Hearing & Seeing the Turmoil in Cairo

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This is very big. The regime may not fall — but the game is changed in Egypt and best I can tell the US does not have a set of contingency scenarios for political change there.
— Steve Clemons

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48 comments on “Hearing & Seeing the Turmoil in Cairo

  1. CaseyR says:

    Egyptian Hopes Converge in Fight for Cairo Bridge
    Saturday, January 29, 2011 – By KAREEM FAHIM, The New York Times
    CAIRO — The battle had gone on for hours, and the end of the bridge was in sight. Somewhere past the green armored cars and through the smoke was Liberation Square. For miles the protesters had marched peacefully, shouting at balconies for their neighbors to join them.
    But water cannons and tear gas halted the march, for a time. Atef Badr, 28, turned to the retreating protesters with tears stirred by the moment, not the gas. “I’m begging you,” he screamed. “All of you in the back, come forward!”
    A few tear gas canisters got caught in the wind and drifted away toward the river: an opportunity. The protesters surged forward, chanting, “Overthrow Mubarak!” They gained ground and then lost it, when the dull metal gas canisters started falling again.
    So it went all afternoon on the Kasr al-Nil Bridge, as thousands of protesters tried again and again to get past the riot police, who were just as determined to keep them at bay: first with gas and water cannons, and then by beating them with truncheons.
    The long struggle for the bridge set the tone for the momentous events throughout the country on Friday. Egyptians slowly shed their fear of President Hosni Mubarak’s police state and confronted its power, a few halting steps at a time.
    The protesters came from every social class and included even wealthy Egyptians, who are often dismissed as apolitical, or too comfortable to mobilize. For some of them in the crowd on Friday, the brutality of the security forces was a revelation. “Dogs!” they yelled at the riot police, as they saw bloodied protesters dragged away. “These people are Egyptians!”
    The protests started around noon, miles from the bridge, with prayer at the Mustafa Mahmoud Mosque west of downtown and a sermon praising the protesters. Anticipating the clashes, a police officer adjusted his riot helmet. A restaurant shuttered its doors.
    Everyone seemed nervous. Nasser al-Sherif, 24, looked for his friends, who were late. It was his first protest in Egypt. “I’m just here to say no,” he said. “Once things get rough and violent, I might leave.”
    Ibrahim al-Missiri, 36, looked at the crowd, which included two famous actors. “This is the class that never spoke out before,” he said. “I want the right to vote.”
    The prayer ended, and the protesters, herded by a ring of riot police officers, started walking away down a side street and then stopped, turning back for their first confrontation of the day.
    The police let them pass.
    On a broad avenue, hundreds swelled to thousands. Three young men, old school friends, marched among them. Two of them worked at a call center for the Expedia Web site, earning a little more than $400 a month. They had all been intending to leave Egypt. The protests were changing their minds.
    “We’ve had enough time stolen,” said Ali Bilal, 23. “We want to take control of the situation.”
    Friends pushed a man in a wheelchair. A fruit vendor begged off calls to join the protests, pointing out that he would have to leave his donkey. On a balcony, an elderly woman looked at the crowd and threw her hands in the air. On other balconies, there was applause.
    “Peaceful,” the marchers shouted. At the foot of the bridge, the security services were waiting, with other plans.
    When the first tear gas canisters landed, Ziad Ali wondered whether the march would go on. “I’m 35; he’s been the president since I was 5,” he said of Mr. Mubarak. “I hope we can make it this time.”
    At key moments young men inspired the marchers. A man with a red scarf wrapped around his face stood on a statue near the foot of the bridge, defiantly, as the tear gas clouds swirled around him.
    Another man yelled into a bullhorn, telling protesters it was fine to fall back but not to retreat. A third managed to climb on top of one of the four green personnel carriers blocking the bridge, as the riot police fell back. The crowd cheered and advanced, as the first hurdle fell.
    Abandoned by their comrades, the officers still in the transport trucks, no longer fearsome, sobbed as the protesters occupied the bridge for the first time. A local police chief was carried off the bridge bleeding from the head, joined by many people wounded by the falling canisters. When the bursts from the tear gas launchers quickened, the protesters retreated, until the young men at the front told them to come back.
    The nearby 6 October Bridge filled with people, and the marchers on Kasr al-Nil cheered. The plan was to march to Tahrir, or Liberation, Square in downtown Cairo, to link up with other groups of protesters. In the distance, a building burned.
    “This is the first time I’ve seen collective action,” said Omar Barazi, 44, pondering the future. “I think there will be chaos and losses.”
    That moment came quickly. Police officers watched the assault from boats. Hundreds of riot officers stormed the bridge, throwing benches and a police hut into the Nile and beating anyone who did not run. By late afternoon, they had retaken Kasr al-Nil and penned in a group of protesters next to a park.
    Officers fired tear gas toward an opera house as the young men ran away, and for the protesters, everything seemed to be lost. Nadine Sherif walked among badly wounded comrades, despondent. “I hope he gets the message,” she said of Mr. Mubarak. “He’s not wanted.”
    A few officers lit cigarettes, relaxed and chatted with the protesters, thinking they were done.
    They were not. Night fell, and the protesters finally took the bridge.
    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/29/world/middleeast/29cairo.html

