A. Loewenstein Online Newsletter



Happenings inside the Egypt elite are anything but democratic
Posted: 14 Feb 2011 03:13 PM PST

The leadership is scheming, refusing to release political prisoners or investigate the stolen billions of Mubarak. And Omar Suleiman, the torturer in chief loved by America and Israel, remains a very powerful figure.
Some Arabic media translated here and here.

Only an Israeli or American openly boasts about crimes
Posted: 14 Feb 2011 03:02 PM PST

Jewish American blogger Richard Silverstein has the news:

Haaretz has just published a story that will certainly disappear due to gag order.  In it, Anshel Pfeffer writes that Gabi Ashkenazi prepared a video celebrating his achievements as chief of staff, which was screened at a party marking his final day on the job.  What is extraordinary about the video is that among the successes of his time in office it credits the bombing of the Syrian nuclear reactor and the Stuxnet virus attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities.  Israel has never publicly acknowledged responsibility for either.

We see the Iranian call for freedom
Posted: 14 Feb 2011 02:23 PM PST

“Mobarak, Zine [al-Abidine Ben] Ali and now it’s the turn of Seyd Ali [Khamenei]”


Sensible American writer who doesn’t loathe political Islam
Posted: 14 Feb 2011 06:04 AM PST

Roger Cohen in a very powerful column today in the New York Times:

Perhaps the most effective antidote to 9/11 will prove to be 2/11, the day Hosni Mubarak conceded the game was up with his 30-year-old dictatorship and left town under military escort for the beach.
We’ve tried invasions of Muslim lands. We’ve tried imposing new systems of government on them. We’ve tried wars on terror. We’ve tried spending billions of dollars. What we haven’t tried is tackling what’s been rotten in the Arab world by helping a homegrown, bottom-up movement for change turn a U.S.-backed police state into a stable democracy.
This is the critical opportunity Egypt now presents. Islamist radicalism has thrived on the American double standards evident in strong support for the likes of Mubarak’s regime. It has prospered from the very brutal repression that was supposedly essential to stop the jihadists. And it has benefited from the reduction of tens of millions of Arab citizens to mere objects, shorn of dignity, and so more inclined to seek meaning in absolutist movements of violence.
If Westernized Egyptians and the Muslim Brotherhood can coexist in Egypt’s nascent Second Republic, and if a long-subjugated Arab people can show that it’s an actor of history rather than its impotent pawn, the likelihood of another Mohamed Atta walking the streets of Cairo will recede.
In 18 riveting days, Egypt has become a key to the unresolved 9/11 conundrum, the one President Obama promised to tackle by building bridges to the Muslim world, before Afghanistan diverted him.
“If we get Egypt right, it could be the best medicine to get rid of radicalism,” Mohamed ElBaradei, the Nobel Prize-winning opposition figure, told me.

Revolutions, like wars, have their interludes of boredom. They were filled with chat. And what did Egyptians find? Here’s one scene: Marwa Kassem, 33, Westernized, living in Geneva, talking to bearded Magdy Ashour of Muslim Brotherhood sympathies. She’d rushed to Cairo after the uprising began. He’d joined the protests after a friend was killed. If they’d passed each other in the street a month ago, each would have pulled back from the other, divided by fear.
He tells her he was arrested at regular intervals. How often? Sometimes twice a month. And? Ashour’s 14-year-old son is watching. He asks him to leave, saying “I want to show him freedom, not my cowardice.”
A frisson of tension stirs. Ashour stands up. They stripped me naked, he says, blindfolded me. He links his hands behind his back: this is how Mubarak’s security goons shackled him. They hung me from a hook on the wall, he says. Then came the electric shocks: to his toes, nipples, genitals.
There are tears in his eyes now. There are tears in Kassem’s, too. He pulls up his pants to his knee, revealing a terrible black scar on his calf. She cannot look. Why this treatment? “They wanted to know if I knew Osama bin Laden.”
What they both want now, this secular woman and this religious man, these two Egyptians, is a state of laws and rights.
Overcome 9/11 through 2/11: the road to reconciliation leads not through Baghdad or Kabul but through Tahrir.

ABCTV News 24 on Egypt and Wikileaks
Posted: 14 Feb 2011 05:37 AM PST

I was a guest on last night’s ABCTV News 24′s The Drum alongside Sue Cato and the Daily Telegraph’s Joe Hilderbrand (video here).
One of the main areas of discussion was the Egyptian revolution and just how good it felt. I argued that it was vital for us in the West to understand that Egypt’s “stability” was simply about repressing its own people, assisting Israel in its occupation of the Palestinians and maintaining the illegal siege on Gaza. So much for “moderation”. Furthermore, Washington isn’t seen as a neutral broker, of course; they’re complicit in decades of violence.
Islamism must not be so feared. Not every Islamist is an al-Qaeda member. Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood should be engaged. One of the great failings of Western policy post 9/11 has been its unwillingness to see political Islam as anything other than a threat. The result is the lessening of American influence in the Middle East by so slavishly following Israel’s racism towards the Arabs. This is something I welcome but these facts need to be stated over and over again.
I also stressed that Australia had no right to speak about the rule of rule when it’s now clear that Australian citizen Mamdouh Habib was tortured in Egypt, by Mubarak’s thugs including Omar Suleiman, in the years after 9/11. Is there anything Canberra won’t do to please Washington?
Finally, the reporter behind last night’s Wikileaks/Bradley Manning story on ABC TV’s 4 Corners talked about the complex web of intrigue around the case, highlighting the fact that Manning should be seen as a true hero, if he was indeed the one who leaked all this information (that’s my view, not the one expressed by the journalist on air).

