Archive for the 'Egypt' Category

HIRISE

The ‘new’ HIRISE developments in Libya point to the spread of the complex region wide wars that are now a permanent state in our current era of a slow motion great depression. Egyptian thug ruler al Sisi has just threatened to intervene if the Libyan government continue their offensive saying “Sirte and Jufra are the red line.” so naturally there has been a response from the Libyan government

I don’t think a major war is imminent but if a major war eventually breaks out, after the years of slaughter in Syria, it wouldn’t surprise very many in the region. I wonder how many Marxists it would surprise?

No doubt ½ theorists are all aware that penniless Putin-not-quite-Tsar of all the Russians, has sent a small ‘mercenary’ (Wagner group) air force contingent to a Libyan base and that those aircraft have overflown Sirte.

Then a couple of days ago the Egyptian coup leader Sisi declared this Jufra air base right at the center of Libya part of his ‘red line’ Club Med Protectorate. This coalition of the willing anti-democrats includes the UAE as a banker for the project and has both Saudi and even French support. This coalition is defying the UN arms embargo, and the UN recognized government, protected as it is by Turkey (backed by Italy).

Having lost the fight for the whole of Libya another enclave ‘solution’ is being established with a foundation of Russian air power. The inland air base and the city of Sirte on the coast splits the country. Libya is currently being broken into chunks -like Syria, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine have been from previous renditions of the Putin playbook.

In the 21stC, long after it was well known that ‘countries want independence’, the democratic revolution for the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) is being vigorously resisted by the fascists. Predictably, that other side is fighting back so that gangsterism is preserved in these 5 countries just as it is being extended across the world in Hong Kong. Push is at shove and western leadership is not up to the task of effectively resisting the gangster regimes, so western interests that start with the spread of the democratic revolution will suffer. Sanctions are virtually all they are using to push back.  The ‘west’ is a headless chook.

Putin started his rule by turning the Chechnyan capital of Grozny to rubble; and then running the whole region as a gangster region. He couldn’t hold all of the Ukraine so he simply invaded and took what ‘Russian sectors’ he could get hold of. He did the same earlier with Georgia when the Georgians wanted to stop gangsters operating in their country. It’s what he has done in Syria where he has run up against an immovable opponent in democratic Turkey. Putin can’t put in the effort that the democratic Turks can and do so thankfully this ‘problem’ of the democracy seeking Syrian peoples now with a people’s army backstopped by Turkey won’t go away. But Putin can make sure that they do have to put in that huge effort for every square kilometre.

Putin thinks he’s a world scale map maker. He isn’t. He’s a slow acting poison that’s destroying the Russian economy. He makes enemies on every border and has distant but unstable ‘friends’. Eventually, Europe WILL accept the burden that is required for it’s clear self interest and step up to the task of effectively helping Turkey as it continues pushing back and squeezing Russia. Eventually, so the theory goes, no respectable country will do business with the Russians and a repeat of the collapse of the USSR will unfold. But how long that takes is an unknown known. How many ‘non-respectable’ countries will do the required business is a relevant factor. How long can the fascists in countries like Egypt and Iran keep their people terrorized and prevent them achieving democratic norms? Syria has shown the world what preventing democracy looks like as a direct comparison to enabling democracy in Iraq. Democratic revolution for the MENA is underway and will not be stopped. Draining this swamp is the big picture.

‘In late May, USAFRICOM reported that at least 14 MiG-29s and several Su-24s were flown from Russia to Syria, their Russian markings were painted over to camouflage their Russian origin! These aircraft were then flown into Libya in direct violation of the United Nations arms embargo.’ https://www.africom.mil/pressrelease/32941/new-evidence-of-russian-aircraft-active-in-li

This is a textbook Russian deployment to oppose democracy. These airplanes are more than ‘ trip wire’ platforms and they will be at work soon enough killing the advancing revolutionaries. The Russian and the Egyptian fascists know they will be fighting soon. When they eventually start their attacks the danger of a clash with the Turks-or the US-is very real. This is push and shove enclave building! If something does go wrong what then? Would this spread a consequence back to Syria? Who knows, but very often ‘from little things big things grow’.  So we will all watch this space with more than just a little interest.

I for one hope something does ‘go wrong’ because it’s better to fight now than to let the Russians and the Egyptians take over half of Libya (and the oil rich half at that).

It seems that the Turkish ‘push’ in defense of democracy has brought on the anti-democratic shove back and the big picture for the MENA is all moving along as not much more than another front to the Syrian adventure for Russia. All just another logical step for the Russian military adventurers. But in 2020 NATO is split and the US is openly in LA LA land with a self obsessed POTUS. The prize for Russia could be seen or imagined to be potentially very big and the UAE and even the KSA is footing the bill no less. That thinking is a total illusion but look at the track record of Russian war making since Putin took charge. His type rather obviously sees the world very differently than I do.

At this point (4 years into the ‘Wagner’ meddling in Libya) it resembles a rerun of the Syrian play of almost 5 years ago. So it looks like Putin is a reasonably predictable gangster and this time he has huge numbers of allied ‘infantry’ from Egypt ready to occupy. This time Russia is fully backed by the neighborhood power who has made everything crystal clear. This time it ALSO includes the KSA and the UAE and has French and even some US support -sort of- yet it’s almost the same beast that has rubbleised Syria’,and Russia is still central to the whole coalition project. Russia is a massive arms dealer! What could be better than another display and the constant rat-a-tat use of the expensive ammo? Not to mention some blood for the oil that Libya is full of, and boy are the Russian and Egyptians keen on that black ‘gold’ issue.

It’s not really a major escalation to this part of this region’s wars at all. It’s as predictable as reminding everyone that Sisi and Putin are world class gangsters. It very effectively lays a godfather’s claim to dominating not just ½ the country of Libya but as time goes on it must be expected to build and eventually present a size 14 footprint in Africa where Russia is already, according to a US report ‘… the number one arms dealer in Africa. Russia continues to profit from violence and instability across the continent. Russian government backed PMCs, such as the Wagner Group, are active in sixteen countries across Africa. It is estimated that there are about 2,000 Wagner Group personnel in Libya.’ !

