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Mubarak's Failed Bait and Switch


By Stephen Lendman - Posted on 12 February 2011

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.

Behind the scenes, Washington and Egyptian military maneuvers were involved. They're always crucial, not visible orchestrated events. As a result, discerning reality is crucial. Hopefully, Egyptians understand, knowing the folly of letting up now and losing out.

Investigative journalist Wayne Madsen believes Obama waffled to buy time for CIA operatives to secure and purge Egypt's torture and rendition files, dating from when Attorney General Eric Holder was Clinton's Deputy Attorney General in the 1990s.

He also said Secretary of State Clinton wanted her husband protected, and former White House chief of staff (now CIA head) Leon Panetta had the same aim. Doing so, of course, requires keeping Washington-favorites in power, permitting no uncertain alternatives, people Egyptians need for real change.

Besides short-lived confrontations, orchestrated street violence was avoided. Whether it continues, however, is unknown as Egypt's military is notoriously brutal, a different reality than most on Cairo streets believe. Among them were hundreds, perhaps thousands experiencing its harshness, for the moment at least lost in a sea of celebratory humanity.

Behind the Scenes Washington Maneuvering

Notably on January 31, Obama sent former US diplomat Frank Wisner (son of WW II era intelligence chief Frank Wisner) to Cairo ahead of Mubarak's February 1 address. His mission: tell him not to resign until after September elections.

Publicly, Wisner confirmed what White House officials claimed reflected his position, not US policy. In fact, diplomats, past or present, convey only the latter.

Wisner noteworthy credentials include:

-- Career Ambassador (the highest foreign service rank) after serving as Under Secretary of State for International Security Affairs, Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, and ambassador to India, the Philippines, Zambia and Egypt (1986 - 1991) when he and Mubarak became good friends;

-- numerous corporate boards, past and present, including Enron, AIG, Ethan Allen Interiors, eogresources, Commercial International Bank (a leading Egyptian bank), Pharaomic American Life Insurance Company (ALICO, Egypt), Pangea3, and the American University in Cairo; and

-- currently an international affairs advisor to Patton Boggs, an influential Washington-based lobbying firm.

High-level and well-connected, his Cairo mission showed Washington behind-the-scenes maneuvering to replace Mubarak, delay transition, and install new faces under old policies, publicly portraying change - the old bait and switch con on a world stage, though whether it works remains highly uncertain. Expect months before clarity, maybe longer.

Obama's Public Statement on Egypt

Rhetoric always conceals policies, Obama's February 10 statement Exhibit A, saying:

"As we have said from the beginning of this unrest, the future of Egypt will be determined by the Egyptian people. But the United States (stands for) core principles. We believe that the universal rights of the Egyptian people must be respected, and their aspirations must be met. We believe that this transition must immediately demonstrate irreversible political change, and a negotiated path to democracy (with) a roadmap to elections that are free and fair."

Note:

-- no transition timeline was mentioned, nor did Obama call for Mubarak's immediate resignation with his entire regime popular outrage wants out;

-- political change masks business as usual;

-- universal rights weren't specified nor were free and fair elections defined; Washington won't tolerate either anywhere, including at home; and

-- vague sentiments were enunciated, masking Washington's real agenda for new regime faces under old policies - no compromises, no alternatives, no dissent, just hardline Realpolitik for unchallengeable imperial control; not just in Egypt; everywhere.

Obama's Real Agenda

As part of Washington's Greater Middle East Project, it includes neutralizing opponents, securing unchallengeable imperial control, preventing democracy, rigging elections to assure it, militarizing the region strategically, exploiting its resources and populations, orchestrating events covertly, and deciding how and when they play out.

In Egypt and throughout the region, they look similar to US-orchestrated color revolutions in Serbia (the 1990s prototype), Georgia (Rose), Ukraine (Orange), Myanmar (Saffron), Tibet (Crimson), Iran (Green), and currently perhaps Tunisia (Jasmine), and elsewhere in the Middle East, color-coded or not.

They all have a common thread: what the Pentagon calls "full spectrum dominance" for total global, space, sub-surface and information control. Whether it succeeds, however, remains uncertain given America's declining world influence and stature, including on Cairo streets.

A previous article discussed past color revolutions, accessed through the following link:

http://sjlendman.blogspot.com/2009/06/color-revolutions-old-and-new.html

Egypt: What's Ahead

For sure, Washington, the Pentagon and Egypt's military will decide, not Mubarak (an aging, now ousted dinosaur), Suleiman or other hated regime figures. Stratfor's George Friedman believes Egypt's military aims to save the regime, not Mubarak, suggesting three possible outcomes before he resigned:

-- continuing standing aside, letting crowds assemble and march peacefully to the presidential palace and elsewhere on Cairo streets;

-- blocking more protesters from entering Tahrir Square, containing those already there; or

-- replacing Mubarak with temporary military rule.

