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Western Asia ("Middle East")
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has chosen a new special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan: a long-time controversial neocon, a man who has been famous for parading as a foreign agent in the lobby circuit, the scandalous former diplomat Marc Grossman. The not-so-gradual resurrection of the old neocon cabal under the Obama administration, led by Hillary Clinton, should not come as a surprise. According to Washington insiders, Daniel Perle and Douglas Feith have been consulted more than a few times in their ‘unofficial’ capacity, but are not far down in the queue to receive ‘official’ acknowledgement. This shouldn’t come as a surprise; at least to those who’ve been following the steady momentum building at the Obama White House towards a soon-to-come Neocon Easter.
Middle East Protests Continue - by Stephen Lendman
They continue in Egypt, Yemen, Algeria, Tunisia, and most recently in Iran and Bahrain, Al Jazeera saying:
"At least one person has been killed and several others injured after (Bahrain) riot police opened fire at protesters holding a funeral service for a man killed (a) day earlier."
Police fired tear gas and rubber bullets at thousands in Manama, Bahrain's capital, demanding the regime's removal. Majority Shias want redress, saying Sunni rulers unfairly discriminate. However, more than sectarian issues are involved. Others include political freedoms, ending media and Internet state controls, prohibiting police use of excessive force, and addressing the extreme wealth gap between Bahrain elites and majority citizens.
On February 15, Al Jazeera's unnamed correspondent for his safety said:
Arab Street Celebrates Mubarak's Ouster - by Stephen Lendman
On February 12, AFP headlined, 'Euphoria sweeps Arab cities as Mubarak ousted," saying:
As news spread, jubilant crowds responded. "Across the Middle East and north Africa, loudspeakers on mosques called on citizens to rejoice in their own cities....In Lebanon, where the Cairo protests (were) reminiscent of mass anti-Syrian" 2005 demonstrations, "convoys bearing Egyptian flags blared their horns as fireworks went off across the country." Thousands came out to celebrate, a scene repeated in many Arab countries.
Hezbollah and Hamas observed Egypt's "historic victory." Crowds turned out in Beirut, across Lebanon, and "en masse (throughout) Gaza....joyfully shooting in the air and honking their car horns." Hamas' armed wing, the Ezzedine Al-Qassam Brigades, also rallied in support.
Egypt's Military Declares Martial Law - by Stephen Lendman
World headlines are worrisome. On February 13, London's Guardian headlined Egypt's military rejects swift transfer of power and suspends constitution," saying:
Ruling generals rejected protester demands, saying they intend "to rule by martial law until elections are held." The announcement followed suspension of constitutional rule, retention of Mubarak's cabinet, and military police head, Mohamed Ibrahim Moustafa Ali, ordering protesters out of Tahrir Square under threat of arrest.
Many left "but a hardcore refused, saying they would remain until the army took a series of steps toward democratic reform including installing a civilian-led government and abolishing the repressive" Emergency Law, in force since 1981.
Juan Cole has all the links.
By Yasmeen Ali
Lahore, Pakistan--You cannot open the TV, or read a paper here without more and more news about Raymond Davis and his murderous act. His killing on Jan. 27 of two young Pakistanis has created international waves, too, plunging the Pakistan-America relationship into stormy waters.
A great deal has been written about the case: Raymond Davis’s employment status, whether he is a diplomat or not, who his victims were and what led to their demise at his hands, and finally whether or not Davis can be detained and ultimately tried under the Pakistani Law.
Interestingly though, nobody in the media has made a study of the Vienna Diplomatic Coventions that discuss diplomatic immunity. The convention of 1961 gets cited routinely by the American government, which claims it grants all diplomatic workers immunity from prosecution.
But that claim overstates the case. The actual document -- never actually quoted -- is more nuanced.
"I wrote, 'Dear Western governments. You have been supporting the regime that was oppressing us for 30 years. Please don't get involved now. We don't need you.' " - Wael Ghonim 13 Feb. 2011
February 13, 2011 - Harry Smith reports on the latest events from Egypt, including an in-depth interview with Wael Ghonim.
