Sunday, 30 January 2011

IRAN IS ALLIED TO THE REGIONAL ARAB REVOLUTION

How Tehran Sees Tunis From Iran, it's more about 1979 than 2009.

Jan 28, 2011

As Tunisian President-for-Life Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali fled into ignominious exile two weeks ago, democrats around the world found hope in the notion that Tunisia's Jasmine Revolution would spread to Iran. The images of demonstrations from Sidi Bouzid to Tunis reminded Americans of the massive 2009 protests that gave rise to Iran's opposition Green Movement, and as pro-democracy movements inspired by Tunisia emerged in Egypt and Yemen, many observers saw a chance for Iran to be next. But looking closer, it's clear that Iranians -- from President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei on down to the Green Movement opposition -- view the Tunisia situation as vastly different from their own, and not one that's likely to spill over into a renewed push for democratic reform in their own country.

Despite the examples of Ben Ali and Egypt's beleaguered President Hosni Mubarak, Iran's leaders are far from running scared. In fact, Tehran is taking a distinctly more triumphalist understanding of the roots and effects of the Tunisian protests than American commentators would expect from another authoritarian Middle Eastern government -- particularly from one facing its own challenges from opposition forces.

In the week following Ben Ali's frantic flight to Saudi Arabia, reactions from Iranian officials and state-supported media were, as always, bold and self-assured. But this is no skin-deep grandstanding designed to force a positive spin on an unsettling example of political upheaval. Where Washington sees an anti-authoritarian uprising, Tehran describes a 1979-style rejection of a U.S.-supported secularist: Ahmadinejad referred to the Tunisian uprising as an expression of the people's will for an Islamic order, and the Iranian Majlis voted overwhelmingly to support the "revolution."

The conservative press thoroughly rejects any suggestion that the uprising in Tunisia is at all comparable to the Green Movement. A hard-line paper associated with the Revolutionary Guard Corps ridiculed comparisons in opposition media outlets between the economic conditions that helped spark the Tunisian riots and Iran's economic struggles, arguing that Tehran's recent success in implementing risky economic reforms was a testament to the regime's durable popular mandate.

Hossein Shariatmadari -- one of the Islamic Republic's most influential conservatives -- used the Tunisian events to underscore the hard-liners' far-fetched claims that Iran's 2009 post-election violence represented a purely Western-oriented conspiracy. Writing in the hard-line Kayhan newspaper a few days after Ben Ali left the country, he likened the masses of Iranians who poured into the streets demanding a recount of the last presidential election to the despotic Ben Ali regime. By his logic, Tehran's repression of the protests and the Green Movement -- a Western plot -- was actually what emboldened Tunisians to seize their own independence from American-endorsed autocracy.

Shariatmadari explained, "When the Muslim nations of the region see clearly that not just one arrogant power but all arrogant powers with all their powers and capabilities have been bitterly defeated against the Islamic faith and national perseverance of the Muslim people of Iran, do you not think that they would rise up for the liberation of themselves and their homeland from under the dominance of dictators and foreign colonialism?" While this idea may sound preposterous to American ears, the resonance it holds in the upper echelons of the Iranian leadership only points to a more assertive Tehran.

In their triumphal postmortems of the Tunisian upheaval, Iran's conservatives have also excitedly forecasted similar revolutions in other pro-Western Arab regimes such as Egypt, Yemen, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia -- a rare case where they and many American neoconservatives see eye to eye. These hard-liners are reveling in the notion that their Arab neighbors, particularly those governments that have aligned themselves closely with Washington, have become nervous about protesters emulating their Tunisian counterparts.

As for Ahmadinejad's critics, their point of view is not too different. The most important political fault line in Iran currently lies between hard-liners and more moderate conservatives within the Islamic Republic's establishment -- not between the government and the opposition. Optimistic Western observers might hope to see moderate conservatives take a different view from that of their archconservative rivals. But on the issue of Tunisia, the conservatives seem to be marching in lock step. While they have been more likely to read the events in Tunisia as a revolt against authoritarianism as such, even some of Ahmadinejad's main conservative critics see the uprising as evidence of the reach of the Islamic Revolution. A commentator in the often critical Mardom-Salari daily wrote that it was clear that Iran had shown Tunisia that "Islamism is superior to non-Islamic and secular governments in Islamic countries."

Perhaps the most important sign of Ahmadinejad's and Khamenei's staying power comes from the reaction of Iran''s dispirited and disorganized democratic opposition movement. Many in the Green Movement have embraced comparisons to the Tunisian protesters, but the opposition has largely struggled with how to interpret the Jasmine Revolution. Their reactions are bittersweet, ranging from a wistful sense of inspiration to soul-searching examinations of why Tunisians have succeeded where the Greens failed. Some have made excuses for the Green Movement's failure to remove Ahmadinejad, citing differences in the histories, demographics, and governments of Iran and Tunisia; others have tried hopefully to suggest that the Green Movement's lack of immediate and volatile results is actually a long-term strategic advantage.

One piece written by Jamileh Kadivar, the now-exiled reformist intellectual and parliamentarian, and posted on the opposition Rah-e Sabz website just hours after Ben Ali's departure from power may be the best indicator of the Green Movement's current mood. Marveling at the Tunisian people's amazing feat, she called their actions a model for all oppressed populations worldwide. Without explicitly referencing Iran, she wrote, "This is a dawn that can be very close at hand for many of the peoples who are under the oppression of tyranny, if they only have pride and trust in their own strength."

If American policymakers are looking for what the Green Movement is learning from the events in Tunisia, they may have to settle for Kadivar's vague optimism. What they will not find is an Iranian leadership conveying any sense of fear, disappointment, or insecurity as a result of the Tunisian uprising, or a reinvigorated, inspired reform movement like the one in Egypt. With no major divergence of views among the factions of the conservative establishment, it is impossible to conceive of cracks forming in the oft-uneasy alliance that maintains the Islamic Republic's stability; and the Green Movement is, at this point, simply too battered after a year and a half of severe repression to take advantage of cracks, if they were to open.

