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Arab Uprisings and Global Capitalism

Editors’ note: The following article by a Middle East analyst in the LRNA is based on travel in the region, and interviews with those who were active in the Egyptian uprising.

The Arab world and the Middle East generally have played a critical role in U.S. strategy for global domination. This fact alone could explain why the U.S. has invaded Afghanistan and Iraq and why it has supported the exclusivist state of Israel and the Zionist movement worldwide. It also explains U.S. intervention, both diplomatic and/or military, in Somalia, Ethiopia, the Congo, West Africa and, more recently, Libya.

The current upheaval sweeping the Arab world is unprecedented in the history of the region. It is taking place in a particular international context in which the galloping revolutionary process is overtaking regional and international powers that are working feverishly to contain the forces of change.

The recent global financial and economic crisis is a consequence of a long-run trend of decline in the standard of living of workers in the US and Europe (not to mention Australia, New Zealand and Japan), brought about by the steady introduction of electronic technology into the economy and increasing poverty in the rest of the world, including emerging China. As globalization has generalized the impact of this new technology, the world has been pushed to the breaking point. Africa, for instance, is in social, political and economic chaos. The Congo, Nigeria, South Africa, Egypt, the Sudan and Somalia are but examples.

Resistance to the U.S. imperial project with its strategic goal of maintaining and enhancing its dominance over the global political economy constitutes a main feature of the uprisings in the Middle East.

Recent Developments in the Middle East

The relationship between dictatorships in the respective Arab countries and U.S. imperial dominance of the global economy has not been lost on the youth, protesting in the streets of the Arab world. The infamous history of U.S. diplomacy, military interventions and invasions, and economic policies in the region requires no elaboration for the Arab masses. The ongoing uprisings are part of the struggles of the Arabs to put an end to those imperial practices.

The more intense, widespread and numerous the uprisings, the more of a problem they present to the U.S. imperial project that is trying its best to defeat them with every means at its disposal. The uprisings have spread from Algeria to Tunisia and Egypt and from Yemen to Jordan and Bahrain, then on to Libya, Morocco and Syria, so that scarcely any Arab regime has been immune to them. Coupled with instability, war and occupation in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and Kuwait, not to mention the chronic occupation in Palestine, the uprisings clearly demonstrate not only the escalating fight against the domination of the U.S., but also the tenacity of the U.S. in holding on to its strategic position in the region.

Among those uprisings, the Libyan and Syrian require somewhat different observation from the rest: the Libyan, because of the NATO intervention and the reactionary leadership of the anti-Qaddafi rebels; the Syrian, because of U.S., Western European and Arab and other regional states that have succeeded in large measure to ride the wave of anti-regime protests and to deflect them for their own goals.

Main Features of the Arab Uprisings

The situation in the region is chaotic and in flux, as recent events in Egypt clearly demonstrate. The take over of the Israeli Embassy by demonstrators in Cairo is but one example. While the U.S. is banking on the Egyptian Supreme Military Council and having dialogue with the Muslim Brothers, other political forces have moved to maintain the secular character of the uprising and demand political and economic reforms that would guarantee the interests of the majority of the Egyptian masses.

Demands for political and economic reforms in the uprisings remind us of the major role played by the working classes of Tunisia, Egypt and Bahrain in preparation for the uprisings. Egypt, again, provides a clear example. Workers in the main industrial centers had begun demonstrating against the Mubarak regime since at least 2007. The largest of those was on April 6, 2008, when 26,000 workers in one industrial complex went on strike. This event gave rise to the April Sixth youth movement that had subsequently played a significant role in  Thawrat 25 yanayer  [Revolution of 25th January] as it is referred to in Egypt. Subsequent to the April strike, scores of other strikes had taken place, which by the beginning of the uprising had significantly contributed to giving the uprising a secular character and consolidated the political and economic demands of the uprisings.

A main weakness of all the uprisings is that they have suffered from a lack of strategic unity. It would be hard to achieve unity under the situations faced with the uprisings, especially in Tunisia and Egypt. The large and well-organized Islamist coalitions in both countries have no strategic unity with any of the other forces on the ground, except in the case of the Muslim Brothers in Egypt, where these coalitions are tactically allied with neoliberal forces, including forces of the old regime.

New political forces have emerged, especially in Egypt. They have been leading the demonstrations and rallies in the face of those internal and external forces conspiring to maintain a neoliberal regime at peace with the state of Israel, but without Mubarak.

The crisis of global capitalism has engendered resistance and instability across the globe. We are entering a dangerous stage characterized by popular struggles confronting state and imperial powers. Regardless of the outcome, the global capitalist crisis makes it impossible to solve deep-seated problems such as unemployment and poverty that have propelled the Arab uprisings in the first place.

October/December 2011.Vol21.Ed5
This article originated in Rally, Comrades!
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