Spectres of counter-revolution

Issue: 140

Alex Callinicos

Counter-revolution now haunts the Arab world. But it takes diverse and confusing shapes. In Syria, for example, it appears as the regime headed up by Bashar al-Assad and as the United States, which has been threatening military action against it. The Saudi royal family leads the Gulf states as they strive to maintain the status quo in the region—here by direct armed intervention (Bahrain), there by propping up the old regime (Egypt), elsewhere by backing sectarian Sunni jihadis (Syria). And, most importantly, in Egypt, the heart of the Arab world, counter-revolution takes the all too solid form of General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, commander in chief of the armed forces, and master of the country since he removed the elected Muslim Brotherhood president Mohamed Mursi on 3 July.

Nearly three years after the outbreak of the Arab revolutions the Middle East seems more tangled and confused than ever. This is enough to demoralise many who were inspired by the overthrows of Ben Ali and Mubarak. But this is one of those moments to recall the old 1968 slogan: “Do not adjust your head—the fault is in reality.” The confusion is real; it arises from the contradictions that define the situation—contradictions that are expressed, for example, in the hesitations of Barack Obama’s administration.

Egypt: the intertwining of revolution and counter-revolution

One response to the resulting ambiguity that is gaining ground among left liberal and more robustly left wing opinion is to deny that there have been revolutions in the first place. One well-informed commentator, Hugh Roberts, wrote recently: “It now seems that the pedlars of hallucinations have been cowed and it is no longer fashionable to describe the events of 3 July in Cairo as a ‘second revolution’. But to describe them as a counter-revolution, while indisputably more accurate, presupposes that there was a revolution in the first place”.1

Aijaz Ahmad, probably the most prominent intellectual associated with the Communist Party of India (Marxist), is, in his own way, just as damning:

For all their spectacular demographic and performative grandeur, neither of these uprisings [25 January 2011 and 30 June 2013] can be judged “revolutionary”, even in the limited sense that the Nasserist Free Officers’ coup of 1952 could be deemed to have been. The Nasserists introduced fundamental systemic shifts very swiftly through such measures as abolishing the monarchy as well as feudal privileges, redistributing landholdings, restructuring foreign alignments in an anti-imperialist direction, building a public sector and adopting a whole host of policies that favoured the poorer and the lower middle classes. Nothing remotely resembling that has been either promised or projected in 2011 or 2013.2

In preferring the July 1952 military coup that brought Gamal Abdel Nasser to power and enabled him to carry out a state capitalist restructuring of Egypt’s political economy to what he concedes were “two massive popular risings of historically unprecedented scale” Ahmad expresses the outlook of a wide section of the left and secular nationalism, not just in India, but in the Arab world and indeed in Egypt itself. The same preference for “progressive” military regimes because of their state capitalist domestic policies and geopolitical alignments is expressed in his support for the Assad regime in Syria:

Syria is the last remaining representative of Arab nationalism as it used to be understood historically. It still calls itself socialist. Even though it has implemented a great deal of neoliberal reform, the state sector is still dominant. It bans, literally bans, religion from politics. It will not recognise the existence of religious political parties. It is a historic opponent of Israel for a variety of reasons… In the old days, it was very closely aligned with the Socialist Bloc, and some of that kind of alignment still remains.3

Ahmad is representative also in treating all the different shades of political Islam as one single reactionary mass. Nevertheless, he recognises the scale of popular mobilisation in Egypt: “Egypt has not two main political actors, the military and the Ikhwan [the Muslim Brotherhood], between whom we have to choose, but three—the third being the mass movement”.4

For Roberts, however, the mass movement and the activists (particularly those of Tamarrod, the coalition of activists that mobilised the giant demonstrations of 30 June), are the useful idiots of more sinister and subterranean forces, the most important of which—the military—has now stepped into the limelight. He argues that Mubarak during his nigh on 30 years as head of state built up a high degree of political autonomy from the army, centred on an increasingly dynastic presidency, and from time to time using the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) to counterbalance the military. From this perspective:

