Archive for the RACHEL CORRIE BRIGADES Category

EGYPTIAN INTIFADA: A Timeline (Week 1)

Posted in RACHEL CORRIE BRIGADES on February 8, 2011 by The 800 Pound Gorilla

 

Veterans Today; February 8, 2011

Whoever comes out on top after the dust settles in Egypt, one thing’s for certain: the political equation in the Middle East — characterized for decades by Israeli regional hegemony — will never be the same again.

Along with being the Arab world’s most populous country, with a majority-Muslim population of more than 80 million, Egypt represents a strategic bridge between Asia and Africa. What’s more, Egypt — Washington’s best friend in the region after Israel — also controls the Suez Canal, a vital means of transit both for international commerce and US naval forces in the Middle East.

And, perhaps most importantly for neoconservative policymakers in Washington, Egypt shares a 260-kilometer border with Israel and a 14-kilometer border with the Hamas-governed Gaza Strip. While Cairo has had official relations with Tel Aviv since 1979 under the terms of the Camp David peace agreement, the peace is a cold one, and the agreement deeply unpopular with broad swathes of the Egyptian public.

Under the 30-year-old rule of President Hosni Mubarak, Egypt has gradually become a de facto ally of the self-proclaimed Jewish state, despite deep-rooted pubic opposition — opposition driven largely by Israel’s litany of crimes committed at the expense of the Palestinian people. This alliance has culminated in the almost four-year-old siege of the Gaza Strip, initiated by Tel Aviv and abetted by Cairo, which has effectively made prisoners of the strip’s 1.5 million inhabitants.

If Egypt were allowed to hold democratic elections and produce a truly representative leadership, Cairo’s foreign policy orientations would no doubt be subject to dramatic change. The looming battle for control of Egypt, therefore, will largely determine the shape of the region’s future geopolitical landscape.

Tuesday, Jan. 25: ‘The Day of Anger’ A “day of anger,” originally organized by online activists to protest police abuses and official corruption, quickly snowballed beyond anyone’s expectations. Thousands of protesters — tens of thousands in some areas — turned out across the country to demand relief from skyrocketing inflation and rampant unemployment, twin features of the Mubarak regime’s “neo-liberal” economic policies. In addition to these economic grievances, demonstrators also demanded free elections and the termination of Egypt’s draconian Emergency Law.

In Cairo, protesters gathered in the centrally-located Tahrir Square, where demands for economic and political reform soon gave way to calls for Mubarak’s ouster. “The people — want — the fall of the regime!” they shouted, in what would become the uprising’s rallying cry.

The demonstrations in Egypt came quick on the heels of a popular uprising in Tunisia in mid-January. Tunisia’s “Jasmine Revolution” ended with the fall of the regime of President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali, who had ruled the country with an iron fist for 23 years.

Wednesday, Thursday; Jan. 26, 27

By Wednesday morning, police had managed — with the use of teargas, water cannons and rubber bullets — to flush protestors from Tahrir Square. Unbeknownst to most observers, however, the wave of demonstrations — destined to become a nationwide popular rebellion — had only just begun.

Despite warnings from the Egypt’s interior ministry that police would adopt a zero-tolerance policy against further protests, demonstrations continued in most Egyptian cities for the next two days, with the biggest taking place in Cairo, Alexandria and the northern canal city of Suez.

Police, meanwhile, used increasingly heavy-handed tactics to disperse the rapidly swelling crowds. By Thursday evening, at least six protesters had been killed and hundreds more injured in mounting violence. Thousands more were said to have been arrested by police.

Wednesday and Thursday also saw the arrest of hundreds of leading members of the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt’s largest — if unlicensed — opposition movement. The government justified the move by claiming falsely that the group stood behind the growing wave of demonstrations.

Meanwhile, calls circulated online for countrywide protests, dubbed a “Friday of Rage,” to be staged the next day following Friday noon prayers.

Late Thursday night, in anticipation of the planned Friday protests, Internet access and mobile-phone communications in Cairo, Alexandria and Suez were abruptly cut. Land-line communications, however, remained intact.

Friday, January 28: ‘The Friday of Rage’

Demonstrations climaxed following noon prayers, when more than a million Egyptians poured out of the nation’s mosques to hold protests in city centers and public squares in cities throughout the country. In Cairo, more than one hundred thousand people, coming from all over the capital, gathered again in Tahrir Square, where they vowed to remain until Mubarak’s ouster.

Clashes of unprecedented violence soon erupted between protesters and police, who fought vainly to quell the escalating unrest. At 5:00 PM, Mubarak decreed that a curfew — from 6:00 PM to 7:00 AM the next morning — be applied in Cairo, Alexandria and Suez. Demonstrators, however, their numbers swelling by the hour, ignored the curfew and continued to roam the three cities’ streets.

In the early afternoon, it was reported that Israel’s embassy staff in Cairo had hastily departed the country due to the mounting unrest.

