Posts Tagged ‘President Hosni Mubarak’

Egypt opposition groups call for reforms

March 15, 2010

Middle East Online, First Published 2010-03-15



Egypt has been ruled since 1981 by President Hosni Mubarak


Several opposition groups demand end to concentration of power in Mubarak’s hands.

CAIRO – Several Egyptian opposition groups called for political reforms and more freedoms in a statement on Monday at the end of a three-day conference, the official news agency MENA reported.

The groups, which include established opposition parties such as the leftist Tagammu and the liberal Wafd, demanded an end to the concentration of power in the president’s hands and reforms to laws that place restrictions on parties.

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Egypt and Libya: A year of serious abuses of human rights

January 25, 2010

Human Rights Messengers Remain Particularly Vulnerable in Both Countries

Human Rights Watch, January 24, 2010

“Both Egypt’s and Libya’s human rights records will come under intense scrutiny by the UN Human Rights Council in 2010.  Egyptian security services need to understand that their thuggery confirms the international image of Egypt as a police state, while Libyan security forces continue to dominate political space in Libya in an atmosphere of fear.”

Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director

(Cairo, Egypt) – Egypt should revoke its draconian Emergency Law and revamp its abusive security forces as top priorities in 2010, Human Rights Watch said today in its comprehensive World Report 2010. Libya should free unjustly detained prisoners and reform laws that criminalize free speech and association, Human Rights Watch said.

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Egyptian ‘President’ Mubarak rejects even ‘debate’ on Gaza barrier

January 24, 2010

Middle East Online, Jan 24, 2010



Under heavy public criticism inside and outside Egypt


HRW calls on Egypt to revoke its ‘draconian emergency law’, slams ‘thuggery’ police state.

CAIRO – Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak on Sunday defended the construction of an underground barrier on the border with the Gaza Strip as a matter of national security and sovereignty.

“The works and reinforcements on our eastern border are a matter of Egyptian sovereignty. We do not accept a debate on the issue with anyone,” Mubarak said in a speech to mark Police Day.

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Life after Mubarak’s iron rule: Egypt faces uncertain future

January 21, 2010

JASON KOUTSOUKIS, The Sydney Morning Herald, Jan 21, 2010

Ruthless … under Hosni Mubarak Egyptians have experienced poverty and had their rights repressed.Ruthless … under Hosni Mubarak Egyptians have experienced poverty and had their rights repressed. Photo: Reuters

The succession of a dictatorial president will be a critical turning point for the repressed nation, writes Jason Koutsoukis in Cairo.

By putting off until tomorrow the problems that cannot be solved today, Egypt has managed to sustain itself through 6000 years of turbulent history.

Today, with an ageing president, and a population of 80 million, many of whom are tired of decades of repressive dictatorial rule, Egypt is on the brink of a far-reaching transformation.

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Hosni Mubarak joins Israel in blockade of Gaza

January 18, 2010

Jean Shaoul, wsws.org, January 18, 2010

Egypt has intervened forcibly to prevent international aid reaching Gaza, and has implemented new measures aimed at further tightening Israel’s illegal and inhumane blockade.

Israel stopped all but the most essential food and medicine entering Gaza in June 2007. Hamas, the Islamist party which won the parliamentary elections against Fatah in January 2006, took control of Gaza in order to pre-empt a Fatah coup backed by Israel, the US, Jordan and Egypt. Israel has also banned virtually all exports from Gaza.

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Mubarak’s Iron Wall

January 17, 2010
Jeremy Salt, The Palestine Chronicle, Jan. 17, 2010
Mubarak is a rented president for the US and Israel, not for his own people.

Early in the 20th century the Zionist leader Vladimir Jabotinsky wrote of the ‘iron wall’ that would have to be built between the settlers and the indigenous people of Palestine, whom he knew would resist the attempt to take their land to the end. What he meant by an ‘iron wall’ was the force the Zionists would have to use to subdue the Palestinians if they were to take their land. He did not actually mean a wall according to the dictionary definition of such a structure but that is what has now been built across the West Bank to pen the Palestinians up like the wild animals the Israeli historian Benny Morris says they are.

