Monday, January 31, 2011

Will Obama Take the Side of The Egyptian People or Mubarak's Regime & The Military

UPDATE: 4:26 PM ,Jan. 31, 2011.

Will America be on the wrong side of history once again???

"The whole world is watching. If the tanks of Tiananmen Square roll into Cairo’s Tahrir Square, the people of the Middle East will know who to blame. Tell them "No," Mr. President."
Whose side is Obama on anyway? By Joel Beinin and Mitchell Zimmerman via, Jan.30, 2011

Al Jazeera English: Live Streaming
Watch the broadcast here. Last Modified: 28 Jan 2011 17:08 GMT

Live streaming from BBC:As it happened: Egypt unrest day five

Egyptian Uprising: Protesters Attacked While Praying Jan 29/2011

and the Guardian UK: The Guardian Live Updates/Streaming

And from The Telegraph "Egypt protesters step up pressure on Mubarak
Thousands of people are on the streets of Cairo for a seventh day, defying the start of a curfew and calling for a general strike." Jan. 31, 2011

Group in Egypt promoting change have put a petition online with
Support the People's Revolution in Egypt/ ساند ثورة الشعب في مصر

Targeting: Ambassador Sameh Shoukry (السفير سامح شكري), President Hosni Mubarak (الرئيس حسني مبارك), General Habib Ibrahim El Adly (حبيب ابراهيم العادلي‎), see more...Ambassador Sameh Shoukry (السفير سامح شكري), President Hosni Mubarak (الرئيس حسني مبارك), General Habib Ibrahim El Adly (حبيب ابراهيم العادلي‎), and Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq (احمد محمد شفيق‎)
Started by: The January 25 Movement حركة يناير ٢٥

On January 25, we the people of Egypt took to the streets to demand our rights! We are not unified by one party, class or religion: we are not Muslim and we are not Christian, we are not rich and we are not poor - we are the multifaceted people of Egypt - Muslims and Christian's and Egyptians of all classes. We demand our civil, political and human rights. We demand the immediate resignation of the president and parliament. We demand a new constitution. We demand free and fair...

On January 25, we the people of Egypt took to the streets to demand our rights! We are not unified by one party, class or religion: we are not Muslim and we are not Christian, we are not rich and we are not poor - we are the multifaceted people of Egypt - Muslims and Christian's and Egyptians of all classes.

We demand our civil, political and human rights.
We demand the immediate resignation of the president and parliament.
We demand a new constitution.
We demand free and fair elections.
We demand the complete and total release of all political prisoners and detainees.
We demand the return of open access to all communication networks.
We demand that the police stop shooting at us, stop their brutality and stop their attacks on journalists.

We are the January 25 movement, and we are not going to stop until our demands are met! We call on Egyptians and internationals to lend a hand and help us win by signing this petition, which will be sent to Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, officials in the interior and foreign ministries, and Egyptian embassies all over the world.

Winning this campaign depends on our ability to call on thousands of supporters like you. After signing this petition, please follow us on Facebook - just click 'Like' at the top of the page.

في 25 يناير، شعب مصرأخذ للشوارع للمطالبة بحقوقه!

نحن لا نمثل طرف واحد، أو طبقة أو دين : نحن لسنا المسلمين فقط أوالمسيحيين فقط، ونحن لسنا الأغنياء. نحن الشعب بأكمله وبأطرافه المتعددة -- المسلمين والمسيحيين والمصريين من جميع الطبقات.

نحن نطالب بحقوقنا المدنية والسياسية والإنسانية.

ونحن نطالب بتغيير في النظام كامل برمته -- بما في ذلك إسقاط الرئيس والبرلمان.

ونحن نطالب بوضع دستور جديد.

ونحن نطالب بانتخابات حرة ونزيهة.

إننا نطالب بالإفراج الكامل والشامل عن جميع السجناء والمعتقلين السياسيين

و نطالب بارجاع فتح الاتصال لجميع شبكات الاتصالات والإنترنت

ونطالب الشرطة وقف اعتداءاتها على الصحفيين.

ونحن نطالب بأن الشرطة توقف إطلاق النارعلى المواطنين واستخدام العنف ضد المتظاهرين

نحن حركة 25 يناير، ونحن لن تتوقف حتى تتحقق مطالبنا!

ندعو المصريين ومؤيدينا عالميا لدعمنا بتوقيع هذه العريضة، والتي سوف يتم إرسالها إلى الرئيس المصري حسني مبارك ومسؤولين في وزارتي الداخلية والخارجية ، والسفارات المصرية في جميع أنحاء العالم.

