Ali Abunimah, The Electronic Intifada, 12 February 2011
Yesterday evening, after it was announced that Hosni Mubarak had met the first demand of the revolution and left office, I headed toward the Egyptian embassy in Amman. The joy on the streets was something I had never experienced before.
From all directions people came, pouring out of cars stuck in gridlocked traffic on Zahran Street and into the side street where the embassy sits. They were young and old and families with children. Egyptian laborers -- the unacknowledged back bone of much of the Jordanian economy -- sang, carried each other on their shoulders and played drums. Egyptian flags waved and signs were held high.
The chants were as varied and lively as the crowd which grew to thousands: "Long Live Egypt!," "The people overthrew the regime!," "Who's next?," "Tomorrow Abbas!" Some people showered the crowd with sweets, as fireworks burst overhead. Everyone took pictures, recording a moment of victory they felt was made by the Egyptian people on behalf of all of us.
After Tunisia, a second great pillar of oppression has been knocked down, at such great cost to hundreds who gave their lives, and many millions who saw their lives destroyed for so many years. It was a night for joy, and the celebrations continue today.
After the celebrations are over, the revolution too must go on, because it will not be complete until the Egyptian people rebuild their country as they wish it to be.
But standing in the streets of Amman there was no mistaking that the Egyptian revolution will have a profound impact on the whole region. Arab people everywhere now imagine themselves as Tunisians or Egyptians. And every Arab ruler imagines himself as Ben Ali or Mubarak.
The revolution has reawakened a sense of a common destiny for the Arab world many thought had been lost, that seemed naive when our mothers and fathers told us about it from their youth, and that Arab leaders had certainly tried to kill. The Arab dictators, who are as dead inside as Mubarak showed himself to be in his awful televised speeches, thought their peoples' spirits were dead too. The revolutions have restored a sense of limitless possibility and a desire that change should spread from country to country.
Whatever happens next, the Egyptian revolution will also have a profound effect on the regional balance of power. Undoubtedly the United States, Israel and their allies are already weaker as a result. First they lost Tunisia, and then suffered a severe setback with the collapse of the US-backed Lebanese government of Rafiq Hariri, and now Mubarak and Omar Suleiman, the closest and most enthusiastic collaborators with Israel except perhaps for Mahmoud Abbas and his cronies in Ramallah.
On many minds -- especially Israeli and American ones -- has been the question of whether a new democratic Egyptian government will tear up the 1979 peace treaty with Israel. That of course, is up to the Egyptian people, although the transitional military government confirmed in its fourth statement Egypt's adherence to "all international and regional treaties."
But the treaty is not really the issue. Even if democratic Egypt maintains the treaty, the treaty never required Egypt to join Israeli and American conspiracies against other Arabs. It never required Egypt to become the keystone in an American-led alliance with Israel and Saudi Arabia against an allegedly expansionist Iran. It never required Egypt to adopt and disseminate the vile "Sunni vs. Shia" sectarian rhetoric that was deliberately used to try to shore up this narrative of confrontation. It never required Egypt to participate in Israel's cruel siege of Gaza or collaborate closely with its intelligence services against Palestinians. It never required Egypt to become a world center of torture for the United States in its so-called "War on Terror." The treaty did not require Egypt to shoot dead migrants crossing Sinai from other parts of Africa just to spare Israelis from seeing black people in Tel Aviv. No treaty required or requires Egypt to carry on with these and so many more shameful policies that earned Hosni Mubarak and his regime the hatred of millions of Arabs and others far beyond Egypt's borders.
There is no doubt that the United States will not give up its hegemony in Egypt easily, and will do all it can to frustrate any Egyptian move toward an independent regional policy, using as leverage its deep ties and enormous aid to the Egyptian military that now rules the country. The regional ambitions of the United States remain the main external threat to the success of Egypt's revolution.
Whatever break or continuity there is with Egypt's past policies, the calculations have changed for remaining members of the so-called "alliance of moderates," particularly Saudi Arabia -- which allegedly offered to prop Mubarak up financially if the US withdrew its aid -- Jordan and the Palestinian Authority.
For many years, these regimes, like Egypt, bet their security and survival on a virtually unconditional alliance with the United States: they abandoned all dignified, independent and principled positions and adopted America's hegemonic aspirations as their own, in exchange for assistance, and what they hoped was a guarantee that the US would come to their rescue if they got in trouble.
What the revolutions demonstrate to all Arab regimes is that the United States cannot rescue you in the end. No amount of "security assistance" (training, tear gas, weapons), financial aid, or intelligence cooperation from the United States or France can withstand a population that has decided it has had enough. These regimes' room for maneuver has shrunk even if the sorts of uprisings seen in Egypt and Tunisia are not imminent elsewhere.
