EGYPT: Anti-war delegates urge resistance

Issue 

Matthew Cookson

A successful and important conference took place in Cairo in Egypt on the December 13-14 weekend. The Second Cairo Conference Against Capitalist Globalisation and US Hegemony brought together anti-war activists from across the world. The conference discussed how best to support the Iraqi and Palestinian resistance movements, and how to challenge the US drive for power.

As the news of Saddam Hussein's capture spread, delegates reaffirmed their support for the Iraqi resistance that will continue against the US occupation. Hamdeen Sabahy, an Egyptian MP, said, "The resistance in Iraq is not based on Saddam Hussein. It will continue after Saddam Hussein. It is there because there is an occupation. As long as there is an American occupation there will be resistance."

More than 1000 people attended the event, mainly from Egypt. This was much bigger than the 2002 conference, attended by 400 people. Left-wing groups, Arab nationalist groups and the Muslim Brotherhood organised the conference. It was supported by a number of trade unions.

Some 50,000 people protested in Cairo on March 20, the day that US war on Iraq was launched. Egyptian police battered the movement off the streets. But there is still a huge feeling to resist the US attack and its occupation of Iraq.

There is also a mood for fundamental change in Egypt. President Hosni Mubarak did not feel confident enough to repress the Cairo conference, despite a heavy police presence outside.

In the opening session, John Rees from the Stop the War Coalition in Britain received loud applause when he said, "We stopped George Bush from launching his re-election campaign in London last month. Hundreds of thousands of ordinary people poured onto the streets. People have come from Britain in solidarity with you. This is not merely because we sympathise with your struggle, and that of Iraq and Palestine. We come because your struggle is our struggle, your enemy, our enemy. In the last year we have created an international mass movement. We will not let the rule of profit and arms destroy our world. Only ordinary people can stop the political elites."

Sona' Allh Ibrahim, a famous Egyptian writer who turned down a major award recently in protest at the Egyptian government, also addressed the conference. Other speakers included former Labour MP Tony Benn, former United Nations humanitarian coordinator for Iraq Denis Halliday, Salma Yaqoob from Britain and Ramsey Clark, former US attorney general.

The conference released the second Cairo declaration, calling for opposition to capitalist globalisation and US power. It also urged support for the Iraqi resistance and the Palestinian intifada against Israeli occupation.

The full declaration will be available at <http://www.cairocampaign.com>.

[From Socialist Worker, newspaper of the British Socialist Workers Party. Visit <http://www.socialistworker.co.uk>.]

From Green Left Weekly, January 21, 2004.
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