Supporters of the army are controlling the streets in Egypt. But if the military fails to meet people’s hopes the revolt could turn on them, writes Judith Orr
The Egyptian army has carried out its second massacre since the fall of Muslim Brotherhood president Mohamed Mursi on 3 July.
Over 80 Mursi supporters lay dead on the streets of Cairo in the early hours of last Saturday. Many had been shot through the head.
They had been part of a thousands-strong sit in at Rabaa Al-Adawiya Square calling for Mursi’s release from military custody.
There has been turmoil in the country since millions of people demonstrated on 30 June for the end of Mursi’s rule. The protests marked a year after he had been elected president.
The military arrested Mursi and Brotherhood leaders and installed an interim government. The military justify their violent repression of Brotherhood by labeling them “terrorists”.
They issued a rallying call last Friday that brought thousands onto the streets in their support.
Revolutionary Socialist Hisham Fouad explained to Socialist Worker how the army has managed to fill a vacuum with the fall of Mursi.
“Wide layers of the masses have placed their hopes in the army,” he said.
“The masses want to get rid of the Muslim Brotherhood, and currently don’t see any contradiction in allowing the old regime’s institutions to do this.”
Yet the reappearance of old institutions is alarming all those who have fought for the revolution since January 2011.
“We see the old state beginning to return in force,” said Hisham. “State Security is back, and they have revived the departments that dealt with political and religious dissidents.
“They want to pursue political activists, just like they did under Hosni Mubarak. The government is talking about bringing back the Emergency Laws.” The military called the Friday protests to win mass backing for its brutal suppression of the Brotherhood .
Supporters of the military currently control the streets.Only a minority of revolutionaries are opposed to the military. The Revolutionary Socialists have pointed to the grave danger of giving the state a popular mandate to wield power.
They say that letting the army “do what they want to their partners-in-crime of yesterday will only give them a free hand to repress all opposition thereafter”.
Hisham explained that a number of Revolutionary Socialists had been attacked because of this stance.
But he says it’s vital they fight for a political alternative to the Brotherhood—who have been using increasingly sectarian rhetoric since 30 June—and the army.
“None of the political forces opposed to the Brotherhood, such as the Rebel campaign organisers and the National Salvation Front, could act as an independent, third force,” he said. “They backed the military.”
Supporting the army’s clampdown could “wipe out one of the most important features of the revolution so far—the masses’ consciousness of the repressive role of the state.”
Some activists have been involved in an initiative coined the “Third Square”.They don’t back the army or Mursi.
Hisham said that this may not succeed straight away but that lots of groups are thinking of taking similar initiatives. He said, “People went out into the streets on 30 June because the Brotherhood failed.
“They got rid of a failed president, and are looking for someone to meet their demands. They don’t feel defeated.
“The revolution is in danger. The military is better able now to fool the masses than it was. But what will the army offer? Can it solve the crisis? People’s expectations are that the problems they faced under Mursi will disappear.
“But if their expectations aren’t met, those in power will face a problem.”