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Egyptians continue protests against Israel and call for a million-man march to support Palestinians

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Two great pictures at Kabobfest, 1 and 2, of Egyptian protesters getting on the Palestinian issue. And other news from the Arab uprisings:


Bahrain sentences protesters to death
Military court sentences four men to death over killing of police during unrest, state media says.

Bahrain urged to halt execution of protesters
A military court in Bahrain has sentenced four anti-government protesters to death. Authorities in Bahrain must not allow the execution of four protesters sentenced to death by a military court over the killing of two police officers in anti-government demonstrations last month, Amnesty International said today. “The Bahraini authorities have a responsibility to bring to justice those who commit violent crimes. But when doing so, they must uphold the right to fair trial and they must not use the death penalty under any circumstances,” said Malcolm Smart, Amnesty International’s Director for the Middle East and North Africa.

Why Bahrain is Trying Civilians Before a Military Court ( – The island kingdom’s massive crackdown on civil liberties continues with civilians about to be put in front of a military court.*

Shiites decry ‘persecution in Bahrain’
Shiites face fast-tracked martial courts, continued detention of hundreds, demolition of mosques and arbitrary dismissal of employees in the Sunni-ruled kingdom, they say.

Bahrain: We must speak out about brutality in the Gulf
To have different levels of tolerance for different despots raises awkward questions.

Bahrain thanks Saudi Arabia
Saudi media do cover Bahrain. The mouthpiece of Prince Salman and his sons, Ash-Sharq Al-Awsat, has this headline: “A Green Bahraini Day in thanks to People and Leadership of Saudi Arabia.”  I kid you not.

Lebanese Muslim scholars urge Bahrain to end crackdown
Sheikh Abdel Amir Kabalan, head of the Shiite Higher Council, urged the Bahraini government to halt all forms of “injustice and oppression.” BEIRUT: Violence against Bahraini protesters should cease, Lebanese Muslim scholars urged Manama Wednesday, warning of a conspiracy to incite strife among the island’s population.

More on Bahrain
Jane sent me this (I cite with her permission):  ”I guess you saw the news that four men have been sentenced to death today by a military court that convicted them of killing two policemen during the uprising. Today Bahrain TV aired a “documentary” that gives full details, including televised “confessions” from several of the men. The programme has been uploaded to YouTube here:  (Yes, it genuinely does begin “Bahrain is a country of peace and love…”) As some people have asked, why would defendants who were pleading “not guilty” make confessions on camera? The names of those confessing aren’t given, but Chanad, an eagle-eyed blogger/tweep, pointed out that the first man “confessing” (six minutes into the programme) appears to be Ali Isa Saqer. Mr Saqer was one of the people detained in connection with the killings, but he was not sentenced yesterday. That’s because he already died in custody in early April. Human Rights Watch, which saw his body, said it bore signs of “horrific abuse”. He was buried on April 10th. Frank Gardner of the BBC wrote about him recently (the last line is particularly worth reading): “Accused of trying to run over a policeman during a protest, Ali Isa al-Saqer had handed himself over to police after his family say they were threatened. Six days later he died in their custody, the authorities say he fought his jailers. His family, seeing his battered body for the first time since his arrest, collapsed in howls of grief; his wounds were quite simply horrific. Beaten black and blue, his lacerated back resembled a bloody zebra; he appeared to have been whipped with heavy cables, his ankles and wrists manacled. I brought up his case with the health minister, Dr Fatima al-Beloushi, who is also minister for human rights. At first she said that the opposition had altered the images to invent the lacerations. But when I replied that we had been to the funeral and seen them ourselves she immediately promised a full investigation.


