Monthly Archives: March 2011

Palestine is not immune

From The Economist:

‘Since 2007 the Palestinian territories have been divided between Hamas in Gaza and Fatah, the Palestinians’ oldest nationalist movement, headed by Mahmoud Abbas, in the West Bank. Too busy vying with each other to confront Israel, which occupies most of their land, they have sought to consolidate their holds on their respective domains by scrapping parliament and ruling by decree.

Not everyone has taken kindly to this new authoritarian yoke. Inspired by protests against other despots, Palestinians in both territories have been crying for “revolution until we end the division”. In Gaza and the West Bank protesters champ for an interim government of the young, aligned to no party, to be followed by elections in both bits of Palestine.

Under the watchful eye of his Western patrons, Mr Abbas’s security forces have generally stopped beating up protesters and have let them erect tents in the West Bank’s main towns. Hamas has shown less tolerance, fearful lest a turnout of thousands, including many women and a few rappers, posed a secular challenge. “Hamas is worse than Mubarak, because it governs in the name of God, not the people,” says Ayman Shaheen, a professor at Azhar University, Gaza’s last remaining college outside the movement’s control.’

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Mubarakstan

From CiF:

‘More than two months after the start of the popular uprising that overthrew President Hosni Mubarak, Egyptians are increasingly fearful that although he is gone, his regime is still alive and kicking.

Egyptians now realise that Mubarakstan, the virtual edifice created by Mubarak and his coterie to ensure the continued dominance of a closed circle of politicians and businessmen, hasn’t collapsed along with the fall of its head and protector.

It is also distressingly evident that Mubarak was nothing more than the visible tip of an iceberg of corruption, for Mubarakstan is in fact a full-fledged state – a colonial power in every sense of the word, a state with its own colonial discourse, its propaganda machine and its brutal militia. It even has its own capital in the city of Sharm el-Sheikh, where the ruling elite eat their imported dinners and lounge on sumptuous sandy beaches.’

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All Mubarak’s men

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Tahrir documents

A very cool project collecting documents from the Egyptian uprising (with English translations.) Translation practice has never been this revolutionary…

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Soft focus on Syria

Via FLC:

‘Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the U.S. won’t enter into the internal conflict in Syria the way it has in Libya.“No,” Clinton said, when asked on the CBS “Face the Nation” program if the U.S. would intervene in Syria’s unrest…Clinton said the elements that led to international intervention in Libya — international condemnation, an Arab League call for action, a United Nations Security Council Resolution — are “not going to happen” with Syria, in part because members of the U.S. Congress from both parties say they believe Assad is “a reformer.”…
“Each of these situations is unique,” Clinton said, referring to the Middle Eastern countries dealing with change and unrest, a list that now includes Yemen, Jordan, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, Syria and Bahrain…”‘

Uh, yeah. He’s a reformer if you’re referring to the neo-liberal economic reforms that the West is so fond of. In every other category, say, political prisoners, for example, Assad is very far from being a reformer. The ICG report I linked to previously says he needs to reform quickly to survive; yet I find myself agreeing with those who see the Syrian regime as incapable of dealing with this in anything other than a bloody and destructive way. I’m certainly not advocating a NATO bombing of Latakia but the brutality and rigidity of the Assad regime needs to be acknowledged. Furthermore, as Issandr al-Amrani points out, there seems to be a Western confusion over whether Syria is a reforming state with a young, happenin’ president, or a distinctly recalcitrant strand in the regional geopolitical knot, especially in relation to Lebanon, Israel, and Iran. And, of course, the media are breathlessly asking what is going to happen to Israel without apparently wondering what is going to happen to the Syrians.

I bet Vogue are regretting this now:

‘On Friday, the Muslim day of rest, Asma al-Assad opens the door herself in jeans and old suede stiletto boots, hair in a ponytail, the word happiness spelled out across the back of her T-shirt. At the bottom of the stairs stands the off-duty president in jeans—tall, long-necked, blue-eyed. A precise man who takes photographs and talks lovingly about his first computer, he says he was attracted to studying eye surgery “because it’s very precise, it’s almost never an emergency, and there is very little blood.”’

Especially that last sentence, right? Yeah. See how that plays in Deraa.

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Assad has significant political capital

From an ICG report on Syria:

‘A window of opportunity still exists to change these dynamics, although it is fast closing. Unlike most of his peers in the region, President Bashar Assad has accumulated significant political capital, and many Syrians are willing, for now, to give him the benefit of the doubt. In fact, a broad range of citizens – including members of the security apparatus – are desperately waiting for him to take the lead and to propose, before it is too late, an alternative to spiraling confrontation. Although he has held numerous consultations and sent some signals of impending reform through the foreign media and other officials, he has yet to assume clear and palpable leadership.’

Meanwhile, AJE gained access to Deraa:

and this is becoming familiar (from Deraa):

 

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Ana ikhwan

wa b’ilbis sporting.

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