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Venezuela Beyond the Protests: The Revolution is Here to Stay

Postcards from the Revolution

February 20, 2014

By Eva Golinger

Resist!

Hundreds of thousands march against US-backed destabilisation in Venezuela.

For those of you unfamiliar with Venezuelan issues, don’t let the title of this article fool you. The revolution referred to is not what most media outlets are showing taking place today in Caracas, with protestors calling for the ouster of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro. The revolution that is here to stay is the Bolivarian Revolution, which began in 1998 when Hugo Chavez was first elected president and has subsequently transformed the mega oil producing nation into a socially-focused, progressive country with a grassroots government. Demonstrations taking place over the past few days in Venezuela are attempts to undermine and destroy that transformation in order to return power to the hands of the elite who ruled the nation previously for over 40 years.

Those protesting do not represent Venezuela’s vast working class majority that struggled to overcome the oppressive exclusion they were subjected to during administrations before Chavez. The youth taking to the streets today in Caracas and other cities throughout the country, hiding their faces behind masks and balaclavas, destroying public buildings, vehicles, burning garbage, violently blocking transit and throwing rocks and molotov cocktails at security forces are being driven by extremist right-wing interests from Venezuela’s wealthiest sector. Led by hardline neoconservatives, Leopoldo Lopez, Henrique Capriles and Maria Corina Machado – who come from three of the wealthiest families in Venezuela, the 1% of the 1% – the protesters seek not to revindicate their basic fundamental rights, or gain access to free healthcare or education, all of which are guaranteed by the state, thanks to Chavez, but rather are attempting to spiral the country into a state of ungovernability that would justify an international intervention leading to regime change.

FLASHBACK: DEEPER DOWN THE RABBIT HOLE OF U.S. BACKED COLOR REVOLUTIONS

US Department of Imperial Expansion

March 6, 2011

Tony Cartalucci

Believe it or not, the US State Department’s mission statement actually says the following:

“Advance freedom for the benefit of the American people and the international community by helping to build and sustain a more democratic, secure, and prosperous world composed of well-governed states that respond to the needs of their people, reduce widespread poverty, and act responsibly within the international system.”

A far and treasonous cry from the original purpose of the State Department – which was to maintain communications and formal relations with foreign countries – and a radical departure from historical norms that have defined foreign ministries throughout the world, it could just as well now be called the “Department of Imperial Expansion.” Because indeed, that is its primary purpose now, the expansion of Anglo-American corporate hegemony worldwide under the guise of “democracy” and “human rights.” That a US government department should state its goal as to build a world of “well-governed states” within the “international system” betrays not only America’s sovereignty but the sovereignty of all nations entangled by this offensive mission statement and its execution.

The illegitimacy of the current US State Department fits in well with the overall Constitution-circumventing empire that the American Republic has degenerated into. The current Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, gives a daily affirmation of this illegitimacy every time she bellies up to the podium and further makes a mockery of America, its people and its destiny.

Recently she issued a dangerously irresponsible “warning” to Venezuela and Bolivia regarding their stately relations with Iran. While America has to right to mediate its own associations with foreign nations, one is confounded trying to understand what gives America the right to dictate such associations to other sovereign nations. Of course, the self-declared imperial mandate the US State Department bestowed upon itself brings such “warnings” into perspective with the realization that the globalists view no nation as sovereign and all nations beholden to their unipolar “international system.”

It’s hard to deny the US State Department is not behind the
“color revolutions” sweeping the world when the Secretary of
State herself phones in during the youth movement confabs
her department sponsors on a yearly basis.

If only the US State Department’s meddling was confined to feckless secretaries squawking behind podiums attempting to fulfill ridiculous mission statements, we could all rest easier. However, the US State Department actively bolsters its meddling rhetoric with very real measures. The centerpiece of this meddling is the vast and ever-expanding network being built to recruit, train, and support various “color revolutions” worldwide. While the corporate owned media attempts to portray the various revolutions consuming Eastern Europe, Southeast Asia, and now Northern Africa and the Middle East as indigenous, spontaneous, and organic, the reality is that these protesters represent what may be considered a “fifth-branch” of US power projection.

CANVAS: Freedom House, IRI, Soros funded Serbian color revolution
college behind the Orange, Rose, Tunisian, Burmese, and Egyptian protests
and has trained protesters from 50 other countries.

