Tuesday, February 01, 2011
Translation: it must be administered from above, through Mubarak or Suleiman. For now, it's Mubarak and the vacuous program that he set forth in his speech a few hours ago. Of course, Obama's insistence upon non-violence is mere puffery, given the unwilligness of the US to impose any consequences for the violence that Mubarak has inflicted on the Egyptians, not only in the last week or so, but for decades.
What is clear, as I indicated tonight to President Mubarak, it is my belief that an orderly transition must be meaningful, it must be peaceful, and it must begin now.
As with most US pronouncements about Palestine, where the atrocities of Israel go unmentioned except for vague concerns about the violence, Obama is scrupulous to avoid criticizing Mubarak for the conduct of the police and the security forces. Indeed, he doesn't criticize Mubarak for anything, and, in this, he is consistent with the Israeli demand that the US and the EU stop doing so. In fact, such criticisms were few and far between, but the Israelis were acting preemptively to avoid more serious ones, and Obama got the message.
Obama's admonitions on this score are directed towards the protesters who are now considered destabilizing because of their insistence that Mubarak depart, not the regime. An immediate seizure of power from below would sharply curtail the ability of the US, the EU and Israel to shape the ultimate outcome through Mubarak's control of the process, the expenditure of USAID and NED funds and the calculated use of death squad violence against perceived left and anti-American, anti-Zionist groups.
Or, as As'ad Abukhalil just posted minutes ago:
It may be their only hope to avoid years, and, perhaps, even decades, of internal violence, if not civil war, instigated from the outside.
The Egyptian protesters now need the equivalent of the storming of the Bastille.
More, from Abukhalil:
I know that I have posted a lot from Abukhalil, but I believe that it is urgently important to recognize the immediate peril facing the people of Egypt. Finally, despite initial reports that the clashes in Alexandria were minor, a more recent Al Jazeera report indicates that they were instigated by the security forces and others released by them.
. . . The speech by Obama was a not-so-coded language that let Mubarak do what he wish: the talk about transition means that he was basically told to stay in power, because Israel really freaked out at the prospect of Egypt without Mubarak. How dare Obama talk about technology for the Egyptian youth when his speech did not utter one word about how Mubarak is silencing and restricting the technology of the youth of people. Make no mistake about it: this could be like the 1953 Operation Ajax in Iran. The US is now arranging for a coup against the will of the Egyptian people. It requires utmost vigilance and steadfastness and thus far those qualities have been abundant among the Egyptian people. This move by Obama towards Egypt can be described as criminal because it will lead to blood on the streets. I wonder if Obama during his talk with Mubarak discussed numbers like: just don't kill more than 50 or 60 a day, or something like that. His unprincipled cynicism reminds me of the conspiracies of the 1950s. I am so glad that I resisted all efforts by my liberal and leftist friends who were urging me to vote for this personification of the Bush Doctrine.
UPDATE 5 (3:16PM Pacific time): Looks like I was too optimistic about the timing of the Obama/Netanyahu destabilization plan for Egypt. It's already started in Alexandria and Port Said:
Note that the chant of the pro-Mubarak crowd in Alexandria is consistent with the statements of the US State Department. It is now evident that Mubarak's speech signalled the commencement of a campaign, supported by the US, the EU and Israel, to suppress the movement. Obama and Mubarak had a 30 minute conversation about it just awhile ago. They will push Egypt into the violence associated with 1980s Lebanon, 1990s Peru, 1990s Algeria and contemporary Pakistan if necessary to prevent it from becoming an Arab democratic alternative to Zionism.
Clashes are taking place near Mahatit Masr Square in Egypt's second city of Alexandria. Witnesses say that after Mr Mubarak's speech ended, protesters started chanting Get out. Then a pro-Mubarak crowd arrived chanting Reform, reform, we are with you.
Al-Jazeera reports that men in civilian clothes and armed with bladed weapons attacked demonstrators in Port Said after the army withdrew from the streets.
UPDATE 4 (1:20PM Pacific time): Mubarak believes that the US and Israel can keep him in power long enough to dictate political conditions in Egypt after his departure. All of his speech, down to the last period, was coordinated with the US State Department. In light of what I discussed in my initial post today, one has a pretty good idea what they are talking about at USAID, NED and the CIA, with the Mossad on the encrypted conference call line.
As As'ad Abukhalil has just posted:
Meanwhile, here's the response of the protesters:
I say this without any hyperbole, but the US is willing to have millions of Arab oppressed, killed, and tortured to preserve the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty. I strongly and firmly believe that.
Leave! Leave! Get Out!
Muburak says that he will die on the soil of Egypt. I doubt it. When the time comes, he will get on the plane and go to live abroad.UPDATE 3: So, you thought I exaggerated when I said that Zionism can only survive by imprisoning the Egyptians as well as the Palestinians? Richard Cohen, the floor is yours:
Friday afternoon, we will be at the palace.
Please, Mr. Cohen, keep talking, along with your other Zionist friends, so that the Egyptians understand the racist contempt that you have for them. By the way, for those of you that are interested, As'ad Abukhalil, the Angry Arab, is posting ongoing reports on the Zionist freak out over the events in Egypt on his blog if you are interested. Here's another one.