الإنتصار في هذه الحملة يعتمد على قدرتنا على دعوة الآلاف من المؤيديين مثلك. بعد التوقيع على هذه العريضة، يرجى المتابعةعلى فيس بوك -- انقر على كلمة ليك في الجزء العلوي من الصفحة

Mubarak shuts down AlJazeera Cairo bureau.

"Al Jazeera shut down as Mubarak fights for control of airwaves" By Catrina Stewart via the Independent ,Jan 31, 2011

Opinionated, critical and more than a little frenzied in its reporting, the Al Jazeera network's aggressive style has irked Arab governments by shining an unwelcome spotlight on dissent.

Now Egypt has shut down the Cairo operations of Al Jazeera as part of a crackdown against widespread anti-government demonstrations. The move comes at a time when Al Jazeera is arguably at its most influential in its 15-year history, galvanising popular support against the regimes in Egypt and Tunisia and prompting the ire of rattled regional leaders.

The pan-Arab channel, which is owned by the Emir of Qatar, was quick to denounce Egypt's move as "silencing the voices of the Egyptian people".

Of course in the case of the Egyptian uprising almost everything the US government or its media says is filtered through an American prism. The political crisis in Egypt didn't arise out of a vacuum . For decades various US administrations have supported and given billions to the Egyptian government mainly for its military even though they new about the poor human rights record and wide spread corruption of the Egyptian Regime. So we can't simply blame Obama for the situation though he can be criticised for not putting more pressure on Mubarak to bring about reforms. Though it could be argued that any reform can be brought about Egypt is the ousting of Mubarak and his Regime including all who are still loyal to that regime.

Of course as many have said before the USA's idea of political and economic reform is the notorious purple thumb-if you can cast a vote then you have democracy -not so much. It is only a free democratic state when all members of society are treated as equals with due respect and that each person has certain basic rights and freedoms and that includes minority groups who may need to be defended and protected by the National government. And what good is freedom when the doors are closed to educational and employment opportunities or to be free is to die because you don't have the proper medical coverage or a child is unable to take advantage of opportunities because of being malnourished in a society with plenty to go around .
The American mythos is of no help to the unfortunate ones in society because the defenders of America rapacious capitalism is that of everyone for himself and all against all.

So giving any substantive help to the poor the unemployed the mentally or physically impaired is a direct violation of the American Ayn Rand cult of selfishness , greed and materialism. Some will say they reject materialism because they are religious in some way yet American style Evangelical Christianity is a " Prosperiety Gospel" so they co-opt the teachings Jesus or whatever religious leaders they follow making them compatible with materialism and greed and selfishness.
In their view Jesus was basically a motivational speaker and was a middle class white guy who believed in the use of force and loved winners over losers the rich over the poor.
Odd how these pseudo-Christians opt for "Social Darwinism" nature as red in tooth and claw where life is brutal and short while rejecting Darwin's Evolutionary theory. Jesus rejected this amoral naturalist view of human beings because humans have a conscience or if you like a soul which should guide them in their treatment of others who are also human and all of whom have a soul whether the religious fanatics or atheists think otherwise.

For instance under George W. Bush corruption , lies, propaganda and a wanton disregard for the rule of law or ethical and moral principles . So why should the Egyptians or any other nation or its peoples trust anything the US government might say or promise. The Americans have made it quite clear that they have no respect for the United Nations, and other international bodies.

So the question is whether Obama is going to stand with the majority of Egyptians or stand with the Egyptian military and the dictator Mubarak or whatever strong man who might take Mubarak's place.
In China and Iran the Americans sided with the people and not with the authoritarian regimes.
But will the Neocons and neoliberals in his administration opt for the old amoral Kissinger or Madame Albright style "Real Politik".

Whose side is Obama on anyway? By Joel Beinin and Mitchell Zimmerman via, Jan.30, 2011

A Tiananmen moment may be swiftly approaching in Cairo – except this time the tanks that could crush the movement for Egyptian democracy in a bloodbath were bought and paid for by U.S. dollars. And this time, our government has the power to prevent brutal repression and bloodshed and stand with the Egyptian people’s just and long overdue demands.

The Egyptian people are fighting, not only to end the 30-year reign of dictator Mubarak, but for democracy. So far, our government has continued its de facto support for the Mubarak regime by paying lip service to the need for "reform" at the same time that it lauds Mubarak as an ally and source of "stability" in the Middle East. President Obama and his spokespeople have carefully avoided the fundamental issue. The Egyptian people are not asking their government to reform itself. They are demanding an end to the entire autocratic and kleptocratic regime they have endured for even longer than Mubarak’s rule. They want democracy.

