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Middle East: Discussion

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Middle East: Discussion
[url="http://www.dailypioneer.com/317285/Arab-world-won%E2%80%99t-be-same-again.html"]Arab world won’t be same again[/url]



The ‘revolutions’ in Tunisia and Egypt have sent out shockwaves rattling entrenched autocratic regimes. They also threaten to radically alter the power equation between the Arab palace and the Arab street. Kanchan Gupta analyses the possible impact of Tahrir Square protests across Arabia



Quote:The Arab palace will never be the same ever again. Events over the past month, first in the Tunisian Republic and then in the Arab Republic of Egypt, have radically altered the power equation across Arabia from the North Atlantic coast to the Persian Gulf. It may not be immediately, palpably evident in most of the 22 Arab states in the Maghreb and the Mashreq, but the pulse of Arabia now beats in the Arab street. Tunisia’s ‘Jasmine Revolution’ and Egypt’s ‘Lotus Revolution’, both triggered by hectic campaigning by tech-savvy young men and women on Facebook and Twitter, often armed with nothing more than a smart phone, have sent out shockwaves that have rattled the palaces of Kings, Presidents and Emirs and show no signs of abating even as the uprising by Misris reached its denouement on Friday with President Hosni Mubarak resigning from the office he held for 30 years and handing over power to the Supreme Council of the Egyptian military headed by General Mohamed Hussein Tantawi.



Take a look at the map of Arabia. At the far end, west of Suez, is the Islamic Republic of Mauritania. It had a civilian Government of sorts, hugely corrupt, till August 2008 when it was felled by a military coup led by General Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz. A year later, Gen Aziz stepped down as the chief of Army and called presidential elections in April 2009. Predictably, he swept the polls and has since transmogrified into a dictator. Beneath the deceptive calm festers poverty amid illiteracy; together, coupled with the absence of space for political dissent, they make the ground fertile for radical Islamism to strike roots and flourish.



The Kingdom of Morocco has been fortunate enough to have an enlightened constitutional monarchy with an elected Parliament. But King Mohammed VI, who assumed the throne in 1999, wields enormous executive power and can issue diktats that are treated as law. In brief, real executive authority vests with the King. Morocco’s society is pock-marked by widespread poverty and illiteracy; women have few rights. President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, hand-picked by the Army in 1999, heads a military-backed regime in the Democratic and Popular Republic of Algeria with a one-party system that disallows — and ruthlessly puts down — opposition in any form. Algeria, too, faces widespread poverty though literacy rates are high, which has added to the number of educated unemployed raging against the regime. Young Algerians are seething in anger; the absence of a free Press only serves to fuel it further.



In the Great Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, Col Muammar Gaddafi remains firmly in power which he seized in 1969. His dictatorship brooks neither dissent nor opposition. Gaddafi’s flamboyant and lavish lifestyle is often in the news abroad; at home, it’s grinding poverty for most Libyans. In the Republic of Sudan, Omar Al Bashir presides over a single-party regime notorious for committing gross violations of human rights and a country torn apart by civil war. After a recent referendum, Sudan is likely to split into two countries. This, in turn, has led to street protests in Khartoum, with most of the protesters owing allegiance to radical Islamist groups.



In the Syrian Arab Republic, President Bashar al-Assad rules with a mailed fist. Its one-party system automatically rules out the presence of other contenders for power. The ‘presidential democracy’ in the Republic of Yemen is a sham that has kept Ali Abdullah Saleh in power since 1978 and pushed the country deeper into poverty, social unrest and radical Islamism-inspired terrorism.



The House of Saud has ruled the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia since 1931. It has neither the inclination nor the time for parliamentary democracy or individual rights and freedom. Leave alone political parties, there are no organisations or unions in this country which lies at the heart of Arabia. And then there are the smaller kingdoms and emirates, ranging from Qatar to the UAE. One country that stands out is the Sultanate of Oman, ruled by Sultan Qaboos al Said who has been on the throne since 1970. He is enlightened, looks after his people, is well-loved and has built an economy that is strong and resilient although rising inflation is beginning to cause resentment among the less privileged.



Now let us look at what is common between these countries, apart from entrenched ageing rulers, who variously describe themselves as Presidents, Kings and Emirs, and the elite who live in opulent luxury while the masses wallow in appalling poverty. From the Arab palace, the world beyond perfumed gardens looks like a glittering fairytale land. From the Arab street, the world looks shabby and grey: Deprivation and denial are the twin leitmotifs. Each of the Arab states has a sizeable population aged below 30; many of them are unemployed; and, most were born after their rulers came to power. They are impatient for change, they want to participate in free and fair elections and access to the World Wide Web has helped them transcend the limits on information imposed by state-controlled media. The young are from the Arab street and hate the Arab palace, identified with limitless corruption and criminal suppression of the masses, with a passion never seen before. The socio-economic pyramid is being sought to be toppled. The base refuses to bear the burden of the tip any longer.



