Two journalists were arrested in a dawn raid of their homes in Gharbiya on Saturday, the Journalists Syndicate said in a statement that lambasted security authorities for aggressively targeting media workers and violating their basic rights.
The prosecutor general approved the release of one of the journalists, Sobhy Shoaib, on Sunday after the syndicate released its statement, the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) said.
But Abdel Rahman Mohamed — deputy editor-in-chief of the privately owned Al-Mesryoon news site and a reporter for the National Company for Distribution — is reportedly still in custody pending investigations into charges that he belongs to a banned organization.
Journalists Syndicate President Yehia Qallash issued a separate statement exhorting the prosecutor general and interior minister to immediately order Mohamed’s release, arguing the charges against him were “baseless and pre-fabricated.”
Al-Mesryoon chief editor Mahmoud Sultan published an op-ed adamantly dismissing claims that Mohamed belonged to any banned or radicalized group. He confirmed that Mohamed was a specialist in the field of political Islam, but did not identify in any way with that school of thought.
Mohamed’s reporting shed light on rampant corruption in Egyptian businesses, Sultan said, but now he’s in jail while many of these corrupt businessmen have gone free.
A 2013 report from the Committee to Protect Journalists found that Egypt was the third most dangerous country for reporters — coming in only after Syria and Iraq — and conditions have only continued to worsen, Sultan wrote.
The Journalists Syndicate denounced tactics like dawn raids, punitive detentions and forced disappearances that security forces wield against reporters. The statement urged media professionals to adopt “a serious and unified stance against the expanding practice of arresting journalists and referring them to criminal hearings on the basis of faulty charges and questionable investigations.”
The statement further condemned the arrests of other journalists, including Mada Masr contributor Hossam Baghat, due to their writing.
The Interior Ministry is directly “responsible for the lives and well-being” of the 33 journalists currently detained or imprisoned, who must all be immediately released, the statement said.
The syndicate called for new legislation to safeguard and uphold basic rights for journalists while deregulating the sector and giving reporters more freedom to do their jobs.
An explosion of the homemade bomb of up to 1kg of TNT equivalent was the cause of the A321 crash in Sinai, Russian Security Service (FSB) head Alexander Bortnikov said.
“According to our specialists’ assessment, a homemade explosive device with an equivalent of 1 kilogram of TNT on board the aircraft exploded, which lead to the plane ‘breaking up’ in midair, which would explain the scattering of the plane’s fuselage across a wide area,” Bortnikov said during a meeting.
Russian Special Forces have determined the A321 passenger jet that crashed over Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula on October 31 killing all 224 on board was a terrorist act.
“We can definitely say this was a terrorist act,” Russian Federal Security Service head Alexander Bortnikov said during a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
An investigation into A321 crash shows traces of an explosive material in personal items and parts of the plane, Bortnikov added.
“Investigations have been completed on the personal belongings, baggage, and parts of the plane that crashed in Egypt on October 31. As a result of expertise conducted on all of the items, of which I mentioned, traces of foreign explosive material were exposed,” Bortnikov told the Russian president during a meeting on the official conclusion that the aircraft was exploded in mid-air by a homemade explosive device.
He also said that Russia offers $50mln for the information on those who might have been involved in the terrorist attack on the A321.
A Russian Airbus A321 with 224 people on board crashed on October 31 while en route from Egypt’s resort city of Sharm el-Sheikh to St. Petersburg, leaving no survivors. Various possible causes of the tragedy have been set out by aviation experts, ranging from a terrorist act to a technical glitch.
Reprieve | November 14, 2015
The Egyptian government has sentenced nearly 600 people to death in the last year, with the vast majority of death sentences handed down in relation to political protest, human rights organization Reprieve has found.
Data collected by Reprieve has found that since January 2014, at least 588 people have been sentenced to death in Egypt. In the cases that Reprieve was able to identify, some 72% of sentences were handed down for attending pro-democracy protests.
Reprieve’s report, released today, also found that the Egyptian authorities are overseeing a marked rise in actual executions. Between 2011 and 2013, only one execution was carried out in Egypt; but since January 2014, some months after President Sisi seized power, at least 27 people have been executed. The report also finds that at least 15 mass trials have taken place since March 2014.
