Egypt from the Left

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If one were to confine their reading to progressive outposts, one could be forgiven for believing that a glorious new age of freedom and democracy is emerging in the Middle East.  Yet while it is arguable that democracy, as represented by the overthrow of authoritarian regimes in Tunisia and Egypt, and ongoing unrest in Yemen, Algeria, Libya, Bahrain and Iran, may indeed be developing, the idea that freedom is an integral part of such developments is questionable at best.  The “people’s triumph” as it was referred to by Anand Gopal in a column for The Nation, may yield a far less triumphant future, when short-term jubilation gives way to long-term reality.

As expected, while events are still be viewed through progressive, rose-colored glasses, the removal of despotic regimes in the Middle East accrues to Barack Obama’s credit. The “Bush Doctrine,” a central plank of which included the idea of establishing democracies in the region to combat terror, is dismissed by Nation columnist Ari Berman as a “messianic, barrel-of-a-gun foreign policy,” which pales by comparison to the “grassroots, bottom-up spirit of the Obama [presidential] campaign.”  Mr. Berman extrapolates: “Would the Egyptian youth have taken to the streets during the invasion of Iraq?  Only to denounce the imperialism and recklessness of the United States. It was only after the election of Barack Obama—and his repositioning of the United States as a friend to the Arab world, most notably during his visionary speech in Cairo in June 2009—that pro-democracy activists in Tehran and Cairo saw a friendly ally in the United States.”

Perhaps Mr. Berman’s memory is somewhat faulty.  When Iranian protesters took to the streets to protest Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s stolen election–within days of Mr. Obama’s “visionary speech”–the president decided that “meddling” in Iranian affairs was a bridge too far.  “It is not productive, given the history of US and Iranian relations to be seen as meddling in Iranian elections,” he said.  The president went further at a later time, explaining that “[t]he difference between Ahmadinejad and [Iranian opposition leader Mir Hossein] Mousavi, in terms of their actual policies, may not be as great as has been advertised.”  Perhaps the president might explain how the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt’s most politically viable “opposition group,” whose slogan, “Allah is our objective, the Prophet is our leader, the Koran is our law, jihad is our way, and dying in the way of Allah is our highest objective” represents a contrast “in actual policies” to the Mubarak regime.

And then there is the characterization of the Egyptian protesters themselves.  Uri Aveny, writing for Counterpunch, described them as “non-violent, their demands were reasonable, their actions were spontaneous, they obviously expressed the feelings of the vast majority of the people. Without any organization to speak of, without leadership, they said and did all the right things.”  Yet several news people covering the uprising were roughed up, including CNN’s Anderson Cooper, who claims he was beaten by “pro-Mubarak supporters.” Perhaps he was.  Or perhaps not.  As Cooper himself put it, “There was no rhyme or reason to it—it was just people looking for a fight, looking to make a point, and punching us.”   ABC’s Christiane Amanpour had her car surrounded by part of the mob.  She reported that they said, “We hate Americans.”  And in a story which CBS News sat on for almost a week, it has been revealed that reporter Lara Logan, “covering the jubilation,” as CBS put it, was sexually assaulted by a mob of Egyptian men who beat her up badly enough to put her in a U.S. hospital, where her condition is described as “serious.”  It was reported that the men were shouting, “Jew, Jew!” as the assault took place.

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  • informer

    yes he is!

  • ObamaYoMoma

    the world will see whether the “incredible” uprisings taking place across the region give way to genuine democratic reforms, or if those reforms become nothing more than a stepping stone for Islamic jihadists to impose Sharia law across the entire region.

    Western style democracy in Egypt or any Muhammadan majority country, for that matter, is simply impossible, as Sharia and Jihad are intrinsic to Islam and are inseparable. Hence, any future government that emerges will inevitably employ Sharia, which is a very strict and draconian form of totalitarianism that controls every aspect of Muhammadan’s lives down to the minutest of details and the most trivial of matters. Indeed, the only freedom that Sharia allows is the freedom for Muhammadans to become more devout slaves of Allah. As a matter of fact, the Mubarak regime also employed Sharia for the most part.

    Indeed, if the secular leftist students try to institute separation of mosque and state and liberal westernized freedoms and liberties, they will be obliterated as blasphemers and apostates of Islam.

    Indeed, anyone pushing democracy in the Middle East, like the Left and also like many liberal Republicans, should have their respective heads examined. Indeed, the so-called democracies in Afghanistan and Iraq, which are the products of liberal Republicans, are really Sharia states and thus both of those states will inevitably become enemies of the USA and all unbelievers per the dictates of Sharia, and if you believe otherwise, you don’t have the first clue about Islam and you are also resorting to wishful thinking.

  • hijinx60

    YoMoma summed it up fairly well. To the liberals in America, democracy has one meaning and it is that which we associate with western thinking. To the Islamists, freedom and democracy equate to Sharia law and the 'freedom' to kill infidels. Given was Obama raised in its teaching, he knows this. I have felt from the beginning that somewhere behind the scene Obama was working in Egypt. He asked Mubarak to immediately step down (then back-trracked on this) and a close listen to his speeches about Egypt reveal an attitude of almost cheering the MB on. Could this be where some of the "lost" stimulus money is??

  • Wesley69

    It is not democracy that Obama cares about. He views the US as the ROGUE state in the world. The US is the cause of the grief and suffering in the world. After the European colonial empires fell the US assumed the position. He is determined to humble the US. Israel to Obama, is an imperialist creation. Egypt and other dictators supported by the US examplifies US colonialism. If they are overthrown, that weakens the US. Democracy to Obama is just a word. If the Fundamentalists take over, in Obama's view, this would be good. It would create a power that could oppose US colonialism. If Iran gets the bomb, Obama doesn't care. It balances and counters US influence in the area.

  • American Eagle

    What 'democracy'? In EGYPT? I haven't seen any 'pro-democracy' anything happening in egypt since before the Flood