The first mention of the Academy of Change (AOC) in relation to the Egyptian Revolution of 25 January, came in a Reuters report published on 13 April 2011, under the title of “Inside the Egyptian Revolution”.
In the report, Reuters stated that the Academy of Change was founded in London in 2005 by Hisham Morsy, Wael Adel, and Adel’s cousin Ahmed Adel, and that the Academy moved to Qatar later on. Reuters claims that the AOC was involved in training Egyptian dissidents (Kefaya and April 6 Youth among others) ever since 2005. Reuters also claims that the Academy is one of those involved in the planning of the events that took place Tahrir, and the training of the revolutionaries, through a vague character with the name “Saad Bahaar“.
Reuters report wrote:
“Inspired by the way Serbian group Otpor had brought down Slobodan Milosevic through non-violent protests in 2000, the trio studied previous struggles. One of their favorite thinkers was Gene Sharp, a Boston-based academic who was heavily influenced by Mahatma Gandhi. The group had set up a webpage in 2004 to propagate civil disobedience ideas in Arabic.
At first, the three young Egyptians’ activities were purely theoretical. But in November 2005, Wael Adel came to Cairo to give a three-day training session on civil disobedience. In the audience were about 30 members of Kefaya, an anti-Mubarak protest group whose name means “enough” in Arabic. Kefaya had gained prominence during the September 2005 presidential elections which Mubarak won by a landslide. During these protests, they had been attacked by thugs and some women members had been stripped naked. Bahaar joined Adel on the course and his career as an underground trainer in non-violent activism was born. Read more…
Question: what do the so-called “colour” revolutions – Georgia (2003) and Ukraine (2004), and
the rest – have in common with the uprising that drove Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak from power? Answer: the great majority of the people involved avoided committing acts of violence; and the organisers took advice from a young Serbianrevolutionary called Srdja Popovic and his colleagues.
For many of us, the way that one deeply embedded Middle Eastern dictatorship after another has collapsed this year is a baffling mystery. But for Popovic, tall, lean and brimming with vitality, it was no great surprise. “How do we see political power?” he asks. “Mainly we see power as the state wants us to, as a monolith. So we believe power is fixed; and nothing can change except the people at the top.” But at an age when he was still tender enough to do something with the information, Popovic (pictured right) discovered that power is not like that. “The true nature of power is very different. In a society, power can change very swiftly. It can become fragile and can be redistributed, especially in non-democratic regimes… Ultimately, power in society comes from the obedience of the people. And those people – each of whom is individually a small source of power – can change their minds, and refuse to follow commands.” Read more…
The Centre for Applied Non Violent Actions and Strategies (CANVAS) is a non-profit, non-governmental, educational institution focused on the use of nonviolent conflict to promote human rights and democracy. It was founded in 2004 by Srdja Popovic and Slobodan Djinovic, former members of the Serbian youth resistance movement, Otpor!, which played a key role in the successful overthrow of Serbian dictator, Slobodan Milosevic in October 2000. Drawing upon the Serbian experience, CANVAS seeks to educate pro-democracy activists around the world in what it regards as the universal principles for success in nonviolent struggle.
Established in Belgrade, CANVAS has worked with pro-democracy activists from over 50 countries, including Iran, Zimbabwe, Burma, Venezuela, Belarus, Palestine, Western Sahara, West Papua, Eritrea, Belarus, Azerbaijan and Tonga and, recently, Tunisia and Egypt. It works only with groups with no history of violence and only in response to requests for assistance.
CANVAS’ training and methodology has reportedly been successfully applied by groups in Georgia (2003), Ukraine (2004), Lebanon (2005), The Maldives (2008) and Egypt (2011).
The core of CANVAS’s work is rather to spread the word of “people power” to the world than to achieve victories against one dictator or another. Our next big mission should obviously be to explain to the world what a powerful tool nonviolent struggle is when it comes to achieving freedom, democracy and human rights. Read more…
Otpor! (Serbian Cyrillic: Отпор!, English: Resistance!) was a civic youth movement that existed as such from 1998 until 2003 in Serbia, employing nonviolent struggle against the regime of Slobodan Milošević as their course of action. In the course of two-year nonviolent struggle against Milosevic, Otpor spread across Serbia and attracted more than 70,000 supporters. They were credited for their role in the successful overthrow of Slobodan Milošević on 5 October 2000.
Otpor boasted tremendous leverage in the months following Milosevic’s resignation, but failed to focus it into permanent political or social structure in the new transitional and more democratic reality of Serbia. An intensely heterogeneous movement of leftists and conservatives, monarchists and republicans, nationalists and cosmopolitans, after Milosevic’s departure, Otpor had lost the most important glue that bound it together. It was unclear whether the movement should continue as a watch-dog political party or just dissolve after its 2000 triumph. Acting against Milošević earned them wide praise, but when the time came to channel popular support into a clear ideological position, a definite disconnect occurred. In short, it was always clear what Otpor was against, but it was less clear what this movement represented in a new political era.
When three years later Otpor! eventually emerged as a political party, it failed to resonate with voters and received less than 2 percent of the national vote. This was not helped by wide media exposure of broad overt US support for the regime change in Serbia.
Revelation of U.S. involvement
Information started appearing about substantial outside assistance Otpor received leading up to the revolution. Otpor was a recipient of substantial funds from U.S. government-affiliated organizations such as the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), International Republican Institute (IRI), and US Agency for International Development (USAID).
In a November 2000 article from the New York Times Magazine, Times journalist Roger Cohen talked to various officials from US based organizations about the extent of American assistance received by Otpor. Paul B. McCarthy from the Washington-based NED stated that Otpor received the majority of US$3 million spent by NED in Serbia from September 1998 until October 2000. At the same time, McCarthy himself held a series of meetings with Otpor’s leaders in Podgorica, as well as Szeged and Budapest. Read more…
Jared Cohen, an American Jew, (born November 24, 1981 in Weston, Connecticut) is the Director of Google Ideas, an Adjunct Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. Previously he served as a member of the Secretary of State’s Policy Planning Staff and a close advisor to both Condoleezza Rice and later Hillary Clinton. Initially brought in by Condoleezza Rice as the youngest member in history, he was one of the few people kept on under Hillary Clinton. In this capacity, he focused on counter-terrorism, counter-radicalization, Middle East/South Asia, Youth, and Technology.
According to New York Times Magazine, Cohen was one of the principal architects of what became known as “21st century statecraft.” Prior to his work at the State Department, Cohen received his BA from Stanford University and his M.Phil in International Relations from Oxford University, where he studied as a Rhodes Scholar. Read more…