Jerry Jackson

Posts Tagged ‘Arab World’

Donkeys Take Over From DSL as Syria Shuts Down Internet

In Activism, Human Rights, Internet Censorship, Society, Syria, World News on June 4, 2011 at 11:38 pm


WebWatcher-Get 40% Off

Qalaat al-Shmammis

Image by CharlesFred via Flickr


WebWatcher-Get 40% Off

The Facebook revolution has retreated from this dusty Jordanian town on the Syrian border.

In a bid to quash a rebellion now entering its third month, the Syrian government, perhaps one of the world’s most Internet-unfriendly, has shut down pretty much all electronic communications inside the country and to overseas. Cut off from the World Wide Web, protestors, journalists and human rights activists have resorted to communications networks from another era.
And for that, Ramtha, a Jordanian town of about 100,000 people 80 kilometers (50 miles) north of the capital of Amman, has become a virtual switchboard for news coming out of Syria, not to mention a swarm of refugees seeking to flee the carnage that has taken some 800 lives across the country, according to a United Nations estimate released last Friday.
Facebook and other social media have been widely lauded as the fuse that lit the unrest exploding across the Arab world. But Internet use in Syria has always been severely constrained and the number of people with access to it is very small – about 17% of the country had it in 2010, according to Internet World Stats – even if the government dropped its long-standing ban of Facebook weeks before the unrest broke out.


Get wireless networking with Qwest DSL

Just across the border from Ramtha, the Syrian town of Dara’a is the birthplace of the Syria rebellion. That began in mid-March when dozens or more youths were detained by security forces for spraying anti-government graffiti. Since then, despite the massive presence of troops and attacks on the city’s main mosque, Dara’a remains in turmoil.
To get the news outs, activists have been smuggling videos to Jordan through the desert and across a nearly 80-kilometer border Jordan shares with Syria. Some risk approaching the border with Jordanian cellphones to report to the outside world and send clips. It’s a dangerous task because the Syrian and Jordanian armies traditionally have the area under heavy surveillance to prevent the smuggling of drugs and weapons into the kingdom or further to the Gulf states.
But desperate Syrians have been using a helping hand from smugglers to cross the border, either by walking or on the backs of donkeys, according to residents from Ramtha. Locals have centuries if not millennia of experience eluding officials.
“The two cities are connected more than anyone could think. For hundreds of years, the residents of Ramtha and Dara’a have been moving between the two towns easily through the farms and desert area. Now they rediscovered these ancient routes,” says Ahmed Kareem, a Jordanian taxi driver from Ramtha.
Kareem says several Syrian families escaped the wrath of the military by walking for nearly 24 hours before they were received by residents from Ramtha. The majority are being housed in a public school for the sake of their safety, and away from prying eyes of the media.
“We prepared the schools to welcome as many refugees as possible, but the problem is that many want to come but are unable due to the closure,” said Kareem.


Qwest logo

Syria says it has been forced to close the border to prevent foreign elements, who it has blamed for inciting violence, from infiltrating into its territory. Syrian officials indirectly accused Jordan of facilitating entry of foreign elements to stir the public against Bashar al Assad regime. Syria also accused Jordan’s Muslim Brotherhood movement of coordinating with its Syria’s counterpart to topple the al Assad regime.
Those allegations have yet to be proven, but the closure limits the flow of news about what has been taking place in Dara’a, said Abu Abdullah, a Syrian rights activist who spoke to the Media Line by telephone from the city.
Syria refuses to allow foreign press into its territories, while those who leave refuse to go on camera for fear of retribution. Last month a Reuters correspondent was arrested after he was found covering the uprising in Dara’a. Dorothy Parvaz, an Al-Jazeera television correspondent, was detained by Syrian authorities and has since reportedly been transferred to Iran.
As a result, scores of journalists have flocked to the border point near Ramtha in the hope of catching news on the military operation taking place. But it is not proving to be easy, according to journalist stationed near Jordan’s border point.
Syrian activists who try to reach the outside world take a serious risk. Abu Abdullah, who asked not to be identified by his real name, uses a Jordanian mobile number to place calls, but to do so he has to get close to the Jordanian border at the risk of getting killed. Among the Jordanian cellular operators, activists say Umnia has the best reception in Dara’a.
“As I talk, people are trying to protect me from snipers by holding barrels and other items. This is very dangerous. We are unable to tell the world what is happening,” Abdullah said last week as he gave an account of an attack on civilians, including women and children.
“As I walked to this spot, I saw three people dead — a woman, a man and a girl. Nobody was able to save them because of the snipers stationed on rooftops,” he said.
Activists in Jordan say Syria has arrested a number of Jordanians as they tried to cross into its territories through the regular border crossings. Abdullah Zubi, a Jordanian driver arrested three weeks ago on the border, says Syrian police had one idea about the events.
“They asked me to confess that Jordan’s intelligence service is behind the attacks. They prepared a confession about role of Jordan’s secret service and wanted me to sign it,” he told The Media Line a day after he was released on May 11.


