Saturday, June 23, 2012

Egypt's democratic revolution is being crushed by a slow-motion coup

The west can, and must, use its influence to curb Egypt's generals

The Observer, Saturday 23 June 2012

"Whatever the final results of Egypt's presidential elections, due to be announced today, it is fair to say that one thing has not changed since the advent of the Arab Spring – the grip of the country's generals on the country's post-Hosni Mubarak politics.

Egypt's "deep state" – represented by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces backed by powerful former regime interests in both business and the media – has moved at every turn to undermine the transition to democracy.

It has dissolved the Muslim Brotherhood-dominated parliament which was elected in January in what were largely regarded as free and fair elections. The military, too, has pursued young revolutionaries through the courts and with live ammunition when they have dared to protest, leading to more than 1,000 deaths since the revolution. The remnants of the old regime – known as the felool – have prosecuted foreign NGOs, attempted to portray foreigners as spies and agents provocateurs, while doing their best to undermine the writing of a new constitution that the "deep state" fears might introduce civilian oversight into its murky dealings, not least its monopolisation of large parts of Egypt's economy.

The reason for these tactics is clear. They are designed not only to protect the military's own interests but also to encourage a state of chaos and thereby persuade the Egyptian electorate that stability at any cost is better than the present situation. On Friday the military, in an act of astonishing chutzpah, attempted to blame the Muslim Brotherhood for the confusion it has itself been instrumental in sowing, through the party's allegedly premature claims to have won the election. At the same time the ruling council unashamedly defended its constitutional decree limiting the power of the new president.

Many are fearful that the generals are planning to hand power – whatever the real result in a close and not very clean electionto Ahmed Shafiq, Mubarak's last prime minister and embodiment of the old regime.

The decree also gives the generals power to enact legislation in the absence of a parliament while allowing it a key role in any future constitutional negotiations. Rejecting demands that they reverse their dissolution of parliament and their grasp on power, the generals defended their move instead, saying it was for the good of the country "during this critical period".

The tone of the televised statement from the ruling military council was a blunt warning to Egyptians about where real power lay – an instruction to behave or face the consequences. The reality is that even if – after what appear to be behind-the-scenes negotiations between the generals and the Brotherhood – the Brotherhood's candidate Mohamed Morsi is declared the victor, the result may be meaningless. For its part the Brotherhood, aware of the escalating nature of the crisis, has attempted to forge a belated front with other parties and revolutionary groups in a bid to resist the army's latest manoeuvres.

In all of this the international community has acted as willing collaborators with the generals, refusing to speak out even in the midst of what appears to many to be a slow-moving and soft coup d'etat. The United States, which provides the military with $1.3bn in aid, is most guilty in this respect, but the British Foreign Office and other European capitals have hardly been better. There are, however, signs that even the US may be running out of patience with the generals' unwillingness to hand over power to civilian rule. Warnings have issued from the State Department that aid is contingent on political transition.

The outcome of the struggle under way in Egypt is critical, too, not just for that country's weary inhabitants but for the wider region which has witnessed the promise of the Arab Spring transformed increasingly into a bitter competition between different players.
Failure of the revolution and transition in Egypt would have far-reaching consequences. For now, at least, the junta remains susceptible to external pressure."

Al-Jazeera Video: Al Jazeera's correspondent Jamal Elshayyal reports from Cairo

Al-Jazeera Video: Anticipation and expectation in Tahrir

Real News Video : Protesters Flood Tahrir Square in Anticipation of Election Results

Tens of thousands of protesters packed into Tahrir Square Friday night vowing another uprising if the pro-military candidate Ahmed Shafiq is announced president.

More at The Real News

Egyptians don't care about Hosni Mubarak's health scares

Mubarak might be on his back but his regime is very much on its legs, upright and determined to crush our revolution

By Mona Eltahawy, Saturday 23 June 2012

"Hosni Mubarak, our 84-year old ousted dictator, has spent another night outside the prison cell where he's been sentenced to spend whatever remains of his life. A health scare that began as a stroke, according to state-controlled media, but ended up being attributed by his lawyer to a "slip in the bathroom", ensured that he was moved into the welcoming environs of a military hospital.

It was not the first time that Mubarak has supposedly suffered a stroke, fallen into a coma, been on life support or all of the above. Ever since street protests forced the ruling military junta to put him on trial last year, he has been on the verge of death so many times that once he actually does die it is easy to imagine that the news will be greeted in much the same way as this latest health scare: we don't care......

It is not just Mubarak who is supposedly fighting for his life; that military rule too is determined to hold on. A series of blatant power grabs over the past couple of weeks that have dissolved parliament and attempt to curb the powers of whoever is our next president, are also reminders that the military junta feels the need to remind us that it's in charge.

The Muslim Brotherhood movement – whose heart, let's be honest, was never fully into the revolution but whose candidate Mohamed Morsi might be that next president – has since Mubarak's ouster been busy with its own power grabbing and on-again-off-again ability or willingness to stand up to the military junta and for the goals of our revolution: bread, liberty and social justice.

So you'll excuse us if Mubarak's health "scares" are less significant to most people here in Egypt than they are to the foreign media....."

What about women’s rights in Egypt?

By Joseph Mayton
Bikya Masr

"CAIRO: Egypt is in full protest mode once again. Tens of thousands are packing Cairo’s Tahrir Square to once more demand an end to the military control over the country. As anger and uncertainty reign in the country, women remain on the outside looking in, fearful of heading down to the square to show their support. The reason is simple: they are attacked, assaulted, groped and harassed throughout the square.....

This is the current, modern Egypt that exists. And one where women are silenced from public. The use of violence and harassment against all women in this country is the main social problem that is barring any real and viable change from occurring.

If Egypt is to see the success of the revolution then women, and violence against them, must be battled at every step.

A constitution and election are important. But a country where women live in fear of walking down their streets, anywhere, is not a country that has a bright future."

Egypt transitions away from democracy

By Sherine Tadros
Al-Masry Al-Youm


Welcome to Egyptistan. Pakistan is the model being replicated in Egypt. Why? Because Uncle Sam prefers it this way (to maintain control) and the Muslim Brothers don't mind as long as they have a tiny share of "power."

"On 1 July, Egypt’s military rulers have promised to “hand over” power in a grand ceremony to be broadcast across the world.

But the real show has been happening over the last 16 months as they have cleverly managed to keep the facade of a “transition process” alive despite their crackdowns, unilateral law-making and ever tightening grip on the country.

Every step along this never-ending transition, Egyptians have felt robbed. They were given the right to choose, only to have that choice exploited, manipulated and, ultimately, ignored......

Enter the Brotherhood

Of course it takes two to mess a transition up this badly. The Muslim Brotherhood’s insistence on pushing for elections to capitalize on pro-revolution fervor and the disorganization of liberal and secular parties took the country full circle, leading to power battle between the Brotherhood and the regime. A struggle is taking place with no set parameters, no permanent constitution, just the rules made up by the unelected military rulers.

Many blame the Brotherhood for their failure to achieve anything substantial in the past few months despite their dominant role in Parliament. But their power to legislate was greatly curbed, and had to always be sanctioned by the junta. A defining moment for the People’s Assembly was when they passed the so called “Political Isolation Law” to ban former senior members of Mubarak’s regime from running for the presidency.

The law was passed only days away from the presidential election’s first round. The law, although ratified by the SCAF, was deemed unconstitutional by the Supreme Constitutional Court (on the same day it effectively disbanded Parliament), thus securing the place of presidential candidate Ahmed Shafiq (Mubarak’s last prime minister) in the election runoff.

The Parliament’s other important task was to pick the 100-member Constituent Assembly to draft a new constitution. On 10 April, Cairo’s Administrative Court suspended the assembly because it was dominated by Islamists and was not representative of other groups. The Brotherhood did in fact dominate the assembly — not only through allocating themselves 38 out of the 50 seats reserved for parliamentarians, but also through ensuring those reserved for unions and syndicate representatives were, let’s say, “Brotherhood friendly.”

