Posts tagged ‘Middle East’

2011/03/04

Analyst: Saudi Arabia Is Not Immune – Regime Will Collapse Also, And Fast

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.


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2011/03/03

Analysis: Revolutions, Regime Change, and State Collapse in the Arab World

[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.

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2011/03/01

Yemen Cleric: ‘An Islamic State Is Coming’

In Yemen today, thousands continued to demonstrate throughout the country, one day after opposition groups rejected President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s offer to form a unity government. Demonstrators and opposition groups are calling for an immediate end to Saleh’s three-decade rule.

Tens of thousands filling Yemen’s capital, Sana’a, chanted “the people want the downfall of the regime.” Other cities, including Ibb and Taiz, also reported demonstrators numbering in the tens of thousands.

Saleh lashed out at the United States today, accusing it of instigating protests and coordinating with opposition groups and complained of Washington’s pressure on Arab leaders to respond to protesters with restraint.

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2011/03/01

Iran: Report Of Mousavi, Karroubi Arrests


Iranian opposition leaders Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi, and their wives, have reportedly been taken from their homes by security forces, according to the BBC.

Karroubi’s son told BBC he was told his father had been moved. A website tied to Mousavi is claiming the men have been taken to Heshmatiyeh jail in Tehran.

Iranian government officials denied the report, according to the semi-official Fars news agency.

The arrests, if confirmed, come ahead of planned protests that are due to be held on tomorrow.

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2011/02/26

Obama Seeking New Mideast Approach

President Obama is challenging his administration to formulate a new Middle East policy that emphasizes political and economic reforms to bolster US allies now threatened by the protest movements sweeping the region.

Administration officials say Obama is urging beleaguered governments to enact reforms that would satisfy the popular craving for change while preserving valuable partnerships on crucial US interests, from oil security to counter-terrorism and containing Iran.

With those allied governments under pressure from their citizens, the US is confronting the likelihood of having diminished influence over whatever political order emerges. But a greater risk is that Washington could be seen as trying to prop up crumbling regimes and could alienate the rising pro-democracy leaders.

Diplomats say it would be difficult for the president to openly call for sweeping political change in such key countries as Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Jordan, which are run by royal families allied with the West. Direct criticism of longstanding, friendly monarchs could be seen as an abandonment and encourage even more protests.

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2011/02/26

40% Of All Bahrainis Join Latest Protest


In by far the largest protest yet to hit the Kingdom of Bahrain, upwards of nearly 200,000 mainly Shi’ite Bahrainis – nearly 40% of the entire country’s population – converged in Manama’s Pearl Square seeking dramatic political concessions from the ruling monarch. Security forces made no attempt to halt the marches.

Among the key demands of protesters are that King Hamad ibn Isa Al Khalifa dissolve the government and agree to a transition to a true constitutional monarchy.

The al-Khalifa dynasty has ruled Bahrain for 200 years, and the family dominates a cabinet led by the king’s uncle, who has been prime minister since independence in 1971.

Unlike previous protests organized by opposition groups, Friday’s demonstration was called by religious figures, including the most revered Shi’ite cleric in Bahrain, Sheikh Issa Qassem.

“We don’t want dialogue for the sake of dialogue,” Imam Isa Qassim, a senior Shiite cleric, told worshippers. “We want a meaningful, viable and sustainable process…We seek a fundamental change to the current political process based on legitimate demands.”

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2011/02/26

In Egypt, Army Starts To Get Tougher


A rally that brought over 100,000 demonstrators to Egypt’s Tahrir Square was dispersed this morning by Egyptian soldiers firing in the air and using batons and tasers against demonstrators who were demanding that the Hosni Mubarak cabinet be purged by the country’s new military leaders.

Egyptians had gathered in Tahrir Square to celebrate the two week mark since Mubarak’s removal and to remind the military rulers now in charge of its commitments to the people at the time of Mubarak’s ouster.

