UPRISING OF THE MASSES IN NORTH AFRICA AND THE ARABIC PEOPLE
THE SOLUTION: SECULAR GOVERNMENTS OF WORKERS AND THE OPPRESSED
The recent uprisings and massive protests, in some cases with insurrectional characteristics that started in Tunisia, continued in Algeria, Yemen, Morocco, Jordan and caused the overthrow of Mubarak in Egypt, the most important country in the region, do not seem to have an end in sight, geographically or politically. Currently Gadhafi is causing a bloodbath in Libya in his attempt to hold on to power.
Different analysts have speculated that these social explosions are a product of the economic crisis in Europe, particularly in France, England, Belgium and Italy. And they are correct in that the intensification of poverty, unemployment and lack of housing in the region have acted as an impetus to the present situation. However their analysis is incomplete. Equally important is the political/ideological and cultural development in the region.
The persistence of corrupt dictatorial governments, which have sold out the people and resources of the Middle East to allow for the growth of US, European, and Israeli colonialism coupled with the Western aggression in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as Western support for Israeli policy in Gaza and Palestine, have created mass frustration. These are some of the issues that have a deep impact on the consciousness of the masses and are as important as the economic causes. The governments of Tunisia, Algeria and Egypt, and many others, have built their regimes on the armed forces and on a continuous struggle against Fundamentalist Islamism which all of them see as an immediate and substantial danger.
The military regime in Algeria and the dictatorship of Mubarak in Egypt have been able to survive, until recently, Muslim uprisings and in the case of Algeria, a civil war.
In the case of Egypt, Mubarak was the vice-president of Anwar El Sadat when Sadat was assassinated in 1981 by radical Islamists for his role in the peace treaty with Israel and for his repression of Islamist fundamentalists. Since then Mubarak has survived various Islamist political rebellions that were suppressed by force and many assassination attempts.
These were not isolated exceptions; this has been the general tendency of events in all Middle Eastern and African countries in the last decades. The secular leadership of a dozen Arab and African countries, with nationalist bourgeoisie governments since World War II, which considered themselves independent, were confronted by the full weight of imperialism and Israel, and each one was destroyed. These governments were then transformed into repressive regimes.
The overthrow of Ben Bella in Algeria, the assassination of Patrice Lumumba in the Congo, the downfall of Nasser and the United Arab Republic are only a few of the historic overthrows of governments and nationalist bourgeoisie projects that have followed after anti-colonial revolutions on the continent.
As part of their imperialist strategy, Israel and the United States supported the strengthening of fundamentalist groups in order to undermine the post-colonial secular regimes and governments of the Middle East-and in the case of Afghanistan to eliminate the Soviet influence.
From these groups, new leadership emerged in a number of countries, still secular, generally based around the armed forces, and friendly with imperialism in order to guarantee their existence and survival. But increasingly fundamentalist Islamism has turned against their former imperial sponsors and responded to the anti-Israeli demands of the masses in the Middle East, not in order to end imperialism but in order to impose governments of a reactionary nature and to become a player in world politics.
Fundamentalism, although it utilizes the economic and democratic demands of the people in these regions, once it becomes the ruling power, attempts to create Islamic republics that are reactionary and antidemocratic by definition, like all the sectarian religious governments of that kind. For example the regime in Iran, the Taliban in Afghanistan, which also, ironically mirror the Jewish Zionist State.
The current reactionary, imperialist governments of North Africa and the Middle East which are based on repressive force continue to contain a highly progressive contradiction, which is that they maintain to some extent a nationalist, secular character in their governments and regimes. This aspect legitimates their existence.
However, this secularism sometimes had to be implemented by force because, having been modeled on the values and culture of imperialist countries and societies, it was often rejected by Arab culture.
This is the moment in history where new rebellions are taking place. In addition, Islamic fundamentalism dominates in Iran, Lebanon (Hezbollah), large parts of Palestine (Hamas), and has influence within the masses and paramilitary organizations in Egypt, Algeria, Morocco, Yemen, Sudan, entire regions of African countries like Nigeria, Pakistan, Indonesia and other countries. It is important to notice, in the same vein as those groups, the “Muslim Brotherhood” that today is struggling for the leadership of the revolutionary process of Egypt and other countries.
This accelerated expansion of Islamic Fundamentalism in the region and the world responds to the lack of clear revolutionary leadership for the masses confronted with decades of misery, imperialist attacks and dictatorial regimes.
This is how we discern an apparent “alley without an exit”, a struggle between secular, corrupt, dictatorial governments, that include the Palestinian Authority of the PLO on one side and the Islamic reaction on the other. This can only be resolved through a decisive intervention by the working class movement that has had important developments in countries like Egypt and Tunisia, and from the left that is developing in Egypt, Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia.
These two forces are necessary to complete the struggle for democratic and social transformations in the context of secular and worker run governments. These transformations would include: employment for all, housing, nationalization of big business, transportation, exports, etc, under the workers control.
These changes will also include the urgent resolution of the environmental demands in the face of the devastating exploitation of minerals and agricultural resources, destruction of the jungles, pollution, etc. Changes must also include the provision of clean water (a critical necessity of the North and Central region of Africa and also in the whole Arab world) and sanitation services for everyone.
For this it is necessary that the secular revolutionary forces are the vanguard of the overthrow of these dictatorial governments. They must appeal to the masses by fighting for a program that takes back from Islamic fundamentalism, the flags of the struggle for the improvement of life conditions for workers and the people, the defeat of imperialism and its regional ally, the Zionist government of Israel.
In the course of these struggles the unity of action in the protests and strikes is necessary and obligatory against the governments in the regions. This unity of action with all of the social classes, organizations, and with the secular and democratic leaders is necessary in order to guarantee the definitive and lasting separation of church and state. Additionally, it is crucial that the movement, of workers, peasants and soldiers who oppose these governments and regimes, organized through their own democratic methods and coordinators, will take over the government.
The formation of a front of the workers and the left is a strategic objective in order to achieve this end and to stand as a real alternative to the imperialist forces or fundamentalist Islamism, who will compete for power.
This front would call for the centrality of the working class and the workers in the process of transformation, in direct alliance with the peasant and popular masses, the dissolution of the armed forces in these countries, and the preparation for all of the possible and necessary forms of struggle.
From all of the countries of the world, the working class, the left and the democratic and secular sectors must support those organizations that struggle on the only path that guarantees the true economic and social liberation of the Arab people, of North Africa and of the Middle East: that of secular, socialist, democratic and working class governments, based on new institutions created by the masses in the struggle against the old order.