USA-Middle East, not just one film provocation


This video is called Fight for Oil: 100 Years in the Middle East (1/3).

By Alex Lantier:

The US embassy protests

14 September 2012

Protests at US embassies throughout the Middle East against an anti-Islamic video are a devastating popular verdict on the policies of the United States government.

Protests have spread to at least eleven countries, including Egypt, Yemen, Libya, Iraq, Tunisia, Algeria, Jordan, Iran, Morocco, Sudan, and Bangladesh.

Popular anger over the video, a political provocation by right-wing circles in the United States, has brought to the surface deep popular anger over Washington’s Middle East policies. Since mass working class uprisings last year toppled US-backed dictatorships in Tunisia and Egypt, the Obama administration has relentlessly backed right-wing regimes against popular opposition and escalated bloody proxy wars in Libya and Syria.

At the US embassy in Egypt, day laborer Yassin Maher, told Al Ahram that he was protesting the US-backed regime of Islamist President Mohamed Mursi to demand better living conditions. He denounced the police crackdown against the protest: “As you can see, the security forces under Mursi are the same as those during the Mubarak era—both are defending America.”

Workers and youth stormed the US Embassy in Sana’a, the capital city of Yemen, an impoverished country whose corrupt government Washington has backed against popular protests as it wages a bloody civil war. US forces routinely organize Special Forces raids and launch drone strikes in the country, where a drone murdered US citizen Anwar el-Awlaki last year.

Yemeni President Rabbo Mansour Hadi denounced the protests as a conspiracy to derail Yemen’s relations with Washington.

In Iraq—a country invaded by the United States in 2003 and then devastated by a nearly decade-long US occupation that cost over a million Iraqi lives—thousands of Sunni and Shia protesters marched together in Baghdad and Basra.

In Libya, where a coordinated raid on the US consulate in Benghazi killed four US officials, Washington is reaping what it sowed during last year’s war.

The Obama administration orchestrated the toppling of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi with a bombing campaign in support of various Islamist and tribal militias that acted as its proxies on the ground, guided by US and European Special Forces. However, the US government did not intend to give these forces full control of Libya and its oil money, or a blank check for international operations unsupervised by the United States. A falling out between the United States and sections of its local proxy forces in Libya was inevitable.

Amid the social chaos the US created by its intervention—which left a patchwork of right-wing militias fighting for control of the country—the group that attacked the Benghazi consulate was able to plan and launch its operation.

Washington is recklessly pursuing the same policies in its bloody proxy war in Syria.

Update: here.

Funding Teachers Doesn’t Get Embassies Attacked. David Swanson, WarIsACrime.org: “We’re not out of money. We’ve stopped taxing billionaires and corporations, and we’re funding war-preparation so generously that we’re sparking a global arms race that will eventually generate some enemies with which to justify the war preparation… which will make sense to students who were never taught to put events into chronological order. Funding teachers doesn’t destroy our environment, erode our civil liberties, hollow out our economy, antagonize the world, or kill anyone”: here.

The United States supported the opposition against Libya’s Colonel Gaddafi, helped Saudi Arabia and Qatar pour cash and weapons to the militias and had now reaped the whirlwind. America’s Libyan “friends” had turned against them, murdered US ambassador Stevens and his colleagues in Benghazi and started an al-Qa’ida-led anti-American protest movement that had consumed the Muslim world: here.

The death of Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other U.S. officials in Libya last Wednesday should serve to draw much-needed attention to an increasingly untenable contradiction in U.S. policy toward the Middle East. Even while it seeks to recover from this latest attack by Islamic radicals, the United States continues to support or tolerate the mobilization of adherents of that very same ideology elsewhere in the region, most clearly in Syria and in Bahrain. There, U.S. policymakers should expect equally frightening results: here.

Best of Enemies: A History of US and Middle East Relations, Part Three: 1984-2013. Jean-Pierre Filiu and David B (SelfMadeHero £14.99): here.

9 thoughts on “USA-Middle East, not just one film provocation

  1. Egyptian public transport drivers to strike

    The Public Transport Authority (PTA) threatened Tuesday to stage an all-out strike coinciding with the start of the school year, to demand that control of the PTA be transferred to the Transportation Ministry from the Cairo Governorate.

    Demands also included the dispersal of bonuses that had been agreed on with the PTA, as well as an improvement in working conditions. Twenty-eight PTA garages are to participate in the strike, starting Saturday.

    Teachers from across Egypt protest in Cairo

    Around 2,000 teachers and academic employees from several governorates across the country protested in the capital for a third day on Monday.

    The education workers brought their protest outside the Cabinet on Monday, “calling for higher salaries and improved working conditions, among other demands,” said the Egypt Independent.

    The protests were called by the Independent Teachers’ Syndicate and the Federation of Egyptian Teachers, and a number of educational institutes. The official Teachers Syndicate, of around 1 million members, did not endorse the protests.

    Teachers and education employees have threatened strikes on September 16, the start of the academic year. Their demands include a fixed salary scale starting with a minimum wage of LE1,200 for custodial workers, LE2,000 for administrative employees, and LE3,000 for full-time teachers, an incremental pay raise scale, full-time contracts for full-time work, restructuring the Ministry of Education and purging it of corruption.

