February 2011 Archives
February 28, 2011
Libyan Berbers Revolt
Not in any way surprising, given Qadhdhafi's repression of Berbers: Libya's Berbers join the revolution in fight to reclaim ancient identity | World news | The Guardian
Libya's Berbers join the revolution in fight to reclaim ancient identityQadhdhafi's senseless repression of Berbers always has puzzled me, however.
Mountain tribes in the west, also called Amazigh, unite with opposition after decades of Gaddafi repressing their identity
Tunisia, more resignations
Well, I hope this will calm spirits. Libya uprising - live updates | World news | guardian.co.uk
2.20pm - Tunisia: The Tunisian industry and technology minister has resigned from the government, according to the official TAP news agency.Unike Shaheen I don't think Ghannouchi was per se a bad fellow to be there, but damaged goods is damaged goods. If this allows movement forward, fine. But I worry that the hot-headed instant results oriented people will continue to push, at the expense of building more durable efforts, politics. In any case, in light of the events in Egypt, and especially in Libya, the Ghannouchi types come off looking comparatively good re mature politics.
Mohamed Afif Chelbi was one of only two remaining ministers who served in the cabinet under the ousted president, Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali. His exit comes in the wake of yesterday's resignation of the prime minister, Mohamed Ghannouchi, who held the same post under Ben Ali.
Ghannouchi quit after renewed violent demonstrations in the country by protesters angry about ties of members of the post-revolution government to the old regime.
February 27, 2011
French FM resigns over Tunisia
This was long overdue, she was really flagrantly incompetent in handling the crises in Maghreb:
Pressure mounts on Gaddafi - live updates | World news | guardian.co.uk
5.04pm: The French foreign minister, Michele Alliot-Marie, has resigned after mishandling the crisis in Tunisia. "I ask you to accept my resignation," Alliot-Marie wrote in the letter, a copy of which was seen by Reuters. President Nicolas Sarkozy, due to make a televised address later today, is expected to replace her with the defence minister, Alain Juppe, a veteran conservative who served as prime minister and foreign minister in the 1990s.
Guide Libyan Mercenaries Profile
A very useful and insightful article from The Telegraph, it confirms Qadhdhafi did in fact bring in mercenaries from Chad, although given the story told by a young one, it is reasonable to presume there were bait & switch going on:
African mercenaries in Libya nervously await their fate - Telegraph
African mercenaries in Libya nervously await their fateNevertheless, as the article notes there are elements still out there, the return to stability after The Guide is killed - that seems certain - is a far from certain thing.
Mercenaries captured in Libya are facing an uncertain future, writes Nick Meo in Al-Bayda.
Tunisian PM resigns, more protest deaths
While I am not per se favourable to Ghannouchi, I am worried by
Police Break Up Demonstrations in Tunis | Africa | English
Tunisia's interim Prime Minister Mohammed Ghannouchi has announced his resignation, saying he hopes it will "help his successor work to solve the country's problems." The resignation was announced as police clashed with protesters, a day after three people were killed in anti-government protests.
While the desire to "cleanse" the government of anyone associated with Ben Ali is an understandable one, it is not - as Iraq showed - necessarily a good one in the short term. The technocrats with a mastery of issues, etc. are needed to help transition things, and further if all the people associated with Ben Ali are unceremoniously excluded, the options of destabilisation begins to look better for them.
Most of the issues Tunisia faces are ones needing long-term effort, removing faces is not going to create jobs, solve corruption nor allow policy stability to get the economy restarted. NOR will it allow the opposition to build proper political networks.
February 26, 2011
Africans & Libya, Mercenaries
An interesting comment to highlight
Live Blog - Libya Feb 26 | Al Jazeera Blogs
AJE correspondent reports that anti-government protesters have attacked black Africans in Libya, taking them for mercenaries.
Seidou Boubaker Jallou and his friend, both from Mali, fled for their lives by night to the Tunisian border. They said the roads out of the West are still in the hands of those loyal to Gaddafi. Jallou says:
The situation is very dangerous - every day there are more than a hundred who die - every day - every day there are shootings - the most dangerous situation is for foreigners like us - and also us black people - Because Gaddafi brought soldiers from Chad from Niger - they are black and they are killing Arabs.
Certainly if you're a Chadian exile from the Libyan-Chad wars days, and you're fighting for The Guide, you probably are going to stick it, since otherwise you're toast (and not welcome at home either).
Tunisia, Protesting Disease
Libya in crisis – live coverage | World news | guardian.co.uk
I'm growing concerned that the Tunisian case can go seriously sideways. I fail to see how bringing down Ghannouchi helps. Now is the time to monitor and to prepare. Changing faces in an interim regime does not solve much. Organising proper parties, political networks. Change forced by demonstration is only a good thing as a very extraordinary measure.
Three people have been killed in clashes between Tunisian security forces and youths rioting in central Tunis, an interior ministry official told Reuters.
The claims of Ben Ali agents provocateurs can't be dismissed out of hand, but is a bit pat.
The official, who declined to be named, said another 12 had been injured in the clashes, which he said occurred after a riot orchestrated by loyalists of ousted President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali. He said about 100 people had been arrested.
"Those who were arrested have admitted they were pushed by former Ben Ali officials," he said. "Others said they were paid to do it."
A Reuters witness had earlier seen Tunisian soldiers fire into the air and use tear gas in an effort to disperse dozens of youths, many carrying sticks, who were breaking shop windows near Tunis's Barcelona Station
More from French sources, which give more detail and suggest perhaps by timing and behaviour that the agent provacteur thesis is not unfounded - but could as well suggest that the slum hooligan profile exploiting the situation:
Bilad, the Ides of March: Palestinians Join In Demonstration Call
Apparently anonymous shebab al-feisbuk are proposing mass demonstrations to unify the Palestinians in the face of divided leaderships on March 15. (I notice the English language Facebook page is far far more full of non-Arab "solidarity" types chiming in. Hmmmmmm..........not a positive thing IMO.)
February 25, 2011
Tunisia, Don't forget Tunisia.
Don't Forget Tunisia
25 Feb 2011 05:19 pm
J. Scott Carpenter says it is "going to need help from the international community - and a lot of it":
If Tunisia doesn't succeed, no other country in the region can. Tunisia's 10 million inhabitants do not suffer the ethnic and sectarian divisions that bedevil many of their neighbors. Tunisians are well educated and largely middle class -- 80 percent own their own homes. Nearly all Tunisians practice the same form of moderate Islam. The populace looks to Europe for its economic and political inspiration. The cry Tunisians made famous around the world during their revolution, "Dégage!" (Get out!), is tellingly in French, not Arabic.
The underlying article is good, but the emphasized parts are annoying. Just because someone speaks French or English well doesn't mean moderation. Tedious condensation that (doubtless the writer, a former State person, was a francophone). Same re "moderate Islam" - I understand why it has to be said in these articles but really it gets tiresome.
Let me suggest an alternative, "the ordinary, non-extremist Islam of most of the Islamic world..." - excepting the seriously retarded places, (AfPak, Gulf).
