Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Gulf Cooperative Council and the Arab Spring

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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Asia Times Online :: Apathy in the face of cruelty

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Asia Times Online :: Apathy in the face of cruelty
Since the start of the Libyan uprising, mainstream news outlets have reported that African and even Eastern European mercenaries were fighting with Muammar Gaddafi's forces. The Libyan rebels, eager to minimize any support for Gaddafi among the Libyan population, have fed Western media horror stories of mass murder carried out by black Africans.

Consequently, many immigrant workers were caught between the ire of a regime that did not care much for them and a new wave of prejudice and discrimination fueled by the media and rebel propaganda. The fact that some foreigners fought for the regime

does not tell the full story. Most African immigrants were unwilling participants in a war that no one had anticipated.

In order to understand the presence of so many Africans and non-Africans in Libya, one must understand the role played by the former dictator.

Using Libya's large oil revenues as if they constituted his personal fortune, Gaddafi engaged in meddling in the affairs of his neighbors, supporting nationalist movements, and conspiring to overthrow regimes he did not like.

He also used immigrant workers to blackmail his neighbors. In the 1980s and 1990s Gaddafi gave hundreds of thousands of Tunisian workers hours, not days, to leave the country empty-handed. The sudden "dumping" of workers without their earnings was meant to create economic and social crisis for neighboring governments.

It was his way of punishing the Tunisian authoritarians Bourguiba and Ben Ali. He used the same tactic with the Egyptians. But Gaddafi's most bizarre achievement was coaxing some European leaders to use him as a gatekeeper, in charge of preventing Africans from reaching the shores of Europe.

Speaking at a ceremony in Rome on August 31, 2010 and standing next to (then) Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, Gaddafi declared:

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Reasoned Comments: The “very scary” Iranian Terror plot

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Reasoned Comments: The “very scary” Iranian Terror plot: BY GLENN GREENWALD The most difficult challenge in writing about the Iranian Terror Plot unveiled yesterday is to take it seriously eno...

Friday, September 30, 2011

Reasoned Comments: Military is trickle-feeding democracy to change-hu...

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Reasoned Comments: Military is trickle-feeding democracy to change-hu...: by Ahmed E. SOUAIAIA* It is not quite clear if the Egyptian military rulers are miser politicians or experts in brinkmanship. Whatev...

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

UN independent panel rules Israel blockade of Gaza illegal

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Report to UN Human Rights Council by five independent UN rights experts contradicts findings of Palmer Report that Israel used 'unreasonable force' in 2010 raid on Gaza flotilla, but that naval-blockade of Gaza legal.

The so-called Palmer Report on the Israeli raid of May 2010 that killed nine Turkish activists said earlier this month that Israel had used unreasonable force in last year's raid, but its naval blockade of the Hamas-ruled strip was legal.
A panel of five independent UN rights experts reporting to the UN Human Rights Council rejected that conclusion, saying the blockade had subjected Gazans to collective punishment in "flagrant contravention of international human rights and humanitarian law."

The four-year blockade deprived 1.6 million Palestinians living in the enclave of fundamental rights, they said.

"In pronouncing itself on the legality of the naval blockade, the Palmer Report does not recognize the naval blockade as an integral part of Israel's closure policy towards Gaza which has a disproportionate impact on the human rights of civilians," they said in a joint statement.

An earlier fact-finding mission named by the same UN forum to investigate the flotilla incident also found in a report last September that the blockade violated international law. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) says the blockade violates the Geneva Conventions.

Israel says its Gaza blockade is a precaution against arms reaching Hamas and other Palestinian guerrillas by sea.

The four-man panel headed by former New Zealand Prime Minister Geoffrey Palmer found Israel had used unreasonable force in dealing with what it called "organized and violent resistance from a group of passengers."

Turkey has downgraded ties with Israel over the incident.

Richard Falk, UN special rapporteur on human rights in the occupied Palestinian territories and one of the five experts who issued Tuesday's statement, said the Palmer report's conclusions were influenced by a desire to salve Turkish-Israeli ties.

"The Palmer report was aimed at political reconciliation between Israel and Turkey. It is unfortunate that in the report politics should trump the law," he said in the statement.
About one-third of Gaza's arable land and 85 percent of its fishing waters are totally or partially inaccessible due to Israeli military measures, said Olivier De Schutter, UN special rapporteur on the right to food, another of the five.

At least two-thirds of Gazan households lack secure access to food, he said. "People are forced to make unacceptable trade-offs, often having to choose between food or medicine or water for their families."

The other three experts were the UN special rapporteurs on physical and mental health, extreme poverty and human rights, and access to water and sanitation.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Arab leaders and the myth of exceptionalism

    2:05 PM   1 comment
by Ahmed E. Souaiaia* To preserve their rule, Arab leaders have relied on two arguments: they are needed to keep Islamism under control and ... (originally published on SOUAIAIA)... their rule must be extended to preserve stability and prevent anarchy. The first was intended to secure the support of world leaders, especially the West. The second was meant to blackmail their own peoples. By relying on these two excuses for their protracted rule, they asserted a tired claim to exceptionalism: they are aptitudinally different from the people they govern; they are uniquely reasonable and their people are not; they are exceptionally enlightened in a sea of people still living the dark ages; they are decidedly the saviors of the people from the people.

In order to preserve international support and legitimacy, Arab leaders have highlighted and exaggerated what they dubbed the threat of Islamic extremism. Interested in short-term solutions, the West accepted this hypothesis and offered stanch support for authoritarians in Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Jordan, Tunisia, Egypt, Algeria, Yemen, Bahrain, Kuwait, UAE, and Oman. Even in the case of Syria, where the Assad family did not have as cozy of a relationship with the West, many foreign governments still grudgingly supported it fearing the alternatives.

Domestically, the Arab leaders overplayed the Arabic cultural norm that shunned anarchy and chaos. They portrayed their continuous rule as the single most important gift that preserves stability and prevents anarchy and civil war. In Arab countries where ethnic and religious minorities have lived, the rulers presented themselves as their protectors. For instance, in Iraq, Saddam portrayed his regime as the protector of Sunni and Christian minorities against the tyranny of a Shi`i majority. So did the Assad regime, which has convinced the Alawite, Druze, Assyrian, and Christian minorities to link their fate to the Baath party, which is dominated by the Alawites.

Mubarak had done the same in Egypt: he exaggerated the Muslim Brethren’s threat to Cops and secular Egyptians and acted as though he was the sole voice of reason in a country populated by fanatics. As a signatory to the Camp David Accord, the West’s support was unwavering.

With every falling dictator however, fear and blackmail were overcome. After the fall of Ben Ali, Tunisians did not kill each other. In fact, it was the remnants of the regime that resorted to violence and intimidation to make their master’s prediction come true. But it did not. Egyptian Muslims did not kill Cops and the Muslim Brethren did not take over the country with guns blazing. In Libya, the fall of the dictator did not bring in a wave of revenge. Rather, it is Qadhafi who incited violence when he called on tribes to fight other tribes to preserve his legacy.

Syria’s Assad needs to learn quickly: he is not the savior of Syria from Syrians and no single Syrian life should be lost to keep him in office. He is not better than any other Syrian. He is not the only one keeper of peace. And he is not the guarantor of stability. He has days, if not hours, to act. The only way to prevent further anarchy and civil war is for him to announce a specific timetable that leads to free and transparent elections. Such elections should produce an elected body vested with the power to do four things. First, it should appoint a transition government. Second, it should draft a new constitution. Third, it should fix a timetable for a referendum on the new constitution. Lastly, it should oversee parliamentarian and presidential elections according to the new constitution.

The two reasons that preserved the Arab rulers in the past are now outdated. The Islamist bogyman does not scare Westerners as it used to do in the past and anarchy is already underway in Syria. It may be the case that some extremists with sectarian agenda are doing harm; but millions of ordinary Syrians yearn for a government that represents them and respects their dignity. In the name of these and every hardworking Syrian, in the name of every Syrian with dreams, Assad can start the real change by appointing a new coalition government led by representatives of the real opposition and the current government to enable a smooth transition.

Assad can no longer reform a system that has been seen as the symbol of oppression and authoritarianism. He already admitted that reform was needed and oven overdue. He can now act on this reality and transfer power peacefully and become the first Arab ruler to do so. If not, he will face the same fate—the fate of Ben Ali, Mubarak, and Qadhafi. After all, his so-called virtuous stances in support of Arab and Islamic causes do not absolve him of the more dangerous pathology from which all Arab leaders, including him, have suffered: the delusion of grandeur and exceptionalism.

* Prof. SOUAIAIA teaches at the University of Iowa. Opinions expressed herein are the author’s, speaking as a citizen on matters of public interest; not speaking for the university or any other organization with which he is affiliated.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Shocking new details of US STD experiments in Guatemala

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Fresh revelations about 1940s medical tests come to light, including deliberately exposing people to sexually transmitted diseases

Guatemalan president Alvaro Colom received an apology last year from US president Barack Obama. Photograph: Daniel Leclair / Reuters/REUTERS
Shocking new details of US medical experiments done in Guatemala in the 1940s, including a decision to re-infect a dying woman in a syphilis study, have been disclosed by a presidential panel.

The Guatemala experiments are already considered one of the darker episodes of medical research in US history, but panel members say the new information indicates that researchers were unusually unethical, even when placed into the historical context of a different era.

"The researchers put their own medical advancement first and human decency a far second," said Anita Allen, a member of the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues.

From 1946-48, the US Public Health Service and the Pan American Sanitary Bureau worked with several Guatemalan government agencies on medical research paid for by the US government that involved deliberately exposing people to sexually transmitted diseases.

The researchers apparently were trying to see if penicillin, then relatively new, could prevent infections in the 1,300 people exposed to syphilis, gonorrhea or chancroid. Those infected included soldiers, prostitutes, prisoners and mental patients with syphilis.

The commission revealed on Monday that only about 700 of those infected received some sort of treatment. Eighty-three people died, although it's not clear if the deaths were directly due to the experiments.

The research came up with no useful medical information, according to some experts. It was hidden for decades but came to light last year after a Wellesley College medical historian discovered records among the papers of Dr John Cutler, who led the experiments.

