Egypten: Revolutionen fortsætter, men kommer til at vare længe

Den egyptiske journalist og revolutionære socialist Hossam El-Hamalawy forklarer i dette interview, hvorfor han stadig er optimistisk med hensyn til udsigten til at få afsat det diktatoriske regime. Han siger blandt andet, at det er forventeligt, at det hele ikke falder på plads på én gang, og at det uanset udfaldet af det seneste valg let kan tage tre til seks før der sker nogen mærkbar bedring af situationen:

Has this affected the legitimacy of the elections? Of course, it did. I had already taken the position even before the current uprising of boycotting the coming elections because they are happening while the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) is still in power. You cannot have clean elections while Mubarak’s generals are still running the show or when the army, together with the police, had just massacred people in Tahrir, and Maspero. They were not even held accountable, and now they are the ones supposedly in charge of supervising the whole process?

More importantly, it’s not about who you vote into this inept parliament. My argument was that even if you elect one hundred percent Revolutionary Socialists in parliament – forget about the Salafis or the Ikhwan – still you will not be able to achieve the goals of the revolution. If you bring a prophet or a saint to be the prime minister today in Egypt, he will still remain a puppet in the hands of SCAF. If you elect a president today, while the situation is still as it is, he will also be a puppet in the hands of SCAF. SCAF are opting for a model which is like the old Turkish model where you get the people enjoying elections, electing civilian politicians in suits, and having civilian cabinets, but with specific red lines that cannot be crossed, and once they are crossed you will get a phone call from the army – or you will get a coup.

The fierce level of confrontations with the police has definitely been unprecedented since January. You can draw parallels between them in terms of police brutality triggering the uprising, in terms of the tactic of occupying the square, in terms of even repeating the same battles on Mohamad Mahmoud Street that were very reminiscent of the 29th of January – the day after the ‘Friday of Anger’ there was a massacre on that street. But there are differences, of course. Not all sections of the population took part in the uprising, unlike January where there was a higher level of participation.

The other qualitative difference is that you were then revolting against Mubarak; now you are revolting against his own army generals. This is a plus, meaning we’ve come a long way. In February or March if you would have chanted against the army generals in a protest you could have been lynched by the people themselves – not by the military police – I mean by the people. Many people believed the lies and the propaganda of the army at the time about them protecting the revolution, or that it’s Tahrir that’s causing all of the instability, but ten months later when you get this full scale uprising basically against the military and a strong occupation that lasted for a few days with the one demand of putting the army generals in jail then you know you’ve come a long way in terms of the consciousness of the people

The uprising didn’t succeed, obviously; we still have the army generals running the country. But it’s not going to be the last uprising, and we have, at least, I would say, from 3 to 6 years of ebbs and flows, of battles to be won and others to be lost. But in general I’m optimistic. I’m not pessimistic about it.

En vigtig konklusion er, at den optimistiske forestilling om, at Mubarak ville gå af, og får vi et overgangsstyre og en hurtig overgang til et frit og demokratisk samfund, trods alt er alt for optimistisk i et land, hvor militæret så at sige har ejet så stor en del af samfundets aktier (modsat Tunesien, hvor det trods problemer er gået noget bedre).

En vigtig detalje er også, at oprøret i januar og februar selvfølgelig ikke kun var det på Tahrir-pladsen – Tahrir har været vigtig, men Mubarak var aldrig blevet væltet, hvis ikke der var udbrudt demonstrationer og strejker over hele landet; og et endegyldigt opgør med militæriktaturet kræver tilsvarende, at oprøret generaliseres og kommer helt ud på arbejdspladserne:

According to a labour organizer friend of mine, you witnessed at least 1,500 industrial actions in February alone, which is the total amount of all industrial actions in 2010. Now, these actions continued in February through March, and went down a little bit in April, May, and June. But then you had September, which was probably the month that had the biggest hit in terms of strikes, where roughly three quarters of a million Egyptians took part in a strike; they were mainly in the public transport sector, the teachers, the doctors, and the sugar refineries. Here we are only mentioning the major blocs, but you opened up the newspaper at the time and all these wildcat strikes were happening everywhere.

We did not witness any strike actions in solidarity with Tahrir in this uprising; it is true that the Egyptian Federation of Independent Trade Unions, and some independent unions, supported Tahrir and they had their banners there and a symbolic presence there, but they didn’t mobilize full scale. My explanation for this is that, on the one hand, the Independent Federation is still not rooted enough so as to be able to put together a general strike; and number two, the working class is usually the last class to move – it’s very easy for the youth and the radicals to just leave their family or university for a month to go to Tahrir and set up a camp. If you’re a worker and you have four kids and you’re working a 9 to 5, and sometimes even a 9 to 7 job, to put together a strike action is a completely different story. They are usually the last to move, but when they move it’s game over.

The general strike is coming. I have no doubt about this; what you don’t know is what’s going to be the outcome of the general strike. But the ball is in our court – can we push it left or right, that’s what we’ll see. At the moment there are several important protests taking place, mainly in Alexandria. Tomorrow in Cairo there will be a protest in front of the State Council in Dokki on Giza Street – it’s called Magles Al-Dawla – where workers from two privatized factories are going to show up for a court case to demand the re-nationalization of their companies – which they already won, by the way. That’s the other problem: even when you have a strike that reaches victory it never means that the government is going to fulfill its promises. Just pick and choose the name of any company that’s right now on strike and I will tell you that they have been on strike since 2009, or even 2007!

Tahrir Square is for sure the symbol of this revolution but we will not fall into the trap of taking Tahrir as a barometer for how the revolution is progressing or regressing. That’s what we’ve been saying to activists for the past months who have been demoralized. For example, you call for a ‘Million Man Protest’ in Tahrir to denounce military tribunals and only a few hundred show up, so you get demoralized. But at the same time, within the same month, you have 750,000 Egyptians going on strike and, in effect, destroying the emergency law. Even if they didn’t show up at your own protest in Tahrir Square, they effectively broke the emergency law.

Der er mere – meget mere, så læs endelig det hele. El-Hamalawy taler også om den amerikanske og efterhånden internationale Occupy-bevægelse og mener analogt til, hvad der er brug for i Egypten, at bevægelsen kan få stor betydning – men at den er nødt til at nu ud over og væk fra de pladser, de er begyndt med at besætte:

If your movement remains confined to the square than you’re not going to succeed. You have to take this movement from the square to the workplaces and the university campuses. We did not topple Mubarak in Tahrir. Yes, Tahrir was a heroic battle, a heroic sit-in, and a heroic occupation, which will definitely go down in history as one of the most fantastic struggles that happened this century, but at the same time, the regime could have held out; Mubarak could have stayed in power for a much longer time if it wasn’t for the labour strikes that broke out. So, I’m very proud of our colleagues and brothers and sisters who have taken part in the Occupy movement everywhere, but they have to link their struggle to the workplaces. If they don’t bring in the working class – which is a big challenge, and I’m not saying it’s something easy – then this movement is going to die.

Og det kan de, der gerne vil se et vellykket oprør mod de økonomiske kræfter, der i disse år insisterer på at frede bankerne og samfundets rigeste, mens almindelige mennesker får lov at betale prisen, så få lov at tænke over.  A big challenge, and I’m not saying it’s something easy.

Link: The Egyptian Revolution Continues – an Interview with Hossam el-Hamalawy.