Egyptian, Iraqi governmental anti-communism

This video from Egypt is called Protesters in Tahrir Square break into song.

By Tom Mellen in Britain:

Egypt‘s long-repressed Communist Party vowed today to “continue the struggle for justice and national dignity,” despite the junta’s decision to exclude it from its “dialogue” with other opposition parties. …

The party condemned “any attempt to exclude the Communists in any national dialogue,” and declared that it is now in the process of preparing to regain its rightful place in the country’s political process.

It also strongly condemned the Iraqi government‘s drive to shut down the headquarters of the Iraqi Communist Party, noting that this “threatens the future of political and democratic development in the occupied country.

“We call upon all Iraqi, Arab and world progressive and democratic forces to stand against this decision because history has taught us that the experiences of fascism and totalitarian repressive regimes begin with anti-communism and then move on to hostility to all democratic forces,” it said.

Reformists in the United Arab Emirates petitioned the chief sheikh today to allow the people to elect parliament. There are no official opposition groups in the country, which is a union of seven sheikdoms: here.

The world’s media is having trouble coping with the waves of demonstrations across North Africa and the Middle East.: here.

Egyptian feminists: Deep roots and diverse journeys to revolution: here.

Noam Chomsky: “On Feb. 20, Kamal Abbas, Egyptian union leader and prominent figure in the Jan. 25 movement, sent a message to the ‘workers of Wisconsin’: ‘We stand with you as you stood with us.’ Egyptian workers have long fought for fundamental rights denied by the U.S.-backed Hosni Mubarak regime. Kamal is right to invoke the solidarity that has long been the driving force of the labor movement worldwide, and to compare their struggles for labor rights and democracy”: here.

Dirk Adriaensens, Truthout: “While Anglo-Saxon universities are boasting of their so-called ‘glorious role’ in the reconstruction of Iraqi academia (See f.i. U of A helping create an education revolution in Iraq)(1), Iraq’s education is dying. From August 1990 onward, UN sanctions excluded Iraqi education from international scientific developments and banned import of essential educational material such as books and even … pencils. Many Iraqi professors and scientists left the country during that period”: here.

Katherine Hughes, Truthout: “February 26, 2011, marks the eighth anniversary of the imprisonment of Dr. Rafil Dhafir. Dhafir continues to pay the price for feeding the children of Iraq during the US- and UK-sponsored UN sanctions against that country. According to the United Nations’ own statistics, every month throughout the 1990’s, 6,000 children under the age of five in Iraq were dying from lack of food and access to simple medicines. Three senior UN officials resigned because of what they considered a ‘genocidal’ policy of sanctions against Iraq. Dhafir’s charity, Help the Needy (HTN), openly sent food and medicines to starving civilians in Iraq during the brutal embargo. Seven government agencies investigated Dhafir and HTN for many years. They intercepted his mail, email, faxes and telephone calls; bugged his office and hotel rooms; went through his trash; and conducted physical surveillance. They were unable to find any evidence of links to terrorism, and no charges of terrorism were ever brought against Dhafir”: here.

10 Reasons the Iraq War Was No Cakewalk: here.

Thousands stage rally in Bahrain: here.

Yemen urged to halt ‘deadly night raids’ and other attacks on protestors: here.

3 thoughts on “Egyptian, Iraqi governmental anti-communism

  1. Court dissolves Ben Ali’s party

    TUNISIA: A court formally dissolved the party of ousted president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali today, fulfilling a longstanding demand of democracy protesters.

    Activists have called for the dismantling of the RCD since Mr Ben Ali was driven from power on January 14 following weeks of militant protests that inspired uprisings across the Arab world.

    The RCD emerged out of Habib Bourguiba’s Destourian Socialist Party, which led the country to independence in 1956.



    Iraqis get the Tahrir spirit
    Last Friday’s day of rage shows Nouri al-Maliki is in danger of becoming the Mubarak of Baghdad
    o Sami Ramadani
    o The Guardian, Wednesday 2 March 2011

    “The regime’s tactics — which include the shooting of peaceful demonstrators — show that the post-occupation edifice built by the US is not much different from the assortment of American-backed dictatorships across north Africa and the Middle East.”

    As the walls of fear are being knocked down in one Arab country after another, the ugly concrete walls “of separation and intimidation” erected by the US-led forces in Iraqi cities have become a target of protesters. During last Friday’s “day of rage”, 29 people were killed by security forces. Another day of protest is planned for this Friday (4 March) “to honour the 29 martyrs”. The regime’s tactics — which include the shooting of peaceful demonstrators — show that the post-occupation edifice built by the US is not much different from the assortment of American-backed dictatorships across north Africa and the Middle East.

    It was George Bush who — referring to Syrian troops in Lebanon — declared that free and fair elections were not possible under occupation. Iraqis for once find themselves in agreement with him as they question the legitimacy of elections under occupation that produced a toothless parliament with no more power than Egypt’s under Mubarak.

