Egypt

Immaculate Intervention: The Wars of Humanitarianism

By George Friedman

There are wars in pursuit of interest. In these wars, nations pursue economic or strategic ends to protect the nation or expand its power. There are also wars of ideology, designed to spread some idea of “the good,” whether this good is religious or secular. The two obviously can be intertwined, such that a war designed to spread an ideology also strengthens the interests of the nation spreading the ideology.

Since World War II, a new class of war has emerged that we might call humanitarian wars — wars in which the combatants claim to be fighting neither for their national interest nor to impose any ideology, but rather to prevent inordinate human suffering. In Kosovo and now in Libya, this has been defined as stopping a government from committing mass murder. But it is not confined to that. In the 1990s, the U.S. intervention in Somalia was intended to alleviate a famine while the invasion of Haiti was designed to remove a corrupt and oppressive regime causing grievous suffering.

It is important to distinguish these interventions from peacekeeping missions. In a peacekeeping mission, third-party forces are sent to oversee some agreement reached by combatants. Peacekeeping operations are not conducted to impose a settlement by force of arms; rather, they are conducted to oversee a settlement by a neutral force. In the event the agreement collapses and war resumes, the peacekeepers either withdraw or take cover. They are soldiers, but they are not there to fight beyond protecting themselves.

 

Concept vs. Practice

 

In humanitarian wars, the intervention is designed both to be neutral and to protect potential victims on one side. It is at this point that the concept and practice of a humanitarian war becomes more complex. There is an ideology undergirding humanitarian wars, one derived from both the U.N. Charter and from the lessons drawn from the Holocaust, genocide in Rwanda, Bosnia and a range of other circumstances where large-scale slaughter — crimes against humanity — took place. That no one intervened to prevent or stop these atrocities was seen as a moral failure. According to this ideology, the international community has an obligation to prevent such slaughter.

This ideology must, of course, confront other principles of the U.N. Charter, such as the right of nations to self-determination. In international wars, where the aggressor is trying to both kill large numbers of civilians and destroy the enemy’s right to national self-determination, this does not pose a significant intellectual problem. In internal unrest and civil war, however, the challenge of the intervention is to protect human rights without undermining national sovereignty or the right of national self-determination.

The doctrine becomes less coherent in a civil war in which one side is winning and promising to slaughter its enemies, Libya being the obvious example. Those intervening can claim to be carrying out a neutral humanitarian action, but in reality, they are intervening on one side’s behalf. If the intervention is successful — as it likely will be given that interventions are invariably by powerful countries against weaker ones — the practical result is to turn the victims into victors. By doing that, the humanitarian warriors are doing more than simply protecting the weak. They are also defining a nation’s history.

There is thus a deep tension between the principle of national self-determination and the obligation to intervene to prevent slaughter. Consider a case such as Sudan, where it can be argued that the regime is guilty of crimes against humanity but also represents the will of the majority of the people in terms of its religious and political program. It can be argued reasonably that a people who would support such a regime have lost the right to national self-determination, and that it is proper that a regime be imposed on it from the outside. But that is rarely the argument made in favor of humanitarian intervention. I call humanitarian wars immaculate intervention, because most advocates want to see the outcome limited to preventing war crimes, not extended to include regime change or the imposition of alien values. They want a war of immaculate intentions surgically limited to a singular end without other consequences. And this is where the doctrine of humanitarian war unravels.

Regardless of intention, any intervention favors the weaker side. If the side were not weak, it would not be facing mass murder; it could protect itself. Given that the intervention must be military, there must be an enemy. Wars by military forces are fought against enemies, not for abstract concepts. The enemy will always be the stronger side. The question is why that side is stronger. Frequently, this is because a great many people in the country, most likely a majority, support that side. Therefore, a humanitarian war designed to prevent the slaughter of the minority must many times undermine the will of the majority. Thus, the intervention may begin with limited goals but almost immediately becomes an attack on what was, up to that point, the legitimate government of a country.

 

A Slow Escalation

 

The solution is to intervene gently. In the case of Libya, this began with a no-fly zone that no reasonable person expected to have any significant impact. It proceeded to airstrikes against Gadhafi’s forces, which continued to hold their own against these strikes. It now has been followed by the dispatching of Royal Marines, whose mission is unclear, but whose normal duties are fighting wars. What we are seeing in Libya is a classic slow escalation motivated by two factors. The first is the hope that the leader of the country responsible for the bloodshed will capitulate. The second is a genuine reluctance of intervening nations to spend excessive wealth or blood on a project they view in effect as charitable. Both of these need to be examined.

The expectation of capitulation in the case of Libya is made unlikely by another aspect of humanitarian war fighting, namely the International Criminal Court (ICC). Modeled in principle on the Nuremberg trials and the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, the ICC is intended to try war criminals. Trying to induce Moammar Gadhafi to leave Libya knowing that what awaits him is trial and the certain equivalent of a life sentence will not work. Others in his regime would not resign for the same reason. When his foreign minister appeared to defect to London, the demand for his trial over Lockerbie and other affairs was immediate. Nothing could have strengthened Gadhafi’s position more. His regime is filled with people guilty of the most heinous crimes. There is no clear mechanism for a plea bargain guaranteeing their immunity. While a logical extension of humanitarian warfare — having intervened against atrocities, the perpetrators ought to be brought to justice — the effect is a prolongation of the war. The example of Slobodan Milosevic of Yugoslavia, who ended the Kosovo War with what he thought was a promise that he would not be prosecuted, undoubtedly is on Gadhafi’s mind.