As with the army and CIA that fulfilled this role before, the US State Department’s “fifth-branch” runs a recruiting and coordinating center known as the Alliance of Youth Movements (AYM). Hardly a secretive operation, its website, Movements.org proudly lists the details of its annual summits which began in 2008 and featured astro-turf cannon fodder from Venezuela to Iran, and even the April 6 Youth Movement from Egypt. The summits, activities, and coordination AYM provides is but a nexus. Other training arms include the US created and funded CANVAS of Serbia, which in turn trained color-coup leaders from the Ukraine and Georgia, to Tunisia and Egypt, including the previously mentioned April 6 Movement. There is also the Albert Einstein Institute which produced the very curriculum and techniques employed by CANVAS.

2008 New York City Summit (included Egypt’s April 6 Youth Movement)
2009 Mexico City Summit
2010 London Summit

As previously noted, these organizations are now retroactively trying to obfuscate their connections to the State Department and the Fortune 500 corporations that use them to achieve their goals of expansion overseas. CANVAS has renamed and moved their list of supporters and partners while AYM has oafishly changed their “partnerships” to “past partnerships.”

Before & After: Oafish attempts to downplay US State Department’s extra-legal
meddling and subterfuge in foreign affairs. Other attempts are covered here.

Funding all of this is the tax payers’ money funneled through the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), the International Republican Institute (IRI), the National Democratic Institute (NDI), and Freedom House. George Soros’ Open Society foundation also promotes various NGOs which in turn support the revolutionary rabble on the ground. In Egypt, after the State Department’s youth brigades played their role, Soros and NED funded NGOs began work on drafting Egypt’s new constitution.

It should be noted that while George Soros is portrayed as being “left,” and the overall function of these pro-democracy, pro-human rights organizations appears to be “left-leaning,” a vast number of notorious “Neo-Cons” also constitute the commanding ranks and determine the overall agenda of this color revolution army.

Then there are legislative acts of Congress that overtly fund the subversive objectives of the US State Department. In support of regime change in Iran, the Iran Freedom and Support Act was passed in 2006. More recently in 2011, to see the US-staged color revolution in Egypt through to the end, money was appropriated to “support” favored Egyptian opposition groups ahead of national elections.

Then of course there is the State Department’s propaganda machines. While organizations like NED and Freedom House produce volumes of talking points in support for their various on-going operations, the specific outlets currently used by the State Department fall under the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG). They include Voice of America, Radio Free Europe, Radio Free Asia, Alhurra, and Radio Sawa. Interestingly enough, the current Secretary of State Hillary Clinton sits on the board of governors herself, along side a shameful collection of representatives from the Fortune 500, the corporate owned media, and various agencies within the US government.

Hillary Clinton: color revolutionary field marshal & propagandist,
two current roles that defy her duties as Secretary of State in any
rational sense or interpretation.

Judging from Radio Free Europe’s latest headlines, such as “Lieberman: The West’s Policy Toward Belarus Has ‘Failed Miserably’ ” and “Azerbaijani Youth Activist ‘Jailed For One Month,’” it appears that hope is still pinned on inciting color revolutions in Belarus and Azerbaijan to continue on with NATO’s creep and the encirclement of Russia. Belarus in particular was recently one of the subjects covered at the Globsec 2011 conference, where it was considered a threat to both the EU and NATO, having turned down NATO in favor of closer ties with Moscow.

Getting back to Hillary Clinton’s illegitimate threat regarding Venezuela’s associations with Iran, no one should be surprised to find out an extensive effort to foment a color revolution to oust Hugo Chavez has been long underway by AYM, Freedom House, NED, and the rest of this “fifth-branch” of globalist power projection. In fact, Hugo Chavez had already weathered an attempted military coup overtly orchestrated by the United States under Bush in 2002.

Upon digging into the characters behind Chavez’ ousting in 2002, it
appears that this documentary sorely understates US involvement.

The same forces of corporatism, privatization, and free-trade that led the 2002 coup against Chavez are trying to gain ground once again. Under the leadership of Harvard trained globalist minion Leopoldo Lopez, witless youth are taking the place of 2002?s generals and tank columns in an attempt to match globalist minion Mohamed ElBaradei’s success in Egypt.

