Socialist International finally kicks out Mubarak

The Socialist International -- the global federation of center-left parties that includes Britain's Labour Party and the French Socialist Party -- finally got around to expelling Hosni Mubarak's National Democratic Party this week, after giving Tunisia's RCD the boot last month. In a letter to the NDP, the International's Secretary General writes:

The current massive calls being made  today by the citizens of Egypt  for freedoms and
rights point to the dramatic failure of the Egyptian government to deliver to its people
and to the failings of the NDP to live up to its promises. The use of violence, with scores
dead and injured, is totally incompatible with the policies and principles of any social
democratic party anywhere in the world.  

Consequently, we consider that a party in government that does not listen, that does
not move  and that does not immediately initiate a process of meaningful  change  in
these circumstances, cannot be a member of the Socialist International.
We are, as of today, ceasing the membership of the NDP,  however we  remain
determined  to cooperate with all the democrats in Egypt striving to achieve an open,
democratic, inclusive and secular state. 

The obvious point here is that it's a bit rich for the International to suddenly discover that the NDP isn't democratic -- when it joined the federation in 1989, Egypt had already been under emergency rule for nine years. For that matter, it hasn't even been particularly socialist in recent years.

The International may want to consider a thorough housecleaning of its membership list. I notice, for instance, that still-refusing-to-step-down President Laurent Gbagbo's Ivorian Popular Front  is still listed as a member.


Human rights analyst: Egyptian government sent thugs to attack the demonstrators

Speaking by phone from Cairo, Human Rights Watch's Joe Stork told me that he is alarmed by the U.S. media coverage portraying the clashes on the streets as spats between "rival protesters" -- citizens who have two different visions of the future of Egypt: 

"These are not rival factions. This is brown-shirt tactics. This is the government sending in people -- whether they are paid or not is a very subsidiary question -- sending in thugs armed with knives, stones, sticks, to attack the pro-democracy protesters, who were there in an entirely peaceful manner."

Asked how we can be sure that the pro-government crowds had been sent by the government, Stork cited several bits of evidence, having been in Tahrir Square when the fighting erupted this morning: People he spoke to there mentioned young men being paid as much as $500 to fight for the regime; others who were caught looting were later found to have IDs indicating that they were members of the Ministry of the Interior-controlled security service. 

Were this a rival protest, they could easily have gone to one of the many other public squares in Egypt. Instead, the Army began "letting people in [to the square] today who had mayhem on their minds." "Any one of these things is circumstantial," he explained, "but altogether" the conclusion is clear.