Mubarak’s Response to Demand for end of Military Rule

Gen. Hosni Mubarak’s response to a mass uprising demanding an end to military rule in Egypt?

He appoints the former head of Egyptian military intelligence (Omar Suleiman) his vice president (and therefore likely successor).

He appoints the Air Force Chief of Staff (Ahmad Shafiq) as prime minister.

Can you spell TONE DEAF?

Meanwhile, crowds in the streets in Cairo, Suez, Mansoura, Alexandria into the night, defying curfew. Police fired on demonstrators in Alexandria & around the Ministry of Interior building in Cairo, some reports say 100 have died in the past few days. Army mostly not intervening in either demonstrations or looting, decline of security. Police absent altogether. Neighborhood militias being thrown up to guard against thieves, burglars, rapists invading. Light looting of Egyptian museum halted by patriotic crowd joining hands, then army came in there. Some say Mubarak ordered police to stay home and give middle classes a taste of what life is like without the law and order he provides. Don’t know if it is true. If so, would indicate attempt to play on class anxieties and to cast the uprising as a mob of greedy slum dwellers.

Aljazeera English live stream here.

26 Responses

  1. Ironically, Al Jazeera made a big deal out of how Suleiman was respected by Israel and the US, and also lingered on how elegant he is (and mentioned what sounded to me like his collaboration with Israel against the Palestinians).

    I think they intended it without irony–I imagine that all Arab governments are hoping that Mubarak’s succession can be arranged without anything fundamental changing– but they couldn’t have blackened his name more thoroughly than with their praise.

    • My impression was that Al Jazeera was simply reporting that the Americans and the Israelis favored the security chief. If you read this Al Jazeera interview with Clayton Swisher, it does not paint a very flattering picture of Suleiman –

      Suleiman selection reassures Western allies
      link to blogs.aljazeera.net

      ————————
      *From CNN reporter Ben Wedeman twitter feed in Cairo:
      link to twitter.com

      deanprocter @monaeltahawy @cynthiashearer: [Omar] Suleiman ran the renditions for the CIA. Sources: Jane Mayer book and Stephen Grey “Ghostplane” book.

      ————————

      Despite the hopes he arouses in certain quarters in Washington and in other foreign capitals, Suleiman’s political future in Egypt – like his unsavory past – is tied to a regime whose days are numbered.

      • I’m simply reporting my impression of what Al Jazeera English live sounded like. The Arabic version could sound different, especially to Arab ears.

        But this also illustrates something important about media. Praising someone as “elegant” in a country suffering great privation, describing him as the head of the intelligence services in a country suffering repression, and mentioning that he is such a great friend to Israel that they asked for his help speaks as clearly, if not as loudly, as saying that he’s an “eminence grise”, that he will go to any length to repress the Islamic movements and that he’s a “dishonest broker”, as Clayton Swisher said. The same words can sound very different to people with different contextual frameworks.

  2. I was just watching Russian Today and scrolling across the bottom of the page was a report that released Wikileakes documnets show that the US Government had been planning the overthrow of Mubarak. I do not believe this. Have you ever seen anything in Wikileaks that would support this accusation?
    I wonder if why RT would report this when it is something that could be so easily checked on.

    • The wikileaks cable they are referring to just shows the US was in contact with young pro-democracy activists, not that they were actively trying to overthrow Mubarak; the cable gives the activists no chance of success.

      • Juan: “the cable gives the activists no chance of success.”

        The article clearly shows that your statement is factually incorrect. Please read past the part you referred to:

        “Ambassador Scobey questioned whether such an “unrealistic” plot could work, or ever even existed. HOWEVER, the documents showed that the activist had been approached by US diplomats and RECEIVED EXTENSIVE SUPPORT for his pro-democracy campaign from officials in Washington. The embassy helped the campaigner attend a “summit” for youth activists in New York, which was organised by the US State Department.

        Cairo embassy officials warned Washington that the activist’s identity must be kept secret because he could face “retribution” when he returned to Egypt. He had already allegedly been tortured for three days by Egyptian state security after he was arrested for taking part in a protest some years earlier. ”

        Juan: “not that they were actively trying to overthrow Mubarak;”

        “It said the activist claimed “several opposition forces” had “agreed to support an unwritten plan for a transition to a parliamentary democracy, involving a weakened presidency and an empowered prime minister and parliament, before the scheduled 2011 presidential elections”. The embassy’s source said the plan was “so sensitive it cannot be written down”. ”

        “The documents released by WikiLeaks reveal US Embassy officials were in regular contact with the activist throughout 2008 and 2009, considering him one of their most reliable sources for information about human rights abuses.”

        link to telegraph.co.uk

        • What the US Embassy contacts with activists do signal – pretty incontestably, in my view, especilaly when we recall Hillary Clinton’s bizarre colonial speeches recently endorsing popular action to reform Arab governments – is that the US has favoured replacing Mubarak for some time. Not surprising. He’s clearly a dictator who has outworn his usefulness to the US in being unable to contain burning social dissatisfaction in Egypt, which have raised risks that Egypt might escape the grip of US foreign policy through the ascent of the Muslim Brotherhood, etc. The US and Israel don’t want Egypt, the old Arab-world heartland and vital Israeli ally, to go the way of Lebanon. Reading anodyne language from the US and Europe warning the power elite in Egypt not to use too much force against demonstrators while not mentioning Mubarak at all in most statements, I don’t think there’s any reason to doubt that this mass mobilisation to oust him is “viewed with favour” by the West. The question is not so much how they are steering events as how they are surfing a wave of genuine popular mobilisation that has been anticipated and quietly encouraged for some time as the only way to dislodge Mubarak and his crony core.

