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Western Asia ("Middle East")
By Dave Lindorff
Pakistani and Indian newspapers are reporting that Raymond Davis, the CIA contractor in jail in Lahore facing murder charges for the execution-slayings of two young men believed to by Pakistani intelligence operatives, was actually involved in organizing terrorist activities in Pakistan.
As the Express Tribune, an English-language daily that is linked to the International Herald Tribune,reported on Feb. 22:
“The Lahore killings were a blessing in disguise for our security agencies who suspected that Davis was masterminding terrorist activities in Lahore and other parts of Punjab,” a senior official in the Punjab Police claimed.
22 February 2011 - Her family is part of the Egyptian elite, but 24-year-old Gigi Ibrahim says she's fighting for her country's future. With thousands following her Twitter feed, Gigi has become something of a celebrity in Cairo's Tahrir Square. In this video, we see her attempts to convince her family of the righteousness of her cause. But will they come around?
Continued Middle East Uprisings and Violence - by Stephen Lendman
What began in Tunisia spread to Egypt, Yemen, Jordan, Algeria, Bahrain, and now Libya, Morocco, Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. The entire region is erupting in protests, mischaracterized as revolutions. They're not, falling far short convulsive, violent, unstoppable tsunamis for change, removing old orders for new ones. So far, they're absent in the region, not even close despite popular passion for change. More on that below.
Islamabad--By now journalists everywhere (except in the US) have come to the conclusion that there is far, far more to Raymond Davis than is being revealed by the US or by Pakistani officials. That he was engaged in anti-state activities in Pakistan and that the two young men he killed were intelligence agents tailing him is virtually an accepted fact.
The US, never famous for its diplomacy (The Ugly American, which made that point more than half a century ago, became a best seller and a very successful movie, starring Marlon Brando), seems to have discovered fresh depths to its strong-arm, coercive diplomacy. The mere fact that no less a personage than the US President has asked that this low-ranked person be granted absolute immunity, is indicative of the US desperation to get him him out of Pakistan and its court system.
Call on Kingdom to stop brutal repression of peaceful protests
WHERE : EMBASSY OF BAHRAIN
3502 International Dr. NW, 20008
(Metro Station- Van Ness, UDC Campus)
WHEN : FRIDAY FEBRUARY 18, 2011, 12:00 pm
WHY: On Thursday February 17, the King of Bahrain unleashed his police forces upon sleeping protesters, including women and children sleeping in their tents, in Pearl Square in the middle of the capital. The King had not long ago apologized for his government’s recent murder of two peaceful protesters.
Under fire from rubber-coated bullets, concussion grenades, and birdshot, protesters and their children fled down streets, ruthlessly pursued. The next day, the King asserted that the armed forces had not attacked anyone. But he made no denial concerning his police.
Middle East Protests, Violence and Strikes Continue - by Stephen Lendman
Whatever set them off, the genie is out of the bottle and spreading from Tunisia to Egypt, Jordan, Yemen, Algeria, Bahrain, Iran, Libya, Iraq, and perhaps America, in Wisconsin over proposed wage, benefits, and union bargaining rights cuts. A forthcoming article covers outrage in the US heartland, inspiring others Ohio, Indiana, Tennessee, and perhaps wherever aggrieved workers reside, awaken, and react against intolerable outrageous policies.
On February 17, New York Times writers Michael Slackman and Nadim Audi headlined, "Bahrain's Military Takes Control of Key Areas in Capital," saying:
By Larry Everest
Today, millions of Egyptians are rising with rage and courage against the hated rule of President Hosni Mubarak, who has been in power since 1981.
As Egyptians protesting in the streets were being killed, beaten, or rounded up in the streets of Cairo and other cities before the eyes of the whole world, Vice President Joe Biden defended Mubarak, saying, "Look, Mubarak has been an ally of ours in a number of things and he's been very responsible on, relative to geopolitical interests in the region: Middle East peace efforts, the actions Egypt has taken relative to normalizing the relationship with Israel. I would not refer to him as a dictator." (PBS Newshour, Newsmaker Interview, January 27, 2011)
Diplomatic and Consular Immunity: One Rule for Foreign Consulates in US, Another for US Consulates Abroad
By Dave Lindorff
President Obama, before he was a President or a Senator, was a constitutional law professor. He should know the law.
