Saturday, December 3, 2011

Reaction to Democracy in the middle east

So far in the Arab world there seems to be a trend were when people are given the choice to vote the Islamic movements are winning. We saw that recently in Egypt and Tunisia and probably the same thing will happen in Yemen or any Arab country that will hold free elections. Leftists and progressives are freaking out, upset at the outcome of these elections and screaming foul. While I am somewhere between an Agnostic and an Atheist, I do not prefer the influence of religion on our lives, I do have to accept that the majority of people are believers especially in the middle east.

I also have to respect their democratic choices !! I can not scream "I WANT DEMOCRACY" then demonize the results when they do not agree with my ideology or what I perceive as the better choice. Those who believed that we will go from decades of tyranny to a secular, social, tolerant society over night are delusional. The hard work and the real work takes place after the revolution. It takes generations and real economic growth  to achieve a society that will vote what is in its best interest. For now, the majority of Arabs believe that the Islamic movement is their best representative and has their best interest, who am I to tell them : "You are wrong or you are foolish ?"

Let them see what the Islamists have to offer, let us thrive to have a system where power is shared and transfered peacefully, where  NEVER AGAIN  tyranny is allowed to rule us (whether it is secular , nationalistic or religious). After a few elections, people will learn that they can change rule through the election box , we will see organic growth of new movements and political directions that none of us could have predicted or foreseen. For now, let them enjoy their free choice, let them feel empowered, respect their decision and if there is a threat of dictatorship I believe the people will rise again and demand freedom. This new generation has broken the fear barrier and will not be silenced anymore. Finally as Voltaire said :

I do not agree with what you have to say, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it.

In hopes that they will one day accept my choices like I have theirs.

Cartoonist sparks outcry as Egyptians tally vote

Cartoonist sparks outcry as Egyptians tally vote
Published yesterday (updated) 04/12/2011 00:51
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A cartoon by Brazilian artist Carlos Latuff sparked debate on social networking
sites Saturday, as officials tallied votes in Egypt's first post-Mubarak election.
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- A Brazilian cartoonist whose caricatures against the former regime of Hosni Mubarak won him praise in the Arab world is now in the spotlight himself amid Egypt's divisive election. 

Carlos Latuff's latest illustration, pointing to a sharp surge in support for Islamic candidates, was not received favorably Saturday by many Egyptians on social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook.

Unlike his work in recent months, which has focused a critical lens on violent measures taken by Egypt's Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, or SCAF, the latest cartoon conveyed expectations of an Islamist victory in a vote for parliament. 

The image, of a menacing sword labeled "Islamists" emerging from an Egyptian ballot box, sparked criticism that the usually sympathetic artist had resorted to crude generalizations bordering on Islamophobia.

"Latuff does not respect the voters' choice," said Egyptian blogger Zeinobia, "simply as that."

Reaction on Twitter was unexpectedly harsh, considering Latuff's series of cartoons encouraging pro-democracy protesters in Egypt, and his uncompromising criticism of the SCAF. The cartoons often showed up on signs in Tahrir square, he says. 

But anger directed toward the latest caricature underscores resentment that outside interests still seek to dictate to Egyptians their political affairs, while often failing to distinguish between established religious parties and fundamentalists. 

Mosaab Elshamy, an Egyptian photographer and Tahrir activist, said the image reflected an orientalist worldview: "How is portraying an entire group from different backgrounds with a sword (sign of confrontation & violence) not orientalist?" 

Adding fuel to the fire, Latuff shocked many of his followers by dismissing any criticism outright and responding with expletive-laden contempt, including one crude private message to a female tweeter. 

Many said it was Latuff's hostility, not his cartoon, that sparked the outcry. 

At the same time, Latuff said he had received multiple death threats in response to the caricature, while his supporters condemned the uproar as an attempt to stifle the artist's freedom of expression. They ridiculed as childish a campaign to "unfollow" him on Twitter.

Islamists' View of Women





The new leaders of Egypt

From Angry Arab

"The headline says: "In the event of a brother from the Ikhwan becoming president"
And then over the women (from right to left) there is this: First lady of Egypt; Second Lady of Egypt; Third Lady of Egypt; And fourth Lady of Egypt."

Al-Jazeera Video: Embattled Syrians cross into Lebanon

"The conflict in Syria is forcing many families to leave the country in search of safety.

Families who live along the relatively porous Lebanese-Syrian border have fled from their homes, while others injured in the fighting have been receiving medical attention.

Activists say the the Syrian army tried to scare people to prevent them from leaving the country.

Rula Amin reports from across the border in Lebanon."

Al-Jazeera Video: Free Syrian Army sergeant speaks to Al Jazeera

Al-Jazeera Video: Israel expat campaign angers Jewish-Americans

"In the US, Jewish-Americans have been expressing outrage about an Israeli campaign urging them to return to their homeland.

Israel's ministry of immigration created the advertisements to call on half a million Israeli-Americans to come back.

The outcry is being taken seriously by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who has pulled the controversial campaign...."

New book by James Petras. Coming soon from Ashgate Publishing… “A World to Win. Beyond Neoliberalism”

"The world is at the crossroads of social change, in the vortex of forces that are bringing about a different world, a post-neoliberal state. This groundbreaking book lays out an analysis of the dynamics and contradictions of capitalism in the twenty-first century. These dynamics of forces are traced out in developments across the world—in the Arab Spring of North Africa and the Middle East, in Cuba and elsewhere in Latin America, in the United States and in Asia.

The forces released by a system in crisis can be mobilized in different ways and directions. The focus of the book is on the strategic responses to the systemic crisis. As the authors tell it, these dynamics concern three worldviews and strategic responses. The Davos Consensus focuses on the virtues of the free market and deregulated capitalism as it represents the interests of the global ruling class. The post-Washington Consensus concerns the need to give capital a human face and establish a more inclusive form of development and global governance. In addition to these two visions of the future and projects, the authors identify an emerging radical consensus on the need to move beyond capitalism as well as neoliberalism....."

Even Bahrain's use of 'Miami model' policing will not stop the uprising

Bahraini leaders have hired the architect of Miami's brutal policing methods, showing their disregard for reform

Matthew Cassel, Saturday 3 December 2011

"In 2003, as a photography student in Chicago, I travelled to Miami to cover protests by trade unionists and other activists at a meeting of the Free Trade Area of the Americas. I had just returned from witnessing the repressive tactics of the Israeli army against Palestinians – invasions, curfew, violent crackdown on unarmed protests – but never expected to see them deployed at home in a US city.

