• All governments lie, but disaster lies in wait for countries whose officials smoke the same hashish they give out.

  • I.F. Stone

zaterdag 5 februari 2011

The Empire 754

The USA will do anything to suppress the pro-democracy forces in the Arab world. As long as the mercenary state Israel is safe and our oil.


State Department Approved Export of US-Made Tear Gas to Egyptian Government

The American-made tear gas used to disperse pro-democracy protestors in Egypt earlier this week was sold to the country after government review, a State Department spokeswoman told us.
The tear gas canisters used by Egyptian police against the protesters bore the label “Made in U.S.A.,” stirring controversy and bolstering the impression among Egyptians that the U.S. has propped up a dictatorshipat the expense of its citizens.
Two government agencies, the Department of State and Department of Commerce, regulate the export of tear gas by granting export licenses allowing U.S. manufacturers to sell tear gas to foreign buyers. The State spokeswoman, Nicole Thompson, said she didn’t immediately know when the approval was given for Egypt.
The chemical compounds in the tear gas determine whether it’s State or Commerce that’s responsible for licensing the product. In general, the State Department licenses the export of defense items—including military-grade tear gas—as spelled out on its Munitions List. The Commerce Department licenses the export of tear gas formulations that are considered “dual use”—that is, for either military or civilian purposes—as well as products considered strictly civilian.
The tear gas canisters photographed in Egypt and Tunisia appear to have been manufactured by Combined Systems Inc. The company did not respond to our requests for comment. A spokesman for the company had previously told CNN that it operates well within the law by selling tear gas to countries like Tunisia and Egypt.
CNN also reported that labels on the tear gas canisters found in both countries read, “Danger: Do not fire directly at person(s). Severe injury or death may result.” According to CNN, a 32-year-old photographer in Egypt died recently after he was hit by a tear gas grenade at close range.
In the case of the tear gas used in Egypt, the State Department confirmed to me that it approved the sale of tear gas as a direct commercial sale between the manufacturer and the government of Egypt, as opposed to a government-to-government sale.
As part of a multi-agency approval process, the State Department said it takes a number of issues into consideration, including whether the purchaser could use it in a way that violates human rights.
“We want to ensure that when a defense article is being sold to a government, say the government of Egypt, we want to make sure it’s not going to fall in hands of another government … or any individual or organization who wants to do harm,” explained Thompson.
So why did the State Department license the sale of American-made tear gas to be used by the Egyptian police, when the State Department itself has documented the police’s history of brutality? When I asked this question, I received the following response, in full:
The US government licensed the sale of certain crowd dispersal articles to the government of Egypt. That license was granted after a thorough vetting process and after a multi-agency review of the articles that were requested.
Noticeably absent in that answer was anything about the Egyptian police. When I pressed further and mentioned this WikiLeaks cable — written by U.S. Ambassador Margaret Scobey describing “routine and pervasive” police brutality and torture in Egypt—the response was immediate.
“I cannot provide any authentication of anything that has been published by the website WikiLeaks,” Thompson said.

Robert Fisk 66

De informatie die u niet van het NOS-Journaal krijgt:

Robert Fisk: Exhausted, scared and trapped, protesters put forward plan for future

On a day of drama and confusion in Cairo, opponents of the Mubarak regime propose a new kind of politics.
Saturday, 5 February 2011

Anti-government protesters pray in Tahrir Square yesterday
AP
Anti-government protesters pray in Tahrir Square yesterday

    Arab Regimes 129


    PERFECT STORM: MIDEAST TURMOIL, PEAK OIL, CLIMATE, ECONOMY, FOOD

    Uprising in Egypt: Al-Jazeera,Twitter, & Democracy Now! Live Coverage
    Saturday, February 5, 2011
    http://www.commondreams.org/uprising

    Robert Fisk: Exhausted, scared and trapped, protesters put forward plan for future
    On a day of drama and confusion in Cairo, opponents of the Mubarak regime propose a new kind of politics.
    Saturday, 5 February 2011
    http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/fisk/robert-fisk-exhausted-scared-and-trapped-protesters-put-forward-plan-for-future-2205079.html
      Caged yesterday inside a new army cordon of riot-visored troops and coils of barbed wire – the very protection which Washington had demanded for the protesters of Tahrir Square – the tens of thousands of young Egyptians demanding Hosni Mubarak's overthrow have taken the first concrete political steps to create a new nation to replace the corrupt government which has ruled them for 30 years. Sitting on filthy pavements, amid the garbage and broken stones of a week of street fighting, they have drawn up a list of 25 political personalities to negotiate for a new political leadership and a new constitution to replace Mubarak's crumbling regime. They include Amr Moussa, the secretary general of the Arab League – himself a trusted Egyptian; the Nobel prize-winner Ahmed Zuwail, an Egyptian-American who has advised President Barack Obama; Mohamed Selim Al-Awa, a professor and author of Islamic studies who is close to the Muslim Brotherhood; and the president of the Wafd party, Said al-Badawi.

