Sunday, February 27, 2011

Libya: Is Washington Pushing for Civil War to Justify a US-NATO Military Intervention?

by Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya

Is Tripoli being set up for a civil war to justify U.S. and NATO military intervention in oil-rich Libya?

Are the talks about sanctions a prelude to an Iraq-like intervention?

Something is Rotten in the so-called “Jamahiriya” of Libya

There is no question that Colonel Muammar Al-Gaddafi (Al-Qaddafi) is a dictator. He has been the dictator and so-called “qaid” of Libya for about 42 years. Yet, it appears that tensions are being ratcheted up and the flames of revolt are being fanned inside Libya. This includes earlier statements by the British Foreign Secretary William Hague that Colonel Qaddafi had fled Libya to Venezuela. [1] This statement served to electrify the revolt against Qaddafi and his regime in Libya.

Although all three have dictatorship in common, Qaddafi’s Libya is quite different from Ben Ali’s Tunisia or Mubarak’s Egypt. The Libyan leadership is not outright subservient to the United States and the European Union. Unlike the cases of Tunisia and Egypt, the relationship that exists between Qaddafi and both the U.S. and E.U. is a modus vivendi. Simply put, Qaddafi is an independent Arab dictator and not a “managed dictator” like Ben Ali and Mubarak.

In Tunisia and Egypt the status quo prevails, the military machine and neo-liberalism remain intact; this works for the interests of the United States and the European Union. In Libya, however, upsetting the established order is a U.S. and E.U. objective.

The U.S. and the E.U. now seek to capitalize on the revolt against Qaddafi and his dictatorship with the hopes of building a far stronger position in Libya than ever before. Weapons are also being brought into Libya from its southern borders to promote revolt. The destabilization of Libya would also have significant implications for North Africa, West Africa, and global energy reserves.

Colonel Qaddafi in Brief Summary

Qaddafi’s rise to power started as a Libyan lieutenant amongst a group of military officers who carried out a coup d’état. The 1969 coup was against the young Libyan monarchy of King Idris Al-Sanusi. Under the monarchy Libya was widely seen as being acquiescent to U.S. and Western European interests.

Although he has no official state or government position, Qaddafi has nurtured and deeply rooted a political culture of cronyism, corruption, and privilege in Libya since the 1969 coup. Added to this is the backdrop of the “cult of personality” that he has also enforced in Libya.

Qaddafi has done everything to portray himself as a hero to the masses, specifically the Arabs and Africans. His military adventures in Chad were also tied to leaving his mark in history and creating a client state by carving up Chad. Qaddafi’s so-called “Green Book” has been forcefully portrayed and venerated as being a great feat in political thought and philosophy. Numerous intellectuals have been forced or bribed to praise it.

Over the years, Colonel Qaddafi has tried to cultivate a romantic figure of himself as a simple man of the people. This includes pretending to live in a tent. He has done everything to make himself stand out. His reprimanding of other Arab dictators, such as King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, at Arab League meetings have made headlines and have been welcomed by many Arabs. While on state visits he has deliberately surrounded himself with an entourage of female body guards with the intent of getting heads to turn. Moreover, he has also presented himself as a so-called imam or leader of the Muslims and a man of God, lecturing about Islam in and outside of Libya.

Libya is run by a government under Qaddafi’s edicts. Fear and cronyism have been the keys to keeping so-called “order” in Libya amongst officials and citizens alike. Libyans and foreigners alike have been killed and have gone missing for over four decades. The case of Lebanon’s Musa Al-Sadr, the founder of the Amal Movement, is one of the most famous of these cases and has always been a hindrance to Lebanese-Libyan relations. Qaddafi has had a very negative effect in creating and conditioning an entire hierarchy of corrupt officials in Tripoli. Each one looks out for their own interests at the expense of the Libyan people.

Fractions and Tensions inside the Hierarchy of Qaddafi’s Regime

Because of the nature of Qaddafi’s regime in Tripoli, there are a lot of internal tensions in Libya and within the regime structure itself. One of these sets of tensions is between Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi and his father’s circle of older ministers. Libyan ministers are generally divided amongst those that gather around Saif Al-Islam and those that are part of the “old guard.”

There are even tensions between Qaddafi and his sons. In 1999, Mutassim Al-Qaddafi tried to ouster his father while Colonel Qaddafi was outside of Libya. Mutassim Qaddafi holds a Libyan cabinet portfolio as a national security advisor. He is also famously known amongst Libyans for being a playboy who has spent much of his time in Europe and abroad. There is also Khames Gaddafi who runs his own militia of thugs, which are called the Khames militia. He has always been thought of as possible contender for succession too against his other brothers.

There have always been fears in Libya about the issue of succession after Colonel Qaddafi is gone. Over the years, Qaddafi has thoroughly purged Libya of any form of organized opposition to him or prevented anyone else, outside his family, from amassing enough power to challenge his authority.

The Issue of Loyalty and Defection in Libya

Undoubtedly, little loyalty is felt for Qaddafi and his family. It has been fear that has kept Libyans in line. At the level of the Libyan government and the Libyan military it has been both fear and self-interest that has kept officials, good and corrupt alike, in line. That mantle of fear has now been dispelled. Statements and declarations of denunciation against Gaddafi’s regime are being heard from officials, towns, and military barracks across Libya.

Aref Sharif, the head of the Libyan Air Force, has renounced Qaddafi. Interior Minister Abdul Fatah Al-Yunis (Al-Younis), who is from Benghazi (Bengasi) and oversees a branch of the special operations work in Libya, has resigned. Yunis is reported to be Qaddafi’s “number two” or second in charge, but this is incorrect. Abdullah Sanusi, the head of Libyan Internal Intelligence and Qaddafi’s relative through marriage, is the closest thing to a “number two” within the structure of power in Tripoli.

Reports have been made about two Libyan pilots defected to Malt and Libyan naval vessels refusing to attack Benghazi. Defections are snowballing amongst the military and government. Yet, there must be pause to analyze the situation.

The Libyan Opposition

At this point, however, it must be asked who is the “opposition” in Libya. The opposition is not a monolithic body. The common denominator is the opposition to the rule of Qaddafi and his family. It has to be said that “actions of opposition or resistance against an oppressor” and an “opposition movement” are also two different things. For the most part, the common people and corrupt Libyan officials, who harbour deep-seated hate towards Qaddafi and his family, are now in the same camp, but there are differences.

There is an authentic form of opposition, which is not organized, and a systematic form of opposition, which is either external or led by figures from within the Libyan regime itself. The authentic people’s internal opposition in Libya is not organized and the people’s “actions of opposition” have been spontaneous. Yet, opposition and revolt has been encouraged and prompted from outside Libya through social media networks, international news stations, and events in the rest of the Arab World. [2]

The leadership of the internal opposition that is emerging in Libya is coming from within the regime itself. Corrupt officials that have rebelled against Gaddafi are not the champions of the people. These opposition figures are not opposed to tyranny; they are merely opposed to the rule of Colonel Qaddafi and his family. Aref Sharif and Al-Yunis are themselves Libyan regime figures.

It has to also be considered that some Libyan officials that have turned against Qaddafi are doing it to save themselves, while others in the future will work to retain or strengthen their positions. Abdel Moneim Al-Honi, the Libyan envoy to the Arab League in Cairo, can be looked at as an example. Al-Honi denounced Qaddafi, but it should be noted that he was one of the members of the group of Libyan officers who executed the coup in 1969 with Qaddafi and that later in 1975 he himself tried to take power in a failed coup. After the failed coup, he would flee Libya and only return in 1990 after Qaddafi pardoned him.

Al-Honi is not the only Libyan diplomat to resign. The Libyan ambassador to India has also done the same. There is an intention on the part of these officials to be members of the power structure in a Libya after the ouster of Qaddafi:

Libyan Ambassador to India Ali al-Essawi told the BBC that he was quitting, opposing his government's violent crackdown on demonstrators.

Mr. Al-Essawi was reported to be a Minister in Tripoli and could be an important figure in an alternative government, in case Libyan President Muammar Qadhafi steps down.

The second Libyan diplomat to put in his papers was Tripoli's Permanent Representative to the Arab League Abdel Moneim al-Honi, who said in Cairo that he had quit his job to “join the revolution” in his country.

“I have submitted my resignation in protest against the acts of repression and violence against demonstrators, and I am joining the ranks of the revolution,” said Mr. Al-Honi. The Second Secretary Hussein Sadiq al Musrati, announced his resignation from China, in an interview with Al-Jazeera, and called on the Army to intervene in the uprising. [3]

Again, these revolting officials, like Al-Yunis and Sharif, are from within the regime. They are not mere diplomats, but former ministers. There is also the possibility that these types of “opposition figures” could have or could make arrangements with external powers.