It would be easy -- especially in light of the spread of protests to Egypt and other countries -- for Washington to embrace the idea that now is the time to openly and actively support the Iranian opposition. But this would be a grave miscalculation based on a false impression of Iranian weakness, one destined to backfire and brand the Green Movement as American puppets. Barack Obama's administration would be wisest to concede that no domino is likely to fall eastward onto Tehran.

IRAN IS SUPPORTIVE OF THE REGIONAL ARAB REVOLUTION, AND THE IRANIAN REGIME IS IN NO DANGER OF BEING CHALLENGED

How Tehran Sees Tunis From Iran, it's more about 1979 than 2009.

Jan 28, 2011

As Tunisian President-for-Life Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali fled into ignominious exile two weeks ago, democrats around the world found hope in the notion that Tunisia's Jasmine Revolution would spread to Iran. The images of demonstrations from Sidi Bouzid to Tunis reminded Americans of the massive 2009 protests that gave rise to Iran's opposition Green Movement, and as pro-democracy movements inspired by Tunisia emerged in Egypt and Yemen, many observers saw a chance for Iran to be next. But looking closer, it's clear that Iranians -- from President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei on down to the Green Movement opposition -- view the Tunisia situation as vastly different from their own, and not one that's likely to spill over into a renewed push for democratic reform in their own country.

Despite the examples of Ben Ali and Egypt's beleaguered President Hosni Mubarak, Iran's leaders are far from running scared. In fact, Tehran is taking a distinctly more triumphalist understanding of the roots and effects of the Tunisian protests than American commentators would expect from another authoritarian Middle Eastern government -- particularly from one facing its own challenges from opposition forces.

In the week following Ben Ali's frantic flight to Saudi Arabia, reactions from Iranian officials and state-supported media were, as always, bold and self-assured. But this is no skin-deep grandstanding designed to force a positive spin on an unsettling example of political upheaval. Where Washington sees an anti-authoritarian uprising, Tehran describes a 1979-style rejection of a U.S.-supported secularist: Ahmadinejad referred to the Tunisian uprising as an expression of the people's will for an Islamic order, and the Iranian Majlis voted overwhelmingly to support the "revolution."

The conservative press thoroughly rejects any suggestion that the uprising in Tunisia is at all comparable to the Green Movement. A hard-line paper associated with the Revolutionary Guard Corps ridiculed comparisons in opposition media outlets between the economic conditions that helped spark the Tunisian riots and Iran's economic struggles, arguing that Tehran's recent success in implementing risky economic reforms was a testament to the regime's durable popular mandate.

Hossein Shariatmadari -- one of the Islamic Republic's most influential conservatives -- used the Tunisian events to underscore the hard-liners' far-fetched claims that Iran's 2009 post-election violence represented a purely Western-oriented conspiracy. Writing in the hard-line Kayhan newspaper a few days after Ben Ali left the country, he likened the masses of Iranians who poured into the streets demanding a recount of the last presidential election to the despotic Ben Ali regime. By his logic, Tehran's repression of the protests and the Green Movement -- a Western plot -- was actually what emboldened Tunisians to seize their own independence from American-endorsed autocracy.

Shariatmadari explained, "When the Muslim nations of the region see clearly that not just one arrogant power but all arrogant powers with all their powers and capabilities have been bitterly defeated against the Islamic faith and national perseverance of the Muslim people of Iran, do you not think that they would rise up for the liberation of themselves and their homeland from under the dominance of dictators and foreign colonialism?" While this idea may sound preposterous to American ears, the resonance it holds in the upper echelons of the Iranian leadership only points to a more assertive Tehran.

In their triumphal postmortems of the Tunisian upheaval, Iran's conservatives have also excitedly forecasted similar revolutions in other pro-Western Arab regimes such as Egypt, Yemen, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia -- a rare case where they and many American neoconservatives see eye to eye. These hard-liners are reveling in the notion that their Arab neighbors, particularly those governments that have aligned themselves closely with Washington, have become nervous about protesters emulating their Tunisian counterparts.

As for Ahmadinejad's critics, their point of view is not too different. The most important political fault line in Iran currently lies between hard-liners and more moderate conservatives within the Islamic Republic's establishment -- not between the government and the opposition. Optimistic Western observers might hope to see moderate conservatives take a different view from that of their archconservative rivals. But on the issue of Tunisia, the conservatives seem to be marching in lock step. While they have been more likely to read the events in Tunisia as a revolt against authoritarianism as such, even some of Ahmadinejad's main conservative critics see the uprising as evidence of the reach of the Islamic Revolution. A commentator in the often critical Mardom-Salari daily wrote that it was clear that Iran had shown Tunisia that "Islamism is superior to non-Islamic and secular governments in Islamic countries."

Perhaps the most important sign of Ahmadinejad's and Khamenei's staying power comes from the reaction of Iran''s dispirited and disorganized democratic opposition movement. Many in the Green Movement have embraced comparisons to the Tunisian protesters, but the opposition has largely struggled with how to interpret the Jasmine Revolution. Their reactions are bittersweet, ranging from a wistful sense of inspiration to soul-searching examinations of why Tunisians have succeeded where the Greens failed. Some have made excuses for the Green Movement's failure to remove Ahmadinejad, citing differences in the histories, demographics, and governments of Iran and Tunisia; others have tried hopefully to suggest that the Green Movement's lack of immediate and volatile results is actually a long-term strategic advantage.