I was shocked when I reached Miami and found it similar to a West Bank town under occupation. The city was largely empty save for police vehicles speeding in every direction and helicopters hovering above. Once the protests began, it was impossible to move more than a few feet in any direction without confronting the police and their brutality. The thousands of police dressed in full riot gear and armed with teargas, rubber bullets, batons, electric tasers – all of which were used against protesters and journalists – were everywhere around Miami.

The "model", as Miami public officials called it at the time, was the brainchild of police chief John Timoney. After leading the head-bashing of protesters as Philadelphia's police commissioner during the Republican party's national convention in 2000, Timoney was hired by Miami and given more than $8m to introduce a level of police brutality unlike any we had ever seen in the US.....

Now the Miami model is coming to Bahrain. The Associated Press reported on Thursday that Timoney has been hired by the kingdom's interior ministry "as part of reforms" following the release of a report last week by a government-sponsored fact-finding commission.

As the ruling family continues the crackdown against pro-democracy demonstrators it has not been a hard task to find spent teargas canisters and other items marked "Made in USA" covering village roads.....

Looking to the US not only to fund the crackdown but also to help spin it, the regime has hired a number of US public relations firms. One of the PR agents, Tom Squitieri of TS Navigations, has been given space by Huffington Post and Foreign Policy blogs to write articles in defence of the ruling family.....

By hiring iron-fisted US police heads like Timoney, the al-Khalifas seem more concerned with maintaining absolute power as they continue to lose further legitimacy, rather than implementing any real reforms to move past the country's political crisis....."

Egyptian Islamists put sharia law on agenda after election gains

Muslim Brotherhood and radical Salafists appear to take majority of seats in first round of Egypt's parliamentary elections, Friday 2 December 2011

"Egypt's Islamist party plans to push for a stricter religious code after claiming strong gains in the first round of parliamentary elections....

.....The al-Nour party is the main political arm of the hard-line Salafi movement which, unlike the more moderate Muslim Brotherhood, is a new player on Egypt's political scene.

Guided by a Saudi-inspired school of thought, Salafists have long shunned the concept of democracy, saying it allows man's law to override God's. But they decided to form parties and enter politics after the exit of Mubarak in February.

Salafi groups speak confidently about their ambition to turn Egypt into a state where personal freedoms, including freedom of speech, women's dress and art, are constrained by sharia.

"In the land of Islam, I can't let people decide what is permissible or what is prohibited. It's God who gives the answers as to what is right and what is wrong," Hamad said. "If God tells me you can drink whatever you want except for alcohol, you don't leave the million things permitted and ask about the prohibited."

The showing in Egypt, long considered a linchpin of regional stability, would be the clearest signal yet that parties and candidates connected to political Islam will emerge as the main beneficiaries of the Arab spring....."

Friday, December 2, 2011

'End of virginity' if women drive, Saudi cleric warns

A report in Saudi Arabia has warned that if Saudi women were given the right to drive, it would spell the end of virginity in the country.
The report was prepared for Saudi Arabia's legislative assembly, the Shura Council, by a well-known conservative academic.
Though there is no formal ban on women driving in Saudi Arabia, if they get behind the wheel, they can be arrested.
Saudi women have mounted several campaigns to try to overturn the ban.
Aside from the practical difficulties it creates, they say it is also illogical as in trying to keep them under family control and away from men, it actually puts them in daily contact with a male driver.
The issue has received huge international attention.
Some Saudi women feel it has attracted too much interest, obscuring other equally important issues.
As part of his careful reform process, King Abdullah has allowed suggestions to surface that the ban might be reviewed.
This has angered the conservative religious elite - a key power base for any Saudi ruler.
Now, one of their number - well-known academic Kamal Subhi - has presented a new report to the country's legislative assembly, the Shura.
The aim was to get it to drop plans to reconsider the ban.
The report contains graphic warnings that letting women drive would increase prostitution, pornography, homosexuality and divorce.

Egyptian cameraman at the heart of the Tahrir Square clashes

A jerky six-and-a-half minute video by a local journalist could be the most important document of the recent violent conflict

Jack Shenker in Cairo, Friday 2 December 2011

"....The past two weeks have proved to be a turning point in Egypt's ongoing revolution, with huge anti-junta street protests coming under relentless assault from the security forces and millions of Egyptians defying the bloodshed to turn out and vote in elections for the first post-Mubarak parliament.

But although future historians looking back at this period will have ample primary source material available – from a mountain of ballot papers to the hundreds of hours of footage covering rallies in Tahrir Square – their most important asset may prove to be six-and-a-half minutes of jerky video, shot by Bahgat from the heart of the violence.

The film, which consists of a series of clips made over several days at the height of the unrest, directly contradicts many of the claims made by the ministry of interior regarding the type of weaponry deployed by its troops and its insistence that only "reasonable force" has been used to confront protesters.

Better than anything produced by more conventional media outlets, the footage captures the dramatic reality of Cairo's recent clashes. It is also one of the most intense recordings of guerrilla warfare ever produced and has rapidly become a viral sensation, clocking up over 100,000 hits on YouTube....."

Al-Jazeera Video: Islamists and secularists clash in Tunisia

"Tunisians are yet to get a new government after political infighting delayed the appointment of new ministers.

In the country's capital, Tunis, outside the national assembly, crowds gathered on Thursday to protest what they say is the growing influence of Islamists.

It follows the occupation of a university campus by a religious group, which wants male and female students segregated."

