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Old 02-04-2011, 04:50 AM   #151
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this is interesting, from Guardian live updates, so maybe the people would be ok with Suleiman during an interim period... i still have my doubts though tbh - i thought Suleiman had been involved in organising the pro-mubarak attacks by police/thugs on the peaceful protesters, no???

have to say it's quite amazing, though sometimes quite overwhelming, seeing these things unfold hour by hour due to digital media... imagine if our history books had such detail... wow...

Quote:
9.30am: Below the line, commenter hszmnedz, who has been giving us updates from Cairo throughout the week, explains what she says the demonstrators are calling for:

Day 10 and still strong, the peaceful pro-democracy demonstrations are calling for the following:

Mubarak should step down and delegate his power to the vice president to start a dialogue with a newly formed opposition coalition, observed by a neutral UN delegation, to a) establish a constitutional assembly to amend articles 77, 78 and 88 of the Egyptian Constitution to enable Egyptians to be candidates for presidency of the republic. The president should be from the people, elected by the people and cannot run for more than 2 terms, b) the state of emergency in effect for over 25 years should be lifted, c) establish monitory bodies for future elections from the judicial system, d) establish a national coalition body to monitor the transition during the next 6 months, e) organise elections according to international standards, f) permanently set guidelines for establishment of legal political parties that are not vetted by the national democratic party but by an independent neutral body, g) establish the rule of law and independent judiciary, h) elect a new parliament representative of all parties as the current parliment is based on forged elections.

In the immediate period we are calling for
1.The immediate cessation of the violence propagated by pro-mubarak thugs. Such elements should be arrested and brought to trial for their crimes.

2.Intensifying the presence of human rights bodies in Egypt to work closely with the opposition coalition to monitor human rights records in Egypt.

3.Immediate return of all communication means to the people and the intensification of foreign media in the country

4.An independent financial review body should be established from new government and opposition elements to a) investigate the source of wealth of Mubarak and his clique, and, b) evaluate the countries budgetary and financial policies and to bring forth recommendations to improve financial policies.
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Old 02-04-2011, 05:02 AM   #152
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i'm just skeptical seeing how our western governments have turned a blind eye and propped up Mubarak all these years, and am particularly sickened by Tony Bliar describing Mubarak just the other day as "immensely courageous and a force for good"

surely Suleiman would be no change at all??
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Old 02-04-2011, 05:16 AM   #153
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They didn't like it when he was announced as VP. They would fear (rightly) that this is not 'regime change', just a change of figurehead. That gives him 8 months of running the 'transition' and he will likely use that time in a way similar to how they fear Mubarak would use it - sabotage it, basically. He is, also, properly evil. But the US would be comfortable with him because he has run their torture programs in Egypt - old friends.

But there needs obviously to be a decent transition period. A decent amount of time before elections (even September will come around quite quickly) to allow people time to properly organise. The protesters surely can't expect to get a result where everyone steps aside for some misc. rabble of assorted unorganised factions, and an election in anything less than six months (minimum.) If you do that, you'll just get trouble. Maybe not of the chaos-on-the-street variety (although, with somewhat of a vacuum, maybe), but certainly a country that is just completely on 'pause', which really can't help when its on its knees economically already. There needs to be a decent amount of time to get political groups and parties together, with some sort of strong leadership at the top making sure both that the political development is smooth, and that the country doesn't just slide even further during this time. But letting the opposition genuinely develop and organise is most important.

Which is another good point amount the Muslim Brotherhood, and fears about them. They are only as influential as they are right now really because they aren't as influential as they seem. By that I mean, it's a dictatorship. Any person or group the regime saw as being any serious threat has been taken care of in one way or another - they effectively don't exist. The MB have been allowed to operate (to some degree - a lot of influential members jailed or worse) in part because no matter how strong dictators are in these countries, they can't touch religion, but also because they actually aren't that much of a threat, or haven't been. But they are currently the most organised 'opposition' group. All the others (either historical like the Wafd, or potential) have never been allowed to develop any kind of real structure or organisation. So the MB look like the most powerful, or noisiest, or best organised, or largest opposition group - but given a few months of letting others genuinely get their shit together, you'd see more clearly where they really stand. But move too fast and, yeah - they're the best organised, loudest, most powerful (etc)

