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