Monday, January 31, 2011

CIA funded company: "Mubarak off to Saudi Arabia..."

Hosni Mubarak’s 30-year rule of Egypt is probably coming to an end, and that means he’ll likely leave Egypt right after he leaves power. (Dictators don’t usually stick around the countries they dictated.) So where would Mubarak flee? One data mining company, backed by the investment arms of Google and the CIA, has an educated guess.
Recorded Future scours tens of thousands of websites, blogs, and Twitter accounts to find the so-called “invisible links” between people, actions, and events. In this case, the company turned its tools on Mubarak’s travel patterns to find clues to his next moves. The guy isn’t exactly posting his post-regime plans on his Facebook wall. But, by looking at public documents about where Mubarak has been and who he hangs with, some likely destinations for his exile emerge.
“If you want to know where he’s going next,” says Recorded Future CEO Christopher Ahlberg, “you’ve got to know what he’s done in the past.”
The reasons why he travels matter, too. Mubarak flew both to Germany and France last year: once for cancer treatment, and a second time for suspected health reasons. It suggests that the 83 year-old leader would rather land in a country first first class medical facilities (at least for former strongmen).  Some of Mubarak’s other destinations this year — like Libya, Sudan, and Algeria — don’t really fit that bill.
On the other hand, European countries — especially ones with large Arab minorities — might be a little skittish about taking such an unpopular figure. So Germany or France might not be the best choice for Mubarak’s retirement home.
Saudi Arabia is another frequent Mubarak destination. He was there in January, 2009, huddling with King Abdullah, and again in July, 2010, talking about the Lebanese political crisis. Mubarak and King Abdullah were supposed to meet again in November — although Abdullah called off the trip at the last minute, because of health issues.
A few days ago, the Saudi ruler blamed “intruders” for allegedly “tampering with Egypt’s security and stability… in the name of freedom of expression.” And earlier in the month, Saudi Arabia took in ousted Tunisian dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. No wonder, then, that one chant in Egypt goes: “Hosni Mubarak, Hosni Mubarak, the plane is waiting, the plane is waiting. Saudi Arabia is not far!”
Recorded Future’s analysts believe that Saudi Arabia is Mubarak’s next destination, too.
The company attracted millions of dollars from Google Ventures and from In-Q-Tel, the investment arm of the U.S. intelligence community, based on the promise that it can forecast coming events automatically. The comapny’s scouring of present and past information is supposed to feed predictive algorithms, which offer likely future outcomes.
But in the case, “humans put it together. No predictive model. No data models,” Ahlberg says.
If that’s not a ringing endorsement of Recorded Future’s predictive powers, consider the performance of one potential competitor. An Air Force-funded firm, Milcord, used a statistical model to put together a list of the 37 countries most likely to see political violence by 2014. Egypt was ranked #36, just ahead of Belgium.

"Post-Mubarak transition" as seen in Washington ...


".... “Omar Suleiman and Tantawi think that the critical thing for the future of Egypt is that there be no confrontation between the military and the people,” said Cohen, president of the Institute for Middle East Peace and Development and a former consultant to the National Intelligence Council. “Their thinking is, if there is a split between the popular will and the military, the whole state of Egypt no longer has its basis of legitimacy.” 
 
That judgment is significant, Cohen said: “By saying that there cannot be a confrontation between the military and the demonstrators, they are basically telling Mubarak the game is over for him." The assessment came as the Egyptian army issued a formal statement Monday saying that it would not use force against the Egyptian people .....  Tantawi and Suleiman “have different ideas about how the transition can take place,” Cohen said...."

"و ضربت عليهم الذلة و المسكنة و بائوا بغضب من الله ..."

Senior US Official: "I don't think there's any kind of pressure on President Mubarak to enact reforms..."


"... In a Feb. 26, 2007, interview with Lamees El-Hadidi of Egyptian Television Channel One, Ricciardone was asked what kind of pressure the U.S. government was placing on Mubarak to enact human rights and political reform. He said there was none. "I don't think there's any kind of pressure. There's an exchange of ideas and advice between friends within an atmosphere of constant dialogue, so I don't think there's any kind of pressure," Ricciardone said...."

Senior US Official: "Mubarak is a respected giant who could win elections in the United States..."


"... a closer look at the statements made by U.S. officials helps explain the antipathy toward the United States that some protesters -- including potential presidential candidate Mohamed ElBaradei, who blasted America's "failed policy" in Egypt -- have expressed. From 2005 to 2008, Frank Ricciardone was the U.S. envoy in Cairo. Ricciardone, now the U.S. ambassador to Turkey following a recess appointment by Obama, was not confirmed by the Senate because many senators had lingering concerns about his tenure there. Those in the Bush administration who were pushing for a tougher line against Mubarak believed Ricciardone was too cozy with the regime and made too many excuses for Mubarak's authoritarian policies.
"President Mubarak is well known in the United States," Ricciardone said on March 12, 2006, to a group of students in Egypt participating in a model American Congress. "He is respected. If he had to run for office in the United States, my guess is he could win elections in the United States as a leader who is a giant on the world stage."...."

Look at this headline: Israel "allows" Egyptian troops in Sinai

"... As the unrest in Egypt has spread, Israeli officials have grown increasingly concerned about the stability of their southern neighbor. They are especially worried that Palestinian militants could take advantage of the unrest to smuggle weapons into the Gaza Strip through tunnels under the Egypt-Gaza border...."

Elliott Abrams & Marwan Musher will 'educate' the American Jewish Congress on ....Egypt!

"... Elliott Abrams, the former Bush White House Middle East/democracy advisor, was invited but didn't go. "I had other commitments I did not think I could fairly cancel at such short notice," Abrams told POLITICO. While another colleague tried to soften Abrams's implication he had better things to do than offer counsel to the White House, saying he thought Abrams was out of town. In fact, Abrams said he was scheduled to speak to the AJC along with Jordanian former diplomat Marwan Muasher...."

Israeli officials call Omar Suleiman to warn of chaos on border ...

