A special programme of the international Arab broadcaster Al Jazeera looking at Egypt under Hosni Mubarak.
A special programme of the international Arab broadcaster Al Jazeera looking at Egypt under Hosni Mubarak.
As a follow-up to my earlier post on the situation in Egypt, here is another RT item that casts doubt on the purely popular nature of the present turmoil in the Arab world.
RT explains that the ‘U.S. government had been planning to topple the Egyptian President for the past three years – that’s according to diplomatic cables released by Wikileaks. The files show Washington had been secretly backing leading figures behind the uprising. Reportedly some fifty people have died and hundreds more injured in nationwide demonstrations since Tuesday [, 25 January]. Protesters have returned to Cairo’s central square this morning reiterating calls for President Hosni Mubarak to step down. Earlier the president dismissed his government, but refused to quit. Unrest in Egypt comes weeks after a month of chaos in Tunisia, which saw 80 deaths and the president being toppled before fleeing into exile. Investigative journalist, Webster Tarpley, told RT, Washington wants to put new leaders in power in the Arab world to follow the U.S. agenda’. On the website World Future Online, Asir Husain writes that ‘American officials were secretly helping dissidents interested in using social media to overthrow [Mubarak's] regime, a secret dispatch from the U.S. embassy in Cairo has revealed. The cable, dated December 30, 2008 and recently released on the Wikileaks website, also describes a plot to oust Mr. Mubarak in 2011, which it dismisses as “unrealistic.” It says a leader of the April 6 Youth Movement – a Facebook-driven group that has played a major role in Egypt’s current upheaval – told U.S. officials that opposition groups had agreed on a plan to replace the autocrat with a parliamentary democracy, including a weakened presidency and executive prime minister, before scheduled elections in September 2011. He listed several groups as being part of the scheduled uprising, including the liberal Waft Party, the Muslim Brotherhood, the Revolutionary Socialists and Kefaya, a broad-based reform movement, and said this loose coalition of groups hoped for support from the army and police to form a provisional government ahead of elections’.
On 16 January 2011, Webster Tarpley wrote that the “State Department and the CIA, through media organs loyal to them, are mercilessly hyping the Tunisian putsch of the last few days as the prototype of a new second generation of color revolutions, postmodern coups, and US-inspired people power destabilizations. At Foggy Bottom and Langley, feverish plans are being made for a veritable Mediterranean tsunami designed to topple most existing governments in the Arab world, and well beyond. The imperialist planners now imagine that they can expect to overthrow or weaken the governments of Libya, Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Algeria, Yemen, and perhaps others, while the CIA’s ongoing efforts to remove Italian Prime Minister Berlusconi (because of his friendship with Putin and support for the Southstream pipeline) make this not just an Arab, but rather a pan-Mediterranean, orgy of destabilization”. The uprising in Yemen seems to have fizzled out, but the people’s dissatisfaction in Egypt is such that the streets continue to be packed with demonstrators. It could be the case that Tarpley is over-reaching a bit talking about “a pan-Mediterranean, orgy of destabilization”, but the situation in Egypt is volatile and the people’s frustration very real. Husain writes further that ‘U.S. officials helped [an April 6 leader, whose name has been redacted from the document to protect his identity] attend the “Alliance of Youth Movements Summit,” which took place in early December 2008 at Columbia University in New York. The summit, which featured speeches by such people as Facebook co-founder Dustin Moskovitz and an undersecretary in the U.S. State Department, was billed as a chance for young activists from around the world to discuss using the Internet to effect social change. Ms. Scobey says the activist was happy with the summit, where dissidents in other countries gave him suggestions on how April 6 members could evade surveillance from Egyptian spies; others also invited him to visit and speak at protests in support of Egyptian democracy. The State Department successfully kept his name secret at the summit, the cable says. During the same trip, the anonymous dissident also met with several people on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., in hopes of convincing them to pressure Egypt to implement democratic reforms by freezing its offshore bank accounts. The cable says he met with Representative Edward Royce, a Republican from California who sits on the foreign affairs committee, as well as staffers from other representatives’ and senators’ offices, and members of various think tanks’. Curiouser and curiouser indeed. Tarpley continued in his 16-January piece that “Washington’s imperialist planners now believe that they have successfully refurbished their existing model of CIA color revolution or postmodern coup. This method of liquidating governments had been losing some of its prestige after the failure of the attempted plutocratic Cedars revolution in Lebanon, the rollback of the hated IMF-NATO Orange revolution in Ukraine, the ignominious collapse of June 2009 Twitter revolution in Iran, and the widespread discrediting of the US-backed Roses revolution in Georgia because of the warmongering and oppressive activities of fascist madman Saakashvili. The imperialist consensus is now that the Tunisian events prefigure a new version of people power coup specifically adapted to today’s reality, specifically that of a world economic depression, breakdown crisis, and disintegration of the globalized casino economy”.