Egypt at Dawn's Early Light - by Stephen Lendman
What's unfolding looks different than what protesters demand. World headlines partly reflect it, mostly outside America, especially on US television reporting an illusion of change, when, in fact, coup d'etat rule is in charge, headed by authoritarian generals used to giving, not taking orders.
On February 13, Al Jazeera's said, "Egypt army tries to clear Tahrir," adding:
Scuffles broke out "as soldiers tried to remove activists from the epicenter of Egypt's uprising...." Hundreds courageously remained, saying they won't leave until "more of their demands are met."
As a result, "(S)oldiers shoved pro-democracy protesters aside to force a path for traffic to start flowing through Tahrir Square for the first time in more than two weeks."
Tents were removed. Al Jazeera's James Bays reported "flashpoint" confrontations, saying:
Abusers appear when we are most vulnerable. Mistaking their sweet nothings for REAL somethings, we slowly allow harmony to lose its last three letters.
Among the most calculating manipulators are the men and women we elect to represent our interests—but don’t. They have a vast menu from which to select their tactics.
They speak to our individualism and, then, tell us what all they’re doing on our behalf.
They demand our loyalty. Our servitude.
They juggle fear and hope, throwing sounds to our ears and images to our eyes, pushing beyond the bearable so gradually that the once unthinkable becomes commonplace.
They encourage us to shop and travel but to ALWAYS be alert, and report anything suspicious. “If you see something, say something,” Fascism Security Chief Janet Napolitano says, promoting the psychology of fear with a four-pronged campaign that includes locally run “fusion centers” for intelligence sharing. Fusion?
Hold the Celebration: Egypt's Struggle Just Began - by Stephen Lendman
Hopefully beneath celebratory euphoria, Egyptians know ousting Mubarak was simple, especially since Washington long wanted him out. Covertly with Egypt's military, it facilitated long-planned regime purging for with new faces under old policies. In other words, have everything change but stay the same, a common imperial bait and switch con.
As a result, the real liberating struggle continues against long odds for success because Washington, Egypt's military, Israel, Western powers, and big money will do everything to prevent it. The usual scheme was hatched - a facade of change that may or may not work, and will be months, maybe years, to know.
Mubarak's Failed Bait and Switch - by Stephen Lendman
On February 10, indications were he'd step down. He didn't, but now it's official, vice president Suleiman saying he resigned, handing power to Egypt's military. A New York Times alert said "a historic popular uprising transformed politics in Egypt and around the Arab world."
Times rhetoric way overstated reality as resolution remains very much in doubt, though odds strongly favor continuity, not populist change. More on that below.
For the moment, however, huge Tahrir Square crowds erupted in celebratory euphoria, perhaps forgetting their liberating struggle just began. It didn't end with Mubarak's resignation. That was a baby step, removing an aging dinosaur Washington and Egypt's military wanted out. Now he's gone. Focus must follow through on what's next, requiring sustained popular protests. Otherwise, everything gained will be lost.
By Dave Lindorff
Breaking News! Egypt's dictator for 30 years, Hosni Mubarak, has been driven from power by the uprising of the Egyptian people, who refused to accept his attempt last night to hang on to power. See it all on Al Jazeera TV!
There is still much to know, but the 20-second announcement on state television at 6 pm Egyptian time informed th country that Hosni Mubarak had been driven from the Presidency of Egypt. It appears that his handpicked successor, the blood-drenched Interior Ministry head Omar Suleiman, who had been "vice president" for a few days, and who made the announcement, has also been pushed out--he said in flat tones on state television that the Army would henceforth be running the country's affairs.
It remains to be seen if that army tries to hold power or keep the ruling elite in power, or whether it will hand things over to civilians from the incredible people's movement that has accomplished this astonishing feat.
By John Grant
Hosni Mubarak has chosen not to fold his losing hand and to play it to the bitter end.