But the war is also prolonged by the unwillingness of the intervening forces to inflict civilian casualties. This is reasonable, given that their motivation is to prevent civilian casualties. But the result is that instead of a swift and direct invasion designed to crush the regime in the shortest amount of time, the regime remains intact and civilians and others continue to die. This is not simply a matter of moral squeamishness. It also reflects the fact that the nations involved are unwilling — and frequently blocked by political opposition at home — from the commitment of massive and overwhelming force. The application of minimal and insufficient force, combined with the unwillingness of people like Gadhafi and his equally guilty supporters to face The Hague, creates the framework for a long and inconclusive war in which the intervention in favor of humanitarian considerations turns into an intervention in a civil war on the side that opposes the regime.

This, then, turns into the problem that the virtue of the weaker side may consist only of its weakness. In other words, strengthened by foreign intervention that clears their way to power, they might well turn out just as brutal as the regime they were fighting. It should be remembered that many of Libya’s opposition leaders are former senior officials of the Gadhafi government. They did not survive as long as they did in that regime without having themselves committed crimes, and without being prepared to commit more.

In that case, the intervention — less and less immaculate — becomes an exercise in nation-building. Having destroyed the Gadhafi government and created a vacuum in Libya and being unwilling to hand power to Gadhafi’s former aides and now enemies, the intervention — now turning into an occupation— must now invent a new government. An invented government is rarely welcome, as the United States discovered in Iraq. At least some of the people resent being occupied regardless of the occupier’s original intentions, leading to insurgency. At some point, the interveners have the choice of walking away and leaving chaos, as the United States did in Somalia, or staying for a long time and fighting, as they did in Iraq.

Iraq is an interesting example. The United States posed a series of justifications for its invasion of Iraq, including simply that Saddam Hussein was an amoral monster who had killed hundreds of thousands and would kill more. It is difficult to choose between Hussein and Gadhafi. Regardless of the United States’ other motivations in both conflicts, it would seem that those who favor humanitarian intervention would have favored the Iraq war. That they generally opposed the Iraq war from the beginning requires a return to the concept of immaculate intervention.

Hussein was a war criminal and a danger to his people. However, the American justification for intervention was not immaculate. It had multiple reasons, only one of which was humanitarian. Others explicitly had to do with national interest, the claims of nuclear weapons in Iraq and the desire to reshape Iraq. That it also had a humanitarian outcome — the destruction of the Hussein regime — made the American intervention inappropriate in the view of those who favor immaculate interventions for two reasons. First, the humanitarian outcome was intended as part of a broader war. Second, regardless of the fact that humanitarian interventions almost always result in regime change, the explicit intention to usurp Iraq’s national self-determination openly undermined in principle what the humanitarian interveners wanted to undermine only in practice.

 

Other Considerations

 

The point here is not simply that humanitarian interventions tend to devolve into occupations of countries, albeit more slowly and with more complex rhetoric. It is also that for the humanitarian warrior, there are other political considerations. In the case of the French, the contrast between their absolute opposition to Iraq and their aggressive desire to intervene in Libya needs to be explained. I suspect it will not be.

There has been much speculation that the intervention in Libya was about oil. All such interventions, such as those in Kosovo and Haiti, are examined for hidden purposes. Perhaps it was about oil in this case, but Gadhafi was happily shipping oil to Europe, so intervening to ensure that it continues makes no sense. Some say France’s Total and Britain’s BP engineered the war to displace Italy’s ENI in running the oil fields. While possible, these oil companies are no more popular at home than oil companies are anywhere in the world. The blowback in France or Britain if this were shown to be the real reason would almost certainly cost French President Nicolas Sarkozy and British Prime Minister David Cameron their jobs, and they are much too fond of those to risk them for oil companies. I am reminded that people kept asserting that the 2003 Iraq invasion was designed to seize Iraq’s oil for Texas oilmen. If so, it is taking a long time to pay off. Sometimes the lack of a persuasive reason for a war generates theories to fill the vacuum. In all humanitarian wars, there is a belief that the war could not be about humanitarian matters.

Therein lays the dilemma of humanitarian wars. They have a tendency to go far beyond the original intent behind them, as the interveners, trapped in the logic of humanitarian war, are drawn further in. Over time, the ideological zeal frays and the lack of national interest saps the intervener’s will. It is interesting that some of the interventions that bought with them the most good were carried out without any concern for the local population and with ruthless self-interest. I think of Rome and Britain. They were in it for themselves. They did some good incidentally.

My unease with humanitarian intervention is not that I don’t think the intent is good and the end moral. It is that the intent frequently gets lost and the moral end is not achieved. Ideology, like passion, fades. But interest has a certain enduring quality. A doctrine of humanitarian warfare that demands an immaculate intervention will fail because the desire to do good is an insufficient basis for war. It does not provide a rigorous military strategy to what is, after all, a war. Neither does it bind a nation’s public to the burdens of the intervention. In the end, the ultimate dishonesties of humanitarian war are the claims that “this won’t hurt much” and “it will be over fast.” In my view, their outcome is usually either a withdrawal without having done much good or a long occupation in which the occupied people are singularly ungrateful.