Unsurprisingly, the US State Department’s AYM is pro-Venezuelan opposition, and describes in great detail their campaign to “educate” the youth and get them politically active. Dismayed by Chavez’ moves to consolidate his power and strangely repulsed by his “rule by decree,” -something that Washington itself has set the standard for- AYM laments over the difficulties their meddling “civil society” faces.

Chavez’ government recognized the US State Department’s meddling recently in regards to a student hunger strike and the US’s insistence that the Inter-American Human Rights Commission be allowed to “inspect” alleged violations under the Chavez government. Venezuelan Foreign Minister Nicolás Maduro even went as far as saying, “It looks like they (U.S.) want to start a virtual Egypt.”


The “Fifth-Branch” Invasion: Click for larger image.

Understanding this “fifth-branch” invasion of astro-turf cannon fodder and the role it is playing in overturning foreign governments and despoiling nation sovereignty on a global scale is an essential step in ceasing the Anglo-American imperial machine. And of course, as always, boycotting and replacing the corporations behind the creation and expansion of these color-revolutions hinders not only the spread of their empire overseas, but releases the stranglehold of dominion they possess at home in the United States. Perhaps then the US State Department can once again go back to representing the American Republic and its people to the rest of the world as a responsible nation that respects real human rights and sovereignty both at home and abroad.

Tony Cartalucci can be contacted via email at cartalucci@gmail.com

THE NEXT PUPPETS: How NGOs are Indoctrinating Young African Politicians to Serve Western Interests

E.Africa

10 May 2012

“In the three module-training of one week each conducted in some of the best hotels in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania, participants are introduced to western ways of thinking and living. Like the media propaganda that was called Development Communication, this indoctrination is not called by its real name; it is described using innocent phrases like capacity building, value-based leadership, gender mainstreaming, and others.”


Image: East African political youth leaders pose for a photo after attending a workshop organized in 2009 by NDI and KIC at Kunduchi Beach Resort in Dar-es-Salaam.

By YAHYA SSEREMBA

In a 2010 science fiction action film, Inception, Leonardo DiCaprio plays an exceptional thief whose specialty is to extract valuable commercial information from the minds of tycoons. Like a hacker who penetrates computer systems and secretly accesses data, DiCaprio enters into the subconscious of his targets and digs out their secrets as they dream. His excellent espionage skill prompts a wealthy businessman to use him to bring down the business empire of a competitor.

Thus DiCaprio embarks on his toughest mission ever, this time not to steal an idea, but to plant one in the mind of the competitor that should drive the target to destroy his own business empire. In real life and in Africa particularly, western organizations are busy playing DiCaprio by indoctrinating whoever they expect to gain political influence sooner or later. Their goal is to make the next generation of African leaders receptive to western whims and caprice.

Prominent among such organizations is the International Republican Institute, National Democratic Institute, Christian Democratic International Center, Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, and Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung. These organizations, ideologically dissimilar as they may claim to be, have a common agenda of entrenching and perpetuating western subjugation of Africa.

Their capacity to posture as innocent apostles of good governance, democracy and human rights – concepts that the West defines and twists according to its interests – makes them the least suspected of Euro-American strategies for global dominance.

The quest by the West and the rest for dominating Africa is not new. Through the millennia of known history Africa has suffered intrusion after intrusion, invasion after invasion, occupation after occupation. This recurrent violation of the continent’s self-determination was once perpetrated by races claiming biological superiority that granted them the right to rule over “biologically inferior” Africans.  It is this illusion that the Blacks are intrinsically inferior that motivated Europeans to enslave Africans en masse – first in the New World and later in Africa during colonialism.

NGO crackdown: Egypt Denies Licenses to 8 U.S.-based Non-profits

By Anne Sewell

Apr 24, 2012 in World
[embedplusvideo height=”300″ width=”430″ standard=”http://www.youtube.com/v/v_DcU322axQ?fs=1″ vars=”ytid=v_DcU322axQ&width=430&height=300&start=&stop=&rs=w&hd=0&react=0&chapters=&notes=” id=”ep1415″ /]

Egypt has denied licenses to eight US-based non-profit groups, saying they violated the country’s sovereignty. Many states are concerned that foreign government-backed NGOs are really agents for their sponsors, rather than independent action groups.