At about 6:00 PM, dozens of unidentified gunmen attempted to break into Egypt’s national museum in Tahrir Square, home to one of the world’s most extensive collections of archaeological artifacts. Following a violent confrontation between gunmen and protesters, in which several of the latter were killed, the armed men were found to be carrying police identification cards.

At about 7:00 PM, the Egyptian Army, in an effort to secure important symbols of governance, deployed on the streets of Cairo, Alexandria and Suez. Protesters welcomed the appearance of the Egyptian armed forces, which — unlike the police — are widely respected by much of the public for the role they played in past wars with Israel.

To the cheers of demonstrators, who called on the army to save them from police aggression, tanks and armored personnel carriers rolled through the streets of the capital for the first time in decades. Meanwhile, the police — which, unlike the army, are broadly disliked due to their reputation for abuse and corruption — were completely withdrawn from the capital only hours earlier.

Offices of Mubarak’s ruling National Democratic Party (NDP), along with numerous local police stations, were burnt down in several provinces. Twenty-six police stations were torched in Cairo alone immediately following the withdrawal of police. Evidence would later emerge strongly suggesting that elements of the police themselves were behind much of the arson.

By the end of the day, hundreds of protesters had been killed in clashes with police, while thousands more were injured. Satellite news channels began airing images of dead protesters sprawled in hospital morgues.

Saturday, January 29: ‘The Day of Terror’

In a televised address shortly after midnight, Mubarak — in his first appearance since the uprising began — announced the dismissal of his government, which had been dominated largely by wealthy busy tycoons.

At about 10:00 AM, mobile-phone services were restored in Cairo, Alexandria and Suez.

In the early afternoon, state television reported that Mubarak had, for the first time since becoming president in 1981, appointed a vice-president — General intelligence chief Omar Suleiman — meeting a longstanding demand of the Egyptian opposition. About two hours later, Mubarak appointed a new prime minister, Ahmed Shafik, a former air-force commander and civil aviation minister.

The concessions, however, failed to satisfy protesters, who vowed to maintain nationwide demonstrations until Mubarak’s unconditional ouster. Tens of thousands of demonstrators in Tahrir Square also demanded the release of arrested protesters, the formulation of a new constitution, and democratically-held parliamentary and presidential elections.

Since the early morning, reports had circulated about rooftop snipers picking off protesters near the Interior Ministry building, not far from Tahrir Square. By the end of the day, 13 demonstrators were said to have been killed by the as-yet unidentified shooters.

In the late afternoon, Mubarak again imposed a curfew on the three most volatile cities, from 4:00 PM to 8:00 AM the next morning. For the second night in a row, however, the curfew was largely ignored, as protesters continued to spill out on the streets in force.

In the early evening, it was reported on several news channels that prominent regime figures, along with their families, had fled the country. These included Mubarak’s son, Gamal, an influential member of the ruling party who many had believed was being groomed to succeed his 82-year-old father.

Shortly after sunset, rumors spread that major commercial streets in Cairo, Alexandria and Suez were being looted and torched by roving gangs of armed criminals. Word had it that the looters were going house to house, robbing and killing local residents. There were even scattered reports of rape. Most if not all of these rumors later proved unfounded.

Unconfirmed reports also spread quickly that large numbers of convicted convicts had escaped from prisons in and around Cairo. While most of these reports originated from state television, the rumors spread like wildfire, fueling panic among the already-terrified population.

The chaos and confusion — which were largely orchestrated by elements of the police and government — had its desired effect, as large numbers of terrorized demonstrators ran back to their homes to protect their families and property.

Throughout the night, gunfire could be heard in most neighborhoods throughout the three cities. As fear mounted, local residents organized neighborhood patrols to deter would-be looters. Throughout the night, local residents could be seen on almost every street corner brandishing cleavers, crowbars and tire irons.

Sunday, January 30

“We are anxiously monitoring what is happening in Egypt and in our region,” Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu was quoted as saying at a morning meeting with his cabinet. “Peace between Israel and Egypt has endured for over three decades and our goal is to ensure these relations continue.”

It was also reported that Tel Aviv had allowed the Egyptian army to deploy two army battalions in the Sinai Peninsula. Under the terms of the Camp David peace agreement, Egypt is prohibited from making military deployments in Sinai without Tel Aviv’s consent.

At noon, Egyptian authorities abruptly closed the Cairo offices of Qatar-based satellite news channel Al Jazeera. Up until that point, Al Jazeera — both its Arabic- and Engish-language channels — had provided the closest coverage of the ongoing uprising.

Countrywide demonstrations, meanwhile, continued to gather momentum. At about 2:00 PM, hundreds of university professors and reformist judges — the latter of whom had long demanded an independent judiciary — joined the hundreds of thousands of protesters already arrayed in Tahrir Square.

Shortly afterward, thousands of demonstrators attempted to storm the now-evacuated Israeli embassy in central Cairo. But the army, whose presence on the streets was now pervasive, quickly intervened to stop them.

At about 3:00 PM, a neighborhood patrol in the Nile Delta city of Mansoura announced that it had detained 78 men caught looting shops in the area. According to reports, the men were later found to be members of the government’s secret police.

