Archive | July 9, 2011

Egypt: There is No Easy Walk to Freedom!

Egypt: There is No Easy Walk to Freedom!

 

By Hwaa Irfan

As a foreigner who has lived in the north and south of Egypt, one is fully aware of the marked difference between the two cultures. The culture of the south is calmer, and richer, because it has greater self identity culturally, and in faith (Muslims and non-Muslims).  In the northern city of Cairo, the battle of self identity is greater, as in any other city around the world, and the dog-eat-dog mentality as one foreigner put it prevails. It is with knowledge and understanding of the trials and tribulations of the Egyptian people, and the survival mechanisms that they put in place that one is able to live, for without that understanding, their hearts cannot be read with any degree of accuracy.

If one has ever had that intense feeling, that a never ending stream of incidents that seems to push one to the brink, day, after day, after day, and that if anyone says a wrong word, makes the wrong assumption that one will explode, then imagine holding that feeling for over 30 years without respite. That is the nature of the feeling behind Egypt’s people revolution that erupted via the youth on January 25th 2011. It had always been said that if Egyptians were to let go the whole of Cairo would go on fire, but that is Cairo, which sees itself as Egypt.

On the exhale of the breath of God, it was with awe that one witnessed the way in which the revolution spread throughout the masses, like watching a chrysalis  about to transform. All the compassion that had been bottled up for years making people unable to communicate with compassion came bursting forth, with the awe-inspiring action of the youth. What could have erupted into chaos in a developed country instead gave way to community responsibility for crimes committed not only by the pre-revolutionary regime, but the opportunists that roamed the streets. Taking care of the community became a shared responsibility, and so did taking care of the area in which one lived.

The people could not  get enough of it, the feeling of belonging, of being empowered, but this is not one will find in the corporate press which thrives on mayhem, and it is mayhem that has erupted in hotspots to calm down again.

Revolution Recall

Without that common sense of responsibility which gives birth to a sense of belonging, the Egyptian people stand tested by their actions.  Admittedly, there are still far too many who do not care, who only have material gain in mind, and who will seek benefit no matter who or what is sponsoring them.  The times have been far from easy. Private businesses have gone under, and the cost of living continues to go up everyday, and there is confusion in the minds of the people and their demands from an interim government, forgetting that they are not here to stay and forgetting what the priorities should be.

Far too many Egyptians are still only conscious of their immediate personal issues, and are unaware of what the governing authorities have achieved in the name of the revolution, and are unaware of the global economic crisis and thus Egypt’s position in that crisis.  Instead of being encouraged, the governing authorities are facing daily demands of the people, of the region, of the continent, and from the powerful influences directed towards Egypt from a globally unrecognized government.

The people along with the governing authorities have in their hands the power to shape their own democracy without claiming any dysfunctional democracy from the outside world, and it is this they need to be reminded of and to take care of after all it is this that has inspired so many to take a stand in the Western world. It may be a position they did not ask for, but it is a position that has to be filled, and facilitated not until all the corruption has been purged by officials, but until the collective sense of purpose felt after January 25th 201 is reignited.

Yes that collective harmony has dissipated drastically, and the following depression after the mass protests of Friday 08th July 2011, was heavy in the air by the next day, because people returned to the reality that their economic circumstances  are getting worse, and they can see no immediate way out of it.

The youth of the January 25th Revolution stand out in the crowd of Egyptian youth, and where they have been called on to speak, to give guidance they should take that position. Yes, they are fully aware that there are other voices, and other demands, but until like those groups and political parties, the youth of the January 25th Revolution have a moral obligation to the people that cannot be fulfilled by anyone else, and that moral obligation is a process of becoming better people who are there for one another enough to survive any trials, and to survive any tribulations.

