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Een democratische omwenteling in de Arabische Wereld? Deel 7– 7 ثورة ديمقراطية في العالم العربي؟ جزء

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



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Libya clashes spread to Tripoli


Clashes between anti-government protesters and Gaddafi supporters escalate as army unit ‘defects’ in Benghazi.

Last Modified: 20 Feb 2011 22:05 GMT
Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi is confronting the most serious challenge to his rule in 42 years [Al Jazeera]

Security forces have shot dead scores of protesters in Libya’s second largest city, where residents said a military unit had joined their cause.

Live Blog

While Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi attempted to put down protests centred in the eastern city of Benghazi against his four-decade rule, Al Jazeera began receiving eyewitness reports of “disturbances” in the capital Tripoli early on Monday as well.

There were reports of clashes between anti-government protesters and Gaddafi supporters around the Green Square.

“We are in Tripoli, there are chants [directed at Gaddafi]: ‘Where are you? Where are you? Come out if you’re a man,” a protester told Al Jazeera on the phone.

A resident told the Reuters news agency that he could hear gunshots in the streets and crowds of people.

“We’re inside the house and the lights are out. There are gunshots in the street,” the resident said by phone. “That’s what I hear, gunshots and people. I can’t go outside.”

An expatriate worker living in the Libyan capital told Reuters: “Some anti-government demonstrators are gathering in the residential complexes. The police are dispersing them. I can also see burning cars.”


Twitter Reaction

Libya Protests

waldpferd profile

waldpferd RT @RickSanchezTV: UNCONFIRMED: #Libya diplomat claims ‘gunfight btwn #Gaddafi’s sons (one pro-reform) & Gaddafi left #Libya’ / via aljazeera 36 seconds ago · reply

lemlemz profile

lemlemz RT @OnlyOneLibya: #Gaddafi’s henchmen and mercenaries are terrorising #Tripoli. We trust in God, they Libyan people will prevail. #Libya 28 seconds ago · reply

preius profile

preius ” #Gaddafi just blamed #Canada for chaos. I think that’s the first time someone’s blamed Canada for war outside of South Park.” #libya 20 seconds ago · reply


  8 new tweets

theimp profile

theimp RT @EnoughGaddafi: international community must intervene, #gaddafi is a war criminal and a barbarian. #feb17 #libya about 1 minute ago · reply

There were also reports of protesters heading to Gaddafi’s compound in the city of Al-Zawia near Tripoli, with the intention of burning the building down.

Meanwhile the head of the Al-Zuwayya tribe in eastern Libya has threatened to cut off oil exports unless authorities stop what he called the “oppression of protesters”, the Warfala tribe, one of Libya’s biggest, has reportedly joined the anti-Gaddafi protests.

Speaking to Al Jazeera, Shaikh Faraj al Zuway said: “We will stop oil exports to Western countries within 24 hours” if the violence did not stop. The tribe lives south of Benghazi, which has seen the worst of the deadly violence in recent days.

Akram Al-Warfalli, a leading figure in the Al Warfalla tribe, one of Libya’s biggest, told the network: “We tell the brother (Gaddafi), well he’s no longer a brother, we tell him to leave the country.” The tribe lives south of Tripoli.

Protests have also reportedly broken out in other cities, including Bayda, Derna, Tobruk and Misrata – and anti-Gaddafi graffiti adorns the walls of several cities.

Anti-government protesters in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi have reportedly seized army vehicles and weapons amid worsening turmoil in the African nation.

A local witness said that a section of the troops had joined the protesters on Sunday as chaos swept the streets of the city, worst hit by the uprising against Muammar Gaddafi’s 42-year old rule.

Mohamed, a doctor from Al Jalaa hospital in Benghazi, confirmed to Al Jazeera that members of the military had sided with the protesters.

“We are still receiving serious injuries, I can confirm 13 deaths in our hospital. However, the good news is that people are cheering and celebrating outside after receiving news that the army is siding with the people,” he said.

“But there is still a brigade that is against the demonstrators. For the past three days demonstrators have been shot at by this brigade, called Al-Sibyl brigade.”

The witness reports came on a day in which local residents told Al Jazeera that at least 200 people had died in days of unrest in Benghazi alone. The New York-based Human Rights Watch on Sunday put the countrywide death toll at 173. The rights group said its figure was “conservative”.


News of the rising death toll came as residents of Benghazi, Libya’s second largest city, reported renewed gunfire from security forces in the city.

Sadiq al Ghiryani, a Libyan religious leader, told Al Jazeera a “massacre” was under way in the city and troops firing shots were mostly mercenaries.. Kamal Hudethifi, a judge, described the killings as “ethnic cleansing”.

The Reuters news agency said at least 50 people had been killed in Benghazi since Sunday afternoon.

Moftah, a Benghazi resident , who requested Al Jazeera use only his first name, said the city had become a “war zone” in recent days.

Residents have barricaded the streets with overturned trash cans and debris, and security forces have largely confined themselves to two compounds, though snipers continue to target protesters, he said.

The forces who remain are “thugs” loyal to Gaddafi, Moftah said, and they are firing high-calibre ammunition at protesters.

The eyewitness report came a day after security forces opened fire at a funeral in the eastern coastal city on Saturday, killing at least 15 people and injuring scores more.

A group of six alleged mercenaries – reportedly brought in from Tunisia and other African nations to bolster pro-Gaddafi forces – were captured and arrested by demonstrators in the city of Shahat.

Appeal for calm

Against this backdrop of violence, opposition groups said some 50 Libyan Muslim leaders have urged security forces to stop killing civilians.

“This is an urgent appeal from religious scholars, intellectuals, and clan elders from Tripoli, Bani Walid, Zintan, Jadu, Msalata, Misrata, Zawiah, and other towns and villages of the western area,” the appeal, signed by the group of leaders, stated.

“We appeal to every Muslim, within the regime or assisting it in any way, to recognise that the killing of innocent human beings is forbidden by our Creator and by His beloved prophet of compassion, peace be upon him … Do not kill your brothers and sisters. Stop the massacre now!”

Around the world, people have been gathering in solidarity with the protesters at Libyan consulates and at the White House in Washington, DC, the US capital.

Libya’s government has responded to the international criticism by threatening retaliation against the European Union.  It said on Sunday that it would stop co-operating with efforts to try and stop illegal migrants heading to Europe.

Communication cut

Verifying news from Libya has been difficult since the protests began, because of restrictions on journalists entering the country, as well as internet and mobile phone blackouts imposed by the government.

The Libyan government has blocked Al Jazeera’s TV signal in the country – and residents have also reported that the network’s website is inaccessible from there.

This affects viewers on Arabsat and Nilesat at 26 degrees east and 7 degrees west, where alternative frequencies have now been set up.

A spokesman for the network said whoever was causing the interference must be using large outstations to simultaneously interfere with several platforms on the two orbital positions of Arabsat and Nilesat.

“We have set up alternative frequencies for viewers and are investigating the source of the problem, though cooperation would be needed from governments to precisely determine this,” said the network.

“We believe that whoever is doing this is operating with sophisticated and large equipment.”

In addition to TV signal jamming, internet service has been cut, said a US company that monitors web traffic.

Massachusetts-based Arbor Networks said data collected from 30 internet service providers worldwide showed that online traffic in and out of Libya was disconnected abruptly at  2:15am local time on Saturday. The data also showed two partial service interruptions earlier in the day.

As of Sunday, it was still possible to reach Libyans by phone, and some in Tripoli had internet access.

Al Jazeera and agencies


Highlights of Gaddafi son’s speech


Al-Islam blamed the unrest in Libya on tribal factions and drunken or drugged Islamists acting on their own agendas.

Last Modified: 21 Feb 2011 01:39 GMT
seif islam screen grab 

Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, a son of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, addressed the people of Libya early on Monday in a televised speech broadcast on state TV.

In his speech, al-Islam blamed the unrest in Libya on tribal factions and drunken or drugged Islamists acting on their own agendas. He also promised reforms and said the alternative would be civil war causing no trade and no oil money for the country.

On reported deaths in the unrest, he said: “There were some planning errors. Errors from the police … and the army that was not equipped and prepared to confront angry people and…to defend its premises, weapons and ammunition.”

“Each party has its own version of the story…But the unfortunate bottom line is that sons of Libya have died. This is the tragedy.”

On the demands of the protesters: He said he agreed with and understood the “clear political agenda and demands” by political organisations, trade unions and lawyers whom he said were behind the events in the east of Libya.

“These do not represent a problem. We understand and agree with their opinions.”

On the people he blamed for the unrest: “They have started by attacking army camps, have killed soldiers, officers…and taken weapons”.

“The security forces…have arrested dozens in Libya who unfortunately were among our brother Arabs and among the African expatriates…who were used in these events at these times to create problems…Some wealthy (businessmen) and tradesmen spent millions on them to use these people”.

“There are groups that want to rule, there are groups that want to form the state in eastern Libya and rule…in Benghazi and Baida…

“There are groups that have formed a government in Benghazi and groups that have set up an Islamic emirate in Baida … and another person who declared himself to be the ruler of the Islamic Republic of Darna”.

“They now want to transform Libya into a group of (Islamic) emirates, small states and even (cause) separatism. They have a plot. Unfortunately, our brother Arabs (allowed) their media, their stations and the inflammatory coverage.”


Profile: Libya’s Saif al-Islam


Saif al-Islam was given the task of defending his father’s government on national television.

Last Modified: 21 Feb 2011 03:02
Said al-Islam has played a large role in Libyan politics while never holding an official position within the state [AFP] 

Described last year by the New York Times as “the Western-friendly face of Libya and symbol of its hopes for reform and openness,” Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, 38, is a fluent English speaker with a PhD from the London School of Economics.

The second of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi’s seven sons, Saif al-Islam was given the task of defending his father’s government in a televised address early on Monday after the worst unrest of the elder Gaddafi’s four-decade rule.

In his address, he accused exiles of fomenting violence and promised a dialogue leading toward reforms.

Widely seen as belonging to a camp that aims to open Libya’s economy, Saif al-Islam helped lead talks with Western governments that in the past 10 years saw Libya renounce nuclear weapons and end decades of isolation as a foe of the West, paving the way for large-scale investment in its oil sector.

Saif al-Islam has clashed publicly with the ruling elite over proposals for reforms. Some analysts believe his conservative opponents have the backing of his brothers Mutassim, a national security adviser, and Khamis, a senior military leader. In December, he took the unusual step of denying a family feud with his brothers.

His turf war with conservatives has escalated in the past few months, with many Libya-watchers seeing signs of his influence being held in check. Twenty journalists working for al Ghad, a media group which had been linked to him, were briefly arrested. The head of the group stepped down and its flagship newspaper stopped printing.

Much of his influence was wielded through his position as the head of a charity. Late last year the charity said it was withdrawing from politics and his post of chairman was being made into an honorary role.




Moroccans march to seek change


Demonstrators demand large-scale political and economic reforms in the North African kingdom.

Last Modified: 20 Feb 2011 14:18 GMT
Ordinary Moroccans are demanding large-scale political and economic reforms [AFP] 

Calls for change sweeping the Arab world have now spread to the kingdom of Morocco, where thousands of people have taken to the streets in the capital to demand a new constitution.

The demonstrators shouted slogans calling for economic opportunity, educational reform, better health services and help in coping with rising living costs during the march on central Hassan II Avenue in Rabat on Sunday.

A protest organiser said the turnout at the rally was more than 5,000. But police said fewer than 3,000 people had marched.

Many in the crowd waved Tunisian and Egyptian flags, in recognition of the uprisings that toppled the two country’s long-standing rulers.

‘Down with autocracy’

Uniformed police kept their distance from the protest, but plain-clothes officers with notebooks mingled with the crowd, amid chants of “The people reject a constitution made for slaves!” and “Down with autocracy!”   

Some called on Abbas El Fassi, the prime minister, to leave but placards and slogans made no direct attacks on the king.   

“This is a peaceful protest to push for constitutional reform, restore dignity and end graft and the plundering of public funds,” said Mustapha Muchtati of the Baraka (Enough) group, which helped organise the march.

The protest was initiated by a group calling itself the February 20 Movement for Change, which has attracted 19,000 followers on the social networking website Facebook

Demonstrations were also planned in Morocco’s other main cities, including Marrakesh, the top tourist destination.   

Salaheddine Mezouar, the finance minister, urged citizens to boycott the march, warning that any “slip may in the space of a few weeks cost us what we have achieved over the last 10 years”.   

Morocco is officially a constitutional monarchy with an elected parliament. But the constitution empowers the king to dissolve the legislature, impose a state of emergency and have a key say in government appointments including the prime minister.




Tunisia seeks Ben Ali’s extradition


Officials have formally requested the extradition of former president from Saudi Arabia, where he fled last month.

Last Modified: 20 Feb 2011 19:40 GMT
Tunisia now has an interim government which is preparing the country for national elections [AFP] 

Tunisia is seeking the extradition of former President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali from Saudi Arabia to face charges stemming from the violent crackdown on protesters last month, Tunisia’s foreign ministry has said.

Tunisia wants to try Ben Ali over his role in the deaths of protesters killed by security forces during the uprising, which brought an end to his decades-long rule, the foreign ministry said in a statement carried by state media on Sunday.

Ben Ali fled Tunisia to Jeddah on January 14, after weeks of protests ended his 23-year-old rule.

The interim government, which is preparing the country for national elections, has asked Saudi Arabia to provide “as soon as possible” information on Ben Ali’s health, the state news agency TAP reported.

The 74-year-old former leader is reportedly very ill in hospital after suffering a stroke. Rumours are rife that the former leader might be dead.





SEND HELP TO LIBYA!!! Petition, hosted at PetitionOnline.com

 تضامن مع شعب ليبيا

Live Blog – Libya

By Al Jazeera Staff in
  • on February 17th, 2011.





    Citizen video reportedly shows protesters marching in the western coastal city of Misrata.

    As protests in Libya enter their eighth day, following a “day of rage” on Thursday, we keep you updated on the developing situation from our headquarters in Doha, Qatar.

    (All times are local in Libya)

    Blog: Feb17 – Feb18 – Feb19

    AJE Live Stream  – Twitter Audio: Voices from Libya  – Benghazi Protest Radio (Arabic) Benghazi Webcam 

    February 21
    2:00 am Picture from the streets shows Libyans watching Seif Gaddafi address the nation via @ammr

    File 9266
    1:50 am Najla Abdurahman, a Libyan dissident, dissected Saif El Islam Gadaffi’s address: 


    He’s threatening Libya and trying to play up on their fears. I don’t think anyone in Libya who isn’t close to the Gaddafi regime would buy anything he said. And even if there is any truth to what he said, I don’t think it’s any better than what the people of Libya have already been living with for the past 40 years. He promised that the country would spiral into civil war for the next 30 to 40 years, that the country’s infrastructure would be ruined, hospitals and schools would no longer be functioning – but schools are already terrible, hospitals are already in bad condition.

    File 9246



    1:00am: Saif El Islam Gaddafi, the Libyan leader’s son, is speaking live on Libyan state television. He says he will address the nation without a written speech, in the Libyan dialect.
    He says the media has greatly exaggerated the events in Libya, and says the number of casualties is 14, adding that he regrets the deaths of civilians. He also says unions and Islamic groups are beind the protests – and they are benefiting from the situation.
    Translated snippets of his speech as he gives it are below:


    “Citizens tried to attack the army and they were in a situation that was difficult. The army was not used to dealing with riots,” he says.

    “Libyan citizens died and this was a tragedy.

    “There is a plot against Libya. People want to create a government in Benghazi and others want to have an Islamic emirate in Bayda. All these [people] have their own plots. Of course Arab media hyped this. The fault of the Libyan media is that it did not cover this.

    Libya is not like Egypt, it is tribes and clans, it is not a society with parties. Everyone knows their duties and this may cause civil wars. 

    Libya is not Tunisia and Egypt. Libya has oil – that has united the whole of Libya.

    “I have to be honest with you. We are all armed, even the thugs and the unemployed. At this moment in time, tanks are driven about with civilians. In Bayda you have machine huns right in the middle of the city. Many arms have been stolen.

    “No one will come to Libya or do any business with Libya.

    “We will call for new media laws, civil rights, lift the stupid punishments, we will have a constitution… We will tomorrow create a new Libya. We can agree on a new national anthem, new flag, new Libya. Or be prepared for civil war. Forget about oil.

    “The country will be divided like North and South Korea, we will see each other through a fence. You will wait in line for months for a visa.

    “The Libyans who live in Europe and USA, their children go to school and they want you to fight. They are comfortable. They then want to come and rule us and Libya. They want us to kill each other then come, like in Iraq.”

    12:47 am: As the protests in Libya appear to be spreading to the capital, Tripoli, Libyans abroad are making their voices heard as well. Twitter users @shihabeldin  and @abuzaakouk posted this video from a solidarity rally in front of the White House in the US capital:



    Concern over rising Libya violence


    Top US diplomats condemn crackdowns on protesters but stopped short short of calling for a change of government.

    Last Modified: 21 Feb 2011 02:54 GMT
    The US, UK and EU all expressed concern at the escalation in violence, but no punitive measures were announced [AFP]

    Western countries have expressed concern at the rising violence against demonstrators in Libya.

    The United States said it was deeply concerned by credible reports of hundreds of deaths and injuries during protests in Libya, and urged the government to allow demonstrators to protest peacefully.

    “The United States is gravely concerned with disturbing reports and images coming out of Libya,” State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said. “We have raised to a number of Libyan officials … our strong objections to the use of lethal force against peaceful demonstrators.”

    The State Department said US embassy dependents were being encouraged to leave Libya and US citizens were urged to defer nonessential travel to the country.

    Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and US ambassador to the UN Susan Rice spoke out against brutal crackdowns on protesters in Libya and Bahrain but stopped short of calling for a change of government in any of the countries facing large protests.

    British Foreign Secretary William Hague said he spoke to Seif al-Islam Gaddafi by phone on Sunday and told him that the country must embark on “dialogue and implement reforms”.

    Libya threat

    Meanwhile, Libya has told the European Union it will stop cooperating on illegal migration if the EU continues to encourage pro-democracy protests in the country, the bloc’s Hungarian presidency said.

    EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton had said during a visit to the region last week that Libya should listen to what protesters were saying and “allow free expression”.

    EU foreign ministers met in Brussels on Sunday to discuss the uprisings across North Africa and the Gulf with the focus expected to be on Egypt and Libya, where there have been days of protests against President Muammar Gaddafi’s 40-year rule.

    Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said Italy, which has widespread business interests in Libya, particularly in the energy sector, was concerned about developments.

    “We are following very closely all the situation. Italy as you know is the closest neighbour, both of Tunisia and Libya, so we are extremely concerned about the repercussions on the migratory situation in southern Mediterranean,” he said.

    Italian oil giant Eni has invested heavily in the oil-and-gas rich country. Libya’s central bank, meanwhile, has a 4 percent share in Italy’s largest bank UniCredit, which last year won the first international license to operate in the North African country.

    Premier Silvio Berlusconi, who has hosted Gaddafi lavishly on his frequent visits to Rome, said on Saturday he was concerned about the situation but had not called Gaddafi himself because he did not want to “disturb” him.

    Libya has frequently threatened to cancel cooperation with the EU on illegal migration in the past. In December, a minister said Libya would scale back efforts to stem the flow of migrants unless the EU paid 5 billion euros ($6.8 billion) a year.

    The International Organization for Migration estimates that migrants from across Africa account for about 10 per cent of Libya’s six million population, although only a minority of those attempt to travel on to Europe to find work.

    The European Commission said in October it would spend 50 million euros to help Libya tackle illegal migration and protect migrants’ rights.



    Gaddafi cruelly resists, but this Arab democratic revolution is far from over

  • The burning question is, where next? After Ben Ali and Mubarak, others may not fall so easily – but most regimes are candidatesThe world has yet to settle on an agreed term for the great events unfolding across the Middle East. I was in the depths of the French countryside – out of touch, and with a BBC World Service that could only fade in and out of hearing late at night and early morning – during their latest, awe-inspiring Egypt phase. But I was soon persuaded that the designation which, in an article in Le Monde, Gilles Kepel, the noted expert on Islamic fundamentalism, assigned them would prove as accurately encapsulating as any. He dubbed them the “Arab democratic revolution”.

    It is definitely, all-encompassingly Arab. The moment one Arab country, Tunisia, lit the spark, it ignited a fire, a contagion, which all Arabs instantly hoped – and its initially mysterious begetters seem to have envisaged or even planned – would spread to the whole “Arab nation”. They all recognised themselves in the aspirations of the Tunisian people, and most appeared to be seized with the belief that if one Arab people could achieve what all had long craved, so could the others.

    It is self-evidently democratic. To be sure, other factors, above all the socio-economic, greatly fuelled it, but the concentration on this single aspect of it, the virtual absence of other factional or ideological slogans has been striking. Indeed, so striking that, some now say, this emergence of democracy as an ideal and politically mobilising force amounts to nothing less than a “third way” in modern Arab history. The first was nationalism, nourished by the experience of European colonial rule and all its works, from the initial great carve-up of the “Arab nation” to the creation of Israel, and the west’s subsequent, continued will to dominate and shape the region. The second, which only achieved real power in non-Arab Iran, was “political Islam”, nourished by the failure of nationalism.

    And it is doubly revolutionary. First, in the very conduct of the revolution itself, and the sheer novelty and creativity of the educated and widely apolitical youth who, with the internet as their tool, kindled it. Second, and more conventionally, in the depth, scale and suddenness of the transformation in a vast existing order that it seems manifestly bound to wreak.

    Arab, yes – but not in the sense of the Arabs going their own away again. Quite the reverse. No other such geopolitical ensemble has so long boasted such a collection of dinosaurs, such inveterate survivors from an earlier, totalitarian era; no other has so completely missed out on the waves of “people’s power” that swept away the Soviet empire and despotisms in Latin America, Asia and Africa. In rallying at last to this now universal, but essentially western value called democracy, they are in effect rejoining the world, catching up with history that has left them behind.

    If it was in Tunis that the celebrated “Arab street” first moved, the country in which – apart from their own – Arabs everywhere immediately hoped that it would move next was Egypt. That would amount to a virtual guarantee that it would eventually come to them all. For, most pivotal, populous and prestigious of Arab states, Egypt was always a model, sometimes a great agent of change, for the whole region. It was during the nationalist era, after President Nasser’s overthrow of the monarchy in 1952, that it most spectacularly played that role. But in a quieter, longer-term fashion, it was also the chief progenitor, through the creation of the Muslim Brotherhood, of the “political Islam” we know today, including – in both the theoretical basis as well as substantially in personnel – the global jihad and al-Qaida that were to become its ultimate, deviant and fanatical descendants.