    Chomsky: Why the Mideast Turmoil Is a Direct Threat to the American Empire
    An interview with Noam Chomsky about what this means for the future of the Middle East and U.S. foreign policy in the region.
    February 3, 2011  By Amy Goodman and Noam Chomsky
    http://www.alternet.org/story/149786/chomsky%3A_why_the_mideast_turmoil_is_a_direct_threat_to_the_american_empire/
      AMY GOODMAN: For analysis of the Egyptian uprising and its implications for the Middle East and beyond, we’re joined now by the world-renowned political dissident and linguist Noam Chomsky, Professor Emeritus at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, author of over a hundred books, including his latest, Hopes and Prospects. Noam, welcome to Democracy Now! Your analysis of what’s happening now in Egypt and what it means for the Middle East?

    Right Wing Mocks Reporters In Egypt: Not ‘A Great Deal Of Sympathy For Those Who’ve Been Attacked’
    http://thinkprogress.org/2011/02/04/reporters-egypt-sympathy/
      Foreign journalists reporting on the anti-government protests have increasingly been under attack by supporters of President Hosni Mubarak’s government. Pro-government forces have detained, beaten or arrested dozens, if not hundreds, of reporters in the past few days as they were trying to get the story out to the world. CNN’s Anderson Cooper reported that he and his crew were repeatedly beaten. An ABC News correspondent and his crew were carjacked and threatened with beheading.
      Watch the compilation: VIDEO

    The Egyptian Uprising Is a Direct Response to Ruthless Global Capitalism
    Economic decline at the hands of 'hot' money has driven Egyptians' discontent.
    February 4, 2011
    http://www.alternet.org/world/149793/the_egyptian_uprising_is_a_direct_response_to_ruthless_global_capitalism/
      The revolution in Egypt is as much a rebellion against the painful deterioration of economic conditions as it is about opposing a dictator, though they are linked. That's why President Hosni Mubarak's announcement that he intends to stick around until September was met with an outpouring of rage. When people are facing a dim future, in a country hijacked by a corrupt regime that destabilized its economy through what the CIA termed, "aggressively pursuing economic reforms to attract foreign investment” (in other words, the privatization and sale of its country’s financial system to international sharks), waiting doesn’t cut it.

    Expert consensus grows on contribution of record high food prices to Middle East unrest
    February 4, 2011
    http://climateprogress.org/2011/02/04/contribution-of-high-food-prices-to-mideast-unrest/
      Scientific American on Egypt: "... there is no doubt that rising food prices added fuel to an already combustible mix," other MidEast countries "have been snapping up supplies of wheat in the world market to forestall any hint of food price spikes—or regime change"

    Mubarak family fortune could reach $70bn, say experts
    Egyptian president has cash in British and Swiss banks plus UK and US property
    Friday 4 February 2011 17.58 GMT
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/feb/04/hosni-mubarak-family-fortune
      President Hosni Mubarak's family fortune could be as much as $70bn (£43.5bn) according to analysis by Middle East experts, with much of his wealth in British and Swiss banks or tied up in real estate in London, New York, Los Angeles and along expensive tracts of the Red Sea coast. After 30 years as president and many more as a senior military official, Mubarak has had access to investment deals that have generated hundreds of millions of pounds in profits. Most of those gains have been taken offshore and deposited in secret bank accounts or invested in upmarket homes and hotels. According to a report last year in the Arabic newspaper Al Khabar, Mubarak has properties in Manhattan and exclusive Beverly Hills addresses on Rodeo Drive. His sons, Gamal and Alaa, are also billionaires. A protest outside Gamal's ostentatious home at 28 Wilton Place in Belgravia, central London, highlighted the family's appetite for western trophy assets.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    A Time of More Complex Global Crises
    By Mario Osava
    http://ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=54363
      RIO DE JANEIRO, Feb 4, 2011 (IPS) - Neoliberalism and the attendant financial globalisation were a common enemy that unified and mobilised activists of the most diverse tendencies who founded, ten years ago in Porto Alegre in southern Brazil, the World Social Forum (WSF) as a space to meet, reflect and debate, under the slogan "Another World Is Possible". But in its 11th year, the WSF is meeting Feb. 6-11 in Dakar, Senegal, at a time when neoliberal, free-market policies stand out less in a world threatened by collapse from a combination of crises: financial, climate change, food and water.

