Sunday, February 27, 2011

Sunday Push, with a FFI bonus

Topic Post No. 1001 in the history of CompHyp.

Some of them have even been serviceable.

With that out of the way, here's your Open Thread for this week.

The usual rules apply: Play Nice.

As always, thank you All for coming here.


Freedom for Iran: Bag Job on the Oppos

State Security (in one of its many guises) has carried off Mousavi and Karoubi and their families. Beatings, arrests, and then disappearances seem to be the order of the day.

Michael Ledeen the details.

It all looks pretty bad.

Freedom for Libya: Beware Pretenders

Just about the entire 'International Community' is now calling for M. Qaddafi to go; to resign, to be arrested, or to simply expire (different voices, different messages). Not a whole lot of listening going on in the regime about that, though.

Meanwhile, the insurrectionists in the east of Libya (Cyrenaica) are attempting to form a provisional government. Luck to them on that:
It was not immediately clear how much support the proposed provisional leadership commands.
So... if Libya does ever manage to dispose of the Qaddafi regime... this would be the go-to for forming a replacement government, right?

Not so fast, there.

You see, there is a little bit of history regarding what happened at the end of the Libyan monarchy (the one brought down by Qaddafi's coup way back in 1969): King Idris was vulnerable not only because he didn't go along with the Pan-Arabist and Arab Nationalist mood of the times; He also never fathered a surviving male heir.

To manage this inconvenience, King Idris had in 1956 appointed his nephew Hasan ar Rida as-Senussi as Crown Prince. Near the end, King Idris had actually agreed to abdicate (mostly due to his ill-health) with the new monarch to be installed on 2.September, 1969. Qaddafi's coup struck on 1.September of that year. Hasan is gone now, having endured arrest, destruction of his property, and a stroke... the last of which being the only reason he ever got out of Libya (to the UK) in 1988. He died in 1992, but just prior to his demise he formally appointed his son Muhammad as-Senussi as heir to his claim. He's still amongst the living (no small achievement given the Qaddafi regime's habit of killing off rivals), residing in exile, and has recently been willing to modestly speak on behalf of the insurrection against Qaddafi. His declared opinion on a possible return of the monarchy is that he and his family 'are in the service of the Libyan people' but that the return is not a priority. He is calling for a restoration of the Libyan Constitution, although how and to what extent is not clear as he also calls for open elections.

But just to make things more difficult, the situation in the monarchy-in-exile isn't exactly cut-and-dried: There is an alternate claimant to the throne.

That would be the 1st cousin twice removed of the late King, the also-named Idris al-Senussi. He's the third son by the second wife of the late Prince Abdallah, the advisor to King Idris who was given the task of undoing Qaddafi's coup and restoring the monarchy. That banner has now passed to this Idris and he has made a career of selling himself to anyone who will listen as being the head of the government-in-exile and chief of counter-revolutionary activities. He's also a greedy opportunist without peer.

My gentle advice, were anyone to be listening, would be that the United Kingdom (or the United States of America, and any other member of the 'International Community' that is looking for leverage over the situation) be very very careful who they choose to associate with in the Libyan exile community. Muhammad, styled HRH, might be a good ally and a good voice of tradition to the people of Libya. Idris, self-styled HRH, is almost certainly more trouble than he is worth unless a place for him in a supporting role can be found... and very carefully managed. Otherwise, I'd say to pay him no heed.

Besides, the real decision is happening on the ground in Libya right now. All this other talk is simply positioning for the future... which for Libya is hopefully a bright future.


Caveat: many links above are from Wikipedia and used for convenience only. Please source all citations there directly.

Friday, February 25, 2011

placeholder post

Yep, it is busy here. Not in a good way.

'It would be more fun if we could drink beer.' comes to mind.

hasta maƱana


Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Freedom for Libya: Air Force defections

The Qaddafi regime has stooped to ordering in airstrikes on the protesters and army renegades who are supporting them in Benghazi, but not all the pilots are willing to bomb their fellow countrymen.