    But third, and most topically, it was also the earliest and most influential exemplar of the thing which, nearly 60 years on, the Arab democratic revolution is all about. Nasser did seek the “genuine democracy” that he held to be best fitted for the goals of his revolution. But, for all its democratic trappings, it was really a military-led, though populist, autocracy from the very outset; down the years it underwent vast changes of ideology, policy and reputation, but, forever retaining its basic structures, it steadily degenerated into that aggravated, arthritic,deeply oppressive and immensely corrupt version of its original self over which Hosni Mubarak presided. With local variations, the system replicated itself in most Arab autocracies, especially the one-time revolutionary ones like his, but in the older, traditional monarchies too.

    And, sure enough, Egypt’s “street” did swiftly move, and in nothing like the wild and violent manner that the image of the street in action has always tends to conjure up in anxious minds. As a broad and manifestly authentic expression of the people’s will, it accomplished the first, crucial stage of what surely ranks as one of the most exemplary, civilised uprisings in history. The Egyptians feel themselves reborn, the Arab world once more holds Egypt, “mother of the world”, in the highest esteem. And finally – after much artful equivocation as they waited to see whether the pharaoh, for 30 years the very cornerstone of their Middle East, had actually fallen – President Obama and others bestowed on them the unstinting official tributes of the west.

    These plaudits raise the great question: if the Arabs are now rejoining the world what does it mean for the world? Will the adoption of a fundamental western value make it necessarily receptive to western policies or prescriptions? Probably not. Democracy itself, let alone Arab resentment over the west’s long record of upholding the old, despotic order, will militate against that.

    Practically speaking, the Arabs’ “third way” only means that democracy, a political neutral concept in itself, will henceforth serve as their gateway for the conduct of their politics. It doesn’t mean supplanting the first two ways. For the politics of those cannot but persist into the third. Islamism, the west’s great bugbear, will still be there. A democratic order will find it impossible, on its own or any else’s behalf, to do what Nasser once did in the despotic one, execute some Muslim Brotherhood leaders and harshly suppress their followers. It is bound to accommodate them, openly and electorally ceding to them their true weight in Arab affairs, along with that of all other movements in competition with them.

    Nationalism, once the other great western bugbear, will be one of these, and very probably, given the Brotherhood’s less than glorious role in the uprising, it will regain some of the ground it seriously began losing to the Islamists after the shattering Arab defeat of 1967.

    A key, perhaps the key, element in America’s now sorely stricken Middle East strategies has always been about the Arab-Israeli conflict. With Islamism and nationalism, not to mention other political forces, freely expressing themselves, an Egyptian democracy will not, cannot, continue to play the role – utterly subservient, if not frankly treasonable, in many Arab eyes – that Mubarak did on behalf of the US and Israel. How significant this particular Egyptian-American divergence becomes remains to be seen. But most Israelis already see it as a calamity in the making, with the ironic consequence that the self-styled “only democracy in the Middle East” now leads the field in proclaiming that democracy should never have been for the Arabs.

    But all this is looking ahead. For the time being, the burning questions will be about where the Arab democratic revolution strikes next. Though Europe 1989 is the obvious precedent, the kings and presidents may not fall like dominoes as the Honeckers and Ceausescus did. And, in the wake of Ben Ali and Mubarak, others may not fall so easily or prettily either. That is already apparent from the two latest, and most dramatic, episodes in the almost unceasing pro-democracy turbulence that already grips a good half-dozen Arab countries. The 200-year old Bahraini monarchy may have currently retreated into an attempt at dialogue and reconciliation, but this tight-knit, Sunni-minority regime has already shown how tenacious and tough – and bloody – it can be in the face of its Shia-majority uprising. As for Libya, there could hardly ever have been much doubt that, confronted with his uprising, Colonel Gaddafi, cruellest and most capricious of Arab dictators, would seek to do, in the grand manner, what he has always openly proclaimed he would do to any opponent of his 42-year-old Great Socialist People’s Libyan Arab State of the Masses: which is to “cut them to pieces”.

    But most regimes are candidates. Among the few likely exceptions, perhaps the most important, and certainly the most apt, is Lebanon, to which I have now returned. Ever turbulent, ever the most of exposed of Arabs to the consequences of what other Arabs do, it might logically seem destined to be among the first to go. But it isn’t – mainly because, alone in the region, it has always been a democracy of sorts.

    Uit het archief van de VPRO- De Libische Revolutie (1969)



    Een, zeker vanuit het heden beschouwd, zowel onthullende, maar ook ontluisterende documentaire van Roelof Kiers uit 1969 over de staatsgreep van Gadaffi en de zijnen. Toen nog met enige bewondering en sympathie voor de groep jonge officieren, die een einde maakte aan het semi-koloniale bewind van Koning Idris. Verbijsterend om het, met de wetenschap van nu, terug te zien. Maar achteraf praten is altijd makkelijk


    Inside Story


    Crushing Libya’s revolt


    The unrest in Libya started as a series of protests, but was met by a fierce security crackdown.

    Inside Story Last Modified: 21 Feb 2011 12:59
     Across Libya, protesters are still calling for Muammar Gaddafi to leave.More than 200 anti-government protesters were killed during the last few days of violence in the Libyan city of Benghazi.Witnesses from Benghazi say that dozens of people were killed on Saturday when troops opened fire on anti-government protesters in the city.They also spoke of snipers firing at protesters from rooftops and a number of foreign mercenaries from sub-Saharan Africa being brought in to attack protesters.Some of those mercenaries were caught by protesters and confessed that they had received instructions to fire live bullets at demonstrators.Will Muammar Gaddafi’s regime prevail where others fell to the will of the people?Joining us to discuss these issues are: Aly Khan Satchu, a financial analyst and the CEO of Rich Investment; Ian Black, a Middle East editor of The Guardian; and Ashur Shamis, a Libyan opposition activist.This episode of Inside Story aired from Sunday, February 20, 2011.
    Al Jazeera


    Libya protests spread and intensify


    More than 60 people reported dead in the capital, as anti-government demonstrations escalate across the country.

    Last Modified: 21 Feb 2011 16:15 GMT
    More than 60 people have been reported dead after more violence in the Libyan capital as angry protests against Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi’s 40-year rule escalate across the country.At least 61 people were killed in clashes in Tripoli on Monday, witnesses told Al Jazeera. The protests appeared to be gathering momentum, with demonstrators saying they had taken control of several key towns in the country.News of the spreading violence came as a privately run Libyan newspaper reported that the country’s justice minister had resigned over the deadly force used against protesters.Ahmad Jibreel, a Libyan diplomat, spoke to Al Jazeera on Monday and confirmed that the minister had sided with the protesters.

    Live Blog

    “I was speaking to the minister of justice just a few minutes ago… he told me personally, he told me he had joined the supporters. He is trying to organise good things in all cities,” he said.

    Jibreel also told Al Jazeera that key cities near Libya’s border with Egypt were now in the hands of protesters, which he said would enable foreign media to now enter the country.

    “Gaddafi’s guards started shooting people in the second day and they shot two people only. We had on that day in Al Bayda city only 300 protesters. When they killed two people, we had more than 5,000 at their funeral, and when they killed 15 people the next day, we had more than 50,000 the following day.

    “This means that the more Gaddafi kills people, the more people go into the streets.”

    Civil war warning

    His comments came hours after Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, a son of the Libyan leader, warned of a civil war if anti-government protests continue to spread in the country.

    Speaking on state television in the early hours of Monday morning, Saif Gaddafi blamed thugs, inmates, foreigners and Islamists for the unrest that has spread across the country since February 14.

    He promised a conference on constitutional reforms within two days and said Libyans should “forget oil and petrol” and prepare themselves for occupation by “the West” if they failed to agree.

    The younger Gaddafi contrasted the situation in Libya with revolts earlier this year in Egypt and Tunisia, where longtime rulers were forced step down or fled in the face of mass popular discontent.

    Protesters in Libya have similarly called for Muammar Gaddafi’s ousting, but his son warned against this, saying “Libya is different, if there is disturbance it will split into several states”.

    “You can say we want democracy and rights, we can talk about it, we should have talked about it before. It’s this or war. Instead of crying over 200 deaths, we will cry over hundreds of thousands of deaths.

    “Brothers, there are $200bn worth of projects at stake now. We will agree to all these issues immediately. We will then be able to keep our country, unlike our neighbours.

    “Or else, be ready to start a civil war and chaos and forget oil and petrol.”

    But his statements have failed to hinder demonstrations. Protesters say they have taken control of several key towns, including the eastern city of Benghazi. Al Bayda and Sabha were also said to have been taken over by protesters.

    Tripoli violence

    Following Saif Gaddafi’s speech, witnesses in Tripoli reported an escalation of violence, as supporters of his father flooded into the city’s central square and confronted anti-government protesters.


    Twitter Reaction

    Libya Protests

    Yamatatsu0812 profile

    Yamatatsu0812 RT @AJELive: Reuters: UK foreign minister William Hague says he’s seen intel that #Gaddafi on his way to Venezuela. keep up: http://aje.me/g34XgM #Libya 12 seconds ago · reply


      25 new tweets

    busybrains profile

    busybrains RT @AJELive: Reuters: UK foreign minister William Hague says he’s seen intel that #Gaddafi on his way to Venezuela. keep up: http://aje.me/g34XgM #Libya 42 seconds ago · reply

    cowrin profile

    cowrin RT @AJELive: Reuters: UK foreign minister William Hague says he’s seen intel that #Gaddafi on his way to Venezuela. keep up: http://aje.me/g34XgM #Libya 35 seconds ago · reply

    Jnoubiyeh profile

    Jnoubiyeh The death toll keeps rising in #Libya. At least 500 Libyans are estimated to have been murdered by #Gaddafi since the uprising began. #Feb17 yesterday · reply 500+ recent retweets

    Armed men in uniform fired into the crowds, witnesses said, and continuous gunfire could be heard in the background of recorded phone calls from the capital released to journalists by Libyans living abroad.

    Saif Gaddafi admitted that some military bases, tanks and weapons had been seized and acknowledged that the army, under stress, opened fire on crowds because it was not used to controlling demonstrations.

    Though human rights groups have said that hundreds of protesters have died, a toll they still described as “conservative,” Saif Gaddafi said that numbers had been exaggerated.

    He said there were 14 dead in Tripoli and 84 in Benghazi, Libya’s second-largest city and the site of some of the bloodiest security crackdowns.

    In a new estimate released on Sunday, Human Rights Watch said at least 233 people have died so far.

    Doctors and eyewitnesses throughout Libya have offered widely varying death toll but have reported many hundreds of injured, even in Benghazi alone.

    ‘Desperate speech’

    Marwan Bishara, Al Jazeera’s senior political analyst, said Saif Gaddafi’s speech appeared “desperate”.

    “It sounded like a desperate speech by a desperate son of a dictator who’s trying to use blackmail on the Libyan people by threatening that he could turn the country into a bloodbath,” Bishara said.

    “That is very dangerous coming from someone who doesn’t even hold an official role in Libya – so in so many ways, this could be the beginning of a nightmare scenario for Libya if a despotic leader puts his son on air in order to warn his people of a bloodbath if they don’t listen to the orders or the dictates of a dictators.”

    “It’s also fascinating how he threatened the West with chaos in Libya and then threatened Libyans with Western intervention, because, as he put it, that would turn Libya into a decentralised country allowing various Islamist groups to take over, which the West would not allow,” Bishara said.

    Awad Elfeituri from the Libyan Information Centre in Qatar told Al Jazeera that the young Gaddafi “is in a state of panic now. I think he is trying to send a message to the west, I don’t think he was talking to the Libyan people”.

    Elfeituri said the Gaddafi regime was still trying to do its best to hold onto power. “I don’t think they will surrender easily,” he said.

    Al Jazeera and agencies


    Report: Libyan protesters fired on


    Security forces using fighter jets launch operations against anti-Gaddafi march in Tripoli.

    Yasmine Ryan Last Modified: 21 Feb 2011 16:36 GMT
    Reports say live ammuntion is being used against protesters marching on the compound of Muammar Gaddafi, the Libyan leader.The Libyan News Centre (LNC) based in Geneva, Switzerland, announced on Monday afternoon that Libyan security forces were killing protesters in Tripoli.Ahmed Elgazir, a human rights researcher, said the LNC received a call for help from a woman “witnessing the massacre in progress who called on a satellite phone”.Phone lines in the country have been blocked, making it impossible to verify the information.
    Al Jazeera




    Israeli media ‘fears’ the new Egypt

    Israel’s media presents Egyptian democracy as a threat, with one commentator lamenting the end of colonialism.
    Neve Gordon Last Modified: 21 Feb 2011 16:04 GMT
    Israeli media changed its tone, first arguing that Hosni Mubarak’s government would not fall, and later worrying about the implications for Israel [GALLO/GETTY] 

    Over the past three weeks the Israeli media has been extremely interested in Egypt.

    During the climatic days of the unprecedented demonstrations, television news programmes spent most of their airtime covering the protests, while the daily papers dedicated half the news and opinion pages to the unfolding events.

    Rather than excitement at watching history in the making, however, the dominant attitude here, particularly on television, was of anxiety– a sense that the developments in Egypt were inimical to Israel’s interests. Egypt’s revolution, in other words, was bad news.

    It took a while for Israel’s experts on “Arab Affairs” to get a grip on what was happening. During the early days of unrest, the recurrent refrain was that “Egypt is not Tunis”.

    Commentators assured the public that the security apparatuses in Egypt are loyal to the regime and that consequently there was little if any chance that President Hosni Mubarak’s government would fall.

    Media switch

    Once it became clear that this line of analysis was erroneous, most commentators followed Prime Minister Binyamin  Netanyahu’s lead and criticised President Barack Obama’s Administration for not supporting Mubarak. The Foreign News editor of one channel noted that: “The fact that the White House is permitting the protests is reason for worry;” while the prominent political analyst Ben Kaspit expressed his longing for President George W. Bush.

    “We remember 2003 when George Bush invaded and took over Iraq with a sense of yearning”, Ben Kaspit wrote. “Libya immediately changed course and allied itself with the West. Iran suspended its military nuclear program. Arafat was harnessed. Syria shook with fear. Not that the invasion of Iraq was a wise move (not at all, Iran is the real problem, not Iraq), but in the Middle East whoever does not walk around with a big bat in his hand receives the bat on his head.”

    Israeli commentators are equivocal on the issue of Egyptian democracy.  One columnist explained that it takes years for democratic institutions to be established and for people to internalise the practices appropriate for democracy, while Amir Hazroni from NRG went so far as to write an ode to colonialism:

    “When we try to think how and why the United States and the West lost Egypt, Tunis, Yemen and perhaps other countries in the Middle East, people forget that. The original sin began right after WWII, when a wonderful form of government that protected security and peace in the Middle East (and in other parts of the Third Word) departed from this world following pressure from the United States and Soviet Union… More than sixty years have passed since the Arab states and the countries of Africa were liberated from the ‘colonial yoke,’ but there still isn’t an Arab university, an African scientist or a Middle Eastern consumer product that has made a mark on our world.”

    Fear and the brotherhood

    While only a few commentators are as reactionary as Hazroni, an Orientalist perspective permeated most of the discussion about Egypt, thus helping to bolster the already existing Jewish citizenry’s fear of Islam. Political Islam is constantly presented and conceived as an ominous force that is antithetical to democracy.

    Thus, in the eyes of Israeli analysts, the protestors- that Facebook and Twitter generation- are deserving of empathy but also extremely naïve. There is a shared sense that their fate will end up being identical to that of the Iranian intellectuals who led the protests against the Shah.

    Channel Two’s expert on “Arab Affairs” explained that: “The fact that you do not see the Muslim Brotherhood does not mean they are not there,” and another expert warned his viewers not to “be misled by ElBaradei’s Viennese spirit, behind him is the Muslim Brotherhood.”

    According to these pundits, the Muslim Brotherhood made a tactical decision not to distribute Islamists banners or to take an active part in leading the protests. One commentator declared that if the Muslim Brotherhood wins, then “elections are the end of the [democratic] process, not its beginning,” while an anchorman for Channel Ten asked former Minister Binyamin Ben Eliezer whether “the person who says to himself: ‘How wonderful, at last the state of Egypt is a democracy,’ is naïve?”

    The Minister responded: “Allow me even to laugh. We wanted a democracy in Iran and in Gaza. The person who talks like this is ignoring the fact that for over a decade there has been a struggle of giants between the Sunni and Shia with tons of blood spilled. The person who talks about democracy does not live in the reality we live in.”

    Democratic threat

    Ben-Eliezer’s response is telling, not least because it is well known that Israel supported the Shah regime in Iran and has not proven itself to be a particularly staunch supporter of Palestinian democracy. Democracy in the Middle East is, after all, conceived by this and prior Israeli governments as a threat to Israel’s interests.

    Dan Margalit, a well-known commentator, made this point clear when he explained that Israel does not disapprove of a democracy in the largest Arab country but simply privileges Israel’s peace agreement with Egypt over internal Arab affairs.

    Israel, one should note, is not alone in this self-serving approach; most western countries constantly lament the absence of democracy in the Arab world, while supporting the dictators and helping them remain in office. In English this kind of approach has a very clear name – it is called hypocrisy.

    Neve Gordon is the author of Israel’s Occupation and can be reached through his website.

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

    Al Jazeera

    Dit geluid was al een tijdje herkenbaar bij de diverse pro-Israël bloggers/propagandisten/ Hasbaristen, zoals bijvoorbeeld bij de op dit blog eerder besproken Ratna Pelle (zie  https://fhs1973.wordpress.com/2010/01/25/een-repliek-aan-ratna-pelle-beroepspropagandiste-hysterische-zioniste-en-palestijnenbasher/). Op haar blog staan bijvoorbeeld de volgende jammerklachten te lezen:

    ‘Het is een cliché te stellen dat niemand een maand geleden had kunnen vermoeden dat de Arabische wereld op zijn kop zou staan, en dat massale protesten zouden leiden tot op zijn minst flinke hervormingen, en waarschijnlijk regime change in verschillende Arabische staten. De geschiedenis blijkt keer op keer onvoorspelbaar en grillig. En ook nu hebben we geen idee hoe het er over een maand voorstaat, of de rust is weergekeerd of dat als dominostenen de ene na de andere dictator zal vallen. In zo’n geval vragen de media experts om hun mening, die dan met een ernstig gezicht komen vertellen hoe het zit en dat we ons geen zorgen hoeven maken. In Nieuwsuur legt Bertus Hendriks dagelijks uit dat we niet bang hoeven zijn voor de Moslim Broederschap (MB), want die zijn niet gewelddadig en bovendien heeft de gematigde tak nu de overhand. Ook Frans Timmermans mag regelmatig aanschuiven om te verkondigen dat als het Westen zich eenduidig achter de protesten schaart, het nieuwe regime ons heus goed gezind zal zijn, en Europa wat dit betreft het voorbeeld moet geven. Overigens heeft Amerika Mubarak al laten vallen, en volgens sommigen heeft dat eraan bijgedragen dat hij hoogstwaarschijnlijk binnenkort zal aftreden. Op internet kom ik echter heel andere informatie tegen over de MB, zoals dat zij de jihad tegen zowel Israel als het Westen wel degelijk steunt’ (http://www.zionism-israel.com/blog/archives/00000533.html)


    ‘Avond aan avond laten deskundologen hun speculaties, hoop, bezorgdheid en verwachtingen wat betreft de situatie in Egypte op ons los. Er is een algemeen gevoel dat we getuigen zijn van historische gebeurtenissen. Optimisten maken graag een vergelijking met Oost Europa, pessimisten met Iran. We zijn een pluriform land, met vrijheid van meningsuiting, een vrije pers, een leger aan journalisten en analisten en deskundigen en politici van allerlei gezindten en achtergronden. Tenminste dat dacht ik. Maar als je op Nieuwsuur en Pauw en Witteman afgaat, bekruipt je weleens het gevoel dat wij hier ook een soort staats-tv hebben, waar bepaalde meningen steeds maar weer worden verkondigd en andere nooit te horen zijn.

    Voor die andere meningen moet je op duistere blogs en zionistische websites zijn (je neemt me de woorden uit de mond, FS 🙂 ), of er de Israelische kranten op naslaan, ik bedoel, opgoogelen. Daar lees je dan bijvoorbeeld dat de Moslim Broederschap het vredesverdrag met Israel wil opzeggen en democratie slechts als een middel ziet om de macht te grijpen. Daar lees je hoe voor- en tegenstanders van Mubarak Israel de schuld geven van de problemen in hun land, en dat ook de Palestijnse premier, de als zeer gematigd bekendstaande Salam Fayyad, Israel de schuld geeft voor de problemen in Egypte. Daar lees je dat Israel decennialang als zondebok en uitlaatklep voor de onvrede in Egypte (en andere Arabische staten) fungeerde, dat Mubarak dat bewust aanwakkerde en je voor kontakten met Israel in de gevangenis kon belanden. En daar lees je dat Hamas aanhangers nu relatief makkelijk de grens met de Gazastrook oversteken.

    Een frappant bericht in de Jerusalem Post meldde dat er nu goederen de Gazastrook UIT worden gesmokkeld om de bevolking in Egypte te voeden. Door de onrust worden de winkels in de Sinaï niet fatsoenlijk meer bevoorraad, en blijkbaar is er na anderhalve week van protesten meer voedsel in ‘concentratiekamp Gaza‘ dan in de Sinaï. Dat lijkt mij toch opzienbarend nieuws, nadat hulporganisaties, journalisten en mensenrechtenactivisten jarenlang de noodklok luidden over de humanitaire ramp in Gaza die door het westen geheel genegeerd zou worden.

    Verschillende deskundologen noemden de Moslim Broederschap van de week een soort CDA, CU of SGP, kortom een democratische religieuze partij waar we verder niks van te vrezen hebben. Dat doet niet alleen onrecht aan de huidige standpunten en de geschiedenis van de MB, maar ook aan de verschillen tussen het Midden-Oosten en Nederland. Het is een fout die veel wordt gemaakt. Het is gelukkig uit de tijd om over wilde, primitieve of exotische Arabieren te spreken, maar feit is dat het een heel andere regio is met een andere culturele en religieuze traditie, een andere mentaliteit en een geheel andere manier van politiek bedrijven. Paul Brill maakte dat heel mooi duidelijk in dit vermakelijke stukje.(http://www.zionism-israel.com/blog/archives/00000534.html)

    enz. enz. enz…… 🙂 Terug naar Libië


    What next for the ‘Mad Dog’ of Libya?

    By Jamal Elshayyal in
  • on February 21st, 2011.