President Barack Obama called Guatemala's president, Alvaro Colom, to apologise. He also ordered his bioethics commission to review the Guatemala experiments. That work is nearly done. Though the final report is not due until next month, commission members discussed some of the findings at a meeting on Monday in Washington.

They revealed that some of the experiments were more shocking than was previously known.

For example, seven women with epilepsy, who were housed at Guatemala's Asilo de Alienados (Home for the Insane), were injected with syphilis below the back of the skull, a risky procedure. The researchers thought the new infection might somehow help cure epilepsy. The women each got bacterial meningitis, probably as a result of the unsterile injections, but were treated.

Perhaps the most disturbing details involved a female syphilis patient with an undisclosed terminal illness. The researchers, curious to see the impact of an additional infection, infected her with gonorrhea in her eyes and elsewhere. Six months later she died.

Dr Amy Gutmann, head of the commission, described the case as "chillingly egregious".

During that time, other researchers were also using people as human guinea pigs, in some cases infecting them with illnesses. Studies weren't as regulated then, and the planning-on-the-fly feel of Cutler's work was not unique, some experts have noted.

But panel members concluded that the Guatemala research was bad even by the standards of the time. They compared the work to a 1943 experiment by Cutler and others in which prison inmates were infected with gonorrhea in Indiana. The inmates were volunteers who were told what was involved in the study and gave their consent. Many of the Guatemalan participants received no such explanation and did not give informed consent, the commission said.

The commission is working on a second report examining federally funded international studies to make sure current research is being done ethically. That report is expected at the end of the year.

Meanwhile, the Guatemalan government has vowed to carry out its own investigation into the Cutler study. A spokesman for the vice-president Rafael Espada said the report should be done by November.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Damming the stream of the Arab spring

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Damming the stream of the Arab spring
by Ahmed E. Souaiaia

After months of fighting, the Libyan rebels entered Tripoli, the capital from which Muammar Qadhafi had ruled for more than 40 years. What will become of Libya is significant not only for the Libyan people but also for the world. The consensus among world leaders regarding the need for him to depart should not be understood to mean that they also agree on the reasons why he should step down. The context and subtext are complex. The Libyan uprising can be soundly understood when taken in comparison to other events taking place around the world.

World leaders and international affairs experts worry that the fall of Qadhafi will be marked by instability and infighting, increasing the potential for a humanitarian crisis in Libya. Many ordinary Arabs, hopeful for a future better than the past, contend that the fall of Qadhafi will not only usher in an era or freedom and stability for a country rich in natural and human resources, but it will also inspire reluctant peoples in the rest of the Arab world to overthrow the brutal despots and authoritarians.

Journalists and pundits are already picking the next stop of the train of freedom that is journeying across the Arab world. Is Syria next? Or is it Yemen? Perhaps it will be Bahrain? And what about the rest of the Arab regimes?

To answer these and other questions, one must consider the circumstances and the cultural and political environment for each country. Indeed, in each of the three countries that succeeded in overthrowing the rulers, the people rose up because they have specific grievances and particular goals. But the revolution and the post revolution events too were different from country to country.

In the case of Tunisia, disregard of human dignity broke the hold of fear and brought thousands of Tunisians to the streets. In less than one month, the Tunisian dictator was forced out. However, he left behind a well entrenched partisan institution that had monopolized its hold on power and bureaucracy. While low and midlevel partisans continued to run the state's bureaucracies, the top level state leaders are diehard Bourguibists--if not remnants of Ben Ali's regime. The post-revolution transition was guided by the old regime's constitution and the interim president was a member of Ben Ali's party. Despite the rhetoric, the regime seemed to be unable or unwilling to transition within the timeline allowed to a post-Ben Ali era. The elections that were supposed to be held in July were postponed until October and the institutions that were supposed to realize the demands of the revolution became engaged in partisan disputes despite the allusion of "independence."

The Egyptians have already attempted to force the regime to reform months before the Tunisian revolution. But Mubarak's regime was able to take back with its left hand what its right hand offered in the form of concessions. For instance, while the regime allowed independents (mostly supporters of the Muslim Brethren) and representatives of other smaller parties to contest parliamentarian elections, the regime enacted election laws that made it all but impossible to compete with the ruling party.

Moreover, the regime routinely arrested opposition leaders before elections further disadvantaging their parties and preventing them from making any significant gains. Additionally, the regime used the perpetual emergency laws to arbitrarily arrest political dissenters, intimidate journalists, and deny the establishment of key political parties. Lastly, there was ample evidence that the regime was preparing to either have the 82-year old Mubarak to run for another term or to bequeath his powers to his son, Jamal.

The Tunisian people's success inspired the Egyptian people to commit to fight not only for political reform but to overthrow Mubark. In less than one month, Mubarak fell but he, too, left behind the leaders of the armed forces--the institution that protected his rule all these years--in charge. Consequently, change was slow and the military seemed keen to protect its interests and preserve its power. They promised elections but they refused to fix a definite timeline. They amended the constitution and asked people to approve the changes in a referendum but they pushed to establish another legal document that would govern the elections if not predetermine its outcome.

On February 17, the Libyan uprising broke out in all major cities. Quickly, Qadhafi's regime used brute force to crush the uprising and he did so in Tripoli. However, as he prepared to send his troops to the eastern part of the country, key regime figures sided with the protesters who by then took control of the city of Benghazi. As Qadhafi and his son Saif al-Islam threatened the use of force to kill the protesters whom they called "rats," the protesters turned into armed rebels. While Qadhafi forces marched east, the UN approved a resolution authorizing NATO to take all necessary measures to protect civilians. Subsequently, NATO imposed a no-fly zone and started bombing Qadhafi's troops who were threatening Benghazi. In the meantime, the newly established National Transitional Council appointed members of the Executive Transitional Council to act as an interim cabinet. The emerging military and political leadership eased the fear of the Libyans as well as the concerns of world leaders who feared chaos and the rise of Islamist groups. The hope for the emergence of a democratic Libya and the resentment of a regime led by an unstable, quixotic dictator both contributed to uniting rebels with different agendas. However, the post-Qadhafi era will be more significant than the revolution itself.

With the fall of these three regimes, we are left with three different models. It is tempting to use them as predictors of the outcome of future uprisings across the Arab world; but it will be a mistake to do so. Indeed, the loss of dignity and respect felt by the Arab masses remains the most powerful force that drives millions to face death while challenging these brutal regimes.

The Arab rulers oppress but they seldom oppress impulsively or reflexively. In fact, they oppress selectively and systematically. They use one ethnic, religious, or political group against one another. They use fear as a tool to control and subdue. They manufacture narratives for national identities to divide peoples and to preserve their rule. The more blatant the narrative the more indignant the people would feel. That is what generally determines the extent and context of uprisings.

The Arab Spring has produced a powerful force capable of flooding the entire world with change—not just the Arab or Islamic worlds. For now however, all eyes will be on Syria, Yemen, Bahrain, and Jordan.

Syria is similar to Tunisia and Egypt in some respects but different from them in other aspects. But it is radically different from Libya. But let’s face it: no country in the world is like Libya under Qadhafi—except perhaps North Korea. Qadhafi is a delusional, megalomaniac who forced everyone in the country to live in his shadow. He declared himself the king of African kings and the leader of Arab leaders. He suffocated his people and assassinated their creativity. He is like no other Arab leader. Assad, on the other hand is an educated and articulate man with whom one can reason. He recognized that he needs to reform and he seemed interested in doing so. But no one will believe him until he acts on those promises and sets a timetable for actual and real change.

Moreover, the Syrian regime is a functional bureaucracy more like the Chinese model. Although the Assad family plays a critical role in the leadership, the Baath party is the ideological entity whose membership includes individuals from all social groups, classes, and professions. Baathism, after all, as an expression of Arab nationalism, provided the ideological platform for other Arab countries including Iraq. In fact, it was under this ideology that Egypt and Syria once flirted with the idea of a unified Arab republic. That can’t be said about Qadhafi and his “green book” drivel.

Given these differences, some Western leaders’ call on Assad to step down seemed naïve. In Syria, the Syrian opposition is very fragmented and they lack the experience to run a country that is fractured along ethnic and religious lines. Syria’s proximity to Iraq (a country still recovering from war), Israel (with whom it has theoretically an active war front), and Turkey (who is yet to solve its Kurdish problem) make it a country that is of utter significance to the region and to the world. The best scenario for Syria is to continue the pressure on the current regime until it consents to hold free and transparent elections and gradually transition to a pluralist system.

Yemen saw a glimpse of a post-Saleh era and with it came a period of relative stability. After Ali Saleh was wounded, he was taken to Saudi Arabia for treatment. While away, relative calm was observed in the streets and the opposition groups were prepared to work with Saleh’s deputy to transition to a new era. Then, Saleh returned and so did the protests and the violence. The tribal structure makes Yemen a very volatile country and for that reason Saleh needs to step down in favor of a more representative government that embraces the separation of powers. For months, he resisted because the Saudis and the Americans seem to favor him over any other alternative.

Bahrain is more like an outpost for the Saudis. For that reason, Saudi Arabia had sent its military to put down the first uprising. But there is no indication that the protesters are willing to abandon their quest for social justice and dignity. There is room for compromise whereby the Shi`ite majority can accept a monarch with very limited powers. But cosmetic changes such as the ones suggested by the monarch will not silence the people of Bahrain forever.

In Morocco, the King called for a revised constitution and many people seemed to like the changes. However, the main test will be the outcome of the coming parliamentarian elections to be held within months. If the same faces and the same parties continue to exert a monopoly on the political life and if the king continues to control key ministries, more people will take to the streets and this time they will demand the overthrow of the king, not just political reform.

Most interesting is the Saudi handling of the Arab Spring. First, the Saudis appeared to choose Ben Ali over the Tunisian people. They offered him sanctuary and refused to extradite him to stand trial—although there is no evidence that the Tunisian interim government requested it. In short, the Saudis were not in favor of the regime change in Tunisia.

They also took the same stance on Mubarak. When the US administration finally made its mind and called on Egyptian ruler to step down, the Saudis were irked. In fact, they showed their displeasure by unilaterally sending troops to crush the uprising in Bahrain. In all these three instances, the Saudis appeared to be interested in preventing the flood of change or at least in slowing it down. In reality, the Saudis feared an ideological Arab Spring more than they feared change itself. This was evident from their reaction and role in igniting and supporting the Syrian and Libyan revolutions.

