Where is the “Arab Spring” heading?

The coup and the brutal repression of the military in Egypt and the release of former dictator Mubarak pose questions in thousands of fighters in the world. Is the process of the Arab Spring ending? To this we must add new criminal actions of Bashar al-Assad in the indefinite Syrian civil war. Is the cycle of successful revolutions that toppled dictators in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya closing? Are we faced with the danger of a bloody counterrevolution triumph, at least in Egypt, imposing a regional retreat to the revolutionary process open in early 2011?

By Miguel Sorans, Leading member of the International Workers’ Union – Fourth International (IWU–FI).

There are several facts that show progress of the counter-revolutionary forces and agents of imperialism. In Egypt there has been a counter-revolutionary coup and the dictator Mubarak has managed to get out of jail and move to house arrest. In Tunisia the murder of prominent leaders of the Popular Front, which has been promoting the popular mobilization against the Islamic Ennahda government, have been taking place. The fury of the Syrian dictatorship has claimed more than a thousand new civilian victims of a rebel neighbourhood in Damascus. The government has accepted the existence of the slaughter, but rejects the evidence which would show that they used a deadly gas. These facts abound to show the difficult situation in the revolutionary struggle of the peoples of the region. In this context, the confrontation between revolution and counterrevolution intensifies.

What were the successful revolutions?

The rise of the masses and the collapse of dictatorships have been a complex process and full of contradictions since its beginning. A decisive factor causing enormous confusion was the fact that the governments of Hugo Chavez in Venezuela, of Cuba and the old communist parties, as well as Putin and the Chinese dictatorship, at all times supported dictators like Gaddafi and then Bashar Al Assad in Syria, who they continue to support, with the false argument that “they were attacked by imperialism”.

For our part, we said that in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya “great democratic revolutions triumphed which, due to the lack of a revolutionary leadership, failed to advance to the triumph of the socialist revolution. […]The lack of an organized leadership, beyond local leaders, defines the spontaneous nature of these revolutions. Both the strength and the limitations of these revolutions arise from that character. On the other hand, especially in Tunisia and Egypt, despite the fall of dictatorships, aspects of the old dictatorial regime still continue and fundamentally the capitalist exploitation continues. Whereupon, it means they are unfinished revolutions. A new stage of the revolutionary process has opened, and new tasks, where the axis that orders the fighting program is to achieve the power for the workers to permanently solve both democratic and social problems such as wages, work, food, health and education.” (Global Political Theses, special issue of International Correspondence, p. 27/28 [in the Spanish Original]).

While we rejected the disastrous policy of the Chavist left of endorsing the dictators, we insisted that those democratic gains were born “unfinished” with “aspects of the old dictatorial regime”. And we warned about the policy of imperialism and the bourgeois and reformist (secular or Islamic) leaderships which would seek to hinder the mobilization of the masses and to channel their triumphs in ‘constitutional’ bourgeoisie and pro-imperialist regimes, the so-called “democratic reaction”.

Reality has been showing the failure of this plan, especially in the case of Egypt, of trying to divert the revolution via Islamic “civil government” and certain freedoms. These governments fail for their complete inability to meet the demands of the masses, not only of freedom, but to achieve decent living conditions. So in Egypt the mobilization was further developed, now against Mursi. Hence, faced with the danger of a total overflow, they went to plan B: the counter-revolutionary variant, the return of the military to power and massive repression.

In the case of Syria, the counter-revolution has achievements because the governments of Russia and China (with the support of the communist parties and Chavism) are providing weapons to the dictator, and it was key the support from Iran, through Hezbollah, to shore up the regime at a time when reeling before the rebel offensive.

The counterrevolution wants to raise its head

The absence of a revolutionary leadership in Egypt led to mass demonstrations against the government of Mursi being manipulated by the army (which receives millions of dollars of funding by the U.S.), achieving massive support from secular youth sectors. It raised the danger, with the repression and confusion reigning among the masses, for a new dictatorship to strengthen. The persecution of the Muslim Brotherhood will be extended to unions, the labour movement and the organizations that go on fighting against the military government. A new challenge is posed to the labour movement and all the Egyptian people. The consolidation of a new dictatorship would be a blow not only for them but for the revolutionary process throughout the region.

No doubt the military in the Egyptian government, U.S. imperialism and the Zionists in Israel are betting on that. The newspaper New York Times received official information about the activity of Israeli ambassadors in Washington, London, Paris, Berlin and other capitals, seeking to meet with the foreign ministers to show their support for the Egyptian army, which they define as “the only hope to avoid more chaos” (Clarín, Argentina, 21/08/2013). The Israeli Defence Force is acting in close cooperation with the Egyptian army to repress pro-Palestinian fighters and tightly control the Sinai border.

The problem of leadership is key

In these more than two years of “Arab Spring” it became more and more evident and with increasing severity the absence of a revolutionary socialist leadership. The masses did the revolutions but emerged as replacement leaderships bourgeois Islamic currents like the Muslim Brotherhood (Egypt and Syria), Ennahda in Tunisia or the forces that make up the Syrian National Coalition (SNC) in Syria, backed by the governments of Turkey and Qatar, who do not want new successful revolutions. And in opposition to them have proliferated amongst the left and youth and trade union organizations reformist and class conciliation currents, both Islamic and secular.

The Egyptian youth movement Tamarod [Rebellion in Arabic, TN] is the ultimate expression of this profound weakness. Claiming correctly against the lack of response to their demands by the Islamic government, they fell into the deadly trap of supporting the military and justifying their repression, along with the minority Communist Party and the Nasserism, integrating the National Salvation Front.

In Tunisia, the government of the Islamic Ennahda Party has been faced with strikes and demonstrations for popular grievances. It left unpunished criminal groups who killed fighters. But the opposition, among them the leadership of the UGTT [Tunisian General Labour Union] and sectors of the left, grouped in the Popular Front, fall into class conciliation postures, like joining former regime elements as Nidaa Tounes [opposition party] or proposing a national salvation government. This generates further confusion.

The process is still open

At present there is a fierce struggle between revolution and counterrevolution in the whole region, but the last word has not yet been said. Mobilization and the will to fight of the masses continue. Thus, it is possible to defeat this offensive of the counter-revolution. This is the most important task of the moment. And that in this way for new leaders and organizations that consequently drive the fight against the bourgeoisie, its armed forces and imperialism to emerge. Strategically it is raised to keep making further progress to conquer authentic workers and popular governments, which support the political independence of the masses, breaking with imperialism and with anti-capitalist measures to satisfy the immense demands of these peoples. Once again it is being shown that there are no “stages” in which to be limited to “democratic” demands or opportunities to progress holding bourgeois governments, either Islamic or secular. And even less agreeing with the remnants of the old dictatorships or supporting pro-imperialist military coups. There is only one process of permanent and regional revolution which is what the military, Arab bourgeois governments, imperialism and Zionism are hoping to defeat.

We call on all anti-imperialist and anti-capitalist fighters, the Arab youth, to all peoples and the left of the world, to support the Syrian rebellion and, in the immediate future, to mobilize against the Egyptian military government, calling young people who support it to break away and join the fight to defeat the counter-revolution.