Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Protests Around The Middle East: Focus On Iran--And Even In Iraq!

From an email from DG:
1) The Washington Post covers the other protests currently going on in the Middle East.
Violent protests erupted in Iran, Yemen and Bahrain on Monday as the revolutionary fervor unleashed by the toppling of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak rippled across the Middle East, propelling people onto the streets to demand change from a spectrum of autocratic regimes. 
The focus is on Iran.

The crowds, which numbered in the tens of thousands, suggested that the seemingly cowed Green Movement that emerged to challenge Iran's theocratic regime after disputed elections in June 2009 had been inspired by the success of Egypt's revolutionaries. Many protesters wore green ribbons, the symbol of the opposition movement. 
What I find interesting is that here the term "disputed" is used, but I thought I'd read an article using more specifics when dealing with Egypt. I did find such an article:Free, fair elections still distant prospect for Egypt

The last time Mubarak promised a fair election in Egypt, for a parliamentary vote in November, ballot boxes were stuffed, cash bribes were handed out, voters were menaced by thugs and international observers were banned from the country. Most of the opposition simply gave up, and Mubarak's party kept the parliament in a landslide. 
There may be no significance to that observation.

The Times also covers the other Middle East protests.

It had this interesting observation from the protests in Bahrain.

Riot police initially sought to block the funeral but then permitted it to proceed. In the clashes, however, a second protester died. The crowd learned of the death from text messages on their phones from witnesses and a human rights worker, who spoke in return for anonymity, said the demonstrator had been shot in the back. 
2) There are protests in Iraq too:

Iraq would seem to have virtually every ingredient for upheaval: crippling poverty, few good jobs, creaky public services, anger at an entrenched political elite and thousands of young people who meet online to vent their grievances and organize protests. But the revolution has not come to Iraq. Not yet, at least. 
Perhaps its because Iraq has actually had elections. (I think the results of the last one are still being worked out.)

3) Karen Elliott House wonders if revolution will spread to Saudi Arabia

Exacerbating the problem is that the royal rulers are old, infirm and largely out of touch. King Abdullah has been out of the kingdom for three months receiving medical treatment in the U.S. and Morocco. Crown Prince Sultan, 85 years old and ill with cancer and Alzheimer's, rarely is seen in public. Rounding out the ruling trio is the deputy prime minister, Prince Naif, who is 77 and suffering from diabetes and osteoporosis.  
After them? No one knows. What scares much of the royal family and many ordinary Saudis is that the succession, which historically has passed from brother to brother, soon will have to jump to a new generation. That could mean that only one branch of the family will have power, a prescription for potential conflict as 34 of the 35 lines of the founder's family could find themselves disenfranchised. 
She does write that Saudis don't seem so revolution minded.

However it reminded me of a Max Singer article Free the Eastern Province.

4) An op-ed

A Cautious Faith in the Army By MOHAMED EL DAHSHAN

In a single sentence: For better or worse, the army's still in charge
5) What happens after the reporters leave?
HonestReporting asks So you think you understand Egypt?

Quoting David Frum they note that reporters tell us what English speaking Egyptians tell them, but there are many more Egyptians who don't speak English. Furthermore the reporters who "parachute" (to borrow EoZ's term) in, will soon return to the more comfortable environs (of Jerusalem.)

So what don't we know now, and what won't we know in the future.

6) Bloggers have picked up the story of the Muslim protests:

JoshuaPundit: Video - 'Democracy ' In Action As Tunisians Attack SynagogueElder of Ziyon: Video: Tunisian march on synagogue

I searched the New York Times, Washington Post and LA Times. There was one reference to this event--in an article headline:King of Jordan Dismisses His Cabinet

Gangs had been rampaging through schools in the capital, Tunis, and a synagogue was set on fire in the southern city of Gabes, according to news agency reports. 
Even then, the reference is to a different synagogue.So in three major newspapers there's not a single mention of the the protesters turning on the Great Synagogue.

7) And the NYT has another "What Muslim Brotherhood?" report.

Egypt’s revolution is far from decided, and the Muslim Brotherhood remains the most popular and best-organized opposition forces in the country, poised to play a crucial role in the transition and its aftermath. But in a neighborhood once ceded to militant Islamists, who declared their own state within a state in the early 1990s, sentiments here are most remarkable for how little religion inflects them. Be it complaints about a police force that long resembled an army of occupation, smoldering class resentment or even youthful demands for frivolity, a growing consciousness has taken hold in a sign of what awaits the rest of the Arab world after President Hosni Mubarak’s fall on Friday. 
There is a narrative here about how wonderful and independent the revolutions are. But what happens next? If the revolutions go sour will anyone be reporting them? And even those reporters who are still there not all are not looking for problems with the revolution.
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