Middle East

The financial flip-flop of Egypt’s revolutionary government, first requesting and then declining a $3 billion dollar IMF loan, highlights Egypt’s hard choices at this point in the revolution, but is a good sign, says Eric Walberg

It is no secret that Egypt has put all its faith in the US and Western international institutions since the days of Egyptian president Anwar Sadat, contracting a huge foreign debt, a process that was increasingly corrupt, despite being careful watched over by those very agencies. This debt is financed by foreign banks, and must be repaid in dollars -- with interest. If much of the money they create and then “lend” is siphoned off into Swiss bank accounts, that is Egypt’s problem. No one is trying to charge the people who gave Mubarak or his henchmen their money and then let them re-deposit it with them, but it takes two to tango.

As the second Freedom Flotilla packs its humanitarian aid and prepares to brave the wrath of the Israeli navy, boycott divestment and sanctions (BDS) activities continue on the homefront, notes Eric Walberg

Earlier this month, 100 activists from 9 countries gathered in Montpellier, France for the first European Forum Against Agrexco to strengthen the boycott campaign against Israel’s largest fresh produce exporter, which exports under the brand Carmel primarily to European markets. Up to 70 per cent of the fruit and vegetables grown in the illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank are marketed by Agrexco, making it a prime strategic target for BDS.

Turkey’s vibrant democracy is an inspiration to Arab countries throwing off their autocratic yoke and their Western patrons, says Eric Walberg

Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) renewed mandate puts the electoral seal of approval on its shift towards the Middle East, even as its importance to Europe increases. Now Turkey itself is being courted by both NATO countries and, increasingly, the Arab world.

So said a Holocaust survivor and anti-apartheid activist about his trip to Jackson, Mississippi in 1961. The same impulse inspires BDS activists from all walks of life today, says Eric Walberg

International boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) activities got a boost at the founding conference of the Palestinian Trade Union Coalition for BDS in Ramallah on 30 April. It called on trade unions around the world to sever all links with the Israel labour federation Histadrut. Histadrut protects illegal Israeli workers in the settlements and doesn’t protect the legal Palestinian workers there, having withheld almost $2.5 billion of their wages over the years, deducted for “social and other trade union benefits” that they have never received.

There was good and bad news on the political front in the past month. Scottish voters rejected the pro-war, pro-Israel Labour Party and elected the Scottish Nationalist Party, whose leader leader Alex Salmond supports sanctions against Israel.

Osama bin Laden was born 10 March 1957 in Riyad to Mohammed bin Awad bin Laden, a Yemeni-born Saudi construction billionaire with close ties to the Saudi royal family, and was killed in Abbottabad, Pakistan 2 May 2011 in a CIA-directed targeted assassination.

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Canadian Eric Walberg is known worldwide as a journalist specializing in the Middle East, Central Asia and Russia. A graduate of University of Toronto and Cambridge in economics, he has been writing on East-West relations since the 1980s.

He has lived in both the Soviet Union and Russia, and then Uzbekistan, as a UN adviser, writer, translator and lecturer. Presently a writer for the foremost Cairo newspaper, Al Ahram, he is also a regular contributor to Counterpunch, Dissident Voice, Global Research, Al-Jazeerah and Turkish Weekly, and is a commentator on Voice of the Cape radio.

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Eric's latest book The Canada Israel Nexus is available here http://www.claritypress.com/WalbergIV.html