The talk today at the U.N. (and other venues) is of a no-fly zone over Libya, but the why and how of that are still openly being debated. To keep out mercenaries and supplies to the regime? To shoot down any Libyan aircraft being used against the area in revolt? To prevent Qaddafi and fellow goons from making away with their loot?

If the call is confirmed by a UNSC resolution, it pretty much requires an American intervention. Naval air is available and in-region... but is there the political will in Washington?

Freedom for Iran: Protests continue

Somehow, some way, the protesters are able to keep at it in spite of having almost no meaningful outside support.

That "in spite" part should be changed. If the Obama administration lacks the fortitude to do so, then they should at least stay out of the way and let the Europeans do what can be done. Sure would be nice if Japan weighed in, but that's not likely to happen unless the violence grows worse... if even then... hazukashii desu, yo (shameful!).

Not only influencing North Africa...

The successes in Tunisia and Egypt are not only influencing popular movements in North Africa and the Arabian states; the proof that people power can bring down an autocrat is being used as an example to motivate others in need as well... but there is a price.

Don't look for kleptocrats like Mugabe in Zimbabwe (Rhodesia) to let such things go unchallenged. He's the same ilk as Qaddafi in Libya, a thug, in power only by controlling the state security forces and by cutting in key supporters on a share of the loot. That's why he had everyone at the seminar arrested, and that's why things won't change until the campaign to get rid of him moves out of seminars and into the streets.

Housley on Hiz'b at the border

Recommended reading (and viewing, of the video segment):

CompHyp friend and FOXNews reporter Adam Housley has this report on Hiz'ballah (Hezbollah) smuggling activities in Mexico targeting access to the U.S.A.

It's a good report, and one that covers a topic with several facets (Narco, anti-Americanism, GWOT). Yes, they really are using bases in Venezuela and contacts in Nicaragua and Mexico to try and get to you...

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Sunday Late Push

Here's your Open thread for Sunday.

Use this wisely, folks. The usual rules apply: play nice.

As always, thank you All for coming here.


More information is becoming available...

... about the protests in Bahrain. After the rough stuff, now some signs of something to talk about.

... and about how the Libya revolt is going; it is becoming a tribal fight, it seems to be moving into Tripoli and cracks are starting to show in the facade.

More here as I know more.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Some Thoughts on Three Insurrections

I've but a moment to write here but, as I've been piecing together the fragments of news about the continuing insurrections spreading across North Africa and the Middle East, I've been struck by how little except anti-government motivation the ongoing uprisings share.

Yemen: This is really just the latest continuation of the South Yemen (Aden) revolt-in-all-but-name against the Saleh regime that has been going on for years. The motivations there are those of a post-colonial South born of both socialist and liberal desires against a classic Arab Nationalist regime... which can of course be quite socialist (cf. Egypt in the past) but has no tolerance for Socialists of the former-Soviet-inspired type, at least not in their own population. There is also an ongoing Islamist insurgency across the North and South that has in equal measure cut deals with the movement-anti-government types and with the Saleh regime. So there really isn't the "ordinary people against the autocratic regime" situation there was in Egypt, or Tunisia before that. The current circumstances are just an opportunity.

Libya: I have scoffed before as to the possiblity that a genuine popular uprising could stand a chance against the al-Qaddafi (al-Gaddafi) regime. That may actually have been premature of me, although the Libyan State Security forces have happily killed eighty-some-odd protesters so far in Benghazi and other parts of the east so far. But there is some real determination in the demonstrations to the point that they are on the verge of making eastern Libya a region in full revolt. There is so little news reporting possible, though, that it is rather unclear as to *who* is doing the demonstrations; Islamists? a Shopkeepers revolt? the entire population irrespective of politics? No good way to know, at least for now. The other issue is that the protests have not spread to the capital city, Tripoli. While it is almost always better for a mass popular uprising to start in the outlying areas, it can't make the essential jump from being a local insurrection to being one that brings down the regime unless the movement has enough strength to at least threaten the seat of power. If that comes, then you may politely discard any respect for my previous dismissal of possible success and cheer for what would be one heck of a revolution. We'll sort out exactly who the revolutionaries are after they win, ne?

