Advance Polling

Monday, October 24th, 2011

Interviews with SCAF will increase

Proof that public opinion matters, even in nondemocratic systems and that the regime is sensitive. The legitimacy of a dictatorship rests in part on popularity.

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The Impossible Choice, Redux

As we looked at Hosni Mubarak’s face behind the metal bars of his cage the familiar question was asked again, what’s happening in Egypt now?

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The Praetorian Problem

Because the democratic activists who scheduled the January 25th protests did not expect that it would lead to the ousting of Mubarak, they did not feel the need to draft reform plans, these were not revolutionaries, mores simply idealists. Since the mass uprising the reform movement has been running blindly into the transitional period and is at least partially responsible for the confrontation with the now ruling military council, the Praetorian guards.

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Syria denies "mass grave" claims:

"Villagers say they have found 13 bodies buried on farmland near Deraa - but government says claim is 'totally false'."


The international community has no reason to believe that the Syrian government didn't do this. We know from the small amount of news coming out of Syria that they are certainly using deadly force. Then consider, if nothing else, the documented massacre at Hama in 1982.
If Bashar al-Asad and his cronys want to play dumb then fine but the rest of us should assume that its true until journalists are free to report. Al Jazeera's Dorothy Parvaz (who has American, Canadian, and Iranian passports) was recently abducted while working in Syria and taken to Iran (though Iran is still denying this). Update - Dorothy was freed from Iran on May18th.

 

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Egypt Falling Asleep Again? :

In Cairo, Kamelia Shehata was on TV Saturday night to let the world know that she did not convert to Islam as was the rumor around Egypt. She's even managed to stay married to her loving husband who is a Coptic priest.

I say did not in the first sentence because she might soon given how rationale fundamentalist Muslims are behaving.

The actual rumor was that Shehata left her husband and converted to Islam but was then kidnapped by agents of the Coptic Church who were relentlessly moisturizing the zabiba that may or may not have formed. For a few months this story has been fueling protests by Muslim groups who were calling for her release.

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US Considers Violating Embargo to Arm Rebels :

President Obama and the anti-Qaddafi coalition are mulling over the idea of sending weapons to the Libyan rebels. What's the hold up? An Arms Embargo firmly entrenched in the same law that authorized the No Fly Zone (NFZ). They'd rather not violate the embargo but the rebels may be about to get beaten.

In London, Secretary Clinton said that the United Nations resolution on Libya allow for the ''legitimate transfer of arms'' to rebels, adding ''Our interpretation of [UN Security Council Resolution]1973 amended is that it overrode the absolute prohibition of arms to anyone in Libya … so there could be legitimate transfer of arms if a country chose to do that."

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Reforming Egypt's Media:

The republican state depends on an independent and active press to keep those functionaries of government acting on our behalf and in our interests accountable to the principles that we lay down as their mandate. The press is the vanguard of liberated people, uncensored journalism a bulwark against the worst in ourselves. Without it we are vulnerable.

Egypt's revolutionary moment could slip by without having affected much if journalists aren't allowed unfettered access to view and record the proceedings of the regime. The military in particular needs to be meticulously monitored during this transitional period. To understand more about what young Egyptians want we took to the streets of Cairo to speak with them.

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Winners and Losers: Egypt's Referendum :

Fraudulent no, innefficient yes, historic definitely.

41% of eligible voters turned out, that's about 18 million voters for Egypt's constitutional referendum this Saturday. In the past voters went to the polls if they were paid, fed, or both and the results were always known before the polls even opened. This time we weren't quite sure what the outcome would be but the majority said yes, amendments will be made to the 1971 constitution.

But who were the winners and losers?

The big winner was the military, now that elections are on the short time-table with elections coming this fall, the candidate that protects their wealth has a great chance of getting elected. That candidate will most likely use the campaign machinery of Mubarak's National Democratic Party which the youth have been demanding be dissolved. It wouldn't take much for the military to give it a new veneer.

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How a worm may have stopped a wave. Lebanon's prospects for democratization:

As much as anyone might want it to, the wave of democratization that started in Tunisia and gained momentum in Egypt won't do much to change things in Lebanon.

As you may know the political power sharing arrangement in Lebanon is called the Confessional System. No you need not confess your sins before becoming a leader, although that would probably be appreciated. Its called that because power is divided among religious (and ethnic) groups.

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Remember the Street Fighters:

Before the international media got into Tahrir Square, before Mubarak started to make concessions, before the US got on the right side of history, the Egyptian revolution was won. In a series of deadly street battles between young Egyptians and the regimes Central Security Forces on January 28th, the path of Egypt was turned towards democracy.

The delusional Mubarak regime was so surprised at the dismal failure of its forces that it continued to act as if a comeback was possible.

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Army Breaks Camp in Tahrir :

Cairo - Unidentified men assaulted several hundred protesters camped in Tahrir Square on Wednesday. Using knives and stones the attackers tried to disperse the pro-democracy forces occupying Egypt's famous square. After a period of tense conflict the Egyptian Army sent troops in to tear down tents and arrest protesters still in the square's center.

Numerous activists involved sent out distressed messages on Twitter, making it clear that the military has decided to end the weeks long sit-in. The protesters demands are not uniform, some want more transparency in the interim government and others, the end of the 30 year-old Emergency Law.

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Will Egypt's Military Overrule the First Vote?:

Cairo: The Egyptian Cabinet's Information and Decision Support Center (IDSC) has been running an online straw poll to gauge the reaction to the proposed constitutional amendments that will be voted for on March 19th.

Like the poll(above) suggests, cabinet staff expressed doubt that the amendments will be approved by the people but said, "it will pass anyway." Implying that Egypt's Supreme Military Council will force the amendments, making the vote meaningless.

Will this be evidence that the old regime, which the military is the core of, is not ceding power to democratic reformers? They have already dictated the makeup of the constitutional committee, imposed a curfew, arrested demonstrators, used military courts to sentence numerous civilians, and failed to lift the 30-year old 'Emergency Law' that suspends political and human rights law.

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