Once again world public opinion faces a most bizarre political event: an alliance between political forces on the extreme Right and the Left, including collaboration between NATO regimes and Marxist sects. The apparent ‘unity of opposites’ is a response to alleged policy and institutional changes made by center-left and center-right regimes, which adversely affect both economic and political elites as well as the popular sectors.
The circumstances, under which this unholy alliance takes place, vary according to the type of regime, its policies and the class orientation of the opposition. The best way to analyze the left-right alliance is to examine the cases of Egypt and Argentina.
Egypt: The Alliance between Mubarak-Appointed Judges, Secular Liberals, Leftist Intellectuals and Disenchanted Workers
To understand the alliance between the corrupt remnants of the Mubarak state apparatus and their former political victims from the center-left and secular-right, it is essential to examine the political context, which has evolved since the overthrow of the Mubarak dictatorship in February 2011.
While Islamist and secular democratic forces played a major role in mobilizing millions of Egyptians in ousting the hated US-Israeli client, Hosni Mubarak, it was the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) and their fundamentalist rivals, the Salafis, who won the majority of votes in the subsequent elections and formed the first democratically-elected government in Egypt.[i] In the beginning, the Muslim Brotherhood was forced to share power with the ‘transitional military junta’, which had seized power immediately after the ouster of Mubarak. Subsequently President Mohamed Morsi, from the Muslim Brotherhood, convoked elections to a constituent assembly and nominated a commission to write a new constitution. This was backed by a majority of the newly-elected Egyptian parliament. Reflecting the Muslim Brotherhood’s electoral victory, the constitutional commission was dominated by its supporters. Many secular liberals and leftists rejected their minority status in the process.
Aside from his work on the constitutional front, Morsi negotiated a financial loan package of $4.5 billion with the IMF, $5 billion from the EU and an additional one billion dollars in US aid. These aid agreements were conditional on President Morsi implementing ‘free market’ policies, including an ‘open-door’ to foreign investment, ending food and fuel price subsidies to the poor and maintaining the humiliating Mubarak-era treaty with Israel, which included Egypt’s participation in the brutal blockade of Gaza.
While the despised US-Israel-backed dictator Hosni Mubarak may have been ousted from power and a new democratically-elected legislature had taken office (temporarily) along with President Morsi, Mubarak supporters continued to dominate key positions in the ministries, the entire judiciary, military and police. Thus powerfully ensconced, the Mubarak elite strove in every way to undermine emerging democratic institutions and processes. The Minister of Defense, Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, shielded the police officials and paramilitary forces responsible for the jailing, torture and murder of thousands of pro-democracy demonstrators. Mubarak-appointed judges arbitrarily disqualified legislative and presidential candidates, invalidated democratic elections and even ordered the closing of parliament. They then moved to outlaw the elected constituent assembly and the commission set-up to draft the new Egyptian constitution.
In other words, Mubarakites, embedded in the state apparatus, were engaged in an institutional coup d’etat to retain power, destabilize and paralyze the democratically-elected Morsi regime and create political disorder, propitious for a return to their dictatorial rule.
It was the Mubarak-appointed judges’ power-grab that eliminated the separation of powers by imposing arbitrary judicial decisions and powers over and above the hard-won electoral rights of Egyptian citizens and their elected legislature. The judges’ self-proclaimed assumption of legislative and executive supremacy was a direct assault on the integrity of the emerging democratic process.
When President Morsi finally moved to counter the Mubarak-allied judges’ dismissal of legitimately-elected bodies by assuming temporary emergency powers, these judges and their cheerleaders in the Western media accused him of subverting democracy and violating the ‘independence’ of the judiciary. The Western ‘liberal’ outcry at Morsi’s so-called ‘power grab’ is laughable given the fact that they ignored the naked ‘power grab’ of the judges when they dismissed Egypt’s parliament, its free elections and the writing of its new constitution under the leadership of Egypt’s new president. These cries of ‘democracy’ ring hollow from a judiciary, which had shamelessly legalized countless murders, tortures and dictatorial acts committed by Mubarak for over 30 years.
The judges’ democratic posturing and cries of injustice were accompanied by theatrical walkouts and protests aimed at mobilizing public opinion. Apart from a few thousand die-hard Mubarak holdovers, these judges managed to attract very little support, until secular liberals, leftists, trade unionists and sectors of the unemployed decided to intervene and try to win in the streets what they lost at the ballot box.
The popular protests, in contrast to the judges’ defense of Mubarak-era privilege and their blatant power grab, was based on Morsi’s failure to tackle the problems of growing unemployment and plummeting income, as well as his acceptance of IMF demands to end public subsidies for the poor. The secular-liberals joined forces with Mubarak-era judges in their clamor against ‘authoritarianism’ and pushed their own secular agenda against the Islamist tendencies in the regime and in the drawing up of the constitution. Pro-democracy youth sought to exploit the legislative vacuum created when the right-wing judges dismissed the parliament and put forward a vague notion of ‘alternative democracy’ … presumably one which would exclude the votes of the Islamist majority. The trade unions, which had led numerous strikes after the fall of Mubarak and remain a force among factory workers, joined the protests against Morsi, rejecting his embrace of the corporate elite. Even some Islamist groups, disgusted with Morsi’s accommodation with Israel and the US, also joined and took to the streets.
The US and the EU took advantage of the judges’ protest to step in and warn Morsi to abide to a ‘power sharing’ agreement with the Mubarak officials and the military or lose financial aid.
