Tag Archive: Tunisia

Sep 15 2012

Time to Reevaluate Middle East Policy

The attacks on US and Western embassies expanded today to nearly 20 countries in the Middle East, North Africa, and some Muslim countries in South East Asia. Angered over a irreverent You Tube video that insulted the founder of Islam, the Prophet Mohammed, angry protesters stormed American, Germany and British embassies and consulates.

At least two protesters are dead and several dozen injured when protesters stormed the US embassy in Tunis, Tunisia:

Several dozen protesters briefly stormed the U.S. Embassy compound in Tunisia’s capital, tearing down the American flag and raising a flag with the Muslim profession of faith on it as part of the protests. Protesters also set fire to an American school adjacent to the embassy compound and prevented firefighters from approaching it. The school appeared to be empty and no injuries were reported.

Earlier, several thousand demonstrators had gathered outside the U.S. Embassy, including stone-throwing protesters who clashed with police, according to an Associated Press reporter on the scene. Police responded with gunshots and tear gas. Police and protesters held running battles in the streets of Tunis. Amid the unrest, youths set fire to cars in the embassy parking lot and pillaged businesses nearby.

The state news agency TAP, citing the health ministry, said both of those killed were demonstrators, while the injured included protesters and police.

In Sudan, the German and British embassies were targeted along with the American embassy in Khartoum:

Police in the Sudanese capital fired tear gas to try to disperse 5,000 protesters who had ringed the German embassy and nearby British mission. A Reuters witness said police stood by as a crowd forced its way into Germany’s mission.

Demonstrators hoisted a black Islamic flag saying in white letters “there is no God but God and Mohammed is his prophet”. They smashed windows, cameras and furniture in the building and then started a fire.

Staff at Germany’s embassy were safe “for the moment”, Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said in Berlin. He also told Khartoum’s envoy to Berlin that Sudan must protect diplomatic missions on its soil.

Witnesses said police fired tear gas at thousands of protesters to stop them approaching the U.S. embassy outside Khartoum.

In the Yemen capital of Sanaa, four protesters have been killed in demonstrations and a US Marine contingent, similar to ones being sent to Egypt and Libya, has been dispatched:

Twenty-four security force members were reported injured, as were 11 protesters, according to Yemen’s Defense Ministry, security officials and eyewitnesses.

Protesters and witnesses said one protester was critically injured when police fired on them as they tried to disperse the angry crowd.

The protests in Sanaa are the latest to roil the Middle East over the online release of the film produced in the United States.

As evening came, the number of protesters dwindled and tensions began to ease, after a day in which demonstrators breached a security wall and stormed the embassy amid escalating anti-American sentiment.

No embassy personnel were harmed, U.S. officials said.

Reports that the attack in Benghazi, Libya may not have been related to the protests over the anti-Islamic video:

BENGHAZI, Libya – A Libyan security guard who said he was at the U.S. consulate here when it was attacked Tuesday night has provided new evidence that the assault on the compound that left four Americans dead, including the U.S. ambassador to Libya, was a planned attack by armed Islamists and not the outgrowth of a protest over an online video that mocks Islam and its founder, the Prophet Muhammad.

The guard, interviewed Thursday in the hospital where he is being treated for five shrapnel wounds in one leg and two bullet wounds in the other, said that the consulate area was quiet – “there wasn’t a single ant outside,” he said – until about 9:35 p.m., when as many as 125 armed men descended on the compound from all directions.

The men lobbed grenades into the compound, wounding the guard and knocking him to the ground, then stormed through the facility’s main gate, shouting “God is great” and moving to one of the many villas that make up the consulate compound. He said there had been no warning that an attack was imminent.

“Wouldn’t you expect if there were protesters outside that the Americans would leave?” the guard said.

h/t to David Dayen at FDL News Desk

Meanwhile, oil prices which climbed after the Federal Reserve announced it’s stimulus plan, rose even more due to the instability in the region.