Posted by The Lounsbury at 07:12 PM
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Filed Under: EU Foreign Policy , Economic Development , Foreign Policy & MENA , Maghreb , North Africa , Political Development , The MENA '48 , Tunisia Revolution , US Foreign Policy
Egypt: Surprise Surprise, plus ça change...
As the French saying goes, "plus ça change..."
Gaddafi defiant amid Libya turmoil – live | World news | guardian.co.uk
9pm GMT: The Guardian's Jack Shenker reports from Cairo on another massive demonstration there and increased unease at the country's military rulers:Emphasis added.
After a major rally in Tahrir Square to mark the one-month anniversary of the 25 January protests that launched Egypt's revolution, several hundred demonstrators are now camping outside parliament in an effort to force out Ahmed Shafiq, an old member of the Mubarak-era cabinet who has improbably clung on to the post of prime minister in the aftermath of Mubarak's departure.
General public frustration towards the remnants of the Mubarak regime - and the ruling Supreme Military Council's apparent unwillingness to remove them - is beginning to crystallise, and Shafiq is the most visible target.
Earlier this evening there were clashes outside the parliament building between protesters and the army, and stories of activists being tortured at the hands of military police are circulating.
Although many have been suspicious of the armed forces' intentions from the moment Mubarak stepped down, today marks a real escalation in the strength of public sentiment against the way Egypt's "transition period" is being handled by the generals, whom many want to see pushed aside in favour of a civilian cabinet.
"The army is acting with the same unaccountable violence against civilians as the police force did," warned one activist on Twitter.
It is dawning on the protesters / opposition that the departure of Mubarek was more a sleight of hand by the system than an actual change.
More Libya, burning Libya
Further items on Libya:
Live Blog - Libya Feb 25 | Al Jazeera Blogs
6: 25pm Serbia denied media reports on Friday that its pilots or ground crews had been involved in Libyan air force bombing missions against protesters, adding that it was suspending all its arms exports to the country. The Serbian Defence Ministry were responding to reports in Arab and Maltese media that Serb mercenary pilots took part in bombing runs against protesters in the Libyancities of Tripoli and Benghazi.Kha, well the Serbs have a well-deserved reputation in this area, I doubt the Serb defence ministry would even know...
Further, re The Guide
Libya in turmoil - live updates | World news | guardian.co.uk
5.22pm: The BBC's John Simpson has interviewed the former Libyan interior minister Abdul Fattah Younis al-Abidi, who resigned on Tuesday and went over to the opposition. In an extract of the interview, which has just been broadcast, he called on Gaddafi to resign. Simpson added that the former minister told him that Gaddafi was "probably insane" and thought that he would last more than a few days. Simpson reporter the former minister as predicting Gaddafi would not commit suicide, but would instead go down fighting, which would be a "form of suicide".I am convinced that there is still significant time in front of us for Qadhdhafi, unless someone inside assassinates him, to fight. Tripoli is likely to be a last stand (if he is not preparing a Desert War, which perhaps he could pull off as a guerilla).
5.18pm: In a sign of the worsening situation in Tripoli the US is considering closing its embassy in the capital amid violence between Gaddifi supporters and anti-government protesters, a US official has told Reuters.
The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the move was being considered but no decision had been made.
MENA Unrest: Moroccan Fruits
Taking our eyes off of the carnage in Libya and what I believe to be the beginnings of a civil war there, a quick note on Morocco. The local press reported this a.m. rumours that the current prime minister and his government are likely to be booted. There are rumours flying around about what will happen. I heard from a very good friend of mine with Palace connections, direct ones, that the decision is already made, the Abbas El Fassi government is toast. The only question is who in the ministries are getting replaced and who are not.
To lighten the moment: Qadhdhafi Joke (Ar w Trans)
A joke making the rounds by email:
يحكى أن القذافي زار مدارس المغرب ذات مرة في عهد الحسن الثاني ووجد المعلمين يلاحظون في دفاتر تلامذتهم ب"حسن" و"مستحسن" و"حسن جدا" فأمر معلميه لما عاد إلى ليبيا أن يكتبوا للتلاميذ "مستقذف" "قذافي" و"قذافي جدا
It's said that Qadhdhafi visited a Moroccan school in the time of [King] Hassan II and found "Very Good" [Ar: Hassan Jidun], "Commendable" [Mustehassen] and "Good"[Hassan] [all act. Mor. school grades] that teachers noted in the workbooks of the students. So when he returned to Libya, he ordered his teachers to use the grades "Very Qadhafi" [Q. jidun], "Established / Mustaqadhif" and "Qadhafi"(joke resides in Hassan II's name].
February 24, 2011
Chadian Mercenaries Report (Figaro, Fr)
Figaro cites a Chadian claim that Chad gov sent mercenaries to support The Guide. It also indicates that mercenaries were also sourced from Dar Fur, from the rebel Zaghawa.
Le Figaro - International : La garde tchadienne au secours du colonel Kadhafi
N'Djamena aurait envoyé des troupes pour soutenir le «guide» libyen, qui recruterait également des groupes armés soudanais.
Le Tchad aurait envoyé des soldats au secours du colonel Kadhafi. C'est ce qu'affirme le site Tchadactuel, habituellement bien renseigné grâce à des sources proches du palais présidentiel de N'Djamena. Selon ce site, le président Idriss Déby lui-même aurait ordonné ce déploiement. Des habitants de Benghazi confirment l'arrivée de ces troupes.
D'après d'autres sources, des Tchadiens vivant sur place seraient également recrutés par les autorités de leur pays. Le chiffre de plus de mille militaires a été avancé, sans pouvoir être vérifié.Le Soudan, ajoute Tchadactuel, aurait également été sollicité mais aurait refusé. Le Tchad faciliterait en revanche le passage des Soudanais désireux d'aller se battre en Libye. Le JEM (Mouvement pour la justice et l'égalité), le plus armé des groupes rebelles du Darfour, fournirait aussi des hommes. La longue frontière entre le Tchad et la province rebelle de l'ouest du Soudan facilite les choses, tout comme la présence des deux côtés de cette frontière de membres de l'ethnie Zaghawa, celle du président tchadien.
Défection importante dans les forces spéciales
Comme toujours en Libye, l'argent du pétrole pourrait alimenter cette aide militaire. Avec le risque de déclencher des représailles contre les travailleurs tchadiens installés en Libye, et déjà mal vus par la population. Les militaires venus du Tchad pourraient être arrivés en Libye par le sud, franchissant une région montagneuse habitée de part et d'autre par l'ethnie Toubou, qui a dans les années 1990 mené une véritable guerre contre le gouvernement tchadien. Leur réaction est une inconnue.
Revolution and Cultural Revival
This interesting note from our friend Nisrine Malek is worth reading (and less depressing the watching Libya go to hell.
Egypt has returned from the cultural backwaters | Nesrine Malik | Comment is free | guardian.co.uk
I think there is an opportunity, it is certainly true that despite what the American Gov agents are always telling me, Egypt ceased to be a though leader in the Arab world ... well more or less since Sadat.
Egypt has returned from the cultural backwaters
Once the dominant force in Arab culture, post-revolutionary Egypt now has the chance to return to this role
Flight of the Qadhdhafis
Not quite flight of the aviator.