Another common feature shared by these sham republics and bogus kingdoms is the sudden, rapid collapse of a welfare system that was devised and patronised by the Arab palace to keep the masses on the Arab street satisfied, if not happy. Heavily subsidised food, inexpensive services, easy access to public sector jobs that paid subsistence wages and old age pensions were meant to generate a sense of gratitude towards the rais. It was a strategy that worked so long as there was money in the coffers. With Arab regimes, like Governments elsewhere in the world, running out of money, subsidies, jobs and pensions are fast disappearing or are being severely pruned. The clumsy attempt by these regimes to graft economic liberalisation on a system that till recently abhorred anything but the public sector which was either owned by the palace or the state has recoiled horribly. Job cuts and freeze on employment by Governments, such as they are, have added to the plight of the masses, especially the young, and food inflation has added to their woes. For instance, in Egypt, where defiant young men and women have forced the collapse of the Mubarak regime, unemployment is as high as 25 per cent; food inflation is running at 19 per cent; and, rising income disparity has made poverty even starker.



It is against this background that we should view the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt. President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali of Tunisia chose not to put up a fight: He fled his country (in an aircraft laden with accumulated gold) and an interim Government has taken charge. President Hosni Mubarak, on the other hand, dug in his heels and refused to budge from either his post or his palace till Friday. Before the day was over, his tottering regime collapsed. And that could trigger a domino effect whose consequences would be deeply unsettling for the region and the world, not least because the status quo would no longer obtain.



Already we are witnessing street protests in Jordan and Yemen where thousands have been turning out to demand political reforms. In Jordan, King Abdullah has been spared popular anger till now but in Yemen the masses want Ali Abdullah Saleh out. Abdelaziz Bouteflika is gearing up to face massive rallies: 25,000 policemen were deployed to restrain protesters in Algiers on Saturday. There are reports that Bahrain is in ferment and protests there could take a nasty turn with Shias, who constitute the majority, demanding the ouster of a Sunni minority regime. A massive protest march is planned for Monday. Iraq, yet to attain any degree of political, economic and social stability, could erupt in street protests too with opponents of the incumbent Government seizing upon this opportunity to try and dislodge it, possibly through violent means, and usher a radical Islamist, pro-Iran regime.



It’s not for nothing that the Arab rulers are alarmed by the developments in Tunisia and more so in Egypt. The ‘Jasmine Revolution’ in Tunisia, with an eighth of Egypt’s population, could have been waved away as an aberration, but the roar from Tahrir Square is too deafening to be ignored. The response has been at three levels.



Alert and intelligent rulers have responded with promises of political reforms: Jordan’s King Abdullah has sacked his Prime Minister and appointed a new team to address popular grievances; Kuwait’s Al Sabbah family has let it be known it is not averse to more freedom and democracy but, as a precautionary measure, has banned all gatherings, rallies and marches after Friday prayers. Bashar al-Assad, who instructed his security forces to crush an incipient copy-cat protest in Damascus earlier this month, has now ordered the ban on Facebook and YouTube to be lifted, making what would be considered in Syria a significant concession. Ali Abdullah Saleh has promised protesters in Yemen that he will neither contest the 2013 elections, nor field his son as a candidate.



Second, the rulers seem to have suddenly realised that perhaps turning the welfare tap off and cutting down on entitlements were not such good ideas; liberalisation and market economy may attract investors but a slothful system ensures that benefits don’t immediately follow. Arab socialism was about patronage; Arab capitalism is about cronyism — the first at least helped silence critics; the latter has made critics shriller. So, as if on cue, the regimes have promptly decided to enhance social welfare spending, regardless of the long-term impact on their near-empty treasuries. For instance, Jordan’s Budget could end up funding higher salaries and pensions, leaving little for anything else. On Friday, hours before Cairo fell to protesters, the ruler of Bahrain, King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa announced a $2,700 dole for each family, hoping to placate his subjects. Saudi Arabia, where a group of reformists has written to King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz seeking his permission to set up a political party, is no doubt flush with oil money, but it also has more people clamouring for dole than it did a decade ago: Two-thirds of its population is aged 30 and below; unemployment is at an alarming 10 per cent in a country with nine million expatriate workers; shooting inflation and falling incomes have shrunk its middle class base. Jordan, Bahrain, Kuwait and others could see their money running out fast if the enhanced payouts continue for too long.



