Tag Archives: Arab Spring

Egypt’s Revolution in Doubt: President Morsi all but declares Self Dictator

Egypt has been plunged into political crisis with President Morsi all but crowning himself dictator as his supporters block the country's high court from challenging his new draft constitution.

Egypt has been plunged into political crisis with President Morsi all but crowning himself dictator as his supporters block the country’s high court from challenging his new draft constitution.

On the 21st of November, Egypt was striding onto the world stage with a bit of new goodwill capital – the props earned with helping to broker a ceasefire between the latest flare up between Israel and the Gaza Strip. As it turns out, there was just a bit more going on in Egypt apart from trying to broker a peace between warring neighbors. There was the threat, for a few hours, that dramatic happenings from the Middle East might calm down for a few hours.

As the sun rose on the 22nd, Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi pivoted to domestic issues. Topping his list was a decree which effectively banned any significant type of resistance to his future decrees, laws, or decisions. The country’s top court was stripped of the power to dissolve the legislation as it tries to draw up a new constitution. With this decree, Mr. Morsi effectively crowned himself as Egypt’s new dictator, leaving the country’s opposition very little recourse in standing in his way.

With a legislative branch dominated by his party & allies, and courts nullified from challenging him, Mr. Morsi is on a path to personally shape the next phase of Egyptian politics, with potentially significant negative effects for the rights of minorities and women.

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Syrian Uprising Becomes Civil War, Moves to Damascus

Rebel advances/uprisings have reached Syria's capital, Damascus. Lacking a fully organized force or front, rebels have taken to blocking key routes in the city.

Rebel advances/uprisings have reached Syria’s capital, Damascus. Lacking a fully organized force or front, rebels have taken to blocking key routes in the city.

Within the past week, the suppression of anti-government protesters and attacks by government forces on a rag tag bunch of army defectors and rebels has morphed into something that more constitutes a civil war. More effective and organized strikes by rebel forces in hot spots in northwestern Syria have now turned into attacks within the suburbs of the capital city of Damascus. The center of power for President Bashar al-Assad’s regime has remained mostly quiet for the bulk of this conflict, though that was violently upended Wednesday as a reported suicide bombing attack struck at the heart of the country’s government:

Defense Minister General Rajha and his deputy, Assef Shawkat, the brother-in-law of President Bashar al-Assad, were reportedly killed on Wednesday in the deadliest assault on government officials since the violence began 16 months ago.Also reported dead were Interior Minister Mohammed Ibrahim al-Shaar and General Hassan Turkmani, a former defence minister and currently Syria’s deputy vice president, who later died of his injuries.

There were additional injuries among other government officials who were at a gathering in Damascus’s National Security building. Two groups - Liwa al-Islam (The Brigade of Islam) and the Free Syrian Army – claimed responsibility for the attacks, though it is rather difficult to validate anyone’s claims on the ground. What can be verified is that the response from Mr. Assad’s side continues to be fierce:

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Progress: Former Egyptian Dictator/President Hosni Mubarak Gets Life Sentence

Former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, 84, has been sentenced to life in prison from charges of complicity during the violent repression of 2011's Arab Spring revolution.

Former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, 84, has been sentenced to life in prison from charges of complicity during the violent repression of 2011's Arab Spring revolution.

Political earthquakes continue in Egypt following the Arab Spring-inspired revolution in 2011. Through largely peaceful protests and demonstrations against the government, the nearly 30 year rule of President Hosni Mubarak was ended and a new day dawned for that country. However, as tens of thousands of Egyptian citizens celebrated victory, their demands were not fully realized: Mr. Mubarak was gone, but he still needed to answer for his crimes. That process began in late May of 2011 when Mr. Mubarak was ordered to stand trial for premeditated murder – relating to the actions of his security forces against the Arab Spring protesters.

Even though the progress of the events to an outsider seem rather linear, and something that could be considered a “slam dunk” case legally, inside the courtroom the prosecution actually had a rather hard time getting as far as they did with conviction – missing out on even greater charges. Mr. Mubarak was found not guilty on ordering the security forces crackdown in the latter days of the revolution, but was found guilty for not stopping it once it had begun. The lack of a conviction on the count of ordering the massacre was helped along by the prosecution never presenting any evidence of it in the first place:

Judge Ahmed Refaat acknowledged problems with the prosecution’s case, which was widely criticised by legal experts.

Prosecutors did not present evidence that Mubarak, 84, directly ordered the killings. But Refaat faulted the former president for not stopping them, and delivered a speech during Saturday’s court session about what he called the “dark days” of Mubarak’s rule.

The judge stressed several times that the protesters last year were non-violent.

“They marched peacefully towards Tahrir Square, demanding justice, freedom and democracy,” he said.

The verdict at first drew an ecstatic reaction from a small crowd gathered outside the Cairo police academy, the site of the trial. Many of the demonstrators had family members killed during the revolution.

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Yemen First Nation to see Arab Spring Failure

Some 66% of Yemen's voting public turned out to end a multi-decade dictatorship. Unfortunately for all their efforts, the only ballot choice was another member of the same party.

Some 66% of Yemen's voting public turned out to end a multi-decade dictatorship. Unfortunately for all their efforts, the only ballot choice was another member of the same party.

Officially on the 25th of February, Yemen became the fourth country to see an overthrow of a dictatorship thanks to the Arab Spring movement. Protests began on the 27th of January last year, demanding government reforms and an end to the single party state that has dominated the country for decades. President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who had ruled the country since 1990, decided to step down and hand over power after being nearly killed in a shelling attack on his compound during some of the more violent stages of the uprising. The end result was an “election” for a new leader, Abd Rabbuh Mansur Al-Hadi, who has gone on to become the country’s new president.

Al-Hadi didn’t have what could be considered a difficult campaign season – in fact he had little of any to speak of whatsoever. He was the only candidate on the ballot and, according to state sources, with some 65% turnout Al-Hadi won the ‘election’ with a 99.8% margin. A vote total that great puts him right there in the upper echelon of products of sham dictatorial elections and illusions of democracy so transparent, only those with their head willingly buried in the sand could miss it.

Sadly, topping the list of having said heads buried in the sand is the United States, which enthusiastically embraced the “election” results:

President Barack Obama called Hadi to congratulate him and to say that the United States “will stand with the people of Yemen as they continue their efforts to forge a brighter future for their country,” according to a White House statement.

“Under President Hadi’s leadership, Yemen has the potential to serve as a model for how peaceful transitions can occur when people resist violence and unite under a common cause,” Obama said, warning that much work still lies ahead.

Before Hadi took power, the Yemeni government had been engulfed in anti-Saleh protests and for years has been fighting al Qaeda militants.

With that official recognition and ceremonies wrapping up to mark the occasion, Yemen becomes the first state to see an outright Arab Spring failure. The most the country was able to do was overthrow one dictatorship for another with a member of the exact same party with, largely, the exact same political infrastructure surviving intact.

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Syria Steps Up Attacks on Protestors, China & Russia Lead UN to Political Stalemate

Anti-government rallies continue in Idlib, Syria, despite continued government crackdowns that have killed hundreds over the weekend and as many as 7,000 in the past ten months.

Anti-government rallies continue in Idlib, Syria, despite continued government crackdowns that have killed hundreds over the weekend and as many as 7,000 in the past ten months.

On the 15th of March last year, the Syrian people entered the Arab Spring movement with mass demonstrations against the dictatorship of President Bashar al-Assad on scales equal to that seen in Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, and others. As one regime after another began to topple, Mr. Assad began a suppression effort against those protesters which wen combined with some concessions would hopefully lead to a peaceful outcome and his ability to remain in power. Ten months later and this policy has long since failed.

Much like the Libyan Civil War in 2011, Western powers appealed to the United Nations in order to provide cover and support for the protesters now turned into revolutionaries who sought to bring down the Assad regime. Libya won support: acting with approval from the Arab League, the United Nations for the first time in history issued a resolution specifically targeting the protection of civilians from an internal conflict, and green-lit international action to support this end. The vote was a bit of a surprise as China and Russia were persuaded to not veto the measure – primary motives being China’s investments in Libyan infrastructure and energy sectors, and Russia’s desire to not see the influence of the European Union continue to spread into northern Africa.

Syria will not see the same level of support from the international community, and for the time being it appears the Syrian rebels will be left to fight on their own. Motives for Russian veto of a weekend Security Council vote range everywhere from protecting a longstanding ally to petty domestic politics:

By bluntly using its veto power to block a United Nations resolution urging Syrian President Bashar Assad to step down, Russia has shown a willingness to defy the West at a scale rarely seen since the Cold War times.

The price Russia will have to pay in international condemnation of its action clearly doesn’t seem excessive to the Russian leaders. In fact, the Kremlin even may hope to reap some dividends both at home and abroad by coming to Assad’s defense.

With Russia’s presidential election just a month away, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, seeking to return to the Kremlin, appears eager to stand up to the United States by protecting a longtime ally. Putin already has given his campaign a distinct anti-American flavor, accusing the U.S. of trying to thwart his bid to reclaim the presidency, so bickering with Washington over Syria would give him an extra chance to consolidate his support among nationalists.

Russia’s relations with the U.S. are in a downward spiral amid a host of disputes, and the discord over Syria wouldn’t bring any dramatic change in the overall picture.

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Newsbyte: Egypt Votes, Canada To Leave Kyoto?, $100bn of Facebook?

In tonight’s edition:

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Newsbyte: Syria Sliding To Civil War, Knives Out For Google, Fishing On Europa

In today’s issue:

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Newsbyte: Top Mexican Official Killed in Chopper Crash, Syria Suspended from Arab League

In today’s issue:

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Newsbyte: Syria Protest Violence, Greece Nears Government Collapse, Antarctic Birthing New Iceberg

Hello & welcome to newsbyte. This will be my attempt to hit on a couple of the bigger stories of the day and attempt to make sense of it all, as much as brevity allows.

Inside this issue:

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Now for a commercial break from Wikileaks

Journalistic hero or a terrorist? Julian Assange, head of Wikileaks, remains under house arrest in England – where he has been since March of this year, attempting to stave off extradition to Sweden on rape allegations.

That case aside, Assange remains with a tremendous amount of political and judicial pressure on him since the release of the U.S. State Department cables in November of last year. While the story of those cables being released has long since faded from a day-to-day news story in the United States – fading as soon as a couple of weeks into the document dump – revelations of information have continued to stir reaction and affect change around the world.

A string of cables released about the U.S. admitting just how corrupt the regime in Tunisia was is regarded as one of the contributing factors to the eventual Tunisian Revolution, which was the opening salvo in what is now known as the Arab Spring.

A 2-day hearing on Assange’s extradition began today. It has been floated that Assange’s extradition from the United Kingdom to Sweden would make him a target for extradition to the United States because of his role in the dissemination of information from the State Department leaks.