Syrian isolation marks regime's nadir

Rime Allaf
(CNN) -- It would be hard to claim surprise at the array of sanctions which were finally imposed on the Syrian regime in the last weeks, following months of seemingly endless warnings from friends and foes alike. Yet, judging by the reaction of various officials in Damascus, the regime does seem stunned by this shock to its system, having been living in denial about the evolving situation it created.
From the apex of its fortunes only a couple of years ago to the most severe isolation modern Syria has ever witnessed, the regime of President Bashar al-Assad regime has single-handedly managed the feat which no other detractor achieved: bringing the entire country, and of course the regime itself, to a dead-end from which it can no longer extricate itself.
While accustomed to U.S. sanctions since 1979, Syria had never been simultaneously cut off from Europe, Turkey and the Arab world, while also facing the most determined popular uprising the Arab world has yet seen. For refusing to stop its mass military campaign of repression throughout the country, which none of the neighbors or friendly nations could continue to ignore while urging for the proverbial promised reforms, the Syrian regime is now faced with a heavy bill it has no way of paying.
Taken separately, the various sets of sanctions could have been manageable, even if the hardships would still be passed on to the population under the usual empty slogans of sovereignty and resistance in the face of a global conspiracy. In response to the first set of EU sanctions, in fact, Foreign Minister Walid Muallem had told a press gathering that Syria would "forget that Europe was on the map" and turn eastward for its business. When the sanctions reached the oil sector, the Syrian regime boasted it would sell its crude to China, India and other "non-aligned" countries. However, with the increasing difficulties of dealing with a Central Bank under sanctions, even countries sympathetic to the Syrian regime have been unwilling to go through so much trouble just to acquire Syrian oil, which, to boot, is mostly a low-grade crude needing special refineries.
With Europe wiped off the map, the 150,000 barrels per day output which used to be exported across the Mediterranean will be difficult to sell, with very significant financial repercussions for the regime - and that was before the Arab League finally decided to tighten the screws.
It is possible that repeated warnings followed by recurring extensions of deadlines convinced the Syrian regime that Arab countries were bluffing, and that the legendary impotence of the Arab League would prevent real pressure from materializing; this could explain al-Assad's bloody intransigence, and his erroneous interpretation that he really still had a carte blanche to kill, literally, the growing popular uprising which was now supplemented by armed resistance from an increasing number of defected soldiers, grouping themselves to form the Free Syrian Army.
When the announcement of sanctions finally fell on November 12, even with additional deadlines allowing the regime to accept a set of conditions (including Arab monitors) which could save it from isolation, al-Assad and his advisers seemed unprepared. Instead of astutely accepting the offer to avoid greater seclusion, they decided to retreat into the usual conspiracy rhetoric while trying to buy time with complaints about protocols: this merely allowed the Arab League to ensure near unanimity in its decision to isolate al-Assad.
All that remained was for Turkey to close the loop, and to carry out its own promise to punish the Syrian regime if it did not desist in what the UN has since described as crimes against humanity. As of this week, the Syrian regime is completely isolated, politically and financially. Even the reluctance of Lebanon and Iraq to apply full sanctions will be unlikely to make a big difference in Syria's fortunes, especially as international pressure continues to mount.
The impact of this isolation cannot be exaggerated. While powerful allies such as Iran and Russia will try, for the time being, to pull their weight as they attempt to save the regime from its own folly, perhaps lending it limited financial support, a solid geographical reality imposes itself, cutting off Syria from most of the rest of the world.
There is no doubt that these measures will also hurt those who imposed them, and this is one of the reasons why they were so long in coming. For Turkey, not only has the zero problem with neighbors policy been shattered, but the Arab world opening it had carefully nurtured will be negatively affected if transport trucks must now take a long diversion through Iraq. This will take time, effort and resources which had not been expected.
The truth is that for all the propaganda spewed by the Syrian regime, few countries in the region want to see Syria completely isolated, if only for their own selfish reasons. Everyone is worried about potential civil strife and its effect on the region, but there is also an economic aspect: while losing trade with Syria might not make a difference to most neighbors, losing the trade route will.
The battered Syrian population will only feel more hardship as it struggles to overcome this unprecedented period in recent history, and the sanctions will affect people, economically, socially and politically. Indeed, even Syrians who do not actively support the revolution will feel the pain of remaining silent while the al-Assad regime entrenches itself with increasing violence, if that were possible.
Decades ago, the regime had been able to count on the population's fear and on its acceptance of the broad argument of resistance in the face of imperialist aggression. Today, however, the imposed agony of sanctions coupled with the extreme brutality of the regime will probably push people to make a stand before it's too late. The sooner this happens, the less likely the possibility of civil strife or of intervention in Syria.

Al-Jazeera Video: Empire - Targeting Iran

Arab Spring and the Intellectual Divide

By Ramzy Baroud
Palestine Chronicle

".....True, a revolution can be polarizing for those who are projected to either win or lose once its final outcome is determined. But intellectuals have a historic responsibility to remain vigilant of the uniqueness of each and every collective experience, and to place it within accurate historical contexts. They should not omit inconvenient truths when such omissions are deemed convenient.

This is not moral neutrality, a notion that has been articulated by South African anti-Apartheid leader Desmond Tutu in his iconic statement: “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.” It is rather the responsibility of the intellectual to question what is taken for granted. Edward Said claimed that the ideal intellectual should be seen as an “exile and marginal, as amateur, and as the author of a language that tries to speak the truth to power.”

Speaking truth to power is still possible, and is more urgent than ever. The fate of a nation, any nation, cannot be polarized to the terrible extent that the Arab uprisings have. On both sides of the divide, some are cheering for foreign intervention, while others are justifying the senseless murder of innocent people by dictators.

There is possibly a fine line between the divides, and it is the responsibility of the intellectual to trace this line, and remain steadfast there. He may consequently find himself marginalized and exiled, but at least he will maintain his integrity."

Muslim Brotherhood Looks Beyond Tahrir

By Adam Morrow and Khaled Moussa al-Omrani

"CAIRO - Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood came under fire from various political quarters for its decision to stay out of last week's clashes in and around Cairo's Tahrir Square. But as Egyptians vote in the country's first post-Mubarak parliamentary polls, many local analysts believe the controversial decision may have ended up paying political dividends......"

Shame on Burhan Ghalyoun, He is Becoming the Syrian Karzai!

............Please Welcome The Syrian Karzai...........

غليون يتعهد بمقاطعة إيران وحلفائها

"تعهد رئيس المجلس الوطني السوري برهان غليون بقطع علاقات دمشق العسكرية مع إيران وحزب الله اللبناني وحركة المقاومة الإسلامية حماس عند تولي المعارضة الحالية حكم سوريا.