One piece written by Jamileh Kadivar, the now-exiled reformist intellectual and parliamentarian, and posted on the opposition Rah-e Sabz website just hours after Ben Ali's departure from power may be the best indicator of the Green Movement's current mood. Marveling at the Tunisian people's amazing feat, she called their actions a model for all oppressed populations worldwide. Without explicitly referencing Iran, she wrote, "This is a dawn that can be very close at hand for many of the peoples who are under the oppression of tyranny, if they only have pride and trust in their own strength."

If American policymakers are looking for what the Green Movement is learning from the events in Tunisia, they may have to settle for Kadivar's vague optimism. What they will not find is an Iranian leadership conveying any sense of fear, disappointment, or insecurity as a result of the Tunisian uprising, or a reinvigorated, inspired reform movement like the one in Egypt. With no major divergence of views among the factions of the conservative establishment, it is impossible to conceive of cracks forming in the oft-uneasy alliance that maintains the Islamic Republic's stability; and the Green Movement is, at this point, simply too battered after a year and a half of severe repression to take advantage of cracks, if they were to open.

It would be easy -- especially in light of the spread of protests to Egypt and other countries -- for Washington to embrace the idea that now is the time to openly and actively support the Iranian opposition. But this would be a grave miscalculation based on a false impression of Iranian weakness, one destined to backfire and brand the Green Movement as American puppets. Barack Obama's administration would be wisest to concede that no domino is likely to fall eastward onto Tehran.

UPSTANDING TUNISIAN SISTER SOUMAYA GHANNOUSHI ON THE ARAB REVOLUTION

[Soumaya Ghannoushi]

Arab states: a quagmire of tyranny

Arabs are rebelling not just against decrepit autocrats but the foreign backers who kept them in power

Soumaya Ghannoushi
Fri 28 Jan 2010

We are witnessing the breakdown of the Arab state after decades of failure and mounting crises. The Arab political establishment has never looked weaker than it does today. It is either dying a protracted silent death, corroded from within, or collapsing in thunderous explosions. Tunisia, which toppled its dictator through popular revolution two weeks ago, is by no means an exception. The symptoms are evident throughout the region, from the accelerating movement of protest in Egypt, Algeria and Jordan, or the increasing polarisation of Lebanon's sectarian politics, to the near-collapse of the state in Yemen and Sudan, and its complete disintegration in Somalia.

The postcolonial Arab state has always carried deficiency as part of its genetic make-up. It had emerged as a substitute for the complex network of local elites, tribal chieftains and religious groupings through which the imperial authorities had maintained their grip; and its mission was the regulation of the indigenous population. This system of indirect control over the region, which assumed its present shape in the aftermath of the first world war, specifically required a "state" that is capable of keeping the local populations under check and maintaining "stability" at home, but too weak to disrupt foreign influence or disturb the regional balance of powers.

The first generation of post-colonial Arab leaders, the likes of Egypt's Nasser and Tunisia's Bourguiba, had been able to soften the repressive nature of the Arab state by virtue of their personal charisma, and promises of progress. With their exit from the stage, and the entry of a new class of colourless autocrats and crude generals, the Arab state lost any cover of legitimacy, and became synonymous with violence and oppression.

Much of the turmoil plaguing the region today is traceable to its diseased political order. Its degeneration has wrought havoc on the social sphere too. It has led to weaker national identities, and to individuals reverting to their narrower sectarian affiliations, sparking conflicts between Sunnis and Shias, Arabs and Kurds, Copts and Muslims. The result has been a growth in extremism, self-insulation, and what the French Lebanese novelist Amin Maalouf calls "killer identities".

Beyond the Arab state's aura of physical might – embodied in its terrifying coercion apparatus – lurks a moral vulnerability and an abysmal dearth of popular allegiance. This paradox has been laid bare by protesters in Tunisia and is in the process of being exposed in Egypt today. These demonstrators are discovering the extreme frailty of the instruments of repression that have long crushed and suffocated them simultaneously, with the staggering power of their collective action on the street. The ousting of Tunisia's tyrant after no more than a month of perpetual protests has handed millions of Arabs the magical key out of the prison of fear behind whose walls they have been incarcerated for decades.

Events in Tunisia, Egypt and – to a lesser extent – Algeria are harbingers of a change long impeded and postponed. Were it not for the international will to maintain the worn out status quo, what happened in eastern Europe and the Soviet Union in the late 1980s could have occurred in the Arab region too. Its decrepit autocrats were allowed to stagger on, shedding their old skins and riding on the wave of rampant economic liberalism, which benefited the narrow interests of ruling families and their associates alone, and thrust the rest into a bottomless pit of poverty and marginalisation.

Arab rulers – aided by their foreign allies – have been able to steal over two decades of their societies' political life. Today they face the hour of truth: either radically transform the structure of authoritarian Arab rule, or depart for ever. The trouble is that an entity that has made coercion its raison d'etre and violence its sole means of survival has left itself no option but to sink deeper in the quagmire of tyranny. And the trouble for its sponsors, who have made its preservation the cornerstone of their "stability" strategy in the region, is that they have now tied their own hands, with no choice but to blindly stick with their "friends" to the last breath.

That is why those demonstrating on Arab streets today feel that they are not only rebelling against a band of corrupt local despots, but against their foreign backers too. And though we cannot predict the future, the likelihood is that just as Latin Americans had seen the fall of many Pinochets in the 1980s, Arabs will witness more Ben Alis before the close of this decade.

Saturday, 29 January 2011

THE ROLE OF THE ARMY IN THE EGYPTIAN REVOLUTION - BY BROTHER DYAB ABOU JAHJAH

Can the Army Neutralize the People?