Corruption

The planned mass protests that took place on Friday 80th July 2011 in Lower Egypt, from Alexandria, Port Said, Ismailia, Suez, Beheira, Assiut, Monufiya, Gharbiya to Tahrir Square in Cairo, was about the slow process of the judicial system. Dissatisfied with the way in which corrupt police and some top officials have been not been charged and imprisoned, and dissatisfied with the performance of the Armed Forces. The protests demanded transparency including the televising of the trials and:

“A real purge, real trials, a real cabinet”

It is far too easy to criticize, although 30 years of reason to doubt makes it very difficult to trust even though Egyptian Armed Forces, and the interim cabinet are facing a broke down system where there has been no one really to ‘hand over’ or ‘take over from.’  While the Armed Forces have had to handle everything from the nation’s economy, employment sector, education sector, health sector, agricultural sector, water security, national security, human rights, foreign relations, counter revolutionary threats from within the nation, and from without while still aiming for a September election so as not to lose the faith of the people.

With all the charges brought against officials, there is one thing that should be done, that if not done is counter revolutionary, and that is the accumulation of evidence that says innocent until proven guilty – in other words, the same concerns of the revolution should be applied throughout.

To demand  a fast process with the current system in place, tempts false charges, and therefore sentences, which could result in imprisoning the wrong people, while those truly responsible get away at least for a while. Then there is the additional problem of a corrupt police force, of which several attempts have been made to rectify the situation in the shortest and quickest possible way. This has obviously not worked as evidenced by the violence that occurs when the police have been put on duty, but this it to be expected.

1)      By what mechanism does one build evidence against a police officer when the evidence falls upon two requirements: a) The evidence that has been destroyed within the police force, b) the witness able to accurately identify a police officer in a given place, time, and supporting evidence?

2)      When found guilty, and convicted, the corrupt official is still present in society whether that is in prison, or in society. He has developed a particular way of working, and that includes corruption, and bullying (offering blood money to the families of the martyrs – those who were killed and tortured in the protests). If full of revenge, he still has the ability to enact revenge, and may b the reason behind the violent flare ups, prison breaks etc. In other words, charged or not charged, he becomes a threat to society.

In other words, is the solution of convicting officials a real societal solution, or a solution that adds to destabilizing the society more?

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Bulletin:

July 09th  2011 onwards – A wave of arrests of corrupt police officials took place in Alexandria

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Some form or reconciliation needs to take place to heal the whole of society without fearing who to trust as exampled by the families of the martyrs who were called away from protesting into an entrapment that sought to criminalize them, and punish them. The people responsible may be officials, and may also be citizens, who will do anything to prevent being found out as they know that they would not be able to live with any dignity in Egypt. Therefore beginning with the police force, all should be re-trained. If they are successful throughout  their training they would have earned an entitled increased salary as a part of taking up their duty, with an over-riding body (which can come from the January 25th Revolution) to monitor their performance.  In this way, the police will know their true position in relation to society, and have the chance to correct that position without being cast out.

If the judicial system is operating has it always has done, and has a long list of other cases awaiting trial, would it not be more practical to set up a special judicial system for the sole purpose of processing the crimes of the old regime This could then be televised allowing for any new evidence to come to the surface, allowing for the filtering of false claims, and involving the people who still need to build trust where trust is not misplaced.

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Bulletin:

09th July 2011 – Interim Prime Minister Essam Sharif  supported the Judicial decision to set up a special court for the charges brought against members of the old regime.

Interim Prime Minister Essam Sharif  began a significant cabinet reshuffle

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Now is the time to build trust, and to form short-term and long term solutions. What can be done well now should be done now, and what requires years to build: health, education, employment housing, agriculture etc, should be left to the new government.

The Elections

The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces suspended the September elections, because of the public debate which is divided between elections first, or new constitution first. To build a house, first the foundation must be set, and for the foundations to not falter, they must be set in ground that supports the foundations.  In other words, it is logical that the constitution should come first in order to protect the people, the land and to develop a sustainable future. Before the Egyptian stock market was reopened, there were healthy discussions and seminars amongst Egyptian economists, most constructive of idea being the need of an economic constitution. By setting the new Constitution in place, the country will not be prone to comings and goings of each election, and exploitation by  global institutions and investors. With time the Constitution can be refined, but not without public debate and a referendum.

As for the political forces who are suddenly active in the protests and sit-ins, they ALL should be tested via a series of televised discussions on all the issues by the public incorporating a live audience, and phone-ins. In this way Egyptian television can serve its role in the shaping of a people’s democracy, and in this way all aspects of the new Constitution facilitating public debate and understanding, thus reducing further commitment by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces who should be respected for what they have achieved, what they will achieved, and forgiven for any mistakes done out of expediency.

