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ACTION ALERT: Stop the Media Blockade: Allow Americans to View Al Jazeera

January 31st, 2011 - by admin

Ryan Grim / Huffington Post – 2011-01-31 22:26:25


ACTION ALERT: Stop the Media Blockade: Allow Americans to View Al Jazeera Newscasts

Thanks to Al Jazeera, it is now possible to watch a revolution as it unfolds, minute by minute. Watch the online live stream from Al Jazeera English.
ACTION: Readers can demand Al Jazeera English
here. Here are the contact pages for Comcast, Time Warner, and DirecTV.

Al Jazeera Blocked Out for Much of the US
Ryan Grim / Huffington Post

WASHINGTON (January 30, 2011) — Canadian television viewers looking for the most thorough and in-depth coverage of the uprising in Egypt have the option of tuning into Al Jazeera English, whose on-the-ground coverage of the turmoil is unmatched by any other outlet. American viewers, meanwhile, have little choice but to wait until one of the US cable-company-approved networks broadcasts footage from AJE, which the company makes publicly available. What they can’t do is watch the network directly.

Other than in a handful of pockets across the US — including Ohio, Vermont and Washington, D.C. — cable carriers do not give viewers the choice of watching Al Jazeera. That corporate censorship comes as American diplomats harshly criticize the Egyptian government for blocking Internet communication inside the country and as Egypt attempts to block Al Jazeera from broadcasting.

The result of the Al Jazeera English blackout in the United States has been a surge in traffic to the media outlet’s website, where footage can be seen streaming live. The last 24 hours have seen a two-and-a-half thousand percent increase in web traffic, Tony Burman, head of North American strategies for Al Jazeera English, told HuffPost. Sixty percent of that traffic, he said, has come from the United States.

Al Jazeera English launched in the fall of 2006, opening a large bureau on K Street in downtown Washington, but has made little progress in persuading cable companies to offer the channel to its customers.

The objections from the cable companies have come for both political and commercial reasons, said Burman, the former editor-in-chief of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. “In 2006, pre-Obama, the experience was a challenging one. Essentially this was a period when a lot of negative stereotypes were associated with Al Jazeera. The effort was a difficult one,” he said, citing the Bush administration’s public hostility to the network.

“There was reluctance from these companies to embark in a direction that would perhaps be opposed by the Bush administration. I think that’s changed. I think if anything the Obama administration has indicated to Al Jazeera that it sees us as part of the solution, not part of the problem,” Burman said.

Cable companies are also worried, said Burman, that they will lose more subscribers than they will gain by granting access to i>Al Jazeera. The Canadian experience, he said, should put those fears to rest. In Canada, national regulators can require cable companies to provide certain channels and Al Jazeera ran a successful campaign to encourage Canadians to push the government to intervene.

There has been extremely little negative reaction over the past year as Canadians have been able to view the channel and decide for themselves. “We had a completely different process and result here in Canada — a grassroots campaign that was overwhelmingly successful,” said Avi Lewis, the former host of Al Jazeera‘s Frontline USA. (He now freelances for Al Jazeera while working on a documentary project with his wife, Naomi Klein.)

Media critics have begun to push for Al Jazeera’s inclusion. “It is downright un-American to still refuse to carry it,” wrote Jeff Jarvis on Sunday. “Vital, world-changing news is occurring in the Middle East and no one-not the xenophobic or celebrity-obsessed or cut-to-the-bone American media-can bring the perspective, insight, and on-the-scene reporting Al Jazeera English can.”

Al Jazeera follows a public broadcasting model similar to the BBC, CBC and NPR and is largely funded by the government of Qatar, which Burman said takes a completely hands-off approach to content. Al Jazeera is the scourge of authoritarian governments around the Middle East, which attempt to block it. The network, however, covers much more than the Middle East, and now has more bureaus in Latin America than CNN and the BBC, said Burman. “As proud as we are of our Middle Eastern coverage, we are in other places in the world that are never, never seen on television in American homes,” he said.

Burman said that he will use the experience with the Tunisia and Egyptian uprisings in upcoming meetings with cable providers as the network continues its push. Comcast did not respond to requests for comment.

“Why in the most vibrant democracy in the world, where engagement and knowledge of the world is probably the most important, why it’s not available is one of these things that would take a PhD scholar to understand,” Burman said.

UPDATE I: A reader emails to say that Al Jazeera programming is also being carried by the satellite channel LinkTV, which can be found on channel 9410 on Dish Network and 375 on DirecTV.

UPDATE II: Another reader emails to say that Al Jazeera broadcasts over some of the Pacifica stations, including WBAI (New York, 5-6 AM, 99.5 FM), KPFA (Berkeley, 6-7 AM, 94.1 FM) and KPFT (Houston, 5-6 AM, 90.1 FM).

UPDATE III: Comcast spokesperson Alana Davis responded to a HuffPost request for comment. “We do not offer Al Jazeera English on our video service,” said Davis. Asked whether Comcast might reconsider its position, Davis said: “We can’t speculate; however, we regularly examine our channel lineups and talk with a wide range of programmers to ensure that we are bringing the content that our customers want the most.”

UPDATE IV: Free Speech TV shows Al Jazeera Headline News and The Riz Khan show on Dish Network channel 9415 and DIRECTV channel 348, according to a reader.

Stephanie Misar, marketing director with MHz Networks, an independent, non-profit public broadcaster, also provided details as to where and how viewers may be able to find Al Jazeera English. “Viewers can watch full time, 24/7 Al Jazeera English via MHz Networks 5 in the Washington, DC metro on channels: Over the air digital broadcast 30.5, Comcast 275, Cox 474, and Verizon FiOS 457,” she said in an email.

Misar added: “Weekday daily AJE newscasts (8 AM and 7 PM ET) and weekend (7 PM ET) are available on the national channel of MHz Networks, called MHz Worldview, in over 35 million households across the country through our network of broadcast and cable affiliates in:
Los Angeles- KCET;
San Bernardino, CA- KVCR;
Chicago, IL- WYCC;
San Francisco,CA- KCSM;
Washington, DC- WNVC/MHz Networks;
Tacoma-Seattle, WA- KBTC;
Cleveland/Akron/Youngstown, OH- WNEO/WEAO;
Minneapolis, MN- MPS Cable;
Miami, FL- WLRN;
Denver, CO- KBDI;
Orlando-Daytona Beach-Melbourne, FL- WCEU;
Charlotte, NC- WTVI;
Nashville, TN- WNPT;
Salt Lake City, UT- UEN (statewide);
Grand Rapids/ Kalamazoo/Beaver Creek, MI- WGVU;
Spokane/Yakima, WA- KWSU/KTNW;
New Orleans, LA- WLAE;
Las Vegas, NV- Vegas PBS;
Richmond, VA- WCVE;
Flint, MI- WDCQ; Charleston, IL- WEIU;
Plattsburgh, NY- Mountain Lake PBS (WCFE);
Lansing, MI- LCC TV;
Moline, IL (Quad Cities)- WQPT;
Warrensburg, MO- KMOS;
Topeka, KS- KTWU;
Rochester-Austin, MN- KSMQ;
Charlottesville, VA- WHTJ;
St.Paul, MN- St. Paul Neighborhood Network;
Stanford, CA- Stanford University Cable.