What may stand in the way? At this point, only one institution of Egyptian society: the U.S.-funded military machine. In the coming hours or days, the Army can either crush the people of Egypt under the treads of its tanks, ending aspirations for democracy for now, or the Army can make clear that it will not serve as an instrument of dictatorship. Mubarak will then flee, and the Egypt people can begin the messy but necessary process of building democracy in their country.

Because our government funds the Egyptian military machine, President Obama could send a clear and persuasive signal to the Egypt Army: the United States will not be prepared to continue funding the Egyptian military to the tune of $1.3 billion a year if the Army turns on its own people and begins shooting them down in the streets.

So far, President Obama has spoken out for free expression in Egypt and has called for restraint by both sides – as though an unarmed populace, demanding democracy, were the physical or moral equivalent of a brutal state security apparatus. But our president has remained silent about the demonstrators’ goal: a democratic Egypt. In his June 2009 Cairo speech, when nothing was immediately at stake, President Obama uttered eloquent words of support for democracy. If he spoke out forcefully in support of the Egyptian people, as he did for the Tunisian people in his State of the Union address, he could tip events in a direction that would earn America the gratitude of the Egyptian people.

This would go far to undoing the damage to America’s standing in the Arab and Muslim world created by the catastrophically wrong-headed foreign policies of the George W. Bush era. It would also do more to undermine al-Qaeda’s international campaign of hatred and terrorism than has been achieved by two wars and over a trillion dollars in military spending.

The whole world is watching. If the tanks of Tiananmen Square roll into Cairo’s Tahrir Square, the people of the Middle East will know who to blame. Tell them "No," Mr. President.

This international story once again shows how the US media does such a poor job on reporting on international stories. They would rather have their paid for centrist or uberconservative pundits talk about what 's going rather than actually having reporters or "real journalist " report from where the action is taking place. If they do have journalist on the ground they are rarely experts in any real sense. At a real new network for a specific story it used to be that they would have journalist who have spent a few years in a particular country or region ie the Middle East, Europe, Asia etc. and who possibly speak the language of that particular region Arabic, Farsi, Pashto , Hindi ,or even Italian or French who may be able to deliver an intelligent well informed analysis. Instead these news agencies fill the time on television with self-described experts who are not really experts. Or they fly a journalist into a country which that journalist knows little about. But this is what you get when journalism and its loftier notions of integrity such as Bill Moyers et al speak about get traded in for news as merely entertainment or reflecting only one narrow point of view or just stuff to fill up the 24 hour news cycle.

They also interview pundits who have an opinion but it may be rather facile and superficial or just dead wrong . Or even worse is that these news outlets will depend on the opinions of ideologues such as Neocons, Neoliberals etc. whose opinions are going to be colored by their own ideology and whatever axe they have to grind. In other words they are far from being impartial witnesses. In some cases they may even use so called pundits who in the case of stories involving the Middle East the opinion they express may in fact be tainted by a racist or bigoted view of the groups involved in a story. For instance when it comes to stories about the Middle East or Arab and Muslim countries one can't blindly accept the opinion of someone who is a known Islamophobe or has a racist view of all Arabs. So the opinions of some people need to be taken with a grain of salt and a big dose of skepticism .
In some cases it should be that certain individuals should not be trotted out as experts and given a megaphone to spew their lies, propaganda, talking points, bigotry and prejudices.
The Mainstream Media more often than not is even before a story breaks have already certain prejudices embedded in their ongoing ideologically tainted narrative.

Al Jazeera's Egypt coverage embarrasses U.S. cable news channels by Alex pareene via, Jan. 28, 2010
The English-language version of the Arab network is making the failures of cheap American cable "news" obvious

There is a curfew in effect in Egypt, but thousands of protesters remain in the streets in Cairo, Suez, Alexandria and across the rest of the country. President Hosni Mubarak is expected to speak soon. Police might've fired tear gas at praying demonstrators. And Fox reported on how ICE arrested some immigrant sex offenders in Virginia.

Fox, CNN and MSNBC are all acquitting themselves better than they did the day Tunisia's government collapsed. All of them have reporters in Cairo, and are airing footage of the demonstrations on the streets. But none of them are reporting on the situation as compellingly as Al Jazeera English, which has reporters across the country. And if you're in the United States, you can probably only see Al Jazeera English online. If you're watching Al Jazeera, you're seeing uninterrupted live video of the demonstrations, along with reporting from people actually on the scene, and not "analysis" from people in a studio. The cops were threatening to knock down the door of one of its reporters minutes ago. Fox has moved on to anchor babies. CNN reports that the ruling party building is on fire, but Al Jazeera is showing the fire live.