Live Blog - Libya Feb 24 | Al Jazeera Blogs
10:52am Lebanese aythorites confirm they refused to allow a Libyan plane to land in Beirut yesterday - because its pilot would not identify its passengers. Online reports suggest the passengers included the wife of one of Gaddafi's sons.
combined with the Malta reports of turning away one or more unscheduled Libyan flights, I think we can see his sons probably don't share his Crazy Old Bedouin inclination to fight to the death. It probably would be preferable for Lebanon and Malta, etc. to allow them in, as that might result in a break and flight of Qadhdhafi supporters. Turning them around only reinforces the fight to the last man mentality.
February 23, 2011
SubSah Afr Expats in Libya A useful point of reflexion
An item I believe is being potentially neglected in thinking about Gaddafi's reservoir of enforcers / sowers of civil war is the SSAf population in Libya, and the Black Libyans.
BBC News - Libya: Who is propping up Gaddafi?
Col Gaddafi has long fostered close relations with African countries, having turned his back on the Arab world some time ago, and there are an estimated 500,000 African expatriates in Libya out of a total population of six million.To put this in context, we need to think about the history of anti-Black progroms in Libya
The number of those serving as pro-Gaddafi mercenaries is thought to be quite small but their loyalty to his regime is said to be unquestioned and there are reports of extra flights being laid on to bring in more in recent days.
Civil War bis
Underscoring that this is unlikely to end quickly or nicely, this report
Libya on the brink as Gaddafi promises showdown - live updates | World news | guardian.co.uk
1.07pm: My colleague Ghaith Abdul-Ahad has just been on the phone from the Tunisia-Libya border. He says there are hundreds of people coming through, mainly Tunisians. Some have been harassed and some beaten up by Libyans who blame them for stirring up trouble. They are scared.The item re Tunisians strongly suggests that Qadhdhafi's line about foreign agitators, Tunisians, Moroccans, Egyptians, etc. being behind violence has a real audience. I believe the thesis of a civil war is very credible. The East is solidly Anti, but the West...
At least one of the towns on the roads between Tripoli and the border is in the hands of anti-Gaddafi rebels. Checkpoints are manned by the Libyan army and pro-Gaddafi rebels.
On the Libyan side the border is manned by plain-clothes police who are "very, very, very loyal to Gaddafi, and very aggressive," Ghaith says.
The Libyan Mirage Defection: Maltese First account
Very interesting note from Malta's English newspaper
.... Meanwhile, AFM sources have told this newspaper that the jets, ... broke out of formation when their squadron was ordered to attack Libyan civilians. ..
While it is not yet known whether the two Colonels were in command of the mission and whether they encouraged their fellow pilots to make for Malta, it has been established that the two aircraft peeled off and dove for the deck. They flew below 500 feet to avoid detection while in Libyan airspace – presumably both out of fear of surface-to-air missiles being launched from Libya and also to lose the rest of the squadron. It is understood that the flight, which takes about 40-45 minutes on a commercial jet liner, took only six to nine minutes in the Mirages, as afterburners were engaged. In pilot talk, as one source put it, they “bunted, dove for the deck, hit the afterburners and screamed towards Malta”.
There are two accounts of how the aircraft made contact. Some sources say they requested emergency landing clearance as they were out of fuel (Malta is obliged to acquisce), while others said that the planes landed in formation and only announced their arrival when they set down on the tarmac on the commercial runway.
The newspaper also notes that the flight time is scary for Malta as a reminder of how close they are to Libya should more serious trouble breaks out.
Notes of Caution re Qadhdhafi support (& civil war)
A useful note from Leila Fadel in the Washington post regarding the mixed bag in Libya.
In Libya, increasingly divergent views of Gaddafi
In Libya, increasingly divergent views of Gaddafi
By Leila Fadel
Wednesday, February 23, 2011; A01
TOBRUK, LIBYA - On Libya's northeastern border, there are no visa procedures and no passport-control officers. There's just a gaggle of armed young men - defected soldiers and police officers - waving people through.
"Welcome to the new Libya," reads a graffiti tag at the crossing.
The young men eagerly displayed cellphone videos that they said depicted government mercenaries shooting down women, children and men. They told of rapes, looting and killings over the past week, as demonstrators have risen up in open revolt and the government of Moammar Gaddafi has cracked down hard.
"Our leader is a tyrant, and he'll kill us all in cold blood," said Hassan el-Modeer, a British-educated engineer. "The world needs to intervene as soon as possible."
Opposition supporters described this area to visitors as the "liberated eastern region of Libya," and anti-government sentiment runs high here.
But it is also clear that deep divisions remain. Even in this coastal town, more than 900 miles from Libya's capital and in an area that has slipped well beyond the government's control, some still support Gaddafi, who has ruled this country for 41 years
Further in the article is noted signs of ongoing support - no reason to believe not genuine - of the Guide. It is easy to get caught up in the moving video and emails, etc., from Libya and underestimate the potential of 'counter-revolutionary' blowback from people with various reasons to support The Guide.
The incoherence of Arab Left commentary: West Damned if it does, damned if it doesn't
Typical of Angry Arab, this comment:
The Angry Arab News Service/وكالة أنباء العربي الغاضب
Obama and Hillary still don't want Qadhdhafi to surrender power: they fear the impact on oil field, just as they feared the impact in Egypt on the lousy peace treaty.
Where he gets this from escapes, as the Americans are clearly not friends of The Guide by any rational stretch of the imagination. Evidently, if the American government is not making sloppy posturing statements like himself, that means they're for something. It escapes, apparently, that it is not the role of diplomacy to make angry, loose commentary (in public). Not that American condemnations, or anyone else's is going to have any effect on The Guide at all. It would be pure self-indulgence. Which is fine for bloggers, but incompetent idiocy for governments.
Of course this same line of commentary, when the Americans do say something, then wrings its hands about Western interference in Arab affaires. In fact the Obama administration is doing the Arabs a favour by staying out of the way, and giving the protesters the space not to be foreign stooges, but themselves.
An interesting hypothesis re The Guide's popular committees habit actually having some blowback for him in providing institutions for popular revolt - the real kind.
Blog - The Arabist
Reports from liberated east Libyan cities suggest an impressive level of organization on the part of the populace, with most basic urban functions up and running. One wonders if Qaddafi's ideosyncratic jamahiriyan ideology, roping people into participating in rubber-stamp "Basic People's Congresses" to create a facade of direct democracy, has in fact formed the provided the institutional template for a countrywide insurrection against him.Intriguing propo, not sure if it will stand up, but interesting.
February 22, 2011
Updated Open Thread on Region Rumbles
Idle note: UN chief Ban-ki Moon reports: "As I said extensively to Colonel [Muammar] Gaddafi this morning over the phone, I urged him that human rights and freedom of assembly and freedom of speech must be fully protected. " After all this, he's still just a colonel?! Anyway, new open thread on developments.
