by Michel Chossudovsky
The cooptation of the leaders of major opposition parties and civil society organizations in anticipation of the collapse of an authoritarian puppet government is part of Washington’s design, applied in different regions of the World.
The process of cooptation is implemented and financed by US based foundations including the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and Freedom House (FH). Both FH and the NED have links to the US Congress. the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), and the US business establishment. Both the NED and FH are known to have ties to the CIA.
The NED is actively involved in Tunisia, Egypt and Algeria. Freedom House supports several civil society organizations in Egypt.
“The NED was established by the Reagan administration after the CIA’s role in covertly funding efforts to overthrow foreign governments was brought to light, leading to the discrediting of the parties, movements, journals, books, newspapers and individuals that received CIA funding. … As a bipartisan endowment, with participation from the two major parties, as well as the AFL-CIO and US Chamber of Commerce, the NED took over the financing of foreign overthrow movements, but overtly and under the rubric of “democracy promotion.” (Stephen Gowans, January « 2011 “What’s left“)
While the US has supported the Mubarak government for the last thirty years, US foundations with ties to the US State department and the Pentagon have actively supported the political opposition including the civil society movement. According to Freedom House: “Egyptian civil society is both vibrant and constrained. There are hundreds of non-governmental organizations devoted to expanding civil and political rights in the country, operating in a highly regulated environment.”
In a bitter irony, Washington supports the Mubarak dictatorship, including its atrocities, while also backing and financing its detractors, through the activities of FH, the NED, among others. Read more…
Freedom House publishes an annual report assessing the degree of perceived democratic freedoms in each country.
Freedom House is supposedly an international non-governmental organization (NGO) based in Washington, D.C. which conducts research and advocacy on democracy, political freedom and human rights, but it is accused by a lot of analysts and activists to be a front for the American Council on Foreign Relations and its British counterpart the Royal Institute of International Affairs.
Noam Chomsky has criticized Freedom House for receiving funding from and allegedly furthering the interests of the U.S. government.
In it’s annual report, titled “Freedom in the World”, Freedom House claims to evaluate the state of global freedom. The report is published with illustrated maps, titled the “Freedom Maps”.
Here are the maps of the last 3 years alongside their charts:
As you can see from the maps above and charts below, according to “Freedom House” most of the Middle East countries are labeled as NOT FREE, while three countries only (Morocco, Lebanon and Kuwait) are labeled as PARTLY FREE, and ONE Country only is FREE, and that’s ISRAEL! Read more…
An international relations theory professor once compared President Woodrow Wilson’s approach to democracy with that of President George W. Bush. Post-World War I, Wilson advocated for the self-governance of the peoples that were liberated from Ottoman rule. His approach could be compared to planting a tree: You introduce the seed of democracy, nurture it, and then watch it flourish. On the other hand, Bush’s post-9/11 approach to democracy was to remove any existing autocratic governing system that harbored hostility toward the U.S.—using force if needed—and replace it with a democracy. This is analogous to digging a hole and then planting a full-grown tree in it. Recent events in Tunis and Egypt, however, show how much better Wilson’s approach to instating democracy was Bush’s approach. Although the damage in Iraq and Afghanistan has been done, there still needs to be a change in policy concerning other autocratic regimes in the area.American foreign policy had little to do with the Jasmine revolution in Egypt. In fact, the American government was caught off guard and had barely any time to assess the situation. Joe Biden first expressed that he wouldn’t call Mubarak a dictator, but an ally;he later called Mubarak’s resignation a pivotal moment in history. The ambivalence of the American position might just have been the best thing that happened to the revolution. The movement was relatively peaceful—except for violent stunts instigated by Mubarak’s henchmen—and showcased the power of the people to initiate change.As with Tunisia, the events in Egypt are inciting other grassroots movements toward democracy in the Arab world, and the American government should welcome that. Demonstrations are taking place in Jordan, Bahrain, and Yemen, just to name a few. The State Department should pressure its autocratic allies into instituting fundamental changes to their oppressive regimes. If true democracy were to flourish in the Middle East, U.S.-friendly dictators cannot count on their Western allies to keep them in power, but need to become responsible toward their people.
The main excuse that kept Mubarak—and countless others—in power for three decades was that he was the lesser of two evils. Americans feared the rise of an Islamist fundamentalist regime in Egypt that would undermine the Camp David Accords. Although the U.S. did lose a major ally in the region, there are no indications that any democratically elected government would be hostile toward the U.S. Even the widely feared “Muslim Brotherhood” has worked to alleviate such fears by announcing that it will not field a candidate for presidency. The Brotherhood, a non-violent conservative Islamist movement, aims to create an Islamist state, but whether it has enough popular support has yet to be determined. If all goes well, Egypt should have a democratically elected government within six months.