After the revolutions, people's expectations have been raised and their tolerance for the old ways diminished. Whether things go on as they have for a few weeks, a few months, or even a few more years in this or that country, the pressures and demands for change will be irresistible. The remaining Arab regimes must now ask not if change will happen but how.
Will regimes that relied for so long on repression, fear and the docility of their people wait for revolution, or will they give up unearned power and undertake real democratization willingly, speedily and honestly? This will require not just a dramatic change of internal policies which regimes may or may not be capable of making voluntarily, but also a deep reexamination of external alliances and commitments that have primarily served Israel, the United States and the regimes at the expense of their people.
Jordan is now a prime case where such a reexamination is urgently due. Regardless of whether or not (and I think almost certainly not) the newly-appointed cabinet will be able to meet public expectations for democratization, fighting corruption, and ending the worst neo-liberal policies that have put so many of the country's resources and companies in unaccountable private hands, the country's foreign policy must undergo a full review.
This includes the overly dependent relationship on the United States, relations with Israel, participation in the sham "peace process," the training of the security forces used by Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank against other Palestinians, and the deeply unpopular involvement in the NATO war and occupation in Afghanistan. Up until now, these matters have all been decided without any regard to public opinion.
And in the West Bank, the Palestinian Authority (PA) of Mahmoud Abbas is in a more precarious situation than ever. Its loss of legitimacy is so thorough -- especially after the revelations in the Palestine Papers -- that it exists only thanks to the protection of the Israeli occupation, US and EU training of its repressive security forces, and massive EU funding to pay the salaries of its bloated bureaucracy.
The PA's leaders are as dead to the just cause and aspirations for liberation of the Palestinian people for which so much has been sacrificed, as Mubarak was to the Egyptian people's rights and hopes. No wonder the PA relies more and more on the thuggery and police state tactics so reminiscent of Mubarak and Ben Ali.
The revolutions in the Arab have lifted our horizons. More people can now see that the liberation of Palestine from Zionist colonialism and US- and EU-funded oppression, to make it a safe, humane place for all who live in it to exist in equality, is not just a utopian slogan but is in our hands if we struggle for it and stick to our principles. Like the people power, against which the Egyptian and Tunisian police states were powerless in the end, Palestinians and their allies (particularly those supporting the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement) have the power to transform reality within the next few years.
In whatever form the revolution continues, the people are saying to their rulers: our countries, our futures, don't belong to you any more. They belong to us.
Ali Abunimah is co-founder of The Electronic Intifada, author of One Country: A Bold Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse and is a contributor to The Goldstone Report: The Legacy of the Landmark Investigation of the Gaza Conflict (Nation Books).
Egypt Uprising Reveals Hypocrisy of US Foreign Policy
by The Nation Editors Friday, February 11, 2011
The popular uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt, which have sent reverberations throughout the Arab world, reveal some uncomfortable truths about US foreign policy.
The contortions of the Obama administration, caught between its desire to stand by a dictator in Cairo who has been a loyal ally and its desire to channel a revolution that could define the future of the region, are replays we have seen over and over.
Rhetorically, America trumpets democracy and human rights. In reality, we ally ourselves with repressive dictatorships: Cuba’s Batista, Nicaragua’s Somoza, Chile’s Pinochet, South Africa’s apartheid regime, Iran’s shah, Indonesia’s Suharto and many more. When the people finally revolt, Washington flounders, usually concerned more about shoring up the regime than about supporting democracy.
Worse, because foreign policy is dominated by our military and intelligence agencies, our ties with these regimes tend to involve deep complicity with the security services that torture and kill domestic opposition. We are widely—and accurately—viewed in much of the third world not as neutral or distant supporters of freedom but as the bulwark of dictatorships.
We train their police, arm their militaries, base our troops on their soil. American people and culture are widely admired abroad, but our government is just as widely despised. This dismal pattern leaves us clueless when democratic movements arise.
Building a Perfect Machine of Perpetual War:
The Mexico-to-Colombia Security Corridor Advances
Greg Grandin February 11, 2011
Last January, I wrote an essay for The Nation on Washington’s integration of Mexico, Central America and Colombia into a “security corridor.” I called it a “rump Monroe Doctrine,” an explosive mix of militarism and neoliberal economics.
Militarily, assorted bilateral and regional treaties are fusing the region’s military, intelligence and judicial systems into a unified, supra-national counterinsurgent infrastructure.
