Seham's #jan25 links (10 February 2011)
A senior member of Egypt's ruling party tells the BBC he is "hoping" that President Mubarak will transfer power to to his vice-president on Thursday.
CAIRO, Feb 10 (Reuters) - Egypt's army has detained dozens of Egyptians involved in massive protests against the rule of President Hosni Mubarak and abused some of them in custody, a U.S. rights groups and Egyptian activists said on Thursday. The army was ordered to the streets on Jan. 28 to restore order. It was welcomed by protesters as a neutral force. The army said it would protect protesters from Mubarak supporters who have attacked them but also asked them to return home.
Human rights groups allege that pro-democracy protesters have been detained or tortured in an "organised campaign".
CAIRO, Feb 9 (Reuters) - Four people were killed and several suffered gunshot wounds in clashes between security forces and about 3,000 protesters in a western province of Egypt, the state news agency and security sources said on Wednesday. The clashes in New Valley, a province that includes an oasis in Egypt's western desert, erupted on Tuesday and continued into Wednesday, according to the security sources.
CAIRO - AT LEAST five people were killed and around 100 wounded in two days of clashes between police and demonstrators in a town in southern Egypt's New Valley region, medics told AFP on Wednesday. Earlier, a security official had confirmed three dead. Police fired live rounds on Tuesday when local people rioted in the oasis town of Kharga, more than 400km south of Cairo, the security official said, speaking on condition of anonymity. Scores were wounded and three people died of their injuries on Wednesday.
Residents count the cost of ongoing protests and mourn those who died in the clashes.
A blindfolded Robert Tait could only listen as fellow captives were electrocuted and beaten by Mubarak's security services
Military accused by human rights campaigners of targeting hundreds of anti-government protesters
Human rights activists in Egypt have told the BBC that the country's security forces have been detaining increasing numbers of people over the last fortnight, including doctors who treated the injured in Tahrir Square.
Human Rights Watch is reporting that at least 302 people have died in Egypt since pro-Mubarak forces launched a violent response to the popular uprising last month. The group says at least 232 people have died in Cairo, 52 in Alexandria, and 18 in Suez, but warns the actual death toll could be far higher. We speak with Human Rights Watch researcher Heba Morayef, who has been monitoring the situation on the ground since the protests began.
Government refuses transition plan as demonstrations are joined by strikes – and vice-president's coup ultimatum raises tensions
Tagammu becomes first party to announce withdrawal from negotiations; Muslim Brotherhood has criticized the talks, but expressed no intention about eschewing talks.
The fact that Egyptian workers are on strike across the country may be a more worrying development for the government. Behind the scenes, negotiations are under way between a committee of "wise men" and the government to agree on a transition. But despite those talks, Al Jazeera's Ayman Mohyeldin, says the deadlock between the government and the protesters looks set to continue.
Egyptians now feel the Mubarak regime has lost the initiative as momentum shifts back to the streets
White House says Hosni Mubarak's government hasn't met minimum threshold of what pro-democracy protesters have demanded.
WASHINGTON, Feb 9 (Reuters) - The Obama administration said on Wednesday Egypt's government must do more to meet the demands of protesters in the country's streets. "What you see happening on the streets of Cairo is not all that surprising when you see the lack of steps that their government has taken to meet their concerns," Robert Gibbs, a White House spokesman, told a daily news briefing.
Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit says U.S. imposing its will on Cairo, as White House slams Egyptian leadership for lack of reform.
PBS NewsHour's Margaret Warner has secured very important interviews with Egypt Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit. In the five minute clip above, Foreign Minister Gheit is pushing back, telling the US that its expectations are out of line with political and time realities in Egypt. The Egyptian government, including the Foreign Minister in this interview, have forcefully rebuffed Vice President Biden's and President Obama's request for the Egyptian government to suspend its stifling Emergency Law.
Egypt's Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit gave PBS a lengthy interview today. In addition to the usual jargon, he revealed Egyptian Hosni Mubarak's true beliefs about his role in Egypt, his legacy, and how he feels about US pressure for him to step down.
CAIRO - An array of new developments turned against President Hosni Mubarak on Wednesday as Egypt moved closer to a full rupture between its autocratic government and a growing popular rebellion.
Foreign minister rejects calls for immediate repeal of emergency law and says US "imposing its will" on Cairo
* White House says Mubarak's govt must do more to change
* Egyptian minister rejects US "imposing will" on Cairo
* Violence flares in desert province, breaking relative calm
* Next big demonstrations planned for Friday
White House aides acknowledge that the differing views among Obama's team of advisors has resulted in a mixed message on Egypt. The Obama administration's shifting response to the crisis in Egypt reflects a sharp debate over how and when Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak should leave office, a policy decision that could have long-term implications for America's image in the Middle East.