وقال غليون في مقابلة أجرتها صحيفة وول ستريت جورنال الأميركية معه في باريس "لن تكون هناك علاقة مميزة مع إيران، وقطع العلاقة الاستثنائية يعني قطع التحالف الإستراتيجي العسكري"، مضيفاً أنه بعد سقوط النظام السوري لن يبقى حزب الله كما هو الآن.

ووصف غليون العلاقات بين النظام السوري وإيران بأنها غير طبيعية. وذكر أن حكومة سورية بقيادة المجلس الوطني السوري ستنهي إمدادات الأسلحة للمجموعات المسلحة في الشرق الأوسط مثل حزب الله وحماس، لافتاً إلى أن مثل هذه التحركات ستكون جزءا من عملية أوسع لإعادة توجيه السياسة السورية تجاه تحالف مع القوى العربية الأساسية.[Meaning Saudi Arabia and the Gulf American Protectorates!]

وقال إن حكومة سورية جديدة برئاسة المجلس، ستعمل على تطبيع العلاقات مع لبنان بعد عقود من الهيمنة عليه عبر الجيش والقنوات الاستخباراتية.

وذكر أن سوريا ستواصل التزامها باستعادة هضبة الجولان من إسرائيل، لكنه قال إنها ستركز على مصالحها عن طريق المفاوضات بدلاً من اللجوء للنزاعات المسلحة.

Proxy War With Iran

By Philip Giraldi December 1, 2011

"After the alleged Iranian government plot to assassinate the Saudi Arabian ambassador in Washington, the White House issued a finding to the intelligence community authorizing stepped-up covert action against Iran. A “finding” is top-level approval for secret operations considered to be particularly politically sensitive.

An earlier finding of the Bush administration already permitted the use of intelligence assets to disrupt Iranian Revolutionary Guard activity in border zones—the areas adjacent to Pakistan inhabited by ethnic Baluchis, the Kurdish region of northern Iraq, and the ethnically Arab province of Khuzistan, which borders southeastern Iraq. Activity in the Kurdish region was limited and was partially run by Israelis due to sensitivities in dealing with the Turks. That effort was abandoned altogether in 2009, when the Obama administration decided to increase intelligence and military cooperation with Ankara against the Kurdish Workers’ Party (PKK). Attacks in Baluchistan and the Arab region over the past seven years, which have killed a large number of Revolutionary Guards and even more civilians, were part of the program authorized under the earlier finding.

The new finding extends those existing initiatives and adds involvement with the Azeris, who inhabit northwestern Iran and share a common border, language, and culture with their fellow tribesmen in Azerbaijan. Twenty million ethnic Azeris in Iran comprise nearly 25 percent of the population. When combined with the 2 percent who are Baluchis, 7 percent Kurds, and 3 percent Arabs, Iran has a significant ethnic problem along its borders. This is precisely what the covert action will seek to exploit by encouraging ethnic fragmentation and supplying dissidents with communications equipment, training, and weapons...."

Netanyahu Tries to Hide the Occupation

by , December 02, 2011

"As protests raged again across the Middle East, Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister, offered his assessment of the Arab Spring last week. It was, he said, an "Islamic, anti-western, anti-liberal, anti-Israeli, undemocratic wave," adding that Israel’s Arab neighbors were "moving not forwards, but backwards."

It takes some chutzpah – or, at least, epic self-delusion – for Israel’s prime minister to be lecturing the Arab world on liberalism and democracy at this moment.

In recent weeks, a spate of anti-democratic measures have won support from Netanyahu’s right wing government, justified by a new security doctrine: see no evil, hear no evil, and speak no evil of Israel. If the legislative proposals pass, the Israeli courts, Israel’s human rights groups and media, and the international community will be transformed into the proverbial three monkeys....."

Guardian Video: Syria on brink of civil war, says UN

Navi Pillay, high commissioner for human rights at the United Nations, says 4,000 people have died in the unrest in Syria this year and that the country is at the brink of a civil war. A report by an independent UN commission of inquiry says Syrian forces have committed crimes against humanity, including executions, torture and rape, Friday 2 December 2011

The Arab Spring: For women, some achievements, many disappointments

by Nadya Khalife
Human Rights Watch

Disappointments, but some hope

The Arab Spring and the revolutionary spirit that came with it were viewed by women's rights activists as an opportunity to make progress on much-needed rights and freedoms for women in the Middle East and North Africa. But instead of incorporating women's rights as part of a democratization process in which every citizen has certain rights and obligations, the post-upheaval period has disappointed women. Women's rights activists have realized that they still have to fight to have their demands taken seriously. They have formed coalitions to press their interests. In Egypt, they outlined their wishes in a National Charter on Women's Rights, and in both Egypt and Tunisia they formulated examples of what an egalitarian constitution might look like. They continue to place women's rights issues at the centre of current political debates, and insist that their voices also count.

Despite the unwillingness of transitional governments in Egypt and Tunisia to consider the women's rights agenda as part of a nation-building process, the Arab Spring did result in a few achievements, especially for Tunisia's women. I feel some of the same hope I felt marching and talking with the women of Egypt and Tunisia in March. Egyptian women continue to struggle daily to make their demands known, and with time, the road to achieving full equality may be realized."

Saudi Arabia:Repression in The Name of Security

A 71-Page Report (pdf)

Saudi Arabia: Protesters and reformists targeted in name of security

Amnesty International
1 December 2011

"The last nine months has seen a new wave of repression in Saudi Arabia as authorities have cracked down on protesters and reformists on security grounds, Amnesty International said today.

In Saudi Arabia: Repression in the Name of Security, the organization says hundreds of people have been arrested for demonstrating, while the government has drafted an anti-terror law that would effectively criminalize dissent as a "terrorist crime” and further strip away rights from those accused of such offences.

Peaceful protesters and supporters of political reform in the country have been targeted for arrest in an attempt to stamp out the kinds of call for reform that have echoed across the region,” said Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s interim Middle East and North Africa Director. “While the arguments used to justify this wide-ranging crackdown may be different, the abusive practices being employed by the Saudi Arabian government are worryingly similar to those which they have long used against people accused of terrorist offences.”

Amnesty International said that the government continues to detain thousands of people, many of them without charge or trial, on terrorism-related grounds. Torture and other ill-treatment in detention remains rife....."

