As the noose tightens on Gaddafi, the dictator has resorted to unparalleled levels of violence. With massive defections in the ranks of the civilian and military authority, Gaddafi's Jamahiriyya has all but crumbled around Tripoli. Still in charge from Bab al-'Aziziyya, the megalomaniac is as unpredictable as Nero or Caligula were. In his speech yesterday from the Green Square, Gaddafi called on his supporters to go out: "sing, dance and get ready." This is not a man who will go down without a fight. It is clear that his sons are also behind the arrogant and murderous defiance of the regime. In an interview with CNN Turk, Seif al-Islam Gaddafi pledged that the Gaddafi clan has three plans and each one of them involve living and dying in Libya. Seif has also dismissed any reports of thousands of causalities, and foreign mercenaries roaming the streets of Tripoli and neighboring cities randomly killing innocent Libyans.
Sunday, February 27, 2011
Saturday, February 19, 2011
The reverberations of the Tunisian and Egyptian revolts, which toppled two of the longest-ruling Arab dictators, continue to be felt throughout the Middle East. In Yemen, Iran, Bahrain and Libya, demonstrations are calling for political and economic reforms. Bahraini protesters have been brutally suppressed by security forces, killing two protesters, and even firing on funeral processions in the first two days of the protests. In Libya and with a complete media blackout, the police has been clashing with protesters for days and reportedly using foreign mercenaries to repress the rioters killing a reported 80 people in three days (The footage here is from Benghazi).
First of all, the nature and style of government in Morocco is different that in the Arab republican states, where political legitimacy is lacking. The Moroccan monarchy is largely popular and entrenched in the socio-cultural foundations of the country., so much so that in Morocco we can actually talk about two layers of political authority that help set the monarchy as regime and political order above the political fray, and one that is capable of deflecting all criticism towards the state government led by the prime minister. This is not surprising then that the small protests we’ve seen so far in Morocco, notably in Fes, Tangier have largely been demanding for the king to sack his government and away from any calls of regime change.
Another factor is that maybe M6’s early reforms proved key in deflecting some of the anger we see in the Arab world today. As he established one of the first truth and reconciliation commission to investigate the atrocities of years of lead and compensate victims of those years of state violence. The king also to introduce some small scale political reforms inviting vast array of political parties to partake in relatively open elections, and empowering a relatively viable civil society, which brought about significant policy changes to some social issues: women issues and Amazigh. However, there have been recent setbacks especially in the spaces allotted to the press, with the incarceration and economic asphyxiation of major independent newspapers and magazines. This is where the challenge for the country lies ahead. Allowing a modicum for freedom of expression outside state intimidation, retaliation and undergoing constitutional changes to reduce the scope of political powers of the monarchy.
Wednesday, February 9, 2011
Algerian university students have already launched a general and indefinite strike ahead of the planned February 12 protests. It is difficult to prognosticate with great deal of accuracy about where the Algerian protests will go and it seems more and more analysts are cautions not to fall in the trap of over-generalization, expecting a domino-effect of sorts in the Arab world. Andrew Lebovich's excellent piece in today Middle East Channel on Foreign Policy predicts small-scale protests, but nothing à la Tunisian/Egyptian scenarios.
Wednesday, February 2, 2011
The Arab world is undergoing a remarkable winter uprising. Unlike, the social revolutions of yesteryear, which were framed in the context of radical ideologies against a socio-economic elite, the revolts in the Arab street lack a clear ideological foundation and are spontaneous uprisings against the excesses of the state, lack of good governance, rule of law and accountability. The common denominator between Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, Algeria and Jordan is the inability of their regimes to promulgate real meaningful political and economic reforms. Politically, Arab authoritarian states feature the same menu of political manipulation featuring electoral engineering, limited space for opposition politics, and violations of individual civil liberties.