" Brothers in arms "

FAD

https://i2.wp.com/en.trend.az/news_photos/libya_160311.jpghttps://i2.wp.com/en.trend.az/news_photos/libya_160311.jpghttps://i2.wp.com/en.trend.az/news_photos/libya_160311.jpghttps://i2.wp.com/en.trend.az/news_photos/libya_160311.jpg

How should a government or an army react ??

anywhere, anytime ,when armed-insurgents
are up against their own government
with arms .


The Tunisians ,
Egyptians and Bahrainees were not armed !!
But the Libyans are armed !!! + the Syrians are armed !!
the Yemenis are not armed
although each carries a big dagger
but for the decoration .

https://i2.wp.com/static.guim.co.uk/sys-images/Guardian/Pix/pictures/2008/04/24/assad460.jpghttps://i2.wp.com/img.slate.com/media/1/123125/123073/2279751/2290155/110420_EX_qaddafiTN.jpghttps://i2.wp.com/static.guim.co.uk/sys-images/Guardian/Pix/pictures/2008/04/24/assad460.jpg

One repeated phenomena, is that
regimes who were Israel-friendly
get non- armed-insurgencies




while
Israel-hostile-regimes
get armed-insurgencies ??

Am I missing anything significant , or relevant ??

Raja Chemayel

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian

Middle East developments: An interview with Stephen Lendman

var addthis_product = ‘wpp-257’;var addthis_config = {“data_track_clickback”:true};Interview by Kourosh Ziabari / STAFF WRITER

Stephen Lendman is a prolific political commentator, author and radio host. He is a research associate with the Canada-based Center for Research on Globalization. His articles have been widely published on a variety of news websites and magazines across the world and translated in several languages.
He is based in Chicago and has written extensively on war and peace, social justice in America and many other national and international issues. Stephen Lendman is a recipient of a 2008 Project Censored Award, University of California at Sonoma.
Lendman’s articles have appeared on Leworockwell.com, Dissident Voice, Counter Punch, Counter Currents, Intifada Palestine, Palestine Telegraph, The Greanville Post, Palestine Chronicle, Baltimore Chronicle, Counter Currents, Information Clearing House and Veterans Today.
Stephen joined me in an interview to discuss the latest developments in the Middle East, the destiny of Egyptian Revolution, the situation in Tunisia and the prospect of civil war in Libya.
What follows is the complete text of my interview with Stephen Lendman, political analyst and author from Chicago.

Kourosh Ziabari: The Egyptian revolution of 2011 began and progressed quite unexpectedly and unpredictably. After decades of U.S.-backed dictatorship under Hosni Mubarak, the people of Egypt took to the streets of Cairo and Alexandria all of a sudden and called for the dismissal of the dictator and the installation of a democratically-elected president. What were the motives behind this revolution?

Stephen Lendman: First of all, Egypt like elsewhere in the region (except for Libya and Syria) experienced a popular uprising against Mubarak and his regime. Mubarak’s out. The regime remains in place, headed by a repressive military junta as brutal as before under him.
I’ll have a new article ahead on their brutal killings, detentions and torture. I made the comment that everything in Egypt changed but stayed the same. Egyptians know it and are reacting. Whether they’ll do it with the same enthusiasm as earlier remains to be seen. If so, the military will confront them violently.
Popular motivations are for populist democratic change, decent jobs, a living wage and essential benefits, human and civil rights, and ending high-level corruption. None of that’s been achieved anywhere in the region from popular uprisings.

KZ: After Tunisia and Egypt in which the revolutionary forces and people on the ground succeeded in ousting the U.S.-backed puppets, several other Arab nations joined them and staged massive street demonstrations to call for civil liberties, improved living conditions, freedom and democratic governments. Can we interpret this collective uprising a result of the explosion of strong pan-Arabist sentiments?

SL: I think the Tunisian uprising inspired others, and have had them from Morocco to Syria to Oman. Syria is different though, externally incited and armed like in Libya. New reports are that Saudi Arabia and Lebanon’s Saad Hariri are involved. But no question, Washington is the driving force.
I think, but can’t prove, that the Obama administration targets only the regime, not Assad – Western educated with a Western wife. Much different than his father, nominally running the regime Washington wants replaced. So does Israel but in a way that won’t further destabilize the region. A tall order I believe, as the whole region now is in an uproar with anger directed both at repressive regimes and Western governments that back them.

KZ: Many Iranians believe that the uprisings of Tunisia and Egypt have been inspired by Iran’s Islamic Revolution of 1979. They compare the overthrowing of U.S.-backed Mubarak and Ben Ali to the deposition of Mohammad Reza Shah which was unconditionally supported by the United States and its European allies. Do you find such a relationship between these revolutions which took place during an interval of 32 years?

SL: Very possibly Iran’s 1979 revolution inspired the current uprisings although most young people don’t remember it firsthand. Nonetheless, the lesson is that sustained resistance works. Again I don’t know, but today’s regional spark seems to have legs. Nothing like it before that I recall, so I’m hopeful something good may come from this, including in Palestine. But I say all the time, it won’t be easily or quickly.

KZ: The Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi is said to have deposited $90 billion in Italian and other European banks. Since 1990s, the European states moved towards normalizing their ties with the dictator and supported him both politically and financially. Now, these Western states with which the Libyan dictator was once a close friend are calling for a unified international action against him. The old friend has now become a bitter enemy. Isn’t this an exercise of double standards by the Western governments?

SL: What’s true of America holds for other Western powers. They have interests, not allies. Gaddafi was never really accepted. The plan to oust him was hatched years ago, awaiting the right time to do it.
Lots of reasons why, including his support for pan-Africanism, having his own state owned central bank, wanting a regional gold-backed dinar, possibly nationalizing Libyan oil, not being part of AFRICOM, plus Washington wanting to balkanize the country, control its resources, exploit its people, privatize all state enterprises, and establish new US bases. It’s the same imperial scheme America plans globally.

KZ: The media have reported that the mercenaries of Colonel Gaddafi have so far killed more than 6,000 protesters in Tripoli and other cities of Libya. What’s your prediction for the political future of Libya? Gaddafi has vowed to remain in power and “die as a martyr.” Will the Libyan revolution bear fruits?

SL: I don’t believe Gaddafi killed 6,000 in Tripoli. I do know though that NATO bombed a Brega peace conference attended by 150 leading Imams, killing 10, injuring 40 badly enough to require hospitalization. The official lie is they bombed a command and control center. It was a non-military conference center.
Why? Washington wants war, not peace, and won’t end it until Gaddafi is ousted, ideally killed. As a result, hostilities could continue for sometime, taking a horrendous human toll. In the end, his survival chances are very slim.

KZ: Prof. Rashid Khalidi believes that the recent uprisings in the Arab countries have transformed and changed the mainstream media’s portrayal of the Muslim world. The people that were once introduced as fanatic terrorists and extremists are now being called freemen who sacrifice their lives for the sake of achieving freedom and liberty. Do agree with this viewpoint? Has the communal uprising of the Arab world changed the public’s viewpoint regarding the Arabs and Muslims?

SL: I disagree with Khalidi. My Sunday article is on one my of my common themes – targeting Muslim Americans bogusly for connections to terrorism. We get regular inflammatory headlines, and news anchors like on Fox News saying all Muslims aren’t terrorists, but all terrorists are Muslims. The same theme repeats, vilifying Muslims for their faith and ethnicity. Since 9/11, fear of Islam and terrorism has been engrained in the popular mindset.

KZ: What do you think about American double standards with regards to human rights issue? Bahraini government is now violating the rights of its citizens to the gravest extent, but the U.S. has kept silent. Why?

SL: The double standard is glaring. I ripped apart Obama’s Middle East speech, outrageous hypocrisy. We talk peace but wage war. At the same time, we support the most brutal Middle East regimes, especially in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and Yemen, but also in Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt, Jordan, the other GCC states, etc.

KZ: What will be the impacts of Arab world’s uprising on the power equations in the Middle East? Will the U.S., Israel and their European cronies suffer damages as a result of the Middle East revolution? Who is the real winner of this power game?

SL: In the short run I see little or no change. In the long run, I’m hopeful. Israel and America especially keep shooting themselves in the foot. I think both countries are headed for a bad ending. In America’s case, the disintegration of its empire, also affecting Israel [is predicted]. American’s support for Israel is also self-destructive

Related Posts:

Short URL: http://www.veteranstoday.com/?p=106419

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian

"Muhammad Al-Bu`azizi is still burning!"

“Via FLC

The Angry Arab News Service/وكالة أنباء العربي الغاضب: Muhammad Al-Bu`azizi: “My weekly article in Al-Akhbar: ‘Muhammad Al-Bu`azizi is still burning .'”

Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 8:19 PM

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian

Right or Wrong

You were Right, Right, Right 

Yvonne Ridley said Linyan war “is another oil-fuelled, reckless act by gung-ho leaders who would end up being sucked in to a long military campaign as futile as the Bush-Blair adventures into Iraq and Afghanistan that we are still paying for in terms of wasted lives.”

First: I don’t think USA-Nato is ready into a long military campaign in Libya as futile as the Bush-Blair adventures into Iraq and Afghanistan. On the contrary, because of their bloody intervention in both Iraq and Afghanistan they are using the so called soft power, divide the people ethnically, religiously, tribally, and let them kill each other.

Second: its not only about oil, they were getting the oil from Khadafy. its also about creation of a separation zone to prevent the integration of revolutions in Tunis and Egypt. Despite The Interim Transitional National Council wishful thinking and its committment to liberate every part of Libya from Aamsaad in the east to Ras Jdir in the west, and from Sirte in the north to Gatrun in the south, The No fly zone, and the “humanitarian intervention” is drawing the new borders of divided Libya, the US-Nato, and their Arab puppets wanted the people of Libya to be “brutally crushed without mercy” until they cry for help, as Sheikh Mohammed Bosidra told you. Those Libyans who are crystal clear in one thing: Gaddafi must go, should have thought and planed how they would force him to go, like in Tunis, Egypt, Yemen, and Bahrain, they should have avoided violence, and giving Khadafy an excuse to crushed without them mercy. So far the conspiracy failed in Tunis, and Egypt, but brought Libyans to their knees, and turned it from a popular revolution into a civil war.
Its not true that the war in libya is led by no one, with no particular aim, and its not true that the No fly zone prevented a Massacre. In every revolution, there is the people’s will to get free, and there is the conspiracy’s will, where conspiracy try to ride drive the people to face the wall untill they cry for help.

