Die tragische Bejubelung von Nasser und dem Militär in Ägypten

Peter Decker hat bei der Nürnberger Ägypten-Veranstaltung nebenbei darauf hingewiesen, daß eine kommunistische Partei dort schon was anderes machen würde als die jetzige Volksbewegung. Ich meine, insbesondere müßte sie sich mit den wieder aufgekommenen Hoffnungen in das Militär auseinandersetzen, von dem sich gerade jetzt wieder viele dort eine Verbesserung der Verhältnisse erwarten. Als Material zum Thema hier zwei längere Zitate aus trotzkistischer Sicht:

„Illusions in the army run deep in Egypt, where military officers led by Nasser overthrew the despised British-backed monarchy in 1952. While Nasser, with the support of the Stalinist Communist Party, would lay claim to leadership of a mythical “Arab socialism,” he aimed from the beginning to crush the combative working class. One month after coming to power, Nasser seized on a textile workers strike in Kafr Al-Dawwar near Alexandria to deliver a dramatic blow to the workers movement. Two strike leaders were hanged on the factory grounds, the Communists were banned and strikes were outlawed. Subsequently, Nasser turned on his Communist supporters with a vengeance, rounding up almost every known leftist in the country.“
Aus “Egypt: Mass Upheaval Challenges Dictatorship”, Workers Vanguard No. 973

Etwas weiter ausholend zu Nasser, dem Militär-Volkshelden und der traurigen Rolle der Kommunistischen Partei in Ägypten

„Historically the political and cultural center of the Arab world, the land of the Nile is by far the most populous of all Arab countries. Egypt was also militarily the strongest state directly confronting Zionist Israel. Consequently, Egyptian strongman Colonel Nasser was the dominant figure of Arab nationalism in the 1950s and ’60s, intervening in and influencing developments in Syria, Iraq, Yemen and elsewhere in the Near East.

Two generations ago, Nasser was widely viewed as embodying a mythical “Arab Revolution” and a non-Communist “socialist” alternative for so-called “non-aligned” countries of the Near East, Asia and Africa. He burnished his “anti-imperialist” credentials through the 1956 Suez War in which he stood up to Israel, Britain and France. Yet the fact that enthusiasm for Nasser was so widespread was in no small part due to the Stalinists themselves helping to foster illusions in Nasser’s “Arab socialism.” In reality, Nasser came to power largely with the aim of crushing the combative Egyptian working class, which was mainly under the leadership of the Communists.

The upsurge of class struggle in Egypt at the close of World War II, while not reaching the levels of Iran and Iraq, nevertheless allowed the young Communist groupings, the most prominent being the Egyptian Movement for National Liberation (EMNL) founded by Jewish intellectual Henri Curiel, to achieve a measure of mass influence. The traditional Egyptian nationalist organization, the Wafd, had been widely discredited by its corrupt and oppressive rule during the war years, when it served as undisguised flunkies for British rule. As a mass upsurge against British occupation swept the country and workers increasingly asserted their power in strikes, the Communists were able to steadily displace the Wafd as the principal leadership of the labor movement, especially in textile, the country’s main industry.

In February 1946, a police attack on student demonstrators in Cairo resulted in the deaths of a number of students. On February 21, the Communist-led National Committee of Workers and Students called a strike, completely shutting down the country, in which several more demonstrators were shot dead. As the country erupted in strikes and demonstrations, a strike on March 4 again shut down the entire country. In Alexandria, British forces in league with Egyptian cops fired on the demonstrators, killing 28. Desperate to put a stop to the upsurge, the British announced they would withdraw their troops to the Suez Canal Zone. The government then launched a wave of repression, especially targeting Communist leaders.

Following the 1948 War, the discredited regime declared a state of siege, while mobs incited by the fascistic Muslim Brotherhood pillaged Jewish businesses, burned synagogues and slaughtered dozens of Jews. In at least one case, Communists organized the defense of a Jewish-owned store against the pogromists. As the mass expulsions and emigration of Jews began, among the first targeted were Henri Curiel and other founders and leaders of Egyptian Communism.

A wave of popular agitation against the British military occupation again erupted in October 1951 when the British ignored an edict by the Wafd government to withdraw from the Canal Zone. With the Egyptian government exposed as powerless, the Communists put themselves at the head of the tide of anti-British sentiment that swept the country. As government repression proved incapable of stemming the mounting strike wave, the Communists continued to extend their influence in the Greater Cairo textile union, the Cairo transport unions and elsewhere. By late 1951, the EMNL’s successor, the Democratic Movement for National Liberation (DMNL), had become the leading political force in the Egyptian labor movement.

