Mideast news brief: Libya says British plan to send military advisers may worsen war
Libya says British plan to send military advisers may worsen war As British military experts head to the Libyan city of Benghazi to advise rebels fighting Muammar Qaddafi’s forces, Libya’s Foreign Minister Abdul Ati al-Obeidi says the British plan could “prolong” fighting. While Britain insists that the team will not be involved in fighting, the ...
Libya says British plan to send military advisers may worsen war
Libya says British plan to send military advisers may worsen war
As British military experts head to the Libyan city of Benghazi to advise rebels fighting Muammar Qaddafi’s forces, Libya’s Foreign Minister Abdul Ati al-Obeidi says the British plan could “prolong” fighting. While Britain insists that the team will not be involved in fighting, the move does put into question the role of the international community in the Libyan crisis, and whether that role may be expanding. UK Foreign Secretary William Hague says the decision to send the team, which will provide logistics and intelligence training to rebels in Benghazi, complied with a UN resolution to protect Libyan civilians. “We think any military presence is a step backwards and we are sure that if this bombing stopped and there is a real ceasefire we could have a dialogue among all Libyans about what they want: democracy, political reform, constitution, election,” said Obeidi. “This could not be done with what is going on now.” Meanwhile, the Libyan city of Misurata — the only rebel-held city in western Libya — has asked NATO troops to be sent to fight alongside the rebels. “If they don’t come, we will die,” said Nouri Abdul Ati, a member of the 17-member ruling body in Misurata.
- At least 846 people killed in three-week Egypt protests.
- One protester and a policemen are killed in fresh set of violence in Yemen.
- Syrian authorities arrest opposition figure hours after announcing an end to the emergency law.
- Homs clashes leave three dead as protests continue across Syria.
- Human Rights Watch calls on Bahrain to investigate the teargas attack on prominent Bahraini activist.
Kurdish protesters take part in a demonstration as they march on a bridge, on April 19, 2011 in Istanbul after Turkey’s electoral board barred prominent Kurdish candidates from standing in upcoming elections. The Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), Turkey’s main Kurdish political movement, urged an extraordinary parliamentary session to resolve the problem, warning of fresh unrest in a country long plagued by ethnic conflict (MUSTAFA OZER/AFP/Getty Images).
Arguments & Analysis
‘Backing away from Saleh, slowly‘ (Gregg Carlstrom, Al-Jazeera English)
“Analysts say the US and Saudi Arabia have similar short-term interests, but that they share different long-term visions for Yemen.”There’s one very immediate and common interest of stability,” Iryani said. “But beyond that, I think American and Saudi interests diverge. Saudi is not interested in the development of a democratic state.” A major Saudi role could also undermine the rare unity which has characterised Yemen’s politics for the last two months. Saada province in northern Yemen, for example — where Houthi rebels and the government have fought an on-again, off-again civil war for nearly a decade — has been relatively quiet. The Houthis announced their support for the protest movement, as have secessionists from southern Yemen.Both groups have a poor history with the Saudis. Riyadh tried to undermine communist South Yemen when it was an independent state in the 1960s and 1970s. And the Saudis have long accused the Houthis (Shia from the Zaidi sect) of receiving support from Iran, even though US state department cables released by Wikileaks and published on Monday in the Lebanese daily Al-Akhbar say that officials in the Saudi government are “privately skeptical” of those claims.”
‘The Saudi complex: power vs. rights‘ (Madawi al-Rasheed, Open Democracy)
“Saudi officialdom’s efforts to thwart an embryonic civil-rights movement inside Saudi Arabia have intensified since protest movements in Tunisia and Egypt succeeded in overthrowing authoritarian rulers there, and spread across the region. The policy mixes scarifying propaganda about the prospect of an Iranian-backed Shi’a takeover of Sunni heartlands with emergency royal handouts worth $36 billion. These have failed to defuse the widespread anger and frustration among Saudi young people especially: over crumbling urban infrastructure, unemployment, corruption and above all arbitrary detentions and abuse of human rights. Such sentiments emerged in the virtual world with the call for a “day of rage” on 11 March 2011.”
‘Beware the wrath of the rural Arab poor‘ (Rami Khouri, The Daily Star)
“The Arab world for decades has suffered the distinct problem of being the only region in the world that is collectively non-democratic — which prevented the poor from asserting their rights or actively organizing and working to improve their condition. In Egypt, for example, one out of every four persons in rural areas is poor, while in the cities it is one of out 10. In Tunisia, the rural poverty rate is five times as high as the urban rate; in Egypt and Morocco, rural poverty is three times higher than the urban rate. On average, 40 percent of the Arab world’s population is rural, and for decades has been declining relative to the urban population. Yet the combination of feeling stuck in poverty and being unable to do anything about this in the face of the power monopolies in the big cities is one of the factors that has clearly motivated millions of poor, marginalized and often rural Arabs to revolt in recent months.”
‘Radical Islam in Gaza’ (International Crisis Group)
In the aftermath of last week’s murder of international activist Vittorio Arrigoni by Salafists in Gaza, and yesterday’s news that Hamas forces had captured or killed the perpetrators, it’s worth looking back at ICG’s report on radicalizing trends in Gaza from last month. A key point emphasized in the report was over the continued international consensus policy of ‘snubbing Hamas and isolating Gaza’: [This] has been misguided from the outset, for reasons Crisis Group long has enumerated. Besides condemning Gazans to a life of scarcity, it has not weakened the Islamist movement, loosened its grip over Gaza, bolstered Fatah or advanced the peace process. To that, one must add the assist provided to Salafi-Jihadis, who benefit from both Gaza’s lack of exposure to the outside world and the apparent futility of Hamas’s strategy of seeking greater engagement with the international community, restraining — until recently — attacks against Israel and limiting Islamising policies advocated by more zealous leaders. There is no guarantee that engaging Hamas politically and normalising the situation in Gaza would lead the Islamist movement to greater pragmatism or diminish the appeal of more radical alternatives. But it is worth the try.”
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