External Forces at Play in Libya

The governments of the U.S., Britain, France, Germany, and Italy all knew very well that Qaddafi was a despot, but this did not stop any of them from making lucrative deals with Tripoli. When the media covers the violence in Libya, they should also ask, where are the weapons being used coming from? The arms sales that the U.S. and the E.U. have made to Libya should be scrutinized. Is this a part of their democracy promotion programs?

Since rapprochement between the U.S. and Libya, the military forces of both countries have moved closer. Libya and the U.S. have had military transactions and since rapprochement Tripoli has been very interested in buying U.S. military hardware. [4] In 2009, a Pentagon spokeswoman, Lieutenant-Colonel Hibner, affirmed this relationship best: “[The U.S.] will consider Libyan requests for defen[c]e equipment that enables [Libya] to build capabilities in areas that serve our mutual interest [or synchronized U.S. and Libyan interests].” [5] The qualifier here is U.S. interests, meaning that the Pentagon will only arm Libya on the basis of U.S. interests.

In what seems to have happened overnight, a whole new arsenal of U.S. military hardware has appeared in Libya. American-made F-16 jets, Apache helicopters, and ground vehicles are being used inside Libya by Qaddafi. [6] This is a shocking revelation, if corroborated. There are no public records about some of this U.S. military hardware in the the arsenal of the Libyan military. In regards to the F-16s, Libyan jets are traditionally French-made Mirages and Russian-made MiGs.

Silvio Berlusconi and the Italian government have also been strong supporters of Qaddafi’s regime. There is information coming out of Libya that Italian pilots are also being used by the Libyan Air Force. [7] Mercenaries from Chad, Sudan, Niger, and Nigeria are also being used. This has been verified through video evidence coming out of Libya. The Libyan regime is also considering contracting American or European security firms (mercenaries). [8]

The Politics of Al Jazeera

The Libyan government has shut down the internet and phone lines and an information war is underway. Although one of the most professional news networks in the world, it has to be cautioned that Al Jazeera is not a neutral actor. It is subordinate to the Emir of Qatar and the Qatari government, which is also an autocracy. By picking and choosing what to report, Al Jazeera’s coverage of Libya is biased. This is evident when one studies Al Jazeera’s coverage of Bahrain, which has been restrained due to political ties between the leaders of Bahrain and Qatar.

Reports by Al Jazeera about Libyan jets firing on protesters in Tripoli and the major cities are unverified and questionable. [9] Hereto, the reports that Libyan jets have been attacking people in the streets have not been verified. No visual evidence of the jet attacks has been shown, while visual confirmation about other events have been coming out of Libya.

Al Jazeera is not alone in its biased reporting from Libya. The Saudi media is also relishing the events in Libya. Asharq Al-Awsat is a Saudi-owned paper that is strictly aligned to U.S. interests in the Middle East-North Africa (MENA) region. Its editor-in-chief is now running editorials glorifying the Arab League for their decision to suspend Libya, because of the use of force by Tripoli against Libyans protesters – why were such steps not taken for Egypt, Tunisia, Bahrain, or Yemen? Inside and outside the Arab World, the mainstream media is now creating the conditions for some sort of intervention in Libya.

The Role of Foreign Interests in Libya

Qaddafi and his sons have run Libya like a private estate. They have squandered its wealth and natural resources. One of Gaddafi’s son’s is known to have paid the American singer Beyoncé Knowles a million or more U.S. dollars for a private music concert. [10] Foreign corporations also play a role in this story.

The positions and actions of foreign corporations, the U.S., and the European Union in regards to Libya should not be ignored.

Questioning the role of foreign governments and corporations in Libya is very important. The Italian and U.S. governments should be questioned about the role that pilots of Italian nationality and newly bought U.S. weaponry are playing in Libya.

It is very clear that democracy is only used as a convenient pretext against dictators and governments that do not bow down and serve U.S. and E.U. interests. All one needs to do is to just look at the way Mutassim Qaddafi was welcomed with open arms in Washington on April 21, 2009 by Hillary Clinton and the Obama Administration. Upon their meeting, Secretary Clinton publicly said:

I am very pleased to welcome Minister Gaddafi to the State Department. We deeply value the relationship between the United States and Libya. We have many opportunities to deepen and broaden our cooperation and I am very much looking forward to building on this relationship. So Mr.Minister welcome so much here. [11]

What the U.S. and the E.U. want to do now is maximize their gain in Libya. Civil war seems to be what Brussels and Washington have in mind.

The Balkanization of Libya and the Push to Civil War

Qaddafi’s son Saif Al-Islam has made statements on Libyan television about deviant Taliban-like faith-based organizations taking over Libya or attempting to take it over. Nothing is further from the truth. He has also warned of doom and civil war. This is part of the Qaddafi family’s efforts to retain power over Libya, but a path towards civil war is unfolding in Libya.

Amongst the ranking members of the military, Mahdi Al-Arab, the deputy chief of Libya’s military staff, was said to have renounced Qaddafi. [12] Al-Arab, however, has modified his position by saying that he does not want to see Libya spiral into a civil war that will allow foreign intervention and tutelage. [13] This is why Al-Arab prevented the people of his city, Zawarah, from joining the revolt and going to nearby Tripoli. [14]

The drive towards civil war in Libya is fuelled by two factors. One is the nature of Qaddafi’s regime. The other is an external desire to divide and weaken Libya.

Qaddafi has always worked to keep Libyans divided. For years there have been fears that Qaddafi’s sons would start a civil war amongst themselves or that some other high ranking officials could try to jockey for power once Qaddafi was gone. Civil war on the basis of ethnicity, regionalism, or tribalism is not a big threat. Tribes and regions could be co-opted or allied with, but the people that would spark a civil war are regime figures. The threats of civil war arise from the rivalries amongst regime officials themselves. Yet, it must be understood that these rivalries are delibertly being encouraged to divide Libya.

The flames of revolt are being fanned inside Libya. Chaos in the Arab World has been viewed as beneficial in many strategic circles in Washington, Tel Aviv, London, and NATO Headquarters. If Libya falls into a state of civil war or becomes balkanized this will benefit the U.S. and the E.U. in the long-term and will have serious geo-political implications.

All the neighbouring states in North Africa would be destabilized by the events in Libya. West Africa and Central Africa would also be destabilized. The tribal boundaries running in Libya and Chad extend into countries like Niger, Algeria, and Sudan. The chaos in Libya would also have a significant effect on Europe and global energy. Already the events in Libya are being used to validate the drive to control the Arctic Circle and its energy resources. [15]

What Will Be Qaddafi’s End?

It is very likely that Qaddafi will not have as fortunate an exit from power as Ben Ali in Tunisia and Mubarak in Egypt. Finding refuge for Qaddafi will not be easy. In general, Qaddafi is considered a liability by other governments.
Saudi Arabia, which can be portrayed as a refuge for Arab dictators, will most likely not give Qaddafi refuge. Libya and Saudi Arabia have bad relations. He is also wanted for investigation in Lebanon. Generally, Qaddafi’s relationship with the leaders of the Arab petro-sheikhdoms in the Persian Gulf is tense and negative. He will not be granted refuge anywhere in the Persian Gulf.

In general, Arab governments will also be afraid to host him. In his efforts to present himself as a champion of the people, he has insulted many of his fellow Arab dictators. There is something to be said, however, when Qaddafi’s statements at Arab League meetings or about Palestine and Iraq are far more popular or candid than the rest of the Arab dictators.

It is highly improbable that any Latin American, European, or ex-Soviet countries will give him refuge. A country in sub-Sahara(n) Africa is the mostly likely place Qaddafi could seek refuge.

