Bookmarks 09/04/2011

  • Anonymous has struck back after the arrest in recent days of alleged members of the hacktivist group. Their target this time was the Texas law enforcement. A massive dump of what was supposed to be confidential police chat brings bigotry and racism out to the open. Take a read!

    tags: Anonymous racism Texas Islam Islamophobia publishtoblog

  • Al Jazeera’s Listening Post asks whether the proximity of the media with the rebels in Libya has impacted on the coverage of the conflict there. The program features my friend Antoun Issa.

    Also, an interestng take (around 14.30) on the Western spin doctors working behind the scenes to keep Arab dictators in power. My friend Nasser Weddady is featured here as well.

    tags: libya media revolution listening post english Al Jazeera publishtoblog

    • Since the beginning of the Arab revolutions, embattled regimes have faced a barrage of criticism in the press. To counter this, Arab dictators have employed the services of western PR companies to clean up their image. Consulting companies like the Washington-based Qorvis Communications and the London-based Bell Pottinger have been quietly working for governments in Yemen, Syria and Bahrain.

      For these companies, as the bad press has grown worse for these governments, business for them has improved. But their work has pushed them into unfamiliar territory – under the spotlight and some have had to defend their business deals. The Listening Post‘s Meenakshi Ravi takes a look at the spin-doctors working behind the scenes in the Arab spring.

  • This cable describes a meeting US diplomats had with two prominent Moroccan human rights activists, Amine Abdelhamid and Samira Kinani.

    tags: US embassy cable publishtoblog Samira kinani Amine AMDH

  •  Wikileaks cable describes Global Voices as a gay rights group website! I’m LMAO!

    tags: publishtoblog embassy singapore cable US globalvoices global voices

  • Excellent billet de Omar El Hyani Je note cependant que je ne suis pas en faveur du vote obligatoire pour les raisons suivantes : il est illusoire de penser que le vote obligatoire puisse empêcher l’achat des voix. Il permets tout au plus de rendre la corruption plus onéreuse. En effet un candidat qui aurait des moyens financiers suffisants pourrait faire en sorte, moyennant argent et services, qu’un segment de l’électorat, dans une circonscription donnée, vote d’une certaine manière. Au delà de la question (importante) de la corruption le fait de rendre le vote obligatoire prive l’électeur de la liberté de boycotter un système qu’il peut considérer fondamentalement corrompu. Une liberté à laquelle je tiens personnellement si je venais à choisir de ne pas voter sous l’actuelle constitution en considérant que cela cautionnerait le Makhzen. C’est un acte politique dont personne, et surtout pas l’Etat, ne devrait me priver.Autre objection, je ne suis pas en faveur d’empêcher quiconque de se représenter, quand bien même il s’appellerait Abdelouahad Radi. C’est aux électeurs de décider, même si tout porte à croire que la 12ème mesure relève plus du sarcasme qu’autre chose.Pour le reste je rejoins Omar complètement.

    tags: publishtoblog omareh omar el hyani maroc morocco elections intikhabate élections

    • Il existe une réelle fracture au Maroc entre politiciens et citoyens.
    • D’un coté, la concentration des pouvoirs aux mains du roi, encore présente dans la “nouvelle” constitution, laisse penser que le gouvernement n’est qu’un simple exécutant de la politique royale.
    • Deuxième cause de cette fracture, est la perte de confiance dans l’élite politique du pays.
    • Troisième cause de désintérêt pourrait être le sentiment que les élections ne sont pas si transparentes que cela.
  • China’s double game: Chinese state-controlled arms manufacturers allegedly offered embattled Gaddafi huge stockpiles of arms. According to uncovered documents shipments were meant to go through Algeria and Sout Africa.

    tags: china arms gaddafi libya publishtoblog

  • The unintended consequence of Gaddafi’s fall: bolstering Moroccan position in the conflict over Western Sahara. Why am I under the impression Moroccan (inept, I dare say) diplomacy will squander this historic opportunity to reach a permanent settlement?

    tags: gaddafi alakhbar Polisario morocco libya algeria publishtoblog

    • Rebel forces reportedly arrested nearly 500 Polisario mercenaries for collaborating with Gaddafi’s forces. Most of the prisoners were apprehended at Gaddafi’s Bab al-Azizia compound in Tripoli or in the town of Zawiya.
    • Former American diplomat Edward Gabriel says that Polisario collaboration with Gaddafi against NATO and the rebels is “fomenting tension in the region” and threatening American interests. He adds that “the international community will have to intervene to punish it and deter it.”
    • Polisario’s president, Mohamed Abdelaziz, cut short his holiday on a Spanish island to return to Tindouf for an emergency meeting to discuss the unwelcome developments and explore new strategies for winning the war against Morocco.
    • Mustafa Salma Wild Sidi Mawlood believes that the decision to stand by Gaddafi and send fighters to assist him was a “grave mistake.” He points out that this position “does not reflect the opinions of all Sahrawis who have supported the Libyan revolution from day one.”
  • A bluff? I doubt Turkey will have a go at Israeli war ships but who knows?