What happened on 11 February 2011 was a renewal of the Free Officers’ state. Mubarak’s fall didn’t in itself amount to a revolution because the fundamental framework of the state established by the Free Officers following their coup in 1952 was still in place, as the emergence of the SCAF [the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces] as the dominant political actor should have made clear to everyone… The army had been the source of political power since 1952… It had been marginalised by Mubarak and so took little part in the day to day business of government, but it hadn’t been displaced by an alternative source of power. And so the events of January and February 2011 that brought it back to centre stage were not a revolution …there is at least a germ of coherence in the claim made by General Sisi and by Tamarrod that 3 July 2013 restored the fundamental logic of 11 February 2011. We can see this once we accept, however reluctantly, that this logic was the reassertion and reclamation by the army of its historical political primacy and not a real revolution, let alone the revolutionary advent of democracy.5

The very important element of truth in Roberts’s analysis is that the overthrow of Mubarak left the political and repressive core of the Egyptian state—the army—intact. This sharply differentiates February 2011 in Egypt from February 1979 in Iran, when an armed insurrection mounted by a coalition of the left and Islamists succeeded in smashing the Shah’s army.6 Of course, the military is the last line of defence of any capitalist state, but in Egypt it has also been a key institution of political power since 1952, as well as the lynchpin of the alliance with the United States forged by Anwar Sadat in the 1970s. Roberts may exaggerate in implying that the generals seized the opportunity offered by the 25 January revolution to reassert their primacy, but undoubtedly they have become since Mubarak’s fall the key organising force of the bourgeois political scene—first as the ruling SCAF between February 2011 and July 2012, then in a more backroom role under Mursi, and then, since they overthrew him, back in the driving seat (notwithstanding the negligible camouflage offered by a token civilian president and cabinet).

The ability of the military to play this role is a source of strength for the Egyptian bourgeoisie, but it is also a symptom of the latter’s chronic political weakness. Indeed, one of the most striking features of Egypt since the start of the revolution has been the contrast between the scale of the mass movement and its expression at the level of politics. The bourgeois parties proper remain a pathetic shambles—but so do those of the secular opposition of nationalists and leftists that developed under Mubarak. Sisi has been able to pocket the support of the National Salvation Front (NSF) that united the bulk of these forces against Mursi without this imposing any serious constraint on him. Egypt’s internationally best-known liberal, Mohamed ElBaradei, discovered a backbone and resigned in August as interim vice president because of the massacres of Brotherhood protesters, only to face threats of prosecution for “breaching national trust”. Shamefully, the Tamarrod have acted as cheerleaders of the repression of the MB.

The only exception to this pattern—the only serious bourgeois party and the most powerful organised political force in Egypt—is, paradoxically, the Muslim Brotherhood itself. During the Mubarak decades the MB leadership, thoroughly conservative economically and socially, built up a powerful popular base thanks to its welfare programmes and its prominence in opposition to the regime. After February 2011 it was the logical partner of the military in restoring bourgeois stability to Egypt, and Mursi’s assumption of the presidency presupposed an understanding between these two forces. SCAF had failed to contain popular insurgency: maybe Mursi would make a better fist of it.

What actually pushed him ahead in the second round of the presidential election was the support of the bulk of the revolutionary movement, which came to see voting for Mursi as the only way of blocking Ahmed Shafiq, the candidate of the feloul, the “remnants” of the old regime. The narrowness of Mursi’s victory in June 2011—51.73 percent to 48.27 percent—underlined the widespread suspicions of the MB, but also demonstrated the sizeable popular base for counter-revolution among the more conservative layers of Egyptian society.

It was Mursi’s presidency that gave these forces their opening. Roberts argues that, in effect, in seeking the government the Brotherhood walked into a trap. Certainly in office it found itself grappling with contradictions that threaten to destroy it. To keep the Egyptian bourgeoisie and the White House happy, Mursi sought to pursue orthodox neoliberal policies (though ducking and diving, for example, over the terms of a loan from the International Monetary Fund to avoid a revolt over higher fuel prices). This was probably the biggest factor in alienating the popular masses. He also maintained the peace treaty with Israel.