North Africa is no place for casual war plans and good intentions. It is an old, tough place. If you must go in, go in heavy, go in hard and get out fast. Humanitarian warfare says that you go in light, you go in soft and you stay there long. I have no quarrel with humanitarianism. It is the way the doctrine wages war that concerns me. Getting rid of Gadhafi is something we can all feel good about and which Europe and America can afford. It is the aftermath — the place beyond the immaculate intervention — that concerns me.

Immaculate Intervention: The Wars of Humanitarianism is republished with permission of STRATFOR.

Photo credit: Sgt. Pete Thibodeau, Public Domain.

Taming Chaos with a Personal Plan

By Scott Stewart

Over the past week we’ve seen a massive earthquake and tsunami in Japan that caused a nuclear accident, the Saudis sending troops into Bahrain to quell civil unrest there and the government of Yemen taking measures to expel foreign media as protests have swelled against Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

We have also recently seen large-scale evacuations of expatriates from Tunisia, Egypt and Libya, and it is not unreasonable to assume that we might see a similar exodus from Bahrain and Yemen if developments in those countries deteriorate. Moreover, in Japan, the risk of radiation and conditions that are not yet under control at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant could force further evacuations there.

In light of this uncertain environment, STRATFOR thought it prudent to address once again the topic of personal contingency planning. Indeed, we also made this topic the subject of this week’s  Above the Tearline video. While we have often discussed this topic in relation to terrorist attacks, its principles are also readily applicable to crises caused by natural disaster, war and civil unrest. When a crisis erupts, having an established personal contingency plan provides people with a head start and a set of tools that can help them avoid, or at least mitigate, the effects of the chaos and panic that accompany crisis events.

 

When Chaos Reigns

When a crisis erupts due to civil unrest, natural disaster or a major terrorist attack, a number of things happen rapidly and sometimes simultaneously. First, panic ensues as people attempt to flee the immediate scene of the disaster, usually seeking safety using the same escape routes. At the same time, police, fire and emergency medical units all attempt to respond to the scene, so there can be terrible traffic and pedestrian crowd-control problems. In the event of large civil disturbances, roads can also be clogged with protesters, troops and panicked civilians. This can be magnified by smoke and fire, which can reduce visibility, affect breathing and increase panic.

In many instances, an attack or natural disaster will cause damage to electrical lines, or the electricity will be cut off as a precautionary measure. Natural gas, water and sewer lines can be damaged, causing leaks, and in the case of natural gas lines raising the threat of explosions and fire. Earthquakes and mudslides can cut roads and shut down mass transit. Often, people find themselves trapped in subway tunnels or in high-rise buildings, and they are sometimes forced to escape through smoke-filled tunnels or stairwells. Depending on the incident, bridges, tunnels, subway lines and airports can be closed or jammed to a standstill. Grocery stores are frequently inundated by people scrambling (and sometimes fighting) to obtain food and supplies.

In the midst of this confusion and panic, telephone and cell-phone usage soars. Even if the main trunk lines and cell towers are not damaged by the event or otherwise affected by the loss of electricity, this huge spike in activity quickly overloads the exchanges and cell networks. This means the ripples of chaos and disruption roll outward from the scene of the crisis as people outside the immediate vicinity of the crisis zone hear about the situation via the media and wonder what has become of loved ones who were in or near the crisis zone.

 

The Need to Plan

Those caught in close proximity to such a disaster site have the best chance of escaping and reconnecting with loved ones if they have a personal contingency plan. While such planning is critically important for people who live and work overseas in high-threat locations, recent events have demonstrated that even people residing in places considered safe, like Cairo and Tokyo, can be caught in the vortex of a crisis. Taking this one step farther, sudden disasters, such as tornadoes, earthquakes, school shootings or the derailment of train cars carrying chlorine, can strike almost anywhere. This means that everyone should have a personal contingency plan.

Emergency plans are vital not only for corporations and for schools but also for families and individuals. Such plans should be in place for each regular location — home, work and school — that an individual frequents and should cover what that person will do and where he or she will go should an evacuation be necessary. This means establishing meeting points for family members who might be split up — and backup points in case the first or second point also is affected by the disaster.

When school-aged children are involved, parents need to take the time to coordinate with the school to learn what the school’s crisis plans are so any measures the school employs can be accounted for during the planning process. A crisis plan should also account for any pets a family may have.

The lack of ability to communicate with loved ones because of circuit overload or other phone-service problems can greatly enhance the sense of panic during a crisis — especially in this age, when people are so dependent on almost-constant communications via the ubiquitous smart phone. Perhaps one of the foremost benefits of having personal and family contingency plans in place is the reduction of stress that results from not being able to contact a loved one immediately. Knowing that everyone is following the plan frees each person to concentrate on the more pressing challenges presented by their personal evacuation. This is critical because someone who waits until he or she has contacted all loved ones before evacuating might not make it out.

It also is important to have a communications plan, which should include the contact information for the designated rallying site as well as an alternate communications hub outside of the area. It might be difficult to communicate from point A to point B, but someone at point A or B might be able to get through to a person at point C. For example, it may be impossible to call from Tripoli to New York, but both parties may be able to call through to Rome.

Alternative means of communication also should be included in the communications plan. If the phone lines and cell phones are clogged, many times text messages can still get through and Internet connections may work to send e-mail. Satellite telephones, though expensive, are also very useful in a communications blackout, as are two-way radios. Analog fax lines can also prove useful when other forms of communication are shut down.