Washington has been playing a clever ‘two track policy’: They support Morsi when he implements a neo-liberal ‘free market’ domestic agenda using the Muslim Brotherhood networks to contain and limit popular protest among Egypt’s poor while threatening US aid if he vacillates on Mubarak-era agreements with Israel to starve Gaza. The White House insists that Morsi continue supplying cheap gas to Tel Aviv, as well as backing ongoing and future NATO wars against Syria and Iran. But the US and EU also want to keep the old reliable Mubarak power centers in place as a check and veto on Morsi in case a powerful anti-Zionist, populist urban movement pressures his regime to backtrack on the IMF program and the hated treaty with Israel.
The constitution, presented by the commission, is a compromise between Islamists, neo-liberals and democratic electoralists. This constitution undermines the judges’ power grab and allows the Morsi government to prosecute or fire the corrupt Mubarak-era officials; it guarantees the primacy of private, including foreign, property; it privileges Islamic law and provides ‘space’ and possibilities for Islamist leaders to restrict the rights of Egyptian women and religious minorities, notably the Coptic Christians.
A democratic vote on the constitutional referendum will test the strength of the pro and anti-government forces. A boycott by secular, liberal and populist-democratic forces will only demonstrate their weakness and strengthen the reactionary coup-makers embedded among the Mubarak-era officials in judiciary, police, military and civilian bureaucracy.
The Left and democratic-secular movements and leaders have formed an opportunistic, de-facto alliance with the Mubarak elite: a marriage of ‘the police club’ with its former victims, ‘the clubbed democrats’ of the recent past. The progressives overlook the danger of the judges’ creeping coup, in their blind effort to undermine the Muslim Brotherhood and the Morsi regime: It’s one thing to oppose Morsi’s reactionary agenda and the anti-popular votes of a reactionary legislature; it’s something totally different to promote the ouster of a democratically-elected legislature by hold-over judges pushing for the return of despotism. Undermining the democratic process will not only adversely affect President Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood but also the democratic opposition. The prime beneficiaries will be the right-wing forces encrusted in the State.
The anti-Muslim Brotherhood demonstrators, who are the clear losers in democratic elections and a minority in the country, burned and trashed the offices and meeting places of the Brotherhood and assaulted their supporters in the worst traditions of the Mubarak era. The self-styled ‘pro-democracy’ activists’ assaults on the Presidential palace and their rejection of Morsi’s call for dialogue has opened the way for the return of military rule. The military command’s thinly veiled threat was evident in their pronouncement that they would intervene with force to maintain order and protect the public if violence continues. The coincidence of prolonged street disorder and assaults on electoral politics with military overtures to take power have a distinct smell of a barnyard confabulation. The right-left alliance makes it difficult to decipher whether the violence is a staged provocation to bring the military back to power or an expression of leftist rage at their electoral impotence.
For strategic, pragmatic and principled reasons, the Left should have denounced the Mubarak-appointed judges the moment they outlawed the elected legislature. The Left should have demanded the ouster of these judges and military leaders and combined their demands with a campaign against Morsi’s ties with the imperial West and Israel and a repudiation of the IMF program. By backing these corrupt judges, progressives gained the short-term support of the Western media and governments while strengthening their strategic enemy.
Argentina: The Right-Left Alliance
President Cristina Fernandez is representative of the center-left regimes, which predominate in Latin America today. Her recent resounding electoral victory[ii] is a product of the popular uprisings (2001-2003), the social reforms and independent foreign policy pursued by her predecessor (and husband) Nestor Kirchner (2003-2007) and several popular reforms implemented under her Presidency.
But like all center-left regimes, President Fernandez (2008-2012) has combined conservative, neo-liberal and populist progressive policies. On the one hand, Fernandez has encouraged foreign mining companies to exploit the Argentina’s great mineral resources, charging very low royalty payments and imposing very few environmental restraints, while, on the other hand, she nationalized the abusive Spanish multinational oil company, Repsol, for non-compliance with its contract.
The government has substantially increased the minimum wage, including for farm workers, while opening up the country to overseas land speculators and investors to buy millions of acres of farmland. The government has allowed highly toxic-chemicals to be sprayed on fields next to rural communities while increasing corporate taxes and controls over agro-export earnings. The government passed legislation to restrict monopoly ownership of the mass media promising to expand media licensing to local communities and diverse social groups, while doing little to limit the power of big agro-export firms. President Fernandez has supported Latin American integration (excluding the US) and welcomed radical President Chavez as a valuable partner in trade and investment and diversified markets. At the same time Argentina has grown increasingly dependent on a narrow range of agro-mineral (‘primary goods’) exports to the detriment of domestic manufacturing. Presidents Fernandez and Kirchner encouraged trade union activity and, until recently, supported hefty increases in wage, pension and medical benefits, drastically reducing poverty levels – but they did so while maintaining the wealth, land, profits and dividends of the capitalist class.
The Argentine President was able to support both the economic elites and the working class as long as commodity prices and international demand remained high. However, with the economic slowdown in Asia and decline in commodity prices and therefore state revenue, the President is being squeezed from both sides. By the end of the first decade of the 21st century, the elite attacked the government more ferociously, led by the big and medium-size landowners and exporters. They demanded the government revoke its increase in export taxes and currency controls. The upper-middle and the affluent middle class of Buenos Aires, backed by supporters of the previous military dictatorship, organized mass marches and demonstrations to protest a medley of government policies, including limits on dollar purchases, inflation and inaction amidst rising crime rates.