At the same time, to hold on to the MB’s base (under pressure from the competition of the Sunni purist Salafi parties) and out of a (as it has proved, thoroughly justified) distrust of the military, Mursi sought to concentrate power in his hands (notably in his “constitutional declaration” of November 2012) and more generally to strengthen the social and political position of Islamism. The effect was to antagonise both the revolutionaries and the broad spectrum of bourgeois opinion. The violence unleashed against protests by the police and the military and by Brotherhood supporters and the sectarian attacks on the Coptic minority fed a torrent of hatred that has destroyed his presidency and, at least in the short term, strengthened the army’s hand.

The immense popular mobilisation of 30 June was an authentic movement of the Egyptian masses. Its success in achieving Mursi’s removal—the second Egyptian president to be overthrown as a result of a popular rising in two and a half years—is undeniable. But, in the case of both Mubarak and Mursi, the executor of their dismissal was the army. And, of course, Sisi and his fellow generals were not acting as neutral “servants of the people” but as the key institution of capitalist power in Egypt.

The Egyptian Revolutionary Socialists (RS) offer a convincing analysis of the army’s motives:

When it became clear that popular anger had risen enough to overthrow Mursi, it became necessary for the most powerful and cohesive institution in the ruling class—the military—to intervene quickly to contain the anger of the masses and implement their demand. It was necessary to get out of a losing bet on the head of the regime and to rearrange and unify the ruling class around new leaders who would appear as heroes, carrying out the people’s demands and uniting with the people in “one rank”.

The army was really caught between two fires. The first was the fire of the mass movement, and the possibility of it breaking through its limits in the event of Mursi continuing in power. The second was the fire of the Brotherhood and the Islamists in the streets, and with the opening of complex fronts in Sinai to a greater extent and some areas of Upper Egypt to a lesser extent, in the event of Mursi’s overthrow… The army chose to avoid the fire of the mass movement, despite the consequences. It decided to knock out Mursi, while absorbing the masses and stopping the development of their movement, and face the fire from the Brotherhood which was less threatening than that of the masses.7

What allowed the army to play this role was the inability of the revolutionary movement to develop either sufficiently robust forms of popular self-organisation or a political party capable of effectively articulating the economic and political aspirations of the workers, peasants and urban poor. This failure is understandable—the RS, for example, has striven magnificently to overcome these limitations, but a small Marxist organisation with relatively shallow social roots cannot overcome the effects of decades of repression and the distortions imposed by the Stalinist politics that has dominated the Egyptian left and led its main sections into the NSF and behind Sisi.

None of this justifies the one-sided dismissal of 30 June expressed most strongly by Roberts. The overthrow of Mursi was the result simultaneously of a popular rising and a military coup. Anyone who fails to grasp both these determinations of the situation will be unable to understand the fundamentally revolutionary dynamic unleashed by the rising against Mubarak.

Nevertheless the ambiguity produced by this duality in the short term favours the military. This was evident during the 30 June mobilisation, when the feloul were able to jump onto the anti-Mursi bandwagon. The ambiguity is reinforced by the army’s ability to exploit the ideological legacy of Nasserism, which allows it to don a “national” and “popular” (though not democratic) garb—all this reinforced by one of the most prominent NSF leaders, Hamdeen Sabbahi, who waged an impressive left wing campaign during the first round of the 2012 presidential elections, but then threw away the opportunity this created to translate votes into organisation by relentlessly courting the military instead. Absurdly, Sisi—who preens himself in dark glasses like a Latin American general during the bloody decades of military rule—is being proclaimed the new Nasser, though there is no sign that he plans to make Egypt a centre of resistance to Western imperialism any time soon.

This doesn’t mean that the generals can expect an easier ride than their predecessors in SCAF or Mursi enjoyed. For one thing, the MB will prove a hard nut to crack. It survived all the sometimes ferocious repression it suffered from the British, Nasser, Sadat and Mubarak, and its activists are strengthened by the sense of democratic legitimacy violated coming from their elected president’s removal. Moreover, as the RS note, the MB leadership is already seeing activists peel off to join jihadi groups whose rejection of the parliamentary road to Islamism may seem to have been justified by events. As so often happens, Sisi’s campaign against the Brotherhood’s “terrorism” is likely to breed more real terrorists.

