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2.14.11 Best-selling non-fiction author David Swanson joins Coy with an update on the revolution in Egypt. Swanson describes just how inspiring the revolution is to civil rights activists around the world. He notes the impact of non-violent training by the citizen activists in the streets of Egypt, and says that method of protest is more effective than military involvement. Along those lines, Swanson comments on the importance of the writings of noted non-violence author Gene Sharp being translated into Arabic. Finally, David gives his analysis of how the events in Egypt will influence American political action. Be sure to check out Swanson’s latest book War Is A Lie.
By Matt Stoller, the former Senior Policy Advisor for Rep. Alan Grayson. His Twitter feed is @matthewstoller
Via Wikileaks, we learned that the son of the former President of Egypt, Gamal Mubarak, had an interesting conversation in 2009 with Senator Joe Lieberman on the banking crisis. Gamal is a key figure in the forces buffeting Egypt, global forces of labor arbitrage, torture, and financial corruption. Gamal believed that the bailouts of the banks weren’t big enough – “you need to inject even more money into the system than you have”. Gamal, a former investment banker trained at Bank of America, helped craft Egypt’s industrial policy earlier in the decade.
Juan Cole has all the links.
New York Times on Gene Sharp's Influence in Egypt, Plus Pages of Meaningless Obsession With US President
A Tunisian-Egyptian Link That Shook Arab HistoryBy DAVID D. KIRKPATRICK and DAVID E. SANGER
CAIRO — As protesters in Tahrir Square faced off against pro-government forces, they drew a lesson from their counterparts in Tunisia: “Advice to the youth of Egypt: Put vinegar or onion under your scarf for tear gas.”
The exchange on Facebook was part of a remarkable two-year collaboration that has given birth to a new force in the Arab world — a pan-Arab youth movement dedicated to spreading democracy in a region without it. Young Egyptian and Tunisian activists brainstormed on the use of technology to evade surveillance, commiserated about torture and traded practical tips on how to stand up to rubber bullets and organize barricades.
They fused their secular expertise in social networks with a discipline culled from religious movements and combined the energy of soccer fans with the sophistication of surgeons. Breaking free from older veterans of the Arab political opposition, they relied on tactics of nonviolent resistance channeled from an American scholar through a Serbian youth brigade — but also on marketing tactics borrowed from Silicon Valley.
As their swelling protests shook the Egyptian state, they were locked in a virtual tug of war with a leader with a very different vision — Gamal Mubarak, the son of President Hosni Mubarak, a wealthy investment banker and ruling-party power broker. Considered the heir apparent to his father until the youth revolt eliminated any thought of dynastic succession, the younger Mubarak pushed his father to hold on to power even after his top generals and the prime minister were urging an exit, according to American officials who tracked Hosni Mubarak’s final days.
The defiant tone of the president’s speech on Thursday, the officials said, was largely his son’s work.
“He was probably more strident than his father was,” said one American official, who characterized Gamal’s role as “sugarcoating what was for Mubarak a disastrous situation.” But the speech backfired, prompting Egypt’s military to force the president out and assert control of what they promise will be a transition to civilian government.
Now the young leaders are looking beyond Egypt. “Tunis is the force that pushed Egypt, but what Egypt did will be the force that will push the world,” said Walid Rachid, one of the members of the April 6 Youth Movement, which helped organize the Jan. 25 protests that set off the uprising. He spoke at a meeting on Sunday night where the members discussed sharing their experiences with similar youth movements in Libya, Algeria, Morocco and Iran.
“If a small group of people in every Arab country went out and persevered as we did, then that would be the end of all the regimes,” he said, joking that the next Arab summit might be “a coming-out party” for all the ascendant youth leaders.
Bloggers Lead the Way
The Egyptian revolt was years in the making. Ahmed Maher, a 30-year-old civil engineer and a leading organizer of the April 6 Youth Movement, first became engaged in a political movement known as Kefaya, or Enough, in about 2005. Mr. Maher and others organized their own brigade, Youth for Change. But they could not muster enough followers; arrests decimated their leadership ranks, and many of those left became mired in the timid, legally recognized opposition parties. “What destroyed the movement was the old parties,” said Mr. Maher, who has since been arrested four times.
By 2008, many of the young organizers had retreated to their computer keyboards and turned into bloggers, attempting to raise support for a wave of isolated labor strikes set off by government privatizations and runaway inflation.
After a strike that March in the city of Malhalla, Egypt, Mr. Maher and his friends called for a nationwide general strike for April 6. To promote it, they set up a Facebook group that became the nexus of their movement, which they were determined to keep independent from any of the established political groups. Bad weather turned the strike into a nonevent in most places, but in Malhalla a demonstration by the workers’ families led to a violent police crackdown — the first major labor confrontation in years.
