Monday, January 31, 2011

African Union Summit Stresses Importance of Peace and Security on the Continent

AU summit stresses importance of peace, security in Africa

Delegates have attended the closing ceremony of the 16th African Union Summit in Addis Ababa, capital of Ethiopia, Jan. 31, 2011

The 16th African Union (AU) Summit ended Monday here with a plan announced that the next summit will be held in Equatorial Guinea, whose president has just taken over the AU rotating presidency.

ADDIS ABABA, Feb. 1 (Xinhua) -- The African Union (AU) on Monday emphasized the importance of peace and security on the continent as the pan-African bloc ended its 16th summit in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa.

Major issues of concern for African leaders included the situation in Cote d'Ivoire, Somalia and Tunisia, according to a document on Africa's peace and security situation adopted by AU heads of state and government during the summit.

On the situation in Cote d'Ivoire, the African leaders expressed their deep concern for the crisis, while encouraging the AU Commission and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to continue with their efforts to find solution to end the impasse.

During the summit, AU's Peace and Security Council decided to set up a panel to deal with the crisis in Cote d'Ivoire. The team is composed of presidents of Mauritania, South Africa, Burkina Faso, Tanzania, Chad, as well as head of the AU Commission and head of ECOWAS.

The panel will evaluate the situation in the West African country, and is mandated to come up with binding solution within one month.

On Somalia, which is going through a crucial transitional period, the African leaders strongly urges the country's stakeholders to broaden and consolidate the reconciliation process, ensure greater cohesion within the Transitional Federal Institutions and complete the outstanding transitional tasks, including the constitutional process.

The war-torn Horn of Africa country has not had a functional central government for two decades. It is currently run by the internationally recognized Transitional Federal Government (TFG), which is protected by AU peacekeepers while facing deadly attacks by Islamist insurgent group of Al-Shabaab.

The country is expected to end its transitional period on Aug. 20 this year.

Meanwhile, African leaders "urgently appeal" to all the Tunisian parties to "work together, in unity, peace, consensus and respect of legality, towards a peaceful and democratic transition," according to the document.

The summit, which has been largely dominated by discussions on Cote d'Ivoire, Somalia, Sudan, Tunisia and Egypt, concluded late Monday after adopting a series of decisions and declarations concerning Africa's development, peace and security.

Imperialist Intervention in Hariri Case Causes Crisis in Lebanon

Imperialist intervention in Hariri case causes crisis in Lebanon

By John Catalinotto
Published Jan 30, 2011 10:07 PM

As of Jan. 24, the Lebanese Parliament is holding discussions to form a new government. A year-old “unity government” containing all political factions fell on Jan. 12, when Hezbollah pulled its people out of cabinet posts.

Hezbollah is both a popular political organization representing the Shiite Muslim community — about 40 percent of the Lebanese — and is the best-organized national liberation organization defending the people of Lebanon against imperialist and Israeli attack.

The current political crisis broke out after an international body called the Special Tribunal on Lebanon leaked reports that it would indict Hezbollah members for the 2005 assassination of Rafiik Hariri, a former prime minister and the richest person in Lebanon. Hariri was killed by a truck bomb, his attackers unknown.

It would be an error, however, to believe that the STL is an objective investigative body. Like many of the other special tribunals — on Yugoslavia or Rwanda, for example — it is a tool the imperialist powers use to intervene under cover of the “international community.” In the Hariri case, the U.S. and Israeli governments for years have attempted to use the STL to deprive Lebanon of its sovereignty.

Concerning motive, the U.S. and Israel had most to gain from assassinating Hariri in 2005, since that opened an internal struggle within Lebanon. Hezbollah has not only denied it killed Hariri, its Secretary General Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah says it has video evidence that Israeli planes observed Hariri’s auto route the day he was killed, evidence the STL refuses to look at.

Thus, the STL’s task is not to seriously investigate Hariri’s murder, but to use the event as a political weapon. In turn, this article will examine its political consequences.

First the Syrian government, which had troops stationed in Lebanon in 2005, was accused of the killing. Israel and the U.S. wanted Syria’s troops out. The Lebanese right wing was able to mobilize protest demonstrations that forced the Syrians to leave.

In July of 2006 — with all the Syrian troops gone — the Israeli military invaded Lebanon. The only effective resistance came from popular organizations, mainly Hezbollah with the assistance of units from the Communist Party of Lebanon, the Amal organization and some others. Israel did enormous human and property damage, but the resistance was able to punish and in effect drive out the Israelis.

Hezbollah also carried out much of the rebuilding that took place and delivered most of the social services to the communities hurt by Israeli aggression. Even the corporate media recognize and report Hezbollah’s popular role, doing so as they also report that the U.S. government has classified the group as “terrorist.” What this really means is that Hezbollah is an effective anti-imperialist organization. So too was Nelson Mandela’s African National Congress in South Africa, which Washington also called “terrorist.”

Rafiik Hariri’s son, Saad Hariri, was prime minister in the year-old unity government that collapsed on Jan. 12. Last September Hariri admitted that the charges against Syria were political: “At a certain stage we made mistakes and accused Syria of assassinating the martyred premier. This was a political accusation, and this political accusation has finished.” (Reuters, Sept. 6)

Based on testimony to the STL that later on was shown to be false, four Lebanese generals in the security apparatus were sentenced to prison for their alleged role in the assassination. Progressive forces, including Hezbollah, demand that the lying witnesses be tried.

Still dealing with the political nature of the charges, Saad Hariri was participating in negotiations along with Syria and Saudi Arabia to try to resolve the question of the STL and the assassination charges. While visiting in Washington, he suddenly broke off these talks — which were reported to be on the verge of coordinating a political compromise that would limit the interference of the STL in Lebanese politics.

In a Jan. 16 public speech, Nasrallah said the following to explain his party’s loss of confidence in Hariri’s role: “Either Hariri and his team did not want to proceed with the deal but had to under Saudi pressure, and eventually went to the [U.S.] Americans and others to pressure the Saudis to stop the effort, or they were supporting the king but the American will was against it.” (Al Manar, Jan. 16)

The Communist Party of Lebanon, in a Jan. 18 statement, warned of the U.S. and Israeli attempt to use the STL to incite a battle between the different communities in Lebanon with the goal of ending the Lebanese people’s resistance, of preventing a spread of this resistance in the Arab world and of using religious differences to facilitate NATO and the Pentagon’s intervention in Lebanon and Sudan.

Although it is the strongest single organized force in Lebanon, Hezbollah has up to now made no attempt to seize control of the government, believing it can better avoid isolation and a civil war that might allow Israeli and U.S. intervention. Regarding the parliamentary struggle, Hezbollah has nominated a compromise figure for prime minister to replace Saad Hariri. There is no guarantee, however, that this will provide more than a short-term solution, given the continued interference by the U.S. and Israel.
Articles copyright 1995-2011 Workers World. Verbatim copying and distribution of this entire article is permitted in any medium without royalty provided this notice is preserved.

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Abayomi Azikiwe, Editor of the Pan-African News Wire, Featured in Book Entitled "Haiti: A Slave Revolution"

New, Updated Edition of Haiti: A Slave Revolution

In solidarity with the struggling people of Haiti , the International Action Center has re-published the groundbreaking book, Haiti: A Slave Revolution, 200 Years after 1804.

In response to the tragic earthquake on Jan. 12 and the huge humanitarian crisis that followed, the IAC joined with the Haitian community and solidarity-minded people all over the country in an all-out effort for immediate humanitarian relief. From coast-to-coast, IAC chapters mobilized and marched to Stand with Haiti , demanding “Food, water, medical care and housing, not foreign troops and occupation!”

While the IAC firmly opposed U.S. intervention in Haiti and called for respect for that nation’s sovereignty and solidarity with the Haitian people, our chapters also helped with fundraising efforts for emergcency medical and other aid. The Solidarity Center in New York City provided space for speakers and events in solidarity with Haiti .

One important contribution which the IAC has made through its literature is a political understanding of the history of imperialist intervention in Haiti , especially that by the United States . They are the ones to blame for the deliberate impoverishment of the people of Haiti, which made the earthquake’s devastation so much worse.

The first edition of Haiti: A Slave Revolution was published in 2004, on the 200th anniversary of Haiti ’s successful struggle against slavery and for independence from France. The book’s purpose was not only to expose imperialism’s role in Haiti, but to show the more than 200-year-old courageous resistance of the Haitian people to exploitation, oppression and occupation.

This is not a traditional history book or textbook, but a people's history. The editors state in its preface, "This book is going to combat 200 years of racist indoctrination and propaganda about the Haitian Revolution. It is essential to challenge these stereotypes in order to build true, informed solidarity with Haiti."