The Associated Press reports that ‘[h]undreds of anti-government protesters returned to the streets of central Cairo on Saturday [, 29 January], chanting slogans against Hosni Mubarak, just hours after the Egyptian president fired his Cabinet and promised reforms but refused to step down. (Jan. 29)’.
 “Tunisia, Yemen, and Egypt: Coloured Revolutions All Over Again???”Pseudo-Ottoman Blog (29 January 2011). http://sitanbul.wordpress.com/2011/01/29/coloured-revolutions-all-over-again-tunesia-yemen-and-egypt/.
 Asir Husain, “Wikileaks: U.S. backed rebels toppling of Mubarak in 2008” World Future Online (29 January 2011). http://wfol.tv/index.php/analysis/middle-east/6139-wikileaks-us-backed-rebels-toppling-of-mubarak-in-2008.html.
 Webster G. Tarpley, “Tunisian Wikileaks Putsch: CIA Touts Mediterranean Tsunami of Coups; Libya, Egypt, Syria, Algeria, Jordan, Italy All Targeted; US-UK Want New Puppets to Play Against Iran, China, Russia; Obama Retainers Cass Sunstein, Samantha Power, Robert Malley, International Crisis Group Implicated in Destabilizations” TARPLEY.net (16 January 2011). http://tarpley.net/2011/01/16/tunisian-wikileaks-putsch/.
 Asir Husain, “Wikileaks: U.S. backed rebels toppling of Mubarak in 2008”.
 Webster G. Tarpley, “Tunisian Wikileaks Putsch: CIA Touts Mediterranean Tsunami of Coups”.
Saturday, 29 January 2011
The day after the day before when unrest erupted, and the population of Egypt is still mobilised and bent on overthrowing Hosni Mubarak’s autocratic rule. The broadcaster Al Jazeera reports on Saturday, 29 January, that ‘[p]rotesters are returning to the streets of Egypt, following violent overnight demonstrations across the country staged in defiance of a curfew. Demonstrators gathered in Tahrir Square in the Egyptian capital, Cairo, on Saturday morning, shouting “Go away, go away!”, the Reuters news agency said. Similar crowds were gathering in the cities of Alexandria and Suez, Al Jazeera‘s correspondents reported. In Alexandria, our correspondent Rawya Rageh reported that dozens of marchers were calling on Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak to step down. “They are calling for regime change, not cabinet change,” Rageh said. In Suez, Al Jazeera‘s Jamal ElShayyal reported that protesters were gathering, and that the military was not confronting them. ElShayyal quoted a military officer as saying that troops would “not fire a single bullet on Egyptians”, regardless of where the orders to do so come from. The latest protests reflected popular discontent with Mubarak’s midnight address, where he announced that he was dismissing his government but remaining in power’. And here is a slideshow to give you an idea of what has been happening in Egypt.
Even though the army has been in charge of Egypt since the revolution of 1952 and Gamal Abdel Nasser‘s subsequent coup, here is TRNN giving graduate student Mohammed Ezzeldin an opportunity to explain the curious role of Egypt’s army in the past days’ events.