Third, the Arab rulers are making efforts, no matter how feeble and ineffective they may be, to reach out to the Twitter and Facebook generation of bloggers. Prince Khalid al Faisal, the Governor of Mecca Province, did something extraordinary recently after heavy rains flooded Jeddah, leaving many dead and eliciting accusations of inefficiency on part of the city administration which was openly accused of being corrupt. He invited a group of five young men, including a blogger who had been sent to jail two years ago for raging against the palace, and briefed them about the ‘sincere measures’ taken by authorities, admitted lapses in tackling the situation and promised action against errant officials. Meeting over, he smiled and told the men: Do send our royal regards to the young people on Twitter.



At the same time, the men who rule Arabia are clever enough to realise that if push comes to shove, their palaces will collapse like castles built of sand. Hence, they want to keep both push and shove at bay, at least till such time they have put in place mechanisms to deal with uprisings similar to the one witnessed in Egypt. The best way to do so, they believed, would be to ensure the Mubarak regime did not fall. This was based on the assumption that if the man who had ruled Egypt for 30 years could somehow hang on to power and ride the storm, the collapse of the old order could be prevented and the domino effect stalled. So the Kings and Presidents, Sultans and Emirs rallied round to Mubarak’s aid. King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz grandly declared, “In case the US withdraws its financial support to Cairo, my kingdom will prop up Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s regime.” That was as much a declaration of support for Mubarak as a taunt to America for abandoning its staunch ally in his moment of crisis. In the end, neither solidarity nor support helped Mubarak retain power. As Egypt burst into celebrations, a bitter realisation began to sink in: If the US could abandon Mubarak, it could also say goodbye to others without allowing friendships of the past to weigh too heavily on its conscience.



Ironically, it is this perceived callous indifference of the US towards a beleaguered Mubarak in his last days in office that has left many flummoxed in Arabia. Egypt under the Mubarak dispensation, backed by the Army, was the best bet for peace in the region, especially in regard to Israel. It was also the best defence against the rise of radical Islamism whose practitioners see themselves as the alternative to incumbent Arab regimes. With Mubarak gone, the Muslim Brotherhood is preparing to make a dramatic appearance either through collaboration or alone in Egyptian politics; through Hamas, an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood, Islamists have seized power in Gaza; in Lebanon, the Hizbullah, which has toppled the Hariri Government and put into place a regime controlled by Islamists, increasingly and frighteningly calls the shots; in Tunisia, dormant Islamism has come alive after the long-exiled leader of the till recently outlawed Islamist party Ennahdha, Rachid Ghanouchi, made a triumphant return home; in Jordan, the Friday street protests are being led by Islamists sustained by the Ikhwan’s ideology; in Yemen, Islamists are waiting for the palace to fall under their assault; in Qatar, Bahrain and Kuwait, a deep undercurrent of radical Islamism is waiting to burst forth.



A gleeful Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has described the Egyptian uprising as the unleashing of an “Islamic wave”. His protégé and Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has described the Egyptian uprising and the collapse of the Mubarak regime exactly 32 years to the day of the fall of Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi on February 11, 1979, as the “emergence of a new Middle East that will doom Israel and break free of American interference”. The Islamic Republic of Iran has reason to rejoice. Despite it being a Shia country and not an Arab state, Iran sees itself as emerging as the most important player in Arabia by striking alliances with Islamists in the Maghreb and the Mashreq waiting in the wings to seize power: First through the ballot and then by aping the Iranian model of Islamic republicanism which is theocracy by another name and suppresses protest with the help of the notorious Revolutionary Guards and the gallows in state prisons as it did the massive demonstrations, as large, if not larger, than those in Egypt, against Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s brazen vote fraud in the last election. The Hamas and Hizbullah, the first Sunni and the second Shia, are heavily funded by Iran via Syria and this enables Tehran to wield considerable clout with both organisations. It also fetches Tehran considerable influence in Damascus.



