Archive for August, 2011

Defiant Gaddafi son vows to fight

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One of the sons of fugitive Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi vows to fight to the end and warns against an assault on his father’s birthplace, Sirte.
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Syria official rails at killings

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A man claiming to be the top legal official in the central Syrian city of Hama says he has resigned in protest at the crimes against humanity committed by security forces.
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Will Sirte Hold Out, or Fall as Quickly as Tripoli?

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Pro-Qadhafi forces in Sirte have rejected the National Transitional Council ultimatum to surrender, meaning the NTC forces (:”rebels” seems a bit overtaken by events, given widespread international recognition) will presumably have to mount a full campaign. But two weeks ago, everyone expected Tripoli to require a long, hard, slogging battle against last-ditch defenders, but the city fell with surprising speed.

Certainly the exp4ected resistance in Tripoli evaporated quickly. The hollowness of support for the regime, despite brutal measures to hold the line, saw resistance crumble. Sirte may be a tougher nut to crack: Qadhafi’s native town, with tribal allegiances to him, and a town that has benefited from government largesse (as a small town that has come to host African summits regularly), and with a lot on the line.

The question, I suspect, is whether the regime’s dwindling support has reached a point of no return, where (as happened first with Russia in 1917 and then with Germany in 1918) the army simply melts away.  Qadhafius African mercenaries have no incentives to fight tot he last man; but some of the regime’s elite forces may still have fight in them.
 Meanshile,  the explosion of a car bomb in Tripoli is a reminder that, as was the case in Iraq, the capture of the capital does not assure an end to violence.

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Gems of Arabic Literature #3: On Sicily

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With the virtual flood of book digitalization online quite a few obscure books are now available online either at or through Google. I recently came across a gem: a translation of a high school Arabic text used in Aden by the British at the start of the 20th century. The title page was shown in a previous post. The full text can be downloaded as a pdf here. The excerpt below is from Ibn Jubayr’s travel account of a visit to Sicily. The Arabic text of Ibn Jubayr can be downloaded in pdf form here. Since my grandfather (hence the name Varisco) came from near Palermo, I take great pleasure in providing his account here.

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Saudi Arabia’s ‘historic opportunity’: "To rejoice or not rejoice!"

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Do they really pay these ‘scholars’ for such depth? 

“… it goes without saying that a more influential and assertive Riyadh helps Washington achieve its overall foreign policy goals in the region, most urgent of which is checking Iran’s power and preventing it from becoming a nuclear power state.
So what is this new Saudi opportunity all about? It starts in Syria…
…  turning a blind eye to Syria’s mischief and connection to Iran is now all over.
Abdullah’s recent statement suggests that Saudi Arabia is no longer viewing its relations with Syria in the same light. The House of Saud has finally decided instead to take advantage of the vulnerability of the Syrian regime and grab the great opportunities presented by the crisis it is facing:
First, with Assad potentially gone (or with his role transformed), Saudi Arabia could find a “natural” ally in a new, Sunni-dominated government in Damascus, and consequently extend its influence in the Levant. Equally, if not more, important, with a new Syrian political order that is friendly to the Saudis, Iran will lose a gigantic gateway to the Arab world and therefore find it much harder to fulfill its goals in the Middle East. This will allow the kingdom’s Lebanese allies to breathe again.
Second, Saudi Arabia could assume an undisputed leadership role in the Arab world and the region, now that Syria is facing an existential crisis, Egypt is in what could be a lengthy transitional stage in its politics, and Iraq’s politics are dangerously paralyzing and unstable…
But the kingdom knows very well that if the Syrian regime falls, there will be inherent risks during the transition, all of which will require prudent but also forward-looking Saudi statesmanship and crisis management. On the security front, things could (but not necessarily) turn ugly if Assad goes, with sectarian fighting inside Syria spilling over to Lebanon and other parts of the Middle East.
At home, the Saudi leadership cannot pressure the Syrian regime too much because it knows that it is in an awkward, hypocritical position (the kingdom is second to none when it comes to denial of political rights and freedoms, especially to women, in the Middle East). Its vocal opposition could awaken a so-far relatively dormant Saudi population, especially its Shiite part in the Eastern province.
Because of the risks and uncertainties of the Syrian crisis, Saudi Arabia is aware that it has to engage in a very delicate balancing act. Too much pressure could backfire. Too little could see the opportunity for greater regional leadership and containment of Iranian influence slip away. In its place, Turkey could step in as a major power broker and manage Syria’s political future.
The current upheaval in Syria and shifting sands in the greater Middle East is one of the most challenging foreign policy tasks that Saudi Arabia has had to deal with since its creation in 1932 – and it’s one whose completion is of great concern to the US as well. If it succeeds in setting itself up for leadership in Syria, the kingdom could become a revived, major player on the regional scene, and Washington could rejoice ….  If Saudi Arabia fails in this balancing act, it risks becoming far less relevant and falling well behind nations such as up-and-coming Egypt and rising Turkey. And then Tehran would rejoice.”

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Beginning & End!

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Categories: Arab Blogs Tags: , , , ,

ICG advice to the Syrian ‘opposition’: ‘Don’t be the following …..!’

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“… Divided, all too often over issues of personality and ego, members of the exiled opposition in particular have projected the image of an “alternative” all too reminiscent of Iraq. Many have taken initiatives – campaigning as leaders-to-be, convening conferences hosted by partisan states, meeting with U.S. officials, suggesting a future radical shift in foreign policy – that damage their legitimacy on the ground and prompt protesters to reject them rather than agree on a division of labor.
In some cases, lack of grassroots support has pushed opposition figures to compensate by overinvesting in their reputation and recognition abroad. This trend, off-putting to most Syrians, ought not be encouraged….”

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Links 31 August 2011

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Colonel Qadhafi’s Tech Support

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This is a guest post by Paul Mutter. 

Reporting from Tripoli, The Wall Street Journal’s Paul Sonne and Margaret Coker reveal the depths of collusion between Colonel Qadhafi’s spooks and their foreign tech support:

The recently abandoned room is lined with posters and English-language training manuals stamped with the name Amesys, a unit of French technology firm Bull SA, which installed the monitoring center. A warning by the door bears the Amesys logo. The sign reads: “Help keep our classified business secret. Don’t discuss classified information out of the HQ.”

Amesys of Bull SA was just one of those whose wares were on display. Narus, a subsidiary of Boeing, the ZTE Corporation of China and a small (but apparently important) South African firm called VASTech SA (Pty) were all represented. Other names will likely follow. But so far, they all are following the warning on the Amesys sign, offering limp responses to the WSJ’s inquiries, or just declining to comment.

But the HQ records speak for themselves: the government recorded thousands of online conversations, phone calls and web histories, from regular citizens to human rights activists (those who had overseas contacts were priority targets, of course).

In the end, Colonel Qadhafi’s tech support was a waste of money, even after his government killed the internet in March to try and cut off Libyans from each other and the outside world. Libya’s uprising has apparently succeeded in toppling Qadhafi’s government, and his IT department is nowhere to be found.

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A new Zionist trick in Western media

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There is a new Zionist media trick about the Middle East as of late.  Zionists plant a story in the Saudi and Hariri press.  And then they cite that planted story as fact and then it gets circulated. There was such a story weeks ago in the Saudi junk media about a supposed meeting between Iranian representatives and Syrian opposition figures.  So now, the reliable recipient of Hariri propaganda, Georges Malbrunot, recycles the story.  So now, the Hariri media are now re-publishing their own story but this time they are citing the authority of Le Figaro.

PS I just realized that I had written about this phenomenon before.

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