Worker unrest heating up in Egypt again.

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Khawaga
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Sep 9 2011 18:17
Worker unrest heating up in Egypt again.

A short summary from Per Bjorklund's blog. Not surprising that it's happening now. Political activity typically goes down during Ramadan, but start up right after. Protesters taking to the streets in Cairo again, attacking the Israeli embassy today.

Per Bjorklund wrote:
By the end of Ramadan was not only appropriate, Gaddafi in Libya and escalating protests against the regime in Syria, but also a renewed wave of strikes in Egypt. The past week of strikes or demonstrations carried out by postal workers across the country (who has recently formed a new union) workers in the Cairo metro, medics in Luxor, cleaners in Assiut, and a number of other groups. This Saturday is expected to Egyptian doctors once again go on strike, as thousands of textile workers in Mahalla, and in many other sectors have similar actions promised for next week - according to journalist and blogger Hossam el-Hamalawy, up to a quarter of a million workers and shut down work of any strike enforced. The requirements vary, but usually revolves around both the wages of employment conditions - not least the fact that both the state and the private sector later in the growing reliance on temporary contracts to discipline the workforce.
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Sep 9 2011 20:22

It's a bit - Dutch though. Can you give us a summary?

Attacking the Israeli embassy sounds very bad news, unless they are expressing their solidarity with the protests in Israel....Anti-zionism has been used in the past in Egypt to divert workers' struggles towards imperialist war.

Mark.
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Sep 9 2011 22:41
Alf wrote:
Attacking the Israeli embassy sounds very bad news, unless they are expressing their solidarity with the protests in Israel....Anti-zionism has been used in the past in Egypt to divert workers' struggles towards imperialist war.

After the Eilat attacks, followed by the Israelis killing Egyptian border guards, it looked more like the protesters encouraging war while the military seemed keen to avoid any escalation.

I don't see much risk of them showing solidarity with the Israeli protests.

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Sep 9 2011 23:28

I agree, it was the bad news aspect I was stressing. In any Arab country, It would be a big step for open expressions of solidarity to take place towards the movement in Israel. But the latter can still be having a positive impact on the more reflective minorities produced by the 'Arab spring'.

Mark.
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Sep 10 2011 00:06

I hope there is a positive impact but the only expressions of solidarity I've heard of so far have been from some Palestinians. Pro-Palestinian campaigners elsewhere seem to be making a big deal of opposing the Israel protests, which doesn't make much sense to me but it seems like the automatic reaction.

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Sep 10 2011 00:13

It doesn't surprise me that "pro-Palestinian" nationalists and leftists oppose the movement in Israel. Their whole ideology is based on seeing all Israelis as a part of a single privileged colonialist block. And in effect they do the same with the Palestinians, denying all class differences among them.

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Sep 10 2011 00:14

By the way Khawaga, apologies for my stupid request above - I clicked on the link and made my post without actually reading the bit you had translated.

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Sep 10 2011 10:02

disappointing to read that certain "anarcho"syndicalists celebrate the nationalist degeneration of this current protests:

http://she2i2.blogspot.com/2011/09/photos-protests-clashes-outside-zionist.html

no1
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Sep 10 2011 10:17
subprole wrote:
disappointing to read that certain "anarcho"syndicalists celebrate the nationalist degeneration of this current protests:

http://she2i2.blogspot.com/2011/09/photos-protests-clashes-outside-zionist.html

Where does it "celebrate"? Looks like a reasonably neutral photo report to me.

Mark.
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Sep 10 2011 11:24

Egypt on alert after Israel embassy stormed in Cairo (BBC)

Israeli diplomats evacuated after Egyptians storm embassy in Cairo (Haaretz)

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Sep 10 2011 10:25

well, ranting against the "Zionist embassy" and depicting this kind of nationalist protest as heroic resistance doesn't seem very "neutral" to me.

Mark.
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Sep 10 2011 11:34

Al Masry Al Youm yesterday

Quote:
Around 30,000 protesters gathered in Tahrir Square Friday to protest the ruling military council's performance and their numbers continued to rise into the late afternoon for the demonstration dubbed “Correcting the Path of the Revolution.”

