Monday, February 7, 2011

On Egypt and the Middle East, 2011

(This is meant to cause thought and discussion)

Over the past several weeks and indeed months the expanded Middle Eastern world, stretching from Pakistan in the east to Morocco in the west, has begun to catch fire. I’m not an expert on the dealings of the Middle East but I know a good bit about politics, history and the desires of people on many sides of the ideological spectrum. These are just some observations I’ve made and all the facts can be easily verifiable with much of the information being hard not to find so it’s not like this is just some random invented conspiracy theory. But I do want to stress that this is just a train of thought and potential connections to try and explain the interesting nature of the events in Egypt particularly.

Here is a timeline of events;
Dec 2010- Jan 2011: Tunisia
Jan 9-15/30, 2011: Sudan
Jan 14- present: Jordan
Jan 25- present: Egypt
Jan 26- present: Syria
Jan 27- present: Yemen
There are a number of smaller protests & riots in at least 4 other regional countries.

-- In Tunisia after a number of large protests and riots the president was ousted and forced to leave the country.

-- The events in Sudan have been going on for many years. After a 20 year civil war and widespread ethnic cleansing, primarily from Islamic and government forces against the minority Christian and tribal peoples, southern Sudan voted for independence. Between Jan 9-15, 2011 the people of southern Sudan held a referendum and the final results released Jan 30 showed that 98.8% of the southern population supported independence. One group that has been linked to the troubles in Sudan is known as the Muslim Brotherhood.

-- In Jordan similar protests occurred and the Jordanian king fired his Cabinet members in hopes of appeasing the people. There is also a Muslim Brotherhood connection.

-- The events in Egypt have been very complex and will have widespread results. Egypt has long been a US ally and a relatively stable force in the Middle East. Since Hosni Mubarak took power some 30 years ago Egypt has also taken a fairly peaceful stance toward Israel. Although the protests are new the problems leading up to them have been building for a long time. Despite the government’s pro-US stance and period of general economic success (compared to other countries) the government has also kept tight control over the media, political dissent and the military instead of the people have held control for much of Egypt’s modern history. Because of higher food prices, unemployment and a dictatorship the people have been ready to revolt however the reasons why they revolted now, 30 years after Mubarak took over, is something we should look into.

-- Syria has seen protests and deaths but the result and end of protests has yet to be seen.

-- Yemen, there have been relatively minor protests and their president pledged he wouldn’t seek another term.

Now back to Egypt. Egypt has been a US strategic ally for many years and they’ve had the same autocratic regime for decades. When you look at the whole situation, the way its unfolded, how it started, its current status, it all seems to be a bit suspect.

For example, this has been the largest demonstration in Egypt for many many years. If 250 people gathered in protest in Nov. 2009 they would have been met with a crushing police and even military response. But for some odd reason hundreds of thousands of people have been allowed to gather now with extreme tolerance by the government.

The protests began Jan 25th , a day chosen to coincide with the holiday “National Police Day”, but during that time the Egyptian military (which pretty much controls the nation) was preparing for very important talks here in the US about their military foreign aid. On Jan 29th their top brass were all at the Pentagon and so any response to these protests would have been slow and indeed the Egyptian government was very slow to respond. Anyone who has access to information and who knows about foreign aid talks would have known that the leaders of the Egyptian military would be out of the country for a period of time and it would be a relatively safe period to launch or at least inflame the protests.

Another curiosity is that Egypt has a population of 80 million and yet large protests only erupted in Cairo and Alexandria. Even though the police and military were ordered to not fire on the protestors the growth of the gatherings remained localized in those 2 cities with a smaller demonstrations and riots in a few others. In Europe & the US during the start of the Iraq war there were hundreds of protests some including tens of thousands of people.

Why then, in a nation with such a history of “horrors” would these protests be so small relative to the population AND compared with the grievances they claim it to be about, especially when they know that police and military forces wouldn’t stop them? It just doesn’t make sense unless perhaps these events began naturally but were inflamed by outside forces in order to try to topple the government. If any people lived utterly dreaded lives for decades when given the chance to speak out they would but in Egypt it has just been a modest affaire with some of the groups involved coming from outside Egypt or were banned in the country such as the Muslim Brotherhood.

There has been increasing evidence that the extreme left in the US and Europe has been courting extremist Islam as a means to end the dominance of America, capitalism and true freedom. One such group is the US based “Code Pink” an organization of women who claim to be against war and for peace. Why then would Code Pink have placed an ad on the English site for the Muslim Brotherhood which asks them to “Help us Cleanse our Nation”?

The Muslim Brotherhood is a radical group that opposes the state of Israel, supports extremist Islamic law and has connections with many other groups, some known terrorist organizations. The MB has been banned in Egypt for several years and has very little popular support there. Why then has there been so much news talking about their potential power? I personally believe it’s because the MB and similar groups have been getting outside support, which has been seen.

