Middle-East : The signs of the new era / Social reality returns to the Arab scene / Al-Jazeera discloses the Palestinaina Papers / Hamas describes documents as being extremely dangerous / Revolt in Egypt / Israel : General Galant’s case distances him from the position of chief of staff / The governmental change in Lebanon / The exposure of Harirism / Mubarak played a role between Israel and the Palestinians.
The signs of the new era
The popular uprising witnessed in Egypt is seizing great attention in the region and around the world, in light of Egypt’s status, weight and role in the region throughout history. Regardless of the political transformations which might reach a record speed within the next few days, the rise of the Egyptian popular action after what happened in Tunisia and what is happening in Jordan constitutes a sign for the arrival of a new Arab era carrying new features. This is still at the beginning and will impose major transformations on the entire region.
Firstly: The Egyptian uprising erupted in a way similar to the Tunisian revolution, and these elements of similarity reflected the deep roots of the transformation that is ongoing in the collapsing Arab countries, where regimes affiliated with American and Western hegemony are establishing blunt capitalist control and are continuously pillaging national wealth through privatization and by implementing the recipes of the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the American and European consultancy groups.
Secondly: The Egyptian public clearly conveyed the motives behind its revolution. People thus spoke on satellite channels and to the international press about the blockade on Gaza, Camp David, the squandering of Egypt’s rights to the Nile, the division of Sudan, poverty, hunger, corruption and the selling of the public sector to the private companies owned by influential figures. The demonstrators also shed light on oppression, and the issues of freedom and democracy, all of which emerged in the backdrop of the Tunisian revolution and the popular actions in Jordan.
Thirdly: The consecutive events revealed a new characteristic which came together throughout the last two decades, i.e. the formation of young rebellious groups of students and intellectuals from outside the traditional partisan framework of the opposition, which was granted some margins of freedom by the regime in the last few years in order to contain popular anger.
Fourthly: Throughout what is happening, the observers are detecting a new awareness being spread via satellite channels and the web and accompanying a new Arab revolutionary circumstance, with which we are seeing the collapse of what many Arab writers and intellectuals called the bad times which prevailed since the Camp David accords. The Arab people thus woke up from their long sleep with confidence and determination to reject tyranny, oppression, social injustice and capitalist hegemony.
Fifthly: There are ongoing complex and confused questions in Tel Aviv, Washington, Paris and London about the alarming future of the Western-Israeli alliance in the Arab region, one which has been in place for thirty years and was based on regimes whose sponsors thought they were safe. Today, the officials in Israel and in the Western capitals are afraid of seeing the transfer of the revolutionary contagion that will cause the fall of governments that constituted the pillars of an entire stage of political, economic and security hegemony.
Sixthly: The popular action in Tunisia and Egypt revealed a high level of awareness in dealing with the army and the police. This resulted in the military’s clear bias in favor of the demonstrators. The popular action also proved to enjoy a high level of organization by stringently deterring the elements whose presence was exploited by the authorities to disfigure the image of the revolution and turn the public opinion against it.
This popular awareness is the result of the accumulation of an advanced general culture in the times of stalemate and was the main motive behind keeping the actions open until drastic changes are instated based on the demands of the crowds.
Social reality returns to the Arab scene
Some are naively inclined to believe that Western and especially American fingers are not far from the popular revolutions which erupted in several Arab countries. This belief is mainly due to the conviction in the strength of American hegemony and the political confusion raised by the American statements and positions which were based on an exposed American and Western attempt to extend bridges of communication with the new powers in order to conspire against the popular uprising, and through the imposition of some accredited figures in the interim political formations, a thing which constituted the object of Jeffrey Feltman’s visit to Tunisia.
The capitalist regimes which are affiliated with the West and which controlled the Arab reality during the past stage, follow the measures that were dictated by the recommendations of the international institutions and funds which were turned by the United States into lists of commitments featuring privatization, the destruction of the public sector and the distancing of the state from anything that falls in the context of the social offerings system.
The middle classes were thus destroyed and the poor classes crushed due to the policies which were adopted under the American and Western umbrella. This alone is enough to instigate revolution and popular anger in any country, let alone if we were to add to it corruption, pillaging, oppression and terror.
The Arab governments that are loyal to the West were reassured by the calm which prevailed on the street based on their ability to instigate sensitivities and push the people toward sectarian and denominational clashes, thus shifting the attention away from the national and social issues.
However, social reality seems to have returned from the widest door to constitute a motivator for the Arab popular movement, despite the fact that the regimes and governments affiliated with the West have taken over the unionist structures a long time ago.
The Arab file
‘Settlement-Leaks’, the secret documents of the negotiations between the Palestinian authority and Israel.
The latter documents revealed concessions offered by the Palestinian negotiators to the Israelis in regard to occupied Jerusalem, Al-Aqsa Mosque, and other key issues such as the issue of the refugees, the border and details related to security coordination.