The White House and the State Department have been sending out different messages over the past few days regarding the U.S. position on Egypt. The seeming disparity between the focus and tone of remarks by officials from each part of the government has the Washington community wondering if there's a rift between Pennsylvania Avenue and Foggy Bottom and who's really in charge.
CAIRO, Feb 9 (Reuters) - Egypt's biggest opposition group, the Muslim Brotherhood, said on Wednesday it would stick to its demand that President Hosni Mubarak step down in talks with the authorities that many in the opposition fear are a trick.
CAIRO, Feb 9 (Reuters) - A minister has resigned from the Egyptian cabinet formed by President Hosni Mubarak in response to an uprising against his rule, a family member said on Wednesday.
'Thousands' of protesters may have been tortured: report Egypt's secret police, long accused of torturing suspects and intimidating political opponents of President Hosni Mubarak, received training at the FBI's facility in Quantico, Virginia, even as US diplomats compiled allegations of brutality against them, according to US State Department cables released by WikiLeaks.
Omar Suleiman, the new vice-president of Egypt, told the Israelis he wanted to start “cleansing the Sinai” of Palestinian arms smugglers, according to leaked cables.
Australian citizen Mamdouh Habib was captured and tortured in the years after September 11 in both Egypt and Guantanamo Bay.
So Soliman has not convinced anybody whether the international community or the Egyptians with the Muslim brotherhood conspiracy theory , he actually does not care that much about those people “who lack the culture of democracy and so he is speaking the language the West knows very : Al Qaeda phobia !! We found suddenly the general wearing us that there are Al Qaeda members who escaped from the Egyptian prisons , thus we should be very afraid or rather the West should be very fear.
"..The White House invited several Middle East scholars to discuss the Egypt upheaval Tuesday. Among those who attended were the Center for Strategic and International Studies’s Jon Alterman, Dan Brumberg of the U.S. Institute of Peace, Fouad Ajami of Johns Hopkins University and the Wall Street Journal, former George W. Bush White House Middle East and democracy advisor Elliott Abrams, Human Rights Watch’s Tom Malinowski, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace’s Michele Dunne, and Scott Carpenter, a former State Department Middle East democracy official now with the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. The one and a half hour meeting, with the NSC’s Dan Shapiro, Samantha Power, and Ben Rhodes, was off the record.
In a conversation with a group of young military officers I came out with strong impressions that the real strong man now is the CJCS Gen Samy Anan. The young officers believe that it is him who has the key to the solution and that he will "do something". Gen Sulliman does not have the same weight in the military like Anan. The young officers hint to the fact that the Air Force is very loyal to Mubarak and that the Presidential guard is hostile to Anan. They also oppose the idea that the next president should be a civilian. One of them said that Anan can end the crisis "in a minute" but did not explain how. All of them agreed that using force by the military is a very remote possibility. I do not understand why Anan did not make a move yet. He solidly refuses to use force against the demonstrators and seem to be letting events unfold so far as they do not reach a certain tipping point. He refused orders by Mubarak to use force. If he just goes to the TV building and announce the termination of the Mubarak regime he could turn in a minute to a national hero and possibly the next President. Anan sent a text mssg to all cell phones in Egypt that the army will not use force. That was almost 10 days ago. Everybody seem to be talking now about the expected role of the army and Anan refusal to use force and his role in ending the current situation. Yusuf al-Misry
WASHINGTON, Feb 9 (Reuters) - U.S. President Barack Obama spoke to Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah on Wednesday about the political situation in Egypt, the White House said. "The president emphasized the importance of taking immediate steps toward an orderly transition that is meaningful, lasting, legitimate, and responsive to the aspirations of the Egyptian people," the White House said in a statement. "The president also reaffirmed the long-term commitment of the United States to peace and security in the region."
U.S.-Egyptian scientist Ahmed Zewail once received a medal from President Hosni Mubarak. Now, he says, it's time for the Egyptian leader to heed the demonstrators clamoring for his departure. "He should step down tomorrow and allow for a transitional government," Zewail told Reuters in an interview on Wednesday.
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) -- Hamas says legal action against former Egyptian Minister of Interior Habib Al-Adili linking him to the Alexandria church bombing exposes the baselessness of the minister's accusations against Palestinians. The Islamist movement said in a statement that accusations that Palestinians targeted the Saints Church on New Year's Day was to incite the world against Palestinians, distort the resistance, and justify the blockade of Gaza.
An official at the Egyptian passports authority said on Wednesday that instructions were received banning entry of Palestinians into Egypt.
Media Suppression and Repression
A few years ago, he was one of Egypt's boldest bloggers, scathingly critical of his government and of conservative Islam. His release from prison came only last November, and now he's gone again.
Journalists working for major state-run dailies and television channels have revealed, off the record, that senior officials in their news organizations were corrupt, abused power, and lined their pockets at taxpayers' expense.