Around the same time, conservative and radical leftist trade unionists organized a general strike – ostensibly because wage increases had failed to keep up with ‘real’ rates of inflation (double the ‘official rate’ – so they claimed). The major media monopoly, Clarin, organized a virulent systematic propaganda campaign trumpeting the demands of the economic elite, fabricating stories of government corruption and refusing to comply with the new government legislation in hopes of staving off the dismantling of its huge media monopoly.
The US and EU increased pressure on Argentina by excluding it from international capital markets, questioning its credibility, downgrading its ratings and promoting a virulently hostile anti-Fernandez mass media campaign in the financial press.
The destabilization campaign has been orchestrated by the same economic elites who supported the brutal seven-year military dictatorship during which an estimated 30,000 Argentines were murdered by the juntas. Elite opposition is rooted in reactionary social and economic demands, i.e. lower taxes on exports, deregulation of the dollar market, their monopoly of the mass media and a reversal of popular social legislation.
The ‘left opposition’ includes a variety of movements including Marxist grouplets and trade unions who demand salary increases commensurate with ‘real inflation’ as well as environmentalists demanding tighter controls over agro-chemical pollution, GM seeds and destructive mining operations. Many of these demands have legitimacy, however some of the Marxist and leftist groups have been participating in protests and strikes convoked by the right-wing parties and economic elites designed to destabilize and overthrow the government. Few if any have joined with the government to denounce the blatant US-EU credit squeeze and imperial offensive against Fernandez.
This de-facto Right-Left alliance on the streets is led by the most rancid, authoritarian and neo-liberal elites who ultimately will be the prime beneficiary if the Fernandez regime is destabilized and toppled. By joining general strikes organized by the far-Right, the left claims to be ‘furthering the interests of the workers’ and ‘acting independently’ of the economic elite. However, their activities take place at the same time and same location as the hordes of wealthy upper middle class protestors clamoring for the ouster of the democratically elected center-left regime. The left grouplets maintain that they are in favor of building a ‘workers state’ as they march abreast with the rich and militarists. Objectively, their capacity to catalyze a revolution is nil and the real outcome of their ‘opportunism’ will be a victory for the agro-export elite – mass media monopolies – US-EU alliance. The ‘leftist’ workers protest is mere window dressing for the destabilization of a social-liberal democracy and will help return a far-right regime to power!
The majority of the workers, pensioners and trade unionists reject any participation in the bosses’ general strikes – even as they voice their legitimate demands for better pay and the indexing of wage rates to the real inflation rate. However they join with the government in rejecting the international creditor demands and US judicial rulings favoring Wall Street speculators over Argentina’s social interests. Nevertheless, the left-right protest resonates with many rank and file employees, especially when export revenues decline and the Fernandez regime lacks the funds to maintain the social spending of the past decade.
The political challenge for the consequential Left is to defend democracy against this opportunist ‘Left’-Right onslaught while defending workers’ interests in the face of a decaying center-left regime bent on pursuing its contradictory program.
Conclusion: The Dilemmas of Capitalist Democracies
The capitalist democracies of Egypt and Argentina face similar Left-Right alliances, even though they differ sharply in their socio-economic trajectory and social bases of support. Both Argentina and Egypt have emerged from brutal dictatorships in recent years: Argentine democracy is nearly 30 years old while Egyptian democracy is less than a year old. Argentine democracy, like Egypt’s, has been confronting powerful authoritarian institutions leftover from the dictatorial period. These are entrenched especially in three areas: the military and police, the judiciary and among sectors of the capitalist class. They all benefited from the special privileges granted by the dictators.
In Argentina, over the past decade, Presidents Kirchner and Fernandez succeeded in purging the state apparatus of criminals, murderers and torturers among the military, police and judiciary. In Egypt, the Morsi regime, in its short time in office, hesitated at first, but then moved forward replacing some Mubarak military commanders and promising to investigate and prosecute those Mubarak-appointed officials involved in the killing and torture of pro-democracy demonstrators. The Egyptian reactionaries struck back: Mubarak-appointed judges denied the legality of the democratically elected legislature and constituent assembly. In Argentina, powerful agrarian interests and the right-wing mass media conglomerate, which had backed the dictatorships, struck back as the government moved to end the corporate media monopoly and tax concessions to the agro-export elite. The conflict between the dictatorial right and the democratic center-left in Argentina and the conflict between the Mubarak judiciary and the Islamist neo-liberal elected regime is partially obscured by the active involvement of leftists, secular liberals and other ostensibly ‘pro-democracy’ forces on the side of the Right.
Why has ‘the left’ crossed the line, joining forces with the anti-democratic right?
Their opportunism arises primarily from the fact that they did so poorly in the elections and do not see any role for themselves as an electoral opposition. By joining with the right-wing protests, the left and secular liberals mistakenly imagine they can revive their faltering support.
Secondly, the Left senses the economic and social vulnerability of the elected regimes because of the global and local crises, exacerbated by declining export revenues. They hope to attach their political demands to those of the upper and middle class protestors who have been mobilized by the Far Right.
Thirdly, by joining forces with the Right, allied with the US and EU, the leftist protestors hope to gain international (imperial) support, recognition, respectability and legitimacy … temporarily. Of course if the Right succeeds, the Left will be marginalized and discarded as ‘useful idiots’.
The imperial threats to cut off credits, loans and markets to both regimes should logically have led to a united front – a tactical alliance – between the Left and the embattled regime, especially in the case of Argentina. In the case of Egypt, secular liberals and leftists should have joined with the Morsi regime to oust the remnants of the brutal Mubarak regime. They should have supported the elected legislature, even while challenging Morsi’s pacts with the IMF, the US, EU and Israel. Instead, secular liberals appear to agree with the regime in its reactionary socio-economic policies. Worse, by joining with the reactionary judges in totally rejecting the referendum vote on the new constitution, the Left missed an opportunity to mobilize and challenge the regime and educate the public about its specific reactionary clauses.