After the CIA and the Egyptian military said he was going to resign, he didn’t, which further escalated the tension around the question hanging over Cairo: Who is the military going to side with?
Is it the bloated kleptocrat and his bloody sidekick, Omar Suleiman – the ally the generals have been in bed with since the State Of Emergency was declared in 1981 -- or the Egyptian citizens who refuse to leave Tahrir Square and demand a suspension of the constitution, then fair and open elections.
For the military the choice seems like whether to let go of your 300-pound mother as she’s pulling you into powerfully raging floodwaters. If you don’t let her go, she’s going to drag you into even more dangerous waters that will assure all your doom.
People Power v. Duplicity in Egypt and Washington - by Stephen Lendman
Inspired by Tunisia's uprising, Egyptians chose January 25 (the National Police Day holiday) to begin street demonstrations, rallies and marches, demanding regime change, no ifs, ands or buts if they stay resolute.
Initially, small numbers in front of Egypt's Supreme Court became crowds chanting "Mubarak must go!" So far, they remain in massive numbers, defying curfew orders, sleeping in streets, persisting against formidable odds in full view of world audiences, thanks mainly to Al Jazeera's heroic coverage.
Anyone anywhere, including in America where it's mostly blocked, can view its live online stream at aljazeera.net. It's become a vital alternative to Western managed news, heavily censored to suppress important truths and thus worthless.
On February 8, day 15, Al Jazeera reported that:
Mubarak's Thirty-Year Dictatorship - by Stephen Lendman
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.
On January 15, 2009, ambassador Margaret Scobey called security force brutality "routine and pervasive," saying:
"(P)olice using force to extract confessions from criminals (is) a daily event. (US informants) estimate there are literally hundreds of torture incidents every day in Cairo police stations alone."
Political activists and opponents are also targeted, Scobey adding:
By Dave Lindorff
It is pathetic and even laughable to hear American leaders, and the leaders of the other Western democracies in Europe, cautioning that Egypt’s revolution needs to move slowly, as they call for a “transition” government that would be gently guided to elections by the very man, Omar Suleiman, who for years has headed the dreaded Mukhabarat, the Egyptian secret police, all under the protective umbrella of the Egyptian military.
What is this nonsense?
A PANEL ON SOLIDARITY AND RESISTANCE TO US FOREIGN POLICY
*US Imperialism in the Middle East *the US Government's Profound Hatred of Democracy and the War on Dissent *Secret War in Pakistan *Israel’s War Plans *the Revolt in the Arab World
Sponsored by the International Socialist Organization
*Michael Schwartz on US Imperialism in the Middle East* (Author of “War Without End” and Professor of Sociology at SUNY Stonybrook)
*Arun Gupta on the US Government's Profound Hatred of Democracy and the War on Dissent*
(founding editor, Indypendent)
*Adaner Usmani on the Secret War in Pakistan* (Student Activist based in Karachi. Works with the Action for a Progressive Pakistan and Labour Party (LPP))
*Lamis Deek on Israel’s War Plans* (Activist with Al-Awda NY: The Palestine Right of Return Coalition)
*Mostafa Omar on the Revolt in the Arab World* (Egyptian-American activist, member of the International Socialist Organization)
More than two thousand people rallied today in the center of Ramallah at Al-Manara square in solidarity with the popular uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia, calling for freedom, social justice, democracy and human rights. Parallel rallies took place in Bethlehem and Nazareth. Previous rallies have been held by Palestinian activists in Tel Aviv, Ramallah, and Gaza.
The demonstrations were called for by independent youth movements, the
Palestinian NGO Network, trade unions and professional syndicates.
Al-Manara Square overflowed with a diverse crowd of students, workers,
professionals, human rights activists and political parties'
representatives, with a prominent presence of women. Protesters carried
Egyptian, Tunisian, and Palestinian flags and repeated the Egyptian chants
of "The people want to dismantle the regime" and "Down with Mubarak." They
also demanded an end to the occupation, internal division, normalization,
Field Notes on American-Style Democracy - by Stephen Lendman
Perhaps George Bernard Shaw was thinking of Obama's administration when he said, "Democracy is a form of government that substitutes election by the incompetent many for the appointment of the corrupt few."