One of my sources:  ”So 4 of the protestors were sentenced to death. 3 given life. The last time the death penalty was imposed was in 2006 after three incidents of 3 bangledeshis killing Bahrainis – one of the bangledeshis was a cook for a super-rich Bahraini family (wonder if he was abused by them?). Since two of the ones killed were from prominent tribes the government decided to ban all bangledeshis from coming to Bahrain. I have no idea if the ban still exists – there is a similar ban in either Saudi or Kuwait. Here’s an old blog post on the issue: Funny how the defenders of the Bahraini government forgot this and now are acting like they are the defenders of all expats in Bahrain. At the beginning of the violence, the government claimed that the protesters cut of the tongue of a bangledeshi muazzin. The Bangledeshi ambassador denied this.”
When a Bahraini secular suddenly becomes a caller for an Islamic republic

One of my reliable sources on Bahrain:  ”I’m not sure if you have heard of Abdul Hadi and Khawaja. He is one of the most prominent human rights activists that have been detained by the Bahraini regime. Now Al Khwaja is one of the regime’s most hated dissidents (probably right after Mushaima and Singece who are the leaders of the banned opposition group Haq). They have been trying to get rid of him and get him to stay quiet for years. Their biggest problem they have with him, (other than the fact that he exposes their crimes) is that unlike a lot of the prominent dissidents in Bahrain, he is calling for the downfall of the entire regime and for the establishment of a republic. He has been doing it for years and he just never ever shuts up. Now this has lead them and their pro-government supporters as an extremist, a terrorist, and most hilarious of all, as a person calling for the creation of an Islamic Iranian style theocracy in Bahrain. Well the funny thing is, according to a wikileaks cable, the Crown Prince himself calls Al Khawaja secular. In fact he repeats this so much that it has lead me to believe that the entire regime knows very well that Al-Khawaja would never ever call for an Islamic republic. Here is the link to the wikileaks article in case you are interested
By the way, Al-Khawaja’s daughter was the one who went on a hunger strike and wrote an open letter to Obama. I believe that he is being put on trial now.”  
PS The daughter calls her blog The Angry (Female) Arab

Egypt-Israel gas pipeline fire could rage for days, sources say
Explosion rocks natural gas terminal, disrupting supply to neighboring Israel and Jordan, following the second armed attack on Egypt gas pipelines since February.

Egyptian youth call for million-man marches to support Palestinians
A call for “million-man” marches in support of the Palestinians has been made by Egypt’s Coalition of the Youth of the Revolution. The first march, to be held in Alexandria on 13 May, will also demand the opening of the Egypt-Gaza border for food, medical and humanitarian aid; marchers will head for the Israeli Consulate in the city.

Photos: Protesting the Israeli Embassy
The Israeli Embassy in Giza, a once impermissible area to hold protests during the godforsaken days of Mubarak, has recently been a hotspot of demonstrations organized by Egyptian youth. They started weeks ago with a spontaneous demo that marched from Tahrir to the embassy in response to the attacks on Gaza. They are rallying to call for an immediate stop to the the brutal attacks on the collectively punished civilians of Gaza strip, and the expulsion of the Israeli ambassador and severing ties with the Zionist state. Protesters held banners that read “Here is the Palestinian embassy” (below left) and waved the Palestinian flags high (below right).

Another protest against the Israeli occupation embassy in Cairo

Egypt’s socialist network keeps the spirit of the revolution alive
Much of the old regime is still in place in Egypt – the Popular Alliance’s aim is to make people aware of alternatives. With September’s parliamentary elections just around the corner, Egypt’s revolution is in a vulnerable phase. Without clear, progressive direction based on the values forged in Tahrir Square, there is a real possibility that remnants of the old system will re-establish a grip on power.

The new Egypt: go tell the Zionist hoodlums
“The attack comes at a particularly delicate time as the Egyptian public — freed from restrictions that had been imposed by the government of President Hosni Mubarak — has aired anger more openly at Israel and at its own government’s handling of the original pipeline deal. It also comes as the Egyptian authorities have lost some control over the North Sinai after many police officers pulled back during the political turmoil surrounding the ouster of Mr. Mubarak in February.”

My comrades, my heroes in Egypt
“Labour movements are continuing the revolution today. Their flagship cause has become the ongoing strikes in Shubra el-Kom, where disgruntled textile workers are calling for the nationalisation of their factory, which was sold to Indonesian owners at a fraction of its value in an example of the institutional corruption fostered by Mubarak. The Popular Alliance has seized upon this, using the protests as a recruiting ground – highly effectively – and identifying itself with the struggle. Should the workers be triumphant, it would set a precedent for public ownership of hundreds more companies, while cementing the socialists as the workers’ representatives. The Alliance has built on union demands to advocate a raft of populist reforms such as subsidised housing for the poor, free education and greater local representation through city presidents. These connect neatly with the core demands of the revolution for social justice, freedom and democracy, which will have cross-demographic appeal.”