Egypt's military coup ousted him. He didn't resign. He was pushed, the heavy shoving from Washington. It's not clear if Suleiman will stay on. Hopefully public anger won't tolerate him or other regime figures, given how much they're hated.

So far, confrontations have been avoided. Doing so now "would undermine the military's desire to preserve the regime" and its people-friendly perception. Friedman believes options one and two were unacceptable. "That means military action" unseating him. Only the timing wasn't known until now.

On February 11 Friedman's Red Alert update said:

"Egypt is returning to the 1952 model of ruling the state via a council of army officers. The question now is to what extent the military elite will share power with its civilian counterparts."

"The fate of Mubarak's National Democratic Party (NDP)" remains unknown. Without it, "the regime will have effectively collapsed and the military could run into greater difficulty in running the country," ahead of elections whenever they're held.

For now, Egypt's military council comprises provisional rule. Very likely it'll want retained NDP elements and opposition parties help in managing transition. It's biggest challenge is "avoid(ing) regime change while also dealing with a potential constitutional crisis."

Popular pressure, however, must demand regime change, a clean sweep, ending emergency law powers immediately, and democratic constitutional changes.

Al Jazeera: "Hosni Mubarak Resigns as President"

On February 11, Al Jazeera reported massive crowds in Tahrir Square, a day called "Farewell Friday." Cairo and Alexandria images showed wall-to-wall humanity as far as the eye could see, by far the largest demonstrations so far after protesters called for millions to come out for "a last and final stage."

Despite mass public anger, tensions between army forces and crowds were absent, restraint very much shown, but how long will depend on unfolding events under the new military rule.

Earlier, AP said Mubarak flew to Sharm el-Sheik, the Red Sea resort 250 miles from Cairo.

The New York Times also reported a "Western official (saying) that Mr. Mubarak had left the capital, (and that) the Supreme Council of the Egyptian Armed Forces issued a statement over state television and radio indicating that the military, not Mr. Mubarak, was in effective control of the country."

In fact, a coup d'etat replaced him, but what follows or its timeline isn't known. What is known is that mass public anger and nationwide strikes effectively shut down the country beyond what any force could control.

The reaction following Mubarak's address, followed by Suleiman's, showed two officials disengaged from reality. As a result, Mohamed ElBaradei, now an opposition figure, responded bluntly, saying:

"I ask the army to intervene immediately to save Egypt. The credibility of the army is being put to the test."

In a top-featured February 11 New York Times op-ed, he said:

"Egypt will not wait forever on this caricature of a leader we witnessed on television yesterday evening, deaf to the voice of the people, hanging on obsessively to power that is no longer his to keep....We are at the dawn of a new Egypt....We have nothing to fear but the shadow of a repressive past."

Al Jazeera reported him saying Egypt "will explode" unless military forces intervene. They did but haven't explained what's ahead beyond commonplace boilerplate rhetoric - for sure no democracy according to Reuters quoting a National Security Council participant saying:

"What the US isn't saying publicly is that it's putting its power behind (Egypt's) generals. The goal is to stack the deck in favor of the status quo - a scenario that removes Mubarak, yet is otherwise more about continuity than change."

In other words, Obama's "orderly transition democracy," substitutes rhetoric for constructive change neither he nor others in Washington will tolerate. As a result, people power faces imperial Washington and Egypt's military, united against populist change. However, what develops regionally remains unknown. Resolution can go either way or some unacceptable middle-ground compromise. Avoiding it is crucial, but doing so means continuing daily protests until all essential demands are met.

A Final Comment

According to Human Right Watch (HRW) and London Guardian reports, the professed neutrality and public persona of Egypt's military belie its harshness.

On February 9, Guardian writer Chris McGreal headlined, "Egypt's army 'involved in detentions and torture,' " saying:

Military forces "secretly detained hundreds and possibly thousands of suspected government opponents since mass (anti-Mubarak) protests began, (and) at least some of these detainees have been tortured, according to testimony gathered by the Guardian."

Moreover, HRW and other human rights organizations cited years of army involvement in disappearances and torture. Former detainees confirmed "extensive beatings and other abuses at the hands of the military in what appears to be an organized campaign of intimidation." Electric shocks, Taser guns, threatened rapes, beatings, disappearances, and perhaps killings left families grieving for loved ones.

HRW researcher Heba Morayef said, "I think it's become pretty obvious by now that the military is not a neutral party. The military doesn't want and doesn't believe in the protests and this is even at the lower level, based on the interrogations."

Allied with Washington, the Pentagon and US intelligence, it supports power, not populist change, a dark reality street protesters better grasp to know what's coming from a post-Mubarak regime. Unless challenged, promised reforms will leave entrenched policies in place, enforcing predatory capitalism with police state harshness, what Americans also endure under friendly-face leaders.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour/.

Times rhetoric way overstated reality as resolution remains very much in doubt, though odds strongly favor continuity, not populist change. More on that below.