By opposing the progressive democratic process as well as the regime, the Left has opened the door for the Right to return. By forcing incumbent presidents to ‘make a deal’ or compromise with the elite, the left is further isolating themselves. Both Morsi and Fernandez are vulnerable to leftist pressure and, over time, popular and class-based movements could find themselves in a position to pose a real alternative…. if they clearly and honestly reject the authoritarian and imperialist right. By joining in opportunist alliances to score some small victories today, they foreclose any possible role in the near future of forming progressive democratic leftist governments. By burning government offices and destroying the electoral offices of the Muslim Brotherhood, the self-styled ‘democrats’ are creating the basis for the seizure of state power by the military.
[i] In the parliamentary elections the two major Islamist parties polled over 27 million votes (18 million for the Muslim Brotherhood and Morsi), the liberal-left opposition received approximately 7.5 million votes and the Mubarac-era parties got 2 million. The Islamist parties totaled about two-thirds of the electorate, which translated into the same proportion of elected legislators (358 out of 508). The liberal-left parties received slightly over 26% of the vote and the Mubarak parties got about 8%. The anti-Morsi rioters are a clear and decisive minority and their violent assault on the governing regime is, by any measure, an attempt to impose minority rule, denying and marginalizing the nearly 18 million voters who elected the Morsi Government and Muslim Brotherhood-dominated Congress.
[ii] Cristina Fernandez was first elected in October 2007 with 45.3% of the vote, a 22% lead over her nearest rival. In the most recent elections in October 2011, she was re-elected with 54.1% of the vote, a 37.3% margin over her nearest competitor.
James Petras is a Bartle Professor (Emeritus) of Sociology at Binghamton University, New York. He is the author of 64 books published in 29 languages, and over 560 articles in professional journals, including the American Sociological Review, British Journal of Sociology, Social Research, Journal of Contemporary Asia, and Journal of Peasant Studies. He has published over 2000 articles in nonprofessional journals such as the New York Times, the Guardian, the Nation, Christian Science Monitor, Foreign Policy, New Left Review, Partisan Review, Temps Moderne, Le Monde Diplomatique, and his commentary is widely carried on the internet. His most recent books are: The Arab Revolt and the Imperialist Counterattack (Clarity Press 2012) 2nd edition, The Power of Israel in the United States and Rulers and Ruled in the US Empire: Bankers, Zionists and Militants, (acquired for Japanese, German, Italian, Indonesian, Czech and Arabic editions), Zionism, Militarism and the Decline of US Power, Global Depression and Regional Wars: The United States, Latin America and the Middle East, and War Crimes in Gaza and the Zionist Fifth Column in America. He has a long history of commitment to social justice, working in particular with the Brazilian Landless Workers Movement for 11 years. In 1973-76 he was a member of the Bertrand Russell Tribunal on Repression in Latin America. He writes a monthly column for the Mexican newspaper, Le Jornada, and previously, for the Spanish daily, El Mundo. He received his B.A. from Boston University and Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley.
Speak2Tweet: Google & Twitter Partner Up with US State Dept. to Monopolise Information Flow Out of Syria
Amid Internet and telephone network outages in Syria, US-trained opposition activists are using US-supplied satellite phones to contact Google & Twitter’s ‘Speak2Tweet‘ service. Despite these efforts, the service seems so far to be a resounding failure.
Internet and telecommunications networks have been failing across Syria, leading some including Tony Cartalucci to speculate that NATO may be preparing a psychological warfare operation(1) to bolster the flagging unconventional war against Syria.
Recent developments add weight to this theory. There are now reports(2) that Google and Twitter have re-launched their ‘Speak2Tweet’(3) service to ostensibly aid isolated Syrians affected by the communication network outages.
This is reminiscent of Iran’s CIA-sponsored(4) ‘Green Revolution‘ in 2009 wherein Twitter followed White House instructions(5) to delay its scheduled maintenance, in order to provide continued service to Iran’s Green opposition. If this event hinted at Twitter’s possible status as being a CIA tool in this respect, today’s events should leave little doubt.
‘Speak2Tweet‘ is a communication service which allows the user to dial a conventional telephone number and leave a voice message which is then posted to https://twitter.com/speak2tweet where web users can listen. Speak2Tweet was first launched during Egypt’s January 25th ‘revolution’ back in 2011.
At this important time for Google, Hillary Clinton offered an interesting tidbit yesterday. While giving an especially servile, fawning speech at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy’s Opening Gala Dinner in Washington D.C, she quoted Google’s Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt(6) who recently called Israel, “the most important high tech center in the world, after the United States.” I will leave it to the reader to decide whether this suggests a central Israeli role in Google’s recent ventures.
After interviewing Google’s Christine Chen, Al Arabiya tellingly reported:(3) “Although phone connections are also are suspended, some Syrians were able to call and get through.”
This begs the question: if Internet and telecommunications networks have been failing across Syria, how does the opposition manage to communicate using Speak2Tweet, which requires the user to call an international telephone number (using either a mobile telephone or landline)?
US State Department provided Syrian opposition activists with satellite communications equipment and training
Ever since August 2012 Syrian opposition activists have been travelling to Istanbul, Turkey, to receive satellite communications equipment and training from the U.S. State Department.(7) The UK Telegraph reported in August 2012 that the US State Department’s Office of Syrian Opposition Support (OSOS) was overseeing this scheme, with $25 million reportedly being set aside for the project, and a further $5 million coming from Britain.