These Russian aircraft are being run by so-called mercenaries! Please…the Russian state even orders the murder of people on the streets of England! They have given the US a chance with silly denial to go to war against ‘mercenaries’ but they are dealing with Obama’s replacement, so that is no problem for them. The Russians will get away with this! The Club Med stop over in Syria now has a further purpose for transit movements even further south.

Now you would expect that if say Bolton, were POTUS, he would crush this move right now but HE was on the wrong horse from where he would have had to back flip, and anyway despite Bolton’s errors, alas Trump is POTUS. Macron and Trump! How bad can this get? The world still has 6 months of this farce and then we get Joe Alzheimer!

Speaking of Joe, why NOT select Michelle Obama for VP, and let Mr Charming loose on the Corona restrained campaign trail? After all Bill and Hillary almost pulled it off and there is this big Black Lives Matter movement to exploit. Every 4 years like clockwork, out comes the Democrat race card and they have played it early this time. Now given how much I despise his 8 long years of ‘anti-war’ Syria policies – of turning away from mass murder- I can’t say I’m keen for another dose in the form of Bumbling Joe and Mrs O. I am however fully prepared for it.

2 years into his term Joe Biden might even hand over the baton! Reagan didn’t though and they got through that. I’m keen to see what’s going to unfold over in LA LA land. We will all just have to wait to see the morning come when all these gifts to humanity have been unwrapped. How exciting for the hysterical anti-Trumpers. I expect even more idiocy from the US in the face of aggressive Chinese and Russian fascism. I expect nothing sensible from Boris and the Euro in-breds for a few years yet.  In short, the government I expect to carry the burden is headed by Erdogan as has been the case for the last 4 years.

Anyway; so everyone currently knows what is going on in Libya and yet…silence.

The Egyptians are now standing up as a senior member of the messy HI-RISE cow.

The US military in the region are furious but so what? The US military leadership are not happy they don’t want advanced Russian weapons systems targeting them from Libya! Trump’s military advisors may even think like Bolton and even be able to execute the back flip, but given Trump’s current anti-war stand they would be very slow to get any progress with him. I’m sure Trump could care less about a major point of conflict developing in Club Med land. He’ll easily resist getting drawn in and is to the extent that he would understand it, opposed to drain the swamp theory because he likes the old policies of backing strongmen. People that he thinks he can understand and do business with! His moves with Israel are the antithesis of a sensible retreat from the failed war for Greater Israel. Trump would rather go with the old policies that kept thugs like al Sisi in power, though even Sisi knows it’s against the US interests as famously spelt out by Condoleezza Rice in Cairo no less.

Something very dramatic would have to happen for Trump to win re-election from here. The only thing he has going for him is that he is up against Biden. But on the assumption that nothing that dramatic unfolds AND that Biden doesn’t just implode in some manner (and that can’t be ruled out) I’m calling Trump gone! Trump’s presidency will have ended before anything dramatic happens unless somebody spectacularly miscalculates and events run well ahead of all expectations.

Unfortunately as far as the next 2-3 year period is concerned this next 4 months is crucial for the MENA’s democratic revolution. Turkey is now carrying a huge load, and Egypt in throwing it’s ‘reserve’ strength on the scale is bound to bring on a cautious next step from Turkey. Actually, Erdogan has always danced this revolution backwards, while the HIRISE take the lead in direct opposition to the masses striving for the ‘Arab Spring’. He’s a conservative and has always behaved like one. No doubt with the rear view mirror he would have done things differently but so would ½ theorists! The real issue is how do we all stand now?

In this global supply chain era, the catastrophic disruption of this interestingly inconsistent pandemic has brought on an inevitable long term economic ‘unwinding’. That’s simply because capitalism in recession is musical chairs and the music has stopped; consequently who owns what is an international issue that is resolved right at the top of countries like Russia and China; just as is on display right now in Syria with their massive falling out at the top of the dung heap. It will take some time, and currently no one knows where this depression is headed off to; but as this all attempts to work through over the next few years the one clear issue that we can predict is that it just can’t be good news for the people’s in countries like Iran, Egypt, Syria etc. They are held in blatant open bondage while mass poverty now spreads in all directions. Once the sullen masses are on the streets again all bets will be off. But these ruling Cabals have focused their minds on how the Syrian tyranny has clung to power, as the alternative is a grim prospect for them. In the end these countries are ‘giants with feet of clay’.

The current gold medal of hanging onto power is the Syrian model. The anti-democrats around the world have learned by this example to resort to mass murder as rapidly and savagely as the Assad regime. Terror is now the first and only choice for Egypt and Iran and similar places. And they need a Godfather gangster supply chain like Russia has been!

A great example of the shrinking Russian play pond is the behavior of the thug leader of Belarus who has just arrested his political opponent prior to upcoming elections. They move on their opponents because they are worried! Police state Russia is rapidly heading in the same direction as Egypt and Iran.

Meanwhile al Sisi has simultaneously drawn a clear and blood red line that divides the ‘former’ country of Libya and denies the right of the current.Libyan government to recover the rebellious east! Given the history of Obama and his Syrian red line – that turned out to be no line at al,l there ought to be no mistake about what this statement is about. Turkey is standing firm but, without the US and a united NATO, is I think a little overstretched. If Egypt intervenes in a really big way, and I think that they have then Turkey will be stretched in just recovering Sirte. Uniting the entire country is beyond them at this stage. So without the US and Europe, Russia is now putting down it’s footprint!

Egypt and Russia (funded by the UAE) have in a business as usual manner for Putin effectively divided Libya with a small military force and the threat of a much larger one – all while talking about a political settlement. They are (on this front as they are in Yemen once again supported by the Saudi regime that is (or were) at one and the same time opposed to their Syrian HIRISE developments. Welcome to the MENA. HIRISE have established either a ‘state of war OR enclave’s; take your pick!’ This is the situation in another ‘civil war’ that they have been meddling in for 4 years. The Turks had turned up some months back and undone the situation and this is the response to that reversal.

