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Whose revolution is it anyway?

Jerry Mazza
Online Journal
Feb 5, 2011

According to information gathered by the UK Telegraph in an article last Friday, Egypt protests: America’s secret backing for rebel leaders behind uprising, “The American government secretly backed leading figures behind the Egyptian uprising who have been planning ‘regime change’ for the past three years.”

The source of the information was a series of disclosures previously in secret US diplomatic dispatches released by WikiLeaks that American officials pressed the Egyptian government to let go of other dissidents whom the police had detained. They told of the American Embassy in Cairo helping a young dissident attend a summit for activists in New York, sponsored by the US.

Returning to Cairo in December 2008, the activist told the US diplomats that an alliance of opposition groups had drawn up a plan to overthrow President Hosni Mubarak and install a democratic government in 2011. Read the secret document in full. It mentions that the activist had already been arrested by Egyptian security in connection with the demonstrations and his identity is being protected by the Daily Telegraph.

The Egyptian crisis follows the toppling of Tunisian President Zine al-Abedine Ben Ali, who fled from the country after widespread protests for him to leave office.

Previous US diplomatic disclosures released by WikiLeaks also show that American officials pressed the Egyptian government to release other dissidents who had been detained by police.

The US also asked for the freedom of Mohammed ElBaradei, the pro-reform Nobel Peace Prize winner and former IAEA Director General, who had been placed under house arrest after his return to Egypt to join the dissidents. Riots took place in Cairo, Suez, Alexandria and other major cities across Egypt, a country of 80 million. ElBaradei is seen by many as the US choice to lead the National Front for Change. His distance from Egypt and its scandals is a positive to some, but his lack of being on the ground enough is a negative to others.

But Ayman Nour of the Kifaya party proved that the government could be challenged in the 2005 election and is a front-runner. Ahmed Zewail, an Egyptian-American scientist, and winner of the 1999 Nobel Chemistry Prize, is another potential candidate, as is Arab League Secretary General Amr Monnsa, according to World Today’s Monarchs of the Nile. Interestingly, Mubarak’s son Gamal waved off any desire to get involved in his father’s business or politics.

Yet, Paul Joseph Watson writing in Prison Planet typified ElBaradei as a Global Stooge, preparing to hijack the Egyptian Revolution. Watson pointed out that ElBaradei is a board member of the International Crisis Group, “a shadowy NGO (non-governmental organization) that enjoys an annual budget of over $15 million and is bankrolled by the likes of Carnegie, the Ford Foundation, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, as well as George Soros’ Open Society Institute. Soros himself serves as a member of the organization’s Executive Committee.” He also points out that Zbigniew Brzezinski has touted ElBaradei.

On the other hand, ElBaradei exhibited a certain amount of courage and independence by comparing the Muslim Brotherhood with the Orthodox Jews, calling them potentially politically religious extremists, saying he would negotiate a form of government of national unity, presumably avoiding extremism and staying with the centrists among the protestors and their wish for a new and more independent point of view.

But the nasty secret behind it all comes from no less than USA Today’s Israel says ties with Egypt must be preserved. Benjamin Netanyahu recently told his cabinet, “Israel and Egypt have been at peace for more than three decades and our objective is to ensure that these ties be preserved.” He added, “At this time, we must display responsibility, restraint and utmost prudence.” Why?

The truth is “Israel signed a historic peace agreement with Anwar Sadat.” The secret is that Mubarak, who took power after Sadat was assassinated in 1981, has honored the peace agreement, making Egypt an important source of stability, and selling out his fellow Arab regimes, most notably Palestinians, in the meantime. Ties have been cool but stable, allowing Israel to significantly scale back its armed forces.” This also brought with it $1.5 billion in military aid from the US to Egypt, second only to what Israel receives, $3 billion plus for military aid. Additionally, some 500 of Egypt’s highest-ranking officers are trained in the US each year.

So Israelis are looking closely at the unrest, concerned that a new regime could discard the peace agreement and take up conflict with Israel again. Before the peace agreement, the countries fought four wars in three decades . . .

While relations have often been calm, Mubarak was still their face to the Arab world, often mediating between Israel and the Palestinians. Mubarak also has cooperated with Israel in reigning in the militant Hamas group, which rules the Gaza Strip, the volatile coastal strip that borders both Israel and Egypt.

Israeli officials, speaking on conditions of anonymity, were quite concerned about Mubarak’s shaky grip on power. Some feared the violence could spread to Israel’s neighboring Jordan, the one other Arab country with a peace deal with Israel, or to the Palestinian territories.

One Israeli official told AP, “A stable Egypt with a peace treaty with Israel means a quiet border . . . If there is a regime change, Israel will have to reassess its strategy to protect its border from one of the most modern militaries in the region.”

These sentiments are echoed in the Atlanticwire’s Why Israel Fears Egypt’s Instability: “President Obama has already expressed support for the protesters opposing Hosni Mubarak’s authoritarian regime in Egypt. But now the US is being called on by one of its closest allies, Israel, to hold off on criticizing Mubarak and consider promoting stability instead. Much talk of Mubarak’s potential ouster is accompanied by the notion that the Muslim Brotherhood will take over the government. Israel’s fear right now is that with the loss of Mubarak comes the loss of Israel’s peace treaty with Egypt, in place since 1979. Haaretz’s Barak Ravid reports that the Israeli government is worried about the safety of the country without Egypt as an ally. Others following the debate, though, aren’t convinced Israel has anything to worry about.”