Such apprehensions should not stop the U.S. from pushing toward reforms in other Arab nations that are witnessing peaceful protests calling for reforms. Arabs are calling for legitimate rights that include freedom of speech, better standards of life, and a fair judicial system. If the U.S. genuinely wants to spread democracy in the world, it should start by pressuring their allies into making concessions to their oppressed peoples as a first step to long-term change.
Condoleezza Rice once explained to Arabs that “the birth pangs of a new Middle East” was Israel’s anti-Hezbollah war on Lebanon. However, the 2006 war failed to change the status quo between the two countries, and her “new Middle East” was stillborn. New birth pangs now seem to have hit that region, but they don’t include missiles, bombs, and tanks. They are the dead and injured of Tahrir Square, Pearl Square, and all pro-democracy protests, and they will bring in the birth of a new Middle East.
Source: The Harvard Crimson
When the US decided that its backyard would in future be a greater Middle East –from Pakistan to Morocco –it imagined that it could rearrange the region to suit itself. The results have been disastrous and will be long-lasting.
The United States undersecretary of state, Nicholas Burns, said this year: “Ten years ago Europe was the epicentre of American foreign policy. This was how things stood from April 1917, when Woodrow Wilson sent one million American troops to the Western Front, through to President Clinton’s intervention in Kosovo in 1999. For the better part of the 20th century, Europe was our primary, vital focus.” But, he added, everything had changed and the Middle East was now, for President George Bush and his successors, “the place that Europe once was for the administrations of the 20th century” .
President Bush had said much the same a while earlier: “The challenge playing out across the broader Middle East is more than a military conflict. It is the decisive ideological struggle of our time. On one side are those who believe in freedom and moderation. On the other side are extremists who kill the innocent, and have declared their intention to destroy our way of life” . Read more…
Using the July 12 capture of two Israeli soldiers–whose unit had apparently crossed the Israeli border into Lebanon–as a pretext, the Bush administration quickly sprung into action: imagining yet a new Middle East, where democracy and freedom reigns over militancy and oppression.
Since the neoconservative takeover of America’s foreign policies, it has become apparent that the neocons do not operate with such impulsiveness. The plan for a new Middle East was introduced as early as 1992 by then less influential neoconservative elements. Those ideals were accentuated in 1996 by Richard Pearle and company, then advising Israel’s Prime Minister at the time, Benjamin Netanyahu.
Exploiting the tragedy of the September 11 terrorist attacks to achieve what until then seemed unfeasible, Washington’s neocons were hard at work: an invasion of Iraq, then Iran and Syria, which would naturally lead to the plunging of Lebanon into Israel’s political sphere. Meanwhile, Israel would be entrusted with the ominous task of imposing whatever solution it finds suitable on defenseless Palestinians. But when it all seemed set for the advent of a new Middle East, Iraqis exhibited stiff resistance that bogged down America’s military power and stretched its resources beyond expectations. The tens of billions of initial costs for war led to tens of millions more, with no end in sight. Read more…
A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm (commonly known as the “Clean Break” report) is a policy document that was prepared in 1996 by a study group led by Richard Perle for Benjamin Netanyahu, then Prime Minister of Israel. The report explained a new approach to solving Israel’s security problems in the Middle East with an emphasis on “Western values”. It has since been criticized for advocating an aggressive new policy including the removal of Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq, and the containment of Syria by engaging in proxy warfare and highlighting their possession of “weapons of mass destruction”.
According to the report’s preamble, it was written by the Study Group on a New Israeli Strategy Toward 2000, which was a part of the Institute for Advanced Strategic and Political Studies. Former United States Assistant Secretary of Defense Richard Perle was the “Study Group Leader”, but the final report included ideas from Douglas Feith, James Colbert, Charles Fairbanks, Jr., Robert Loewenberg, David Wurmser, and Meyrav Wurmser. Read more…
When Israeli Minister without Portfolio Yossi Peled said recently that a war with Lebanon’s Hezbollah was “just a matter of time” and that such a conflict would include Syria, most observers dismissed the comment as little more than posturing by a right-wing former general. But Peled’s threat has been backed by Israeli military maneuvers near the Lebanese border, violations of Lebanese airspace, and the deployment of an anti-missile system on Israel’s northern border.
The Lebanese are certainly not treating it as Likud bombast.
“We hear a lot of Israeli threats day in and day out, and not only threats,” Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri told the BBC. “We see what is happening on the ground and in our airspace…during the past two months—every day we have Israeli airplanes entering Lebanese airspace.” Hariri added that he considered the situation “really dangerous.”