Indeed, the Palestinians have been ghettoised by a variety of walls and ‘fences’. There is the monstrous ‘separation ‘ wall weaving in and out of the rapidly disappearing ‘green line’ separating Palestinian land which had been occupied before the 1967 war from that which was occupied during it. The Gazans live in what has been described as the world’s largest open air prison. It could also be likened to a game reserve. Every season is open season and no weapon is banned. The Gazans are enclosed by the sea on one side, patrolled by the Israeli navy so that that fishing boats cannot get out and relief boats cannot get in. They face an Israeli fence on two other sides and a  concrete barrier on the border with Egypt. This is now being reinforced  by Husni Mubarak’s ‘iron wall’ of steel plates driven deep underground, destroying the tunnels through which Gazans have been supplied with desperately needed  food, fuel and medicine.

Choked since the beginning of the blockade in 2006, the Gazans are now to be throttled by international decree. This is the crime being committed by Israel, the US and Egypt, with the ‘international community’ lining up behind them with expressions of understanding of the need for the Gazans to be punished. Their torment is one of the great scandals of our age. They have been locked up in the strip for the past sixty years. They have been massacred and bombarded from the beginning.

People forget if they ever knew that the majority of Gazans are not native to this part of Palestine. They were driven there by Zionist militias in 1948. The attacks on civilians ordered by David Ben-Gurion in the 1950s and the massacres organised by Ariel Sharon in the 1970s lie buried under the weight of more murderous attacks. In the last two decades the Gazans (and Palestinians elsewhere) have been subjected to ‘targeted assassinations’ (i.e. premeditated murder by a state) and the destruction by land, sea and air of schools, apartment blocks and government buildings. The killing of children reached its apogee (or should we assume worse is yet to come?) during the onslaught of December 2009-January 2010 when more than 400 were killed, blown to bits in artillery and air assaults and shot dead by snipers.  These children had to die so Ehud Olmert could prove he was a tough guy. They had to die because the blockade imposed in 2006 after the election of the Hamas government had not brought the Palestinians to their knees.

The ‘international community’ does not mean you or me. It means Gordon Brown, Nicholas Sarkozy, Angela Merkel, Silvio Berlusconi, Kevin Rudd, Julia Gillard and numerous other politicians lining up to defend Israel no matter what it does. They could understand why Israel had to attack Gaza in 2008. It was all those tunnels and all those rocket attacks that were the source of the problem and not 60 years of occupation. They could understand why Israel had to attack Lebanon in 2006, killing about the same number of people as they killed in Gaza three years later, although one or two of the fainthearted may have murmured ‘disproportionate’ as the newspapers published photographs of the bodies of children being lifted out of destroyed buildings. They are so understanding of Israel that Gordon Brown is promising to protect Israeli government ministers and military commanders from war crimes prosecution by changing the law. They are so understanding of Israel that the US Congress is going to close down Arab media outlets Israel does not like. They are so understanding of Israel that they can perfectly understand why it might have to launch air attacks on active nuclear installations in Iran. They are so understanding of Israel that they think the Goldstone report on Israeli war crimes (including the bombing of UN buildings and Gaza’s main hospital) and crimes against humanity in Gaza is unbalanced and unfair.

They don’t understand why the Gazans are firing home-made missiles into Israel in response to massacres, targeted assassination and the destruction of infrastructure including sewage and water works. They are appalled. ‘Violence is not the way’. They say it all the time. The phrase rolls off Tony Blair’s tongue like softened honey. Violence is not the way unless it is Israeli violence, or their own violence, delivered daily in Iraq and Afghanistan, with Yemen coming up as a new target in their ‘war on terrorism’. This violence does not appeal them all.  Of course they are shocked by the war dead, but the war dead are their soldiers who have been killed and not the vast number of civilians killed by the war machine of which these soldiers are part. The ‘deaths’ of hundreds of thousands of civilians in these countries in the last two decades is merely tragic or unfortunate. The torture of others, or their removal to third world countries so they can be tortured there is something they simply don’t talk about.