Somebody, called, the Arab uprising, “The Grand Arab Revolution”, referring to the Grand Arab Revolution led by Sharif Husain of Mecca, where the people wanted liberation from the Ottoman Empire, and the Conspiracy was about dividing Arab world, and creation of the Zionist entity.

History is repeating itself, but in other forms. The so called “constructive chaos” is now used to redraw the region according to US-Israeli “geo-strategic needs and objectives.” Therefore and Syria is the main target, because its the corner stone of the Resistance Axsis, The loss of Syria, God fordid, shall compensate the loss of Egypt, and pave the way to the NEW zionist middle east. The struggle is greater than Libya, its about the middle east, and its heard, Syria.
So the question is, even in Tunis and Egypt, is about who would laugh at the end.

Uprooted Palestinian

+++++++++++++++

Yvonne Ridley: “I was wrong to oppose military intervention in Libya – wrong, wrong, wrong”  

By Yvonne Ridley in Benghazi
30 April 2011
Yvonne Ridley explains from Benghazi in eastern Libya why she was wrong to oppose Western intervention in Libya, which she now accepts was necessary to avoid the bloodbath Libyan mafia chief Muammar Gaddafi had planned for Libyans for daring to rise up against him.
Just a few weeks ago I stood on a public platform and vigorously slammed proposals for Western military intervention in Libya.
The hasty scramble by the Americans, French and Britons lacked strategy and a clear goal.
To me it appeared to be yet another oil-fuelled, reckless act by gung-ho leaders who would end up being sucked in to a long military campaign as futile as the Bush-Blair adventures into Iraq and Afghanistan that we are still paying for in terms of wasted lives.
“Here we go again,” I said. “Another imperialistic adventure with the long-term aim of getting our grubby hands on other peoples’ oil.”

To those few Libyans present, I warned they would live to regret this pact with the West that I likened to jumping into bed with the devil.

Being very conscious of the fact I’m not a Libyan and desperate at not wanting to be seen as another opinionated Westerner sticking my nose into matters I didn’t understand, I sought the views of many Libyan friends and contacts.

Their reaction was mixed, but more often than not I was told that without outside help the Libyan people would be slaughtered by Gaddafi who himself described those who opposed him as cockroaches that needed to be crushed.

To justify my stand I reasoned that all revolutions are bloody and that the heroic people of Tunisia and Egypt had paid the blood price in their hundreds to win freedom.

I even recounted Malcolm X telling people that if they were not prepared to die for it they should remove the word freedom from their vocabulary.

Of course, making grand statements from platforms in central London is one thing but going to see for myself what was happening on the ground was something else.

My few days in Libya proved to be extremely humbling, illuminating and provided me with a reality check.

I was wrong about opposing military intervention. No if, buts or maybe – I was wrong, wrong, wrong.

The people of Libya would have been brutally crushed without mercy if the West had not responded to their cries for help.

Perhaps the greatest shame is that Arab leaders stood by emotionless as the Libyan people begged everyone and anyone for help to bring down Gaddafi.

Some of those Arab leaders had no such hesitation in answering cries for help from the oppressive royal regime in Bahrain – obviously the Saudis and rest of the Gulf Cooperation Council cabal felt uncomfortable helping to bring down an evil, brutal, dictator who routinely abused and oppressed his people while happily propping up another.

It could have been an opportunity for the rising regional power Turkey to step in to the breach but to the massive disappointment of the Libyan people Recep Tayyip Erdogan refused to become embroiled.

So in the end the West did intervene and although the blood of innocents is still flowing in the streets at least it is not a torrent.

And maybe this is a war led by no one, with no particular aim, but the enforcement of the no fly zone has prevented a massacre.

That is the view held by one of Libya’s spiritual leaders, Sheikh Mohammed Bosidra, who told me: “We had no choice. It was either make a pact with NATO or be crushed. It was a matter of survival, as simple as that.”

However many have already paid the ultimate blood price. Each town and city has a special place for its martyrs, and there are many. Faces of young men stared back at me from family portraits proudly hung in the central square in Benghazi and what struck me was how young they were.

In Derna, more portraits of the sons of Omar al-Mukhtar hung in the town centre and some of the bodies have been buried in a cemetery next to the tombs of three Sahaba and 70 other martyrs who fought against Roman and Byzantine forces in 692AD.

“We have a very fine tradition of producing martyrs in Derna and that is why Gaddafi hates the people of Derna more than anywhere else in Libya,” one woman told me.

And then she pointed to a French Tricolor and a Union Jack whispering: “Thank you, we will never forget what you have done for us.”

I admit I felt uncomfortable, even a fraud, on several different levels by accepting her thanks. Usually I end up apologizing for the deeds of various British governments and empire so this was something new for me.

We are still not clear what is the endgame of the NATO-led force, but the Libyan people are crystal clear in one thing: Gaddafi must go.

Only then can they begin to work out the next move, and it won’t be easy.

The Interim Transitional National Council says it is committed to liberate every part of Libya from Aamsaad in the east to Ras Jdir in the west, and from Sirte in the north to Gatrun in the south.

But from what I could see the mission is unstable and unpredictable, chaotic, disorganized and confused.

“It is clear to me that once Gaddafi is gone – and he will go – the Libyan people will not replace him with another tyrant or a Western puppet. Whatever government and constitution they choose will be one of their own making.”

However, what is undeniable is the bravery and courage of the Libyan people who we in the media routinely refer to as rebels. These people are not rebels. They are shopkeepers, students, doctors, businessmen and mechanics who have never owned a gun or wanted to pick one up in anger, until now.

And yet there they are tens of thousands prepared to die for freedoms and liberties they’ve never known in Gaddafi’s 41-year rule.

I was moved to tears by a regiment of young men who marched, rallied and chanted demanding to be sent to the front lines in Misrata to help their brothers in arms.

Their personally-delivered message in Benghazi was to the members of the interim government and they were extremely critical of some elements of the ITNC who they said were more interested in parading around with bodyguards intoxicated with the little power they had than making real decisions.

The criticism of the leadership was stinging but reassuring that these young men were not blind to the shortcomings of their own. Too often in the Middle East people are blind and unquestioning in their loyalty to their leaders.

It is clear to me that once Gaddafi is gone – and he will go – the Libyan people will not replace him with another tyrant or a Western puppet. Whatever government and constitution they choose will be one of their own making.

But first we in the West must give them all the help and support they need to accomplish the removal of Gaddafi until it is time for NATO to go in a dignified exit.

And who knows, for once, Western intervention might just be regarded as a force for good.

[Wishfull thinking]

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River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian

KOUROSH ZIABARI: International silence over the Middle East felonies

Kourosh Ziabari – author
April 15, 2011

By Kourosh Ziabari / STAFF WRITER

As the U.S.-backed repressive regimes of the Middle East harshly crack down on their unarmed, innocent citizens, the international community has kept a low profile and indifferently watches the massacre of pro-freedom demonstrators in Libya, Bahrain and Yemen by the merciless dictators of the Persian Gulf region.

Since the wave of protests at the dictatorial regimes of the Middle East began in late 2010, hundreds of people including pro-freedom revolutionaries, activists, bloggers and journalists have been killed by the dictators who have shown that they have no respect for the most essential rights of their people, including their right for peaceful demonstrations and protests and constructive criticism of the government.

Unofficial statistics have recently revealed that more than 10,000 protestors were killed by the mercenaries of the Moammar Gaddafi regime since the beginning of protests in Libya, and this figure is astounding enough to convince us that an all-out, real genocide has taken place in Libya where a delirious dictator has been ruling for more than 42 years.

Since the United Nations Security Council authorized the use of a no-fly zone over Libya “with the explicit task of protecting the civilian population” in its resolution 1973, nothing has changed significantly and the NATO forces who dispatched their troop with the proclaimed intention of saving the life of unarmed civilians who were being massacred by the Gaddafi regime achieved nothing special in their military intervention in the Northern African country.

So far, a block of NATO member states mainly shaped of European countries such as Belgium, Bulgaria, Denmark, France, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Romania, UK, Spain and Sweden along with the United States, Canada and some Arab countries of the Persian Gulf have taken part in the military expedition to Libya; however, the only result of their massive operation was the carnage of innocent civilians and an enormous waste of money which should be paid by the European and American taxpayers.

American military Journalist Francis Tusa who is the editor of “Defence Analysis” magazine, estimated that flying a Tornado GR4 would cost about £35,000 an hour, so the cost of patrolling one sector of Libyan airspace would cost £2M to £3M per day.

The former Australian foreign minister Gareth Evans who works with the Council on Foreign Relations think-tank which is notorious for its hawkish and warmongering stance considers the international military intervention in Libya a movement which is aimed at saving the lives of the civilians: “the international military intervention (SMH) in Libya is not about bombing for democracy or Muammar Qaddafi’s head. Legally, morally, politically, and militarily it has only one justification: protecting the country’s people”; however, he and those who think like him have credulously forgotten the fact that 114 civilians have been killed as a result of the military operation of NATO and its allies in Libya. If the NATO member states, mainly consisted of European countries who conventionally boast of their commitment to human rights, were really concerned for the lives of the Libyan people, they wouldn’t have killed 114 civilians. Maybe one may say that 114 is an insignificant number compared with more than 10,000 people whom the Gaddafi regime massacred; however, one should not forget that the life of each human being is precious and valuable and those who introduce themselves as the defenders of human rights should know this better than anyone else.

