Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Mossadegh

Egypt is turmoil: And Obama goes golfing, and Kerry goes fishing?

Truth about Egypt slips out: New York Times shocker

Have you noticed the silence, the casual indifference, of the Obama administration since the Egyptian army shoved President Mohammad Morsi from office in a military coup that gets bloodier by the day?
That is what you are supposed to notice. Barack Obama goes golfing as Cairo descends into violence. Secretary of State John Kerry goes sailing in Nantucket. Neither has anything of importance to say about the events in Egypt — the chaos engulfing the nation.
We’re just bystanders, and those poor Egyptians — we hope they can sort themselves out. These guys play a pretty fair hand a lot of the time, but they have overplayed this one.
Anyone who thinks the U.S. is not complicit up to its eyebrows in the Egyptian army’s unlawful coup needs a refresher in our history.
Enlarge David Brooks, Thomas Friedman   (Credit: AP/Nam Y. Huh/Zsolt Szigetvary/Reuters/Carlo Allegri)
It is now common currency to say that Morsi, who served just a year after he was legitimately elected in June 2012, failed some kind of democracy test. He did no such thing.
There was a test, but the failure belongs to Washington. (Not a failure, but a decision to fail the Moslem Brotherhood experience)
The US professes to like democracies all over the planet, but it cannot yet abide one that may not reflect America’s will. I have not written anything new just now.
Just in some of our lifetimes we have Italy’s elections in 1948 (corrupted) and many, many Japanese elections — generations of them. Then there’s the nastier stuff: Mossadegh in Iran, Arbenz in Guatemala, Lumumba in Congo, Sukarno in Indonesia, Allende in Chili, and so on.
But to say it is an old story is precisely what is so disturbing, not to say disgraceful, about the coup in Egypt and America’s part in it.
The Arab world (a quarter of which abides in Egypt) is struggling toward a kind of democracy that will arise from Islamic culture and civilization.
This is why the Arab Spring, as it commenced in early 2011, remains so promising. One embraces the prospect of something new. Morsi made a thousand mistakes.
There was political immaturity (hardly surprising after three decades of U.S.-backed dictators), there was the seeking of partisan advantage, there was sectarian exclusion, there was the defensiveness and overcompensating of the Muslim Brotherhood, Morsi’s party, after long years of persecution.
Egypt’s first properly elected government was bound to be something of a dog’s dinner, as the English say.
But search as one may, there is nothing on the list that warranted a military coup. And this accounts for the cat-ate-the-canary bit the Obama administration is asking us to accept.
What Washington truly does not want is an elected Islamic government, and this is written all over what the Obama administration has just taken part in.
There is nothing so honorable as a statement of policy — Where is Edward Snowden now that we really need him? — but there are footprints galore. There is the nomenclature, for instance. When is a coup not a coup? When it is against U.S. law to support one, and when the White House and Congress want to continue sending $1.5 billion in aid to the Egyptian military.
So Egypt has not had a coup, somehow — never mind that the law is being broken. Americans are actually invited to accept this, and many do. It makes you think P.T. Barnum had it right all along. Now you have to listen to Obama.
Here is all Obama has had to say since Morsi’s July 3 exit: Egypt’s army should move “quickly and responsibly” to restore “full authority back to a democratically elected civilian government as soon as possible.” (Lately, Morsi should be set free…) Can you believe it?
Not “the Morsi government,” which of course was civilian and democratically elected, but “a government.” You see where the White House is headed on this? Hacks like me call minute-to-minute accounts of events “tick-tocks,” and the New York Times did one from Cairo in its edition last Sunday, four days after Morsi’s ouster.
I wonder if the commissars are upset. Buried in the details is a plain and simple re-creation of the moments during which Washington gave the Egyptian army authorization to move against its government. I read it, shocked by the momentary honesty in the coverage, and said, “This is a mistake that will not be repeated,” and it has not been.
We ought not get started on the journalism, except that we already have. The media’s cooperation in mystifying the perfectly obvious is not short of stunning, and much or most of the blame must fall, sorry to say, to the Times.
Here is a Times correspondent publishing on July 5: “But the flurry of White House meetings and phone calls served to underscore the lack of leverage the U.S. has over Egypt, once a crucial strategic ally in the Middle East but lately just another headache.” How do these people hold their heads up? It is entirely a historical.
The media reported Hosni Mubarak’s fall the same way two years ago — as if the U.S. had just realized its 20-year client was in office. We must treat the man to the history text of his choosing. Now we read that the Morsi government and the Muslim Brotherhood are making “claims to legitimacy” (the Times, July 8).
This kind of phrasing is handled like radioactive material at the Times. (I know; I once worked there.) There are no accidents. This is part of how the U.S. intends to Not legitimize a legitimate government. There is nothing personal in this, but we have to end with a consideration of the shockingly bigoted column David Brooks published in the July 5 Times.
Morsi, you see, represented democratic process, which I had always thought was a pretty good thing. But no, we must judge leaders on the basis of “substance,” which is to say their values, and they have to match ours. That is how it works. Morsi came up short on substance. He had the values wrong. These kind of people need to be “investigated” before they are elected. (By whom is not noted.) You see, people holding Islamic beliefs are not capable of governing themselves. Egypt, for that matter, “lacks even the basic mental ingredients” to swing a democratic transition. Breathtaking.
In all probability I would not like Morsi personally. But I am for Morsi. I am for his Brothers. They represent the best thing the Arab Spring has yet achieved — the start of an essential process — and the U.S. had no business tearing it down, especially in so underhanded a fashion.
(I strongly doubt it that Egypt army would have fomented the coup if the people refused to go out on mass to demonstrate their displeasure over the Moslem Brotherhood experience and brand of democracy. The US would have not dared this time around to order a military coup without the acquiesce of the Egyptian people)
Note 2: Patrick Smith is the author of “Time No Longer: Americans After the American Century” was the International Herald Tribune’s bureau chief in Hong Kong and then Tokyo from 1985 to 1992.
During this time he also wrote “Letter from Tokyo” for the New Yorker. He is the author of four previous books and has contributed frequently to the New York Times, the Nation, the Washington Quarterly, and other publications.                            More Patrick L. Smith.            