To be sure, the Saudis and their Gulf allies were among the first to condemn the Libyan and Syrian regimes for their treatment of the protesters. In fact, it was bewildering to learn that Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Qatar were among the 24 members of the UN Human Rights Council that called on the Syrian regime to stop the “brutal treatment” of their respective peoples and end the military crackdown. This position is peculiar given that it was Saudi Arabia that sent troops to Bahrain to support a regime that killed and jailed thousands.

Clearly, the Saudis and their allies feared an ideological Arab revolution that is motivated by disdain for the so-called moderate Arab governments. The Syrian uprising did at least two things for the Gulf States. First, it limited the influence of the so-called camp of resistance (mumana`ah). Second, it slowed the pace of change especially after many activists started social network sites calling for protests in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman, and UAE. The Saudi rulers moved on all fronts: they pumped more money into social programs helping youths with housing and marriage stipends, they encouraged Salafi groups to rise up in Syria and Iraq, and they banned protest condemning it as forbidden under Islamic law.

Ultimately, the Saudis, the Qataris, the Jordanians, and the Moroccans should know that slowing down the Arab revolutions is not the same as stopping them. In fact, if Syrian and Libya are transformed into stable representative governments, the authoritarian Gulf regimes will be the only holdouts. Their influence will diminish and their rhetoric will haunt just as did their support of puritan religious groups in Afghanistan who turned into a case of chicken coming home to roost.

Undoubtedly, the Arab spring has impacted other countries beyond the Arab world. The demonstrations in Britain, Israel, Spain, and Greece show how contagious social change can be in the age of virtual social media and open access to information. But as change takes hold of the Arab and Islamic worlds, the West too will be forced to change its ways in dealing with Muslims. This is an era where the interests of the peoples will dictate the actions of their leaders. When Arab governments are forced to actually value the life and dignity of the peoples they lead, the West needs to change its ways. It would need to be mindful of all humans’ yearning for dignity and respect; the first step in that direction is to monitor the pulse of the massesnot the temperament of the leaders.

* Ahmed Souaiaia, teaches classes in the department of Religious Studies, International Programs and College of Law at the University of Iowa. Opinions expressed herein are the author’s, speaking as a citizen on matters of public interest; not speaking for the University or any other organization with which he is affiliated.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

PM Erdoğan says Turkey ran out of ‘Ramadan patience' for PKK terror

    8:18 AM   No comments

In defiance and condemnation of the killing of seven soldiers by the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) in an ambush on Wednesday, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said Turkey has run out patience for terror despite their respect for the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.
“We have run out of the patience that we showed during Ramadan. We are at a point where words fail,” Erdoğan said on Wednesday afternoon following an urgent meeting held by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) regarding the famine and drought that has been sweeping Somalia in İstanbul.

Responding to questions from reporters after the meeting, Erdoğan reiterated his earlier remarks against the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy (BDP), implicitly accusing the party of failing to distance itself from the PKK. “Those who fail to distance themselves from the PKK will also pay the price for that,” he said.

Asked whether Turkey is pondering a cross-border operation in Iraq against PKK bases in the Kandil Mountains, Erdoğan said, “From now on, nothing will be discussed but done.”

“We will not leave that region [the Southeast] and those people to the separatist terrorist organization,” Erdoğan added.

Erdoğan on Sunday lashed out at the PKK for killing Turkish soldiers even during Ramadan. “We are maintaining our patience because of our respect for Ramadan. But, everyone should know that the beginning of peace will be more different after this month of peace and solidarity,” Erdoğan said. Three days after Erdoğan's remarks, PKK terrorists killed seven soldiers in the Çukurca district of the southeastern province of Hakkari in an ambush.

However, President Abdullah Gül said on Monday that Turkey is not waiting for the end of Ramadan to take action against the PKK as counterterrorism efforts are under way and in full swing.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

SOUAIAIA: Arab spring going global

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SOUAIAIA: Arab spring going global: "Eight months ago, while discussing the Arab revolutions with a friend and colleague, an expert in Jewish Studies, I told him that the Arab S..."

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

SOUAIAIA: The Foundation of Supremacy: Racializing Human Act...

    11:15 AM   No comments
SOUAIAIA: The Foundation of Supremacy: Racializing Human Act...: "I vividly remember the day of the Oklahoma bombing. Not because of the news reports—I was too busy with work and school to watch the news. C..."

Sunday, May 15, 2011

SOUAIAIA: Realignment of the Arab world in the light of the ...

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SOUAIAIA: Realignment of the Arab world in the light of the ...: "In another sign of nervousness resulting from the mounting pressure put by the Arab revolts on authoritarian rulers, members of the ..."

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Bin Laden Raid Revives Debate on Value of Torture

    8:16 AM   No comments

By and

WASHINGTON — Did brutal interrogations produce the crucial intelligence that led to the killing of Osama bin Laden?

As intelligence officials disclosed the trail of evidence that led to the compound in Pakistan where Bin Laden was hiding, a chorus of Bush administration officials claimed vindication for their policy of “enhanced interrogation techniques” like waterboarding.

Among them was John Yoo, a former Justice Department official who wrote secret legal memorandums justifying brutal interrogations. “President Obama can take credit, rightfully, for the success today,” Mr. Yoo wrote Monday in National Review, “but he owes it to the tough decisions taken by the Bush administration.”

But a closer look at prisoner interrogations suggests that the harsh techniques played a small role at most in identifying Bin Laden’s trusted courier and exposing his hide-out. One detainee who apparently was subjected to some tough treatment provided a crucial description of the courier, according to current and former officials briefed on the interrogations. But two prisoners who underwent some of the harshest treatment — including Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, who was waterboarded 183 times — repeatedly misled their interrogators about the courier’s identity.

The discussion of what led to Bin Laden’s demise has revived a national debate about torture that raged during the Bush years. The former president and many conservatives argued for years that force was necessary to persuade Qaeda operatives to talk. Human rights advocates, and Mr. Obama as he campaigned for office, said the tactics were torture, betraying American principles for little or nothing of value.

Glenn L. Carle, a retired C.I.A. officer who oversaw the interrogation of a high-level detainee in 2002, said in a phone interview Tuesday, that coercive techniques “didn’t provide useful, meaningful, trustworthy information.” He said that while some of his colleagues defended the measures, “everyone was deeply concerned and most felt it was un-American and did not work.”

Read full article

Friday, April 29, 2011

Bahrain: Still fighting for change

    5:29 PM   No comments

Bahrainis who were featured in a recent episode of People & Power have now either been arrested or are in hiding.
People and Power Last Modified: 05 Apr 2011 14:15

Hasan Mushaima, Ali Abdelemam, Sayed Ahmed al-Wedaie and Ibrahim Sharif have either been arrested or are in hiding after they were interviewed on Bahrain: Fighting for change
On March 9, 2011, Al Jazeera English broadcast an episode of People & Power profiling the February 14th Youth Movement protesting at Bahrain's Pearl Roundabout.

Since then everyone who was interviewed on the programme has either been arrested or is in hiding. We are receiving messages detailing how they are moving from house to house to avoid capture and texts saying "help us, help us".

Sayed Ahmed al-Wedaie says he was attacked by police
Al Jazeera's team had met Sayed Ahmed al-Wedaie on Pearl Roundabout a month ago. He was excited about the prospect of democratic change and keen to explain what had brought him out to protest.

He had already suffered at the hands - or rather, boots - of the police.

He told us he was attacked while sleeping at the roundabout and that the police kicked and hit him.

"At least 10 policemen attacked me and continued hitting, hitting. I was bleeding, I was tasting my own blood. The only thing that stopped them was that I pretended I was completely dead," he said.

After appearing on the programme al-Wedaie was arrested while driving near the airport on March 15. For three days no-one knew what had happened to him. When his parents eventually saw him at a police station on March 18, his face was a mess of bruises and he could barely walk. He told them that police had had to take him to hospital after beating him so badly on his first day in custody.

He had already foreseen what was likely to happen to him for speaking out. In the programme he said: "We are going to be destroyed by all means. They'll target us one by one, one by one. Whoever appeared on camera, standing brave enough to tell the world 'we don't want this regime ...' will be a target in the future. I think it will be really dangerous."

There has been no charge against al-Wedaie. The police originally threatened to charge him with murder but now, his brother says, he may be taken to a military court to answer charges of having an ornamental knife in the borrowed car he was driving when he was arrested - a charge that could see him serve three years in prison.

State of emergency

The Bahraini government has arrested more than 300 opponents of the regime since the imposition of the state of emergency on March 15. But they do not want the wider world knowing about this.

On March 28, the military public prosecutor imposed a media gag, banning "any publishing, through print, audio, video and online media, based on the requirements of discretion and commitment to the principle of confidential investigation" - in line, it says, with the state of emergency.

On Wednesday, March 30, masked men in seven police cars descended on the home of Nabeel Rajab, a prominent human rights defender in Bahrain, when he was being interviewed by a CNN crew. They were all detained; the CNN crew was kept for four hours.

Bahrain had stopped production of its main opposition newspaper Al-Wasat [Reuters]
And on Saturday the only independent newspaper in Bahrain, Al-Wasat, was instructed by the Information Affairs Authority (IAA) not to publish its Sunday edition.

A Bahrain TV programme accused Al-Wasat of maliciously publishing misleading information which directly and deliberately posed a real threat to the kingdom's security and stability.

After the programme, publication of the newspaper was suspended and its officials were referred for investigation.

Al-Wasat is a rare mouthpiece for independent and opposition views. It had come under physical attack before and was struggling to keep getting the paper out.

Editor Mansoor al-Jamri had been threatened many times. On Sunday, he and the managing editor resigned in an attempt to save the paper. Al-Wasat came out today with a new editor and managing editor, but people on the ground say it is already clear that it is not the same paper it was before.

A leading journalist in the country said that newspapers and TV in Bahrain are controlled by the ruling family and the IAA is not under parliamentary supervision but reports directly to the king. It has close associations with the National Security Agency, whose deputy head is now head of the IAA. "The Bahrain News Agency (BNA) and the IAA are an integral part of the National Security Agency. News agencies like Al Jazeera are not tolerated and those who speak to them are deemed terrorists and traitors," the journalist said.

