Demand for change rocks Arab world

Discussion in 'International Politics' started by ajtr, Jan 29, 2011.

  1. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

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    Demand for change rocks Arab world


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    Protests continue to shake the Middle East and North Africa as thousands rally against autocratic regimes that have held power for years, if not decades. The wave of unrest that began in Tunisia in December continues sparking demonstrations in that country, as well as Gaza, Yemen and Egypt, where the anti-government protests are the largest and most serious in 30 years


    Protesters across the Middle East and North Africa have taken to the streets in mass rallies, demanding an end to years of repression by autocratic leaders and calling for serious governmental shake-ups.

    Top reformist to return to Egypt, join protesters
    Tens of thousands of people have participated over the last three days in Egypt’s largest and most serious anti-government protests in three decades. Momentum behind the movement is expected to grow further with the return to the country of prominent dissident Mohamed ElBaradei, seen as a key challenger to longtime president Hosni Mubarak.

    Protests in Egypt have led to clashes with security forces, leaving at least six people dead and hundreds wounded. Nearly 1,000 people are known to have been detained so far.

    Thousands march in anti-Abbas protests in Gaza
    Thousands of Hamas-led demonstrators meanwhile marched in the Gaza Strip in protest of leaked documents that allegedly show Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas secretly collaborated with Israel and the United States, and made far-reaching concessions on Jerusalem and the fate of Palestinian refugees.

    Tunisians rally as country awaits new cabinet
    In Tunisia, protesters rallied for a fifth day outside the prime minister’s offices, calling for a clean break with the old regime. President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali was ousted in the Arab world’s first popular revolt in recent history, but members of his government still hold leadership posts in the country.

    Thousands of Yemenis call on president to quit
    The wave of protest started in Tunisia last month has also swept Yemen, where thousands demanded longtime President Ali Abdullah Saleh step down. Similar demonstrations have also been held in Algeria, where five days of violent protests against high prices left five people dead and more than 800 injured in early January, as well as Jordan, Mauritania, Oman and Sudan.
     
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  3. Contract Killer

    Contract Killer Regular Member

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    Everyone wants to follow footsteps of India........... Democracy, Democracy, Democracy.
     
  4. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    Egypt has given the Arab world a feeling of freedom from their tightly controlled Shiekdoms, dictatorships and quasi democracies.

    Every Arab wants a place in the sun.

    And now the Sectarian divides add to the kaleidoscope!
     
  5. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    The the Egyptian fever seems to have caused turmoil in the faction ridden Lebanon.
     
  6. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    There were reports of serious demonstration against the Iran Govt and the Ayotollahs.

    Rather odd that they openly want the opposition leaders to be killed!

    Scary!!
     
  7. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    A commentary on the Muslim Brotherhood and its clout.
     
  8. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    contd

    Changed by the system"?

    By the 1990s, despite the off-again, on-again repression by Mubarak's regime, the Brotherhood had completed what many observers say was a transformation. Step by step, its leadership renounced its violent past, engaged in politics, and tried to reinvent itself as a collection of community organizers who operated clinics and food banks, building a network of Islamic banks and companies. Writing last week in Foreign Affairs, Carrie Rosefsky Wickham noted: "Although the Brotherhood entered the political system in order to change it, it ended up being changed by the system." In the 2005 parliamentary elections, the Muslim Brotherhood won 88 seats—20 percent of the Parliament—and probably could have won even more had it run more candidates.

    All of a sudden, the Brothers had emerged as Egypt's most potent opposition force. Though they still faced the wrath of the secret police—and in last year's parliamentary elections, the game was so rigged that the Brotherhood virtually opted out—they became vocal supporters of liberalizing Egypt's calcified system, and it made common cause with other pro-democracy groups.

    Nathan Brown, a political science professor at George Washington University and an expert on political Islam, is optimistic that the Brotherhood has evolved from its fundamentalist roots: "Their agenda is to make Egypt better," he told Salon recently. "And their conception of what's good and bad has a religious basis. So that means increasing religious observance, religious knowledge. It also means probably drawing more heavily on the Islamic legal heritage for Egypt's laws. They don't want to necessarily completely convert Egypt into a traditional Islamic legal system. But if the Parliament's going to pass a law, they want it to be consistent with Islamic law." No doubt many officials and members of the Muslim Brotherhood would endorse this characterization.

    But it's also fair to ask if Brown's interpretation is too charitable. In 2007, the Brotherhood released a draft political program that included several very troubling proposals, including the idea that Egypt's government be overseen by an unelected council of Islamic scholars who would measure the country's laws against the Koran and sharia to make sure governance would "conform to Islamic law." Since then, various Muslim Brotherhood officials have also made conflicting statements about anything from the role of women to the treatment of non-Muslim minorities.

