« profile & posts archive

This author has written 619 posts for Larvatus Prodeo.

Return to: Homepage | Blog Index

162 responses to “Egypt unrest/revolt”

  1. Doug

    This is a much more widespread movement than was evident in China. this has reached a point where there is widespread very public withdrawal of consent to the current regime by the population. Mubarak may not be able to enforce a decision for a crackdown on the military – if he could have done so it would have happened by now you would reckon. Al Jazeera has a good live blog, the Guardian is providing substantial coverage and Robert Fisk is reporting from on the streets of Cairo for the Independent.

  2. Chav

    Care to comment on this Katz and Fran…!?

    ‘Although Mr Mustafa says he there is no ideal candidate to step into the president’s shoes, he is certain there will not be a power void.

    “This man has lied to Egyptians for so long and he’s been scaring them with the idea that if his regime goes the only alternative is the Muslim Brotherhood – and that’s completely wrong,” he said.

    “We know there isn’t enough support from the Egyptian people to do that.

    “There are politicised people, there are perfect leaders for the country. Any of them can takeover or someone new can as well.

    “Egypt is a country with a population of almost 100 million people, mostly educated, so I don’t think it’s going to be a problem finding someone to take over.”‘

    -Australian Egyptian Friendship Association spokesman Omar Mustafa

  3. Sam Bauers

    … the complication of a religious authoritarian movement …

    It seems to me that the Muslim Brotherhood is not that one dimensional. Or am I missing the sarcasm there?

  4. Katz

    Happy to comment Chav.

    Of course it is in Mubarak’s interests to kick the MB can. The MB is why the US has backed him all these decades.

    You seem to imply that I alleged that there was no alternative to the MB in Egypt.

    I never claimed there was no alternative to the MB in Egypt. I claimed there were politically relatively weak alternatives to the MB in Egypt.

    Why you might wish to misrepresent what I actually said is something only you can explain.

    To make my original point crystal clear, I do not think that the MB will win without a struggle against other factions. Rather I believe that the MB will win after successful struggle against other factions.

    The interesting question in my mind is whether and to what extent this victory will be a total victory or whether it will involve compromise.

    The MB has demonstrated discipline and patience over a long period. I’m inclined to believe that they will accept some form of compromise.

    But again, we are talking about the future here. Only a fool would be dogmatic about the future.

    And then this:

    “Egypt is a country with a population of almost 100 million people, mostly educated, so I don’t think it’s going to be a problem finding someone to take over.”‘

    Replace Egypt with Iran and you have a perfect description of Iran in 1979.

  5. Down and Out of Sài Gòn

    Spotlight the Spin (Egypt Edition): Calling Mubarak’s would-be-successor “head of the security apparatus”. I prefer to call him a torturer.

    General Omar Suleiman?—?Hosni Mubarak’s new vice-president and possible replacement as pressure on Mubarak to resign grows?—?tortured Australian Mamdouh Habib, according to Habib’s account about his experience of illegal rendition…

    … Suleiman slapped Habib’s face so hard, the blindfold was dislodged, revealing the torturer’s identity. According to his memoir, Habib was repeatedly zapped with high-voltage electricity, immersed in water up to his nostrils, beaten, his fingers were broken and he was hung from metal hooks.

    He was again interrogated by Omar Suleiman. To loosen Habib’s tongue, Suleiman ordered a guard to murder a gruesomely shackled Turkistan prisoner in front of Habib – and he did, with a vicious karate kick. Suleiman is expected to be the next President of Egypt.

  6. Dr_Tad

    Juan Cole with an excellent analysis of the economic & social roots of the revolution (indicating how it is in part being propelled by the effects of the GFC on Egypt): http://www.juancole.com/2011/01/egypts-class-conflict.html

    Cole makes pretty clear that any quick political fix (even Mubarak’s overthrow) won’t resolve the deep structural problems facing Egypt’s people.

    The excellent socialist blogger Hossam el-Hamalawy’s site: http://www.arabawy.org/

    He’s also interviewed here, giving some good background: http://english.aljazeera.net/indepth/features/2011/01/201112792728200271.html

    Finally, my own take at Left Flank, with useful links to information about the various movements and political currents that have developed over the last two decades in opposition to Mubarak: http://left-flank.blogspot.com/2011/01/revolution-not-in-head-but-on-streets.html

  7. Dr_Tad

    Oh, and from the NY Times a great piece on how secular pan-Arab sentiment is overcoming the influence of more conservative Islamist currents: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/30/world/middleeast/30arab.html

  8. OB

    Sam Bauers:
    Women’s groups in Tunisia have taken to the streets out of fear of the Islamists coming to power. Both they and Egyptian women recognise the danger even if you don’t seem to.

  9. jules

    I feel a bit stupid showing my “face” here after that some things I said in that other thread. Sorry for being a jerk and crapping on your thread Helen. I shouldn’t have lost it like I did.

    Anyway I’m braking a self imposed LP ban (till I learn some politeness) just to post a link too … my blog.

    I’ve been sort of covering this since Wednesday morning – have on online friend from Egypt who I haven’t heard from for a while.

    Its worth a look simply cos there are a lot of good links on there, and honestly I think if you follow those links (mostly twitter feeds from people in Egypt) you’ll get a much clearer picture of whats going on than from many other media sources.

    From my POV it seems this uprising is a genuine grass roots thing, one that may sweep the middle east this year, and alot of the momentum will probably come from secular, leftist groups or ordinary people, tho they certainly won’t be exclusive about it. El baradei and the MB are piggybacking on that to an extent.

    I agree with tigtog about Tienanmen, but .. there was more than just China’s unrest then. Around the same time we saw the fall of the Soviet Union, the people power movements in eastern Europe, and even to a certain extent, rave culture in the west. (It did inspire the Criminal Justice Act 1994 in Britain.)

    John Robb has a pretty good take on whats happening too from his GG pov too.

  10. Katz

    A chant in Egypt put it more bluntly, playing on the longstanding chants of Islamists that “Islam is the solution.” “Tunisia,” they shouted, “is the solution.”

    Dr Tad, is there anything in the NYT article you cite about “how secular pan-Arab sentiment is overcoming the influence of more conservative Islamist currents”, besides the passage quoted above?

    “Challenging” perhaps, but “overcoming”?

  11. Enemy Combatant

    Doug, agree that Mubarek can’t command “his” military with any confidence or he would have reclaimed power by now. Way back when, it was a brave factotum who would have had the courage to say; “Hey Rameses, you’re an idiot to yourself, your family and the great Kingdom of Egypt. The party’s over, pal. Get tf outta here!”. Perhaps a similar factor is at play in Mubi’s fast-shrinking inner circle.

    World’s best practice bestowers of Freedom and Democracy, the US, have changed their tune in the last 48 hours, “our man, Mubarek” cheer squads mystically shape-shifting into to “orderly transition” straight-talkers.
    Advantage ElBaradei.
    The sources you mention are the best coverage of the revolution. Daylight second.
    Some time ago Mubarek was taken on a tour of Aljazzera HQ. His comment afterwards: wtte, What! All this commotion from a match box?
    You’d reckon a reputedly smart operator like Hosni would have pegged Aljazzera for the media IED it was. Hubris seems to be responsible for a great deal of collateral damage to inattentive despots.

    Spot on, Saigon. At last, a Southern Hemisphere connection! Wonder if Mamdouh Habib’s recent settlement with the Oz Govt. prevents Mr. Habib from being interviwed by diligent truth seekers in our msm to verify what Mr. Habib told Richard Neville about the communication skills of Mubarek’s recently tapped vice-president.

  12. Dr_Tad

    Katz, I’ll take “challenging” as a better word. Got a little excited watching the coverage.

    But there’s something to be said about the way that the Islamists have undermined some of their own support in the last decade by offering little alternative to the economic suffering of people beyond their long-established welfare model.

    The bigger problem for secular forces on the Left is to avoid the mistakes that created a space for the rise of Islamism as a key political force over the last 30 years, most disastrously in Iran.

  13. Joseph.Carey

    @12 Dr Tad

    In what way did secular left forces in Iran “create a space for the rise of Islamism…over the last 30 years”?

  14. Nickws

    The bigger problem for secular forces on the Left is to avoid the mistakes that created a space for the rise of Islamism as a key political force over the last 30 years, most disastrously in Iran.

    Just out of curiosity, Dr_Tad, but if you’re talking about an internationalist, cross-borders force when you refer to ‘secular forces on the Left’, and that ideally they should confront an internationalist Islamist movement tendency (albeit one divided between Sunni and Shia at root), then, whither Turkey? Or Indonesia?

    I don’t get why Western progressives should lump all Islamists everywhere into the same basket, particularly on the outside chance that a post-Mubarak coalition might just throw up a Gus Dur type figure onto the scene in the country under discussion.

    New-Atheist-influenced domino theories about Egypt going hardcore Wahhabist? I hope that’s not what we’re looking at here.

    It’s bad enough reading the tory pundits mumbling things about how Mubarak might be our son-of-a-bitch but at least he’s our…

  15. Thomas Paine

    ‘Muslim Brotherhood ‘

    Can’t say that I know anything about them nor have I read here or anywhere a rationale for them being authoritarian or is Muslim synonymous to authoritarian now days.

    Listening to the Muslim Brotherhood guy giving commentary on AJ he went out of his way to state that they had no interest in being involved in government and that they wouldn’t be running any candidates for government.

    Apparently Osama used to be an admirer of them until they changed sometime in the past causing him to dis-admire them.

    Words don’t mean much I know and there is more than one way to influence government and policy. But if they were called the Christian brotherhood nobody would be making any assumptions. I mean we do have that theocratic authoritarian brotherhood of Muslims called Indonesia to prove the point… sarc/

  16. John Passant

    A new union federation has formed and factory councils are defending the revolution and making preparations for a general strike. Looks pretty much to me, if the reports are true and the federation, committees and strike are supported by Egyptian workers, that we actually have the beginning of the formation of new state institutions to smash the old state and transfer power to the working class.

    New union group to call a generals trike in Egypt? http://enpassant.com.au/?p=9239

  17. Down and Out of Sài Gòn

    “Interesting” (ahem) comments by Jimmy Carter, who really should know better:

    Carter told a Sunday school class that he teaches that the unrest is “the most profound situation in the Middle East” since he left office in 1981. He said he thinks the unrest will ease in the next week, but his “guess is Mubarak will have to leave.”

    … “The United States wants Mubarak to stay in power, but the people have decided,” Carter said…

    Mubarak has appointed Omar Suleiman, the country’s intelligence chief, as vice president. “He’s an intelligent man whom I like very much,” Carter said of Suleiman, with whom he says he has maintained a relationship.

    “In the last four or five years when I go to Egypt, I don’t go to talk to Mubarak, who talks like a politician,” Carter said. “If I want to know what is going on in the Middle East, I talk to Suleiman. And as far as I know, he has always told me the truth.

    Meet the new boss, same as the old boss, Jimmy?

  18. sg

    I don’t think that LA times article is nuanced or informative. It’s a bunch of nasty rumour and innuendo couched in very leading phrases. Classic attack journalism, that somehow turns an open statement of intent to win power through fair elections as a sinister sign of authoritarianism.

  19. Michael

    Hamas in Gaza must be pinching themselves.

  20. Andrew E

    I don’t agree that the religious organisations are waiting to take over, they’re playing catch-up. More …

  21. dylwah

    something lighter, from the mouths of babes

  22. weaver

    There was a time when the Muslim Brotherhood was a threat to democracy and freedom in the Middle East, but they haven’t been a proxy of British and American imperialism for decades.

  23. harleymc

    I suspect the military are very divided. The careerists are tied to the regime as the arrests by the military of Al Jazeera journalists and the reports of the military firing on demonstrators in the smaller Egyptian cities indicates. However many in the military are conscripts. It is hard to see how conscripts are likely to fire on their own families and friends and it creates a space where arms will flow to the people.
    If the military don’t tap Mubarak on the shoulder soon then the death toll currently reported to be between 100 and 200 will certainly skyrocket to the of thousands as the citizens come into conflict with the professional soldiers.
    Let’s not get too carried away with the idea that there will be democratic forms of government after this has blown over, the last 4 Egyptian Presidents have been military men.

