Protests turned violent yesterday as "pro-Mubarak" forces clashed with "anti-Mubarak" forces (descriptions used by various media outlets) in Cairo.
The violence, though not really unexpected, is unfortunate but a fairly routine part of these sorts of confrontations. The question is – and I think we probably know the answer – were the "pro-Mubarak" forces real or recruited? I.e. was it a spontaneous grouping that finally came out in the streets to counter the other side, or was it an orchestrated "spontaneous" uprising on the "pro-Mubarak" side? I’m pretty sure most feel it is the former rather than the latter. If so, then Mubarak, et al, have decided to fight to stay on.
Speaking of orchestration, Robert Springborg is of the opinion that there has been some careful orchestration in the response by the Mubarak government, all aimed at seeing the military take control of the government when everything has run its course – thereby pretty much preserving the status quo with different leaders. While the administration has finally come out publicly saying Mubarak should step down, the best “realpolitik” foreign policy ending for the US could be such an outcome. But that means the death of any possibility of Egyptian democracy and the perpetuation of the autocratic “strongman” state under which Egypt has suffered for decades.
Egypt’s government hit back swiftly. The Foreign Ministry released a defiant statement saying the calls from “foreign parties” had been “rejected and aimed to incite the internal situation in Egypt.” And Egyptian officials reached out to reporters to make clear how angry they were at their onetime friend.
Separately, in an interview, a senior Egyptian government official took aim at President Obama’s call on Tuesday night for a political transition to begin “now” — a call that infuriated Cairo.
Not particularly surprising or unexpected. I’m not sure why Washington continues to fear this argument as it appears it does. It is going to happen at sometime during any event like this in the Middle East whether we sit on our hands or not. Even if its not true the US is going to be blamed. So we need to get over worrying about it and have our say.
Speaking of having his say, George Soros is out with a op/ed about how well Obama has handled all of this:
Revolutions usually start with enthusiasm and end in tears. In the case of the Middle East, the tears could be avoided if President Obama stands firmly by the values that got him elected. Although American power and influence in the world have declined, our allies and their armies look to us for direction. These armies are strong enough to maintain law and order as long as they stay out of politics; thus the revolutions can remain peaceful. That is what the United States should insist on while encouraging corrupt and repressive rulers who are no longer tolerated by their people to step aside and allow new leaders to be elected in free and fair elections.
About an mile wide and inch deep analysis Soros is trying to pretend that the army is a benign agent in Egypt and is claiming the Egyptian army is looking to us for leadership, which Soros claims Obama is providing. The alternate scenario, and the one that seems much more likely, is that one Springborg describes. IOW, look for an eventual government to emerge peopled by the military. And, of course, Soros buys into the charade involving ElBaradei and the Muslim Brotherhood:
The Muslim Brotherhood’s cooperation with Mohamed ElBaradei, the Nobel laureate who is seeking to run for president, is a hopeful sign that it intends to play a constructive role in a democratic political system. But despite his claims to the contrary, ElBaradei is not as popular as he’d like to believe and is seen as almost an outsider who has spent very little time in Egypt in recent years. He is, however, a convenient front man for the Muslim Brotherhood – at least for the moment.
The main problem ala Soros? The Joooos:
The main stumbling block is Israel. In reality, Israel has as much to gain from the spread of democracy in the Middle East as the United States has. But Israel is unlikely to recognize its own best interests because the change is too sudden and carries too many risks. And some U.S. supporters of Israel are more rigid and ideological than Israelis themselves. Fortunately, Obama is not beholden to the religious right, which has carried on a veritable vendetta against him. The American Israel Public Affairs Committee is no longer monolithic or the sole representative of the Jewish community. The main danger is that the Obama administration will not adjust its policies quickly enough to the suddenly changed reality.
Soros concludes that he’s very hopeful and enthusiastic about the probability of democracy and freedom breaking out in Egypt.
Speaking of ElBaradei, he’s now demanding Mubarak step down in 48 hours or else.
Egyptian uprising idol Mohammed ElBaradei has ordered Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to leave the country by Friday – or he will be a “dead man walking” and not just a lame-duck president.
Nice – peaceful, civil discourse with a threat he has no way of backing up with action. Not something that aspiring leaders should be throwing out there if they want to be taken seriously.
