Seham's links on Egypt (8 February 2011)
Seham is quite simply amazing:
Wael Abbas published recordings with prisoners from Kanatar prison who are speaking the inhuman treatment and the massacre they facing from January 26, 2011. There is a very particular recording that made me stop , this recording is the testimony of some unnamed prisoner who claimed that General Mohamed El-Batran was killed by the police itself at Al-Kantar prison. According to this unnamed prisoner El-Batran was shot down along with his assistant by police snipers from the prison’s tower.
CAIRO — At least 297 people have been killed since Egypt's anti-government uprising began two weeks ago, U.S.-based Human Rights Watch told The Associated Press on Monday.
CAIRO: Egypt’s feared state security services are using torture as much as they ever did, rights activists say, with no sign that their horrifying tactics are about to change despite the regime’s promise of reform. Rights groups say that anger against routine police abuse and torture has been a driving force behind the massive popular protests in which at least 300 people have died and an unknown number were detained.
Hosni Mubarak may travel to Germany as a patient as part of a graceful exit strategy, Der Spiegel reports, a move organized by the US and Egyptian governments.
The Egyptian government says it is moving towards a "clear map" for a power transfer, as protests against President Hosni Mubarak continue.
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak "seeks to avoid conflict and spare his people from the violence he predicts would emerge from unleashed personal and civil liberties. In Mubarak's mind, it is far better to let a few individuals suffer than risk chaos for society as a whole."
Omar Soliman sat with Christiane and had that very short interview which was aired on ABC. This was the second televised interview for general Soliman after being the VP. The first interview was with the Egyptian TV and surprisingly this interview is much worse than the first interview. This is his first interview in a foreign channel after being the VP.
2008 cable quotes senior Defense Ministry official as telling US that in the event of Egyptian president's death, "There is no question that Israel is most comfortable with the prospect of Suleiman."
Suleiman, a friend to the US and reported torturer, has long been touted as a presidential successor.
The Obama administration’s support of Vice President Omar Suleiman shows a reliance on the existing regime to make changes it has steadfastly resisted for years.
The Obama administration feels the approach is needed to reassure Middle East allies of U.S. loyalty. But gradual reform isn't going to satisfy the protest movement in Cairo. The Obama administration has reconciled itself to gradual political reform in Egypt, an approach that reflects its goal of maintaining stability in the Middle East but is at odds with demands of the protest movement in Cairo that President Hosni Mubarak relinquish power immediately.
CAIRO, Feb 7 (Reuters) - Former Egyptian Interior Minister Habib el-Adli has appeared before military prosecutors and may face charges of causing a breakdown in order, a security source said on Monday, during protests against President Hosni Mubarak. The source said Adli, who was in court on Sunday, could be be charged with withdrawing security forces from the streets during the uprising, ordering live fire on protesters and releasing prisoners from jail.
Egypt protests have sought Mubarak's removal. The Muslim Brotherhood suddenly dropped that demand in talks Sunday, angering participants in Egypt protests and causing an apparent split in the group's ranks.
United against their president, demonstrators in Tahrir Square have managed to bridge the country's political divides.
CAIRO: Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood said it could pull out of talks with the government if opposition demands were not met, including the immediate exit of President Hosni Mubarak who chaired a Cabinet meeting Monday. Protesters, barricaded in a tent camp in Tahrir Square in the heart of Cairo, have vowed to stay until Mubarak quits and hope to take their campaign to the streets with more mass demonstrations Tuesday and Friday.
The State Department now acknowledges that "elements" of the Egyptian military have taken part in the violent crackdown on journalists and activists in Cairo over the past few days, calling into question the positive influence and neutrality of the military, which the Obama administration praised last week. Human rights activists in Washington and Cairo reported last week uniformed Egyptian military personnel were directly involved in the arrest, detention, and interrogation of human rights activists in Egypt, including the raid on the Hisham Mubarak Law Center, which included the arrest of Human Rights Watch researcher Daniel Williams. In a gripping first-hand account on Monday, Williams explained the extensive role of Egyptian military personnel in his incarceration.
The Obama administration's message on Egypt and the fate of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has been evolving ever since protesters took to the streets of Cairo on Jan. 25, but conflicting messages from different parts of the administration are complicating the U.S. stance going forward.