More fundamentally, Egypt is, in effect, bankrupt amid a world economy that, as Michael Roberts shows elsewhere in this issue, is still struggling with the effects of the crash and slump of 2007-9. The coup released a flood of loans from the Gulf, starting with Saudi Arabia and including most recently Qatar (hitherto a strong supporter of the Brotherhood). This will buy time for the regime, which has made strenuous efforts to end the power cuts and food and fuel shortages that (no doubt with some help from the feloul) fed popular discontent with Mursi.

But these subventions can’t abolish the fundamental contradiction between the demands from local and foreign capital for further neoliberal restructuring of the Egyptian economy and the habits of popular mobilisation that have developed since 25 January. Part of the significance of 30 January was that it represented a widening of the geographical scope of this mobilisation, drawing in many from the countryside previously untouched by the revolution but who were infuriated by Mursi’s economic policies.

The army is trying to rebuild the repressive capacities of the state—rehabilitating the police and intelligence services shattered by the rising against Mubarak and reappointing secret policemen as provincial governors. The precedent created by the repression of the MB and the exceptional powers the regime has assumed under the state of emergency renewed in September represent a potentially mortal danger to the entire revolutionary movement. But while popular hatred has left the MB isolated, the military leadership would still find it much harder to use its own forces (largely conscripted from the urban population) directly to crush mass movements in the cities.

As Napoleon said, you can do anything with a bayonet except sit on it. The resulting need to co-opt as well as coerce is reflected in the appointment as minister of labour of Kamal Abu-Eita, president of the Egyptian Federation of Independent Trade Unions. Abu-Eita’s shameful decision to join the military government reflects his own Nasserist politics, but it also arises from the astonishing rapid development of a trade union bureaucracy where hardly any independent unions existed before 25 January. Whether measures of this kind will succeed in containing the workers’ movement is doubtful. The formation of the new government was rapidly followed by a strike wave in the textile industry that largely won its demands.

None of this diminishes the setback represented by the coup. The military has, for the time being, succeeded in fracturing the revolutionary movement. But, as we have stressed ever since the original uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt, revolution is a process and not an instantaneous event. It is marked by advances and retreats, rises in mass consciousness and self-organisation and success for the counter-revolutionary forces.8 It is the fusion of these aspects on 30 June that makes the situation in Egypt so confusing, but this is not the final chapter.

Having tried the military and the Muslim Brotherhood each once, in rejecting the latter the masses have had to return to the former. What can break this cycle is the greater development of the workers’ movement and of the political left that can begin to offer for widening layers of the exploited and oppressed a genuine alternative. The stakes are very high.

Syria: imperialism at bay?

One of the eternal questions about military coups is how far they are coordinated with Washington.9 As over Syria, there seem to be differences in emphasis between Obama, who cancelled joint US-Egyptian military exercises in response to the August massacres, and his secretary of state, John Kerry, who praised the generals for “restoring democracy”. But the US is no doubt relieved to see a degree of stability restored in the Arab world. In an interesting discussion of US policy towards Egypt, Ian Bremmer argues that, while “Washington has had virtually no influence on developments in Egypt over the past six weeks” (ie since 30 June), Obama “will cling to the status quo as long as it remains acceptable”.10

But the eyes of the White House and the Pentagon have been firmly fixed elsewhere in the Middle East. Whether or not the US eventually does launch military strikes against the Assad regime (ostensibly to punish it for the chemical attacks east of Damascus on 21 August), one thing has become crystal clear over the past few weeks: Obama is extremely reluctant to order action in Syria.11

The reason for this has nothing to do with (depending on one’s point of view) strengths or weaknesses in the president’s character—a predilection for peace or a failure to match George W Bush’s militaristic swagger. After all, Obama has, as Stephen Holmes puts it, made “remote-controlled killing” by Predator drones “the centrepiece of his counterterrorism policy”.12 He is under no illusions that the global hegemony of US capitalism has to be maintained by, in part, the use of force. Obama’s reluctance to get involved in Syria arises from strategic reasoning, positive and negative.