Bahrain: This one is the hard one. There really is a revolt in progress, and the regime really is making the protesters pay in blood for every day in the streets, but... there is a lot more to what is happening than merely the loyalists gunning down the demonstrators (about 5 dead, all in, as of yesterday; lots of wounded, though). The matter is vastly more difficult for the following reasons: because Bahrain was actually the regional leader in the advancement of civil rights under a monarchy from 1999 up to 2008; because the territory of Bahrain is still claimed by Iran as part of their sovereignty (cf. Saddam Hussein's claim vs. Kuwait as a model); and because the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia considers the monarchy on Bahrain and indeed the land itself to be one of its vested interests (the island is connected to Arabia by a causeway, for one reason; as a buffer against Iranian pretensions of 'owning the Gulf' as another). I'd like to say that the demonstrations are at least well-intentioned, that they are genuine, popular and of a liberalizing intent. I can't. I know all too well how much it serves Iranian interests to pour fuel on the discontent held by the (roughly) 70% of the Bahraini population that share Shi'a Islam and near-brotherly ethnic ties with the coastal regions of Iran. If the Pasdaran (IRGC) isn't shoveling in all it has to stir things up on Bahrain, then they've really lost a step. This is a golden opportunity for them to make the monarchy and the Saudis look very, very bad... and they might end up controlling the place at least in part if things go completely out of control.


There are, of course, several other movements and insurrections happening across the region. I'm not discounting any of them; I've just little to add today about those other areas. You shouldn't overlook them, though. Jordan, Algeria, there are more, and reports do occasionally penetrate the all-too-inattentive mass media from time to time.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Not all demonstrations happen in the streets...

...some happen in the halls of Parliament.

This hasn't been the best of weeks for this author; perhaps you, the reader, also have been having a tough go of things? Well, compared to what Kan Naoto souri-daijin (Prime Minister N. Kan of Japan) is up against, we'd best not be out begging for sympathy. He's going to need all there is available:
Kan, Japan's fifth premier since 2006, told reporters in the evening he is not considering going back to the "old way of doing politics."

But despite Kan's renewed resolve, more DPJ lawmakers began speaking out that his resignation may be inevitable, a day after 16 lawmakers of his Democratic Party of Japan, who are affiliated with party veteran Ichiro Ozawa, launched a revolt.
I'd say that's a dangerous revolt, too. That "party veteran" comment is kind of inappropriate about Johnny-come-lately to the DPJ Ozawa Ichirou, notorious political opportunist and kingmaker, who is under reprimand by the party (related to indictments for political funds misappropriation). He's been around forever, politically, but has switched parties and factions more times than is easily counted.
The rift in the DPJ has widened after the leadership proposed this week that Ozawa's party membership be suspended due to a political funds scandal, for which he has been indicted. Ozawa has denied any wrongdoing and has repeatedly said he will prove his innocence in court.

It is unclear whether Ozawa masterminded the revolt.
Oh, please.

Don't insult him, or our intelligence.

If he didn't mastermind the revolt, he damn well should have.

...because it might well work.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Further evidence of the influence of CompHyp.

In between all the other matters I get to talk about, having something lighthearted and yet of some good use is always a joy. This is one such moment.

You might recall I was a bit direct with Her Majesty's Prime Minister a few weeks back, re: the failure to maintain properly the Chief Mouser to the Cabinet Office:
This isn't hard, Mr. Cameron.

The resolution is even good media optics.

Consider it a sop to the Traditionalist Right of the Party, if you must.

Something with sharp claws would be of use shredding those unreasonable budgetary requests from holdover Public Servants anyway.

I'll send you the contact information for a rescue centre in London.

Get a cat.
Well, it seems this ended well after all.

The new cat at No. 10 is Larry (Lawrence, more formally, I'm told), a four-year old tabby from Battersea Dogs and Cats Home. Yes, a rescue. One with superb mousing skills as well, and an also-welcome willingness to claw up news reporters uncivil enough to pick him up without asking. OK, maybe that last part is outside the usual job requirements...

For once, if ever, a politician has made a decision that we wholeheartedly support and applaud.

