If Sudanese Revolt: Full Circle for the Uprisings

The advent of protests in Sudan raises interesting issues about the origins of the Arab protest movements, a vexed question that has been the object of much speculation and analysis. Candidates have ranged from US academic Gene Sharp, to social media, to Iran, to Hamas, to the CIA or another arm of US government in an attempt – in Egypt anyway – to help get rid of a leader whose final days were dragging on, threatening instability in a country of great importance to the United States because of its historic accomodation with Israel. Continue reading If Sudanese Revolt: Full Circle for the Uprisings

Egypt’s ‘Security State’ and Israel

There was an interesting discussion on Twitter yesterday on the comparison between Egypt and Algeria, a theme that has come up after the ruling military council in Egypt dissolved parliament last week, took on legislative powers in the interim, gave the armed forces powers of arrest, set parameters of presidential power that place the military above oversight and reduce presidential control of security forces, and arrogated to itself the right to reject items in a future constitution. Media and observers brought up the Algerian military’s decision to annul elections in 1992 because of concern when it appeared that the Islamic Salvation Front would win. After that Algeria was thrown into a decade-long civil war in which tens of thousands of people died. Continue reading Egypt’s ‘Security State’ and Israel

The Muslim Brotherhood and the Gulf

The rise of the Muslim Brotherhood and the concomitant blow to the Egyptian security establishment has been the main take-away issue for governments around the Arab world from last year’s political upheaval. Egyptian security played a central role in coordinating with security agencies around the region and identifying enemies: the Brotherhood and its affiliates were among them, not least in the Gulf where the death of Nayef – the fat cat who masterminded the no-nonsense, no-dissent state – is a new challenge for the old order. Continue reading The Muslim Brotherhood and the Gulf

The Unlikely President: A Night With Mursi

Mohammed Mursi was the Muslim Brotherhood’s “spare” after the charismatic Khairat al-Shater was disqualified from running in Egyptian presidential election. Opponents would even hold up spare tyres at rallies to ridicule a man who seemed awkward in public and not comfortable with the role that Shater and the other senior Brotherhood figures had decided for him. That spareness was much in evidence on the night Mursi won the Egyptian presidency. Continue reading The Unlikely President: A Night With Mursi

The Saudi king’s time has come..?

The death of Nayef would seem on paper to open up a world of exciting possibilities for Saudi society. He was the man with the hotline to the clerics who tried to keep them in line, he viewed the Shia as a security threat, he had no tolerance for political mobilizations by liberals or Islamist. Though he had been ill for a long time, with his final demise the figure who had sat on top of Saudi society for over three decades has finally gone. Continue reading The Saudi king’s time has come..?

Bahrain court eases sentences for medics in uprising

By Samia Nakhoul

MANAMA | Thu Jun 14, 2012 10:00am EDT

(Reuters) – A Bahrain court on Thursday reduced sentences on nine medics for their role in last year’s pro-democracy uprising and acquitted nine others, but rights groups said the case was politically motivated and should have been thrown out over use of torture.

The trial of the 20 medics, who are all Shi’ite Muslims, has drawn international criticism of the Gulf Arab state, home to the U.S. Fifth Fleet and a U.S. ally. Continue reading Bahrain court eases sentences for medics in uprising

Bahrain king warns opposition over insults to army

By Andrew Hammond

DUBAI | Wed Jun 13, 2012 1:39pm EDT

(Reuters) – Bahrain’s King Hamad said on Wednesday he would not allow any more “insults” of the armed forces in the Gulf state in an apparent warning to leading Shi’ite opposition party Wefaq after criticisms it leveled earlier this week.

The army, led by Field Marshal Sheikh Khalifa bin Ahmed, took charge of ending protests led by the Shi’ite Muslim majority that erupted last year after uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt, enforcing a period of martial law.