How US Administrations struggle to be “master of the situation” in the Middle East?

How US Administrations have been struggling to get engaged in this region?

The 7 Lessons the “Arab” people learned long time ago

The people in the Middle East has never been fully “decolonized“. This feeling is true, in everyday aspirations, for almost all African States which were under colonial occupations of France, England, Portugal, Germany, and Belgium.

Sitting on top of over 60% of the globe’s oil reserves, the Arab world has been the target of continual interference and interventions ever since it became nominally recognized by the UN as “independent States”.

Britain, France, and Italy (before and after WWI ) agreed on the imaginary borders of what are to become the current States. Thus creating the impression of artificial States among the people.

Since then, the people in the Arab States have been bombed and occupied by foreign powers, including Israel on behalf of the US, England and France, and locked down with US, French, and English military bases and western-backed tyrannies.

The Palestinian blogger Lina Al-Sharif tweeted on Armistice Day this year, the “reasons World War One isn’t over yet is because we, in the Middle East, are still living the consequences”.

The 7 lessons that the “Arab people” have long learned and that the “Arab States” should have finally grasped from the Western imperialism behaviors and strategy in the Middle-East are:

1. The Western powers never gives up their drive to control the Middle East, whatever the setbacks
2. Imperial powers can usually be relied on to delude themselves about what Arabs actually think
3. The Big UN veto Powers are old hands at “beautifying” client regimes to keep the oil flowing
4. People in the Middle East don’t forget their history – even when the US and Europe do their best to erase violent colonial past from history books
5. The West has always presented “Arabs”, who insist on running their own affairs, as fanatics
6. Foreign military intervention in the Middle East brings death, destruction, and the game of “divide to rule”
7. Western sponsorship of Palestine’s colonisation is a permanent block for normal relations with the Arab world

It is refreshing that social platforms are recognizing these facts and daring to reflect on their own and publish their findings. Here are quick samples, in videos, pictures, and news dispatches, which do not provide enough details, but at least set the tone for further reflection and investigation:

1. The west never gives up its drive to control the Middle East, whatever the setbacks

Take the last time Arab States started dropping out of the western orbit – in the 1950s, under the influence of Nasser’s pan-Arabism. In July 1958, radical Iraqi nationalist army officers overthrew a corrupt and repressive western-backed regime (sounds familiar?), garrisoned by British forces. 1958 revolution in Iraq. Link to this video

The ousting of the reliably pliant Iraqi monarchy threw Pathé into a panic.  In its first despatch on the events, Pathé News wrote: ” Oil-rich Iraq had become the “number one danger spot” despite the “Harrow-educated” King Faisal’s. No one can question King Faisal’s patriotism, but this is unfortunate for western policy”.

But within a few days – compared with the couple of months it took them to intervene in Libya this year – Britain and the US had moved thousands of troops into Jordan and Lebanon to protect two other client regimes from Nasserite revolt. Or, as Pathé News put it in its next report, to “stop the rot in the Middle East“. troops fly out to Jordan, 1958. Link to this video

Nor did they have any intention of leaving revolutionary Iraq to its own devices. Less than five years later, in February 1963, US and British intelligence backed the bloody coup that first brought Saddam Hussein’s Ba’athists to power. 