In what the Americans refer to as the ‘Extended Middle East’, Sunni Arab states have long ceased to play a key role. The three countries that have emerged as major players are neither Arab nor Sunni. At one end we have Iran. There is Israel, a Jewish state, in the middle. And there is Turkey at the other end where the Islamist AKP has silently, slyly fashioned Atatürk ’s secular republic to increasingly reflect its faith-driven ideology. If the fall of the last pharaoh is followed by regimes toppling over in other Arab states, then the identity of West Asia will change forever — whether for better or worse is at the moment a matter of guess and conjecture. [color="#FF0000"]But Sunni Arabia, loosely tied by Arab nationalism, will virtually cease to exist; what will emerge is a pan-Islamist region with a near common political agenda driven by religious dogma and theocratic fanaticism. [/color]That’s a possibility the world must prepare to deal with in whichever way and form. Democracy, in the end, could lead to the legitimisation of cruel theocracy as an alternative to brutal autocracy. That’s an inbuilt risk which is often overlooked, if not ignored.



Ironically, rulers who have ruled in the name of Islam fear Islamism the most. That could be either because radicalism scares those who are wedded to the idea of stability, often enforced ruthlessly, or because it would reverse the long-established order with the ruled dominating the rulers. Till now the Arab palace loathed the Arab street and held it in contempt. Suddenly, the Arab palace has begun to fear the Arab street. And the Arab street has begun to sense that fear.



-- The writer spent three years in Cairo and has travelled extensively in the Maghreb and the Mashreq
  Reply
[url="http://apnews.myway.com/article/20110211/D9LAS3U00.html"]Analysis: Military coup was behind Mubarak's exit[/url]
  Reply
Quote:. [color="#FF0000"]But Sunni Arabia, loosely tied by Arab nationalism, will virtually cease to exist; what will emerge is a pan-Islamist region with a near common political agenda driven by religious dogma and theocratic fanaticism[/color].

They will try to form Caliphate.
  Reply
[url="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/africaandindianocean/algeria/8320772/Algeria-shuts-down-internet-and-Facebook-as-protest-mounts.html"]Algeria shuts down internet and Facebook as protest mounts[/url]

Internet providers were shut down and Facebook accounts deleted across Algeria on Saturday as thousands of pro-democracy demonstrators were arrested in violent street demonstrations.
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Why US support all this revolutions?
  Reply
[quote name='HareKrishna' date='13 February 2011 - 03:54 PM' timestamp='1297592164' post='110733']

Why US will support all this islamic revolutions? They want to spread radical islam?They need new enemies to justify the 600 billion military budget?

[/quote]



Lack of understanding of Arab/Islam history. They think they just produce oil and spend money like drunken fools in west.

Same problem is with Indian fools, even after 1000 year of slavery and brutal rule, some Indians still talk high about them. India's appointed PM had assigned Himanu grave as was must visit site for foreign dignitaries, they are happy to show brutal ruler and always praise their master for votes.
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[url="http://www.cnn.com/2011/WORLD/meast/02/13/egypt.revolution/index.html?hpt=T1&iref=BN1"]Egypt's military dissolves parliament, suspends constitution[/url]
Quote:Cairo, Egypt (CNN) -- Egypt's military dissolved parliament and will run the country for six months or until elections are held, it said in a statement Sunday, two days after President Hosni Mubarak resigned.



It is suspending the constitution and will appoint a committee to propose changes to it, the statement said, adding that the public will then get to vote on the amended constitution.

The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces can issue new laws during the transition period, according to the statement on state television.
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[url="http://www.examiner.com/foreign-policy-in-national/mubarak-life-death-state-germany-hospital"]Mubarak in life/death state in Germany hospital[/url]
Quote:We have learned through foreign sources that Hosni Mubarak was flown this morning to a Baden hospital in Germany after falling into a coma. The report was confirmed this morning by Bahrain daily Al Wasat who indicated that just prior to leaving for his resort in Sharm-el-Sheikh, Mubarak became comatose.



Apparently, prior to delivering his last speech on national Egyptian television, we also learned that Mubarak had fainted. This is the explanation given for the delay between the announcement of his anticipated speech and his actual appearance several hours later.

His fragile state of health was also cited as the reason for which the army did not insist that he leave earlier.



Beginning on January 25th, 2011, Egypt witnessed massive popular protests calling for the end of its dictatorship regime, starting with the resignation of Mubarak
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[url="http://www.upi.com/Top_News/World-News/2011/02/13/Bahrains-king-gives-out-cash-to-families/UPI-97001297601681/"]Bahrain's king gives out cash to families[/url]
Quote:MANAMA, Bahrain, Feb. 13 (UPI) -- In an effort to stave off anti-government protests, Bahrain's king has paid $2,650 to every family "as a sign of appreciation," an official statement said.



"On the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the National Action Charter and as a sign of appreciation for the people of Bahrain who have approved it, King Hamad bin Issa al-Khalifa has ordered 1,000 dinars ($2,650) to be paid to every Bahraini family," BNA, the country's official news agency, said.



