Showing posts tagged as "protests"

Showing posts tagged protests

25 Aug
Populist’s Brash Tactics Stir Fears of Crisis in Pakistan | DECLAN WALSHAUG
LONDON — Only last year, Imran Khan was casting himself as the savior of Pakistani politics: a playboy cricketer turned opposition leader who enjoyed respect and sex appeal, filling stadiums with adoring young Pakistanis drawn to his strident attacks on corruption, American drone strikes and old-school politics. When Mr. Khan promised that he would become prime minister, many believed him.
Now, though, Mr. Khan’s populist touch appears to have deserted him. 
He led thousands of supporters into the center of the capital, Islamabad, a week ago in a boisterous bid to force the resignation of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, whom he accuses of election fraud. But the crowds he attracted were much smaller than his party had hoped, and the protest movement has been messy, inchoate and inconclusive. 
FULL ARTICLE (The New York Times)
Photo: Mustafa Mohsin/flickr

Populist’s Brash Tactics Stir Fears of Crisis in Pakistan | DECLAN WALSHAUG

LONDON — Only last year, Imran Khan was casting himself as the savior of Pakistani politics: a playboy cricketer turned opposition leader who enjoyed respect and sex appeal, filling stadiums with adoring young Pakistanis drawn to his strident attacks on corruption, American drone strikes and old-school politics. When Mr. Khan promised that he would become prime minister, many believed him.

Now, though, Mr. Khan’s populist touch appears to have deserted him. 

He led thousands of supporters into the center of the capital, Islamabad, a week ago in a boisterous bid to force the resignation of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, whom he accuses of election fraud. But the crowds he attracted were much smaller than his party had hoped, and the protest movement has been messy, inchoate and inconclusive. 

FULL ARTICLE (The New York Times)

