Monday, January 31, 2011

There is no kill switch on digital communication

"Foreign telecommunications companies are helping to provide Egyptians with Internet access over fixed phone lines after the Cairo government's shutdown of online and cellular services.
French Data Network of Paris announced on its website Monday that it had activated old and little-used dial-up options for those cut off from their usual mobile networks. The Egyptian government has shut down most of the country's Internet access in an attempt to thwart coordination of protests against the authoritarian regime of President Hosni Mubarak.
The Geneva-based Internet Society estimates that at least 90%  of Internet networks in Egypt are out of service.
Some foreign mobile phone service providers, including Vodafone Group and France Telecom, have restored coverage after initially complying with Cairo government orders to suspend service.
Also, the two Egyptian Internet sites used most often by the opposition Muslim Brotherhood, Ikhwanonline and Egypt Window, were being updated regularly, the British Broadcasting Corp. reported.
Despite the official attempts at isolating the protesters, demonstrations have been mounting and leaders of the coalescing opposition have managed to get the word out that a million-man rally is planned for Cairo on Tuesday."

More on digitally driven asymmetric conflict (what a complicated name)

"However, in digitally driven asymmetric conflict the leaders of a nation state are greatly weakened.  At the same time, there may not be any agreed or authoritative spokesperson(s) for the demonstrators to nurture and to hold accountable for a smooth and safe transition to the required result. Therefore, such forms of leaderless revolution may inevitably lead either to chaos immediately or in the short term.  Inevitably there is compromise, an attempted unsustainable solution, and then chaos again, until a new strong leader or leadership team emerges.  This process may be all for the good in the long run, but it will definitely be painful in the short term.

When Zhou Enlai, the first Premier of the People's Republic of China between 1949 and 1976, was asked for his assessment of the 1789 French Revolution, he said, "It is too early to say!" 

Read more:

It actually has a name

"Self-assembling dynamic networks" is one phrase we should all memorise to prepare ourselves and to understand 2011. This phrase encapsulates the defining aspect of both the year ahead and the years to come, as we embark on the second decade of the 21st century. Whether we act as individuals, families, communities, businesses, government departments or organisations, there can be no question that we have to listen, learn and adapt according to the massive paradigm shift created by self-assembling dynamic networks and their by-product: boundary-less tribalism."

They can delay but they can't run away

"Commodities traders have warned they are seeing the first signs of panic buying from states concerned about the political implications of rising prices for staple crops.
However, the tactic risks simply further pushing up prices, analysts have warned, pushing a spiral of food inflation.
Governments in Asia, the Middle East and North Africa have recently made large food purchases on the open market in the wake of unrest in Tunisia which deposed president Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali.
Resentment at food shortages and high prices, as well as repression and corruption, drove the popular uprising which swept away his government."

Western liberal left shows its ugly face

What are the implications for the Middle East?

Egypt is the most populous Arab nation and, as the first to sign a peace treaty with Israel, a major Middle Eastern player. A change in regime could have a big impact on the fragile peace process. But the biggest fear is of a domino effect, similar to what happened in eastern Europe in 1989, when a successful uprising encourages other "people power" movements, leaving Arab autocrats nervous and oil prices in flux.

And for the west?

As reflected in the mild comments from Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton on Friday, western politicians need to achieve the right balance between backing the people's legitimate demands and protecting their own interests. It is not good for western powers to lend their support to autocratic regimes. But it is in no one's interest to have a political vacuum in countries where extremism and violence can flourish and where much of the world's oil reserves are managed.
This is from the UK Guardian. They are actually justifying autocratic Arab regimes and are more worried about Israel than about freedom, democracy and the Arab people. I can't say I'm surprised, bloody hypocrite racist colonials, which ever shade of pink they chose to wear. Never trusted them anyways. 

Food in Egypt today

Both Anne and Marcy fed me those links about shortages in Egypt. I have to say they come from different classes: I very much doubt the unemployed poor are concerned about ATMs not having money. in them. But then again, they wont tweet it would they? 

"Food prices rising v quickly now. So too petrol & phone cards. But yet to find an ATM in Cairo that has any money left #Egypt"

and later:

"No ATM's making life hard for all but at least we have credit cards. Most Egyptians use cash. Many feeling v much under siege #Egypt "


"People need bread, and I will provide it no matter what. I live nearby and there’s sleeping room in the attic for my employees. Today, we're staying open as long as we have to."

The revolution shall not be starved

I think the US and Israel are more concerned about the revolution in Egypt than Mubarak himself. They see the end of the US and Israeli order imposed through tyrans and dictators. And they are right: Obama will witness the end of the US influence in the Middle East and this is going to be added to his long list of failures. He is failing because he is a wishy-washy shifty individual who really believes that ruling the world is like being the mayor of Chicago, and that you can say something and do something else and al will be fine at the end. 

US arrogance is clearer than ever these days. They do not care to hide it any more. They want to dictate to the Egyptian people how they should lead their revolution. And they are now making positive signs about the "wish of the people" and the "rights of the people" as if they really cared about the people when they supported dictatorships and fed them and helped them oppress that same "people" for over 30 years. 

My reading of the situation is the following: The US and its allies have given up on Mubarak, and they are trying to find an alternative that wil protect their interests in the region. They are toying with a number of options, which include voicing criticism of violent repression should this happen, but eventually turning a blind eye if the armed forces of repression in Egypt decided to take the matter in their own hands and squash the revolution. I believe the army is not neutral, it is just waiting to see what is the best course of action it can take so that it can preserve its privileges and its influence. 

But my feeling is that the US has decided that they could live with a transition to a non-army government as long as it is sympathetic to their interests (and we know what these are, and Israel comes on top of the list). I tend to believe that they are promoting Al Barade`i as a choice candidate and that the Arab regimes are not opposed to this choice. This is why he received the green light yesterday to finally move in with the demonstrators in Tahreer square where he was accompanied by his son (do I detect an early positioning for succession here?). Even Al Jazeera, which has played a tremendous role in informing about the protests, reported about the event as if the messiah had been spotted among the protestors. Its reporters wouldn't stop saying: "Al Barade`i has spoken". The man himself appeared overwhelmed and not fully understanding what was going on. He said he was ready to lead a new government when no one asked him to do that, certainly not the people in the street, who do not yet have a clear organizing structure. 

What I hear from Egypt, from people who are actively participating in the Revolution, is that there is no leadership structure yet and that it is certainly NOT the Muslim brotherhood of the Youth of 6 April who are at the helm. Leaders are spontaneously emerging in neighborhoods, and they are forming committees that are in charge of organizing the protests and the protection from looters. 

