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John Rees

Cairo calling

(Spring 2003)

From International Socialism 2:98, Spring 2003.
Copyright © International Socialism.
Copied with thanks from the International Socialism Archive.
Marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Activists from the anti-war and anti-globalisation movements joined forces with delegates from across the Arab world at a historic conference in the Egyptian capital, Cairo, on 18–19 December 2002. The Egyptian government tried to ban the conference, but was forced to allow it to go ahead. The Cairo Sheraton cancelled the conference venue even as the 400 delegates were arriving, but they reassembled in the Conrad hotel on the banks of the Nile.

There were delegates from across the Middle East, but the delegates from Egypt were the core of the event. They included socialists, academics and artists, some Islamic groups, and supporters of the political trends established by modern Egypt’s founder Gamal Abdel Nasser – some of them MPs from the Egyptian parliament.

Crucially, the conference was focused on building action and solidarity with the international anti-war movement. The illegal demonstration on the day following the conference was announced from the platform by the conference organisers and many at the conference were also on the streets.

The conference established the International Campaign Against US Aggression on Iraq to organise anti-war activity and promote the Cairo Declaration, the test of which follows here. The co-ordinating committee’s president is Ahmed Ben Bella, leader of the great struggle for Algerian independence and the country’s first president. He urged that links be made with anti-globalisation movement that had so impressed him at Novemeber’s European Social Forum in Florence, when one million marched against the war. He spoke passionately at the conference of the need to build a movement in the Middle East as big as that seen in Europe.

The Cairo Declaration’s strength is its insistence on the connection between neo-liberal globalisation and war, and on the need to build international action with the widest numbers possible to take on the warmongering privatisers. Hundreds added their names in support of the declaration in the first weeks of publication – including 80 members of the Russian Duma, trade union leaders, academics from as far afield as South Korea and Canada, and hundreds of working people from all over the globe. This is a vital political initiative that needs the support of everyone who is opposed to an attack on Iraq.

The Cairo Declaration

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