Pants are on fire. <img src='http://www.india-forum.com/forums/public/style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/biggrin.gif' class='bbc_emoticon' alt='Big Grin' />
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John Bolton speech in CPAC -2011 on Egypt and ...



http://www.therightscoop.com/john-bolton...-president
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[media]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V9sMo-LTdSc&feature=player_embedded[/media]
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Bahrain protesters urge more pressure on rulers

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110216/ap_o...n_protests
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1. news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110215/ap_on_re_eu/eu_italy_migrants_4

Quote:Tunisians thank Italy as EU responds to exodus

By PAOLO SANTALUCIA, Associated Press Paolo Santalucia, Associated Press – Tue Feb 15, 1:51 pm ET



[photo caption:] AP - A Carabinieri police officer walks past migrants as they wait to board a ship towards Porto Empedocle, in Sicily, where they will be taken for documen AP – A Carabinieri police officer walks past migrants as they wait to board a ship towards Porto Empedocle, …



By PAOLO SANTALUCIA, Associated Press Paolo Santalucia, Associated Press – Tue Feb 15, 1:51 pm ET



LAMPEDUSA, Italy – Tunisian migrants marched through this tiny Sicilian island on Tuesday to thank Italy for welcoming them, but the government and EU moved to stem the exodus of North African migrants to Europe.



The migrant flight was prompted by clashes between police and protesters in Tunisia that forced its president, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, to flee to Saudi Arabia on Jan. 14, and inspired the uprisings in Egypt and beyond.



Some 2,000 of the 5,337 Tunisians who arrived in recent days remained on Lampedusa, a tiny island with a permanent population of about 6,000 that is closer to Africa than the Italian mainland, awaiting transfer to immigrant holding centers elsewhere in Italy.



"We want to thank all the Italians and the people from Lampedusa because they gave housing and food to 5,000 people and they were very nice to us," said Zawhir Kermiti, a 32-year-old who was one of a few dozen people who marched Tuesday.
He and others arrived in Sicily in fishing boats from Tunisia.



Overnight, Italian authorities intercepted a boat of 32 people believed to be from Egypt off the coast of Ragusa on Sicily, indicating that the exodus was not confined to Tunisia alone.



"The institutional earthquake that took place in Egypt could provoke significant immigration flows," Italian Interior Minister Roberto Maroni warned Tuesday. "Europe cannot remain indifferent: it must take a strong and decisive political decision."



Italy has arrested 26 people who operated the boats and seized 41 vessels. Identity checks have found some of the arrivals were criminals who escaped from Tunisian jails in the chaos, Maroni said.




He spoke at a news conference in the Sicilian city of Catania, where he and Premier Silvio Berlusconi toured a NATO military residence with a capacity of 7,000 people that the government is considering turning into a "village" for possible asylum-seekers.



Lampedusa Mayor Bernardino Rubeis has said that the Tunisians have mostly been respectful and that the situation is under control.



"There is no security emergency because they are free to walk around the island, but they are respecting our territory, not creating any trouble," he said.



On Tuesday, many of new arrivals awaited ferries to take them from Lampedusa to immigrant holding centers elsewhere in Sicily or on the Italian mainland.



"It took 30 hours from Djerba to here. It wasn't very dangerous. We were 260 people on this boat," said Samir, a 24-year-old Tunisian who asked not to give his last name. Djerba is an island located off the coast of Tunisia.



He spoke as he and others picked through the wreckage of their fishing boats that have been hauled out of the harbor and piled in a sort of boat cemetery near a soccer field. Among the debris in the boats are blankets, gloves and cell phone battery chargers.



No boats arrived overnight on Lampedusa, primarily because of poor weather.



But Maroni, who has said the exodus was of "biblical" proportions, said he had no illusions that the onslaught was over.



"So far, the (Tunisian) border controls have stopped four boats and turned them back, but 47 more escaped the controls," Maroni said.



He said he planned to meet with his counterparts in France, Spain, Malta, Greece and Cyprus in the coming days to decide on further immediate measures to take. He said Italy alone needed some euro100 million from EU funds to confront the emergency over the next three months.



EU Commission spokesman Michele Cercone said the EU had received a letter from Italy listing its needs and that the EU was looking to give Italy aid through its refugee and border fund.



On Monday, the EU announced a euro258 million ($347 million) aid package to Tunisia from now until 2013, with euro17 million ($22.9 million) of that to be delivered immediately. EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, visiting Tunisia, said the funds were a gift, not a loan.



Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini met with Tunisian authorities Monday night in Tunis and concurred that Tunisia was responsible for patrolling its coast but that European border agency Frontex should beef up its presence in international waters. Tunisia had strongly rejected an offer by Maroni for Italian police contingents to help patrol the coast.



EU Home Affairs Commissioner Cecilia Malmstroem late Tuesday declared the exodus a "matter of importance for the whole EU," and said Frontex had sent two experts to the scene.



Frattini said Italy cannot accept everyone who arrives, but at the same time must help Tunisia and other North African countries create conditions so young people don't feel the need to flee.



"We can't package them up and send them back home," Frattini said Tuesday. "We have to help them reintegrate themselves" with economic help.



After his visit, Tunisia's TAP news agency reported that Italy would provide euro5 million ($6.8 million) in emergency aid to Tunisia, as well as radar equipment and patrol boats to the Tunisian military, and offer a euro100 million ($135 million) credit line.



It's unclear whether this is part of the overall EU package announced Monday.

___



AP reporters Nicole Winfield in Rome, Raf Casert in Brussels and Bouazza Ben Bouazza in Tunis contributed to this report.



2. www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-02-15/bahrain-mourner-killed-in-funeral-march-clash.html

Bahrain square becomes new center for Arab anger

By BRIAN MURPHY - Feb 16, 2011 3:16 PM GMT+1300

By The Associated Press



Quote:Bahrain square becomes new center for Arab anger



[photo caption:] A funeral procession for Ali Abdulhadi Mushaima, 21, moves slowly through the streets of Jidhafs, Bahrain, Tuesday, Feb. 15, 2011. An estimated 10,000 people participated in the funeral march for Mushaima, who was killed in clashes Monday in nationwide anti-government protests. (AP Photo/Hasan Jamali)



(AP) – 1 day ago



DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Thousands of protesters took over a main square in Bahrain's capital Tuesday — carting in tents and raising banners — in a bold attempt to copy Egypt's uprising and force high-level changes in one of Washington's key allies in the Gulf.

(Isn't this the kind of "spontaneous" "revolution" communists are always drooling over?)



The move by demonstrators capped two days of clashes across the tiny island kingdom that left at least two people dead, parliament in limbo by an opposition boycott and the king making a rare address on national television to offer condolences for the bloodshed.



Security forces — apparently under orders to hold back — watched from the sidelines as protesters chanted slogans mocking the nation's ruling sheiks and called for sweeping political reforms and an end to monarchy's grip on key decisions and government posts.



The unrest in Bahrain, home to the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet, adds another layer to Washington's worries in the region. In Yemen, police and government supporters battled nearly 3,000 marchers calling for the ouster of President Ali Abdullah Saleh in a fifth straight day of violence.



Yemen is seen as a critical partner in the U.S. fight against a network inspired by al-Qaida. The Pentagon plans to boost its training of Yemen's counterterrorism forces to expand the push against the al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula faction, which has been linked to attacks including the attempted airliner bombing in December 2009 and the failed mail bomb plot involving cargo planes last summer.



Saleh has been holding talks with Yemen's powerful tribes, which can either tip the balance against him or give him enough strength to possibly ride out the crisis.




The political mutinies in the Arab world show the wide reach of the calls for change spurred by the toppling of old-guard regimes in Tunisia and Egypt.



In Jordan, hundreds of Bedouin tribesmen blocked roads to demand the government return lands they once owned. Saudi activists are seeking to form a political party in a rare challenge to the near-absolute power of the pro-Western monarchy.



Yemen's grinding poverty and tribal complexities also stand in contrast to the relative wealth and Western-style malls and coffee shops in Bahrain's capital of Manama.

("Tribal complexities". Seems like it could be an oblique reference to Yemen's famous islamic casta system.)



But many in Bahrain still boiled down their discontent to a cry for economic justice as well — saying the Sunni rulers control the privileges and opportunities and the Shiite majority struggles with what's left over and are effectively blackballed from important state jobs.

(So what happened to the much-vaunted "islamic brotherhood"? It's like jesus: it Never Existed.)



"I demand what every Bahraini should have: a job and a house," said student Iftikhar Ali, 27, who joined the crowds in the seaside Pearl Square. "I believe in change."



Protesters quickly renamed it "Nation's Square" and erected banners such as "Peaceful" that were prominent in Cairo's Tahrir Square. Many waved Bahraini flags and chanted: "No Sunnis, no Shiites. We are all Bahrainis."