The question that keeps nagging me is: how are the people on the street surviving? How are they feeding themselves and their families? How are they dealing with basic needs? Even if there is food (and other necessary items) available for purchase, they must be in need on money and resources as many live on a day by day basis. The more protracted the protests, the more people will need basic necessities. This could be part of the repression plan, to wait until the protestors cannot afford to remain in the streets. Maybe it is time to start raising funds to feed the revolution. 

Sunday, January 30, 2011

What I hate most

Hillary Clinton speaking about Egypt and saying: "We would like to see...". What arrogance!.

Tunis: Ghanouchi returns

My contact in Tunis sent me this latest update:

Bénéficiant des changements récents en Tunisie, de la démocratie, du droit à un passeport et de la liberté de créer un parti politique, le leader du mouvement islamiste el Nahdha, Rached Ghanouchi est de retour à Tunis. Il vivait en exil à Londres depuis les années 90. Condamné à mort par Bourguiba en 1987, il a été gracié par Ben Ali puis condamné par celui ci à la prison à vie par coutumace en 1992. Aujourd'hui, bien que les entrées à l'aéroport soient limitées aux passagers, un comité d'acceuil l'attend avec des banderoles. En espérant qu'il respectera lui aussi les acquis récents qui ont permis son retour!

Egypt, O Mother of the World مصر يا أم الدنيا

Today is going to be critical for Egypt. The appointment of Omar Sulayman, the head of Mubarak's terror apparatus, the infamous mukhabarat, the man of Israel and the US in Egypt, the man who is widely believed to have plotted and conspired against the Lebanese Resistance and who planted sleeping cells in Lebanon, the appointment of this man as the successor of Mubarak when Mubarak leaves (because he will), is a clear signal. The regime is telling the people: I do not take your demands seriously, I am looking for a way to squash your movement with force and violence and oppression. This is why this appointment is not, as many have written, a compromise, a sign that the regime is giving in. Quite the contrary, it is a sign that the regime is about to enter into an open war against its own people, and no means will be spared. I expect the repression will receive support by the US and Western Europe and other countries under their domination.

The first signs of the repressive plan of the regime were the withdrawal of the police forces from the streets, and the sudden appearance of looters. The citizen, with the help of off-duty police officers, organized themselves to prevent the pillaging of homes and public institutions. A few of the looters were caught and admitted to be members of the government forces, ordered to go on rampage. This is a classic, and Ben Ali tried to use that to get the army to shoot (more) protestors. This provides the excuse for cracking down on people and shooting to kill.

Concurrently, the regime has imposed a curfew, but no one is responding. The big problem of the regime is that people are not demanding the departure of Mubarak only, they are demanding a new, democratic regime, and no cosmetic changes will be accepted. Millions of people are still in the streets, and they have received broad support from all classes of society, actors, writers, scientists. Except big business people. These, as I had predicted yesterday, have started to flee the country by the private plane load, first to Dubai to wait a bit and then to wherever they have stashed the money they have stolen from the people of Egypt. Al Jazeera has just reported that 7 private planes have left the Cairo airport tonight, among them the Sawirus family plane. Good riddance.

The big unknown remains the army. How will it react? So far, it could go either way, and it could even split. There are pictures of soldiers being chummy with the protestors and not enforcing the curfew. But Omar Sulayman wields power in the army and he is said to be a ruthless man.

Courage Misr. The Arab people looks up to you and you show us the way. The road is long and tough but you shall prevail, o mother of the world, ya umm al dunia. 

Demonstration in front of the Egyptian embassy in Beirut yesterday

Tunis: Citizenship, Equality, Dignity

Tunis on Saturday: March for dignity, citizenship and equality. From my friend in Tunis

"Aujourd'hui à Tunis, marche pour la citoyenneté, pour l'égalité et pour la dignité.  Certes, le statut des femmes est relativement avancé mais des progrès sont encore nécessaires pour l'égalité, pour maintenir et renforcer notre place dans la société. La revendication de la laïcité a provoqué une réaction agressive d'un groupe d'hommes qui nous a dit "dégage". Un peu d'humour: Explication donnée par un passant à qq qui demandait pourquoi la manif: c'est les femmes qui manifestent pour avoir le droit d'avoir 2 hommes."

Saturday, January 29, 2011

How the Egyptian comrades broke the communications siege

هكذا تصدّى «البوسطجي» للحصار الإعلامي

كارلوس لطوف ــ البرازيل
نظام مبارك شلّ كل وسائل التواصل، ليحكم الخناق على الانتفاضة الشعبيّة في مصر. لكنّ الناشطين استعملوا الفايسبوك لنشر الأخبار وتنظيم الاحتجاج
جمال جبران
صنعاء ـــ «كفاية بقى» قالتها السلطات المصرية في وجه «فايسبوك» منتصف ليل الخميس. ومنذ ذلك الوقت، لم نعد نشاهد مشاركات الأصدقاء من داخل مصر على صفحاتهم التي كانوا يستخدمونها للتنسيق، وتحديد أماكن التجمّع في «يوم الغضب».
قطع نظام مبارك خدمة الإنترنت عن مصر، وتابع بقطع خدمة الهواتف الخلوية التي تسمح بتصفح الإنترنت عبر أجهزة داعمة للخدمة. لكن «مين اللي يقدر ساعة يحبس مصر» كتب مطيع من اليمن على صفحته على «فايسبوك»، لاعباً دور «البوسطجي»، ومستفيداً من خبرته بصفته مهندس اتصالات ليعرض كيفية إجراء اتصال عبر الإنترنت باستخدام الهاتف الأرضي عن طريق الـ«دايل آب». في الطرف الآخر، كانت منى اللبنانية تكتب على صفحتها أرقاماً هاتفية يمكن توصيلها إلى داخل مصر، ومن خلالها إرسال تطورات الأحداث أولاً بأول لنشرها، إضافة إلى تدوينها تنبيهاً مهماً: «لا تستخدموا هذه الأرقام للاتصال تحت أي ظرف. ابعثوا لنا الأخبار برسائل نصية فقط». آخرون بدأوا يعرضون حيلهم لفتح «النت» من مصر.
من جهة ثانية، برزت «شبكة رصد» ( RNN) مايسترو حقيقية في نقل الأخبار الطازجة. برزت مع الانتفاضة يوم 25 كانون الثاني (يناير)، واستطاعت الصفحة أن تضمّ في عضويتها حتى مساء أمس نحو 353 ألف شخص. هؤلاء نقلوا بدورهم ما يُكتب على الصفحة من أخبار عاجلة إلى صفحاتهم مع ذكر المصدر.
لدى إنشاء الصفحة، اعتقد كثيرون أن «شبكة رصد» أنشأها فريق من جماعة «6 أبريل» المصرية التي أسهمت في الإعداد ليوم 25 كانون الثاني (يناير). لكن بعد إكمال قطع شبكة الاتصالات عن جميع المدن المصرية، واستمرار الصفحة في بث رسائلها على «فايسبوك» و«تويتر»، تزايدت التساؤلات عن مكان محرري الصفحة. عندها كتبوا: «البعض فاهم إننا في مصر. الفريق اللي بيحرر الصفحة دلوقتي كله بره مصر. والخبر اللي بنحطه بنكون واثقين فيه جداً، وبيكون من جوا مصر». ورغم عدم التأكد من المعلومات التي تنشرها الصفحة، إلا أنّ مواصلة الشبكة نشر أخبارها العاجلة التي لم تتعارض مع الأخبار الواردة تباعاً عبر المحطات الإخبارية، منحتها صدقيّة كبيرة ووضعتها في مقدم الصفحات الأكثر متابعة ومساهمة في فك الحصار على مصر.
لم تتوقف عملية الإفادة من «فايسبوك» هنا. بل وصل حد الإعلان عن تنظيم الفعاليات الاحتجاجية على النظام المصري. من كندا، كتبت الشاعرة المصرية إيمان مرسال على «شبكة رصد»: «وقفة في إدمونتن، ألبيرتا في كندا، يوم السبت 29 يناير الساعة 12، في ميدان وينستون تشرشل».
لقد أدّت «ثورة الكرامة» التونسية إلى الإضاءة على تغييرات جذرية في طريقة تعامل الشباب مع هذه الشبكة الاجتماعية، ما ينقض تماماً الدعاية الرسمية التي طالما شنّفت آذاننا بنظريّات على وزن «دول شوية عيال بيلعبوا ع النت». يذهب فيلم دايفيد فينشر «الشبكة الاجتماعية» قريباً للتنافس على الأوسكار. سيحدث هذا في وقت يذهب فيه الشباب العربي لحصد جوائزه الخاصة... على هيئة ثورات هذه المرة.
العدد ١٣٢٧ السبت ٢٩ كانون الثاني ٢٠١١