People who are going to serve as communications hubs need to be briefed on the evacuation plan and have contact information (landline and cell phone numbers, e-mail addresses, etc.) for each person who will be participating in the evacuation. The communications hub should also be provided with important personal data on each person, including full name, date of birth, passport numbers, etc. The communications plan also will be helpful in case one member of the family is unable to evacuate immediately or finds it unwise to evacuate at all. In that case, he or she will know where the rest of the family is going and how to contact them once communications are restored.

Planning is important because, when confronted with a dire situation, many people simply do not know what to do or where to start. It is not unusual to find people wandering aimlessly at the scene of a disaster. Not having determined their options in advance — and in state of shock over the events of the day — people quite often find themselves unable to think clearly enough to establish a logical plan, so they just drift around or collapse in helplessness. Having a plan in place gives even a person who is in shock or denial and unable to think clearly a framework to lean on and a path to follow.

 

Evacuating

One of the keys to surviving a catastrophe is situational awareness. Situational awareness allows people to recognizing a potential threat at an early stage and take measures to avoid it. Situational awareness also helps people know where to go when an unforeseen disaster strikes. For example, if the airport is closed by the crisis, situational awareness enables one to understand the alternate means of leaving the country, and if a bridge is damaged on an alternative land route, you can locate another way out. Being aware of the layouts of your residence and workplace is also critical. If an office building is hit by an incident of workplace violence or catches fire, people with a plan will know where the fire exits are and where they lead. Situational awareness will then help them realize when an exit could lead them out of the frying pan and into the fire.

Situational awareness also aids in reacting to a dangerous situation while on the move. If a subway tunnel is filling with smoke from a fire or bombing, situational awareness tells one to keep low in order to avoid being overcome by smoke. Better still, proper preparation can lead people to carry important items such as a smoke hood that can be worn to protect against smoke and a flashlight to help navigate a dark place like a tunnel.

For individuals who work in high-rise buildings, frequently travel or routinely take a commuter train or subway, these two items can greatly assist you if the need to evacuate arises. Smoke hoods are relatively inexpensive devices that can be carried in a briefcase or purse and quickly donned in case of emergency. They will usually provide around 20 to 30 minutes of breathing time, which could quite literally mean the difference between life and death in a smoke-filled hallway, stairway or subway tunnel. Likewise, a small flashlight could prove to be invaluable in a crisis situation at night or when the power goes out in a large building or subway. Some of the small aluminum flashlights can also double as a handy self-defense weapon.

Of course, in some situations, evacuation might not be the best idea. If there is no immediate threat at a specific location, it may be more dangerous to join a crowd of panicked people on the street. In some cases, it might be safest to just stay in place and wait for order to return — especially if the shelter is stocked with food, water and other basic necessities. Situational awareness will allow you to make the call on whether to stay or go.

As part of a contingency plan, it is also prudent to prepare a small “fly-away” kit containing clothes, water, a first-aid kit, nutritional bars, medications and toiletry items for each member of the family. It also is a good idea to include a battery-powered or crank-powered radio and other items such as appropriate maps, multi-tool knives and duct tape. An appropriate amount of cash can also prove quite useful. The kit should be kept in a convenient place, ready to grab on the way out. Even if it is impractical to keep all these items in constant readiness, keeping most of them together and using a prepared list to collect the other items quickly can help get one out the door in seconds. Maintaining important papers, such as vehicle titles, deeds, licenses, birth certificates, passports and credit card information, in a central file allows it to be quickly retrieved in case of an evacuation. Of course, passports are of vital importance in an overseas situation.

Another important part of situational awareness is having the means to receive instructions and information from the authorities. In addition to radio and television, many locations have emergency text and e-mail alert systems that can provide critical information. Overseas, embassies also maintain networks for disseminating information to expatriates such as the U.S. Department of State’s warden system. Individuals should register for such services and ensure they know how information is disseminated before the crisis hits and results in communication disruptions.

When it comes to information pertaining to emergency plans and fly-away kits, the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Administration’s ready.gov site is an excellent resource. For people residing overseas, the U.S. Department of State’s travel information site and the Overseas Security Advisory Council are also valuable resources filled with helpful information.

Now, while it is important to listen to authorities in the case of an emergency, individuals cannot rely on the government to take care of them in every situation because the resources simply may not be available. This means that individuals must have a plan in place designed to take care of themselves and their families.

 

Flexibility Required

In order to be effective, an emergency plan must be fluid and flexible. It is important to recognize that even a good plan can be worthless if reactive measures taken by authorities during an emergency impede execution of the plan, or if the catastrophe itself closes down the airport or a section of a primary escape route. For these reasons, it is best to have several alternate contingency plans that account for multiple scenarios and include various routes and modes of evacuation. Once the emergency is announced, it likely is too late to start devising a back-up plan.

Plans must be also reviewed periodically, at least once a year. A plan made following 9/11 might no longer be valid. Bridges and roads included in the original plan might be closed for construction at the present time or could have been changed to a one-way traffic pattern. Communication plans may also need to be updated if family members move or change telephone numbers.

The contents of fly-away kits should be checked periodically to ensure the kits are functional. Flashlight and radio batteries can lose their charge and need to be replaced. Items such as smoke hoods can become damaged by being carried around in a purse or briefcase for too many years. Food can become stale and inedible. Medications can expire. Children can grow and require different sizes of clothing.

