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Mr. Potato

Obama will go down in history as the president who lost Egypt

egypt,protest
© Unknown

Jimmy Carter will go down in American history as "the president who lost Iran," which during his term went from being a major strategic ally of the United States to being the revolutionary Islamic Republic. Barack Obama will be remembered as the president who "lost" Turkey, Lebanon and Egypt, and during whose tenure America's alliances in the Middle East crumbled.

The superficial circumstances are similar. In both cases, a United States in financial crisis and after failed wars loses global influence under a leftist president whose good intentions are interpreted abroad as expressions of weakness. The results are reflected in the fall of regimes that were dependent on their relationship with Washington for survival, or in a change in their orientation, as with Ankara.

America's general weakness clearly affects its friends. But unlike Carter, who preached human rights even when it hurt allies, Obama sat on the fence and exercised caution. He neither embraced despised leaders nor evangelized for political freedom, for fear of undermining stability.

Star of David

Israeli PM says ties with Egypt must be preserved

mubarak
© Reuters

Jerusalem - Israel's prime minister said Sunday that his government is "anxiously monitoring" the political unrest in Egypt, his first comment on the crisis threatening a regime that has been one of Israel's key allies for more than 30 years.

Israeli officials have remained largely silent about the situation in Egypt, but have made clear that preserving the historic 1979 peace agreement is a paramount interest. The peace, cool but stable, turned Israel's most potent regional enemy into a crucial partner, provided security on one of its borders and allowed it to significantly reduce the size of its army and defense budget.

"We are anxiously monitoring what is happening in Egypt and in our region," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said before his Cabinet's weekly meeting.

Bad Guys

Revolutionary Change in Egypt: Internal or Made in USA?

egypt key
© Illustration by Carlos Latuff
US imperial policy includes regime change, affecting foes as well as no longer useful friends. Past targets included former Philippines leader Ferdinand Marcos, Iran's Shah ( Mohammad Reza Pahlavi), and Iraq's Saddam Hussein, among others. According to some reports, Mubarak is next - aging, damaged and expendable.

George Friedman runs Stratfor, a private global intelligence service. On January 29, he issued a special Egypt report, saying:

On January 29, "Egypt's internal security forces (including Central Security Forces anti-riot paramilitaries) were glaringly absent" after confronting protesters forcefully for several days. Army personnel replaced them. Demonstrators welcomed them.

"There is more (going on) than meets the eye." While media reports focus on reform, democracy and human rights, "revolutions, including this one, are made up of many more actors than (Facebook and Twitter) liberal voices...." Some are, in fact, suspect, using social network sites for other than purported reasons.

Eye 1

US "Losing Credibility By The Day" on Egypt: ElBaradei

Mohamed ElBaradei
© Peter Macdiarmid, Getty Images, Agence France-Presse
Egyptian opposition leader Mohamed ElBaradei is surrounded by reporters as he arrives at Cairo airport on Thursday.
The United States is "losing credibility by the day" in calling for democracy in Egypt while continuing to support President Hosni Mubarak, leading dissident Mohamed ElBaradei said Sunday.

ElBaradei repeated his call for the longtime strongman to step down, going so far as to assert it should happen within the next three days.

"The American government cannot ask the Egyptian people to believe that a dictator who has been in power for 30 years will be the one to implement democracy," ElBaradei told US network CBS from Cairo.

"You are losing credibility by the day. On one hand you're talking about democracy, rule of law and human rights, and on the other hand you're lending still your support to a dictator that continues to oppress his people," added ElBaradei, the former head of the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency.

Vader

Obama demands change as Mubarak meets army

egypt,protesteres
© Associated Press

Cairo - The United States led an international push on Sunday to force President Hosni Mubarak to yield to Egyptians' demands for democracy. But there was little sign the army was about to end his 30-year rule -- just yet.

Egyptian diplomat Mohamed ElBaradei, claiming a mandate from disparate opposition groups to negotiate a handover of power with the military, called on Washington to "cut off life support to the dictator." Six days of unrest has killed more than 100 people, rocked the Middle East and rattled global investors.

But President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, along with European leaders, stopped short of urging the immediate departure of the 82-year-old Mubarak, who has made the most populous Arab state an ally of the West in its conflicts with Soviet communism and, now, with radical Islam.

Vader

Mubarak gives army shoot-to-kill order

Square in Cairo
© PressTV
Egyptian demonstrators gather at Tahrir Square in Cairo on January 30, 2011 on the sixth day of angry revolt against Hosni Mubarak's regime.