According to Zubi, Syria has arrested dozens of Jordanians during the past weeks as part of its crackdown on Dara’a.
Ramtha residents are concerned that the crisis will have severe economic implications for a city reliant on trade. Ramtha sees dozens of vehicles crossing into Syria or coming into the kingdom laden with goods heading to the kingdom’s market or to the oil rich Gulf states. The border crossing has helped thousands of Jordanians make a living.
But since Syria sealed the border with Ramtha, the city’s streets are void of traffic. It’s a double-blow for Ramtha residents, who are also feeling the impact of higher food and energy prices and a slowing Jordanian economy.
Many residents say they will have to look some where else to earn a living. For a start, this week, the government has now allowed taxi drivers from Ramtha to operate in other routes in light of continued closure of the borders.




LG620G - All You Need - Save BIG!

Advertisements

Why is Hillary Not Defending the Rights of Saudis to Protest?

In Activism, Human Rights, Society, World News on March 9, 2011 at 12:23 am


3-Watt LED Flashlight CREE $11.99
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had been exhaustively in front of cameras promoting the right for people to protest in Egypt, Bahrain, Iran, and Libya.  She’s been touting the freedom to use social networking sites as a way for Arab people to organize against their oppressive regimes.  Now, the Administration is even considering arming the opposition in Libya.

Clinton’s perpetual propaganda efforts exposed her blatant hypocrisy when a silent peaceful protester was violently removed from one of her recent speeches on the very subject. However, the hypocrisy now seems to go much deeper in her deafening silence over the prospect for protests in Saudi Arabia.

After Human Rights Watch revealed that a nationwide “Day of Rage” protest had been planned in Saudi Arabia for this week, March 11th, Bloomberg reported that the Saudi government claims that demonstrations and marches are “strictly” prohibited by law.  A Saudi Interior Ministry official said protests “contradict Islamic values” and “They harm public interest, infringe on the rights of others, spread chaos and lead to bloodshed.”

This prohibition of popular dissent proves beyond a shadow of doubt that Saudi Arabia is indeed the most tyrannical authoritarian regime in the Arab world.  Yet, U.S. Administration officials have been strangely silent about supporting the people’s uprising there.

Perhaps they think the protests won’t be large enough to warrant a response.  Well, that certainly did stop their best propaganda push to stoke the puny protests in Iran, so the size or ferocity of unrest shouldn’t matter to their exploits of supposedly backing human freedom.  And one would think that given what has happened to oil prices due to the unrest in Libya and Egypt, even a minor protest in the largest oil-producing dictatorship in the world would draw more public response from the White House.

Or perhaps the Administration believes that the hastily-crafted $35 billion social aid package ordered by King Abdullah will be enough to tamp down escalating tensions in Saudi Arabia.  So far, there have only been reports of small Shiite protests in Saudi Arabia, mostly demanding the release of political prisoners held by the Sunni monarchy.

These protests would seem to be very minor in comparison to the sea of people revolting in Cairo. However, the revolutionary whispers must clearly be getting louder as the Saudi stock market plummeted 11% in just two days of wild trading to its 7-year low on fears of civil unrest.  It’s noteworthy that the plunge was reportedly led by large banks and insurers.

If Clinton is to stand by her new-found rhetoric, certainly she’ll call for restraint on the part of the Saudi government should a protest erupt, right?  And surely she’ll demand that the kings of Internet censorship in the Arab world, Saudi Arabia, will open communication channels so the people can freely unite, right?  And if push comes to shove in Saudi Arabia, she’ll definitely support arming the people’s opposition to the royal family, right?  Eh hum . . . don’t count on it.

Regardless, many analysts believe the Saudi regime is the next to fall with or without the prodding of the U.S.

 


GoldenGadgets.com
GoldenGadgets.com – home of LED Light Bulbs, LED Flashlights, Solar Power Chargers, and other Energy Saving Gadgets

Libya Protests: Gadhafi Weakens As Protests Escalates.

In Activism, Human Rights, Libya, Society, World News on February 22, 2011 at 4:17 am

The old medina in Central Tripoli; There are 2...

