This week marks 65 years since the Suez Crisis, which catapulted the popularity of Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser — and became symbolic of his large and complicated legacy of Arab nationalism, Arab socialism, and anti-imperialism.
Joel Beinin is a professor emeritus of history at Stanford University and a member of the US Committee to End Political Repression in Egypt. His latest book is Workers and Thieves: Labor Movements and Popular Uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt (Stanford University Press, 2016).
Joe Biden promised to end Donald Trump’s “love affair” with tyrants like the Egyptian ruler Sisi. But now he looks set to approve a super-sized military aid package that helps prop up Sisi’s regime.
Once powerful Arab left-wing movements took a battering in recent decades, but they’ve reemerged since 2011 to play a vital role in struggles for freedom and social justice. Rebuilding strong labor organizations is crucial for democracy in the Middle East.
The Palestinian general strike of May 18 fits into a much longer history of mobilization by Palestinian workers. From the British colonial years to the present, those struggles have faced harsh repression, but kept a spirit of resistance alive.
Fifty years after his death, the Egyptian leader Gamal Abdel Nasser still casts a long shadow over Arab politics. A symbol of defiance in the age of decolonization, Nasser transformed his country but never gave its people control of the system that ruled them.
Since 2011, Arab labor organizations and left parties have been central to movements for democracy and social justice in the Middle East. Frequently overlooked in Western media coverage, from Egypt and Tunisia to Algeria and Sudan, they’ve carried on this fight against tremendous odds.
Egypt’s current crisis highlights the flawed foundations of its post-revolutionary state. But liberal nostalgia for the days of the monarchy is equally misplaced.