Hah! Not one but TWO posts this Sunday. ‘Lucky’ you, and ‘lucky’ me for having plenty to share with you.
Show of hands- who knew that Qaddafi’s slogan is “King of Africa’s Kings”? Because I certainly did not. Of course is this as interesting as his Amazon goddess personal guard? Or how the final acts of his dictatorship are starting to read like King Lear, with infighting amongst his brood?
In so much as in Benghazi, the key rebel stronghold, the derisive catchphrase is “Qaddafi: King of Africa’s Monkeys”. In the third month of armed hostilities with a U.N. no fly zone and air bombardment from the U.S. and France overhead, the rebels are keeping their zones together as best they know how.
Only tangentially related to the ongoing war- Qaddafi wrote a book! A Green Book, not unlike Mao’s Red Book (which some clever person has turned into an English language pdf?) Qaddafi outlines his tenents of good governance, which include women breastfeeding their babies for two years, mandatory education is coercive and sporting clubs are “rapacious social instruments” and day care violates a child’s natural rights.
(I liberated these nuggets from the cliff notes version, but don’t worry I’ll hand in an updated book report later on the Green Book as well as Qaddafi’s short story collection Escape to Hell and Other Stories (1998). )
It is the social organizing structures advocated by the Green Book, that are ostensibly helping people keep the peace in the rebel zones- allowing for the reopening of banks and stores.
The National Democratic Party, which has basically ruled the political scene since Sadat founded it in 1978, was officially abolished by the High Administrative Court on Saturday April 16th.
Of course it took the old NDP about a week to change their name (now the New National Party), locate a new headquarters (after protestors took it out in earlier protests), and declare themselves completely cleansed of the old- apologizing for past mistakes and promising not to do it again.
This may not be all the usual political malarkey- arrests of high ranking NDP officials has increased over the last week and two of former president Hosni Mubarak’s sons are currently in jail awaiting their corruption trial.
President al-Assad has agreed to repeal the emergency laws that have been a centerpiece of his political strategy for, oh, forty-eight years in an attempt to quell a wave of anti-establishment riots that have left almost 200 people dead.
Having initially gone in guns blazing, al-Assad seems to be backing up rapidly as this show of violence only trebled the volume of protests and escalated the demands. No one knows exactly how this will shake down, but everyone is waiting.
Protests against the current president Ali Abdullah Saleh continued, with 11 people wounded today, when the police fired live rounds into a mass demonstration in Change Square, Sanaa. The protests come even as opposition Joint Meeting Party sent a delegation to Saudi Arabia to meet with mediators over the situation.
Also props to President Saleh for most ridiculous thing to be uttered by a dictator this week: women who were protesting were violating Yemeni cultural norms that prohibit women mixing with men who are not direct relatives. Women activists responded by increasing their presence at the square. Although an interesting source suggests that at the (only) fundamental Islamist opposition group is giving their fellow protestors grief for the same thing.
Though the small country is ruled by an equally small monarchy- movements for change have been met with strident oppression. Demonstrators, lawyers, political activists, surgeons- the list is sadly long. The Bahraini opposition political group Wefaq National Islamic Society says that 499 people are currently in government custody in Bahrain, none of whom have been charged with crimes.
But the reason Bahrain has come to my attention particularly, is because the daughter of a prominent human rights activist has begun a hunger strike and has been videoing herself doing it. This is the clip from CNN:
In the video she says, among other things, that she seeks U.S. condemnation of Bahrain- not airstrikes, not invasions, but that the U.S. must denounce the Bahrani government in order for meaningful change to take place. The government hasn’t done that because Bahrain is a friend of Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia- though not really friends of the U.S. government, are enemies of Ahmadinejad. For the record the CIA is still testy that their puppet ruler Shah Pahlavi, installed in a coup against the popular nationalist government in Iran, was then overthrown in the 1980’s.
Zainab Alkhawaja has the right to her opinion of course, and I wish her nothing but luck (she was hospitalized recently- and refused an I.V. Reports suggest she is incredibly ill) I also support her right to make a statement, even as reporters harangue her for “not thinking about her daughter”. Men make political statements all the time without ever being called out for being fathers. I admire her for her dedication, if grisly, to her cause.
But Zainab has brought up the paradox that is being fiercely debated over as the U.S. continues to bomb in support of the rebels in Libya.
Given our history in the area, marked by a series of bloody so-called interventions for freedom, marked by terrible suffering and erasure of social and political practices; doesn’t it make more sense to provide humanitarian aid, to support people by giving access to information on organizing, on nation building, etc?
To use a more local example, would American independence have happened if the King of France wasn’t so broke?