At about 4:00 PM, F-16 warplanes began making sorties over the skies over Cairo.

At about 4:30, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton declared that Washington wanted “to see an orderly transition [of power in Egypt], so that no one fills a void.” She called for “a well thought out plan that will bring about a democratic participatory government.”

Clinton’s statements were met with derision by Egyptian political figures and commentators, who opined that Clinton was “the last person who should be talking about democracy in Egypt.”

At about 5:30 PM, Internet services were fully restored countrywide.

At this point, reports began to emerge that elements of the police had in fact been behind much of the reported looting and vandalism — an apparent attempt to promote the false impression that the withdrawal of police would inevitably lead to security breakdowns. It was also to emerge later that elements of the police had intentionally released thousands of convicted criminals from police stations in and around Cairo.

http://www.almasryalyoum.com/en/news/leave-and-dont-look-back-masked-gunmen-tell-freed-prison-inmates

Meanwhile, anti-regime demonstrations continued to rage across the country, despite the extension of the curfew from 3:00 PM to 8:00 AM. Along with Cairo, Alexandria and Suez, massive protests were also staged in Mansoura, Mahalla, Ismailia, Fayoum, Port Said and Aswan, along with numerous other Egyptian cities and towns. In the city of Menoufiya, Mubarak’s home town, thousands turned out to demand Mubarak’s ouster.

As the death toll continued to climb, calls at Tahrir Square for Mubarak’s resignation turned into calls for putting regime leaders on trial for murder.

At about 10:00 PM, a White House spokesman announced that US President Barack Obama had told the leaders of Israel, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and the UK that the US supported “an orderly transition to a government that is responsive to the aspirations of the Egyptian people.”

Monday, January 31

At about 10:30 AM, as demonstrations continued nationwide, Mubarak announced on state television that he had instructed the new government to begin talks with protest leaders.

At noon, Al Jazeera reported that Suez Canal traffic was functioning normally, if behind schedule. One hour later, Arabic-language news channel Al-Arabiya reported that the Alexandria seaport had been indefinitely closed.

Shortly after 1:00 PM, it was reported that Mubarak had appointed a new interior minister, Mahmoud Wagdi, to replace the highly unpopular Habib al-Adli. State television broadcast images of other new government ministers being sworn in by the president.

At about the same time, Israeli President Shimon Peres was quoted by the press as saying: “We always have had and still have a great respect for Mubarak. I don’t say everything that he did was right, but he did one thing for which all of us are thankful to him: he kept the peace in the Middle East.”

Roughly one hour later, Mubarak appointed former North Sinai governor Murad Muwafi to replace Omar Suleiman, now the vice-president, as Egypt’s chief of general intelligence.

The hundreds of thousands of protesters still in Tahrir Square, along with hundreds of thousands more in Alexandria, rejected the new appointments, reiterating their demand for Mubarak’s ouster. Activists began issuing calls for a million-man protest in the square the following day.

Netanyahu, meanwhile, warned that the ongoing uprising could lead to an Iran-style Islamic revolution in Egypt. “Our real fear is of a situation that could develop… and which has already developed in several countries including Iran itself — repressive regimes of radical Islam,” he was quoted as saying.

At about 8:30 PM, Reuters reported that international oil prices had jumped to $101 on the back of ongoing political turmoil in Egypt.

Shortly afterward, an army spokesman announced on state television that the Egyptian Armed Forces “recognized the legitimate demands of the people.” He went on to vow that that the army “had not and would not use force against the people.”

At about 10:30, as roads into Cairo were closed in an effort to stop the would-be protesters now pouring into the capital, newly-appointed VP Suleiman announced his readiness to hold talks with the opposition and carry out “political and economic reforms.” Protesters, however, simply reiterated their demand for Mubarak’s removal.

Shortly before midnight, it was reported that Washington had dispatched former US ambassador to Egypt Frank Wisner to Cairo to consult with the embattled Egyptian president. “As someone with deep experience in the region, [Wisner] is meeting with Egyptian officials and providing his assessment,” said a White House spokesman.

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EGYPTIAN INTIFADA: Tahrir Square protesters dig in for trench warfare

Posted in RACHEL CORRIE BRIGADES on February 8, 2011 by The 800 Pound Gorilla

Inter Press Service (IPS); February 7, 2011

CAIRO — Tens of thousands of protesters continue to occupy Cairo’s Tahrir Square to demand the ouster of longstanding President Hosni Mubarak. The regime is waging a war of attrition aimed at exhausting demonstrators – and the population at large. But the protest is holding firm.

Since early Sunday morning, army tanks deployed along the fringes of the ongoing demonstration have attempted to make gradual inroads into the square. Protesters – whose numbers continue to swell as more people stream in from all over Egypt – are adamantly refusing to give ground.

“They are literally sleeping under the tanks,” Ahmed al-Assy, a 32-year-old demonstrator who spent Sunday night in the square told IPS. “If the army tries to take any more ground, they’ll have to run over us.”