Egypt’s Years Of Repression Give Way To New-Found Voice
CAIRO (Reuters) For decades, authoritarian rule and police brutality ensured the only voice heard from Egypt was that of its leaders. Since popular protests deposed President Hosni Mubarak, the silent majority has erupted into a cacophony. Emboldened by the success of their uprising, almost everyone in post-Mubarak Egypt, from Western-educated professionals to illiterate farmhands to once-banned Islamists, has something to say about their nation’s past and future.

Gaddafi forces regain Libya’s western border
Rebels forced to abandon post on Tunisian frontier as border town of Zintan comes under rocket attack by Gaddafi forces.

Gates hints at killing Gadhafi
US Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Tuesday that Libyan military command centers “wherever we find them” are legitimate targets for U.S. and NATO air attack, suggesting that “strongman” Moammar Gadhafi himself is increasingly in danger.

Ex-CIA chief: Kadhafi was good partner
The former chief of the CIA on Tuesday praised Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi’s past cooperation and said his downfall could complicate US interests in the short term.

Gaddafi arms Libyan ‘home guard’ – minimum age 17
Regime in Libya trains civilians in use of AK-47s in attempt to build resistance to Pro NATO Enemy Combatants

Shots, explosions heard in Libyan rebel stronghold
BENGHAZI, Libya, April 28 (Reuters) – Explosions and bursts of gunfire were heard in the rebel stronghold of Benghazi in eastern Libya on Thursday, a Reuters correspondent said. The cause was not immediate clear. Some residents had attributed an earlier outburst of gunfire to a possible clash between feuding local families. Young Benghazi men often fire guns, and occasionally rocket propelled grenades, into the air as an act of defiance against Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, whose forces were expelled from eastern Libya in a February uprising.

Libya Death Toll Could Be As High As 30,000: U.S.
WASHINGTON — The death toll in Libya after more than two months of violence could reach as high as 30,000, an Obama administration official said Wednesday. Gene Cretz, the U.S. ambassador to Libya, said it is very hard to gauge how many people have died in strongman Moammar Gadhafi’s crackdown on protesters and the subsequent fighting between rebels and pro-government forces.

Nato fire ‘kills Misrata rebels’
A stray Nato air strike kills at least 11 rebel fighters in the besieged Libyan port of Misrata, say reports, as intense fighting with pro-Gaddafi forces continues.

Battle for Libya: Uprising in Nalut
For more than two months, a battle has been raging between Muammar Gadaffi’s forces and opposition fighters in the Nefusa mountain range of western Libya. More than 30,000 residents have moved across the border to Tunisia. Al Jazeera’s Anita McNaught went to the town of Nalut to meet the people testing their new sense of freedom – and the risks that come with it.

Fighting continues in Libya’s Misurata
Rebels say humanitarian deliveries affected in besieged city, as battles rage for control of port rage on.

Libya rebels battle for Misurata airport
Fighting continues after Libyan leader’s forces are pushed back from city’s sea port.

Libyan rebels to free five Gaddafi soldiers
BENGHAZI, Libya, April 27 (Reuters) – Libyan rebels will free five captured Libyan soldiers loyal to Muammar Gaddafi, a senior rebel spokesman said, in a goodwill gesture aimed at boosting the rebels’ credibility internationally. Libya’s opposition forces hold as many as 32 Libyans and 72 foreign mercenaries captured during fighting in the uprising that began in mid-February, Abdel Hafiz Ghoga, spokesman for the rebel National Council, said.

U.S. gives limited support to rebel government in Libya
The U.S. will encourage other nations to line up behind the Transitional National Council, but continues to wrestle with whether it should extend recognition to the Libyan group. The Obama administration gave an official blessing to the chief Libyan opposition group Wednesday, opening the way for closer ties but not necessarily recognition as the country’s legitimate government.,0,5393485.story

Children bear brunt of Libyan conflict
With the conflict raging on in Libya, education is suffering, especially in the rebel-held areas. From schools to unversities, everything is shut. Some students and teachers are on the frontline in the battle against government forces. Al Jazeera’s Omar Al Saleh has more from Benghazi.