Finally, while having a contingency plan on paper is better than having nothing, those plans that are tested in the real world prove to be far superior to plans that are never tested. Running through an evacuation plan (especially during a high-traffic time such as rush hour) will help to identify weaknesses that will not appear on paper. It also will help ensure that all those involved know what they are supposed to do and where they are supposed to go. A plan is of limited use if half of the people it is designed for do not understand their respective roles and responsibilities.

No plan is perfect, and chances are that individuals will find themselves “shifting on the fly” as conditions on the ground change in the event of an actual emergency. However, having a plan and being prepared allows a person to be more focused and less panicked and confused than those who have left their fate to chance.
Taming Chaos with a Personal Plan is republished with permission of STRATFOR.”

Uninstalling dictator… 100 percent complete! Mubarak resigns

Triumph as Mubarak quits,” Al Jazeera proudly splashed on their homepage. “His resignation,” The Washington Post wrote, “sparked joyful pandemonium in Cairo and across the country, but the next steps for Egypt were unclear as the armed forces took control and gave little hint of how they intended to govern.”

Hosni Mubarak resigned as Egypt’s President, Friday, handling power to the Military. Egypt’s Vice President Omar Suleiman addressed his people, Friday. “In these grave circumstances that the country is passing through, President Hosni Mubarak has decided to leave his position as president of the republic. He has mandated the Armed Forces Supreme Council to run the state. God is our protector and succor.”

There is a lot of awesome images coming from Tahrir Square. Thousands of protesters celebrated in Cairo and Alexandria as soldiers look on.

BBC’s John Leyne reports: “Around Cairo, drivers are honking their horns in celebration and guns are being fired into the air. The huge crowds are rejoicing. However, the army takeover looks very much like a coup. The constitution has been breached. Officially, the speaker of parliament should be taking over. Instead it is the army leadership. Egypt moves into a very uncertain future.”

Egyptian defense minister, field marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi heads the military council, a military source tells Reuters. The military will suspend upper and lower house of Egypt’s parliament.

On Twitter, the Uninstalling Dictator meme finally stopped stalling and reached 100 percent.

The New York Times described it as, “History upends icon of stability.”

“There are very few moments in our lives where we have the privilege to witness history taking place,” The American President Barack Obama remarked from the Grand Foyer at the White House. “This is one of those moments. This is one of those times. The people of Egypt have spoken, their voices have been heard, and Egypt will never be the same.”


Photo credit: Huffington Post/AP, Videos by Al Jazeera
Original version of this report, “Mubarak finally steps down.”

Mubarak finally steps down (Updated)

Hosni Mubarak has finally stepped down as President of Egypt and has handed the power over to the Armed Forces. This was announced by Vice President Omar Suleiman.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IWnJ6hS7H7k&feature=player_embedded[/youtube]

“In the name of God the merciful, the compassionate, citizens, during these very difficult circumstances Egypt is going through, President Hosni Mubarak has decided to step down from the office of president of the republic and has charged the high council of the armed forces to administer the affairs of the country,” he said.

Thousands of protesters are now celebrating in Cairo and Alexandria as soldiers look on.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GllCUkxkEn0&feature=featured[/youtube]

BBC’s John Leyne reports: “Around Cairo, drivers are honking their horns in celebration and guns are being fired into the air. The huge crowds are rejoicing. However, the army takeover looks very much like a coup. The constitution has been breached. Officially, the speaker of parliament should be taking over. Instead it is the army leadership. Egypt moves into a very uncertain future.”

Egyptian defense minister, field marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi heads the military council, a military source tells Reuters. The military will suspend upper and lower house of Egypt’s parliament.

Mubarak refuses to leave (updated)

Full statement of President Obama on Egypt: “The Egyptian people have made it clear that there is no going back to the way things were: Egypt has changed, and its future is in the hands of the people.”

Egyptian blogger Khaled Khalil published on YouTube shortly after Mubarak’s statement that he will not leave: “The people demand the end of the regime,” and “Leave! Leave! Leave!”

Al Jazeera Live Stream is here.

The New York Times reported, “Egyptian Army signals a transfer of power in Egypt.”

Huffington Post: Egyptian Army to safeguard Egypt

Statement of President Obama on Egypt: “The Egyptian people have made it clear that there is no going back to the way things were: Egypt has changed, and its future is in the hands of the people.”

There are conflicting reports as whether Mubarak is still in power or will be out of it soon.

Statement of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces
10 February 2011

Based on the responsibility of the Armed Forces, and its commitment to protect the people, and to oversee their interests and security, and with a view to the safety of the nation and the citizenry, and of the achievements and properties of the great people of Egypt, and in affirmation and support for the legitimate demands of the people, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces convened today, 10 February 2011, to consider developments to date, and decided to remain in continuous session to consider what procedures and measures that may be taken to protect the nation, and the achievements and aspirations of the great people of Egypt.

News reports coming from Cairo indicate that the Egyptian military is taking over. Mubarak is to step down. Egyptian Army Council is said to remain in continuous session. Earlier report from the New York Times indicated it wasn’t a done deal just yet, but conditions on the ground have begun to change.

The road to Cairo’s airport has been closed.

Tahrir Square in Cairo is described as “electric,” as news that Mubarak is stepping down spreads.

CIA Chief reportedly said that there is strong likelihood that Mubarak will step down tonight.

Did Twitter or Facebook cause the Tunisian or Egyptian revolution?