The wave of defiance against entrenched censorship and interference by the state in Egypt is likely to reach a crescendo tomorrow, when journalists are calling for a massive demonstration by media practitioners.
Protests/Protesters/Attacks Against Them & Eyewitness Accounts
The Lede continues to follow the protest movement in Egypt, now in its third week.
Striking doctors join protesters in central Cairo, with reports of walkouts by lawyers, textile workers and bus drivers around Egypt.
Doctors and lawyers among thousands of workers joining strike as anti-Mubarak demonstrations enter 17th day.
CAIRO - Thousands of state workers and impoverished Egyptians launched strikes and protests around the country on Wednesday over their economic woes as anti-government activists sought to expand their campaign to oust President Hosni Mubarak despite warnings from the vice president that protests won't be tolerated much longer.
Thousands have gathered in Tahrir oSquare to continue their call for President Hosni Mubarak's resignation. Three independent unions have joined them, meaning that in addition to the anti-Mubarak protests hundreds of workers are on strike in Cairo, Alexandria and Suez demanding better pay. But Mubarak is still in office - refusing to step down. Alan Fisher reports from Cairo
Wael Ghonim, a Google manager who has become something of a hero among Egyptian protesters, said on Wednesday that it is "no longer the time to negotiate" with the government. In an interview with CNN, Ghonim said, "We went on the streets on the 25th, and we wanted to negotiate. We wanted to talk to our government.... They decided to negotiate with us at night, with rubber bullets, with police sticks, with water hoses, with tear gas." According to CNN's Ivan Watson, Ghonim also said he is "ready to die" for the cause.
Dubai: Wael Ghonim, Google's marketing manager for the Middle East and North Africa, and one of the youth leaders of the ongoing Egyptian mass movement, has called on his compatriots from all over the world to return home and support the youth in Al Tahrir Square as they strive for a political rejuvenation in the country.
CAIRO (AFP) -- Cyberactivist Wael Ghonim, a young executive at internet giant Google, rallied thousands of pro-democracy demonstrators and catapulted to star status among Egypt's youth thanks to Facebook. Part fashionable marketing man, part engaging cyber-geek, the 30-year-old who launched the January 25 online call to arms against the Egyptian regime, has the polish of a politician in-the-making and an intellectual veneer.
'Egypt is my real mother. I must go save her,' said one of the men killed in the early days of the protests. Organizers are using images of the 'martyrs' and their mothers to keep passions stoked. Day laborer Mohammed Badr clearly didn't expect trouble when he left home to join the pro-democracy protests in Tahrir Square early on Jan. 29. He took his 5-year-old son, Mahmoud, and promised to return for dinner.
On Tuesday, February 8, protesters in Cairo began sleeping in front of the parliament building a short walk from Tahrir Square, the center of the protests. Their protest, like its twin in Tahrir, quickly exploded into a semi-permanent encampment, complete with graffiti. At the end of the video, one of the parliament protesters bears a street sign that used to say "Maglis el-Shaab" or "People's Assembly" street - now it just says "People's Street."
It is midnight in Egypt and protesters remain camped out on the streets of Cairo. But the fact that workers are on strike across the country may be a more worrying development for the government. We continue our live blogging for February 10, as protests enter the 17th day in Egypt.
The Lede continues to follow the protest movement in Egypt, now in its third week.
Egypt's protesters yesterday staged the largest protest since the democracy uprising began more than two weeks ago. Now, they may join forces with Egyptian laborers.
My sources have just confirmed this now. The Cairo Public Transportation workers, who started a strike today in six garages -- Nasr Station, Fateh Station, Ter'a Station, Amiriya Station, Mezzalat Station, Sawwah Station -- have issued a statement with a list of demands, calling for overthrowing Mubarak. No public buses will roam Cairo tomorrow, except those buses that will bring the drivers to the central station in Nasr City's el-Gabal el-Ahmar, where the strikers have announced they will declare an independent union. . . . This comes as strikes have spread literally everywhere. It's happening, people. It's happening. The working class has entered the arena with full force today. Mubarak's regime's fate will be sealed SOON!
Al Jazeera speaks to Hossam El-Hamalawy, a blogger and activist from Cairo, on the strikes set to sweep Egypt.
Egypt’s pro-democracy uprising is seizing new momentum one day after hundreds of thousands turned out for one of the largest protests in Cairo’s Tahrir Square to date. A gathering of protesters led to the evacuation of the Egyptian cabinet building today, and tent camps are also being set up outside the Egyptian parliament. Egypt’s labor movement has launched new strikes across the country, with an estimated 10,000 workers taking part. Democracy Now! Senior Producer Sharif Abdel Kouddous interviews a demonstrator outside the Egyptian parliament building.
Democracy Now! Senior Producer Sharif Abdel Kouddous speaks to Egyptian physician Dr. Ali El Mashad in Cairo’s Tahrir square over the weekend. Dr. Mashad describes being injured in the streets and bleeding from the head. “We are writing history by our blood,” he says. Mashad says he will not stop demonstrating until Mubarak leaves office.
