Why Mubarak is Out

Posted by elvira, 7th February 2011

hosni mubarak02/01/2011
Paul Amar

There has been a lot said of Egypt’s “March of Millions”. The uprising marks the emergence of a new political society in Egypt, bringing together a totally different coalition of forces. Many think the main reason for the revolts is the rising of food prices, and although this surely added to it, there were a lot of other forces behind Mubarak’s fall from power.

Knowledge about how Egypt’s political, military and police structure works is key to understanding what’s happening in the country, and most Western commentators tend to see all forces of coercion in a non-democratic country as the hammers of dictatorship, but further insight into them shows that each institution has it’s history, and each one acts acoording to it and it’s current situation.

The police forces are run by the Interior Ministry, they were close to Mubarak and co-dependent of him, but with time they gained a kind of autonomy. In the 1980′s, a growing number of gangs invaded the streets of Egypt, asserting self-rule over some specific settlements and slums, These bands were believed to be Islamists, but were mostly unideological. When the Interior Ministry saw they couldn’t beat them, they decided to work with them, training them in using sexualized brutality against protesters and detainees. It was in this period (early 1990′s) when the Interior Ministry turned the State Security Investigations into a threat, using them to detain and torture domestic political dissidents.

The Central Security Services are what the media are calling “the police”: black uniformed, with black helmets, they became the image of the revolution when cameras captured the dissidents kissing these “policeman” and disarming them while they remained impassive. Although the Central Security Services are supposed to act as a private army for Mubarak, they have often risen against him demanding better wages and working conditions.

The Armed Forces of the Arab Republic are a different institution altogether. While Egypt is supposedly still a “military dictatorship”, these forces have been marginalized because they haven’t been allowed to fight anyone since 1977. Thus, they have been given huge payoffs and aid by the US, which have turned them into an organized group of national businessmen. But in recent years, a sense of unease has overcome them, and they have felt an increasing sense of national duty, because it was not standing for its people as it should. They want to restore their honor, and furthermore see themselves as the enemies of the “crony capitalists”, Gamal (Mubarak’s son) and his “team”, who have been selling Egypt’s assets to China, the US, and Persian Gulf Capital. Inside the Armed Forces of the Arab Republic the are two elite sub-groups who have remained loyal to Mubarak. This explains why, during the initial revolts at the end of January, some of the military went against the police and the Central Security; others supported the protesters (like the General Chief of the Armed Forces, Muhammad Tantawi); the chief of Air Force was named Mubarak’s new Prime Minister and other forces protected the radio/tv building from the protesters. They all had their reasons for doing what they did.

The Intelligence Services, also a branch of the military, were captained by Omar Suleiman, the current Vice President. The Intelligence Services take care of external operations, detentions and interrogations. They are obssesed with stability and have a long relationship with the CIA and the USA military. With the rise of the military and the Intelligence Services, Gamal Mubarak was thrown out and Suleiman became VP.

The “nationalist capital” faction in Egypt joined the protesters on January the 31st in demanding the fall of Mubarak, angry at him for favoring Western, European and Chinese investors of national ones. Parallel with this, huge youth and labor groups, powerful and organized, have begun to arise. Groups of unions from the major agricultural towns formed the Trade Union Federation, interested mainly in protecting national manufacturing and agricultural smallholdings, that have no relation to the Muslim Brotherhood.

Youth is getting more and more organized, and these social and internet coordinated groups are becoming increasingly important, and can be grouped in 3 trends: One group are organized by and around international organization; another by an active liegal culture and independent judicial institution from Egypt; the last one represent the intersection of internationalist NGOs, judicial-rights groups and the new leftist, feminist, rural and worker social movements.

Egypt’s humanitarian history can’t be forgotten, as well as their role in the United Nations. Muhammad ElBaradei, Mubarak’s opposite and former director of the United Nations International Energy Agency is now the head of the United Democratic Front, which have asked him to serve as interim president and oversee the national process of building the consensus and drafting the constitution. Egypt’s humanitarian past tells us that rising food prices are not the only reason for the revolts.

Mubarak’s new cabinet may be a “reshuffled” cabinet, but it signifies a big change in political direction and it’s poised to work to bring together the interests of the new military, national capital and labor, while reassuring the US.

Paul Amar is associate Professor of Global & International Studies at the University of California in Santa Barbara

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Date With a Revolution

Posted by osurce, 31st January 2011

Egyptian riotMansoura Ez-Eldin
1/31/2011

Ez-Eldin was present during the beginning of the protests in Egypt and says those who began it and organized via Facebook and twitter it are angry at police cruelty and the repression and torture from Mubarak’s regime. He says it is not a plot of the Muslim Brotherhood. He reviews how the government used violence–including live ammunition–against peaceful protestors to prevent an ouster as in Tunisia, and the chaos that has devolved. He says silence is a crime and Egyptians will find a way to have their voices heard to the world to demand freedom and justice.

Mansoura Ez-Eldin is the author of the novels “Maryam’s Maze” and “Beyond Paradise.”