From the start of the protests in February the government made it difficult for foreign journalists to get visas for themselves and their equipment to enter Bahrain. One journalist who is currently in Manama and did not want to be named, said it is almost impossible to move around with a camera as the town has many checkpoints and drivers are scared to take them.

He described how some key places are particularly protected from prying eyes. At Salmaniya Hospital, for example, which has been the scene of state security brutality against medical staff and abduction of patients and which is still ringed with security forces, it is impossible to film. The roofs of buildings surrounding the hospital have been closed off and residents living there have been warned not to let journalists enter. Similar constraints have been placed on hotels where journalists are staying.

Meanwhile the clampdown continues, increasingly un-covered by the media. The Bahrain Human Rights Council reports that 370 people have been arrested since the imposition of the emergency law on March 15. Seventeen of the estimated 24 people who have been killed since the protests started, have died since March 15.

So-called citizen journalists are continuing to expose the brutality meted out against unarmed Bahraini youth.

Sayed Ahmed al-Wedaie understands what happens when no-one is watching. Now there is media present in the country, but later there will be no-one to see and report what goes on behind bars.

Source:Al Jazeera

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

SOUAIAIA: Are Arab World Revolutions different?

    7:32 AM   No comments
SOUAIAIA: Are Arab World Revolutions different?: "Family members mourn during a funeral for slain anti-government protester Ali Ahmed al Muameen on February 18, 2011 in Sitra, Bahrai..."

by Ahmed E. Souaiaia*

When the first demonstration took place in Sidi Bouzid after Tarek (Mohamed) Elbouazizi ignited the Arab revolutions by setting himself on fire in protest, the Tunisian government played down the event claiming that it was a local matter. Two weeks later, the protests became an uprising and spread to most Tunisian provinces forcing the head of the authoritarian regime, Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali, to seek refuge in Saudi Arabia.

Before the dust had settled in Tunis, another uprising was launched in Egypt. The Egyptian regime argued that Tunisia is not like Egypt and Mubarak is not like Ben Ali. Less than eighteen days later, Mubarak was forced to hand over power to a military council and two months later he, some of his family members, and key members of his regime were arrested and jailed while charges of corruption and murder of protesters were being investigated.

Even before the fall of the Egyptian regime, massive protests in three other Arab countries were underway.

In Yemen, millions of people crowded public squares chanting, “al-shaab urid isqat al-nizam” [the people want to bring down the regime]. Despite the similarities, the Yemeni president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, declared that he was going to finish his term in office insisting that Yemen is not like Tunisia or Egypt. After weeks of protests, many military, police, and political officials abandoned Saleh and announced their support for the “youth’s revolution.” As this piece is being written (April 23, 2011), Saleh has accepted a compromise plan developed by the Gulf states that offers him immunity in exchange for transferring power to his deputy in thirty days. The protesters are likely to reject the idea of immunity for Saleh and his henchmen, especially after contemplating the rise of civilian casualties killed by Saleh’s security forces.

In Bahrain, protests that paralyzed the small kingdom were brutally put down by a Saudi and Emarati military forces that began its intervention by destroying the monument near which the protesters had set camp. The Bahraini King’s government followed that by declaring a state of emergency. Human rights groups have released numerous reports detailing the brutality of the Bahraini regime during and after the first wave of protests. Nonetheless, Bahrain rulers, too, insisted that the demonstrations in their country are different from those in Tunisia, Egypt, and Yemen. They contended that it was sectarian tension stoked by Shi`i Iran.

After the fall of Mubarak, it would seem that nervous Arab authoritarians are inclined to do whatever is necessary to stop or at least slow down the revolutions. Therefore, the Gulf rulers decided to draw a line in the sand of Bahrain: they decided to take the side of the King instead of siding with the people.

The Libyan leader, Muammar Qadhafi, was hoping that the Arab leaders would stand by him as well. It must be recalled, however, that the Libyan self-styled leader faulted the Tunisian people for ousting Ben Ali. He argued that Ben Ali was a good leader and he should have been allowed to serve his full term. Naturally, then, when demonstrations broke in his country, Qadhafi was determined to crush any uprising arguing the same thing: Libya is not Tunisia or Egypt and that he is not a president like Ben Ali and Mubarak. He launched a brutal military operation against peaceful protesters who reacted by arming themselves and appealing to the military and police forces who sided with them to fight back. Qadhafi escalated by deploying his air and naval forces to attack the liberated towns and cities. The United Nations Security Council then imposed a no-fly zone and authorized the world community to do all that is necessary to protect civilians.

Meanwhile, other, less massive demonstrations took place in Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Oman, Morocco, Iraq, and Algeria. They were all—to varying degrees of success—put under control by their respective regimes who, too, thought that their countries were different from Tunisia and Egypt. The most significant developments were the demonstrations and evolving demands by the Syrian protesters. Bashar Asad, again, reacted by claiming that his country is different from Tunisia and Egypt.

Given the various facts and claims, then, is it true that each Arab country is fundamentally unique to the extent that that will make it impervious to the Tunisian and Egyptian phenomenon? I would argue, that the majority of the differences distinguishing one Arab country form another are absolutely irrelevant when it comes to the driving force behind these revolutions: respect for citizens’ dignity.

It is true that Libya and Yemen are more tribal then Egypt and Tunisia. It is also true that Morocco and Jordan, unlike Tunisia and Egypt, are traditional monarchies who derive their legitimacy from their affinity to the Prophet Muhammad. Similarly, it is true that Saudi Arabia and Oman, not like Tunisia and Egypt, are ruled by kings and sultans who use their vast petro-wealth to buy the loyalty of a large middle class shielding them from the marginalized. Likewise, it is true that Bahrain has more Shi`is than Tunisia and Egypt—about 70% of the population. Lastly, it is true that the Syrian regime has antagonized the West and its Arab allies when it came to the most popular regional issues in contrast to Tunisia and Egypt and aligned itself with the masses.

However, all these regimes have one common denominator: they all retain power for life and they do not respect the dignity of their peoples. All Arab countries where protests took place are run by corrupt, authoritarian, and despotic regimes that do not allow dissent, torture their citizens, and imprison political dissidents. The rulers and/or their parties control the executive, legislative, and judicial authorities and they do not tolerate true civil society institutions.

Most Arab peoples, especially the young and educated generation which makes more than 60% of the populations in most Arab countries, think that stripping them of their dignity occurs when they are treated as if they are incapable of knowing what is right and what is wrong. They no longer accept the proposition that national security, prosperity, and stability are predicated on having one leader or one party running the government for life. This generation of Arabs is now demanding respect and wants the regimes to treat everyone with dignity or degage—as the Tunisian youth had said… Leave!

With the fall of the Tunisian and Egyptian authoritarians, the Arab peoples have crossed a threshold. They have overcome fear and believed in the power of the people to make change happen, and in most cases, happen peacefully. The remaining Arab dictators are delaying the inevitable: they will all go or become isolated in a world that does not seem to tolerate the prescription of a president, king, emir, or “leader” consolidating and monopolizing power for life in return for stability and security. The peoples have learned that that is a false dichotomy and unjust trade.

* Ahmed Souaiaia, teaches classes in the department of Religious Studies, International Programs and College of Law at the University of Iowa. Opinions expressed herein are the author’s, speaking as a citizen on matters of public interest; not speaking for the University or any other organization with which he is affiliated.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

هدم عشرات المساجد واستمرار حملة الاعتقالات قي البحرين

    7:41 AM   No comments

Monday, April 18, 2011

إعتقال محام ناشط في مجال حقوق الإنسان بسبب توليه الدفاع في القضايا السياسية ضد المعارضين

    6:43 AM   No comments

إعتقال محام ناشط في مجال حقوق الإنسان بسبب توليه الدفاع في القضايا السياسية ضد المعارضين

Posted By marwa On April 17, 2011 @ 1:43 pm In البحرين,جديد الشبكة | No Comments

القاهرة في 17 إبريل [1]2011

أعربت الشبكة العربية لمعلومات حقوق الإنسان اليوم,عن ادانتها الشديدة لإستمرار الحملة الأمنية الجائرة التي تشنها السلطات البحرينية ضد المعارضة والتي تستهدف منها تصفية المعارضين الذين شاركوا في الإحتجاجات السلمية عن طريق اعتقالهم وتعذيبهم حتي الموت في السجون حيث انه بعد ايام من مقتل رابع معتقل سياسي في السجون البحرينية رجل الأعمال المعارض كريم فخراوي قامت قوات الآمن البحرينية يوم أمس السبت باعتقال المحامي البارز محمد التاجر الناشط في مجال حقوق الإنسان والذي تولي الدفاع عن المعارضين في العديد من القضايا الملفقة من قبل السلطات البحرينية وهو نفسه من تولي الدفاع عن حسن المشيمع زعيم حركة حق الشيعية والذي تم اعتقاله في شهر مارس الماضي.

وكانت قوات الآمن البحرينية قد اقتحمت منزل التاجر في الساعات الأولي من صباح يوم السبت 16 ابريل 2011 وقامت بإعتقاله بهدف إرهاب المحامين وإثناءهم عن الدفاع عن المعارضين في القضايا السياسية.