Also on Saturday, CNN’s Ed Hornick reports that the ‘United States will review its aid to Egypt based on protests and the government’s response, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said Friday [, 28 January]. “We will be reviewing our assistance posture based on events now and in the coming days,” he told reporters. In a carefully worded press conference, Gibbs said that President Barack Obama has not spoken with Mubarak. When asked why the president hadn’t contacted the Egyptian leader, Gibbs said “We are again, we’re monitoring a very fluid situation.” Gibbs urged restraint and called for everyone involved to refrain from using violence. The White House is “deeply concerned about the images and the events we see in Egypt today,” he said. “The situation should be addressed through concrete reforms. That’s what the people of Egypt demand. That’s what they deserve,” said Gibbs’.
 “Protesters back on Egypt streets” Al Jazeera (29 January 2011). http://english.aljazeera.net/news/middleeast/2011/01/201112974149942894.html.
 Ed Hornick, “U.S. to review aid to Egypt in wake of protests” CNN Politics (29 January 2011). http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/2011/01/28/u-s-to-review-aid-to-egypt-in-wake-of-protests/.
Protests inspired by the revolt in Tunisia have dominoed along Egypt, Yemen and Algeria. Some have drawn comparisons to the colour revolutions seen in post-Soviet countries. To discuss this RT talks to William Engdahl – author of the book Full Spectrum Dominance: Totalitarian Democracy in the new world order.
27 January 2011
Even though Engdahl’s assertions are very bold, one cannot deny that spontaneous, popular revolutions just do not happen in the real world. Planning and organisation are prerequisites of successful overthrows, no matter the influence and impact of Twitter and/or Facebook. The Albert Einstein Institution boasts on its website that it ‘a nonprofit organization advancing the study and use of strategic nonviolent action in conflicts throughout the world. We are committed to the defense of freedom, democracy, and the reduction of political violence through the use of nonviolent action. Our goals are to understand the dynamics of nonviolent action in conflicts, to explore its policy potential, and to communicate this through print and other media, translations, conferences, consultations, and workshops’. On the website Gene Sharp’s books are ‘[a]vailable for download in 22 languages’, including ‘Amharic, Arabic, Azeri, Belarusian, Burmese, Chin (Burma), Jing-paw (Burma), Karen (Burma), Mon (Burma)’. Listening to Engdahl, one would think that Tunesia was the dry run and Egypt the culmination, with Yemen stuck in between. On YouTube, President Obama has said that the importance of free speech is “no less true in the Arab world than it is here in the United States”, continuing “I’ve always said to [President Mubarak] that making sure that they are moving forward on reform — political reform, economic reform — is absolutely critical to the long-term well-being of Egypt. And you can see these pent-up frustrations that are being displayed on the streets”.
The international Arab broadcaster Al Jazeera is ‘reporting live from Cairo, covering the ongoing and unprecedented protests in Egypt’s capital. In this clip, police fire barrages of tear gas at protesters gathered in front of the high-end Ramses Hilton hotel’.
28 January 2011
‘Protests have erupted in cities across Egypt following Friday midday prayers, with angry demonstrators demanding an end to Hosni Mubarak’s 30-year presidency. Tens of thousands of protesters have taken to the streets across the country. Al Jazeera continues its coverage of what many say are unprecendented protests’.
‘Protests have erupted in cities across Egypt following Friday midday prayers, with angry demonstrators demanding an end to Hosni Mubarak’s 30-year presidency. Tens of thousands of protesters have taken to the streets across the country’.
 Michael Falcone and Amy Walter, “The Note: Egypt Unrest: A Test For A Revamped White House” ABC News (28 January 2011). http://blogs.abcnews.com/thenote/2011/01/the-note-egypt-unrest-a-test-for-a-revamped-white-house.html.
