Category Archives: Links

Martyrs behind bars

EIPR releases a report on prison abuse in Egypt during the revolution, ‘Martyrs behind bars’:

You can read the report here. An English translation should be up soon. And here is an ONTV programme based on the report:

It features an interview with the sister of General Mohamed al-Batran, Chief of the Prison Authority’s Intelligence Unit, who was killed by prison guards inside al-Qatta prison on the 29th January.

There used to be a huge picture of al-Batran hanging up in the Tahrir Square sit-in. I first heard about the al-Batran story from a friend of mine, MS, who lives in Fayoum. We were walking past the poster one day and he told me that it was a general from his town and that he was a decent man who had been killed for trying to treat prisoners like human beings. I asked what happened and he told me the story of how al-Batran went to al-Qatta to talk to the prisoners and to try to calm unrest and that he was shot by other prison guards.

There is a large prison in Fayoum, innovatively named al-Fayoum prison, and MS also told me that during the revolution he used to see prisoners occasionally walking through the streets of the town, wrapped in blankets, lost and disoriented. Once, he said, he went up and talked to one of them. The prisoner told him that there was no security and he had escaped. He said he was from Fayoum but he had been in prison so long that he didn’t recognise the streets any more. He asked MS to tell him the way to the main street. Then he walked away, his blanket trailing along the floor behind him.

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War games in Yemen

Speaking of people who know what is up – Jeremy Scahill on the history of US involvement in Yemen:

‘There is no doubt that when President Obama took office, Al Qaeda had resurrected its shop in Yemen. But how big a threat AQAP actually posed to the United States or Saleh is the subject of much debate. What was almost entirely undiscussed was whether US actions—the targeted killings, the Tomahawk and drone strikes—caused blowback and whether some of AQAP’s attacks were motivated by the undeclared war the United States was fighting in Yemen. “We are not generating good will in these operations,” says Nakhleh. “We might target radicals and potential radicals, but unfortunately in a crisis other things and other people are being destroyed or killed. So in the long run it is not necessarily going to help. To me the bigger issue is the whole issue of radicalization. How do we pull the rug from under it?”

It was the Bush administration that declared the world a battlefield where any country would be fair game for targeted killings. But it was President Obama, with Yemen as the laboratory, who put a bipartisan stamp on this paradigm—which will almost certainly endure well beyond his time in office. “The global war on terror has acquired a life of its own,” says Colonel Lang. “It’s a self-licking ice cream cone. And the fact that this counterterrorism/counterinsurgency industry evolved into this kind of thing, involving all these people—the foundations and the journalists and the book writers and the generals and the guys doing the shooting—all of that together has a great, tremendous amount of inertia that tends to keep it going in the same direction.” He adds, “It continues to roll. It will take a conscious decision on the part of civilian policy-makers, somebody like the president, for example, to decide that, ‘OK, boys, the show’s over.’” But Obama, he says, is far from deciding the show’s over. “It seems that this is going to go on for a long time.”’

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Zahi’s back

Hawass all up in your grillz. I expect great things from his new ministerial position:

‘Once I found myself inside the museum, I rushed ahead, with journalists and correspondents behind me, checking the halls and display cases to reassure myself that Egypt’s priceless artifacts and treasures were all present.

It was at this moment that Egyptian Museum Director Tarek al-Awadi appeared to inform me that the office of the [then] President [Hosni Mubarak] was on the phone. I answered the phone and was told that I must immediately report to the presidential headquarters in order to take the constitutional oath of office as Egypt’s first ever Minister of Antiquities …

Although I was convinced that it would be a mistake to accept this post during such a difficult time in Egyptian history, I had no other choice but to accept, because this represented a national duty …’

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Saudi Arabia on meddling in Bahrain

Via FLC, the top nizaam I’d like to see isqaat pronounces on irresponsible foreign intervention in Bahrain, of course totally different from its own jaunt across the King Fahd Causeway:

‘An official source of the Saudi government said, “It condemned in strong terms the irresponsible statement issued in the name of the Committee for National Security and Foreign Policy of the Council of Iranian Islamic Shoura which described the Saudi policy in the Gulf region as playing with fire and demanded the Kingdom to withdraw its forces from Bahrain, … The statement (of the Iranian committee) ignores the premeditated interference in the internal matters of the countries in the region violating the sovereignty and independence of those countries. It also attempts to stoke sedition and incite trouble with hostile policies contravening international laws and norms and principles of good neighborliness….  Iran has no right to violate the sovereignty of the kingdom of Bahrain or poke its nose into Bahrain’s or any other country’s affairs, or to attempt to deny Bahrain’s legitimate right to seek the help of the forces of the Peninsula Shield Force….’

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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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