Now, Libya is entangled in a state of civil war and nobody can predict the future of popular uprising in this African country. The United Nations Security Council has frozen the assets of Moammar Gaddafi and imposed travel bans on the members of his family. So, are these measures adequate to respond to the felonies which the old dictator of Libya is committing? Is the international community genuinely willing to draw to an end the crisis in Libya and hold Gaddafi accountable for his crimes? The International Criminal Court has warned that Gaddafi and the members of his inner circle “may” have committed crimes against humanity. Are these flat accusations enough to put on trial a dictator who relentlessly kills his people and calls them “rebels”, “addicts” and “drug smugglers”? What is the reason behind the silence of international community over the humanitarian disaster occurring in Libya? Is it because the United States and its European friends cannot turn a blind eye to the countless barrels of oil awaiting them in Libya? Is it because the gigantic investment of the United States and its European allies depends on Gaddafi’s remaining in power? If the international community has come to the conclusion that Gaddafi is a terrorist, so why doesn’t it take essential and effective steps to help the Libyan people depose him?

The situation in Bahrain isn’t much better. The dictatorial regime of Al Khalifa has invited Saudi and Emirati forces to come to its help in quenching the protests of the angry revolutionaries who cannot tolerate the discriminatory treatment of the government with the Shiite majority. The defenders of human rights have apathetically neglected the massacre of Bahraini protesters, the widespread arrest of political activists and even the destruction of the Pearl Roundabout which the Bahraini government feared might become the symbol of Bahraini people’s revolution like Egypt’s Al-Tahrir Square.
The mainstream media in the West, run by the well-of Zionists who control the majority of media conglomerates in the world, have flagrantly ignored the abuses of human rights in Bahrain during the 2011 protests and boycotted the news of the massacre of Bahraini people by the Al Khalifa regime. This clearly shows that what is not of any importance to them is the issue of human rights, at least in the Middle East and Bahrain which is host to the U.S. Fifth Fleet.

Overall, the performance of the European governments, international organizations and the mainstream media has indicated that it’s usual and customary for them to exercise double standards wherever needed. The reaction of the international community to the Middle East uprisings has been a clear exercise of double standards which we are now quite familiar with.

Kourosh Ziabari is an Iranian journalist and media correspondent. Read more about him here.

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian

Finkelstein on the Arab revolts and Israel

>

By Issandr El Amrani April 7, 2011 at 2:21 PM

From Counterfire:
Mr Finkelstein, looking at the present situation in Gaza and the occupied territories, what hope do you have for a realistic and ‘just’ peace settlement – even in the next thirty years?

It all depends on whether the people in the Occupied Territories find the inner strength and courage to duplicate what’s been done in neighboring Arab-Muslim states.

So far Palestinians are just watching, but from conversations I’ve had they appear to be hopeful. If mass demonstrations break out, Israel might be forced to withdraw to the June 1967 border. Certainly, Israel will have trouble firing on nonviolent demonstrators without looking like Gaddafi.

The present triumphant scenes in Cairo have got a lot of people in Israel worried about the Muslim Brotherhood gaining ascendancy in Egypt. A friend in Israel, a Zionist, told me that the current leadership in Egypt have begun to cut off gas supplies to Israel, an apparent act of “aggression”. Do you think the Muslim Brotherhood are a force for good in supporting Palestinians, or are they counter-productive in that they will destabilise the region (to borrow a much-abused term)?

I do not believe that Israel fears the Muslim Brotherhood because it is Muslim. It is just as fearful of a secularist such as el-Baradei coming to power. Israel dreads the prospect that a new government will respect the will of the people and will be committed to preserving the dignity of Egypt. This has always been Israel’s biggest fear. Israel’s first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, frequently said that the biggest disaster for Israel would be if an Arab Ataturk came to power and restored the spirits of the people.You famously said that in Lebanon ‘Hezbollah are the hope’ (in terms of standing up to American political influence and Israeli aggression). This elicited much condemnation from the usual quarters. Can you expand on this statement – how do Hezbollah offer ‘hope’, and to whom?

Hezbollah demands that the ordinary principles of international law be applied to Israel as well. Israel must stop treating neighboring countries as long- or short-term parking lots. It must stop indiscriminate attacks against civilians and civilian infrastructure. This is Hezbollah’s message and I agree with it. When Ehud Barak recently threatened, “Maybe we’ll have to occupy Lebanon again,” Sayyed Nasrallah said the next day, “Maybe we”ll have to occupy the northern Galilee.” What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.

There’s a lot more there so read the whole thing. On that last point I think Finkelstein’s is too reductive of Hizbullah, which after all did conduct or tacitly back an assassination campaign in Lebanon. Just because its domestic enemies may be objectively pro-Israeli does not mean it should get away with that.

Anis Naqash: Washington can’t intervene in Libya. Camp David is shaking

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بابتسامة عريضة، استقبلتنا زوجته الإيرانية الجنسية مشيرة إلى أنه ينتظرنا في مكتبه. دخلنا، فألقى علينا التحية بمزيج من الثقة والخفر. عاد أنيس النقاش للجلوس مجيباً عن أسئلتنا براحة تامة ومتابعاً للأخبار الواردة في شريط الأخبار على التلفاز الذي يواجه كرسيه.
سمية: كيف تصف ما يحدث حالياً في العالم العربي؟

أنيس النقاش: كما تجري العادة، فإن الثورات لا تتم إلا في حال حدوث زلزال دولي. لا شك أننا نعيش سقوط القطبية الأميريكية الواحدة، بالرغم من أن هذا السقوط تمظهر متأخراً في عالمنا العربي، في حين أدركه غيرنا من البلدان في وقت سابق. نلاحظ أن كل من ارتبط بالمشروع الأميريكي يسقط وكل من مانع المشروع الأميريكي وقاومه يرتفع. هذا هو التفسير الأسلم لما يجري.
سمية: كيف تتعامل الولايات المتحدة الأميريكية مع الثورات القائمة في البلدان العربية؟ هل نشهد ما يسمى بسرقة الثورات؟

أنيس النقاش: ميزة هذه الثورات أنها تؤدي إلى ذهاب كل من يوالي المشروع الأميريكي إلى النهاية. ولذلك تحاول واشنطن أن تستقطب وتستوعب ما يحصل بحجة أنها ليست ضد حركة الشعوب. ولكنها في الوقت عينه تريد أن تواكب هذه الحركة وأن تستفيد منها. لذلك على الحركات الثورية أن تعي أن الموضوع لا يختصر على ذهاب الرموز الأميركية، بل الصحيح هو التصدي لهذا المشروع بشكل عملاني ومنطقي وسياسي. استبدال الرموز من أسهل ما يكون.على الشعوب أن تمنع عودة السيطرة الأميريكية من خلال الحؤول دون استقطابها للأنظمة الجديدة.

سمية: من الذي سيحدد هذا الأمر؟هل الشعوب قادرة على ذلك؟
أنيس النقاش: الشعوب لها دور أساسي. الصراع القائم هو بين الشعوب وقوى خارجية كمنظمات دولية تتدخل من أجل أن تكون الشعوب مستقلة، وقوى إقليمية تتدخل من أجل أن لا تكون هذه الشعوب مستقلة.اليوم هناك سباق على الساحات لتحديد من سيفرض سيطرته على قطعة الشطرنج الجديدة.هل الولايات المتحدة قادرة على الإستمرار في تطبيق سياسة الإمبراطورية الكبيرة التي تتفرد بحكمها؟ لكي نفهم وضع الولايات المتحدة حالياً، علينا إدراك ثلاثة أمور:

انتهى العام 2010 مع وصول الدين العام الفيديرالي إلى حوالي 80 بالمئة من الناتج القومي الأميريكي. الولايات المتحدة بعد سنتين ونصف من الأزمة الإقتصادية، لم تخرج من أزمتها ولا زالت تغرق. لذلك قال أوباما في أحد خطاباته أن الحياة الأميريكية التي تقوم على البطاقات الشرائية وبطاقات الإئتمان قد انتهت، ولهذا الأمر أهمية على المستوى الإستراتيجي، لأن الولايات المتحدة تتميز عن غيرها من الدول لجهة طريقة العيش فيها.النقطة الثانية هي سقوط القدرة العسكرية الأميريكية. الدراسات الأميريكية أثبتت أن نظرية الصواريخ الجديدة قد غيرت كل المعادلات. وقبل حرب الصواريخ، أثبتت حرب العصابات التي جرت في العراق وأفغانستان، أن الولايات المتحدة لا تستطيع أن تهيمن عسكرياً. يعلم الأميريكيون أن حرب الصواريخ مع الصين تسقط كل القواعد الحربية والجوية في اليابان وكوريا الجنوبية وتايوان.

ايران تمتلك صوايخ تستطيع مهاجمة كل القواعد الأميريكية في الخليج. في حرب 2006 أثبتت المقاومة هذه النظرية، وبعد الحرب باتت صواريخ المقاومة قادرة على أن تطال أي مكان في فلسطين المحتلة. معادلة الصواريخ أحدثت نوع من توازن الرعب. أكبر دليل على ذلك عملياً،أنه عند حديث الأميريكيين عن حظر جوي في ليبيا يرد قائد المنطقة الوسطى أن حظر جوي يتطلب تدمير كل الدفاعات الجوية الليبية (تكبير الحجر لعدم دخول المعركة).غيتس يقول أن أي أحد يدعونا إلى تدخل عسكري في ليبيا أو أفغانستان أو العراق يجب أن نفحص عقله، قبل أن نجيب عليه. يعني أنه يتهم كل إنسان يطالب بتدخل عسكري بالجنون. يجب الإلتفات إلى نقطة مهمة تتمثل بتراجع اهتمام واشنطن بمصادر الطاقة في الشرق الأوسط.