Now we have Mubarak’s steel wall. The ‘international community’ understands why it has to be built. Israel is facing an existential threat from these tunnels.  If the Gazans behave, if they hand back their captured Israeli soldier, if they accept Israel’s ‘right’ to exist on their stolen land,  if they accept that they have no right to go back to it, if they accept whatever demand Israeli makes,  if they accept that Israel has the right to attack and they have no right to defend themselves, with the paltry weapons they have, then of course the blockade will be lifted and they can have a bit more food and medicine depending on how they behave themselves.  Along with the steel wall shutting off the Palestinians is another wall Israel is going to build with Egypt’s consent along the Auja pocket, formerly a demilitarized zone seized by Israel decades ago.

Mubarak is not Egypt. The will of the country is not represented in his parliament and his government. He is a rented president, a president for the US and Israel, not for his own people. He is as much an extension of the US government as the company known as Blackwater until the murder of civilians by its contractors in Iraq caused such a scandal that it had to change its name. Mubarak is a contractor. He helps to run the Middle East for the US.  Egypt is his responsibility and those who would get in his way, Muslim activist or secular liberal, he crushes.

Were fair elections to be held in Egypt, Mubarak and his National Democratic Party would be finished. On the question of Palestine, whatever their other differences, there is no difference between the Muslim Brotherhood and the secular opposition parties and movements. Outside the ranks of Mubarak’s party there is no support for the actions he has taken, including his recent prevention of the Viva  Palestina convoy from delivering aid to Gaza.  The Egyptian people are with the Palestinians and amongst them there is a deep sense of shame at what Mubarak is doing. This is the country of the revolution of 1952, the staunch defender of the Palestinians, of the Third World struggle against imperialism and colonialism, turned into a humiliating dish rag by the west’s satrap in the presidential palace in Cairo.

– Jeremy Salt is associate professor in Middle Eastern History and Politics at Bilkent University in Ankara, Turkey. Previously, he taught at Bosporus University in Istanbul and the University of Melbourne in the Departments of Middle Eastern Studies and Political Science. Professor Salt has written many articles on Middle East issues, particularly Palestine, and was a journalist for The Age newspaper when he lived in Melbourne. He contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com.

Poem about dictator Mubarak lands clerk in jail

July 17, 2009

Middle East Online, First Published 2009-07-14


Entertaining?

Marzuq jailed for three years after his colleague turns satirical poem about Mubarak over to authorities.

CAIRO – An Egyptian civil servant who wrote a satirical poem about veteran President Hosni Mubarak has been jailed for three years after a colleague turned the villainous verses over to the authorities.

Mounir Said Hanna Marzuq was given the maximum sentence for insulting the head of state, a judicial source said on Tuesday, in one of the poems he wrote for friends in the hope that one day they would be turned into song.

Marzuq was jailed in Maghagha, southern Egypt, in May after a colleague lodged a formal complaint about the poem deemed insulting to Mubarak, in power since 1981.

The case came to light after the penalised poet’s brother appealed to the 81-year-old Mubarak for clemency, the independent Al-Masri Al-Youm reported.

The newspaper did not publish the offending verses.

Egyptian law says that anyone insulting the president can be jailed for between 24 hours and three years.

Israel seeks Egypt’s support against ‘extremists’!

May 12, 2009

Khaleej Times Online, May 11, 2009

(AP)

SHARM EL-SHEIK, Egypt – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sought Egypt’s help Monday in building a coalition of Arab nations against Iran, framing the broader Middle East conflict as one in which moderates must band together to confront extremists.

The Israeli leader spoke at a news conference beside Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak after they met in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheik. Mubarak avoided any mention of specific regional threats and said peace with the Palestinians would bring stability and reinforce cooperation in the region.

It was Netanyahu’s first trip to the Arab world since becoming prime minister on March 31. His election was ill-received in the Arab world because of his hard-line positions against yielding land captured in Middle East wars and his refusal to support Palestinian independence.

The Israeli leader, meanwhile, has sought to redirect the Middle East agenda by focusing on Iran as the key threat to regional stability. Israel and the U.S. accuse Iran of seeking nuclear weapons — a charge Iran denies — and Arab nations are also wary of Iran’s growing regional clout and what they say is its interference in Arab affairs.