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Bulletin:

17th July 2011 – Egyptian state television began live coverage of the trials of members of the old regime.

Former President Mubarak’s trial is scheduled 03rd  August, although facing deteriorating health

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Despite the level of mistrust of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces cast by the foreigners, it must be understood that – well at least I can think of no other people who have an authoritative force who they can count upon to facilitate their demands. One has the right to question, but that right evaporates into thin air in the West. One has the right to criticize, but it is far more constructive to offer solutions, give advice, and practical support where possible.  After 30 years, the people are tired, and then were temporarily rejuvenated, and are now depressed, do not lose the moment to find the balance, to support each other, and to formulate the bridge across tomorrow.

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Bulletin:

17th July 2011 – The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces announced the  preparations for the upcoming elections will start September 18th.

The guidelines for the formation of a representative constituent assembly that will draft Egypt’s new constitution following the elections has been agreed by some presidential candidates.

The UN is offering technical support for the elections, although this expertise already exists amongst Egyptian NGOs!

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Related Topic:

‘Audacity to Hope’: Egypt Says No to IMF

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Libya: NATO Poisoning the Purest Water in the World

Libya: NATO Poisoning the Purest Water in the World

Sites targeted include “civilians and civilian infrastructure.” Scientists from the Surveying and Collecting Specimens and Laboratory Measuring Group confirmed “radioactive isotopes (radioisotopes) at bombed sites” from field surveys conducted. Scientific analysis was conducted at the Nuclear Energy Institution of the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya.

It showed that “several sites contain even higher than expected doses of uranium,” including holes from NATO missiles and ordnance fragments. In interviews, Nazemroaya also said cluster bombs and other weapons are used freely in civilian neighborhoods targeting non-military sites.

Washington and NATO allies are using illegal “dirty bombs.”

In late March, the Stop the War Coalition said dozens of US, UK, and French launched bombs and missiles against Libya in the first 24 hours all had DU warheads. They continue to be used daily despite Pentagon and other governments’ denials.

On April 14, Foreign Policy in Focus columnist Conn Hallinan told Press TV that:

“The fact that the US is denying the use of depleted uranium (DU) munitions is just nonsense.” When used against tanks, “enormous fireballs” are visible, a unique DU signature. As a result, “long-term consequences (for Libyans) are going to be severe.”

Gaddafi started the Great Man made River Project over 25 years ago. It’s the world’s largest irrigation project. Underneath the ground, there lies the Nubian Sandstone Aquifer, the largest known deposit of fossil water and some of the world’s purest.

This “Great Man-Made River” was scheduled to be completed in 2015.

Related Topics:

Eyewitness Libya…

Democracy the Insolvent Phantom of Tomorrow!?

Democracy the Insolvent Phantom of Tomorrow!?

Democracy the Insolvent Phantom of Tomorrow!?

By Hwaa Irfan

 

In the last 10 years, never has so much been done to convince the whole world, of an agenda that has cost so many lives, displaced so many people, have used and excluded the public wholesale, while the public pays the price, changed the global economic system and natural resources to favour a few, changed the structure of so many governments, and to undermine the sovereignty of so many countries, in the of something that has brought the world to its knees. It has been called the “war-on-terror”, but it has been a war on the minds of every man, woman and child, to secure the powerful few. To survive, many went into denial, but many had no choice as they were killed, maimed, and lost control.

The title is partly taken from the Farewell Address of former U.S. president Dwight Eisenhower, which served as an introductory quote of a June 2011 study produced by the Eisenhower Research Project of the Brown University’s Watson Institute for International Studies. Involving over 20 economists, anthropologists, lawyers, humanitarian personnel, and political scientists, they revealed in their final product the astronomical cost of the so-called “war-on-terrorism,” which dwarfs WWII.

The questions were asked:

–        What have the wars that the U.S. has undertaken since September 2001 cost in blood and treasure, opportunities lost and possibilities foreclosed?

