Mijn hersenspinsels en gedachtekronkels

Nawal el-Saadawi over de tweede omwenteling in Egypte

Hoewel het misschien nog te vroeg is om de ‘tweede fase’ van de revolutie in Egypte te duiden (is het een contra-revolutie en een terugkeer naar de oude situatie of een correctie op een dreigende ontsporing?), hier een interview met Nawal al-Saadawi (Kafr Tahla, 1931), arts, schrijfster en zo’n beetje de belangrijkste feministe van de Arabische wereld. Iemand voor wie ik een grote bewondering heb. Bij de demonstraties op het Tahrirplein die leidden tot de val van dictator Mubarak, stond zij daar als ‘Grootmoeder van de Revolutie’, samen met de jongeren. Met een lang verleden als dissdent en als politieke gevangene, was zij nergens bang voor. Ook daarna niet.
Hoe het verder zal gaan weet niemand zeker. Maar zij is in ieder geval hoopvol. Zie interview hieronder (filmpje van de site van de Guardian)

Biografie (van haar website http://www.nawalsaadawi.net/ )


Nawal El Saadawi is a world renowned writer. She is a novelist, a psychiatrist, and author of more than forty books, fiction and non fiction. She writes in Arabic and lives in Egypt. Her novels and her books on the situation of women have had a deep effect on successive generations of young women and men over the last five decades.

As a result of her literary and scientific writings she has had to face numerous difficulties and even dangers in her life. In 1972, she lost her job in the Egyptian Ministry of Health because of her book “Women and Sex” published in Arabic in Cairo (1969) and banned by the political and religious authorities, because in some chapters of the book she wrote against Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and linked sexual problems to political and economic oppression. The magazine Health, which she founded and had edited for more than three years, was closed down in 1973. In September 1981 President Sadat put her in prison. She was released at the end of November 1981, two months after his assassination. She wrote her book “Memoirs” from the Women’s Prison on a roll of toilette paper and an eyebrow pencil smuggled to her cell by an imprisoned young woman in the prostitutes ward. From 1988 to 1993 her name figured on death lists issued by fanatical religious political organizations.

On 15 June, 1991, the government issued a decree which closed down the Arab Women’s Solidarity Association over which she presides and handed over its funds to the association called Women in Islam. Six months before this decree the government closed down the magazine Noon, published by the Arab Women’s Solidarity Association. She was editor-in-chief of the magazine.
During the summer of 2001, three of her books were banned at Cairo International Book Fair. She was accused of apostasy in 2002 by a fundamentalist lawyer who raised a court case against her to be forcibly divorced from her husband, Dr. Sherif Hetata. She won the case due to Egyptian, Arab and international solidarity. On 28 January, 2007, Nawal El Saadawi and her daughter Mona Helmy, a poet and writer, were accused of apostasy and interrogated by the General Prosecutor in Cairo because of their writings to honor the name of the mother .

They won the case in 2008. Their efforts led to a new law of the child in Egypt in 2008, giving children born outside marriage the right to carry the name of the mother. Also FGM is banned in Egypt by this law in 2008. Nawal El Saadawi was writing and fighting against FGM for more than fifty years.

Her play “God Resigns At the Summit Meeting” was banned in Egypt during November 2006 and she faced a new trial in Cairo court raised against her by Al Azhar in February 2007, accusing her of apostasy and heresy because of her new play. She won the case on 13 May 2008.

Nawal El Saadawi had been awarded several national and international literary prizes, lectured in many universities, and participated in many international and national conferences.

On May 3, 2009, in New York she presented the Arthur Miller Lecture at the Pen International Literary Festival.
Her works have been translated into more than thirty languages all over the world, and some of them are taught in a number of universities in different countries.

Een aantal bijzondere denkers en schrijvers aan het woord over de Arabische opstanden

Riz Khan – Tariq Ramadan and Slavoj Zizek on the future of Egyptian politics

The revolutionary chants on the streets of Egypt have resonated around the world, but with a popular uprising without a clear direction and an unpopular leader refusing to concede, Egypt’s future hangs in the balance. Riz Khan talks to Muslim scholar Tariq Ramadan and Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Zizek about the power of popular dissent, the limits of peaceful protest and the future of Egyptian politics

Riz Khan – Mother of the revolution

Nawal el-Saadawi has been fighting for change in Egypt for more than half a century. As Egypt prepares to herald in a new era, what role will women play in the emerging political landscape?

A new beginning
As social revolutions sweep through the Arab world, how will they affect the role of the US in the region?
Riz Khan

Will the changes sweeping across the Middle East revolutionise the US’ relationship with the region?

In 2009, Barack Obama, the US president, took the stage at Cairo University and spoke of a new beginning between Washington and the Arab world.


Send us your views and get your voice on the air

Yet, less than two years later, on February 18, 2011 the Obama administration used its first United Nations Security Council veto to strike down a resolution declaring Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem to be illegal.

This leads many to question whether the state of political flux in the Middle East will encourage the US to adopt changes in its foreign policy.

On Monday’s Riz Khan we speak with world-renowned author and historian Tariq Ali. Also on the show is Zalmay Khalilzad, the former US ambassador to the United Nations, Iraq and Afghanistan

The political power of literature

What role do artists and intellectuals play on the frontline of popular uprisings?

For years, writers around the Arab world were silenced by the repressive mechanisms of dictatorial rule. Now the chains of censorship appear to be breaking as the region finds itself on the verge of a new political era.

Is the pen mightier than the sword? Can literature inspire revolutions? And what role do writers and artists have in social revolutions?

Joining us to discuss these electrifying moments are: Ahdaf Soueif, an internationally acclaimed Egyptian writer and cultural commentator; and Hisham Matar, an exiled Libyan writer, whose father, a political dissident, was kidnapped in 1990 never to be seen again.

Also on the show, world-renowned Chilean writer Ariel Dorfman who has been watching the historic scenes around the Middle East and remembering his country’s own history as part of the revolution that swept through Latin America 40 years ago

Empire: Pax Americana

As the winds of change blew across the Arab world, the US, the power that has long dominated the region, has been particularly absent. With all its allies crumbling one after another, what will the US do to maintain its influence in the region? And what can be expected of Israel, the country’s closest ally in the region? Will the spread of democracy lead to a peaceful end to decades of autocratic rule in the Middle East or will the fear of Islamist extremism galvinise Washington’s resolve to reinforce Pax Americana

Egypt AlJazeera Empire Academics Talk (audio)

Marwan Bishara in gesprek met Rashid Khalidi, Clovis Maqsud en Samer Shehata

Een democratische omwenteling in de Arabische wereld?- Deel 1 جزء1 ثورة ديمقراطية في العالم العربي؟

Twee verschillende beelden uit Tunesië, al hadden ze ook uit Egypte kunnen komen (althans, zoals het er nu voor staat). In Tunesië en tot nu toe ook in Egypte lijkt het leger, althans de gewone soldaten, de demonstranten (passief) te steunen, terwijl de politie en andere veiligheidsdiensten het zittende regime verdedigen.


De roep om vrijheid in de Arabische wereld –


 نداء من أجل الحرية في العالم العربي


Nu in Tunesië het regime van Zine el Abidine Ben Ali door een volksopstand is verdreven, komen in Egypte, maar ook elders (zelfs in Jemen), de Arabische massa’s in beweging tegen hun veelal dictatoriale regimes. Wellicht is het te vroeg om conclusies te trekken of om deze ontwikkelingen te plaatsen, maar lijkt er in ieder geval wel op dat er, op verschillende plaatsen in de Arabische wereld, elementen uit het volk in werking treden die een eind willen maken aan de dictatuur en de corruptie en meer vrijheden opeisen. Tot nu toe ziet het er naar uit dat er sprake is van een grassroots beweging, niet van bepaalde politieke partijen, de moslimbroederschap, of door het buitenland aangestuurde krachten. Maar omdat het nog te vroeg is om er iets zinnigs over te zeggen, is het wellicht zinvoller om de ontwikkelingen gewoon te volgen en te registreren. Daarom hieronder een aantal artikelen, fragmenten uit artikelen, of links naar interessant materiaal. Naarmate de ontwikkelingen verder gaan, zal het materiaal worden aangevuld.  

Laten we hopen dat alles de goede kant op gaat en dat de wanhopige zelfmoord van Mohamed Bouazizi niet voor niets is geweest. Hetzelfde geldt voor de dood van Khaled Said, die nu het icoon is geworden van de demonstranten in Egypte. In die zin zijn zij het symbool geworden van de stormachtige ontwikkelingen die zich op dit moment voltrekken. In Tunesië is er in ieder geval veel gebeurd. Het is afwachten hoe de zaken elders gaan verlopen.

Mohamed Bouazizi
Khaled Said  


Chronologisch overizcht van dag tot dag (op de site van de NOS): http://nos.nl/artikel/215322-chronologie-onrust-arabische-wereld.html

Voor de nieuwste ontwikkelingen, bekijk hieronder: 

Al-Jazeera English live


Palestinian Authority closes Al-Jazeera office

klik op bovenstaand logo

Hieronder een serie artikelen of links naar bijdragen (nationaal en internationaal), die ik, om verschillende redenen, de moeite waard vind. Het materiaal zal waarschijnlijk dagelijks worden aangevuld

Hasnae Bouazza, Tunesië (14-1-2011):

“Ik begrijp jullie nu.” Een zichtbaar aangedane Zine el Abidine Ben Ali, de Tunesische Gerhard Schröder, wiens haren met de jaren almaar zwarter werden, begrijpt na 23 jaar tirannie eindelijk wat de mensen willen. Hij heeft daarom maar meteen het vliegtuig gepakt en het land verlaten.

In 1987 kwam hij via een staatsgreep aan de macht. Hij verdreef de 84 jarige Habib Bourguiba die het land al sinds de jaren 50 leidde en die sterk Westers georiënteerd was en uiterst seculier. Zo werden Tunesiërs aangemoedigd niet te vasten tijdens de ramadan. Bourguiba voerde hervormingen door en moderniseerde het land, maar ook hij kon geen afstand nemen van de macht en werd voor het leven benoemd tot hij in 1987 door Zine el Abidine werd verstoten en onder huisarrest geplaatst tot zijn dood in 2000. Tijdens zijn leiderschap werkte Bourguiba aan een decadent familiemausoleum waar hij na zijn dood is bijgezet.

Nu, 23 jaar later, is de man die zich als een verlosser presenteerde dan verdreven. Door het volk.

In alle jaren dat ik de Arabische media en ontwikkelingen bijhoud, was Tunesië het minst toegankelijke land. De binnenlandse kranten hadden elke dag weer Zinedine als hoofdnieuws en betrouwbaar nieuws vinden was lastig. Afgelopen jaar kwam ik af en toe een bericht tegen over een journalist in hechtenis of de onderdrukking, maar het was minimaal.

Verder lezen op http://www.frontaalnaakt.nl/archives/tunesie.html

Robert Fisk: A new truth dawns on the Arab world; Leaked Palestinian files have put a region in revolutionary mood

The Independent, Wednesday, 26 January 2011: http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/fisk/robert-fisk-a-new-truth-dawns-on-the-arab-world-2194488.html

The Palestine Papers are as damning as the Balfour Declaration. The Palestinian “Authority” – one has to put this word in quotation marks – was prepared, and is prepared to give up the “right of return” of perhaps seven million refugees to what is now Israel for a “state” that may be only 10 per cent (at most) of British mandate Palestine. And as these dreadful papers are revealed, the Egyptian people are calling for the downfall of President Mubarak, and the Lebanese are appointing a prime minister who will supply the Hezbollah. Rarely has the Arab world seen anything like this. To start with the Palestine Papers, it is clear that the representatives of the Palestinian people were ready to destroy any hope of the refugees going home.

It will be – and is – an outrage for the Palestinians to learn how their representatives have turned their backs on them. There is no way in which, in the light of the Palestine Papers, these people can believe in their own rights. They have seen on film and on paper that they will not go back. But across the Arab world – and this does not mean the Muslim world – there is now an understanding of truth that there has not been before. It is not possible any more, for the people of the Arab world to lie to each other. The lies are finished. The words of their leaders – which are, unfortunately, our own words – have finished. It is we who have led them into this demise. It is we who have told them these lies. And we cannot recreate them any more. In Egypt, we British loved democracy. We encouraged democracy in Egypt – until the Egyptians decided that they wanted an end to the monarchy. Then we put them in prison. Then we wanted more democracy. It was the same old story. Just as we wanted Palestinians to enjoy democracy, providing they voted for the right people, we wanted the Egyptians to love our democratic life. Now, in Lebanon, it appears that Lebanese “democracy” must take its place. And we don’t like it. We want the Lebanese, of course, to support the people who we love, the Sunni Muslim supporters of Rafiq Hariri, whose assassination – we rightly believe – was orchestrated by the Syrians. And now we have, on the streets of Beirut, the burning of cars and the violence against government. And so where are we going? Could it be, perhaps, that the Arab world is going to choose its own leaders? Could it be that we are going to see a new Arab world which is not controlled by the West? When Tunisia announced that it was free, Mrs Hillary Clinton was silent. It was the crackpot President of Iran who said that he was happy to see a free country. Why was this? In Egypt, the future of Hosni Mubarak looks ever more distressing. His son, may well be his chosen successor. But there is only one Caliphate in the Muslim world, and that is Syria. Hosni’s son is not the man who Egyptians want. He is a lightweight businessman who may – or may not – be able to rescue Egypt from its own corruption. Hosni Mubarak’s security commander, a certain Mr Suleiman who is very ill, may not be the man. And all the while, across the Middle East, we are waiting to see the downfall of America’s friends. In Egypt, Mr Mubarak must be wondering where he flies to. In Lebanon, America’s friends are collapsing. This is the end of the Democrats’ world in the Arab Middle East. We do not know what comes next. Perhaps only history can answer this question.

A new Arab street in post-Islamist times

Posted By Asef Bayat Wednesday, January 26, 2011 – 2:31 PM

The popular uprising in Tunisia has surprised many — Western observers, theArab elites, and even those who have generated this remarkable episode. Thesurprise seems justified. How could one imagine that a campaign of ordinaryTunisians in just over one month would topple a dictator who presided over apolice state for 23 years? This is a region where the life expectancy of‘presidencies’ match only the ‘eternal’ rule of its sheiks, kings, andAyatollahs who bank on oil and political rent (western protection) to hang ontotheir power and subjugate their people. But the wonder about the Jasminerevolution — and the subsequent mass protests in Algeria, Yemen, Jordan, andmore spectacularly in Egypt’s numerous cities on Jan. 25, 2011 — also comesfrom a common mistrust among the Arab elites and their outside allies about theso called ‘Arab street’ — one that is simultaneously feared and pitied for its‘dangerous irrationality’ and ‘deplorable apathy.’

But history gives us a more complex picture. Neither ‘irrational’ and proneto riots nor ‘apathetic’ and ‘dead,’ the Arab street conveys collectivesentiments and dissent expressed by diverse constituencies who possess few orno effective institutional channels to express discontent. The result is astreet politics where Arabs nonetheless find ways to express their views andinterests. Today the Arab street is shifting. With new players and meansof communication, it may usher some far reaching changes in the region’spolitics. Verder lezen op:  http://mideast.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2011/01/26/a_new_arab_street

Asef Bayat is Professor of Sociology and Middle East Studies at theUniversity of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. He is the co-author of BeingYoung and Muslim (Oxford University Press, 2010) and author of Lifeas Politics: How Ordinary People Change the Middle East (StanfordUniversity press, 2010).



The tragic life of a street vendor


Al Jazeera travels to the birthplace of Tunisia’s uprising and speaks to Mohamed Bouazizi’s family.

Yasmine Ryan Last Modified: 20 Jan 2011 15:00 GMT
A town not previously recognised outside of Tunisia is now known as the place where a revolution began [Al Jazeera] 

In a country where officials have little concern for the rights of citizens, there was nothing extraordinary about humiliating a young man trying to sell fruit and vegetables to support his family.

Yet when Mohamed Bouazizi poured inflammable liquid over his body and set himself alight outside the local municipal office, his act of protest cemented a revolt that would ultimately end President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali’s 23-year-rule.

Local police officers had been picking on Bouazizi for years, ever since he was a child. For his family, there is some comfort that their personal loss has had such stunning political consequences.

“I don’t want Mohamed’s death to be wasted,” Menobia Bouazizi, his mother, said. “Mohamed was the key to this revolt.”

Simple, troubled life

Mohamed Bouazizi was 10 years old when he became the main provider for his family, selling fresh produce in the local market. He stayed in high school long enough to sit his baccalaureate exam, but did not graduate. (He never attended university, contrary to what many news organisations have reported).

Bouazizi’s father died when he was three years old. His elder brother lives away from the family, in Sfax. Though his mother remarried, her second husband suffers from poor health and is unable to find regular work.

Al Jazeera’s Ayman Mohyeldin profiles the man whose suicide launched a revolution

“He didn’t expect to study, because we didn’t have the money,” his mother said.

At age of 19, Mohamed halted his studies in order to work fulltime, to help offer his five younger siblings the chance to stay in school.

“My sister was the one in university and he would pay for her,” Samya Bouazizi, one of his sisters, said. “And I am still a student and he would spend money on me.”

He applied to join the army, but was refused, as were other successive job applications. With his family dependant on him, there were few options other than to continue going to market.

By all accounts, Bouazizi, just 26 when he died earlier this month, was honest and hardworking. Every day, he would take his wooden cart to the supermarket and load it would fruit and vegetables. Then he would walk it more than two kilometres to the local souk.

Police abuse

And nearly everyday, he was bullied by local police officers.

“Since he was a child, they were mistreating him. He was used to it,” Hajlaoui Jaafer, a close friend of Bouazizi, said. “I saw him humiliated.”

The body of the man who started a revolution now lies in a simple grave, surrounded by olive trees, cactuses and blossoming almond trees.

The abuse took many forms. Mostly, it was the type of petty bureaucratic tyranny that many in the region know all too well. Police would confiscate his scales and his produce, or fine him for running a stall without a permit.

Six months before his attempted suicide, police sent a fine for 400 dinars ($280) to his house – the equivalent of two months of earnings.

The harassment finally became too much for the young man on December 17.

That morning, it became physical. A policewoman confronted him on the way to market. She returned to take his scales from him, but Bouazizi refused to hand them over. They swore at each other, the policewoman slapped him and, with the help of her colleagues, forced him to the ground.

The officers took away his produce and his scale.

Publically humiliated, Bouazizi tried to seek recourse. He went to the local municipality building and demanded to a meeting with an official.

He was told it would not be possible and that the official was in a meeting.

“It’s the type of lie we’re used to hearing,” said his friend.

Protest of last resort

With no official wiling to hear his grievances, the young man brought paint fuel, returned to the street outside the building, and set himself on fire.

For Mohamed’s mother, her son’s suicide was motivated not by poverty but because he had been humiliated.

“It got to him deep inside, it hurt his pride,” she said, referring to the police’s harassment of her son.

The uprising that followed came quick and fast. From Sidi Bouzid it spread to Kasserine, Thala, Menzel Bouzaiene. Tunisians of every age, class and profession joined the revolution.

In the beginning, however, the outrage was intensely personal.

“What really gave fire to the revolution was that Mohamed was a very well-known and popular man. He would give free fruit and vegetables to very poor families,” Jaafer said.

Tunisian president paid a visit to Bouazizi in hospital [AFP]

It took Ben Ali nearly two weeks to visit Mohamed Bouazizi’s bedside at the hospital in Ben Arous. For many observers, the official photo of the president looking down on the bandaged young man had a different symbolism from what Ben Ali had probably intended.

Menobia Bouazizi said the former president was wrong not to meet with her son sooner, and that when Ben Ali finally did reach out to her family, it was too late – both to save her son, and to save his presidency.

He received members of the Bouazizi family in his offices, but for Menobia Bouazizi, the meeting rang hollow.

“The invite to the presidential palace came very late,” she said. “We are sure that the president only made the invitation to try to derail the revolution.”

“I went there as a mother and a citizen to ask for justice for my son.”

“The president promised he would do everything he could to save our son, even to have him sent to France for treatment.”

The president never delivered on his promises to her family, Menobia Bouazizi said.

Contagious uprising

But by the time Menobia Bouazizi’s son died of his burns on January 4, the uprising had already spread across Tunisia.

Fedya Hamdi, the last police officer to antagonise the street vendor, has since fled the town. She was reportedly dismissed, but her exact whereabouts are unknown.

