Arab World Protests 408 replies

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Commissar MercZ

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#401 9 years ago

Arab League observers arrived in Syria today to visit certain cities, like Homs, which have been centers of protests against the government. Their mission is to assess the situation and gather accounts from different groups. Opposition groups behind the protests charge the government has been carefully removing its presence where observers arrive in order to hide what they are doing. There was some violence too, but not where observers were present. The US and Russia both have urged Syria to give full access to the Arab League observers. Syria for its part is still conducting operations against army separatists and 'terrorists' it blames for instigating unrest in the first place.

President Saleh of Yemen has requested to leave the country for treatment at a US hospital. With the tensions as they are on the ground though, the US is approaching this very carefully hoping not to create a diplomatic mess. Initial reports said that he had been cleared to enter though a White House official later said that Saleh's request for a visa to enter the US had not yet been approved. Yemen meanwhile has also been hit by strikes by workers angry at corruption within the government and businesses.




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#402 9 years ago

Arab League is displeased with the continuing violence though it's unclear what they can do about it beyond what ever diplomatic pressure it can apply on Syria through the actions of its members. There doesn't seem to be any progress on the government's end which is still maintaining there are no real grievances of the protestors and that the real threat comes in the form of terrorists and foreign-backed groups attempting to overthrow the ruling government. The economy has show noticeable signs of damage from continuing shrinking due to the protests, which puts the government in a tight spot with regards to maintaining people's jobs and public services which legitimizes it.

The opposition for its part also has issues. While the two major groups claiming to guide the protests have signed a road map for a 'post-Assad' Syria, the opposition has had its own share of divisions over direction. This is mainly over which groups to ally with, position towards minority groups (ex Kurds, Christians), their position towards army defectors and violence against the government, and their stance towards potential backers in the form of Turkey, other Arab nations, Europe, and the United States.

The death of a Bahraini teenager in protests against the government prompted some noticeably larger demonstrations in the island kingdom. This particular movement has unfortunately been unable to sustain itself consistently as has been the case in Yemen and Syria.

In Yemen there is still repression from Saleh forces, which is officially under the pretext of combating al Qaeda or groups tied to it. Saleh for his part has stopped attempting to get a visa (which had been stalled) to the US as signs of power feuds in the government begin to appear along with ongoing street unrest. A French-Algerian journalist was also found dead in a hotel near the governmental palace. It's unclear what, if any, press agency he was with. Despite holding credentials with France24, the same organization said that he was not a member of their group.




Commissar MercZ

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#403 9 years ago

Arab League is displeased with the continuing violence though it's unclear what they can do about it beyond what ever diplomatic pressure it can apply on Syria through the actions of its members. There doesn't seem to be any progress on the government's end which is still maintaining there are no real grievances of the protestors and that the real threat comes in the form of terrorists and foreign-backed groups attempting to overthrow the ruling government. The economy has show noticeable signs of damage from continuing shrinking due to the protests, which puts the government in a tight spot with regards to maintaining people's jobs and public services which legitimizes it.

The opposition for its part also has issues. While the two major groups claiming to guide the protests have signed a road map for a 'post-Assad' Syria, the opposition has had its own share of divisions over direction. This is mainly over which groups to ally with, position towards minority groups (ex Kurds, Christians), their position towards army defectors and violence against the government, and their stance towards potential backers in the form of Turkey, other Arab nations, Europe, and the United States.

The death of a Bahraini teenager in protests against the government prompted some noticeably larger demonstrations in the island kingdom. This particular movement has unfortunately been unable to sustain itself consistently as has been the case in Yemen and Syria.

In Yemen there is still repression from Saleh forces, which is officially under the pretext of combating al Qaeda or groups tied to it. Saleh for his part has stopped attempting to get a visa (which had been stalled) to the US as signs of power feuds in the government begin to appear along with ongoing street unrest. A French-Algerian journalist was also found dead in a hotel near the governmental palace. It's unclear what, if any, press agency he was with. Despite holding credentials with France24, the same organization said that he was not a member of their group.




