Friday, February 11, 2011

Mubarak hands power over to Army

This is suprising, not only as Mubarak had vowed to hold on to power, but that the Army was able to do this without killing him. Notice also that Mubarak is not fleeing Egypt, but is staying in the South Sinai. What is not being asked is who persuaded the Army to do this, and of the reprecussions this will have on the region. Even stranger is the role al-jazeera has played in inciting these riots, instead of acting impartial they have played into the hands of the cfr controllers, as the editorial below by mark levine discussing a new world order demonstrates. Notice also the date this occured, exactly 32 years after the cia/mi6 guadeloupe backed khomeini seized control in Iran. This is NOT a popular uprising removing a dictator, this is history repeating itself as western factions incite the masses to remove someone they percieve as a threat.
Peter Khan Zendran

Middle East

Hosni Mubarak resigns as president

Egyptian president stands down and hands over power to the Supreme
Council for the Armed Forces.
Last Modified: 11 Feb 2011 16:19 GMT
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Pro-democracy protesters in Tahrir Square have vowed to take the
protests to a 'last and final stage' [AFP]

Hosni Mubarak, the Egyptian president, has resigned from his post,
handing over power to the armed forces.

Omar Suleiman, the vice-president, announced in a televised address that
the president was "waiving" his office, and had handed over authority to
the Supreme Council of the armed forces.

Suleiman's short statement was received with a roar of approval and by
celebratory chanting and flag-waving from a crowd of hundreds of
thousands in Cairo's Tahrir Square, as well by pro-democracy campaigners
who attended protests across the country on Friday.

The crowd in Tahrir chanted "We have brought down the regime", while
many were seen crying, cheering and embracing one another.

Mohamed ElBaradei, an opposition leader, hailed the moment as being the
"greatest day of my life", in comments to the Associated Press news

"The country has been liberated after decades of repression,'' he said.

"Tonight, after all of these weeks of frustration, of violence, of
intimidation ... today the people of Egypt undoubtedly [feel they] have
been heard, not only by the president, but by people all around the
world," our correspondent at Tahrir Square reported, following the

"The sense of euphoria is simply indescribable," our correspondent at
Mubarak's Heliopolis presidential palace, where at least ten thousand
pro-democracy activists had gathered, said.

Pro-democracy activists in the Egyptian capital had marched on the
presidential palace and state television buildings on Friday, the 18th
consecutive day of protests.

Anger at state television

At the state television building earlier in the day, thousands had
blocked people from entering or leaving, accusing the broadcaster of
supporting the current government and of not truthfully reporting on the

"The military has stood aside and people are flooding through [a gap
where barbed wire has been moved aside]," Al Jazeera's correspondent at
the state television building reported.

He said that "a lot of anger [was] generated" after Mubarak's speech
last night, where he repeated his vow to complete his term as president.

'Gaining momentum'

Outside the palace in Heliopolis, where at least ten thousand protesters
had gathered in Cairo, another Al Jazeera correspondent reported that
there was a strong military presence, but that there was "no indication
that the military want[ed] to crack down on protesters".

Click here for more of Al Jazeera's special coverage
She said that army officers had engaged in dialogue with protesters, and
that remarks had been largely "friendly".

Tanks and military personnel had been deployed to bolster barricades
around the palace.

Our correspondent said the crowd in Heliopolis was "gaining momentum by
the moment", and that the crowd had gone into a frenzy when two
helicopters were seen in the air around the palace grounds.

"By all accounts this is a highly civilised gathering. people are
separated from the palace by merely a barbed wire ... but nobody has
even attempted to cross that wire," she said.

As crowds grew outside the palace, Mubarak left Cairo on Friday for the
Red Sea resort of Sharm al-Shaikh, according to sources who spoke to Al

In Tahrir Square, hundreds of thousands of protesters gathered, chanting
slogans against Mubarak and calling for the military to join them in
their demands.

Our correspondent at the square said the "masses" of pro-democracy
campaigners there appeared to have "clear resolution" and "bigger
resolve" to achieve their goals than ever before.

