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Archive for the ‘Arab Spring’ Category

Another triumph for the State Department

Posted by Charles II on December 2, 2014

Juan Cole:

An Egyptian court on Saturday found found deposed dictator Hosni Mubarak and his former interior minister Habib Adly not guilty (or rather just dropped the charges) the killing of nearly 900 young protesters by police in January-February 2011.

Downtown Cairo and some provincial towns erupted in protests. Indeed, these were probably the largest protests since the crushing of the Muslim Brotherhood in August, 2013.

The progressive youth are weeping tears of helpless rage today, as one of the achievements of their revolution– making public officials accountable– has inexorably slipped away. Liberal parties like the Wafd are also upset. The Egyptian judiciary, once a trendsetter for the Arab world, is increasingly making itself a laughingstock.

Let’s review the tape.
Feb. 2011: Despite U.S. support for Mubarak, he resigns.
June 2012: After over a year of military rule (supported by the U.S.), the Muslim Brotherhood is elected.
Nov. 2012: Due to instability, Mohamed Morsi takes control. Protests against the Brotherhood begin.
July 2013: Using USAID money, Morsi is deposed by the military.
May 2014: Under elections held under martial law, military dictator, eh… leader… al Sisi is elected with 96.9% of the vote.

From Emad MacKay of Al Jazeera:

A main conduit for channeling the State Department’s democracy funds to Egypt has been the National Endowment for Democracy. Federal documents show NED, which in 2011 was authorised an annual budget of $118m by Congress, funneled at least $120,000 over several years to an exiled Egyptian police officer who has for years incited violence in his native country.

This appears to be in direct contradiction to its Congressional mandate, which clearly states NED is to engage only in “peaceful” political change overseas.

Colonel Omar Afifi Soliman – who served in Egypt’s elite investigative police unit, notorious for human rights abuses – began receiving NED funds in 2008 for at least four years.

During that time he and his followers targeted Mubarak’s government, and Soliman later followed the same tactics against the military rulers who briefly replaced him. Most recently Soliman set his sights on Morsi’s government.

However, in Egyptian media interviews, social media posts and YouTube videos, Soliman encouraged the violent overthrow of Egypt’s government, then led by the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party.

“Incapacitate them by smashing their knee bones first,” he instructed followers on Facebook in late June, as Morsi’s opponents prepared massive street rallies against the government. Egypt’s US-funded and trainedmilitary later used those demonstrations to justify its coup on July 3.

“Make a road bump with a broken palm tree to stop the buses going into Cairo, and drench the road around it with gas and diesel. When the bus slows down for the bump, set it all ablaze so it will burn down with all the passengers inside … God bless,” Soliman’s post read.

In late May he instructed, “Behead those who control power, water and gas utilities.”

As I wrote so long ago (here), Egypt has been a dictatorship for a long time, almost always under foreign influence. Whether under the military or the Muslim Brotherhood, the opportunity for real representative democracy to emerge has been nil to zero. A major reason for that failure is because we will not let Egypt make its mistakes, learn from them, and develop. We think we have to micromanage their affairs.

Posted in Arab Spring, dictatorship, Egypt, State Dept. | Comments Off on Another triumph for the State Department

All you need to know about Egypt

Posted by Charles II on July 12, 2013

I’ve avoided posting on Egypt because, as I said:

The current situation, by my analysis, is that Egypt remains under military dictatorship with a Muslim Brotherhood mask.

So, now the Army has replaced the Muslim Brotherhood mask with another. It’s hard to get excited about a development like that.

Fortunately, Mark Fiore is on it:


Posted in Arab Spring | 5 Comments »

Someone has courage/updated

Posted by Charles II on July 9, 2012

Juan Cole says I am likely to lose the bet that Morsi prevails, since left and liberal groups came out against Morsi’s move. It’s certainly bad that anti-dictatorship forces have been split, but I cannot imagine how having a president under the thumb of the military and without a parliament to back him up could be tolerable.
Abdel-Rahman Hussein, Guardian:

On Sunday, [Egyptian president Mohamed] Morsi had called on the old parliament to reconvene until a new parliament was elected.