As conflict drags on, food supplies run low in Benghazi
Fears of looming food shortage have grown since the World Food Programme warned that food stocks would run out in two months.

Three Syrian soldiers killed, 15 injured by “terrorists”
A military source said ” extremist and terrorist groups” attacked some Syrian army units Tuesday along the road leading to the occupied Golan Heights, killing three soldiers and wounding 15, the official SANA news agency reported.

Syrian soldiers ‘switching allegiances’
Reports are coming out of Syria that some soldiers are siding with the anti-government protesters. Amateur footage is said to show that some troops have been shot at from within their own ranks for refusing to fire upon protesters in the city of Deraa. Al Jazeera cannot independently verify the footage, which is said to have been shot on Wednesday. Imran Khan reports.

Syrian ruling party members defect en masse
More than 200 Baath Party members announced their resignation Wednesday in the largest expression of dissent since the party came to power in 1963.

UN fails to agree on Syria condemnation
Security Council members remain divided on US-backed statement condemning violence against protesters.

Dozens arrested in Syrian town
Residents say security forces raid homes in the mountain town Madaya, amid reports of soldiers switching allegiances.

Al Jazeera suspends Arabic service operations in Syria
DUBAI, April 28 (Reuters) – Qatar-based satellite channel Al Jazeera said it had suspended some operations in Syria, in a move a media watchdog said was the result of restrictions and attacks on its staff. A spokesman for the network told Reuters the suspended operations were from the channel’s Arabic language service. The U.S.-based Committee to Protect Journalists said the network had told it Damascus had subjected Syrian employees to sustained pressure to resign from the news channel.

“Protesters Want Changes to Syria’s Power Structure,” Landis on NPR
The Assad family, which has ruled Syria for the last 40 years, belongs to the Alawite religious sect, an offshoot of Shia Islam. It includes only 12 percent of the country’s population. Syria expert Joshua Landis talks to Steve Inskeep about how the family has maintained its power.

Syrian Communist Party (Unified), “Stop Violence Now and Start National Dialogue!”
The ongoing tragedy only benefits the enemies of Syria, the enemies of our national project that is guiding the country, the enemies who are promoting the American and Zionist project in the region, as well as the forces who do not want the process of reform to deepen and expand. Our party, which keenly feels the responsibility for our country, believing that Syria belongs to all its citizens and that every drop of blood of its sons and daughters is precious, calls for a national dialogue to marginalize the advocates of sedition and division, based on broad and direct participation of all, of not only the parties of the Progressive National Front but also other national forces outside the front, a dialogue that includes representatives of economic enterprises, civil society organizations, cultural and intellectual associations, labor unions and professional associations, religious leaders and other figures of national stature, all who cherish Syria and its national unity, in order to achieve the following objectives. . .

From Aleppo
“As I was walking through Suleymaniyya yesterday, a upper class Christian neighborhood in Aleppo, I stumbled across a protest that was taking place.  Based on their chants, it was a mix of opposition and supporters of Bashar, although the latter was bussed in and quickly outnumbered the former.  Weirdly enough, I haven’t found anything about it in todays news, although it’s possible that most news sources have effectively given up on Aleppo.  I’ve heard that Syrians have begun mocking Aleppans for their reluctance to join in on the protests, even denying some Aleppo plated cars gas in other cities.  A friend of mine here says that one of the main reasons there are so few protests in Aleppo is the lack of Alawites.  As she puts it, there’s no “friction” here between the Alawites and everyone else, i.e. they don’t see firsthand the absurd social privileges Alawites receive.”

Muslim Brotherhood
Any alliance or deal with Muslim Brotherhood by any leftist or progressive should be rejected categorically.  This organization can’t be trusted.  Those who will trust the Brotherhood will face the same fate like those Iranian leftists who trusted Khumayni’s empty assurances before the Revolution.

UAE targets activists as clampdown widens
Six civil society activists are arrested and the government takes over a rights organization in the United Arab Emirates. The arrest of six civil society activists and the government’s takeover of a rights organization in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) are part of a worrying clampdown on dissent in the country, Amnesty International said today. Five of the activists were among more than 100 signatories of a recent petition calling for democratic reforms in the UAE, according to local media reports.