And, as Springbork suggests in his piece, all of this orchestration of events and postures assumed have been done for a purpose, one of which is to get the factions and groups to want normalcy again and be willing to negotiate a “peace”. Not so our friends in the Muslim Brotherhood:
The radical Muslim Brotherhood has become more vocal in its calls for Mubarak’s resignation, drowning out several opposition groups that have accepted an offer by newly-appointed vice president Omar Suleiman to negotiate.
It is not in the best interest of the Muslim Brotherhood for there to be peace, negotiation and accommodation (the NYT still buys into the “benevolent Muslim Brotherhood” nonsense). But it appears the regime, via the newly appointed VP and the Army, are attempting the old “divide and conquer” tactic. The “pro-Mubarak” faction’s (thugs) violence have tempered the fervor of some of the members of the populist portions of the uprising. Negotiations begin to steal the momentum from the protesters by peeling them away. Splitting off the “fair weather” protesters allows the regime (via the security forces that Suleiman ran for years) to begin to identify the hard-core extremist factions involved and deal with them. The army, of course, remains above the fray (and seemingly neutral) and positions itself to be the choice of most of the people as the moderate successor to the Mubarak regime.
Result? Pretty much the same set-up as now (except with uniforms – the VP and PM are Army or former Army) but possibly more anti-American than before. Of course George Soros won’t tell you that.
As Egypt burns: has the administration picked a side? And some on the left are still in “moon pony” land about the Muslim Brotherhood and the potential for a Muslim state emerging
I’m not sure how you might interpret this, but it seems to me, given what Secretary Hillary Clinton has been saying, that we’ve picked a side in Egypt.
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton called on Sunday for “an orderly transition” to a more politically open Egypt, stopping short of telling its embattled president, Hosni Mubarak, to step down but clearly laying the groundwork for his departure.
Granted it doesn’t tell Mubarak to give it up, it certainly doesn’t openly support the protesters, but make no mistake, in diplo-speak, this is pretty close to doing both. I’m not judging it one way or the other, I’m just sayin’.
Stipulating that, who does the administration think will lead the transition to that country having more “economic and political freedom?”
Well, she doesn’t say, but my guess is the administration would find Mohammad ElBaradei to be an acceptable choice. The question is does he really have the support to actually take power or, as many worry, if Mubarak flies off to Saudi Arabia – the country of choice for ousted dictators – will ElBaradei suddenly find himself on the outside looking in as more powerful factions compete for control?
Of course, there are those on the left here who are pretty sure that the Muslim Brotherhood running some sort of anti-American Muslim state is just a myth and nothing to worry about. Meanwhile, in the real world, Haarretz reports:
The Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt’s largest opposition group,is in talks with other anti-government figures to form a national unity government without President Hosni Mubarak, a group official told DPA on Sunday.
Gamal Nasser, a spokesman for the Brotherhood, told DPA that his group was in talks with Mohammed ElBaradei – the former UN nuclear watchdog chief – to form a national unity government without the National Democratic Party of Mubarak.
The group is also demanding an end to the draconian Emergency Laws, which grant police wide-ranging powers The laws have been used often to arrest and harass the Islamist group.
Nasser said his group would not accept any new government with Mubarak. On Saturday the Brotherhood called on President Mubarak to relinquish power in a peaceful manner following the resignation of the Egyptian cabinet.
So the moves within the opposition are beginning to become visible. Meanwhile useful idiots like ElBaradei are necessary to calm the rest of the world to give the “revolution” an acceptable face until power can be consolidated. And leave it to ElBaradei to cooperate fully, given the hubris of the man:
Speaking to CNN later Sunday, ElBaradei said he had a popular and political mandate to negotiate the creation of a national unity government.
"I have been authorized — mandated — by the people who organized these demonstrations and many other parties to agree on a national unity government," he told CNN.
A couple of things to remember – the Muslim Brotherhood has been the opposition in Egypt, not ElBaradei. The MB is closely identified with the revolutionary nationalism that is now evident, ElBaradei has been in “exile”. The Muslim Brotherhood has been banned from having seats in the Egyptian Parliament, yet they’ve still successfully run candidates as “independents” to capture a portion of seats.
Also remember that Egyptian prisons have been the incubators of Islamic jihad and that the MB has been well represented in those prisons.
Or, to put it more succinctly, look for the MB to make its moves when Mubarak is safely out of the country and the consolidation of power is near complete (and one way they will do that is by refusing Mubarak’s party any part in a new government). At that point, Mr. Useful, ElBaradei, may not be useful enough to keep around as the MB will be powerful enough to control Egypt without caring much how acceptable they seem to the rest of the world.