Tag Archive | "Mubarak"

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Is The Tide Turning Against Arab Freedom?

Posted on 22 April 2011 by hashimilion

Is a counter-revolutionary tide beginning to favour the “strongmen” of the Arab world, whose regimes appeared a couple of months ago to be faltering under the impact of the Arab Awakening?

From Libya to Bahrain and Syria to Yemen, leaders are clinging on to power despite intense pressure from pro-democracy protesters. And the counter-revolution has so far had one undoubted success: the Bahraini monarchy, backed by troops from Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states, has brutally but effectively crushed the protesters in the island kingdom. Pro-democracy leaders are in jail or have fled abroad. The majority Shia population is being terrorised by arbitrary arrests, torture, killings, disappearances, sackings, and the destruction of its mosques and religious places.

In three other countries despots under heavy assault have varying chances of survival. A month ago in Yemen it seemed likely that President Ali Abdullah Saleh was on his way out, but he still has not gone and has mobilised his own demonstrators, gunmen and security forces. Nevertheless the army has publicly split and the probability is that he will finally depart.

In Syria protests are continuing across the country despite frequent shootings, but President Bashar al-Assad will take a lot of displacing because of his determination to stay, the strength of his security apparatus and the tight grip on power of the minority Allawi community.

In Libya Muammar Gaddafi teetered on the verge of defeat two months ago when rebels had seized the east of the country and there were demonstrations in Tripoli. Since then he has rallied a core of support and the rebels in Benghazi would collapse if they did not have the backing of Nato airpower. Nevertheless he is likely to go simply because Britain, France and the US are committed to his departure.

All this is very different from what happened in Tunisia and Egypt, where the military and political establishments believed they could get rid of the regime but keep the rest of the state intact. This could not be done in Libya or Syria because the regime and the state are too intertwined.

In Yemen the state is too weak to get rid of the leader, while in Bahrain democracy means a revolutionary transfer of power from the minority Sunni to the majority Shia. The counter-revolution has other advantages. Its leaders are no longer being caught by surprise. Defenders of the status quo no longer think their defeat is inevitable and have recovered their nerve. They can draw on the loyalty and self-interest of state employees and on sectarian allegiances.

The attitude of outside powers to the overthrow of the status quo differs from country to country. The US was in two minds over support for Mr Mubarak, but did not condemn the Saudi armed intervention in Bahrain or the subsequent terrorising of the Bahraini Shia. Washington has a very different attitude to Arab autocracies in North Africa and far more strategically important Gulf oil states allied to the US. Unspoken also as a factor in US thinking is the degree to which revolution or counter-revolution will help or hinder America’s traditional enemy in Iran.

Only in Libya has the struggle between rebellion and the state turned into outright war. The rebels have plenty of support, but they still only control a quarter of the population and they remain militarily weak. Their most important card is Nato air strikes and even these have not enabled the anti-Gaddafi forces to advance beyond Ajdabiya or break the siege of Misrata.

The counter-revolution is showing that it has more going for it than seemed likely two months ago. This only appears surprising because well-established authoritarian regimes went down so swiftly in Tunisia and Egypt. Police states have had time to rally their formidable forces of repression, but even this may not be enough to quell newly politicised populations which believe they can end autocratic rule.

By Patrick Cockburn

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Hosni Mubarak Having Cancer Treatment in Saudi

Posted on 04 March 2011 by hashimilion

Contradictory to official statements, Egypt’s ousted President Hosni Mubarak is undergoing cancer treatment in Saudi Arabia, an Egyptian newspaper reported on Wednesday. The Al-Akhbar daily said Mubarak, 82, was at a military base in Tabouk where he received chemotherapy for pancreas and intestinal cancer every five days, and his family was there with him.

The newspaper said Egypt’s long-time leader left for Saudi Arabia two days after he was forced to step down by two weeks of protests.

The Supreme Council of Egypt’s Armed Forces and the Egyptian Embassy in Riyadh have denied the reports.

Some media have said the former president has returned to the Egyptian resort of Sharm El-Sheikh, whereas the Al-Youm al-Sabia popular newspaper said Mubarak had been banned from leaving the country and was in hospital in Egypt.

Mubarak has not been seen in public since stepping down as president Feb 11. His residence in Sharm el-Sheikh is heavily guarded.

Some media reports say he has been entertaining guests.

Egypt’s top prosecutor, Abdel Magid Mahmoud, officially banned Mubarak and his family from leaving the country on Monday and ordered seizure of his property and that of his family as part of corruption investigations.

Prior to his resignation, Mubarak had said he was determined to stay in the country and would die in his homeland.

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Protests In Yemen Building Up

Posted on 18 February 2011 by hashimilion

For nearly a week thousands of Yemenis have been gathering in Sana’a, their capital, and in several other cities around the country. In Aden, the old capital of the south, two protesters were killed on February 16th. A demonstration the next day in Sana’a was bigger and bloodier than ever, posing still more of a threat to President Ali Abdullah Saleh. The unrest is getting more violent and more widespread.

When rallies were first held several weeks ago, they were organised by Yemen’s official opposition, known as the Joint Meeting Parties (JMP), a hotch-potch of Islamists, socialists and others. But a new wave of protesters, including unemployed young people and frustrated students, are angrier. Whereas the JMP called for political and electoral reform, the latest protesters are chanting, “After Mubarak, Ali’s turn!”

The established opposition groups wrung quite big concessions out of Mr Saleh, including a promise to step down in 2013—without passing his baton to a son. The latest lot want an immediate change. The JMP leaders, by contrast, are nervy about an abrupt shift, wary that Yemenis are perhaps the most heavily armed people in the world.

In any event, the security forces have begun to crack down. On February 11th they stood by, as pro-government people beat up opposition demonstrators. Two days later riot police and plainclothes security men broke up a march of a thousand-odd people in Sana’a with clubs and electric batons. Journalists have been attacked; dozens of campaigners have been arrested or injured.

Parts of the country are in open revolt against the corrupt and oppressive regime in Sana’a. A tribal war persists in the north. A secessionist movement is bubbling in the south. Across the country, al-Qaeda cells are trying to topple the government and bring about a Muslim caliphate in the region. Rumours are swirling in the streets of Sana’a that cash is being moved to foreign bank accounts and assets liquidated in case members of the ruling circle need to leave in a hurry.

Mr Saleh has not reached that stage yet. The protests are still far smaller than those in Tunis or Cairo. Moreover, only a third of Yemenis live in towns; few have access to the internet or own mobile telephones. The president is a wily manipulator of the tribal politics that still dominates Yemen. But as the protests spread, he is far from safe.

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Saudi Arabia Welcomes Peaceful Egypt Transition

Posted on 14 February 2011 by hashimilion

Saudi Arabia, which had supported President Hosni Mubarak throughout the mass protests that finally brought him down, said Saturday that it welcomed the peaceful transition of power in Egypt.

The kingdom’s state news agency said the government of the biggest Arab economy and the world’s top oil exporter expressed hope the Egyptian armed forces would ensure stability.

It made no mention of the pro-democracy demonstrators.

“The government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia welcomes the peaceful transition of power in the Arab Republic of Egypt, and expresses hope in the efforts of the Egyptian armed forces to restore peace, stability and tranquility,” the SPA agency said.

Mubarak’s 30-year rule over the most populous Arab state was brought to a tumultuous end Friday after weeks of protests across Egypt. His departure followed the flight of Tunisia’s long-time leader Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali to Saudi Arabia.

Both events have fueled speculation that popular discontent with economic hardships and a lack of political freedoms could spread to other Arab states, although the distribution of oil wealth among the wider population remains a key factor for the U.S.-allied Saudi royal family in muting dissent.

King Abdullah had expressed support for Mubarak during the protests against his 30 years of one-man rule.

As recently as Thursday, Saudi Arabia had denounced what it saw as “blatant interference” by foreign countries in Egypt, where the United States had called for a political transition and the lifting of emergency law.

Earlier the same day, British newspaper The Times said King Abdullah had told U.S. President Barack Obama that he would help prop up Mubarak’s government if the United States withdrew aid to Cairo. In a January 29 conversation, Abdullah had urged Obama not to humiliate Mubarak, the paper said.

Saudi Arabia controls more than a fifth of the world’s crude oil reserves. As home to Islam’s holiest sites, as well as the birthplace of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, Saudi Arabia is also central to global efforts to fight Islamic militancy.

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The Egyptian Revolution and The Gulf States

Posted on 11 February 2011 by hashimilion

It’s no longer a secret that an uprising in the Gulf States is a big possibility, especially since its people have always connected with the cultural and political movements, which emanated from Egypt,  the epicentre of the Arab world.

The current Islamic movement began in Egypt in the 1930s. Intellectuals from all over the Arab world flocked to Egypt in order to come into contact with the new leadership, its ideas and goals, which were later exported  to other parts of the world.

When the free officers revolution in 1952 had manny supports in the Gulf States to the extent that many participated in demonstrators against their authoritarian regimes.

Analysts are aware that the Egyptian revolution will have a major impact on the Arab world, specifically the Gulf States, whose people are anxiously waiting to see the results of this popular revolution.

The Egyptian revolution  has sent a clear message to the world, change is inevitable. No power in the world, no matter how strong it may be can stop the people from achieving their aspirtaions.

Mubarak’s delaying tactics won’t change the reality on the ground, especially since his status as the head of the regime has fallen. Mubarak’s departure signals the collapse of the regime.

The events of the 25th of January were a major historical turning point. Egyptians were liberated from fear. President Mubarak lost his confidence and legitimacy as direct result of the demonstrations.

What has been said about Mubarak’s regime also applies to the Gulf Shiekhdoms, who buy America’s loyalty in order to shore up their power base. These dictators have no other option but to introduce quick and substantial reforms. The changes that have started in Egypt won’t exclude anyone.

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