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There are no calls by Egyptian revolutionaries for Western military intervention because they are dying because of it; their enemy is using Western arms, so they are hardly likely to demand more of it.

Egyptian youths show tear gas cannisters made in USA

For lovers of irony there is something to be savoured in the offer to head a government of National Salvation made by Egypt's ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) to Mohammed El-Baradei, the man who tried to halt the Iraq war.

The irony lies in this: SCAF is in hock to the US government to the tune of 1.3 billion dollars annually in military aid.

Indeed only the state of Israel receives more US military aid than the Egyptian state.

Once they had belatedly decided that Mubarak was finished the US were 'one hand' with Egyptian army in dumping the dictator in order to preserve his regime.

And now that this fraud has been exposed for the world to see, now that the government of Essam Sharaf has resigned in disgrace, who do SCAF turn to in one last desperate attempt to erect a civilian facade in front of military rule?

None other than the man who became the bete noir of the US foreign policy elite in his role as IAEA arms inspector in Iraq. None other than the man the Egyptian government tried to deprive of his Egyptian citizenship: Mohammed El-Baradie.

Only the scale of the unrelenting popular pressure of the Egyptian revolution could have got SCAF to make this gamble.

SCAF is not just the armed force of the state in the same sense that we can talk about most armies in the world. It is this, but it is also a very powerful economic actor in its own right.

The Egyptian army directly owns factories and whole sections of the economic infrastructure of Egyptian society. The generals are not just the highly paid protectors of the the state, they are themselves property owning members of this class. In the post-Cold War era the generals joined a financial free-for-all that has seen the military invest in lucrative businesses including  fertilizer and chemical plants, vast real estate holdings, road construction firms, factories that make home appliances, clothing and much more.

‘They have wide-ranging economic interests from bottled water, raising cattle, construction — things far removed from any sort of military industries,’ notes Egypt expert Michael Hanna with the New York-based Century Foundation. The term 'military-industrial complex' may be an overstatement when used about some societies. But it is simply a literal description of the Egyptian ruling elite.

It is this fact, as well as the vital geostrategic role played by the Egyptian state, which underpins the US's relentless support for Mubarak and then for the SCAF government.

The SCAF government was under pressure long before the current crisis. One of the signs of this was its shift in stance towards Israel, significantly modifying the craven pro-Zionist policy of Mubarak, aiding moves to Palestinian unity, and contributing to the international isolation of the Israeli state. The further the revolution gets, the worse the position of both the US and the Israelis will become.

And the Egyptian revolution shows no sign of relinquishing its anti-imperialist stance.

Protesters in Tahrir are outraged to find that the new, toxic, tear gas being used against them is of US origin. Their spokespeople, like actor and activist Khalid Abdallah, are fiercely critical of David Cameron and Hilary Clinton's visits to Tahrir, accompanied by arms dealers.

Despite all that they have suffered in the past few days there are no calls by Egyptian revolutionaries for Western military intervention. They are dying because of it; their enemy is using Western arms, so they are hardly likely to demand more of it.

So the impact of the Egyptian revolution, and the consciousness of many of its activists, is anti-imperialist. This has always been case with respect of Palestine: the most popular flag in Tahrir from the earliest days of the revolution, after the Egyptian flag itself, was the Palestinian flag. The repeated sieges of the Israeli embassy by revolutionary crowds during the last 9 months underline this point.

But now the revolution is facing a SCAF government that is literally dependent on the US for its tanks, guns and tear gas. A blow dealt to SCAF is a blow dealt to US interests in the whole region.

From Stop the War Coalition site

Tagged under: Middle East Egypt
John Rees

John Rees

John Rees is a writer, broadcaster and activist, and is one of the organisers of the People’s Assembly. His books include ‘The Algebra of Revolution’, ‘Imperialism and Resistance’, ‘Timelines, A Political History of the Modern World’, ‘The People Demand, A Short History of the Arab Revolutions’ (with Joseph Daher), ‘A People’s History of London’ (with Lindsey German) and The Leveller Revolution. He is co-founder of the Stop the War Coalition.

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