  24. Nana Levu

    Pepe Escobar of Asia Times has a pieceon Egypt http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/MB01Ak02.html

  25. sg

    come on tigtog, check this out:

    “They don’t want to appear as if they’re using this revolt to seize power,” said Wahid Abdul Magid, an analyst at the Al Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies in Cairo. “What they want is free and fair elections to allow them to take power transparently. This would show their real popularity in the Egyptian street.”

    How come nobody says that about the ALP or the liberal party? And right after they have a quote from someone saying “Egypt doesn’t belong to any one group.” It’s gutter journalism at its best, trading on fears of islamic fundamentalism in place of actual reporting.

  26. Helen

    Jules @10, no worries. I’ll just repost this in case it’s useful to anyone:

    From Jaded16india.tumblr.com:

    If you know anyone in Egypt, please pass this on to them. To bypass government blocking of websites, use numerical IP addresses: Twitter ”” Fb ”” Google ””. A French ISP offers free dial up internet access ~ +33 1 72 89 01 50 Login password: toto. Please pass this on and share.

    Original post: http://carpe-cerevisi.tumblr.com/post/2997278764/if-you-know-anyone-in-egypt

  27. Dr_Tad

    Joseph.Carey @14

    The secular Left in Iran, especially around the Communist Party which had deep roots inside the very radical workers’ movement at the time, didn’t see the overthrow of Iranian capitalism as being on the agenda and instead sought to accomodate more conservative forces in the interests of a post-Shah “national unity” in 1979. They literally had a theory that Iran had to go through a stage of capitalist development after becoming independent of the United States, before anything more radical was on the agenda. They even sowed illusions that the Islamists could be part of such a “progressive” alliance.

    This gave Khomeini and the mullahs — an influential anti-Shah force but not a hegemonic one — more ground on which to argue that workers’ councils (Shorahs) and workers’ self-management of businesses — should be wound down. The Islamists argued that the Left was against national unity, and argument which they had no consistent response to.

    Over a period of time the mullahs were able to witch-hunt the Left for undermining the revolution, with the repression being completed on grounds of national interest once the war with Iraq began.

    There are certainly prominent socialists in Egypt today who have taken on board those lessons. Dealing with the MB is neither a matter of sectarian denunciation nor whitewashing their political limitations.

  28. Dr_Tad

    Nickws @15

    I certainly don’t lump all Islamists together. But the failures of the secular socialist Left in the Middle East — in its nationalist and Stalinist forms — did create a space for other political forces to occupy. In many places these have been Islamist groupings and networks, with a wide range of politics and often quite hostile to each other.

    I think the late Chris Harman’s “The Prophet & The Proletariat” (1994) remains the best statement on the question from a Marxist perspective and should be required reading for the Left today: http://marxists.org/archive/harman/1994/xx/islam.htm

    Once the initial success of a revolution in bringing down a dictator or pushing back United States influence happens, a greater struggle inside the revolutionary process develops as to what sort of ideas and strategies will take things forward. My political hostility to Islamism as a political movement (pretty much all significant versions of it) is that it wants to find a solution that leaves capitalism intact, the same system that has left the workers and poor of Egypt in such dire economic straits over the last 20 years (especially since the GFC).

  29. dylwah

    Dr Tad – Chris Harman died!!! i missed that, sad now.

  30. Katz

    A particularly filthy piece of Zionist realpolitik:

    Israel has told its diplomats in the United States, Europe and elsewhere to encourage their host nations to support the regime of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, daily Haaretz reported Monday.

    The newspaper said Israel’s foreign ministry told its diplomats to stress that it is in “the interest of the West” and of “the entire Middle East to maintain the stability of the regime in Egypt.”

    Shorter Zionism: the freedom of the world must be sacrificed to the convenience of the Zionist Entity.

  31. su

    The message is mixed – Netanyahu has banned his government from commenting publcly on the situation, but has diplomats urging international support for Mubarek. Israel has agreed to allow Egyptian army batallions on the Sinai peninsula but that army is reportedly promising it will not use force on the protestors.

  32. MikeM

    Just in, at The Washington Post:

    Though they surprised many in Washington – including the Obama administration – the Jan. 25 demonstrations that touched off Egypt’s rebellion were anything but spontaneous. They were carefully organized by an opposition coalition, led by the April 6 movement – a secular organization dominated by young people. The movement originated three years ago, when it organized a day of protests and strikes; its Facebook group has nearly 90,000 members. April 6 is one of several broad secular coalitions that formed in recent years to promote democracy in Egypt. Another, led by former U.N. nuclear energy official Mohamed ElBaradei, has more than 240,000 Facebook members.

    Over the weekend, most of the secular opposition groups and the banned Muslim Brotherhood met to form a joint platform. They called for Tuesday’s mass demonstration and worked toward consensus on a platform. This likely will call for a transitional government, possibly headed by Mr. ElBaradei, which would lift political restrictions and lay the groundwork for free and fair elections. The coalition contains business owners, former members of parliament and defectors from the regime, and it has the capacity to oversee a political transition.

    I’m surprised there has been no previous mention of El Baradei in this thread.

  33. Michael

    Israel will lamenting the passing of Mubarak even more than the US…..and almost as much as Saudi Arabia.

  34. sg

    tigtog, the passage I quoted is implying totalitarianism, not authoritarianism. It implies that the Muslim Brotherhood want to steal government, without quite stating openly that their plan to “steal” government is to win free and fair elections. Under that plan one could accuse any political party in Australia of wanting to “steal” government, but funnily enough we don’t.

    If you want to claim the MB for religious authoritarians fine, but you haven’t helped your case by backing it up with a piece of shoddy attack journalism that accuses them of totalitarianism.

    Dr_Tad, are you confusing the “secular left” with the “communist left”? The theories you describe sound like the seasoned fantasies of marxist-leninists and/or national liberation leftists, not the kinds of people one might think of as the modern secular left. Presumably, as is always the case with marxist-leninist “revolutionaries,” their analysis of what stages of development the Iranian people had to proceed through had more to do with the Soviet Union’s geopolitical interests than anything else.

  35. jules

    El Baradei is a bit of a blow in.

    Even when he was in Tharir sq wetting water cannoned people were saying the only talk about him was coming from foreign media.

    I find it funny to watch the media struggling to deal with what is essentially a leaderless movement. Its so far outside the box these things are usually presented in, that even now people are struggling to unpack and process whats happening. There are political commentators in the Aust’n media – champions of democracy in Iraq – suggesting that democracy might not be all that great after all at the moment.

    I don’t think the Muslim Brotherhood is an issue, or even a real power right now. That may change in a week, but at the moment this seems like an Egyptian movement, not a religious one. My feeling is (and it can only be a “feeling” – no one can know what will happen at this point) that religion is a lot less important in Egypt right now.

    It was less than 4 weeks ago that Muslims and secular Egyptians turned out in numbers at the Coptic Christmas services to act as “human shields” following the Coptic church bombing around New Year. That was a powerful thing to do and it seems to have cemented the idea that people are Egyptian first and everything else second in the populace. It probably played a bigger role in this uprising than people have realised yet.

  36. Dr_Tad
  37. Sam

    Katz @34, it’s not very realpolitik of the Israelis to be backing a sure loser. Mubarak is dead meat.

  38. Nickws

    @ 32: I certainly don’t lump all Islamists together.

    I haven’t read eveything you have to say on the subject here, I just got the impression that becuase they were on the wrong side of the historical dialectic then they didn’t merit fair attention…

    Dr_Tad, with all sue respect, but your old Anglo Marxist critique of the supposed proletarians and capitalists of Eqypt, while it makes for interesting nostalagia for the era when we could transpose our own political desires on the folk of the developing world (the pre-Said era, I suppose) it does seem rather off topic RE contemporary Egypt.

  39. Enemy Combatant

    [email protected]:

    There is mention of El Baradei at comments 10 and 12. I think the second para from WaPo in your link proposes a viable, short term bloodless solution, ie. an interim potpourri govt. followed by UN supervised elections later this year. Mubarek must come to terms with the untenable position in which he and his henchpersons find themselves. Marcos got it, eventually. Ceausescu didn’t.

    The Tiannamin Square Option is becoming less likely by the day for the desperate military dictator. From the clips I’ve seen of crowd turret-dancing and barrel-straddling, the tankies are unlikely to waste their own on the streets of Cairo. Shutting down the Egyptian inet was a declaration of Mubarek’s authoritarian impotence. In the concrete corridors of Cairo nothing stifles the vox populi. On the former flood plains of an ancient land, the juveniles of Egypt have at last found their delta.

  40. Dr_Tad

    Nickws @32

    “Nostalgia”? I’d suggest the industrialisation and urbanisation of Egypt over the last 30 years have made Marxist class analysis of what is happening even more useful. Not only is the working class bigger in Egypt than ever before, not only has class polarisation sharpened, but the last 10 years have seen substantial and militant workers’ struggles that have destabilised the regime and which have the potential of feeding into current events.

  41. Dr_Tad

    Hilarious, Alan Kohler has just put up a piece at Business Spectator called “The economic roots of revolution”.

  42. Geoff Robinson

    Me on Pew Center research on Egyptian public democracy that shows strong Muslim support for democracy: http://bit.ly/ecD5A2

  43. Michael

    Well, there is no denying that rising food prices play a part in people’s anger, but calling it a “root” cause trivilises the discontent.

    Demographic factors are a little more like a root cause; between 1996 and 2006, the 16-45 age group had the largest absolute increase in Egypt – by 7 million.

  44. Katz

    Katz @34, it’s not very realpolitik of the Israelis to be backing a sure loser. Mubarak is dead meat.

    Cynicism, not intelligence, is the marker of realpolitik.

  45. Enemy Combatant

    Seventy million Egyptians have already made reservations.

    On the battered and increasingly sparse grass in the centre of the square, someone had pitched a tent with a sign saying, in Arabic and English, “Freedom Motel”


  46. dk.au

    Hilarious, Alan Kohler has just put up a piece at Business Spectator called “The economic roots of revolution”.

    Kohler’s ignorance of the role of neoliberal policies in destabilizing food supply in Egypt and the middle east is painful, but unsurprising

  47. Chav


    “There is widespread exaggeration about the role of the Brotherhood in Egyptian society, and I think these demonstrations have exposed that,” said Khalil al-Anani, an expert on Egypt’s political Islamists at Durham University. “At first the movement showed little interest in the protests and announced they weren’t going to participate; later they were overtaken by events and forced to get involved or risk losing all credibility.”


  48. Chav


    Friday February 4th, 5:30pm
    State Library Melbourne

    March to Parliament

    Please join us in solidarity with the Egyptian People in the demand of freedom.

    The Australian Government needs to issue a strong statement to support the human rights of the Egyptian people.

    For more details please contact Mohamed Elmasri 04 1312 7595
    or Hagger Mahmoud on 04 5090 8264


  49. Doug

    Army seems to be declaring a hands off approach which signals that they are not going to take the chinese option to support Mubarak.

    Egypt’s army said it ‘will not resort to use of force against our great people’. Photograph: Yannis Behrakis/Reuters

    Egypt’s army gave a powerful boost to the country’s opposition last night by announcing that it would not use force to silence “legitimate” demands for democratic reforms in the Arab world’s largest nation.

  50. Michael


    “There is widespread exaggeration about the role of the Brotherhood in Egyptian society, and I think these demonstrations have exposed that,” said Khalil al-Anani, an expert on Egypt’s political Islamists at Durham University.

    Not so sure Chav.

    There’s a lot of variability in the MB. The so called ‘4th Generation’ have been very critical of the lack of engagement amongst the leaders and elders of the MB. And while the offical position was to sit and wait, in the aftermath of the Dec 5 elections, some sections of the MB were loudly and publicly calling for the organisation to ‘take to the streets’.

    Whatever moves towards open elections occur, counter to US hopes, the US has already had a dry run at dealing with such a scenario, though it’s likely to find it a much tougher task than dealing with Hamas in the Palestinian Territories.

  51. jules

    The latest reports are that there are over a million people in Tahrir sq, of all ages, backgrounds etc etc
    Sultan Al Qassemi tweeting some comments from Essam El Erian.
    Here’s attributed quotes:
    “We refuse to talk to Mubarak or Suleiman. We demand a new constitution”
    “By the power of the people Mubarak & his govt’s legitimacy is now finished. The Supreme Judge should assume presidency”
    “A temporary govt must be formed until elections take place. This regime & the parliament have no legitimacy”
    “A Coalition govt will steer the country for the time being. The people have voided the govt’s legitimacy”
    “The Supreme Judge of the High Constitutional Court must temporarily assume the duties of the president”

    Thats the first I have heard from them really. He said that after Turkey’s president called on Mubarak to step down. I don’t think they are leading this movement.
    There’s already a move to draft a new constitution. They just want in I think.