Just a few months later, after a strike in the Tunisian city of Hawd el-Mongamy, a group of young online organizers followed the same model, setting up what became the Progressive Youth of Tunisia. The organizers in both countries began exchanging their experiences over Facebook. The Tunisians faced a more pervasive police state than the Egyptians, with less latitude for blogging or press freedom, but their trade unions were stronger and more independent. “We shared our experience with strikes and blogging,” Mr. Maher recalled.
For their part, Mr. Maher and his colleagues began reading about nonviolent struggles. They were especially drawn to a Serbian youth movement called Otpor, which had helped topple the dictator Slobodan Milosevic by drawing on the ideas of an American political thinker, Gene Sharp. The hallmark of Mr. Sharp’s work is well-tailored to Mr. Mubark’s Egypt: He argues that nonviolence is a singularly effective way to undermine police states that might cite violent resistance to justify repression in the name of stability.
The April 6 Youth Movement modeled its logo — a vaguely Soviet looking red and white clenched fist—after Otpor’s, and some of its members traveled to Serbia to meet with Otpor activists.
Another influence, several said, was a group of Egyptian expatriates in their 30s who set up an organization in Qatar called the Academy of Change, which promotes ideas drawn in part on Mr. Sharp’s work. One of the group’s organizers, Hisham Morsy, was arrested during the Cairo protests and remained in detention.
“The Academy of Change is sort of like Karl Marx, and we are like Lenin,” said Basem Fathy, another organizer who sometimes works with the April 6 Youth Movement and is also the project director at the Egyptian Democratic Academy, which receives grants from the United States and focuses on human rights and election-monitoring. During the protesters’ occupation of Tahrir Square, he said, he used his connections to raise about $5,100 from Egyptian businessmen to buy blankets and tents.
Wael Ghonim Forgives and Kisses Soldiers, 60 Minutes Redeems Itself, Power of Internet and of Television Demonstrated
Three Hundred Gold Coins and a Fistful of Figs
By Diane Wittner
Once upon a time in ancient Egypt, there lived a Pharaoh who had great wealth and power. He had many palaces, and was worshipped as a divinity up and down the Nile River delta. The Pharaoh had thousands upon thousands of slaves. He was known throughout the land to be a cruel and cunning ruler.
To those who somehow escaped enslavement, the Pharaoh offered land along the fertile Nile valley, fine homes, slaves of their own, and beautiful wives. Very quickly the Pharaoh had a loyal - or indifferent and therefore harmless - following of courtiers. After some years, the comfortable and unquestioning children of these courtiers were counted, too, as reliable supporters of the Pharaoh.
From Electric Politics
I worry about the fate of violent insurrections (don't kid yourselves, Egyptian mobs are not non-violent). I worry about young, educated demonstrators with an overwrought passion for U.S. government support (it seems inauthentic). I worry that without an Arab political theorist (alive or dead), it's impossible to ring the changes on democratic institutions. I worry about whether one way or another the Egyptian state apparatus may prevail (we shouldn't inadvertently — or covertly — aid and abet a military coup). To quell my worries I turned to the eminent Middle East scholar Dr. Roger Owen. He likes what he sees and I'm glad that he does. But the situation is so fraught I hesitate to declare victory. All I know is, Egyptians should sort this mess out for themselves. Total runtime thirty three minutes. Look before you leap!
Egyptian Solidarity Rally & March
Organized by Egyptian Organizations in the U.S.
Saturday, February 12th, 2011
1:00 - 4:00 PM
The White House, Lafayette Park, Washington DC
By Stephen Zunes
With the subsidence of dramatic demonstrations on the streets of Cairo and other Egyptian cities a few days ago, as many protesters return to jobs and catch their breath, some analysts were arguing that the pro-democracy struggle had peaked and Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak had won. Tuesday's demonstrations proved otherwise. There is little question that the pro-democracy struggle in Egypt has achieved lasting momentum.
As with other kinds of civil struggles, however, a movement using nonviolent resistance can ebb and flow. There may have to be tactical retreats, times for regrouping or resetting of strategy, or a focus on negotiations with the regime before broader operations that capture the world’s attention resume.
Those who were expecting a quick victory are no doubt disappointed, but successful People Power movements of recent decades have usually been protracted struggles. It took nearly a decade between the first strikes in the Gdansk shipyards and the fall of Communism in Poland; Chile’s democratic struggle against the Pinochet regime took three years between the first major protests and the regime’s acquiescence to holding the referendum which forced the dictator from power.