Positively, one of the main aims of the Obama regime has been to liquidate the wars the US lost in Iraq and Afghanistan and reorient American military capabilities and diplomatic efforts across the Pacific towards its only serious rival, China. Getting embroiled in another Middle Eastern quagmire would undermine this “pivot to Asia”.

Negatively, getting too deeply involved in Syria could have disastrous consequences of its own. Those sections of the left, represented by Ahmad, who support the Assad regime because of its geopolitical alignments fail to acknowledge the depth and scale of the popular rising against the regime that started in the spring of 2011.13 Nevertheless, Syria lies along major fractures in the regional and global interstate system.

The resulting complexity is well brought out by the journalist Patrick Cockburn, one of the most lucid critics of Western policy in the Middle East:

Five distinct conflicts have become tangled together in Syria: a popular uprising against a dictatorship which is also a sectarian battle between Sunnis and the Alawite sect; a regional struggle between Shia and Sunni which is also a decades-old conflict between an Iranian-led grouping and Iran’s traditional enemies, notably the US and Saudi Arabia. Finally, at another level, there is a reborn Cold War confrontation: Russia and China vs the West.14

It is as much as anything else the interweaving of these conflicts that has given Obama and the Pentagon (which seems much less hawkish over Syria than the State Department) pause. For example, in its efforts to break the alliance binding together the Islamic Republican regime in Iran, the Assad regime in Syria, and the Shiite mass movement Hezbollah in the Lebanon, Qatar has promoted an influx of Sunni jihadi fighters into Syria, which has given Al Qaeda a foothold there. Their sectarian zealotry has tarnished the image of the revolution both inside the country and internationally.

But the growing role of the jihadis among the forces fighting Assad has also made Washington very cautious in its efforts to give arms and training to these forces. Everyone knows these days about blowback—the damaging unintended consequences of US intervention around the world.15 The biggest case of blowback was of course 11 September 2001, carried out by a network that originated in the efforts by the US, Britain, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan to support the mujahideen resisting the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan during the 1980s. It would be another spectacular instance of blowback if Obama helped to revive Al Qaeda after claiming the assassination of Osama bin Laden as his greatest foreign policy triumph.

Of course, contrary to the misrepresentations of Assad apologists, the anti-regime forces can’t be reduced to the jihadis. A wide spectrum of political currents is involved in fighting the regime, and suspicion of Western imperialism is widespread in Syria, as elsewhere in the Middle East. But this merely reinforces Washington’s worries that, if the revolutionary forces won, Syria might become a much less predictable factor than it has been under the Assads.

Then there is the dimension of inter-imperialist rivalry. This shouldn’t be overstated: there is no new “Cold War” in prospect. Russia in its diminished post-1991 form is no longer a global power, and China, which is developing the military and economic capabilities to challenge US hegemony in Asia and possibly on a larger scale, shows no interest in doing anything more than deny Washington the legitimacy of United Nations Security Council authorisation for military action against Syria. But Russia in the Vladimir Putin era has successfully asserted its dominance in its “near abroad”, notably in the 2008 war with Georgia, and has longstanding ties with the Assad regime. Having, as it sees things, been tricked into allowing Nato intervention to deliver the coup de grace to the Gaddafis in Libya, Moscow is determined to block any further American effort to extend its domination of the Middle East.16

Russia doesn’t have that many cards to play but it’s played them well. Syria has put Russia and Putin, the Financial Times concedes, “at the centre of global diplomacy”.17 But what is interesting is not Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov’s proposal to put Assad’s chemical weapons under international control—there were similar diplomatic initiatives before the US attacks on Iraq in 1991 and 2003—but the US response. While the Bushes father and son brushed aside earlier attempts to stave off war, Obama and Kerry almost tripped over themselves in the speed with which they agreed to discuss Lavrov’s proposal. Another sign of Obama’s reluctance to get drawn into another Middle Eastern war is his relatively friendly response to the efforts of the new Iranian president, Hassan Rouhani, to draw Washington into negotiations over Tehran’s nuclear programme.

