The Otpor connection in Egypt

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.


12 Responses to The Otpor connection in Egypt

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention The Otpor connection in Egypt | Florian Bieber --

  2. Sherrill Stroschein says:

    Check out ICNC, the International Center for Nonviolent Conflict.

    • Jack DuVall says:

      Let me help you “check out” the International Center on Nonviolent Conflict. We’re a private operating educational foundation that is legally prohibited from either receiving any funding from governments or providing funding to any organizations for their own operations. All we do is disseminate knowledge about the history and practice of nonviolent resistance, through films, books, print materials, digital platforms, workshops for educators and journalists, and seminars and institutes for others who wish to learn about civil resistance. Feel free to go to our website and download whatever you wish.

  3. Florian Bieber says:

    The New York Times published a long article on the support by former Otpor Activists and there is also good Economist blog post on the crisis in the Balkans and the Middle East links (and differences).

  4. Florian Bieber says:

    Here’s another article on the topic with RFE

  5. Pingback: Non-violent revolution 2.0: Purpose, discipline & marketing

  6. Pingback: ‘Revolución 2.0′, pero no distribuida. « Altea te quiero verde's Weblog

  7. Pingback: Born Again Golden Age: Hippies of the World, Unite « Paradimentia

  8. Pingback: Otpor! « sarasolim

  9. zmoliu says:

    6 april is just inspired no strong connection

  10. Pingback: Otpor and April 6 Movement: NGOs role in Arab Spring in Tunisia and Egypt – Post-911 Century

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