­Among the organizations banned from continuing their work in Egypt are the Carter Center for Human Rights, set up by former US President Jimmy Carter, Christian group The Coptic Orphans, Seeds of Peace and other groups.

Egyptian authorities warned that if the NGOs try to work without a license, Cairo would “take relevant measures”.

Local media speculate that the rejection may be temporary, and licenses could be granted later, after the presidential election due on May 23 and 24.

Monday’s move revives a crackdown by the Egyptian authorities on foreign-funded NGOs, which recently provoked a serious diplomatic row with long-term ally US. In late December 2011, security forces raided offices of a number of groups suspected of receiving money in violation of Egyptian legislation.

In February, prosecutors charged 43 people with instilling dissent and meddling in domestic policies following last year’s mass protests, which resulted in the ousting of President Hosni Mubarak. Among them were citizens of the US, Germany, Serbia, Norway and Jordan.

In March, an Egyptian court revoked the travel ban for 17 indicted Americans following Washington’s threat to withdraw $1.3 billion annual military aid to Cairo. The decision provoked a wave criticism of the ruling military council in Egypt. Many activists accused them of betraying national interests under American pressure.

“NGO”: The Guise of Innocence | The Illusion of Innocent Philanthropic Activity

The term “NGO” is used deliberately to create an illusion of innocent philanthropic activity. In this case the Egyptian government is investigating the operations of organisations in receipt of US state funding which have a proven history of covertly funding political parties, influencing elections and aiding coups against both autocratic and democratic non-compliant and left-leaning governments around the world. Yet one mention of the Egyptian government’s raid on the offices of so-called “pro-democracy NGOs” in Cairo was enough to spark an international outcry. The result has been an almost complete failure by the Western press to investigate at all the history of the organisations involved or the validity of the charges being brought against them.

by Jenny O’Connor

Global Research, April 8, 2012 | Irish Foreign Affairs (Vol 5, No. 1, March 2012) and Dissident Voice

 

 

In December Egyptian prosecutors and police raided 17 offices of 10 groups identifying themselves as “pro-democracy” NGOs, including four US-based agencies. Forty-three people, including 16 US citizens, have been accused of failing to register with the government and financing the April 6th protest movement with illicit funds in a manner that detracts from the sovereignty of the Egyptian state.

The US has applied massive pressure on Egypt to drop the case, sending high-level officials to Cairo for intense discussions and threatening to cut off up to $1.3bn in military aid and $250m in economic assistance if the US citizens were tried. A travel ban was imposed on seven of them by Egypt’s Attorney General, including Sam LaHood, son of Obama’s Transportation Secretary. By the first day of the case all but the seven with travel restrictions had left the country and those who remained did not even attend court. A day after the ban was lifted a military plane removed the remaining seven US citizens from Egypt after the US government provided nearly $5m in bail.

The Egyptian authorities stated that the matter was firmly in the hands of the judiciary and out of control of government and accused the US of unacceptable meddling. The international community has expressed outrage at the affair and accused the Egyptian military of inciting paranoia of foreign interference so as to deflect attention from the slow pace of political and democratic reform a year after the revolution. Amid the high-profile diplomatic strife there has been an almost total global journalistic silence on the nature and funding of these “NGOs”.

State Sponsored Organisations, Not NGOs

The people standing trial are repeatedly referred to by governments and the media as “NGO workers”. The 43 defendants worked for five specific organisations; Freedom House; the National Democratic Institute (NDI); the International Republican Institute (IRI); the International Center for Journalists (ICFJ) and the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung. Only one of these organisations, the ICFJ, can be considered as non-governmental in that it does not receive the majority of its funding either directly or indirectly from a government.

The NDI, chaired by Madeline Albright, and the IRI, chaired by Senator John McCain, represent the US Democratic and Republican political parties. The NDI and IRI, together with the Center for International Private Enterprise, which represents the US Chamber of Commerce, and the Solidarity Centre, which represents the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), make up the four “core institutions” of the National Endowment for Democracy (NED). NED is a non-profit, grant-making institution that receives more than 90% of its annual budget from the US government. While Freedom House claims to be independent it regularly receives the majority of its funding from the NED. The Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, sometimes referred to as the German NED, is a non-profit foundation associated with the Christian Democratic Union. It receives over 90% of its funding from the German government. This means that the IRI, the NDI, Freedom House and the Konrad Adenauer Stifung – four of the five accused organisation – are state sponsored institutions and can not be defined as NGOs.

