Monday, February 14, 2011

Under the (Egyptian) volcano


By Pepe Escobar
Asia Times

"The party - and what a party - is over. Now it's hangover time - and what a hangover. Meet the new boss, or the Pharaoh rebuilt as Shiva; the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces. If this was Southeast Asia, people would say "same same - but different".

Instead of a police state, it's communique time (talk about a throwback to the 1970s). President and vice president dissolved. Parliament dissolved (but with Pharaoh-appointed Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq insisting the current kangaroo cabinet will be in place for that "orderly transition".) Constitution suspended.

The army trying to impose the notion it will run Egypt for the next six months. Vaguely sinister expected curbs on strikes and "chaos and disorder".

What can a Democrat, Nobel Peace Prize President of the United States do, except to support a military coup? (Yet another throwback to the 1960s and 1970s). Recap: the White House and the State Department wanted Hosni Mubarak gone. But Saudi Arabia, Israel and the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) badly wanted him to stay. While Mubarak - like a trashy dyed-hair version of Louis XVI - fought for his own survival, Vice President Omar "Sheikh al-Torture" Suleiman, endorsed by Washington and Brussels, fought for the survival of the regime (as in "orderly transition"), and Washington fought for the survival of one of the crucial pillars of "stability" in the Middle East. The street was fighting for their lives. .......

Way beyond the inevitable clash in Egypt of demographic explosion and economic crisis, what is literally freaking out the West is that its elites know what the vast majority of Egyptians don't want. A truly democratic, sovereign Egyptian government cannot possibly remain a slave of US foreign policy.

Things may start at a minimum with lifting the siege of Gaza and re-examining the export of natural gas to Israel at subsidized rates; then they will move to reconsidering the safe passage of the US Navy in the Suez Canal and finally rediscuss the holy of holies - the 1979 Camp David accords with Israel.

From now on, any increasing degree of freedom enjoyed by Egypt will be directly proportional to the increasing degree of fear felt by Washington, Tel Aviv and Riyadh. It's fair to say that at this stage the Egyptian street keeps close to its heart those that supported it - from al-Jazeera and assorted Arab nationalists to Hezbollah in Lebanon. And knows very well those that despised it - from the House of Saud and assorted Wahhabi extremists to Israel. No one will forget that Saudi King Abdullah accused the street of "meddling in the security and stability of Arab and Muslim Egypt".

The key slogan of the revolution has been "The people want the downfall of the regime". It has already generated a spin-off; "The people want the liberation of Palestine". Stay glued to the weather reports; the real volcano has not even erupted. "

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