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Why Islamists Won’t Win (Even If They Do)

This is the dominant story now – Islamists are winning all over the Arab world. It is not being mentioned that there are many factors working in their favor. They have been organized for decades while some leftists and liberals have just started. It is not mentioned that Islamists have been benefiting from Gulf money and have utilized that external funding effectively. It is also not being mentioned that they have been striking deals under the table with the US and European governments to reassure them not only regarding the pro-capitalist (neoliberal) policies that they would pursue, but also regarding not antagonizing Israel.

Real News Video: Egyptian Elections Show Brotherhood Strength, Tahrir Protesters Vow to Continue

Islamist parties appear to gain majority of votes as Tahrir protesters call for a mass action on Friday

More at The Real News

Al-Jazeera Video: UN says Syria on brink of 'civil war'

"The United Nations said Syria is on the brink of civil war and has raised the official death toll resulting from nine-months of violence to 4,000.

Navi Pillay, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, gave the latest figure on Thursday, a day before the global body is due to hold an emergency meeting on the crisis in the country.

In its report on Monday, the UN Independent Commission of Inquiry said Syrian forces had committed crimes against humanity, including the murder and torture of children, following orders from the highest levels of President Bashar al-Assad's government.

Al Jazeera's Nisreen El-Shamayleh reports from Amman, Jordan."

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Egypt's 12,001 missing votes

How can Egypt's elections be described as free and non-violent when the country has so many political prisoners?

Mark LeVine

"Cairo, Egypt - 12,001. That is the minimum number of Egyptians who aren't able to vote in parliamentary elections that began this week because they are prisoners of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF). Which begs the question: How can these elections be described as free and non-violent when so many Egyptians remain political prisoners of the country's military junta?

The majority of the Egyptian and the interational media are characterising the voting as peaceful and relatively fair. Winners, especially the Islamist parties (at least of the time of writing), are celebrating their victories and losers are generally urging supporters to work with the process.

But many activists, who worked the hardest since January to bring real democracy to Egypt, have been left asking: What does this election mean when thousands are jailed merely for opposing those in power (or, for many, merely for being in the wrong place at the wrong time)? What do these elections mean when one of the country's well-known bloggers, Alaa Abdel Fattah, can be held for weeks on charges surrounding his reporting of the military's massacre of Coptic protesters in October, when voters are threatened with 500 Egyptian pound fines if they don't vote, and when the military uses massive amounts of tear-gas, and even bullets on pro-democracy protesters whenever it feels its position threatened?....

If in the coming weeks there is no move to demand their release, then there is a good chance that the fears of those who sacrificed the most for the revolution that began on January 25 will be realised, and the new system will in fact be little more than a retread of the old one. But if the newly elected parliamentarians demand freedom for Alaa Abdel Fattah and the other far less known prisoners, the tree of freedom planted in Tahrir might just have a chance of taking root in the coming years."

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Guardian Video: Israeli opposition leader urges Palestinian president to renew peace negotiations. The Stooge Will Obey.

Tzipi Livni calls on Mahmoud Abbas to return to the negotiation table 'before it's too late', pointing to rising Islamist influence across the Middle East in the aftermath of the Arab spring. The leader of the opposition Labour party, who met with the Palestinian president during secret talks in Jordan, headed Israel's negotiations with the Palestinians until 2009 when Binyamin Netanyahu became prime minister, Wednesday 30 November 2011

Turnout High in Egypt's Elections, but Questions About Transition Remain

by Sharif Abdel Kouddous

"....The scene reflects the broader complexities of Egypt’s first post-revolutionary elections: an eagerness to participate in the democratic process soured by the realities of a deeply flawed transition plan and the heavy yoke of military rule.

Over the past nine months, the Supreme Council of Armed Forces that assumed power following Mubarak’s ouster, along with a political elite largely looking out for its own interests, have created a deeply confusing electoral system designed to elect a parliament that has no clear mandate or authority and one that, many fear, will serve to further entrench the military’s power.....

While the primary mandate of the incoming parliament is the drafting of Egypt’s post-revolutionary constitution, the process by which a constituent assembly would be chosen has not been finalized. Under guidelines proposed by the interim government in October, the Supreme Council would appoint eighty of the 100-member body while the parliament would select just twenty. The guidelines would also deny parliament the right to review the military budget and allow the army to interfere in political life. The proposal sparked an uproar but an alternative plan has yet to be agreed upon.

More importantly, the elections come in the wake of a new uprising in Egypt, one that reignited in Tahrir Square last week and quickly spread to Alexandria, Suez and several other cities. The clarion call of the renewed revolt is clear: an end to military rule....."

As Biden Visits Iraq Ahead of U.S. Withdrawal, Critics See Last Ditch-Effort to Preserve Occupation

Democracy Now!

"U.S. Vice President Joe Biden has arrived in Iraq for an unannounced visit to mark the withdrawal of U.S. troops by the end of the year. Shi’ites supporting Iraqi cleric Moqtada al-Sadr held an anti-U.S. protest in Basra to oppose Biden’s visit. Meanwhile, the Financial Times reports that numerous investment bankers are arriving in Iraq to secure potentially lucrative reconstruction and oil deals even though security remains a concern. We’re joined by Raed Jarrar, an Iraqi-American blogger and political analyst who just returned from Iraq two weeks ago. "Biden’s visit is widely seen in Iraq as the last attempt by the U.S. government to keep U.S. troops beyond the deadline and rename them as military trainers," Jarrar says. "Most Iraqis are worried [that] the Pentagon has not let go of its plan to leave behind 3,000-4,000 troops under the title of 'trainers', and that there will be one last showdown in the Iraqi parliament within the next few days."......"

Who is Conspiring Against Syria?


by Elias Khoury


This is a translation of an article in Arabic in Al-Quds Al-Arabi.

"After the breakdown of the rhetoric of a conspiracy of Salafis and armed gangs, the Syrian regime has resorted to a rhetoric of colonial conspiracy. This is especially so after the recent resolution by the Arab League [to suspend Syria’s membership]. This rhetoric of colonial conspiracy has traction with some of the political forces because it masks their own parochial discourse with the principled issue of resisting colonial forces within the context of the Arab revolutions. This rhetoric also resonates with some intellectual circles affiliated with the nationalist or leftist currents because it offers an exit from the necessity of confronting their own intellectual laziness in the face of great changes that are not listed in their ancient dictionaries.