I think it's pretty obvious that they'll have to accept Suleiman and a September election (and it does seem, in the last 24hrs, like they're realising that) - and that also gives the US/West eight months of behind the scenes carrot/stick efforts to ease the military out.
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Old 02-04-2011, 05:34 AM   #154
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Interesting article in Salon.com (from the live stream of The Guardian Egypt protests – day of departure live updates | World news | guardian.co.uk ) about the politicians in the US who are supporting Mubarak (and are against the protest):
Meet Mubarak's American fan club - War Room - Salon.com

Quote:
Hosni Mubarak has ruled Egypt as a brutal dictator for 30 years, barring basic rights like freedom of speech and assembly and regularly employing torture to suppress political opposition. So when massive and unprecedented pro-democracy protests broke out in the last week, it was an easy call for many Americans: The ordinary Egyptians demanding that Mubarak go deserved support. The Obama administration, mindful of the United States' longtime alliance with Egypt, has been more hesitant; but statements by Obama officials in support of a "transition" from the Mubarak regime have been growing stronger by the day.

Nevertheless, there are a handful of politicians and pundits who are actively decrying the protests -- and even, in a few cases, explicitly supporting the Mubarak regime.

Sometimes the argument comes in the form of "I support democracy, but only if I agree with the results." Sometimes it's about Israel, which has a peace treaty with Egypt. Sometimes it's distaste with protest leader Mohammad ElBaradei, who angered conservatives during his stint at the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency. Often it has been fear of the Muslim Brotherhood, which has a role in the protests. (The group, it should be noted, was actually late to join the movement. And it is hardly the only group behind the protests.)
There's also a gallery, singling out 10 of those supporters. Some seem to be have being fed a bit too much of the rightwing propaganda...
Meet Mubarak's American fan club | Slide Show - Salon.com
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Old 02-04-2011, 07:33 AM   #155
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Originally Posted by yolland View Post
For Arab journalists, this isn't new--Mubarak's forces have roughed up their reporters before--and neither is the "Israeli spies" accusation: Saudi media have reported on a (nonexistent) WikiLeaks cable exposing an Israeli-Qatari plot to undermine Egypt (al-Jazeera is Qatar-based); state-owned Egyptian media have alleged, incredibly, that there's a joint Mossad/US/Iran/Hezbollah/Hamas plot afoot to overthrow Mubarak; and one of the Guardian's bloggers noted yesterday that the pro-Mubarak goons were screaming "liars and Jews" at journalists. Ironically, these kinds of slurs from "allies" generally go unnoted in US media, despite all the freaking out about what might happen to the Israel-Egypt peace treaty under a possible Muslim Brotherhood-dominated government (a valid strategic concern, granted, but the grievances there are rational and could be addressed rationally, whereas this stuff...).

Reportedly Washington is now pushing hard behind the scenes for an interim government headed by Suleiman. Suleiman is himself a sinister creep and not reliably an improvement, not that my opinion matters; then again, as of now it's reportedly still unclear whether even Suleiman is willing to abandon Mubarak, so perhaps Washington's opinion won't matter either.
*Sigh* And people still can't possibly figure out why it's so hard for us to be taken seriously in foreign affairs nowadays.

I don't understand why we can't ever just let another country handle changes in their government themselves. If we truly, honest to God believe in the democracy we so feverently wish to promote, shouldn't it make sense that we let the PEOPLE decide for themselves how they want their country to be run? It's obvious where we've gone wrong in the "promoting democracy" tour we've been on for god knows how many decades now. We always seem to start from the top down, seem to start with the leaders, who can be deeply corrupted and untrustworthy. We need to start from the bottom up, and start working on befriending the people better. Then from there we can work with and forge friendships with leaders. And if they should do something horrible? We let them know we stand on the side of the people.

We also need to figure out that democracy isn't a novel idea. We're not the first ones to come up with it. It's been around for a really, really, REALLY long time. Many people around the world are fully aware of the concept. So if they want it, I think they know how to get it. And until we make sure our own government is in healthy working order, we also kind of need to just shut up, lest we appear the slightest bit, oh, I dunno, hypocritical?