Meanwhile, the body of the man who started a revolution now lies in a simple grave outside Sidi Bouzid, surrounded by olive trees, cactuses and blossoming almond trees.

He is sorely missed by his family, whose modest house is now one of the busiest in Sidi Bouzid, with a steady flow of journalists who have only just discovered the town where it all began.

“He was very sincere,” Basma Bouazizi, his shy 16-year-old sister, said. “We are like soulless bodies since he left.”

“We consider him to be a martyr,” Mahmoud Ghozlani, a local member of the Progressive Democratic Party (PDP), said in an interview metres away from the spot where the street vendor set himself on fire.

Proof itself of the progress made in four short weeks: such an interview with an opposition activist on the streets of Sidi Bouzid would not have been possible until the day Bouazizi inspired the revolt.

Part One of a two-part series. See also: How the people of Sidi Bouzid launched a revolution.

Follow Yasmine Ryan on Twitter @yasmineryan

How Tunisia’s revolution began


From day one, the people of Sidi Bouzid broke through the media blackout to spread word of their uprising.

Yasmine Ryan Last Modified: 26 Jan 2011 14:39 GMT
Regions like Sidi Bouzid – where the uprisings began – were neglected by former Tunisian president Ben Ali, who tended to focus on developing the northern, tourist-rich regions of the country [Getty] 

Sidi Bouazid, Tunisia – The people of Sidi Bouzid overcame heavy censorship and police repression to ensure that their uprising did not go unnoticed in silence.

Protesters took to the streets with “a rock in one hand, a cell phone in the other,” according to Rochdi Horchani – a relative of Mohamed Bouazizi – who helped break through the media blackout.

Since the same day of the self-immolation of the 26-year-old street vendor that triggered riots causing the Tunisian leadership to flee the country, family members and friends used social media to share the news of what was happening in Sidi Bouzid with international media.

Breaking through the media blackout

Mohamed Bouazizi was not the first Tunisian to set himself alight in an act of public protest.

Abdesslem Trimech, to name one of many cases occurred without any significant media attention, set himself ablaze in the town of Monastir on March 3 after facing bureaucratic hindrance in his own work as a street vendor. 

Neither was it evident that the protests that begin in Sidi Bouzid would spread to other towns. There had been similar clashes between police and protesters in the town of Ben Guerdane, near the border with Libya, in August.

The key difference in Sidi Bouzid was that locals fought to get news of what was happening out, and succeeded.

“We could protest for two years here, but without videos no one would take any notice of us,” Horchani said.

On December 17, he and Ali Bouazizi, a cousin of Mohamed Bouazizi, posted a video of a peaceful protest led by the young man’s mother outside the municipality building. 

That evening, the video was aired on Al Jazeera’s Mubasher channel. Al Jazeera’s new media team, which trawls the web looking for video from across the Arab world, had picked up the footage via Facebook.

Tunisian media, in contrast, ignored the growing uprising until Nessma TV broke the silence on December 29.

And aside from a solid core of activists, most Tunisians did not dare repost the videos on Facebook or even to “like” them, until president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali’s final hours.

Yet even if a muted majority did not actively share news of the protests online until mid-January, Tunisia’s 3.6 million internet users  – a third of the population, one of the highest penetration rates on the African continent, according to Internet World Stats – were able to follow news of the uprising on social media thanks to a solid core of activists.

Throughout the uprising, Tunisian protesters relied on Facebook to communicate with each other. Facebook, unlike most video sharing sites, was not included in Tunisia’s online censorship.

Non-internet users kept abreast of the protests via satellite news channels including Al Jazeera, France 24 and, playing catch-up on its competitors, Al Arabiya.

The hashtags on Twitter tell the tale of how the uprising went from being local to national in scope: #bouazizi became #sidibouzid, then #tunisia.

Media wars get physical

The Tunisian authorities in the region tried every means possible to thwart the flow of videos. There were internet and power outages in Sidi Bouzid and neighbouring towns.

On January 3, a string of web activists were struck by a systematic, government-organised “phishing” operation aimed at wiping out their online dissent.

Bloggers, web activists and a rapper who had published a song criticising the government on YouTube were arrested on January 7.

In spite of the attempts to silence them, people went to extreme lengths to make sure their videos were posted on the web.

Ali Bouazizi still has a black eye where police struck him in retaliation for his videos.

From the courtroom to Facebook

Dhafer Salhi, a local lawyer who witnessed Mohamed Bouazizi’s act of self-immolation, said he asked the head of police to meet with the young man’s family that day to try to defuse the anger on the street.

“I told [the head of police] that if you don’t get [the Bouazizi family] in, the country will be burned,” Salhi said. “He refused, by arrogance and ignorance.”

Frustrated by the lack of accountability by officials, Salhi became an active participant in the protests.

The lawyer used Facebook to organise protests, sending out invites to his friends.

He was one of the web activists targeted by the Tunisian authorities in the phishing operation. They managed to hijack his Facebook account, but Salhi simply created a new account.

Protesters get organised

The protests that erupted in Sidi Bouzid were indeed spontaneous, yet they were marked by a level of organisation and sophistication that appears grounded in the sheer determination of those who participated in them.

The Sidi Bouzid branch of the UGTT was engaged in the uprising from day one.

While the national leadership of the Tunisian General Labour Union (UGTT) is generally viewed as lacking political independence from the ruling class, its regional representatives have a reputation for gutsy engagement.

“The major driving force behind these protesters is the Sidi Bouzid union, which is very strong,” said Affi Fethi, who teaches physics at a local high school.

For Fethi, it was when police killed protesters in nearby towns including Menzel Bouziane and Regueb that the regional protests became a nationwide uprising.

“The person who helped this revolt the most is Ben Ali himself,” he said. “Why didn’t he make [the police] use rubber bullets?”

Everyone interviewed for this article agreed that no opposition party – to the extent that independent parties existed under Ben Ali’s rule – was involved in co-ordinating the early protests, or even in offering moral support.

Grassroots members of some opposition movements did, however, play an active role as individual activists (Ali Bouazizi, for instance, is a member of the Progressive Democratic Party).

Watching the political theatre from afar

Students, teachers, the unemployed and lawyers joined forces in Sidi Bouzid and neighbouring towns, braving torture and arrest.

Nacer Beyaou, a student, said the uprising was about freedom and employment.

The people of Sidi Bouzid feel their region is neglected, he said, and suffer from “abject destitution”.

Yet now that the political momentum has moved to the capital, many locals fear that their region is once again being sidelined.

“They’ve forgotten about us completely. There’s not a single minister from Sidi Bouzid,” the student said.

Summing up the combination of poverty and humiliation that many people in Sidi Bouzid say pushed them to rise up in protest, another man put it this way:

“Every day I ask my father to give me one dinar [70 cents], and I’m thirty years old.”

A sign of the uncertainty that many are feeling here, the man was forthright in his political views, but said he preferred not to give his name “in case Ben Ali comes back”.

Now that the politicians in Tunis have taken over, he said it was like sitting back and watching the theatre.

With the initial euphoria that came when Ben Ali fled the country fast fading, the question here is whether or not there will be any tangible political and economic gains for Sidi Bouzid in the “new” Tunisia.

The conclusion of a two-part series. See also: “The tragic life of a street vendor,” the story of Mohamed Bouazizi.

Follow Yasmine Ryan on Twitter @yasmineryan.


Proud to be a Tunisian

A conversation with Yunus Khazri -by Pooyan Tamimi Arab

Pooyan Tamimi Arab | Monday 24 January 2011 Bookmark and Share

Yunus Khazri has lived half his life outside Tunisia. When he was a young man, he left his native country for Paris hoping to liberate himself from what he experienced as a suffocating and conservative context. His father was an Imam and he was among the few in his family who had a passion for texts, so he was trained in Islamic theology and law by his father and studied Islamology in France. Shortly after his arrival in France, Ben Ali came to power in Tunisia. At that time, Yunus was worried and could not know that he would not return to his country for many years. Today, he feels proud to be a Tunisian. When I visited him in his house in Amsterdam, he could not have looked happier.

“I hope that they know what they’re doing. Of course, I am worried that this revolution could turn out very badly, but at the moment I am very hopeful. In Tunisia, people just want more freedom. We don’t have a terrifying ideological leader – we are Muslims but not Islamists – and are not looking to impose only one view. The people just want democracy, something that will hopefully inspire other Arab countries. Some say that it is better to live in poverty than to live under Ben Ali. This is really essential. It’s an insight about human dignity and the importance of freedom. In the beginning, he wasn’t that terrible but later on things changed for the worse. In the West, no one paid much attention to Tunisia. If something happens in for example Iran, the entire media writes about it. But in the case of Tunisia, no one cared really. Moreover, even though a dictator was running the country, Tunisia was an ally of the West. President Chirac once even said that in Tunisia there is enough food, education and no war, so people should stop complaining. But the opposition in France thought differently and today we see that reality resists such discriminating simplifications. People are not satisfied with just bread. They too want what everybody has in rich countries such as France: freedom! Liberté! Tunisia is a country where an individual such as Mohamed Bouazizi, who set himself on fire in a desperate act of protest, can become a symbol of resistance against the status quo. He and they are a phoenix that will rise from the ashes.”

As Yunus and I were looking at Youtube videos of the events unfolding in Tunisia his niece Lobna, who lives there, called him. Lobna is a young undergraduate student. She studies French and Yunus is very proud that the girls in his family can educate themselves more than in the past. “Now we are independent!” she said enthusiastically. It was hard not to hear how happy and emotional she was. Yunus showed me a picture of her as a teenager, holding an electric guitar. “Young people like rap music, but to me it sounds awkward. Times are changing and they should create new words and a new language. They should not wait for their elders. Thank God for the Internet! Thanks to the new social media, the dictator cannot hope to control everything, for example these new forms of music. For the first time, I really feel proud to be a Tunisian. Of course it is terrible that people have already been killed, but unfortunately freedom is not free. I’m not saying this to justify their deaths for a greater cause. It’s just an unfortunate truism that needs to be learned again and again. Today, I am so happy that these young people have the courage to resist the dictator. Today, I feel as if my dignity as a person has been restored.”

Yunus even opened a bottle of champagne for us to drink and celebrate the resistance in Tunisia. In his enthusiasm he couldn’t help reading a verse from the Qur’an (16: 67): “And from the fruits of the palm trees and grapevines you take intoxicant and good provision. Indeed in that is a sign for a people who reason.”

This entry was posted in Midden-Oosten, Wereld. Bookmark the permalink. Pooyan Tamimi Arab | Monday 24 January 2011

Egypt protest


‘Lente van democratie in Arabische wereld’

Uitgegeven: 28 januari 2011 09:20
Laatst gewijzigd: 28 januari 2011 09:20

TUNIS – De Tunesische oppositieleider Moncef Marzouki rekent erop dat de Egyptische president Hosni Mubarak aftreedt. ,,Egypte zal in het komende jaar een nieuwe president hebben. En dat zal niet opnieuw Mubarak zijn of zijn zoon”, zei de mensenrechtenactivist Marzouki op de Duitse radio.


”Ik ben er zeker van dat er geen nieuwe kandidatuur komt van Mubarak of een machtsoverdracht aan zijn zoon.”

De 65-jarige Marzouki leidt de Congres Partij voor de Republiek (CPR). De partij zet zich in voor een democratisch Tunesië en was verboden onder president Ben Ali. De president is deze maand het land ontvlucht wegens aanhoudende betogingen van de ontevreden bevolking.

Hij verwacht ook dat de leider van Algerije zal vallen, terwijl die van Syrië in moeilijkheden komt. ”Een lente van democratie in de Arabische wereld”, zei hij.



White House wobbles on Egyptian tightrope

Washington needs a friendly regime in Cairo more than it needs a democratic government

Simon Tisdall (bron: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cifamerica/2011/jan/28/obama-clinton-wobble-egypt-mubarak )

guardian.co.uk, Friday 28 January 2011 18.20 GMT

Anti-government protestors clash with riot police in Cairo Anti-government protestors clash with riot police in Cairo in the challenge to President Hosni Mubarak’s 30-year rule. Photograph: Ben Curtis/APCaught off guard by the escalating unrest in Egypt, the Obama administration is desperate to avoid any public appearance of taking sides. But Washington’s close, longstanding political and military ties to President Hosni Mubarak’s regime, plus annual financial support worth about $1.5bn, undermine its claims to neutrality.

While the US favours Egyptian political reform in theory, in practice it props up an authoritarian system for pragmatic reasons of national self-interest. It behaved in much the same way towards Saddam Hussein’s regime in the 1980s, when Iraq was at war with Iran. A similar tacit bargain governs relations with Saudi Arabia. That’s why, for many Egyptians, the US is part of the problem.

Like tottering tightrope walkers, the balancing act performed by Barack Obama and the secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, has been excruciating to watch. When the protests kicked off, Clinton urged all parties “to exercise restraint”. This phrase is useful when politicians are unsure of their ground.

Clinton also struck a lopsided note. “Our assessment is that the Egyptian government is stable and is looking for ways to respond to the legitimate needs and interests of the Egyptian people,” she said. Against a backdrop of street battles, beatings-up, teargas, flying bricks, mass detentions and attempts to shut information networks, her words sounded unreal, even foolish.

Mohamed ElBaradei, the establishment rebel who joined the protests, was flabbergasted. “If you would like to know why the United States does not have credibility in the Middle East, that is precisely the answer,” he said.

Clinton’s emphasis shifted the next day, as if to correct the balance. Mubarak must allow peaceful protests, she said. “I do think it’s possible for there to be reforms and that is what we are urging and calling for.”

Today she said: “We are deeply concerned about the use of violence by Egyptian police and security forces against protesters. We call on the Egyptian government to do everything in its power to restrain security forces.” Still she tried to face both ways: “At the same time, protesters should also refrain from violence and express themselves peacefully.”

Obama maintained he had “always” told Mubarak that reform was “absolutely critical”. But he also wobbled back in the other direction, saying the Egyptian leader was a good friend. “Egypt’s been an ally of ours on a lot of critical issues. Mubarak has been very helpful,” Obama said.

Amid the juggling, one fact may be pinned down: the US would not welcome Mubarak’s fall and the dislocation a revolution would cause in Egypt and across a chronically unstable region. Gradual reforms of the kind Clinton discussed in a recent speech in Doha about the Arab world, and a competitive presidential election this autumn, would probably be Washington’s preferred prescription. As matters stand now, this is the least likely outcome.

Either the regime will suppress the unrest, possibly by ever more brutal means, as happened in Iran in 2009; or the uprising will spiral out of control and the regime will implode, with unpredictable consequences, as in Tunisia. In this latter scenario, one outcome could be a military takeover in the name of national salvation. It has happened before in Egypt, in 1952, when the Free Officers Movement forced King Farouk to abdicate. If it happened again, the US might be expected to endorse it.

That’s because, in the final analysis, the US needs a friendly government in Cairo more than it needs a democratic one. Whether the issue is Israel-Palestine, Hamas and Gaza, Lebanon, Iran, security for Gulf oil supplies, Sudan, or the spread of Islamist fundamentalist ideas, Washington wants Egypt, the Arab world’s most populous and influential country, in its corner. That’s the political and geostrategic bottom line. In this sense, Egypt’s demonstrators are not just fighting the regime. They are fighting Washington, too.

Een bijzonder filmpje dat ik kreeg toegestuurd door een Iraakse vriend

Demonstratie in Amsterdam (Dam), 1-2-2011 (foto Floris Schreve)

New York Times 1-2-2011 http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/02/world/middleeast/02egypt.html?_r=2&hp

Largest Crowds Yet Demand Change in Egypt

Chris Hondros/Getty Images

A man held an Egyptian flag during a massive rally in Tahrir Square on Tuesday in Cairo. More Photos »

Published: February 1, 2011 (New York Times)

Cairo – In a test of wills that seemed to be approaching a critical juncture, more than 100,000 people crammed into Cairo’s vast Tahrir Square on Tuesday, seeking to muster a million protesters demanding the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak.

Their mood was jubilant, as though they had achieved their goals, even though Mr. Mubarak remained in power a day after the Egyptian military emboldened the protesters by saying they would not use force against them and the president’s most trusted adviser offered to negotiate with his adversaries.

There were reports that the government was seeking to choke off access to the capital to thwart the demonstrators’ ambitions for the most decisive show of strength so far. But the scale of the protest was far bigger and more tumultuous than in the previous week, suggesting that the authorities had been unable to prevent the uprising from reaching what had been seen by all sides as a potential turning point. Tens of thousands of people also took to the streets of Alexandria, Egypt’s second city north of Cairo on the Mediterranean coast.

Events around the region have taken unpredictable turns in recent weeks. On Tuesday afternoon, King Abdullah II of Jordan, a small and generally stable nation, made the surprise announcement that he had dismissed the government in response to protesters’ demands for greater freedoms.

The crowd in Cairo offered a remarkable tapestry of Egypt’s society, from the most westernized to the most traditional, from young women with babies to old men with canes. “Look at the faces of the old men — they are young again,” said Ahmed Zemhom, 37, a former math teacher who makes a living as a cab driver.

Seeking to impose some kind of order, the military set up checkpoints to search people entering the square, presumably for hidden weapons, separating them by gender so that women could be patted down only by other females. But there were no immediate reports of clashes, and little sign of any security police.

The fast-moving developments appeared to weaken Mr. Mubarak’s grip on power just two weeks after a group of young political organizers called on Facebook for a day of protest inspired by the ouster of another Arab strongman, in Tunisia.

A Western diplomat, who spoke in return for anonymity because of the sensitivity of the situation, said Monday night’s moves by the military were believed to be part of choreographed maneuvers by the most senior people around Mr. Mubarak to set the stage for his eventual exit.

If that belief is borne out by events, however, it remained to be seen whether protesters would be satisfied by Mr. Mubarak’s departure or would demand more far-reaching change, as demonstrators in Tunisia did after its strongman president, Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, fled in mid-January.

In Tahrir, or Liberation, Square, the chants of the huge crowd suggested that the demonstrators would not stop at Mr. Mubarak’s departure. “The people of Egypt want the president on trial,” some chanted for the first time, while others chorused: “The people of Egypt want the government to fall.”

“Nobody wants him, nobody,” said El-Mahdy Mohamed, one of the demonstrators. “Can’t he see on the TV what’s happening?”

As opposition groups sought to stake out positions, Mohamed ElBaradei, the former head of the International Atomic Energy Agency and a Nobel laureate who has emerged as a potential rallying point for opposition, said on Tuesday that Mr. Mubarak must leave the country before any dialogue can start between the opposition and the government, Reuters reported.

“There can be dialogue but it has to come after the demands of the people are met and the first of those is that President Mubarak leaves,” he told Al Arabiya television. “I hope to see Egypt peaceful and that’s going to require as a first step the departure of President Mubarak. If President Mubarak leaves, then everything will progress correctly.”

His words were apparently a first response to an offer of talks on Monday night by Omar Suleiman, Mr. Mubarak’s right-hand man and newly appointed vice president.

By Tuesday morning, as a formal curfew that many have ignored was lifted, vast crowds flooded into Tahrir Square — a plaza that for some has assumed some of the symbolic importance of Tiananmen Square in Beijing during pro-democracy demonstrations there in 1989.

But, in marked contrast to those events, the military’s promise not to use force has emboldened demonstrators sensing that the political landscape of the country has shifted as decisively as at any moment in Mr. Mubarak’s three decades in power. The military seemed to aggressively assert itself as an arbiter between two irreconcilable forces: a popular uprising demanding Mr. Mubarak’s fall and his tenacious refusal to relinquish power.

And even as the square itself filled up, rivers of protesters flowed from side streets.

Overnight, soldiers boosted their presence around the square, with tanks and armored personnel carriers guarding some of its entrances and stringing concertina wire to block off some streets. The black-clad police — reviled by many protesters as a tool of the regime — also seemed to have been deployed in larger numbers, though not on the same scale as when the protests started a week ago.

News reports said the authorities had sought to isolate Cairo from the rest of the country, throwing up roadblocks on main highways and canceling train and bus services to prevent demonstrators from reaching the city. There was no official confirmation of the report but witnesses said many people who had been stopped at roadblocks simply walked into the center of Cairo.

In a further token of the paralysis of normal business, news reports said, the Cairo stock exchange announced that it would remain closed for a fourth successive day on Wednesday.