Amnesia is the condition of possibility for the formation of conspiratorial rhetoric. Such rhetoric requires that we erase the facts that produced the beginnings of the Syrian popular revolution.

The first fact is the existence of initial attempts by small groups that are affiliated with the secular left to mobilize in Damascus. These small mobilizations were faced with intense violence, which prevented them from transforming into a phenomenon that transcended intellectual circles.

The second fact is the tragedy of the children of Daraa, who wrote the slogan, "the people want the fall of the regime," on the walls. This was a result of their being affected by the general atmosphere that was created by both the Tunisian and Egyptian revolutions. This small occurrence, created by the children, was transformed into a blatant expression of a reality with dual meaning. On the one hand, it expressed the daringness of children when adults are silent because of [the latter’s] fear. On the other hand, it revealed the nature of a brutal security regime that has ruled Syria for four decades. The regime did not apologize for the torture of children and punish the perpetrators of these ugly acts. [Instead,] it persisted in detaining the children and insulted their families, who had gone to beseech the regime on the basis of their honor. This is what sparked the revolution in Huwran, which then spread to all of Syria. Thus the point was reached wherein the child martyr Hamza al-Khatib, along with his mutilated body, was transformed into a symbol and an icon.

The third fact is the making light of the people's demands, as well as the head of the regime's replacement of the term "rats"—that was used by Qaddafi—with the term "germs" in order to describe protesters. This demonstrated intransigence, arrogance, and pride. These features meant that merciless repression was the only means for confronting the popular movement, such that protests turned into killing fields.

These primary facts must be the basis of any discussion of the current Syrian situation. Before the regime speaks of an American-Qatari-Saudi conspiracy to topple it, and before those opposed to the regime speak of the Israeli commitment to its survival, analysis must take off from these three facts so as to [be able to] understand the Syrian revolution. This is a spontaneous revolution that the people have initiated out of desperation from the regime, in defense of their human dignity (which has been trampled on by military boots), and without waiting for an opposition that has been repressed and marginalized.

It is difficult to be convinced by the hypothesis of a spontaneous conspiracy! This type of miserable talk belongs to the past, and is no longer capable of addressing any one. How are Syrians to be convinced when they have witnessed the repressive machine that crushes them as it combines with a machine of lies that works to destroy the heroic image and nobility of their struggle.

The spontaneous popular uprising did not surprise the authoritarian regime alone. It also surprised the democratic opposition, as it did the entire world. The international hesitancy whose stages we witnessed in the first days of both the Tunisian and Egyptian revolutions was repeated in Syria over the span of eight full months. This of course does not mean that there are no conspiratorial possibilities for the region. The conspiracy existed as soon as the Egyptian regime began to decay, and a convincingly disguised dictatorship was installed in order to abort the revolution. Similarly, the conspiracy in the Libyan case was not possible without the stubbornness of the stupid dictator who brought on the external intervention. His self-obsession led to the destruction of the country as the price for his fall from the thrown.

Being surprised by the revolution does not absolve the revolutionaries and opposition forces of their responsibility. Only the revolution alone can protect Syria from the disintegration that threatens the county, which is the result of the regime's reckless policy—relying on external support and not hesitating to destroy everything.

In its ninth month, the Syrian revolution faces four dangers:

The first danger is the drift towards sectarian practices. This is the biggest trap that threatens to destroy all the values that thousands have fallen to defend. There can be no sectarian revenge, regardless of the reason. It is the responsibility of the National Council and all opposition forces to condemn this [type of] behavior. Otherwise, the revolution will descend into racism and dig its own grave.

The second danger is the use of arms. There are divisions in the army, and several military formations claim to have joined the Free [Syrian] Army. This army must defer to a strategy that is devised by the political leadership so that it will not become a tool used by external actors. Military personnel must understand that the Syrian revolution is a peaceful popular revolution and not a coup.

The third danger is the call for external military intervention. This intervention will be the death of the revolution, because it is being encouraged on the delusional basis that the colonial Western states will come to save the people from a regime that has been pliant and provided services to external actors in return for extending its rule. External military intervention will only come, if it comes at all, on the eve of the regime's fall. In this sense, external military intervention will be meaningless. It will expose Syria to the trap of conspiracies.

The forth danger is the failure to give political work the full attention [it deserves]. The regime is maneuvering and playing games. Though it is under political pressure. However, the Arab and international pressure, important as they are, will not solve the problem. The Syrian people will solve the problem when it subsumes its battle under the cause of democracy, and not within the framework of Arab axes and for the cover of oil authoritarianism. Rather, [the fight must be] for the sake of the freedom of Syria and the Arabs.

The responsibility to save Syria from conspiracies—which the madness of the regime and its suicidal project are leading to—falls on the shoulders of the opposition as well as the activists of the coordinating committees. The road might be long and hard, but it is the road to freedom and it has been charted by the dignity of the people. It is immune to humiliation and oppression.


Tahrir Square

The square has returned to its owners, and Egypt's revolutionaries have returned to their square. Dictatorship, disguised at times and not at others, is no longer possible. The military council is turning on the revolution before any of its accomplishments are realized. It is returning to its repressive methods.

The youth have returned to the square so as to write a new page in [the history of] their revolution.

The revolution cannot stop in the middle of the road. The middle of the road opens the door wide open for counter-revolution, and allows for a conspiracy to empty the revolution of its guaranteed victory. This is what the youth of Egypt know as they themselves face bullets. They hold their country in the their throats, which are wounded by the cries for freedom, as well as their raised fists.

Love, salutation, and solidarity to them."

Al-Jazeera Video: Inside Story: Are Egypt's lines of control being re-drawn?

"Enthusiasm undiminished as millions vote in Egypt's parliamentary polls but what kind of government will emerge? Inside Story discusses with guests Hisham Qasim, Rabab el-Mahdi and Hisham Safei El-Din. "

Al-Jazeera Video: Iranian students storm British embassy in Tehran

Tehran invokes revolutionary fervor

By M K Bhadrakumar
Asia Times

"As the US gathers its flock, including its most reliable sycophant Britain, to move against the Iranian sphere via regime change in Syria, Tehran has taken the gloves off. The downgrading of ties with London moved with such speed that it is obvious it was authorized at the highest levels, as any further attempts at a soft line with the West have been rejected as futile....