Those quotes from those supporters of Mubarak really don't help matters.

Quote:
Mubarak, while no Jeffersonian democrat to be sure, has been an American ally for 30 years. These are not things you toss away lightly against the promise, the hope, the aspiration for sweetness and light and democratic government."
Yep, he's been an ally...and at what cost?

(Also, given how horrible a dictator he is, funny how he's still an ally, but Saddam was an evil, evil man who needed to be taken down NOW, and stuff! You know, after he'd been an ally of ours for a long time, too, though, of course)

And the rest of the commentary from those in the pro-Mubarak link is laughable at best (gee, Pamela Gellar seems like a bright gal, doesn't she?) and terrifying at worst.

In happier news, I liked this from that first link Popmartijn shared there:

Quote:
Protesters are listening to speeches and prayers, while others are playing music. Many are engaged in preparing rudimentary shields and helmets, mindful of the violence seen in the square yesterday.
That sounds promising and good .

Angela
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Old 02-04-2011, 07:46 AM   #156
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Old 02-04-2011, 08:00 AM   #157
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From the Guardian live updates:

Eyewitness reports in Tahrir Square confirm the presence of Amr Moussa in the square with the pro-democracy demonstrators. He is the current secretary general of the Arab League and former minister of foreign affairs, is a liberal politician.

The Catholic Cardinal in Egypt was witnessed hand in hand with a Muslim cleric, both in their religious dress with the pro-democracy demonstrators. He was speaking about national unity, stating that the myth of sectarian strife is only made by the failing government security apparatus and urge people to unite as Egyptians. The Muslim cleric also stated the same.



Communist Caliphate!
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Old 02-04-2011, 08:04 AM   #158
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fantastic!!!
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Old 02-04-2011, 08:05 AM   #159
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Oh, wow. That's pretty cool. Way to go, guys.

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Old 02-04-2011, 11:10 AM   #160
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This is one of the most disturbing things I've ever seen:

YouTube - The diplomatic car that ran over 20 people in cairo (28th-Jan-2011)
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Old 02-04-2011, 11:20 AM   #161
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yep, there is youtube footage, from yesterday, of a police van running over the peaceful protesters - i haven't been brave enough to watch it though - reading about it was enough for me tbh...

Quote:
3.46pm: Horrific video has emerged of a police van running over anti-regime protesters. The van was driven at speed into people peacefully marching. It was uploaded to YouTube today. Warning: contains disturbing content.
YouTube - Egyptian protesters got ran over by the system thugs
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Old 02-04-2011, 11:49 AM   #162
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shouldn't it make sense that we let the PEOPLE decide for themselves how they want their country to be run?
Look at the protests in Iran, and how badly those ended. The people won't be able to change how that country is run, at least not for a very long time.

At the same time, a lot of the time the people don't choose very wisely. The Palestinians elected Hamas for example, as I think was previosuly mentioned. Even Hitler; he wasn't exactly elected, but the majority of the people decided they wanted him to run the country.

That said I'm remaining very hopeful that the people of Egypt will be able to create a new stable government, one which isn't controlled by Marxist Muslim radicals, much to Glenn Becks suprise.
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Old 02-04-2011, 05:56 PM   #163
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I read this this morning, which virtually makes it "old news" by now, but since the topic of US aid to Egypt came up...

Politico, Feb. 4
Quote:
Amid reports that the Obama administration is negotiating behind the scenes for a swift departure of Hosni Mubarak, a top Senate appropriator is warning he will cut off US aid to Egypt until Mubarak steps down.

"I am just stating the facts: Nobody is going to vote for foreign aid for Egypt...so long as this is going on," Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), chairman of the Senate Appropriations State/Foreign Ops subcommittee, told POLITICO Friday.


..."Senator Leahy's threat is a significant development," said Eric Witte, of the Democratization Policy Council, noting that a decade ago Leahy used the same leverage to withhold US assistance for Serbia until Slobodan Milosevic was arrested and sent for trial in the Hague. "Even with strong resistance from the State Department and administration at the time, he was able to use his position on the Appropriations Committee to enforce a policy of principled aid conditionality. It's worth noting too that the policy worked."