In Egypt, Netanyahu made an argument that the Jewish state and moderate Arab nations shared a common threat.

“The struggle in the Middle East is not a struggle between peoples or a struggle between religions,” he said. “It is a struggle between extremists and moderates, a struggle between those who seek life and those who spread violence and death.”

Behind the effort to build common ground is a shared concern by Israel and U.S. Arab allies such as Egypt and Saudi Arabia about the Obama administration’s overtures to start a dialogue with Iran after decades of shunning Tehran.

Without mentioning Iran by name, the Israeli leader said, “Today to our regret, we are witness to extremist forces who are threatening the stability of the Middle East.”

Before his trip, an official in Netanyahu’s office said one of his aims would be to forge cooperation with Arab nations against what he described as the common threats of Iran and its regional proxies, Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza.

Appealing directly to Mubarak for support, the Israeli prime minister said, “We expect, Mr. president, … your help in the struggle against extremists and terrorists who threaten peace.”

Mubarak did not respond publicly to that theme at the news conference. Instead, he spoke of the need to forge ahead with Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts where they left off under a U.S.-backed plan aimed at establishing an independent Palestinian state.

He stressed the importance of resuming talks “on the basis of a clear political horizon that deals with the final solution issues and establishes an independent Palestinian state side by side with Israel in security and peace.”

Netanyahu, however, made no endorsement of Palestinian statehood, though he said he hoped to renew peace talks in the coming weeks, and he asked for Egypt’s help there as well.

“We want to expand peace. We want to expand it first of all to our neighbors, the Palestinians,” Netanyahu said. “We want Israelis and Palestinians to live together with a horizon to peace, security and prosperity. … Therefore, we want at the earliest opportunity to renew the peace talks between ourselves and the Palestinians.”

Netanyahu, who has yet to unveil his government’s policy on peace efforts, has said his preference is for concentrating on Palestinian economic growth for now, while putting statehood talks aside for some point in the future.

While the U.S. too is concerned about Iran’s role in the region, it also is pressing hard for an Israeli commitment to establish a Palestinian state. Netanyahu is certain to hear that message during his pivotal May 18 meeting with President Barack Obama in Washington.

The U.N. Security Council on Monday also called for “urgent efforts” to create a separate Palestinian state and achieve an overall Mideast peace settlement. Speaker after speaker at an open ministerial meeting warned of more violence unless efforts are made to restart Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, reconcile the divided Palestinian factions, and renew talks between Israel and Syria.

Accompanying Netanyahu on Monday, Israeli Trade Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer told reporters that his Egyptian counterpart, Rachid Mohammed, would travel to Israel in two weeks in a rare visit by an Egyptian Cabinet minister.

Dictator Mubarak’s Expanding Enemies List

April 28, 2009

Rannie Amiri |Ramallahonline.com, April 28, 2009

A telltale sign of a dictator’s waning influence is increasing paranoia. And this is exactly what Egypt’s U.S.-backed dictator, President Hosni Mubarak, is suffering from.

At a time when criticism over Egypt’s abetting  of the Israeli siege and attack on Gaza is intensifying, and its traditional role as leader of the Arab world is being eclipsed, Mubarak’s standing and legitimacy in the eyes of his people has plummeted. His paranoia, conversely, has skyrocketed.

This was on display when the state-controlled Egyptian daily Al-Ahram published an article last Saturday accusing the following nations, people and organizations of attempting to destabilize the country, or in the words of the paper, to “ … bring Egypt to the brink of chaos and facilitate a coup”: Iran, Syria, Qatar, Hezbollah, Hamas, Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Hezbollah Secretary-General Sayyid Hassan Nasrallah, Hamas chief Khaled Meshal, the leader of the Muslim Brotherhood Mahdi Akef, and the Qatar-based Al-Jazeera news network. Lebanon also joined the ever-expanding list a few days later.