“The government is using economic siege to tire out protesters and turn the public against the revolution,” Ahmed Maher, general coordinator of the 6 April protest movement, which has played a leading role in the uprising, told IPS. “They are depriving the Tahrir protesters of badly needed provisions while blaming the ongoing demonstrations for price hikes and supply shortages.”

Since Jan. 25, Egyptians have hit the streets countrywide in unprecedented numbers to demand the departure of Mubarak – who has ruled the country for three decades – and his unpopular regime. Demonstrations have been marked by almost daily clashes between police and protesters, in which hundreds have been killed and thousands injured.

Since the beginning of the uprising, demonstrators have converged on Cairo’s centrally located Tahrir Square, which they continue to occupy in vast numbers. On Friday, hundreds of thousands of demonstrators gathered at the square on a “Day of Departure” – for Mubarak.

They are now calling for a “Week of Steadfastness” during which they plan to remain in the square until Mubarak’s unconditional resignation. Police violence and intimidation have so far failed to dislodge them.

“They’re terrorizing the demonstrators,” said a 26-year-old activist who took part in Friday’s “Departure” protest. “Pro-government thugs on the square’s outskirts throw stones at the protesters, while freedom of movement is completely curtailed.”

Over the course of the last two weeks, the regime has employed a variety of techniques aimed at wearing down protesters’ resolve and dampening public support for the uprising.

On the fourth day of protests on Jan. 29, following the withdrawal of police from the streets of Cairo, state media disseminated rumours about roving gangs of looters and criminals going house to house terrorizing residents – there were even scattered reports of rape. Although the rumours later proved unfounded, they succeeded in driving a significant portion of the Tahrir protesters – fearing for their families and property – back to their homes.

Authorities appeared unable to prevent Friday’s “Departure” protest due to the sheer numbers involved. But they did what they could to make life as difficult as possible for participants by depriving them of access to food, water and basic facilities.

One day earlier, security forces raided the Hisham Mubarak Law Centre, a Cairo-based human rights organization with offices located not far from Tahrir Square. Along with mobilizing activists via Internet and mobile phone, the centre had planned to help re-supply protesters with needed medical supplies.

“Security forces seized most of our equipment and arrested the activists working there,” Mohamed Adel, 6 April press director told IPS. “And in the two days before the protest, the army, along with government thugs, prevented the entry of any food or medicine into the square. We watched as the army seized and destroyed all the medicine that people tried to bring in to the protesters.”

Demonstrators who ventured out from Tahrir into adjacent neighbourhoods seeking food and supplies were no more fortunate.

“We tried to buy some food from a nearby shop, but we were threatened by a pro-Mubarak thug who pulled a knife on us,” said one 34-year-old demonstrator who camped out at Tahrir Square on Friday night. “He accused us of trying to steal food before ordering us to go home.”

Life for Cairo’s general populace, meanwhile, has been made much more difficult by evening curfews (imposed every day since Jan. 28), general supply shortages and bank closures. Many have complained about abrupt price hikes and the inability to find basic commodities.

“For at least one week now, lines for subsidized bread have stretched around the block,” Rasha Mahmoud, a 31-year-old housewife from Cairo’s low- income Sayyeda Zeinab district told IPS. “To get a canister of gas for my oven, I practically have to sleep outside the outlet where they’re sold.”

State media has deftly used the situation as a propaganda weapon, placing all blame for the turbulent state of affairs on the ongoing demonstrations.

“When will these demonstrators return to their homes and stop causing these problems?” asked one agitated caller on state television’s Channel 1. “With all the banks closed, I can’t get the money I need to buy food.”

The strategy has not been without effect.

“I stopped participating in the Tahrir Square demonstrations on Jan. 1,” Moatez Mohamed Gamil, 29-year-old sales director at a private Cairo-based company told IPS. “Prices are going up and now it’s difficult to find gasoline and certain other products. It’s paralyzing the country; it’s affecting everyone.

“Mubarak has said that he wouldn’t run for a sixth term as president. The uprising has accomplished one of its main objectives,” Gamil added.”It’s time to go home.”

Amr Mohamed, a 31-year-old coffee shop employee who likewise participated in the first few days of protests, voiced similar concerns.

“I only found a job three months ago after being unemployed for almost one year,” he said. “Now I’m afraid that, if the demonstrations continue, I won’t find work again for a long, long time.”

Yet despite these fears of economic uncertainty, protesters at Tahrir remain steadfast, calling for million-strong protests every Sunday, Tuesday and Friday until their demands for the president’s ouster are met.

“We will remain in possession of Tahrir Square until Mubarak goes,” Maher asserted.

“For these people it’s do or die,” said the 26-year-old activist, preferring anonymity. “They believe that if they abandon Tahrir now, they’ll be arrested or tortured. The fear in the square is palpable – but their spirits are high.” (END)

The above article can be found here: Political Energy Powers Exhausted Protesters

EGYPTIAN INTIFADA: Israel puts assets at Suleiman’s disposal ‘to protect regime,’ approves deployment of Egypt troops in Sinai

Posted in RACHEL CORRIE BRIGADES on February 4, 2011 by The 800 Pound Gorilla

Middle East Monitor; February 1, 2011

Well-placed Israeli sources have disclosed that the Zionist state has offered to place “all its capabilities” at the disposal of General Omar Suleiman, the recently appointed Vice President of Egypt, for the “protection of the regime in Egypt”. This offer includes the implementation of “various operations to end the popular revolution”. Israel has also asked Suleiman to work on preventing arms being smuggled into the Gaza Strip.

