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People Power Shakes The Arab World!

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In Tunisia, People Power Succeeds Without Western Backing

Emad Mekay, Inter Press Service Emad Mekay, inter Press Service – Fri Jan 14, 4:12 pm ET

CAIRO, Jan 14 (IPS) - These are scenes Western powers would have loved to see in Iran - thousands of young people braving live bullets and forcing an autocratic ruler out of the country. But it is in the North African nation Tunisia where an uprising forced the Western-backed autocratic President Zine el Abidine Ben Ali to flee the country.

Western powers remain incredulous. France, the real power broker in the Franco North African nation, was giving Ben Ali tacit support until an hour before he fled Friday.

The French Foreign Ministry said it "backs" the measures announced by Ben Ali by way of overtures to the protestors, but asked for more freedoms. In effect France ignored the movement’s demand for Ben Ali to go, and addressed Ben Ali as the legitimate leader.

The United States was clearly far more busy with the collapse of the government in Lebanon, a country critical to the main U.S. ally in the region, Israel, after the Lebanese opposition withdrew their minister from the coalition government.

Most of the reaction from other Western powers has been that they are "concerned" about the events and that they want their citizens there pulled out, and others warned against travel to Tunisia.

To date, at least 100 people have been killed, hundreds injured and millions of dollars in losses reported.

Ben Ali ruled the country since 1987. Like many other Western-backed Arab rulers, he ruled with an iron fist, leading to massive human rights abuses, widespread corruption and lack of democracy.

When a young street hawker named Mohammed Bouazizi set himself on fire in mid-December to protest unemployment and corruption in the central town Sidi Buzeid, Western capitals didn’t react. Ben Ali, it was assumed, was sure to crush the protests that followed in no time.

Looking his confident self, Ben Ali initially refused almost all of the demands of the protesters in the town and its neighboring cities. But the protests continued unabated across most of Tunisia.

On Thursday night, Ben Ali stood shaken as he talked to his people through TV cameras. Appealing for "understanding" from the people he ruled for more than 23 years and asking for a new page, he promised to end orders to shoot at demonstrators.

It did not stop people. Thousands marched Friday afternoon to the interior ministry, the symbol of decades-long brutality.

"We want bread, and water and no Ben Ali", hand-written signs said, as seen in videos leaked online by activists during the protests.

The aerial views in Tunisia on Friday were reminiscent of Iran of 1979, when thousands marched to topple another Western-supported dictator, the Shah of Iran, and at a much faster pace.

Now Western powers led by the United States have invested millions of dollars in both covert and overt operations to bring the assertive, and occasionally anti-Western regime in Iran to its knees, and bring "regime change".

Western powers would have like people power to succeed in Iran rather than Tunisia. The last strong people movement in Iran was the Green Movement against the disputed presidential elections in 2009. But the movement could not topple the regime.

People in Tunisia had no such support from the West. Internet bloggers had hoped someone would come to their aid.

Blogger Sami Ben Gharbia wrote: "Sidi Bouzid discredited The West. U want regime change in Iran and not in #Tunisa? Well, we will democratize to #tunisia 1st, by ourselves!"

Fortunately for the protesters, the West cannot take credit for the revolution that forced concessions from Ben Ali almost on an hourly basis towards the end, and then threw him out.

Last week, President Ben Ali fired three members of his cabinet. On Wednesday, he called in the army to protect the capital city and important government buildings.

On Thursday, he fired top aides including the interior minister who had ordered the shoot-to-kill policy during the protests; a policy that initially led to the death of at least 60 people.

In his last attempts to hang on to power, Ben Ali ordered a night curfew. But online videos continued to show clashes with the police on Friday and scenes of widespread protests. Mega-stores with French-sounding names were shut down.

Many streets were deserted and shopping areas visibly empty. Only police forces in riot gear and angry demonstrators, most of them young people, were to be seen.

On Friday afternoon, Ben Ali dissolved the cabinet and parliament, and ordered early elections within six months. A couple of hours later, he imposed emergency law in the country. But another two hours later, Arab TV stations reported he had fled the country.

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Sudan Would Boost Islamic Law After Split: Bashir

Sunday December 19, 2010 by Khaled Abdel Aziz

KHARTOUM (Reuters) - Sudan will adopt an Islamic constitution if the south splits away in a referendum next month, President Omar Hassan al-Bashir said on Sunday.

The vote on independence for south Sudan is scheduled to start in three weeks and was promised in a 2005 peace deal that ended a civil war between the mainly Muslim north and the south, where most follow traditional beliefs and Christianity.

"If south Sudan secedes, we will change the constitution and at that time there will be no time to speak of diversity of culture and ethnicity," the president told supporters at a rally in the eastern city of Gedaref.

"Sharia (Islamic law) and Islam will be the main source for the constitution, Islam the official religion and Arabic the official language," he said.

An official from south Sudan's main party criticised Bashir's stance, saying it would encourage discrimination against minorities in the north and deepen the country's international isolation.

The 2005 peace deal ending the civil war set up an interim constitution which limited sharia to the north and recognised "the cultural and social diversity of the Sudanese people".