His options are limited and he is determined to hold on to power. Civil War seems to be looming in the horizon. It is highly unlikely that he will leave Libya peacefully and the U.S. and its allies have no doubt examined this scenario. On February 23-24, 2010, he met with the leaders of the three biggest tribes in Libya (Werfala, Tarhouna, and Wershfana), to secure their support. [16] His own tribe, Qaddafa is supporting him and it seems that the Madarha and Awlad Slieman tribes are also supporting him. [17]

The Threats of NATO Intervention and U.S. and E.U. Control over Libya

Libya has been in the cross-hairs of the Pentagon for years. According to Wesley Clark, the retired general who was the supreme military commander of NATO, Libya was on a Pentagon list of nations to be invaded after Taliban-controlled Afghanistan. The list included Iraq, Somalia, Sudan, Lebanon, Syria, and lastly Iran. In Clark’s own words:

So I came back to see him [a high ranking military officer in the Pentagon] a few weeks later, and by that time we were bombing in Afghanistan. I said, “Are we still going to war with Iraq?” And he said, “Oh, it’s worse than that.” He reached over on his desk. He picked up a piece of paper. And he said, “I just got this down from upstairs” — meaning the Secretary of Defence’s office — “today.” And he said, “This is a memo that describes how we’re going to take out seven countries in five years, starting with Iraq, and then Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and, finishing off, Iran.” [18]

In one way or another all the nations on the list have been attacked directly or indirectly and all of them, but Syria and Iran, have succumbed to the U.S. and its allies. Again, the only exceptions are Iran and its ally Syria. In Lebanon, the U.S. has made partial gains, but it is now receding with the decline of the Hariri-led March 14 Alliance.

Libya started secret negotiations with Washington in 2001 that materialized into formal rapprochement after the fall of Baghdad to British and American troops in 2003. Yet, the U.S. and its allies have always wanted to expand their influence over the Libyan energy sector and to appropriate Libya’s vast wealth. A civil war provides the best cover for this.

Libyans Must Be Aware of the Pretext of Humanitarian Intervention

The Libyan people should be on their high guards. In is clear that the U.S. and the E.U. are supporting both sides. The U.S. and the E.U. are not the allies of the people of the Arab World. In this regard, the U.S. supports Qaddafi on the ground through military hardware, while it also supports the “opposition.” If the so-called Western governments were serious about democracy, they would have cut their business ties to Libya, specifically in the energy sector, before 2011.

Both Washington and the powers in Brussels could co-opt opposition forces. They have supported Gaddafi, but they do not control him or his regime like they controlled Ben Ali in Tunisia and Mubarak in Egypt. Libya is a very different story. The objectives of Washington and Brussels will be to strengthen their control over Libya either through regime change or civil war.

“Actions of opposition to Gaddafi” are strong, but there is no strong organized “opposition movement.” The two are different. Nor is democracy guaranteed, because of the nature of the coalition opposed to Gaddafi, which includes corrupt regime officials.

There is now talk about a “humanitarian intervention” in Libya, similar to Yugoslavia and Iraq. A “no-fly zone” over Libya has been mentioned, as has NATO military intervention. The aims behind such statements are not humanitarian, but are intended to justify foreign interference, which could potentially lead to an invasion. Should this come to fruition, Libya would become an occupied country. Its resources would be plundered and its assets privatized and controlled by foreign corporations as in the case of Iraq.

Today, in Libya and the Arab World the ghosts of Omar Mukhtar and Saladin are still very much alive and active. Getting rid of Gaddafi and his sons alone is not the solution. The entire corrupt system of governance in Libya and the culture of political corruption must be dismantled. At the same time, however, foreign interference or domination should also not be allowed to take root in Libya. If the Libyan people are mobilized and steadfast, they can fight such schemes.

Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya specializes in the Middle East and Central Asia. He is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization.


[1] “UK Hague: some information that Qaddafi on way to Venezuela,” Reuters, February 21, 2011.
[2] One is taken back by the proliferation of pre-1969 coup Libyan flags. Where did all these flags come from?
[3] “3 Libyan Diplomats resign,” The Hindu, February 22, 2011.
[4] James Wolf, “U.S. eyes arms sales to Libya,” Reuters, March 6, 2009.
[5] Ibid.
[6] Information from sources in Libya; not publicly confirmed yet.
[7] Ibid.
[8] Ibid.
[9] Ibid.; I have been given two explanations for this. The first explanation is that government agents from Libya have been disseminating misinformation to Al Jazeera. This includes reports made to Al Jazeera that jets have been attacking civilians in the streets. Gaddafi has used this to try to discredit Al Jazeera internally in Libya by pointing out to the Libyan people that no jet attacks have occurred and that Al Jazeera is broadcasting misinformation. The second explanation is that Al Jazeera is simply spreading misinformation. Whatever the case, both explanations agree no Libyan jets have attacked protesters yet.
[10] Marine Hyde, “Beyoncé and the $2m gig for Colonel Gaddafi’s son,” The Guardian (U.K.), January 8, 2010; it was Mutassim and not Hannibal Gaddafi that the music concert was for (the article is wrong). The article is not authoritative and has been cited to illustrate that these types of escapades are even vaguely known by the mainstream press in Britain and Western Europe.
[11] U.S. State Department, “Remarks With Libyan National Security Adviser Dr. Mutassim Qadhafi Before Their Meeting,” April 21, 2009: <>.
[12] Information from sources in Libya; not publicly confirmed yet.
[13] Ibid.
[14] Ibid.
[15] David Ljunggren, “Libya turmoil puts focus on Arctic oil: Greenland,” ed. Robert Wilson, Reuters, February 23, 2011.
[16] Information from sources in Libya; not publicly confirmed yet. I have been told that Qaddafi promised the tribes reform and that he would step down in about one year in time. I was also informed that he claimed that none of his sons would control Libya either.
[17] Ibid.
[18] General (retired) Wesley Clark, “92 Street Y Exclusive Live Interview,” interview by Amy Goodman, Democracy Now, March 2, 2007.

Global Research Articles by Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya

Monday, February 21, 2011

Gaddafi Regime to fall!!!

February 21

2:00 am
Picture from the streets shows Libyans watching Seif Gaddafi address the nation via @ammr

File 9266

Sunday, February 20, 2011

It is time to ACT NOW! The 300 hunger strikers in Greece are in need of YOUR support!

+++ As hunger strike of 300 approaches day 30, striker are in dire need of transnational support! +++ It is time to ACT NOW! +++ Fax, E-Mail and phone the Greek authorities and demand immediate legalisation NOW +++

I want to be treated as a human being – like the Greeks. When we will get papers, I will not anymore be afraid of police and I can work legally with an insurance. But most of the time I think now: what will happen if the government does not give an answer? (Arqal, hunger striker in Athens)

Since the 25th of January 300 migrants are on a hunger strike in Athens and Thessaloníki. Many of them live in Greece for more than six years. Most have been working in the harvest - all of them under extremely problematic conditions. To be without papers means: no health insurance, unpaid wages, no chance to travel…

They decided to go on a hunger strike, demanding the unconditional legalisation of all migrants in Greece. A big group of hunger strikers came with by ship from Crete. Solidarity groups welcomed the migrants at the port of Piraeus, and then, they altogether moved to an empty building of the university in the centre of Athens. A university building was picked because police is not allowed to enter the university (university asylum) since the end of the military junta, when soldiers entered the polytechnic university by force – but in the case of migrant protesters the university asylum was not respected. As a result of negotiations the hunger strikers moved to a building close to the university.

But until now the government did not move. The hunger strike is at a decisive point. Each day the hunger strikers are getting weaker. Each day brings more dramatic developments. On Friday Hassan, one of the hunger strikers, collapsed during a press conference:

As you well know, today is the 25th day of our hunger strike. So far we have had no response from the Government. No one has spoken. What is the Government waiting for? Is it waiting for us to die?

After speaking these words, Hassan suffered a hypoglycaemic shock and turned unconscious. The incident illustrates the extreme situation of the strikers who have been on an austere hunger strike for more than 25 days now, taking only water, sugar and salt. Eight hunger strikers are in hospital to date (day 26), dozens more face serious health problems. But until now the authorities don't move to fulfill their demand for legalisation.

We are sending a message to the Prime Minister, who has said that he was a cleaner in Sweden and has experienced racism. It is time to intervene before it’s too late. So that we won't have any deaths.

The wave of support for the hunger strikers has become enormous: from institutional members, to unions, hundreds of artists and intellectuals, thousands of supporters in Greece and abroad stand in solidarity. But obviously the government needs some more kicking – so now it’s also up to you. It is time to act!

I believe that the resistance of migrants against expulsions, harassments, discriminations and exploitation, struggling for their rights and their existence, is a dramatic human cause of our times. In addition, or rather, inseparably, it represents a crucial element of the popular movement for democracy in Europe, which crosses borders and for that reason elicits a redoubled xenophobia. The solidarity with the migrants must take form not only at a local scale, but at the continental level. (Etienne Balibar)


Send letters, fax and emails of protest to the Greek ministries of interior, of citizen protection and of health and to your local Greek embassy and consulate!