"israeli officials have telephoned Hosni Mubarak's newly appointed vice president Omar Suleiman several times urging Egypt to maintain previous security coordination, Israeli media said.The discussions were over Egypt's role on the Israeli border and Gaza smuggling tunnels, the Israeli daily Maariv reported...
Israel, according to Maariv, warned Suleiman of the risk if Egypt loses control over the smuggling tunnels. Intelligence learned that weapons and ammunition smuggling has increased during the unrest in Egypt as well as infiltrators into Israel as the army was busy trying to restore order in the country.
Quoting sources in the Israeli foreign ministry, Maariv added that Suleiman might sacrifice his country’s relations with Israel in order to satisfy public opinion and thus proves that he is the right choice..."

Emirati agents spy on Iran-Oman ...


"... others suggested the alleged spy ring could be more related to regional politics. "One possibility is that the UAE wants to know more about Iran-Oman relations because of Tehran and Muscat's long ties in security and military co-operation," Theodore Karasik, from the Institute for Near East and Gulf Military Analysis, told Reuters news agency. Oman has close relations with Iran, partly because the two countries are joint gatekeepers of the Strait of Hormuz, the route for 40% of the world's oil tanker traffic...."

Mubarak's 'scorched earth' ...

As in below

الموضوع: خطة التصدي للمظاهرات الشعبية


 وزارة الداخلية:
مكتب الوزير - تعميم رقم 60/ب/م  - سري وهام للغاية
الموضوع: خطة التصدي للمظاهرات الشعبية
الاستراتيجيات
1- السماح بالمظاهرات بالمرور في شوارع مدن وقرى الجمهورية وذلك اعتبارا من تاريخ . وعدم اعتراض مسيرتهم وتوخي الحذر الشديد في اطلاق النار الحي والرصاص المطاطي والقنابل المسيلة للدموع الابامر من المختص يذلك حسب جدول الاختصاص المدون لديكم.
2- توظيف عدد من البلطجية والدفع لهم بمبالغ مجزية والاجتماع بهم في دورهم وفي مواقع التجمعات وعلى انفراد من قبل العناصر المصرح لها بذلك دون وجود صفة رسمية بذلك وتوضيح خطة الانتشار حسب الجدول المرفق للموقع المعنون بـ 1 وابلاغهم بوقت التحرك وخطة اشاعة الفوضى التدرجية المذكورة في البيان،
3- مراقبة افراد التنظيمات والاحزاب والتنسيق مع المطابع ودور النشر واجهزة الاتصالات وفرض سجل كامل بالرسائل والمكالامات الصادرة والواردة وتوضيح فحواها بتقرير مباشر حال تلقيكم المعلومات.
4- سيتم قطع وسائل الاتصالات (موبايل - انترنت) اعتبارا من الساعة السادسة صباحا من يوم الجمعة الموافق 28/1/12011 مع الابقاء بالخدمات الارضية لذلك يجب على جميع المكلفين من ضباط وافراد استخدام اجهزة الاتصالات اللاسلكية اليدوية والتاكد انها في وضع التشفير.
5- خطة نشر افراد الشرطة ورجال المباحث والعناصر الامنية بالزي المدني وحسب المرفق المعنون بـ2.
6- حصر مسيرة المظاهرات يوم الجمعة الموافق 28/1/2011 في الميادين العامة والرئيسية وقطع المظاهرات في حال وصولها الى مناطق التحذير حسب الخريطة المرفقة المعنونة بـ3.
7- التاكد من تسليح افراد العناصر المدنية بالزي المدني بعصا خشبية وهراوات حديدية صغيرة الحجم (يدوية) لاستخدامها في القبض على العناصر الرئيسية المتواجدة في المظاهرة دون اظهار لاي عنف.
8- اطلاق الرصاص المطاطي والقنابل المسيلة للدموع دون استخدام الرصاص الحي والتنبيه بذلك الا في الضرورة القصوى.
9- اظهار عجز جزئي اعتبار من الساعة الرابعة عصر يوم الجمعة المذكورة لقوات الشرطة لاظهار تفوق المظاهرات والسماح بتغلغل عناصر البند 2 لاحداث فوضى محدودة اثناء المظاهرة وحسب الخطة المتفق معهم بذلك.
10- الانسحاب التام لقوات الشرطة والامن المركزي ولاراد تنظيم المرور والحراسات وجميع فئات الضباط والافراد المختصين لحماية المواقع الحكومية والشركات والمؤسسات مع ارتداء الزي المدني والتواجد بجانب الطرقات وحول الاشجار والانخراط بين خطوط المنظمين للمظاهرات وبين مواقف السيارات دون التدخل في اي ظواهر سلبية ودون الكشف عن الهويات الخاصة بهم وعدم التدخل في الشارع حتى يتم ابلاغكم بذلك.
11- افراغ مراكز الشرطة من الاسلحة والذخائر والمسجونين ونقلهم الى السجن المركزي ووضعهم تحت حراسة مشددة وادخال افراد الامن الخاص والعناصر الامنية الى السجون بدلا منهم وعناصر الاحياء وافراد المتابعة والبحث الجنائي والمتعاونين من المخبرين.
12- بث الاشاعات عبر جميع وسائل الاعلام بوجود اعمال سلب ونهب وذلك بالاتصال من قبل العناصر النسائية على جميع وسائل الاعلام المختلفة مع سماع قوي لحالات الهلع والبكاء وحسب خطة بث الاشاعات المرفقة لكم.
13- بث رسائل مباشرة عبر افراد او رسائل غير مباشرة بتوزيع منشورات لوسائل الاعلام الخارجية فقط خاصة المتواجدة بالقرب من الاحداث بوجود اعمال نهب وسلب وتكسير لبنوك ومحال تجارية ومراكز شرطة تزامنا مع خطة انتشار البلطجية بالبند 2 وذلك لبث حالة من الهلع والرعب لدى الشارع العام ووجود مطالبة اهلية وشعبية لتواجد رجال الجيش والامن العام وعامة الشعب بالتواجد في هذه المواقع.
14- اصدار تلميحات مباشرة وغير مباشرة عبر اجهزة الاعلام الداخلي والخارجي بتشكيل لجان حماية شعبية داخل الاحياء وذلك لتوجيه افراد المظاهرة الى التوجة الى مواقعهم دون فرض القوة من قبل الجيش.
15- ارسال اشاعات مغلوطة وكاذبة عبر جميع الوسائل لمحطات الاعلام الخارجي فقط ويتم تصحيحها من قبل محطات الاعلام المحلي وذلك لكسب الثقة من قبل العامة لصرف الانظار عن هذه المحطات وتشويه سمعتها في جميع الاتصالات الوارده الى محطات الاعلام المحلي.
16- بث الاشاعات القوية عبر جميع وسائل الاعلام المحلي والخارجي بوجود فوضى عارمة وهروب المساجين وتحديد اعداد وهمية كبيرة وكذلك مسجلي الخطر وانهم شوهدوا داخل الاحياء السكنية.
17- مطالبة جميع الشعب عبر جميع وسائل الاعلام بتشكيل لجان شعبية تسهر ليلا نهارا لحماية الاحياء وتكوين المطالبات من قبل اصوات نسائية من عناصر الامن حسب ما تم الاتفاق عليه في الجتماع السابق معكم.
18- متابعة الوضع ميدانيا من قبل العناصر الامنية المدنية والرفع لنا باعداد المتظاهرين التقريبي ومعرفة مواقعهم لارسال مجموعة بند 2 الى احيائهم حتى يتم امتصاصهم وافراغ المساحات من المتظاهرين.
19- اتصالات مكثفة ومكالمات وتواجد شخصي لدى جميع وسائل الاعلام يظهر تحسن ملحوظ بعد تواجد اللجان الشعبية لحماية الاحياء والمجمعات السكنية والتجارية.
20- البدء باظهار التلاحم مع القيادة تدريجيا وذلك باظهار بعد الشعارات في الوقت المحدد وحسب ما يتم ابلاغكم به.