The official U.S. response to events unfolding in Egypt remains mixed. Over the weekend, the Obama administration distanced itself from U.S. “crisis envoy” to Egypt Frank Wisner after he issued a statement in support in support of President Hosni Mubarak. Revealing a possible conflict of interest, British journalist Robert Fisk recently reported Wisner works for the law firm Patton Boggs, which openly boasts that it advises "the Egyptian military, the Egyptian Economic Development Agency, and has handled arbitrations and litigation on the [Mubarak] government’s behalf in Europe and the U.S." We are joined by Trinity College Professor Vijay Prashad, who has written about Wisner’s history with the U.S. Department of State and his close relationship with Mubarak.
Uber-diplomat Frank Wisner won't be making any public remarks on the crisis in Egypt anytime soon; the Obama administration has directed him to steer clear of the press following his command performance in Munich, where he went off the reservation of the Obama administration's policy and forced the administration to distance itself from him and his remarks.
One lawyer says interrogators whipped him with a rubber hose and burned him with cigarettes. Former detainees say they'll continue to demonstrate. The young lawyer sat in a cafe, burn marks on his hands, purple and yellow bruises hidden under the legs of his jeans. He knows he might be followed, but he doesn't care. He says that telling his story might be the only way to protect himself.
Wael Ghonim, a Google executive and political activist,arrested on 25 January by Egyptian authorities has been released.
Google executive Wael Ghonim speaks after release from Egyptian custody, sparking outpouring of support from protesters.
After several rumors throughout the day, Google has now confirmed that its executive Wael Ghonim was freed today by Egyptian authorities. Ghonim himself announced the news in a tweet, stating: "Freedom is a bless that deserves fighting for it. #Jan25" Google tweeted, "Huge relief--Wael Ghonim has been released. Our love to him and his family."
Ayman Mohyeldin, Al Jazeera's correspondent in Cairo who was held by the military outside Tahrir (Liberation) Square on Monday, has spoken to the network about the experience following his release. "As we have been for the past several weeks, we've been reporting daily from Liberation Square, and yesterday as I was making my way into Liberation Square I was essentially stopped by the Egyptian military," said Mohyeldin. "There was a young recruit there ... who asked me for my identification. And when I presented him with my identification, he asked me 'What you are coming to do?'." "I simply said I was a journalist, I didn't really have any major equipment on me, just a small camera and my cellphones. "Immediately it seemed like he was taken aback, suprised perhaps by my identity. At that time they didn't know who I was working for, and they didn't ask me, really. "It was just the mere fact that I was a journalist who was trying to go into Liberation Square that seemed to be enough for them to take me for further questioning." Handcuffed Mohyeldin describes how he was taken to a separate holding area, where he was handcuffed with plastic strips, had his equipment taken off him and was interrogated. At least two other journalists were already present at the holding area. Other detainees appeared to have been severely beaten, intimidated and at least one person broke down in tears under the pressure. While foreign journalists were released fairly quickly, Mohyeldin and a Reuters cameraman of Palestinian descent were held for an extended period. All of the detainees who were released were told to sign a document that said that they would not attempt to return to Tahrir Square without permission from the military.
Cradling an assault rifle, the soldier in the sand-colored camouflage uniform stood on a chair, haranguing the group of men and women inside the Hisham Mubarak Law Center, a noted human rights organization in Cairo. "You want to go outside?" he asked our group. "They will kill you."
Reporting on the Egyptian uprising has been not only difficult, but even dangerous for many domestic and foreign journalists. Tactics used against media workers include cutting phone lines, repeated arrests and detention, harassment, the seizure of equipment and intimidation. The first fatality of a journalist was also reported last week. Democracy Now! senior producer Sharif Abdel Kouddous speaks with journalists in Cairo’s Tahrir Square. He also visits a media tent set up by activists to collect reports from people on the streets.
To call the ongoing people’s revolts in Tunisia and Egypt FaceBook revolutions is certainly overstating the case. In both countries, the time was ripe for revolution and social upheaval. Poverty, repression and hopelessness were enforced by greedy U.S.-supported despots who were deaf to the needs of their people. But there is little doubt that the recent street-protest revolts in Tunis and Cairo were assisted by new social media: Facebookers, tweeters and a new generation of Internet bloggers.
