February 8, 2011
Asia Times

Egypt's Nationalists At Odds With Vested Interests

by Pepe Escobar

After more than two weeks of protests on the streets of Egypt against President Hosni Mubarak, this is what the White House's "orderly transition" is all about - with Washington still playing all sides . . .

Robert Springborg, professor of national security affairs at the US Naval Postgraduate School, tells Reuters, "The military will engineer a succession. The West - the US and the EU [European Union] - are working to that end. We are working closely with the military ... to ensure a continuation of a dominant role of the military in the society, the polity and the economy." . . .

Connecting the dots, the street also knows that a truly representative, sovereign Egyptian government cripples the entire US-controlled Middle East power arrangement.

Historically, what Washington always really feared is Arab nationalism, not crackpot self-made jihadis. Arab nationalism is intrinsically, viscerally, opposed to the 1979 Camp David peace accords, which have neutralized Egypt and left Israel with a free iron hand to proceed with its slow strangulation of Palestine; . . .

Essentially, this is what the Egyptian street wants.

Mubarak down immediately. Suleiman starts a national dialogue with an opposition coalition, observed by a neutral UN delegation. Then a constitutional assembly is established to amend articles 77, 78 and 88 of the constitution to enable any Egyptian to be a candidate for the presidency.

The state of emergency (in effect for over 25 years) is lifted. The judicial system establishes monitoring bodies for future elections. A national coalition body is established to monitor the transition during the next six months, and organize elections according to international standards. New guidelines are set for legal political parties not vetted by Mubarakism's National Democratic Party (NDP) but by an independent neutral body. The country starts over with the rule of law and an independent judiciary. . . .


"Protests in Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Tunisia, Yemen Scramble U.S. Foreign Policy," The Wisdom Fund, January 16, 2011

[Ultimately, the Anglo-American Empire is still anchored to the principles laid down in 1945: to support those democracies that make the "right choice" (that of servility) and to oppose the nations that make the "wrong choice" (that of independence).

Consequently, if they deem it necessary, Washington and London will endorse without any qualms a bloodbath in Egypt, provided that the military who wins the upper hand pledges to maintain the international status quo.--Thierry Meyssan, "Egypt on the brink of a bloodbath,", February 2, 2011]

[One reason for the military's peaceful response: the unique role it plays in the Egyptian economy. The military owns "virtually every industry in the country," according to Robert Springborg. . . .

The military would almost certainly go along with a successor, the cable's author writes, if that successor didn't interfere in the military's business arrangements. But, the cable continues, "in a messier succession scenario, it becomes more difficult to predict the military's actions."--Alex Blumberg, "Why Egypt's Military Cares About Home Appliances,", February 4, 2011]

[ . . . most Gulf states required foreigners give a local business partner a 51% stake in start-up ventures. In Egypt, the figure is commonly nearer 20%, but still gives politicians and close allies in the military a source of huge profits with no initial outlay and little risk.--Phillip Inman, "Mubarak family fortune could reach $70bn, say experts," Guardian, February 4, 2011]

[it's all about oil and Israel. . . .

The Arab street is very much aware how the Mubarak system was bribed to send natural gas to Israel at ridiculous prices; how it enforces the blockade against civilians in Gaza; and how, bribed by the US, it acts as Israel's bouncer. Netanyahu stealing Palestinian land or starving Gaza to death, and Mubarak using billions in US military aid to crush people power - this is all seen by the Arab street as supported by Washington.--Pepe Escobar, "Why the US fears Arab democracy,", February 5, 2011]

[A central and critical reality is that it is US tax money that has propped up Hosni Mubarak's despotic regime over the past 30 years, and that this money has flowed, from the beginning, largely on behalf of Israel.--Alison Weir, "Critical Connections: Egypt, the US, and Israel,", February 5, 2011]

[In Tahrir Square, Christians and Muslims held hands and formed protective guards at each other's services in a demonstration of solidarity designed to convey that the protesters are united in common cause and that heated debate in the west about the role of the Muslim Brotherhood is of less concern to Egyptians.--Chris McGreal, "Egypt: 'Omar Suleiman was part of the old system. We want a new system'," Guardian, February 6, 2011]

Jonathon Lis, "Netanyahu: Egypt could fall into hands of radical Islamists,", February 7, 2011

[Frank Wisner, President Barack Obama's envoy to Cairo who infuriated the White House this weekend by urging Hosni Mubarak to remain President of Egypt, works for a New York and Washington law firm which works for the dictator's own Egyptian government.--Robert Fisk, "US envoy's business link to Egypt: Obama scrambles to limit damage after Frank Wisner makes robust call for Mubarak to remain in place as leader," Independent, February 7, 2011]

[Israel, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates have each repeatedly pressed the United States not to cut loose Egypt's president--Mark Landler and Helene Cooper, "Allies Press U.S. to Go Slow on Egypt,", February 8, 2011]

[The Egyptian military has secretly detained hundreds and possibly thousands of suspected government opponents--Chris McGreal, "Egypt's army 'involved in detentions and torture': Military accused by human rights campaigners of targeting hundreds of anti-government protesters," Independent, February 9, 2011]

Christopher Hope, "WikiLeaks: Suleiman told Israel he would 'cleanse' Sinai of arms runners to Gaza," Telegraph, February 9, 2011

[It is now apparent that the White House has three primary policy objectives in Egypt. First, and foremost, Israeli security must be preserved at all cost. . . . Second, we must allay any fears which our authoritarian Arab allies may have of possible abandonment by the United States. . . . Third, while pretending to be sympathetic to the pleas of the anti-government demonstrators for freedom and democracy, our objective is to restore the status quo in Egypt as soon as possible.--Thomas H. Naylor, "American Duplicity in Egypt,", February 10, 2011]