Bravo, Mr. Cameron. Well played.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Freedom for Iran: Back into the streets

This last week has seen continuing protests in Yemen and Egypt (even after Mubarak was shown the door by the Army), and new outbreaks in Algeria and a few other places as well... there were even some hopes for a rising in Libya, but not much chance of that, really...

...but the big show, the one that matters because it just *might* work, is in Iran.

Today, the people tried again. Not the biggest protests, by far, but the people are back in the streets.

A live stream from Tehran Bureau (WGBH of PBS) is available here. The first hours looked to be less than promising, but...
Iran Standard Time (IRST), GMT+3:30

4:40 p.m. Al Arabiya is also reporting that Mousavi and Rahnavard have joined the protesters.
Now things get interesting, again.

The list of cities where protests are being held is impressively long, by the way. (scroll down to the first post on the live thread to see it) What that may mean is that the one thing missing from the last major push by the 'Green Movement', an effective spread of the protests outside Tehran to create a nation-wide sense of opposition, may be happening.

Here's hoping so.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Sunday Evening Push

OK... who put Monday directly after Wednesday last week...?


It has been one of those weekends that looks a whole lot like the work week here. Hope yours went better.

Here's your Open thread for Sunday, just in case you've something to say about it. ...Or about all the other things happening out there in the wide world.

Use this wisely, folks. The usual rules apply: play nice.

As always, thank you All for coming here.


Here are some brief links of things passed over the last couple of days:

Switzerland continues to show remarkable good sense on matters of a free people maintaining arms.

A series of rounds of hostage releases in Colombia has freed four of the many, many hostages of the FARC. I'd like to say it is the beginning of freedom for all the kidnapped... but it likely is not. A one-off or just a step forward.

Meanwhile, fan favorite Hugo Chavez continues to make a mockery of himself. Just for reference sake... Chavez couldn't carry Hosni Mubarak's briefcase. Sure would be nice if the people of Venezuela were a little more motivated to show him the door after seeing how things went in Egypt, though.

Ayman Nour of Egypt's al-Glad (Tomorrow Party) should have more sense than to be saying things like this, especially in the media. Unless, of course, he is proposing returning Sinai to Israel... (Boy, that wouldn't make it a minute in the court of public opinion, but again, it sure would be nice.)

Friday, February 11, 2011

Freedom for Egypt: The first step on a long road

In liberty-seeking civil uprisings, 'hated dictator' is the focus of demonstrators' anger. Whether he is really hated, or not; His presence is the symbol of the enduring old order.

In this case, that symbol is now gone.
Hosni Mubarak has decided to step down as president of Egypt.

In an announcement on state TV, Vice-President Omar Suleiman said Mr Mubarak had handed power to the military.


Mr Suleiman said Mr Mubarak had handed power to the high command of the armed forces.

"In the name of God the merciful, the compassionate, citizens, during these very difficult circumstances Egypt is going through, President Hosni Mubarak has decided to step down from the office of president of the republic and has charged the high council of the armed forces to administer the affairs of the country," he said.

"May God help everybody."

Mr Mubarak has already left Cairo and is in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh where he has a residence, officials say.
Note: For the people of Egypt, the youth in the streets and the long-suffering advocates of democracy, this is just the first step on a long road; one that may branch with some choices a dead end... but... at least one path leads to real freedom.

Now the real work to reach that goal begins in earnest.

"May God help everybody", indeed.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

until Friday (Update2: Freedom for Egypt)

Obligations elsewhere have once again grabbed my available time. Should clear up by tomorrow, though.

See you all here, on Friday.

'till then, be well and safe.




OK, this hit the media, so here you are:

It is day 17 of the protests and Mubarak may be going out:
Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak is to make an address on national television, amid suggestions that he is preparing to step down.
How the Army and the administrative parts of the regime deal with this is the gamble for all the marbles, folks. They need to meet the protester's demands at least in principle, but not hand the keys to al-Ikhwan (the MB) *any* one group. Transition, real and practical transition that leads to a real chance at democracy, is what will be needed.

Here's hoping Egypt gets it.


(and then Will in Comments fields this while I'm typing... oh, with a different link but same message.)

Update 2: No deal. It is only a partial devolution.
Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak has said he will stay in office and transfer all power only after September's presidential election.