One way you solidify support for your movement is by showing how bad the other side is. Most demonstrations have been fairly peaceful and as I’ve stated before the military have official orders to not engage in conflict with the demonstrators. A method of gaining popular support is by having more radical supporters pose as the “enemy”, in this case out of uniform and retired police/government people, and cause trouble. Then you can claim that while your protestors have been good and only want peace the evil government and your opposition have engaged in violence. This was a tactic used by Nazi Germany and helped justify the invasion of Poland.

Now I’m not suggesting that it isn’t possible for government supporters to engage in violence and I’m sure some have but I also know that by posing as your enemy and doing something violent it’s a great way to gain support.

Another interesting thing is the way our government has reacted to this situation. The Obama administration has said many times throughout the years that they would support any nation or people who wanted to be free. So why has the Obama admin. taken a “deer in headlights” approach? Neither the president nor State Dept. said anything definitive for days in the beginning and the limited words they have said since have all been a bit of “duck & cover”, not saying anything in strong support for the end of the Mubarak regime or for Mubarak’s people to stay in power. All they’ve said is that the demonstrators’ demands should be heard; that free elections need to be held, there needs to be a peaceful transition and that Mubarak should probably stand down. Obama’s gov. only began being vocal about Mubarak stepping down when Mubarak himself said he wouldn’t run for another term.

Of course some of the biggest backers of this administration has come from the far left and include former domestic terrorists and people like George Soros.

Soros and his many organizations have for years talked about the need to end capitalism, restructure the US and have been fairly vocal and direct with flat out socialist (politically & economically) rhetoric. One of the “leaders” to come out of the throng of protestors is a man named Mohamed ElBaradei. ElBaradei was born in Egypt but has lived in London for decades. He is also on the board, along with George Soros, of the International Crisis Group.

The ICG is a leading NGO and is a large source of advice for foreign governments, the UN, World Bank and EU. I’m not saying the ICG has anything to do with this in the least but it’s a big link between ElBaradei and Soros; the two also have connections with the Council on Foreign Relations.

In 1992 Soros was largely responsible for the devaluation of the pound Sterling and earned over $1 billion off the damaged finances of 50 million British. He has consistently said and been reported saying how amused he was at the whole thing and how he had actually planned to devalue the pound far more. He also had a part in the 1997 Asian financial crisis which at its end the affected nations lost a total of 32% of its nominal GDP.

There has been a great deal of reports and papers showing the increasing connection & friendly behavior between the liberals in the US & Europe and radical extremist groups like the Muslim Brotherhood which though banned in Egypt actually have a fair chance of greatly exploiting the unrest in Egypt to their benefit. Not to mention extremist groups across the Middle East. Groups Soros donates to or runs gives around $600 million annually and much of the money goes to far left causes including the destruction of Israel and to wage war on the west & capitalism (according to their own people & websites).

Mohamed ElBaradei told the media at the beginning that he had no intention of running for president of Egypt but several days later he changed his story saying that if the people wanted him to run he would.

The Mubarak regime has been one of limited rights and crushing opposition but it has also been one of the most stable governments in the entire region. Egypt has been an ally to the US and has treaties with Israel. Under Mubarak the Egyptian economy has grown and is comparably wealthy (excluding oil dominate economies). Despite a recent downturn in their economy (which was the main cause for the demonstrations at the beginning) Egypt has things pretty good when you look at places like Sudan, its southern neighbor. This brings me to my final point:

The demonstrations did start over the economy but as you watched things unfold it became more and more about the overthrow of the government. This coincided with an influx of foreign supporters like ElBaradei and an increasing presence of the illegal Muslim Brotherhood. The MB has also had a hand in similar protests and riots across several countries.

So I think the start of the events began fairly organically but was influenced by outside and extremist groups at a time when the government was ill-prepared to act. The goal, I believe, was the overturn of the government in Egypt as well as other nations in order to set up further extremist and anti-American/anti-free market states. All helped by the support of people like Soros (either directly or in directly) and groups like Code Pink that are generally behind the scenes.

If these protests were all ran by the people of Egypt without extremist or outside influence, given that the government has promised to let them demonstrate, why have they not taken off in many other cities? If a 20% unemployment rate was the primary factor why the limited extent of the protests? And why after only 14 days has the number of protestors dropped dramatically? Mubarak has said he will step down at the end of his term but they still lack an “opposition” government and there’s a threat that his supporters will take over so reason would suggest that the size and strength of the movement would be growing, not shrinking, and not being taken over (at least on the front and in the eyes of the west) by the MB, a group with little public support in Egypt.

Perhaps there is much more here than meets the eye.

--Jacob Bogle, 2/7/2011