Image via Wikipedia

CAIRO — Deep cracks open up in Moammar Gadhafi‘s regime after more than 40 years in power, with diplomats abroad and the justice minister at home resigning, air force pilots defecting and a fire raging at the main government hall after clashes in the capital Tripoli. Protesters called for another night of defiance in Tripoli’s main square despite the government’s heavy crackdown.

Gadhafi’s regime appeared to be preparing a new major assault in the capital Monday night in an attempt to crush unrest that has already swept the eastern parts of the country – leaving Libya‘s second largest city in protesters’ control – and was now overwhelming the capital of 2 million people.

State TV at nightfall Monday announced that the military had “stormed the hideouts of saboteurs” and called on the public to back the security forces as protesters called for a new demonstration in central Green Square and in front of Gadhafi’s Tripoli residence.

NET10 - Free $20 Gift Card
Military warplanes were seen swooping low over the city in the evening, and snipers had taken position on the roofs of buildings around Tripoli, apparently to stop people from outside the capital from joining the march, according to Mohammed Abdul-Malek, a London-based opposition activist in touch with residents.

Communications into the capital appeared to have been cut, and mobile phones of residents could not be reached from outside the country. State TV showed images of hundreds of Gadhafi supporters rallying in centralGreen Square Monday evening, waving pictures of the Libyan leader and palm fronds.

The eruption of turmoil in the capital after six days of protests and bloody clashes in Libya’s eastern cities sharply escalates the challenge to Gadhafi, the Arab world’s longest ruling leader. His security forces have unleashed the bloodiest crackdown of any Arab country against the wave of protests sweeping the region, which toppled the leaders of Egypt and Tunisia. At least 233 people have been killed so far, according to New York-based Human Rights Watch.

The chaos in Libya, an OPEC country that is a significant oil supplier to Europe, was raising international alarm. Oil prices jumped $1.67 to nearly $88 a barrel Monday amid investor concern. European nations were eying an evacuation of their citizens.

British Prime Minister David Cameron, visiting neighboring Egypt, called the Libyan government‘s crackdown “appalling.”

“The regime is using the most vicious forms of repression against people who want to see that country – which is one of the most closed and one of the most autocratic – make progress,” he told reporters in Cairo.

The heaviest fighting so far has been in the east. In Libya’s second largest city, Benghazi, security forces opened fire on Sunday on protesters storming police stations and government buildings. But in several instances, units of the military turned against them and sided with protesters.

By Monday, protesters had claimed control of the city, overrunning its main security headquarters, called the Katiba.

Celebrating protesters raised the flag of the country’s old monarchy, toppled in 1969 by a Gadhafi-led military coup, over Benghazi’s main courthouse and on tanks around the city.

“Gadhafi needs one more push and he is gone,” said Amal Roqaqie, a lawyer at the Benghazi court, saying protesters are “imposing a new reality … Tripoli will be our capital. We are imposing a new order and new state, a civil constitutional and with transitional government.”


Gadhafi’s son, Seif al-Islam, went on state TV in the early hours Monday with a sometimes confused speech of nearly 40 minutes, vowing to fight and warning that if protests continue, a civil war will erupt in which Libya’s oil wealth “will be burned.”

“Moammar Gadhafi, our leader, is leading the battle in Tripoli, and we are with him,” he said. “The armed forces are with him. Tens of thousands are heading here to be with him. We will fight until the last man, the last woman, the last bullet.” he said.

He also promised “historic” reforms in Libya if protests stop, and on Monday state TV said he had formed a commission to investigate deaths during the unrest. Protesters ignored the vague gestures. Even as he spoke, the first clashes between protesters and security forces in the heart of Tripoli were still raging, lasting until dawn.

During the day Monday, a fire raged at the People’s Hall, the main hall for government gatherings where the country’s equivalent of a parliament holds its sessions several times a year, the pro-government news web site Qureyna said.

It also reported the first major sign of discontent in Gadhafi’s government, saying justice minister Mustafa Abdel-Jalil resigned from his post to protest the “excessive use of force against unarmed protesters.”

Libya’s U.N. ambassadors called for Gadhafi to step down, and there were reports of a string of ambassadors abroad defecting. Libya’s former ambassador to the Arab League in Cairo, Abdel-Moneim al-Houni, who a day earlier resigned from his post to side with protesters, issued a statement demanding Gadhafi and his commanders and aides be put on trial for “the mass killings in Libya.”

“Gadhafi’s regime is now in the trash of history because he betrayed his nation and his people,” al-Houni said.

A Libyan diplomat in China, Hussein el-Sadek el-Mesrati, told Al-Jazeera, “I resigned from representing the government of Mussolini and Hitler.”