Since taking power, President Sisi has overseen a regime of mass trials and sweeping death sentences for protestors – sometimes involving hundreds of prisoners at a time. Among those on trial and facing a potential death sentence is Irish teenager Ibrahim Halawa, who is being assisted by Reprieve. Yesterday, it was revealed that Ibrahim has witnessed torture methods including ‘crucifixion’ and electrocution being carried out in Wadi Natrun prison, where he is being held.
Mr Halawa’s family were last week joined by several British MPs in asking the UK to intervene on the case, during President Sisi’s visit to London for talks with the Prime Minister. The Foreign Office has told Reprieve that the UK is ‘monitoring’ Ibrahim’s case, and has said that it has been raised with the Egyptian authorities.
However, there are concerns over the UK government’s apparent support for the Egyptian security forces. Reprieve has found that the British government invited security and policing firm G4S to be part of the UK delegation at a recent major Egyptian trade conference hosted by President Sisi.
Commenting, Maya Foa, director of the death penalty team at Reprieve, which is assisting Ibrahim Halawa, said: “President Sisi has overseen an unprecedented surge in death sentences as part of a wave of repression that should attract condemnation from Egypt’s allies. Since 2013, many thousands of people – including journalists, activists and juveniles like Ibrahim Halawa – have been locked up for attending protests. Police torture is reported all too often, and Kafkaesque ‘mass trials’ have seen hundreds of death sentences handed down at a time. More than ever, the UK must use its increasingly close relationship with Egypt to urge an end to these terrible abuses – including the release of juveniles like Ibrahim.”
The U.S. Spends $5.9 Billion on Foreign Military Financing. Guess Which 2 countries received 75% of the Total….
According to the U.S. State Government 2013-2015 Foreign Assistance report, an estimated $5.9 billion was spent on foreign military funding alone in fiscal year 2014. This is equivalent to 17% of the estimated $35 billion spent on total global aid discussed in our previous article. U.S. foreign military aid to countries ranged from $200,000 to $3.1 billion. Of the top 10 recipients, two countries received 75% of the $5.9 billion. Take a look on the map below to see who is getting the most foreign military financing from the U.S.
Below is a ranking of the the top 10 recipients and their respective world regions.
Israel: $3.1B (Middle East)
Egypt: $1.3B (Africa)
Iraq: $300M (Middle East)
Jordan: $300M (Middle East)
Pakistan: $280M (Asia)
Lebanon: $75M (Middle East)
Philippines: $50M (Asia)
Colombia: $29M (Latin America)
Tunisia: $20M (Africa)
Research conducted by the World Bank shows that the on average, countries spend approximately 2.2% of GDP on the military. Israel, Iraq, Jordan and Pakistan allocated above average spending towards their military in 2014. The data shows that each country spent approximately 5.2%, 4.3%, 3.5%, and 3.4% of GDP, respectively, on military expenditures. These countries are also part of the top 5 recipients of U.S. foreign military financing, totaling $4.0 billion. … Full article
CAIRO -The former Palestinian ambassador Adli Sadeq denied Monday PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas’s statements in which he said that Egypt’s ousted president Mohammed Morsi had offered some 1,000 square kilometers of Sinai to expand the Gaza Strip.
In a Facebook statement, the former Palestinian ambassador to India said that Abbas had made a political mistake when he said that Morsi offered him a land from Sinai.
Cairo knows very well each word said by Morsi, and it is not in need for Abbas’s statements, Adli wrote in his Facebook page.
“Why didn’t he [Abbas] reveal such a story during Morsi’s mandate and why didn’t he play the role of the Egyptian soil’s protector at that time?”
Abbas has made such statements in this particular time because he knows that Morsi is imprisoned and cannot deny or confirm his allegations, Adli added.
On Sunday evening, Abbas claimed in a press conference in Cairo that Israel and Hamas had been conducting direct negotiations to expand the Gaza Strip so that it would include some 1,000 square kilometers of Sinai.
The idea of slicing off land from Sinai to expand the Gaza Strip was first proposed by ousted Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, according to Abbas’s allegations.
Commenting on the issue, former Egyptian Minister of Investment Mohamed Hamed accused Abbas of lying over the Sinai story.
Abbas cannot and will never provide any evidence to his fabricated stories, the minister underlined.
Arab nations, who initially took part in the US-led airstrikes against ISIL, have grown wary of Washington’s scheming in the Middle East and have switched their efforts to tackle what they perceive as real threats, military expert Vladimir Prohvatilov told Radio Sputnik.