هناك نوع من الغاز المخزّن في باطن الأرض كان من الصعب استخراجه فنياً، أما الآن فقد باتت لديهم الإمكانية لاستخراجه بواسطة الحفر بواسطة ما يسمى تقنية الحية. هذا الغاز متواجد حتى في البلدان غير النفطية وهو غاز نظيف. هنا أدرك الأميريكيون أنه ليس من المهم ربط مصالحنا النفطية بالشرق الأوسط طالما أنه لدينا غاز نظيف باستطاعتنا استخراجه. لقد شعرت الشعوب العربية بالتغيرات الحاصلة لكنها كانت بحاجة إلى شرارة، الشرارة كانت بو عزيزي. أميريكا تتعامل مع ما يحدث بهدوء لأنها تمتلك البدائل، لقد عاشرت الثورة الإيرانية بكل تفاصيلها، الشاه ترك ايران والإمام كان في طهران وشكل أول حكومة واستمر بريجنسكي بالقول أن الوضع تحت السيطرة.

لقد راهن الأميريكيون على اتصالهم بالعسكر وقدرتهم على تجييش عدد من الضباط لصالحهم للقيام بانقلاب عسكري، الرهان الثاني هو شراء النفط الإيراني وبالتالي ضمان فرض نوع من النفوذ. لقد أرسلت واشنطن عقب الثورة، بعض المسؤولين إلى ايران الذين عبروا عن عدم اعتراض بلادهم على تطبيق نظام إسلامي لكن مع عدم المس بالمصالح الأميريكية. الولايات المتحدة تحاول استيعاب الثورات في الدول العربية، ومما لا شك فيه أنها تقوم بإرسال مندوبين إلى هذه الدول للإتصال بالمعارضين. في ليبيا، هناك عدد كبير من الليبيين في ليبيا مدربين من قبل واشنطن ويحملون الجنسية الأميريكية. لذا يمكن الإستعانة بهؤلاء لضمان المصالح.

سمية: كيف يمكن الحؤول دون سرقة الولايات المتحدة لهذه الثورات؟

أنيس النقاش: العالم يجب أن يعي أن الأمور متشابكة جداً.أن الداخل مرتبط بالخارج والخارج مرتبط بالداخل. من الجيد خلال المظاهرات رفع شعارات المطالبة بالحرية أو ذهاب الديكتاتور أو إسقاط النظام. لكن على سبيل المثال إذا أردت بناء مصر جديدة دون تحليل للسياسة الدولية فأنت تلعب، يجب درس الوضع الدولي وفهمه والعمل على أساسه خلال الثورة. إذا رأيت في تونس أن عائلة الطرابلسي هي مشكلتك الأساسية وإذا رحلوا فقد حلت المشكلة فأنت لا تفهم شيئاًَ. يجب الفهم أن النظام العالمي هو الفاسد وبالتالي يجب أخذ موقف من الوضع الدولي للتمتع بالإستقلالية.
سمية: برأيك إلى أين تتجه الأمور في ليبيا، هل ترجح احتلالاً أميريكياً لليبيا؟
أنيس النقاش: الأميريكيون خائفون من ليبيا. الأميريكيون لم يطالبوا حتى الآن القذافي بالرحيل على غرار ما حدث في مصر وتونس, فالمصالح النفطية لا تزال مجهولة والتيارات الإسلامية في ليبيا أكثر تطرفاً من الإخوان المسلمين في مصر. لذا فواشنطن تعمل لتدارك ما يجري بدعم تشكيل مجلس وطني مؤقت يضمن بقاء ليبيا في القطار الأميريكي.
سمية: هل تتوقع سقوط القذافي قريباً؟

أنيس النقاش: سقوطه حتمي، المسألة مسألة وقت.

سمية: كيف تفسر التباين بين الموقف الأميريكي وموقف الإتحاد الأوروبي اتجاه الوضع الليبي، فواشنطن تطالب بتدخل عسكري في وقت يلزم الإتحاد الأوروبي الصمت؟
أنيس النقاش: للتباين سببين، أميريكا تملك حرية الحركة أكثر لأنها جغرافياً بعيدة عن ليبيا، أما الأوروبيون فهم أقرب إلى ليبيا. الأفارقة ينطلقون إلى ايطاليا واليونان عبر ليبيا. لذلك أي تدخل غير مدروس للأوروبيين يعني تصادم مع شمال إفريقيا. السبب الثاني،لقد تمّ ضرب الأوروبيين في الصميم، شركات النفط الأميريكية التي تعمل في ليبيا تعمل في النفط العالمي أي إذا توقف النفط الليبي عن أميريكا تستطيع الأخيرة الإستمرار. لكن إذا توقف عن ايطاليا هذا يعني توقف أربعين بالمئة من مصادر الطاقة، ثلاثين بالمئة من نفط إسبانيا، عشرين بالمئة من نفط فرنسا. لذلك الأوروبيين يلزمون الحياد لأنهم لا يريدون الإصطدام مع القوى الشعبية ولا مع القذافي من أجل ضمان مصالحهم.
سمية: في البدء، طالبت الإدارة الأميريكية بتدخل عسكري في ليبيا، ثم تراجعت واشنطن عن مطلبها.ما السبب برأيك خلف هذا التغيير؟
أنيس النقاش: الحديث الأميريكي حول تدخل عسكري في ليبيا كان ذو طابع سياسي. لكن من يحسم الأمور هو البنتاغون. وزير الدفاع روبرت غيتس يقول إن أي تدخل عسكري بحاجة إلى قرار دولي. حرب العراق تمّت دون موافقة دولية، لقد اختلفت موازين القوى، البنتاغون لا يريد أن يدخل أي حرب بعد الآن، الجيش بحاجة إلى أربعة آلاف جندي جديد في صفوف الإحتياط شهرياً وهو ما لم يعد باستطاعته الحصول عليه. قرار الحرب والسلم بيد البنتاغون. كل ما يستطيع وزير الدفاع روبرت غيتس قوله للمعارضة الليبية، نحن باستطاعتنا مساعدتكم وتسليحكم، لكن ليس باستطاعتنا القتال عنكم.

Why do People Choose Islam & Why Revolution is a MUST?


A question that begs an answer:

“When given the freedom to vote, why do people in the Middle East end up voting for “Islamists” ?”

The toppled X-president Ben Ali of Tunisia -like his counterpart Husni Mubarak of Egypt, and the rest of tyrants of the Arab world- was a Secular, Liberal and Westernized DICTATOR. This corrupt puppet was supported and admired by the Western governments, his anti-Islam policies were glorified and his “moderate version” of Islam was puffed up and endorsed

Ben Ali has oppressed and terrorized his people for decades, he imprisoned them, starved them, closed down mosques, made it illegal for women to wear hijab, and for men to gather in mosques or to even grow beards

This was one of Ben Ali palaces, after liberation, please watch to the end, even though it’s in Arabic:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Fxpbi-so5U


In contrast, this is the “Palace” of the so called “Islamists”, the Palestinian Prime-minister Ismail Haneyeh, who has won a fair election in occupied Palestine
in 2006:


 


And here, the Prime-minister visiting and sharing food with his people in Gaza:
 



 
 
 
 

And here, we see his brother, the “Islamist” elected Iranian President, Ahmedinijad entertaining his guests and sharing a meal with them:
 











And here, we see the support for the Islamic Resistance Hizbullah in Lebanon






 
Is it any wonder then, that when given the freedom to vote, people in the Arab and Islamic world would choose the so called “Islamists”??
 

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Western leaders and nations need to come to terms with the fact that people in the Middles East stand with those modest uncorrupted leaders who feel with them, those who defend the oppressed, give the needy and work to heal individuals and societies, those who genuinely represent them and speak their voices.

In the case of evil one cannot stand on the fence and claim neutrality and fairness.

We don’t expect or accept a solution from those who created the problem in the first place.
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DR. BOUTHAINA SHAABAN: THE VOICE OF THE MASSES

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Dr. Bouthaina Shaaban  Via PI
08. Feb, 2011Egypt is back again as it once was when millions of Arabs used to turn to the radio to listen to the voice of Egyptian masses.  Those days, our parents used to fix themselves in front of old radio sets to hear the magic words charged with freedom, dignity and hope. 


 
Today, once again everyone is glued to TV sets this time watching with love what is happening in Egypt.  Everything happening there indicates that a new phase of development is ushered for all Arabs; for Egypt’s awakening once meant an awakening for all the Arabs, its fight against colonialism ushered a phase of freedom for all Arab peoples.  Today we hear the thundering voice of its people on the streets and know that they are making a new era.
 
Is this the time for Arab masses to go the streets to force their will on governments which have, for decades, imposed their will, slogans, gods, failures, alliances and differences on their peoples without achieving any of their aspirations.  Grievances, frustration, betrayal and political, economic and social failure accumulated, while the Arab ruling elites did not feel the simmering anger of the masses?

The masses filled the streets of Tunisia, Jordan and Yemen.  The West did not pay much attention.  But when the voice of Egyptian masses rose, the ‘free’ world got into a frenzy of analyzing the conditions of the Arab world.  They started to examine growth rates, youth unemployment rates, required growth rates in order to provide jobs for these young people and enable them to get involved in making the future of their countries.  Western governments urged Arab governments not to use ‘violence’ or called on them to make ‘political reforms’ which allow for freedom of expression through a free press or through parliaments.

We all know very well that the West is not concerned about corruption or oppression; its only concern is oil and Israel’s security.  While Middle East ‘experts’ in Washington, London and Paris try to analyze what is happening and provide answers to their governments and their public opinion, none of them touched on the real causes, maybe because they are invisible to them.

There is no doubt that the needs of millions of young people throughout the Arab world need to be addressed in a manner different from that Arab governments have used so far.  This is a generation living in the 21st century, and consequently it desperately needs to get seriously involved in building their country, their future and the future of their children.  The reasons for this rage are complicated.  They cannot be oversimplified or explained away by unemployment or poor living conditions. 

