The popular revolts for bread, democracy and national self-determination create despair among the imperialists and their Arab puppets.
The revolt in Tunisia was the spark that started a fire that is now spreading across North Africa and eastward into the core Arab countries. The popular masses and the youth in the more or less despotic Arab regimes have overcome their fear of state violence, and they will not settle for empty words and promises.
Now the battle is centred on the very pivot of the U.S. strategy for control of the Middle East region; Egypt.
The Tunisian people’s revolt against the regime of President Zine El Abidin Ben Ali has already harvested the first fruits; the old regime’s supporters at home and abroad are being pushed from bulwark to bulwark. Through the establishment of ‘Front of January 14th’, which consists of a number of progressive and national forces, including the Tunisian Communist Workers’ Party, the national and democratic Tunisian revolution has advanced its offensive.
As these words are being written, the masses in Egypt are defying President Mubarak’s web censorship and curfews. Demonstrators have attacked police stations in Cairo, and Mubarak has warned that he will involve the army. That could be a serious mistake. Egypt practises universal conscription. The 340,000-strong Egyptian army is made up of the sons of the people. For the people in the streets it is mainly the police, not the army, they consider to be the enemy.
In the cities of Alexandria and Suez, thousands went into the streets after Friday prayers, and confronted a huge police presence. The mobilisation has been possible despite the fact that the regime has shut down the internet and mobile networks, frightened of the ‘twitter effect’.
Previously, people have poured into the streets of Algeria, Morocco, Yemen and in the Jordanian capital, Amman. All these regimes have been and are instruments of imperialism. They have been assured by the United States that they are safe if they put the neo-liberal dictates of the IMF and the multinational companies into effect, and as long as they openly or secretly contribute to the US-dictated policy of normalisation of relations with Zionism.
The Monetary Fund (IMF) and neo-liberalism
But it is precisely the hunger and mass unemployment that the neo-liberal policies have led to that has angered the masses, the youth in particular, and triggered the rebellion in Northern Africa. In Egypt, 75 percent of the population is under 30 years of age, and they are mostly unemployed – and without bread. Both demographic and social conditions are typical for countries in the Maghreb belt. Young people see no future and no hope without radical social change. Their despair makes the fear of the authoritarian regimes evaporate.
The IMF argues that Tunisia, by following the IMF prescriptions of structural adjustment and free market reforms, is showing ‘tremendous progress’ and prosperity, with only seven percent of the population living below the poverty line – far less than in the U.S. and Europe! This apparent manipulation of data falls to the ground when faced with reality. If 93 percent of Tunisians had a fairly good standard of living, of course there would not have been a popular uprising.
Price hikes and declining subsidies
The soaring price hikes on food and fuel result from a combination of speculation on the commodity exchanges and the elimination of government subsidies. In September 2010 an agreement between Tunisia and the IMF was signed, the latter instructed that the remaining subsidies must be abolished, as a means to achieve budget balance, and as a condition for new loans.
Paradoxically, the IMF dictates and structural adjustment plans have removed the regimes’ opportunity to reintroduce subsidies as a measure to ease the simmering discontent. This option the IMF has overruled, and riots in Algeria and Tunisia were recently sparked by the announcement of the removal of subsidies on bread and necessities.
The imperialists are looking frantically for a way out
The despair among the Arab youth has its counterpart in a growing desperation among perpetrators and supporters of the reactionary Arab regimes.