All copies of the first edition of Haiti: A Slave Revolution have sold out! The IAC has received hundreds of requests for the book from around the country.

The time to revise, update and reissue this important book is now!

The book’s first edition was published before democratically elected President Jean-Bertrand Aristide was ousted in a U.S.-backed coup, then kidnapped and taken to the Central African Republic . A U.S. delegation which included Sara Flounders of the IAC and Johnnie Stevens of the People’s Video Network, traveled to the Central African Republic to expose Aristide’s kidnapping by the U.S. They broke the blockade surrounding him and were able to meet with him. Several days later, California Congressperson Maxine Waters was able to bring Aristide to South Africa where he now resides.

The book’s second edition covers the recent earthquake and its aftermath, but will focus on and analyze the U.S. role in this catastrophe. An excerpt of a new section by Abayomi Azikiwe, editor of Pan-African News Wire, says, “Corporate media reports have sought to portray Haiti as a ‘failed state’ with weak or non-existent institutions.

“The Obama administration's initiative, which includes the deployment of 10,000 troops and the allocation of $100 million, must be viewed within the broader historical context of U.S. foreign policy towards Haiti . Despite the pledges of U.S. governmental assistance, to be coordinated by former presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, the world’s leading imperialist power has a history of more than two centuries of suppressing the Haitian people’s right of self-determination and national independence.”

Azikiwe details U.S. efforts to thwart Haitian independence and sovereignty through economic strangulation, military occupation, naval blockades and covert intervention.

Other contributors to the new book are Larry Hales, national organizer, Fight Imperialism, Stand Together; Greg Dunkel, writer and photographer; Monica Moorehead, coordinator of Millions for Mumia; Saeed Shabazz, journalist; Sara Flounders and Johnnie Stevens.

The new chapters are in addition to the existing text which includes pieces by Edwidge Danticat, noted Haitian-American author; Ramsey Clark, IAC founder; members of United Steelworkers of America Local 8751, which is majority Haitian; Mumia Abu-Jamal, world-renowned political prisoner who is on Pennsylvania’s death row; and poetry by celebrated Haitian poets Paul Laraque and Felix Morisseau-Leroy. There is also a beautiful 16-page photo essay by the late Pat Chin, organizer, writer and photographer.

This book is dedicated to the hundreds of thousands of Haitians who lost their lives, were injured or made homeless by the devastating earthquake.

We hope that you share our enthusiasm for re-publishing this vital book, especially at this time. Your donations made the publication of the first edition possible. It is critically important that the truth about U.S. intervention in Haiti be told now. It is also crucial that the real history of the Haitian people’s struggles be told, and that ever more solidarity is shown with the people of Haiti .

All of the labor that has gone into producing this book is voluntary – writing, editing, proofreading, book design and more. However, commercial printing and binding costs are high. This causes us once again to turn to our supporters and friends to ask for financial support.

Your donation will also help to get this very important book out nationwide to activists and readers where it can be a resource in the struggle against U.S. militarism and occupation. The book is even organized in such a way as to make it suitable for discussion groups, classes and meetings.

We ask for your support. Tax-deductible donations can be made to the People’s Rights Fund/Haiti Book Project. Everyone who donates $25 or more will be sent a copy of the new edition of Haiti: A Slave Revolution as soon as it is published.

In solidarity and with our thanks,

Larry Hales, LeiLani Dowell, Sara Flounders, Greg Dunkel

International Action Center

PS -- To donate, go to, and click the DONATE/Support Our Work button. Complete the form, indicate the amount you want to give, then press the SUBMIT SECURE CREDIT CARD VALIDATION button to enter your credit card and complete the transaction.

Also send us a reply to this email message, telling us about your donation, so we can reserve a copy of the book for you. Thanks!

Everyone who donates $25 or more will receive a copy of the book. Tax-deductible contributions can also be sent to People's Rights Fund, 55 W. 17th St., 5th floor, New York, N.Y. 10011 (Earmark "Haiti book" on the memo line.)

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Detroit Meeting on Revolutionary Upsurge in North Africa: Egypt, Tunisia, Who's Next?, Sat., Feb. 5

For Immediate Release

WW Public Meeting

Event: Revolutionary Upsurge in North Africa: Egypt, Tunisia, Who's Next?--Review of Political Developments and Implications for the U.S.
Date: Sat. February 5, 2011, 5:00-8:00pm
Location: 5920 Second Ave. at Antoinette, Near WSU Campus
Sponsors: Workers World Party and The Harriet Tubman School
Contact: 313.671.3715

Revolutionary Upsurge in North Africa & the Middle-East: Reports on Egypt, Tunisia, Yemen, Jordan and Implications for U.S. Imperialism

Millions of Egyptians have taken to the streets demanding an end to the dictatorial U.S.-backed regime of President Hosni Mubarak. The U.S. has poured billions of dollars to maintain the neo-colonial system in Egypt which has served as an outpost for the Pentagon and multi-national corporations.

In Tunisia, the masses of youth and workers have risen up and forced the puppet Ben Ali out of the country and created the conditions for a real fundamental change in this former French colony.

Join a political discussion on the implications of these developments and their impact on the working class struggle in the U.S. and around the world. What lessons can the workers and oppressed inside the U.S. learn from these revolutionary uprisings in North Africa and the mass demonstrations in Yemen and Jordan? How will this struggle impact the status of the settler colonial state of Israel and its allies in the region?

Are We Witnessing the Start of a Global Revolution?: North Africa and the Global Political Awakening

Are We Witnessing the Start of a Global Revolution?

North Africa and the Global Political Awakening, Part 1

By Andrew Gavin Marshall
Global Research, January 27, 2011

For the first time in human history almost all of humanity is politically activated, politically conscious and politically interactive... The resulting global political activism is generating a surge in the quest for personal dignity, cultural respect and economic opportunity in a world painfully scarred by memories of centuries-long alien colonial or imperial domination... The worldwide yearning for human dignity is the central challenge inherent in the phenomenon of global political awakening... That awakening is socially massive and politically radicalizing... The nearly universal access to radio, television and increasingly the Internet is creating a community of shared perceptions and envy that can be galvanized and channeled by demagogic political or religious passions. These energies transcend sovereign borders and pose a challenge both to existing states as well as to the existing global hierarchy, on top of which America still perches...

The youth of the Third World are particularly restless and resentful. The demographic revolution they embody is thus a political time-bomb, as well... Their potential revolutionary spearhead is likely to emerge from among the scores of millions of students concentrated in the often intellectually dubious "tertiary level" educational institutions of developing countries. Depending on the definition of the tertiary educational level, there are currently worldwide between 80 and 130 million "college" students. Typically originating from the socially insecure lower middle class and inflamed by a sense of social outrage, these millions of students are revolutionaries-in-waiting, already semi-mobilized in large congregations, connected by the Internet and pre-positioned for a replay on a larger scale of what transpired years earlier in Mexico City or in Tiananmen Square. Their physical energy and emotional frustration is just waiting to be triggered by a cause, or a faith, or a hatred...

[The] major world powers, new and old, also face a novel reality: while the lethality of their military might is greater than ever, their capacity to impose control over the politically awakened masses of the world is at a historic low. To put it bluntly: in earlier times, it was easier to control one million people than to physically kill one million people; today, it is infinitely easier to kill one million people than to control one million people.[1]

- Zbigniew Brzezinski

Former U.S. National Security Advisor, Co-Founder of the Trilateral Commission, Member, Board of Trustees, Center for Strategic and International Studies

An uprising in Tunisia led to the overthrow of the country’s 23-year long dictatorship of President Ben Ali. A new ‘transitional’ government was formed, but the protests continued demanding a totally new government without the relics of the previous tyranny. Protests in Algeria have continued for weeks, as rage mounts against rising food prices, corruption and state oppression. Protests in Jordan forced the King to call on the military to surround cities with tanks and set up checkpoints. Tens of thousands of protesters marched on Cairo demanding an end to the 30-year dictatorship of Hosni Mubarak. Thousands of activists, opposition leaders and students rallied in the capitol of Yemen against the corrupt dictatorship of President Saleh, in power since 1978. Saleh has been, with U.S. military assistance, attempting to crush a rebel movement in the north and a massive secessionist movement growing in the south, called the “Southern Movement.” Protests in Bolivia against rising food prices forced the populist government of Evo Morales to backtrack on plans to cut subsidies. Chile erupted in protests as demonstrators railed against rising fuel prices. Anti-government demonstrations broke out in Albania, resulting in the deaths of several protesters.