وقالت الشبكة العربية “إننا نستنكر بشدة القمع الوحشي الذي تتعرض لها المعارضة البحرينية بالمخالفة للقوانين والمعاهدات الدولية منذ بدأ الإحتجاجات السلمية التي تطالب بالإصلاح الديمقراطي في منتصف شهر فبراير الماضي والتي تعرضت للقمع الشديد من قبل الأجهزة الأمنية التي استخدمت القوة المفرطة لإنهاءها مستعينة بدعم عسكري من قبل جيرانها في الخليج العربي,الذين ارسلوا ما يزيد عن 1500 مجند للمشاركة في انهاء تلك الإحتجاجات ومساعدة السلطات البحرينية في السيطرة عليها بعد أن كانت علي وشك الإطاحة بالحكومة الحالية,وقد إستهدف هذ القمع الشديد الأطباء ونشطاء حقوق الإنسان وكل من تجرأ علي معارضة السلطات البحرينية وخاصة المواطنين الشيعة منهم”

وأضافت الشبكة العربية “إن قمع المعارضة البحرينية لم يتوقف عند قيام السلطات بمصادرة حقهم في حرية التعبير وإعتقالهم بشكل تعسفي وتلفيق التهم لهم بل زاد ليصل الي حد إعتقال وإرهاب المحامين الذين يتولوا الدفاع عنهم لحرمانهم من حقهم الأساسي في المحاكمة العادلة والمنصفة وهو ما يوضح عدم إهتمام السلطات البحرينية بالقوانين والشرعية بأي حال من الأحوال”

وكانت السلطات البحرينية قد أعتقلت أعداد كبيرة جداً من المعارضيين السياسيين في البلاد ولم تعلن حتي الآن عن عددهم أو ماهية التهم الموجهة لهم والتي أعتقلوا علي خلفيتها منذ بدأ احتجاجات الرابع عشر من فبراير 2011.

بدأ الإحتجاجات

في يوم الإثنين 14 فبراير 2011 وفي الذكري العاشرة لإطلاق الدستور البحريني وبدعوة من المعارضة ونشطاء الإنترنت وتحت مسمي “يوم الغضب” بدأت حملة احتجاجات شعبية واسعة في مملكة البحرين متأثرة بموجة الإحتجاجات التي شهدتها الدول العربية والتي تمكن فيها الشعبين المصري والتونسي من الإطاحة بالإنظمة الحاكمة في بلدانهم,وقادت المعارضة البحرينية تلك الإحتجاجات مطالبة ببعض الإصلاحات السياسية والإقتصادية في البلاد والتي كان علي رأسها صياغة دستور جديد وإقامة مملكة دستورية والمطالبة باطلاق سراح النشطاء السياسين ورجال الدين الشيعة الذين تم إعتقالهم بشكل تعسفي علي خلفية اراءهم وحل مجلس النواب الذي جاء بانتخابات معيبة وعدم منح صلاحيات للمجالس المعينة والغير منتخبة مثل مجلس الشوري وحرية تشكيل الأحزاب وكفالة حق حرية التعبير,وعلي غرار ما حدث في ميدان التحرير بالقاهرة توجه المتظاهرون البحرينين الي ميدان دوار اللؤلؤة أكبر الميادين في المنامة بعد أن فشل الآمن في منعهم وقرروا الإعتصام في هذا الميدان حتي تستجيب الحكومة البحرينية لمطالبهم.

فض الاعتصام بالقوة المفرطة

وفي الساعة الثالثة من فجر يوم الخميس 17 فبراير 2011 قامت قوات الآمن البحرينية بمحاصرة ميدان دوار اللؤلؤة والهجوم علي المعتصمين وهم نائمون وفي جريمة بشعة قامت بتفريقهم مستخدمة الرصاص الحي والمطاطي والقنابل المسيلة للدموع ومستقلين عدد كبير من المدرعات وقاموا بالهجوم علي الخيم الخاصة بالمحتجين وتكسيرها عليهم ممـا أدي الي سقوط قتلي وإصابات عديدة,وبعد أن تم فض الإعتصام بالقوة نزل الجيش الي شوارع البحرين وأصدر قرار بمنع التظاهرات في البلاد للحفاظ علي امن وسلامة البلاد وفقاً لتصريحات السلطات,وبعد ذلك نظمت جمعية الأطباء البحرينية اعتصام في مجمع السلمانية الطبي,إحتجاجا علي منع قوات الآمن البحرينية الأطباء والإسعاف من الوصول لجرحي الهجوم الجائر علي دوار اللؤلؤة وهو ما يوضح مدي وحشية الحكومة البحرينية في التعامل مع المحتجين سلمياً.

وبعد أن قامت قوات مكافحة الشغب بتفريق اعتصام دوار اللؤلؤة بالقوة والعنف حاول بعض المتظاهرين من العودة اليه لمواصلة إحتجاجاتهم السلمية مرددين إن ثورتهم شعبية وليست طائفية,الا ان الجيش قد منعهم من الوصول للدوار عن طريق فتح النار عليهم واطلاق الرصاص الحي عليهم وإطلاق قذائف مضادة للطائرات فوق رؤسهم وهذا ما أدي الي إصابة المئات في صفوف المحتجين سلمياً.

تشويه الإحتجاجات ووصفها بالطائفية

ومنذ يوم فض الإعتصام بالقوة المفرطة بشكل غير قانوني شن رجال الحكومة والشخصيات العامة المقربة من السلطات حملة إعلامية لتشويه تلك الإحتجاجات عن طريق وصفها بالطائفية والمدعومة من إيران وتحمل مخطاطات أجنبية للإيقاع بالبلاد في جحيم الطائفية وهو ما زعموا انهم قاموا بفض الإعتصام بسببه,وأسلوب التشويه والتضليل الذي استخدمته السلطات البحرينية سبق وأن استخدمته الحكومات العربية التي تشهد بلدانها احتجاجا وعلي رأسها حكومتي مصر وتونس قبل أن يتم إسقاطهم.

دعوة شكلية لحوار وطني

وفي يوم الجمعة 18 فبراير 2011 اصدر ملك البحرين عيسي آل الخليفة مرسوم ملكي يدعو فيه المعارضة البحرينية وكل الأطراف في البلاد المشاركة في حوار وطني يشرف عليه نجله وولي العهد سلمان بن حمد ليلبي مطالب وطموحات المواطنين البحرينين في الإصلاح الديمقراطي والإقتصادي,الا ان المعارضة البحرينية رفضت الإستجابة لدعوة الملك لإنها كانت تراها مجرد محاولة لإمتصاص الغضب خاصة وانه لم يتم أتخاذ آي اجراءات تدل علي جدية الحوار وطالبت المعارضة بإقالة الحكومة وسحب قوات الجيش من الشوارع اولا قبل اجراء آي حوار ووصفت ان وجود الجيش في الشوارع وفض الاعتصام بالقوة ومنع المتظاهرين من حقهم المشروع في التظاهر لا يدل علي لغة الحوار بل يعني ان لغة القوة هي من سيدير الآمر وهذا ما تحقق فعلاً بمرور الإيام حيث ان السلطات البحرينية بمجرد أن هدأت الأوضاع قليلاً وتمكنت من فضل اعتصام دوار اللؤلؤة بدأت في شن حملتها الآمنية الواسعة ضد المعارضيين.

العودة لدوار اللؤلؤة

وفي يوم السبت 19 فبراير 2011 وبعد ساعات من رفض المعارضة البحرينية لقبول الحوار في ظل وجود الجيش في الشوارع وقبل اقالة الحكومة قرر ملك البحرين سحب قوات الجيش من الشوارع وبعد ذلك توجه المحتجين لدوار اللؤلؤة لمعاودة إعتصامهم الذي سبق وان تم فضه بالقوة وبعد مواجهات قوية بين المحتجين والشرطة إنسحبت اجهزة الآمن من الدوار وبعد ذلك قام المحتجين بنصب خيامهم ومعاودة الإعتصام وعرض مطالبهم مرة آخري,فقام الملك باتخاذ بعد الخطوات لتهدئة الشعب الغاضب من بينها اطلاق سراح عدد من النشطاء الشيعة المعتقلين,وطالبهم بالهدوء للحفاظ علي البلاد من الفتنة والإنقسام,الا ان المحتجين أصروا علي مطالبهم التي تحمل طموحاتهم في مستقبل أفضل وبدأوا في تنظيم احتجاجات حاشدة لمئات الألاف من المواطنين البحريين للضغط علي الحكومة لتلبية مطالبهم فقام الملك بعد ذلك باجراء تعديلات علي 3 وزارات وتقديم بعض الامتيازات الإقتصادية للمواطنين لإرضائهم الا ان كل هذا كان مجرد محاولة لإجراء تعديلات شكلية لإثناء المعارضة عن طلباتها واعادة الهدوء.

المرافق الطبية تستخدم في القمع

وأثناء تلك الإحتجاجات السلمية قامت السلطات البحرينية بإستخدام المرافق الطبية في قمع الإحتجاجات السلمية وذلك عن طريق محاصرتها وأعتقال المصابين التي تعد إصابتهم دليلا علي مشاركتهم في الإحتجاجات وذلك بهدف قمع تلك الإحتجاجات كما كانت تقوم السلطات بمنع المحتجين الذين تعرضوا لإصابات بأيدي رجال الآمن من الوصول للمرافق الطبية وذلك بغرض إرهاب المحتجين,وهو ما جعل المرافق الطبية مكان يخشي المعارضون الذهاب إليه لما يشكله ذلك من خطر عليهم وذلك بحسب منظمة أطباء بلا حدود ونشطاء بحرنيين.

قمع الإحتجاجات بدعم خليجي تقوده السعودية

في يوم الإثنين 14 مارس 2011 أرسلت دول السعودية والإمارات قوات عسكرية وفقا لما يسمي بدرع الجزيرة وهي إتفاقية للدفاع العسكري المشترك بين دول الجزيرة ويبدو انها كانت اتفاقية لحماية حكومات دول الجزيرة العربية وليست الشعوب حيث انه هذا اليوم قد وصل نحو 1000 جندي سعودي بأسلحتهم ومدرعاتهم و500 اخريين تابعين للجيش الإماراتي لقمع الإحتجاجات السلمية في البحرين وحماية السلطات.!!! الا ان المتظاهرين اصروا علي استكمال احتجاجاتهم فتم إطلاق الرصاص الحي وقتل بعضهم برصاصات مباشرة في الرأس في اشتباكات بين الأجهزة الأمنية والمحتجين السلميين الذين طالتهم آلة الآمن البشعة في ظل هتافاتهم “سلمية,,سلمية” في يوم 15 مارس ,وفي اليوم التالي 16 مارس اصدر الملك قراره بفرض حالة الطوارئ والتي كانت البداية للسيطرة النسبية علي الإحتجاجات السلمية في البحرين حيث قام الجيش البحريني بالتعاون مع اجهزة الآمن والقوات السعودية الإماراتية باخلاء دوار اللؤلؤة من المعتصمين عن طريق مهاجمة الميدان بالمدرعات واطلاق الرصاص عليهم واعتقال العديد منهم وإحراق خيامهم, وقد شهدت تلك الواقعة اعتداءات وحشية من قبل السلطات ادت لسقوط العديد من الجرحي والقتلي.