The result was a mass walk out by seculars, liberals, the Church, Al-Azhar and others. The second attempt at forming a Constituent Assembly is quickly going down the same path, which could lead to the SCAF taking over the entire process of constitution writing. Every time the Brotherhood makes a wrong move, the SCAF is the sole beneficiary.

In the end, the revolution’s greatest asset became the biggest hindrance to its success — lack of leadership. Into the brief power vacuum left behind by Hosni Mubarak, leapt a military elite that quickly proved how easy it is to turn a spontaneous uprising into a coup."

Video: سامح نجيب: مستقبل الثورة المصرية بعد انتخابات الرئاسة

From Hossam El-Hamalawy

اليسار الثوري والإخوان المسلمون

الجبهة الثورية في مواجهة الإنقلاب

Friday, June 22, 2012

Saudi Arabia plans to fund Syria rebel army

Exclusive: Command centre in Turkey organising weapon supply to opposition


A Syrian Karzai is needed immediately. A very attractive pay package guaranteed by Saudi Arabia. Submit applications for screening, c/o:

Senator Joseph Lieberman,
706 Hart Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

Martin Chulov in Beirut, Ewen MacAskill in Washington, John Densky in Idlib province, Friday 22 June 2012

"Saudi officials are preparing to pay the salaries of the Free Syria Army as a means of encouraging mass defections from the military and increasing pressure on the Assad regime, the Guardian has learned.

The move, which has been discussed between Riyadh and senior officials in the US and Arab world, is believed to be gaining momentum as a recent flush of weapons sent to rebel forces by Saudi Arabia and Qatar starts to make an impact on battlefields in Syria.

Officials in the Saudi capital embraced the idea when it was put to them by Arab officials in May, according to sources in three Arab states, around the same time that weapons started to flow across the southern Turkish border into the hands of Free Syria Army leaders.

Turkey has also allowed the establishment of a command centre in Istanbul which is co-ordinating supply lines in consultation with FSA leaders inside Syria. The centre is believed to be staffed by up to 22 people, most of them Syrian nationals.....

The US senator Joe Lieberman, who is actively supporting the Syrian opposition, discussed the issue of FSA salaries during a recent trip to Lebanon and Saudi Arabia.....

Diplomatic sources have told the Guardian two US intelligence officers were in Syria's third city of Homs between December and early February, trying to establish command and control within rebel ranks.

Interviews with officials in three states reveal the influx of weapons – which includes kalashnikovs, rocket propelled grenades and anti-tank missiles – started in mid-May, when Saudi Arabia and Qatar finally moved on pledges they had made in February and March to arm rebel forces.

The officials, who insisted on anonymity, said the final agreement to move weapons from storage points inside Turkey into rebel hands was hard won, with Ankara first insisting on diplomatic cover from the Arab states and the US......"

Al-Jazeera Video: Egyptians united in call for civilian rule

"Thousands of Egyptians are back on the streets of Cairo.

Revolutionary groups and supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood seem to be united in their call for civilian rule.

They want the parliament reinstated and the ruling military council to hand over power to the new president.

Al Jazeera's Mike Hanna reports from Cairo."

Real News Video (with Transcript): Will Ecuador Give Assange Asylum?

Ray McGovern: Washington Post threatens Ecuador if Wikileaks founder given asylum

More at The Real News

Election Results, by Emad Hajjaj

Israel's 'price tag' terrorism has tactical political goals

By Jonathan Cook
The National
Jun 22, 2012

"Violent, so-called "price tag" attacks by Jewish settlers have become a staple of life for Palestinian communities over the past few months. The latest is the torching this week of a mosque in the village of Jaba, close to the city of Ramallah.

Palestinians in areas of the West Bank under Israeli control live with settler neighbours who beat and shoot them, set alight fields, poison wells, kill livestock and steal crops. These acts of terror have begun to spread elsewhere: homes, cars, cemeteries, mosques and churches are now targets in East Jerusalem and Israel too. Earlier this month a school and several cars were vandalised in Neve Shalom, the only genuinely mixed Jewish-Arab community in Israel.

Invariably the "price" invoked by the settlers is unrelated to any Palestinian action. Instead Palestinians are punished indiscriminately for the smallest concession the settlers fear Israel might make in the diplomatic arena.......

Ordinary Israelis are likewise adopting a mood that chimes with that of the settlers. The mounting documentary evidence of the settlers' brutality, difficult for Israelis to ignore or deny, is rapidly hardening public opinion.

This toughening of public emotion leaves Israelis both indifferent to the suffering of Palestinians and in a mood for violence and vengeance towards any non-Jews who share their state, including not only 1.5 million Palestinian citizens but also migrant workers and now African asylum-seekers.

Once Israelis longed to believe in their own mythical slogans of ethical superiority: they had the "most moral army in the world" and their soldiers, as Golda Meir famously observed, suffered uniquely from an oversensitivity syndrome termed "shoot and cry".

Nowadays, even the pretence of soul-searching is gone. If Israelis have a current motto, it is "shoot and shrug your shoulders"."

Real News Video : Brotherhood Threatens Uprising as Egypt's Generals Postpone Election Results

Egyptians speculate whether Muslim Brotherhood's candidate Mohammed Morsy or former Mubarak PM Ahmed Shafiq won election after the military junta delays results

More at The Real News

Real News Video (with Transcript): Max Blumenthal Resigns Al Akhbar Over Syria Coverage

Max Blumenthal discusses his article, "The right to resist is universal: A farewell to Al Akhbar and Assad's apologists"


More at The Real News

Al-Jazeera Video: The latest from Cairo's Tahrir Square

Leading Syrians prepare to defect

Members of Bashar al-Assad's inner circle 'making secret plans to defect' as Syria air force colonel abandons attack mission and flies MiG to Jordan.

The Telegraph

"Members of Bashar al-Assad’s inner circle are secretly making plans to defect to the opposition should the Syrian regime become critically threatened by the rebellion, US officials have told The Daily Telegraph.

Senior military figures are understood to be laying down “exit strategies” and establishing lines of communication with the rebels to discuss how they would be received if they deserted.

On Thursday a Syrian air force colonel became the first senior officer to defect in an aircraft after he abandoned a mission to attack the city of Dera’a and landed his MiG 21 fighter jet in Jordan.

The Daily Telegraph understands that the pilots of three other MiGs on the mission also considered defecting, but were worried about being turned away.....

However, a senior US official in Washington said some of those closest to the Syrian leader were now preparing to flee. “We are seeing members of Bashar al-Assad’s inner circle make plans to leave,” the official said.

This has even included moving large sums of money offshore into Lebanese and Chinese banks and making contact with opposition elements and Western governments.

Syrian opposition groups confirmed that they were actively courting American help to encourage more defections.

One senior opposition source said: “I know for sure there are some high-ranking officers who are waiting for the right chance to defect.

“We have names of people in the presidential palace. There are rumours that there is one who is really close to the president and we are expecting to see him out of the country soon.”....."

1.5 million Syrians need humanitarian help: U.N.

"(Reuters) - The number of people needing humanitarian assistance in Syria has risen to 1.5 million from the previous estimate of 1 million as escalating violence drives more people from their homes, the United Nations said on Friday.

Aid agencies face "significant" constraints in reaching growing numbers of civilians who need basic goods and protection, it said.

"Up to 1.5 million people now need humanitarian assistance in Syria," Jens Laerke, spokesman for the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), told a news briefing in Geneva.

They include 350,000 in northern Idlib province and some 250,000 in the flashpoint city of Homs, where more than 100 public buildings have been turned into temporary shelters for people who have fled their homes, an OCHA statement said....."