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  2. rc says:

    I’m not sure ‘she’ is a robot, but I am certain that regular ‘re-booting’ would help with the lose nuts and bolts syndrome obviously on show. Twice a day with a size 9 — the same pair she’s wearing while goose-stepping around the living room in her short coffee breaks from posting on TWN.

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  3. Warren Metzler says:

    Nadine I want to thank you for confirming my view. When you say that knowing I took acid in the only way of making sense of my comments, you are implying that if looked at from a certain perspective they make sense. And anything that makes sense is a realistic possibility.
    Yes I took acid a few times in the 1960’s and then into the early 1970’s. And those experiences, like with EVERYONE ELSE I knew that took acid, significantly expanded my view of reality, opening me up to latter discovering the truth of life and the human condition; instead of believing a true fantasy, invented in the mind of insane people, such as your claim that Israel is a peace loving, freedom supporting, moral, supporter of authentic democracy. I loved the comment presented by James L., 4:10 pm, quoting a high Israeli official “I’m not sure the time is right (now) for the Arab region to go through the democratic process.”
    Who else but a peace loving, freedom supporting, moral, supporter of authentic democracy would believe that now is not yet the time for democracy in another country, but a believer in the insane (guaranteed to never work) concept of Zionism; given it is now obvious that concept is actually a recipe for fascism.
    So to say my comments only make sense if you take acid while in your twenties, is, in my world, synonymous with saying, “only if you live in the land of reality does that concept make sense”. Great compliment. I should use it as a teaser in advertisements for my future writings.
    That you should compliment me while assuming you are denigrating me I propose provides collaborating evidence for my theory that you are actually a robot and not a human; you lack the capacity to realize what is the real meanings of your own expressions. :-)

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  4. Carroll says:

    The hasbara kiddies were late to the threads today and surprising short for a change in their comments…they must have been very busy.
    But I do so agree with wig….I would like to see Saudi in revolt also.. ending in people rule.
    We wouldn’t dare bomb or invade them or start a larger war for fear of disrupting world oil in this our most troubled current economic condition.
    And then would come the end game.
    Ennie minnie minee mo!
    Would we choose uninterrupted oil supply from a new Saudi rule regardless of who they were?– or would we chose to keep supporting Israel in the Palestine conflict?
    Yes that would be the end of the game….and I know the answer.

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  5. Carroll says:

    Posted by Warren Metzler, Jan 28 2011, 11:27PM – Link >>>>>>>
    Actually Warren that does make sense.

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  6. WigWag says:

    What I’m really curious to see is if the turmoil spreads to Saudi Arabia; actually I kind-of hope it does.
    It would be really interesting to see what the Obama Administration would do if it appeared the Saudi monarchy might fall.
    I wonder if the Administration would be as free with the advise for restraint and reform if the world’s most important oil supplier was threatened with upheaval.
    That ticket would be well worth the price of admission.

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  7. nadine says:

    Warren, did you drop a lot of acid in the 1960s? There is no other way to make sense of your comments.