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Thousands of foreigners have fled the capital, around 1,200 of them on evacuation flights arranged by the American Embassy that began on Monday. By mid-afternoon on Tuesday, two more flights chartered by the State Department had left Cairo for Istanbul, while passengers were boarding other planes for Athens and Larnaca, Cyprus, officials said. Many more flights were likely on Wednesday.

How far Mr. Mubarak is offering to bend in negotiations remains to be seen, and it appeared to be too soon to write off the survival of his government. In Washington, the State Department on Monday dispatched a veteran diplomatic troubleshooter, Frank Wisner, a former ambassador in Cairo and elsewhere, to meet Mr. Mubarak and other officials.

In a further diplomatic twist, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey — whose country is often held up as a model of Western-style democracy within a predominantly Islamic nation — canceled a visit to Egypt planned for next week, urging Mr. Mubarak to “listen to people’s outcries and extremely humanistic demands” and to “meet the freedom demands of people without a doubt,” Reuters reported.

The week-old uprising here entered a new stage about 9 p.m. on Monday when a uniformed military spokesman declared on state television that “the armed forces will not resort to use of force against our great people.” Addressing the throngs who took to the streets, he declared that the military understood “the legitimacy of your demands” and “affirms that freedom of expression through peaceful means is guaranteed to everybody.”

A roar of celebration rose up immediately from the crowd of thousands of protesters still lingering in Tahrir, or Liberation, Square, where a television displayed the news. Opposition leaders argued that the phrase “the legitimacy of your demands” could only refer to the protests’ central request — Mr. Mubarak’s departure to make way for free elections.

About an hour later, Mr. Suleiman, the vice president, delivered another address, lasting just two minutes.

“I was assigned by the president today to contact all the political forces to start a dialogue about all the raised issues concerning constitutional and legislative reform,” he said, “and to find a way to clearly identify the proposed amendments and specific timings for implementing them.”

The protesters in the streets took Mr. Suleiman’s speech as a capitulation to the army’s refusal to use force against them. “The army and the people want the collapse of the government,” they chanted in celebration. Even some supporters of Mr. Mubarak acknowledged that events may have turned decisively against him after the military indicated its refusal to confront the protesters.

There were some faint dissident voices, however. In Alexandria on Tuesday, young women handed out leaflets to motorists in Alexandria urging people not to attend Tuesday’s demonstrations. “Do not turn yourselves over to outside forces trying to create chaos in our country,” the leaflets said. The argument seemed unlikely to dissuade protesters who had set up tents in front of the Misr train station in central Alexandria.

Mr. Mubarak’s previously unquestioned authority had already eroded deeply over the preceding three days. On Friday, hundreds of thousands of unarmed civilian protesters routed his government’s heavily armed security police in a day of street battles, burning his ruling party’s headquarters to the ground as the police fled the capital. On Saturday, Mr. Mubarak deployed the military in their place, only to find the rank-and-file soldiers fraternizing with the protesters and revolutionary slogans being scrawled on their tanks.

And on Sunday, leaders of various opposition groups met to select Mr. ElBaradei to negotiate for them in anticipation of talks with Mr. Mubarak about forming a transitional unity government — an idea Mr. Mubarak’s surrogate embraced Monday.

Mr. Mubarak’s government came under pressure from another front as well: the swift deterioration of the economy. The protests, and the specter of looting that followed the police withdrawal, have devastated tourism, the source of half of Egypt’s foreign income, and shut down transportation.

On Monday foreign embassies scrambled to book charter flights to evacuate their citizens as thousands of people jammed the Cairo airport trying to flee the country. International companies, including those in the vital oil and natural gas industries, shuttered their operations.

As late as midday, however, Mr. Mubarak seemed to be trying to wait out the protesters. He appeared on television soberly shaking the hands of a new roster of cabinet ministers in a public demonstration that even though protesters may control the streets, he remained head of state.

David D. Kirkpatrick reported from Cairo, and Alan Cowell from London . Reporting was contributed by Mona El-Naggar, Kareem Fahim, Anthony Shadid and Robert F. Worth from Cairo; and Nicholas Kulish from Alexandria.



Pieter Hilhorst

Arabische lente

Pieter Hilhorst, 01-02-2011 08:00


In de angst voor de islamisten openbaart zich een diepgeworteld wantrouwen of democratie en islam wel kunnen samengaan.

Een spook waart door het Midden-Oosten. In Egypte komt het volk in opstand tegen een autoritair regime dat duizenden politieke gevangenen in de cel heeft gegooid. Een regime dat politieke tegenstanders martelt. Een regime dat maling heeft aan de vrijheid van meningsuiting en zonder pardon televisiekanalen en het internet afsluit.

Elke democraat zou moeten juichen bij deze revolutie. Zoals de in Amerika woonachtige Egyptische journaliste Mona Eltahawy (volg haar! @monaeltahawy) in een tweet schreef: Moebarak is de Berlijnse muur. ‘Down, down, down with him.’ Hierin klinkt de hoop door van een omwenteling die het hele Midden-Oosten zal bevrijden.


En toch regeert bij velen niet de hoop, maar de angst. De angst dat in Egypte straks islamisten aan de macht komen. Het is een echo van de retoriek waarmee Mubarak al jarenlang zijn ijzeren greep op Egypte rechtvaardigt. Hij presenteert zich als het laatste bastion tegen een tweede Iran aan de Nijl. Het is de retoriek waarmee hij miljarden steun van de Amerikanen heeft binnengeharkt.

Het is niet moeilijk om deze angst voor de politieke macht van islamisten te voeden. Uit een opiniepeiling van Pew Research van vorig jaar blijkt dat ruim driekwart van de Egyptisch moslims voorstander is van steniging als straf voor overspel en van het afhakken van handen van dieven. Van de Egyptische moslims is 85 procent voorstander van een grote rol van de islam in de politiek. Het zijn cijfers die velen doen huiveren. Maar uit dezelfde opiniepeiling blijkt ook dat een grote meerderheid van de Egyptische moslims zich keert tegen Al Qaida en dat vooral onder jongeren een meerderheid niks moet weten van Hezbollah of Hamas.


Het is waar dat de Moslim Broederschap een straf georganiseerde oppositiebeweging is. Maar de Moslim Broederschap staat absoluut niet op één lijn met de machthebbers in Iran. Het is een teken aan de wand dat ze hun steun hebben uitgesproken aan de seculiere ElBaradei als vertegenwoordiger van de oppositie. Bovendien is het opvallend dat in deze opstand de Moslim Broederschap niet het voortouw heeft. De leuzen en eisen zijn niet religieus, maar praktisch: Mubarak moet aftreden. Het gaat deze activisten niet om de kleding van de vrouwen, maar om vrijheid, banen en brood.

In de angst voor de islamisten openbaart zich een diepgeworteld wantrouwen of democratie en islam wel kunnen samengaan. Mensen die geloven dat dit onmogelijk is presenteren zich graag als realisten. Zij durven de pijnlijke waarheid onder ogen te zien. Maar die pijnlijke waarheid leidt ook tot pijnlijke politieke conclusies. Het betekent namelijk dat landen waarvan de meerderheid van de bevolking moslim is, maar in twee smaken komen. Of een autoritair regime houdt met behulp van het leger de islamitische massa in bedwang of de islamitische meerderheid laat zich gelden en dan komt er een tweede Iran. De naïviteit van deze zogenaamde realisten is dat ze denken dat die autoritaire strategie op lange termijn houdbaar is.

Derde weg

De protesten in Egypte voeden de hoop dat er een derde weg mogelijk is. Een democratische rechtsstaat waar islamitische politieke partijen niet verboden zijn, maar waar die partijen zich wel conformeren aan de spelregels van de democratische rechtsstaat, zoals de vrijheid van godsdienst, de vrijheid van meningsuiting en de bescherming van minderheden. Mensen die geloven dat zo’n derde weg, zo’n Arabische lente mogelijk is, zoals de Arabiste Petra Stienen die het boek schreef Dromen van een Arabische Lente, worden vaak weggezet als naïeve dromers.

Er is inderdaad geen garantie dat deze derde weg in Egypte zal overwinnen. Maar waarom wordt hoop als emotioneel afgeserveerd en angst als realistisch verkocht? Angst is ook een emotie en Egypte laat zien dat wie zich door angst laat leiden, kiest voor een strategie die onhoudbaar en dus naïef is.


Er waart een spook door Egypte. En iedereen die zich wijs maakt dat dit een islamistisch spook is, doet zichzelf tekort. Hij doet de democratische krachten in Egypte tekort. Hij doet de jongeren tekort die de straat op gaan, omdat ze wel naar de universiteit zijn geweest, maar nu geen baan kunnen vinden. Hij doet de politieke gevangenen tekort die vanwege hun opvattingen jarenlang gevangen hebben gezeten. Hij doet de mensen tekort die dag na dag het uitgaansverbod aan hun laars lappen om op het plein van de bevrijding de naam van dat plein eer aan te doen.





Al-Hayat (English)

The Time of Decisions and Generals

Tue, 01 February 2011
Ghassan Charbel

It is no longer a question of whether Egypt is going to change, for it is changing. The question is about the limits of this change: how will it take place? At what frequency? To what extent? Are we faced with a partial reform of the regime or are we on the path to a full-fledged transformation? One might say that some change has taken place through the wave of protests that is invading Egypt. The issue of legacy [of the presidency to Jamal Mubarak] is not on the table anymore, as shown by the appointment of Omar Suleiman as Vice-President. The structure of the government that was announced yesterday and the absence of businessmen in it also enter within the same context. What is taking place in the ruling party confirms this trend.

In light of the current situation, it can also be said that it is entirely unlikely that President Husni Moubarak will be a candidate in the upcoming presidential elections next fall. The events also imposed a third point, which is the acknowledgment from inside the regime itself that the last legislative elections were rigged on a large scale. The fall of Ahmed Ezz from his position in the party was like an admission of the validity of the accusations that were made against these elections. The fourth point is the increased conviction that it is impossible to exit the current crisis except through a broad national dialogue that would translate the decision to listen to people. Dialogue means being ready to at least look into the amendments to the constitution that are being demanded by the opposition.

Thus, the participants in the protests can say that their movement has imposed some change on the situation that has been in the country for three decades. The decision-maker realized that it is impossible to deal with the emerging situation with the security tools. The appointments were a clear recognition. The regime certainly preferred the return of calm and the imposition of security before making any change or appointment. But it concluded that going back to the previous methods is impossible. What is happening is completely new and unprecedented and cannot be treated with the medication that belongs to a bygone era.

The time factor holds exceptional importance in such great crises. Sometimes hours or days are spent in hesitation, cautiousness, or trying to renew the wager on an old lexicon or in fear. Time is golden in great crises. You might have to accept on Thursday what is worse than what you rejected on Monday. And what is accepted on Thursday might be outdone by time on Saturday, as the voice of the street burns phases and half solutions.

The protest movement made Egypt enter a transitory phase. The question is about who is leading this phase and what are its reins. Here, we must turn to the army, from which ranks the President has come for sixty decades. The past few days have shown that the army, which dealt very wisely with the protests movement, has great acclaim in the country. We saw the protestors welcome and greet the army tanks and write some of their demands on them. The army refrained from repressing the protests movement, but this absolutely doesn’t mean that it decided to fully bow to the street movement and that it will be ready to accept the determination of the regime’s future in the street itself.

It is evident that the recent appointments did not convince the protestors. Any success of the one-million-person protest that protestors called for organizing today will mean the draining of any positive impact that the appointments could have made. The success will raise the ceiling of demands and push them towards the claim for turning the page immediately. The attention is shifted towards the army and its readiness to accept a full change that goes beyond the president to encompass the regime itself. The army might consider such change to hold some risks in the absence of a clear leadership by the opposition and in the absence of a great, effective, and accepted opposition force with which the army can reach a settlement, and which would not cause a change in the regime’s foundations and Egypt’s position.

Egypt is approaching the hour of the decisive test. It is most probable that some generals are looking at their watches. The phase of overthrows is over, but the loss of the game from the army’s hands will be dangerous. Hence, a “road map” is needed to come out of the crisis, one that is based on listening to people and setting stability regulators for a transitory phase that has clear features and goals.



Toespraak Mubarak


Middle East
Mubarak to stay on till election


Violence erupts in Alexandria shortly after Egyptian president’s speech offering a mixture of concessions and defiance.
Al Jazeera Online Producer Last Modified: 02 Feb 2011 01:40 GMT


Mubarak’s televised announcement came after eight days of unprecedented nationwide protests [EPA]

CAIRO, EGYPT – Hosni Mubarak, the Egyptian president, has announced in a televised address that he will not run for re-election but refused to step down from office – the central demand of millions of protesters who have demonstrated across Egypt over the past week.His announcement follows a week of protests, in which millions of people have taken to the streets in Cairo and elsewhere.Mubarak seemed largely unfazed by the protests during his recorded address, which aired at 11pm local time on Tuesday.Shortly after his speech, clashes broke out between pro-Mubarak and anti-government protesters in the Mediterranean city of Alexandria, Al Jazeera’s correspondent reported.

  Update: Egypt protests
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  Debate: First Tunisia, now Egypt?
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  Pictures: Anger in Egypt

Rock-throwing youths at the city’s Mahatit Masr Square scattered as automatic gunfire rang out and a tank advanced towards them before halting and then withdrawing. There was no sign of any casualties.A protester identified as Eslam Kamal played down the seriousness of the incident.”An argument erupted out of overexcitement,” he said.”The army acted wisely … and started to separate the two groups.”Mubarak’s words were unlikely to carry much weight with the protesters at Cairo’s Tahrir, or Liberation, Square: they resumed their “Leave, Mubarak!” chant shortly after his speech, and added a few new slogans, like “we won’t leave tomorrow, we won’t leave Thursday …”Mubarak mentioned the protests at the beginning of his speech, and said that “the young people” have the right to peaceful demonstrations.But his tone quickly turned accusatory, saying the protesters had been “taken advantage of” by people trying to “undermine the government”.Until now officials had indicated Mubarak, 82, was likely to run for a sixth six-year term of office. But in his address on Tuesday, Mubarak said he never intended to run for re-election.”I will use the remaining months of my term in office to fill the people’s demands,” he said.That would leave Mubarak in charge of overseeing a transitional government until the next presidential election, currently scheduled for September.Economy and jobsMubarak promised reforms to the constitution, particularly Article 76, which makes it virtually impossible for independent candidates to run for office. And he said his government would focus on improving the economy and providing jobs.”My new government will be responsive to the needs of young people,” he said. “It will fulfil those legitimate demands and help the return of stability and security.”

People power
View: Mapping Egypt’s uprising
  Cairo: More than a million people gathered in and around Tahrir Square
  Alexandria: Hundreds of thousands of protestersmarched in the city
  Sinai: Around 250,000 protesters rallied
  El-Mahalla el-Kubra: Up to 250,000 people demonstrated
  Hundreds of thousands also marched in Port Said, Suez, and Menya

Mubarak also made a point of saying that he would “die in this land” – a message to protesters that he did not plan to flee into exile like recently deposed Tunisian president, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.Marwan Bishara, Al Jazeera’s senior political analyst, said: “It is clear that President Mubarak is in denial over his legacy.”Until Friday we are probably going to watch a major escalation of tension in events both between the demonstrators on the one hand and the regime of Mubarak on the other.”Mohamed ElBaradei, the Egyptian opposition figure who returned to Cairo to take part in the protests, said Mubarak’s pledge not to stand again for the presidency was an act of deception.ElBaradei, a Nobel peace prize winner as head of the UN nuclear agency, said if Mubarak did not heed the call to leave power at once, he would be “not only a lame-duck president but a dead man walking”.”He’s unfortunately going to extend the agony here for another six, seven months. He continues to polarise the country. He continues to get people even more angry and could [resort] to violence,” ElBaradei said.Indeed, none of the protesters interviewed by Al Jazeera earlier today said they would accept Mubarak finishing his term in office.”He needs to leave now,” Hassan Moussa said in Tahrir Square just hours before Mubarak’s announcement.”We won’t accept him leaving in September, or handing power to [newly installed vice-president] Omar Suleiman. He needs to leave now.”Waiting gameThe protests continue to feel like a waiting game – as if Mubarak is hoping to simply outlast the crowds amassed at Tahrir Square.”When the people of a nation decide something, then it will happen,” Abdullah Said Ahmed, a student from Al-Azhar University, said. “The United States chooses its leaders. We’re going to choose ours. Our patience can do anything.”

Our producer in Egypt reports on the latest developments

Saber Shanan said: “I’ll stay here until I die or until the system changes.”Mubarak’s announcement came after pressure from the US administration, which urged him not to seek re-election.Frank Wisner, a former ambassador to Egypt, met Mubarak on Monday and reportedly told him not to extend his time in office.In remarks to the media at the White House on Tuesday evening, Barack Obama, the US president, said he had spoken with Mubarak who he said “recognises that the status quo is not sustainable and a change must take place”.Obama said he told Mubarak that an orderly transition must be meaningful and peaceful, must begin now and must include opposition parties.Obama emphasised, however, that “it is not the role of any other country to determine Egypt’s leaders”.

Source:Al Jazeera and agencies

NRC, 1-2-2011, http://www.nrc.nl/nieuws/2011/02/01/protesteren-tegen-het-regime-in-egypte-noem-jezelf-khaled-said/

Protesteren tegen het regime in Egypte? Noem jezelf ‘Khaled Said’

egypteBetogers tonen foto’s van Khaled Said. Van voor en na de marteling. Foto AFP


Corruptie, politiegeweld, onderdrukking. Stuk voor stuk reden om de straat op te gaan. Maar voor massaprotest is een prikkel nodig. Een concreet incident dat raakt aan gedeeld ongenoegen.

Politieslachtoffer Khaled Said werd het symbool van de protesten in Egypte. Maar de drijvende kracht achter de symbolisering van Said wil geen bekendheid, laat staan roem. Op 6 juni 2010 werd de 28-jarige Said door agenten doodgeschopt voor een internetcafé. De reden was waarschijnlijk een filmpje, waarop Said laat zien hoe de politie drugsgeld onderling verdeelt. De moord maakte van Said echter nog geen symbool. Daarvoor was meer nodig.

‘El Shaheeed’ noemde een datum
 Degene die van Khaled Said een icoon maakte is een persoon die schuilgaat achter het internetaccount ‘El Shaheeed’, Arabisch voor ‘de martelaar’. Hij (het kan ook een ‘zij’ zijn) beheert een website en zowel een Arabische als een Engelse Facebook-pagina. De pagina’s heten ‘We are all Khaled Said’, we zijn allemaal Khaled Said.

Het doel was aanvankelijk een internetprotest tegen politiegeweld, maar na de protesten in Tunesië en de val van president Ben Ali werd het initiatief concreter en fysieker. El Shaheeed noemde een datum, dinsdag 25 januari. Nooit eerder demonstreerden zoveel mensen op straat tegen het regime van president Mubarak.

Of El Shaheeed de protesten van 25 januari op zijn conto kan schrijven is de vraag. Zeker is wel dat hij 375.000 volgers heeft. Als El Shaheeed iets schrijft verschijnt het op de Facebook-pagina’s van 375.000 mensen, voornamelijk Egyptenaren.

Facebook als vliegwiel, meer niet

In een interview met Newsweek – via Gmail Chat – is El Shaheeed bescheiden over zijn rol. Hij geeft niet echt orders, maar investeert in de interactie met zijn fans op Facebook. Discussies, peilingen, berichten doorplaatsen. Ook kunnen bezoekers via zijn pagina’s protestflyers downloaden, zodat de mensen die geen internet hebben toch bereikt worden. “Het is mijn taak om mensen te motiveren, te informeren en hen aan te moedigen deelgenoot te worden van dit evenement. Niet slechts verslaggeving.” Hij hoopt op een vliegwieleffect: door mensen klaar te stomen voor het protest wordt het protest onstuitbaar. El Shaheeed heeft nooit persoonlijke details van zichzelf weggegeven. En dat wil hij zo houden, zelfs als het doel bereikt is en hij niets heeft te vrezen.

Het succes van El Shaheeed is deels te danken aan zijn taalgebruik. Hij vermijdt al te politieke en religieuze uitspraken. Dat drijft groepen alleen maar uiteen, vindt hij. Het Egyptische volk moet samen optrekken. “Hij praat niet tegen de mensen”, zegt een activist over hem. “Hij praat met de mensen.”

‘Deze revolutie is van iedereen’
 Volgens het populaire blog The Daily Beast is El Shaheeed met zijn honderdduizenden volgers de grootste mensenrechtenbeweging in het land. En ook The Wall Street Journal ziet in hem de organisator van de protesten.

