From the July-August 2012 issue of News & Letters:
World in View
by Gerry Emmett
Arab spring continues
Egypt’s first presidential election presented voters with two bad choices: Ahmed Shafiq, a Mubarak ally, or Mohammed Mursi of the Muslim Brotherhood. Neither candidate has any connection to the working women, the youth, or the mass self-organization that have been at the heart of Egypt’s revolution.
This election showed why it is vital not to subordinate the revolutionary demands of Tahrir Square to bourgeois politics. In the end these parties will make very similar deals with world and national capitalism. If this happens, the creative human relationships born of struggle will be rolled back.
In Yemen, the post-Saleh era is also beginning with political parties trying to break down the revolutionary unity of the occupied squares and confine the movement to electoral politics. But one young woman revolutionary described the recent election this way: “People didn’t vote for Hadi, but for change. Polling day was like collecting signatures to remove Saleh.” Women and youth, in particular, have made great strides during the revolutionary occupations and have no desire to step backwards.
They are also looking outward. In June rallies in Sanaa, protesters chanted, “Bashar is finished like Saleh! Yemen and Syria, we are one!”
The Arab Spring lives on in Bahrain as well. In May, 200,000 people—the largest demonstration in the nation’s history—marched through Manama to show their rejection of a proposed union with Saudi Arabia. Smaller protests happen almost nightly.
The government continues such outrages as the prosecution of an 11-year-old boy for blocking a street.
On June 20, Doctor Saeed al-Samaheeji began a hunger strike. He is one of nine medical professionals sentenced to prison terms of from one month to five years for treating demonstrators injured when the government brutally cleared Pearl Square—killing at least four people, injuring many more.
As in Yemen, these protests constitute a real threat to the reactionary Saudi society.