According to ForeignPolicy.com(8) the activists are all ‘given a satellite phone and computer‘ at the end of their training, and they are expected to return to Syria.
It is important to note at this point that satellite telephony is not affected by Internet and telecommunications network outages, and indeed satellite telephones allow users to call any conventional telephone number. In fact satellite phones are often used in warzones and in areas affected by natural disasters, as terrestrial cell antennas and networks are often damaged and non-operational in such cases.
In view of this it is highly likely as many have posited, that the country-wide communications outages were engineered by the NATO-GCC axis, with a view to allowing the opposition activists to monopolise the information flow using the satellite equipment and training given to them by the U.S. State Department. It should be noted that Google has been involved in training ‘Arab Spring’ opposition activists(9) through its partnership with the US State Department’s Movement.org.
The voice messages that are posted to the service can be listened to online at: https://twitter.com/speak2tweet. After listening to a sample of the messages, at this point in time the service seems to be a resounding failure insofar as the NATO-GCC axis is concerned. Messages range from merely “Allahu Akbar“, to garbled nonsense, and they do nothing to bolster the ongoing propaganda campaign against the Syrian regime. Furthermore, the Speak2Tweet service has most definitely not ‘made waves’ online, with many web users not even being aware of its existence.
Though many of the Speak2Tweet audio messages seem to be coming from people outside Syria, it is eminently clear that the US State Department intended their activist-proxies whom they had trained and supplied with satellite telephones in Istanbul, to be the only people within Syria able to use the service.
As with all aspects of the now struggling NATO-GCC unconventional war against sovereign Syria, this too seems to have been an embarrassing failure and a waste of time and money.
(1) ‘URGENT: NATO Preparing Psy-Op in Syria’ by Tony Cartalucci.
(2) ‘Google reactivates Speak2Tweet for Syrian Internet cutoff’ – CNET.com, November 30, 2012.
(3) ‘Google and Twitter re-launch ‘Speak2Tweet’ to aid isolated Syrians’ – Al Arabiya, Saturday, 01 December 2012.
(4) ‘Color revolution fails in Iran’ by Thierry Meyssan
(5) ‘US confirms it asked Twitter to stay open to help Iran protesters’ – The Guardian, Wednesday 17 June 2009.
(6) ‘Remarks at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy 2012 Saban Forum Opening Gala Dinner’ – U.S. State Department
(7) ‘Britain and US plan a Syrian revolution from an innocuous office block in Istanbul’ – The Telegraph, 26 Aug 2012.
(8) ‘Holding Civil Society Workshops While Syria Burns’ – ForeignPolicy.com, OCTOBER 10, 2012.
(9) ‘Google’s Revolution Factory’ by Tony Cartalucci.
Presidential spokesman Yasser Ali on Sunday denied media reports that Egypt had agreed to Arab military intervention in violence-wracked Syria.
Earlier on Sunday, Seif Abdel-Fattah, an aide to Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, reportedly told the Turkish Anadoul news agency that Egypt was considering a Qatari proposal for Arab military intervention in Syria aimed at ending the 18-month-long conflict there.
Abdel-Fattah was also quoted as saying that Egyptian and Qatari officials were expected to discuss the proposal “soon,” adding that non-Arab Turkey might also be involved in the initiative.
According to Anadoul, the presidential aide went on to say that Morsi, during his current visit to Turkey, was attempting to drum up support for the Qatari scheme with his Turkish interlocutors.
Yet Ali insisted that Arab intervention in Syria remained “out of the question.” He added that Egypt’s rejection of military involvement in Syria remained unchanged, stressing that statements made by anyone other than the president or his official spokesman did not reflect Egypt’s official policy.
On Sunday, Morsi visited Turkey for the first time in his capacity as Egypt’s president, where he delivered an address at the annual meeting of Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party.
Egypt may take part in an Arab military intervention in Syria, provided this does not open the door to Western intervention, a political adviser to Egyptian President Mohammed Mursi told Turkey’s Anadolu news agency Saturday.
“We are in principle ready for an Arab intervention in Syria after the limits, goals and features of that intervention are made clear,” said Saif Abdel Fattah.
In a speech before the UN General Assembly Tuesday, Qatari Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani called on Arab states to intervene militarily in Syria, citing an Arab-league backed intervention during Lebanon’s civil war as an “effective and useful” precedent.
Analysts have since warned that such a move could trigger a counter-intervention from Iran, sparking an even wider regional conflict.
Abdel Fattah went on to say that Egypt may pressure Turkey to put the Qatari proposal into effect. He added that Mursi would be discussing the issue with Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan during his visit to Turkey Sunday.
Turkey is an ardent supporter of military intervention in Syria, and has pushed the UN Security Council to impose a no-fly zone over the country. The proposals have been repeatedly shot down by China and Russia.
- Collaboration Loans (Al Akhbar)
A while ago, caricatures began to appear on the internet showing the Egyptian president, Mohammed Mursi, prostrating before the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The artists were inspired by his request for a $4.8 billion loan to revive the Egyptian economy, which has been in recession since the beginning of the revolution. More recently, the media has been discussing “news” of an offer by the European Union of a $1.29 billion loan, if Egypt secures the IMF loan.
These loans are usually conditional and are intrinsically tied to a series of economic policies, such as lifting state subsidies on some basic commodities and liberating the markets. In the past, implementing these policies has led to the outbreak of popular protests in Egypt as well as in other poor countries. This is why some activists in the field of social justice call the IMF the poverty, deprivation and debt makers, keeping Third World countries under the hegemony of rich countries.