حملات امنية ضد المعارضة

بعد ان تمكنت السلطات البحرينية من السيطرة علي اعتصام دوار اللؤلؤة واخلاءه من المحتجين وفرض حالة الطوارئ وانتشار قوات الجيش في الشوارع شنت الأجهزة الأمنية حملات عديدة ضد النشطاء في المملكة حيث قامت باعتقال العديد منهم وتعريضهم للتعذيب وفصل المعارضين من الجامعات وإغلاق شركاتهم واستهدف نشطاء الإنترنت وحرية التعبير بشكل كبير.

ففي يوم 21 مارس 2011 قامت الحكومة البحرينية بالغاء كافة تراخيص شركة توكونيكت لخدمات الإنترنت والمملوكة للمعارض البحريني “إبراهيم شريف” رئيس حزب الوعد المعارض بقرار صدر يوم 21 مارس الماضي وبعد أيام من اعتقاله علي خلفية مشاركته في الاحتجاجات السلمية.

وفي يوم الاربعاء 30 مارس قامت قوات الآمن البحرينية بإقتحام منازل نشطاء الانترنت “محمود اليوسف” و”سناء عبدالرازق”والشاعرة “أيات القرمزي” واعقتالهم واحتجازهم بشكل تعسفي هذا فضلا عن توقيف بعض الإعلاميين واحتجازهم واستجوابهم مثل طاقم السي أن ان الذي وردت انباء عن اعتقاله اثناء اجراءه مقابلة مع ناشط حقوقي بارز.

وفي يوم السبت 2 إبريل اصدرت السلطات البحرينية قرار بإغلاق جريدة “الوسط” المستقلة والمعروفة بعدم ميلها للحكومة أو المعارضة بسبب نشرها اخبار عن الإحتجاجات في البحرين.

اقصاء المعارضين من العمل وقمع الحركات النقابية

وفي مطلع شهر ابريل 2011 بدأت السلطات البحرينية بشن حملة تطهير جائرة تستهدف تصفية النشطاء وإبعادهم من اعمالهم المؤثرة وخاصة في مجال التعليم والإعلام , ففي 1 إبريل 2011 قامت السلطات بفصل العديد من الأكاديميين والإداريين العاملين بالجامعة البحرينية ومعاقبة العديد من الطلاب والدارسين بها علي خلفية مشاركتهم في الاحتجاجات السلمية.

وفي يوم 9 إبريل أقتحمت السلطات البحرينية منزل الناشط الحقوقي عبد الهادي الخواجة وقامت بإعتقاله هو وزوجي ابنتيه وقاموا بالإعتداء عليه بالضرب واعتقاله ومازال محتجزا بشكل تعسفي حتي الآن.

وقد استهدفت السلطات البحرينية الحركات النقابية بشكل كبير بهدف تصفية جميع معارضيها الذين شاركوا في تلك الإحتجاجات
أو تضامنوا ضد قتل المتظاهرين فقامت باعتقال 5 من اعضاء مجلس ادارة جمعية المعلمين في نهاية شهر مارس ,واعقب ذلك في يوم 6 إبريل صدور قرار من قبل السلطات بحل الجمعية.!!

وفي يوم 4إبريل 2011 تم اعتقال رولا الصفار رئيسة جمعية التمريض ولم يتم الكشف عن مصيرها حتي الآن بحسب ما نشره ناشط حقوقي بحريني بارز علي موقع تويتر للتدوين القصير.

وفي 31 مارس قامت السلطات بفصل احد مؤسسي حركة العمال البحرينية ورئيس نقابة عمال شركة نفط البحرين عبد الغفار الحسيني علي خلفية دعوته لإضراب عام بحسب نشطاء الإنترنت وبعض مراكز حقوق الإنسان البحرينية.

التعذيب حتي الموت

لم تكتفي اجهزة الآمن البحرينية بإعتقال معارضيها بل عرضتهم للتعذيب الوحشي داخل السجوان وهذا ما أدي الي مقتل نحو 4 أشخاص في 9 أيام بحسب المعارضة البحرينية وتقارير اخبارية علي شبكة الإنترنت,وذلك بعد مقتل الناشط ورجل الأعمال كريم فخراوي في 12 ابريل 2011 أثناء احتجازه في سجون المملكة البحرينية ليكون بذلك هو رابع النشطاء الذين قتلوا في السجون البحرينية منذ مطلع الشهر الجاري.

ففي يوم 9 إبريل 2011 بحسب تقارير اخبارية لقي علي عيسي صقر صاحب الـ 31 عاما مصرعه داخل سجون البحرين بعد نقله للمستشفي علي أثر تعرضه لنزيف شديد ونشرت صور علي مواقع الإنترنت توضح كدمات في انحاء متفرقة من جسده مما يرجح الإدعاءات القائلة بإنه توفي بسبب قيام اجهزة الآمن بتعذيبه.

وفي اليوم نفسه 9 إبريل 2011 لقي ناشط الإنترنت زكريا راشد حسن صاحب الـ40 عاما مصرعه داخل السجن في وسط إتهامات من قبل المعارضة البحرينية بتعذيب الآمن له حتي الموت.

وفي يوم 3 إبريل لقي حسن جاسم صاحب ال 39 عاما مصرعه إيضاً داخل سجون البحرين.

ويذكر ان في شهر مارس شهد العديد من حالات الوفاة لمواطنين بحرنيين داخل السجون,وقد تم نشر العديد من الصور التي توضح اثار التعذيب علي اجسادهم وكل ذلك دون أن تهتم السلطات البحرينية التي دائما ما تنكر التعذيب بإجراء أي تحقيقات في شأن تعذيب النشطاء حتي الموت.

أول قضية عربية بسبب النشر علي تويتر

ومنذ أيام قليلة صرحت وزارة الداخلية البحرينية بإنه سيتم تقديم الناشط الحقوقي البارز نبيل رجب مدير مركز البحرين لحقوق الإنسان للمدعي العام العسكري للتحقيق بتهمة نشر صور ملفقة بسبب قيام الناشط بنشر صور علي موقع تويتر للتدوين القصير توضح أثار التعذيب علي جسد المواطن علي عيسي صقر الذي لقي حتفه في السجن في يوم 9 إبريل2011.

وقالت الشبكة العربية لمعلومات حقوق الإنسان “إنه لا يجب علي المجتمع الدولي والعربي ان يقفوا مكتوفي الإيدي في ظل تلك الجرائم التي ترتكبها الحكومة البحرينية ضد المعارضة وضد القوانين والتشريعات الدولية وعليهم أن يتخذوا إجراءات سريعة من أجل الضغط علي السلطات البحرينية للكف عن تلك الممارسات ومحاكمة المسئولين عنها بشكل عادل وشفاف”

Thursday, April 14, 2011

UN Gaza report co-authors slam Goldstone

    7:31 AM   No comments
Three members of the UN fact-finding mission on the Gaza war of 2008-09 have turned on the fourth member and chair of the group, Richard Goldstone, accusing him in all but name of misrepresenting facts in order to cast doubt on the credibility of their joint report.

In a statement to the Guardian, the three experts in international law are strongly critical of Goldstone's dramatic change of heart expressed in a Washington Post commentary earlier this month. Goldstone wrote that he regretted aspects of the report that bears his name, especially the suggestion that Israel had potentially committed war crimes by targeting civilian Palestinians in the three-week conflict.

The three members – the Pakistani human rights lawyer Hina Jilani; Christine Chinkin, professor of international law at the London School of Economics; and former Irish peace-keeper Desmond Travers – have until this moment kept their silence over Goldstone's bombshell remarks. But their response now is devastating.

Though they do not mention Goldstone by name, they shoot down several of the main contentions in his article and imply that he has bowed to intense political pressure.

They write that they cannot leave "aspersions cast on the findings of the [Goldstone] report unchallenged", adding that those aspersions have "misrepresented facts in an attempt to delegitimise the findings and to cast doubts on its credibility".

In their most stinging criticism, the three joint authors say that "calls to reconsider or even retract the report, as well as attempts at misrepresenting its nature and purpose, disregard the rights of victims, Palestinians and Israeli, to truth and justice". They point to the "personal attacks and the extraordinary pressure placed on members of the fact-finding mission", adding that "had we given in to pressures from any quarter to sanitise our conclusions, we would be doing a serious injustice to the hundreds of innocent civilians killed during the Gaza conflict, the thousands injured, and the hundreds of thousands whose lives continue to be deeply affected by the conflict and the blockade".

The four-person fact-finding mission was set up to look into allegations of war crimes committed by both Israel and Hamas during the war in which 1,400 Palestinians – at least half of whom were civilians – and 13 Israelis died. The Goldstone report concludedthat some Israelis could be held individually criminally responsible for potential war crimes.

In his Washington Post article, Goldstone said evidence had since come to light as a result of subsequent Israeli military investigations into the conflict that showed that Israel had not targeted civilians as a matter of policy. Had he known that then, "the Goldstone report would have been a different document," he wrote.

Goldstone's apparent retraction of key elements of the fact-finding mission he led was seized upon with delight by the Israeli government which called for the report to be set aside in the light of his comments. An Israeli minister claimed that Goldstone had himself promised to work to have his own report "nullified".

But his three fellow members of the mission state that they "firmly stand by" the conclusions of the report. They say that neither Israel nor Hamas has come up with any convincing evidence contradicting the findings.

The three authors cite the final UN report into the Gaza war, written by a follow-up committee led by Judge Mary McGowan Davies, that criticised Israel for the slow pace with which it conducted its investigations and for its refusal to address some of the most serious allegations about its conduct. "The mechanisms that are being used by the Israeli authorities to investigate the incidents are proving inadequate to genuinely ascertain the facts and any ensuing legal responsibility."

The statement of Jilani, Chinkin and Travers will set back any attempt by Israel to have the Goldstone report revoked. The UN human rights council, which commissioned the fact-finding mission, has already made clear that the report could only be withdrawn if all four of its authors unanimously made a formal written complaint or if the UN general assembly or human rights council voted to drop it.