“Many know perfectly well that the US is not really interested in defeating ISIL. Washington’s true aim is to create a zone of controlled chaos in the Middle East to deal with geopolitical and geo-economic issues. America’s task is to spark a bloody conflict and drag others into it,” the analyst asserted.
Washington’s plans for the Middle East, according to Prohvatilov, prompted Canada’s newly elected prime minister to pull out of the anti-ISIL bombing campaign. Delivering on this promise would mean that Justin Trudeau does not view the operation led by the US as beneficial for Canada.
This stance is not exclusive to Ottawa, the expert maintains. Many Arab countries which nominally take part in the US-led efforts share this position.
“People [in Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Qatar] are used to high living standards and do not want to take part in a war. The Saudi Army is essentially manned by Pakistani mercenaries. Saudi nationals have no wish to fight,” he asserted.
Washington’s Arab allies have switched their attention to Yemen and see tackling the Houthis as a priority.
“Riyadh views the Houthis as a threat since they are capable of calling to arms as many as 200,000 seasoned fighters. The same goes for Jordan and Qatar. They perceive Yemen as a real threat while ISIL is a subtle game engineered by the US,” Prohvatilov noted.
Washington’s stance towards Moscow’s counterterrorism efforts in Syria is also a part of this game.
“The Americans want the Russians either to stop the campaign (so that Washington could accuse Moscow of a military defeat or cowardice) or to expand it so that Russia would bear all the cost” of a major military engagement, he added.
A sketch by the late lamented US comedian Bill Hicks involved a US general at a press conference. “‘Iraq has incredible weapons. Incredible,’ the general said. ‘How do you know that?’ he was asked. “Oh, well, uh – we looked at the receipt.’”
In the aftermath of the Russian airplane crash in Egypt last week, Britain in particular has been quick to claim that the crash was the result of a “terrorist bomb,” presumably planted by Islamic State (previously ISIS/ISIL). So what is it that makes Cameron so sure that the terrorist group created by his Syria policy has the necessary training, equipment and wherewithal to carry out that attack? Did he look at the receipt?
What is clear is that if the plane was brought down by a bomb, and that bomb was planted by ISIS, it marks a major development for the group.
According to Raffaello Pantucci, of the Royal United Services Institute, an attack of this kind by ISIS would “herald an unseen level of sophistication in their bomb-making, as well as the ability to smuggle a device on board.”
But as well as a new technical feat, such an attack would represent an alarming change in tactics. The Times argued: “If the plane crash did turn out to be the work of an Islamic State affiliate in Sinai, it would mark a significant departure for the jihadist group, which had yet to launch a large-scale attack against civilians.”
So, if the plane was indeed brought down by an ISIS-in-Sinai bomb, either the group have suddenly been blessed with some amazing new technology, or they have suddenly decided to change tactics to mass killings of civilians. If the latter, isn’t it a little odd that, after more than a year of Western airstrikes apparently targeting them, ISIS have failed to launch such an attack against Western civilians – yet are able to respond within weeks to a campaign of Russian airstrikes which, according to the West, are not even aimed at them?
Either way, the crash couldn’t have been timed more perfectly from the point of view of Western geopolitics. After four years of setbacks, the West’s Syrian “regime change” (that euphemism for wholesale state destruction) operation now faces the prospect of imminent total defeat courtesy of Russia’s intervention. And options for how to salvage that operation are very limited indeed.
Full scale occupation is a non-starter; following Iraq and Afghanistan, both the US and British armies are now officially incapable of mounting such ventures. The Libya option – supporting death squads on the ground with NATO air cover – has always come up against Russian opposition, but has now been effectively rendered impossible. And relying on anti-government death squads alone is simply very unlikely to succeed, however many TOWs and manpads are feverishly thrown into the fire; after all, there are only so many terrorists and mercenaries who can be shipped in, and, as Mike Whitney put it, the world may have already reached “peak terrorist.”
Forcing Russia out – and turning US and British airpower openly and decisively against the Syrian state – has thus become a key objective for Western planners. But how to do it? What would turn Russians against the intervention? The Times wrote: “So far the war in Syria has been quite popular…. [but] if it turns out that the war prompts terrorists to wreak vengeance on ordinary Russians by secreting explosives on planes, that gung-ho attitude could change.” Or at least, that is presumably what the Times hopes.
And downing the plane on Egyptian soil just before Sisi’s first state visit to Britain?
