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Een democratische omwenteling in de Arabische Wereld? Deel 8– 8 ثورة ديمقراطية في العالم العربي؟ جزء

Posted in Uncategorized by Floris Schreve on 22 februari 2011

nieuws en artikelenoverzicht van de actuele gebeurtenissen in de Arabische wereld deel 8 (zie ook deel 1, deel 2, deel 3, deel 4, deel 5, deel 6 en deel 7)



Voor de nieuwste ontwikkelingen, bekijk hieronder: 

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Uit Nafas art Magazine (http://universes-in-universe.org/eng/nafas/articles/2010/why_not/images/09_ahmed_basiony):


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Nafas Art Magazine Institute for Foreign Cultural Relations


Nafas / Why Not? / Images 9 of 24

Ahmed Basiony

Ahmed Basiony
Ahmed Basiony

  Symmetric system (30 days of running in the place). 2010
Video, performance© Photo: Courtesy of Exhibition Organizers
  Ahmed Basiony
* 1978 Cairo, Egypt.
Killed during a demonstration on Tahrir Square, 28 January 2011.

Ahmed Basiony

  * 1978 Cairo, Egypt.
Killed during a demonstration on Tahrir Square, 28 January 2011.Photos and information in UiU and Nafas:Why Not?Contemporary Art from Egypt. Exhibition at Palace of Arts, Cairo. Photos and curatorial statement.
By Mohammed Talaat
February 2010 
  Ahmed Basiony

See also:Egypt – Nafas Art Magazine
Articles in the country archive of the online magazine.Egypt: Art
The visual arts in Universes in Universe.Egypt: Curators
Curatorial projects and texts featured in UiU

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Fresh violence rages in Libya


Protesters say security forces using warplanes and live fire ‘massacred’ them, as UN warns of possible ‘war crimes’.

Last Modified: 22 Feb 2011 12:13 GMT
Libyan forces loyal to Muammar Gaddafi are waging a bloody operation to keep him in power, with residents reporting gunfire in parts of the capital Tripoli and other cities, while other citizens, including the country’s former ambassador to India, are saying that warplanes were used to “bomb” protesters.Nearly 300 people are reported to have been killed in continuing violence in the capital and across the north African country as demonstrations enter their second week.Navi Pillay, the UN high commissioner for human rights, has warned that the widespread attacks against civilians “amount to crimes against humanity”, and called for an international investigation in possible human rights violations.


Witnesses in Tripoli told Al Jazeera that fighter jets had bombed portions of the city in fresh attacks on Monday night. The bombing focused on ammunition depots and control centres around the capital.

Helicopter gunships were also used, they said, to fire on the streets in order to scare demonstrators away.

Several witnesses said that “mercenaries” were firing on civilians in the city, while pro-Gaddafi forces warned people not to leave their homes via loudspeakers mounted on cars.

Residents of the Tajura neighbourhood, east of Tripoli, said that dead bodies are still lying on the streets from earlier violence. At least 61 people were killed in the capital on Monday, witnesses told Al Jazeeera.

‘Indiscriminate bombing’

Protests in the oil-rich African country, which Gaddafi has ruled for 41 years, began on February 14, but picked up momentum after a brutal government crackdown following a “Day of Rage” on February 17. Demonstrators say they have now taken control of several important towns, including the city of Benghazi, which saw days of bloody clashes between protesters and government forces.

There has been a heavy government crackdown on protests, however, and demonstrators at a huge anti-government march in the capital on Monday afternoon said they came under attack from fighter jets and security forces using live ammunition.

“What we are witnessing today is unimaginable. Warplanes and helicopters are indiscriminately bombing one area after another. There are many, many dead,” Adel Mohamed Saleh said in a live broadcast.

“Anyone who moves, even if they are in their car, they will hit you.”

Ali al-Essawi, who resigned as Libyan ambassador to India, also told Al Jazeera on Tuesday that fighter jets had been used by the government to bomb civilians.

He said live fire was being used against protesters, and that foreigners had been hired to fight on behalf of the government. The former ambassador called the violence “a massacre”, and called on the UN to block Libyan airspace in order to “protect the people”.


The country’s state broadcaster quoted Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, the son of the Libyan leader, and widely seen as his political heir, as saying that armed forces had “bombarded arms depots situated far from populated areas”. He denied that air strikes had taken place in Tripoli and Benghazi.

The government says that it is battling “dens of terrorists”.

Earlier, Ibrahim Dabbashi, Libya’s deputy ambassador to the United Nations, said Gaddafi had started a “genocide against the Libyan people”.

During Monday’s protests, gunfire was heard across the capital, with protesters seen attacking police stations and government buildings, including the offices of the state broadcaster.

Witnesses told the AFP news agency that there had been a “massacre” in Tajura district, with gunmen seen firing “indiscriminately”.

In Fashlum district, helicopters were seen landing with what witnesses described as “mercenaries” disembarking and attacking those on the street.

Mohammed Abdul-Malek, a London-based opposition activist who has been in touch with residents, said that snipers have taken positions on roofs in an apparent bid to stop people joining the protests.

Several witnesses who spoke to the Associated Press news agency said that pro-Gaddafi gunmen were firing from moving cars at both people and buildings.

State television on Tuesday dismissed allegations that security forces were killing protesters as “lies and rumours”.

Benghazi situation dire

Benghazi, Libya’s second city, which had been the focal point of violence in recent days, has now been taken over by anti-government protesters, after military units deserted their posts and joined the demonstrators.

Doctors there, however, say that they are running short of medical supplies.

Dr Ahmed, at the city’s main hospital, told Al Jazeera that they were running short of medical supplies, medication and blood.

He said that the violence in Benghazi had left “bodies that are divided in three, four parts. Only legs, and only hands,”.

While no casualties had been reported in the city on Tuesday, he estimated the number of people killed in Benghazi alone over the last five days to be near 300.

He also said that when military forces who had defected from Gaddafi’s government entered an army base, they found evidence of soldiers having been executed, reportedly for refusing to fire on civilians.

The runway at the city’s airport has been destroyed, according to the Egyptian foreign minister, and planes can therefore not land there.

Possible ‘crimes against humanity’

According to the Paris-based International Federation for Human Rights (IFHR), protesters are also in control of Sirte, Tobruk in the east, as well as Misrata, Khoms, Tarhounah, Zenten, Al-Zawiya and Zouara.

On Sunday, the US-based rights group Human Rights Watch said that at least 233 people were killed in the violence. Added to that are at least 61 people who died on Monday, which brings the toll since violence began on February 17 to at least 294.

Pillay, the UN’s human rights chief, called on Tuesday for an international investigation into the violence in the country, saying that it was possible that “crimes against humanity” had been perpetrated by the Libyan government.

In a statement, Pillay called for an immediate halt to human rights violations, and denounced the use of machine guns, snipers and military warplanes against civilians.


Meanwhile, Royal Dutch Shell, a major oil company, said on Tuesday that all of its expatriate employees and their depenedents living in Libya have now been relocated.

Emirates airlines and British Airways suspended all flights to Tripoli on Tuesday, citing the violence in the country, even as Italy, France, Turkey, Greece and several other countries were preparing to send aircraft to evacuate their nationals from the country.

Two Turkish ships that were sent to evacuate citizens were not allowed to dock at Tripoli, and one of them then sailed to Benghazi in an attempt to dock there, Anita McNaught, Al Jazeera’s correspondent in Istanbul, reported.  

Credit ratings agency Standard & Poor’s became the second agency in as many days to downgrade Libya on Tuesday, as it cut the country’s rating from A- to BBB+.

Al Jazeera and agencies




Social networks, social revolution


Youtube, Facebook and Twitter have become the new weapons of mass mobilisation.

Empire Last Modified: 16 Feb 2011 15:56 GMT
Information is power, but 21st century technology has unleashed an information revolution, and now the genie is out of the bottle.

In Depth
  ‘Information Wars’ on Al Jazeera
  Filming Empire at Columbia’s Journalism school

Youtube, Facebook and Twitter have become the new weapons of mass mobilisation; geeks have taken on dictators; bloggers are dissidents; and social networks have become rallying forces for social justice.

As people around the world challenge authorities, from Iran to Tunisia, Egypt to Yemen, entire societies are being transformed as ordinary citizens see the difference, imagine the alternative, and come together to organise for a better future.

So, are social networks triggering social revolution? And where will the next domino fall?

Empire finds out.

Joining Marwan Bishara to discuss these issues are: Carl Bernstein, a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist; Amy Goodman, the host and executive producer of Democracy Now!; Professor Emily Bell, the director of digital journalism at Columbia University; Evgeny Morozov, the author of The Net Delusion: The Dark Side of Internet Freedom; Professor Clay Shirky, the author of Cognitive Surplus: Creativity and Generosity in a Connected Age.

This episode of Empire can be seen from Thursday, February 17, at the following times GMT: Thursday: 0630, 2030; Friday: 1230; Saturday: 0130; Sunday: 0630, 2030.

Update van de NOS:

Onlusten Libië houden aan

Achtergronden en hoofdrolspelers »

Libië »

Bahrein »

Marokko »

Egypte »

Jemen »

Tunesië »

Algerije »

Jordanië »

Koeweit »

Video en audio »


// In Eindhoven staat er een vliegtuig klaar om zo’n 100 Nederlanders uit Libië te halen.

  • Vliegtuig Luchtmacht klaar voor vertrek naar LibiëIn Eindhoven staat er een vliegtuig klaar om zo’n 100 Nederlanders uit Libië te halen.
  • Situatie in Libië wordt steeds chaotischerHet verzet tegen het bewind van de Libische leider Kadhafi is overgeslagen naar de hoofdstad Tripoli. Zijn… (meer) minister van Justitie is afgetreden, Libische ambassadeurs leggen hun functie neer. Volgens onbevestigde berichten zouden nu zelfs bombardementen worden ingezet om het verzet te breken. Het is moeilijk om een heel precies beeld te krijgen van wat zich afspeelt in Libië. Voor buitenlandse journalisten is het zo goed als onmogelijk het land binnen te komen. Wat we weten, horen we vooral van ooggetuigen. Voor beelden zijn we afhankelijk van wat Libiërs via het internet naar buiten kunnen brengen.
  • Nicole le Fever over situatie in LibiëNicole le Fever volgt de ontwikkelingen in Libië vanuit Amman. Een gesprek met haar.
  • Verhalen van ooggetuigen uit LibiëWat er zich dus precies afspeelt in Libië is erg onduidelijk. Er zijn nauwelijks journalisten in het land,… (meer) ze mogen er niet in, en telefoons doen het niet of nauwelijks. Een paar inwoners konden vandaag toch met buitenlandse media spreken.
  • Muamar Kadhafi, al 42 jaar aan de macht in LibiëEr is geen machthebber in de Arabische wereld die-het langer uithield dan Kadhafi. Hij is al 42 jaar aan de… (meer) macht.
  • Het Marokkaanse volk wil … ?Vandaag werd in de Marokkaanse hoofdstad Rabat geprotesteerd tegen de regering. Maar verslaggever Gerri… (meer) Eickhof hoorde er vooral een kakafonie aan eisen.


