Friday, March 30, 2012

Most Egyptians do not want US economic aid

The US gives an amount of foreign military financing, sometimes reported as $1.3 billion, other times as $1.5 billion per year to Egypt's military. What exactly is bought with this money is kept secret from the people of the United States and from the people of Egypt. While the details of the disbursement is unclear, the intention that these funds be used to hold Egypt's military accountable to the US rather than the people of Egypt is clear. Even after a new constitution is written, the US and its pro-US military dictatorship in Egypt hope to prevent civilian oversight of the military budget and therefore of the US' relationship with the body the US hopes will set Egypt's foreign policy regardless of the will of Egypt's voters.
The new majority is likely to increase the difficulty of sustaining the United States’ close military and political partnership with post-Mubarak Egypt, though the military has said it plans to maintain a monopoly over many aspects of foreign affairs.
Given that the Barack Obama administration hopes any future Egyptian democracy does not extend to control over foreign policy and the US' secret payments to the military dictatorship are a mechanism for maintaining this non-accountability to the Egyptian people, we would expect that the people of Egypt do not want US aid to ocntinue. That is what we see.
Egyptians' opposition to U.S. economic aid continued to climb in early 2012. More than eight in 10 Egyptians in February said they opposed U.S. economic aid, up 11 percentage points since December and up 30 points since April 2011 when Gallup first posed the question.
The US can and should unilaterally make public how this foreign military financing is spent. That's what a country would do if aimed to advance the US' proclaimed founding value of democracy. Instead Barack Obama advances the racist proposition that democracy for more than 85 million Egyptians is subordinate as a goal to fewer than six million Jewish people having an enforced political majority state in Palestine.

Barack Obama's position is disgusting, but it is good to see the people of Egypt are increasingly able to see it for what it is.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

The final moments of US colonial control of Egypt

A new Egyptian constitution will be written and endorsed by a referendum this year. An interesting aspect of the process is that the pro-US military dictatorship does not have a majority of the constituent assembly that will write the constitution. There does not seem to be a mechanism by which the pro-US dictatorship would be able to ensure that the military remains accountable to the US as it is now rather than to Egyptian voters after the new constitution has been ratified.
Mostafa Bakri, independent MP and head of the committee in charge of supervising the vote-counting process, indicated that as many as 589 parliamentarians participated in electing the 100-member constituent assembly, half of which will be made up of MPs, the other half of figures from outside parliament. “Until 9 pm,” Bakri added, “only 250 votes had been counted. It is not expected that the counting will be finished until the early hours of Sunday 25 March.” Employees of the People’s Assembly’s Information Centre and the Central Agency for Statistics and General Mobilisation are in charge of processing the votes. “They will see how many votes each candidate got,” said Bakri.

Yet hours before the process was completed, the names of members were made public through a list distributed to members of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) distributing copies of a list of names from parliament and outside, asking their colleagues to vote for that list. Early results show that the Islamist forces - mainly the FJP and the Salafist Nour Party - will dominate, with some 70 per cent of the assembly’s 100 members. The 50 MPs include 25 FJP MPs, 11 MPs from the Salafist Nour Party and 14 independent and non-Islamist party MPs. The 50 non-parliamentarians include constitutional law professors, prominent public figures, chairmen of political parties, religious clerics and others belonging to Islamist forces.
This is a hopeful time. We will see if this actually is the year that those in Egypt who believe their government should be accountable to Egyptians are able to wrest control of their country from the US and parties in Egypt that are subject to US influence.

In the meantime, Egypt is continuing its policies of attempting to harm Hamas for the sake of Israel. Those policies are popular with Americans like Barack Obama but unpopular with the people of Egypt. For now, Egypt's government is accountable to Barack Obama and to not Egyptians. But there is cause to be optimistic that this relationship is now coming to an end.