Maar El Shaheeed is de laatste die de eer op zal strijken. “Dit gaat niet over mij”, zei hij tegen Newsweek. “Dit gaat over de mensen van Egypte. Ik wil straks mijn echte leven terug. Ik wil geen roem. Het was nooit mijn intentie dit te starten.” Met ‘dit’ bedoelt hij de massale betogingen op straat.

De betogingen stoppen kan hij niet, wil hij niet. Toen de regering internet afsloot – en El Shaheeed zijn Facebook-pagina’s niet kon bijwerken – gingen de protesten namelijk gewoon door. Als El Shaheeed dit al in gang heeft gezet, dan heeft hij zichzelf inmiddels overbodig gemaakt.

Vandaag, tijdens het grootste protest tot nu toe, is El Shaheeed weer aan het communiceren met zijn volgers. Vanmiddag richtte hij zich even tot journalisten. “Ik krijg maar vragen over mijn ideologie. Maar ik heb er geen één!”, schreef hij. “Deze revolutie is van iedereen. En iedereen zou er aan deel moeten nemen.”

Een ‘Nieuw Revolutionair’ clipje op Youtube, zoals er inmidddels al veel van zijn gemaakt

Two Faces of Revolution

Posted: 01 Feb 2011 04:38 AM PST

Guest Author: Linda Herrera

Mohamed Bouazizi
Khaled Said

The events in Tunisia and Egypt have riveted the region and the world. The eruptions of people power have shaken and taken down the seeming unbreakable edifices of dictatorship. (At the time of writing Mubarak has not formally acknowledged that he has been toppled, but the force of the movement is too powerful and determined to fathom any other outcome). Events are moving at breakneck speed and a new narrative for the future is swiftly being written. In the throes of a changing future it merits returning to the stories of two young men, the two faces that stoked the flames of revolution thanks to the persistence of on-line citizen activists who spread their stories. For in the tragic circumstances surrounding their deaths are keys to understanding what has driven throngs of citizens to the streets.

Mohammed Bouazizi has been dubbed “the father of Arab revolution”; a father indeed despite his young years and state of singlehood. Some parts of his life are by now familiar. This 26 year old who left school just short of finishing high school (he was NOT a college graduate as many new stories have been erroneously reporting) and worked in the informal economy as a vendor selling fruits and vegetable to support his widowed mother and five younger siblings. Overwhelmed by the burden of fines, debts, the humiliation of being serially harassed and beaten by police officers, and the indifference of government authorities to redress his grievances, he set himself on fire. His mother insists that though his poverty was crushing, it was the recurrence of humiliation and injustice that drove him to take his life. The image associated with Mohammed Bouazizi is not that of a young man’s face, but of a body in flames on a public sidewalk. His self-immolation occurred in front of the local municipal building where he sought, but never received, justice.

The story of 28 year old Egyptian, Khaled Said, went viral immediately following his death by beating on June 6, 2010. Two photos of him circulated the blogosphere and social networking sites. One was a portrait of his gentle face and soft eyes coming out of a youthful grey hooded sweatshirt; the face of an everyday male youth. The accompanying photo was of the bashed and bloodied face on the corpse of a young man. Though badly disfigured, the image held enough resemblance to the pre-tortured Khaled to decipher that the two faces belonged to the same person. The events leading to Khaled’s killing originated when he posted a video of two police officers allegedly dividing the spoils of a drug bust. This manner of citizen journalism has become commonplace since 2006. Youths across the region have been emboldened by a famous police corruption case of 2006. An activist posted a video on YouTube of two police officers sodomizing and whipping a minibus driver, Emad El Kabeer. It not only incensed the public and disgraced the perpetrators, but led to their criminal prosecution. On June 6, 2010, as Khaled Said was sitting in his local internet café in Alexandria two policemen accosted him and asked him for his I.D. which he refused to produce. They proceeded to drag him away and allegedly beat him to his death as he pleaded for his life. The officers claimed that Khaled died of suffocation when he tried to swallow a package of marijuana to conceal drug possession. But the power of photographic evidence combined with eyewitness accounts and popular knowledge of scores of cases of police brutality left no doubt in anyone’s mind that he was senselessly and brutally murdered by the very members of the police that were supposed to protect them. The court case of the two officers is ongoing.

Mohammed Bouazizi was not the first person to resort to suicide by self immolation out of desperation, there has been an alarming rise in such incidents in different Arab countries. And Khaled Said is sadly one of scores of citizens who have been tortured, terrorized, and killed by police with impunity. But the stories of these two young men are the ones that have captured the popular imagination, they have been game changers.

Cartoon from the Facebook Group We are all Khaled Said

For the youth of Egypt and Tunisia, the largest cohort of young people ever in their countries, the martyrdoms of Khaled Said and Mohamed Bouaziz represent an undeniable tipping point, the breaking of the fear barrier. The youth have banned together as a generation like never before and are crying out collectively, “enough is enough!” to use the words of a 21 year old friend, Sherif, from Alexandria. The political cartoon of Khaled Said in his signature hoodie shouting to the Intelligence Chief, also popularly known “Torturer in chief” and now Mubarak’s Vice President, to “wake up Egypt” perfectly exemplifies this mood (from the Facebook group, We are all Khaled Said). No longer will the youth cower to authority figures tainted by corruption and abuses. These illegitimate leaders will cower to them. The order of things will change.

And so on January 25, 2011, inspired by the remarkable and inspiring revolution in Tunisia that toppled the twenty-three year reign of the dictatorship of Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, Egyptian youth saw it was possible to topple their dictator, Hosni Mubarak, of 31 years. Activists used different on-line platforms, most notably the April 6 Youth Movement and the “We are all Khaled Said” Facebook group to organize a national uprising against “Torture, Corruption, Poverty, and Unemployment.”

It is not arbitrary that civil rights, as exemplified in torture and corruption (recall Khaled Said), topped the list of grievances, followed by economic problems. For youth unemployment and underemployment will, under any regime, be among the greatest challenges of the times.

Banner of the Egyptian uprising

No one could have anticipated that this initial call would heed such mass and inclusive participation. Youths initially came to the streets braving tanks, rubber bullets, tear gas (much of which is made in the US and part of US military aid, incidentally), detention, and even death. And they were joined by citizens of all persuasions and life stages; children, youth, elderly, middle aged, female, male, middle class, poor, Muslim, Christians, Atheists.

Contrary to a number of commentators in news outlets in North America and parts of Europe the two revolutions overtaking North Africa are not motivated by Islamism and there are no compelling signs that they will be co-opted in this direction. Such analyses are likely to be either ideologically driven or misinformed. In fact, Islam has not figured whatsoever into the stories of Bouazizi and Said. These are inclusive freedom movements for civic, political, and economic rights. To understand what is driving the movement and what will invariably shape the course of reforms in the coming period we need to return to these young men. Their evocative if tragic deaths speak reams about the erosion of rights and accountability under decades of corrupt dictatorship, about the rabid assault on people’s dignity. They remind us of the desperate need to restore a political order that is just and an economic order that is fair. Mohamed Bouazizi and Khaled Said have unwittingly helped to pave a way forward, and to point the way to the right side of history.

Linda Herrera is a social anthropologist with expertise in comparative and international education. She has lived in Egypt and conducted research on youth cultures and educational change in Egypt and the wider Middle East for over two decades. She is currently Associate Professor, Department of Education Policy, Organization and Leadership, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She is co-editor with A. Bayat of the volume Being Young and Muslim: New Cultural Politics in the Global North and South, published by Oxford University Press (2010).




Van http://palestinechronicle.com/:


Unravelling The Illusion: Democracy That Never Was – By William Cook, Palestine Chronicle (3/2/11)

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By William Cook, Palestine Chronicle   
Wednesday, 02 February 2011 23:55
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The Egyptian peoples’ revolution against their government forces to the fore the unfortunate reality that America’s friendship is an illusion created for its own benefit, a strategy, if you will, that creates a mirage of trust, compassion, and good will for the people while it disfranchises them from power, enriches the “inner circle,” establishes a brutal police force to control them, providing thereby a resident dictator that will do the bidding of America’s military-industrial complex to sustain its enormous need for on-going wars and a budget that saps the wealth of the nation itself. Mark that Egypt’s military spends 6 billion a year to maintain its million soldiers and absorbs another 1.3 billion of U.S “aid” to buy American warplanes, tanks, and helicopters. Virtually nothing is left for humanitarian needs or domestic relief. The people have had enough.

Consider Iran, perhaps our most graphic undemocratic entrance into the greater middle-east. Our CIA assassinated the democratically elected Prime Minister, Mohammed Mossadegh, and installed our own “beholden” King, the Shah of Iran. He in turn created the SAVAK police to control the people enriching his benefactors by using American tax dollars to buy weapons from United States munitions’ industries. Clever, even demonic. But the Iranian people revolted. Twenty five years of undemocratic, dictatorial rule beneficial to U.S. and Israeli interests if understood in weapons sales and oil to say nothing of the Shah’s recognition of our puppet state, but disastrous for the Iranian people and America that now sees Iran as a major enemy in the mid-east. But we do not learn.

Now, Mubarak’s 30 year strangulation of the Egyptian people appears to be unraveling while our administration and the Netanyahu governments look on in disbelief and fear. What do we do with our 1.5 billion that has served our dictator yearly for these many decades as a guarantee of peace with Israel? To whom will it go if, as Eli Shaked observes above, the “inner circle” alone in Egypt supports that agreement and they too are deposed? The Muslim Brotherhood? Mohammad ElBaradei? The Egyptian military? An “existential” quandary certainly! Israel’s Michael Ledeen, writing in Pajamas Media, states “Mohammed ElBaradei is one of the last men I would choose for leading Egypt to a ‘peaceful transition’ to greater democracy. He doesn’t like America and he’s in cahoots with Iran and the Muslim Brotherhood.”

How does America protect its client state of Israel now? Consider what happens if Mubarak is dethroned: nearly half of Israel’s natural gas is imported from Egypt, gas needed by its own population as well as its military; Israel’s military planning relies on Mubarak’s government and its complicity in guarding the southern border of Gaza much to the dismay of the Egyptian people, a border that has already been punctured by escaped Hamas prisoners who have fled home through the tunnels; changes could be made in the control of the Suez Canal to the detriment of Israel, and, perhaps most importantly, Jordan and Saudi Arabia could become the next dominoes to fall toward Israel leaving it isolated in a landscape dominated by people unfriendly to it because of its undemocratic subjugation of the Palestinian people.

It’s enlightening to peep in on the Daily Alert, the daily report prepared for the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. If anything reflects the mindset of the lobbies that support unconditionally the Israeli state, it’s this Alert. Given the conditions outlined above from both Iran under the Shah and Egypt under Mubarak in their respective alliances with the U.S. and Israel, one might expect some reflection on what drives people into the streets to overthrow their governments.

Obviously the conditions created by the American strategy of shoring up dictators guarantees a steady rise in citizen anger against the regime and, concurrently, a rising hatred for the power that feeds the dictator while suppressing the people. America’s interest resides in its weapons sales that seed internal conflicts and manufactured “wars” against neighbors as we witness in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. It’s why we have in excess of 737 military installations around the globe supported by 1,840,062 military and domestic personnel; it’s why we strategize to turn factions in a country against each other; it’s why we want Israel to exist, to foster unrest in the mid-east as it stealthily grabs more and more land from its neighbors claiming they are victims of Arab aggression to wipe Israel off the map; it’s why we need an overwhelming presence in the mid-east with Israel serving as our largest military base to ensure that our industrial complex controls the oil and gas that’s needed to maintain our dominance in the world markets; unfortunately, it’s also why America has become the most hated nation on the planet because its propaganda expressing freedom and liberty, human rights and democracy for all is now understood to be a lie, a fabrication of deceit designed to dehumanize not liberate, to subjugate not free, to enslave not acknowledge, with respect, the dignity of the individual.

The Alert responds to the reality above because the audience they serve is a recipient of America’s largesse; indeed, their Israel is the recipient of more federal aid than any other nation coming to an estimated 1.8 trillion “including special trade advantages, preferential contracts, or aid buried in other accounts.” (“The Costs to American Taxpayers of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict,” Thomas Stauffer, Washington Report on Middle East). What does Israel do with all this money?

Most importantly it buys U.S. weapons from private corporations with tax dollars to create the fourth largest military in the world (Israel estimate) to protect 6 million people, the vast majority foreigners to the land, while it subjugates approximately 4 million Palestinians under occupation stealing their land so that only 22% remains, and, in addition, lays siege to Gaza for the past three years causing an estimated 60% unemployment and forces 80% to live in poverty. This siege includes all access and possession of the natural gas and oil reserves that exist off of the Gaza coast thus depriving the Palestinian people of approximately 3500 billion cubic meters of gas deposits and 1.8 billion barrels of oil. (“Arabs keep out! Israel lays claim to all the resources,” Veterans Today, Manlio Dinucci, Voltairenet.org). Additionally, the IDF has destroyed the infrastructure, restricted water consumption drastically, sabotaged electricity to the area, and prevented entrance for medical supplies and basic food stuffs, suffocating the people in intolerable conditions and in complete disregard for international law. And in one of the most recent atrocities perpetrated by this true “friend” of America, it invaded Gaza killing over 1400, decimating homes, schools, storage facilities, hospitals, and UN buildings in a slaughter seen and heard around the world.

It is not lost on the Arab world, or the rest of the world for that matter, that Israel’s “democracy” is exclusive and totally unique in the world. Nor is it lost on the Arab world that Israel exists because America subsidizes its existence and gives it the means to occupy and subjugate while it touts to the world that it believes “that all people yearn for certain things: the ability to speak your mind and have a say in how you are governed, confidence in the rule of law and the equal administration of justice; government that is transparent and free of corruption; and the freedom to live as you choose. These are human rights, and we support them everywhere.”

Interestingly enough, despite the evidence listed above, nothing in the Alert papers suggests that Israel should reconsider its policy of military force and occupation. Indeed, even with the disclosure of the Palestine Papers released by Wikileaks that describes in horrific detail the collaboration of American diplomats with Israeli counterparts to undermine by bribery and coercion the Palestinian negotiators, Mahmoud Abbas and Saeb Erekat, displaying for all to see the duplicity of America and Israel as they manipulate the peace process to achieve their ends, regardless of the illegality or injustice inflicted upon the Palestinian people, Israel finds no need to reconsider its approach to the Arab world.

Rather, they emphasize what Netanyahu proclaims, that all their European friends must defend Mubarak lest the unrest come to haunt Israel. That the Egyptian people have expressed their anger at the undemocratic, dictatorial policies of his regime means nothing to Israel, that bastion of democratic values, which calls upon the U.S. Congress and the state department to back Mubarak lest conditions force Israel into a confrontation with the Egyptian military, the one supplied by America and ranked as number 10 in the world. How ironic: American F-16s fighting American F-16s above the Sinai.

Perhaps our Congress might reflect on what America has become since it spawned the rogue state of Israel into this militaristic monster that conceives of force as the only solution to international conflicts. Perhaps it might consider that it, too, should learn something from the Egyptian people who see virtue in true freedom of expression, value in the rights of humankind, and respect and dignity in being part of the government, not its slave. Perhaps our Congress should see the world they have created for this illusionary democracy, where a cauldron of millions live on two dollars a day, where children starve, mothers are famished, the old and the infirm deprived of joy at the very end of their lives, the young made fodder for the elite who rule the world, a world of misery and despair made possible by our corporate complex of munitions manufacturers that suck the lifeblood of the masses to enrich their own. Perhaps, then, they can face themselves and ask,

What manner of men can distance themselves from their kin?

What beast of prey have they become to devour so many

Without compassion or remorse, able to wield

Weapons of unimaginable force against unseen foes,

Who hear the screaming cry of the angel of death

Hurtling from the sky,

Where life itself should be the only force:

The warmth of the sun, the gentle cooling rain,

The promise of spring, the hope that comes again.

William A. Cook is Professor of English at the University of La Verne in southern California where he served for 13 years as Vice President for Academic Affairs before assuming his faculty position in 2001. Prior to coming to California, he served as a Dean of Faculty, Chair of Department of English and faculty member at institutions large and small, public and private in four eastern states. He is an activist and a writer for numerous Internet publications including Counterpunch, Salem-News.com, Pacific Free Press in British Columbia, Dissident Voice and Information Clearing House, serving as senior editor for MWC News out of Canada, and contributing editor at the Palestine Chronicle, the Atlantic Free Press in the Netherlands, and the World Prout Assembly, his polemics against the Bush administration and the atrocities caused by Ariel Sharon and Ehud Olmert in Israel, now our 51st state, have been spread around the Internet world and translated into French, Spanish, Arabic, Chinese, and Italian. Cook also serves on the Board of the People’s Media Project, interviews on radio and TV in South Africa, Canada, Iran and the United States and contributed for five years yearly predictions to the Hong Kong Economic News. This volume follows his Tracking Deception: Bush Mid-East Policy, Hope Destroyed, Justice Denied: The Rape of Palestine and continues his scourge against the hypocrisy, deceit, and destructive policies that have characterized American mid-east policy and its destructive alliance with the Zionist forces that have turned Israel into an apartheid state determined to destroy the Palestinian people.In addition to his polemics, he writes plays (The Unreasoning Mask, co-authored with his wife, D’Arcy, and The Agony of Colin Powell), satires (see “Advancing the Civilized State: Inch by Bloody Inch” in The Rape), and poetry (Psalms for the 21st Century). His most recent fictional work creates a morality tale based upon real life figures that haunt our lives, The Chronicles of Nefaria He can be reached at wcook@laverne.edu or www.drwilliamacook.com..


The Plight of the Palestinians: a Long History of Destruction is a collection of voices from around the world that establishes in both theoretical and graphic terms the slow, methodical genocide taking place in Palestine beginning in the 1940s, as revealed in the Introduction. From Dr. Francis A. Boyle’s detailed legal case against the state of Israel, to Uri Avnery’s “Slow Motion Ethnic Cleansing,” to Richard Falk’s “Slouching toward a Palestinian Holocaust,” to Ilan Pappe’s “Genocide in Gaza,” these voices decry in startling, vivid, and forceful language the calculated atrocities taking place, the inhumane conditions inflicted on the people, and the silence that exists despite the crimes, nothing short of state-sponsored genocide against the Palestinians.




February 1, 2011 at 16:52 (Corrupt Politics, Egypt, War Crimes, zionist harassment)

It didn’t take long….. but it happened! Israel has sent crowd dispersal weapons to Egypt. If the Egyptian Army won’t attack the people, it looks like Israel might have to do it for them….http://desertpeace.wordpress.com/2011/02/01/israel-doing-its-bit-to-keep-mubarak-in-power/ 
Rights NGO claims that Israeli planes carrying crowd dispersal weapons have arrived in Egypt


The International Network for Rights and Development has claimed that Israeli logistical support has been sent to Egypt’s President Hosni Mubarak to help his regime confront demonstrations demanding that he steps down as head of state. According to reports by the non-governmental organisation, three Israeli planes landed at Cairo’s Mina International Airport on Saturday carrying hazardous equipment for use in dispersing and suppressing large crowds.  

In the statement circulated by the International Network, it was disclosed that Egyptian security forces received the complete cargoes on three Israeli planes which were, it is claimed, carrying an abundant supply of internationally proscribed gas to disperse unwanted crowds. If the reports are accurate, this suggests that the Egyptian regime is preparing for the worse in defence of its position, despite the country sinking into chaos.

On Sunday 30 January, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed Israeli government ministers in a public statement saying: “Our efforts aim at the continued maintenance of stability and security in the region… and I remind you that peace between the Israeli establishment and Egypt has endured for over three decades… we currently strive to guarantee the continuity of these relations.” Netanyahu added, “We are following the events unfolding in Egypt and the region with vigilance… and it is incumbent at this time that we show responsibility, self-restraint and maximum consideration for the situation… in the hope that the peaceful relations between the Israeli establishment and Egypt continue…”

The Israeli prime minister urged Israeli government ministers to refrain from making any additional statements to the media.


And, of course America’s hands are far from clean in all of this…..