However, he also said that protesters were "confused by mixed messages"
coming from the army, which has at times told them that their demands
will be met, yet in communiques and other statements supported Mubarak's
staying in power until at least September.

Army statement

In a statement read out on state television at midday on Friday, the
military announced that it would lift a 30-year-old emergency law but
only "as soon as the current circumstances end".


Thousands are laying siege to state television's office

The military said it would also guarantee changes to the constitution as
well as a free and fair election, and it called for normal business
activity to resume.

Al Jazeera's correspondent in Tahrir Square said people there were
hugely disappointed with that army statement, and had vowed to take the
protests to "a last and final stage".

"They're frustrated, they're angry, and they say protests need to go
beyond Liberation [Tahrir] Square, to the doorstep of political
institutions," she said.

Protest organisers have called for 20 million people to come out on
"Farewell Friday" in a final attempt to force Mubarak to step down.

Alexandria protests

Hossam El Hamalawy, a pro-democracy organiser and member of the
Socialist Studies Centre, said protesters were heading towards the
presidential palace from multiple directions, calling on the army to
side with them and remove Mubarak.

"People are extremely angry after yesterday's speech," he told Al
Jazeera. "Anything can happen at the moment. There is self-restraint all
over but at the same time I honestly can't tell you what the next step
will be ... At this time, we don't trust them [the army commanders] at

An Al Jazeera reporter overlooking Tahrir said the side streets leading
into the square were filling up with crowds.

"It's an incredible scene. From what I can judge, there are more people
here today than yesterday night," she said.

Hundreds of thousands of protesters havehered
in the port city of Alexandria [AFP]
"The military has not gone into the square except some top commanders,
one asking people to go home ... I don't see any kind of tensions
between the people and the army but all of this might change very soon
if the army is seen as not being on the side of the people."

Hundreds of thousands were participating in Friday prayers outside a
mosque in downtown Alexandria, Egypt's second biggest city.

Thousands of pro-democracy campaigners also gathered outside a
presidential palace in Alexandria.

Egyptian television reported that large angry crowds were heading from
Giza, adjacent to Cairo, towards Tahrir Square and some would march on
the presidential palace.

Protests are also being held in the cities of Mansoura, Mahala, Tanta,
Ismailia, and Suez, with thousands in attendance.

Violence was reported in the north Sinai town of el-Arish, where
protesters attempted to storm a police station. At least one person was
killed, and 20 wounded in that attack, our correspondent said.

Dismay at earlier statement

In a televised address to the nation on Thursday, Mubarak said he was
handing "the functions of the president" to Vice-President Omar
Suleiman. But the move means he retains his title of president.

Halfway through his much-awaited speech late at night, anticipation
turned into anger among protesters camped in Tahrir Square who began
taking off their shoes and waving them in the air.

Immediately after Mubarak's speech, Suleiman called on the protesters to
"go home" and asked Egyptians to "unite and look to the future."

Union workers have joined the protests over the past few days,
effectively crippling transportation and several industries, and dealing
a sharper blow to Mubarak’s embattled regime.

Source: Al Jazeera and agencies

The shaping of a New World Order

If the revolutions of 2011 succeed, they will force the creation of a
very different regional and world system.
Mark LeVine Last Modified: 06 Feb 2011 15:07 GMT
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Armed women on guard at one of Tehran's main squares at the start of the
Iranian Revolution [Getty]

I remember the images well, even though I was too young to understand
their political significance. But they were visceral, those photos in
the New York Times from Tehran in the midst of its revolutionary moment
in late 1978 and early 1979. Not merely exuberance jumped from the page,
but also anger; anger fuelled by an intensity of religious fervour that
seemed so alien as to emanate from another planet to a "normal" pre-teen
American boy being shown the newspaper by his father over breakfast.

Many commentators are comparing Egypt to Iran of 32 years ago, mostly to
warn of the risks of the country descending into some sort of Islamist
dictatorship that would tear up the peace treaty with Israel, engage in
anti-American policies, and deprive women and minorities of their rights
(as if they had so many rights under the Mubarak dictatorship).