One of the commitments was to install a team of technocrats to replace the Mubarak-appointed cabinet. Activists are using the demonstrations to guard against “counter-revolution” of the people’s power.

But after midnight, demonstrators said the military fired in the air, shut off the light from lamp posts, and moved in on protesters to force them to leave the square, in an unusual use of military force against protesters since Mubarak’s fall.

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2011/02/23

Saudi King Hopes To Feel The Love

Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah today announced increased funds for housing, studying abroad and social security, according to state television. State employees will see their pay rise by 15%.

The king also ordered an increase of 10.7 billion dollar infusion for the country’s development fund. The fund provides interest-free loans to Saudis who want to build homes, get married or start small businesses.

Measures to support employment growth were previously announced. Unemployment in Saudi Arabia among 15- to 24-year olds is nearly 40%.

Frustrated young people played significant roles in the ousting of long-time rulers in Tunisia and Egypt.

2011/02/23

Barhain Frees More Political Prisoners

Thousands of anti-government protesters marched to Manama’s Pearl Square on Wednesday after Bahrain’s king released a number of political prisoners, an acknowledgment by the Sunni ruler of the mounting pressure being placed on him by the Shiite opposition.

The inmates included 23 Shiite activists on trial since last year for plotting against the state. The release underlined how much the the Gulf kingdom, a close ally of Washington, want to get reform talks with protest leaders under way. Their release was one of the major demands of the emboldened political movement seeking constitutional reform. A popular Bahraini blogger, Ali Abduleman, was also among those freed by the authorities.

A lawyer for the 23 activists, Mohammed al-Tajer, said that about 250 prisoners had been released so far. Most had been held as part of the crackdown launched on some Shi’ite opposition groups last August and during subsequent protests.

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2011/02/23

The Palestinian Cage House


The al-Ghirayib family lives in one of the stranger manifestations of Israel’s 43-year occupation of the West Bank: a Palestinian house inside a metal cage inside an Israeli settlement.

The family’s 10 members, four of them children, can only reach the house via a 40-yard passageway connecting them to the Arab village of Beit Ijza farther down a hill. The passageway passes over a road used by Israeli army jeeps and is lined on both sides with a 24-foot-high heavy-duty metal fence.

The same fence rings the simple one-story house, separating it from the surrounding settlement houses. Some of those dwellings are so close that the family can hear the insults shouted by a nearby Jewish neighbor.

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2011/02/23

Revolution and the Muslim World


Revolution and the Muslim World by George Friedman

The Muslim world, from North Africa to Iran, has experienced a wave of instability in the last few weeks. No regimes have been overthrown yet, although as of this writing, Libya was teetering on the brink.

There have been moments in history where revolution spread in a region or around the world as if it were a wildfire. These moments do not come often. Those that come to mind include 1848, where a rising in France engulfed Europe. There was also 1968, where the demonstrations of what we might call the New Left swept the world: Mexico City, Paris, New York and hundreds of other towns saw anti-war revolutions staged by Marxists and other radicals. Prague saw the Soviets smash a New Leftist government. Even China’s Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution could, by a stretch, be included. In 1989, a wave of unrest, triggered by East Germans wanting to get to the West, generated an uprising in Eastern Europe that overthrew Soviet rule.

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2011/02/22

Some Israelis See The Danger In US Veto

Thank You, Obama, For Showing The Israeli Left Your True Colors by Akiva Eldar (for Ha’aretz)

The decision by 2010 Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Barack Obama, to veto a resolution urging Israel to refrain from activities deemed subversive to peace efforts represents a victory of domestic politics over foreign policy in the world’s leading superpower. The lame excuse that denunciation of construction in the settlements would harm “the peace process” constitutes a victory of opportunism over morality.