“The newscasts are also available on MHz Worldview nationally via DirecTV channel 2183. Channel numbers and service providers are available here.

“One on One with Riz Khan from AJE is also available on our national channel on Sundays at 10:30 AM ET and can be watched via the network of affiliates as well. MHz Networks is an independent, non-profit public broadcaster, bringing international perspectives and programming to globally-minded viewers throughout the United States.”

Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

Who Is Omar Suleiman?

January 31st, 2011 - by admin

Jane Mayer / The New Yorker & Al Jazeera – 2011-01-31 21:33:40


Who Is Omar Suleiman?
Jane Mayer / The New Yorker

NEW YORK (January 29, 2011) — One of the “new” names being mentioned as a possible alternative to President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, Omar Suleiman, is actually not so new to anyone who has followed the American policy of renditions for terror suspects. After dissolving his cabinet yesterday, Mubarak appointed Suleiman vice-president, and according to many commentators he is poised to be a potential successor, and an alternative to Mubarak’s son and intended heir until now, Gamal Mubarak.

Suleiman is a well-known quantity in Washington. Suave, sophisticated, and fluent in English, he has served for years as the main conduit between the United States and Mubarak. While he has a reputation for loyalty and effectiveness, he also carries some controversial baggage from the standpoint of those looking for a clean slate on human rights. As I described in my book The Dark Side, since 1993, Suleiman has headed the feared Egyptian general intelligence service.

In that capacity, he was the CIA’s point man in Egypt for renditions — the covert program in which the CIA snatched terror suspects from around the world and returned them to Egypt and elsewhere for interrogation, often under brutal circumstances.

As laid out in greater detail by Stephen Grey, in his book Ghost Plane, beginning in the nineteen-nineties, Suleiman negotiated directly with top Agency officials. Every rendition was greenlighted at the highest levels of both the US and Egyptian intelligence agencies. Edward S. Walker, Jr., a former US Ambassador to Egypt, described Suleiman as “very bright, very realistic,” adding that he was cognizant that there was a downside to “some of the negative things that the Egyptians engaged in, of torture and so on. But he was not squeamish, by the way.”

Technically, US law required the CIA to seek “assurances” from Egypt that rendered suspects wouldn’t face torture. But under Suleiman’s reign at the intelligence service, such assurances were considered close to worthless. As Michael Scheuer, a former CIA officer who helped set up the practice of rendition, later testified before Congress, even if such “assurances” were written in indelible ink, “they weren’t worth a bucket of warm spit.”

UPDATE: Further documentation of Suleiman’s role in the rendition program appears in Ron Suskind’s book, “The One Percent Doctrine.” Katherine Hawkins, a sharp-eyed human-rights lawyer who did legal research for my book, points out that, according to Suskind, Suleiman was the CIA’s liaison for the rendition of an Al Qaeda suspect known as Ibn Sheikh al-Libi. The Libi case is particularly controversial, in large part because it played a role in the building of the case for the American invasion of Iraq.

In late November, 2001, Pakistani authorities captured Libi and turned him over to U.S. officials at Bagram Air Base, in Afghanistan, for questioning. There he was questioned by two FBI agents from New York who had worked on terrorism cases for years. They believed they were making great headway — getting valuable, actionable intelligence from Libi. But back in Washington, a custody battle broke out between the FBI and the CIA over who should get to lead his interrogation. Suskind writes:

The debate went up to [FBI director Robert] Mueller and [CIA director George] Tenet, and Tenet—appealing directly to both Bush and Cheney — prevailed. Al-Libi was bound and blindfolded for a trip to Cairo, where he’d be handed over to Omar Suleiman, Egypt’s intelligence chief and a friend of Tenet’s.

What happened to Libi in Egypt, while in the custody of the Egyptian intelligence service, is documented in detail in a bipartisan report released in 2006 by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. According to the report, Libi later told the CIA that the Egyptian authorities grew dissatisfied with his level of cooperation, so they locked him in a tiny cage for eighty hours.

Then they took him out, knocked him over, and punched him for fifteen minutes. The Egyptian officials were pressing Libi, who knew Bin Laden personally, to confirm the Bush Administration’s contention that there were links between Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein. In particular, the Egyptians wanted Libi to confirm that the Iraqis were in the process of giving Al Qaeda biological and chemical weapons.

In pushing this line of inquiry, the Egyptians appear to have been acting in accordance with the wishes of the US, which wanted to document its case for going to war against Iraq. Under duress, Libi eventually gave in.

Details from his confession went into the pivotal speech that then-Secretary of State Colin Powell gave to the United Nations in Feburary of 2003, making the case for war.

Several years later, however, after the U.S. invasion of Iraq turned up no such weapons of mass destruction, or ties between Bin Laden and Saddam Hussein, Libi recanted. When the F.B.I. later asked him why he had lied, he blamed the brutality of the Egyptian intelligence service. As Michael Isikoff and David Corn first reported in their book, “Hubris,” Libi explained, “They were killing me,” and that, “I had to tell them something.”

VIDEO: Al JAzeera’s Live Stream

Spy Chief Made Mubarak Deputy
Omar Suleiman is made vice-president of Egypt, but his appointment fails to quell public anger in the country
Al Jazeera

(January 31, 2011) — Omar Suleiman, Egypt’s intelligence chief, has been appointed as president Hosni Mubarak’s first-ever vice-president. The move came after days of violent protests in which tens of thousands had called for the president’s resignation. But the appointment did little to quell the unrest. The man now second-in-command has been working closely with Mubarak during most of the president’s three decades in power.

As the director of the Egyptian General Intelligence Services (EGIS) since 1993, Suleiman has been in charge of some of Egypt’s most sensitive foreign policy issues, including the Palestinian-Israeli peace process.

The 75-year-old has orchestrated a series of albeit short-lived truces between Israel and the Palestinians over the past 10 years and has won the trust of both the US and Israel. But while he may be liked and trusted abroad, many in Egypt consider Suleiman part of Mubarak’s inner circle, and as such a pillar of a corrupt regime.

Military Training
Born to a well-off family in 1936 in the southern Egyptian town of Qena, Suleiman enrolled in Egypt’s premier Military Academy at the age of 18. He later received additional military training in the then Soviet Union. He also studied political science at two leading Egyptian universities.

He took part in the 1967 and 1973 wars against Israel. He also participated in the North Yemen Civil War in 1962, in which the republicans were supported by Egypt and the Soviet Union in their fight against royalists.

In 1995, Suleiman’s advice to Mubarak to ride in an armoured car during a visit to the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, is believed to have saved the president’s life. The two men survived a failed ambush but the car’s driver was killed.

During the 1990s, Suleiman began to crack down on the Muslim Brotherhood, the officially banned but tolerated opposition party in Egypt. He also co-operated with foreign intelligence agencies on cracking down on violent groups, at home and abroad. Among his main targets were homegrown groups such as the Gamaa Islamiya and Jihad after they carried out a string of attacks on foreigners that hit Egypt’s vital tourism industry hard.

Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

Egypt Erupts: A People Defies its Dictator, and a Nation’s Future is in the Balance

January 31st, 2011 - by admin

Robert Fisk / The Independent – 2011-01-31 21:17:48


CAIRO (January 29, 2011) — It might be the end. It is certainly the beginning of the end. Across Egypt, tens of thousands of Arabs braved tear gas, water cannons, stun grenades and live fire yesterday to demand the removal of Hosni Mubarak after more than 30 years of dictatorship.

