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9243MENA (Middle-East and North Africa) News: Gaddafi faces endgame as he bribes civilians to fight for him

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  • Zafar Khan
    Feb 27, 2011
      Gaddafi faces endgame as he bribes civilians to fight for him
      Protesters in Tripoli make Libyan leader's forces retreat, as rebels advance in other parts of the country
      By Kim Sengupta in Benghazi and Maryrose Fison and David Randall in London
      Sunday, 27 February 2011


      Bit by corrupted bit, the puffed-up vanity state of Muammar Gaddafi was beginning to fray at its very core last night. Protesters in a large working-class district of the capital, Tripoli, defied security forces, compelling them to retreat. As rebel advances threatened the last redoubt of the leader, he ordered weapons to be distributed to his civilian supporters. If that is not the act of a desperate man, it is a very convincing impersonation of it.

      A country policed and intimidated for more than four decades by a man unhinged by unchecked power now seems to be readying itself for the endgame of his regime and the uncharted territory of what might follow. This being Libya, there were conflicting signals yesterday – an army brass hat captured here, a counter-attack by Gaddafi forces there – but the oil region to the east is in rebel hands, as are important cities such as Zawiyah, just 30 miles west of Tripoli, and – unless he bolts for the deserts of the south with a praetorian guard – the stage is set in the capital for Gaddafi's last stand.

      UN slaps sanctions on Libyan regime


      Libya's revolution headquarters
      Benghazi, the de facto capital of the opposition, is where much of anti-Gaddafi actions are co-ordinated and executed.


      Bahrain Shia leader home from exile
      Hassan Mushaimaa of the opposition Haq movement arrives in capital Manama after receiving pardon from royal family.
      Last Modified: 26 Feb 2011 14:39 GMT


      Hassan Mushaimaa, a Bahraini Shia opposition leader who was being tried in absentia in an alleged coup plot, has arrived home from exile after receiving a royal pardon.

      London-based Mushaimaa flew to Manama, the capital, from Lebanon on Saturday.

      The prominent leader of the Shia Haq movement had said on his Facebook page on Monday that he would be trying to return to the Gulf Arab country after a week of unprecedented protests by majority Shia Muslims against the Sunni monarchy.

      Mushaimaa said he wanted to see if the island nation's leadership was serious about dialogue or not.

      He was stopped during a stopover in Beirut by Lebanese authorities, who said his name was on an international arrest warrant, and his passport was seized.

      Sheikh Khalid ibn Ahmad al-Khalifa, Bahrain's foreign minister, said on Thursday that Mushaimaa, who was among 25 people charged over an alleged coup plot and who was being tried in absentia, had been pardoned and would be allowed to return home to join a national dialogue.

      Leading Yemeni tribal figure says Saleh must go
      By Mohammed Ghobari
      SANAA | Sat Feb 26, 2011 2:32pm EST


      A prominent Yemeni tribal figure resigned from President Ali Abdullah Saleh's ruling party on Saturday and called for the veteran Arab leader's overthrow, a day after fierce clashes in Aden killed seven people.

      Hussein al-Ahmar announced his resignation at a rally of tens of thousands in the town of Amran, 30 miles northwest of the capital Sanaa, held to demand the end of Saleh's 32-year rule.

      Twenty-four people have been killed since February 17 in daily protests against Saleh across the impoverished Arab state, though unrest has been most intense in the once-independent south where many people resent rule from the north.

      "I announce my resignation from the General People's Congress ... and I call on all noble Yemenis to overthrow the regime," Ahmar told the rally, dubbed the Festival of Freedom and Change. "The regime must go, so we can build a nation based on (civil) institutions."

      Ahmar belongs to the same powerful tribal federation as Saleh and his father Abdullah, who died in 2007, was considered Yemen's second most powerful figure after the president.

      Hussein resigned once before from Saleh's party, two years ago, but rejoined in December and was offered a senior party post, which he declined. One of his brothers is a long-time critic of Saleh, while another is deputy speaker of parliament.

      Saleh, a U.S. ally against a Yemen-based al Qaeda wing that has launched attacks at home and abroad, is struggling to end protests flaring in the Arabian Peninsula's poorest state.

