and other news from the Arab uprisings:
US hails Bahrain as model of reform!
“Foreign Minister Shaikh Khalid bin Ahmed bin Mohammed Al Khalifa and Justice, Islamic Affairs and Endowments Minister Shaikh Khalid bin Ali Al Khalifa met at the Foreign Ministry today US Deputy secretary of State James Steinberg, US Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Jeffrey Feltman and the accompanying delegation. Both sides reviewed bilateral friendly relations of cooperation and ways of boosting them at all levels. They also discussed regional and international issues of mutual concern. Mr. Steinberg underlined the US keenness on Bahrain’s security and stability pointing out the importance of further promoting bilateral partnership. He also hailed the royal reform project which put Bahrain on the path of progress and prosperity.”
Bahraini activist said threatened with rape: report (Reuters)
Reuters – A prominent Bahraini human rights activist said he had been threatened with rape while in custody after he refused to apologize to the king over his role in anti-government protests.
Bahrain rights activist’s wife details torture, unfair trial
Bahrain’s crackdown on the pro-democracy uprising has shifted from the streets to courtrooms, workplaces, and schools. One prisoner’s wife describes sexual assault and psychological abuse.
Bahrain ex-editors plead not guilty in press trial (AP)
AP – Three former top editors of Bahrain’s main opposition newspaper pleaded not guilty Wednesday to charges of unethical coverage of Shiite-led opposition protests against the kingdom’s Sunni rulers.
Top U.S. diplomat presses Bahrain on rights (Reuters)
Reuters – A senior U.S. diplomat urged Bahrain’s rulers on Tuesday to pursue political dialogue with the opposition and stressed “the importance of full respect for universal human rights,” the State Department said.
Witness: Expelled from Bahrain, a nation now in fear (Reuters)
Reuters – When I got the usual call to visit Bahrain’s Information Ministry, I braced myself for complaints about my coverage of the crackdown on Bahraini Shi’ites protesting against the kingdom’s Sunni-led government.
Bahrain parliament accepts Shiite MP resignations (AP)
AP – Bahrain’s parliament accepted the resignations Tuesday of the last seven lawmakers of the Shiite opposition in a move that could exacerbate sectarian tensions in the strategic Gulf island kingdom.
WITNESS-Expelled correspondent reflects on Bahrain changes
Reuters correspondent Frederik Richter left Bahrain on Tuesday, a week after the government announced it was expelling him from the Gulf kingdom for his coverage of a crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators. In a WITNESS piece [ID:nLDE74A0E1], he describes how the small island nation has been transformed by violence and fear from the bustling business hub which he had come to know well in nearly three years living and working in the capital Manama. Richter, an Arabic speaker, joined the agency in his native Germany in 2007. Reuters still maintains editorial and business operations in Bahrain and has been told by the authorities that they will accredit a new correspondent to replace Richter.
Iran orders Bahrain bound boats to return: Press TV (AFP)
AFP – Iran on Monday ordered the return home of two boats carrying Iranian “activists” to Bahrain to express solidarity with Shiite-led protests there, the English-language Press TV said.
Iranian aid ships set sail to Bahrain
Two ships carrying Iranian activists return to docks after facing “threats” from warships en route to Bahrain.
Hosni Mubarak to apologize
Former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak is to apologize to the nation and plead for amnesty, three months after he was overthrown by a popular uprising, according to a report in the independent daily al-Shorouk.
Egypt military says no pardon for Mubarak
CAIRO (AFP) – Egypt’s ruling military council dismissed on Wednesday a report that it might pardon ousted leader Hosni Mubarak or his family, saying it does not intervene in judicial affairs.
Mubarak’s wife released from detention
Suzanne Mubarak still faces investigation regarding wealth she amassed during time spent as Egypt’s first lady.
Mubarak’s wife returns millions to state
Suzanne Mubarak, ex-Egyptian first lady, returns assets to the state after authorities order detention for corruption.
Pharaohs do not apology , they do not return back what they stole !! “Updated”, Zeinoba
So Suzanne Mubarak gave up her LE 24 million assets to the state yesterday and today the public prosecutor orders her release on a bail !! Updated : The public prosecutor denied the news and stated that it did not interrogate her. It turns out that the Illicit gains authority is the one involved in our case here. It turns out the because she did not have officially anything except those LE 20 million !!