    Aside from the increasingly common practice of private tutoring, some teachers work as taxi cab and tuk tuk drivers after their classes in order to supplement their income.

    EgyptAir flight attendants end strike

    Five hundred EgyptAir flight attendants ended their strike Monday after their representatives met with Civil Aviation Minister Samir Embaby Metwaly. He reportedly agreed that more flight attendants would be hired, and attendants who were found unable to travel for medical reasons would be transferred to administrative positions.

    Several EgyptAir flights had to be cancelled or delayed when the strike began last Friday.

    “Gamal Abdel Nasser, the secretary general of the Flight Attendants Syndicate, also said that Metwaly made a landmark decision to allow EgyptAir flight attendants to wear hijabs while in uniform,” reported Al-Masry Al-Youm. Nasser added that negotiations for a pay rise have been “postponed.”

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  3. Outrageous Smears

    Sep 14, 2012

    Mitt Romney Continues Smear Campaign Against the President

    On Tuesday evening — the evening of September 11th — as violence was still unfolding in Libya, Mitt Romney issued a statement accusing President Obama of “sympathizing” with those who murdered four Americans, including the American ambassador to Libya. After the full scope of the attacks including the deaths of four Americans became clear, Romney then held a press conference Wednesday morning during which he doubled down on these false and outrageous smears against the president and other members of his administration. The Romney campaign’s official talking points even blamed the president for the attacks.

    Here’s how the fact checkers at the Associated Press assessed Romney’s claims:

    “The gunfire at the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, had barely ceased when Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney seriously mischaracterized what had happened in a statement accusing President Barack Obama of “disgraceful” handling of violence there and at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo. […]

    “In fact, neither a statement by the U.S. Embassy in Cairo earlier in the day nor a later statement from Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton offered sympathy for attackers. The statement from the Cairo Embassy had condemned anti-Muslim religious incitement before the embassy walls were breached. In her statement, issued minutes before Romney’s, Clinton had offered the administration’s first response to the violence in Libya, explicitly condemning the attack there and confirming the death of a State Department official.”

    In a widely circulated photo, Romney was seen walking away from the podium at his press conference, which was ostensibly about the murder of four Americans, with a smirk on his face.

    Romney Roundly Criticized

    The criticism of Romney was swift and severe.

    Members of the media were not shy about underscoring the seriousness of what they viewed as a major misstep. NBC News political director Chuck Todd called it a “bad mistake.” Former Reagan speechwriter and Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan said, “I don’t feel that Mr. Romney has been doing himself any favors.” Time’s Mark Halperin called Romney’s actions “the most craven and ill-advised move of 2012.” Newsweek’s Jonathan Alter said politicizing a national tragedy was “not just dumb but a sign of desperation.”

    But it wasn’t just the media who were attacking Romney for injecting politics into a crisis. Republican foreign policy experts got in on the action, variously saying Romney was an “utter disaster,” “not presidential,” and “not ready for primetime.” One even referred to the blowup as Romney’s “Lehman moment,” a reference to the moment in September 2008 when Sen. John McCain’s presidential campaign went off the rails after McCain declared that “the fundamentals of our economy are strong” following the collapse of Lehman Brothers and ensuing market crash.

    Editorial boards across the country have also been savaging Romney:

    Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: “That baseless criticism calls into question not only his judgment but also his sensitivity, sense of decency and even his humanity.”
    The Virginian-Pilot: “Romney’s vile assertion…is so far beyond the pale, so far beyond the bounds of American civil discourse that the Republican candidate should be ashamed of himself.”
    Reno Gazette-Journal: “Romney’s statement was ill-considered, ill-timed and politically opportunistic.”
    St. Louis Post-Dispatch: “inexcusable…vile…untrue”
    Kansas City Star: “Romney’s inflammatory foreign policy accusations — reiterated on Wednesday — serve no one, especially in light of the tragic deaths.”
    Raleigh News & Observer: “criticism of the president so hasty and poorly informed that it reeks of political opportunism amidst a deadly crisis”
    Charlotte Observer: “shameful…inaccurate and inappropriate”
    Washington Post: “A discredit to his campaign”
    New York Times: “An extraordinary lack of presidential character”
    Los Angeles Times: “An outrageous exercise in opportunism.”
    Boston Globe: “His statement was offensive on many other levels…Romney’s actions raise more doubts about himself than Obama.”
    Miami Herald: “Profoundly inappropriate”
    Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “Yes, it was sad and pathetic to see such callous and uninformed statements from politicians who couldn’t wait until they had the facts to use an international incident for political gain.”
    Even one of Romney’s own top advisers told the New York Times that Romney “had forgotten the first rule in a crisis: don’t start talking before you understand what’s happening.”

    More Smears from the Romney Campaign

    Despite the withering criticism from all sides, the Romney campaign has continued to launch new attacks on the president even as our embassies continue to be under siege from angry mobs:

    The attacks were caused by Obama’s alleged but non-existent “apologies” for America.
    Obama’s weakness, “equivocation” and “mixed signals” invited the attacks, a charge repeated by Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan today.
    That President Obama was to blame for the murders and they would not have happened if Romney was president.
    BOTTOM LINE: Rather than follow the example of Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush who refused to politicize the Iran hostage crisis during the 1980 campaign, Romney has instead chosen to inject politics into a national tragedy and ongoing crisis.

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