From a revolutionary democrat POV (and in this region that means an Islamist POV) HIRISE elements can’t be permitted to get away with this if the revolution is to make any progress! But note this; the Islamists in the Libyan regime are so infiltrated with Al Qaeda sorts, that the Macron led French are stupidly collaborating with the Russians and the Egyptian thug regimes. Macron in this practice does not accept the drain the swamp theory! This is particularly confusing to me as the French have been involved with fighting Islamofascists all around Libya for some years now, with the Mali intervention being only perhaps the most public.

The Italians are on side with the Turks so NATO is thus divided! Unfortunately the latest nutter attack in England is from a young man with Libyan background! That is going to colour public attitudes to Islamist led governments. Erdogan has got a hard row to hoe and is currently (because they are still at war) intervening against the PKK in Iraq. There are however good signs that the Kurds in Turkey want this war ended and the democratic developments they were enjoying under Erdogan resumed. I for one hope the PKK leadership wake up to themselves and stop their collaboration with Assad and return to the productive ceasefire that existed prior to the Syrian war destroying that better situation. The Kurdish peoples’ of the region have much to gain from the democratic revolution and nothing to gain from Assad style tyranny continuing to exist.

MENA

An opportunity for a full discussion of the current state of the swamp!
What do leftists now think is going on.

Tom Griffiths
February 7 at 8:31 PM ·

As some may gather I keep an eye on events in Turkey courtesy of the Turkish Bianet news service and my friendship with one of the initial organizers in the mid 90’s of Saturday Mothers, a weekly gathering of mothers, wives and friends of the ‘disappeared’. My friends husband was one of the ‘disappeared’ and she came very close to ‘disappearing’ herself. Their spirit of resistance and determination, then, now and in the years in between, is beyond admirable – they are inspiring, which is why the Turkish regime is subjecting them to new rounds of intimidation and harassment. I’d like to ask people to subscribe to Bianet and keep a supportive eye on the Saturday Mothers and all others resisting the dead weight of the regime.

Yoleri briefly detained

Yoleri briefly detained

Susan Geraghty How can we help??

Tom Griffiths Good question Susan. Otherwise known as – how can we assist/support the Turkish people to give Erdogan the flick? From here not a lot. However messages of support/solidarity is something we can do – to Bianet (I’d assume they’d pass them on) and I can pass them on through my friend in Turkey. You’ve got me thinking…

Ruth Frances It’s very distressing to see what this man is doing to Turkey .

Patrick Muldowney I presume you are not objecting to the Turkish government providing shelter for the almost 8 million Syrians that it is now involved in doing. So I guess this is just a pro PKK post and not pro Assad and Putin. as if the war with the PKK has not been going for many decades and was under Erdogan making progress via the democratic solution to the Kurdish issues that brought on war in the first instance.

Patrick Muldowney I would say that Erdogan is currently the most important political leader by a long shot and so I think we ought to talk about this issue and see what we actually think. Syria is very confusing and even Arthur and Barry and Dave completely misunderstood what Putin was up to back in 2015. They don’t talk about it these days but believe me I still do and it is even more complicated than it was when I first started to investigate it back in 2011. As you know No investigation no right to speak and I have earned that right.

Patrick Muldowney
I have opened a thread at http://strangetimes.lastsuperpower.net/ called MENA if that would help people keep track of where any investigation takes us. I expect this to be quite a difficult investigation and do not assume that people have any current background understanding but just a good will attitude to investigating the issues.

International Women’s Day Delegation to Gaza 2014

Ed. note; While CODEPINK still does International Solidarity with a simplistic bring our dollars home approach, all publicity is good publicity on this front and a delegation to Gaza this March could as they say be very interesting.

END

A call for Delegates.

Answering a call from the women of Gaza, CODEPINK is forming a US delegation of 15 women who will join with a larger international women’s coalition traveling to Gaza for International Women’s Day 2014.

The purpose of the delegation is show solidarity with the women of Gaza, to bring attention to the unbearable suffering caused by the Israeli blockade, to educate people back in our home countries, to push for opening the Gaza borders and to bring solar lamps to help with the electricity shortage.

We will meet in Cairo on March 5. We will attempt to enter Gaza on March 6 and return from Gaza on March 12, 2014. Due to the political and security issues in Egypt, there are no guarantees that we will be able to get into Gaza. If we get to Gaza, we will spend our time meeting with women’s groups, human rights leaders, fisherfolk, farmers, UN representatives, youth activists and journalists. If we do not get into Gaza, we will make your time in Cairo very worthwhile.

Egypt, Sudan rhetoric escalates over disputed region

Egypt, Sudan rhetoric escalates over disputed region

Author; Ayah Aman Posted February 3, 2014

Translator; Kamal Fayad

From

CAIRO — The Egyptian-Sudanese dispute concerning the sovereignty of the Halayeb-Shalateen Triangle continues to be a source of constant tension in relations between the two countries. The escalatory rhetoric has risen between officials from both countries, without any real diplomatic solutions on the horizon for this issue, which has been on hold since the reign of late Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser and Sudan’s independence in 1956.

Egypt and Sudan have traded fiery statements over the disputed border region of the Halayeb-Shalateen Triangle.

The debate between Egyptian and Sudanese officials was renewed this time around when Sudan’s Minister of State at the Presidency Al-Rashid Haroun announced on Jan. 6 that the Halayeb border region with Egypt was 100% Sudanese, and that discussions and understandings were possible with Cairo in this regard. Egypt, on the other hand, rejected this statement when its Foreign Ministry spokesman, Ambassador Badr Abdel Ati, issued a news release published by Egyptian media on Jan. 7, which read: “The Halayeb-Shalateen Triangle is part of Egyptian territory and subject to Egyptian sovereignty. Cairo will not accept any compromise solutions because its position is clearly defined.”