Protests/Protesters/Attacks Against Them & Eyewitness Accounts
The youth of Egypt have stood their ground and struggled against the tyrants. We have faced bullets against bare chests with great courage and patience. We salute the great Egyptian people, the creators of this revolution. For that reason, we affirm that victory is the fall of Mubarak and his regime.
Tens of thousands pour into central Cairo seeking President Mubarak's ouster, despite a slew of government concessions.
Al Jazeera has obtained footage showing violent clashes between Mubarak loyalists and pro-democracy protesters on the night between February 2 and 3. In one clip, Mubarak loyalists are seen driving into a crowd of pro-democracy protesters, who then set upon them. In another, shots are fired on protesters on a bridge. Al Jazeera's Andrew Simmons in Cairo has more. [Warning: the images in this footage may disturb some viewers.]
Pro-democracy supporters hold fresh rallies in Cairo, just hours after the release of a detained Google executive.
Wael Ghonim, an Internet activist who helped organize the Jan. 25 protests, was held in secret detention until yesterday. Protesters hold him up as a symbol of why the regime can't be trusted.
Even after two weeks, central Cairo's Tahrir Square remains the heartbeat of the pro-democracy movement.
In Cairo's Tahrir [Liberation] Square, there's a growing sense of camaraderie, as demonstrators continue to rally until Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak steps down. As the unrest enters its third week, protesters are forging close bonds, and exploring new ways of making their voices heard. Al Jazeera's Sherine Tadros reports from Cairo.
New video footage shows violent confrontations between protesters and government supporters.
Newly appointed Egyptian vice president Omar Suleiman held talks on Sunday with opposition groups in Cairo in an attempt to stem the anti-government protests that continue across the country. Suleiman agreed to several major concessions, including ending the country’s decades-old emergency laws (he did not say when), allowing a free press (even as another Al Jazeera reporter was arrested), and creating a constitutional reform committee. The top demand of demonstrators--the immediate removal of President Hosni Mubarak from power--was not addressed. Protests continue today across Egypt, and tens of thousands of demonstrators have held their ground in Tahrir Square amidst a heavy military presence. To further explain these developments, we are joined by Democracy Now! senior producer Sharif Abdel Kouddous and Hossam Bahgat, an Egyptian human rights activist live from Cairo. [includes rush transcript–partial]
Pro-democracy protesters in Cairo appear unmoved after talks between the Egyptian government and opposition groups. People are still gathering in Tahrir Square but the space they are allowed to occupy is getting smaller as authorities are trying to get life back to normal in the capital. Al Jazeera's Alan Fisher reports.
University professors will gather tomorrow, Tuesday, 12:30pm in front of their club headquarters, and will stage a march in support of the revolution, joining the protesters in Tahrir. Also, tomorrow 12 noon, journalists will gather at their syndicate, in an emergency meeting to lobby for impeaching their state-backed syndicate head, Makram Mohamed Ahmed.
I spoke with actress Yosra el-Lozy, who’s been attending the Tahrir protests, and she says there is roughly 265 members of the Cinema Syndicate who signed a statement denouncing the President of the Syndicate’s pro-regime position, and expressing the actors’ refusal for negotiations with the regime.
Central Cairo has been the site of numerous protest signs, ranging from the poignant to the giggle-incuding. This one straddles a line between the two, invoking dark humor. It says, in reference to Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak: "Hitler committed suicide, you can too."
It might not have been the fairytale venue of her dreams, but Ola Abdel Hamid's choice to marry Ahmed Zaafan in the heart of Cairo's Tahrir Square was nonetheless a moving moment in the mass demonstrations against Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.
On Friday, the holy day for Islam, Christian protesters in Tahrir Square joined hands to form a protective cordon around their Muslim countrymen so they could pray in safety. Sunday, the Muslims returned the favor. They surrounded Christians celebrating Mass in Cairo's central plaza, ground zero for the secular pro-democracy protests reverberating throughout the Middle East.
The brave protesters on the streets of Cairo face many challenges. Among them, flying rocks and projectiles cause many injuries. With limited resources at the scene, we take a look at how people are improvising to protect themselves. It's amazing to see what people will do when they have to adapt to survive.
One of the protesters who are sleeping in front of the army tanks in Tahrir Square. Yesterday, the army tried moving in to restrict the protest space in the square. The revolutionaries moved quickly, took out the barbed wire installed by the army, forming human chain on the ground.
