The generals have put Egypt up for sale

August 17, 2016

Haitham Mohamedain is a prominent Egyptian labor lawyer and member of the Revolutionary Socialists who has been unjustly imprisoned repeatedly by the military regime led by President Abdul-Fattah el-Sisi.

Mohamedain was arrested in September 2013 while en route to represent steel workers in Suez who had been arrested after the police attacked their sit-in. His detention sparked an international solidarity campaign. This past April Mohamedain was detained again as part of a crackdown on a new wave of protests against the Sisi regime, including its transfer of two Red Sea islands to Saudi Arabia.

In this letter written from prison that first appeared at the website of the Revolutionary Socialists, Mohamedain writes about the transfer of the two islands, a telling symbol of the Egyptian government's subordination to the Saudi monarchy, which sparked some of the largest demonstrations against the regime since the coup that brought it to power in the summer of 2013.

TO THE Egyptian people, to the January revolutionaries, to the dear comrades: Our struggle against the sale of the Tiran and Sanafir islands to the Saudi Kingdom is inseparable from the goals of the January revolution.

When we chanted, "He who sells Sanafir and Tiran will tomorrow sell Shubra and Helwan," we did not do so on a whim. This military regime started selling off this country's riches a long time ago. They have sold everything; they sold the factories to capitalist speculators and abandoned workers; they sold the agricultural lands to al-Waleed bin Talal and other thieves; they sold our hospitals so we couldn't get treatment. They sold our food to food import companies that control prices and could not care less for safety standards, so much so that we are now fed what companies elsewhere in the world leave behind. They sold our workers to investors as "cheap labor."

They sold our schools to turn decent education into a commodity that the rich can buy while the poor drown in ignorance as the regime has society's lower ranks reserved for them: the ranks of the Central Security, the casual laborers, street vendors and the unemployed. They sold our public amenities to themselves, claiming their names were on the deeds and account books. That road is managed by the army, here a piece of land is reserved for the Ministry of Interior, there a summer resort is set aside for the judiciary. They sold the shores of Alexandria and the Port Said harbor and many more.

Haitham Mohamedain
Haitham Mohamedain (Gigi Ibrahim)

THE EGYPTIAN regime has now moved to another level of the dismantling, mortgaging and selling of the country. After obtaining enough Gulf dollars to kill the Egyptian revolution, it has given the Saudis Egyptian land in exchange. Our stand against the sale of the land is indeed a struggle against the counter-revolution, against the backwardness of al-Saud and against Zionism.

The Egyptian poor have defended these islands with their money and their sons' blood to prevent the Zionist enemy from gaining a strategic foothold from which it could occupy the whole Red Sea. The sale of Tiran and Sanafir is a move towards allowing Israel to do so.

We are all aware of how Israel has used every land it has occupied or stood on to slaughter and threaten the peoples of the region. The sale of Tiran and Sanafir is a defeat without a battle, as there is no need for battles ever since they handed Egypt over to the Americans and the Zionists after the Camp David Agreement, and there will be no need for battles as long as we are ruled by a regime that offers them everything and is mandated to protect their interests.

The cause of Tiran and Sanafir demands that the Egyptian opposition builds the largest defense front to overthrow this "sales contract" and recover the islands that were sold by those who do not own them to those who do not deserve them. This front should start with Tiran and Sanafir and expand to all the social, democratic and national causes. Those who sold the islands where the soldiers' blood flowed have been paid in Gulf dollars that they will use to bleed the revolutionaries and finish them off. Those who sold the islands sold the factories and the farms under the sword of repression and tyranny. Those who sold the islands sold Egypt's sovereignty and the Palestinian cause.

I salute your steadfastness in the face of tyranny and I thank your solidarity with the prisoners. The destiny of the Egyptian people in the first half of the last century was to struggle simultaneously against foreign occupation, against the corruption and the tyranny of our local rulers and against the feudal landlords. Our present duty demands that we continue the journey and struggle against the military regime and capital in order to recover and free the land, and achieve the objectives of the January 25 revolution.

Finally, I invite those who view this as an agreement between the Egyptian state and a "sister state" to reconsider their position or leave our ranks. Indeed, there is no brotherly bond between us and the fortress of backwardness--the Saudi kingdom--it is the enemy of the revolution and paid millions so our blood would flow in the streets. We are united in a common struggle with all the peoples of the Gulf against all forms of backwardness, tyranny and dependency.

First published at the website of the Revolutionary Socialists.

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