HAARETZ asked, Who will protect Israel on the Egyptian front? The peace with Egypt has been a decisive strategic boon to Israel, which must refrain from any action that could jeopardize it. Yet the relative complacency — relative to the concern over other threats, near and far — has a price. Experienced generals, who fought in Sinai in the Yom Kippur War as young officers and went to command armored divisions, are discharged not only from the standing army but also from active reserve duty. Various units that specialized in planning and in knowledge of the territory and of the enemy were disbanded. The only Sinai veterans remaining in the top ranks of the defense establishment are Ehud Barak, who, during the 1973 war, commanded an armored battalion and afterward was a brigade and a battalion commander, and Ashkenazi, who fought in Sinai as a military cadet.

Yet, the present Egyptian government was urged by the British Foreign Secretary William Hague to heed the legitimate demands of the protestors. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said “she was deeply concerned about the use of force.” Read the full Telegraph article for all the details, the major one being the US’s push for Mubarak to say goodbye and quickly.

As of Tuesday, Obama asked Mubarak to step down and the two seemed to agree on Election Day, Sept 11, eight months from now. On the same then next days, hundreds of thousands of protestors scattered throughout Cairo to say “no” with one voice. Obama is said to be prodding Mubarak to step down ASAP, according to the NY Times 2/2/11 edition.

An earlier Op-Ed in the New York Times by Senator John Kerry urged Mubarak’s departure as soon as possible, as well. The Egyptian people applauded the notion of “go now,” coming after suffering from the autocratic Mubarak for 29 years, Sadat before him, and Abdul Nassar before him, for a total of 60 years of military-backed autocratic rule.

Nevertheless, the other nasty bit was that ElBaradei warned of an imminent bloodbath on Tuesday, that is, Mubarak’s plainclothes police and hired thugs were attacking demonstrators in Cairo. Thursday morning’s body count numbers 97 dead and thousands injured. ElBaradei denounced the “scare tactics.”

Wednesday night, I watched a live MSNBC report as attackers of the activists retreated, tossing Molotov cocktails as they went. Gunfire echoed in the distance and fires flickered in the background. A tank covered activists with a smoke screen for protection. It was not a pretty scene.

As to why 30 years of autocratic rule has exploded now, a World Today article by Maha Azzam, Monarchs of the Nile, commented that 40 percent of Egyptians are living under the poverty line, unemployment is at 10 percent, inflation running at a similar level, the lot of the of the lower middle class and the poor has steadily declined. Most of the wealth generated is concentrated in a new regime connected, mega rich elite. This new and very evident economic divide has created deep-seated societal fissures.” Not unlike the US’s.

Curiously, as this pot of revolution bubbles and swirls, the reports Rights NGO claims that Israeli planes carrying crowd dispersal weapons have arrived in Egypt. If that’s true, hopefully, the Israelis will not decide to step in at some point from a nudge by the US to “stabilize things.”

That might be disastrous, considering that the Egyptian Army so far has more or less supported the political activists and has tacitly supported their revolution and not Mubarak. No one would like to see this amazing revolutionary outburst, which could cleanse the Middle East of at least one major autocrat, be replaced with others. The desired effect is a sweep of productive freedom for the Middle Easterners and their families. Yet the shadow of the Muslim Brotherhood and other fundamentalist forces remain in the region, albeit playing it cool so far, their motives, methods and ideology, yet to be fully known.

Thus, the revolution that began in Tunisia can spread to a wave of Middle Eastern countries to change the dynamics of who rules and how life is lived for the better by the disenfranchised. It is likely that for some this wave of revolution generates joy and for others fear of change in the dynamics of the ruling forces — just as that “change” notion has devolved in the US from a change to help the working and middle class to underwriting the actions of the financial fiascos and the defense establishment.

AS Paul Schramm writes in the Wall Street Journal, “The street protests in Tunisia and elsewhere in the region are momentous not just for the Arab world but have the potential to foreshadow a brighter economic future for the globe. The protesters’ basic message is not to stifle the economic aspirations of the younger generation, especially one as well-educated as Tunisia’s. Shackle them at your own peril.”

In an article from Rense, Gerald Celente goes to far as say, Revolutionary Fervor to Spread Beyond Arab States; Europe Next. Celente writes, “As we will see in Egypt, military coups will be disguised as regime changes. Already the public is being conditioned to view the Egyptian military as beloved liberators. But in fact they are simply another arm of the autocratic government, no more familiar with democratic ideals than the dictator they replace . . . who had himself been drawn from the ranks of the military.

“The world leaders and world media are not recognizing the Egyptian uprising for what it is: a prelude to a series of civil wars that will lead to regional wars that will lead to the first “Great War” of the 21st century . . .”

Though interesting, I find this an overly cynical theory. I feel that in a world racked by the excesses of wealth, power, the military, in short the Bilderberg mentality, hopefully there is a historic turn to revolution and freedom from these forces by the masses at this point in history.

Let’s hope what proceeds is an exit as from this present Reign of Terror, as it did in 18th Century France, eliminating a decadent monarchy for a parliamentary democracy. As well, the British colonies of that time became the United States through their Revolutionary War. They yielded a Bill of Rights and Constitution that was since challenged by slavery, and overcame it, only to be faced with The War on Terror of 9/11/2001. It once again threatens our democracy in the US from within as well as Egypt and the world externally, with US global corporatism and hegemonic aspirations. What cards fate hands to us and the Egyptian people next is anyone’s guess.

Democracy Now! Wednesday reported on the barbarous response of Mubarak supporters that day: Live from Egypt: The True Face of the Mubarak Regime, by Sharif Abdel Kouddous. According to Kouddous, “The Mubarak regime launched a brutal and coordinated campaign of violence today to take back the streets of Cairo from Egypt’s mass pro-democracy movement.”

So much for a peaceful change of government!

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