Diary

Secretary of State Clinton, Part 2: The Arab Spring, or How to Mess Up a Messed Up Region

(Shaam News Network via AP, File)

In part 1, this writer looked at Hillary Clinton’s associations at the State Department.  Today, we look at the so-called Arab Spring.

To say that parts of Clinton’s tenure at the State Department were tumultuous would be an understatement despite the accolades upon her departure, the many miles traveled, the many hands shaken, and the many countries visited.  If there was one area where this is most obvious, it was the Arab Spring uprisings that occurred throughout the Middle East and North Africa from 2010-2012 and which have repercussions to this day.

Under Clinton, the State Department embarked on a program to embolden foreign social media activists to insist on regime changes in Middle Eastern and North African countries.  Of particular interest was a leaked email from Huma Abedin to Clinton personally thanking her for inspiring the protests taking place, especially in Egypt.  Subsequent investigative reporting shows that the primary means of inspiring the protests was through a program called the Alliance for Youth Movements Summit- a collection of social media activists organized by a Clinton supporter.  Through this movement, some became aware that the Muslim Brotherhood was supportive of efforts to oust Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak.  

Two weeks after Obama was elected in 2008, the summit was arranged at Columbia University in New York City.  It was Bush State Department official Jared Cohen who pushed the idea to the lame duck President.  Cohen stayed on at the State Department and became a close Clinton adviser in 2009.  Initially, the plan called for “smart mobbing-” assembling large crowds to assemble around a cause through organizing on social media outlets like YouTube, Facebook, MySpace and Bebo.  According to later leaked confidential documents from the US embassy in Cairo, the United States allowed an anti-Mubarak activist in Egypt with links to the Muslim Brotherhood to attend the New York City summit. Upon his return to Cairo, the embassy kept in contact with him.

A December 23, 2008 diplomatic dispatch stated that the activist had notes pertaining to the fact a hope of the summit was that Mubarak could be driven from power by the end of 2011.  It also noted his contacts with key government officials with the outgoing and incoming presidential administrations.  Another dispatch noted that the activist had spoken and coordinated with activists in other countries and discussed plans on how to evade security forces in these countries such as using SIM cards and alternating use of computers.   Apparently, according to another dispatch, the activist had been invited back to Washington to testify on HR 1303 regarding religious and political freedom in Egypt.

After taking office, the State Department sponsored the next summit in 2009 in Mexico City.  Clinton personally announced and addressed the summit.  In early 2011, Cohen left the State Department to form Movements.org- the successor organization to the Alliance for Youth Movements- just in time to take advantage of growing unrest in Egypt.  Investigative reporting has also revealed that “heroes” of the Arab Spring movement attended State Department-sponsored meetings and in some cases were funded by the State Department through the USAID office.  There are documented encounters with Clinton, John McCain, and trainers from the Serbian organization called CANVAS- an NGO- that was instrumental in toppling Slobodan Milosevic in that country.  It was later revealed that up to 10,000 protesters in Cairo’s Tahir Square protests were trained in social media techniques by USAID.  One Egyptian activist exile- Omar Afifi Sulemain- helped coordinate the protests from an office in Washington DC.  According to leaked documents on WikiLeaks, a State Department backed NGO paid him $200,000 from 2008 to 2011.

When the Egyptian protests began in 2011, Clinton was at the forefront.  She initially described the Mubarak government as “stable” in January.  Soon after making her initial statements, she started criticizing Mubarak for blocking social media sites.  She went on a media blitz of Sunday morning talk shows advocating for the orderly transition of power in Cairo out of the hands of Mubarak.  She eventually dispatched Frank Wisner to Cairo to convince Mubarak not to seek another term as Egyptian president.  But in early February, the protests became violent as the government started to crack down, especially on journalists covering them.  This brought a sharp rebuke from Clinton.  Wisner suggested that Mubarak remain in power until an orderly transition could be arranged, but Clinton rebuked Wisner.  On February 11, 2011 Mubarak did step down and the following month she visited Cairo.

Qatar was one of the first countries to support the ouster of Mubarak and pledged $2 billion in aid.  The US then followed up with an identical pledge.  By May, the Egyptian economy was reeling from the change and the World Bank stepped in with $4.5 billion in assistance over two years.  Throughout this, World Bank President Robert Zoellick lent his enthusiastic support to the success of the Arab Spring.

After Mubarak stepped down, parliamentary elections were held where the Muslim Brotherhood won a plurality of seats and Mohamed Morsi was later elected president.  Clinton visited Cairo and gave Morsi the blessing of the United States.  Morsi was later ousted in a military coup and was tried and sentenced to 20 years in prison for atrocities committed by his Muslim Brotherhood brethren.

In the aftermath of the Egyptian debacle, Clinton tried to distance herself from the actual events by claiming she stressed an orderly transition of power from Mubarak to his successor but was overruled by Obama.  She claimed she did not want to see a long time US ally being pushed out of the way without input from two other key Middle East allies- Jordan and Israel.

Likewise, in Syria it is reported that between 2005 and 2010 the State Department funneled over $12 million to opposition forces to Assad’s regime.  They also financed Syrian exiles in Britain to create a radio station that beamed into Syria.  Beginning in 2006, a handful of Syrian activists were trained by the State Department in cyber-activism.  In 2011, one such activist, Ausama Monajed, was featured in a film called, “How to Start a Revolution.”  Monejad worked closely with the Middle East Partnership Initiative which, in turn, worked with embassies in foreign countries, particularly Syria and Libya where USAID was banned.

Next: Clinton shenanigans in Libya- it is not all about Benghazi