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Saturday 29 January 2011

Over Egging The Egyptian Pudding

Today’s Maily Telegraph brings its readers an exclusive from Egypt, and it looks at first glance as if the USA has been giving support to those behind the current uprising. However, a closer look at the article, “Egypt protests: America’s secret backing for rebel leaders behind uprising”, shows no such thing.

One person now detained by Egyptian security forces attended a State Department organised get-together three years ago, and was later taken less than seriously by US diplomats in Cairo. But that doesn’t make much of a story, so the Telegraph – which has run the item under the by-lines of no less than three reporters – has dug out one of the cables released by WikiLeaks in order, shall we say, to sex it up a little.

The individual concerned attended the Alliance of Youth Movements Summit in late 2008. How subversive is that? Well, not very: the blurb for the following year’s gathering tells that its purpose is “to explore ways to advance grassroots movements seeking positive social change through 21st Century technology and tools”.

In other words, it’s a way of promoting technology along with the implicit promotion of democracy. USA promotes change through democracy and technology? Shock horror, film at 11. And the supposed “backing” for this person cannot have been too great, as when he suggested that he would be unable to attend a meeting in Washington DC through lack of funds, the US embassy in Cairo didn’t give any assistance.

Moreover, that same embassy advised that an alleged movement to bring democracy to Egypt by 2011 was “unrealistic”, that “we are doubtful of this claim”, it was “not supported by the mainstream opposition”, and the person concerned was “outside this mainstream of opposition politicians and activists”.

All of that suggests that the US Government and its agencies did not take this individual very seriously, and did not give him any further support. The impression is given that the Telegraph’s WikiLeaks cable is among those that were not revealing enough to interest the Guardian.

And how clandestine a gathering is the Alliance of Youth Movements Summit? Check out the list of sponsors for the 2009 event: Facebook, Google, MTV, PepsiCo, MySpace and YouTube. Real MI5 stuff. No, this is another example of talking up a story to fit an agenda.

No wonder it’s nicknamed the Maily Telegraph.

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