Archive for January, 2011

US Ambassador’s Bid to Get Falk Sacked

January 31, 2011

Stuart Littlewood,, Jan 29, 2011

Mention Richard Falk and you think of an honourable man who cares deeply about injustice, particularly the trampled rights of Palestinians under the evil jackboot. 

Mention Susan Rice, US Ambassador to the United Nations, and what comes to mind?

The BBC reported in December 2008: “During her stint in the Clinton White House, she was described as ‘brilliant’ but also ‘authoritarian’ and ‘brash’. According to the New York Times, she acknowledges ‘a certain impatience at times’.”

She is also said to be “unwilling to consider opinions that differ from her own”.

Ambassador Rice has just demanded that Falk, the UN Human Rights Council’s special rapporteur in the Palestinian territories, step down from his UN position. “In my view, Mr. Falk’s latest commentary [an entry in his blog about the media and 9/11] is so noxious that it should finally be plain to all that he should no longer continue in his position on behalf of the UN.”

Falk’s crime was saying that the US administration’s reluctance to address the awkward gaps and contradictions identified by several scholars in the official explanations of 9/11, only fuels suspicions of a conspiracy. And he suggested that “what may be more distressing than the apparent cover up is the eerie silence of the mainstream media, unwilling to acknowledge the well-evidenced doubts about the official version of the events: an al Qaeda operation with no foreknowledge by government officials”.

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Mubarak Clings to Power, But for How Long?

January 31, 2011

At Least 150 Dead in Egypt as US Plans Evacuations

by Jason Ditz,,  January 30, 2011

Mass censorship, mass arrests, over 150 people dead and several thousand wounded. Egypt is in full-on revolt right now, and tens of thousands of protesters continue to insist on the ouster of dictator Hosni Mubarak.

The Obama Administration, which is still holding on to hopes that Mubarak can crush the protests and retain power, is now starting to come to grips with the reality that it might not happen, and preparing the mass evacuation of US citizens from the nation in chartered planes. Officials say it will likely take several days to do so.

Meanwhile Mubarak is clinging to power, however tenuously, and the military’s simultaneous reluctance to come out completely against him or turn their guns on the protesters the way the police were continues to leave considerable doubt where the situation is going to end.

The Egyptian government’s previous decision to shrug off the protests, however, and to insist that Egypt is “not Tunisia” does not seem to have paid off for them, and now other dictators across the region are insisting that they are “not Tunisia or Egypt.” And that may be the real question here – how many of these nations will also find out that they are wrong, and that wherever they are situated, nations with crumbling economies and little personal freedom can’t count on their public remaining silent forever.

Mass protests continue in defiance of Egypt’s government and military

January 31, 2011

Chris Marsden,, Jan 31, 2011

Protests involving hundreds and thousands continued in Cairo, Alexandria, Port Said, Suez and other cities throughout Egypt on Sunday.

Workers and young people defied the curfew imposed by the military and rejected with contempt Hosni Mubarak’s efforts to portray a new cabinet as a step towards greater democracy. Saturday’s appointment of Omar Suleiman, the director of the Egyptian General Intelligence Directorate (EGID), as vice president was seen as particularly provocative.

“Hosni Mubarak, Omar Suleiman, both of you are agents of the Americans,” protesters chanted. “Mubarak, Mubarak, the plane awaits!”

Several prisons across the country have been attacked. Thousands of prisoners reportedly escaped from four jails. They included 34 leaders from the opposition Muslim Brotherhood, freed from the Wadi Natroun jail.

Tens of thousands flocked to the Tahrir Square. Clashes between demonstrators and police have left at least 150 people dead and thousands more wounded. The death toll is likely far higher—given the paucity of reporting from smaller towns and cities.

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The Torture Career of Egypt’s New Vice President: Omar Suleiman and the Rendition to Torture Program [ 74425 ]

January 31, 2011

By Stephen Soldz,, Jan 29, 2011
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In response to the mass protests of recent days, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has appointed his first Vice President in his over 30 years rule, intelligence chief Omar Suleiman.

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When Suleiman was first announced, Aljazeera commentators were describing him as a “distinguished” and “respected ” man. It turns out, however, that he is distinguished for, among other things, his central role in Egyptian torture and in the US rendition to torture program. Further, he is “respected” by US officials for his cooperation with their torture plans, among other initiatives.