The loans also come with political conditions to do with the government’s position on “Israel” and good neighborliness. Observers in the field of development are wondering whether Egypt under the Muslim Brotherhood will take the same economic path as Hosni Mubarak’s regime despite their talk of social justice and combating poverty in the latest elections.
Resorting to conditional loans may be dictated by the reality of the Egyptian economy in a world which is suffering from consecutive financial crises. It may even be marketed as political realism. But some are wondering about the limits of this realism, particularly when the Egyptian prime minister, Hisham Qandil, announced that Egypt will not cease economic and industrial cooperation with “Israel,” in reference to the qualifying industrial zones that make Israeli-Egyptian products in every corner of Egypt.
Official Palestinian sources have confirmed that Egypt has formally rejected proposals for the establishment of a free trade zone on its border with the Gaza Strip as a means of solving Gaza’s economic problems. The sources state that during Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh’s visit to Cairo last week, he was informed by the Egyptian authorities that their decision was based on the fact that such a move would isolate the Gaza Strip from the rest of the Palestinian territories as an independent entity.
The sources also pointed to Egyptian fears that a Gaza Strip made economically independent through the establishment of a free trade zone with Egypt would be exploited by Israel. It would be forcibly annexed to Egypt as a means of solving the demographic problem in the sector, at Egypt’s expense. Gaza would then be used to accommodate Palestinians returning from abroad, such as Palestinians fleeing the Syrian conflict and those returning from Lebanon.
The New York Times’ September 26 coverage of Barack Obama’s UN address on Arab democracy, free speech and violence included a good sampling of the distortions, double standards and bigotry often present in U.S. corporate reporting on these issues.
Helene Cooper’s news report (9/26/12) explained that Obama’s speech was a “strong defense of America’s belief in freedom of speech,” challenging “fledgling Arab and North African democracies to ensure that right even in the face of violence.”
According to Cooper, Obama also “asserted that the flare-up of violence over a video that ridicules the Prophet Muhammad would not set off a retreat from his support of the Arab democracy movement,” adding that Americans “have fought and died around the globe to protect the right of all people to express their view.”
A Times editorial the same day applauded Obama, explaining that “anti-American violence in the Muslim world demanded a firm pushback from President Obama, who finally delivered it on Tuesday in the last United Nations General Assembly speech of his term.” The editors were also pleased that Obama “gave a full-throated defense of the First Amendment right that, in this country, protects even hateful writings, films and speech.” The editors quoted Obama: “We do so because in a diverse society, efforts to restrict speech can quickly become a tool to silence critics and oppress minorities.”
And they lauded the president again, this time with a bigoted putdown of Muslims: “Mr. Obama was right to deliver that message, however foreign it is in much of the Muslim world.” (According to Gallup Center for Muslim Studies director Dalia Mogahed– NPR, 9/21/12–Middle Easterners support constitutional free speech rights “in percentages above 90 percent.”)
Let’s begin with “anti-American violence in the Muslim world.” Does it even approach the level of violence visited on Muslim countries by the U.S.? No. Not even close. It would have been good for the Times to mention this.
It would also have been helpful if Cooper and the editors had explained that the U.S. actually has a horrendous record when it comes to supporting free-speech and democracy in the Muslim world.
The U.S. currently supports and arms autocratic and free-speech averse regimes in Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Bahrain, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. Until recently, Tunisia and Egypt were U.S.-backed dictatorships. One might argue that the U.S. no longer overtly thwarts free speech and democracy in Tunisia, but that’s a harder case to make for Egypt, whose military the U.S. has continued to fund through decades of torture, detention and disappearances.
Not even military crackdowns after the 2011 Tahrir Square uprisings or the dissolving of Egypt’s democratically elected parliament by its military allied supreme court in June interrupted of the flow of money from Washington to the Egyptian generals. Indeed, following the Egyptian spring uprisings, Washington pushed Egypt’s former “vice president” Omar Suleiman, otherwise known as “the CIA’s man in Cairo” and Egypt’s “torturer-in-chief,” to head the Egypt’s supposed transition to democracy (Guardian, 2/5/11).
The Times might also have mentioned that the administration doesn’t have a pristine record on free speech at home either, where it has conducted a record number of prosecutions against government whistleblowers.
The Tel Aviv regime says it will not accept any changes to the 1979 Egypt-Israel Peace Treaty, as the ties between the two sides continue to sour.
“There is not the slightest possibility that Israel will accept the modification of the peace treaty with Egypt,” Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said on Sunday.
The 1979 peace treaty was signed following the Camp David Accords, agreed upon by then Egyptian President Anwar al-Sadat and then Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin on September 17, 1978, at Camp David in Washington DC.
“We will not accept any modification of the Camp David Accords,” Lieberman further said.
Lieberman’s comments come amid speculations that Egypt’s President Mohamed Morsi will seek alterations to the agreements.
Tensions have been simmering between Cairo and the Tel Aviv regime over the security of the Sinai Peninsula and the heavy deployment of Egyptian forces to the region.
Egypt boosted its military presence in the Sinai after militants killed 16 Egyptian border guards on August 5.
However, the Camp David treaty limits the number of Egyptian troops that can be present in the territory.
Lieberman also stated that Egypt should fulfill its obligations in the peninsula.
Tel Aviv has warned Cairo to pull out the military reinforcements from the region.
