Socialist Worker

Egypt's revolution that toppled the dictator

by Simon Assaf
Issue No. 2238a

The tyrant has fallen. Mubarak has gone. Israel’s man, imperialism man, the US’s man, the World Bank’s man, has been deposed. Mubarak has been swept away by one of the greatest mass movements in history.

The “moderate strongman” so loved by imperialism presided over a regime of cruelty, nepotism and corruption that went beyond silencing democracy activists. It touched all Egyptians, and reached across the Arab world.

Now the consequences for imperialism, Israel, the dictatorships and oil kingdoms are in the balance.

Mubarak rose to power on the back of a huge surge of reaction that spanned the Arab world following a peace deal with Israel—signed by his predecessor, Anwar Sadat, in 1979.

He played a key role in the “disengagement”—a US strategy to break the alliance of Arab countries resisting Israel and imperialism.

The Camp David Accords that Egypt signed with Israel in 1978 freed the Israeli army to launch its deadly invasion of Lebanon in 1982. Mubarak was silent when this invasion ended with the massacre of Palestinians in Sabra and Chatila.

Complicit

Mubarak’s regime was complicit with Israel’s long occupation of south Lebanon. He rallied Arab regimes to isolate Hizbollah and the Lebanese resistance during the 2006 war, and helped fund US clients in Lebanon.

Mubarak lent all his weight to crush the Palestinian Intifada from 1987, ordering Egyptian journalists to describe the Palestinian resistance as “terrorists”. Only with his help could Israel keep its grip on the Palestinians in Gaza.

He was a man the US could do business with. He sent troops to fight alongside the US in the 1990 Gulf War and opened the Suez Canal to warships on their way to Afghanistan in 2001 and the invasion of Iraq in 2003. He turned Egypt into a giant prison, and lent his torture chambers for “special rendition” in the “war on terror”.

Mubarak opened the country to the worst ravages of neo-liberalism. He imposed the privatisation of industries and encouraged the return of landlords who were deposed in the 1950s.

His dream of transforming the country into the “Tiger on the Nile” condemned large sections of the population to poverty. The wages for Egyptian workers, some just £3.26 a month, have remained unchanged since 1984—while inflation has rocketed.

Unions were banned, activists jailed and tortured. The factories were handed over to his cronies or global companies. Mubarak and his corrupt friends—known as the “one thousand families”—amassed huge amounts of wealth. He ran the country as his fiefdom, fixing elections and jailing opponents.

With Mubarak gone, Israel has become isolated, and every regime in the Arab world is now vulnerable. The mood of fatalism that had gripped the Arab world for decades has now evaporated.

This revolution has destroyed 30 years of US and Israeli strategy in the Middle East. At the beginning of the demonstrations Israel’s Haaretz newspaper described Israel as being in “strategic distress”.

For imperialism and its allies in the Middle East, this has now become strategic despair.


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