White House 'Egypt Powwow' held!

POLITICO: Laura Rozen: on foreign policy - Egypt experts head to WH powwow

Saudi dilemma: what if Ben Ali warrant arrives?

"... So far, Riyadh has not received an extradition request, according to a source who requested anonymity. If it does in the future, it is unlikely to turn over Mr Ben Ali, given the close ties between his government and the Saudi government in the past, several Saudi attorneys said."I think they will discreetly ask him to find a different place to live and then say it's not our problem anymore," said one Jeddah attorney, Bassim Ali...."

"SOD Robert Gates spoke to MOD Tantawi & Ehud Barak about the situation in Egypt"

".... U.S. officials told McClatchy that they believe the Egyptian army's response is a reflection of its professionalism, saying that by allowing people to protest and not reacting violently, it is doing exactly the right thing. Ties are so close that on Sunday, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates spoke to Field Marshal Mohammed Tantawi, the Egyptian minister of defense, and Israeli Minister of Defense Ehud Barak about the situation in Egypt. Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, spoke to his counterpart, Anan, for 10 minutes....."

"Send in the (same) clowns"

"... Each minister took an oath and then stepped forward to shake Mubarak's hand,  ... Mahmoud Wagdy, the former head of the prisons authority, was moved up to head the interior ministry, which controls the police, replacing Habib al-Adly, who was targeted in the anti-government protests. But the move means the ministry stays within the hands of the police, and was not transferred to the military, as some demonstrators had hoped. After much confusion - and several public refusals to take the job - Samir Radhwan was appointed to head the ministry of finance, ............. Mohammed Tantawi stayed on at defence ministry, Ahmed Aboul Gheit remained foreign minister. The ministries of Oil, Labour and Welfare also stayed in the same hands ..."

"Behind the curtain: Egypt erupts in the WH"

"The eruption in Egypt has dampened spirits in the Obama White House, where officials were having their best run in more than a year. “We’re struggling to figure all this out,” said a top official who spent much of the weekend on the crisis. Obama’s closest aides have been enjoying three Rs: political resurgence, economic recovery, and a White House reorganization that most West Wingers applaud. But now these officials fret that new instability in the Middle East will 1) distract from President Obama’s jobs-and-innovation message, 2) dim hopes for a breakthrough in the peace process, and 3) stall the economy if the revolutionary tsunami spreads to other Arabian states, driving up the price of oil. In a live special last night, CNBC warned of “economic contagion.”
Those are the big-picture threats. More immediately, aides are debating how aggressively to prod President Mubarak to step down and/or get the ball rolling on free elections. Western diplomats are convinced Mubarak is UNLIKELY to survive in office. But stranger things have happened in that neck of the woods, so President Obama is being cautious, both to avoid a backlash if the U.S. is seen as trying to engineer a successor, and in deference to other Arab allies. “It's just a very tough line to straddle,” a senior administration official said. “If [Mubarak] guts this out and stays, we're going to continue to need him and work with him, and he might not appreciate that we pushed. Bottom line, Egypt's destiny is Egypt's to decide, and we'll work with whoever emerges or is left standing.”
Moreover, administration officials confess that they are uncertain who should replace him. “There’s no horse to bet on,” said a Democrat with intimate knowledge of the conversations. “There’s no opposition leader to get behind.” So the government now is trying to parse the leaders of the revolt, to build an on-the-fly Who’s Who of potential post-Mubarak powers. The top official added: “There isn’t a natural successor. And if we were to embrace a particular person, it does more harm than good. It’s a classic dilemma for America.
OBAMA’S APPROACH, per a senior administration official: “The President has been very closely monitoring the situation in Egypt. He’s requested multiple briefings each day, and has personally made key decisions. For example, at approximately 4:15pm on Friday, the President dropped into a previously scheduled Principals Committee meeting on a different topic so that he could discuss Egypt with his top foreign policy advisors. At that meeting, the President decided to call President Mubarak and to make a statement to the American people. That said, it has not interrupted his domestic policy schedule at all. As you’ve seen, the President’s national security staff has been churning throughout the weekend. [Deputy National Security Adviser] Denis McDonough chaired a [Deputies Committee meeting] on Sunday, and [National Security Adviser] Tom Donilon chaired a [Principals Committee meeting]Saturday before leading a briefing for the President.”
THE ADMINISTRATION HAS DEVELOPED A 4-PART MESSAGE: “First, the Egyptian security forces must not use violence against peaceful protestors. At the same time, of course, those who are protesting have a responsibility to do so peacefully, and the looting must cease. Second, we support the universal human rights of the Egyptian people, including the right to freedom of expression, of association, and of assembly, as well as freedom of the press, to access information, and to communicate. These are human rights and the United States stands up for them everywhere. Third, we support an orderly transition to a government that is responsive to the aspirations of the Egyptian people. … Fourth, this is about more than just Egypt. The people of the Middle East, like people everywhere, are seeking a chance to contribute and to have a role in the decisions that will shape their lives.”..."

