Wise Men are Billionaires?

The ever-perceptive A’sad Abukhalil dispels any doubts about the so-called ‘wise-man committee’ selected supposedly by the ‘youth’ in Tahrir Square, Cairo:

So a self-appointed committee, called the “Wise Men Committee” has been issuing opinions and commands and is trying to mediate between the people of Egypt and the regime of Mubarak. Their first idea was to donate Egypt to the head of Mubarak’s secret police, `Umar Sulayman. The Egyptian billionaire, Najib Sawiris, is a member of the committee and that troubles me greatly. What would have Marx thought about an initiative of a billionaire at a time of revolutionary change. Sawiris, of course, has been close to Jamal Mubarak and is an opportunist who shifts and flip flops, even on Palestine. I trust him like George Habash trusted Yasir `Arafat. `Amr Musa is another well-known opportunist: a servant of Mubarak has just saw the light because Sha`ban `Abd-Ar-Rahim likes him. But the protesters are impressive: when one member of the Committee (Abu Al-Majd) tried to talk today in Tahrir Square, he was shouted down and interrupted and sent home.

The ‘youth manifesto’ is here (for the English version in .pdf format, go here)

At Al Quds newspaper in the UK, there’s a story which I’ve google-translated and which indicates that the wise-men committee was submitted by Cairo, whilst the Youth manifesto says the youth did the selection. One has to wonder, therefore, who in fact prepared the Youth manifesto.

‘Cairo presented a so-called Committee of Wise Men in Egypt, a set of proposals for the youth of the demonstrators to be the center of the dialogue between them and the Egyptian government.

According to press sources, on Friday evening said that when Dr. Ahmed Kamal Abul Magd, a member of the Committee, the dumping of the proposals on the demonstrators in Tahrir Square boycotted and rejected a large number of them to listen to these proposals, which forced him and most of the members of the Committee of Wise Men to return to the headquarters of the League of Arab States, near Tahrir Square amid bitter divisions between supporters of the proposals and Ravdiha for different reasons.

The statement of the wise men to ensure a wide range of points to calm the demonstrators, most important of which are assigned to Alsidamr Solomon Vice President managing the transition.

Among the statement included also be a place for young people and clear in the national dialogue and to be “institutionalized dialogue” is selected any of its functions and objectives and the participants in a clear and specific.

The statement should also be developed in political reforms and not to limit the dialogue to the traditional parties are provided sufficient guarantees for a peaceful transition of power, with an estimate of the role played by the military at this point.

Taking Committee confirmed that it sought to “complete agreement between the parties regarding the solution,” and expressed hope that the resulting proposal to reach a solution “in the coming hours”, the Commission invited the young protesters to choose the leadership of their representative and drew in contrast to the “Muslim Brotherhood” pledge Under this proposal, failure to submit a candidate for the forthcoming presidential elections.

Includes a committee of elders of both the thinker Ahmed Kamal Abul-Magd and the world, Ahmed Zewail, Nobel Laureate in Chemistry and businessman Naguib Sawiris, the Secretary General of the League of Arab States Amr Moussa, head of the Central Auditing Agency Malt and the President of the Islamic Front Party Democratic Osama Ghazali Harb, and Dr. Amr Hamzawy, Munir Fakhri Abdel the light and the media Mahmoud Saad. ‘

At Enduring America, we are told:

’1610 GMT: Al Arabiya reports that the 10-man wise men committee has gotten positive feedback from President Mubarak about handing over power to VP Omar Suleiman. No one else has confirmed this’

Jack Shenker at the Guardian has uncovered another list of demands which sounds to me more like the real deal:

The Guardian has learned that delegates from these mini-gatherings then come together to discuss the prevailing mood, before potential demands are read out over the square’s makeshift speaker system. The adoption of each proposal is based on the proportion of cheers or boos it receives from the crowd at large.

