- Inspired by Tunisia's uprising, Egyptians chose January
25 (the National Police Day holiday) to begin street demonstrations, rallies
and marches, demanding regime change, no ifs, ands or buts if they stay
- Initially, small numbers in front of Egypt's Supreme
Court became crowds chanting "Mubarak must go!" So far, they
remain in massive numbers, defying curfew orders, sleeping in streets,
persisting against formidable odds in full view of world audiences, thanks
mainly to Al Jazeera's heroic coverage.
- Anyone anywhere, including in America where it's mostly
blocked, can view its live online stream at aljazeera.net. It's become
a vital alternative to Western managed news, heavily censored to suppress
important truths and thus worthless.
- On February 8, day 15, Al Jazeera reported that:
- Hundreds of thousands of protesters in Egypt's capital
and across the country remain resilient. They continue "mass demonstrations,
with a new wave of optimism reaching the pro-democracy camp following"
Wael Ghonim's release, Google's Middle East/North Africa head of marketing.
- They also reject so-called government concessions, one
protester, Sherif Aein, saying "it's just a tablet of aspirin, nothing
else." Another, Salma El-Tarzi, expressed anger about negotiations
- "The political parties can do whatever they please
because they don't represent us. This is not a revolution made by the parties.
(They've) been there for 30 years and done nothing. This is the people's
- Abdul Moneim Aboul Fotouh told Al Jazeera that Mubarak
must go, and if "they were serious, the parliament would have been
dissolved, also a presidential decree ending the emergency law." It
was enacted in 1981 when Mubarak took power, Egypt's new strongman after
- So far, popular determination and courage are breathtaking
but no match against brute force if it's used. Egypt's combined military/police
might is formidable, Pratap Chatterjee explaining in his February 4 London
Guardian article headlined, 'Egypt's military-industrial complex,"
- According to the Congressional Research Service, Congress
approved over $70 billion in military and economic aid in the last 60 years.
Currently it ranges from $1.5 - $2.0 billion annually, the most for any
nation after Israel, getting more aid than the rest of the world combined.
- It buys F-16s, aerial surveillance aircraft, Abrams tanks,
Chinook, Apache and Black Hawk helicopters, armored personnel carriers,
anti-aircraft missile batteries, and much more, including tear gas canisters
and 12-guage shotgun shells marked "MADE IN USA."
- "In addition, hundreds of Egyptian military officers
come for short training courses to the US each year." When security
forces attacked street protesters, senior "Egyptian military officials
led by Lieutenant General Sami Hafez Enan, (Egypt's armed forces head,
met) with Admiral Mike Mullen (US Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman) in Washington....Egyptians
are well aware of (close US-Egypt ties and aren't) happy about (America)
training and tear gas shells supplied to the Egyptian military."
- In fact, crowds in Tahrir Square chanted:
- "Hosni Mubarak, Oman Suleiman, both of you are agents
of the Americans." They believe decades of US aid kept Mubarak's regime
in power. Indeed, the relationship is longstanding. Angryarab.blogspot.com's
site mentioned several notable quotes explaining how solid:
- In 1984, Ronald Reagan said:
- "Some may not realize that the US-Egyptian collaboration
on security issues goes back over 100 years."
- In 1985, he said: "Our hope lies in statesmen like
(Tunisia's) Bourguiba, (Jordan's) King Hussein, President Mubarak and (Israel's)
Prime Minister Peres."
- In 1988, he added: "I thank you, my brother, President
Mubarak, and wish you every success." He also said how much he admired
- Bill Clinton was just as duplicitous, saying:
- "I don't think we would be where we are today if
it weren't for President Mubarak....We believe that working together we
can help to bring more prosperity to the Egyptian people....I thank you
for your wise counsel, your strong leadership, and your iron determination....I
especially want to thank President Mubarak for Egypt's partnership in the
peace process and for playing a critical role in our efforts here."
- Of course, all US presidents made similar comments about
legions of past and present despots as long as they served America loyally.
Otherwise, new ones or friendlier figures replace them as James Petras
explained in his new article titled, "Washington Faces the Arab Revolts:
Sacrificing Dictators to Save the State," saying:
- "When popular upheavals challenged (previous) US
backed dictatorships, and a social as well as political revolution appeared
likely to succeed, Washington responded with a three track policy:
- -- publicly criticizing the human rights violations and
advocating democratic reforms;
- -- privately signaling continued support to the ruler;
- -- seeking an elite alternative which could substitute
for the incumbent and preserve the state apparatus, the economic system
and support US strategic imperial interests."