    Photo by AFP

    2011 has already proven lie to the idea that the Arab world ever needed foreign help in order to achieve democracy; and now it could prove false the notion that the American administration and other Western governments ever cared about human rights or self determination. Unfortunately, this will be done through the massacring of hundreds if not thousands of innocent Libyans.

    It has already become apparent that fear and apathy no longer cripple the Arab world, the volcano that is the Middle East of today is no longer dormant, and as it begins to erupt, those who foolishly continue to try and suppress it eventually burn or melt away. 

    For decades, the Arab world has settled for corrupt, ignorant, treacherous despots as their leaders. For a generation, and in some cases two, Arabs lived in constant fear of expressing dissent, a fear so crippling it deemed them useless, incompetent and ultimately irrelevant . But the region has now been revived by its youth who have shown in Tunisia, Egypt and now Libya that they know no fear, that they would rather die standing than live on their knees. 

    But still, like with Egypt, the West fails to see the inevitability of freedom, America and Britain fail to understand that they can not continue to do business with dictators and still say they are “friends of the people”.

    The European Union buys 79 per cent of Libya’s oil. American companies and expats have practically taken over parts of Libya in recent years as the “free world” began to flirt with Gaddafi in the most scandalous of relationships. How can Europe put pressure on the Libyan government (freezing personal assets of Gaddafi for example) to immediately stop the butchering of innocent civilians when 10 per cent of Europe’s oil originates in Libya?

    America and most of Western Europe have already taught us how the equation works: Oil – Arab blood = Positive, Arab Blood – Oil = Negative. 

    In the past few days I have spoken to people in Benghazi, in Beyda, in Tripoli and I’ve heard accounts of 60 innocent young men being gunned down in a police station. People I’ve spoken to on the phone have since gone missing, picked up by Libyan intelligence, their fate – only God knows. 

    Gaddafi’s son, Saif, has threatened to kill hundreds of thousands of Libyans – on TV. What was the reaction from “the free world”?

    Despite the horrific barbarism used by Gaddafi to try and suppress his people, Libyans remain steadfast, determined to realise their dream of living in a democratic and free country. But they do this in spite of “the free world”, they do this despite the best efforts of Washington, London and Rome, all of whom have and continue to prop up Gaddafi.

    It amazes me why these governments fail to realise that we no longer live in a world where oppression is okay. I am baffled as to how those working in the State Department have yet to comprehend that the Middle East is no longer their playground, the Arab people will no longer be subjected to the dictatorial rule of puppet despots propped up by greedy, racist and corrupt regimes. 

    2011 is proving to be a turning point, a new beginning for the free people of this region, from what I hear, see and know about the Arab people, they want nothing more than to embark on this new beginning with their fellow free humans in the West; its a shame that Western governments seem to be as opposed to freedom and democracy as the despots who have ruled the Arab world for decades. 


    Gaddafi hits with deadly force


    Libya’s official news agency blames Israel for unrest, as security forces attack protesters.

    Emad Mekay Last Modified: 21 Feb 2011 14:33
    Protests against the Libyan leader have been taking place in London and around the world [GALLO/GETTY] 

    Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi has unleashed a bloody crackdown against pro-democracy protestors seeking his ouster, killing dozens of people in only four days of protests.

    On Sunday, the unrest spread to capital Tripoli from the eastern port city Benghazi.

    Libyan Internet activists have denounced the international community’s failure to act over the “massacres” in Libya.

    The Cairo-based Arab Organisation for Human Rights has decried the use of violence against the protestors in Libya and called for an international investigation. The Vienna-based Friends of Humanity said the Libyan regime’s onslaught was tantamount to “war crimes”.

    There are conflicting reports on the death toll but it is generally believed to be in the hundreds now.

    Human Rights Watch reports that 173 people had died prior to Monday. The London-based private newspaper Libya Al-Youm quoted a local doctor as saying that 285 people died in the eastern city of Benghazi alone.

    Some 300 people have been killed in Benghazi, the country’s second largest city, witnesses told Al Jazeera by phone.

    The crackdown by Gaddafi, who has ruled Libya since 1969, threatens to make the revolt the most costly in terms of human lives and bloodshed in the wave of demonstrations sweeping across the region for greater freedoms.

    Gaddafi, trying to stave off the fate of the presidents of Tunisia and Egypt who were removed from power after facing similar protests, has resorted to much harsher military tactics than those used in uprisings in neighbouring Egypt or Tunisia.

    His tactics include cutting off food, fuel and medical supplies as well as electricity to revolting cities. The regime also cut off most communications to try to make sure the unrest does not spread to other cities. But the move failed to prevent protests erupting in capital Tripoli on Sunday.

    Pan-Arab news outlets report that Gaddafi’s troops have used live ammunition and heavy military equipment such as anti-tank missiles in Benghazi. Late on Sunday fierce clashes were being reported in Tripoli.

    Libya Al Youm reported on its website on Sunday that the regime was using “heavy weapons” and shooting at random.

    The newspaper also carried a call for urgent supplies for Benghazi hospitals including blood.

    “Muammar Gaddafi’s security forces are firing on Libyan citizens and killing scores simply because they’re demanding change and accountability,” said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch.

    On top of its military response, the Gaddafi regime is trying to paint the revolt as a foreign plot to destabilise the country – a tool used by many other Arab regimes. After a long history of colonisation by Western powers and by Israel in the Palestinian territories, Arab people are deeply mistrustful of foreign interference.

    The official Libyan News Agency (JANA) reported Sunday that the government was fighting an Israeli-inspired scheme to create anarchy in the country. It said that there were no genuine popular grievances behind the protests.

    Israel is financing “separation” forces in the Arab region, JANA added.

    Al-Shams newspaper, which is controlled by an arm of the information ministry in Tripoli, reported online that the government has exposed “foreign network elements” in several Libyan cities.

    But online posts by Libyans and anti-Gaddafi demonstrators show that the protestors want regime change and democracy.

    Most of the uprising has so far centred around Eastern cities, especially the Mediterranean city of Benghazi. Protests were also reported in Baida, Ajdabiya, Zawiya and Derna before spreading to Tripoli.

    The protests started Feb. 17 after Internet activists called for a “Day of Rage” against political and economic conditions for Libyans under Gaddafi.

    On Sunday, the website, LibyaFeb17.com carried tweets and posts condemning the global indifference over the harsh tactics by Gaddafi’s troops.

    “It is precisely this silence that is a very serious issue in this terrifying situation,” said one post.

    The post came after Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said Saturday he will not “bother” Gaddafi over the violent incidents.

    In 2009, the Libyan government invested in Eni, an Italian oil company that has been operating in Libya since 1959. Eni is Libya’s largest foreign oil producer.

    Britain had said on Friday it was revoking arms export licences for Libya and Bahrain, another Arab country whose government is fighting popular protests. The ban will limit tear gas and ammunition sales that could be used to suppress protests.

    Gaddafi had tried earlier to appear unruffled over the removal of two of his erstwhile allies, Hosni Mubarak of Egypt and Zine El Abidine Ben Ali of Tunisia.

    The state-sponsored Al-Jamahiriya TV, beamed via satellite to Arab countries, aired live interviews with officials and pundits calling for calm and “opening a dialogue.”

    The officials explained that the government was spending “hundreds of millions” of dollars on making Libyans’ life better through investing in infrastructure, roads, schools and universities.

    Libya’s Al-Jamahiriya 2 was airing songs praising Gaddafi and eulogising his achievements. But the violent reaction is seen as an indication of the threat Gaddafi perceives.

    A version of this article first appeared on the Inter Press Service News Agency.



    ‘Bloedbad in Tripoli’

    Dassault Mirage F1 van de Libische luchtmacht op het luchthaven van Malta» Dassault Mirage F1 van de Libische luchtmacht op het luchthaven van Malta AFP

    Toegevoegd: maandag 21 feb 2011, 18:15

    Update: maandag 21 feb 2011, 23:10

    De volksopstand in Libië is ook vandaag uitgelopen op een bloedbad. Op veel plaatsen zijn betogers gedood door het leger in een nieuwe poging de opstand de kop in te drukken.

    Straaljagers, helikopters en tanks openden het vuur overal waar demonstranten waren, zeggen ooggetuigen. Alleen al in de hoofdstad Tripoli zouden volgens de zender al-Arabiya 160 mensen zijn omgekomen. “Dit is onvoorstelbaar. Oorlogsvliegtuigen bombarderen het ene gebied na het andere. Er zijn veel, heel veel doden”, zegt de politieke activist Adel Mohamed Saleh. “Ons volk gaat dood, het is de tactiek van de verschroeide aarde.”

    Volgens hem was een begrafenisstoet in Tripoli het eerste doelwit van de beschietingen. Nu werd er overal gebombardeerd. “Het gaat maar door, het gaat maar door. Iedereen die beweegt, is een doelwit.”

    Eerder kwamen er al berichten dat vliegtuigen met scherp schoten op betogers die zich op het plein voor het paleis van de Libische leider hadden verzameld. Ook zijn er tanks ingezet. Volgens Saleh richten de militairen zich op alles wat beweegt. “Wie met zijn auto de straat op gaat, wordt geraakt.”

    Said Kadhafi, de zoon van de Libische leider, ontkent dat de luchtmacht bombardementen heeft uitgevoerd op demonstranten in Tripoli. Hij beweert dat het leger de eigen munitiedepots heeft gebombardeerd in afgelegen gebieden en niet in wijken in Tripoli en Benghazi.


    Twee Libische luchtmachtpiloten zijn vanmiddag uit protest tegen het harde optreden van Kadhafi met twee straaljagers uitgeweken naar Malta.

    De twee kolonels vertelden de Maltese autoriteten dat zij de opdracht hadden gekregen om betogers in Benghazi te bombarderen. Toen andere piloten daarmee begonnen, veranderden ze van koers en vlogen met hun Mirages naar Malta.

    De twee zouden op Malta asiel willen aanvragen.

    Militairen doodgeschoten

    Ook in andere Libische steden is het nog steeds onrustig. Er zijn overheidsgebouwen in brand gestoken. Ook zijn er meldingen dat gebouwen van de staatsmedia zijn geplunderd. Volgens een Libische krant hebben de protesten zich uitgebreid naar de kuststad Ras Lanuf. Ooggetuigen zeggen dat in Benghazi een aantal militairen door officieren is doodgeschoten toen die weigerden op demonstranten te schieten.

    Verschillende bronnen melden dat de betogers de macht in Benghazi en Sert inmiddels hebben overgenomen. Ze zouden overheidsgebouwen hebben bezet.

    Omdat Libië geen journalisten toestaat, is het onmogelijk de berichten te verifiëren.

    De Libische staatstelevisie meldde vandaag dat veiligheidsdiensten “de schuilplaatsen bestormen van terroristen die Libië haten”.


    De Britse minister van Buitenlandse Zaken William Hague zegt dat hij aanwijzingen heeft dat de Libische leider Kadhafi mogelijk op weg is naar Venezuela. Het is niet duidelijk waar minister Hague zich op baseert.

    Gisteravond waren er ook berichten dat Kadhafi het land had verlaten. Tegen de verwachting in sprak hij niet zelf het volk toe, maar deed zijn zoon dat. De Libische leider heeft goede banden met de Venezolaanse president Hugo Chávez.

    De Libische staatssecretaris van Buitenlandse Zaken ontkent dat Kadhafi is gevlucht naar Venezuela. Ook bronnen binnen de regering van Venezuela ontkennen dat Kadhafi onderweg is naar het land. De minister van Informatie noemt de berichten “onwaar”, maar ging er verder niet op in.

    Europe’s interests in Libya


    EU countries have criticised Libya for a crackdown on protesters, potentially straining lucrative trade relations.

    Last Modified: 21 Feb 2011 20:24 GMT
    The West forged close ties with Libya after Gaddafi agreed to end production of weapons of mass destruction [EPA] 

    The European Union has condemned Libya for its crackdown on opposition protesters, but for many nations in the bloc, straining ties with Tripoli presents an awkward situation.

    Western nations forged close trade ties with the north African nation after Muammar Gaddafi agreed in 2003 to end the production of weapons of mass destruction, ending nearly two decades of sanctions.

    European energy firms were quick to invest in the holder of Africa’s largest proven oil reserves, the eighth-largest in the world, while many others signed lucrative arms and construction deals.

    Tony Blair, Britain’s former prime minister, signed a so-called “Deal in the Desert” in March 2004, which paved the way for oil contracts worth billions, leading to a close relationship that has come under increasing criticism.

    Oil deals

    It included Anglo-Dutch company Shell signing an agreement worth up to $1bn and three years later BP agreeing its largest exploration commitment to date, in a deal worth at least $900m in Libya.

    It sparked significant controversy around the world and led to US claims that BP lobbied Britain for the release of Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi, the man convicted of the 1988 Lockerbie bombing.

    The Italian government of Silvio Berlusconi has also strengthened its ties with Tripoli in recent years, taking the largest proportion of oil from Libya for its national needs.

    At the end of 2008, Italy’s energy company Eni was operating 13 oil and gas permits and its production was 306,000 barrels per day of oil equivalent, about one-fifth of Britain’s total daily oil production.

    Spain’s Repsol also has rights to 15 hydrocarbon blocks.


    Arms deals with Libya have also proved contentious, particularly in light of the recent crackdown.

    In August 2007 France signed contracts with Libya to sell anti-tank missiles and radio communications equipment worth a reported $405m. The European aerospace and defence giant EADS now has an office in Tripoli, and has sold civilian aircraft to the country.

    According to the Campaign Against Arms trade, the UK licensed over $6m worth of ammunition to Libya, including sniper rifles.

    Russia also announced a small-arms and weapons deal to the value of $1.8bn in January 2010, worth nearly a quarter of its state arms exports.

    A building boom in Libya has also seen strong investment from Turkey, which has around 200 construction companies in the country working on projects worth an estimated $15.3bn.

    Sovereign wealth has also attracted business ties from Europe.

    Many of the investments made by the $65bn sovereign wealth fund have been in Italian stocks. It holds a 4.6 per cent stake in Italy’s second-biggest bank, Unicredit and has a small stake in car maker Fiat, the Reuters news agency reported.

    European nations are also interested in preserving relations with Libya for the sake of national security.

    Italy, the closest entry gate for illegal migrants attempting to enter the EU, is especially concerned about an influx of refugees, following the crisis in Tunisia.

    Tripoli has already warned it could suspend co-operation in the fight against illegal immigration if European countries continue to criticise its action against protesters.

    Al Jazeera and agencies


    Libya protests spread and intensify


    Diplomats resign and air force officers defect as Gaddafi government resorts to shooting and bombing to crush uprising.

    Last Modified: 21 Feb 2011 22:14 GMT
    Protests against Gaddafi’s rule have prompted harsh reprisals in several cities, including the capital Tripoli [Reuters]

    Scores of people have been reported killed in continuing violence in the Libyan capital, Tripoli, amid escalating protests against Muammar Gaddafi’s 40-year rule across the north African nation.

    Deep cracks were showing and Gaddafi seemed to be losing vital support, as Libyan government officials at home and abroad resigned, air force pilots defected and major government buildings were targeted during clashes in the capital.

    At least 61 people were killed in Tripoli on Monday, witnesses told Al Jazeera. The protests appeared to be gathering momentum, with demonstrators saying they had taken control of several important towns and the city of Benghazi, to the east of Tripoli.

    Protesters called on Monday for another night of defiance against Gaddafi, despite a harsh security crackdown by his government.

    A huge anti-government march in Tripoli on Monday afternoon came under attack by security forces using fighter jets and live ammunition, witnesses told Al Jazeera.

    Libyan authorities have cut all landline and wireless communication in the country, making it impossible to verify the report.

    As violence flared, the Reuters news agency quoted William Hague, the British foreign secretary, as saying he had seen some information to suggest that Gaddafi had fled Libya and was on his way to Venezuela.

    But Al Jazeera’s Dima Khatib, reporting from the Venezuelan capital, Caracas, said government officials there denied that Gaddafi was on his way to the South American country.

    Live Blog

    The Libyan deputy foreign minister also denied that Gaddafi had fled the country.

    With reports of large-scale military operations under way in Tripoli, a spokesperson for Ban Ki-moon said the UN chief held extensive discussions with Gaddafi on Monday, condemned the escalating violence in Libya and told him that it “must stop immediately”.

    ” … The secretary-general underlined the need to ensure the protection of the civilian population under any circumstances. He urged all parties to exercise restraint and called upon the authorities to engage in broad-based dialogue to address legitimate concerns of the population,” Ban’s spokesperson said.

    For this part, several Libyan diplomats at the country’s UN mission called on Gaddafi to step down.

    Ibrahim Dabbashi, the deputy ambassador, said that if Gaddafi did not relinquish power, “the Libyan people [would] get rid of him”.

    “We don’t agree with anything the regime is doing … we are here to serve the Libyan people,” he told Al Jazeera.

    Plea for no-fly zone

    Dabbashi urged the international community to impose a no-fly zone over Libya to prevent mercenaries, weapons and other supplies from reaching Gaddafi and his security forces.

    He said the Libyan diplomats were urging the International Criminal Court, the Netherlands-based body, to investigate possible crimes against humanity in the Libyan context.

    Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabr Al-Thani, Qatar’s prime minister and foreign minister, called for an extraordinary meeting of the Arab League to take place on Tuesday. The aim is to discuss the current crisis in Libya and to put additional “pressure” on the government, he told Al Jazeera.

    Talking to Al Jazeera, Libya’s deputy ambassador to the UN Ibrahim Dabbashi condemns Gaddafi’s regime

    Hamad bin Jassim said the international community must act now. “I feel a big sympathy for the Libyan people. We don’t accept using force in this way or any way against the people or against any nation from their governments,” he said.

    “And we make our declaration in this space and we think that the international community should also take a stand against what is happening in Libya at the moment.”

    “I think the [UN] Security Council has to play a role. The condemnation is not enough … I think the five permanent members and others, they should take the responsibility and do something to help the civillian people in Libya, because what is happening is not acceptable in any way.”

    Earlier in on Monday, Ahmed Elgazir, a human-rights researcher at the Libyan News Centre (LNC) in Geneva, Switzerland, told Al Jazeera that security forces were “massacring” protesters in Tripoli.

    Elgazir said the LNC received a call for help from a woman “witnessing the massacre in progress who called on a satellite phone”.

    Earlier, a privately run local newspaper reported that the Libyan justice minister had resigned over the use of deadly force against protesters.

    Speaking to Al Jazeera, Ahmad Jibreel, a Libyan diplomat, confirmed that the justice minister, Mustapha Abdul Jalil, had sided with the protesters.

    “I was speaking to the minister of justice just a few minutes ago … he told me personally, he told me he had joined the supporters. He is trying to organise good things in all cities,” he said.

    In protesters’ hands

    Jibreel further said that key cities near Libya’s border with Egypt were now in the hands of protesters, which he said would enable the foreign media to enter the country.

    “Gaddafi’s guards started shooting people in the second day … when they killed two people, we had more than 5,000 at their funeral, and when they killed 15 people the next day, we had more than 50,000 the following day,” he said, adding “the more Gaddafi kills people, the more people go into the streets.”

    Meanwhile, the US and other European nations, including Portugal, Italy, Austria and the Netherlands have taken steps to begin evacuating their citizens from Libya, as safety concerns within the country are on the rise.


    Twitter Reaction

    Libya Protests

    MahomedyHussein profile

    MahomedyHussein RT @shishibean: #Libyans massacred by shaytan #Gaddafi are bringing flashbacks of the traumatic images of #Gaza two yrs ago. God help them. #Libya #Feb17 12 seconds ago · reply


      10 new tweets

    SohaibThiab profile

    SohaibThiab Ada are being placed in Nigeria hiring mercenaries for $2k a day to fight in #Libya according to Aljazeera #Gaddafi 39 seconds ago · reply

    tammersalem profile

    tammersalem RT @monaeltahawy: On #Egyptian TV? RT @France24_en #LIBYA: AlArabya reports #Gaddafi will make a speech on Egyptian TV “soon” http://f24.my/LiveBlogEN #Feb17 32 seconds ago · reply

    Jnoubiyeh profile

    Jnoubiyeh The death toll keeps rising in #Libya. At least 500 Libyans are estimated to have been murdered by #Gaddafi since the uprising began. #Feb17 yesterday · reply 600+ recent retweets

    In another development on Monday, two Libyan air force jets landed in Malta and their pilots asked for political asylum, according to a military source.

    The pilots, who made an unauthorised landing in Malta, claimed to have defected after failing to follow orders to attack civilians protesting in Benghazi in Libya, Karl Stagno-Navarra, an Al Jazeera contributor, said from Valletta.

    The  pilots, who claimed to be colonels in the Libyan air force, were being questioned by authorities in an attempt to verify their identities.

    The two Mirage jets landed at Malta’s international airport shortly after two civilian helicopters landed carrying seven people who said they were French. Only one of the passengers had a passport.

    Against this backdrop of escalating violence, Libyan state television reported that Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, a son of the Libyan leader, was forming a committee to investigate the incidents taking place in the country

    Earlier in the day, Saif al-Islam warned of a civil war if anti-government protests continued to spread in the country.

    Speaking on state television, he blamed thugs, foreigners and Islamists for the unrest.

    He promised a conference on constitutional reforms within two days and said Libyans should “forget oil and petrol” and prepare themselves for occupation by “the West” if they failed to agree.

    The younger Gaddafi contrasted the situation in Libya with revolts earlier this year in Egypt and Tunisia, where longtime rulers were forced step down or fled in the face of mass popular discontent.

    Protesters in Libya have similarly called for Muammar Gaddafi’s overthrow, but his son warned against this, saying “Libya is different, if there is disturbance it will split into several states”.

    Following Saif al-Islam Gaddafi’s speech, witnesses in Tripoli reported an escalation of violence, as supporters of his father flooded into the city’s central square and confronted anti-government protesters.

    Armed men in uniform fired into the crowds, witnesses said, and continuous gunfire could be heard in the background of recorded phone calls from Tripoli released to journalists by Libyans living abroad.

    Al Jazeera and agencies


    Libya’s falling tyrant


    Gaddafi reaps what he has sown during his four-decade rule: terror, nepotism, tribal politics and abuse of power.

    Larbi Sadiki Last Modified: 21 Feb 2011 23:03 GMT
    Gaddafi, now facing a bloody uprising, has ruled oil-rich Libya with an iron fist since a coup in 1969 [Reuters] 

    Libya cannot escape the infection of democratic revolutionary wind blowing through the Middle East and North Africa. If longtime leader Muammar Gaddafi falls, it will be a sweet victory for the heirs of Omar al-Mokhtar, the legendary anti-fascist and anti-colonial hero. But a lot of blood will spill before the Libyan colonel abandons ship.