The Tunisian young man Mohammad Bouazizi, who gave the spark to the Tunisian revolution, was a university graduate working on his fruit and vegetable cart for years until he felt insulted and humiliated by the forces of oppression.  His desperation pushed him to set fire to his body which stood for the body of a whole generation.  His suicide was the last straw which removed the barrier of fear built between his generation and the might of governments.  This is what sparked the call for change throughout the Arab world.  So, it is a cry for the dignity of Arab citizens, a dignity humiliated by seeing their people besieged in Gaza and seeing six million Palestinians imprisoned in large prisons inside their occupied country, occupied since 1948 and in refugee camps and being killed on a daily basis amidst total Arab impotence.

It is interesting that the American reactions to demonstrations in Egypt exceeded by far the interest in what happened in Tunisia, Jordan or Yemen, which is understandable.  Most American analyses and reactions focused on price rises, poverty, unemployment and corruption.  No American official said anything about the factor of humiliating wars which infuriated people time and again and prevented the Egyptians from standing with their brothers in Gaza, Lebanon, Palestine and Iraq.

It is not difficult to trace back the critical moments which accumulated rage in the Arab conscience, particularly the feelings of humiliation, insult and impotence that millions of young people felt as a result of their governments’ impotence and silence regarding the tragedies which befell Iraq and Palestine.  This feeling is ignored by American and Western decision makers because they actually aim at humiliating the Arabs assisted by the ability of oppressive government forces to quell the voice of Arab masses calling for Arab solidarity.

WikiLeaks contributed to this factor by uncovering complicity with the enemy against the brother and getting what was happening behind closed doors into the public.  That added to the people’s desperation; because until recently they thought that their governments represented their people’s interests.  In reality their behavior in secret was the exact opposite of what they claimed in public.Hakika Leaks’ and ‘Transparency’ came to confirm that those entrusted with the destiny of their peoples have been inciting the enemy against their own brothers. 

Don’t we all remember how young Arabs in many Arab towns and cities have been prevented even from demonstrating in support of the peoples of Iraq and Palestine?  And how those trying to bring food and medicine to their besieged brothers have been tried like criminals, while war criminals in the wars on Lebanon and Gaza, like Tzipi Livni, Ehud Barak and Benjamin Netanyahu were received and embraced?

That is why the United States’ concern and monitoring of what is going on is in fact concern for a criminal entity in our region which is the real cause of all these wars, destruction and oppression against our people.  If anger is directed today against governments and aims to change rulers and their methods, there is no doubt that the position of these rulers vis a vis the question of Palestine and the necessity of liberating it from Israeli occupation is a major factor in what is happening and will have implications and consequences in the next weeks and months.

_______________________

Prof. Bouthaina Shaaban is Political and Media Advisor at the Syrian Presidency, and former Minister of Expatriates. She is also a writer and professor at Damascus University since 1985. She’s got Ph.D. in English Literature from Warwick University, London. She was the spokesperson for Syria. She was nominated for Nobel Peace Prize in 2005.
Source: bouthainashaaban.com

Cries for Freedom

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In Tunisia, Egypt, Palestine, Lebanon, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Jordan… etc… etc people are yearning for freedom, sovereignty and independence; freedom which they have been denied for decades or maybe centuries. When people offer so many sacrifices to achieve their goals, it’s their prerogative then to elect the leadership, form the type of government, and establish the political and legal system which represent them and fulfil their aspirations most; be it Islamic or otherwise.
It is not the job of any outsider -let alone a zionist- to censor their liberty, condemn their choice, or impose on them a type of government or a political system which they do not approve of.
Yet, here we have someone who claims to be a supporter of Palestine brazenly equates Hamas, the democratically elected government in occupied Palestine, with collaborators, dictatorships, oppressive regimes and occupiers. Then, by his twisted logic, his wishful-thinking and deluded imagination he cunningly predicts the same fate for them as the other doomed-to fail regimes:
“Not only is the Fatah regime in Ramallah and the Hamas regime in Gaza destined to fall, but perhaps also, one day, the Israeli occupation”
http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article27377.htm

Mr Gideon Levi fails to realize that Arabs and Muslims are also PEOPLE who are entitled to enjoy liberty, self-determination, intellectual freedom and political independence in their own homelands, just like anyone else on the planet. It is their prerogative to form their representative governments without any interference. If people in the Middle East saw fit for them to elect an Islamic government or a coalition of any sort, it is their own business and no body else’s.
People in the Middle East are fed up with those who continue to meddle with their affairs; oppress them, occupy their lands, bomb their villages, destroy their countries, steal their resources, fabricate lies about their faith, throw accusations against them and smother their freedoms
Mr Gideon Levi needs to understand that Hamas and other “Islamists”, as called by zionist hasbara, will continue to be the thorn in the throat of all dictators, occupiers, manipulators, control-freaks and supremacists, until the FULL LIBERATION of their STOLEN lands and lives.
 

Ken O’Keefe: Tunisia Egypt Global Revolution Tribute

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Ken O’Keefe: Tunisia Egypt Global Revolution Tribute

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Revolutionary Middle East Change

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by Stephen Lendman

Democratic Middle East birth pangs may have legs enough to spread regionally, including in Occupied Palestine.

Officially launched in Cairo in 1959, the General Union of Palestinian Students (GUPS) offers hope, driven by a commitment for Palestinian liberation. With more than 100 chapters and over 100,000 members, it’s organized rallies, political debates, cultural programs, and other initiatives to spread truths about the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.

Perhaps inspired by events across the region, on January 27, its press release headlined, “Palestinian students claim right to participate in shaping our destiny,” saying:

“….(I)n order to reassert our inalienable rights, (we) claim our right to democratically participate in the shaping of our destiny. We begin a national initiative to campaign for direct elections to the Palestinian National Council (the PLO’s legislative body) on the clear understanding that only a reformed national representative institution, that includes all Palestinians, those struggling in the homeland and those struggling in exile, can create a representative Palestinian platform, and restore the PLO as the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people.”

If popular uprisings offer democratic hope in Tunisia, Algeria, Jordan, Yemen and Egypt, why not Palestine freed from occupation!

Currently, Egypt is the epicenter of regional change, and since the 1978 Camp David Accords, the linchpin of US Middle East imperial policy. However, under Mubarak’s brutal dictatorship, perhaps its day of reckoning has arrived, Robert Fisk saying:

What’s wrong is visible and clear. “The filth and the slums, the open sewers and the corruption of every government official, the bulging prisons, the laughable elections, the whole vast, sclerotic edifice of power has at last brought Egyptians on to the streets….This is not an Islamic uprising – though it could become one – (it) is just one mass of Egyptians stifled by decades of failure and humiliation.”

Even New York Times writer Michael Slackman noticed, headlining his January 28 article, “Egyptians’ Fury Has Smoldered Beneath the Surface for Decades,” saying:

“The litany of complaints against Mr. Mubarak is well known….The police are brutal. Elections are rigged. Corruption is rampant. Life gets harder for the masses as the rich grow richer and the poor grow poorer. Even as Egypt’s economy (grew, so did) people living in poverty….”

Around half its 80 million people are impoverished, living on $2 a day or less. Unemployment is high, especially for youths. In contrast, “walled compounds spring up outside cities with green lawns and swimming pools.” It’s a nation “where those with money have built a parallel world of private schools and exclusive clubs, leaving the rundown cities to the poor.”

Wesleyan University Professor Anne Mariel Peters says “The whole system is seen as (Mubarak’s) fault. People do believe (he’s) the absolute dictator.”

They remember the hypocrisy of his 1981 inaugural address, saying:

“We will embark on our great path: not stopping or hesitating, building and not destroying, protecting and not threatening, preserving and not squandering.”

Instead, he solidified absolute power. According to American University Professor Diane Singerman:

“Once you hollow out civil society and repress the unions and you concentrate so much power around your hands, you are vulnerable and it becomes the flip side of stability. I think he is hated for good reason: the constant humiliation, the over-the-top sort of need to control everything, the excessive force.”

For three decades, absolute power, cronyism, corruption, and repression defined his rule, including its Emergency Law power to arrest anyone without charge and detain them indefinitely. According to the International Federation for Human Rights:

It grants “broad power to impose restrictions on the freedoms of assembly, movement or residence; the power to arrest and detain suspects or those deemed dangerous, and the power to search individuals and places without the need to follow the provisions of the Criminal Procedure Code.”

It’s how despotism works, violating “rights guaranteed by the Egyptian Constitution, which provides for personal freedom in article 41, the inviolability of private homes in article 44, (and) freedom of movement and residence in article 54.”

It also let Mubarak censor or shut down critical publications as well as try suspects in military tribunals convened to convict, not exonerate. As a result, many thousands of political opponents, activists and Islamists languish in prisons, many tortured, others killed.

Some compare his regime to the last days of Iran’s Shah, including mass poverty and unemployment, repression, cronyism and corruption, near universal contempt for Egypt’s ruling class, a capitalist dictatorship, a leadership with no legitimacy, anger for allying with Washington and Israel, and a profound sense of humiliation.

In 2005, the Egyptian Movement for Change (EMC – a coalition of leftists, Nasserists and Islamists) held a series of Cairo demonstrations, criticizing Mubarak publicly, including calling for him to step down. Since then, demands have grown for ending Emergency Law powers, letting judges supervise elections, raising wages, allowing independent unions, redistributing land to poor farmers, and other democratic reforms.

However, no broader movement for change emerged, and Mubarak neutralized dissent by allowing public criticism and privately owned opposition newspapers. According to one EMC member, however: “We were given a license to scream and vent, but what good did it do?”

Until now, most Egyptians remained quiet, largely because Mubarak’s intimidation includes the omnipresent state security in neighborhoods, on campuses and wherever opposition might emerge. In addition, the hated Interior Ministry has an army of informers, targeting leftists, human rights activists and Islamists. It’s one of Mubarak’s most powerful tools, along with the army supported by generous Washington aid.

