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Egypt to World: Can You Hear Me Now? *updated and bumped*

January 29, 2011

Protests continue today throughout the country and again, if you want to watch real time video of what is happening in the streets, go here to watch this live stream at Al Jazeera English- it’s the best coverage by far.

I’ll be updating this post throughout the day but here are a few links:

~The Egyptian Cabinet has symbolically stepped down.

~The famed Egyptian museum of antiquities has been secured. Yesterday Egyptians joined arms and encircled the museum to prevent harm from coming to it but a nearby fire threatened to spread to the museum, which houses the priceless artifacts of ancient Egypt. Today, the army has stepped in to prevent the spread of the fire.

~According to Al Jazeera the Egyptian people are handing flowers to the Egyptian military. The Egyptian people have a great deal of respect for the military and the military has thus far resisted firing on the people. It’s a very different story with the riot police. Everything in Egypt will come down to what the military decides to do.

~You can follow Al Jazeera’s real time Tweets from the streets of Cairo, here.

~Surprise, surprise. The Royal House of Saud has come out and slammed the Egyptian protesters as infiltrators. Getting nervous, King Saud?

~Our great friend and communist dictatorship ally China is blocking all Twitter searches using the hashtag #Egypt. Getting nervous Chairman Hu Jintao?

~As I said yesterday, it’s a bit awkward that the tear gas canisters being used against the protesters say “Made in the USA.”

~To their credit, MSNBC had decent coverage last night. Cenk Uygur talked with several people including Columbia University Professor Rashid Khalidi who is an expert on the Middle East and he provides a very balanced take on what is happening. He also points out that some of the MSM coverage of the possible threat posed by the Muslim Brotherhood is a bit of an over-reaction. Mubarak has used the Muslim Brotherhood as a bit of a foil to justify his repressive, 30-year autocratic rule. It’s not that the Muslim Brotherhood poses no threat whatsoever, but I think it’s an oversimplification to think that if Mubarak falls, the only group that will step in to fill the void is the Brotherhood. At this stage there is nothing overtly Islamist about these protests:

~Also, Rachel Maddow had Steve Clemmons on to talk about why we provide so much aid to Egypt while tolerating the anti-democratic government there and Clemmons talked openly and honestly about the Israel connection:

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Rachel Maddow on the situation in Egypt, posted with vodpod

~Egyptian state media is reporting that intelligence chief Omar Suleiman has been named Vice President moments ago. This will be the first time Mubarak has selected a VP. Here’s the problem, don’t people usually get to elect President and Vice Presidents???

I get the distinct sense that after his conversation with Barack Obama last night, Mubarak is undertaking some window dressing changes to appease the US and keep the money flowing. It’s interesting that neither Obama or Hillary Clinton have called for “free and fair” elections in Egypt as the US has done in other countries.

~Interesting view on the impact that WikiLeaks may have had in the Arab uprising in Tunisia that is spreading across the Middle East. This poses an interesting question for foreign policy watchers, not to mention diplomats and the US government. Behind this whole uprising is the unpleasant fact that while the US has been promoting democracy throughout the world, sometimes with the use of force (Iraq, Afghanistan, etc.) we’ve been playing both sides- bolstering and arming corrupt, antidemocratic regimes when we feel it suits our security interests (and perhaps sometimes when it doesn’t). This presents a problem for the US, as we all know.

UPDATE II: Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood has called for a peaceful transfer of power. Here is a bit more information on the Brotherhood and I found this link from the Brookings Institution about the group.

