February 12, 2011

Criminal Mubarak Stole Billion$$ with USA Giving the Dictator $28 Billion in Aid Over 30 Years

The details of the deposed Criminal Dictator Mubarak’s fortune are a bit muddy, but according to various press reports, the family’s total wealth runs well into the tens of billions of dollars.

In Asia Times Online, Pepe Escobar reports:

According to a mix of United States, Syrian and Algerian sources his personal fortune amounts to no less than US $40 billion – stolen from the public treasury in the form of “commissions”, on weapons sales, for instance. The Pharaoh controls loads of real estate, especially in the US; accounts in US, German, British and Swiss banks; and has "links" with corporations such as MacDonald’s, Vodafone, Hyundai and Hermes. Suzanne, the British-Irish Pharaoh’s wife, is worth at least $5 billion. And son Gamal – the one that may have fled to London, now stripped of his role as dynastic heir – also boasts a personal fortune of $17 billion. Or some $60 billion. Some speculate the fortune is around $70 billion.’

Should Mubarak skip the country, as Corey Pein points out in War Is Business, he might well do it in a business jet provided free of charge by the US taxpayers. “Pentagon contracts show that the US government has spent at least $111,160,328 to purchase and maintain Mubarak’s fleet of nine Gulfstream business jets. (For those keeping score, Gulfstream is a subsidiary of General Dynamics.)” War Is Busines provides copies of the actual contracts. Here is one of them:

Gulfstream Aerospace Corp., Savannah, Ga., is being awarded a $19,825,221 firm fixed price contract modification to provide for the Foreign Military Sales Program in support of FMS Case Egyptian. The Air Force provides follow-on maintenance support for the Egyptian Government’s Presidential fleet of Gulfstream aircraft. The program will provide depot maintenance support, parts and material repair, and supply, field team, and Aircraft on Ground or urgent situation support. At this time, $14,825,221 of the funds has been obligated. Further funds will be obligated as individual delivery orders are issued. This work will be complete by November 2005. Solicitation began October 2003 and Negotiations were completed October 2003. The Headquarters Oklahoma City Air Logistics Center, Tinker Air Force Base, Okla., is the contracting activity (FA8106-04-C-0001).

It’s tit for tat with Egypt. Pein again:

When the two military leaders met in May 2009 to discuss “a wide range of security issues,” Egyptian Defence Minister Hussein Tantawi presented US Defense Secretary Robert Gates with a set of gifts. They included a shotgun (with five bullets), a decorative rug and a gilded photo album.With a confidence that, in retrospect, seems dubious, Gates said “he looks forward to expanding the two countries’ military-to-military relationships in ways that promote regional stability.’Five months after that meeting, the Pentagon announced it would sell a new batch of two dozen F-16 fighter aircraft to Egypt—a $3.2 billion deal that is among the most recent of a long string of arms deliveries from America to its North African ally. These F-16s, according to the Pentagon announcement (pdf) would support “Egypt’s legitimate need for its own self-defense.”

In her blog, Sibel Edmonds, the former FBI translator who exposed corruption and incompetence at the Bureau, writes:

This is where our government takes our dollars, gives it to dictator allies, and then asks them to turn around, give that money (minus the personal share for personal wealth) to our military industrial complex corporations. Then, we have those CEO’s with $$$$$$$ salaries, and $$$$$$$ to the lobbyists and $$$$$$ to our elected representatives, who then in turn, sanction giving more money, aid, tax payers’ dollars, to these dictators; and the cycle repeats, repeats, repeats…well, it’s been repeating nonstop for more than half a century.

James Ridgeway is a senior correspondent at Mother Jones. For more of his stories, click here. Get James Ridgeway's RSS feed.

February 10, 2011

Egyptian Dictator Refuses to Step Down, Will Stay Until September

Hosni Mubarak, the Egyptian Dictator, has refused to step down from his post, saying that he will not bow to "foreign pressure" in a televised address to the nation.

Mubarak announced that he had put into place a framework that would lead to the amendment of six constitutional articles in the address late on Thursday night.

"I can not and will not accept to be dictated orders from outside, no matter what the source is," the Dictator Mubarak said.

He said he was addressing his people with a "speech from the heart"

Earlier, the Supreme Council of Egyptian Armed Forces had met to discuss the ongoing protests against Dictator Mubarak's government.

In a statement entitled 'Communique Number One', televised on state television, the army said it had convened the meeting response to the current political turmoil, and that it would continue to convene such meetings.

Thurday's meeting was chaired by Mohamed Tantawi, the defence minister, rather than Mubarak, who, as Dictator, would normally have headed the meeting.

"Based on the responsibility of the armed forces and its commitment to protect the people and its keenness to protect the nation... and in support of the legitimate demands of the people [the army] will continue meeting on a continuous basis to examine measures to be taken to protect the nation and its gains and the ambitions of the great Egyptian people," the statement.

