Put the generals on trial

Egypt's new President Mohamed Morsi has removed the head of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, along with the military chief of staff Sami Hafez Anan and other top-ranking brass. The replacements for these figures--who ruled Egypt in the aftermath of dictator Hosni Mubarak's downfall in February 2011--are all younger and associated with the military's junior officers. Morsi also declared that the SCAF's constitutional "addendum," curbing the powers of the president and giving itself new authority, was null and void.

Morsi's move was the latest episode in a conflict with the SCAF that came to a head during the presidential election campaign in May and June, when the military backed one of its own, Ahmed Shafiq, against Morsi, the candidate of the Muslim Brotherhood. The SCAF also issued a declaration in the aftermath of the election that confirmed the disbanding of parliament ordered by the Supreme Constitutional Court and gave the generals sweeping new powers, including legislative authority and effective veto power in the writing of a new constitution. Morsi has now reversed that decision.

In this statement, the Revolutionary Socialists of Egypt make the case that the generals must not only be fired, but put on trial for their crimes--and that Egyptian workers need to mobilize against further neoliberal measures, whether they come from the military or Morsi.

Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi  (Jonathan Rashad)Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi (Jonathan Rashad)

THE MASSES of the Egyptian people came out on January 25, 2011, to demand the fall of the regime and everything it represented in terms of tyranny, oppression and dependency. Through their steadfastness and the blood of their martyrs, they were able to get rid of the regime's head Hosni Mubarak.

Then the very generals of his military council--those who had shared in his repression and corruption--came out and announced that they had taken power. They tried to deceive the people by claiming to stand with the revolution and protect it, when in fact they were its primary enemies.

But the revolutionary masses were not fooled for a single day. They came out in a roaring wave of revolutionary uprisings to demand the overthrow and trial of the military council.

The masses paid a high price for this. The council of criminals killed and injured young people, assaulted girls, and imprisoned and tortured thousands in the military prisons. Over a year and a half, the masses have offered martyrs to expose the ugly face of the military council.

Its violated legitimacy has fallen away, and it is no longer acceptable that the military council should govern the country. Rather, the council should be put on trial for its crimes against the people and the revolution. Its members deserve to hang on the gallows. Meanwhile, the Muslim Brotherhood stands alongside the military council, defending and justifying its crimes.

Now, President Mohamed Morsi has issued a number of decisions, including the cancellation of the Supplementary Constitutional Declaration and the removal of some members of the military council headed by Tantawi and Anan.

We see these decisions as gains for the revolution. But we affirm that they would not have happened without the sacrifices made by the martyrs and revolutionary masses, particularly during the events at Mohamed Mahmoud Street, the Cabinet Offices and the Ministry of Defense.

If the masses hadn't imposed themselves on the scene with such force, if they hadn't refused to accept the continuing rule of the military council, these decisions would not have been taken.

Nor will the masses accept a "safe exit" for the generals. Morsi promised retribution for the blood of the martyrs. Their killers are the men he has just honored with the highest decorations and medals, instead of transferring them to court on charges of murdering revolutionaries.

The Egyptian revolution called for the cleansing of the security, media and economic institutions of the state from the corrupt military figureheads of the regime. It called for an end to the policies of repression, exploitation and dependency. It did not call for a mere change in personnel.

So how can Gen. Ahmed Fadel, who looted the Suez Canal, be replaced by Gen. Mohab Mamish? The Suez Canal workers went on strike at the start of the revolution to demand Fadel's dismissal, prosecution and replacement by a civilian director.

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SORRY, MORSI, but the revolution is not calling for the replacement of soldiers by more soldiers, or the old regime's remnants by the Brotherhood. Social justice is a fundamental goal of the revolution. It will only be achieved by transforming state institutions to serve the people and by putting wealth into the hands of the poor.

Instead, Morsi offers a neoliberal government which demands the people "ration consumption" as it prepares austerity measures to restart the "wheel of production." Meanwhile, he threatens repression and a "firm hand" in dealing with protests--parroting lines learnt from Mubarak and his military council.

Sorry, Morsi, but the popular masses have had to put up with these policies for decades--and they have paid the price for them in poverty, illness and hunger. They came out into the streets to overthrow these policies and those who impose them. They came out to stop the wheel of looting that is managed in the interests of businessmen to ensure they enjoy wealth created through workers' sweat and blood.

These are the same masses that exploded in protest in the past few days over water shortages and electricity blackouts in the provinces and in Boulaq, where the poor are arrested daily and subjected to all kinds of torture by the police and their mercenaries.

These are not "highway robbers," as they were labeled by the Ministry of the Interior. The ministry repressed them, beat them brutally, arrested them and fabricated charges against them. Why not grab back some of the wealth from businessmen who are sacking workers on a daily basis instead?

Compromising with the regime will not help you, Morsi, because the revolution of the workers, the youth and the poor is not over. It will continue until the overthrow of tyranny, repression and dependency. These policies are still in place, protected by mechanisms of repression which now answer to your orders.

Our revolution is not going to start on August 24. It will not be led by regime remnants like Tawfiq Okasha together with some liberals and "leftists" who are nostalgic for the days of Mubarak, and those who hope to grab a bigger slice of the cake of power and wealth.

Our revolution began on January 25, 2011, and it will continue in the factories, workplaces, universities and schools where the fires which ignited it are still burning: the demands it raised from its first day, demands for bread, freedom, social justice and human dignity.

Glory to the martyrs! Victory to the revolution! All power and wealth to the people!

The Revolutionary Socialists
August 14, 2012

Translation by Anne Alexander