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Time to forge new, democratic system

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CAIRO — Last night, February 11, Cairo was the scene of what may well have been the largest street party in world history.  It was incredibly powerful and moving.  Of course, the night’s festivities marked both an end and a beginning. Now is the time for Egypt’s judges, other legal professionals, diplomats, other negotiators, intellectuals, and spokespersons for social and economic constituencies to forge a new, responsible, transparent, democratic system of civilian governance. [Read more…]

Our Man in Cairo

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With Mubarak’s departure, the focus now falls on his chosen successor, Omar Suleiman. According to a classified American diplomatic cable released by WikiLeaks, Suleiman was Israel’s pick to succeed Mubarak. But there’s little doubt that he was also the choice of the United States, or at least of one particular American agency with which he has been closely tied through much of his career, the CIA.

During the war on terror, Suleiman headed Egypt’s foreign intelligence agency and as such he was the key contact for the CIA in a number of activities, particularly including its highly secretive extraordinary renditions program. When American interrogators wanted to use the crudest torture techniques, they did so through proxy arrangements, and their first stop was in Egypt. The CIA’s Cairo station chief, who now heads the agency’s CounterTerrorism Center and who routinely briefs President Obama, developed a legendarily tight personal relationship with Suleiman. [Read more…]

Online Resources on Egypt and Beyond

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With protests against the Egyptian regime continuing, here is a partial list of resources:

A critical Facebook page is “We are all Khaled Said” — also see the associated webpage elshaheeed.co.uk. (For background on Khaled Said, see IPA news release.) See: egyprotest-defense.blogspot.com; live updates at guardian.co.uk; Al-Jazeera English live blog and video, or via YouTube: Arabic and English.

See some Twitter feeds: #Jan25 (referring to the Egyptian protests which began January 25); tweetchat.com/room/jan25; feed from Cairo; @avinunu (who is in Amman) set up a Reporters in Egypt list. Philip Rizk @tabulagaza; blogger arabawy.org at @3arabawy; blogger arabist.net at @arabist; Al Jazeera English corespondent @AymanM; Democracy Now‘s @sharifkouddous; CNN’s Ben Wedeman. Voice to Tweet from Egypt: egypt.alive.in

Also: #Sidibouzid (refers to the town of Mohamed Bouazizi, the Tunisian street vendor who on December 17 was the first of several in the region to immolate himself in protest.)

Based in the U.S., but with extensive contacts in the Mideast: angryarab.blogspot.com; the new journal jadaliyya.com; juancole.com; IPA communications director Sam Husseini’s personal feed @samhusseini

For translating from Arabic and French websites and Twitter feeds, translate.google.com can be helpful

(Photo by Nasser Gamil Nasser, who was assaulted by police.)

Hungry Gazans Feed Egyptian Troops

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Mohammed OmerRAFAH, Feb 9, 2011 (IPS) – Mustapha Suleiman, 27, from J Block east of the Rafah crossing with Egypt, crosses through gaps in the iron fence on the border carrying bread, water, meat cans and a handful of vegetables for Egyptian soldiers stationed on the other side. [See at Inter Press Service]

Egypt’s military-industrial complex

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With US-made tear gas canisters fired on protesters in Cairo, Washington’s role in arming Egypt is under the spotlight

In early January 2010, Bob Livingston, a former chairman of the appropriations committee in the US House of Representatives, flew to Cairo accompanied by William Miner, one of his staff. The two men were granted meetings with US Ambassador Margaret Scobey, as well as Major General FC “Pink” Williams, the defence attaché and director of the US Office of Military Cooperation in Egypt. Livingston and Miner were lobbyists employed by the government of Egypt, helping them to open doors to senior officers in the US government. Records of their meetings, required under law, were recently published by the Sunlight Foundation, a Washington, DC watchdog group. [See at the Guardian]

Uprising Pays Off -– Sort of

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Emad MekayToday I went to a town only 23 kilometers south of Tahrir Square. The plan was to see if the 11-day uprising in Egypt has produced any benefits so far – just by way of finding something different from the insecurity and chaos in Cairo. Kirdasa, a small town known for its flower nurseries and handmade crafts sold to tourist, was where I went. Here’s what I found out: [Read more…]

Mubarak, Army, U.S., Israel vs Egyptian People

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[As government forces have attacked peaceful protesters in Tahrir Square, Emad Mekay from Cairo reports]

Mubarak is clearly backed by the Americans. He took some moves after speaking with Obama and a visit by a former U.S. Ambassador to Egypt Frank Wisner.

Mubarak, the army, the Americans and the Israelis are clearly on one side. That’s one camp. The people of Egypt (most of them now) are the other.
The Americans want Mubarak to stay on for longer while they look for a suitable successor that would be best for U.S. interests.

Mubarak’s tactic is to make Egyptians choose between “security”, that he supposedly provided over the past 30 years, or insecurity, vandalism, and chaos that he is also providing now. [Read more…]

Unrest Spreads to Sinai

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Mohammed OmerA Bedouin youth casually spreads out a piece of cloth before a police headquarters in Sheikh Zwayyed town in Sinai, the vast desert area to the east of Cairo across the Suez. “I will leave when Mubarak leaves,” he says. [Full piece from Inter Press Service]

Chomsky: Strategic and Economic Objectives, Not Anti-Islamization, Drives U.S. Policy

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[While many are claiming that a central goal of U.S. policy is to minimize influence of groups like the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, Noam Chomsky contributed this to our blog]

It is well-established, including the major scholarly literature, that the U.S. supports democracy if and only if that accords with strategic and economic objectives.  Following that principle, in the Arab/Muslim region it has generally supported radical Islamists in fear of secular nationalism (as has the UK).  Familiar examples include Saudi Arabia, the ideological center of radical Islam (and of Islamic terror), Zia ul-Haq, the most vicious of Pakistan’s dictators, Reagan’s favorite, who carried out a program of radical Islamization (with Saudi funding), and many others.  The operative criterion is obedience, not religious extremism (rampant in the U.S., for example) or surely democracy.

Chomsky’s books include Deterring Democracy.

An Open Letter to President Barack Obama

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[To sign; for recent news releases on Egypt from the Institute for Public Accuracy]

Dear President Obama:

As political scientists, historians, and researchers in related fields who have studied the Middle East and U.S. foreign policy, we the undersigned believe you have a chance to move beyond rhetoric to support the democratic movement sweeping over Egypt. As citizens, we expect our president to uphold those values.

For thirty years, our government has spent billions of dollars to help build and sustain the system the Egyptian people are now trying to dismantle. [Read more…]