It seems that mobs of youth marching through the streets, fists clenched, chanting banal slogans and using “democracy” as a buzz-word, is sufficient to send Western liberaldom into spasms delight, despite it all by now being a very well-worn formula in the process of globalization. There seems to be a lack of explanation as to why those who feign opposition to globalization and American world hegemony get so enthused about phenomena that serve both of these.

Tahrir Square, Cairo (Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)

Tahrir Square, Cairo (Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)

Overthrowing a regime because it is not “democratic” in the Western parliamentary sense seems a poor result when the outcome is yet another brick in the foundation of what is often called the “new world order.” It is somewhat akin to the universal ecstasy that took place when the evil Afrikaners were overthrown and a regime was established behind the façade of “human rights” and “democracy,” when the only real achievement has been to privatise and globalize the economy; as in Kosovo also, and a bunch of states of the former Soviet bloc that have undergone the same process of “color revolutions” that are taking place now in Tunisia, Egypt and elsewhere in the Arab world.

Perhaps something good will come of the unrest, and the new regimes will offer some sound Arabic ideals beyond Western-inspired clichés about “democracy,” of the type offered by Nasser’s “Arab socialism.” However, given the way such bourgeois revolutions have usually worked out elsewhere, there is not yet sufficient reason to be optimistic.

As I have tried to point out in my recent article on Tunisia for Foreign Policy Journal,[1] the present tumult over the Arab world is following precisely the same revolutionary formula as that which resulted in the dismantling of the Soviet bloc, and via “color revolutions” the installation of “open societies” (sic); that is to say, “open” to the ravages of global capitalism and subordination to US foreign policy, all in the cherished name of “democracy” – of course. Excuse me if I am not grateful to George Soros, NED, et al for dismantling the Soviet edifice in the name of “democracy.”

As for the situation unfolding in Egypt, a few salient features are already apparent. The Los Angeles Times has carried an illuminating interview with Ahmed Maher, the “leader of the youth movement that has shaken the Egyptian Government by rallying thousands of protesters into the streets this week.”

The first paragraph for the L. A. Times article is itself telling, as we are informed that there is a “youth movement,” which implies something more than a “spontaneous protest” (sic) in the way in which such “color revolutions” are always depicted.

Maher heads the April 6th Youth Movement. The L. A. Times states that (as with the other “color revolutions,”) techno-savvy youth are the ones playing the lead role, using gadgetry that is not so easy for regimes to control. These young Egyptians, states the Times, are not beholden to any particular religion or ideology. They are not part of the “traditional opposition voices.” This (and other “color revolutions”) has indeed been a revolt generated by what Maher calls “a generational gap in Egypt…. Young activists are fired up, and they have no allegiances to anything but change.” Maher states: “My inspiration comes from experiences, not personalities. I admire the Orange Revolution in Ukraine and the [Serbs] who overthrew Slobodan Milosevic.”[2]

April 6th Youth Movement

Maher’s organization, based on cyber networking, was founded on April 6, 2007 when a General Strike was called in support of mill workers in Mahalla.[3]

Several days ago Wikileaks exposed a document from the US Embassy in Cairo to Washington, which details the American support for the April 6 movement and other activists. The document was published by The Telegraph, as follows:





CAIRO 2454 C. CAIRO 2431 Classified By: ECPO A/Mincouns

Catherine Hill-Herndon for reason 1.4 (d ). 1. (C) Summary and

comment: On December 23, April 6 activist xxxxxxxxxxxx expressed

satisfaction with his participation in the December 3-5 \”Alliance of

Youth Movements Summit,\” and with his subsequent meetings with USG

officials, on Capitol Hill, and with think tanks. He described how

State Security (SSIS) detained him at the Cairo airport upon his

return and confiscated his notes for his summit presentation calling

for democratic change in Egypt, and his schedule for his Congressional

meetings. xxxxxxxxxxxx contended that the GOE will never undertake

significant reform, and therefore, Egyptians need to replace the

current regime with a parliamentary democracy. He alleged that

several opposition parties and movements have accepted an unwritten

plan for democratic transition by 2011; we are doubtful of this claim.