    After Iraq’s Saddam Hussein and Tunisia’s Ben Ali, Gaddafi is the worst of the Arabs’ surviving illegitimate rulers. He is now reaping what he has sown: terror, nepotism, tribal politics, and abuse of power.

    In Gaddafi’s Libya, the so-called People’s Congress, universities and other regime-affiliated organisations have had to toe the official line: worship of the “brother leader”, read his Green Book, and the brand of Pan-Africanism that no Libyan except Gaddafi and his henchmen believed in.

    While visiting the country with a group of students from Exeter University, the hollow slogans of Gaddafi’s “Great Revolution” covered all public space. “Partners not salaried” one says. Another declares “People’s rule” (sultat al-sha’ab). Nothing could be further from the truth.

    Gaddafi has ruled the country with the delusion of grandeur of a man who rose to power in a 1969 coup with fairly acceptable political ideals that got corrupted and abandoned. Gaddafi’s much vaunted socialism turned into distribution in favour of the Colonel’s clansmen.

    Inner circle

    An inner circle of Gaddafi’s confidants and close relatives decided and executed the hangings of the 1970s, relying on the fearsome and murderous “revolutionary committees”.

    No recourse to the people was taken when decisions were made and carried out about war such as in Chad and elsewhere in Africa. The people could not openly complain about the money lavishly disbursed in the pursuit of Gaddafi’s foreign adventurism, including the sponsoring of terrorist organisations.

    Gaddafi’s regime has been linked to the 1972 Black September killings of Israeli athletes in Germany ,  the 1978 disappearance in Libya of Shia Imam Musa Al-Sadr, the 1984 murder of British police officer Yvonne Fletcher, the 1986 bombing of Berlin’s La Belle Discotheque, the 1987 arms vessel destined to the Irish Republican Army, and to the hijacking of Pan Am flight 73 in 1986 and the 1988 Pan Am flight 103 bombing. This does not exhaust the list.

    The US bombing of Tripoli and Benghazi in 1986 or the large amounts of monies paid by Gaddafi to compensate all kinds of claims against Libya have been some of the prices paid by Libyans for their leader’s miscalculation.

    The sanctions and pariah status have only been eased only in the past 10 years. Carrying the green Libyan passport has made Libyan citizens persona non grata in many parts of the world.

    Gaddafi’s narcissism was such that very few of his comrades in arms from the original Free Officers cohort that executed the 1969 coup against King Idris have survived his brutality.

    A few died in mysterious circumstances (Omar Limheshi; Imhammad al-Muqrif). Others withdrew from public life voluntarily (Abd al-Salam Jelloud).

    Act of public disavowal

    Like Egypt, the uprising in Libya qualifies as an act of public disavowal of an existing regime. These are countries which had military revolutions and today are experiencing civil revolutions.

    Like Tunisia, but in a worse fashion, Libya has invested very little in social capital or civic capacity building. All organisations are committed to, and affiliated with, Gaddafi’s Great Revolution. Literally, these are cells that spy on the people or militias bribed to defend the regime. When protesters wave flags, chant pro-Gaddafi or anti-Western slogans, they do so on regime orders.

    Regardless, Libyans have not been passive. For instance, the Libyan League for Human Rights, the National Conference for the Libyan Opposition (NCLO), and the banned Islamists all have used the internet to express their anger. In some cases, Libyan dissidents used the Internet as a political tool before activists in other part of the Middle East. The NCLO met in London in 2006 and it may plan a role in reforming post-Gaddafi Libya.

    Attempts at removing Gaddafi began in the mid-1980s. The most famous was the May 1984  Bab Al-Aziziya Barracks coup when the National Front for the Salvation of Libya, made up of military and civilian dissidents, played a leading role.

    The most serious challenge against Gaddafi’s authority came from the most populous and powerful Libyan tribe, the Warfallah, in October 1993. The rebellion led to kangaroo trials in 1995. Many tribesmen were executed in 1997.

    The eastern region, Benghazi, has always been a source of dissidence against the regime. Dozens died in protests in 2006.The map of the current mutiny is both tribal and regional. Two tribes have withdrawn allegiance to Gaddafi’s regime, thus settling old scores. Gaddafi is now paying the price for humiliating the Wirfallah tribe, which he has excluded from his favours since the mid-1990s. Similarly, the Tabu tribe in the country’s southeast has suffered appalling discrimination.

    The misery belts of Libya are now leading the rebellion. Cities like Al-Baida, Derna, Ijdadia are all marginalised and are not beholden to Gaddafi, as they have not gained from his rule. Tripoli’s poorest suburbs, Zintan and Zawiya, which have come under heavy fire, are leading the rebellion in the capital.

    Why is the revolution that ousted Tunisia’s Ben Ali proving to be infectious? The reasons can be summed up by the following factors: the presence of a Ben Ali-type hegemon; dynastic and nepotistic rot; monarchical republicanism; rampant corruption; the marginalisation of young people; human rights violations; information control and a police state.

    All of these conditions apply to Libya. The only good in Gaddafi’s Libya is the absence of elections, which spared the Gaddafi’s revolutionary committees the additional misdemeanour of rigging them.

    In addition to these factors, the eastern region, namely Benghazi, has been deprived of the dividends of petroleum. In a country with one of the longest stretches of coastline and high oil production, income and opportunity should be available to citizens. But this is has not been the case. Now, Gaddafi is reaping what he has sown.

    Dr Larbi Sadiki is a Senior Lecturer in Middle East Politics at the University of Exeter, and author of Arab Democratisation: Elections without Democracy (Oxford University Press, 2009) and The Search for Arab Democracy: Discourses and Counter-Discourses (Columbia University Press, 2004), forthcoming Hamas and the Political Process (2011).

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

    Al Jazeera




    Libyan pilots and diplomats defect


    Group of army officers have also issued a statement urging fellow soldiers to “join the people” and help remove Gaddafi.

    Last Modified: 21 Feb 2011 23:29 GMT
    The pilots claimed to have defected after refusing to follow orders to attack civilians protesting in Libya [AFP] 

    Two Libyan air force jets landed in Malta on Monday and their pilots have asked for political asylum.

    The pilots claimed to have defected after refusing to follow orders to attack civilians protesting in Benghazi in Libya.

    The pilots, who said they were colonels in the Libyan air force, were being questioned by authorities in an attempt to verify their identities.

    Meanwhile, a group of Libyan army officers have issued a statement urging fellow soldiers to “join the people” and help remove Muammar Gaddafi.

    The officers urged the rest of the Libyan army to march to Tripoli.

    Earlier, diplomats at Libya’s mission to the United Nations sided on Monday with the revolt against their country’s leader and called on the Libyan army to help overthrow “the tyrant Muammar Gaddafi.”

    In a statement issued as protests erupted across Libya, the mission’s deputy chief and other staff said they were serving the Libyan people, demanded “the removal of the regime immediately” and urged other Libyan embassies to follow suit.

    Gaddafi was waging a bloody battle to hang on to power as the revolt against his 41-year rule reached the capital, Tripoli.

    The statement issued in New York said hundreds had died in the first five days of the uprising.

    A spokesman for the UN mission, Dia al-Hotmani, said the statement had been issued by deputy permanent representative Ibrahim Dabbashi and other staff.

    Other Libyan officials said they did not know the whereabouts of permanent representative Abdurrahman Shalgham, a former Libyan foreign minister, but believed he was not in New York. He was not associated with the statement, they said.

    Hotmani said that at a meeting on Monday at the mission’s New York offices, staff “expressed our sense of concern about the genocide going on in Libya.”

    “We are not seeing any reaction from the international community,” he added.

    “The tyrant Muammar Gaddafi has asserted clearly, through his sons the level of ignorance he and his children have, and how much he despises Libya and the Libyan people,” the Arabic language statement said.

     It condemned Gaddafi’s use of “African mercenaries” to try to put down the rebellion and said it expected “an unprecedented massacre in Tripoli.”

     ‘Cut the snake’s head’


    The statement called on “the officers and soldiers of the Libyan army wherever they are and whatever their rank is … to organise themselves and move towards Tripoli and cut the snake’s head.”

     It appealed to the United Nations to impose a no-fly zone over Libyan cities to prevent mercenaries and weapons being shipped in.

    It also urged guards at Libya’s oil installations to protect them from any sabotage “by the coward tyrant,” and urged countries to prevent Gaddafi from fleeing there and to be on the lookout for any money smuggling.

    Dabbashi and his colleagues called on The Hague-based International Criminal Court to start an immediate inquiry into war crimes and crimes against humanity they said Gaddafi and his sons and followers had committed.

    They called on employees of Libyan embassies all over the world to “stand with their people”, especially the mission at the UN European headquarters in Geneva, which they said should seek action by the UN Human Rights Council there.

     It was not immediately clear how many other Libyan embassies were likely to heed the call, although the country’s ambassador in India, Ali al-Essawi, said he was resigning in protest at the violent crackdown in his homeland.

    Libya’s ambassadors to the European Union, Bangladesh and Indonesia have also resigned

    Al Jazeera and agencies



    In Depth


    Profile: Muammar Gaddafi


    Oil-rich Libya’s eccentric leader has held the country in a tight grip since he led a bloodless coup in 1969.

    Last Modified: 21 Feb 2011 22:33 GMT
    Gaddafi is known as much for his eccentric clothing and female bodyguards as for his repressive rule [EPA] 

    In power since 1969, Libya’s Colonel Muammar Gaddafi is the longest-serving leader in both Africa and the Arab world.

    He led a bloodless coup toppling King Idris at the age of 27, and has since maintained tight control of his oil-rich country by clamping down on dissidents. The ongoing bloody uprising poses the most serious domestic challenge to his rule.

    Among his many eccentricities, Gaddafi is known to sleep in a Bedouin tent guarded by dozens of female bodyguards on trips abroad. 

    Gaddafi was born in 1942 in the coastal area of Sirte to nomadic parents. He went to Benghazi University to study geography, but dropped out to join the army.

    After seizing power, he laid out a pan-Arab, anti-imperialist philosophy, blended with aspects of Islam. While he permitted private control over small companies, the government controlled the larger ones.

    He was an admirer of the Egyptian leader Gamal Abdel Nasser and his Arab socialist and nationalist ideology.

    He tried without success to merge Libya, Egypt and Syria into a federation. A similar attempt to join Libya and Tunisia ended in acrimony.

    Crushing dissident

    In 1977 he changed the country’s name to the Great Socialist Popular Libyan Arab Jamahiriyah (State of the Masses) and allowed people to air their views at people’s congresses. 

    However, critics dismissed his leadership as a military dictatorship, accusing him of repressing civil society and ruthlessly crushing dissident.

    To this day, the media remains under strict government control.

    The regime has imprisoned hundreds of people for violating the law and sentenced some to death, according to Human Rights Watch.

    At the UN General Assembly in 2009, Gaddafi accused the body of being a terrorism group like al-Qaeda [EPA] 

    Gaddafi played a prominent role in organising Arab opposition to the 1978 Camp David peace agreement between Egypt and Israel.

    Later shunned by a number of Arab states on the basis of his extreme views on how to settle the Israeli-Palestinian conflict among others, Gaddafi’s foreign policy shifted from an Arab focus to an African focus.

    His vision of a United States of Africa resulted in the foundation of the African Union.

    In the West, Gaddafi is strongly associated with “terrorism”, accused of supporting armed groups including FARC in Colombia and the IRA in Northern Ireland.

    Libya’s alleged involvement in the 1986 bombing of a Berlin nightclub in which two American soldiers were killed prompted US air attacks on Tripoli and Benghazi, killing 35 Libyans, including Gaddafi’s adopted daughter. Ronald Reagan, the then US president, called him a “mad dog”.

    The 1988 bombing of the Pan Am flight over Lockerbie in Scotland is possibly the most well known and controversial international incident in which Gaddafi has been involved.

    For many years, Gaddafi denied involvement, resulting in UN sanctions and Libya’s status as a pariah state. Abdel Basset al-Megrahi, a Libyan intelligence agent, was convicted for planting the bomb. Gaddafi’s regime formally accepted responsibility for the attack in 2003 and paid compensation to the families of those who died.

    Isolation ended

    Also in 2003, Gaddafi broke Libya’s isolation from the West by relinquishing his entire inventory of weapons of mass destruction.

    In September 2004, George Bush, the US president at the time, formally ended a US trade embargo as a result of Gaddafi’s scrapping of the arms programme and taking responsibility for Lockerbie.

    The normalisation of relations with Western powers has allowed the Libyan economy to grow and the oil industry in particular has benefited.

    However, Gaddafi and Lockerbie came back into the spotlight in 2009, when al-Megrahi was released and returned to Libya. The hero’s welcome al-Megrahi received from Gaddafi on his return was condemned by the the US and the UK, among others.

    In September 2009, Gaddafi visited the US for the first time for his his first appearance at the UN General Assembly.

    His speech was supposed to be 15 minutes, but exceeded an hour and a half. He tore up a copy of the UN charter, accused the Security Council of being a terrorism body similar to al-Qaeda, and demanded $ 7.7 trillion in compensation to be paid to Africa from its past colonial rulers.

    During a visit to Italy in August 2010, Gaddafi’s invitation to hundreds of young women to convert to Islam overshadowed the two-day trip, which was intended to cement the growing ties between Tripoli and Rome.




    Gaddafi’s hold on Libya weakens


    Leader appears on state TV briefly to signal defiance in the face of mounting revolt against his 41-year rule.

    Last Modified: 22 Feb 2011 00:58 GMT
    Protesters in Libya have called for another night of defiance against Muammar Gaddafi’s government [Reuters]

    Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi has appeared on state television to signal his defiance in the face of a mounting revolt against his 41-year rule.

    “I am in Tripoli and not in Venezuela. Do not believe the channels belonging to stray dogs,” Gaddafi told Libyan state TV, which said he was speaking outside his house on Tuesday

    Live Blog

    Reports on Monday said Gaddafi had fled to Venezuela.

    Gaddafi, in his first televised appearance since protests to topple him started last week, was holding an umbrella in the rain and leaning out of a van.

    “I wanted to say something to the youths at the Green Square (in Tripoli) and stay up late with them but it started raining. Thank God, it’s a good thing,” Gaddafi said in a 22-second appearance.

    State TV reported earlier that pro-government demonstrations were taking place in Green Square in the capital.

    Libyan forces loyal to Gaddafi have fought an increasingly bloody battle to keep the veteran leader in power with residents reporting gunfire in parts of the capital Tripoli and one political activist saying warplanes had bombed the city.

    Scores of people have been reported killed in continuing violence in Tripoli amid escalating protests across the north African nation.

    Marwan Bishara, Al Jazeera’s senior political analyst, said “in a sense this is a pariah regime that will not have any chance of governing anymore and the international community could come to terms on whether this is a genocide and whether there should be international intervention to protect the Libyan people from the militias of the regime”.

    “We’ve heard even a NATO spokesman saying that the Libyan regime should stop committing war crimes against its people so I think there is momentum out there but certainly it’s not quick enough.”

    Deep cracks were showing and Gaddafi seemed to be losing vital support, as Libyan government officials at home and abroad resigned, air force pilots defected and major government buildings were targeted during clashes in the capital.

    At least 61 people were killed in the capital city on Monday, witnesses told Al Jazeera. The protests appeared to be gathering momentum, with demonstrators saying they have taken control of several important towns and the city of Benghazi, to the east of Tripoli.

    Protesters called for another night of defiance against the Arab world’s longest-serving leader, despite a crackdown by authorities

     Libya’s deputy ambassador to the United Nations, Ibrahim Dabbashi, spoke to Al Jazeera

    A huge anti-government march in Tripoli on Monday afternoon came under attack by security forces using fighter jets and live ammunition, witnesses told Al Jazeera.

    “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.”

     US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said it was “time to stop this unnacceptable bloodshed” in Libya.

    A group of army officers issued a statement urging fellow soldiers to “join the people” and help remove Gaddafi.

    The justice minister resigned in protest at the “excessive use of violence” against protesters and diplomats at Libya’s mission to the United Nations called on the Libyan army to help overthrow “the tyrant Muammar Gaddafi”.

    Both Libya and Venezuela denied reports that Gaddafi had fled to the South American country.

    Libyan state television said Gaddafi would give a speech shortly.


    Twitter Reaction

    Libya Protests

    cute_Noona profile

    cute_Noona RT @A_Awwad: عايز انام يخرب بيتك .. هتكمل الخطاب امتى ؟ #Feb17 #Libya #gaddafi 47 seconds ago · reply

    doubleass profile

    doubleass RT @libya: More deaths at hands of Libyan govt. alleged http://reut.rs/dGr0BX #Libya #Gaddafi #Tripoli #protests #Tripoli 38 seconds ago · reply

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    doubleass RT @libya: Thousands of people attempt to flee Libya http://bit.ly/eW6YDg #Libya #Tripoli #Gaddafi #protests #Malta #Italy #Serbia #Turkey 28 seconds ago · reply


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    glaciergirl75 Chaos reigns in #Libya – #Gaddafi brings an umbrella but zero substance to 1st appearance since violent downpour began: http://tiny.cc/d3z04 41 seconds ago · reply

    Two Libyan fighter jets landed in Malta, their pilots defecting after they said they had been ordered to bomb protesters, Maltese government officials said.

    Libyan authorities have cut all landline and wireless communication in the country, making it impossible to verify the report.

    With reports of large-scale military operations under way in Tripoli, a spokesperson for Ban Ki-moon said the UN chief held extensive discussions with Gaddafi on Monday, condemned the escalating violence in Libya and told him that it “must stop immediately”.

    ” … The secretary-general underlined the need to ensure the protection of the civilian population under any circumstances. He urged all parties to exercise restraint and called upon the authorities to engage in broad-based dialogue to address legitimate concerns of the population,” Ban’s spokesperson said.

    For this part, several Libyan diplomats at the country’s UN mission called on Gaddafi to step down.

    Ibrahim Dabbashi, the deputy ambassador, said that if Gaddafi did not relinquish power, “the Libyan people [would] get rid of him”.

    “We don’t agree with anything the regime is doing … we are here to serve the Libyan people,” he told Al Jazeera.

    Dabbashi urged the international community to impose a no-fly zone over Libya to prevent mercenaries, weapons and other supplies from reaching Gaddafi and his security forces.

    Arab League to meet

    Hamad Bin Jassim Bin Jabr Al-Thani, Qatar’s prime minister and foreign minister, called for an extraordinary meeting of the Arab League to take place on Tuesday. The aim is to discuss the current crisis in Libya and to put additional “pressure” on the government, Al-Thani told Al Jazeera.

    He said the international community must act now. “I feel a big sympathy for the Libyan people. We don’t accept using force in this way or any way against the people or against any nation from their governments.,” he said on Monday.

    “And we make our declaration in this space and we think that the international community should also take a stand against what is happening in Libya at the moment.”

    “I think the security council has to play a role.. the condemnation is not enough.. i think the five permanent members and others, they should take the responsibility and do something to help the civillian people in Libya, because what happens is not accepted in any way.”

    The comments came just hours after Ahmed Elgazir, a human-rights researcher at the Libyan News Centre (LNC) in Geneva, Switzerland, told Al Jazeera that security forces were “massacring” protesters in Tripoli.

    Elgazir said the LNC received a call for help from a woman “witnessing the massacre in progress who called on a satellite phone”.

    Earlier, a privately run local newspaper reported that the Libyan justice minister had resigned over the use of deadly force against protesters.

    Speaking to Al Jazeera, Ahmad Jibreel, a Libyan diplomat, confirmed that the justice minister, Mustapha Abdul Jalil, had sided with the protesters.

    “I was speaking to the minister of justice just a few minutes ago … he told me personally, he told me he had joined the supporters. He is trying to organise good things in all cities,” he said.

    Jibreel further said that key cities near Libya’s border with Egypt were now in the hands of protesters, which he said would enable the foreign media to enter the country.

    “Gaddafi’s guards started shooting people in the second day … when they killed two people, we had more than 5,000 at their funeral, and when they killed 15 people the next day, we had more than 50,000 the following day,” he said, adding “the more Gaddafi kills people, the more people go into the streets.”

    Al Jazeera and agencies




    recent ‘interview’ met Khadaffi (21-2-2011).

    Toegevoegd: dinsdag 22 feb 2011, 01:35
    Update: dinsdag 22 feb 2011, 12:05

    De Libische leider Kadhafi lijkt de steun in bijna alle lagen van de bevolking te hebben verloren. Libische ambassadeurs keren zich tegen het regime omdat ze het geweld tegen de bevolking onacceptabel vinden.

    Volgens de ambassadeur in India zet Kadhafi Afrikaanse huurlingen in om de protesten neer te slaan. In reactie daarop zouden opnieuw Libische militairen zijn overgelopen naar de oppositie.

    Een groep officieren riep vannacht het leger op zich aan te sluiten bij het volk en Kadhafi af te zetten. Ze vroegen de militairen mee te doen aan een mars naar Tripoli.


    Hoe groot de steun in het leger voor Kadhafi nog is, is onduidelijk. De oostelijke steden al-Bayda en Benghazi zouden in handen zijn van de oppositie. De VN-Veiligheidsraad komt vandaag bijeen om over de situatie in Libië te praten.

    In Tripoli hangt een grimmige sfeer. Veiligheidstroepen hebben wijken afgegrendeld.

    Kadhafi heeft op de staatstelevisie laten weten dat hij in de hoofdstad is en niet in Venezuela bij zijn vriend Hugo Chavez. Eerder sprak Venezuela al tegen dat Kadhafi naar dat land is uitgeweken.


    Kadhafi was 22 seconden in beeld, leunend uit een auto met een paraplu op. Hij riep op niet te geloven wat er wordt gezegd op “zenders die van zwerfhonden zijn”.

    Eerder werd aangekondigd dat Kadhafi een toespraak zou houden waarin hij “de kwaadaardige leugens in de media” zou tegenspreken, maar het bleef bij de korte verklaring, zittend in een auto.

    Een zoon van Kadhafi zei op de staats-tv dat het leger achter zijn vader staat en zal vechten tot de laatste man. De minister van Justitie besloot gisteren af te treden, uit protest tegen het geweld tegen de betogers.


    Bij de volksopstand zijn gisteren veel doden gevallen. Volgens betogers zijn in de hoofdstad alleen al 250 mensen omgekomen, toen straaljagers, helikopters en tanks het vuur openden.

    Vandaag komt de VN-Veiligheidsraad bijeen om te praten over de crisis. VN-chef Ban Ki-moon heeft gebeld met Kadhafi en hem dringend verzocht het geweld te stoppen.

    De PvdA wil morgen een spoeddebat met minister Rosenthal (Buitenlandse Zaken) in de Tweede Kamer.