Delegates have arrived in Tahrir from other parts of the country that have declared themselves liberated from Mubarak’s rule, including the major cities of Alexandria and Suez, and are also providing input into the decisions.

“When the government shut down the web, politics moved on to the street, and that’s where it has stayed,” said one youth involved in the process. “It’s impossible to construct a perfect decision-making mechanism in such a fast-moving environment, but this is as democratic as we can possibly be.”

“Genuine opposition politics in this country has always relied on people taking the initiative, and that’s what we’re seeing here – on a truly astounding level,” said Ahdaf Soueif, an Egyptian author who has been closely monitoring the spontaneous political activity on the ground. “There is more transparency and equality here in Tahrir than anything we’ve ever seen under the Mubarak regime; anyone and everyone can have their say, and that makes the demands that come out of the process even more powerful.”

The document that has emerged from Tahrir details calls for the election of a founding council of 40 public intellectuals and constitutional experts, who will draw up a new constitution over the coming months under the supervision of the transitional government, then put it to the Egyptian people in a referendum. Following the passage of the new constitution, fresh elections would be held at a local and national level.

Such a scenario would go far further than the piecemeal constitutional reform offered by the present government, and would preclude any delay in Mubarak’s departure or any transitional governing role for existing members of country’s ruling elite.

The demands, which have been endorsed by the so-called “300” – the loose coalition of online activists who were behind last month’s call for the “day of rage” on 25 January, the event that sparked the current uprising – are also more radical than those put forward earlier this week by a group of senior judges, diplomats and businessmen in the Egyptian daily newspaper Al Shorouk. The latter group’s statement endorsed the idea of Suleiman as a transitional president, an outcome firmly rejected by the majority of those camped out in Tahrir.

Other demands to have come out the square include the end of the country’s Emergency Law, the dismantling of the state security apparatus, and the trial of key regime leaders, including Mubarak.

“The regime is trying to demonise protesters as agents of foreign powers, fomenters of chaos, and so on,” says Hossam el-Hamalawy, a journalist and blogger. “But go down to Tahrir, sit on a corner, and within a few minutes you’ll be in the middle of a spontaneous political discussion – the energy of people’s ideas is inspiring. It’s down there that the legitimate voice of the protesters and our revolution can be heard.”

More from the Houston Chronicle:

A self-declared group of Egypt’s elite — called the “group of wise men” — has circulated ideas to try to break that deadlock. Among them is a proposal that Mubarak “deputize” his Vice President Omar Suleiman with his powers and, for the time being at least, step down in everything but name.

The “wise men,” who are separate from the protesters on the ground, have met twice in recent days with Suleiman and the prime minister, said Amr el-Shobaki, a member of the group. Their proposals also call for the dissolving of the parliament monopolized by the ruling party and the end of emergency laws that give security forces near-unlimited powers.

Late Friday, a delegation from the protesters themselves meet with Shafiq to discuss ways out of the impasse, said Abdel-Rahman Youssef, a youth activist who participated in the meeting.

Youssef told The Associated Press on Saturday that the meeting was not a start of negotiations. “It was a message to see how to resolve the crisis. The message is that they must recognize the legitimacy of the revolution and that president must leave one way or the other, either real or political departure,” he said.

The protesters are looking into the proposal floated by the “wise men,” said Youssef, who is part of the youth movement connected to Nobel Peace laureate and prominent reform advocate Mohamed ElBaradei.

“It could be a way out of the crisis,” Youssef said. “But the problem is in the president…he is not getting it that he has become a burden on everybody, psychologically, civicly and militarily.”

Protesters, however, are wary of a trap. They fear that without the pressure of protesters in the streets demanding democracy, the regime will carry out only superficial reforms while keeping its grip on power. So they are reluctant to end the demonstrations without the concrete victory of Mubarak’s ouster and assurances on what happens next.

el-Shobaki, of “the wise men,” said Suleiman did not respond to their proposal that Mubarak deputize him.