Some of those present since midday prayers were discouraged that turnout was lower than organizers had hoped for, however the crowd was steadily swelling and was expected to reach 50,000 before the demonstration’s scheduled 6 pm end time.

“It is the first Friday after Ramadan, and summertime. I believe that the number will increase in the coming demonstrations,” said political activist and blogger Ahmed Gharbeia.

Several marches feeding into Tahrir from around Cairo have been adding a steady stream of protesters. One group came from the Israeli Embassy in Dokki, while the April 6 Youth Movement also came from Mohandiseen with at least 500 supporters.

Islamist groups were, as expected, not present in the square. April 6, secular revolutionary groups, as well as the football fans known as Ahly and Zamalek “Ultras” led most of the chants.

The Ultras, who have been active in many demonstrations throughout the revolution, came in the wake of clashes at an Ahly soccer game, where 90 fans were arrested.  Around 200 Ultras marched to the Ministry of Interior to protest the arrests, demand police reform and chant against former Minister Habib al-Adly.

Adly is facing trial, along with former President Hosni Mubarak, on charges of killing protesters during the revolution.

“The Interior Ministry before the revolution is the same as after the revolution in how it treats us soccer supporters,” said Qadry Adel, 21.

From the Arabist blog

Quote:
Yesterday was a long, hot, busy day in Cairo. As darkness fell, protests were taking place in Tahrir (against the proposed election law and suspected collusion/incompetence in Mubarak's trial) and in front of the High Court (in favour of judicial independence). Young, energetic, overwhelmingly male crowds were also busy knocking down the recently erected protective wall around the Israeli Embassy and reportedly removing the large eagle motif and most of the letters from the wall of the Ministry of Interior, leaving anti-army and anti-police graffiti in its place. 

A lot of these young men were reportedly football ultras. These obsessive and aggressive fans -- who have experience clashing with the police -- were also at the vanguard of a lot of the revolution's fighting. In fact, I heard so much about them that I sat down with one, a Zamalek White Knight, a few months back.

A self-described anarchist, G. has shoulder-length hair, and a sweet, shambling manner. I wouldn't have guessed his long and deep familiarity with violence. Police beatings broke one of his eardrums, afer a soccer match, and his jaw, after a demo (he is a rare ultra/activist -- most fans are not overtly political, with the exception of the Palestinian cause). He also got shot in the leg on January 28. He says ultras are "freedom fighters" and "against everyone" -- especially any figure or sign of authority. The revolution, in its early days, "was a fight with the police, and that's our fight." Ultras, he says "don't give a fuck about politics or the stability of the country. Zamalek is our country and Al Ahly is their country." 

It's thanks to him that I know that the acronym A.C.A.B. -- which I know notice everywhere on the walls of Cairo -- means "All Cops Are Bastards." 

Zamalek and Al Ahly -- the two Cairo teams whose rivalry in Egypt is historic and identity-defining -- came together yesterday to take on the police (who seemingly decided to skip the date) after huge clashes a few days ago following a football match at the end of which the police reportedly shut off the lights and charged the stands. What drove them to it? Apparently, this chant by Ahlawy ultras:

‎كان دايما فاشل .. في الثانويه .. يادوب جاب .. 50% .. بالرشوه خلاص الباشا اتعلم .. وخد شهاده ب100 كليه ..ياغراب ومعشش .. جوا بيتنا .. بتدمر ليه .. متعه حياتنا .. مش هنمشي علي مزاجك .. ارحما من طله جنابك .. لفق لفق .. في القضيه .. هي دي .. عاده الدخليه .. ممسوك مكتوبلي ارهابي دولي .. ماسكشمروخ وبغني اهلي 

The incredibly disciplined and terrifying hyped-up fans are chanting (in my poor translation):

"He was always a loser...he got a 50% on his high-school exams...with a bribe he finally learned...and got a 100 college degree...you crow...in our home...why do you ruin...our fun...we won't do as you tell us...spare us your face...cook up your case...that's what the Interior's like...I'm caught and called a terrorist...I hold a flare and sing Ahly!" 

The chant is one long taunt of police officers, the "losers" who have to bribe their way through life and who fabricate charges against anyone they lay hands on. This follows on a much more foul-mouthed gem of a chant from the Zamalek White Knights, performed shortly after the revolution. 