".. Israel should sell the Sunnis on the idea that isolating Hezbollah-led Lebanon is worth the distasteful prospect of cooperating with Israel.."

An Israeli Opportunity In a Lebanese Crisis - The Atlantic

Assad to the WSJ: "Syria will most likely continue to be at odds with the US on key strategic issues"

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who inherited a regime that has held power for four decades, said he will push for more political reforms in his country, in a sign of how Egypt's violent revolt is forcing leaders across the region to rethink their approaches.
Syria's President Assad told The Wall Street Journal that Middle East revolts show a need for change in the region, but his nation is 'stable.'
In a rare interview, Mr. Assad told The Wall Street Journal that the protests in Egypt, Tunisia and Yemen are ushering in a "new era" in the Middle East, and that Arab rulers would need to do more to accommodate their people's rising political and economic aspirations.
"If you didn't see the need of reform before what happened in Egypt and Tunisia, it's too late to do any reform," Mr. Assad said in Damascus, as Egyptian protesters swarmed the streets of Cairo pressing for the resignation of longtime President Hosni Mubarak.
The Syrian strongman, who succeeded his father, has always kept a tight leash on his country and tolerated little protest. His regime has also maintained a close partnership with Iran and militant groups such as Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in the Palestinian territories.
While much of the region's unrest has hit countries that have developed alliances with Washington, his remarks indicate that the ripple effects of the Egyptian unrest will reach out to Middle Eastern leaders who are both friend and foe of the U.S.
Syria's response is particularly important because, while Mr. Assad's ties with the U.S. are strained, the Obama administration has been trying to pull his allegiances away from Tehran toward Washington.
But his remarks in the interview suggest that maybe harder in the wake of the Egyptian unrest. Mr. Assad said he will have more time to make changes than Mr. Mubarak did, because his anti-American positions and confrontation with Israel have left him in better shape with the grassroots in his nation.
"Syria is stable. Why?" Mr. Assad said. "Because you have to be very closely linked to the beliefs of the people. This is the core issue. When there is divergence…you will have this vacuum that creates disturbances."
Mr. Assad said he would push through political reforms this year aimed at initiating municipal elections, granting more power to nongovernmental organizations and establishing a new media law.
His government already made adjustments to ease the kind of economic pressures that have helped fuel unrest in Tunisia and Algeria: Damascus this month raised heating oil allowances for public workers—a step back from an earlier plan to withdraw subsidies that keep the cost of living down for Syrians but drain the national budget. Tunisia, Algeria and Jordan have also tried to assuage protesters by lowering food prices.
Mr. Assad's government, and that of his late father Hafez al-Assad, have been criticized as among the region's most repressive, detaining opponents without charges. This has stoked speculation in Western capitals over whether Syria could also face unrest. Syria's one-party political system and government-controlled media, meanwhile, are seen by many as more rigid than Egypt's or Tunisia's.
Mr. Assad acknowledged in the interview that the pace of political reform inside Syria hasn't progressed as quickly as he'd envisioned after taking power following his father's death in 1999.
Still, Mr. Assad indicated he is unlikely to embrace the sort of rapid and sweeping reforms being called for on the streets of Cairo and Tunis. He said his country needed time to build institutions and improve education before decisively opening Syria's political system. The rising demands for rapid political reforms could turn out to be counter-productive if Arab societies aren't ready for them, he said.
"Is it going to be a new era toward more chaos or more institutionalization? That is the question," Mr. Assad said. "The end is not clear yet."
Many diplomats and analysts believe Syria could serve as a barometer for the direction of the broader Middle East. Damascus's influence has grown in recent years as its alliance with Iran and the militant Islamist organizations Hamas and Hezbollah has opened the door to its renewed influence in Lebanon, the Palestinian territories and Iraq.
Still, Mr. Assad's rigid rule could leave him vulnerable to rising calls for democracy.
Damascus emerged this month largely victorious after a nearly eight-year struggle against the U.S. for influence inside Lebanon. The standoff was sparked by the 2005 murder of Lebanon's former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, which some Western officials believed was ordered by Mr. Assad's government. Mr. Assad has repeatedly denied any involvement.
"What pleases me is that this transition between the two [Lebanese] governments happened smoothly, because we were worried," said Mr. Assad. "It was very easy to have a conflict of some kind that could evolve into a fully blown civil war."
This month, the U.S. returned an ambassador, Robert Ford, to Damascus for the first time since Mr. Hariri's murder.
Mr. Assad said that while he sought closer ties to Washington, he didn't see this coming at the expense of his alliance with Iran. The Syrian leader said that he shares the U.S. goals to target Al Qaeda and other extremist groups, but that Tehran remains a crucial ally to Syria.
"Nobody can overlook Iran, whether you like it or not," Mr. Assad said.
On the Mideast peace process, Mr. Assad stressed that Damascus remained open to a dialogue with Israel to reclaim the Golan Heights region that the Jewish state occupied in 1967. But he said he didn't think Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would engage in the same way as his predecessor, Ehud Olmert. Mr. Assad insisted he and Mr. Olmert were close to forging a peace deal in 2008.
"No, [the peace process] is not dead, because you do not have any other option," Mr. Assad said. "If you talk about a 'dead' peace process, this means everybody should prepare for the next war."
The Syrian leader acknowledged his government is likely to continue to be at odds with the U.S. on key strategic issues.
Successive U.S. administrations have charged Damascus with smuggling increasingly sophisticated weapons systems to Hezbollah, including long-range missiles that could reach most of Israel. The U.S. has subsequently put in place economic sanctions against Syria.
Mr. Assad denied charges that his government directly arms Hezbollah.
He also indicated that his government was unlikely to give the United Nations' nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, wide access to investigate claims that Syria had covertly been developing nuclear technology.
"It will definitely be misused," said Mr. Assad, who denies Syria has been seeking atomic weapons.