After 30 despotic years, his day of reckoning has arrived, human rights activist Ghada Shabandar, saying:

“Egyptians are sick and tired of being corrupted and when you live on 300 pounds a month (about $51), you have one of two options: you either become a beggar or a thief. The people sent a message: ‘We are not beggars and we do not want to become thieves.’ “

Youth Movement co-counder Asmaa Mahfouz added: “We want to fight corruption. These are all things that we have agreed on” besides demanding Mubarak go.

Mass Protests Continue
On January 29, Al Jazeera headlined, “Thousands in Cairo defy curfew,” saying:

Anti-Mubarak protests include (t)ens of thousands of people” on Cairo streets, demanding he go. Defying the 4PM – 8AM curfew, soldiers haven’t intervened. Some, in fact, said that “the only way for peace to come to the streets of Cairo is for Mubarak to step down.”

Similar crowds again massed in Alexandria, Suez and other cities. At least three more killings were reported. “The Egyptian cabinet meanwhile has formally resigned, (and) Ahmed Ezz, a businessman and senior (ruling party) figure….also resigned (as) Planning and Budget Committee” chairman.

Protestors, however, want regime, not cabinet change. Reuters reported that police used live fire at protesters. A military officer said troops would “not fire a single bullet on Egyptians,” adding that the only solution is “for Mubarak to leave.”

Scores of deaths have been reported, including 22 in Cairo, 23 in Alexandria and 27 in Suez. Moreover, on Friday alone, over 1,000 were injured, and many hundreds have been arrested.

Under house arrest, Mohamed ElBaradei told Al Jazeera that protests would continue until Mubarak goes followed by systemic political changes. He also called his midnight speech “disappointing” and expressed similar sentiment about Washington’s response, while saying change must be internal.

Obama Expresses “Partnership” with Egypt’s Government and People

Obama, in fact, expressed hollow people support while allying strongly with Mubarak’s dictatorship, saying:

“(T)hose protesting in the streets have a responsibility to express themselves peacefully. Violence and destruction will not lead to the reforms that they seek. (The) United States has a close partnership with Egypt and we’ve cooperated on many issues, including working together to advance a more peaceful region.”

Washington, in fact, supplies nearly $2 billion in aid annually, mostly to repress dissent and assure Mubarak remains a reliable imperial ally. Obama also ignored decades of tyranny that fed up Egyptians demand end. Moreover, he expressed support for human rights on the same day WikiLeaks released cables disclosing US complicity in his use of torture and assassinations of political opponents.

At his January 28 briefing, White House press secretary was asked if Obama’s support for Mubarak is unchanged. His response:

“Well, we are – again, we’re monitoring a very fluid situation….this is not about picking a person or picking the people of a country.”

Then asked what’s next if legitimate grievances aren’t resolved, he said: “(T)his is a situation that will be solved by the people of Egypt.”

In other words, Washington unconditionally supports Mubarak. Egyptians must solve their own problems, America is complicit in causing.

Commenting on January 28, London Guardian columnist Simon Tisdall said “Washington needs a friendly regime in Cairo more than it needs a democratic government,” adding that backing authoritarian rule is “pragmatic” for the same reasons Saddam Hussein was supported in the 1980s and numerous other despots today.

He also called “the balancing act performed by (Obama) and (Secretary of State Clinton) excruciating to watch,” against “a backdrop of street battles, beatings, tear gas, flying bricks, mass detentions and attempts to shut information networks….”

An aroused Mohamed ElBaradei said:

“If you would like to know why the United States does not have credibility in the Middle East, that is precisely the answer.”

Regular Live Coverage

Providing live updates, the Guardian quoted London School of Economics Professor Fawaz Geges calling events:

“the Arab world’s Berlin moment. The authoritarian wall has fallen – and that’s regardless of whether Mubarak survives or not. The barrier of fear has been removed. It is really the beginning of the end of the status quo in the region….Mubarak is deeply wounded. He is bleeding terribly. We are witnessing the beginning of a new era.”

Other regime changes are likely, while Mubarak clings momentarily to power. His likely successor may be spy chief Omar Suleiman, named vice president, a newly created post never tolerated during three decades of his rule. Foreign Policy magazine ranked him the region’s most powerful intelligence official, ahead of Mossad’s Meir Dagan.

Ahmed Shafiq, former civil aviation minister and air force commander, was named prime minister. Egyptians reject them, demanding clean sweep changes, removing all despotic vestiges.

On Saturday, Army vehicles protected wealthy compounds in Cairo suburbs, five-star hotels, and government ministries.

According to City University, London Professor Rosemary Hollis:

“I think it will take a couple of days to organize (Mubarak’s) departure if it happens. It’s going to be a messy process and there will probably be (more) bloodshed. I don’t think (you’ll see) a war with the army on one side and the people on the other. (It) has to decide” which side to back. “It’s one of those moments where….individual lieutenants and soldiers” choose which course to take. Splits in the ranks may occur. An interim government is likely. “The question is what replaces it.”

Maan News said:

“Palestinian officials in Ramallah offered no comment on the Friday events in Egypt. (In Gaza), Palestinians have been watching the unrest in Egypt attentively, and while civilians say they are pleased with the prospect for change, demonstrations in the north and southern Strip on Friday (focused on condemning) the PA and PLO for” leaked Palestine Papers revelations.

“Gaza’s Hamas-run government, like their compatriots in the West Bank, remained mum on the situation.” Gazans agree that regime change is positive.

On Friday, Israel’s daily newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth said a “revolution in Israel’s security doctrine” could follow, according to a defense ministry official.

On January 29, Haaretz writer Anshel Pfeffer headlined, “In Egypt, protesters and soldiers declare: The army and the people are one,” saying:

“(M)ilitary officers stationed in the area embraced the protesters, chanting” the above slogan “hand in hand.” Hoisted on protesters’ shoulders, they removed their helmets, chanting, singing, and saying we’ve already crossed the point of no return. “Game over,” read signs. Haaretz columnist Amos Harel called it an “intelligence chief’s nightmare.” Netanyahu instructed all ministers and officials to stay silent, a senior one saying:

“Israel is in no way interested in involving itself in Egypt’s affairs, and therefore we have received clear instructions to keep a low profile in the Egyptian matter.” Clearly, they’re concerned. According to Harel:

“(C)hanges could even lead to changes in the IDF and cast a dark cloud over the economy….If the Egyptian regime falls….the riots could easily spill over to Jordan and threaten the Hashemite regime. On Israel’s two long peaceful borders, there will then prevail a completely different reality.”

On January 30, in his first public comment, Netanyahu said:

“We are following with vigilance the events in Egypt and in our region….at this time we must show responsibility and restraint and maximum consideration….Our efforts have been intended to continue to preserve stability and security in our region. I remind you that peace between Israel and Egypt has lasted for over three decades,” adding that efforts will be made to “ensure that these relations will continue to exist.”

On January 29, an Amnesty International (AI) action alert said:

“Thirty years of repression is spilling onto the streets of Egypt in the forms of tear-gas, blood and bitter demonstrations. For four days, Egyptian protesters have suffered at the hand of (Mubarak’s) security forces.”

AI’s fellow Egyptian activists want “their voices heard at various Egyptian embassies and consulates. We intend to do all we can to make that happen….That is why we’re asking (support) to place an urgent call to” Egypt’s Washington embassy at 202-895-5400, then press 1 to speak to a real person on repressive conditions.

“(D)on’t take ‘no’ for an answer.” Demand respect for human rights. “Help us make (the) embassy’s phone ring off the hook” for democracy and justice!

Saturday evening, protesters again defied curfew orders. Soldiers aren’t intervening in Cairo, Alexandria, Suez or elsewhere. Jordan’s Muslim Brotherhood leader, Hamman Saeed, warned the Egyptian unrest will spread, toppling other Arab regimes allied with America.

Conditions remain fluid. Millions demand change and intend getting it. Mubarak’s era has passed. Egyptian writer Mona Eltahawy spoke for many saying, “We’ve waited for this revolution for years. Other despots should quail. Change is sweeping through the Middle East….” It remains to be seen what follows. Follow-up articles will explain more.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour/.

posted by Steve Lendman @ 2:20 AM

>It’s not just Tunisians who are hungry

>Cam McGrath, The Electronic Intifada, 21 January 2011

Twenty percent of Egyptians live in poverty. (Matthew Cassel)

CAIRO (IPS) – “Break my heart but don’t come near my bread” goes an old Arabic proverb. Failure to observe it has often come at a high political price.Just ask Tunisian president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, who has now fled.

For weeks his countrymen had protested against high unemployment, endemic corruption and political repression. They also decried the high cost of staple food items such as wheat, sugar and milk, whose prices rose about 25 percent in the first week of January.

“We want bread, water and Ben Ali out,” one group of protestors chanted.

On Friday, after a brutal crackdown and last-minute concessions failed to contain the rising tide, the embattled Tunisian president fled to Saudi Arabia with his family.

Commentators said Ben Ali, who ruled the North African country with an iron fist for 23 years, grossly underestimated the public’s anger over being unable to put food on the table. It was a cardinal error by an aging dictator who a US diplomatic cable released by WikiLeaks described as being out of touch with his people.

The disgraced despot would have done well to recall the bread riots in 1984 that left some eighty Tunisians dead and almost unhinged the government of his predecessor, Habib Bourguiba.
Similar protests erupted in Egypt in 1977, Morocco in 1981 and Jordan in 1989. And it was bread riots in 1988 that eventually brought Islamists to the verge of parliamentary control in Algeria — a situation that led to a decade-long civil war.

Providing cheap food to the masses is part of an unwritten pact between Arab dictators and their people. Since the 1950s, authoritarian Arab regimes have committed to distributing subsidized food staples such as bread, milk and eggs to their populations in exchange for political quiescence.