The increasing tension was behind the recent visit to Beirut by Senator Philippe Marini, French President Nicholas Sarkozy’s special envoy to Lebanon. After Marini met with Hariri, Christian Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea, and Hezbollah leaders, the envoy said that he feared a Hezbollah-Israel rematch could easily become a regional war. Read more…
By MIKE WHITNEY, May 29, 2007
” … under the sky
the self inside me dies …
I will always be from nowhere
Without a face, without a history
“Traveler without Luggage” by Abdul-Wahab Al-Bayyati
It’s hard to know what Bush hopes to accomplish by backing the bloody siege of the Nahr al-Bared refugee camp, but one thing is certain; things are never as they seem. In an interview on Democracy Now last week, investigative reporter Seymour Hersh stated that, Fatah al-Islam—the group of Sunni extremists inside the camp–were getting material support from the Saudis, the Bush administration and members of the Lebanese political establishment.
So, the Bush administration is supporting terrorism???
That’s right. Sy Hersh put it like this:
“The idea was to provide them (Fatah al-Islam) with some arms and some money and some basic equipment so — these are small units, a couple hundred people. There were three or four around the country given the same help covertly, the goal being they would be potential enemies of Hezbollah in case of warfare”.
But if Fatah-al-Islam is an American-Saudi creation than why is the Bush administration shipping weapons to Lebanon to help kill them? Is this is another example of “blowback”—the unintended consequences of a misguided foreign policy?
Yes and no.
By TANYA REINHART, July 27, 2006
Beirut is burning, hundreds of Lebanese die, hundreds of thousands lose all they ever owned and become refugees, and all the world is doing is rescuing the “foreign passport” residents of what was just two weeks ago “the Paris of the Middle East”. Lebanon must die now, because “Israel has the right to defend itself”, so goes the U.S. mantra, used to block any international attempt to impose a cease fire.
Israel, backed by the U.S., portrays its war on Lebanon as a war of self defense. It is easy to sell this message to mainstream media, because the residents of the North of Israel are also in shelters, bombarded and endangered. Israel’s claim that no country would let such an attack on its residents unanswered, finds many sympathetic ears. But let us reconstruct exactly how it all started.
On Wednesday, July 12, a Hezbollah uni! t attacked two armored Jeeps of the Israeli army, patrolling along Israel’s border with Lebanon. Three Israeli soldiers were killed in the attack and two were taken hostage. In a news conference held in Beirut a couple of hours later, Hezbollah’s leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah explained that their aim was to reach a prisoner exchange, where in return for the two captured Israeli soldiers, Israel would return three Lebanese prisoners it had refused to release in a previous prisoner exchange. Nasrallah declared that “he did not want to drag the region into war”, but added that “our current restraint is not due to weakness … if they [Israel] choose to confront us, they must be prepared for surprises.” 
By RON NIXON
WASHINGTON — Even as the United States poured billions of dollars into foreign military programs and anti-terrorism campaigns, a small core of American government-financed organizations were promoting democracy in authoritarian Arab states.
The money spent on these programs was minute compared with efforts led by the Pentagon. But as American officials and others look back at the uprisings of the Arab Spring, they are seeing that the United States’ democracy-building campaigns played a bigger role in fomenting protests than was previously known, with key leaders of the movements having been trained by the Americans in campaigning, organizing through new media tools and monitoring elections.
A number of the groups and individuals directly involved in the revolts and reforms sweeping the region, including the April 6 Youth Movement in Egypt, the Bahrain Center for Human Rights and grass-roots activists like Entsar Qadhi, a youth leader in Yemen, received training and financing from groups like the International Republican Institute, the National Democratic Institute and Freedom House, a nonprofit human rights organization based in Washington, according to interviews in recent weeks and American diplomatic cables obtained by WikiLeaks.
The work of these groups often provoked tensions between the United States and many Middle Eastern leaders, who frequently complained that their leadership was being undermined, according to the cables.
The Republican and Democratic institutes are loosely affiliated with the Republican and Democratic Parties. They were created by Congress and are financed through the National Endowment for Democracy, which was set up in 1983 to channel grants for promoting democracy in developing nations. The National Endowment receives about $100 million annually from Congress. Freedom House also gets the bulk of its money from the American government, mainly from the State Department.
No one doubts that the Arab uprisings are home grown, rather than resulting from “foreign influence,” as alleged by some Middle Eastern leaders.
“We didn’t fund them to start protests, but we did help support their development of skills and networking,” said Stephen McInerney, executive director of the Project on Middle East Democracy, a Washington-based advocacy and research group. “That training did play a role in what ultimately happened, but it was their revolution. We didn’t start it.”