Obama upholds the tradition and then some, doing more harm globally in two years than most of history's tinpot despots in decades, yet most of it gets little attention. Imagine what's planned ahead. Already, his legacy includes:
-- breaking every key promise he made across the board;
-- looting the nation's wealth, wrecking the economy, and consigning growing millions to impoverishment without jobs, homes, savings, social services, or futures;
-- enacting greater Wall Street empowerment, disguised as financial reform;
We're All Egyptians Now! - by Stephen Lendman
And Tunisians, and Yemenis, and Algerians, and Jordanians, and Lebanese, and, of course, Palestinians, suffering for over six decades after Israel stole their historic homeland, over 43 years under brutal, suffocating occupation. Their struggle is ours, and it's high time we reacted, showing spirit as courageous as theirs.
In her latest January 31 article, Phyllis Bennis headlined, "Tunisia's Spark and Egypt's Flame: the Middle East is Rising," asking:
"Is this how empires end, with people flooding the streets, demanding resignation of their leaders and forcing local dictators out? Maybe not entirely, (but the) legacy of US-dominated governments across the region will never be the same. The US empire's reach in the resource-rich and strategically vital Middle East has been shaken to its core....The years of Washington calling the shots (based on its) version of 'stability' are definitively over."
End Game in Egypt - by Stephen Lendman
On February 3, New York Times writers Helene Cooper and Mark Landler headlined, "White House, Egypt Discuss Plan for Mubarak's Exit," saying:
His administration is "discussing with Egyptian officials a proposal for (Mubarak) to resign immediately and turn over power to a transitional government headed by Vice President Omar Suleiman with the support of the Egyptian military," including Lt. Gen. Sami Enan, armed forces chief, and Field Marshall Mohamed Tantawi, defense minister.
The alleged plan includes constitutional reform, a transitional government with opposition groups like the Muslim brotherhood, and "free and fair elections in September."
Testifying during a February 3 Senate hearing, senior CIA official Stephanie O'Sullivan said earlier tracking of Cairo instability showed conditions were "untenable," but "we didn't know what the triggering mechanism would be."
After Mubarak: What's Next? - by Stephen Lendman
The line from Gilbert & Sullivan's HMS Pinafore relates well to what's going on in Egypt, perhaps elsewhere in the region as well, saying: "Things are seldom as they seem. Skim milk masquerades as cream."
Visceral street anger is real. What's orchestrating it, however, is suspect, especially its likely Washington impresario, implementing long-planned regime change for new faces continuing old policies, leaving deep-rooted hardships unaddressed. The script is familiar.
In his book "Freedom Next Time," John Pilger discussed Nelson Mandela's betrayal in post-apartheid South Africa, embracing what he called "Thatcherism," telling Pilger:
"You can put any label on it you like; you can call it Thatcherite, but for this country, privatization is the fundamental policy."
In 1990, two weeks before freed from prison, he was quoted saying:
By Kevin Zeese
Egypt is an alarm that highlights the urgent need for change in U.S. foreign policy. It provides President Obama an opportunity to transform a foreign policy that has often had the opposite effect that was sought and is undermining U.S. economic and national security.
The list of recent policy failures in the Middle East is quite astounding:
By James Ridgeway
As things now stand, the United States appears ready to have Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak tossed out in exchange for his newly-named Vice President, Omar Suleiman, the Egyptian spy master. That is, maintain the status quo by swapping one dictator for another.
Of course, Israel must sign off on this deal aimed at assuring that Egypt can remain as America’s main base in the region, straddling as it does North Africa and the Middle East. Without that status quo, the U.S. would have to rethink its entire neo-colonial policies in the region.
But Suleiman looks like a nasty piece of work.