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  8. Warren Metzler says:

    I have a suggestion. The history of the world is best understood as a evolution of consciousness: consciousness being what a person inwardly recognized is possible (beneficially) in life. Throughout human history major new consciousnesses were installed in all humans (who lived at that time and ever since). Each such new consciousness presented new possibilities in how one saw oneself, and what was optimal social relationships / work / view of the spiritual realm / etc. Each new installation brought about major new forms of government, philosophies, lifestyles, cultures, etc.
    The latest one was in the mid 1960’s, and installed in every human the awareness she could be autonomous (her own person all the time); in work could repeatedly experience being productive, skilled, creative, and providing a beneficial result to each client; in social encounters can repeatedly experience intimacy (richness and fullness), love (deeply valuing the other) and repeated mutual empowerment; and have a personal and proper relationship with God.
    After each new consciousness is installed, gradually over time people began to act in accord with that consciousness. Such is the basis for those wonderful people of Tunisia, and now for the wonderful people of Egypt. All such actions are intrinsically secular, because all who act in accord with the latest consciousness know, consistent with our Constitution, that government only works when it has no affiliation with a particular religion.
    Part of this new consciousness is the awareness that foreign policy is a delusion. Governments should only relate other governments with guidelines that regular people follow with their neighbors. It is time to permanently put to bed that countries are entities, and that state departments should have an agenda for other countries. Countries are not entities, but more an abstract name for a geographical area that has a particular form of government.
    And I must say something about Nadine’s claim the latest Bush administration took actual concrete actions to foster democracy. This statement is so lacking in common sense and recognition of reality that I have to assume it couldn’t exist in the mind of the real human. So I’ve concluded you are actually a sophisticated robot; a product of a collaboration between a professor of political science and a professor of computer science in some university; who, like all robots, regularly corrupts and acts inappropriately and then must be reprogrammed, or at least rebooted.

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  9. non-hater says:

    “I hope all of those cheering the demonstrators on the streets of Cairo and other Egyptian cities are also cheering for President Bush blah blah blah…”
    A few – as of yet unresolved – uprisings and one very fragile, not particularly functional democracy is a record of success that we should all praise? Laughable.
    Also: I am 100% positive there are of better ways to promote democracy in the Middle East than to start an entirely unnecessary war by invading a country that had not attacked the US, spending hundreds of billions of dollars blowing stuff up, killing tens of thousands of innocent Iraqis, displacing hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqis, and last but not least, sacrificing the lives thousands of Americans who signed up to defend their country and not to be pawns in the sick games of the neocons. Saying the Iraq War has produced a few good outcomes is roughly akin to saying that the Chernobyl disaster was a good thing because now there is a big forest in northern Ukraine that wasn’t there before.

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  10. questions says:

    “Two final points. First, we must not allow fears of Islamists to short-circuit support for such transitions. Already, scare-mongering over the potential for Islamist takeovers has become a major, even dominant theme of Western and Arab official discussions of Tunisia — and that, in a country where the primary Islamist party al-Nahda was long ago crushed and its leaders exiled. I’ve long expected that if Egypt got the democratic change which so many in Washington talk about, there would be a rapid and intense backlash as the still powerful Muslim Brotherhood necessarily played a major role and as popular opposition to the Mubarak government’s foreign policy jeopardized American and Israeli interests. I’m hoping to be proven wrong.
    Second, I think that the Obama administration has handled the last month surprisingly well. It has been absolutely right to resist trying to claim credit for change in Tunisia or to put a “Made in America” stamp on something which manifestly was not. I suspect that there was more of a role behind the scenes in shaping the Ben Ali endgame than is now known. The State Department and the White House have issued a series of strong statements in support of the Tunisian people, ”
    http://lynch.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2011/01/26/will_the_arab_revolutions_spread

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  11. questions says:

    This is interesting:
    http://www.themonkeycage.org/2011/01/the_power_of_prayer.html
    Organizing protest under totalitarian regimes.

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  12. Dan Kervick says:

    Well, Obama’s statement certainly sounded clueless. But I wouldn’t take any White House public statements at face value for the next few days.
    The Egyptian regime is toast. So I certainly expect that Washington is now in the process of trying to engineer Mubarak’s departure from the country, and working with other contacts in Egyptian society to obtain a transition to whatever is next that is as peaceful as possible.

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  13. DonS says:

    “It started because a man in Tunisia immolated himself in despair and communicative action.”
    And while I understand Obama’s call for restraint of violence, that’s not how revolutions are made. Even in the internet age. Would that we had such involvement and bravery in this country to stem the right wing, facist leaning tide we choke in. We are not near that point, yet we are still in the land of the blind.