It seems as if the world is entering the beginnings of a new revolutionary era: the era of the ‘Global Political Awakening.’ While this ‘awakening’ is materializing in different regions, different nations and under different circumstances, it is being largely influenced by global conditions. The global domination by the major Western powers, principally the United States, over the past 65 years, and more broadly, centuries, is reaching a turning point. The people of the world are restless, resentful, and enraged. Change, it seems, is in the air. As the above quotes from Brzezinski indicate, this development on the world scene is the most radical and potentially dangerous threat to global power structures and empire. It is not a threat simply to the nations in which the protests arise or seek change, but perhaps to a greater degree, it is a threat to the imperial Western powers, international institutions, multinational corporations and banks that prop up, arm, support and profit from these oppressive regimes around the world. Thus, America and the West are faced with a monumental strategic challenge: what can be done to stem the Global Political Awakening? Zbigniew Brzezinski is one of the chief architects of American foreign policy, and arguably one of the intellectual pioneers of the system of globalization. Thus, his warnings about the 'Global Political Awakening' are directly in reference to its nature as a threat to the prevailing global hierarchy. As such, we must view the 'Awakening' as the greatest hope for humanity. Certainly, there will be mainy failures, problems, and regressions; but the 'Awakening' has begun, it is underway, and it cannot be so easily co-opted or controlled as many might assume.

The reflex action of the imperial powers is to further arm and support the oppressive regimes, as well as the potential to organize a destabilization through covert operations or open warfare (as is being done in Yemen). The alterantive is to undertake a strategy of "democratization" in which Western NGOs, aid agencies and civil society organizations establish strong contacts and relationships with the domestic civil society in these regions and nations. The objective of this strategy is to organize, fund and help direct the domestic civil society to produce a democratic system made in the image of the West, and thus maintain continuity in the international hierarchy. Essentially, the project of "democratization" implies creating the outward visible constructs of a democratic state (multi-party elections, active civil society, "independent" media, etc) and yet maintain continuity in subservience to the World Bank, IMF, multinational corporations and Western powers.

It appears that both of these strategies are being simultaneously imposed in the Arab world: enforcing and supporting state oppression and building ties with civil society organizations. The problem for the West, however, is that they have not had the ability to yet establish strong and dependent ties with civil society groups in much of the region, as ironically, the oppressive regimes they propped up were and are unsurprisingly resistant to such measures. In this sense, we must not cast aside these protests and uprisings as being instigated by the West, but rather that they emerged organically, and the West is subsequently attempting to co-opt and control the emerging movements.

Part 1 of this essay focuses on the emergence of these protest movements and uprisings, placing it in the context of the Global Political Awakening. Part 2 will examine the West's strategy of "democratic imperialism" as a method of co-opting the 'Awakening' and installing "friendly" governments.

The Tunisian Spark

A July 2009 diplomatic cable from America’s Embassy in Tunisia reported that, “many Tunisians are frustrated by the lack of political freedom and angered by First Family corruption, high unemployment and regional inequities. Extremism poses a continuing threat,” and that, “the risks to the regime’s long-term stability are increasing.”[2]

On Friday, 14 January 2011, the U.S.-supported 23-year long dictatorship of Tunisian president Ben Ali ended. For several weeks prior to this, the Tunisian people had risen in protest against rising food prices, stoked on by an immense and growing dissatisfaction with the political repression, and prodded by the WikiLeaks cables confirming the popular Tunisian perception of gross corruption on the part of the ruling family. The spark, it seems, was when a 26-year old unemployed youth set himself on fire in protest on December 17.

With the wave of protests sparked by the death of the 26-year old who set himself on fire on December 17, the government of Tunisia responded by cracking down on the protesters. Estimates vary, but roughly 100 people were killed in the clashes. Half of Tunisia’s 10 million people are under the age of 25, meaning that they have never known a life in Tunisia outside of living under this one dictator. Since Independence from the French empire in 1956, Tunisia has had only two leaders: Habib Bourguiba and Ben Ali.[3] The Tunisian people were rising up against a great many things: an oppressive dictatorship which has employed extensive information and internet censorship, rising food prices and inflation, a corrupt ruling family, lack of jobs for the educated youth, and a general sense and experience of exploitation, subjugation and disrespect for human dignity.

Following the ouster of Ben Ali, Prime Minister Mohamed Ghannouchi assumed presidential power and declared a “transitional government.” Yet, this just spurred more protests demanding his resignation and the resignation of the entire government. Significantly, the trade union movement had a large mobilizing role in the protests, with a lawyers union being particularly active during the initial protests.[4]

Protests in Tunisia

Social media and the Internet did play a large part in mobilizing people within Tunisia for the uprising, but it was ultimately the result of direct protests and action which led to the resignation of Ben Ali. Thus, referring to Tunisia as a “Twitter Revolution” is disingenuous.

Twitter, WikiLeaks, Facebook, Youtube, forums and blogs did have a part to play. They reflect the ability “to collectively transform the Arab information environment and shatter the ability of authoritarian regimes to control the flow of information, images, ideas and opinions.”[5] [Editors Note: The US based foundation Freedom House was involved in promoting and training some Middle East North Africa Facebook and Twitter bloggers (See also Freedom House), M. C.].

We must also keep in mind that social media has not only become an important source of mobilization of activism and information at the grassroots level, but it has also become an effective means for governments and various power structures to seek to manipulate the flow of information. This was evident in the 2009 protests in Iran, where social media became an important avenue through which the Western nations were able to advance their strategy of supporting the so-called 'Green Revolution' in destabilizing the Iranian government. Thus, social media has presented a new form of power, neither black nor white, in which it can be used to either advance the process of the 'Awakening' or control its direction.

Whereas America was publicly denouncing Iran for blocking (or attempting to block) social media in the summer of 2009, during the first several weeks of Tunisian protests (which were largely being ignored by Western media), America and the West were silent about censorship.[6] Steven Cook, writing for the elite U.S. think tank, the Council on Foreign Relations, commented on the lack of attention being paid to the Tunisian protests in the early weeks of resistance prior to the resignation of Ben Ali. He explained that while many assume that the Arab “strongmen” regimes will simply maintain power as they always have, this could be mistaken. He stated that, “it may not be the last days of Ben Ali or Mubarak or any other Middle Eastern strongman, but there is clearly something going on in the region.” However, it was the end of Ben Ali, and indeed, “there is clearly something going on in the region.”[7]

France’s President Sarkozy has even had to admit that, “he had underestimated the anger of the Tunisian people and the protest movement that ousted President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali.” During the first few weeks of protests in Tunisia, several French government officials were publicly supporting the dictatorship, with the French Foreign Minister saying that France would lend its police “knowhow” to help Ben Ali in maintaining order.[8]

Days before the ouster of Ben Ali, Hillary Clinton gave an interview in which she explained how America was worried “about the unrest and the instability,” and that, “we are not taking sides, but we are saying we hope that there can be a peaceful resolution. And I hope that the Tunisian Government can bring that about.” Clinton further lamented, “One of my biggest concerns in this entire region are the many young people without economic opportunities in their home countries.”[9] Her concern, of course, does not spur from any humanitarian considerations, but rather from inherent imperial considerations: it is simply harder to control a region of the world erupting in activism, uprisings and revolution.

The Spark Lights a Flame

Tunisia has raised the bar for the people across the Arab world to demand justice, democracy, accountability, economic stability, and freedom. Just as Tunisia’s protests were in full-swing, Algeria was experiencing mass protests, rising up largely as a result of the increasing international food prices, but also in reaction to many of the concerns of the Tunisian protesters, such as democratic accountability, corruption and freedom. A former Algerian diplomat told Al-Jazeera in early January that, “It is a revolt, and probably a revolution, of an oppressed people who have, for 50 years, been waiting for housing, employment, and a proper and decent life in a very rich country.”[10]

In mid-January, similar protests erupted in Jordan, as thousands took to the streets to protest against rising food prices and unemployment, chanting anti-government slogans. Jordan’s King Abdullah II had “set up a special task force in his palace that included military and intelligence officials to try to prevent the unrest from escalating further,” which had tanks surrounding major cities, with barriers and checkpoints established.[11]

In Yemen, the poorest nation in the Arab world, engulfed in a U.S. sponsored war against its own people, ruled by a dictator who has been in power since 1978, thousands of people protested against the government, demanding the dictator Ali Abdullah Saleh to step down. In the capitol city of Sanaa, thousands of students, activists and opposition groups chanted slogans such as, “Get out get out, Ali. Join your friend Ben Ali.”[12] Yemen has been experiencing much turmoil in recent years, with a rebel movement in the North fighting against the government, formed in 2004; as well as a massive secessionist movement in the south, called the “Southern Movement,” fighting for liberation since 2007. As the Financial Times explained:

Many Yemen observers consider the anger and secessionist sentiment now erupting in the south to be a greater threat to the country’s stability than its better publicised struggle with al-Qaeda, and the deteriorating economy is making the tension worse.

Unemployment, particularly among the young, is soaring. Even the government statistics office in Aden puts it at nearly 40 per cent among men aged 20 to 24.[13]

Protest of the Southern Movement in Yemen

On January 21, tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets in Albania, mobilized by the socialist opposition, ending with violent clashes between the police and protesters, leading to the deaths of three demonstrators. The protests have been sporadic in Albania since the widely contested 2009 elections, but took on new levels inspired by Tunisia.[14]

Israeli Vice Prime Minister Silvan Shalom stressed concern over the revolutionary sentiments within the Arab world, saying that, “I fear that we now stand before a new and very critical phase in the Arab world.” He fears Tunisia would “set a precedent that could be repeated in other countries, possibly affecting directly the stability of our system.”[15] Israel’s leadership fears democracy in the Arab world, as they have a security alliance with the major Arab nations, who, along with Israel itself, are American proxy states in the region. Israel maintains civil – if not quiet – relationships with the Arab monarchs and dictators. While the Arab states publicly criticize Israel, behind closed doors they are forced to quietly accept Israel’s militarism and war-mongering, lest they stand up against the superpower, America. Yet, public opinion in the Arab world is extremely anti-Israel, anti-American and pro-Iran.

In July of 2010, the results of a major international poll were released regarding public opinion in the Arab world, polling from Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Jordan, Lebanon and the United Arab Emirates. Among some of the notable findings: while Obama was well received upon entering the Presidency, with 51% expressing optimism about U.S. policy in the region in the Spring of 2009, by Summer 2010, 16% were expressing optimism. In 2009, 29% of those polled said a nuclear-armed Iran would be positive for the region; in 2010, that spiked to 57%, reflecting a very different stance from that of their governments.[16]

While America, Israel and the leaders of the Arab nations claim that Iran is the greatest threat to peace and stability in the Middle East, the Arab people do not agree. In an open question asking which two countries pose the greatest threat to the region, 88% responded with Israel, 77% with America, and 10% with Iran.[17]

At the Arab economic summit shortly following the ousting of Ben Ali in Tunisia, who was for the first time absent from the meetings, the Tunisian uprising hung heavy in the air. Arab League leader Amr Moussa said in his opening remarks at the summit, “The Tunisian revolution is not far from us,” and that, “the Arab citizen entered an unprecedented state of anger and frustration,” noting that "the Arab soul is broken by poverty, unemployment and general recession.” The significance of this ‘threat’ to the Arab leaders cannot be understated. Out of roughly 352 million Arabs, 190 million are under the age of 24, with nearly three-quarters of them unemployed. Often, “the education these young people receive doesn't do them any good because there are no jobs in the fields they trained for.”[18]

There was even an article in the Israeli intellectual newspaper, Ha’aretz, which posited that, “Israel may be on the eve of revolution.” Explaining, the author wrote that:

Israeli civil society organizations have amassed considerable power over the years; not only the so-called leftist organizations, but ones dealing with issues like poverty, workers' rights and violence against women and children. All of them were created in order to fill the gaps left by the state, which for its part was all too happy to continue walking away from problems that someone else was there to take on. The neglect is so great that Israel's third sector - NGOs, charities and volunteer organizations - is among the biggest in the world. As such, it has quite a bit of power.[19]

Now the Israeli Knesset and cabinet want that power back; yet, posits the author, they “have chosen to ignore the reasons these groups became powerful,” namely:

The source of their power is the vacuum, the criminal policies of Israel's governments over the last 40 years. The source of their power is a government that is evading its duties to care for all of its citizens and to end the occupation, and a Knesset that supports the government instead of putting it in its place.[20]

The Israeli Knesset opened investigations into the funding of Israeli human rights organizations in a political maneuver against them. However, as one article in Ha’aretz by an Israeli professor explained, these groups actually – inadvertently – play a role in “entrenching the occupation.” As the author explained:

Even if the leftist groups' intention is to ensure upholding Palestinian rights, though, the unintentional result of their activity is preserving the occupation. Moderating and restraining the army's activity gives it a more human and legal facade. Reducing the pressure of international organizations, alongside moderating the Palestinian population's resistance potential, enable the army to continue to maintain this control model over a prolonged period of time.[21]

Thus, if the Israeli Knesset succeeds in getting rid of these powerful NGOs, they sow the seeds for the pressure valve in the occupied territories to be removed. The potential for massive internal protests within Israel from the left, as well as the possibility of another Intifada – uprising – in the occupied territories themselves would seem dramatically increased. Israel and the West have expressed how much distaste they hold for democracy in the region. When Gaza held a democratic election in 2006 and elected Hamas, which was viewed as the ‘wrong’ choice by Israel and America, Israel imposed a ruthless blockade of Gaza. Richard Falk, the former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Inquiry Commission for the Palestinian territories, wrote an article for Al Jazeera in which he explained that the blockade:

unlawfully restricted to subsistence levels, or below, the flow of food, medicine, and fuel. This blockade continues to this day, leaving the entire Gazan population locked within the world's largest open-air prison, and victimized by one of the cruelest forms of belligerent occupation in the history of warfare.[22]

The situation in the occupied territories is made increasingly tense with the recent leaking of the “Palestinian Papers,” which consist of two decades of secret Israeli-Palestinian accords, revealing the weak negotiating position of the Palestinian Authority. The documents consist largely of major concessions the Palestinian Authority was willing to make “on the issues of the right of return of Palestinian refugees, territorial concessions, and the recognition of Israel.” Among the leaks, Palestinian negotiators secretly agreed to concede nearly all of East Jerusalem to Israel. Further, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (favoured by Israel and America over Hamas), was personally informed by a senior Israeli official the night before Operation Cast Lead, the December 2008 and January 2009 Israeli assault on Gaza, resulting in the deaths of over 1,000 Palestinians: “Israeli and Palestinian officials reportedly discussed targeted assassinations of Hamas and Islamic Jihad activists in Gaza.”[23]

Hamas has subsequently called on Palestinian refugees to protest over the concessions regarding the ‘right of return’ for refugees, of which the negotiators conceded to allowing only 100,000 of 5 million to return to Israel.[24] A former U.S. Ambassador to Israel and Egypt lamented that, “The concern will be that this might cause further problems in moving forward.”[25] However, while being blamed for possibly preventing the “peace process” from moving forward, what the papers reveal is that the “peace process” itself is a joke. The Palestinian Authority’s power is derivative of the power Israel allows it to have, and was propped up as a method of dealing with an internal Palestinian elite, thus doing what all colonial powers have done. The papers, then, reveal how the so-called Palestinian ‘Authority’ does not truly speak or work for the interests of the Palestinian people. And while this certainly will divide the PA from Hamas, they were already deeply divided as it was. Certainly, this will pose problems for the “peace process,” but that’s assuming it is a ‘peaceful’ process in the first part.

Is Egypt on the Edge of Revolution?

Unrest is even spreading to Egypt, personal playground of U.S.-supported and armed dictator, Hosni Mubarak, in power since 1981. Egypt is the main U.S. ally in North Africa, and has for centuries been one of the most important imperial jewels first for the Ottomans, then the British, and later for the Americans. With a population of 80 million, 60% of which are under the age of 30, who make up 90% of Egypt’s unemployed, the conditions are ripe for a repeat in Egypt of what happened in Tunisia.[26]

On January 25, 2011, Egypt experienced its “day of wrath,” in which tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets to protest against rising food prices, corruption, and the oppression of living under a 30-year dictatorship. The demonstrations were organized through the use of social media such as Twitter and Facebook. When the protests emerged, the government closed access to these social media sites, just as the Tunisian government did in the early days of the protests that led to the collapse of the dictatorship. As one commentator wrote in the Guardian:

Egypt is not Tunisia. It’s much bigger. Eighty million people, compared with 10 million. Geographically, politically, strategically, it's in a different league – the Arab world's natural leader and its most populous nation. But many of the grievances on the street are the same. Tunis and Cairo differ only in size. If Egypt explodes, the explosion will be much bigger, too.[27]

In Egypt, “an ad hoc coalition of students, unemployed youths, industrial workers, intellectuals, football fans and women, connected by social media such as Twitter and Facebook, instigated a series of fast-moving, rapidly shifting demos across half a dozen or more Egyptian cities.” The police responded with violence, and three protesters were killed. With tens of thousands of protesters taking to the streets, Egypt saw the largest protests in decades, if not under the entire 30-year reign of President Mubarak. Is Egypt on the verge of revolution? It seems too soon to tell. Egypt, it must be remembered, is the second major recipient of U.S. military assistance in the world (following Israel), and thus, its police state and military apparatus are far more advanced and secure than Tunisia’s. Clearly, however, something is stirring. As Hilary Clinton said on the night of the protests, “Our assessment is that the Egyptian government is stable and is looking for ways to respond to the legitimate needs and interests of the Egyptian people.”[28] In other words: “We continue to support tyranny and dictatorship over democracy and liberation.” So what else is new?

According to some estimates, as many as 50,000 protesters turned out in Cairo, Alexandria, Suez and other Egyptian cities.[29] The protests were met with the usual brutality: beating protesters, firing tear gas and using water cannons to attempt to disperse the protesters. As images and videos started emerging out of Egypt, “television footage showed demonstrators chasing police down side streets. One protester climbed into a fire engine and drove it away.”[30] Late on the night of the protests, rumours and unconfirmed reports were spreading that the first lady of Egypt, Suzanne Mubarak, may have fled Egypt to London, following on the heels of rumours that Mubarak’s son, and presumed successor, had also fled to London.[31]

Are We Headed for a Global Revolution?

During the first phase of the global economic crisis in December of 2008, the IMF warned governments of the prospect of “violent unrest on the streets.” The head of the IMF warned that, “violent protests could break out in countries worldwide if the financial system was not restructured to benefit everyone rather than a small elite.”[32]

In January of 2009, Obama’s then-Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair, told the Senate Intelligence Committee that the greatest threat to the National Security of the U.S. was not terrorism, but the global economic crisis:

I’d like to begin with the global economic crisis, because it already looms as the most serious one in decades, if not in centuries ... Economic crises increase the risk of regime-threatening instability if they are prolonged for a one- or two-year period... And instability can loosen the fragile hold that many developing countries have on law and order, which can spill out in dangerous ways into the international community.[33]

In 2007, a British Defence Ministry report was released assessing global trends in the world over the next 30 years. In assessing “Global Inequality”, the report stated that over the next 30 years:

[T]he gap between rich and poor will probably increase and absolute poverty will remain a global challenge... Disparities in wealth and advantage will therefore become more obvious, with their associated grievances and resentments, even among the growing numbers of people who are likely to be materially more prosperous than their parents and grandparents. Absolute poverty and comparative disadvantage will fuel perceptions of injustice among those whose expectations are not met, increasing tension and instability, both within and between societies and resulting in expressions of violence such as disorder, criminality, terrorism and insurgency. They may also lead to the resurgence of not only anti-capitalist ideologies, possibly linked to religious, anarchist or nihilist movements, but also to populism and the revival of Marxism.[34]

Further, the report warned of the dangers to the established powers of a revolution emerging from the disgruntled middle classes:

The middle classes could become a revolutionary class, taking the role envisaged for the proletariat by Marx. The globalization of labour markets and reducing levels of national welfare provision and employment could reduce peoples’ attachment to particular states. The growing gap between themselves and a small number of highly visible super-rich individuals might fuel disillusion with meritocracy, while the growing urban under-classes are likely to pose an increasing threat to social order and stability, as the burden of acquired debt and the failure of pension provision begins to bite. Faced by these twin challenges, the world’s middle-classes might unite, using access to knowledge, resources and skills to shape transnational processes in their own class interest.[35]

We have now reached the point where the global economic crisis has continued beyond the two-year mark. The social repercussions are starting to be felt – globally – as a result of the crisis and the coordinated responses to it. Since the global economic crisis hit the ‘Third World’ the hardest, the social and political ramifications will be felt there first. In the context of the current record-breaking hikes in the cost of food, food riots will spread around the world as they did in 2007 and 2008, just prior to the outbreak of the economic crisis. This time, however, things are much worse economically, much more desperate socially, and much more oppressive politically.

This rising discontent will spread from the developing world to the comfort of our own homes in the West. Once the harsh realization sets in that the economy is not in ‘recovery,’ but rather in a Depression, and once our governments in the West continue on their path of closing down the democratic façade and continue dismantling rights and freedoms, increasing surveillance and ‘control,’ while pushing increasingly militaristic and war-mongering foreign policies around the world (mostly in an effort to quell or crush the global awakening being experienced around the world), we in the West will come to realize that ‘We are all Tunisians.’

In 1967, Martin Luther King, Jr., said in his famous speech “Beyond Vietnam”:

I am convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin the shift from a "thing-oriented" society to a "person-oriented" society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.[36]

This was Part 1 of "North Africa and the Global Political Awakening," focusing on the emergence of the protest movements primarily in North Africa and the Arab world, but placing it in the context of a wider 'Global Awakening.'

Part 2 will focus on the West's reaction to the 'Awakening' in this region; namely, the two-pronged strategy of supporting oppressive regimes while promoting "democratization" in a grand new project of "democratic imperialism."

Andrew Gavin Marshall is a Research Associate with the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG). He is co-editor, with Michel Chossudovsky, of the recent book, "The Global Economic Crisis: The Great Depression of the XXI Century," available to order at He is currently working on a forthcoming book on 'Global Government'.


[1] Zbigniew Brzezinski, The Global Political Awakening. The New York Times: December 16, 2008:; “Major Foreign Policy Challenges for the Next US President,” International Affairs, 85: 1, (2009); The Dilemma of the Last Sovereign. The American Interest Magazine, Autumn 2005:; The Choice: Global Domination or Global Leadership. Speech at the Carnegie Council: March 25, 2004:; America’s Geopolitical Dilemmas. Speech at the Canadian International Council and Montreal Council on Foreign Relations: April 23, 2010:

[2] Embassy Tunis, TROUBLED TUNISIA: WHAT SHOULD WE DO?, WikiLeaks Cables, 17 July 2009:

[3] Mona Eltahawy, Tunisia's Jasmine Revolution, The Washington Post, 15 January 2011:

[4] Eileen Byrne, Protesters make the case for peaceful change, The Financial Times, 15 January 2011:

[5] Marc Lynch, Tunisia and the New Arab Media Space, Foreign Policy, 15 January 2011:

[6] Jillian York, Activist crackdown: Tunisia vs Iran, Al-Jazeera, 9 January 2011:

[7] Steven Cook, The Last Days of Ben Ali? The Council on Foreign Relations, 6 January 2011:

[8] Angelique Chrisafis, Sarkozy admits France made mistakes over Tunisia, The Guardian, 24 January 2011:

[9] Hillary Rodham Clinton, Interview With Taher Barake of Al Arabiya, U.S. Department of State, 11 January 2011:

[10] Algeria set for crisis talks, Al-Jazeera, 8 January 2011:

[11] Alexandra Sandels, JORDAN: Thousands of demonstrators protest food prices, denounce government, Los Angeles Times Blog, 15 January 2011:

[12] AP, Thousands demand ouster of Yemen's president, Associated Press, 22 January 2011:

[13] Abigail Fielding-Smith, North-south divide strains Yemen union, The Financial Times, 12 January 2011:

[14] EurActiv, 'Jasmine' revolt wave reaches Albania, 24 January 2011:

[15] Clemens Höges, Bernhard Zand and Helene Zuber, Arab Rulers Fear Spread of Democracy Fever, Der Spiegel, 25 January 2011:,1518,741545,00.html

[16] Shibley Telhami, Results of Arab Opinion Survey Conducted June 29-July 20, 2010, 5 August 2010:

[17] Shibley Telhami, A shift in Arab views of Iran, Los Angeles Times, 14 August 2010:

[18] Clemens Höges, Bernhard Zand and Helene Zuber, Arab Rulers Fear Spread of Democracy Fever, Der Spiegel, 25 January 2011:,1518,741545,00.html

[19] Merav Michaeli, Israel may be on the eve of revolution, Ha’aretz, 17 January 2011:

[20] Ibid.

[21] Yagil Levy, Israeli NGOs are entrenching the occupation, Ha’aretz, 11 January 2011:

[22] Richard Falk, Ben Ali Tunisia was model US client, Al-Jazeera, 25 January 2011:

[23] Jack Khoury and Haaretz Service, Two decades of secret Israeli-Palestinian accords leaked to media worldwide, Ha’arets, 23 January 2011:

[24] Haaretz Service and The Associated Press, Hamas urges Palestinian refugees to protest over concessions on right of return, Ha’aretz, 25 January 2011:

[25] Alan Greenblatt, Palestinian Papers May Be Blow To Peace Process, NPR, 24 January 2011:

[26] Johannes Stern, Egyptian regime fears mass protests, World Socialist Web Site, 15 January 2011:

[27] Simon Tisdall, Egypt protests are breaking new ground, The Guardian, 25 January 2011:

[28] Ibid.

[29] MATT BRADLEY, Rioters Jolt Egyptian Regime, The Wall Street Journal, 26 January 2011:

[30] Catrina Stewart, Violence on the streets of Cairo as unrest grows, The Independent, 26 January 2011:

[31] IBT, Suzanne Mubarak of Egypt has fled to Heathrow airport in London: unconfirmed reports, International Business Times, 25 January 2011:

[32] Angela Balakrishnan, IMF chief issues stark warning on economic crisis. The Guardian: December 18, 2008:

[33] Stephen C. Webster, US intel chief: Economic crisis a greater threat than terrorism. Raw Story: February 13, 2009:

[34] DCDC, The DCDC Global Strategic Trends Programme, 2007-2036, 3rd ed. The Ministry of Defence, January 2007: page 3

[35] Ibid, page 81.

[36] Rev. Martin Luther King, Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence. Speech delivered by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., on April 4, 1967, at a meeting of Clergy and Laity Concerned at Riverside Church in New York City:

In Yemen, Calls for Revolution But Many Hurdles

In Yemen, calls for revolution but many hurdles

By Sudarsan Raghavan
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, January 30, 2011; 4:17 PM

SANAA, Yemen - The pro-democracy protesters marched through the dusty streets of this Middle Eastern capital, voicing hope that the revolution unfolding in the Arab world would soon reach them.

"Yesterday, Tunisia. Today, Egypt. Tomorrow, Yemen," they shouted, trying to make their way to the Egyptian embassy.

But the small march on Saturday never reached its intended target. A line of police stopped the protesters; then a loud, unruly crowd of pro-government supporters emerged, and the two groups clashed. The protesters soon vanished, their voices muffled by pro-government chants.

President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who has ruled Yemen for 32 years, is clearly rattled by the anarchy unfolding in Egypt. But what has happened here also shows that Yemen's situation is distinct from its neighbors, even as many Yemenis share the same grievances and frustrations driving the upheavals in Egypt and Tunisia.

Many among the Arab world's dispossessed hope for a domino effect that could see more of the region's autocratic regimes fall, like the swift collapse of the Soviet Union. But in Yemen, activists are facing numerous obstacles, straddling political, social and economic fault lines, even as they gain courage and inspiration from the momentous events unfolding in the region.

"The situation in different Arab countries is similar, but there's a big difference in the enthusiasm of the people in the streets as well as the ability to go to the streets," said Aidroos Al Naqeeb, head of the socialist party bloc in Yemen's parliament.

"In Yemen, the living conditions are far worse than Egypt. The services are far worse than Egypt,'' Naqeeb said. The anger and resentment is also larger than Egypt. But civil society is weaker here and the culture of popular opposition is far lesser here."

Unlike Egypt and Tunisia, impoverished Yemen has a small middle class and a large uneducated and illiterate population. Social networking sites such as Facebook that helped mobilize the revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia are not widely used here.

Yemen's internal security apparatus is at least as sophisticated and deeply entrenched as in Egypt; the army is staunchly loyal to Saleh, as are powerful tribes in a country where tribal allegiance is more significant than national identity. The opposition, while strong in numbers, is divided in its goals.

"There is a popular movement and a political movement in Yemen," said Khaled al-Anesi, a lawyer and human rights activist who helped organized many of the recent protests. "But there is no support from the political parties for the popular movement, which is not organized. It is still weak and in the beginning stages."

Ever since the reunification of north and south Yemen in 1990, Saleh has marginalized political opposition groups and installed relatives and allies to key political, military and internal security posts.

Still, the popular uprisings that have ousted Tunisian President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali from power and propeled Egypt into chaos have shaken Saleh's weak regime, marking the latest threat to a nation grappling already with a rebellion in the north, a secessionist movement in the south and a resurgent Yemeni branch of Al Qaeda.

In a televised speech last week, the 64-year-old Saleh, a vital U.S. ally in the war on terror, denied that his son would succeed him. He also raised the salaries of soldiers, in an apparent effort to maintain their loyalty; slashed income taxes in half and ordered price controls.

Saleh was speaking in the aftermath of a rally earlier this month in which thousands of protesters took to the streets, with students and human rights activists calling for president to resign. But political opposition leaders have emphasized reform rather than regime change, alling on Saleh to honor a constitutionally mandated term limit that would end his presidency in 2013.

Many student activists and human rights activists disagree with the political opposition's tactics, arguing that attempts to share power with Saleh will never work and that they need to channel the momentum of the uprisings in the region.

"Their opinion is to take it step by step. In our opinion, there is no benefit," said Anesi. "This guy, Ali Abdullah Saleh, for him everything is a game. He tries to cheat political parties and international society. We are wasting time. We have to go to the streets. This is the best moment to demand change."

Other activists have alleged that many opposition leaders have lucrative investments and businesses that, in Yemen, are possible only through good relations with Saleh and his party.

Naqeeb conceded he and other oppositions leaders are trying to forge democratic reforms without resorting to violence. But he added that if Saleh continues to stonewall them, the situation in Yemen "will reach a point like Egypt," in a nation in which every household owns a Kalashnikov rifle.

In a meeting convened in advance of Saturday's rally, none of the organizers seemed to care that Yemeni plainclothes police had infiltrated the session and were aware of their plans. But by the time the protesters reached the police lines, their chants were being drowned out by those of pro-government supporters .

Some attacked the pro-democracy faction with knives and sticks. The policemen watched and did not stop the melee. Soon the activists fled, and the pro-government supporters then marched on through the traffic, chanting and singing.

"I like the president. We don't understand why he should leave," said Abdullah Al-Mujali, one of the supporters. "We don't want the same as what happened in Egypt and Tunisia. It is different here."

Activists including Anesi say they are determined to press forward with their calls to oust Saleh. "We have no choice," he said.

Egypt Revolutionary Upsurge Continues As Mubarak Meets Military Commanders

Egypt in crisis as Mubarak meets commanders

CAIRO, EGYPT - Jan 30 2011 12:16

President Hosni Mubarak, clinging to power despite unprecedented demands for an end to his 30-year rule, met on Sunday with the powerful military which is widely seen as holding the key to Egypt's future.

Mubarak held talks with Vice-President Omar Suleiman, whose appointment on Saturday has possibly set the scene for a transition in power, Defence Minister Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, Chief of Staff Sami al-Anan and other senior commanders.

An earthquake of unrest is shaking Mubarak's authoritarian grip on power and the high command's support is vital as other pillars of his ruling apparatus crumble, analysts said.

Egyptians faced lawlessness on their streets on Sunday with security forces and ordinary people trying to stop looters after five days of popular protest.

Through the night, Cairo residents armed with clubs, chains and knives formed vigilante groups to guard neighbourhoods from marauders after the unpopular police force withdrew following clashes with protesters that left more than 100 dead.

The capital's streets were mostly deserted, with the army guarding the Interior Ministry, and citizens putting their trust in the military, hoping they would restore order but not open fire to keep key United States ally Mubarak (82) in power.

Amidst a heavy military presence, up to 4 000 people gathered in Tahrir Square, which has become a rallying point to express anger at poverty, repression and corruption in the Arab world's most populous nation.

"Hosni Mubarak, Omar Suleiman, both of you are agents of the Americans," shouted protesters, referring to the appointment of intelligence chief Suleiman as vice-president, the first time Mubarak has appointed a deputy in 30 years of office.

It was the position Mubarak held before he become president and many saw the appointment as ending his son Gamal's long-predicted ambitions to take over.

"Mubarak, Mubarak, the plane awaits," demonstrators said.

Sunday is normally a working day in Egypt but banks and financial markets were shut. The bourse and the central bank said they would stay closed on Monday.

The unprecedented turmoil has sent shock waves through the Middle East, where other autocratic rulers may face similar challenges, and unsettled financial markets around the globe.

Key to Egypt's future

The protests bore many hallmarks of the unrest that toppled the leader of Tunisia two weeks ago, although the arrival of army troops to replace the police showed that Mubarak still has the support of the military, the country's most powerful force.

So far, the protest movement seems to have no clear leader or organisation even if Mubarak did wish to open a dialogue.

Prominent activist Mohamed ElBaradei, a Nobel Peace Prize Laureate for his work with the UN nuclear agency, returned to Egypt from Europe to join the protests. But many Egyptians feel he has not spent enough time in the country.

The Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist opposition group, has also stayed in the background, although several of its senior officials have been rounded up. The government has accused it of planning to exploit the protests.

Thirty-four members of the Brotherhood, including seven of its leaders, walked out of prison on Sunday after relatives of prisoners overcame the guards, a Brotherhood official said.

The relatives stormed the prison in Wadi el-Natroun, 120km north-west of Cairo, and set free several thousand of the inmates, Brotherhood office manager Mohamed Osama told Reuters. No one was hurt, he added.

Army tanks and tracked vehicles stood at the capital's street corners, guarding banks as well as government offices and the Interior Ministry headquarters. State security fought with protesters trying to attack the building on Saturday night.

The tumult was effecting Egypt's tourist industry and the United States and Turkey said they were offering evacuation flights for citizens anxious to leave. Other governments advised their citizens to leave Egypt or to avoid travelling there.

Cairo airport was jammed with passengers eager to get out of the troubled country.

Egypt said it had shut down the operations of satellite broadcaster al-Jazeera which has shown footage of the demonstrations taking place in Cairo, Suez and Alexandria and heavy-handed police tactics to the rest of the Arab world.

The government has interfered with internet access and cellphone signals to try and disrupt demonstrators' plans. Twitter messages on Sunday were urging Egyptians to assemble at Tahrir Square to resume their anti-Mubarak message.

The United States and European powers were busy reworking their Middle East policies, which have supported Mubarak, turning a blind eye to police brutality and corruption in return for a bulwark against first communism and now militant Islam.

In Cairo, the biggest immediate fear was of looting as public order collapsed. Mobs stormed banks, supermarkets, jewellery shops and government offices. Some suggested the chaos could herald a security forces crackdown.

In surreal scenes, soldiers from Mubarak's army stood by tanks covered in anti-Mubarak graffiti: "Down with Mubarak. Down with the despot. Down with the traitor. Pharaoh out of Egypt."

Asked how they could let protesters write anti-Mubarak slogans on their vehicles, one soldier said: "These are written by the people, it's the views of the people."

Residents expressed hope the troops would restore order. "People are terrified from these outlaws on the streets looting, attacking and destroying," said Salah Khalife, an employee at a sugar company.

"This is the Arab world's Berlin moment," said Fawaz Gerges of the London School of Economics, comparing the events to the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. "The authoritarian wall has fallen, and that's regardless of whether Mubarak survives." - Reuters

Source: Mail & Guardian Online
Web Address:

U.S. Has No Plans to Suspend Aid to Haiti

Clinton: U.S. has no plans to suspend aid to Haiti

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — The United States has no plans to halt aid to earthquake-ravaged Haiti in spite of a crisis over who will be the nation's next leader but does insist that the president's chosen successor be dropped from the race, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Sunday.

Clinton arrived Sunday in the impoverished Caribbean nation for a brief visit. She is scheduled to meet with President Rene Preval and each of the three candidates jockeying to replace him.

Only two candidates can go on to the delayed second round, now scheduled for March 20. The U.S. is backing an Organization of American States recommendation that the candidate from Preval's party, government construction official Jude Celestin, should be left out.

The top U.S. official at the United Nations, Susan Rice, said recently that "sustained support" from the United States required the OAS recommendations be implemented. Many Haitian officials, including leaders of Preval's Unity party and rival candidate Michel Martelly, interpreted that to mean the U.S. was threatening an embargo and cutting off aid.

Clinton flatly rebuffed that suggestion: "We're not talking about any of that," she said Sunday.

"We have a deep commitment to the Haitian people," she told reporters. "That goes to humanitarian aid, that goes to governance and democracy programs, that will be going to a cholera treatment center."

Asked if there were any set of circumstances that would prompt Washington to cut off aid, Clinton said, "At this point, no."

Still, she insisted that the United States would press the recommendations by international monitors after a disorganized, fraud-ridden first-round presidential vote in November. They determined that Preval's preferred successor, Jude Celestin, finished last and should drop out. Celestin has yet to do so.

"We're focused on helping the Haitian people," Clinton said ahead of the meetings. "One of the ways we want to help them is by making sure that their political choices are respected."

Haiti is in a deepening and potentially destabilizing political crisis. The announcement of preliminary results from the disputed first round led to rioting in December. Final results are expected to be announced Wednesday.

Just five days after, on Feb. 7, comes the constitutional end of Preval's five-year term.

A law passed by an expiring Senate last May would allow him to remain in power for an extra three months, but it is not clear if his government would continue to be recognized by donor countries. But Preval has said he does not want to hand power to an interim government.

"That's one of the problems we have to talk about," Clinton said. "There are issues of a continuing government, how that can be structured. And that's what I'm going to be discussing."

Acknowledging the tight time frame for Haiti, she said she wanted to hear ideas on how Haiti's transition should be handled but then make her own assessment on the best way forward.

The political crisis comes as the Western Hemisphere's poorest nation tries to restart its economy after decades of stifling poverty and unemployment, and the massive loss of life and infrastructure in last year's earthquake.

Hundreds of thousands of people remain in homeless camps and major rebuilding has not started. Underlying issues such as land-tenure reform and the development and reconstruction of government institutions have barely been addressed. Massive piles of rubble and collapsed buildings remain throughout the capital.

Meanwhile, a cholera epidemic that started outside the quake zone and has killed more than 4,000 people continues to rage. Clinton was scheduled to visit a treatment center Sunday.

She said reconstruction has been steady "but not adequate to the task that we are confronting."

"The problems are significant," Clinton told the pool of reporters traveling with her. "Like what do you do with all the rubble? It's a really big problem."

Egyptian Masses Demand Removal of U.S.-backed Regime of Hosni Mubarak

Egypt protesters in Cairo standoff

Shots fired in capital's central square, as anti-government protests continue amid reports of prisons being attacked

Last Modified: 30 Jan 2011 12:28 GMT

Protesters have rejected the president's cabinet reshuffle and are demanding that he resign

Thousands of anti-government protesters in Cairo's Tahrir Square are standing their ground, despite troops firing into the air in a bid to disperse them.

The show of defiance came as Egypt entered another turbulent day following a night of deadly unrest, when looters roamed the streets in the absence of police.

There were also reports of several prisons across the country being attacked and of fresh protests being staged in cities like Alexandria and Suez.

Anger in Egypt

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 collected again in Tahrir Square on Sunday afternoon to demand the resignation of Hosni Mubarak, the Egyptian president.

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.

Reporting from Cairo earlier on Sunday, Al Jazeera's Dan Nolan said it was a "long way from business as usual" in the Egyptian capital on the first working day since protests peaked on Friday.

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

"It's still a very tense scene to have so much military in the capital city of the country."

Earlier in the morning, Al Jazeera's Jane Dutton, also in Cairo, reported that the city appeared deserted in the early hours.

"The streets are very dirty, there is debris everywhere. The police have just disappeared. Any security at this stage is in the hands of the army."

Al Jazeera's correspondents in the port city of Alexandria have also said that anti-government protests have begun there, with hundreds of people on the streets.

The security situation in the capital has prompted the country's interior minister to hold meetings with top officials on Sunday.

Habib al Adli met Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, the defence minister, and vice president Omar Soliman, state television reported.

As the police withdrew from streets across Egypt, Adli has been the target of growing criticism by the protesters who have called on him to resign.

The absence of police has given looters a free rein, forcing ordinary citizens to set up neighbourhood patrols.

According to Dina Magdi, an eyewitness, unidentified men on Sunday morning came out of the interior ministry compound in a car and dumped a body on a street. They then opened fire on people present in the area and fled. There were no immediate reports of casualties in that attack.

'Chaotic' scenes

Al Jazeera's sources have indicated that the military has now also been deployed to the resort town of Sharm el Shaikh.

Sherine Tadros, Al Jazeera's correspondent in the city of Suez, said the city had witnessed a "completely chaotic night", but that the streets were quiet as day broke.

She reported that in the absence of police and military, people were "tak[ing] the law into their own hands", using "clubs, batons, sticks, machetes [and] knives" to protect their property.

"People are trying to get back to normal, but of course this is anything but," she said, adding that as the day wore on, the military had set up several checkposts in an attempt to "show people that they are here and ... will provide some kind of security".

Rawya Rageh, our correspondent in Alexandria, reported similar scenes, saying that people were particularly concerned about their personal safety and that of their property.