J'ai fait un reve

A translation of my post "I had a dream" by Nidal. 

I had a dream

Egypt has not slept tonight and neither have I. I had dreams about the change that is sweeping through the Arab World, and about the hopes that the revolutions in Tunisia and in Egypt and the protests in Jordan and Yemen have instilled in each one of us Arabs.

The first outcome from the Arab People's Revolutions is the realization of the extent and the strength of Arab identity. Just switch on Al Jazira, or look at the overwhelming solidarity expressed in the Arab countries, in spite of the attempts by some media outlets and by governments (Arabs and Western) to downplay it. For many decades, the notion of the "end of the Arab identity" has been prevailing in Western thought. This notion had been constructed and peddled in the Empire, and was parroted by Arabs who sought to ingratiate themselves with the global rulers. Invented by Zionists and imperialists who used it to dissect and divide in order to better rule and conquer, the idea went mainstream and became part of popular culture, to the extent that many Arabs who wanted to wear a white mask over their brown faces repeated it like a mantra. In Lebanon, of course, this is at the heart of the issues the country has with itself, and the debate whether the Lebanese are Phoenicians or Arabs stil rages in school classrooms today, my kids tell me.

The other thing to come out of the revolutions is the clear message that, also in spite of what racists-orientalists would like us to believe, the Arab people is NOT a defeated people, and that it does NOT genetically favor dictatorships, and that being ruled by force in NOT the Arabs utmost wish. The reason why Arabs have been beaten by Israel and why Palestine is still occupied and why dictatorships flourished is the that the Empire and its Israeli thugs have been supporting Arab totalitarian regimes whose sole function is to crackdown on their own people. And these regimes are crumbling. I believe that the Lebanese Resistance has played a tremendous role by lifting Arab spirits: a small organized but poorly equipped group (compared to what the Israelis have access to) was able to beat the US and Israel thrice: They ended the occupation of Lebanon in 2000, they kicked Israel and the US's ass in 2006 and they quietly and constitutionally and democratically thwarted the US and Israel's and their Arab puppets attempts to isolate and destroy the Resistance with a political tool called the International Tribunal. In 2000 and 2006, the Resistance made Arab people proud to be Arabs on the battlefield. Part of this is being expressed today. This is precisely why the Empire and its guard dogs needed to destroy the Resistance so badly. Too late now.

A third outcome has been to expose the imperialist "democracies" and their bias. And I am not talking here only about the governments. The media as well as many cultural institutions and intellectuals are party to that. We have known throughout of course, that what Samir Amin calls the Triad of collective imperialism (the US, Western Europe and Japan) held a hypocritical discourse on democracy and used it as a tool for control of the people of the South and especially in the Arab World. But this time, the blunders have been blatant. It is a bit like the wikileaks phenomenon: it tells you nothing you did not know, it just gives you the irrefutable arguments to expose it. Look at the French who tried to support the Ben Ali regime! Look at the Western press and its differential treatments of the revolutions of Tunisia and Egypt compared to the Green Revolution in Iran. Oh I am so tired of incompetent Western Journalists who pontificate about countries they have never lived in or sometimes even visited and who canot speak 10 words of the language and who rely for their analysis on a few sentences gleaned here and there in upmarket bars or in dinner parties. If you're reading this, let me assure you: you have no credibility, you are just a fraud and you know it. Look at the US who sent Jeffrey Feltman to Tunisia to try to take over the Jasmine revolution. He was kicked out of Tunisia, kudos to our comrades there! Look at Obama's speech about Egypt yesterday: while the Egyptian people are dying in the streets demanding the end of a 20 years old dictatorship funded and protected by the US, Obama wants to keep the regime and to encourage "reforms". You will have reforms soon Mr. President, after the regime collapses, and the first reform will be the cancellation of the peace treaty with Israel. But I expect the struggle to be protracted, as the Israelis and the US and their allies and acolytes and puppets have a lot at stake here: Egypt is the largest Arab Nation, the most powerful and it historically sets the pace of the Arab revolutions. The Empire will fight hard and dirty.