In this regard, a diplomatic source with close ties to the Egyptian government told Al-Monitor: “The relationship with Sudan is marred by many unresolved issues, particularly the dispute over the Halayeb Shalateen Triangle, which remains unsettled despite all international legal or official efforts. Add to that Khartoum’s espoused stances, which might be detrimental to Egyptian interests, such as its support for the building of the Ethiopian Renaissance Dam.”

The source, who wished to remain anonymous, explained, “This is not the right time for Cairo to deal with the disagreement over the Halayeb area with Sudan. The country is living in a state of security alert, with army troops concentrating their efforts to secure Egyptian borders, particularly in Sinai and the western border with Libya. This is a result of the fears that elements might infiltrate the country to harm Egyptian national security. The present transitional period also does not allow entering into a regional engagement with another country. But there are policies that the Egyptian government has adopted to exploit the Halayeb area for the benefit of the Egyptian economy, and to achieve real development there.”

On Nov. 27, 2013, the Egyptian cabinet formed a special committee tasked with the implementation of an urgent plan to develop the Halayeb and Shalateen area, through investments totaling 764 million Egyptian pounds ($110 million). These investments were used to complete road and water networks as well as housing projects for the settlement of the regions inhabitants. This move reflected the government’s interest in this region, considered to be one of the most important tourist and investment destinations in Egypt.

“Egypt considers the Halayeb and Shalateen region to be rich in resources, and of special strategic importance politically and economically,” said Council of Ministers spokesman, Hani Salah, speaking to Al-Monitor.

Salah added that the cabinet was considering signing agreements permitting the exploitation of the region’s gold and manganese deposits, as well as activating the Shalateen Mining Co. through coordinated efforts between the Ministry of Petroleum and the armed forces.

Deposed President Mohammed Morsi’s administration faced overwhelming popular disapproval when Sudanese officials were quoted as saying that it had expressed willingness to negotiate on restoring the Halayeb and Shalateen region to Sudan, during a visit by Morsi to Khartoum in May 2013. However, the Egyptian presidency denied those statements at the time.

With the backdrop of Egypt asserting its claim on the Halayeb region, and its attempts to exploit the natural resources and riches there, Sudan’s ambassador to Egypt, Kamaluddin Hassan, spoke with Al-Monitor about his country’s position on this issue.

“We must recognize that an ongoing problem exists between Egypt and Sudan concerning the Halayeb-Shalateen Triangle. In fact, a conflict exists as a result of Cairo and Khartoum’s insistence on their respective viewpoints in this regard. We hope that this conflict would soon be resolved in a brotherly fashion between the two countries. But I also hope that this issue not be raised again in Egyptian media because doing so has caused a lot of damage to Egyptian-Sudanese relations, and Sudan is of the opinion that our interests are greater than to be confined into one specific area,” said Hassan.

Similarly, Egypt’s ambassador to Sudan, Abdel Ghaffar al-Deeb told Al-Monitor: “The political leaderships of both countries had previously agreed that the Halayeb and Shalateen region be an integrated area used for economic development, especially after Sudanese President [Omar] Hassan al-Bashir announced that Sudan did not intend for Halayeb to be the source of disagreement and conflict with Cairo.”

Groups of political activists, headed by former member of parliament Ahmad Raslan, formed a popular delegation that went to Halayeb city, where it held a town hall meeting to assert Halayeb and Shalateen’s Egyptian identity, chanting the slogan “Halayeb is Egyptian.”

The Egyptian government also opened seven electoral stations in Halayeb and Shalateen cities during the constitutional referendum Jan. 14-15. According to official estimates, the majority of the region’s inhabitants voted in favor of the new Egyptian constitution.

The history of the conflict

The Halayeb-Shalateen Triangle lies on the African side of the Red Sea, encompassing 20,580 square kilometers (7,946 square miles). Its three largest cities are Halayeb, Abu Ramad and Shalateeen, with Egypt imposing its full security control over the region in 2000.

The conflict between Egypt and Sudan over the Halayeb-Shalateen Triangle began in 1958, after Sudan gained its independence and decided to secede from Egypt. Subsequently, the Sudanese administration included the region in Sudan’s electoral districts. Friction endured between the two countries throughout the 1980s and 1990s, with the conflict primarily focusing on petroleum and gold resources. In addition, the Egyptian army made 39 raids inside Sudanese borders in 1995. The crisis emerged anew in 2010, when Sudan insisted that the region be considered part of its electoral districts.

Hani Raslan, an expert in Sudanese affairs at the Al-Ahram Center for Strategic Studies, spoke to Al-Monitor about this issue. “Sudan resorts to causing problems with Egypt every time it faces internal unification crises and every time it tries to prevent rifts from occurring inside the country. It would have been better if it had held on to larger and richer areas of land that became part of South Sudan when the latter seceded in 2010. Furthermore, the 1899 agreement states that the border line between Egypt and Sudan lies on the 22nd parallel north of the equator; yet Halayeb is located further north of that line,” said Raslan.

As of yet, neither Egypt nor Sudan announced the adoption of official measures to solve the ongoing conflict over the region. This comes at a time when the Egyptian government is fully exploiting the area’s resources and maintaining its security control over the region.

Read more: http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2014/02/egypt-sudan-halayeb-shalateen-border-region.html?utm_source=Al-Monitor+Newsletter+%5BEnglish%5D&utm_campaign=e0ae6ede91-January_9_20141_8_2014&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_28264b27a0-e0ae6ede91-93145129#ixzz2sOa42NKC

Journalists under threat in Egypt

Living dangerously in the ‘new’ Egypt

by Ruth Pollard

Feb 1 2014

It doesn’t take long for a crowd to turn on you on the streets of Egypt these days.

A finger pointed, an accusation levelled, and you are literally running for your life.

