Party of Egypt First

On Friday Egyptian activists are calling for a second revolution and will take to the streets en mass*, to continue the demands they initially came out with on Jan25th. Although Mubarak was overthrown, the army has resumed many of the same highly undemocratic practices of the old regime, including detaining and torturing people, including many bloggers and activists without trial. There are also said to be up to 10,000 civilians being unjustly tried by military tribunals (for specific demands of the organizers, see: http://www.tweetdeck.com/twitter/franyafranya/~64Tnh). The clear message being sent by the military council who is in control during this ‘transition period’, signals to those who sacrificed so much, that fundamentally little has changed.

There is however a significant split amongst many Egyptians who supported the revolution but feel that because of their exceptional behavior during the revolution – specifically not shooting at the protesters, the army are friends of the people. These Egyptians believe that the army council may be problematic but the army itself has enough on its hands and does not have the capacity to deal with additional protests and demands. We can call them the camp of Egypt first. Egypt Firsters believe that we should not go out on Friday, because due to this period of political instability the time is not right to challenge the authorities. They believe that first Egyptians need to build up the country economically, and focus on elections and say that the army is doing the best they can as the temporary authorities. They also believe that it is critical to stabilize the country in order to invite investments from the public sector and abroad to build up the country economically. But mainly they say, that because lack of stable system in place, it is not the time to challenge them.

Along the same vein, many from the party of Egypt First generally hold the sentiment that they are for Palestine 100%, but before Egypt “helps” Palestine, they must be strong as a country and able to take on the issue of Palestinian rights. This sounds completely understandable and reasonable at face value. However, when you think about the logic and underlying premise behind this, it makes less sense. For example, when you look at history and and the revolution/military coup that brought Mubarak (who came from within the ranks of the military) to power over 30 years ago, it was through largely the same process. Therefore this seems very much like history repeating itself, as well as underscores the importance of learning from history.  Plus “stability” based on political appeasement of the US and Israel, is what created Egypt’s dependence on the West and put the Egyptian people’s interests and needs, last.  And now, even though they know they will never get anyone nearly as friendly as Mubarak, the US is funding and propping up the army in many of the same ways, by dangling economic aid and ‘loan forgiveness’ to entice them, during this highly desperate economic time.

Finally, the premise that Egypt needs to be strong first before defending Palestinian rights is highly problematic. Palestinians do not want or need Egypt to save them! Palestinians simply want the end of the support of the illegal, immoral, inhumane siege and sanctions, and Egypt (and the rest of the Arab puppet leaders) role in upholding it. Palestinians have the strength, intelligence and ability to rebuild their country themselves and don’t need anyone to save them. What they do need is their Egyptian brothers and sisters to work with them hand and hand, especially given that both theirs are the SAME struggle – against foreign intervention and dictating interests.

At the end of the day Egyptians, Palestinians and those in the region have the same desires and hopes – freedom to put their interests first and independence from Western domination. Those who want to support these movements, should do so based on steps that will lead to economic independence, which will lead to real stability, rather than impending foreign interests/investor stability. We can do so by supporting economic development for the region and trade with its neighbors, providing for the needs of the explosion of young and poor, as well as the educated and skilled labor unions and political parties, who are working hard to organize themselves after decades of dictator imposed “stability”.  Therefore perhaps unity – something hopefully we can all agree on, should be the real goal, rather than ‘stability’.

Peace with justice.

*Egyptian activists call for 2nd Day of Rage 5.27: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-05-22/egypt-groups-call-for-second-round-of-rage-on-lack-of-change.html

Advertisements

Road to Tahrir, Paved by the West

The images and display of people power in the Arab world shocked and inspired the world over, in ways regional and political science experts never dreamt possible. The toppling of Dictator Mubarak in Egypt which took place in 18 days, defied the belief of even the most determined protesters. During this momentous time of sweeping political change in the Arab world, the only thing that’s clear is: history is being written and no one can predict the future. This level of political uncertainty can be seen in the realm of infinite possibilities, still what and how it will be implemented is the big question on top of everyone’s mind. Unless civil society forces are armed with sheer relentless will and an apt political strategy, the gaping political vacuum leaves the likelihood to be filled by the most powerful and influential players, namely the US and Israel. Though all countries in the region are unique in many ways, the case of Egypt can be analyzed generally to the extent that others will follow suit, as the ideological battleground for what is taking hold in the region today.

What is overtly clear from the recently released Pew research poll, and seems representative of public opinion of Egyptians is that the vast majority (9 out of 10[i]) are pleased that Mubarak is gone. However, beyond that there is a wide range views of the kind of change people would like to see, how to implement change and the role that the military and political Islam will play. When it comes to change agents’, according to the poll, public opinion is split almost down the middle with support for the secular April 6th movement (leading by one point), versus the Muslim Brotherhood (whose increase in popularity came as a disturbing blow to many). Therefore what the outcome of the elections in September, is everyone’s top concern these days.