 The words are: 

‎مش ناسيين التحرير يا ولاد ال@$!%ـ
‎دي الثورة كانت بالنسبة ليكوا نكسة
‎هنروح و نقول لمين .. ظباط م@%!ـن
‎اخدتو علقة ماخدتوةاش في سنين

"We haven't forgotten Tahrir, you sons of *$%^&!
The revolution was your naksah [catastrophe]
we'll tell anyone.. officers, pimps
you took a beating like you haven't had in years"

In the end, most of the ultras' violent energy got focused on the Israeli Embassy yesterday. Which seems pretty convenient for the authorities (although now, as diplomatic and political repercussions make themselves felt, they may think so less). If the embassy hadn't been there, what might they have torn down?

no1
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Sep 10 2011 11:35
subprole wrote:
well, ranting against the "Zionist embassy" and depicting this kind of nationalist protest as heroic resistance doesn't seem very "neutral" to me.

You have moved the goalpost - I asked where the celebration was. Can you point out where you see the words "heroic resistance" in the report?
I assume that the deviation from the language used by mainstream UK/US media is probably due to the writer not being a native English speaker or growing up in an Anglo-Saxon country . For all I know Zionist (embassy) and Israeli (embassy) may be synonyms in Arabic.

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Sep 10 2011 11:55
no1 wrote:
For all I know Zionist (embassy) and Israeli (embassy) may be synonyms in Arabic.

this is a good point...not sure though...

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Sep 10 2011 18:37
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You have moved the goalpost - I asked where the celebration was. Can you point out where you see the words "heroic resistance" in the report?

I don't want to reply to this kind of this stupid questions because everyone who read Charbel's article knows that the author didn't explicitly describe the attack as "heroic resistance" etc., but it is quite obvious that this "anarcho"syndicalist journalist supports it.
Apart from that it is clear that the Egyptian state has an interest in such events where working class resistance is "channeled" into nationalism. Don't you have to say something about that?

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For all I know Zionist (embassy) and Israeli (embassy) may be synonyms in Arabic.

Doesn't make really sense if you take a closer look at Charbel's post.

Mark.
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Sep 10 2011 16:43
subprole wrote:
Apart from that it is clear that the Egyptian state has an interest in such events where working class resistance is "channeled" into nationalism.

This is the obvious assumption to make but the evidence in this particular case doesn't look that clear to me. I doubt that the Egyptian government wants to be pushed towards a military confrontation with Israel any more than it wants working class resistance.

The breaking news in Haaretz suggests that the events at the Israeli embassy are leading to a political crisis in Egypt but I haven't seen anything that gives more details and I've no idea how accurate this is.

Quote:
Report: Egypt government weighs stepping down in light of attacks on Israel Embassy (Ch. 10)

Edit: From Haaretz:

Quote:
On Saturday, Egypt's ruling military announced it was raising the country's alertness level in the wake of Friday's incident.

A governmental source said that Egyptian Prime Minister Essam Sharaf was holding an emergency meeting with several cabinet members as well as members of Egypt's ruling military council to discuss the night's events.

Egypt's military rulers rejected on Saturday the resignation of the country's government , broadcaster Al Arabiya reported.The resignation was presented by Prime Minister Essam Sharaf at a meeting with the ruling military council, according to the television report.

From the Arabist:

On the Israeli embassy incident

Bibi is in trouble

AJE liveblog

no1
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Sep 10 2011 12:51
subprole wrote:
Quote:
You have moved the goalpost - I asked where the celebration was. Can you point out where you see the words "heroic resistance" in the report?

I don't want to reply to this kind of this stupid questions because everyone who read Charbel's article knows that the author didn't explicitly describe the attack as "heroic resistance" etc., but it is quite obvious that this "anarcho"syndicalist journalist supports it.

I admire your ability to deduce people's political positions from things they haven't said! Can you tell the rest of us how you have acquired such advanced analytical skill? /sarcasm

Actually, to tell you the truth, I find it quite tiresome how some libertarian communists categorise on the basis of a few criteria such as nationalism, and then pretend that this can substitute for proper analysis of historic events. As world views go, that's worse than religion IMHO.