Al-Jazeera channel said it acquired thousands of papers featuring over 1,600 documents related to the Palestinian-Israeli negotiations and covering around ten years. The documents tackled key issues that were presented during the negotiations between the two sides, in addition to ones tackling the attack on Gaza and the report of Judge Richard Goldstone. Al-Jazeera assured that most of the documents came from the negotiations affairs department at the Palestine Liberation Organization.
Hamas describes documents as being extremely dangerous
The movement’s spokesman Sami Abu Zahri stated: “These secret documents are extremely dangerous and show the Palestinian authority’s involvement in attempts to liquidate the Palestinian cause and especially the Jerusalem and refugees files.” For its part, the Islamic Jihad movement called for a Palestinian, Arab and Islamic action to face a threat related to the occupation’s implementation of dangerous plans for which these miserable negotiations had paved the way.
Thousands of Egyptians demonstrated amid intensive security measures in response to the calls for a ‘Day of Anger’ by the political parties and national forces, in protest against the economic situation in terms of the rise of the prices, unemployment, the spread of corruption and the rejection of the current situation. Egypt witnessed clashes between the security forces and the demonstrators resulting in the fall of victims. The organizers of the protests used the internet and the twitter and Facebook websites to make their calls. In the meantime, the protesters asked President Hosni Mubarak to step down and leave the country like ousted Tunisian President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali.
A number of states called on the Egyptian government not to oppress the demonstrators and to listen to their demands, while United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon invited the Egyptian authorities to respond to the legitimate concerns of their people.
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak issued a decision to impose a curfew in a large number of Egyptian cities and asked the government to present its resignation. The curfew was not respected as the people returned to the streets and pledged to continue demonstrating until their demands are met. This forced him — the next day — to appoint Army Intelligence Chief and Washington’s man Omar Suleiman as the vice president of the republic — although during the last thirty years, he has rejected all the calls made to him to appoint someone in this position — and appointed General Ahmad Shafik, the former civil aviation minister, as the new prime minister.
The Israeli file
Galant’s case distances him from the position of chief of staff
Senior analyst in Yediot Aharonot, Nahum Barnea, considered in his assessment of the report of retired judge Micha Lindenstrauss regarding the investigation with General Galant that the latter had practically lied which is why someone like him could not be appointed in a sensitive position such as that of chief of staff. On the other hand, the analyst believed that the biggest looser at the level of the repercussions of the Galant scandal was Minister of Defense Ehud Barack who anticipated the events and chose Galant for that position without seriously looking into the situation.
The paper quoted people close to General Galant as saying that he had no intention of resigning from his post and that even if the judicial adviser of the Israeli government were to announce he will not defend him in the supreme court, he intended to hire a team of lawyers at his own expense to engage in the judicial battle which many believe will be lost.
In their coverage and comments, the Israeli papers also focused on the events and the developments in Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon. The articles of certain senior analysts revealed real concerns from the winds of change that are blowing over the Arab countries, and are threatening Israeli security and the agreements which constituted Israel’s most precious accomplishments during the last few decades.
The governmental change in Lebanon
Yediot Aharonot commented on the Lebanese situation following the resignation of Al-Hariri’s government and the appointment of Najib Mikati to form the new government.
The paper said: “As it is usually the case in Israel, we are completely impotent at the level of anything related to Lebanon as though the transformation of this state into a Khomeinist one is a fait accompli.”
As for Haaretz, it assured this was not the case. It stated that the prime minister-designate Najib Mikati was Syria’s man, not Iran’s. It added that he was not interested in turning Lebanon into Tehran and that he was neither Hezbollah’s nor Al-Hariri’s man. Consequently, he will not automatically stand alongside Hezbollah in the case of the assassination of Rafik al-Hariri, just as he will not automatically stand alongside the son of the deceived.
The paper concluded by saying: “We in Israel must remember that the recent events in Lebanon are dangerous but that they will not lead the state to civil war because neither Iran, nor Syria nor anyone in Lebanon wants to see that.”
The exposure of Harirism
January 25, 2011 will be remembered as the day that witnessed the most prominent event on the political level and on the field in terms of the decline of Harirism, its collapse in Lebanon and the full exposure of its project after the series of shocks which affected its supporters during the last few weeks. On the eve of the governmental consultations to designate a new figure to form the government, pledges made by Saad al-Hariri were revealed in regard to the annulment of the cooperation protocol between Lebanon and the international tribunal, the withdrawal of the Lebanese judges from The Hague and the discontinuation of the Lebanese contribution to the tribunal’s budget. The people were greatly shocked after they saw Al-Hariri relinquishing the slogans with which he earned the sympathy of the people ever since his father was assassinated and since the launching of his campaign - along with his allies - under the headline of truth and justice.
What was seen in Tripoli in terms of speeches of sectarian instigation was very repulsive, while what was worse was the situation in Beirut and the different regions where the future movement mobilized groups of hooligans that blocked the roads, destroyed cars, threw stones and Molotov bombs on the Lebanese army and undertook provocative acts which aimed at instigating friction with elements from Amal and Hezbollah in order to trigger a series of violent reactions.