Hope is a powerful feeling, it is contagious, and it tends to increase geometrically. And hope is exactly what Tunisia gave our Arab people everywhere, Tunisia the land of the revolution where today 3 martyrs fell in the Kasbah, is still the inspiration of a whole Nation. OUR great dormant nation, from Rabat to Baghdad. This Arab nation that many people called a myth, and many others see as a project, is an entity in need of awareness, it needs to have a sense of itself, its possibilities, its potential, its power. Tunisia gave us all that and the results are exploding in the streets of Egypt today.

Tunisia ousted Benali after almost a month, Egypt is close to doing it in few days.

Today the Egyptian people controlled the country and burned all ruling party buildings and all police stations. The army then went to the streets and controlled all strategic places. Moubarak went out to speak as if he is living in another planet; no concessions whatsoever apart from sacking a government that cannot govern anyhow. Some say the message was recorded and the tyrant already left the country, many believe otherwise. I believe that he either left or will leave very soon.

I wrote yesterday of the hand the Americans still can play…. I believe that a military coup maybe in the making. General Sami Annan ( chief of staff of the army) was in Washington and is heading home , maybe he is carrying with him the American secret card to play now.

This is dangerous for the uprising, as dangerous as the respect the people in Egypt have for the army. The Army is viewed by the average Egyptian as an entity that sacrificed for the fatherland in several wars against Israel and also as the only functioning and modern institution. It is similar with the position the army has in Tunisia. Nothing is less true, The Egyptian army just like the Tunisian army has organic ties with the pentagon and the CIA, it is not to be trusted. The only difference in this case is that in Tunisia the army took to the streets when the regime fell and not before so a coup scenario was already a difficult option. The Egyptian army may be a hurdle in the way of the people towards toppling the regime.

Would the people sweep the army in its way towards destroying the rest of the regime? Or would the army shoot at the people? Would the people and the army clash? I personally do not think so. The challenge now is for the people to be determined and persevere while making it clear to the army that the word is now to them, the people, and not to the army. In all other cases, the regime will just recuperate and regenerate with Mobarak at ots head or another American puppet.

It is my conviction that the Egyptian people are far from being satisfied with the outcome so far, and that this revolution will continue in all its glory. It will probably take more peaceful forms now, or, extremely more violent forms.

Friday, 28 January 2011

AL-JAZEERA AS REVOLUTIONARY MEDIA FOR TUNISIA, EGYPT ETC

Seizing a Moment, Al Jazeera Galvanizes Arab Frustration

The protests rocking the Arab world this week have one thread uniting them: Al Jazeera, the Qatar-based satellite channel whose aggressive coverage has helped propel insurgent emotions from one capital to the next.

Al Jazeera has been widely hailed for helping enable the revolt in Tunisia with its galvanizing early reports, even as Western-aligned political factions in Lebanon and the West Bank attacked and burned the channel’s offices and vans this week, accusing it of incitement against them.

In many ways, it is Al Jazeera’s moment — not only because of the role it has played, but also because the channel has helped to shape a narrative of popular rage against oppressive American-backed Arab governments (and against Israel) ever since its founding 15 years ago. That narrative has long been implicit in the channel’s heavy emphasis on Arab suffering and political crisis, its screaming-match talk shows, even its sensational news banners and swelling orchestral accompaniments.

“The notion that there is a common struggle across the Arab world is something Al Jazeera helped create,” said Marc Lynch, a professor of Middle East Studies at George Washington University who has written extensively on the Arab news media. “They did not cause these events, but it’s almost impossible to imagine all this happening without Al Jazeera.”

Yet Al Jazeera’s opaque loyalties and motives are as closely scrutinized as its reporting. It is accused of tailoring its coverage to support Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza against their Lebanese and Palestinian rivals. Its reporter in Tunisia became a leading partisan in the uprising there. And critics speculate that the network bowed to the diplomatic interests of the Qatari emir, its patron, by initially playing down the protests in Egypt.

Not since the 2003 invasion of Iraq, when American officials accused it of sympathy for Saddam Hussein and the insurgency that arose after his downfall, has Al Jazeera been such a lightning rod. This time, its antagonists as well as its supporters are spread all over the Arab world.

This week, Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority, accused Al Jazeera of distorting his positions, inciting violence and trying to destroy him politically. The station had broadcast a special report based on leaked documents that appeared to show Mr. Abbas and his allies offering Israel far-reaching concessions on Jerusalem and the fate of Palestinian refugees. The reporting set off angry demonstrations against the Palestinian Authority in Gaza, and in response, Abbas loyalists attacked Al Jazeera’s office in Ramallah.

In Lebanon, Sunni supporters of the ousted prime minister, Saad Hariri, set fire to an Al Jazeera van and menaced a crew in the northern city of Tripoli, accusing the channel of sympathizing with their Shiite opponents.

There is little doubt that Al Jazeera takes sides in the Palestinian dispute, portraying Hamas more favorably than its rivals — and it is more open about Arab anger at Israel than some other outlets. Even the station’s fans concede that it has blind spots and political vulnerabilities.

On Tuesday afternoon, as the street protests in Egypt were heating up, Al Jazeera was uncharacteristically slow to report them, airing a culture documentary, a sports show and more of its “Palestine Papers” coverage of the leaked documents.

Many Egyptians felt betrayed, and Facebook and Twitter were full of rumors about a deal between Qatar — the Persian Gulf emirate whose emir, Sheik Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, founded Al Jazeera in 1996 — and President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, who visited the emir in Doha last month. Within a day, Al Jazeera was reporting from the streets in Cairo in its usual manic style.

Al Jazeera’s freewheeling broadcasts have long made it the bête noire of Arab governments, and in some earlier instances they have succeeded in reining it in.

In 2007, the channel received orders to soften its blunt coverage of Saudi Arabia after Qatar and the Saudis mended a smoldering political feud. That remains a weak point for Al Jazeera — as for most of the pan-Arab press, which is largely owned by Saudi Arabia.