Help spread the word to media, and send press releases to your local, regional, national and european media. Here you find the press release we sent out

Send copies of your press release and solidarity declarations to:

Pass this message on in your networks and urge other people to act, too!

Below you find a sample fax/emailing greek and english language that you can send to the relevant authorities - also listed below. Please do note that it is always better if you compose a text on your own. It doesn’t need to be long! If you do so, please post your letter as a comment on, so that we can collect our voices.

Please act and help spread the this - solidarity is the proverbial weapon these days. The hunger strikers are asking for your support!!!


fax numbers:

Ministry of Interior, fax: 0030 2103665089,

Ministry of Citizen Protection, fax: 0030 2103387708

Ministry of Labour, fax: 2105249805, 0030 2103213688



Greek Embassy/Consulate in [insert the consulate next to you!!]

Ministry of Citizen Protection of the Hellenic Republic

Ministry of Interior, Decentralisation and E-Government of the Hellenic Republic

Ministry of Health of the Hellenic Republic

Hunger strike of 300 migrants in Athens and Thessaloníki: Legalisation Now!

ΧΧ Φεβρουαρίου 2011 [=date]

Κυρίες και κύριοι,

Με αυτή την επιστολή, σας καλούμε να δεχθείτε τα αιτήματα των απεργών πείνας μεταναστών, δηλαδή την χωρίς προϋποθέσεις νομιμοποίηση όλων των μεταναστών στην Ελλάδα, προτού να είναι αργά. Είναι εξαιρετικά ανησυχητικό το γεγονός ότι η απεργία πείνας προσεγγίζει τις 30 ήμερες και ήδη πολλοί απεργοί πείνας χρήζουν νοσηλείας. Η υγεία και η ίδια τους η ζωή βρίσκεται σε κίνδυνο και είναι ευθύνη της ελληνικής κυβέρνησης να επιλύσει το πρόβλημα άμεσα, νομοθετώντας μια νέα διαδικασία νομιμοποίησης. Στην αντίληψη μας, αυτή αποτελεί τη μοναδική λύση με διάρκεια και βιωσιμότητα απέναντι στις απαράδεκτες συνθήκες που βιώνουν οι πρόσφυγες και μετανάστες στην Ελλάδα, ένα πολιτικό ζήτημα που διάφορες ελληνικές κυβερνήσεις δεν έχουν αντιμετωπίσει επιτυχώς.

Ανταποκρινόμενη στο αίτημα των μεταναστών, η ελληνική κυβέρνηση μπορεί να στείλει ένα ισχυρό πολιτικό μήνυμα. Μια νέα διαδικασία νομιμοποίησης θα αποτελέσει το ισχυρότερο μήνυμα προς τα υπόλοιπα κράτη μέλη της ΕΕ ότι το ισχύον σύστημα μετάθεσης της ευθύνης στις συνοριακές περιοχές της Ευρώπης δεν μπορεί πια να συνεχιστεί και ότι απαιτείται μια θαρραλέα λύση. Μια νέα διαδικασία νομιμοποίησης θα δώσει επιτέλους τέλος στην πολυετή αβεβαιότητα που βιώνουν οι μετανάστες στην Ελλάδα και θα τους αναγνώριζε δικαιώματά ως κομμάτι της κοινωνίας, δικαιώματα που έχουν κατακτήσει οι ίδιοι με την εργασία τους και τους δεσμούς ζωής που έχουν δημιουργήσει στην ελληνική κοινωνία. Μια διαδικασία νομιμοποίησης θα στείλει επίσης ένα σαφές πολιτικό μήνυμα ότι είναι αναγκαίο να τεθεί το ζήτημα των νέων και των μελλοντικών πολιτών κατά ένα τρόπο δίκαιο και αξιοπρεπή και η ξενοφοβία και ο ρατσισμός να στιγματιστούν ως στάσεις καταδικαστέες που πρέπει να αφεθούν οριστικά στο παρελθόν.

Η ευρωπαϊκή πολιτική σκλήρυνσης των συνόρων και έντασης του αποκλεισμού δεν έχει μέλλον, δημιουργεί μόνο πόνο και τις παραβιάσεις των δικαιωμάτων.



Greek Embassy/Consulate in [insert the consulate next to you!!]

Ministry of Citizen Protection of the Hellenic Republic

Ministry of Interior, Decentralisation and E-Government of the Hellenic Republic

Ministry of Health of the Hellenic Republic

Hunger strike of 300 migrants in Athens and Thessaloníki: Legalisation Now!

xx of February 2011

Ladies and Gentlemen,

we are writing to you on the occasion of the hunger strike of 300 migrants which is currently taking place in Athens and Thessaloníki. We have followed the situation of refugees and migrants in Greece. We are not surprised that – again – migrants feel compelled to choose such a strong measure to campaign for their rights: putting their lives at risk. We express our solidarity with their cause.

With this letter, we want to urge you to fulfil the demands of the hunger striking migrants, i.e. the unconditional legalisation of all migrants in Greece, before it is too late. We are acutely aware that the hunger strike is approaching its 30th day, and already, many hunger strikers had to be hospitalised. Their health and indeed their lives are at risk here, and it is the responsibility of the Greek government to resolve the situation immediately by decreeing a legalisation. In our understanding, this constitutes the only permanent and viable solution to the despicable situation of refugees and migrants in Greece, a political issue various Greek governments have struggled with unsuccessfully.

By following the migrants’ demands, the Greek government can send powerful political signals. A legalisation would be the strongest communication to the other EU member states that the current system of delegating responsibility to the fringes of Europe cannot continue and needs a courageous solution. A legalisation would also finally end the years of uncertainty migrants have been facing in Greece and attribute them their rights as part of the society that they have long earned by their labour in the Greek economy and the life they have led in Greece. A legalisation would also send a clear political message that it is necessary to deal with the new and (be)coming citizens in a fair, respectful and dignified way and that xenophobia and racism are damnable attitudes that better belong to the past.

The European answer of bordering and exclusion has no future, it only creates pain and violations of rights.

Assembly of the hunger strikers

Saturday, February 19, 2011

A letter from Libya

A Letter From One Human Being To Another.

I am urging all the international communities who believe in human rights and freedom of speech, in particular, the Obama administration, to Support the Libyan people and help them to express their views and voices, without fear of getting murdered.

The Libyan people wish to express their views via peaceful demonstrations without fearing for their lives. Why is the West turning a blind eye to what is currently happening across Libya?

In civil, western democratic Countries, you don't get shot, tortured or murdered for voicing your opinion. S0 why do western governments think that Libyan people don’t equally deserve to have these basic human rights?

It's a massacre by the criminal regime in Libya. Innocent people are getting murdered, tortured, threatened by SMS, murdered randomly by Secret Police and very intently by hired contractors aka African mercenaries brought in and paid specifically to murder. The regime is using helicopters to fire live ammunition from above on unarmed and peaceful demonstrators. The regime is closing hospitals and purposefully allowing medical supplies to run out.

Why isn't the western media allowed to bring the truth from inside Libya? Why is the regime state TV allowed to tell us that everything is fine?

Don’t be silent, express your voice, call upon your government and ask them to act. Act now before it's too late.

Friday, February 18, 2011

What if Libya Staged a Revolution and Nobody Came?

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Libyans are giving up their lives to overthrow Muammar al-Qaddafi. But is anyone paying attention?


Protests erupted in Libya Tuesday evening in the eastern center of Benghazi, prompted by the arrest of Libyan attorney and human rights activist Fathi Terbil early Tuesday morning -- two days ahead of Thursday's highly anticipated Feb. 17 "Day of Rage" planned in cities across the country. Terbil represents a group of families whose sons were massacred by Libyan authorities in 1996 in Tripoli's infamous Abu Salim prison, where an estimated 1,200 prisoners, mostly opponents of the regime, were rounded up and gunned down in the span of a few hours. The victims' bodies were reportedly removed from the prison (eyewitness accounts cite the use of wheel barrows and refrigerated trucks) and buried in mass graves, the whereabouts of which remain undisclosed by Libyan authorities to this day. Several years would pass before the regime finally began to notify some of the victims' families of the deaths, and it wasn't until 2004 that Libyan leader Muammar al-Qaddafi publicly admitted to the massacre at Abu Salim.

Terbil had been working closely with the victims' families, who in recent years have asked that authorities make public the circumstances surrounding the killings, as well as the location of the victims' graves. After Terbil's arrest Tuesday morning, several of the families gathered in front of police headquarters in the city of Benghazi to demand his release. According to sources inside the country, other Benghazi residents gradually began to join them, and by evening the crowd had swelled, with unconfirmed estimates ranging from several hundred to 2,000 protesters.