I write this on February 2, the precise anniversary of Khomeini's return
to Tehran from exile. It's clear that, while religion is a crucial
foundation of Egyptian identity and Mubarak's level of corruption and
brutality could give the Shah a run for his money, the situations are
radically different on the ground.

A most modern and insane revolt

The following description, I believe, sums up what Egypt faces today as
well as, if not better, than most:

"It is not a revolution, not in the literal sense of the term, not a way
of standing up and straightening things out. It is the insurrection of
men with bare hands who want to lift the fearful weight, the weight of
the entire world order that bears down on each of us - but more
specifically on them, these ... workers and peasants at the frontiers of
empires. It is perhaps the first great insurrection against global
systems, the form of revolt that is the most modern and the most insane.

One can understand the difficulties facing the politicians. They outline
solutions, which are easier to find than people say ... All of them are
based on the elimination of the [president]. What is it that the people
want? Do they really want nothing more? Everybody is quite aware that
they want something completely different. This is why the politicians
hesitate to offer them simply that, which is why the situation is at an
impasse. Indeed, what place can be given, within the calculations of
politics, to such a movement, to a movement through which blows the
breath of a religion that speaks less of the hereafter than of the
transfiguration of this world?"

The thing is, it was offered not by some astute commentator of the
current moment, but rather by the legendary French philosopher Michel
Foucault, after his return from Iran, where he witnessed firsthand the
intensity of the revolution which, in late 1978, before Khomeini's
return, really did seem to herald the dawn of a new era.

Foucault was roundly criticised by many people after Khomeini hijacked
the revolution for not seeing the writing on the wall. But the reality
was that, in those heady days where the shackles of oppression were
literally being shattered, the writing was not on the wall. Foucault
understood that it was precisely a form of "insanity" that was necessary
to risk everything for freedom, not just against one's government, but
against the global system that has nuzzled him in its bosom for so long.

What was clear, however, was that the powers that most supported the
Shah, including the US, dawdled on throwing their support behind the
masses who were toppling him. While this is by no means the principal
reason for Khomeini's successful hijacking of the revolution, it
certainly played an important role in the rise of a militantly
anti-American government social force, with disastrous results.

While Obama's rhetoric moved more quickly towards the Egyptian people
than did President Carter's towards Iranians three decades ago, his
refusal to call for Mubarak's immediate resignation raises suspicion
that, in the end, the US would be satisfied if Mubarak was able to ride
out the protests and engineer a "democratic" transition that left
American interests largely intact.

The breath of religion

Foucault was also right to assign such a powerful role to religion in
the burgeoning revolutionary moment - and he experienced what he called
a "political spirituality", But, of course, religion can be defined in
so many ways. The protestant theologian Paul Tillich wonderfully
described it as encompassing whatever was of "ultimate concern" to a
person or people. And today, clearly, most every Egyptian has gotten
religion from this perspective.

So many people, including Egypt's leaders, have used the threat of a
Muslim Brotherhood takeover to justify continued dictatorship, with Iran
as the historical example to justify such arguments. But the comparison
is plagued by historical differences. The Brotherhood has no leader of
Khomeini's stature and foreswore violence decades ago. Nor is there a
culture of violent martyrdom ready to be actualised by legions of young
men, as occurred with the Islamic Revolution. Rather than trying to take
over the movement, which clearly would never have been accepted - even
if its leaders wanted to seize the moment, the Brotherhood is very much
playing catch up with the evolving situation and has so far worked
within the rather ad hoc leadership of the protests.

But it is equally clear that religion is a crucial component of the
unfolding dynamic. Indeed, perhaps the iconic photo of the revolution is
one of throngs of people in Tahrir Square bowed in prayers, literally
surrounding a group of tanks sent there to assert the government's

This is a radically different image of Islam than most people - in the
Muslim world as much as in the West - are used to seeing: Islam taking
on state violence through militant peaceful protest; peaceful jihad
(although it is one that has occurred innumerable times around the
Muslim world, just at a smaller scale and without the world's press
there to capture it).

