Links for 10.24.09 to 10.25.09

Power play - The National Newspaper | M. Bazzi on Saudi-Syrian relations. Weirdly makes no mention of Lebanon. ✪ Bikya Masr (BikyaMasr) on Twitter | Report: Ayman Nour attacked by security and NDP thugs in Hurghada. ✪ Algérie-Maroc | Blog on Algerian-Moroccan relations. ✪ Un propagandiste intéressé du régime tunisien - Les blogs du Diplo | Alain Gresh takes down Antoine Sfeir over his apologia for the Ben Ali regime in Tunisia. ✪ “The State is an ostrich”: Algerian riots in the shadow of Power « The Moor Next Door | On the recent turmoil, and more generally the absence of a well-managed state in Algeria. ✪ Arms Smugglers Into Gaza Face a New Foe: Egypt – Forward.com | To Egypt's eternal shame! ✪ «الإخوان المسلمون» ينتصبون ضدّ بيونسي | جريدة الأخبار | The Muslim Brothers take on Beyoncé. ✪ Daily News Egypt -No Egyptian Films At The Cairo International Film Festival, Says Ciff President | er.... what? ✪ Reporters Sans Frontières | Tunisia: Election campaign impossible for opposition media ✪ Daily News Egypt - ‘Spinsters’ By Choice: Egypt’s Single Ladies Speak Out | About the Facebook group "Spinsters for Change". ✪ Michael Gerson - Michael Gerson on Egypt's Grand Mufti Ali Gomaa - washingtonpost.com | Rather lame column about the Mufti of Egypt makes no mention of his civil servant status. ✪ The Empire Lovers Strike Back « P U L S E | Fantastic text by Gore Vidal from the 1980s, about the Podhoretzes and the Israel lobby in the US. ✪ Israeli Exceptionalism: The Destabilizing Logic of Zionism « P U L S E | Excerpt from new book by M. Shahuid Alam.
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Bikya Masr: Ayman Nour attacked in Hurghada

Follow Bikya Masr (BikyaMasr) on Twitter for reports on an attack on Ayman Nour and his supporters by a dozen security and NDP thugs.

As of 23:10:



  1. Nour has told us that he feels "endangered."
  2. Nour has stated he will remain inside until there is a response from the Hurghada General Prosecutor's office.
  3. At this time, Nour and his party remain trapped in the restaurant.
  4. Nour: ""this sinful coalition between sec. forces and NDP is the worst form of terrorism. They are punishing us for our tour in Luxor.”
  5. Statement from Nour: "The situation is really dangerous. This is a severe attack and an unforgivable escalation.”
  6. They said that they are “security forces aided by some members of the ruling National Democratic Party Council in Hurghada!”
  7. Some members of El-Ghad Party Committee in Hurghada recognized the attackers.
  8. Only a small truck of Tourism Police came to the location of the incident and left after few minutes without taking any action
  9. They tried to call the police and security forces to help them, but they never showed up
  10. Nour and colleagues were having dinner with members of Elghad Committee in Hurghada before they were to go to the airport for cairo
  11. attackers tried to steal Gawad’s camera and papers but the owner of the restaurant saved him and pulled him inside again to protect him.
  12. Nour and his assistants are still stuck inside the restaurant which is surrounded by the thugs who are shouting: Viva Mubarak, Viva Egypt!
  13. Ahmed Abdul Gawad, Nour’s media assistant was severely beaten and wounded.
  14. While leaving Star Fish restaurant in Sheraton St., in Hurghada, Ayman Nour and his assistants were violently attacked by a dozen of thugs

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Security raids Ayman Nour offices during "Egyptians Against Succession" meeting