For months now I have been hesitant to even pull my notebook from my bag when I am reporting from the street, such is the animosity against, and suspicion of, foreign journalists.

But I am lucky – I can usually move through a crowd, observe the mood, chat to a few people and leave quickly before drawing too much attention.
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Not so photographers, whose cameras have become a magnet for angry crowds and security services who smash, grab and detain.

Two weeks ago I was a few blocks from Cairo’s Tahrir Square, interviewing stallholders and passers-by about the constitutional referendum due to begin the next day.

I had identified myself as an Australian newspaper journalist. As people began to speak, I took out my notebook.

A middle-aged man suddenly began paying close attention to my questions – simple inquiries about what people thought of the constitution, was it better than the last one they had voted in a little over a year ago?

“You are from TV?” he asked.

“No, a newspaper,” I replied, acutely alert to where the conversation was going.

“You are from Jazeera,” he shouted.

“No,” I insisted. “A newspaper – look,” I said, gesturing around me: “I have no camera crew.”

“You are a spy,” he yelled, as people crowded around us and began repeating his accusations as if they were facts. And again: “You are from Jazeera.”

The mood darkened. There was no possibility of negotiation, no hope of discussion. It was time to run.

I dashed through the all-but-stationary traffic, turned down a side street to avoid police gathered on one corner in case they grabbed me, and in a few short minutes I came to a roundabout where the cars were moving, flagged down a cab and went home.

It was an incident hardly worth mentioning. Unlike so many of my colleagues, I was not beaten by the crowd or detained by security forces.

It was just another day trying to report on the extraordinary wave of revolution and crackdown, fledgling democracy and repression that Egyptians are riding.

And it was another reporting exercise cut short by an angry crowd, encouraged by an interim government, backed by a powerful security establishment and fuelled by the country’s media which are loudly feeding a tide of xenophobia that threatens to spill over at the slightest provocation. Like taking out a notebook, or interviewing the other side of politics.

The threat of arrest is ever-present. The detention of our colleagues from al-Jazeera – Australian Peter Greste, dual Egyptian-Canadian Mohamed Fadel Fahmy, along with Egyptians Baher Mohamed, Abdullah al-Shami and Mohamed Bader – weighs heavily on our minds.

The media have always had a difficult relationship with the powerful in Egypt. Repression was rife during President Hosni Mubarak’s three-decade rule and the Muslim Brotherhood-backed government of Mohamed Mursi sought to quash criticism of his short-lived, dysfunctional administration.

But the targeting of journalists from al-Jazeera English over the network’s alleged pro-Muslim Brotherhood stance – a charge denied by al-Jazeera executives – has spilt over to encompass all foreign media. I will no longer answer “sahafia” – the feminine form of ”journalist” in Arabic – when I am asked what I do. Not since a taxi driver took a journalist straight to a police station after he revealed his profession.

Soon after the incident downtown I travelled with a photographer to Fayoum, two hours from Cairo, to report on the second day of voting in the constitutional referendum.

Groups of soldiers backed by local plain-clothes police armed with shotguns were in control of every polling booth. A judge oversaw the voting inside.

At many points during the day our every move – interviewing voters, taking photos or seeking a judge’s permission to enter the room – was filmed by a soldier on his mobile phone. Our local driver was also filmed, his identity now inextricably linked to the small crew of foreign journalists he takes with extreme care from point A to point B.

During an earlier visit to the site of a bomb blast in Cairo’s Nasr City, my colleague and I lasted just over seven minutes on the street observing and photographing the wreckage before police challenged our presence and it seemed the crowd could turn on us.

Only a month ago I worried that a quick visit to a protest or bomb blast site was not enough to do a decent reporting job. Now I wonder if I should go at all.

At least 12 journalists were detained and several were wounded as they tried to cover the third anniversary of the overthrow of Mubarak. Almost every journalist and photographer I know has been detained, and those of us who haven’t regularly run for cover, hiding in residential buildings, ducking into cafes, talking our way into the safety of a big hotel.

The threat of being detained, or a crowd turning on us, versus the need to cover the story, is a constant debate among those of us covering Egypt.

Every day we hope we have the right answer, because one wrong move can be devastating.

Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/world/living-dangerously-in-the-new-egypt-20140131-31sjk.html#ixzz2s0yJ0Zq2

Ed. note Australian journalist Peter Greste is detained, with 4 other al-Jazeera crew accused of spreading false news and having links to the Muslim Brotherhood. These are obviously false accusations by anti-democratic forces. I also note that this article didn’t comment on the recent ‘crowd rapes’ that have occurred to female protesters and journalists who become obvious to the crowd. I hope these people are returned safely to their family in the very near future. Just how many foreign journalists did Morsi lock up?

Egypt: The Coup the World Forgot

Egypt: the coup the world forgot
The shallowness of Western politicians’ commitment to democracy lies exposed.
by Tim Black
23 January 2014

What has happened in Egypt over the past seven months ought to chill the democratic blood. It ought to command the attention of anyone who claims to care about defending freedom.

Think back to 3 July 2013: the Egyptian military, under the leadership of General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, deposed the Egyptian president, Mohammed Morsi. Despite the reluctance of Western politicians to use the phrase at the time, this was a coup d’état.

Morsi, a leading member of the conservative Muslim Brotherhood and chairman of its political wing, the Freedom and Justice Party, had become, just over a year earlier, Egypt’s first-ever democratically elected head of state, winning 52 per cent of the vote. This ought to have been a historical moment to savour; this ought to have been the time when Egyptians began finally to enjoy some of the democratic freedom we have long exercised in the West; this ought to have been the time to bid an unfond farewell to the years of Hosni Mubarak’s military dictatorship. But in July last year, just like that, it was over: the democratic flame had been extinguished.

After a few days of unrest in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, during which anti-government protesters expressed their anger at Morsi’s Islamist tendencies and economic inaction, the army, the tanks and the jets moved in, and switched the whole thing off. Over the following weeks, as supporters of Morsi rallied and set up protest camps in and around Cairo, al-Sisi’s ‘interim’ government declared a state of emergency and began a crackdown on the protesters. By the end of August, the beatings and killings served up by the army, alongside the revived, reviled secret police, had enforced some semblance of order.