Analysts expect most southerners to choose independence in the poll, due to start on Jan. 9 and last for a week.

"POLICE STATE"

Yasir Arman, from the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM), said Bashir's statements would encourage repression in the north. "This type of discourse is preparing the ground for a police state. The north, whether alone or with the south, is an extremely diverse place."

Arman said it was the north's hardline stance that had pushed southerners towards separation. "If it (the north) continues like this it will encourage other areas like Darfur, the Nuba mountains and eastern Sudan to walk out as well," he added, referring to areas on the peripheries of northern Sudan.

"It will also result in Sudan having worse relations with the outside world," Arman said.

Southern leaders have said they are worried about how hundreds of thousands of southerners living in the north might be treated after a split.

Arman, Bashir's main challenger in April presidential elections, is from the northern sector of the SPLM. He said his group would form a separate opposition party inside the north if the south seceded.

Bashir is wanted by the International Criminal Court to face charges of atrocities in Dafur, but he refuses to recognise the court, dismissing it as part of a Western plot against Sudan.

Bashir also defended police shown lashing a woman in footage that appeared on the video-sharing website YouTube. "If she is lashed according to sharia law there is no investigation. Why are some people ashamed? This is sharia," he said.

Bashir's speech coincided with Independence celebrations in the capital where hundreds of marching soldiers and police put on a show of strength.

Vice president Ali Osman Mohamed Taha said Sudan was ready to deal with insecurity during and after the referendum and the authorities would take action against anyone stockpiling goods to take advantage of recent price rises.

Floggings carried out under Islamic law are almost a daily punishment in northern Sudan for crimes including drinking alcohol and adultery.

(Additional reporting by Andrew Heavens; editing by Elizabeth Fullerton)

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When do you think the land of Mecca will finally liberate itsself? 41.gif

What about the rest of the Muslim World's future too?

Edited title - caps

- beebs

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With respect to Tunisia, see my post in the World Affairs thread.

As for North Sudan, most of the people are Islamic there.  If they want Sharia, so be it.  It is their country.

Islam is having growing pains.  They are about the same place the Catholic Church was in the 1400s.  Mind you, I think beheading is better than burning at the stake, but neither is acceptable.  The Sharia is out-dated, and the position of women in the Islamic states is reprehensible.  If Islamic states want to live in the fifteenth century, it is their country and we have no brief to interfere.  If we go there as visitors, we must comply with their law.  This has not changed in centuries: "When in Rome, do as the Romans do."

The western "democracies" have no business interfering in the internal affairs of other states.  Now that the oil is running out, the west needs to pull in its oily tentacles and start straightening out its own path.  We have been on the primrose path to hades since the end of the War to End All Wars, and now it is time for an introspection.

In the long run, our only hope is education.  Sharia-based countries are misusing about half of their people asset (the women), and they will eventually come to their senses.  Remember, it took us nearly 2000 years to wake up to this, so why should we criticize them?  One of the worst sins is trying to impose your system of mores on someone else.  Missionaries should be burned at the stake.

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  • Original Poster
  • Originally posted by: A Nonny Moose

    With respect to Tunisia, see my post in the World Affairs thread.

    quote>

    This post below you mean? Thank you for your early comment, sir! 2.gif

    Originally posted by: A Nonny Moose

    New topic: Social networks support a revolution. Story.

    Rommel and Monty looking on from Valhalla can only smirk. The students are yelling "democracy now!" but they have no idea, after more than 20 years of dictatorship, what they are asking for. Elections in six months? They'll be lucky to find real candidates in six months.

    More instability in Africa. Comments?

    quote>

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    These are scenes Western powers would have loved to see in Iran - thousands of young people braving live bullets and forcing an autocratic ruler out of the country.quote>

    The irony, it burns!

    "Western powers" weren't so pleased the last time it happened in Iran...

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    Missionaries should be burned at the stake.quote>

    I quite disagree with you here. Well, in a literal sense, at least. I think it's time to start with "contramissionairing". Send out people, not to spread the word of a god, but to spread secularism. Christianity is dying away in Western Europe, and it shakes and stumbles all over the East too. Or on the Internet, for that matter. We need people to speak up and ask the population in the theocracies if they want their life to be controlled by laws that may or may not have been given to mankind from some entiety that might or might not exist. Ask if it is logical to behead people with a different belief than you, just because your old book says so (they also have an old book which differs from yours, remember). Or at least spread humanitarianism (or whatever it's called). Forcing atheism upon people is as bad as preaching a religion. However, common sense and education should be mandatory to everyone.

    Christianity as we know it today, ceased being actrocious when the system itself became corrupt, and people spoke up to it. However, Islam is not organized the same way Christianity is, so there is no corrupt system to critizise, nothing to speak up to, except from on a local basis (as most muslim countries interpret the laws differently, and Sharia isn't practised the same way everywhere). Perhaps we should let them unite the muslim world after all, then watch the revolution bring it down a couple of years later?

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    Originally posted by: Cobraroll

    Perhaps we should let them unite the muslim world after all, then watch the revolution bring it down a couple of years later?quote>

    My italics.  Who is this them with whom you have reference?  Islam is completely dissociated and has no central authority exactly like Judaism.  Every member is supposed to have his own conversation with Allah.  The Koran is only a guide book as a set of instructions on how to get in touch.  Attending a mosque is really only a show of solidarity and a social function.