          I suspect later we’ll get a Wikileaks glimpse into the appointment of Ehud Barak’s-good-buddy securocrat Suleiman, which strongly suggests a backroom confrontation in recent days with Mubarak, involving European, Israeli and US diplomacy, instructing him to establish a deputy president who is already a proven quantity firmly in the nexus of present Israeli/US foreign policy including the ‘war on terror”. Suleiman and his new power elite will be counted on to usher in a more efficient Egyptian regime that can derail the empowerment of factions who are disturbingly close to Hizbullah in their regional outlook. Yes, the old man has been cut loose and is expected to get out of the way and doubtless a ‘new era’ will be announced in Egypt. The orange or purple or green or lavender revolution will be lauded and some genuine reforms will be announced, and partly achieved, to relieve popular pressures. But the whole thing is pretty obviously being steered to ensure that Egypt stays firmly in the US/Israeli war-on-terror fold and plays that role better than before.

          This new government would definitely improve some conditions for Egyptians over coming years, defusing mass popular mobilisation. But reforms will focus on technocratic economic solutions, consistent with US approaches elsewhere, emphasizing standard liberal capitalist measures regarding transparency, reduced corruption, an end to routine torture (although not special torture associated with renditions, etc.), improved police force, etc., and not real democracy, which remains high-risk and anathema to Egypt’s foreign patrons. The security state will otherwise stay in place so that Egypt can continue to play its essential role regarding the Palestinians, Gaza, “terror”, etc. Alas, I fear the truly mass democratic character of this revolution will ensure this — the demonstrators are calling, in principled fashion, only for new and (more) genuine elections to create a “new Egypt”, not a particular leadership. But they lack the power or access to prevent Suleiman’s security/technocrat network with its foreign imprimatur from ensuring that the transition generates a more efficient and stable version of the client-state role that Eygpt has been playing for decades. This isn’t the “Berlin moment” of the Arab world.

        • Wingbat –

          The article does not show that Juan is factually incorrect – to do that it would have to accurately adduce some documentary evidence or be a primary source of evidence, which it clearly isn’t.

          Juan’s statement is in line with any sensible reading of the actual Wikileaks cable 08CAIRO2572. The Telegraph article appears to be built on a deliberate misreading of and distortion of that cable.

          The cable actually states that

          “April 6’s stated goal of replacing the current
          regime with a parliamentary democracy prior to the 2011
          presidential elections is highly unrealistic.”

          It couldn’t be much clearer than that.

          The Telegraph is a pretty right-wing operation and they clearly don’t have a lot of respect for their reader’s ability to understand an official document, to bother to read it, to see through spin or past their own desire to think the US and UK governments must be on the side of the angels.

          My suggestion would be for you to have another go at reading the actual Wikileaks-released cable which you can find at link to wikileaks.ch

    • Giving a plan no chance of success doesn’t mean the goal of radically reforming Mubarak’s government and possibly ejecting him wasn’t on the US table. The cable shows it was, as the US government does fete activists unless it supports their goals. The plan that was considered unrealistic was the activists’ roundtable redrawing of the Egyptian political system. Which was, as is, an unrealistic project by itself. You have to have serious political clout to force something like that down a government’s throat, which the activists cooking up ideas with advisors in Washington didn’t have. It took the mass uprising to provide the essential leverage for reform and the magic chemistry for launching a mass movement is something the US can’t create – although it regularly tries with nudges and winks (Egypt, Lebanon, 1990s Iraq, now Iran, etc.). As I tried to say: the US didn’t create this wave but it was certainly paddling around waiting for it and it’s surfing the center of it it now. Whether that wave will carry the US board smoothly to the beach or toss it flying depends on many things. But it’s a very skilled surfer we have here, and a ruthless one, ready to toss rivals (and many others are trying to ride this wave) through any means fair or ugly.

  3. Not only is Mubarek a stubborn old fool but where is our government? I hope we are doing something behind the scenes. Our government needs to be working with the other world leaders to get Mubarek out of power. I noticed his son is hiding in London. Great family!
    Thanks

    • I don’t trust the U.S. to do anything positive in this situation. Our leadership is so beholden to the defense industry and the oil industry that nothing good can come about if they stick their noses in this. “Working behind the scenes” just means figuring out ways to squelch the revolution and help Israel.