    The Globe's Limitations: How Peak Oil Threatens Economic Growth
    The Nation and On The Earth Productions
    January 11, 2011
    http://www.thenation.com/video/157635/globes-limitations-how-peak-oil-threatens-economic-growth
      In the second video in the series “Peak Oil and a Changing Climate” from The Nation and On The Earth productions, Richard Heinberg, senior fellow with the Post Carbon Institute, discusses how depleting oil supplies threaten the future of global economic growth. According to Heinberg, historically there has been a close correlation between increased energy consumption and economic growth. If the economy starts to recover after the financial crisis and there is an increased demand for oil but not enough supply to keep up with that demand, we may hit a ceiling on what the economy can do.
      “What politician is going to be able to standup in front of the American people and tell them the truth?”  Heinberg asks. “Every politician is going to want to promise more economic growth and blame the lack of growth on the other political party…. The whole political system starts to get more and more polarized and more and more radical until it just comes apart at the seams.” For Heinberg, however, there is still hope: alternative energy sources, though difficult to implement on a large scale, do exist, and a grassroots movement is strongly advocating for new thinking about our energy consumption. Go here to learn more about "Peak Oil and a Changing Climate," and to see the other videos in the series.
    http://www.thenation.com/article/157434/peak-oil-and-changing-climate

    A stunning year in climate science reveals that human civilization is on the precipice
    The first anniversary of 'Climategate', Part 1: The media blows the story of the century
    November 15, 2010
    http://climateprogress.org/2010/11/15/year-in-climate-science-climategate/
      This week marks the one-year anniversary of what the anti-science crowd successfully labeled ‘Climategate’.  The media will be doing countless retrospectives, most of which will be wasted ink, like the Guardian’s piece — focusing on climate scientists at the expense of climate science, which is precisely the kind of miscoverage that has been going on for the whole year! I’ll save that my media critiques for Part 2, since I think that Climategate’s biggest impact was probably on the media, continuing their downward trend of focusing on style over substance, of missing the story of the century, if not the millennia.

    Simple rebuttals to denier talking points — with links to the full climate science
    December 28, 2010
    http://climateprogress.org/2010/12/28/simple-rebuttals-to-denier-talking-points-with-links-to-the-full-climate-science/
      Progressives should know the most commonly used arguments by the disinformers and doubters — and how to answer them. You should know as much of the science behind those rebuttals as possible, and a great place to start is SkepticalScience.com. BUT most of the time your best response is to give the pithiest response possible, and then refer people to a  specific website  that has a more detailed scientific explanation with links to the original science.   That’s because usually those you are talking to are rarely in a position to adjudicate scientific arguments.  Indeed, they would probably tune out.  Also, unless you know the science cold, you are as likely as not to make a  misstatement.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    10 Things Conservatives Don’t Want You To Know About Ronald Reagan
    http://thinkprogress.org/2011/02/05/reagan-centennial/
      Tomorrow will mark the 100th anniversary of President Reagan’s birth, and all week, conservatives have been trying to outdo each others’ remembrances of the great conservative icon. Senate Republicans spent much of Thursday singing Reagan’s praise from the Senate floor, while conservative publications have been running non-stop commemorations. Meanwhile the Republican National Committee and former GOP House Speaker Newt Gingrich are hoping to make few bucks off the Gipper’s centennial. But Reagan was not the man conservatives claim he was. This image of Reagan as a conservative superhero is myth, created to untie the various factions of the right behind a common leader. In reality, Reagan was no conservative ideologue or flawless commander-in-chief. Reagan regularly strayed from conservative dogma — he raised taxes eleven times as president while tripling the deficit — and he often ended up on the wrong side of history, like when he vetoed an Anti-Apartheid bill.