Fourthly, I cannot help but noticing the concern and fear in the eyes of the party of power and money in the Arab World. I am not talking here only about the regimes, I am talking about the tiny class of globalized capitalists who have been milking our countries dry and have been accumulating wealth from the exploitation of the poor. These are worried. They are suddenly realizing that there are other people in the Arab countries where they live, and that these people outnumber them and that they are not so docile anymore, in spite of the repression apparatuses they gladly support. They see that outside their air conditioned cars and their gated communities and their protected shopping malls, there are people who live and who are not just waiters or valet parking attendants. They are worried they will lose their luxurious lifestyle, which they can only afford because the money they pile up is not redistributed. These are people who think of themselves in the same way the pro-apartheid Whites in South Africa once did, because they live in their own class-based apartheid. In their private conversations and not so private newspapers they talk about the "differences in culture" between them and the "others". They point to the "other's" (who is also usually also the "Arab"), lack of "civilization" (preferably in French). And they say: "this country will stop being livable if the riff-raff takes over". Well you know, this is exactly what many white South Africans used to say, and look where they ended up: out. So get your Cannes, Nice, Marbella mansions cleaned up, you may soon be moving there, out of your own free will.

Friday, January 28, 2011

يا مصر قومي وشدي الحيل O Egypt rise!

I have been singing this song in my head all night while the Egyptian heroes were confronting the Moubarak repressive forces. This is an old song by the great Sheikh Imam, poetry by Nagib Shihab. The first few lines say (I will try to provide a better, complete translation later)

O Egypt rise and gather your strength
I can make your wishes come true
Neither oppression nor darkness will make me fold
Aman Aman Bayram Effendi

يا مصر قومي وشدي الحيل
كل اللي تتمنيه عندي
لا القهر يطويني ولا الليل
آمان آمان بيرم أفندي

رافعين جباه حرة شريفة
باسطين أيادي تأدي الفرض
ناقصين مؤذن وخليفة
ونور ما بين السما والأرض
يا مصر عودي زي زمان
ندهة من الجامعة وحلوان
يا مصر عودي زي زمان
تعصي العدو وتعاندي
آمان آمان بيرم أفندي
الدم يجري في ماء النيل
والنيل بيفتح على سجني
والسجن يطرح غلة وتيل
نجوع ونتعرى ونبني
يا مصر لسه عددنا كتير
لا تجزعي من بأس الغير
يا مصر ملو قلوبنا الخير
وحلمنا ورد مندي
آمان آمان بيرم أفندي
يسعد صباحك يا جنينة
يسعد صباح اللي رواكي
يا خضرا من زرع إيدينا
شربت من بحر هواكي
شربت من كاس محبوبي
وعشقت نيل أسمر نوبي
وغسلت فيه بدني وتوبي
وكتبت إسمه على جلدي
آمان آمان بيرم أفندي

Egypt: protests go on, Moubarak gets ready to join Ben Ali

The cartoon sent to me by my Tunisian friend says: After Ben Ali out, Moubarak out. And in the bubble:  "If you bring with you Bouteflika and Kadhafi, I'll give you a group rebate".

A new government in Tunisia: tonight's report

My Tunisian friend sent me this moments ago:

Un grand ouf de soulagement ce soir avec le nouveau gouvernement:

Je t'envoie une photo prise il y a 2 jours, sur la place du gouvernement occupée par des groupes venus de partout et un dessin qui illustrent l'ambiance

Voilà 2 semaines que Ben Ali a quitté la Tunisie, poussé au moins en partie par la rue et nous ne faisons plus la une des journaux. Nous avons manifesté tous les jours partout dans le pays, parfois au même endroit avec des banderoles contradictoires. Le travail a repris, l’humour fleurit. Certains brulent les documents, d’autres font des photocopies. Ce soir, encore le couvre feu « version allégée ». 

Depuis près de dix jours le gouvernement maintient une partie des ministres de Ben Ali, certains acceptent par crainte du chaos ou d’un régime militaire mais d’autres ne sont pas d’accord. Des groupes venus de toutes les régions de Tunisie occupent la place du gouvernement, bloquant l’accès du premier ministère et du ministère des finances. Hier ils ont été attaqués par les milices. Il pleuvait sur Tunis, ils ont eu froid et faim, ils ont été blessés, ils ont tenu bon.

Grace à eux, nous avons enfin un vrai nouveau gouvernement. Merci à eux d’avoir oser rêver pour nous. 

Thursday, January 27, 2011

It's getting hot but its not global warming

The Tunisian Jasmine revolution did not spark the wave of protest that has taken over the Arab World, but it has catalyzed the boldness of the protestors and increased the level of their demands. Now people are shouting "down with the regime" when previously people wanted lower food prices, better services, higher wages, or, at most, the dismissal of the government and its replacement with what would eventually turn out to be a similar government.

Yesterday in Egypt protests went on in spite of the heavy handed response by the forces of oppression of the Mubarak regime. People filled Tahrir square shouting "down with the tyran". Demonstrations are stil going on. The Mubarak regime might well fall and the son of the pharaoh has reportedly fled to London. There has been plenty written about this in the mainstream press, as Egypt is the model child of the US for being the first Arab nation to sign a peace agreement with Israel. What a failure. Meanwhile, Jeffrey Feltman, the man who has fomented all the trouble of Lebanon, is trying to dilute the Tunisian revolution. He was kicked out and has gone to Paris where he met members of the March 14 forces. What a diplomatic failure this man is. Not that I'm unhappy about it.

The Israelis are watching closely the events in the region and they are worried, and they should be: lok at the political landscape. First Tunisia where the fallen regime was ultra sympathetic to the Israelis, then Lebanon where the government has changed hands and is now strongly influenced by the Resistance, Palestine where the Palestinian Authority is quickly losing credibility du to the latest Palestine leaks which show the PA to have become an outfit at the service of the Zionist project, and Jordan where the wave of protests against the cost of living and poverty are quickly gaining momentum. Soon, the Israelis will have no friends left in the Arab world and things will go back to normal. Israel is a colonizing entity and must be treated as such, through rejection and isolation. The situation will soon become such that even a mega war (Israeli specialty) won't be able to turn the tables in their favor. Israel's days are numbered, as my comrade angry arab keeps repeating.

But Arab dictatorships will fall before. In Sanaa, there are today demonstrations against the regime of Ali Abdallah Saleh and the police is arresting students. A demonstration is planned in Jordan for tomorrow. Algeria has declared that it wil start importing wheat in order to reduce the prices in order to avoid further protests (wheat prices have peaked worldwide and are now higher than during the food crisis of 2008). Kuwait is spending USD 4 billions ($3,572 to every citizen) to keep them quiet. In the UAE the authorities have arrested 70 migrant workers on charges of attempting to organize 3,000 workers to demand an increase in wages.