Tens of thousands poured into Tahrir Square after the army statement was televised. Thousands also gathered in Alexandria, Egypt's second city, our correspondent said.

Earlier, Hassan al-Roweni, an Egyptian army commander, told protesters in the square that "everything you want will be realized".

Hassam Badrawi, the secretary general of the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP), told the BBC and Channel 4 News earlier on that he expected Dictator Mubarak to hand over his powers to Omar Suleiman, the vice-Dictator.

"I think the right thing to do now is to take the action that would satisfy ... protesters," Badrawi told BBC television in a live interview.

Ahmed Shafiq, the country's prime minister, also told the BBC that the president may step down on Thursday evening, and that the situation would be "clarified soon". He told the Reuters news agency, however, that Mubarak remained in control, and that "everything is still in the hands of the president".

However, Anas el-Fekky, Egypt's information minister, denied all reports of Mubarak resigning.

"The president is still in power and he is not stepping down," el-Fekky told Reuters. "The president is not stepping down and everything you heard in the media is a rumour."

Mubarak met with Omar Suleiman, the vice-Dictator, at the presidential palace ahead of his address.

'Witnessing history unfold'

Mahmoud Zaher, a retired general in the Egyptian army, said that Mubarak's absence from the army meeting was a "clear and strong indication that [Mubarak] is no longer present", implying that the Egyptian Dictator was not playing a role in governance any longer.

In short comments ahead of a scheduled speech at Northern Michigan University, Barack Obama, the US president, said the US was watching the situation in Egypt "very closely". Mubarak had not spoken at that time.

"What is absolutely clear is that we are witnessing history unfold," he said, adding that this was a "moment of transformation" for Egypt.

"Going forward, we want ... all Egyptians to know that America will continue to do everything that we can to support an orderly and genuine transition to democracy."

Binyamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, responded to reports that Mubarak may resign by saying that he hoped whoever replaced him would uphold Egypt's peace treaty with Israel, according to an Israeli radio report.

Catherine Ashton, the European Union's foriegn affairs chief, said that the 27-nation bloc is ready to help Egypt build a "deep democracy".

"I reiterated that no matter what happens in the next hours and days, the European Union stands ready to hep build the deep democracy that will underpin stability for the people of Egypt," she said in a statement, referring to a conversation she had with Aboul Gheit, the Egyptian foreign minister, earlier in the day.

Wael Ghonim, the Google executive who has played a key role in helping protesters get organised, said on Thursday evening: "Mission accomplished. Thanks to all the brave young Egyptians."

Jacky Rowland, our correspondent in Tahrir Square, described the atmosphere as "electric", with "standing room only" in the central Cairo area. She said that thousands gathered there were "celebrating a victory which has been anticipated, rather than actually achieved".

In Alexandria, Jamal ElShayyal, our correspondent, described the atmosphere as "festive and joyous".

Labour union strikes

The developments came as the 17th day of pro-democracy protests continued across the country on Thursday, with labour unions joining pro-democracy protesters.

Egyptian labour unions held nationwide strikes for a second day, adding momentum to the pro-democracy demonstrations in Cairo and other cities.

Al Jazeera correspondents in Cairo reported that thousands of doctors, medical students and lawyers, the doctors dressed in white coats and the lawyers in black robes, marched in central Cairo earlier on Thursday and were hailed by pro-democracy protesters as they entered Tahrir [Liberation] Square.

The artists syndicate and public transport workers, including bus drivers, also joined the strikes, our correspondents reported.

"It's certainly increasing the pressure on the government here," Al Jazeera's Steffanie Dekker, reporting from Cairo, said.

"I think it's worth making the distinction that the strikes going on are more of an economic nature, they are not necessarily jumping on the bandwagon of the protesters in Tahrir Square.

"Many of them are not actually calling for the president to step down, but fighting for better wages, for better working conditions."

Pro-democracy supporters across the country have meanwhile called for a ten-million strong demonstration to take place after this week's Friday prayers.

Hoda Hamid, Al Jazeera's correspondent in Cairo, said that the mood in Liberation Square was "one of defiance, and if we judge by what is happening today, then I think ... many more people will heed that call and turn up".

She reported that some protesters had drawn up a list of demands beyond simply the exit of Mubarak. They included the formation of a transition government, which would include a council of presidents, representation from the army and well-respected judges, for the period of one year.

They demanded that parliament be dissolved and that a temporary constitution be put in place while a new one was drawn up by legal experts.

Cairo reported that at least five government buildings, including the governor's office and the office for public housing, were set alight in two straight days of riots in the northeastern town of Port Said. The situation in the city had calmed by Thursday evening.