Yet for all its flaws, Al Jazeera still operates with less constraint than almost any other Arab outlet, and remains the most popular channel in the region. To many Arabs, Al Jazeera’s recent exposé on the Palestinian Authority documents — sometimes called “Pali-leaks” — is of a piece with its reporting on protests against autocratic Arab regimes.

The Palestinian Authority is widely seen as a pawn of Israel and the West, an institution with little popular support that is kept alive by force, much like those Arab dictators. If Al Jazeera is often accused of institutional sympathy for Islamists, that is at least in part because Islamism has become the most powerful popular force in the region (though not, curiously enough, in the recent protests).

And Al Jazeera has been widely admired for its aggressive coverage of the Tunisian uprising, which was largely ignored in most Western outlets. The channel succeeded despite serious obstacles: the Tunisian government had barred its reporters from the country, and a Tunisian born-anchor, Mohammed Krichen, arranged for an old friend, Lotfi Hajji, to work under cover as Al Jazeera’s eyes and ears on the ground.

Mr. Hajji, a freelance journalist who also calls himself a human rights activist, was followed and harassed by the secret police almost constantly. After the uprising started, local contacts began sending Mr. Hajji amateur videos of police violence over Facebook. Al Jazeera began showing the grainy cellphone videos on its broadcasts, as part of what the station sympathetically labeled “the Sidi Bouzid Uprising” after the town where a young man started it all by setting himself on fire on Dec. 17.

Each time Al Jazeera broadcast the videos, more would flood into Mr. Hajji’s Facebook account, in a cycle that blew the seeds of revolt across the country.

“During the era of Ben Ali a lot of journalists wouldn’t dare broadcast these images — like a video of a policeman beating a common citizen, because the police might come for them,” Mr. Hajji said. “But being a human rights activist pushed me to show what was really happening.”

Two years ago, an amateur journalist reporting for a Web site was jailed for showing film of an uprising in the Tunisian city of Gafsa; with no coverage in Facebook or Al Jazeera, it never spread to other towns.

As the protests accelerated this month, some Tunisian officials protested that Al Jazeera was hyping the unrest because of its anti-Western agenda: its managers wanted to see a “moderate” Arab regime fall, even if the protesters were not Islamists, like those in so many earlier revolts. But that seems unlikely. Al Jazeera’s producers knew they had a story line that their audience would love.

Since the fall of Tunisia’s autocratic president, Al Jazeera’s reporters and producers have spoken with pride of their role in the events. They also recognize that their reputation as a catalyst carries risks.

“I think we should be careful — I mean we shouldn’t think that our role is to release the Arab people from oppression,” said Mr. Krichen, the anchor.

“But I think we should also be careful not to avoid any popular movement. We should have our eyes open to capture any event that could be the start of the end of any dictator in the Arab world.”

UPDATE ON EGYPT & TUNISIA FROM BROTHER DYAB

Egypt and Tunisia: How do revolutions start, and when do revolutions end?

Egypt’s revolution is still cooking, but not boiling yet. Today the people took to the streets in a fragmented way, after the police heavy-handedly dispersed the crowd yesterday.

In Cairo one demonstrator and one police officer died today in the clashes. That gives an idea of the level of protest; the government is denying this, though.

Also, Egypt has its own Sidi Bouzid now: the city of Suez. Three people have already been shot dead there, and the crowd stormed into the National Democratic Party (Mubarak’s party) headquarters in the city.

Maybe what the uprising in Egypt needs is more grassroots organizing. Till now, in Cairo at least, the mobilization has been done online, mainly through Facebook and Twitter. This is very efficient in spreading the word, but it is also vulnerable to infiltration and makes it hard to control real neighborhoods like what happened in Tunisia where neighborhoods and villages organized themselves against repression: since everybody knows everybody on that organic level, infiltration becomes difficult.

Eventually, if the uprising continues, it will start trickling down into the neighborhoods; once that happens, the regime will have difficulties controlling the crowds. In a neighborhood like Imbaba for instance, any revolution will make a whole part of Cairo inaccessible to the police. In Suez and Alexandria similar scenarios can occur faster with a strong regional sentiment present.

The beautiful thing about this uprising is that it came at a time when the regime was playing the sectarian card and trying to create a violent rift between Christians and Muslims and then pose as the sole guarantee for security in the country, an Egyptian “après moi le déluge.” Today, Christians and Muslims were together in the street against their common enemy, chanting slogans like “revolution until victory, in Tunisia and in Egypt,” “The people wants the regime down,” “Mubarak, leave, and take your son with you.” Flags of Tunisia and Palestine were also seen.

On Facebook, a call to demonstrate next Friday seems to be very popular, and Facebook groups with as many as half a million members are mobilizing for more action. This is huge as media; I don’t think any revolution in history had the opportunity to have such an efficient communication tool. Add to that the role Al Jazeera is playing, and you have the perfect tools of information possible.

Speaking of Al Jazeera, it is nowadays picking a fight with the Palestinian authority (PA) through unveiling secret documents of meeting minutes between PA leadership and British, American, and Israeli leaderships. The most important info is that the PA has pleaded with the Americans to ask Israel to keep the siege against Gaza. Worse and more unsettling, however, is the proof that the PA is coordinating with the Israelis to assassinate resistance leaders — even those of Fatah. I personally knew that since 2001 when an important Hamas leader said it to me in a meeting when I asked him why they didn’t trust the Fatah leadership, but to have it revealed this way is shocking nonetheless. Is this going to generate an uprising against the PA in the West Bank? It certainly should, but so far it is only the pro-PA thugs who are rising up against Al Jazeera and trying to burn down its offices.