Thursday, June 21, 2012



A Great Cartoon by Carlos Latuff

(Click on cartoon to enlarge)

Al-Jazeera Video: Jane Ferguson reports from Gaza

"Two more Palestinians have been killed in Israeli airstrikes
on the Gaza Strip.
That takes the death toll to nine since the fighting along the Israeli-Gaza border began on Monday.

Children are believed to be among the dead.

Hamas has fired dozens of rockets into Israel.

Al Jazeera's Jane Ferguson reports."

Julian Assange’s Artful Dodge

by Ray McGovern, June 21, 2012

"Barring a CIA drone strike on the Ecuadorian embassy in London, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s sudden appeal for asylum there may spare him a prison stay in Sweden or possibly the United States. Assange’s freedom now depends largely on Ecuadorian President Rafael Vicente Correa Delgado, a new breed of independent-minded leader like Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez.

Correa has been a harsh critic of U.S. behavior toward Ecuador and its Latin American neighbors as well as an outspoken fan of WikiLeaks. Atypically for the region, Ecuador is not a major recipient of U.S. economic or military aid, so Washington’s leverage is limited. This suggests that the Ecuadorian government may decide to defy Washington, accept Assange’s request for asylum, and have him flown to Ecuador pronto....."

Current Al-Jazeera (Arabic) Online Poll

Is the delay in announcing the results of Egypt's presidential elections due to technical or political reasons?

With about 700 responding, 90% said political reasons.

Only the military are guaranteed victory in this Egyptian election

Returning to Cairo, Robert Fisk finds the city gripped by the demise of its former president – but fearing the outcome of the vote to decide his successor

By Robert Fisk

"Hosni Mubarak's ghost – whether or not he is still alive at midday – will preside over today's Egyptian presidential election results. For Ahmed Shafik and Mohamed Morsi represent the two faces of the narrative which Mubarak always used to maintain his power: stability or the Islamist nightmare. Shafik, Mubarak's last Prime Minister, is the "stability" candidate who has already claimed victory. Morsi is the Muslim Brotherhood man who has already claimed victory. Add to this the childish and arrogant claim by the army and its greedy field marshal, Mohamed Tantawi, to hold on to all its privileges, no matter how Egyptians have voted, and today promises to be one of those bookmarkers that historians love.....

More likely – and here comes the corrosive politics of the old Egypt – there will be tantalising opportunities held out. If Morsi is declared President, the army can trumpet their loyalty to the winner of a democratic election while ensuring that he remains muzzled. And the Brotherhood, let us remember, were negotiating with Mubarak's government even while the protesters in Tahrir Square were still being shot down by the state security police. The idea that the largest Islamist movement in Egypt has spent its darkest years in clandestinity is not true; Mubarak, for his own reasons, encouraged them to participate in elections as independents; and the Brotherhood duly obliged.

In other words, the Brotherhood are not necessarily the other side of the emperor's coin. They can be stroked and bargained with, and lavished with false praise, and – as long as they do not try to dissolve the army and the security apparatus which has tortured them (literally) for so long – may well work within the system of the "deep state" which is emerging in Egypt.

This will not satisfy the real revolutionaries, the young and the brave and the intellectuals (not necessarily all the same) who feel so betrayed by the events of the past year-and-a-half. The ElBaradeis will still be there to speak up, along with the political failures of the first presidential poll. And the West will be there to bellow if their human rights are violated by either "winner" in the election results today. Ah, that Mubarak might live to see all this ..."

Syria crisis: colonel 'defects' as jet lands in Jordan

The Guardian

"12.14pm: Syria: Jordanian minister of state for information Samih al-Maaytah, has confirmed that the pilot has asked for asylum.
Reuters quoted him saying: "He requested political asylum in Jordan. He is being debriefed at the moment."

Military analysts reckon that Syria has 140 MiG 21 in service.

12.06pm: Syria: The Syrian fighter jet made an "emergency landing" at a northern Jordanian airbase, according to AP, citing a Jordanian official.

The official says the Russian-made MiG-21 landed Thursday at the King Hussein Air Base in Mafraq, a north Jordanian town near the Syrian border.

He declined to provide other details. Two other officials gave similar accounts.All three spoke on condition of anonymity, citing the sensitivity of the matter.

11.54am: Syria: It is highly unusual for the state news agency to give credence to reports about military defections.
But this brief statement, is giving the story legs....."

Guardian Video: Syrian cartoonist Ali Farzat: 'They broke my hands to stop me drawing Assad'

Ali Farzat founded in 2001 Syria's first satirical weekly, Ad Domari. In August 2011, he was attacked by Bashar al-Assad's militia who broke his hands. The incident prompted international condemnation of the Assad regime. Farzat was awarded the European parliament Sakharov prize for freedom of thought, Thursday 21 June 2012


Bahraini boy, 11, charged with helping protesters

Ali Hasan faces up to three years in jail if convicted as authorities refuse to believe he was merely playing in the street

Saeed Kamali Dehghan, Wednesday 20 June 2012

"Prosecutors in Bahrain have charged an 11-year-old boy with taking part in an illegal gathering, which could see him sent to jail.

Ali Hasan, a primary school pupil from the capital's suburban area of Bilad al-Qadeem, was picked up by security officials from his neighbourhood on accusations that he helped protesters block a street with rubbish containers and wood during anti-government demonstrations in the area last month. He subsequently spent nearly a month in a juvenile detention centre before being released last week to await trial.

Ali told the Guardian he was merely playing with friends in the street and had nothing to do with the protests.

"The verdict will be issued on 5 July," said Ali's lawyer, Shahzalan Khamees, who defended him at the juvenile criminal court in Manama on Wednesday. "They charged him with illegal gathering that has a few weeks up to three years imprisonment as punishment under the country's law." Ali was accompanied to court by his father, Jasem Hasan......"

Egypt: Military Power Grab Creates Conditions for Abuse

Decrees Embed Armed Forces’ Role in Law Enforcement

Human Rights Watch
June 21, 2012

"(New York) – Decrees issued by the Egyptian ruling military council and the Justice Minister in recent days sharply reduce civilian oversight of military actions, creating conditions ripe for further serious human rights violations, Human Rights Watch said today.

A June 4, 2012 Justice Ministry Decree empowers the military to arrest civilians. On June 17, the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) issued new Constitutional Declaration provisions that set out an expanded role for the military in civilian law enforcement, including continued trials of civilians before military courts. And a June 18 decree restructuring the National Defense Council gives the military expanded decision-making powers on internal as well as national security issues, Human Rights Watch said.

The generals’ relentless expansion of their authority to detain and try civilians now goes far beyond their powers under Hosni Mubarak,” said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “These decrees are the latest indication yet that there won’t be a meaningful handover to civilian rule on June 30.”......"

Mubarak coverage takes away from real issues in Egypt

By Joseph Mayton
Bikya Masr

The Last Pharaoh?

"CAIRO: In the late hours of Tuesday evening, foreign media began calling off the hook, asking whether Egypt’s former dictator Hosni Mubarak was dead. What was the situation? How will his death affect the country? A whole gamut of questions were being launched.

The international media, especially the American press, has taken the Mubarak story and run with it, with even one headline attempting to push the idea that Mubarak’s health issues were part of the political tension in the country. How wrong they are, but we should be used to this by now.....

It is a sad reality that American editors appear unreasonably fixated on what they know. Mubarak was in the spotlight for three decades, albeit destroying the country he ruled, but now as he lies on his death bed, there appears to be some nostalgia from American media, many of whom had met the dictator personally.

At the end of the day, Egypt and its people, have more important things to deal with. Fuel shortages, democracy being killed and the future of their country is under threat. Mubarak’s health is not an issue people care much about.