American made tear gas in Cairo and the West Bank

Posted by Joseph Dana

People in the street confronting police and army soldiers with revolutionary aspirations. Some youth throw stones in symbolic acts of resistance as the elders try to calm down their rage and focus on chants of unity. Armed forces reply with tear gas and rubber-coated steel bullets. This is a regular occurrence in the West Bank in villages like Nabi Saleh, Ni’ilin and Beit Umar.  Over the past week, it has been unfolding on the streets of Cairo, Suez and Alexandria as well. From Ni’ilin to Cairo, the tear gas that is being employed against demonstrations is made in the United States. The story of American made tear gas in Egypt has recently entered the chaotic international news cycle to the dismay of the American government. But journalists have been focusing only on the fact that the tear gas is supplied by the United States.Tweets and media reports from Egypt are full of photos of and references to tear gas canisters “Made in the USA” and produced by Combined Systems Inc. in Jamestown, Pennsylvania.

The Israeli army regularly uses high velocity tear gas canisters against unarmed demonstrations in the West Bank. The Egyptians armed forces and police have so far refused to employ high velocity canisters based on the fact there have been no reports from the ground of their existence in the demonstrations. In Israel, high velocity canisters have resulted in the death of Bassem Abu Rahmah in 2009 and the critical wounding of American Citizen, Tristan Anderson. Recently, the canisters have been used in the village of Nabi Saleh, with grave results.
Demonstrator Moments After Being Hit Directly with a Tear Gas Projectile. Picture Credit: Joseph Dana/popularstruggle.orgDemonstrator Moments After Being Hit Directly with a Tear Gas Projectile. Picture Credit: Joseph Dana/popularstruggle.org  

Standard aluminum tear canisters, which are being used in Egypt, have injured thousands in the West Bank over the past eight years of demonstrations against the Separation Barrier. Soldiers regularly break army regulations and fire canisters directly at protesters– turning the canister into a large bullet– and almost never face punishment. Three weeks ago, a soldier fired a tear gas canister directly at me from a distance of 15 meters in Beit Ummar. Luckily I was able to get out of the way. Last summer, an American Jew was not as lucky as me and lost her eye in a demonstration when a tear gas canister was fired directly at her head. The soldier who fired the canister was cleared of any wrongdoing.

According to international coverage of the demonstrations in Egypt, there has been little coverage of police or army using tear gas canisters as large bullets. As the demonstrations slow down, more evidence could emerge that tear gas canisters were used offensively as they are used in the West Bank. However, it seems unlikely given the fact that there have been almost no reports about this to come out of Egypt in the past seven days.

The United States provides countries all over the world with military products with little regard of how the products are used. When it comes to tear gas, the issue is not that the United States is providing Israel and Egypt with the tear gas. The issue is how the gas is used and who it is used against. It is legitimate for a state to use tear gas in crowd control situations. It is not legitimate to use tear gas canisters as large bullets with the intention to kill or injure protesters.

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Ondertussen….de (voorspelbare) negatieve geluiden:


Geen Arabische lente, maar storm op komst

door Afshin Ellian

dinsdag 1 februari 2011 15:04

De protesten in Egypte duren al acht dagen De protesten in Egypte duren al acht dagen

Teheran, februari 1979. Op het vliegveld Mehrabad stapt  uit een Amerikaans militair vliegtuig de Amerikaanse vier sterrengeneraal Robert Huyser. Generaal Husyer (1924-1997) is in opdracht van de Amerikaanse president Jimmy Carter in Teheran om de Iraanse militairen en de mannen van ayatollah Khomeini, de leider van de Iraanse revolutie, te spreken. ‘Mission to Tehran’ zou de laatste missie van een Amerikaanse generaal in Teheran blijken.

Volgens de Sjah was dit een mysterieuze missie. Achteraf begreep hij dat Carter reeds in Parijs contacten had laten leggen met de Khomeini. Maar wat deed Husyer in Teheran? Wat was zijn missie? Huyser ging rechtstreeks met de Iraanse legerleiding spreken. Daarnaast sprak hij met Mehdi Bazargan (1907-1995) die net terug was uit Parijs. In Parijs voerde Bazargan gesprekken met Khomeini.

Vrije verkiezingen
Bazargan was de leider van de Iraanse religieuze liberalen die hun lot in handen van Khomeini hadden gelegd. Hij zou een paar weken later de eerste minister-president van Khomeini worden. Religieuze liberalen werkten samen met Khomeini, terwijl de seculiere liberalen onder leiden van Shapour Bakhtiar (1915-1991) een liberaal kabinet hadden gevormd om de vrije verkiezingen te organiseren.
In hun ogen was de revolutie al gewonnen. Bakthiar hief de SAVAK, de geheime dienst van Sjah, op. Bazargan zal niet langer dan een jaar kunnen regeren. Hij wordt afgezet. En later zullen velen van zijn vrienden worden gevangen genomen. Het liberalisme, een westers fenomeen, was in welke vorm dan ook tegen de islam en moest worden uitgeroeid, aldus imam Khomeini.

Volgens de Sovjetkrant Pravda was generaal Huyser in Teheran bezig om een staatsgreep voor te bereiden. Maar in werkelijkheid was hij bezig om het bevriende leger, het Iraanse leger, te redden door een pact aan te gaan met Khomeini.


Generaal Huyser heeft twee zaken kunnen bewerkstelligen: de Sjah moest weg en het Iraane leger moest zich neutraal verklaren tegenover de demonstranten, de aanhanger van Khomeini. In de ogen van Carter zou het behoud van het Iraanse leger ertoe kunnen leiden dat indien Khomeini tot een Fidel Castro transformeert, het leger een staatsgreep kan plegen.

Waarom waren de Amerikanen zo optimistisch? Uit de Amerikaanse documenten is gebleken dat ‘there was clearly no hint of clerical despotism’. Dit dachten de Amerikanen gedurende de maanden januari en februari 1979.

Vandaag heeft het Egyptische leger zich neutraal verklaard tegenover de demonstranten en de Moslimbroederschap. Dit hebben ze ongetwijfeld gedaan in opdracht van de Amerikaanse president Barack Obama. Mubarak is al finished. Wellicht gaat hij nog enig verzet plegen voordat hij Egypte levend of dood verlaat. En Mohammad ElBaradei?

Religieus liberaal
In het beste geval is hij de Mehdi Bazargan van Egypte. Wie is dat? Bazargan was een religieus liberaal die de seculiere liberalen verraadt in ruil voor macht. Maar uiteindelijk belandde Bazargan in Dar Alkufr, het huis van ongeloof.
In het slechtste geval verandert hij in een mengsel van het nationalisme en islamisme, treedt hij in de voetsporen van Saddam Hussein en Jamal Abdol Nasser, en zal hij zich keren tegen Israël en Amerika. Met alle gevolgen van dien voor de regio én de wereld. ElBaradei zal zeker worden gesteund door Khameini, de leider van het islamitische Iran.

De Iraanse staatsmedia waarschuwen de Amerikanen dat ze de nalatenschap van de Egyptische Farao, president Mubarak, niet meer kunnen redden. Wat komt na een autoritair regime in Egypte? Chaos of het islamisme?


En de democratie en de Arabische lente? Ja, de Arabische lente heb ik al gezien; zelfs de doden, mummies waren niet veilig voor de oprukkende plunderaars, de toekomstige jihadisten. Toevallig moest ik denken aan Irak. Wellicht zal het leger nadat een plein in Caïro naar Mohammad Atta wordt genoemd, een militaire junta willen vestigen. Dan zijn we weer terug naar het Egypte van Mubarak.

Vrienden, er komt geen lente in de Arabische wereld. Een storm is op komst.

Afshin Ellian

Tot zover Afshin Ellian. Hoewel ik het met het meeste niet eens ben (want waarom was de missie van Bush in Irak wel goed? Mogen er alleen door Amerika georkestreerde democratische omwentelingen plaatsvinden? Daar heeft ook Iran prettige ervaringen mee, zie Mosadegh, Ellian welbekend), kan ik een ding nog wel begrijpen. Afgelopen weekend sprak ik een Iraanse dichter die precies hetzelfde zei. Dat was inderdaad de ervaring met het verdrijven van de Shah. Die vrees lijkt mij vanuit Iraans perspectief legitiem en het is iets waar zeker rekening mee moet worden gehouden. Maar wat mij betreft is het antwoord niet om dan maar dictators in stand te houden. Juist de ervaring met Mossadegh laat zien dat dan de uiteindelijke klap nog veel heviger en vooral meer anti-westers kan worden, zie de gebeurtenissen in Iran. Hopelijk worden deze fouten nu niet weer gemaakt (zie nu ook Israëls steun aan Mubarak).

Zie ook Hans Jansen op Hoeiboei, Mubarak. Verder maakt men zich op Hoeboei, in de beste traditie van de ministeries van informatie in het Midden Oosten, of onze goeie oude communistische krant ‘De Waarheid’ (die toen de opstand in Hongarije in 1956 werd neergeslagen door de Russen opende met de schreeuwende kop ‘Nasser sluit het Suez kanaal’), vooral druk over ‘Boer zoekt Vrouw’. Zie Feit en Fictie. Overigens een mooie dubbelzinnige titel, maar die slaat dan vooral op de fictie van de Nederlandse Bauerntum Romantik, waarin de Hoeiboeiers zich graag mogen wentelen als er opeens uit de echte wereld signalen doorkomen dat er in de Arabische wereld voor meer vrijheid en democratie gedemonstreerd wordt. Dat kan natuurlijk niet, want dat past niet in het idee-fixe der verlichte Hoeiboeigeesten. Overigens krijgt het fenomeen ‘Handen schudden’, een van de kernwaarden van de Verlichting (had boegbeeld van diezelfde Verlichting Rita Verdonk daar niet al eens op gewezen?),  op dit moment wel uitgebreide aandacht, zie http://hoeiboei.blogspot.com/2011/02/laat-me-raden.html. Ik heb er maar een kwalificatie voor: puur escapisme! ‘Het land van ooit’, vrij naar Ayaan Hirsi Ali 😉 (maar dan net een beetje anders)

Tot zover de Ellians, de Jansens en het gehoeiboei over urgente kwesties als hoofddoekjes, handenschudden en onze beschaving en Verlichting en vooral ònze cultuur waarvan ‘Boer zoekt Vrouw’ het absolute hoogtepunt is. Terug naar Egypte zelf:


 Het regime van Mubarak begint terug te slaan:


Liveblog: Tahrirplein is slagveld, honderden gewond

Van onze redactie − 02/02/11, 13:10


© epa

VK urgent  AMSTERDAM/CAÏRO – De dag na de miljoenenmars is de sfeer in Caïro explosiever dan ooit. Lees de laatste ontwikkelingen, tweets ter plaatse en volg updates van onze correspondent Rob Vreeken ter plaatse.

  • Rob Vreeken

23.01 uur Volgens een dokter ter plaatse zijn er nog veel meer gewonden gevallen bij de rellen vandaag. Hij spreekt over meer dan 1.500, meldt Reuters.

22.54 uur Ook tegen middernacht is het nog altijd onrustig in Caïro. Het Tahrirplein staat nog altijd vol met mensen. Demonstranten vrezen actie van de politie nu zij denken dat het leger hen niet langer zal beschermen. Maar toch een grootscheepse aanval van een van beide kanten lijkt het ook niet te komen. Veel demonstranten zullen waarschijnlijk weer de hele nacht op het plein blijven.

22.37 uur Het aantal doden dat gevallen is tijdens de ongeregeldheden vandaag in Caïro is opgelopen naar drie. Dat heeft de minister van Volksgezondheid gezegd op de Arabische televisiezender Al Alabiya.

Op het Tahrirplein staan betogers inmiddels nog altijd tegenover Mubarak-aanhangers. Op televisie is te zien dat beide partijen elkaar bestoken met Molotovcocktails. Het lijkt er niet op dat de demonstranten van plan zijn naar huis te gaan, waartoe vice-president Suleiman had opgeroepen.

22.21 uur Het aantal betogers op het Tahrirplein (Bevrijdingsplein) is woensdagavond laat aanzienlijk geslonken, maar het plein is zeker nog niet leeg. De nog resterende demonstranten gaan pas weg als Mubarak per direct opstapt. Omstanders brengen de volhardende betogers in het donker eten en drinken, meldt Al Jazeera. Er zijn geruchten dat het leger vanavond nog wil ingrijpen, en het plein wil schoonvegen.

21.48 uur  De Amerikaanse minister van Buitenlandse Zaken Hillary Clinton heeft vandaag gesproken met de Egyptische vice-president Suleiman. Zij heeft benadrukt hoe belangrijk het is dat degenen die het geweld in Caïro aanwakkerden, daarvoor verantwoordelijk worden gehouden, en dat de machtsoverdracht nu moet beginnen.

21.24 uur Het lijkt weer onrustiger te worden in de Egyptische hoofdstad Caïro. Op de televisiezenders Al Jazeera en CNN is te zien hoe nog steeds veel mensen zich hebben verzameld op het Tahrirplein. Er zijn schoten gehoord, en vanaf omringende daken worden molotovcocktails gegooid. De betogers houden zich niet aan de avondklok, maar protesteren door.

21.02 uur Het aantal gewonden van de rellen van vandaag is gestegen tot 611, volgens de minister van Volksgezondheid.

20.52 uur De Egyptische vice-president heeft alle demonstranten opgeroepen naar huis te gaan en de avondklok in acht te nemen om zo de rust te bewaren. Hij benadrukte dat zijn oproep zowel bedoeld is voor tegenstanders van Mubarak als voor zijn aanhangers. Volgens de vice-president kan er pas een dialoog met de oppositie plaatsvinden als de protesten zijn afgelopen.

20.50 uur De Egyptische oppositieleider Mohammed ElBaradei heeft het leger opgeroepen een einde te maken aan de aanvallen van aanhangers van president Hosni Mubarak op antiregeringsbetogers. Het leger moet ingrijpen om de levens van burgers beschermen, zei ElBaradei woensdagavond tegen de Arabische nieuwszender al-Jazeera, die in Egypte al enkele dagen niet meer te ontvangen is.

20.26 uur  Volgens Mark Rutte zijn in Egypte ‘snelle en praktische hervormingen op politiek, sociaal en economisch terrein’ nodig. Hij zal dat vrijdag bepleiten op de Europese top in Brussel, zo liet zijn woordvoerder woensdag weten.

20.22 uur Barack Obama heeft gisteravond ook gesproken met koning Abdullah van Jordanië over de situatie in Egypte.

20.06 uur Ook NOS-correspondente Nicole Le Fever meldt dat het weer rustiger wordt in de stad. ‘Er zijn al een tijdje geen gevechten geweest of schoten gelost. Ook zijn de brandjes geblust. Maar de sfeer is nog wel zeer gespannen.’

19.47 uur Het lijkt weer iets rustiger te worden in de Egyptische hoofdstad. Er zijn weinig berichten meer van schietpartijen of branden in de stad.

19.31 uur De Amerikaanse president Barack Obama heeft de Egypische president Hosni Mubarak ‘duidelijk overgebracht’ dat ‘de tijd voor verandering is gekomen’. Dat heeft de woordvoerder van het Witte Huis gezegd.

19.09 uur De belangrijke functionaris uit het bericht hieronder zegt ook dat een loyale aanhanger van Mubarak de pro-Mubarak aanhangers vandaag de straten opstuurde om de Egyptische betogers te intimideren.

19.07 uur  Een belangrijke Amerikaanse functionaris denkt dat er onder de vertrouwelingen van Mubarak debat heerst of de president niet meer zou moeten doen, om aan de eisen van de betogers tegemoet te komen, meldt persbureau Reuters. Het geweld op de straten zou ertoe kunnen leiden dat ook het leger de druk daartoe verhoogt.

19.04 uur Volgens de minister van Volksgezondheid zijn de gewonden geraakt door stenen of andere projectielen. Schotwonden zijn er niet gemeld.

18.49 uur: De Egyptische minister van Volksgezondheid heeft op de staatstelevisie gemeld dat er vandaag één dode en 403 gewonden zijn gevallen.

18.46 uur: Ook CNN meldt niet schoten en molotovcocktails op het Tahrirplein, en in de omliggende straten.

18.35 uur: Er is onduidelijkheid over de ernst van de situatie in Caïro. Grote nieuwsstations melden dat het rustiger wordt, maar Volkskrantverslaggever Rob Vreeken meldt dat er zojuist recht voor zijn hotel nog geschoten werd. Ook is daar veel geschreeuw en lawaai op straat. Het Tahrirplein is erg groot, dus als er aan de ene kant van het plein iets gebeurd, is dat aan de andere kant van het plein niet eens te zien.

18.16 uur: Even teruglezen wat er vandaag allemaal is gebeurd? Lees hier een overzicht van de gebeurtenissen van vandaag.

18.14 uur: De rust lijkt nog meer terug te keren in Caïro. Zelfs Al Jazeera is nu aan het terugblikken.

18:00 uur: Twee Molotov cocktails zouden zijn gegooid op de stoep van het Nationaal Museum.

17.44 uur: Op het Tahrirplein zelf zijn nu een stuk minder mensen en is het betrekkelijk kalm. In de straten rondom het plein is het nog wel onrustig

17.38 uur: Ook persbureau AFP meldt dat er vandaag minimaal 500 gewonden zijn gevallen op en rond het Tharirplein. AFP baseert haar cijfers op gegevens van de medische instanties.

17.25 uur: In de tweede stad van Egypte, Alexandria is het vandaag niet tot confrontaties gekomen, zo meldt CNN.

17.14 uur: De waterkanonnen zijn inderdaad gebruikt om de vlammen van vier brandbommen,  te doven, meldt Reuters. CNN spreekt van Molotov cocktails.

17.04: Reactie Catherine Ashton, de hoge vertegenwoordiger van Buitenlandse Zaken van de EU op Al Jazeera:

‘Het is essentieel dat er geen geweld wordt gebruikt. Mubarak moet een plan laten zien. Hij moet in contact komen met de Egyptenaren, zodat er een ordentelijke transitie kan plaatsvinden. Het moet weer kalm worden.  Als het volk verandering wil, moet de regering daar naar luisteren.’

16.58 uur: Er worden waterkanonnen ingezet, Het is nog niet duidelijk of ze worden gebruikt om het plein schoon te vegen of om kleine brandjes te blussen.

16.46 uur: Voor het eerst proberen ambulances het plein te bereiken. Al Jazeera spreekt inmiddels van vijfhonderd gewonden.

16.42 uur: Terwijl de duisternis invalt op het Tahrirplein duurt de chaos voort. Supportest van Mubarak zouden grote stenen blokken vanaf daken van gebouwen gooien, meldt persbureau AFP. Al Jazeera heeft beelden laten zien van een brandend object dat van een gebouw werd gegooid.

16.39 uur: De VS roepen beide partijen nogmaals op om geen geweld te gebruiken.

16.34 uur: Oppositieleider ELBaradei roept het Egyptische leger op om in te grijpen. ‘Ze moeten Egyptische levens beschermen’, aldus ELBaradei.


16.27 uur: Volgens nieuwszender Al Jazeera rollen er tanks het Tahrirplein op. Het leger blijft ontkennen dat er schoten zijn gevuurd, maar een verslaggever ter plaatse kan ze horen.


16.03 uur: Amerika laat in een officiële reactie weten dat het ‘bezorgd is dat journalisten worden aangevallen’. Premier David Cameron van het Verenigd Koninkrijk stelt dat het ‘gebruik van geweld door het regime onacceptabel is’.
Secretaris-Generaal van de VN Ban Ki-moon laat weten dat hij ‘ernstig bezorgd is om het geweld in Egypte’.


16.00 uur: Terwijl de avondklok ingaat en de chaos onverminderd doorgaat, ontkent het leger schoten te hebben gelost. Andere media melden dat het gaat om waarschuwingsschoten.


15.54 uur: RTL-correspondent in Caïro Roel Geeraerdts meldt dat de neergestoken journalist van Al-Arabiya zou zijn overleden. Geeraerdts en zijn cameraman zijn ook belaagd, toen ze in een buitenwijk van de Egyptische hoofdstad aan het filmen waren.


15.48 uur: Er lijkt nu nu ook met traangas te worden geschoten. Volgens Al Jazeera doet het leger dit, omdat het mensen wel bewegen naar huis te gaan. Over een kwartier gaat de avondklok in, er cirkelt een helikopter boven het Tahrirplein. Er zijn enorme witte traangas-wolken.


15.47 uur: Ook de Egyptische staatstelevisie doet nu verslag van het Tahrirplein.

15.29 uur Verslaggever Rob Vreeken

 ‘Ik hoorde zojuist geweerschoten op het Tahrirplein. Het geluid komt uit de buurt van Talaat Harb. Er is heel veel gejoel en geschreeuw. Er is geen sprake van traangas.