Although Terbil was eventually released, the crowd refused to disperse, and the protest soon transformed into an anti-government demonstration; video showing protesters calling for Benghazi residents to rise up began to circulate on the Internet. Among the chants heard were "Rise up oh Benghazi, the day you have been waiting for has come," "There is no god but God, and Muammar [al-Qaddafi] is the enemy of God," and "The people want the regime to fall." At one point in the evening, Al Jazeera Arabic managed to get Libyan writer and novelist Idris al-Mesmari on the phone during the protests in Benghazi; a breathless and agitated Mesmari confirmed that police were attacking the protesters before the connection was lost. Shortly thereafter, news surfaced of Mesmari's arrest by Libyan authorities, no doubt an unequivocal warning from the regime to those who dared communicate with the outside world.

In the meantime, Libyans residing abroad were receiving constant unconfirmed reports throughout the evening and into the early hours of the morning from contacts in Libya, which they circulated on Facebook and Twitter and tweeted to various news outlets, including BBC, CNN, Al Jazeera, and the Associated Press. Ironically, as hundreds of Libyans inside the country protested against the Qaddafi regime, Libyans outside the country were protesting the media's coverage of events. A group of Libyan activists and observers bombarded various news outlets with frustrated emails and tweets about both the lack of coverage and the inaccuracy of the little coverage that was given. Although multiple videos of the protests in Benghazi were circulated, Al Jazeera English posted a video that included footage of protests that were more than a year old, in addition to the more recent footage. It also initially cited the number of people killed in the Abu Salim prison massacre as 14 -- as opposed to 1,200 -- prompting exasperated tweets demanding that the news outlet check its facts and directing it to the Human Rights Watch report on the Abu Salim prison massacre.

For its part, the Associated Press initially circulated a report that induced a collective groan among Libyan observers; the report claimed that the protests had been directed not against Qaddafi, but against the current Libyan prime minister, Baghdadi al-Mahmoudi. Again, Libyan activists immediately blasted the AP on Facebook and Twitter for its irresponsible reporting, which contradicted video and eyewitness accounts coming from the country. Rather than actually listening to what protesters were chanting in the videos, it seems that the AP had drawn its information directly from Libyan state sources, albeit channeled through Quryna, a "private" newspaper effectively controlled by Saif al-Islam Qaddafi, the leader's son.

Although both Al Jazeera English and the Associated Press amended their reports after pressure from Libyan activists, the reporting on Tuesday's impromptu protests in Benghazi and the lack of information available to international media outlets are indicative of a much larger problem that Libyans have struggled with for decades: the creation of a virtual vacuum of information by the Qaddafi regime's strict censorship policies, highly restrictive press laws, and uncompromising repression of even the slightest expression of dissent. This has created considerable obstacles for Libyans both inside and outside the country attempting to communicate their struggles to the world.

Libyans are painfully aware of the fact that their country does not attract nearly the same level of interest as Egypt or Iran, except perhaps when it comes to the eccentricities of their notoriously flamboyant dictator. This, despite the fact that the Qaddafi regime has been in power significantly longer than nearly any other autocratic system, during which time it has proved itself among the world's most brutal and incompetent. Thus, from the moment a group of Libyans inside Libya -- taking a cue from their Tunisian and Egyptian neighbors -- announced plans for their own day of protest on Feb. 17, Libyan activists outside the country have been working tirelessly to get the word out, circulate audio and video, and pressure media outlets to report on Libya. If the Libyan protesters are ignored, the fear is that Qaddafi -- a man who appears to care little what the rest of the world thinks of him -- will be able to seal the country off from foreign observers, and ruthlessly crush any uprising before it even has a chance to begin. Eyewitness reports to this effect are already trickling in from Libya, and the death toll appears to be slowly mounting. Regrettably, international attention has thus far been minimal.

Another problem Libyans face is a lack of organization among potential demonstrators. Even for those who have followed events in Libya closely and are in contact with people inside the country it's difficult to gauge from the outside how organized the protesters are or how many people actually came out Thursday. For many, the outlook is a pessimistic one. Libya is a very large country with a relatively tiny population of 6.4 million scattered throughout its vast expanse, and the distance between its two most populous cities, Tripoli and Benghazi, is roughly 1,000 miles. In addition, unlike in Tunisia and Egypt, there exists not a single organized opposition group or political party in Libya capable of mobilizing people to come out and protest.

Furthermore, frustration with the regime is by many accounts much higher in the long neglected eastern regions of the country, leading to fears that protests will not extend to the west, and particularly to the country's major center, Tripoli (although discontent is high there as well).

A handful of Libyans residing inside the country have released video and audio calling on people to get out and protest, including a Tripolitanian woman who made an emotionally charged appeal to other Libyan women, "Rise up Libyan women! You are half of the society. Bring your husbands and your sons out!" Only a small percentage of Libyans have Internet access, but sources inside the country say tell me that while most people were aware of Feb. 17, the atmosphere in Libya has grown increasingly tense over the past days and weeks, with very few people willing to discuss the event openly.

In the coming days, the Qaddafi regime will no doubt continue to employ tactics meant to control the production of information coming into or out of Libya and to obscure as much as possible the realities on the ground -- this has long been the regime's modus operandi. As news of the Libyan regime's violent attempts to suppress peaceful protests continues to leak out of the country, it is the responsibility of the international media to be vigilant in reporting the story, and to report it accurately. Above all, they must not rely on Libyan state media for information and must make every effort to reach out to Libyan netizens, activists, and opposition groups, as well as to protesters inside the country, who are working tirelessly to communicate the details as they unfold. Moreover, it is the responsibility of the international community, including the United States government, to forcefully and unequivocally condemn the Libyan regime's attacks on peaceful protesters and to affirm their right to organize and express their grievances just as it has affirmed the rights of Egyptians and Iranians to do so. In the coming days, Qaddafi will likely try to take advantage of Libya's information vacuum to put down any uprising. If the international media and the world don't pay more attention, he will almost certainly succeed.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

February 11 - Day of the Egyptian Revolution!

By Al Jazeera Staff in on February 11th, 2011.

From our headquarters in Doha, we keep you updated on all things Egypt, with reporting from Al Jazeera staff in Cairo and Alexandria.

Live Blog: Jan28 - Jan29 - Jan30 - Jan31 - Feb1 - Feb2 - Feb3 - Feb4 - Feb5 - Feb6 - Feb7 - Feb8 - Feb9 - Feb10 - Feb11

The Battle for Egypt - AJE Live Stream - Timeline - Photo Gallery - AJE Tweets - AJE Audio Blogs

(All times are local in Egypt, GMT+2)

2:40am Headlines on the front page of Al Ahram, Egypt's largest - state-owned - newspaper from before and after the resignation of Mubarak. Above: "Millions out in support of Mubarak" - under: "The people overthrow the regime"

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2:10am Cairo's Tahrir Square still packed with people celebrating the resignation of Mubarak.

1:54am Moroccans also celebrate the demise of Mubarak by waving Egyptian flags in the streets of the Moroccan capital Rabat.

1:25am Lebanese and Egyptians are celebrating together in front of the Egyptian embassy in Beirut.

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1:21am The rise and fall of president Hosni Mubarak, by Al Jazeera's Alan Fisher:

1:08am In the northern town of Ismailia, crowds cheer and wave Egyptian flags, while in Suez, the armed forces are at the centre of the celebrations, Reuters reports.

1:06am In the streets of New York's "Little Egypt" Egyptian expatriates join their countrymen celebrating the fall of Mubarak. Dozens of people are blocking off a street, waving Egyptian flags and banners while chanting, "Praise be Allah" and "We live for Egypt to be proud."

1:00am Al Jazeera's Rawya Rageh reporting from Cairo says celebrations are ongoing throughout the city.

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12:35am Palestinians in Gaza are waving Egyptian flags and chant 'Long live Egypt' in a rally of thousands to celebrate
Mubarak's resignation.

12:00am Mubarak is gone - missed it? Go back to our live blog from February 11 - we will continue to bring you reactions to this from Egypt and all over the world.

The Story of 2 Days I spent at the Egyptian Intelligence

Related peace activists:

We are against what the army is doing to steal our revolutionWe are against what the army is doing to steal our revolutionLast Friday, the 4th of February, at night, I was arrested at one of the headquarters of the Egyptian intelligence. They were covering my eyes and there was a group of intelligence officers making conversations with many Egyptian activists who were arrested as me (9 of them were arrested while going out from El-Barada’i home). One of the intelligence officers told me in front of them “if we collected those 20 activists it would be 10% of what you did”, so I replied, “I am a humble person and I see that all of them are better than me”.