“While officials acknowledge the burden that subsidies put on national budgets, they have been hesitant to reduce or remove them,” says economist Abdel Fatah el-Gebali of the Al-Ahram Centre for Political and Strategic Studies. “They worry it could cause inflation and lead to social upheaval.”

In Egypt, which allocates about seven percent of GDP to fuel and food subsidies, plans to restructure the food subsidy program are whispered in the halls of parliament. The government wants to replace the current “in-kind” system with a cash payment system that it says would directly target those who need it most. Yet the controversial plan is repeatedly delayed by nervous officials.

Antiquated and inefficient subsidy systems from Rabat to Riyadh are now buckling under the pressure of record-high global food (and fuel) prices. Arab governments face the dilemma: absorb the extra costs of food inflation into national subsidy programs at the risk of deepening budget deficits, or permit domestic food prices to rise at the risk of social unrest.

Tunisia appears to have chosen unwisely.

Of course, food inflation is not a problem on its own. It is the combustible mixture of poverty, high unemployment, economic disparity and rising living costs that has turned the region into a powder keg.

Arab Labor Organization (ALO) figures show that Arab countries have among the highest unemployment rates in the world — an average of 14.5 percent in fiscal year 2007/08 compared with the international average of 5.7 percent. The rates may even be higher if one accepts unofficial estimates.

According to national figures, more than 20 percent of Egyptians live on less than two dollars per day, the UN-recognized poverty threshold. In Algeria, about 23 percent of the population lives below the poverty line, while in Morocco it is 14.3 percent, in Tunisia it is 12.8 percent, and in Yemen the rate exceeds 45 percent.

The popular uprising that sent Tunisia’s president packing was not a political movement, but a spontaneous economic revolt by citizens unable to make ends meet. It began when Mohammad Bouazizi, a 26-year-old university graduate, doused himself with kerosene and set himself alight after Tunisian police confiscated the unlicensed produce cart he was using to make a living.

“Tunisians and Algerians are hungry. The Egyptians and Yemenis are right behind them,” Emirati commentator Mishaal al-Gergawi wrote in the Dubai-based newspaper Gulf News. “Mohammad Bouazizi didn’t set himself on fire because he couldn’t blog or vote. People set themselves on fire because they can’t stand seeing their family wither away slowly, not of sorrow, but of cold stark hunger.”

Bouazizi’s self-immolation on 17 December 2010 sparked a conflagration that toppled the Tunisian government and now threatens to engulf much of the Arab world.

Should the region’s autocratic rulers be worried? To date, they have managed to retain power through sham elections and by neutralizing and demoralizing political opposition. But a bread intifada — in which the disenfranchised masses are ready to face down bullets to secure food for their families — can be a very formidable force.

All rights reserved, IPS – Inter Press Service (2011). Total or partial publication, retransmission or sale forbidden.

>Tunisian PM Vows to Quit Politics after Polls

>

22/01/2011 Tunisian prime minister pledged to quit after holding first polls since the independence from France, and after the ouster of Ex-President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.

In an interview with Tunisian television on Friday, Mohammed Ghannouchi said the transition rule will lead to legislative and presidential elections “in the shortest possible timeframe.”

“After the transition, I will retire from political life,” Ghannouchi said promising to stage “transparent and democratic elections — the first since independence” from France in 1956.

“My role is to bring my country out of this temporary phase and even if I am nominated I will refuse it and leave politics,” Ghannouchi said.

He also said: “all undemocratic laws will be scrapped” during the transition to democracy, mentioning electoral, anti-terrorism and media laws.

PROTESTS CONTINUE

After a month of widespread protests which force Ben Ali, who was for 23 years in power, to fled to Saudi Arabia, protesters have continued to demand the departure of all remnants of the ex-president’s old guard.

The prime minister, who occupied the same post in the previous government before the downfall of Ben Ali exactly a week ago, was speaking as protesters Friday called for all old regime figures to be removed from government.

“Like all Tunisians, I was afraid” under Ben Ali, Ghannouci said in the interview, his ever first direct address to the nation.

Earlier in the day, thousands of Tunisians gathered in front of the interior ministry, demanding the dissolution of the new interim government.

The protesters marched down the Avenue Habib Bourguiba on Friday morning in Tunis, chanting anti-government slogans.

Police blocked the protesters at the interior ministry and prepared water cannons, media reports said. Protesters soon dispersed, with many heading towards the headquarters of the main labor union, calling for a general strike.

Abid Briki, deputy head of the powerful labor union, UGTT, told AFP news agency: “The executive committee of the UGTT met today and called for the dissolution of the government and the formation of a new government for national salvation.”

The union has refused to recognize the new government announced on Monday, in which key figures from the Ben Ali regime hold powerful posts, withdrawing its three appointees.

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian

>Rachid Ghannouchi and Al-Nahda: Will They Return?

>

Rachid Ghannouchi and Al-Nahda: Will They Return?

Yesterday the interim Tunisian government indicated that it would legalize all banned political parties. Some reports certainly indicated that this would include the Al-Nahda (Renaissance) Party, the main Islamist party, suppressed after 1989. Meanwhile, Al-Nahda’s leader in exile, Rachid Ghannouchi (unrelated to Prime Minister Mohammed Ghannouchi), living in exile in London, gave an interview to the Financial Times last Sunday indicating he intends to return to Tunisia soon, despite the fact that he is under a sentence (in absentia) of life imprisonment. (On the other hand, along with legalizing banned parties, the new government said it would free all political prisoners.)

As many have noted, despite Western stereotypical assumptions about the Arab/Islamic world, political Islamism played no detectable role in the Tunisian upheaval; nor would one expect it to in such a determinedly secular society, where Habib Bourguiba used to publicly eat during Ramadan. But Tunisia did have an Islamist movement, Al-Nahda, which showed some electoral strength during the brief liberalizing period after the fall of Bourguiba (when Ghannouchi actually met at least once with Ben Ali), and was subsequently (and ruthlessly) crushed. Ghannouchi left the country in 1989, and was later tried and sentenced to life in absentia.

So will Al-Nahda and its leader re-emerge onto the Tunisian political scene after two decades of suppression? As it happens, back in the early 1990s I published a few articles and a monograph on Al-Nahda, and was accused by the Islamists of being a flack for Ben Ali and by the Tunisian government of being too soft on Al-Nahda, because I wasn’t a particular enthusiast for either. What happens next will be of interest. Tunisia’s secular history and prominent role for women’s rights makes it seem an improbable breeding ground for Islamism in the traditional form, but Al-Nahda has always marched to its own drummer, and Ghannouchi is these days comparing his party to Turkey’s AKP, a democratic party in a highly secularized state. Although I’ve met members of Al-Nahda, I’ve never met Ghannouchi.

Ghannouchi’s track record is controversial; some members of Al-Nahda did engage in political violence in the early 1990s, but the government crackdown on them went far beyond the few provocative acts some committed. And Ghannouchi has always claimed to be a disciple of non-violence. He is not himself a trained cleric (though neither were such Muslim Brotherhood thinkers as Hasan al-Banna and Sayyid Qutb, who, like Ghannouchi, started as schoolteachers), and pursued a secular educational track, studied in Syria (a philosophy degree from Damascus University), flirted with Baathist-style socialism, and still insists he is an advocate for labor unions, worker’s rights, and women’s rights. In a country where the elites come from Tunis or from the Sahel (Bourguiba and Ben Ali), he comes from the deeper south, from the Gabes region. His Syrian period is particularly atypical of Islamists: he reportedly worked for a while as a correspondent for Radio Tirana in then-ultra-Stalinist Albania, studied European philosophers, and flirted with the Baath. He is, in other words, complicated.

In his British exile he has maintained this reputation as a rather progressive Islamist. He has been demonized for decades in many Western countries, in part due to accusations against him by the Ben Ali government. He has been in exile for over 20 years and will turn 70 in June of this year. He says he has no personal political ambitions.

Does Al-Nahda have a residual following in Tunisia, or is Ghannouchi a relic of a different era? I don’t know. Probably few Tunisians do. If the new government means what it says about legalizing all parties, we may have a chance to find out.

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian

>Tunisia to Recognize Banned Parties, Mourns Uprising Victims

>

21/01/2011 Tunisian transitional cabinet on Thursday decided to recognize all banned political parties and agreed on a general amnesty for all political prisoners, as the country witnesses from Friday three days of national mourning for dozens of people killed in the uprising that toppled the Ex-President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali.

The interim government convened for the first time on Thursday amid wide criticism over the presence of old regime figures in powerful posts.

The development minister, Ahmed Nejib Chebbi, said following the meeting: “The minister of justice presented a bill for a general amnesty, which was adopted by the cabinet, which decided to submit it to parliament.”

Asked if the government had decided to lift bans on political groups, including the al-Nahda movement, the youth minister, Mohamed Aloulou, said: “We will recognize all the political movements.”

Earlier this week, the head of al-Nahda, the exiled Rachid al-Ghnannouchi, told al-Jazeera that he had plans to return Tunisia. But the Prime Minister Mohammed al-Ghannouchi said he would only be able to do so once the amnesty law is passed because he carries a life sentence for plots against the state.

The cabinet declared three days of national mourning starting on Friday following the country’s deadly unrest. The government has said 78 people have been killed since the uprising started in December but the United Nations has put the toll at about 100.

The government said in a statement that schools and universities, closed since last week, would reopen on Monday.

Aloulou also told reporters after the cabinet meeting that sporting events, also on hold since last week, would resume “very soon.”

The government spokesman, Tayyib Al Bakouchi, the multiparty government pledged to make security its top priority, to prepare for new presidential elections and speed up political reforms.

The ministers also vowed to restore goods and real estate appropriated by the ruling party under Ben Ali, the former president who fled into exile in Saudi Arabia last Friday after weeks of anti-government protests.

GOVERNMENT UNDER CRITICISM
The government meeting followed another day of protests, with police firing shots into the air to try to disperse hundreds of demonstrators demanding that ministers associated with the rule of Ben Ali leave the government.