    Breaking the sound barrier on Libya


    Through a combination of new technology and courage, Libyans make sure the world knows about their protests.

    Yasmine Ryan Last Modified: 21 Feb 2011 18:05 GMT
    Getting information out of Libya has been difficult, but human rights groups are doing their best to follow developments 

    Security forces may well have massacred protesters with characteristic brutality in Tripoli, the Libyan capital.

    Libyan authorities went to extreme lengths to stop news of the killings from getting out. Helicopters rained bullets down on people in the streets below on Monday afternoon, fighter jets launched strikes on protesters, while snipers reportedly fired from building tops, human rights groups said.

    Yet, with help from satellite phones and Twitter, the news made its way out of the country as killings were underway.

    Ahmed Elgazir, a human rights researcher with the Libyan News Centre (LNC) in Geneva, told Al Jazeera that he had received a call for help from a woman witnessing the massacre in progress on a satellite phone.

    The phone lines in to the country have been blocked, making it impossible to verify the information. Libyans on Twitter, however, sent desperate pleas for assistance.

    The killings in Tripoli came the day after a televised speech by Saif Gaddafi, a son of the Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, warning of civil war if protests continue.”Libya is at a crossroads. If we do not agree today on reforms … rivers of blood will run through Libya,” he said.

    Elgazir condemned Saif Gaddafi’s speech a “ploy by the regime” to incite violence. The streets of Tripoli had been calm until the speech on Sunday night, the researcher said.

    “We hold him responsible for all the deaths that have happened in Tripoli since,” he said, adding that violence in cities including Benghazi, Baida and Zawia has only served to turn local security forces against the regime.

    Al Jazeera was also suffering interference on the Arabsat satellite frequency, which Libyans were previously able to turn to as a main source of information on the protests. The news network traced the source of the jamming to a Libyan intelligence building south of the capital.

    Heather Morayef, a Libya researcher for Human Rights Watch (HRW), agreed that the difficulty in communicating with people on the ground was making it hard to monitor the situation.

    Based on information from local hospitals, HRW has estimated that security forces carried out at least 233 unlawful killings in the town of Benghazi. It has been difficult to estimate the number killings in Tripoli on Sunday night and Monday.

    Despite recent killings, human rights groups are hopeful. “It has been fantastic, not just the fact that the world is finally interested in Libya, but also the courage of Libyans to actually take personal risks,” Morayef said.

    “In 1996, Gaddafi’s regime killed 1,200 prisoners on one day because the world didn’t know about it,” she explained in a phone interview.

    As recently as 2006, when security forces killed approximately 20 demonstrators outside the Italian embassy in Tripoli, the regime was able to keep the deaths under wraps.

    Five years later, Gaddafi’s government no longer enjoys the same impunity, rights groups said. New technology has empowered Libyans and they appear to have taken courage from successful uprisings in neighbouring Tunisia and Egypt.

    There has also been a new found willingness to speak to the media, despite the high risk of repercussion.

    On Monday, for instance, the house of Jumaa al-Asti, a senior official with the general union of trade and industry, was surrounded by security forces.

    Al-Asti appears to have drawn negative attention from security forces after he criticised Gaddafi’s regime in an interview with Al Jazeera.

    Bacre Ndiaye, director of the Human Rights Council at the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, a United Nations organisation, told Al Jazeera that his office is facing difficulties accessing information about the situation on the ground in Libya.

    “There is obstruction to international communication, the use of the internet,” he said. “We’ve never had an office there, and we have very little source of independent information.”

    Ndiaye said the number of people killed is likely to be much higher than initial estimates.

    Yet he noted that, despite the violence, Libyans have not backed down in their demands for fundamental political change.
    “What we have seen all over [the region], is wall of fear has crumbled, people are no longer fearing to ask for their rights,” Ndiaye said.

    Al Jazeera


    Letter from Cairo

    On the Square

    Were the Egyptian protesters right to trust the military?

    by Wendell Steavenson February 28, 2011


    Cairo’s Tahrir Square on the night of February 11th, following the announcement that Hosni Mubarak was leaving office. Protesters hugged soldiers, who climbed out of their tanks to join the party. Photograph by Benedicte Kurzen.

    Read more http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2011/02/28/110228fa_fact_steavenson#ixzz1EhsiHQ8M



    Defiant Gaddafi vows to fight on


    In televised speech, Libyan leader blames youths inspired by region’s revolutions for unrest and vows to die a “martyr”.

    Last Modified: 22 Feb 2011 16:53 GMT
    Muammar Gaddafi, the Libyan leader, has vowed to fight on and die a “martyr”, calling on his supporters to take back the streets from protesters demanding his ouster, shouting and pounding his fist in a furious speech on state TV.Gaddafi, clad in brown robes and turban, spoke on Tuesday from a podium set up in the entrance of a bombed-out building that appeared to be his Tripoli residence hit by US air raids in the 1980s and left unrepaired as a monument of defiance.”I am a fighter, a revolutionary from tents … I will die as a martyr at the end,” he said.”I have not yet ordered the use of force, not yet ordered one bullet to be fired … when I do, everything will burn.”He called on supporters to take to the streets to attack protesters. “You men and women who love Gaddafi …get out of your homes and fill the streets,” he said. “Leave your homes and attack them in their lairs … Starting tomorrow the cordons will be lifted, go out and fight them.””From tonight to tomorrow, all the young men should form local committees for popular security,” he said, telling them to wear a green armband to identify themselves. “The Libyan people and the popular revolution will control Libya.”The speech, which appeared to have been taped earlier, was aired on a screen to hundreds of supporters massed in Tripoli’s central Green Square.Shouting in the rambling speech, Gaddafi declared himself “a warrior” and proclaimed: “Libya wants glory, Libya wants to be at the pinnacle, at the pinnacle of the world”.At times the camera panned out to show a towering gold-coloured monument in front of the building, showing a fist crushing a fighter jet with an American flag on it – a view that also gave the strange image of Gaddafi speaking alone from behind a podium in the building’s dilapidated lobby, with no audience in front of him. 




    The project for a new Arab century


    The birth pangs of a new Middle East are being felt, but not in the way many outsiders envisioned.

    Mohammed Khan Last Modified: 22 Feb 2011 15:17 GMT
    One constituency the US has long ignored in the Arab world is the people [GALLO/GETTY] 

    No sooner did former US president George W. Bush come into power in January 2001 than a much vaunted neo-conservative doctrine came into full swing, wreaking havoc across the Middle East. Throughout the eight years of the Bush presidency, the levers of power – the political, the economic, the scholarly and, importantly, the military – were all employed towards one ultimate goal: The project for the new American century.

    Bush’s neo-con backers had prepared the manual for his presidency well before time. With their man in power, the greatest force of Western power since the Roman Empire set about changing the world in the name of neo-conservatism, to “promote American global leadership”, we were told.

    At the receiving end of the mighty American military-industrial complex were the people of the Arab world. The basic premise was to utilise maximum US force, power and influence to create a new Middle East, one obedient to the interests and objectives of the US. The central focus was the preservation of the superiority of Israel and the utilisation of American hard-power to eliminate any threats posed to it. The benign undercurrent, we were told, was the need to spread democracy across the region. After all, democracies do not fight wars against one other.

    The scorecard of the Bush doctrine is there for all to see: “Shock and awe” was unleashed against Iraq in the pursuit of this project; the Palestinians in Gaza were collectively imprisoned for having the audacity to vote for Hamas; Lebanon was brutalised by Israel with the tacit backing of the US in an effort to destroy Hezbollah; Iran became the new public enemy number one (after Iraq had been dealt with of course); the Gulf states went along quietly arming themselves in the name of stability and North African dictators were given free rein to fight “Islamism” – also in the name of stability.

    With American hyper-power on full display over this period, there was little doubting the contention that in the realm of international relations, “the end of history” was indeed being reached in the absence of any challenger to the formidable US military might. “Liberty” to Arabs, it seemed, was being brought on the back of American battle tanks. The destruction wrought on the region over this period was apparently “the birth pangs” of a new Middle East.

    It’s the people, stupid

    How times change. The human and capital cost, however, of the Iraq adventure almost bled the US economy dry. The invasion became so bogged down that the political will to continue the war soon weakened. The thought of expanding the military adventure to other lands similarly evaporated. Post-Bush, the Americans were now left grappling with “soft-power”, to persuade, to diplomatically engage with Arab/Iranian leaderships in order to resolve disputes. In the midst of this power play in the region, one constituency which the US had long ignored (and continues to ignore) is the people.

    Toppling disobedient leaders and oiling the wheels of pliant ones proved useful so long as the populations of these countries remained voiceless. As the people begin to find their voices, however, the Middle East as we have long known it is beginning to alter. Unfortunately for the decision-makers in the US (and their policy advisers and legions of “intellectual” think tanks) the dramatic changes are not in the direction that they had conceived.

    The catalyst for the political earthquake that we are currently witnessing was a massive popular uprising in Tunisia at the end of 2010. Emboldened by the overthrow of the brutal regime of Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, the people of Egypt then took to the streets demanding reform. In just 18 days, Egyptian civil society, which we had been told by regional “experts” either did not exist or was spineless, broke the shackles of oppression and overcame a dictator whose regime had become synonymous with abuse and corruption. Egypt had finally been released from 30 years of political imprisonment.

    That Hosni Mubarak continued to breed fear about the “chaos” that his removal would unleash and his foreign backers continued to maintain the need for “stability” and “orderly” change, showed the total lack of understanding on their part of the momentous changes that were being played out. The revolutionary bug has now spread across the wider region with people in Algeria, Yemen, Bahrain and Libya currently battling despotism, while leaderships in Jordan, Syria and Morocco (to name but a few) consider ways of preventing the tide of “people power” from sweeping their shores.