She reported that the military in Alexandria was not focusing on protesters, attempting instead to prevent any further damage or theft of property.

Anti-Mubarak protests have engulfed Middle East's most populous nation since last Tuesday. More than 150 people have been killed in the unrest.

On Saturday, an embattled Mubarak sacked his cabinet and appointed a vice-president and a new prime minister. But the move has failed to douse anger on the streets

However, 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.

ElBaradei, the former head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, came back to Egypt on Thursday.

Dutton said that protesters are unlikely to stop demonstrating, as they "want one thing, and one thing only: they want the leadership to go".

As international powers express concern regarding events in Egypt, the US state department has reduced its diplomatic presence in Egypt, saying it had authorised the voluntary departure of dependents of diplomats and non-essential workers.

Source: Al Jazeera and agencies

Egypt shuts down Al Jazeera bureau

Network's licences cancelled and accreditation of staff in Cairo withdrawn by order of information minister

Last Modified: 30 Jan 2011 10:01 GMT

Al Jazeera denounced the closure of its bureau, saying the move was designed to stifle free reporting

The Egyptian authorities are revoking the Al Jazeera Network's licence to broadcast from the country, and will be shutting down its bureau office in Cairo, state television has said.

"The information minister [Anas al-Fikki] ordered ... suspension of operations of Al Jazeera, cancelling of its licences and withdrawing accreditation to all its staff as of today," a statement on the official Mena news agency said on Sunday.

In a statement, Al Jazeera said it strongly denounces and condemns the closure of its bureau in Cairo by the Egyptian government. The network received notification from the Egyptian authorities on Sunday morning.

"Al Jazeera has received widespread global acclaim for their coverage on the ground across the length and breadth of Egypt," the statement said.

An Al Jazeera spokesman said that the company would continue its strong coverage regardless.

'Designed to stifle'

"Al Jazeera sees this as an act designed to stifle and repress the freedom of reporting by the network and its journalists," the statement said.

"In this time of deep turmoil and unrest in Egyptian society it is imperative that voices from all sides be heard; the closing of our bureau by the Egyptian government is aimed at censoring and silencing the voices of the Egyptian people.

"Al Jazeera assures its audiences in Egypt and across the world that it will continue its in-depth and comprehensive reporting on the events unfolding in Egypt.

"Al Jazeera journalists have brought unparallelled reporting from the ground from across Egypt in the face of great danger and extraordinary circumstances. Al Jazeera Network is appalled at this latest attack by the Egyptian regime to strike at its freedom to report independently on the unprecedented events in Egypt."

Tunisian Leader Returns From Exile

Tunisian leader returns from exile

Rachid Ghannouchi, leader of the previously banned al-Nahda party, returns home after 21 years in the UK

Last Modified: 30 Jan 2011 12:03 GMT

Ghannouchi, left, has returned following the recent collapse of the Tunisian government

Rachid Ghannouchi, the leader of a formerly banned party, has returned to Tunisia after 21 years in exile.

More than 1,000 people gathered at the main international airport to welcome the leader of al-Nahda as he returned from the UK on Sunday, after the interim government pledged to allow his party and other movements banned under the rule of now ousted President Zine al-Abdine Ben Ali.

"I feel very happy today," the 69-year-old said as he boarded the plane in London.

"When I return home today I am returning to the Arab world as a whole... I am still the leader of my party.

"If there are free and fair elections al-Nahda will take part - in the legislative elections, not the presidential elections."

Ghannouchi's party was branded an Islamic terror group and banned by Ben Ali, although he is considered a moderate by scholars.

Supporters crowding the arrivals area of the airport held up banners reading: "No to extremism, yes to moderate Islam!" and "No fear of Islam!"

A group of about a dozen secularists were holding up banners reading: "No Islamism, no theocracy, no Sharia and no stupidity!"

Al-Nahda was the strongest opposition force in Tunisia before the crackdown that forced Ghannouchi out of the country in 1989.

Tunisia's interim government has yet to set a date for new elections. Analysts have said al-Nahda could once again rise as a major political force.

However Ghannouchi, who is not related to Mohamed Ghannouchi, Tunisia's current prime minister, has said he does not want to run for any public office.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Defend the Ideological Integrity and Values of the National Democratic Revolution

Defend the Ideological integrity and values of the national democratic revolution

SACP Solidarity Message on the 99th anniversary of the African National Congress

On behalf of the Central Committee and the 110 000 members of the South African Communist Party, I bring revolutionary greetings and solidarity message to the 99th anniversary of our ally, the African National Congress (ANC). In a number of ways, the year 2011 marks a momentous year in the history of our movement as a whole. This year marks the 90th anniversary of the SACP – 90 years of unrelentless struggle for the national liberation and reconstruction of our country.

Today we stand here, proud of the fact that for over 80 years of this history of the SACP, South African communists have not only been a dependable ally of the African National Congress, but have also played an important role in building the ANC into the force that it is today, and that many South African communists remain cadres and leaders of the ANC in their own right, and intend remaining so for as long as the goals of the national democratic revolution are yet to be achieved.

As South African communists, we are the sons and the daughters of South Africa’s workers and the poor. It is also for this reason that we have fought the struggle for national liberation as part of the struggle for socialism in our country.

Last month COSATU celebrated its 25th anniversary, and 2011 must also lay a foundation for celebrating the historic milestone of the centenary of the ANC in 2012.

Our main message to this gathering of the ANC is that we must use all these milestones to build people’s power to defend the ideological integrity of our revolution. The single biggest threat that faces our revolution today is the politics of money, the politics of selfishness, the politics of greed and a full ideological assault by liberals on our movement and its democratic majority in society.

The source of this greed and accumulation is not the ANC, but the capitalist system itself. The very crisis of global capitalism today is a product of this politics of greed and selfishness.

However, if we allow this greed and selfishness and worship of money to take root in our movement, we will not be able to defeat this threat in society as a whole.That is why it is critical that the ANC must take a lead in ensuring that we defeat the politics of money inside the ranks of our own movement and ensure that the politics of solidarity and selfless service to our people must triumph.

The liberal agenda uses the language of defending our constitution, but in its essence it is narrow constitutionalism, anti-majority rule and narrow human rights activism that is largely being carried through most of the media houses in our country. This agenda in essence attacks what we have always struggled for, the liberation of the black majority and the achievement of ‘one person one vote’ – universal suffrage. At the heart of this seemingly democratic posture is the defence of racialised elite class interests of the white minority.

It is for this reason that the SACP re-affirms the clarion call of our movement, that the PEOPLE SHALL GOVERN - not the liberals, not the DA, not the print media – but the PEOPLE, through their own genuine representative, the ANC-led alliance!

The SACP also wishes to restate its support and to campaign for an overwhelming ANC victory in the forthcoming local government elections. Only the ANC and the alliance it leads is best capable of advancing the interests of the overwhelming majority of our people, the workers and the poor of our country. We will join the ANC campaign based to advance the achievement of the five priorities of the ANC-led alliance, as well as a commitment to addressing local development priorities facing the many communities in the various localities in our country.

The SACP welcomes the ANC approach to the selection of candidate councillors by involving communities in this process. The ANC must however ensure that this process is not corrupted or short-circuited through the convening of bogus community meetings that do not genuinely involve the whole of local communities.

We will work tirelessly to ensure an overwhelming ANC victory including the reclaiming of the Western Cape from the right-wing DA, and ensuring that we liberate all the municipalities in KZN from the IFP.

Happy 99th anniversary!


Mandela Doing Well at Home

BuaNews (Tshwane)

South Africa: Mandela Doing Well At Home

29 January 2011

Pretoria — Former President Nelson Mandela, who was discharged from Milpark hospital on Friday, is in "good spirits" and resting at home, a statement released by the Presidency said on Saturday.

Acting President Kgalema Motlanthe visited Mandela at home where he was reportedly doing well.

"At the conclusion of the visit, Mr Motlanthe said President Mandela was doing very well, in good spirits and resting. Mr Mandela told Acting President Motlanthe that he was pleased to be back at home and spending quality time with his loved ones," said the statement.

He was discharged after spending two-and-a-half days at the Milpark Hospital for treatment for an acute respiratory infection. Madiba's respiratory problems date back to when he was on Robben Island where he suffered from Tuberculosis. The elder statesman will now receive home-based care.

Motlanthe urged the public to remain calm adding that Mandela was receiving the best medical care possible under the supervision of the South African National Defence Force Surgeon General Vejaynand Ramlakan.

"Government will ensure that the public is kept informed about the progress Mr Mandela was making," added the statement.