Arab affairs

Editorial : An inevitable cultural revolution

Fortunately, the events that are developing at a very fast pace are forcing many Arab writers and journalists to change their masks and rapidly adapt to the situation, in a way exposing their futility and their mercenary ties which have been in place ever since the catastrophe of the oil boom which was linked to the emergence of media empires with an American inclination and a message of normalization at the level of the Arab-Israeli conflict.
Since the seventies of last century, the written and audio-visual media empires mobilized an army of those who are usually called writers, theoreticians and intellectuals to promote the Camp David accord and strengthen popular despair in regard to any possibility of defying the American and Israeli wills. The latter are the ones who heralded the alleged peace and competed to describe the PLO command as being rational and mature when it decided to relinquish its weapons. These are the same ones who did not miss any opportunity to attack the Syrian policy and deny the rightfulness of Damascus’ strategic options represented by the support of the new resistance movements. They thus tried hard to promote sectarian divisions in order to blockade Hezbollah’s victory in 2000 and especially its victory in 2006, although the Zionists officially recognized it and although it was featured in the Winograd report. Today, they are rushing in their hideous and exposed outbidding by inquiring about the liberation of the Golan, while remaining silent vis-à-vis the blockade imposed on the Gaza Strip.
They are the gang of opportunists in the Arab media, who heralded George Bush’s democracy after the occupation of Baghdad, wagered on Syria’s fall, Lebanon’s occupation and Gaza’s extermination and are still praising Mahmud Abbas and Saad al-Hariri.

Syria’s targeting on all axes

A series of international and regional signs have emerged, giving the impression there is a campaign launched against Syria and handled by several powers attempting to pressure it and undermine it on more than one level.
Twenty five American congressmen from the Democratic and Republican parties and members of the Zionist lobby, signed a petition calling on President Obama’s administration to adopt measures against Syria based on claims promoted by Israel and adopted by sides within the International Atomic Energy Agency, saying that Syria enjoyed numerous posts and centers operating in the context of an alleged nuclear project that should be inspected.
Reports were carried online and were followed by statements attributed to sources in the IAEA, pushing toward American pressures to issue new inspection decisions in Syria and especially the Khobar location against which Ehud Olmert and George Bush recognized they carried out the air attack. This happened despite the fact that Syria responded to these accusations with confirmed proof and the fact that the IAEA inspectors did not find any palpable evidence contradicting the Syrian tale.
Under the cover of internal change, the Western intelligence apparatuses and certain Arab ones activated the dissident groups living abroad to launch calls to protest in Syria. These calls have so far failed to seize the interest or attract the attention of the Syrian youth but the sides standing behind them are changing the headlines, frameworks, signatures and ideas featured in these calls in the hope of seeing them succeed. This reveals a clear determination to combine the intensive foreign pressures and domestic turmoil at the same time.

The Arab file

In addition to the attacks and arrests carried out by the Israeli occupation army against the Palestinian people - sometimes accompanied by air bombings that are claiming the lives of many martyrs in Gaza - groups of Israeli settlers are assaulting the Palestinians and the shops in Hebron. Moreover, the settlers have blocked many roads and entrances leading to several Palestinian villages in the West Bank, while around one hundred extremist settlers raided the prophet Younes Mosque in the town of Halhoul and performed religious rituals inside of it.

The general prosecutor issued a decision banning former president Hosni Mubarak and his family from leaving the country and freezing their assets to investigate several complaints which accused them of illicit profiting.
The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces responded to one of the main demands of the “January 25 revolution youth,” thus accepting the resignation of Prime Minister Ahmed Shafik and assigning their candidate Issam Sharaf to form the new government.
On the other hand, a number of activists called on Doctor Issam Sharaf to perform the constitutional oath in Tahrir square on Friday, indicating that Sharaf participated in the January 25 revolution and was with the youth who had called for it on Tahrir Square. For his part, Egyptian Prime Minister-designate Issam Sharaf addressed the revolution crowds during their celebration under the slogan “The Friday of appreciation”, saying that the security apparatuses should be at the service of the citizens and the country and stressing he drew his legitimacy from the demonstrators in the square.

