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Revolutionary Change in Egypt: Internal or Made in USA?

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Headlined to H3 1/31/11

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Revolutionary Change in Egypt: Internal or Made in USA? - by Stephen Lendman

US imperial policy includes regime change, affecting foes as well as no longer useful friends. Past targets included former Philippines leader Ferdinand Marcos, Iran's Shah (Mohammad Reza Pahlavi), and Iraq's Saddam Hussein, among others. According to some reports, Mubarak is next - aging, damaged and expendable.

George Friedman runs Stratfor, a private global intelligence service. On January 29, he issued a special Egypt report, saying:

On January 29, "Egypt's internal security forces (including Central Security Forces anti-riot paramilitaries) were glaringly absent" after confronting protesters forcefully for several days. Army personnel replaced them. Demonstrators welcomed them. 

"There is more (going on) than meets the eye." While media reports focus on reform, democracy and human rights, "revolutions, including this one, are made up of many more actors than (Facebook and Twitter) liberal voices...." Some are, in fact, suspect, using social network sites for other than purported reasons.

Like Iran's 1979 revolution, "the ideology and composition of protesters can wind up having very little to do with the" behind the scenes political forces gaining power. Egypt's military may be preparing to seize it. Former air force chief/civil aviation minister Ahmed Shafiq is new prime minister, tasked with forming a new government, and intelligence head Omar Suleiman is Egypt's first ever vice president under Mubarak, effectively second in command.

Moreover, Defense Minister Field Marshall Mohammed Hussein Tantawi "returned to Cairo after a week of intense discussions with senior US officials." He heads the Republican Guard, responsible for defending major government and strategic institutions, the symbols of entrenched power. Also back is Lt. General Sami Annan. Both men with others "are likely managing the political process behind the scenes."

As a result, expect more political changes, military commanders apparently willing to give Mubarak time to leave gracefully, but not much as unrest won't subside until he's gone.

Egypt's military is key as "guarantor of regime stability." It's never "relinquished its rights to the state" no matter who's president, made easier with popular support, unlike the hated police. But it's not a monolithic force, nor can it shake its history of mid-level commanders like Gamal Abdel Nasser seizing power. In 1981, Islamists and junior officers assassinated Anwar Sadat, elevating Mubarak to the presidency.

"The history of the modern Egyptian republic haunts Egypt's generals today. Though long suppressed, an Islamist strand exists amongst the junior ranks of Egypt's modern military." It could include "a cabal of colonels," seeing a chance to seize power to address longstanding grievances, especially regarding US and Israeli policies, or perhaps promise change but maintain continuity. 

So far, no coup d'etat signs have emerged. While Egypt's military remains disciplined under a chain of command, "those trying to manage the crisis from the top cannot forget" their country's history of successful mid-level commander coups. Given Egypt's growing instability, another one is possible. 

Washington and Israel are maneuvering for control. Egypt's fate, believes Friedman, "lies in the ability of the military to not only manage the streets and the politicians, but also itself."

He also said plainclothes Egyptian security forces are destroying public property, media reports blaming it on protesters. It also bears repeating - an overt police presence is absent, and military forces aren't stopping demonstrations or enforcing curfews, appearing to back (or at least not oppose) dissident groups instead.

Omar Suleiman's Role

On January 29, New Yorker writer Jane Mayer headlined, "Who is Omar Suleiman? saying:

Well-known in Washington, he's poised to become president after Mubarak. As intelligence chief, he was CIA's "point man in Egypt for renditions," the agency's snatch and grab policy against "terror suspects from around the world," sending many to Egypt, perhaps to disappear as Marjorie Cohn explained in her book "Cowboy Republic: Six Ways the Bush Gang Has Defied the Law," quoting a former CIA agent saying:

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I was born in 1934, am a retired, progressive small businessman concerned about all the major national and world issues, committed to speak out and write about them.
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The US has such a long track record of regime chan... by Peter Duveen on Monday, Jan 31, 2011 at 5:28:15 AM
My impression is that the CIA has become extremely... by Dr Stuart Jeanne Bramhall on Monday, Jan 31, 2011 at 6:34:45 PM