It is amazing what the Tunisian revolution unleashed, and I believe we haven’t seen the end of it yet. The actions against the government continue, mainly in the provinces and through the people who are gathering in front of the Qasba in Tunis. However, the repression is becoming harsh again, and supporters of the government are daring to show their faces in the streets and demonstrate, asking people to give it a chance till the transition of power is made six months from now. The same demand that General Ammar made when he appeared for the first time and spoke to the protestors.

I can say that the people are divided on the issue of the government. The argument of many is that a void is only good for the enemies of the people and the old regime or a pretext for the military to take over. They feel that the government as a transition mechanism is a necessity and that RCDers should be integrated and not marginalized. Some say even that the corruption of some must be hidden for the sake of social peace and that the six-month transition period is necessary to hide all the scandals under Ben Ali. ”After all, the regime fell and we do not want a civil war,” they say.

On the other hand, it is hard for the people of Sidi Bouzid and other marginalized cities to accept all this and turn a blind eye to the people who just finished massacring them. That is why they marched on the capital, and they are camping there demanding the resignation of the government; they are supported by the trade union and radical activists. The danger is that this will become a dividing line between the marginalized Tunisians of the interior and the south and the more middle-class coastal areas. The government is declaring changes in its composition tomorrow, and the expectations are that three ministers who served under Ben Ali will resign. It is unclear whether this is going to satisfy the protestors.


On yankee involvement in Tunisia

1- The change in the composition of the Tunisian government ousting RCD ministers seems to have satisfied the UGTT and this is a sign that the protest now will be weakened. The protest was gathering sympathy again whit an ever recurring discussion on regionalism and regional identity. The people are aware and they are pushing their agenda through. The protest will continue as a pressure card and a watch dog counting every breath Ganoushi and his crew make. A strong anti-American sentiment is growing now that it is clear that the Americans are trying to hijack the revolution and secure the loyalty if the new regime.


2- Today (Friday 28) in Egypt is a crucial day to test the balance of force. The regime is extremely nervous and very close to losing control, the Americans are also becoming nervous and in continuous contact with the army. A coup in Egypt is likely, especially with the outcome of Tunisia that took everybody by surprise. The American cannot afford to lose Egypt, so I believe if the regime shakes tomorrow they will give a green light for a military coup. The people in Egypt must be aware and should fight a coup as hard as they fight Moubarak. The Battle for Egypt will be hard and lengthy and it will continue after Moubarak leaves. The People have to dig in, and dig in deep.

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

TUNISIA/EGYPT/LEBANON: MOMENTUM BUILDS IN THE ARAB REVOLUTION - BROTHER DYAB ONCE AGAIN

Egypt answers Tunisia, and Echoes in Lebanon!

They do not belong to a political party, they do not follow a particular Ideology, they set an appointment on Facebook, an appointment we all laughed about telling them you cannot approach a revolution like you approach a blind date, but today with thousands they came… They took the streets of Cairo by surprise…. They took us all by surprise… No one of us really hoped this will happen. For years we were indoctrinated that Egypt is the heart of the Arab nation, and that we will not rise up until Egypt rises… After the victory against Israel in 2006 and the glorious Tunisian revolution we were all convinced that this is not necessary, that we can do it without Egypt. I do still think we can do it without Egypt, but if Egypt is Free, then we will all become so much faster.



The profile of the demonstrators are youngsters , middle class, and determined to accomplish change.

Hilary Clinton said today that she trusts the Egyptian leadership is doing the best for its people, and this is a clear signal that the Americans will not forsake Moubarak that easily. How could they when the man is even prepared to besiege Gaza for them and keep the biggest Arab country with all its resources in check. The Americans are trying to intervene in Tunisia too, with Secretary of state assistant Jeffrey Veltman ( the man we know all too well in Lebanon) visiting… This is bad omen as Sayed Hassan Nasrallah said today, but also in my opinion a sign of nervousness. The Americans may have the army card to play in Tunisia in case the government falls, but can the army control the revolution now? I believe not, the chance was to depose Benali, and that chance was missed by the military and for good.

In Lebanon, the opposition led by Hizbullah and its allies managed to have a parliamentarian majority to form a new government. All by the book and by the constitution. The Americans did all they could even bribing and pressuring MP’s to gather more votes for their stooge Saad Harriri, but they failed. Immediately after, thugs of Hariri’s party took to the streets and blocked roads burning tires in a desperate attempt to put pressure on the new government but in vain… another Blow for the Empire.

Benali fell, Hariri fell, and now Moubarak?

The regime is hoping that this is just a trendy expression of a generation wanting to live a kind of may 68…. Marking its presence, having its say.

But already two people died and the people are camping in the streets…. Is this a revolution? Can this be the end of the regime?

People of the opposition are trying to jump on the car of the youth movement, but it is clear that the movement is autonomous and determined….

Tens of thousands are in street of Cairo today, would they be there tomorrow? Would others join them?

Knowing the Egyptian regime, it will soon start harassing the demonstrators by infiltration. They will send in hooligans to mingle among them and provoke violence and even attack the demonstrators from within.

Aljazeera is however taking up the role of revolutionary media again, and many artists and activists are joining. I am very reluctant to consider this a revolution yet. We would have to see if the youth are bold enough to endure martyrdom, because this is what they people would need to do.

One thing is sure, the youth are organizing themselves in committees already and they even installed their own radio on camp. Cairo is answering Tunis. One Arab people and it is awakening.

PALESTINE: bRITS (mi6) DIRTY GAMES

Palestine papers reveal MI6 drew up plan for crackdown on Hamas
• Internment and replacement of imams among measures
• Document proposed 'direct lines' to Israeli intelligence
• New files reveal Israel requested assassination of militant

25 Jan, 2011

British intelligence helped draw up a secret plan for a wide-ranging crackdown on the Islamist movement Hamas which became a security blueprint for the Palestinian Authority, leaked documents reveal. The plan asked for the internment of leaders and activists, the closure of radio stations and the replacement of imams in mosques.