Egypt is at a historical crossroads. Having moved from the socialist camp into the West’s “orbit” during the Sadat era in the 1970s, Egypt’s leadership has become ever less willing to be dictated to by Washington and London: a process that began in the latter part of Mubarak’s rule, and has continued under Sisi. Along with Russia, Egypt has played a leading “spoiler role,” as Sukant Chandan puts it, in the West’s regime change operation in Syria – and has not been forgiven for it.
In addition, Mubarak’s government had been dragging its feet on the privatization and “structural adjustment” demanded by the IMF: and tourism was and is a major source of income helping to reduce the country’s dependence on the international banksters. But since last Saturday, all that is now in the balance; as the Financial Times commented, suspicions that the crash was caused by a bomb “are likely to prove disastrous to the country’s struggling tourism industry.”
Britain’s foreign secretary, Philip Hammond agreed. “Of course, this will have a huge negative impact on Egypt,” he announced matter-of-factly, following Britain’s decision to stop British flights to Egypt – seemingly without an ounce of regret. The likely massive loss of tourist income will force the Egyptians to go back to the IMF, who will, of course, demand their pound of flesh in the form of mass privatizations and “austerity.”
But it is not only Egypt’s economic dependency on the West that will be deepened by the crash – Britain, in particular, appears to be using the crash as leverage to re-insinuate itself into Egypt’s military and security apparatus. Firstly, British officials have been taking every opportunity to humiliate Egypt, trying to convince the world that Egypt is perilously unstable, and that only by outsourcing security to the West can it be safe again. When Sisi arrived in the country this week, noted the Times, “Britain openly contradicted the Egyptian leader and suggested that he was not in full control of the Sinai peninsula,” whilst an Egyptian official “commented that the dispatch of six officials to check the security arrangements at Sharm el-Sheikh airport was ‘like treating us as children.’”
Finally, of course, the British government has not missed the opportunity to use the tragedy to push for deeper British involvement in Syria. Michael Fallon, Britain’s Defence Secretary, has been spending the last two days explaining how the case for bombing Syria would be strengthened if it were proven the plane was brought down by ISIS. Quite how more deeply insinuating one of the death squads’ leading state backers into Syria would somehow reduce the power of the death squads is, of course, not explained; such is the nature of imperialism.
In a world, then, where Western power is in steep decline, terrorism is fast becoming one of the last few viable options for extending its hegemony and undermining the rising power of the global South. If this attack does turn out to have been conducted by ISIS, how kind it will have been of them to take it upon themselves to act as the vanguard of Western imperial interests. And how obliging of the hundreds of Western agents in the organization not to do anything to stop them.
Dan Glazebrook is a freelance political writer who has written for RT, Counterpunch, Z magazine, the Morning Star, the Guardian, the New Statesman, the Independent and Middle East Eye, amongst others. His first book “Divide and Ruin: The West’s Imperial Strategy in an Age of Crisis” was published by Liberation Media in October 2013. It featured a collection of articles written from 2009 onwards examining the links between economic collapse, the rise of the BRICS, war on Libya and Syria and ‘austerity’. He is currently researching a book on US-British use of sectarian death squads against independent states and movements from Northern Ireland and Central America in the 1970s and 80s to the Middle East and Africa today.
Egyptian President Abdel Fatah Al-Sisi’s visit to Britain turned from a long-awaited dream into a nightmare with a series of losses on the media, legal and political levels, an analyst has said.
The political analyst, who preferred not to be named, told Arabi21 that Al-Sisi’s visit turned into a complete failure because the media used the occasion to remind the public of the human rights abuses committed by his regime in Egypt.
In a rare moment, an Egyptian woman who was sentenced to death in Egypt had the opportunity to appear in the British media and describe human rights violations committed by the military in Egypt, the analyst said.
The British press and TV channels published multiple reports which considered the visit “a violation of British society values and standards”.
The unnamed analyst said Al-Sisi mainly lost on a political level as, for the first time, the two biggest opposition parties rejected the visit; Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn described Al-Sisi’s stay as a “threat to national security”.
In addition to this, as many as 55 senior British politicians signed a letter calling for Al-Sisi to be expelled.
On a legal level, the analyst explained, it was revealed during his stay that British police were already investigating claims of war crimes committed by Al-Sisi and symbols of his regime.
British police have a list of 43 names of senior statesmen, ministers and leaders of the army and security who are under investigation for committing human rights violations, the analyst added
Al-Sisi arrived in London following an invitation from British Prime Minister David Cameron; however the two only met for one hour during his three-day trip, and no joint press conference was held following the meeting.
