Mideast news brief: Turmoil all across the region continues
Turmoil all across the region continues Libya: Qaddafi has had his special forces, regular army troops and air strikes attack rebels on both sides of the city, including an oil refinery. The United Nations estimates that nearly 100,000 people have fled to Egypt and Tunisia. Qaddafi conducted an interview in which he claimed he was ...
Turmoil all across the region continues
Turmoil all across the region continues
Libya: Qaddafi has had his special forces, regular army troops and air strikes attack rebels on both sides of the city, including an oil refinery. The United Nations estimates that nearly 100,000 people have fled to Egypt and Tunisia. Qaddafi conducted an interview in which he claimed he was loved by all his people and that Libyan protesters were members of al Qaeda. Following, Susan Rice — the U.S. ambassador to the UN — said Qaddafi is “delusional” and “unfit to lead.”
Yemen: Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh is accusing the United States of destabilizing Yemen and the Arab world as protests in Yemen grow and demand his resignation. “There’s an operations room in Tel Aviv with the aim of destabilizing the Arab world” and that it is “run by the White House.” Tensions mount in Yemen as the political opposition refused the President’s proposal to form a national unity government.
Iran: Iranian opposition leaders Mir Hussein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi, along with their wives, have reportedly been arrested by Iranian security forces. Iranian government officials are denying the report, which comes ahead of planned protests that are due to be held on Tuesday.
Oman: Protests have spread to Muscat, the Omani capital, as demonstrations block roads and continue to clash with police. The Omani government is deploying army unites near the border with the United Arab Emirates.
Bahrain: Thousands continue to protest in Pearl Square in Manama, the Bahraini capital.
Tunisia: A cabinet minister, Mohamed Afif Chelbi, has resigned from government.
Yemeni protesters hold their national flag during a massive anti-regime rally in the capital Sanaa on March 1, 2011 (AHMAD GHARABLI/AFP/Getty Images).
Arguments & Analysis
‘Libya and the responsibility to protect’ (Irwin Cotler & Jared Genser, International Herald Tribune)
“…by losing control of his territory, Qaddafi can legally be described as no longer being the leader of the country. In this context, the Security Council should adopt a new resolution to immediately extend recognition to the nascent provisional government of the country, authorize a NATO-supported no-flight zone over Libya to preclude any bombing of civilians, and permit all U.N. members to provide direct support to the provisional government. Such support might include, for example, the rapid deployment of an African Union-European Union force to the country. The situation in Libya is a test case for the Security Council and its implementation of the RtoP [responsibility to protect] doctrine. Yet it remains the case that, as the U.N. secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, put it, “loss of time means more loss of lives.” The Security Council must do more – and fast. It is our collective responsibility to ensure RtoP is an effective approach to protect people and human rights.”
For a primer on Libya’s first 40 years under Qaddafi, see this piece written in 2009 by the late Fred Halliday. His warning then:
Libya is far from the most brutal regime in the world, or even the region: it has less blood on its hands than (for example) Sudan, Iraq, and Syria. But al-Jamahiriyah remains a grotesque entity. In its way it resembles a protection-racket run by a family group and its associates who wrested control of a state and its people by force and then ruled for forty years with no attempt to secure popular legitimation. The outside world may be compelled by considerations of security, energy and investment to deal with this state. But there is no reason to indulge the fantasies that are constantly promoted about its political and social character, within the country and abroad. Al-Jamahiriyah is not a “state of the masses”: it is a state of robbers, in formal terms a kleptocracy. The Libyan people have for far too long been denied the right to choose their own leaders and political system – and to benefit from their country’s wealth via oil-and-gas deals of the kind the west is now so keen to promote. The sooner the form of rule they endure is consigned to the past, the better.
‘Saudi Arabia’s billion dollar question: can oil money buy political stability’ (Bernhard Zand, Der Spiegel)
In an interview with SPIEGEL several years ago, Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal, a multi-billionaire, described the fact that many young Saudi Arabians had no work as a “time bomb.” They are not unemployed because there are no jobs, but because most work is performed by foreign migrant workers. Last Thursday Al-Waleed, who is a nephew of the king, issued an even stronger warning. In an opinion piece in the New York Times, he wrote: “Unless many Arab governments adopt radically different policies, their countries will very likely experience more political and civil unrest.” The facts, Walid added, are undeniable, with youth unemployment at 20 percent or more in most Arab countries, the standard of living of the middle classes declining under rising inflation, and a widening “gap between the haves and the have-nots.”…The kingdom is facing more than just a billion-dollar question. It is being confronted with the question of whether it is possible to buy stability.
‘After Egypt’ (Paul Rogers, Oxford Research Group)
“[I]n any of the countries of the region where old regimes have been overturned, there will be entrenched elites that will be deeply reluctant to cede power to the majority. This does not mean the narrowest of elites that controlled states, such as those very close to Ben Ali and Mubarak, – it refers more to a much wider group of people, numbering many tens of thousands in Tunisia and many hundreds of thousands in Egypt, who have happily enjoyed the fruits of the defunct regimes and will do their very best to maintain their position. In Egypt, in particular, this will include many senior officers in the armed forces, and in both countries, there is a considerable risk that positions of power will be consolidated under new names, possibly confirming the cynical view that revolutions merely change the accents of the elites.”
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