A world turning rightside up
February 16, 2011 11:27 AM   Subscribe

As Political Protests spread across the Arab world the BBC has a quick go to page for some facts.
The Guardian and BBC among others have live updates. Al Jazeera Bahrein - live and Eye on Algeria
Demographics of Arab Protests and further background from CFR.
posted by adamvasco (33 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
Gaddafi "feels secure".
posted by Burhanistan at 11:35 AM on February 16, 2011

Bahrain oughta get the attention of the US Gov't real quick. It's been our home away from home in the Gulf for two decades or so.
posted by fixedgear at 11:38 AM on February 16, 2011

BBC is basing some of their data on the Economist's interestingly named 'Shoe Throwers Index'
posted by memebake at 11:44 AM on February 16, 2011 [1 favorite]

posted by effluvia at 11:57 AM on February 16, 2011 [4 favorites]

Gaddafi "feels secure".
I bet he does.
posted by battleshipkropotkin at 11:59 AM on February 16, 2011

Keep it rolling, folks. Let's put an end to kings. (England, you're next.)

Gaddafi "feels secure".

I'm not sure he should.
posted by mrgrimm at 12:18 PM on February 16, 2011

Rise up, my siblings, and take your freedom.
posted by Faint of Butt at 12:25 PM on February 16, 2011

I like how Republicans said that a wave of democracy spreading across the Middle East was their goal, and now that it's happening they're freaking out.
posted by mccarty.tim at 12:34 PM on February 16, 2011 [17 favorites]

> now that it's happening they're freaking out.

They were really hoping the waves would be caused by the concussions of US bombs instead of popular uprisings.
posted by Burhanistan at 12:36 PM on February 16, 2011 [2 favorites]

Egypt was a fluke - the catalyst for escalation and success was relative inaction against protest from the military.

How many of these other regimes enjoy that level of decoupling between the will of a iron fisted government and the directed strength of the armed forces?
posted by CynicalKnight at 12:38 PM on February 16, 2011

Sixty years of Western nations excusing and accommodating the lack of freedom in the Middle East did nothing to make us safe - because in the long run, stability cannot be purchased at the expense of liberty.

As long as the Middle East remains a place where freedom does not flourish, it will remain a place of stagnation, resentment and violence ready for export.

posted by caddis at 12:46 PM on February 16, 2011

Egypt was a fluke - the catalyst for escalation and success was relative inaction against protest from the military.

Yeah, that's what they said about Tunisia, and that it would never happen in Egypt. One thing, though, is the countries relative closeness with the U.S. Since it would be difficult for the U.S. to maintain relationships with countries that went out and pulled "tienanmens" on their own people. On the other hand, Libya and Iran don't have that problem. We'll have to see.
posted by delmoi at 12:54 PM on February 16, 2011

> Egypt was a fluke

It's hard to say at this point. It seems to me that what might be the fluke aspect with Egypt will be the minimal amount of dead bodies before the governments relent.
posted by Burhanistan at 1:17 PM on February 16, 2011

Have to disagree about the fluke theory too - it denies popular agency in eliciting that military response - as well as the obvious effect of the tenacity on the streets, seen reports that the senior generals in the current junta were all for opening fire but family/friend pressure on lower-ranking commanders meant they couldn't give the order and expect to have it followed. And of course dozens were killed or injured by security forces other than the army, which only hardened the resolve of those protesting and incited others to join in, so even if they had taken the low road to a bloodbath I don't see that implies successful suppression, though of course given the balance of forces that would be the likely short-term outcome.
posted by Abiezer at 1:32 PM on February 16, 2011

I like how Republicans said that a wave of democracy spreading across the Middle East was their goal, and now that it's happening they're freaking out.

They're mad because it wasn't on their watch, as well as it not being caused by our military.
posted by hellslinger at 1:39 PM on February 16, 2011

I'm still expecting they'll resolve the Bahrein protests quickly & bloodlessly. Afaik, all that's really needed is : releasing political prisoners, instituting affirmative action for government jobs, especially hiring more Sihiite police, perhaps creating some temporary work programs to reduce Shiite unemployment not, and ideally prosecuting the Sunni police that've tortured Shiite detainees.

Affirmative action correcting the ongoing discrimination against the the Shiite majority isn't that serious a concession. They could write the law into the books immediately, thus appeasing the Shiites in parliament, but obviously the tangible effect is fairly gentle on the Sunni's currently running the show.
posted by jeffburdges at 1:44 PM on February 16, 2011

Bahrain: US Naval Base or Iranian Asset?
Eighty percent of the Prime Minister’s cabinet is filled with members of King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa’s royal family. The Shiite opposition group--another branch of Islam--wants to see more diversity in the cabinet and greater power be instilled in the parliament. Shiites make up 70 percent of the country, but have only a 45 percent share in parliament. They also own siginificantly less wealth than Sunnis. Bahrain's entire voting population is about the same size as the voting population of a single Congressional district in the United States. Half of Bahrain's population of 1.2 million is made up of foreigners. The security forces are heavily dominated by foreigners. (via).
Weasel on Daily Kos has a good selection of Middle East Newsclips
posted by adamvasco at 1:45 PM on February 16, 2011 [1 favorite]

Iraq also.
posted by empath at 3:01 PM on February 16, 2011

Some questions I've not heard addressed: when this is all done, will we have a new United States of Arabia?