There is obviously something radically wrong with American and Western foreign policy towards the Middle East. President Obama’s policies in the region are no different that past presidents over the last 100 years. The US has lost much of its stature in the region with it heavy handed reliance on military force to resolve problems in the Middle and Near East since September 11 and expansion of it drone attacks on alleged terrorist targets. The US needs to completely reassess these policies and take into consideration the culture and economic needs of the region.

Dec 14 2011

Times Person of the Year: It Is Us, The Protesters

It started with a 26 year old Tunisian street vendor who set himself on fire sparking protests that over threw the government. The protest has spread to Egypt, Yemen, Jordan, Libya, Syria, Israel, Greece, Wisconsin, Ohio, New York City and across the United States to Chicago, Houston, Oakland, Portland, and Los Angeles. Russians have taken to the streets in the largest protests since the overthrow of the Soviet Union that may end the career of Vladimir Putin. It has been a year of protests that have changed the world. And we aren’t done.

Now Time magazine has named me, you, all of us, the Protester, the Person of the Year.

History often emerges only in retrospect. Events become significant only when looked back on. No one could have known that when a Tunisian fruit vendor set himself on fire in a public square in a town barely on a map, he would spark protests that would bring down dictators in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya and rattle regimes in Syria, Yemen and Bahrain. Or that that spirit of dissent would spur Mexicans to rise up against the terror of drug cartels, Greeks to march against unaccountable leaders, Americans to occupy public spaces to protest income inequality, and Russians to marshal themselves against a corrupt autocracy.Protests have now occurred in countries whose populations total at least 3 billion people, and the word protest has appeared in newspapers and online exponentially more this past year than at any other time in history.

Is there a global tipping point for frustration? Everywhere, it seems, people said they’d had enough. They dissented; they demanded; they did not despair, even when the answers came back in a cloud of tear gas or a hail of bullets. They literally embodied the idea that individual action can bring collective, colossal change. And although it was understood differently in different places, the idea of democracy was present in every gathering. The root of the word democracy is demos, “the people,” and the meaning of democracy is “the people rule.” And they did, if not at the ballot box, then in the streets. America is a nation conceived in protest, and protest is in some ways the source code for democracy – and evidence of the lack of it.

We will take to the streets and the ballot boxes and back to the streets until we have won the “war” against the oligarchs, the banks and the billionaires.  

Feb 08 2011

Reporting the Revolution: Day 15 Up Date: 1900hrs EST

This is a Live Blog and will be updated as the news is available. You can follow the latest reports from AL Jazeera English and Al-Masry Al-Youm: English Edition

class=”BrightcoveExperience”>The Guardian has a Live Blog from their reporters in Egypt that refreshes automatically every minute.

Al Jazeera has a Live Blog for Feb 8

As you can see we now have the live feed from Al Jazeera English.

It was a joyous day in the Tahrir Square with the news of the release of Google executive, Wael Ghoneim, Middle East marketing manager for Google, who was arrested on January 27 by police. Ghoneim oversaw the “Arabization” of Google’s on-line services and has participated in several projects aimed at supporting Arabic Internet content. His disappearance became a cause célèbre as Google and Human Rights organizations demanded that the Egyptian government disclose his location. Sunday the newly appointed Prime Minister, Ahmed Shafik, announced that Ghoneim would be released.

Life did start to return to some normalcy as banks and shops re-opened and once again the usual traffic jams clogged the streets. Tourism continues to suffer and tanks continue to guard government buildings, embassies and other important institutions in the capital.

On sadder note, a symbolic funeral procession was held for journalist, Ahmed Mahmoud, who was shot as he filmed the clashes between protesters and riot police from his Cairo office. The UN also reported that nearly 300 people have been killed since the unrest started on January 25th and thousands more injured.

The stand off between the Mubarak regime and the protesters demanding he leave office goes into its fifteenth day with mass demonstrations planned in Cairo.

