Obama's Lecture in Cairo

Wednesday, June 3, 2009 7:08 AM

Since the assassination of  president Anwar Sadat in October 1981--due to his signing a peace agreement with Israel--Egypt has become a Washington satrapy, with Sadat's vice-president, Hosni Mubarak acting as the satrap-for-life. Right after the assassination, Mubarak declared marshal law; it remains in effect to this day. 

Anwar Sadat was a great man, a modern day Pharaoh, if you will. Compared to him, Mubarak is small potatoes. He has morphed into a tin-pot tyrant. I very much doubt, had Sadat survived, that he would have allowed Egypt to serve as a rubber-stamp for the existing Tel Aviv-Washington Diktat over the entire region. Mubarak has. 

My non-expert guess is that Sadat would have spoken out effectively against the destruction of Iraq which began with Gulf War I in 1991. Sadat would not have stood by quietly as Tel Aviv gobbled up more of Palestine in the 1980s and 90s. That was not why he signed a peace treaty brokered by Jimmy Carter. A state of permanent occupation of the West Bank is antithetical to Sadat's modus vivendi with the Zionists. Remember the formula or slogan, "land for peace".

To pay for Mubarak's compliance and reward him for providing "stability", Egypt receives billions annually from American taxpayers, thanks to the U.S. Congress. Rest assured that if the Israel Lobby in America for one moment were to suspect that Mubarak was no longer useful to Tel Aviv's agenda, or was working contrary to that agenda, then U.S. "foreign aid" to Egypt would cease instanter. Please note that Mubarak was a virtual partner with Tel Aviv in its assault against the caged-up Palestinians in Gaza five months ago. 

My immediate concern is the security situation before, during and after Barack Obama's speech in Cairo, scheduled for tomorrow, June 4th. Obama's presence is tantamount to an endorsement of the Mubarak regime. It is foolhardy. Al-Qaeda is an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood, which was born in Egypt when it was ruled by Gamal Nasser. The operational leader of al-Quaeda is the Egyptian doctor, Ayman al-Zawahiri. See Robert Fisk's observations below.

Moreover, the whole point of Obama's speech, supposedly to reach out to the Muslim world, makes no sense. Washington's current obsession known as "the war on terror" has little to do with Islam, per se. This avoidable and deceptive conflict, referred to as "the clash of civilizations" by American Neocons, transcends religious dogma. The conflict is about realities more basic--such as right and wrong, interventions in other peoples' space, nationalism vs. imperialism. Washington did not invade Afghanistan to fight Islam. Washington did not invade Iraq to fight Islam. Let's face it, Washington and the American people do not give a damn about Islam, one way or the other.

By the same token, the 9/11 terrorists did not arrive in America to take the country over and subjugate it to Islam. Essentially, they were nationalists and fanatics, similar to the Japanese pilots who attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7th, 1941. They were reacting to a perceived threat or injustice to their homeland, posed by Washington. That is what motivated them, and that is what motivated the Japanese. With Americans unconcerned and unaware of what was happening in both instances, officials in Washington--starting with the President--deliberately and foolishly placed America in harm's way. Pearl Harbor and the World Trade Center represent repercussions and consequences.

It seems to me illogical, beside the point, condescending and presumptuous for Obama to lecture the Muslim world from Cairo about America's purported goodwill toward Islam prior to and in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. The Muslim world can observe Washington's record in the Middle East. Nothing Obama can say will change that record. Besides atmospherics and talk, there is little Obama can do going forward. In the final analysis, this murky situation is not about America or Islam. Both are involved tangentially, the former as a hijacked vehicle, the latter as a morale booster for people who feel under siege. This is really about the rise of Zionism.     


Robert Fisk: Police state is the wrong venue 

for Obama's speech

[THE INDEPENDENT, London,  Wednesday, June 3rd, 2009] 

Maybe Barack Obama chose Egypt for his "great message" to Muslims tomorrow because it contains a quarter of the world's Arab population, but he is also coming to one of the region's most repressed, undemocratic and ruthless police states. Egyptian human rights groups – when they are not themselves being harassed or closed down by the authorities – have recorded a breathtaking list of police torture, extra-judicial killings, political imprisonments and state-sanctioned assaults on opposition figures that continues to this day.

The sad truth is that so far did the US descend in moral power under George W Bush that Obama would probably have to deliver his lecture in the occupied West Bank, even Gaza, to change the deep resentment and fury that has built up among Muslims over the past eight years. This, of course, Obama will not do. So Egypt, sadly, it has to be, though he will see nothing of the squalor and fear in which Egyptians live.

Only a week ago, for example, the leader of the opposition Ghad party, Ayman Nour – only released from prison by President Hosni Mubarak's regime in February – complained that he was assaulted in a Cairo street by a man with a make-shift flamethrower, suffering first degree burns to his face. Mr Nour spent three years in jail and is outraged by Obama's visit. "It seems to have been intended to bolster the power of the regimes, not of the people," he said. "We are absolutely astonished that our Egyptian political and civil society are ignored. It gives the impression that American interests are more important than American principles." The investigations of human rights groups show Mr Nour has every reason to be angry.

The latest Cairo Institute for Human Rights (CIHR) report on government abuses in the Arab world is packed with examples of state brutality, including 29 cases of torture and ill-treatment in Egyptian police stations in just six months. The Egyptian Organisation of Human Rights, a separate group, discovered that 10 of the 29 died after torture. In one case, rights groups acquired a videotape of a prisoner being anally raped with a stick by a police officer. Other videos show one of Mubarak's political opponents – a woman – being sexually molested by a plain-clothes police officer in a Cairo street. In 2007 alone, the Egyptian syndicate of journalists reported that 1,000 journalists were summoned to appear before government investigative officials.

A prominent case, the CIHR said, was that of Ibrahim Eissa, editor of Al-Dastour newspaper, who received two months in prison for allegedly publishing "false news" about Mubarak's health, thus "undermining public security". Interestingly, Egyptian state television no longer shows news film of Mubarak climbing aircraft steps or conference podiums; Egyptians, of course, wonder why. When Sa'ad eddin Ibrahim, of the Ibn Khaldun Centre for Development Studies, called upon the US to make its billions of dollars of aid to Egypt provisional upon the country's progress in democratic reform, he was condemned in absentia to two years' hard labour. Several bloggers were detained for calling for a public strike on Mubarak's 80th birthday last year. Al-Jazeera's Howeida Taha was fined 16 months ago for "damaging Egypt's reputation" by shooting a film on torture in police stations.

Human rights workers have been physically assaulted as well as arrested. When Dr Magda Adly, of the Al-Nadeem Centre for the rehabilitation of torture victims, left a police station in Kafr el-Dawa after interviewing four detainees who said they had been tortured, she was knocked unconscious and her arm was broken.

Why does Mubarak allow these obscenities to continue? Does he truly believe the extraordinary presidential election figures – he won the 1999 poll with 93.79 per cent, and an earlier 1993 election with 96.3 per cent – or, in his 81st year, is he afraid of his political opponents, however powerless they may be? Will he discuss all this with Obama? It is unlikely.

In fairness, the CIHR also records a series of shameful attacks on journalists by so-called Islamic courts leading, inevitably, to fines. It also recounts a vast litany of torture and executions by other Arab regimes from Tunisia to Syria, including the occupied West Bank and Gaza. So perhaps Obama should stay clear of the lot.