Israel scrambles to help Mubarak

"...Senior Israeli officials, however, said that on Saturday night the Foreign Ministry issued a directive to around a dozen key embassies in the United States, Canada, China, Russia and several European countries. The ambassadors were told to stress to their host countries the importance of Egypt's stability. In a special cable, they were told to get this word out as soon as possible. ..."

Jumblatt: "Siniora wishes Hariri's failure because he wants back ..."

Jumblatt interviewed in Qatar's Al Watan.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

The One Person Who May Know What Egypt's Generals will do

"... I'd guess that Suleiman spent 80% of his time devoted to monitoring Egypt's generals and colonels, the officers who could order the tanks to seize the presidential palace. Suleiman no doubt had every one of their phones tapped, knew who was in debt and who wasn't, who left the country and who didn't. He knew exactly who took which bribes and for how much — a weapon for keeping them in line.
Egypt may have been under a constant Islamic militant threat since the 1950s but Suleiman and his predecessors knew all along this was only a flea bite compared to the threat of a military coup d'etat. In a country like Egypt, all it would take is one tank company to surround the presidential palace and change the regime.
On the other side of the equation, Egypt's officers know exactly how vulnerable they are in a system like this. If they have never seen the inside of one of Suleiman's prisons, they've heard enough about them to live in abject terror. Accordingly, they make a point of never speaking out frankly, either to other officers who more than likely could be reporting to Suleiman. And they especially avoid foreign diplomats.
All bets are off now that the Egyptian commander-in-chief's fate is on the edge. But I'd guess they're coming out of their holes now and asking aloud what's next — how to preserve the dictatorship. But, like I said this is only a guess.
Washington's problem though is that the last people the Egyptian generals and officers talk to will be the Americans. We can count on that probably because there aren't many Egyptian officers who didn't read the WikiLeaks diplomatic cable dump.
And anyhow if the military ever comes to the excrutiating decision of giving Mubarak the boot, what good can the United States do other than congratulate them after the fact? After all these years of hiding behind a wall of complete opaqueness, the United States simply doesn't understand Egypt's military enough to be of any assistance.
So we can only watch and wait. But let's don't pay any attention to anyone who says, "I told you so." What do they know."

"... No one has “lost” Lebanon, because Americans never possessed Lebanon. It is not ours to lose."

"... The point here is not to cheer for a March 8-led government. Properly speaking, none of this is America’s concern, and it has little to do with American security. However, we should observe that a lawful, basically peaceful change in government in Lebanon that benefits a political coalition Westerners dislike is not the end of the world, nor is it even necessarily that bad for Lebanon. No one has “lost” Lebanon, because Americans never possessed Lebanon. It is not ours to lose...."

"The Palestinian Cause", (read Mahmoud Abbas) badly harmed by events in Egypt..

What do you expect from Gulf News?
"...Ramallah: The Palestinian Authority is directly and negatively affected by the unrest in Egypt, according to a top Palestinian official.Azzam Al Ahmad, a member of the Fatah Central Committee and the head of the Fatah Parliamentary Block at the Palestinian Legislative Council added: “All events in the Arab World have their effects on the Palestinian cause, but the effect is even greater when it comes to Egypt, positively or negatively.” Al Ahmad said he believes in the political awareness of Egyptians. “We do not believe the Muslim Brotherhood can assume power in Egypt. But the Egyptians will make their choice,” he said. ..."

Cyprus recognizes PALESTINE!

The Egyptian masses won't play ally to Israel

I am starting to really like Gideon Levy ...really! 
"... As long as the masses in Egypt and in the entire Arab world continue seeing the images of tyranny and violence from the occupied territories, Israel will not be able to be accepted, even it is acceptable to a few regimes....A second, no less important conclusion: Alliances with unpopular regimes can be torn up overnight. As long as the masses in Egypt and in the entire Arab world continue seeing the images of tyranny and violence from the occupied territories, Israel will not be able to be accepted, even it is acceptable to a few regimes. The Egyptian regime became an ally of the Israeli occupation. The joint siege of Gaza is irrefutable proof of that. The Egyptian people didn't like it. They never liked the peace agreement with Israel, in which Israel committed itself to "respect the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people" but never kept its word. Instead, the people of Egypt got the scenes of Operation Cast Lead.   If there's one thing shared by all factions of the Egyptian opposition, it is their seething hatred of Israel. Now their representatives will rise to power, and Israel will find itself in a difficult situation...."

"... Egypt will be a volatile nation, no longer a country that the US can count on to maintain a stable, peaceful Middle East..."