Is this a joke !? Suzanne Mubarak has got only LE 20 million only !? And she pays a bail to be released !? LE 20 million my *** !! What about Alexandria library bank account !? What about her jewels !? Already can some tell me from she got these LE 20 million , last time I check first wives do not get that money from being chairwomen of charities in 3rd world countries. Is this the bone she throwing to us !? Take the LE 20 million and leave alone !? Is not the TV Drama she starring in Sharm El Sheikh hospital enough ? If Fatimah , the daughter of Prophet Mohamed “PBUH” steals , her hand will be cut Dr. Abdel Magid Mahmoud , Suzanne Mubarak is not greater than Fatimah Ben Mohamed “PBUH”. I understand that this is the first time in Egypt and the Middle East “some say the world” we have such situation but this is too much. Is not it enough the provoking news that Mubarak himself is going to address us in a new recorded audio message asking us for forgiveness and amnesty !!? By the way why did Al Arabiya air yesterday a documentary about Mubarak the war hero yesterday !? Since when Pharaohs ask for forgiveness or return what they have taken illegally !!? This push us to May 27th , it pushes us all back to Tahrir square !!
Egypt court says releases Mubarak aid on bail
CAIRO, May 17 (Reuters) – An Egyptian court on Tuesday released the former chief of staff of toppled President Hosni Mubarak from custody on a 200,000 Egyptian pound ($33,640) bail pending further investigation, the court said. Zakaria Azmi, one of Mubarak’s closest aides, was detained for 15 days on April 7 as part of an investigation into allegations of illegal gains. He has been remanded twice since, each time for 15 days, court officials said. The court said the decision to release Azmi came after deliberations at the appeals court in Nasr City, a Cairo suburb.
Former Mubarak minister to face Egypt corruption trial
Ibrahim Soliman, who was minister between 1993 and 2005, is the second housing minister to face trial over several controversial real estate deals.
Tel Aviv dismayed over El Arabi’s appointment as Arab League Secretary General
In the first Israeli reaction to the appointment of Egypt’s Foreign Minister, Dr Nabil El Arabi, as a replacement for Amr Mussa as the new Secretary General of the Arab League, Israeli media organisations, including certain state outlets, have reported that he had become the leader of 22 Arab States to work against Israel and its interests in the region. Israeli media sources including Ha’aretz, Jerusalem Post, Yediot Ahronot and Israel Radio confirmed that the fears of the government in Tel Aviv over El Arabi’s appointment have become greater than ever due to his history of criticism of the Zionist state. During his tenure at the United Nations, El Arabi accused Israel of causing bloodshed in the region and carrying out genocide against the Palestinian people.
Fatah, Hamas say Cairo unity talks ‘positive’ (AFP)
AFP – Rival Palestinian factions Fatah and Hamas on Monday described as “positive” talks in Cairo aimed at hammering out a unity government as agreed under a reconciliation deal, the MENA news agency said.
Egyptian Women and Palestinian Men Can Now Confer Egyptian Citizenship on Their Children
The new Egyptian Interior Minister, Major-General Mansour al-Issawi, announced last week that Egyptian women who have a child with a Palestinian man can confer their Egyptian citizenship to their child. This is a significant shift in Egyptian citizenship law with implications from both a gender and a Palestinian perspective.
Egyptian rage at Israel
Yesterday, after a brief unannounced visit by an official of the Israeli occupation military ministry, the Egyptian regime of the Military Council, cracked down on Egyptian protesters and arrested some 180 protesters. Can you imagine the uproar if those who were arrested were liberal advocates of American and Israeli occupations? Not a word about that in the Western press. The Arabic press reported widely on the matter. Among the slogans chanted outside the embassy were: ”Burn in the Israeli flag. Those are the ones who killed me and slit my throat.” And “The People want the downfall of Israel.” And “The first demand of the masses…Closure of the embassy and expulsion of the ambassador.” And “Toward the Aqsa we are going…Millions victorious.” And “Egypt and Palestine. One Hand.” (Typical of Egyptian slogans, all of them rhyme in Arabic except the last one).