Commissar MercZ

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#404 9 years ago

The Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt has signaled its support for the military's plans. The SCAF has recently tabled the 'transition' to an elected civilian government for six months from now, keeping the appointed military government in place. This move by SCAF has been unpopular among the people as it shows the military's continuing interference in domestic affairs, and it also shows the close ties between the MB and the SCAF in attempting to suppress popular sentiment on the street, presumably to maintain the status quo in a post-Mubarak era.

Yemen's government has passed its law granting immunity to President Saleh and the rest of his officials from prosecution. This has angered the populace who have experienced corruption and repression from the 33 years of the Saleh government, but Yemen and its foreign backers- the US and the Gulf states in particular- see it as a necessary step to move beyond the tensions in the country.

Another blast hits Damascus, targeting a bus and killing some 26 people. Like the previous blast targeting security officials, the Syrian government has said this is an example of the 'civil war' ravaging its country, which it currently views the protests as, and national TV shows Arab League observers being shown the scene of the blast and the victims at the hospital. The opposition leadership for its part has claimed the circumstances and timing of the blast are suspect. Violence was reported more recently in Homs against protestors where observers are present, though it is doubtful they saw anything. Opposition has not received the observers warmly, claiming they've been ineffective and criticized their decision to not recommend a UN resolution against Syria and instead increase its numbers there. A Russian Naval flotilla has also reached the Russian Naval Base in Tartus as Russia moves to show its interests in Syria and to underscore that any foreign involvement in Syria will have to involve or have Russia's approval, rather than bypassing them all together as in Libya.




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#405 9 years ago

The Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt has signaled its support for the military's plans. The SCAF has recently tabled the 'transition' to an elected civilian government for six months from now, keeping the appointed military government in place. This move by SCAF has been unpopular among the people as it shows the military's continuing interference in domestic affairs, and it also shows the close ties between the MB and the SCAF in attempting to suppress popular sentiment on the street, presumably to maintain the status quo in a post-Mubarak era.

Yemen's government has passed its law granting immunity to President Saleh and the rest of his officials from prosecution. This has angered the populace who have experienced corruption and repression from the 33 years of the Saleh government, but Yemen and its foreign backers- the US and the Gulf states in particular- see it as a necessary step to move beyond the tensions in the country.

Another blast hits Damascus, targeting a bus and killing some 26 people. Like the previous blast targeting security officials, the Syrian government has said this is an example of the 'civil war' ravaging its country, which it currently views the protests as, and national TV shows Arab League observers being shown the scene of the blast and the victims at the hospital. The opposition leadership for its part has claimed the circumstances and timing of the blast are suspect. Violence was reported more recently in Homs against protestors where observers are present, though it is doubtful they saw anything. Opposition has not received the observers warmly, claiming they've been ineffective and criticized their decision to not recommend a UN resolution against Syria and instead increase its numbers there.

A Russian Naval flotilla has also reached the Russian Naval Base in Tartus as Russia moves to show its interests in Syria and to underscore that any foreign involvement in Syria will have to involve or have Russia's approval, rather than bypassing them all together as in Libya. Turkey's PM Erdogan has also said that Syria is edging towards 'Civil War' and as he has done before called on Assad to recognize the opposition's demands. He said that Turkey is watching the situation and emphasizes that any sort of action in Syria will involve Turkey in a 'leading role', saying that it could cause sectarian violence to spread into other areas and cites the presence of a proxy war between Iran and Saudi Arabia. Though in all fairness I think we could say that Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Iran are all involved in Syria with different objectives.




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#406 9 years ago

Just a bit of reflection: It passed me that we had gone to the year mark of the immolation of Mohammed Bouazizi in Tunisia on December 17th, 2010. I didn't realize, nor did others then, that this incident would spark the eventual overthrow of President Ben Ali in Tunisia on January 14th after massive protests moved the military to save itself and eject Ben Ali from the nation- who is still in Saudi Arabia.

No one then I think thought that it would spread to other countries, especially Egypt, where President Mubarak's rule seemed set to near his 30th year and continue on to his son or another picked man from the military. Egypt was a depressing example, where an authoritarian regime justified its practices on the danger of internal security from radicals- more often to foreign, western countries than to its own citizens- and in the process monopolizing and brutalizing the economy to benefit them and business partners while leaving much of the country in poverty. Protests began to break out in late January, 2011, and the masses in Tahrir Square swelled to fantastic proportions.