Does anyone know if that is even being advocated by anyone there? Or is that a subtext/unstated goal that is obvious to everyone on the ground but not mentioned in Western media?

Is national solidarity stronger than pan Regional solidarity there? Would the Islamic right look like the Christian right in the older US? If a USA emerges in the Middle east, where will the capital be?

I feel like this is what it felt like for a Frenchman watching events unfold in America in 1775. Where are you Ben Franklin of the Middle East?
posted by astrobiophysican at 9:08 PM on February 16, 2011

more like an eu than a us. the countries are far too different.
posted by empath at 9:43 PM on February 16, 2011

Pan-Arabism tried during the 1960's and 70's (see things like the United Arab Republic), but it was mostly just grandstanding. Each of these countries have decent nationalistic sentiments that keep pan-Arab and Pan-Islamic movements in check. In addition, with the instability of each country right now, there's no desire to mix another unstable country into the pot. There are way too many memories of other countries (even Arab, Persian, or Turkish ones) that have taken advantage of more vulnerable ones. This will redefine the Arab League, but there's not going to be any sort of unification for the next fifty years. So, no USA or EU for some time.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 10:17 PM on February 16, 2011

Yeah, pan-Arabism is definitely an idea that's been around, as Lord Chancellor says. However, it's seen more popular days. Nationalism is popular in the individual countries of the Middle East to greater or lesser degrees, and the countries themselves are indeed quite different from each other. As an Egyptian, I have the most experience with Egypt, and feel I'd be talking out my ass to try to characterize, say, Moroccan nationalism. But Egypt has a strong sense of identity as a distinct entity within the broader Arab world.

I've heard many Arabs, my dad for instance, express the sentiment "There are 300,000,000 Arabs worldwide. Imagine what we could do if we were united as one country." Realistically, though? It's not happening anytime soon, though current events could be laying the groundwork for our grandchildren to see an EU-type set up. Actually completely merging into a single country? That's hardest of all to imagine. The individual countries, as new and artificial as some of them may be (like Iraq), have more or less distinct identities that they don't want to see being subsumed into a monolithic US of Arabia.

Besides, there's a good chance the capital of the United States of Arabia would be in present-day Saudi Arabia, and that doesn't seem like the most popular idea. Plenty of Arabs from other countries will tell you that Saudis are fucking crazies.
posted by malapropist at 11:05 PM on February 16, 2011 [1 favorite]

Oliver Roy - Post-Islamic Revolution.
posted by adamvasco at 11:29 PM on February 16, 2011

The key country related to what is happening in the countries on the Arabian peninsula including Bahrain and Yemen is Saudi Arabia. The Kingdom was the most ardent supporter of Mubarak, and has given refuge to Ben Ali and family. It will be loath to allowing a Shi'ite democracy emerge that is just off its shores--it is still reeling from Iraq having lost its Sunni, but secular, overlords--the Baathists.

Also, the Kingdom is also Al-Jazeera's blindspot. The so-called 'independent' channel says little about the state of affairs in Saudi Arabia. So, too by the Western media. Why is the Kingdom treated with kid gloves? There has been barely anything written about the impact of Tunisia and Egypt on Saudi Arabia, which is ruled by a family of 14,000 spoilt-rotten princes, their families, their concubines and indentured servants, and has a declining economy: a place ripe for revolt, also.

Will the regimes/leaders that have been overthrown in the ME since 2001 only been the secular ones: Saddam, Ben Ali and Mubarak? What about the uber-despotic Saudis who eagerly give refuge to any of the world's most loathesome rulers who can stomach living there? There is little that has been reported or written on it.
posted by Azaadistani at 12:05 AM on February 17, 2011 [2 favorites]

The Egyptian revolution has resurrected a new type of pan-Arabism, based on social justice not empty slogans.
posted by adamvasco at 2:50 AM on February 17, 2011

Tweet from NYT's Nicholas Kristof who is in Bahrain: 1 #Bahrain ambulance driver told me #Saudi army officer held gun to his head, said wld kill him if helped injured. QED

See his twitterfeed on his blog.
posted by Azaadistani at 3:36 AM on February 17, 2011

Voices from inside Bahrain’s terror
posted by adamvasco at 4:24 AM on February 17, 2011

"We are against violence and we would call to account the Iranian government that is, once again, using its security forces and resorting to violence to prevent the free expression of ideas from their own people. Secondly, we support the universal human rights of the Iranian people. They deserve to have the same rights that they saw being played out in Egypt and that are part of their own birthright. And thirdly, we think there needs to be a commitment to open up the political system in Iran, to open up to opposition figures in society." -- Hillary Clinton, 15th February 2011
I demand a verbatim statement from Hillary Clinton in the next few days about Bahrain, or else I charge the USA with gross hypocrisy and narrow-minded empire-building.
posted by asymptotic at 4:29 AM on February 17, 2011

PBS Tehran updates After the calls this week for the executions of Green Movement leaders Mir Hossein Mousavi, Mehdi Karroubi, and Mohammad Khatami, hardliners in the regime have apparently added another big name to the death wish list: Ayatollah Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, president of the Islamic Republic between 1989 and 1997.
posted by adamvasco at 6:22 AM on February 17, 2011

The Arab Revolution Saudi Update
posted by adamvasco at 3:09 AM on February 18, 2011

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