The trip coincided with the British authorities’ decision to suspend all flights to Sharm El-Sheikh and evacuate all British tourists from there following a Russian airplane crash a few days earlier.
The Infamous Video of an Aircraft Exploding in Air at High Altitude and the “Big Chutzpah” Construct
By Doug E. Steil | Aletho News | November 7, 2015
Only a day after the Russian Metrojet airliner Flight 9268 went down, killing 224 people, a short video went onto the Internet on YouTube, purporting to show the explosion of the Airbus 321-200 aircraft in mid-air, at roughly 30 thousand feet elevation. This video was immediately ridiculed because the group claiming responsibility for bringing down the airliner, ISIS, which was said to have presented the video as proof, did not have the sophisticated military capacity, according to intelligence analysts, to shoot down any aircraft at such an altitude. Yet the video did not show a missile approaching the jet, nor did the group claim to have shot it down in such a manner. It simply showed an explosive burst, consistent with a bomb being detonated, and heavy black smoke trailing the aircraft as it subsequently descended.
Even though a civilian style aircraft, with two engines mounted below its wings, can be discerned, and no such video had previously been seen — nor were there reports of any civilian aircraft with such features having exploded in mid-air during daytime — the video was denounced as a fake (computer generated imagery) nonetheless, perhaps because the video quality was poor or not sufficiently specific, which was suspiciously indicative of an attempt to obfuscate any confirmatory information.
A dose of skepticism is certainly legitimate when being presented with such videos, which may be intended to convey false political propaganda. However, since no compelling proof of the imagery not possibly showing what was claimed has yet been presented, the authenticity cannot be completely discounted. Indeed, this question is currently a point of discussion on some technical forums. What appears to be the case is that the shaky nature of both embedded videos — a second version appears at 20 seconds in the 32 second video — both came from two mobile phone camera recordings that were taken of a screen playback of the explosion. It has also been suggested that the imagery was actually shot from another aircraft following the fateful jet from farther below. Though this was likely the case, it would not necessarily invalidate the claimed authenticity of this particular jet being shown.
It should be noted that a professional quality video recording, filmed through a heavy zoom lens mounted upon a camera on a stationary tripod, would provide investigators with sufficient information to calculate a small circle on the ground from where the shots were most probably taken, which would likely not be in the interest of the perpetrators or co-conspirators. If, for the sake of argument, one presumes the authenticity of what was being filmed, then the most interesting and compelling proof of a desire to obfuscate and mislead comes from the obvious image reversal, which is particularly evident during the first second. The sky to the left of the screen is bright whereas, in stark contrast, it is dark on the right side, though exactly the opposite should be the case because the jet was then flying northward at a track of 340° in the morning, shortly after sunrise.
The ground track in the eastern portion of the Sinai peninsula during the final minutes of flight was exactly parallel to and 40 km away from the border between Israel and Egypt. The mid-air explosion occurred west of the highest mountain in the Negev Desert (Har Raman, 1035 meters), not hard to make out on a topographic map of the area. The impulse of the explosion and its aerodynamic effects then changed the heading of the aircraft by more then 15°. When viewing the video through a mirror to correct the image reversal, one sees that the vantage point of the camera is behind, below, and to the right (east) of the aircraft’s flight path. When one accepts the notion that the incident was filmed from another aircraft, pursuing the Airbus in roughly the same direction, then one must logically conclude that the video was taken from within — or just slightly outside of — Israeli airspace, likely by a surveillance drone, operating in the southern region, north of Eilat. One would expect Israeli surveillance drones to operate here on a regular basis because this region, at the northernmost part in the Gulf of Aqaba, is strategically important; the borders of Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Israel, and Egypt nearly converge here.
While the notion of a military drone operating near this particular region on a Saturday morning may not be unusual, what certainly should raise some questions is that the Russian Metrojet aircraft — assuming, as before, that the video is not a fake but authentic — would have been pursued and filmed (surveillance operations would be more interested in what happens on the ground rather than pursuing a civilian airliner emitting its tracking data by beacon and not posing a potential threat). Even more worthy of question or inquiry is that these modified (second-hand) video versions of the on-board explosion and descent of the aircraft would be loaded onto the Internet the next day, allegedly by the ISIS terrorist group, which has been publicly exposed to be in an alliance with Israel, the United States, and Saudi Arabia in the Syrian battleground.