Reports say the army has been ordered to shoot when it sees fit. Military helicopters and jet fighters fly over major locations as the numbers of protesters multiply there.

Tens of thousands of people have practically taken over the Tahrir Square in the city center despite heavy military presence, a Press TV correspondent reported.

Clashes between demonstrators and police have left at least 150 people dead and thousands more wounded since anti-Mubarak rallies began in Cairo, Suez and Alexandria on Tuesday.

Protesters have one demand and that is the resignation of President Mubarak. They want a regime change and have dismissed Mubarak's appointment of a vice-president and prime minister.

Gear

US: Backlash over firing of pro-Palestinian professor

Image
© Wikipedia
The Brooklyn College campus and Kristofer Petersen-Overton (inset).
A group that defends academic freedom is going after Brooklyn College for the firing of an adjunct professor.

A watchdog group that defends academic freedom has now weighed in on the case of a Brooklyn College professor who was fired after complaints from a local politician about his pro-Palestinian views.

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) sent off a letter today to the president of Brooklyn College about the case of Kristofer Petersen-Overton, who was fired after he was appointed to teach a course on Middle East politics but before the class had actually started. I detailed the firing, which Brooklyn College maintains was a matter of credentials, here.

Cowboy Hat

Families of Egyptian Businessmen Leave Cairo in 19 Private Jets

Cairo - An official at Cairo airport says 19 private jets carrying families of wealthy Egyptian and Arab businessmen have flown out of the capital.

The official said the jets left Saturday carrying dozens of family members of Egypt's business elite. He said most of the planes were headed for Dubai.

The passengers included the families of telecom mogul Naguib Sawiris, the executive chairman of Orascom Telecom, and Hussein Salem, a hotel tycoon and close confidant of President Hosni Mubarak.

The exodus of the families comes as Egypt enters its sixth day of mass unrest directed against Mubarak and what they say have been policies that further enrich the wealthy at the average citizen's expense.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to brief the media.

USA

US National Guard troops heading to Egypt

Image
© Aleah Castrejon
Groton - Connecticut National Guard Detachment 2, Company I, 185th Aviation Regiment of Groton has mobilized and will deploy to the Sinai Peninsula, Egypt, to support the Multinational Force and Observers.

The unit left Connecticut Jan. 15 for Fort Benning, Ga., for further training and validation. The unit operates C-23C Sherpa aircraft and has deployed three times in the last seven years in support of the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The unit will provide an on-demand aviation asset to the Multinational Force and Observers commander to support its mission of supervising the security provisions of the Egypt/ Israel Peace Treaty.

Chief Warrant Officer Four James Smith of Ivoryton commands the aviation unit.

Comment: This curious bit of news managed to escape the attention of the Mainstream media.


Chess

Egypt: US-Backed Repression is Insight for American Public

Image
© Phil Disley
As thousands more Egyptian citizens take to the streets in anti-government protests, the country is in danger of witnessing a bloodbath - at the behest of Washington.

Defying a ban on public demonstrations by the government of President Hosni Mubarak, tens of thousands of Egyptians have for the fourth consecutive day rallied on the streets of the capital Cairo and other major cities calling for his abdication. Inspired by the mass uprising in neigbouring Tunisia earlier this month, which forced its president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali into exile, the protesters in Egypt are likewise demanding Mubarak and his government to quit.

Mubarak's military apparatus has so far shown brutal determination to suppress the uprising. As many as seven civilians have been killed by heavily armed riot police, hundreds are reported injured and more than 1,000 arrests have been made by secret security agents who were videoed bundling protesters into unmarked vehicles. Now the country's formidable military forces are reported to have taken up positions in public places in Cairo and elsewhere.

But it is Washington's latest intervention that could trigger an escalation of Egyptian state violence against its people. Speaking to media, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs described the Mubarak government as an "important ally" and that the US "expects" the 30-year-old regime to remain intact. Forget the hollow and cynical plea by Gibbs to the Egyptian government and protesters to refrain from violence, the key message is continuing US support for the regime. In other words, the US is assuring Mubarak that it stands full-square behind his bid to stay in power. Given that the already-lethal response of the Egyptian state did not draw a word of condemnation from the White House nor that the population's demands for democracy and social justice were unequivocally endorsed can only send the following code to Mubarak: do whatever you must to get these people off the streets.

Meanwhile, an Israeli cabinet minister probably voiced the unvarnished essence of the US position when he was quoted in Israeli media as urging the Mubarak to use lethal force to quell the protests. "They will have to use force, power in the streets..." the unnamed minister said.