The Lede: Egypt Holds 136 for Israeli Protest
The Egyptian military could bring charges against 136 people arrested during a protest outside the Israeli Embassy in Cairo on Sunday, including two prominent bloggers.
Over 350 hurt in Israel embassy protest in Cairo (Reuters)
Reuters – More than 350 people were injured in a protest outside Israel’s embassy in Cairo to mark the displacement of Palestinians at the 1948 creation of the Jewish state, the Egyptian state news agency said on Monday.
Egypt marks al-Nakba
Egyptian police have fired rubber bullets and tear gas at protesters outside the Israeli embassy in Cairo, after a group of demonstrators reportedly attempted to storm the building. Thousands of protesters had massed outside of the embassy in the capital on Sunday to commemorate the 63rd anniversary of the “Nakba” or “catastrophe” – the day [...]
Nakba night in Giza, Zeinobia
It was very sad to see some Israeli official praising on BBC Arabic how the Egyptian government cracked and how it saved the Israeli embassy , it was sad and disgusting actually because that Israeli official knows that the Israeli police can’t crack an Israeli protest against the Egyptian embassy in this way or even half this way. According to the official numbers not less than 353 were injured , most of them left hospital except 10 including some in critical condition.186 protesters were arrested including my dear online friend Tarek Shalaby and tweep Mosab El-Shamy. The Israeli flag is still there. Yes Tarek Shalaby , our revolutionary leftist activist and geek was detained while he was filming the protests. He was taken along other protesters to the Haiksteb camp. His sister Nora Shalaby has already taken a permission from the military prosecution office to visit him and insh Allah is going to meet him. I have not met Shalaby in person but he is truly nice guy and he helps everybody. I feel sad , worried and angry. Tarek recorded his own arrest moment , you will not be able to see anything but you are going to listen to a language you do not want to hear.
Egypt’s Second Grassroots Resurgence
The Egyptian people must still yet overturn an overbearing force that has marginalized them for generations: top-down government control of budgets and local development. Egypt’s central government administration consumes the far majority of public resources, allocating just 15 percent for local administration spending, which is less than half of the average percent spent by developed countries. Three quarters of Egypt’s local spending goes toward wages and salaries, leaving just 6 percent of the remaining for local capital expenditures over which local officials have minimal discretion.
Muhammad Hasanayn Haykal
A sign of the new Egypt is the fact that Muhammad Hasanayn Haykal has returned to the pages of Al-Ahram. For the first time in decades, the paper sold more than a million copies. It featured a long interview with this anti-Israeli Nasserist journalist.
Arabs: 90% say Qaddafi illegitimate, 75% Want him Forcibly Removed
I received this press release from the Doha Debates (a member of the Qatar Foundation) by email. The results vis-a-vis Libya are not surprising, since Qaddafi is widely hated in the Arab world and everyone watched in horror as he had tank salvos and cluster bombs fired at non-combatants. But that last bit about being willing to consider a NATO intervention in Syria is astonishing. The poll is based on 1,000 respondents from 16 Arab states; it is not scientific because respondents replied to a call to fill out the form, which means that the sample is skewed to those who felt strongly enough to do volunteer to do so.
Tunisia demands Libya stop cross-border shelling
TUNIS/TRIPOLI, May 18 (Reuters) – Tunisia threatened to report Libya to the U.N. Security Council if it fired into Tunisian border areas again, and a hospital doctor in rebel-held Misrata said seven people died in fighting there on Tuesday. Libyan rebels and a Tunisian security source said the head of Libya’s National Oil Corporation had defected and fled to Tunisia, an act that if confirmed would be a major blow to Muammar Gaddafi’s efforts to cling to power. Libyan state television said its forces had hit a NATO warship that was shelling targets in western Misrata, but a NATO official denied the report as “a totally fabricated allegation”.
Ministries ablaze after Tripoli strikes
Security services building and anti-corruption agency hit in overnight strikes as NATO bombing campaign continues. Julia Mills reports.
Libyan opposition fighters control border
Opposition fighters have controlled the Libya-Tunisia border for almost three weeks. Al Jazeera’s Hoda Abdel-Hamid reports from the border.