    tags: Newspaper turkey navy israel gaza erdogan haaretz publishtoblog

    • “The eastern Mediterranean will no longer be a place where Israeli naval forces can freely exercise their bullying practices against civilian vessels,” a Turkish official was quoted as saying.
    • Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan instructed his foreign ministry to organize a trip for him to the Gaza Strip in the near future.
    • “We are looking for the best timing for the visit,” a Turkish official was quoted as saying. “Our primary purpose is to draw the world’s attention to what is going on in Gaza and to push the international community to end the unfair embargo imposed by Israel.”
  • Now here’s a country with a foreign policy that raises many question marks, the UAE. According to this article from the Arabist, citing the NYT, “Mr. Prince, [founder of Blackwater Worldwide (now Xe)] who resettled here last year after his security business faced mounting legal problems in the United States, was hired by the crown prince of Abu Dhabi to put together an 800-member battalion of foreign troops for the U.A.E.”

    The perceived Iranian threat and the sectarian way by which regional politics are shaped may be announcing a troubled future for the region.

    tags: arabist UAE publishtoblog

    • The UAE said it uses international contractors including Spectre, Horizon, and R2 (alleged to be Prince’s new company) for planning, training, development and operational support. There are more than 40,000 Emirati personnel, in what the Emirates describes as “robust military capability…at a high state of readiness” — although it appears to be hedging its bets, which the NYT suggests explains the need for Erik Prince’s services outside the normal armed forces:

      The force is intended to conduct special operations missions inside and outside the country, defend oil pipelines and skyscrapers from terrorist attacks and put down internal revolts, the documents show. Such troops could be deployed if the Emirates faced unrest in their crowded labor camps or were challenged by pro-democracy protests like those sweeping the Arab world this year.

    • The threat of Iran has not disappeared. “Sometimes by having advanced equipment and having an advanced military system you try to send…a message…that I have strong alliances with other countries that will be willing to step in should I need them to…a deterrent,” Sager said.
    • The UAE’s concern with Iran was highlighted in a Wikileaks-released State Department cable last year, quoting Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed (MbZ) as backing “action” against Iran:

      In a March 27 meeting with CENTCOM Commander General Abizaid, MbZ spoke about the Iranian threat with a greater sense of urgency. He was strongly in favor of taking action against Iran and its president sooner rather than later. “I believe this guy is going to take us to war. … It’s a matter of time,” MbZ warned, adding that action against Iran and President Ahmedinejad should be taken this year or next year. MbZ said he was unwilling to wait much longer. “Personally, I cannot risk it with a guy like Ahmedinejad. He is young and aggressive.”

  • To what extent is Al Jazeera independent from the Qatari government? Is Qatar’s foreign policy dictated by what Al Jazeera journalists shape in their newsroom or is it the other way around? Mohammed El Oifi has a very interesting take on that relationship on this week’s Le Monde Diplomatique: “the alignment is far from systematic, and the mechanism ensuring the station’s success is a triangular interaction between Qatari foreign policy, Al-Jazeera journalists and Arab public opinion.”

    tags: Al-Jazeera english lemondediplomatique le monde diplomatique mondediplomatique mondediplo publishtoblog

    • the editorial position of the satellite TV network Al-Jazeera, based in the capital Doha, has allowed Qatari foreign policy to shape transnational Arab sentiment. Its approach, which mixes pan-Arabism, Islamic sensitivity and liberalism, has ensured Al-Jazeera’s success and popularity. The Doha authorities have turned this into diplomatic leverage.
    • Morocco is an interesting example. Al-Jazeera opened a regional office in Rabat in November 2006 to broadcast a daily news programme specifically aimed at the Maghreb. Officially, its presence was supposed to prove Morocco’s liberal approach to freedom of expression. But in October 2010 the office was closed down, chiefly because of the amount of screen time given to opposition movements, especially Islamist ones. To everyone’s surprise, two days before the constitutional referendum of 1 July 2011, the minister of communication, Khaled al-Naceri, who had led a vitriolic campaign against Al-Jazeera (5), gave it permission to continue working in Morocco. In Egypt Al-Jazeera became the media relay of the revolution in February 2011, in spite of the closure of its office on Tahrir Square. When the Mubarak regime shut down the internet, it was Al-Jazeera that disrupted that communication strategy.
    • Al-Jazeera’s regional influence can be seen in the way that it can impose on Arab leaders the idea that its presence on their territory is less costly than its absence. Where it is banned, it is usually also boycotted by official representatives and transformed into a media relay for the opposition. This can unbalance relations within the media framework as the Egyptian and Libyan examples demonstrate.
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