Up Date: 1900hrs EST Bless these people. They are tenacious and will not stand down. They are not ready to make nice with the Mubarak regime.

11:31pm GMT

Here’s a brief video clip from al-Jazeera of the protesters now occupying the front of Egypt’s parliament building this evening.

Meanwhile, Tahrir Square appears to be covered in tents as a village springs up.

Protests swell at Tahrir Square

Tens of thousands pour into central Cairo seeking president Mubarak’s ouster, despite a slew of government concessions.

Thousands of pro-democracy demonstrators have poured into Cairo’s Tahrir (Liberation) Square as protests against Hosni Mubarak, the Egyptian president, entered their 15th day despite a slew of concessions announced by the government.

Tens of thousands of protesters have also come out on the streets in Alexandria, Egypt’s second largest city.

There were also reports of a protest outside the parliament building in the capital. Witnesses said protesters had pitched a tent in front of the building and are likely to stay there.

According to Hoda Abdel-Hamid, Al Jazeera’s correspondent in the Egyptian capital, the crowd at Tahrir Square grew rapidly on Tuesday afternoon, with many first-timers joining protesters seeking Mubarak’s immediate ouster.

Freed cyber activist lauds protests

Google executive Wael Ghonim speaks after release from Egyptian custody, sparking outpouring of support from protesters.

Egyptian anti-government protesters have welcomed the release of a Google executive who disappeared in Cairo last month after playing a key role in helping demonstrators organise.

Wael Ghonim was released on Monday by Egyptian authorities, sparking a fast and explosive response from supporters, bloggers and pro-democracy activists on the internet.

Ghonim’s release came nearly two weeks after he was reported missing on January 28 during protests against Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak.

“Freedom is a bless[ing] that deserves fighting for it,” Ghonim, Google’s head of marketing for the Middle East and North Africa, wrote in a message posted on his Twitter account shortly after his release.

Wael Ghonim anointed voice of the revolution by Tahrir Square faithful

Google executive behind protest-supporting Facebook page cheered by crowds in Cairo after being released by police

Egyptians renew appeal for Mubarak to resign now on biggest day of protest

Hundreds of thousands of protesters pack Tahrir Square in Cairo and reject concessions on transfer of power in September

10:45pm GMT

In the most disturbing development in days, during a private meeting today vice president Omar Suleiman warned of a coup “to protect Egypt” – the Associated Press has a piece reporting further details of Suleiman’s hostile comments:

   Vice President Omar Suleiman warned Tuesday that “we can’t put up with” continued protests in Tahrir for a long time, saying the crisis must be ended as soon as possible in a sharply worded sign of increasing regime impatience with 16 days of mass demonstrations.

   Suleiman said there will be “no ending of the regime” and no immediate departure for President Hosni Mubarak, according to the state news agency MENA, reporting on a meeting between the vice president and the heads of state and independent newspapers.

   He told them the regime wants dialogue to resolve protesters’ demands for democratic reform, adding in a veiled warning, “We don’t want to deal with Egyptian society with police tools.”

   At one point in the roundtable meeting, Suleiman warned that the alternative to dialogue “is that a coup happens, which would mean uncalculated and hasty steps, including lots of irrationalities. We don’t want to reach that point, to protect Egypt.”

   Pressed by the editors to explain the comment, he said he did not mean a military coup but that “a force that is unprepared for rule” could overturn state institutions, said Amr Khafagi, editor-in-chief of the privately-owned Shorouk daily, who attended the briefing. “He doesn’t mean it in the classical way.”

   “The presence of the protesters in Tahrir Square and some satellite stations insulting Egypt and belittling it makes citizens hesitant to go to work,” he said. We can’t put up with this for a long time, and this crisis must be ended as soon as possible.

   He warned that calls by some protesters for a campaign of civil disobedience are “very dangerous for society and we can’t put up with this at all.”

The comments sound like a worrying development after the calm of recent days. This may be Suleiman’s private face: no surrender. I bet he didn’t mention any of that in his phone chat with Joe Biden earlier today.