      Opposition to Saleh, who was previously confronting an on-off Shi'ite Muslim revolt in the north and a secessionist insurgency in the south, has now spread across the country, galvanised by successful uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia.

      Major Yemen tribes join protesters
      Powerful tribal leaders, including those of the Hashid and Baqil, pledge to join protesters against the government.


      Rebels lay siege to Gaddafi stronghold
      Desperate dictator tells faithful: 'We can crush any enemy'


      Egypt protesters dispersed by force
      Army uses batons to break up demonstrations in capital Cairo demanding purging of Mubarak loyalists from government.


      Toward Palestine's 'Mubarak moment'
      The Palestinian Authority should dissolve itself, as it is acting in Israel's interest, writer says.
      Ali Abunimah Last Modified: 24 Feb 2011 16:25 GMT


      The slow collapse of Palestinian collective leadership institutions in recent years has reached a crisis amid the ongoing Arab revolutions, the revelations in the Palestine Papers, and the absence of any credible peace process.

      The Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority (PA) controlled by Mahmoud Abbas and his Fatah faction has attempted to respond to this crisis by calling elections for the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) and the PA presidency.

      Abbas hopes that elections could restore legitimacy to his leadership. Hamas has rejected such elections in the absence of a reconciliation agreement ending the division that resulted from Fatah's refusal (along with Israel and the PA's western sponsors, especially the United States) to accept the result of the last election in 2006, which Hamas decisively won.

      But even if such an election were held in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, it does not resolve the crisis of collective leadership faced by the entire Palestinian people, some ten million distributed between those living in the occupied Gaza Strip and West Bank, inside Israel, and the worldwide diaspora.

      A house divided

      There are numerous reasons to oppose new PA elections, even if Hamas and Fatah were to sort out their differences. The experience since 2006 demonstrates that democracy, governance and normal politics are impossible under Israel's brutal military occupation.

      The Palestinian body politic was divided not into two broad political streams offering competing visions, as in other electoral democracies, but one stream that is aligned with, supported by and dependent on the occupation and its foreign sponsors, and another that remains committed, at least nominally, to resistance. These are contradictions that cannot be resolved through elections.

      The Ramallah PA under Abbas today functions as an arm of the Israeli occupation, while Hamas, its cadres jailed, tortured and repressed in the West Bank by Israel and Abbas' forces, is besieged in Gaza where it tries to govern. Meanwhile, Hamas has offered no coherent political vision to get Palestinians out of their impasse and its rule in Gaza has increasingly begun to resemble that of its Fatah counterparts in the West Bank.

      The PA was created by agreement between the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and Israel under the Oslo Accords. The September 13, 1993 "Declaration of Principles" signed by the parties states that:

      "The aim of the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations within the current Middle East peace process is, among other things, to establish a Palestinian Interim Self-Government Authority, the elected Council (the "Council"), for the Palestinian people in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, for a transitional period not exceeding five years, leading to a permanent settlement based on Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338."

      Under the agreement, PA elections would "constitute a significant interim preparatory step toward the realization of the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people and their just requirements".

      Gaddafi blames al-Qaeda for revolt
      Embattled Libyan leader says protesters being manipulated as pro- and anti-government forces clash across the country.
      Last Modified: 25 Feb 2011 12:30 GMT


      Friday protests grip Middle East
      Rallies for and against president held in Yemen while protesters vent anger after prayers in Jordan, Iraq and Bahrain.
      Last Modified: 25 Feb 2011 11:55 GMT


      Fawaz Gerges: Saudi probably won't fall, but if it does the world will change


      Robert Fisk with the first dispatch from Tripoli - a city in the shadow of death
      Gunfire in the suburbs – and hunger and rumour in the capital as thousands race for last tickets out of a city sinking into anarchy


      Gaddafi ordered Lockerbie bombing – ex-minister


      Heavy fighting in former stronghold as Gaddafi's forces stage counterattacks
      • Tripoli tense amid action to capital's west and east
      • Leaders of key tribes urged to join uprising


      Syria clamps down on dissent with beatings and arrests
      Nervous regime breaks up protests and sends intelligence agents round to warn civil rights activists against taking action
      Lauren Williams
      guardian.co.uk, Thursday 24 February 2011 19.14 GMT


      Tensions are mounting in the Syrian capital, Damascus, after the third peaceful demonstration in three weeks was violently dispersed on Wednesday. There are increasing reports of intimidation and blocking of communications by secret services in the wake of violent unrest in neighbouring Arab countries.

