In These New Times

A new paradigm for a post-imperial world

Don’t cry for me, Suleiman

Posted by seumasach on February 9, 2011

Pepe Escobar

Asia Times

10th February, 2011

Here’s a crash course on the Egyptian military dictatorship’s sinister worldview compared with the courage displayed by people power.

Exhibit A: Vice President Omar “Sheik al-Torture” Suleiman’s message to the revolution. Pay special attention to the end of the interview. [1]

Context: this is the horse Washington has decided to bet on, the conductor of an “orderly transition”, essentially Mubarakism with a face-lifted military management. Suleiman, in his own words, believes Egypt “is not ready for democracy”.

Curiously, the US State Department now stresses that “elements” of the Egyptian military were active in the ultra hardcore crackdown on activists and journalists last week (human-rights groups now stress over 10,000 people may have been harassed/detained since January 25). This happens to be the same military widely praised for its neutrality and restraint by US President Barack Obama last week, and Pentagon supremo Robert Gates on Tuesday.

And it gets more ominous. According to Egyptian state news agency MENA, “Sheik al-Torture” told “newspaper chiefs” on Tuesday “we can’t put up with” the protests at Tahrir Square; President Hosni Mubarak won’t resign; and there will be “no ending of the regime”. The ongoing dialogue with opposition forces is revealed for what it is: the regime spewing out lies.

Exhibit B: Google marketing executive Wael Ghonim – one of the leaders of the January 25 movement, in his first interview to Egyptian channel Dream TV after being jailed, blindfolded, by the security services for 12 days. Pay special attention to part 5, when Ghonim is shown pictures of the people killed by Mubarak’s goons. [2]

The Ghonim interview was an electrifying catalyst. Even Reuters was forced to tell the whole world “Activist’s tears may be game changer in Egypt”. It’s not by accident that on this Tuesday – marking two full weeks of rage against the regime – Tahrir Square was absolute packed, in fact overflowing to all the side streets.

Scores of well-dressed, camera-toting middle-class citizens went to the square for the very first time – and that included bankers and former ministers. Various faculties from Cairo University joined in. A group of university lecturers occupied the street in front of parliament. Somebody climbed on the front gate and put up a sign (then taken down) saying, “Closed until the fall of the regime.”

Egyptian bloggers and those at the square agree. Around 5% of the protesters belong to Arab nationalist and or/progressive parties. No more than 15% are affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood (MB). And no less than 80% belong to no parties at all, or are apolitical. Talk about revolutionary momentum – even against the multiple co-option strategies deployed by the regime.

Ghonim went to the square as well. And he refused the role of hero/leader already slapped on him by some among the foreign press. He told hundreds of thousands “you are the heroes”. “You” means not only Tahir Square; it means the two-thirds of the 350 million people in the Arab world who are under 35 years old. What Ghonim accepted was to be added to a 10-member coalition of youth groups representatives that are coordinating the protests and advertising their demands.

Even the working class is moving. Ahram online reports that over 6,000 Suez Canal Company workers from Suez, Port Said and Ismailia started a sit-in, protesting about miserable wages and working conditions. And the people from Telecom Egypt are threatening to do the same; they want a 10% rise and the sacking of the managing director.

It’s a no-brainer, between Washington-supported “Sheik al-Torture” and the protesters, who’s on the right side of history. The Egyptian street revolution proves that the ghastly “Arab exception” concept – according to which dictatorship and hardcore repression are intrinsic to the Arab world – was always a false consensus manufactured by Washington, its European minions and the dictators themselves.

Young Egyptians want Western-style democracy, free and fair elections, a free press and most of all, a truly representative, sovereign government. Yet that does not entail remaining a slave of US foreign policy. And at the same time it does not imply that Egypt wants a Sunni replica of supreme leader-run Iran.

As revolutionary Latin America has coined it, la luta continua. The struggle continues. If only, unequivocally, Obama would position the United States in the right side of history. I leave you with a possible soundtrack for the days and weeks ahead, by Syrian-American rapper Omar Offendum and others: [3]
I heard them say the revolution won’t be televised
al-Jazeera proved them wrong, Twitter has them paralyzed …

1. Omar Suleiman on the crisis
2. Wael Ghonim interview .
3. Omar Offendum, The Narcicyst, Freeway, Ayah, Amir Sulaiman

Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007) and Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge. His new book, just out, is Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009).

He may be reached at

(Copyright 2011 Asia Times Online (Holdings)

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