    The Right-Wing Dough Supporting the 'Stings' at Planned Parenthood
    http://www.alternet.org/newsandviews/article/461558/the_right-wing_dough_supporting_the_%27stings%27_at_planned_parenthood/
      On a conference call with bloggers convened by Media Matters for America with Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards and Vice President Stewart Schear, I got a little tip into where Lila Rose, who leads the right-wing sting group Live Action, gets some of her funding. Quite a rogue's gallery, it would seem. Rose, you'll recall, has been going "undercover" to Planned Parenthood clinics for years, often posing as an underage client, and taking video with a concealed camera. Her avowed purpose is to put Planned Parenthood out of business.

    Het NOS-Journaal 11

    Het NOS-Journaal liet net in de acht uur uitzending weer een onvervalst staaltje propaganda zien, zoals die gebruikelijk was in Oost Duitsland onder partijleider Walter Ulbricht. Nadat eerst nieuwslezers De Boer had laten weten dat Mubarak van de Amerikaanse regering mag blijven zitten, met andere woorden dat de Amerikanen geen onmiddellijke democratie willen zoals de meerderheid van de Egyptenaren eist, liet men mevrouw Clinton aan het woord die de regimes in de Arabische wereld -- die voor het merendeel door de VS financieel, politiek en militair worden gesteund -- bekritiseerde. Theater, propaganda, NOS-Journaal en zodra men kritiek heeft daarop dan wordt de redactie razend van woede zoals ik de afgelopen dagen uit eigen ervaring heb mogen merken. Kritiek wordt in Hilversum niet geduld en ondertussen wordt de journalistiek daar een steeds groter aanfluiting.

    Arab Regimes 128

    The spirit of Egypt’s Tahrir Square

    Mubarak’s day of departure is his day of delay

    By Christopher King

    4 February 2011

    Christopher King views the United States’ and Europe’s equivocal attitudes towards the people’s uprising in Egypt and considers what the impacts on Europe and the US might be if the uprising succeeds.

    The people of Egypt restore one’s faith in humanity’s spirit and its aspirations. Despite vicious attacks by government thugs the demonstrators have remained peaceful while defending themselves. They long for democracy; so they should and their high spirits on the prospect of achieving it are justified. We see in Tahrir Square an inspirational spirit of cooperation in a people’s desire for freedom. One is shamed to reflect that Britain is a primary colluder with the dictator who had kept them poor and repressed and is still attempting to maintain his grip.

    Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and his government clearly do not want to resign. Despite unprecedented demonstrations across Egypt, well televised from Cairo and Alexandria, Mubarak and his government offer token concession but not Mubarak’s immediate resignation and no promise of immediate elections. These are what the demonstrators want; they have made that clear.

    Mubarak is attempting to disperse the demonstrators with verbal concessions that have no guarantees of being kept even if they were to be acceptable. The people do not trust him. They know him best and do not accept his proposals for transitions arrangements. They know that his objective is to stay in power and do what he does best: arrest opponents, disappear activists, intimidate and tighten the grip of the security forces and secret police.


    Do America and Europe want democracy in Egypt?

    “President Obama and White House spokesmen have been finding it difficult to speak of Egypt. They speak hesitantly, evasively in vague, rambling, impenetrable language.”
    The roles of the United States and the European Union are highly suspect. President Obama and White House spokesmen have been finding it difficult to speak of Egypt. They speak hesitantly, evasively in vague, rambling, impenetrable language. Obama vaguely “prays that the rights and aspirations of the people of Egypt will be realized.” Hillary Clinton and Obama speak about peaceful “transition”. It has been commented that “transition is one of the most abused words in recent memory.”

    Catherine Ashton, the European Union’s High Representative for External Affairs, also uses vague language about transition, peaceful and calm streets, freedom, moving forward, building democracy, how democracy was valued etc, etc. At least she used the word democracy but took care to say that democracy was not achieved in a day or a year. It is true that other countries should not tell the Egyptians how they should run their country, nor that their president should leave. That is between Mubarak and his people.

    What is noticeable is that neither the Americans nor the EU want to simply say that immediate free and fair democratic elections should be held. There is nothing in that to tell the Egyptians how they should be running their country. That is the well known American narrative of its world mission – to spread democracy to the oppressed and downtrodden. It has no hesitation in pressing this message elsewhere even if it has to bomb and invade countries such as Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan to bring democracy to them. One would imagine that it would leap to support the longing for democracy by the people of Egypt.

