ALGIERS (Reuters) – Algerian president Abdelaziz Bouteflika will soon release several thousand Islamists from prison to help draw a line under a conflict that killed an estimated 200,000 people, two prominent Islamists told Reuters.
Phi Beta Iota: Bahrain and Syria are “favorites” of the US Government, the one for its hospitality to a very large US military logistics presence, the other for rendition and torture and side deals here and there. Meanwhile, NATO bombs Libya without a declaration of war and targets its leader for assassination by bombing. It never seems to occur to NATO “leaders” that bombing a country into dysfunctionality is certain to send tens of thousands of displaced persons north into a European Union “border” that is out of control at the same time that it stops Libyan oil production and export. Iran is delusional in thinking that the Arab Spring is enhancing its influence, but the US is outrageously immoral and ineffective in failing to nurture the youth and their secular thirst for dignity, and in failing to execute Ambassador Mark Palmer’s brilliant plan to give all dictators a legal ethical exit strategy in Breaking the Real Axis of Evil–How to Oust the World’s Last Dictators by 2025. Meanwhile, everyone is ignoring the Assisi Peace Summit scheduled for October 2011, when that could in fact be the best means of validating and sustaining the gains for dignity and democracy in the Middle East, by forging inter-faith alliances against secular corruption.
Phi Beta Iota: The US Government (USG) is complicit in the Bahrain crack-down; the US presence in Bahrain is unwarranted, expensive, and an explicit reinforcement of one of the 42 dictators the USG loves to love. With respect to Libya, we doubt the Libyan rebels have any idea of the real reasons why France and the US want to leverage them to end the Gadhafi regimes independence with wanton violations of its sovereignty, violations that could also be construed as war crimes by NATO–there is a huge moral as well as legal difference between air space control and direct attacks on regime leadership locations. This would be a good time for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to read Ambassador Mark Palmer’s righteous book, Review: Breaking the Real Axis of Evil–How to Oust the World’s Last Dictators by 2025.
Today protests ignited throughout the West Bank and Jerusalem, jumpstarting the anniversary of the Palestinian Nakba on 15 May. 63 years ago, approximately 750,000 Palestinians were forcibly expelled from their homes to make way for the creation of the state of Israel with a Jewish majority.
Phi Beta Iota: The Bin Laden Show is expected to include false flag terror incidents around the world as part of the military-industrial campaign to avoid long-needed draconian cuts in intelligence, defense, and homeland security, all of them antonyms to their actual performance.
The reasons for the reluctance to hit the streets, many conclude, are that Palestinians are cynical about prospects of ending the Israeli occupation and skeptical their leaders can make the difference.
Phi Beta Iota: The US Government has a playbook, of this there is no doubt, but it also has no understanding what-so-ever of the digital natives that are catalyzing this revolution. US private deals with the Muslim Brotherhood and others dishonor and betray the youth whose secular instincts are precisely those most needed.
Phi Beta Iota: The general ignorance of the West at this moment in history is deeply disturbing. This is the second wave of modern public liberation (the first wave being Eastern Europe), and the West is unintelligent, incoherent, and lacking in holistic integrity.
As election centers across Saudi Arabia opened on April 23 for voters to register for forthcoming municipal elections, groups of women turned up asking to take part. As expected, they were turned away — women will not be able to stand or vote in September’s municipal elections — but just by showing up they had made their point.
Phi Beta Iota: The education and liberation of women has, over the course of history, been the single most influential factor in the advance of civilization. In combination with free cell phone/virtual Internet access for every person on the planet, this is core to the non-violent non-zero solution for the Earth as a Whole.
Egyptian Facebook activists visit MIT, representing a new non-violent movement in the Middle East.
Phi Beta Iota: Alvin Toffler said it first: (disseminated) information is a substitute for violence and a creator of revolutionary wealth. The pen is mightier than the sword, but only when it is shared.
Phi Beta Iota: CIA is good at throwing money around, bag-men scuttling in and out of official installations. What CIA is not good at–and what the Pentagon and the Department of State and Agency for International Development have not learned how to nurture–is “liberation technology.” Almost two months after the start of the MENA populist revolution, the US Government still has no idea that it can open up collect call satellite communications, provide satellite wi-fi, enable low-risk neighborhood communications, hand out $169 adapters that convert any cell phone into a satellite phone, or show people how to do steganography across Flickr, Amazon, and so on. Agile, they are not.
