NB: This description contains material that was not in the original broadcast. This program and description are inextricably linked with discussion in succeeding programs.
Introduction: In the wake of the Tunisian uprising and attendant downfall of president Ben Ali, populist demonstrations and uprisings have manifested themselves in many Arab countries. This and future programs examine this phenomenon in conjunction with the actions of the WikiLeaks milieu and the ominous presence in Sweden of former Bush presidential adviser Karl Rove.
Triggered, in part, by WikiLeaks disclosures and supplemented by online attacks by the Anonymous milieu, those demonstrations and, in the case of Egypt, popular uprisings may well have been part of an operation involving residual elements of the George W. Bush administration within the State Department, intelligence community and political establishment.
As will be set forth in FTR #735 and subsequent programs, we may be seeing the Obama administration being used to realize the goals of the Bush administration/transnational corporate community, at the same time as the Democrats will be blamed for “losing the Middle East.”
Following what some analysts have termed “the WikiLeaks” revolution in Tunisia, analyst Robert Spencer noted the widespread approval of the Tunisian uprising by Jihadist/Muslim Brotherhood-linked elements throughout the Middle East. Hailing the Tunisian revolt as a “Jihad,” they see it as opening up the Middle Eastern political landscape to the ascension of fundamentalist elements.
Although reassuring comments about Egyptian civil society are abundant in the media, available evidence suggests that the Muslim Brotherhood will be assuming a large role in the upcoming Egyptian government. The Obama administration appears to be positioning itself in such a way as to work with a Brotherhood-inclusive government in that country.
Program Highlights Include: An Islamist suicide bomb attack in Sweden, conveniently timed to reinforce the political agenda of the Sweden Democrats; review of the financing of the Sweden Democrats by fascist financier Carl Lundstrom, who has also underwritten much of the Pirate Bay operations, themselves closely intertwined with WikiLeaks; review of the pro-Islamist sentiments of GOP bigwigs Karl Rove and Grover Norquist; review of the pro-Muslim Brotherhood sentiment in the trans-national corporate community.
1. The bulk of the State Department cables being accessed in the news media have come from Barack Obama’s State Department and have proved embarrassing to the Obama administration. It develops that Karl Rove is holding forth in Sweden, acting as an adviser to the Swedish Prime Minister. Media speculation has centered on the possibility that Rove may be aiding in Assange’s prosecution. Is Rove actually presiding over WikiLeaks’ operations in Sweden? Is the WikiLeaks’ leaking of State Department cables part of a Rove-directed covert operation?
. . . For at least 10 years, Rove has been connected to Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik. More recently, Fredrik, who is known as “the Ronald Reagan of Europe,” has contracted Rove to help with his 2010 re-election campaign.
Rove was said to have fled to Sweden during the prosecution of former Alabama Democratic Gov. Don Siegelman, who believes his prosecution to have been politically motivated.
“Clearly, it appears that [Rove], who claims to be of Swedish descent, feels a kinship to Sweden . . . and he has taken advantage of it several times,” the source added.
Shuler’s source speculated that Rove could be trying to protect the Bush legacy from documents that WikiLeaks may have. “The very guy who has released the documents that damage the Bushes the most is also the guy that the Bush’s number one operative can control by being the Swedish prime minister’s brain and intelligence and economic advisor.” . . .
2a. The subtitle comes from the recent Tunisian coup, that was inspired by WikiLeaks’ release of a cable that was critical of the regime of Ben Ali.
The man now president, Mohamed Ghannouchi was profiled in January 2006 in a secret US cable in 2006, recently released by Wikileaks. “A technocrat and economist, Ghannouchi has served as prime minister since 1999. Is rumored to have told many he wishes to leave the government but has not had the opportunity. Length of his service as PM also suggests Ben Ali [president until resignation] does not view him as a threat and he is unlikely to be viewed as a qualified successor. However, average Tunisians generally view him with respect and he is well-liked in comparison to other GOT and RCD [ruling party] officials.” Then US ambassador William Hudson said: “Given the fact Ben Ali has a dictatorial hold, it is hard to believe he’ll voluntarily step down.” Even so, “the mere fact an increasing number of Tunisians are talking about the end of the Ben Ali era is remarkable.”