If you don’t agree, think about this: when state TV reported last night that Mubarak’s heart stopped, the cafe I was sitting at did not switch to the news, instead they allowed the England versus Ukraine match to finish. Football trumped Mubarak in Egypt, but not the US."

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

A Coup in Cairo: As Muslim Brotherhood Claims Election Victory, Military Strips President of Power

Democracy Now!

"Sharif Abdel Kouddous reports from Egypt on the country’s growing political crisis. Former President Hosni Mubarak is on life support, both candidates claim to have won last weekend’s election, and the ruling military council has seized greater power. Official presidential election results are not expected to be announced until Thursday. Tens of thousands of Egyptians protested Tuesday night in Cairo’s Tahrir Square in a rally called by the Muslim Brotherhood, expressing outrage over the army’s decree late Sunday that it would seize all legislative powers. "Right now the country has no constitution, no parliament, and an incoming president that will have scant power," Kouddous says. "So, really, the military council is controlling the key branches of state. ... [It’s] perhaps a fitting end to this nonsensical transition that we’ve seen over the last 16 months."......."

Julian Assange of WikiLeaks Seeks Asylum in Ecuador In Attempt To Avoid Extradition to U.S.

Democracy Now!

"WikiLeaks’ founder Julian Assange has taken refuge in Ecuador’s embassy in London and asked for asylum. Assange made the move Tuesday in a last-ditch bid to avoid extradition to Sweden over sex crime accusations. Earlier today, police in London announced Assange is now subject to arrest because his decision to spend the night at the Ecuadorean embassy violated the conditions of his bail. Assange is seeking asylum because he fears extradition to Sweden may lead to his transfer to the United States where he could potentially face charges relating to Wikileaks. "In my view, it is a situation of political persecution of Julian Assange for his political activities," says Michael Ratner, a member of Assange’s legal team. "It fits in the asylum application procedure under the Declaration of Human Rights." In an apparent reference to the United States, an Ecuadorean official said Assange fears being extradited "to a country where espionage and treason are punished with the death penalty."....."

The Right to Resist is universal: a farewell to Al-Akhbar and Assad's apologists

by Max Blumenthal

I recently learned of a major exodus of key staffers at Al Akhbar caused at least in part by disagreements with the newspaper leadership’s pro-Assad tendency. The revelation helps explain why Al Akhbar English now prominently features the malevolent propaganda of Amal Saad Ghorayeb and the dillentantish quasi-analysis of Sharmine Narwani alongside editor-in-chief Ibrahim al-Amin’s friendly advice for Bashar Assad, whom he attempts to depict as an earnest reformer overwhelmed by events.
When I joined the fledgling Al Akhbar English website last fall, I was excited to contribute my writing on the Israel-Palestine situation and US foreign policy to a paper that I considered one of the most courageous publications in the Arab world. At the time, the Syrian uprising had just begun, and apparently, so had the debates inside Al Akhbar, which reflected the discussions within the wider Lebanese Left. Almost a year later, the results of the debate have become clear on the pages of the paper, where despite the presence of a few dissident voices, the apologia for Assad and his crimes has reached unbearable levels.
I was forced to conclude that unless I was prepared to spend endless stores of energy jousting with Assad apologists, I was merely providing them cover by keeping my name and reputation associated with Al Akhbar. More importantly, I decided that if I kept quiet any longer, I would be betraying my principles and those of the people who have encouraged and inspired me over the years. There is simply no excuse for me to remain involved for another day with such a morally compromised outlet. And so, instead of preparing to throw up in my own mouth each time I click on one of the pro-regime op-eds appearing with regularity on Al Akhbar English’s home page, I am washing my hands of the whole operation.

المجلس العسكري بمصر طمأن إسرائيل

Barak: Look! He Sits When I Order Him to! Good Dog.


"كشفت تقارير إعلامية إسرائيلية اليوم الأربعاء أن المجلس العسكري الحاكم في مصر وعد بعدم المس بـالعلاقات المصرية الإسرائيلية أيًّا كانت نتائج انتخابات الرئاسة المصرية. جاء ذلك خلال لقاء جمع مسؤولين من المجلس بالمبعوث الخاص لرئيس الوزراء الإسرائيلي بنيامين نتنياهو.

وذكرت صحيفة "معاريف" أن المجلس العسكري المصري سلّم مؤخرا يتسحاق مولخو، مبعوث نتانياهو رسالة تهدئة جاء فيها "أيًّا كانت نتائج انتخابات الرئاسة المصرية فإنه لن يتم المس بالعلاقات المصرية الإسرائيلية".

وأضافت أن مسؤولين بالمجلس العسكري التقوا مولخو وأبلغوه أن الجيش المصري سيبقى الجهة المسؤولة عن العلاقات مع إسرائيل وحماية اتفاقية السلام بين الدولتين، وأنه "
لن يتم المس بأي جانب من العلاقات مع إسرائيل سواء كان أمنيا أو سياسيا أو اقتصاديا

Al-Jazeera Video: US to extend military presence in Kuwait

"The United States is planning to extend its military presence in Kuwait.

The latest report from Congress said 15,000 US troops are already stationed in the tiny Gulf country.

It said more troops are need to respond to sudden conflicts in the region.

Iran, Iraq and the ability to keep oil flowing from Saudi Arabia are major concerns for the world's biggest economy.

Al Jazeera's Rosiland Jordan reports from Washington."

Gaza Experiment: Mere Words Will Not Help Solve Gaza Crisis

By Ramzy Baroud
Palestine Chronicle

".....Despite all evidence that the Israeli siege on Gaza is part of a well-orchestrated political and military campaign, many insist on seeing it as an issue concerning household supplies, gasoline and foodstuff. Indeed, with 31 per cent unemployment, and more than 75 per cent of the population reliant on international aid, Gaza is suffering a humanitarian crisis. But that crisis can never be truly appreciated without a thorough understanding of the political underpinnings of Israel’s ultimate objectives in Gaza and the rest of Palestine. The Gaza siege is an Israeli political decision that must be addressed and resisted as such. It should never be allowed to exist as yet another status quo, generating a few words of censure but no meaningful action."

It's Ecuador or Guantanamo

By Pepe Escobar
Asia times

"WikiLeaks superstar Julian Assange, apparently despairing of finding justice elsewhere in Europe and aware a trial for alleged rape in Stockholm could lead to a cell in Guantanamo, sees his brightest future in the hands of Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa - and freedom at the door of the South American country's embassy in London....."

Alice Walker refuses to allow Israelis to publish edition of Color Purple

Pulitzer Prize-winner cites 'apartheid and persecution of the Palestinian people'

Donald Macintyre
The Independent

"The celebrated US author Alice Walker has refused to allow a new Israeli edition of her Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, The Color Purple, in protest at what she calls Israel's policy of "apartheid and persecution of the Palestinian people".

The African-American writer, who is active in the international Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel, has written to the Israeli publisher, Yedhiot Books, saying she cannot permit publication of the book "at this time".

In the letter, made public by the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott on Israel, she invokes a comparison with the decision not to show the 1985 Steven Spielberg film of her novel in South Africa before the end of apartheid. A version of Ms Walker's classic story of an abused black woman set in the segregated US Deep South of the early 20th century was published in Hebrew in the 1980s.

But she says the testimony heard last year from Israelis and Palestinians by the private Russell Tribunal on Palestine, of which she was a member, was "devastating". The tribunal, which investigates alleged war crimes, has no legal status and is modelled on one set up during the Vietnam War by the philosopher Bertrand Russell and other intellectuals.

Ms Walker adds that having grown up "under American apartheid" she found that Israel's treatment of the Palestinians was "far worse"......"

Syria: Reports of helicopter shipments underscore need for arms embargo

Amnesty International

19 June 2012

"The increased use of helicopters by the Syrian army is putting civilians at even greater risk and further strengthens the case for an international arms embargo, Amnesty International said today amid reports that a Russian ship carrying strike helicopters to Syria had been stopped in the North Sea.

