Sunday, April 10, 2011

Al Jazeera 's Coverage of Yemen, Egypt, Bahrain, Syria Turmoil Continues As Citizens Protest in Favor of Reforms -

America's ambivalence regarding the uprisings in a number of countries-The USA as usual is not giving full support to all these nations with the exception of Libya because the administrastion needs to calculate whether or not these calls for reform, civil-rights, freedoms and democracy are in America's best interests-or at least in the interests of American corporations. While the administration condemns Qaddafi in no uncertain terms they seem rather silent or tred lightly in the case of the crackdowns in Saidi Arabia and Bahrain  or Egypt, Syria, Ivory Coast, Yemen, Iraq or Afghanistan or Pakistan

For with real reform the citizenry takes control of a nations natural resources and creates a host of regulations to be applied to these corporations from regulations dealing with Environmental protections to the health and safety of employees including their wages and benefits ie minimum wage, payment for overtime, compensation for health issues connected to their workplace  and of course what the government will take as its cut by way of taxes .
US corporations are notorious for their dislike of any regulations regarding their investments.
Odd that for a people who claim there is no free lunch as it were the corporations do expect to make huge profits while ignoring the plight of their employees or the environment or what the nations in which they operate need.

Is the Egyptian reform movement being shut out and shut down by the Egyptian military . The point of the uprising in Egypt wasn't just about getting rid of Mubarak but rather it was and is about real reform and not just replacing one bad government with another . The protesters are insisting that Egypt become a free and open society which gurantees the rights of all of its citizens and that there be freedom of the press, freedom of speech , freedom of assembly freedom of association and the freeddom of dissent.
Even America doesn't have such freedom anymore since the passing of the Patriot Act and the setting up of Homeland Security and the executive unilaterakism which now exist in the Whitehouse.

The USA allows for indefinite detention without any right to appeal of American citizens as well as the citizens of foreign nations.
Those incarcerated by US officials  can be abused, tortured all in the name of National Security.
The USA is also guilty as we have noted of various war crimes and crimes against humanity.
So why should Qaddafi or Mubarak be forced to undergo a trial at the International Criminal court when former President Goerge w. Bush and his cabal including Rumsfeld, Cheney, Gonzales, Rice et al are shielded  by the Obama administration so that these criminals are not forced to undergo similar trials.

So in the name of national security whistleblower Bradley Manning has been held for the last ten months or so most of the time he has been in solitary confinement in a small cell and every 15 minutes or so the guards make sure he is awake while the lights in his cell are never turned off-so yes under international law this constitutes torture ie sleep deprivation  and extended solitary confinement and put on medications which may be having a negative impact on his psychological state.

So in what way is the United States to be taken as the paragon of democracy and civil rights and human rights. Obama for instance wants the right to shut down the internet or at least sites such as Facebook, Twitter and so on which we have seen  authoritarian  governments and despots and dictators such as Qaddafi and others have done  to counteract popular uprisings.

" Anger flares at Egypt army for lethal protest raid :Demonstrations rage hours after troops killed one and injured 71 while dispersing a protest" by Maggie Michaels , AP, April 9,2011

Demonstrators burned cars and barricaded themselves with barbed wire in Cairo's central Tahrir Square, demanding the resignation of the military's chief Saturday hours after troops violently dispersed a protest there, killing at least one and injuring 71. 
In the pre-dawn raid on the square, hundreds of soldiers beat protesters with clubs and fired into the air in the square, highlighting the rising tensions between protesters and the military leaders whom they praised in Tahrir two months ago when President Hosni Mubarak fell from power. 
Several thousand protesters, some armed with sticks and other makeshift weapons, had moved back into the square by Saturday afternoon. They vowed not to leave until the defense minister, Field Marshal Mohammed Hussein Tantawi, resigns. Tantawi, a Mubarak appointee, leads the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, which rules Egypt now and is made up of the military's top generals. 
The confrontation could mark a key juncture in Egypt's upheaval. For weeks, protest leaders have been critical of the military's handling of the post-Mubarak transition and sought to pressure it to change, but both sides also worked to stay on good terms. Now the overnight clashes resembled the ugliest moments of the 18-day protest movement against Mubarak -- with authorities cracking down violence and protesters chanting for the leader's removal.

As the author at the blog Flyhopper  Bob Burns in an article in February  at points out the US after all in the Middle East and elsewhere has a rather shabby or even abysmal  record when it come to supporting real reform or democratic principles , rights and freedom of the citizens of these nations. The USA's only concern has been whether they can get easy and cheap access to the resources and markets in these nations. The health and welfare and human rights of the citizenry of foreign nations is or has not been a top US prioritrity when it comes to foreign relations policies.