Freedom House has long been criticised for its right wing bias, favouring free markets and US foreign policy interests when assessing civil liberty and political freedom “scores” in countries around the world. Freedom House statistics for 2011 claim that Venezuelans had the same level of political rights as Iraqis. Bolivia’s overall score was reduced from “Free” to “Partially Free” after mass protests removed American-educated millionaire Gonzalo Sanchez de Losada from power after he initiated a sweeping privatization program. Now, under the first government in her history to really recognise the rights of the indigenous majority, Bolivia is still rated by Freedom House as only partially free and received a lower overall score than Botswana where one party (the BDP) has been in power since the first elections were held there in 1965. Freedom House has also been accused of running programmes of regime destabilisation in US “enemy states” and a 1996 Financial Times article revealed that Freedom House was one of several organisations selected by the State Department to receive funding for “clandestine activities” inside Iran including training and funding groups seeking regime change, an act that received criticism from Iranian grass roots pro-democracy groups.1

The most nefarious of these organisations by far, however, are the IRI and the NDI. They receive NED grants “for work abroad to foster the growth of political parties, electoral processes and institutions, free trade unions, and free markets and business organizations.” 2  On March 6th, a protest march was organised by American civil society organisations at the offices of the NED in Washington, demanding; “NO ATTACKS ON DEMOCRACY ANYWHERE! CLOSE THE NED”. Union members and labor activists have protested and campaigned for years demanding that the AFL-CIO’s Solidarity Center break all ties to the NED.

Board of Directors

Chaired by Richard Gephardt – former Democratic Representative, now CEO of his own corporate consultancy and lobbying firm – the NED’s board of directors consists of a collection of corporate lobbyists, advisors and consultants, former U.S congressmen, senators, ambassadors and military and senior fellows of think tanks. For example, John A. Bohn, a former high level international banker and former President and Chief Executive Officer of Moody’s Investors Service, is now Commissioner of the California Public Utilities Commission, a principal in a global corporate advisory and consulting firm and Executive Chairman of an internet based trading exchange for petrochemicals. Kenneth Duberstein, former White House Deputy Chief of Staff under Reagan, is now Chairman and CEO of his own corporate lobbying firm. He also sits on the Board of Governors of the American Stock Exchange and NASD and serves on the Boards of Directors of numerous conglomerates including The Boeing Company, ConocoPhilips and Fannie Mae. Martin Frost is a former congressman who was involved in writing the 1999 “Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act” also known as the “Citigroup Relief Act”, and William Galston, former student of Leo Strauss, is a US Marine Corp veteran.

The Board also contains four of the founding members of ultra-conservative think tank Project for a New American Century; Francis Fukyama (author of ‘The End of History’), Will Marshall (founder of the ‘New Democrats’, an organisation that aimed to move Democratic Party policies to the right) former congressman Vin Weber (who retired from Congress in 1992 as a result of the House Banking Scandal and is now managing partner of a corporate lobbying firm) and Zalmay Khalilzad. Under George Bush Jr., Khalilzad served as US Ambassador to Iraq, Afghanistan and the UN.  He is now President and CEO of his own international corporate advisory firm which advises clients – mainly in the energy, construction, education, and infrastructure sectors – wishing to do business in the Middle East, particularly in Iraq and Afghanistan. He also briefly consulted for Cambridge Energy Research Associates while they were conducting a risk analysis for the proposed Trans-Afghanistan gas pipeline.

History

The NED was founded in 1983 when Washington was embroiled in numerous controversies relating to covert military operations and the training and funding of paramilitaries and death squads in Central and South America. The NED was formed to create an open and legal avenue for the US Government to channel funds to opposition groups against unfavourable regimes around the world, thus removing the political stigma associated with covert CIA funding. In a 1991 Washington Post article, “Innocence Abroad: The New World of Spyless Coups”, Allen Weinstein (who helped draft the legislation that established the NED) declared; “A lot of what we [the NED] do today was done covertly 25 years ago by the CIA”. 3