Syria to set Facebook status to unbanned in gesture to people

President Bashar al-Assad promises elections and press freedom after seeing groundswell of protest across Arab world

Sounds like someone is getting nervous.

France’s prime minister spent family Christmas break as guest of Mubarak

Admission from François Fillon comes as French ministers’ links with unpopular Middle East regimes come under scrutiny

Another Sarkozy lackie

Feb 06 2011

TWiEC: Winds of Change in the Middle East – as Seen By Foreign and American Editorial Cartoonists

Crossposted at Daily Kos and Docudharma



Walk Like an Egyptian by Dwayne Booth, Mr. Fish, Buy this cartoon  

It’s spontaneous, yes, triggered by the explosion in Tunisia.  But contrary to some media reports, which have portrayed the upsurge in Egypt as a leaderless rebellion, a fairly well organized movement is emerging to take charge, comprising students, labor activists, lawyers, a network of intellectuals, Egypt’s Islamists, a handful of political parties and miscellaneous advocates for “change.”  And it’s possible, but not at all certain, that the nominal leadership of the revolution could fall to Mohammad ElBaradei.

— ‘Who’s Behind Egypt’s Revolt?’ by Robert Dreyfuss, The Nation

Feb 01 2011

The Week in Editorial Cartoons – Comedy Central Presents… Michele Bachmann

Crossposted at Daily Kos and Docudharma

Clay Bennett

Clay Bennett, Comics.com, see the large number of reader comments in the Chattanooga Times Free Press

:: ::

Trying to watch her taped response is worse than annoying, and the woman makes up her own facts as she goes, which has come to define her.

In short, if this is the best that the Tea Pot party has to offer, then there’s really nothing to see or hear that has not been offered time and again.  I really don’t care for parrots.

Michele Bachmann is also defined by her presumptive beliefs, obtained God only knows where.

 

Jan 31 2011

Reporting the Revolution: An Interview with Mohamed ElBaradei with Up Dates: 1500 hrs EST

This is a Live Blog and will be updated as the news is available. You can follow the latest reports from AL Jazeera English and though Mishima’s live blog, our news editor.

The Guardian has a Live Blog that refreshes automatically every minute.

FireDogLake now has a direct link to all their coverage

This is the seventh day of protests in Egypt against the repressive Mubarak government. The police have returned to the streets after having been absent for three days leaving only a military presence that did little to stop the protesters.

Excellent interview from Fareed Zakaria GPS. Fareed’s entire program on CNN was devoted to the situation in Egypt.

(I will post the transcript as soon as it is available)

Up Date #1: It’s now early morning in Egypt. Al Jazeera’s live blog reports that many protesters slept in the streets and in Tahrir Square, some shared their food with the soldiers.

This first hand account by Sharif Kouddous, a journalist and senior producer with Democracy Now! who lives in Egypt, was posted at The Nation and Democracy Now!:

Live From Egypt: The Rebellion Grows Stronger

January 30, Cairo, Egypt-In the second day of defiance of a military curfew, more than 150,000 protesters packed into Tahrir Square Sunday to call on President Hosni Mubarak to step down. The mood was celebratory and victorious. For most, it was not a question of if, but when, Mubarak would leave.

Military tanks have been stationed at entrance points around the square with soldiers forming barricades across streets and alleyways. In another departure from ordinary Cairo life, people quickly formed orderly queues to get through the army checkpoints. Soldiers frisked people and checked their identification cards. One soldier said they were making sure no one with police or state security credentials could enter.

Reports are widespread that many of the looters in Cairo are, in fact, remnants of the police and state security forces that were forced into a full retreat during Friday’s mass street revolt. In addition, hundreds, perhaps thousands, of prisoners were released from prisons in Fayyoum and Tora. Many believe it’s all part of an organized campaign by the regime to create lawlessness in the city in a last gasp attempt to maintain its grip on power. The headline of Al-Masry Al-Youm today blared: “Conspiracy by Interior Ministry to Foment Chaos.”