The disclosure of the British plan, drawn up by the intelligence service in conjunction with Whitehall officials in 2004, and passed by a Jerusalem-based MI6 officer to the senior PA security official at the time, Jibril Rajoub, is contained in the cache of confidential documents obtained by al-Jazeera TV and shared with the Guardian. The documents also highlight the intimate level of military and security cooperation between Palestinian and Israeli forces.

The bulk of the British plan has since been carried out by the West Bank-based PA security apparatus which is increasingly criticised for authoritarian rule and human rights abuses, including detention without trial and torture.

The British documents, which have been independently authenticated by the Guardian, included detailed proposals for a security taskforce based on the UK's "trusted" Palestinian Authority contacts, outside the control of "traditional security chiefs", with "direct lines" to Israel intelligence.

It lists suicide bombers and rockets as issues that need urgent attention.

Under the heading "Degrading the capabilities of the rejectionists", the MI6 Palestinian Security Plan recommends "the detention of key middle-ranking officers" of Hamas and other armed groups, adding: "We could also explore the temporary internment of leading Hamas and PIJ [Palestinian Islamic Jihad] figures, making sure they are well-treated, with EU funding."

The latest leaks come as US state department spokesman Philip Crowley said they would "at least for a time, make the situation more difficult", while the senior Palestinian negotiator Nabil Sha'ath acknowledged that the documents were genuine and Palestinian groups in Latin America reacted with shock to the revelation that former US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice had privately suggested Palestinian refugees be settled in Chile or Argentina.

Among the newly released confidential PA documents is an extraordinary account of a 2005 meeting between Israel's then defence minister, Shaul Mofaz, and the PA's interior minister, Nasser Youssef.

Referring to Hassan al-Madhoun, a commander in the armed Fatah-linked al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades who was held responsible by Israel for a suicide attack the previous year, Mofaz asked Yousef: "We know his address ... Why don't you kill him?" Yousef replied: "The environment is not easy, our capabilities are limited." Israel killed Madhoun a few months later in a drone missile attack on his car.

The PLO's chief spokesman, Saeb Erekat, is recorded as telling senior US official David Hale in 2009: "We have had to kill Palestinians to establish one authority, one gun and the rule of law … We have even killed our own people to maintain order and the rule of law."

Erekat also complained to US envoy George Mitchell in 2009 that not enough was being done to seal off tunnels from Egypt into the Gaza Strip, the documents reveal, undermining the siege of the Hamas-controlled territory, and urged that more be done by Israel and Egypt to prevent the smuggling of goods and weapons. In an echo of the proposals in the British documents, Erekat told Hale: "We are not a country yet but we are the only ones in the Arab world who control the zakat [religious charitable donations] and the sermons in the mosque."

The intelligence papers highlight the far-reaching official British involvement in building up the Palestinian Authority's security apparatus in the West Bank, which was led from the late 1990s by the CIA and recently has focused on the build-up of forces under General Keith Dayton, who was US security coordinator for Israel and the Palestinian territories until last October.

Alistair Crooke, a former MI6 officer who also worked for the EU in Israel and the Palestinian territories, said that the British documents reflected a 2003 decision by Tony Blair to tie UK and EU security policy in the West Bank and Gaza to a US-led "counter-insurgency surge" against Hamas – which backfired when the Islamists won the Palestinian elections in 2006.

The PA's security control of the West Bank has become harsher and more extensive since the takeover of Gaza by Hamas in the summer of 2007. Hundreds of Hamas and other activists have been routinely detained without trial in recent years, and subjected to widely documented human rights abuses. In a meeting with Palestinian officials in 2009, Dayton is recorded praising the PA's security: "The intelligence guys are good. The Israelis like them. But they are causing some problems for international donors because they are torturing people.

"I've only started working on this very recently. I don't need to tell you who was working with them before," – in an apparent reference to the CIA.

EXCELLENT FILM ON LUMUMBA, 'GREATEST MAN OF AFRICA' - MALCOLM X



















ENGLAND: A NEW GENERATION OF YOUNG REVOLUTIONARIES, EDUCATED BY THEIR/OUR ENEMY AND THE FAILURES OF THEIR ELDERS



Monday, 24 January 2011

PALESTINE: MACY GRAY SHOULD HAVE CHECKED WITH GIL SCOTT HERON, INSTEAD OF LOOKING A COMPLETE FOOL

Israelis target Macy Gray with racist diatribes AFTER she agrees to play Tel Aviv (and who are the “assholes?”)

By Max Blumental

The Israeli media is filled with reports about Macy Gray confirming her plans to perform in Tel Aviv in March. This should have been an occasion for Israelis to celebrate their continuing ability to behave as a normal society despite occupying millions of people, holding Gaza under siege, maintaining an apparatus of racism against its non-Jewish citizens. But in a poorly calculated stunt designed to wash her hands of human rights concerns, Gray had first asked her “fans” if she should perform despite what she called Israel’s “disgusting” treatment of the Palestinians. Within hours, thousands of people who had no prior interest in Gray or her music flocked to her Facebook page (they only had to “like” her page in order to post) to register their opinions. Gray, who appeared to have every intention of performing anyway, remarked after announcing her plan to go to Tel Aviv, that some of those urging her to boycott were “assholes.”

Under normal circumstances, Gray’s roundhouse attack on some supporters of BDS and her subsequent pledge to perform in Tel Aviv should have pleased nationalistic Israelis. However, her initial criticism of Israel’s occupation has invited a firestorm of racist, sexist and generally hateful diatribes from Israelis. Indeed, many Israelis are more furious with Gray for performing inside their country than for refusing to come. Several internet forums, including one called “Don’t Betray,” have sprouted up to incite public anger at artists such as Gray who have criticized Israel — even if they agree to perform in the country. Meanwhile, the talkback sections of articles in the Hebrew media about Gray’s Tel Aviv shows have provided a forum for the most extreme screeds about the singer.