Foreign Intervention, Maybe, Maybe Not: Reservations on Marc Lynch's Call For Libya Help
Marc Lynch, aka Abu Aardvark, calls for sorta kinda foreign NATOidal interventionish actiony-like things in Libya, which he compares to Rwanda and others. I sorta kinda both agree and disagree, what with being near ideologically non-interventiony, but kind of ambivalently sympathetic and ok with loopholes to sort of allow it, but maybe not really. Hope that's muddy enough for you.
February 21, 2011
This seems to be it. Full out military repression including full use of air force.
Libya uprising - live updates | World news | guardian.co.uk
5.19pm: Reuters has filed a story corroborating our report on the Libyan armed forces attacking parts of Tripoli (see 5.07pm). The news agency reported that military aircraft attacked crowds of anti-government protesters in the Libyan capital Tripoli on Monday, according to al-Jazeera:
A Libyan man, Soula al-Balaazi, who said he was an opposition activist, told the network by telephone that Libyan air force war planes had bombed "some locations in Tripoli".
He said he was talking from a suburb of Tripoli.
No independent verification of the report was immediately available.
An analyst for London-based consultancy Control Risks said the use of military aircraft on his own people indicated the end was approaching for Muammar Gaddafi.
"These really seem to be last, desperate acts. If you're bombing your own capital, it's really hard to see how you can survive," said Julien Barnes-Dacey, Control Risks' Middle East analyst.
"But I think Gaddafi is going to put up a fight. I think the rumours of him fleeing to Venezuela are going to prove wide of the mark. In Libya more than any other country in the region, there is the prospect of serious violence and outright conflict."
I agree re the idea of flying to Venezuela.
Et on Morocco
The violence that broke out in the Moroccan demonstrations seems to me to be connected with two things.
First, copy-catism among some of the "Youth"(teenagers) who've been watching this stuff on TV and it sees fun.
Second, Endemic hooliganism among the Bidonville (slums) youth, who are always dangerous as the full-out deployment of police and military every time there is a major football match indicates.
Morocco riots leave five dead | World news | guardian.co.uk
Protest organisers condemned the rioting and looting that followed the demonstrations, blaming it on thugs and football hooligans returning from matches....
While the mostly middle-class pro-democracy protesters had pledged to remain peaceful, there were warnings before the marches that the real tinderbox in Morocco lay in the poverty-stricken outer suburbs of the cities, where many of Sunday's rioters are thought to live.
Interior minister Taeib Cherqaoui said 128 people had been injured on Sunday, mostly police officers. A further 120 people were detained. He said "troublemakers" had vandalised dozens of public buildings, shops and banks.It is no surprise the main violence is in these particularly disfavoured cities (ex Marrakech which is not disfavoured, but which has become insanely expensive and oulad el bled - the locals - feel marginalised / squeezed out by chichi Euros buying properties, etc)., The Moroccan government seems to be taking a very smart and adult line on this.
Tangier, Larache, Marrakech, Sefrou, Tetouan and Guelmim suffered the worst violence, with a total of 33 public buildings being attacked or set on fire.
Cherqaoui said the demonstrations themselves had been peaceful, calling them an example of "the healthy practise of the freedom of expression".
There is need for reform to political process and addressing equality of opportunity (attacking Oligarchism) in the near term, but I don't see Morocco as a tinderbox. Hopefully the Gov will use this as an excuse to reactivate lagging political and economic liberalization.
Libya, the descent
The information out of Libya is chaotic, unreliable and disturbing. What can only be concluded is that the Guide's regime is hanging on by the slimmest threads, but that the Qadhdhafi clan know that, and they know that if they go, they personally will likely die unpleasantly. So their solution: unleash hell.
BBC News - Protests across the Middle East and North Africa
1556: Two Libyan fighter jets have landed unexpectedly in Malta, witnesses say. The Mirage jets were seen landing at Malta's international airport on Monday afternoon. The Maltese foreign ministry said it was trying to establish why the planes had landed.
Dozens reported killed in Tripoli unrest | Top News | Reuters
In signs of disagreement inside Libya's ruling elite, the justice minister resigned in protest at the "excessive use of violence" against protesters.
Libya's ambassador to India told the BBC he was resigning in protest at the violent crackdown
It said security forces were looting banks and other government institutions in Tripoli, and protesters had broken into several police stations and wrecked them.
A Reuters reporter in Tripoli said residents were stocking up on essential goods, apparently in anticipation of new clashes after nightfall. There were long queues at food shops and long lines of cars at fuel stations.
Gaddafi's son Saif al-Islam Gaddafi appeared on national television in an attempt both to threaten and to calm people, saying the army would enforce security at any price to put down one of the bloodiest revolts to convulse the Arab world.
"We will keep fighting until the last man standing, even to the last woman standing," he said on Sunday.
In the eastern city of Benghazi, protesters appeared to be largely in control after forcing troops and police to retreat to a compound. Government buildings were set ablaze and ransacked.
"Youths with weapons are in charge of the city. There are no security forces anywhere," University of Benghazi professor Hanaa Elgallal told Al Jazeera International television.
Salahuddin Abdullah, a self-described protest organiser, said: "In Benghazi there is celebration and euphoria ... The city is no longer under military control. It is completely under demonstrators' control."
There were reports that soldiers who refused to fire on civilians were executed by commanding officers in Benghazi.
Après moi, le deluge.
February 20, 2011
Libya: Dancing by The Grave (but whose end game?)
Only 48 hours ago if someone had asked me could the Guide fall I would have said, "not bloody likely." Now I am not sure at all.
Live Blog - Libya | Al Jazeera Blogs
12:11 am: Libya's ambassador to China, Hussein Sadiq al Musrati, has just resigned on air with Al Jazeera Arabic. He called on the army to intervene, and has called all diplomatic staff to resign.
He made claims about a gunfight between Gaddafi's sons and also claimed that Gaddafi may have left Libya. Al Jazeera has no confirmation of these claims.
11:25 pm Online reports claim remaining pro-Gaddafi militia in Benghazi, around the Elfedeel Bu Omar compound, "are being butchered by angry mobs". It is impossible to verify the claims, though Al Jazeera has spoken with several people in the city who say protesters control the city, as security forces flee to the airport.
However, I believe that Qadhdhafi and the people close to his system are going to have every reason in the world to fight savagely for their position as I don't think a negotiated solution or a light resolution is possible given they went the Full Qadhdhafi.
Libya, The Revolt of the East & The Guide takes the Chinese option
The Libyan situation rather smells like civil war, and that between regions.
10.30am Libya:12.01pm Libya:
This news report from Al-Jazeera shows chaotic scenes in Libya's north-eastern city of Benghazi. Anti-government protesters appear to have set fire to a security building and there are pictures of some making off with weapons - including an artillery round
Associated Press is reporting that the death toll is Benghazi may be much higher than the estimate from Human Rights Watch (which they had called "conservative").
A doctor in the Libyan city of Benghazi says his hospital has seen the bodies of at least 200 protesters killed by Moammar Gadhafi's forces over the last few days. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he fears reprisal.
Witnesses told AP that a mixture of special commandos, foreign mercenaries and Gadhafi loyalists went after demonstrators on Saturday with knives, assault rifles and heavy-caliber weapons.