‘De anti-Mubarakmensen staan nog steeds op het plein. Ik sta nu op mijn balkon met uitzicht op het plein. Het is buiten te gevaarlijk.

‘Over een uur valt de duisternis over het plein. Dan wordt de sfeer vaak nog grimmiger.’

15.25 uur: Reuters meldt dat het ministerie van Buitenlandse Zaken van Egypte niet wil dat de Verenigde Staten zich met de interne politieke aangelegenheden bemoeien.

15.17 uur: Een vrouwelijke anti-Mubarakbetoger vertelt aan Al Jazeera: ‘De hele week zijn er geen gewonden geweest en ging alles goed. Nu is het zo chaotisch. Er zijn hier duizenden vrouwen en kinderen. Ze proberen ons af te sluiten, maar wij geven niet op. We gaan door.’


Nu zouden de drie legervoertuigen weer door anti-Mubarakbetogers zijn overgenomen. Dat geeft maar weer aan hoe diffuus en chaotisch de situatie is.

15.11 uur: De Egyptische overheid ontkent dat er politiemannen in burger actief zijn onder de pro-Mubarakbetogers.

15.05 uur: Er lijken geweerschoten te klinken op het Tahrirplein. Dat zouden waarschuwingsschoten kunnen zijn. Drie legervoertuigen zijn overgenomen door pro-Mubarak activisten, meldt Al Jazeera.

15.01 uur: De EU roept Mubarak op om de transitie van de macht ‘zo snel mogelijk’ te starten.

14.56 uur: De Moslim Broederschap laat weten ‘niet toe te staan dat Mubarak tot september aanblijft als staatshoofd’. ElBaradei noemt de huidige chaos ‘criminele daden door een crimineel regime’.

14.50 uur: Ook CNN praat weer over gevechten. Al Jazeera stelt zelfs dat supporters van Mubarak machetes bij zich hebben. Het leger grijpt nog steeds niet in.

14.45 uur: Volgens CNN wordt er niet meer met stenen gegooid op het Tahrirplein, maar zingen de verschillende groeperingen samen ‘we zijn allen één’. Andere media bevestigen dit nog niet.

14.44 uur: Sterverslaggever Anderson Cooper van CNN zou een aantal keer op zijn hoofd zijn geslagen door pro-Mubaraksupporters, meldt The Guardian.

14.36 uur: Het kabaal op en rond het Tahrirplein is oorverdovend. Verslaggevers komen maar moeilijk boven de herrie uit. Mensen schreeuwen, er klinken toeters. Iedereen rent woedend achter elkaar aan.

14.33 uur: Volgens de oppositie bevinden zich veel politie-agenten in burger onder de aanhangers van Mubarak. Het leger grijpt nog steeds niet in.

14.27 uur: Reuters spreekt inmiddels van tientallen gewonden. Al Jazeera houdt het op ‘minstens honderd in het afgelopen uur’.

14.23 uur: Ondertussen zendt de Egyptische staatstelevisie beelden uit van vreedzame pro-Mubarak betogingen.

14.22 uur: Al Jazeera meldt dat een verslaggever van Al Arabya is neergestoken. Ook zouden de pro-Mubarakbetogers op zoek zijn naar verslaggevers van Al Jazeera. Volgens The Guardian zijn een aantal Spaanse journalisten omsingeld door aanhangers van Mubarak.

14.16 uur: Tweets van verslaggever Dan Nolen van Al Jazeera:

‘Acht mannen op een paard + één op een kameel reden net in op de muur van anti-regeringsbetogers. Geschifte toestanden die ik nog nooit heb meegemaakt!’ ‘De regeringstroepen grijpen nog niet in.’

14.11 uur: Oppositieleider ELBaradei heeft zijn oproep herhaald dat Mubarak nu moet opstappen. Hij beschuldigt de regering van het ‘bang maken van de bevolking’.

14.10 uur: Inmiddels is op beelden te zien dat de situatie steeds verder uit de hand loopt. Overal raken mensen slaags met elkaar. Het is vaak onduidelijk wie bij welke groepering hoort. Overal rennen mensen, het lawaai is enorm, de sfeer enorm opgewonden.

14.00 uur: Reuters meldt dat er tien gewonden zijn gevallen op het Tahrirplein, waar rookbommetjes zijn afgegaan.  Inmiddels rijden demonstranten op zo’n vijftig kamelen en paarden het plein op. Al Jazeera meldt dat het om gewapende pro-Mubarak aanhangers gaat, die ‘joden en leugenaars’ naar journalisten schreeuwen.

13.54 uur: Rob Vreeken:

‘De aanhangers van Mubarak zijn weer van het Tahrirplein verdwenen. Er waren schermutselingen en ze waren ver in de minderheid.

‘De sfeer is totaal anders dan gisteren, toen het eigenlijk één groot feest was.’

13.45 uur: Ook in de zijstraten van het Tahrirplein zijn voor- en tegenstanders slaags geraakt.

13.38 uur: Al Jazeera spreekt van chaotische toestanden op het Tahrirplein. Volgens een verslaggeefster wordt er volop met stenen naar elkaar gegooid en is er sprake van een paniekerige situatie, waarbij honderden mensen opeens in paniek probeerden weg te vluchten.

Veiligheidstroepen laten zich vooralsnog niet zien, hoewel er wel geruchten zijn dat de politie de pro-Mubarakgroepen steunen.

13.29 uur Correspondent Rob Vreeken vanaf het Tahrirplein:

‘De sfeer hier is uiterst gespannen. Opeens is er van alles aan de hand. Een klein half uur geleden kwam een groepje van zo’n 200 pro-mubaraksupporters het plein om marcheren. Ze staan met z’n allen op een verhoging, roepen leuzen en dragen foto’s van Mubarak.

‘De anti-Mubarak’ers staan daar in grote getale omheen. De mensen zijn slechts gescheiden door een ring van vrijwilligers. De politie is nergens te bekennen. Het is een uiterst opgefokte situatie.

‘In tegenstelling tot gisteren zijn er nu wel een aantal gewonden, die worden weggedragen naar de moskee. Ook worden er onruststokers uit de menigte geplukt. Nu liggen er zo’n vijf arrestanten op een hoopje voor me in een zijstraatje.

‘Dit moet wel uit de hand lopen. Er is een grote kans op provocaties.’

13.22 uur: De Britse premier David Cameron roept op tot een ‘snelle transitie van de macht’ in Egypte. ‘De transitie moet snel en geloofwaardig zijn en het moet nu starten’, zo zei Cameron tegen het Britse parlement. ‘Hoe sneller het tijdspad, hoe meer kans op stabiliteit.’

13.19 uur: Voor- en tegenstanders van de Egyptische president Hosni Mubarak zijn vandaag op het Tahrir-plein in Caïro met elkaar slaags geraakt. Een fotograaf van AP zag dat mensen elkaar te lijf gingen met stokken. Er is een onbekend aantal gewonden gevallen.



Journaal 24

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De inmiddels alweer tachtig jaar oude beroemde Egyptische arts, schrijfster, feministe en voormalig presidentskandidate Nawal al-Saadawi heeft zich bij de demonstranten gevoegd. Ze wordt door het NOS journaal geïnterviewd, al heeft heeft men bij het journaal niet door met welke prominent ze te maken hebben, althans het wordt niet verder uitgelegd (zie ook Stan van Houcke)

Nicholas D. Kristof/The New York Times

Dr. Nawal El Saadawi, a leading Arab feminist, with protesters in Tahrir Square (http://www.nytimes.com/imagepages/2011/02/04/opinion/04kristofnawalimg.html )

Hieronder wat informatie over Kefaya, een Egyptische beweging/actiegroep, die al een aantal jaar actie voert om Mubarak weg te krijgen:

Understanding Kefaya: the new politics in Egypt

Arab Studies Quarterly (ASQ), Wntr, 2007 by Manar Shorbagy

THE EGYPTIAN MOVEMENT FOR CHANGE (EMC) also referred to as Kefaya (enough) was announced in 2004. Almost immediately its importance to Egyptian political life was recognized, though not understood. Both Egyptian and Western analysts have mischaracterized the movement. Interpretations have been either too narrow, focusing on specific details and ignoring the movement’s broad vision or too broad, mistaking Kefaya for a generic social movement in the Western mode. All such approaches fail to grasp Kefaya’s real contribution. This paper argues that Kefaya’s significance lies in its transformative potential as a broad political force of a new type that is uniquely suited to the needs of the moment in Egypt. It is at once a cross-ideological force that has the potential, in the long run, of creating a new mainstream and, at the same time, a movement of a new kind that is creating a distinctive and promising form of politics for Egypt.

Related Results

At the beginning of the twenty-first century, Egypt’s political system has reached a dead end. The opposition political parties are locked in their headquarters, unable to communicate with the public. Virtually acquiescing to the siege of an arsenal of restrictive laws, those political parties have for years suffered from an increasingly diminishing membership, lack of operational funds, and internecine internal feuds.

The “illegality” of the Muslim Brothers (MB) has paradoxically liberated that organization from restrictions that come with governmental licensing. However, the ideology, posture, secrecy and political tactics of the grassroots-based MB all engender the mistrust of many political forces, including some Islamists. At the same time, the secularist-Islamist polarization hinders the possibility of reaching any meaningful consensus on critical issues. This blockage is not lost on the regime, the clear beneficiary of such divisions among its adversaries, and it does not augur well for the future of the Brotherhood in a lead role in shaping Egyptian political life.

With seething political discontent on the one hand and ideologically based mistrust among oppositional political forces on the other, Egypt needs today, more than ever, a new form of politics that pulls together diverse forces from across the political spectrum to forge a new national project. Amidst this political disarray, a new generation of Egyptians holds the promise for transforming politics in Egypt. They have found a home and an instrument in Kefaya and, in the process have invented a new form of politics. Their innovations are historically grounded in the specifics of Egypt’s political life in recent decades. Unique Egyptian circumstances have shaped their experiences, aspirations, and vision for the future.

Throughout more than a decade, this group of activists and intellectuals have interacted across ideological lines to reach common ground. Kefaya emerged as one manifestation of these efforts and an important illustration of the possibilities of this new politics. While such collaborative work across ideological lines is not unique in democratic experiences around the world, Kefaya represents the first successful effort of that new kind of politics in modern Egyptian history.

This essay is based on primary sources including open-ended interviews, statements, newspaper articles and reports, as well as unpublished documents, is composed of three main parts. The first part explains in more detail the reasons why Kefaya has been widely mischaracterized; the second illustrates why and how Kefaya represents a new force with the potential of creating a new mainstream; and the third explores the new politics invented by Kefaya.

In any assessment of Kefaya, analysis must proceed on two levels. The first deals with Kefaya as a protest movement and the second looks at it as a manifestation of a more important phenomenon, namely the new form of interactive politics across ideological lines that is behind it. This paper argues that only by taking into account the innovative dimensions of the Kefaya experience, highlighted by the second level of analysis, can an accurate measure of Kefaya’ s real contribution be made.


Since its early days, there have been various critical interpretations of Kefaya by politicians and intellectuals alike, at times citing deficiencies in the movement’s profile, actions and approach, while at other times dismissing the movement outright as being a “foreign puppet” or the past-time of “a bunch of kids”. The most serious and widely noted critique of Kefaya is that it has been essentially an “elitist” protest movement targeting President Mubarak personally without putting forward an alternative candidate or articulating a constructive vision for political transformation. (1)

The critique along these lines has gained more momentum after the 2005 Presidential Election. Since Kefaya’s main slogan was the rejection of a fifth term for Mubarak as well as the succession of his son, the argument goes, Kefaya lost its raison d’etre with the end of the election. “Except for rejecting the election results, symbolized by the slogan of “Batel” (invalid) nothing new was produced.” When Kefaya played a leading role in the formation of the National Front for Change on the eve of the subsequent parliamentary elections, it was criticized as “passing the torch to the old opposition parties, the very same entities whose inaction it has been formed to face.” (2) The EMC has been “dragged into sitting together with the leaders of the tamed opposition, instead of putting forward a demand for changing the electoral system.” (3)

verder lezen op: http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m2501/is_1_29/ai_n27223613/


De twee kampen op het Tahrirplein in Caïro vanmorgen» De twee kampen op het Tahrirplein in Caïro vanmorgen APTN Toegevoegd: donderdag 3 feb 2011, 10:33

Update: donderdag 3 feb 2011, 12:47

Voor de tiende dag op rij wordt in Egypte gedemonstreerd tegen president Mubarak. Het Tahrirplein, dat de afgelopen dagen in handen was van de demonstranten, lijkt nu te zijn overgenomen door de voorstanders van Mubarak. Overzicht van de gebeurtenissen van vandaag (een kaart van het centrum van Caïro staat onderaan deze pagina).

12.44 uur: NOS Cameraman nog niet in hotel

Egyptische autoriteiten meldden eerder dat NOS cameraman Eric Feijten door de douane is en al in het hotel is aangekomen. Maar de NOS ploeg ter plaatse heeft nog geen contact met hem gehad, Eric Feijten is nog niet in het hotel gesignaleerd.

12.34 uur: ‘Buitenlandse journalisten doelwit’

NOS correspondent Nicole le Fever meldt dat buitenlandse journalisten doelwit zijn van aanhangers van president Mubarak. “Ze worden hard aangepakt”, zegt ze.


12.21 uur: NOS cameraman terecht

NOS cameraman Eric Feijten is terecht. Feijten werd vannacht rond twee uur op het vliegveld van Caïro tegengehouden, zijn apparatuur werd in beslag genomen en enkele uren lang was er geen contact met hem. Feijten is inmiddels door de douane en onderweg naar het NOS team bij het Tahrirplein.

12.20 uur: ‘Tanks in actie’

De Arabische televisiezender Al Jazeera en persbureau Reuters melden dat tanks van het Egyptische leger in actie zouden zijn gekomen. Volgens berichten die bij Al Jazeera binnenkomen, duwen de tanks aanhangers van Mubarak weg van het Tahrirplein, waar de tegenstanders zich hebben verschanst.

12.05 uur: ‘Militairen vormen keten’

Een verslaggever van Al Jazeera meldt dat Egyptische militairen een menselijke keten hebben gevormd tussen de groepen betogers. Het leger probeert voorstanders van Mubarak te beletten bij de tegenstanders op het Tahrirplein te komen. Toch houden tegenstanders van Mubarak rekening met geweld, ze hebben barricades opgeworpen.

11.51 uur: Hezbollah-gevangen ontsnapt

Een groep van 22 Hezbollah-gevangenen in Egypte heeft gebruik gemaakt van de chaos in Egypte: ze zijn ontsnapt. Dat meldt de Egyptische krant al Rai. De mannen waren veroordeeld voor het plegen van aanslagen in Egypte. Ze zijn inmiddels terug in Libanon, de thuisbasis van Hezbollah.

11.39 uur: Mubarak-aanhang snijdt aanvoer af

Gewapende aanhangers van president Mubarak proberen de bevoorrading van de betogers op het Tahrirplein af te snijden. Getuigen melden op de Arabische zender Al Jazeera dat groepjes Mubarak-aanhangers op alle wegen die naar het plein leiden mensen tegenhouden die voedsel en water naar het plein proberen te brengen.

11.34 uur: EU wil snelle overgang

Frankrijk, Groot-Brittannië, Duitsland, Italië en Spanje hebben in een gezamenlijke verklaring opgeroepen tot een onmiddelijke overgang naar een nieuwe regering in Egypte. De EU-landen maken zich zorgen over het geweld in Egypte.

11.31 uur: Premier geeft persconferentie

De Egyptische premier Shafiq geeft ‘zometeen’ een persconferentie, meldt de Arabische televisiezender Al Jazeera.

11.20 uur: Oppositieleiders willen niet praten

Mohamed ElBaradei en de Islamitische Broederschap hebben een uitnodiging van premier Shafiq om te onderhandelen, afgewezen. Ze willen pas gaan praten met de regering als Mubarak is opgestapt en er een einde is gekomen aan het geweld op het Tahrirplein. Andere, kleinere oppositiebewegingen zouden wel op de uitnodiging zijn ingegaan.

11.16 uur: VN personeel geëvacueerd

Volgens persbureau AP gaat de VN 350 personeelsleden uit Egypte evacueren. De VN zet twee toestellen in om het personeel naar Cyprus over te brengen. De eerste vlucht komt naar verwachting om 13.00 uur aan op het vliegveld van Larnaca.

11.03 uur: ‘Premier biedt excuses aan’

De Arabische televisiezender Al Jazeera meldt dat de Egyptische premier Ahmed Safiq zijn excuses heeft aangeboden voor het geweld van afgelopen nacht rond het Tahrirplein in Caïro. De premier heeft een onderzoek naar de gebeurtenissen beloofd.

10.54 uur: cameraman NOS aangehouden

Cameraman Eric Feijten van de NOS is vannacht op het vliegveld van Caïro aangehouden. Zijn apparatuur is in beslag genomen. Sinds vijf uur vanmorgen heeft de NOS geen contact met hem kunnen krijgen.

10.49 uur: Gewapende aanhangers Mubarak onderweg

Persbureau Reuters meldt dat een groep gewapende aanhangers van Mubarak onderweg is naar het Tahrirplein. Ze zouden messen bij zich hebben.

10.34 uur: Leger scheidt betogers

Persbureau Reuters meldt dat het Egyptische leger voor het eerst sinds het begin van het geweld rond het Tahrirplein in actie is gekomen. Militairen hebben zich opgesteld tussen aanhangers en tegenstanders van Mubarak, in een poging een bufferzone te creëren. De twee groepen staan nu op ongeveer tachtig meter afstand van elkaar.

09.23 uur: Journalisten mishandeld

Buitenlandse journalisten op en rond het Tahrirplein zijn mishandeld door Mubarak-aanhangers. Sommige journalisten werden gearresteerd nadat ze waren mishandeld. Ook GPD-correspondent Harald Doornbos werd aangevallen. “We werden in een taxi opeens omsingeld en door aanhangers van Mubarak uit de taxi gesleurd. Ze zetten ongeveer letterlijk machetes op onze keel. Het zag er heel slecht uit. We zijn door een soldaat gered, hij probeerde ons te beschermen en we zijn uiteindelijk door het leger ontzet. Ik zit al lang in dit vak van crisisverslaggeving, maar dit is me nog nooit overkomen.”


08.51 uur: Schoten op Tahrirplein

Op het Tahrirplein in Caïro hebben aanhangers van president Mubarak vannacht geschoten op anti-regeringsbetogers. In de rechtstreekse uitzending van de Arabische nieuwszender al-Jazeera waren minutenlang schoten te horen.


08.42 uur: Gewelddadige nacht

Bij ongeregeldheden op het Tahrirplein zijn volgens de minister van Gezondheid de afgelopen nacht vijf doden en dertien gewonden gevallen. “De meeste slachtoffers vielen toen er gegooid werd met stenen en mensen met stokken en metalen buizen werden aangevallen. Vanmorgen rond het ochtendgloren werd ook geschoten op het plein.” Volgens de minister zijn er in totaal 836 mensen gewond geraakt bij de protesten. Daarvan liggen nog 86 mensen in het ziekenhuis.



De beroemde schrijfster en feministe, de inmiddels tachtigjarige Nawal al-Saadawi, heeft zich aangesloten bij de demonstranten (NOS Journaal)

Ondertussen in Jemen:

Uit de Huffington Post:

First Posted: 02/ 2/11 04:40 AM Updated: 02/ 2/11 01:09 PM

Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh, a key U.S. ally against al Qaeda, said on Wednesday he will not seek to extend his presidency in a move that would end his three-decade rule when his current term expires in 2013.

Eyeing protests that brought down Tunisia’s leader and threaten to topple Egypt’s president, Saleh also vowed not to pass on the reins of government to his son, but asked the opposition to hold down on protests.

“I present these concessions in the interests of the country. The interests of the country come before our personal interests,” Saleh told his parliament, Shoura Council and members of the military.

“No extension, no inheritance, no resetting the clock,” he said, making reference to ruling party proposals to institute term limits that had been seen as allowing him to run again.

His remarks came a day before a planned large rally, dubbed a “Day of Rage,” organized by the opposition that was seen as a barometer of the size and strength of the Yemeni people’s will to follow Egypt and Tunisia in demanding a change of government.