I have collected and translated a sampling of talkbacks from an article in the Hebrew edition of Ynet, the online version of the Israeli paper Yedioth Aharonoth, which highlight the attitude of some Israelis towards Gray. The talkbacks are almost entirely negative towards Gray, with many urging her to cancel her show for daring to criticize Israel, while others call her a “nigger” and denigrate black music as “contaminated.” Gray might be vaguely aware of Israel’s systematic abuse of Palestinians, but is she aware of the racism towards black Africans inside Israel, including Ethiopian Jews? Has she considered how she might be treated if she were living in Israel? And who are the “assholes” anyway?

Some of 500+ comments from the talkback section to the Hebrew Ynet article provocatively entitled “Gray is against Israel but not canceling:”

THe ugly niggers are joining the Darfurians entering here. All of you go away. wedontwantyou

Go find whoever is going to shag you you fucking whore. Every piece of garbage opens their cunt on us. muslimit

David from Safed: She should take all her brothers the Sudanese and Eritreans and fuck off here.

Another “afro american.” Nice name that the niggers made for themselves. Max

Black music is inferior music that fits you. No name [Another commenter calls him a racist.] “No name” replies: What is racist about that? To say “black” is racist?

Who wants you? You look like a monkey. Mikhal

It’s really disgusting that Israel is going to see black!!! music. Disgusting. Contaminates your soul. Ayela

Don’t come we don’t need your ugly fat ass here. Dude

Blacks and Muslims always go together. Brainless fraternity of people. Shai

[Responding to other commenters denying that any occupation exists]: Right, what chutzpah of us to survive in the jungle around us, as if she can’t understand the jungle. M

They [Americans] killed thousands of innocent people in Iraq but they come to complain here. moshe
What Israeli fans does she have here? Leftist garbage maniacs [bastards] need to be killed whoever comes to her show. victor
bruriera hess: What Palestinian people? What peaceful people? Maybe terrorism? Maybe right of return on your expense?
Don’t give us favors. IF she’s contemplating coming Israel should cancel the show. Dontgiveusfavors
Anee: I returned the ticket. And you?
Maybe they will let her perform in Gaza. Raymond
pessey: Go to Gaza, perform and fuck for the Hamas. May your name be cursed.
Go find whoever is going to shag you you fucking whore. Every piece of garbage open their cunt on us. muslimit
[Responding to other commenters denying that any occupation exists]. Right, what chutzpah of us to survive in the jungle around us, as if she can’t understand the jungle. M
Many say cancel, cancel, we don’t want you here.
When you’re being spit at at least you have to get a kleenex to clean it up. hamitnaseh
Ronen: thank you new israel fund you did your job well
Fuck you who wants you here anyway? Sharon
Quote by Ben Gurion. “It doesn’t matter what the goyim will say it matters what the Jews will do.” LT
Another “afro american.” Nice name that the niggers made for themselves. Max
THe ugly niggers are joining the Darfurians entering here. All of you go away. wedontwantyou
She is boycotting only Israel because she’s anti-Semitic. Gives long list of countries including the US and UK she should boycott.
Many say Lieberman should cancel the concert.
Many say yalla, yalla, go look for someone to fuck you
Many say she should perform in Gaza
David from Safed: She should take all her brothers the Sudanese and Eritreans and fuck off here.
Many suggestions to take her to the Holocaust Museum.
Who wants you? You look like a monkey. Mikhal
It’s really disgusting that Israel is going to see black!!! music. Disgusting. Contaminates your soul. Ayela
Black music is inferior music that fits you. No name Someone calls him a racist. No name replies: What is racist about that? To say “black” is racist?
Don’t come we don’t need your ugly fat ass here. Dude
Blacks and Muslims always go together. Brainless fraternity of people. Shai
IsraeliJewishFighter: Sweetheart, don’t come here. We don’t want you. Who do you think you are talking about us?
Hineh: Those who are “disgusting” towards the Balestinians [mocking the Arabic pronounciation of Palestinian] are the Balestinians themselves.
Many are angry with Ynet for posting on this and allowing talkbacks. NA: The problem with the Jews and that we’re stupid, sensitive and attendant to what every idiot around the world is saying. Why is it so important for Ynet to report on this? So a few miserable goyim are not coming. Oy yoy yoy! What are we going to do?
Please don’t cancel. What are we going to do without your show? My Asshole

They [Americans] killed thousands of innocent people in Iraq but they come to complain here. moshe

What Israeli fans does she have here? Leftist garbage maniacs [bastards] need to be killed whoever comes to her show. victor

What Palestinian people? What peaceful people? Maybe terrorism? Maybe right of return on your expense? Bruriera Hess

Don’t give us favors. IF she’s contemplating coming Israel should cancel the show. Dontgiveusfavors

I returned the ticket. And you? Anee

Maybe they will let her perform in Gaza. Raymond

Go to Gaza, perform and fuck for the Hamas. May your name be cursed. pessey

When you’re being spit at at least you have to get a kleenex to clean it up. hamitnaseh

Fuck you who wants you here anyway? Sharon

[Quote by David Ben Gurion]: “It doesn’t matter what the goyim will say it matters what the Jews will do.” LT

Sweetheart, don’t come here. We don’t want you. Who do you think you are talking about us? IsraeliJewishFighter

Those who are “disgusting” towards the Balestinians [mocking the Arabic pronounciation of Palestinian] are the Balestinians themselves. Hineh

Please don’t cancel. What are we going to do without your show? My Asshole