'Intelligent discontent is the mainspring of civilization.' -- Eugene V. Debs

Monday, January 31, 2011

Egypt Erupts (Part 5) 

UPDATE 3 (11;50AM Pacific time): Both 3arabawy and The Arabist are back up with new posts. Unfortunately, Egyptian Chronicles is still down. The websites of Al Jazeera, The Guardian and the BBC continue to provide extensive coverage as well, and there's also the We Are All Khalid Said Facebook page. At 3arabawy, don't forget to follow the tweets from Hossam el-Hamalawy and others posted there. Here's a YouTube video of the protest in last night in Tahrir Square provided by Hossam:

UPDATE 2 (10;32AM Pacific time): If you give this report any credence at all, it shows that the Obama administration realizes that Mubarak's position is hopeless, but that still believes that he can be used to shape the successor government by controlling the administration of reforms and the conduct of the election. At best, it's pure nonsense, at worst, more anonymously sourced propaganda designed to conceal our resistance to the movement on the streets.

Meanwhile, Egyptians have very different expectations:

Tahrir Square protesters say they plan to march Friday to the presidential palace in Heliopolis unless the army makes its stance clear.

Youth-led groups issued a statement calling for all Egyptians to march on the palace, the People's Assembly and the television building, in what they are calling the Friday of Departure.

They say the army must choose which side they are on: That of the people, or the regime.

We the people and the youth of Egypt demand that our brothers in the national armed forces clearly define their stance by either lining up with the real legitimacy provided by millions of Egyptians on strike on the streets, or standing in the camp of the regime that has killed our people, terrorized them and stole from them, read the statement.

The protesters say the army has until Thursday morning to make its position clear. A lack of response will be interpreted as support for Egypt's ruling regime.

So, can we take that as a rejection of the US/EU/Mubarak offer of talks?

UPDATE 1 (9:55AM Pacific time): If you had any doubt that US policy and the actions of Mubarak are coordinated:

7:13pm Opposition groups continue to call for a "million man march" and a general strike on Tuesday to commemorate one week since the protest movement began. Meanwhile, the military has reiterated that it will not attempt to hurt protesters.

As 250,000 gathered around Cairo's Tahrir Square on Monday, President Mubarak asked his new prime minister, Ahmad Shafiq, to start talks with the opposition. It has yet to be seen whether the broad coalition of Egyptian opposition groups - students, web activists, leftists, liberals, and Islamists - will manage to come together.

Somehow, I suspect that the opposition groups can get their act enough to tell tell the US, the EU and Mubarak that the only thing that they are willing to discuss is his immediate departure from the country.

INITIAL POST: More on Omar Suleiman, the new Egyptian vice president, our Pinochet in waiting:

Shortly after 9/11, Australian citizen, Mamdouh Habib, was captured by Pakistani security forces and, under US pressure, tortured by Pakistanis. He was then rendered (with an Australian diplomats watching) by CIA operatives to Egypt, a not uncommon practice. In Egypt, Habib merited Suleiman’s personal attention. As related by Richard Neville, based on Habib’s memoir:

Habib was interrogated by the country’s Intelligence Director, General Omar Suleiman…. Suleiman took a personal interest in anyone suspected of links with Al Qaeda. As Habib had visited Afghanistan shortly before 9/11, he was under suspicion. Habib was repeatedly zapped with high-voltage electricity, immersed in water up to his nostrils, beaten, his fingers were broken and he was hung from metal hooks.

That treatment wasn’t enough for Suleiman, so:

To loosen Habib’s tongue, Suleiman ordered a guard to murder a gruesomely shackled Turkistan prisoner in front of Habib – and he did, with a vicious karate kick.

After Suleiman’s men extracted Habib’s confession, he was transferred back to US custody, where he eventually was imprisoned at Guantanamo. His confession was then used as evidence in his Guantanamo trial.

Clearly, the elevation of Suleiman, with the acceptance of the US, is not a move in the direction of democratizing the country.

Meanwhile, the Israelis give direction to the US and the EU:

Israel called on the United States and a number of European countries over the weekend to curb their criticism of President Hosni Mubarak to preserve stability in the region.

Jerusalem seeks to convince its allies that it is in the West's interest to maintain the stability of the Egyptian regime. The diplomatic measures came after statements in Western capitals implying that the United States and European Union supported Mubarak's ouster.

Expect a continuation of bland pronouncements for democratic reforms short of an insistence upon elections, based upon the implicit assumption that Mubarak (or Suleiman, as his successor) remain in power. The protesters should continue to act peacefully, and negotiate their future with the the people who have abused them for so long. If this is the best that can be achieved through non-violent civil disobedience, the US and European response invite a rejection of it by the Egyptian populace, especially as the true objective is, as described by As'ad Abukhalil on Saturday, a perpetuation of the regime in new clothes. Of course, if the protesters had remained peaceful in the face of Mubarak's organized state violence last week, we'd now find ourselves subjected to hypocritical expressions of concern as Mubarak ruthlessly eliminated any sources of resistance in Egyptian society, with US cable news channels returning to their obsession with the private lives of celebrities.

Interestingly, there appears to be a fissure here, with the US and Europe seeing a benefit to the ascension of Suleiman, while Israel leaders, like Netanyahu, remain personally bound to Mubarak. Perhaps, the Israelis believe that the departure of Mubarak would render it impossible for anyone, including Suleiman, to preserve the remnants of the current, pro-Zionist regime. As'ad Abukhalil has a contrary perspective: he has a feeling, based upon an intensification of Saudi propaganda in support of Mubarak, as well as Obama's communications with the Israelis and the Saudis, that Obama's support for Mubarak has hardened. Last week, I discovered that Zionists believe that, in addition to the Palestianians, millions of Egyptians have to be imprisoned within a authoritarian system in order for Israel to survive, and we are about to discover if Obama is in agreement.

Labels: , , , , , , , , ,

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?