Is Democracy Breaking Out in the Middle East? Feb. 1, 2011

...Certainly, all the usual radical Islamic suspects – Iran, most visibly -  are throwing their weight into the equation as to  where the thing will lead, but the numbers suggest that this is not an Islamic uprising, as the West seems to fear, but a throwing off of more than a half century of rule by strongmen, going all the way back to King Farouk, whom Gamel Abdul Nasser sent packing for Monte Carlo in the early 50‘s.  One does not see a sea green flags and shouts of Allahu akbar! being shown and reported in the best sources of  Middle East news currently accessible. Rather, one is struck by the thousands of Egyptian national flags being waved. 
Since the end of the World Wars, when the nations of the Middle East threw off the Ottomans, and later European colonialism, the entire area has been ruled, one way or another, by despots, kings, mullahs, and an assortment of combinations of the same,  which have denied political freedom to millions of Arabic (and Farsi) speaking people. It appears that a critical mass may have been achieved, which appears (at this point) to be unstoppable.

and for what its worth a large percentage of Americans  who are still not comfortable with the granting in the 1960s of civil rights and equality to Black Americans:">Poll: 46 percent of Mississippi Republicans want interracial marriage ban by Justin Elliott at, April 9, 2011
Al Jazeera coverage of protests in Egypt, Yemen, Syria , Bahrain who are demanding reforms and an end to corruption- in that case will the USA be next-

EGYPT - Protesters in cairo's Tahrir Square yesterday held (L-R) Yemeni, Syrian and Egyptian flags in support of anti-regime uprisings sweeping the region:

Protest in Egypt as the citizenry who are demanding reform fear that if they don't keep the pressure on those in power that is the army and or government will renege on their promises of political reform and fair elections and so on.

Will the Obama administration defend the people of Egypt or just the rich, powerful and the well connected or will the USA only support a government which will do America's bidding.

Another bit of hypocrisy on the part the Obama administration is that they still support the violent crackdown on even peaceful protesters in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain-

In the eyes of successive US administrations the Saudis appear to have immunity and so can do as it pleases and so are permitted to use whatever force they deem necessary including tear gassing beating maiming sometimes killing protesters, using snipers to shoot peaceful protesters or tossing dissidents in jail where they might be tortured -

In Saudi Arabia and Bahrain it is now illegal to hold demonstrations or protest or any kind of political rally unless it is in support of the Saudi Royal Family.

It seems more plausible each day as the turmoil in these countries continue that the Obama administration and its allies are focusing on Libya in part to shift the public and media's attention away from these other nations and are focusing on Libya because Saudi Arabia hates and distrust Qaddafi.

AlJazeera April 9, 2011.
SYRIA US President Barack Obama has criticised the the Syrian government's latest crackdown in which at least 27 people were killed in the southern city of Daraa yesterday.

I strongly condemn the abhorrent violence committed against peaceful protesters by the Syrian government today and over the past few weeks. I also condemn any use of violence by protesters.
"Furthermore, the arbitrary arrests, detention, and torture of prisoners that has been reported must end now, and the free flow of information must be permitted so that there can be independent verification of events."

Anyway one of the things to note about Obama's remarks about Syria is that Obama makes sure as Clinton and others have to condemn violence on both sides once again suggesting that somehow the two sides are approximately equal in strength and in weapons etc. Is this the sort of thought which helps Obama and his staff to sleep at night.

Is Obama also trying to defend the brutality of the army and police in Syria by alluding to the New Line of defense of the Syrian government. The Syrian government says the deaths are the result of civilian thugs .
Others would contend that the Syrian government is grasping at straws next will they cry "Terrorists"

Well we can also mention the hypocrisy on Obama's part refering to arbitrary, arrests, detention and torture when the US is guilty of the same crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan and at Guantanamo and in the case of Bradley Manning - the USA even used Syria along with Yemen , Uzbekistan and other countries as dumping grounds for renditioned detainees(POWS) where they knew the detainees would be abused and tortured . So these countries and others did America's dirty work and somehow the US government takes no responsibility for what happened to these prisoners and thereby contravened International Law which states that prisoners are not to be handed over to a government or its armed forces by which their is a high probability that these detainees will be tortured.

Thousands attend Syria funerals
Rights group criticises security forces as residents in Daraa bury those killed in Friday's protests. Reuters AlJazeera April 9, 2011

Protests were held in several Syrian cities on Friday, including in Latakia where injuries were reported [Reuters]
Thousands gathered to attend the funerals of those killed in Syria's recent violence, while a local rights group accused state security forces of committing a crime against humanity, following the violent deaths.

People chanted freedom slogans after assembling for the mass funerals near the old Omari mosque in the old quarter of the southern city of Daraa on Saturday.
The National Organisation for Human Rights said that 37 people were killed during Friday's demonstrations across the country.
In Daraa, the centre of the protests, 30 people were killed. Three more people died in the central city of Homs and three in Harasta, a Damascus suburb, as well as one in Douma.

"Probably the protests yesterday were the most widespread since they began less than a month ago," Al Jazeera's Rula Amin said from the capital Damascus.
"People [in Daraa] are telling us thousands are expected to take part in the funerals of those who were killed and they insist on their version of events that it was the security forces who shot at their sons."
Residents in the Sunni district of Latakia also said security forces used live ammunition in the early hours of Saturday to disperse a pro-democracy protest by hundreds of people there.