His comments in a national TV address confounded earlier reports that he was preparing to stand down immediately.

Mr Mubarak said he would delegate some powers to Vice-President Omar Suleiman, but the details of this remain unclear.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Freedom for Egypt: Protests regaining strength

That's not the line a number of major media sources have trotted out the last couple of days. Those reports said the protests were petering out (and even NPR subscribed to such thinking in part this morning), but then much of the media has shown a remarkable willingness to repeat what they are told by vested interests...

Here's how things are going, today:
CAIRO, Feb 8 (Reuters) - The protest movement demanding the downfall of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak showed no signs of flagging on Tuesday, filling Tahrir Square in central Cairo in defiance of the government for the 12th straight day.

More first-time protesters came out, saying they had seen through what they called lies by the state media, and hundreds were streaming in after work to join the crowds.
This matters a lot. Flash-in-the-pan uprisings don't change the system. (although if violent enough, they can destroy it. *Not* the case, here.) Persistent, motivated, and organized... that's what is needed. A suitable crucible by which a mass movement finds its own leaders and promotes them with sufficient strength to bargain effectively with the regime.


Also, in the commentary (at Commentary, appropriately enough), Max Boot continues to develop the "let's try" side of the argument :
At this point, the safest option may well be to make a clean break with Mubarak, inaugurate a transition government, lift the state of emergency, and allow the full blooming of democratic politics. Most analysts knowledgeable about Egyptian politics believe that, under those conditions, the Brotherhood will emerge as a minority party; it has flourished only in an atmosphere of repression because the mosque has been the one part of Egyptian society not fully controlled by the state.
It will be a challenge, but I'd call that a good goal.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Northern Territories Day

February 7th is Northern Territories Day in Japan.

This is the annual reaffirmation that Japan holds dear its sovereign rights over the islands of the Northern Territories that, contrary to existing recognition even at the time, were occupied by the then-Soviet Army *after* the August 15th 1945 Japanese statement of surrender... and never returned.

Every year, rallies are held; one in Toukyou (Tokyo) which was keynoted by Kan souri daijin (Prime Minister N. Kan) and the other on Hokkaidou from whose easternmost tip the ill-taken islands can be plainly seen.
Japan has designated Feb. 7 as "Northern Territories Day," saying that a treaty dating back to that day in 1855 supports its claim to the islands.

Kan was the top speaker at a government-backed rally of about 1,500 people in Tokyo that has been held annually since 1981 to mark the anniversary. He vowed that Japan will not back down from its claim and said visits there by Russian leaders are "an unforgivable outrage."
The Russian government has recently made the comment that "(Russia) is tired of discussing the issue".

Very well... if that's how they want to play it... every, *EVERY* single negotiation between Japan and Russia, every fisheries agreement, every request by the Russians for Japanese investment, hell, every matter that could possibly be discussed should be placed on hiatus with a simple note:
(Japan) is tired of discussing the issue as well. There will be no further discussions *on any matter* until the Northern Territories are returned to Japan.
After that, then we talk Peace Treaty.

After THAT, then we talk trade and investment.

Any effort to talk around the ban, to find Parliamentary channels or to involve business interests, should be ruthlessly ferreted out and made public. If such attempts violate Japanese law, arrests should be made.

I'd even argue for a suspension of existing trade, but a couple of matters are likely out of reach unless an embargo were to be passed: The 'multinational company' cover that the Sakhalin oil and gas project operates under is probably strong enough that business interests in the Japanese trading companies with minority shares in the project could claim to be unfairly penalized were their delivery contracts to be threatened; The Russian business interests in Vladivostok are almost entirely dependent upon the import trade from Japan, mostly of used vehicles. Again, closing that door likely harms friends and does nothing to motivate Moscow (the Putin clique has a history of hating the Vladivostok interests and the feeling seems to be mutual).

But the "we are tired" argument should be a clarion call on this matter. Letting the Russians get away with saying it, much less tolerating their occupation of the islands, is unacceptable. Period.

