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Yesterday's massacre in Cairo is proof, if ever more was needed, that counter-revolutions are always bloodier than revolutions

The military's crackdown on the demonstrations for the return of Morsi was the bloodiest day since the start of the revolution. It is also not the first such bloodshed recently: dozens were killed in the Republican Guards Massacre only days after the coup.

The bloodiness of these incidents should not surpise us. The army is detemined to shoot opposition off the streets. The message is clear: demonstrate and die.

The first right that was won in Tahrir Square in January 2011 - a right won by the very act of doing it - was the right to protest.

And it was a right paid for in the blood of the hundreds who died there and in the battle for the streets across Egypt in those days.

Since then the revolution has advanced, and retreated, and advanced again. Battles have been won and lost. Some institutions have proved remarkably impervious to change, whilst other new ones, such as independent trade unions, have sprung up.

But it is the right to demonstrate, the right to protest in the streets that remained the most important gain of the revolution. It is this right that is being taken back by the military.

This is all a consequence of the military coup which overthrew Morsi. And if anyone doubted at the time what was happening it is clear now. The liberals and secularists co-opted by the regime as camouflage are now being burnt away in the flames of repression - the likes of El Baradei - at best shown up for their impotence and naivety, at worst for complicity. The military is back in control.

Since they overthrew Morsi they have progressively clamped down and been reversing the process of the revolution.

Thousands have been arrested including much of the leadership of the Brotherhood. Ex-generals and military men have been appointed as "govenors" across the country. Fear has seeped through society of a return to the old regime.

The feloul, "the remnants" as supporters of the old regime are known, have reconstituted themselves. No longer are they the rag-bag force of camel riders and hoodlums that Mubarak mobilised to attack the defenders of Tahrir Square, they have regrouped as a "party of order" able to mobilise large numbers into the streets.

On the international front Egypt is reassuming its role as number one ally of Israel, as Hamas is clamped down on and tunnels into Gaza are closed. Their commitment to old alliances is reaffirmed.

Morsi himself has been held in jail since the coup, threatened with trial on charges of incitement to murder, and even the crime of escaping from jail during the revolution. The latter charge seems to make a crime of the revolution itself.

The overthrow of the presidency was almost immediately followed by the disbanding of the upper house of parliament, the Shura Council. Of course the lower house had already been dissolved last year by the courts, still themselves packed with Mubarak loyalists.

All the national elections held since the revolution have now in effect been annulled by the military. The institutions created have been axed and increasing numbers of those elected are in jail.

Having hounded the Brotherhood from power the military's unchallenged domination of the state has been reasserted.

It was only a matter of time before they flexed their muscles and the military-run state decided to reassert its power over society and again tried take control of the streets, a control that in Egypt means the complete prohibition of protest.

And this is the reason for the bloodshed in Cairo and across Egypt. They want to end the revolutionary process that has empowered society. Either the repression must be stopped or the revolution will be.

Tagged under: Middle East Egypt
Alastair Stephens

Alastair Stephens

Alastair Stephens has been a socialist his whole adult life and has been active in Unison and the TGWU. He studied Russian at Portsmouth, Middle East Politics at SOAS and writes regularly for the Counterfire website.

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