And as Cairo lay drenched under clouds of tear gas from thousands of canisters fired into dense crowds by riot police, it looked as if his rule was nearing its finish. None of us on the streets of Cairo yesterday even knew where Mubarak — who would later appear on television to dismiss his cabinet — was. And I didn’t find anyone who cared.

They were brave, largely peaceful, these tens of thousands, but the shocking behaviour of Mubarak’s plainclothes battagi — the word does literally mean “thugs” in Arabic — who beat, bashed and assaulted demonstrators while the cops watched and did nothing, was a disgrace. These men, many of them ex-policemen who are drug addicts, were last night the front line of the Egyptian state. The true representatives of Hosni Mubarak as uniformed cops showered gas on to the crowds.

At one point last night, gas canisters were streaming smoke across the waters of the Nile as riot police and protesters fought on the great river bridges. It was incredible, a risen people who would no longer take violence and brutality and prison as their lot in the largest Arab nation.

And the police themselves might be cracking: “What can we do?” one of the riot cops asked us. “We have orders. Do you think we want to do this? This country is going downhill.” The government imposed a curfew last night as protesters knelt in prayer in front of police.

How does one describe a day that may prove to be so giant a page in Egypt’s history? Maybe reporters should abandon their analyses and just tell the tale of what happened from morning to night in one of the world’s most ancient cities. So here it is, the story from my notes, scribbled amid a defiant people in the face of thousands of plainclothes and uniformed police.

It began at the Istikama mosque on Giza Square: a grim thoroughfare of gaunt concrete apartment blocks and a line of riot police that stretched as far as the Nile. We all knew that Mohamed ElBaradei would be there for midday prayers and, at first, the crowd seemed small. The cops smoked cigarettes. If this was the end of the reign of Mubarak, it was a pretty unimpressive start.

But then, no sooner had the last prayers been uttered than the crowd of worshippers, perched above the highway, turned towards the police. “Mubarak, Mubarak,” they shouted. “Saudi Arabia is waiting for you.” That’s when the water cannons were turned on the crowd — the police had every intention of fighting them even though not a stone had been thrown. The water smashed into the crowd and then the hoses were pointed directly at ElBaradei, who reeled back, drenched.

He had returned from Vienna a few hours earlier and few Egyptians think he will run Egypt — he claims to want to be a negotiator — but this was a disgrace. Egypt’s most honoured politician, a Nobel prize winner who had held the post of the UN’s top nuclear inspector, was drenched like a street urchin. That’s what Mubarak thought of him, I suppose: just another trouble maker with a “hidden agenda” — that really is the language the Egyptian government is using right now.

And then the tear gas burst over the crowds. Perhaps there were a few thousand now, but as I walked beside them, something remarkable happened. From apartment blocks and dingy alleyways, from neighbouring streets, hundreds and then thousands of Egyptians swarmed on to the highway leading to Tahrir Square.

This is the one tactic the police had decided to prevent. To have Mubarak’s detractors in the very centre of Cairo would suggest that his rule was already over. The government had already cut the Internet — slicing off Egypt from the rest of the world — and killed all of the mobile phone signals. It made no difference.

“We want the regime to fall,” the crowds screamed. Not perhaps the most memorable cry of revolution but they shouted it again and again until they drowned out the pop of tear gas grenades. From all over Cairo they surged into the city, middle-class youngsters from Gazira, the poor from the slums of Beaulak al-Daqrour, marching steadily across the Nile bridges like an army — which, I guess, was what they were.

Still the gas grenades showered over them. Coughing and retching, they marched on. Many held their coats over their mouths or queued at a lemon shop where the owner squeezed fresh fruit into their mouths. Lemon juice — an antidote to tear gas — poured across the pavement into the gutter.

This was Cairo, of course, but these protests were taking place all over Egypt, not least in Suez, where 13 Egyptians have so far been killed. The demonstrations began not just at mosques but at Coptic churches. “I am a Christian, but I am an Egyptian first,” a man called Mina told me. “I want Mubarak to go.” And that is when the first bataggi arrived, pushing to the front of the police ranks in order to attack the protesters.

They had metal rods and police truncheons — from where? — and sharpened sticks, and could be prosecuted for serious crimes if Mubarak’s regime falls.

They were vicious. One man whipped a youth over the back with a long yellow cable. He howled with pain. Across the city, the cops stood in ranks, legions of them, the sun glinting on their visors. The crowd were supposed to be afraid, but the police looked ugly, like hooded birds. Then the protesters reached the east bank of the Nile.

A few tourists found themselves caught up in this spectacle — I saw three middle-aged ladies on one of the Nile bridges (Cairo’s hotels had not, of course, told their guests what was happening) — but the police decided that they would hold the east end of the flyover. They opened their ranks again and sent the thugs in to beat the leading protesters. And this was the moment the tear-gassing began in earnest, hundreds upon hundreds of canisters raining on to the crowds who marched from all roads into the city. It stung our eyes and made us cough until we were gasping. Men were being sick beside sealed shop fronts.

Fires appear to have broken out last night near Mubarak’s rubber-stamp NDP headquarters. A curfew was imposed and first reports spoke of troops in the city, an ominous sign that the police had lost control. We took refuge in the old Café Riche off Telaat Harb Square, a tiny restaurant and bar of blue-robed waiters; and there, sipping his coffee, was the great Egyptian writer Ibrahim Abdul Meguid, right in front of us. It was like bumping into Tolstoy taking lunch amid the Russian revolution. “There has been no reaction from Mubarak!” he exalted. “It is as if nothing has happened! But they will do it — the people will do it!” The guests sat choking from the gas. It was one of those memorable scenes that occur in movies rather than real life.

And there was an old man on the pavement, one hand over his stinging eyes. Retired Colonel Weaam Salim of the Egyptian army, wearing his medal ribbons from the 1967 war with Israel — which Egypt lost — and the 1973 war, which the colonel thought Egypt had won.

“I am leaving the ranks of veteran soldiers,” he told me. “I am joining the protesters.” And what of the army? Throughout the day we had not seen them. Their colonels and brigadiers and generals were silent. Were they waiting until Mubarak imposed martial law?

The crowds refused to abide by the curfew. In Suez, they set police trucks on fire. Opposite my own hotel, they tried to tip another truck into the Nile. I couldn’t get back to Western Cairo over the bridges. The gas grenades were still soaring off the edges into the Nile. But a cop eventually took pity on us — not a quality, I have to say, that was much in evidence yesterday — and led us to the very bank of the Nile.

And there was an old Egyptian motorboat, the tourist kind, with plastic flowers and a willing owner. So we sailed back in style, sipping Pepsi. And then a yellow speed boat swept past with two men making victory signs at the crowds on the bridges, a young girl standing in the back, holding a massive banner in her hands. It was the flag of Egypt.

Egypt’s Day of Crisis
*President Mubarak’s regime called in the army and imposed a curfew after tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets demanding an end to his rule.
*Large numbers of protesters defied the curfew in Cairo to storm the state TV building and the Foreign Ministry.
*The headquarters of the ruling National Democratic Party were set alight.
*Protesters chased riot police away from Cairo’s main square. Some police are reported to have removed their uniforms to join the demonstrators. Tanks and troops were ordered to retake the square.
*At least 20 people were killed in violent clashes in Egyptian cities.
*Nobel Peace laureate Mohamed ElBaradei was put under house arrest after being hosed by water cannon.
*Mobile phone and internet services were disrupted to prevent social networking sites such as Facebook being used to orchestrate protests.
*Mr Mubarak announced he will form a new government this morning. He has asked his cabinet to resign.
*US President Barack Obama made a televised address in which he revealed that he told Mr Mubarak he must deliver on reforms.

Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

Mega Protest’ Planned in Egypt: Call for a Million Marchers on Tuesday

January 31st, 2011 - by admin

Al Jazeera – 2011-01-31 03:16:21


Defiance in Cairo’s Tahrir Square
(January 29, 2011) — Large mass of demonstrators gather in Cairo day after violent clashes with security forces left more than 100 dead.

Soldiers guard state TV

‘Mega Protest’ Planned in Egypt
Al Jazeera

CAIRO (January 31, 2011) — Egyptian protesters have called for a massive demonstration on Tuesday in a bid to force out president Hosni Mubarak from power. The so-called April 6 Movement said it plans to have more than a million people on the streets of the capital Cairo, as anti-government sentiment reaches a fever pitch.

Several hundred demonstrators remained camped out in Tahrir Square in central Cairo early on Monday morning, defying a curfew that has been extended by the army. “It seems as if they are saying: ‘We are here to stay. We are re-invigorating our movement and we are not going anywhere’,” one of Al Jazeera‘s correspondents in Cairo said.

Protesters seem unfazed by Mubarak’s pledge to institute economic and political reforms. Our correspondent said that people feel that such pledges “are too little, too late”.

Early on Monday morning, unconfirmed reports said the police had been ordered back on the streets. “We are expecting a statement by the minister of interior about whether the police are going to return or not,” our correspondent said. “The absence of police has given looters a free rein, forcing ordinary citizens to set up neighbourhood patrols. Many people are wondering where the police disappeared to.

“There are two schools of thought as far as the police are concerned: One is that many of them decided to join the protesters. The other is that the regime was saying to the people, ‘You want to protest. We’ll pull back the police and you feel what anarchy feels like’,” our correspondent said.

A day earlier, Mohamed ElBaradei, a leading opposition figure, joined thousands of protesters in Tahrir Square. The former head of the International Atomic Energy Agency told the crowd on Sunday night that “what we have begun cannot go back” referring to days of anti-government protests.

The National Coalition for Change, which groups several opposition movements including the Muslim Brotherhood, wants ElBaradei to negotiate with the Mubarak government. “The people want the regime to fall,” protesters chanted as ElBaradei walked to the centre of the square, holding hands with some demonstrators.

Jail Breaks
The show of continued defiance by the people came on a day when air force fighter planes flew low over Cairo along with helicopters and extra troop lorries appeared in the central square. As the protests continue, security is said to be deteriorating and reports have emerged of several prisons across the country being attacked and of fresh protests being staged in cities like Alexandria and Suez. Thirty-four leaders from the Muslim Brotherhood were freed from the Wadi Natroun jail after guards abandoned their posts.

The protesters in Cairo, joined by hundreds of judges, had gathered earlier in Tahrir Square in the afternoon to demand the resignation of Mubarak.

Al Jazeera‘s correspondent, reporting from the scene, said that demonstrators confronted a fire truck, at which point army troops fired into the air in a bid to disperse them. He said the protesters did not move back, and a tank commander then ordered the fire truck to leave. When the truck moved away from the square, the thousands of protesters erupted into applause and climbed onto the tank in celebration, hugging soldiers. Main roads in Cairo have been blocked by military tanks and armoured personnel carriers, and large numbers of army personnel have been seen in other cities as well.

Our correspondent said that extra military roadblocks had been set up in an apparent attempt to divert traffic away from Tahrir Square, which has become a focal point for demonstrators.

“It’s still a very tense scene to have so much military in the capital city of the country.”

‘Anxious’ Israel Backs Egypt Regime
Al Jazeera

TEL AVIV (January 31, 2011) — Israel has called on the United States and Europe to curb their criticism of president Hosni Mubarak in a bid to preserve stability in Egypt and the wider Middle East, an Israeli newspaper reports. The Israeli daily Haaretz newspaper reported on Monday that the foreign ministry, in an urgent special cable, instructed its ambassadors to key countries, to “stress … the importance of Egypt’s stability”.

Increasingly, president Mubarak has been isolated by swift and at times harsh criticism from Western leaders. It is unclear how angry Egyptians will interpret Israel’s apparent support for their government. The protests in Egypt have reportedly thrown the Israeli government into turmoil, with military officials holding lengthy strategy sessions, assessing possible scenarios of a post-Mubarak Egypt.

Binyamin Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister, said on Sunday that his government is “anxiously monitoring” the political unrest in Egypt, his first comment on the crisis threatening a government that has been one of Israel’s key allies for more than 30 years.

Israeli officials have remained largely silent about the situation in Egypt, but have made clear that preserving the historic 1979 peace agreement with the biggest Arab nation is a paramount interest. The peace deal, cool but stable, turned Israel’s most potent regional enemy into a crucial partner, provided security on one of its borders and allowed it to significantly reduce the size of its army and defence budget.

‘Anxiously Monitoring’
“We are anxiously monitoring what is happening in Egypt and in our region,” Netanyahu said before his cabinet’s weekly meeting on Sunday. “Israel and Egypt have been at peace for more than three decades and our objective is to ensure that these ties be preserved. At this time, we must display responsibility, restraint and utmost prudence,” Netanyahu added.

It was the first high-level comment from Israel on the Egypt protests, which began last week with disorganised crowds demanding the resignation of Mubarak and have grown into the most significant challenge to Egypt’s autocratic regime in recent memory.

Ehud Barak, the Israeli defence minister, discussed the situation in Egypt with Robert Gates, the US defence secretary, on Sunday, according to a statement from Barak’s office. No details of the discussion were released. Over the weekend, Israel evacuated the families of its diplomats from Cairo and security officials began holding urgent consultations.

Israel’s primary concern is that the uprising could be commandeered by Egypt’s strongest opposition group, the Muslim Brotherhood, and its allies, who would presumably move Egypt away from its alignment with the West and possibly cancel the peace agreement with Israel. “[…] Israelis, have been overtaken by fear: The fear of democracy. Not here, in neighbouring countries,” Sever Plocker, an Israeli commentator, writes in the daily Yediot Ahronot. “Its as though we never prayed for our Arab neighbours to become liberal democracies,” Plocker writes.

The benefits to Israel of peace with Egypt have been significant. In the three decades before the peace agreement, Israel and Egypt fought four major wars.

Defence Calculations
Israel now spends nine per cent of its gross domestic product on defence, Shueftan said – compared with 23 per cent in the 1970s, when a state of war with Egypt still existed. Where Israel once deployed thousands of soldiers along the Egyptian frontier, today there are several hundred. This reduction allowed the Israeli economy to begin flowering in the years after the peace deal, he said. Mubarak has also served as a mediator between Israel and the Palestinians.

If Egypt resumes its conflict with Israel, Israelis fear, it will put a powerful Western-armed military on the side of Israel’s enemies while also weakening pro-Western states like Jordan and Saudi Arabia.

Eli Shaked, a former Israeli ambassador to Cairo, offered a grim assessment on Sunday in Yediot Ahronot. “The assumption at present is that Mubarak’s regime is living on borrowed time, and that a transition government will be formed for the next number of months until new general elections are held,” he wrote. “If those elections are held in a way that the Americans want, the most likely result will be that the Muslim Brotherhood will win a majority and will be the dominant force in the next government. That is why it is only a question of a brief period of time before Israel’s peace with Egypt pays the price,” Shaked wrote.

Egypt-Iran Similarities?
Some in Israel have compared US president Barack Obama’s response to the crisis to that of former US president Jimmy Carter to the Iranian revolution in 1979. Obama has called on Mubarak to show restraint and pass unspecified reforms in Egypt.

“Jimmy Carter will go down in American history as ‘the president who lost Iran’, which during his term went from being a major strategic ally of the United States to being the revolutionary Islamic republic,” Aluf Benn, an analyst in Haaretz, wrote. “Barack Obama will be remembered as the president who ‘lost’ Turkey, Lebanon and Egypt, and during whose tenure America’s alliances in the Middle East crumbled.”

Still, the Obama administration has stopped short of calling for the resignation of president Mubarak, and as of Sunday, the Pentagon continued to have high-level discussions with the Egytian military. Former Israeli general Yaakov Amidror said that in the short term, Israel will face increased smuggling activities in the Sinai peninsula, where the authority of the Cairo government has been further weakened by the unrest.

As a result of Israel’s blockade of the Gaza strip, widely lambasted as inhumane and an obstacle to the peace process, weapons, fuel and other goods enter the Hamas-controlled territory. “They will now try to get in everything they couldn’t get in before,” Amidror said.

Israel captured Sinai in 1967 and then ceded it to Egypt in the 1979 peace deal. The area was demilitarised as part of the agreement. For now, the unrest seems to have had the opposite effect. Gaza smugglers said the supply routes have been disrupted and that they have not received any merchandise from Egypt since Friday, apparently because of difficulties in transporting the goods across Egypt to the Gaza border.

Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

Mohamed ElBaradei Seen as Likely Candidate to Negotiate Egypt’s Future

January 31st, 2011 - by admin

Robert Naiman/TruthOut & AlterNet – 2011-01-31 02:48:36


Political Opposition to Mubarak’s Autocratic Regime
Settles on Mohamed ElBaradei to Negotiate Egypt’s Future

Robert Naiman/TruthOut & AlterNet

(January 30, 2011) — Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood leader Essam el-Eryan said today that Egyptian opposition groups have agreed to back former IAEA head Mohamed ElBaradei to negotiate with the government, Al Jazeera reports:

Egypt’s opposition groups have agreed to support opposition figure Mohamed ElBaradei to negotiate with the government, a leading member of the Muslim Brotherhood said on Sunday.

“Political groups support ElBaradei to negotiate with the regime,” Essam el-Eryan told Al Jazeera.

This move by Egyptian opposition groups potentially offers a peaceful path out of the crisis not only for the Egyptian government, but also for the United States government, which is finding itself the object of increasingly bitter criticism from Egyptians who back the protesters’ call for Mubarak to step down and see the policy of the United States of backing Mubarak as a key obstacle to the realization of their aspirations for free and fair elections.

Failure to take advantage of this opportunity could lead to a bloody showdown in the streets — even worse than what we have seen already — for which the US would bear significant responsibility.

One path to the holding of free and fair elections would be the establishment of a transitional government to prepare the elections. Yesterday, US officials seemed to indicate support for this possibility. The New York Times reported:

Another possibility, American officials say, would be a transitional government led by an outsider, perhaps Mohamed ElBaradei, the former director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, who flew back to Cairo several days ago.


A frequent critic of United States policy, he could form a caretaker government in preparation for an election. As one American official said, “He’s shown an independence from us that will squelch any argument that he’s doing our bidding.”

US officials have said that the Egyptian government should engage in dialogue with the opposition. Now, apparently, there’s a proposal on the table from opposition parties for such dialogue. What the opposition parties want to talk about is establishing a path to free and fair elections — the same thing they have been demanding for months.

The proposal from the opposition parties for negotiations with the government is an opportunity for the US to “put its money where its mouth is.” The US could publicly call upon, and privately pressure, the Egyptian government to respond to the opposition parties’ call for negotiations.

Of course, many want the US government to do much more than this. They want the US and other Western allies of the Egyptian government to publicly condemn Mubarak, publicly call on Mubarak to step down, and indeed to try to force Mubarak out; and many are increasingly frustrated that the US is not even willing to condemn Mubarak.

The Washington Post reports today:
In the streets of Cairo, many protesters are now openly denouncing the United States for supporting President Hosni Mubarak, saying the price has been their freedom. They say the Obama administration has offered only tepid criticism of a regime that has received billions of dollars in US aid.

The New York Times reported yesterday that the US says it does not want to call for Mubarak to step down because 1) it fears losing all leverage with Mubarak 2) it fears creating a power vacuum in Egypt 3) it wants to avoid the perception that the US was “once again” engineering the ouster of a Middle East leader.

Regardless of whether one believes that these stated reasons are the full story, or whether they are also a cover for other US motivations — the Times acknowledges that the administration’s “restraint” is also driven by lack of enthusiasm for “dealing with an Egypt without Mubarak” — these are the stated reasons of the US for not responding to the protesters’ call.

But publicly and privately backing the opposition parties’ call for negotiations would not, on the face of it, trigger any of the stated US objections. It is a very modest demand, totally consistent with previous US statements, which would not plausibly lead to “losing all leverage” with Mubarak; it would not create a “power vacuum”; it would not reasonably lead to a perception that the US was
”engineering” Mubarak’s ouster.

On the contrary: the US would be raising the profile of a particular proposal for negotiations as a way out of the crisis, and increasing pressure on the Egyptian government to respond to it.

No doubt some folks who subscribe to the “cooties” school of international diplomacy may object to any US endorsement of a process that involves the Muslim Brotherhood. But refusing to support this reasonable, pragmatic, and moderate proposal, just because the Muslim Brotherhood also supports it, would be extremely short-sighted.

The Brotherhood brings a lot to the table in its potential to help peacefully establish a consensus government that could supervise elections that the majority of Egyptians would see as legitimate.

And the fact that the Brotherhood is endorsing ElBaradei to negotiate with the Egyptian government on its behalf indicates a key thing that ElBaradei brings to the table: since his return to Egyptian politics, ElBaradei has established a relationship of trust with the Brotherhood.

This is a key asset for ElBaradei, the Brotherhood, and all Egyptians going forward towards the establishment of free and fair elections and of a government that the majority of Egyptians will see
as legitimate.

The US should take advantage of this asset, and of this proposal for negotiations, and act decisively to forestall a bloody confrontation between protesters and forces loyal to Mubarak which could be significantly worse than what we have seen already, and for which the US would bear substantial responsibility.

Robert Naiman is the president of the board of directors for TruthOut.org
© 2011 TruthOut.org All rights reserved.

Egypt on the Brink of Revolution;
Complete Breaking News Coverage

EIN News

WASHINGTON (January 28, 2011) — Egypt’s government has pulled the plug on all Internet and telephone traffic in an effort to quell the violence that today has brought tens of thousands of protesters into the streets. But EIN News’ lines into the country remain open through all of the websites and other sources it continues to monitor.

For a time, Nobel Peace Prize winner and the nation’s leading pro-democracy advocate Mohamed ElBaradei was trapped inside a mosque while riot police fired tear gas. The Muslim Brotherhood has joined the protests today, swelling the numbers.

Meanwhile, spurred by the Egyptian protests, thousands of Jordanians are in the streets demanding the ouster of their country’s prime minister.

For the latest news on Egypt, its president and opposition players go to:





For the latest news on Jordan and its prime minister go to:



About EIN: EIN News has developed one of the world’s leading real time news indexing services. Its systems continuously scan the web, indexing news from thousands of worldwide sources. The data is then filtered according to specific needs, and the processes are supervised by a team of professional news editors.

Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

Mubarak Gives Army Shoot-to-Kill Order: Anger Rises over Use of US Weapons

January 31st, 2011 - by admin

– 2011-01-31 02:46:40


Mubarak Gives Army Shoot-to-Kill Order

CAIRO (January 30, 2011) — Embattled Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has reportedly given his armed forces the authority to shoot-to-kill as anti-government protests gain momentum. Reports say the army has been ordered to shoot when it sees fit. Military helicopters and jet fighters fly over major locations as the numbers of protesters multiply there.

Tens of thousands of people have practically taken over the Tahrir Square in the city center despite heavy military presence, a Press TV correspondent reported. Clashes between demonstrators and police have left at least 150 people dead and thousands more wounded since anti-Mubarak rallies began in Cairo, Suez and Alexandria on Tuesday.

Protesters have one demand and that is the resignation of President Mubarak. They want a regime change and have dismissed Mubarak’s appointment of a vice-president and prime minister.

The Egyptian president has visited an army military operations center on the sixth day of the protests against his regime. Local media say Mubarak has met with top military commanders and troops at their headquarters.

Mubarak’s newly appointed vice president, defense minister and chief of staff have also attended the meeting. No further details have been released.

On Friday, Mubarak ordered the army out to the streets in an effort to maintain control.

Thousands of people across the world have taken to the streets to express support for the anti-government demonstrations in Egypt.

‘US’ Weapons Witnessed in Egypt

CAIRO (January 30, 2011) — A lot of anger has shifted to international influences in Egypt as protesters witness “made in USA” labels on the weapons used against them, says Press TV’s correspondent.

Jihan Hafiz told Press TV that in Egypt “the police used excessive force to disperse protesters” as over one hundred people have already lost their lives in the past days. The report comes as Egypt is bracing for a sixth day of protests against President Mubarak’s rule.

The protesters have dismissed Mubarak’s appointment of a vice-president and prime minister, calling for Mubarak’s ouster. More than 2,000 were also injured in clashes that have rocked Cairo, Suez, and Alexandria.

Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

ACTION ALERT: Mubarak Must Go

January 31st, 2011 - by admin

Jeff Cohen / Consortium News & David Swanson / War Is a Lie – 2011-01-31 02:40:09


Mubarak Must Go
David Swanson / War Is a Lie

(January 30, 2011) — The people of Egypt are working to unseat a murderous dictator who has long been armed and supported by the US government at US taxpayer expense. Mubarak has installed as vice president the man who has overseen the torture of US prisoners at the behest of the US government.

This will not do. Mubarak and his appointees must go, and the people of Egypt must be left free to elect their leaders. Many myths about what this means are dispelled by this recording of a conversation on Friday with Tighe Barry, a US activist with Code Pink, who has been in Cairo, Egypt, all week. audio.

Please contact the White House and encourage President Obama to take the side of Egypt’s people and urge the Egyptian military to refuse illegal orders to attack civilians.
Tel: Switchboard: 202-456-1414 Fax: 202-456-2461

US Cynicism Explodes in Egypt
Jeff Cohen / Consortium News

(January 29, 2011) — In the last year of his life, Martin Luther King Jr. questioned US military interventions against progressive movements in the Third World by invoking a JFK quote: “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.”

Were he alive to have witnessed the last three decades of US foreign policy, King might update that quote by noting: “Those who make secular revolution impossible will make extreme Islamist revolution inevitable.”

For decades beginning during the Cold War, US policy in the Islamic world has been aimed at suppressing secular reformist and leftist movements.

Beginning with the CIA-engineered coup against a secular democratic reform government in Iran in 1953 (it was about oil), Washington has propped up dictators, coaching these regimes in the black arts of torture and mayhem against secular liberals and the Left.

In these dictatorships, often the only places where people had freedom to meet and organize were mosques — and out of these mosques sometimes grew extreme Islamist movements. The Shah’s torture state in Iran was brilliant at cleansing and murdering the Left — a process that helped the rise of the Khomeini movement and ultimately Iran’s Islamic Republic.

Growing out of what M.L. King called Washington’s “irrational, obsessive anti-communism,” US foreign policy also backed extreme Islamists over secular movements or government that were either Soviet-allied or feared to be.

In Afghanistan, beginning before the Soviet invasion and evolving into the biggest CIA covert operation of the 1980s, the US armed and trained native mujahedeen fighters — some of whom went on to form the Taliban. To aid the mujahedeen, the US recruited and brought to Afghanistan religious fanatics from the Arab world — some of whom went on to form Al Qaeda.

(Like these Washington geniuses, Israeli intelligence — in a divide-and-conquer scheme aimed at combating secular leftist Palestinians — covertly funded Islamist militants in the occupied territories who we now know as Hamas.)

This is hardly obscure history.

Except in US mainstream media.

One of the mantras on US television news all day Friday was: Be fearful of the democratic uprisings against US allies in Egypt (and Tunisia and elsewhere). After all, we were told by Fox News and CNN and Chris Matthews on MSNBC, it could end up as bad as when “our ally” in Iran was overthrown and the extremists came to power in 1979.

Such talk comes easy in US media where Egyptian victims of rape and torture in Mubarak’s jails are never seen. Where it’s rarely emphasized that weapons of repression used against Egyptian demonstrators are paid for by US taxpayers. Where Mubarak is almost always called “president” and almost never “dictator” (unlike the elected president of Venezuela).

When US media glibly talk about the Egyptian and Tunisian “presidents” being valued “allies in the war on terror,” it’s no surprise they offer no details about the prisoners the US has renditioned to these “pro-Western” countries for torture.

The truth is that no one knows how these uprisings will end.

But revolution of some kind, as King said, seems inevitable. Washington’s corrupt Arab dictators will come down as surely (yet more organically) as that statue of Saddam, another former US-ally.

If Washington took its heel off the Arab people and ended its embrace of the dictators, that could help secularists and democrats win hearts and minds against extreme Islamists.

Democracy is a great idea. Too bad it plays almost no role in US foreign policy.

Jeff Cohen is the director of the Park Center for Independent Media at Ithaca College, founder of the media watch group FAIR, and boardmember of the new online action group www.RootsAction.org.

Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

Chile to Probe Allende’s Death; CIA Anti-Cuban Terrorist on Trial in Texas

January 30th, 2011 - by admin

Al Jazeera & Associated Press – 2011-01-30 01:14:02


Chile to Probe Allende’s Death
Al Jazeera

(January 28, 2011) — Chile is launching its first investigation into the death of President Salvador Allende, 37 years after the socialist leader was found shot through the head during an attack on the presidential palace.