Demonstrators continue to demand Mubarak’s resignation, as people attempt to resume lives. CAIRO: Cairo protesters dug in for a long fight Monday, pressing their demand for an overhaul of the political system and the resignation of President Hosni Mubarak as many Egyptians tried to resume their normal lives. Up to 2,000 people bedded down overnight under blankets and tents made from plastic sheeting in Tahrir Square. Some slept while others camped out on woolen blankets as national and revolutionary songs blared out from loudspeakers.
CAIRO: For many Egyptians abroad, watching raging anti-regime protests on television was not enough. They made excuses at work, convinced their families and booked flights home to join the “revolution.” For some the decision was easy. They were seeing a lifelong dream unfold in their homeland, and they knew they had to get there to take part. For others, it was more difficult. They struggled to work out whether their presence would be useful and how they could leave behind jobs and family.
On the night of Tuesday, February 8, Tahrir Square took on a festival atmosphere, with a man playing an acoustic guitar to a crowd of hundreds.
In the six days since anti-government demonstrators defended central Cairo in vicious street battles, the occupied square has turned into a warden of semi-permanent housing.
In recent days, the civilian blockades that check for identification cards and screen for weapons at the entryways to the square have been augmented by a celebratory greeting crew that welcomes visitors with chants of "Here, here, here! The Egyptians are here!"
2/7/11 Tahrir Square and videos from the revolution
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jPBw7gHa5Mk&feature=player_embedded http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u3lmaTz8IGc&feature=player_embedded http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tGMW4uratOA&feature=player_embedded http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n5TasR6u3Vc&feature=player_embedded http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dkJQyLy7nOc&feature=player_embedded http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TDjxz624KD8&feature=player_embedded http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0IEU3ktuT7Y&feature=player_embedded http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VJzzwXJPyyM&feature=player_embedded http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MegPz5115GU&feature=player_embedded http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9U-D-PO1vAQ&feature=player_embedded
Call to Action
If you are Egyptian or live in Egypt then please use this form and send it to the general prosecutor ASAP through Fax , we are asking the general prosecutor to open an investigation about minister of information Anas El-Fiky. Anas El-Fiky is accused of spreading hate and lies in the society , yes we are accusing him of hate crime. His official media whether in TV or radio or newspaper accused us and the El-Tahrir protesters of being traitors working for Iran and Israel and even Mars for $ 50 and KFC meal !!
We need mass protests in Lebanon in solidarity with the Egyptian revolution. We need the Lebanese trade unions to issue statements on our behalf. We need Lebanese student unions to lobby the Egyptian embassy continuously… Our revolution will change this region, and turn it upside down. If we succeed, not only we will liberating Egypt, but we will be striking the biggest blow to US imperialism and Zionism in the region… Solidarity…
Video of the Sayyed Speaking, most poignant part towards the end when he says:"Yash'hadullah (As God is my witness) that with great longing and desire that I wish I could join you and I would offer my blood and my soul like all these young men who offered their lives for this noble cause"
Leader Nasrallah says protesters are fighting for 'Arab dignity' and slams US for supporting region's 'dictatorships'.
Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah announced on Monday support to the Egyptian and Tunisian people in the light of their revolutions against their regimes. His eminence stressed that what we’re witnessing today is a real and patriotic revolution in Egypt. Sayyed Nasrallah expressed belief that the victory of the Egyptian people in its revolution will change the whole face of the region. “On behalf of Hezbollah and all resistance parties, we place our capabilities at your service,” his eminence declared during the speech.
In support of Egypt’s Arab identity and in support of the Egyptian people's revolution against the Camp David regime, the Lebanese national forces and parties held on Monday a ceremony at Ghobeiry square, Beirut, in which different speeches were delivered.
Despite pounding rain and aggressive repression tactics employed by the army, the village of Nabi Saleh marched Friday in solidarity with the people of Egypt. The demonstration was also in honor of 14 year Nabi Saleh resident Islam Tamimi, who was arrested in a night raid in the village almost three weeks ago and remains in jail.
Most of the world's past conflicts have inspired protest songs to reflect the spirit of resistance. Now Egypt has its own. Inspired by the resilience of the demonstraters, several notable musicians from North America have teamed up to release a rap song. Omar Offendum, a Syrian-American rapper, was interviewed at Al Jazeera's Doha studio.
Check out this track and video. #Jan25 -Amir Sulaiman, Ayah, Freeway,The Narcicyst, Omar Offendum (Produced by Sami Matar) This is what inspired music sounds like... real protest, activist, liberation hip-hop. It is for the protesters who brought forth their fury and energy for a better future in Egypt.
Ramy Essam is a singer and composer from Mansoura, Egypt. This song, composed of slogans of the Egyptian Revolution, was performed at Tahrir Square in Egypt on the "Day of Departure" (4 February 2011).
Friends of the Dictator
Bibi says Egypt may turn into new Iran, radicalize in wake of political upheaval; PM tells European parliamentarians they too are threatened by Tehran's missiles, says West has trouble recognizing fanaticism hiding behind suit and tie.
JERUSALEM — Egypt could ruthlessly suppress the uprising against President Hosni Mubarak like Iran crushed mass protests after a disputed June 2009 election, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned. "There could be liberal and democratic reforms in Egypt. The second possibility is that Islamists take advantage of the turmoil to seize control of the country," he said in an address to parliament on Monday evening. The third possibility, he told more than 400 visiting European MPs from some 30 countries, is that "Egypt follows Iran's example". Netanyahu said Tehran simply quashed the mass protests after President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's re-election that opponents said was rigged. "There were no talks, the people were simply killed on the streets." The Israeli premier stressed that Israel's interest was to "preserve the peace that has existed for three decades... and brought stability in the region." Egypt has since January 25 seen the biggest challenge to Mubarak's 30-year rule with tens of thousands taking to the streets to demand his ouster.
As'as Abukhalil's Commentary
In English Watch. But his Hebrew is probably better.
The beauty of Egyptian protests is that they went to the head of the regime, head on. In Jordan, the opposition cowardly express its anger at the prime minister, as if he is the head of the regime. But then again: the opposition in Jordan, in its secular and fudamentalist versions, have been the most lame and most monarchist of any opposition I know--save of the Moroccan Communist Party under `Ali Ya`tah.
Most agree on this rough breakdown: 15% Muslim brotherhood, 5% various Arab nationalist and progressive parties, and 80% who belong to no parties at all.
I find this galling. US and Saudi media are interviewing Marwan Mu`ashshir on developments in Egypt as if he is some democracy champion. I mean, the man was a minister in the regime of King Abdullah of Jordan, and was known for being the most hardline against reform and in favor of closer relations with Israel. Wait, wait. I get it now. Those who advocate for closer ties with Israel, are democrat by US standards. Just like Sadat was a cute dictator, for the West.
Mr. Mubarak, 82, has survived three wars, an Islamic uprising and multiple assassination attempts. Two years ago, an aneurism caused the sudden death of his 12-year-old grandson, Muhammad, a deep personal blow". We are supposed to feel sorry for him? In one week, he managed to kill more than 300 and injured more than 2000 Egyptians. This story is like those biographies of Hitler which talk about his kindness to Goebbels' children.
"That tension was laid bare in Munich when Mr. Wisner, whom the White House sent last week to ask Mr. Mubarak to announce he would not run for another term, told a high-level security conference that “President Mubarak’s role remains extremely critical in the days ahead.” While Mrs. Clinton said that Mr. Wisner “does not speak for the administration or the government,” she did not contradict much of his message."
This guy was a chief propagandist for Sadat: he later invented a career of himself as a dissident in Nasser's time, when in reality he had written in his praise, just as he praises Mubarak. He does not travel much nowadays due to age, but did travel to attend the wedding of prince `Azzuz. He writes for Al-Ahram and for the mouthpiece of Prince Salman, Ash-Sharq Al-Awsat. He is regarded as knowledgeable and intellectual, but he often makes things up about philosophers and historical figures. Look what he says about Lenin, here: he claims that Lenin was always cheating on his wife, and that when she would complain, he would threaten her with a gun. As you know, there is absolutely no basis of this whatsoever, and the person--her--who fabricated the story clearly has not read about Lenin. If anything, Lenin (who I don't like now, but I used to like in my communist youth) stopped talking to Stalin when the latter once called his wife and fought with her and called her a "syphilitic whore." The guy just made up a story, just to entertain his Saudi benefactors with anecdotes about communist figures, as if communism remains a threat to House of Saud. Tell him to regale us with stories and anecdotes about the married and unmarried lives of Saudi princes and kings.
