Saturday, February 12, 2011

Layer 444 . . . End of an Era, Egypt's Joy, Hope for the Future

Unlike the events of 1968, which brought NO regime changes to any of the countries in which they took place, 2011 has begun with regime changes in both the countries where people have taken to the streets and demanded that their Head of State stand down.

The danger now is that having got rid of both their presidents, the people of Tunisia and Egypt will see no real political, social and economic changes. "Meet the new boss - same as the old boss." [The Who]

There's a grave danger that the peaceful revolutions of 2011 will go the same way as the non-violent revolutions in Eastern Europe in '89, where turbo capitalism and neo-conservatism rushed in as soon as the doors opened to 'freedom' and 'democracy'.

Somehow, though, I doubt it. The Egyptian people have put up with shit for 30 years or more, and in the age of the internet and satellite TV I don't think they'll get fooled again. [The Who]

A friend suggested recently that 2011/2012, far from being the end of the world, will be the proper dawning of an age of Aquarius. I'll go with that as a working hypothesis.

I've been saying for ages that leaderless, peaceful uprisings of people who gather together in the streets and the squares of any nation and refuse to go home until their voices are heard and their wishes are understood are the way to do politics - especially in countries where politics are the exclusive preserve of rich elites and a rigid party system, especially if it's a first past the post system.

The people of Tunisia and Egypt have shown that this is the model for participatory politics in the future, just as politics was done in the open air by citizens in ancient Greece. Tahrir Square should remain as the open-air political HQ of the Egyptian people. The rest of us can connect with them via broadband, as is already happening.

Peoples of the world unite!


Mubarak's departure marks the end of an era for Egypt

If real reforms are achieved, Egypt will have witnessed a real revolution – and its impact will be felt across the Middle East

Hosni Mubarak's dramatic departure marks the end of an era for Egypt and the Middle East.

Rule by the military can only be temporary. Mubarak's exit, the dissolution of what is seen as an illegitimate parliament, constitutional reforms and abolition of the emergency laws are all non-negotiable. If those reforms are achieved, then Egypt will have witnessed a real revolution – beyond the removal of a stubborn 82-year-old president long past his sell-by date.

With good will it should be possible to amend or rewrite the constitution to allow the election of a new parliament and president. It could, however, all still take months to agree, risking impatience in the streets and new unrest.

What happens in the Arab world's most populous country matters for many millions of other Arabs, who also suffer from unemployment, inequality, corruption and unresponsive, unaccountable governments – and share the language in which it is being covered in media such as al-Jazeera and social networking sites that official censors cannot easily block.

Other authoritarian regimes, shocked first by the uprising in Tunisia and now in Egypt, have been trying to pre-empt trouble by promises of reform, sacking ministers, maintaining subsidies or raising wages to buy off critics and defuse tensions. The symptoms are visible from Yemen to Jordan, from Algeria to Syria.

In the 1960s and 1970s, Egypt was a Soviet client, but it changed sides in 1979 by signing a taboo-breaking peace treaty with Israel, after four wars that cost it thousands of lives.


Mubarak's downfall and disgrace has a huge symbolic reality that will spur the momentum for change across the Muslim world since he represented a neo-colonial system that has been drammatically cast aside and thrown into the dustbin of history!

Now the opportunity presents itself to Egypt and the other Muslim countries of the region and beyond to bring a new political reality to these lands that will be aligned with the aspiration and values of the people, that will harness the energy of the youth and that will bring genuine independence from western states.


                                                     (c) Martin Rowson


By Percy Bysshe Shelley

"I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed.
And on the pedestal these words appear:
"My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!"
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away."

The people have spoken and their voices have been heard. Today is the dawning of a new era and the reverberations shall be heard worldwide especially amongst those leaders who continue to abuse the majority to maintain the priviledges and misrule of the minority. There is hope for the future after all. Thank you Egypt for leading the way.


Good luck to the people of Egypt ... let's hope that this will not lead to another sell out by the army and the USA.

In the UK, we're being sold out every day ... the government has withdrawn the selling off of the forests until the Public Bodies Bill gets passed into legislation. This will give every relevant minister total power to abolish, amend or merge any quango or other. So in a few months time, Caroline Spelman will be able to sell off any piece of public woodland she wants.

In fact, I'm coming to believe that the whole fiasco of the consultation was to knock the horrors of the NHS privatisation off the news. They needn't have bothered. The lunacy of our media's reporting meant that all the reporters had shot off for a jolly in the sun.

We need to be on the streets like the Egyptians to stop this government's destruction of the welfare state.


One of the most heartwarming scenes of these past few weeks has been to see families and young people out on the streets making their voices heard standing up for what is right even though it could have impacted on them so badly. Their courage and incessant efforts to speak out against those who have used and abused them over the years is a fine example to set to the rest of the world. And I am sure, as with my own son, there are many young people worldwide looking on and seeing that the status quo does not have to be maintained if it goes against the will of the people and more importantly if it is in fact inherently wrong and unjust.

Many leaders including those closest to home will now hopefully take heed of the warning signs emerging and realise they can no longer go against the will of the people for their own questionable political and economic aims.