Issued from the discussion forum held on 7/2/2011 around legal and constitutional solutions to meet the needs of the Peoples revolution
On Monday the 7th of February 2011 the professors of the faculty of law at Cairo university met and after many fruitful discussions and thorough analysis of the parameters of constitutional thought and what is best for our country in order for it to correspond with the great leap & the revolution of the Youth of the Nation which has both been welcomed and backed by many communities within the nation , presented to the nation from a pure conscience and in reaction to the new developments that have affected the entire nation's sentiments . Presented here to the great Egyptian nation are the results which the forum has reached in regards to what must be done for the good of the nation at this historical juncture in our beloved country
The forum has reached the following conclusions:
STOP THE WAR COALITION
08 February 2011
Tel: 020 7801 2768
IN THIS NEWSLETTER:
1) GLOBAL DAY FOR EGYPT: SATURDAY 12 FEBRUARY
2) WHY STOP THE WAR SUPPORTS THE EGYPTIAN UPRISING
3) PACKED MEETING TO DEFEND WIKILEAKS
4) AFGHANISTAN: HIDDEN FROM VIEW BUT NOT FORGOTTEN
5) DAVID CAMERON PLAYS THE ISLAMOPHOBIA CARD
6) STOP THE WAR: THE MOVIE AND THE BOOK
1) GLOBAL DAY FOR EGYPT: SATURDAY 12 FEBRUARY
Amnesty International and the TUC have called a demonstration
this Saturday 12 February in Trafalgar Square, 12noon to 2pm, as
part of the global day for Egypt.
Stop the War urges all its supporters to join this demonstration
and to do everything possible to publicise it as widely as
(Scroll page for issues - latest at top)
80 Pages: NEW DAWN IN EGYPT – The Revolution Is Being Televised, Fazila Farouk & Jess Hurd; It’s Egypt’s Revolution, Not Ours, Chris Hedges; A Lesson In Revolution And Hypocrisy, Andy Worthington; Hurwitt’s Eye, Mark Hurwitt; Walk Like An Egyptian, David Michael Green; Kissinger On Egypt? Give Us A Break!, Barry Lando
PLUS: Criminal Kosovo: America’s Gift To Europe, Diana Johnstone; Darwin Was Right, Fred Reed; Britain’s Real Domestic Terrorists, George Monbiot; The War On Wikileaks, John Pilger; The US Media: Selling Views, Calling It News, John Kozy; The Palestine Papers, Jonathan Cook; Obama’s Plan To Take Over The Internet, John Whitehead; Media As A Branch Of Government, Justin Raimondo; Nothing But Sh*t Strewn Everywhere, Jeff Archer; I’m Okay. You’re Criminally Insane, Michael I. Niman; Bendib’s World, Khalil Bendib; Shot In The Head, Alison Weir; A Cautionary Tale, William Blum; Why Washington Hates Hugo Chavez, Mike Whitney; Future Weapons For Future Wars, Nick Turse; Life At The Top, Sam Pizzigati; The Imperial War Presidency, David Swanson; Bradley Manning’s Torture: What’s New?, Sherwood Ross
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)
By Ali Abunimah, The Electronic Intifada
|Protesters stand in front of grafitti calling on the US government to stay out of Egypt's affairs, 2 February. (Matthew Cassel)|
The greatest danger to the Egyptian revolution and the prospects for a free and independent Egypt emanates not from the "baltagiyya" -- the mercenaries and thugs the regime sent to beat, stone, stab, shoot and kill protestors in Cairo, Alexandria and other cities last week -- but from Washington.
Ever since the Egyptian uprising began on 25 January, the United States government and the Washington establishment that rationalizes its policies have been scared to death of "losing Egypt." What they fear losing is a regime that has consistently ignored the rights and well-being of its people in order to plunder the country and enrich the few who control it, and that has done America's bidding, especially supporting Israel in its oppression and wars against the Palestinians and other Arabs.
The Obama Administration quickly dissociated itself from its envoy to Egypt, Frank Wisner, after the latter candidly told the BBC on 5 February that he thought President Hosni Mubarak "must stay in office in order to steer" any transition to a post-Mubarak order ("US special envoy: 'Mubarak must stay for now'," 5 February 2011).
But one suspects that Wisner was inadvertently speaking in his master's voice. US President Barack Obama and his national security establishment may be willing to give up Mubarak the person, but they are not willing to give up Mubarak's regime. It is notable that the US has never supported the Egyptian protestors' demand that Mubarak must go now. Nor has the United States suspended its $1.5 billion annual aid package to Egypt, much of which goes to the state security forces that are oppressing protestors and beating up and arresting journalists.