    ‘Islands of stability’

    Consider for a moment the extent to which various US administrations have suffered from an ailment which, for wont of a better description, we will call “foot in mouth syndrome”. The shah of Iran was an “island of stability” in the troubled Middle East, according to the then US president, Jimmy Carter. A short time after these illustrious words were spoken, Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi was dethroned; Iran had witnessed an Islamic revolution and US policy in the country was found lacking. Around the time that Iran’s new Islamic leadership swept to power, Egypt too was undergoing change, this time in the form of the presidency of Hosni Mubarak who came to power in 1981 following his predecessor’s assassination.

    However, after almost 30 years of stern one-man rule, Egyptian civil society revolted against Mubarak’s despotism, seeking his ouster in January 2011, precisely a decade after Bush’s first inauguration. What were the very first utterances of the US administration under Barack Obama, as protesters gathered on Egypt’s streets? “Our assessment is that the Egyptian government is stable …” said Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state. Her assessment, reminiscent of the meanderings about Iran, could not have been more wrong.

    The islands of stability that the US has traditionally favoured are not the same sort that the people of the Arab world have desired. While Iraq under Saddam Hussein was ripe for invasion and “democratic change”, the hunger for reform on the part of populations in other parts of the region also subjected to Saddam-like repression was not felt by the US. Where the American military brought democracy to Iraq, the Arab people are now battling to bring democracy to themselves. Should we then be surprised that the neo-con intellectual machine that planned change in the Middle East under Bush is now largely silent? While their project has failed, a new Arab people’s project is beginning to blossom.

    If any clear evidence of US opposition to the people’s wishes in the region were needed, the Obama administration willingly obliged on February 18. The UN Security Council (UNSC) held a vote to condemn Israeli settlement building in the occupied West Bank as illegal and to demand an immediate end to all such activity. Settlement building is a particular sore among Palestinians and the wider Arab population. While 14 out of the 15 UNSC members backed the resolution, the US issued its first veto under Obama, damning the Palestinian Territories to further Israeli expansionism – well in keeping with the American spirit of defying global opinion. The PR spin on the veto will no doubt attempt to portray the US measure as some sort of noble endeavour. The nobleness was certainly in Israel’s favour.

    Moment in history
    When I was an undergraduate, the most fascinating, most closely scrutinised event that all students of the Middle East were exposed to was the 1979 Islamic revolution in Iran. That was a truly momentous event. The repercussions for the Middle East were staggering. Political Islam came to the fore as an academic discipline. The political power play in the region shifted with alliances quickly emerging against Iran for fear that its brand of revolutionary zeal would spread. That revolution continues to captivate.
    More than 30 years later, however, the new crop of undergraduates will be evaluating perhaps an even more momentous event: That of February 11, 2011, when Egypt, the Arab world’s most populous nation, one at the core of the region’s political, economic and security affairs, defeated its very own despotism, rid itself of fear and raised expectations of a new era of political relations in the Middle East. Incidentally, Mubarak was forced out precisely 32 years from the day when the shah of Iran was deposed.
    While the people of Tunisia wrote the introduction to what we can call the unfolding “project for the new Arab century”, the people of Egypt have just completed its defining first chapter. What conclusions can be drawn from these historic events is far too early to gauge. What is certain, however, is that many more chapters will be written before the political dust settles. Safe to say, nevertheless, that the birth pangs of a new Middle East are now definitely being felt, but not in ways that many outsiders imagined.







    Mohammed Khan is a political analyst based in the UAE.
    The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial policy.









    Volledige toespraak HIER

    Verslag toespraak Khadaffi (NOS,http://nos.nl/artikel/220656-live-protest-in-libie-22-februari.html ):

    16.51 uur: Kadhafi spreekt

    Kadhafi is zijn toespraak begonnen. Hij lijkt boos en geeft “agenten en lafaards” de schuld van de rellen van de afgelopen dagen. Volgens Kadhafi willen de Libiërs geen revolutie. Hij bekritiseert Arabische media. Volgens Kadhafi is Libië het leidende land in Afrika, Azië en Latijns-Amerika. “Alleen Muamar Kadhafi is de leider van de revolutie.”

    16.59 uur: ‘Ik zal het land niet verlaten’

    Kadhafi zal niet vrijwillig vertrekken, zei hij. “Ik zal in Libië sterven als een martelaar.” Hij hoort thuis in Libië, net als zijn voorvaderen. Naar eigen zeggen is Kadhafi een bedoeïenenstrijder die Libië de glorie heeft gebracht. In zijn toespraak noemt hij ook ‘de baarden’, kennelijk verwijzend naar het islamitische verzet in zijn land. Het protest in het oosten van het land zou islamitisch geïnspireerd zijn. Hij zucht.

    17.04 uur: Bombardementen uit 1986

    Kadhafi benadrukt dat hij praat uit het huis dat in 1986 is gebombardeerd door de Amerikanen. Hij vraagt aan zijn tegenstanders, vooral het islamitische verzet, waar zij waren toen hij het opnam tegen de VS en Groot-Brittannië.

    17.08 uur: Kadhafi raast maar door

    Kadhafi lijkt nog niet van stoppen te weten. Hij roemt zijn eigen verleden in allerlei oorlogen die hij heeft gestreden. Hij beschuldigt aan drugs verslaafde jongeren ervan dat zij activiteiten kopiëren uit Tunesië en Egypte.

    17.15 uur: ‘Ik zal doorvechten’

    Kadhafi: “Ik zal doorvechten voor het Libische volk tot mijn laatste druppel bloed.” Hij zei dat hij tot nu toe geen geweld heeft gebruikt, maar niet zal aarzelen om dat te doen als dat nodig is. Kadhafi kondigt aan dat er morgen nieuwe volkscomité worden ingesteld. Hij roept zijn aanhang op om morgen de straat op te gaan om hem te steunen. De betogers zijn in Kadhafi’s ogen “ratten, huurlingen en misdadigers” die het Libische volk niet vertegenwoordigen, maar erop uit zijn om Libië te veranderen in een “nieuw Afghanistan”.

    17.20 uur: Groen boek

    Hij pakt zijn groene boek erbij en begint wetten en straffen voor te lezen, zo lijkt het. Hij zegt dat opposanten zonder mededogen worden geëxecuteerd. Het kan nog wel even gaan duren zo. Toespraak uiteraard ook te volgen op Journaal24.

    17.26 uur: Jeltsin, Tiananmenplein

    Hij gaat maar door. Noemt opstanden in Rusland en China. De Libische staatstelevisie laat in een splitscreen de aanhang van Kadhafi zien die op een plein staat te zwaaien met portretten en vlaggen. Hij spreekt ook uitgebreid over Irak.

    17.35 uur: Hij gaat maar door

    Hij leest nu voor van een papier. Hij is inmiddels veertig minuten aan het woord.

    17.39 uur: ‘Staat van ontkenning’

    Wael Ghonim, één van de initiatiefnemers van de opstand in Egypte twittert:

    “#Qaddafi is living in a denial just like the other dictators. Same shit different asshole.”

    17.44 uur: Lang

    We naderen het uur. Al-Jazeera heeft inmiddels een nieuwe tolk ingezet. Kadhafi spreekt uitgebreid over zijn verzet tegen Amerika in de jaren tachtig. Hij hemelt ook andere geweldige prestaties uit het verleden op.

    17.51 uur: Uur

    Kadhafi is nu een uur aan het woord. Eigenlijk is het niet duidelijk of het live is of is opgenomen. Hij neemt een slokje water, kennelijk om de stembanden nog eens te smeren.

    17.56 uur: Spreekt betogers weer toe

    Kadhafi vraagt zich af wat de betogers toch bezielt. Ze hebben toch alles? Welvaart, voorspoed. Waarom zouden ze het land te gronde richten. Noemde hij daar het woord ‘tenslotte’? Kennelijk ook nog een technisch foutje, waardoor hij iets moet herhalen. Hij zegt dat de jongeren, onder invloed van buitenlandse agenten, onmogelijk het land kunnen verwoesten. En willen de Libiërs dan dat het land wordt geleid door mannen met baarden? (zie hier de grote overeenkomst met Wilders, maar ook Afshin Ellian, Hans Jansen en alle Hasbarabloggers, FS)

    18.00 uur: Al-Jazeera houdt ermee op

    Al-Jazeera schakelt terug naar de presentator. Ook wij laten de toespraak nu ook maar even voor wat het is.

    18.07 uur: Eindelijk afgelopen

    Oh, nu toch afgelopen. Na ruim een uur is Kadhafi uitgesproken. Aan het eind steekt hij zijn vuist omhoog. Hij wordt omhelsd door enkele aanhangers. Daarna stapt hij in een auto en rijdt weg, omringd door juichende aanhangers.


    The King of King’s speech


    Al Jazeera’s senior policy analyst says Gaddafi’s threats were no different from those of any foreign occupier.