It was aided by Saudi and United Arab Emirates forces which Manama called in after accusing Shi’ite neighbor Iran of fomenting the protests that threatened the grip of the ruling Al Khalifa family – Sunni allies of Riyadh and Washington.

“We have heard voices in recent days spreading hatred and abusing freedom of expression to the extent of insulting the Bahrain Defence Forces, and without doubt it is our duty not to allow this to be repeated,” the king said in a speech to senior military officers at their headquarters.

“The executive agencies must take the necessary legal measures to deter these violations,” he said in comments carried on the state news agency BNA.

Sheikh Ali Salman, leader of Wefaq, criticized the army at a rally on Tuesday, saying it would fail to suppress demands for democratic reforms in the island state.

“You wronged us, and you believe that what you did will stop us demanding our rights, but no matter what brute force you use, you will fail,” he said.

He also said that clerics have the ability to bring tens of thousands of Bahrainis onto the streets in protest.

Bahrain remains in a state of turmoil as Wefaq organizes weekly mass rallies, and protesters in Shi’ite villages and youths clash almost nightly with riot police.

The economy has slowed in the banking and tourism hub, which is also the base for the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet.

On Wednesday prosecutors also called in senior Wefaq official Sayed Hadi al-Mousawi for questioning and extended the detention for another week of prominent activist Nabeel Rajab over a tweet criticizing Prime Minister Sheikh Khalifa bin Salman, who has occupied his post since 1971.

Paris-based Reporters Without Borders expressed concern over what it called government reprisals against opposition figures and activists who attended a United Nations Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva last month.

A secretly-filmed video from an unknown source was published on pro-government Internet forums and Twitter this month showing a prominent lawyer who has defended political activists sleeping with a woman, believed to be his wife.

Both Mousawi and the lawyer attended the Geneva meeting, in which the U.N. body expressed concern over harassment of activists who cooperated with its annual review of the country.

The lawyer has said the video was shot in 2008 and that he was threatened with its release when he was detained during the crackdown last year.

A government spokesman said releasing such a tape was “unacceptable” but that it was not clear why it became public.

“The tape in question has been alleged to be part of the person in question’s personal library and was allegedly obtained during the events of last year,” said Fahad Al-Binali.

MIDEAST MONEY-Bahrain economic reforms takes hit as hardliners battle uprising

Wed, 13 Jun 2012 14:00 GMT

By Andrew Hammond

DUBAI, June 13 (Reuters) – Bahrain’s economic reforms – once hailed as the most ambitious in the Gulf – seems to have stalled as hardliners in the Sunni ruling family who see Shi’ite protesters as a threat to the state bring the programme under their wing.

Hawks within the Al Khalifa family asserted themselves after a pro-democracy protest movement led by the majority Shi’ite population erupted last year following successful revolts in Egypt and Tunisia. Continue reading MIDEAST MONEY-Bahrain economic reforms takes hit as hardliners battle uprising

Bahrain king warns opposition over insults to army

DUBAI (Reuters) – Bahrain’s King Hamad said on Wednesday he would not allow any more “insults” of the armed forces in the Gulf state in an apparent warning to leading Shi’ite opposition party Wefaq after criticisms it levelled earlier this week. Continue reading Bahrain king warns opposition over insults to army

Dreams of Tahrir as the Ballot Box Beckons

The street is mobilising again in Egypt after the Mubarak trial. The reasons appear entirely reasonable. Judge Ahmed Rifaat was clear that the evidence he was presented was shoddy. It was not enough to convict the six interior ministry security chiefs and aides to Mubarak’s interior minister Habib al-Adly, and not enough to convict Mubarak and Adly of ordering the shooting of protesters. Realising the immensity of the event and the moment, the judge convicted them for being in the positions of responsibility for what happened and failing to prevent it. His prologue about “30 years of darkness” suggested that he genuinely sympathised with the cause of the revolution, though he knows the case will likely be thrown out by the cassation court for reasons he made all too clear himself. Continue reading Dreams of Tahrir as the Ballot Box Beckons