Some Egyptian youth leaders attended a 2008 technology meeting in New York, where they were taught to use social networking and mobile technologies to promote democracy. Among those sponsoring the meeting were Facebook, Google, MTV, Columbia Law School and the State Department.
“We learned how to organize and build coalitions,” said Bashem Fathy, a founder of the youth movement that ultimately drove the Egyptian uprisings. Mr. Fathy, who attended training with Freedom House, said, “This certainly helped during the revolution.”
Ms. Qadhi, the Yemeni youth activist, attended American training sessions in Yemen.
“It helped me very much because I used to think that change only takes place by force and by weapons,” she said.
But now, she said, it is clear that results can be achieved with peaceful protests and other nonviolent means.
But some members of the activist groups complained in interviews that the United States was hypocritical for helping them at the same time that it was supporting the governments they sought to change.
“While we appreciated the training we received through the NGOs sponsored by the U.S. government, and it did help us in our struggles, we are also aware that the same government also trained the state security investigative service, which was responsible for the harassment and jailing of many of us,” said Mr. Fathy, the Egyptian activist.
Interviews with officials of the nongovernmental groups and a review of diplomatic cables obtained by WikiLeaks show that the democracy programs were constant sources of tension between the United States and many Arab governments.
The cables, in particular, show how leaders in the Middle East and North Africa viewed these groups with deep suspicion, and tried to weaken them. Today the work of these groups is among the reasons that governments in turmoil claim that Western meddling was behind the uprisings, with some officials noting that leaders like Ms. Qadhi were trained and financed by the United States.
Diplomatic cables report how American officials frequently assured skeptical governments that the training was aimed at reform, not promoting revolutions.
Last year, for example, a few months before national elections in Bahrain, officials there barred a representative of the National Democratic Institute from entering the country.
In Bahrain, officials worried that the group’s political training “disproportionately benefited the opposition,” according to a January 2010 cable.
In Yemen, where the United States has been spending millions on an anti-terrorism program, officials complained that American efforts to promote democracy amounted to “interference in internal Yemeni affairs.”
But nowhere was the opposition to the American groups stronger than in Egypt.
Egypt, whose government receives $1.5 billion annually in military and economic aid from the United States, viewed efforts to promote political change with deep suspicion, even outrage.
Hosni Mubarak, then Egypt’s president, was “deeply skeptical of the U.S. role in democracy promotion,” said a diplomatic cable from the United States Embassy in Cairo dated Oct. 9, 2007.
At one time the United States financed political reform groups by channeling money through the Egyptian government.
But in 2005, under a Bush administration initiative, local groups were given direct grants, much to the chagrin of Egyptian officials.
According to a September 2006 cable, Mahmoud Nayel, an official with the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, complained to American Embassy officials about the United States government’s “arrogant tactics in promoting reform in Egypt.”
The main targets of the Egyptian complaints were the Republican and Democratic institutes. Diplomatic cables show that Egyptian officials complained that the United States was providing support for “illegal organizations.”
Gamal Mubarak, the former president’s son, is described in an Oct. 20, 2008, cable as “irritable about direct U.S. democracy and governance funding of Egyptian NGOs.”
The Egyptian government even appealed to groups like Freedom House to stop working with local political activists and human rights groups.
“They were constantly saying: ‘Why are you working with those groups, they are nothing. All they have are slogans,’ ” said Sherif Mansour, an Egyptian activist and a senior program officer for the Middle East and North Africa at Freedom House.
When their appeals to the United States government failed, the Egyptian authorities reacted by restricting the activities of the American nonprofit organizations.
Hotels that were to host training sessions were closed for renovations. Staff members of the groups were followed, and local activists were intimidated and jailed. State-owned newspapers accused activists of receiving money from American intelligence agencies.
Affiliating themselves with the American organizations may have tainted leaders within their own groups. According to one diplomatic cable, leaders of the April 6 Youth Movement in Egypt told the American Embassy in 2009 that some members of the group had accused Ahmed Maher, a leader of the January uprising, and other leaders of “treason” in a mock trial related to their association with Freedom House, which more militant members of the movement described as a “Zionist organization.”
A prominent blogger, according to a cable, threatened to post the information about the movement leaders’ links to Freedom House on his blog.
There is no evidence that this ever happened, and a later cable shows that the group ousted the members who were complaining about Mr. Maher and other leaders.
In the face of government opposition, some groups moved their training sessions to friendlier countries like Jordan or Morocco. They also sent activists to the United States for training.
Source: New York Times