Revolutionary Change in Egypt: Internal or Made in USA? – by Stephen Lendman
US imperial policy includes regime change, affecting foes as well as no longer useful friends. Past targets included former Philippines leader Ferdinand Marcos, Iran’s Shah (Mohammad Reza Pahlavi), and Iraq’s Saddam Hussein, among others. According to some reports, Mubarak is next – aging, damaged and expendable.
George Friedman runs Stratfor, a private global intelligence service. On January 29, he issued a special Egypt report, saying:
On January 29, “Egypt’s internal security forces (including Central Security Forces anti-riot paramilitaries) were glaringly absent” after confronting protesters forcefully for several days. Army personnel replaced them. Demonstrators welcomed them.
“There is more (going on) than meets the eye.” While media reports focus on reform, democracy and human rights, “revolutions, including this one, are made up of many more actors than (Facebook and Twitter) liberal voices….” Some are, in fact, suspect, using social network sites for other than purported reasons.
Like Iran’s 1979 revolution, “the ideology and composition of protesters can wind up having very little to do with the” behind the scenes political forces gaining power. Egypt’s military may be preparing to seize it. Former air force chief/civil aviation minister Ahmed Shafiq is new prime minister, tasked with forming a new government, and intelligence head Omar Suleiman is Egypt’s first ever vice president under Mubarak, effectively second in command.
Moreover, Defense Minister Field Marshall Mohammed Hussein Tantawi “returned to Cairo after a week of intense discussions with senior US officials.” He heads the Republican Guard, responsible for defending major government and strategic institutions, the symbols of entrenched power. Also back is Lt. General Sami Annan. Both men with others “are likely managing the political process behind the scenes.”
As a result, expect more political changes, military commanders apparently willing to give Mubarak time to leave gracefully, but not much as unrest won’t subside until he’s gone.
Egypt’s military is key as “guarantor of regime stability.” It’s never “relinquished its rights to the state” no matter who’s president, made easier with popular support, unlike the hated police. But it’s not a monolithic force, nor can it shake its history of mid-level commanders like Gamal Abdel Nasser seizing power. In 1981, Islamists and junior officers assassinated Anwar Sadat, elevating Mubarak to the presidency.
“The history of the modern Egyptian republic haunts Egypt’s generals today. Though long suppressed, an Islamist strand exists amongst the junior ranks of Egypt’s modern military.” It could include “a cabal of colonels,” seeing a chance to seize power to address longstanding grievances, especially regarding US and Israeli policies, or perhaps promise change but maintain continuity.
So far, no coup d’etat signs have emerged. While Egypt’s military remains disciplined under a chain of command, “those trying to manage the crisis from the top cannot forget” their country’s history of successful mid-level commander coups. Given Egypt’s growing instability, another one is possible.
Washington and Israel are maneuvering for control. Egypt’s fate, believes Friedman, “lies in the ability of the military to not only manage the streets and the politicians, but also itself.”
He also said plainclothes Egyptian security forces are destroying public property, media reports blaming it on protesters. It also bears repeating – an overt police presence is absent, and military forces aren’t stopping demonstrations or enforcing curfews, appearing to back (or at least not oppose) dissident groups instead.
Omar Suleiman’s Role
On January 29, New Yorker writer Jane Mayer headlined, “Who is Omar Suleiman? saying:
Well-known in Washington, he’s poised to become president after Mubarak. As intelligence chief, he was CIA’s “point man in Egypt for renditions,” the agency’s snatch and grab policy against “terror suspects from around the world,” sending many to Egypt, perhaps to disappear as Marjorie Cohn explained in her book “Cowboy Republic: Six Ways the Bush Gang Has Defied the Law,” quoting a former CIA agent saying:
“If you want a serious interrogation, you send a prisoner to Jordan. If you want them to be tortured, you send them to Syria. If you want someone to disappear (after torture and interrogation) – never to see them again – you send them to Egypt,” a place of no return for many, Suleiman in charge as impresario.
America Backing Regime Change?
On January 28, London Telegraph writers Tim Ross, Matthew Moore and Steven Swinford headlined, “Egypt protests: America’s secret backing for rebel leaders behind uprising,” saying:
For the past three years, regime change plans have been ongoing, according to WikiLeaks released documents, accessed through the following link:
Dated February 2008 from the US Cairo embassy to Washington, they “disclose the extent of American support for” Mubarak opponents, saying “Egyptians need to replace the current regime with (the appearance of) a parliamentary democracy. Under undisclosed US control, of course, “several opposition forces – including the Wafd, Nasserite, Marama and Tagammu parties, and the Muslim brotherhood, Kifaya and Revolutionary Socialist movements – have agreed to support an unwritten plan for a transition to (a new order), involving a weakened presidency and an empowered prime minister and parliament, before the scheduled (September) 2011 presidential elections.”
Though previously supporting Mubarak, the documents show US supporting backing forces while publicly praising him as an important ally. They also revealed regular contact with opponents throughout 2008 and 2009, planning regime change, but not what protesters have in mind.
In June 2006, the National Security Network (NSN) was established “to revitalize America’s national security policy (by) developing innovative national security solutions (to counter) emerging threats….”
Arab populations have long heard variations on Washington’s theme, repeated in a NSN January 27 press release, saying: “The Obama administration seeks to encourage political reforms without destabilizing the region.”
In other words, democracy is messy and unreliable. Dictatorships are much easier to control, and when one despots proves unreliable or outlives his usefulness, replace him with another, perhaps smoothed by transitional authority.
Mubarak’s time has passed. Business as usual is planned. Democratic rhetoric masks it, the same kind US audiences hear from leaders flouting it at home and abroad.
Comments on The Angry Arab News Service
Edited by Professor As’ad AbuKhalil, it provides daily commentaries on regional events. On January 29, it cited “Comrade Joseph” saying:
“I am very worried that the Americans have taken over the direction of the Egyptian revolution. Let us remember that all possible candidates to replace Mubarak (are US) handpicked….including (ElBaradei) as well as Army chief of staff Anan, or anyone else for that matter. Obama has proven once more that” America is the Arab world’s strongest anti-democracy ally.
As a result, Arabs must be vigilant and “very cautious (about) what happens next. (America) wants to mortgage the freedom of all Arabs” to secure Western and Israeli interests.
Responding, AbuKhalil expressed less concern, saying: “there is (only) so much that the US can do to control the situation.” However, he sees a “US coup at the top” because America and Israel want regime continuity without Mubarak. What follows depends on “how hard (Egyptians) press. (He) think(s) that they won’t be fooled, even if the process of change take(s) a while, a year or more.”
However events play out, they face formidable Washington and Tel Aviv adversaries, waging wars to solidify power, especially in strategically important places.
A Final Comment
Unless America plans war or wants foreign adversaries vilified, rarely ever do US media report overseas news, especially like Middle East uprisings. Notably, little about Tunisia, Jordan, Yemen or Algeria was covered. But Egypt’s turmoil is main-featured on television and in print. Moreover, coverage includes unheard of pro-opposition views, meaning official Washington supports them.
In addition, though protesters want Mubarak out, anti-American signs aren’t evident or reports of Washington’s longstanding pernicious influence. Reform, however, requires ending it. Otherwise, new faces will continue old policies leaving deep-rooted hardships unaddressed.
In other words, everything will change but stay the same. Regional turmoil, especially Egypt’s, will only reshuffle the deck to look different when, in fact, neoliberal exploitation will persist, covert forces well positioned to assure it.
Moreover, skilled Western and regional media will keep US and foreign audiences fooled, assuring support for new Washington favorites thought different from old ones, when, in fact, they’re the same.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.