Crackdowns Against Arab Spring Continue

1. Tens of thousands of protesters are said to have come out in the Yemeni city of Taizz on Monday, but were fired on by security forces, who killed 11 and wounded 500. This according to CNN. Protesters also rallied in Sanaa, Aden, Ibb and Hodeida. Ta’izz, a city of 460,000, lies in the southwest of the country. Protesters insist that President Ali Abdullah Saleh step down in favor of his vice president, Vice President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi, who should preside over a transition to free and fair elections. The Obama administration has finally decided that Saleh must go. Is that imperialism or supporting reform? You decide.

Aljazeera English has video:

2. As protests continued in the Damascus suburb of Douma– with thousands of people chanting for ‘freedom’ on Sunday and mourning protesters killed earlier– Syrian President Bashar al-Asad appointed a new technocratic prime minister. Some of Syria’s protests, as at Deraa in the south, have had to do with poor state management of water provision, and the new PM Adel Safar had been agriculture minister in the old cabinet. In the meantime, the radical Palestinian group Hamas, based in the Gaza Strip, came out in favor of Bashar al-Asad continuing in power.

Euronews has video:

3. The hardline Sunni government in Bahrain has banned the country’s only independent newspaper, al-Wasat. It stands accused of libelling the nation. Meanwhile, a prominent Iranian lawmaker called on Saudi Arabia to apologize for sending troops to Bahrain to aid in a crackdown on protesters.

4. Pro-Qaddafi forces continue to shell civilian facilities such as medical clinics in Misrata. Those who have escaped the city speak of a ‘massacre’ there by Qaddafi forces, with bodies in the streets. Water and food are scarce.

Aljazeera English has video:

See also this clip, which says that in just the past week Qaddafi’s forces have killed 160 persons, or nearly 23 a day; another eyewitness speaks of ‘dozens’ killed daily:

15 Responses

  1. “The Obama administration has finally decided that Saleh must go. Is that imperialism or supporting reform? You decide.”

    Juan, if you cannot see why the US president “deciding” when other heads of state “must go” is by nature an imperialist action, then I’m afraid you’ve internalized the logic of the Empire.

    Regardless of how horrible Saleh is, it is simply NOT the role of the US president to decide when other heads of state have to go anymore than it is the role of the President of Mongolia.

    When are people in the US (let alone scholars) going to understand the meaning of SELF-DETERMINATION??

    • When it comes to Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, etc…Obviously USA cannot be compared with Mangolia. When you send your arms and money to support a dictator to surpress his own people, then you have legsl and ethical responsibilities. These dictatorships are classified as US allies. It’s so funny and ugly to talk about SELF-DETERMINATION when you are standing by the side of dictators by all means. STOP your support to these dictators. According to a recent American statement, the world should only interfer in a country when there is a mass kulling in thousands… so, in other words, these regimes are allowed to kill their people slowly. Let’s make it clear: the people of the ME do not need NATO’s or US support… what we really need is to stop supporting these dictators. The people are capable of removing these dictators provided you truely leave us determine our future.

  2. as to Yemen:
    the ? you pose is tendentious at best
    In the first place change of leaders is not necessarily reform; that would remain to be seen.
    More importantly, US imperialism is not carried out by sticking to only one leader no matter what he does or says. (remember Diem). It is simply about assuring that whomever is in power will do what or make available whatever resources the US needs.
    The only useful question is what happens when a new regime comes in and what pressure we have and use to bend it to our will.
    In unlikely possibility that then new regime (so i hope) is not bent to our will, only then might we conclude that the US supported reform and rejected imperialism.

  3. “The Obama administration has finally decided that Saleh must go. Is that imperialism or supporting reform?”

    Even in the context within which you pose this question it is quite clear that Washington has realised that Salih is not going to be able to maintain himself in power much longer by employing the repressive methods whcich he has used for some years.

    And so, just as was the case in Egypt, the US is switching horses in midstream. If this is ‘supporting reform’ is is support given very late and amounting to much less than all the support that has been given to preventing reform.

    It is of course imperialism: a cold calculation of the best interests of the Empire’s ruling class. Not a very clever or subtle calculation but one which, though months late and millions of dollars short, was inevitable.

    Why should the Empire suddenly prefer the interests of the Arab masses to its own?

  4. The Obama administration has finally decided that Saleh must go.

    I would like to point out that this represents the third time in the past few months that the Obama administration has chucked overboard a cooperative Middle Eastern dictator because of his human rights violations and refusal to push forward with democratic reforms in the face of popular protests.

    Which makes all of the blather about “imperialist,” “colonial” Obama fighting a War for Oil in Libya look pretty ridiculous.

    We’re clearly not talking about cold-blooded, material-interest-based realpolitik as the driving factor of the Obama administration’s response to the popular uprisings and resulting crackdowns in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, and now Yemen. Obama’s actions i/r/t Libya are clearly of a piece with his political and diplomatic efforts in Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, and pre-slaughter Libya, and any analysis of the Libyan intervention needs to start with that.

    • The Obama administration has not “chucked” any of its old friends overboard. It has stayed with them, and supported them to the hilt, to the very last moment.
      To argue otherwise is to re-write history and very recent history at that: Mubarak and Ben Ali were not only given every assistance to remain in power, since their passing the US has laboured mightily to install clones in their places.

      Obama is carrying out an imperial policy, devoid of any ethical principles and certainly of any preference for democracy. Tonight, for example, we learn of the triumph of his Haitian policy: the “election’ of a Ton Ton Macoute entertainer, placed on the ballot, at US insistence, after losing in the first round. That is Imperialism (not democracy) in action.

      So is the current orgy of repression, accompanied by wild charges against Iran, in Bahrain.

  5. It is time for West to get out of Libya. UN Resolution 1973 was to protect Libyans, not bomb them.

    It is shameful that UN Secretary, General Ban ki Moon has played in the hands of western powers. Instead of bringing peace, he has brought death and destruction to Libya. UN’s mandate is to make peace not war. He should have made his best efforts to bring warring tribes to the table to accomplish peace. Also, UN should have sent in peacekeeping forces to protect Ben Ghazi and other cities, not send in western troops to kill Libyan citizens through air and missile attacks. Ban ki Man has lost his mandate and should resign immediately.

  6. Douma in Dmascus is where the Iraqi refugees first encounter UNWRA. Is the unrest there going to drag those 2 million of the disposessed into trouble? One rather hopes not.

    I do rather like Steven Walt’s calm rationality.

    link to walt.foreignpolicy.com

  7. “The Obama administration has finally decided that Saleh must go. Is that imperialism or supporting reform?”

    How many countries is President Obama going to be President of? President Obama from Afghanistan to Pakistan to Yemen to Libya to the Ivory Coast to Honduras is playing at being a colonialist. In the case of Libya President Obama took us to war when we were not threatened by Libya illegally by not consulting Congress for approval.

  8. But isn’t the important question wrt Saleh and Yemen, once again, the Saudi’s?

    So, are we again doing the Saudi’s bidding by broadcasting our disvowal of Saleh or (doubtful) are we “defiantly” indicating that we will no longer prop up the Saudi-”friendly” Saleh government ….

    Has there been any further explanation/confirmation/details wrt the Asia Times/Pepe Escobar contention that there was an American/Saudi quid pro quo wrt Bahrain and Libya?

    Again, how does the international press blow?

  9. Many say, ” nothing good ever comes of Western intervention”, “Can a country that kills hundreds of thousands in Iraq do anything good?” If you are cemented in this mindset, than anything any US president says or does must be imperialistic. If America stumbled into doing something good, the “anti-war-party” would not know it.

  10. Dear Dr. Juan,
    I’ve noticed that Bahrain events have recently declined in your analysis. I hope IC won’t follow media way of coverage focusing. you refered many times to the importance and distinctiveness of Bahrain developings. So, some readers, I for instance, hope to be informed of these developings’ potentials and consequences in a region (eastern arab world) where autocratic regimes and fundemental oppositions try to use the shii-sunni tensions in their struggle bringing to mind that this region has two problematic factors; Arab-Israili conflict and huge Oil reserves.

  11. Don, Bevin
    If I understood you: if Obama supports Middle Eatern tyrants, it is because of US imperialism; if Obama wants the same tyrants out, it is because of US imperialism. Thank you for the clarification!

    • That’s right Al. Obama should neither support tyrants, nor push them out. He should allow the people of those countries to decide their fate without outside interference. That is what self-determination means.

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