Mathew Ingram of GigaOm makes a good point:

“Did Twitter or Facebook cause the Tunisian revolt? No. But they did spread the news, and many Tunisian revolutionaries gave them a lot of credit for helping with the process. Did Twitter cause the revolts in Egypt? No. But they did help activists such as WikiLeaks supporter Jacob Appelbaum (known on Twitter as @ioerror) and others as they organized the dialup and satellite phone connections that created an ad-hoc Internet after Egypt turned the real one off — which, of course, it did in large part to try and prevent demonstrators from using Internet-based tools to foment unrest. As Cory Doctorow noted in his review of Evgeny Morozov’s book, even if Twitter and Facebook are just used to replace the process of stapling pieces of paper to telephone poles and sending out hundreds of emails, they are still a huge benefit to social activism of all kinds.

But open-network advocate Dave Winer made the key point: it’s the Internet that is the really powerful tool here, not any of the specific services such as Twitter and Facebook that run on top of it, which Winer compares to brands like NBC. They have power because lots of people use them, and — in the case of Twitter — because they have open protocols so that apps can still access the network even when the company’s website is taken down by repressive governments (athough they didn’t mention Egypt or Tunisia by name, Twitter co-founder Biz Stone and general counsel Alexander Macgillivray wrote a post about the company’s desire to “keep the information flowing).

In the end, the real weapon is the power of networked communication itself. In previous revolutions it was the fax, or the pamphlet, or the cellphone — now it is SMS and Twitter and Facebook. Obviously none of these things cause revolutions, but to ignore or downplay their growing importance is also a mistake.”

Exactly. It’s the network.

Why one Egyptian ISP is still online

NewsGarage wrote:

According to France’s Le Monde, Noor provides essential services to the Egyptian stock exchange in Cairo. Thanks to this, the stock exchange’s site is one of the few Egyptian sites still available online. In addition, Le Monde also writes, Noor provides services to large multi-national corporations, including Coca-Cola, Pfizer and Exxon Mobile. Domestically, Noor also provides network services to Egypt Air. Because of this, Noor is likely considered to be an important economic asset and will probably continue operating throughout this crisis. We have to wonder, though, why the company couldn’t keep these business services up and running and didn’t have the ability to cut its regular subscribers off at the same time..”

Special report: Egypt in a Global Context

By George Friedman

It is not at all clear what will happen in the Egyptian revolution. It is not a surprise that this is happening. Hosni Mubarak has been president for more than a quarter of a century, ever since the assassination of Anwar Sadat. He is old and has been ill. No one expected him to live much longer, and his apparent plan, which was that he would be replaced by his son, Gamal, was not going to happen even though it was a possibility a year ago. There was no one, save his closest business associates, who wanted to see Mubarak’s succession plans happen. As his father weakened, Gamal’s succession became even less likely.Mubarak’s failure to design a credible succession plan guaranteed instability on his death. Since everyone knew that there would be instability on his death, there were obviously those who saw little advantage to acting before he died. Who these people were and what they wanted is the issue.

Let’s begin by considering the regime. In 1952, Col. Gamal Abdel Nasser staged a military coup that displaced the Egyptian monarchy, civilian officers in the military, and British influence in Egypt. Nasser created a government based on military power as the major stabilizing and progressive force in Egypt. His revolution was secular and socialist. In short, it was a statist regime dominated by the military. On Nasser’s death, Anwar Sadat replaced him. On Sadat’s assassination, Hosni Mubarak replaced him. Both of these men came from the military as Nasser did. However their foreign policy might have differed from Nasser’s, the regime remained intact.

Mubarak’s Opponents

The demands for Mubarak’s resignation come from many quarters, including from members of the regime — particularly the military — who regard Mubarak’s unwillingness to permit them to dictate the succession as endangering the regime. For some of them, the demonstrations represent both a threat and opportunity. Obviously, the demonstrations might get out of hand and destroy the regime. On the other hand, the demonstrations might be enough to force Mubarak to resign, allow a replacement — for example, Omar Suleiman, the head of intelligence who Mubarak recently appointed vice president — and thereby save the regime. This is not to say that they fomented the demonstrations, but some must have seen the demonstrations as an opportunity.

This is particularly the case in the sense that the demonstrators are deeply divided among themselves and thus far do not appear to have been able to generate the type of mass movement that toppled the Shah of Iran’s regime in 1979. More important, the demonstrators are clearly united in opposing Mubarak as an individual, and to a large extent united in opposing the regime. Beyond that, there is a deep divide in the opposition.

Western media has read the uprising as a demand for Western-style liberal democracy. Many certainly are demanding that. What is not clear is that this is moving Egypt’s peasants, workers and merchant class to rise en masse. Their interests have far more to do with the state of the Egyptian economy than with the principles of liberal democracy. As in Iran in 2009, the democratic revolution, if focused on democrats, cannot triumph unless it generates broader support.

The other element in this uprising is the Muslim Brotherhood. The consensus of most observers is that the Muslim Brotherhood at this point is no longer a radical movement and is too weak to influence the revolution. This may be possible, but it is not obvious. The Muslim Brotherhood has many strands, many of which have been quiet under Mubarak’s repression. It is not clear who will emerge if Mubarak falls. It is certainly not clear that they are weaker than the democratic demonstrators. It is a mistake to confuse the Muslim Brotherhood’s caution with weakness. Another way to look at them is that they have bided their time and toned down their real views, waiting for the kind of moment provided by Mubarak’s succession. I would suspect that the Muslim Brotherhood has more potential influence among the Egyptian masses than the Western-oriented demonstrators or Mohamed ElBaradei, the former head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, who is emerging as their leader.