Phi Beta Iota: There is nothing revolutionary in the Tea Party, the Republican Party, or the Libertarian Party, for the simple reason that they are playing on the margins of the two-party tyranny and not at all serious about empowering all of the people all of the time [see Seven Promises].
Phi Beta Iota: In 1979 Joe Markowitz, who went on to be a decent director of the Community Open Source Program Office (COSPO), was doing a CIA analytic study on how to predict and evaluate revolution. He was given the thesis on predicting revolution by Robert Steele. Despite his good efforts, it is obvious that CIA and DIA have learned nothing since 1979. To think that Google Trends might be useful, when there is zero in the way of Human Intelligence (HUMINT) that is actually multi-cultural, multi-lingual, and historically grounded, merely illuminates the total vacuum at the top of US intelligence–with a handful of exceptions being kept in isolation, most US intelligence “leaders” are budget clerks that never actually learned how to “do” intelligence. They move money. They waste money. They are never held accountable. We can do much better at a third of the cost.
Phi Beta Iota: Egypt and Yemen are an axis of ignorance for the USA–not only does the USA not have a strategy–or even a means of creating a Whole of Government “appreciation” for the possibilities and necessities of fostering freedom in the Middle East and North Africa–but it also lacks any concept for multinational, multiagency, multidisciplinary, multidomain information-sharing and sense-making (M4IS2), the “acme of skill” in 21st warfare, what we labeled in the 1990′s “Information Peacekeeping: The Purest Form of War.”
Phi Beta Iota: Revolution 2.0 is at the beginning of the beginning. The following from the Battle of Algiers captures the situation perfectly:
Ben M’Hidi: It’s hard to start a revolution. Even harder to continue it. And hardest of all to win it. But, it’s only afterwards, when we have won, that the true difficulties begin. In short, Ali, there’s still much to do.
An impromptu game of soccer in the streets of the Old City of Sana'a in Yemen. "The conflict between the old and new generations certainly will not die down now that the storm has started," writes author Ali Al-Muqri.
Phi Beta Iota: TIME and Carnegie Endowment may be taking a great deal of Saudi money. It is hard to explain how TIME should emphasize religious wars when Muslims and Christians, Sunni and Shi’ite, stood shoulder to shoulder against the US-supported dictators; or how Carnegie Endowment could possibly justify a completely witless propaganda piece that is disconnected from reality on the ground. What makes all this pathetic is that the US Intelligence Community has been worthless throughout the past fifty years, sowing what one author calls a Legacy of Ashes, all the while being clueless about the Power of the Powerless. The spies, the techno-barons, and their child-analysts are long overdue for both GAO scrubbing and a severe reduction in funding. The US is not a Smart Nation. As we have noted before, the US President is operating in a strategic & intellectual vacuum….not for lack of knowledge across the Republic, but for lack of integrity in Washington–a failure not of imagination, but of outreach and openness. Congress and the White House went into this opportunity running on the fumes of aged ideology and military-industrial ingratiation to dictators and their armies. No intelligence, no integrity.
Phi Beta Iota: We’ve been watching, but outside of the UK blowing its overture to the Libyan rebels (who have it right–BUTT OUT) and the US flailing because no element of the US Government–and most especially the Department of State and the CIA–has a clue on how to deal with a) reality and b) the irrelevance of naked Emperors. Below are a few of the media headlines, but on balance we prefer the NIGHTWATCH commentaries that we post separately.
Phi Beta Iota: This is a very important observation. It’s not enough to displace the corrupt. One must be able to replace them with both integrity and intelligence (decision-support). Making a revolution is much easier than unscrewing centuries of Industrial-Era predation. This is one reason why–while finally recognizing that connecting everyone comes first–Phi Beta Iota stands as the ONLY network focused on what comes next: Electoral Reform, Smart Nations, Global Range of Gifts Table, and M4IS2 (Multinational, Multiagency, Multidisciplinary, Multidomain Information-Sharing and Sense-Making: creating the World Brain and Global Game so as to achieve a prosperous world at peace. It’s all connected. Any mob can make a revolution. It takes smart ethical people to address the root preconditions of that revolution and achieve the real and only lasting revolution, across the mind, heart, and soul of all humanity.