The Palestinian Authority (PA) welcomed the statement from the three members of the mission. "[It is] as an important reminder of what matters – that the truth must be established and justice done. It is very disturbing that members of the committee say they have been put under pressure to sanitise their conclusions," said PA spokesman Ghassan Khatib.

"Israel must not be allowed to influence the outcome of what needs to be an objective process. Nor must Israel be allowed to investigate its own actions and find itself not guilty. We pay tribute to those members of the committee who have the courage to resist Israeli pressure and insist that justice must be done."

The Israeli government responded to the latest developments by restating its view that the Goldstone report was flawed from the outset.

"Israel's position on the Goldstone report and the whole process that established the committee has not changed. The establishment of the committee was based on fundamental flaws of the United Nations human rights council. The report was handled in a highly politicised manner by a council lacking in moral authority," said a spokesman for the Israeli ministry of foreign affairs," said Yigal Palmor, spokesman for the Israeli ministry of foreign affairs.

"We believed that the methodology, workings and findings of the committee were mind-bogglingly distorted. All this is still valid as is Israel's commitment to investigate itself regardless of resolutions by any foreign body. We believe that our investigations and our transparency in carrying those out are the best reproach to any criticisms of Operation Cast Lead."

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

ميليشيات القذافي تغتصب امرأة ليبية

    6:53 PM   No comments

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Remarks by the President in Address to the Nation on Libya

    7:57 AM   No comments

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Watch President Obama’s Speech

Qadhafi Regimes Accused of raping Women


The White House

Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release

March 28, 2011

National Defense University
Washington, D.C.

7:31 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT: Tonight, I’d like to update the American people on the international effort that we have led in Libya –- what we’ve done, what we plan to do, and why this matters to us.

I want to begin by paying tribute to our men and women in uniform who, once again, have acted with courage, professionalism and patriotism. They have moved with incredible speed and strength. Because of them and our dedicated diplomats, a coalition has been forged and countless lives have been saved.

Meanwhile, as we speak, our troops are supporting our ally Japan, leaving Iraq to its people, stopping the Taliban’s momentum in Afghanistan, and going after al Qaeda all across the globe. As Commander-in-Chief, I’m grateful to our soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, Coast Guardsmen, and to their families. And I know all Americans share in that sentiment.

For generations, the United States of America has played a unique role as an anchor of global security and as an advocate for human freedom. Mindful of the risks and costs of military action, we are naturally reluctant to use force to solve the world’s many challenges. But when our interests and values are at stake, we have a responsibility to act. That’s what happened in Libya over the course of these last six weeks.

Libya sits directly between Tunisia and Egypt -– two nations that inspired the world when their people rose up to take control of their own destiny. For more than four decades, the Libyan people have been ruled by a tyrant -– Muammar Qaddafi. He has denied his people freedom, exploited their wealth, murdered opponents at home and abroad, and terrorized innocent people around the world –- including Americans who were killed by Libyan agents.

Last month, Qaddafi’s grip of fear appeared to give way to the promise of freedom. In cities and towns across the country, Libyans took to the streets to claim their basic human rights. As one Libyan said, “For the first time we finally have hope that our nightmare of 40 years will soon be over.”

Faced with this opposition, Qaddafi began attacking his people. As President, my immediate concern was the safety of our citizens, so we evacuated our embassy and all Americans who sought our assistance. Then we took a series of swift steps in a matter of days to answer Qaddafi’s aggression. We froze more than $33 billion of Qaddafi’s regime’s assets. Joining with other nations at the United Nations Security Council, we broadened our sanctions, imposed an arms embargo, and enabled Qaddafi and those around him to be held accountable for their crimes. I made it clear that Qaddafi had lost the confidence of his people and the legitimacy to lead, and I said that he needed to step down from power.

In the face of the world’s condemnation, Qaddafi chose to escalate his attacks, launching a military campaign against the Libyan people. Innocent people were targeted for killing. Hospitals and ambulances were attacked. Journalists were arrested, sexually assaulted, and killed. Supplies of food and fuel were choked off. Water for hundreds of thousands of people in Misurata was shut off. Cities and towns were shelled, mosques were destroyed, and apartment buildings reduced to rubble. Military jets and helicopter gunships were unleashed upon people who had no means to defend themselves against assaults from the air.

Confronted by this brutal repression and a looming humanitarian crisis, I ordered warships into the Mediterranean. European allies declared their willingness to commit resources to stop the killing. The Libyan opposition and the Arab League appealed to the world to save lives in Libya. And so at my direction, America led an effort with our allies at the United Nations Security Council to pass a historic resolution that authorized a no-fly zone to stop the regime’s attacks from the air, and further authorized all necessary measures to protect the Libyan people.

Ten days ago, having tried to end the violence without using force, the international community offered Qaddafi a final chance to stop his campaign of killing, or face the consequences. Rather than stand down, his forces continued their advance, bearing down on the city of Benghazi, home to nearly 700,000 men, women and children who sought their freedom from fear.

At this point, the United States and the world faced a choice. Qaddafi declared he would show “no mercy” to his own people. He compared them to rats, and threatened to go door to door to inflict punishment. In the past, we have seen him hang civilians in the streets, and kill over a thousand people in a single day. Now we saw regime forces on the outskirts of the city. We knew that if we wanted -- if we waited one more day, Benghazi, a city nearly the size of Charlotte, could suffer a massacre that would have reverberated across the region and stained the conscience of the world.

It was not in our national interest to let that happen. I refused to let that happen. And so nine days ago, after consulting the bipartisan leadership of Congress, I authorized military action to stop the killing and enforce U.N. Security Council Resolution 1973.

We struck regime forces approaching Benghazi to save that city and the people within it. We hit Qaddafi’s troops in neighboring Ajdabiya, allowing the opposition to drive them out. We hit Qaddafi’s air defenses, which paved the way for a no-fly zone. We targeted tanks and military assets that had been choking off towns and cities, and we cut off much of their source of supply. And tonight, I can report that we have stopped Qaddafi’s deadly advance.

In this effort, the United States has not acted alone. Instead, we have been joined by a strong and growing coalition. This includes our closest allies -– nations like the United Kingdom, France, Canada, Denmark, Norway, Italy, Spain, Greece, and Turkey –- all of whom have fought by our sides for decades. And it includes Arab partners like Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, who have chosen to meet their responsibilities to defend the Libyan people.

To summarize, then: In just one month, the United States has worked with our international partners to mobilize a broad coalition, secure an international mandate to protect civilians, stop an advancing army, prevent a massacre, and establish a no-fly zone with our allies and partners. To lend some perspective on how rapidly this military and diplomatic response came together, when people were being brutalized in Bosnia in the 1990s, it took the international community more than a year to intervene with air power to protect civilians. It took us 31 days.

Moreover, we’ve accomplished these objectives consistent with the pledge that I made to the American people at the outset of our military operations. I said that America’s role would be limited; that we would not put ground troops into Libya; that we would focus our unique capabilities on the front end of the operation and that we would transfer responsibility to our allies and partners. Tonight, we are fulfilling that pledge.

Our most effective alliance, NATO, has taken command of the enforcement of the arms embargo and the no-fly zone. Last night, NATO decided to take on the additional responsibility of protecting Libyan civilians. This transfer from the United States to NATO will take place on Wednesday. Going forward, the lead in enforcing the no-fly zone and protecting civilians on the ground will transition to our allies and partners, and I am fully confident that our coalition will keep the pressure on Qaddafi’s remaining forces.

In that effort, the United States will play a supporting role -- including intelligence, logistical support, search and rescue assistance, and capabilities to jam regime communications. Because of this transition to a broader, NATO-based coalition, the risk and cost of this operation -- to our military and to American taxpayers -- will be reduced significantly.

So for those who doubted our capacity to carry out this operation, I want to be clear: The United States of America has done what we said we would do.

That’s not to say that our work is complete. In addition to our NATO responsibilities, we will work with the international community to provide assistance to the people of Libya, who need food for the hungry and medical care for the wounded. We will safeguard the more than $33 billion that was frozen from the Qaddafi regime so that it’s available to rebuild Libya. After all, the money doesn’t belong to Qaddafi or to us -- it belongs to the Libyan people. And we’ll make sure they receive it.

Tomorrow, Secretary Clinton will go to London, where she will meet with the Libyan opposition and consult with more than 30 nations. These discussions will focus on what kind of political effort is necessary to pressure Qaddafi, while also supporting a transition to the future that the Libyan people deserve -- because while our military mission is narrowly focused on saving lives, we continue to pursue the broader goal of a Libya that belongs not to a dictator, but to its people.

Now, despite the success of our efforts over the past week, I know that some Americans continue to have questions about our efforts in Libya. Qaddafi has not yet stepped down from power, and until he does, Libya will remain dangerous. Moreover, even after Qaddafi does leave power, 40 years of tyranny has left Libya fractured and without strong civil institutions. The transition to a legitimate government that is responsive to the Libyan people will be a difficult task. And while the United States will do our part to help, it will be a task for the international community and –- more importantly –- a task for the Libyan people themselves.

In fact, much of the debate in Washington has put forward a false choice when it comes to Libya. On the one hand, some question why America should intervene at all -– even in limited ways –- in this distant land. They argue that there are many places in the world where innocent civilians face brutal violence at the hands of their government, and America should not be expected to police the world, particularly when we have so many pressing needs here at home.

It’s true that America cannot use our military wherever repression occurs. And given the costs and risks of intervention, we must always measure our interests against the need for action. But that cannot be an argument for never acting on behalf of what’s right. In this particular country -– Libya -- at this particular moment, we were faced with the prospect of violence on a horrific scale. We had a unique ability to stop that violence: an international mandate for action, a broad coalition prepared to join us, the support of Arab countries, and a plea for help from the Libyan people themselves. We also had the ability to stop Qaddafi’s forces in their tracks without putting American troops on the ground.

To brush aside America’s responsibility as a leader and -– more profoundly -– our responsibilities to our fellow human beings under such circumstances would have been a betrayal of who we are. Some nations may be able to turn a blind eye to atrocities in other countries. The United States of America is different. And as President, I refused to wait for the images of slaughter and mass graves before taking action.