    Een democratische omwenteling in de Arabische Wereld? Deel 6– 6 ثورة ديمقراطية في العالم العربي؟ جزء

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


    Voor de nieuwste ontwikkelingen, bekijk hieronder

    Al-Jazeera English live


    Palestinian Authority closes Al-Jazeera office

    klik op bovenstaand logo




    Deadly ‘day of rage’ in Libya


    Reports of more than a dozen deaths as protesters heed calls for mass protests against government, despite a crackdown.

    Last Modified: 17 Feb 2011 20:30 GMT
    Libyan protesters seeking to oust longtime leader Moammar Gadhafi have defied a crackdown and taken to the streets on what activists have dubbed a “day of rage”.There are reports that more than a dozen demonstrators have been killed in clashes with pro-government groups.Opponents of Gaddafi, communicating anonymously online or working in exile, urged people to protest on Thursday to try to emulate popular uprisings which unseated long-serving rulers in neighbouring Tunisia and Egypt.”Today the Libyans broke the barrier or fear, it is a new dawn,” Faiz Jibril, an opposition leader in exile, said.

    Live Blog

    Abdullah, an eyewitness in the country’s second largest city of Benghazi, who spoke to Al Jazeera, said that he saw six unarmed protesters shot dead by police on Thursday.

    He also said that the government had released 30 people from jail, paying and arming them to fight people in the street.

    Opposition website Libya Al-Youm said four protesters were killed by snipers from the Internal Security Forces in the eastern city of al-Baida, which had protests on Wednesday and Thursday, AP news agency reported.

    “Libya is a free country, and people, they can say, can show their ideas, and the main thing is that it has to be in the frame of the law and it has to be peaceful, and that’s it, ” Libyan ambassador to the US, Ali Suleiman Aujali, told Al Jazeera on Thursday.

    Sites monitored in Cyprus, and a Libyan human rights group based abroad, reported earlier that the protests in al-Baida had cost as many as 13 lives.

    When asked about the people who had allegedly been killed, Aujali told Al Jazeera “I’m really very busy here … and I have some delegations, and I don’t have time to follow up with every piece of news.”

    “I am confident that Libya will handle this issue with great respect for the people,” he said.

    Increasing casualties

    Mohammed Ali Abdellah, deputy leader of the exiled National Front for the Salvation of Libya, said that hospitals in al-Baida were experiencing a shortage of medical supplies, saying the government had refused to provide them to treat an increasing number of protesters.


    Abdellah quoted hospital officials in the town as saying that about 70 people have been admitted since Wednesday night, about half of them critically injured by gunshot wounds.

    The Quryna newspaper, which is close to Gaddafi’s son, cited official sources and put the death toll at two. It traced the unrest to a police shutdown of local shops that had soon escalated.

    The interior ministry fired the head of security in Al-Jabal Al-Akhdar province in the aftermath of the violence, in which protesters had torched “several police cars and citizens,” the paper said on its website.

    Several hundred supporters of Gaddafi also gathered in the capital, Tripoli, to counter calls for anti-government protests and they were joined by Gaddafi himself.

    ‘Down with Gaddafi’

    Clashes also broke out in the city of Zentan, southwest of the capital, in which a number of government buildings were torched.

    Fathi al-Warfali, a Swiss-based activist and head of the Libyan Committee for Truth and Justice, said two more people were killed in Zentan on Thursday ,while one protester was killed in Rijban, a town about 120km southwest of Tripoli.

    He said protesters on Thursday in the coastal city of Darnah were chanting “`the people want the ouster of the regime” – a popular slogan from protests in Tunisia and Egypt – when thugs and police attacked them.

    A video provided by al-Warfali of the scene in Zentan showed marchers chanting and holding a banner that read “Down with Gaddafi. Down with the regime.”

    Another video showed protests by lawyers in Benghazi on Thursday demanding political and economic reform while a third depicted a demonstration in Shahat, a small town southwest of Benghazi.

    Government warning

    Libya has been tightly controlled for over 40 years by Gaddafi, who is now Africa’s longest-serving leader.

    Thursday is the anniversary of clashes that took place on February 17, 2006 in Benghazi, when security forces killed several protesters who were attacking the city’s Italian consulate.

    According to reports on Twitter, the microblogging site, Libya’s regime had been sending text messages to people warning them that live bullets will be fired if they join today’s protests.

    New York-based Human Rights Watch said that Libyan authorities had detained 14 activists, writers and protesters who had been preparing the anti-government demonstrations.

    Al-Warfali said 11 protesters were killed in al-Baida on Wednesday night, and scores were wounded. He said the government dispatched army commandos to quell the uprising.

    In a telephone interview with Al Jazeera on Wednesday, Idris Al-Mesmari, a Libyan novelist and writer, said that security officials in civilian clothes came and dispersed protesters in Benghazi using tear gas, batons and hot water.

    Al-Mesmari was arrested hours after the interview.

    Media blocked

    Late on Wednesday evening, it was impossible to contact witnesses in Benghazi because telephone connections to the city appeared to be out of order.

    Social media sites were reportedly blocked for several hours through the afternoon, but access was restored in the evening.

    Al Jazeera is understood to have been taken off the state-owned cable TV network, but is still reportedly available on satellite networks.

    Though some Libyans complain about unemployment, inequality and limits on political freedoms, analysts say that an Egypt-style revolt is unlikely because the government can use oil revenues to smooth over most social problems.

    Libya accounts for about two per cent of the world’s crude oil exports.

    Companies including Shell, BP and Eni have invested billions of dollars in tapping its oil fields, home to the largest proven reserves in Africa.

    If you are in Libya and have witnessed protests then send your pictures and videos to http://yourmedia.aljazeera.net



    Winds of change in the Arab world

    Inspired by protests in Egypt and Tunisia, rumblings of discontent are growing across the region.
    Riz Khan Last Modified: 07 Feb 2011 09:49 GMT
    Could the pro-democracy protests in Egypt generate an unstoppable momentum for political reform across the Arab world?The impact of those demonstrations is being felt in other Arab countries where people are also speaking out against the lack of political rights and freedoms.As the rumblings of discontent grow, leaders in countries such as Yemen, Jordan and Algeria have introduced new policies for political and economic change.


    Send us your views and get your voice on the air

    But opposition supporters are calling those measures inadequate and are demanding a complete overhaul.

    On Monday, we will be discussing the issues with Saadaldeen Talib, the former head of Yemen’s anti-corruption commission and now a critic of President Salah; Syrian human rights and anti-censorship activist Anas Qtiesh and writer and blogger Khalid Lum.



    Here we go again: Egypt to Bahrain


    US pledges for democracy may not extend to Bahrain, even if Obama finally supported Egypt’s rebellion.

    Mark LeVine Last Modified: 18 Feb 2011 13:04 GMT
    The US has been cautious in its statements on the repression of protesters in Bahrain, a key ally [GALLO/GETTY] 

    It took until Hosni Mubarak was safely in Sharm El Sheikh and newly free Egyptians were celebrating in Tahrir square, but president Obama finally came out firmly for democracy in Egypt, no qualifiers attached.

    Obama’s words were eloquent indeed; for my money even more so than his 2009 speech in Cairo. As he explained, what the world had witnessed the previous 18 days was truly “history taking place. The people of Egypt have spoken. Their voices have been heard. And Egypt will never be the same… for Egyptians have made it clear that nothing less than genuine democracy will carry the day.”

    The president went on to detail a set of expectations: protecting the rights of Egypt’s citizens, lifting the emergency law, revising the constitution and other laws to make this change irreversible, and laying out a clear path to elections that are fair and free.

    Those expectations are entirely in line with the core demands of the organisers of the protests-turned-revolution. For that, Obama deserves credit, although at least some should be held in reserve until we see how much pressure his administration is willing to put on the military to ensure that it carries out a full transition to democracy.

    What’s more, in changing themselves, Mr. Obama declared that “Egyptians have inspired us”. They did so in good measure, he rightly explained, through understanding their full worth, as equal members of the larger human history and community. “Most people have discovered in the last few days that they are worth something, and this cannot be taken away from them anymore. Ever.”

    Putting inspiration to the test

    Yet this inspiration is already being put to the test all across the region as the protests spread like a “freedom virus,” as one Cairene taxi driver put it to me the day before I left Cairo.

    As I write this column the Bahraini government is in the process of brutally suppressing the protesters in its own version of Tahrir Square, Pearl Square.

    If the US is Egypt’s primary patron, in Bahrain it is among the ruling family’s biggest tenants, as the country is home to the Fifth Fleet, one of the US military’s most important naval armadas, crucial to protecting Persian Gulf shipping and projecting US power against Iran.

    But while Bahrain has long been depicted as relatively moderate compared with its Salafi neighbor, Saudi Arabia, the reality is that the country is repressive and far from free, as citizens have almost no ability to transform their government, which according to the State Department “restricts civil liberties, freedoms of press, speech, assembly, association, and some religious practices.”

    In the wake of Egypt, where many people harbor resentment against the Administration for its lack of early support for the democracy movement what can Obama do now? Can he in good conscience acquiesce to the brutal suppression of pro-democracy protesters so soon after his eloquent words and late coming to supporting the Egyptian revolution?

    The larger question is: What is more essential to American security today, convenient bases for its ships, planes and troops across the Middle East, or a full transition to democracy throughout the region?

    Al-Qaeda ‘failure’

    The answer is clearly the latter, as evidenced by the fact that America’s two primary antagonists in the Middle East, al-Qaeda and the Iranian government, have seen their standing sink in proportion to the rise of the pro-democracy movements.

    In any war, cold or hot, propaganda is crucial, and here it is impossible to lose sight of the fact that al-Qaeda has had little if anything to say about the Egyptian revolution precisely because it was a massive non-violent jihad that succeeded miraculously where a decade of al-Qaeda blood and vitriol have miserably failed.

    As for Iran, the government’s rhetorical support for the Egyptian revolution while it continues to suppress its own democracy movement is clearly emptying the Iranian regime of any remaining credibility as an alternative to the US-dominated order.

    In this sense the success-so far-of the Egyptian revolution has presented Obama with a unique window of opportunity to forcefully advocate and press for the same kind of democratic transition across the Middle East and North Africa.

    The signs on Tuesday were somewhat optimistic, as the President warned all regional leaders that they should “get ahead of the wave of protest” by moving towards democracy as quickly as possible. Yet Obama refused to mention Bahrain by name in his press conference, even as the government was cracking down on the protesters.

    Instead, the US president argued that “each country is different, each country has its own traditions; America can’t dictate how they run their societies,” an utterly meaningless declaration since it contradicts the very advocacy of democracy that the President has made out of the other side of his mouth.

    And now, once again, in the wake of government violence against peaceful citizens, the Obama administration stands silent, refusing to openly condemn the Bahraini government. Is the administration incapable of learning from mistakes in the immediate past ?

    In fact, Bahrain isn’t even the most important country where the ambivalence of US democracy advocacy continues to frustrate real change.

    From Egypt to Israel

    Not a single Israeli flag was burned (as far as everyone I know from Tahrir can recall) during the 18 days of protest, but while the Israeli occupation remained tangential to the protests, one of the main sources of initial solidarity and coalition building among the young Egyptians who ultimately helped organise the revolution was the outbreak of the second intifada, which led to the formation of a very active branch in Cairo of the Palestine Solidarity Committee (it’s worth noting here that almost no mainstream media analysis of the roots of the youth movement mentions this fact).

    Indeed, after I ran into organisers wearing “End the Occupation” t-shirts, it became clear how similar, and interlinked, were the Israeli occupation and the Mubarak “system’s” (as the protesters referred to them in their numerous chants to bring it down) the occupation of Egypt.

    The reality remains that on its own terms, the Israeli occupation (or rather double occupation, as increasing numbers of Palestinians describe their lives under PA/Hamas and Israeli rule) remains among the most repressive and brutal in the contemporary world, and perhaps its most destabilising.

    And, as with Mubarak, the United States is the most important supporter and enabler of the occupation’s continued presence against the wishes of the vast majority of the people forced to live under it.

    And here, as the Palestine Papers released by Al Jazeera reveal, the words and deeds of the Obama administration have run roughshod over its rhetorical commitment to greater democracy and openness.

    They reveal that senior members of the administration directly threatened Palestinians leaders with a cut-off in aid should they not follow American policies or even resign in response to continued Israeli settlement expansion and other violations of the Oslo agreements.

    The Obama administration needs to tell us if that is still US policy, and if so why democracy is suddenly okay for Egyptians but not for Palestinians, or at least as of today, for Bahrainis.

    We also need to know how Obama will respond if the Palestinians take up the mantle of Cairo and march en masse to dismantle sections of the West Bank wall or the Erez crossing in Gaza, in defiance of both Israeli and Palestinian political commands.

    And the tests don’t get any easier. Bahrain is child’s play compared not merely to Yemen, which is a crucial base of Al-Qaeda (or so it is claimed) but even more so for Saudi Arabia, whose absolutely repressive regime is among the worst in almost every category possible, in direct proportion to its immense oil reserves and wealth.

    Democracy without hypocrisy

    One of the most fascinating and uplifting aspects of Tahrir square was the utter lack of hypocrisy within its confines. Authoritarian societies are by definition filled with double-talk, lies of various shades and a broader climate of hypocrisy which becomes the grease, however rancid, that allows the wheels of society to turn, even if they wind up spinning in their tracks for decades.

    In finally supporting the Tahrir experiment, President Obama was, in effect, pledging to end decades of American hypocrisy in its policies towards the Middle East and larger Muslim world.

    But in order to live up to this promise he will have to develop one set of policies for all the peoples and countries of the region. And doing that will demand an even more costly break with the past, putting old allies at arm’s length until they respect the rights of their peoples while embracing, however tentatively, groups that once seemed more easily characterised as, if not quite foes, then at least untrustworthy partners in securing American interests.

    Obama concluded his remarks celebrating the emergence of a new Egypt by saying that the revolution “forever more will remind us of the Egyptian people, of what they did, of the things that they stood for, and how they changed their country and in doing so changed the world.”

    Let’s hope in changing the world, Egyptians haven’t left the United States and other major powers too far behind.

    Mark LeVine is a professor of history at UC Irvine and senior visiting researcher at the Centre for Middle Eastern Studies at Lund University in Sweden. He has authored several books including Overthrowing Geography: Jaffa, Tel Aviv and the Struggle for Palestine (University of California Press, 2005) and An Impossible Peace: Israel/Palestine Since 1989 (Zed Books, 2009).

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


    Nog een wat sceptischer commentaar van Thomas vond der Dunk (De Volkskrant, http://opinie.volkskrant.nl/artikel/show/id/7857/De_problemen_in_Egypte_beginnen_pas_nu ):

    De problemen in Egypte beginnen pas nu

    Thomas von der Dunk, 14-02-2011 18:20
    De essentie van een succesvolle revolutie tegen een dictatuur is de overwinning van de eigen angst gebaseerd op hoop.

    Dat was zo in 1989 in Oost-Europa, dat was zo in 1979 in Iran. Rampzalig verloren oorlogen willen bij het ten val brengen van autocratieën ook wel eens helpen – Duitsland in 1918, Rusland in 1917 (en al eerder in 1905), Frankrijk in 1871 – maar in vredestijd is het moeilijker massa’s te bewegen in opstand te komen tegen een bewind dat, omdat het aan de grenzen rustig is, al zijn onderdrukkende kracht kan richten op het binnenland.

    Dan moet, omdat het alledaagse leven tenslotte minder dan tijdens een oorlog ontregeld wordt, de woede groter zijn, en tegelijk ook de verwachting dat verbetering haalbaar is – anders rest slechts berusting. Men moet veel meer te winnen (denken te) hebben dan te verliezen.

    Dat zagen we in Boekarest twintig jaar terug: Ceaucescu was uit een heel ander hout gesneden dan de bange bureaucraten in Praag of Oost-Berlijn – Ceaucescu liet schieten – maar tegelijk waren de Roemenen zoveel slechter af dat hen dat, toen bij de buren de gevangenismuren bezweken, niet veel meer kon schelen. Sommigen riepen het tijdens de demonstraties letterlijk tegen de alomtegenwoordige Securitate: schiet maar, wij hebben toch niets meer te verliezen. Datzelfde gevoel bestond bij de opstandelingen in Caïro.

    Boekarest 1989 – Caïro 2011: volgen er straks meer parallellen? In Roemenië werd de revolutie via een paleisrevolutie gekaapt, waarmee een deel van de oude machthebbers na opoffering van het boegbeeld – Ceaucescu reageerde even koppig als Mubarak – de macht hoopte te behouden. Het ontbreken van een georganiseerde oppositie droeg aan het aanvankelijke succes daarvan bij – en nog steeds is in Roemenië niet bepaald het corruptievrije democratische en rechtsstatelijke paradijs aangebroken.

    In Egypte heeft nu een hoogbejaarde oud-militair voor een jongbejaarde oud-militair plaats gemaakt. Overgangsregeringschef of blijvertje? Heeft de vorige dictator slechts voor een volgende plaats gemaakt? Voorlopig heeft er in politiek-maatschappelijk opzicht immers nog geen echte omwenteling plaats gevonden.

    Wat wil de legerleiding, die gezien haar enorme economische belangen alle baat heeft bij behoud van de maatschappelijke status quo, echt? Treedt zij in de voetsporen van de Anjerrevolutie in Portugal, waar sindsdien de democratie bloeit? Of in die van de Rozenrevolutie in Georgië, waar die bloem toch niet echt tot wasdom gekomen is?
    Voor de seculiere demonstranten op het Tahrirplein is er, gezien de van nature geringe democratische neigingen van een hiërarchisch georganiseerd militair apparaat, alle reden om de vinger aan de pols te houden en dus nog even met een omvangrijke afvaardiging in hun basiskamp te blijven.

    En wat zij vooral moeten doen, is zich snel ook politiek organiseren, om hun evidente achterstand op de Moslim Broederschap in te halen. Verovering van de staatkundige macht lukt en beklijft alleen door zelf ook een staatkundige macht te vormen. Er zijn in het verleden niet alleen door te veel doortastendheid revoluties ontspoord, zoals die van 1789 in Frankrijk, maar ook wel eens door een gebrek aan doortastendheid mislukt, zoals die van 1848 in Duitsland.

    Dat voert tot de vraag, waaruit de overeenkomsten met de gang van zaken bij onze eigen West- en Oosteuropese revoluties van de laatste twee eeuwen bestaan, en waarin de nu nog maar halfvoltooide – dus straks ofwel geheel voltooide dan wel toch mislukte – Egyptische daarvan verschilt.

    Het belangrijkste verschil met de negentiende eeuw bestaat ongetwijfeld uit de cruciale rol van de media, in tweeërlei opzicht: als bron van kennis over de opstand voor de opstandelingen zelf en voor de buitenwacht – een revolutie live op tv – én als bron van kennis voor de opstandelingen van de wereld van de buitenwacht.

    Wat het eerste betreft: hun alomtegenwoordigheid heeft het, net als in 1989, zonder twijfel veel minder makkelijk gemaakt voor de machthebbers om tot grof geweld over te gaan – niet voor niets poogden zij ook nu het Tahrirplein op zwart te zetten. Wat niet weet, wat niet deert, maar wat men wel ziet, zorgt voor verontwaardiging. Daarvoor is een dictatuur die afhankelijk is van westerse steun, zoals de Egyptische, noodgedwongen ook gevoeliger dan een dictatuur die op eigen benen staat, zoals de Chinese.

    En al laat zich, zoals Leni Riefenstahl ons heeft geleerd, met behulp van moderne media de macht ook zeker goed verheerlijken, waarbij een Leider goddelijke proporties aannemen kan, over het geheel bekeken is het risico van ongewilde debunking toch sterker. Het tv-scherm vergroot elke onhandige lichaamsbeweging of grimas van machthebbers genadeloos uit.

    De koningen die in de negentiende eeuw in Europa omwille van de democrati-sering ten val gebracht moesten worden beschikten nog over een sacrosanct aura, waaraan weinig hedendaagse dictatoren kunnen tippen.

    Dat zat hem enerzijds in het idee van een aangeboren hoge adellijke status in combinatie met de godssouvereiniteit, die hen in de ogen van de onderdanen letterlijk tot een aparte mensensoort maakte, waar nu ook de grootste tyran zich op ‘de wil van het volk’ beroept, en ideologisch ook beroepen moet.
    Als in Mozarts Zauberflöte – Uuweet, Mozart is tegenwoordig erg populair bij sommige verdedigers van de these dat de joods-christelijke cultuur van nature democratisch haaks op de islamitische staat – de natuurjongen Papageno zich aan Tamino voorstelt “als een mens”, en vervolgens aan Tamino vraagt wie híj is, antwoordt deze: “ik ben een prins”. Dat is kennelijk iets heel anders.

    Die laatste stelling viel, anderzijds, omdat fotografie en film nog niet waren uitgevonden, toen ook nog makkelijker vol te houden. U hoeft in de tweede helft van de negentiende eeuw alleen maar de officiële staatsie¬portretten naast de ook gemaakte familiaire foto’s te zetten. Zulke foto’s zijn in pre-fotoshoptijden onve¬biddelijk: daarop worden ook koningen meteen tot gewone burgermannetjes gereduceerd.

    Alleen van Wilhelm II wist de hoffotograaf nog iets te maken – maar tegelijk druipt toch de potsierlijkheid ervan af. Dat gevoel krijgt niemand bij een blik op de Napoleons van David of Ingres, of op Rigauds Lodewijk XIV. Menig machtig monach zag er in werkelijkheid niet uit – keizer Leopold I werd in 1665 door een Turkse bezoeker in zijn reisdagboek met een kameel in de dierentuin van Wenen vergeleken – en als hun onderdanen dat hadden geweten, was dat voor hun imago dodelijk geweest.

    Niet minder belangrijk dan in hun beïnvloeding van de revolutie door hun aanwezigheid, zijn de moderne media ook in een tweede opzicht, dat vrij weinig aandacht krijgt: als informatiebron voor de revolutionairen over de wereld om hen heen.

    Die wereld om hen heen vormt zonder twijfel een belangrijke stimulans om in verzet te komen. Wat wist de potentiële opstandeling van 1848 van de rest van de wereld? Weinig, vergeleken met nu. En wat in die rest van de wereld vormde een reden om met de eigen wereld geen genoegen meer te nemen? Ook vrij weinig, vergeleken met nu.

    Zowel dankzij de massamedia als dankzij de migratie weet men in de Arabische wereld van de vrijheid, de welvaart en de betrouwbaarheid van de overheid in het Westen. En ofschoon men tegelijk het Westen vanwege de steun aan de eigen dictatoren haat, vormen die vrijheid, welvaart en betrouwbaarheid, in het licht van de onderdrukking, armoede en corruptie thuis, een belangrijk ideologisch westers exportproduct.