The protesters, who gathered outside the Tunis headquarters of Ben Ali’s Constitutional Democratic Rally (CDR) party RCD, Tunisia’s ruling party for several decades, refused to move back when police fired shots from behind a metal fence.

Protests also took place in other towns.

Also on Thursday, the minister of administrative development stepped down.

“I am stepping down for the higher interests of the country in this delicate situation to try to bring the country out of crisis and ensure a democratic transition,” Zouheir M’Dhaffar, a prominent member of the former ruling party and one of the closest to Ben Ali, was quoted as saying by the official TAP news agency.

Earlier on Tuesday, four ministers quit the government in protest at the presence of old regime figures in the cabinet.

The PM Ghannouchi along with other seven ministers, including M’Dhaffar, stayed in their posts in the previous government under Ben Ali’s rule, sparking political and popular protests.

Ghanouchi and the Interim leader Foued Mebazaa left the RCD party this week, but protesters in Tunis and other cities kept up their pressure.

Mebazaa has pledged free and fair elections within six months but has given no dates, as he vowed a “total break” with the past.

Under the constitution, parliamentary and presidential elections should take place in less than two months.

Agencies

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian

>A Salute to the People of Tunisia

>

By uspcn
  Published: January 15, 2011

The US Palestinian Community Network is honored to stand in full, unequivocal, support of the people of Tunisia as they remain steadfast in their struggle against a corrupt, brutal, and oppressive regime.

In doing so, we pay homage and reciprocate the unequivocable and crucial support of the Tunisian people in the Palestinian struggle for freedom, dignity and equality.

We stand in full solidarity with the Tunisian people, their unions, political and civic associations, as they confront a regime that failed to fulfill its duties to its citizens, nor protect their most basic rights. We are heartened by the Tunisian people’s individual and collective acts of extraordinary bravery, the unity of their demostrations, and the clarity of their message.

Just as there is a need to end Israel’s settler colonialism and its ethnic cleansing of indigenous Palestinians, we must also confront a treacherous leadership that has undermined the Palestinian people’s political will. Indeed, all Arab regimes who terrorize and attempt to crush the will of their citizenry, must be vanquished, and held accountable for their crimes against our long-suffering people.

The courageous Tunisian people have shown us the way. They have proven once again that, even in the darkest of circumstances, hope remains. The popular demonstrations, of young people, street vendors, doctors, trade unionists, students, lawyers, men, and women, manifested just that spirit, and in doing so, exemplified the energizing power of mass mobilization and collective action.

The USPCN pays boundless tribute to Muhammad Bouazizi and the tens of martyrs of this revolt for freedom, liberty, and people’s sovereignty. As the revolt reaches a new phase, we hope that their sacrifices will not be in vain. We hope that the Tunisian people are able to harness this historic moment, and protect and advance their struggle for a just and free society.

From Rabat to Baghdad, we hope the Tunisian example spurs all our people; to free themselves from the shackles of fear, and to struggle together, in unity and with unstoppable revolutionary spirit.

We call on our communities, and all Arab communities in the diaspora and in exile, to take inspiration from the people of Tunis. Let this motivate us to continue the hard and liberating work of building collectively for change, united in a spirit worthy of our just and noble cause.

إذا الشعب يوما أراد الحياة / فلا بد أن يستجيب القدر
ولا بد لليل أن ينجلي/ ولابد للقيد أن ينكسر
أبو القاسم الشابي

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian

>Tunisia’s Interim Leader Pledges “Total Break” with Past

>

20/01/2011 About one week after Tunisia’s Ex-President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali fled into Saudi Arabia amid a popular uprising, Interim Leader Foued Mebazaa promised on Wednesday a “total break” with the past and hailed “a revolution of dignity and liberty”.

“Together we can write a new page in the history of our country,” Mebazaa said in his first public appearance since being sworn into office on Saturday.

In an address to the nation late Wednesday, the interim leader vowed to ensure an amnesty for political prisoners, media freedoms and an independent judiciary.

Mebazaa thanked the army for ensuring security during recent days of chaos.

“We have discovered those responsible for the terror in our country. We have arrested these armed gangs,” he said.

He also paid homage to “the martyrs of dignity and liberty” — a reference to the dozens of people killed in the protests.

More than 100 people have reportedly died in the unrest, the UN said, promising to carry out an investigation.

CABINET TO CONVENE AMID PROTESTS

Earlier on Wednesday, hundreds of protesters led a rally in central Tunis demanding that former allies of deposed Ben Ali stop leave power and later, about 30 youths broke a curfew and set up camp to stage a sit-in near the heavily guarded interior ministry.

Waving banners and chanting, they called for all links to the old regime to be severed. However, riot police did not respond with tear gas or water cannons, media reported.

The cabinet is to hold its first cabinet meeting on Thursday but it remains clear if the cabinet can survive after the withdrawal of a number of opposition figures angry over the number of Ben Ali loyalists handed positions.
The government was unveiled on Monday, with eight ministers from the previous government under Ben Ali, including Prime Minister Mohammed Ghannouchi, held on to their posts.

On Tuesday four ministers quit the cabinet in protest at the presence of old regime figures in the new government.

In response, Ghannouchi and Mebazaa quit Ben Ali’s Constitutional Democratic Rally (CDR) party.

In the same context, a newly appointed Tunisian minister and former opposition leader has pledged to resign if “free and fair elections” are not held in the coming months.

“Of course I will resign if I begin to doubt that it will not be free and fair elections in six or seven months,” said Ahmed Nejid Chebbi, leader of the former opposition Progressive Democrat Party (PDP) told BBC late Wednesday.

“I am not the only person who will resign — all the people who came to this unity government will resign if the elections are not free and fair, or if the measures we’ve decided will not be carried on immediately.”

BEB ALI’S FAMILY ‘ARRESTED’

Meanwhile, prosecutors opened a vast inquiry into the affairs of Ben Ali, including investigations into his assets and the arrest of dozens of family members.

Tunisian investigators have said they will look into the extensive domestic and foreign assets held by Ben Ali.

Tunisian television reported that 33 members of the deposed leader’s family had been arrested on suspicion of “crimes against Tunisia”.

“Investigations will be carried out in order for them to face justice,” a statement read out on state television said, citing an “official source”.

The central bank also took over a bank owned by Ben Ali’s brother-in-law in the first such move against assets controlled by the former strongman’s influential family, which formed the core of Tunisia’s business elite.

It showed footage of gold and jewelry allegedly found in the possession of the arrested members of Ben Ali’s family.

In a separate development, the new government said it had freed all political prisoners.

Agencies

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian

>Tunisia – the people’s revolution

>

By Yvonne Ridley

18 January 2011

Yvonne Ridley comments on the British media’s lopsided coverage of the uprising in Tunisia – devoting airtime to the inconvenience caused to UK tourists and focusing on the role of social media rather than the “revolutionaries who physically took to the streets and faced down live ammunition, baton charges and tear gas”.

The Western media have been somewhat caught out by the rapid demise of one of the most brutal dictators in the world.

But not to worry, the CIA famously missed the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 after working around the clock 24/7 for five decades warning us constantly of the dangers of ignoring the Red Peril. Still, we all have our off days.

However, when journalists did finally catch up with events in Tunisia it was the plight of the British holidaymakers that grabbed the headlines, not the scores of locals who had been gunned down by government forces.

So what harrowing tales emerged at the airports as the Britons piled off the planes to freedom?

BBC Five Live reported the trembling words of a Yorkshireman who said: “We can’t believe it. They shut all the bars. Then when we got t’airport duty free were closed!”

Yes, the BBC went right to the heart of the matter showing once again it had its finger on the pulse of popular opinion.

That was on 14 January and then more dramatic stories emerged the next two days as returning tourists talked about roaming street gangs looting and setting fire to property, and what a grand job the police were doing.

The so-called “roaming street gangs” were in fact highly organized thugs in the employ of the Tunisian Ministry of Interior on a black propaganda exercise designed to demonize the ordinary people who had finally snapped after being bludgeoned physically and mentally by President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and his police.

Of course, most of the Britons were probably unaware they were holidaying in a police state in the first place – it’s not mentioned in the brochures .– funny that!

The reactions of the traumatized tourists prompted one leading Tunisian blogger to Tweet this rather blunt, if not personal piece of advice: “A revolution is ongoing, take your drunk ass somewhere else. Return after elections.”

Now that the “human interest” angle of the terrorized tourists has been virtually exhausted, the Western media are trying to explain the ongoing demonstrations and the cause of the revolution…

As far as the media are concerned, the revolution erupted thanks to WikiLeaks, Twitter and Facebook. What nonsense and what an insult to Tunisians, young and old. The revolution was driven by ordinary people who finally snapped because of the soaring cost of food prices, rising unemployment and the brutality of the police state.

Many of the revolutionaries were also protesting against the dictatorship and lack of real democracy and freedom of speech. Throw in the police brutality, corruption of the ruling families and censorship of the social networks (YouTube was blocked and Facebook accounts and bloggers were regularly hacked), and something was bound to snap.

We Westerners, hooked up to our Blackberries and iPhones, were merely given front row electronic seats from where we could cheer on the real revolutionaries who physically took to the streets and faced down live ammunition, baton charges and tear gas.

Now we are told there will be elections in Tunisia in the next 60 days or so, and when the people make their choice of government I hope the Western media, Western governments and the United Nations set aside their usual prejudices and accept the outcome – unlike what happened in Gaza.

Even today the population of Gaza is suffering from a collective punishment at the hands of the West for democratically choosing Hamas. But as Ben Ali has now just learned, you can’t impose your will on people because in the end they will rebel.

Without outside interference, I am confident the Tunisian people will make the right choices for them and whoever or whichever party they choose we should respect the outcome.

There is already excited chatter of trade unionists, former opposition parties and a few Islamists forming a coalition government.

Personally, I don’t care who takes power as long as those elected are the people’s choice and they put the people first.

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