Moreover, America has an important strategic interest in preventing Qaddafi from overrunning those who oppose him. A massacre would have driven thousands of additional refugees across Libya’s borders, putting enormous strains on the peaceful –- yet fragile -– transitions in Egypt and Tunisia. The democratic impulses that are dawning across the region would be eclipsed by the darkest form of dictatorship, as repressive leaders concluded that violence is the best strategy to cling to power. The writ of the United Nations Security Council would have been shown to be little more than empty words, crippling that institution’s future credibility to uphold global peace and security. So while I will never minimize the costs involved in military action, I am convinced that a failure to act in Libya would have carried a far greater price for America.

Now, just as there are those who have argued against intervention in Libya, there are others who have suggested that we broaden our military mission beyond the task of protecting the Libyan people, and do whatever it takes to bring down Qaddafi and usher in a new government.

Of course, there is no question that Libya -– and the world –- would be better off with Qaddafi out of power. I, along with many other world leaders, have embraced that goal, and will actively pursue it through non-military means. But broadening our military mission to include regime change would be a mistake.

The task that I assigned our forces -– to protect the Libyan people from immediate danger, and to establish a no-fly zone -– carries with it a U.N. mandate and international support. It’s also what the Libyan opposition asked us to do. If we tried to overthrow Qaddafi by force, our coalition would splinter. We would likely have to put U.S. troops on the ground to accomplish that mission, or risk killing many civilians from the air. The dangers faced by our men and women in uniform would be far greater. So would the costs and our share of the responsibility for what comes next.

To be blunt, we went down that road in Iraq. Thanks to the extraordinary sacrifices of our troops and the determination of our diplomats, we are hopeful about Iraq’s future. But regime change there took eight years, thousands of American and Iraqi lives, and nearly a trillion dollars. That is not something we can afford to repeat in Libya.

As the bulk of our military effort ratchets down, what we can do -- and will do -- is support the aspirations of the Libyan people. We have intervened to stop a massacre, and we will work with our allies and partners to maintain the safety of civilians. We will deny the regime arms, cut off its supplies of cash, assist the opposition, and work with other nations to hasten the day when Qaddafi leaves power. It may not happen overnight, as a badly weakened Qaddafi tries desperately to hang on to power. But it should be clear to those around Qaddafi, and to every Libyan, that history is not on Qaddafi’s side. With the time and space that we have provided for the Libyan people, they will be able to determine their own destiny, and that is how it should be.

Let me close by addressing what this action says about the use of America’s military power, and America’s broader leadership in the world, under my presidency.

As Commander-in-Chief, I have no greater responsibility than keeping this country safe. And no decision weighs on me more than when to deploy our men and women in uniform. I’ve made it clear that I will never hesitate to use our military swiftly, decisively, and unilaterally when necessary to defend our people, our homeland, our allies and our core interests. That's why we’re going after al Qaeda wherever they seek a foothold. That is why we continue to fight in Afghanistan, even as we have ended our combat mission in Iraq and removed more than 100,000 troops from that country.

There will be times, though, when our safety is not directly threatened, but our interests and our values are. Sometimes, the course of history poses challenges that threaten our common humanity and our common security -– responding to natural disasters, for example; or preventing genocide and keeping the peace; ensuring regional security, and maintaining the flow of commerce. These may not be America’s problems alone, but they are important to us. They’re problems worth solving. And in these circumstances, we know that the United States, as the world’s most powerful nation, will often be called upon to help.

In such cases, we should not be afraid to act -– but the burden of action should not be America’s alone. As we have in Libya, our task is instead to mobilize the international community for collective action. Because contrary to the claims of some, American leadership is not simply a matter of going it alone and bearing all of the burden ourselves. Real leadership creates the conditions and coalitions for others to step up as well; to work with allies and partners so that they bear their share of the burden and pay their share of the costs; and to see that the principles of justice and human dignity are upheld by all.

That’s the kind of leadership we’ve shown in Libya. Of course, even when we act as part of a coalition, the risks of any military action will be high. Those risks were realized when one of our planes malfunctioned over Libya. Yet when one of our airmen parachuted to the ground, in a country whose leader has so often demonized the United States –- in a region that has such a difficult history with our country –- this American did not find enemies. Instead, he was met by people who embraced him. One young Libyan who came to his aid said, “We are your friends. We are so grateful to those men who are protecting the skies.”

This voice is just one of many in a region where a new generation is refusing to be denied their rights and opportunities any longer.

Yes, this change will make the world more complicated for a time. Progress will be uneven, and change will come differently to different countries. There are places, like Egypt, where this change will inspire us and raise our hopes. And then there will be places, like Iran, where change is fiercely suppressed. The dark forces of civil conflict and sectarian war will have to be averted, and difficult political and economic concerns will have to be addressed.

The United States will not be able to dictate the pace and scope of this change. Only the people of the region can do that. But we can make a difference.

I believe that this movement of change cannot be turned back, and that we must stand alongside those who believe in the same core principles that have guided us through many storms: our opposition to violence directed at one’s own people; our support for a set of universal rights, including the freedom for people to express themselves and choose their leaders; our support for governments that are ultimately responsive to the aspirations of the people.

Born, as we are, out of a revolution by those who longed to be free, we welcome the fact that history is on the move in the Middle East and North Africa, and that young people are leading the way. Because wherever people long to be free, they will find a friend in the United States. Ultimately, it is that faith -- those ideals -- that are the true measure of American leadership.

My fellow Americans, I know that at a time of upheaval overseas -- when the news is filled with conflict and change -- it can be tempting to turn away from the world. And as I’ve said before, our strength abroad is anchored in our strength here at home. That must always be our North Star -- the ability of our people to reach their potential, to make wise choices with our resources, to enlarge the prosperity that serves as a wellspring for our power, and to live the values that we hold so dear.

But let us also remember that for generations, we have done the hard work of protecting our own people, as well as millions around the globe. We have done so because we know that our own future is safer, our own future is brighter, if more of mankind can live with the bright light of freedom and dignity.

Tonight, let us give thanks for the Americans who are serving through these trying times, and the coalition that is carrying our effort forward. And let us look to the future with confidence and hope not only for our own country, but for all those yearning for freedom around the world.

Thank you. God bless you, and may God bless the United States of America. (Applause.) Thank you.

END 7:58 P.M. EDT


Obama on Libya: The Doctrine Is Clear, but the Mission Isn't

Posted by Michael Crowley Tuesday, March 29, 2011 at 12:10 am

Barack Obama's speech on Libya last night was a curious beast--both ambitious and cautious at once. The president surprised Washington by articulating a big idea about American power. But he may have disappointed Americans by dancing around the challenge that remains in Libya.

Obama was clear enough, to be sure, about why he chose to intervene in Libya. With his army outside Benghazi, Obama said, Moammar Gaddafi was prepared to commit "a massacre that would have reverberated across the region and stained the conscience of the world." That would not just have been a moral abomination, the president argued, but a strategic calamity that might send droves of refugees into Egypt and Tunisia, straining their fragile transitions; it would also set an example to other tyrants that "that violence is the best strategy to cling to power." Moreover, Obama said that to allow Gaddafi to defy the United Nations would be "crippling [to] its future credibility."

This was a fulsome explanation, though there's also plenty to critique: The United Nations only took substantive action in Libya at Washington's strong urging; Obama reversed the causality here. It's not self-evident how a wave of refugees would spoil the political transitions in Egypt and Tunisia. And the U.S. is currently propping up another Middle Eastern ruler who has violently repressed protests.

But so what? Those points were largely window dressing for Obama's grander idea about American power abroad. Conservatives have accused of doubting whether America has a special, "exceptional" role in the world. But tonight Obama put the lie to that charge. "For generations, the United States of America has played a unique role as an anchor of global security and advocate for human freedom," Obama said. To allow a slaughter in Benghazi would have been to "brush aside America's responsibility as a leader and... would have been a betrayal of who we are." As Chris Cilizza notes, this happens to be a powerful appeal to America's pride and patriotism. At the same time, Obama also explained that this isn't a license for fighting evil anywhere and everywhere: "We must always measure our interests against the need for action," he said. In Libya, the U.S. had the "unique ability" to act--thanks not only to our military power but also the international support behind it.

Such talk will please liberal interventionists and conservative hawks alike. (Yes, John McCain approves.) But for many Americans, some basic questions may remain unanswered. Obama assured the public that the U.S. is taking on a supporting role in NATO operations (though the AP is skeptical) and won't try to remove Gaddafi by force. "To be blunt, we went down that road in Iraq,” Obama said, adding that “regime change there took eight years, thousands of American and Iraqi lives, and nearly a trillion dollars. That is not something we can afford to repeat in Libya.”

But then what, exactly, are the options in Libya? Obama wants Gaddafi to leave power--and conceded that "until he does, Libya remains dangerous." Yet he was vague about the urgency of this outcome and what he's willing to do to achieve it. Would Obama, for instance, consider supplying arms to the Libyan rebels (in possible violation of a U.N. arms embargo)? If not arms, how about financing? And let's say a stalemate develops between Gadaffi and the rebels--would we be willing to recognize a separate state in the east? (The Arab league might be rather less enthusiastic about that.) And just who are the rebels anyway and what do they believe--does Obama have a clear sense of that? He didn't offer one last night.

Finally, what about Colin Powell's famous "Pottery Barn rule"? Imagine that Gaddafi is toppled, and his army and security forces are crushed or melt away. Perhaps tribal warfare rages over the country's oil wealth. Maybe al Qaeda leaps to exploit and aggravate the instability. Violent anarchy could break out around the country. Sound familiar? That's what happened in Iraq. We don't need to invade Libya to see an Iraq-like outcome. And in Libya the result could be a loss of life on a scale potentially greater than the massacre we likely averted in Benghazi. Having facilitated a change in regime, can America really stand by and watch that happen?

Obviously it's too much to expect a president to address every worst-case scenario that might result from his policies. And it's entirely possible that Gaddafi will soon be on a Lear jet to some friendly African nation to live out his life in luxurious exile. Moreover, the White House says that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will offer more detail about the Libya endgame during public remarks in London today.

But the fact remains that Obama has surely not spoken for the last time about Libya. He may have clarified his views on the important question of when and where America will use force to defend its interests and values. His views about what obligations America may have in the aftermath remain as murky as ever.

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