The Supreme Administrative Court (SAC) ruled Saturday to uphold the verdict of the High Constitutional Court (HCC) deeming the People’s Assembly, formed after national polls in November 2011 unconstitutional. The assembly was dissolved on the basis of that verdict.
Although the SAC adjourned a similar case Saturday appealing the dissolution of the People Assembly, parliament’s lower house, to 15 October, only hours later it ruled in a different case in favour of the HCC verdict.
The dissolution of the People’s Assembly was a matter of great controversy in past months since HCC decision 14 June. The Muslim Brotherhood, forming the largest bloc of the former People’s Assembly, vociferously opposed the verdict together with other Islamists, with many of their lawyers working to saving the assembly through legal appeals.
Upon his inauguration, President Mohamed Morsi, who hails from the Brotherhood’s ranks, declared the People’s Assembly reinstated. However, after his decision was deemed legally flawed, parliament did not resume its functions, waiting for the Administrative Court’s final verdict on filed appeals.
Several Brotherhood members, including acting chairman of the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) and former MP Essam El-Erian as well as secretary general of the FJP and former Parliament Speaker Mohamed Saad El-Katatni were amongst the most prominent figures confirming there was a legal possibility that the assembly would be reinstated.
Their statements were repeatedly criticised by legal experts who argued that the reinstatement of the assembly was unlikely considering that the HCC had already ruled on its unconstitutionality.
Meanwhile, the newly appointed justice minister, Ahmed Mekki, earlier criticised the HCC for issuing its verdict dissolving the elected parliament, arguing that in light of the political situation at the time it should have postponed cases related to parliament along with other politically charged cases.
The general assembly of the HCC in response condemned Mekki’s statements implying their verdict was “politically motivated.” In its statement, the HCC described his criticism as “unacceptable interference” in the court’s work, insisting that all the court’s verdicts were based on constitutional legitimacy, refuting claims they were politically biased.
The SAC in issuing its verdict Saturday also confirmed that the HCC was the body with the final say on the matter. The SAC stated that only the HCC has the authority to decide whether the People’s Assembly should be dissolved or not on the basis of the constitutionality of the elections law that governed prior polling.
Earlier on Saturday Muslim Brotherhood lawyer Abdel-Moneim Abdel-Maqsoud expressed his lack of hope that the dissolved People’s Assembly could be reinstated after the SAC adjourned the parallel case to mid-October.
The latest constitutional addendum dictates that new parliamentary elections should follow the approval of a new constitution by two months. Around 70 per cent of the constitution is reported to be in final draft form, with progress being made on the remainder. Some expect to see a full draft sometime in October.
Leading Brotherhood members also made earlier statements indicating that in the case that the People’s Assembly was not reinstated and new elections take place, the FJP — the political arm of the Brotherhood — will run for 100 per cent of available parliamentary seats.
Other similar controversial cases still awaiting the court’s final verdict include the case against the constitutionality of the Shura Council (parliament’s upper house) and a similar case against the Constituent Assembly, tasked with drafting Egypt’s new constitution, which was chosen by the dissolved People’s Assembly.
- Former MP charges Egypt’s Morsi with ‘sacrificing’ People’s Assembly (azzasedky.typepad.com)
Zionist and right wing Christian evangelists exploit US freedom of speech by fuelling sedition and hate between two great religions.
On the other hand, right wing religious elements are manipulating Muslims’ righteous indignation by turning lawful protests into demented violence.
In the US, it is argued that inflammatory speech is protected in the first amendment.
Yet I know of eight people who were unjustly dragged through Los Angeles federal courts for 15 years, accused of distributing less than 50 copies of a news magazine, which highlights the hypocrisy.
It seems the latest Islamophobic film Innocence of Muslims is part of a trend designed to deceptively turn the memories of 9/11 into a lasting conflict between Islam and the West, just one facet in a calculated Zionist crusade to discredit anyone challenging Israel.
I wouldn’t be surprised if it emerged producer Nakoula Basseley Nakoula was only a front for a pro-Israeli US group.
Nakoula, a bankrupt felon who spent 21 months in jail and was fined more than half a million dollars, lacked financial resources to make the movie. His earlier assertions that he collected millions from Jewish donors provide possible clues about the real culprits.
The unsubstantiated pro-Israeli media spin, which suggested his wife’s family in Egypt financed the film, is most likely a diversionary smokescreen to inflame sectarian rift in Egypt.
Israeli pundits have been trying to divide Egypt for 30 years. In 1982, the journal for the World Zionist Organization Kivunim published a treatise declaring that: “Breaking Egypt down territorially into distinct geographical regions is the political aim of Israel.”
In addition, the timing of the film’s release was undoubtedly aimed to coincide with the US presidential election.
It couldn’t be just a coincidence that four years ago Clarion Fund – a shadowy American, pro-Israel, non-profit, tax-exempt organization – produced a similar anti-Muslim movie called Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West.
As with this latest movie’s timing, seven weeks before the 2008 presidential election, the fund, along with the Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET), spent more than $17 million to distribute 28m DVDs in a major mail campaign and inserting copies in more than 100 newspapers and magazines in swing voter states.
The fund was founded by two Israeli-Canadian brothers, movie producer Raphael Shore and Rabbi Ephraim Shore of the Aish Hatorah, another tax-exempt, pro-Israel organization.
EMET’s advisory board includes leading Islamophobic figures such as Daniel Pipes, Frank Gaffney and former Israeli ambassador Yoram Ettinger.
Sadly, while Christian evangelists were coalescing with Zionists to mock the Prophet of Islam, Jewish settlers were vilifying Christ in his native land.
