Revolt in Egypt

The Egyptian tyrant Hosni Mubarak, after having ruled for thirty years under the emergency laws called into effect after the assassination of Anwar Sadat, has been confronted with the largest demonstrations against his regime since the ‘bread riots’ in the 1970s. His infantile tinpot tyranny has given the Egyptian people nothing whatsoever in thirty years of rule: one-third of the population is illiterate, a quarter lives on less than $2 a day, there are virtually no political institutions that can represent the popular will and needs, and the Third World ‘population trap’ is present in one of its worst forms in that country. Mubarak has now declared around midnight local time in Cairo that he has fired his government, many of whose ministers had been ‘serving’ for more than ten years; although this is a blatant attempt at sacrificing those around him in order to buy himself time and legitimacy, this seems if anything rather a sign of weakness. The inspiration from the people of Tunisia in their overthrow of the useless kleptocracy of Zine el-Abedine Ben Ali will certainly have played a major role, but so has the persistent economic failure of the government, the lack of development, and the worsening of poverty under the current crisis and the attendant rise in food prices. Continue reading “Revolt in Egypt”

The Palestine Papers

It is a period of sudden upheaval in the Middle East, portenting great things to come. In the spirit of the international organisation against official secrecy Wikileaks, the Arab news channel al-Jazeera has published a great collection of papers relating to the so-called peace process between Israel and Palestine.(1) What these Palestine Papers reveal is not anything surprising for any diligent observer of Middle Eastern affairs, but their contents are explosive nonetheless. The more than 1600 documents revealed show irrefutably how the Palestinian Authority and its official negotiators have used the veil of secrecy to go much beyond what even the most peace-loving Palestinian would condone, and have offered to cede basically all bones of contention to Israel in exchange for a recognition of an independent Palestinian state. Not just the right of return for expelled Palestinians was sacrificed in the offer, leaving five million Palestinians permanently in exile, but negotiatior Saeb Erekat also offered to cede Palestinian claims to East Jerusalem, and even actively asking Israel to occupy strategic positions within Palestinian territory in order to undermine the position of the ruling party’s main opposition, Hamas. This does not just reveal the egocentrism, the mendacity and the opportunism of Fatah and the so-called representatives of the Palestinian people in their sham negotiations with Israel, where they were willing to sell virtually all of the significant demands of the Palestinians for a mess of pottage consisting of some fleeting prestige in the West and subverting their domestic opponents, but it also reveals the even greater hypocrisy and mendacity of the Israelis. After all, Israel and its supporters have forever been claiming that Israel is always willing to sacrifice so much to achieve a lasting peace, but those crazy Arabs are just unwilling to see reason. That old story should now be definitively dead and buried, now that the world knows how without any such mandate the PA was willing to give up virtually everything in order to rule its little bogus enclave as Palestine, and even that was too much for the Israelis and their ‘clean hands’. Continue reading “The Palestine Papers”

Revolution in Tunisia

All the Arab world, and perhaps the wider world as well, is amazed at the recent news that the Tunisian people have risen up and overthrown their dictator of many years, Zine el-Abedine Ben Ali. Ben Ali, who was known for holding ‘elections’ in which he invariably won with at least 90% of the vote, had ruled for about 24 years without interruption or meaningful opposition. During his reign, Tunisia underwent a period of steady economic growth and an influx of foreign tourism, while domestic opposition both of the left and of the reactionary kind was easily kept in check by Ben Ali’s security apparatus. Tunisia as a result was never known as a country with much serious chance of undergoing revolt, let alone revolution; it was praised by the hypocrites in the West as a fount of ‘stability’, that Holy Grail of Western policy, by which they mean the persistence of tyranny. But as Mao said, all reactionaries when it comes to it are paper tigers, and are easily blown away by the wind, no matter how strong they may look from the outside. This month in 2011 therefore marks the important date of being the first time in history that direct street protests and revolt managed to overthrow, and overthrow quickly and efficiently, an Arab dictator. Continue reading “Revolution in Tunisia”