    Miljoenen Arabieren hebben familie in Europa – en bij alle Wildersiaanse hetzes waaraan zij daar bloot staan, weten zij: zo kan het dus ook. En anders weten ze het wel via tv en internet. Dat concrete wenkende alternatief in de vorm van het reëel bestaande democratisme ontbrak anno 1848 in Europa nog nagenoeg geheel: het moest daar toen immers nog op de eigen autocraten veroverd worden. Dat scheelt wezenlijk, omdat het daarom thans veel minder makkelijk meer door potentaten onder het motto ‘ik of de chaos’ als een compleet utopisch hersenspinsel kan worden afgedaan.

    En tegelijk vormt juist deze grote stimulans nu ook het grote probleem voor de Arabische revoluties, omdat zij, net als al in Oost-Europa twintig jaar geleden het geval was, tot overspannen verwachtingen inzake de nabije toekomst leiden zal. Dat moet weer onvermijdelijk op een teleurstelling uitlopen, omdat die zo zichtbare achterstand weliswaar de revolutie teweeg heeft gebracht, maar tegelijk die achterstand – juist omdat die zo zichtbaar groot is – onmogelijk snel overbrugd zal kunnen worden.

    Ook als het nieuwe bewind in Caïro zich aan zijn belofte van eerlijke verkiezingen houdt, zal de verhoopte sociaal-economische vooruitgang tijd vergen. Vrijheid op papier valt met een pennestreek te realiseren – maar de welvaart, die men zichzelf op grond van die vrijheid belooft, vereist meer.

    De hamvraag is of de bevolking daarvoor het geduld zal hebben: een probleem dat ook bij de Duitse Eenwording speelde, toen veel Oostduitsers er min of meer op stonden dat de hen aangedane achterstand in één klap werd goedgemaakt. Hetzelfde zien wij in Zuid-Afrika, waar het gros van de zwarte bevolking ook na twintig jaar ANC-bewind nog steeds in armoede leeft: het einde van de Apartheid maakte geen einde aan de raciale ongelijkheid, maar schiep slechts de politieke voorwaarden om op termijn door economische ontwikkeling die raciale ongelijkheid uit te bannen.

    Dat is de psychologische handicap in de Arabische wereld: men wil het, anders dan onze eigen westerse revolutionairen van 1848 kennis hebbend van het westerse democratische welvaartsparadijs, na de verjaging van de eigen tyran meteen allemaal, en ook allemaal nu. Dat is tenslotte de essentie van de democratische belofte: welvaart voor iedereen.

    Wat vergeten wordt is dat het parlementaire systeem in Europa, daarin gelijke tred houdend met gestegen opleidingsniveau van de bevolking, slechts zeer geleidelijk is uitgebreid. Neem Nederland: uit angst voor de revolutie werd Willem II in 1848 in één nacht van conservatief wel liberaal – maar niet democraat. Het nieuwe parlementaire stelsel van Thorbecke bleef gebaseerd op censuskiesrecht – de democratie kwam pas in 1917.

    Bataafse Omwenteling
    Dat betekent dat, omdat de rechtsstaat zelf zelfs terugging tot de Bataafse Omwenteling van 1795, wij – en voor andere Europese landen geldt iets soortgelijks – een eeuw een soort verlichte parlementaire autocratie kenden, waarvan de historische rol in terugblik blijkt te zijn geweest om de huidige democratie voor te bereiden.

    Vanaf de Franse Revolutie waren in West-Europa alle burgers gelijk voor de wet – alleen wat er dan in die wet kwam te staan werd nog door een bovenlaag bepaald. Voor zo’n parlementaire autocratie is in de Arabische wereld geen tijd meer: die kans heeft de zichzelfverrijkende elite ginds, door voor zichzelf meteen – en daarmee noodzakelijkerwijs via beroving van de eigen bevoling – het westers welvaartsniveau op te eisen, verspeeld.
    Totale democratie was anno 1848 ook voor de meeste gewone Nederlanders ‘ondenkbaar’, en dus legden zij zich bij die bevoogding neer: algemeen kiesrecht lag voorbij hun geestelijke horizon. Dat is nu anders: de opstandelingen willen geen halve eeuw op politieke gelijkberechtiging wachten. Hun verwachtingen zijn inmiddels hoger dan de Toren van Babel, die, als bekend, door spraakverwarring en overmoed onvoltooid in elkaar is gestort.

    Het nieuwe bewind kan die verlangens van de bevolking onmogelijk negeren, maar er ook onmogelijk aan voldoen. Daarom beginnen de échte regeerproblemen in Egypte pas nu.


    Bahrain forces fire at protesters


    Troops open live fire around Pearl roundabout in Manama after nightfall, at least 50 wounded.

    Last Modified: 18 Feb 2011 18:37 GMT

    [WARNING: This video contains images that some viewers may find disturbing] 

    Shots were fired by soldiers around Pearl roundabout in Manama, the Bahraini capital, a day after police forcibly cleared a protest encampment from the traffic circle.

    The circumstances of the shooting after nightfall on Friday were not clear. Officials at the main Salmaniya hospital said at least 50 people were injured, some with gunshot wounds.


    Some doctors and medics on emergency medical teams were in tears as they tended to the wounded. X-rays showed bullets still lodged inside victims.

    “This is a war,” said Dr. Bassem Deif, an orthopedic surgeon examining people with bullet-shattered bones.

    Protesters described a chaotic scene of tear gas clouds, bullets coming from many directions and people slipping in pools of blood as they sought cover.

    Bahrain’s crown prince, meanwhile, called for calm, saying it was “time for dialogue, not fighting”.

    “The dialogue is always open and the reforms continue,” Crown Prince Sheikh Salman bin Hamad al-Khalifa said on Bahrain TV.

     “We need to call for self-restraint from all sides, the armed forces, security men and citizens,” he said. “I urge you, there should be calm. Now is time for calm.”

    Jalal Firooz, of the Wefaq bloc that resigned from parliament on Thursday, said demonstrators had been elsewhere in the city, marking the death of a protester killed earlier this week. The demonstrators then made for the roundabout, where army troops are deployed.

    A doctor of Salmaniya hospital told Al Jazeera that the hospital is full of severely injured people after the latest shootings.

    “We need help! Our staff is entirely overwhelmed. They are shooting at people’s heads. Not at the legs. People are having their brains blown out,”  a distraught Dr Ghassan said, describing the chaos at the hospital as something close to a war zone.

    Our online producer interviews a protester at a funeral in Sitra 

    He said the hospital was running short of blood and appealed for help to get more supplies. Police had no immediate comment.

    An Associated Press cameraman saw army units shooting anti-aircraft weapons, fitted on top of armored personnel carriers, above the protesters in apparent warning shots and attempts to drive them back from security cordons about 200 meters from the roundabout.

    One marcher claimed live ammunition was used against protesters.

    “People started running in all directions and bullets were flying,” said Ali al-Haji, a 27-year-old bank clerk. “I saw people getting shot in the legs, chest and one man was bleeding from his head.”

    In the past, security forces had mostly used rubber bullets.

    Witnesses said about 20 police cars had driven toward the roundabout after the initial shooting.

    Earlier, troops backed by tanks had locked down Manama and announced a ban on public gatherings. Tanks and armoured personnel carriers were patrolling the streets of Manama and checkpoints set up.

    Tents at Manama’s Pearl Roundabout were cleared of protesters by riot police in a raid on Thursday [Reuters]

    Riot police using clubs and tear gas broke up a crowd of protesters in the city’s financial district in a pre-dawn swoop on Thursday, killing at least four people and injuring more than 200.

    Al Jazeera’s correspondent, who cannot be named for security reasons, reported from Manama on Friday that thousands of people observed the funerals of those killed in the police raid on the protesters’ tents in the city’s Pearl Roundabout area.

    Many of those present chanted slogans against Bahrain’s ruling Al Khalifa family. They said they were both grief-stricken and angry at the heavy-handedness of the police, and that they were demanding that the international community take notice of what they call the brutality of the security forces.

    As Friday prayers commenced, Sheikh Issa Qassem, a prominent Bahraini Shia Muslim religious leader, delivering his sermon in a northwestern village, described Thursday’s violence as a “massacre”.

    Our correspondent reported that Qassem said the government was attempting to create a “sectarian divide” between Sunnis and Shias. He advocated peaceful protests, saying “violence is the way of the government”, and that protesters should not espouse violent actions.

    The crowd at the funerals in Sitra were not as large as those seen during previous funerals, our correspondent reported.

    He said this was because of a heavy security presence on the streets, with police and army closing off roads across the country.

    No security forces personnel were reported to be present at Sitra on Friday, though a helicopter was seen hovering over the funeral procession.

    “Many of those who in the past came out [to protests] … are afraid. They’re frightened and they don’t want to turn up at a protest like this because they are fearful for their lives,” he said, citing an incident on February 15 in Manama, when at least one person was killed when police fired on a funeral procession.

    Country profile: Bahrain 

    Our correspondent further said that while it was “almost impossible” to confirm a figure for those who had gone missing during Thursdsay’s crackdown, one opposition politician put the number at 70.

    Members of the opposition Al Wefaq party have withdrawn from the country’s parliament. The party says MPs will not rejoin if the government continues to disallow protests.

    Meanwhile, Bahraini state television showed pictures of a pro-government rally, attended by hundreds, taking place in Manama, despite the ban on public gatherings.

    Just hours after Thursday’s deadly police action, the military announced the ban, saying on state TV that it had “key parts” of Manama under its control.

    Khalid Al Khalifa, Bahrain’s foreign minister, justified the Pearl roundabout raid as necessary because the demonstrators were “polarising the country” and pushing it to the “brink of the sectarian abyss”.

    Speaking after meeting with his Gulf counterparts, he said the violence was “regrettable”.

    Two people had died in police firing on protesters prior to Thursday’s deadly police raid. Al Jazeera’s correspondent said that hospitals had been full of injured people after police raid, with the injured including nurses and doctors who had rushed to attend to the wounded.

    After several days of holding back, Bahrain’s Sunni Arab rulers unleashed a heavy crackdown, trying to stamp out the first anti-government upheaval to reach the Arab states of the Gulf since the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt.

    During the assault at the Pearl roundabout, police tore down the protesters’ tents, beating men and women inside and blasting some with shotgun sprays of bird-shot.

    The interior ministry claims that protesters were carrying swords, knives and other bladed instruments.

    The pre-dawn raid was a sign of how deeply the island’s Sunni monarchy  fears the repercussions of a prolonged wave of protests, led by members of the country’s Shia majority but also joined by growing numbers of discontented Sunnis.

    UK to review arms sale

    Bahrain is a pillar of US military framework in the region: it hosts the US navy’s Fifth Fleet, which the US sees as a critical counterbalance to Iran’s military power.

    Bahrain’s rulers and their Sunni Arab allies depict any sign of unrest among their Shia Muslim populations as a move by neighbouring Shia-majority Iran to expand its clout in the region.

    The army would take every measure necessary to preserve security, the interior ministry said.

    Against this backdrop of continued unrest, Britain said on Thursday that it was reviewing decisions to export arms to Bahrain.

    “In light of events we are today formally reviewing recent licencing decisions for exports to Bahrain,” Alistair Burt, a junior foreign minister with responsibility for the Middle East, said.

    He cautioned that Britain would “urgently revoke licences if we judge that they are no longer in line with the criteria” used for the export of weapons.

    In a statement, Burt said a range of licences had been approved for Bahrain in the last nine months, including two for 250 tear gas cartridges for the Bahrain Defence Force and National Security Agency “for trial/evaluation purposes”.

    The protesters’ demands have two main objectives: force the Sunni monarchy to give up its control over high-level government posts and all critical decisions, and address deep grievances held by the country’s Shias, who make up 70 per cent of Bahrain’s 500,000 citizens.

    But the community claims its faces systematic discrimination and poverty and is effectively blocked from key roles in public service and the military.


    Ondertussen, het hete hangijzer Israël/Palestina. Zie het bericht hieronder. Voor wie zich nog steeds afvraagt waarom er in de Arabische wereld zoveel wrevel bestaat tegen de VS, al hebben ze hun officiële vriendschap vaak afgekocht bij de diverse Mubaraks (waardoor er ook weer ‘ergernis’ bij de gewone bevolking ontstaat): precies hierom. Zie hieronder:


    US vetoes UN vote on settlements


    Washington blocks resolution condemning Israeli buildings on Palestinian land as illegal and calling for quick halt.

    Last Modified: 18 Feb 2011 22:19 GMT
    Palestinians say building flouts an internationally-backed peace plan that allows them to create a state [GALLO/GETTY] 

    The United States vetoed a UN resolution Friday that would have condemned Israeli settlements as “illegal” and called for an immediate halt to all settlement building.

    All 14 other Security Council members voted in favour of the resolution.

    British Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant, speaking on behalf of his country, France and Germany, condemned Israeli settlements in the West Bank. “They are illegal under international law,” he said.

    He added that the European Union’s three biggest nations hope that an independent state of Palestine will join the United Nations as a new member state by September 2011.

    The Obama administration’s veto is certain to anger Arab countries and Palestinian supporters around the world. An abstention would have angered the Israelis, the closest US ally in the region, as well as Democratic and Republican supporters of Israel in the American Congress.

    Washington says it opposes settlements in principal, but claims that the UN Security Council is not the appropriate venue for resolving the decades-old Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

    US ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice told council members that the veto “should not be misunderstood to mean we support settlement activity.

    “While we agree with our fellow council members and indeed with the wider world about the folly and illegitimacy of continued Israeli settlement activity, we think it unwise for this council to attempt to resolve the core issues that divide Israelis and Palestinians,” she said.

    Pressure to drop resolution

    Earlier, the Obama administration has exerted pressure on the Palestinian Authority to drop the UN resolution in exchange for other measures.

    Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, has refused Washington’s request to withdraw a UN Security Council resolution demanding Israel to freeze settlement expansion on occupied Palestinian land.

    The decision was made unanimously by the Palestine Liberation Organisation’s executive and the central committee of Abbas’s Fatah movement on Friday, at a meeting to discuss US President Barack Obama’s appeal to Abbas by telephone a day earlier.

    “The Palestinian leadership has decided to proceed to the UN Security Council, to pressure Israel to halt settlement activities. The decision was taken despite American pressure,” said Wasel Abu Yousef, a PLO executive member.

    Obama, who had said Israeli settlements in territories it captured in a 1967 war are illegal and unhelpful to the peace process, says the resolution could shatter hopes of reviving the stalled talks.

    In a 50-minute phone call on Thursday, he asked Abbas to drop the resolution and settle for a non-binding statement condemning settlement expansion, Palestinian officials said. 

    ‘Goldstone 2’

    “Caving in to American pressure and withdrawing the resolution will constitute Goldstone 2,” said a Palestinian official, speaking on terms of anonymity before the meeting.

    He was referring to the wave of protest in October 2009 accusing Abbas of caving in to US pressure by agreeing not to submit for adoption a UN report that accused Israel and Hamas of war crimes during the invasion of Gaza two years ago.

    Abbas maintains he insisted on submitting the report. A second Palestinian official, speaking before the decision was formalised, said it would be “a political catastrophe if we withdraw this resolution”.

    “People would take to the streets and would topple the president,” he said, noting the wave of protest in the Arab world that swept out the Egyptian and Tunisian presidents.

    The Palestinians say continued building flouts the internationally-backed peace plan that will permit them to create a viable, contiguous state on the 1967 land, after a treaty with Israel to end its occupation and 62 years of conflict.

    Israel says this is an excuse for avoiding peace talks and a precondition never demanded before during 17 years of negotiations, which has so far produced no agreement.

    The diplomatic standoff is complicated by the effects of Middle East turmoil on the Arab League, whose members backed the resolution. Egypt, a dominant member, and Tunisia are preoccupied with their transitions from deposed autocracies, and protests are flaring in Libya, Yemen and Bahrain.

    Washington is trying to revive peace talks stalled since September over Israel’s refusal to extend a moratorium on settlement building and Abbas’s refusal to negotiate further until the Israelis freeze the illegal buildings.

    ‘Nothing to lose’

    Obama initially pressured Israel to maintain the moratorium only to relent in the run-up to the 2010 US mid-term elections to avoid, some analysts said, alienating key voters.

    Instead of the resolution, Obama told Abbas he would back a fact-finding visit by a delegation of the Security Council to the occupied territories.

    One PLO official said the leadership was determined not to cave in “even if our decision leads to a diplomatic crisis with the Americans”, adding: “Now we have nothing to lose.”

    Kristin Saloomey, Al Jazeera’s correspondent in New York, said that the US has been doing everything it can to stop this vote from happening, including incentives and threats.

    “Apparently Obama threatened [on the phone to Abbas] that there would be repercussions if this vote actually came to the floor of the UN Security Council,” she said.

    “Today secretary of state, Hilary Clinton, called president Abbas [to put on more pressure] but none of this is getting through to the Palestinians.

    “Obama is facing intense domestic pressure not to support the vote. The US is in a tough position, they know that a veto is going to make them look very bad in the Arab world … and also the rest of the world is really in support of this resolution.

    “All of the Security Council members are on the record saying they are going to vote for this resolution including US allies”.

    Since 2000, 14 Security Council resolutions have been vetoed by one or more of the five permanent members — Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States. Of those, 10 were US vetoes, nine of them related to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

    Al Jazeera and agencies

    Two-state solution: A postmortem

    In the wake of the Palestine Papers and the Egyptian uprising the ‘peace process’ as we know it is dead.
    Sandy Tolan Last Modified: 18 Feb 2011 14:10 GMT
    The US’ tone-deaf approach to Palestinian realities is a key reason for the failure of the ‘peace process’ [GALLO/GETTY] 

    Among the time-honoured myths in the long tragedy of Israel and Palestine is “the deal that almost was”. The latest entry, what we might call the “near deal of 2008,” comes from Ehud Olmert, the former Israeli prime minister, chronicled in excerpts from his forthcoming memoir and feverishly promoted in The New York Times as “the Israel peace plan that almost was and still could be”.
    Clearly, the dwindling number of promoters of the two-state solution are in a post-Cairo, post-Palestine Papers attempt to keep afloat what is, in the end, a sinking ship: A bad deal that even the weak Palestinian negotiating team would not accept. “Israel has an overwhelming interest in going the extra mile,” a nervous Thomas Friedman wrote as protestors filled Tahrir Square, warning: “There is a huge storm coming, Israel. Get out of the way.” 
    At the heart of the effort to salvage the busted remnants of Oslo is the “near deal of 2008”.  “We were very close, more than ever before,” Olmert writes in his memoirs. 
    But as they say in a famous TV ad in the US: “Not exactly.”

    Old myths die hard
    Like other such fictions – chief among them “Israel’s generous offer” at Camp David in 2000 – this one is not entirely without substance. As the Palestine Papers show, the two sides did agree on various security arrangements, land swaps and some principles of the right of return, much to the alarm of many Palestinians. Just as significantly, Palestinian negotiators agreed to allow Israel to annex major settlement blocs in East Jerusalem – a fact that, in the wake of the document dump, is eroding what is left of Abbas’ credibility among his own people. (As if to underscore that point, chief negotiator Saeb Erekat resigned last week in disgrace, after revelations that the Palestine Papers were leaked from his very own office.)
    Yet despite the 2008 concessions, the documents also show that the negotiations did not bring the sides close to a deal. Rather, they revealed red lines that signal the end of the peace process as we know it, and – especially after Cairo – the death of the two-state solution. Nowhere is this more clear than in the discussions over two huge settlement blocs, where Israel, backed by an arm-twisting US, undermined its last chance for a two-state deal.
    In 1993, at the beginning of the Oslo “peace process,” 109,000 Israeli settlers lived on West Bank Palestinian land, not including East Jerusalem. That number has now nearly tripled. One of the settlements, Ariel, juts well into the West Bank, nearly half the way to Jordan from the Mediterranean coast, and is protected by Israel’s separation barrier. Ariel, with nearly 20,000 people, promotes itself as the aspiring “capital of Samaria” with its own industrial park and even a university.

    “There is no Israeli leader who will sign an agreement that does not include Ariel,” Tzipi Livni, Olmert’s foreign minister, told Palestinian negotiators in April 2008.

     “And there is no Palestinian leader who will sign an agreement that includes Ariel,” negotiator Ahmad Qurei replied. Qurei was not just posturing. Ariel bifurcates the Palestinian district of Salfit and helps make a mockery of US diplomats’ stated goal of a “viable and contiguous” Palestinian state.

    Another red line is Ma’ale Adumim. Despite the significant concessions in East Jerusalem – which Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said amounted to “the biggest Yerushalayim in Jewish history” – the Palestinians see Ma’ale Adumim as a wedge between East Jerusalem and the West Bank. For them, the settlement is another barrier to a contiguous land base on which to build their state. For Israelis, Ma’ale Adumim, founded with the support of then defence minister Shimon Peres in 1975 and now a “city” of more than 34,000 settlers, is untouchable.
    In theory, the self-described “honest broker,” the US, could have tried to bridge the differences. But that is not what Condoleezza Rice, the then US secretary of state, had in mind when she leaned on the weak Palestinian delegation in a July 2008 meeting in Jerusalem:
    “I don’t think that any Israeli leader is going to cede Ma’ale Adumim,” she told Qurei.
    “Or any Palestinian leader,” Qurei replied.
    “Then you won’t have a state!” Rice declared.