As the months have passed, General al-Sisi has furnished this naked display of might with the veneer of right. In September, the Cairo Court for Urgent Matters banned the Muslim Brotherhood, the political and religious movement that, just a few months earlier, had formed the basis for Egypt’s first-ever democratically elected power; the arrest, torture and killing of Morsi supporters now had a legal sanction. And Morsi himself – alongside many of the Brotherhood’s leading figures – was left potentially facing the death penalty on trumped-up charges.

And then, in late 2013, al-Sisi published a new constitution for the Egyptian state, drawn up by a 50-strong committee of coup supporters. Unsurprisingly, it preserved the military’s privileged position, guaranteeing the secrecy of its budget, permitting it to try civilians in military courts, and stipulating that, for the next eight years, Egypt’s defence minister must be approved by the military.

When the new constitution was put to the Egyptian electorate last week in a referendum, over 98 per cent voted in favour. Given the palpable absence of a ‘no’ campaign, the outlawing of political opposition, and the deployment of 160,000 soldiers and 200,000 policemen to ‘oversee’ voting, the fact that al-Sisi won was less a democratic triumph than a fait accompli. Indeed, it has since emerged that over 60 per cent of the electorate either didn’t vote or refused to vote.

Not that al-Sisi seems to care. With his uniformed image adorning everything from cupcakes to pyjamas, and his each and every public appearance prompting a carefully managed wave of euphoria from the select throng of supporters, al-Sisi is now said to be considering whether to do what his handpicked public is demanding and stand for president. His opponents, meanwhile, both secular and Muslim Brotherhood, continue to be rounded up and thrown in jail.

Yet where is the international outrage? Where are the leaders of the nominally free world issuing sharply worded condemnations of this authoritarian turn? If this was Zimbabwe, with Robert Mugabe beating and rigging his way to near unanimous electoral victories, no doubt Britain’s foreign secretary William Hague would be pontificating from on high. If this was Colonel Gadaffi’s Libya, no doubt the self-righteous guffawing from the White House would have been audible in Tripoli.

But this is not Libya or Zimbabwe or one of those other easy stages for Western political posturing. This is Egypt, a place where the hypocrisy and double standards of Western leaders and the political punditariat lay so shamelessly exposed last summer. The problem, in short, is that despite the likes of the US president, Barack Obama, or the great and the good of the EU, seemingly championing the striving for freedom evident during the Arab Spring, as soon as the Egyptian people began to realise that freedom, and voted for what were perceived to be the wrong guys, the less-than-PC Muslim Brotherhood, the cheerleading from the West ceased. In its place was a willingness to approve the overthrowing of a democratically elected government on the basis that the Egyptian people had proved their immaturity, their inability to exercise their democratic rights correctly.

Little wonder, then, that the military coup was given such prominent international backing right from the start: it was seen as a necessary correction to a democratic error, a righting of the Egyptian people’s mistake. The US secretary of state, John Kerry, even went so far as to call General al-Sisi’s military government a regime for ‘restoring democracy’. And Baroness Ashton, the EU’s foreign affairs chief, spent much of last year meeting with al-Sisi and praising him for continuing on the ‘journey [towards] a stable, prosperous and democratic Egypt’.

That support, that moral bolstering of al-Sisi’s military dictatorship, has continued throughout the crackdown, throughout the transformation of Egypt into something that looks very much like an autocracy – indeed, something that looks very much like Mubarak’s regime. So in November, amid the arrests and the passing of oppressive anti-protest laws, Kerry said that the ‘road map’ to democracy was ‘being carried out to the best of our perception’.

There are none so blind, it seems, as those who see only what they want. Last week, speaking of a referendum so biased that even North Korea’s erstwhile dictator Kim Jong-il would have blushed, Kerry continued in his mission to twist reality in accordance with his prejudices: ‘[General al-Sisi’s] government has committed repeatedly to a transition process that expands democratic rights and leads to a civilian-led, inclusive government through free and fair elections.’ While Kerry was tying himself in knots, Ashton seemed content to praise ‘the Egyptian people and the authorities responsible for organising the vote in a largely orderly manner’. Orderly is one way of describing the pre-emptive arrest of opposition activists.

As for the broadsheet supporters of the Arab Spring, and later the military coup, their position seems to have become a little more critical. So having praised the military for bringing down an elected government and, in the words of the New York Times columnist David Brooks, pointing out that Morsi’s election showed that the Egyptian people ‘lack the mental equipment to govern’, many pundits have changed their tune. The news that ‘the military-backed government has shifted its attention to secular activists’ and that ‘the most genuine and committed supporters of a secular liberal order in Egypt [are now] sitting in Cairo’s Tora prison’ has led to a growing willingness to point out that Emperor al-Sisi is wearing dictator’s clothes.

But again, the double standards are still at work. It’s striking that it is only since the Egyptian authorities started arresting the secular, liberal-ish activists Westerners approve of – the likes of Ahmed Maher, Mohammed Adel, Ahmed Douma and Alaa Abdel Fattah – that al-Sisi’s regime has started to look like the authoritarian military dictatorship it always was. When it was massacring Muslim Brotherhood supporters, when it was rounding up and arresting supporters of Morsi, those currently up in arms about the crackdown on secular types could barely raise an eyebrow, let alone lift a pen in condemnation.

So, yes, what has happened in Egypt ought to chill us. It ought to command the attention of anyone who cares about defending freedom, even if – no, especially if – it’s the freedom of those like the Muslim Brotherhood we might not like. Yet so superficial and so selective is the democratic commitment of Western pundits and politicians, so illiberal and freedom-doubting are their basic impulses, that what has happened in Egypt has barely been recognised for the oppressive military coup d’état that it is. It seems that democracy for these one-time champions of the Arab Spring has nothing to do with freedom, the chance for people to determine collectively their own future. Rather, it is seen as little more than a means to what Western leaders and media supporters hoped would be the right end. And if they don’t like the end, if they don’t like who the Egyptians vote for, then, just like a tap, their support for democracy can be turned off.