An official in Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said that the Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu called Suleiman, who is also the director of Egypt’s General Intelligence Service, and expressed his concern about the situation in Egypt. Netanyahu apparently suggested the possibility of Israeli intelligence personnel undertaking various specialist operations to bring an end to the demonstrations. The source added that Netanyahu and Suleiman also discussed ways of securing the border between Israel and Egypt.

The Hebrew newspaper Ma’ariv revealed that in recent days highly placed individuals in Netanyahu’s office have conducted a series of telephone conversations with Suleiman to impress on the Vice President the necessity of coordinating on security with Israel. The telephone conversations were described as “urgent” and were designed to alert the Egyptians about the consequences of losing control of the tunnels described by many as Gaza’s “lifeline” during the Israeli blockade. Israel is, claims Ma’ariv, concerned about increased activity in the tunnels “given the developments in progress inside Egypt” which have seen the Egyptian army “softening its anti-smuggling activities”. In addition, it is claimed that there has been an increase in the number of illegal immigrants entering Israel from Egyptian territory.

Sources inside the Israeli Foreign Ministry said that Israel does not rule out General Suleiman “sacrificing his ties to Israel in order to satisfy the Egyptian street and bestow a measure of legitimacy on his appointment in the general opinion of the public”. Suleiman maintains strong ties with Israeli officials and was responsible for several files linked to the Zionist state, including those relating to the ceasefire and a possible prisoner exchange deal with Hamas.

The above article can be found here: http://www.middleeastmonitor.org.uk/news/middle-east/2009-israel-places-resources-at-suleimans-disposal-qto-protect-the-egyptian-regimeq

 


 

‘Israel consents to deployment of Egyptian troops in Sinai’ Middle East Monitor; February 1, 2011

Egypt has sent around 800 soldiers to the Sinai Peninsula in response to the popular demonstrations demanding the resignation of President Hosni Mubarak. Israel gave its consent for the deployment following an official request from the Egyptian government. The troops are concentrated around the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh in southern Sinai. The whole peninsula has been an almost totally demilitarized zone since the 1979 peace treaty was signed between Egypt and Israel.

The above article can be found here: http://www.middleeastmonitor.org.uk/news/middle-east/2008-israel-consents-to-deployment-of-egyptian-troops-in-sinai

EGYPTIAN INTIFADA: Israeli planes carrying crowd dispersal weapons arrive in Egypt, says rights group

Posted in RACHEL CORRIE BRIGADES on February 4, 2011 by The 800 Pound Gorilla

Middle East Monitor; January 31, 2011

The International Network for Rights and Development has claimed that Israeli logistical support has been sent to Egypt’s President Hosni Mubarak to help his regime confront demonstrations demanding that he steps down as head of state. According to reports by the non-governmental organization, three Israeli planes landed at Cairo’s Mina International Airport on Saturday carrying hazardous equipment for use in dispersing and suppressing large crowds.

In the statement circulated by the International Network, it was disclosed that Egyptian security forces received the complete cargoes on three Israeli planes which were, it is claimed, carrying an abundant supply of internationally proscribed gas to disperse unwanted crowds. If the reports are accurate, this suggests that the Egyptian regime is preparing for the worst in defense of its position, despite the country sinking into chaos.

On Sunday 30 January, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed Israeli government ministers in a public statement saying: “Our efforts aim at the continued maintenance of stability and security in the region… and I remind you that peace between the Israeli establishment and Egypt has endured for over three decades… we currently strive to guarantee the continuity of these relations.” Netanyahu added, “We are following the events unfolding in Egypt and the region with vigilance… and it is incumbent at this time that we show responsibility, self-restraint and maximum consideration for the situation… in the hope that the peaceful relations between the Israeli establishment and Egypt continue…”

The Israeli prime minister urged Israeli government ministers to refrain from making any additional statements to the media.

The above article can be found here: http://www.middleeastmonitor.org.uk/news/middle-east/2001-rights-ngo-claims-that-israeli-planes-carrying-crowd-dispersal-weapons-have-arrived-in-egypt

Egyptian Intifada reveals Washington’s true Zionist colors

Posted in RACHEL CORRIE BRIGADES on February 3, 2011 by The 800 Pound Gorilla

Veterans Today

February 3, 2011

Fed up with the political repression and economic malaise that have been central features of President Hosni Mubarak’s 30-year-rule, the Egyptian people have hit the streets in the hundreds of thousands for the last ten days to demand Mubarak’s removal from power.

