Posts Tagged ‘Arab Spring’

The passing scene – links & comments 10/21/2015

October 21, 2015

The Secret to Winning the Nobel Peace Prize: Keep the U.S. military out by Rebecca Gordon for TomDispatch.

Tunisia was the one country where the Arab Spring movement succeeded.  Four Tunisian organizations devoted to human rights deservedly won the latest Nobel Peace Prize.

Tunisia was the one country in which the U.S. government did not interfere, either militarily or politically, and it is the one country where the Arab Spring movement resulted in a stable, democratic government.

Rebecca Gordon, after reviewing U.S. policy in Egypt, Yemen, Libya, Bahrain and Syria, concludes that this is not a coincidence.  There’s a lesson to be learned here.

Obama Just Signed a Blank Check for Endless War in Afghanistan by John Nichols for The Nation.

Rep. Barbara Lee

Rep. Barbara Lee

Rep. Barbara Lee, a California Democrat, says it’s time to repeal the open-ended 2001 Authorization to Use Military Force and have Congress decide whether to continue military intervention in Afghanistan and other countries.

How Credit Scores Treat People Like Numbers by Frank Pasquale for The Atlantic.

I commented on how Chinese credit card companies and maybe the Chinese government are linking all kinds of human behaviors to credit scores, and how this can be a subtle means of suppressing nonconformity.  Well, it seems the same thing is going on in the United States—maybe not with that conscious intent, but with the same result.

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Two Arab fighters for human rights

May 9, 2012

Julian Assange interviewed two important Arab fighters for human rights, whom I’d never heard of, on his latest The World Tomorrow program, which was broadcast yesterday.  One was Alaa Abd El-Fattah of Egypt, who is living abroad, and the other is Bahrain’s Nabeel Rajab, who was arrested May 5 shortly after his interview with Assange was recorded.  El-Fattah also faces charges of damaging military property, stealing weapons and committing murder–acts of violence he said he would have had to be comic book superhero to pull off.

Both have been subject to midnight kidnapings, beatings, imprisonment and harassment of their families, including their small children.  Both are critical of U.S. policy.  Rajab said the U.S. government is trying to thwart revolution in Bahrain, El-Fattah said the U.S. government is trying to channel and restrict the course of revolution in Eygpt.   Rajab said the struggle in Bahrain has been subject to a news blackout by the main Arabic-language news networks, Al Jazeera and al-Arabiya.

El-Fatah is a long-time blogger, programmer and political activist.  His parents were human rights advocates under Anwar Sadat.  He spent 45 days in jail in 2006 under the Mubarak regime, and was released after a worldwide protest.  In 2011, from abroad, he helped protestors route messages around President Mubarak’s Internet blockade.  He noted, however, that although members of the educated Egyptian middle class, who use the electronic social media, played an important role in the overthrow of Mubarak, but it is a mistake to focus exclusively on them.  “You are ignoring the workers,” he said.  “You are ignoring the street battles.  You are ignoring how much we had to use violence.”

He said he is not sure what form democracy will take in Egypt, but “it is certainly not a boring Western representative democracy, where your nation could go to war, like the UK, without the consent of the populace, where electing the President who promised hope is almost the same thing as electing the President who didn’t promise hope, as happened in the US. … The dream is a democracy that doesn’t give rise to Occupy Wall Street and Occupy London and the Greek riots…”

Rajab was a member of a pro-regime family but became a human rights advocate after graduating from college in 1988.  Together with Abdullah al-Khawaja, he established the Bahrain Center for Human Rights in 2002.  After al-Khawaja was arrested, he led protests calling for his release.   He said the protests in Bahrain are subject to a news blackout from al Jazeera, which is based in the neighboring Persian Gulf Sheikdom of Qatar which, like Bahrain, has a Sunni ruling family.   He said the Bahrain government falsely claims that the Bahrain struggle is instigated by the Shiite government of Iran.  Assange said that U.S. diplomats in Bahrain, in cables obtained by WikiLeaks, acknowledged there is no evidence of this.

The United States and other Western governments are aligned with the Saudi Arabian ruling family, Rajab said; that is why the U.S. government is trying to persuade the Russian government to stop arms shipments to Syria, while U.S. arms shipments to Bahrain continue.

He said he wishes he could keep his family out of the struggle, but this is not possible.   He was beaten in his home in the presence of his 14-year-old son and 9-year-old daughter.  But violence in Bahrain is so random, he said, that there would not be any safety in being sildent.

Click on Assange Episode 4 for highlights of the program

Click on Common Dreams for capsule biographies of Alaa Abd El-Fattah and Nabeel Rajab

Click on The World Tomorrow for the TV program’s home page and earlier episodes.

An interview with Tunisia’s new leader

May 2, 2012

Moncef Marzouki, a Tunisian human rights activist who was imprisoned and exiled, is now the head of the Tunisian government.  This video shows him being interviewed by Julian Assange about torture, double standards and the responsibilities of power.

Julian Assange’s new The World Tomorrow program appears on the RT (Russia Today) network each Tuesday, and is generally available on YouTube the following Wednesday.  This is the third show in the series.

Why young Americans are revolting

November 15, 2011

Click to enlarge. MENA is overall Middle East / North Africa.

Unemployment among American young people is almost as high as it is among young people in the Middle East and North Africa.  Is it any wonder that the United States is having its version of the Arab Spring?  And the response of Mayor Bloomberg in New York City and other mayors was pretty much what Hosni Mubarak did in the same circumstances.

Click to enlarge

Only about 45 percent of Americans age 16 to 24 have jobs, less than at any time since these statistics were first measured in 1948.

Click on Youth Unemployment in the United States In Line With Arab Spring Countries for Mike Konczal’s report on his Rortybomb web log.