Photo: Mustafa Mohsin/flickr

21 Aug
Conflict Alert: Protecting Pakistan’s Threatened Democracy
Islamabad/Brussels  |   21 Aug 2014
A little over a year ago, Pakistan entered an unprecedented second phase of democratic transition, with one elected government handing power to another by peaceful, constitutional means. This fragile transition will be gravely threatened unless a fast-escalating political crisis is urgently defused. The protests rocking Islamabad threaten to upend the constitutional order, set back rule of law and open the possibility of a soft coup, with the military ruling through the backdoor. Renewed political instability at the centre would imperil any progress that has been made in addressing grievous economic, development and security challenges. The government’s moves, supported by the parliamentary opposition, to accommodate some of the protestors’ demands – particularly as regards electoral reform – are welcome. It is worrying, however, that protest leaders appear adamant in rejecting such outreach. Crisis Group calls on the political and military leadership to continue adherence to the constitution and enforcement of the rule of law, while permitting the right to peaceful protest. 
Protesting with several thousand supporters in front of the national parliament in Islamabad, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) Imran Khan and the Pakistan Awami Tehreek’s (PAT) cleric-cum-politician leader Tahirul Qadri are demanding Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s resignation. Beyond that their demands diverge. Qadri has called for resignation of the government, dissolution of all legislatures and formation of a national government to enact sweeping constitutional reform that would replace parliamentary democracy with a neo-theocratic order. Khan, who has prime ministerial ambitions, has claimed that massive rigging by the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), then Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry, segments of the media and many other institutions and individuals deprived him of victory in the May 2013 national and provincial elections. He wants those responsible for rigging tried for treason, Sharif’s resignation, dissolution of the national parliament, formation of a neutral interim government and new elections. While threatening the PTI’s resignation from the national parliament and the Sindh and Punjab provincial legislatures in which he has very limited representation, he has yet to decide a course of action in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province (KPK) where his is the governing party.
The government cannot absolve itself of all responsibility for the impasse, including confrontation between the police and Qadri’s followers in Punjab’s capital, Lahore, that resulted in the deaths of several PAT supporters in June and foot-dragging on Khan’s initial demands for a limited electoral audit. In the face of the Islamabad protests, however, it has thus far exercised restraint, concerned that any attempt to use force could further inflame sentiment, exacerbate the crisis and give spoilers opportunity to disrupt the democratic process. Further, it has accepted Khan’s original demand to recount votes in some disputed constituencies. It has also accepted his demand for a judicial probe into rigging, having requested the Supreme Court to set up a commission to investigate conduct of the May elections; and has responded positively to Khan’s critique of the ECP and the electoral process by constituting a parliamentary committee, including PTI legislators, to develop proposals for meaningful electoral reform. However, Khan has rejected these concessions and moved the goal posts, rejecting the elections entirely and calling for new polls.
All the major parties in the national parliament, including the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), which leads the opposition and was in power until losing to PML-N in 2013, have strongly opposed any steps to derail democracy. They urge Qadri and Khan to resolve their differences with the government peacefully and vociferously reject demands for the dissolution of national and provincial legislatures. Elected representatives from Sindh and Balochistan consider the crisis a tussle for power between Sharif, Khan and Qadri – all from Punjab, the most populous province – and a threat to the budding democratic institutions. Justices of the higher courts, including the Supreme Court of Pakistan, have called on the government and protestors to refrain from anything that would undermine constitutionalism and rule of law. Pro-democracy activists and civil society organisations, including bar councils and associations and journalist unions, also vow to protect democratic institutions and governance. 
Khan and Qadri appear bent on upping the ante. They have reneged on commitments to the government to restrict their activities to areas allocated for their respective demonstrations outside the “Red Zone” that includes the legislature and Supreme Court, the prime minister’s official residence and secretariat and many embassies. To avoid violence, the government has allowed them to enter this sensitive area, but the crisis would escalate if Khan follows through on calls to his followers to seize the prime minister’s residence unless Nawaz Sharif immediately resigns. Despite a past record of his followers resorting to violence, including against law enforcement officials, Qadri insists his protest will remain peaceful. He has yet to moderate demands for an end to the entire political order.
Khan’s and Qadri’s refusals to moderate their demands and the increased potential for violence have brought the military in more directly. Even before the crisis escalated, the government had given it the responsibility, under article 245 of the constitution, to secure the capital. It is now in charge of protecting all important Red Zone buildings, including parliament. Prime Minister Sharif, his brother and Punjab Minister Shahbaz Sharif and Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan have met with army chief General Raheel Sharif, apparently to seek army support or at least neutrality. Nisar has strongly rejected suspicions in some political quarters of a high-command role in fuelling the crisis, given its displeasure with the government’s decision to try former army chief and President Pervez Musharraf for treason and Khan’s and Qadri’s own ties with the defence establishment. 
That said, with several platoons of troops and paramilitary forces now facing off against demonstrators in the Red Zone, the dangers of military intervention have multiplied. If Khan’s threat to storm the prime minister’s residence or Qadri’s to cordon the National Assembly are realised, there could be bloody confrontation or, as in past political crises, an indirect military intervention. In the high command’s first public response, the head of Inter-Services Public Relations, Major General Asim Bajwa, called on all “stakeholders” to demonstrate “patience, wisdom and sagacity” and “resolve the prevailing impasse through meaningful dialogue in the larger national interests and public interests”. There is in this an implied risk that past military interventions – including the removal of three elected governments in the 1990s – cannot be ignored: that the military might decisively enter the fray if it judges the politicians to be insufficiently wise.
If democracy is to survive and stability preserved, it is essential that political and military leaders: 
Exercise restraint:
While Qadri has few stakes in the system and little interest in sustaining it, Khan’s party, which had its best electoral results in 2013, must understand that disruption of the democratic order could deprive it of the chance of forming governments by legitimate means. It should in particular cease calls to attack public property, including the prime minister’s residence or parliament. The danger that infiltrators, including terrorists and violent extremists, could exploit the situation to attack elected representatives, security personnel, diplomats or even demonstrators to provoke violence, cannot be ruled out. The government should allow the demonstrations to continue – peaceful protest is a constitutional right – while ensuring that citizens, public property and embassies are protected. 
Respect constitutionalism and protect democratic institutions:
The government, parliamentary opposition, demonstrators and the security apparatus must all respect the constitution and rule of law. Otherwise it would be next to impossible to resolve Pakistan’s security challenges, including militancy and terrorism that have claimed thousands of lives. The threat or use of force to advance political goals empowers spoilers and cuts the country’s moderate moorings. The abrogation of constitutions and closure of democratic avenues to address grievances and demands by successive dictatorial regimes fuelled political polarisation. The various components of the federation must not be led to believe that their interests and priorities could again be made hostage to extra-constitutional power deals. 
Hold meaningful negotiations:
The government must continue its efforts to seek a negotiated settlement of the crisis with Khan and Qadri, but should not allow the military to dictate the outcome of the bargaining process or concede to any demand that undermines constitutionalism, democratic governance and the rule of law. If Khan and Qadri are to convince the public their actions are in the national interest, they must respond constructively to such overtures.

Conflict Alert: Protecting Pakistan’s Threatened Democracy

Islamabad/Brussels  |   21 Aug 2014

A little over a year ago, Pakistan entered an unprecedented second phase of democratic transition, with one elected government handing power to another by peaceful, constitutional means. This fragile transition will be gravely threatened unless a fast-escalating political crisis is urgently defused. The protests rocking Islamabad threaten to upend the constitutional order, set back rule of law and open the possibility of a soft coup, with the military ruling through the backdoor. Renewed political instability at the centre would imperil any progress that has been made in addressing grievous economic, development and security challenges. The government’s moves, supported by the parliamentary opposition, to accommodate some of the protestors’ demands – particularly as regards electoral reform – are welcome. It is worrying, however, that protest leaders appear adamant in rejecting such outreach. Crisis Group calls on the political and military leadership to continue adherence to the constitution and enforcement of the rule of law, while permitting the right to peaceful protest. 