    The mood from people in the square is the most positive yet, some people seem to be certain of the change, and that is a very powerful thing.

  52. Patrickb

    Katz appears to be falling for the “history repeats itself” fallacy what with the references to 1979 and all. The MB have been patient and have played by some very secular rules and this uprising, at first blush, doesn’t appear to have the strong anti-US strain so relied upon by Islamic fundamentalists (see Iran 1979). I’d be surprised if we see an Egyptian Islamic state any time soon. Surprised and very worried.

  53. jo

    well, they certainly have a snazzy english website.
    and our julian featuring of course.
    two out of two.


    an interesting read.

  54. Katz

    Patrickb, as I have said more than once, I’m making no firm predictions. Only an idiot would do that.

    I also recognise that the MB are very different from the Iranian islamists of 1979 and later. Their anti-Americanism is much less demonstrative. For example, I have seen no American flags burned so far.

    However, it is also true to say that all interested parties are looking over their shoulders at the MB. For example, Mubarak has offered to govern until November 2011. Several people interviewed on the BBC thought that was a good idea to prevent the MB from “hijacking” the revolution.

    Thus, Mubarak is using the MB as a lever to pry apart the current unity of the admittedly inchoate protest movement. And at least some folks who want to see the back of Mubarak are inclined to listen to him.

    And interestingly, many Egyptians explicitly cite the “lessons” of the Iranian revolution and are conducting their affairs to prevent a similar result.

    Thus, for a force that is allegedly inconsequential, the MB is occupying the minds of a surprising number of people.

  55. Michael

    Does anyone really beleive that the MB is ‘inconsequential’? They are the largest political organisation in Egypt and when election rigging was reduced to moderate levels, they won 25% of the seats in Parliamentary elections.

  56. Katz

    I agree Michael. To an extent we are playing with the nuances of language. Clearly the influence of the MB rests somewhere along the continuum between unstoppable and utterly trivial.

    Clearly the MB are neither unstoppable nor are they trivial. I would argue that the MB are the major force. Others argue that they are just one of several important forces.

    You are right. It is unproductive to verbal other folks as defenders of positions that they do not actually hold.

  57. Dr_Tad

    I think Slavoj Zizek, back in form after his recent spate of dog-whistling around multiculturalism, nails the issues around Islamism well.

    The problem with liberal democratic anxiety around Islamism is that the introduction of a liberal democratic regime in Egypt would, while providing some welcome increase in political rights, do little to solve the deep social and economic polarisation in that country. In the longer term its failure to resolve those questions would provide a space for the Islamists to pose as a social alternative, and they indeed have a long record of doing so through their focus on social justice and networks of elite-sponsored charity (however limited such a solution would be).

    The only thing that can save the ideals of liberal democracy (liberty, equality, fraternity) in this kind of situation is the struggle for a new social system, not a continuation of neoliberal (or even some mythical social democratic) capitalism. That’s the question that will come on the agenda more starkly once Mubarak is gone.

  58. akn

    Thanks Dr-T: excellent and considered article lnked above.

  59. Enemy Combatant
  60. Katz

    Thanks for the excellent link, Dr T.

    The key point:

    In order for the key liberal legacy to survive, liberals need the fraternal help of the radical left.

    But of course, as Zizek reminds us, the one constant of liberals (who are, according to Zizek, breathtakingly hypocritical) in their political interference in the Third World is their support of deeply illiberal social, political and economic arrangements. One can only conclude that Zizek believes that liberals will abjure the necessary assistance of the radical left even at the cost of the defeat of the revolution.

    Moreover, Zizek asks a very pertinent question: whatever happened to secular radicalism in the Islamic world? Zizek answers his own question: it used to exist but then it disappeared. In its place arose militant islamism.

    If you put those two parts of Zizek’s argument together, then liberals must accept the fraternal help of islamist, even militantly islamist, groups.

    Zizek’s unspoken conclusion is that liberals must undergo a fundamental change of heart before they are willing to accept that fraternal help. And how likely is that?

  61. akn

    Nil chance Katz. Remember that the Iranian revolution that led to the fall of the Shah was followed by the Islamist counter-revolution which the US supported in preference to even the possibility of social democratic government.

    The US has propped up Mubarak against the bogey of Islamist extremism (the MB) however the US is at least equally concerned about the devlopment of a democratic secular regimes in Arab nations as it is about the devlopment of Islamist governments. Possibly more so because of the legitimacy that accrues to democratic governments setting in place social justice measures. Harder to bomb into submission, really, and less likely to ‘render’ US victims of torture.

  62. Katz

    Harder to bomb into submission, really, and less likely to ‘render’ US victims of torture.

    I agree AKN, unless you are talking about John Howard, who not only allowed the rendition of Mamdouh Habib to Egypt, but also allowed ASIO agents to participate in his torture.

    BTW, perhaps when the records of Egypt’s secret police are made public, as often happens in the wake of regime change of the order we are witnessing in Egypt, we may find out more about John Howard, torture enabler.

  63. Down and Out of Sài Gòn

    Mubarak: dead man walking.

    The Egyptian army made clear late Monday afternoon Cairo time that it would not repress peaceful demonstrations. A spokesman read out a statement on television: The military said it was fanning out through the streets to prevent looting and acts of sabotage. It said that the military recognized the legitimacy of the demands of the people and of the demonstrators who are asking for vast political and social adjustments. It said it would “never resort to the use of force against this great people.”

    Meanwhile, the newly appointed vice president, Omar Suleiman of military intelligence, offered to open negotiations with the demonstrators.

    Some analysts are interpreting these statements as a two-pronged strategy. But I wonder if they do not point to a split in the security forces. Suleiman is from military intelligence, not the regular army. The new prime minister, Ahmad Shafiq, is an officer from the relatively elite and pampered air force (like Mubarak himself).

    The statement about not using force on the people came from the regular army, which is made up of a combination of staff officers and thousands of conscripts. Army chief of staff Lt. Gen. Sami Anan (Enan) may have decided to preserve the unity of his branch of the armed forces, the closest to the people, by throwing the other three under the bus.

  64. jules

    Dr_T you might be interested to know that about 3 or 4 days ago, when he was still available, Hossam El H(#3arabawy if you want to find his tweets), was reporting on a factory that had gone on strike, and that the workers were in the process of “taking over”. Can’t remember the details now cos so much has happened since, but it stood out and was easy to remember. I think he may have reported hearing similar things from other factories too.

    He seems to be one of the “leaders” in a fairly leaderless movement.

    Its fascinating to watch people in the media spluttering as people act in ways that are really outside the ability of many to comprehend. I love that in Tahrir sq reports were that people were not only organising rubbish collection, they were recycling. That there were makeshift medical clinics set up and people were organising food and water distribution.

    Mubarak is basically irrelevant now. People are starting to provide govt services for themselves. IT started with security in response to the Govt looters (not ordinary Egytians despite what you hear on the news etc) and seems to be progressing.

    Last nite news was that in desperation security forces are staging Pro Mubarak rallies in civvies and attacking the anti Mubarak protesters. They weren’t responding and the army was stepping in to protect them. There goes Mubaraks last ploy – that he is needed to keep the peace. If Obama had any real respect for the Egyptian people he would have said “Hosni you have to leave now, and turn the goddamn internet back on before you go.”

    But he didn’t. What a let down, you can tell which side he is on (the losing one.)

    Whats happening there is actually amazing, organisation without (too much) authority. I have anarchist friends who are watching whats happening and wetting themselves with delight.

    This is a great little article written for the US media. Its a guide for media pundits apparently. Pretty funny and spot on.

  65. akn

    Quite right Katz.

  66. j_p_z

    “…the fall of the Shah was followed by the Islamist counter-revolution which the US supported in preference to even the possibility of social democratic government.”

    1979 —> Cold War still exists. Left-leaning Iran regime risk of falling into Soviet orbit? I’m guessing US no like. To the Iranians the fall of the Shah would of course look like a life or death matter; to the US and Soviets at the time, however, it probably looked more like “pawn to queen’s bishop 7, check.”

    2011 —> Cold War no longer exists; things are very different.

    But I think the Egyptians are most likely to work it all out themselves, and not care too much what the US thinks, which has limited options available anyway.

  67. Michael

    I ‘m pretty sure the US will be looking at the Hamas-option; ie apply as much economic/political pressure as it can to make sure that Egyptians don’t make the ‘wrong’ democratic choice.

  68. akn

    Well, yes jpz the fall of the Shah was a life and death matter to Iranians all too experienced withthe activities of SAVAK just as much as the fall of Mubarak is now a matter of life and death to the families of the appx 300 deceased so far in Egypt. The offical cold war may be over but that has not diminished the USA’s tendency towards psychotic, delusional beliefs and foreign policies built thereon. NB: see the documentary film Dr Strangelove for evidence.

  69. adrian

    Great link, jules. The points could be applied to quite a few countries, not only Egypt.

  70. Enemy Combatant

    D’accord akn @ 56.

    Katz, irony and schadenfreude abound at the possibility of a new Egyptian Govt. green-lighting FOI access to documentary evidence of state-sanctioned rendition and torture by Mubarek’s mob. I assume a stfu-clause was integral to Mr. Habib’s recent pay-out/settlement from the Oz Govt.

    The clear and present possibility that information on “who was in the room” while Mr. Habib was exchanging pleasantries with the Egyptian Stasi’s No.1 cardholder and now vice pres, Mr.Sulieman, could well give pause to El Rodente and a senior ASIO spook or two.

  71. Robert Bollard

    The clear and present possibility that information on “who was in the room” while Mr. Habib was exchanging pleasantries with the Egyptian Stasi’s No.1 cardholder and now vice pres, Mr.Sulieman, could well give pause to El Rodente and a senior ASIO spook or two.

    The prospect is lip smapcking indeed but would require the revolution going a fair way, certainly longer than what appears to be the current Obama administration’s preferred option of a palace coup installing the delightful Mr. Suleiman as a replacement for Mubarak. (They could install a few interrogation chambers onto the Presidential Palace so he could keep his hand in – it’s always good to have a hobby.)
    The fact that Suleiman is also supposed to be the “candidate of the army” concerns me in this regard. Still, as an old Trot I am well versed in the delicious mischief a revolutionary regime can cause by publishing this sort of stuff (secret treaties anyone?). Wikileaks ain’t in it!

  72. j_p_z

    “see the documentary film Dr Strangelove for evidence.”

    Yes, v. true. Always trust geo-political content from Terry Southern!

  73. Katz

    Remember when the Iranian Revolutionary Guard re-assembled all those US shredded documents in 1979?

    Every time I use a shredder these days I think of all those assiduous young women in black veils reassembling US state secrets.

    Then again, turnaround is fair play. The Mitrokhin Archives revealed that most of the leadership of Iran’s Tudeh Party were agents of various Soviet agencies.

    Khomeini’s torturers and hangmen were particularly busy in the light of Mitrokhin’s interesting revelations.

    I don’t recall either the CIA or MI6 bemoaning the inhuman effects of breaches of security in those cases. I suppose Wikileaks has forced these hard-hearted folk to be more empathetic.

  74. sg

    I read that Habib has already identified Suleiman as one of his torturers.

  75. Enemy Combatant

    Hearsay, sg. Documentary evidence has a little more clout in the courts of The Hague. Habib told Richard Neville about Suleiman’s role. Neville details Habib’s view of events in his book about Habib.

  76. sg

    Haha, “The Courts of the Hague.” Wouldn’t that be a grand sight…

  77. sg

    Incidentally, here’s two amusing moments from the Guardian’s horrible blog-style coverage of the events in Egypt. First, at 8:03am UK Time:

    Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh has done a Mubarak, by saying he won’t seek to extend his presidency.

    Eyeing protests that brought down Tunisia’s leader and threaten to topple Egypt’s president, Saleh also vowed not to pass on the reins of government to his son, Reuters reports.

    “No extension, no inheritance, no resetting the clock,” Saleh said, speaking ahead of a planned rally in Sanaa today that has been dubbed a “Day of rage”.

    but then, buried at the bottom of the page, just so that we can all remember just how much good he did in the world, this sentence about Bush’s poodle:

    Not everyone is calling for Mubarak to stand down now. Speaking to CNN Tony Blair described him as “immensely courageous and a force for good”.