Phi Beta Iota: The problem is that both the union leaders and the Democratic party leaders sold out all of the workers when they took the bribes from the banking and corporate worlds. As Chuck Spinney has pointed out, Tea Partiers are incredibly naive and ignorant, having been funded and deceived by the Koch Brothers into championing their own demise. The revolution is going to happen completely apart from the existing political structure in the USA, because that structure is so corrupt, so inauthentic, as to be irrelevant to any serious discussion about the future of the United States of America.
Fatah, Hamas leaders incensed by decision to veto UN vote to condemn Israeli settlements, saying it reveals lie behind calls for democracy, freedom in Arab world. ‘We’ll appeal to General Assembly,’ says PLO secretary
“Whether you’re in Tunis or in Cairo or in Manama,” says Ala’a Shehabi, 30, a Bahraini economics lecturer and political activist, “young Arabs are all on the same wavelength.” In less than two months, this generation has already wrought political change on a scale not seen since the end of the Cold War.
Phi Beta Iota: It is quite clear that US politicians have no idea what is going on vis a vis “digital natives” across all boundaries. As Daniel Ellsberg lectured Henry Kissinger, “you become like a moron.”
Deep-seated social ills – repression from the top and political and economic frustrations from below – are at the core of protests sweeping the Arab world, much as they have been in revolutions throughout history.
The pundits now breezily call Iran’s 1979 revolution “Islamic.” But at the time, religious and secular, villagers and urbanites, educated and illiterate, all equally angrily, were marching in the streets and demanding the removal of the Shah. Iran’s future was as unknowable then as Egypt’s future is now.
“The power of Facebook is that our updates reach to everyone’s wall,” then-anonymous Ghonim told The Daily Beast in January when the page had racked up 375,000 followers. “Some of the videos we publish get shared on people’s walls more than 30,000 times. That’s how powerful a virus can be… Once it’s out, it goes everywhere. It’s unstoppable.”
But it’s not just the Egyptians who are undergoing this time of chaos. We’re all living in the collective chaotic field. What happens in one part of the field impacts the entire field. Our lives will also be changed by what’s going on in Egypt.
“This demonstration is a success because it’s been 10 years that people haven’t been able to march in Algiers and there’s a sort of psychological barrier,” said Ali Rachedi, the former head of the Front of Socialist Forces party. “The fear is gone.”
Riot police in Algiers dispersed thousands of people who had defied a government ban to demand that President Abdelaziz Bouteflika step down. A similar march in Yemen’s capital, Sanaa, calling for President Ali Abdullah Saleh to leave office was attacked by government supporters.
But what’s proving more consequential than access to information is our growing access to one another, human-to-human, enabled by the Internet and mobile tools. As the author Clay Shirky has consistently and presciently said: “We have historically overestimated the value of access to information and underestimated the value of access to one another.”
• One TechCrunch writer says don’t overstate the importance of social media. “Twitter and Facebook are indeed useful tools,” the piece says, “but they are not tools of revolution—at least no more than Paul Revere’s horse was.” People are the real killer app, says the writer. If the revolution had happened five years ago, we would be championing the role of mobile phones.
I mean, this revolution in Egypt didn’t happen because people decided to mount a Facebook campaign. It happened because there was real poverty in the country. There were real issues of food. And there was an authoritarian regime that had allowed this to happen, and clearly didn’t care about its people.
The ending of restrictions comes after Syria’s president, Bashar al-Assad, said he would push for change in the wake of the region’s unrest. While some Syrians view the lifting of the ban as a public-relations stunt, the response among the majority of young Syrians is the kind of enthusiasm the government was seeking.
Chanting “down with Mubarak”, “down with the regime”, the protesters vowed to mainting their occupation of Tahrir sq and their demonstrations until they bring Mubarak and his regime down, once and for all. They expect to bring millions to the streets in Cairo and across the nation in tomorrow’s Friday of Decision protest.
Thousands of workers of the Mahalla Textile Company held a strike today demanding better wages. According to the Center for Trade Union & Workers’ Services (CTUWS), 24,000 workers took part in the protest.