Katherine Hawkins, an expert on the US’s rendition to torture program, in an email, has sent some critical texts where Suleiman pops up. Thus, Jane Mayer, in The Dark Side, pointed to Suleiman’s role in the rendition program:

Each rendition was authorized at the very top levels of both governments….The long-serving chief of the Egyptian central intelligence agency, Omar Suleiman,     negotiated directly with top Agency officials.  [Former U.S. Ambassador to Egypt] Walker described the Egyptian counterpart, Suleiman, as “very bright, very realistic,” adding that he was cognizant that there was a downside to “some of the negative things that the Egyptians engaged in, of torture and so on. But he was not squeamish, by the way” (pp. 113).

Stephen Grey, in Ghost Plane, his investigative work on the rendition program also points to Suleiman as central in the rendition program:

To negotiate these assurances [that the Egyptians wouldn’t “torture” the prisoner delivered for torture] the CIA dealt principally in Egypt through Omar Suleiman, the chief of the Egyptian general intelligence service (EGIS) since 1993. It was he who arranged the meetings with the Egyptian interior ministry…. Suleiman, who understood English well, was an urbane and sophisticated man. Others told me that for years Suleiman was America’s chief interlocutor with the Egyptian regime — the main channel to President Hosni Mubarak himself, even on matters far removed from intelligence and security.

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The Verdict: Guilty of Protesting US Drones

January 31, 2011

by John Dear,, Jan 31, 2011

On Thursday, thirteen of us stood in a Las Vegas courtroom to hear the verdict from Judge Jansen regarding our September trial for trespassing on April 9, 2009 at Creech Air Force Base, headquarters of the U.S. drone operations. Last September, the judge had dramatically announced that he would need at least three months to “think” about the case.

After telling us how “nice” it was to see us, the Judge presented each of us with a twenty page legal ruling explaining why he found us guilty. You argued a defense of necessity, he said, “when an inherent danger is present and immediate action must be taken,” such as breaking a no-trespassing law to uphold a higher law and save life. “In this case, no inherent danger was present, and so I find you guilty.”

Guilty! My friends and I have tried every legal means possible to stop our government from its terrorist drone bombing attacks on civilians in Afghanistan, and so we journeyed to the drone headquarters at Creech AFB  near Las Vegas on Holy Thursday to kneel in prayer and beg for an end to the bombings. This nonviolent intervention is determined to be criminal-not the regular drone bombing attacks on children in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

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What Corruption and Force Have Wrought in Egypt

January 31, 2011
AP / Ben Curtis

By Chris Hedges,, Jan 30. 2011

The uprising in Egypt, although united around the nearly universal desire to rid the country of the military dictator Hosni Mubarak, also presages the inevitable shift within the Arab world away from secular regimes toward an embrace of Islamic rule. Don’t be fooled by the glib sloganeering about democracy or the facile reporting by Western reporters—few of whom speak Arabic or have experience in the region. Egyptians are not Americans. They have their own culture, their own sets of grievances and their own history. And it is not ours. They want, as we do, to have a say in their own governance, but that say will include widespread support—especially among Egypt’s poor, who make up more than half the country and live on about two dollars a day—for the Muslim Brotherhood and Islamic parties. Any real opening of the political system in the Arab world’s most populated nation will see an empowering of these Islamic movements. And any attempt to close the system further—say a replacement of Mubarak with another military dictator—will ensure a deeper radicalization in Egypt and the wider Arab world.

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Pakistan: six months after the floods

January 31, 2011

The Independent, January 31, 2011

Six months ago Pakistan experienced some of the worst flooding on record. Seventy-year-old Langkhan was among the millions of people forced to flee their homes. Department for International Development/Victoria Francis
Six months ago Pakistan experienced some of the worst flooding on record. Seventy-year-old Langkhan was among the millions of people forced to flee their homes.


It has been six months since devastating floods first hit Pakistan, killing nearly two thousand people, destroying some 10,000 schools, two million homes, and hundreds of bridges, roads, electricity pylons. More than two million hectares of crops were destroyed or damaged. In total some 14 million people were displaced, forced to abandon their homes. 

The floods are the worst the world has ever recorded, with parts of southern Pakistan still under several feet of water. However, the vast majority of people forced to flee from the floods have now returned to what’s left of their homes, and started to try and rebuild their lives.

The UK government was one of the first to respond and has helped millions of people like those pictured here, by providing shelter, food, seeds, blankets, safe drinking water, toilets, medical care, hygiene kit, and more.