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    Originally posted by: Cobraroll

    Missionaries should be burned at the stake.quote>

    I quite disagree with you here. Well, in a literal sense, at least. I think it's time to start with "contramissionairing". Send out people, not to spread the word of a god, but to spread secularism.quote>

    No. Proselytization is still proselytization regardless of who's doing it. Religious people do not appreciate being preached at to give up their religion any more than non-religious people appreciate being preached at to try to find it. Attempting to convert people to whatever your belief system may be is not a way to make friends.

    More on the matter at hand: no leader can stay in power when he is out to protect the interests of someone other than his own people. Western-backed dictatorships (or any form of government, really) in the muslim world do not work, whether in Iran or Tunisia or anywhere else. And, naturally, when your people are unable to eke out a living, your head tends to end up on a pike. History has shown this repeatedly. Add another one to the list.

    As for Sudan.. after the whole Darfur thing, is anyone really surprised?

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    Originally posted by: A Nonny Moose

    Originally posted by: Cobraroll

    Perhaps we should let them unite the muslim world after all, then watch the revolution bring it down a couple of years later?quote>

    My italics.  Who is this them with whom you have reference?  Islam is completely dissociated and has no central authority exactly like Judaism.  Every member is supposed to have his own conversation with Allah.  The Koran is only a guide book as a set of instructions on how to get in touch.  Attending a mosque is really only a show of solidarity and a social function.

    quote>

    I guess Taliban or Al-Qaida (or are they the same guys), who fight and cause mayhem all over the Middle-East, could potentially put a large percent of the world's muslims under a single umbrella if the resistance stopped. Al-Shabab in Somalia could also be a contender. Then you have all the supporters they've got all over the world, though they are usually small cells with little influence. Of course, it's rather problematic let them do whatever they want. It's a suggestion with too many "what if"s to work.

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    the Taliban were born from the mujaheddin of Afghanistan, Al-Qaeda and Al-Shabab were cut from the same Somalian cloth around the time the country fell apart

    i think that if history is any indication we'll see more groups, some more right wing, some less, officially split from the main branches of Islam over the next few decades much as Calvinists, Lutherans Episcopalians and Baptists split from the Catholic Church, they already have the Catholic/Orthodox split of Sunni and Shiite, not sure which is which in this case, but the parallels between Christianity and Islam are, quite frankly, amazing, I'm not sure what they have now, but the Islamic world needs it's own version of the Vatican, if they don't have one already

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    Because Islam does not have a central authority figure appointed by the Prophet as Peter was by Christ (theoretically), nor an Acts of the Apostles (did Mohammad have any?), a Vatican-type structure won't happen.  The Sons of Ali (Shi'a) broke off almost immediately from the "main stream", and it has been Shi'a vs. Sunni ever since.  Shisms that result in civil wars are common in the beginnings of a religious movement.  An Imam has the same function in Islam as a Rabbi in Judaism.  He is the leader of the mosque and supposed to be its principal thinker.  When these guys go radical, the whole mosque is in danger.

    As far as I can tell from the outside, there are shisms in both movements, the Taliban (teachers) being one.  There are extreme Sunni sects, Al Quaeda started in one of them.  Let us not ball the two together, because it is not so.  The Taliban provided ground for Al Quaeda, but are not really members of it.  There is some gray intermixing here, and you can't tell the players without a program.

    Radical Islamists have taken a chapter from the Soviets and the Resistance movements of WW II and organized in cells.  For a guerilla movement this is very effective and very secure.  Cells are connected by single neurons which are often just a code word until the needed activation.  A cell system like this is a living organism and it reproduces, forming new cells known only to the "leader" of the old cell.  This kind of thing is very difficult to root out, and will not die even after the overall goal is achieved.  Some cells will disagree with the results and continue working against that result.  It is a terrible virus, as the proponents of the system will eventually learn when it turns on them.  There really is no control.

    Therefore, let us all stand aside.  We should prevent incursions by hostile "missionaries" from Islam, and live peacefully with those members who choose to do so on our soil.  We are people of the mosaic, and we are proud of it.  Melting pots and uniform state religions are not for us.

    In the long run, let us hope that Islamic countries will eventually return to the high enlightenment of the times of Sulieman the Magnificent (King Solomon, by the way).  We can't do much about it, because they currently outnumber us.

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    Islam makes sense as an obvious rallying point for a populist movement is a country that is Muslim.

    I think this is like mid 20th century Latin America where theocracy is analogous to leftism.

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    There is clearly a populist movement and up-surge in Islamic countries.  North Sudan seems to be firmly under control of a set of Islamic people determined to install the Sharia and a theocratic model similar to Iran's.  Their country, and good luck to them, just stay out of our face.

    As for Southern Soudan, it will be a long, uphill struggle to avoid doing the same thing with the Coptic Church.  However, since there is external influence there (Vatican), they may do a pretty good job.  Good luck to them, too.