Fast forward to 2003, and the US and Britain had invaded and occupied the entire country.

Iraq was finally back under full western control – at the cost of over $2 trillion and over one million killed of Iraqi citizens… It was the strength of the Iraqi resistance that ultimately led to this week’s American withdrawal – but even after the pullout, 16,000 security contractors, trainers and others will remain under US command. In Iraq, as in the rest of the region, they never leave unless they’re forced to.

2. Imperial powers can usually be relied on to delude themselves about what Arabs actually think

Could the Pathé News presenter – and the colonial occupiers of the day – really have believed that the “thousands of Arabs” showering petrified praise on the fascist dictator Mussolini as he drove through the streets of Tripoli in the Italian colony of Libya in 1937 actually meant it? You wouldn’t guess so to look at their cowed faces. visits Libya, 1937. Link to this video

No hint from the newsreel that a third of the population of Libya had died under the brutality of Italian colonial rule, or of the heroic Libyan resistance movement led by Omar Mukhtar, who was hanged in an Italian concentration camp. But then the “mask of imperialism” the voiceover describes Mussolini as wearing fitted British politicians of the time just as well. Queen visits Aden, 1954. Link to this video

And Pathé’s report on the Queen’s visit to the British colony of Aden (now part of Yemen) a few years later was eerily similar, with “thousands of “cheering loyal subjects” shown supposedly welcoming “their own Queen” to what she blithely describes as an “outstanding example of colonial development”.

So outstanding in fact that barely a decade later the South Yemeni liberation movements forced British troops to evacuate the last outpost of empire after they had beaten, tortured and murdered their way through Aden’s Crater district: one ex-squaddie explained in a 2004 BBC documentary on Aden that he couldn’t go into details because of the risk of war crimes prosecutions.

Aden soldier 1953

A British soldier seizes a demonstrator in Aden’s Crater district in 1967. Photograph: Terry Fincher/Getty

It’s far easier to see through the propaganda of other times and places than your own – especially when delivered by preposterous 1950s-style Harry Enfield/Cholmondley-Warner characters.

The neocons famously expected a cakewalk in Iraq and early US and British coverage of the invasion still had Iraqis throwing flowers at invading troops when armed resistance was already in full flow. And UK TV reports of British troops “protecting the local population” from the Taliban in Afghanistan can be strikingly reminiscent of 1950s newsreels from Aden and Suez.

Even during this year’s uprisings in Egypt and Libya, western media have often seen what they wanted to see in the crowds in Tahrir Square or Benghazi – only to be surprised, say, when Islamists end up calling the shots or winning elections. Whatever happens next, they’re likely not to get it.

3. The Big Powers are old hands at “prettifying” client regimes to keep the oil flowing

When it comes to the reactionary Gulf autocracies, to be fair, they don’t really bother. But before the anti-imperialist wave of the 1950s did for a slew of them, the British, French and Americans worked hard to dress up the stooge regimes of the time as forward-looking constitutional democracies.

Sometimes that effort came rapidly unstuck, as this breezy report on Libya’s “first major test of democracy” under the US-British puppet king Idris makes no effort to conceal. in Libya, 1952. Link to this video

The brazen rigging of the 1952 elections against the Islamic opposition sparked rioting and all political parties were banned. Idris was later overthrown by Gaddafi, oil nationalised and the US Wheelus base closed – though today the king’s flag is flying again in Tripoli with Nato’s assistance, while western oil companies wait to collect their winnings.

Elections were also rigged and thousands of political prisoners tortured in 1950’s Iraq. But so far as British officialdom – entrenched as “advisers” in Baghdad and their military base at Habbaniya – and the newsreels shown in British cinemas at the time were concerned, Faisal’s Iraq was a benign and “go-ahead” democracy. oilfields of Basra, 1952. Link to this video

Under the watchful eyes of the US and British ambassadors and “Mr Gibson” of the British Iraq Petroleum Company, we see the Iraqi prime minister, Nuri Said, opening the Zubair oilfield near Basra in 1952 to bring “schools and hospitals” through the “joint labour of east and west”.

In fact that would only happen when oil was nationalised – and six years later Said was killed on the streets of Baghdad as he tried to escape dressed as a woman. Half a century on and the British were back in control of Basra, while today Iraqis are battling to prevent a new takeover of their oil in a devastated country.  The US and British politicians again like to insist current Iraq is a democracy.

Any “Arab spring” State that ditches self-determination for the West’s embrace can of course expect a similar makeover – just as client regimes that never left its orbit, such as the corrupt police state of Jordan, have always been hailed as islands of good government and “moderation”.

4. People in the Middle East don’t forget their history – even when the US and Europe does

The gap could hardly be wider. When Nasser’s former information minister and veteran journalist Mohamed Heikal recently warned that the Arab uprisings were being used to impose a new “Sykes-Picot agreement“:   The WWI carve-up the Middle East; England got mandated power over Iraq, Palestine, Jordan…and France ruled over Syria and Lebanon.  Egypt and Yemen were already British colonies before the Ottoman Empire expired… Arabs and others in the Middle East naturally knew exactly what Heikal was talking about.

It has shaped the entire region and its relations with the west ever since. But to most non-specialists in Britain and France, Sykes-Picot might as well be an obscure brand of electric cheese-grater.

The same goes for more than a century of Anglo-American interference, occupation and anti-democratic subversion against Iran. British media expressed bafflement at popular Iranian hostility to Britain when the embassy in Tehran was trashed by demonstrators last month. But if you know the historical record, what could be less surprising? overthrow of Mossadegh, 1953. Link to this video

The Orwellian cynicism of Britain’s role is neatly captured in Pathé’s take on the 1953 overthrow of the democratically elected Iranian leader Mohammed Mossadegh after he nationalised Iran’s oil.

Pro-Mossadegh demonstrators are portrayed as violent and destructive, while the violent CIA-MI6 organised coup that ousted him in favour of the Shah is welcomed as a popular and “dramatic turn of events”. The newsreel damns as a “virtual dictator” the elected Mossadegh, who at his subsequent treason trial expressed the hope that his fate would serve as an example in “breaking the chains of colonial servitude”.

The real dictator, the western-backed Shah whose brutal autocracy paved the way for the Iranian revolution and the Islamic Republic 26 years later, is hailed as the people’s sovereign.

mossadegh trial

Mohammed Mossadegh, Iran’s ousted prime minister, during his trial in the wake of the CIA-MI6 orchestrated coup that overthrew his elected government in 1953. Photograph: AFP

So when western politicians rail against Iranian authoritarianism or claim to champion democratic rights while continuing to prop up a string of Gulf dictatorships, there won’t be many in the Middle East who take them too seriously.

5. The west has always presented Arabs who insist on running their own affairs as fanatics

The revolutionary upheaval that began last December in Sidi Bouzid is far from being the first popular uprising against oppressive rule in Tunisia. In the 1950s the movement against French colonial rule was naturally denounced by colonial governments and their supporters as “extremist” and “terrorist”. nationalist riots, 1952. Link to this video

Pathé News certainly had no truck with their campaign for independence. In 1952, it blamed an attack on a police station on a “burst of nationalist agitation” across North Africa. And as colonial police conduct a “vigorous search for terrorists” – though the bewildered men being dragged from their homes at gunpoint look more like Captain Renault’s “usual suspects” in Casablanca – the presenter complains that “once again fanatics intervene and make matters worse”.

The presenter meant the Tunisian nationalists, of course, rather than the French occupation regime. Arab nationalism has since been eclipsed by the rise of Islamist movements, who have in turn been dismissed as “fanatics”, both by the west and some former nationalists. As elections bring one Islamist party after another to power in the Arab world, the US and allies are trying to tame them – on foreign and economic policy, rather than interpretations of sharia.

Those that succumb will become “moderates” – the rest will remain “fanatics”.

6. Foreign military intervention in the Middle East brings death, destruction and divide and rule

It’s scarcely necessary to dig into the archives to work that out. The experience of the last decade is clear enough. Whether it’s a full-scale invasion and occupation, such as Iraq, where hundreds of thousands have been killed, or aerial bombardment for regime change under the banner of “protecting civilians” in Libya, where tens of thousands have died, the human and social costs have been catastrophic.

And that’s been true throughout the baleful history of western involvement in the Middle East. Pathé’s silent film of the devastation of Damascus by French colonial forces during the Syrian revolt of 1925 might as well be of Falluja in 2004 or Sirte this autumn – if you ignore the fezzes and pith helmets. defence of Damascus, 1925. Link to this video

Thirty years later, and Port Said looked pretty similar during the Anglo-French invasion of Egypt in 1956 that marked the replacement of the former European colonial states by the US as the dominant power in the region. operation on the Suez canal, 1956. Link to this video

This newsreel clip of British troops attacking Suez, invading troops occupying and destroying yet another Arab city, could be Basra or Beirut – it’s become such a regular feature of the contemporary world, and a seamless link with the colonial era.

british troops port said two

British troops surround hungry crowds in front of the ruins of Port Said, destroyed during the Anglo-French invasion of Egypt in 1956. Photograph: Getty

So has the classic imperial tactic of using religious and ethnic divisions to enforce foreign occupation: whether by the Americans in Iraq, the French in colonial Syria and Lebanon or the British more or less wherever they went. The Pathé archive is full of newsreels acclaiming British troops for “keeping the peace” between hostile populations, from Cyprus to Palestine – all the better to keep control.