Democracy Now! correspondent Anjali Kamat reports on the festive atmosphere in Tahrir Square last night following a record-level turnout of protesters: “People are taking care of each other very well, giving each other food, water and blankets. It is a very moving experience,” Kamat says.
My sources has just confirmed this now… The Cairo Public Transportation workers, who started a strike today in five Garages: Nasr Station, Fateh Station, Ter’a Station, Amiriya Station, Mezzalat Station, Sawwah Station, have issued a statement with a list of demands, calling for overthrowing Mubarak. No public buses will roam Cairo tomorrow, except those buses that will bring the drivers to the central station in Nasr City’s el-Gabal el-Ahmar, where the strikers have announced they will declare an independent union.The strikers’ statement has also called for abolishing the emergency law, removing NDP from the state institutions, dissolving the parliament, drafting new constitution, forming a national unity govt and setting a national minimum wage of LE1200 and prosecuting corrupt officials… This comes as strikes have spread literally everywhere… It’s happening people… It’s happening… The working class has entered the arena with full force today. Mubarak’s regime’s fate will be sealed off SOON!
Al Jazeera meets the newly formed "youth coalition" who are speaking on behalf of a broad array of voices in the square.
I spent most of the day today walking around Downtown Cairo and Midan Tahrir. There are still tens of thousands of people in the square. A definite rhythm has established itself, with Tuesday and Fridays the serious turn-out days; the rest of the week a moulid-like atmosphere pervades the area, with families visiting it, taking pictures next to tanks and the various memorials and displays set up in the square--out on the fun excursion. Some genius has started making hundreds of laminated مصر فوق الجميع ("Egypt Above Us All") tags that you can wear around your neck (they sell for 2 pounds, about 30 cents). Sellers are also doing a brisk business in Egyptian flags, snacks and drinks. Opposition newspapers are taped to walls so everyone can read them; and some enterprising local restaurateur has set up shop in the demolished Hardee's.
Almost universally, everyone I’ve spoken to who isn’t in Egypt over the past few days has expressed a concern that the revolutionary fervor here is waning. I am happy to report that isn’t what I’ve been witnessing. But a few new developments both here and internationally are worth discussing. News that economic activity was returning to Cairo appeared to suggest that the protesters had begun to grow weary. That isn’t what I’ve observed. Yesterday, more people participated in the Tahrir demonstration than at any other time in the past 16 days. What surprised me was the number of first-time demonstrators who showed up. I don’t doubt that the Ghonim interview touched a lot of people and encouraged them to participate (and many hope he'll lead the movement). But, I also think that increased food and cash security alleviated the sense of siege that persisted for much of last week. For instance, food and water were very difficult to come by in downtown Cairo on Friday and Saturday. Yesterday, I was offered food and drinks at pretty short and regular intervals. I think that that security positively impacted energy levels and turnout.
Cinema actors and actresses have issued a statement in support of the revolution and will be staging a march today Thursday 12 pm in solidarity from their syndicate headquarters to Tahrir Square…
CAIRO (AFP) -- Like a rock star, Ali Elfi faces adoring crowds, a microphone in hand as he belts out lines. But his lyrics are anti-regime chants and his stage is Cairo's protest central: Tahrir Square. Elfi is dressed like a rocker, in jeans and a leather jacket, but his role is more like that of an orchestra conductor, controlling the mood of the crowd, riling them up and leading call-and-response chants against the government.
Video of Egyptian Workers Protesting and Parliament Takeover & More
Great Pictures Capturing the Revolution
The Role of Social Media
As the Egyptian government has sought to splinter a protest movement led by young professionals, its leaders have stepped forward for the first time to describe their hidden role.
Social media has been dubbed the new tool for revolutionaries. But with many of the protesters on the ground having little or no access to the internet in Egypt, can social media really be credited with sparking the recent uprisings across the Middle East?
CAIRO – President Hosni Mubarak's supporters took their battle against anti-government protesters to cyberspace but their voices were drowned out by an army of tech-savvy activists willing to wage keyboard war. Anti-regime street protests had for years been stifled by Egypt's powerful security apparatus but, much to everyone's surprise, it only took a few clicks to launch the biggest ever challenge to Mubarak's 30-year presidency.