Meanwhile, there are a couple of issues that are worthy of mention. One is that while the internet and information technology were not the decisive factor in the success of the Tunisian revolution, they certainly played an important role in sharing knowledge and in organizing. The same can be said for the events in Egypt. Two is that wikileaks has initiated a new leaks movement: In Lebanon we have had the TruthLeaks, a collection of recordings from the International Tribunal's investigations aired by New TV. These were damning for a number of politicians. And how can one forget the Palestine leaks, documents  published by Al Jazira showing that the Palestian Authority was a party in the assassination of Palestinian activists and knew about the Gaza onslaught before it happened, and is ready to concede to the Israelis the rest of historical Palestine.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Excellent analysis of the current food crisis

"No one can claim that we could not see this coming. In fact, ever since the severe price crunch of mid 2008, there have been those who argued that unless major changes were made both in national policies towards agriculture and the way in which we manage the global trade in both agricultural commodities and their futures markets, such a repeat would be almost inevitable.

But the world is a curious place nowadays, with public memory so short as to be almost non-existent and media analysis (as well as public policy) still dominated by those who have comprehensively messed it up but have no sense of shame. So the same tired old reasons for the current food price increase are being trotted out once again, even though they were completely wrong two years ago and are wrong again today." (Thanks Daniel)

Lebanon update: the morning after

So the day of anger called by the Future Movement has ended, and the country has entered a new phase with the appointment of Mikati as prime minister. 

First about the street demonstrations: as comrade Asa`ad put it (I am paraphrasing) Elsewhere in the Arab World, they demonstrate for freedom and in Lebanon they demonstrate for the sectarian leader. And indeed this is what went on. In Tripoli, a few thousand people collected from the city and the surrounding regions and brought in uses and probably paid by the Future movement went on a rampage: they burned the Al Jazira car and equipment and forced reporters from various agencies to hide in a building which they later on set on fire. The intervention of the army saved the journalists from being torched alive. During the same time, Future movement leaders where haranguing the crowd with super sectarian slogans, and working it into a state of frenzy. But this should not be surprising: In 2008, people from the same region, led by the same leaders cold bloodedly assassinated patients in a hospital because they belonged to the wrong party/religion. The murderers went unpunished. 

At one point yesterday Hariri came on TV and apologized for the rampage but did not ask people to get out of the street, so it went on. Shots were fired in Beirut and the army was pelted with stones. But on TV one could see that the demonstrators were just a handful, setting old tires on fire in the streets adjacent to their neighborhood, where they were confronting no one.

Then Mikati came on TV and said that he had accepted the appointment and that he will seek the participation of Hariri in the government and will visit him soon. 

Yesterday's events exposed the ugly face of the Future Movement and on the March 14 coalition: a small group of western-dressed neo-cons suavely wielding the most despicable sectarian discourse in order to control masses of poor people they themselves contribute to keeping in poverty, and whom they only remember when they need to pit them against another sect. For these people, humans are just numbers, both economically and politically. 

What is to be expected now? Lebanon will probably pull out from the International Tribunal, which will cease being a tool for destroying the Resistance. While the Tribunal will proceed, it will not have Lebanon's support for now. Israel and the US and Western European regimes suffer another blow here, after the liberation of the south in 2000, the war in 2006, this will be the third time the Resistance and Hizbullah prevail. But this next government must work on bringing together sunnis and shi`a as this sectarian division only serves the US and Israel. So far, and in spite of the "anger", the level of participation of people in the protests does not indicate overwhelming sunni support for Hariri's sulking and sectarianism. The choice of Mikati was very astute, and the fact that other sunni MPs have named him act in his favor. The economic situation is also tense (because of the Hariri group's outrageous neo-liberal agenda) and people are reluctant to stop working and lose income in order to keep a rich kid on his dad's seat. So I don't think we'll see mass protests.

On the more mundane level, Mikati immediately declared his commitment to a "free economy". We're not seeing a socially oriented government any time soon...

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Free economy

Mikati in his acceptance speech for his appointment as prime minister of Lebanon: "I am committed to a free economy and to encouraging foreign investments in Lebanon".

Lebanon update: Apres moi le deluge

I haven't written about Lebanese politics on this blog for a while. Instead, I have focused on Tunisia where the popular uprising is stil full of vigor, and where Jeffrey Feltman the US assistant secretary for near Eastern Affairs and former diplomat in Israel and Lebanon, who has messed up Lebanon a plenty, has arrived for vacations.

Back to Lebanon, where things have been moving fast. Quick reminder: the international Hariri tribunal, now widely discredited as a US-Israeli tool to destroy the Lebanese Resistance (led by Hizbullah) and to pressure Syria and Iran and protect Israel is about to indict members of the Resistance. For a while now, the Resistance and its multi-confessional allies in the Lebanese opposition have been asking Lebanon to formally withdraw from a process that is clearly corrupt, as was made clear by wikileaks and by the taped witness interviews that were allegedly sold to the opposition by members of the tribunal, and by the relationship between Hariri-the-son, prime minister until a few days ago, and the false witnesses of the tribunal. Hariri-the-son has been refusing to bring the issue of the false witnesses to discussion in the council of ministers, but it is when he went to the US to receive direct orders that the opposition members of the Lebanese coalition government resigned, effectively ending Hariri-the-son's tenure as prime minister.

In Lebanon, prime ministers (who must be sunni muslims) are appointed by the president of the republic (who must be a maronite christian) following consultations with members of parliament. The opposition (soon to be the majority) refused to name Hariri-the-son's for PM and put forth the name of Najib Mikati, a (very) rich businessman from Tripoli who promised to work on bringing about national entente and reconciliation. Mikati is an affable person and has never been accused of corruption. But I very much doubt that he will work on the basis of a social justice agenda.

Yesterday's first round of consultation yielded results in favor of Mikati, indicating clearly that there has been a swing in the parliamentary majority in Lebanon. The main agent of change was Walid Jumblat, whose parliamentary group split into two entities, each one giving votes to a different candidate.

An immediate outcome of the consultation process was that Hariri-the-son became very upset, he huffed and puffed and held his breath asking to be given back his dad's PM seat. His goons poured into the street yesterday and stopped traffic in many areas, not least on the southern highway linking Beirut to south lebanon, and which is a major lifeline for the people of the south and for the resistance. The army intervened and tried to keep the quiet. Concurrently, Hariri's cronies were holding a loud sectarian discourse on TV, pushing people towards more confessionalism and extremism, and making it sound as if the parliamentary rejection of Hariri was akin to the oppression of the whole Sunni muslim sect. They declared today a "day of anger", calling for demonstrations and sit ins across the country. Their main allies are Lebanese Forces, led by mass murderer sectarian war criminal Samir Geagea. The Lebanese Forces are bad people, always ready to take to the street and use violence in order to create an atmosphere of fear where they thrive.