February 19, 2011
Background: The Regional Power Blocs & The Current Upheavals
Oversimplified, and like Caesar’s Gaul, there are three regional power centers in MENA, and they fall roughly – but not entirely -- along the lines of dominant religious identity.
February 18, 2011
Open Thread: Region All A-Twitter
Details coming in from all over (see our Mr. L's posts below); comments with or on news are welcome. A Sunni future ahead for Bahrein; will it all turn to Shiite? A new Khalifa fate? The Guide led away? Security counsel unheeded in the UN veto? Mob grab in the Maghreb? Tahrir view mirrored?
Libya: Official admits Bayda withdrawal
I find this significant:
Libyan protesters assert control - Telegraph
Libyan officials said that the security forces had been withdrawn from al-Bayda city centre to avoid further loss of life, but were now laying siege to the town as an uprising turned into outright conflict.Emphasis added.
Demonstrators in contact through social media with Libyan exiles claimed they also controlled parts of Libya's second city, Benghazi, and, in one unconfirmed report, had managed to prevent government planes bringing reinforcements landing at the airport.
If they are admitting this, I rather suspect the situation is worse than admitted.
Libya, yes indeed, the Whole Qadhdhafi
Some blood curdling news out of Libya
Violence in Bahrain and Libya: live updates | World news | guardian.co.uk
9.13pm GMT - Libya:
Protesters are "committing suicide" according to the chilling statement from the Revolutionary Committees – an integral part of Gaddafi's regime – published on the Azzahf al-Akhdar website:
The response of the people and the Revolutionary Forces to any adventure by these small groups will be sharp and violent.
The power of the people, the Jamahiriya, the Revolution and the leader are all red lines, and anyone who tries to cross or approach them will be committing suicide and playing with fire.
9pm GMT - Libya:
The Guardian's Ian Black and Owen Bowcott report on the day's chaos in Libya:
Diplomats reported the use of heavy weapons in Benghazi, Libya's second city, and "a rapidly deteriorating situation" in the latest Arab country to be hit by serious unrest.
Amid a near-total official news blackout, fragmentary information and a ban on journalists entering Libya, there was a blizzard of rumours and claims about killings by mercenaries and defections by members of the security forces.
In one highly significant development, prisoners were reported to have escaped en masse from al-Jadida jail in the capital, Tripoli, which has so far been calm.
Yes, I think my BD is right out.
Bahrain's Monarchy is flagrantly stupid
First, the bloody repression they launched seems to me to have been mostly unnecessary and just plain idiocy - unless they are willing to go the full Qadhdhafi. Of course doing so would fuck their aspirations as a banking and commerce centre right into a cocked hat.
This note from BBC on Nicholas Kristof is quite on:
BBC News - Protests across the Middle East and North Africa
1023: Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times tells the BBC World Service that he has heard Bahrain's royal family is unhappy with his reporting: "I've heard that through the PR firms that they hire. There is apparently a campaign to get me fired - I don't really know how they're going to proceed with that. Most remarkably, one member of the royal family tweeted that I am supplying weapons to outlaws and that I have ties to Hezbollah. To me this was a reflection of the completely delusional world in which the government lives. The government does not want reporters here... This is a wealthy country, it's cosmopolitan, it's well-educated, it's a banking centre. And then they have this thuggish behaviour, with police sent in firing on people, crowds. It is astonishing and it breaks your heart."
Presuming Kristof is correctly reporting the Royal Tweets (to be taken with a grain of salt, as of course a Tweet I am not sure is confirmable as to source, etc), that is indeed delusional. It does seem in keeping with the style of response. But the response really makes no sense given Bahrain's aspirations.
February 17, 2011
The Guide: tear gas? Real permo revolutions use Helo Gunships
This, if confirmed, is going to put a real crimp in the Guide's path to respectability.
Libya protests: Colonel Muammar Gaddafi turns helicopter gunships on own people - Telegraph
Libya protests: Colonel Muammar Gaddafi turns helicopter gunships on own people
Colonel Muammar Gaddafi's regime turned helicopter gunships and snipers on protesters killing up to 19 people yesterday as rare anti-government demonstrations were last night reported to have reached Tripoli, the capital.
Libya: The Guide & The Expected Return (Iron Fist)
There is not much surprise in this report:FT.com / Middle East & North Africa - Libya crushes ‘day of anger’ efforts
Libya crushes ‘day of anger’ efforts Libyan security forces arrested activists and clashed with protesters on Thursday as Muammar Gaddafi’s regime cracked down on efforts to organise a “day of anger” on the back of uprisings that forced the Tunisian and Egyptian presidents from office.
Activists and human rights officials said protesters and security forces clashed in Benghazi, the oil-rich nation’s second city, and Al-Bayda, the scene of violence the previous night.
Tripoli, the capital of the oil-rich nation, appeared calm as several hundred supporters of Mr Gaddafi, who has ruled Libya since 1969, held a demonstration in the centre of the city.
“There were clearly attempts to demonstrate in Benghazi and al-Bayda since this morning and there have been arrests since last night,” said Heba Morayef, North Africa researcher at Human Rights Watch. “What we have seen in the last couple of days is a crackdown on peaceful protestors though arrests, beatings, tear gas, and in Al-Bayda, live fire.”
Doubtless The Guide can suppress opposition through flagrant violence, although probably damaging his long-run transition stability (Saif?) and possibly seeing his new western friends (mmmm I resemble that remark) scared off.
Sleazy Self-Promotion and the Lara Logan Incident
Although not directly spotlighting this issue, the apparent "wilding" attack on journalist Lara Logan amidst the Tahrir Square celebrations brings to mind my own thematically related essay from a few years back, which I sleazily and opportunistically link here.
Ben Ali in Coma
Well he did indeed take that hard:
BBC News - Protests across the Middle East and North Africa
1613: News of Tunisia's ex-leader Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali - French news agency AFP quotes a source saying he is "in a coma".As an aside, I believe I suggested somewhere that Ben Ali genuinely saw himself as a real modernizer.
Bahrain Protests Crushed: This perhaps isn't going to help with the financial centre aspirations
Bahrain is one of the countries in the region I have very little direct experience with, so I shall limit myself
BBC News - Bahrain protests banned as military tightens grip
There were columns of tanks and armoured personnel carriers moving through the city this morning. The area around Pearl Square, which was the home of the protesters up until 12 to 15 hours ago, is now ringfenced by the security forces.
Barbed wire has been erected; there are vehicle checkpoints and roadblocks around the city, traffic is being controlled, and the authorities have said all protests have been banned.
It was a very different scene at the hospital: one of passion, chaos, mourning - and anger. Hundreds of people were gathered outside as the ambulances turned up. Crowds rushed forward; doctors were angry because they said ambulances had been prevented from attending to those people who had been injured when the police attacked them.
This kind of crack down is likely to see ongoing violence and... well I bet the Khalifas just chose dynasty over national aspirations as a financial centre.
It does rather suggest that this really is the Arab 1848. I had my doubts.