(Note, they didn't say "we are all islamis." That's 'cause one side thinks the other is heretic and doesn't recognise them as muslims and vice-versa. E.g. Sunnis frequently kill shiites all over the islamic world and vice-versa, while muslims are not supposed to kill each other.

So a statement like "we're all Bahrainis" may have been the safest bet for the protesters in this context...)




Others set up tents and distributed tea and kabobs for those planning to spend the night under one of the city's landmarks: a nearly 300-foot (90-meter) monument cradling a giant white pearl-shaped ball that symbolizes the country's heritage as a pearl diving center.



Someone used stones to spell out the message in Arabic: "The real criminals are the royal family."



There is no direct call to bring down the king, whose family has ruled Bahrain for more than two centuries. But he is suddenly under unprecedented pressure to make serious changes in how the country is run.



The key demands — listed on a poster erected in the square — included the release of all political prisoners, more jobs and housing, an elected Cabinet and the replacement of the longtime prime minister, Sheik Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa.



Even the security forces they have battled represent something more than just state-backed muscle.



Bahrain's leaders have for years granted citizenship to Sunnis from across the region to expand their base of loyalists and try to gain demographic ground against Shiites, about 70 percent of the population of some 500,000. Many of the Sunnis — Jordanians, Syrians and others — receive police jobs or other security-related posts.


(So, "we're not all Bahrainis" after all?)



In a clear sign of concern over the widening crisis, King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa went on nationwide TV to offer condolences for the deaths, pledge an investigation into the killings and promising to push ahead with promised reforms, which include loosening state controls on the media and Internet.



"We extend our condolences to the parents of the dear sons who died yesterday and today. We pray that they are inspired by the Almighty's patience, solace and tranquility," said the king, who had previously called for an emergency Arab summit to discuss the growing unrest.



Bahrain is one of the most politically volatile nations in the Middle East's wealthiest corner despite having one of the few elected parliaments and some of the most robust civil society groups.



The nation's Shiites have long complained of discrimination. A crackdown on perceived dissent last year touched off weeks of riots and clashes in Shiite villages, and an ongoing trial in Bahrain accuses 25 Shiites of plotting against the leadership. The detainees allege they have been tortured behind bars.[/b]

(Ah yes, the *real* islamic brotherhood. AKA christian love.)



Bahrain is also an economic weakling compared with the staggering energy riches of Gulf neighbors such as Saudi Arabia and Qatar, which can afford far more generous social benefits. Bahrain's oil reserves are small and its role as the region's international financial hub have been greatly eclipsed by Dubai.



In Geneva, a statement by the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay called on Bahrain to "curb the excesses" of security forces.


( I think it may have been an article by Gautam Sen that mentioned Navi Pillay as the ex-Hindu anti-Hindu. A convert to christism probably.)



"Too many peaceful protesters have recently been killed across the Middle East and North Africa," Pillay said.



The deaths also brought sharp denunciations from the largest Shiite political bloc, Al Wefaq, which suspended its participation in parliament, and could threaten the nation's gradual pro-democracy reforms that have given Shiites a greater political voice. The group has 18 seats in the 40-member chamber.



The second day of turmoil began after police tried to disperse up to 10,000 mourners gathering at a hospital parking lot to begin a funeral procession for Ali Abdulhadi Mushaima, 21, who died in Monday's marches.



Officials at Bahrain's Salmaniya Medical Complex said a 31-year-old man, Fadhel Salman Matrook, became the second fatality when he died of injuries from birdshot fired during the melee in the hospital's parking lot. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not allowed to speak to journalists.



A statement from Bahrain's interior minister, Lt. Gen. Rashid bin Abdulla Al Khalifa, expressed "sincere condolences and deep sympathy" to Mushaima's family. He expanded on the king's pledge: stressing that the deaths will be investigated and charges would be filed if authorities determined excessive force was used against the protesters.



But that's unlikely to appease the protesters. In the past week, Bahrain's rulers have tried to defuse calls for reform by promising nearly $2,700 for each family and pledging to loosen state controls on the media.
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Report: Iran Warships Headed To Suez Canal

[url="http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20110216/wl_nm/us_israel_iran_warships"]Israel says Iran warships to transit Suez for Syria[/url]





And Oil Just Spiked
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Libya: Protests Begin in Benghazi Ahead of February 17 Day of wrath



http://globalvoicesonline.org/2011/02/16...-of-wrath/



Libyan women start bye bye Qaddafi.
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[url="http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/02/16/us-egypt-idUSTRE70O3UW20110216"]Egypt military rulers face Iran warship passage [/url]
Quote:(Reuters) - Egypt's new military rulers faced their first unwelcome diplomatic exposure on Wednesday as Israel reported that two Iranian warships were approaching the Suez Canal to pass through for the first time since 1979.



