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Saturday
Jan292011

Egypt Snap Analysis: The Army Allows Mubarak a Moment to Defy the Burning

Last night Mubarak stood almost alone. And what no one was quite saying is that his fate is not in his hands. The immediate issue now is whether the military will hold the line for him and whether the protesters will accept that. 

Unless there is something more from the President --- not just some economic payouts to the people but a clear sign that he and his son Gamal will be giving up the prospect of continued power, with promises of significant reform in the political system --- the demonstrations will continue. And at that point, the question will be whether the Army sides with those demonstrations or turns its guns upon them.

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Saturday
Jan292011

Iran Breaking: Dutch-Iranian National Zahra Bahrami is Executed

HRANA reports that the Dutch-Iranian national Zahra Bahrami, arrested just after the Ashura demonstrations of December 2009, was put to death this morning on the charge of drug possession.

Bahrami, who had returned to Iran before Ashura to see her daughter, was in legal limbo for months before Dutch authorities realised she was one of their citizens. Tehran refused to let them see her, however, as it does not recognise dual nationality. 

Initally Bahrami was charged with "mohareb" (war against God), but Iranian officials shifted the emphasis to her alleged possession of a kilogramme (2.2 pounds) of cocaine. No evidence was ever produced to support the claim.

Bahrami lost her lawyer last autumn when Nasrin Sotoudeh was imprisoned.This week the Netherlands Government appointed two lawyers to represent Bahrami, but Tehran did not follow up on its declaration that Bahrami would be tried on the "mohareb" charge before any sentence was carried out. Indeed, it appears that there was no appeal allowed on the penalty for the drugs conviction.

For further details, see "Iran, Political Prisoners, & New Media: Discovering The Case of Zahra Bahrami" (August 2010), "Iran Snapshot: Death Sentence Handed Down on Iranian-Dutch National Zahra Bahrami" (6 January 2011), and "Iran Interview: Daughter of Condemned Zahra Bahrami 'A Political Death Sentence'" (13 January 2011). And for analysis, read Dave Siavashi's "What the Executions Say About the Regime's 'Control' and Murder" (26 January 2011).

Friday
Jan282011

Israel Analysis: Can West Jerusalem Put Palestine Above Iran's "Existential Threat"?

1) Was departing Mossad chief Meir Dagan really pressing the Government by saying it is not the right time to focus on Iran's nuclear programmes at a time when the Palestinian issue should be the one on the table? Was he reinforcing this as a window of opportunity by saying that there is no way to envisage an Iranian nuclear weapon within the next four years?

2) Even if Netanyahu's Forum of Seven agrees to a limited number of concessions following the departure of Defense Minister Ehud Barak from the Labor Party, can Netanyahu and/or his coalition partners give up the Iran card? Can they do so at a time when the world "has not learnt its lesson" from the Holocaust and "there is a great island of instability" in the region, which can even put the peace made with Cairo in jeopardy?

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Friday
Jan282011

Egypt Video: The Uprising of 28 January

Ramses Square in Cairo

Protesters in Imbaba

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Friday
Jan282011

The Latest from Iran (28 January): The President Protects His Man

1020 GMT: Claim of Day. The hard-line Raja News writes that Mehdi Karroubi went to Behesht-e Zahra cemetery today to honor post-election victims but fled after families protested.

1015 GMT: Sedition Watch. Ayatollah Alamolhoda, the Friday Prayer leader in Mashhad, has proclaimed that some fitna (sedition) leaders and activists are trying to "desecrate" the Supreme Leader.

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Friday
Jan282011

A Poster for Today: "Walk Like an Egyptian"

Friday
Jan282011

Egypt (and Beyond) LiveBlog: Black Hole or Another Day of Revolution

So there is a 13-hour curfew imposed in Egypt, right? What that means is that people should remain at home, there shouldn't be any gatherings and police should be in-charge of the street. Instead, the police are missing and people are swarming through the capital Cairo. The situation is made worse by opportunistic looters. Several people in Egypt are reporting that shopkeepers are gathering relatives and friends to protect their businesses from looters in isolated areas of the city.

Does that make sense?

0307 GMT: And now the mother of all disclosures?

The Daily Telegraph quotes a Wikileaks diplomatic dispatch with the following story:

The American Embassy in Cairo helped a young dissident attend a US-sponsored summit for activists in New York, while working to keep his identity secret from Egyptian state police.

On his return to Cairo in December 2008, the activist told US diplomats that an alliance of opposition groups had drawn up a plan to overthrow President Hosni Mubarak and install a democratic government in 2011.

Read the full story on the Daily Telegraph here.

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Friday
Jan282011

US Politics: "Cooling Saucer" or "Tar Pit"? The Filibuster Continues in the Senate

So there will be few dramas on legislation this year. That is, unless a Democratic minority in the Senate –--where some fiscally conservative members could join a united Republican caucus –-- endorses cuts in government spending. And then we start talking reconciliation for finance bills and Presidential vetoes.

But enough speculation; the filibuster remains largely as it was, and along with it the nearly impenetrable rules of the Senate. "Cooling saucer" or "tar pit"? You decide.

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Thursday
Jan272011

Egypt in Pictures: The "War Zone" in Suez

From Suez today (hat tip to Blake Hounshell at Foreign Policy for most of these):

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Thursday
Jan272011

Latest Egypt (and Beyond) Video: Thursday's Protests

1st Footage of Tuesday's Demonstration in Alexandria

Clashes with Armoured Units in Suez

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