My take on all this is relentlessly gloomy. I care about Israel. I care about Egypt, too, but its survival is hardly at stake. I care about democratic values, but they are worse than useless in societies that have no tradition of tolerance or respect for minority rights. What we want for Egypt is what we have ourselves. This, though, is an identity crisis. We are not them.
UPDATE 2: More evidence that the responses of Mubarak and the Obama administration are coordinated:
In the end, though, it's a good thing. The more the US lags behind the movement in Egypt, and keeps putting out these embarassing solutions designed to preserve the power of the regime, the more independent post-Mubarak Egypt will be. Egyptians understand what the US is doing, more so than most Americans, and such actions increase the probability that the ultimate outcome will be determined by the people themselves. Oh, and did I forget to mention that every time he does this, Obama looks more and more ridiculous?
President Obama has told the embattled president of Egypt, Hosni Mubarak, that he should not run for another term in elections in the fall, effectively withdrawing American support for its closest Arab ally, according to American diplomats in Cairo and Washington.
Al Arabiya television, citing unnamed sources, reported that Mr. Mubarak would announce in a nationwide address Tuesday evening that he would not run for another term.
UPDATE 1 (8:45AM Pacific time): From As'ad Abukalil:
Many Zionists are fooling themselves and saying that there are no foreign policy elements to the Egyptian Uprising. I am now listening to the mass rally in Tahriri Square live on Aljazeera (Aljazeera is saying the total number is 2 million if you add the people around the square). And I can hear the chant:
يا مبارك يا جبان, يا عميل الأميركان
"o Mubarak, you coward. O agent of the Americans" (it rhymes in Arabic)
INITIAL POST: Al Jazeera reports over a million Egyptians in Tahrir Square protesting for the departure of Hosni Muburak and the end of his regime. Already, there are unconfirmed reports that Mubarak has left the country, but we should take them with a grain of salt. In any event, it is now absolutely essential that the revolution be carried out from below, instead of from above. Yesterday, there was an extraordinary confusion about US policy as the Obama administration and the EU tried to keep up with events beyond the control. Some reports even said that the US was willing to allow the participation of the Muslim Brotherhood, heretofore anathema to the US, in a new government. As the day lengthened, there was an obvious desperation to the efforts of the US and the EU to devise a means by which to bring the crisis in Egypt to an end on their terms, and it didn't really matter what terms, just that, when all was said and done, the US and the EU could show the world that they had intervened and initiated a political transition.
Because nothing is more frightening to the US and the EU, and the militarized neoliberal order that they represent, than a revolution carried through from below, by the people themselves, televised in close to real time on cable news networks that reach nearly everyone in the world, even those in remote rural areas. Nothing is more alarming to them than the prospect that such a success will result in the people of Egypt seeking to assert their autonomy, without their approval, with the possibility that millions (billions?) of others may follow their example. So, it became absolutely essential that the US and the EU to find a way to insinuate themselves into the situation in Egypt in such a way as to establish that they are the ones with the power over the lives of the Egyptian people, that they are the ones who decide the social conditions under which the Egyptian people will govern themselves and interact with other countries. So far, they have failed, and we can only hope that it is an irreversible one. Unfortunately, we can expect that they will attempt to salvage the situation by seeking the elevation of that security thug, their Pinochet in waiting, Suleiman. Looks doubtful that he would last long, if he is allowed to assume any power at all.
If the Obama administration conceded a role for the Muslim Brotherhood, it is a significant concession, and reflects the severity of the situation from its perspective. Historically, the US has sought to set the ground rules for the purportedly democratic systems of its clients, insisting upon the exclusion of political parties considered hostile, so that they can be manipulated to ensure obesiance. Hence, the insistence that the Sadrist party in Iraq either be excluded from government or, failing that, relegated to a minor role. Similarly, in Haiti, where the US has much more influence, the largest political party, Lavalas, has been banned from participation in Haitian elections. During the Cold War, the US successfully persuaded the Christian Democratic party in Italy to exclude the PCI, the Italian Communist party, and supplied covert financing to the Liberal Democratic party of Japan to keep out the Socialists.
With this background in mind, we can better understand the strategy of the US and the EU. Even if Mubarak must go, they will insist that the transition be administered by Suleiman. Elections will take place pursuant to ground rules set by Suleiman in consultation with the US, while he attempts to create and manipulate fissures between opposition groups. Meanwhile, there will be disquieting stories of political killings and attacks, seemingly isolated, against people considered anti-US and anti-Zionist for the purpose of intimidating them and persuading the middle class that a strong executive is required to maintain public order. If they succeed in the election of such a figure, someone who has been preselected as the preferred candidate because of his lack of a public record of alignment with the US and Israel, he will, over the course of time, reconstitute the security apparatus that has been shattered by the protests. With the guidance of US, UK and Israeli security consultants, it will be trained in more subtle measures of social control, ones that attain the same results as Mubarak did, but without the dimension of mass brutality associated with it. Fortunately, though, it appears that the Egyptian people understand this playbook much better than we do, and want nothing to do with it.