“I call on the opposition to freeze all planned protests, rallies and sit-ins,” Saleh said.

verder lezen op http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/02/02/ali-abdullah-saleh-yemen-_n_817311.html


Media in the line of fire in Egypt

Domestic and foreign journalists have come under siege amid the turmoil in Egypt.
Al Jazeera’s online producer Last Modified: 03 Feb 2011 13:34 GMT
As the situation intensifies in Egypt, journalists are increasingly targeted [AFP] 

Journalists in Egypt – domestic and foreign – are increasingly under siege, with Egyptian authorities detaining reporters and gangs of young men roaming the streets looking for anyone with camera equipment.

Some of the pressure has come from the government: Six Al Jazeera journalists were detained for several hours earlier this week, and while they were eventually released, their equipment remains with the police.

Two New York Times reporters were reportedly arrested – or “taken into protective custody”, as the government termed it.

Spotters stand outside many hotels, watching balconies with high-powered binoculars. When they see balconies with camera equipment or photographers, they use radios to call in the details.

Egyptian police sources say that information from those spotters has been used to conduct several raids on journalists’ hotel rooms in recent days.

And the government has reportedly pressured several hotels not to extend the reservations of foreign journalists.

But most of the intimidation and violence has come from unofficial sources: Young men loiter outside the hotels where many reporters are staying, shouting at (and sometimes attacking) anyone with equipment.

Hotel lobbies are filled with journalists and camera crews wearing bandages, and many have been restricted to watching the events in Tahrir Square from their hotel balconies.

Egyptian state television has actively tried to foment the unrest by reporting that “Israeli spies” have infiltrated the city – which explains why many of the gangs who attack reporters shout “yehudi!” (“Jew!”).

The area around Tahrir Square has become a virtual no-go zone for camera crews, which were assaulted on Wednesday almost as soon as they entered the area controlled by supporters of Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak.

Several of them were mistaken for Al Jazeera crews, and were chased off by young men wielding sticks and chanting, “Jazeera! Jazeera!”.

CNN anchor Anderson Cooper said his crew was also assaulted on Tuesday night after being mistaken for an Al Jazeera crew.

A reporter for the Al Arabiya network was kidnapped for several hours during Wednesday’s protest.

The violence has come exclusively from the Mubarak supporters: There have been no reports of pro-democracy demonstrators attacking or intimidating the media.

Egyptian journalists, too, have been the victims of angry mobs, all of them affiliated with the pro-Mubarak crowd. Sarah El Sirgany, an editor with the Daily News Egypt, tweeted that her brother was assaulted while trying to protect a group of reporters attacked by an angry mob.

An Al Jazeera reporter was held at knifepoint by a group of young men on Thursday morning. One man’s face was still bloodied from the previous night’s fighting.

Bloggers, too, have become targets: The popular Egyptian blogger Sandmonkey has reportedly been arrested (it’s unclear by who).

Al Jazeera

 The Economist http://www.economist.com/blogs/newsbook/2011/02/egypts_revolt

The regime sends in the thugs Feb 2nd 2011, 21:29 by M.R. | CAIRO

 IN MEDIEVAL times, Egypt’s sultans recruited tough guys from the ranks of Cairo’s poorest. These barefoot gangs acted as a second-tier police force. In times of social peace the harafeesh, as they were known, could be enlisted to cheer the sultan during his parades. If some rival upstart threatened the ruler’s sleep, he would send in this rabble to wreck their wedding parties or sack their palaces. And if one of the city’s quarters acted rebellious the harafeesh would invade, smash its shops and deliver a good hiding to the inhabitants.The charge upon protesters in Cairo’s Tahrir Square today by pro-Mubarak mobs looked rather like a similar tactic. After the failure of Mr Mubarak’s regular police to stanch the protests, and the refusal of his army to do the job, the president’s men appear to have resorted to a hired mob, bolstered by trained police thugs, to make a last try. In one episode of a battle that lasted from the early afternoon into the evening, a dozen horse and camel riders made the mistake of charging into the anti Mubarak crowd. It turned out they had been hired by a member of Mr Mubarak’s party representing the district near the Giza pyramids. These men apparently blame the pro-democracy folk for causing unrest, and interrupting the tourist traffic that is their livelihood.There are other medieval aspects to Cairo these days. The citizens’ patrols that now man local barricades, in the absence of police, arms themselves with sticks, knives and clubs. In the posh district of Zamalek, these are as likely to be golf clubs or cricket bats as two-by-fours. For extra measure, local Harley Davidson enthusiasts patrol around on their expensive motorbikes, looking mean in leather and barking into walkie talkies. As one banking executive sighed, while doing his volunteer three-hour shift to guard his building, “So this is the primitive state this regime has reduced us to, standing in front of our houses with sticks to guard our property?”



Tahrir: Shock and awe Mubarak style

Pro-Mubarak thugs weren’t enough to deter the calls of democracy from the crowds gathering in Tahrir square.
Al Jazeera writer in Cairo Last Modified: 03 Feb 2011 14:29 GMT
Pro-Mubarak activists clashed with pro-democracy supporters yesterday, with many in the pro-Mubarak camp accused of working for government ministries, including police forces [Getty] 

Between the Monday of January 31 until Hosni Mubarak’s quaint speech late in the night night (1 February), the pro-democracy protest in Tahrir Square was the most diverse gathering that I have ever witnessed in Egypt.

In normal times, Cairo is devoid of socially porous spaces where people of all classes can mix comfortably. The crowds in Tahrir Square, larger each night since the ministry of interior’s security force was broken on January 28th, created a spontaneous Bohemia.

As befits the label given to the uprising – thaurat al-shabab (revolt of the youth) – there were plenty of mid-teens to early 30s men and women in the pro-democracy camp. But with them were children, the elderly, the ultra-pious and the slickest cosmopolitans, workers, farmers, professionals, intellectuals, artists, long-time activists, complete neophytes to political protest, and representatives of all political persuasions outside the National Democratic Party, whose headquarters were sacked and burned last Friday, and still emitting a faint ashy smell by Monday.

A well-adjusted mob

The behaviour of the crowd was impeccable. Volunteers manned all entry points to the Square, checking the identity cards of everyone who entered. Egyptian identity cards state the profession of their holders, hence anyone whose card indicated that he worked for the ministry of interior was barred from entering the Square.

The goal was to prevent government-sponsored incitement, ensuring that the atmosphere would remain purposeful and free of violence. That goal was entirely fulfilled up to the moment of Mubarak’s speech.

Until Mubarak offered his dubious “concessions”, the crowd was euphoric, but at the same time firmly grounded in its mission to effect deep-rooted changes to Egyptian political practise.

There is no doubt that Egyptians were substantially united in their conviction that the Mubarak regime must end; in the current environment, remaining support for Mubarak is motivated more by material interests than by conviction.

As the world knows very well, immediately after Mubarak’s speech his supporters began to attack the demonstration.

Releasing the hounds

The attacks were already underway by the early hours of Wednesday morning (February 1, 2011), and as all news sources – save Egyptian state media – have reported, attacks on the pro-democracy protesters have increased in intensity throughout Wednesday (2 February) and continuing on into Thursday.

The regime’s shock troops have certainly used “white weapons” – knives and other sharp objects, chains or other bits of metal that can maim – but there are also reports that they have used propane gas tanks, Molotov cocktails, tear gas and possibly even live ammunition.

What the army is doing is unclear, but there is no doubt that it has not protected the pro-democracy demonstrators.

It is true, as many news sources have reported, that the pro-Mubarak forces include an element of criminals that have long been employed by the regime to break up demonstrations and intimidate elections.

There is also no doubt that members of the defeated Central Security Forces were among the shock troops used by the regime in its counterattack against the pro-democracy movement.

But the waves of pro-Mubarak demonstrators marching through downtown Cairo toward Tahrir Square on Wednesday were not entirely devoid of ordinary Egyptian citizenry. It is likely that not all of these citizens are acting out of conviction. There are reports that government ministries have told public-sector employees that their jobs depend on supporting the regime.

Aside from these semi-coerced supporters of Mubarak, there are people who have always regarded the pro-democracy movement as troublemakers on the grounds that the order maintained by the regime’s security apparatus is more valuable than the cost paid in curtailed civil liberties.

It must be emphasised that the sum of all these elements of pro-Mubarak sentiment is remarkably more socially homogeneous than the pro-democracy movement.

Cunning and motives

Of course there are tacitly pro-regime supporters witnessing events from afar. But of those who are willing to put their bodies on the line – as the pro-democracy movement has done – the social profile is overwhelmingly male and lower to lower-middle class.

The bottom line is that while it may be true that support for the regime has a broader social base than the stereotype of “criminals and semi-coerced public sector employees” suggests, there is at the same time no political philosophy animating the pro-regime supporters.

If the rule of Mubarak and/or the National Democratic Party survives the pro-democracy uprising, it will be purely through force.

The motivations of the pro-democracy movement, by contrast, are undoubtedly more diverse than the euphoric atmosphere of Monday and Tuesday suggest.

The elephant in the room though is the Muslim Brotherhood. The MB has thus far played a skillful political game of supporting the pro-democracy movement without trying to lay claim to it – far more skillful, for example, than Mohamed ElBaradei’s relatively amateurish interventions.

In truth the driving force of the pro-democracy movement is emphatically not the Muslim Brotherhood. As everyone knows, the Muslim Brotherhood is a powerful force in Egyptian politics, but there are generational and social divisions within the movement which may in fact make a Muslim Brotherhood power grab unfeasible, assuming that it actually aspires to such a goal.

The pro-democracy uprising was propelled by a non-partisan coalition of young activists, who at long last tapped into a current of popular revulsion at the police-state techniques that the regime used to maintain its grip on power.

Whose public interest?

The opposition parties have a role to play in creating an alternative to Mubarak’s rule. They are not necessarily well prepared to play this role after decades of hopeless marginalisation by the ruling NDP.

In order to bring about structural change to Egyptian politics they will have to focus not on the social context that makes regime’s downfall possible (police state suppression, unemployment and poverty), but on Egypt’s laws and constitution.

An end to torture as a primary tactic for maintaining the regime’s power will require reforms in a legal system that combines powers of criminal prosecution with police investigation. These two functions are separate in the legal systems of Europe and the United States, but combined in Egypt and in many socialist countries.

The result in Egypt is that the office of public prosecutor (al-niyaba al-‘amma) has the authority to gather evidence in the criminal cases that it pursues. This would be considered an obvious conflict of interest in the United States.

In Egypt it means that a prosecutor who represents “the public interest” (aka the state) possesses powers of police investigation. This leads to systematic torture justified on grounds of it being “in the public interest”.

It is no coincidence that when the power of the state was broken on the “day of rage” (January 28th), the pro-democracy protesters attacked many police stations throughout the country.

Police stations, not just the ministry of interior’s Central Security Forces, were targeted because the Egyptian public has been subject to systematic torture by a police-judiciary nexus throughout the 30 years of Mubarak’s rule.

The minimum demands of the pro-democracy movement must include that the prosecution function be separated from the function of police investigation. The rule of law executed by an independent judiciary would be the best guarantor of civil liberties in Egypt.

Assembling a new future

After that, more obvious demands follow.

The current People’s Assembly (maglis al-sha’b) must be abolished on the grounds that its election was blatantly fraudulent; it cannot under any circumstances be allowed to direct the course of reform.

Mubarak’s speech on Tuesday in fact called for the “reform” of the constitution by the People’s Assembly. This is impossible while the People’s Assembly consists entirely of representatives “elected” in the hopelessly compromised elections held just a few weeks ago at the end of 2010.

The only feasible exit from the current confrontation between Mubarak’s thugs and the pro-democracy movement is the appointment of a national unity government constituted from a broad spectrum of the opposition parties, on the condition that articles 76 and 77 of the Egyptian constitution be reformed (specifically, the articles stipulating that the president can run for successive terms and narrowing the conditions under which a candidate can stand for the presidency to the point that almost nobody can mount a campaign against the party in power).

In practical terms, the current parliament must be dismissed, and the constitution must essentially be re-written.

The validity of the old constitution is in any case dubious in light of the experience of thirty years of living under the “emergency law” that was in force since the assassination of Anwar Sadat in 1981.

Egypt’s laws must be reconstituted from scratch. If, that is, the pro-democracy movement survives the regime’s crude attempts to snuff it out by force.

The next big demonstration by the pro-democracy forces is scheduled for Friday. The army could stop it if the regime orders it to and the soldiers obey their orders – I doubt the regime’s thugs are strong enough to do the job by themselves.

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

Al Jazeera



As Islamist Group Rises, Its Intentions Are Unclear

Published: February 3, 2011

WASHINGTON — After maintaining a low profile in protests led largely by secular young Egyptians, the Muslim Brotherhood, the country’s largest opposition force, appeared to be taking a more assertive role on Thursday, issuing a statement asking for President Hosni Mubarak to step aside for a transitional government.




Related in Opinion

“We demand that this regime is overthrown, and we demand the formation of a national unity government for all the factions,” the Brotherhood said in a statement broadcast by Al Jazeera.

The Obama administration has spoken cautiously about the future role of the Brotherhood, which has long been banned by Mr. Mubarak’s government, saying only that all parties must renounce violence and accept democracy. But one of the few near certainties of a post-Mubarak Egypt is that the Muslim Brotherhood will emerge as a powerful political force.

The unanswered question, according to experts on the region, is whether that will prove a manageable challenge for the United States and Israel or a catastrophe for American interests in the Middle East.

The Brotherhood, founded in Egypt in 1928, is the oldest and largest Islamist movement in the world, with affiliates in most Muslim countries and adherents in Europe and the United States.

Its size and diversity, and the legal ban that has kept it from genuine political power in Egypt for decades, make it hard to characterize simply. As the Roman Catholic Church includes both those who practice leftist liberation theology and conservative anti-abortion advocates, so the Brotherhood includes both practical reformers and firebrand ideologues.

Which of those tendencies might rise to dominance in a new Egypt is under intense discussion inside the Obama administration, where officials say they may be willing to consult with the Brotherhood during a political transition.

Bruce Riedel, a veteran observer of the Muslim world at the Brookings Institution, said the United States had no choice but to accept the group’s role.

“If we really want democracy in Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood is going to be a big part of the picture,” said Mr. Riedel, who was the Egypt desk officer at the Central Intelligence Agency when Mr. Mubarak came to power in 1981. “Rather than demonizing them, we ought to start engaging them now.”

American politicians and pundits have used the Brotherhood as a sort of boogeyman, tagging it as a radical menace and the grandfather of Al Qaeda. That lineage is accurate in a literal sense: some Qaeda leaders, notably the terrorist network’s Egyptian second-in-command, Ayman al-Zawahri, have roots in the organization. But Qaeda leaders despise the Brotherhood because it has renounced violence and chosen to compete in elections.

“The Brotherhood hates Al Qaeda, and Al Qaeda hates the Brotherhood,” said Shadi Hamid, director of research at the Brookings Doha Center in Qatar. “So if we’re talking about counterterrorism, engaging with the Brotherhood will advance our interests in the region.”

Mr. Hamid said the Muslim Brotherhood’s deep hostility to Israel — which reflects majority public opinion in Egypt — would pose difficulties for American policy. Its conservative views on the rights of women and intolerance of religious minorities are offensive by Western standards. But he said that the group was far from monolithic and that it was divided between those who would never accept Israel’s right to exist and those who accepted a two-state solution in which Israel and Palestine exist side by side.

“Yes, in their heart of hearts, they hate Israel,” Mr. Hamid said. “But they know they have to live in this world and respect the geopolitical scene.”

The Muslim Brotherhood was founded by an Egyptian schoolteacher and imam, Hassan al-Banna, as a grass-roots association whose goal was to promote the reform of Muslim society by a greater adherence to Islam, through preaching, outreach and the provision of social services.

“It was a bottom-up, gradual process, beginning with the individual and ultimately reaching all of society,” said Carrie Rosefsky Wickham, a political scientist at Emory University and the author of “Mobilizing Islam,” a 2002 book on Egypt and the Muslim Brotherhood. “It’s roughly analogous to the evangelical Christian goal of sharing the gospel. Politics were secondary.”

But Mr. Banna did speak of jihad, too, as a struggle against colonialism and Zionism, Ms. Wickham said. Quotations from the Brotherhood’s founder have been highlighted in recent years by Western critics who portray the movement as a militant threat.

In the 1970s, after years of brutal repression by the state, the Egyptian president at the time, Anwar el-Sadat, permitted the Brotherhood to operate quietly and to open a Cairo office, and the Brotherhood formally renounced violence as a means of achieving power in Egypt. The group did not, however, reject violence in other circumstances, and its leaders have endorsed acts of terrorism against Israel and against American troops in Iraq.

A prominent Brotherhood thinker, Sayyid Qutb, who was imprisoned by the Egyptian government and executed in 1966, was an important theorist of violent jihad and a spiritual progenitor of Osama bin Laden, the founder of Al Qaeda, and Anwar al-Awlaki, the American-born radical preacher now hiding in Yemen. But the Brotherhood took a different direction after Mr. Qutb’s death, and Qaeda leaders came to hold the organization in contempt.

A milestone in the Brotherhood’s evolution in Egypt came in 1984, when its leaders decided to compete in parliamentary elections. Since then, it has been alternately tolerated and repressed in Egyptian politics, where most estimates of its actual support begin at 20 percent of the electorate.

“The paradox has been that the better the Brotherhood performs, the more repression it has attracted,” Ms. Wickham said. After it won 88 seats in Parliament in the 2005 elections, Mr. Mubarak’s government responded with a new crackdown.

In an interview just before the current wave of protests began in Egypt, Essam el-Erian, a leading figure in the Brotherhood, said the group did not seek to monopolize power. “We want an atmosphere for fair competition now that can allow us to compete for power in the future,” Mr. Erian said. “And we want stability and freedom for people, not chaos.”

The Brotherhood, whose leaders are mostly much older than the protest organizers, joined the demonstrations only after they were under way. The hesitancy may reflect in part the grim history of the state’s ruthlessness, said Abdel Halim Qandil, the general coordinator of Kifaya, a secular opposition movement.


Overview of the Brotherhood

White House, Egypt Discuss Plan for Mubarak’s Exit (February 4, 2011)

Mubarak: ‘If I Resign Today There Will Be Chaos’

In an Exclusive Interview, Egypt’s President Says He’s Fed Up and Wants to Resign, “But Cannot for Fear of the Country Falling into Chaos.”





Christiane Amanpour (ABC) interviews President Hosni Mubarak

I’ve just left the presidential palace in Cairo where I sat down for an exclusive 30-minute interview with President Hosni Mubarak.

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He told me that he is troubled by the violence we have seen in Tahrir Square over the last few days but that his government is not responsible for it. Instead, he blamed the Muslim Brotherhood, a banned political party here in Egypt.

I asked President Mubarak about the violence that his supporters launched against the anti-government protesters in Liberation Square.

Tune in for a special one-hour “Nightline” with ABC News’ Christiane Amanpour reporting from Cairo TONIGHT at 11:35 p.m. ET.

He told me, “I was very unhappy about yesterday. I do not want to see Egyptians fighting each other.”

I asked how he felt after giving the speech Monday night, saying he would not run for president again, and he told me he felt relief.

ABC News’ Christiane Amanpour with 

When I asked him what he thought seeing the people shouting insults about him and wanting him gone, he said, “I don’t care what people say about me. Right now I care about my country, I care about Egypt.”

The interview took place on day when the mood here is getting increasingly tense. This afternoon, my ABC News team and I left our offices in three cars and started a drive to the Presidential Palace.

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White House, Egypt Discuss Plan for Mubarak’s Exit

Published: February 3, 2011

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration is discussing with Egyptian officials a proposal for President Hosni Mubarak to resign immediately, turning over power to a transitional government headed by Vice President Omar Suleiman with the support of the Egyptian military, administration officials and Arab diplomats said Thursday.

Even though Mr. Mubarak has balked, so far, at leaving now, officials from both governments are continuing talks about a plan in which, Mr. Suleiman, backed by Sami Enan, chief of the Egyptian armed forces, and Field Marshal Mohamed Tantawi, the Defense Minister, would immediately begin a process of constitutional reform.

The proposal also calls for the transitional government to invite members from a broad range of opposition groups, including the banned Muslim Brotherhood, to begin work to open up the country’s electoral system in an effort to bring about free and fair elections in September, the officials said.

Senior administration officials said that the proposal is one of several options under discussion with high-level Egyptian officials around Mr. Mubarak, though not him directly, in an effort to convince him to step down now.