The two navy vessels planned to sail through the canal, one of the world's busiest waterways and a vital source of foreign currency for Egypt's economy, en route to Syria, Israel said, calling it a "provocation" by the Islamic Republic.



Such navy ships have the right to pass under international law, analysts said, but noted the scenario was not the kind of diplomatic challenge the new military rulers would relish.



Egypt was the first Arab country to make peace with Israel in its 1979 treaty and is a pivotal ally of the United States in the Middle East region. The United States and Israel are arch-adversaries of Iran, an ally of Syria.



"For warships to pass through the canal, approval from the ministry of defense and the ministry of foreign affairs is needed and this applies to all warships owned by any country," a Canal official told Reuters. No notice had been given so far.

If they let pass these ship, it means Obama administration had abandon Israel.
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[url="http://english.aljazeera.net/news/africa/2011/02/201121623948974864.html"]Protesters die in Libya unrest[/url]

Two demonstrators demanding the ouster of long time ruler, Col. Muammar Gaddafi, have been killed in clashes with police
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11:03 AM 50 armored vehicles head to Bahrain Square:

FLASH: More than 50 armored vehicles heading towards Bahrain's Pearl Square in central Manama, says Reuters.

Last night, security forces in Bahrain dispersed thousands of anti-government protesters in Pearl Square in the centre of capital, Manama. Hundreds of riot police using tear gas and batons moved into the square before dawn on today, says the bbc.co.uk.

At least two people were killed in the police operation, the opposition says. The protesters are calling for wide-ranging political reforms and had been camped out since Tuesday. Clashes earlier in the week left two dead and dozens injured in the country.
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[url="http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/world/saudi-prince-talal-warns-of-uprising-threat/story-e6frg6so-1226008023428"]Saudi prince Talal warns of uprising threat[/url]
Quote:A SENIOR member of the Saudi royal family has warned that the oil-rich country could be harmed by the uprisings sweeping the Arab world unless it speeded up reforms.



Prince Talal bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud told BBC Arabic that "anything could happen" if King Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz did not proceed with a program of political transformation.



"King Abdullah ... is the only person who can carry out these reforms," the prince told the broadcaster.



"On his departure, may that be in many years to come, latent trouble will surface and I have warned of this on many occasions. We need to resolve the problems in his lifetime," the prince added.



Talal added that if Saudi authorities "don't give more concern to the demands of the people, anything could happen in this country".



Talal has long called for reform in Saudi Arabia and formed the liberal political group "Free Princes Movement" in 1958 in reaction to the hostility between former kings Saud and Faisal.



Because of his involvement with the Free Princes Movement it is unlikely that Talal, a former ambassador to France, will ever become king.



Leaders throughout the Arab world are anxiously studying the spread of protests which have already unseated the presidents of Tunisia and Egypt.
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[url="http://www.kforcegov.com/Services/IS/NightWatch/NightWatch_11000037.aspx"] link[/url]

Quote:Comment: One important difference with Egypt's handling of the demonstrations is the performance of the armies in the two states. Policemen always do what they are paid to do, unless they run away. But the Army's response to civil disorder problems determines which side has the most guns.



The Egyptian Army used the demonstrations to [color="#FF0000"]alter the leadership succession[/color]. In short, it was insubordinate as an institution. Western encomiums/encomia about its professionalism are belied by the leadership's political maneuvering during the past month to ensure there will be no Mubarak dynasty.



Compare that highly politicized behavior with the Bahraini forces who followed the King's orders. Discipline and responsiveness to command and control is helped by the presence of the King's relatives from the al Khalifa clan at all top command levels and government ministries.



As an exercise in suppressing noisy opposition, this was a model. This is an example when the overreaction, i.e., use of overwhelming force, proved effective in halting the downward staircase. The quality and quantity of force overwhelmed the resistance capabilities of the opposition in Manama. That never happened in Cairo because the Army leadership was insubordinate and politicized.



For the record. All leaders of the Gulf Coordination Council supported Bahraini King Hamad al Khalifa's decision to stabilize his country.



For the record. A Fox News entertainer got carried away with his bit of learning on 17 February when he compared Bahrain and Saudi Arabia as two countries with Shiite majorities that are governed by Sunni leaders. That is accurate for Bahrain, but for Saudi Arabia, 15% of the population is Shiite who ive mainly in the Eastern Province.
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