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The Headless Horsemen of Tahrir Square

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One US embassy cable predicted Mubarak, if still alive in 2011, would run

again for presidency 'and, inevitably, win'

Other Secret US embassy cables sent from Cairo in the past two years reveal that the Obama administration wanted to maintain a close political and military relationship with Mubarak.

One cable said, "The Egyptians want the visit to demonstrate that Egypt remains America's 'indispensable Arab ally', and that bilateral tensions have abated. President Mubarak is the proud leader of a proud nation ... Mubarak is 81 years old and in reasonably good health; his most notable problem is a hearing deficit in his left ear. He responds well to respect for Egypt and for his position, but is not swayed by personal flattery," the cable said.

It predicted that if Mubarak were still alive for Egypt's next presidential

election in 2011, "it is likely he will run again and, inevitably, win". The

most likely contender to succeed him was his son Gamal, the cable suggested.

Another cable, from March 2009, shows the US's astonishingly intimate military relationship with Egypt. Washington provides Cairo $1.3bn annually in foreign military finance (FMF) to purchase US weapons and defense equipment, and the cable said. "President Mubarak and military leaders view our military assistance program as the cornerstone of our mil-mil relationship and consider the $1.3bn in annual FMF as 'untouchable compensation' for making and maintaining peace with Israel.

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"The tangible benefits to our mil-mil relationship are clear: Egypt remains at

peace with Israel, and the US military enjoys priority access to the Suez canal and Egyptian airspace."

Many other parts of the question about the origins of the current situation are as yet unclear. But we know this much: In no way were these demonstrations a spontaneous or first-time event. Egypt has seen demonstrations before and, in fact, many Middle East scholars believe that those earlier demonstrations provided a direct route to the current protest.

The closest to rational answers to these questions, in this reporter's view, came from an interview with Mohammed Ezzeldin, a graduate of political science at Cairo University, who is currently completing his master's degree in history at Georgetown, and Paul Jay, Senior Editor of the Real News Network. The Public Record has done some minor editing.

"So how did this moment arrive? How did we get here?" Jay asked.

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Ezzelden's response: "We have to understand this moment in terms of accumulation. This not just--didn't come out of the blue. This moment was the manifestation, this moment unfolded after a manifestation of different opposition movement, basically three "rounds of opposition to Mubarak regime, beginning from 2004, 2005, when (the) Kefaya movement (rose) up the famous slogan, "Enough,' [and called for] no for continuation for continuation for Mubarak, no to inheritance of power to his son Gamal Mubarak. And then this movement took a momentum in 2005 and people made renewed the hope for a real change. After 2005 we have witnessed a huge wave of strikes--included workers, bureaucrats, included people working in the state apparatus and business. For example, in Mahalla, industrial city in Delta, witnessed three successive and successful strikes in 2006, 2007, and 2008."

"El-Mahalla is a City and factories. Like, it's industrial city, based on huge [inaudible] factories of textile industry. And it's--like, you can find, like, almost 30,000 workers working together. So imagine when [inaudible] 30,000 people are striking and supported by the residents in El-Mahalla. So three times they made successful [2006, 2007, and April 2008].

JAY: "And were they met with police repression?"

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William Fisher has managed economic development programs in the Middle East and elsewhere for the US State Department and the US Agency for International Development. He served in the international affairs area in the Kennedy Administration and now (more...)

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