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FTR #734 A Night in Tunisia, Pt. II: Are Karl Rove and WikiLeaks Working with the Muslim Brotherhood?

MP3 Side 1 [1] | Side 2 [2]

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. [3]

Trig­gered, in part, by Wik­iLeaks dis­clo­sures [4] and sup­ple­ment­ed by online attacks by the Anony­mous milieu [5], those demon­stra­tions and, in the case of Egypt, pop­u­lar upris­ings may well have been part of an oper­a­tion [6] involv­ing resid­ual ele­ments of the George W. Bush admin­is­tra­tion with­in the State Depart­ment [7], 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 [8] 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 [9] 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 [10] gov­ern­ment in that coun­try.

In Tunisia, the Islamist leader has returned [11] to the coun­try, with opin­ion divid­ed [12] about whether his par­ty can assume a theo­crat­ic pre­em­i­nence over the rest of Tunisian civ­il soci­ety.

Pro­gram High­lights Include: An Islamist sui­cide bomb attack [13] 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 [14] of GOP big­wigs Karl Rove and Grover Norquist; review of the pro-Mus­lim Broth­er­hood sen­ti­ment [15] 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.” . . .

“Rove’s Hand Seen in Julian Assange’s Pros­e­cu­tion, Sources Allege” by David Edwards; The Raw Sto­ry; 12/20/2010. [3]

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”.

“Tunisia: The Wik­iLeaks Con­nec­tion” by Ian Black; The Guardian; 1/15/2011. [4]

2b. It turns out that the Anony­mous milieu (described in FTR #732 [16]) 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. . . .

“Anony­mous Activists Tar­get Tunisian Gov­ern­ment Sites”; BBC News; 1/4/2011. [5]

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. . . .

“Tunisia Forces Fight Pres­i­den­tial Guards” by Tarek Ama­ra and Chris­t­ian Lowe; yahoo.com; 1/16/2011. [17]

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 [18]. 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. . . .

“Tunisia Forces Fight Pres­i­den­tial Guards” by Tarek Ama­ra and Chris­t­ian Lowe; yahoo.com; 1/16/2011. [19]

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.

“A Jihad in Tunisia” by Robert Spencer; Human Events; 1/18/2011. [8]

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. . . .

“Tunisia Islamist Leader to Return from Exile” [Reuters]; msnbc.com; 1/16/2011. [11]

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.” . . .

“More Offi­cials Quit in Tunisia Amid Protests” by David D. Kirk­patrick and Kareem Fahim; The New York Times; 1/19/2011. [12]

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. . . .

“US Secret­ly Backed Egypt­ian Protest Lead­ers” by Nathan Diebenow; The Raw Sto­ry; 1/28/2011. [6]

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.  . . .

“Egypt Protests: Amer­i­ca’s Secret Back­ing for Rebel Lead­ers Behind Upris­ing” By Tim Ross, Matthew Moore and Steven Swin­ford; Dai­ly Tele­graph; 1/28/2011. [7]

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. . . .

“Anony­mous Asks for DDOS Attacks on Key Egypt­ian Sites” by Jesse Emspak; Inter­na­tion­al Busi­ness Times; 1/26/2011. [20]

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. . . .

“Egypt­ian Reform Leader Calls on Mubarak to Resign” by Hamza Hen­dawi and Mag­gie Michael [AP]; Seat­tle Times; 1/30/2011. [9]

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.” . . .

“Egyp­t’s Mus­lim Broth­er­hood: Dis­solve Par­lia­ment” [AP]; The Jerusalem Post; 1/19/2011. [21]

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. . . .

“U.S. Reex­am­in­ing Its Rela­tion­ship with Mus­lim Broth­er­hood Oppo­si­tion Group” by Craig Whit­lock; The Wash­ing­ton Post; 2/3/2011. [10]

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. . . .

“Sui­cide Bomb­ing Stirs Swe­den’s Far-Right” by Karl Rit­ter [AP]; The Huff­in­g­ton Post; 12/16/2010. [13]