    On the wrong side of history
    The US has long been hypersensitive to Israeli domestic political considerations while ignoring those of the Palestinians and the broader Arab and Muslim worlds. In 2000, Yasser Arafat turned down Israel’s “generous offer,” refusing to agree to a “sovereign presidential compound” in the Old City – essentially, a golden cage near the Muslim holy sites. Arafat understood that neither Palestinians nor Muslims worldwide would agree to such limited Palestinian sovereignty over the Haram Al Sharif, considered the third holiest site in Islam. “If anyone imagines that I might sign away Jerusalem, he is mistaken,” Arafat told Bill Clinton, the then US president, at Camp David. “You have lost many chances,” Clinton responded. “You won’t have a Palestinian state …. You will be alone in the region.”
    The US’ tone-deaf approach to Palestinian realities is a central reason for the failure of the “peace process”. Rice suggested in a June 2008 meeting that one way to help solve the entrenched and emotional issue of right of return would be to ship refugees to South America. Barack Obama’s team has not fared much better. In 2009, the US pressured the Palestinians to stall the release of the UN’s Goldstone Report calling for an investigation into Israeli war crimes in Gaza. This was precisely the opposite of what the Palestinian public fervently wanted. The US carrot: More favourable negotiating terms for the Palestinian Authority (PA).
    But the US, so accustomed to dealing with Arab strongmen like Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak and Tunisia’s Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, seems to have forgotten that the weak Palestinian negotiators were in no position to ignore, much less dictate to, their people. Any peace deal would have been put to a referendum among politically-aware Palestinians in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. A deal as unfavourable as that the US and Israel promoted in 2008 would have been far from a sure thing. Olmert recalls telling Abbas: “Take the pen and sign now. You’ll never get an offer that is more fair or more just.” But it was the Israelis, and the US, who missed their chance.
    In the days just before Egyptians liberated themselves, Obama tried to shore up some of the US credibility squandered since his 2009 Cairo speech by supporting the calls for democracy. But for many Palestinians, US or PA credibility is no longer relevant. In the West Bank, people regard US pronouncements with sharply declining interest. And it was the PA, in the midst of the euphoric struggle of its neighbours, that placed itself firmly on the wrong side of history by banning demonstrations in solidarity with the Egyptian and Tunisian people. “The policy,” said a PA security spokesman “is non-interference in the internal affairs of Arab or foreign countries.”
    You could not find a more apt symbol of a corroded and irrelevant Palestinian regime, shockingly out of touch with its people and the jubilation in Tahrir Square, and structurally unable to seize the moment. Now, with the PA’s negotiations team in disarray, it is hard to imagine Palestinians in the West Bank again putting their trust in the “authority,” or in the wreckage of an Oslo process tied to a Middle Eastern order that no longer exists.
    Even in their last-ditch attempts to forge a two-state deal, beleaguered Palestinian negotiators seemed aware that it was slipping away. “In light of these circumstances and these unrealistic propositions,” Qurei told Livni in frustration in April 2008, “I see that the only solution is a bi-national state where Muslims, Christians and Jews live together”.

    Sandy Tolan is an associate professor at the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism at USC, and the author of The Lemon Tree: An Arab, a Jew, and the Heart of the Middle East.
    The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial policy


    US doubling down on Mideast horses


    People in Palestine will trust US stewardship once again if Obama applies consistent political standards to PA leaders.

    Fadi Elsalameen Last Modified: 07 Feb 2011 14:11 GMT
    A Palestinian man burns the US flag during a protest in support for Egyptian demonstrators in Ramallah [Reuters] 

    A wave of popular uprisings in the Middle East is sending a clear message to those in power − and those who aspire to be in power − in the Arab world. Together with the release of several sets of leaked secret documents, they are making it clear that one should never bet on America’s horse.

    “America’s horse” is the Arab leader who is backed by the United States and given a license to rule however he deems appropriate, as long as he doesn’t threaten Israel’s security or other American interests in the region. In return, he is allowed to abuse human rights and deny his people economic and political rights. With America’s sanction, and under the banner of fighting Islamic fundamentalism, he can crush any opposition that arises.

    All through the 10 years I spent as a student in the US, I dreamed of returning to Palestine and contributing to a future Palestinian state. Coming from a modest background in Hebron and having had the privilege of an education at some of the best universities in America, I felt an obligation to help my people, always mindful that I had been more fortunate than friends and siblings who stayed behind.

    Yet, from the moment I returned last September, I found a wall higher than the Israeli separation barrier blocking me from helping my Palestinian brothers and sisters. That wall was made up of America’s Palestinian horses: Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salaam Fayyad and President Mahmoud Abbas.

    The moment I began publicly raising objections to the police state being formed in the West Bank, and the fear instilled in people who might dare to criticize the government, Fayyad’s intelligence services started harassing me, to the point where I no longer felt safe in the West Bank. Even now that I have returned to the US, I still receive threatening phone calls for my criticism of Fayyad and Abbas. Several friends back home were arrested or called in for questioning by Palestinian intelligence officials over Facebook and Twitter activities that criticize Fayyad and Abbas.

    Disheartening reforms

    What you read in newspapers about Fayyad’s technocracy based on interviews with him does not match what exists on the ground. I am guilty of being one of those who wrongly praised Fayyad’s work. In his office, Fayyad offers a very compelling theoretical approach to state-building, but implementation on the ground couldn’t be farther from the principles of democracy, transparency, freedom and accountability. America’s horses, Fayyad and Abbas, I am sorry to say, have created an authoritarian police state that is actively suppressing people’s dissatisfaction with them.

    Many before me have faced this same reality. In fact, what you see today in Palestine and in the Arab world in general is a reaction to the repressive policies of American horses against educated populations yearning for reform.

    The Al Jazeera-Guardian Palestine Papers leak did not come about because two disgruntled former employees of the PA were encouraged by alleged CIA and MI6 operatives, as was asserted by Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat. On the contrary, it was the consequence of years of dissatisfaction among smart, able, Western-educated Palestinians who gave up lucrative salaries in the US to return to their homeland and become involved in the Palestinian peace process and in building the institutions of the future state.

    But their hard work and opinions were completely ignored by the PA’s leadership. As a result, many of them stopped working for the PA and, inspired by WikiLeaks, felt compelled to reach out to networks like Al Jazeera to shed light on the serious leadership flaws Abbas and his aides suffer.

    Leadership discredited

    There will be more leaks and further undermining of what remains of the PA’s credibility until there is a serious change in the decision-making process, so that it is more inclusive and representative of the people.

    The US and Western countries must reconsider their approach toward the regimes of the Middle East. It will no longer suffice for America’s horse to use the banner of moderation and Western values, and the need to fight Islamists, to crush all opposition. After all, everyone in the Arab world knows that this is not how America chooses its own leaders and treats its own political opposition.

    This is a crucial moment for the US, which needs to think long and hard about its interests in the region, through the prism of the wants and needs of the Arab masses, not by gambling and hedging bets on this or that American horse. The more time the US and Israel waste by not supporting the young Arab voices calling for political reform, the less likely they will be to find an ally in these revolutionaries once they take over their own destiny.

    The lesson to be learned is that America’s horse can’t win the race. Has President Obama learned this lesson? We will know by the way he handles Egypt − and Palestine − and by what message he sends to the Arab masses yearning for political freedom. Until then, all bets are off.

    This article originally appeared in Haaretz.

    Fadi Elsalameen is a fellow with the New America Foundation’s American Strategy Program. He is also director general of the Palestine Note and Diwan Palestine, internet newspapers in English and Arabic.

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


    Topics in this article



    Jordan protest turns violent


    Anti-government protests become routine on Fridays in Jordan since popular uprisings swept Egypt and Tunisia.

    Last Modified: 18 Feb 2011 23:11 GMT
    Jordan’s king rules by decree and has the power to appoint and dismiss Cabinets and parliament if he chooses [AFP]

    At least eight people have been injured in clashes that broke out in Jordan’s capital between government supporters and opponents at a protest calling for more freedom and lower food prices.

    The protest was the seventh straight Friday that Jordanians took to the streets demanding constitutional reform and more say in decision-making.

    Jordan’s king enjoys absolute powers, ruling by decree: He can appoint and dismiss cabinet and parliament whenever at anytime.

    Amani Ghoul, a teacher and member of the movement that organised the protests insisted the protests will continue until their demands are met.

    “We want a complete overhaul of the political system, including the constitution, the parliament dissolved and new free and fair elections held,” she said.

    Pro-government supporters

    At least 200 government supporters trailed the anti-government protesters, chanting: “Our blood and souls, we sacrifice for you Abu Hussein” – a reference to Jordan’s King Abdullah II before clashing with the opposition march.

    Tareq Kmeil, a student at the protest, said: “They beat us with batons, pipes and hurl rocks at us. We tried to defend ourselves, to beat them back.”

    He said at least eight people suffered fractures to the skull, arms or legs.

    “Police didn’t do anything to protect us. They just stood on the side watching us getting beaten,” Kmeil said.

    Police spokesmen were not immediately available for comment.

    Some pro-government supporters denounced Al-Jazeera, blaming it for fomenting unrest across the Arab world.

    “Al-Jazeera is behind every sickness,” read some of their signs.

    Walid al-Khatib, a Bedouin Sheikh, joined at least 300 pro-government supporters in the western town of Theiban, saying he had to come out to profess his support for the king and country.

    “I love King Abdullah and the stability of Jordan. I don’t want this to ever change,” he said.

    But not everyone is upbeat about the government.

    Akhram Ismail, 50, a government employee of 17 years who earns a meagre $140 per month, said his salary was not enough to feed his six children and wants to see changes to aid the poor.

    Ismail vowed that Jordan would not see an end to the protests anytime soon.

    “The government recently promised civil servants a pay raise of $28, while politicians play with millions,” he said.






    Gaddafi’s turbulent US relations


    Libya has become a key player despite decades-long image of political pariah.

    Rob Reynolds Last Modified: 03 Sep 2009 10:30 GMT

    Libya marks on September 1 the 40th anniversary of the coup that brought Gaddafi to power [AFP]


    A weedy, overgrown backyard in Englewood, New Jersey seemed likely for a time last week to become the scene of the latest flashpoint in Libyan-US relations.

    Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, the Libyan leader, is planning his first visit to the US since he seized power in a military coup 40 years ago. He is set to address the yearly UN General Assembly in September.

    Now, wherever the long-time Libyan leader goes, he likes to take a little bit of Libya with him – in the form of a huge, air-conditioned Bedouin-style tent. He pitched his pavilion in the Kremlin during a visit to Moscow. In Rome, the tent sat prominently in a public park.

    Gaddafi initially planned to set up camp in Manhattan’s Central Park, but Michael Bloomberg, the mayor of New York, said no dice.  So a squadron of gardeners and construction workers descended on the dilapidated estate of Libya’s UN ambassador in lovely Englewood, a suburb of 30,000 people with a large Orthodox Jewish community.

    You can guess what happened next. Protests were organised. Petitions were passed around. Lawsuits flew hither and yon.

    Perhaps unexpectedly, Gaddafi backed down. There will be no tent party in Englewood, and the Colonel will stick to Manhattan on his visit.

    Intense mutual enmity

    In depth

     Profile: Abdel Basset al-Megrahi
     Libyans hail al-Megrahi return
     Bomber’s homecoming slammed
     Release prompts anger and relief
      Video: Al-Megrahi’s release sparks row
      Video: Al-Megrahi speaks out
      Video: Opinions divided over Lockerbie appeal
     Video: Lockerbie remembered
     Al-Megrahi statement in full


    If only all of the disputes between Libya and the US had ended so peacefully. It has been a relationship marked almost from the very start by intense mutual enmity, and both countries have committed many acts of violence toward one another over the decades. 

    Only in very recent years, in a remarkable turnaround, have Libya and the US learnt to live with one another.

    Shortly after seizing power, Gaddafi expelled foreign military forces from his country, forcing the US to shut down its Wheelus Air Force Base.

    The Libyan leader quickly became a dabbler and financier in all sorts of radicalism, giving money, training and safe havens to a diverse array of revolutionaries including hard-line Palestinian revolutionary groups like George Habash’s Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PLFP) and the Abu Nidal faction.

    Gaddafi provided support to Colombia’s M-19 guerrillas, armed Chilean leftist groups, the Irish Republican Army, and a variety of African armed movements.

    He offered a seaside villa to Sirhan Sirhan, the Palestinian-born assassin of US Senator Robert Kennedy, should he ever be paroled from his life sentence in a California prison.

    He infuriated Arab leaders ranging from Yassir Arafat to Saudi Arabia’s King Fahd, whom he once referred to as a pig.

    ‘Sponsor of terrorism’

    In 1999, Libya handed over two agents to the Lockerbie bombing investigation [AFP] 

    In 1979, an angry mob burned down the US Embassy in Tripoli. Soon thereafter the US severed diplomatic ties and designated Libya a “state sponsor of terrorism” and enforced economic sanctions on the African state. 

    But within a few years, shooting and bombing replaced diplomatic slaps and name calling.

    In 1981, two Libyan warplanes fired on US navy jets in the Gulf of Sidra, an area claimed as territorial waters by Libya. The Libyan planes were shot down.

    The Libyan planes were shot down. Five years later, in a similar incident, the US claimed Libya targeted its aircraft patrolling the Gulf of Sidra. US naval forces sank two Libyan patrol boats and bombed a Libyan missile base.

    In April 1986, a bomb exploded in the La Belle discotheque in West Berlin, killing three people including two US military personnel. Evidence of Libyan involvement was discovered and years later a Libyan diplomat was convicted of the killings.

    Ronald Reagan, the then-US president, responded by ordering an air strike on Tripoli and Benghazi. One of the targets was Gaddafi’s residential compound. The Colonel escaped but his adopted 15-month-old daughter was killed.

    Lockerbie bombing

    Many conspiracy theories have been expounded about who was really responsible for the Lockerbie bombing of Pan Am flight 103 in 1988.

    Some contend it was the work of a Palestinian faction, others point to Iran, saying it no coincidence that the Lockerbie explosion came five months after an Iran Air flight was shot down by the US warship Vincennes in the Gulf, killing 290.

    The facts are, however, that in 1999 Libya handed over two intelligence agents who were tried in a special Scottish court, and in 2003 admitted a measure of responsibility for the Lockerbie bombing that killed 270 people.

    Whether Libya made a “false confession” in order to get out from under crippling sanctions, as some contend, may or may not be known some day. UN sanctions were lifted in 2003, although some unilateral US sanctions remained in place.

    George Bush, the former US president, believed his invasion of Iraq served as a warning to Libya, forcing it to bring its behaviour back to within international norms.

    In December 2003, Gaddafi announced Libya was scrapping its programme to build weapons of mass destruction.

    A subsequent UN inspection team found no evidence Libya was working on nuclear arms. Back-channel negotiations between the US, UK and Libya had reportedly been underway since 2002.

    In 2004, The US and Libya resumed diplomatic relations, and the US dropped sanctions. In 2006 the US removed Libya from its list of ‘state sponsors of terrorism’.

    By 2008, Gaddafi had behaved himself so admirably in the eyes of the US that he was treated to a visit by Condoleezza Rice, the redoubtable US secretary of state .

    The final touch came in July of this year when Gaddafi, swathed in multiple multicoloured patterned silk robes, shawls and an gold-embroidered red pillbox hat, shook hands with Barack Obama, the US president, at a multinational summit in Italy.

    While Libya has reoriented its foreign policy and abandoned its overt support for radicals of all stripes, little has changed to make life freer and more democratic for the Libyan people.

    The Gaddafi dynasty

    The US has objected to Gaddafi, left, giving al-Megrahi, right, a hero’s welcome [AFP]  

    Gaddafi rules with the help of an insidious and pervasive mukhabarat, or secret police, apparatus. 

    Far from beginning to transition his country toward democratic institutions, the flamboyant Colonel has apparently taken his cue from Syria and North Korea in preparing for a dynastic succession that would put his son Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi in charge.

    The rapturous ceremony afforded to the cancer-stricken Lockerbie bomber Abdel Basset al-Megrahi on his return to Tripoli after release from Scotland on “compassionate” grounds has somewhat spoilt the newly chummy relationship.

    Video of the Libyan dictator hugging the convicted Lockerbie bomber did not go down well with the public, or with the US Congress. Obama called the scene “highly  objectionable”.

    It does seem hypocritical of Obama and Gordon Brown, the British prime minister, to appear more upset about al-Megrahi’s welcome-home party than they are over the baffling decision by Scotland’s not-quite-ready-for-prime-time Scottish National Party government to set him free in the first place.

    And new evidence has emerged, in the form of hitherto secret memorandums, that strongly suggests the UK government leaned on Edinburgh to release Megrahi in order to (surprise!) grease a lucrative oil deal with Tripoli.

    The Englewood uproar can be seen as a metaphor for how the West now treats Gaddafi. Having lots of Libyan oil on the market certainly is nice, and Western oil companies love having another country to exploit.

    To sanitise a pungent saying favoured by President Lyndon Johnson, it’s better to have Gaddafi inside the tent spitting out, than outside the tent spitting in.

    But like the citizens of Englewood, the US certainly doesn’t want Gaddafi setting up his tent in its backyard.

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




    Protesters retake Bahrain square


    Anti-government protesters back in Pearl roundabout after troops and police withdraw from protest site in capital.

    Last Modified: 19 Feb 2011 14:24 GMT
                               [WARNING: This video contains images that some viewers may find disturbing]Thousands of anti-government protesters have reoccupied their former stronghold in the capital, Manama, after troops and riot police retreated from the Pearl roundabout in the centre of the city.The cheering protesters carrying Bahraini flags, flowers and signs that said “Peaceful, peaceful” marched
    to the square on Saturday. They chanted, “We are victorious”.Protesters kissed the ground in joy and took pictures of about 60 police vehicles leaving the area.Sheikh Salman bin Hamad al-Khalifa, the crown prince, had earlier in the day ordered the military to withdraw, saying that the police would now be responsible for enforcing order, the Bahrain News Agency reported.Soon after the crown prince’s directive, protesters had attempted to stream back to the roundabout, but were beaten back by the police. According to the Reuters news agency, about 80 protesters were taken to a hospital after being hit by rubber bullets or teargas.The protesters, however, were successful in the next attempt, when the riot police withdrew from the traffic circle as well.Symbolic centre

    The Pearl roundabout, the symbolic centre of the protesters’ uprising, had been the scene of heavy-handed crackdown. Several demonstrators were killed and many injured as security forces cleared the area of protesters in a pre-dawn attack on Thursday morning.It was the scene of shootings again on Friday night when troops opened fire on protesters with live rounds.An Al Jazeera correspondent in Bahrain, who we cannot name for security reasons, said the reoccupation of the roundabout by the protesters left one to wonder what the violence during the previous days was all about. “It makes one ask what those deaths were for,” he said.

    The withdrawal of the troops and police from the roundabout appeared to be concessions extended by the authorities to the protesters.

    ‘Time for dialogue’

    The opposition, In rejecting a call from the crown prince for a dialogue, had earlier said the government must resign and the army should be withdrawn before any talks with the ruling family can begin.

    Ibrahim Mattar, a member of the Wefaq bloc which quit parliament on Thursday, said his party did not believe there was a “serious will for dialogue because the military is in the streets”.

    Sheikh Hamad ibn Isa Al Khalifa, the King of Bahrain, had earlier asked the crown prince, to start a national dialogue “with all parties”.

    The tiny kingdom has been in upheaval with the Shia majority taking to the streets in thousands against the Sunni rulers.
    Meanwhile, the General Union of Bahraini Workers has called a strike from Sunday, according to a member of the workers union at national flag carrier Gulf Air.

    Also on Saturday, Catherine Ashton, the European Union’s foreign policy chief, called for the dialogue process to begin “without delay”. She also said that she was “deeply concerned” by reports of the use of violence by security forces, and called on all sides to show “restraint”.

    Speaking on state television on Friday evening, the crown prince called for calm, saying it was “time for dialogue, not fighting”.
    “The dialogue is always open and the reforms continue,” Sheikh Hamad al-Khalifa said on Bahrain TV.
    “We need to call for self-restraint from all sides, the armed forces, security men and citizens,” he said. “I urge you, there should be calm. Now is time for calm.”

    But protesters have so far shown little appetite to heed his calls, with anger sweeping the streets following the shootings by security forces.

    US condemns violence

    Barack Obama, the US president, discussed the situation with King Al Khalifa of Bahrain in a telephone calln on Friday, asking him to hold those responsible for the violence accountable.

    He said in a statement that Bahrain must respect the “universal rights'” of its people and embrace “meaningful reform”.
    “I am deeply concerned about reports of violence in Bahrain, Libya and Yemen.

    The United States condemns the use of violence by governments against peaceful protesters in those countries and wherever else it may occur,” he said.

    “The United States urges the governments of Bahrain, Libya and Yemen to show restraint in responding to peaceful protests and to respect the rights of their people.”

    On Friday, thousands observed funerals for the four people killed in a pre-dawn raid on a protest encampment at Manama’s Pearl roundabout a day earlier.
    Riot police had used clubs, tear gas and bird-shot guns to break up the crowd of protesters. They also tore down their tents, and blockaded the roundabout with police vehicles and barbed wire. More than 200 were wounded in that raid.

    At the funerals on Friday, many chanted slogans against Bahrain’s ruling Al Khalifa family. They said that while they would earlier have settled for the prime minister being sacked, they were now demanding the fall of the entire ruling government, including the royal family.

    Mourners told Al Jazeera that they were both grief-stricken and angry at the heavy-handedness of the police, and that they were demanding that the international community take notice of what they call the brutality of the security forces.
    As Friday prayers commenced, Sheikh Issa Qassem, a prominent Bahraini Shia Muslim religious leader, delivering his sermon in a northwestern village, described Thursday’s violence as a “massacre”.

    Our correspondent reported that Qassem said the government was attempting to create a “sectarian divide” between Sunnis and Shias. He advocated peaceful protests, saying “violence is the way of the government”, and that protesters should not espouse violent actions.

    “Many of those who in the past came out [to protests] … are afraid. They’re frightened and they don’t want to turn up at a protest … because they are fearful for their lives,” our correspondent said, citing an incident on February 15 in Manama, when at least one person was killed when police fired on a funeral procession.

    Also on Friday, Bahraini state television showed pictures of a pro-government rally, attended by hundreds of people, taking place in Manama, despite a ban on public gatherings.




    Women of the revolution

    Egyptian women describe the spirit of Tahrir and their hope that the equality they found there will live on.

    Fatma Naib Last Modified: 19 Feb 2011 12:11 GMT

    When 26-year-old Asmaa Mahfouz wrote on Facebook that she was going to Cairo’s Tahrir Square and urged all those who wanted to save the country to join her, the founding member of the April 6 Youth Movement was hoping to seize the moment as Tunisians showed that it was possible for a popular uprising to defeat a dictator.

    Mahfouz later explained on Egyptian television that she and three others from the movement went to the square and began shouting: “Egyptians, four people set themselves on fire out of humiliation and poverty. Egyptians, four people set fire to themselves because they were afraid of the security agencies, not of the fire. Four people set fire to themselves in order to tell you to awaken. We are setting ourselves on fire so that you will take action. Four people set themselves on fire in order to say to the regime: Wake up. We are fed up.”

    In a video she subsequently posted online , which quickly went viral, she declared: “As long as you say there is no hope, then there will be no hope, but if you go down and take a stance, then there will be hope.”

    Egyptian women, just like men, took up the call to ‘hope’. Here they describe the spirit of Tahrir – the camaraderie and equality they experienced – and their hope that the model of democracy established there will be carried forward as Egyptians shape a new political and social landscape.

    Mona Seif, 24, researcher
     I have never felt as at peace and as safe as I did during those days in Tahrir 

    The daughter of a political activist who was imprisoned at the time of her birth and the sister of a blogger who was jailed by the Mubarak regime, Mona Seif says nothing could have prepared her for the scale and intensity of the protests.