    The fact is that neither the United States nor European Union want Egypt to become a true democracy. Dictators are much easier to deal with. It is merely a matter of bribery with taxpayer money and supply of weapons. Greed and self-interest are reliable; democratic ideals and patriotism are much less susceptible to manipulation.

    We know that the White House is in contact with Mubarak through its envoy, Frank Wisner. Significantly, it was immediately after Wisner arrived in Egypt that the violent attacks, organized by the security services and police against the demonstrators, commenced.

    United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon has called for early elections. He deplored the government’s restrictions on the media and television.

    The Egyptian revolution’s effects on Europe

    “The success of the Egyptian revolution and its effects throughout the Muslim world will undermine the militaristic camp [in Europe].”
    I will not rehearse the disgraceful behaviour of America and the European Union through NATO’s activities, nor their propaganda against Iran and denial of democracy to the Palestinians when it did not suit them. The establishment of democracy in Egypt will undermine all the American policies that Europe follows. To be more analytical, European politics has two camps: the humanitarian which favours peace, trade and democracy; the militaristic that promotes NATO and the US policies of armed invasions. The success of the Egyptian revolution and its effects throughout the Muslim world will undermine the militaristic camp. That would be an extremely positive outcome. Europe would be forced to re-examine both its Middle Eastern policies and the failure of ethics and humanitarianism on which they are based. It will be forced to examine the role of NATO and America’s role in Europe. The spirit of Tahrir Square will resonate in Europe.

    The Egyptian revolution in America

    The world is watching Egypt and America with fascination. Everyone knows that Mubarak is an American puppet. It might be that the White House will decide to embrace the democratic aspirations of the Egyptians and support Mubarak personally in exile. That would be a very satisfactory outcome. Mubarak must go now or soon in any case. The White House will be concentrating, therefore, on having someone who will be sympathetic to their policies replace him. One should not imagine that President Obama will leave the Egyptian people to select their leader without interference no matter what he says.
    “It is possible that a democratic outcome in Egypt will cause some reappraisal of Islam and the US role in the Middle East but I am not hopeful.”
    American political and public opinion is very different from that of Europe. Americans are generally Islamophobic and see the alternatives in Egypt as either a radical Islamic state that they fear or a dictatorship that they control and can live with. It is possible that a democratic outcome in Egypt will cause some reappraisal of Islam and the US role in the Middle East but I am not hopeful.
    The American public is accustomed and receptive to propaganda by its elites that demonizes other countries. Americans are not given to questioning their government’s foreign policy nor granting to foreigners the same rights that they enjoy themselves. It is unlikely that fundamental change will occur within America. If America must change its Middle Eastern policies or even withdraw from the Middle East, it will refocus on closer countries, in particular Canada for energy and minerals and South America.

    What happens next?

    The great question is what will happen if Mubarak does not step down. The demonstrators have been peaceful until now but there are financial pressures on individuals and economic pressures on the country. Will it be necessary for Mubarak to be forcefully deposed?

    The people have already voted by their numbers and their presence on the streets. At a certain point, before the revolution becomes violent it would be preferable for the army, that is behaving well, to escort Mubarak to the airport and fly him to a destination of his choice. The army should note the vote of the people, which is absolutely clear. In maintaining the peace it might have to choose between the people and a dictator.

    Catherine Ashton has spoken of the formation of new committees that are presumably multiparty groups. If Mr Mubarak can be removed speedily there is no reason why elections cannot be quickly organized.

    Mubarak and his sympathizers are delaying, attempting to out-wait the demonstrators and biding their time before attempting to re-take control. If that should occur, Obama will say that it is nothing to do with him. Some estimates are that about 300 persons have been killed and many more wounded. Too much blood has been spilled already. If there is more bloodshed, Mubarak’s trial will be demanded no matter where he might go.

    I welcome the Egyptian revolution and the prospect of real democracy not only for the people of Egypt, but also for its effects on Europe.

    Arab Regimes 127


    Western powers are trying to obstruct a real democracy in Egypt, because obviously the pro-Israel lobby doesnot want a democracy in Arab countries. Let's hope the pro-democracy forces in Egypt will go on.


