The Arabist

The Arabist

By Issandr El Amrani and friends.

Posts tagged Left
The Arab Left at the World Social Forum

The WSF is talking place in Tunis this year — and apparently features a strong anti-Islamist sentiment, as well as strong sentiment against the perceived backers of Islamism — Qatar and… the United States:

With strong Arab participation, the forum’s opening day witnessed slogans calling for “bread, freedom and social justice,” which echoed the demands and ambitions of the now two-year-old popular uprisings across the region.

Flags of Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Syria, Palestine, Morocco and Algeria dominated the scene, waved by participating groups as they converged on 14 Janvier (January) Square, named to commemorate the Tunisian revolution, where tens of thousands gathered to start the opening march.

“The people of Tunisia are free people … No to America, No to Qatar,” was one of the chants voiced by Tunisian groups in reference to the countries believed to be allies of the ruling Islamist Nahda Party.

Pictures of slain leftist figure Shokry Belaid, who was killed — allegedly by Salafists — in February, were seen throughout the forum. Young children wore his image on their jackets, while many wore pins with his picture.

The famous, “The people want the fall of the regime” slogan was also repeatedly chanted.

Barbed wire, police guards, and armored vehicles surrounded the Ministry of Interior located only metres away from the central square where the forum was launched, forcing the marches to redirect their path.

“The interior ministry are thugs,” Tunisian and Egyptian activists — whose struggle was largely directed against police brutality — jointly chanted when passing by security forces.

Other common chants condemned the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood, whose parties now dominate parliaments in Egypt and Tunisia and from which the Egyptian president hails.

“Down with the rule of the Supreme Guide,” the Egyptians chanted.

“El-Ghanoushi is a murderer,” chanted Tunisian activists, holding the head of the Nahda Party accountable for Beleid’s death.

Street cafes and restaurants were crowded with the masses who came to participate. Political side chats could be heard coming from all different corners. Arab activists were sharing experiences.

I guess the new themes in Arab leftism are anti-Brotherhood — as a tool of Western neoliberalism. If someone had told me that in 2010 I would have thought them crazy.

AsidesThe Editorswsf, Left
What is to be done: The Website as an Organizer

What is to be done: The Website as an Organizer

Even if like me you're a bourgeois reactionary, you should read Hossam el-Hamalawy's fascinating post on the relaunch of the Egyptian Revolutionary Socialists website. He digs through the latest data on mobile and internet penetration in Egypt to develop an online strategy for a group whose focus (in terms of reporting) is highlighting the plight of the working poor. Some really smart political media  strategy there.

The radical left always eats itself

A statement by the (Trotskyite) Committee of the Fourth International:

The petty-bourgeois Revolutionary Socialists (RS) group has endorsed the candidate of the right-wing Muslim Brotherhood (MB), Mohamed Mursi, against Ahmed Shafiq in the second round of the June 16-17 Egyptian presidential elections. The presidential elections are the first since mass working class protests toppled US-backed dictator President Hosni Mubarak last year.

In a May 28 statement titled “Down with Shafiq... Down with the new Mubarak” the RS claim that a vote for the Islamist Mursi would be a means to defend “democratic and social gains” of the revolution against the “counterrevolutionary candidate” Shafiq. The latter was the last prime minister under Mubarak.

The RS write that a “victory of Shafiq in the second round means a great loss of the revolution.” They “therefore call on all forces of reform and revolution and all other candidates affiliated with the revolution to form a national front against the candidate standing on the side of the counterrevolution.”

The statement calls upon the MB to make a pledge to form a presidential coalition with Nasserist candidate Hamdeen Sabahi and the liberal Islamist candidate Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh as vice presidents and to choose a prime minister from outside the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), the political arm of the MB.

The RS’ support for the MB, a government of national unity with right-wing figures, and the fraudulent framework of the US-backed “democratic transition” once again exposes the counterrevolutionary role of the petty-bourgeois “left.”

Can't make this stuff up.

Incidentally, the decision to support Morsi was controversial among the RS — many inside the movement wanted to boycott. The RS have been one of the more interesting movements in Egypt since the revolution. While they are tiny, they appear to have the discipline to stay on message and be much more vocal than their numbers would normally allow. But for a movement that does not believe in electoral democratic politics their stance is a little strange. Perhaps it's best explained by the fact that if Shafik wins, they will be the first easy target for the regime to go after.

[Via the very talented Evan Hill

Chairman of Ghazl Mahalla sacked

Al-Ahram announced this morning that Mahmoud Gabali, the chairman of Mahalla for Spinning and Weaving, has been sacked and that workers would be given 135 days of pay. The decision, taken by the company's board, was based on accounting inconsistencies detected by the Central Auditing Agency, a government watchdog. Apparently the audit uncovered irregularities in inventory stock, large discounts given to local traders, and other possible signs of mismanagement or corruption.

The decision appears to meet most of the pay-related demands of the workers and has been greeted with joy by those who organized the biggest strikes in decades at the factory this year. It appears the government has finally shown sense and investigated the allegations made by the workers regarding the chairman of the company. This will no doubt encourage workers elsewhere to persevere with their own demands. I am certain that Hossam, who is traveling at the moment, will follow up with more details once he gets news from his labor activist contacts.

Update: Here is an English report.