xxxxxxxxxxxx said that although SSIS recently released two April 6

activists, it also arrested three additional group members. We have

pressed the MFA for the release of these April 6 activists. April 6’s

stated goal of replacing the current regime with a parliamentary

democracy prior to the 2011 presidential elections is highly

unrealistic, and is not supported by the mainstream opposition. End

summary and comment. —————————- Satisfaction with

the Summit —————————- 2. (C) xxxxxxxxxxxx expressed

satisfaction with the December 3-5 \”Alliance of Youth Movements

Summit\” in New York, noting that he was able to meet activists from

other countries and outline his movement’s goals for democratic change

in Egypt. He told us that the other activists at the summit were very

supportive, and that some even offered to hold public demonstrations

in support of Egyptian democracy in their countries, with xxxxxxxxxxxx

as an invited guest. xxxxxxxxxxxx said he discussed with the other

activists how April 6 members could more effectively evade harassment

and surveillance from SSIS with technical upgrades, such as

consistently alternating computer \”simcards.\” However, xxxxxxxxxxxx

lamented to us that because most April 6 members do not own computers,

this tactic would be impossible to implement. xxxxxxxxxxxx was

appreciative of the successful efforts by the Department and the

summit organizers to protect his identity at the summit, and told us

that his name was never mentioned publicly. ——————- A

Cold Welcome Home ——————- 3. (S) xxxxxxxxxxxx told us

that SSIS detained and searched him at the Cairo Airport on December

18 upon his return from the U.S. According to xxxxxxxxxxxx, SSIS

found and confiscated two documents in his luggage: notes for his

presentation at the summit that described April 6’s demands for

democratic transition in Egypt, and a schedule of his Capitol Hill

meetings. xxxxxxxxxxxx described how the SSIS officer told him that

State Security is compiling a file on him, and that the officer’s

superiors instructed him to file a report on xxxxxxxxxxxx most recent

activities. ——————————————— ———-

Washington Meetings and April 6 Ideas for Regime Change

——————————————— ———- 4. (C)

xxxxxxxxxxxx described his Washington appointments as positive, saying

that on the Hill he met with xxxxxxxxxxxx, a variety of House staff

members, including from the offices of xxxxxxxxxxxx and xxxxxxxxxxxx),

and with two Senate staffers. xxxxxxxxxxxx also noted that he met

with several think tank members. xxxxxxxxxxxx said that xxxxxxxxxxxx’s

office invited him to speak at a late January Congressional hearing on

House Resolution 1303 regarding religious and political freedom in

Egypt. xxxxxxxxxxxx told us he is interested in attending, but

conceded he is unsure whether he will have the funds to make the trip.

He indicated to us that he has not been focusing on his work as a

\”fixer\” for journalists, due to his preoccupation with his U.S.

trip. 5. (C) xxxxxxxxxxxx described how he tried to convince his

Washington interlocutors that the USG should pressure the GOE to

implement significant reforms by threatening to reveal CAIRO 00002572

002 OF 002 information about GOE officials’ alleged \”illegal\”

off-shore bank accounts. He hoped that the U.S. and the international

community would freeze these bank accounts, like the accounts of

Zimbabwean President Mugabe’s confidantes. xxxxxxxxxxxx said he wants

to convince the USG that Mubarak is worse than Mugabe and that the GOE

will never accept democratic reform. xxxxxxxxxxxx asserted that

Mubarak derives his legitimacy from U.S. support, and therefore

charged the U.S. with \”being responsible\” for Mubarak’s \”crimes.\”

He accused NGOs working on political and economic reform of living in

a \”fantasy world,\” and not recognizing that Mubarak — \”the head of

the snake\” — must step aside to enable democracy to take root. 6.

(C) xxxxxxxxxxxx claimed that several opposition forces — including

the Wafd, Nasserite, Karama and Tagammu parties, and the Muslim

Brotherhood, Kifaya, and Revolutionary Socialist movements — have

agreed to support an unwritten plan for a transition to a

parliamentary democracy, involving a weakened presidency and an

empowered prime minister and parliament, before the scheduled 2011

presidential elections (ref C). According to xxxxxxxxxxxx, the

opposition is interested in receiving support from the army and the

police for a transitional government prior to the 2011 elections.

xxxxxxxxxxxx asserted that this plan is so sensitive it cannot be

written down. (Comment: We have no information to corroborate that

these parties and movements have agreed to the unrealistic plan

xxxxxxxxxxxx has outlined. Per ref C, xxxxxxxxxxxx previously told us

that this plan was publicly available on the internet. End comment.)

7. (C) xxxxxxxxxxxx said that the GOE has recently been cracking down

on the April 6 movement by arresting its members. xxxxxxxxxxxx noted

that although SSIS had released xxxxxxxxxxxx and xxxxxxxxxxxx \”in the

past few days,\” it had arrested three other members. (Note: On

December 14, we pressed the MFA for the release of xxxxxxxxxxxx and

xxxxxxxxxxxx, and on December 28 we asked the MFA for the GOE to

release the additional three activists. End note.) xxxxxxxxxxxx

conceded that April 6 has no feasible plans for future activities.

The group would like to call for another strike on April 6, 2009, but

realizes this would be \”impossible\” due to SSIS interference,

xxxxxxxxxxxx said. He lamented that the GOE has driven the group’s

leadership underground, and that one of its leaders, xxxxxxxxxxxx, has

been in hiding for the past week. 8. (C) Comment: xxxxxxxxxxxx

offered no roadmap of concrete steps toward April 6’s highly

unrealistic goal of replacing the current regime with a parliamentary

democracy prior to the 2011 presidential elections. Most opposition

parties and independent NGOs work toward achieving tangible,

incremental reform within the current political context, even if they

may be pessimistic about their chances of success. xxxxxxxxxxxx

wholesale rejection of such an approach places him outside this

mainstream of opposition politicians and activists.