With popular rage sweeping the country, the pressure on the Mubarak regime, and uncertainty with it, are bound to increase. Friday will be another day of massive demonstrations. Already labor unions, government employees, judges and medical staff have been joining the protestors. The trend is likely to grow, but Mubarak has failed to judge the nation’s mood.
Across the Arab world, in countries like Egypt, Jordan, Yemen and Syria, people are on the march. Behind these displays of public power, there’s a communications revolution which knows no borders. Social media forums have become magnets for public discontent and longstanding regimes are suddenly looking shaky.
He said that the revolution in Egypt – which is sweeping all sectors of the Egyptian people, without external intervention, whether American or Iranian – is as important as the 2006 Lebanon war and the 2008 Gaza war, and will change the face of the region and impact the global balance of power.
However US culpability in Egypt may be downplayed, President Obama’s aggression against the poor civilians of Yemen holds a large responsibility for the Yemen Revolution. How many massacres will the US puppet regimes carry out?
AccessNow (www.accessnow.org), developer of the Global Proxy Cloud, instructs users around the world how to give their unused bandwidth to others in countries with strict blocks, or firewalls. Another internet-based effort, Telecomix, is organized through chat rooms. When the Internet and mobile networks were shut down on January 27, the group began instructing activists through faxes about how to use amateur radios and dial-up modems.
The first lesson from Tunisia is that revolution is possible. This very thought is infectious, and it has rendered Arab leaders nervous. They are having nightmares of their being deposed and exiled as the Shah of Iran or Ben Ali of Tunisia
We have heard the president’s disappointing speech. And really someone who has killed more than 300 youths, kidnapped and injured thousands more is not entitled to brag about past glories. Nor are his followers entitled to talk about the President’s dignity, because the dignity [of] life and security of the Egyptian people is far more valuable than any single person’s dignity no matter how high a position he holds.
Somewhere Gil Scott-Heron must be reveling in the scene at Tahrir Square. African-Americans may not be pouring into U.S. streets looking for a brighter day, but millions of Egyptian spirits have brought Scott-Heron’s prophetic words to life.
Secretary of State Clinton warns of a “perfect storm of powerful trends” across the region, including a young population, political repression, economic disparity, and dwindling supplies of oil and water.
Coptic Christians show solidarity by forming a human chain around Islamic protesters during Friday prayers in Tehrir Square on Friday, February 04, 2011.
The ripple effect, described by one commentator as the “wave of democracy finally crashing on the North African shore”, has led to comparisons with the protest movement across Eastern Europe in 1989 that spelt the demise of communism and eventually the Soviet Union.
The protests have demonstrated explicit interfaith components. It was only a few weeks ago that Egyptian Muslims attended Christmas mass with their Christian neighbors and friends as human shields after the deadly attack on a Coptic church. Mohamed El-Sawy, whose cultural center has hosted World Faith Cairo events, said of faith relations in Egypt, “We either live together or we die together.” Returning the favor, Christians stood guard at mosques across Egypt while their Muslim friends finished their Friday prayers before the day’s protests. When a few demonstrators began chanting “Allahu Akbar,” others convinced them to join together: “Muslim, Christian, we’re all Egyptian!”
But what happens when the unrest spreads to oil-rich Saudi Arabia, Iran, Libya, Algeria? Already Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh has said he won’t run for re-election. Dissidents have called for protests in Algeria on Feb. 12, Bahrain on Feb. 14 and Libya on Feb. 17.
Al Jazeera has become the channel of first choice; traffic to the English-language stream online has grown by 2,500 percent since last Friday. And Mohamed Nanabhay, the head of online for the English language channel, told The New York Times‘ Brian Stelter that the site’s live stream had been viewed over 4 million times since Friday, and that 1.6 million of those views have come from the United States.
A tapestry of people covered the streets of Egypt on Tuesday. They are young and old, rich and poor, Muslim and Christian. There were even people who, amid the sweeping calls for President Hosni Mubarak’s resignation, made known their support for the embattled leader.
As Matthew Hindman states in “The Myth of Digital Democracy“: “The Internet’s successes at democratizing politics are real. Yet the medium’s failure in this regard are less acknowledged and ultimately just as profound.”