Robert K. Lifton served as President of the American Jewish Congress, is a Founder and President of the Israel Policy Forum and as co-Chair of the Middle East Project of the Council on Foreign Relations... He is also in panic mode!
"While the world watches the events in Egypt play out, we should recognize a disturbing reality.  No matter what the results of the uprising, Egypt will be a volatile nation, no longer a country that the United States can count on to maintain a stable, peaceful Middle East. If President Mubarak manages to stop the demonstrations by use of force, it will only be a matter of time before they erupt again and again. Once the populace has tasted the freedom to assemble and demonstrate - even to react violently - they will resort to it again. The pressure on the Mubarak regime will never stop until he leaves office. Meantime, he will not have the power or flexibility to play the role he played until now; in maintaining the peace, however cold it may be, with Israel and the stability of the region.
The more likely scenario is that either Mubarak will be forced to leave the Presidency, or even if he manages to hold on to office temporarily, to carry out a new election very soon. Under the best of circumstances that the U.S. can hope for, that will result in a legitimate election of a new democratic government. The problem is that the new government, any more than a Mubarak government, will not be able to provide the economic conditions that the demonstrators are demanding. It will not be able to provide jobs for the millions of young people who are unemployed and it will not be able to keep prices of food, oil and other commodities from rising. Egypt does not have the financial resources or borrowing capability to provide its people with subsidies to offset the inflationary rise in food and other commodities. It does not have the industry that can create jobs for the unemployed. And in the face of the violence, it will be even less able to attract new capital or retain the capital it has, even to continue the unacceptable current levels of employment.
The result of a failure of a democratic government to solve the Egypt’s woes can well result in another wave of demonstrations and violence. This time, opening the door for a strongman, perhaps from the military, to take over the government, quell the demonstrators with overwhelming force and impose an autocracy. Whether this will be an Islamist government as in Iran, (tsk tsk) is difficult to predict. However, since one major organized group in Egypt is the Moslem Brotherhood, it is likely that even if the regime is secular it may have to make some concessions to the Islamist elements to avoid further conflict. Either way, the democracy that the Western world hopes for will not happen and the Egyptian government may no longer be one that we can count on.
It should be noted, that the likely tale of Egypt is also the tale of Tunisia and Yemen. Like Egypt neither of those countries can provide the solutions their demonstrators seek and the end result in each will probably be a new dictatorship replacing the one being overturned. The Obama Administration has no choice in any of these places but to support the rights of the demonstrators to freely assemble and speak out. But we should be aware of the likely results of the events we are witnessing and as best we can prepare for a different, more volatile and dangerous Middle East."

".. I think Mubarak has a week at most left in office.."

This is an odd group if you ask me. I guess panic brings people together in such ways.
"...“I think Mubarak has a week at most left in office,” Andrew Albertson, formerly with the Project on Middle East Democracy and the working group, told POLITICO Saturday. “He’s ultimately done. Either he flees fast, or there’s a transition to [newly appointed Vice President Omar] Suleiman, or the protests continue. Meanwhile, people are becoming incredibly angry with the U.S.," which is perceived, Albertson said, to be propping up Mubarak.  
“Given the situation we are now finding ourselves in, President Obama needs to say, 'Hosni Mubarak should go,'” Albertson continued. “That's what's needed to save the [U.S.] relationship with the Egyptian people.”
Former U.S. Ambassador to Israel Martin Indyk, not a member of the working group, also argued Saturday that Obama would soon have to tell Mubarak to go, ideally after a transition plan has been worked out.
"At this point, facing by far the biggest foreign policy crisis of his presidency, Obama cannot afford to backtrack," Indyk, vice president for foreign policy studies at the Brookings Institution, wrote on MSNBC.com Saturday. "He will soon have to decide whether to tell Mubarak that the United States no longer supports him and that it's time for him to go." 
Washington Egypt hands suggested there was tension inside the Obama administration -- which met for three hours Saturday on the Egypt crisis -- between those advocating the U.S. maintain a “cautious” policy of hedging its bets for now that Mubarak might stay on, and those who see that his departure is inevitable. They also said that some members of the administration were influenced by Israel’s concern at losing a reliable peace partner.
There’s "no fight,” one U.S. official involved in the discussions said Saturday. But "there’s a lot at stake.” ..."

Saudi Al Sharq al Awsat: "Egypt Mutilates Itself!"

"...As'ad AbuKhalil, a political professor at Cal State Stanislaus and visiting professor at UC Berkeley, wrote on his popular "Angry Arab" blog that Egyptian and Saudi media were trying to discredit the protest movement.
House of Saud's propaganda is on over-drive," he wrote. "They are really trying hard to discredit the protests in Egypt,” he said, citing a headline in Saudi-owned daily Asharq al-Awsat “Egypt mutilates itself.” ..."

FOX News: "Saddam was president of Egypt..."

Via AngryArab:

"We do not want to send any message about backing forward or backing back ..."

 A protester holds up a poster of President Hosni Mubarak in downtown Cairo, Egypt. | Reuters
"... Clinton avoided a question from CNN’s Candy Crowley on “American Morning” on whether the U.S. is beginning to back away from Mubarak. “[W]e do not want to send any message about backing forward or backing back,” she said. “What we’re trying to do is to help clear the air so that those who remain in power, starting with President Mubarak, with his new vice president, with the new prime minister, will begin a process of reaching out, of creating a dialogue that will bring in peaceful activists and representatives of civil society to, you know, plan a way forward that will meet the legitimate grievances of the Egyptian people. “ The Obama administration, while not calling for Mubarak to step down, appears set to continue pushing for additional concrete steps toward democracy, human rights and economic reform. Clinton made clear that the administration regards Saturday’s steps as a start — but inadequate. Instead, the American push is for a new round of elections – though officials continue to debate the ideal timetable – in which few believe Mubarak could run, much less win...."

The Worst of Both Worlds

"... There is no need to strain the analogy. Iran and Egypt were and are very different places, with very different political dynamics. But the fundamental nature of the decision that is required today by the United States is not very different from the dilemma faced by the Carter administration three decades ago. Should you back the regime to the hilt, in the conviction that a change of leadership would likely endanger your most precious security interests? Or should you side with the opposition -- either because you agree with its goals or simply because you want to be on the "right side of history" (and in a better position to pursue your policy objectives) once the dust has settled?
Of course, there is a third way. You may try to carefully maintain your ties with the current ruler (see Biden above), while offering rhetorical support to freedom of expression, democracy, and human rights. Regrettably, as the Carter administration can attest, that may produce the worst of both worlds. If the ruler falls, he and his supporters will accuse you of being so lukewarm in your support that it was perceived as disavowal; whereas the opposition will dismiss your pious expressions as cynical and ineffectual.....
for engaged outside powers, such as the United States in the Egyptian situation, a major revolt calls for a leap into the unknown. If you sit back and wait, events may simply pass you by. But if you jump into the fray too early (or with a mistaken notion of what is actually going on) you may lose all influence in the future political construct, whatever that may be. In any event, you should start thinking about how to repair or rebuild a security structure that had been safely on autopilot for too long.
Welcome to the real world, Mr. Obama...."
Qifa Nabki's:

"..When I told the demonstrators on the tank around me the news of Suleiman's appointment, they burst into laughter..."

"... In the pantomime world of Mubarak himself – and of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton in Washington – the man who still claims to be president of Egypt swore in the most preposterous choice of vice-president in an attempt to soften the fury of the protesters – Omar Suleiman, Egypt's chief negotiator with Israel and his senior intelligence officer, a 75-year-old with years of visits to Tel Aviv and Jerusalem and four heart attacks to his credit. How this elderly apparatchik might be expected to deal with the anger and joy of liberation of 80 million Egyptians is beyond imagination. When I told the demonstrators on the tank around me the news of Suleiman's appointment, they burst into laughter.
Their crews, in battledress and smiling and in some cases clapping their hands, made no attempt to wipe off the graffiti that the crowds had spray-painted on their tanks. "Mubarak Out – Get Out", and "Your regime is over, Mubarak" have now been plastered on almost every Egyptian tank on the streets of Cairo. On one of the tanks circling Freedom Square was a senior member of the Muslim Brotherhood, Mohamed Beltagi. Earlier, I had walked beside a convoy of tanks near the suburb of Garden City as crowds scrambled on to the machines to hand oranges to the crews, applauding them as Egyptian patriots. However crazed Mubarak's choice of vice-president and his gradual appointment of a powerless new government of cronies, the streets of Cairo proved what the United States and EU leaders have simply failed to grasp. It is over...."

Saturday, January 29, 2011

AnNahar: "Saad Hariri very disappointed with the Saudis & the French ..."

Scroll all the way down to the 'gods'whispers'...

Washington: "Contacts with Israeli officials were described to us as being both "urgent" and "worrying" with a strong emphasis by the White House toward counseling restraint

"...Senior Administration officials tell us that this is how they view developments in Egypt. US policy is caught in an awkward dilemma between its long-standing, if low-key rhetorical advocacy of political reform in Egypt – reinforced by Obama – and its concern that the Egyptian authorities may lose control of the process, with resulting chaos that might engulf both Egypt and, potentially, Saudi Arabia in 1979 Iranian-style revolutions. Against this background, US officials are actively engaged with their Egyptian counterparts with the objective of keeping the reform movement on track while avoiding a heavy-handed response that might open the door to mass bloodshed and extreme elements, notably the Muslim Brotherhood. A State Department official commented to us: “This will be a hard circle to square. The Egyptians are instinctively suspicious of pro-democracy activists and all too ready to prefer a show of force.Contacts with Israeli officials were described to us as being both "urgent" and "worrying" with a strong emphasis by the White House toward counseling restraint. A similar approach is in place for Yemen. The Egyptian episode does, however, provide a template for how US foreign policy will evolve up to 2012. With Democrats and Republicans locking horns over government spending, attention to external issues will be opportunistic and politically expedient. Those looking for a US grand strategy will be disappointed.

"..... Khalas? ..."

" .. there is no longer an israeli flag hanging in Cairo.."

Crowley's tweet: "The Egyptian government can't reshuffle the deck and then stand pat. President Mubarak's words pledging reform must be followed by action"

 
I guess the White House is not too thrilled about Omar Suleiman's choice. Gen. Sami Anan remains America's choice? 

Saudi King: "Egyptian protesters spew hatred in destruction & incite malicious sedition..."


"Saudi Arabia strongly criticized Egyptian protesters and voiced support for beleaguered Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak on Saturday, appearing to underscore growing concern across the Arab world over possible spill-over from popular protests that have ousted Tunisia's long-time strongman and now threaten Mr. Mubarak's grip on power. The king said protesters had been "exploited to spew out their hatred in destruction . . . inciting a malicious sedition,'' according to the statement, posted on the English website of the Saudi Press Agency.In a statement carried by Saudi's state news agency, King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz al-Saud said protests rocking Egypt were instigated by "infiltrators," who "in the name of freedom of expression, have infiltrated into the brotherly people of Egypt, to destabilize its security."The statement said the king telephoned Mr. Mubarak early Saturday and had been "reassured about the situation in Egypt." Saudi Arabia and Egypt have been strong allies in the region, representing two of the most important U.S.-allied Arab bulwarks against Iran..... The king's harsh criticism of the Egyptian protesters on Saturday suggested Riyadh is eager to signal it won't tolerate unrest inside the kingdom's own borders...."

Gamal & Ala' Mubarak & their families (luggage included) are really in London.

Mubarak's 'maneuver': Omar Suleiman named Vice President.

... and the attempts to safe the regime continue.

Wikileaks [39]: "The Future Institute aims to fly some ten thousand Brazilian citizens back to Lebanon to vote this March, providing $10,000 in support

