Let us take the specific examples of Egypt and Tunisia as the most recent cases where revolts took place and resulted in the overthrow of governments. Will this government change translate into systemic change in domestic and foreign policies, in the economic and social structure, in culture, or are the changes merely one set of political leaders exchanged for another. It now seems clear that the West through institutions that include the IMF and World Bank has co-opted the leadership that emerged from the revolts.
Presumably, people that place their lives on the line to protest in the streets against authoritarian regimes expect meaningful structural changes at all levels, including improvement of the lives for all people, or at least the majority. Presumably, rebels and their supporters rebel because they believe in a future that is not a repeat of the past. In the case of Egypt and Tunisia, we may have the perfect examples of how revolts amounted to absolutely nothing more than a change in leadership but not in policies, not in institutional structures, not in improvement of citizens' welfare, and no changes either in domestic or foreign policies. Why then did so many people lose their lives, why so many injured, why did so many disrupt their lives if there is to be no structural change, why the futility of revolts?
Even as the revolts were unfolding across north African and Middle East, the IMF and World Bank lost no time to inject themselves into the rebel movements, presenting themselves as 'reform-oriented', anxious to 'help the people'. Both the IMF and World Bank offered their services. For those who know about the IMF and World Bank, their services are a conduit to furthering globalization, privatization, international finance capital, all at the expense of social welfare of workers and the middle class. Their services have one costumer, corporate capitalism that seeks to expand and accumulate capital at every opportunity by preventing sustainable.
While the IMF has already sent a team of advisers to Cairo to confer with Egyptian economic offcials, the World Bank has taken the lead to organize a summit that will include the African Development Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, among an additional dozen or so institutions. To make sure that Egypt remains dependent on foreign financial interests and falls deeper in debt, the IMF has already extended a $5 billion.
Recognizing that accepting IMF aid entails conditionality, chronic financial dependence, and obstacles to growth of national capitalism and sustainable development, Egypt's provisional government rejected the offer. Nevertheless, both Egypt and Tunisia agreed to IMF team of advisers whose role will be to convince the countries to adopt neo-liberal policies, foreign borrowing, privatization of public assets, and favorable terms for foreign corporations - in short, policies the IMF is recommending to Ireland, Greece, Portugal, Latin America and Africa.
To make certain that Egypt and Tunisia fall in line with IMF and World Bank policies, guns-for-hire economists that the media has elevated to gurus of high finance have lined up to provide the usual tired old arguments why it is important that Islamic countries to accept IMF-World Bank advice. These are the same economists that sunk Argentina into the abyss ten years ago, and the same ones that sunk Ireland, Portugal, and Greece into their current austerity-based economies that create poverty while enriching the same clients that prostitute economists serve. Behind rhetoric about growth, development, trade stimulus, investment, debt reduction, etc., rests the ultimate goal to squeezing every ounce of capital from the local economy and transferring assets to the metropolis.
After signing the Euro-Mediterranean Association Agreement, Tunisia was the first Arab nation in 1995 to privatize 67% of its publicly-owned enterprises, while Egypt has privatized 164 out of 314 firms. Presenting themselves as reformers on the side of rebels, the IMF and World Bank wants Tunisia and Egypt to continue privatizing. The result of such privatization has been a massive increase in public debt that in essence entails both Egypt and Tunisia are financial prisoners of US and EU that provide the loans. An activist organization is organizing anti-IMF-World Bank protests for 15-17 April 2011 in Washington, D.C.
Did the people of Egypt and Tunisia fight in the streets so that the IMF and World Bank can guide their countries back into world economic integration, which ipso facto entails political and military integration, which in fact entails back to policies of previous regimes? Did the people fight only to change individuals governing them, but to realize no benefit from regime change? The Arab uprisings have afforded the opportunity to US, EU, IMF, World Bank and other status quo leaders to present themselves as 'friends of the rebels'! The public that is largely brainwashed by mainstream media buys into this image. Before very long, it will be clear that the Arab revolts were futile for there will be no systemic change to improve the welfare of the people.