Violence and Chaos in Cairo Plague Arab Spring
Posted Wednesday, November 30, 2011 1:12 PM
From New America Media: The Tahrir Square of today is a place of rampant violence and sexual assault, perpetrated by the state terror apparatus and street thugs alike. The recent toll: 40 dead, 2,000 seriously wounded and countless others intimidated, beaten and raped.
The 18 days Egyptian protesters endured on the square last winter, after Hosni Mubarak stepped down under direct pressure from President Obama and the Egyptian people began to claim a revolution they did not entirely own, are now being remembered with sweet nostalgia; celebrated as a time when “intellectuals” were the guiding light of the protests as opposed to today’s rule by thugs. (Yet even back then, a mob of Egyptian men assaulted and raped CBS chief foreign correspondent Lara Logan.)
Today, women risk their dignity and personal safety by going to Tahrir, a place where rapists roam freely and assault at will. One of the more vocal and prominent victims among them is Egyptian-American journalist Mona Eltahawy, who had her left arm and right hand broken before being sexually assaulted by Egyptian riot police. Eltahawy later told NPR, “We are experiencing a political revolution in Egypt, but we need a cultural and social revolution.”
Yet, perhaps Eltahawy is too close to events at Tahrir to realize that it was pressure from the United States that ultimately led to Mubarak’s fall – the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back -- and it was the U.S. that also ordered the Egyptian military to measure its response against the protesters. Moreover, to say that “we need” any kind of revolution comes across as naive and foolish on its face. Positive change comes only after years of preparation, organization and sacrifice, very little of which has been seen in the Arab world. Indeed, true change defines rather than demands its necessity.
These instant revolutions threaten to bring only more long-lasting pain to an “arc of instability” which is now being drawn from the heart of the Middle East to the westernmost reaches of North Africa. If any meaningful and lasting change is to occur, the millions in this vast region surviving on a dollar or two per day must first gain the wherewithal to think beyond their next meal, let alone “democracy.”
Early next year, this catastrophic “spring” is to reach its first anniversary, and a starry-eyed global media is still describing the events as an Arab “awakening” toward “democracy.” Yet the stark death tolls, massive disruption of lives and lack of a clear, constructive plan to move forward in such countries as Libya, Syria, Egypt and Yemen tell an entirely different story: What little these beleaguered nations have enjoyed in terms of stability and prosperity--albeit under the thumbs of abject autocrats--is being deliberately and systematically destroyed....
Wishful thinkers at home and abroad are quick to dismiss any “conspiracy theory,” even as they watch endless scenes of violent clashes and funeral processions on their TV screens. They still want to believe that elections – held in the midst of state terror and mob violence carried out by a people fiercely divided by unresolved class, ethnic, religious and tribal differences -- will magically bring about rule of law, government by consensus and civil debate.
In his address to the nation on March 28, 2011, President Obama justified America’s impending intervention in Libya by saying, “Thanks to the extraordinary sacrifices of our troops and the determination of our diplomats, we are hopeful about Iraq’s future. But regime change there took eight years, thousands of American and Iraqi lives, and nearly a trillion dollars. That is not something we can afford to repeat in Libya."
According to Obama’s outlook, Libya is a resounding success done on the cheap: Overthrowing Muammar Gaddafi took only months to accomplish and did not cost a single American life. Yet today, as he was in March, the president remains “hopeful about Iraq’s future” even after eight years of American occupation during which Iraq has become a failed state with rampant corruption. Meanwhile, the largest beneficiaries of the war in Iraq remain ExxonMobil, Royal Dutch Shell, BP and Petronas, which enjoy the spoils of war via lopsided contracts written in their favor, which they negotiated with the puppet regime on the take.
Eight years from now, if “everything goes right” from the point of view of [the president], Libya and the rest of the “Arab Spring” nations could be in precisely the same predicament as Iraq is today.