Top Pieces of Unfinished Business in the Mideast

1. Some 6000 protesters marched in Jordan on Friday. They said they wanted to transform the Jordanian monarchy into a European-style, constitutional monarchy and to return to an unamended 1952 constitution.

2. Some 100,000 Tunisians came out into the streets of Tunis on Friday to demand the resignation of caretaker prime minister Mohamed Ghannouchi. The interim government has set elections for mid-July, a key demand of protesters. It has also dissolved the former ruling party, the Rally for Constitutional Democracy to deny it advantages in the elections. But they don’t trust Ghannouchi, an insider in the regime of deposed president Zine El Abdidin Ben Ali, to oversee the lead-up to the elections. Ghannouchi is attempting to gain popularity by seizing the assets of Ben Ali’s corrupt inner circle, but so far has not been able to shake his reputation as a Ben Ali crony himself.

[Update Check: Ghannouchi just resigned..]

3. Tens of thousands of protesters came to Tahrir Square in dowtown Cairo, Egypt, on Friday, demanding the cancellation of the emergency laws that have suspended civil liberties in Egypt for 30 years. They also wanted Prime Minister Ahmad Shafiq, an appointee of deposed president Hosni Mubarak, to step down so there would be a clean break with the old regime. The Egyptian army prevented the crowd from going to the prime minister’s residence for their protest, and generally cracked down on the dissidents.

4. Some 200,000 protesters marched through Manama, the Bahrain capital, on Friday. They want Bahrain’s monarchy to become a constitutional monarchy, with guaranteed civil liberties. The also want the prime minister to be fired. The king has dismissed three other cabinet ministers.

5. Protesters in Aden, Yemen demanded that strongman Ali Abdullah Saleh step down. About 4 persons were killed and two dozen wounded as security forces over-reacted to the demonstration.

6. Overthrowing Muammar Qaddafi. The dictator’s security forces abandoned the working class district of Tajoura on Saturday after several days in which they tried just shooting down protesters to quell the demonstrations. They failed. If Qaddafi is losing significant portions of Tripoli itself, the writing is on the wall for him. (Update: Confirmation from Western reporters who reached Zawiya Sunday that the city, among the major population centers near the capital of Tripoli, is in rebel hands.

The protesters in Egypt and Tunisia had had only partial success, removing a strong man but wondering where genuine reform might have gone. Libyans still have not even removed the dictator, Qaddafi. And in Bahrain, Yemen and Jordan, popular demands for genuine economic and political reform have still largely fallen on deaf ears.

Posted in Tunisia | 15 Responses | Print |

15 Responses

  1. .
    King and Gandhi yet live.
    Wait. Be patient.
    “How long? Not long.”
    “Not long, because the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”

  2. I heard a BBC news report that claims that Prime Minister Ahmad Shafiq continues to refer to Hosni Mubarak and “The President”. I can’t help feeling that he’s just taking a furlough in Sharm-el-Sheikh.

  3. “Top 5 Pieces of Unfinished Business in the Mideast”

    I was surprised than nowhere in your list of 5 were the protests in Irak mentioned.(Quite a few of those protests were put down violently by the way.)

    Burhan Aydin

  4. You missed out the Iraqi protests or does that not count as it is now a “democracy”!!!??? The Iraqi authorities respect freedom so much that they killed and imprisoned a number of protesters. Well done those protesters though as they managed to demolish a bit of the hated American concrete wall surrounding the “green zone”.

  5. Top-5 ?? Top-6?? I’d put this one first:

    7. Protesters march every week in occupied Palestine. Israel arrests Israeli Jews, Palestinian Arabs, and internationals constantly for making peaceful demonstrations denouncing the settlements and outrages in East Jerusalem. Much was, in fact made of these demonstrations and these arrests at the opening ceremonies for the “J-Street” conference in Washington, DC, this weekend.

    I’d respectfully request that any “To Do” list for the Middle East include an item for Israel/Palestine even if the “What To Do” may be rather unclear. This one is NOT going away.

    Ending the outrages of the settlers would be a good place to start.

  6. Little by little I hear people saying that the seeds of these revolutions were planted in the Iraq Invasion which I think is a pretty grotesque notion. I wonder what these people will say if/when some of these revolutions produce corrupt military dictatorships.

  7. Well, outside of the fact that there are six items in the “top five” list, I would say the most important item of unfinished business is to replace the toppled, soon-to-be-toppled, and should-be-toppled governments with stable, representative, perhaps even democratic governments. And my concern of course is that these countries have no tradition of governments of, by, and for the people, with limited education and literacy, little or no free press or other institutions necessary for an informed public, so instituting and preserving governments that serve in the public interest will not be easy.

  8. Leaders, Rulers, Strongmen, Autocrats, Dictators,
    Despots or Tyrants; what should we call these people?
    To a large degree it depends on whether they are our
    “sons of bitches” or someone else’s; or worse yet, their own masters.
    I suggest calling them Kings.
    And to differentiate them from those Kings whose families
    have been in power for a couple of generations, lets call them
    New Kings, as in New Money!

  9. Scenes of Resistance
    Newly released extraordinary clips of people vs security forces

    Basijis on motorbikes ram through protesters in Tehran:

    link to

    Mother & Son
    Mother pleads to save her son from being taken away by security forces

  10. The Media bias continues:

    The BBC reported on the protests in Tunisia and the attacks on the protesters by pro-government thugs (not the phrase they used). The segment finished with noting that Mohamed Ghannouchi had resigned but then asked the question as to whether the Prime Ministers resignation would be enough to end the violence: implying that it had been caused by the protesters, not the government thugs.

    This crap never ends.

  11. End Enforced Disappearance of Opposition Leaders and Wives
    Int.’l Campaign for Human Rights in Iran
    (26 February 2011) The International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran called for the immediate release of Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karoubi and both their wives, who have been removed to an unknown location—reportedly a “safe house”– from their homes. Under international law, the secret holding of Musavi and Karroubi and their wives is an enforced disappearance.

    link to

    • vashti

      That is your third comment concerning Iran, but not having any link with Juan Coles’ entry. You should start your own blog if you want to comment on the situation in Iran, not hijack someone’s else blog.

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