While the concept of the “Big Lie” is based on the idea that (nearly) everyone will believe a major fabrication that is completely untrue because these heavily conditioned people couldn’t possibly imagine that their government would dare lie to them so blatantly about something so important, viewers of the video may have been subjected to the opposite phenomenon, namely “Big Chutzpah”, the raw truth presented right in your face in such a brazen way that (nearly) everyone will still refuse to believe it because these people cannot possibly imagine that the Israeli government would dare to actually do something like that.
Ashraf al-Qidra, spokesperson of the ministry, said Firas Mohammad Miqdad, 18, from Rafah was shot in the abdomen by Egyptian forces while at sea and died from his injuries.
It is unclear why Egyptian forces opened fire.
In May, Egyptian naval forces opened fire at a Palestinian fishing boat off the coast of the southern Gaza Strip, injuring a fisherman from Rafah.
Egypt upholds an Israeli military blockade on Gaza, keeping borders largely closed and limiting imports, exports, and the freedom of movement of its residents.
The threat from Egyptian forces comes as Palestinian fishermen already face daily risks in order to make a living, including routine harassment from Israeli naval forces, confiscation of boats and materials, detention, and potentially death.
Israeli forces reportedly fired towards Palestinian fishing boats on a daily basis last week, according to documentation by the UN agency for Palestinian refugees.
The United States provided approximately $35 billion in economic aid to over 140 countries* in fiscal year 2014. In the map below the relative size of each country is proportionate to the aid received from the United States and the color of each country indicates GDP per capita.
* For visualization purposes the map above reflects only 77 countries that received approximately $17 billion of the $35 billion in global aid. We chose top 40 by aid received and then manually selected different countries to illustrate geographic diversity.
Arabesque$: Enquête sur le rôle des États-Unis dans les révoltes arabes (Investigation into the US Role in the Arab Uprisings) is an update of Ahmed Bensaada’s 2011 book L’Arabesque Américaine. It concerns the US government role in instigating, funding and coordinating the Arab Spring “revolutions.” Obviously most of this history has been carefully suppressed by the western media.
The new book devotes much more attention to the personalities leading the 2011 uprisings. Some openly admitted to receiving CIA funding. Others had no idea because it was deliberately concealed from them. A few (in Egypt and Syria) were officially charged with espionage. In Egypt, seven sought refuge in the US embassy in Cairo and had to be evacuated by the State Department.
Democracy: America’s Biggest Export
According to Bensaada, the MENA Arab Spring revolutions have four unique features in common:
- None were spontaneous – all required careful and lengthy (5+ years) planning, by the State Department, CIA pass through foundations, George Soros, and the pro-Israel lobby.1
- All focused exclusively on removing reviled despots without replacing the autocratic power structure that kept them in power.
- No Arab Spring protests made any reference whatsoever to powerful anti-US sentiment over Palestine and Iraq.
- All the instigators of Arab Spring uprisings were middle class, well educated youth who mysteriously vanished after 2011.
Nonviolent Regime Change
Bensaada begins by introducing non-violent guru Gene Sharp (see The CIA and Nonviolence), his links with the Pentagon and US intelligence, and his role, as director of the Albert Einstein Institution, in the “color” revolutions.2 in Eastern Europe and the attempted coup against Hugo Chavez in 2002.))
The US goal in the Arab Spring revolutions was to replace unpopular despotic dictators while taking care to maintain the autocratic US-friendly infrastructure that had brought them to power. All initially followed the nonviolent precepts Sharp outlines in his 1994 book From Dictatorship to Democracy. In Libya, Syria and Yemen, the US and their allies were clearly prepared to introduce paid mercenaries when their Sharpian “revolutions” failed to produce regime change.
Follow the Money
Relying mainly on Wikileaks cables and the websites of key CIA pass through foundations (which he reproduces in the appendix), Bensaada methodically lists every State Department conference and workshop the Arab Spring heroes attended, the dollar amounts spent on them by the State Department and key “democracy” promoting foundations3, the specific involvement of Google, Facebook, Twitter and Obama’s 2008 Internet campaign team in training Arab Spring cyperactivists in encryption technologies and social media skills, US embassy visits, and direct encounters with Hillary Clinton, Condoleezza Rice, John McCain, Barack Obama and Serbian trainers from CANVAS (the CIA-backed organization that overthrew Slobodan Milosevic in 2000).