Libyan oil minister Shokri Ghanem ‘defects’
Sources say minister is on his way to Tunisian capital as NATO warplanes continue to hit targets in Tripoli.
Gaddafi envoys due in Moscow on Tuesday
MOSCOW, May 16 (Reuters) – Representatives of Muammar Gaddafi’s government were expected in Moscow on Tuesday and Russia also hopes to host Libyan rebel envoys soon, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Monday. “We agreed on meetings in Moscow with representatives of both Tripoli and Benghazi. Official envoys from Tripoli will be here tomorrow. Envoys from Benghazi were supposed to be here on Wednesday, but as they informed us, they were forced to ask us to postpone this visit for technical reasons,” Lavrov said.
The Lede: Libyan Woman Describes Rape by Qaddafi Forces
Eman al-Obeidy, a Libyan woman who burst into a Tripoli hotel packed with foreign journalists in March to say that she had been raped by government forces, described her ordeal in an interview broadcast on Monday.
How ICC warrants could change NATO strikes in Libya
NATO airstrikes today hit two government buildings in Tripoli, including the Interior Ministry.
Libya’s Gaddafi continues to hold on
It is three months to the day that pro-democracy protestors first clashed with security forces in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi. But the protester’s main aim, removing Gaddafi from power, has still to be realised. Al Jazeera’s Mike Hanna reports from Benghazi.
Libya: The general’s reality check
It’s not hard to fathom why the defence chief has shifted position on regime change in Libya. When David Cameron, egged on by an enthusiastic Nicolas Sarkozy, placed Britain in the vanguard of military action against Muammar Gaddafi‘s forces, defence chiefs were less than thrilled. It is a mistake to believe that military commanders are always gung-ho to go to war, especially when there is no clear exit strategy.
Syrian crosses border, hitchhikes to Tel Aviv (AP)
AP – A Syrian man who crossed into Israel in a large crowd that breached a border fence hitchhiked across the country, even sitting beside Israeli soldiers on a public bus, to find the home he said his family lost during Israel’s 1948 establishment.
Russia ‘to oppose use of force against Syria’
President Medvedev comes out against any UN move to authorise use of force, saying Syria must settle own affairs.
‘Dozens killed’ in Syrian border town
Security forces killed at least 27 civilians in three-day attack on Tel Kelakh, a rights lawyer told Al Jazeera.
Syria denies ‘mass grave’ claims
Villagers say they have found 13 bodies buried on farmland near Deraa – but government says claim is “totally false”.
Syria ‘tightens security grip’ in border area
At least 15 tanks enter rural area near northern Lebanese border, human rights activists report.
Syrians flee city after siege takes lives
Carrying mattresses and bags of clothing, Syrians fleeing their homeland described a “catastrophic” scene yesterday in a besieged border town that has been largely sealed off as the army tries to crush a two-month uprising.
Syria’s Muslim Brotherhood: ‘Our time has come!’
… said it was trying to take a larger role in organizing the disparate opposition as Syria’s street protests appear to wane….(and) as opposition activists fail to coalesce into a solid front… The Brotherhood poses a particular problem for some of the antiregime activists trying to forge secular coalitions more in line with the street movement… On Sunday, two days after Syria’s government said it would start a “national dialogue”—and on a day of protests in which at least six people were killed— the Brotherhood slammed the initiative and said it would “deploy our full energy to back and support” protesters. Mr. Salim said on Monday the group wasn’t taking a stronger line, and will not call people onto the streets.”We have caution, understandably and justifiably so, not to call on the street to protest—we have just announced our cohesion with a movement that has its own momentum,” he said… Last summer, Muhammad Riad al-Shakfa succeeded Ali Bayanouni as the Syrian Brotherhood’s leader, raising concerns that gains made under Mr. Bayanouni to shift the movement to the center would be reversed. The party under Mr. Shakfa, seen as taking a harder line, found itself “sitting on the sidelines of history” as the Arab Spring swept into Syria, one opposition member described…. Failed alliances, including abandoning in 2009 a coalition with former vice president Abdul Halim Khaddam after he turned against the regime and brief overtures to the regime itself cast doubt over the Brotherhood’s ability to command leadership of even the anti-regime movement abroad. “Those 30 years destroyed their organization, and they lost their legitimacy because they changed positions so much without explanation over the past five years,” said Burhan Ghalioun, an opposition member who is a scholar of contemporary oriental studies at the Sorbonne in Paris….”People on the street are getting tired, they’re running out of resources, and they don’t have that much experience,” said one protest coordinator outside Syria. “They recognize, and we have to recognize, that the Brothers are better organized and better funded.”
