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Slaying pharaohs

March 12, 2011

by Robert Saleem Holbrook

“The people have the power, and they will exercise self-determination, rewrite their constitution, and organize really free and fair elections with one person, one vote,” wrote Kiilu Nyasha as millions of Egyptians celebrated in Tahrir Square Feb. 11. – Photo: Suhaib Salem, Reuters
“I have slain Pharaoh” were the words of the Egyptian military officer who led rebel army commandos to assassinate former Egyptian dictator Anwar Sadat in 1981 for selling his country out to the West and abandoning the Palestinian people’s struggle for independence. On Feb. 11, 2011, Egypt’s latest dictator, Hosni Mubarak, who replaced Sadat in 1982 and ruled for 30 years as a modem Egyptian pharaoh, was pushed out of power by a people’s revolt inspired by the January people’s revolt in Tunisia that ended the 20-year dictatorship of Zine Ben Ali.

Mubarak ruled Egypt unchallenged for 30 years and was considered America’s man in the Middle East. He was also America’s partner in terror, allowing his country to be used in the CIA’s rendition program the United States used to transfer so-called terrorist suspects to be tortured for information useful to the U.S. war on terror.

Mubarak’s regime relentlessly tortured and imprisoned members of the opposition in Egypt and, according to a classified U.S. diplomatic cable revealed by WikiLeaks, torture was so widespread that it affected every layer of Egyptian society. Under Mubarak, Egypt also received over $2 billion in U.S. aid, 70 percent of it allotted to the Egyptian military. The military equipment it purchased was aimed not at external enemies but rather at its own people.

When the Egyptian people first took to the streets on Jan. 25 demanding Mubarak’s ouster, the initial response of the United States was silence. Only when the demonstrations peaked on Jan. 28 with hundreds of thousands of Egyptians taking to the streets following Friday prayers and the announcement by the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt’s largest opposition movement, that it would participate in the youth led demonstrations did the United States realize it was time to abandon Mubarak. The time was up on America’s puppet in Egypt, a puppet that served them exceptionally well but never extended this devotion to his own people.

America’s other puppets in the region are now trembling, fearing their oppressed populations will heed the example of the people of Tunisia and Egypt and take to the streets demanding an end to the modern day pharaohs that reign over oppressed nations in North Africa and the Middle East. In Yemen, another U.S. puppet state, the country has been ruled for 32 years by Saleh Ali, a corrupt tyrant who in response to the events in Tunisia and Egypt announced he will not run for another term in the next elections scheduled for 2014.

Egypt received over $2 billion in U.S. aid, 70 percent of it allotted to the Egyptian military.

Yemenis know the word of a tyrant is meaningless and have continued to protest. In demonstrations on Feb. 13 and 15, Saleh, taking a page from Mubarak, deployed thugs armed with knives to break up the demonstrations. The response from the United States? Silence. Yemen is another partner in the U.S. war on terror and cooperates in its imperial ambitions in the region.

In Algeria, another U.S. puppet state, demonstrators have taken to the streets demanding more civil and political freedoms and demanding an end to the state of emergency the country has been ruled under for the past 20 years. Algeria has been ruled by the same authoritarian regime since its independence in 1961.

In 1992, when the country had its only free and fair elections and the Islamic Salvation Front captured over 70 percent of the vote, the military annulled the elections and with Washington’s support initiated a brutal crackdown on the opposition that resulted in a 10-year civil war that left over 200,000 Algerians dead. The United States turned a blind eye to the atrocities committed by the military against members of the ISF.

In U.S. eyes, better a quarter million dead than an Islamic party being democratically elected to power in an important North African state. The Algerian government announced it will lift the state of emergency yet has remained silent on setting a date for free and fair elections. The leaders of the demonstrations announced they will continue to protest. The U.S. has been silent.

In Jordan, protesters have pressured King Abdullah, another puppet of the United States, to enact reforms within Jordan’s political system. However, Abdullah still has not opened his society up to free elections.

In Bahrain, another U.S. puppet state and home to the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet, tens of thousands of protesters have taken to the streets demanding democracy and an extension of civil rights. The response of the U.S.-backed puppet king? He ordered his security forces to fire on the demonstrators, killing many.

You would think the United States would be championing free elections throughout North Africa and the Middle East, but that is not and has never been the case. The United States instead has propped up a legion of modem day pharaohs and is now reaping the rewards of being the enemy to democracy in the region, as its puppet states from Algeria to Yemen are struggling to contain oppressed populations who have developed an appetite for pharaoh.

