From Suharto to Mubarak: History Repeats Itself?
President Suharto of Indonesia was deposed following mass protests in May 1998.
The Western media in chorus pointed to “democratization”: the “King of Java” had been deposed by mass protests, much in the same way as Hosni Mubarak, described by today’s media as “The Pharaoh of Egypt”.
The 1997 Asian Crisis
The 1997 Asia financial crisis which served to impoverish millions of people was instigated by institutional speculators. It was a process of deliberate market manipulation. It consisted in destabilizing national currencies, through “short selling”.
The Indonesian rupiah was destabilized, food prices skyrocketed, real wages collapsed by more than fifty percent. Nike workers in export manufacturing were receiving $45 a month before the crisis. In the wake of the devaluation of the rupiah, their wages plummeted to less than $20 a month.
The May 1998 protest movement against president Suharto was triggered by widespread poverty and social inequality resulting from the IMF’s deadly “economic medicine” imposed both prior and in the wake of the Asian crisis.
On May 13, 1998, the shooting of six students at Trisakti University in Jakarta led to demands for the resignation of president Suharto, who had occupied the presidency for 31 years.
In a commentary published in the Irish Times in May 1998, Global Research author Finian Cunningham addressed the euphoria of the Western media, which portrayed Suharto as the “The King of Java deposed by his people” (See Irish Times, May 22nd 1998)
The top brass of both the Indonesian and Egyptian military and intelligence apparatus were trained and groomed in America, at the same military academies. Both Mubarak and Suharto were installed by Washington.
Both regimes and their military committed atrocities against their people. Both leaders served to undermine post-colonial nationalism.
The 1965 CIA sponsored Massacre
In 1965, Major General Suharto instrumented a CIA sponsored massacre of more than half a million members and supporters (including family members) of the Communist Party of Indonesia. The massacre was implemented in coordination with the US embassy: the ultimate objective was to weaken and unseat the nationalist Sukarno government which had the backing of the Communist Party.
Air Force Marshall Hosni Mubarak, in a different context, served a similar role in the transition from the nationalist Nasser-Sadat period. He became Vice-President in 1975 and was installed as president in the wake of the assassination of Anwar Sadat in 1981.
Declassified documents confirm the extent of the US sponsored massacre in Indonesia:.
Regime Change in Indonesia
The atmosphere in Jakarta in May 1998 was one of jubilation, very similar to what is now occurring in Egypt. Suharto was replaced on the orders of Washington by his Vice President B. J. Habibie.
The outcome of Suharto’s demise was continuity. To this date, the military machine combined with a ruthless form of capitalist development prevails in Indonesia. The country is rich in natural resources. It is an oil producing economy. Yet poverty and unemployment are rampant. The country’s wealth is appropriated by foreign conglomerates with the support of the military machine and police apparatus.
Both Suharto and Mubarak were America’s henchmen recruited from the ranks of the military. They are disposable leaders. When they are no longer needed, they are replaced. In the words of Finian Cunningham in relation to Indonesia (1998), “the country’s military machine continues to operate with brutal efficiency…”
Democratic elections took place in 1999, Abdurrahman Wahid was appointed president by the Parliament with Sukarno’s daughter Megawati as Vice President. Wahid was later impeached. The illusion of a populist government prevailed with Megawati as a figurehead president (2001-2004).
Meanwhile, the role of the military and its links to the US have remained unscathed. In 2004, a (former) career military commander with close ties to the Pentagon, trained at Fort Benning and the US Army Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono became president. He was reelected in 2009.
Egypt: US Sponsored Coup d’Etat?
In Egypt, following Mubarak’s demise, the military machine prevails. Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, Egypt’s defense minister, commander in chief of the Armed Forces and since February 11, 2011 head of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, is the de facto Head of State, the Vice presidency is held by Omar Suleiman. Both men are US appointees.
Field Marshall Tantawi and US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates
Tantawi has developed a longstanding relationship to the US military, at the highest levels, from the time when he was in command of allied forces during the Gulf war in 1991. Ahmed Shafik, a former commander in Chief of the Air Force occupies the position of Prime Minister.
The military not only has the mandate to implement democracy, several opposition leaders including Mohammed Al Baradei have called upon the Egyptian population to support the military.
The US supported civil society opposition (which includes Kefaya, the April 6 Movement) is in liaison with both the military and the US embassy. They are reported to have “met with senior members of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces”. “The protesters said the generals voiced their “sincere intention to preserve the gains of the revolution.”” ( Egypt’s opposition fights itself as army tightens control – World Wires – MiamiHerald.com, February 14, 2011)
Sincere intention? Both Suleiman and Tantawi, now in charge of “the transition to democracy” on behalf of the protest movement, are Washington’s new military henchmen. So much for democracy. Both men are responsible for carrying out torture on behalf of the CIA under the agency’s “extraordinary rendition” program.
While one set of opposition figures battled itself, a group of seven young, middle-class democracy activists said that they had met with senior members of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces. The protesters said the generals voiced their “sincere intention to preserve the gains of the revolution.”
Washington is the puppetmaster, which controls both the military machine as well as Egypt’s civil society opposition. The terms of “negotiation” between the representatives of the protest movement and the military have already been determined in Washington DC.
The US funded civil society and youth organizations have betrayed the grassroots movement.
On a personal note. It is through this 1998 article in the Irish Times on Indonesia that I first established contact with Finian Cunningham, who is now a regular contributor to Global Research. ]
Michel Chossudovsky, Bandung, Indonesia, 15 February 2011
|Global Research Articles by Michel Chossudovsky|