CNN, to its credit, is using coverage from the grown-ups at CNN International. MSNBC had Dan Senor (council on foreign relations) reporting from Davos. Yes, liberal MSNBC was getting live analysis from a neoconservative former spokesperson for the occupying U.S. government in Iraq. Fox just had former U.N. Ambassador and ultra-hawk John Bolton on to warn us about the Muslim Brotherhood. Al Jazeera had an opposition party leader on the phone.

All three of the major U.S. cable news networks are prefacing breaking news on their chyrons with the words "Al-Jazeera reports." Al Jazeera was criticized for being reluctant to cover the Egyptian protests as zealously as it covered Tunisia -- and I can't speak to that, because I obviously can't watch the Arab-language version of the channel -- but its English-language network is, today, mandatory viewing for anyone interested in the world-changing events currently happening in Egypt. The American networks barely qualify as an interesting supplement.

The Wrong Friends: The Uncomfortable Lesson of the Uprisings in the Middle East by: David Mednicoff | The Boston Globe |
Jan. 30, 2011

For decades, American policy in the Arab world has rested on the assumption that secular governments are better.

In a region prone to religious violence and sorely lacking in democratic government, the thinking goes, it is secular regimes that hold the most promise for change, and have been the easiest for us to support. Though perhaps never stated in such simple terms, this thinking underlies much of our diplomacy and analysis of a volatile and strategically important region.

It's easy to see why: A secular government is more like a modern Western democracy, and a better fit with our own tradition of separating church and state. We tend to believe that even if secular Arab regimes are oppressive, they represent at least a small step toward a more modern, stable, and democratic future for the region. Washington has funneled its greatest Arab aid to secular strongmen like Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, who openly trumpet the need to squelch Islamic political movements. It has dealt more warily with Islamic monarchies like Saudi Arabia.

But can today's secular governments really be the basis for a stable Middle East? The recent overthrow of the president of Tunisia suggests an uncomfortable answer. The Tunisian revolution was the biggest political news in the Arab world in years, triggering wide speculation on its deeper causes and how much it will spread to other countries. But one thing is undeniable: In a region full of monarchies and other unelected regimes, the government that fell — the one government unable to maintain enough hold on the public to weather a crisis — was the most secular one.

For over four decades, Tunisia's political leadership looked, if not like a model regime, then at least like a step in the right direction. Habib Bourguiba, its first independent leader, banished religion from a role in the state and actively promoted women's rights and education. Since ousting Bourguiba in 1987, ex-president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali attracted Western ties and tourists, consistently fighting Islamism and raising fears about its influence. Despite an impressive general record of economic achievement, Ben Ali has just become the first modern Arab leader to be ousted through popular mobilization. In Egypt, the most populous Arab country, another secular regime struggles to fend off the seething anger of its people. And in secular Algeria and Yemen, copycat protests may be setting the stage for similar widespread demonstrations.

This rising tide of mass protests against Arab secular strongmen urges us to think again about the role of Islam and government. Decades of Western policy have pushed Middle Eastern governments toward secular reforms. But a more nuanced view of the region — one that values authenticity as much as Western dogma — suggests something different. If we are concerned about stability, balance, even openness, it may be Arab Islamic governments that offer a better route to those goals.

To most Western thinkers, suggesting a role for religion in government seems to be sailing against the wind of history. Europe's rise to industrial greatness, democracy, and global power came in the wake of deliberate secularization. Part of the enduring appeal of the American dream is its religious tolerance. Russia, China, and the rest of East Asia have all flourished economically, if undemocratically, under secular rule.

Yet the examples in the Arab world look very different. The Middle East and North Africa is the world region most lacking in democratic government, tempting policy makers to imagine that positive change, as it has elsewhere, will go hand-in-hand with secularization. But the Middle East is also the origin and heartland of Islam, a faith sustained in part through its ability to serve as a political order as well as a religious belief. Unlike Americans, who may be deeply religious but are also raised to believe in separate realms of church and state, many quite moderate Muslims see nothing strange in the notion of a government fully infused with religious purpose.

...If we think of "modern" governments as those that can accommodate change, freedom, and pluralism, then Islamic monarchies have satisfied this definition much more than secular republics in recent years. Certainly the thousands of protesters in Tunisia in the last month, and in Egypt at the moment, haven't seemed impressed with the achievements of their secularist leaders.

In fact, Arab monarchies that simulate aspects of the political Islamic past are not only comparatively stable, but better bets for controlled transitions to free governments. Recent global experience suggests that, despite the much-publicized intolerance of extremists, Islamic political ideas are compatible with democracy. Arab Islam's long history provides many concepts that resemble, without duplicating, Western democratic practices, such as town meeting ("majlis") and representative consultation ("shura"). Indeed, today's Arab kings have adapted such ideas to negotiate and build consensus around important policies. And there is ample evidence that Islamist political opposition parties compete fairly in Arab elections, when they are allowed to do so.