And yet in the increasingly dangerous show-down over Pakistan’s arrest and detention of Lahore consular contract “security official” Raymond Davis, who is charged with two counts of murder for the shooting deaths of two young Pakistanis on January 27, the president has grossly misstated what international law is with respect to the immunity from prosecution of diplomatic and consular officials.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has chosen a new special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan: a long-time controversial neocon, a man who has been famous for parading as a foreign agent in the lobby circuit, the scandalous former diplomat Marc Grossman. The not-so-gradual resurrection of the old neocon cabal under the Obama administration, led by Hillary Clinton, should not come as a surprise. According to Washington insiders, Daniel Perle and Douglas Feith have been consulted more than a few times in their ‘unofficial’ capacity, but are not far down in the queue to receive ‘official’ acknowledgement. This shouldn’t come as a surprise; at least to those who’ve been following the steady momentum building at the Obama White House towards a soon-to-come Neocon Easter.
Middle East Protests Continue - by Stephen Lendman
They continue in Egypt, Yemen, Algeria, Tunisia, and most recently in Iran and Bahrain, Al Jazeera saying:
"At least one person has been killed and several others injured after (Bahrain) riot police opened fire at protesters holding a funeral service for a man killed (a) day earlier."
Police fired tear gas and rubber bullets at thousands in Manama, Bahrain's capital, demanding the regime's removal. Majority Shias want redress, saying Sunni rulers unfairly discriminate. However, more than sectarian issues are involved. Others include political freedoms, ending media and Internet state controls, prohibiting police use of excessive force, and addressing the extreme wealth gap between Bahrain elites and majority citizens.
On February 15, Al Jazeera's unnamed correspondent for his safety said:
Arab Street Celebrates Mubarak's Ouster - by Stephen Lendman
On February 12, AFP headlined, 'Euphoria sweeps Arab cities as Mubarak ousted," saying:
As news spread, jubilant crowds responded. "Across the Middle East and north Africa, loudspeakers on mosques called on citizens to rejoice in their own cities....In Lebanon, where the Cairo protests (were) reminiscent of mass anti-Syrian" 2005 demonstrations, "convoys bearing Egyptian flags blared their horns as fireworks went off across the country." Thousands came out to celebrate, a scene repeated in many Arab countries.
Hezbollah and Hamas observed Egypt's "historic victory." Crowds turned out in Beirut, across Lebanon, and "en masse (throughout) Gaza....joyfully shooting in the air and honking their car horns." Hamas' armed wing, the Ezzedine Al-Qassam Brigades, also rallied in support.
Egypt's Military Declares Martial Law - by Stephen Lendman
World headlines are worrisome. On February 13, London's Guardian headlined Egypt's military rejects swift transfer of power and suspends constitution," saying:
Ruling generals rejected protester demands, saying they intend "to rule by martial law until elections are held." The announcement followed suspension of constitutional rule, retention of Mubarak's cabinet, and military police head, Mohamed Ibrahim Moustafa Ali, ordering protesters out of Tahrir Square under threat of arrest.
Many left "but a hardcore refused, saying they would remain until the army took a series of steps toward democratic reform including installing a civilian-led government and abolishing the repressive" Emergency Law, in force since 1981.
Juan Cole has all the links.
By Yasmeen Ali
Lahore, Pakistan--You cannot open the TV, or read a paper here without more and more news about Raymond Davis and his murderous act. His killing on Jan. 27 of two young Pakistanis has created international waves, too, plunging the Pakistan-America relationship into stormy waters.
A great deal has been written about the case: Raymond Davis’s employment status, whether he is a diplomat or not, who his victims were and what led to their demise at his hands, and finally whether or not Davis can be detained and ultimately tried under the Pakistani Law.
Interestingly though, nobody in the media has made a study of the Vienna Diplomatic Coventions that discuss diplomatic immunity. The convention of 1961 gets cited routinely by the American government, which claims it grants all diplomatic workers immunity from prosecution.
But that claim overstates the case. The actual document -- never actually quoted -- is more nuanced.
"I wrote, 'Dear Western governments. You have been supporting the regime that was oppressing us for 30 years. Please don't get involved now. We don't need you.' " - Wael Ghonim 13 Feb. 2011
February 13, 2011 - Harry Smith reports on the latest events from Egypt, including an in-depth interview with Wael Ghonim.
Egypt at Dawn's Early Light - by Stephen Lendman
What's unfolding looks different than what protesters demand. World headlines partly reflect it, mostly outside America, especially on US television reporting an illusion of change, when, in fact, coup d'etat rule is in charge, headed by authoritarian generals used to giving, not taking orders.
On February 13, Al Jazeera's said, "Egypt army tries to clear Tahrir," adding:
Scuffles broke out "as soldiers tried to remove activists from the epicenter of Egypt's uprising...." Hundreds courageously remained, saying they won't leave until "more of their demands are met."