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Egyptian President’s son and family ‘have fled to the UK’

Posted by elvira, 26th January 2011

The website Akhbar al-Arab said that Gamal Mubarak, Egyptian President’s son and successor, has fled to UK from an airport in western Cairo with his wife, his daughter and 97 pieces of luggage. The decision seems to be a response to the protests that are being held over the last days in the Egyptian capital. Inspired by the Tunisian revolts, which ended up with the former Presiden Ben Ali removed from power, over 30,000 protesters congregated in one of Cairo’s main squares asking for Hosni Mubarak’s resignation after 30 years of governance. The protests in Cairo caused the death of a police officer and around 600 people were arrested in the numerous congregations all around the country. Mubarak has been very untolerant with other protests in the past and this is why it is shocking the support that the opposition movement is getting in a country were freedom of association is strongly repressed. This events might give hopes to those citizens that oppose to Mubarak’s regime and turn Egypt in the second Arab country that overthrows its ruler on the last month.

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The Coming Iraqi Business Boom

Posted by osurce, 21st December 2010

BagdadBartle Bull
12/21/2010

Nine months has been a long time to wait for a new government in Iraq, but the process has happened peacefully and constitutionally, and Bull is encouraged by that. There is evidence that Iraq can avoid much of the “oil curse” and build a more cosmopolitan and modern economy than those of its autocratic neighbors. Iraq’s greatest resource is its famously resourceful, tough, educated, and enterprising people. Whereas the capitals of the Gulf oil monarchies did not have paved streets a generation or two ago, Baghdad and Basra are ancient capitals of commerce, ideas, and global finance. However, Iraq still faces the challenge of overcoming inefficient bureaucracy, rampant corruption, and sporadic violence.

Bull, a former journalist, is a founder of Northern Gulf Partners, an Iraq-focused investment bank.

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Progress in Afghanistan, with caveats

Posted by osurce, 17th December 2010

AfghanistanDavid Ignatius
12/17/2010

While substantial progress has been made in Afghanistan, the Afghan people themselves remain cautious and noncommittal to the American presence and Afghan government. They are not yet willing to trust that the Taliban will not win out and re-establish their authority. Afghan corruption and incompetence would appear to validate that concern, but measured improvement continues apace.

Ignatius is a twice-weekly columnist for The Post, writing on global politics, economics and international affairs.

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Heroic, Female and Muslim

Posted by osurce, 16th December 2010

Celebration_of_the_humanitarian_work_of_Hawa_Abdi_image002Nicholas D. Kristof
12/16/2010

Kristof looks at the heroic life of Dr. Hawa Abdi of Somalia, who has confronted armed militias there and forced them to back down. Today she runs a camp and hospital that serves 90,000 displaced people. She provides them with food and water and trains the people whose roots are in herding to farm and fish. She also runs a school, literacy and health classes for women, and a small jail for men who beat their wives. Kristof says she is an example of the tolerant and peace-loving side of Islam and what people can do when they tap into courage, compassion, and tolerance.

Kristof is a New York Times columnist.

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Obama and the Pakistan Dilemma

Posted by osurce, 16th December 2010

Pakistani FlagMatthew Kaminski
12/16/2010

Pakistan is becoming more like Afghanistan, only with a more advanced economy and nuclear weapons, writes Kaminski. The idea that Islamabad’s leaders can control the Taliban is probably a necessary fiction, but the reality is that many extremists have slipped their leash. Pakistan’s military has yet to show that it wants to–or that it can–control the Islamist wave. Gen. David Petraeus, the American commander in Afghanistan, certainly has contingency plans for Pakistan that go beyond extra doses of drones or diplomacy. Putting American boots in Waziristan is an obvious idea. But, Kaminski concludes, this is unappealing, as the fallout in Pakistan would be hard to predict. So for the moment America gets to pretend that Pakistan can do this on its own.

Kaminski is a member of the Journal’s editorial board.

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A U.N. Plan for Israel

Posted by osurce, 14th December 2010

Palestine - Israel conflictRobert Wright
12/14/2010

If there is no two-state solution to the situation between Israel and Palestine, Israel has two poor choices: give Palestinians the vote in occupied territories while the Arab birth rate makes Israeli Jews a minority or continue to deny the vote to Arabs, moving Israel toward global pariah status and giving terrorists propaganda to feed their calls for war. Wright says there is a third solution: have the United Nations create a Palestinian state now as it did a Jewish state. Although it would be tricky, it is better than the current state of affairs between Israel and Palestine.

Wright blogs for The New York Times on culture, politics, and world affairs.

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Who Assassinated Rafik Hariri?

Posted by osurce, 26th November 2010

rafikEdward Jay Epstein
11/26/2010

A UN investigation may soon implicate Hezbollah in the murder of the former Lebanese prime minister, says Epstein. If the agents of Syria or Iran are ultimately named by the UN’s special tribunal, the half-decade delay in justice for Hariri’s murder may be little more than a prelude. Syria and Hezbollah, which both possess the power to destroy Lebanon’s fragile government, will almost certainly denounce such a finding and shift the blame–as Hezbollah has already suggested–to their convenient bete noire: Israel. Such allegations and recriminations, meaningless as they may be, could drag on for another half-decade, if not longer.

Epstein, an investigative reporter, is currently completing a book on the 9/11 Commission.

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