Washington's understandable concern about particularly aggressive manifestations of Islam such as al-Qaeda and the Taliban — and the anti-Americanism of Iran's Islamic revolution — has pushed us to hold almost monolithic views about the general nature of Muslim politics. But the bleak record of secular Middle Eastern states suggests that a sounder policy would be one more open to Islamic models of rule like Morocco and Qatar — nations sufficiently inoculated against direct attacks in the name of Islam that they can create public space for liberal education and open media. Such public space has already borne fruit in the form of increasing religious, secular, and mixed alternatives to express political views

"A People Defies Its Dictator, And a Nation's Future is in The Balance A brutal regime is fighting, bloodily, for its life." Robert Fisk reports from the streets of Cairo via Information Clearing house Jan. 29, 2011

"The Independent" -- It might be the end. It is certainly the beginning of the end. Across Egypt, tens of thousands of Arabs braved tear gas, water cannons, stun grenades and live fire yesterday to demand the removal of Hosni Mubarak after more than 30 years of dictatorship.

How does one describe a day that may prove to be so giant a page in Egypt's history? Maybe reporters should abandon their analyses and just tell the tale of what happened from morning to night in one of the world's most ancient cities. So here it is, the story from my notes, scribbled amid a defiant people in the face of thousands of plainclothes and uniformed police.

It began at the Istikama mosque on Giza Square: a grim thoroughfare of gaunt concrete apartment blocks and a line of riot police that stretched as far as the Nile. We all knew that Mohamed ElBaradei would be there for midday prayers and, at first, the crowd seemed small. The cops smoked cigarettes. If this was the end of the reign of Mubarak, it was a pretty unimpressive start.

But then, no sooner had the last prayers been uttered than the crowd of worshippers, perched above the highway, turned towards the police. "Mubarak, Mubarak," they shouted. "Saudi Arabia is waiting for you." That's when the water cannons were turned on the crowd – the police had every intention of fighting them even though not a stone had been thrown. The water smashed into the crowd and then the hoses were pointed directly at ElBaradei, who reeled back, drenched.

He had returned from Vienna a few hours earlier and few Egyptians think he will run Egypt – he claims to want to be a negotiator – but this was a disgrace. Egypt's most honoured politician, a Nobel prize winner who had held the post of the UN's top nuclear inspector, was drenched like a street urchin. That's what Mubarak thought of him, I suppose: just another trouble maker with a "hidden agenda" – that really is the language the Egyptian government is using right now.

And then the tear gas burst over the crowds. Perhaps there were a few thousand now, but as I walked beside them, something remarkable happened. From apartment blocks and dingy alleyways, from neighbouring streets, hundreds and then thousands of Egyptians swarmed on to the highway leading to Tahrir Square. This is the one tactic the police had decided to prevent. To have Mubarak's detractors in the very centre of Cairo would suggest that his rule was already over. The government had already cut the internet – slicing off Egypt from the rest of the world – and killed all of the mobile phone signals. It made no difference.

"We want the regime to fall," the crowds screamed. Not perhaps the most memorable cry of revolution but they shouted it again and again until they drowned out the pop of tear gas grenades. From all over Cairo they surged into the city, middle-class youngsters from Gazira, the poor from the slums of Beaulak al-Daqrour, marching steadily across the Nile bridges like an army – which, I guess, was what they were.

Still the gas grenades showered over them. Coughing and retching, they marched on. Many held their coats over their mouths or queued at a lemon shop where the owner squeezed fresh fruit into their mouths. Lemon juice – an antidote to tear gas – poured across the pavement into the gutter.

This was Cairo, of course, but these protests were taking place all over Egypt, not least in Suez, where 13 Egyptians have so far been killed. The demonstrations began not just at mosques but at Coptic churches. "I am a Christian, but I am an Egyptian first," a man called Mina told me. "I want Mubarak to go." And that is when the first bataggi arrived, pushing to the front of the police ranks in order to attack the protesters. They had metal rods and police truncheons – from where? – and sharpened sticks, and could be prosecuted for serious crimes if Mubarak's regime falls. They were vicious. One man whipped a youth over the back with a long yellow cable. He howled with pain. Across the city, the cops stood in ranks, legions of them, the sun glinting on their visors. The crowd were supposed to be afraid, but the police looked ugly, like hooded birds. Then the protesters reached the east bank of the Nile.

and so it goes,

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