Relations had already deteriorated earlier in the month when Egyptian security officials made public that they had uncovered a Hezbollah-sponsored “espionage ring” and “terrorist cell” operating in the Sinai. Twenty-five “agents” were arrested, and the hunt continues for an equal number more. Nasrallah did admit that one of those captured was a Hezbollah member, tasked with helping to smuggle arms into Gaza. He denied however, the constantly shifting Egyptians claims that the group’s real objective was to instigate the Sinai bedouin population against the government, attack tourist sites in the Sinai, topple the regime, or to launch attacks on the Suez Canal, Egypt or Israel.

“If helping the Palestinians is a crime, I officially admit to my crime … and if it is an accusation, we are proud of it,” Nasrallah replied.

According to Al-Ahram, the alleged “conspiracy” to depose Mubarak was first hatched when Hamas violated the ceasefire agreement with Israel – quite a remarkable plot indeed, considering the purported breach by Hamas never occurred. This is a myth routinely peddled by the Israeli government to justify their Gaza onslaught, and now one apparently being parroted by Egypt.

The reality is that Hamas abided by the ceasefire and only responded with rocket fire when Israel violated it, as they did on Nov. 5 when seven Palestinians were killed in an unprovoked airstrike. This is notwithstanding the inhumane 18-month siege to which Gazans were subjected; denying them food, clean water, medicine and basic humanitarian supplies. This embargo was not just a flagrant breach of international law but a prima facie act of war (and one in which Egypt, by keeping the vital Rafah border crossing with Gaza closed, was complicit).

The juvenile tone the Egyptian government-controlled press has adopted in discussing the current tension mirrors that of the leadership well. The Al-Ahram article called Qatar – Egypt’s new rival in the Arab world – a “tiny state.” According to the Los Angeles Times, one Egyptian columnist referred to that country’s emir, Sheikh Hamad Ibn Khalifa Al-Thani as “the chubby prince” while the state-owned Al-Gomhuria called Nasrallah a “monkey sheikh.”

Such childish language speaks poorly of the state of journalism and reporting by these mouthpieces (as one might expect). More important though is how Mubarak’s rousing conspiracy theories and deepening paranoia have caused Egypt to align itself closer to Israel than at any time past, yet further alienating him from ordinary Egyptians and the rest of the Arab world.

Although busy identifying enemies all around, Mubarak surely has not forgotten his greatest one: the Egyptian people. By attempting to distract them by laying blame on phantom menaces, he believes the credibility he lost during the Gaza war will somehow be restored.

But it will not. Nor will the people believe in the validity of his enemies list or the claims of his hired journalists.

Why?

Because they know that when Mubarak’s regime falls, it will not be at the hands of outside forces, but at their own.

– Rannie Amiri is an independent Middle East commentator.

Destruction of Gaza and the crimes of Hosni Mubarak

February 4, 2009

Collusion, Complicity and Sheer Insanity

By Rannie Amiri | Counterpunch, Feb 2, 2009

As staggering as the statistics detailing Gaza’s destruction may be, they still do not present a complete picture of the unique travesties and tragedies suffered by individuals, families, neighborhoods and villages during Israel’s savage 22-day assault on the tiny territory. Yet, they bear repeating. From the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (www.pcbs.gov.ps) and various NGOs:

  • 1,334 killed, one-third of them children (more children than ‘militants’ were killed)
  • 5,450 injured, one-third of them children
  • 100,000 displaced, 50,000 made homeless
  • 4,100 residential homes and buildings destroyed, 17,000 damaged (together accounting for 14 percent of all buildings in Gaza)
  • 29 destroyed educational institutions, including the American International School
  • 92 destroyed or damaged mosques
  • 1,500 destroyed shops, factories and other commercial facilities
  • 20 destroyed ambulances
  • 35-60% of agricultural land ruined
  • $1.9 billion in total estimated damages

In the face of such massive devastation and hardship—and this after the crippling 18-month siege had already reduced Gazato a state of bare subsistence—the behavior and actions of the regime of Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak remain as contemptible after the war as they were before.