Chris McGreal, "Egypt's hope turns to fury as Mubarak clings to power," Guardian, February 10, 2011

[President Anwar Sadat became America's man through the usual billion-dollar bribery and, for this, he was assassinated in 1981. Under his successor, Hosni Mubarak, dissenters came to Liberation Square at their peril. The latest US-Israeli project of Mubarak, routinely enriched by Washington's bagmen, is the building of an underground wall behind which the Palestinians of Gaza are to be imprisoned for ever.--John Pilger, "The Egyptian revolt is coming home," New Statesman, February 10, 2011]

Robert Dreyfuss, "What Is the Muslim Brotherhood, and Will It Take Over Egypt,", February 8, 2011

Robert Fisk, "A tyrant's exit. A nation's joy," Independent, February 12, 2011

[The Egyptian military defends the country, but it also runs day care centers and beach resorts. Its divisions make television sets, jeeps, washing machines, wooden furniture and olive oil, as well as bottled water under a brand reportedly named after a general's daughter, Safi.

From this vast web of businesses, the military pays no taxes, employs conscripted labor, buys public land on favorable terms and discloses nothing to Parliament or the public.--David D. Kirkpatrick, "Egyptians Say Military Discourages an Open Economy,", February 17, 2011]

[If there is sufficient evidence that such funds were corruptly earned to warrant them being frozen now that dictators are being forced from office, what questions did banks ask of these customers at the point when they were accepted?--"Why is corrupt money in our banks in the first place?,", February 24, 2011]

[A committee of legal experts appointed by the interim government has proposed changes to eight articles of the Egyptian constitution, which will be put to a national referendum next month. The amendments would create new term limits on the presidency, make it easier for Egyptians to run for president, ensure stronger judicial oversight of elections and restrict the government's power to maintain emergency laws - all ahead of a general election expected later this year.--Jack Shenker, "Egypt's generals unveil reform package," Guardian, February 27, 2011]

Aram Roston and David Rhode, "Business Side of Egypt's Army Blurs Lines of Aid From U.S.,", March 5, 2011

[For the past five years, Egypt has been selling gas to its northern neighbors at highly subsidized rates despite facing a shortage of gas at home. This led to an absurd situation last year when the Egyptian government was forced to consider buying back its own gas from Israel at a 600% premium to match the market rate.

The Egyptian military regime, facing a dire financial situation, seems intent on righting this injustice.--Victor Kotsev, "Hidden energy crisis in the Middle East,", March 12, 2011]

[He hopes to succeed Mubarak as Egypt's next president.

Moussa's bid got great fillip by the AL decision Saturday to recommend imposition of a no-fly zone over Libya. His star has risen far above Mohammed ElBaradei's.--M K Bhadrakumar, "African dissent on no-fly zone counts,", March 15, 2011]

Hannah Allam and Mohannad Sabry, "Egyptian army no longer seen as protesters' friend,", April 9, 2011

"The Army vs. The People,", April 12, 2011

Mohannad Sabry, "New Egypt? 7,000 civilians jailed since Mubarak fell,", June 13, 2011

Jack Shenker, "Egypt hit by new wave of protests as military postpones election: Cairo's Tahrir Square again becomes scene of fury as demonstrators accuse army chiefs of betraying the revolution," Guardian, July 13, 2011

David D. Kirkpatrick, "Egypt Military Moves to Cement a Muscular Role in Government,", July 16, 2011

Robert Fisk, "Once untouchable, the old despot and his sons faced the wrath of the nation they had terrorised," Independent, August 4, 2011

Oren Kessler, "Uproar in Egypt as US funnels aid to civil societies,", August 4, 2011

[In Egypt, US and Saudi money has been poured in to suborn it. In Bahrain, conservative Gulf states have been given support to crush the uprising by force. And in Libya, the western powers have attempted to hijack it, while channelling covert support to the brutally repressed opposition in Syria.--Seumas Milne, "Libya's imperial hijacking is a threat to the Arab revolution," Guardian, August 24, 2011]

John Glaser, "Egypt Reactivates Emergency Law After US, Israeli Pressure,", September 12, 2011

Esam Al-Amin, "The Arab Autumn: Three Big Challenges Threatening the Arab Uprisings,", September 17, 2011

David D Kirkpatrick, "Egypt's Military Expands Power, Raising Alarms,", October 14, 2011

Avi Asher-Schapiro, "Crackdown in Cairo, excuses in Washington: As Egyptians return to Tahrir Square, the Obama administration sides with the military,", November 18, 2011

November 19, 2011

"Queues as Egypt votes in first post-Mubarak elections," BBC News, November 28, 2011

Ahdaf Soueif, "Image of unknown woman beaten by Egypt's military echoes around world," Guardian, December 18, 2011

Jeffrey Fleishman, "Islamic scholar casts a skeptical eye on the emerging Egypt," Los Angeles Times, December 30, 2011

[Al-Ahly fans arriving at Port Said's stadium last Wednesday night, were surprised at the lack of security. According to fans who spoke to the Independent on Sunday, none of the supporters was searched for weapons when entering the ground - an almost unprecedented security lapse for a top football match in Egypt.--Alastair Beach, "Was football riot orchestrated to inflame Egypt? Former regime accused of collusion in stadium catastrophe," BBC News, February 5, 2012]

[While Israeli officials have vowed to take legal action to ensure the supply of Egyptian gas, local energy analysts say Egypt was well within its legal rights to opt out of the deal.--Adam Morrow and Khaled Moussa al-Omrani, "Egypt-Israel Gas Issue Becoming Explosive,", May 9, 2012]

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