The UK Foreign Office said on Tuesday that it was “aware of a ship carrying a consignment of refurbished Russian-made attack helicopters heading to Syria”. The ship is now reported to be returning to Russia after its insurance was revoked.

"As confrontations between the Syrian army and armed opposition groups have intensified in recent weeks, the Syrian army seems to be resorting ever more to the use of combat helicopters, which risks increasing civilian casualties,” said Donatella Rovera, Amnesty International’s Senior Crisis Adviser, who has just returned from spending several weeks in Syria, where she met victims of indiscriminate fire from helicopters in the north of the country.

“In this context, anyone supplying attack helicopters – or maintaining, repairing or upgrading them – for the Syrian government displays a wanton disregard for humanity.”......

In the course of its research work in Syria during April and May, Amnesty International has found that helicopters have regularly been used for cover and surveillance during ground operations.Helicopters have also been used to fire machine guns and reportedly rockets. As with other arms, Syrian forces have used helicopters recklessly, leading to civilian casualties.In many areas Amnesty International visited in May and June, residents described how the army swept into their town or village with dozens of tanks and armoured vehicles, in some cases backed up by combat helicopters, firing indiscriminately and targeting those trying to flee......."

Egypt: Unrestrained army powers threat to human rights

Amnesty International

"Egypt's ruling military council’s decision to grant itself unrestrained powers, ahead of the results of the presidential elections, sets the country on the path to further human rights violations, Amnesty International said.

Unless these powers are curtailed, the organization has warned, the military will be able to continue to trample on human rights with impunity.

Egypt’s Constitutional Declaration, issued in March last year, gave the army the power to rule until Egyptians elect a president and a parliament. However, on Sunday the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), amended the Declaration to give themselves control over all matters relating to the armed forces. The amendments effectively remove the army from civilian oversight.

A key amendment permits Egypt’s President to call on the army to combat “internal unrest”. If this came to pass, Egyptian law would have to specify the army’s jurisdiction, its powers of arrest and detention, and conditions where it is entitled to use force .

“It is deeply worrying that the army has paved the way for it to continue to arrest and detain civilians, as well as to use force against protesters, with no effective oversight of their actions,” said Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s Director for the Middle East and North Africa.

The Egyptian army – with its poor human rights record – should in no circumstances have the powers of arrest, detention and investigation over civilians".

Amnesty International has documented serious human rights abuses by the Egyptian army since it took power in February 2011......."

Carter Center can’t say if Egypt elections fair

Bikya Masr


I still say that the results of this election have been cooked in advance. Indications that Ahmed Shafiq will be declared the winner are multiplying. Now, the Elections Commission expects official results later than Thursday. More time is needed to prepare for the expected rage on the streets after that declaration. There was one story that SCAF will declare a general curfew for the day of announcement.

Stay tuned.

"CAIRO: American election monitoring organization The Carter Center on Tuesday could not say whether Egypt’s recent presidential election was free and fair. The group, which had been in Egypt observing the voting process, said in a statement that they did not have enough access to polling station and voters.

They also accused the military junta in the country of being a force against the transition to democracy in Egypt.

The Carter Center said it had been unable to monitor the vote properly and that a “return of elements of martial law” meant it was “now unclear whether a truly democratic transition remains under way in Egypt.”....

The group complained of late accreditation to monitor the vote, limits on the amount of time it was allowed to stay in polling stations and said it was denied access to the central count.

“The restrictions are contrary to the core principles of credible and effective election observation and the Carter Center will not witness future elections in such circumstances,” the group said in a statement.

Beyond the election itself, the group said a court’s decision to dissolve the Islamist-dominated parliament and a decree from the ruling military council limiting the future president’s powers increased the risk that Egypt was not becoming the democracy that many had hoped for.

Ultimately, a truly democratic transition requires not just elections, but the full transfer of power to those elected civilian institutions,” the group said in a statement."

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Guardian Video: Palestinian refugees burn tyres in protest over man killed by Lebanese army

Palestinian refugees in the Beddawi camp in Tripoli, northern Lebanon, block roads by burning tyres after at least one Palestinian died in clashes with the Lebanese army. The violence on Monday erupted when Palestinians were trying to bury a man killed in clashes on Friday, Tuesday 19 June 2012

تعليق أولي على انتخاب الرئيس

By Azmi Bishara


For once I find myself in disagreement with Azmi when it comes to his views on SCAF and its latest military coup in Egypt.

Azmi is still unrealistically sanguine about the democratic prospects and he is too trusting of and too charitable to the Egyptian junta.

"بدأت عملية التحول الديمقراطي

1. قلت في تعليق سابق أن التنافس سيكون قويا، وأن المقاطعة السياسية موقف خاطئ في هذه الظروف. ولكن ما مضى قد مصى، والمهم أن مرشح النظام السابق قد خسر الجولة، وتم تفويت الفرصة\الخطيرة لمحاولة ترميم لذلك النظام. ومع أن اي محاولة لترميم النظام سوف تفشل، ولكنها تكلف في كل مرة ثمنا وارباكا.

2. علينا أن ندرك انه ليس كل من صوّت لشفيق مؤيد للنظام القديم، وأن دوافع الكثير من مصوتيه كانت مخاوف متنوعة. ومجرد مخاطبة هذه المخاوف وتهدئتها سوف ينقلهم للتفاعل المجدد مع التعددية القائمة في قوى التغيير التي أنتجتها الثورة المصرية. والثورة المصرية لم تعد حزبا او تيارات بل هي عدة أحزاب وتيارات. ويجب أن نتعلم التسليم بذلك مع إمكانية توحيد بعض التيارات المتقاربة، ولكن لن يكون توحيد الجميع ممكنا.

3. مرة أخرى تم دحض التخويف من التزوير ونظريات المؤامرة من نوع أن اللعبة مباعة لشفيق. وسوف يلتزم المجلس العسكري بالجدول الزمني كما التزم حتى الآن. المشكلة أن البعض توقع من المجلس العسكري أن يكون ثوريا، وهو ليس كذلك، ولا هو ادعى ذلك، ولكن هذا لا يجعل منه خصما. فوجوده مهم لعملية التحول الديمقراطي. وما دامت قوى الثورة مقسّمة ولا تتبادل الثقة، والتنافس الانتخابي هو سيد العلاقة بينها، وستبقى كذلك، فلا بد من وجود قوة رسمية مستقلة، غير خاضعة لأي من الأحزاب والقوى، لكي تحفظ استمرارية الدولة وتضمن الانتقال الديمقراطي، بما في ذلك حتى ضمان عقد انتخابات قادمة. فقوى الثورة لم تتحول الى دولة. ويجب ان يحافظ على مؤسسة الدولة حتى ذلك الحين.

4. بدأت لتوها عملية الانتقال الديمقراطي في مصر، بوجود أول رئيس منتخب، وبتجاذبات وتفاعلات بين رؤوس مثلث: الرئيس المنتخب وحكومته وسلطاته التنفيذية، والمجلس العسكري ( الجيش)، والمجتمع المدني المصري الحيوي بأحزابه واتحاداته ورأيه العام الفاعل.

5. سوف يحفظ التوازن بين رؤوس المثلث الموصوف أعلاه التوازن الذي يمنع اي طرف من السيطرة الكاملة والاستحواذ على الدولة، وحتى من منع إجراء انتخابات وتداول للسلطة في المستقبل. سوف يحاول الرئيس توسيع صلاحياته، وكذلك سوف يفعل المجلس العسكري، وسوف يكون الرأي العام والمجتمع المدني والسياسي المصري لهما بالمرصاد، وسوف ينشأ عن هذا التفاعل مساومات تقود الى حلول في كل مرحلة، إلى أن ترسخ قواعد اللعبة الديمقراطية بين تشريع وتنفيذ وقضاء ويصبح الجيش تابعا للقرار السياسي، وليس طرفا في معادلة التجاذب والتوازن. وهذا ما يجب أن يكون مستقبلا.