The officials cautioned that the outcome depended on several factors, not least of all the mood of the protesters on the streets of Cairo and other Egyptian cities and the dynamics within the Egyptian government. Some officials said there was not yet any indication that either Mr. Suleiman or the military were willing to abandon Mr. Mubarak.

The Egyptian government will be tested again by massive new protests on Friday, which the demonstrators were calling the “day of departure” for Mr. Mubarak, when they plan to march on the presidential palace. The military’s pledge not to fire on the Egyptian people will be tested as well.

The discussions about finding a way out of the crisis in Cairo comes amid new questions about whether American spy agencies, after the collapse of the Tunisian government, adequately warned the White House and top lawmakers about the prospects of an uprising in Egypt.

During a Senate hearing on Thursday, both Democrats and Republicans pressed a senior Central Intelligence Agency official about when the C.I.A. and other agencies notified President Obama of the looming crisis, and whether intelligence officers even monitored social networking sites and internet forums to gauge popular sentiment in Egypt.

“At some point it had to have been obvious that there was going to be a huge demonstration,” said Dianne Feinstein, the California Democrat who is chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee. She said that intelligence agencies never sent a notice to her committee about the growing uprising in Egypt, as is customary for significant global events.

Stephanie O’Sullivan, the C.I.A. official, responded that the agency has been tracking instability in Egypt for some time and had concluded that the government in Cairo was in an “untenable” situation. But, Ms. O’Sullivan, “We didn’t know that the triggering mechanism would be.”

Even as the Obama administration is coalescing around a Mubarak-must-go-now posture in private conversations with Egyptian officials, Mr. Mubarak himself remains determined to say until the elections in September, American and Egyptian officials said. His backers forcibly pushed back on Thursday against what they viewed as American interference in Egypt’s internal affairs.

“What they’re asking cannot be done,” one senior Egyptian official said, citing clauses in the Egyptian constitution that bars the vice president from assuming power. Under the constitution, the speaker of Parliament would succeed the president. “That’s my technical answer. My political answer is they should mind their own business.”

In an interview with Christiane Amanpour of ABC News, Mr. Mubarak said that he was “fed up” with being president but that he could not step down for fear of sowing chaos in the country. Because of the fervor in Egypt, one Obama administration official said, Mr. Mubarak’s close aides expressed concern that they weren’t convinced that Mr. Mubarak’s resignation would satisfy the protesters.

“The worry on Mubarak’s part is that if he says yes to this, there will be more demands,” said Leslie H. Gelb, president emeritus of the Council on Foreign Relations. “And since he’s not dealing with a legal entity, but a mob, how does he know there won’t be more demands tomorrow?”

A number of high-level American officials have reached out to the Egyptians in recent days. While administration officials would not give details of alternative scenarios, they made it clear that their preferred outcome would be Mr. Suleiman as the transitional figure.

Vice President Biden spoke by phone to him on Thursday, the White House said in a statement, urging that “credible, inclusive negotiations begin immediately in order for Egypt to transition to a democratic government that addresses the aspirations of the Egyptian people.”

Mr. Biden’s phone call came after a mission by Mr. Obama’s private emissary, Frank G. Wisner, was abruptly ended when Mr. Mubarak, angry at Mr. Obama’s toughly worded speech Tuesday night, declined to meet with the envoy a second time, official said.

Defense secretary Robert M. Gates has made three calls since the weekend to Egypt’s powerful defense minister, Field Marshal Tantawi, who served on the coalition side in the 1991 Gulf War. Pentagon officials declined on Thursday to describe the specifics of the calls, but indicated that Mr. Gates’ messages were focused on more than urging the Egyptian military to exercise restraint.

“Officials familiar with the dialogue between the administration and Cairo say that American officials have told Egyptian officials that if they support another ‘strong man’ to replace Mr. Mubarak — but without a specific plan and timetable for moving toward democratic elections — the U.S. Congress might react by freezing military assistance. On Thursday, the Senate passed a resolution calling on Mr. Mubarak to begin the transfer of power to an “inclusive, interim caretaker government.”

American officials have pointed to the Anthony H. Cordesman, an expert on the Egyptian military at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, said that a transition government of Mr. Suleiman and the military, with pledges to move toward democratic elections, was in his mind “the most probable case.” But he said the administration had to proceed with extreme caution.

“Everybody working this issue knows that this is a military extremely sensitive to outside pressure,” he said.

, adding that Even as the administration ratcheted up the pressure on Egypt, it has reaffirmed its support for other Arab allies facing popular unrest. The White House released a statement saying that President Obama called President Ali Abdullah Saleh of Yemen on Wednesday to welcome Mr. Saleh’s recent “reform measures” –the Yemeni President promised not to run again in 2013.

And on Thursday, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton called King Abdullah of Jordan to say the United States looked forward to working with his new Cabinet—recently announced–and to underline the importance of the relationship between Jordan and the United States.

Philip J. Crowley, the State Department spokesman, declined to say whether Mrs. Clinton had enlisted him in an effort to ease out Mr. Mubarak. But he praised the king for responding to the unrest in Jordan. “He’s doing his best to respond to this growing aspiration,” Mr. Crowley said. “And we appreciate the leadership he’s shown.”


Elisabeth Bumiller, Mark Mazzetti and Thom Shanker contributed reporting

President Hosni Mubarak


6 April Beweging is motor achter strijd tegen Mubarak

Van onze verslaggever Rob Vreeken − 04/02/11, 07:46


Egyptische demonstranten gooien stenen © epa

CAÏRO – De 6 April Beweging werd in 2008 opgericht op internet om stakende arbeiders in de industriestad Mahalla al-Kubra te helpen. Een beweging van jongeren uit de Egyptische middenklasse, die plots strijden om de macht in het land.

De ‘Facebookgeneratie’ die de drijvende kracht is achter de democratische opstand in Egypte, is in werkelijkheid een losvaste groep, met een lemma op Wikipedia en een naam die bij voorbaat geschiedenis lijkt te willen schrijven: de 6 April Beweging.

 Deze groep deed, samen met een Facebooknetwerk dat zich ‘Wij zijn allen Khaled Said’ noemt, de oproep uitgaan voor de eerste betoging op het Tahrirplein, dinsdag 25 januari. Het was bedoeld als een soort flashmob ­- waarbij een grote groep personen uit het niets bij elkaar lijkt te komen -, maar het pakte veel groter uit dan de organisatoren hadden gedacht. Het gaf deze jongeren uit de middenklasse, maar weldra burgers van alle leeftijden en standen, plotseling het idee: wat de Tunesiërs konden, kunnen wij ook.


 De 6 April-jongens zagen hun kans, maar beseften meteen hun verantwoordelijkheid. Binnen een etmaal was hun actie veranderd in een acute uitdaging aan het regime van Hosni Mubarak. Voor vrijdag de 27ste werd een grote demonstratie aangekondigd, opnieuw op het Tahrirplein. Er moest razendsnel een volwassen alternatief voor de regering-Mubarak worden gesmeed.

Oppositiegroep na oppositiegroep haakte, het momentum voelende, in na die cruciale dinsdag. Vorige week donderdag al vond het eerste beraad plaats tussen vertegenwoordigers van de 6 April Beweging en leiders van de belangrijkste oppositiegroepen – zowel oude partijen als de nieuwe National Association for Change (NAC) van Nobelprijswinnaar Mohamed ElBaradei.

Het gezicht
Meteen al werd bepaald dat hij het gezicht zou worden van de zich uitkristalliserende anti-Mubarak-coalitie. De jongeren blijven echter een hoofdrol spelen in de beweging.
Volgens een reconstructie in The New York Times is al een schaduwparlement samengesteld en is een lijst opgesteld met tien namen van personen die zouden kunnen deelnemen aan een regering van nationale eenheid, die een nieuwe Grondwet en verkiezingen moet voorbereiden.



Steun de Arabische bevolking!

Arjan El Fassed, 02-02-2011 16:44


eg_edited2_300Voor de Westerse wereld lijken stevige Arabische regimes een belangrijker doel om eigen belangen te dienen dan dat er wordt geluisterd naar de angst, onvrede en belangen van gewone burgers.
Er is een politieke aardbeving gaande in het Midden-Oosten. Hoewel het lastig is voorspellingen te doen, is een ding zeker, recente ontwikkelingen zullen blijvende impact hebben op de regio en het beleid van Westerse landen, inclusief de VS en Europa ten aanzien van de Arabische wereld.


Voor de Westerse wereld lijken stevige Arabische regimes een belangrijker doel om eigen belangen te dienen dan dat er wordt geluisterd naar de angst, onvrede en belangen van gewone burgers. Zij leefden tussen een sociaal-economisch minimum dat net voldoende was om geen honger te hebben en de angst voor repressief optreden van hun machthebbers. Het is een Westers sprookje om te denken dat jonge mensen dit blijven accepteren en toont een gebrek aan lange termijn visie.

Door de financiële en economische crisis en oplopende voedselprijzen is dat veranderd. Met behulp van nieuwe technologieën, het falen van officiële censuur en een hele jonge boze bevolking is de angst voor repressie doorbroken. Het betrekkelijke gemak waarmee in Tunesië de belangrijkste machthebber het land moest verlaten, toonden hen dat doorzetten resultaat oplevert. Bovendien inspireert de kracht van gewone mensen, hele volksstammen die gekluisterd achter de laptop of de TV deze ontwikkelingen nauwgezet volgen.


De opkomst van mobiele technologieën, sociale media die formele censuur omzeilen, en de aandacht van satelliet zenders voor de gewone man of vrouw, maakte Tunesië een voorbeeld voor omringende landen.

Dezelfde trends zijn ook waarneembaar in Egypte, Algerije en Jordanië. En zijn niet onopgemerkt in andere Arabische landen als Libië, Marokko en Syrië. Met de onthulling van de slaafsheid van de Palestijnse Autoriteit na het uitlekken van onderhandelingsmemo’s via Al-Jazeera, de zogenaamde Palestine Papers, werd nog eens het onvermogen getoond van regeringsleiders om te luisteren naar haar eigen jonge bevolking. Zwart op wit viel te lezen op welke wijze de Palestijnse Autoriteit in hun handelen afhankelijk zijn van hun donoren ten koste van hun eigen mensen.

Om meteen een einde te maken aan een ander Westers sprookje: Democratie gaat niet uitsluitend om verkiezingen maar om de mogelijkheid van gewone mensen verantwoording af te dwingen. Regeringsleiders moeten uitleggen waarom hun land ervoor staat zoals het ervoor staat en de keuzes maakt, die het maakt. De enorme financiële en militaire steun die deze regimes de afgelopen decennia hebben mogen ontvangen van Westerse landen, maakte deze regimes niet verantwoordingsplichtig aan hun eigen mensen maar aan hun bondgenoten.


Terwijl de Amerikaanse overheid met flinke sommen geld en militaire steun regimes als Egypte ($ 2 miljard per jaar) zonder randvoorwaarden blijvend ondersteunt, maakt de EU zich vooral druk over immigratie en terrorismebestrijding en gaf wat politieke hervormingen betreft niet thuis. Zo had de EU bijna een miljard beschikbaar voor het tegengaan van immigratie en een schamele tien miljoen ter bevordering van mensenrechten in de regio. Ook als het gaat om diplomatie en politieke druk waren Europese regeringsleiders vooral bezig met migratie, terrorisme en het mislukte vredesproces en was het volledig stil als het ging om het repressieve karakter van Arabische regimes.

Arabische mensenrechten activisten denken dat Europese retoriek over hervormingen meer te maken heeft met het dienen van een Amerikaanse agenda dan dat het echt gaat om de steun van bewegingen van onderop. Vooralsnog betekent het gebrek aan Westerse zelfkritiek ten aanzien van dit buitenlandse beleid weinig concrete verandering.


Het is niet verwonderlijk dat als het om de toekomst van Egypte gaat, de Amerikaanse president eerst praat met spelers als Saudi Arabië, Turkije en Israël om opvolging te organiseren, in plaats van echt te begrijpen waarom de gewone Egyptische man of vrouw, de straat opgaat. Hoewel het Westen vooral bang is dat islamisten aan de macht zouden kunnen komen, heeft juist die angst er voor gezorgd dat de diversiteit aan meningen de afgelopen decennia in de Arabische wereld de kop is ingedrukt.

Het is daarom in het belang van mensenrechten en stabiliteit dat de politiek meer zijn oor te luisteren legt bij de gewone man en vrouw in de Arabische straten. Het is niet genoeg om als Nederlandse overheid een paar mensenrechten organisaties te steunen in het Midden-Oosten. We moeten de mensen daar versterken om hun wens voor verantwoording en inspraak gehoord te krijgen en te realiseren. Wat het gevolg ook moge zijn voor ons. Op de lange termijn is dit het beste voor iedereen.

Arjan El Fassed is Tweede Kamerlid en woordvoerder buitenlandse zaken en ontwikkelingssamenwerking van GroenLinks

Egypt’s ‘final push’ protests begin

Protesters flood Tahrir Square, for ‘Day of Departure’ against a president who has said he is ready to go but not yet.
Last Modified: 04 Feb 2011 12:58 GMT
The government has called opposition parties, including the Muslim Brotherhood, for talks [AFP] 

Chants urging President Hosni Mubarak to leave are reverberating across Cairo’s Tahrir Square, the focal point of protests in Egypt, where hundreds of thousands have gathered for what they have termed the “Day of Departure”.

As the country entered its eleventh day of unrest, mass demonstrations commenced after Friday prayers.

Thousands gathered in the city of Alexandria, holding up placards and chanting “He must go!” an Al Jazeera correspondent there reported. Three thousand people also joined demonstrations in Giza.

“The feel here is that today is the final day for Mubarak, it’s time for him to go,” Gigi Ibrahim, a political activist told Al Jazeera from Tahrir [Liberation] Square.

“This whole process has been about who is more determined and who is not willing to give up. And everyday [the protesters] get more and more determined,” Ibrahim said.

Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, Egypt’s defence minister, also visited the square earlier on Friday. He talked with the protesters and other military commanders.

Amr Moussa, Egypt’s former foreign minister and current secretary-general of the Arab League, also visited the square.

Earlier, Ahmed Shafiq, Egypt’s new prime minister, said the interior minister should not obstruct Friday’s peaceful marches. And Mubarak, on his part said he wanted to leave office, but feared there will be chaos if he did.

Speaking to America’s ABC television he said, “I am fed up. After 62 years in public service, I have had enough. I want to go.”

But he added: “If I resign today, there will be chaos.”

Mubarak’s government has struggled to regain control of a nation angry about poverty, recession and political repression, inviting the Muslim Brotherhood – Egypt’s most organised opposition movement – to talks and apologising for Wednesday’s bloodshed in Cairo.

Transition government

Protesters chanted ‘He must go!’ 

In a bid to calm the situation, Omar Suleiman, the vice-president, said on Thursday that the banned Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt’s largest opposition political movement, and others had been invited to meet the new government as part of a national dialogue.

An offer to talk to the banned but tolerated group would have been unthinkable before protests erupted on January 25, indicating the gains made by the pro-democracy movement since then.

But sensing victory, they have refused talks until Mubarak goes.

Opposition actors including Mohamed ElBaradei, the former UN nuclear watchdog head, and the Muslim Brotherhood said again that Mubarak, who wants to stay on until elections scheduled for September, must go before they would negotiate with the government.

“We demand that this regime is overthrown, and we demand the formation of a national unity government for all the factions,” the Muslim Brotherhood said in a statement broadcast by Al Jazeera.

The government’s overture came after Shafiq, the prime minister, apologised for Wednesday’s violence and the breakdown in law and order.

Shafiq also said he did not know who was responsible for the bloodshed, blamed by protesters on undercover police.

In an important move, Mohammed Al-Beltagi, a leading member of Muslim Brotherhood, told Al Jazeera on Friday that his organisation has no ambitions to run for the presidency.

The developments come as the New York Times reports, quoting US officials and Arab diplomats, that the US administration is discussing with Egyptian officials a proposal for Mubarak to resign immediately and hand over power to a transitional government headed by Omar Suleiman, the newly appointed vice-president.

This report, though unconfirmed by the White House, comes after Mubarak’s statements on Tuesday this week, where he agreed to give up power in September at the end of his current term.

Mohamed Talaat El-Sadat, brother of the late Egyptian president Anwar El-Sadaat has backed Suleiman for the top post. He told Al Jazeera on Friday that he supported the youth revolution but did not want Egypt to go to civil war.

“We don’t want chaos and call for meeting [the] demands of demonstrators who should stay at Tahrir Square,” he said, adding “I expect Mubarak will voluntarily and openhandedly step down and transfer power to Omar Suleiman.”

Bloody clashes

Click here for more on Al Jazeera’s special coverage. 

At least 13 people have died and scores were injured, most over the last two days when Mubarak loyalists launched a counter-revolution on pro-democracy protesters.

The army took little action while the fighting raged in Tahrir Square over the past two days. However, there was a more visible military presence on Thursday; but this did not prevent new clashes.

The interior ministry has denied it ordered its agents or officers to attack prior pro-democracy demonstrations.

Vice president Suleiman told ABC Television that the government would not forcefully remove protesters. “We will ask them to go home, but we will not push them to go home,” he said.

Ahead of Friday’s mass protests, eyewitnesses told Al Jazeera that thugs, with the assistance of security vehicles, were readying to attack Tahrir Square. They said protesters were preparing to confront them.

Protesters also reported finding petrol bombs on security personnel dressed in civilian clothes.

An Al Jazeera correspondent, who spent Thursday night in Tahrir Square, said “the numbers did not die down one bit” through the night. He added that there was an atmosphere of defiance among all the protesters he had spoken to.

The army’s role in shaping events is crucial. Only on Thursday did soldiers set up a clear buffer zone around the square to separate factions after having stood by. That did not prevent new clashes as opposing groups pelted each other with rocks.

Though less numerous than earlier in the week, there were demonstrations on Thursday in Suez and Ismailia, industrial cities where inflation and unemployment have kindled the sort of dissent that hit Tunisia and which some believe could ripple in a domino effect across other Arab police states.

Al Jazeera and agencies

King Moves to Widen Outreach in Jordan (February 4, 2011)

Crackdown in Egypt Widens but Officials Offer Concessions (February 4, 2011)

Nicholas D. Kristof: We Are All Egyptians (February 4, 2011)

Zie verder Deel 2

Roger Cohen: Hosni Mubarak Agonistes (February 4, 2011)

Timothy Egan: Bonfire of American Vanities (February 3, 2011)

Editorial: Egypt’s Agonies (February 4, 2011)

Op-Ed Contributor: An Exit Plan for Mubarak (February 4, 2011)

Op-Ed Contributor: Egypt’s Brotherhood (February 3, 2011)

“The Brotherhood was rebuilt over the last three decades as a social religious movement,” Mr. Qandil said. “They are having difficulty transforming that into a political movement.”

Mr. Qandil nonetheless estimated that in a free election, the Brotherhood would win about a third of the seats in Parliament, support that he suggested might ebb as competing parties gained attention.

Asked about the Muslim Brotherhood, Robert Gibbs, the White House spokesman, said Monday that the United States would work with any group that showed “adherence to the law, adherence to nonviolence, and a willingness to be part of a democratic process, but not use that democratic process to simply instill yourself into power.” Some experts on the Brotherhood say the group has met the requirements of nonviolence and participation in elections in Egypt for decades.

But even among specialists, the degree of uncertainty about the Brotherhood’s future is striking. Several admitted they could not say for sure whether participation in government would have a moderating effect on the group, or whether moderation might prove to have been a convenient false front to be cast off if the group attained real power.

Skeptics point to the example of the Palestinian group Hamas, the Brotherhood offshoot that has often used terrorism. Ms. Wickham, of Emory, said Hamas was a national resistance that was fighting Israeli occupation and thus was not a model for a future Egyptian Brotherhood.

But she admitted that after 20 years of studying the group, whose internal deliberations are secret, she found it difficult to predict what it might do after Mr. Mubarak left power. Is the Brotherhood willing to be one party among equals in Egyptian politics, or is it merely biding its time before seeking a monopoly?

The answer is elusive, Ms. Wickham said, even though the Brotherhood “has a 30-year behavior as actors in a competitive political process.” That is why it is crucial, she said, that Egypt’s electoral laws and Constitution be rewritten during a transition, as widely discussed, to prevent any party from seizing absolute control.

“Institutional checks and balances are critical,” she said.

David D. Kirkpatrick contributed reporting from Cairo, and Michael Slackman from Berlin


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