After a week of hemming and hawing, the Obama administration on Wednesday declared that Egypt’s transition to a new government “must begin now.” But many of the Egyptians at the forefront of the ongoing protests reject Washington’s stated support for political change, saying that the US — despite its democratic pretensions — has no real desire to see an end of the Israel-friendly regime in Cairo.

“Washington’s stated support for ‘political reform’ in Egypt is intended for media consumption,” Abdelhalim Kandil, prominent Egyptian opposition figure and active demonstrator, told Veterans Today. “Regardless of what it says publicly, the US — along with its best friend in the region, Israel — is keen to see the Mubarak regime remain firmly in power.”

On January 25, popular demonstrations originally organized to protest police abuses and official corruption quickly snowballed beyond anyone’s expectations. Thousands of protesters — tens of thousands in some areas — turned out across the country to demand free elections and the termination of Egypt’s draconian Emergency Law. In addition to these political grievances, demonstrators also demanded relief from crushing inflation and rampant unemployment.

“The vast majority of those participating in the demonstrations are ordinary Egyptians fed up with the political and economic status quo,” Sarah Ramadan, 20-year-old political activist from Cairo, told Veterans Today.

For the next nine days, demonstrations staged countrywide grew in size and intensity, with the biggest being held in Cairo’s centrally-located Tahrir Square. As security forces used increasingly violent methods to quell the protests, offices of Mubarak’s ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) — along with many local police stations — were burnt to the ground in provinces across Egypt.

On Friday evening, the Egyptian army was deployed on the streets of Cairo, Alexandria and Suez. But despite the imposition of government curfews, demonstrators remained on the streets, vowing to step up their protests until their demands for Mubarak’s ouster were met. Hundreds of protesters have been killed so far and thousand injured in violent clashes with police. Exact casualty figures, however, remain unavailable.

On Saturday, Mubarak dismissed his government — which had been dominated by a clique of unpopular business tycoons — and appointed a new prime minister. In a first since becoming president in 1981, Mubarak also appointed a vice-president, fulfilling a longstanding demand of the Egyptian opposition. The new VP, General intelligence chief Omar Suleiman, would be tasked with “holding dialog” with various opposition forces, the president said.

In a televised address on Wednesday night, Mubarak stressed his commitment to the nation’s “security and independence” so as to “ensure a peaceful transfer of power in circumstances that protect Egypt and the Egyptians.” He went on to say he would not seek a sixth term as president in upcoming elections slated for later this year, and promised to amend articles of the constitution that regulate the electoral process.

“I will entrust the new government to perform in ways that will achieve the legitimate rights of the people and that its performance should express the people and their aspirations of political, social and economic reform and to allow job opportunities and combating poverty, realizing social justice,” Mubarak stated. “In this context, I charge the police apparatus to carry out its duty in serving the people, protecting the citizens with integrity and honor with complete respect for their rights, freedom and dignity.”

The promises, however, failed to satisfy demonstrators, leaders of whom say they want nothing less than the removal of Mubarak and anyone associated with his longstanding regime.

“We will not stop demonstrating until our demands are met,” Mahmoud Adel al-Heta, a 23-year-old political activist and protester, told Veterans Today. “These demands include the immediate departure of the Mubarak regime; the formation of a popular committee mandated with drawing up a new national constitution; the holding of free and fair presidential and parliamentary elections; and the immediate formation of a transitional government.”

Shortly after Mubarak’s address, US President Barack Obama — under intense pressure to make a show of support for Egyptian democratic aspirations — issued a statement in which he said that Mubarak “recognizes that the status quo is not sustainable and a change must take place.” He added that political transition “must be meaningful, it must be peaceful and it must begin now.”

“Furthermore, the process must include a broad spectrum of Egyptian voices and opposition parties,” Obama added. “It should lead to elections that are free and fair. And it should result in a government that’s not only grounded in democratic principles but is also responsive to the aspirations of the Egyptian people.”

But many of the Egyptian activists at the center of the storm showed contempt for Washington’s tepid show of support, saying that the US commitment to Egypt’s “stability” — and, by extension, Israeli security — far outweighs its commitment to Egyptian democracy.

“The Obama administration’s stated commitment to democracy pales in comparison to its commitment to Israel’s wellbeing,” said Kandil. “Washington has always pretended to support democratic reform in Egypt, but it will never bring serious pressure to bear on the ruling regime, which represents a vital aspect of Israeli security.”

“US administrations come and go, but US Middle East policy remains the same, and the chief aspect of that policy is ensuring Israel’s perpetual domination over the region — not fostering democracy in the Arab world,” he added. “The Zionist lobby’s extensive control over US policymaking, coupled with the Zionist ownership of most US media, has led to a situation in which successive US administrations end up putting Israel’s interests before those of the US itself.”

A number of other Egyptian demonstrators who spoke to Veterans Today echoed this view.

“Despite statements by the White House that appear to support our uprising, we’re fully aware that the US has an interest in keeping the Mubarak regime — or something else very much like it — in control of Egypt,” said Khaled al-Sayyed, a 22-year-old protester who has participated in the Tahrir Square demonstrations for the last ten days, told Veterans Today. “We are also aware that Washington’s primary concern is the security of Israel, which the Mubarak regime has faithfully served for the last 30 years. We therefore completely reject any US interference in Egypt’s domestic affairs.”

