Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Revolt in Egypt undermines Israel's seige of Gaza

by Grant Morgan
Co-organiser of Kia Ora Gaza
26 January 2011

Yesterday, hundreds of thousands of Egyptian demonstrators took to the streets in many cities across their land. In vast numbers they faced down legions of riot police and, in some places, forced the cops into retreat.

Their calls were simple: Down with president Hosni Mubarak, Egypt’s strongman for 30 years. Bring an end to his reign of torture, poverty, corruption and unemployment.

No protests on this scale have been seen in Egypt for three decades. Now the inspiration of Tunisia’s popular uprising is intersecting with the frustrated anger that has long been simmering among the grassroots.

One Cairo-based reporter, Kristen Chick of the Christian Science Monitor, likened this historic mass outpouring to a dam breaking. The word “revolution” is suddenly on the lips of people who were previously too frightened to speak out.

Of course, Egypt is not Tunisia. Mubarak is powerfully entrenched. He has a wider base of social support and a larger apparatus of social repression than the tinpot dictator in Tunis. The strongman of Cairo will be much harder to depose than Ben Ali.

Even so, the tide of history is starting to run against the Middle East’s dictators, most of them aligned to the West. The popular yearning for decent and democratic societies is beginning to roll back decades of authoritarian rule.

Egypt, easily the most powerful Arab country, has long been the lynchpin ally of Israel and America in the Middle East. For instance, Israel’s siege of Gaza could not last a single day in the absence of Mubarak’s collaboration with Tel Aviv.

So the rising tide of popular revolt in Egypt has the potential for massive ripple effects throughout the region, and indeed the world, given the critical importance of Middle East oil.

Nobody can predict what might happen in Egypt during the days, weeks and months ahead. Yet one thing is sure: for however long Mubarak clings to power, his regime will lack the strength to be a certain and steady ally of the Zionist state and its backers in Washington.

Given these conditions, this year’s international aid convoys to Gaza may well have profound implications on the popular mood inside Egypt and across the Arab world. Positive outcomes which yesterday seemed unlikely may well become possible in the near future.

Kia Ora Gaza, which raised over $100,000 to send a six-person Kiwi Team on the biggest aid convoy to successfully enter Gaza in 2010, has begun fundraising for another convoy contribution this year.

Your donations to Kia Ora Gaza are a concrete way to help both Egyptians and Gazans who have long been oppressed by the partnership regimes in Tel Aviv and Cairo.

Here’s how you can donate:

* Make a direct payment to our bank account: Kia Ora Gaza, 03-0211-0447718-000, Westpac Bank, Onehunga branch. Afterwards, email with your deposit details so our Board of Trustees can send you an e-receipt.

* Or write a cheque for ‘Kia Ora Gaza’ and post to: Kia Ora Gaza, PO Box 59-007, Auckland.

And finally, to view The Guardian’s excellent photo gallery of yesterday’s protests across Egypt, click here.


Pat said...

The courageous revolt by the people of Tunis against their Western backed dictator have electrified the Arab world in a way not seen in a generation.

It is against this background of mass protest and heightened calls for democracy and liberalisation and civil rights in Egypt, that the next International Blockade Busting Aid Mission to Gaza will be carried out.

In this new atmosphere, is it possible that the siege of Gaza can be broken by the International Convoy Movement in away not achieved previously?

Building materials are specifically prohibited from entering Gaza by the Israelis. And as yet no International Aid Convoy has been able to deliver this form of desperately needed aid. (and definitely not in the volumes required to really make a difference).

As a Viva Palestina volunteer I was privileged to enter Gaza and witness with my own eyes, the city's desperate need for the banned building materials.

With the new developments in Egypt could it be possible for the International Convoy Movement to spearhead a wider movement to get such banned industrial cargoes into the city in quantities not envisaged before?

The Water drilling equipment and pumps needed to replace the bombed agricultural bores, Concrete Trucks and Cranes, Reinforcing Steel and Sewer and Water pipe, and the industrial amounts of Cement and building materials needed to repair urban and rural infrastructure and the big trucks needed to haul it all, across the Sinai desert to Rafah and through the crossing.

In the new atmosphere is it possible that all this could be done?

Already the the International Convoy Movement has proven to the world that the siege can be broken.
The astounding Tunnel Movement also openly defies the siege. The combined power of the Israeli and Egyptian authorities have been powerless to stop the tunnel movement or the convoys, though both the convoys and tunnels have been violently attacked, like the Tunisian protesters it has not stopped us, as a result the siege is becoming an unenforceable farce.

We need to appeal to civil agencies, businessmen and contractors, building and construction firms, in Egypt and the wider world, to invite them to take advantage of the growing breach in the siege of Gaza, inviting them to enter with us under our international umbrella in the next convoy. And under the umbrella of our provenly successful International Convoy Movement deliver industrial construction materials and equipment in meaningful quantities, as we again break through the illegal siege of Gaza.

In appealing to civil society, we need to be honest and explain to the heads of businesses and other civil organisations that despite our proven history of success in breaking the siege, there are still risks, and losses are still possible, but
eventually the siege will be broken permanently, and those business people and civil organisations who dared to be the first to enter Gaza under the umbrella of the International Aid Movement will be the best well placed to take advantage of the re-construction building boom that has been artificially frozen in time by the illegal blockade.

It is well past time to reinvigorate this beautiful city and turn it back to its rightful historic place as a wealthy centre of Mediterranean trade and commerce and tourism.

This, is in my opinion a realisable and necessary first step to a the natural and free movement of goods and people.

For such a mission to succeed The International Convoy Movement will need to do an outreach for institutional
support, from mosques and churches, unions and other civil organisations as well as business.

Could such an outreach to wider civil society be organised before the next International Convoy?

Does the International Convoy Movement have the necessary links to civil society to take this next step?

Pat said...

Tunnels vs. Tunnels?

Are the Palestinians being being sacrificed in a power play by the Egyptian Military?

On Sunday it was reported that the Egyptian military was crossing tanks into the Sinai under the Suez canal in special military tunnels, which were originally built by Egypt to move military forces to the north to defend themselves from an Israeli incursion.

There were also preliminary reports of shortages of fuel in Gaza, most of which is smuggled in through the tunnels. Though the cause of the shortages was not at the time reported.

Since then, events have shown that it was not the possibility of an the Israeli incursion that the Egyptian army was mobilising against.

Instead, in co-operation with the Israeli military, it has been reported that the Egyptian army has launched a pre-emptive surprise attack on the Bedouin communities close to the Gaza border, killing 12.

With all the upheaval in Egypt, what has prompted the Egyptian military leaders to order this attack, at this time?

As has been known for a long time, the nomadic Bedouin tribes people of the Sinai desert have been in charge of the Egyptian side of the tunnels built to defy the Israeli illegal siege of Gaza.

This is not news.

So why has the Egyptian army decided to attack them now?

Are the Egyptian military leaders trying to seek approval from the US and Israel for a military junta to take power in Egypt in defiance of the people's wishes for greater democracy?

The military tunnels under the Suez and the tunnels under the Northern border were both dug to defy Zionist invasion and occupation. If the Egyptian army is using one set of tunnels against the other, it is a perversion of the original purpose they were dug.