Saturday, July 13, 2013

Ikhwan—The Muslim Brotherhood—Reactionary Agents of US Imperialism

An article by Jimmy Jancovich, a communist born in Egypt and living in Paris, called “The Egyptian Revolution and the National Bourgeoisie” in Communist Review is a short review of Egyptian history in the last two centuries describing how Egypt has had several economic advantages since Napoleon, but has been held back by British and now US imperialism.

Jankovich describes how, after WW1, a delegation of Egyptian nationalists went to Versailles to attend the Peace Coference in 1919 to ask for independence. Not surprisingly the request was refused and the British Protectorate re-imposed, causing massive protests—like the ones we have seen recently—that were brutally suppressed by our “heroes”, the British army. In the course of all this trade unions and a communist party were set up, but both were suppressed. Even so they sprang up again a decade or so later in the 1930s. Jancovic goes on:

It was in this context of repression of the democratic and egalitarian national movement that the Moslem Brotherhood (Ikhwan el-Muslimeen, in Arabic) was formed as part of the reactionary backlash. For all its anti-British rhetoric, it was part of the repression of the national movement. Even its Moslem pretensions are fake. In fact, the Ikhwan’s ideology developed into a copy of Wahabism, to such an extent that, in the mid-1930s, its leader Sheikh Hassan al-Banna was so severely criticised that he stopped preaching religion and concentrated on campaigning on the Palestine issue in support of Husseini, the pro-Nazi leader of the revolt there.

The Wahabi sect, created in what is now Saudi Arabia, was (and is) so retrograde that, from the outset, it was condemned as heretical by all other Moslem trends—and there are a lot of them—be they Sunni or Shi’ite. It only became respectable when its main disciples, the Saudi Arabian and Qatari ruling clans, became rich enough, thanks to oil and US backing, to buy friends and influence people. The financing of the Moslem Brothers began via purely charitable associations in the 1960s and became more openly political in the 1970s.

This is why I object to the use of the term Islamist or Jihadist to describe these various extreme right-wing terrorist groups. They should be called Wahabists, thus placing the blame where it belongs—at the door of America and its main ally in the region, Saudi Arabia. Al Qaida, et al, were from the start US creations. To call them Islamists is to play their game of pretending that they are the true interpreters of the Islamic religion—and to feed Islamophobia in our own country.

In any case, the Ikhwan was just an extreme rightwing group with a taste for gratuitous violence and assassination, and a habit of doing the monarchy’s dirty work for it, while pretending to be ultra-nationalist. Apart from the Ikhwan’s violence against critics and opponents at local level, it assassinated Prime Minister Nokrashi Pasha, a moderate conservative suspected of links to the more liberal-democratic Wafd (“Delegate”, after the Versailles Independence Delegation) Party. It also organised the Cairo fires in 1952 which provided king Farouk with the excuse he needed to dismiss the Wafdists government and replace it by a more conservative one. It was their attempt to assassinate Nasser in 1954 that almost led to the sect’s extinction and made its leaders flee to Switzerland for asylum—you have to be pretty rich to get accepted as a foreign resident in Switzerland! From there they continue to play their old game in Europe while trying to give it a “modern intellectual” image—for European consumption only.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

PEOPLE'S ASSEMBLY: A call to action

More than 4,000 people from trade unions and community campaigns attended the vibrant and successful People’s Assembly Against Austerity om 22 June in London’s Westminster Central Hall. You can read full detailed reports of sessions on the CPB website and on the Morning Star website, below is the final declaration of the event:

We face a choice that will shape our society for decades to come. It is a choice faced by ordinary people in every part of the globe.

We can defend education, health and welfare provision funded from general taxation and available to all, or we can surrender the gains that have improved the lives of millions of people for over more than 50 years.

We do not accept the need for the government’s austerity programme. Banks and the major corporations should be taxed at a rate which can provide the necessary resources.

  • Austerity does not work. It is a failure in its own terms resulting in neither deficit reduction nor growth.
  • It is not just. The government takes money from the pockets of those who did not cause the crisis and rewards those who did.
  • It is immoral. Our children face a bleaker future if our services and living standards are devastated.
  • It is undemocratic. At the last election a majority voted against the return of a Tory government. The Con-Dem coalition has delivered us into the grip of the Tories’ whose political project is the destruction of a universal welfare state.

We therefore choose to resist. We refuse to be divided against ourselves by stories of those on “golden pensions”, or of “scroungers”, or the “undeserving poor’. We do not blame our neighbours, whatever race or religion they maybe. We are not joining the race to the bottom. We stand with the movement of resistance across Europe.

We are clear in our minds that our stand will require us to defend the people’s right to protest, and so we support the right of unions and campaigns to organise and take such action as their members democratically decide is necessary.

We stand with all those who have made the case against the government so far—in the student movement, in the unions, in the many campaigns to defend services, the NHS, and in the Coalition of Resistance, the People’s Charter, UK Uncut, the environmental movement and the Occupy movement.

We do not seek to replace any organisations fighting cuts. All are necessary. But we do believe that a single united national movement is required to challenge more effectively a nationally led government austerity programme.

We have a plain and simple goal—to make government abandon its austerity programme. If it will not it must be replaced with one that will.

We will concentrate on action not words. We aim to provide the maximum solidarity for unions and other organisations and others taking action. We support every and all effective forms action and aim to build a united national movement of resistance.

Our case is clear. The government’s austerity programme does not work—it is unjust, immoral and undemocratic. Alternatives exist. Debts can be dropped. Privatisation can be reversed and common ownership embraced. A living wage can begin to combat poverty. Strong trade unions can help redistribute profit. The vast wealth held by corporations and the trillions held by the super rich in tax havens can be tapped. Green technology, alternatives to the arms industries, a rebuilt infrastructure including growth in manufacturing are all desperately needed. We are fighting for an alternative future for this generation and for those that come after us.

Proposed Actions

  • The People’s Assembly will support every genuine movement and action taken against any and all of the cuts. We support all current industrial actions by the unions. We encourage and will help to organise the maximum solidarity action with the PCS and teaching union members taking protest and strike action the week after the People’s Assembly, as well as with other action by unions planned for the autumn.
  • Peoples Assemblies against the cuts should be organised in towns and cities across our nations, bringing all those fighting the cuts together into a broad democratic alliance on a local basis.
  • The national and the local Assemblies, in partnership with Trades Unions, Trades Councils, campaigning and community groups, can unite our movement and strengthen our campaigns. Local Assemblies will help us to organise a recalled National Assembly to review our work in the early spring of 2014.
  • We will work together with leading experts and campaigners both here and abroad, and friendly think tanks, to develop rapidly key policies and an alternative programme for a new anti-austerity government. We will continue to welcome support from all who fight the cuts.
  • We will call a national day of civil disobedience and direct action against austerity on November 5thand a national demonstration in Spring 2014.
  • We will support the call for local demonstrations on 5thJuly, the 65thBirthday of our NHS and specifically, at Trafford Hospital, Manchester, the birthplace of the NHS.
  • We will work with the trade unions, campaign groups and others to organise and mobilise for a national demonstration at Conservative Party Conference in Manchester in support of our NHS on 29thSeptember 2013.