–        What are the ongoing consequences for the people who fought them, for bystanders, for democracy, human rights, and civil liberties, for the American economy, budget, and the deficit?

Truths were acknowledged like:

–        The U.S. funding of Pakistan since 2001 for their role in the war-on-terror that are not calculated as equally the fatalities and the consequence of displacement which far outweighs that of Afghanistan.

–        The conservation human body count in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.

The Human Cost

The estimated death toll given in the report for Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan is a moderate 257,655 (from civilians, combatants, and non-combatants). Of the 257,655, 6051 were U.S. soldiers. The report authors are aware how controversial the issue is because of those who have dedicated a good portion of the last 10 years counting lives being exterminated like flies.  1, 463, 948 is the total given by Information House of which 7, 358 are U.S. soldiers and Occupied Forces for Iraq and Afghanistan alone. The fact that the world has looked on the complex situation in Pakistan as one of its own making probably contributes to the lack of data on the human cost.

One cannot help notice how the statistics are organized, with U.S. soldiers and contractors at the top, and the civilians towards the bottom. On cannot also help notice how the statistics the wounded convey an image that does not reflect the reality on the ground for the civilians, and drastically underestimates the number of people and families displaced.

Essentially the Cost of War is about the cost to America, which on the psychological level, which is one that has often been underplayed:

“While American soldiers and their families have demonstrated great resilience, the burdens of these wars that have fallen on veterans and their families include higher rates of suicide and mental illness, increased drug and alcohol dependence, higher rates of violence including homicide and child abuse and neglect (the latter both among the parent left behind and by the returning veteran), high risk behaviors that have resulted in elevated numbers of car crashes and drug overdoses, elevated levels of homelessness and divorce, and clinical levels of stress among the children. There has already been attention to the rising suicide rates among U.S. soldiers and veterans. In 2003, the year of the invasion of Iraq, suicides across the DoD accounted for more deaths than combat. Despite suicide awareness campaigns across the services, across the DoD suicide outnumbered combat deaths again in 2008.”

This should not be so surprising though ugly it may be, but not a consideration for those who orchestrate these wars without care or thought that there would be a fallout on one’s backyard shattering the illusion of the American dream sending thousands to the soup kitchen to survive. Societies around the world have been ripped apart, and turned upside-down, in the name of something that is a construct of the imagination of a powerful few. As long as the truth remains in the hands of a few, the human cost does not matter as long as the power to control the minds and behaviours of peoples, which in turn will sustain their positions of control.

The Financial Cost

The Cost of War study begins with a quote from former President Dwight Eisenhower 1961 Farewell Address which reads:

“As one who has witnessed the horror and the lingering sadness of war — as one who knows that another war could utterly destroy this civilization which has been so slowly and painfully built over thousands of years — I wish I could say tonight that a lasting peace is in sight.

“As we peer into society’s future, we — you and I, and our government — must avoid the impulse to live only for today, plundering for our own ease and convenience the precious resources of tomorrow. We cannot mortgage the material assets of our grandchildren without risking the loss also of their political and spiritual heritage. We want democracy to survive for all generations to come, not to become the insolvent phantom of tomorrow.”

The financial cost has not just been the monies spent directly on these wars, but has essentially cost the whole global economic system. These wars have never been about politics, religion, or an offence committed, it has always been about capitalists maintaining a crumbling capitalism.

The level of irresponsibility in global governance over the past long 10 years have indeed mortgaged the lives of tax payers in the West, who have paid for these wars to be only told their employment is no longer required, their homes, education and health is no longer affordable, and they have to eat food that has been engineered, because the price of normal food is now for the rich. Many of these taxpayers have never realized that the bombs that have been dropped in another country is the other-side of their coin!

The Cost of War calculated a “U.S$2.3 and 2.6 trillion in constant 2011 dollars” has been spent to date on the wars in Iraq, and Afghanistan. They estimate the final cost will be a shocking U.S$3.7 and U.S$4.4 trillion – more than WWII. However, one is not sure on what basis the final cost is calculated meaning where the projected end of these wars arise from. If there is an end date, does this mean that the undeclared goals will be met? Where is the rest of the world within those goals?