In my latest op-ed, I maintain that the “Obama administration seems adamant to stay the [Bush] course, having recently committed “1,400 more Marine combat forces to Afghanistan,” as reported by The Associated Press on Jan. 6. In a way, the War on Terror, renamed Overseas Contingency Operations, is the 21st-century incarnation of the 20th-century Cold War that saw many proxy conflicts and an escalating nuclear arms build-up (that could only have led to MAD, or Mutually Assured Destruction). As I have indicated in an earlier piece, the NATO establishment already predicted, or maybe rather, presaged, such a development in the mid-1990s. Then-NATO Secretary-General Willy Claes at the time said that “Islamic militancy has emerged as perhaps the single gravest threat to the NATO alliance and to Western security.” In the absence of a Soviet threat, the Obama administration has now declared al-Qaeda and its, by now more than legendary and possibly defunct, leader bin Laden to be the US’s main military adversary. While making sure not to declare an outright crusade against Islam and Muslims worldwide, President Obama continues Cold War policies that ensure that the “military-industrial complex,” to use President Eisenhower’s famous 1961 phrase, is kept busy, happy and well fed”. And here is No Cure for That’s Dennis Trainor posing a direct, relevant and pertinent question to President Obama via YouTube.
On RT’s Alyona Show, ‘[c]orrespondent Laura Emmett explains what’s on the agenda this year [at Davos] . . . Every year the world’s financial, political and business elite gather at the ski resort in Davos, Switzerland to supposedly solve the world’s problems’ (26 January 2011).
On its dedicated website, the ‘World Economic Forum [announces that it] is an independent international organization committed to improving the state of the world by engaging business, political, academic and other leaders of society to shape global, regional and industry agendas’. On another webpage, Martina Gmur explains under the heading “The new geopolitical reality” that the ‘international balance of power has shifted, according to the Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Geopolitical Risk, from a world order dominated by the G7 free market democracies to one in which emerging market states enjoy much greater economic and political clout. Many of these states hold quite different views than leading industrialized states on how the global economy should operate and on the proper role for the state in economic development. “The result is a vacuum of leadership that will complicate efforts to restore confidence in global economic growth following the most significant market meltdown of the past seven decades”. The new reality will provide the following opportunities: for governments of medium-sized rising powers like Brazil, Indonesia and Turkey to redefine their roles on the regional and international stages [,] for resource-rich African countries to benefit from new economic relationships [,] for the United States to find a sustainable international leadership role that allows for the sharing of more of the burdens of provision of global public goods. For international companies and investors the opportunities come with the understanding of the new reality. The Global Agenda Council on Geopolitical Risk forecasts that: CEOs who understand the increased role of governments in market activity in many countries, particularly in state capitalist emerging markets, will be best positioned to benefit from first-mover advantage [.] Companies with diversified risk exposure will be better placed to survive an inevitable period of volatility in global markets [.] The players who recognize that emerging markets pose unique risks and opportunities will be best placed to profit. Some of the challenges include increased nationalism in both developed and developing states, increased potential for West-East tensions, and greater state intervention in the economy by developed and developing nations’.
Gmur was quoting from the sixth edition of the Global Risks report issued by the World Economic Forum. The 7-page report ends with a section called Wildcards, where it enumerates possible sources for crisis and mayhem in the coming year: the “Korean Peninsula”, “Iran’s nuclear program”, “Pakistan”, and last but clearly not least “Europe’s contagion crisis”. The Global Risks report states that “some EU governments will face risks of sovereign default”, combined with “the bid to save the eurozone, and the nationalist tensions it will create” could lead to a volatile global situation.
All in all, a talking shop with a well-filled agenda. As for the Turkish presence at Davos this year, the World Bulletin reports that ‘Turkey joins the 41st annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF), that will begin in Davos on Wednesday [, 26 January 2011], after two-year break. After Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan stormed out of a panel at the 2009 summit, in reaction to Israeli President Shimon Peres and the panel moderation, relations between Turkey and the World Economic Forum, organizer of the summit, soured. Erdogan said after the Jan. 29, 2009 incident that he would not go to Davos anymore and that Davos was finished for him. The official opening ceremony for this year’s annual meeting which will focus on “Shared Norms for the New Reality” will be held tonight. Deputy Premier Ali Babacan will represent Turkey in this year’s conference. He is expected to hold a press conference at International Esenboga Airport in Ankara prior to his departure for Switzerland. 2500 participants from over 100 countries will attend the WEF annual meeting. 1400 leading businesspeople from around the globe are expected to attend the meeting. Heads of state and government and government officials from 35 countries are expected to attend the summit. Turkish Finance Minister Mehmet Simşek and Central Bank Governor Durmuş Yılmaz will also attend the meeting’.