There is, of course, the usual discussion of what U.S. President Barack Obama’s view is, or what the Europeans think, or what the Iranians are up to. All of them undoubtedly have thoughts and even plans. In my view, trying to shape the political dynamics of a country like Egypt from Iran or the United States is futile, and believing that what is happening in Egypt is the result of their conspiracies is nonsense. A lot of people care what is happening there, and a lot of people are saying all sorts of things and even spending money on spies and Twitter. Egypt’s regime can be influenced in this way, but a revolution really doesn’t depend on what the European Union or Tehran says.

There are four outcomes possible. First, the regime might survive. Mubarak might stabilize the situation, or more likely, another senior military official would replace him after a decent interval. Another possibility under the scenario of the regime’s survival is that there may be a coup of the colonels, as we discussed yesterday. A second possibility is that the demonstrators might force elections in which ElBaradei or someone like him could be elected and Egypt might overthrow the statist model built by Nasser and proceed on the path of democracy. The third possibility is that the demonstrators force elections, which the Muslim Brotherhood could win and move forward with an Islamist-oriented agenda. The fourth possibility is that Egypt will sink into political chaos. The most likely path to this would be elections that result in political gridlock in which a viable candidate cannot be elected. If I were forced to choose, I would bet on the regime stabilizing itself and Mubarak leaving because of the relative weakness and division of the demonstrators. But that’s a guess and not a forecast.

Geopolitical Significance

Whatever happens matters a great deal to Egyptians. But only some of these outcomes are significant to the world. Among radical Islamists, the prospect of a radicalized Egypt represents a new lease on life. For Iran, such an outcome would be less pleasing. Iran is now the emerging center of radical Islamism; it would not welcome competition from Egypt, though it may be content with an Islamist Egypt that acts as an Iranian ally (something that would not be easy to ensure).

For the United States, an Islamist Egypt would be a strategic catastrophe. Egypt is the center of gravity in the Arab world. This would not only change the dynamic of the Arab world, it would reverse U.S. strategy since the end of the 1973 Arab-Israeli war. Sadat’s decision to reverse his alliance with the Soviets and form an alliance with the United States undermined the Soviet position in the Mediterranean and in the Arab world and strengthened the United States immeasurably. The support of Egyptian intelligence after 9/11 was critical in blocking and undermining al Qaeda. Were Egypt to stop that cooperation or become hostile, the U.S. strategy would be severely undermined.

The great loser would be Israel. Israel’s national security has rested on its treaty with Egypt, signed by Menachem Begin with much criticism by the Israeli right. The demilitarization of the Sinai Peninsula not only protected Israel’s southern front, it meant that the survival of Israel was no longer at stake. Israel fought three wars (1948, 1967 and 1973) where its very existence was at issue. The threat was always from Egypt, and without Egypt in the mix, no coalition of powers could threaten Israel (excluding the now-distant possibility of Iranian nuclear weapons). In all of the wars Israel fought after its treaty with Egypt (the 1982 and 2006 wars in Lebanon) Israeli interests, but not survival, were at stake.

If Egypt were to abrogate the Camp David Accords and over time reconstruct its military into an effective force, the existential threat to Israel that existed before the treaty was signed would re-emerge. This would not happen quickly, but Israel would have to deal with two realities. The first is that the Israeli military is not nearly large enough or strong enough to occupy and control Egypt. The second is that the development of Egypt’s military would impose substantial costs on Israel and limit its room for maneuver.

There is thus a scenario that would potentially strengthen the radical Islamists while putting the United States, Israel, and potentially even Iran at a disadvantage, all for different reasons. That scenario emerges only if two things happen. First, the Muslim Brotherhood must become a dominant political force in Egypt. Second, they must turn out to be more radical than most observers currently believe they are — or they must, with power, evolve into something more radical.

If the advocates for democracy win, and if they elect someone like ElBaradei, it is unlikely that this scenario would take place. The pro-Western democratic faction is primarily concerned with domestic issues, are themselves secular and would not want to return to the wartime state prior to Camp David, because that would simply strengthen the military. If they win power, the geopolitical arrangements would remain unchanged.

Similarly, the geopolitical arrangements would remain in place if the military regime retained power — save for one scenario. If it was decided that the regime’s unpopularity could be mitigated by assuming a more anti-Western and anti-Israeli policy — in other words, if the regime decided to play the Islamist card, the situation could evolve as a Muslim Brotherhood government would. Indeed, as hard as it is to imagine, there could be an alliance with the Muslim Brotherhood designed to stabilize the regime. Stranger things have happened.

When we look at the political dynamic of Egypt, and try to imagine its connection to the international system, we can see that there are several scenarios under which certain political outcomes would have profound effects on the way the world works. That should not be surprising. When Egypt was a pro-Soviet Nasserite state, the world was a very different place than it had been before Nasser. When Sadat changed his foreign policy the world changed with it. If Sadat’s foreign policy changes, the world changes again. Egypt is one of those countries whose internal politics matter to more than its own citizens.

Most of the outcomes I envision leave Egypt pretty much where it is. But not all. The situation is, as they say, in doubt, and the outcome is not trivial.