All in all, Tehran is left in no doubt that the time has come to switch the Iranian nation into a revolutionary mode. The intrusion into the British Embassy invokes archetypal symbols of defiance and resistance, which are embedded in the Iran's revolutionary consciousness - especially when the collective memory about Britain is summoned. It is Iran's ultimate line of defense - as was the hostage crisis with the US in the months following the revolution when Iran came under siege...."

Sanctions are only a small part of the history that makes Iranians hate the UK

By Robert Fisk
Wednesday 30 November 2011

".....The mass of US secret documents found after the American embassy was sacked following the Iranian revolution proved to the Iranians not only Washington's attempts to subvert the new order of Ayatollah Khomeini but the continued partnership of the American and British intelligence services.

The British ambassador, almost to the end, remained convinced that the Shah, though deeply flawed, would survive. And British governments have continued to rage about the supposedly terrorist nature of the Iranian government. Tony Blair – even at the official inquiry into the Iraq war – started raving about the necessity of standing up to Iranian aggression.

Anyway, the Iranians trashed us yesterday and made off, we are told, with a clutch of UK embassy documents. I cannot wait to read their contents. For be sure, they will soon be revealed."

Israel: Lift Travel Ban on Human Rights Defender

Shawan Jabarin Unable to Receive Award, Attend Rights Meetings

November 29, 2011

"(Jerusalem, November 29, 2011) – Israeli authorities in the West Bank should lift the travel ban imposed since 2006 on West Bank resident Shawan Jabarin, the director of the Palestinian human rights group Al-Haq, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and B’Tselem said today. Israeli authorities violated Jabarin’s due process rights in imposing the ban and have not produced any evidence that would justify continuing to restrict him from travel, the groups said.

The ban has prevented Jabarin from leaving the West Bank to receive a prestigious human rights prize from the Danish PL Foundation, participate in a European Union forum on human rights, and attend a Human Rights Watch advisory committee meeting in New York City. Jabarin attempted to travel yesterday, but told the rights groups that Israeli authorities turned him back at the Allenby Bridge crossing with Jordan, citing the travel ban.

The ban preventing Shawan Jabarin from traveling abroad to receive an award is emblematic of the arbitrary restrictions placed on Palestinian human rights defenders and civil society activists,” said Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s interim MENA Programme Director. “It must be lifted, and the Israeli authorities must stop using unspecified security concerns to obstruct the work of Palestinian human rights activists.”....."

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Egypt Holds Historic Election As Military Council Resists Calls To Transfer Power To Civilians

Democracy Now!

"Egypt is in the second day of its first elections since the ouster of longtime president Hosni Mubarak earlier this year. On Monday, Egyptians waited in long lines across the country to choose their first ever democratically elected parliament. The elections are being held in the wake of fierce clashes between protesters and police last week that left at least 42 people dead and more than 3,100 wounded. We play a video report filed by Democracy Now! correspondent Sharif Abdel Kouddous in Cairo about the election held in the aftermath of a deadly crackdown. “We’re right here saying we want our rights... a civilian presidential council that is formed from people that represent us and that are agreed upon but they must have full authority not just someone like before, like Essam Sharaf’s government, just a secretary that carries out what the military council wants,” says protester Rania Mohamed Fawzi. “No, we’ve been silent for a long time. This time, we are not silent. And we will get all our rights. And this won’t be like the first time. They said Mubarak left and we all went home. No. This time we won’t go home until we get all our rights.”...."

Al-Jazeera Video: Gazans wait on outcome of Egypt elections

"Egyptians take to the polls, many Palestinians hope Egypt's future foreign policy will be more sympathetic to their cause.

Hamas is an offshoot of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood party. It is expected to do well in the elections that started on the 28th November.

There is some concern that if the Muslim Brotherhood wins in Egypt and Hamas grows stronger, human rights in the Gaza Strip could suffer.

After the Egyptian revolution, the military council announced it would re-open the Rafah border crossing with Gaza. This is the only crossing not controlled by Israel.

Many Palestinians would also like to see Egypt establish a full commercial crossing at Rafah.

Al Jazeera's Nicole Johnston reports from Gaza."

Al-Jazeera Video: UN: Syrian officials ordering mass atrocities

Al-Jazeera Video: Inside Story - Egypt elections special

"A special edition of the show from Cairo asking, is the military helping or subverting the democratic transition? With guests: Ezzedine Choukri Fishere, Emad Mohsen, and Wael Khalil. "

Al-Jazeera Video: UN faults Libya's NTC for legal limbo

"A new United Nations report says up to 7,000 people suspected to have fought with Muammar Gaddafi forces, are being held in Libya without legal representation.

Of the 7,000 currently under National Transitional Council-administered custody, many are sub-Saharan Africans said to be targeted for their skin colour.

The report was prepared for the UN Security Council in advance of Tuesday's debate on Libya.

Some of the 327 men being held in a prison in the coastal city of Misrata told Al Jazeera's Anita McNaught that the charges against them had not been made clear and they had not been given access to legal representation.

The UN report's publication came as Mustafa Abdul-Jalil's, the NTC leader, announced that a former deputy prime minister, Ali al-Essawi, had been arrested on suspicion of involvement in the murder in July of General Abdel Fatah Younis, a former Gaddafi interior minister turned senior NTC commander.

Prior to his death, Younis had been accused by some within the anti-Gaddafi camp of continuing to aid secretly the Libyan leader even after defecting to the opposition side last February."

The Revolution Continues

By Gilbert Achcar

"While voices were being raised from the right, and part of the left, declaring the “Arab Spring” over and advising the rebellious masses to go back home, recent days have made it abundantly clear that the revolutionary process which was sparked in Tunisia late last year remains alive and well. Indeed, it has reinvigorated itself and is experiencing a fresh upsurge – to be followed by others undoubtedly over the course of the years to come.

The revolution continues everywhere, defying attempts to abort it or divert it from its progressive and liberating course. These efforts are sponsored by the United States – protector of most of the afflicted regimes – and supervised by the bastions of Arab reaction in the Gulf oil states. They are engaged in a vain attempt to extinguish the flames of revolution by dousing them with petrodollars. And they are being aided and abetted – in exchange for a promised slice of the cake – by leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood backed by the emirate of Qatar and by Salafi groups backed by the Saudi kingdom.