Meanwhile, the public of the Resistance, who could swallow Hariri's paid thugs and Geagea's fascists without chewing has kept quiet. Quite commendable. Especially that Hariri's racist followers habitually accuse the Shi'a generally and the Resistance supporters in particular of being "uncultured riffraff who are born on the street and who damage Lebanon's civilized image". Meanwhile, Hariri's temper tantrum has only one explanation: "either me or let Lebanon burn". This was the title of Ibrahim al Ami's column in Al Akhbar today.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Ground Reality

I havent linked to this excellent blog on the politics of agriculture, food and hunger before. (Thanks Nem)

Badael بدائل

Last friday's Badael in al akhbar: food and Arab politics, soujouk and maqaneq and cold cuts...

Monday, January 17, 2011

Un dimanche a Tunis

From L&P correspondent:
"Hier a été une journée presque normale à Tunis, certains commerces ont réouvert et il était possible de circuler et de s'approvisionner presque normalement. A certains endroits il y a encore eu des tirs et des accrochages mais il semble que l'agonie se termine. La nuit, la sécurité a encore été assurée par les habitants (oui sans e, j'avoue :( 
Aujourd'hui nous attendons la formation du nouveau gouvernement en espérant que les intervenants feront preuve de suffisamment de maturité pour oublier leurs divisions.
Nous reprenons le travail ce matin avec un horaire modifié
Je joins un dessin qui circule sur merci pour la solidarité:)"

Bonjour Rami,
Hier a été une journée presque normale à Tunis, certains commerces ont réouvert et il était possible de circuler et de s'approvisionner presque normalement. A certains endroits il y a encore eu des tirs et des accrochages mais il semble que l'agonie se termine. La nuit, la sécurité a encore été assurée par les habitants (oui sans e, j'avoue :( 
Aujourd'hui nous attendons la formation du nouveau gouvernement en espérant que les intervenants feront preuve de suffisamment de maturité pour oublier leurs divisions.
Nous reprenons le travail ce matin avec un horaire modifié
Je joins un dessin qui circule sur merci pour la solidarité:)

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Beirut: Solidarity with Tunisia

اعتصام تضامني مع انتفاضة الشعب في تونس امام الامم المتحدة في بيروت
 صدى صوتكم يا أحبابنا يرن اليوم في آذان شباب لبنان
نظمت لجنة التضامن مع انتفاضة الشعب في تونس- لبنان اعتصاماً امام بيت الامم المتحدة في بيروت احتفالاً بانتصار الثورة التونسية وسقوط الطاغية زين العابدين بن علي.
ورفع المعتصمون في بيروت العلم التونسي ورددوا هتافات منددة بالرئيس المخلوع، كما هتفوا قصيدة ابو القاسمي الشابي "إذا الشعب يوماً اراد الحياة فلا بد ان يستجيب القدر".
وتحدث، منصف بن علي، باسم اللجنة الوطنية للوحدة والعمل في تونس، فشكر كل الذين يقفون مع الشعب التونسي الذي هدفه الحرية والكرامة الوطنية. وشكر المنظمات اللبنانية والرفاق اللبنانيين الذين يقفون معنا دائماً. مؤكداً  ان الثورة التونسية لم تنتهي بعد، فبعد هروب بن علي الى احضان الحكم الملكي السعودي، تحاول عصاباته ترهيب المواطنين وتحاول فرض امر واقع يسعى الى ضرب ثورة الشعب التونسي، لقد تم تأليف اللجان الشعبية في الاحياء للدفاع عن الناس، والغنوشي وحاشية بن علي لازالت تحاول الاستلاء على السلطة، ان معركة الدفاع عن الثورة بدأت اليوم، ودعماً للثورة ودفاعاً عنها نحن نقف هنا اليوم وسنجدد وقفاتنا التضامنية في الايام القادمة. وختم "هذه الثورة انطلقت من القاعدة وحاضنتها الكبيرة المنظمة التاريخية في تونس وهو الاتحاد العام للشغل، واللجنة الوطنية للوحدة والعمل وهي الثورة ستتواصل الى ان تصل الى اهدافها التي حددها الشعب ولم يحددها القادة ولا الاحزاب ولن يرضى الشعب باقل من الحرية والكرامة الانسانية غير المنقوصة.
الشاب التونسي، ادريس مليتي، صب جام غضبه على الانظمة العربية المتحالفة مع بن علي. مؤكداً انها ستلقى نفس المصير الذي لقيه. واضاف:" ان هذه الانظمة لم تكن ولن تكون يوماً حليفة لشعوبها، بل هي عائق اساسي امام تطور المنطقة وتخلصها من براثن الامبريالية والفقر والاستغلال، وان من يظن انه بالامكان اصلاح هذه الانظمة ليس يحاول سوى ان يمنع او ان يحدّ من صعود اي حركة تغييرية تستطيع ان تنقل المنطقة من واقعها الحالي الى واقع ومستقبل افضل".
وقدم مليتي لائحة مطالب باسم الشباب التونسي اهمها تسليم مقاليد الحكم للاتحاد العام التونسي للشغل كفترة انتقالية لحين تنظيم انتخابات حرة مستقلة يشرف عليها الشعب بنفسه. وتحويل نظام الحكم من الرئاسي إلى برلماني، والحد من صلاحيات الرئيس. وحل البرلمان بشقيه مجلس النواب ومجلس المستشارين. وتشكيل لجان من مختلف الفئات للتشاور حول دستور جديد للبلاد يكون فيه الاستفتاء قانون أساسي في المسائل المصيرية. حل حزب التجمع الدستوري الديمقراطي الذي فقد شرعيته التاريخية والدستورية ومحاسبة كل أفراده الذين تثبت التحقيقات تورطهم في قتل ونهب وسرقة أموال الشعب. إلغاء كل الديون الداخلية والخارجية التي ترتبت عن قروض تحصل عليها بن علي لخدمة مصالحه الشخصية وتقوية بنيان حكمه. استعادة كل أملاك الدولة التي هي أملاك الشعب والتي تم بيعها فيها لصالح الشركات الخاصة. تفعيل قانون 2 نيسان الذي يمنع استثمار الأراضي الزراعية من قبل الأجانب أفرادا أو شركات. كما طالب مليتي بسحب كل الدبلوماسيين الموجودين بالخارج الذين يمثلون أزلام النظام السابق بدءاً من لبنان، حيث يجب أن يتم سحب السفير سمير عبد الله والقائم بالأعمال القنصلية لسعد المحيرصي".
كلمة المنظمات اليسارية اللبنانية ألقاها عمر الذيب وجاء فيها:" ها هي إرادة شعب تطيح الطاغية. قبضات مناضلين تهدم عروش الظلم والقهر والقمع. حناجر آلاف وآمال ملايين تجعل من حلم إزاحة الديكتاتور حقيقة تنشر فرحاً في نفوس شعب تونس وفي كل مواطن عربي حرّ ها هو الألم الذي ضرب جسد محمد بوعزيزي من ألهبة النيران يلهب الثورة ويحرق جسد بن علي ويحوله رماداً تبخر بعيداً.
وأضاف الذيب:" نحنا هنا لنعبر عن فرح يختزل تاريخاً من القهر والقمع والاستبداد هزم على أيدي شعب توحد وانتفض وتحرر. ما حصل في تونس هو درس في السياسة لكل الشعوب العربية والشعوب القابعة تحت القهر، وهو مثال ساطع ان التغيير ممكن رغم الصعوبات، وان صوت الشعب مرتفع رغم الصمت السائد، وان النضال النقابي والطلابي ليس ترفاً يمارسه بعض أزلام السلطة بل واجب نضالي يستوجب التضحيات بوجه قوى السلطة لتحقيق المكاسب في السياسة كما في الاقتصاد والمجتمع.
وتابع:" إن لبنان يواجه منذ سنوات طويلة وضعاً إقتصادياً صعباً سببه سياسات أهل السلطة المتعاقبة بكافة تشكيلاتها، وضعاً يستوجب تحركات شعبية مطالبة لا تقل عما حصل في تونس، لذلك نريد من محطتنا التضامنية مع تونس اليوم ان تكون أيضاً وقفة تضامنية مع انفسنا ودعوة من اجل التحرك في الشارع من أجل حقوقنا الأقتصادية، من أجل ربطة الخبز والمواد الغذائية المدعومة وأسعار المحروقات، من أجل حقوقنا في التعليم والصحة والضمان، من أجل وقف الهجرة وحقنا في العمل في وطننا. لذلك ندعوكم الى المشاركة في مسيرة "دافع عن لقمة عيشك" التي ستقام الاحد في 30كانون الثاني الحالي وتنطلق من الكولا حتى السراي الحكومي".
وختم الذيب:" إن صدى صوتكم يا أحبابنا في تونس يرن اليوم في آذان شباب لبنان ونأمل أن يكون شعب وشباب لبنان على قدر التحدي فينتفضون لكرامتهم ولحقوقهم وإن يحققوا جزءاً مما حققتموه.
ها هو بن علي في مزبلة التاريخ السعودية. وها هم تجار الهيكل وورثة الطاغية يتناتشون بقايا النظام برعاية دولية لكن شباب تونس سيكون على قدر التحدي وسيجعل من كل طاغية هارباً آخر إلى أحضان من يحويه من غضب الناس.  لنجعل من كل طاغية بن علي آخر، ولنجعل من كل دولة تعيش القهر تونس أخرى، لنجعل من القمع سلماً لوصول الحرية، ومن الجوع نبراساً لتحقيق الخبز، ومن النار نوراً يضيء درب الشعب الأخرى، وشكراً تونس فقد بعثتِ الآمال من جديد، أضأتِ أحلاماً كانت خامدة،علمتِ الكثيرين كيف تكون الثورة الشعبية".
هذا ومن المقرر أن تنظم لجنة التضامن مع انتفاضة الشعب في تونس- لبنان اعتصاماً امام السفارة التونسية في الحازمية يوم الاربعاء الموافق فيه ٢٦ كانون الثاني ٢٠١١ عند الساعة الرابعة بعد الظهر.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Famine in Niger: a recurrent crisis