On Dec. 25, just two days prior to the onset of the vicious aerial bombardment of Gaza, Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni met with Mubarak in Cairo. It is understood that Egypt gave the green light for the attack in the hope that the ruling (and democratically-elected) Islamist group Hamas would be toppled and the more pliant Fatah faction, led by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, would supplant it.

Rafah crossing sealed

The reasons for Mubarak’s animus toward Hamas, and by extension, for his reprehensible decision to keep the vital Rafah border crossing with Gaza closed to humanitarian supplies was explained earlier.

Apologists for the dictator will say the 2005 agreement between Israel, the Palestinian Authority (PA) and the European Union (EU) that regulates movement across the border prohibits it from being opened in the absence of PA and EU observers.

It makes no mention, however, of barring critical humanitarian goods from reaching the territory, where conditions were becoming ever more desperate. Additionally, Egypt was a non-signatory to the treaty, which had already expired after one year and was never renewed.

If keeping the Rafah crossing—the only gateway to non-Israeli territory from Gaza—closed before and during the war was not a criminal act, doing so in its aftermath must surely be.

Preventing Gaza’s children from obtaining medical care

Reporting for The National, Jonathan Cook details four cases of children in Gaza who required urgent, life-saving surgery in France, but were denied entry into Egypt via Rafah. As the aunt of the one of the war’s child casualties remarked, “Each morning we arrived at the crossing and the Egyptian soldiers cursed us and told us to go away.”

Doctors accompanying the children were allowed to pass into Egypt, but the ambulances carrying them were not. Their exclusion was attributed to the Palestinian health ministry in Ramallah who did not authorize their exit, stating there was “no more reason to refer any more children for treatment abroad.” Egyptian authorities abided by their ruling, not wanting to create diplomatic trouble.

But that is no excuse.

First, Hamas, democratically elected to power in the 2006 Palestinian parliamentary elections, is the legitimate governing authority. Second, the term of Mahmoud Abbas as president of the PA expired on Jan. 9. Finally, emergency medical situations always take precedent over (alleged) bureaucratic considerations. Those in control of the Rafah crossing must be held directly responsible.

Feeding Israeli soldiers, not Gaza’s people

In light of catastrophic circumstances due to lack of basic foodstuffs (75 percent of Gaza’s children are thought to be malnourished and 30 percent are stunted in growth), a recent report by the popular Egyptian weekly Al-Osboa was all the more shocking. It revealed that an Egyptian company was allowed to provide Israel Defense Force soldiers with food during the war while Gazans were starving.

Iranian Red Crescent ship kept offshore

An Iranian ship sent by the country’s Red Crescent Society carrying 2,000 tons of medical supplies and other humanitarian aid for Gaza continues to be anchored 15 miles off Gaza’s shore. It had already been intercepted and prevented by the Israeli navy from reaching Gaza. Now, it awaits permission to dock in the Egyptian port of Al-Areesh to unload its cargo. To date, permission has not been grated.

In light of the above, blistering criticism of the Egyptian regime’s behavior has come from Hezbollah leader Sayyid Hassan Nasrallah:

“[Egypt] told the Arab and Islamic world that the Rafah border was opened and it was not … The opening of the Rafah crossing is crucial to the Palestinian people, the Resistance and the living conditions there … its closure is one of the biggest crimes in history.”

The reply from the Egyptian government was all too predictable:

“Hassan Nasrallah’s criticism of Egypt confirms once more that he is nothing more than an agent of the Iranian regime and takes his orders from Tehran.”

Irrespective of whether Nasrallah takes orders from Tehran or Tokyo, there were no substantive answers to his accusations. Instead, Egypt reverted to parroting tired anti-Iranian rhetoric which increasingly is falling on deaf ears.

Abetting the siege of Gaza, giving sanction to the Israeli onslaught and its crimes against humanity, and afterward, preventing aid from getting into the territory and the injured from getting out, are all egregious offenses.

Just as many call for Olmert, Barak, Livni and the generals and soldiers who participated in this war to be prosecuted for violating international law and committing war crimes, Mubarak’s own complicity makes him equally liable in facing similar charges.

Rannie Amiri is an independent commentator on the Middle East. He may be reached at: rbamiri at yahoo dot com.


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