While the uprising in Egypt caught most observers of the Middle East off guard, it did not come out of the blue. The seeds of this spectacular mobilization had been sown as far back as the early 2000s and had been carefully cultivated by activists from across the political spectrum, many of these working online via Facebook, twitter, and within the Egyptian blogosphere. Working within these media, activists began to forge a new political language, one that cut across the institutional barriers that had until then polarized Egypt’s political terrain, between more Islamicly-oriented currents (most prominent among them, the Muslim Brotherhood) and secular-liberal ones. Since the rise of the Islamist Revival in the 1970s, Egypt’s political opposition had remained sharply divided around contrasting visions of the proper place of religious authority within the country’s social and political future, with one side viewing secularization as the eminent danger, and the other emphasizing the threat of politicized religion to personal freedoms and democratic rights. This polarity tended to result in a defensive political rhetoric and a corresponding amplification of political antagonisms, a dynamic the Mubarak regime has repeatedly encouraged and exploited over the last 30 years in order to ensure a weak opposition. What was striking about the Egyptian blogosphere as it developed in the last 7 or so years is the extent to which it engendered a political language free from the problematic of secularization vs. fundamentalism that had governed so much of political discourse in the Middle East and elsewhere.
In the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah last weekend, security forces belonging to the Palestinian Authority attempted to pacify a protest of 2,000 persons.
Several hundred students rallied in central Gaza on Wednesday in a show of solidarity with the ongoing anti-government protests in Egypt
Friends of the Dictator
Today's first hearing of the Republican-led House Foreign Affairs Committee was dominated by the question of how much the United States should fear the empowerment of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood and what leverage should be used against the Egyptian military to get them to behave in accordance with U.S. interests. Chairwoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) opened the hearing with a broad criticism of the Obama administration's handling of the crisis in Egypt, which she said is now tilting too far in support of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and is failing to counteract the threat posed by the rise of Islamist parties such as the Muslim Brotherhood.
Peaceful demonstrators targeted by Palestinian Authority security forces during a demonstration in support of the Egyptian uprising.
As'ad Abukhalil's Commentary
This is a picture of the heroic Egyptian Army. I am reminded of its heroism as I listen to Muhammad Hasanayn Haykal praise the Egyptian Army.
"The President spoke today with King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia about the situation in Egypt. The President emphasized the importance of taking immediate steps toward an orderly transition that is meaningful, lasting, legitimate, and responsive to the aspirations of the Egyptian people. The President also reaffirmed the long-term commitment of the United States to peace and security in the region."
"The agency has cultivated its relationships with people such as Gen. Omar Suleiman, Egypt's chief of intelligence and now vice
president, but it has not done as well understanding the world of the protesters."
A reader at Emory University sent me this account): "yesterday, there was a panel discussion in EMory University about the egyptian revolution. It was a joke. The panelists were so "white". The whole 2-hour discussion boiled down to discussing the fear from the muslim brotherhood and how they should be careful not to let the brother take over. One of the speakers, a pro-israeli prof. and the director of the "institute for the study of modern Israel" at Emory, was discussing something when he said that israel "withdrew" from Sinai in 1973. Another speaker called Michael Youssef, a pastor, said that egyptians dont know what a tyrant is and then he went on to explain the suffering of the jews. Then I interfered and was made to shut up. his whole argument was flawed and focused on the brotherhood control of egypt and comparing that to iran. Another thing he said was: " make no mistake, aljazeera English is completely the opposite from the arabic channel because it has american anchors". He also said that he saw people getting paid money to stay in the "Midan el Ta7rir" (though he has not been in egypt recently". I felt it was so weird to highjack the stage and intead of talking about the dreams and aspirations of the live and dead egyptians and their courage for change but rather go and scare the audience from something that does not really exist (at least now). I thought u might want to know that about emory."
"Should the government of Hosni Mubarak be replaced by one not truly committed to freedom and peace, the consequences for Israel could be devastating. As Egypt struggles toward an internal balance that appeases all forces, including the Muslim Brotherhood, peace with Israel could be the price of an Egyptian compromise. And the risks are worse if the Brotherhood, an organization deeply hostile to Israel, America and the West, gets to call the shots."
The Tunisian and Egyptian revolutions heralded a new Arab era in which it is possible to couple freedom and social rights, sovereignty and citizenship. Arab regimes will not deride their populations anymore; and they will be facing a choice between comprehensive reforms and the complete overthrow of the regime. On the level of political powers and ideological splits, everything will change as well. Past divisions will lose their significance for the importance of past debates between ideological currents has greatly diminished. None of these actors was capable of engaging with the challenge of overthrowing despotism, and the phenomenon of new social powers that reject injustice and embrace ethical values without giving up their identity has risen. A new polyarchy shall emerge, and leading the ranks will be a thought that can combine democracy, social justice, and Arab identity without denying the legacy of the Islamic civilization.
The longtime Middle East correspondent of The Independent newspaper in London joins us from Cairo to talk about the popular uprising ongoing across Egypt, its regional implications, and how Obama should respond. “[The protesters] are asking for nothing less than Americans expect in their own lives,” Fisk says.