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  14. rc says:

    Could be the street in any U.S. city in 12-18 months time if unemployment (and especially youth unemployment) is not resolved. Then again, perhaps obesity has a public governance good — they probably would not be able to walk the distance.
    On a more serious note, I’m not sure this translates into a more democratic system of governance for Egyptians: their addiction to Pharaohs goes back a long way.

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  15. DonS says:

    “It started because a man in Tunisia immolated himself in despair and communicative action.”
    And while I understand Obama’s call for restraint of violence, that’s not how revolutions are made. Even in the internet age. Would that we had such involvement and bravery in this country to stem the right wing, facist leaning tide we choke in. We are not near that point, yet we are still in the land of the blind.

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  16. questions says:

    Before we go too far in judging the neocon enterprise a good one, even if we accept a number of realist errors, let’s get some body counts, let’s see what happens with these tumbling dominoes across the ME. If it turns to terror, not good. If some amount of self-control stays, and the Egyptians continue to protect the museums, thank the military, and clean up their trash, this could be good. If it goes far right religious, it could be a nightmare worse than what they have now. If the corruption doesn’t get cleaned up, it could be worse. If there’s an oil shock and a return to worldwide depression economics, it could be really bad.
    So at this point, it’s better to reserve judgment, hope for the best, support the people brave enough to protest their government, and hope that the bad guys don’t use this to their advantage.
    What replaces Mubarak will tell us part of the story. What replaces Mubarak’s replacement will tell us more.
    That the curfew is being violated, that ordinary people are out and about, that the police and military aren’t really with Mubarak — this is good with qualifications based on future events.
    I hope for the best.
    And I think we should note something very interesting. Egypt’s fall didn’t start with landing planes in skycrapers. It didn’t start with bombing the shit out of a place. It didn’t start with aggression towards another human being. It started because a man in Tunisia immolated himself in despair and communicative action.
    That gesture, far more than any neocon bombing raid or binLadenian attack, or suicide bombing or any other outward aggressive wickedness, that simple act of self-harm is what got the ball rolling.
    Brave, self-sacrificing people who act against themselves and thus FOR others may be the most important world movers, justice starters, communicators that there are.

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  17. PissedOffAmerican says:

    And its hilarious seeing this sack of shit Obama wax eloquent about “the rights of peaceful protestors”.
    Except, I guess, if they are Palestinians, or Americans, engaged in peaceful protest in the West Bank. No wonder the Muslims hate our fuckin’ guts. Do these assholes in DC think that the rest of the world is deaf and dumb?

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  18. DonS says:

    wig wag, realist schmealist.
    “Had the Bush policy of pushing for reform been carried out, the current turmoil might not be as bad as it is.”
    And, as I mentioned before, if frogs had wings, they wouldn’t bump their ass. You make boy Bush push for reforms sound like some communist agitator. His “push” was within parameters so tight — read — on our terms, with the I/P dilemma ignored, that it qualifies as boilerplate.
    “We now know that the semi-democratic government that the Bush Administration bequeathed to the Iraqis is probably the most stable and legitimate government in the Sunni Arab world.”
    I deconstructed this on a previous thread, wig , which perhaps you didn’t see. If so, the essence was that I’m embarrassed you would even bring it up, so malformed and mutated is your vaunted Iraq “democracy”.
    So why rag on Clemons, when events today are such that ‘realists’ have to recalibrate along with everyone else. Criticizing realists, contrary to your implications, does nothing — nothing — to validate the [even] more out of touch and regressive neocons.

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  19. PissedOffAmerican says:

    I see Wiggie is tying herself in knots looking for spin.
    Democratization of Iraq? Who the fuck is she kidding. We installed a puppet, who now is being exposed as a tyrant that tortures and imprisons political opponents, ala Saddam Hussein. The shiites, and Iran, now have a foothold, Christians are persecuted, and we set women’s rights right back into the stoneage compared to what they were under Saddam.
    There is no end to the steady litany of SHIT that the likes of Wiggie and Nadine try to peddle about each event that unfolds in the Middle East.
    But at least the effin’ bigot, Wiggie, has dropped her racist dribblings about how “docile” and “irrelevent” the Arab Street is.
    Anyone else remember when Wiggie was masquerading as a moderate left winger? Are we to forget that she launched her presence here with a deception?