In January 1952, an armed clash between British and Egyptian forces in the Canal Zone touched off rioting in Cairo in which much of the downtown commercial district was burned down. With the government totally discredited and virtually paralyzed, the country was increasingly polarized between the rapidly growing Muslim Brotherhood and the Communists. Student members of the Muslim Brotherhood carried out military training at the universities, driving around campuses in military jeeps and spraying machine-gun fire in the air to intimidate their opponents.

The DMNL also had a military section, but its work consisted of providing support for Nasser’s Free Officers Movement, a heterogeneous coalition in the military including Muslim Brothers, Wafdists and the DMNL. Nasser looked to the DMNL to print the Free Officers’ leaflets and perform other tasks. Meanwhile, the Free Officers provided military support to the Muslim Brotherhood for its “liberation battalions” in the Canal Zone. Central in this was Nasser’s comrade-in-arms (and future Egyptian president) Anwar Sadat, who in a 1952 newspaper interview praised Adolf Hitler as a great patriot who worked for the good of his people.

In July 1952, the Free Officers seized power, sweeping away the despised monarchy. The DMNL supported the military coup as an expression of the “national democratic movement.” The following month, when textile workers in Kafr Al-Dawwar near Alexandria went on strike, believing their leaders’ assurances that the new regime was on their side, Nasser threw down the gauntlet to the organized workers movement. Two strike leaders were arrested, condemned to death for “a grave crime against the state” and hanged on the factory grounds. The Communists were banned, strikes were outlawed and a corporatist regime of labor control was set up in which the trade unions were placed under effective control by the military regime.

Nasser’s nationalization of the Suez Canal in 1956 and the subsequent invasion of Egypt by Britain, France and Israel was a milestone in the postwar history of the Near East. Washington’s successful strong-arming of Britain and France to withdraw their troops confirmed U.S. imperialism as the top dog in the region. The U.S. was then intent on cohering the Baghdad Pact (CENTO), a regional anti-Soviet military alliance akin to NATO in West Europe. Standing at the head of a campaign against adherence by Arab governments to the Baghdad Pact, Nasser shifted to a pro-Soviet posture, while continuing his anti-Communist repression. Less than one month before nationalization of the Suez Canal, a military tribunal sentenced 40 Communists to prison terms of hard labor.

The establishment of closer relations between the Soviet Union and Egypt led to a Soviet reappraisal of Nasser, whose July 1952 coup was now described as an “anti-imperialist revolution.” The various Communist groups in Egypt, united by their enthusiastic support for Nasser, moved to fuse their forces. In their desire to ingratiate themselves with the rising tide of Nasser’s pan-Arab nationalism, the unified Communist Party of Egypt stipulated that Jews were prohibited from playing a leadership role in the party.

With the Egyptian Communists firmly under Nasser’s thumb, the nationalists in power in Syria sought a merger with Egypt in order to stifle the growing influence of the Syrian Communist Party. As in Egypt, the Syrian Communists tied themselves politically to bourgeois nationalists who showed themselves to be the workers’ worst enemies. The fiercely anti-Communist Syrian Ba’ath Party in power had adopted a “left” stance. Resisting Western pressure to join the Baghdad Pact, it made overtures to the Soviet Union and welcomed the Communists into the ruling coalition.

The Syrian Communist Party continued to grow spectacularly, leading the three trade-union federations by 1957. While objecting to the proposed union with Egypt, the Syrian CP continued to hail Nasser as the “leader of the National Front of Arab Liberation.” But the formation of the “United Arab Republic” under Nasser’s leadership in 1958 led to the suppression of the powerful Syrian CP, then the largest in the Near East, and the arrest of its leaders and hundreds of members.

The next year, Nasser turned on his Egyptian Communist supporters with a vengeance, rounding up almost every known leftist in the country. The Communists in prison were humiliated, tortured and pressured to repudiate their political ideas. Yet even as their comrades were beaten to death or left to die for lack of medical aid, the Communists maintained their political support for Nasser.

During its diplomatic alliance with Nasser’s military bonapartist regime, the Kremlin Stalinists showered Nasser’s capitalist Egypt with more anti-aircraft missiles and other military equipment than they gave to North Vietnam as the Vietnamese workers and peasants waged a heroic—and ultimately victorious—struggle against U.S. imperialism. Not surprisingly, the bourgeois-nationalist Nasser ultimately turned against his Soviet patrons. In the 1970s, his hand-picked successor, Anwar Sadat, brought Egypt fully into the fold of American imperialism.“
Aus “Near East, 1950s – Permanent Revolution vs. Bourgeois Nationalism” Workers Vanguard Nos. 740-741

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