  78. Michael

    Oh Tones!!!!

    Still clueless after all these years.

  79. dj

    Yeah sg, that line of Blair’s made me throw up a little in my mouth.

  80. Enemy Combatant

    Indeed it would. A longshot?, sure. But not entirely out the question. A few months ago many an instant pundit and eminence grise would have suggested that “you’d hafta be crackers” or that “one harboured a scant regard for reality” if someone correctly predicted recent developments in MENA.

  81. FDB

    “I think Slavoj Zizek, back in form after his recent spate of dog-whistling around multiculturalism, nails the issues around Islamism well.

    The problem with liberal democratic anxiety around Islamism”

    The word you’re repeatedly near-missing here is is ‘about’, Dr Tad.

    Amirite or amirite, Dr Cat?

  82. adrian

    Yes, but ‘around’ is becoming a substitute for ‘about’ all over the place. A certain ABC radio announcer uses it about 456 times every morning and it drives me around the bend.

  83. Katz

    Pro-Mubarak mob attacks anti-Mubarak protesters.

    Wednesday, Feb 02, 2011

    CAIRO (AFP)–Partisans of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak stormed the Cairo stronghold of anti-regime protesters Wednesday, sparking bloody clashes in which hundreds were injured and a soldier reportedly was killed.

    It’s clear that Mubarak does not intend to go quietly and quickly. Interestingly, it seems, major elements of the Army supported these pro-Mubarak civilians.

    The linked article indicates that this assault was carefully planned and co-ordinated. There was even a cavalry charge of horses and camels! (Shades of wild-eyed Bedu wielding scimitars!)

    If the protest movement wants to fight back (and I think that if they want success on their terms they’ll have to) the movement will need a counter-force.

    I am unaware of any credible counter-force with a comparable level of organisation and national co-ordination except the MB, if indeed they choose this opportunity to get involved.

    But will the secularist protestors wish to associate themselves with the MB?

    This is the first great crisis of the uprising.

  84. FDB

    Adrian – join me in the rearguard action then. Don’t just let it pass!

  85. Michael

    Plan B seems to be up and running – maintain the regime but accept a change in the presidency and some vague electoral refomr.

    The US is on board.

    Now I think they are just trying to outwait the protests.

  86. Enemy Combatant

    But will the secularist protestors wish to associate themselves with the MB?

    Should know the answer to that after Friday prayers. Either secularists will assemble shoulder-to-shoulder in Tehrir Square alongside MBs in the mother of all demonstrataions OR disparate bands of the divided and ruled will be hosed, bludgeoned and bashed from the streets.

    ElBaradei isn’t prepared to lead from the front in this crisis. A pinch-hitting leader prepared to put his life on the line for his people would focus their efforts on the crucial task of deposing Mubarek and his circle.

    The police are rusted on to the present regime. The Army, subsided mightily by Uncle Sam, are the key. Top brass have grown acustomed to the bucksheeh and resultant prestige. Lower ranks are reticent to murder their fellow Eygptians.


  87. Fran Barlow

    katz said:

    If the protest movement wants to fight back (and I think that if they want success on their terms they’ll have to) the movement will need a counter-force. […] But will the secularist protestors wish to associate themselves with the MB?

    It would be perfectly rational for them to do so. The Mubarakistas are the 2011 equivalent of a [email protected] mob and those claiming sovereignty against the regime are entitled to disperse the mob using whatever force may be required and can be assembled. Really, they should test the solidarity of the army calling upon them to stand with the people against the mob in order toclarify the position of the army leadership.

  88. Dr_Tad

    I feel the need to point out that there’s a difference between “secular” and “secularist” protesters here. Of the latter I’d say there aren’t many, but the former include many people who are religious and/or have voted for the MB at some time or another. It’s been a “secular” upsrising because it hasn’t seen its task as fighting around religiously based demands.

    The unity of MB members, MB supporters and others is thus not as difficult to achieve as one might think.

    I think people are right to say that breaking the army (along class lines) will be the key to bringing down the regime. The violence yesterday, while horrific, was relatively small-scale precisely because the military chiefs don’t feel confident to try to mobilise the army against the protesters. Given the army’s social base this should not be a surprise. In addition, it seems clear the revolution beat it off successfully. Lessons will be learned from these events going into Friday’s protests.

    I’m not saying the outcome is predetermined, but the reports onthe ground suggest that Mubarak still has great reason to worry his days are numbered in single digits. That’s why this article seems overly pessimistic to me.

  89. Katz

    Reading between the lines, there does appear to be a hiatus between Egypt’s conscripted other ranks and its professional and doubtless regime-approved officer cadre.

    Officers know that the first time soldiers refuse to obey their orders is the last time they’ll ever have authority.

    Doubtless, there is feverish politicking going on in the barracks of these soldiers. And doubtless, there is much thought about how to get the less dependable units away from the action and the more dependable units into the action.

    Doubtless folks on the spot can pick the difference between a company of friendly conscripts and a phalanx of stony-faced tools of the regime.

  90. Lefty E

    NOAM CHOMSKY: Well, Obama very carefully didn’t say anything. Mubarak would agree that there should be an orderly transition, but to what? A new cabinet, some minor rearrangement of the constitutional order—it’s empty. So he’s doing what U.S. leaders regularly do. As I said, there is a playbook: whenever a favored dictator is in trouble, try to sustain him, hold on; if at some point it becomes impossible, switch sides.


  91. sublime cowgirl

    Beck and O’Reilly clash over Egypt intervention like watching John Laws and Alan Jones fighting:


  92. Ambigulous

    PM Gillard now says that a political transition in Egypt should occur immediately.

  93. Joseph.Carey

    Sorry to be a killjoy, but truth is I’ve abseiled down the side of waterfalls into deep canyons, sailed the high seas in cyclones, parachuted into jungles, jumped off the roof at home when I was seven, swung on ropes from one tree to another through the bush, swum naked in the ocean during a super cell storm, ridden an out-of-control horse bareback in 40 degree heat in stone country and never once been hurt the least little bit.

    I was hit by a car when I was eight when running across the Pacific Highway to get to the beach, but the Volkswagen was more badly damaged – smashed hood – than me. That is all.

  94. Joseph.Carey

    oh dear, how gross. This was supposed to be on disaster humour thread.

  95. Casey

    So you say. Superman. The truth is rather more murky don’t you think? For starters there’s no kryptonite in Egypt, so there is no reason for you to linger here. Ride bareback like the wind for there be trouble brewing in the ancient city and they need all the preternatural ability they can get.

  96. sg

    The Guardian is reporting that the army at Tahrir square have told the pro-Mubarak mob where to go, and the “Battle of Tahrir Square” is over. They’re also saying that a retired General has stated publicly that the army have decided to intervene against the pro-Mubarak forces that by tomorrow Mubarak will be gone.

    Protesters in Sanaa, Yemen are demanding the immediate resignation of their president, not a delay to 2013.

    Wouldn’t it be cute if there were a domino effect of democracy in the Middle East that was not predicted by the US or Israel?

  97. Joseph.Carey

    @99 It’s not a Superman we need. But lots of feckless fearless people like me.

    “Freedom lies behind a door, closed shut.
    It can only be knocked down with a bleeding fist.”

    — Egyptian Poet-Laureate Ahmad Shawqi (1869-1932)

  98. CRAIGY

    Gee JC
    That sounds like “violent political rhetoric “to me.

  99. dylwah

    CRAIGY @ 102 – or a tarantino movie, no wait that was a coffin . . . and a training montage. And there is me thinking he was raiding the Japanese.

  100. CRAIGY

    [email protected]

    Ya lost me?

  101. dylwah

    Kill Bill CRAIGY

  102. dylwah

    But that wan’t why i came by.

    If the MB are the most organised factor in Egypt after the army then all this violence is going to do is play into their hands, it will make them stronger, barring some truly Pharonic deed, think early Exodus, that is.

    So the very last thing that this USonian client does is provide a boost to the very islamists that have set the instapundentariat frothing at the mouth. Value for money investment.

  103. patrickm

    LeftyE @94; thank you for posting the link to the non arguments put by Chomsky. Policy reversal regarding the ME by GWB?! What policy reversal? It’s all just the same as it ever was, same as it ever was… repeat to fade out. I systematically pulled this junk from Chomsky apart back in 2005. Then used the essay like a six inch nail to drive the point home with some of your US anti war mates at the rrr-revolutionary church of Kasama back in June 2008
    (post 6). That’s the very detailed thread where you will find (at post 37)

    All talk of empire in the 21c is crap. The realists who opposed liberating the Iraqi masses can’t bring stability back to the Middle East because a revolution is unfolding. They will not be able to step in and save their old ally Mubarak when the bourgeois infection spreads from the emergent Palestinian state and they can’t stop that state from emerging.


    How long do Kasama people think that Jordan and Egypt will last when all round them free and fair elections produce the government? How long can the Iranian theocracy cling to power? With oil at $142, both them and the Saudi autocrats etc have a lot of cash to splash about and buy off their peoples; but still people want the right to ride at the front of the bus!

    The truth is that as Egypt goes so goes the region and Mubarak is reliant on ever greater levels of brutality and electoral corruption, when the world is entering a period of massive economic dislocation that will hit the masses in a country like Egypt very hard. If revolutionaries were looking around the world for a country with a regime that was vulnerable to mass mobilisation of the peoples would not Egypt in the context of the emerging Palestinian democracy be a leading contender?

    So that’s what I have been thinking for quite some years.

    What precisely is it that Chomsky is saying that you wanted to bring to peoples attention? Or is this just an offering to like minded believers from the church of nothing ever changes?

  104. FDB

    Patrickm – you are making very little sense.

    An improvement, really, but still…

  105. jules

    A ranting sandmonkey said:

    Now, just in case this isn’t clear: This protest is not one made or sustained by the Muslim Brotherhood, it’s one that had people from all social classes and religious background in Egypt. The Muslim Brotherhood only showed up on Tuesday, and even then they were not the majority of people there by a long shot. We tolerated them there since we won’t say no to fellow Egyptians who wanted to stand with us, but neither the Muslims Brotherhood not any of the Opposition leaders have the ability to turn out one tenth of the numbers of Protesters that were in Tahrir on Tuesday. This is a revolution without leaders. Three Million individuals choosing hope instead of fear and braving death on hourly basis to keep their dream of freedom alive. Imagine that.

    I don’t think the Muslim Brotherhood is the most organised group in Egypt at the moment, – it seems as tho ordinary Egyptians are. The regime is fairly together too, tho predictable. It the open source thing happening. If its a simple goal and everyone is involved then good ideas will spread.

    Btw payback is a beautiful thing sometimes. The guys holding hands are Coptic Christians in Tahrir sq recently.

    Actually FDB I think patrickm is talking a bit of sense.

    I’m half expecting 2011 to be the year of uprisings, tho they kind of started over the last year or so, with the Greek Interfada. Dunno about the Chomsky stuff cos I didn’t bother with it. What leftyE quoted is pretty accurate tho. Thats what Obama did.

    But apart from that he is probably right. Odds are that if (well when) Mubarak falls then everything will change. If the “people” can stop him then they can do anything. And Mubarak will fall or he’ll have to kill most of the millions who were out on Tuesday. They know that if they go home they can expect a boot thru the door 4 O’clock some future morning. Especially with Sulliedman as VP. That was the first message Mubarak sent. It was a clear F U to the uprising.

    So they kind of know they can’t go home.

    CRAIGY @103. Not if its in self defense, and in Egypt’s case it has been for years. Generations even.

  106. Robert Bollard

    “I systematically pulled this junk from Chomsky apart back in 2005.”

    “Time after time we have warned the Kaiser…”

    Other than this quaint impersonation of a provincial Victorian newspaper in 1914, the incoherence FDB complains of is the product of trying to square, not a circle, but a bleeding hexagon. The neocon argument for the invasion of Iraq has been blown to pieces by events in Egypt. For the neocons themselves this has led to all sorts of contradictions and incoherence, but most can simply take a step back to the traditional realist position (whether its as blatant as Tony Blair or more nuanced).
    But for our little Australian band of Maoist “r-r-r-revolutionary” supporters of the “Peoples War Against Saddam”, this is not an option. They’ve spent a decade casting themselves as cardboard Stalins aligned to Blair and Bush (aka Churchill and Roosevelt) in a People’s Front for Democracy in the Middle East. This latest revolt must be, to say the least, disorienting.
    Be gentle with them.
    On second thoughts, don’t. Point and giggle. People have died needlessly, rather a lot of them actually, and they thought it was a good thing. That has to be worth a giggle.