Thousands of demonstrators in Bahrain staged on Tuesday a march from the Salmaniya Hospital in the capital Manama to Pearl Square, demanding the resignation of the government and the achievement of national unity between the Shiites and the Sunnis.
Moreover, the political associations in Bahrain issued a statement in regard to the national unity march, defining their demands which featured the following: The drafting of a new constitution by an elected founding council to pave the way before a constitutional monarchy and an elected government, the adoption of an electoral system that would secure just representation, the ousting of the government and the formation of an interim government whose task will be to secure a rapid political and security breakthrough.

Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh, accused Israel and the United States of leading the wave of protests throughout the Arab world. Saleh said: “There is an operations room in Tel Aviv to undermine the Arab world and it is being led from inside the White House. The latter (the demonstrators) are mere implementers and imitators.” Saleh mentioned there was “a decision taken by the national defense council not to use violence against the protesters.” Hundreds of thousands of Yemenis from the loyalist and opposition teams protested in the capital Sana’a and in other cities to either demand Saleh’s departure or stay in power. Clashes occurred between the supporters and oppositionists of President Saleh, leading to the injuring of many people. For his part, the head of the Yemeni Clerics Association, Abd al-Majid al-Zendani, joined the demonstrators demanding the toppling of the regime and urged the protesters to proceed with their actions until all their demands are met.
The Yemeni opposition parties that are part of the Joint Meeting Alliance, assured they reached an agreement with a committee of Yemeni scholars headed by Sheikh Abd al-Majid al-Zendani to return to the dialogue table with the ruling People’s General Congress Party to lead Yemen out of the current crisis, provided that President Saleh pledges to allow the continuation of the peaceful demonstrations demanding the toppling of the regime, conducts a full and transparent investigation into the acts of violence and aggression to which the protesters were subjected, presents those responsible to trial in court and launches immediate measures allowing the peaceful and smooth transition of power and the staging of parliamentary and presidential elections before the end of the current year. However, the Yemeni revolution youth coalition announced its rejection of any settlement that did not implicate Saleh’s immediate departure, condemning “the attempts to elude the demands of the revolution.”

The turmoil in Libya escalated following the eruption of clashes between the security forces and the protesters against the regime in several cities. Moreover, the warplanes launched air raids on the eastern area which is under the control of the demonstrators.
Libyan leader Muammar al-Gaddafi stated: “My entire people loves me, is willing to protect me and to die for me,” adding he felt that the US betrayed him and gave up on Libya along with the Western states, despite the fact that Libya is an ally in the war against Al-Qaeda.
In the meantime, the Libyan protest movement announced the establishment of a military council in Benghazi east of the country.
The interim national council formed by the Libyan protesters after having gained control over Benghazi, threatened to mobilize its forces in the eastern area to march west toward Tripoli, if the Libyan leader were to refuse to relinquish power. The council accused Niger, Mali and Kenya of sending troops to support Gaddafi in his battle against the popular protests.
The opposition also refused to engage in any dialogue with Gaddafi and his regime, and rejected the mediation which was announced by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.
In New York, the UN General Assembly unanimously decided to suspend Libya’s membership in the human rights council affiliated with the international organization due to the acts of violence carried out against the demonstrators.
For his part, general prosecutor in the International Criminal Court Luis Moreno Ocampo, accused Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi and his sons, as well the narrow circle surrounding him, of having committed crimes against humanity in dealing with the rebels. In this context Interpol issued an international warning on Friday in regard to Gaddafi and fifteen people who are close to him.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki announced a new package of reforms, especially related to the fighting of corruption and the distribution of 280 000 governmental jobs in a just way.
On the other hand, Sayyed Muktada al-Sadr said in a statement: “Most decisions and orders are only valid if they get the acceptance of Maliki, or else they fail.” In the meantime, the majority of the Iraqi cities, including Baghdad, are witnessing quasi daily protests. Last Friday, demonstrations were staged in Iraqi cities to demand the improvement of the services, the handling of the unemployment problem and the fighting of corruption, some of which witnessed acts of violence that led to the fall of a number of dead and wounded.