Just when you need a laugh category: Somebody at Fox News failed Geography.

Photobucket

Jan 30 2011

Reporting the Revolution: Protests in Egypt, Day 3, Up Date x 5

This is a Live Blog and will be updated as the news is available. You can follow the latest reports from AL Jazeera English and though Mishima’s live blog, our news editor.

The Guardian has a Live Blog that refreshes automatically every minute

This is actually the sixth day of protests in Egypt against the repressive, brutal regime of President Hosni Mubarak. As Mubarak struggles to maintain control, the Egyptian army is doing little to stop the protesters who have defied curfews to demonstrated against Mubarak’s 30 year rule. The appointment of former intelligence chief, Omar Suleiman, as his vice president and Ahmed Shafik, another general and Mubarak insider, prime minister, have only fueled the protesters’ fervor for Mubarak’s ouster. Nobel Peace Prize winner, Mohamed ElBaradei returned to Egypt on Thursday and has called for Mubarak to step down. He has also plead with the demonstrators and the army to use restraint and avoid violence.

The Guardian reports that Al Jazeera’s Cairo office has been shut down by the Mubarak regime. It’s license’s revoked early this morning:

“The information minister ordered … suspension of operations of al-Jazeera, cancelling of its licences and withdrawing accreditation to all its staff as of today,” a statement said.

Al Jazeera has released this statement:

Al-Jazeera sees this as an act designed to stifle and repress the freedom of reporting by the network and its journalists. In this time of deep turmoil and unrest in Egyptian society it is imperative that voices from all sides be heard; the closing of our bureau by the Egyptian government is aimed at censoring and silencing the voices of the Egyptian people…

Al Jazeera Network is appalled at this latest attack by the Egyptian regime to strike at its freedom to report independently on the unprecedented events in Egypt

You can still follow Al Jazeera’s reports here and through Twitter. This is a list of their reporters that can be followed on Twitter. For now Evan Hill reports:

Yes, Al Jazeera is still broadcasting live despite apparent shutdown order. No one knows who would enforce it.

The team is working on a plan if the shutdown does occur. For obvious reasons, won’t be tweeting the details here

The Stars Hollow Gazette will be following this list.

President Obama has refrained calling for Mubarak to step down but has called for him to institute real reforms and not just shuffle the players.

This morning reports coming from the Guardian‘s live up dates are saying that the military will take harder line against the protesters but doubt they will carry it out. Even though the military is patrolling the streets, they are doing little to stop the looting. Due to the absence of the security police, residents are trying to maintain order and protect themselves and their property.

Already today there are several thousand protesters are in Tahrir square, chanting they will not leave until Mubarak quits and in the center of Alexandria chanting: “Down, Down, Hosni Mubarak”. Some also shouted slogans in support of the army and shook hands with soldiers.

From Reuters this morning:

• Thousands of protesters have gathered in Ishmalia, east of Cairo. Police have fired teargas and rubber bullets at the crowds.

• Dozens have gathered in the central areas of Suez chanting: “Down, Down, Hosni Mubarak”. About 100 people gathered outside the morgue in the city, saying it was holding the bodies of 12 protesters.

• Thousands have taken to the streets in the Nile Delta city of Damanhour, chanting anti-government slogans and calling on Mubarak to quit.

This is going to be a long day.

Up Dates are below the fold.

Jan 29 2011

Reporting the Revolution: Protests in Egypt, Day 2, Up Date x 4

This is a Live Blog and will be updated as the news is available. You can follow the latest reports from AL Jazeera English and though Mishima’s live blog, our news editor.

A second day of protests have taken to the streets across Egypt and conditions have deteriorated considerably. Protests, dissatisfied with a reshuffling of the “deck chairs”, have intensified calling for the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak. Mubarak has appointed a Vice President for the first time and a new Prime Minister, both government insiders who are close to Mubarak. Omar Suleiman, 71 years old, head of intelligence and former spy, has been named Vice President. Mubarak had promised to do this some years ago but never did to Suleiman’s disappointment. He, however remained loyal to Mubarak. The new Prime Minister is another military man, Ahmad Shafiq.