Sleazy Self-Promotion and the Lara Logan Incident
Although not directly spotlighting this issue, the apparent "wilding" attack on journalist Lara Logan amidst the Tahrir Square celebrations brings to mind my own thematically related essay from a few years back, which I sleazily and opportunistically link here.
February 15, 2011
Egypt: The Council of Wise Men
A...Council...of...Wise...Men? 3 comments. 1: WTF? 2: Like, WTF? 3: Really, now, what the f--- is up with that? On another note - probably G# or thereabouts -- I seriously do think that this Council of Wise Men (WTF?) is the closest thing to the USA party-line going on around there (not the simplistics of "puppets" but there is an alignment going on). So, no, o ye puppet spotters, to play your game, it's not the military, not the politically deceased Mubarak, but the correct answer is probably that merry band of sagacious male folks. And, by the way, a Council of Wise Men, like WTF?
Iran: Islamming the Opposition
Recent reports of unrest in Iran contain this ominous news: "Opposition supporters revived a tactic from the unrest, shouting 'Allahu Akbar', or God is Great, from rooftops and balconies into the early hours Monday in a sign of defiance toward Iran's leadership." Oh my gosh! Holy crapoli! Oh, no! Does this mean if these folks win, we might face . . . an Islamist Iran? No democracy for you! (Sorry, couldn't resist.)
February 13, 2011
Military Coup? You say that like it's a bad thing
In consideration of points raised by colleagues and commentators here and elsewhere, who note that Generalissimo Mubarak was almost certainly squeezed out as President in Egypt. In essence, that departure does seem to have proceeded from a military coup or some couplike squeezure(?) of sorts. This fact was telegraphed implicitly in Communiques from the Super-Duper Army Honcho Roundtable. Further, since the transition did not involve the prescribed order of succession and power transfers the constitution demands, it appears that an extraconstitutional coup was also effected. That said: I am really having a hard time finding too much of a problem with all that.
February 11, 2011
Film Review: Raja (2003)
Pardon the interruption of history being made, Aqoul's media review section is messed up so I review this horrid movie over here in the main section.
The Mamlouk Coup: Mubarek Out, Long Live...
Wee wrinkle, the Gov is now the Military.
Mubarek seems to me to be out because every time he opened his bloody mouth, it made things worse. The military evidently decided the was taking the ship down..
As noted here
But the army takeover looks very much like a military coup, our correspondent adds.
The constitution has been breached, he says, because officially it should be the speaker of parliament who takes over, not the army leadership.
Celebrations are normal, but I wouldn't do so myself quite as yet.
Walk Like a Tunisian
Looks like Mubarak blinked. NOW's the time to ask: what next? Have away.
The Supreme Council & Communique No. X:
Interesting observations from Brian Whitaker:
Mubarak teases Egypt as his regime fragments | Brian Whitaker | Comment is free | guardian.co.uk
There is also the mysterious business of the ominously titled "Communique Number One" from the supreme council of the armed forces saying that the military has begun taking "necessary measures to protect the nation" and "support the legitimate demands of the people".
What exactly does that mean, and how does it relate to Mubarak's non-resignation speech? Indeed, why did Mubarak need to make a speech at all if he is not resigning?
According to reports, the supreme council has met only three times in its history: in 1967 and 1973 (when the country was at war) – and on Thursday. Thursday's meeting was held without its chairman, Mubarak, and apparently the meeting was adjourned without formally concluding. A second communique has failed to clarify the army's position.
I remain convinced that the Mamlouks are simply manoeuvring.
February 10, 2011
Egyptian Regime: Not Anyone's Puppet
One idea that is slowly fading from all sides in the Egypt drama -- for the most part -- is the simplistic notion or assertion that the Egyptian regime has been some sort of puppet for the USA. It is quite true that the US has great leverage – money, “good offices”, and weaponry supplies do talk – but the Mubarak government and its actions have their own genesis, as does the revolt. The regime will fall or endure as what it is: an Egyptian phenomenon. As to the bilateral relationship with the USA, America has been Egypt's client in the business sense of the term, not the other way around.
February 09, 2011
Egypt Funding Machine bis
The financing of the government is also in play, as the issue of deposits with State banks comes to the fore.
FT.com / Emerging Markets - Egypt faces bleak outlook on debt
Egypt’s debt markets, particularly its local currency denominated bonds and bills, will find support from liquid local banks. However, these banks are not entirely uncritical buyers of Egyptian debt and could see their ability to finance the government deficit weaken if depositors continue to withdraw money.
The central bank was forced to cut the planned treasury bill sale this week to E£13bn ($2.9bn), and increase the price it paid to local banks that picked up almost all of the issue.
“On one hand you have a liquid local banking sector as an anchor but, on the other, you have a deterioration of Egypt’s credit profile,” says Mr Kolbe. “A lot depends on what happens on the political side but we expect the market to remain volatile and spreads to remain elevated at this stage.”
February 08, 2011
Egypt Sells Most of Treasury Debt Offered as Yields Climb to Two-Year High
Well that worked, but...:
Egypt Sells Most of Treasury Debt Offered as Yields Climb to Two-Year High - Bloomberg
Egypt raised most of the 15 billion Egyptian pounds ($2.5 billion) it sought at a debt auction as local banks stepped in to provide financing in the wake of protests aimed at ending President Hosni Mubarak’s 30-year rule.Emphasis added
The government sold a total 13 billion pounds of bills, paying yields of 10.97 percent on 91-day notes, the highest rate in two years and up 147 basis points, or 1.47 percentage point, from the previous sale on Jan. 27. The yield is down from 14 percent in the aftermath of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc.’s collapse in September 2008.
“We were expecting yields to be higher but government banks especially National Bank of Egypt helped stabilize the market,” Khalil El Bawab, the head of fixed-income at Cairo- based EFG-Hermes Asset Management, said in a telephone interview. National Bank of Egypt Chairman Tarek Amer said that the bank will continue to buy government t-bills
One part of the Gov stepped in to buy the other part's issuance.
Of course that is less liquidity for the private sector, but since Egyptian public banks do tied lending....
Egypt: the Mamlouk Market
An analysis from Daily Dish that 'gets the game' of what I have been calling on Giraffe, The Waiting Game:
The "Manufactured Safety" Of Egypt's Army - The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan
The basic facts: 1) The military profits handsomely from the current power structure. 2) Mubarak's unpopularity threatens to bring down the govenment and therefore put the military's spoils in jeopardy. 3) The military can't make Mubarak leave yet - otherwise power would transfer out of the military's hands. 4) The military can't crack down on the protesters because that would cause an internal rift - some members of the army would likely refuse to fire - which would risk mutiny. 5) For Egypt's veep, Omar Suleiman, to assume power he needs to either change the constitution or wait until the next election and rig the vote in his favor.Quite.
The private hostility and the public neutrality of the army makes sense if the military elite's main goal is to maintain its access to the treasury. The army is not neutral - it's tactical.
Is Yemen better suited for politcal reform than Egypt or Tunisia
Ahem.... A serious article. I guess it all depends on what one thinks of political reform.
