Home Page
 
31 Jan 11

The Otpor Connection in Egypt

Florian Bieber

When I was following some tweets on Egypt, I was struck when I came across the symbol of Otpor. Subsequently I noticed that a number of protesters also using the Otpor symbol.

The obvious question is whether this use of symbols was coincidental and some movements or protesters in Egypt were just inspired by Otpor or whether there are stronger links.

A number of Serbian news sources of varying quality (Alo, Vesti Online) have now published articles suggesting that former Otpor activists have been training some opposition groups, including interviews with anonymous former Otpor members and the Serbian embassy.

The main group in question seems to be April 6, launched first as a facebook group. The group has currently over 87,000 members and has been active for nearly three years already.

According to recently released wikileaks documents, the group appears to have enjoyed some support from the US government, but the assessment of the US state department interloctutor in late 2008 is telling: The 6 April representative “offered no roadmap of concrete steps toward April 6′s highly unrealistic goal of replacing the current regime with a parliamentary democracy prior to the 2011 presidential elections.

Most opposition parties and independent NGOs work toward achieving tangible, incremental reform within the current political context, even if they may be pessimistic about their chances of success.

xxx wholesale rejection of such an approach places him outside this mainstream of opposition politicians and activists.” It seems like recent events have shown that the assessment of the group was more astute than the US state department.

Clearly, the main inspiration for the protests came from Tunisia, not Serbia, but the Otpor connection is telling for two reasons: First, it demonstrates that pro-democracy movements are linked across continents and lessons are learned.

Second, the wikileaks cable shows that the US state department was in communication with opposition to the Mubarak regime already in 2008. It thus seems simplistic to accuse the government of just propping up Mubarak without listening to alternatives.

The Otpor connection also suggests that there was at least some level of financial support for opposition groups from the US, even if it wasn’t the administration directly.

This blog was originally published on http://fbieber.wordpress.com/2011/01/31/the-otpor-connection-in-egypt/

Dr Florian Bieber is Professor for Southeast European Studies at the University of Graz.

Talk about it!

blog comments powered by Disqus

Premium Selection

hopes-for-reunited-sarajevo-kindled-by-youth-olympics-12-07-2017
14 Dec 17

Youth Olympics Kindle Hopes of Unity for Sarajevo

The Bosnian capital Sarajevo became divided from the mostly Serb-populated East Sarajevo because of the war, but they are now preparing to hold the 2019 European Youth Olympics Festival together.

homecoming-kosovo-serbs-face-an-uncertain-future-12-11-2017
14 Dec 17

Homecoming Kosovo Serbs Face an Uncertain Future

The secrecy surrounding a newly-built settlement in northern Kosovo highlights the problems facing Serbs who have returned to Kosovo after the war – and how they need security and jobs as well as houses.

08 Dec 17

Skiing Serbia: The Highs and the Lows

Latest News from the Balkans

13 Dec 17

Serbian Court Delays Srebrenica Massacre Trial

13 Dec 17

Support for EU Grows Again in Moldova

13 Dec 17

Subway Train Murder Shocks Romania