Waco Texas and the armed rebellion in Syria

It almost goes without argument that sovereign states do not and cannot allow zones to be established within their territories outside of the effective physical control of the central government. There was a very good and somewhat recent illustration of this principle in the United States when the US presidency was last held by a member of the Democratic party before Barack Obama.
The Waco siege began on February 28, 1993, and ended violently 50 days later on April 19. The siege began when the United States Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF), accompanied by several members of the media, attempted to execute a search warrant at the Branch Davidian ranch at Mount Carmel, a property located 9 miles (14 km) east-northeast of Waco, Texas. On February 28, shortly after the attempt to serve the warrant, an intense gun battle erupted, lasting nearly 2 hours. In this armed exchange, four agents and six Branch Davidians were killed. Upon the ATF's failure to execute the search warrant, a siege was initiated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The siege ended 50 days later when a fire destroyed the compound when a second assault was launched. 76 people (24 of them British nationals) died in the fire, including more than 20 children, two pregnant women, and the sect leader David Koresh.
There was never even a suspicion that Koresh's Branch Dravidian group had hostile foreign support. But for that group to control even its privately-owned compound to the potential exclusion of central security forces is intolerable for the United States no more and no less than it is for Bashar Assad's Syria. Barack Obama would handle a similar situation exactly the same way Bill Clinton did and Assad would. If hostile foreign powers were openly supporting organizations attempting to establish zones that are denied to central security forces, any sovereign leader of a dictatorship or democracy would use overwhelming force to prevent denied zones or liberated territory from being established.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Barack Obama's $1.3 billion dollars worth of colonialism: Why the US and Jimmy Carter want Egypt's military budget to remain secret

The people of Egypt are beginning to say, through their elected representatives, how they would like their foreign policy to be run. The Associated Press reports:
Egypt’s Islamist-dominated parliament unanimously voted on Monday in support of expelling Israel’s ambassador in Cairo and halting gas exports to the Jewish state.
The vote was taken by a show of hands on a report by the chamber’s Arab affairs committee that declared Egypt will “never” be a friend, partner or ally of Israel. The report described Israel as the nation’s “number one enemy” and endorsed what it called Palestinian resistance “in all its kinds and forms” against Israel’s “aggressive policies.”
The parliamentary report also called for the recall of Egypt’s ambassador in Israel and a revision of Egypt’s nuclear power policy in view of the widespread suspicion that Israel has a nuclear arsenal of its own.

“Revolutionary Egypt will never be a friend, partner or ally of the Zionist entity (Israel), which we consider to be the number one enemy of Egypt and the Arab nation,” said the report. “It will deal with that entity as an enemy, and the Egyptian government is hereby called upon to review all its relations and accords with that enemy.”

Monday’s vote by parliament could serve as an indication of what may lie ahead.
But the Post reassures us that Egypt's Parliament does not set foreign policy in Egypt, the pro-US dictatorship retains that power.
The motion is largely symbolic, because only the ruling military council can make such decisions, and it is not likely to impact Egypt’s relations with Israel.
A recent poll of Arab populations in Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Jordan, Palestine, Lebanon, Sudan, Egypt, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco and Mauritania (not yet fully released in English) show that the Egyptian people are not alone in their opposition to the policies of the US colonies of Saudi Arabia, Jordan, UAE, Kuwait, Egypt and others.
  • Contrary to mainstream global media coverage, 73 per cent of those polled see Israel and the US as the two most threatening countries. Five per cent see Iran as the most threatening, a percentage that varies between countries and regions.

  • A high 84 per cent believe the Palestinian question is the cause of all Arabs and not the Palestinians only.

  • A high 84 per cent reject the notion of their state's recognition of Israel and only 21 per cent support, to a certain degree, the peace agreement signed between Egypt, Jordan and the PLO with Israel. Less than a third agree with their government's foreign policy.

  • When it comes to WMD, 55 per cent support a region free of nuclear weapons and 55 per cent see Israel's possession of nuclear weapons as justifying their possession by other countries in the region.
We've seen many times on this blog the military dictatorship's commitment to Western news organizations that it intends to prevent Egypt's citizens from controlling foreign policy.
The new majority is likely to increase the difficulty of sustaining the United States’ close military and political partnership with post-Mubarak Egypt, though the military has said it plans to maintain a monopoly over many aspects of foreign affairs.
We've also seen Jimmy Carter publicly expressing support for that type of arrangement.
" 'Full civilian control' is a little excessive, I think"
"I don’t think it is going to be detrimental for the military to retain some special status."
“If the civilian leadership decided to give the SCAF immunity from prosecution, say, for the death of the people in Tahrir Square over the last few months, I would have no objection to that,” Mr. Carter said. Protecting the military budget from full civilian scrutiny might be another point where civilian political leaders could compromise, he said.
Let's look at that last part more closely. "Protecting the military budget from full civilian scrutiny might be another point where civilian political leaders could compromise, he said."