Is Yemen Better Suited for Reform Than Egypt or Tunisia? - Joshua Foust - International - The Atlantic
Social Media v Older Islamist Revolutions: Discuss
Propositions. Discuss. Refute, modify, or support premises or conclusion: Dictators in largely Muslim countries have evoked Islamist-oriented rebellions/dissent in part because they repressed all forums of public gathering except the mosque (exception Enver Hoxha: he took out the mosque). Nowadays, a new form of gathering space has emerged via the internet, social media, etc. This was not repressed in part because the repressive apparatus didn't understand it (older generation) and also they saw it more as a pressure escape valve. Now the users of such media are far less likely to be the traditional types that were lured to Islamism and thus the outbreaks of today are biased towards cosmopolitans with a preference for the concept of a liberal forum of ideas and social pluralism. Discuss.
Tunisia Appeal for Aid
A smart appeal, although I suspect the US, instead of investing in the country where it has the greatest liklihood of effect (and where it chose the side of Angels), will continue to pour billions down the Egyptian rat hole.
FT.com / Middle East & North Africa - Tunisia appeals for aid to protect democracy
Tunisia’s interim prime minister, Mohammed Ghannouchi, has appealed for international funding to “protect the Tunisian experiment”, insisting that the cost “would be really very modest compared with what is at stake”.
He told The Financial Times in an interview there was no guarantee that the transition to democracy after the toppling of Zein al-Abidine Ben Ali as president last month would go smoothly. The popular uprising inspired protest campaigns across the Arab world, most notably in Egypt.
“There are forces that would like to take it back to square one,” he said. “All the people who have things they can reproach themselves for, who profited from the old system, are going to do all they can to hinder this democratic process.”
Posted by The Lounsbury at 05:00 AM
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Filed Under: EU Foreign Policy , Economic Development , Economic Policy , Foreign Policy & MENA , MENA Region General , Maghreb , North Africa , The MENA '48 , Tunisia Revolution , US Foreign Policy
Tunisia, the profile of faux econ liberalism
Now, the arty below I strongly suggest taking Gulfies complains about bureaucracy with a large grain of salt. Maghreb bureaucracies do follow the finest French traditions of inflexibility, but on the flip side my experience with Gulfies is that they expect all rules etc to be open to personal negotiation (e.g. adding on floors at a whim on approved building plans, etc.). There is a happy medium that neither side has achieved. In many respects I prefer the Maghreb side as at least there are genuine institutions, rather than generalised personal fiat.
FT.com / Middle East & North Africa - Tunisia left with an investment mirage
Tunisia was always heralded, by itself and others, as a magnet for Gulf investment. But just as the political unrest of the past month has given the lie to its political stability, another mirage is the country’s image as a prime investment destination, Gulf investors say.
They complain of a combination of grinding bureaucracy, corrupt demands and interference from the family of the former president Zein al-Abidine Ben Ali. The impact of the global financial crisis added a further burden to many landmark foreign investments.
“Gulf businessmen found out that corruption in Tunisia wasn’t the corruption they were used to,” says one Tunisian banker. “You pay to get in, but you don’t get a service in return.”
Statistics suggest that the UAE is the largest investor in Tunisia, with more than $30bn of foreign direct investment.
Yet Gulf businesses may have promised grandiose plans but in reality have only mobilised a much smaller amount of capital. While Tunis Sports City is the most advanced UAE project in the country, Bukhatir is still only believed to have invested a tiny fraction of the $5bn cost.
“Bukhatir has been deeply committed to the development and remains focused towards Tunisia’s long-term growth prospects,” the company said in a statement.
Gulf investors say most deals, even those that went through government agencies and ministries, eventually ended up with some sort of financial demands from the broader family of Ben Ali, from bribes to finalise the transfer of land to fully fledged joint ventures.
The item re The Family is important. By all accounts I have from professional partners in Tunisia, the Trabelsis (mostly but not only) got quite rapacious in the past decade and it only escalated in the past 5 years as a sense of impunity grew. Raises questions I may add, parenthetically, about Transparency Int'l indices.
The other item here is the Vapour Ware effect of Gulfie investments, particularly Dubai / UAE investors who have not given up on their 'minimal direct capital, maximum effort to flip on speculation' - the speculation and flipping strategy being why they're so keen on the big announcements effect. A leveraged strategy they're still trying even now. That's in contrast with the Kuwaitis who tend to eschew that, and actually put in the hard capital and get something done before crowing about it.
Posted by The Lounsbury at 04:54 AM
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Filed Under: Business, Private , Economic Development , Economic Policy , MENA Region General , Maghreb , North Africa , The MENA '48 , Tunisia Revolution
February 07, 2011
Neither Free Market nor Lbieral, Egypt
An Item I must return to as it is my speciality
Resentment Finds a Target In Ahmed Ezz - NYTimes.com
On paper, the changes transformed an almost entirely state-controlled economic system to a predominantly free-market one. In practice, though, a form of crony capitalism emerged, according to Egyptian and foreign experts. State-controlled banks acted as kingmakers, extending loans to families who supported the government but denying credit to viable businesspeople who lacked the right political pedigree.
This is in effect part of the problem of that kind of regime. The usual Left academic critique is that " IMF diktat" (a phrase that one can only use if one has actually no experience with IMF and their limp-wristed ways with such regimes) forces 'neo-liberal' economics down the throats of countries like Egypt. Quite the contrary, Egypt came to these reforms on the bankruptcy of their state-driven model, with all the crony-ism and gross and massive inefficiencies that State models everywhere have shown. They adopted part of the IMF & WB advice re privatisation for greater efficiency, but only part. They did not adopt free market reforms as such. Unfortunately, privatisations were merely transfers from nominal state ownership with monopoly control to regime-cronies with monopoly control (as well as Military related control). More efficient than the state, yes, but not overall better for the population. Pseudo free market without a reasonably free press to critique regime and cronies, and without a reasonably free financial system (the Egyptian system remains massively state dominated, which as this note correctly indicates, doesn't mean more ' social' direction, it means more ability for rent extraction), you get this Frankenstein system.
Of course people hate this system, it combines the worst features of both systems.
Posted by The Lounsbury at 04:20 AM
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Filed Under: Economic Development , Economic Policy , Egypt Mamlouk Coup , Foreign Policy & MENA , MENA Region General , North Africa , The MENA '48 , US Foreign Policy
February 06, 2011
The Revolution, So Far
Burgeoning political science academic with an urban planning/space expertise* blogger Colorless Revolution gives colorful reflections from on the scene -- and more recently away from the scene -- of the Egyptian uprising. In entries from over several days, he discusses where it may go and not go, and what it may need to do. The whole series is worth reading in full, but some excerpts (not necessarily in chronological order) are below. (The questions appearing above each section are our own captions, not his). Side irrelevant pondering: are urban planners just a bunch of Squares?
* Corrected from earlier misidentification as a full-fledged urban planner.
February 04, 2011
Best Quote So Far -- From Egypt's new PM
[Egyptian Prime Minister] Ahmed Shafiq, . . . appealed to his compatriots, especially Egypt's youth, to show patience . . . "It has great meaning not to hurt each other*, [or] hurt our reputation," he said. "Do they want what happened in Tunisia to happen here?"