Tim Black is deputy editor of spiked.

Egypt’s ongoing crisis in letters

Egypt’s ongoing crisis in letters

CAIRO

Three letters written by prominent Egyptians — two from inside jail — are making the rounds on social media, punctuating the fallout of government crackdowns in a politically charged climate that appears far from reconciliation, despite calls to end polarization on the third anniversary of the revolution.
Summary⎙ Print Letters released by an activist, a journalist from prison and an Islamic scholar reveal the depth of the polarization in Egyptian society.

Author Shadi Rahimi Posted January 23, 2014

One of two letters released from jail was written by activist Alaa Abdel Fattah in late December inside Tura Prison. It reappeared this week after being translated into English and shared on social media. The second was written by Al Jazeera journalist Abdullah Elshamy, jailed for five months without charges.
See more here

The third letter was written by Emad Shahin, a scholar of political Islam, who is now being charged along with ousted President Mohammed Morsi and Muslim Brotherhood leaders with conspiring to undermine national security.

Fattah and Shahin have both been critical of the military leaders who ousted Morsi in July and of Morsi and the Brotherhood while they were in power. Elshamy was one of hundreds rounded up Aug. 14 in a bloody crackdown on sit-ins protesting Morsi’s ouster that left up to 1,000 dead. He is one of several Al Jazeera journalists behind bars in Egypt.

Shahin’s letter is a strongly worded defense, calling claims against him “baseless and politically motivated.” His seven charges include espionage, leading an illegal organization, preventing state institutions and authorities from performing their functions and attempting to change the government by force.

“I categorically and emphatically deny all the charges,” Shahin wrote, challenging the state security prosecutor to present evidence substantiating the charges.

He has never been a member of the Brotherhood, Shahin continued, but he has been a fervent critic of authoritarian rule in Egypt and has expressed strong support for peaceful protests and the main objectives of the January 25 Revolution, “namely freedom, dignity and social justice,” he wrote.

It appears his critique of events since Morsi’s ouster, including the violent storming of sit-ins in August, “is my true offense,” Shahin wrote, vowing to continue advocating for the right to protest “that is enshrined in Egyptian law.”

Elshamy’s letter was shared from the Facebook accounts of his wife and brother Jan. 23. The Al Jazeera reporter wrote of laying in a 12-meter space with 16 other prisoners, and spending 160 days in jail without being charged.

The Al Jazeera network and its journalists have come under attack since Morsi’s ouster, accused of siding with the Brotherhood and the ousted president.

Elshamy’s letter highlighted a polarized climate in Egypt that has led to the quashing of press freedom. He criticized journalist colleagues who “consent to be mouthpieces and witnesses to the violation of the freedom of media,” and spoke of a lack of regret for his jailing, defending with pride his work with Al Jazeera.

“I do not belong to any faction or ideology. I belong to my conscience and my humanity, and I do not take interest in what has been said in the local media about me or my colleagues. History doesn’t forget; we are going strong,” Elshamy wrote.

He mentioned his jailed Al Jazeera colleagues Mohamed Badr (also held for five months without charge), Mohammad Fahmy, Baher Mohamed and Peter Greste, who have been in custody since Dec. 29, accused of spreading lies harmful to state security and joining a terrorist organization.

Elshamy wrote that he has chosen a hunger strike to send two messages: “One to journalists who choose to falsify the facts and cover up the violations of freedoms and media, the other to the Egyptian junta that I do not mind to die for my freedom. Nothing will restrict my freedom or break my will and dignity.”

While Shahin and Elshamy’s letters struck defiant tones, Fattah’s month-old letter was shared with sadness by supporters, also on Jan. 23. An English translation is available in a Google document.

Fattah was arrested at his home last November after prosecutors accused him of breaking a new law banning spontaneous protest. He has been in detention since, awaiting a trial. In his letter, he wrote of the physical discomforts of prison in a measured tone, drawing parallels to the plight of the homeless, and focused his reflections mostly on sadness over the loss of time with family.

Life in prison is a series of negotiations, he wrote, and conditions are improving. At the same time, his improving access to newspapers has meant reading biased editorials about how the three-year sentence for activists Ahmed Maher, Ahmed Douma and Mohamed Adel are due to hostility toward their April 6 youth movement, “as if the man arrested is just a theoretical notion named April 6 and not a human being who has a 5-year-old daughter,” Fattah wrote.

Maher, Douma and Adel were convicted of calling for a demonstration without a permit and assaulting security forces. They are appealing from Tura Prison.

Fattah, who has a young son, said that this time — after being imprisoned under the regime of former President Hosni Mubarak and again by the military rulers who replaced him — he finds his imprisonment “is serving no purpose.”

“It is not resistance, and there is no revolution,” Fattah wrote. “The previous imprisonments had meaning because I felt that I was in jail by choice and it was for a positive gain. Right now, I feel that I can’t bear people or this country, and there is no meaning for my imprisonment other than freeing me from the guilt I would feel being unable to combat the immense oppression and injustice that is ongoing.”

In sharing his letter two days before the anniversary of the revolution, prominent blogger and reporter Sarah Carr wrote, “It really is game over.”

The April 6 Youth Movement continues to demand the release of the jailed activists, and this week published a reconciliatory initiative on its Facebook page, asking Egyptians to refrain from polarization and acts of violence during the anniversary. The group was among the organizers of the protests culminating in Mubarak’s toppling in 2011.

Supporters of Morsi and Minister of Defense Abdel Fattah al-Sisi have both called for demonstrations on Jan. 25, leading to concerns over violence. During commemorations of Egypt’s 1973 war with Israel on Oct. 6, more than 50 were killed when Brotherhood and army supporters took to the streets.