6. المهمة الرئيسية حاليا هي وضع دستور ديمقراطي يضمن مبادئ الديمقراطية والحريات وحقوق المواطن. وليس الصراع مع المجلس العسكري هو المهمة الرئيسية حاليا، فالضغط عليه قائم على كل حال بالطرق الديمقراطية وبوجود المجتمع المدني الحي في مصر.

7. والمهمة التي تليها هي الإعداد لانتخابات السلطة التشريعية ومجلس الشعب.

8. والمهمة الأخيرة التي لا يمكن تأجيلها ويجب ان تبدأ فورا هي الاهتمام بالاقتصاد.

*عملية الانتقال الديمقراطي في مصر هي قضية عقد وسوف تتخلله أكثر من أزمة، ولكن لم يعد بوسع أحد أيقافها.

Al-Jazeera Video: Inside Story - Has Egypt's revolution been hijacked?

"Egypt's Supreme Military Council, SCAF has issued a series of amendments to its own Constitutional Declaration that effectively limit the powers of the country's incoming president, and many would argue, cement the authority of the army generals in this post-Mubarak era.

SCAF also seeks to control the drafting of Egypt's new consitution.

The once all-powerful position of president has been made largely ceremonial and the move to civilian rule has been put on hold in the interests of what the military calls "national stability"."

Al-Jazeera Video: Egypt's political crisis deepens

"Egypt's transition from dictatorship to democracy has been turned on its head. There is still no official winner in the country's presidential elections, and whoever is declared victor looks likely to occupy only a ceremonial role.

The ruling military council, SCAF, has decreed the new man will not be commander in chief, and that it alone will retain control over the budget. Opposition groups say the decision amounts to a coup.

Al Jazeera's Sherine Tadros reports from Cairo."

Leading article: The storm clouds are gathering over Egypt

The Independent
Tuesday 19 June 2012

".....The election has certainly proved a close-run thing. So much so that both sides are making early claims of victory, ahead of Thursday's official result. Although neither candidate merits unqualified support, it is Mr Morsi who must be preferred of the two. The election of Mr Shafik simply looks too much like a return to the bad old days, even more so in light of the military's latest moves.

That said, a Morsi presidency carries significant risks of its own. For all his efforts to cast himself as a liberal, the prospect of Islamist rule remains a disconcerting one. More concerning still, given recent developments, is that Mr Morsi may prove no more effective a break with the past than Mr Shafik. The Muslim Brotherhood was a latecomer to the protest movement, and has been a vocal supporter of the military council since. If the SCAF is bent on pulling the President's constitutional claws, it would be up to Mr Morsi to fight it. And whether or not he did so would determine Egypt's political future....."

Saudi Arabia ramps up clampdown on human rights activists

"A prominent Saudi Arabian human rights defender was brought before a Riyadh court on Monday on 11 activism-related charges in the latest example of what Amnesty International called a “troubling string of court cases” aimed at silencing human rights campaigners.

The charges against 46-year-old Mohammad Fahad al-Qahtani relate to his human rights activism. They include setting up an unlicensed organization, understood to be the Saudi Civil and Political Rights Association (ACPRA) of which he is a founding member, “breaking allegiance to the ruler”, accusing the judiciary of allowing torture and accepting confessions made under duress, describing the Saudi Arabian authorities as a police state, inciting public opinion by accusing authorities of human rights violations, and turning international organizations against the Kingdom.

His appearance in Riyadh’s Criminal Court is part of a series of recent trials aimed at silencing human rights activists in the Kingdom.

“The Saudi Arabian authorities’ trial of Mohammad al-Qahtani is just one of a troubling string of court cases aimed at silencing the Kingdom’s human rights activists,” said Philip Luther, Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Programme.

“The case against him should be thrown out of court as it appears to be based solely on his legitimate work to defend human rights in Saudi Arabia and his sharp criticism of the authorities.”

The Saudi Arabian authorities have recently targeted a number of human rights defenders, both through the courts and through arbitrary measures such as the imposition of travel bans......."

Egypt: From 'Election first' to 'SCAF first'

The military's latest decree will either crush dissent - or empower activists to retake the streets.

Larbi Sadiki

"The Supreme Council of Armed Forces (SCAF) may have just shot itself in the foot.
While Egypt and Egyptians have been engaging in one exercise to reclaim popular sovereignty , won on the back of a glorious revolution, SCAF has, seemingly, been scheming a different game: to stem the tide of revolution and fledgling democratisation, and usurp public office. This chapter of the Egyptian revolution will require close historical scrutiny.

In three days, SCAF has committed two massive blunders: on June 14, a judicial coup (the dissolution of the Lower House based on the unconstitutionality of the Elections Law and the Isolation Law, qanun al-'azl), aggravated by a constitutional coup (issuing non-democratic amendments to the interim constitution). The Field Marshal and company may turn out to be out of their depth for misusing law to uphold illegal practices.

In principle, by issuing the interim constitution, SCAF has suspended both Egypt's revolution and more than one year of popular voting in referendum, bicameral parliamentary elections and this weekend's presidential elections. Even the ousted president never exercised "dropping the writ" with such disregard for popular will.....

Three assets have been gained from Egypt's revolution, and they could prove fatal to SCAF.

First, Egypt now has leaders of all political colours. SCAF may have ignored this detail. What is certain is that, in the days to come (and it may not take as long as 18 days), SCAF will not be left alone ot go about its business.

Second, the fear that was psychologically conditioned by the apparatus of the pre-revolution state, coercive and otherwise, has for ever dissipated like the Egyptian winter morning fog on the streets and squares of resistance. That resistance, when weariness transpires, could come back to haunt SCAF's cavalier attitude, and animate Egypt's squares once more.

Last, the integration of Islamists in the political process is now unstoppable, and with all its imperfections, it provides a formidable pole and a bulwark against the deep state.

Today, they may be giving Egypt the taste of their first democratically elected president.

Tomorrow, who knows? An Egypt for all its people - Copt and Muslim, secular and Islamist and man and woman - in which SCAF is a mere footnote in the interval between dictatorship and good government. "

Monday, June 18, 2012

Current Al-Jazeera (Arabic) Online Poll

Do you expect a peaceful transition of power in Egypt?

With over 800 responding, 65% said no.

Time for Egypt to unite against the military

Refusing to take sides between the Muslim Brotherhood and a military awarding itself sweeping powers is self-indulgent folly

David Hearst, Monday 18 June 2012

"Millions of Egyptians went to bed last night thinking they had elected a president with full executive powers and woke up this morning in a military dictatorship. Just after the presidential polls closed, the generals granted themselves sweeping powers in a constitutional declaration that completes the coup started by dissolving parliament......

If the 1,200 young people said to have been killed during the uprising against Mubarak (plus 8,000 wounded) did not make their sacrifice in vain, the overwhelmingly clear mission of all those groups that took part in the revolution is to unite around a common purpose – to disband the military council, clear away the old regime, send the army back to the barracks and establish democratic institutions.

To continue to declare a plague on both their houses, meaning both the military and the Brotherhood, is not just self-indulgence. It is political folly, wherever you are on the secular or religious spectrum. The revolution has to finish first, and the important – less telegenic – part begins today."

Al-Jazeera Video: Egypt's military sets out its powers

"Egyptians are waking up to a new reality, The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces [SCAF], has made a last minute power grab leaving the new incoming president with very limited powers. On Sunday they made their terms explicit. Al Jazeera's Mike Hanna reports from Cairo."

Al-Jazeera Video: Update: the latest from Morsi and Shafiq headquarters

"People are gathering in Cairo's Tahrir Square just hours after the Muslim Brotherhood declared it's candidate will be Egypt's next president.