  107. FDB

    “If the “people” can stop him then they can do anything. ”

    Well, at least you had the sense to put ‘people’ in quotation marks.

    Now do the same with ‘stop’ and ‘him’, and we might nearly agree!

  108. patrickm

    Robert; the argument that you avoid with phoney pacifism now goes like this;

    The fact that Iraq has a non puppet government, has ruled out the old notions that the U.S. ruling elite would install puppets in order to nick oil etc., and we are left with the hard to adjust to proposition that they meant to further the bourgeois revolution in order to defeat the enemy that showed up to all on 9/11.

    Free and fair elections ended the old war, and the new war is being run by and for the Iraqi people with their own elected political representatives. Just as the U.S. deserved the world’s support when the bombers struck on 9/11, so do the Iraqi masses who are facing down these bombers every day.

    It is also a case of self interest, because the swamp must be drained or Mosquitoes will endlessly bite all of us.

    Current events in Tunisia, Egypt, Jordan etc., is the swamp being drained as the new U.S policies intended.
    BTW How goes the war for greater Israel now? Is the Palestinian state closer now in your view or will Obama stop using the Bush expression ‘occupied territory’ and return to the Clinton expression disputed territory?

  109. FDB

    “Current events in Tunisia, Egypt, Jordan etc., is the swamp being drained as the new U.S policies intended.”

    The US had zero intention to see any of these occur, and are right now shitting bricks about all of them and more to come. They didn’t even see them coming, and nor did you, you silly fraud.

  110. patrickm

    FDB you ought to read Ms Rice.

    Many people, on the left and right, have seen this train coming! Why do you think the Realists are screaming mad about the dangerous change of US policies? What is your take on the establishment of a Palestinian State is it now clearly a vital US interest?

  111. jules

    Fuck I just heard sandmonkey was arrested an hour ago, bringing medical supplies into the square.

    His blog is gone – account suspended.

    I don’t like his chances.

    Is there anything we can do about this from Australia?

    Just to spell it out a blogger in Egypt (one of the most well known) with a pretty similar political bent to ours has just been arrested carrying medical supplies into Tahrir sq. Should we start emailing Canberra to ask for his release or a guarantee of his safety?

    I think I might.

    I’ve been reading his blog on and off for ages.

  112. Nabakov

    “Sorry to be a killjoy, but truth is I’ve abseiled down the side of waterfalls into deep canyons, sailed the high seas in cyclones, parachuted into jungles, jumped off the roof at home when I was seven, swung on ropes from one tree to another through the bush, swum naked in the ocean during a super cell storm, ridden an out-of-control horse bareback in 40 degree heat in stone country”

    Yeah? So what. I did all that by the time I was seven. And more. Say, have you tried nude hang gliding on acid? Great fun but be careful on any final approach involving goats.

    And RB @110. Hear! Hear! Thumps bottle on table, notices its empty and decides to retire for the night.

  113. Nabakov

    Oh FFS

    “Why do you think the Realists are screaming mad about the dangerous change of US policies.”

    A) If you’re a real realist you don’t scream, you shrug and order another drink.
    B) US policy in the Middle East has remained basically unchanged for the past 40 years and shows no sign of fundamentally changing now.

    You Last Superpower mob really should get out more often and y’know, talk to actual breathing human type people instead of hectoring eachother about geopolitical dialectics and then treating us to the effluent run off.

  114. jules

    “Current events in Tunisia, Egypt, Jordan etc., is the swamp being drained as the new U.S policies intended.”

    patrickm thats just bullshit. Stop parroting crypto Larouchite garbage.

    “They didn’t even see them coming, and nor did you, you silly fraud.” – FDB

    I did, thats why I started blogging about it in the morning on Invasion Day. Tho I’ve got an online “friend” who is an Egyptian socialist, and she has been saying this has been comingfor years, but especially since Khaled Said was killed.

    Once Tunisia started, then the Coptic Chruch was bombed … it was pretty obvious what would happen after the 25th. A lot of people in Egypt think that bombing was Mubarak’s dirty work, and after the behaviour of the security forces last week and last night its no surprise they think that way.

    I’ve thought this would be the end of Mubarak since I saw the footage of Tahrir on Jan 25th, and said so on my blog on Sunday. It might be ugly but he won’t survive. 10 minutes ago I heard a report of 200 thousand anti govt people in Tahrir, if the regime thinks chasing reporters away will hide an attempted massacre they have another thing coming.

    He can either leave of his own free will or they will chase him out.

    Anyway latest reports are the army has pissed off again (H 3a was right not to trust them) and the plain clothes security officers and paid criminals are mounting another charge on the lines of the only real protesters on the streets of Cairo. Looks like another bloody evening/night ahead. But the protesters won last night, I doubt the govt can break them.

  115. Lefty E

    Well said RB, but if the ‘Arab exception’ proves to be one largely sustained by US aid to dictators, will I still be able to call people ‘towelheads’ in the morning?

    Thanks for nailing those making-sensenik f*ckers, Patrickm.

  116. Lefty E

    Presumably there would be a democratic uprising in Syria if “US policies” were having their desired effect, Patrickm.

    But curiously, to general kamasement, its only happening in pliant, corrupt and authoritarian US puppet regimes – Tunisia, Egypt, Jordan, Yemen.

  117. jules

    Latest is sandmonkey escaped and is on the run.

    I just emailed Rudd asking him to “do something” about it.


  118. patrickm

    I think that the people that have been posting above like Robert, FDB, LeftE etc would probably agree with me that the greatest impediment to the development of the bourgeois democratic revolution since WW2 in the ME was the U.S. under consistent reactionary policies. The heroic liberators of WW2 gave way to the hated oppressors of peoples in Indo China the ME etc. All the while these rotten ‘realist’ policies (talk democracy while preventing free and fair elections), were criticised and exposed by the left. We said these policies would end disastrously for the ruling class and they did!

    On 9/11/ 2001 these bankrupt policies dramatically collapsed under attacks from people bred and nurtured in countries that the realists called allies. Egyptians Saudis and Jordanians etc emerged from the swamp that the U.S. ruling class had both created and maintained in the ME. And just as a policy rethink was required after 12/07/1941 another (and one just as dramatic) was thus forced by reality onto the agenda.

    Now that ought not be controversial for people of any sort of left heritage. What we can reasonably disagree about is what strategic conclusion a required think on policy produced in that tiny group of the US ruling elite that made the decisions.

    As I said several years ago;

    ‘The anti-war gang maintained prior to the liberation that the U.S. ruling elite are just continuing the failed policies that led to 9/11. Nothing is changed it’s just the same old same old apparently. Yet the open conservatives in the U.S. ruling class now scream out hysterically that their whole life’s work is being trashed! Five years after the titanic struggle was launched only a revolutionary understanding of what was at stake and what the U.S. ruling elite was up to still stands up. This revolutionary war is bringing region change in its wake and that was what it was designed to do.’

    Now the requirement to ‘drain the swamp in order to rid us of the mosquitoes’ was well understood by both Chomsky and Bush and (term it as you will) Bourgeois democratic revolution is draining the swamp. Most of us think this revolutionary overthrow of tyranny is demonstrably required because the tyrants won’t just disappear of their own accord. Some brave Egyptians have asked Mubarak to go for years but he hasn’t gone!

    So why are people then turning themselves inside out trying to not understand what is being said to them (right or wrong)?

    ‘Stripped of the “God bless America” stuff, the US President’s case now goes like this:
    “If we devote our resources to draining the swamps, addressing the roots of the ‘campaigns of hatred’, we can not only reduce the threats we face, but also live up to ideals that we profess and that are not beyond reach if we choose to take them seriously.”

    Actually, those words are from Noam Chomsky two days before Bush’s UN speech on September 10, 2002.
    But if Bush had adopted Chomsky’s position so early, that would have prevented congressional authorisation. Such a position threatens to destabilise despotic, reactionary regimes everywhere. But those in the US foreign policy establishment have devoted their entire careers to supporting the most corrupt tyrannies in the Middle East, in the name of “stability”.’

    Now is the region unstable or what? Do people really think that terrorist breeding stability is trully in US ruling elite interests after we leftists have always said that that is short sighted bullshit! Or were we always correct and now ought to welcome the required change?

  119. THR

    Now is the region unstable or what? Do people really think that terrorist breeding stability is trully in US ruling elite interests after we leftists have always said that that is short sighted bullshit! Or were we always correct and now ought to welcome the required change?

    Patrickm, your dialectical spasms have ceased to be amusing.

    Do you support Mubarak, or not?

    Do you support the protesters, or not?
    That is all you need to discuss.

  120. Katz

    They’re b-a-a-a-a-a-ck!

    The fact that Iraq has a non puppet government, has ruled out the old notions that the U.S. ruling elite would install puppets in order to nick oil etc., and we are left with the hard to adjust to proposition that they meant to further the bourgeois revolution in order to defeat the enemy that showed up to all on 9/11.

    The Last Superpower folk continue to prove themselves incapable of understanding the difference between intentions and results.

    Patrickm describes the current government of Iraq as “non puppet”. And as I have noted for a long time he is correct. However, he implies that this state of affairs was what Bush actually intended when he invaded Iraq in 2003. This implication is entirely wrong. Bush intended to turn Iraq into a permanent US armed camp. Bush intended to impose a constitution that essentially removed control of Iraq’s oil from any Iraq government. Bush failed miserably to achieve these aims. The rest of his administration was devoted to covering up that failure and to protect his historical “legacy”.

    Now no one in the US even wants to mention Bush’s name, except as a term of abuse. That is Bush’s legacy. He is a total failure and all sensible Americans perceive him to be a total failure.

    It is arrant nonsense to liken the consequences of Pearl Harbor with the consequences of 9/11. The former ended US isolationism. The latter served as a pretext for ushering in a revised (and disastrous) means of US control.

    Like the Bourbons, the Last Superpower cultists have forgotten nothing and learned nothing.

  121. Down and Out of Sài Gòn
  122. Katz

    Thanks Saigon. Juan Cole clarifies the essential differences between Iran and Egypt.

    Cole also clarifies just how different is the Egyptian MB from the religious forces that wrested control of the Iranian revolution in 1979.

    Cole makes it clear that the Egyptian MB is less radical, less fundamentalist, less militant than their Iranian analogues.

    Cole explains how the nature of the political economy of Egypt induces Egyptians to be more accommodating to the outside world than their Iranian analogues. In short, Egyptians are much more susceptible to the effects of foreign opinion for trade, tourism, and aid, than oil-rich Iranians ever were.

    These facts help to explain why the Egyptian MB are patient, moderate and gradualist. Like successful politicians anywhere the Egyptian MB cut their coat to suit their cloth.

    This morning it was reported on the BBC that Mubarak intended to engage in talks with the MB. Mubarak understands that the MB are the pivot upon which these events will turn.

    And how quickly do events rush on. Now the future of the revolution appears to be in the hands of the MB.

  123. jules

    Cheers tigtog @124.
    I just an interview with him actually.

    Dan Nolan Al J reporter is also back online. He had kind of disappeared for the last 24 hrs. Seems he spent the night in Tahrir being hidden by protesters as the regime searched for journalists to arrest and intimidate.

  124. dj

    Did anyone else see one the terrible effort by the foreign correspondent on Channel Ten news last night? I didn’t think it was possible to actually have my understanding of the situation reduced by reportage from someone purportedly at the scene. I watched a sum total of about ten minutes tv last night and it provided several minutes of entertainment because there was certainly little information provided by the segment on the Egyptian situation.

  125. Dr_Tad

    Sandmonkey may have been right that the MB have so far been a peripheral force in the protests, but the scale of state (and quasi-fascist) violence in support of the regime suggests that their relative absence is a weakness of the movement.

    Mubarak’s insistence that they are the main enemy is not just him looking for a scapegoat, but a reflection that they are amazingly well organised with significant roots inside the Egyptian populace and the allegiance (or at least grudging support) of many organised workers. It would seem to me that, unless a “spontaneous” workers’ uprising occurs, tactical unity with the MB is a precondition of beating back the regime and getting rid of Mubarak.

