mardi 1 février 2011

Revolts in Egypt

I am trying to follow very closely the massive popular revolts taking place in Egypt, a country whose President, Hosni Mubarak, has tortured (physically and mentally) and killed many of his own people for the past 30 years with full US/Western support. Looking at his political/economic/human rights record, it should go without saying that his removal from power should have been organised long ago. It was thus surprising to hear the content of Hillary Clinton's initial "assessment" of the situation, which [was] "that the Egyptian government is stable and is looking for ways to respond to the legitimate needs and interests of the Egyptian people"(AFP). She did not judge necessary to offer supplementary insight on what may have led these hundreds of thousands of protestors to march in the streets to demand the immediate removal of Mubarak, knowingly exposing themselves to the brutal government repression (more than 150 killed already, the vast majority of which are Mubarak's direct responsability).

But being a key military ally of both the USA and Israel, Mubarak's long relationship with Washington was seen by Clinton as superior to the social needs and aspirations of the Egyptian people. How much of the $1.5 billion that the US gives as "aid" to Egypt annually actually gets spent on public interest projects, such as public schooling, healthcare, housing and sanitation, sustainable agriculture and material consumption,...? The CIA's own "World factbook" reports that "Egypt's economy was highly centralized during the rule of former President Gamal Abder NASSER but has opened up considerably under former President Anwar EL-SADAT and current Mohamed Hosni MUBARAK. Cairo from 2004 to 2008 aggressively pursued economic reforms to attract foreign investment and facilitate GDP growth", but despite all his benevolent and self-sacrificing efforts, under Mubarak's economic planning "over the past few years, living conditions for the average Egyptian remain poor"(CIA FACTBOOK).

Mohamed ElBaradei, the chief opposition leader and ex-Director General of the IAEA (who publicly exposed the Bush administration's lies on the presence of WMD's in Irak, but did not succeed in stopping the start of the Irak war,), told CBS's Face the Nation that Mubarak's response to the massive revolts don't "even begin to address peopless concerns. Peoples' concerns right now is Mubarak has to go, immediately", going on to say later in the interview that the uprisings had been "many, many years in the making". His last comment says it all: "You can't run a country on repression, detention, torture, lack of economic opportunity for 30 years", said the 2005 Nobel peace prize laureate (GLOBALPOST).

The CIA's own "official" assessment is that the unemployment rate in Egypt is 10% (the reality is closer to 25-30%...), GDP per capita stands at $6,200 (107th in the world), 20% of the population lives below the poverty line (2005 estimate), the 10% richest Egyptians pocket close to 30% of  "household income and consumption" while the bottom 10% take in 4%. Egypt places 90th in the world in terms of family income distribution (CIA Factbook ibid.). And this without mentioning the harsh martial law imposed during 30 years. Many renowned international organisations, such as Amnesty International, Freedom House and the Egyptian Organisation for Human Rights, have written thorough and highly pertinent reports on the human rights situation. Their conclusion is that Egypt is not a free country, in fact it was, until the recent events, a very smoothly-run police State.

It thus time to man-up and accept the bare reality of the situation: the United States government has been actively supporting one of the most brutal dictatorships in the region for three decades while repeating the same democracy-human rights talking points that have long been exposed as political rhetoric. All must be done to support the Egyptian people in their transition to a true democratic regime in which the people, not corporations or foreign governments, formulate and debate economic/social/political/social policies to be implemented.

'US Sees Egypt's Gov. as Stable Despite Protests', AFP (01/25/2011),

"Egypt" entry on CIA Factbook,

'Mohamed ElBaradeu in Tahir Square urges US to take action against Mubarak', The Global Post,

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