The winds of change are blowing afresh and those who decide to ignore them do so at their peril. I wouldn't be surprised if those same winds are feeling decidedly chilly to the likes of Mr Cameron and others on the right who know deep down that they do not act on behalf of the people but rather on behalf of a privileged few who hope to maintain their grasp on power solely in order to maintain the inequality they foster and the social injustices they espouse. Enough is enough. Lets hope those winds can reach further afield and bring about a new era worldwide where voices are heard and acted upon and change where needed can come about for the good of the people and for the sake of social justice. Oppression in whatever form it takes can no longer and should no longer be accepted. Yes I do believe, thankfully, that this is indeed the dawning of a new era.


I better write quickly before the daily mailers get here.....

The wonderful people of Egypt have shown us the way. Good luck to them - they have shaken off oppression.

Let's get out there and stay out too till we get rid of the threat to the NHS by the CON-DEMs and send the monster waiting to be born that is their NHS Bill, back to the wastelands of their ideology



    Let's get out there and stay out too till we get rid of the threat to the NHS by the CON-DEMs and send the monster waiting to be born that is their NHS Bill, back to the wastelands of their ideology

I think we should be a tad more ambitious than that, no? Let's stay out there until they're gone, and put any prospective government on notice that we will be back out there if they don't start doing what the people want as opposed to what their super-rich paymasters are demanding.

There's more of us than there are of them. It's about time they were reminded of it. We are all Egyptian.


And as for the inscription 'Made in USA' we should add 'Made and upheld by the UK too"...........

"GENEVA – The Swiss government on Friday froze any assets belonging to former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak or his family in Switzerland.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Lars Knuchel said the order took effect immediately but gave no details on what bank accounts or other assets Mubarak or his family might have in Switzerland.

He spoke as pro-democracy demonstrators in Cairo were jubilantly celebrating the announcement that Mubarak has resigned after nearly three decades of authoritarian rule and handed power over to the military.

"(The Swiss government) wants to avoid any risk of misappropriation of state-owned Egyptian assets," the Foreign Ministry said in a statement. It also forbid the sale of any assets, especially real estate holdings."

Tonight many Egyptians have mentioned that even if Mubarak's personal fortune stolen from Egypt and its people is only half of what they say it is it would in fact pay off Egypt's international debt which would in turn play a part in starting to help those 40% of the population who have been and still are living in poverty.

Recent reports have mentioned that part of the real estate empire of the Mubarak's is located here in the UK, that there has been the involvement of British businesses connected with his ill gotten personal fortune and also the possibility that British Banks are involved too.

Over to you Mr Cameron. Will he do the right thing or will the interests of the conservative party's friends in the business, finance and banking world take precedence over justice and the rights of the people. Somehow I think we already know the answer to that as I'm sure vested interests are as we speak busily getting their hands on what is not theirs. The Swiss government are trying to resolve matters to ensure the Egyptian people receive that which has been stolen from them. I wonder if our government will do so too?


William Butler Yeats (1865-1939)

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: a waste of desert sand;
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Wind shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?


We all owe it to the Egptian people to read the following article by Pankaj Mishra and ensure that the mistakes of the past are not repeated , instead being part of a movement worldwide which will ensure this new dawning will not be so easily cast aside by those with vested interests whether they be economic, ideological or political. If you really are on the side of the Egyptian people please take the time to read the following which will help us all understand more the mistakes of the past whilst making sure we will not play a part in the repitition of those mistakes worlwide in the future.


The tyrant has gone. Now the real struggle begins for Egypt

The protesters have stripped Mubarak and his foreign backers of their authority. But the roots of despotism run deep

by Pankaj Mishra

For the last two weeks I have, like innumerable others, careened from the television news to internet updates and back, longing for the moment that came last night, when the tyrant finally yielded to a brave and spirited people. History has been made; celebrations are in order. But it is not too early to ask: what next?


Egypt's joy as Mubarak quits

With Hosni Mubarak's departure, the age of political reason is returning to Egypt and the wider Arab world

by Tariq Ali

A joyous night in Cairo. What bliss to be alive, to be an Egyptian and an Arab. In Tahrir Square they're chanting, "Egypt is free" and "We won!"

The removal of Mubarak alone (and getting the bulk of his $40bn loot back for the national treasury), without any other reforms, would itself be experienced in the region and in Egypt as a huge political triumph. It will set new forces into motion. A nation that has witnessed miracles of mass mobilisations and a huge rise in popular political consciousness will not be easy to crush, as Tunisia demonstrates.

Huge assemblies in symbolic spaces posing an immediate challenge to authority – as if to say, we are showing our strength, we don't want to test it because we neither organised for that nor are we prepared, but if you mow us down remember the world is watching.

This dependence on global public opinion is moving, but is also a sign of weakness. Had Obama and the Pentagon ordered the Egyptian army to clear the square – however high the cost – the generals would have obeyed orders, but it would have been an extremely risky operation for them, if not for Obama.

The show of popular strength was enough to get rid of the current dictator. He'd only go if the US decided to take him away. After much wobbling, they did. They had no other serious option left. The victory, however, belongs to the Egyptian people whose unending courage and sacrifices made all this possible.