    I put the argument in more detail here.

    In particular check this fascinating link from my post from MERIP on how there have been growing links between the secular Left and the MB.

    I guess we’ll know after Friday prayers.

  126. nasking

    My perspective on the Egyptian situation:


    As mentioned in the comments:

    The American news organisations by & large are pathetic spinmeisters & fear-mongers:

    Bill O’Reilly’s show on Fox News begins w/ “What does it mean for Americans if Muslim Brotherhood jihadists take over?”

    Dianne Sawyer on ABC news referred to “thugs” in Cairo streets a number of times but she did not once distinguish between peaceful demonstrators & Mubarak supporters who attacked the crowds.

    Sadly, Christiane Amanpour came across like a mouthpiece for Mubarak…quoting his “chaos” & “Muslim Brotherhood” comments but providing no in-depth analysis on ABC news.

    The incremental campaign to crush the protest movement is well on its way.

    And this will come across as so obvious to many a hopeful Arab looking for an end to tyranny…only to see manipulation of the message & attempted splitting of their diverse ranks in order to point the finger at Muslim extremists and crush their hopes yet again.

    American government & media pragmatism & realpolitiks of the most grotesque kind raises its ugly head once again.


  127. Paul Burns

    It now appears the Government (ie the Australian Government) is now demanding Egypt get the stranded Aussies out becausae we can’t get a QANTAS (privatised) plane to them.
    Question for Kevin Rudd. WTF is the RAAF for in siyuations like this? And I mean no teflection on the Australian Air Force, only this bunch of incompetents who have lost their moral compass, if they ever had one, who are currently running our country.

  128. akn

    Without in any way wanting to support or even wanting to appear to support any form of extremism … the cynicism and brutality of Mubarak and the feeble US condemnation are creating exactly the ‘breeding grounds for terrorism’ that Bush ranted on about for so long. I’d be pretty damn displeased if my child was among the 300 plus killed so far for wanting no more freedom than any ordinary resident of Australia takes so for granted that it never receives a first let alone a second thought.

  129. jules

    Someone forwarded this to me today.

    *Please Forward Widely

    A Statement from the protesters at Cairo’s Tahrir Square to the Egyptian people

    The President’s promises and the bloody events of Wednesday February 2

    We the protesters who are currently on sit-in at Tahrir (liberation) square in Cairo since January 25, 2011 strongly condemn the brutal attack carried out by the governing National Democratic Party’s (NDP) mercenaries at our location on Wednesday February 2, under the guise of “rally” in support of President Mubarak. This attack continues on Thursday February 3. We regret that some young people have joined these thugs and criminals, whom the NDP is accustomed to hire during elections, to march them off after spreading several falsehoods circulated by the regime media about us and our goals. These goals that aim at changing the political system to a one that guarantees freedom, dignity and social justice to all citizens are also the goals of the youth. Therefore we want to clarify the following.

    Firstly, we are a group of young Muslim and Christian Egyptians; the overwhelming majority of us does not belong to political parties and have no previous political activism. Our movement involves elderly and children, peasants, workers, professionals, students and pensioners. Our movement cannot be classified as “paid for” or “directed by” a limited few because it attracted millions who responded to its emblem of removing the regime. People joined us last Tuesday in Cairo and other governorates in a scene that witnessed no one case of violence, property assault or harassment to anyone.

    Secondly, our movement is accused of being funded from abroad, supported by the United States, as being instigated by Hamas, as under the leadership of the president of the National Assembly for change (Mohamed El-Baradie) and last but not least, as directed by the Muslim Brotherhood. Many accusations like these prove to be false. Protesters are all Egyptians who have clear and specific national objectives. Protesters have no weapons or foreign equipment as claimed by instigators. The broad positive response by the people to our movement’s goals reveals that these are the goals of the Egyptian masses in general, not any internal or external faction or entity.

    Thirdly, the regime and its paid media falsely blame us, young demonstrators, for the tension and instability in the streets of Egypt in recent days and therefore for damaging our nation’s interests and security. Our answer to them is: It is not the peaceful protesters who released the criminal offenders from prison to the unguarded streets to practice looting and plundering. It is not the peaceful protesters who have imposed a curfew starting at 3 o’clock PM. It is not the peaceful protesters who have stopped the work in banks, bakeries and gas stations. When protesters organized its one-million demonstration it came up in the most magnificent and organized form and ended peacefully. It is not the protestors who killed 300 people some with live ammunition, and wounding more than 2,000 people in the last few days.

    Fourthly, President Mubarak came out on Tuesday to announce that he will not be nominated in the upcoming presidential election and that he will modify two articles in the Constitution, and engage in dialogue with the opposition. However the State media has attacked us when we refused his “concession” and decided to go on with our movement. Our demand that Mubark steps down immediately is not a personal matter, but we have clear reasons for it which include:

    His promise of not to run again is not new. He has promised when he came to power in 1981 that he will not run for more than two periods but he continued for more than 30 years.
    His speech did not put any collateral for not nominating his son “Gamal”, who remains until the moment a member of the ruling party, and can stand for election that will not be under judicial supervision since he ignored any referring to the amendment of article 88 of the Constitution.
    He also considered our movement a “plot directed by a force” that works against the interests of the nation as if responding to the demands of the public is a “shame” or “humiliation”.
    As regards to his promise of conducting a dialogue with the opposition, we know how many times over the past years the regime claimed this and ended up with enforcing the narrow interests of the Mubarak State and the few people who control it.

    And the events of Wednesday proved our stand is vindicated. While the President was giving his promises, the leaders of his regime were organizing (along with paid thugs and wanted criminals equipped with swords, knives and Molotov bombs) a brutal attack plot against us in Tahrir square. Those thugs and criminals were accompanied by the NDP members who fired machine guns on unarmed protesters who were trapped on the square ground, killing at least 7 and wounding hundreds of us critically. This was done in order to end our peaceful national popular movement and preserve the status quo.

    Our movement is Egyptian – Our movement is legitimate- Our movement is continuing

    The youth of Tahrir Square sit-in

    February 3, 2011 at 11:30am

  130. Dr_Tad

    [This comment of mine has been stuck in moderation since around 11.23am, so I’ll repost it]

    Sandmonkey may have been right that the MB have so far been a peripheral force in the protests, but the scale of state (and quasi-fascist) violence in support of the regime suggests that their relative absence is a weakness of the movement.

    Mubarak’s insistence that they are the main enemy is not just him looking for a scapegoat, but a reflection that they are amazingly well organised with significant roots inside the Egyptian populace and the allegiance (or at least grudging support) of many organised workers. It would seem to me that, unless a “spontaneous” workers’ uprising occurs, tactical unity with the MB is a precondition of beating back the regime and getting rid of Mubarak.

    I put the argument in more detail here: http://left-flank.blogspot.com/2011/02/whos-afraid-of-muslim-brotherhood.html

    In particular check the fascinating link from my post from MERIP on how there have been growing links between the secular Left and the MB.

    I guess we’ll know after Friday prayers.

  131. Chav

    I really hope the Friday of Departure has a huge turnout. In them meantime I also hope they are constantly fraternizing with rank and file soldiers. They may need those guns in the next 48 hours…

  132. jules

    Friday prayers just finished. We’re with you People of Egypt.

  133. jules

    Dr Tad that was forwarded to me. I have to take it on faith that it came from Tahrir Square, but cos its the internet, who really knows?

    You may think a tactical alliance with the MB is vital. I honestly don’t know.

    Really the only thing I know is that right now if I was 20 years younger and didn’t have the responsibilities I have now, I’d have spent the last week getting my way to Egypt however I could. 20 years ago I was a kid just out of high school and didn’t really appreciate the whole scale significance of what I was seeing. Now days I’m looking at this and thinking that there is so much more going on here than we’re just seeing via media.

    The MB support the uprising. In my mind thats enough. They didn’t start it tho. Really this is Egypt’s business, and we’re just spectators*, but i’m so over the bullshit of Western Culture and the Spectacle that I want to see these gals and guys win for their own sake. If the MBs with them good. Ultimately this is about Egyptians trying to chart their own destiny against the “powers” of the world.

    How can anyone not be moved by them and want them to win on their own terms?

    Then again I’m pretty drunk right so don’t listen to me.

    * Cept that the Regime tortured an Australian citizen – imagine what they do to their own people.

  134. Paul Burns

    I hope they win. I’ve been hoping they’ll win ever since it started. I fear they won’t. Read a report earlier today of the army being in the square in riot gear, and that sort of scared me for them.

  135. Hal9000

    I remember as a child passing through Egypt while the ship conveying my family to Britain transited the Suez Canal. We booked a taxi for the day to show us around Alexandria. I will never forget the driver’s passionate love of his country and adulation of Nasser. He insisted on showing us non-tourist sites like high rise apartment buildings Nasser had built to house people, and the state-owned oil refinery, formerly BP. He wouldn’t let us photograph the oil refinery, not that we’d wanted to, because it was a known military target. I have no doubt the Egyptians, once roused, will prevail. Shelley’s lines about rising like lions after slumber seem appropriate.

  136. Robert Bollard

    Well, it seems at this stage that the counter revcolution has been dealt a serious blow today. Hundreds of thousands have turned out in Tahrir. There’s a lovely picture on Al Jazeera of Christians forming a ring defending Muslims at prayer.
    The next question I suspect will not be whether Mubarack survives but whther the preferred “orderly transition” to Suleiman being pushed for by the US (just like replacing Hitler with Himmler) is allowed to take place. Then, if it does take place, whether that is the end of the story.

  137. jules

    Paul @ 139. I dunno. I think they will simply cos they know they can’t really afford to back down. I mean what sort of message was appointing Sulliedman VP? Seems to mean it was a clear FU to the protesters.

    I think alot of people know this will be their only chance and they don’t want to let it go.

    I was gonna sit up most of the night and follow what was happening, updating here, but I had to go out earlier and got ambushed by beers and this amazing stuff called Blue Sapphire Gin. So I don’t think I’ll make it.

    So far i’ve got some footage from another Egyptian blogger on the front lines about 20 minutes ago there, but I’m pretty hammered, had a mad few days as well so bed might win and nothing else might get posted till tomorrow.

    The army, well the occifers, especially the really high ranking ones, is/are the key but I think even they want Mubarak gone by now. Even the mainstream western media seems be coming around to that POV, and the “powerful” people outside of Egypt may be seeing opportunities.

    Half the population on 2 bucks a day? Someone might open a factory paying people 5 bucks a day… as part of Egypt’s new “open democracy”. Good thing several people involved with this are socialist and labour union lawyers.

    I’m speculating. Their days (and the night that’ll follow) isn’t over (and I’m not gonna make it thru without IV coffee but I sure hope they do.)

  138. sublime cowgirl

    @ Jules

    Never trust high ranking ociffers, ‘specially the Blue Sapphire ones. 😉

  139. sublime cowgirl

    Or occifers, even~!

  140. Katz

    BBC reports that Cairo al Jazeera offices have just been trashed by Mubarak’s thugs unknown men.

  141. Robert Bollard

    Personally I think that the ociffers are less important than the generality of the cnscpt rnk and fell. But there you go.

  142. patrickm

    I think there is now an obvious general agreement at LP that virtually the entire ME region is politically unstable and that its a great step forward for humanity that the awful period of stability and humiliation of the Arab peoples in particular is ending with the unfolding revolution now being led by the masses of Egypt.

    We progressive westerners admire and encourage this revolutionary struggle for such basic minimum rights that we ourself enjoy. What side we are on is self evident. It’s just like South Africa was when the rulers there were forced to dump the racism of apartheid. All progressives saw only one way forward. The way forward was via the right to vote, the right to form political parties, the rights that most of the people of the Middle East do not in reality have to this day.

    The minimum points of agreement were the only way forward. Those minimum points can be summed up as the basic demands of bourgeois democracy. Progressives refuse to accept anything less for the 21C. In the case of Egypt right now we see the one clear demand and support those that are making it. Mubarak must go, so that this revolution can unfold further!

    That general agreement at LP evident now was not the case just a few short weeks ago and was nowhere insight a few years back but realist policies have so imploded in the face of current events -with the enemy of all progressives so transparent on our TV screens- that unity has been thrust on people often before they even knew where they were actually standing.

