By Mark Wachtler
January 18, 2015. Chicago. (ONN) Back in 2011 at the dawn of the Arab Spring, your author penned an article about the protests in Egypt that shut down the country and thrust it into the world spotlight. The essay caught the attention of major news outlets like Bloomberg News and RT News, each of which tracked this author down by phone and offered him a job. Rather than work for a Wall St or state-sponsored media company, even independent-leaning ones like Bloomberg and RT, I stuck with my passion and my gut, and launched Whiteout Press.
The scene from Egypt’s Tahrir Square on the night the pro-democracy revolution was nearly defeated. Image courtesy of AFP/Khaled Desouki.
The subject of the article titled, ‘Americans divided over Egypt - democracy or dictatorship’, was the building revolution in Egypt. Hosni Mubarek - the US and Israeli-allied dictator - was still in power. And the pro-democracy revolution was on the verge of being extinguished, by the American people no less. American media outlets routinely fail to tell Americans that they are funding, protecting and arming the most ruthless dictatorships in the world, including that of pre-revolution Egypt.
So, what would happen when the American people discovered their country is one of the biggest opponents of democracy around the world and one of the biggest protectors of evil dictators? That was the question posed in the 2011 article that launched Whiteout Press.
Reprinted in its entirety from Examiner.com. Originally written and published February 3, 2011.
Americans divided over Egypt - democracy or dictatorship?
By Mark Wachtler
With Egypt on the brink of civil war, Americans are slowly turning their attention to the ominous warning in the East.
The issue it seems, is a choice for the American people. According to the pro-democracy protestors in Egypt, their liberty is in the hands of the American people. “Please America” they pleaded in their broken English from the scared and burning battle ground of Cairo’s Tahrir Square, “We only want what you have. We want to choose our own leaders, just one time in our lives”. The sentiment was common and widespread. It gave an air of common-knowledge that somehow, the American people control the lives of everyday Egyptians.
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If that common theme wasn’t enough, media reports began circulating that at the time the unrest broke out, the highest ranking members of the Egyptian national police were already in the United States. They were at the Pentagon meeting with their counterparts in the U.S. government. It was also reported that one of Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarek’s first phone calls after the unrest broke out was to the President of the United States.
Whether or not America’s involvement is a surprise to the American people is debatable. Most Americans accept the fact that their government meddles in the affairs of the governments of our enemies and allies alike. ‘It’s the price of staying free’ they argue.
The Egyptian uprising however is revealing much deeper divisions in the United States. As the pro-democracy demonstrators come under more attacks from armed and organized government militias and as the ember of liberty is slowly extinguished before their very eyes, Americans find themselves at odds with each other.
As American-made tanks circle the pro-democracy protestors, American-made fighter jets soar overhead. And as their American-backed dictator refuses to step down, they violently trade thousands of rocks and hundreds of Molotov cocktails with the pro-Mubarak forces made up of the more than one million members of the national police, paid for, trained by and equipped compliments of the United States taxpayer. Needless to say, the Egyptian people know where the power in their country comes from.
The American people it seems, aren’t so enlightened. As more and more Americans tuned in to what has become Egypt’s ‘Tiananmen Square moment’, they found themselves naturally cheering for the pro-democracy protestors. And why not? They were college kids and unemployed couples. They’re school teachers, nurses, carpenters and other members of Egyptian society. And for eight days, they gathered and protested in peace. The pro-democracy marchers even allowed themselves to be searched for weapons by the military as a condition to enter the square. That would be a fateful decision. For when the pro-Mubarak forces were bussed in, complete with their government-printed placards, food and water, they also had weapons while the pro-democracy protestors did not.
As horse and camel-mounted pro-Mubarak forces trampled the pro-democracy protestors, clubbing, whipping and slashing them with swords, sabers and other vintage weapons, the non-partisan Egyptian military simply stood by and watched. It was suddenly clear. The Egyptian army, which is more of a National Guard where every male citizen serves, was at first praised and embraced by the pro-democracy protestors. When the army announced they would in no way fire on the protestors as long as they remained peaceful, the world made a collective sigh of relief.
But something had changed overnight. A day after thousands of national police disappeared and their police stations burned, allegedly to cover up the torture chambers and other evidence that would surely hang them under a pro-democracy government, they all returned, dressed as civilians but acting every bit the trained regiment of club-wielding thugs the Egyptian people knew them as only days before.
With the pro-Mubarak supporters, also came the violence. What had been a completely peaceful week-long protest, had suddenly become a slaughter. They attacked foreigners and the international media, blaming them for bringing the world’s attention to the atrocities of the Mubarak government. Then the pro-Mubarak forces fire-bombed the museums, even destroying much of the famed King Tut artifacts. Fortunately, most treasures were rescued first by individual citizens coming together with baseball bats and kitchen knives, and finally by the military.
As the two sides faced off, rocks, bottles and bricks flew back and forth between the pro-democracy and pro-Mubarak forces, separated by only 50 or 100 feet. A dozen times, the two sides crashed into each other, only to have one side fall back a half block down the city street and then come raging back again.