Before that, when I was writing about me being arrested or any abuse being practised against my rights, I considered this a type of an nonviolent war between me and the regime, meaning that that abuse my rights and I reply back by exposing them in front of the world, and the exposing usually makes good effect. But, this time I’m writing in a different way because this is the first time I feel that I’m a victim, and the first time I would be insulted that much. I’m writing this time not to take revenge, but to let people know what would happen to them if this revolution failed. Our revolution will protect us from these actions to be repeated against me and all of you.

Friday, 4th February – In front of the High Court

- I was heading to El-Tahrir in the noon of Friday Feb. 4th, to attend the protest. I went out from Gamal Abdlenaser Metro Station. Army officer standing beside a tank stopped me in the way to El-Tharir sq. and searched me 3 times, took my banners, my mobile and my ID then asked me to wait!
- “Civil state, not religious or military” , ” No for Omar Soliman or Ahmed Shafik “, ” 59 years are enough, Army” and ” My name is Maikel and will demonstrate despite the pop shenoda said” Was some slogans on my banners. Army officers were stopping any one with bags and i saw them not allowing people with Medical aids!
- I asked to speak to someone higher and he pointed his finger to some one civilian, told me he’s an intelligence officer, I went to him wondering, why are you not allowing me to enter while Omar Soliman and Ahmed Shafik Pledged to allow protesting?, he said “we have direct orders to don’t allow protesters to enter!” then he tied me from my back and connect me to the tank. People started to ask why I’m tied to the tank, I started to speak to them, so the intelligence officer took me to beside Revoli cinema theater to be away of people. I didn’t give up and started to chant against Hosni Mubarak and tell protesters to tell media that i got arrested. The intelligence officer came and slapped me on the face! And what really depressed me that people in the popular committees were helping the army to arrest me, thinking that the army is standing by us!

The Way to Unit 9770 c7

- A military police car with 440700 numbers came and took me, with a military police captain his name is” Mokhtar”. This captain was helping police by Ammo in the Friday of angry Jan. 28th, and then protests set his car in fire. He was insulting protesters along the way to our distention, and he beaten me on the head several times. I was surprised that he was passing on the popular committees with greeting some other civilian intelligence officers with some other Mubarak thugs and they were planning to arrest people heading to El-Tahrir sq.
- He drove his car through El-Sharabya, then stopped in a military area carrying the name” Unit 9770 c7 “. There were lots of arrested demonstrators there. There were also lots of foreigners, whom they ordered to leave the unit without their passports (because they burned their passports)
- At about 3:30 Pm, they tied my hands again behind me, and tied a cloth over my eyes. Then they put me in a microbus with other arrested demonstrators. Then we moved toward our unknown destination.

In the Intelligence Headquarters

- After around 30 minutes driving, the car stopped in an open silent place and it stopped there around 4 hours, we didn’t know where we are? And nobody told us anything. There was a near mosque, was praying “Elasr”, and “Elesha”. Army officers were really giving attention to me, because I was the only politician with political slogans in this group! Captain Mokhtar was Motivate others against me, we were hearing voices of people getting tortured. Officers around me were speaking about someone had been shoot in his leg because he tried to escape and he was bleeding without any help!
- They bring me alone away of others, and ”El-Zaffa” started. ” El-Zaffa” is an expression will-known by the old arrested people in Egypt and “El-Zaffa” is about high dose of beating and scaring that are given to new political prisoners! Someone was catching my nick and forced me to be bending over! And lots of beating sounds around me and some old intelligence officer was saying Rejoiced words!
- An army officer came to me and said this is The Headquarter of State Security Department, to remove suspicions about intelligence or army” and threatened me to be tortured if i didn’t complied with orders. He said “be quiet”, every few minutes some army officer was coming to me and asking about my name, my address, where i got arrested, and if answered the other officer beats me saying ” i said be quiet ” and if i didn’t answer he beats me and says ” answer”! And they kept doing the same stuff for around 30 minutes!
- Then, they started to move me and put me in different places, and every few minutes some army officers come and speak to me for a while. I’ve spoken to around different 10 army officers in that night! I think they were recording by video cam! This happened till 2.30 am, which means more than 6 hours of Investigations! They speak with me about my pacifism, my refusal to the military service, and why this revolution must be ended because the president did all what we asked about!
- Investigations with each activist and been heard by some other activist deliberately, i have heard some Investigations with others and i believe the same thing happened with me! They were targeting to be heard while saying what they want after all torture we got! And when activists listen to each other will lose their respect to their selves! That’s why when they met me with some youth from El-Barada’i campaign i said these youth are heroes and better than me, i did that because i want to confirm that we all respect each-others!
- It was very clear that all officers have personal loyalty to Mubarak, i was very sad about the Egyptian army because it has loyalty to a dictator! I envy Tunisia about its army!
- There was a very Sassy army officer, i think he was the same person that received me by beating in” El-Zaffa”. He told me that he’s 50 years old; he seemed to be a leader in the intelligence! He said, ” Would you serve in the army, Maikel? ” i said ” No.” then he started discussing me about my pacifist beliefs , they didn’t respect the freedom of belief, he said “You’ll serve in the army.” i said that won’t happen.” he said “you’ll get Court-martial” i said ” i choose by myself to get Court-martial when i refused to serve in the army, so it’s OK to get it now.”, also he was very nervous from the foreign persons I contact through my Email, it seems they’re no happy with my work with the pacifist European organizations !
- They were playing the old ” good officer” and ” evil officer” game, a one dealing with us in a bad way and the other one dealing in a very kind way!
- They were ridiculing on Christianity all the time, they gave care to know if I’m Orthodox, Catholic, or Protestant, and they listen me to the lord’s prayer!
- They used to assert always that there’s no law here to protect us, and they can make with us however they want, honestly it was true! We were treated as captured enemy soldiers at war. All the time, we were tied from our backs, blinded, blending over, don’t know where we are, and we were not allowed to speak with each others! It’s really not the way to deal with good citizens in their homeland!
- At 2.30 am they let me sleep alone on open air on ground, i wasn’t with others, ” like Solitary” they didn’t give me a blanket like others, but gave me a carpet, and it was very rough, all my hands had been hurt because of it!
- I spent around 29 hours, till i been freed in the second day, but i was unblinded only in the toilet, and this was the time that i know what time was!

Sexual harassment!

- The first, sexual harassment I experienced was from a small officer that arrested me in downtown, he searched my genitals, but I passed this situation as a part of searching!
- Second, in ” El-Zaffa” when they was catching my nick, and making me bend over and someone from the back trying to lower my jeans to give me impression that I’ll be raped!
- Third, Conscripts, were taking me from officer to other, one of them entered his hands inside my jeans and held me from my boxer!
- They were dealing with me like a female, some officer was speaking to his colleague like” I’ll come to you after I finish with her”
- I faced higher officers with that stuff and they acted like they don’t know, but in the second day these things stopped!

Freedom again, Saturday Feb. 5th 2011

- In the second day we spent till 2.30 pm in open air place and it was raining but they didn’t give a damn to move us to a different place! at 2.30 they moved me to the prison area, they were releasing many people, it was around 8 prisons each floor, the building was two floors, ” around 16 prison”, which means that they had over 300 prisoners. One prison had arrested female demonstrators, and they weren’t allowing the girls to go to the toilets!
- They were releasing everybody and put me in a corner without knowing what will happen to me! They were also bringing new arrested people that confirming the fake of Ahmed Shafik and Omar Soliman statements! At 6.30 Pm they put handcuffs in my hands, i scared because it was the first time in two days (they were tying me with a rope before). They well blinded my eyes, and they woke me long time in sand, i felt they will shoot me” they were criminals’, but they stopped a cab, put me inside, and asked me not to open my eyes except after minutes. I was only caring to go out this place alive! Two days with lots of scare and pain, i don’t want anyone to get similar experience in his/her life! After the cab drove for a while i unblinded my eyes, to see myself in El-Tayaran ST. in Nasr city, so i knew that i was in some military place in Raba’a El-Adawya in Nasr city!