    Marwan Bishara Last Modified: 22 Feb 2011 19:25 GMT
    Gaddafi has ruled Libya for the past 42 years with an iron fist, but insists he has no official role [EPA] 

    Muammar Gaddafi is dangerously in denial. Alas, he’s been that way for a long time.
    Gaddafi has ruled Libya for the past 42 years with iron fist, but insists he has no official role and therefore couldn’t resign. Otherwise, he would have done that long ago!
    He thinks of himself as Zaim – a guru leader – or the king of kings of Africa as referred to himself repeatedly the last couple of years.
    How do you resign from greatness, he wondered! After recounting his heroism, sacrifice and courage over the last few decades.
    In reality, he wasted his country’s fortunes, misused its sources and violated its people. He misspent hundreds of billions of dollars in revenues from oil.
    He commands the state budget along with his family, and yet he insists he has no money, no fortune and no belonging to give away.
    Why would he need any of that when he de facto had claim on the whole country.
    One is speechless listening to him telling Libyans: Go ahead take back your oil.
    Like father like son
    Gaddafi senior, like Gaddafi junior before him on Monday, went on rambling endlessly in Tuesday’s televised address, with little coherence, many threats and more political blackmail.
    Speaking to both domestic audience and Western decision makers, he raised the spectre of civil war, bloodbath and the threat of al-Qaeda takeover in various parts of the country.
    He warned he would use all or any means to prevent the breakdown of Libya.
    Over the last few days, his regime has killed hundreds and reportedly using his air force to bomb Libyan cities, but insists he hasn’t ordered the use of force yet.
    But he did threaten to kill all those participating in the ongoing upheaval, in accordance with the Libyan law, as he put it.
    Worse, he threatened to burn the land, behaving as if his rule was a foreign occupation.
    For many years, Qaddafi, his family and tribe have maintained their rule through the maintenance and deformation of the very tribal order he’s been warning against.
    He’s used political blackmail and financial bribes and unveiled threats of force to stay at the helm of the regime.
    In the process, much of the country’s wealth was wasted. And so was any chance of development as his dictatorship suppressed pluralism, creativity and freedom of expression.
    Meanwhile, unemployment in this “rentier economy” has shot from one-fourth to one-third unemployment year after year.
    Gaddafi has turned a country rich in oil to a poor country in more than one way.
    Dangerous call to arms
    While Gaddafi admitted that the police has refused to confront or shoot at the demonstrations, he called on his loyal and violent “popular committees” to defend his “revolution”, either individually or by joining forces with members of their tribes.
    Certainly, the most deadly and dangerous force in the coming days will be those popular committees and their association with the private militias of Gaddafi’s regime, his sons, cousins and tribe.
    It seems that these  well-armed and well-financed militias have been carrying out the worst violence against the peaceful demonstrators. Possibly aided by mercenaries from various neighbouring countries.
    Unless the Libyan army puts an end to the violations and violence of the militias, the ongoing confrontation might continue to escalate.

    Alas, there is little information as to today’s relationship between the army and the militias, but one suspects it shouldn’t be a good one as the militias have been used primarily to keep the army in check.
    That’s why Arab and international decision makers must try and deter the escalation of violence by making it clear that those committing the crimes against the Libyan people will have no future in their country, but would eventually be punished for their crimes.
    And that the army has a responsibility to protect the people and the unity of the country.

    Al Jazeera




    From protest to revolution


    Anger at inequality isn’t confined to Tunisia or Egypt – where uprisings give a blueprint for other nations.

    Dan Hind Last Modified: 20 Feb 2011 17:36 GMT
    An Egyptian passes revolutionary graffiti in Cairo. But with members of Mubarak’s government remaining in the cabinet, what will the uprising mean for the country – and for oppressed masses across the world? [GALLO/GETTY]  

    The popular uprising in Egypt is still less than three weeks old. We still cannot know how it will end – whether the ruling party will make some concessions and cling on to power within a new government – or whether a united opposition will sweep away Mubarak’s apparatus. And we cannot tell what kind of regime will emerge.

    The revolutions that overthrew the Soviet system in Central and Eastern Europe did not always empower the dissidents who risked the most in the struggle for freedom. Former secret policemen and their allies in organised crime often proved more adept in the years that followed than the idealists they once tormented.

    But for all the uncertainty, Egypt has already shaken the region and the world. For those watching in Europe and the US, it has put an end to any lazy notion that the alternative to corrupt dictatorship in the Middle East is chaos or Islamic extremism. The worldly realists, with their regretful talk of the need for moderation, now stand exposed as power-worshipping fantasists. The Christians and Muslims crying “one hand, one hand”, as they call for an end to Mubarak’s tyranny have made a farce of decades of Western commentary and analysis.

    Standing as one

    The regime itself did all it could to encourage sectarian tension in the country, while its supporters in the West pretended it was a bulwark against religious violence. But, despite all the efforts to destroy civil society through torture and the organised suspicion of a police state, people have found each other.

    Millions are being transformed by the experience of a public life without fear. In the words of one of the protestors, Wael Gawdat: “At Tahrir Square you see different Egyptians from the ones you see on the subway or the bus. No fights and no discomfort from the crowded setting. In short, Egypt is more beautiful in Tahrir Square.”

    The decision of the Egyptian people to take responsibility for their future – their decision to become citizens – enlivens, even delights. This is a movement that isn’t being orchestrated by leaders in the way we have been led to expect. People are acting as though they are free and so becoming free.

    The Egyptians, like the Tunisians – like people all over the world – want a share in the vast wealth that their rulers and a handful of insiders have hoarded for themselves. They want dignity and a life they can call their own. For the moment they are not afraid and they are united. They are showing us the truth of David Hume’s remark that our rulers ‘have nothing to support them but opinion’. The Egyptian people no longer believed the Mubarak regime was as good as any other that might be established. They have seen for themselves that there can be stability without torture.

    Rejecting injustice

    They do not believe that the distribution of property is just and they do not accept the legitimacy of their government. They have changed their opinion of what is possible and right. Every day of freedom they enjoy is a message to the rest of us; things do not have to be as they are.

    So the Egyptians and the Tunisians have swept away the prejudices that have so long confused and corrupted the understanding of people in the West. More than that, they have also reminded Europeans and American what political action can achieve – and what it feels like to be free.

    We have long been entranced by the idea that shopping and voting once every four years for one wing or other of the pro-business party would be enough to give us the good life. Vast public relations campaigns fostered the sense that a better future could be had, if only we chose wisely from the list of approved candidates. All the while the rich have taken more and left the rest of us to struggle with insecurity, anxiety and mounting debts. The people in Cairo didn’t look to charismatic politicians or party machines to do the work for them. They moved faster than their leaders.

    You can do it, too

    In the West, there have been stirrings of dissent as the scale of the economic crisis becomes apparent and the reassurances of the mainstream media – that good times are just around the corner, come to sound ever more threadbare. Students, and young people in particular, have already shaken off the wishful passivity of the previous generation. But for the most part the outrage and sense of betrayal have expressed themselves in ways that pose no real threat to the governing establishment or the opulent minority who control it.

    The Tea Party in the United States and Conservatives in Britain promise change while working to ensure that everything that matters stays the same. The right in both countries has benefited from the failure of their centrist opponents to address the fundamental causes of recession, unemployment and social breakdown. It is as though the entire political establishment has adopted the stultifying uniformity of a one-party state. There is a bankruptcy of policy and of principle that will, perhaps, finally compel us to take matters into our own hands.

    In the presidential campaign of 2008, Barack Obama never tired of telling voters they were the change they had been looking for. The people of Tunisia and Egypt have turned a clever slogan into an undeniable fact. They did not wait for permission to take action. If we want another world we must all learn from them.

    Can we look beyond the stereotypes offered by our media, and see that the Egyptians and the Tunisians are now daring us to be free?

    Yes, we can.

    Dan Hind has worked in publishing since 1998 and is the author of two well-acclaimed books: The Return of the Public and The Threat to Reason. He is also a regular contributor to The Guardian.

    Follow him on Twitter: @danhind

    Hind’s ‘The Return of the Public’ was first published by Verso, the UK publishing house.   

    The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial policy.

    Al Jazeera



    Region in turmoil


    Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Bahrain: A roundup of the popular protests that have swept the region over the last two months.

    Last Modified: 22 Feb 2011

    Click on a country for more information. Click on a highlighted country above for Al Jazeera’s coverage of those protests.

    The world’s attention has been focused on a handful of countries – Tunisia, Egypt, Bahrain and Libya – since the first popular protests broke out in Tunisia in December. But nearly a dozen countries in the region have seen political unrest, and the protest movement shows no signs of stopping.

    Below is a summary of the demonstrations so far, and links to our coverage. You can also click a country on the map above for more information.


    Protesters in Tunisia ousted Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, their president for more than 23 years, after nearly a month of protests.

    The protests started when a street vendor, Mohamed Bouazizi, set himself on fire after his cart was confiscated by police. His anger – over unemployment, poverty and corruption – resonated in Tunisia, and led to weeks of street protests against Ben Ali’s autocratic government. Security forces cracked down brutally on many of the protests, with more than 200 people killed. But the rallies continued, and Ben Ali eventually fled the country for exile in Saudi Arabia.

    His departure on January 14 has not stopped the protest movement, though: Many Tunisians continue to demand the ouster of Mohamed Ghannouchi, the prime minister, and fellow members of the Constitutional Democratic Rally (Ben Ali’s party) who remain in power.


    After Ben Ali, Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak was the second Arab autocrat to resign, his nearly 30-year rule brought to an end by 18 days of protests.

    The revolt began on January 25, when tens of thousands of protesters marched against Mubarak’s government. A “day of rage” on January 28 drew even larger crowds in downtown Cairo, where they were attacked brutally by Egyptian security forces. They stood their ground, though, and the police eventually withdrew, ceding control of Tahrir Square to the protesters.

    That led to a two-week standoff between the protesters and the government, with the former occupying Tahrir Square and fending off a sustained assault from government-sponsored thugs. Mubarak was at first defiant, pledging reforms – he sacked his cabinet and appointed a vice president, longtime intelligence chief Omar Suleiman – but vowing to remain in office. In a televised address on February 10, he promised to finish his term.

    Behind the scenes, though, Mubarak had clearly lost the support of the military, and Suleiman announced his departure in a brief statement less than 24 hours later.

    Egyptians have continued to stage rallies, though, with hundreds of thousands demanding that the new military government pursue real democratic reforms.


    Longtime autocrat Muammar Gaddafi has reportedly lost control of eastern Libya, and his army, supported by foreign mercenaries, is waging a savage war against civilians.

    Small protests in January led to larger rallies in mid-February, mostly in the east – in Benghazi, Libya’s second city, and other towns like Al-Bayda. The protests continued to grow over the next few days, with thousands of people in the streets on February 17 and 18 – and dozens dead, many killed by snipers.

    Less than a week later, Benghazi was reportedly in the hands of the protesters, and demonstrations had spread to the capital Tripoli. Eyewitnesses reported Libyan military jets bombing civilians, and gangs of mercenaries roaming the streets, firing indiscriminately.

    Gaddafi’s 42-year rule, the longest in the Arab world, has been sustained by widespread political repression and human rights abuses. Protesters are also angry about his economic mismanagement: Libya has vast oil wealth – more than half of its GDP comes from oil – but that money has not filtered down. Unemployment is high, particularly among the country’s youth, which accounts for more than one-third of the population.


    The Algerian government has so far kept a lid on protests, most of which have been centered in the capital, Algiers.

    Demonstrators staged several scattered rallies in January, mostly over unemployment and inflation. They planned a major rally in the capital on February 12, when a crowd – estimates of its size vary between 2,000 and 10,000 – faced off with nearly 30,000 riot police who sealed off the city. Dozens of people were arrested, but the rally remained peaceful; demonstrators chanetd slogans like “Bouteflika out,” referring to president Abdelaziz Bouteflika, Algeria’s ruler for the last 12 years.