Because Iran deserves to be truly free
Posted: 14 Feb 2011 05:02 AM PST

I stand in solidarity with the brave Iranians protesting today against a brutal police state.


Who says Abu Ghraib is bad for business?
Posted: 13 Feb 2011 09:07 PM PST

Private contractor CACI provided some of the torturers at Abu Ghraib in Iraq.
So it therefore makes sense, following the rules of crony capitalism, that a rebounding economy is suiting CACI just fine:

CACI, an Arlington County-based defense contractor, hired 3,500 people in its last fiscal year and plans 4,000 hires this year. It has been adding so many people that it recently had to bring on five more recruiters to help sort through the candidates.
“We’re right in the sweet spot,” said Larry Clifton, the company’s senior vice president in charge of recruiting.
With such a high demand for top employees, he has started to go after promising undergraduates in their junior year, “taking them off the market before competitors get to them.”
Instead of offering just a summer internship program, the company has year-round internships for Washington area college students so they can work part time and make money for school.


Today’s lesson in US foreign policy (back dictators and say it’s democracy)
Posted: 13 Feb 2011 07:52 PM PST

Washington Stakeout interviews John McCain and Newt Gingrich on US reaction to the fall of Mubarak.
If there’s any need to understand why the US is increasingly loathed across the world, note the words of these supposedly wild old men.

I asked: “Do we owe the Egyptian people an apology for having backed a tyrant for 30 years?”
McCain: “Hindside is 20/20. … There’s many ways this government has been helpful to us,” specifically siting Israeli politics toward the Palestinians, like the siege of Gaza that the Mubarak regime coordinated with Israel.
McCain added: “I can’t apologize for what happened in Indonesia, for what happened in the Philippines, for what happened Romania.”
This was a rather remarkable comment. In part because it highlights that McCain recognizes that this backing dictators is a pattern in U.S. policy, that he refuses to apologize for, virtually guaranteeing its continuation.
It also mirrors recent comments by Noam Chomsky: “The United States, so far, is essentially following the usual playbook. I mean, there have been many times when some favored dictator has lost control or is in danger of losing control. There’s a kind of a standard routine—Marcos [Philippines], Duvalier [Haiti], Ceausescu [Romania], strongly supported by the United States and Britain, Suharto [Indonesia]: keep supporting them as long as possible; then, when it becomes unsustainable—typically, say, if the army shifts sides—switch 180 degrees, claim to have been on the side of the people all along, erase the past, and then make whatever moves are possible to restore the old system under new names. That succeeds or fails depending on the circumstances. …”


Should the U.S. apologize the the Egyptian people for materially backing a tyrant for 30 years? Gingrich: “I don’t think the U.S. has much to apologize for, I think we’ve been a force, basically for good in most of the planet.”



A welcome marriage between liberalism and Islam?
Posted: 13 Feb 2011 07:39 PM PST

Anthony Shadid writes for the New York Times from Cairo:

There is a fear in the West, one rarely echoed here, that Egypt’s revolution could go the way of Iran’s, when radical Islamists ultimately commandeered a movement that began with a far broader base. But the two are very different countries. In Egypt, the uprising offers the possibility of an accommodation with political Islam rare in the Arab world — that without the repression that accompanied Mr. Mubarak’s rule, Islam could present itself in a more moderate guise.
Egypt’s was a revolution of diversity, a proliferation of voices — of youth, women and workers, as well as the religious — all of which will struggle for influence. Here, political Islam will most likely face a new kind of challenge: proving its relevance and popularity in a country undergoing seismic change.


No peace treaty ever told Egypt to banish Arabs
Posted: 13 Feb 2011 05:30 PM PST

Ali Abunimah is spot on:

On many minds — especially Israeli and American ones — has been the question of whether a new democratic Egyptian government will tear up the 1979 peace treaty with Israel. That of course, is up to the Egyptian people, although the transitional military government confirmed in its fourth statement Egypt’s adherence to “all international and regional treaties.”
But the treaty is not really the issue. Even if democratic Egypt maintains the treaty, the treaty never required Egypt to join Israeli and American conspiracies against other Arabs. It never required Egypt to become the keystone in an American-led alliance with Israel and Saudi Arabia against an allegedly expansionist Iran. It never required Egypt to adopt and disseminate the vile “Sunni vs. Shia” sectarian rhetoric that was deliberately used to try to shore up this narrative of confrontation. It never required Egypt to participate in Israel’s cruel siege of Gaza or collaborate closely with its intelligence services against Palestinians. It never required Egypt to become a world center of torture for the United States in its so-called “War on Terror.” The treaty did not require Egypt to shoot dead migrants crossing Sinai from other parts of Africa just to spare Israelis from seeing black people in Tel Aviv. No treaty required or requires Egypt to carry on with these and so many more shameful policies that earned Hosni Mubarak and his regime the hatred of millions of Arabs and others far beyond Egypt’s borders.

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