“At the end of the day, the US supports the Mubarak regime because the ‘stability’ of Egypt — the biggest country in the Arab world — is in Israel’s interest,” concurred Adel al-Heta. “Everyone knows that Washington’s declared support for democracy in the Middle East is only for show.”

Egypt has had diplomatic relations with the Zionist state since the signing of the Camp David peace accords in 1979. Since then, the US has provided Egypt with some $28 billion in development aid and a further $1.3 billion in annual military assistance, making Egypt the second largest recipient of US largesse after Israel. The only other Arab country to have official relations with the Zionist state is the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, which signed its own peace deal with Tel Aviv in 1994.

In return for the kindness, the Mubarak regime has continued to implement a number of policies advantageous to Israel, despite widespread public opposition. These include assisting Israel in its four-year-old siege of the Gaza Strip — which has subjected the strip’s 1.5 million people to humanitarian catastrophe — and selling Egyptian natural gas to Tel Aviv at prices lower than those at which it is sold to the poverty-stricken Egyptian public.

Many observers believe that free elections in Egypt would likely yield a dramatic reorientation of Egyptian policy vis-à-vis the self-proclaimed Jewish state — one much more in line with public opinion.

“Despite the peace treaty, most Egyptians continue to see Israel as an enemy due to its continued occupation and theft of Palestinian land and its homicidal policies against the Palestinians,” said Kandil. “A democratically-elected Egyptian government would, in accordance with the will of the Egyptian people, oppose Israel and support the Palestinian resistance — and Washington knows that.”

Even before the uprising in Egypt, public statements emanating from Israeli officialdom indicated Tel Aviv’s approval of — and support for — the Mubarak regime.

To cite one recent example, certain Israeli officials expressed satisfaction with the results of Egypt’s parliamentary polls late last year, in which Mubarak’s ruling NDP won 97 percent of the national assembly in elections widely recognized as having been rigged. At the time, former Israeli ambassador to Egypt Eli Shaked described the NDP’s electoral victories as “positive from an Israeli point of view.”

Shaked explained: “I prefer this kind of non-democratic Egypt ruled by moderate, sensible people rather than an Egypt ruled by radical fundamentalists like the Muslim Brotherhood. It is not to the benefit of Israel to have this kind of regime in Egypt. We should pray for Mubarak to live until he is 120 years old.”

http://www.almasryalyoum.com/en/news/ex-israeli-envoy-hails-ndp-suppression-islamists-analysts-fear-popular-backlash

Notably, on January 28 — as demonstrations in Egypt entered their fourth day — Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, a member of Israel’s Knesset and former defense minister, likewise expressed support for the beleaguered Egyptian president, playing down the threat posed to the Mubarak regime by the rapidly burgeoning uprising.

“I have no doubt that the situation in Egypt is under control. The [Egyptian] intelligence services, which are sophisticated, expected this after what happened in a different situation in Tunisia,” he was quoted as saying by Israeli daily The Jerusalem Post. “[Mubarak] is allowing people to let off steam. He hasn’t used police. It’s all under control. I believe in complete faith that it won’t be a problem.”

“Our relations with Egypt are strategic and intimate. Both of our leaderships have an interest in quiet and peace even if it is a quiet peace,” Ben-Eliezer, considered the Israeli politician closest to Mubarak, added. “The peace of Egypt has passed many tests of survival and many crises, and today it is just as much an Egyptian interest as it is ours.”

http://www.jpost.com/DiplomacyAndPolitics/Article.aspx?id=205576

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, meanwhile, has instructed his ministers to refrain from commenting publicly on events in Egypt. But on Monday, reports emerged that the Israeli Foreign Ministry had directed its diplomats in the US, Canada, China, Russia and Europe to impress upon their host nations the importance of Egypt’s stability.

“We are closely monitoring events in Egypt and the region and are making efforts to preserve its security and stability,” Netanyahu had been quoted as saying one day earlier.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/africaandindianocean/egypt/8293536/Egypt-crisis-Israel-rallies-to-support-of-Egyptian-regime.html

According to Kandil, such gestures of support for Mubarak on the part of Israeli officialdom “reveal the Mubarak regime’s extreme importance to Israeli strategic interests.” He went on to recall statements by Ben-Eliezer last year in which the latter referred to the Egyptian president as “a strategic treasure” for Israel.

The regime’s apparent intimacy with Israel, meanwhile, has not been lost on protesters. “Oh Mubrak, Oh Mubarak, they’re waiting for you in Tel Aviv,” they could be heard chanting in Cairo’s Tahrir Square. “I had to speak to him in Hebrew because he didn’t understand Arabic.”

Most recently, on Thursday afternoon, Iranian satellite news network Press TV reported that a group of demonstrators in Cairo had “captured a member of the Israeli General Staff Reconnaissance Unit” who was attempting to infiltrate the demonstrations. While the network showed amateur video purportedly taken of the event, this remains unconfirmed.

