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Posts Tagged ‘Arab people’

Syria rejects new Arab League plan to end crisis

Posted by Admin on January 24, 2012

http://news.yahoo.com/syria-rejects-arab-league-plan-end-crisis-070421433.html;_ylt=AnzTTNzI67qMmLNiaSP7YVas0NUE;_ylu=X3oDMTNsNHBjOTFnBG1pdANUb3BTdG9yeSBGUARwa2cDOGU4ZjIxNGItMGJhZS0zNzUyLThlOTItM2Y1MWY1ZmY0ZTA4BHBvcwM3BHNlYwN0b3Bfc3RvcnkEdmVyAzEyNzc1ZTQwLTQ1ZGMtMTFlMS1hOTVmLWM3ODg2MWQ3YTgyNg–;_ylg=X3oDMTFvdnRqYzJoBGludGwDdXMEbGFuZwNlbi11cwRwc3RhaWQDBHBzdGNhdANob21lBHB0A3NlY3Rpb25zBHRlc3QD;_ylv=3

By BASSEM MROUE and BEN HUBBARD | Associated Press – 27 mins ago

BEIRUT (AP) — Syria on Monday rejected the Arab League‘s wide-ranging new plan to end the country’s 10-month crisis, saying theLeague’s call for a national unity government in two months is a clear violation of Syrian sovereignty, as violence raged.

Tens of thousands of people poured into the streets in a suburb outside the capital, Damascus to mourn for 11 residents who were either shot dead by security forces or killed in clashes between army defectors and troops a day earlier, activists said.

An activist group said 23 people were killed in Syria on Monday.

The crowd in Douma — which one activist said was 60,000-strong — was under the protection of dozens of army defectors who are in control of the area after regime forces pulled out late Sunday, said Samer al-Omar, a Douma resident.

The reports could not be independently confirmed.

In Syria’s north, opposition figure Radwan Rabih Hamadi was killed in an ambush by unknown gunmen in the rebellious Jabal al-Zawiya mountain region, activists said. Hamadi, 46, was a prominent figure in the revolt against President Bashar Assad.

Assad blames the uprising that erupted in March on terrorists and armed gangs acting out a foreign conspiracy to destabilize the country. His regime has retaliated with a brutal crackdown that the U.N. says has killed more than 5,400 people.

There is growing urgency, however, to find a resolution to a crisis that is growing increasingly violent as regime opponents and army defectors who have switched sides have started to fight back againstgovernment forces.

The Arab League has tried to stem the bloodshed by condemning the crackdown, imposing sanctions and sending a team of observers to the country. On Sunday, the League called for a unity government within two months, which would then prepare for parliamentary and presidential elections to be held under Arab and international supervision.

The proposal also provides for Assad to give his vice president full powers to cooperate with the proposed government to enable it to carry out its duties during a transitional period.

The state-run news agency, SANA, said Damascus considers the plan “flagrant interference in its internal affairs” and the latest turn in an international plot against Syria.

It was not immediately clear what steps, if any, Syria could take to counter the Arab League’s stance.

The European Union backed the Arab plan Monday, and it extended existing sanctions against Assad’s government by adding 22 more officials and eight companies to the blacklist.

In New York, German U.N. Ambassador Peter Wittig called Monday on fellow Security Council members to endorse the Arab League’s new plan to end the violence in Syria, including formation of a national unity government.

“The decisions taken in Cairo may be a game-changer, also for the Security Council,” Wittig told a small group of reporters.

Omar Idlibi, a spokesman for the Syrian National Council opposition group, said the Arab efforts do not go far enough. He and many other opposition figures demand Assad leave power and say anything less will just give the regime time to bury the revolt.

But there are significant splits in the opposition about the way forward.

Hassan Abdul-Azim, who heads the National Coordination Body for Democratic Change in Syria, or NCB, said the Arab plan is an “advanced step as the Arab League has started dealing with matters more seriously.”

Abdul-Azim told The Associated Press that the plan would put more pressure on Assad’s regime and “tells it that it’s impossible to keep matters as they are.”

Syria appeared to get a serious boost Monday from its powerful allies in Russia. Russia’s business daily Kommersant reported that Moscow has signed a contract to sell 36 Yak-130 combat jets to Syria — a deal that, if confirmed, would openly defy international efforts to pressure Assad’s regime.

The Arab League’s observer mission has come under heavy criticism for failing to stop the violence in Syria.

On Monday, the head of the mission defended the observers’ work, saying their presence had cut down on the bloodshed. Speaking at League headquarters in Cairo, Sudanese Gen. Mohammed Ahmed al-Dabi told reporters the observers have witnessed violence from both the Syrian security forces and armed opposition groups.

“When the delegation arrived, there was clear and obvious violence,” he said. “But after the delegation arrived, the violence started to lessen gradually.”

On Sunday, Arab League foreign ministers extended the mission for another month. The mission’s one-month mandate technically expired on Thursday.

Violence continued inside Syria on Monday.

