In recent months, however, protests in the central cities of Qassim and Riyadh have become more frequent. In January 2013, a group of 11 women and children were arrested for demonstrating in front of the Board of Grievances in Buraida, a town in Qassim. In February 2013, 50 more women were arrested in Riyadh and Qassim. Finally, in the first week of March, more than 170 men, women, and children were arrested in Buraida after organizing a sit-in in front of the Bureau of Investigation and Public Prosecution. A spokesman for the Buraida police reported that one hundred protesters have been released, According to Saudi activists, several female demonstrators remain unaccounted for.
Entries in Muftah (13)
In the last months, the UAE has further cracked down on potential opposition groups, arresting, deporting, or revoking the citizenship of dozens of Islamists.
In an apparent attempt to justify these measures, officials have argued that Islamists were plotting to overthrow governments of the Gulf states.
Al Jazeera English's report on conflict in Sudan, 25 June 2012
The success of the current, rapidly growing rebellion in Khartoum and elsewhere in Sudan is far from assured. The National Islamic Front/National Congress Party regime—facing a serious domestic challenge for the first time in years—will use all the considerable force at its disposal to retain full control over national wealth and power. Brutality has already increased with the number and determination of protestors, who now include not only students but lawyers and other civilian constituencies. And as the protests spread—to Omdurman and other parts of central Khartoum, to Sennar, el-Obeid, Wad Medani, Damazin (Blue Nile University), Gedaref, Kosti, and Port Sudan — there is even more pressure on this ruthlessly survivalist regime to emulate the tactics of Gaddafi in Libya and al-Assad in Syria. The coming days and weeks are likely to be extremely bloody.
But Sudanese with whom I’ve spoken in recent days are unanimous in their conclusion that now is the moment—that having come this far, there is no turning back. If the moment is lost, another may not come again soon.
Protests in Khartoum on Wednesday
This latest wave of protests, however, feels different. Motivated by economic shocks, protestors, mostly youth and students, are vowing to continue until the regime is toppled, even in the face of brutal resistance by security forces. A mass protest to do just this has been planned for June 30, 2012, the 23rd anniversary of the National Congress Party’s (NCP) rise to power in the country. Grappling with an annual inflation rate that reached 30.4% in May 2012, the Sudanese can wait no longer for change.
Some Iranians inside and outside the country have tried to highlight the immorality and ineffectiveness of the Iranian intelligence service, which displays outmost strength in interrogating and imprisoning Iranian citizens for their political views and peaceful activities but has proved powerless in securing the country against acts of terrorism. In the current international climate, however, it is not hard to understand why these voices have gone unheard.
Several months after revolts toppled authoritarian regimes in Tunisia and Egypt, the Arab Middle East continues to undergo seismic changes. Between Syria’s crackdown and Libya’s quagmire, the Arab Spring seems stalled and the momentum for further regime change diffused. However, not all the region’s Arab regimes have used abject violence to stem the growing demands for socio-economic and political reforms. Relying on the popular appeal of its monarchy, Morocco has dealt with its protest movement through a calibrated political strategy of sheepish reforms, while also benefitting from the fledgling opposition movement’s lack of coherence and organization.
The system has cautiously begun to head in a more open, democratic direction. The one enormous unknown is whether this will be enough to placate the anger existing within Algerian society.
Elizabeth Shakman Hurd writes for Muftah:
Long before the recent upheavals in Egypt, there were hints that change in the country was in the works.
In August 2009, Michael Slackman of The New York Times published an article entitled “Hints of Pluralism in Egyptian Religious Debates”, in which he discussed how the internet had allowed for the widespread circulation within Egyptian media of the views of Gamal al-Banna, the 88 year-old brother of Muslim Brotherhood founder Hassan al-Banna. Gamal al-Banna is known for his unconventional, some would say even “liberal”—though these terms are unhelpful—views on Islam. According to Slackman, many Egyptian religious authorities, including Sheik Omar el Deeb of Al Azhar University, had rejected al-Banna’s views, describing them as “outside the scope of religion". Analyzing the relative openings for public discussion of al-Banna’s controversial opinions, Slackman suggested that several factors had contributed to this new atmosphere of openness, including a general disillusionment amongst Egyptians towards radical ideologies, such as those of Al Qaeda, as well as President Obama’s outreach to Egypt and the Muslim world in his June 2009 speech in Cairo, which undercut accusations of a U.S. war against Islam. Citing “Egyptian political analysts”, Slackman concluded that these developments had made it “easier for liberal Muslims to promote more Western secular ideas.”
In light of recent events, what is to be made of this idea of “liberal Muslims promoting Western secular ideas”? In fact, the ideological baggage that this notion carries helps to explain why the United States failed to see the changes now happening in Egypt. Though the events of the past few weeks cannot be subsumed under this secular versus Islamist rubric, Slackman’s attempt to reduce Egyptian society to this simplistic view did just that, illuminating a mindset prevalent within the United States that prevented the government from seeing the Egyptian revolution from a mile away.
Trapped between the proverbial rock and a hard place, the Palestinian negotiating team’s most viable strategy would be to avoid peace negotiations with Israel in the short-term and immediately begin negotiating the devastating divisions that dominate Palestinian society. In recent times, it has been foreign mediators, such as Turkey, Libya, Qatar, Yemen, Egypt, and several others, and not the PLO who have attempted to arbitrate the divisions within Palestinian society. In the current climate, in which a unified Palestinian polity appears as the most important condition for restarting effective peace negotiations, the PLO would be well advised to reverse this trend, to take a more pronounced and aggressive role in mediating these internal conflicts, and to focus its attention on achieving the difficult, yet auspicious goal of a unified Palestinian constituency.
Both sides are caught in narratives developed not only to antagonize one another, but also to appease their respective domestic audiences. While Obama’s extension of an offer to Iran for direct negotiations without preconditions was initially promising, the U.S. government ultimately reverted to Bush Administration tactics, attempting to exploit Iran’s domestic weakness to obtain concessions in the international arena. Rather than success, however, this strategy has prompted the Iranian government to counter with strident rhetoric and increased domestic political repression, in the name of defending against foreign intervention in Iranian affairs. So far, the only thing that can be said with confidence about the failed nuclear negotiations is that the real losers in this political game of brinksmanship have been the Iranian, urban middle class and private sector, which have become increasingly unsettled and confused in the face of an economic pinch from abroad and political repression at home.