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  20. rc says:

    I note how the lights went out on part of Clinton’s tumble — quick fingers on the light switch or some post edit filtering on the video?
    Nice symbolism. There is some stumbling in the dark going on at present it seems.
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-12170071

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  21. questions says:

    “The litany of complaints against Mr. Mubarak is well known to anyone who has spent time in any coffee shop or on any corner chatting in any city in Egypt. The police are brutal. Elections are rigged. Corruption is rampant. Life gets harder for the masses as the rich grow richer and the poor grow poorer. Even as Egypt

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  22. questions says:

    “TEHRAN

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  23. Zafar Khan says:

    Steve, my bet is Mubarak’s days are numbered. The
    only reason he is still in Egypt is because no
    country is going to give him safe haven and he is
    still trying to find one. Now, hilariously, Israel
    would be a safe bet. That will also answer
    PODAmerican’s question. But I would not call Mubarak
    a ‘benefit’ to Israel.
    This is a no gain situation. Every body loses.
    Mostly the US.
    I hope we can build a better, just world, soon.
    Regards.
    Zafar Khan
    http://silentconscience.org

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  24. WigWag says:

    I hope all of those cheering the demonstrators on the streets of Cairo and other Egyptian cities are also cheering for President Bush and the emphasis that his Administration placed on the promotion of democracy in the Arab world.
    While Condi Rice was stressing the importance of democratization in Iraq and elsewhere, the realists were ridiculing the idea that the United States should be focusing on trying to move the Arabs in a more democratic direction.
    A chief opponent of a policy of advocating democracy in the Middle East was Steve Clemons’ realist friend Brent Scowcroft.
    Scowcroft was featured in an article that Jeffrey Goldberg wrote a few years back. Referring to Condi Rice and her desire to see more democracy in the Middle East, here’s what Scowcroft had to say,
    “She says we’re going to democratize Iraq, and I said, ‘Condi, you’re not going to democratize Iraq,’ and she said, ‘You know, you’re just stuck in the old days,’ and she comes back to this thing that we’ve tolerated an autocratic Middle East for fifty years and so on and so forth,” he said. Then a barely perceptible note of satisfaction entered his voice, and he said, “But we’ve had fifty years of peace.”
    There are just so many examples of how the realists have been wrong about the Middle East that their errors are getting almost too numerous to count. Let’s recap:
    1) The realists told us that the Arab regimes needed to see progress on the Palestinian-Israeli front before they would help oppose the Iranian nuclear program.
    This turned out to be completely untrue; the Wiki Leaks release proved that the Arab regimes practically never mentioned the Palestinians while they begged the Obama Administration to attack Iraq.
    2) The realists told us that a settlement freeze was a prerequisite to serious peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
    The Al Jazeera release demonstrated otherwise. It turned out that the Palestinian Authority and Israel engaged in detailed and enthusiastic negotiations while Israeli settlements continued to expand unabated (upward not outward).
    3) The realists told us that the Arab street was obsessed with the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians.
    As it turned out, first in Tunisia and now in Egypt the demonstrators hardly mention the Palestinians or Israel in their chants but instead seem keenly focused on political freedom and economic stagnation.
    4) The realists told us that the Bush emphasis on encouraging democratization in the Arab world was a fool

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  25. PissedOffAmerican says:

    I’ve wracked my brain to figure out how Israel could benefit from this, and I draw a blank. If El Baradei gets into power, I would say the complexion of the Egyptian border crossings are going to change dramatically. Israel will have to assume a highly adversarial attitude towards Egypt if it hopes to maintain the Gaza embargo. Short of war, I don’t see how Israel can maintain the blockade if Mubarak falls from power. I suspect that the lack of concern for the Palestinians that these hasbarist pieces of shit like Nadine have attributed to street Muslims is about to be shown to be a fallacy, just another bit of carefully nurtured hasbara bullshit.
    Israel may well be on the verge of reaping what they have sown. And it ain’t gonna be pretty.