Meanwhile, my proposed ten day rule of street revolutions faces the big test.
February 03, 2011
Retrospective on the Progression of Riots in Tunisia
The way riots spread from rural Tunisia to urban Tunisia was through rural exodus and timing coincidence. The details about what occured when exactly vary according to versions - but they generally involve repression during a market day. The most likely version is that Bouazizi's immolation, or his relatives' angry reaction against the administration, would have happened then.
That is, when his relatives started throwing rocks at the police station and/or the governorate and/or the town hall buildings, police reacted with their usual violence, and that further angered the people in the market. Snowball effect to nearby towns and then to the usual unrestive interior and southern Tunisia. Center-coastal (the usual source of the ruling and economic elite) and North (center of power with Tunis) joined only later, when the relatives of interior and southern Tunisians who moved to the capital for economic reasons reacted. They started rioting against the police because of the repression going on in their villages, building up from a few incidents in some working class neighbourhoods of Tunis to a widespread movement.
Harper's Interpretation of Canadian Immigration Law
1) Said Jaziri, professional idiot, cromanion imam, lawful permanent resident, Canadian family, risking torture under the Ben Ali regime. Deported.
2) Belhassen Trabelsi, psychopath, godfather at the top of a totalitarian state, searched by Interpol, came to Canada one week ago. Difficult to deport.
Did Iraq Inspire Egyptians And Tunisians?
A very short answer, only in the delusional imaginations of certain Americans.
The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan
Did Iraq Inspire Egyptians And Tunisians?
08 Feb 2011 05:19 pm
by Conor Friedersdorf
Above Mickey Kaus surmises yes, and Bob Wright forcefully insists no. On this one, I agree with Bob, and I've never understood why seeing the United States military invade a country and establish a democracy would inspire revolutions elsewhere. It was never ignorance of democracy's existence that was stopping other Arab populations from rising up – and it isn't as if "get invaded by America" was a viable strategy or a desired thing elsewhere.
Posted by The Lounsbury at 07:21 AM
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Filed Under: Egypt Mamlouk Coup , Foreign Policy & MENA , North Africa , Political Development , The MENA '48 , Tunisia Revolution , US Foreign Policy
The Mubarek Gamble: The Counter-Rev.
Mubarak's speech to the nation on Tuesday night was widely misinterpreted. The president was, by turns, angry, defiant and unrepentant. He offered no apologies, proposed no new initiatives, gave no promise that his son Gamal would not succeed him, and instead lectured Egyptians on the importance of order and stability (which he alone could assure).
February 02, 2011
Game over, Egyptian democracy lost
A useful article. I suspect accurate.
Game Over: The Chance For Democracy In Egypt Is Lost | The Middle East Channel
Game over: The chance for democracy in Egypt is lost
Posted By Robert Springborg Wednesday, February 2, 2011 - 4:23 PM Share
While much of American media has termed the events unfolding in Egypt today as "clashes between pro-government and opposition groups," this is not in fact what's happening on the street. The so-called "pro-government" forces are actually Mubarak's cleverly orchestrated goon squads dressed up as pro-Mubarak demonstrators to attack the protesters in Midan Tahrir, with the Army appearing to be a neutral force. The opposition, largely cognizant of the dirty game being played against it, nevertheless has had little choice but to call for protection against the regime's thugs by the regime itself, i.e., the military. And so Mubarak begins to show us just how clever and experienced he truly is. The game is, thus, more or less over.
Mubarek Regime Strategy
An item worth reading to understand regime strategy
Double Edged Influence
Abu Muqawwama has an obs re US Military influence & Egyptian officer corp
The Shame of Tuesday: Cairo & The Grave
I entitled my thread at Giraffe Boards The Mubarek Denouement: Egypt dances past the grave thinking I was being wryly amusing.
That turns out not to have been the case. As I started reflecting in that thread, I have been suspecting for several days now - based not only on following the news but things I have heard from friends in region who ... well have a reason to know such information that Mubarek had sworn not do as Ben Ali.
Today's events, after some hope on Tuesday that something could move, showed that Mubarek & Co. believe that they can bluster their way through this, and that their analysis of Ben Ali - he was cowardly, his nerve cracked - is driving them to drive Egypt towards the abyss.
Repeating from the Thread's last post.
|• 2252: Roger Hardy, a Middle East analyst at the Woodrow Wilson Center, tells the BBC: "It does look to me now that the government's rather Machiavellian strategy was to lull the protesters into a false sense of security in Tahrir Square, where there was a carnival atmosphere. And now their very rude message is: 'That's all over. Now go home. And by the way, if you don't, we won't start negotiations.' The role of the army is becoming less and less ambiguous. It is moving away from the protesters and closer to the regime. The next few days are crucial. This could get uglier before we get anything like a resolution. This may sound a little stark, but I feel that Tahrir Square could become and Arab Tiananmen Square."|
Returning to my sceptical analysis of weeks back, I do feel I was right in that the Mubarek system has deeper roots than Ben Ali, and there are more people with more to lose if he goes. That opens the door to the Chinese option, although that US$1bn might slightly counteract.
A comment in the same vein by Richard Spencer of the Telegraph:
| An avoidable and shameful disaster is taking place in Cairo tonight. Whether by accident or design – the latter seems more likely – President Hosni Mubarak has created a caged arena full of hate for a final confrontation. |
As I write, the anti-regime protesters have been presented with an ultimatum to leave Tahrir Square but no opportunity to do so, given that they are surrounded by club-wielding hoodlums at all exits.
They have responded as idealists and revolutionaries have through the centuries, by building barricades. But as those who occupied Tiananmen Square for freedom or democracy in 1989 discovered, to claim ownership is to invite response.
That comparison might be hysteria generated by the time I have spent in China. The army have said they will not use force on the people, after all. But armies have said that before and in any case a colleague who was detained briefly yesterday was told in no uncertain terms by an officer that “what was said yesterday does not necessarily hold for tomorrow”. ...
The army meanwhile does nothing. The police are nowhere, as they have been, in spite of promises, since Friday, for reasons that are unfathomable.
... Can even Hosni Mubarak have been so incompetent as to have created the scene before us by accident, vacillating when he should have been determined and showing obstinacy when compromise was called for? .... has he lured the protesters into a trap for one last display of his authority?
What I fear here is that Mubarek et al are generating a situation where neither they nor the moderate protesters come out whole, and that in fact he is preparing the ground for an extreme end of the Ikhouan.
This in contrast with Ben Ali, as my wife said, we are just now appreciating what he spared Tunisia.
February 01, 2011
Americans Smarter Than Canadians About Egypt?
I know that among you sophisticated international typesCanadians, among others, are supposed to be smarter than Us Dumbo ‘mericans. But this comment in an AP story on foreigners evacuating Egypt makes me wonder. I’ve deleted the individual’s name because I am not singling him out personally, especially as there are apparently 34 other Maple Leaferssimilarly, um, unperceptive. But is this an example of how out of touch expert resident expats are about Egypt?
"We did not see the protests coming. All of us have been surprised," said . . . the deputy head of the Canadian International School in Cairo, who left Egypt along with 34 of his colleagues