My Last Comments:

- Although that i get the hardest days in my life, but after i was freed i started to feel how these people are cowards, they were scared to show their faces, or to let us know our place, we were tied from the backs, in front of them without weapons, and also they were scared! Never mind, freedom has a price, but they tried to give us the feeling that we’re weak, but we’re strong, there’s a difference between Strength and violence. We are stronger, and they are more violent. In some day Egypt will give everyone been tortured, in 59 years of military ruling his/her right!
- My message to protester in El-Tahrir, don’t give up, you have to continue what you started, that sq. is the only pressure we have, and we must not lose it. This revolution must be continued, because if it didn’t all Egypt will get what i got and maybe more! I’ll be back to El-Tahrir again after i recover within days!
- Again, I’ve been very sad, because the army Loyalty is to Mubarak not to Egypt, but i see people in El-Tahrir are very awared and they didn’t allow tanks to go inside the sq., take care, army is not with us, don’t lose the square,
- And my message to the officers who violated my rights, i know many things about you, and every time i know more. Don’t worry, you’ll be courted sometime!

Thanks for Mahmoud Saber, for the translation

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

The US role in Egypt

"We want our Egypt, not Mubarak"

1 February 2011. A World to Win News Service.
Whether or not Hosni Mubarak's reign will come to an end is no longer the question. How he goes, and what this transition leads to, is what is being fought out.

As men and women dressed in business suits as well as torn sandals jubilantly swelled the size of the demonstrations by a hundred-fold in a week, many people thought that the "march of a million" 1 February would end in victory. They thought Mubarak would go, the tanks would leave the streets and the country would be theirs.

What American and European governments consider most important is what they call an "orderly transition". When the Egyptian president announced that he will stay in office until his terms expires in September, he argued that the only choice was a transition under him or "chaos". Some Egyptians were swayed by Mubarak's argument. Die-hard regime supporters were emboldened by U.S. President Barack Omaba's failure to call for Mubarak to step down immediately.

But "order" is not the main priority of many of the millions who have been demanding "Mubarak out!" They took Mubarak's speech as a gesture of defiance and contempt for the people. They were infuriated by his vow to remain on Egyptian soil to the end of his days. At the massive gatherings in in Cairo and Alexandria, he had already been hung in effigy.

It might seem simple for the U.S. to just dump a hated, discredited and isolated autocrat. The fact that the U.S. has so stubbornly resisted that step so far is a sign that things are not so simple, even if the U.S. does end up taking that route.

It must have been infuriating for Egyptians to hear Secretary of State Hillary Clinton argue on 31 January that the U.S. can't tell Mubarak to go because that is up to Egyptians to decide. It is the Egyptian army that has kept Mubarak in power, and it is the U.S., to a large degree, that tells that army what to do.

In late January, as the revolt mounted, the head of the Egyptian armed forces and his staff were conferring with the American government and military in Washington. If they had been told that Mubarak must go immediately – as happened with the Shah of Iran in 1979 and may have been the case with the Ben Ali regime in French-dominated and less strategically important Tunisia – then one way or another Mubarak would have been gone. Even if the U.S. dumps him now, events have already proved that this has not been the U.S.'s preferred outcome.

No matter what changes the U.S. ends up having to accept, it will do its best to minimize the role of the people and avoid encouraging their movement. That is one important reason why the U.S. has preferred that Mubarak be allowed a dignified exit and not be seen as driven out by "the street", with what that might mean for other U.S.-dependent Arab regimes. But above all it wants to make sure that whether or not Mubarak is able to preside over the transition, the regime he built and led remains as intact as possible.

The army: not neutral

While Obama's support for Mubarak was qualified and not necessarily permanent, he was effusive in his praise for the Egyptian army and the way it has handled the protest movement.

During the upsurge before 1 February, the police had been unable to stop the demonstrators, although they killed hundreds and badly hurt many more. In many cases people attacked the police and put them on the run. Armoured cars were pulled down and burned in Cairo and Alexandria. In several cities police stations were assaulted and destroyed. A wave of looting seems to have been largely the work of the police themselves.

People organised neighbourhood roadblocks and crudely-armed groups to protect lives and property. They also organised to protect themselves against provocateurs, clean up the streets and preserve public sanitation and pass out tea and food in Cairo's Tahrir (Liberation) Square, a highly symbolic location named after the 1952 army coup that brought down the British-controlled monarchy, as well as in front of the main mosque in Alexandria. They proudly explained to reporters that the square and the country now belonged to them.

But the army remained omnipresent, demonstrating its power. It lined Cairo's avenues and bridges with armoured vehicles and massed about a hundred new U.S.-supplied tanks around the square. To prevent people from converging on the capital and Alexandria, it cut off the roads and public transportation linking Cairo and other major cities with the provincial towns. Soldiers searched people as they entered the rally and checked IDs. Helicopters filmed the crowds from above. American and French-made fighter planes buzzed Tahrir Square. The military erected a protective wall around Mubarak's residence.

Keeping order while the people want to overthrow the regime is not a neutral act. After Mubarak's non-resignation speech, many protesters suddenly feared that if he wasn't going to resign after all, they might be hunted and punished.

Whose army is it?

If it is true, as some reporters surmise, that the U.S. told the Egyptian military at Tahrir Square that it should refrain from a "Tienanmen" solution, when the Chinese government gunned down a square full of protesters, it is not because anyone in the Obama administration or Washington's corridors of power cares more about Egyptian lives than American interests, but because if the army does open fire on demonstrators in a sustained way – rather than firing into the air, as it has done sporadically so far – the situation may spin even further out of control politically.

The U.S. financed, armed and trained these armed forces and has paid close attention to their military and political training. It is the biggest Arab army and the tenth biggest in the world. Its intelligence service reaches into every corner of society and its prisons and torture chambers are among the world's most fearsome. It would be hard to exaggerate the ties between these armed forces and the U.S. Almost all of U.S. financial aid to Egypt, 1.3 out of 1.5 billion dollars a year, goes to the military. Over the past decades the only country anywhere to receive more American aid has been Israel.

The army is not only the ultimate protector of the state, it is also Egypt's single most powerful economic force. It owns a network of factories, hotels, real estate and other businesses. Further, retired generals run many state-owned enterprises, such as the textile mills that have historically been core components of the country's export-oriented economy, along with the state-run petroleum industry. This makes the army a partner as well as a political and military enabler of Egypt's domination by foreign capital and the imperialist world market.

There are undoubtedly real differences between the wealthy, modernized army and Egypt's petty criminal police who pick the people's pockets for bribes. The police, not the army, have been in charge of street-level repression for decades, and that has had an affect on how the army is seen. It was no accident that the first minister Mubarak threw overboard in an attempt to appease the people was his hated Minister of the Interior.

Further, the armed forces have been able to preserve something of a nationalist aura because of their role in the struggle against British domination, from overthrowing the monarchy to defending Egypt against the 1956 British-French-Israeli invasion when Egypt nationalized the formerly British-controlled Suez Canal. It is also highly regarded for defending the country against the 1967 Israeli invasion that seized Egypt's Sinai Peninsula, and its military successes in the 1973 war with Israel which eventually led to Egypt's getting the Sinai back. Many people, it seems, are also confused by the fact that the army is made up of conscripts.

But the army and the police may be playing the kind of "good cop, bad cop" division of labour familiar around the world. What is probably most fundamental in the unfounded hopes that the army will "support the people" against Mubarak is that the people understand very well what it would mean if the army does not.

Mubarak and the army

Mubarak responded to the revolt against him by making the head of intelligence his vice-president – his first vice president and therefore official successor if Mubarak resigns. Omar Suleiman has been in charge of repression for decades and makes frequent trips to Washington and Tel Aviv. A U.S diplomatic cable released by WikiLeaks says that he is one of the Egyptian officials most trusted by the U.S. government. Mubarak made the current air force chief Ahmad Shafiq his prime minister. He also met with his regional military commanders.

Although Mubarak, like his predecessors Gamal Nasser and Anwar Sadar, is a product of the armed forces, until now there has been at least the claim of a separation between the military and the government. Top officers, for instance, were not allowed to be members of Mubarak's party, and most of his recent (and now ex-) ministers have been civilian businessmen and so-called "technocrats". This moving of the army into the centre of the government has two aims: to overrule the people's movement and keep Mubarak on top as long as possible, and to ensure that if the autocrat does go down the military will preserve regime continuity. This seems to reflect the U.S.'s dual tactics in this situation.

But even the militarisation of Mubarak's government, while meant to be a show of strength, has had negative political effects in identifying the military with U.S./Mubarak rule and widening the target of the people's anger. Chants have arisen demanding the departure of the generals as well as Mubarak himself, all of them seen as U.S. puppets by some people. They are disgusted by the fact that Suleiman, Mubarak's chief negotiator and collaborator with Israel, is now calling for opposition parties to negotiate with him.