As a result, "(S)oldiers shoved pro-democracy protesters aside to force a path for traffic to start flowing through Tahrir Square for the first time in more than two weeks."
Tents were removed. Al Jazeera's James Bays reported "flashpoint" confrontations, saying:
Abusers appear when we are most vulnerable. Mistaking their sweet nothings for REAL somethings, we slowly allow harmony to lose its last three letters.
Among the most calculating manipulators are the men and women we elect to represent our interests—but don’t. They have a vast menu from which to select their tactics.
They speak to our individualism and, then, tell us what all they’re doing on our behalf.
They demand our loyalty. Our servitude.
They juggle fear and hope, throwing sounds to our ears and images to our eyes, pushing beyond the bearable so gradually that the once unthinkable becomes commonplace.
They encourage us to shop and travel but to ALWAYS be alert, and report anything suspicious. “If you see something, say something,” Fascism Security Chief Janet Napolitano says, promoting the psychology of fear with a four-pronged campaign that includes locally run “fusion centers” for intelligence sharing. Fusion?
Hold the Celebration: Egypt's Struggle Just Began - by Stephen Lendman
Hopefully beneath celebratory euphoria, Egyptians know ousting Mubarak was simple, especially since Washington long wanted him out. Covertly with Egypt's military, it facilitated long-planned regime purging for with new faces under old policies. In other words, have everything change but stay the same, a common imperial bait and switch con.
As a result, the real liberating struggle continues against long odds for success because Washington, Egypt's military, Israel, Western powers, and big money will do everything to prevent it. The usual scheme was hatched - a facade of change that may or may not work, and will be months, maybe years, to know.
Mubarak's Failed Bait and Switch - by Stephen Lendman
On February 10, indications were he'd step down. He didn't, but now it's official, vice president Suleiman saying he resigned, handing power to Egypt's military. A New York Times alert said "a historic popular uprising transformed politics in Egypt and around the Arab world."
Times rhetoric way overstated reality as resolution remains very much in doubt, though odds strongly favor continuity, not populist change. More on that below.
For the moment, however, huge Tahrir Square crowds erupted in celebratory euphoria, perhaps forgetting their liberating struggle just began. It didn't end with Mubarak's resignation. That was a baby step, removing an aging dinosaur Washington and Egypt's military wanted out. Now he's gone. Focus must follow through on what's next, requiring sustained popular protests. Otherwise, everything gained will be lost.
By Dave Lindorff
Breaking News! Egypt's dictator for 30 years, Hosni Mubarak, has been driven from power by the uprising of the Egyptian people, who refused to accept his attempt last night to hang on to power. See it all on Al Jazeera TV!
There is still much to know, but the 20-second announcement on state television at 6 pm Egyptian time informed th country that Hosni Mubarak had been driven from the Presidency of Egypt. It appears that his handpicked successor, the blood-drenched Interior Ministry head Omar Suleiman, who had been "vice president" for a few days, and who made the announcement, has also been pushed out--he said in flat tones on state television that the Army would henceforth be running the country's affairs.
It remains to be seen if that army tries to hold power or keep the ruling elite in power, or whether it will hand things over to civilians from the incredible people's movement that has accomplished this astonishing feat.
By John Grant
Hosni Mubarak has chosen not to fold his losing hand and to play it to the bitter end.
After the CIA and the Egyptian military said he was going to resign, he didn’t, which further escalated the tension around the question hanging over Cairo: Who is the military going to side with?
Is it the bloated kleptocrat and his bloody sidekick, Omar Suleiman – the ally the generals have been in bed with since the State Of Emergency was declared in 1981 -- or the Egyptian citizens who refuse to leave Tahrir Square and demand a suspension of the constitution, then fair and open elections.
For the military the choice seems like whether to let go of your 300-pound mother as she’s pulling you into powerfully raging floodwaters. If you don’t let her go, she’s going to drag you into even more dangerous waters that will assure all your doom.
People Power v. Duplicity in Egypt and Washington - by Stephen Lendman
Inspired by Tunisia's uprising, Egyptians chose January 25 (the National Police Day holiday) to begin street demonstrations, rallies and marches, demanding regime change, no ifs, ands or buts if they stay resolute.
Initially, small numbers in front of Egypt's Supreme Court became crowds chanting "Mubarak must go!" So far, they remain in massive numbers, defying curfew orders, sleeping in streets, persisting against formidable odds in full view of world audiences, thanks mainly to Al Jazeera's heroic coverage.