Publication of WikiLeaks sourced private US comments on the corruption and nepotism of a hated “sclerotic” regime is said to have helped create Tunisia’s protest, and generated talk by US commentators of a “Wikileaks revolution”.
2b. It turns out that the Anonymous milieu (described in FTR #732) launched attacks against Tunisian government sites.
Sites belonging to the Ministry of Industry and the Tunisian Stock Exchange were amongst seven targeted by the Anonymous group since Monday.
Other sites have been defaced for what the group calls “an outrageous level of censorship” in the country. . . .
3a. Initial reports on the coup described a possible role played by foreigners with blond hair and blue eyes, some carrying Swedish and some carrying German passports.
. . . Police said they had caught two men with Swedish passports after one of the shooting incidents, and state television quoted a security source as saying four people carrying German passports had been detained in the same incident.
However, the Swedish news agency TT said the men were part of a Swedish group visiting Tunisia to hunt wild boar who had been attacked by a mob. . . .
3b. Interestingly–and perhaps significantly–an earlier, [now] cached version of the story had a significant detail, which was scrubbed from later versions of the story. In this context, it is important to remember that there are ongoing operational links between Swedish and German neo-Nazis. In FTR #735, we examine the possibility that the coup will ultimately benefit the Muslim Brotherhood.
Police said they had caught two men with Swedish passports after one of the shooting incidents, and state television quoted a security source as saying four people carrying German passports had been detained in the same incident.
It showed what it said were the detained foreigners, with blond hair and fair complexions, being guarded by armed police, and said the arms they were carrying included automatic weapons. [Italics are mine–D.E.]
However, the Swedish news agency TT said the men were part of a Swedish group visiting Tunisia to hunt wild boar who had been attacked by a mob. . . .
4a. Conservative analyst Robert Spencer noted that the upsurge in democratic sentiment following the Tunisian uprising might lead to the empowerment of the Muslim Brotherhood.
When Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali was toppled from power and fled to Saudi Arabia on Friday, The Washington Post’s Jennifer Rubin hailed this “Jasmine Revolution” as a “remarkable event: a popular, secular revolt in a Muslim country” that “poses an opportunity and a risk for the U.S.” Mona Eltahawy, also writing in the Post, explained that “a 29-day popular uprising against unemployment, police brutality and the regime’s corruption” brought down Ben Ali. But there are numerous indications that there were other sources of dissatisfaction in Tunisia with Ben Ali — including the relatively secular character of the government. Pro-Sharia Islamic supremacist forces are poised to take advantage.
The popular perception is that Ben Ali was brought down by the will of the people. The French government declared that Tunisians, by toppling Ben Ali, had “expressed their democratic will.” German Chancellor Angela Merkel expressed her support for “real democracy” in the North African nation, adding in a message to officials of the new Tunisian government: “I appeal to you to use this deep break in Tunisia’s history as a new departure.”
A factory worker in Carthage had similar high hopes: “This is like the French Revolution,” he said enthusiastically. “It’s the end of an era. I’m hoping there is real change. We can’t continue like this.” Political analyst Ahmed Lashin declared: “The Arabs have been repressed for too long. They are eager for change and are on the verge of explosion.”
But what kind of change? What kind of Reign of Terror might come in the wake of this new French Revolution? Rached Ghannouchi, the London-based leader of the banned Tunisian pro-Sharia party, the Tunisian Renaissance Party (Hizb al-Nahdah), was quick to dub the Tunisian uprising an “intifada” and to claim it as a victory for Islam. “The Tunisian intifada,” he exulted, “has succeeded in collapsing the dictatorship.”
Pro-Sharia MPs in Kuwait applauded “the courage of the Tunisian people,” and Abdelmalek Deroukdal, a leader of al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, hailed the revolution as a jihad and expressed solidarity with the Tunisians. In Gaza, the jihadist groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad were both thrilled at events in Tunisia. Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri hailed the victory for democracy, and Gaza Foreign Minister Fathi Hammad emphasized that “we are with the Tunisians in choosing their leaders, no matter what sacrifices it takes.”