Yemeni president must be held accountable over rights violations
Yemen’s power-transfer deal must not allow immunity against prosecution for human rights abuses. The Yemeni president and his political allies must not be given immunity from prosecution as the price for ending the country’s spiralling human rights crisis, Amnesty International said today. Following months of protests against his 33-year rule, President Ali Abdallah Saleh is expected to agree a deal to transfer power to opposition leaders and step down 30 days later.

Gunmen Kill 10 in Yemen Anti-Government Protests
Plainclothes gunmen killed 10 people and wounded dozens more in Yemen’s capital Wednesday when they opened fire on protesters demanding the immediate ouster of the president, whom Gulf Arab mediators want to ease from power.

Saudi Arabia
Two bloggers arrested in Saudi Arabia
Will this make the news in the West? Two Saudi bloggers arrested?

Saudi propaganda
Saudi propaganda is very funny indeed.  Not only that they are audacious enough to offer advice on how to construct democracies in Arab countries, but they play with the facts and headlines in a funny way.  The headline of the mouthpiece of Prince Salman and his sons, Ash-Sharq Al-Awsat (one of the most vulgar of the various propaganda sheets of House of Saud and STDs) talks about “mass resignations” from the Syrian Ba`th party, and then you read that 30 members resigned (followed later by 200 according to the paper). But there are around 200,000 Ba`th members in Dir`ah alone.  Of course, people join the Ba`th party in Syria like people joined the Communist Party in USSR: for advancement and career opportunities and opportunism (there were some 17 million members in the Soviet Communist Party before the fall of communism).

Riddle of Riyadh
How Saudi Arabia seeks to shape the Middle East.

Arab spring pushes Palestinian rivals Hamas and Fatah to reconcile
But many are skeptical that the accord will hold, given that huge differences remain between Fatah and Hamas, and Israel is strongly opposed to Palestinian unity.

New trends in Arab politics
I expect that some features of Arab politics from the 1960s and 1970s will make a comeback.  States that opened up, like Egypt and Tunisia, may experience plots and assassinations.  Decades-long frustrations are destined to have an impact, here and there, and maybe everywhere.  The second bombing of the gas pipeline to Israel is only a beginning.  Israel has been an actor for decades, while Arabs were forced to watch.  Tables will be reversed.  Israel will begin to watch a show that it won’t enjoy.  The political trends are clear: from North Africa to Gulf.  The counter-revolution is in full force, to be sure, but it suffers from a major weakness: it is led by House of Saud and sons of Zayid, for potato’s sake.

Aljazeera’s standards
The main complain about Aljazeera’s coverage is not that it covers Arab upheavals but that in only covers selectively and that it lowers its standards.  Any person can call and claim to be a “witness in Syria” and he would be put on the air and allowed to say anything.  One pro-regime Syrian tested that theory: he was put on the air, and then went on to curse Aljazeera and the Emir of Qatar.  (The obscenities would offend your ears so I did not provide the clip).  Now former Aljazeera anchor woman, Luna Ash-Shibl (who hosted the program For Women Only), who resigned with four other female anchors over accusations of gender insensitivity spoke to a pro-Syrian regime news channel.  She criticizes the the network but her remarks are not credible because she is an unapologetic advocate for the regime, and she advances wild conspiracy theories of the Arab revolutions, stating that they were all manipulated by the US and Israel.  If only Arabs know how much Zionists would like us to believe that we are too weak and too impotent to chart our own destiny.  Enough with those silly conspiracy theories that maintain that some Zionist organizations plotted the Arab upheavals.  If that is the case, why Arab Zionists freaking out?  Are you kidding me??  Zionists would get rid of Theodor Herzl before they get rid of Husni Mubarak.

Memo From Cairo: Embattled Arab Leaders Decide It’s Better to Fight Than Quit
The lesson autocrats are taking from the Arab Spring is that those who quit, like Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, face humiliation, while those who continue to use force gain leverage.

Worries about the Arab Democratic Renaissance, Hasan Afif El-Hasan
The struggle for the future of the Arab nations has just begun. The best thing that can be said about their uprising is that it was truly ‘made in the Arab lands by the Arab youth.’ The West including the US can influence events but they learnt from the war on Iraq to do so quietly, behind the scenes. The West especially the US cannot be a reliable supporter of democracy unless its interests are served.

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