From there we saw like Ben Ali's overthrow, the military stepped in on Mubarak and forced him from office on February 11, 2011 (where we will come up on soon). Like in Tunisia as well the military would form a 'transitional' government to democracy. Mubarak's overthrow was powerful though- a man who embodied the big problems of the Middle-East - strongmen dictators, corruption, and a massive disparity of wealth. It encouraged people to start up protests in other states. Yemen and Bahrain saw notable ones initially, though in Bahrain's case it was brutally repressed with out much attention. Political activists in nations like Lebanon, Jordan, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Oman also tried to galvanize the masses, but were not able to get the same degree of success.

Attention turned to Libya's outbreak, which took a relatively more 'violent' turn than those that preceded it. The United States and others, who had previously either remained silent or defended regimes like Egypt, suddenly took up the mantle of democracy and freedom in Libya. On the news of the people of Benghazi being doomed by an impending massacre of protesters, and so NATO intervened with the reason to protect civilians, though it was obvious that Qaddafi's departure was the ultimate end goal.

It was at this point that the energies of the Arab Spring saw an even greater interference by outside forces hoping to ensure what ever results does not disadvantage them. As the US found Tunisia and Egypt working out in its favor, the same had to occur with Libya. Of course the interests of the US would conflict with Russia, setting the stage for later disputes. Qaddafi's regime managed to withstand the massive bombardment and for awhile it appeared the National Transitional Council would have to face a settlement with Qaddafi- then Tripoli fell in late August, and later in September he would face his end at the hands of a militia.

Running parallel to Libya was Syria, where the positions of the world powers mirrored that of Libya. Syria, if the figures are accurate, would be the most violent repression so far. The uprising in Syria began off slow- and as you may find from an earlier post of mine in this thread (which I'm too lazy to find), I had written it off thinking it could not spread. I had given too much credit to Assad's ability to contain dissent in the manner that happened in other countries. At any rate, Syria's revolt raged with increasing strength, and picked up significantly after Qaddafi's overthrow.

Turkey, seeing another opportunity to build its reputation as a regional power, began to involve itself in disputes in Libya and Syria in particular. The former it attempted to negotiate peacefully before joining in those nations that supported the NTC- the latter it quickly entered into a more confrontational tone with Syria, with it the past 10 years of warming relations in what was usually a chilly relationship between the two states.

Like the other leaders, Assad would say that the protests are only being portrayed peacefully by his enemies- that in reality the situation in his country is embroiled in a war against terrorists and armed gangs threatening the lives of all Syrian citizens. The disparate Syrian opposition attempts to unify the different positions and reconcile its long-time nationalism with minority groups, be it religious ones like the Christians or ethnic ones like the Kurds.

Observers continue in Syria, though it all demonstrates the war of words and ideas between the government and the opposition, that runs parallel to the violence. Is there an easy answer to this? No. But the loss of lives has been a sobering one in Syria, especially at the hands of Assad who had been seemingly reversing his father Hafez al-Assad's heavy handiness (the Homs massacre) and soviet-style economics. As the western educated dentist, Bashar al-Assad seemed to have put people at comfort more than his brother Basil al-Assad, the presumed favorite to succeed his father before he died in 1994, who had a reputation for being as brutal as his father. But in an atmosphere like Syria, it is unlikely that Bashar had ever really been 'soft'. You can't be as a leader of a nation like Syria. Estimated deaths in Syria has peaked past 4,000.

Here we are a year later, and still the situation in Yemen is not quite resolved, which had started shortly after the overthrow of Mubarak. President Saleh, including his presidency of North Yemen, had been in power since 1980. Saleh had departed from his office after a mortar attack on the presidential palace compound injured him, though he would return some months later much to the dismay of his opponents. The violence there has peaked past 1500 last I checked. An agreement was made to allow Saleh and others to leave and make way for elections, but with it came the guarantee of immunity from prosecution. So it still isn't settled, much less the exposure of differences and such that is revealed with the breakdown of the clientele system.