Islamic Jihad praised the Tunisian people for liberating themselves “through blood, sacrifices and the expression of free will,” adding ominously that the toppling of Ben Ali was “a message to Arab and Islamic countries to pay attention to the aspirations of their people that are rejecting hegemony and tyranny before it is too late.”
Islamic Jihad held a rally in Gaza City, featuring hundreds of jihadists waving Tunisian flags festooned with the words “Revenge against tyranny.” Islamic Jihad spokesman Dawud Shehab sounded a drearily familiar note in accusing the Ben Ali regime of maintaining “suspicious ties” with Israel.
Meanwhile, a PLO faction warned Tunisians about “waves of political Islam” that could follow Ben Ali’s toppling, and urged them to “cut the road to political Islam and its misleading slogans to avoid a repeat of the Gaza Strip experience in Tunisia” — referring to the seizure of power in Gaza by the Islamic supremacists of Hamas.
The great unacknowledged truth about Tunisia and the rest of the Islamic world is that Islamic jihadists and pro-Sharia forces, far from being the “tiny minority of extremists” of media myth, actually enjoy broad popular support. Any genuine democratic uprising is likely to install them in power. That’s why jihadists are hailing events in Tunisia, and why all lovers of freedom should view those events with extreme reserve — for a Sharia government in Tunisia is unlikely to be any kind of friend to the United States, and if the “Jasmine Revolution” does indeed spread and other Arab and Muslim dictators are toppled, an already hostile anti-American environment could become much, much worse.
The events in Tunisia also show yet again the crying need for realistic analysis in Washington of the jihad threat, rather than the fantasy-based analysis that prevails there now. But that is even less likely than the flowering of a pluralistic, secular democracy in Tunisia.
4b. The Tunisian Islamist leader has returned from exile in the wake of the WikiLeaks/Jasmine Revolution.
The leader of a banned Tunisian Islamist movement said on Saturday he would return in the next few days from exile in London after Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali, who ran the country for 23 years, was forced out.
Tunisian authorities outlawed the Ennahda, or Renaissance, movement in the early 1990s after accusing it of a violent plot to overthrow secular rule. But the movement said it is non-violent and the victim of government repression.
“I am going to go back very soon,” Rached Ghannouchi told Reuters in an telephone interview. “I haven’t decided when yet, but possibly in the days to come.” . . .
. . . Tunisia has had a strong secular tradition since its independence from France in 1956 and Islamist politicians have a much lower profile than in nearby countries such as Algeria or Egypt.
There is some backing for moderate Islamist groups in Tunisia, but it is not clear how much because supporters hid their sympathies to avoid arrest. . . .
4c. Despite reassuring statements concerning Tunisia’s secular tradition, many observers feel that the Islamists will assume power there, eventually.
There was also a looming wild card: the revival of the banned Islamist party. The government said that for now it would continue to block the return of the party’s exiled founder, while he repeated that his party espouses a moderate pluralism.
Many Tunisians said they were waiting — some hopefully, some anxiously — to see what kind of rebirth the once-flourishing but long-outlawed Islamist political party might have. In a radio interview, Prime Minister Ghannouchi said that the exiled leader, Rached Ghannouchi — no relation — would be banned from the country until the government passed an amnesty law lifting a conviction he was given in absentia under the Ben Ali government.
The exiled leader, meanwhile, made clear that his party envisioned a society far more liberal and open than Iran or Saudi Arabia. In an interview with The Financial Times, Rached Ghannouchi said his party had signed a shared statement of principles with the other Tunisian opposition groups that included freedom of expression, freedom of association and women’s rights.
It remained unclear how much support he commands in the country. Some argued that Tunisian society today was too resolutely secular for the Islamists to find much support, after two decades of efforts by Mr. Ben Ali’s vast secret police to eliminate the party and cripple it.
“They have people who are 50 years old or 60 years old, but they don’t have anybody under 40 because of the repression,” said Ahmed Bouazzi, an executive committee member of the largest opposition group, the Progressive Democratic Party.