    In the end, there's no getting around the fact that the Muslim Brotherhood is, if not an anachronism, a profoundly reactionary force. Its views on marriage, the family, homosexuality, and the like are distasteful to most Western minds and many Egyptian ones. And it harbors a strong current of overt anti-Semitism, along with a penchant for conspiracy theories. Despite Egypt's drift toward a more conservative Islamic outlook since the 1970s—which paralleled similar trends across the Muslim world—the Egyptian people, especially the middle class, may in the end not be receptive to the Brotherhood's message.

    It's also worth remembering that when the Egyptian uprising began in January, the Muslim Brotherhood was not among the leaders. At the forefront of the movement were young Egyptians, including those organized around a popular Facebook page memorializing the murder of a young man named Khaled Said in Alexandria. They were joined by a panoply of secular, socialist, Nasserite, and pro-democracy groups, and eventually by Mohammad ElBaradei, the former head of the International Atomic Energy Agency. Nearly all of the movement has been relentlessly secular, though it admittedly gained a great deal of momentum when the Muslim Brotherhood—which had initially held back—threw its weight behind the protests.

    So Could They Take Over Egypt?

    Because the Muslim Brotherhood is still a secretive, cell-based organization, and because it operates mostly underground, there are no reliable estimates either of its strength or its potential electoral base. Analysts have placed its membership as low as 100,000 nationwide and as high as a million or more. Similarly, some experts say that in a free and fair election the Brothers would win as little as 10 percent of the vote or as much as 20 to 40 percent—and their share will probably be higher the sooner the election is held, since they are by far the best-organized force at the moment.

    Writing in the Wall Street Journal, former CIA analyst Daniel Byman notes that whatever its numbers, the Brotherhood's potential role is not to be discounted. "Most Egyptians are not members of the Brotherhood, but the group probably represents a healthy plurality of the country, and its strength goes beyond its popularity," writes Byman. "The Brotherhood is highly organized and has street power, enabling it to out-organize or intimidate its weak potential rivals. In parts of the Middle East where relatively free elections have been held, such as Iraq, Lebanon, and the Gaza Strip, this mix of popularity and superior organization has served Islamist parties well."

    What Does This Mean for US Foreign Policy?

    Whatever its ultimate political beliefs, there are several things that the Muslim Brotherhood is not: It is not Al Qaeda or the Taliban. It is a conservative, even ultra-orthodox Islamist group, but it's irresponsible to compare it to the terrorist groups and armed insurgencies that have preoccupied American foreign policy since 2001. Nor is the Brotherhood the Egyptian equivalent of the Islamic force that seized power in Iran in 1979. For one thing, political conditions are much different; for another, the Brotherhood lacks the network of highly politicized clerics that helped Ayatollah Khomeini succeed in 1979. The group itself is almost entirely made up of laymen, often highly educated, and scholars of Islamic law, not members of the clergy.

    To the extent that the Muslim Brotherhood's power in Egypt grows, it is certain to infuse the country with a stronger strain of anti-American and anti-Israel politics. Officially, the Brotherhood has proclaimed that it will abrogate or shelve the Egypt-Israel peace treaty signed in 1978, although in practice doing so might be difficult. It's also likely to align Egypt more closely with other Islamist groups in the Arab world, especially Hamas, which began as a branch of the Muslim Brotherhood. That would be part and parcel of a growing anti-American trend throughout the region, which has been picking up steam since the US invasion of Iraq and the American refusal to challenge Israel's stonewalling of a Palestinian state. If after Mubarak Egypt does indeed move away from the United States, it will only be joining Turkey, Lebanon, and even Iraq and the Gulf states.

    One thing is certain. Having been an important player in Egypt's political landscape for nearly a century, the Muslim Brotherhood is a force to be reckoned with. It cannot be ignored, and no amount of Glenn Beck-style hyperventilating will change that.

    Muslim Brotherhood
     
  9. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    Tunisia Shuns Italian Offer on Border Aid

    By STACY MEICHTRY

    Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini was traveling to Tunis on Monday for talks with Tunisia's interim government, after the North African country rebuffed Italy's offer to deploy paramilitary police along Tunisian coastlines to stem the flow of migrants toward Italy.

    A wave of migrants has hit Italian shores in the wake of political unrest that sent Tunisia's former president into exile.

    Tunisia is "surprised at this stance and affirms that it categorically rejects any interference in its internal affairs or offense against its sovereignty," Tunisia's official TAP news agency quoted a Foreign Ministry spokesman as saying.