    Like all regimes threatened by mass uprisings, Iraq is a police state that shows its true face once challenged by the people. And the more radical the challenge, the more violent the reaction. In Egypt and Tunisia hundreds were killed and thousands injured to bring about the downfall of Ben Ali and Mubarak. But the most radical demand — the regime’s overthrow — has yet to be tested.

    In Iraq a majority of Friday’s protesters wanted to “reform” rather than overthrow a “corrupt” regime. However, the lesson the regime appears to have drawn from the great uprisings sweeping the region is to anticipate and act to stop people, especially in Baghdad, from congregating in large numbers.

    Extraordinary measures were taken to prevent people converging on the capital’s Tahrir Square. All of Baghdad’s many bridges over the Tigris — linking the two halves of the city — were closed, all vehicles and bicycles banned. New concrete blast walls sealed off Jamahiriya bridge, which leads to the hated Green Zone. A city of over 6 million people had been turned into a massive site for police and army encampments and fortifications.

    Nouri al-Maliki, the prime minister, was clearly motivated by fear of the masses, declaring that although he was in favour of protecting the right to protest, he thought it best that in future people should gather only in Baghdad’s football stadium or al-Zowra’a park — rather than march for rallies in Tahrir Square. Presumably he was petrified by the thought that a great banner, similar to the one that adorned Cairo’s Tahrir square, would go up proclaiming: “The people want to overthrow the regime”.

    For its part, the world’s biggest US embassy — the power behind the throne — took the unprecedented step of broadcasting in Arabic, on state TV, a thinly veiled threat to protesters not to go too far in their demands. The US, it stressed, fully backed the “democratically elected” regime, while supporting the right to peaceful protest. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama must be pretty confused as to which dictatorship they should now abandon and which to prop up.

    Maliki has so far made four state-TV broadcasts. In the first two he urged people to stay at home, because “Ba’athists and al-Qaida terrorists” had infiltrated the protesters and were planning to kill them. In the third, he was visibly shaken, thanking the protesters and promising reform “within one hundred days”. Lastly, he implied the state would react violently and even torture journalists if they wanted to “overthrow” him and his regime, because he was “democratically elected”.

    His accusations that the protesters were “Ba’athists” was answered with the most popular chant of last Friday: “Nouri al-Maliki is a liar.” Other slogans asserted: “The people’s oil is for the people not for the thieves”; “We want dignity, jobs and services”; “No to terrorism, no to Saddam’s dictatorship, and no to the dictatorship of thieves”; “No to the occupation”; “We are not Ba’athists, repression is Ba’athist”; and an old favourite of many previous rallies, “Sunnis and Shia, this homeland we shall never sell”. In Iraqi Kurdistan, where at least six were killed, protesters demanded that Kurdish leaders Barzani and Talbani must follow Mubarak.

    The Iraqi struggle for “dignity and freedom” is even more difficult than that of Libya’s heroic people. It faces 50,000 US troops (plus tens of thousands of contracted mercenaries) and Iraqi forces numbering over 1.5 million. The indifference of the BBC and other media is conspicuous and hypocritical, particularly following the torture of four Iraqi journalists.

    However, inspired by the uprisings of Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Yemen and Bahrain, Iraqis have embarked on a new phase in their struggle.



    The ascent of the Palestinian pharaoh
    Abdaljawad Hamayel, The Electronic Intifada, 9 February 2011

    ‘This process of “double occupation” will eventually give rise to Palestinian fury. Those who have revolted endless times against the Israeli occupation, who have paid in blood and tears and who remain resolute, will not stand silent as they see their own leadership lead them to absolutism of tyranny.’

    Palestinians in the Dheisheh refugee camp in the occupied West Bank demonstrate in support of the Egyptian people, 6 February. (Luay Sababa/MaanImages)

    “They are marching to freedom, while we march to surrender.”

    These were my mother’s words as she reacted spontaneously, but intensely to the Egyptian and Tunisian revolutions and lamented over Palestinians’ self-inflicted wounds emanating from the Palestinian Authority and its numerous failures.

    Economic dependency and an oppressive security state is the recipe that many dictatorial, one-person, or one-party regimes apply across the region. This model was followed by the once American-supported, and then American-deposed Saddam Hussein, to Libya’s Muammar Qaddafi, who was first a pariah in the West and then became its darling, to Tunisia’s Zine El Abedine Ben Ali who was overthrown by his people, among others.

    And while the Egyptian people stand steadfast in an effort to overthrow their own Pharoah, a similar “pharoah regime” is steadily being built for Palestinians in the West Bank. It is not only surrender we are marching to, but we are marching — under PA tutelage — toward a typical one-party, pseudo-security state.

    “Pseudo” because it is not even a state — this entity exists under Israeli occupation. And the “security” is increasingly repressive towards dissenting voices, groups and political parties.

