ModernityBlog

“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” Abraham Lincoln

Posts Tagged ‘Egypt

Unrest In The Middle East.

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The Associated Press has a summary of unrest in the Middle East:

“SYRIA

Syria’s vice president calls for a transition to democracy in a country ruled for four decades by an authoritarian family dynasty, crediting mass protests with forcing the regime to consider reforms while also warning against further demonstrations. Vice President Farouk al-Sharaa was speaking at a national dialogue. Key opposition figures driving the four-month-old uprising boycott the meeting, refusing to talk until a deadly crackdown on protesters ends.

EGYPT

Army troops firing in the air clash with stone-throwing protesters in the strategic city of Suez after crowds block a key highway to push for faster reform efforts, including probes of alleged abuses during the uprising that toppled President Hosni Mubarak. Suez has been hit by days of unrest over calls for swifter action against Mubarak-era officials. In Cairo, protesters block access to the Egyptian capital’s largest government building and threaten to expand sit-ins to other sites.
…”

Elsewhere the Torygraph reports:

“In scenes that would have been remarkable before four months of protests and violent suppression, the regime of President Bashar al-Assad allowed public criticism to be aired at a televised conference and promised “multi-party democracy” in response.

“The bullets are still being fired in Homs and Hama,” said one participant, the writer Tayyeb Tizini, of two major cities that have seen repeated demonstrations. “Laying the foundations for a civil society requires the dismantling of the police state.

“That’s an absolute prerequisite, because otherwise the police state will sabotage all our efforts.” He also called for the freeing of “thousands” of political prisoners, some who he said had been in prison for years.

But the convention was boycotted by many more leading dissidents and opposition figures with links to the street protests, calling its final purpose into question. “I thought 1,500 people died for more than a dialogue between the regime and itself,” one activist wrote on Twitter. “

Dictators’ Malware.

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Whilst protesters across the Middle East and elsewhere are using social media and the Internet to coordinate actions against dictators and other despots, they are not alone.

Eli Lake in the Washington Times has news of how a British company offered software to spy on protesters, or more accurately their PC activities:

“Egyptian anti-regime activists found a startling document last month during a raid inside the headquarters of the country’s state security service: A British company offered to sell a program that security experts say could infect dissidents’ computers and gain access to their email and other communications.

The discovery highlights the emerging market of Western companies that sell software to security services from the Middle East to China to spy on the kinds of social media activists who recently toppled regimes in Egypt and Tunisia.

Amid the scattered papers, interrogation devices and random furniture found during the raid, the activists uncovered a proposed contract dated June 29 from the British company Gamma International that promised to provide access to Gmail, Skype, Hotmail and Yahoo conversations and exchanges on computers targeted by the Interior Ministry of ousted President Hosni Mubarak.

The proposal from Gamma International was posted online by Cairo physician Mostafa Hussein, a blogger who was among the activists who seized the ministry’s documents. “

Maikel Nabil Sanad.

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I read on CyberDissidents.org how an Egyptian blogger has been jailed, and I think his case deserves more publicity:

“Nabil has been arrested several times for his political activities. Most recently, he was arrested on March 28th for a blog post criticizing the role of the military in the “January 25” protests that ousted former President Hosni Mubarak. He is awaiting a trial by military tribunal, which has already been postponed by four days.

Nabil was arrested at night at his home in Ein Shams and has been detained since then. He has been forbidden to contact his family, though he succeeded in secretly calling his brother. The blog post for which he was arrested questioned the army’s intentions in seeing the Mubarak regime fall. On April 11, he was sentenced to 3 years in jail. “

The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information has more on human right abuses in the region.

I would recommend using the Chrome browser and viewing their Arabic pages as they are more up to date, Chrome should provide an option to automatically translate the pages.

This is the ANHRI’s page on Egypt.

The Fate of Dictators?

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Over in Egypt events are moving on a pace, with the removal of the symbols of the Mubarak period, the New York Times reports:

““Egyptians have adopted this habit for centuries — since the time of the pharaohs, when the image of pharaoh was everywhere,” said Mr. Sabry, doing a little walk-like-an-Egyptian maneuver with his hands and head. “Corrupt people should not be honored. I do not want to delete 30 years of Egyptian history, but I want to remove that name.”