Two Mirage warplanes from the Libyan airforce fled a Tripoli air base and landed on the nearby island of Malta, and their pilots – two colonels – asked for political asylum, Maltese military officials said.


BUY Dragon Age Origins for PC

Egyptian youth and new dawn hopes

In Activism, Egypt, Human Rights, Military, World News on February 6, 2011 at 7:25 am

For young Egyptians, long-dormant patriotism and pride have been finally awakened.

As police stations and ministry of interior installations continue to burn through the night in many of Egypt’s cities, the Arab World is waking up to a new dawn.  In more than 18 years of living in Cairo, I have never felt the sense of cautious hope that exists in Egypt now, particularly among young men and women who feel that for the first time in their lives they may actually be able to determine their own destinies. 

Egypt

For young Egyptians, long-dormant patriotism and pride have been finally awakened.

Young Egyptians that say that despite the number of teargas canisters fired at protesters and the number of those who have been beaten and detained, long-dormant patriotism and pride have been finally awakened. They feel emboldened by the positive changes in Tunisia and believe they share common cause and aspiration. Many of the students I teach at the American University in Cairo have taken part in the protests, avoiding tear gas, seeking refuge in shops and alleyways. They have been reporting and participating in the protests. Some have been beaten only to return the next day and face off with riot police. To them, they have known no other president, no other ruling party and no other political system. They have for years been groomed on the government’s realpolitik on the one hand, and the   empty rhetoric of opposition groups on the other. They have made it clear to me that these opposition parties, long defunct and impotent, have been replaced by grassroots social action. Their fears of detention and torture have been supplanted by the need for better living conditions and better wages. The protests have drawn Egyptians from all walks of life, many of whom have never participated in demonstrations and feel that the time has come for them to voice their resentment. What started with a few dozen protesters on January 25 quickly mushroomed as passers-by and ordinary citizens joined in. This was the Arab Street – the silent majority which has finally found a voice to express palpable anger. Listening to the protesters, one gets the feeling that they have not been deterred by the severity of the beatings; rather, their resolve has been hardened. In an unprecedented show of civil disobedience and open revolt, young Egyptians have clearly and forcibly delivered a message that is still resonating in the Middle East and North Africa: Authoritarian rule in the region is over. The common yet indigenous, denominators – political and economic disenfranchisement and disdain at rampant corruption – between the two countries were conveyed through social media networks, helping to create a momentum that seized popular anger and provided it with a dynamic that produced mass mobilisation on the streets of Tunis and Cairo. By calling for the ouster of Hosni Mubarak, the Egyptian president, and persevering in the face of tear gas, water cannons and baton beatings, young Egyptian men and women have beat back decades of one-party rule, brutal repression against civil liberties, iron-clad control of the media, and corrupt economic policies. The protesters have been dismantling archaic forms of governance in which the ruler is considered to be beyond reproach and economic policies are determined by his self-preserving business elite allies. They are demanding equity in the distribution of wealth, an end to state corruption, greater employment opportunities and a curb to rampant inflation. They want to be able to express themselves freely – both in mainstream media and online – without the specter of arrest, torture and imprisonment looming overhead. Just three months ago, Egyptian authorities released Kareem Amer, a blogger jailed in 2007 for defaming Islam and the presidency. His release came just a few weeks after several stations were taken off the air by the national satellite carrier NileSat for allegedly failing to abide by their contracts and/or failure to pay licensing fees. They are not interested in a change of government – as Mubarak promised on January 28 – and they will not be dissuaded by repeated promises of economic reform and prosperity. They believe that Egypt’s current socio-economic malaise is rooted in the political system itself, a system which has not evolved since the first revolution overthrew the King of Egypt in 1952. When the ruling National Democratic Party swept Parliamentary elections amid allegations of widespread fraud last November, Egyptian youth said that they felt their votes had been stolen and the entire process of political reform hijacked. Some observers at the time warned that the government would likely suffer a backlash. The young protesters that we now see on the streets of Cairo, Ismailiya, Suez, Alexandria and Mahala want a political process that safeguards their democratic participation. Few in Egypt have a desire – or expectation – to see Gamal Mubarak, the president’s son, inherit the presidency in a contrived political gimmick to convince the public that there was a democratic transfer of power. Among my students, Copts and Muslims alike, there is a call for social cohesion. In the aftermath of the bombing at the Two Saints Church in Alexandria, many Egyptians blamed the government for failing to adequately protect minorities and allowing sectarian strife to fester. Now, the momentum – and history – is on the protesters’ side. Firas Al-Atraqchi is an associate professor of practice at department of journalism and mass communication at the American University in Cairo.

%d bloggers like this: