Egyptians and Palestinians have long used the slogan, “the liberation of Jerusalem begins with the liberation of Cairo.” But how is this possible, when the Arab revolutions have been co-opted by counterrevolutionary forces and international coalitions to protect their interests and fight a global “war on terrorism?”
Almost four decades after the Camp David Accords, Egypt’s compliance with Zionist policies and the American administration is clear. Egypt joined Uncle Sam in embracing open door policies in the 1970s, but this revealed class rifts, as people took to the streets in anger in 1977 over the lifting of subsidies and inflation to meet the conditions of an IMF loan. Similarly, the economic path taken by the government in Egypt today to meet the conditions of the imperial IMF are in line with this neoliberal vision and three decades of the Mubarak state’s alliance with Israel and the United States.
After the Camp David Accords, the shared interests of an elite class in Egypt and the international ruling classes was evident in the Oslo process, which normalized the Zionist entity under the pretext of attracting foreign investment, supported by Egyptian Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif’s government. Similarly, the state today is prepared to do everything possible to continue this trajectory, using state-owned and co-opted media outlets to defend the flotation of the pound and the IMF loan between advertisements for elite housing complexes and gated communities.
The class dimensions of revolution and counterrevolution are essential to understanding their trajectories. Class-based struggles can be seen in many places, from the US to Spain, Brazil, Italy, Greece and South East Asia, though differing in their iterations of political and military capitalism. It was somewhat inevitable that Western states and oil-rich Gulf States would seek to co-opt revolutionary energy into a fight against terrorism. Likewise, the Zionist entity relies on a classist heritage to maintain the myth of democracy and peace in the Arab world. It is the power and profit of local and foreign businessmen that has facilitated the tightening of the siege on Gaza.
There have been speculations as to what a Donald Trump presidency and the rise of the far right in Europe could mean for the Arab World, as regimes in the region attempt to bury the revolutions of the last few years. The Egyptian military’s efforts to fight terrorism in Sinai were praised by both Trump and Hillary Clinton during their respective pre-election meetings with Sisi.
To understand the regional and international significance of the Egyptian revolution, we need to consider the various stances of the Zionist entity, for example its efforts to pressure the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) — an organization committed to protecting the US’ relationship with Israel — and the neo-conservatives in Obama’s administration to support former President Hosni Mubarak. Netanyahu’s office released a statement on February 11 when Mubarak was ousted stating, “Israel expresses its wishes that the Egyptian leadership upholds the existing peace treaty.” In response, the Supreme Council of Armed Forces confirmed they would do so. In the years that followed, even the Muslim Brotherhood — an organization that built an identity in opposition to Zionism — announced a neutral stance regarding the two-state solution and a peaceful settlement to the conflict.
When the balance of power shifted in favor of the counterrevolution in Egypt in 2013, revolutionary fervor declined amid a wave of arrests and forced disappearances. Since then, the Egyptian government has made a number of moves to support imperialist and Zionist entities. The first of these moves occurred in the summer of 2014 during the attack on Gaza, when a popular Egyptian convoy carrying food and medical aid was initially prevented from reaching Gaza and breaking the siege. The second move was Sisi’s call for a deeper peace on May 17, 2016. Not long after this, a photograph was taken of Egyptian businessman and Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry stood next to the statue of Theodor Herzl, the founder of the Zionist vision, as he visited Netanyahu.
The international alliances pursued by the Egyptian government are along several main axes: strengthening military cooperation with Russia and the US — through the continuation of the US military aid program and arms deals with Russia under the guise of the “international war on terrorism” — and ensuring the continuing flow of Gulf funds, particularly following the Tiran and Sanafir island case.
Russian Prime Minister Demetri Medvedev stressed the common challenges faced by his country and Israel during a press conference in Jerusalem with Netanyahu in November, suggesting better “coordinating efforts to fight terrorism and the Syrian crisis.” Bashar al-Assad’s dictatorial regime continues to use Palestinian resistance as a commodity and to green light the actions of Iranian militias. Sisi’s support for Assad should be viewed within this context. Similarly, Trump declared his readiness to cooperate with Putin in “fighting terrorism in Syria and the Middle East,” in line with his promise to Netanyahu that the US would continue to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of the Zionist entity and transfer the US embassy there.
The United Nations Security Council ratified a draft resolution submitted on December 23 by Malaysia, New Zealand, Senegal and Venezuela, calling for the immediate and complete cessation of Israeli settlements. This is the same resolution that was initially submitted by Egypt, before Obama’s administration announced its intention to abstain from the vote. Both Trump and Netanyahu urged Sisi to withdraw the draft resolution. This may not be the complete disaster it sounds — history has shown the negative consequences of most UNSC resolutions, and the current draft deals with the settlements as though they began in 1967 in the West Bank and not with broader Zionist aims — but it does evidence the closeness of the relationships between the US, Israel and Egypt, when a couple of phone calls was all it took for Egypt to withdraw the resolution.
Palestine will not be liberated from the river to the sea through myths of international legitimacy or peaceful deals, but by resistance, which began in 1936 under British mandate and continues to this day. The interests of the international bourgeoisie have transpired to delude the masses into believing that the “two-state solution” is the only way to solve the Palestinian crisis.
It is important to challenge the Camp David regime. Future revolutions and resistance struggles will not succeed unless they confront capitalism, new imperialism and regressive extremism.
A longer version of this article was first published in Arabic. Translated by Assmaa Naguib.