There is nothing like an Arab revolution to show up the hypocrisy of your friends. Especially if that revolution is one of civility and humanism and powered by an overwhelming demand for the kind of democracy that we enjoy in Europe and America. The pussyfooting nonsense uttered by Obama and La Clinton these past two weeks is only part of the problem. From "stability" to "perfect storm" – Gone With the Wind might have recommended itself to the State Department if they really must pilfer Hollywood for their failure to adopt moral values in the Middle East – we've ended up with the presidential "now-means-yesterday", and "orderly transition", which translates: no violence while ex-air force General Mubarak is put out to graze so that ex-intelligence General Suleiman can take over the regime on behalf of America and Israel.
When the uprising began in Egypt and tanks deployed on the streets on January 28, the military was initially welcomed. Perhaps many thought it had carried out a coup against Mubarak (in fact it probably partially has), and many more still cherished the myth of the Egyptian army triumphant in 1973 after the defeat of 1967. Things began to turn last week when the army stood and did nothing while pro-Mubarak thugs attacked the crowd in Tahrir. The protestors issued an ultimatum to the army to pick its side: with them, or with Mubarak. The army has still done nothing. Then, over the weekend, military police (and probably military intelligence) were deployed to beef up security on the streets. It then came out that they have been arresting dozens if not hundreds of people, and began raiding the offices of human rights activists and visiting the homes of people asking to poke around their computers.
People & Power reveals the story behind the unprecedented political protests in Egypt. Over the course of a remarkable fortnight, People&Power has been filming exclusively behind the scenes with a core group of young activists.
CAIRO – Over recent years, Egypt has witnessed mounting tension between its Muslim majority and its sizeable Coptic Christian minority. But in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, the site of ongoing mass protests against the ruling regime, members of both faiths chant in unison: "Muslim, Christian, doesn’t matter; We’re all in this boat together!"
Egypt’s exhilarating call for freedom, as Elliot Cola recently noted is an astonishing moment of poetry. The refrain, “Ish-sha‘b/yu-rîd/is-qât/in-ni-zâm,” [The People Want the Fall of the Regime]resoundingly rings for millions in the Arab world and beyond. With all eyes on Liberation Square, many are wrestling with what Maya Mikdashi aptly called the unfamiliar restlessness of hope. As the twists and turns of the 25 January Revolution quickly unfold, another extraordinary process is taking place. The relentless resilience of Egyptians risking life and limb for freedom has seared cracks in the sky and revealed another horizon of politics.
The Egyptian "kill switch" was simultaneously a technical success and a mystifying strategic blunder. Could other governments implement such a kill switch?
It is no secret that President Barack Obama has been in some regards a profound disappointment to the American Left, and his erratic and often disgraceful performance on the Egypt crisis exemplifies his faults in this regard. He just seems to lack empathy with the little people and is unwilling to buck the rich and powerful, even though they all opposed his run for the presidency. As Iran’s speaker of the house put it, the Obama administration, faced with a choice of supporting the youth revolution or the camels unleashed on it, has chosen the camels. It makes a person think there should be rule that no one can run for the presidency who didn’t have a proper father figure in his or her life (Bill Clinton, W., Obama), since apparently once they get into office they start thinking the billionaires are their long-lost parent, whom they have to bend over backward to please.
This is a simple enough choice between liberty and tyranny, yet the White House has done nothing but equivocate and dodge. The administration of Barack Obama has reacted to the uprising against Hosni Mubarak with the enthusiasm of a man condemned to consume a gallon of plain yoghurt. The president of the United States is not against Egyptian democracy, exactly – but neither is he especially for it.
On the one hand there is vice-president Omar Suleiman, and on the other young activist Wael Ghonim. You only have to hear and see the two men for a few minutes to understand what is at stake in Egypt. On the one hand there is vice-president Omar Suleiman, with his clipped moustache and beautifully cut suits. Clearly intelligent, but also inherently slippery, his words are intended to be reassuring, but every now and then there is a hint of menace. He may well be less wily and less in control than he likes to appear, as our story today on the state of negotiations suggests, but this is still the face of a survivor, a fixer, and a believer in the authority over others of old foxes like himself which his own body language so obviously conveys.
The call begins with a song portraying the love people of Egypt have for their country. Caller: My love for you, Egypt increases by the day. And you know that Egypt. You know it Egypt. You know that I live and die for you. Every day I love you more than the day before. It ends here my dear country, so be happy and proud of your children and martyrs. Because we want no safe comfort. I swear to you we gave up everything, just so we can hold onto you, dear country. So be filled with joy, because that’s it! We are freeing you! And in no time you will become again the magnificent country you once were. Be happy, because the next regime that will rule you will be worthy of that responsibility, it will be everything unlike the lowlife revolting system led by the lowlife Mubarak and his followers. I swear to God you will be free, and soon! Because, we are not leaving. I swear we are not leaving. We are not buying all this nonsense talk about negotiation. All these negotiation’s meetings being planned are fruitless, because it is just a charade played by 2 parts of the corrupted system and political parties trying to converse together. And this is not our conversation. And pardon me for saying this, but before people used to grovel for the sake of those political parties but not anymore. So again I repeat we are not leaving before we cleanse Egypt from this corrupted regime. This regime must be wiped out completely. He and his followers will that robbed this country.