After last month’s supreme court ruling, [the military council] Scaf decreed that parliament was dissolved, with legislative powers reverting back to the military council. It is this decree that Morsi reversed.

Usually when the men with the guns issue an order, the politicians obey. If SCAF blinks now, their days are numbered. They almost have to arrest Morsi. But if they do, then they almost guarantee that the country erupts. Up until now, the Muslim Brotherhood has been acting to tamp things down, and if they oppose the military, then the military can only count on the old Mubarak machine… and those folks are in it for the money, not for principle. So, it’s unlikely that the military will act now. But Morsi has hung a target around his neck.

Here is Juan Cole’s analysis.

My bet is that Morsi wins this round.

Posted in Arab Spring | 3 Comments »

Greece and the Underpants Gnomes; Egypt under the pharaohs

Posted by Charles II on June 17, 2012

Don’t ask me to explain the Greek left. If they had worked together, they would control Greece and could have led it out of the EU currency straitjacket. Instead, left-wing Syriza declined to work with the discredited socialists of PASOK and has ended up with center right discredited New Democracy forming a coalition with discredited PASOK to do the bidding of the EU in a program that will inevitably lead to mass suffering on a scale not seen in many decades in Europe. And according to Syriza, this is great:

SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras, 37, made clear his was now the main opposition party, swearing to fight on against the bailout and take power sooner or later.

“Very soon, the Left will be in power,” the former communist and student protest leader told elated supporters in central Athens after conceding defeat. “We begin the fight again tomorrow.”

1) Lose power
2) ??????
3) Victory!!!

Of course, Syriza is not half so crazy as the Austerians.

In Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood is claiming a narrow victory over the military-backed candidate in the presidential race. Of course, this means nothing since there’s no constitution, no parliament, and the military has reclaimed absolute power:

Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood declared on Monday that its candidate Mohamed Morsy won the country’s first free presidential race, beating Hosni Mubarak’s last prime minister and ending six decades of rule by presidents plucked from the military.

But shortly before the final result the generals who have run the country since the overthrow of Mubarak issued new rules that made clear real power remains with the army.

The order from Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, the chairman to the Supreme Council, indicated that the army, which also controls swathes of Egypt’s economy, has no intention of handing substantial power now to its old adversary the Brotherhood.

“SCAF will carry legislative responsibilities … until a new parliament is elected,” the council’s order said.

In France, the Socialists are now in charge, and have no real power because Europe is in crisis and they’re committed to saving the EU. The only victors in all this seem to be the neo-Nazis. Some people are becoming convinced that none of the moderate parties have any solutions, and are willing to settle for a strongman.

Posted in Arab Spring, Europe, totalitarianism | 2 Comments »

Remember when I said that after an extended kabuki, we’d find that the military was still running Egypt?

Posted by Charles II on June 14, 2012

That was July 13th, 2011, reprising a February 2011 prediction.

David Hearst and Abdel Rahman-Hussein, The Guardian:

Two days before the second round of presidential elections, Egypt’s highest court on Thursday dissolved the Islamist-dominated parliament and ruled that the army-backed candidate could stay in the race, in what was widely seen as a double blow for the Muslim Brotherhood.

The decision was denounced as a coup by opposition leaders of all kinds and many within the Brotherhood, who fear that they will lose much of the political ground they have gained since Hosni Mubarak was ousted 16 months ago.

The decision by the supreme constitutional court – whose judges were appointed by Mubarak – brought into sharp focus the power struggle between the Muslim Brotherhood and the supreme council of the armed forces (Scaf), the military council that took up the reins of power after Mubarak’s fall.

The Brotherhood has now lost its power base in parliament, at the same time as seeing the military-backed candidate, Ahmad Shafiq, the last president to serve under Mubarak, receive a boost.

The decision means legislative authority reverts to Scaf.

Let’s just say I don’t think this would happen if SCAF thought the US government would oppose this deed, which effectively blocks Islamists from legally attaining power.

As’ad AbuKhalil comments:

The counter-revolution (US-Israel-Saudi Arabia-Qatar) are overplaying their hands and screwing up big time. The outcome will reverse what they had aimed at. Stay tuned.