Parliament's recent vote makes it more clear than ever that what the Obama administration is buying for $1.3 billion per year is policies that are in line with Obama's values, perceptions and sensibilities rather than those of the people of Egypt.

A foreign government that multiple polls show most Arab people consider one of the two biggest threats to them contributes 1.3 billion dollars a year to Egypt's military. The representatives of the Egyptian people are not to even see how this money is disbursed. Details of the financial relationship between the United States and Egypt are kept secret from the Egyptian people. Jimmy Carter has expressed no objection to that, at least for the foreseeable future.

The demand that the military budget not be under civilian oversight is crucial for maintaining the type of semi-colonial status the US hopes to retain if Egypt attains a democratic facade, and the modern way to implement Great Britain's classic colonialist effort to in 1922 to cede sovereignty to an Egyptian government but only over policy areas Britain was not concerned with. This is the single policy issue most important to look at to gauge Egypt's progress toward independence from the United States.

Rather than support a foreign-sponsored effort to impose a civil war on Syria that could not remove Assad without killing tens if not hundreds of thousands of people at the very least, if Obama favored democracy he could simply inform the pro-US colonial dictatorship of Egypt that the US is no longer willing to pay it to oppose the policy preferences of its own people. Then he could do that for other pro-US dictatorships where the US has tremendous enough leverage to force them to pursue policies supported by fewer than a third of their people.

But Obama opposes democracy. Instead he commits to do whatever it takes to maintain Israel's regional advantage over any potential adversaries. Whatever it takes means Saudi Arabia, which outspends Israel 2.5 to 1 on military expenditures must remain under the control of a pro-US dictatorship rather than risk being influenced any group of voters in that country. It means the misery the US has recently imposed on Iraq should, if Obama is able, be extended to Syria and eventually even to Iran if the US could do so with little enough consequence.

On this issue of democratic oversight of the military budget, we will see if the people of Egypt are able to overcome Barack Obama's efforts to limit their sovereignty and hold the 85 million people of Egypt, on behalf of fewer than 6 million Jewish people in Israel, in a state of colonial subordination.

I'm actually optimistic that Egypt will break free, and while I hope as soon as June this year Egypt will be able to make foreign policy that reflects the views, sensibilities and perceptions of their people, I am even more optimistic that the US control of Egypt is disintegrating and even if it is not gone this year, like US control of Iraq, it will not be able to survive one or two electoral cycles. I believe that in the long term and even the medium term, US control of Egypt is over.

Unfortunately Barack Obama and the US' hold over the other colonies in the region: Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Kuwait, UAE and others has not visibly begun to break. Hopefully we will see that next.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Iran's real position on Israel

Supporters of Israel will not agree with Iran's position, but we'll remember Daniel Davies' observation that "good ideas do not need lots of lies told about them in order to gain public acceptance."

The idea that Iran intends or has threatened to attack Israel with nuclear weapons is just a lie. Netanyahu deliberately tells this lie because without these lies, his position, support for Zionism against the wishes of the people of the region, is incompatible with Western values.

But here are Khamenei's words. I highly recommend reading the speech in full.
The solution of the Islamic Republic to the issue of Palestine and this old wound is a clear and logical proposal that is based on political wisdom accepted by global public opinion and it has been presented in detail previously. We neither propose a classic war by the armies of Islamic countries, nor do we propose throwing Jewish immigrants into the sea or arbitration of the United Nations and other international organizations. We propose a referendum among the Palestinian people.

Just like any other nation, the Palestinian nation has the right to determine its own destiny and to elect its own government. All the original people of Palestine - including Muslims, Christians and Jews and not foreign immigrants - should take part in a general and orderly referendum and determine the future government of Palestine whether they live inside Palestine or in camps or in any other place.
White South Africans accepted majority Black rule because the long term trend turned against them. Long before Black people were able to effectively impose their will on White South Africans by force, that being a potential eventuality led White South Africans to reach an accommodation that ended their enforced political majority.