"Mais, sur le fond, cette nouvelle « famine » n’a fait que réactualiser une fois de plus les graves problèmes chroniques que connait le pays. Derrière cette crise céréalière et pastorale conjoncturelle, due à de mauvaises pluies au cours de la dernière saison des cultures (juin à octobre 2009), se cachent en fait trois crises de fond, majeures et récurrentes. Une crise structurelle de la production agricole (le pays n’est plus auto-suffisant au point de vue alimentaire) ; une crise structurelle de santé publique (qui se pose à partir de la malnutrition infantile mais va bien au-delà) ; une crise structurelle de l’aide au développement (qui a créé une situation de rente et de dépendance posant plus de problèmes qu’elle n’en résout). Si ces trois crises de fond ne reçoivent pas de solution à plus ou moins long terme, le Niger comme la communauté internationale devront s’habituer à ce que, tous les quatre ou cinq ans le même scénario se reproduise : récoltes déficitaires, appels à l’aide internationale, mobilisation médiatique, arrivée massive de l’aide, avec intervention direct de l’ONU et déferlement des ONG humanitaires, puis retour à la normale… jusqu’à la prochaine crise." (Thanks Karim)

Tunisia: Ben Ali's leaves a bloody trail behind him

This is the latest from Tunis from Land and People's special correspondent

"Journée de nuit terrible
Après avoir quitté le pays, le dernier cadeau (j'espère) etait une nuit d'insécurité Un peu partour pillage et incendies avec temoignages et appels à l'aide en direct à la télé. On avait perdu l'habitude d'exprimer notre vécu et de regarder notre tele
Pour ceux qui ont vécu le 7 novembre, cette fois les choses sont moins organisées, c'est un peu la pagaille et les milices se vengent mais j'espère que c'est bon signe
L'internet vient de revenir et l'aéroport a réouvert mais cette fois on a pas envie de partir:))))
Appel au don du sang a transmettre

Friday, January 14, 2011

Latest from Tunisia

My friend in Tunisia sent me the latest report:

"Ce matin, une manifestation très bon enfant devant le ministère de l'intérieur avec des slogans anti Ben ali mais pas de violence
Vers 15H la situation a complètement changé avec usage de bombes lacrimo, coups de feu, pagailles et morts et blessés En parallèle incendies et pillages sans doute organisés selon les témoins visuels
Ce soir les bonnes nouvelles du départ de Ben Ali avec l'inquiétude de savoir si la constitution a bien été respectée et si révoluion ou au moins évolution il y aura"

Jordan protests

"KARAK, Jordan, Jan 14 (Reuters) - Food price protests sweeping across North Africa and the Middle East reached Jordan on Friday, when hundreds of protesters chanted slogans against Prime Minister Samir al-Rifai in the southern city of Karak.
The peaceful protest was held despite hastily announced government measures to curb commodity and fuel prices. Similar demonstrations were held in three other towns and cities across the country, witnesses said.
"We are protesting the policies of the government -- high prices and repeated taxation that made the Jordanian people revolt," "


"TUNIS — President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali of Tunisia has left the country amid growing chaos in the streets, French diplomats say, and the prime minister went on state television Friday night to say he is in charge."