With every passing day, the Egyptian uprising gathers strength as more citizens rally to the cause and demand the immediate resignation of Hosni Mubarak. The regime’s pillars are crumbling. Yesterday, the demonstrators surged out of Tahrir Square and marched towards the National Assembly and the building that houses the Ministry of Interior. But perhaps the most important development was the smaller demonstrations held in front of government owned media outlets and the resignations of a number of prominent journalists on the regime’s payroll.
We are witnessing a historic moment in Egypt and the Arab world. The youth of the region have a revolutionary opportunity to enfranchise citizens---this is the antithesis of the entire post-colonial formula. I am trying to identify the tangible but radical changes that can take place. Clearly there are many forces in Egypt that might undermine this revolutionary situation. The old political parties, and most importantly the Muslim Brotherhood—might try cutting deals. I think the most that may come out of this is a serious democratic revolution--not a small achievement--to alter relations of power, and promote a serious agenda for socio-economic justice. The role of youth and the street is crucial, and their new form of organization (network as opposed to hierarchical) is an advantage but it has its pitfalls and limitations. It is unparalleled, but who and what will play a crucial role in reversing the social and political relations? I am unable to provide an answer for this from Orange, CA.
After actively supporting Mubarak's corrupt and violent rule, the west has a duty to help end it. This week has seen the biggest protest in the history of Egypt. Millions have demonstrated in Cairo and other cities all over the country – north, south, east, and west. All had the same demands. The first, as the world knows now, is that the dictator Hosni Mubarak must step down.
The media have focused on Facebook and Twitter, but the pro-democracy movements have flourished thanks to unions. Perhaps the most overlooked factor in the demise of the authoritarian Ben Ali regime in Tunisia, and the weakening of Hosni Mubarak's grip on state power in Egypt, has been the trade unions in both countries. While the media has reported on social networks such as Twitter and Facebook as revolutionary methods of mobilisation, it was the old-fashioned working class that enabled the pro-democracy movements to flourish.
On February 8, 2011 Secretary of Defense and ex-CIA chief Robert Gates urged “ governments in the region” to “take measures to begin moving in a positive direction toward addressing the political and economic grievances of their people." The mantra has droned out of Obama administration corridors for weeks including Hilary Clinton’s now infamous and indeed racist admonition of Arab regimes to reform in early January. In Doha, the Secretary of State criticizes the “corrupt institutions and stagnant political order,” which are “sinking into the sands.” For anyone vaguely familiar with the modern history of the Middle East, the rhetoric of reform espoused by Gates, Clinton and Obama among others smacks of a grotesque hybrid of arrogant superpower paternalism and selective memory.
The new script in Egypt is out of an all-too-familiar playbook: Pick the longtime chief of Egyptian intelligence who has consistently done our bidding in matters of torture and retrofit him as a modern democratic leader.
The Obama administration has acted in accordance with standard U.S. operating procedure by supporting a dictatorial government, regardless how oppressive and undemocratic, in the name of serving U.S. national interest.
Hundreds of thousands of protesters in Egypt's capital and across the country remain resilient. They continue "mass demonstrations, with a new wave of optimism reaching the pro-democracy camp.
It's time to put State Department 2.0 to work, and the next step is to make more confident statements and commitments to supporting civil society.
The US and its allies have to realise the Egypt they have been dealing with is no more than a figment of their imagination. There is no doubt in my mind that the Egyptian uprising that started on 25 January has caused a political earthquake whose aftershocks will resonate not only in Egypt but way beyond its borders as well. It will redraw lines, remap political topographies and create new perceptions. Those who ignore this fact will do so at their own peril.
On June 6, 2010, soft-spoken businessman Khaled Said, 28, had his dinner before retreating to his room and embarking on his daily routine of surfing the Internet, blogging, and chatting with his friends on different social websites. Several days earlier, he had posted a seven-minute online video of Alexandria police officers dividing up confiscated drugs among themselves.
For a few days, the imperial gang thought they had turned the tide -- and their stenographers in the mainstream media followed suit. The protests in Egypt were running out of gas, we were told; now the power players were coming to the fore, in Washington and Cairo, to take charge of the situation and move things along -- slowly, moderately -- down a path of gradual reform and stability.
As I write this hundreds of thousands have again filled Tahrir Square in Cairo, and hundreds of thousands more march in Alexandria on the Mediterranean coast , demanding an end to the authoritarian, pro-US government , pro-neoliberal regime that has caused the Egyptian people such suffering under the 30 year rule of Hosni Mubarak. Along with their revolutionary fellow Arabs in Tunisia, Egyptians fighting for democracy and for a better life, and against injustice and inequality are on the front line in the battle for global civilization today. For it is civilization itself, global society as a whole that is at stake in the struggle taking place in the streets and squares of Egypt and across the Arab world. To understand this however, we need to understand the full, global context of these struggles and revolutions.