The group said Mohamed Morsi has won enough votes in Sunday's run-off to put him in charge of the Arab world's biggest country.

His rival Ahmed Shafik disputes the claim."

Occupy Will Be Back

By Chris Hedges

"In every conflict, insurgency, uprising and revolution I have covered as a foreign correspondent, the power elite used periods of dormancy, lulls and setbacks to write off the opposition. This is why obituaries for the Occupy movement are in vogue. And this is why the next groundswell of popular protest—and there will be one—will be labeled as “unexpected,” a “shock” and a “surprise.” The television pundits and talking heads, the columnists and academics who declare the movement dead are as out of touch with reality now as they were on Sept. 17 when New York City’s Zuccotti Park was occupied. Nothing this movement does will ever be seen by them as a success. Nothing it does will ever be good enough. Nothing, short of its dissolution and the funneling of its energy back into the political system, will be considered beneficial........

We live in a period of history the Canadian philosopher John Ralston Saul calls an interregnum, a period when we are enveloped in what he calls “a vacuum of economic thought,” a period when the reigning ideology, although it no longer corresponds to reality, has yet to be replaced with ideas that respond to the crisis engendered by the collapse of globalization. And the formulation of ideas, which are always at first the purview of a small, marginalized minority, is one of the fundamental tasks of the movement. It is as important to think about how we will live and to begin to reconfigure our lives as it is to resist......"

Egypt’s military junta says power transfer at end of month

By Joseph Mayton
Bikya Masr

"......But there is a caveat. Under the country’s previous constitution, the president was the head of the military, but on Sunday, a new constitutional declaration did away with that and puts the military in firm control of the country’s political and economic future.

Activists, politicians and observers say the move is paramount to a military coup in the country and makes the presidency weak and potentially impotent......

Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh, a former presidential candidate, warned that the declaration is a “full military coup that must be confronted.”"

Prediction Updated

By Tony Sayegh

In spite of the declarations of the Muslim Brothers that their candidate has won by a small margin, I stick by my earlier prediction that Ahmed Shafiq will be declared the winner. The official announcement will come Thursday.

Why am I so confident of my prediction? This election was stolen fair and square, and the result was determined even before the voting began.

SCAF's old dogs have many tricks up their sleeves, and will have the final word. For now they are letting the Brothers celebrate their imaginary "victory."

حكم القرين

حكم القرين
عبد الحليم قنديل

"في كتابي (الأيام الأخيرة) ـ صدرعام 2008 ـ رسمت صورة للمشهد السياسي في مصر عقب خلع مبارك، وتوقعت فوز جماعة الإخوان بالأكثرية، وبنفس النسب التي تحققت في أول انتخابات جرت بعد ثورة 25 يناير 2011، لكني توقعت أن يكون الحكم محنة لا نعمة للإخوان، ورجحت تراجعا منتظما في شعبية الإخوان، ولأسباب بدت منطقية جدا .
لم أكن وقتها أقرأ الرمل ولا أضرب الودع، بل بدت التوقعات مبنية على تحليل اجتماعي لجماعة الإخوان، وخاصة عند قيادتها بالذات، ودوائر التحكم في عملها، وهي ذات طابع يميني خالص لا تخطئه العين، فقيادة الإخوان تطرح الجماعة كحزب أمة، بينما هي ـ في الحقيقة ـ حزب طبقة، ومليارديراتها أقرب لنمط مليارديرات جماعة مبارك، وما من فارق جوهري بين ملياردير إخواني كالمهندس خيرت الشاطر ـ مثلا ـ وملياردير مباركي كالمهندس أحمد عز، فلهما ذات المصالح ، وربما نفس السلوك الاجتماعي، وذقن الشاطر مجرد قناع ديني، ولو حلق الشاطر لحيته لوجدنا تحتها وجه أحمد عز، والقصة أكبر من مشابهة أشخاص، إنه الشبه في العمق والجوهر، الشبه في السياسات الاقتصادية بالذات، فقد كانت جماعة مبارك عنوانا على اقتصاد سوق من نوع خاص جدا، كانت عنوانا على اقتصاد ريع لا اقتصاد إنتاج، وتبنت نوعا من الخصخصة عرفه المصريون باسم 'المصمصة'، وتضمن تجريفا كليا للقواعد الإنتاجية الكبرى، وتدميرا تاما للصناعة المصرية، وبيع ماتبقى منها للأجانب، والتفرغ لتأجير البلد كسكن استثماري، والتركيز على عوائد السياحة وعمل المصريين في الخارج والملاحة في قناة السويس، وجعل كلمة المستثمرين ـ أي المشترين ـ هي العليا في التشريع والتوجيه اليومي، وزيادة معدلات النهب العام إلى حدود جنونية، والنتيجة :
أن تكونت في مصر حالة ملغومة اجتماعيا، ففي مصر أغنى طبقة في المنطقة، وفيها أفقر شعب، والطبقة الأغنى في مصر أكثر ثراء من طبقة أمراء وأغنياء الخليج، وهي الطبقة ذاتها التي ينتمى إليها خيرت الشاطر وحسن مالك وغيرهم من مليارديرات جماعة الإخوان، ولا تكاد تلحظ لهؤلاء نشاطا إنتاجيا من أصله، بل مجرد توكيلات تجارية لشركات أجنبية، أو أنشطة مقاولات وممارسات طفيلية، وقد بدأوا بتكوين جمعية رجـــال أعمال على طريقة أقرانهم من جماعة مبارك، وتواجــــدوا فيـــــها جنبا إلى جنب مع رجال أعمال من جماعة مبارك، ويعيدون طــرح ذات القصص التي كانت تطرحها جماعة مبارك، ومن نوع اختيار مناطــــق استثمارية، والتوسع في تقديم إغراءات جاذبة للأجانب وشركائهم المحليين، ومضاعفة الإعفاءات الضريبية والجمركية، والحديث عن اتفـــاقات جاهزة مع مستثمرين، وترويج اقتصاد 'الضحك على الذقون' بأرقام افتراضية، وهو ما لن تكون نتيجته مختلفة نوعيا عما كان، وقد كان الملياردير الإخواني حسن مالك صريحا ومباشرا ، وقال ـ ما معناه ـ أن اقتصاد مبارك يحتاج فقط إلى بعض الإصلاح.
وقد كنت، ولا أزال، مع احترام نتائج الانتخابات العامة، وفتح الطريق لذهاب جماعة الإخوان إلى سدة الحكم إن إختارهم الناس، وقدرت أن قيادة الإخوان أقرب إلى معنى التعايش مع جماعة مبارك، وأن خلافهما الذي يثور أحيانا ليس عراكا على مبادئ، بل خلاف في التفاصيل، وفــــي طرق تقسيم الكعكة، وهو ما أثبتت صدقه الأيام، وسوف يثبت صدقه أكثر مع تــــوريط الإخوان في الحكم، فقيادة الإخوان جماعة براجماتية جـــــدا، والقوى المحركة فيها هم مليارديراتها لاشيوخها، بل ربما لاتكاد تلحظ لهم شيوخا، فباستثناء حالة الشيخ يوسف القرضاوي، وهو فقــــيه مسن ترك تنظيم الجماعة من زمن، لاتكاد تجد للجماعة شيخا ولا مفتيا يعتد به، وما تبقى من مشايخهم رجال ضعاف في التكوين الديني، وكثير منهم أقرب في التكوين إلى خدم أو أئمة المساجد القروية، وما يغلب على التكوين القيادي في الإخوان صنف آخر من البشر، نعم هناك المهنيون من أطباء ومهندسين ومعلمين ومحامين وأساتذة جامعات، وهم كثرة عددية ملحوظة، لكن القوة الضاربة في يد المليارديرات، وفي يد خيرت الشاطر بالذات، فمن يملك يحكم، ومن يدفع يتحكم في جماعة تحولت إلى شركة كبرى للحشد السياسي، شركة بإنفاق ملياري ضخم، وهو ما يفسر الإختيار الاقتصادي للجماعة حين تحكم بلدا كمصر، فليس في وسع مليارديرات الإخوان أن يخونوا مصالحهم، ولا أن تغيب عنهم طبيعة 'العروة الوثقى' التي تربطهم بمليارديرات جماعة مبارك.
وما تبقى من خطابهم الأخلاقي الديني لا يكاد يستر العورات، يغيرون أقوالهم كل يوم، وينسون وعود الليل المدهونة بزبدة تسيح في حر النهار، ولا يؤمن لهم جانب في أي اتفاق سياسي، وتحركهم المصالح الثابتة لا المبادئ التي تتقلب بطبائع الأحوال الجارية، صحيح أنهم يختلفون في المبنى عن جماعة مبارك المخلوع، لكن الاتفاق في المعنى قائم، فهم يكررون ذات النسق من السياسات، يكررون خط الاتفاق وقبول وصاية الأمريكان، ويكررون خط اقتصاد 'المصمصة' وانتظار الريع، ويكررون خطة إعطاء الأولوية للمستثمرين والمشترين، ويكررون خط الإفقار العام لأغلبية المصريين المنهكين أصلا، ويبدون كجماعة شابة تحل في الخدمة محل أختها العجوز، كانت جماعة مبارك قد تحولت إلى كيان معلق بلا قواعد إجتماعية تسند، بينما تبدو جماعة الإخوان مسنودة بقواعد إجتماعية كبرى، تكونت من حولها بفضل الخطاب الديني والممارسة الخيرية، وحين تحكم الجماعة، سوف يحل الخطاب البراجماتي محل الخطاب الديني، وتحل الممارسات الاحتكارية محل الأنشطة الخيرية، وهو ما يفسر الإنخفاض المطرد في شعبية الإخوان بعد خمسة شهور من عمل البرلمان المنحل، وهو تحول سوف تزداد وتيرته بمرور الوقت، حتى وإن استعانوا بفوائض الخطاب الديني الخام لإخوتهم السلفيين ، فقد يفيدهم ذلك لبعــــض الوقت، وفي معــــركة إنتخابية هنا أو هناك، لكن الفائدة تبدو عابرة جدا، ومع المزيد من انغماس قيادة الإخوان في الحكم، وترك العـــنان لشهوة الاحتكار، واتضاح الطابع البراجماتي الصرف لقيادة الإخوان، وضمن أحوال بلد يمر في أخطر مراحله ومآزقه، وتتزايد معدلات الوعى العام فـــيه بصورة طفرية، مع كل هذه الظروف يبدو تجنب المآل من المحال، فسوف تنحسر شعبية الإخوان، وتتخلخل قواعدهم الإجتماعية، ويزداد الميل للخروج من صفوف الإخوان، خاصة مع احتمالات تكون تيار إسلامي جديد أكثر وسطية، ومع احتمالات نهوض حركة وطنية إجتماعية ديمقراطية إلى اليسار والوسط الإجتماعي، توازن ما يتبقى من النفوذ اليميني لجماعة الإخوان، وتكسر أنفها فى مباريات انتخابية مقبلة .
مشـــكلة قيادة الإخوان أنها توحي ببديل عن جماعة مبارك، لكن الإيحاء لا يبدو في محله، فهي أقرب إلى معنى القرين لا البديل.