Freedom for Egypt: The Way Forward

Linked here with no further comments other than my agreement and offer to help where I can:

A review and analysis by Richard Fernandez of Sandmonkey's The Way Forward posting. R. Fernandez, for those of you who don't know of him, brings with him the experience of the Philippines rising that brought down Marcos.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Sunday *ARRGH*

Yes, this should be the Open Thread for the week.

But first, a moment of utter frustration, expressed in three parts:

. Claims are Preah Vihear temple has been damaged during continued cross-border clashes:
Cambodia says a disputed 11th Century temple - a UN World Heritage site - has been damaged during continued cross-border clashes with Thai troops.

Part of Preah Vihear temple collapsed after a Thai bombardment, officials said. Thailand has not commented.
.. A mutiny in a part of the Sudan Armed Forces (the North army) went into the streets in Malakal, Upper Nile State, when soon to be Southern-nationals refused redeployment orders to the North, and then spread:
The mutiny in Sudan's army first broke out on Thursday in the politically sensitive southern town of Malakal (ed: spelling; error in original).

Twenty people were killed during heavy fighting, including two children and a Sudanese driver working for the UN refugee agency UNHCR, who were caught in the crossfire.

The fighting then spread to both Melut and the oil-rich settlement of Paloich on Friday and Saturday.

At least 30 people were killed, all of them soldiers, according to state officials.
... The Egypt Crisis has had its first round of 'negotiations' and the media is already lumping all the anti-regime factions together. This is not promising. The meeting was to try and find a path to democratic reform. One of the groups attending is about as undemocratic as you can get:
The banned Muslim Brotherhood and other groups took part in landmark talks with the government after 13 days of street protests aimed at forcing President Hosni Mubarak to resign.
The other groups, not counting ElBaradei's useful front for the Islamists, had something to talk about and I hope the regime listened, but giving al-Ikhwan a foot in the door of the process is just asking for trouble...

((insert vocal expression of frustration here))



Enough of that.

Now it's your turn. Here's your Open thread for Sunday.

Use this wisely, folks. The usual rules apply: play nice.

As always, thank you All for coming here... and putting up with a little frustration today.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

and... Serbia?

Note to readers: you have not time travelled back to 1848. There are no riots spreading across Europe... as of yet.

But no competent insurrectionist ever lets a good opportunity go to waste. That, by the way, is the explanation for the mass anti-government protests in Belgrade.

Watch out for the folks behind this:
Clearly referring to events in Egypt and Tunisia, Mr Nikolic told the protesters: "Elsewhere in the world people are telling governments they should listen to the people.

"I know you are disenchanted and bitter over this dishonest government which is tormenting you. Let us torment government instead."

He warned that if elections were not called in two months' time, he would begin a sit-in outside parliament.

Mr Nikolic - formerly the head of the ultra-nationalist Radical Party - founded the Serbian Progressive Party less than three years ago. But his popularity is now such that he poses a serious threat to the government, our (BBC's) correspondent says.
(bold added by me)

That would be the Srpska Radikalna Stranka (Serbian Radical Party; SRS), a group famously blinded by their nationalist and exclusionist thinking. In fairness, Tomislav Nikolic did break with them in 2008 to form the Srpska Napredna Stranka (Serbian Progressive Party; SNS) but it isn't really clear how far toward moderate he and his party have moved. They talk a good game, but make no compromises on Kosovo or Bosnia matters... indeed, would reopen Croatian disputes if they could. Consider the jury to still be out on this lot.

But they might just scare a little good sense into the current administration. They could use a little something to concentrate their attention on doing their jobs.

Freedom for Egypt: Second Saturday

Yes, this thread title does make it official: Just as I've come out on the side of the forces of Liberty during Iran's protests and many other movements against autocracy and / or theocracy, I'm fully on the side of liberterian elements in the demonstrations in Egypt. Credit Michael J. Totten and friends of his like "Sandmonkey" for convincing me there is another possible outcome other than M. ElBaradei's group playing Mensheviks to al-Ikhwan's Bolsheviks. It is going to take a lot of hard work, but it is possible, I think. A risk worth taking, in any case.