"she emphasized the dangers of rushing headlong into a vote without rewriting the Constitution, engaging opposition groups or mastering the mechanics of elections, like how to compile voter rolls."
Hasan Nasrallah has just given a speech in support of Egyptian protesters. Not much in the speech: he on the hand wanted to express support for the protesters, but on the other hand did not want to seem to be lending help to the regime's propaganda about outside interferences (the regime blames a conspiracy hatched between US, Mossad, Hamas, Iran, and Hizbullah for its troubles). But what surprised me is that Al-Arabiyyah TV (the news station of King Fahd's brother-in-law which really lived up to its brand name of pure propaganda during these days by delivering non-stop propaganda for Mubarak's regime) is that the station decided to carry Nasrallah's remarks live: only to provide ammunition to regime propaganda.
As is known, the White Man has a device toe measure the "intellectual vibrancy" of the natives, and can measure the level of intelligence of the natives: "Today’s Arab societies — less intellectually vibrant than Iran..." This dude, a loyal student of Bernard Lewis, follows the inclinations of the latter who always in his history books make a point to refer to the racial/ethnic backgrounds of great thinkers and philosophers in Islamic history and state that they are of non-Arab origin (of course, the great Philosopher, Al-Kindi was 100 per cent Arab).
"Historically, what Washington always really feared is Arab nationalism, not crackpot self-made jihadis. Arab nationalism is intrinsically, viscerally, opposed to the 1979 Camp David peace accords, which have neutralized Egypt and left Israel with a free iron hand to proceed with its slow strangulation of Palestine; for As'ad Abu Khalil of the Angry Arab website, every Middle East expert who worked on the accords "helped construct a monstrous dictatorship in Egypt"."
"We work in tandem with Israeli law firms to help serve clients and gain a more “local” understanding of what they consider their greatest needs. The firm has a close working relationship with Dov Weissglas, the past chief of Staff to former Prime Minister Sharon, who advises us in dealings with a number of our Israeli clients."
"Several cables describe a “warm relationship” between Mr. Mubarak and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel."
"The Israeli government is freaking out," said Dr Shmuel Bachar, at the Israel Institute for Policy and Strategy. "For the past 30 years we have depended on Egypt's peace treaty with Israel. Now, suddenly, we have rediscovered the existence of something called an Egyptian public, the existence of which we've vigorously tried to ignore."
There are some good people in that "Wise Men" committee although there are some regime types there too (NYTimes said that the committee has Western support which troubles many). So an Egyptian comrade who is a leading activist in the protest was offered to join the "Wise Men" committee but he tells me that he scoffed at the idea and refused.
"Saudi political writer and analyst Turki al-Hamad slammed embattled Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak as an agent of Israel and the United States, rejecting as groundless the claims that a foreign conspiracy was behind the popular uprising in the country."
Many Egyptians feel the only ones benefitting from the country's wealth are businessmen with ties to the ruling National Democratic Party. How did Egypt become so corrupt? And what can a new government really do about it?
All we in the Muslim Brotherhood want is for President Mubarak to go and real democracy to prevail. As the past fortnight has underlined, Egypt occupies a leading role in one of the most vital and volatile regions in the world. However, this great country has been ruled by an autocratic regime for more than 30 years, and left riddled with corruption, poverty, inequality and insecurity. With millions condemned to live in squalor, astronomical unemployment rates, political suppression and absence of basic freedoms, the Egyptian people have been seething with anger, frustration and discontent for years. Thousands of political dissidents have been dragged before military courts and sentenced to years in prison despite civil courts ordering their release. Elections were rigged on an unimaginable scale – forcing Egyptians, and especially the young, into a state of utter desperation.
CAIRO (IPS) - Imam Mohammed al-Saba of the Eisa mosque here in the center of the rural town Kirdasa takes the pulpit to tell his congregation he can smell "the air of freedom for the first time in thirty years."
Those politically savvy people who thought strongman, Hosni Mubarak would be out before the end of the first week of the Egyptian uprising better rethink the odds. For thirty years Mubarak has developed what can be called a deeply rooted dictatorial regime with regular White House access and annual largesse of some $1.3 billion in military equipment and payroll. A former military man, he has been very alert to what is needed to maintain the loyalties of the police, the intelligence security forces and the army. If he goes, tens of thousands of those on his payroll could lose their patronage and be on the outs if his government is really replaced.
