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Fadel Gheit, a managing director at Oppenheimer & Co., explains why he believes that Saudi Arabia is not immune from the revolutionary forces sweeping the Arab world and points to rumors of a “massive demonstration in in major cities of Saudi Arabia” on March 11th.
Mariah Carey turns 41 this month but still hopes to play the bimbo card of 20 years – and 60 pounds – ago.
“I was naive and unaware of who I was booked to perform for,” Carey said in a statement undoubtedly written by one of many celebrity publicists that were working overtime this week. “I feel horrible and embarrassed to have participated in this mess.”
Beyoncé is likewise playing us for fools when she blames “a third-party promoter” for booking her for the 5-song, $2 million New Years gig with the Gaddafis.
In an interview with Sky News, Libyan leader Muammar al-Gaddafi’s son, Saif, said that Libyan Air Force bombing runs conducted against civilians in Brega weren’t intended to cause any injuries.
“The bombs [are] just to frighten them to go away. Not to kill them,” he told Sky News.
The younger Gaddafi said western media reports and videos had created a “big misunderstanding.”
US President Barack Obama today ordered military airlifts to transport refugees, mostly from Egypt, who have massed across the Libyan border in Tunisia. The president also ordered the US Agency for International Development to charter civilian planes to transport refugees from several countries.
“There is a danger of a stalemate that over time could be bloody,” Obama said today. “And that is something that we’re obviously considering. So what I want to make sure of is, is that the United States has full capacity to act – potentially rapidly – if the situation deteriorates in such a way that you had a humanitarian crisis.”
[Ed. Note: The commentary below, abridged from the original available at the Carnegie Middle East Center, provides an important overview of events unfolding throughout the Middle East and North Africa and should serve to temper those swept up in the emotional exuberance of the Arab Awakening and its potential to reorder the lives of millions. The link to the full article is available at the end.]
Of Revolutions, Regime Change, and State Collapse in the Arab World by Marina Ottaway and David Ottaway
With breathtaking speed, massive popular protests across the Arab world have swept away two Arab strongmen and shaken half a dozen monarchies and republics to their core. But the Arab world has yet to witness any fundamental change in ruling elites and even less in the nature of governance.
Libya now seems poised to be the first country to see a true change in governance, thanks to Muammar Qaddafi’s megalomania and his amorphous jamahiriya (state of the masses). But such change may not have a happy ending. The damage Gaddafi has inflicted on his country is likely to extend well past his demise because he leaves behind a weak state without functioning institutions.
The uprisings sweeping across the Middle East have similar causes and share certain conditions: authoritarian and ossified regimes, economic hardship, and a growing contrast between great wealth and dire poverty, all worsened by the extraordinarily large number of young people who demand a better future. But the consequences will not be the same everywhere.
Three Dutch marines are being held by authorities in Libya after they were captured by forces loyal to Muammar Gaddafi while trying to rescue Dutch workers, a Defense Ministry spokesman said today.
The three, crew members of a Dutch naval helicopter from the HMS Tromp, were “surrounded by armed Libyan forces late on Sunday afternoon” after landing near the Gaddafi hometown of Sirte. The Tromp has been anchored off Libya’s coast to assist with evacuations from the conflict torn country, spokesman Otto Beeksma told the Associated Press.
Asked if the Dutch government considered the marines hostages, Beeksma said, “they are being held by Libyan authorities.”
Government officials had kept word of the capture a secret until the Dutch daily De Telegraaf broke the story.
“These are situations that benefit from total secrecy because then you can carry out discussions in peace to ensure these people get home safely,” Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said.
The Netherlands is now engaged in “intensive negotiations” with Gaddafi’s government to secure the marines’ release, Beeksma said.
The puppy was one of five stray dogs that a Sulphur, Oklahoma animal control officer euthanized last week – or so he thought. The officer found the puppy alive the following day inside a trash bin set aside for dead animals.
“He was prancing around. He heard me drive up, and he looked up and saw me,” the officer, Scott Prall, said yesterday.
On TV, Gaddafi Threatens “Bath of Blood”
In the fierce day-long battle, Libyan rebels were able to repel an aggressive attack launched by Libyan Army forces backed by artillery and war planes against Brega, an oil-refining town approximately 500 miles east of Tripoli.
At least six were confirmed dead with that number expected to rise, according to witnesses cited by the New York Times.
During the day, Muammar Gaddafi made another appearance on state TV. The embattled dictator said that he would “fight until the last man and woman” and warned of “baths of blood” if Western forces intervened.
The people of Libya are closer than ever to freedom from the 42-year-long rule of the world’s longest serving leader in the Arab world, Muammar Gaddafi. Though notorious for severely repressing opposition movements, Libyans no longer fear their government and are now closer than ever to changing it. The Libyan people’s direct confrontation with the Gaddafi dictatorship highlights the many factors that have brought them closer than ever to their long-awaited goal.
One of the main contributors to unrest in the country lies in Libya’s economic sector. Libya is one of the richest Arab nations in terms of its natural resources particularly oil. The country exports approximately 1.5 million barrels per day, yet approximately one-third of Libyans live at or below the poverty line.
Aside from facing economic challenges, Libya also enjoys the unique position of being “sandwiched” between the Arab world’s two successful revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt. This provides not only inspiration but also logistical support to popular revolt in Libya. It is therefore no surprise that the Libyan revolution began and has been most robust in the easternmost part of the country where people enjoy close relationships with their Egyptian neighbors.
San Francisco voters, fresh off their victorious efforts to ban Happy Meals at McDonald’s, are likely to vote this year on outlawing circumcision on any male under the age of 18, according to San Francisco resident and self-described human rights activist Lloyd Schofield who is spearheading the ballot initiative.
If enacted, the law would assess a fine of up to $1,000 and possible jail-time for someone who performs a circumcision.
According to the World Health Organization, 75 percent of American males are circumcised in infancy.
US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates played down the possibility of American military intervention in Libya yesterday, saying now was not the time for the United States to be entering into another war in the Middle East and that there was no agreement within NATO about the use of force in the north African country.
Both Gates and Joint Chiefs Chairman Admiral Mike Mullen distanced themselves from comments made by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Monday and Tuesday that imposing a no-fly zone over Libya was under “active consideration.”
Gates told reporters that the United States needs to think “frankly” about “the use of the US military in another country in the Middle East.”
Israel today issued a press release to announce it was “answering Western demands” when it “further eased its blockade” of the people of Gaza today by permitting “a truckload of cherry tomatoes destined for Europe.”
The press release provided details of the truck’s route through a main crossing as well as an Israeli Defense Ministry statement explaining how the shipment would go with other the produce to Europe.
Since 2007, 184 truckloads of strawberries, carnations and peppers have been exported via Israel to Europe, the Israeli press release said.
Human rights groups say the embargo has worsened economic conditions for the 1.5 million Palestinians living in Gaza. The United Nations World Food Program estimates 80% of Gaza’s people live in poverty.
Israeli settler groups expressed outrage at the tomato truck, describing it as Israeli “economic aid to the Gaza Strip.”