US officials stressed there's no single "US plan" being dictated to the Egyptians. "We have discussed with the Egyptians a variety of different ways to move that [transition] process forward, but all of those decisions must be made by the Egyptian people," National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor said Thursday. Egypt's new Vice President Omar Suleiman--who spoke with Vice President Joe Biden on Thursday--has told intermediaries since Monday he's seeking to negotiate with opposition parties on arrangements for the transition, but several opposition figures including the Muslim Brotherhood as well as former IAEA chief Mohammed ElBaradei have refused to enter talks with him until Mubarak steps down.

...Leahy said he's been generally impressed with the conduct of the Egyptian military during the uprising, and noted it had been recently reminded of the "Leahy Law," which requires a cut-off of US military aid if misused to commit human rights violations. "They have been reminded through back channels, 'Don't forget the Leahy law,' and to their credit, they are the one stabilizing factor," Leahy said, adding that he has questions about why they hung back Wednesday when pro-regime mobs attacked anti-Mubarak protesters. Since Thursday, however, he noted, the army has moved in to separate the two groups.
Unsurprisingly, Admiral Mullen doesn't care for this kind of talk:

The Hill, Feb. 4
Quote:
The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff warned against cutting off all aid to Egypt if the country's president does not hand over power to an interim government immediately.

Adm. Mike Mullen cautioned against the cries from lawmakers, saying on ABC's "Good Morning America" he thought the United States should have a better understanding of what's going on in Egypt before doing anything drastic. "It is up to the Egyptian people and the Egyptian government. But we play a role here because we give about $1.5 million a year—billion a year in aid to Egypt," Mullen said Friday. "So, again, there's a lot of uncertainty out there. And I would just caution against doing anything until we really understand what's going on. I recognize that certainly is a significant investment, but it's an investment that's paid off over a long period of time."
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Old 02-04-2011, 06:06 PM   #164
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And on a less weighty note--for some reason, tracking the slogans created by the protesters has become a favorite quasi-distraction of mine while following the news the last few days, so I really enjoyed this article from the Daily Beast:
Quote:
Imperious despot, insolent in strife,
Lover of ruin, enemy of life!
You mock the anguish of an impotent land
Whose people’s blood has stained your tyrant hand,
And desecrate the magic of this earth,
sowing your thorns, to bring despair to birth

--Abul Qasim al-Shabi



While protesters in Tunisia chanted these words, written by the poet Abul Qasim al-Shabi, two weeks ago, Iraqi poets staged a reading in solidarity. In Egypt, where al-Shabi’s verses had become a rallying cry, Al Jazeera reported poetry readings in the middle of the protests at Tahrir Square.

The readings and poetic chants in Tunisia and Egypt are only the latest instance in a long history of political poetry in the Middle East, going back all the way to pre-Islamic times, when the sa-alik (roughly translated as “vagabond”) wrote about living outside the tribal system. In modern times, poetry has been a tool for creating a sense of political unity, giving voice to political aspirations, and excoriating governments and leaders. Maybe most surprising to an American used to poetry’s increasing confinement to college campuses, poetry is a tool for galvanizing people to political action.

“Outside the West poetry is still very powerful,” says Muhsin Jassim al-Musawi, professor of Arabic literature at Columbia University. “It might not be very conspicuous, but it is there, an undercurrent, and whenever there is a need for it you will be surprised that people have something to say.” Postcolonial literary criticism has neglected the political power of poetry, says Musawi, focusing instead on the way narrative defines cultural and national identities. But when those identities are first being formed, he says, when people are taking to the streets in protest or trying to establish a new government, it’s poetry people turn to. It’s easier to rally around a verse than a novel.

Al-Shabi’s poems are taught in schools, and a verse from his poem "Will to Live" forms the final lines of Tunisia’s national anthem, so it makes sense that Tunisians reached for his poetry when they needed something to chant. But Egypt has its own rich tradition of political poetry to draw on. Back in the late 19th century, the neoclassical poet Mahmoud Sami al-Baroudi gave voice to the nationalist movement leading up to the revolution of 1881. And after World War I, Bayram al-Tunsi wrote poems in protest of the Great Powers’ failure to grant Egypt independence. He was later banished for insulting the royal family in verse.