The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said troops and army defectors clashed Monday near the western town of Qusair, close to the Lebanese border. It said five soldiers were killed and 13 were wounded.

The Observatory added that 20 civilians were killed by security forces in different parts of Syria, nine of them in the northwestern province of Idlib that borders Turkey.

The LCC put Monday’s death toll at 23.

It was impossible to reconcile the discrepancy.

Syria has prevented most independent media coverage and until recently has refused to issue visas for most foreign journalists. In recent weeks, the regime has begun to permit entry for journalists on trips escorted by government minders.

___

Hubbard reported from Cairo. Anita Snow contributed reporting from the U.N.

___

Bassem Mroue can be reached on http://twitter.com/bmroue

 

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Nonviolent Revolution Clarified: Five Myths and Realities Behind Egypt’s Uprising

Posted by Admin on July 10, 2011

http://www.truth-out.org/nonviolent-revolution-clarified-five-myths-and-realities-behind-egypts-uprising/1310067482

by: Dr. Cynthia Boaz, Truthout | News Analysis
 

An Egyptian flag flies as thousands of protesters attend a mass demonstration in Tahrir Square, the focal point of the Egyptian uprising, in Cairo on July 8, 2011. (Photo: Moises Saman / The New York Times)

The fall of the regimes in Tunisia and Egypt has produced prolific analysis by media commentators across the spectrum. Some of this analysis has been excellent, but much of the conventional media interpretation of the why, how and what behind these events leaves much to be desired. There are a handful of misconceptions that have been parroted repeatedly in media coverage of the “Arab Spring.” These are important to recognize because the dynamics of how power is shifted matters enormously. In Gandhian language, means and ends are inseparable. That which is won through violence must be sustained through violence. That which is won through mass civil nonviolent action is more legitimate and more likely to be sustainable over the long term.

Additionally, how we understand and interpret the source of the power that emerged in Tunisia and Egypt last spring can go on to shape our long-term views about what is possible. If we consciously or unconsciously reinforce misconceptions or negative stereotypes about nonviolent action, we potentially undermine the morale of people engaged in ongoing struggles and, in the worst-case scenario, we can give credibility to the perspectives of the oppressors. What follows are the five most prevalent ways in which mainstream media has gotten the story wrong on the Egyptian uprising and the corresponding correction to each.

Misconception 1: It was spontaneous. Reality:  Although commentators still tend to talk about the Egyptian revolution as though no one could have predicted it, the key variable in the victory was planning. As we saw during the height of Mubarak‘s crackdown, the movement was able to keep the people of Egypt unified and, for the most part, nonviolently disciplined. Considering the lengths to which the regime went to try and provoke violence, it was quite remarkable how focused, creative and disciplined the activists remained. None of that would have been possible without several years of laying the groundwork. Egyptian activists worked for years to identify and neutralize the sources of power in the nation of 83 million. Their effort extended to making personal connections with the military forces and the commanders in particular. It’s a nuanced divide-and-conquer strategy. After building relationships with members of the regime’s pillars of support, the movement then helped them question the legitimacy of the ruler and the system they were upholding. When media analysts talk about an uprising like the one in Egypt as spontaneous, they are revealing their lack of understanding of the dynamics of nonviolent action and, simultaneously, are taking credit away from activists, who in many cases, have worked hard for years – often at great personal risk and sacrifice – to make this kind of victory possible. Regimes like Mubarak’s don’t fall when people just spontaneously show up in the city square. They only fall when movements are capable of exerting sustained pressure on them over a length of time. And that for that to happen, there must be unity, strategy, vision and, most importantly, planning, planning and more planning.

Misconception 2: It was a military coup. Reality: It was a people-power revolution. This misconception stems partly from the fact that, at the end of the day, much hinged on whose side the military took in the struggle. But instead of giving the people credit for winning the military to their side through effective campaigning and salient messaging, many media commentators erroneously regard the military’s defense of the people as a sign that it was they who were actually leading the uprising. But the loyalty demonstrated by the military to the people’s revolution should be interpreted as a sign of how well the movement did its job, not just of how powerful the military is in Egypt. The strategy was about unifying around a shared vision of Egyptian society. This misconception also is partly attributable to the fact that many of us cannot conceptualize power as taking any form other than a militaristic one. That perspective reflects adherence to outdated assumptions and frames about violence and power, namely the notion that those two concepts are interchangeable. Fortunately, the people of Egypt know better and they’ve given the rest of the world an example from which to build.