    West Backs Gradual Egyptian Transition


    Hannibal Hanschke/European Pressphoto Agency
    Protesters gather behind a barbed wire barricade in a street as Egyptian soldiers check them before they enter Tahrir Square in Cairo. More Photos »



    MUNICH — The United States and leading European nations on Saturday threw their weight behind a gradual transition in Egypt, backing attempts by the country’s vice president, Gen. Omar Suleiman, to broker a compromise with opposition groups without immediately removing President Hosni Mubarak from power.
    Multimedia
    The strong endorsement of a step-by-step transition in Egypt got a cool response from protesters who filled Tahrir Square for a 12th straight day, and leaders of opposition groups insisted that the genuine change in Egypt required Mr. Mubarak’s departure as a first step.
    Egyptian officials continued to put pressure on demonstrators, raising alarm about the economic toll the country had suffered as a result of the standoff, and offering further concessions by removing Mr. Mubarak’s son Gamal and other officials from their posts in the ruling party.
    Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, speaking to a security conference in Munich, said it was important to support Mr. Suleiman, a pillar of the Egyptian establishment and Mr. Mubarak’s longtime confidante, as he seeks to defuse street protests. Mr. Suleiman has promised repeatedly to reach out to opposition groups, including the Muslim Brotherhood, but there were few indications that any genuine dialogue with opposition leaders had begun.
    Ms. Clinton’s message, echoed by Chancellor Angela Merkelof Germany and Prime Minister David Cameron of Britain, was a notable shift in tone from the past week, whenPresident Obama, faced with violent clashes in Cairo, demanded that Mr. Mubarak make swift, bold changes. The change appears to reflect worries that rapid change in Egypt could destabilize the country and the region.
    “That takes some time,” Mrs. Clinton said. “There are certain things that have to be done in order to prepare.”
    But Mohamed ElBaradei, the Nobel laureate who has been chosen to negotiate on behalf of the protesters and other opposition groups, said the American-backed transition plan was a nonstarter. “I do not think it’s adequate,” he said in an interview. “I’m not talking about myself. It’s not adequate for the people.
    “Mubarak needs to go,” he said. “It has become an emotional issue. They need to see his back, there’s no question about it.”
    There were tens of thousands of protesters in Tahrir Square on Saturday as a light rain fell, and in interviews, some said they would not be dislodged until their demands were met.
    Ibrahim Mustafa, 42, waiting to enter Tahrir Square in the morning, as the military tightened restrictions said: “President Obama better put pressure on Mubarak to leave or things are going to get a lot worse here. He needs to get the army to force him out of here. America is going to create another Iran here. America doesn’t understand. The people know its supporting an illegitimate regime.”
    Human rights groups said that security officials under Mr. Suleiman, even as he talks about leading a transition, are continuing to abduct and detain without charges people it considers a political threat.
    The most notable example is the disappearance of Wael Ghonim, a Google executive and leader of the young Internet activists who started the revolt. Believed by many to be the anonymous host of the Facebook page that first called for the Jan. 25 protest and this kicked off the Egyptian uprising, he wrote that day on his Twitter account: “We got brutally beaten up by police people,” and later, “Sleeping on the streets of Cairo, trying to feel the pain of millions of my fellow Egyptians.”
    “Very worried as it seems that government is planning a war crime tomorrow against people,” he wrote two days later. “We are all ready to die.” He disappeared soon after.
    At least seven other online activists associated with the April 6th movement remain missing after being abducted a few days ago at a cafe after leaving a meeting at the home of Mr. ElBaradei.
    Even so, the United States appears to be easing its pressure for rapid change. Mrs. Clinton suggested that the United States was not insisting on the immediate departure of Mr. Mubarak, and that such an abrupt shift of power may not be necessary or prudent. She said Mr. Mubarak, having taken himself and Gamal out of the September elections, was already effectively sidelined. She emphasized the need for Egypt to reform its constitution to make a vote credible.
    “That is what the government has said it is trying to do,” she said. “That is what we are supporting, and hope to see it move as orderly but as expeditiously, as possible, under the circumstances.”
    Mrs. Clinton expressed fears about deteriorating security inside Egypt, noting the explosion at a gas pipeline in the Sinai Peninsula, and uncorroborated media reports of an earlier assassination attempt on Mr. Suleiman.
    The report was mentioned at the conference by Wolfgang Ischinger, a retired German diplomat who is the conference chairman, just as Mrs. Clinton began taking questions at the gathering of heads of state, foreign ministers, and legislators from the United States, Europe, and other countries.
    American officials said they had no evidence that the report was accurate. But Mrs. Clinton picked up on it and said it “certainly brings into sharp relief the challenges we are facing as we navigate through this period.”
    A senior Republican senator at the meeting, Lindsay Graham of South Carolina, voiced support for the administration’s call for a gradual transition in Egypt, saying that a Suleiman-led transitional government, backed by the military, was probably the only way for Egypt to negotiate its way to elections in the fall.