The position of the United States has been a chorus line of statements urging caution and patience to these restless and oppressed populations, populations who are now realizing the hypocrisy of American democracy and the reality the United States doesn’t want to change the status quo.

While the United States has offered caution and patience to demonstrators demanding revolutionary change in its puppet states, the United States has recently been expressing strong support and encouragement for demonstrators in Iran belonging to the opposition Green Movement. On Feb. 14 and 15, demonstrators returned to the streets in Tehran demanding the removal of President Ahmadinejad. Similar demonstrations failed in 2009.

Regime change in Iran is a priority of the United States, and since the terrorist attacks of 9/11 the United States has spent hundreds of millions of dollars to fund an opposition in Iran. This is not classified information. Congress passed an law called the Iran Freedom and Democracy Support Act.

The position of the United States has been a chorus line of statements urging caution and patience to these restless and oppressed populations, populations who are now realizing the hypocrisy of American democracy and the reality the United States doesn’t want to change the status quo.

What also is no secret is why the United States is aggressively supporting an Iranian opposition movement while cautiously embracing demonstrators in Algeria, Yemen, Egypt, Bahrain and Jordan. The latter are puppet states of the United States while the former is an independent Islamic republic opposed to U.S. dominance of the region.

In an incredible moment of “co-opting the revolution,” the U.S. State Department has announced it has established a Twitter account in Farsi, the language of Iran, to communicate and support the opposition movement via social media forums that have become crucial to these movements’ ability to mobilize. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton again condemned Iran’s crackdown on the recent demonstrations. She also condemned Iran’s shutdown of internet sites supportive of the demonstrators.

In a pompous tone, Clinton stated that the United States believes access to the internet is a fundamental human right. Yeah right. Apparently that right doesn’t extend to WikiLeaks or any websites that host it, but that’s another story.

The fact the United States must learn – and will learn from these people’s revolts that are shaking the region – that it cannot manufacture revolution or regime change in a country it is opposed to. Iran is not Egypt, and regardless, if the United States – and even those of us on the Left – wants to admit it or not, the Mullahs in Iran and the concept of the Islamic Republic has more support within the Iranian republic than the U.S.-backed demonstrators in the streets of Tehran.

The Iranian people were the first to toss out a U.S. dictator, the Shah, in 1979 and paid for their revolution with the blood of thousands. If another change is going to come to Iran, it will come at the hands of the Iranian people, not with the hypocritical support of the United States.

They will be influenced by their own conditions, not some nonsense State Department Twitter account lifted out of a propaganda manual. The U.S. could care less about democracy in Iran; they merely want to remove a formidable obstacle to their plans to dominate the region. The status quo serves the interests of the United States.

This is why President Obama announces he is pleased with the progress being made in Egypt following the ouster of Mubarak. Of course he is pleased; the Military Council that now runs the country belongs to a military that is financed and propped up by U.S. dollars.

Every dictatorship in the Middle East has adopted the Egyptian model and now that these pharaohs are under pressure from their populations, they are looking to see how the Egyptian military manages a smooth transition from the dictatorship of one man to a partial democratic regime still at the service of the United States and the regime’s ruling classes. The Egyptian military is using the time to ensure any transition of power in Egypt preserves its puppet relationship with the United States.

It is unlikely this tactic will be successful if the youth-led movement continues to keep the pressure on the regime. The removal of Mubarak should not be viewed as a victory nor should a democratically elected leader held in check by a U.S.-backed military.

The people should not settle for a Mubarak crony or leader acceptable to the U.S. or Israel. Victory for the Egyptian people should entail the complete restructuring of the Egyptian military, political, intelligence and economic systems that would remove Mubarak’s legacy along with U.S. and Israeli interference in Egyptian affairs. The Egyptian people should not only toss out the puppet, they should cut the strings of the puppet master.

The United States pharaohs are no longer comfortable on their thrones and the oppressed peoples of North Africa and the Middle East are on the move, seeking to reclaim their countries and futures from despotic leaders. The United States now faces the question every colonial empire has at one point faced: Will it release its external colonies and suffer the consequences of economic turmoil or will it continue to prop up unpopular dictators under the guise of democracy and reform?

If history is an example, the peoples of the Middle East will have the final say in this matter and after having slain two pharaohs within a month, their appetite may be insatiable. “I have slain Pharaoh” is now the collective cry of the region. All people dedicated to freedom should join in their cry.

Send our brother some love and light. Write to: Robert Saleem Holbrook, BL-5140, SCI-Greene, 175 Progress Dr., Waynesburg, PA 15370.

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