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    We'll have to give a few months until we see whether People Power turns in Muslim "Democracy," and sadly, past history is not in democracy's favor.

    Iran is a worrying example...the despotic Shah fled amidst mass public uprisings, and for a time, it seemed a potential moderate Iranian government responsive to its people was in the making to lead what was then among the most developed, populous, and advancing states in the region. Then the Shah was admitted to the U.S. for surgery and recuperation, leading to radical student protestors storming the U.S. Embassy and beginning the flashpoint hostage crisis, which in turn gave Ayatollah Khomenei a ripe political opportunity with a now radicalized and mobilized nationalist movement with which to outflank and purge the still moderate and relatively pro-Western government and replace it with an Islamic theocracy undergirded by a militant dictatorship and personality cult. Pariah Iran is still paralyzed with the backlash and fallout and remains a dangerous basketcase, which is a pity, because the long and ancient geopolitical history before the revolution suggests Iran should be the most advanced, progressive, and leading state of the region. Gosh, why did we ever allow the CIA to remove Mossadeq and secretly end democracy in Iran all those years ago!

    Given the opportunistic groups lurking out there today, we should watch events in Tunisia very carefully.

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    Tunisia has now gotten itself a power vacuum.  The street protesters have not put up a candidate for leader.  You can be sure that radical Islam will soon do so.  They talk of elections, but no one there knows how to hold one except at gun point.  I'm sorry, but I see it all going sour, something like 1956 Hungary, but without the tanks.  They have no one as good as Imre Nagy to help them.

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  • Original Poster
  • egypt0.jpg

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    After Tunisia: Why Egypt Isn't Ready to Have Its Own Revolution

    By Abigail Hauslohner / Cairo Thursday, Jan. 20, 2011

    Many Arabs across the Middle East are looking to events in Tunisia for inspiration. It is the first of the region's dictatorships to fall at the hands of its own people since 1979 — with no Islamist revolution needed; no U.S. invasion; no inspiring leader, just the mass uprising of a well-educated and disenchanted populace. "A lot of people have been talking about Tunisia," says one 57-year-old Cairo resident who only gave his name as Mohamed. "They had a bad president and the people were sick of him, so they overthrew him. Here, the people are sick too — more so than they were in Tunisia. Eventually here, they're going to do it too."

    More than a few people in Egypt, the Arab world's most populous country, agree with Mohamed. And some even believe the time is now. The Egyptian media has reported half a dozen cases of successful or attempted self-immolation over the past two weeks, all part of a copycat wave that has swept the politically stagnant streets of North Africa since 26-year-old Mohammad Bouazizi, an unemployed computer engineer, set himself on fire and became a martyr for the Tunisian cause.

    But in Egypt, it doesn't go much deeper than that. "In Egypt, the prices have been rising for so long that we've grown thick skin," says a shop owner who also identified himself only as Mohamed. "People here are already unemployed, and nothing has happened. Two guys burned themselves because they thought it would have the same impact here as it did in Tunisia. But nothing surprising has happened in Egypt."

    A greater percentage of Egypt's population lives below the poverty line, compared to Tunisia, making Egyptians arguably more desperate. Egyptians have also suffered under a single despot for nearly three decades, compared to Tunisia's two. The citizens of Egypt regularly complain of a neglectful regime that knows more about torture than it does about public service, and they're furious with a regime that seems to swallow any domestic profits before they can reach the lower classes. And yet no one predicts a revolutionary reset anytime soon. Indeed, there seems to be a kind of political resignation about the efficacy of protests. "The people don't take to the streets because they think that by demonstrating in the streets, nothing will happen, nothing will change," explains Shadi Taha, a member of the opposition Tomorrow party.

    Two factors make Egypt different from Tunisia. First, Tunisia's government spent generously on education, helping to establish the country's middle class above many of its regional counterparts. The frustration of an educated but unemployed population was key to Tunisia's revolt. (It was also key to the vast post-election crisis that overwhelmed Iran's streets two years ago.) Egypt has allowed spending on education to decay over the decades — some analysts attributing that to a conscious calculation on Mubarak's part.

    In Egypt, teacher salaries are so low that it's common for students to pay for private tutorials (often from the same teachers), and social critics have lamented that poor education has deprived generations of the skills needed to think critically — and to dissent. "The 80 million people have no power, no knowledge, and they are not organized," one of Egypt's most outspoken social critics, feminist writer Nawal el-Saadawi, remarked last year. "Change the education. Work on the mind of the people. There is no mind here."

    The other factor is the Army. In Tunisia, at a critical turning point, the Army took the side of the protesters in the street: it refused to fire on demonstrators. In Egypt, however, the military stands with Mubarak. The Interior Ministry, which runs the police, stands with Mubarak. Mubarak knows better than to falter on security, Egyptians say. "The government here is stronger than it was in Tunisia — that's why people are scared," says one Cairene citizen. "The jails are for people who protest these days. No one demands their rights anymore."