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  26. nadine says:

    “Is there anyone in the United States who has any information at all? Or are they all just standing around with their mouths open at the unraveling Middle East?” (Dan Kervick)
    This last option, I think. Obama just gave a non-committal, straddling statement where he urged the Egyptian government to work with the protesters. He referenced his Cairo speech and said again, “Hey, you should really have accountability, guys” or words to that effect.
    In short, once again, Obama showed he does not understand the difference between a leader and cheerleader. If he had nothing specific to say and no particular course to urge, he should have stayed silent. Instead he patted himself on the back for praising Democracy in his Cairo speech, as he hadn’t followed up the speech by dropping all of Bush’s efforts to actually promote democracy. He actually pronounced “MY administration has been following the situation carefully” as if that made him sound active and resolute – Obama pronounced the words in a resolute tone of voice.
    Does Obama even understand that he sounds like a buffoon, not a President?
    If Mubarak goes down, it doesn’t matter what most of the protesters want. The army and the Muslim Brotherhood will be the only two powers left standing, and they will duke it out.

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  27. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “Did it ever occur to you people that what is going on in Egypt has nothing to do with Israel or even the United States”
    ROFLMAO!!!! Gads, what an asshole.

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  28. samuelburke says:

    These events playing out in the middle east ought to allow the realist within the u.s state dept room to elbow their way into the conversation while at the same time discrediting the neocon point of view.
    the apple cart keeps tilting…the palestinian cause demands justice.
    the idf is looking for a few good men…next year in yerushalayim boys.

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  29. Carroll says:

    Anyone hear Mubarak’s speech?
    The only thing it convinced me of is that the stupidest people on earth are the ones who think everyone else is stupid.
    Mubarak was babblng (and threatening) hard to save his own ass. Said he would dismniss all the current government and ‘he’ would appoint new ones…ROTFLMAO…he thinks this will fly?
    Blamed the protestors for instilling ‘fear’ and said he would call out the military on the protestors tomorrow for their own good…and the ‘unity’ of Egypt.
    If I were a protestor this would just motivate me even more.

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  30. DonS says:

    FWIW, last night ‘The Newshour’ had 2 very reasonable sounding individuals to talk about Egypt, Graeme Bannerman of the Middle East Institute and Tom Malinowski of Human Rights Watch.
    http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/world/jan-june11/egyptguests_01-27.html
    It surprised me that there was no fire breathing neocon ‘counterweight’. My wife attributed my surprise to the fact that she believes not everyone is as cynical as I am. But my thought is that 1) the government hasn’t begun to get their line together (not having a contingency for real world events that go against the conventional wisdom in govt) 2) most right wingers might not have their act together either to the point where they can do much but stammer about radical Islam, which clearly has not been the case in Tunesia or Egypt, as far as the spark for the upheavals.
    Or maybe I’m just too cynical. We’ll see what the slant is tonight.
    All this seems to have gotten out ahead of the MSM US’ ability to shape the message — as Dan notes — but I expect it’s coming soon.

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  31. Bill Pearlman says:

    Did it ever occur to you people that what is going on in Egypt has nothing to do with Israel or even the United States. Not everything is an international zionist conspiracy.

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  32. Dan Kervick says:

    According to A Jazeera, Egyptian medical sources report more than 1030 people injured so far.

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  33. DonS says:

    Bolton !!! Likes him some dictators:
    http://www.openleft.com/diary/21543/egypt-whats-next
    but not likey el Baradei:
    http://emptywheel.firedoglake.com/2011/01/28/the-neocons-long-animosity-towards-mohammed-el-baradei/
    All of this comes as a great surprise to . . . no one with any sense. I understand Pam Geller is in a swoon.

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  34. Cee says:

    http://www.veteranstoday.com/2011/01/28/egyptian-uprising-not-a-us-affair-edward-peck/
    Questions,
    I hope the museum is better protected than the museum in Iraq.
    Someone will soon say that Egyptian people never existed.

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  35. DonS says:

    Of course, John H, some here don’t like Cobban, think she’s a Jew hater, and think it’s unseemly for a Quaker to have a practical grasp of the constraints of peacemaking (n.b., Quakers are about the best at it and have been at it a long time). But the point is well taken that without old ME hands at State, or where an informed understanding of the nuances of the Arab world is considered an impediment to advancement, the government is criminally bereft of expertise in understanding the moving forces in the region. Can’t even have an even handed discussion within the government; what can you expect of the face we show to the world.