Anyone anywhere, including in America where it's mostly blocked, can view its live online stream at aljazeera.net. It's become a vital alternative to Western managed news, heavily censored to suppress important truths and thus worthless.
On February 8, day 15, Al Jazeera reported that:
Mubarak's Thirty-Year Dictatorship - by Stephen Lendman
Throughout decades of brutal rule, Mubarak remained a steadfast US ally. As a result, Washington rewarded him generously. US administrations also ignored his crimes, corruption, and lawlessness, as late January released WikiLeaks cables reveal, showing Obama knew he kept power through ruthless state terror.
On January 15, 2009, ambassador Margaret Scobey called security force brutality "routine and pervasive," saying:
"(P)olice using force to extract confessions from criminals (is) a daily event. (US informants) estimate there are literally hundreds of torture incidents every day in Cairo police stations alone."
Political activists and opponents are also targeted, Scobey adding:
By Dave Lindorff
It is pathetic and even laughable to hear American leaders, and the leaders of the other Western democracies in Europe, cautioning that Egypt’s revolution needs to move slowly, as they call for a “transition” government that would be gently guided to elections by the very man, Omar Suleiman, who for years has headed the dreaded Mukhabarat, the Egyptian secret police, all under the protective umbrella of the Egyptian military.
What is this nonsense?
A PANEL ON SOLIDARITY AND RESISTANCE TO US FOREIGN POLICY
*US Imperialism in the Middle East *the US Government's Profound Hatred of Democracy and the War on Dissent *Secret War in Pakistan *Israel’s War Plans *the Revolt in the Arab World
Sponsored by the International Socialist Organization
*Michael Schwartz on US Imperialism in the Middle East* (Author of “War Without End” and Professor of Sociology at SUNY Stonybrook)
*Arun Gupta on the US Government's Profound Hatred of Democracy and the War on Dissent*
(founding editor, Indypendent)
*Adaner Usmani on the Secret War in Pakistan* (Student Activist based in Karachi. Works with the Action for a Progressive Pakistan and Labour Party (LPP))
*Lamis Deek on Israel’s War Plans* (Activist with Al-Awda NY: The Palestine Right of Return Coalition)
*Mostafa Omar on the Revolt in the Arab World* (Egyptian-American activist, member of the International Socialist Organization)
More than two thousand people rallied today in the center of Ramallah at Al-Manara square in solidarity with the popular uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia, calling for freedom, social justice, democracy and human rights. Parallel rallies took place in Bethlehem and Nazareth. Previous rallies have been held by Palestinian activists in Tel Aviv, Ramallah, and Gaza.
The demonstrations were called for by independent youth movements, the
Palestinian NGO Network, trade unions and professional syndicates.
Al-Manara Square overflowed with a diverse crowd of students, workers,
professionals, human rights activists and political parties'
representatives, with a prominent presence of women. Protesters carried
Egyptian, Tunisian, and Palestinian flags and repeated the Egyptian chants
of "The people want to dismantle the regime" and "Down with Mubarak." They
also demanded an end to the occupation, internal division, normalization,
Field Notes on American-Style Democracy - by Stephen Lendman
Perhaps George Bernard Shaw was thinking of Obama's administration when he said, "Democracy is a form of government that substitutes election by the incompetent many for the appointment of the corrupt few."
Obama upholds the tradition and then some, doing more harm globally in two years than most of history's tinpot despots in decades, yet most of it gets little attention. Imagine what's planned ahead. Already, his legacy includes:
-- breaking every key promise he made across the board;
-- looting the nation's wealth, wrecking the economy, and consigning growing millions to impoverishment without jobs, homes, savings, social services, or futures;
-- enacting greater Wall Street empowerment, disguised as financial reform;
We're All Egyptians Now! - by Stephen Lendman
And Tunisians, and Yemenis, and Algerians, and Jordanians, and Lebanese, and, of course, Palestinians, suffering for over six decades after Israel stole their historic homeland, over 43 years under brutal, suffocating occupation. Their struggle is ours, and it's high time we reacted, showing spirit as courageous as theirs.
In her latest January 31 article, Phyllis Bennis headlined, "Tunisia's Spark and Egypt's Flame: the Middle East is Rising," asking:
"Is this how empires end, with people flooding the streets, demanding resignation of their leaders and forcing local dictators out? Maybe not entirely, (but the) legacy of US-dominated governments across the region will never be the same. The US empire's reach in the resource-rich and strategically vital Middle East has been shaken to its core....The years of Washington calling the shots (based on its) version of 'stability' are definitively over."