Food for thought– had there been a just resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by now Israel might not find itself in such a tough bind. Given the ENTIRE Arab League said it would normalize relations with Israel several years ago if Israel would abide by international law and create a state based on 1967 borders (Israel refused), I can’t help but find myself wondering what in the hell the rigidly anti-peace contingent in Congress and in the Israel Lobby were thinking? Sadly, none of this is being discussed in relation to what is unfolding in Egypt. The irony, in my view, is that the U.S.’ refusal to be a more objective broker in the Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations over the years and according to the Palestine Papers, continuing to this very day, has actually made Israel’s security situation much worse. By choosing land over peace and by refusing to put any pressure on Israel to make necessary concessions, Israel cannot move towards rapprochement with it’s neighbors. No Arab states are going to make peace with Israel so long as the settlements continue to change the facts on the ground and make a two state solution impossible. So when Israel and the US talk incessantly of Israel’s “legitimate security needs” I can’t help but wonder “yes, but what role or responsibility does Israel have for creating an environment conducive to peace?”

UPDATE III: You just can’t make this up. The company that makes the gas canisters being used against Egyptian protesters (and apparently those in Tunisia), Combined Tactical Systems, is the same company that has come under fire for providing Israel with the munitions/gas it uses against the Palestinians. Several Palestinians have died over the last few months secondary to inhaling the gas and apparently the canisters contain an extra high concentration of gas that can be lethal. And here’s something interesting- below is the photo of the company headquarters in PA and they fly both the US and Israeli flags? What is that about?

UPDATE IV:The BBC just tweeted that Mubarak’s two sons have just arrived in London, ostensibly for their safety but here’s the thing- some are saying that with the selection of Omar Suleiman as VP may indicate a potential transfer of power. More info. on Suleiman here. According to Clemmons, he’s just another US-supported technocrat. Did the US tell Mubarak to appoint Suleiman as VP?

UPDATE V: The human wall yesterday around Egypt’s famed museum:

Unfortunately, two mummies were destroyed last night by looters.

15 Comments leave one →
  1. Thain permalink
    January 29, 2011 10:28 am

    Great coverage Stacy. I saw that Cenk interview with Prof. Khalidi last night and it was really a good interview- he provides a different perspective not often heard in the MSM. Remember when some anti-Obama folks during the election tried to say that Obama was anti-israel because he was friends with Prof. Khalidi, who happens to be a Palestinian American? I got in trouble at No Quarter for saying people were really getting desperate and starting to make Hillary look bad with all the anti-Muslim stuff.

    Anyhoo, thanks for posting the videos. I didn’t watch Rachel last night but I’m going to watch it here now because Steve Clemmons rocks. I wish Hillary would hire him to be an adviser/negotiator on Mid East peace. I don’t always agree with him but he seems honest, pragmatic and he’s not just some AIPAC shill.

  2. Fannie permalink
    January 29, 2011 11:27 am

    Hey, just saw this tweeted on Twitter- I can’t believe I didn’t know about this blog, I LOVE Hillary Clinton!

    Thanks for the updates on her talk show appearances tomorrow, I’ll set my dvr so I can be sure to catch them all.

    I agree that MSNBC did a good job last night with their coverage. Richard Engel is really good.

    I don’t know much about the Muslim brotherhood so any resources anyone has will be much appreciated!

    • January 29, 2011 11:37 am

      Welcome Fannie, glad you found us!

      I’ll see what I can dig up on the Muslim Brotherhood.

  3. Steve permalink
    January 29, 2011 12:11 pm

    Thanks for the great links Stacy. I’m psyched Hillary is going to be on all the talk shows tomorrow- thanks for that info. too. I’m also a little nervous for her because she may end up being the most visible person in the administration regarding US policy towards Egypt right now and if the US continues to be seen as taking the side of Mubarak a lot of criticism will probably be directed her way. We saw that earlier in the week as you noted. The fact that it’s longstanding US policy- perhaps bad policy mind you- seems lost on some people.

    I’ve heard a few “experts” say the CIA really dropped the ball on this one. Apparently the CIA keeps an eye out for these types of potential instabilities and keeps the govt informed so a contingency plan can be put in place in case a govt falls. Everyone is saying the WH was totally blind-sided by this and has no plan B in case Mubarak ends up out of power. I know this all happened very rapidly but did the US really think Mubarak could go on forever as unemployment increased and the population of people under the age of 25 skyrocketed? There have been some red flags for some time that things were not well in the Middle East.