“The stumbling point ,” el-Shobaki said.

The “wise men” are comprised of about a dozen prominent public figures and jurists, including former Cabinet minister and lawyer Ahmed Kamal Aboul-Magd, businessman Naguib Sawiris and political scientist academics like el-Shobaki. “We don’t represent the youth on the ground. We keep in touch with them,” said el-Shobaki.

The protest organizers themselves are a mix. The majority are young secular leftists and liberals, who launched the wave of protests though an Internet campaign, but the fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood also has built a prominent role. They have succeeded in drawing a startlingly broad cross-section of the public, including the urban poor, lower middle class and young upper class.

Protest organizers have formed a committee that will carry out any future negotiations with the government over reforms. The committee includes ElBaradei, the Muslim Brotherhood and representatives of the youth factions.

Mousa appears as a possible candidate for presidency in the Washington Post.

Pampering the ziocolony isn’t the only interest the US has apropos Egypt.

According to the State Department, U.S. military aid to Egypt totals over $1.3 billion annually [5] in a stream of funding known as Foreign Military Financing.

U.S. officials have long argued that the funding promotes strong ties between the two countries’ militaries, which in turn has all sorts of benefits. For example, U.S. Navy warships get “expedited processing” through the Suez Canal.

Here’s a 2009 U.S. embassy cable recently released by WikiLeaks that makes essentially the same point [6]:

President Mubarak and military leaders view our military assistance program as the cornerstone of our mil-mil relationship and consider the USD 1.3 billion in annual FMF as “untouchable compensation” for making and maintaining peace with Israel. The tangible benefits to our mil-mil relationship are clear: Egypt remains at peace with Israel, and the U.S. military enjoys priority access to the Suez Canal and Egyptian airspace.

The military funding also enables Egypt to purchase U.S.-manufactured military goods and services, a 2006 report [7] from the Government Accountability Office explained [PDF]. The report criticized both the State Department and the Defense Department for failing to measure how the funding actually contributes to U.S. goals.

Movement in the NDP:

From @SultanAlQassemi

BREAKING Al Arabiya: President Mubarak has resigned as head of the ruling NDP party

Al Arabiya now speaking to corrupt NDP tycoon Ibrahim Kamel (who was pushing for Gamal to be president) “This is a natural development”

To clarify to all: Mubarak is still a member of the NDP, as a technicality he must remain a member, however he is no longer head of the NDP.

Breaking Al Arabiya: Gamal Mubarak, Safwat El Sarif, Mufeed Shehab & Zakaria Azmi no longer members of the NDP (this is what I see onscreen)

Breaking Al Arabiya: The new leadership of the NDP party are: Hossam Badrawi, Mohamed Ragab, Mohammed Abdallah & Magid Sharbini

“Gamal Mubarak resigns from Egypt ruling party in gesture to protesters” http://bit.ly/i2DTb0 Gamal is no longer …a member of the NDP party

RT @weddady: RT @bbclysedoucet student protestor Tahrir Sq:we want 2 get rid of cancer but they’re giving us aspirins -reaction NDP resignations #jan25

RT @5thEstate: Arabiya retracts report #Mubarak resigned as heading of ruling NDP (Rtrs) #jan25 #oops

CIA weasel! RT @5thEstate: U.S. crisis envoy to #Egypt, Frank Wisner, says #Mubarak must stay in power to steer changes (Rtrs) #jan25

‘”We need to get a national consensus around the pre-conditions for the next step forward. The president must stay in office to steer those changes,” Frank Wisner told the Munich Security Conference.’

Yet in the NYTimes:

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, speaking to a security conference in Munich, said it was important to support Mr. Suleiman, a pillar of the Egyptian establishment and Mr. Mubarak’s longtime confidante, as he seeks to defuse street protests. Mr. Suleiman has promised repeatedly to reach out to opposition groups, including the Muslim Brotherhood, but there were few indications that any genuine dialogue with opposition leaders had begun.