    Still, some argue that Egyptians have reason to feel emboldened. Unlike Tunisia, Egypt has a large, popular opposition group with a grassroots following: the Muslim Brotherhood. The Islamists failed to capture a single seat in November's rigged parliamentary elections. But they're still present, and they're still angry. Conspicuously, however, they're not pushing their followers into the streets in the immediate wake of the Tunisian revolution. Instead they have called for a national day of protests on Jan. 25, which will be nearly two weeks after the fall of President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali of Tunisia. It is, Egyptian observers say, a typically lackluster response to what appeared to be a golden opportunity.

    Yet even that gesture is apparently not actually in response to Tunisia. "The date was set before what happened in Tunisia. The date was set from the beginning of January," says Shadi Taha of the Tomorrow party, without answering the question of why opposition leaders hadn't then moved the date up to take advantage of Tunisian momentum. He goes on, "No matter how strong the opposition is, if the people are not ready to go out and protest, not ready to go out and overthrow the government, there will be no revolution." It is as if the party is abdicating its role in organizing dissent. "If there will be a revolution in this country, it will not be led by the opposition; it will be lead by the people."

    If so, revolution is going to take a while. Tunisian inspired protests remain small; and skepticism still reigns. "The people who burned themselves didn't change anything," says Mahmoud Gamal, a sandwich maker in downtown Cairo, who has witnessed countless small-scale protests down the street in front of parliament. "The police here have more control than they did in Tunisia. And the government here is stricter than they are there. In Tunisia, there was some form of cooperation between the Army and the people. But here, no one is standing with us — not the police, not the military. If you have someone to cooperate with you, then you can succeed." Then he returns to his work, staring at a pile of eggplants that need to be diced.

    quote>

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    i wish luck to the eypgtian dissenters, and i agree that the government has a significantly stronger iron fist. but if the message can make it to the uneducated masses, there will come a point where the government have to impose NK like law, or they concede. and perhaps the UN can apply some pressure.

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    I don't expect much to happen in Egypt.  While rulers rule with the consent of the governed, if the governed are a flock of illiterate sheep, there can be no popular uprising because they don't know enough to do it. 

    Egypt seems to be a strange mix because it has such a long known history.  From the pharonic dynasties, to the Greeks (Alexander) to Cleopatra, the last pharoh, to the Roman provincialate, to the Islamic take over in Moorish and modern times, all is known.  Of all countries in the middle east, Egypt is pretty much the one that is known world wide for its long history.

    One wonders whether the "pure Egyptian stock" there is strong enough to put up an Egypt for the Egyptians movement.  A true right-wing nationalist movement might be a good start to get things going.  I feel that the Egyptians, having been a conquered people for around thee millennia, are too beaten down to do anything.

    And, because of Suez, there are vast international interests that will intervene if anything untoward were to appear.  If anything threatens this trade link, expect international trade to goad their governments into drastic actions.  Mubarak must walk on razor blades.

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  • Original Poster
  • Originally posted by: mightygoose

    And perhaps the UN can apply some pressure.

    quote>

    The stance taken by "the Land of the Free": 41.gif

    US Sees Egypt's Gov't as Stable despite Protests

    By BRADLEY KLAPPER, Associated Press Bradley Klapper, Associated Press – Tue Jan 25, 6:11 pm ET

    WASHINGTON – The United States expressed confidence in Egypt's government on Tuesday and urged calm amid the largest public protests in years.

    It was an awkward endorsement of an authoritarian regime that is a key Arab ally for Washington.

    Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said the government of President Hosni Mubarak is stable and trying to respond to the needs of protesters. Egyptians gathered in thousands in Cairo to protest Mubarak and his three-decade grip on power. Some hurled rocks and clashed with riot police.

    Clinton said Egyptians have the right to protest, but urged demonstrators and the government to avoid violence.

    "We support the fundamental right of expression and assembly for all people and we urge that all parties exercise restraint and refrain from violence," Clinton said at a news conference in Washington.

    The Cairo demonstration was inspired by the ouster of the longtime leader in nearby Tunisia.

    In both cases the Obama administration was caught in a difficult spot, defending the democratic right of protest for citizens too often silenced in much of the Arab world without openly subverting a long-standing Mideast partner.

    The United States is Egypt's largest foreign patron, with more than $1.5 billion in aid last year, a legacy of Egypt's break with Arab resistance to Israel. Egypt was the first Arab nation to recognize Israel more than three decades ago.

    Although the United States has complained publicly about Mubarak's political chokehold and human rights abuses, collapse of his government could jeopardize U.S. goals in the Middle East from defense of Israel to containment of militant Islamic political movements.

    "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," Clinton said.

    Protests over corruption, poverty, police abuse and other problems have spread through the Arab world, with Tunisia's example inspiring similar, smaller movements in Algeria, Jordan and Yemen.

    Clinton spoke following a meeting with Spanish Foreign Minister Trinidad Jimenez. She said she was encouraged by the prospects of "inclusive elections that will be held soon as practicable" in Tunisia, where unrest forced President Zine El Abedine Ben Ali to flee on Jan. 14.

    Hundreds of protesters demonstrated in Tunisia on Tuesday to demand the ouster of remaining members of Ben Ali's regime, and it is unclear how far-reaching political change will be.

    A day earlier authorities fired tear gas on protesters in the same area, and some demonstrators shattered the windows of police cars.

    "There's a long way to go," Clinton cautioned. "There's no experience, there's no institutional . memory about how to do this."

    She said she spoke to Tunisia's foreign minister and interim prime minister in recent days, and that the U.S., the European Union and the United Nations were offering the country support.

    The goal, Clinton said, is a "democratic, vibrant outcome" for Tunisia.

    Speaking at the Wilson Center in Washington, Alan Goulty, Britain's ambassador to Tunisia from 2004 to 2008, said the uprising in the north African country was largely unanticipated.

    Unemployment, for instance, was about 5 percent, far below other countries in the area.

    ___

    AP Diplomatic Writer Barry Schweid contributed to this report.

    quote>

    How inevitable is radical Islam's victory in Egypt's democracy? 45.gif

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    well, the Suez canal can't actually let the biggest container ships through neither can the panama so not as big a drop as you'd expect (still important places though)

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    How inevitable is radical Islam's victory in Egypt's democracy?quote>

    Too inevitable for comfort, which is the real quandry.  While we all might despise authoritarian regimes and have no particular love for President Hosni Mubarak, that doesn't mean a sudden popular overthrow will bring free democracy, human rights, and sweet roses of peace and love from Egyptian hippies.  The biggest opposition group is not the liberal Greens, but the Muslim Brotherhood, who will see a golden opportunity for their long dream to establish of an even more reactionary Islamist regime in the Arab world's most populous and most dynamic state.

    Remember, Egypt is the birthplace and conditioning home not only of Ayman al-Zawahiri, reputed as the real mastermind behind Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda network, but also Omar Abdel-Rahman, the blind cleric behind the first World Trade Center bombings, and also Mohamed Atta, the lead planner and operative of the 9/11 terror attacks.  President Anwar El Sadat was spectacularly assassinated by fundamentalist radicals specifically for his signing the regionally unpopular Camp David peace treaty between Egypt and Israel, and it was from this grandstand massacre that an injured Mubarak succeeded to the presidency.  Be sure, the radicals have been in place there for a long while.

    The wonder becomes whether the secular authoritian regime indirectly breeds more radicalism than it suppresses.  I would suspect it breeds more, but I also know those radicals will not magically disappear along with Mubarak, and an Egypt weakened by political power vacuums, shaky provisional governments, or open civil turmoil makes for an even bigger breeding ground.

    Believe it or not, I do still encourage the popular democratic uprisings, but with the caveat that they better have a strong idea and plan for what they want and can realistically achieve afterwards.  Neither Egypt nor the world needs another Iranian-style hijacked revolution, and the radicals no doubt are in their own full planning mode already.

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    Originally posted by: Athanasius

    well, the Suez canal can't actually let the biggest container ships through neither can the panama so not as big a drop as you'd expect (still important places though)

    quote>

    Both Suez and Panama have widening/deepening projects underway.

    Odainsaker makes some very good points.  One of the things that these popular uprisings do not usually have is a leader who is capable of governing.  They blat around like a herd of scalded goats, but have no plan if they get what they want.  Tunisia is a good example.  No popular leader has risen from the mob, so you can be sure one of the radical movements will eventually pop one up.

    The basic difference between Egypt and Tunisia is that the Egyptian mob is barefoot and ignorant compared to the Tunisians.  Neither mob knows what to do when they win.  There are many examples in history of populist mobs who didn't want their government and often got what they deserved. 

    The French Revolution comes to mind, with the resulting Directory, Robespierre, Danton, etc. 

    The Russian revolution got derailed by the Bolsheviks, and the leading Mensheviks got the axe.  Literally in the case of Kerensky who was killed in Mexican exile by an assassin who planted an ice axe in this brain.

    Nature and the society of men abhor a vacuum.  Believe me, someone will arise.  Look what happened to the Stuarts in England.  In this case a religious revolt gave the country to the Puritans, who couldn't hack it, and they invited back Charles II, who was as about as bad as Bonnie Prince Charlie would have been for the Scots.  Only the accession of William and Mary saved England from chaos.

    So, fasten your seat belts, folks.  It is going to be a rough ride in Egypt unless the military supports Mubarak.

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    Egypt can keep its power while increasing liberty. Hopefully radical Islam will not take control of Egypt. I would see poverty increasing and foreign aid being cut off.

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  • Original Poster
  • egypt5h.jpg

    PEOPLE'S POWER OUTNUMBERS

    MUBARAK'S FORCES!!!

    Egypt's Riots Make Israel Uneasy

    By HDS Greenway - GlobalPost, Published: January 28, 2011 21:44 ET in Worldview

    “Sound the loud timbrel o’re Egypt’s dark sea,

    Jehovah has triumph’d — his people are free.”

    - Thomas Moore

    BOSTON — As the waves of protest sweep over the Arab nation, none watch from the sidelines with more concern than the Israelis. Except, perhaps, for its close relationship with the United States, no country is more important to Israel than Egypt.

    From that magical moment when Egypt’s president, Anwar Sadat, brought peace with him to Jerusalem in the summer of 1977, Israel has been free from the fear of annihilation that had hung over the Jewish state since its birth. For without Egypt, the largest of all Israel’s foes, the possibility that Arab armies could push the Israelites into the sea was removed in one dramatic gesture.

    Without Egypt, there was no longer an Arab military option against Israel. And the joy that those of us who were lucky enough to be in Jerusalem when Sadat came to town has never since been equaled in that city. It was as if the Red Sea had metaphorically parted to bring them peace from Egypt instead of a vengeful pharaoh.

    And the joy in the streets of Cairo was no less than when Israel’s Menachem Begin made his reciprocal visit to Egypt. Egyptian cab drivers refused to take fares from visiting Israelis, some of whom had not been there since the days of the British Palestine Mandate.

    Israelis haven’t forgotten how touch and go it was in 1973 when Sadat made a surprise attack across the Suez canal and caught the Israelis napping. Israelis had all the intelligence they needed, but in the end they just couldn’t believe that the Egyptians had it in them to make a successful crossing, so easily had they been defeated in 1967. There was a moment when it looked as if all might be lost, and there were thoughts in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem about bringing out nuclear weapons. But as Henry Kissinger later pointed out, Sadat had surprised everybody by making war to make peace. He needed to restore Egyptian pride, that had been so destroyed by Israeli arms, in order to bring his people around to making peace.

    Israel doesn’t have the luxury of the United States, trying to measure its reaction to unfolding events by balancing support for human rights and democracy against loyalty to an old and important ally. For Israel peace with a stable and reliable Egypt is a vital necessity, and Hosni Mubarak has withstood the test of time. But unlike the United States, Israel is not called upon to make a stand vis-a-vis Murbarak versus the demonstrators. Israel knows that its silence is what the situation requires, that to voice support for one side or the other would be counterproductive.

    Soon after Sadat was assassinated, Hosni Mubarak made it clear that the peace with Israel would continue. And that peace survived the disappointment of Israel’s failure to remove the occupation from Palestinian lands that Egypt thought had been part of the bargain. The peace survived Israel’s invasions of Lebanon, which Israel might have been hesitant to make were Egypt still armed against them.

    It may have been a cold peace all these years, Israelis often visit Egypt but seldom do Egyptians visit Israel. Nonetheless, vital cooperation between the two countries has held fast — so far.

    There is relief in Jerusalem that the protest in Egypt has not sprung from the Islamists. The Muslim Brotherhood has been a Johnny-come-lately to the protests. Mubarak’s regime fought a bitter Islamic insurgency for years in Egypt and won.

    But revolutions — if indeed the anti-Mubarak demonstrations lead to a revolution — have a way of “devouring their young,” as the 18th century German revolutionary, Georg Buchner, said. The idealism of the French Revolution turned into the terror of Robspierre, and then the aggressive wars of Napoleon Bonaparte. In the Russian revolution the early attempts at democracy were soon squashed by the tyrannies of Lenin and Stalin.

    Closer to home, Israel enjoyed good relations with the Shah’s Iran. I used to be able to fly nonstop from Tel Aviv to Tehran up until 1979. In Tehran, at first, it looked as if liberals and reformers might be able to rule, but they were soon overwhelmed by the forces of militant Islam. Today’s Iran is hostile to Israel and feeds Israel’s enemies such as Hezbollah.

    And so Israel watches and waits. The best case possibility for Israel, not unlike the United States, would be for the Mubarak regime to survive by bending with the flood, making political reforms, allowing the people’s voice to be heard. But the reality is that, like the Shah of Iran, it is probably too late, and not in the character of the Egyptian regime to do so.

    Israel’s worst fears, like our own, would be to see an Islamist regime take over from the idealistic youths on the streets who may not have the organizational skills to run the country even if they do succeed in unseating Mubarak. Israel will heave a sigh of relief if Mubarak prevails.

    The shadow of the Iranian revolution is ever present in Israel, and with Hezbollah ascendant in Lebanon, and uncertainty o’re Egypt’s dark sea, the borders of Israel that looked so secure 30 years ago now seem ever more imperiled.

    quote>

    Saudi King Slams Egypt Protesters

    By the CNN Wire Staff, January 29, 2011 -- Updated 1312 GMT (2112 HKT)

    (CNN) -- Saudi Arabia slammed protesters in Egypt as "infiltrators" who seek to destabilize their country Saturday while an Iranian official called on Egypt to "abide by the rightful demands of the nation" and avoid violent reactions.

    Saudi King Abdullah Ibn Abdulaziz Al Saud called Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and "was reassured" about the situation in Egypt, the state-run Saudi Press Agency reported.

    "During the call, the king said, 'Egypt is a country of Arabism and Islam. No Arab and Muslim human being can bear that some infiltrators, in the name of freedom of expression, have infiltrated into the brotherly people of Egypt, to destabilize its security and stability and they have been exploited to spew out their hatred in destruction, intimidation, burning, looting and inciting a malicious sedition,'" the news agency reported.

    Saudi Arabia "strongly condemns" the protest, it said.

    Mubarak assured the Saudi king "that the situation is stable" and that the protests "are merely attempts of groups who do not want stability and security for the people of Egypt, but rather they seek to achieve strange and suspicious objectives," the report said.