As The New York Times -- always a reliable barometer of official thinking -- reported, "The United States and leading European nations on Saturday threw their weight behind Egypt's vice president, Omar Suleiman, backing his attempt to defuse a popular uprising without immediately removing President Hosni Mubarak from power." Obama administration officials, the newspaper added, "said Mr. Suleiman had promised them an 'orderly transition' that would include constitutional reform and outreach to opposition groups" ("West Backs Gradual Egyptian Transition," 5 February 2011).
By Dalia Basiouny
I am very happy this morning. Yesterday was a magnificent peaceful day. There were millions demonstrating against the regime all over Egypt in the “Day of Departure” as it was dubbed. It is very hard to estimate the exact numbers that came to Tahrir Square, but I am sure that the numbers were more than Tuesday’s “Million People March”, which conservative estimates said exceed one million people, and Al Jazeera said two.
By David Swanson
The danger of permitting the Egyptians democracy, rather than replacing a dictator with his (and our) torturer lies, let us be honest, not in the possibility that Egyptian politics will approach the religiosity of our own Republican Party, and not in the possibility that the civil liberties we have helped deny Egyptians for decades won't all be immediately established, and certainly not in the possibility that the Egyptians would commit collective suicide by attempting to attack the United States, but rather in the possibility that other peoples would be inspired to attempt self-rule as well, and -- more directly -- in the probability that Egypt would cease to uphold the collective punishment of the people of Gaza.
Want to stop religious fanatics, then stop the dictators who allow no other kind of opposition, let the revolution succeed.
Excerpted from a University of Virginia student newspaper:
Quandt, Ayachi, Faiza meet University students in conversation concerning recent unrest, political protests in Tunisia, Egypt
Students and faculty gathered last night in Nau Auditorium to discuss ongoing demonstrations and political turmoil rapidly unfolding in the Middle East.
The event, “Revolution in Tunisia, Egypt & Beyond: Democracy on the Horizon?,” was hosted by the University’s Center for International Studies and featured a panel of speakers including Prof. William Quandt, University Lecturer Miled Faiza and Nejib Ayachi, president and co-founder of The Maghreb Center, a non-profit organization which promotes knowledge of North Africa, in Washington D.C.
Ayachi opened the discussion by detailing the events that have shaken the Middle East since December 2010. One event in particular, Ayachi said, caught the world’s attention — the actions of Mohamed Bouazizi, a Tunisian man who set himself on fire in protest of the lack of opportunities and poor living conditions.
“What started as a revolt, initially without meaningful political slogans and regionally limited, has evolved into practically a revolution by demanding that the people be put in charge within the government system, and — in spite of the recession — keeps growing,” Ayachi said.
Faiza, who grew up in Tunisia, said the “Facebook-Twitter” effect is the driving force behind the Tunisian revolution and the unrest in Egypt.
“We were brainwashed and we didn’t know we were brainwashed,” Faiza said, describing the impact of government restrictions on social media and lack of government transparency.
As a result of government censorship of the majority of news outlets, Tunisians began to look for their news information using other media sources, such as social networking sites, Youtube and Al Jazeera, the international news network for the Arab world.
Faiza noted that the largest protest organized the day former president Ben Ali fled was initiated through a group on Facebook.
“We can say now that the Tunisian revolution was successful thanks to Facebook and Twitter and YouTube because…the Internet gave people their dignity and power back,” Faiza said. “People were able to communicate and support each other, [and had] the feeling that they could unite and organize themselves.”
Image of Egyptian Pyramids Reading "Out of Order" and Peace Signs on the Free Speech Wall in Charlottesville VA
By Julie Hirschfeld Davis
Feb. 3 (Bloomberg) -- Senior members of the U.S. Congress are debating whether to halt foreign aid to Egypt as a way to hasten President Hosni Mubarak’s exit from power amid continuing protests against his three-decade rule.
Senator Patrick Leahy, the chairman of the panel that controls foreign aid, said he’s prepared to stop all U.S. financial assistance to Egypt -- which topped $1.5 billion last year -- unless Mubarak steps aside immediately and allows a transitional government to take over.
“If he doesn’t leave, there will not be foreign aid; I mean, it’s as simple as that,” Leahy, a Vermont Democrat, told Bloomberg Television in an interview yesterday. U.S. money “will not go to the Mubarak administration,” Leahy said, adding, “that’s a pipeline that can easily be turned off.”
2.1.11 Associate Editor of Mother Jones magazine Nick Baumann joins Coy with the latest on the events in Egypt. We have a true revolution on our hands in the North African country, and today’s conversation provides background on where these problems with Hosni Mubarak originated, what kinds of rights and freedoms the people rioting in the streets are demanding, and what we can expect to develop in the coming days. Finally, Baumann gives his thoughts on new legislation that would re-define what classifies rape crimes in America.
You can say it, Mr. President