The Israeli file

Netanyahu: from the extreme right wing to the center
The Israeli papers talked about the drastic transformation in the policy of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Haaretz thus mentioned that the prime minister will soon put forward a new political plan to end the stalemate affecting the peace process, adding that Netanyahu warned during closed meetings that the establishment of a bi-national state will bring tragedy to Israel, which was why it was necessary to adopt political steps to eliminate that threat.
What was noticeable during the last few days was that Netanyahu moved toward the center and farther away from the extreme right wing. He thus started his speech before Knesset last week by alluding to a temporary settlement with the Palestinians, saying that it would maintain the Jordan Valley under Israeli control without requesting – as it is usually the case - the Palestinians’ recognition of Israel as a nation for the Jewish people.

The protests reach Israel
The Israeli newspapers shed light on the fact that angry settlers took to the streets to burn tires and close the roads between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, during a day of rage staged following the destruction of a hut in a random settlement north of the West Bank.
The papers indicated that these settlers who were mad about the police’s interference in the Hafat Gilad Settlement had announced their intention to block the roads throughout the West Bank on Thursday.

Lebanese affairs

News analysis : Al-Hariri sold the tribunal and wants the price
Former Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri did not dare deny the veracity of the papers that were presented by Deputy Walid Jumblatt in his famous press conference. He thus settled for saying he did not sign any such papers, without denying the fact that what Jumblatt put forward was a list delivered by Al-Hariri to the Qatari and Turkish foreign ministers who visited Beirut in an attempt to salvage the Syrian-Saudi understanding, against which Prime Minister Al-Hariri turned upon a clear American request.
Al-Hariri wants to adopt the American course, while the Americans are used to exploiting many forces to serve their mutating and temporary interests. Some of these Americans perceive Lebanon as an opportunity to restore their status in light of the ongoing journey of losses they endured throughout the Arab world and the Islamic East. Ever since the occupation of Iraq, the American wagers have been failing and have caused a lot of bloodshed and suffering. However, after he left power, Sheikh Saad is determined to give this experience a shot, while his guide in this fictive intellectual tour is Samir Geagea, who is the master of defeats and is addicted to losses.

The Lebanese file
Prime Minister of the caretaker government Saad al-Hariri assured that the illegitimate arms issue in Lebanon had become a purely national problem which required a purely national solution. He indicated that the arms were not a right and considered: “The arms do not constitute a majority. The majority is the one produced by the ballot boxes without the use of arms.” He thus assured that the majority of the Lebanese people had decided to take to the streets on March 14 2011, in order to reject the tutelage of the arms over “our constitution and our lives.”
Prime Minister-designate Najib Mikati assured for his part he was going to form a salvation government, adding: “But no one can tell me when and how to form it.” In regard to the arms issue, Mikati stated: “Who was in power for five years and did not find a solution to these arms? Who approved the ministerial statements of the consecutive governments which held on to the slogan “the resistance, the army and the people” as a strategic choice in the face of the Israeli occupation?”
In the meantime, the new requests presented by the Prosecutor Bellemare surfaced, as he asked many Lebanese ministries for documents related to their work and called on Minister of Telecommunications in the caretaker government, Charbel Nahhas, to present the original copies of all the phone calls of the Lebanese throughout the last seven years. Similar requests were made to the Interior Ministry, the Public Works and Transportation Ministry and the Energy Ministry, while all four ministers abstained from providing Bellemare with the documents he requested.
Head of the Loyalty to the Resistance bloc Deputy Mohammad Raad praised in a press conference the step of the four ministers, considering that Bellemare’s request to acquire comprehensive and detailed information about all the citizens exposed an entire people and could not be justified by their need in an investigation into an individual political crime. While he assured that he had no trust in this investigation, he believed that what was happening was the greatest tutelage and piracy operation witnessed in Lebanon’s modern history. He concluded by stressing the necessity of freezing all the memorandums of understanding between the tribunal’s apparatuses and Lebanon until the formation of a new government that will assume the responsibility of settling this issue and adopting the adequate national decision regarding them.