“The revolution has been reduced to narrow struggles over power,” the April 6 Youth Movement said in a statement.

Shadi Rahimi
Contributor, Egypt Pulse

Shadi Rahimi is a journalist and photographer based in Cairo, Egypt. She is filming a documentary about several friends who fought in the 2011 clashes on Mohamed Mahmoud Street entitled, “Boys of the Bullet.”

On Twitter: @shadirahimi

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Read more: http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2014/01/egypt-crisis-letters.html?utm_source=Al-Monitor+Newsletter+%5BEnglish%5D&utm_campaign=7640220ef5-January_9_20141_8_2014&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_28264b27a0-7640220ef5-93145129#ixzz2rMXTFz00

egypt in turmoil

Some links to information with photos and videos about the recent turmoil in Egypt. Please add your thoughts and analysis in comments.

Dec 17: They say Isis’ tears for Osiris give rise to the nile flood

Two iconic images among many: the Institut d’Egypt/Scientific Society building burning, taking with it priceless documents dating to the Napoleonic expedition, and a woman demonstrator being beaten and partly stripped to reveal her bra in the street by military police


Military Police beat protestors, strip woman to her bra and burn tents
(uploaded to You Tube Dec 17th)

December 20: secretary-clinton-denounces-systematic degradation of women in egypt
Secretary of State Clinton yesterday:

“This systematic degradation of Egyptian women dishonors the revolution, disgraces the state and its uniform, and is not worthy of a great people.”

December 20: egypt-womens-march

Today, some 10,000 women of all ages and background marched in downtown Cairo to protest military violence directed at women, including the now famous woman beaten and stripped by the military police in what Secretary of State Clinton called the “systematic degradation of women.” The photos confirm the presence of young and old, clad in Western garb, hijab, or even niqab, many of them carrying the photo that went around the world.


Egyptian Women Send a Message to SCAF
(uploaded to You Tube Dec 20th)

UN adopts “the freedom agenda”!

The UN Security Council has voted for military intervention to facilitate regime change in Libya!

When Bush was president this was illegal

UN Resolution 1973 which authorizes “all necessary measures” to protect the Libyan people from being crushed by Gaddafi’s army is an historic event. It’s been put in terms of a humanitarian intervention aimed at preventing atrocities against civilians (which it is, on one level), but in reality it goes far further than that. It’s actually a resolution aimed at ensuring the success of the democratic revolution in Libya.

No way is it just a No Fly Zone, already the new COW has begun destroying Gaddafi’s military infrastructure, and the resolution has clearly been worded to allow attacks on ground troops, if required. And although it rules out occupation, it doesn’t specifically rule out on-the-ground operations.

About time!!

As I write this I’m listening to interviews with Egyptians who are at this very moment casting their votes in a referendum on constitutional reform. The euphoria is palpable. Democratic revolution really is sweeping the Middle East . The tyrants and autocrats of the region are all under threat now.

With the passing of UN resolution 1970, suddenly “regime change” is ok , is becoming legitimate. So far in all the interviews I’ve heard, the question “Is this really about regime change”? has been dodged. Instead the talk is all about Gaddafi “killing his own people” and the need to stop this. But it’s pretty easy to join the dots.

And it was France which spearheaded the push in the UN. What a change from 2003!

Alain Juppe’s speech prior to the resolution talked of “a wave of great revolutions that would change the course of history” .

But it was under the dreaded Bush regime that the “democracy agenda” was actually launched.

Continue reading ‘UN adopts “the freedom agenda”!’

the vlog that helped spark the egyptian revolution

The Order is Rapidly Fadin’ – The Times they are a-changin’!!

"The order is rapidly fadin'!"

This seems VERY appropriate in light of events in Middle East and North Africa.

Couldn’t find a Bob Dylan version on youtube but Nina Simone does a very thoughtful interpretation:

Come gather ’round people
Wherever you roam
And admit that the waters
Around you have grown
And accept it that soon
You’ll be drenched to the bone.
If your time to you
Is worth savin’
Then you better start swimmin’
Or you’ll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin’.

Come writers and critics
Who prophesize with your pen
And keep your eyes wide
The chance won’t come again
And don’t speak too soon
For the wheel’s still in spin
And there’s no tellin’ who
That it’s namin’.
For the loser now
Will be later to win
For the times they are a-changin’.

Come senators, congressmen
Please heed the call
Don’t stand in the doorway
Don’t block up the hall
For he that gets hurt
Will be he who has stalled
There’s a battle outside ragin’.
It’ll soon shake your windows
And rattle your walls
For the times they are a-changin’.

Come mothers and fathers
Throughout the land
And don’t criticize
What you can’t understand
Your sons and your daughters
Are beyond your command
Your old road is
Rapidly agin’.
Please get out of the new one
If you can’t lend your hand
For the times they are a-changin’.

The line it is drawn
The curse it is cast
The slow one now
Will later be fast
As the present now
Will later be past
The order is
Rapidly fadin’.
And the first one now
Will later be last
For the times they are a-changin’.

Melbourne and Sydney Rallies in support of the Egyptian Rebels

WLE_01_exiledsurfer 

Melbourne: Sun Jan 30 2011, 3pm

Egyptian Consulate

50 Market St, Melbourne

Click here for a map

 

WLE_02_exiledsurfer

Sydney: Mon Jan 31 2011, 4.30pm

Egyptian Consulate

241 Commonwealth St, Surry Hills

Click here for a map

Facebook event:

http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=136722939725676

Anyone else? Leave details in the comments.

 

WLE_03_exiledsurfer

 

More information about the protests here – including the comments

Summary of the Egyptian protests

The Mother Jones website has a summary of the current Egyptian protests, with links to more info.

Also, ABC Journalist Rosanna Ryan has created a Twitter list of protest-related accounts; but their accuracy is anyone’s guess.

The Twitter hashtags #Jan25 and #25Jan also have information, but as always with Twitter, treat most of it as unverified.