You don’t get much about him in the US corporate media, but Agence France Press has pulled together the basics:
Alan Dershowitz Supporting Tyranny? - by Stephen Lendman
Perhaps so in his January 31 Huffington Post.com article titled, "The Egyptian Revolution May Produce a Lebanon-Type Islamic Regime," saying:
"No one can confidently predict the outcome, both short and long term...." He then quoted Zhou Enlai once saying "It's too soon to say," when asked to assess the 1789 French Revolution.
Regime changes produce good, bad and in-between results, he said, ranging from his notion of post-Soviet societies to Hitler and other less ambitious despots. As for "liberated" Eastern European states, neoliberal tyranny proved much worse than harsh communist rule, but don't expect Dershowitz to explain or discuss decades of Washington/Israeli state terror and lawlessness. More on his article below.
By Ron Ridenour
Long time in the making! Long time suffering poverty, inequality, official murder-torture-imprisonment, despotism, fundamentalism, and governments lackeyed to US/Western powers.
I am no expert on Arabic/Middle East history or politics, other than knowing that US/Israel-led imperialism has had a grip on the entire area for decades, and before that there were other foreign oppressors. I know that in part of the Arab world—so far not involved in this uproar—the US-led “humanitarian” operation has cost over one million Iraqi lives, created millions of refugees, tortured tens of thousands and destroyed incalculable cultural wealth and history. European allies assisted in this butchery. Something similar is occurring in Afghanistan, and extending into Pakistan.
Egypt's Revolution: Obama Backing Regime Change? - by Stephen Lendman
In July 2003, a USAF Institute for National Security Studies report titled, "Egypt as a Failing State: Implications for US National Security" suggested "Mubarak's traditionally autocratic and oppressive short-term fixes" weren't working. As a result, "the possibility of unrest is real; with the correct confluence of domestic, regional, and international events, Egypt can quickly be added to the list of failed states....This paper (thus) contends that (the appearance of) democracy is a security imperative for the post-9/11 world."
In its July/August 2010 Failed States Index 2010, ForeignPolicy (FP) ranked nations under five categories: critical, in danger, borderline, stable and most stable. Ranked 49th among 177 countries evaluated, FP called Egypt a failed state "in danger." It scored lowest in three "delegitimization" categories because of:
-- endemic corruption, including ruling elite profiteering;
The death throes of the Mubarak regime in Egypt signal a new level of crisis for a U.S. Middle East strategy that has shown itself over and over again in recent years to be based on nothing more than the illusion of power. The incipient loss of the U.S. client regime in Egypt is an obvious moment for a fundamental adjustment in that strategy.
By John Grant
It was a dark and stormy night and Scat Horbath was glad to be out of the weather in the Washington DC metro, where he was to meet the sinister Ali Ben al-Masseur in the last car of the Blue Train.
Al-Masseur ran the Brothers Of Islam Charity Center in Arlington, and he held the clue to a two-thousand-year-old secret that had been scratched in code into the bottom of John Hancock’s pewter chamber pot. The fate of the free world hung in the balance.
The doors opened, and Scat entered the nearly empty car. As the car moved off he became aware of the subtle smell of falafal. Then he saw his man, seated at the end of the car chewing as he read from a copy of The Koran.
Al-Masseur looked up and flicked his tongue, projecting little pieces of yogurt sauce into the air.
“So, Scat, we meet again.”
Revolutionary Change in Egypt: Internal or Made in USA? - by Stephen Lendman
US imperial policy includes regime change, affecting foes as well as no longer useful friends. Past targets included former Philippines leader Ferdinand Marcos, Iran's Shah (Mohammad Reza Pahlavi), and Iraq's Saddam Hussein, among others. According to some reports, Mubarak is next - aging, damaged and expendable.
George Friedman runs Stratfor, a private global intelligence service. On January 29, he issued a special Egypt report, saying:
On January 29, "Egypt's internal security forces (including Central Security Forces anti-riot paramilitaries) were glaringly absent" after confronting protesters forcefully for several days. Army personnel replaced them. Demonstrators welcomed them.