In 1996 the Heritage Foundation published an article in defence of continued NED congressional funding which accurately summed up the NED as a US foreign policy tool; “The NED is a valuable weapon in the international war of ideas. It advances American national interests by promoting the development of stable democracies friendly to the U.S. in strategically important parts of the world. The U.S. cannot afford to discard such an effective instrument of foreign policy…Although the Cold War has ended, the global war of ideas continues to rage”. 4

As well as ongoing campaigns of regime destabilisation in undemocratic US enemy states such as Cuba and China, and its well known funding of “colour” revolutionaries in the former soviet space, the NED has been repeatedly involved in influencing elections and overthrowing governments in left-leaning and anti-US democratic regimes around the world. This is achieved by providing funding and/or training and strategic advice to opposition groups, political parties, journalists and media outlets. As Barbara Conry of the Cato Institute wrote: “Through the Endowment, the American taxpayer has paid for special-interest groups to harass the duly elected governments of friendly countries, interfere in foreign elections, and foster the corruption of democratic movements.”5

From 1986 to 1988 the NED funded the right-wing political opposition to Nobel Peace Price winner, President Oscar Arias, in democratic Costa Rica because he was outspokenly critical of Reagan’s violent policies in Central America. During the 1980s the NED was even active in “defending democracy” in France due to the dangerous rise in communist influence perceived as occurring under the elected socialist government of Francois Mitterrand. Money was channelled into opposition groups including extreme right-wing organisations such as the National Inter-University Union. In 1990 the NED provided funding and support to right wing groups in Nicaragua, and Daniel Ortega and the Sandinistas were removed from power in an election described by Professor William I. Robinson as an event in which “massive foreign interference completely distorted an endogenous political process and undermined the ability of the elections to be a free choice”.6

In the late 1990s the NED provided funding and support to the US backed right-wing opposition against the election campaign of progressive former president, and first democratically elected leader of Haiti, Jean-Betrand Aristide. When a coup removed Aristide from power for the second time in 2004 it was revealed that the NED had provided funding and strategic advice to the principal organizations involved in his ousting. The involvement of the NED in the 2002 attempted coup against President Hugo Chavez in Venezuela has been well researched and documented. Immediately after the coup, however, the then president of the IRI, George Folsom, revealed the institute’s role in the endeavour when he sent out a press release celebrating Chavez’s ousting: “The Institute has served as a bridge between the nation’s political parties and all civil society groups to help Venezuelans forge a new democratic future…”.

The IRI was also implicated in the 2009 Honduran coup amid claims that the organisation had supported the ousting of democratically elected leader Manuel Zelaya because of his support of the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas (an anti-free trade pact including Honduras, Venezuela, Bolivia and Cuba) and his refusal to privatise telecommunications. According to the Council on Hemispheric Affairs AT&T – an American telecommunications giant – has provided significant funding to both the IRI and Senator John McCain (its chairman) in order to target Latin American states that refuse to privatize their telecommunications industry.7

Influence in Egypt and the Arab Spring

The NED works in democratic Turkey but does not provide “democratisation grants” to civil society organisations in Western allied absolute monarchies such as Qatar, Saudi Arabia or Oman. A number of NED backed activists have taken centre stage in the Arab Spring struggles and U.S. supported candidates have risen to occupy leading positions in newly established transitional governments. The most glaring example of this is Libya’s transitional Prime Minister, Dr. Abdurrahim El-Keib, who holds dual U.S./Libyan citizenship and is former Chairman of the Petroleum Institute sponsored by British Petroleum, Shell, Total and the Japan Oil Development Company. He handed the job of running Libya’s oil and gas supply to a technocrat and, according to the Guardian, has passed over Islamists expected to make the cabinet in order “to please Western backers”.8 Tawakkul Karman too, of Yemen, who became the youngest ever recipient of a Nobel Peace Price in 2011, was leader of a NED grantee organisation, “Women Journalists without Chains”.

In 2009 sixteen young Egyptian activists completed a two-month Freedom House ‘New Generation Fellowship’ in Washington. The activists received training in advocacy and met with U.S. government officials, members of Congress, media outlets and think tanks. As far back as 2008, members of the April 6th Movement attended the inaugural summit of the Association of Youth Movements (AYM) in New York, where they networked with other movements, attended workshops on the use of new and social media and learned about technical upgrades, such as consistently alternating computer simcards, which help to evade state internet surveillance. AYM is sponsored by Pepsi, YouTube and MTV and amongst the luminaries who participated in the 2008 Summit, which focused on training activists in the use of Facebook and Twitter, were James Glassman of the State Department, Sherif Mansour of Freedom House, National Security Advisor Shaarik Zafar and Larry Diamond of the NED.