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Mubarak’s dictatorship must end now

January 30, 2011

It is in the interest of autocratic Arab nations to note the mood in Egypt and effect change


Observer, January 30, 2011

Days of rage in Egypt signify the end of days for Hosni Mubarak’s repressive and bankrupt regime. For 30 years, the president has held his country down through fear, secret police, emergency laws, American cash subsidies and a lamentable absence of vision and imagination. His crude, Gaullist message: without me, chaos. Now the chaos has come anyway. And Mubarak must go.

Five days of rage on the streets of Cairo, Alexandria, Suez and dozens of other cities have transformed the way Egypt sees itself. For years, they said it was impossible. The regime was too powerful, the masses too apathetic, the security apparatus too ubiquitous. Like eastern Europeans trapped in the Soviet Union’s cold, pre-1991 embrace, they struggled in the dark, without help, without hope. Movements for change, such as Kefaya (Enough!), were brutally suppressed. Courageous dissidents such as Ayman Nour were harassed, beaten and imprisoned.

Yet all the time, pressure for reform was rising. Every day, higher prices, economic stagnation, poverty and unemployment, political stasis, official corruption and a stifled, censored public space became less and less tolerable. Every day, impatience with the regime’s insulting insouciance bred more enemies. Hatred seeped like poison through the veins of the people. Until, at last, in five days of rage, as if as one, they cried: “Enough!” And now, Mubarak must go.

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US Cynicism Explodes in Egypt

January 30, 2011

By Jeff Cohen, Consortium News, January 29, 2011

Editor’s Note: As a popular uprising challenges the pro-U.S. dictatorship in Egypt, Washington’s cynical strategy of talking about democracy while relying on repressive Arab regimes to maintain order is entering a dangerous moment.

The course of this history could have been quite different, as Jeff Cohen notes in this guest essay:

In the last year of his life, Martin Luther King Jr. questioned U.S. military interventions against progressive movements in the Third World by invoking a JFK quote: “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.”

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Were he alive to have witnessed the last three decades of U.S. foreign policy, King might update that quote by noting: “Those who make secular revolution impossible will make extreme Islamist revolution inevitable.”

For decades beginning during the Cold War, U.S. policy in the Islamic world has been aimed at suppressing secular reformist and leftist movements.

Beginning with the CIA-engineered coup against a secular democratic reform government in Iran in 1953 (it was about oil), Washington has propped up dictators, coaching these regimes in the black arts of torture and mayhem against secular liberals and the Left.

In these dictatorships, often the only places where people had freedom to meet and organize were mosques — and out of these mosques sometimes grew extreme Islamist movements. The Shah’s torture state in Iran was brilliant at cleansing and murdering the Left – a process that helped the rise of the Khomeini movement and ultimately Iran’s Islamic Republic.

Growing out of what M.L. King called Washington’s “irrational, obsessive anti-communism,” U.S. foreign policy also backed extreme Islamists over secular movements or government that were either Soviet-allied or feared to be.

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Robert Fisk: A people defies its dictator, and a nation’s future is in the balance

January 30, 2011

A brutal regime is fighting, bloodily, for its life. Robert Fisk reports from the streets of Cairo

The Independent, January 29, 2011

Egyptian demonstrators brave police water cannons and tear gas during the widespread running battles in Cairo
Reuters: Egyptian demonstrators brave police water cannons and tear gas during the widespread running battles in Cairo

It might be the end. It is certainly the beginning of the end. Across Egypt, tens of thousands of Arabs braved tear gas, water cannons, stun grenades and live fire yesterday to demand the removal of Hosni Mubarak after more than 30 years of dictatorship.

And as Cairo lay drenched under clouds of tear gas from thousands of canisters fired into dense crowds by riot police, it looked as if his rule was nearing its finish. None of us on the streets of Cairo yesterday even knew where Mubarak – who would later appear on television to dismiss his cabinet – was. And I didn’t find anyone who cared.

They were brave, largely peaceful, these tens of thousands, but the shocking behaviour of Mubarak’s plainclothes battagi – the word does literally mean “thugs” in Arabic – who beat, bashed and assaulted demonstrators while the cops watched and did nothing, was a disgrace. These men, many of them ex-policemen who are drug addicts, were last night the front line of the Egyptian state. The true representatives of Hosni Mubarak as uniformed cops showered gas on to the crowds.

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