Paved with good intentions?

Poll numbers alone are confusing and inconsistent and must be analyzed in context and as connected parts of a whole, in order to predict future trends and realities. The high level of support Egyptian people have for army leaders came to many as a big surprise: the military is now almost universally seen (88%) as having a good influence on the way things are going in Egypt and a whopping 90% rate military chief Mohamed Tantawi favorably.

Yet, contrasted with the clear support for the ousting the US[ii] backed dictator, ( 9 out of 10) the numbers don’t add up. In Tarik Ali’s, article: Who will reshape the Arab world: its people, or the US? Phase one of the Arab spring is over. Phase two – the attempt to crush or contain genuine popular movements – has begun[iii], “Washington has, for the time being, succeeded in rerouting the political process into a carefully orchestrated change, led by Mubarak’s defense minister and chief of staff, the latter being particularly close to the Americans. Most of the regime is still in place. Its key messages are the need for stability and a return to work, putting a stop to the strike wave. Fevered behind-the scenes negotiations between Washington and the Muslim Brotherhood are continuing.” One reason for this contradiction at the polls, may be the glaring omission and what is being completely left out of the headlines: the role the US and Israel are playing behind the scenes. Any reporting on such facts would compel people to begin asking questions like: What interests are behind the US bolstering its support for Egypt’s Brotherhood and military – while withholding substantial economic aid (another fact that remains hidden)? What was John McCain doing in Cairo last week? What is with Egyptian government’s support for the Syrian regime[iv]?? If called into question, these trends would then be openly reported as an attempt of the US to directly interfere in, and retain control over the country’s policies.

US interests in Libya coming to light                                         

Meanwhile, a clearer picture of the US interests in Libya, are slowly beginning to emerge. The following research paper, put out and translated into English by an Italian research firm titled: Financial Heist of the Century: Confiscating Libya’s Sovereign Wealth Funds[v] (SWF) provides clear evidence of the objective of the war against Libya, and it is not just its oil reserves (estimated at 60 billion barrels). The impact of the Nato war will have a devastating impact on the economic future and independence of the entire continent of Africa. Before carrying out a military attack on Libya U.S. and European ruling circles focused on getting their hands on its energy wealth, so they took over the Libyan sovereign wealth funds.

The assault on the Libyan sovereign wealth fund is a direct attack on the Arab African Investment Company which has been crucial in allowing African countries to begin to become independent from the U.S. and Europe by investing “in over 25 countries, 22 of them in sub-Saharan Africa. Even more important were the Libyan investment in the implementation of three financial institutions launched by the African Union”.  The development of these bodies would enable African countries to eventually escape control of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, tools of domination. The article goes on to state that “Freezing Libyan funds deals a strong blow to the entire project.”

In this historic moment, a battle that is being waged to the extent that the forces of the ruling powers interests will either collide with that of the people – or meet somewhere in the middle. This battleground of wills, is what is going to determine the future of not only the country, but also the region and quite possibly the world. Obama intends to speak again very soon about his Middle East policies. What is needed three months after the January 25 Revolution and two years after his big Cairo University speech-out to the Arab and Muslim worlds, is a revolutionary approach to America’s Middle East policies. However we know this unlikely as a politician already launching his campaign for re-election in 2012. What he will likely do is the opposite of what is desperately needed.

What we can do is learn from the people of Egypt who following their glory in toppling the regime, have begun on the long journey and ongoing process of holding officials accountable, building up open and transparent economics, support competing democratic political movements, civil society organizations promoting judicial and media independence, free trade unions and women’s rights, etc.

From May 21-24, 2011, timed to coincide with the annual policy meeting of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), American citizens from all over the country will converge in Washington, DC. They will expose the lobby for war and occupation – and build the vision for a new US foreign policy in the Middle East. To register, of for more information see: Move over AIPAC: http://www.moveoveraipac.org/. My wish is that they too could occupy their capital, and stay there, until their demands are met!

Will you join them?!


[ii] The polls finds “favorable ratings of the U.S. remain as low as they have been in recent years, and many Egyptians say they want a less close relationship with America. Israel fares even more poorly. The poll states as many as 54% of Egyptians want the peace treaty with Israel country annulled.

[iii] Who will reshape the Arab world: its people, or the US? Phase one of the Arab spring is over. Phase two – the attempt to crush or contain genuine popular movements – has begun

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/apr/29/arab-politics-democracy-intervention

[iv]Egypt backs Syrian regime, receives sharp criticism: http://www.almasryalyoum.com/en/node/416758

[v] Financial Heist of the Century: Confiscating Libya’s Sovereign Wealth Funds (SWF) http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=viewArticle&code=DIN20110424&articleId=24479