Saturday, January 29, 2011

'The Long Night of Misery Is Just Beginning'

The Jasmine Revolution has delivered yet another smack in the face to the myth of American moral leadership in the so-called Free World.

The common people of Egypt have taken to the streets to try to bring down the U.S.puppet government of Hosni Mubarak, whose increasingly cruel 30-year rule has been sustained by American dollars, weapons and corporations. 

Egypt's massive protests were fueled by the successful revolution in Tunisia which ended the 23-year dictatorship of the American-backed tyrant, President Ben Ali.  They come amid similar, if as yet smaller, protests against the repressive U.S.- backed regimes in Jordan, Algeria and Yemen.

When the truncheons, riot shields and tear gas of his corrupt police failed to contain the uprising in Cairo and other cities, Mubarak called in the army whose weaponry he received from his United States benefactors.

      [UPDATE:  The following is from an AP report Saturday:

      His grip on power was further challenged Saturday as the military that he had 
     deployed to take back control of the streets showed few signs of suppressing
     the unrest, and in several cases the army took the side of the protesters in the 
     capital and the northern port city of Alexandria. 

      In the most striking instance, members of the army joined with a crowd of 
     thousands of protesters in a pitched battle against Egyptian security police 
     officers defending the Interior Ministry on Saturday afternoon. 

      Protesters crouched behind armored trucks as they advanced on the ministry
     building, hurling rocks and a few Molotov cocktails and setting abandoned cars 
     on fire. But the soldiers providing cover for the advancing protesters refused their
     pleas to open fire on the security police, while the police defending the ministry 
     battered the protesters with tear gas, buckshot and rubber bullets. There were
     pools of blood in the streets as protesters carried a number of wounded back out 
     of their ranks]

Our London correspondent, a former Woodrow Wilson fellow and an award-winning contemporary historian, notes:

"The Arab 'street' is at last rebelling against repressive, tyrannical regimes put in place and kept in place by the U.S.  They must be shitting themselves at Foggy Bottom and the Pentagon.  How to 'we' prop up these dictators while maintaining the pretense of supporting freedom, democracy, self-determination etc? And how to 'we' do so without making the mass of the Arab world hate us even more?

"One has to laugh or cry."

Indeed, the Oz world inside the Beltway reverberates these days with those very questions as insiders across the political spectrum offer their solutions -- be more like Bush, be less like Bush, send more aid, cut off aid, teach 'them' more about Democracy. . . .They treat these events, as usual, like moves on a great global chess board for which the U.S. Empire makes the rules and decides who wins and who loses. Nowhere in any of these solutions does any expert exhibit the slightest concern about the people under the heel of these regimes, the people in the streets.

An opposition leader, Mohammed El Baradei, flew in from exile to join them.  "Egypt," he said, "is one big prison."

A victim of that prison, who had been raped and tortured by Mubarak's corrupt police, was in the streets, too. "I hope Mubarak dies tonight," he shouted.

Mubarak dismissed his cabinet but vowed to stay on himself as president and to appoint a new government today (Saturday).  "My government is stepping down," a protester said, "but I am not.  The long night of misery is just beginning."

Some see El Baradei as a potential savior of Egypt.  He is a former UN official and won a Nobel Peace Prize for his opposition to the invasion of Iraq.  But on the street his Peace Prize isn't worth a lot. "He should go and share a room with that asshole Ben Ali in his Jidah hotel," a protester said. El Baradei is thought of -- if he is thought of at all -- as a mere political opportunist by the people in the streets.

For three decades he has neither seen nor experienced their abject poverty.  Eighty million people in Egypt are hopelessly poor, starving poor. Half the population lives on $2 a day or less.  Ghada Shabander, a human rights activist, put it this way: "Egyptians are sick and tired of being corrupted, living on $51 a month.  You have two choices: you either become a beggar or a thief.  We are not beggars.  And we do not want to become thieves."  And someone who can afford a  newspaper reads to them from a Cairo daily a report that one of Mubarak's top aides has fled the country with 97 suitcases stuffed with cash.

And America?  America is the source of the tear gas canisters the police hurl into the protesting mobs. On the street, an Arab man with bruised face and bloody arms holds up a spent canister so that a western reporter can read its markings: "Made in the USA by Combined Tactical Systems, Jamestown, PA."  Also made in the USA: the war gear of the troops surging today into Cairo, Suez, Alexandria, Luxor, Mahla and Manoura to put an end to the rising of the people.

Moral leadership, indeed.

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