Daily Archives: 13/02/2011

( Last night an anarchist from Lebanon gave a report on the situation in Egypt at our social center, and I wanted to pass this information on to English-speaking comrades. This is a series of notes extracted from the talk, highlighting questions anarchists who have read mainstream coverage are likely to have about the situation.

The person who gave the talk has been involved in organizing solidarity with people in Egypt, and as a part of the talk he skyped a friend in Tahir Square so we could ask her some questions directly. Read More

(Noam’s Notes) Charngchi Way: The Egyptian uprising has been going on for two weeks, and the situation is fluid. Can you give us your assessment of the latest developments?

Noam Chomsky: Well, it’s a spectacular event. In fact, I can hardly think of anything like it. On the other hand, the Egyptian elite and the military, who are pretty closely linked, seem pretty confident. The Obama administration is pretty much backing them up. And it looks as if they think they have a game plan that ought to work. Its the usual one, when you can’t support your favorite dictator, the natural fall back position is, ok, we’ll put him out to pasture somewhere, and try to restore pretty much the same situation. That’s the natural response. And that appears to be what they are doing.

I mean, it’s unlikely that they can keep Mubarak for the long term. He might want to stay, but its probably not gonna work. So what they are putting in is his clone, Omar Suleiman, who’s a torturer, the guy who ran the rendition program, very close to the CIA, he’s the interlocutor with Israel, you know, basically the same, maybe worse. And they are sticking to him. He is probably about as much disliked by the protestors as Mubarak is, and it looks as if they are just…. last thursday (Feb. 3, 2011) there was an organized attack on the crowds. They sent in gangs of organized thugs, the military stood aside and didn’t do anything. There was a pitched battle in the square. I was afraid that the next day there would be a bloodbath, but instead they withdrew the attackers and left them alone. And it looks like that was a warning, saying you know, be careful, we’ve got plenty of force if you get out of line. And they are now probably just turning to a strategy of waiting them out. Sooner or later the protesters won’t be able to continue. I think they are counting on the fact that the poor population, which is the overwhelming majority in Egypt, won’t be able to survive. No bread, you know, no milk, no money, nothing. There is a limit to how long they can tolerate it. And they’ll probably… there’ll be some…. not an uprising, but enough discontent, and maybe even anger at the protesters so that the army can then move in. And they are taking positions, you can see that they are just taking positions around the square, trying to get traffic moving again and so on, and they’ll take over and say, well, we have to, for the sake of stability and the future of our wonderful country, we’ve accepted the protester’s demands, you can go home. In fact they are already saying that, and now its over.

In fact, I hate to be cynical, but this morning in the New York Times, there was a report by Thomas Friedman, saying he was in Tahrir Square and it’s absolutely marvelous, you know, he is exulting, he loves it; I think that probably means he figures it’s over.

by Noam Chomsky


(Human Rights Now) Jabbar Savalan has been jailed for two months pending trial on drugs charges © IRFS

The three-week grassroots protest in Egypt that brought down thirty years of autocracy in the land of the pyramids has authoritarian Azerbaijan, among others, worried. Amnesty International’s latest statement on Azerbaijan – which, ironically, has a statue of Hosni Mubarak in the Egyptian-Azerbaijani Friendship park in capital Baku – details the arrest of a youth activist:

Jabbar Savalan, a 20-year-old student, was arrested [on his way home from a political meeting and charged with “possessing narcotics with intent to supply”] in Sumgayit, Azerbaijan, after his Facebook status called for a “Day of Rage” in Freedom Square in Baku, echoing the calls for protest in the Middle East.


On the evening of 5 February he was interrogated without a lawyer, in violation of Article 19 of the Azerbaijani Criminal Procedure Code, and pressured into signing a confession which he has since retracted…. Police reportedly told him that his punishment had already been decided “at the highest level”.

Jabbar’s colleague Elcin Hasanov was summoned to answer questions about posts he had made on Facebook calling for youth action to support Jabbar. He was told to remove the Facebook posts.

Azerbaijan’s crackdown on Internet activism is not new. Two bloggers, finally released late last year, were charged with hooliganism after making a YouTube video mocking the government.

Time Magazine chose “you” as its person of the year in 2006 “for seizing the reins of the global media, for founding and framing the new digital democracy, for working for nothing and beating the pros at their own game…” The “you”s in Egypt – average Internet using folk – are the men and women authoritarian governments now fear. Leaderless revolutions are becoming impossible to stop. That’s why Azerbaijan, with a president hoping to rule for decades, is prosecuting Facebook updates. And it’s not the only one.

In neighboring Armenia, were digital democracy had some case-by-case success last year, the state-run TV says that Facebook threatens the foundation of the family. “Virtual revolutionaries, hope to see you when it’s time to go to the streets!” is one of many Facebook status updates that has Armenian authorities worried. The authorities in neighboring Azerbaijan are not taking chances. Amnesty International has urged them to stop the harassment of activists inspired by Egypt protests.

by Simon Maghakyan, February 11, 2011 at 9:28 PM