    A second rally, on February 19, attracted a smaller crowd – in the hundreds – which was again outnumbered by riot police. The government also suspended train service and set up roadblocks outside the capital. Several people were arrested.

    Bouteflika has tried to head off further protests by promising to lift the country’s decades-old emergency law.


    The first significant protests in Morocco broke out on February 20, when tens of thousands of people (37,000, according to the country’s interior minister) took to the streets. They were organised by a loose coalition of human rights groups, journalists and labor unions.

    Demonstrators demanded not the ouster of King Mohammed VI, but instead a series of more modest reforms. They want the king to give up some of his powers – right now, he can dismiss parliament and impose a state of emergency – and to dismiss his current cabinet. “The king should reign, not rule,” read one banner held by protesters.

    The rallies were peaceful, though acts of vandalism did happen afterwards: Dozens of banks were burned down, along with more than 50 other buildings. (The culprits are unknown.)

    Mohammed has promised “irreversible” political reforms, though he has yet to offer any specifics.


    Protests in Jordan started in mid-January, when thousands of demonstrators staged rallies in Amman and six other cities. Their grievances were mostly economic: Food prices continue to rise, as does the country’s double-digit inflation rate.

    Jordan’s King Abdullah tried to defuse the protests earlier this month by sacking his entire cabinet. The new prime minister, Marouf Bakhit, promised “real economic and political reforms.”

    But the firing – Abdullah’s perennial response to domestic unrest – did little to dampen the protests. Thousands of people took to the streets once again on February 18 to demand constitutional reforms and lower food prices. At least eight people were injured during that rally.


    Anti-government protests have continued for a week, and show no sign of stopping. The demonstrations began on February 14, when thousands converged on Pearl Roundabout to protest against the government; they were later dispersed by security forces who used deadly force.

    In the following days, funeral marches and other rallies also came under fire by police; they have since been withdrawn, and the army has allowed peaceful rallies to continue in the roundabout.

    Protesters started out calling for economic and political reform, but many demonstrators are now calling for the ouster of King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa.

    The protest movement largely draws from Bahrain’s Shia population, a majority group that often complains of oppression from the country’s Sunni rulers. They argue that the king’s economic policies favor the Sunni minority. Khalifa tried to defuse tensions by giving each Bahraini family a gift of 1,000 dinars (US $2,650), but the move won him little support.


    Rallies in Yemen have continued for nearly two weeks, with the bulk of the protesters concentrated in Sana’a, the capital; the southern city of Aden; and Taiz, in the east. Their grievances are numerous: As much as one-third of the country is unemployed, and the public blames government corruption for squandering billions in oil wealth.

    Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh conceded little during a news conference in the Yemeni capital on Monday. He promised reforms, but warned against what he called “coups and seizing power through anarchy and killing.” He also offered a dialogue with opposition parties, an offer that was quickly rejected.

    He has also likened the protests to a “virus” sweeping the country. His security forces have responded to the rallies with deadly force, particularly in Aden, where at least ten people have been killed.


    Thousands of people have rallied in the northern province of Sulaymaniyah during four days of protests over corruption and the economy. At least five people have been killed, and dozens more injured, by Kurdish security forces who opened fire on the crowds.

    Several other small protests have popped up across the country in recent days: Nearly 1,000 people in Basra demanded electricity and other services; 300 people in Fallujah demanded that the governor be sacked; dozens in Nassiriyah complained about unemployment.

    Iraqi protesters, unlike their counterparts in many other countries, are not (yet) calling for the government’s ouster. Instead, they’re demanding better basic services: electricity, food, and an effort to stamp out corruption.

    In response to the unrest, the Iraqi parliament adjourned for a week, its members instructed to travel home and meet with constituents – an odd response, perhaps, given that the government’s inaction is a leading cause of popular anger.


    Opposition movements in Iran have tried to stage several protests in recent days, and the movement’s two unofficial leaders – Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi – remain under house arrest.

    The first round of protests, on February 14, drew people to the streets for the first time in months. At least two people were killed, and several others wounded, according to Iranian officials.

    Tens of thousands of people then tried to rally on Sunday, but were met by riot police wielding steel batons and clubs. Three more people were killed. More protests may be planned for the coming days, and Iranians have resorted to “silent protests,” small marches aimed at avoiding conflict with the security forces.

    Al Jazeera


    Students killed at Yemen rally


    Protests turn deadly as the president’s supporters open fire on anti-government demonstrators in the capital, Sanaa.

    Last Modified: 22 Feb 2011 23:19 GMT
    A protester displays the message ‘Irhal’ (leave) written on his arm, meant for President Saleh [Reuters] 

    Two students have been killed in Yemen after more than 1,000 anti-government protesters rallied near Sanaa University.

    Witnesses said supporters of Ali Abdullah Saleh, the Yemeni president, opened fire at the protesters late on Tuesday night.

    Tom Finns, the editor of Yemen Times, quoted a doctor as saying the two students died from bullet wounds and that 20 others were injured, some by bullets and some by rocks being thrown.

    Finns told Al Jazeera that police had surrounded the scene and at least five ambulances had left carrying the injured. 

    Earlier in the day, clashes broke out as a crowd of about 4,000 anti-government protesters moved close to where Saleh’s loyalists were bunkered down.

    About 1,000 students had spent a second night camped at a square near Sanaa University, dubbed Al-Huriya (Liberty) Square, where they have erected a huge tent.

    Across the country, tens of thousands rallied on Tuesday calling for Saleh’s resignation.

    Continued violence

    Demonstrators, inspired by revolts in Tunisia and Egypt, have been protesting for almost two weeks against the rule of Saleh, in power since 1978.

    On Monday, witnesses said a teenager was killed and four people wounded in a clash with soldiers in the country’s southern city of Aden.

    Officers stood by as demonstrators marched in the eastern town of al-Shiher, chanting “Down, down with Saleh”.

    In Taiz, Yemen’s second-largest city, thousands of protesters marched in the Safir Square. An activist, Ahmed Ghilan, said hundreds have been camping in the square for more than a week, renaming it “Freedom Square”.

    In Aden, schools closed, most government employees were not working and many shops were closed as hundreds gathered for another round of protests.

    But mounting pressure has so far yielded little result as Saleh insists he will only step down after national elections are held in 2013.

    He has said protesters demanding an end to his rule could not achieve their goal through “anarchy and killing”.

    He said on Monday that he had ordered troops not to fire at anti-government protesters, except in self-defence, but medical officials say at least 12 people had been killed in demonstrations before the latest deaths were reported on Tuesday.

    A spokesman for the opposition rebuffed Saleh’s offer of dialogue, while an influential group of Muslim religious leaders called for a national unity government that would lead the country to elections.




    Sins of the father, sins of the son


    While Gaddafi has relied on empty revolutionary slogans to maintain power, his son looks to oil money for his.

    Lamis Andoni Last Modified: 22 Feb 2011 10:53 GMT
    The Libyan leader has presented himself as the champion of the Palestinian cause [GALLO/GETTY] 

    The sheer brutality of the Libyan suppression of anti-government protests has exposed the fallacy of the post-colonial Arab dictatorships, which have relied on revolutionary slogans as their source of legitimacy.

    Ever since his ascension to power, through a military coup, in 1969, Colonel Muammar Gaddafi has used every piece of revolutionary rhetoric in the book to justify his actions, which include consolidating power in the hands of his relatives and close associates and creating a network of security forces and militias to coerce Libyans into conforming to the whims of his cruel regime.

    Through his support for revolutionary movements in different parts of the world – ones, of course, which did not endanger his own rule – he has sought to portray himself as the ‘defender of the oppressed’, earning the wrath of the West in the process. But the people now courageously defying his regime’s savage suppression are sending the message that anti-Western slogans, even if occasionally backed up by support for just causes, can no longer sustain oppressive regimes in the region.

    A new era is underway in which leaders will be judged on their ability to represent the aspirations of the people and in which they will be held accountable for their actions. Issuing rallying cries against a foreign enemy, even when that enemy is very real, while inflicting injustice on one’s own people will no longer be permitted.

    Post-colonial Arab regimes, including those that rode the waves of or even at one point genuinely represented anti-colonial resistance, have had to resort to a reliance on secret police and draconian laws to subordinate their subjects. The lesson is clear: Without a representative democracy, Arab republics have metamorphosed into ugly hereditary dynasties that treat their countries like their own private companies.

    While trampling over the interests of his own people, Gaddafi has modeled himself as the champion of the Palestinian cause, reverting to the most fiery verbal attacks on Israel. But this is a recurring theme in a region where leaders must pay lip service to the plight of the Palestinians in order to give their regime the stamp of ‘legitimacy’. Gaddafi’s ‘support’, however, did not prevent him from deporting Palestinians living in Libya, leaving them stranded in the dessert, when he sought to “punish the Palestinian leadership” for negotiating with Israel.

    But even more cynical than his “pro-Palestinian” stand is his exploitation of the plight of the African people by anointing himself the leader of the continent. It is tragic, if reports prove to be true, that he used migrant sub-Saharan African labourers against the Libyan protesters. But it is, sadly, very believable that a ruthless dictator, driven hysterical by the prospect of losing his wealth and power, might pit the poor and marginalised against the poor and oppressed.

    The darling of the West

    Seif al-Islam, Gaddafi’s son who appeared on Libyan state television to warn that the demonstrators threatened to sink Libya into civil war, unlike his father, does not need to pretend to endorse the world’s underprivileged. For his power derives from something altogether different.

    When Seif warned that “rivers of blood” would flow if the protests did not stop, he was giving himself the right, merely by virtue of being his father’s son, to dismiss the grievances of millions of people and to issue outrageous threats.

    Seif may look and sound more sophisticated than his erratic father, but his performance was one of a feudal lord unable to fathom why his serfs would defy his authority.

    He has no need to employ his father’s tactic of invoking vacuous revolutionary rhetoric, for Gaddafi has successfully used the country’s Revolutionary Command Council and Revolutionary Committees – which are supposed to represent the interests of the people – to cement the power of his family and as tools with which to subjugate the masses.

    But Seif’s role has been secured not only by his power within the country. According to Vivienne Walt, a writer for Time Magazine, since the lifting of Western sanctions against Libya in 2005, Seif has acted “as an assurance” to the oil companies that have poured millions of dollars into the country.

