State Department Releases Statement on Protests in Egypt & a Note on Democracy Promotion *updated*
STATEMENT BY PHILIP J. CROWLEY, ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF STATE FOR PUBLIC AFFAIRS
We are monitoring the situation in Egypt closely. The United States supports the fundamental right of expression and assembly for all people. All parties should exercise restraint, and we call on the Egyptian authorities to handle these protests peacefully.
As Secretary Clinton said in Doha, people across the Middle East – like people everywhere – are seeking a chance to contribute and to have a role in the decisions that will shape their lives. We want to see reform occur, in Egypt and elsewhere, to create greater political, social, and economic opportunity consistent with people’s aspirations. The United States is a partner of Egypt and the Egyptian people in this process, which we believe should unfold in a peaceful atmosphere.
We have raised with governments in the region the need for reforms and greater openness and participation in order to respond to their people’s aspirations – and we will continue to do so.
BTW, the Egyptian government has blocked Twitter in an effort to take an important activism tool away from the Egyptian people who are protesting for democracy and free elections.
Also, the Guardian has excellent coverage on the situation in Egypt with constant updates. The US media once again is put to shame.
UPDATE:An interesting commentary about this administration’s democracy promotion in light of the revelations in the Palestine Papers (which continue to largely be ignored by the MSM in the US). You may agree with this or not, but I think it’s worthy of discussion in light of the stalemate in the I-P negotiations and the upheaval in the Arab World:
The democracy protests that swept Tunisian President Zine el Abedine Ben Ali from power are going viral, but sadly President Obama and other Western leaders seem immune.
Indeed, it is quite likely that the president and his colleagues in Europe are as frightened of the potential explosion of people power across the Middle East and North Africa as are the sclerotic autocratic leaders of the region against whom the protests are being directed.
The question is, why?
Why would Obama, who worked so hard to reach out to the Muslim world with his famous 2009 speech in Cairo, be standing back quietly while young people across the region finally take their fate into their own hands and push for real democracy?
Shouldn’t the president of the United States be out in front, supporting non-violent democratic change across the world’s most volatile region?
The known knowns
The answer, as is increasingly the case, comes from the ever-growing cache of leaked documents from WikiLeaks and other sources that are providing inside evidence of America’s true interests and intentions in the Middle East.
Specifically, as The Palestine Papers revealed by al Jazeera demonstrate (and which I will analyse in more detail in my next column), the US under Obama-as much if not more so than under his predecessor-demands that leaders remain in place who will do its bidding even if it means subverting the will of the citizens of a country and maintaining a system that manifestly harms their interests.
Thus the administration at least twice threatened to cut funding to the Palestinian Authority if elections were called and anyone other than Mahmoud Abbas and Salam Fayyad remained in power.
And it actively works with Israeli and Palestinian security services to deny the democratic will of Palestinians.
What is clear, then, is that Obama not only prefers the status quo, but the United States will actively subvert democracy in order to ensure that governments that will follow its policies remain in power.
If the administration has taken such an anti-democratic line with Palestinians, imagine how it must feel about the protests that have just exploded in Egypt, where substantive democratic change and a truly representative government would no doubt be far less amenable to US policies and strategic objectives regarding Israel and the war on terror than is Mubarak’s.
So the question really needs to be asked – whose interests is President Obama serving by remaining silently supportive of the status quo when he could, and by any measure, should, be lending vocal, public support for the peoples of the Arab world as they finally rise up against their leaders?
Is it companies like Lockheed Martin, the massive defence contractor whose tentacles reach deep into every part of the fabric of governance (as revealed by William Hartung’s powerful new book, Prophets of War: Lockheed Martin and the Making of the Military Industrial Complex)?
Is it the superbanks who continue to rake in profits from an economy that is barely sputtering along, and who have joined with the military industrial complex’s two principal axes-the arms and the oil industries-to form an impregnable triangle of corrupt economic and political power?
Someone here remarked in the comments yesterday that they agreed with MJ Rosenberg that Palestinian elections would probably be necessary. I agree, but I think we have to ask, does the US really want that? Democracy is a double-edged sword and we seem to promote elections in other nations insofar as we believe we can either help determine the outcome or in the alternative, based on whether we agree with the results. Democracy means accepting the will of the people. The US likely fears more anti-Western, pro-Islamic factions being elected into office. The irony of course is that our heavy-handed, biased and Israel-centric handling of the Mideast conflict may ensure just that.
UPDATE II: In 2010, demolition of Palestinian homes in Area C in the West Bank TRIPLED. This ethnic
cleansing transfer is both inexcusable and illegal and yet we (the United States) speak out of both sides of our mouth. We can’t ignore and silence the nonviolent resistance in the Palestinian Territories while sitting back and watching Israel take part in actions which make hatred and violence all but a foregone conclusion. Do we stand for the rule of law or not? Israel may be a sovereign nation but when it comes to violations of international law – violations propped up by U.S> taxpayer dollars and the military industrial complex, since when do we remain quiet?