Whatever the eventual outcome in Syria, the Russian demarche was taken by Obama as a chance to escape from the bind he had got himself into—first by making Assad’s use of chemical weapons a “red line” and then by asking Congress to approve military action.

The latter move was, of course, prompted by the historic defeat over Syria of David Cameron’s government in the House of Commons on 29 August. Nothing like this has happened in British politics since Lord Aberdeen’s ministry was brought down in 1855 by a vote criticising its conduct of the Crimean War. The Tory backbenchers’ rebellion against military action against Syria is a sign of the weakness of the government and of the decline in Cameron’s personal authority.

But the sheer depth of the scepticism expressed in the debate about the judgement of the military and intelligence services and the fact that Obama reacted by putting the fate of his presidency in the hands of a Congress packed with hostile Republicans shows that something much more fundamental was involved.

Above all, it shows that the US lost the war in Iraq. This may seem like a silly thing to have to say, but many on the left deny it. The most sophisticated version of the argument is offered by Naomi Klein, who documents the profits the occupation of Iraq allowed American “disaster capitalism” to make.18 This is a fairly gross piece of economic reductionism. To secure their long-term profitability, US capitals require a state that is capable of defending their interests globally. If the effectiveness and legitimacy of this state are reduced, then American capitalism more generally is weakened.

As US imperialism ponders yet another military adventure in the Middle East, we can measure the extent to which it has been weakened, above all in the perceptions of its own citizens and those of other states. Senators, members of the House of Representatives, and MPs have been responding to publics that have become hugely sceptical about the US and British national security establishment. This is a result of the experience of the wars the West has lost in Iraq and Afghanistan and of the lies told to justify them. But it is also a tribute to the efforts of the anti-war movement that developed in opposition to the younger Bush’s “war on terror”.

In some ways the defeat the US has suffered in Iraq is more serious than that in Vietnam. Though Washington struggled with the “Vietnam Syndrome” limiting its ability to intervene militarily abroad for decades after the fall of Saigon in 1975, the impact in Asia itself was limited by the alliance with China initiated by Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger and by the expansion of strong capitalisms closely linked to the US in Japan, South Korea and Taiwan. The Middle East has always been a harder region to manage, as the messes the Reagan administration got into in Lebanon and Iran during the 1980s show.19 The US overthrow of Saddam Hussein strengthened the Iranian axis (Iraq is now ruled by a Shiite government aligned to Tehran—another case of blowback), and the Arab revolutions have now further destabilised the region.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that US imperialism is finished. The American ruling class retains enormous economic and military capabilities. And its allies in the Egyptian army may succeed in reimposing a bloody order on their country. The Arab revolutions are confronting a very dangerous moment. But they aren’t finished either.


1: Roberts, 2013, p3.

2: Ahmad, 2013.

3: Ahmad, 2011. Ahmad’s identification of state capitalism and socialism comes over very strongly in his superb critique of postcolonialism: Ahmad, 1992.

4: Ahmad, 2013.

5: Roberts, 2013, p6. Roberts draws heavily on the absorbing blow by blow account of the internal struggles within the post-1952 Egyptian state between the president, military, and security apparatus in Kandil, 2012.

6: I owe this crucial point to Phil Marfleet. His recent articles on Egypt offer indispensable background to current developments: see Marfleet, 2013a, b, and c. Thanks to him, Anne Alexander, Joseph Choonara, Charlie Kimber, Judith Orr and John Rose for their comments on this piece in draft.

7: Revolutionary Socialists, 2013.

8: Callinicos, 2011.

9: See Harmer, 2011, for a fascinating study of Allende’s Chile that, while documenting the role of the Nixon administration in the build-up to the September 1973 coup, argues that the initiative was in the hands of the Chilean military working closely with the Brazilian junta. There are parallels in the Egyptian case with the influence the Saudis seem to be exercising on Sisi.

10: Bremmer, 2013.

11: The inconclusive evidence that Assad (as opposed to some lower echelon of his regime) ordered the attacks is weighed in Blitz, 2013a.