C O N F I D E N T I A L 

NSC FOR , ELLIOT ABRAMS, NIC RAMCHAND, MEAGHEN
STATE NEA FOR DAVID WELCH, JEFF FELTMAN

SUBJECT: LEVERAGING LEBANON,S DIASPORA FOR DEMOCRACY/DEEPENING LOCAL CONTACTS

 Jared Cohen (S/P) and Janine Keil (INR) visited Sao Paulo, Brazil September 24-26. They met with a variety of representatives -- Christian, Jewish and Muslim -- of Brazil's ethnic Lebanese community. Among the Lebanese Brazilians who met Cohen and Keil were: Joseph Sayah, Lebanon's Consul General; Sheik Jihade Hamade of the World Assembly of Islamic Youth (WAMY, Sunni); Berty Tawil and Ernesto Chayo (Banco Safra); Alfred Cotait (Secretary of International Relations for Sao Paulo City Hall); Guilherme Mattar (Cotait's Chief of Staff); Suheil Yammout (Head of the Lebanese March 14 Movement and representative of Saad Hariri in Brazil); Mohammed Zoghby (President of the Muslim Federation of Brazil); Fouad Naime (journalist, editor of the magazine "Carta do Libano," representative of Phalangist and Lebanese Forces); Salim Schahin (businessman and banker, participant in the Abraham Path Project); and Naji Nahas (businessman). The flagship event of the trip was a cocktail organized by the Lebanese Consul General (CG) at his residence on 9/25, where he invited a variety of Lebanese-Brazilian interlocutors to meet with Cohen and Keil....
......
¶5. (C) While most Lebanese Brazilians keep Lebanon's divisions at arms-length, the leaders described above can be intensively engaged in the country. Several of our interlocutors communicate with Lebanese political leaders regularly. President Suheil Yamout (the convict) of the Future Institute provided perhaps the most concrete example of intense selective engagement when he described his organizations "get out the vote" drive for Lebanon's March parliamentary elections to Cohen and Keil. The Future Institute aims to fly some ten thousand Brazilian citizens who also hold Lebanese passports back to Lebanon to vote this March, providing up to USD 10,000 in financial support to each one to make the trip. The Future Institute also mentioned that a likely 50,000 Lebanese will self-finance trips back to Lebanon in the spring to participate in the March elections. They are coordinating with Saad Hariri (son of the Prime Minister assassinated in 2005, leader of the Lebanese Future Movement) to ensure that they maximize thes e votes in the right districts. Meeting participants estimated that there are up to one half-million Lebanese in Brazil who are eligible to hold Lebanese passports and who could conceivably vote in that country's elections. When asked, Lebanese stakeholders explained that the vast majority of these are March 14 supporters. Pre-Polarization Lebanon Meets Brazil ..."

"... But not to save the people -- to save the buildings..."

"...Long before protestors took to the streets late in 2010, the Tunisian military was unusual among its regional peers. First, unlike the bloated militaries of other Middle Eastern states, Tunisia's soldiers wouldn't fill the seats of most American college football stadiums. They are an enigma both to the Tunisian people and to the country's allies; the military often resists foreign aid, scoffing at such patronizing treatment. U.S. military officials told me Tunisia's armed forces had already canceled half the training exercises they had scheduled with the United States for 2011 because, frankly, the Tunisians couldn't be bothered. For the moment, the military is slated to get all of $4.9 million in U.S. military aid this year.
Then there is Egypt's military, which takes in about 260 times as much U.S. military aid -- an incredible $1.3 billion annually. That money means that, in many ways, the armed forces rule Egypt, says analyst Daniel Brumberg at the U.S. Institute for Peace. Mubarak, himself a former Air Force commander, has deftly used American taxpayers' dollars to underpin not just the military but his entire government. Egyptian generals are a privileged elite, enjoying weekends and retirements in breezy villas by the sea. They make clear that they expect a say in who rules the Arab world's most populous country once Mubarak leaves the scene. Keeping the U.S. military aid flowing dominates Mubarak's foreign policy, defined first and foremost in the region by its cold peace with Israel. After all, the annual influx of U.S. military aid ranks up there with tourism and Suez Canal tolls as Egypt's main sources of revenue.
So what will Egypt's military do ?........ what's clear is that the odds of the Egyptian military joining in a popular revolt are far more unlikely in Egypt than they were, in hindsight, in Tunisia.
If it came down to chaos in Egypt, with police and the people battling in the streets, the country's military probably would step in, retired Egyptian Gen. Mohammed Kadry Said told me by phone from Cairo before Friday's dramatic events. But not to save the people -- to save the buildings. Dealing with the people "is the mission of the interior minister," Said told me. "If the situation deteriorates, I think of course like any country maybe the army will interfere, not to help the people in the streets, but to secure sensitive places" such as government offices and security installations......
The only question late Friday was just how Egypt defined a threat to national security -- and how far the army was prepared to go to thwart it...."

Friday, January 28, 2011

Zionists will tell you: "Don't look for American pro-Israel groups to do much in the way of supporting the Egyptian protesters.."

Flagged by AngryArab:
"..."Obviously, like all Americans and Israelis and others, we are watching with great attentiveness," he said. "We understand very well that this is a regime that has been there for 30 years and is an authoritarian government. It hasn't allowed free and fair elections -- we understand that. We also understand that this is a government that made peace with Israel in 1979 and Mubarak's predecessor paid for that peace with his life."
Elsner said that while it is too early to tell what a post-Mubarak government could look like -- and whether Mubarak will even fall -- there are concerns: "He has observed the treaty and that treaty has become a bulwark of stability. Should Mubarak go, there is concern about the kind of government that would replace him, and whether it would be inclined to maintain that treaty."
I asked Elsner about the Israel Project's previous support for a "Stand for Freedom in Iran" rally in September 2009, held in the wake of the Green Movement protests, which emphasized lofty ideals of human rights and democracy. Why is the group not supporting the same ideals in Egypt? 
"There is a huge difference between the governments of Iran and of Egypt. The government of Egypt has a peace treaty with Israel and has observed it," Elsner said, also noting the antagonistic view of Iran toward Israel.  He said the Israel Project is not to his knowledge planning any programs in support of the Egyptian protests, saying it will likely "be regarded as an internal matter for the people of Egypt."
Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, had much the same view when I spoke to him this afternoon. 
"We've always supported the movement toward democratization," he said. "At the same time, you don't want to see upheaval that could be exploited by extremist elements in the region. We would be very concerned that elements would come into power that would not sustain the involvement of Egypt in the peace process and sustain the commitments in the peace agreements."
Hoenlein added: "Getting rid of Mubarak will create such disruption and potentially dangerous change" -- he would prefer an orderly process of reform to revolution.
So, don't look for American pro-Israel groups to do much in the way of supporting the Egyptian protesters.."