Questions about who takes over if President Mubarak resigns from more than just his Party office at the NDP (which also meant good riddance to the rest of the Politburo including his son, Gamal) have come my way. The easy answer is "whoever the Army picks", but that actually isn't correct.

There are two possibilities:

. under the Constitution, The Speaker of the Majilis Al-Sha’ab ('People's Assembly'; Lower House of Parliament) would step in as a caretaker until a new election. This has happened once before, after President A. Sadat was assassinated. If it were to happen after a resignation at this time, the man stepping up would be Ahmad Fathi Sorour.

.. but the law also recognizes the President naming a succession by office, which would make newly-minted Vice President O. Suleiman the next in line.

I'll take a long-odds guess and say I think that in the case of a resignation, the Parliament would move quickly to endorse the Vice President, but that for at least a few days the Speaker would caretake. In the case of a removal (a functional coup by the Army) all bets would be off.


Also, as referred to in that story linked above, the Americans are having more than a little trouble finding a single voice on this matter. That best get sorted out soon, but I'm not particularly hopeful at this point.

Friday, February 4, 2011

And in other stories... they say in the news business when they gloss over a bunch of other reports that didn't make the editor's cut for airtime, here are some of the stories you've likely missed with all the focus being on the Arab world and certain countries' economic issues (all links below courtesy the fabulous AlertNet):

Madagascar: New road map can end Madagascar leadership row - SADC. I'll believe it when it works. This is, what?, power-sharing plan number six or so?

Congo: Gunmen attack airport in Congo's copper capital. No, not in the Kivus. This was down in Lubumbashi in Katanga Province; historically a hot spot for trouble, but recently the large security presence for the mining industry made it a pretty quiet place. That may not be holding, though.

Kenya: FACTBOX-Kenyan cabinet rocked by Kibaki's judicial nominations. Further evidence that the Kibaki-Odinga powersharing agreement is getting all the credence paid to it by the stronger party that usually happens in such cases... in other words, none to speak of. This will be a big problem if a constitutional crisis takes full form before the elections scheduled for next year.

and over in Southeast Asia...

Thailand / Cambodia: Thai, Cambodian troops in deadly clash near temple. Again. I've covered this dispute here at CompHyp before at some length, and it is still an open risk of major conflict between the two countries. The Royal Thai Army spokesman says it looks to have been a misunderstanding that led to the exchange of fire, and then an artillery duel, and that:
"There is no point in fighting because it could escalate and damage relations... We don't want that."
No kidding... especially when such an incident happens during a meeting in Cambodia between the Foreign Ministers of the two nations. Well, now they've really got something to talk about.

More stories, and more details on things, as time allows.

Egypt: Second Friday (Updated)

First off, a clarification: in yesterday's thread, I commented that the Army will likely intervene in cases of violence by pro-regime groups against anti-regime groups. *This is probably only true at the rank and file level.* The troopers out in the streets making the decision at the moment they are caught in the path of any onslaught. I am told that they, and most mid-rank officers, really do take their reputation as 'defenders of the people and the nation' seriously. Where this may be going awry is at much higher levels... there are at least a couple of reports that some elements of the leadership in both the security services and the military may have signed off on letting the pro-regime crowds gather and motivate. Whether that means there are pro- and anti- regime elements inside the military command structure, or simply that the old patronage and relationship links bind a (hopefully) few serving higher level officers more closely to chums in the NDP than to their national service, or something else... remains to be seen. It isn't institutional, however. The Defense Minister and other military leaders joined the forces deployed at the Tahrir Square demonstration and the demonstrators were heard to chant "The army and people are united." (see article, below)

Now then, on to today: I can do no better than to direct your attention to the BBC's coverage today... 'Day of departure' rally in Egypt. There will also be updates on their "breaking news" ticker as well if something goes sideways... although reports are Friday Prayers passed with far less rabblerousing than occurred last week.


Updates, late Friday 'blog time:

The number of attacks on journalists has continued to rise, and not all the claims blame rioting mobs... there are signs that security force members (Interior Ministry, in particular) are party to some of the attacks. RSF (Reporters sans Frontieres; Reporters without Borders) is keeping tally and trying to get someone to listen.