And now the religious sectarianism and ethnic divisions fostered under the US-British occupation of Iraq have been mobilised by the West’s Gulf allies to head off or divert the challenge of the Arab awakening: in the crushing of the Bahrain uprising, the isolation of Shia unrest in Saudi Arabia and the increasingly sectarian conflict in Syria – where foreign intervention could only escalate the killing and deny Syrians control of their own country.

7. Western sponsorship of Palestine’s colonisation is a permanent block on normal relations with the Arab world

Israel could not have been created without Britain’s 30-year imperial rule in Palestine and its sponsorship of large-scale European Jewish colonisation under the banner of the Balfour declaration of 1917. An independent Palestine, with an overwhelming Palestinian Arab majority, would clearly never have accepted it.

That reality is driven home in this Pathé News clip from the time of the Palestinian civil disobedience revolt of 1936-1939 against the British mandate . It shows British soldiers rounding up Palestinian “terrorists” in the occupied West Bank towns of Nablus and Tulkarm – just as their Israeli successors do today.

England had to dispatch 100,000 soldiers to confront this incredibly tenacious Palestinian civil disobedience movement that lasted 3 years, and could have lasted longer, if WWII didn’t break out. England enacted military laws and invented large set of torture techniques that Nazi Germany studied and applied, as Israel did afterwards, even before the “creation” of the State of Israel.

The British colonial mandate refused any kind of “democratic elections” in Palestine, on the ground that Zionist organization refused such election since Jews were less than 10% of the population! troops in Nablus, 1939. Link to this video

The reason for the security of Jewish settlers, the presenter declares in the clipped, breathless tones of the 1930’s voiceover, are “the British troops, ever watchful, ever protective”. That relationship broke down after Britain restricted Jewish immigration to Palestine on the eve of the second world war.

Britain’s colonial reflex, in Palestine as elsewhere, was always to present itself as “guardian of law and order” against the “threat of rebellion” and “master of the situation” – as in this delusional 1938 newsreel from Jerusalem. troops in Jerusalem, 1938. Link to this video

But the original crucial link between western imperial power and the Zionist project became a permanent strategic alliance after the establishment of Israel – throughout the expulsion and dispossession of the Palestinians, multiple wars, 44 years of military occupation and the continuing illegal colonisation of the West Bank and Gaza.

The creation of the State of Israel was to be the front post (in these “desert lands”…) for destabilizing the region, a hired “private security guard”: No one is better in inflicting direct harm and infernal suffering to others, but those who tasted it, or make you believe that they feel what their family members tasted in indignities and genocide…

The unconditional nature of that alliance, which remains the pivot of US policy in the Middle East, is one reason why democratically elected Arab governments are likely to find it harder to play patsy to US power than the dictatorial Mubaraks and Gulf monarchs. The Palestinian cause is embedded in Arab and Islamic political culture. Like Britain before it, the US may struggle to remain “master of the situation” in the Middle East.

The Arab uprisings that erupted in Tunisia a year ago have focused on corruption, poverty and lack of freedom, rather than western domination or Israeli occupation. But the fact that they kicked off against western-backed dictatorships meant they posed an immediate threat to the strategic order.

Since the day Hosni Mubarak fell in Egypt, there has been a relentless counter-drive by the western powers and their Gulf allies to buy off, crush or hijack the Arab revolutions. And they’ve got a deep well of experience to draw on:  Every centre of the Arab uprisings, from Egypt to Yemen, has lived through decades of imperial domination.

All the main NATO Sates that bombed Libya (US, Britain, France and Italy) have had troops occupying the country well within living memory.

If the Arab revolutions are going to take control of their future they’ll need to have to keep an eye on their recent past.  So here are seven lessons from the history of western Middle East meddling, courtesy of the archive of Pathé News, colonial-era voice of Perfidious Albion itself.

Note 1: You may read how-many-kinds-of-wars

Note 2: Arab-Spring-seven-lessons-, and




February 2023

Blog Stats

  • 1,516,469 hits

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by

Join 822 other subscribers
%d bloggers like this: