Egypt arming Libyan rebels

March 21st, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink


Egypt’s military has begun shipping arms over the border to Libyan rebels with Washington’s knowledge, U.S. and Libyan rebel officials said.

The shipments—mostly small arms such as assault rifles and ammunition—appear to be the first confirmed case of an outside government arming the rebel fighters

Compare this to Robert Fisk’s piece from a fortnight ago,

the Americans have asked Saudi Arabia if it can supply weapons to the rebels in Benghazi. The Saudi Kingdom…has so far failed to respond to Washington’s highly classified request…
But the Saudis remain the only US Arab ally strategically placed and capable of furnishing weapons to the guerrillas of Libya.

I guess either the Saudi request got nowhere, or at least has only happened behind the scenes. Besides, whatever Fisk thinks, Egypt is obviously better placed to move weapons into the East of Libya

The WSJ also has some interesting comment on the various positions among Arab states:

Lebanon took a lead role drafting and circulating the draft of the resolution, which calls for “all necessary measures” to enforce a ban on flights over Libya. The United Arab Emirates and Qatar have taken the lead in offering to participate in enforcing a no-fly zone, according to U.N. diplomats.

Libyan rebel officials in Benghazi, meanwhile, have praised Qatar from the first days of the uprising, calling the small Gulf state their staunchest ally. Qatar has consistently pressed behind the scenes for tough and urgent international action behind the scenes, these officials said.

Qatari flags fly prominently in rebel-held Benghazi.

Against the referendum

March 15th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

In Egypt, the protest movement is mainly calling for a no vote to Saturday’s referendum on constitutional amendments:

The upcoming referendum on the proposed amendments to the Egyptian constitution, scheduled March 19th, gives people a sense that the revolutionary process is reaching its end. The limited scope of the amendments, the majority dealing with electoral matters (such as presidential term limits, reduced length of the president’s term, judicial oversight of elections…), imply that the 11 men of the amendment drafting committee were not attempting to upend the existing order, but were attempting to establish a legal framework for the transition from Mubarak’s rule.

Yet, over the last few days, the legal community – including human rights lawyers, law professors and lawyers in general practice – has begun to coalesce around a consensus in favor of completely rewriting the constitution as the necessary next step in the political process. Many legal professionals believe that the amendments represent a dangerous step backward. As a result, many in the legal community have begun to organize a call for the referendum to be scrapped and/or for people to cast a “no” vote in protest to the entire process.

[not sure how representative this position is, but it’s one I’m running into a great deal online]

Egypt: getaway plans

January 26th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

Issandr El Amrani on managing protest:

My own experience is that elite Egyptians tend to think in terms of getaway plans, because they are either deeply in bed with the regime or because they expect an uprising to become a class war

[doh: it’d be interesting to map the world in terms of how much consideration elites give to escape plans. You’d come out with some combination of physical insecurity, political insecurity, and paranoia. Who in Europe has a second passport ‘just in case’? Or realy, really wants one? Almost nobody. But in Egypt? In Israel? In China?]

There has been a dramatic state failure to maintain basic health services and deliver good education. This is perhaps Egypt’s biggest failure. And as in all Arab countries, autocratic political systems have de-intermediated citizens from their rulers. What I mean by this is that the channels to relay popular grievances to governments have been deeply eroded by money and power. This is dangerous, because in the end it blindsides the regimes to the popular mood, and means there are people at the local level who have the moral authority to calm the situation should there be an outburst of anger.

Egypt link-dump

January 25th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

I know nothing about Egypt. Or Tunisia. Or Sudan. Or Lebanon. Or Albania. Or — there’s a lot of news happening at the moment, isn’t there?

But here are some of the articles I’ve found about Egypt that get beyond “woo! riots!“:

Al-ahram on the significance of the date:

Police Day [Jan 25] is meant to mark the day when the police forces took to the street in Ismailia to fight the British Occupation.

“The decision may be controversial but I think it was a good choice,” says Essam El Erian, the media spokesperson of the Muslim Brotherhood, the country’s largest opposition group. “Six decades ago the police did their patriotic duty and fought the British occupation, now we ask them to also fight against a corrupt government that has rigged the elections.”

Marc Lynch on the Arabic media:

During the key period when the protests were picking up steam, Al Jazeera aired a documentary cultural program on a very nice seeming Egyptian novelist and musical groups, and then to sports. Now (10:30am EST) it is finally covering the protests in depth, but its early lack of coverage may hurt its credibility. I can’t remember another case of Al Jazeera simply punting on a major story in a political space which it has owned.

Simon Tisdall in the Guardian

Egyptians have been here before. The so-called Cairo spring of 2005 briefly lifted hopes of peaceful reform and open elections
But Tuesday’s large-scale protests were different in significant ways, sending unsettling signals to a regime that has made complacency a way of life. “Day of Rage” demonstrators in Cairo did not merely stand and shout in small groups, as is usual. They did not remain in one place. They joined together – and they marched. And in some cases, the police could not, or would not, stop them.
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 could not keep up – and predictably, resorted to violence. 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 could not keep up – and predictably, resorted to violence.

Obligatory riot porn: Stopping a water cannon, Tiananmen-style. And something less violent

And, since they seem to be mentioned almost nowhere else, Global voices lists the demonstrators’ demands

  • To raise the minimum wage limit to LE 1200 and to get an unemployment aid.
  • To cancel the emergency status in the country , to dismiss Habib El-Adly and to release all detainees without court orders.
  • Disbanding the current parliament , to have a new free election and to amend the constitution in order to have two presidential limits only.

Also, Anonymous are in the thick of it. Again. They’ve apparently turned LOIC on Egyptian government websites. This is after Tunisia, where they were about the first outside group to get involved. Meanwhile in Spain, having contributed to the December protests which prevented passage of an anti-download law, they’re back at it as the government takes another shot at it.

It’s like the gang of bored teenagers on the street corner has turned into a politicised mob.

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