Hosni Mubarak

The Pretender

Many characters made appearances during my efforts earlier this year to persuade the international community that the freedom fighters of Libya needed the world’s help.

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Throughout the Arab spring, analysts and policymakers have debated the proper role that the United States should be playing in the Middle East. A small number argued that the U.S. should adopt a more interventionist policy to address Arab grievances; others, that Arab grievances are themselves the result of our aggressive, interventionist policies; and still more that intervention was simply not in our national self-interest.

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The diplomatic documents had barely stopped drifting down from the Israeli Embassy in Egypt when New York Times columnist Nick Kristof referenced the root causes of the attack, as he saw them: “Attacking the Israeli embassy doesn’t help Gazans, doesn’t bring back the dead,” he tweeted.

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Cairo—On February 10, 2011, Field Marshal and then-Deputy Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Tantawi intercepted a decree that Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak sent to state television, in which he announced the replacement of the head of the Republican Guard, a Cairo-based army unit partially tasked with preventing against the possibility of a military coup. Tantawi had opposed the use of military force against the nearly 15 million protestors who had taken to the streets since January 25, and he had helped prevent the situation from escalating into a Tiananmen Square-style bloodbath.

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I’m in London, having arrived on Saturday evening. The Sunday morning papers had absolutely nothing about the enormous riot in Tottenham the night before. But the online press had plenty—except who exactly was doing the rioting. I got all my news all day from this—shall we say incomplete?—source. The front pages of the print press on Monday, however, had almost nothing else. (Except, de rigueur,the disastrous news of advanced capitalism in further collapse.) The headlines were a bit different Tuesday morning.

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Almost no one in America cares about foreign affairs, especially not for Barack Obama’s foreign affairs. For he has made of almost his entire conduct of peace and war an amateurish mess, crude, provincial, impetuous, peaceably high-minded but stupid—and full of peril to the world, to its democracies, to the United States itself.

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The trial of former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak is being hailed as a landmark moment in Arab, if not world, history. And, in a certain sense, it is. The image of the once indomitable dictator wheeled into a courtroom on a gurney, flanked by the sons who might have been his heirs, but are now his co-defendants, affirms the primary achievement of Egypt’s revolt: namely, Mubarak’s ouster. For many Egyptians, the January uprising was always about ending Mubarak’s stifling 30-year rule and preventing him from pharaonically installing his son Gamal as his successor.

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Cairo—In Liberation Square, the first day of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan proved decidedly unfestive when baton-wielding security forces tore down protesters’ tents and chased them from the area. The group of demonstrators had taken over the square on July 8, vexed with the slow pace of reforms by Egypt’s military leaders since the 18-day revolution that toppled President Hosni Mubarak in February.

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Sinking Fast

The U.S. ship in the successor flotilla aiming to break the Israeli embargo of the Gaza Strip has been named The Audacity of Hope. It is a bad joke that Barack Obama deserves. His proven coldness toward Israel has emboldened these foolish and meretricious people (including the uproariously silly Alice Walker) to open yet another front against the Jewish state. Of course, their campaign is not really about the embargo. It is about the very existence of Israel. It is not genocide, but it is politicide, and this is also a crime against humanity.

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Cairo—Friday, July 8 was an oppressively hot day in Tahrir Square, hot enough for protestors to wonder whether the country’s unpopular and widely distrusted transitional government was controlling the weather. Yet the government was notably missing from the scene: With activists guarding every entrance to the square, the country’s security services didn’t dare to enter the dusty, shade-free roundabout area where supporters of every major Egyptian political group had gathered in what was described as the largest protest in Cairo since President Hosni Mubarak’s resignation on February 11.

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