Arab revolutions Continue

5. Tunisia’s Muslim religious party, Ennahda, has pledged to retain the secular character of the Tunisian constitution. Leader Rashid Ghanoushi says that the party won’t try to make sharia or Islamic canon law the basis for the new constitution. Ghanoushi has praised the “Turkish model,” which his followers maintain developed under Ghanoushi’s own influence over the Turkish Justice and Development Party. Ennahda only has 42 percent of the seats in parliament, and needs secular parties to rule the country.

4. Egyptian workers have taken advantage of the loosening of laws on union formation to establish hundreds of new unions and to launch strikes for a better deal. Egypt’s economy is expect to grow 1.4 percent this year, and 4 percent next year. But the question for the union movement is how that growth will be distributed, to Egypt’s 1% or to its 99 percent?

3. Egyptian secularists and democrats are worried about the decision of the Muslim Brotherhood to put Khairat Shater up to run for president. The Brotherhood has a majority in the lower house, and observers worry that if it gains the presidency as well, that development would allow the emergence of a one-party state. The Brotherhood had earlier pledged not to run anyone for president

2. Bahrain protesters fought Bahrain police on Monday, destroying two police vehicles. The Shiite majority in the island Gulf nation wants a constitutional monarchy.

1. Despite Syrian government pledges to accept a UN-brokered cease-fire, the Baath regime launched further repressive raids on dissident city quarters. In the southern town of Dael, the tanks destroyed some 15 dwellings in the course of attempting to crush the uprising there. The Syrian army also killed 10 persons in its continuing assault in Homs.

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11 Responses

  1. I wonder how Khairat El-Shater’s candidacy affects Moneim Aboul Fotouh and Hazem Salah Abu Ismail. He could draw off a lot of votes from both but has entered late and may not actually receive more votes in the initial round.

    There was a poll from the Al Ahram Center that gives the impression that Amr Moussa and Hazem Salah Abu Ismail have the most support (prior to El-Shater’s entry) but the polls for Egypt have been very unreliable. The polls about the parliamentary elections were often off by a large amount.

    It seems like one possibility is for Amr Moussa to get a slight plurality of the vote and then enter the run-off against either Moneim Aboul Fotouh or Khairat El-Shater. If the poll is reasonably accurate, Moneim Aboul Fotouh may not do as well as expected. However, he appears to have a lot of support among a significant faction of the Muslim Brotherhood as well as among many of the liberals.

    It will be interesting to see how well Amr Moussa would do in the run-off if he makes it to the second round of voting.

    The outcome of this election is going to be very hard to predict.

  2. egypt:observers worry that if it gains the presidency as well, that development would allow the emergence of a one-party state.

    marwan bishara (aljazeera analyst) was on cspan discussing his book. an audience member raised the question of whether the arab spring was an authentic expression of populace desire for freedom and democracy or was it something that’s only being hijacked by islamic extremists.

    bishara replied that fear of the people had been so demolished that never again would egypt be ruled by just one islamic party or ruled by the military like it had been in the past. he insisted that that old paradigm had been shattered.

    this kind of skepticism was heard during the arab spring. i even heard people argue that democracy was a western concept that couldn’t be applied to the middle east and you were an “orientalist” for trying to apply western concepts to arabs!

    it’s down right bigotry to consider arabs incapable or “not ready” for democracy. i wish more mena pundits would call out this bias for the bigotry it is!

  3. I have just read that the USA is pleased that Shater is being put forward after all. Sounds ominous.

  4. It’s finally occurred to me (duh…) that a revolution is a process, and if it isn’t ongoing it was only an effete temper fit.

    There was a rather paternal, and to me condescending interview, with Gov. Kasich (sp?) of Ohio about Occupy Wall Street, where he sympathetically observed those activities as an opportunity for people “to just get things off their chests,” and it was time to bag-it and go back to work.

    An action is not a movement, and if it is not a movement it’s nothing. There is a point to gearing one’s self with the commitment needed for the long haul, and that’s the encouraging thing about what we may be seeing.

  5. “Egyptian secularists and democrats are worried about the decision of the Muslim Brotherhood to put Khairat Shater up to run for president.”

    There is good reason for secularists and democrats to be worried. It is beginning to look like the Muslim Brotherhood has been using a “bait and switch” strategy to gain power. They first said they would not contest every parliamentary seat, and then they did just that. Then they said they would not run a candidate for president, and now they are. Perhaps a zebra does not really change its stripes after all.

    • Yes, let us all keep hoping, and if we are in a position to tilt the table, keep working, to peddle the old Narrative, like little snippets of “they said” impeachment, and thus ensure more of “business as usual,” so as not to waste all that hard-developed set of skills for playing the Great Game.

      Maybe the problem is in fact that the herd of aging zebras, with their coterie of Jackals, are so attached to their stripes that they will strangle or dirk anything different and new and closer to the Golden Rule, so as not to lose the rank and privileges that come with all those carefully accreted stripes.

  6. Couldn’t sleep….

    My first real response: If my family’s home had been one of the 15 dwellings destroyed and/or any of my family killed I’d tried to roundup the survivors and make an attempt to assassinate Assad.

    Reading the other responses of how to make the next move in the insane game of politics/war makes me sick of our government and all others government.

    Bahrain: I assume the trouble in Bahrain is between the poor Shiite majority and the ruling Sunni monarchy, millionaire politicians, oil tycoons, and the banking hub owners. Similar to the troubles between America’s 99% and the 1% bastards.

    In the New York Times, Apr 4:

    “–The crackdown won a tactical and perhaps ephemeral victory through torture, arrests, job dismissals and the blunt tool of already institutionalized discrimination against the island’s Shiite Muslim majority.

    But in its wake, sectarian tension has exploded, economic woes have deepened and American willingness to look the other way has cast Washington as hypocritical. Taken together, the repression and warnings of radicalization may underline an emerging dictum of the Arab uprisings: violence begets violence.–”

    Appears that people have been illegally jailed and killed.

    But of course it’s the base for the United States Navy’s Fifth Fleet, an oil producing country, a major? banking hub and therefore the US looks the other way.

    So what if people are illegally jailed and killed.

    Would any of you willing sacrafice your home or a family member?

    The US looks the other way. The insane game of war and politics continues. It has to stop……………

  7. Re: Egypt, I wonder what would happen if things were allowed to evolve naturally, without outside meddling. I know that Egypt is too close, geographically, to Zionist occupied Palestine to be allowed to make its own decisions but it’s just something I wonder about.

  8. Another possible focal point of Arab Spring revolutionary activity is Algeria. The legislative elections on May 10 have a potential to spark a renewal of protests there.

    There are two possibilities for what will happen with the elections, both scenarios could act as catalysts for demands for change:

    1. The elections are massively rigged and/or heavily boycotted and thus the outcome is viewed as illegitimate and intolerable.

    2. The election results to some degree reflect popular opinion and turnout reaches a critical mass.

    In the first scenario, public disaffection would be a compelling reason to seek revolutionary change, seeing as how such activity worked in Tunisia and Egypt. In the second case, demands would increase to transfer power to the parliament and allow the creation of a real, dictatorial cabinet. The ruling clique’s power and prestige would steadily erode if a sustained challenge is issued.

    Not saying that there inevitably will be an Algerian Spring in the next few months but a potential for such events does exist, in part because of the looming election.

  9. The Muslim Brotherhood is the parent organization to Hamas.

    Its ascension into a potentially controlling bloc within a future Egyptian government could be a boost to the citizens of Gaza. Egypt in pre-1967 days administered Gaza but did not garner a loyal following amongst mainstream Gazans.

    The Muslim Brotherhood has made a number of indications that it could be providing a supportive role in supplying utilities and other necessities for Gazans. A Gaza-Egypt alliance could be a tremendous boost to Gazans.

    It has been said, but never proven, that MI-6, the British intelligence service, was instrumental in the creation of Hamas in Gaza. It has also been believed the Irish Republican Army had furnished mercenaries to act as snipers in support of the Palestinian resistance while the Israel Defense Forces occupied Gaza prior to the 2005 withdrawal. The Israeli government actually contacted Britain for assistance they took the potential IRA matter so seriously. Nowadays, it is credibly believed that Iran is a major supplier of weaponry in support of various armed Islamic groups within Gaza. It also should be noted, however, that Iran would be more ideologically aligned with the more radical Islamic Jihad in Gaza than it would Hamas. Islamic Jihad and other extremist groups, such as Al-Qaeda and various other pro-Iranian splinter groups and clan leaders have enjoyed increased popularity in recent years in Gaza. So much so that Hamas leaders were recently being assassinated by these extremists; the once-influential Fatah is only a minor player in Gazan politics today.

    Ariel Sharon can be credited, by his Gaza military withdrawal in 2005 and his release of 900 Palestinian prisoners that year, with defusing the Second Intifada while giving Fatah in the West Bank and Hamas in Gaza political prestige. One of the Israeli goals in Operation Cast Lead and in implementing the sea blockade was to turn the Gazan public away from Hamas rule; ironicaly the Gazan public tended to support more extremist groups as a result.

    The prospect of Gaza being controlled by Islamic Jihad and its allies is scary to Israel. Their rocket attacks into southern Israeli cities such as Ashkelon and Sderot were literally applauded by Gazans as their spokesman told Netanyahu that they “wanted a war” – something Defense Minister Ehud Barak said he did not want. Cooler heads prevailed and a truce was reached. Israeli citizens affected by the rocket launches questioned whether a shutdown of southern Israeli cities was worth the cost of the IDF operation which triggered the rocket firings.

    Hamas is the most moderate and credible governing force in Gaza. While not perfect, they are certainly a better potential negotiation partner for peace than groups such as Islamic Jihad – who vow to destroy Israel and unabashedly extol terrorist means. The Obama administration should continue to place peace feelers to the Hmas leadership and a future Egyptian government controlled aby the Muslim Brotherhood could be invaluable to extending needed diplomatic and material assistance to Hamas to assist them in negotiating with Israel and stabilzing the shaky control Hamas has had internally due to Israeli interference and Islamic extremist actions.

    Khairat Shater could be the key future leader to help stabilize Hamas control of Gaza and urge peace with Israel in that region.

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