They just got a different tool to use than we do: They kill innocent lives to achieve objectives. That's what they do. And they're good. They get on the TV screens and they get people to ask questions about, well, you know, this, that or the other. I mean, they're able to kind of say to people: Don't come and bother us, because we will kill you. Bush - Joint News Conference with Blair - 28 July '06

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Egypt's, and Pakistan's ‘untouchables’

There's little prospect of the U.S. cutting off Pakistan's military aid - worth a lucrative $150 million a month - as punishment for cancelling democratic elections, mass arrests, human rights considerations and so on. Gen Musharraf need only point to the dictator of Egypt - Hosni Mubarak - who has lorded it since 1981 - under emergency law throughout [emergency law was imposed during the Arab-Israeli war of 1967, there was one 18 month break then reimposed after assassination of Sadat]. With no chance of democratic elections occurring any time soon Mubarak still benefits from billions of dollars in U.S. military assistance designed to bolster his position against extremist, radical, and/or democratic forces.
Egypt’s ‘untouchables’

Egypt’s independent, nongovernmental press is trying to cope with government regulations that stifle freedom of speech and deny the public access to balanced news coverage. Last month, some newspapers decided to write about Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and his son Gamal. Most of what was written was old news to the average Egyptian — Mubarak’s health is a serious question, and he is grooming Gamal to succeed him.

But what happened afterwards is the real news. The government sued all those independent newspapers, and in less than a month, a verdict was handed down to jail 11 Egyptian journalists, five of them editors-in-chief. Nearly two dozen Egyptian newspapers struck and suspended publication to protest the jailings.

The latest crackdown on Egypt’s liberal media came soon after the crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood movement. It sent a clear message to the Egyptian public that all forms of opposition, even peaceful ones, will be treated the same, although the amount and type of repression inflicted on different opposition groups may vary.

Mubarak has been in power since October 1981. He was re-elected in 2005 in a highly controversial election boycotted by most influential opposition parties. After the election, Mubarak promised transparency and power-sharing and assured the wary public there is no plan whatsoever to appoint his son as a successor.

In no time, however, Gamal Mubarak was appointed head of the policies committee, which makes him in reality the second most powerful figure in Egypt. And Gamal began to draft and dictate the country’s domestic and foreign policies as well.

As a friend of mine said, “Mubarak’s family owns the land of Egypt, so they have every right to manage it their way. They are the untouchables.” Link