Yet the revolution continues everywhere, as in Yemen, where “Our Revolution Continues” was the name given to last Friday’s rallies rejecting the “compromise” agreement to which [President] Saleh, grinning broadly, put his signature. The Saudi kingdom is trying to impose the deal on the Yemenis in order to perpetuate Saleh’s regime, like Mubarak’s in Egypt, while Saleh himself continues running the show from behind the scenes in Yemen itself or from the Saudi kingdom – the sanctuary for corrupt despots, which welcomed Ben Ali, offered to host Mubarak, and treated Saleh after his injury.

The revolution continues everywhere, as in Egypt, where the masses have taken to the streets in a new uprising against military rule. They have realised that the army command, which for a while they took to be loyal to the people, is an inseparable part – indeed a mainstay – of the regime whose downfall the people had demanded....

The revolution continues everywhere, as in Syria, where the popular struggle keeps intensifying, in defiance of the regime’s brutality and atrocious repression. Growing numbers of soldiers are daring to defect from the ranks of the army in order to truly carry out their duty of defending the people. Calls for foreign military intervention made by the right wing of the opposition are meanwhile being foiled. The right hopes that foreign intervention will hand them power on a steel platter, fearing that the popular uprising may succeed in toppling the regime on its own.....

The revolution continues everywhere, as in Bahrain, where the rebellious masses were not duped by the “fact-finding” pantomime which the US imposed on the kingdom to ease through its planned arms-supply deal. They are continuing to demonstrate and protest, day after day, convinced that victory will ultimately be theirs, and cannot be denied them forever by the Al Khalifa dynasty and its patron the House of Saud. Instead, the latter’s day of reckoning will unavoidably come.

The revolution continues everywhere, including in the Saudi kingdom, where the people of Qatif rose up some days ago, undeterred by the regime’s deadly repression. They will continue their struggle until its “contagion” spreads to every part of the Arabian Peninsula and to its entire people, despite the malicious sectarian incitement which has become the last ideological weapon of the House of Saud’s tyranny and the obscurantist Wahhabi establishment which, along with their US protectors, props them up.

When the House of Saud’s throne in the Arabian Peninsula falls, so will the principal bastion of Arab reaction, and the oldest ally and intermediary of US hegemony in our region (older even than the Zionist ally). On that day the whole autocratic and exploitative Arab order will have collapsed.

But until that day comes, the revolution must continue. It will definitely experience failures, setbacks, backlashes, tragedies, traps and conspiracies. As the main leader of the Chinese Revolution once put it: “Revolution is not a dinner party, not an essay, nor a painting, nor a piece of embroidery; it cannot be advanced softly, gradually...” The revolution must thus march tirelessly on, keeping in mind another famous maxim from one of the leaders of the French Revolution: “Those who make revolutions half way only dig their own graves. What constitutes a republic is the destruction of all that stands in its way.”"

Video: اعتصام مفاجئ لأجل سوريا - تورنتو Flash Mob for Syria in Toronto | Nov 27

Courtesy of

A glimpse of real democracy – but it may prove too good to be true

The cops and soldiers were on the streets again ... ignored by the queues outside polling stations

By Robert Fisk

"....For the Egyptian Revolution has also turned violent, bliss has given way to cynicism, the Muslim Brotherhood cosying up to the military which still – incredibly – thinks it can run the country as a private fiefdom, its shopping malls and banking conglomerates and its fancy villas intact, its private economy untouched by parliamentary control. And the parliament for which those millions of Egyptians voted yesterday – and will again in other governorates across the country until January – cannot form a government or choose ministers. Is this, in other words, a real transition? Or do Mubarak's old pal Field Marshal Tantawi and Mubarak's old crony Kamal Ganzouri – the Mubarakite army commander having just made the Mubarakite ex-Prime Minister a Prime Minister yet again – believe they can stitch the place up, yesterday's poll being another fantasy, real elections for real candidates who will have no power?

That it will be a Muslim Brotherhood parliament there is little doubt. It may call itself the Freedom and Justice Party and it would need a coalition to rule – if the army are not the real rulers – but secular Egypt suffered a death, I suspect, after the January-February revolution. The revolution still exists, albeit that the ranks of the protesters in Tahrir Square yesterday had grown thinner, the photographs of the new November martyrs less obviously displayed, the boycott-the-poll demand naturally silenced.

Up the road, the army's massive wall – more Wailing Wall than West Bank Wall, massive blocks rather than seamless concrete – seals off the crowds from the Interior Ministry. Walls like this have a habit of staying put, of remaining for many weeks longer than their builders intend. And why is the Interior Ministry so precious a building?

Because the torturers are still there? The men who set to work on the creatures whom George W Bush sent for a spot of rendition and genital-electrification, as well as Mubarak's routine opponents? Or because the files are still there, the terrifying evidence of Washington-Cairo collaboration in the "War on Terror"? No way are any nosy politicians, however honourably elected, going to get near this place.

And the baltagi, the drug addict thugs whom the police have been using to abuse and beat the protesters and who have now been seen again on the streets of Cairo, iron coshes in hand; where are they now? They appear among the cops and then vanish, Field Marshal Tantawi's very own Ninth Legion, their existence suddenly erased, their brutality always followed by expressions of sorrow from the "Supreme Council of the Armed Forces" and the familiar childish claims of a "foreign hand"......"

States must act resolutely on UN report on Syria

Amnesty International
28 November 2011

"Amnesty International today urged states to act on a UN report confirming that Syrian security forces committed crimes against humanity during their violent crackdown on demonstrators this year.

The UN Independent International Commission of Inquiry’s report, released in Geneva today, called on the Government of Syria to launch “independent and impartial investigations of these violations and to bring perpetrators to justice”.

It also called on the Syrian government to put an immediate end to the “ongoing gross human rights violations”, such as summary execution, arbitrary arrest, enforced disappearance, and torture, including sexual violence.

This report confirms what we have been saying for months – that crimes against humanity have been committed by Syrian security forces,” said Philip Luther, Interim Director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme at Amnesty International.

“However, events over the past months provide little reason to believe that the Syrian authorities will investigate and prosecute the perpetrators of these crimes. The UN and its member states must act to ensure accountability.”....

The international community must step in to address the climate of impunity in Syria,” said Philip Luther.

The Security Council must refer the situation to the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court.”...."