      Fourteen people were arrested and several people beaten by uniformed and plainclothes police on Tuesday after about 200 staged a peaceful sit-in outside the Libyan embassy to show support for Libya's protesters.

      Witnesses said at least two women were among those beaten.

      The demonstrators carried placards reading "Freedom for the people" and "Down with Gaddafi", and chanted slogans such as "Traitors are those that beat their people."

      Witnesses said authorities warned the group to disperse but they reconvened shortly afterwards in the central neighbouring suburb of Sha'alan. When they tried to march back to the embassy they were met with a heavy police presence.

      Several witnesses told the Guardian there were nearly twice as many secret and uniformed police as protesters. Some protesters were punched, kicked and beaten with sticks..

      All present had their identities recorded. Fourteen people were detained but later released, Human Rights Watch in Beirut confirmed.

      "They hit two girls, I saw them on the ground crying," said a witness who was briefly detained.

      "There were so many of them, we didn't know where they all came from."

      Under emergency law, public congregations are banned in Syria. This kind of protest is very rare but last Friday 1,500 people took part in a seemingly spontaneous demonstration outside the central Hamidiyah souq. It was reportedly in protest at the police beating of a local shop owner, rather than being directed at the government. People chanted "The Syrian people will not be humiliated", "Shame, shame" and "With our soul, with our blood, we sacrifice for you Bashar" in reference to the country's president, Bashar al-Assad. Syria's interior minister has promised an investigation.

      On 2 February Human Rights Watch reported a group of 20 people in civilian clothing had beaten and dispersed 15 people who had been holding a candlelight vigil in Bab Touma, Old Damascus, for Egyptian demonstrators. Police detained then later released Ghassan al-Najjar, an elderly leader of a small group called Islamic Democratic Current, after he issued public calls for Syrians in Aleppo to demonstrate for more freedom in their country.

      The increase in demonstrations has been matched with an apparent crackdown on communications and movement in the country, despite public pledges of media reform from Assad earlier this month and a much-publicised lifting of the ban on Facebook and other social networking services.

      Internet users who previously used international proxy servers to bypass local firewall restrictions now claim they no longer use Facebook anyway, fearing it is being closely monitored.

      Civil rights campaigners have told the Guardian that initimidation tactics have escalated to include visits from agents of the Mukhabarat – intelligence services – as well as close monitoring of internet and telephone conversations. Some activists have been warned not to leave the country.

      There are unconfirmed reports of a crackdown on foreign journalists working in Syria. At least two reporters have been denied entry to the country.

      "The situation is tense, they are clearly nervous," said one analyst, who refused to be named.

      "We didn't think it was possible here but maybe it could happen after all."

      Libya's 'crown prince' makes appeal
      Muhammad al-Senussi calls for the international community to help remove Muammar Gaddafi from power.


      Tunisia sees exodus from Libya
      People crossing the border from Libya are bringing with them stories of escalating violence.


      WikiLeaks cables: A guide to Gaddafi's 'famously fractious' family
      US embassy cables shed light on Gaddafi family – including son Saif al-Islam, who vowed in TV address to eradicate enemies
      Ian Black, Middle East editor
      guardian.co.uk, Monday 21 February 2011 19.06 GMT



      Saudi king announces new benefits
      King Abdullah announces $10.7 billion in pay raises, job creation and loan forgiveness schemes as he returns to country.
      Last Modified: 23 Feb 2011 11:29 GMT


      Algeria repeals emergency law
      Scrapping the draconian law to placate growing discontent had been a major demand made by the opposition parties.
      Last Modified: 23 Feb 2011 08:02 GMT


      Bahrain frees political prisoners
      At least 50 people released, including 23 Shia activists accused of a coup plot, in response to protesters' demands.
      Last Modified: 23 Feb 2011 09:51 GMT