    “In interviews with oil executives, all say that Seif is the person whom they would most like to see running Libya. He has made occasional appearances at the World Economic Forum. And during two visits to Libya, I’ve seen countless corporate executives from the US and Europe line up for appointments with Seif,” she recently wrote.

    It is little wonder Seif feels confident enough to make threats against the Libyan people without possessing so much as an official title. His position as the darling of the West, he clearly believes, entitles him to trample on the lives of others. And it may also explain the West’s hesitation over unequivocally condemning the sheer brutality of the Libyan regime.

    Thus, while the father ensured his grip on power by building a dictatorship with a claim to “revolutionary legitimacy,” Seif has been expected to secure the Western stamp of legitimacy by keeping the door to the country’s main source of wealth open for the oil companies to exploit.

    The father’s repression in the name of the revolution and the son’s status as an agent for the oil companies has created an oil-rich country where one-third of the population live below the poverty line and 30 per cent are unemployed. This is Gaddafi’s Libya.

    But the Libyan people are now shouting a loud goodbye to the Libya of Gaddafi and his family and, with great sacrifices, are building a new, freer country.

    Lamis Andoni is an analyst and commentator on Middle Eastern and Palestinian affairs.
    The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial policy.







    Al Jazeera




    Mubarakism Without Mubarak

    Why Egypt’s Military Will Not Embrace Democracy


    February 11, 2011

    Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak gave into the demands of the protesters today, leaving Cairo and stepping down from power. That came hours after a speech, broadcast live across the world yesterday, in which he refused to do so. Earlier that day, the Supreme Military Council released a statement — labeled its “first” communiqué — that stated that the military would ensure a peaceful transition of Mubarak out of office. In practice, it appears that power has passed into the hands of the armed forces. This act was the latest in the military’s creep from applauded bystander to steering force in this month’s protests in Egypt. Since the protest movement first took shape on January 25, the military has, with infinite patience, extended and deepened its physical control of the area around Tahrir Square (the focal point of the protests) with concrete barriers, large steel plates, and rolls of razor wire. In itself, the military’s growing footprint was the next act in a slow-motion coup — a return of the army from indirect to direct control — the groundwork for which was laid in 1952.

    The West may be worried that the crisis will bring democracy too quickly to Egypt and empower the Muslim Brotherhood. But the real concern is that the regime will only shed its corrupt civilians, leaving its military component as the only player left standing. Indeed, when General Omar Suleiman, the recently appointed vice president to whom Mubarak entrusted presidential powers last night, threatened on February 9 that the Egyptian people must choose between either the current regime or a military coup, he only increased the sense that the country was being held hostage.

    The Egyptian political system under Mubarak is the direct descendant of the republic established in the wake of the 1952 military coup that brought Gamal Abdel Nasser and the Free Officers to power. Nasser and the officers abolished Egypt’s limited parliamentary monarchy and ousted an entire generation of civilian political and judicial figures from public life. They created their own republic stocked with loyal military figures. Their one experiment with technocratic governance, allowing Egyptian legal experts to write a new basic document, was a failure. The experts’ draft had provisions for a strong parliament and limited presidency, which the officers deemed too liberal. They literally threw it into the wastebasket and started over, writing a constitution that placed immense power in the hands of the president.

    Such an arrangement would prove to work out well for the military, as every Egyptian president since 1953 has been an army officer. For two generations, the military was able, through the president, to funnel most of the country’s resources toward national security, arming for a series of ultimately disastrous wars with Israel. These defeats, combined with the government’s neglect of the economy, nearly drove the country to bankruptcy. Popular revolt erupted between 1975 and 1977 over the government’s economic policies. To regain control, the military turned its attention away from war and toward development. It gradually withdrew from direct control over politics, ceding power to domestic security forces and the other powerful backer of Egypt’s ruling party — small groups of civilian businessmen who benefited from their privileged access to government sales and purchases to expand their own fortunes.

    HIER verder lezen


    Riz Khan


    Libya’s lucrative ties


    As world leaders condemn violence against protesters, what is at stake for Western nations with close ties to Gaddafi?

    Riz Khan Last Modified: 22 Feb 2011 12:52 GMT
    Britain has been criticised for negotiating a string of oil and arms deals with Libya in recent years [GALLO/GETTY] 

    Why did the UK government on Monday cancel eight arms export licences for Libya?

    This comes after a warning from a legal adviser to the UN Commission on Human Rights who suggested that Britain may be found guilty of “complicity” for the killings of protesters by Muammar Gaddafi’s regime.


    Send us your views and get your voice on the air

    In the third quarter of 2010 alone, according to the Campaign Against Arms trade, the UK licensed over $6mn worth of ammunition to Libya, including sniper rifles and crowd control ammunition, which is suspected to have been used by the regime to suppress demonstrators.

    Although the UK has condemned the violent attacks on Libya’s protesters, in the past it has turned a blind eye to the country’s dubious human rights record for fear of risking lucrative oil, trade and arms deals.

    On Tuesday we examine the relationship between the two countries with Sir Richard Dalton, the former British ambassador to Libya; Dr. Mohamed al-Magariaf, the co-founder of the National Front for the Salvation of Libya; and Hafed al-Ghwell, a Libyan-American analyst.

    You can join the conversation. Watch this episode of Riz Khan live on Tuesday, February 22, at 1930GMT. Repeats can be seen on Wednesday at 0430GMT, 0830GMT and 1430GMT.

    Al Jazeera


    The Arab Revolts: Ten Tentative Observations

    by Mouin Rabbani

    [Arab dictators. Image by Saeb Khalil] [Arab dictators. Image by Saeb Khalil]

    The extraordinary developments in Tunisia and Egypt during the first six weeks of this year, and more recently in Bahrain, Libya, Yemen and elsewhere, have inaugurated a revolutionary moment in the Arab world not experienced since 1958. If sustained uprisings continue and spread, it has the potential to develop into an Arab 1848. Based on what we have witnessed thus far, the following observations appear relevant:

    1. The Arab world is a fundamentally different beast than Eastern Europe during the late 1980s. The latter was ruled by virtually identical regimes, organized within a single collective framework whose individual members were tightly controlled by an outside, crisis-riven power increasingly unable and unwilling to sustain its domination. By contrast, Arab regimes differ markedly in structure and character, the Arab League has played no role in either political integration or socio-economic harmonization, and the United States – still the dominant power in the Middle East – attaches strategic significance to maintaining and strengthening its regional position, as well as that of Israel.

    Whereas in Eastern Europe the demolition of the Berlin Wall symbolized the disintegration of not only the GDR but all regimes between the Danube and the USSR, the ouster of Ben Ali in Tunisia did not cause Mubarak’s downfall any more than change in Cairo is producing regime collapse in Libya or leading to the dissolution of the League of Arab States. More to the point, neither the Tunisian nor Egyptian regimes have yet been fundamentally transformed, and may even survive the current upheavals relatively intact. (The nature of the Libyan case is somewhat of an anomaly, with regime survival or comprehensive disintegration the only apparent options.)

    2. Many if not most Arab regimes are facing similar crises, which can be summarized as increasing popular alienation and resentment fueled by neo-liberal reforms. These reforms have translated into growing socio-economic hardship and disparities as the economy and indeed the state itself is appropriated by corrupt crony capitalist cliques; brutalization by arbitrary states whose security forces have become fundamentally lawless in pursuit of their primary function of regime maintenance; leaders that gratuitously trample institutions underfoot to sustain power and bequeath it to successors of their choice – more often than not blood relatives; and craven subservience to Washington despite its regional wars and occupations, as well as increasingly visible collusion with Israel proportional to the Jewish state’s growing extremism.

    Even the pretense of minimal Arab consensus on core issues such as Palestine has collapsed, and collectively the Arab states not only no longer exercise influence on the world stage, but have seen their regional role diminish as well, while Israel, Turkey and Iran have become the only local players of note. In a nutshell, Arab regimes no longer experience crises of legitimacy, because they have lost it irrevocably. In perception as well as reality, with respect to the political system as well as socio-economic policy, reform – in the sense of gradual, controlled change initiated and supervised by those in power – is not an option. Meaningful change is possible only through regime transformation.

    Furthermore, the contemporary Arab state in its various manifestations is incapable of self-generated transformation. This applies no less to Lebanon, whose elites have proven unwilling and unable to implement de-confessionalization as agreed in the 1989 Taif Agreement. With Iraq having demonstrated the catastrophic consequences of foreign intervention, sustained pressure by indigenous forces – perhaps only mass popular pressure – has emerged as the only viable formula.

    3. Arguably, the Tunisian uprising succeeded because no one anticipated that it could. An increasingly rapacious, repressive and narrowly-based ruling clique that seems to have lost its capacity for threat recognition, proved incapable of pro-actively deploying sufficient carrots and sticks to defuse the uprising. The violence it did unleash and extravagant promises it made – as well as their timing – only added fuel to the fire of revolt. Faced with a choice between removing their leader and imminent regime collapse, Tunisia’s elites and their Western sponsors hastily and unceremoniously forced Ben Ali out of the country.

    4. Although Egypt’s Mubarak was also initially slow to respond, he had the benefit of a significantly broader, better organized and more deeply entrenched regime whose preservation additionally remains an American strategic priority. Given the severity of the threat to his continued rule, Mubarak played his cards reasonably enough to at least avoid a fate identical to Ben Ali.

    After the initial gambit of unleashing the police and then battalions of thugs failed, Mubarak’s appointment of intelligence chief Omar Sulaiman to the vice presidency – vacant since Mubarak left it in 1981 – was never meant to appease the growing number of demonstrators demanding his immediate departure. Rather, Mubarak acted in order to retain the military (and Sulaiman’s) loyalty. By sacrificing the succession prospects of his wolverine son Gamal to the security establishment (and by extension restraining the boy’s insatiable cohorts), Mubarak père calculated that his generals would crush the uprising in order to consummate the deal. (He presumably intended to use the aftermath to re-insert Gamal into the equation, perhaps by scapegoating those that saved him.)

    With Washington positively giddy over Sulaiman’s appointment, the scenario was foiled only by the Egyptian people. Indeed, their escalatory response to Mubarak’s successive maneuvers – a resounding rejection of both reform and regime legitimacy – appears to have led the generals to conclude that the scale of the bloodbath required to crush the rebellion would at the very least shatter the military’s institutional coherence. No less alarmingly for them and for Washington in particular, Mubarak seemed determined to drag Sulaiman down with him if he wasn’t given a satisfactory exit.