Having unleashed security thugs only a fortnight ago, Vice-President Suleiman's failure to dislodge the demonstrators from the square was one more nail in the coffin. The rising tide of the Egyptian masses with workers coming out on strike , judges demonstrating on the streets, and the threat of even larger crowds next week, made it impossible for Washington to hang on to Mubarak and his cronies. The man Hillary Clinton had referred to as a loyal friend, indeed "family", was dumped. The US decided to cut its losses and authorised the military intervention.

Omar Suleiman, an old western favourite, was selected as vice-president by Washington, endorsed by the EU, to supervise an "orderly transition". Suleiman was always viewed by the people as a brutal and corrupt torturer, a man who not only gives orders, but participates in the process. A WikiLeaks document had a former US ambassador praising him for not being "squeamish". The new vice president had warned the protesting crowds last Tuesday that if they did not demobilise themselves voluntarily, the army was standing by: a coup might be the only option left. It was, but against the dictator they had backed for 30 years. It was the only way to stabilise the country. There could be no return to "normality".

The age of political reason is returning to the Arab world. The people are fed up of being colonised and bullied. Meanwhile, the political temperature is rising in Jordan, Algeria and Yemen.


US can celebrate Egyptian people's triumph

Critics say Obama didn't lead, he followed. This was appropriate: Egypt is on a path to democracy and no one got invaded

by Michael Tomasky

My God, what a moving day this is. To think that just 18 days of largely peaceful protests can accomplish this. Remarkable.

President Obama's remarks on Friday afternoon were appropriate and powerful: the people of Egypt have inspired the world.

Critics, neocons especially, will say he didn't lead, he followed. That's true. And that was appropriate. It was up to the Egyptian people to lead this, not the United States.

And the Egyptian military. Someday, we'll get the back story on how, in just 24 hours, the military went from evidently backing Mubarak to ditching him. This was crucial, and I doubt very much the US played no role in this. I'd wager that Pentagon chief Robert Gates and Mike Mullen, the heads of the joint chiefs of staff, had quite a lot to do with that.

With the Egyptian army relying on US military aid basically to exist, their words surely carried weight. Maybe all that aid over years, excessive as it has been in many ways, paid important dividends in the last two weeks. The army behaved professionally, not like some tinhorn's personal secret security service. That was one of the most breathtaking things about this, and could stand as one of the most hopeful in terms of serving as a model for future situations like this.

There's a long way to go from here, of course. This is a happy beginning, not a happy ending. But now, the US can and should start playing the less ambiguous role it took on, as of Thursday night. We need to be on the side of democracy and rights and freedoms, and stay on that side . . .

I will not say that Obama deserves much credit for this. At the same time, I have no doubt in my mind that if President McCain had given a speech on democracy in Cairo 20 months ago and now this happened, the neocons and Fox News and the usual suspects would be calling it "the McCain Revolution" and baying about how it proved that a bold stance by an American president had made all the difference.

I won't parrot that kind of inanity. I'll simply say that, from his Cairo speech until today, Obama has helped this process more than he's hindered it. And we didn't have to invade two countries, either. That's the right side – for him, and for us, the people of the United States. Now, we need to stay there.

This is a great opportunity for the US, and all of the west, to help a people learn the habits of freedom, and for those habits to spread.
Posted by Michael Tomasky Friday 11 February 2011 21.48 GMT


I give Obama high marks for the way he handled the Egyptian revolution.

The US - and the rest of the world - was caught totally offguard by this and had little time to formulate a strategy.

True, Mubarak was a dictator but he was also a close friend of the US. If Obama was to have overtly backed Mubarak he would have earned the enduring enmity of the Egyptian masses. However, if he turned his back on Mubarak he would have made the US appear untrustworthy. By this, I mean that it would have looked awful if the US suddenly turned on a long-time ally when things suddenly became tough for him.

Obama had to walk a tightrope in handling the uprising. In this respect he did a good job.


Hosni Mubarak resigns – and Egypt celebrates a new dawn

• President surrenders power to army and flies out of Cairo
• Egypt rejoices as 18 days of mass protest end in revolution
• Military pledges not to get in way of 'legitimate' government

"We have brought down the regime, we have brought down the regime," chanted the crowd.

Mohammed Abdul Ghedi, a lifeguard who had come from the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, to which the ex-president and his family flew yesterday, held up a sign in English saying: "Mubarak you are nothing, you are heartless, without mind, just youkel, worthless, fuck off."

"This is my first day here, and he is gone. Mubarak is a liar. When he promised to leave in three or six months we don't believe him. We only believe him when he is gone," he said. "Now Egyptians are free. All of Egypt is liberated. Now we will choose our leaders, and if we don't like them, they will go."

Another protester, Karim Medhat Ennarah, said with tears in his eyes: "For 18 days we have withstood teargas, rubber bullets, live ammunition, Molotov cocktails, thugs on horseback, the scepticism and fear of our loved ones, and the worst sort of ambivalence from an international community that claims to care about democracy.

"But we held our ground. We did it."


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