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Additional sources of Middle East coverage

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  • John Therrien Dale, Jr.
    Dear Friends,   Current events in the Middle East are an example of what we could call the butterfly effect and miraculous emergence.     However, US
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 5, 2011
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    Dear Friends,
    Current events in the Middle East are an example of what we could call the "butterfly effect" and "miraculous emergence." 
    However, US media coverage is tracking only part of what is going on and is focused almost exclusively on Egypt.  Attached, therefore is a small list of aditional sources of news that will help us expand coverage to other countries.
    Below is what I have written in my entry for December 17 in my book Launching Dates for the Voyage to Earth Community.

    December 17:             The Sidi Bouzid Revolt and the Tunisian Intifada.  On this day in 2010, Tarek al-Tayyib Muhammad ibn Bouazizi (Mohamed Bouazizi), a jobless, 26-year-old Tunisian and sole provider for an extended family of eight, changes history.  Like the proverbial butterfly of chaos theory whose wing-beats, in a domino effect, trigger a hurricane, he inadvertently, through his own self-immolation, sets in motion a firestorm of political protest, regime change, and social and economic reform throughout the dictator-ruled countries of the Middle East.  He has a university degree, but, living in a country with an urban jobless rate of at least 14 percent and much higher in rural areas and among youth, he has been reduced for seven years to selling fruits and vegetables to try to earn a living.  When a policewoman in the central town of Sidi Bouzid confiscates his cart because he was selling without a permit, slaps him, spits in his face, and insults his dead father, and when municipal authorities refuse an audience, in desperation and rage he sets himself on fire at the municipal headquarters.  He dies on January 4, 2011 in a hospital near Tunis. 

                                        His act and the over-reactive behavior of officials touch off protests in the town of Sidi Bouzid on December 18, and then, in subsequent days, the entire country, which is one of the most tightly controlled in the Arab world and whose government has been supported by France and the United States.  Tunisians, including labor groups and lawyers, protest against rising food prices, unemployment, and corruption.  News of the original incidents and of subsequent riots spreads via Facebook and other social media not only across Tunisia but around the Arab world.  Tunisians call for Zein al Abidine ben Ali, the president who has ruled for 23 years, to depart.  The government-controlled media says that people are taking things out of context and using them for “unhealthy political ends.”  The Tunisian authorities also allegedly carry out phishing operations to take control of user passwords and check online criticism.  Protests continue.  Then, Ben Ali fires the government, calls for early elections, and states he will not run for re-election.  Protests continue.  Then, on January 14, he flees the country to Saudi Arabia and officially resigns the next day.  Protests continue, calling for the abolition of the Constitutional Democratic Rally (RDC), the former president’s ruling political party.  On January 20, the new government announces that all banned political parties will be legalized and that all political prisoners will be released.  On January 27, Prime Minister Mohamed Ghannouchi reshuffles the government, removing all former RCD members other than himself.  Throughout, the Army has announced that it would support the revolution.  On February 3, 2011, all 24 regional governors were replaced.  “Hacktivists” retaliated against the government’s efforts to control the Internet by hacking government websites, introducing the element of cyber warfare.  For further information, see, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2010%E2%80%932011_Tunisian_protests and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mohamed_Bouazizi.  

                                        Protests, riots, and political changes have also spread to Egypt, Yemen, Algeria, and Jordan, with lesser incidents occurring in Mauritania, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Sudan, Syria, Libya, and Morocco.  Yemen’s president of 32 years has stated that he will not run for re-election.  Jordan’s prime minister has been fired.  In various Arab governments, cabinet members are being replaced, and leaders are being forced into reforms.  See, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2010%E2%80%932011_Arab_world_protests.

                                        Egypt.  On January 25, protests erupt in Egypt, the most militarily powerful country in the Middle East, calling for the departure of President Hosni Mubarak, who has ruled dictatorially for 30 years and whose corrupt regime is the recipient of the second-highest amount of foreign aid given by the United States, topped only by Israel.  In early February, Mubarak replaces his cabinet and appoints a vice-president, Omar Suleiman, who is the U.S.-trained point man for the CIA and for Egypt’s secret “extreme rendition” program.  Later, 82 years old, Mubarak, who had been grooming his son Gamal to replace him, claims he will not run for another term as president, nor will his son run in his place.  The Egyptian people are not deterred, and peaceful protests continue.  On February 2 and 3, violence breaks out between peaceful protesters and disrupters hired by the government.  The internet is shut down.  Foreign reporters are attacked and threatened with death.  Some significant people in the government-run Egyptian media resign in protest over being forced to broadcast government propaganda.  The Army plays a mediating role and states it will refuse to fire upon the peaceful protesters.  On Friday, February 4, 2011, a “million-man march” occurs in Liberation Square in Cairo, calling for a “Day of Departure.”  Mubarak refuses to leave, stating he will resign only at the end of his term in September. 

                                        In the U.S., the Obama administration tries to walk a very fine line between statements in support of the democratic demands and human rights of the Egyptian people and the fact that the Mubarak dictatorship has been the U.S.’s closest Arab ally.  Obama does not call outright for Mubarak’s departure.  The violence, however, helps swing the U.S. administration and the European Union against Mubarak.  U.S. right-wing fear-mongers and lunatics like Glen Beck say that the end of the world is nigh and that Egypt’s banned Muslim Brotherhood will try to infiltrate and then overthrow any new Egyptian government in their efforts to establish a new global Muslim Caliphate.  Arizona Senator John McCain calls the Middle East protests a “virus.”  Other right-wing Republicans are caught between their support of democracy in the Middle East and their support for Israel, which strongly supports Mubarak for having kept the peace and thus, as Noam Chomsky points out, for having allowed Israel to strike at the Palestinians and at Lebanon with impunity. 

    John Dale
    John Therrien Dale, Jr.
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    "The United Nations is the flagship of the Ark Fleet. We must repair the UN flagship, fix its leaks, modernize and refuel its engines, get everybody on board, and, together, speed toward the safe harbor of Earth Community."

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