    “What would be the alternative?” he asked.
    Mrs. Clinton emphasized that American support for Mr. Suleiman’s plan should not be construed as an effort to dictate events. “Those of us who are trying to make helpful offers of assistance and suggestions for how to proceed are still at the end on the outside looking in,” she said.
    But in a hectic morning of diplomacy, Mrs. Clinton was clearly eager to build support for this position. She met with Mr. Cameron, Mrs. Merkel, and Turkey’s foreign minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, who said the views of Turkey and the United States were “100 percent identical.” Mr. Obama spoke by phone on Friday with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
    Mrs. Clinton’s emphasis on a deliberate process was repeated by Mrs. Merkel and Mr. Cameron. Mrs. Merkel harkened to her past as a democracy activist in East Germany, recalling the impatience of protesters, after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, to immediately join democratic West Germany. But the process took a year, and it was time well spent, she said.
    “There will be a change in Egypt,” she said, “but clearly, the change has to shaped in a way that it is a peaceful, a sensible way forward.”
    Mr. Cameron said introducing democracy in Egypt “overnight” would fuel further instability, saying the West needed to encourage the development of civil society and political parties before holding a vote.
    “Yes, the transition absolutely has to start now,” Mr. Cameron said. “But if we think it is all about the act of holding an election, we are wrong. It is about a set of actions.”
    Mrs. Clinton highlighted the dangers of holding elections without adequate preparation. To take part in Egypt’s new order, she said, political parties should renounce violence as a tool of coercion, pledge to respect the rights of minorities, and show tolerance. The White House has signaled that it is open to a dialogue with the Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist group that others warn could put Egypt on a path to extremism.
    “The transition to democracy will only happen if it is deliberate, inclusive, and transparent,” she said. “The challenge is to help our partners take systematic steps to usher in a better future, where people’s voices are heard, their rights respected, and their aspirations met.”
    “Revolutions have overthrown dictators in the name of democracy, only to see the process hijacked by new autocrats who use violence, deception, and rigged elections to stay in power,” Mrs. Clinton said.
    In Cairo, however, there were few indications that Mr. Suleiman and other officials were making much progress in addressing concerns of opposition groups. Negotiations between Mr. Suleiman and a group of self-appointed “wise men” who are acting as intermediaries between the vice president and the protesters and trying to find away around limits on succession in the Constitution did not advance significantly.
    Amr Hamzawy, one of the intermediaries said the negotiations were “gaining traction,” but added that his group did not meet with Mr. Suleiman on Saturday. The intermediaries, whose efforts have received the tacit encouragement of Western governments, have forwarded a plan that would see Mr. Mubarak transfer his powers to Mr. Suleiman and perhaps move to his home in Sharm el Sheik or embark on one of his annual medical leaves to Germany.
    In Tahrir Square, meanwhile, the military tightened its cordon around the protesters by reinforcing security checks at all the entrances off all entrances. An army general, Brig. Gen. Hassan al-Rawaini, negotiated with protesters outside a barricade near the Egyptian Museum, urging them to bring down the fortifications, allow traffic to return and move their protest to the heart of Tahrir Square.
    In contrast the pitched clashes of just days ago, General Rawaini offered a microphone to protesters so that they could air their complaints. He tried to reason, kissing some on the head and pinching others’ cheeks. Occasionally, he winked.
    Eventually, he and his soldiers moved past the makeshift barricade, knocking part of it down, though protesters quickly put back up the sheets of corrugated tin, barrels, metal rebar and parts of fences. He then toured an area strewn with rocks from the clashes and incinerated vehicles that served as barricades. Some protesters thought he was preparing for the army to enter, forming human chains across the streets. Others chanted, “Peaceful!” and formed a bodyguard around the general.
    “He wants to teat down these barricades, so that the tanks can come through,” shouted Sayyid Eid, a 20-year-old protester as he tried to block his way.
    “We’re going to die here,” yelled Magdi Abdel-Rahman, another protester.
    “Listen to him! Listen to him!” others shouted back.
    Tempers cooled and General Rawaini made a leisurely stroll to a makeshift health clinic, then visited knots of protesters across the square with a retinue of soldiers.
    “We’re trying to remove the barricades and return the streets to normal,” General Rawaini said. “If you want to protest, you can go back to the square.”
    A protester shouted back, “General, we’re not going to walk way from here until Hosni Mubarak leaves.”
    Mark Landler reported from Munich, and Kareem Fahim from Cairo. Reporting waa contributed by Steven Erlanger from Munich, and David D. Kirkpatrick, Anthony Shadid andMona El-Naggar from Cairo.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/06/world/middleeast/06egypt.html?pagewanted=all

