(by Anthony Freda, www.anthonyfreda.com)
GeorgeWashington has collected many quotes and interviews that might substantiate the claim. In addition, many protestors believe that government forces let the incarcerated members of the Muslim Brotherhood out of various prisons.
Media Conventional Wisdom on all this will be hugely important. Huffington Post just changed its glaringly red and large-font headline announcing that Protestors were looting, implying anarchy. That would seem designed to give the Mubarak government license to crack down further.
“Al Jazeera reported today:
[Al Jazeera reporter] Ayman Mohyeldin reports that eyewitnesses have said “party thugs” associated with the Egyptian regime’s Central Security Services – in plainclothes but bearing government-issued weapons – have been looting in Cairo. Ayman says the reports started off as isolated accounts but are now growing in number.The Telegraph reports:
“Thugs” going around on motorcycles looting shops and houses, according to Al Jazeera. They say they are getting more and more reports of looting. More worryingly, one group of looters who were captured by citizens in the upmarket Cairo district of Heliopolis turned out to have ID cards identifying them as members of the regime security forces.Similarly, Egyptian newspaper Al MasryAlyoum provides several eyewitness accounts of agents provocateur:
Thugs looting residential neighborhoods and intimidating civilians are government-hires, say eyewitnesses.
In Nasr City, an Eastern Cairo neighborhood, residents attempting to restore security told Al-Masry Al-Youm that looters were caught yesterday.
“They were sent by the government. The government got them out of prison and told them to rob us,” says Nameer Nashaat, a resident working alongside other youths to preserve order in the district. “When we caught them, they said that the Ministry of Interior has sent them.”
GW crossposted this at NakedCapitalism. In the comments section, DownSouth writes:
To place all of this in a larger philosophical framework, the larger goal is to brand every revolution as being like the French Revolution, the Bolshevik Revolution, the Nazi Revolution, the Maoist Revolution, the Iranian Revolution, etc. Defenders of authoritarian states go to untold lengths to promote and sustain this fiction. [snip]
In an attempt to salvage the reputation of revolution, [Hannah] Arendt redfined it when she wrote:
But violence is no more adequate to describe the phenomenon of revolution than change; only where change occurs in the sense of a new beginning, where violence is used to constitute an altogether different form of government, to bring about the formation of a new body politic, where the liberation from oppression aims at least at the constitution of freedom can we speak of revolution.
Arendt has largely been vindicated by history, as an entire series of nonviolent Arendtian revolutions over the last 60 years testify. It began in 1956 with the Hungarian Revolution. It continued in 1974 with the overthrow of the Greek junta, of the autocracy in Portugal that same year, and the transition to democracy in Spain in 1975. The long parade of peaceful revolutions that followed included many others, the Solidarity movement in Poland in the 1980s, the ouster of the Argentinean junta in 1982, the fall of the military dictatorship I neighboring Brazil in 1985, the expulsion of the dictator Fernando Marcos in the Philippines in 1986, in the revolution by “people power,” the fall of the autocrat Chun Doo Hwan in South Korea, the collapse of the Soviet Union and its empire in the late 1980s and early ‘90s, the replacement of the apartheid regime of South Africa with majority rule in the early nineties, the fall of Slobodan Milosevicz in 2003, the “Rose Revolution” in Georgia in 2003, and the “Orange Revolution” in Ukraine in 2005.
In the face of all this history, the defenders of police states have now staked out a smaller piece of ground. While Westerners are indeed capable of Arendtian revolutions, they argue, Arabs/Muslims are not. This is the party line, as is discussed in this article by John Quiggin from yesterday’s “Links.” The peoples of the Middle East are an “exception.” They are incapable of pulling off an Arendtian revolution.
The outcome in Egypt is of course anything but certain. My most sincere wish for the Egyptian people, however, is that they will be successful in pulling off an Arendtian revolution, and forever laying to rest the doctrine of the “Arab exception” that is being promoted so vehemently by American authoritarians.”
The Quiggen piece is about ‘Arab Exceptionalism;, one version of which is that Arab nations and people aren’t capable of Democracy, which gives cover to the theme that in the quest for Resource Control, it’s thus legitimate to support dictators who were in the right place at the right time to control a nation. Shorter: work with the dictator that benefits your Western Nation.
There was also a bit of a debate about Egypt and neo-Liberal economics being at the core of the wealth disparity in Egypt (not quite as starks as in the US; I’ll try to fetch up the link), but this piece from The Guardian’s Jack Shenker says it was reported as far back as 2008. An exceprt:
Since 1991, the year Egypt yoked itself to an IMF structural adjustment programme and embarked on a series of wide-ranging economic reforms, the country has been something of a poster child for neoliberal economists who point to its remarkable levels of annual GDP growth as proof that “Washington consensus” blueprints for the developing world can work. Coming on the back of an economic crisis precipitated partly by profligate government spending on arms sales (subsidised by US aid), the regime of President Hosni Mubarak signed up to an IMF loan that was conditional on economic liberalisation. Those conditions – relaxed price controls, reduced subsidies, an opening up of trade – were met with gleeful abandon. (my bold)
Ever since, the country has been subject to successive waves of neoliberal reform. In 1996 a huge privatisation drive kicked off – resulting in sham sales to public banks and regime cronies, a rapid deterioration of working conditions and a wave of strikes so powerful that one analyst labelled it the largest social movement seen in the Middle East in half a century.
Important discussions in these galloping Freedom Domino Events, IMO.