The Muslim Brotherhood, the opposion party that has no seats in the current parliament, has called for Mubarak to step down and a unity government formed without the ruling party, NDP. Al Jazeera is now reporting that the head of the Muslim Brotherhood have been detained by the Mubarak government.

In a statement this evening (Egyptain time), Mohamed Elbaradei has called once again for Mubarak to step down and the formation of a unity government that represents all the Egyptian people. The people will be satisfied with nothing less. (I will have the video with the simultaneous translation as soon as Al Jazeera makes it available on You Tube)(Up date #2: Video of Elbaradei’s statement with simultaneous translation by AL Jazeera)

The curfew, 6 PM to 7 AM local time, continues but is being ignored. There are reports of looting and vandalism of shops, the museums and hospitals. There are no signs of the security police from the Ministry of Interior. The army is unable to contain any of the protests and is calling for private citizens to protect themselves and their property. There are also reports that the “thugs” who are looting may be police from  police Egypt’s Central Security. Al Jazeera’s Ayman Mohyeldin is reporting that thugs in one neighborhood were seized and found to have state security id and carrying state issued weapons.

7:38pm Ayman Mohyeldin reports that eyewitnesses have said “party thugs” associated with the Egyptian regime’s Central Security Services – in plainclothes but bearing government-issued weapons – have been looting in Cairo. Ayman says the reports started off as isolated accounts but are now growing in number.

Al-Masry Al-Youm has reported that protesters have been trying to organize to protect neighborhoods in the absence of the police.

Also a h/t to Siun at FDL for her fine reporting.

Up Date #1: Mubarak’s new Vice President, Omar Suleiman, ran the US secret rendition program in Egypt.

From Jane Mayer’s book The Dark Side: The Inside Story of How the War on Terror Turned Into a War (pp113), Suleiman negotiated directly with top US officials and personally approved of the renditions. Edward S. Walker, former US Ambassador to Egypt, described Suleiman as “very bright, very realistic” and very aware of the  downside of the “negative things that Egyptians engaged in, torture and so on. But he was not squeamish, by the way.”

Egyptian Americans protested outside the Egyptian Embassy in Washington, DC this today

 

Jan 28 2011

Reporting the Revolution: Protests in Egypt, Up Dated x 7

News is breaking extremely fast. Both Al Jazeera and CNN are transmitting live images. You can watch the Al Jazeera broadcast live on line. Protests broken out all over Egypt and there are tanks on the streets of Cairo. Reports are that the police have withdrawn from the Alexandria.

Mohamed ElBaradei, the former head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, arrived in Egypt yesterday and it is being reported by numerous news agencies that he has been placed under house arrest

As I am writing this, the commentator is reporting that state security has entered Al Jeezera’s Cairo building in an attempt to shut down their feed. Communications have been hampered in the building. The cutting of cell phone connections and the Internet blackout the past three days is unprecedented and reporters and crews are missing, as per live reports.

It is prayer time and the protesters are organizing for evening prayer and the riot police has back off to give them time to pray.

There are reports of at least one person killed in Cairo and a curfew has been imposed for 6 PM Egyptian time (11 AM EST).

This is a video of clashes on a bridge that took place earlier today.

UP dates will continue as they happen.

Mishima’s live blog

I’ve been awake for 22 hours I’m going to bed- mishima

Up Date #1: CNN reports that the Egyptian Army has been ordered to take over the security from the police.

Up Date #2: The New York Times has continuous up dates on the protests as they receive them.

Egyptian President is expected to give a live address.

Up Date #3: A curfew went into effect at 6 PM (11 AM) and is being ignored.

