The Tunisia effect: where next?

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Mark.
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Feb 23 2011 09:58

Let’s turn Syntagma into Tahrir Square

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Wednesday 23d of February, day of general strike and demonstration in the centre of Athens. As the time passes it becomes increasingly obvious that the general strikes called by the [bureaucratic trade unions] GSEE and ADEDY are not just “empty shots” but a field for the release of the increasing social discontent and rage: from the costless protests of parts of the demonstration to the dynamic practices of those parts which attempt to approach parliament, clash with the riot police or hurdle marble and molotovs against the forces of repression. This is confirmed by the fact that the question of an Indefinite General Strike has never come up; it is confirmed by the “weird” dates chose for general strikes, it is confirmed by the huge time lapses between one strike and the following one. After each demonstration, even when there are many people, a strong pulse to it and the expression of confrontational attitudes, we are always left with a question hanging: “and now what?”

At the same time however this choice of the side of authority is a game with fire. Whether the situation remains at an “acceptable” level, spatially and chronologically limited, or whether it will escape this “fencing off” to take on the unpredictable character of a blaze, is always unknown and uncertain.

This Wednesday we could try something slightly different, utilising the experiences from the revolts in the Arab world, such as in Egypt. We can show tolerance and insistence that would be much greater than the government bodies could ever imagine. We can flood, along with thousands of other demonstrators, Syntagma square. We can encircle parliament and wait. To hold on and not leave. We can turn Syntagma into Tahrir Square. And from that point on, we’ll see what happens…

Not only in Africa or the Middle East, revolt must spread across the world.


See you on Wednesday at 11am, at the [Archeological] Museum.

“See you at the airport?” As Gaddafi counts his last hours in power, could Papandreou be next?

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Gaddafi seems to be next in the domino of dictators toppled across the Mediterranean. We should not forget: Mubarak was a member of the “Socialist International” – of which George Papandreou is the president.  Gaddafi did good business with the Greek regime. And the anger of the people across the Mediterranean basin keeps growing… Only a few hundred kilometres from Crete, the revolted of Benghazi have shown the way. On Wednesday, the first General Strike of 2011 might be our golden opportunity to make something bigger than a ritualistic demonstration can ever be.

Everyone to the streets, where anything is possible!

Live updates

baboon
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Feb 23 2011 12:57

Reuters reports a demonstration of 100,000 workers through Delhi protesting against rising prices and corruption. While the demonstration is linked to the trade unions and established political parties, I think that this development belongs in a "where next?" thread.

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Entdinglichung
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Feb 23 2011 16:22

construction workers strike in Mekka/Saudi Arabia: http://translate.google.de/translate?u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.rf-news.de%2F2011%2Fkw08%2F22.02.11-in-mekka-streiken-600-bauarbeiter-seit-2-tagen&sl=de&tl=en&hl=de&ie=UTF-8 (dodgy machine translation of a dodgy German maoist page)

rooieravotr
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Feb 23 2011 17:09

http://www.memrieconomicblog.org/bin/content.cgi?news=4282

and

http://arabnews.com/saudiarabia/article268888.ece
EDIT: and http://arabnews.com/saudiarabia/article277886.ece, I think the basis for the MEMRI story (I checked MEMRI site and I find it a very dodgy site)

aloeveraone
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Feb 23 2011 19:29

EA Liveblog:

Quote:
0933 GMT: Reuters reports that Sulaimaniya in Iraqi Kurdistan has turned into "a militarized city" amidst anti-government protests.

About 3000 people demonstrated on the streets on Tuesday and thousands of students rallied at Sulaimaniya University against corruption and the local government.

Three people have died so far and more than 100 have been wounded in clashes between protesters and heavily armed militia forces linked to the two Kurdish ruling parties.

0930 GMT: Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah, who has been abroad for medical treatment, has announced a series of economic reforms including housing and other benefits.