What a difference a revolution can make. Members of the Obama administration are flocking to appear on Al Jazeera, one of the most influential media sources in the Arab world. US officials are desperate to have their spin of events in the Middle East included as millions tune in to the network's coverage of the uprising in Egypt.
Watching Egyptians protest today is a sight I never thought I’d witness. Having studied urban protest in Egypt and Syria in the late Middle Ages, like other Arabs of my generation I had been beguiled by our political quietness, our seemingly unending, bottomless stoicism. I chose to work on premodern protest to say something about the present and argue for something in the future. The late middle ages offered a case of medieval Islamic regimes centered in Egypt and including Syria, before the arrival of European imperialism – and before “modernity.”
It helps to know something about Egypt if you're writing about it. (I guess). Here's a really smart piece by Joshua Stacher of Kent State at Foreign Affairs saying that the "democratic window has probably already closed," that the regime has never broken down, its central institution, the military, remaining as powerful as ever. And now the gov't is successfully playing the young demonstrators off against the ordinary citizens' desire for normal times.
I insist that the Egyptian revolution is having a huge effect on our discourse. Two indications that I am right: --On Saturday, Hillary Mann Leverett was on MSNBC. Alex Witt asked her about the Muslim Brotherhood, and Leverett said they were a legitimate part of the Egyptian polity and were opposed to the inhumane blockade of Gaza. Or words to that effect. She went on for a bit about Gaza. It was a huge moment for the mainstream media, not to hear the usual b.s. about Hamas and weapons.
To understand the Obama regime's policy toward Egypt, the Mubarak dictatorship and the popular uprising it is essential to locate it in an historical context. The essential point is that Washington, after several decades of being deeply embedded in the state structures of the Arab dictatorships, from Tunisia through Morocco, Egypt, Yemen, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia and the Palestinian Authority, is attempting to re-orient its policies to incorporate and/or graft liberal-electoral politicians onto the existing power configurations.
The U.S. has shown that it does not understand and comprehend the pulse of the street in the Arab world despite its multifarious intelligence agencies. It has drastically failed to weigh the influence governments, oppositions and Arab populations exercise in the Arab world. It seems the U.S. relies heavily on unilateral sources which are very close to the circles of power in the Middle East and lacks the ability to interpret and decipher the situation and its likely course in the future. In thousands of documents WikiLeaks has released of secret correspondence regarding the Middle East, there has been no hint that the days of U.S. allies in the region were close.
I noticed a lot of television commentators wondering why no one predicted the unrest in Egypt. I’d just like to draw attention to the number 1 item in my New Year’s list of 2011 challenges for US foreign policy. While it is not exactly a prediction of what we are seeing today on our television sets, it lays out the outlines of the challenge as we are now experiencing it and suggests that corporate media is just listening to the wrong inside-the-beltway pundits if they weren’t hearing about these potentialities in the Egyptian scene before January 25.
As a native Egyptian who left seeking opportunities for a better, more humane life unavailable under Mubarak’s rule, I see the events currently unfolding in Egypt as both surreal and inevitable. It all began in 1975, when Anwar El Sadat chose an inconspicuous military hero to be his vice president. The choice was surprising because at that time, young Muhammad Hosni Mubarak was a leading air force officer, but by no means Mohamed Al-Gamasy, the outstanding leader of the 1973 Egyptian victory. Sadat’s choice was precipitated by his fear that influential army personnel would collude to take down his regime after his peace talks with Israel began. Sadat’s best option was an unassuming, loyal young man to whom the choice was also a surprise. In 1979, Sadat signed a peace agreement with Israel under the auspices of the United States, shocking many Egyptians and Arabs since it was unbecoming for an Arab president to visit the Knesset or shake hands with an Israeli leader. Before long, the cultural milieu in Egypt and the Arab world mobilized against Sadat, and two years later, Sadat, fully attired in his military regalia, on Oct. 6, 1981 – the anniversary of the October victory – was shot down. Mubarak, who was at Sadat’s side, escaped with just a sling on his injured arm.