    We stand side by side with the anti Mubarack masses and we want far more than to just wish them well. We want to expose those among our own political classes who are now and or have been opposed to the revolution that the people of the Middle East are now unleashing.

    We hold Mubarak and the realist policies that saw him supported for three long decades responsible for the deaths that the Mubarak thug police state forces are causing. The three hundred dead to date is we know only the start. But those deaths now are historically rooted in the actions that came from many decades of rotten ‘realist’ policies. Policies that were still being advocated even weeks ago!

  143. jules

    Well said patrickm @147

    Robert B @ 146, for sure, that was proved over the weekend. It would split the army if they turned on the protesters now. But I reckon if its to end without real ugly bloodshed the only way will be for the highly rank ossifers to tap Mubarak on the shoulder and point to the door, or preferably cell.

    His mates in the govt should join him.

    I really hope that happens, and then those brave people that put themselves on the line for it will need our support, basically to keep our meddling govts and multinationals off their back.

    sublime_cowgirl, I know, never trust em. But if you get the chance to pilfer some high quality gin with 10 ridiculous ingredients etched into the bottle from their quarters, I reckon you should do so.

    There’s probably a law about it somewhere…

  144. OB

    I’m more ambivalent about the whole thing. If you ask me, you need both violence and non-violence.

    Violent revolution wasn’t going to work without combining it with peace and reconciliation.

    I do sincerely believe that one needs both MLK and Malcolm X. Neither are enough on their own, and neither can be rejected outright.

    It would be great if violence never had to enter into the equation, but unfortunately, that’s not going to happen.

    Overstating the role of peaceful and non-violent resistance does emphasize role models, but it at times paints a distorted image of the past. It wasn’t just Gandhi’s non-violent example that changed the face of India or made Great Britain hurry to independence.

  145. Katz

    Mubarak appears to be practising political aikido. Aikido is a martial art based on the idea of turning the attacker’s force against the attacker. If the attacker does not attack then there is no need for the defender to redirect the energy.

    Traditionally, regimes fall when their titular heads bow to the inevitable.

    The inevitable arrives when the regime can no longer hope to possess a workable majority of violence. The army and other instruments of state violence refuse to continue to obey orders.

    So long as Egypt’s armed forces are not forced either to attack the protesters or to defend the vital interests and assets of the state, then there exists an uneasy stand-off. Time, mental and physical exhaustion and the need to return to ordinary civilian life begin to weigh more heavily upon the protesters. All that Mubarak needs to do is to persuade the protesters to keep their protest at low levels of energy because time is on his side.

    In sophisticated societies, the end of a regime arrives when the regime can no longer pay its defenders to to their job. Troops vote with their feet, often joining the insurgents. This state of affairs can arrive by means of collapse of credit and/or by means of a tax revolt. When the people refuse to pay their taxes to the regime, the regime can no longer afford to defend itself.

    However, here is the complication. It has been well publicised that Egypt is a mendicant state. The US bankrolls Egypt to the tune of $1.5b p.a. Most of that money goes to the military. Thus, the ultimate guarantor of the Mubarak regime is the US government.

    Unless and until the US cuts off that aid, Mubarak can continue to sit out the peaceful protests of the secular demonstrators. These folk appear to be both unwilling and unable to commit seriously threatening acts of political violence.

    But until the Egyptian armed forces commit some act that is morally reprehensible in the eyes of US public opinion, the US will continue to bankroll Egypt. And even if the US cut off aid today, doubtless there is enough momentum in the Egyptian military system to keep it operating for some time.

    Meanwhile the clock is ticking.

    The only way for this impasse to be broken is for the insurgents to take a violent initiative. And the most credible insurgent force is the MB.

  146. murph the surf.

    “$1.3 billion is the same amount as they received in 1985.
    This amount isn’t able to swing the same influence, the US has limited options currently” a talking head on the BBC World service intoned.
    Time to look ahead – a couple of million refugee visas for the Israelis anyone? Maybe dust off a few of those long ago plans for the Kimberley?

  147. patrickm

    Yes Murph it’s ‘Time to look ahead’ and you are quite correct in pointing out that the U.S. is not in anyway central to either what is going down now, nor what will go down in the near future in the whole region of the ME, but just not quite in the no-doubt flippant manner suggesteed.

    I think you ought first to consider the now very bright prospects for the short term end to the failed war for greater Israel launched over 6 days back in 1967.
    It’s a tired old war that’s looking very ragged now!

    The Mubarak era is going, not just for Egypt but also for Jordan and it will end for Syria (when the spell breaks there) as well.

    Actually, you have if you think about it just incorporated that necessary ‘stage’ of democratic progress within your more over-the-top thoughts that we can dismiss.

    Stability is gone, as are all the U.S. policies that were in place to keep the region ‘stable’. Support for Zionism, a clear cut form of racism is now looking as shaky as 1980’s style support for South African Apartheid.

    Everyone is talking about what is to be done about ending the outrage of holding the Palestinian people captive. Virtually everyone!

    There is no mass support anywhere for what was once seen as plucky little Israel. It is a pariah state that has a relationship with the U.S. that more closely fits the Chomsky description of what has been going on as the play-book.

    Try this exercise; insert Netanyahu and see what happens to Noam’s play-book move!

    ‘NOAM CHOMSKY: Well, Obama very carefully didn’t say anything. Mubarak would agree that there should be an orderly transition, but to what? A new cabinet, some minor rearrangement of the constitutional order—it’s empty. So he’s doing what U.S. leaders regularly do. As I said, there is a playbook: whenever a favored dictator is in trouble, try to sustain him, hold on; if at some point it becomes impossible, switch sides.’

    The only thing is that Noam does not believe that the U.S. ruling-elite can switch sides when it comes to Israel. Despite what is clearly in U.S. national interests at every level, Noam presumably thinks this is part of the U.S. ruling-elites DNA. Policy changes anyone?

    The era of Arab humiliation is coming to an end and can’t end without the establishment of a Palestinian state, and a comprehensive settlement of issues such as the return of the Golan Heights to Syria. U.S. vital interests are harmed by Israel’s ruling-elite not finalising the defeat that has been strategically clear for decades. Petraeus has made this crystal clear.

    I suppose Obama personally would like to go to his next and last election as the President that ended the Israeli occupation and brought about the U.S. ‘long held dream’ (HA HA HA) of establishing a democratic Palestinian State. Listening to Obama and other liberals lecture on universal human rights for Arab peoples is well annoying to say the least, but nevertheless encouraging.

  148. Paul Burns

    A view from Al-Jezeera.

    (If anybody else has already linked to this, apologies. Yet to read through latest entries.)

  149. murph the surf.

    So Libya.
    Must be that the crowd didn’t check in with the narrative writers.One report suggests Gaddafi will flee to Venezuala.
    Yemen, Jordan, Morocco,Kuwait,Algeria- even Iran.Bahrain’s streets now passified but for how long?
    The 20th century saw the removal of the colonial masters maybe the 21st will see the removal of the remnants of colonial culture and divisions based on colonial borders?
    Pan arabism based on democracy or the Koran- what do you reckon?
    Iran ,the persians will stand apart but a sunni dominated culture from the Atlantic to the Indian ocean might follow the precepts the prophet outlined and settle into a new and orderly entity. Egypt will be the key, The House of Saud the devil’s advocate.

  150. patrickm

    Today I thought of [email protected] who said;

    Presumably there would be a democratic uprising in Syria if “US policies” were having their desired effect, Patrickm.

    But curiously, to general amazement, it’s only happening in pliant, corrupt and authoritarian US puppet regimes – Tunisia; Egypt; Jordan; Yemen.

    Have you, Lefty E, noticed just how blind you were in Febuary? Of course you have! Events in Libya and Syria are clearly showing that US policies are also having an effect on these countries but instead of revistiting the issue you go quiet. Here is something to reflect on.
    what this council will establish is already established in Iraq! You can name the revolution that this is – the revolution that was launched with the destruction of Baathism in Iraq.

  151. patrickm

    Here is an article from the guardian

    It points out that this struggle of the Syrian people has now been going for five months and asserts there have been some 1500 killed. Those deaths are essentially on the orders of the right-wing nutter in charge of Syria. That’s say 10 – 15 Oslo’s. It’s about the same, on memory, as the Gaza outrage inflicted on the Palestinian people.

    Now the border of Gaza and Egypt is beginning to operate as any other normal border because the Mubarak regime has been swept aside and there will no longer be any co-operation in any prison guard duties.

    Yet another step along the (clearly and often) predicted path of revolutionary transformation of the entire region. Take these examples of David Jackmanson from 4 yrs ago;

    Australian revolutionary leftists have been talking about this region wide revolutionary transformation for over eight years.

    The draining the swamp theory was fully developed at the end of 2002 in the lead up to the war for the liberation of Iraq. We said that the targets would ultimately be the transformation of the U.S. allies Egypt and Saudi Arabia as well. We argued from the very beginning that the goal was region change. Change from tyranny was what the left had always been on about so we were clearly in favour of shattering the stability.

    It’s more than halfway through 2011 and the pro-war left has grown in support of the revolutionary war, as it is fought out in Libya and is required in Syria etc.. It is more protracted than people would like but no one on LP that has called for war in Libya has AFAIK backed down.

    Guy Rundle has totally backed down over his desire to see the U.S. fail in the war to support the people of Iraq! The collapsed anti-war movement has totally split in 2011, and people like Brendon can’t believe what their former comrades are now supporting. They are now supporting the revolutionary war and expecting more.

  152. patrickm

    In another thread Old Yobbo said;

    ‘Come to think of it, yes, the situation isn’t that different from Saddam’s Iraq, just on a more compressed time-frame. Which, if anything, makes me a bit more disposed towards the US invasion of Iraq (Christ, I never thought I would ever think that) – thanks AndrewC ….. I guess …..’

    and in doing so said very well.

    It is only six months on and this part of the region wide revolution, at the time mortally threatened in Benghazi by the local forces of tyranny, is now unfolding on the streets of Tripoli. This is obviously thanks to the military intervention of western governments providing coordinated naval, air-power and special ground forces, supplies of weapons, some training as well as satellite surveillance etc. The very brave Libyan revolutionary forces have been enabled, by a large military intervention (eventually well planned and led) from a financially bankrupt western world, to overcome their oppressors.

    Oppressors are still running riot in Syria and though they would be wise to rethink their position we ought not to ‘hold our breath’ and instead ought to expect armed struggle to be the only way forward there. The current political leadership of the old imperial power in the region, Turkey, is correct in warning of consequences. It is correct to threaten the destruction of the military forces of the tyrant and the protection of the Syrian peoples. The west is correct to impose the act of war of a blockade NOW.

    In Libya the NATO Apache helicopter gun-ships continue to destroy the tyrannies large weapons systems and defensive hard points and their command and control, and have done these six (long or short depending on your point of view) months. I look at this time frame as very short.

    Those that have remained silent while the war was thought through and then fought out, led by the cutting edge airpower and naval assets of the NATO intervention, let their silence do the talking. They were for the war. They were not just for the imposition of a NFZ but their silence was because they wanted the destruction of the tyrannies military forces. They have stepped into the new world where the west is not up to it’s old Vietnam war era tricks of talk democracy but impose tyranny. They have stepped into the post 9/11 world when that longstanding policy position collapsed. The realists world is now going with the wind as surely as the old south.

    The previous anti war block split wide open and the vast majority joined with the pro-liberation, pro-war left. Those left following on behind the likes of the now drowning Chomsky have been shown up as ridiculous.

    The fight is now almost totally an insurrectionary fight against the tyranny. The democratic revolutionaries have been able to advance and will clearly win this revolutionary war to end tyranny in Libya very soon.

    The drivel from right wing reactionaries who call themselves ‘marxists’ like Dr. Tad such as;

    ‘But on “what is to be done” about Libya? There seems a big presumption in that about who should be doing it, and the supporters of intervention have provided little alternative to the very same powers that have backed almost every undemocratic regime in the region.
    What should we do? Call on our government to NOT intervene and demand it drop its support for a Western-backed no-fly zone is a good start. That’s a pretty positive demand, IMO.’
    has turned to laughable mush and no person genuine about the issue of liberation of the masses will listen to a ‘leftist’ that can produce such conservative thinking as to end up actually opposing this revolution just because western ‘imperialist’ forces were involved.