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Sep 10 2011 18:08
Alf wrote:
By the way Khawaga, apologies for my stupid request above - I clicked on the link and made my post without actually reading the bit you had translated.

It was in Swedish, and I just made a machine translation (just checked if it was readable).

And the embassy thing... well I think it's for sure a distraction. The regime doesn't even have to point the finger towards Israel anymore; it's so ingrained in the Arab consciousness that Israel is really the bad guy that it's not even questioned whether other more productive things could be done to support the Palestinians (such as toppling SCAF). Even during the Tahrir occupations before Ramadan huge crowds would go to the embassy to protest there rather than providing the numbers needed in Tahrir to stave off potential attacks from the police (at least on this there were disagreements). If I were SCAF I would just channel all my propaganda towards Israel...

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Sep 10 2011 18:40
Mark. wrote:
subprole wrote:
Apart from that it is clear that the Egyptian state has an interest in such events where working class resistance is "channeled" into nationalism.

This is the obvious assumption to make but the evidence in this particular case doesn't look that clear to me. I doubt that the Egyptian government wants to be pushed towards a military confrontation with Israel any more than it wants working class resistance.

The military regime, as before Mubarak was displaced, wants to be seen as "holding back" from military confrontation with Israel. That way mass activity can be directed to convincing them to stop holding back, rather than abolishing them altogether. It helps them domestically by channeling anti-regime protests towards anti-Zionism ("those damned Zionists, if we could only remove their influence from our government, things would be better"), and internationally, because it gives them leverage when setting policy with regards to Israel and when dealing with their US backers ("we would love to be more helpful, but we have this popular anti-Israel sentiment we need to deal with").

Mark.
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Sep 10 2011 18:52

Khawaga, Tojiah - that makes sense.

This was posted in the comments for the Arabist article:

Quote:
However, do you really think the army couldn't have taken any steps to avoid this? Are we to believe that if an angry, determined crowd targets a different embassy tomorrow, they will also be allowed to breach it? I think the army could have prevented people from approaching the area (as they did when protesters tried to reach the Ministry of Defense). Or they could have stood on their tanks and tried to talk the crowd down (once the wall was knocked down). They very clearly from the beginning had decided to stand aside. I wasn't there, I was watching on TV, but for hours and hours the crowd was allowed to operate with complete freedom. I'm not sure what the logic was -- let the kids run wild, it will make them look bad, seems to be one theory -- but I think there was a logic.
Angelus Novus
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Sep 10 2011 18:57
subprole wrote:
disappointing to read that certain "anarcho"syndicalists celebrate the nationalist degeneration of this current protests

How come German poseurs like you only get worked up about nationalism when it's directed against Israel?

Berlin-Brussels has its jackboot on the neck of the entire European periphery from Spain to Greece, but x like you get your panties bunched up when people vandalize the embassy of an atomic power.

admin: no flaming

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Sep 10 2011 19:25

Interesting recent paper suggests that shutting down the internet actually helps revolution, cites Egypt as example.
Dictatorship 101: killing the internet plays into the hands of revolutionaries

Quote:
In the euphoria following the downfall of the Mubarak regime in Egypt, Wael Ghonim, the so-called “hero” of the revolution proclaimed:

“Technology played a great role here. You know, it helped keeping people informed, it helped making all of us collaborate.”

He said the Egyptian government was “stupid” to close down the internet because that showed the world Mubarak was afraid. The revolutionaries even had back-up plans in the event of a government closure of internet access.

But according to Yale scholar Navid Hassanpour, the apparent positive role the internet played in the revolution has been misrepresented.

Yes, shutting down the internet backfired for the Mubarak regime, but not in the way Ghonim and many others assumed.

According to Hassanpour, it was only after access to the internet was removed that the revolution began to take off.

In a widely circulated American Political Science Association conference paper, he argues that shutting down the internet did make things difficult for sustaining a centralised revolutionary movement in Egypt.

But, he adds, the shutdown actually encouraged the development of smaller revolutionary uprisings at local levels where the face-to-face interaction between activists was more intense and the mobilisation of inactive lukewarm dissidents was easier.

In other words, closing down the internet made the revolution more diffuse and more difficult for the authorities to contain.