      Is the West Bank next?
      If Israel refuses to accept a viable peace deal, the revolt sweeping the Arab world will arrive in Palestine.
      MJ Rosenberg Last Modified: 22 Feb 2011 21:41 GMT


      Moroccans march to seek change
      Demonstrators demand large-scale political and economic reforms in the North African kingdom.
      Last Modified: 20 Feb 2011 14:18 GMT


      Robert Fisk: Gaddafi raved and cursed, but he faces forces he cannot control


      Sins of the father, sins of the son
      While Gaddafi has relied on empty revolutionary slogans to maintain power, his son looks to oil money for his.


      Cruel. Vainglorious. Steeped in blood. And now, surely, after more than four decades of terror and oppression, on his way out?
      Robert Fisk on Muammar Gaddafi, tyrant of Tripoli


      Life in Libya: 'We're not living like humans'


      Palestinians plan 'day of rage' after US vetoes resolution on Israeli settlements
      US decision to use UN security council veto sparks furious reaction in West Bank and Gaza


      Robert Fisk in Manama: Bahrain – an uprising on the verge of revolution


      Arab and Middle East protests - as they happened
      Libya: At least 200 dead as protesters come under renewed fire
      Morocco: Thousands march in cities of Rabat and Casablanca
      Bahrain: Pearl Square takes on carnival feel as army pulls back
      Tunisia: Renewed clashes amid protests against interim government


      Robert Fisk: These are secular popular revolts – yet everyone is blaming religion
      Our writer, who was in Cairo as the revolution took hold in Egypt, reports from Bahrain on why Islam has little to do with what is going on

      Sunday, 20 February 2011


      Moroccan protesters demand limit on royal powers
      By Souhail Karam, Reuters
      Sunday, 20 February 2011


      At least 2,000 protesters gathered in a square in Morocco's capital on Sunday to demand that King Mohammed give up some of his powers and clamp down on government corruption.

      Some people in the crowd were waving Tunisian and Egyptian flags, a recognition of the popular uprisings there.

      Uniformed police kept their distance from the protest, in Rabat's Bab El Ahad area, though there were plain-clothes officers mingling in the crowd with notebooks.

      Analysts say Morocco, with a reformist monarch who is widely respected, and a growing economy, is one of the Arab countries least likely to succumb to the wave of protests sweeping the region.

      Slogans chanted at the protest included: "The people reject a constitution made for slaves!" and "The people want the autocracy down!"

      With heavy rain falling, people used plastic sheets as improvised raincoats.

      "This is a peaceful protest to push for constitutional reform, restore dignity and end graft and the plundering of public funds," said Mustapha Muchtati of the Baraka (Enough) group, which helped organise the protest.

      The protest was initiated by a group calling itself the February 20 Movement for Change, which has attracted 19,000 followers on the social networking website Facebook.

      On the eve of the protest, a Moroccan youth movement said it was pulling out because of disagreements with Islamists and leftists.

      Demonstrations were also planned for Morocco's other main cities, including Marrakesh, the top tourist destination.

      Morocco is officially a constitutional monarchy with an elected parliament. But the constitution empowers the king to dissolve the legislature, impose a state of emergency and have a key say in government appointments including the prime minister.

      Officials say Morocco's commitment to reform has never been as palpable as under King Mohammed who - as a member of the Alaouite dynasty that has been ruling Morocco for some 350 years and claims descent from the Prophet Mohammad - is considered sacred by the constitution.

      The call for the protest has been portrayed as a healthy sign by the authorities. The government has worked since the king came to the throne in 1999 to repair a bleak legacy of human rights abuses, poverty and illiteracy left after the 38-year rule of his father, King Hassan II.

      But Finance Minister Salaheddine Mezouar urged citizens to boycott the march, warning that any "slip may in the space of few weeks cost us what we have achieved over the last 10 years".

      Officials have voiced concern that Algeria and the Polisario Front, which wants independence for the disputed territory of Western Sahara, may use upheavals sweeping some Arab countries to stir unrest. Morocco annexed Western Sahara in 1975.