As night fell and both sides ignored the government-imposed curfew, the glow of Molotov cocktails rained down on both sides, splashing down into a sea of fire, illuminating the shadows of people scrambling out of their way. At midnight in Cairo, the pro-democracy protestors found themselves unarmed, outgunned, outnumbered, and surrounded on three sides. Viewers the world over held their breath as the 10,000 remaining protestors, of the 100,000 hours before, dug in behind sheets of aluminum and plexi-glass shields erected as a make-shift wall.
Suddenly however, gun fire intensified throughout the city. At first, no one knew for sure who was firing. It would later be reported that it was mainly the military firing warning shots to separate the two sides. But some isolated fire turned out to be snipers stationed on the rooftops of the buildings next to the square. The streets surrounding the square had been controlled by the pro-democracy forces earlier in the evening. But now, they had been taken over by the pro-Mubarak forces who quickly began dropping Molotov cocktails down from the rooftops as well as firing down into the crowd.
At that moment, the pro-Mubarak forces broke through a lightly-defended side wall of the square, causing thousands of pro-democracy protestors to rush to defend their rear and plug the breach. Again, the world held its collective breath as it appeared the Egyptian pro-democracy movement that seemed destined for victory only hours before, was suddenly only minutes away from being extinguished.
It was at that moment, Egypt’s Alamo, their Tiananmen Square, that the major American networks slowly reminded the American people of whose side they’re actually on.
One expert after another was paraded on to counter the obvious support that even the news anchors were proclaiming for the pro-democracy protestors. ‘Wait’ they stopped everyone, ‘that’s the enemy’.
What? How could the pro-democracy forces be the enemy? How could we be on the side of the dictator? With that, even semi-informed Americans understood. As the history was slowly brought out, it was reported that the CIA assassinated Anwar Sadat, put Mubarak in place and has funded, trained, empowered and controlled him ever since.
President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton all but confirmed it after both addressed the nation and neither expressed any support at all for Mubarak to cede to the protestors’ demands and immediately step down. Instead, the White House, State Department and Pentagon kept an open line with Mubarak, giving him advice on how to defuse the situation. The following day, President Obama released another statement, one urging a peaceful transition. But to whom, how and when?
Suddenly, it was abundantly clear what was going on. While the Egyptian revolution began with well-intentioned, liberty-starved college kids and unemployed workers, it had now become something much more.
On one side was Mubarak, the national police, millions of government employees, the United States and Israel - yes Israel. While keeping eerily silent, word began leaking out of the Jewish state reaffirming its long-standing support of the Mubarak government. Whoever replaces Mubarak, they fear, will assuredly be more hostile to Israel.
And that brings us full circle to what is becoming more and more the main story. On the other side of the fight in Egypt are the Egyptian people, fighting and dying for democracy and freedom. However since nobody, including the United States, has ever endorsed their right to self-determination, the only allies the pro-democracy protestors in Egypt have are small groups like the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas.
In fact, within hours of the pro-Mubarak forces showing up and attacking the pro-democracy protestors, reports began coming into western reporters in Egypt that Hamas had begun mobilizing and were already sending forces through the underground tunnels from Gaza.
At the same time, reports were circulating that quoted a high-level member of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, Mohamed Ghanem, as saying that the Egyptian army and Egyptian people should prepare for war. According to Ghanem, the Brotherhoods’ first order of business will be launching a full-scale war against Israel.
So, how is it that the American people found themselves on the side of tyrants and torture and against democracy and freedom? The answer is a history lesson spanning six U.S. Presidents. The fact is, the genie is out of the bottle and she’s not going back in. As numerous members of the Muslim Brotherhood repeatedly point out, they are going to rule Egypt. They may only represent ten percent of the people. But in a country where all other democratic and opposition groups have been ruthlessly crushed, the Muslim Brotherhood is about the only option short of anarchy.
The Brotherhood also points out that they operate food banks, schools, shelters and many of the other infrastructural necessities that the Mubarak government has ignored. Whether the Muslim Brotherhood takes control via a U.S. brokered peace deal, through a violent revolution or through a democratic election – is completely up to President Obama and his U.S. backed Mubarak government. Or at least that is what all sides are now hinting.
Egypt is the largest country in the Middle East and a tourist destination for millions each year. They have the largest middle class in the region and the U.S.-Israeli relationship aside, they are the West’s closest ally in the area. Some would argue that Egypt was a civilized country 5,000 years before America and Europe even existed. It’s a shame Egypt is being told her only choice is to continue being persecuted and enslaved or prepare for holy war.
The coming hours will determine the country’s fate. With the Egyptian military prepared to cast the deciding vote, they will either force the Egyptian people to claim their freedom through bloody revolution or they will join the people for a peaceful transition. Either way, the people will probably win eventually, unless Israel or the U.S. launches a full-scale preemptive invasion, thus beginning world war three. But that’s a prospect we don’t even want to think about.
The above article was originally written and published on February 3, 2011. From the Whiteout Press Timeless Section.