    Arab Regimes 126

    The US arms industry and the people’s revolt in Egypt

    By Paul J. Balles

    6 February 2011
    Paul J. Balles comments on the USA’s ambivalent line on the people’s revolution in Egypt. He argues that although the administration has a growing fear that a government hostile to Washington could gain control Egypt, “the unspoken fear is that American arms manufacturers will lose a reliable customer".

    “The military was greeted warmly on the streets of Cairo. Crowds roared with approval as one soldier was carried through Tahrir Square today holding a flower in his hand,” reports Democracy Now! senior producer Sharif Abdel Kouddous.

    He speaks of "a great sense of pride that this is a leaderless movement organized by the people. A genuine popular revolt. It was not organized by opposition movements, though they have now joined the protesters in Tahrir."
    “US military aid to Egypt has been spent primarily on strengthening the regime’s ‘domestic security’ and its ability to confront popular movements.”
    According to Abdel Kouddous, "The Muslim Brotherhood was out in full force today. At one point they began chanting “Allah Akbar” only to be drowned out by much louder chants of “Muslim, Christian, we are all Egyptian.”
    What he describes, reflected in the TV coverage, is truly a “people’s revolution”. Will it play out that way? So far, the main concern of the protesters has been to get rid of Hosni Mubarak, Egypt’s “president”-cum-dictator for the past 30 years.

    The US has kept Mubarak in power, giving his regime 1.5 billion dollars in aid last year – mainly because he supported America’s pro-Israel policies, especially by helping Israel to maintain its stranglehold on Gaza.

    Egypt has been the number-two recipient (after Israel) of US foreign aid. In both 2009 and 2010, the economic aid amounted to 250 million dollars while military aid reached 1.3 billion dollars.

    US military aid to Egypt has been spent primarily on strengthening the regime’s “domestic security” and its ability to confront popular movements.

    In a report for the Carnegie Foundation on US aid to Egypt, Ahmad al-Sayed El-Naggar asks: "Why don’t Egyptians notice the role of American aid to their country? The simple answer is that US economic aid to Egypt, which amounted to 455 million dollars in 2007, translated to only 6 dollars per capita.”
    “The US has no reason to begrudge the amounts of military aid to Egypt. Much of it goes back to American defence contractors.”
    It was even less in 2010 when the total economic aid of 200 million dollars could provide less than 3 dollars per capita income. The people have suffered poverty while Mubarak supported his army and the US military-industrial complex.
    The US has no reason to begrudge the amounts of military aid to Egypt. Much of it goes back to American defence contractors. Lockheed Martin received a 213 million contract for 20 new F-16s for Egypt in March 2010, boasted the company on its website.

    BAE Systems, General Dynamics, General Electric, Raytheon and Lockheed Martin have all done business with the Egyptian government, selling tanks, fighter jets, howitzers and radar arrays to its military.

    Meanwhile, half the people of Egypt live on less than 2 dollars a day. Is it any wonder that they have taken to the streets in protest?

    When the tanks rolled into Cairo, some protesters climbed on them to a friendly reception by the soldiers. A couple of noisy fighter jets swooped threateningly overhead, but the protesters and the army remained friendly. Throughout the day people chanted: “The people, the army: one hand.”

    That wasn’t the case when the police and the security forces threw tear gas canisters with labels “Made in America” into the crowds. The security police have represented much of what the Egyptian people have come to hate about Mubarak.

    Meanwhile, the US administration has been waffling when asked whether they support the Egyptian public or Mubarak.
    Hillary Clinton, US Secretary of State, stressed that Egypt's future lies in the hands of its people, hewing to the administration line of refusing to take sides publicly.
    However, the administration has a growing fear that a government hostile to the US could gain control of such a large and important Arab nation.
    The unspoken fear is that American arms manufacturers will lose a reliable customer.