This is the diary of one week (much too short although it felt so long) that I spent in Egypt in the middle of the popular revolution that began on 25 January 2011 and that at the time of writing this is still continuing - to an uncertain direction. Ever since the demonstrators filled the streets on 25 January I felt that I should really be in Egypt, a country where I have many friends and to which I feel very bound through more than twelve years during which I have been studying, doing research, and living with the people of Egypt. On 28 January, as millions went out all over the country, I booked my ticket to Cairo for a short visit, with the aim of making myself an idea of the atmosphere, of the sensibility of life of an uprising that had completely taken me by surprise. As an anthropologist, my work in the last years has focussed on the aspirations people have, the frustrations they experience, and the ways they try to find to live a life of dignity under constantly frustrating conditions. But I had not taken seriously the possibility that there would emerge a sudden collective consciousness that it is actually possible to change these conditions. Just days before 25 January, a friend asked whether there could be a revolution in Egypt like there was in Tunisia, and I said no, I don’t think so, because it seems so difficult to mobilise the people in Egypt, and for decades people have expected a revolution to break out in Egypt, but it hasn’t. Well, now it has, and much of what I thought I knew about Egyptian society has to be revised
We are witnessing an extraordinary and potentially historic transformation in Egypt and the Arab world. Sparked by the Tunisian pro-democracy movement and toppling of the Ben Ali regime, the rulers of Egypt, Jordan, Yemen and Syria are facing popular demands for reform. As the Gallup World Poll, the largest and most systematic poll of the Muslim world representing the voices of a billion Muslims, reported, majorities in most countries, including Egypt, want democratic freedoms.
Always comforting to have Henry Kissinger around to advise the current U.S. administration what to do. His latest advice to Obama re Egypt: slow down, take things easier, don't rush Egypt's sensitive leaders. "We should be looking at a democratic evolution," said Kissinger. But he warned the U.S. should cultivate key democratic reformists and military leaders in a low-key fashion during the process. "It should not look like an American project. The Egyptians are a proud people. They threw out the British and they threw out the Russians."
In backing Suleiman's bid for control the U.S. and Britain are directly opposing the demands of the protestors lauded by Cameron. Indeed, as Rami Khouri reports, they are "frantically groping for ways to transfer power from one old military officer to a group of equally old colleagues". This is not to say that American officials are of one mind. There is a spectrum of views: from those, like US special envoy Frank Wisner, who demand "continued leadership" by Mubarak, to those, like Hillary Clinton, who are calling for Mubarak to go so that the regime can survive. Initially the former view was dominant. But as the revolt spread and it became clear that Mubarak's continued rule was untenable, the U.S. and the Egyptian regime shifted to Plan B: "to ride out the uprising with their basic authoritarian prerogatives intact". . . . If we set this dogma aside and examine the facts, it emerges that the American counter-revolutionary intervention in Egypt, as described above, has followed a "standard pattern": support for an allied dictatorship until the allegiance becomes untenable, at which point it is dropped and the U.S. tries to determine or co-opt its replacement.
Throughout decades of brutal rule, Mubarak remained a steadfast US ally. As a result, Washington rewarded him generously. US administrations also ignored his crimes, corruption, and lawlessness, as late January released WikiLeaks cables reveal, showing Obama knew he kept power through ruthless state terror.
Tunisia and Egypt Ripples Felt Throughout Arab World
RAMALLAH, Feb 7, 2011 (IPS) - The Palestinian Authority (PA) is using brute force and intimidation tactics - similar to those deployed in Cairo - to suppress pro-Egyptian and Tunisian protests in the West Bank.
Three dozen members of powerful Jordanian tribes have lashed out at the country’s glamorous Queen Rania and denounced what they called a “crisis of authority,” calling for political change and justice against those involved in corruption in the Arab kingdom. in a joint statement issued over the weekend, the 36 tribal figures also issued a stern warning: If political reform isn’t implemented soon, Jordan is likely to face a popular uprising similar to those in Egypt and Tunisia.
DUBAI – Like their Arab neighbours using the web to rally against their regimes, Saudis seeking political, social and economic reforms have created a group on Facebook that by Tuesday had nearly 2,000 members. "The people want to reform the regime" group calls for a constitutional monarchy, transparency, legislative elections, an independent and fair judicial system, anti-corruption measures and respect for human and women rights.
Inspired by protests in Egypt and Tunisia, rumblings of discontent are growing across the region. Could the pro-democracy protests in Egypt generate an unstoppable momentum for political reform across the Arab world?