The name and face have been scraped away piecemeal since Mr. Mubarak was overthrown Feb. 11 after three decades as president. Mr. Sabry’s lawsuit, filed in Cairo Expediency Court on March 1, seeks a court order to mandate “deMubarakization” in one fell swoop.

The idea draws widespread, but not universal, approval. A brief legal hearing on the issue on Thursday ignited a heated skirmish outside the downtown Cairo courthouse between those seeking to preserve the Mubarak name and those wanting it expunged.

Given that the once universal billboards bearing Mr. Mubarak’s portrait have largely come down, the sudden profusion of his picture held aloft by more than 100 supporters seemed alien. “

It is More Than Mubarak.

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The problems of Egypt go beyond a single President or his VP.

And the rot goes much deeper, just considering two aspects should make that clear, State violence and economic power.

Violence against ordinary Egyptians has been a fact of life from before the time of Sadat’s repression in the 1970s/80s. There have been decades of violence, censorship and State interference. Most economic changes since the 1970s have benefited a very small minority of rich Egyptian families, the military, security services and their allies.

Fixing Egypt, and offering ordinary Egyptians a taste of freedom and more importantly a degree of financial security, is going to be very difficult.

I do not see it succeeding without a real and concious process of wealth distribution, from the corrupt elites to the people of Egypt.

That necessary change seems unlikely to occur.

For the moment the army is in charge, they have a conflicted role. On the one hand as instruments of change and on the other, how they propped up Mubarak’s repressive regime.

We should not forget they were the major backers of Mubarak and without them he could not rule.

So the question is, what now and will the Army manage to bring in any real change?

I am not so sure, as the vested interests in the ruling clique are against real reform, against real change.

They might usher in a new constitution with all of the trappings of bourgeois democracy, even initiate the first proper elections for over 60 years, but will that be sufficient?

The deep seated problems of Egypt go further than elections: endemic corruption, a lack of development, an almost non-existent welfare state and infrastructure, and generational poverty are just a few of those tangible issues that have to be dealt with.

Mubarak is history, and not before time, but let us wish Egyptians good luck with their struggles, the real problems facing Egyptians are ahead.

Written by modernityblog

13/02/2011 at 19:15

Mubarak: Can’t Take A Hint.

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Hosni Mubarak like so many with power, can’t give it up and certainly can’t take a hint, from the Egyptian people.

He is hoping the longer he holds on, that the greater the chance of the protests dissipating and him being able to fiddle the elections in September, as he and the ruling regime have done for decades.

I imagine that his stubbornness will only invigorate those that have sensed the taste of freedom, without the 30 years of his dictatorship and the emergency powers.

Hosni Mubarak is clearly worried that once he leaves the Presidency he’ll be fair game and liable for assassination, as often happens with dictators and despots, but there’s a broader picture here because in many ways he is a figurehead for a wider regime with corruption and repression embedded in it.

Those factors and the dire economic circumstances faced by so many Egyptians fuel the protests.

The sooner that the Egyptians are rid of Mubarak and his henchmen the better, the sooner ordinary Egyptians can live without the threat of jail, a beating or lifelong poverty the better.

Go Mubarak, go now.

Update 1: Kellie has more.

Revolt, Reaction And Mubarak.

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Eight days into the revolt in Egypt and we are seeing Mubarak marshal his forces against the peaceful protesters.

Mubarak and his clique were caught off guard by the speed and vigour of the uprising against their corrupt rule, initially they were unsure what to do and just employed the Interior Ministry troops.

They were insufficient and thankfully overwhelmed, so then the military came into view, but again they were unsure precisely which side to commit to.

Mubarak has been pressurised both internally and externally, yet he’s not buckling, he’s clinging to power as best he can. He doesn’t want to go.

Mubarak assumes he can’t fully rely on the army, so he has brought in members of his party, the NDP and bolstered by those who benefited from his misrule they are now mounting the reaction that we see on TV.

Mubarak’s probable calculation is that they will be sufficient to cower the people’s revolt in Egypt, allow him to employe the Interior Ministry troops again and maybe the Army (despite their promises), and hold on.

The violence, instigated by Mubarak’s supporters, could give him a pretext for a clampdown, a violent and bloody one. He’s not held on to power for 30 years to give it up overnight and it would be naive to think that he would, he will cling on to the end.

But whatever happens Mubarak must go.

Written by modernityblog

02/02/2011 at 20:20