    Recently, the PA suppressed a march in solidarity with the Tunisian uprising and repeatedly questioned one of the organizers in an attempt to intimidate him and his colleagues into canceling a planned protest near the Egyptian diplomatic mission meant to show that Palestinians who are in constant struggle for their own freedom also support others who seek theirs (“Palestinian Authority Disrupts Egypt Solidarity Protest in Ramallah,” Human Rights Watch, 30 January 2011).

    On Saturday, 5 February, the PA, frustrated with an inability to confront a march by 2,000 Palestinians in Ramallah’s city center, waited until the crowd started to head home, to send in their own agents dressed as civilians in order to arrest and intimidate the remaining protesters, as was documented in a video shared on YouTube.

    The Egyptian model which is crumbling on the banks of the Nile is being applied to the occupied West Bank with the vehement support of the European Union, the United States, Israel and a segment of willing Palestinians. Most of the small Palestinian GDP comes directly from external aid provided by the aforementioned countries. And much of the touted “economic growth” of 8 percent in 2010 stems not from foreign direct investment or productive economic activities, but from this injection of aid, and rent-seeking economic behavior by elites.

    The public sector in the PA is the biggest and single largest contributor to GDP growth and to the over-inflated job creation. Some economic growth is generated by infrastructure projects, including controversial road networks, which many accused the PA of building in preparation for the annexation of huge parts of Jerusalem by Israel after the signing of an agreement along the lines recently disclosed in the Palestine Papers, detailed records of Israeli-PA negotiations leaked to Al Jazeera.

    An “economic package” recently proposed by Israel and Quartet envoy Tony Blair for the West Bank — which includes an extension of PA “security control” to seven towns, and provides more economic help to Palestinian-dominated areas in occupied East Jerusalem and villages surrounding it — is no more than a signal of appreciation for the work the PA has been conducting on behalf of Israel.

    Alongside the facade of “economic development” which in and of itself is a noble venture, if done appropriately, the PA has for the past five years been building an effective, efficient and ideological security apparatus. The ideology espoused by the security apparatus has nothing to do with Palestinian Basic Law as in any other rule-bound state, but has to do with personal and party loyalties to the PA president and his political line.

    This pseudo-security state is maintained and strengthened through the high salaries of those in the highest echelons of the varying security organizations, salaries that are funded through foreign aid.

    By providing them with financial comfort, those heading these organizations are economically, politically and socially dependent on the president and his entourage. This process is not limited to the highest echelons but trickles to the smallest intelligence informants who are given financial compensation for their work. This complex security network includes taxi drivers, so-called students, regular workers, coffee shop owners and others.

    Their role is simple, acting as an information stream, providing detailed data relating to the smallest personal details of regular Palestinian citizens in order to intimidate them, if they ever dare to move from the increasingly restrictive private sphere to an active political one. This oppressive and intrusive network is the “foreigners’ gift” to us — US General Keith Dayton along with the European Union Police Mission in the occupied Palestinian territories have rewarded Palestinian acquiescence by helping us build our “own” Palestinian Special Police Force and security forces, who are not educated in the limits of law or the respect of human rights and dignity.

    Instead, they know how to infiltrate and subdue big and small demonstrations, and are trained in the newest techniques of torture and they are more than ready to apply the axe of repression if commanded to do so.

    Haaretz reporter Amira Hass, who witnessed the suppression of the 5 February demonstration, writes “one could not help but notice the European, mainly French, scent that wafted from al-Manara Square in Ramallah where the Palestinian Authority once again suppressed a demonstration of support for the Egyptian people that evening.” What Hass notes is that the PA police forces that are now being used for political repression have been trained and funded by European Union countries, especially France (“Palestinian security suppressing West Bank fervor over Egypt protests,” 7 February 2011).

    Contrary to the PA president’s and his appointed prime minister’s claims that such forces are meant to provide security to the Palestinians themselves, the training of this police and the way they conduct their affairs, specifically after this month’s events, show that their sole and ultimate role is the preservation of an oppressive regime capable of protecting and dealing with Israel, with or without popular Palestinian approval.

    After all, Israeli anxiety over Egypt and the prospect of the erosion of the 1979 Egypt-Israel peace treaty as a result of the democratic revolution still taking place shows their vested interest in creating a Palestinian “pharaoh’s regime” here in Palestine. A pharaoh who agrees to the creation of a sub-state, completely dependent on Israel, lacking actual sovereignty. A pharaoh who is capable of giving up large parts of Jerusalem, abdicates the right of return and has in his hands a mix of a security, media and economic tools to willfully or forcibly impose such a deal on Palestinians in the West Bank and later Gaza, while excluding the majority of Palestinians who live in the diaspora.

    This process of “double occupation” will eventually give rise to Palestinian fury. Those who have revolted endless times against the Israeli occupation, who have paid in blood and tears and who remain resolute, will not stand silent as they see their own leadership lead them to absolutism of tyranny.

    Abdaljawad Hamayel is a Palestinian commentator completing his MA in the Johns Hopkins Schools of Advanced International Studies, Bologna Center.


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