    Italy has requested €100 million ($135 million) in aid from the European Union to fund border-control operations, Italian Interior Minister Roberto Maroni told a news conference late Monday, adding that Tunisia's cooperation was "fundamental" to stopping the migrants.

    Shuns Aid
     
  10. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    Italy and Malta want special summits on Africa crisis

    LEIGH PHILLIPS

    14.02.2011 @ 18:08 CET

    EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS - Italy and Malta are pressing for special summits to deal with the "epic emergency" resulting from the upheaval in north Africa.

    While the focus for the two states on the ramparts of Fortress Europe is to be a feared wave of irregular migration caused by the the Tunisian and Egyptian revolutions, the stability of the region as a whole must also be talked about, the two EU countries are saying.

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    On Friday (11 February), Italian interior minister Roberto Maroni, a member of the anti-immigrant Northern League, sent a letter to the Hungarian rotating presidency of the EU requesting that Budapest put the topic of migration via the Maghreb on the table of the next meeting of EU justice and home affairs ministers, scheduled for 24-25 February.

    It is understood that as of Monday, the Italian government wants instead an extraordinary summit of EU premiers and presidents in the coming days to tackle the wider issues.

    The demand from Rome echoes a call by the Italian delegation of conservative MEPs in the European Parliament on Monday lest southern EU states "be left alone to deal with this urgency."

    "It is absolutely essential to convene an extraordinary EU Council ... in the next few days to deal with an epic emergency comparable in intensity and scale to the fall of the Soviet Bloc in 1989", said Mario Mauro MEP, the head of the Italian delegation in the chamber, in a letter to EU Council President Herman Van Rompuy."What is happening in the Maghreb countries has to fully put into question the weakness of the EU Mediterranean Strategy," he continued.

    Hungarian sources told EUobserver that Budapest "will do all it can to accommodate the Italians," but the timing is tight, and it is far from certain whether other EU member states will view the situation the same way as Rome.

    Meanwhile, Malta is busy making emergency preparations in concert with the Libyan government to turn a previously scheduled Mediterranean security meeting into a head-of-state-level summit on the north African situation. The group normally meets at minister-level. If it takes place, the summit would be the first top-level so-called Five Plus Five summit since 2003.

    The Five Plus Five is a security club bringing together Algeria, France, Italy, Libya, Malta, Mauritania, Morocco, Portugal, Spain, and Tunisia. It is entirely separate of the EU.

    Malta's prime minister, Lawrence Gonzi, and foreign minister, Tonio Borg, took a surprise trip to Tripoli last Wednesday amid fears that anti-government protests in Libya, its long-time anti-immigration ally, could threaten its border security.

    According to Mr Borg, the pair were in Libya to discuss "stability in the region" and the Five Plus Five summit with Libyan hardman Moammar Gaddafi.

    Upon his return from Tripoli, Mr Borg hit out at the EU, according to the Times of Malta, warning the bloc to "desist from adopting a condescending attitude towards Arab states" and plans to "mould their government into Western templates".

    A Maltese diplomat confirmed to EUobserver that Valetta is pushing forward with the Five Plus Five discussions but that the topic is "sensitive".

    "The fact that the summit will take place at a moment when political turmoil in north African countries has changed the political landscape and has ushered in a prospect of a democratic process has made this summit more relevant than before," added the diplomat. "The main concern of a number of countries about the upheavals that we have witnessed is that extremist groups might hijack the change promoted by secular and democratic forces."

    The summit is to be preceded by a meeting of Five Plus Five foreign ministers in April in Naples.

    Europe Worried
     
  11. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    Is Iran next?

    From the western point of view, if regime change would be welcomed.

    Given the manner in which the protests have been orchestrated, there is little chance of it being influenced by AQ.

    Iran is an important cog in the international geopolitics since it controls one side of the narrow Straits of Hormuz, through which the major part of international oil demand passes.
     
  12. S.A.T.A

    S.A.T.A Senior Member Senior Member

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    The demand for change that has rented the Arab world,is not something new.Arab world and the larger Islamic world has had its share of revolution and revolutionaries,the real question that one must be asking while the Arab world plunges into copy cat revolution,is will these political changes as witnessed in some countries,and demand for bringing them about at others,really translate into establishment new political deal between the ruler and the ruled,will we witness genuine political reforms and set the stage for a new political discourse where the people will retain the ultimate power to arbiter the course society and nations destiny.Will such a deal become institutionalized.

    Arab world has been on the cusp of revolution before,but have often failed to deliver on genuine democratic reforms.Hope the script is different this time.
     

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