Socialist Worker

Egypt's army takes on Mursi supporters in new clash

Egypt’s generals have co-opted a key union leader while shooting down their opponents, says Judith Orr

Issue No. 2363

More than seven people have died in Egypt in clashes between the army and supporters of deposed Muslim Brotherhood president Mohamed Mursi.

There have been pro-Mursi protests in Cairo and across several governorates including Qaliubiya and Damietta. Mursi supporters have mounted a sit-in in east Cairo since the army took power on 3 July.

Pro and anti-Mursi protesters clashed near Tahrir Square on Friday of last week.

The army acted after 17 million people took to the streets on 30 June calling for Mursi to go. The military wanted to cut off the mass movement and the planned strikes, worried about the deepening politicisation of new social forces.

They arrested Mursi and a number of leading members of the Brotherhood. Mursi hasn’t been seen in public since.

The army also opened fire on pro-Mursi protesters while they were at prayer in the street, killing at least 55 people.

The army has attempted to put a civilian facade on its power. The interim government is led by a civilian president—a judge, Adly Mansour—and a civilian prime minister.

But it also includes several ministers from the regime of dictator Hosni Mubarak. 


The new labour and manpower minister is Kamal Abu Aita, the former president of the Egyptian Federation of Independent Trade Unions (EFITU).

The incorporation of such a figure from the organised working class shows the regime’s need to appear to be addressing the concerns of workers. 

But the speed with which a leading trade unionist has been assimilated shows that grassroots organisation is as important as ever.

Illusions that the “army and the people are one hand” are strong at the moment. Members of the Revolutionary Socialists report that their members risk being physically assaulted when they criticise the military and point to the danger of these illusions.

But the army is not going to deliver for workers and the poor. Its business and political interests are firmly rooted in maintaining the status quo. 

It won’t answer the demands that people still want fulfilled by the revolution. The situation is not static. 

As soon as Mursi was gone workers asked who they could now go to with their demands for minimum and maximum wages, for price subsidies and stable contracts.

Such demands help drive the revolution forward.

The mass movement of 30 June shows the power of the revolution. But the army’s ability to become the power brokers once again shows the revolution’s weaknesses.

The masses who marched in their millions hold the key to challenging the military and their regime’s politicians.

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Tue 23 Jul 2013, 16:10 BST
Issue No. 2363
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