The political goal behind that plan which was implemented on January 25, 2011 was either to force the candidate competing with Al-Hariri, i.e. Prime Minister Najib Mikati, to apologize and recant his candidacy under pressures and intimidations, or lead the country toward a bloody strife provoked by the elements of sabotage which some reports said were being moved by officers in the Information Branch.
In the end, the leader of the Future Movement learned that his supporters were no longer receiving his calls with the same enthusiasm as they did in the last few years, and he was thus forced to present a public apology for the crimes committed by the elements of his movement.
The leaders of the opposition agreed to name Prime Minister Najib Mikati as the candidate to form the new government, while the March 14 team announced its nomination of Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri.
For his part, Prime Minister Mikati issued a statement in which he assured that his candidacy to the premiership was based on his belief in the necessity of protecting civil peace and the domestic arena in the face of the expected challenges which will require a collective national stand.
Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah assured that following the issuance of the indictment “we will not succumb to political choices that are imposed on us. To us, this issue is over and cannot be discussed, debated or constitute the object of concessions.” He added “in case the person supported by the deputies of the opposition is designated, we will seek a government of national partnership in which all the sides will participate. We are not calling for a government of one color, for monopolization or the annulment of any political team in the country, as we respect everyone’s participation.”
The first day of the parliamentary consultations which were called for by the president of the republic revealed that the chances of prime minister Mikati were the highest as he received 59 votes in exchange for 49 in favor of Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri — who announced that the situation before the consultations was one thing and that it will be completely different after these consultations are held —.
For his part, Walid Jumblatt expressed his discontent vis-à-vis the action carried out on the street by the supporters of Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri. He told As-Safir newspaper: “What is odd is that these actions go against what Prime Minister Al-Hariri previously said in regard to the necessity of resorting to the institutions and the constitution, of accepting the results of the democratic game and rejecting the language of the street.”
In Washington, White House Spokesman P.J. Crowley announced that the United States was closely following up on the final shape which Lebanon’s government will take, assuring however that granting Hezbollah a greater role will complicate the relations between the two countries along with the American aid offered to Lebanon.
Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah stressed that all the intimidation attempts which were targeting Mikati will not be fruitful. He revealed that the consultations witnessed a fierce battle and that many states interfered, adding: “However, it was a political battle that evolved in the legal and the constitutional context.” He also called on Mikati to form a national partnership government, assuring: “Today, the Lebanese have a real chance to unite, without there being any winners or any losers.” He indicated that the refusal of the other team to participate in the government “means that you want the authority to yourselves and that you are willing to do anything to maintain power.” He added: “Let those who do not want to participate give Mikati’s government a chance, even if for one year. Attacking it on the street means that the other team is saying: It is us or no one else.”
In the meantime, Qatar announced its respect of the democratic method which led to Mikati’s designation. A statement by the Qatari Foreign Ministry assured: “We must see the continuation of brotherly relations and the protection of the national coexistence formula between the different factions of the Lebanese people, as well as the respect of their democratic choices.”
As for the Saudi Foreign Ministry, it advised it nationals not to travel to Lebanon until “calm is restored.”
The American file
The American papers issued this week showed great interest in Middle Eastern affairs and especially in Egyptian affairs.
Israel: Egyptian regime strong enough to overcome what is happening.
The American Washington Post mentioned that Israel was closely watching the developments in the neighboring Arab countries, while its officials are cautiously responding to what someone described as being “an earthquake in the region.”
It indicated that the anti-governmental protests in Egypt — which was the first to sign a peace accord with Israel — were getting great attention in Israel, while the official estimates so far say that Mubarak will overcome this storm.
It quoted an official from the Israeli government as saying under condition of anonymity: “Mubarak is not the Tunisian president who seemed to have lost the confidence of the security elite in his country. Mubarak’s regime is deeply rooted in the army and the security bodies and they will have to deploy force and power on the street.”
Mubarak played a role in maintaining peace between Israel and the Palestinians
The Los Angeles Times focused on Cairo’s role at the level of the Palestinian-Israeli issue, saying that Egypt and its president were two strong allies in a region in which hostility toward the Americans is prevailing.
It added: “By signing the peace agreement with Israel, former President Anwar al-Sadat highly limited the chances of seeing the eruption of a major Arab-Israeli war. Egypt under Mubarak’s term is still playing a role in maintaining peace between Israel and the Palestinians.”
The British file
The Jasmine Revolution inspired the Egyptians
The Times mentioned that the success of the demonstrations in Tunisia inspired the Egyptians to take to the streets and demand the ending of thirty years of the rule of President Mubarak.
It indicated that thousands of Egyptians had staged demonstrations in 2003 prior to the invasion of Iraq, but that the demonstrations this time were unprecedented especially in a country that has placed restraints on political activities.
The paper added that the demonstrations attracted Egyptians who always avoided any political activity, whether out of fear of being arrested or due to the absence of any hope of seeing change.
The future of a nation is at stake
In his article in The Independent, Robert Fisk indicated that the future of the nation was at stake through the defiance of the dictator, adding: “It may be the end, but it is definitely the beginning of the end.” Fisk indicated that the demonstrations featured a lot of courage and were peaceful.
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