12: Holmes, 2013.

13: See Maunder, 2012, and Callinicos, 2012.

14: Cockburn, 2013.

15: Johnson, 2001.

16: See a good analysis of how the Syrian crisis fits into Russian strategy in Friedman, 2013. Friedman’s recent commentary is interesting more generally: hawkish after 9/11, he has repeatedly stressed that the US has no vital national interests in Syria.

17: Blitz, 2013b.

18: Klein, 2007.

19: See Freedman, 2008, part 2.


Ahmad, Aijaz, 1992, In Theory: Classes, Nations, Literatures (Verso).

Ahmad, Aijaz, 2011, “Why Syria Matters” (30 November 2011), http://williambowles.info/2011/11/30/video-why-syria-matters-interview-with-aijaz-ahmad-by-prabir-purkayastha/

Ahmad, Aijaz, 2013, “Revolution or Restoration?”, Frontline (20 September 2013),

Blitz, James, 2013a, “Syria: Did Bashar al-Assad Personally Order the Chemical Weapons Attack?” (9 September 2013), http://blogs.ft.com/the-world/2013/09/syria-did-bashar-al-assad-personally-order-the-chemical-weapons-attack/

Blitz, James, 2013b, “A Long Week: Putin’s Diplomatic Gambit”, Financial Times
(14 September 2013), www.ft.com/cms/s/0/55e2f4c4-1c6c-11e3-a8a3-00144feab7de.html#axzz2et9zT0XR

Bremmer, Ian, 2013, “Barack Obama Declines to Correct His Egypt Mistake”, Financial Times (15 August 2013), www.ft.com/cms/s/0/1a363ea0-0596-11e3-8ed5-00144feab7de.html?siteedition=uk#axzz2eknQ6IKo

Callinicos, Alex, 2011, “The Return of the Arab Revolution”, International Socialism 130 (spring 2011), www.isj.org.uk/?id=717

Callinicos, Alex, 2012, “Rumours of Crisis, Revolution, and War”, International Socialism 134 (spring), www.isj.org.uk/?id=792

Cockburn, Patrick, 2013, “Is It the End of Sykes-Picot?”, London Review of Books (6 June 2013), www.lrb.co.uk/v35/n11/patrick-cockburn/is-it-the-end-of-sykes-picot

Freedman, Lawrence, 2008, A Choice of Enemies: America Confronts the Middle East (Weidenfeld & Nicolson).

Friedman, George, 2013, “Syria, America and Putin’s Bluff” (10 September 2013),

Harmer, Tanya, 2011, Allende’s Chile and the InterAmerican War (University of North Carolina Press).

Holmes, Stephen, 2013 “What’s In It for Obama?”, London Review of Books (18 July 2013),

Johnson, Chalmers, 2001, Blowback: The Costs and Consequences of American Empire (Owl Books).

Kandil, Hazem, 2012, Soldiers, Spies and Statesmen: Egypt’s Road to Revolt (Verso).

Klein, Naomi, 2007, The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism (Penguin).

Marfleet, Phil, 2013a, “’Never Going Back’: Egypt’s Continuing Revolution”, International Socialism 137 (winter 2013), www.isj.org.uk/?id=866

Marfleet, Phil, 2013b, “Egypt: The Workers Advance”, International Socialism 139 (summer 2013), www.isj.org.uk/?id=904

Marfleet, Phil, 2013c, “Egypt: Revolution Contained?”, Socialist Review (September 2013) www.socialistreview.org.uk/article.php?articlenumber=12379

Maunder, Jonathan, 2012, “The Syrian Crucible”, International Socialism 135 (summer 2012), www.isj.org.uk/?id=824

Revolutionary Socialists, 2013, “Letter to Comrades” (15 August 2013), http://socialistworker.co.uk/art/34144/Egyptian+Revolutionary+Socialists+letter+to+supporters

Roberts, Hugh, 2013, “The Revolution That Wasn’t”, London Review of Books (12 September 2013), www.lrb.co.uk/v35/n17/hugh-roberts/the-revolution-that-wasnt