If the people of the Middle East, in Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Kuwait, UAE, Egypt and other current governments ruled effectively as colonies by pro-US dictators gain the accountability over their governments' policies, then Jewish people in Israel will accept non-Jewish rule for the same reasons.

The people of Palestine, if negotiations for a transition begin when the threat is still potential as they did in South Africa, would be flexible as Black South Africans were about the rights of what Khamenei calls "foreign immigrants".

The alternative is colonialism. When Barack Obama says the United States "will do what it takes to preserve Israel's qualitative military edge because Israel must always have the ability to defend itself, by itself, against any threat", he is saying he will do all he can to ensure that the 400 million non-Jews of Israel's region remain either under sanction, foreign-supported civil war or direct pro-US dictatorial rule indefinitely for the sake of fewer than six million Jewish people in that territory. A Black-skinned Cecil Rhodes and a true embarrassment to the human race.

Sunday, March 04, 2012

What is sacrosanct for the United States: Israel or Democracy?

A quick look at two contradictory passages from Barack Obama's speech to AIPAC:
In many ways, this award is a symbol of the broader ties that bind our nations. The United States and Israel share interests, but we also share those human values that Shimon spoke about: a commitment to human dignity. A belief that freedom is a right that is given to all of God's children. An experience that shows us that democracy is the one and only form of government that can truly respond to the aspirations of citizens.
Four years ago, I stood before you and said that, "Israel's security is sacrosanct. It is non-negotiable." That belief has guided my actions as president. The fact is my administration's commitment to Israel's security has been unprecedented. Our military and intelligence cooperation has never been closer. Our joint exercises and training have never been more robust. Despite a tough budget environment, our security assistance has increased every single year. We are investing in new capabilities. We're providing Israel with more advanced technology the types of products and systems that only go to our closest friends and allies. And make no mistake: We will do what it takes to preserve Israel's qualitative military edge because Israel must always have the ability to defend itself, by itself, against any threat.
The question this raises is could Israel preserve both its qualitative military edge and the ability to defend itself, by itself against any threat if, among others, Saudi Arabia was not ruled by a pro-US dictatorship?

If not, then Barack Obama as US President doing what it takes to preserve Israel's advantage means working to ensure that Saudi Arabia continues to be ruled by what is effectively a colonial government subordinate to the US.

We've seen before that Saudi Arabia spends more than 2.5 times as much as Israel does on its military.
Military spending
Rank Country Spending ($) % of GDP Per capita ($)
8 Saudi Arabia 42,917,000,000 11.2% 1,524
18 Israel 13,001,000,000 6.3% 1,882
We've seen that the vast majority of Arab populations consider Israel one of the two primary threats to them. (With a majority considering the US itself the other.)
Name TWO countries that you think pose the biggest threat to you.

Israel 71%
United States 59%
Iran 18%
Westerners like the misleading poll result that Arab populations are "prepared for peace" if Israel returns ALL of the territory Israel captured in 1967. But let's look at that result more closely. (Same poll as above.)
Which of the following statements is closer to your view?

24% - Prepared for peace if Israel is willing to return all 1967 territories including East Jerusalem, and Arab governments should put more effort into this

43% - Prepared for peace if Israel is willing to return all 1967 territories including East Jerusalem, but Israel will never give up these territories easily

23% - Even if Israel returns all 1967 territories, Arabs should continue to fight
Despite the contorted and indirect way this this question is posed, its result is that only 24% of Arab populations want their governments to put more effort into getting Israel to return all 1967 territories. Worded as it is, if this poll is correct, the official position of the pro-US colonial dictatorships may still only have the support of distinct minorities of their populations.

I'll also note that it would not be inconsistent for a person to be "prepared for peace if Israel returns all 1967 territories and want his or her government to put more effort into this" while also believing Israel is not legitimate, should not exist, and that a transition to Arab/Muslim majority rule would still be preferable to Israel returning all 1967 territories.