Economically, there’s been an intensification of socially and environmentally disruptive resource extraction—mines, biofuels plantations, hydroelectric dams; tying it all together are loans and other funding from the World Bank, the IMF, the UN and the Inter-American Development Bank, capitalizing projects aimed to synchronize the region’s highway, communication and energy networks, blending the North American and Central American free-trade treaties and, eventually, the pending Colombian Free Trade Agreement into a seamless whole.....
Yemeni protesters march on palace Reuters
February 13, 2011 - 'Anti-government protesters clashed with police trying to prevent them from marching toward Yemen's presidential palace in Sanaa on Sunday, witnesses said. Shortly before the clashes, the opposition agreed to enter talks with President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who is keen to avert an Egypt-style revolt in the country, a U.S. ally against "al Qaeda".'
Thousands Defy Algerian Protest Ban The Street
February 13, 2011 - 'Thousands of Algerians violated a government ban on public protests and rallied in the nation's capital Saturday to demand democratic reforms, according to published media reports.'
_________________ The beginning of wisdom is to call things by their right names.
- Chinese proverb
The BIG issue here is the Army's failure to
lift the State of Emergency which allows
for arbitrary arrest and detention.
Protesters are determined to keep the Army honest.
Scuffles As Egypt Army Tries to Clear Tahrir Sq
Scuffles break out when soldiers try to remove protesters
from Cairo's Tahrir Square, days after Mubarak is ousted.
Last Modified: 13 Feb 2011 09:34 GMT
Scuffles have broken out in Cairo's Tahrir Square as soldiers tried to remove activists from the epicentre of Egypt's uprising which resulted in the president stepping down.
Hundreds of protesters remained in the square on Sunday and organisers said they would not leave until more of their demands are met.
Meanwhile, normality was slowly returning to the rest of Egypt, at the start of the first working day since Hosni Mubarak was toppled during the weekend.
Soldiers 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.
The tents, where protesters camped out during the 18 days of protests, were removed.
Protester Ashraf Ahmed said the military could tear down his tent, but that he was not going to leave "because so much still needs to be done. They haven't implemented anything yet.''
Al Jazeera's James Bays, reporting from Cairo, said the confrontations between troops and protesters was something of a "flashpoint".
"I think it reflects a bigger problem, that the military believes that now Mubarak is out, it's time for stability. But some of the protesters think not enough has been done yet. They don't want to clear that square until the army has handed over to a civilian government."
Protest organisers have threatened more rallies if the ruling Supreme Military Council fails to accept their agenda for reform.
"If the army does not fulfil our demands, our uprising and its measures will return stronger," Safwat Hegazi, a protest leader, said.
Organisers want the dissolution of parliament and the lifting of a 30-year-old state of emergency.
Egyptian Egyptian Military Heeds Protests,
Sidelines Crony Politicians
by Fintan Dunne - 13th Feb, 2011 - 5:40pm Cairo
Egyptian military dissolves parliament
Elections will take place in September
AlJazeera is reporting that the Egyptian military has dissolved the
parliament and announced that elections will take place in September,
or even earlier.
The military will run the country until the elections, taking over the
responsibilities of all the cabinet and the president.
Earlier, Egypt's prime minister had announced that the cabinet appointed
by Mubarak shortly before he stepped down, would stay in place.
Ahmed Shafiq, speaking after his first cabinet meeting since Mubarak left
on Friday, said Egypt's caretaker government will remain for the country's
transition towards democracy. He said that security would remain a
priority and pledged to fight corruption and restore peace in the country,
following 18 days of pro-democracy protests.
"The first priority for this government is to restore security and to
facilitate daily life for its citizens," he said. "I guarantee that this [cabinet]
will return rights to the people and fight corruption."
Those words have now been swept aside
by the Army dissolution of the parliament.
"This is a very important news, the protesters have been asking for a
specific timeline, they wanted to know when this transition was going to
take place, and when there was going to be an elected civilian
government, and now the military supreme command have answered that.
It is interesting that this military communicate came out shortly after the
prime minister spoke to the nation, I think that they are showing where
the power is, making it clear that for now the military high command
replaces the president in the structure, and the prime minister does what
he is told."
Protesters had called for both the dissolution of parliament
and the lifting of a 30-year-old state of emergency.
Now the only unfinished business is the issue of the state of emergency.
Some of the protesters have vowed to remain in
Tahrir Square until all of their demands are met.
Thus the confrontations today as the Army try to clear the square.
However this issue is more a question of principle than practice.
In practice, if the army is running things and the apparatus of detention
scattered (with it's former head under arrest and with his assets frozen)
then the principle onlt is in question.
However, that principle may now need to be addressed by the Army,
in order to continue to send the right signals to the protesters. _________________ Minds are like parachutes.
They only function when open.
Last edited by Fintan on Sun Feb 13, 2011 11:13 am; edited 2 times in total
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