- In fact, repression throughout the Middle East is largely
ignored except some reporting on protests in Tunisia, Yemen, Jordan, and
Algeria, but they've faded with focus mainly on Egypt.
- Though important, most Arabs live in 21 other countries
and territories from the Atlantic Ocean to the Arabian Sea, from the Mediterranean
Sea to the Horn of Africa and Indian Ocean on two continents. Their combined
populations approach 340 million people, most of them denied freedom and
dignity for centuries.
- Their plight stretched from Ottoman 16th century rule
through WW I, then British and French control, and now America and Israel.
They're ruling hegemon partners, mainly Washington, of course, allied with
its key regional partner. Together, they virulently oppose Arab nationalism
and democratic freedoms. Edward Said once explained that:
- "The basic premise of Arab nationalism in the broad
sense is that, with all their diversity and pluralism of substance and
style, the people whose language and culture are Arab and Muslim (the Arabic-speaking
peoples) constitute a nation and not just a collection of states scattered
between North Africa and the western boundaries of Iran."
- However, any "independent articulation of that premise
was openly attacked," by the French, British, Americans, and Israelis
through wars and repressive occupation and dispossession of indigenous
- Washington and Israel especially remain deeply hostile
to Arab nationalism and attempts to unify Arabs politically. Their goal,
in fact, is divide, conquer and control, redrawing the Middle East to suit
imperial, not Arab interests. They thrive on "Arab fragmentation,
collective inaction, and military and economic weakness," Said explained.
- He also said Arabs largely never achieved collective
independence in "whole or in part" because outside powers coveted
their lands and resources. For over half a century, in fact, Washington
based its Middle East agenda on three policies:
- -- supporting Israel;
- -- controlling regional oil supplies; and
- -- assuring Arab states remain reliable vassals, Egypt
especially as the region's lynchpin but also Palestine under leaders it
controls along with Israel.
- Said called it "an unprecedented crisis. Unprecedented
means are therefore required to confront" what he said was "a
wholesale attack....by an imperial power, America, that acts in concert
with Israel, to pacify, subdue, and finally reduce (Arab peoples) to a
bunch of warring fiefdoms whose first loyalty is not to their people but
to the great superpower" under puppet rulers enriching themselves
at their expense.
- Kings do it. Shekh leaders do it. Mubarak did it, and
so don't Mahmoud Abbas, Salam Fayyad and other key Palestinian Authority
(PA) fellow travelers, profiting at their own people's expense as reliable
- In fact, they cooperate actively in pursuing, facilitating,
or ignoring systematic attacks against civilians and property in Occupied
Palestinian communities. As a result, a typical week resembles late January
through early February, including:
- -- PA security forces arresting targeted figures, including
- -- Israeli settlers, with impunity, killing two Palestinian
civilians, wounding a third in Nablus and Hebron;
- -- an IDF explosive killing a Gaza child;
- -- its forces targeting Palestinian workers, farmers,
children and fishermen in Gazan waters;
- -- using brute force against peaceful protesters, causing
injuries and at times deaths;
- -- bombing tunnels south of Rafah numerous times, causing
more of them;
- -- other bombings of a Gaza medicine factory, setting
it ablaze, and attacking a metal workshop in northern Gaza; at least 10
injuries overall were reported;
- -- announced plans for an electric security barrier to
wall off Egypt; and
- -- Israel forces making 31 lawless incursions into Palestinian
West Bank communities, arresting 23 civilians, including seven children
and a PA representative.
- Moreover, Gaza remains besieged over seven months after
Israel's Security Cabinet's decision to ease closure. As a result, reconstruction
is severely impeded, including the rebuilding of schools, hospitals, residential
neighborhoods, and vital civilian infrastructure.
- In addition, food insecurity as well as high unemployment
and poverty rates remain major concerns. Also, virtually all exports are
banned, exacerbating dire economic conditions, worsened because Israel
severely restricts entry of humanitarian organizations, international diplomats,
journalists, and others wanting to assess conditions or help.
- In the West Bank and East Jerusalem, daily life involves
severe movement and speech restrictions, including 585 permanent roadblocks,
manned and unmanned checkpoints, and closure or militarized control of
around two-thirds of all main roads between 18 Palestinian communities.
Overall, about 500 km of West Bank roads are restricted, and about one-third
of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, is inaccessible to Palestinians
without IDF-issued (very hard to get) permits.
- This is how police states work, daily responsible for
crimes against humanity, especially against those who dare resist. As a
result, Palestinians suffer grievously, largely out of sight and mind,
more than ever perhaps with world attention on Egypt.
- For them, daily life involves militarized repression,
police state harshness even more brutal than Mubarak's because the entire
population suffers, especially besieged Gazans, suffocating under near
total closure for over three and a half years, except for restricted exceptions.
- On February 7, IRIN, OCHA's humanitarian news and analysis
service said Egypt's uprising exacerbated Gaza's humanitarian crisis because
Rafah crossing and tunnels have been closed. It explained that:
- "The problem is getting fuel to the border inside
Egypt. There are no military forces on the Egyptian side....so smugglers
are getting hijacked on the road from Cairo and all their stuff (is) stolen.
It's very dangerous for them...."
- "There is nothing coming through the tunnels now."
Only limited fuel amounts are available at triple the recent price. Without
relief, it means "no cars, but also no electricity," that's already
in short supply, forcing widespread use of fuel-powered generators.