As of press time on Thursday evening local time, the anti-Mubarak demonstrations were still going strong, despite fresh violence that saw at least five protesters killed in Tahrir Square — and thousands injured — within the last two days. Nevertheless, demonstrators plan to redouble their efforts, and even larger protests are expected after Friday prayers tomorrow at noon.

“Egypt’s Intifada we will continue until our demands are met,” said al-Sayyed, “first and foremost of which is the removal of Mubarak and virtually everyone close to his dictatorial regime.”

ENDS

The above article can be found here: Egyptian Intifada reveals Washington’s true Zionist colors

Rachel Corrie case: Israeli soldier to testify anonymously

Posted in RACHEL CORRIE BRIGADES on October 21, 2010 by The 800 Pound Gorilla

 

American Peace Activist Killed By Israeli Bulldozer
Guardian.co.uk,
October 20, 2010

Family criticises decision to allow soldier who drove bulldozer that killed daughter to give evidence from behind screen

<–American peace activist Rachel Corrie being interviewed in the Rafah refugee camp in Gaza Strip a few days before she was killed by a bulldozer. The Israeli soldier at the controls of a bulldozer that crushed to death 23-year-old Rachel Corrie in Gaza in March 2003 is due to give evidence tomorrow in the civil lawsuit brought by the American activist’s family.

However the judge hearing the case in Haifa has ruled that, for security reasons, the soldier can testify anonymously from behind a screen, denying Cindy and Craig Corrie the opportunity to face the man who directly caused their daughter’s death.

Israel‘s supreme court refused to hear an appeal by the family challenging the judge’s ruling. However, the unit commander in charge that day will testify in full view of the court as his identity is already known.

“I’ll be grateful at least to be able to hear [the bulldozer driver’s] words but I won’t get the complete picture and I’ll be disappointed by that,” Cindy Corrie said in an interview in Jerusalem last week.

“They’ve said it’s the security of the witnesses they are trying to protect. I can understand it would be uncomfortable for the soldiers to have to see us, but I can’t understand how our family is a threat to their security.”

Corrie, from Olympia, Washington state, was killed while attempting to protect the home of a Palestinian family in the Rafah area of Gaza from being demolished by Israeli troops seven and a half years ago. A posthumous book and play based on the graphic and moving emails she wrote to friends and family made her an iconic figure.

An internal Israeli military investigation, which was never published nor released to the US government or the Corries, concluded that the bulldozer driver had not seen Rachel and that no charges would be brought. The case was closed.

The family brought a civil case – “absolutely our last resort” – against the state of Israel, which opened in March this year and is expected to conclude early next year. Among the early witnesses was a fellow activist, Briton Richard Purssell, who described how Corrie disappeared from view under the advancing bulldozer.

The driver’s evidence will be a key moment in the case but the Corrie family has been careful not to invest too much in his evidence. “While the driver is very important, to me he is not the only person who has responsibility,” said Cindy Corrie. “Responsibility is shared with a lot of people. My focus isn’t entirely on the driver.”

Sarah Corrie Simpson, Rachel’s older sister, said: “Ultimately the individual had the ability to stop that act. However if you only hold responsible the individual, you’re losing the broader context of what’s going on. You have to look at the chain of command and what sort of orders were being given at that time.”

The family, while wanting an acceptable end to their battle for justice, was wary of the concept of closure. “It’s hard to conceive of that,” said Craig Corrie. “People talk about it, but it’s real hard to define what closure would be when you’ve lost a child, lost a little sister.”

Corrie Simpson said closure was difficult to define: “I’m not sure how you ever get to a place where you even feel close to that when you know there are people out there on the other end of what happened to Rachel, and you’ve never even been able to see their faces. Mum talks about being able to see the humanity of the person that was on the other end – and now the majority of soldiers will get to testify behind a screen, and that takes that away from us.”

At the very least, the family hoped their legal battle would shine a light on the Israeli Defence Force’s (IDF) investigative process.

Cindy Corrie said if the IDF were, as it claimed, the most moral army in the world, “they should be willing to look at a system that is much more transparent than what exists right now”.

Last month, a colonel responsible for writing operating manuals for military bulldozers, testified that there were no civilians in a war zone.

Cindy Corrie said: “It’s a window, hearing that coming from these people, a real window into the mindset – and it’s very, very concerning. And I think every Israeli should be really concerned.”

 

The above article can be found here: Rachel Corrie case: Israeli soldier to testify anonymously

Unholy Alliances – part1 Israel did 911

Posted in Essential Reading, Mossad's 9/11, RACHEL CORRIE BRIGADES on March 21, 2010 by The 800 Pound Gorilla

This video represents the first of a series on the Unholy Alliances that are now — and long have been — shaping our world for the worse, with an emphasis on Zionism and Israel’s leading role on 9/11, which has been thoroughly documented.

ISRAEL DID 9/11: ALL THE PROOF YOU NEED

Download it HERE, read it — translate it into another language if you can — and email it to every thinking person you know.