Allende’s death, during the bloody US-backed coup that brought Augusto Pinochet to power on September 11, 1973, had until now been ruled a suicide.

The investigation is part of an investigation into hundreds of complaints of human rights abuses during Pinochet’s 1973-1990 rule.

Beatriz Pedrals, a prosecutor in the appellate court in Santiago, said on Thursday that she had decided to investigate 726 deaths that had never previously been explored, including Allende’s.

“What has not been investigated, the courts will investigate … This will finally establish what happened,” she said.

‘More than Important’
Chile’s “truth commission” reported in 1991 that the Pinochet dictatorship killed 3,797 people. Most of those cases have been investigated, leading to human rights trials for about 600 military figures and a small number of civilian collaborators.

The task of investigating the previously unexamined 726 deaths now falls on Mario Carroza, an experienced investigative judge who already is handling hundreds of other human rights cases.

Judge Carroza described it as “work that is more than important, a tremendous responsibility”.

He told reporters that he would seek information from a variety of sources, including a judge now investigating the deaths of Allende’s comrades, who disappeared after surrendering to the military outside the palace.

Allende became Chile’s first socialist president when he came to power in 1970 after winning a narrow 
election victory. But his ascent to power was not welcomed by all.

Conservatives in Chile and Washington feared his attempts to pave “a Chilean way toward Socialism” — including the nationalisation of US mining interests — would usher in a pro-Soviet communist government.

Henry Kissinger, US secretary of state under then president Richard Nixon, made quite clear what US intentions were after Allende’s election. “The issues are much too important for the Chilean voters to be left to decide for themselves … I don’t see why we need to stand by and watch a country go communist due to the irresponsibility of its people,” Kissinger said at the time.

Truth ‘Pending’
Allende was found dead in the presidential palace as soldiers supporting the coup closed in and warplanes bombed the building.

An official autopsy ruled that he had committed suicide, although the results have long been questioned by some politicians and human rights groups. Osvaldo Andrade, the president of Allende’s Socialist Party, applauded the decision to investigate.

“Truth and justice remains a pending subject in Chile and whatever is done so that the truth comes out will always be well received by us,” Andrade said. “There remains a deficit of truth and a deficit of justice in Chile and we hope that the deficit becomes ever more small.”

Pinochet governed as a dictator until March 11, 1990, and died in 2006.

Key Government Witness Again Testifies in Posada Trial
Will Weissert / Associated Press

EL PASO, Texas (January 27, 2011) — To the prosecution, Gilberto Abascal is a star witness, proof an elderly ex-CIA operative and anti-communist militant lied about how he sneaked into the U.S. in 2005. To the defense, Abascal is little more than a tax cheat with a history of mental problems.

Both sides agree, however, that Abascal may hold the key to whether Cuba native Luis Posada Carriles — considered former Cuban President Fidel Castro’s nemesis — is convicted of the 11 counts of perjury, obstruction and immigration fraud he faces in federal court in West Texas.

Abascal, a paid government informant, returns to the witness stand Thursday for the fourth straight day. He claimed — and showed snapshots to back it up — that he was on a converted yacht that helped Posada reach Miami from Mexico illegally in March 2005, though Posada told immigration officials he came across the Texas border.

Posada, 82, is accused of lying during immigration hearings in El Paso about how he got to the U.S. and about his involvement in a series of 1997 bombings in Cuba that killed an Italian tourist, saying under oath he wasn’t involved even though he claimed responsibility in an interview with The New York Times. Although Posada spent a lifetime using violence to destabilize communist political systems, he is not on trial for his Cold War past.

Trying to discredit Abascal, Posada attorney Arturo Hernandez on Wednesday introduced a medical evaluation from the Social Security Administration that indicated the witness suffered from “severe schizophrenic symptoms.”
Those stemmed from head injuries Abascal suffered after falling from a building at a construction site in 2000, and he went to a hospital emergency room in June 2004 with hallucinations.

Abascal, a 45-year-old Cuba native who now lives in Miami, said he sometimes suffers from insomnia and depression — but not schizophrenia.

Upon repeated questioning from Hernandez, however, he told the defense attorney: “I’m afraid of you.”

“You’ve had me under surveillance for six years,” Abascal snapped, alleging that Hernandez’s Miami-based firm has watched him.

Abascal is central to the government’s case because he testified that he was on the boat that traveled to the resort island of Isla Mujeres in Mexico, picked up Posada, and helped him slip into Miami — testimony that contradicted Posada’s account to immigration officials that he paid a people smuggler to drive him from Honduras to Houston.
Abascal admitted paying no federal taxes in 2005 and said that, despite his claims of being indigent, he made about $100,000 as co-owner of a Florida chicken farm.

Hernandez also introduced bank files showing Abascal falsely claimed to have no income so he could receive disability payments.

Once in the U.S., Posada applied for citizenship and underwent a series of immigration hearings in El Paso, leading to the charges against him. He has been living in Miami since 2007.

Posada worked for the CIA in the 1960s and helped support U.S.-backed “contra” rebels in Nicaragua in the 1980s. He also was jailed in Panama for a 2000 plot to kill Castro during a visit there.

Cuba and Venezuela accuse Posada not only of the 1997 Cuban hotel bombings, but also of organizing an explosion aboard a Cuban airliner in 1976 that killed 73 people. A U.S. immigration judge has previously ruled that he couldn’t be deported to either country because of fears of torture.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

New Pro-Democracy Protests Erupt in Yemen and Jordan

January 30th, 2011 - by admin

Al Jazeera & Andrew Wander / Al Jazeera – 2011-01-30 01:01:31


New Protests Erupt in Yemen
Al Jazeera

SANA’A (January 29, 2011) — Dozens of activists calling for the ouster of Ali Abdullah Saleh, Yemen’s president, have clashed with government supporters in Sanaa, the country’s capital. Plainclothes police also attacked the demonstrators, who marched to the Egyptian embassy in Sanaa on Saturday chanting “Ali, leave leave” and “Tunisia left, Egypt after it and Yemen in the coming future”.

The chants were referring to the ouster of Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in Tunisia early this month and to continuing demonstrations against Hosni Mubarak, the president of Egypt. No casualties have been reported in the Yemen clashes.

Tawakel Karman, a female activist who has led several protests in Sanaa during the past week, said that a member of the security forces in civilian clothes tried to attack her with a dagger and a shoe but was stopped by other protesters.

“We will continue until the fall of Ali Abdullah Saleh’s regime,” said Karman, who was granted parole on Monday after being held over her role in earlier protests calling for political change in Yemen. “We have the Southern Movement in the south, the (Shia) Huthi rebels in the north, and parliamentary opposition,” all of which are calling for political change, Karman said.

Yemen, one of the poorest countries in the Arab world, faces a growing al-Qaeda threat, a separatist movement in the south and a sporadic rebellion by Zaidi Shia rebels in the north.

‘Day of Rage’
“But what’s most important now is the jasmine revolution,” Karman said, who is also a senior member of the opposition Islamist Al-Islah (Reform) party and heads a rights group, Women Journalists Without Chains. Karman also called for Thursday, February 3 to be a “Day of Rage” throughout Yemen.