Others, however, argued that the religious convictions of Tunisians would assure the Islamic parties a strong base of support, especially away from the more cosmopolitan coasts. “Look, they will be easily the most popular party,” said one analyst who opposes the Islamists, speaking on the condition of anonymity to avoid angering family and friends. “No one can say anything against anything that is Islamic.” . . .
5a. A WikiLeaks leak indicated that elements of the State Department under George W. Bush were taking note of sentiment for removing Mubarak. This may have actually led to a slow-motion destabilization of Mubarak’s regime.
For the last three years, the US government secretly provided aid to the leaders behind this week’s social uprising in Egypt aimed to topple the government of President Hosni Mubarak, according to a leaked diplomatic cable.
One of the young Egyptian leaders who attended a summit for activists in New York with the help of the US embassy in Cairo was detained when he returned to Egypt, the memo released by Wikileaks said.
The Daily Telegraph reported Friday that it and the secrets outlet were both hiding the identity of this young Egyptian leader. He was arrested in connection with this week’s demonstrations.
The leaked document indicates that the US government was publicly supporting Mubarak’s government while privately backing opposition groups. . . .
5b. More detail on the U.S. backing of the protesters, from the Telegraph article cited in the above story:
The American Embassy in Cairo helped a young dissident attend a US-sponsored summit for activists in New York, while working to keep his identity secret from Egyptian state police.
On his return to Cairo in December 2008, the activist told US diplomats that an alliance of opposition groups had drawn up a plan to overthrow President Hosni Mubarak and install a democratic government in 2011.
The secret document in full
He has already been arrested by Egyptian security in connection with the demonstrations and his identity is being protected by The Daily Telegraph.
The crisis in Egypt follows the toppling of Tunisian president Zine al-Abedine Ben Ali, who fled the country after widespread protests forced him from office. . . .
5c. The Anonymous group has also undertaken to attack Egyptian government sites.
The group Anonymous, known for staging web attacks on PayPal and MasterCard in support of Wikileaks, has called for volunteers to stage a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack against web sites run by the Egyptian government.
The group’s Facebook page, called “Operation Egypt” carries messages about the Egyptian protests, and also a picture of a recruiting poster with an IRC channel as well as a “care package” to download. The rest of the page has news and updates from Egyptian and foreign sources. . . .
5d. The Muslim Brotherhood has indeed been positioning itself to participate in the political process.
. . . ElBaradei, the former head of the U.N. nuclear watchdog agency, has gained a following among young secular democracy activists with his grassroots organizing. But some demonstrators dismiss him as an expatriate long removed from Egypt’s problems.
“Many people feel he loves prizes and traveling abroad,” said Muhammad Munir, 27. “He’s not really one of the people.”
The outlawed Muslim Brotherhood, which wants to establish an Islamist state in Egypt, has made some statements that it was willing to let ElBaradei act as point man for the movement. But it also appeared to be moving for a more prominent role after lying low when the protests first erupted.
On Sunday evening, the presence of overtly pious Muslims in the square was conspicuous, suggesting a significant Brotherhood representation. Hundreds performed the sunset prayers. Veiled women prayed separately.
A senior Brotherhood leader, Essam el-Erian, told The Associated Press he was heading to Tahrir Square to meet with other opposition leaders. El-Erian told an Egyptian TV station that the Brotherhood is ready to contact the army for a dialogue, calling the military “the protector of the nation.“
Clinton suggested there were U.S. concerns over the possibility of the Brotherhood seizing direction of the movement. She warned against a takeover resembling the one in Iran, with a “small group that doesn’t represent the full diversity of Egyptian society” seizing control and imposing its ideological beliefs. . . .
. . . Egyptian security officials said armed men fired at guards in overnight battles that lasted hours at the four prisons — including one northwest of Cairo that held hundreds of militants. The prisoners escaped after starting fires and clashing with guards.
Those who fled included 34 members of the Muslim Brotherhood, whose lawyer, Abdel-Monaem Abdel-Maqsoud, told the AP they were among scores rounded up by authorities ahead of Friday’s large demonstrations. The escapees included at least seven senior members of the group.
State TV later reported that 2,000 escaped inmates were recaptured. . . .
5e. The Brotherhood called for the dissolution of the Egyptian parliament.