This is rather ironic considering that in September 2009 the US authorities arrested Elliot Madison (a US citizen and full-time social worker) for using Twitter to disseminate information about police movements to G20 Summit street protesters in Pittsburgh. Madison, apparently in violation of a loosely defined federal anti-rioting law, was accused of “criminal use of a communication facility,” “possessing instruments of crime,” and “hindering apprehension”. Given that heavily armed police officers were using tear gas, sonic weapons and rubber bullets on protesters Madison’s actions were hardly unjustified. Further demonstrating the hypocrisy of Madison’s arrest is the fact that in June 2009 the State Department had requested Twitter delay a planned upgrade so that Iranian protesters’ tweets would not be interrupted. Twitter Inc subsequently stated in a blog post that it had delayed the upgrade because of its role as an “important communication tool in Iran.”9

A leaked 2008 cable from the Cairo US Embassy, entitled “April 6 activist on his US visit and regime change in Egypt”, showed that the US was in dialogue with an April 6th youth activist about his attendance at the AYM Summit.10  The cable revealed that the activist tried to convince his Washington interlocutors that the US Government and the International Community should pressure the Egyptian government into implementing reforms by freezing the off-shore bank accounts of Egyptian Government officials. He also detailed the youth movement’s plans to remove Mubarak from power and hold representative elections before the September 2011 presidential election.

While the cable revealed that the US deemed this plan “highly unrealistic”, the dialogue proves that the funding of any youth organisation associated with the April 6th movement by a US organisation since December 2008 had been done with Washington and the US embassy in Cairo being fully aware that the movement’s aim was regime change in Egypt. Yet in April 2011 the New York Times published an article entitled ‘U.S. Groups Helped Nurture Arab Uprisings’ in which it openly stated that; “A number of the groups and individuals directly involved in the revolts and reforms sweeping the region, including the April 6th Youth Movement in Egypt, the Bahrain Center for Human Rights and grass-roots activists like Entsar Qadhi, a youth leader in Yemen, received training and financing from groups like the IRI, the NDI and Freedom House”.

According to the NED’s 2009 Annual Report, $1,419,426 worth of grants was doled out to civil society organisations in Egypt that year. In 2010, the year preceding the January – February 2011 revolution, this funding massively increased to $2,497,457.11 Nearly half of this sum, $1,146,903, was allocated to the Center for International Private Enterprise for activates such as conducting workshops at governate level “to promote corporate citizenship” and engaging civil society organizations “to participate in the democratic process by strengthening their capacity to advo­cate for free market legislative reform on behalf of their members”. Freedom House also received $89,000 to “strengthen cooperation among a network of local activists and bloggers”.

According to the same 2010 report, various youth organisations and youth orientated projects received a total of $370,954 for activities such as expanding the use of new media and social advertising campaigns among young activists, training and providing ongoing support in “the production and targeted dissemination of social advertisement campaigns”, building the leadership skills of political party youth, strengthening and supporting “a cadre of young civic and political activists . . . well positioned to mobilize and engage their communities”, and providing youth  training workshops in “professional media skills as well as online and social networking media tools”.

But this is just the funding that is transparently made known to us on the NED’s official website. After the revolution, the NDI and IRI massively expanded their operations in Egypt, opening five new offices between them and hiring large numbers of new staff. The Egyptian authorities claim that they have found these organisations’ finances very difficult to trace. According to Dawlat Eissa – a 27-year-old Egyptian-American and former IRI employee – the IRI used employees’ private bank accounts to channel money covertly from Washington, and an IRI accountant stated that directors used their personal credit cards for expenses. Eissa and a number of her colleagues resigned from their posts with the IRI in October, and Eissa filed a complaint with the government after director Sam LaHood reportedly told employees to collect all of the organisation’s work related paperwork for scanning and shipping to the US.12

It is clear that NDI, IRI and Freedom House were training and funding the youth movement in Egypt while the US Government and its Cairo Embassy were fully aware that the youth movement aimed to remove Mubarak from power. Critics claim that the defendants are being charged with a law that is a “relic of the Mubarak era”. But, it may be replied, in what country does the law allow foreign governments to fund and train opposition groups with a stated goal of regime change? It is common sense to assume that if China or Cuba were funding similar oppositionist groups in the US, those involved would be facing far harsher sentences than the 43 now standing trial in Egypt. Yet they continue to hide behind the tattered guise of being “NGO” employees, claiming independence because their US government funding is channelled through the National Endowment for Democracy.