Protests have been taking place on a nearly daily basis in Sanaa since mid-January calling for an end to Saleh’s rule which began in 1978. Saleh was re-elected in September 2006 for a seven-year mandate. A draft amendment of the constitution, under discussion in parliament despite opposition protests, could allow him — if passed — to remain in office for life. Saleh had urged the opposition which rejected the amendment, to take part in April 27 parliamentary elections to avoid “political suicide.”

The mandate of the current parliament was extended by two years to April under a February 2009 agreement between the ruling General People’s Congress and opposition parties to allow dialogue on political reform.

The reforms on the table included a shift from a presidential regime to a proportional representation parliamentary system and further decentralisation of government – measures that have not been implemented.

Thousands Protest in Jordan: Demand Prime Minister Step Down
Al Jazeera

AMMAN (January 28, 2011) — Thousands of people in Jordan have taken to the streets in protests, demanding the country’s prime minister step down, and the government curb rising prices, inflation and unemployment.

In the third consecutive Friday of protests, about 3,500 opposition activists from Jordan’s main Islamist opposition group, trade unions and leftist organisations gathered in the capital, waving colourful banners reading: “Send the corrupt guys to court”.

The crowd denounced Samir Rifai, the prime minister, and his unpopular policies. Many shouted: “Rifai go away, prices are on fire and so are the Jordanians.”

Another 2,500 people also took to the streets in six other cities across the country after the noon prayers. Those protests also called for Rifai’s ouster. Members of the Islamic Action Front, the political wing of the Muslim Brotherhood and Jordan’s largest opposition party, swelled the ranks of the demonstrators, massing outside the al-Husseini mosque in Amman and filling the downtown streets with their prayer lines.

King Abdullah has promised some reforms, particularly on a controversial election law. But many believe it is unlikely he will bow to demands for the election of the prime minister and Cabinet officials, traditionally appointed by the king. Rifai also announced a $550 million package of new subsidies in the last two weeks for fuel and staple products like rice, sugar, livestock and liquefied gas used for heating and cooking. It also includes a raise for civil servants and security personnel.

Record Deficit
However, Jordan’s economy continues to struggle, weighed down by a record deficit of $2 billion this year. Inflation has also risen by 1.5 per cent to 6.1 per cent just last month, unemployment and poverty are rampant — estimated at 12 and 25 per cent respectively.

Ibrahim Alloush, a university professor, told the Associated Press that it was not a question of changing faces or replacing one prime minister with another. “We’re demanding changes on how the country is now run,” he said.

He also accused the government of impoverishing the working class with regressive tax codes, which forced the poor to pay a higher proportion of their income as tax. He also accused parliament as serving as a “rubber stamp” to the executive branch. “This is what has led people to protest in the streets because they don’t have venues for venting how they feel through legal means,” Alloush said.

Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

Pressure Builds on Mubarak

January 30th, 2011 - by admin

Al Jazeera & Andrew Wander / Al Jazeera – 2011-01-30 00:41:13


Pressure Builds on Mubarak
Al Jazeera

CAIRO (January 30, 2011) — The United States and other leading European nations have urged Hosni Mubarak, the Egyptian president, to refrain from violence against unarmed protesters and work to create conditions for free and fair elections.

Washington told Mubarak on Saturday that it was not enough simply to “reshuffle the deck” with a shake-up of his government and pressed him to make good on his promise of genuine reform.

“The Egyptian government can’t reshuffle the deck and then stand pat,” State Department spokesman PJ Crowley said in a message on Twitter after Mubarak fired his government but made clear he had no intention of stepping down. “President Mubarak’s words pledging reform must be followed by action,” Crowley said, echoing Obama’s appeal on Friday for Mubarak to embrace a new political dynamic.

‘Recognise Human Rights’
In a statement released in Berlin on Saturday, the leaders of Britain, France and Germany said they were “deeply worried about the events in Egypt”.

“We call on President Mubarak to renounce any violence against unarmed civilians and to recognise the demonstrators’ peaceful rights,” the joint statement said. “We call on President Mubarak to begin a transformation process that should be reflected in a broadly based government, as well as free and fair elections.”

The European trio appealed to Mubarak to respond to his people’s grievances and take steps to improve the human rights situation in the country.

“We recognise the balanced role that President Mubarak has played for many years in the Middle East. We call on him to adopt the same moderate approach to the current situation in Egypt,” the statement said. “Human rights and democratic freedom must be fully recognised, including freedom of expression and assembly, and the free use of means of communication such as telephone and internet.”

Vice-president Appointed
The international messages came hours after Mubarak appointed the country’s head of intelligence to the post of vice-president, in a move said to be a reaction to days of anti-government protests in cities across the country.

Omar Suleiman, once Egypt’s chief spy, was sworn in on Saturday, marking the first time Mubarak has appointed a vice-president during his 30-year rule. Ahmad Shafiq, a former air force commander, was appointed prime minister.

The appointments failed to satisfy protesters in the country, however, as Al Jazeera‘s correspondents in Egypt said that many of those taking to the streets demanded a total change of guard, as opposed to a reshuffling of figures in the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP).

Tens of thousands of people continued to rally in the capital Cairo on Saturday, demanding an end to Mubarak’s presidency.

The demonstrations continued in defiance of an extended curfew, which state television reported would be in place from 4pm to 8am local time.

A military presence also remained, and the army warned the crowds in Tahrir Square in Cairo that if they defied the curfew, they would be in danger.

Al Jazeera talks to Mohamed ElBaradei
About the oncoming anti-government protests across Egypt

Military’s Role
But the protesters in Tahrir Square demonstrated in full view of the army, which had been deployed in the city to quell the popular unrest sweeping the Middle East’s most populous Muslim country since January 25.

Al Jazeera‘s Ayman Mohyeldin, reporting from the capital, said that soldiers deployed to central Cairo did not intervene in the protests. “Some of the soldiers here have said that the only way for peace to come to the streets of Cairo is for Mubarak to step down,” he said.

The number of people killed in protests over the past five days is reported to be in the scores, with at least 23 deaths confirmed in Alexandria, and at least 27 confirmed in Suez, with a further 22 deaths in Cairo. Similar crowds gathered in the cities of Alexandria and Suez on Saturday, Al Jazeera‘s correspondents reported.

In Suez, Al Jazeera’s Jamal ElShayyal reported that 1,000-2,000 protesters had gathered, and that the military was not confronting them. ElShayyal quoted a military officer as saying that troops would “not fire a single bullet on Egyptians”. The officer also said the only solution to the current unrest was “for Mubarak to leave.”

ElShayyal said that 1,700 public workers in Suez had gone on an indefinite strike seeking Mubarak’s resignation.

Cabinet Resigns
Earlier on Saturday, the Egyptian cabinet formally resigned in response to the protests, and Ahmed Ezz, a businessman and senior figure in the ruling NDP also stepped down from his post as chairman of the Planning and Budget Committee. Protesters ransacked and burned one of his company’s main offices in Mohandiseen, an area of Cairo.

Mohamed ElBaradei, a leading opposition figure, told Al Jazeera that protests would continue until the president steps down. He also stressed that the political “system” will have to change in Egypt before the country can move forward.

The former head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) also expressed “disappointment” with the US reaction to the protests, though he stressed that any change would have to come from “inside Egypt.” He said Mubarak should put in place an interim government that would arrange free and fair elections.

Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

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