Egypt’s largest opposition movement demanded Wednesday that President Hosni Mubark dissolve the newly elected parliament and hold new elections, in a move that appeared to be an attempt to capitalize on the hopes for change sparked by Tunisia’s popular uprising.
The Muslim Brotherhood also called for an end to Egypt’s 30-year-old emergency law that bans political rallies, and demanded sweeping constitutional amendments to allow free and fair presidential elections.
The Brotherhood’s list of grievances is not new, but the demands appeared to be aimed at seizing on the momentum triggered by the revolt in Tunisia that toppled the country’s authoritarian president and galvanized opposition movements throughout the Arab world.
“The events in Tunisia are a cornerstone for the rest of the people of the Arab and Islamic world,” the Brotherhood said in a statement posted on its website. “It is a message to all the despotic leaders and the corrupt regimes that they are not safe and they are living on the tip of a volcano of people’s anger and God’s wrath.” . . .
5f. The Obama administration’s State Department is positioning the U.S. to cooperate with the Brotherhood.
As it braces for the likelihood of a new ruler in Egypt, the U.S. government is rapidly reassessing its tenuous relationship with the Muslim Brotherhood, an opposition movement whose fundamentalist ideology has long been a source of distrust in Washington.
Although the group has played a secondary role in the swelling protests that are threatening to topple President Hosni Mubarak, U.S. officials have acknowledged the political reality that the Muslim Brotherhood is poised to assume at least a share of power should Egypt hold free and fair elections in the coming months.
On Monday, in what analysts said was a clear reference to the Brotherhood, the White House said a new government in Egypt should “include a whole host of important non-secular actors.”
The move drew the skepticism of some U.S. officials who have argued that the White House should embrace opposition groups that are more likely to support a democratic government in Egypt, rather than one dedicated to the establishment of religious law.
It also marked a change from previous days, when Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and other officials expressed concern that the uprising in Egypt could shift power to an Islamist government much like the one in Iran, where ayatollah-led factions elbowed aside other groups to seize control of the country in 1979.
Officially, the U.S. government has long shunned the Muslim Brotherhood because of doubts about its stated commitment to non-violence and democratic principles. For years, however, U.S. officials have engaged in back-channel talks with Egyptian members of the movement in recognition of its substantial popular support.
The unofficial contacts have taken place sporadically since the 1990s but became more frequent after members of the Brotherhood were elected to the Egyptian Parliament in 2005. Afterward, U.S. diplomats and lawmakers held several meetings with Brotherhood leaders, including at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo. . . .
6. In a slight digression from the topic of WikiLeaks and Karl Rove, the discussion highlights the fact that Sweden’s Sweden Democrats (the Swedish equivalent of the British fascist group the BNP benefitted from an Islamist terror attack in this precise time period.
The bombs had barely exploded in Stockholm’s bustling shopping district before members of the far-right, Islam-bashing Sweden Democrats rushed to their blogs and Twitter feeds. “Told you so,” said one. “Finally” tweeted another.
The government and just about every editorial page has warned against blaming Sweden’s growing Muslim minority for the Dec. 11 suicide attack carried out by an Iraqi-born Swede, who appears to have been radicalized in Britain.
But the far-right fringe is doing just that in another challenge to Sweden’s famed tolerance, already frayed in recent months by the Sweden Democrats’ entry into Parliament and a serial gunman’s sniper attacks against people with dark skin.
Authorities say there’s a risk that even more extreme groups, long marginalized in Sweden, will use the opportunity to advance their positions.
“The biggest worry isn’t that the Muslim community will become radicalized but what this means for the view of Muslims in Sweden,” said Erik Akerlund, police chief in Rinkeby, an immigrant suburb of Stockholm nicknamed “Little Mogadishu” because of its large Somali community.
While investigating the attack, the Swedish security service is also keeping an eye on any potential reaction from right-wing extremists, said Anders Thornberg, the agency’s director of operations. Those groups have kept a low profile since a series of attacks on immigrants and left-wing activists in the 1980s and ‘90s.
The suicide bomber, Taimour Abdulwahab, killed himself and injured two people when some of the explosives he was wearing exploded among panicked Christmas shoppers in downtown Stockholm. . . .