Tunisia and Egypt have had their own elections, though in the latter with a great deal of interference from the military. It is a start, but much is left for them. For the west attention is drawn on "Islamists" and other things, but for the people in the country, they are looking for solutions to what they rose up against in the first place- low pay, unemployment, food, and corruption. The revolutions have also brought a lesson in how they really work- simply overthrowing a figure is not enough- if the whole structure of the state still exists then it can continue the old ways, simply under a different appearance. A year after Ben Ali's removal, Tunisia strikes and protests continue. In Egypt it also is unsettled with the SCAF's continued insistence on its role in the government.

It's interesting seeing how long these events stretched over the year. This is probably, save for my 'spamming', the most attention I ever paid on a single event.




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#407 9 years ago

Yesterday in Egypt saw people turn out to mark the one year anniversary of the beginning of the protests there. People came out for different reasons- some to celebrate the performance of their parties in the elections, others to demonstrate against the continued dominance of the SCAF in political affairs, etc. Some interviews with people here.

Overarching theme of course is the economic conditions, one of the very matters that fueled demonstrations in the first place. The country of course has some 40% living in virtual poverty, and many more living in rather poor conditions. Will it be solved? The new government of course comes into a state built up in the past 30 years, complete with the bureaucratic connections, big business, foreign investors, etc- it may simply not resolve these problems. For its part, the Muslim Brotherhood-backed Freedom and Justice Party has been antagonistic towards demands for far reaching economic changes and is expected to keep the essential economic relations unchanged. It seeks to emulate the AKP in Turkey, which translates into what Christian Democratic Parties in Europe are known for.

The other Islamist group, the Al Nour party, is fundamentally more conservative and its views on the economy are unknown. It is probably similarly willing to work and side with business leaders and investments rather than labor, though.

President Saleh of Yemen has departed from his country, going to Oman and from there going to the United States for 'medical treatment'. This hasn't been well received by people of that country though, which is still trying to transition into a new government amid infighting within the military and tribes.

Syria has remained the same. More killing and violence, government holds the same position towards the demonstrators (terrorists, armed gangs, foreign interference), while the opposition won't recognize anything but a resignation of Assad. The Arab League has decided only to increase its observers there, and has replaced the withdrawal of Gulf observers who feel that they won't be able to do anything to styme the violence in the country. Opposition forces have become more antagonistic towards the observers feeling they aren't being effective and allowing them to be corralled by the government.




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#408 9 years ago
Commissar MercZ;5605136 Syria has remained the same. More killing and violence, government holds the same position towards the demonstrators (terrorists, armed gangs, foreign interference), while the opposition won't recognize anything but a resignation of Assad. The Arab League has decided only to increase its observers there, and has replaced the withdrawal of Gulf observers who feel that they won't be able to do anything to styme the violence in the country. Opposition forces have become more antagonistic towards the observers feeling they aren't being effective and allowing them to be corralled by the government.

It is sad that Assad has been allowed for so long to terrorize his people. Syria isn't very rich and rather far away, so western countries don't care. The Arab league doesn't really seem to care either and is probably more interested in retaining of semblance of dignity by sending their observers around.

I wonder what Israel's position is on Syria. I wouldn't be surprised if Israeli intelligence agencies are shipping as many guns to Syrian rebels as possible. On the other hand, Israel might be more interested in a stable dictatorship which does nothing against them than in a democratic government consisting of Islamists.




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#409 9 years ago
MrFancypants;5605164 I wonder what Israel's position is on Syria. I wouldn't be surprised if Israeli intelligence agencies are shipping as many guns to Syrian rebels as possible. On the other hand, Israel might be more interested in a stable dictatorship which does nothing against them than in a democratic government consisting of Islamists.

Yeah, Israel might be involved in some form- though it'd be difficult to get much of them to willingly accept any form of 'aid' from Israel considering the bad associations it would have among the people, much less really be a boon to Syria's position that these protests are only a result of foreign manipulation.

Like you said they aren't sure what would come out of a post-Assad scenario, which is why they probably haven't been as vocal about it compared to some other nations. Even among those who don't really want to seek continued conflict with Israel, there's still the question of the Golan heights that for the most part parties across the spectrum in Syria hold that Israel should withdraw from it immediately.

Since I mentioned Golan, that does bring me to what Israel has done with regards to Syria- opening up stretches of the occupied Golan to allow for refugees, if in the case Syria has completely imploded.