    If in Tunisia the revolt’s arrival in the capital set alarm bells ringing, it appears that in Egypt the spread of mass protests beyond Cairo and Alexandria played an equally significant role. As towns and cities in the Suez Canal zone, Nile Delta, Sinai, and then Upper Egypt and even the Western Desert joined the uprising, and growing numbers of workers in state industries and institutions went on strike, it became clear Mubarak had to go, and go immediately. Since in contrast to Ben Ali he retained sufficient authority to prevent his own deportation, and therefore the ability to threaten his generals with genuine regime change, he was able to negotiate a less ignominious end in time to escape the massive crowds gathering around his palace, but apparently too late to fulfill Sulaiman’s leadership ambitions. Given that Sulaiman and Gamal between them effectively governed Egypt in recent years, their ouster (yet to be definitively confirmed in Sulaiman’s case) is of perhaps greater significance than Mubarak’s.

    5. The success of the Tunisian uprising inspired and helped spark the Egyptian revolt rather than produced the conditions for it. Indeed, there had been a steady growth of activism and unrest in Egypt for a number of years, which began to spike in the wake of the police murder of Khaled Said in Alexandria in June 2010 and then the December 31 government-organized bombing of a church in that same city. The Tunisian revolution, in other words, sprouted so easily on the banks of the Nile because it landed on fertile soil. The same can be said about protests and incipient rebellions in other Arab states in recent weeks and months. It is noteworthy that neither Tunisia nor even Egypt have – in contrast to Arab revolutionaries in the 1950s and 1960s – sought to export their experience. Rather, other Arabs have been taking the initiative to import what they perceive as a successful model for transformation.

    6. If Tunisia has largely existed on the Arab periphery, Egypt forms its very heart and soul, and the success of the Egyptian uprising is therefore of regional and strategic significance – a political earthquake. Indeed, where the ouster of Ben Ali was celebrated in the region on the grounds that an Arab tyrant had been deposed, many non-Egyptian Arabs responded to the fall of Mubarak as if they had themselves been his subjects – which in a sense they were.

    The impact of Egypt could already be observed the day Mubarak’s rule ended. Where Arab governments largely acted to suppress celebrations of Ben Ali’s removal, there were scant attempts to interfere with the popular euphoria that greeted the success of the Egyptian uprising. To the contrary, governments from Algiers to Ramallah to Sana’a rushed to demonstrate that– like Ben Ali – they “understood” the message emanating from their populations. And the message, of course, is that if Mubarak can fall then no autocrat is safe.

    In the coming months and years, it can reasonably be expected that Egypt will seek to re-assert a leading role among Arab states, and whether alone or in concert with others seek to balance Israeli, Turkish and Iranian influence in the region.

    7. Absent genuine regime change in Cairo, it appears unlikely that Egypt will formally renounce its peace treaty with Israel. It may however seek to restore unfettered sovereignty to Sinai by renegotiating key aspects of this agreement. More importantly, it seems inconceivable that Egypt will or can continue to play the role of regional strategic partner of Israel that was the hallmark of the Mubarak era. Rather, Egypt is likely to begin treating its relations with Israel as a bilateral matter. This in turn will place significant pressure on Israel’s relations with other Arab states, as well as the framework for domination through negotiation established with the Palestinians.

    8. The Tunisian and Egyptian uprisings, and incipient rebellions in a number of other Arab states, suggest that a new generation has come of political age and is seizing the initiative. Organized, even disciplined, but not constituted through traditional party or movement structures, the region’s protesting populations appear to be led by coalitions of networks, more often than not informal ones. This suggests that Arab regimes have been so successful in eradicating and marginalizing traditional opposition that their opponents today lack the kind of leaders who exercise meaningful control over a critical mass of followers, and whose removal or co-optation can therefore have a meaningful impact at ground level. Ironically, in his desperate last days the only party leaders Mubarak found to negotiate with represented little more than themselves.

    9. The current rebellions in the Arab world have been overwhelmingly secular in character and participation has spanned the entire demographic and social spectrum. This is likely to have a lasting political and cultural impact, particularly if this trend continues, and may form a turning point in the fortunes of Islamist movements who for almost three decades have dominated opposition to the established Arab order and foreign domination.

    10. The key issue in the coming months and years is not whether Arab states organize free and fair parliamentary elections and obtain certificates of good democratic conduct. Many probably will. Rather, the core question is whether the security establishment will continue to dominate the state or become an instrument that is subordinate to it. Most Arab states have in fact become police regimes in the literal sense of the word. Their militaries, while remaining enormously influential, have been politically neutralized, often by leaders who emerged from its ranks and – recognizing better than others the threat officer corps can pose – have relied on the forces of the Interior Ministry rather than soldiers to sustain their rule.

    That Ben Ali, himself a former Interior Minister, was the first to fly, and that intelligence chief Sulaiman may share a similar fate gives cause for optimism. By the same token, those who have seen Ben Ali and Mubarak fall can be expected to cling to power more tenaciously if effectively challenged. Qaddafi, whose head appears well on its way to a rusty pitchfork parading through the streets of Tripoli, is but a horrific case in point.




    Gaddafi defiant as state teeters


    Libyan leader vows to ‘fight on’ as his government loses control of key parts in the country and as top officials quit.

    Last Modified: 23 Feb 2011 08:54 GMT
    Protesters are said to be in control of several cities in Libya’s east [Reuters] 

    Muammer Gaddafi, the Libyan leader, clings to power in the face of mass protests demanding  his resignation, as parts of the country’s state structure appear to be disintegrating around him.

    Fears are growing that Libya’s state apparatus, once seen as a powerful and coherent entity, is facing collapse as key officials quit the government, with some joining the protesters, and as international isolation mounts.

    Speaking in a televised address on Tuesday evening, Gaddafi vowed to fight on and die a “martyr” on Libyan soil. He called on his supporters to take back the streets on Wednesday from protesters who are demanding that he step down.


    He also claimed that he had “not yet ordered the use of force”, warning that “when I do, everything will burn”.

    Gaddafi, who termed the protests an “armed rebellion”, said that security cordons set up by police and the military would be lifted on Wednesday, telling his supporters to “go out and fight [anti-government protesters]”.

    He blamed the uprising in the country on “Islamists”, and warned that an “Islamic emirate” has already been set up in Bayda and Derna, where he threatened the use of extreme force.

    “I am a fighter, a revolutionary from tents … I will die as a martyr at the end,” Gaddafi, who has been in power for 41 years, said.

    Several hundred people held a pro-Gaddafi rally in central Tripoli on Tuesday night, cheering the Libyan leader as he made his speech.

    Demonstrators in the eastern city of Benghazi, which is now controlled by anti-government protesters, angrily threw shoes at a screen showing the address.

    ‘Indications of state collapse’

    While Gaddafi has insisted that the country is stable, however, international leaders have warned that the growing violence and increasing numbers of government and military renouncements of Gaddafi’s leadership indicate that the state structure is in critical danger.

    William Hague, the British foreign minister, has said that there are “many indications of the structure of the state collapsing in Libya”.

    “The resignation of so many ambassadors and diplomats, reports of ministers changing sides within Libya itself, shows the system is in a very serious crisis,” he said.  

    Libyan diplomats across the world have either resigned in protest at the use of violence (including the alleged use of warplanes on civilian targets) against citizens, or renounced Gaddafi’s leadership, saying that they stand with the protesters.

    Late on Tuesday night, General Abdul-Fatah Younis, the country’s interior minister, became the latest government official to stand down, saying that he was resigning to support what he termed as the “February 17 revolution”.

    He urged the Libyan army to join the people and their “legitimate demands”.

    On Wednesday, Youssef Sawani, a senior aide to Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, one of Muammer Gaddafi’s sons, resigned from his post “to express dismay against violence”, Reuters reported.

    Earlier, Mustapha Abdeljalil, the country’s justice minister, had resigned in protest at the “excessive use of violence” against protesters, and diplomat’s at Libya’s mission to the United Nations called on the Libyan army to help remove “the tyrant Muammar Gaddafi”.

    A group of army officers has also issued a statement urging soldiers to “join the people” and remove Gaddafi from power.

    Protesters ‘take’ towns

    Swathes of the country now appear to be out of Gaddafi’s control. Benghazi, the country’s second largest city, was “taken” by protesters after days of bloody clashes, and soldiers posted there are reported to have deserted and joined the anti-government forces.

    On Wednesday morning, Kharey, a local resident, told Al Jazeera that “normal traffic” was flowing on Benghazi’s streets, but that demonstrations may take place at midday near court buildings.

    He said that people in Benghazi were forming committees to manage the affairs of the city, and that similar committees were being set up in the towns of Beyda and Derna.

    The Libyan government has accused Qatar, Al Jazeera’s host country, of spreading “lies” and fomenting unrest

    Several other cities in the country’s east are said to be under the control of protesters, including Tobruk, where a former army major told the Reuters news agency: “All the eastern regions are out of Gaddafi’s control … the people and the army are hand-in-hand here.”

    The Paris-based International Federation for Human Rights says that protesters also control Sirte, Misrata, Khoms, Tarhounah, Zenten, Al-Zawiya and Zouara.

    The Warfalla tribe, the largest in the country, has also joined calls from other tribes for Gaddafi to stand down.

    Global isolation

    The country is also facing growing international isolation, and late on Tuesday, the United Nations Security Council expressed “grave concern” at the situation in the country, condemning the use of force against civilians.

    A statement signed by all 15 members of the council said that the UNSC “deplored the repression against peaceful demonstrators, and expressed deep regret at the deaths of hundreds of civilians”.

    The council called for “steps to address the legitimate demands of the population”.

    Also on Tuesday, the Arab League barred Libya from attending meetings of the bloc until it stops cracking down on anti-government protesters. The league strongly condemned what it called crimes against civilians, the recruiting of foreign mercenaries and the use of live ammunition, according to a statement read by Amr Moussa, the body’s secretary-general.

    On Wednesday, the African Union conducted a “security meeting” on the situation in Libya.

    Peru, meanwhile, has severed diplomatic ties with Gaddafi’s government, while several countries, including Britain, the United States, Italy, France, Turkey, India, Sri lanka, Nepal, Bangladesh and Greece have put into place arrangements for the evacuation of their citizens from the country.

    Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, said on Tuesday that the use of violence was “completely unacceptable”, while Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, said it “amounted to [Gaddafi] declaring war on his own people”.

    Violence rages

    The UNSC’s statement stopped short of declaring Libyan airspace a no-fly zone, after diplomats called for the step to be taken following reports that warplanes had been used throughout Monday to bomb civilian targets in Tripoli.

    Violence has continued to rage in Libya since an anti-government crackdown on demonstrations began on February 17. Human Rights Watch, a US-based rights watchdog, says that at least 295 people have been killed since violence began.

    Naji Abu-Ghrouss, an interior ministry official, said 197 civilians and 111 in the military have been killed in violence so far.

    Witnesses in Tripoli and other cities have reported that foreign mercenaries have been patrolling the streets, firing indiscriminately on those they encounter in a bid to keep people off the streets. In addition, air strikes have also been reported against civilian targets.

    The government claims that while warplanes have been used in recent days, they were targeting arms depots and that the targets were not in residential areas.

    On Tuesday, Navi Pillay, the UN’s high commissioner for human rights, said that widespread and systematic attacks against civilians “may amount to crimes against humanity”.

    Protesters and tribesmen in Ajdabiya, a key city near the country’s oil fields, say they are protecting facilities and fields.

    On Tuesday, two international oil companies – Italy’s Eni and Spain’s Repsol-YPF – shut down operations, while Royal Dutch Shell said that it was preparing to evacuate employees.

    Al Jazeera and agencies




    Is the West Bank next?

    If Israel refuses to accept a viable peace deal, the revolt sweeping the Arab world will arrive in Palestine.
    MJ Rosenberg Last Modified: 22 Feb 2011 21:41 GMT
    Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu expects the US to protect Israel from a Palestinian rebellion, writer says  [EPA]  

    If Binyamin Netanyahu’s govenment, and its lobby in Washington, were rational they would be rushing to plan Israel’s evacuation from the occupied territories, and encouraging the establishment of a Palestinian state in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem. 

    That is because they would understand that the Arab revolution will not stop at the gates of the West Bank, especially when it is the occupation that unites virtually all Arabs and Muslims in common fury.

    As for the Palestinians themselves, they are watching the revolutions with a combination of joy and humiliation.  Other Arabs are freeing themselves from local tyrants while they remain under a foreign occupation that grows more onerous every day -particularly in East Jerusalem. While other Arabs revel in what they have accomplished, the Palestinians remain, and are regarded as, victims.

    It is not going to last. The Palestinians will revolt, just as the other Arabs have, and the occupation will end. 

    But it is up to the Israelis to help decide how it will end (just as it was up to the Mubarak government and Egyptian army to decide whether the regime would go down in blood and flames or accept the inevitable).

    Gaza mistakes

    For Israel, that means accepting the terms of the Arab League Initiative (incorporating United Nations Resolutions 242 and 338) and trade the occupied lands for full peace and normalisation of relations with the entire Arab world. Or it can hang on to an unsustainable status quo.

    They can wait for the eruption, thinking they can contain it and ignoring the fact that the weaponry they can use against any foreign invaders cannot be used against an occupied civilian population. That is especially true in the age of Al Jazeera and of Twitter, Facebook, and the rest.

    Right-wing Israelis and their lobby in Washington invariably respond to this argument by saying that it is impossible to leave the West Bank, pointing to the experience in Gaza. They withdrew only to have their own land beyond the border shelled by militants who seized control as Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) troops left for home.

    That is true and it might indeed happen again if the Israeli occupation is ended as a result of a popular uprising.

    But Gaza is only an applicable precedent if Israel leaves without negotiating the terms of its departure. Israel left Gaza when Palestinians made the price of staying too high. But, rather than negotiating its way out, Israel just left. 

    Colonial mentality

    In an act of colossal and typical arrogance Ariel Sharon, the former prime minister, withdrew unilaterally. Not only did he refuse to negotiate the terms of the withdrawal with Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, Sharon refused even to give the Palestinian Authority (PA) advance notice of the day and time of their departure.

    Had they done so, the PA would have been in place to prevent the havoc that ensued. But they weren’t. Sharon, utterly contemptuous of Palestinians, behaved as if Israel was 19th century Belgium and Palestine was the Congo. No consultations with the natives were even contemplated.

    The Israeli government would have to be absolutely out of its mind to allow a repeat of that experience. But that would likely happen if Israel is forced out rather than negotiating its way out.

    Fortunately, both the Israelis and the Palestinians already have worked out detailed plans to ensure mutual security following an Israeli withdrawal. In fact, the Palestinian Authority already utilizes those plans to maintain West Bank security and, with Israeli help, prevents attacks on Israel from territories its control.

    The same modalities would have to be worked out with the Hamas authorities in Gaza. Hamas has repeatedly said that it would accept the terms of any agreement with Israel worked out by the Palestinian Authority and approved by the Palestinian people in a referendum.

    What is Israel waiting for? 

    Can it honestly look at the way the Middle East has evolved in 2011 and believe that the occupation can last forever? Can it have so little respect for Palestinians that it believes them incapable of doing what Egyptians, Libyans, and Tunisians have done?

    Or is it that Netanyahu simply counts on the United States to come to its assistance when the inevitable happens. That would be a big mistake. It is one thing for the United States to get pressured by the Israeli lobby into vetoing a resolution on settlements. It is quite another to think that anything the United States does can preserve the occupation.

    US protection

    In fact, after last week’s votes, it is doubtful that the Palestinian people (other than a few big shots) even care what the United States thinks anymore. 

    No, it is up to Israel to defend Israel. And that means ending the occupation, on terms worked out with the Palestinians, rather than allowing it to end in violence that could cross the border and threaten the survival of Israel itself. 

    Why can’t Israel see that? Have the fanatics in the Israeli government (the settlers and the religious parties) decided that it better to have no Israel at all than an Israel without the West Bank and its settlements? 

    Because that is how Israel is behaving: as if Ariel, Hebron, and Maale Adumim are worth more than Tel Aviv, Haifa, and the Jewish parts of Jerusalem.

    It’s a kind of insanity.

    MJ Rosenberg is a senior foreign policy fellow at Media Matters Action Network. The above article first appeared in Foreign Policy Matters, a part of the Media Matters Action Network. Follow MJ’s work on Facebook or on Twitter.

    The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial policy.

    Al Jazeera


    Inside Story


    Libya: Ready for civil war?


    As protests spread across the country, Seif al-Islam Gaddafi vowed that the regime would “fight to the last bullet”.

    Inside Story Last Modified: 22 Feb 2011 12:44 GMT
    The uprising in Libya appears to be growing by the day, and represents the biggest challenge to leader Muammar Gaddafi since he took power in 1969.The unrest has spread to the capital Tripoli for the first time since protests began and the second largest city of Benghazi is reportedly out of government control.
    A major tribe in Libya was reported to have turned against Gaddafi, and a number of Libyan diplomats resigned their posts in protest for using force against demonstrators.In the regime’s first comment on the demonstrations, Seif al-Islam Gaddafi, Muammar Gaddafi’s son, appeared on state television on Sunday night offering significant political reforms.He says that his father will remain in power and is fully backed by the army. Seif al-Islam also vowed that the regime would “fight to the last bullet” against “seditious elements”. He put only two choices in front of the people: Either to accept reforms or be ready for civil war.As thousands of protesters call for Gaddafi to step down, what is behind these latest statements? Will the uprising turn into civil war?Inside Story, with presenter Hazem Sika, discusses with guests Dana Moss, a fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy; Abubaker Deghayes, a Libyan human rights activist; and Hans Koechler, the official UN observer for the Lockerbie trial and the president of the International Progress Organisation.This episode of Inside Story aired from Monday, February 21, 2011.
    Al Jazeera

    Gaddafi daughter denies fleeing


    Aisha, Gaddafi’s daughter, appears on state television, denying the report she tried to flee to Malta.

    Last Modified: 23 Feb 2011 17:45 GMT
    The plane reportedly carrying Gaddafi’s daughter circled overhead Malta before being turned back 

    Aisha, Muammar Gaddafi’s daughter, has appeared on state television, denying a report she tried to flee to Malta.

    “I am steadfastly here,” she said on Wednesday.

    Earlier, there were reports a Libyan plane carrying the daughter of the Libyan leader, was turned back from Malta after it was denied permission to land.

    “The [crew] initially said they had 14 people on board. They were circling overhead saying they were running low on fuel,” Cal Perry, Al Jazeera’s correspondent in Malta, said.

    “At that point the ambassador from Libya who was here in Malta was called in to take part in the negotiations on whether or not they were going to allow this plane to land.

    “As he entered the talks it became clear from the pilots that Aisha Gaddhafi, Muammar Gaddhafi’s only daughter, was aboard the plane. The government said it was an unscheduled flight, it doesn’t matter who is on board; they said it cannot land and diverted the plane back to Libya.”

    Maltese government sources said however, that it had no information that she was on a plane which was refused permission to land or that the Libyan ambassador was involved in any negotiations.

    Libya has been in turmoil since mass protests broke out against Gaddafi’s 42-year-old rule in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi more than a week ago. 

    The protests, which have spread to other cities despite the authorities cracking down on the protesters, is the biggest challenge that Gaddafi has faced during his long rule. The protesters now control much of the country and many senior officials have deserted Gaddafi.

    Relatives fleeing?

    Wednesday’s reports of attempted landing on Malta fueled speculation over whether family members of Gaddafi sought to flee.

    The attempted landing came a day after a private Libyan jet carrying the Lebanese wife of one of Gaddafi’s sons was prevented from landing at Beirut airport in Lebanon, the Voice of Lebanon radio reported on Wednesday.

    It said Hannibal Gaddafi’s wife and several members of the Libyan ruling family were aboard the jet that was denied permission to land at Rafik Hariri international airport on Tuesday.

    Several Libyan regime figures could have been among the plane’s passengers, the radio station said.

    Lebanon’s Safir daily said that the plane was due to take off from the Libyan capital before midnight but Lebanese authorities asked Libya to unveil the identity of the 10 people on board before allowing the jet to land.

    When the Libyans ignored the Lebanese request, authorities in Beirut ordered airport officials to ask the pilot to divert the plane to a nearby country, either Syria or Cyprus.

    Al Jazeera and agencies


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