Wars financed by borrowing, that did not stimulate the desired economic growth (0.9%) in the U.S., added  U.S$1.3 trillion to the U.S. national debt, raised interest rates by .3%, interest payments that exceeded the cost of war on Afghanistan and Iraq for 2011,  interest rates that have fanned out to all aspects of life for the average person.

Since WWI, oil has been the goal, and the means to holding power. In peacetime, the U.S. Department of Defense is U.S’s largest consumer of oil (4.6 billion gallons of fuel annually), and in war the consumption rockets. These wars have also devastated the economies of Afghanistan, Iraq, and Pakistan while making enormous oil revenues for the corporations concerned, while inflating the cost of oil for everyone else, including all industries affected by it. Possessed by this neurosis, the next step is the Middle East and North Africa, but the difference is that the global economy is not what it was when they conceived the idea of “war-on-terrorism. Neither is the global population as naive, though all too many find it easier to believe the “information” being pumped out by the corporate media about Libya, Syria, and Yemen. The real terror is the one whereby citizens of the West are paying the price, as their civil liberties are being abused, while the sovereignty of any country that has what the powers that be wants is violated, along with the human rights of the citizens of these countries. It was with great hindsight that former President Bush placed the U.S. military and allies under immunity as the atrocities they commit ensue:

“Lawsuits against the U.S. for the violations of human rights and international law associated with its rendition and torture practices have been unsuccessful.12 Courts have accepted the Obama and Bush Administrations’ invocation of the “state secrets doctrine,” but critics say the judicial created “privilege” should not be allowed to shield the government from embarrassment or exposure of wrongdoing.”

They have uprooted communities, destroyed homes, and have polluted environments to the extent that the Earth is in shock, degrading the land left as they move on. However, the report falls short of many things which it has listed, but most importantly, it does not make the most obvious recommendation, which many American citizens would support 100%. Instead the report sustains the mess it describes with 13 recommendations including:

  • Recording all war related deaths and injuries in the war zones; this includes the deaths, injuries and illnesses of US troops (not just those killed in the war zone or medically evacuated) and contractors (whether U.S. citizens or not), civilians in the war zones, enemy combatants, and prisoners. Records should be completed promptly and systematically and made public on a regular basis;
  • Continuing to track the war-related deaths (e.g. suicide) and injuries of troops after deployment, whether or not they receive VA treatment;
  • Fully disclosing the number and nature of detentions at home and abroad and in a timely way;

People Behind the Report

Not mentioned in the report, is ‘former’ democrat – pro-Obama, Susan Eisenhower , granddaughter of former U.S. president Dwight Eisenhower, who was a democrat-cum-republican. Eisenhower is President of the Eisenhower Group Inc., which is a think tank. She has served on the U.S. Dept. Of Energy’s ‘Blue Ribbon Baker-Cutler Commission’ formed by Obama to review American funded nuclear non-proliferation programs in Russia. Eisenhower as served as an advisor for the Department of Energy.

Grand-daughter of former U.S. president Dwight Eisenhower co-authored The Making of a Soviet Scientist, the scientist being  Soviet Nobel Laureate, physicist, human rights advocate, and anti-Afghan war protester, Andrei Sakharov. Eisenhower was the author of Breaking Free, a Memoir of Love and Revolution, published in 1995. She co-edited a book, Islam and Central Asia: An Enduring Legacy or an Evolving Threat?

Eisenhower has been a consultant for Fortune 100, Fortune 500 companies, companies in the energy field, and wrote extensively before 9/11 on nuclear and space issues. Served two terms on the NASA Advisory Council, and joined the International Space Station Management and Cost Evaluation Task Force. She has chaired the Eisenhower Institute’s Leadership and Public Policy Programs, which specializes in training leaders for the future. Eisenhower has served the National Academy of Sciences’ standing Committee on International Security and Arms Control for 8 years.

These are just some of Eisenhower’s strengths, which may throw light on why the report was done now with the recommendations that it made! Susan Einsenhower is also Chair emeritus for the Eisenhower Institute, the “centre for leadership and public policy that prepares the successor generations to perfect the promise of the nation.”

 

 Source:

“Costs of War.” http://news.brown.edu/pressreleases/2011/06/warcosts