Egypt a ticking time bomb – Eric Margolis

As battered air travelers struggle to recover from Iceland’s volcanic big bang, another explosion is building up. This time, it’s a political one that could rock the entire Mideast, where rumours of war involving the U.S., Syria, Israel and Iran are intesifying.

President Hosni Mubarak, the U.S. – supported strongman who has ruled Egypt with an iron hand for almost 30 years, is 81 and in frail health. He has no designated successor. Mubarak, a general, was put into power with U.S. help after the 1981 assassination of President Anwar Sadat by nationalist soldiers. Sadat had been a CIA “asset” since 1952.

Egypt, with 82 million people, is the most populous and important Arab nation and Cairo the cultural centre of the Arab world. It is also an over crowded madhouse with eight million people whose population has tripled since I lived there as a boy. Not counting North Africa, one in three Arabs is Egyptian.

Egypt was once the heart and soul of the Arab and Muslim world. Under Sadat’s predecessor, the widely adored nationalist Jamal Abdel Nasser, Egypt led the Arab world. Egytians despised Sadat as a corrupt western today and sullenly accepted Mubarak. After three decades under Mubarak, Egypt has become a political and cultural back water. In a telling incident, Mubarak recently flew to Germay for gall bladder and colon surgery. After billions in U.S. aid, Mubarak could not even trust a local hospital in the Arab world’s leading nation.

The U.S. gives Egypt $ 1.3 billion annually in military aid to keep the generals content and about $ 700 million in economic aid, not counting secret CIA stipends, and vast amounts of low cost wheat. Mubarak’s Egypt is the cornerstone of America’s Mideast Raj (dominion). Egypt’s 469,000-man armed forces, 397,000 paramilitary police and ferocious secret police keep the regime in power and crush all dissent.

Though large, Egypt’s military is starved by Washington of modern weapons, ammo and spare parts so it can not wage war against Israel. Its sole function is keeping the U.S. backed regime in power. Mubarak has long been a key ally of Israel in battling Islamist and nationalist groups. Egypt and Israel  collaborate on penning up Hamas-led Palestinians in Gaza.

Egypt is now building a new steel wall on the Gaza border with U.S. assistance. Mubarak’s wall, which will go down 12 meters, is designed to block tunnels through which Gaza Palestinians rely for supplies. While Washington fulminates against Iran and China over human rights, it says nothing about client Egypt – where all elections are rigged, regime opponents brutally tortured and political opposition liquidated.

Washington could quickly impose real democracy to Egypt where it pulls all the strings, if it wanted.  Ayman Nour, the last man who dared run in an election against the eternal Mubarak – “pharaoh” to Islamist opponents – was arrested and tortured. Now, as Mubarak’s health fails, the U.S. and Israel are increasingly alarmed his death could produce a political eruption in long repressed Egypt.

Mubarak has been trying to groom his son, Jamal, to succeed him. But Egyptians are deeply opposed. The powerful 72-year old intelligence chief, Gen, Omar Suleiman, an ally of the U.S. and Israel, is another army or air force general for the job. Egypt’s secular political opposition barely exists. The regime’s real opponent remains the relatively moderate, highly popular Islamic Brotherhood. It would win a free election hands  down. But its leadership is old and tired. Half of Egyptians are under 20.

Mohammed El-Baradai, the intelligent, principled, highly respected Egyptian former UN nuclear chief, is calling for real democracy in his homeland. He presents a very attractive candidate to lead post-Mubarak Egypt.

Washington hopes it can ease another compliant general into power and keep the security forces loyal before 30 years of pent-up fury at Mubarak’s dictatorship, Egypt’s political emasculation, thirst for change and dire poverty produce a volcanic eruption on the Nile.

eric.margolis@sunmedia.ca

Courtesy: Toronto Sun, April 25, 2010

Justice for Benazir

by Iqbal Tareen

Let us go after the most powerful and obvious force behind assassination of Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto and that is Pervez Musharraf. Once we get him into the trial room all truth will come out.

We must write letters to the government and leaders of any country where Musharraf finds a shelter. Let us close the circle on him. One Target, one Goal, and Tangible outcome is how powerful strategies are fed.

We are planning a public rally in front of the White House very soon. We will reach out to SANA, WSI, WSC, PPP, Muslim League (N), ANP, and all other human rights organizations seeking their fullest cooperation and participation.

After the UN commission report —Haider Nizamani

In Pakistan, Intelligence agencies have gone a tad too far in subverting the state they are supposed to serve. The [UN]commission is correct in observing that “pervasive involvement of intelligence agencies in diverse spheres, which is an open secret, has undermined the rule of law, distorted civilian-military relations and weakened some political and law enforcement institutions. At the same time, it has contributed to widespread public distrust in those institutions and fed a generalised political culture that thrives on competing conspiracy theories.”

Ordinary Pakistanis, especially those who cannot read English, should be given the opportunity to access the report in its entirety, instead of leaving them at the mercy of spin-doctors and prejudiced television anchors trashing the report.

Continue reading After the UN commission report —Haider Nizamani

Link to Sindhi editor or Sindhi Navees

by Abdul-Majid Bhurgri

I am updating the Sindhi Editor. Until now it could only be used on Internet Explorer and on Windows OS. But now it can be used in all browsers and all operating systems. I have tested it in Firefox, Safari, Opera and also in Mac OSX and Linux Ubuntu OS. It is now browser and platform independent. I have also included a click-able on screen keyboard. I hope this will be more useful for Sindhi writers and users.

Link to Sindhi editor or Sindhi Navees

www.bhurgri.com

At least we are not Dubai – George Fulton

Courtesy: Tribune

We haven’t got a lot to be thankful for these days in Pakistan. But at least we are not Dubai.

Fed up with loadshedding, bombs, and TV cynicism pervading Pakistan, I recently escaped to Dubai for a holiday. Big mistake. Huge. Ten days later I returned, gasping for Karachi’s polluted, but far sweeter, air. Dubai may have the world’s tallest building and the world’s largest shopping mall, but it also has the world’s tiniest soul. It’s a plastic city built in steel and glass.

It has imported all the worst aspects of western culture (excessive consumption, environmental defilement) without importing any of its benefits (democracy, art).

Continue reading At least we are not Dubai – George Fulton