Ms. Clinton’s message, echoed by Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany and Prime Minister David Cameron of Britain, was a notable shift in tone from the past week, when President Obama, faced with violent clashes in Cairo, demanded that Mr. Mubarak make swift, bold changes. The change appears to reflect worries that rapid change in Egypt could destabilize the country and the region.

“That takes some time,” Mrs. Clinton said. “There are certain things that have to be done in order to prepare.”

But Mohamed ElBaradei, the Nobel laureate who has been chosen to negotiate on behalf of the protesters and other opposition groups, said the American-backed transition plan was a nonstarter. “I do not think it’s adequate,” he said in an interview. “I’m not talking about myself. It’s not adequate for the people.

“Mubarak needs to go,” he said. “It has become an emotional issue. They need to see his back, there’s no question about it.”

From @exiledsurfer:

The 7 Demands of the Tahrir protesters: 1. Resignation of the president 2. End of the emergency state. 3. Dissolution of The People’s Assembly and Shora Council. 4. Formation of a national transitional government 5. An elected Parliament that will ammend the Constitution to allow for presidential elections. 6. Immediate prosecution for those responsible for deaths of the revolution’s martyrs. 7. Immediate prosecution of the corrupters & those who robbed the country of its wealth. (via @ioerror, @suzeeinthecity, @kyrah) #tahrir #jan25 #egypt #cairo #suez #alexandria #feb1 #departurefriday

I’ll update this post with any new info.

Related Links

Egypt Talks Start on Sidelining Mubarak With Protest in Day 12
EGYPT: Missing Google executive Wael Ghonim named symbolic spokesman of opposition group

Egypt Links

Blast at gas terminal in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula – disgruntled Bedouins? –

Egypt has potential natural gas reserves of 62 trillion cubic feet (1.7 trillion cubic meters), the 18th largest in the world.

Egypt began providing Israel with natural gas in February 2008 under a deal by which it will sell Israel 60 billion cubic feet (1.7 billion cubic meters) a year for a period of 15 years.

The deal raised controversy at home, with some in the Egyptian opposition saying the gas was being sold at below-market rates. Others resent Israel’s treatment of Palestinians, and say Egypt shouldn’t supply energy to Israel.

“The deal (to sell gas) was a blow to the pride of Egyptians and a betrayal,” former diplomat Ibrahim Yousri told The Associated Press on Saturday.

Yousri led a high court challenge to try halt Egypt’s sale of gas to Israel. Although the high court ruled in his favor in February 2010, the ruling was widely ignored by the government.