The social security budget will be increased by 1 billion riyals and housing fund by 40 billion riyals, with a 15% cost of living allowancefor government employees made permanent.

aloeveraone
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Feb 23 2011 22:59

From SignalFire

Quote:
Protest plan in Angola draws warning from ruling party
Posted on February 23, 2011 by mat

Is Dos Santos just another domino?
LUANDA — An anonymous call for a mass protest in Angola on March 6 has drawn a warning from the ruling MPLA party, which threatened to take “serious measures” against anyone seeking power in the streets.

Rumours have been circulating on the Internet for several days of a protest against President Jose Eduardo dos Santos who has been in power since 1979.

According to a Facebook page called “The Angolan People’s Revolution”, the protest will take place at midnight on March 6 (2300 GMT) at Independence Square in the capital city, Luanda, and throughout the country.

Under the pseudonym Agostinho Jonas Roberto dos Santos — the first names of the leaders of Angola’s three independence movements and the surname of the current president — the organiser called on Angolans to “march with posters demanding the departure of Ze Du (Dos Santos’ nickname), his ministers and his corrupt friends.”

The call has been picked up by several Internet sites, but no opposition or civil society leaders have publicly endorsed the plan, and the Facebook page currently has just 100 members.

A spokesman for the MPLA, the party that has ruled Angola since independence in 1975, declined to comment on the planned protest, saying there was “nothing formal” about it.

“There are a lot of lies and a lot of truths on the Internet. We only comment on serious matters,” MPLA spokesman Rui Falcao Pinto de Andrade told AFP in a telephone interview Tuesday.

But the party’s secretary general on Sunday issued a call on state radio “not to confuse what is happening in north Africa with the reality of Angola”.

“In these circumstances (a protest), serious measures can be taken, because power cannot be in the streets,” said Juliao Mateus Paulo Dino Matross.

and

Quote:
Cameroon fears mount closer to protest day
Posted on February 23, 2011 by mat
Will Cameroonians answer opposition’s call to protest against President Paul Biya’s regime? The country is anxiously waiting for the people’s reaction despite intimidation attempts by government forces yesterday.

In the past 24 hours, police forces have been regularly patrolling the streets of the capital city, Yaoundé. Tension will mount on the evening of 23 February, a date chosen by some opposition leaders to equal the Tunisian protests that ousted President Ben Ali. Four opposition parties have chosen the same date to launch the ‘week of martyrdom’ in commemoration of the youth killed during food protests in February 2008.

The country is plunged in a climate of fear as anti-government flyers have been filling the streets of major cities in the past few weeks. They call for the end of Paul Biya’s 28-years rule. Two days ago officials in one of the capital’s public schools argue for hours to remove a graffiti saying “Let’s get rid of Biya” from their walls.

Calming the public
The graffiti, which made the headline of the daily newspaper Le jour, triggered comments among the public. “Cameroon will be like Tunisia”, said a man sitting in a bar in Yaoundé. “If people want to get rid of Paul Biya they shouldn’t vote for him in the next elections”, said another sitting next to him. “Who is going to vote since people are not registering? Elections are rigged” the newspaper vendor added.

Terror
Yesterday was marked by public appearances by government officials. The Communications Minister held a press conference to calm the population. Talking about the North-African protests, which seem to inspire Wednesday’s events, Issa Tchiroma insisted that “what is happening there, has already happened here”. He referring to the socio-political unrest that shook Cameroon in the early 1990’s.

Comment on facebook
Jacques Fame Ndongo, Minister of Higher Education and Communication Official for the ruling party, used the national radio to reassure people. “I am sure that on Wednesday everyone will go about their daily routine”, he said. He invited opposition leaders to challenge President Biya through the polls, saying that “democracy is not in the streets”.

The Governor of the Littoral province, home to the economic capital Douala, was also on the radio. During his speech during the one o’clock news flash, he stressed that necessary security steps were taken to ensure the normal flow of business. “Anarchy is not the solution”, he concluded.

Meanwhile, many like writer Partice Nganang, are calling for a popular uprising. Nganang wrote on Facebook: “It is the morning of our future because this February 23rd. We fight for the future of our country! [...] Let’s show him that we are citizens not slaves! Let’s all bring Biya down!”

Mark.
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Feb 25 2011 11:47

Iraq

EA liveblog

Quote:
0907 GMT: CNN's Mohammed Tawfeeq reports that, in Hawija, north of Baghdad, angry protesters attacked the city council's offices and set the building on fire.

0840 GMT: Al Jazeera is reporting two killed and 10 injured in the protests in Kirkuk in northern Iraq.

There is an unconfirmed claim that security forces have opened fire on protests in Mosul.

0830 GMT: Reports from Iraq now streaming in, including demonstrations of 1000 in Baghdad, amidst a heavy military presence, chanting, "[Prime Minister] Nouri al Maliki is a liar!", and 2000 people in rally in Basra. There are claims that the Governor of Basra has resigned and three protesters have killed in Kirkuk.

CNN

Quote:
Five people were killed after clashes erupted between demonstrators and security forces in at least two Iraqi cities Friday, police said.

Two people were killed and 20 people were wounded Friday morning when Iraqi security forces opened fire on demonstrators who tried to force their way into a provincial council building in central Mosul, police said.

In the town of Hawijah -- located about 60 kilometers west of Kirkuk, Iraq -- three protesters was killed and 12 others were wounded Friday morning when Iraqi security forces opened fire on protesters after hundreds threw stones at police and troops there, Iraqi Army Capt. Mohammed al-Angood said.

Demonstrators also amassed in other cities around the country Friday.

Helicopters hovered and security forces stepped up their presence in Baghdad as nearly 1,000 demonstrators gathered in the city's Tahrir Square to protest corruption and poor government services.

Iraqi security forces opened fire to disperse crowds after protesters tried to enter the provincial council building in Anbar province. Security forces also opened fire to disperse crowds in two small towns in Salaheddin province, wounding eight protesters, police said.

In Basra, about 550 kilometers south of Baghdad, the governor submitted his resignation just a few hours after hundreds gathered outside his office demanding that he step down. In Falluja, about 60 kilometers west of the country's capital, hundreds demonstrated outside a city council building...

Al Jazeera

Quote:
Hundreds of Iraqis have converged on Baghdad's Liberation Square as part of an anti-government rally named the Day of Rage, organised mainly through the social networking site Facebook.



About 600 protesters are said to have already gathered on Friday, which comes after weeks of scattered protests around the country calling for an end to corruption, shortages of jobs, food, power and water.



More people are expected to join the demonstrations after Friday prayers.

Unlike recent uprisings across the Arab world, Iraqi protesters have not called for the ouster of al-Maliki's
 Shia-led coalition government.

Instead they have demanded an end to corruption, replacement of local officials and an end to shortages of food, electricity, and other basic amenities in a country still trying to get back on its feet eight years after the US-led invasion.

Edit: 'Seven killed' in Iraqi 'day of rage' (AFP)

rooieravotr
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Feb 25 2011 14:48

EA liveblog

1440 GMT: EA has learned that in Saudi Arabia on Thursday, approximately 1000 people protested in Qatif demanding the release of all Shia prisoners. Qatif is on east coast of the peninsula and has the greatest concentration of Shia in the country.

rooieravotr
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Feb 25 2011 17:23

Socialist Worker (UK) on strikes in Saudi-Arabia

Mark.
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Feb 26 2011 12:35

Mauritania

Guardian

Quote:
8.09pm GMT: The waves of protests have even spread to the impoverished state of Mauritania, where hundreds of people took to the streets of the capital Nouakchott.

Reuters has a correspondent there:

Quote:
A handful in the crowd of 1,000-1,500 mostly young people who took part in the peaceful protest demanded the departure of President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, but they were in the minority and there was only a light security presence.

"The president has to respect his people. Aziz has always said he's the president of the poor; now the poor are in front of you asking for dialogue," said Mocktar Mohammed Mahmoud, a social worker who said he had got involved through Facebook.

According to Reuters, a number of protesters "said they had heard about the march through Facebook and other social networking sites".

The Moor Next Door: Some Mauritanian responses to the Libyan crisis

Edited to add

Global Voices: Pro-democracy protests break out in Nouakchott

Reuters

Mark.
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Feb 25 2011 22:52

BBC: African revolt?

Economist: The spectre of Sudan's popular uprisings

New Republic: Egypt's revolts could unravel Sudan

Mark.
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Feb 25 2011 23:28

Morocco, from CGT North Africa

Proceso abierto en Marruecos. A pesar de la represión, nueva convocatoria de movilizaciones el 26 y el 27 de febrero

machine translation

Mark.
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Feb 26 2011 12:47

Cameroon

Cameroon plans “Egypt-like” protests

Protest bubbles in Cameroon

Brutalization of protesters in Cameroon

Facebook page

Mark.
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Feb 26 2011 23:12

Reports on Twitter that protests are planned in Qatar on 16 March. It will be interesting to see what Al Jazeera makes of them.

Edit: Facebook page calls for Qatar emir's ouster

Mark.
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Feb 26 2011 15:40

Saudi Shi'ites stage another protest in oil province

Quote:
Dozens of Shi'ites gathered on Thursday night in Qatif, the main Shi'ite town in the Eastern province, to demand the release of fellow prisoners held for long periods without trial, resident Shi'ite sources said on Saturday.

There was no official confirmation of the demonstration which was also reported by Shi'ite website Rasid.com. It said protesters had carried pictures of prisoners whose release they demand.

Last week, Saudi authorities released three prisoners after Shi'ites in Qatif's neighbouring town Awwamiya staged a small protest, according to resident Shi'ites.

Analysts say top OPEC exporter Saudi Arabia would be worried if protests in Bahrain, where majority Shi'ites have been demonstrating against the Saudi-allied Sunni government, spread to its Shi'ite minority who mostly live in the Eastern province, the source of Saudi oil wealth...

Mark.
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Feb 26 2011 23:02

Saudi Arabia: First signs of uprising in world’s top oil exporter

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The popular uprisings across the Middle East are sparking similar unrest in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, with youth groups and workers in that country now calling for a “Day of Rage” demonstration in the capital, Riyadh, on March 11.

Already there have been protests last week in the city of Qatif and other towns in the country’s oil-rich Eastern Province demanding, among things, the release of political prisoners and a raft of social reforms. There are also reports of prominent Shia clerics being detained by the Saudi Sunni authorities, and security forces mobilizing in anticipation of further protests.

Sadek al-Ramadan, a human rights activist in Al Asha, Eastern Province, said: “People here are watching closely the protest movements across the region, which are tapping into long-held demands for reforms in Saudi Arabia.”

Al-Ramadan said that there are “deep frustrations” in Saudi society over high levels of poverty, unemployment, poor housing and perceived widespread corruption among the rulers of the world’s top oil exporter whose Gross Domestic Product last year is estimated at $622 billion.

An indication of the concern among the Saudi monarchy about growing unrest in the country was a closed meeting this week between King Abdullah and King Hamad al-Khalifa of Bahrain. The latter travelled to Riyadh to greet his 87-year-old Saudi counterpart on his return from the US and Morocco, where the ailing ruler had been receiving medical treatment. On the same day, Wednesday, the Saudi government unveiled a $37 billion social fund aimed at tackling youth unemployment and chronic shortages in affordable housing. A 15 per cent hike in salaries for government employees was also announced.

Al-Ramadan said that while the country’s minority Shia communities have “felt discrimination and repression most keenly over many decades, their grievances are also being shared increasingly by the majority of Sunni people”. Saudi Arabia’s population is estimated at around 19 million, with an expatriate workforce of some eight million.

“Unemployment is as high as 50 per cent among Saudi youth, whether Shia or Sunni, and there is a serious shortfall in housing and education facilities,” said Al-Ramadan. “People want more transparent governance, an end to corruption, and better distribution of wealth and welfare.”

He said that there was widespread recognition that reform in Saudi Arabia is badly needed. “The question is: how far will the call for reforms go?”

The Saudi authorities are undoubtedly mindful of the rapid escalation of anti-government protests in the neighbouring Persian Gulf island state of Bahrain, which is only an hour’s drive away from the Eastern Province across a 25-kilometre causeway. Noticeably, the last two weeks have seen a big fall in the numbers of Saudis who usually come to Bahrain for a weekend getaway, with reports that Saudi officials have been turning away would-be visitors trying to cross the causeway.

Before the recent rallies began in Bahrain on February 14, small groups of Bahraini protesters were calling for relatively mild constitutional reforms. But after a week of heavy-handed repression resulting in seven civilian deaths and hundreds of injured, the protest movement in Bahrain is now bringing up to 200,000 people on to the streets every night demanding the overthrow of the al-Khalifa monarchy.

In the coming weeks, the Saudi rulers face a difficult balancing act. Too little reform or too much repression by the authorities could set off the kind of full-blown uprisings sweeping the Middle East. And there is a lot at stake for the kingdom’s rulers. Up to 90 of the country’s oil production and processing is located in its restive Eastern Province, where the state-owned oil company Saudi Aramco has its headquarters in Dhahran. Some 80 per cent of Saudi Arabia’s national income is due to its oil and gas sectors.

Middle East analyst Ralph Schoenman said: The oil wealth of Saudi Arabia is concentrated almost entirely in the Shia-dominated Eastern Province - that sector of Arabia where popular disaffection is as profound and political alienation as explosive as it is in Bahrain.”

Schoenman added: “Beneath the appearance of calm, the Saudi royal family and King Abdullah have been consulting frantically with the other Gulf Sunni feudal sheikhdoms - from Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates to Qatar and Oman.”

Mark.
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Feb 26 2011 23:42

Oman

Quote:
A raft of minor reforms have been floated "in the public's interest" by the sultan of Oman, as protesters stopped traffic and broke street lights in the country's largest industrial city.

A crowd of 500 protesters, demanding democracy and jobs, gathered on Saturday outside a shopping mall in the city of Sohar, barricading vehicles and shoppers.

"It has been going on for hours now,' said resident Mohammed Sumri.
"They are at the Globe roundabout blocking traffic."

Though protests are rare in the country on the south-eastern tip of the Arabian peninsula, the police did not intervene, witnesses said...

Mark.
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Feb 26 2011 23:43

Protest fever reaches Vietnam

aloeveraone
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Feb 27 2011 17:05

EA Liveblog:

Quote:
1620 GMT: Amidst continuing demonstrations, Bahrain’s General Federation for Trade Unions has called for the Government to be dissolved, a day after Bahrain’s king swore in five new Cabinet ministers.

The unionists said that the new appointments do not reflect “the ambitions and popular voices” of Bahrainis, and they called for a transitional government that will meet the “demands of the people” and bring about “real political change”.

1125 GMT: Two people have been killed and at least five injured in the protests in Sohar in Oman (see 1040 GMT). Tear gas and rubber bullets were used on about 1000 demonstrators who were throwing stones.

A police station and Government were reportedly set on fire.

On Saturday Oman's ruler, Sultan Qaboos bin Said, changed six ministers in his cabinet in "the public's interest" and announced that social benefits for students would be boosted.

Mark.
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Feb 28 2011 10:43

Trouble in Oman (al-bab.com)

Quote:
With Gaddafi on the way out, the mantle of longest-surviving Arab autocrat will shortly pass to Sultan Qaboos, the British-backed ruler of Oman. Or perhaps not, since his regime is now coming under popular pressure too. 

Protests have been reported this weekend in two Omani cities at opposite ends of the country – Suhar in the north-east and Salalah in the south-west – as well as in the capital, Muscat.

The disturbances in Suhar (or Sohar) were met with plastic bullets and at least two people are reported to have been killed. Vehicles were set alight and there seems to have been an attempt to storm a police station...

http://angryarab.blogspot.com/

Quote:
A source who does not want to be identified sent me this:  
Quote:
Oman is on fire and al-Jazeera is quiet, and so is al-Arabiyya who only reported on points lost in Oman stock market. And of course Omani channels are not saying a word.  Reuters reported this yesterday:  but the number of protesters was higher, around 3000; the police used tear gas and the protesters reacted by attacking the police injuring a high ranking one and sending him to hospital. The road to al-`Ayn in the Emirates was temporarily closed.  And this is what is not being reported:

Yesterday there was a demonstration in Sour and a police center was burned. Today: more protests in Sohar and the police used live ammunition killing a 15 year old boy. Banks are closed in Sohar now. The Wali of Sohar came out with other tribal leaders to calm people down but they were attacked and ran away. A police station was put on fire. It seems tanks are deployed there now. There are protests in Salala too. I don’t know if you know this, but Omani police and mukhabarat get much of their training in Jordan. How did I get this info?... is sending me updates. info is reliable (my ... People are spreading he news there be telephoning each other). If you report this, please don’t mention my name and try not to provide all the details.

Omani protesters block road to port after 6 die

Mark.
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Feb 27 2011 23:48

Syria clamps down on dissent with beatings and arrests

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Tensions are mounting in the Syrian capital, Damascus, after the third peaceful demonstration in three weeks was violently dispersed on Wednesday. There are increasing reports of intimidation and blocking of communications by secret services in the wake of violent unrest in neighbouring Arab countries.

Fourteen people were arrested and several people beaten by uniformed and plainclothes police on Tuesday after about 200 staged a peaceful sit-in outside the Libyan embassy to show support for Libya's protesters…

Mark.
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Feb 28 2011 00:16

'Facebook Generation' continues Mauritania protests

Quote:
Young Mauritanians pushing for social and political reforms continued a sit-in Saturday in the capital a day after a street protest demanding change.

Police dispersed hundreds of protesters early Saturday, but after a few hours the crowd returned to spend the night at Blocat Square in Nouakchott's city center, despite one earlier arrest and the possibility of forces returning.

"The purpose of the youth demonstrations that we are leading (is) aimed at pushing the ruling regime to make urgent social, economic and political reforms for the sake of better life conditions," said protester Mohamed Ould Sidie. "We don't belong to any one of the political parties, and we don't want to.

"Mauritania is a very rich country, but unfortunately the huge riches of the country, including gold, oil, minerals, fish, are mismanaged by the corrupt, political regimes," said Sidi. "It's time to make a change."

Protesters carried banners calling for job creation, economic and political changes and an end to corruption.

The organizers declared the birth of what they called "Youth Coordination" and promised to continue the protests over the next days...

Thoughts re: Mauritania’s protests (The Moor Next Door)

Mark.
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Feb 28 2011 00:43

Opinion piece in the Jerusalem Post

Quote:
I would prefer that the occupation ended in orderly fashion, without chaos, with the settlers living near the Green Line feeling unthreatened and the others having plenty of time to relocate. Unfortunately, this is not happening; I’d hoped the Obama administration would pressure Israel out of the West Bank, but nobody’s pressuring it out of anything. The 43-year status quo becomes more entrenched each day.

Still, the bad blood has been rising – among the Palestinians, the Arabs, Europe, liberal America, and the bad blood in Israel has been rising in kind. Something’s going to blow, I figured, and my guess was that Israel would start one war too many, maybe against Iran, or Lebanon, or Gaza, and masses of Israelis as well as foreigners would die, and when the smoke cleared it would be recalled that we started it, and the world would finally run out of patience with us and we would get out of the West Bank in a lather to avoid being ostracized, to save ourselves from becoming a Jewish North Korea.

Again, not my preferred way of ending the occupation. But no “good” way was presenting itself.

And then came Tunisia. And Egypt. And Iran, and Yemen, and Bahrain, and Libya, and no one knows where this is going to stop.

And it became pretty clear to me that this is how Israeli rule in the West Bank is going to end – through Palestinian people power. Masses of Palestinians, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, marching to IDF checkpoints and outposts, marching to Israeli-only roads, to settlements, to the security fence – to the nearest Israeli presence and screaming, “Out! Out!”

And refusing to leave.

WHAT THE hell is the IDF going to do then? Shoot them? Arrest them? With the whole world not only watching but, for the first time, already won over by other unarmed Arab masses facing down their oppressors? What will the IDF do under the eyes of a world that, for the first time, is seeing Arabs as people like themselves who want freedom, who deserve it and who are earning it, to say the least, with their courage?

How will the IDF and the Palestinian Authority police – those who don’t defect – get all these people to go back home and stay there?

I don’t see it. I think we’re going to have grand-scale anarchy on our hands – and we won’t be able to solve it by force, and the world will be on the side of the anarchists.

Impossible? If you say this is impossible, you’ve been on Mars for the last month. If you’ve been on Earth, the idea of the Arab revolt not reaching the West Bank is what seems impossible. To me, it’s inevitable. I’m only surprised it hasn’t started already.

It’s a matter of time. Maybe it’ll start Friday with the Palestinians’ “Day of Rage” against the US veto of the UN resolution against settlements. If not Friday, it’ll start soon. Something will set it off...

Mark.
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Feb 28 2011 10:40

Lebanon

Quote:
About 500 people waving flags and chanting for national unity have gathered in Beirut in a protest inspired by the wave of demonstrations across the Middle East.

Organizers used Facebook to publicize the demonstration, which was peaceful and dispersed by midday. Protesters called for a secular government…

Mark.
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Feb 28 2011 10:41

Why I can't say Saudi Arabia is a haven of peace

Quote:
I'm in Qatar for a couple of days for a workshop on the Egyptian revolution at the Qatar Foundation, but surprises have followed me all the way. First there was the news that a group of Qataris are calling for a Day of Rage on March 18, and a group of Saudis for a similar day on March 11. Then I heard the news of the protests in Oman on Saturday and Sunday…
Mark.
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Feb 28 2011 17:21

Saudi

Quote:
Democracy activists in Saudi Arabia say the government is closely monitoring social media to nip in the bud any protests inspired by uprisings that swept Arab countries, toppling leaders in Egypt and Tunisia.

Activists have set up Facebook pages calling for protests on March 11 and 20, with over 17,000 supporters combined, but police managed to stymie two attempts to stage protests in the Red Sea city of Jeddah last month, highlighting the difficulties of such mobilisation in the conservative kingdom.

In one case around 30 to 50 people were detained by police when they gathered on the street, eyewitnesses said. In the second, security forces flooded the location of a protest that had been advertised on Facebook, scaring protesters away.

"They are watching closely what people are saying on Facebook and Twitter," said Saudi blogger Ahmed al-Omran. "Obviously they are anxious as they are surrounded with unrest and want to make sure we don't catch the bug."…

Mark.
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Feb 28 2011 19:30

Oman

Quote:
Protesters have taken to the streets in the Gulf state of Oman for a third day to call for political reforms.

Hundreds of people blocked roads in Sohar, Oman's main industrial centre, while others maintained a vigil at a central roundabout.

A supermarket was set on fire by protesters and looted, and state property was damaged…

There have been reports of protests in other cities. Reuters said two demonstrations were held in the capital Muscat…

Al Jazeera

Quote:
Residents in the northeastern Omani city of Sohar have reportedly looted a supermarket damaged in protests, as demonstrations over economic woes carried on into a third day.

Security forces sealed off main roads to the city on Monday and hundreds of protesters reportedly stormed a police station, while protests spread throughout the city.

Sohar, a city about 200km northwest of the capital of Muscat, was the scene of protests over the weekend, as demonstrators demanded higher salaries, jobs for the unemployed and the removal of some government ministers.

But police did not respond to Monday's protests, witnesses said, and appeared to have withdrawn from the scene of the looting.

"It's a free for all," said one man who watched while people grabbed food and other goods, piling their hauls into stolen trolleys and heading away from the burnt Lulu Hypermarket, according to a report from the Reuters news agency.

"There's no security ... I want to live," said a 28-year-old Omani, who identified himself as Youssef, walking away with 10 bottles of juice.

One woman was seen stacking up slightly burned cartons of eggs, powdered milk, orange juice and cream cheese on her trolley and calmly leaving the supermarket.

Elsewhere, hundreds of protesters blocked access to an industrial area that includes the port, a refinery and aluminium factory...

Protests in Salalah: What do we want?

Quote:
On most days my office windows look out onto beautiful mountains, palm trees, pretty government buildings, and quiet Salalah traffic. This week, however, the view is a little more interesting. It includes protesters, banners, tents and police vehicles.

A few weeks ago I would have laughed off the mere thought of an uprising in Oman, let alone the peaceful town where I live. Nonetheless, on Friday hundreds of protesters marched from the Grand Mosque in Salalah to the central area of town where most government offices are.

Banners with clear demands were plastered to the gates of the Minister of State's headquarters and the protesters set up camp for the night opposite the gates. It has been four days already and from what I can see it doesn't look like they're going anywhere soon. Not only have they increased in numbers, but they've actually set up one of the most organized protest camps I have ever seen. The quiet collection of donations and the distribution system for food and water is something to be admired. When I drove by last night, the protesters were sitting in groups, talking quietly.

So what is it that they want? Well, some of the demands seem perfectly realistic and feasible to me, whereas others may seem a little ambitious for the time being (canceling all personal and housing loans?). First and foremost, protesters are demanding an end to administrative and financial corruption in the government and private sector. Believe it or not, Omanis finally want to crack down on wasta (influence). I never thought I'd see the day…

Mark.
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Joined: 11-02-07
Feb 28 2011 17:21

Morocco

Quote:
Almost 1,000 people rallied amid a heavy police presence in Morocco's biggest city Casablanca on Saturday to demand political reforms and a new constitution, a witness told AFP...
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Red Marriott
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Feb 28 2011 22:55

Continuing in Oman...

Quote:
Tuesday, March 1, 2011
International
Oman Unrest
Protesters block road to port
Death toll tops 6

Reuters, Sohar

Omani protesters demanding political reforms blocked roads to a main export port and refinery yesterday and a doctor said the death toll from clashes with police in the Gulf Arab sultanate had risen to six.

Hundreds of protesters blocked the entrance to the industrial area of the northern coastal town of Sohar, which includes a port, refinery and aluminum factory. They pushed back four army vehicles that had been observing the scene.

"We want to see the benefit of our oil wealth distributed evenly to the population," one protester yelled over a loudhailer near the port. "We want to see a scale-down of expatriates in Oman so more jobs can be created for Omanis."

The unrest in Sohar, Oman's main industrial center, was a rare outbreak of discontent in the normally sleepy sultanate ruled by Sultan Qaboos bin Said for four decades, and follows a wave of pro-democracy protests across the Arab world.

Oman's government, trying to calm tensions, promised on Sunday to create more jobs and give benefits to job seekers.

A main supermarket in Sohar was burning yesterday after being looted, witnesses said. Protesters stormed the town's police station on Sunday to try to free detainees before burning it. They had also set two state offices alight.

As well as those demonstrating outside the industrial area, hundreds more were at the main Globe Roundabout, angry after police opened fire on Sunday at stone-throwing protesters demanding political reforms, jobs and better pay.

Graffiti scrawled on a statue said: "The people are hungry." Another message read: "No to oppression of the people."

Nearby, sidewalks were smashed and office windows broken. Troops deployed around the town but were not intervening to disperse protesters.

"There are no jobs, there's no freedom of opinion. The people are tired and people want money. People want to end corruption," said Ali al-Mazroui, 30, who is unemployed.

Marine traffic and exports of refined oil products from Sohar's port, which ships 160,000 barrels per day (bpd) of a range of products, were continuing although the flow of trucks into the port was blocked, a port spokeswoman said.

"It is true the protesters are making a very non-violent protest," the spokeswoman told Reuters. "Marine traffic in and out is not affected at the moment."

A doctor at Sohar's main hospital said the death toll had risen to six. Witnesses had earlier put it at two, some saying police had fired live ammunition, while others said they had used rubber bullets.
http://www.thedailystar.net/newDesign/news-details.php?nid=175911

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Red Marriott
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Feb 28 2011 22:56

An updated map of these disturbances would be good.