Friday, February 18, 2011

While we wait for Egypt, From Jordan, Bahrain

News from the middle East!

"Egypt's new military rulers dismantled ousted strongman Hosni Mubarak's regime on Sunday, dissolving parliament, suspending the constitution and promising a referendum on political reform.

While the civilian cabinet met for the first time since Mubarak's downfall, the generals made it clear where authority now lies, issuing a proclamation setting a six-month timetable to prepare democratic elections."-Al Jazeera

Jordan's uprising has been subject to military intimidation and violence.

"The most common demands are a new election law that would be more equal between urban and rural areas. Many are now calling for a return to the 1952 constitution. This would strip the current constitution of a lot of the measures giving additional powers to the monarchy. Everyone wants increased transparency in the budget and in the finances of ministers to decrease corruption. Lots of talk about educational reform. Many urging Jordanians to do their part in combating racism against Palestinians, to stop littering, to avoid smoking in non-smoking areas, to drive safer, to educate themselves on Jordan's history and politics. Some are demanding reform of Jordan's state-run TV and newspapers. Many want to see increased economic initiatives in renewable energy, and are urging Jordanians to support Jordanian businesses.

This isn't to say that people think that Jordan's a miserable place that needs to change everything. This guy thinks that freedom of speech is just fine. I have some evidence that there might be some reason for concern/reform. At least one student activist has been arrested. That wouldn't be especially notable except that the man's father was arrested so the young man would turn himself in. Seems like a questionable practice at best...and I'm not sure at all, to be honest, how any of that fits in with loosening restrictions on public gatherings. Or on escalations of criticism against the government that seems to be tolerated without legal action.

In sum, the last month there's just been a mood of inspiration across the region. This blog encapsulates the best of the feelings here, starting with Tunisia and amplified tenfold by Egypt. Demonstrations and online discussions aren't against the government, or against some new policy, but advocating real changes."

Meanwhile in Bahrain, the protests continue, cabinet members step down and Bahraini government threatens to use troops to quell crowds.

"Eighteen members of Bahrain parliament have resigned from their posts in a show of protest against the violent crackdown against pro-democracy demonstrators in the Persian Gulf kingdom.

The lawmakers announced on Thursday that they have suspended their membership in parliament over the killings of Shia demonstrators, Press TV cited an unnamed opposition parliamentarian as saying... Armored vehicles rumbled through the capital on Thursday as the government tried to quell the protests inspired by the revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt... The demonstrators are demanding a new constitution that would move the country toward democracy and limit the king's powers.

Bahrain is ruled by a royal family, who are blamed for discrimination against the country's Shia population -- comprising 70 percent of the population.

The Bahraini government has issued warnings about taking strict measures against pro-democracy protesters, amid the ongoing popular uprisings in the country... Witnesses say military forces have been deployed across Manama, as army has alerted people to avoid central areas of the city. On Thursday, at least four protesters were killed and about 230 others injured after Bahraini security forces stormed a protest camp in Pearl Square in downtown Manama and fired tear gas and rubber bullets at demonstrators. "Al Jazeera

The US is not a free agent here, with both interests and a military. But the might hand is not swayed against the people.

"Washington had for years backed most of the thuggish governments now under siege or anxious that they may be next in line to hear from their people. When it came to Egypt in particular, there was initially much polite (and hypocritical) discussion in the media about how our "interests" and our "values" were in conflict, about how far the U.S. should back off its support for the Mubarak regime... While negotiating madly behind the scenes to retain power and influence in Egypt, it is not likely to call the troops out of the barracks. American military intervention remains essentially inconceivable. Don’t wait for Washington to send paratroopers to the Suez Canal as those fading imperial powers France and England tried to do in 1956. It won’t happen. Washington is too drained by years of war and economic bad times for that."

The Student Insurgent stands in solidarity the movements across the world for self-determination!

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