RT @SultanAlQassemi: Al Arabiya: North Sinai explosion didn’t target the pipeline itself but the gas filtering station that supplies Jordan #
RT @REUTERSFLASH: #Egypt gas pipeline blast struck Jordanian branch, authorities blame “foreign elements” – Security source #
@deanproctor Sinai gas pieline blast cuts gas supplies to Israel. Weren’t they telling Mubarek to shoot the protestors? Karma unconfirmed. #Tahrir #Jan25 # – Gas tycoons who are trying to get the increased excise tax blocked in the Knesset will be rejoicing at the sinai attack
RT @Dream23fb: Ayman on AJE confirms unknown group set off blast at gas pipeline in Arish in the North Sinai #Egypt #
The new Egypt-Israel Gas deal: What we need to know
Egypt-Israel gas deal: WHO is behind it? The names, the relationships, the clientelism…
Tunisian cyber activists take on Egypt
Picture of fire from bombed gas pipeline to Israel in Arish
Ikhwanweb: Egypt’s Revolution is a People’s revolution and has no Islamic agenda
‘Mubarak, Mubarak, What Have You Done?’
Turkish minister says unrest in Egypt no longer an internal matter
Marching to Tahrir Square: ‘Welcome to liberated territory’
Obama Faults Spy Agencies’ Performance in Gauging Mideast Unrest, Officials Say – blame the intel, right.
Error-Prone NYT Reporter Lectures Al Jazeera English on Accuracy
The Arab freedom epic “Now, we witness the third and most significant Arab historical development, which is the spontaneous drive by millions of ordinary Arabs to finally assert their humanity, demand their rights, and take command of their national condition and destiny.”
Police attack Cairo tweeter, destroy car
Israel fears Egypt becoming ‘radical Islamic theocracy’ – hasbara alert
Thank God some reporters don’t idolise Petraeus
Douchowitless froths
Egypt’s moment
Killed in Egypt
U.S. expects Egypt to keep peace with Israel regardless of who is in power
A Media Guide To The Egypt Uprising
When there is free election in Egypt, do you think any political party in Egypt, even the one that would be funded by the Mosssad, would dare say in its platform: and if elected, we promise to keep the Israeli flag flying in Cairo?
If Obama and Hillary were around for the Titanic disaster, they would have advised that the ship was not sinking: that it merely needed the passengers and captain to engage in meaningful dialogue.
Detained in Cairo
Don’t be nervous ‘If Egyptian now demonstrate in solidarity with the Palestinians now, for example, no security forces would prevent them from leaving the Al-Azhar or the Cairo University. It is a different country even if the head of the secret police, `Umar Sulayman (the candidate of reform and democracy according to Obama and Clinton), takes over in a transitional period.’
James Zogby on Egypt: Can He Sink Any Lower?
Clinton warns of “perfect storm” in Middle East
Mubarak TV
The US ‘The time when the US could have exploited the Egyptian uprising to feign identification with the people is long gone. The US clumsily–from its own imperialist standpoint–put itself squarely on the side of the enemies of the people of Egypt. Now this will have long term repercussions.’
Egypt (and Beyond) LiveBlog: Settling In for the Long Game
Egypt Arrests 4 Facebook Activists [Updated]
Treatment for malignant narcissism imminent? Egyptian VP, top military leaders planning ‘graceful exit’ for Mubarak
Cairo’s biggest protest yet demands Mubarak’s immediate departure
At hand, an Arab awakening
The State of Egyptian Antiquities- 4 February 2011
Shut Up Khamnenei , Shut Up Fox News And Cherchez Le Regime In The gas pipeline
Crisis in Egypt Tests U.S. Ties With Israel – American zionists whining
Blair: We want to engage with whoever will rule Egypt
Egypt protests: Hillary Clinton signals US backing for Omar Suleiman
In the hands of the secret police
The Egyptian people, on many levels, have pulled away the curtain, revealing American hypocrisy and the hard-core interests of the American ruling elite.’
The Angry Arab not fond of the MB
Blast in Egypt church near Gaza border – witnesses – false flag?
It’s not radical Islam that worries the US – it’s independence – Chomsky
3Arabawy Photos

Palestine / Israel Links

Israelis rally for Egypt; others express racist ideas about Arabs
Israel’s government raises alarm at events in Egypt
Netanyahu commits to promoting Arab construction in East Jerusalem – hasbara
Family of Amr Qawasme, murdered in his bed, seeks accountability
Going back to Herzl – The Zionist Plan for the Middle East
Bil’in protest in solidarity with Egypt attacked by Israeli troops
Settlers kill 2 Palestinian teens, soldiers attack funeral
Out with the collaborators: in with honest unity

Other Links

Jordan’s King changed his prime minister, and the US hails that as reform
Debating the Link Between Food Prices and Revolutions
US: Conspiracy charges filed against Muslim students
David Cameron tells Muslim Britain: stop tolerating extremists – the Pauline Hanson of Britain
After Egypt, Saudi activists start Facebook campaign for change in conservative kingdom

Extra Tweets

RT @mosaaberizing: “Twitter”, “Facebook” and “Aljazeera” written in large letters on walls of Tahrir. #Media #Tahrir #