Such imagery, and its significance, is a natural extension of the
symbolism of Mohamed Bouazizi's self-immolation, an act of jihad that
profoundly challenges the extroverted violence of the jihadis and
militants who for decades, and especially since 9/11, have dominated the
public perception of Islam as a form of political spirituality.

Needless to say, the latest images - of civil war inside Tahrir Square -
will immediately displace these other images. Moreover, if the violence
continues and some Egyptian protesters lose their discipline and start
engaging in their own premeditated violence against the regime and its
many tentacles, there is little doubt their doing so will be offered as
"proof" that the protests are both violent and organised by the Muslim
Brotherhood or other "Islamists".

A greater threat than al-Qa'eda

As this dynamic of nonviolent resistance against entrenched regime
violence plays out, it is worth noting that so far, Osama bin Laden and
his Egyptian deputy, Ayman Al-Zawahiri, have had little - if anything -
of substance to say about the revolution in Egypt. What they've failed
to ignite with an ideology of a return to a mythical and pure beginning
- and a strategy of human bombs, IEDs, and planes turned into missiles -
a disciplined, forward-thinking yet amorphous group of young activists
and their more experienced comrades, "secular" and "religious" together
(to the extent these terms are even relevant anymore), have succeeded in
setting a fire with a universal discourse of freedom, democracy and
human values - and a strategy of increasingly calibrated chaos aimed at
uprooting one of the world's longest serving dictators.

As one chant in Egypt put it succinctly, playing on the longstanding
chants of Islamists that "Islam is the solution", with protesters
shouting: "Tunisia is the solution."

For those who don't understand why President Obama and his European
allies are having such a hard time siding with Egypt's forces of
democracy, the reason is that the amalgam of social and political forces
behind the revolutions in Tunisia, Egypt today - and who knows where
tomorrow - actually constitute a far greater threat to the "global
system" al-Qa'eda has pledged to destroy than the jihadis roaming the
badlands of Afghanistan, Pakistan, or Yemen.

Mad as hell

Whether Islamist or secularist, any government of "of the people" will
turn against the neoliberal economic policies that have enriched
regional elites while forcing half or more of the population to live
below the $2 per day poverty line. They will refuse to follow the US or
Europe's lead in the war on terror if it means the continued large scale
presence of foreign troops on the region's soil. They will no longer
turn a blind eye, or even support, Israel's occupation and siege across
the Occupied Palestinian territories. They will most likely shirk from
spending a huge percentage of their national income on bloated
militaries and weapons systems that serve to enrich western defence
companies and prop up autocratic governments, rather than bringing
stability and peace to their countries - and the region as a whole.

They will seek, as China, India and other emerging powers have done, to
move the centre of global economic gravity towards their region, whose
educated and cheap work forces will further challenge the more expensive
but equally stressed workforces of Europe and the United States.

In short, if the revolutions of 2011 succeed, they will force the
creation of a very different regional and world system than the one that
has dominated the global political economy for decades, especially since
the fall of communism.

This system could bring the peace and relative equality that has so long
been missing globally - but it will do so in good measure by further
eroding the position of the United States and other "developed" or
"mature" economies. If Obama, Sarkozy, Merkel and their colleagues don't
figure out a way to live with this scenario, while supporting the
political and human rights of the peoples of the Middle East and North
Africa, they will wind up with an adversary far more cunning and
powerful than al-Qa'eda could ever hope to be: more than 300 million
newly empowered Arabs who are mad as hell and are not going to take it
any more.

Mark LeVine is a professor of history at UC Irvine and senior visiting
researcher at the Centre for Middle Eastern Studies at Lund University
in Sweden. His most recent books are Heavy Metal Islam (Random House)
and Impossible Peace: Israel/Palestine Since 1989 (Zed Books).

The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not
necessarily reflect Al Jazeera's editorial policy.

Source: Al Jazeera


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