    • Ehhim.. excuse me… *coughs*

      I hate to be the bad news carrier an be the one to bring this to your notice, but your goverment is almost the mere reason why Mubarak has continued to exist, brutalize, dominate, swallow the fortunes of Egypt and practicing tyranny over egyptians for 30 years now. in many ways he is worse than Saddam, the only reason why your goverment didnt go to liberate egyptians is that he is an absolute yes man to them, hence they are willing to look away, for 30 years, and ignore all the brutal torturing taking place everyday in police stations and jail, ignore the fact that he has been prsident for 30 years. ignore the fact that he actively represes any chance for any political opposition to et near elections, that includes hiring thugs to beat up citizens at voting stations if they suspected they were voting for anyone other than the Mubarak and his party. its an extremely ugly truth that i know you probbaly cant handle, digest or comprehense at first sight, but little search onlie will help you take a good look. oh and try searching for torture in egypt on youtue for example, التعذيب في مصر is the arabic word for it, it might get you some useful results.

  4. Maybe Mubarak doesn’t have the stomach to put his signature to the dirty work he thinks will need to be done.

  5. It’s paying off for Mubarak. Al Jazeera is reporting that police and security officials are looting the Cairo Museum and shops. Protestors have captured several looters with police IDs in their pockets. Sounds like Sulaiman is arranging a provocation to turn international opinion against the protests.

  6. It isn’t tone deafness, it’s an explicit rejection of demands. Mubarak is putting himself in a corner and signalling that he has no intention of stepping down or being thrown down.

    Responding to demands for the end of military rule by directly appointing senior military personnel to high office, by having police fire on demonstrators and to deny their services to the people they’re meant to be protecting he is putting himself in a position where any compromise he might make will be a sign of defeat and likely fatal for his regime.

    This will not end well.

  7. I always believed that the people of Iraq should have been left to overthrow Saddam Hussein. He was clearly a dictator whose time was up. One the run, careful to sleep in a different place each night, tired looking. It was just a matter of time. This is messy and the people of Egypt are paying dearly, but it’s on their terms. Mubarek’s choice won’t last long. It’s a pathetic attempt to preserve the status quo. I hope some of the older people of Egypt remember when Communism fell in Hungary and Poland. The people took their countries back without political bargaining and interference. I wish them well.

  8. The handwriting is on the wall, all you have to do is to open the eyes and read it: 1-The domino has begun with the Muslin countries’ oligarchies; 2- The domino will end when all other oligarchies are deposed by the people. In the meantime the world’s fire that begun in Tunisia will continue, more ore less destructively, depending on how much the oligarchs continue to believe and enforce the notion that they have a God given exclusiveness and power over the masses. They will eventually fail for the domino can not be stop. Amy Chua has it figured out in her book “World on Fire”

  9. I wager that many of the prisoners “escaping” from prisons are intended to increase mayhem. I somehow doubt political prisoners are getting help in escaping so far — just murderers, violent thieves and common criminals.

  10. Did I just see in the streamer under FOX that Mubarak said out loud that all this “anxiety” is the result of Outside Agitators? Always the same sad stuff from autocrats, including our own…

    • Our own internet kill switch is just around the corner, courtesy of Joe Lieberman et al. Weird, because I once believed that authoritarianism was a right wing disease. Now I know that it is thoroughly bipartisan.

    • FOX doesn’t know how to report “Real News”. I’ve always regarded them as entertainers. They reduce everything to suit their own style.

  11. Been doing some marathon TV listening, starting with AlJazeera English. Several stations have held telephone interviews with the neighborhood vigilantes, some of whom were armed with golf clubs and hockey sticks. In every case, when the reporter asked if they had seen any looting of private homes going on, the person on the other hand said that no, they personally had not, but they heard that the looters were coming, and there are no police to protect us. I visited some of these areas a couple of years ago (Mahdi, Dokki). There wasn’t any noticeable police presence in those neighborhoods then, aside from the watchman in the lobby. Further, Egyptians didn’t seem to much respect the police. There’s some kind of a disconnect here.

    There have been some great shots of the unwashed masses looting the NDP headquarters and running off with those gilt rococo chairs on their backs. Sort of reminded me of the stories from 1905, when another bunch of the great unwashed had a whack at the manor houses.

  12. “I hope some of the older people of Egypt remember when Communism fell in Hungary and Poland.”

    This is not a useful analogy. In this case the US is determined not to allow a popular regime to arise. It will apologise for any amount of violence by the reactionaries.
    In eastern Europe the US had everything to gain, here it has everything to lose. Without Egypt it does not have a foreign policy.

    One more observation: this is a rising against neo-liberal policies. A more focused and angry version of what was seen in the streets of Athens. Mubarek, and his foreign sponsors, have imposed neo-liberal, trickle down economic policies and the result has been the impoverishment of a country already desperately poor. In many ways this is a revolution with clearly socialist objects: equality, control over the economy, full employment, welfare and healthcare provision, free education and more in the same line.

    I fear that there is about to be a terrible and bloody attack on the popular forces. It will be carried out by US trained officers, employing US supplied weapons furnished with ammunition being rushed in by the US.

    I hope that I am wrong.

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