Blog Archive - 2011

Challenges for Change in Algeria

Tunisia and Egypt are relatively centralized states, Algeria not so, neither politically, nor culturally, nor geographically. Historically, the interior has been difficult to control, and there is no guarantee that the rest of the country would rally to the protests taking place in the capital as in the case of Egypt.

The Algerian regime is wealthy and can buy off large segments of the population. It can rule more autonomously than Ben Ali or Mubarak because it is less dependent on foreign aid. It can endure a political crisis far longer. The regime has also been weathered by a far more severe political crisis in its recent history, and survived relatively unscathed a grueling civil war of more than 10 years (1992-2003).

The memory of this conflict may be a factor. As analysts have noted, the memory may act as a brake on popular political action, but by the same token, is the regime willing to contemplate political degradation that may lead to renewed conflict? [Read more…]

“Mubarak has fallen. The regime didn’t”

CAIRO — Mubarak has fallen. The regime didn’t. We still have the same cabinet appointed by [Mubarak]. The emergency state is still enforced. Old detainees are still in detentions and new ones since the 25th of January remain missing. There is no public apology for the killing. We hear several executives are being prosecuted, including minister of Interior Habib El Adly. Process not transparent. Parliament has not been dissolved. Nor has the Shura council. etc.

Aida Seif El Dawla is with the Nadeem Center for Victims of Torture in Cairo. She was profiled by Time magazine as a global hero in 2004.

Time to forge new, democratic system

CAIRO — Last night, February 11, Cairo was the scene of what may well have been the largest street party in world history.  It was incredibly powerful and moving.  Of course, the night’s festivities marked both an end and a beginning. Now is the time for Egypt’s judges, other legal professionals, diplomats, other negotiators, intellectuals, and spokespersons for social and economic constituencies to forge a new, responsible, transparent, democratic system of civilian governance. [Read more…]

Our Man in Cairo

With Mubarak’s departure, the focus now falls on his chosen successor, Omar Suleiman. According to a classified American diplomatic cable released by WikiLeaks, Suleiman was Israel’s pick to succeed Mubarak. But there’s little doubt that he was also the choice of the United States, or at least of one particular American agency with which he has been closely tied through much of his career, the CIA.

During the war on terror, Suleiman headed Egypt’s foreign intelligence agency and as such he was the key contact for the CIA in a number of activities, particularly including its highly secretive extraordinary renditions program. When American interrogators wanted to use the crudest torture techniques, they did so through proxy arrangements, and their first stop was in Egypt. The CIA’s Cairo station chief, who now heads the agency’s CounterTerrorism Center and who routinely briefs President Obama, developed a legendarily tight personal relationship with Suleiman. [Read more…]

Online Resources on Egypt and Beyond

With protests against the Egyptian regime continuing, here is a partial list of resources:

A critical Facebook page is “We are all Khaled Said” — also see the associated webpage (For background on Khaled Said, see IPA news release.) See:; live updates at; Al-Jazeera English live blog and video, or via YouTube: Arabic and English.

See some Twitter feeds: #Jan25 (referring to the Egyptian protests which began January 25);; feed from Cairo; @avinunu (who is in Amman) set up a Reporters in Egypt list. Philip Rizk @tabulagaza; blogger at @3arabawy; blogger at @arabist; Al Jazeera English corespondent @AymanM; Democracy Now‘s @sharifkouddous; CNN’s Ben Wedeman. Voice to Tweet from Egypt:

Also: #Sidibouzid (refers to the town of Mohamed Bouazizi, the Tunisian street vendor who on December 17 was the first of several in the region to immolate himself in protest.)

Based in the U.S., but with extensive contacts in the Mideast:; the new journal;; IPA communications director Sam Husseini’s personal feed @samhusseini

For translating from Arabic and French websites and Twitter feeds, can be helpful

(Photo by Nasser Gamil Nasser, who was assaulted by police.)

Hungry Gazans Feed Egyptian Troops

Mohammed OmerRAFAH, Feb 9, 2011 (IPS) – Mustapha Suleiman, 27, from J Block east of the Rafah crossing with Egypt, crosses through gaps in the iron fence on the border carrying bread, water, meat cans and a handful of vegetables for Egyptian soldiers stationed on the other side. [See at Inter Press Service]

Egypt’s military-industrial complex

With US-made tear gas canisters fired on protesters in Cairo, Washington’s role in arming Egypt is under the spotlight

In early January 2010, Bob Livingston, a former chairman of the appropriations committee in the US House of Representatives, flew to Cairo accompanied by William Miner, one of his staff. The two men were granted meetings with US Ambassador Margaret Scobey, as well as Major General FC “Pink” Williams, the defence attaché and director of the US Office of Military Cooperation in Egypt. Livingston and Miner were lobbyists employed by the government of Egypt, helping them to open doors to senior officers in the US government. Records of their meetings, required under law, were recently published by the Sunlight Foundation, a Washington, DC watchdog group. [See at the Guardian]

Uprising Pays Off -– Sort of

Emad MekayToday I went to a town only 23 kilometers south of Tahrir Square. The plan was to see if the 11-day uprising in Egypt has produced any benefits so far – just by way of finding something different from the insecurity and chaos in Cairo. Kirdasa, a small town known for its flower nurseries and handmade crafts sold to tourist, was where I went. Here’s what I found out: [Read more…]

Mubarak, Army, U.S., Israel vs Egyptian People

[As government forces have attacked peaceful protesters in Tahrir Square, Emad Mekay from Cairo reports]

Mubarak is clearly backed by the Americans. He took some moves after speaking with Obama and a visit by a former U.S. Ambassador to Egypt Frank Wisner.

Mubarak, the army, the Americans and the Israelis are clearly on one side. That’s one camp. The people of Egypt (most of them now) are the other.
The Americans want Mubarak to stay on for longer while they look for a suitable successor that would be best for U.S. interests.

Mubarak’s tactic is to make Egyptians choose between “security”, that he supposedly provided over the past 30 years, or insecurity, vandalism, and chaos that he is also providing now. [Read more…]

Unrest Spreads to Sinai

Mohammed OmerA Bedouin youth casually spreads out a piece of cloth before a police headquarters in Sheikh Zwayyed town in Sinai, the vast desert area to the east of Cairo across the Suez. “I will leave when Mubarak leaves,” he says. [Full piece from Inter Press Service]