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Western Asia ("Middle East")
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.
Revolutionary Middle East Change - by Stephen Lendman
Democratic Middle East birth pangs may have legs enough to spread regionally, including in Occupied Palestine.
Officially launched in Cairo in 1959, the General Union of Palestinian Students (GUPS) offers hope, driven by a commitment for Palestinian liberation. With more than 100 chapters and over 100,000 members, it's organized rallies, political debates, cultural programs, and other initiatives to spread truths about the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.
Perhaps inspired by events across the region, on January 27, its press release headlined, "Palestinian students claim right to participate in shaping our destiny," saying:
By Jeff Cohen
In the last year of his life, Martin Luther King Jr. questioned U.S. military interventions against progressive movements in the Third World by invoking a JFK quote: “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.”
Were he alive to have witnessed the last three decades of U.S. foreign policy, King might update that quote by noting: “Those who make secular revolution impossible will make extreme Islamist revolution inevitable.”
For decades beginning during the Cold War, U.S. policy in the Islamic world has been aimed at suppressing secular reformist and leftist movements. Beginning with the CIA-engineered coup against a secular democratic reform government in Iran in 1953 (it was about oil), Washington has propped up dictators, coaching these regimes in the black arts of torture and mayhem against secular liberals and the left.
By Dave Lindorff
I never expected to find myself agreeing with Sarah Palin, but I’ve got to admit that the woman nailed it regarding President Barack Obama’s State of the Union Address. Asked to comment on it, she said it had a lot of “WTF moments.”
That’s exactly what I found myself thinking as I read through it!
We’ve “broken the back” of the recession? WTF? The official unemployment rate is still 9.4%, and even that is down slightly from a 9.8% high only because so many people have given up trying to find a job and have left the workforce, taking early retirement or just staying home. And the real unemployment rate--the one that counts those who have given up but would work if there were actually jobs to be had, and those who have grasped at part time work just to survive--is still at between 19% and 22%, depending on how you’re counting. Who’s Obama kidding: us or himself?
Middle East Intifadas - by Stephen Lendman
Initially in Tunisia, popular revolt spread regionally across North Africa and the Middle East, erupting in Algeria, Jordan, Egypt and Yemen. On January 27, Al Jazeera reported revolutionary fervor in Egypt, saying:
"On Thursday, protesters hurled petrol bombs at a fire station in Suez, setting it ablaze. They tried but failed to (torch) a local" Mubarak-controlled National Party office. Near Giza, on Cairo's outskirts, police attacked hundreds of protesters with tear gas, rubber bullets and batons. In Ismailia, the scene repeated, police using similar tactics to disperse crowds. Ahead of expected massive Friday protests, Cairo was uncharacteristically quiet.
On January 28, Al Jazeerah headlined, "Fresh protests erupt in Egypt, saying:
Following Friday prayers, "angry demonstrators demand(ed) an end to Hosni Mubarak's 30-year presidency....(d)etermined protesters," vowing to "carry on until their demands are met."
In his remarks today at the DC's New America Foundation, Ambassador Chas Freeman Jr. presented a scathing critique of a US foreign policy in the Middle East. He explained that the current trajectory of US foreign policy is bound to unfold more and more disasters around the world, noting that US missions in Afghanistan and Iraq and the stalled Israel/Palestinian peace process are exhausting America's political and economic capital. Rather than pursue national interests, he argues, the US has become subject to a series of self-defeating policies and unsustainable civilian-military relations. He made the case to revisit the original US objectives in Afghanistan, to reconsider the cost of US aggression and military supremacy in the world and to "outsource" the fumbled US role in the Mideast peace process to more credible nations. A video of his complete remarks is below.
Amb. Freeman's latest book, "America's Misadventures in the Middle East" presents a series of essays on US policy in the Middle East, covering the first Gulf War, the disastrous US invasion of Iraq, America's failure to engage in diplomacy and the relationship of Saudi Arabia with Western and world powers. The book delves in depth into many of the arguments presented by Ambassador Freeman at Wednesday's NAF talk.
By Edward S. Herman and David Peterson
By an historical coincidence, both Julian Assange and Luis Posada Carriles were brought before Western courts around the same time in late 2010 and early 2011—Assange in Britain and Posada in the United States. The contrast in their treatment by the U.S.-Anglo system of justice and in their handling by the Western establishment media is enlightening.
Posada, now 82, is a self-confessed terrorist, Bay of Pigs veteran, School of the Americas graduate, and CIA operative who has been credibly placed at two meetings where the plan was hatched for the October 1976 bombing of a Cuban airliner that killed all 73 civilians aboard. He also has been implicated in numerous other terrorist acts in which people were killed or injured and property destroyed, and he played a role in the United States' arms-smuggling network in Central America that eventually came to light in the Iran-Contra investigations.
By John Grant
Recent indicators suggest the US military mission in the Middle East and Southwest Asia is waning in influence, leaving us mired down with hundreds of thousands of soldiers and billions of dollars of equipment and bases. And a lot of face to save.
According to a New York Times analysis, Turkey and Iran are rising in regional influence as the United States is falling. And let's not forget, arguably the single-most important historical act that boosted Iran to this level of regional influence was the 2003 US invasion and occupation of Iraq.
“The jockeying might be a glimpse of a post-American Middle East,” writes Anthony Shadid in the Times analysis.
Still, you have to admire US leaders for their talent and tenacity in never publicly recognizing the obvious. George Bush, of course, was an underestimated master at this.