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  36. Dan Kervick says:

    Did Egypt shut off the Washington DC internet too?
    Or is there some kind of self-imposed media and internet embargo among the Washington set on Egyptian affairs?
    Or did everyone in DC just leave for their ski weekends already?
    Is there anyone in the United States who has any information at all? Or are they all just standing around with their mouths open at the unraveling Middle East?

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  37. DonS says:

    “He could have gotten himself out in front on regional reform, created a sense of movement and optimism, and helped guide reform in a non-violent direction while rebuilding the US reputation in the process.” (DanK)
    One cannot help but read that without acknowledging the influence of the AIPAC machine throughout the US government, that composes a sizable damper on attempting to follow through with even right instincts.
    Who can sit down like the proverbial Dutch uncle to explain the facts of life, in such a way as to make a difference, to the many political entities and forces that endorse constraints on innovation to the detriment of US foreign policy . It would be nice to think the possibility even exists, say, for a Dwight Eisenhower to put things in perspectives, but today I fear the forces arrayed against positive engagement with progressive elements in the Arab world belie any such simple hope. Although, one must say that the “Arab street” certainly does seem to be rumbling in a way that silences the cocky pronouncements of those who sneered at the irrelevance very recently.
    The most plausible sales pitch probably involves linkage with the reform impulse as essential to strengthening the forces that are a natural counterweight to a radical Muslim world. Which just happens to be the truth.

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  38. JohnH says:

    “So thorough-going has been the witch-hunt that AIPAC and its attack dogs have conducted over the past 25 years against anyone with real Middle East expertise that the U.S. government now contains no-one at the higher (or even mid-career) levels of policymaking who has any in-depth understanding of the region or of the aspirations of its people.”
    http://justworldnews.org/archives/004137.html

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  39. questions says:

    “By late night on Friday, police had largely abandoned the streets of the capital to the remaining bands of protesters, and there were reports of looting at the political party headquarters of President Hosni Mubarak. ”
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/01/25/AR2011012500866.html?hpid=topnews

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  40. questions says:

    Rand Paul’s budget:
    “WASHINGTON — Tea party-backed Republican Sen. Rand Paul favors cutting U.S. aid to Israel as part of a deficit-driven effort to slash government spending by $500 billion this year, drawing criticism from Democrats and Republicans who argue the U.S. must be unwavering in its support for the longtime Mideast ally. ”
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/01/28/AR2011012803373.html
    This time with link. Sorry.

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  41. questions says:

    Rand Paul’s budget:
    “WASHINGTON — Tea party-backed Republican Sen. Rand Paul favors cutting U.S. aid to Israel as part of a deficit-driven effort to slash government spending by $500 billion this year, drawing criticism from Democrats and Republicans who argue the U.S. must be unwavering in its support for the longtime Mideast ally. ”

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  42. JamesL says:

    Via Al Jazeera:
    Time magazine’s Karl Vick pulls in the first reaction from Israel that’s not a “no comment.” A minister in Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s government tells Vick that Israel believes Egypt’s security forces will be able to suppress the protesters. “We believe that Egypt is going to overcome the current wave of demonstrations, but we have to look to the future,” he said. While it would be better if Egypt were a democracy, since “democracies do not initiate wars,” the minister said, “I’m not sure the time is right for the Arab region to go through the democratic process.”
    Read his lips:
    “I’m not sure the time is right for the Arab region to go through the democratic process.”
    Getting to be a bit difficult for Obama and Hillary to spin crap like that.

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  43. Dan Kervick says:

    Obama should have stuck with the instincts that told him to make his Cairo speech, and should have followed up more boldly on the themes of that speech. He could have gotten himself out in front on regional reform, created a sense of movement and optimism, and helped guide reform in a non-violent direction while rebuilding the US reputation in the process.
    But timidity, inertia and US domestic politics as usual intervened. Backing down on the settlement freeze right away pinned him as both weak and hypocritical.
    It was all very well for Hillary Clinton to warn Arab leaders recently that their regimes are going to sink into the sand. But they are just following the example of conservatism and attachment to the established way of doing things that they saw in Washington.
    It’s not too late to change course; but without a change, Obama is going to lead us into another bloody Middle East war.

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