They're confusing comics with comical

"StandWithUs is on the openly racist end of the mainstream Jewish institutional world. And they’ve given us a new version of an old story-the New Zionist Man (To understand this propaganda in its proper historical context, see below for explanatory text about early Zionism,  Jewish masculinity and Orientalism.)" (From Muzzle Watch)

Wesleyan Professor Alex Dupuy: Haiti Transformed into the "Republic of the NGOs"

Wesleyan Professor Alex Dupuy: Haiti Transformed into the "Republic of the NGOs"

Badael-Alternatives بدائل

In Badael this week, I wrote about wikileaks food and Muhammad Muhsin about fish...


There is deep unrest in nearly all countries of the Arab World. Some of it is connected to the dire economic situation brought about by a combination of repression, ultra-liberalization and corruption, which has made a small group of people absurdly rich and powerful. In order to quell this wave, countries such as Jordan which has witnessed several riots in the past years, have started to subsidized and control the price of food. But there are deeper reasons to the instability, and these will need more than band aid solution and a few trucks of food.

Take Tunisia for example. The hike in the price of basic commodities, especially food, in addition to rampant unemployment may have served as catalysts to the popular uprising, but what is going on goes much deeper than food prices or job crises. It is a loud and resonant “enough” chanted by millions of pulsating throats, in the name of all the Arabs. The dictator’s throne is shaking and with it all the other thrones. His speech yesterday showed how worried and scared he is. And he has reasons to be: today a million people march has been organized in order to topple the regime. The Tunisian people have been spontaneously acting out of despair, and in spite of the tens of dead young people, assassinated in cold blood by Ben Ali's goons. The people in Tunisia are fed up. They have been able to hold their ground in spite of the support offered to Ben Ali by France, the US and Arab regimes; and in spite of the shameful silence of most of the world. Courage. 

The modus operandi of the protestors is unclear (to me) and appears to be diffuse and fluid, without a centralized command center. The use of information technology and social media seems to have been critical as a tool of coordination between the different groups. Cells made up of a small number of individuals are dispersed among the demonstrators. They take concerted action and initiating protests. We may be seeing a glimpse of the way the new popular struggles will be fought. But I cannot help asking myself: what will come after Ben Ali is toppled or forced to resign (if this happens)? While this fluid, structure less approach can prevail in the street, at least for a while, can it produce a political leadership that can take manage a country? This is an important issue, because it begs the ultimate question of “why do we struggle?” Do we struggle to change the regime and replace it with a state that provides social justice? Or do we struggle to topple a dictator, without asking ourselves what comes next? These questions are important for Tunisia, but also for Algeria which is rumbling, for Mauritania, for Egypt where increasing food prices are causing concern and where the people are clearly rejecting Mubarak’s bid to bequest his throne to his family, friends or to Coca Cola.

In Lebanon the opposition (March 8) has sunk the national entente government. The US (and France) are clearly siding with the March 14 who are, one must admit, generally better dressed than the March 8 people. The goal is to destroy the Resistance, led by Hizbullah, so that the Arab dictators can continue to rule and oppress their people. The Resistance, both in 2000 and in 2006, showed the Arab people that one is as strong as one’s will. This does not please Arab dictators, it does not please the US and Israel who want tame and sheepish ay-rabs. Destroying the Resistance is also a precondition to “normalization” with Israel, meaning that Israel will openly help Arab regimes control and oppress their people (Israel is very good at that) in exchange for Palestine and for oil and oil money.

But the Lebanese opposition is formed of sectarian parties, which reduces its effectiveness in bringing about social justice, or rather it cancels it. So where is this all going? Towards another compromise “a la Libanaise”, surely. I just hope the lives of people is spared in the process. Time to reorganize, and to offer a social justice alternative to sectarian politics…

The Hariri International Tribunal, a March 14-Israeli-US tool constructed in order to damage Syria, Hizbullah and any one the US and Israel don’t like, will probably publish its indictment of Hizbullah in the very near future. But it will be neither here nor there. In any case, Hizbullah is already under embargo, on the terrorist list in many countries, and more importantly, the tribunal has been widely discredited, first from Hizbullah’s campaign, but later from the wikileaks releases which showed the level of US interference in its work. In Lebanon, those opposed to Hizbullah as well as its supporters know now that the tribunal is a political tool. Some do not mind using it, but with the full knowledge that it is a political tool.

In Sudan, the Arab World will soon be 700,000 km2 smaller. This is to my mind the most important current Arab debacle. And while the US and of course Israel as well as many countries of the West have been conniving to provoke this secession, it is the lousy Sudanese regimes and the lousier Arab League that will have to bear the historical responsibility. The way successive Sudanese regime have treated the South of the country could only have led to this. And what a deal Omar Bashir must have cut with the US! Soon, they will let him off the hook from the Darfur massacre accusations and they will cross his name from the list of international war criminals, and they will allow him to continue his oppression of the Sudanese people and the build up of his personal wealth. The biggest losers, after Sudan which forfeits a great part of its oil and control over water is Egypt. The Nile water will now be controlled by a new state with open ties with the Israelis who will rush to adopt it. So go figure why Egypt is a supporter of the division of Sudan

Many other important events are going on, and Iraq is still bloodied and occupied by the US of Obama who got a Nobel peace prize for that. I know you know, but it’s always good to remember. 

Night in Tunisia

A dear friend who (understandably) prefers to remain anonymous sent me this update of the situation in Tunis yesterday. I post with permission. Courage Tunisian comrades!

"Je voulais t'envoyer un premier message sur FB mais impossible d'accéder à mon compte ce soir.. ni d'accéder à certains sites alors que le discours de ce soir nous annonçait la liberté d'accès à Internet et beaucoup d'autres choses. il semble que l'ATI n'a pas écouté..

Il y a de quoi devenir fou.. couvre feu et klaxons dans la rue pour célébrer le discours, sites fermés et accès FB bloqués, compte mail professionnel bloqués depuis une semaine..

Chez l'épicier du coin, les gens ont fait des courses pour tenir: Pas de lait, pas de pain, pas de bougies Tout à l'heure il m'a fallu près d'une demie heure pour me connecter.

Bien peu de choses bien sure pour qui vit à Beyrouth

Couvre feu à Tunis ce soir. Entre facebook la télé et les différents blogs... on ne fait plus que ça essayez de suivre et de compter les morts.

Discours présidentiel ce soir en dialectal qui annonce entre autres:
- la fin de la censure sur internet mais ce n'est pas encore appliqué, il faut encore utiliser un proxy
- pas de candidature en 2014 de Ben ali: Ici on dit ya min 3ach
Demain greve generale et manifs à Tunis

Voila ce n'est pas très gai et chez vous aussi si j'ai bien compris"