The American file

The US considers the military interference option in Libya and the Pentagon issues warnings
The American papers revealed that the US and its European allies were looking into the establishment of a no-fly zone over Libya in order to prevent the Libyan air force which is loyal to leader Muammar al-Gaddafi from committing massacres against the civilians.
They mentioned that the US and NATO had several military bases in Italy and that these bases might be used to launch attacks against Libya.
In this context, a Pentagon official announced that the American army had redeployed its maritime and air forces around Libya.
Colonel David Lapan, the Pentagon spokesman, assured: “We have planners working on different emergency plans and I believe that it is safe to say that we are redeploying our forces to provide flexible capabilities once the decisions are issued.”
In regard to the reactions, spokesman for the American Department of Defense Jeff Morell stated: “The cautious position shown by Pentagon in regard to the imposition of a no-fly zone over Libya does not mean that the American military is opposing it or that President Barack Obama’s administration is divided over this issue. It means that the American officials are carefully looking into this matter.”

Hezbollah watching and waiting the outcome of the Arab uprisings
Last week, the Washington Post talked about the Lebanese Hezbollah organization, saying: “Understanding Hezbollah is like watching a play of shadows; its real actions are hidden. The organization likes having power, and its military wing (which it insists is solely a "resistance" force against Israeli troops to the south) is stronger than the Lebanese army. But it doesn’t want responsibility for decision-making commensurate with its power.”
It continued: “Hezbollah appears to realize that the revolt sweeping the Middle East has subtly changed the game for them. Officials see the Arab world moving into a more democratic and pluralistic politics with the fall of regimes in Tunisia, Egypt and perhaps Libya. In this new environment, Hezbollah doesn’t want to be seen as a sectarian militia or a wrecker, but as a democratic partner (albeit a potent one that has thousands of missiles pointed at Israel).”
It concluded: “Hezbollah is a ruthless political player, but it’s a mistake to underestimate the finesse of its tactics. Officials insist that no matter what the West may think, the Shiite militia is logical (meaning self-interested) in pursuing its policies. And the ever-logical Hezbollah seems to realize that even the self-styled "resistance" must make adjustments in this period of Arab upheaval.”

The British file

Britain recants military interference proposal in regard to Libya following refusal of the allies
The Guardian talked about British Prime Minister David Cameron’s recanting of his proposal to impose a no-fly zone over Libya and to arm the protesters against Gaddafi’s regime.
The paper said that the change which affected the British position emerged after the US and France rejected the proposal, indicating that the Europeans were surprised about David Cameron’s statements while the Americans assured they will adopt a more cautious approach in dealing with Libya.

The action on the Saudi street
The Independent newspaper tackled the deployment of thousands of Saudi security elements in provinces in the eastern region which features a Shiite majority and an escalating rebellion. The security forces thus blocked the highways linking the city of Dammam to the other regions.
The paper indicated that Saudi Arabia’s worst nightmare was seeing the arrival of the new Arab awakening, rebellion and uprising to the country, adding that this issue raised major concerns within the ruling Al-Saud family. _ It assured that what was happening in Saudi Arabia was prompted by the events in Bahrain where a Shiite majority is governed by a Sunni family. This forced Saudi King Abdullah Bin Abdul-Aziz to inform the Bahraini authorities that if they are unable to crush the Shiite rebellion, Saudi Arabia will interfere with its own force according to several reports.

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