When the Soviet empire collapsed, the way was opened for the triumphalist pursuit of the American imperial project, seizing the opportunity for geopolitical expansion provided by its self-anointed global leadership - as 'the sole surviving superpower'.
Albert Einstein is often quoted as saying that doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results is a definition of insanity. He might have been describing the foreign policy of the United States of America. In the past week we long suffering citizens have seen our government stand by the dictator in Egypt, then call on him to go, and most recently support his staying on while at the same time publicly demanding that some transition start immediately. All of which is not doing the same thing over and over except when one considers that the US Department of State and White House have followed precisely the same dysfunctional pattern when dealing with other client states throughout the Middle East and in Central Asia. Take one position based on faulty and incomplete information, then take a contrary position when it appears that the first position was rash, finally shifting into yet a third formulation when numbers one and two turn out to be fraught with unintended consequences.
Tunisia and Egypt Ripples Felt Throughout Arab World
Jordan's King Abdullah swore in a new government on Wednesday, replacing a business friendly prime minister with an ex-general in response to anti-government protests inspired by uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt.
AFP - Hundreds of lawyers took to the streets across Iraq on Thursday to protest against widespread corruption and unemployment in demonstrations inspired by anti-government uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia.
Ongoing protests in Egypt are inspiring anti-government demonstrations in Iraq.
GLUED TO television sets in Ramallah’s shisha cafes, Palestinians have been watching al-Jazeera television attentively as Egyptian people rise up from Alexandria to Cairo. Looking on with admiration as tens of thousands fill the streets during the January 28th “Day of Rage”, cheers erupt through the cafes with every police retreat and every Molotov cocktail that lands on security vehicles. It was fresh reaction of unity and optimism following the shame that rocked Palestinian society earlier in the week in the wake of al-Jazeera’s release of the “Palestine Papers”, the more than 1,600 documents (part of the WikiLeaks hoard) on the US-brokered peace process exposing the extent of Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) collaboration with Israel.
Human rights advocates greeted the change guardedly, warning that the government might try to monitor activity on social networking sites.
Comrade Farag sent me this: "Also for some background information on why the 17th of Feb. copied from a news group that i belong to: 3. The Feb. 17th date comemmorates the following, so make sure you talk about it in your tweets. - In 1987 a group of shabab were executed--their bodies dragged through the streets of Benghazi and left outside for days--for killing Ahmed Mufda' Werfelli. Werfelli was one of Gaddafi's executionners. He was known to smile and laugh when he put nooses around the people's neck he executed. He was also known for going through the markets, bullying people and gnerally being a jerk. A group of young men followed him and killed him. They were executed for their role. - In 2006 the government called people into the streets, in front of the Italian embassy, to protest the Italian ambassador wearing a t-shirt with the infamous cartoon of the prophet. When people went to the embassy they began to riot...quickly the security forces turned against the people--beating them, etc. The chants then transformed into chants against the regime and gaddafi himself. 18 people were confirmed dead...more were probably killed, they were all young people with one being 15 years old. And 700 were imprisoned, many of which are still in jail. The protests spread through the region--reaching Tobruk. We are commemorating these brutal attacks on the people. 4. Gaddafi yesterday gathered a bunch of people, activists, bloggers, etc...to tell them, among other things, that if anybody joins these protests that their tribes will be punished. In hopes that the tribes will keep people quiet. He also said that all of these things were CIA and Mossad conspiracies to tear down Libya. He said that Mubarak wasn't a rich man...he borrowed his clothes from people. He said a lot of delusional things, but mostly he wanted to scare people and to get the tribes to restrain people. 5. One of the Revolutionary committees (Gaddafi's vanguard) called people to the streets to protest on 17th...as if Gaddafi was going to join them and demand his rights too. Today they organized a protest in Tripoli in front of the Main building of the People's committee in Tripoli. They were blaming AlBaghdadi, the secretary of the committee, for everything in Libya....so you can see where this is all going. Gaddafi's committees hijaking people'es legitimate claims. Tweet about it, talk about it. Please if you know any tidbit of info post it to dufungy immediately."
Economic dependency and an oppressive security state is the recipe that many dictatorial, one-person, or one-party regimes apply across the region. This model was followed by the once American-supported, and then American-deposed Saddam Hussein, to Libya's Muammar Qaddafi, who was first a pariah in the West and then became its darling, to Tunisia's Zine El Abedine Ben Ali who was overthrown by his people, among others. While the Egyptian people stand steadfast in an effort to overthrow their own Pharoah, a similar "pharoah regime" is steadily being built for Palestinians in the West Bank.