Following Tayyip Erdoğan’s well-calculated “One Minute” stunt which catapulted him and Turkey in its pseudo-Ottoman guise to unseen heights of popularity in the Arab world, the AKP government has resumed its position at the table of the movers and shakers of the business and financial world. After all, Turkey is a potential member of the BRIC+T group of erstwhile peripheral nations which will determine the global agenda in years and decades to come.
 “Turkey joins Davos after two-year break” World Bulletin (26 January 2011). http://www.worldbulletin.net/news_detail.php?id=69022.
 Cfr. “The Global Report: Brazilian President Slams U.S. Latin American Policy & BRIC+T” A Pseudo-Ottoman Blog (10 January 2011). http://sitanbul.wordpress.com/2011/01/10/the-global-report-brazilian-president-slams-u-s-latin-american-policy-brict/.
In my latest op-ed in Today’s Zaman, I put forward that “the Obama administration has now declared al-Qaeda and its, by now more than legendary and possibly defunct, leader bin Laden to be the US’s main military adversary. While making sure not to declare an outright crusade against Islam and Muslims worldwide, President Obama continues Cold War policies that ensure that the ‘military-industrial complex’, to use President Eisenhower’s famous 1961 phrase, is kept busy, happy and well fed”. RT’s Jihan Hafiz explains that the ‘US federal government debt now stands at over 13 trillion dollars, yet its continued excess military spending rages forward. The economy is in shambles and it seems the military is conducting business unrestrained. If there is one issue that the both major political parties in the United States agree on it’s the need to decrease federal spending to accommodate the national debt. Even the Pentagon’s Joint Chiefs of Staff Michael Mullen allotted to the problem.“The biggest threat we have to our national security is our debt,” he said. The Federal government’s debt is now stands at $13.8 trillion and is projected to hit $20 trillion by the end of the coming decade. The breakdown would mean every American holds more than $10,000 worth of America’s debt. However, the largest portion of the country’s federal budget is hardly ever questioned. Congressman Jim Moran told RT: “We’re not going to cut the defense budget in half.” The country’s military budget, now at $725 billion dollars, has become a price tag of epic and historic proportions. It’s the largest military budget ever! It includes $159 billion dollars for America’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan’.
Brian Becker’s characterization of the U.S. as a warfare state seems apt and to the point. Last year, ‘Secretary of Defense Gates submitted the largest military budget in U.S. history. The $708 billion includes nearly $500 million each day for Iraq and Afghanistan’. The U.S. thus spent $500 million each day for the duration of a whole year . . . That is a staggering amount of walking around money to be spending, particularly in this time of global crises and austerity measures all around. $500 million to be spent on a daily basis, while in the U.S. ‘[m]ore than 25 million people are unemployed or seriously underemployed’.
 Jihan Hafiz, “America’s defense spending addiction” RT (29 December 2010). http://rt.com/usa/news/america-spending-debt-budget/.
 “We won’t sit by …” ANSWER (03 February 2010). http://www.answercoalition.org/national/news/10-02-03-we-wont-sit-by-1.html.
 “We won’t sit by …”.
On Thursday, 27 January, the BBC reports that ‘[t]housands of Yemenis are demonstrating in the capital Sanaa, calling on Ali Abdullah Saleh, president for more than 30 years, to step down. This comes after mass protests in Egypt and a popular uprising in Tunisia that ousted its long-time leader. Yemeni opposition members and youth activists gathered in four parts of the city, including Sanaa University, chanting anti-government slogans. They also called for economic reforms and an end to corruption. Yemenis complain of mounting poverty among a growing young population and frustration with a lack of political freedoms. The country has also been plagued by a range of security issues, including a separatist movement in the south and an uprising of Shia Houthi rebels in the north. There are fears that Yemen is becoming a leading al-Qaeda haven, with the high numbers of unemployed youths seen as potential recruits for Islamist militant groups’.[i] The below BBC report talks about the situation before dealing with the situation in Egypt and the American reaction to the popular unrest there and the impact on the stock market.
 “Yemen protests: Thousands call on president to leave” BBC News (27 January 2011). http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-12295864.