The Egypt Crisis in a Global Context: A Special Report” Republished with permission from Stratfor

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Egypt explained (updated)

As the Egyptian Army, and ordinary Egyptians gather around Cairo’s Egyptian museum, not to fight or clash, but to guard the museum against looters. It speaks volumes of who remains in power.

Since the 1950s, the Egyptian Military has been the power behind the throne. It has installed Hosni Mubarak some three decades ago. And its actions in this chaos would decide whether it would remain in power or not.

The Americans find themselves in not too different a position with Egypt as it did with the Philippines through the Marcos years. How does one navigate the balancing act of being for democracy, and geopolitical interests?

This is what the American relationship with Mr. Mubarak is like. The New York Times narrated how the U.S. changed tack on Egypt; how in Hillary Clinton’s first meeting with President Mubarak as secretary of state, the Egyptians had asked Mrs. Clinton not to thank Mr. Mubarak for releasing an opposition leader from prison because he was ill.

The Guardian, quoting Wikileaks wrote, Washington provides Cairo’s military with 1.3 billion dollars in foreign military finance stipend. The New York Times expounds on the close military ties of between the United States and Egypt. Cairo’s Officer Corps has been trained in the United States for the past 30 years. American M1A1 Abrams tanks are built on Egyptian soil, as part of the deal. American operations are allowed to be staged in Egyptian soil and Americans are guaranteed passage through the Suez Canal. It wouldn’t be a surprising thing to see Egyptian military officials at the Pentagon, having lunch or dinner with American Officer Corps.

The Egyptian military has not inflicted harm on protesters, and have remained guarding government institutions.

Is this a sign of restraint?

On the streets of Cairo, the clash between protesters were not between Military and citizen, but rather, Police against citizen. The police are particularly known to be brutal.

The Tumblr blog, Promoting Peace explained what’s happening in Egypt. It noted that Egypt ranked 138th out of 167 countries in the Economist’s Democracy index.

In the streets of Cairo, The New York Times quoted, Ali Suleiman. He graduated from university 16 years ago, and today he has three daughters, and make US$3.50 a day. “This is Mr. Mubarak’s Egypt,” Michael Slackman wrote for the New York Times, “a place where about half the population lives on US$2 a day or less, and walled compounds spring up outside cities with green lawns, and swimming pools and names like Swan Lake. It is a place where those with money have built a parallel world of private schools and exclusive clubs, leaving the rundown cities to the poor.”

Amidst the demonstrations, Credit raters are worried. Fitch and S&P warn that Egypt and other Arab nations may overspend to calm unrest.

The situation in Egypt is as volatile as we imagine it to be. What shocked the world as much is Egypt going offline. Computer security experts have declared this as “unprecedented.” How can a country simply become a black hole on the Internet?

The preemptive nature of shutting down communications is a strategic and tactical decision.

In all this, the role of Twitter, Facebook and other social networks remain the same, as they have in past “Revolutions,” and campaign, social networks serve not just the backbone of communication for protesters, but also their “air force.” They do not win revolutions, but as past battles have made known, commanding the air make it easier for forces to take the ground.

(update): Anonymous Internet users have teamed up to provide communication tools for the Egyptian people, wrote the Huffington Post.

“Internet not working, police cars burning,” sent out one Egyptian. “Today marks a great day for Egypt,” sent out another.

These messages weren’t coming from mobile phones or computers, but from an amateur radio sending out Morse Code somewhere amidst the chaos in Egypt. –Huffington Post

For those of us looking from the outside, in, shutting down internet and communications has made the Egyptian situation particularly volatile because of the uncertainty. This communications blackout has helped spawn the belief that Mubarak’s days is numbered. And that it maybe– it is still too early to tell.

But is there something deeper than that?

On the left hand you have the pro-American government of Egypt. On the right hand you have poverty for the people of Egypt.

“The history of the modern Egyptian republic haunts Egypt’s generals today,” STRATFOR reported. “Though long suppressed, an Islamist strand exists amongst the junior ranks of Egypt’s modern military. The Egyptian military is, after all, a subset of the wider society, where there is a significant cross-section that is religiously conservative and/or Islamist. These elements are not political active, otherwise those at the top would have purged them.”

But no coup scenario exists.

So far.

Unconfirmed reports have surfaced that Hamas has entered into Egypt and are closely collaborating with Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood. The latter, according to unverified reports have engaged in the demonstrations. In the same report, security forces in plain clothes have allegedly began destroying property to give the impression that it is the protesters who have caused the public disturbance. This is a great concern for the United States and Israel, and regional stability as a whole, particularly if an Islamist organization will find itself rooted, post-crisis.

Behind the scenes, according to STARTFOR, the United States and Israel and others are trying to shape the new order in Cairo. Egypt is a pro-American, pro-Israeli regime and a shift to a fundamentally Islamic republic would be a blow not only to regional security, but global security. The question remain: how do you balance the interest of the Egyptian public, with this global concern?

The Egyptian military is continuously seen as the one factor that could stabilize Egypt. It is the bedrock of the modern Egyptian state. For Mubarak to go, the military must decide on it. But how deep is the people’s resentment, and could they blame the military? Could the military stabilize the situation?

“Much is uncertain of what’s happening,” George Friendman said, “but let’s be certain of this much: what happens in Tunisia matters little to the world, what happens in Egypt is a towering significance.”

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Protesters, via Muhammad Ghafari from Giza, Egypt

Cats and garbage, 

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