Just two weeks ago, during the demonstration in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton declared that the United States honors “the universal right of all persons to live in freedom.” Even Israel’s former prime minister, Ehud Olmert, a graduate of the “nationalist camp,” argues in his book that settlements violate human rights, the quality of life and freedom of movement of the Palestinians.

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2011/02/21

Egypt’s Prosecutor Seeks Mubarak Loot

Egypt’s public prosecutor on Monday told the foreign ministry to seek a freeze on the foreign assets of Hosni Mubarak and his family, the first sign that the former president would be held to account by the military leadership to whom he handed power.

The prosecutor said in a statement he had asked the foreign ministry to use diplomatic channels to request a freeze on foreign assets and accounts held by Mubarak, his wife Suzanne and his two sons, Gamal and Alaa, together with their wives.

A legal representative for Mubarak denied media reports that the former president had amassed enormous wealth in office, the official MENA news agency reported Sunday.

Additional posts on this site regarding Mubarak’s wealth are here and here.

Complete article via Reuters

2011/02/21

Time For West To See The Distinctions

There has been a tendency among western commentators during the past few weeks of popular uprising in the Middle East and north Africa to interpret the events as occurring along starkly defined fault lines.

There are the people versus the regime; Islamists versus the secular; and autocratic, corrupt rulers pitted against a popular desire for democracy, human rights and economic inclusion. All of which contains some truths, but it remains a partial picture.

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2011/02/19

Bahraini Forces Withdraw From Square


In Bahrain today, up to 80 demonstrators in Manama’s Pearl Square were injured as police fired rubber bullets and tear gas earlier today.

Thousands of protesters singing and dancing protesters streamed back into the Square today, after tanks, troops and then riot police withdrew from the traffic circle.

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2011/02/19

Rage, Rap and Revolution

Bobby Ghosh, the author of the below analysis, which focuses on the connections of the younger generation that has just toppled two tyrants, just gave an excellent interview on the Charlie Rose show. One important point he made on the show that is not included in the article is the military’s role in each of the countries experiencing protests.

In Egypt, the Army has traditionally seen its role as the protector of the country. In other states, however, the military’s role is the protection of the regime.

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2011/02/18

US Vetoes UN Resolution On Settlements

The Obama administration on Friday cast its first ever veto in the UN Security Council, blocking a Palestinian-backed draft resolution that denounced Israel’s settlement policy as an illegal obstacle to peace efforts in the Middle East.

The US vote killed a resolution that enjoyed the backing of the 14 other members of the UN Security Council and isolated the United States on a crucial Middle East matter at a time of political upheaval in the region.

The US action also ended an urgent last-minute diplomatic campaign, involving conversations between President Obama and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, to convince the Palestinians to drop their resolution in favor of a milder statement rebuking Israel for constructing new settlements in seized Arab lands.

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2011/02/18

Obama’s Choice For Palestine


Obama’s Choice by Henry Siegman, President of the U.S./Middle East Project. This article is based on a study he prepared for the Norwegian Peacebuilding Centre (Noref) in Oslo.

Virtually overnight, the Arab Middle East has been irrevocably transformed. The implications for America’s vital interests in the region and for Israel-Palestine peacemaking will be far-reaching. Most observers seem to agree that Israeli fears of the growing political influence of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and of a resurgence of Hamas in the West Bank end what little prospect for an Israeli-Palestinian accord might have survived the latest deadlock in the US-brokered peace talks. But in reality there was never the slightest possibility of the parties reaching agreement. Benjamin Netanyahu and his government were convinced they had bested Obama in their confrontation over continued settlement construction, and could now continue gobbling up the West Bank with impunity, disregarding not only American interests but international law and all previous agreements committing Israel to halting the construction of settlements and dismantling all its illegal outposts. (Despite repeated promises, not only were the illegal outposts not removed, many were converted into full-blown settlements.) The long-planned goal of Israel’s colonial enterprise – establishing irreversible control over Palestine through its settlements – was clearly in sight, if not already an accomplished fact.

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