The things they do can undo them

One of the most important lessons to be learned from the sudden new situation in Egypt and throughout the Middle East is that the very things that the U.S. has done to keep the region under its heel have created huge problems for continuing American domination.

In addition to the U.S.'s dilemma concerning Mubarak's personal future, the other clearest case of this contradiction is the role of Israel as a factor for regional instability. As a settler state and the only society in the region the U.S. can count on, American domination of the region would be much more difficult without this highly militarized outpost. The current situation in the Arab world highlights Israel's centrality to the U.S., even while it also highlights the problems Israel creates for the U.S.-led empire.

In addition to burning down the 15-storey headquarters of Mubarak's political party and attacking the Ministry of the Interior, crowds have besieged and assaulted the Foreign Ministry building. People throughout the Middle East hate what Israel does to the Palestinians, and solidarity with Palestine has been a feature of the upsurges in Egypt, Tunisia and Jordan (half of whose population is Palestinian). Such openly "police state" regimes and monarchies are not only U.S client states in a general sense, they are bulwarks against the Palestinians and pro-Palestinian sentiments among their own people. For example, the Mubarak regime has worked with Israel in the lock-down of the people of Gaza and attempts to control Palestinian politics.

Obama's Secretary of State says she is worried that what follows Mubark may be "not democratic". This is generally taken to express a fear that Mubarak's downfall might favour the Egyptian Moslem Brotherhood, historically the father of modern Sunni Islamic fundamentalism and "political Islam" in general. That is one possibility. Even though Islamic fundamentalism does not seek to break with the imperialist world market and the economic and social relations that market imposes, still the Islamicist movement threatens to disrupt the status quo, the present configuration of the Middle East on which U.S. domination depends. But as we've seen in Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and elsewhere, as bad as the rise of Islamism can be for the interests of the American empire, it is also a disaster for the people.

In the past the U.S. and Israel helped build up the Brotherhood in order to undermine more radical secular movements. To this day the relations between the Mubarak government and the Brotherhood are complicated and sometimes ambiguous. The Brotherhood has been allowed to hold seats in parliament until recently and stills operates semi-openly, even while officially illegal and often repressed. Suleiman has been both Mubarak's chief of anti-fundamentalist operations and a man said to enjoy the respect of Islamic forces. The regime cracked down at least as hard, if not harder, on shoots of the leftist secular opposition, such as appeared in opposition to the impending U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003.

The Brotherhood, for its part, stayed out of the current revolt until it seemed on the verge of victory, and even now insists that it wants to play a subordinate role and not seek power – for now. Yet the U.S.'s stubbornness in clinging to Mubarak and its determination to continue humiliating the Egyptian people even after Mubarak, the vacillating role of some secular forces and the identification of the regime with Israel are all factors that could prove favourable to expanding the influence of the Islamic movement, especially (but not only) in the absence of a revolutionary alternative.

Can the U.S. be a force for democracy?

It would be funny if it weren't so criminal to hear the U.S. talk about the need for "free, fair and credible elections" in Egypt now, since only a few months ago, in November 2010, when Mubarak held parliamentary elections that were anything but what these words describe, the whole Western political establishment went along with them. And when Obama talks about "shared values" between the U.S. and Egypt, it should be remembered that what the U.S. has long shared with Mubarak are not only the tear gas canisters, bullets and tanks used to repress the Egyptian people but also the regime's torture chambers. Since 1995, on orders from Secretary of State Clinton's husband, President Bill Clinton, the U.S. has been turning over its captives to the Mubarak regime for torture in a CIA "rendition" programme.

How could it be otherwise, when the interests of the U.S. and its European allies require dominating countries like Egypt by any means possible? The monopoly capitalist countries cannot act otherwise because their position in the world (including major sources of their wealth and their success in rivalry with each other) is based on the financial and political subjugation of the vast majority of the world's people. Within this division of the world, the U.S. has its own particular national interests and neocolonies.

Therefore the basic interests of the imperialist ruling classes, including that of the U.S. (and not just the government under any particular president or prime minister) are in opposition to the democratic demands of the people in the countries they dominate, for political rights and especially the equality of nations and the right of self-determination for oppressed nations. In general imperialism tends to deny or limit the kind of bourgeois-democratic forms of rule (equal rights for all, especially as manifested in elections) that have generally marked monopoly capitalist rule in the imperialist home countries, where the whole purpose of such structures is to preserve the system and smooth functioning of what is, in essence, the dictatorship of the monopoly capitalist class. For instance, former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair now admits that his government took part in the invasion of Iraq against the will of the British people. As we have seen in the U.S., UK and other rich countries lately, even there these rights and basic structures can be modified or abandoned when the rule and interests of monopoly capitalism require that.

It's true that the U.S. has been worried about the narrow social base of its client regimes in the Middle East, and now that a crisis has broken out it will put some reforms into motion. It is telling that such wishes did not become a priority for the U.S. in Egypt until the people pushed the Mubarak regime to the edge of a cliff. As the leading American imperialist political counsellor Robert D. Kaplan wrote about Tunisia, "In terms of American interests and regional peace, there is plenty of peril in democracy. It was not democrats, but Arab autocrats, Anwar Sadat [Mubarak's predecessor] of Egypt and [former] King Hussein of Jordan, who made peace with Israel. An autocrat firmly in charge can make concessions more easily than a weak, elected leader... In fact, do we really want a relatively enlightened leader like King Abdullah in Jordan undermined by street demonstrations? We should be careful what we wish for in the Middle East." (The New York Times, 22 January 2011)

Washington may sometimes desire that its client regimes could enjoy more stability by being less openly autocratic, but it is the maintenance of client or otherwise pliable regimes that is the U.S.'s basic aim. All talk about elections and "democracy" is subordinate to those interests. Lebanon is the only Arab country that can be reasonably described as having an elected government. Yet this month when Hezbollah was able to play the decisive role in naming a new prime minister by entirely legal and constitutional means, the U.S. became enraged and determined to punish the country. When Hamas (closely tied to the Moslem Brotherhood in Egypt) won elections in Gaza, the U.S. and its allies cried "terrorism" and have supported Israel's collective punishment of the Gaza people for their impudence. In a different kind of example, Turkey, whose governing Justice and Development party (AKP) is a close ally of Washington, has not gone along with Israeli massacres to the degree required by Obama and U.S. interests.

Denial of democracy and democratic illusions

Yet the fact that people's democratic demands are thwarted in the countries oppressed by imperialism is both a source of instability and rebellion, and of illusions among the people. The U.S. and its allies will do their best to limit the achievements of popular movements to reforms, especially some sorts of elections and rights, however limited they must be to preserve imperialist domination. In Egypt, we can be sure that whatever such reforms do occur will be meant to rob the people of their greatest achievement so far, their leap from enforced political passivity to single-minded determination to bring about real change.

The problem for Egypt as for the whole third world is not just the political structures imposed by imperialism, but the whole economic and social structure of society on which the political institutions are based. The Egyptian people's humiliation and misery has deepened as the country has become more fully integrated into the world market over the past decade. Even the country's relatively high economic growth rate, while winning the praise of the IMF and other imperialist institutions, has brought more hardship for the majority.

No regime can oppose imperialism in any long-term and consistent way unless it breaks free of dependency on the imperialist world market in the organization of its economy as well as in the political sphere. This means a revolution that is not bourgeois-democratic, or in other words not aimed at achieving equal rights within the overall imperialist world order, which is generally impossible for structurally oppressed and dependent countries, but what Mao Tsetung called a New Democratic Revolution, a revolution to break the chains of feudalism and imperialist-dependent capitalism that make a country susceptible to foreign political subjugation.

Instead of more becoming more and more entangled in imperialist globalization, which relies on local reactionary classes to impose a political rule that favours the country's subordination to global capital and lopsided development, New Democracy is a transition to a whole new system, socialism, that can break with world capitalism, a revolution in alliance with the world's peoples whose ultimate goal is the defeat of the world capitalist system and its replacement by a world without imperialism or classes, a world of freely associating human beings, communism.

As Egyptians tell anyone who will listen, the demands now uniting the people against Mubarak are an expression of a burning determination to have their own country back. That is what the U.S. cannot agree to, no matter how much it might have to adjust its actions to further its interests in the complex context of what is possible and not just what Washington might want.

The idea of an Egypt without Mubarak is as exhilarating to the Egyptian people as it is frightening for those who run the U.S. and all the regimes through which the U.S. dominates the region. The result has been a fierce tug of war between the Egyptian people and the U.S. that is likely to have far-reaching consequences for the Egyptian people, the region and the U.S.