The term “NGO” is used deliberately to create an illusion of innocent philanthropic activity. In this case the Egyptian government is investigating the operations of organisations in receipt of US state funding which have a proven history of covertly funding political parties, influencing elections and aiding coups against both autocratic and democratic non-compliant and left-leaning governments around the world. Yet one mention of the Egyptian government’s raid on the offices of so-called “pro-democracy NGOs” in Cairo was enough to spark an international outcry. The result has been an almost complete failure by the Western press to investigate at all the history of the organisations involved or the validity of the charges being brought against them.

•  This article was first published in Irish Foreign Affairs (Vol 5, No. 1, March 2012)

  1. Guy Dinmore, “Bush enters Iran ‘freedom’ debate’”, Financial Times, March 31, 2006 [?]
  2. National Endowment for Democracy official website [?]
  3. Innocence Abroad: The New World of Spyless Coups by David Ignatius. Washington Post, September 22, 1991 [?]
  4. The National Endowment for Democracy: A Prudent Investment in the Future by James Phillips (Senior Research Fellow for Middle Eastern Affairs) and Kim R. Holmes (Vice President of Foreign and Defence Policy Studies), Heritage Foundation, 1996 [?]
  5. Conry, B. (1993) Cato Foreign Policy Briefing No. 27, November 8 [?]
  6. Robinson, William I. (1992), A Faustian Bargain: U.S. Intervention in the Nicaraguan Elections and American Foreign Policy in the Post-Cold War Era,  Boulder: Westview Press, p. 150 [?]
  7. D’Ambrosio, Michaela,  ‘The Honduran Coup: Was it a matter of behind the scenes finagling by state department stonewallers?” Council on Hemispheric Affairs, September 16, 2009 [?]
  8. “Libyan PM snubs Islamists with cabinet to please western backers”, The Guardian, Tuesday  November 22, 2011 [?]
  9. Pleming, Sue. “US State Department speaks to Twitter over Iran”,  Reuters, Jun 16, 2009 [?]
  10. “Egypt protests: secret US document discloses support for protesters”,  The Telegraph, January 28, 2011 [?]
  11. All figures taken from 2009 and 2010 NED annual report’s for Egypt available on NED’s official website [?]
  12. Hill, Evan,  “Egypt dossier outlines NGO prosecution”, Al Jazeera English, February 26, 2012 [?]

Jenny O’Connor is a graduate of International Relations from Dublin City University and Communications Volunteer with the European Anti-Poverty Network Ireland. Read other articles by Jenny, or visit Jenny’s website.

EGYPT: New Raids on NGOs Expected

“Foreign funding has also been another reason to target NGOs, which, again, must be approved by the Ministry of Social Solidarity. In August, the Supreme State Security Prosecution launched investigations into foreign funding allegations, warning that groups could be charged with high treason, conspiracy against the state and compromising national security through the implementation of foreign agendas.” – NGO crackdown: Frontline of the ongoing revolution, Jan 5, 2012

Photo: US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks with “Egyptian activists promoting freedom and democracy”, prior to meetings at the State Department in Washington, DC, May 28, 2009. Source: Part I: Occupy Wall Street and “The American Autumn”: Is It a “Colored Revolution”?

The judge presiding over the investigation of accusations against civil society organisations says he ordered a warrant for searching several NGOs anew

 Ahram Online, 8 Feb 2012

Egypt’s ruling military council has rejected US threats to end aid payments to the country. US-Egypt tensions have risen considerably following the decision to refer 43 civil society workers to a Cairo court on charges of violating laws regulating the operation of non-governmental organisations (NGOs).

A statement released on the council’s official Facebook page stressed that Egypt is a country with a rich heritage that cannot be pressured or blackmailed into doing someone else’s bidding. The council also added that Egypt’s international relations with the US and others countries were governed by the common interests of both parties, and that “Egypt does not bow to the domination of anyone.”