Al Jazeera reports that 5 Army tanks have entered Cairo as protesters take over security police armored personnel carriers and police stations, setting them on fire.

Further up dates and videos will be below the fold.

Jan 27 2011

US Foreign Policy: Ignoring the Revolutions

In case you missed it because the American MSM mostly buried it, Tunisia had a revolution overthrowing it’s US backed dictator, Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, who fled to Saudi Arabia with most of his family. The upheaval arouse from the streets out of the frustrations of a well educated public that is suffering with high unemployment and skyrocketing prices for basics. The streets protesters were joined by the police and the military. The “revolution” is spreading across Africa to Egypt with major protests in the streets condemning the rule of ailing President Hosni Mubarak and his hand pick successor, his businessman son. Inspired by the Tunisian revolution, Egypt poverty stricken youths have taken to the streets demanding the end of Mubarak’s 30 year rule.

For decades, Egypt’s authoritarian president, Hosni Mubarak, played a clever game with his political opponents.  

He tolerated a tiny and toothless opposition of liberal intellectuals whose vain electoral campaigns created the facade of a democratic process. And he demonized the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood as a group of violent extremists who posed a threat that he used to justify his police state.

But this enduring and, many here say, all too comfortable relationship was upended this week by the emergence of an unpredictable third force, the leaderless tens of thousands of young Egyptians who turned out to demand an end to Mr. Mubarak’s 30-year rule.

Now the older opponents are rushing to catch up.

“It was the young people who took the initiative and set the date and decided to go,” Mohamed ElBaradei, the former head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said Wednesday with some surprise during a telephone interview from his office in Vienna, shortly before rushing home to Cairo to join the revolt.

ElBaradei, who has been targeted for assassination by Mubarak supporters, is returning to Egypt today. in his  statement issued prior to his departure, ElBaradei has some disparaging comments about Secretary Of State Hillary Clinton:

   When Egypt had parliamentary elections only two months ago, they were completely rigged. The party of President Hosni Mubarak left the opposition with only 3 percent of the seats. Imagine that. And the American government said that it was “dismayed.” Well, frankly, I was dismayed that all it could say is that it was dismayed. The word was hardly adequate to express the way the Egyptian people felt.

   Then, as protests built in the streets of Egypt following the overthrow of Tunisia’s dictator, I heard Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s assessment that the government in Egypt is “stable” and “looking for ways to respond to the legitimate needs and interests of the Egyptian people”. I was flabbergasted-and I was puzzled. What did she mean by stable, and at what price? Is it the stability of 29 years of “emergency” laws, a president with imperial power for 30 years, a parliament that is almost a mockery, a judiciary that is not independent? Is that what you call stability? I am sure not. And I am positive that it is not the standard you apply to other countries. What we see in Egypt is pseudo-stability, because real stability only comes with a democratically elected government..

   If you would like to know why the United States does not have credibility in the Middle East, that is precisely the answer…

(emphasis mine)

Now, it has spread to one of the poorest Mideastern countries, Yemen, as their youth take to the streets to protest their government.

BEIRUT, Lebanon – Yemen, one of the Middle East’s most impoverished countries and a haven for Al Qaeda militants, became the latest Arab state to witness mass protests on Thursday, as thousands of Yemenis took to the streets in the capital and other regions to demand a change in government. . . . . .

The demonstrations on Thursday followed several days of smaller protests by students and opposition groups calling for the removal of President Ali Abdallah Saleh, a strongman who has ruled this fractured country for more than 30 years and is a key ally of the United States in the fight against the Yemeni branch of Al Qaeda. . . . . .

Yemen’s fragile stability has been of increasing concern to the United States. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, in a visit to Sana earlier this month, urged Mr. Saleh to open a dialogue with the opposition, saying it would help to stabilize the country. His current term expires in two years, but proposed constitutional changes could allow him to hold onto power for longer.

How many despotic regimes will the US continue to bolster? For how long? US policy in the region has been on the wrong track for decades. Time to reassess is coming fast.