43% of these populations would be "prepared for peace" if Israel was to return ALL of the land captured in 1967 without any additional effort from their governments. Barack Obama does not call for Israel returning all 1967 territories. No Israeli leader, left or right, has ever offered to do so.

Leaving aside the difference between to accept and to be "prepared for peace", how many of these 43% would be prepared for peace if instead of returning all captured land, Israel was to offer a resolution along the outlines that Israel's supporters discuss: Israel annexes territory where there are currently large settlements, offers a very limited right to return, if any, and the remaining Palestine is demilitarized and physically blocked by Israeli or US troops from Jordanian territory? Let's just say the pollsters of Brookings would prefer you not to know the answer to that question. I'm sure for good reason from their points of view, as Western supporters of Zionism as a project.

We've seen a poll of the Iranian people that asks about acceptance of Israel without Brookings' misdirection. Unlike that of Saudi Arabia Iran's population is mostly non-Arab and mostly not Sunni. There is no reason to expect the opposition of the people of Saudi Arabia to Israel to be less than that of the Iranian people.
18. Level of agreement - The state of Israel is illegitimate and should not exist.

Strong Agreement: 51.9%
Mild Agreement: 14.6% (total agree, 66.5%)
Neutral: 21.1%
Mild Disagreement: 4.6%
Strong Disagreement: 3.9% (total disagree 8.5%)
Saudi Arabia does not have to cooperate with an explicit US pledge to be militarily inferior to a country that spends 60% less than it does on arms. It is absurd to think a government that represents the values, perceptions and sensibilities of the people of Saudi Arabia would do so. Democracy for Saudi Arabia would mean at least taking the risk that the US would be unable to maintain its commitment to Israel. Barack Obama stood before the audience at AIPAC and said that it is a risk he would not take.

The US' founding value of democracy - as well as Obama's poetic and dishonest statement that he believes freedom is a gift deserved by all of God's children - is not quite as sacrosanct as the string of colonial dictatorships Obama maintains for the sake of Israel, including Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt, Kuwait, UAE and others.

Saturday, March 03, 2012

Syria as a strategic issue for Barack Obama

I'll leave a segment of Barack Obama's interview with the Atlantic's Jeffrey Goldberg without much comment for now.
GOLDBERG: Can you just talk about Syria as a strategic issue? Talk about it as a humanitarian issue, as well. But it would seem to me that one way to weaken and further isolate Iran is to remove or help remove Iran's only Arab ally.


GOLDBERG: And so the question is: What else can this administration be doing?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, look, there's no doubt that Iran is much weaker now than it was a year ago, two years ago, three years ago. The Arab Spring, as bumpy as it has been, represents a strategic defeat for Iran, because what people in the region have seen is that all the impulses towards freedom and self-determination and free speech and freedom of assembly have been constantly violated by Iran. [The Iranian leadership is] no friend of that movement toward human rights and political freedom. But more directly, it is now engulfing Syria, and Syria is basically their only true ally in the region.

And it is our estimation that [President Bashar al-Assad's] days are numbered. It's a matter not of if, but when. Now, can we accelerate that? We're working with the world community to try to do that. It is complicated by the fact that Syria is a much bigger, more sophisticated, and more complicated country than Libya, for example -- the opposition is hugely splintered -- that although there's unanimity within the Arab world at this point, internationally, countries like Russia are still blocking potential UN mandates or action. And so what we're trying to do -- and the secretary of state just came back from helping to lead the Friends of Syria group in Tunisia -- is to try to come up with a series of strategies that can provide humanitarian relief. But they can also accelerate a transition to a peaceful and stable and representative Syrian government. If that happens, that will be a profound loss for Iran.

GOLDBERG: Is there anything you could do to move it faster?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, nothing that I can tell you, because your classified clearance isn't good enough. (Laughter.)
Obama is not motivated, never has said and likely never will say that he is motivated in Syria primarily by the goal of minimizing the loss of human life.

Do the people of Syria oppose the policies of the Assad government that Obama opposes? Syria's support for Hezbollah and Hamas? There has never been an indication that this is the case.

Do the people of Syria believe Israel is a legitimate state any more than the Iranian people who by a margin of seven to one believe Israel is an illegitimate state that should not exist? There is no reason to believe they do and good reason to believe they do not.