Early this morning, pro Morsi protesters were attacked by the Egyptian military. Some fifty were reported killed and hundreds wounded. According to some reports, the dead included some shot in the head. There are also reports of the use of exploding bullets by the military.
The military claims that they were under attack, including by gun fire. However, David Kirkpatrick of the New York Times reports: “The armed forces, on the other hand, claimed that Mr. Morsi’s supporters had attacked them first with rocks, gunfire, and army-issue tear gas bombs, though dozens of witnesses — including some of Mr. Morsi’s opponents — disputed that account.”
Such repression will have serious consequences. First of all, it will harden the support for Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood. Any serious thoughts towards a suicide bombing/individual terror campaign will tend to be strengthened. Such a campaign would be a serious set back for the revolution as a whole. It would divide the country, make public meetings and protests dangerous, and give the military an excuse for further repression.
Furthermore, this repression will not be confined to the Muslim Brotherhood and their supporters. That is especially so as the appointment of Ziad Bahaa-Eldin as Prime Minister was just announced. Bahaa-Eldin is described as a “London trained” economist and a “technocrat”. These are the same types who have been imposing austerity on millions of workers and peasants around the world. Indeed, according to reports, Bahaa-Eldin too has called for “economic reforms”. In modern language, such reforms mean allowing the “free” market to completely plunder society. In the case of Egypt, it would mean cutting the fuel subsidy and reducing government employment as well, possibly, as allowing the Egyptian pound to sink, meaning price increases.
Inevitably, there would be mass protests if this were to happen, and the military would be just as inclined to attack those protests as they attacked the Muslim Brotherhood protest earlier today.
Police beat anti-austerity protesters in Greece in 2012
If capitalism in the United States is increasingly a disaster for workers here, what chance is there for capitalism in countries like Egypt? That is the issue that the world revolt against austerity and repression must answer. And it must start to organize centers of workers’ power to provide an alternative. In the case of Egypt, in the past during the occupation of Tahrir Square and other squares there were occupation committees that could have started to become such centers. How and through what bodies such centers can arise today can only be answered by those in the struggle in Egypt, themselves.