It will certainly legitimize the Muslim Brotherhood in the eyes of both liberals and the harder-line Islamists.

Posted in Arab Spring, Conflict in the Middle East | 2 Comments »

The anniversary of Tahrir

Posted by Charles II on January 25, 2012

HBO will have a 30-minute documentary tonight on the Egyptian uprising. The current situation, by my analysis, is that Egypt remains under military dictatorship with a Muslim Brotherhood mask.

Now, this is not to disparage the Muslim Brotherhood. They are some of the canniest and most tenacious players in Egypt. They aren’t puppets, and they will be trying to use and co-opt the military as strenuously as the military will try to use and co-opt them. But for the moment, the military controls not just the streets, but the economy. That’s a powerful combination.

Cam McGrath, IPSNews:

CAIRO, Jan 25, 2012 (IPS) – When Egypt’s dictator was ousted during a popular uprising last February, the military leaders who assumed control of the country pledged to “protect the revolution” and ensure a swift transition to civilian rule within six months. One year later, the ruling generals appear to have hijacked the transition to preserve the military institution’s economic autonomy and secure their own political future.

Cam McGrath, IPSNews:

CAIRO, Jan 25, 2012 (IPS) – When Egypt’s dictator was ousted during a popular uprising last February, the military leaders who assumed control of the country pledged to “protect the revolution” and ensure a swift transition to civilian rule within six months. One year later, the ruling generals appear to have hijacked the transition to preserve the military institution’s economic autonomy and secure their own political future.

“The military controls many economic sectors, and now it controls the government that regulates these sectors,” says Ahmed Sakr Ashour, professor of management at Alexandria University. “You can see why it wouldn’t want to give that up.”

Cam McGrath, IPSNews:

CAIRO, Jan 18, 2012 (IPS) – For three decades Western governments and lending institutions bankrolled a corrupt regime in Egypt that trampled human rights and stifled democracy. Now they appear ready to do it again, say critics of the military council that has ruled since removing president Hosni Mubarak last February.

The popular uprising that unseated Mubarak had a deep impact on Egypt’s economy. Foreign reserves plunged over 50 percent in 2011 to reach 18 billion dollars as the vital tourism industry and other business sectors continue to suffer from political instability and labour unrest. The government is anticipating a budget deficit of 11 percent of GDP this year unless it can successfully implement austerity measures to save over 3 billion dollars.

The West was quick to offer a lifeline to battered Arab Spring economies. Group of Eight (G8) finance chiefs meeting in Deauville last May said international banks could provide up to 20 billion dollars to post- revolution Tunisia and Egypt. Officials said the funding would be distributed in stages to reduce the risk of national institutions, including the military, misusing the aid or simply syphoning it off.

Adam Morrow and Khaled Moussa al-Omrani, IPSNews:

CAIRO, Jan 19, 2012 (IPS) – The Islamist landslide in recently concluded parliamentary polls has led to fears in some quarters of an impending paradigm shift in Egyptian foreign policy. Most local analysts, however, dismiss the likelihood of any sea changes, especially when it comes to the sensitive issues of Palestine and the Camp David peace agreement between Egypt and Israel.

Posted in Arab Spring | Comments Off on The anniversary of Tahrir

Another datapoint on Egyptian Spring

Posted by Charles II on January 14, 2012

Peter Beaumont, The Guardian:

The Egyptian reform leader Mohamed ElBaradei has dramatically announced his withdrawal from the presidential race in protest at the ruling military council’s failure to put the country on the path to democracy.

The Nobel laureate, regarded as a driving force behind the movement that forced the former president Hosni Mubarak to step down, said the conditions for a fair election were not in place.

If conditions for a fair election are not in place, why has the US government recognized the recent parliamentary elections?

Posted in Arab Spring | 2 Comments »

A new wrinkle on the Egyptian dictatorship’s raid of NGOs

Posted by Charles II on January 11, 2012

Cam McGrath, IPS News:

“Egypt does not oppose foreign funding of NGOs as long as it complies with Egyptian and international laws. However, the funding must be for development, not political purposes,” Fayza Aboul Naga, minister for planning and international cooperation, said in November.