    The anti liberation stance was because it (the bourgeois democratic revolution in this part of the ME swamp of tyranny) could only survive and then win (within about a six month period as it turned out) when supported by the west following the doctrine that has been put in place since the blowback disaster of 9/11 of opposing tyranny and supporting the peoples struggle for democracy. We have to understand what it is that is ongoing as there are many more struggles unfolding in the region and many of these revolutionary outbreaks will require some form of intervention.

    The theory of imperialism that led to Dr Tad to being on the wrong side is virtually useless in the 21st C

    The threads from six months ago over Egypt and Libya are well worth reflecting on. The pseudoleft position was crystal clear. That phenomena has given us another stunning example of what conservative defenders of tyranny actually look like mouthing anti imperialist claptrap.

    The revolution for bourgeois democracy rolls on and the impact on Syria and Jordan and back on Egypt is only some of what is in store for the various peoples of this region.

    Yet another great day in a truly great year! Roll on the ending of the failed war for greater Israel and establishment of the Palestinian state. Ask yourself how goes the war for greater Israel?

  153. patrickm

    still in the spaminator from 4:36 :(

  154. patrickm

    The issue of Egypt has come up on the latest Libyan thread and I think Brendon and Chav now find themselves in the situation that Mark was in some years ago at the time of the surge in Iraq. Guy Rundle was in a far worse position because he had openly hoped for the defeat of the coalition of the willing as they fought the enemies of all progressives in Iraq. But Guy abandoned that position and then in advocating revolutionary war in defense of the people of Libya was openly supporting the actions of the ‘Great Satan’, well before Obama got dragged into providing that military assistance.

    Brendon and Chav correctly identified that there was no real difference between this assistance to a people that could not win against an army of open tyranny and the even clearer provision of a direct liberation in the case of Iraq. Clearly the peoples’ of Iraq had no chance of overthrowing the Baathist regime at that time and no one was expecting that regime to be overthrown. Well a year ago no one was expecting Gadafi’s regime of tyranny to be overthrown, least of all his people that regularly had to pretend to support him in public demonstrations and so forth. Now both are gone with the wind!

    Chav; Brendon; Lefty E; Robert Bollard; FDB; and so on, are all now aware that some very important demands of the Arab Spring demonstrators for freedoms that formerly saw people arrested by the Mubarak regime no longer gets you arrested. Starting your own political party and preparing to contest free and fair elections and that sort of thing essentially. We are all happy that Mubarak is in custody and on trial over the mass murder of civilians etc.. Those activities that are new to the Egyptian people have been open to the peoples’ of Iraq for some years and are now also open to Libyans.

    Now the fact is, all of us commenting at LP are in favour of free and fair elections and accept that there is bound to be a transition period between the fall of the tyranny and the people organising, campaigning and contesting those elections. I think most of us now expect to see elections in Egypt and Libya over the next year or so. We have seen the process play out in Iraq as they took the various votes to gain representatives, then a constitution, and then a constitutional government. In short, we have witnessed the bourgeois democratic transformation of one country and now expect to see that process repeated across the entire region.

    Now back in January 31, 2011 on this thread

    @26 harleymc said;
    I suspect the military are very divided. The careerists are tied to the regime as the arrests by the military of Al Jazeera journalists and the reports of the military firing on demonstrators in the smaller Egyptian cities indicates. However many in the military are conscripts. It is hard to see how conscripts are likely to fire on their own families and friends and it creates a space where arms will flow to the people.

    If the military don’t tap Mubarak on the shoulder soon then the death toll currently reported to be between 100 and 200 will certainly skyrocket to the of thousands as the citizens come into conflict with the professional soldiers.

    Let’s not get too carried away with the idea that there will be democratic forms of government after this has blown over, the last 4 Egyptian Presidents have been military men.

    This sentiment was not unusual at that time, but only 7 months later we know the military did tap Mubarak, and that the death toll that he is now on trial for his life over did not skyrocket. We also know that bourgeois democratic norms of political organising is proceeding and also that there seems no indication that the fractured military as described above will shatter itself completely. (As the Libyan military has just done over just this time frame in attempting to reverse the peoples march toward democratic elections and the negotiated civilian government that will flow from those free and fair proportionally representative elections) In short, it is time to get carried away with the idea that there will be democratic forms of government after this has blown over. Only the reactionary violence is going to blow over. The old ‘realist’ world has gone with the wind and it is not coming back.

  155. Katz

    We have seen the process play out in Iraq as they took the various votes to gain representatives, then a constitution, and then a constitutional government. In short, we have witnessed the bourgeois democratic transformation of one country and now expect to see that process repeated across the entire region.

    We have seen no such process.

    We have seen the most relentless exercise of genocide since the Holocaust wherein the Sunni population of Iraq has halved in size. This genocide was committed in the cause of establishing not a “bourgeois democratic” regime but rather a Shiite theocracy right under the noses of the American occupiers. This theocracy will become still more transparent after the final 46,000 US troops bug out of Iraq.

    Here are some indications of what life is like in Iraq in August 2011:


    Iraqis Displaced Inside Iraq, by Iraq War, as of May 2007 – 2,255,000

    Iraqi Refugees in Syria & Jordan – 2.1 million to 2.25 million

    Iraqi Unemployment Rate – 27 to 60%, where curfew not in effect

    Consumer Price Inflation in 2006 – 50%

    Iraqi Children Suffering from Chronic Malnutrition – 28% in June 2007 (Per CNN.com, July 30, 2007)

    Percent of professionals who have left Iraq since 2003 – 40%

    Iraqi Physicians Before 2003 Invasion – 34,000

    Iraqi Physicians Who Have Left Iraq Since 200[3] Invasion – 12,000


  156. patrickm

    Lefty E is not the only regular at LP troubled by the mounting death toll in Syria, now apparently reaching 3,000, with many others currently ‘disappeared’. Leftists across the world in the wake of the successful war for the liberation of the Libyan people are puzzling over the issues and doing so with wide tolerance for different views on what is to be done by those ruling-elites that are able to do something.

    The issue of Syria is just one more front of the bourgeois democratic revolution so obviously unfolding across the region. Each front has its own specific issues like settling the borders of the already established Palestinian state and ending the Israeli occupation, or removing the settlements or encouraging / forcing autocrats in Bahrain to walk the road from power before they are made to run down it by the majority of the people that they hold in obvious and unacceptable bondage, but whatever the specific issue they are all part of one ongoing ‘event’. All these issues will move forward with U.S. and other western support and that is not the way it used to be when the realist policies of the old foreign policy establishment were being followed.

    On the Iraq front, Katz has ‘seen the most relentless exercise of genocide…’ so relentless that in oder to give us ‘some indications of what life is like in Iraq in August 2011:’ he returns to what it was like years ago. Like everyone else who is not writing about how terrible things are NOW, Katz was writing about it when there was a substantial conflict underway in early 2007 and along with the rest of the core group at LP he got it wrong then. What that core group was predicting didn’t happen. If he was open and honest about just how badly wrong he got it he would return to what he wrote and establish just how wrong he was as a base point for moving forward. He has not done this and neither have the core others that are in a position to lead the debate at LP.

    The errors in analysis were not made because people were standing with the oppressed against the oppressors but because of the simple error of failing to stand for the broadest possible unity in dealing with oppressors. The errors all stemmed from choosing a set of past actions of U.S. and western imperialism generally and concluding that the current actions are the same or equivalent and refusing unity with these imperialist forces and their allies based on that prejudice. The error stems from bias. What is in the interests of the various ruling-classes or the ruling-elites was not correctly thought through. The bias was so blatant that propagandists like Ken Loach had to skip over WW2 and run back to WW1 era British tyranny in Ireland in order to make his point about 21st C Iraq.

    History has now shown that a WW2 style united-front against the fascism that is Baathism was an appropriate model for this war of illegal liberation. Ultra-‘leftist’ rejection of uniting with the ruling class was the dominant shtick of what is widely considered left in the west, and this was bound to dominate the peace or anti-war movement that many genuine progressives across all classes are instinctively (and reasonably) drawn towards. The pro-war left was bound to be isolated and tiny but because it kept focused on the key points of unity that would have to drive any progressive political demands region wide it had a future and that future is now the past in Iraq.

    Unity had to focus on the rights of the masses to vote in free and fair elections and to go to market places and so forth without being deliberately blown up by the enemies of democracy. War was the correct response and still is the correct response to fascists that stand in the way of the required democratic revolution. It took some years to work through and the place of this struggle in the Middle East had to change to Libya, but pro-war left theory having had the experience of Iraq to build on had no difficulty in expanding its number of adherents dramatically when the Libyan front opened up.

    Faced with clear consequences for the revolution from any policy that was not based on a united- front with western imperialist forces progressives brushed aside the pseudo-left objections. The pseudo-left would have left Gaddafi free from the western attacks that eventually destroyed his armed forces and enabled the Libyan people to move forward just as Iraqis have moved forward.

    The costly changes in Iraq since 2007 if measured against ‘then’ have been positive and not only does Katz know this he and the others that shared his analysis ‘then’ are glad of it. Open honest and above board people who think of themselves as in anyway of the left are all glad that a self evident left analysis got it correct! They are all glad that an explanation that predicted the broad reality now does not lie exclusively with any right-wing world view. The left world view is not bankrupt only the pseudo left views are.

    No one that’s concerned with advancing the process of elections and the democratic transformation of the Middle East is really prepared to back Katz in accusing the Iraqi state of being a theocracy because there are no demands that can be put forward. Compare this sad insult to what we would demand when faced with the real theocratic tyranny of Iran.

    In Iran western progressives call for free and fair elections that have some international observers and thus the level of credibility that Iraq has. This is the demand that was put forth for Libya. It stands in the process of peaceful resolution in Egypt where there is currently no reason to doubt that it will not carry through to a full implementation of a bog standard bourgeois democracy with proportional representation for the Egyptian people.

    All the changes since the Iraq tyranny existed in 2003, if measured against living under the tyranny in let’s say Halabja, on just one day when the tyranny decided to move against the people living there have been positive. If the Syrian tyranny tried that stunt now the world led by the bourgeois democracies in Turkey and Iraq would respond and destroy the tyranny and liberate the Syrian people. That is a big change from how the world was 25 odd years ago. Middle Eastern democracies now exist and have stated explicitly that they will intervene. The Syrian tyranny is trying a similar series of smaller stunts now that have led to the 3,000 plus deaths so war against vicious but fundamentally feeble tyrannies where the 1% obviously oppress the 99% is now openly on the agenda and more conversions will unfold on the road to Damascus.

  157. patrickm

    The struggle within the ‘1%’ is much further along in Egypt than in the west and was demonstrated this week when Coptic people were turning out to reject Christ’s call to turn the other cheek! Good on them. Responding to the most isolated of the fascist elements within the Egyptian Armed forces establishment and clearly the rear guard of the 1% supporters who had resorted to brutal police style terror attacks. IMV the army/police thuggery just got out of control, (from long years of western realist backed ‘that’s the way we do it’ policies; just like Abu Ghraib) rather than as some thought out current policy to generate civil unrest in order to stall the establishment of a PR bourgeois democracy.

    The violence harmed the government (again like Abu Ghraib) and IMV the members of this cabinet are likely to not want to go the way of Mubarak by either a coup from their Colonels nor unwind the whole of ‘their Egypt’ in a strategically doomed repeat of Libya and end as Gadaffi has. I think they intend to step back in an orderly manner through an electoral process and see what the future brings.

    Despite any such minor setbacks Egypt that’s minus the problems from large scale fighting can not be allowed by the current rulers in their own interests to lag Libya in elections. Libya has been damaged by the awful and as we saw ultimately pointless bloodshed brought on by the tyranny and there is a legitimate requirement to get it’s necessarily fractured society functioning again. Yet it will reasonably rapidly get to elections and this has consequences for the region.

    The violence of Libya was launched by the anti-democratic forces against the people very broadly mobilized behind narrow and thus unifying demands that are shared by the Egyptian masses. Delay of satisfactory elections would only make things worse for those now in formal power. The 99% of the Egyptian people have the one unifying demand against their 1% right there! Currently there is no legitimate justification for much of a hold up to the formation of the new people approved constitutional Egypt, and despite capitalisms current problems around the world this will proceed. Assad and Ahmadinejad would be wise to take note. But don’t hold your breath and just hope for change as the death toll grows in Syria. “Cast aside illusions prepare for struggle.”