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Egypt’s revolution hangs in the balance

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The revolution in Egypt is at a critical moment. Some commentators in the mainstream media have even declared it finished.
Issue 2308

The revolution in Egypt is at a critical moment. Some commentators in the mainstream media have even declared it finished.

The ruling military government—the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (Scaf)—has brought about what the media are calling a “soft” coup.

It is “soft” only in the sense that it has not—as yet—involved any killing. Scaf has certainly not balked at murdering protesters over the past year.

What happens over the next weeks will be decisive. A revolution is a process, not just a single event. Gains can be won and sometimes pushed back.

But there are moments when the forces of revolution and counter-revolution hang in balance. This is one of them.

Scaf sensed an opportunity to secure its power—and took it. The generals changed laws restricting who they could arrest, dissolved parliament and put themselves in charge of rewriting the constitution.

This does not mean the counter-revolution has won. But it does mark a surge in their confidence. The danger is that if Scaf is not pushed back now it will go further to crush the opposition.

Scaf has unleashed repression against protesters before, but each time it has provoked a resurgence of the revolution. The generals are gambling on the idea that revolutionaries cannot deliver such resistance this time.

The Muslim Brotherhood, which had won a majority in parliament, now finds itself on the streets fighting for its future.

This is an organisation full of contradictions. Brotherhood youth fought to the death to bring down the dictatorship. Yet its leadership sees its role as one of being absorbed into Egypt’s ruling establishment.

It’s important revolutionaries are uniting with the Brotherhood in broad mobilisations to defend the gains of the revolution, while building their own independent organisation on the ground. These mobilisations can push Scaf back.

Since the fall of dictator Hosni Mubarak millions of ordinary people have fought for a future without poverty and oppression.

They know what defeat would look like. During the 18 days that brought down Mubarak, a placard in Tahrir Square read “We are not Chile”—where a revolution was drowned in blood after a coup.

In the final days of Mubarak’s rule the decisive force was the entry of the organised working class into the struggle. This is the social force in Egypt that has the potential power to bring down Scaf—and drive the revolution forward.

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