Aboul Naga, who was appointed by Mubarak and has survived four cabinet changes since his ouster, accused the U.S. government of directly funding 14 American and 12 unlicensed Egyptian NGOs.

Washington has admitted to as much. In June, U.S. Ambassador to Egypt Anne Patterson said the United States had spent 40 million dollars in Egypt to promote democracy since the revolution. She said 600 Egyptian NGOs had applied for funding.

El-Borai argues that the military is less concerned about organisations receiving foreign funds than it is about limiting the reach and resources available to NGOs engaged in supporting principles that threaten its rule.

“It’s very clear that this is a campaign against civil society groups calling for democracy, citizenship and a civil state,” he told IPS. “When (security forces) raided offices, it was these groups and not organisations receiving money from the Gulf (Arab states) that got shut down.”

According to Al-Akhbar state newspaper, the Ansar Al-Sunnah Al-Mohamedeya group received over 50 million dollars from Qatari and Kuwaiti institutions since the revolution, making it the biggest recipient of foreign aid in the country. The paper alleged that the donations went to promoting the ultra-conservative Islamic Salafi movement in Egypt.

Al-Akhbar also reported that an institution created in memorial of Mubarak’s deceased grandson received nearly 15 million dollars from the United Arab Emirates and Oman. The opaque charity is believed to be controlled by the “feloul”, that is, the remnants of the old regime.

This is actually pretty interesting. The military (i.e., the Egyptian dictatorship) is arguing that (a) the US is funding non-governmental organizations in violation of Egyptian law, and (b) that other foreign governments such as Qatar,Kuwait, UAR, and Oman (presumably with American acquiescence or connivance) are funding Islamic fundamentalists. It probably also objects to the US funding American NGOs, so an interesting question is whether the NDI, IRI, Freedom House and other USG pawns are licensed to operate in Egypt.

Now, I think it’s highly unlikely that the US would fund Islamists. The US generally either funds the old dictatorship or neo-liberal groups. It’s much more likely that Qatar, Kuwait, UAR, and Oman are doing this on their own. But the US is not putting up a big fuss over it.

Which side is the US on?

Posted in Arab Spring, totalitarianism | Comments Off on A new wrinkle on the Egyptian dictatorship’s raid of NGOs

More fun in Euroland

Posted by Charles II on January 6, 2012

Hungarian and Egyptian yields spike, Chinese land prices slump.

More joy as it arrives in my mail box.
Update: Ah, well, US jobs increase, so all is well, say the European markets. Even Asia is not so bad: Japan down, China up.

But there’s a fair amount of negative news in Europe, even though the US news is good.

Posted in Arab Spring, China, economy, Europe, financial crisis | Comments Off on More fun in Euroland

US furious as Egyptian dictatorship raids US-sponsored fifth column groups

Posted by Charles II on December 30, 2011

Peter Beaumont and Paul Harris, The Guardian:

Relations between Egypt’s military rulers and the United States threatened to hit a new low after Egyptian security forces launched unprecedented armed raids on a series of high profile human rights and pro-democracy organisations.

The raids included targeting the US-government funded National Democratic Institute – founded by former secretary of state Madeleine Albright – and the International Republican Institute, whose chairman is Republican senator John McCain. Both organisations are affiliated with the two major US political parties.

Security forces also raided the offices of Washington-based Freedom House.

During the raids riot police confined staff to their offices and forbade them from making phone calls. Seventeen Egyptian and international groups were targeted as part of a widespread investigation into foreign funding of Egyptian civic society groups.

All of these groups are widely believed, whether correctly or not I don’t know, to be CIA fronts. It doesn’t really matter whether they are CIA-connected or not: they are agents of US influence, funded by the US Government. Throughout Latin America, they are accused of interfering in and rigging elections. So to have the Egyptian military raid them is really very extraordinary.

Is this a case of thieves falling out? Of Islamist power demanding the military assert national sovereignty? More kabuki?

The US government could not protest the cold-blooded slaughter of 28 protesters. It could not do better than express concern about stripping, brutalizing, and humiliating women. Now it is “deeply concerned.” Oh, that’ll make them cower.

Posted in Arab Spring, CIA, State Department | 1 Comment »

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