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Sep 10 2011 23:16
Quote:
How come German poseurs like you only get worked up about nationalism when it's directed against Israel? Berlin-Brussels has its jackboot on the neck of the entire European periphery from Spain to Greece, but phonies like you get your panties bunched up when people vandalize the embassy of an atomic power.

1. Listen, Angelus Novus: I don't care at all if embassies or other state buildings get trashed, but it cannot be wrong to criticize it if there are obviously nationalist motives behind it.

2. I've posted a lot about the situation in Greece and I'm observing the class struggles there very, very closely while people like you are translating useless academic rubbish from Ingo Elbe for your university or whatever. But of course you can also continue posting your bollocks, stupid American citizen!

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Sep 10 2011 23:46

Yeah, Australians making fun of Americans for being stupid. Quite.

Could you possibly take this grudge match some other thread, thanks?

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Sep 11 2011 01:28
Quote:
Could you possibly take this grudge match some other thread, thanks?

Well, I wouldn't have anything to object if "Angelus Novus" brainless comment which contains nothing except speculations about national identities gets deleted (-also my response).

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Sep 11 2011 01:42

Then don't respond to his trolling. I was talking to both of you. None of this has to do with what's going on in Egypt, which is what I assume people want to read about when they open a thread about worker unrest in Egypt.

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Sep 11 2011 07:48

This was interesting:
"However, do you really think the army couldn't have taken any steps to avoid this? Are we to believe that if an angry, determined crowd targets a different embassy tomorrow, they will also be allowed to breach it? I think the army could have prevented people from approaching the area (as they did when protesters tried to reach the Ministry of Defense). Or they could have stood on their tanks and tried to talk the crowd down (once the wall was knocked down). They very clearly from the beginning had decided to stand aside. I wasn't there, I was watching on TV, but for hours and hours the crowd was allowed to operate with complete freedom. I'm not sure what the logic was -- let the kids run wild, it will make them look bad, seems to be one theory -- but I think there was a logic".

As others have said, there are good 'social' reasons (ie, diverting potential social unrest) for the government allowing this to happen. There is also an imperialist dimension. The attack takes place at a time when Turkey is also using anti-Israel rhetoric to bid for a leading role in the Middle East, and Erdogan is due to visit Cairo:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/sep/10/egypt-israeli-embassy-broken-into?INTCMP=ILCNETTXT3487.

Today's Guardian article talks about the possibility of a new Egypt-Turkey alliance based on anti-Israel posturing. But there would also be rivalries between the two powers, attempts to outbid each other as the real anti-Zionists....

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Sep 11 2011 10:00
Quote:
As others have said, there are good 'social' reasons (ie, diverting potential social unrest) for the government allowing this to happen. There is also an imperialist dimension.

Agree with that. As we can see it is also an opportunity for the state to extend the emergency laws:

- http://english.ahram.org.eg/~/NewsContent/1/64/20868/Egypt/Politics-/Egypts-minister-of-information-Emergency-law-reviv.aspx
- http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/news/egypt-reinstates-emergency-laws-after-embassy-attack-1.383691

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Sep 11 2011 17:51

On embassy attacks; crowds also "menaced" the Saudi Arabian embassy. Now that's an attack that makes more sense considering that Saudi Arabia has done more to fuck up the Arab revolutions than Israel ever has.

Rum Lad
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Sep 11 2011 18:24
Khawaga wrote:
On embassy attacks; crowds also "menaced" the Saudi Arabian embassy. Now that's an attack that makes more sense considering that Saudi Arabia has done more to fuck up the Arab revolutions than Israel ever has.

Do you have any more info on this "menacing" of the Saudi Arabian embassy? I'm intrigued but don't really know what you mean.

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Sep 11 2011 18:48

Unfortunately I don't have much on it. I just read it in a New York Times article.

Quote:
In addition to attacking the Israeli Embassy, witnesses said, protesters also menaced the nearby embassy of Saudi Arabia, which many Egyptians believe has pushed their own government to avoid setting a precedent by taking retribution against Mr. Mubarak. “Saudi Arabia and Mubarak are one hand,” protesters chanted. (Mr. Mubarak is currently on trial for corruption and conspiring in the killing of protesters earlier this year.

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/11/world/middleeast/11egypt.html?ref=middleeast&pagewanted=all