From Mohammad Maree:
واستولت بلطجية امن الدولة على جهاز لابتوب خاص بالدكتور ايمن وجهاز عرض كما قامت بتحطيم السماعات الموجودة بالمقر State Security Forces about 50-60 pigs stormed into a seminar at Ayman Nour Culture Center in Bab Al-Sha’riya, Cairo. The seminar was to discuss succession, the security thugs confiscated the all devices in the center especially the laptop of Dr ayman nour in addition to destroying the all things in the place they arrested some of El-Ghad party activists as the journalist ahmed abd-elgawad who was taken to the police station then released update:- Ayman Nour went to Bab Al-Sha’riya police station to file aclaim about the incident
Someone else emailed:
Reports are beginning to flow in, including directly from former Egyptian presidential candidate Ayman Nour, regarding an assault which occurred this evening in Cairo on one of Nour's offices in the Bab El Shairiya neighborhood by state security forces. Reportedly, 40-50 state security "thugs" stormed the office this evening (Cairo time), assaulted Al Ghad members within, and confiscated equipment, including Dr. Nour's personal computer. They reportedly arrested Nour's press secretary, Ahmed Abdel Gawad, among others. This incident took place immediately before a conference entitled "Poets Against Succession," a subgroup of the "Egyptians Against Succession (Mayohkomsh)" movement, was to take place.
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Links for 10.14.09 to 10.18.09

Is Obama giving up on democracy in Iran? | Because Haaretz really, really cares. ✪ 'Delegitimization of Israel must be delegitimized' | Great pic on this FLC post. ✪ Al Jazeera English - Focus - Leadership 'let down' Palestinians | As`ad AbuKhalil. ✪ ANALYSIS / U.S. using Goldstone report to punish Netanyahu - Haaretz - Israel News | Ridiculous argument. ✪ Egypt: 29 years between a president and his heir | Bikya Masr | Ayman Nour on Mubarak's Egypt. ✪ Nationalism in the Gulf State | A LSE paper on GCC nationalism by Neil Partrick. ✪ In Morocco, editor imprisoned, court shutters paper - Committee to Protect Journalists | al-Michaal newspaper closed over articles on king's health. Also rumors of closing down of Le Journal, TBC. ✪ ei: EI exclusive video: Protesters shout down Ehud Olmert in Chicago | "The demonstration was mobilized last week after organizers learned of the lecture, paid for by a grant provided by Jordan's King Abdullah II." ✪ FT.com / UK - Storm over Egypt's Israeli links | On the Hala Mustafa / normalization debate. ✪ Citing Work Of Right-Wing Intern Spy, GOP Accuses Muslim Group Of Infiltrating Hill With Intern 'Spies' | TPMMuckraker | "Four House Republicans are charging that the Council on American Islamic Relations is infiltrating Capitol Hill with undercover interns, and they're basing the charge on a WND-published book that itself is based on the work of a man who posed as a Muslim to infiltrate CAIR as ... an intern!" ✪ Confessions of an AIPAC Veteran | Helena Cobban profiles Israel operative Tom Dine. ✪ Brian Whitaker's blog | The son also rises | Seif Qadhafi gets put in charge of, well, almost everything. ✪ First Egyptian School Closes For Swine Flu - Daily News | Mere de Dieu girls' school -- a stone's throw from Arabist HQ -- closed. ✪ U.S. Iran plan is a bunker-busting bomb - thestar.com | That's not very nice.
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In Egypt, dissident Ayman Nour is pessimistic on eve of Obama visit - Los Angeles Times

In Egypt, dissident Ayman Nour is pessimistic on eve of Obama visit - Los Angeles Times
"I want to go back to jail," says Ayman Nour, whom the government released in February as an apparent goodwill gesture to the Obama administration. "The government insists on getting the maximum benefit out of my liberation, but they are causing me the maximum harm.I am denied all rights. My party cannot return to the political scene. I am stalked by the police. They are even messing with my personal life. There is no ceiling to the injustice and the revenge of this regime." [He also says no invitation to meet Obama - is Obama meeting with any civil society or opposition leaders at all?]
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Memo From Cairo - Why Freed Dissidents Pick Path of Most Resistance - NYTimes.com

Memo From Cairo - Why Freed Dissidents Pick Path of Most Resistance - NYTimes.com
Michael Slackman on what makes Ayman Nour and other dissidents continue to oppose their regimes after the punishment of prison, torture and worse. Update: Anonymous Arabist notes that the article (which he/she likes) contains the throwaway phrase "…particularly in a Middle Eastern culture that honors martyrdom…” and goes on to point out that the Arab world is hardly unique in "honoring martyrdom".
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The April 6 strike as seen by Egyptian newspapers