- In other words, Washington rhetorically backs change
under new faces continuing old policies - above all, new leadership serving
reliably as a US vassal state, obeying orders from Washington.
- In part at least, Obama's waffling has been to buy time
for a workable "alternative political formula that removes Mubarak
(now damaged goods), retains and strengthens the political power of the
state apparatus, and incorporates a civilian electoral alternative as a
means of demobilizing and de-radicalizing the vast popular movement."
- As a longtime observer of popular struggles, Petras understands
the process well.
- Odds always favor the powerful, including the possibility
that popular passion will tire, subside and fade, leaving entrenched forces
in place. However, some observers believe Egypt's uprising is different,
giving it a better chance than others. Time will tell. So far, its resilience
has been breathtaking. Petras calls the:
- "anti-dictatorial moment (a) first phase of a prolonged
struggle toward definitive emancipation not only in Egypt but throughout
the Arab world. (Its) outcome depends on the degree to which the masses
develop their own independent organization and leaders." Though no
simple task, supporters globally wish them God's speed.
- Egypt's Relationship with Israel
- On February 8, Stratfor's George Friedman offered his
latest assessment, explaining, of course, that decades of peace followed
four wars. In 1973, Israel nearly lost the last one, and might have without
emergency US aid. After Camp David, however, and especially under Mubarak,
Israel no longer was thought threatening Egypt's national interests.
- Decades later, "the world has changed." Earlier
warriors are now old. "Today's Egyptian military trains with the Americans"
and relies on US weapons and aid. However, "Mubarak has locked the
younger generation....out of senior command positions and away from the
wealth his generation has accumulated. They want him out."
- Moreover, the idea of Mubarak's son, Gamal, succeeding
him "was the last straw." Other factors are important as well.
Though street protesters "are a real faction, (they) don't speak for
the shopkeepers and peasants more interested in prosperity than wealth."
- In addition, what's "going on now is a struggle
within the military, between generations, for the future of the Egyptian
military and therefore the heart of (its) regime. Mubarak will leave, the
younger officers will emerge, the constitution will make some changes and
life will continue."
- As a result, Israel may become complacent. "They
should not. The usual first warning of a heart attack is death." Those
fortunate need dramatic life changes to survive. Egypt's uprising is more
than "a mild coronary and (should be) treated with great relief by
Israel that it wasn't worse," or at least not so far, but very likely
it has legs.
- Nonetheless, new forces in Egypt are emerging. Preserving
peace is essential. Camp David "is the foundation of Israel's national
security....The future of Gaza or the precise borders of a Palestinian
state are trivial compared to preserving the treaty with Egypt" and
retaining old order power under new leadership.
- Israel is tiny. No matter how many previous wars it won,
"it need only lose once to be annihilated." As a result, some
believe its military strength is crucial. Friedman argues that it "should
avoid rolling the dice too often, regardless of how strong it thinks it
- It may need to reconsider its strategic position, and
surely will have to if Egyptian events defy most analysts' predictions.
Key is whether mass protests are sustained no matter what alternatives
are proposed. Though rare, determined masses at times change the world.
Egyptians only want their's changed and so far aren't relenting. Add another
element as well. The whole world watches daily, offering global support.
- A Final Comment
- According to businessinsider.com, dated February 5:
- "A senior member of the US Marine corps is telling
people (that) "multiple platoons" are deploying in Egypt, a source
- It explained that families of high-ranking marines are
alerted when emergency deployments are made in case they can't communicate
- "That alert just went out, says our source."
The official reason given was "to assist in the evacuation of US citizens.
Our source was told that 'the chances they were going over there went from
70% yesterday to 100% today," meaning they're in country now for whatever
- On February 4, the Los Angeles Times headlined, "Pentagon
moving warships, preparing for possible evacuations," saying:
- The Pentagon said "US warships and other military
assets (were being deployed) to make sure it is prepared in case evacuation
of US citizens from Egypt becomes necessary....The Kearsarge, an amphibious
assault ship carrying 700 to 800 troops from the 26th Marine Expeditionary
Unit, and the Ponce have arrived in the Red Sea, putting them off Egypt's
shores in case the situation worsens."
- As a result, the situation bears close monitoring as
evacuation, if it's needed, may be secondary to key strategic calculations.
- Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at
email@example.com. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com
and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the
Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays
at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs
are archived for easy listening.