"What is happening in Syria is a flagrant violation of [human rights]," the National Organisation for Human Rights said in a statement.
"The Syrian security committed [in Daraa] what could be called a crime against humanity ... It fired indiscriminately on protesters and killed and wounded tens of them."
The group listed the names of the dead in Daraa.
'Armed gangs' accused
Protests have spread across Syria, challenging the rule of President Bashar al-Assad, and dozens of demonstrators have been killed.
After Friday's bloodshed, Syria's interior ministry warned it would not tolerate breaches of the law and would deal with "armed groups", state news agency SANA said on Saturday.
"What the government is saying is that it has its own forces being shot at. They say about 19 policeman and security members were killed during the clashes in Daraa and they accuse armed gangs," our correspondent said.
A witness in Latakia told Reuters he saw water trucks hosing down blood on the streets near the Takhasussieh School in the Sleibeh district, 330 km northwest of Damascus.
"One cannot move two steps in the streets without risking arrest. It is difficult to know if there were deaths, but we heard heavy AK-47 fire," a resident said.
"One thing is certain. This regime of thugs is exposing its fangs. Brutality is the only thing it knows," he told Reuters by telephone.
Activists have called for daily rallies in Syria following the recent violence there. 
In Daraa, 60km south of Damascus and the site of the mass funerals, there was a heavy security and army presence, our correspondent said.
People there used the mass burial as a means to demonstrate against the government.
"The burial of each of the martyrs will become a demonstration against the regime and in favour of freedom, even if the interior ministry statement warns there will be further violence," a local activist said.
Protesters in Syria are demanding an end to the country's emergency law, in place since 1963. They are also calling for greater political freedoms, reforms and an end to corruption.
 and  in : SYRIA - The editor of Syrian government daily Tishrin said she had been sacked over remarks to Al Jazeera criticising security forces for firing on anti-regime protesters.

Samira al-Masalma told the AFP she had been replaced by the paper's business editor, Munir al-Wadi.

On Friday, she told Al Jazeera there had been a "violation of the rules barring the forces of order from firing on protesters," and that anyone who had done so "should be punished."

- A local rights group, the National Organisation for Human Rights, said in a statement that 30 people were killed in the southern city of Deraa, the epicentre of protests.

Three others were also killed in the central city of Homs and another three in Harasta, a Damascus suburb, as well as one in Douma.

Meanwhile in Yemen :

YEMEN- Al Jazeera April 9, 2011.

YEMEN Sanaa has called home its ambassador from Qatar for consultation after Qatar's prime minister said Gulf states had a plan for President Ali Abdullah Saleh to step down.

"The ambassador is being withdrawn for consultations," a foreign ministry official told Reuters.

Saleh initially accepted an offer by Saudi Arabia and other Gulf Arab states to hold talks with the opposition but on Friday, he told tens of thousands of supporters in the capital: "We don't get our legitimacy from Qatar or from anyone else ... we reject this belligerent intervention."

Five protesters were killed in clashes with security forces in the southern city of Taiz on Friday.

- President Ali Abdullah Saleh is facing increased protests at home, and additional pressure from the international community, after some countries have also called for change in Yemen.

Al Jazeera's Caroline Malone reports:

EGYPT Al Jazeera's Mike Hanna gave this update from Cairo's Tahrir Square about the clashes which happened overnight:

There were some few thousand people in the square overnight ... They had with them a number of army officers who had joined the demonstrations, against the instructions of the military authorities. Protesters attempted to protect these officers when the military police and other army units moved in overnight. They were dispersed by tear gas, and perhaps rubber coated steel bullets. The exact details of what happened cannot be confirmed, neither can the number of injuries.

"However, those army officers were taken away, we do not know where they are being detained at the moment.

"What added fuel to the flames as far as the military is concerned is the fact that seven of its officers were with the demonstrators in the square. It clearly took this as a direct challenge, having issued orders that no soldier were to take part in the demonstration, this scene was a particularly affront to the military, and clearly this added an edge to whatever actions they did."

- The country's health ministry has confirmed the death of at least one person following clashes between protesters and the military. And hundreds of soldiers stormed Tahrir square, after demonstrators formed a human chain to protect several army officers who had joined them.

Al Jazeera's Mike Hanna has this report from Cairo:

Report on Bahrain from AlJazeera April 9, 2011.


BAHRAIN There have been renewed calls for protests in the Gulf nation, when the majority Shias are complaining of discrimination by the ruling Sunni dynasty. As part of a government crackdown on dissident, security forces have arrested Abdulhadi Alkhawaja, a prominent human rights activist.

Zeinab Abdulhadi Alkhawaja, his daughter, told Al Jazeera that police took him from her house at around 2am this morning.

They broke the door of the apartment. My father didn't resist at all, he went to them calmly but straight away a policeman told him, 'Down, down, get on the floor' ... They dragged him down the stairs and started beating him.

"They did not give any reason ... They were beating him very severely, on the ground, maybe four or five of them, kicking him and hitting him in the face.

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