    • January 29, 2011 12:42 pm

      Honestly, at this point the administration has to toe a very difficult line. If the administration comes out swinging against Mubarak and he remains in power, then there could be consequences. Also, you can be sure that Bibi Netanyahu is talking to his friends in Congress urging them to stay their hand and keep quiet about supporting the Egyptian people’s desire to see Mubarak ousted. On the other hand, if we are serious about democracy, that means that sometimes free citizens will choose leaders we don’t like. That’s just how it is. This whole “we support freedom and democracy only if we approve of the leaders people choose” is unbelievably hypocritical but it’s been long-standing US policy. Again, remember what the Palestine Papers said- this administration threatened to cut off funding to the PA if the PA allowed elections. That’s pretty damning.

  4. Seamus permalink
    January 29, 2011 12:51 pm

    That photo of combined tactical systems flying both flags is unbelievable! What the hell?

    Remember, WAR IS GOOD BUSINESS! The war profiteers don’t want these wars and conflicts to ever end!

    • discourseincsharpminor permalink
      January 29, 2011 4:12 pm

      Keep your friends close and your income source closer.

  5. January 29, 2011 1:01 pm

    Sort of OT- this is from Foreign Policy’s Mideast Channel and it discusses a very unpleasant fact. The State Dept. and WH are actually less willing to stand up to Israel than the George Bush administration. It points out that Mitchell and the US negotiators basically tossed out the framework of the US Road Map for a very simple reason- while the Palestinians were abiding by their responsibilities under the Roadmap, Israel refused to. So what Israel wants, Israel gets. So the Roadmap was simply tossed aside and the Palestinians told essentially to suck it up. Here’s my question- what in God’s name does this administration think a two state solution looks like? What are they playing at? Is this yet another example of a faux peace process that provides cover for Israel while allowing more territorial expansion, all the while blaming the Palestinians for the break-down in negotiations?

    Honestly, what is it the US wants exactly? Pretty soon there will be only one option- a one state solution and then what the hell are we going to do? Put all the Palestinians in relocation camps? Push them into the sea? Send them to the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan? Already Jordan’s population has a HUGE percentage of Palestinian refugees which, by the way, could become a political problem for King Hussein. I wonder when the folks there are going to get sick of THAT repressive government?

    • Steve permalink
      January 29, 2011 1:17 pm

      That’s the sort of commentary that raises issues that the MSM still hasn’t dared raise.

      I think it’s pretty clear at this point that our press in this country is also incapable of informing the public in any objective fashion about what is going on in the territories and Israel. Lets be honest, if there was any objectivity at all why don’t most people know that a) the PA has already recognized Israel’s right to exist in peace and security b) the Arab League said it would normalize relations with Israel if the conflict was resolved in accordance with international law c) Israeli racism is increasingly threatening their democracy but also our deeply held Jewish values regarding human rights and d) that the Palestinians have upheld their requirements under the roadmap and all other agreements as you said, while Israel has upheld none of their requirements?

      The corporate media knows if Americans really knew what was going on, we/they likely would start to question not only Israel’s heavy hand in our foreign policy but also the huge amount of money we give to Israel while getting not a whole lot in return.

    • January 29, 2011 1:56 pm

      The people of Jordan are definitely sick of their repressive government, too.

  6. January 29, 2011 1:34 pm

    For anyone interested in urging their cable provider to start carrying Al Jazeera English, go to this page:

    It provides information on AJE, dispels some of the silly myths about Al Jazeera and it has a very quick, form you fill out that it sends directly to your cable company letting them know there is some interest in the channel. I just sent my request too.

  7. tiffy permalink
    January 30, 2011 12:31 am

    Don’t feel too bad that the tear gas is American made. Don’t forget, the tools the protesters use to organize this “revolution” are Facebook and Twitter, which are also American products.


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