Bensaada focuses most heavily on the Tahrir Square uprising in Egypt. The Washington Post has estimated approximately 10,000 Egyptians took part in NED and USAID training in social media and nonviolent organizing techniques. For me the most astonishing information in this chapter concerned the role of an Egyptian exile (a former Egyptian policeman named Omar Afifi Suleiman) in coordinating the Tahrir Square protests from his office in Washington DC. According to Wikileaks, NED paid Suleiman a yearly stipend of $200,000+ between 2008-2011.
When Nonviolence Fails
Arabesques$ devotes far more attention to Libya, Syria and Yemen than Bensaada’s first book.
In the section on Libya, Bensaada zeroes in on eleven key US assets who engineered the overthrow of Gaddafi. Some participated in the same State Department trainings as the Middle East opposition activists and instigated nonviolent Facebook and Twitter protests to coincide with the 2011 uprisings in Tunisian and Egypt. Others, in exile, underwent guerrilla training sponsored by the CIA, Mossad, Chad and Saudi Arabia. A few months after Gaddafi’s assassination, some of these same militants would lead Islamic militias attempting to overthrow Assad in Syria.
Between 2005 and 2010, the State Department funneled $12 million to opposition groups opposed to Assad. The US also financed Syrian exiles in Britain to start an anti-government cable TV channel they beamed into Syria.
In the section on Syria, Bensaada focuses on a handful of Syrian opposition activists who received free US training in cyberactivism and nonviolent resistance beginning in 2006. One, Ausama Monajed, is featured in the 2011 film How to Start a Revolution about a visit with Gene Sharp in 2006. Monajed and others worked closely with the US embassy, funded by the Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI). This is a State Department program that operates in countries (such as Libya and Syria) where USAID is banned.
In February 2011, these groups posted a call on Twitter and Facebook for a Day of Rage. Nothing happened. When Sharpian techniques failed to produce a sizable nonviolent uprising, as in Libya, they and their allies (Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Qatar and Jordan) were all set up to introduce Islamic mercenaries (many directly from Libya) to declare war on the Assad regime.
- I was astonished to learn that Forum Fikra, a forum for Arab activists working against authoritarian governments, was mainly funded by the Nathan and Esther K Wagner Family Foundation. The latter also funds numerous pro-Israel groups and projects, as well as the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (a pro-Israel group with close ties to AIPAC).
- The color revolutions were CIA-instigated uprisings that replaced democratically elected pro-Russian governments with equally autocratic governments more friendly to US corporate interests:
Serbia (2000) – Bulldozer Revolution
Georgia (2002) – Rose Revolution
Ukraine (2004) – Orange Revolution
Kyrgyzstan (2005) – Tulip Revolution
- Democracy promoting foundations (as used here, “democracy” is synonymous with capitalism, ie favorable to the interests of US investors). Here are seven of the main ones involved in funding and training Arab Spring activists:
• USAID (US Agency for International Development) – State Department agency charged with economic development and humanitarian aid with a long history of financing destabilization activities, especially in Latin America.
• NED (National Endowment for Democracy) – national organization supported by State Department and CIA funding dedicated to the promotion of democratic institutions throughout the world, primary funder of IRI and NDI.
• IRI (International Republican Institute) – democracy promoting organization linked with the Republican Party, currently chaired by Senator John McCain and funded by NED.
• NDI (National Democratic Institute for International Affairs) – democracy promoting organization linked with the Democratic Party, currently chaired by Madeline Albright and funded by NED.
• OSI (Open Society Institute) – founded by George Soros in 1993 to help fund color revolutions in Eastern Europe. Also contributed major funding to Arab Spring revolutions.
• Freedom House – US organization that supports nonviolent citizens initiatives in societies were liberty is denied or threatened, financed by USAID, NED and the Soros Foundation.
• CANVAS (Center for Applied Non Violent Action and Strategies) – center originally founded by the Serbian activists of Otpor who the US funded and trained to over throw Slobodan Milosevic and who were instrumental in training Arab Spring activists. Funded by Freedom House, IRI and George Soros
Dr. Bramhall is a retired American psychiatrist and political refugee in New Zealand. She has published a free, downloadable non-fiction ebook 21st Century Revolution. Her first book The Most Revolutionary Act: Memoir of an American Refugee describes the circumstances that led her to leave the US in 2002. Email her at: firstname.lastname@example.org.