    Mubarak added that Egypt will "deter anyone who tries to exploit the freedom of (the) Egyptian people and will not allow anyone to lure those groups or use them to achieve suspicious and strange agendas," the news agency said.

    In Iran, meanwhile, Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said Egyptian authorities should respect the demonstrators.

    "Iran expects Egyptian officials to listen to the voice of their Muslim people, respond to their rightful demands and refrain from exerting violence by security forces and police against an Islamic wave of awareness that has spread through the country in form of a popular movement,"the state-run Press TV quoted Mehmanparast as saying.

    quote>

    Biden: Mubarak Should Not Step Down

    Published January 28, 2011 | FoxNews.com

    Vice President Biden, issuing the Obama administration's most definitive statement to date on the turmoil in Egypt, said President Hosni Mubarak should not step down and downplayed the protests spreading across the Mideast as generally unconnected.

    He described the unrest as an expression of "middle-class folks" looking for "a little more access and a little more opportunity."

    Though the administration says it's not taking sides, Biden said in an interview aired Thursday that Mubarak has been a U.S. "ally" on "a number of things," praising him for being "very responsible" in normalizing Egypt's relationship with Israel and aiding in Middle East peace talks.

    "I would not refer to him as a dictator," Biden said on PBS' NewsHour.

    Protesters challenging Mubarak's 30-year rule clashed on the streets in Cairo with police on Friday. Suggesting Mubarak's regime would weather the storm, Biden nudged the longtime Egyptian president to respond to the protests, peacefully, by being "more responsive to some of the needs of the people out there."

    "I hope Mubarak ... is going to respond to some of the legitimate concerns that are being raised," he said.

    The protests in Egypt followed an uprising in Tunisia and coincide with similar unrest in Yemen and Jordan, as well as the formation of a new and contested government in Lebanon.

    Asked whether the wave of protests resembles in any way the public revolts that surged across Eastern Europe before the collapse of the Soviet Union, Biden said: "I wouldn't compare the two."

    He went on to downplay the connection among the protests across the Middle East.

    "A lot of these nations are very dissimilar. They're similar in the sense that they're Arab nations, dissimilar in the circumstance," he said. "I don't see any direct relationship, other than there seems -- it might be argued that what is happening in one country sparks whatever concern there is in another country. It may not be the same concern. It may not be even similar, but the idea of speaking out in societies where, in the recent past, there hadn't been much of that occurring. ... I could be proven wrong. But I think it's a stretch to compare it to Eastern Europe."

    He urged restraint on both sides in Egypt.

    "We're encouraging the protesters to, as they assemble, do it peacefully. And we're encouraging the government to act responsibly and to try to engage in a discussion as to what the legitimate claims being made are, if they are, and try to work them out," he said.

    President Obama earlier addressed the Egyptian unrest for the first time in an interview broadcast on YouTube. Like Biden, he said Egypt has "been an ally of ours on a lot of critical issues."

    "President Mubarak has been very helpful on a range of tough issues in the Middle East. But I've always said to him that making sure that they're moving forward on reform -- political reform, economic reform -- is absolutely critical to the long-term well-being of Egypt," he said. "And you can see these pent-up frustrations that are being displayed on the streets. My main hope right now is that violence is not the answer in solving these problems in Egypt, so the government has to be careful about not resorting to violence, and the people on the streets have to be careful about not resorting to violence."

    quote>

    China Blocks 'Egypt' from Twitter

    Saturday, January 29, 2011 » 06:53pm

    China has blocked the word 'Egypt' from the country's wildly popular Twitter-like service, while coverage of the political turmoil has been tightly restricted in state media.

    China's ruling Communist Party is sensitive to any potential source of social unrest.

    A search for 'Egypt' on the Sina microblogging service brings up a message saying, 'According to relevant laws, regulations and policies, the search results are not shown'. The service has more than 50 million users.

    News on the Egypt protests has been limited to a few paragraphs and photos buried inside major news websites, but China Central Television had a report on its midday broadcast.

    China's Foreign Ministry did not respond to a request for comment Saturday on the events in Egypt.

    quote>

    Let it be another proof that mankind, regardless of religion and nationality, do share some common interests! 3.gif

    Thank you for your good comments, mates! 4.gif

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    the vice president's powers are delegated by the president, and seeing as he was already a close confidant of Mubarak, this is a show move only, the army are still not showing their hand. the protests still continue, and Fox news are still telling everybody these are anti american protests...

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    For something a little more balanced than Fox News, try here.  The CBC is Canada's national news voice and is not as biased as some sources.  I think the coverage is better because the people on the ground there actually live there.

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    There was a protest at West Lake Plaza so I had my dad pick me up at the Westin. I dislike shouts of nonsense.

    By the way, the first sentence is not recognized as between 1 and 255 characters so I clicked the reply button to bring up the special window that is not recognized as a text box.

    EDIT:  I just saw a special on Egypt. It looked like the Egyptian government is going to great lenghts to stop the violence.

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    Last night's newscast included protesters making nice with the soldiers posted along some road.  If the army has gone over to the "revolution" Mubarak had better grab his ankles.

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