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Misconception 3: It was orchestrated by the United States, either by backroom deals or “training and support” of activists. Reality: This unfortunate misconception shows a gross lack of knowledge of how nonviolent action works. There is really only one condition essential for the success of nonviolent struggle and that without which a struggle can never succeed: it must be indigenous. To claim nonviolent protests of the scale we saw in Egypt last spring can be manufactured abroad is to grossly overestimate the influence of US agents and agencies. How could US agencies organize broad-based protests and manage to get hundreds of thousands of people to maintain nonviolent discipline while under violent assault from half a world away, while these same agencies were, for more than five decades, unable to remove octogenarian Fidel Castro from his perch only 90 miles from the US border and with a population eight times smaller than Egypt’s? To say that it was the United States that somehow orchestrated the events in Egypt is also to show contempt for what the people did, which is to take control of their own destiny. To question the Egyptian people’s authorship of their own struggle serves the interests of a brutal dictator and others like him, and it risks undermining global support for what was, both at its heart and its implementation, an indigenous people’s movement. This, by the way, is not to say that US agencies have taken no interest in or have made no attempts at influencing democracy struggles around the world. It is just to argue that, in the case of Egypt and other successful people-power revolutions, that offer of help was declined.

Misconception 4It was an Islamist uprising. Reality: Not only is this incorrect, but it flies directly in the face of claims made by the same analysts who say they’re interested in promoting genuine democracy. There were Muslims in the movement, yes. But there were also Christians, Jews, atheists, and many others. In order to test the credibility of this assertion, it is important to look at the proclaimed objectives of the movement: it was about more rights, more freedoms and more democracy. Contrast those objectives to the common stereotypes about Islam held in the West: that it is undemocratic, violent and oppressive. There is no way to reconcile those two things. Either Western analysts must concede that the Egyptian revolution was not Islamist or they must concede that Islam is not a violent, undemocratic religion. The ideal course of action would be to concede the former completely and the latter mostly. But short of that, it must be one or the other. A related argument is that we should be wary about the Egyptian victory because it will create space for the Muslim Brotherhood to assert more control in that society. There are several things to note about this claim, however: first, it has never been an acceptable argument against democracy to say that it should be limited because of the outcomes it might produce. Secondly, those who make this assertion might do well to ask themselves if they would accept Egyptians picking their leaders for them. If the answer is no, then they owe the same courtesy to the Egyptian people. And lastly, the Muslim Brotherhood (a group which itself is widely misunderstood in that it formally renounced violence as a means of change of decades ago) seems to have begun evolving along with the Egyptian people. As of last week, it formed a coalition with one of Egypt’s most liberal political parties in an attempt to broaden – and moderate – its base.

Misconception 5: It wasn’t nonviolent. Reality: It is unrealistic to imagine that a revolution of this scale and with a target as brutal as this regime can be totally nonviolent. But there is a distinction between saying there were a few violent outbursts by undisciplined individuals and that there was violence by the movement. This movement itself was strictly nonviolent and that is what is most relevant. In a country as large as Egypt, it is impossible to train every person individually in nonviolent strategy. And so, not understanding the necessity of nonviolent discipline, there were some incidents of rock throwing, clashes with police, vandalism and a few outbursts of individual rage. There was a militant flank in many historical nonviolent struggles – South Africa, Chile and the US civil rights movement, to name a few. In each case, as in Egypt, the presence of that contingent undoubtedly made the work of the movement both more difficult and more essential. Because of the potential for possible outbursts, the movement had to: a) distinguish itself from undisciplined radicals, b) make it clear that no violence would be tolerated and c) train new activists on the ground. Consider the lengths to which the regime went to provoke violence by the people in order to create the perceptions that what the movement was doing was not nonviolent and, therefore, not legitimate. It was critical that the movement girded against vulnerability to these kind of agents provocateurs and they did that extraordinarily well, especially considering the movement’s enormous size. At the end of the day, the Egyptian uprising was one of history’s most significant nonviolent struggles and that is how history will remember it.

It is important that events like the ones in Egypt are conveyed as accurately as possible by media for many reasons, but one of the most significant is that the victory of mass nonviolent action in Egypt has implications for terrorist organizations and the perceived efficacy of terrorism itself. As nonviolent methods to push grievances succeed, they de-legitimize violence as a means of promoting change. Nonviolent action offers a realistic alternative to both violence and the status quo and it is, simultaneously, a very powerful form of struggle. If we consider that terrorist organizations and members of movements tend to share the same recruitment bases – disaffected people demanding significant change – then the victory in Egypt has likely done serious damage to the PR campaigns of terrorist networks. Because of that, the people of Egypt should not only be lauded for taking back their freedom through almost entirely democratic means, but for making the world a little bit safer for everyone.

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DR. CYNTHIA BOAZ

Dr. Cynthia Boaz is assistant professor of political science at Sonoma State University, where her areas of expertise include quality of democracy, nonviolent struggle, civil resistance and political communication and media. She is also an affiliated scholar at the UNESCO Chair of Philosophy for Peace International Master in Peace, Conflict, and Development Studies at Universitat Jaume I in Castellon, Spain. Additionally, she is an analyst and consultant on nonviolent action, with special emphasis on the Iran and Burma cases. She is vice president of the Metta Center for Nonviolence and on the board of Project Censored and the Media Freedom Foundation. Dr. Boaz is also a contributing writer and adviser to Truthout.org and associate editor of Peace and Change Journal.

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