The headlines in today's Egyptian dailies: The state press - Al-Ahram (loyal and sycophantic): As per Mubarak's instructions, LE10bn will be earmarked for social welfare and job creation. - Al-Akhbar (dour and old-fashioned): "Call for strike: no room for chaos and production stoppage." - Al-Gomhouriya (gloating): "Egypt does not acknowledge chaos." - Rose al-Youssef (triumphant): "New defeats for the supporters of the strike." The mainstream independent press - Al-Masri al-Youm (brutally honest): A failed strike. - Al-Shorouq al-Gedid (poetic): 6 April: calm streets and timid protests. - Nahdet Misr (laconic): A strike without strikers. The opposition-independent press - Al-Badil (embarrassed): Weak participation in strike. - Al-Dostour (oblivious): 6 April: small protests The real big story of the day, though, are allegations by Masri al-Youm editor Magdi Gallad that Ayman Nour's wife and stalwart supporter, Gamila Ismail (well-known in Egypt as a former television presenter and later an advocate for her husband) that Gamila sent him a SMS saying she was divorcing Ayman. Ayman Nour then reportedly demanded that Gallad withdraw the edition of the paper where the information was published (with promises of a follow-up), which Gallad refused while lambasting Nour for attacking freedom of the press on public figures when Nour himself wants more transparency on public officials. It's not clear whether the news regarding the divorce has been confirmed yet, and Gamila has reportedly disappeared.
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Ayman Nour released

  Ayman Nour on the campaign trail in Menouf, 2005. Ayman Nour on the campaign trail in Menouf, 2005.     The public prosecutor's office declared a couple of hours ago that Ayman Nour would be released on medical grounds. I have heard he is now home. There is no further information as to why now, or why previous appeals to release him on medical ground were denied, but this appears to be a political decision. Rather strange timing that this happens a couple of days after the Washington Post urges the Obama administration not to deal with Hosni Mubarak unless Nour is freed. Let's assume - with all due respect to the integrity of the Egyptian legal system - that this is a political decision. What's the rationale? I think the most plausible explanation is that it is not just an overture to Obama that Mubarak wants to change the negative dynamic in the US-Egypt relationship. It is a clear message that says, "look: Bush tried for four years to pressure me. But I do things on my own timing and any pressure is counterproductive." The message is, before Obama and his administration settle into a clear approach on Egypt (I don't think the NSC staffer on Egypt has even been appointed yet), that if the same US approach to Egypt continues, it will only generate headaches. It was necessary to release Nour to improve the bilateral relationship, since after the 2006 Democratic takeover of Congress the Ayman Nour case became a congressional issue beyond the control of the administration (in fact Dick Cheney tried to intervene to calm down Congress, and was pushed back.) Over the last two years Congress has put unprecedented (even if still relatively mild) pressure on Egypt by withholding $100 million in military aid (but giving Condoleeza Rice the right to waiver the withholding, which she did twice). Now Congress will not have Ayman Nour to rally support around this, and the cautious State and DoD approach to the Egyptian relationship (which is very strong in military, intelligence, and a few issues aside diplomatic terms) could very well prevail - especially as we're seeing a new Egyptian crackdown on the tunnels to Gaza, the other big issue for Congress. So what happens now? Well, Obama staffers have a token sign of progress they can point to, and a lesson that the Bush approach failed. Congress has what it wants. Ayman Nour, under Egyptian law, is now no longer able to run for public office as he has a criminal record. The Ghad party has been torn in half and will take time to rebuild. The legislative and political environment is much worse than it was when Nour first emerged as a national figure in 2004-2005, and repression is taking place much more brutally and systematically. So, most probably, we will see US pressure on democratic reform die down, since policymakers will find it difficult to get support for another direct confrontation with the Egyptian regime. They will wait and see what happens after succession. And for Mubarak, patience and sheer stubbornness won in the end. Which goes to prove that "democracy promotion" is a policy that's in need of a serious rethink: "pressure" doesn't really work, and autocracies have time on their side - unless those doing the pressuring are willing to make a serious break with past practices. For now, I wish Ayman the best and am tremendously happy for his family, especially his brave wife Gameela who fought against all odds for so many years.
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