The three short articles, further below, basically say the same thing and the Guardian UK piece reports that many Egyptians who demonstrated aren't accepting to blindly believe that the military regime now in place will hold to this regime's claims that evidently are meant to fool protesters into thinking they can safely go home now and not worry. They're to think the military regime that's been in power with Mubarak will really help the population establish civilian leadership or government that'll replace the military regime, and many who demonstrated definitely aren't accepting this. They aren't naive. They want the changes in place before ending their demonstration(s).

Tunisia now has a new dictatorship and Egyptians need to be very wary of believing the new military regime in power; new and not new, only Mubarak's resignation being the sole real change so far. And the Guardian is not the only source about what Egyptian demonstrators are unwilling to blindly do or accept.

"Military falls out with protesters over Egypt's path to democracy

New leadership resists pressure from activists to hand power to civilian administration"

Chris McGreal, Feb. 12, 2011

www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/feb/12/egypt-military-leaders-fall-out-pro...

I got that link from a copy at Uruknet.

"The Emerging Counter-Revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt"
by Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya, Feb. 12, 2011

www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=23179

"Is this a 'Young Turks' moment all over again?
Egypt and the Israeli Factor
"

by William Bowles, williambowles.info, Feb. 12, 2011

www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=23190

Mubarak steps down, surely the result of direct US pressure. But what difference will it make, the country has been run by a military clique for three decades, all that's changed is that now they do it openly. The real issue, is what next? Will the masses now press for Sulieman, all of them to step down now? It's possible, it depends on what the army and the security-state forces do next, after the euphoria has died down.

(snip)

Maybe some of the Egyptians who demonstrated are willing to go home now, but many aren't.

Stephen Lendman:

Besides short-lived confrontations, orchestrated street violence was avoided. Whether it continues, however, is unknown as Egypt's military is notoriously brutal, a different reality than most on Cairo streets believe. Among them were hundreds, perhaps thousands experiencing its harshness, for the moment at least lost in a sea of celebratory humanity.

"Egypt's army 'involved in detentions and torture'
Military accused by human rights campaigners of targeting hundreds of anti-government protesters
"

by Chris McGreal, Feb. 11, 2011

http://m.guardian.co.uk/ms/p/gnm/op/sjndamv73yjnrrz3VgWirMw/view.m?id=15...

That article is also short but provides quoted accounts from some Egyptians who were arrested by the Egyptian army and badly tortured. Some or all of the accounts are so bad that it's surprising that these victims were released for that would permit them to make their accounts public, but in some or all of these cases, it's not the army that released these citizens. The army had handed them over to police and then they released the victims.

Frank Wisner:

"Egypt: Washington's Covert Intelligence Operation"
by Michel Chossudovsky, Feb. 7, 2011

www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=23113

That article is about both Frank G. Wisner II and I, or Jr and Sr, however they're known.

On Mohamed ElBaradei, Stephen Lendman wrote:

The reaction following Mubarak's address, followed by Suleiman's, showed two officials disengaged from reality. As a result, Mohamed ElBaradei, now an opposition figure, responded bluntly, saying:

"I ask the army to intervene immediately to save Egypt. The credibility of the army is being put to the test."

In a top-featured February 11 New York Times op-ed, he said:

"Egypt will not wait forever on this caricature of a leader we witnessed on television yesterday evening, deaf to the voice of the people, hanging on obsessively to power that is no longer his to keep....We are at the dawn of a new Egypt....We have nothing to fear but the shadow of a repressive past."

Mr ElBaradei seems to have quickly and conveniently forgotten that he's been out of Egypt for 30 years, based on what I've read about the amount of time anyway. If it hasn't been for that long, then it's still be a very long time and it's very strange for him to be speaking of what "we" will and won't accept as if he speaks for Egyptians, most of whom don't know him.

I don't see why Egyptians would care about what he has to say. And if he is for civilian-lead government, rather than military-lead and controlled, then the Egyptian Army surely doesn't favorably look upon his words, either.

He should probably stand aside and only support the Egyptian population, instead of acting as if he is an elected speaker for the population.

Lastly, people writing about the events in Egypt should treat all of the Egyptians who demonstrated as if they're naive or blind. Some called the resignation of Mubarak the "last and final stage", but many have said that the struggle is NOT over and they're right and will surely try to impress what they understand upon the others not yet seeing that the struggle needs to be continued for complete resolution.

Those who think the resignation of Mubarak was the "last and final stage" are badly mistaken, but many knew and know it wasn't the final and last stage; knowing more had to be done, afterwards. For them, the resignation of Mubarak was the first stage. They don't want a military-controlled government, wanting a civilian-lead one, instead. And they surely know that it won't be easy to achieve this goal that's necessary if they truly want justice.

Try giving those Egyptians some credit!

If they win, then they could still end up with corrupt leadership, or one that eventually and gradually becomes corrupt. Washington is civilian-lead and is extremely roguish, imperialist, et cetera. But Egyptians need for different leadership than the military regime now in place, so Egyptians' only alternative apparently is to struggle to establish civilian leadership.

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