedoms, for better life conditions and for freeing their countries from imperialist domination, must advance necessarily towards its international development and to the struggle for socialism.
We say that the revolution is socialist in the Arab world because of the kind of enemies they have been facing (imperialism, Israel and the national bourgeoisies); because the tasks they must carry forward can only be resolved by defeating capitalism and imperialism and, finally, because its protagonists, the only ones who are able to carry the fight to the end, are the workers and the people.
For us, the central result of this “socialist contents” is the struggle through which the Arab masses can take power in each country and impose workers’ governments that implement sound measures aiming at to solve the masses’ and the peoples’ problems once and for all and to achieve the deepest revolution goals.
The most concrete ways and the masses institutions through which these “workers and popular governments” can be formed will vary in accordance with the conditions and features of each country. In Egypt, for example, it could be based on the coordination and centralization of the new unions and factory committees and on youth organizations.
Consciousness and the struggles
However, to say that it is an “unconscious socialist revolution” means, at the same time, to be aware of the fact that the masses’ consciousness is lagging behind the deeper meaning of the actions they perform. In Egypt, for example, after the fall of Mubarak, the masses withdrew from Tahrir Square claiming the role of the army and calling for the unity with it. Or in Libya, where the rebels think the imperialist military intervention is to help them. That is, there is a contradiction between the process perspectives and awareness. This is a breach that the imperialism and the bourgeoisie try to take advantage of in order to maneuver and to deceive the masses.
But at the same time, the workers and the young people continue organizing, mobilizing and fighting for democratic freedoms, job, salary, education, and against Israel in solidarity with the Palestinians. In this fight, the masses clash with the bourgeois governments, with employers in factories, with imperialism and Israel, with the armies and the police.
This process of independent mobilization of the masses and the results of the clashes with their enemies determine the power balance and the dynamics of the revolutionary processes. Moreover, the result of this mobilization and the achieved experience make possible the advancement of the political consciousness of the masses, who can understand the need to move forward in their struggle beyond the immediate scene.
On the other hand – in order to be really solid – this consciousness should be expressed in the building of revolutionary workers parties. Parties that place each partial fight on the most strategic perspective, i.e., the seizure of power in each country, towards the construction of a Socialist Federation of Arab Republics.
Translation: Wilma Olmo Corrêa