When Egyptians took to the streets on January 25, they sang the poems of a follower of al-Tunsi, Amad Fu’ad Nigm. Like al-Tunsi, Nigm used colloquial speech and puns to critique the state and mock its leaders, but unlike al-Tunsi, Nigm often set his to music, with the help of the blind oud player al-Shaykh Imam. Starting in the late '60s, when Nigm and Imam weren’t in prison, they performed in students’ apartments and crashed concerts, storming the stage and interrupting the show with their own music. That the protesters would turn to Nigm and Imam’s songs makes sense, says Marilyn Booth, Iraq Chair of Arabic and Islamic Studies at the University of Edinburgh, and the host of one of Imam’s shows in 1980 (Nigm was in hiding). “Nigm’s verse carries a vernacular flavor and earthy punch, and he’s good at incorporating political slogans into his work.” Plus, she says, his critiques of the repressive regime remain “depressingly relevant.”

The January 25 protest was organized by a coalition of leftist organizations, activists from Kefaya (Enough!), El Ghad (Tomorrow), and others. “Many of them are lawyers, a lot of them human rights and Internet activists from working class backgrounds,” says Elliot Colla, chair of the Arabic and Islamic Studies department at Georgetown University. They know Nigm like “we know Pete Seeger or Arlo Guthrie, fairly brazen songs about being on the bottom looking up.”

Even when the chants in Egypt aren’t quotations from poems, there’s something distinctly poetic about them. “All the slogans you hear on Al Jazeera are also poetry,” he says. “If you go to a demonstration in the US, you’re chanting, ‘One, two, three, four, we’re not going to take this anymore,’ but in Egypt, they’re often rhyming couplets with rhythms from classical Arabic poetry.” Others are plays on traditional sayings, like the chant, "Idrab idrab yâ Habîb, mahma tadrab mish hansîb!" (“Hit us, beat us, O Habib [as-Adly, the former minister of the interior] hit all you want—we're not going to leave!"), which Colla points out echoes the saying “Darb al-habib zayy akl al-zabib" ("The beloved's fist is as sweet as raisins"). The echo of the saying in the chant turns the government into an abusive spouse, and turns a chant that if read straight would be a simple statement of defiance (“No matter how many times you hit us, we’re not going to leave”) into a taunt (“C’mon, hit us again, it hurts so good”).

In the early days of the protest, invective chants were popular. Protesters mocked Mubarak’s family, calling his son Gamal a momma’s boy, and compared Mubarak to the laughing cow on the packages of Laughing Cow Cheese or to other oafish and large-nosed animals. “Oh Mubarak, you rhinoceros, leave, leave, you’re annoying,” reads the translation of one rhyming chant. But as the protests grew in size, songs and rhymed barbs became less common—it’s hard to get thousands of people chanting classical verse or singing together. One chant in particular has become widespread, showing up on signs and graffiti: “The people want the regime to fall.” Though it has a regular meter, this chant is unrhymed and not in colloquial Egyptian—it’s in modern classical Arabic. Colloquial Egyptian is as different from modern classical Arabic as contemporary English is from Shakespearean English, but unlike colloquial Egyptian, modern classical Arabic is understandable to Arabic speakers who hear it on Al Jazeera. “That tells you who they think their audience is,” says Colla. It’s also important to note that the chant doesn’t mention which people want which regime to fall: “A Yemeni could say that, a Jordanian could say that—and I suspect they already are.” It’s a slogan designed to spread.

As archaic as it may seem, poetry still matters: It’s a powerful means of expression, and revolts around the region have picked up lines from their literary traditions to evocatively, efficiently express their grievances and goals. “We shouldn’t be so naive as to neglect the power of poetry,” al-Musawi asserts, “because in the moment of the actual making, you need poetry, when action is taking place it needs to be around a catchphrase—people need it.”
Hard to believe that colloquial Egyptian Arabic and modern classical Arabic could be as far apart as contemporary and Elizabethan English, yet ordinary Egyptians can still comfortably slip into modern classical Arabic for spontaneous political sloganeering--hell, we can't even read Shakespeare without annotations! What a cool thought, though...
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Old 02-04-2011, 08:13 PM   #165
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