There may have been an assassination attempt against Vice President Suleiman. The reports seem clear enough, but the sourcing is still pretty weak. More about this is watching for, however...

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Egypt: Second Wednesday go Thursday

It's been ugly.

Likely you've seen the reports of the pro-Mubarak protesters finally figuring out how to get at the anti-Mubarak protesters in the square... and the day-long rioting... amazingly, even after a re-count overnight, it seems only a handful actually died although there are reports from 600 to over 2,000 injured enough to need care.

I've talked about 'orchestration' in previous reports here, and usually I was implying something about the motivation or methods of the Oppos; Wednesday's mayhem in Cairo was the other kind of 'orchestration'. Some one on the Loyalist side figured out that (a) the Army isn't stopping anyone, really, and (b) both the Army and some more moderate voices in the Oppos have said it is time for the demonstrations to wind down, so some number of Oppos supporters had packed it in. That left, I'll wager they thought, rather fewer people that didn't deserve a walloping standing around the Square. Time to go crack heads, by that line of thinking. So who gave the go-ahead and who arranged the details of massing the counter-protest? Not the NDP (the political party of the regime) itself, but probably some of the Ward Bosses and their Leg-breakers who have made a pretty good trade over the years delivering elections for the NDP.

The good news, if there really is any after all that, is that even the new Prime Minister has apologized to the people and
...pledged to investigate the violence, calling it a "fatal error".
Indeed. The Army is now almost certain to side with the Oppos and fire on any Loyalist attempts at violence.


Also, just a reminder: There are several superb news feeds out of the region in English, mostly Israeli. Here's Haaretz Breaking News feed, which has been very good so far through this all.


Yesterday's News, but related: We spoke of Yemen being caught up in some of the echoes of all this, reigniting the near-perpetual anti-government protests (mostly in the South). Well, seems something came of that: President Saleh won't run for reelection in 2013, at least, so he says. A year is forever in politics in Yemen.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Egypt: Second Tuesday (Updated)

Here's where things are as of now (expect updates on this later):

The mass protests have formed, and they are indeed massive. Cairo protest may be in the hundreds of thousands; Alexandria and Suez are reporting thousands; other demonstrations are reported in the smaller cities and Upper Egypt.

Yesterday's Egypt Update here had news of Frank G. Wisner Jr. getting the call to act as a "representative" for the Obama administration. Just for fairness sake, here is FP's Josh Rogin's take on the choice: "...too close to Mubarak?".


Related item: It may be that an effort to forestall the growth of protests that have started in Jordan is underway. King Abdullah of Jordan has dismissed his cabinet and appointed a new prime minister amid large street protests. Luck on that. Having Jordan go up at the same time as Egypt, and yet no one in Syria thinking to burn down the House of Assad, is either an ugly coincidence or the best managed Islamist plot in decades. If the protests do continue to spread (Yemen doesn't count; the South hates the Northern government 24/7, they don't need inspiration) we'll have a clue, though. A spread to Syria would plausibly be a self-generated movement; A spread to Saudi Arabia would more likely be something orchestrated (and very short lived, in my opinion. The House of Saud does not tolerate disturbances.) A spread to Libya would be... well, who cares why?... great.


Update, end of day Tuesday, 'blog time:

Mubarak spoke to his media outlets... said a lot of what would be expected... about the only thing worth taking seriously is the 'promise' not to run as a candidate in the election coming this September and to step down from office after that election.

Note to Kyoudou (Kyodo wire service; Japan) and their AP partners: Getting the story WRONG doesn't help. Mubarak said he IS NOT running again.

Then... there is this. I have no reason to disbelieve Clarice Feldman, nor her now-attributed correspondent, but since the letter is one of opinion there isn't much to trace for authenticity. What I can say is, based on other sources, much of what is said about protest sizes, orchestration, police roles and the sense of how this is being a bit gamed all seem to be true or closely authentic opinion.

So we watch, we wait, and might I suggest keeping a deep suspicion of anyone who claims to be a "leader" of all this... political, regime, or opposition. I'm not sure there is a real leader. In fact, I'd like it better by far if there wasn't.

But there might be one. Look very carefully.