US, Obama’s image sour in Muslim nations: poll (AFP)
AFP – The image of the United States has soured in Muslim nations in the past year, says a poll released two days before President Barack Obama is due to deliver a speech on the pro-democracy revolts sweeping the Arab world.
WikiLeaks cables show that it was all about the oil
The communication, part of the cache of State Department cables that WikiLeaks passed to McClatchy and other news organizations, is just one indication of how the U.S. government over the years has maneuvered to influence the world’s oil and natural gas markets.
Norman Finkelstein: Arab dignity will bring peace to the Middle East
In a lecture that linked Egypt’s revolution to the balance of power in the region, the renowned American academic Norman Finkelstein painted the clear fear change will induce in Israel
This is a reliable report on the protest at the Lebanese-Palestinian border
“The small elevated Lebanese village just overlooking the border with Israel became a massive parking lot as buses carrying Palestinian refugees and Lebanese from across Lebanon converged for a protest commemorating what Israeli historian Ilan Pappé calls the “ethnic cleansing” by Zionist militias of more than 700,000 Palestinians from their lands and homes in 1948 – what Palestinians refer to as the “Nakba”, or catastrophe. Large buses had difficulties reaching the top of the mountain, and rather than wait, protesters chose to make the half-mile climb by foot. Men and women, young and old, secular and religious, were all present. This was the first time in 63 years that Palestinian refugees would go to the border in their tens of thousands and call for their right to return home. For most, it was their first time even seeing the land that they’ve grown up hearing described in precise detail through the popular stories of elders old enough to remember life in what is today considered Israel. The Israeli regime not only keeps under occupation more than 4 million people in the West Bank and Gaza Strip and limits the rights of more than a million Palestinian citizens of Israel, it also denies more than 5 million refugees the fundamental right of return to the place they were forced to flee.”
SAUDI ARABIA GIVES UP ON WASHINGTON; VOWS TO LEAD THE “ARAB WORLD” AGAINST IRANIAN “AGGRESSION”
Last month, we were among the first to analyze critically Saudi Arabia’s emerging strategy for “counter-revolution” in the Middle East and that strategy’s anti-Iranian focus. Today, in the Washington Post, we received powerful confirmation for our analysis, in the form of an op-ed Nawaf Obaid, a well-connected Saudi national security analyst and adviser.
Shiaphobia Hits Kuwait
If you ever talk to Kuwaiti Shias over 40 years old about discrimination against the Shia in their country, they might mention how they have been mistreated, on different levels, during the Iran-Iraq War. Then they would quickly tell you how the Shia proved their detractors wrong when they became part and parcel of the Kuwaiti resistance during the 1990 Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. That the Al Sabah government was deeply betrayed by Saddam Hussein, whom they had supported in his war with Iran only a few years back and because of which they had oppressed their own Shia citizens, only strengthens the case of Kuwaiti Shia loyalty to their country.
Awakening, Cataclysm, or Just a Series of Events? Reflections on the Current Wave of Protest in the Arab World
Perhaps the best starting point for understanding the current remarkable wave of protest spreading across the Arab world, would be to examine the nomenclature used to describe or frame it. To some observers it is seen as a ‘cataclysm.’ Others speak of the ‘contagion effect’. Still others might see it as simply a series of (fortunate or unfortunate) events not significantly related to each other. The terminology we use influences the conclusions we draw. We can see this if we juxtapose this Western branding which invokes undesirable images with the terms used by many commentators in the Arab world such as a ‘blossoming’ or ‘renaissance.’ What are these movements: a ‘disease’ or a ‘cure’? Are they monolithic or locally distinct? Is the outbreak of one protest related to, or caused by another? Finally, are the various Arab countries (and must they be only Arab?) equally ‘susceptible’ to the contagion?