- Hospitals are also affected. Shifa Hospital, Gaza's largest,
has less than a week's supply of fuel, creating a potentially critical
situation. A senior intensive care unit nurse expressed great concern,
- "This unit, especially, is entirely dependent on
electricity. If there's a power cut we have to operate the ventilators
manually before the generator kicks in. There are power cuts here for four
hours every day. It will be impossible to keep people alive without our
generators - the monitors, the ventilators, everything - will be gone."
- Bassam Abu Hamad, a senior Gaza health consultant, also
said greater closure puts lives at risk, adding;
- "People in need of radiotherapy, and advanced surgery
in particular, are simply unable to get treatment. While Rafah is closed,
we will see increased loss of life here in Gaza."
- Already prices have skyrocketed, affecting fuel, food,
other consumer goods, and the limited amounts of available building materials.
- On February 9, IRIN said tunnels resumed supplying petrol,
a week after it was cut off. However, Egypt's crisis means everything is
uncertain, including high prices making vital supplies unaffordable for
many. In addition, Rafah remains closed, affecting patients unable to reach
Egypt for treatment. WHO's Gaza officer in charge, Mahmoud Daher said:
- "In cases of closure, like we're seeing now,"
patients without Israeli permits to leave "struggle to get adequate
health care in Gaza. The longer Rafah remains closed, the higher the possibility
that these patients' prognosis will be affected. This is a very worrying
situation." It promises to stay that way as Egypt's uprising shows
no signs of ebbing.
- On February 9, Al Jazeera said Egyptian labor unions
went on nationwide strike, supporting street protesters. Around 20,000
factory workers were involved. Demonstrators held signs saying "Closed
until the fall of the regime."
- Correspondent Stefanie Dekker said there's "even
an Internet campaign aimed at mobilizing thousands of expatriates to return
and support the uprising." Activist Ahmad Salah told Al Jazeera that
protesters are "more emboldened by the day....This is a growing movement,
it's not shrinking."
- Whether or not Egyptians prevail, besieged Gazans face
increasing hardships heading toward crisis conditions if essential supplies
and services remain spotty or unaffordable. Yet media reports largely ignore
them. Even Al Jazeera offers only occasional accounts.
- A brief February 9 one headlined, "Egypt events
spark Gaza fuel panic," saying Gazans scrambled to make due best they
can in coverage running barely over two minutes compared to hours devoted
- It's nothing new for Palestinians. They've suffered mostly
in silence. Major media coverage largely ignored them for decades, except
during two Intifadas and Israeli wars when unjustly they were called terrorists,
not heroic freedom fighters, struggling for rights long denied them.
- They still do out of sight and mind in most Western societies,
especially Americans given carefully filtered managed news, infotainment
and junk food news. It leaves large majorities out of touch and uninformed,
believing fantasies opposite of realities, including aggressive wars called
liberating ones against people only yearning to be free.
- A Final Comment
- It's no exaggeration saying millions across North African
and Middle East countries harbor decades of pent up anger, expressed powerfully
by courageous Egyptians after 16 days of protest showing no signs of ebbing.
It's also true that Washington maneuvers plan new faces under old policies,
creating the impression of change, a longstanding scheme initiated numerous
previous times, usually successfully, and odds favor it this time.
- As a result, it's hard distinguishing between pro and
anti-reformists pretending to want change, perhaps including made for television
heros. The latest one comes to mind without knowing whether or not he's
credible. At least, be wary. Accept nothing at face value. What's portrayed
publicly may be more fiction than fact, so viewers should demand proof.
Without it, remember numerous past times manufactured heros were fakes,
but don't conclude it arbitrarily.
- The latest one comes to mind - Wael Ghonim, Google's
regional head of marketing the New York Times called "emotive and
handsome....the movement's icon," quoting Professor Ibrahim el-Bahrawy
(a former ruling party member) saying, "His emotions exploded. I was
very, very moved."
- Who, in fact, is Ghonim, a fair question since he practically
emerged out of thin air, and overnight become a prime catalyst of revolt?
He's Google's Middle East/North Africa head of marketing, who in January,
created the Facebook "We Are All Khaled Said" page, honoring
the young Egyptian blogger beaten to death by police last June.
- Operated anonymously as "El Shaheed" (the martyr),
the page helped rally anti-government protests beginning on January 25.
On January 27, Ghonim went missing, his same day Twitter feed saying:
- "Pray for #Egypt. Very worried as it seems that
government is planning a war crime tomorrow against people. We are all
ready to die #Jan.25."
- For days, no one knew his whereabouts until learned authorities
held him. On February 7, 12 days later, he emerged unharmed, and on Dream
2, a private Egyptian channel, gave a highly emotional interview, admitting
he administered the Facebook page.
- He also created Mohammed ElBaradei's official web site,
the former IAEA head who suddenly parachuted into Egypt after living outside
his native country for 30 years. Did he come voluntarily, or was he brought,
perhaps serving America's imperial agena, another unanswered question.
- For many in them, Egypt's jails operate like roach motels,
those entering disappear after lengthy torture/ interrogations. Ghonim,
however, said he wasn't harmed, just kept blindfolded incommunicado, his
family unaware what happened.
- After release, he said many others contributed to the
Facebook page, adding, "This was a revolution of the youth of all
of Egypt. I'm not a hero," endearing him to protesters.
- Though so far no evidence suggests it, at issue is whether
a Google executive "Internet activist," in fact, was enlisted
for his role. If so, it wouldn't be the first time made-for-television
heros were, in fact, villains. Hopefully, he's not the latest, but be wary
until known for sure.
- Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at
email@example.com. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com
and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the
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