Earlier this month, Jewish settlers, empowered financially by the same tax-exempt US organizations, attempted to set fire to a Christian church in Jerusalem after writing on the walls “Jesus is a monkey”.
It is critical to recognize that this latest repulsive movie is part of a growing Islamophobic industry, promoted and financed by one-issue, tax-exempt Zionist organizations.
The West must deal firmly with this irrational yet measured phenomenon intended to incite and cause harm.
In the east, Muslims must be circumspect when rejecting hate-inspired provocations. Violence only plays into the hands of those attempting to divide followers of religions who share the same reverence for Jesus and God.
- Jamal Kanj (www.jamalkanj.com) writes frequently on Arab issues and is the author of Children of Catastrophe, Journey from a Palestinian Refugee Camp to America.
Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi’s visit to Italy has borne fruit, with Rome agreeing to invest a total of 800 million euros ($1.04 billion) in Egypt, the state-owned Al-Ahram newspaper reported on Saturday.
The report gave few details of how the sum will be invested.
Morsi met with his Italian counterpart Giorgio Napolitano on Friday and made a joint declaration to boost bilateral relations and promote economic cooperation and trade between the two countries.
The Egyptian president also met on Thursday with leading Italian businessmen including Giorgio Squinzi, the president of business association Confindustria, as well as chief executives from ENI, ENEL and FS railways, according to local news agency ANSA.
In May, the Egyptian government signed an agreement with Italy to swap a third tranche of the North African country’s debts worth $100 million for Italian investments in Egypt.
Morsi has been on the hunt for foreign investment over the last few weeks.
During a presidential visit to China in late August, Asia’s largest economy agreed to give Egypt 450 million yuan (LE430 million) to finance infrastructure, electricity and environment projects, as well as donating 300 police cars.
The chairman of Egypt’s National Bank, Tareq Amer, and his Chinese counterpart also signed a deal for a $200 million concessional loan to support small and medium size projects in Egypt.
- Qatar to invest $18bn in Egypt over next 5 years (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Egyptian president heads to China for investment talks (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Morsi: ‘New’ Egypt is open for business (morningstaronline.co.uk)
Late Friday afternoon the Muslim Brotherhood organized a massive demonstration in front of the Mostafa Mahmoud Mosque that brought together members of the Salafi and Jama’a al-Islamiya groups, as well as three delegations from the Diocese of Giza, which includes the Virgin Mary Church in Imbaba, the Abu Seven Church in Mohandiseen and the Saint Anthony Church in Ard al-Lewa.
Demonstrators chanted “Muslims and Christians are one hand,” and said that the current conflict over the recently released anti-Islam film, “Innocence of Muslims,” will only serve to strengthen the relationship between Muslims and Christians in Egypt.
The local media has widely blamed expatriate Copts residing in the United States for involvement in production of the film. Archbishop Silwanus Fekry of Virgin Mary Church told Al-Masry Al-Youm that if that is true, they had acted against true Christianity.
Fekry stressed that Coptic Christians enjoy full rights in their country, noting that Bishop Thodisius of Giza has sent a delegation of priests to demonstrate against insults to the Prophet Mohamed.
Meanwhile, dozens of worshippers staged a protest on the stairs of Fatah Mosque in Ramses Square to denounce the film. The protesters used three loudspeakers on a vehicle. Some of them headed to Tahrir Square to join protesters there.
Earlier in the afternoon, hundreds of protesters marched from Al-Azhar Mosque to Tahrir Square after Friday prayers in a continuation of the ongoing protests against the film.
Mohamed Ahmed, a protester, told Al-Masry Al-Youm that “The march is heading to Tahrir Square. Islam’s enemies should know that Muslims’ anger is strong, and [we must] stop these repeated violations against what we hold sacred.”
Elsewhere in Cairo dozens of protesters staged a march outside Al-Istiqama Mosque in Giza after Friday prayers.
Also after this morning’s prayers, a march of hundreds from Omar Makram Mosque headed by Sheikh Mazhar Shahien failed to stop the ongoing clashes between demonstrators and the security forces near the US Embassy in nearby Garden City.
The clashes, which have been ongoing since Wednesday, continued near the embassy this afternoon when some protesters attempted to climb the concrete barrier erected this morning by security forces and pelted rocks at them. The police responded by throwing tear gas and also used water cannons to disperse the demonstrators.
In Tahrir Square, the demonstrators expelled the CBC privately-owned channel’s crew and a foreign reporter after assaulting them, claiming that the reporters were biased. Some protesters attempted to intervene on the behalf of the journalists.
Protesters had begun gathering in Tahrir early this morning following a night of battling with CSF forces in the US embassy area.
The demonstrators chanted slogans “God is greatest” and “There is no God but God, and Mohamed is his Prophet” while holding banners condemning the film.
The number of demonstrators in front of the embassy declined on Thursday night, but have now increased again on Friday afternoon.
Al-Masry Al-Youm reported Friday morning that a number of protesters blocked had Qasr al-Nil bridge, which leads to Tahrir Square, in order to keep the square free of traffic and use it as a refuge from potential tear gas bombs.
The Egyptian Ministry of Health announced early Friday morning that 224 have been injured in the ongoing clashes so far. Most of the cases have been of minor wounds and bruises, as well as fainting.
The Interior Ministry said that the CSF arrested 37 protesters on Thursday on charges of assaulting the police and damaging public and private property. The defendants were immediately referred to the public prosecutor for interrogation, the ministry added.
Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm
- Protestors at US embassy in Cairo chant: ‘Leave Egypt’ (hangthebankers.com)