Ten years since the Egyptian Revolution
Demonstrators celebrate in Cairo's Tahrir Square after the announcement of President Hosni Mubarak's resignation

Ten years ago, between January 25 and February 11, 2011, a revolution of the Egyptian working class overthrew the US-backed dictatorship of Hosni Mubarak that had ruled the country for decades. Weeks earlier, on January 14, US-backed Tunisian dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali was forced to flee the country by a revolution in that country. The events in Tunisia and Egypt were the highest point of a revolutionary upheaval concentrated in North Africa and the Middle East which spread internationally.

As the WSWS noted in a Perspective article published February 1, 2011, these events were of “of world historical significance.” They heralded the re-entry of the working class to the center of history. They disproved the bankrupt arguments of countless academics, philosophers and pseudo-left organizations as to the “End of History,” and claims that the working class could no longer be considered a revolutionary, or even progressive, social force. “History,” the WSWS noted, “has returned with a vengeance.”

The events of 2011 represent a crucial strategic experience for the working class internationally. Ten years later, brutal dictatorships hold power, and conditions of social inequality and poverty have only increased. This experience demonstrates the historic necessity of the building of a revolutionary Marxist leadership in the working class, as a prerequisite for socialist revolution. On this page, readers can find the most critical statements and analyses produced by the WSWS in the course of the revolutionary events of 2011 and in their aftermath.

The uprising in Tunisia

The massive protests in Tunisia were sparked by the self-immolation of Mohamed Bouazizi, a vegetable cart vendor whose goods had been arbitrarily confiscated by the police. The desperate act of protest ignited simmering social anger caused by mass poverty, inequality and the lack of democratic rights. The protests immediately spread internationally precisely because the same conditions prevailed—and exist today—throughout the region and around the world.

The Tunisian uprising was dubbed by American foreign policy specialists as the first “Wikileaks Revolution.” This was a reference to the role played by Wikileaks, and its long-since persecuted founder Julian Assange, which published secret US diplomatic cables from Tunis exposing the corruption of the regime and the tacit support of US officials for its crimes.

More on the Tunisian revolution
Imperialism’s counterrevolutionary offensive: Libya and Syria

In response to the revolutionary upheavals across the Middle East, imperialism launched a counter-offensive. In Libya, the Obama administration and its European allies launched a bombing campaign to overthrow the government of Moammar Gaddafi. The intervention in Libya, strategically located between Egypt and Tunisia, was aimed at establishing a beachhead of counterrevolutionary operations in the region, while securing tighter imperialist control over the region's natural oil resources.

John Kerry meets with Syrian opposition representatives in 2013
Counterrevolution in Egypt

At the beginning of 2013, Egypt remained under the rule of the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood, which came to power in the 2012 elections. A WSWS Perspective published January 30, 2013, warned of the increasingly open violence by the military against the working class, and called for the independent mobilization of the working class to seize power, in opposition to the military, the Muslim Brotherhood and the liberal National Salvation Front of Mohammed ElBaradei.

The bourgeois liberal parties joined with the pseudo-left, including the Revolutionary Socialists, in a campaign against the Mursi government, called the Tamarod (Rebel) movement. The Tamarod platform, which was supported by remnants of the former Mubarak regime, offered no alternative to Mursi. The military, headed by Defense Minister Abdel Fateh el-Sisi, used the Tamarod campaign as a screen for its preparation of a military coup, which was launched on July 3, 2013.

The coup was welcomed by the liberals and the pseudo-left, with both the RS and their international co-thinkers, the International Socialist Organization (ISO), issuing statements that portrayed the military as acting under popular pressure to remove Mursi. Within months, the military-based regime had consolidated itself through a bloodbath of Muslim Brotherhood supporters and other anti-coup protesters. It organized sham show trials, convicting hundreds of people at a time, and sentencing leading Muslim Brotherhood members to death. Thousands of people remain crammed in the prison network, while Sisi, the butcher of Cairo, is hailed in the capitals of the world for his role in suppressing the Egyptian revolution.

President of Egypt Abdel Fatah el-Sisi (en.kremlin.ru)
The Theory of Permanent Revolution

Ten years after the Arab Spring across the Middle East, the conditions for new revolutionary struggles are more present than ever. This makes all the more critical the drawing of the lessons of this strategic experience by the most advanced sections of the working class. Key among these is the assimilation of the Trotskyist theory of Permanent Revolution and the establishment upon this basis of a new revolutionary leadership of the working class in the Middle East and Africa, sections of the International Committee of the Fourth International.

The Theory of Permanent Revolution was the perspective that guided the Bolshevik Party in Russia, in 1917, when it seized power and established the first workers state in history. It insists that in countries of a belated capitalist development, oppressed by imperialism, the bourgeoisie, including its liberal representatives, far more fearful of its own working class than the most brutal capitalist regime, cannot play any progressive role. The task of leading the revolution fall to the working class, leading behind it the peasantry and oppressed masses, in the fight for socialism.

Leon Trotsky