Mubarak's 300,000-strong army of thugs remains in business despite elections

The Long View: The military has played a shrewd game – insisting Mubarak go on trial while realigning supporters to preserve their privileges

By Robert Fisk

".....The association of corruption with the ancien regime has been a staple of all revolutions. Justice sounds good. And today's Egyptians still demand dignity. But surely Nasser got it right; better to chuck the old boy out of the country than to stage a distracting and time-consuming trial when the future of Egypt, the "other purposes of the revolution", should be debated. Today's military played an equally shrewd but different game: they insisted Mubarak go on trial – bread and circuses for the masses, dramatic sentences to keep their minds off the future – while realigning the old Mubarakites to preserve their own privileges.

The ex-elected head of the judges' club in Egypt, Zakaria Abdul-Aziz, has rightly pointed out that even if Mubarak was put on trial, the January-February 2011 killing went on for days, "and they [the generals] did not order anyone to stop it. The Ministry of Interior is not the only place that should be cleansed. The judiciary needs that."....

The belief among journalists and academics that Tahrir Square would fill once again with the young of last year's rebellion, that a new protest movement in its millions would end this state of affairs, has – so far – proved unrealistic. Over the weekend, Egyptians wanted to vote rather than demonstrate – even if the country's security apparatus would end up running the show as usual – and if this is democracy, then it's going to be of the Algerian rather than the Tunisian variety. Maybe I just don't like armies, while Egyptians do......"

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Al-Jazeera Video: حديث الثورة - مآلات الوضع السياسي في مصر

"مناقشة الفراغ الدستوري في مصر في أعقاب قرار المحكمة الدستورية العليا ببطلان مجلس الشعب واستعادة المجلس العسكري السلطات التشريعية عشية انتخابات الرئاسة
تقديم/ محمود مراد
تاريخ البث/ 2012/06/15
الضيوف: عمرو جمعة
أحمد ماهر
صلاح عبد المقصود

'Down with the next Egyptian president'

Whoever is declared the next president of Egypt will not be the person most Egyptians want

Ahdaf Soueif, Sunday 17 June 2012

".....As I write, it's looking as if the turnout for this round will settle at about 15%. Compare this to the 80% turnout in March 2011, when Scaf (the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces), which had been running the country since Hosni Mubarak was deposed in 2011, put us through our first "democratic" exercise, a referendum: "Constitution first or parliamentary elections first?" The people queued, celebrated and debated – and Scaf twisted the result and cheated in its implementation to stay in power, then worked to spread chaos and division and to brutalise the nation.......This will be Scaf's proudest achievement: that it has disabused the country of any notion that the machinery of the existing state will deliver the system the majority long for.........

On Saturday alone, during the last round of the elections, 35 activists from the 6th April group were detained (under the new powers granted by the minister of justice to the military two days earlier); western journalists warned that it was illegal to conduct interviews in the street; a young woman translating for a Finnish journalist was arrested; security troops went round a number of towns making inquiries about foreign Arabs who might be staying there; 22 Palestinians and Jordanians were detained; seven Syrian activists manning the protest tent in front of the Arab League offices were detained; the ministry of the interior issued warnings that armed Palestinians had been sent by Hamas from Gaza to commit acts of terror in Egypt; the Israeli newspaper, Haaretz, wrote that Friday's rockets "were launched after a request by senior leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt". Xenophobia, division, fear of the Palestinians (on the "they want to lead us into war" ticket) are all being stoked......

The revolution will continue because neither the old regime nor the Islamist trend in its current form are going to deliver "bread, freedom, social justice". Neither of them are going to validate the sacrifices made by the 1,200 young people murdered by the regime, the 8,000 maimed, the 16,000 court-martialled. As the weekend's spectacle unfolds, thousand of young men are in military jails, many of them on hunger strike......

The people have, at every turn, done the right thing. They have taken to the streets when the cause has been theirs, they've stayed away when it's been manufactured. They've been brave and resilient and resourceful. They have learned lessons. They voted the Brotherhood into parliament, and when they performed abysmally they withheld 50% of their vote from the Brotherhood's presidential candidate. They are demanding and trying to push forward effective, unified, progressive representatives who can turn their courage into political gains. Most important, they have taken their revolution to their factories, universities, towns and streets.

For the last several months, a favourite slogan has been: "Down with the next president". Amen."