    “I didn’t think it was going to be a revolution. I thought if we could [mobilise] a couple of thousand people then that would be great.

    I was angry about the corruption in the country, [about the death of] Khaled Said and the torture of those suspected but never convicted [of being behind] the Alexandria Coptic church [bombing].

    I realised this was going to be bigger than we had anticipated when 20,000 people marched towards Tahrir Square on January 25. That is when we saw a shift; it was not about the minimum wage or emergency law anymore. It became much bigger than this, it turned into a protest against the regime, demanding that Mubarak step down and that parliament be dissolved.

    On the night later dubbed ‘the battle of the camels’ when pro-Mubarak thugs attacked us, I was terrified. I thought they were going to shoot us all and get it over with. The turning point for me was when I saw the number of people ready to face death for their beliefs.

    “The turning point for me was when I saw the number of people ready to die for their beliefs”Mona Seif

    I was amazed by the peoples’ determination to keep this peaceful even when we were under deadly attacks. When we caught the pro-Mubarak thugs, the guys would protect them from being beaten and say: ‘Peaceful, peaceful, we are not going to beat anyone up’. That was when I started thinking: ‘No matter what happens we are not going to quit until Mubarak leaves’. The spirit of the people in Tahrir kept us going.

    My friend and I had the role of ensuring that all of the videos and pictures from Tahrir were uploaded and as the internet connection was bad in Tahrir, we would use a friend’s nearby flat to make sure the images made it out so everyone could see what was happening in the square.

    I have never felt as at peace and as safe as I did during those days in Tahrir. There was a sense of coexistence that overcame all of the problems that usually happen – whether religious or gender based.

    Pre-January 25 whenever we would attend protests I would always be told by the men to go to the back to avoid getting injured and that used to anger me. But since January 25 people have begun to treat me as an equal. There was this unspoken admiration for one another in the square.

    We went through many ups and downs together. It felt like it had become a different society – there was one Egypt inside Tahrir and another Egypt outside.

    The moment Tahrir opened up, we saw a lot of people that were not there before and there were reports of females being harassed.

    “There was one Egypt inside Tahrir and another Egypt outside”Mona Seif

    I know that Egypt has changed and we will transfer the spirit of the square to the rest of the country. Before Tahrir if I was [harassed] I would refrain from asking people for help, because there are a lot of people that would disappoint you by blaming you. But I think the spirit of the revolution has empowered us to spread the feeling we established wider and wider. From now on, if anything happens to me, I am going to scream, I am going to ask people to help me and I know that I will find people that will help me.

    I was in front of the TV building when the news broke about Mubarak stepping down. I found myself swept away with people screaming and cheering. It was an emotional moment that I celebrated with strangers. People were hugging me, shaking my hands, distributing sweets. At that moment we were all one.

    I no longer feel alienated from society. I now walk the streets of Cairo and smile at strangers all the time. I have gained a sense of belonging with everyone on the streets of Cairo – at least for now. Before January 25 I was tempted to leave the country. This feeling has changed now, I want to stay here. This is an extension of our role in the revolution, we have to stay here and contribute to changing our society.”

    Gigi Ibrahim, 24, political activist
    In my experience women play a pivotal role in all protests and strikes 

    Political activist Gigi Ibrahim played an instrumental role in spreading the word about the protests.

    “I started [my political activism] by just talking to people [who were] involved [in the labour movement]. Then I became more active and the whole thing became addictive. I went to meetings and took part in protests. I learned very quickly that most of the strikes in the labour movement were started by women.
    In my experience women play a pivotal role in all protests and strikes. Whenever violence erupts, the women would step up and fight the police, and they would be beaten just as much as the men.

    I have seen it during the Khaled Said protests in June 2010 when many women were beaten and arrested. Muslim, Christian – all types of women protested.
    My family always had problems with me taking part in protests. They prevented me from going for my safety because I am a girl. They were worried about the risks. I would have to lie about attending protests.
    When the police violently cleared the square on January 25, I was shot in the back by a rubber bullet while trying to run away from the police as they tear gassed us. I returned to the square, as did many others, the following day and stayed there on and off for the next 18 days.
    As things escalated my dad got increasingly worried. On January 28, my sister wanted to lock me in the house. They tried to stop me from leaving, but I was determined and I went out. I moved to my aunt’s place that is closer to Tahrir Square and I would go there every now and again to wash and rest before returning to the square.
    At first my family was very worried, but as things escalated they started to understand and to be more supportive. My family is not politically active at all.

    The day-to-day conditions were not easy. Most of us would use the bathroom inside the nearby mosque. Others would go to nearby flats where people kindly opened their homes for people to use.

    “[When the pro-Mubarak thugs attacked us] we were unarmed, we had nothing. That night I felt fear but it changed into determination”Gigi Ibrahim

    I was in Tahrir Square on February 2, when pro-Mubarak thugs attacked us with petrol bombs and rocks. That was the most horrific night. I was trapped in the middle of the square. The outskirts of the square were like a war zone. The more things escalated the more determined we became not to stop. Many people were injured and many died and that pushed us to go on and not give up.
    I thought if those armed pro-Mubarak thugs came inside the square it would be the end of us. We were unarmed, we had nothing. That night I felt fear but it changed into determination.

    The women played an important role that night. Because we were outnumbered, we had to secure all the exits in the square. The exits between each end of the square would take up to 10 minutes to reach, so the women would go and alert others about where the danger was coming from and make sure that the people who were battling swapped positions with others so that they could rest before going out into the battle again.

    The women were also taking care of the wounded in makeshift clinics in the square. Some women were on the front line throwing rocks with the men. I was on the front line documenting the battle with my camera. It was like nothing that I have ever seen or experienced before.
    During the 18 days neither I nor any of my friends were harassed. I slept in Tahrir with five men around me that I didn’t know and I was safe.

    But that changed on the day Mubarak stepped down. The type of people who came then were not interested in the revolution. They were there to take pictures. They came for the carnival atmosphere and that was when things started to change. 

    When the announcement came we all erupted in joy. I was screaming and crying. I hugged everyone around me. I went from being happy and crying to complete shock. It took a while for it to sink in.
    The revolution is not over. All of our demands have not yet been met. We have to continue. This is where the real hard work begins, but it will take a different shape than staging sit-ins in the square. Rebuilding Egypt is going to be tough and we all have to take part in this. There are organised strikes demanding workers’ rights for better pay and conditions and those are the battles to be won now.”

    Salma El Tarzi, 33, filmmaker
    What kept us going was the conviction that we did not have any option – it was either freedom or go to jail

    Having never been politically active, Salma El Tarzi was sceptical about the protesters’ chances of getting their demands met until the day when she stood on her balcony and saw the crowds. She decided to join the protesters and has not looked back since.

    “I was protesting on my own on the 26th and 27th, but bumped into my younger brother in the crowd by chance on the 28th. We just carried on from then onward.

    What kept us going was the conviction that we did not have any option – it was either stay and fight for freedom or go to jail.
    My dad has been very supportive. He was getting to the point where he was telling me and my brother: “Don’t run away from gun fire, run towards it.”

    While in Tahrir we were all receiving threatening calls telling us that if we didn’t vacate the square we would be hunted and killed. But we didn’t care at that point. We were at the point of no return.
    Tahrir Square became our mini model of how democracy should be. Living there was not easy. We would use a nearby mosque and I would go to a friend’s house every now and then to wash. But I must admit that conditions were not ideal. It was very cold, we slept on the floor. Some of us had tents and some made their own tents. Let’s put it this way, due to the difficult conditions we called it the ‘smell of a revolution’.

    “Something changed in the dynamic between men and women in Tahrir. When the men saw that women were fighting on the front line that changed their perception of us and we were all united. We were all Egyptians now”Salma El Tarzi

    I was one of many women, young and old, there. We were as active as the men. Some acted as nurses and looked after the wounded during the battles; others were simply helping with distributing water. But there were a great number of women that were on the front line hurling stones at the police and pro-Mubarak thugs.

    The duties in the square were divided. We were very organised. Something changed in the dynamic between men and women in Tahrir. When the men saw that women were fighting in the front line that changed their perception of us and we were all united. We were all Egyptians now.
    The general view of women changed for many. Not a single case of sexual harassment happened during the protests up until the last day when Mubarak stepped down. That is a big change for Egypt.
    The fear barrier was broken for all of us. When we took part in the protests it was just a protest for our basic human rights, but they [the regime] escalated it to a revolution. Their brutality and violence turned it into a revolution. What started as a day of rage turned into a revolution that later toppled the regime that had been in power for 30 years. They [the regime] empowered us through their violence; they made us hold on to the dream of freedom even more. We were all walking around with wounds, but we still kept going. We were even treating injured horses that they had used in their brutal attacks against us.
    Before January 25 I didn’t have faith that my voice could be heard. I didn’t feel like I was in control of my future. The metaphor used by Mubarak that he was our father and we were his children made us feel as though we lacked any motivation.

    The revolution woke us up – a collective consciousness has been awoken.”

    You can follow @FatmaNaib on Twitter


    Bahrain, Libya and Yemen try to crush protests with violence

    Reports of dozens killed by Gaddafi’s security forces, while Bahrain troops leave scores woundedIan Black, Middle East editor, and Martin Chulov in Manama

  • guardian.co.uk, Friday 18 February 2011 19.37 GMT
  • Article history

    Protesters in Tobruk seen knocking over statue of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi’s Green Book in footage posted on YouTube Link to this video

    Violence in Libya and Bahrain has claimed scores of lives and left many more injured as the two Arab countries were united by popular protests that continue to shake the status quo and sound alarm bells across the region and the world.

    A week after Egypt’s president, Hosni Mubarak, was forced to stand down, dozens of Libyans were reported killed by Muammar Gaddafi’s security forces. Meanwhile, Bahraini troops shot dead at least one protester and wounded 50 others after mourners buried four people who were killed on Thursday in the worst mass unrest the western-backed Gulf state has ever seen.

    “We don’t care if they kill 5,000 of us,” a protester screamed inside Salmaniya hospital, which has become a staging point for Bahrain’s raging youth. “The regime must fall and we will make sure it does.”

    Last night footage was posted on YouTube apparently showing Bahraini security forces shooting protesters.

    Western nations have been struggling to adjust their policies in response to the security crackdowns in Arab countries.

    But Britain announced that it was revoking 44 licences for the export of arms to Bahrain amid concern over the violent suppression of protests in the Gulf state. The Foreign Office also said that eight arms export licences to Libya had been withdrawn, while a review of arms exports to the wider region continues.

    Bahrain’s crown prince Sheikh Salman bin Hamad al-Khalifa went on television to promise a national dialogue once calm has returned. But the country’s most senior Shia cleric, Sheikh Issa Qassem, condemned attacks on protesters as a “massacre” and said the government had shut the door to such dialogue.

    While the unrest in Bahrain was broadcast instantly around the world, the unprecedented bloodshed in the remote towns of eastern Libya was far harder for global media to cover.

    Amid an official news blackout in Libya, there were opposition claims of 60 dead as diplomats reported the use of heavy weapons in Benghazi, the country’s second city, and “a rapidly deteriorating situation” in the latest – and the most repressive – Arab country to be hit by serious unrest.

    Libyans said a “massacre” had been perpetrated in Benghazi, al-Bayda and elsewhere in the region. Crowds in the port city of Tobruk were shown destroying a statue of Gaddafi’s Green Book and chanting, “We want the regime to fall,” echoing the slogan of the uprising in Egypt.

    Umm Muhammad, a political activist in Benghazi, told the Guardian that 38 people had died in the city. “They [security forces] were using live fire here, not just teargas. This is a bloody massacre – in Benghazi, in al-Bayda, all over Libya. They are releasing prisoners from the jails to attack the demonstrators.” Benghazi’s al-Jala hospital was appealing for emergency blood supplies to help treat the injured.

    News and rumours spread rapidly via social media websites including Twitter and Facebook, but information remained fragmentary and difficult to confirm.

    In Yemen at least five people were reported killed when security forces and anti-government protesters clashed for a seventh consecutive day in the capital, Sana’a, Aden and other cities, with crowds demanding an end to President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s 32-year rule.

    Barack Obama said he was “deeply concerned” about the reports of violence from Bahrain, a close ally and the base of the US fifth fleet, as well as those from Libya and Yemen, and he urged their rulers to show restraint with protesters.

    Navi Pillay, the UN high commissioner for human rights, also condemned the killings of protesters in Algeria, Bahrain, Iran, Iraq, Libya and Yemen. “The Middle East and North Africa region is boiling with anger,” he said. “At the root of this anger is decades of neglect of people’s aspirations to realise not only civil and political rights, but also economic, social and cultural rights.”

    In Cairo’s Tahrir Square, the influential Egyptian cleric Sheikh Yusef al-Qaradawi said the Arab world had changed and said Egypt’s new military leaders should listen to their people “to liberate  us from the government that Mubarak formed”.

    It has also emerged that the Ministry of Defence has helped train more than 100 Bahraini army officers in the past five years at Sandhurst and other top UK colleges.

    Een helder verhaal van Bertus Hendriks en Roel Meijer over de ook in Nederland veel besproken Moslimbroederschap (http://religionresearch.org/martijn/2011/02/19/utopische-moslimbroeders-zijn-realisten-geworden/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+religionresearch%2FuWnN+%28C+L+O+S+E+R%29):

    Utopische Moslimbroeders zijn realisten geworden

    19 February 2011 9 views No Comment

    Guest Authors: Bertus Hendriks & Roel Meijer

    Het is bijna onmogelijk een nuchter debat te voeren over de politieke islam, waarvan de Moslimbroederschap de belichaming vormt. Een voorbeeld is het artikel van Hala Naoum Nehme over de rol van de Moslimbroederschap in de omwenteling in Egypte (Opinie & Debat, 14 februari). Eens een dief, altijd een dief, zo zou je haar analyse kunnen samenvatten.

    De Moslimbroederschap heeft in het verleden inderdaad een revolutionair islamitisch programma uitgedragen. Dit heeft overigens in Egypte nooit tot enig resultaat geleid. Toen de Broederschap in 1954 door de toenmalige Egyptische president Nasser beschuldigd werd van een poging tot staatsgreep, volgde een genadeloze repressie die veel heeft bijgedragen aan de radicalisering van de Broederschap en haar toenmalige chef-ideoloog Sayyid Qutb. Deze is een belangrijke inspiratiebron geworden voor de extreme en gewelddadige jihadstrijders van Gama’at Islamiyya, Jihad Islamiyya en de Al-Qaida variëteit.

    Afstand genomen

    Maar sindsdien heeft de Broederschap onder Hassan al-Hudeibi, de opvolger van oprichter Hassan al- Banna, nadrukkelijk afstand genomen van de gewelddadige opvattingen van Sayyid Qutb. En is de Broederschap begonnen aan een ‘lange mars door de instituties’ die karakter en opstelling van de Broederschap ingrijpend heeft veranderd.

    De afgelopen dertig jaar heeft de Moslimbroederschap geleerd dat politiek bedrijven gepaard gaat met het sluiten van compromissen. Dat bleek niet alleen uit haar deelname aan de verkiezingen van 1984, 1987 en 2005, maar vooral uit de manier waarop de beweging opereerde in beroepsorganisaties als de Journalistenbond, de Artsenbond, de Orde van Advocaten en andere standsorganisaties. Daar heeft ze door haar pragmatische opstelling veel invloed verworven. Ook de wijze waarop de 88 in 2005 gekozen parlementariërs van de Broederschap hebben geopereerd bevestigt dit proces van geleidelijke hervorming. Dat ging niet zonder slag of stoot. Radicale facties hebben zich verbitterd afgescheiden, terwijl vooral jongere kaderleden voor wie de modernisering niet snel genoeg ging, zich afscheidden. Die richtten de Wasat-partij op, door Mubarak eveneens illegaal verklaard. Maar ook onder hen die de Broederschap trouw bleven, woedden discussies; tussen de oude garde en de generatie van mensen als Issam al-Ariaan die nu prominent naar voren treedt, en vervolgens ook tussen die generatie en de nog veel jongere Broederbloggers.


    De hervormingstrend en de obstakels daarbij komen ook tot uitdrukking in de heftige discussies rond een ontwerpbeginselprogramma waarin de Broederschap nadrukkelijk ingaat op economische en sociale kwesties en niet alleen de slogan ‘islam is de oplossing’ bezigt. Met deze verschuiving van utopisme naar praktische politiek en belangenbehartiging is het idee van een islamitische staat geleidelijk achter de horizon verdwenen.

    Zelfs de invoering van de sharia is op de achtergrond geraakt. Dat was ook niet zo’n issue omdat de Moslimbroederschap zich makkelijk kon vinden in het door Sadat ingevoerde grondwetsartikel dat de sharia de voornaamste bron van wetgeving is. Dit illustreert nog eens de stelling van Olivier Roy, dat de regimes die hun dictatoriale optreden rechtvaardigen met de noodzaak de Moslimbroederschap tegen te houden, de secularisatie allerminst hebben bevorderd. Om het gras voor de voeten van de Broeders weg te maaien, werd de islamisering door het regime juist bevorderd. Daar kunnen de Kopten over meepraten.

    18 karaats-democraten

    Betekent dit dat de Moslimbroeders nu 18 karaats-democraten geworden zijn? Natuurlijk niet, en dat soort romantische illusies koesteren wij ook niet. Zo huldigt de Broederschap zeer problematische standpunten op het terrein van gelijke rechten voor vrouwen en niet-islamitische minderheden. De meningen zijn intern sterk verdeeld. Terwijl de meest liberale vertegenwoordigers bereid zijn een vrouw of een koptische christen als president te accepteren, is dit voor de oude garde nog een brug te ver.

    Niet minder tekenend is de strijd om de voorrang tussen de twee principes van de beweging, namelijk de soevereiniteit van het volk en de sharia. Bepaalt de democratische wil van het volk de wet of moeten alle wetten uiteindelijk toch getoetst worden aan de sharia door een raad van geestelijken? De discussie daarover zal snel beslecht moeten worden nu de Broederschap besloten heeft met een eigen politiek partij aan de verkiezingen deel te nemen. Dat dwingt op deze en andere heikele punten met een concreet en duidelijk standpunt te komen.


    Al deze ontwikkelingen afdoen als met twee monden spreken van een wolf in schaapskleren is een versleten, maar ook niet te weerleggen argument. Harde taal bewijst immers het extremistische en fundamenteel ondemocratische karakter van de beweging, concrete en zichtbare hervormingen bewijzen alleen maar de geheime agenda van de beweging om de wereld zand in de ogen te strooien. In dit gesloten wereldbeeld heb je altijd gelijk. Maar steeds meer beleidsmakers, van het Arab Reform Project van de Carnegie Foundation tot de CIA, zijn ervan overtuigd dat het toekomstscenario van de Moslimbroederschap het Turkse model is en niet het Iraanse.

    Het is belangrijk dat de Broederschap kan meedoen aan eerlijke en vrije verkiezingen waar ze de concurrentie moet aangaan met geloofwaardige, seculiere partijen, voor wie niet ‘islam’ maar ‘Tunesië’ de oplossing is. Die moeten dan wel de tijd krijgen zich te organiseren, dus geen overhaaste verkiezingen waarbij de Broederschap met zijn goed gewortelde netwerk een onevenredige voorsprong geniet.

    Er is na de ‘revolutie van de jeugd’ die de Broederschap evenzeer heeft overvallen als het regime, voldoende reden de uitslag van die verkiezingsstrijd met het nodige vertrouwen tegemoet te zien.

    Bertus Hendriks en Roel Meijer zijn beiden verbonden aan Clingendael. Roel Meijer is eveneens verbonden aan de afdeling Islam & Arabisch van de Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen en redacteur (met Edwin Bakker) van de bundel The Muslim Brotherhood in Europe: Burdens of the Past, Challenges of the Future (2011).



    The revolution is not over

    Adam Shatz 11 February 2011


    The demonstrations that have rocked Egypt for the last 18 days have turned into a nation-wide street party, and it is impossible not to be moved by the scenes of Egyptians celebrating their victory. The dictator who ruled Egypt for the last 30 years has been forced from office by non-violent, civil disobedience on a scale not seen since the 1979 revolution in Iran. And the principal agent of transformation – until today, when Mubarak stood down and the army took over – has been the Arab citizen, a striking change in a region where the romanticised figure of ‘resistance’ has been the soldier, the guerilla and, at times, the suicide bomber. At the White House press conference today, Obama and his press officer Robert Gibbs insisted that Egypt’s revolution was really just about Egypt, but they knew better: Washington’s policy during the crisis had been driven by fear of regional instability, and by the fears whispered into the administration’s ears by Israel and the Saudis, and shifted only when Mubarak became a clear liability to American interests.The success of the Egyptian revolutionary model will be studied closely, and its lessons applied. The realisation of the Egyptian dream is the nightmare of Arab despots, and of Binyamin Netanyahu.

    But the revolution in Egypt is not over: in fact, it has only begun. Mubarak’s removal from power was only the first objective of Egypt’s demonstrators. It was not just Mubarak but the regime that they want to dislodge, and to replace with a democratic government based on the rule of law. One of the pillars of the regime is the institution that is now improbably cast as the national saviour: the army. The army is respected, even admired by most Egyptians for its role in defending the country’s borders, and for its success in the 1973 war. It has always kept – officially – a discreet distance from the day-to-day running of the country, but it has also acquired a deep investment in the status quo, particularly in the country’s economy: the army is involved in the production of everything from washing machines and heaters to clothing and pharmaceuticals, and is estimated to own about a third of the country’s assets. Nor does it have much incentive to make any changes in foreign policy that might affect the terms of US aid: $1.3 billion per year.

    One of the least convincing slogans in Tahrir Square has been ‘the people and the army, standing together’. One can hardly blame the protesters for expressing this hope: it was, arguably, a necessary fiction, without which millions of people would not have dared to turn out to call for Mubarak to stand down. The army played its cards well. Under strong pressure from Robert Gates, it did not fire on demonstrators, and, after Mubarak’s non-resignation speech yesterday – a fantastic tribute to the powers of self-deception – it finally decided to wash its hands of him. But the army did not join the movement, either: a critical phase in classical revolutions. And the communiqués issued by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces of Egypt have been ambiguous at best, full of vague promises and calls for people to return home. Certainly they indicate no conversion to the principle of civilian rule. The supreme council, now at the helm of power, was chosen and shaped by Mubarak; its chairman is the defence minister, Mohammed Hussein Tantawi, described in a 2008 WikiLeaks cables as ‘aged and change-resistant’. It is not a description that inspires confidence.

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