Protesting with several thousand supporters in front of the national parliament in Islamabad, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) Imran Khan and the Pakistan Awami Tehreek’s (PAT) cleric-cum-politician leader Tahirul Qadri are demanding Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s resignation. Beyond that their demands diverge. Qadri has called for resignation of the government, dissolution of all legislatures and formation of a national government to enact sweeping constitutional reform that would replace parliamentary democracy with a neo-theocratic order. Khan, who has prime ministerial ambitions, has claimed that massive rigging by the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), then Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry, segments of the media and many other institutions and individuals deprived him of victory in the May 2013 national and provincial elections. He wants those responsible for rigging tried for treason, Sharif’s resignation, dissolution of the national parliament, formation of a neutral interim government and new elections. While threatening the PTI’s resignation from the national parliament and the Sindh and Punjab provincial legislatures in which he has very limited representation, he has yet to decide a course of action in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province (KPK) where his is the governing party.

The government cannot absolve itself of all responsibility for the impasse, including confrontation between the police and Qadri’s followers in Punjab’s capital, Lahore, that resulted in the deaths of several PAT supporters in June and foot-dragging on Khan’s initial demands for a limited electoral audit. In the face of the Islamabad protests, however, it has thus far exercised restraint, concerned that any attempt to use force could further inflame sentiment, exacerbate the crisis and give spoilers opportunity to disrupt the democratic process. Further, it has accepted Khan’s original demand to recount votes in some disputed constituencies. It has also accepted his demand for a judicial probe into rigging, having requested the Supreme Court to set up a commission to investigate conduct of the May elections; and has responded positively to Khan’s critique of the ECP and the electoral process by constituting a parliamentary committee, including PTI legislators, to develop proposals for meaningful electoral reform. However, Khan has rejected these concessions and moved the goal posts, rejecting the elections entirely and calling for new polls.

All the major parties in the national parliament, including the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), which leads the opposition and was in power until losing to PML-N in 2013, have strongly opposed any steps to derail democracy. They urge Qadri and Khan to resolve their differences with the government peacefully and vociferously reject demands for the dissolution of national and provincial legislatures. Elected representatives from Sindh and Balochistan consider the crisis a tussle for power between Sharif, Khan and Qadri – all from Punjab, the most populous province – and a threat to the budding democratic institutions. Justices of the higher courts, including the Supreme Court of Pakistan, have called on the government and protestors to refrain from anything that would undermine constitutionalism and rule of law. Pro-democracy activists and civil society organisations, including bar councils and associations and journalist unions, also vow to protect democratic institutions and governance. 

Khan and Qadri appear bent on upping the ante. They have reneged on commitments to the government to restrict their activities to areas allocated for their respective demonstrations outside the “Red Zone” that includes the legislature and Supreme Court, the prime minister’s official residence and secretariat and many embassies. To avoid violence, the government has allowed them to enter this sensitive area, but the crisis would escalate if Khan follows through on calls to his followers to seize the prime minister’s residence unless Nawaz Sharif immediately resigns. Despite a past record of his followers resorting to violence, including against law enforcement officials, Qadri insists his protest will remain peaceful. He has yet to moderate demands for an end to the entire political order.

Khan’s and Qadri’s refusals to moderate their demands and the increased potential for violence have brought the military in more directly. Even before the crisis escalated, the government had given it the responsibility, under article 245 of the constitution, to secure the capital. It is now in charge of protecting all important Red Zone buildings, including parliament. Prime Minister Sharif, his brother and Punjab Minister Shahbaz Sharif and Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan have met with army chief General Raheel Sharif, apparently to seek army support or at least neutrality. Nisar has strongly rejected suspicions in some political quarters of a high-command role in fuelling the crisis, given its displeasure with the government’s decision to try former army chief and President Pervez Musharraf for treason and Khan’s and Qadri’s own ties with the defence establishment. 

That said, with several platoons of troops and paramilitary forces now facing off against demonstrators in the Red Zone, the dangers of military intervention have multiplied. If Khan’s threat to storm the prime minister’s residence or Qadri’s to cordon the National Assembly are realised, there could be bloody confrontation or, as in past political crises, an indirect military intervention. In the high command’s first public response, the head of Inter-Services Public Relations, Major General Asim Bajwa, called on all “stakeholders” to demonstrate “patience, wisdom and sagacity” and “resolve the prevailing impasse through meaningful dialogue in the larger national interests and public interests”. There is in this an implied risk that past military interventions – including the removal of three elected governments in the 1990s – cannot be ignored: that the military might decisively enter the fray if it judges the politicians to be insufficiently wise.

If democracy is to survive and stability preserved, it is essential that political and military leaders: 

Exercise restraint:

While Qadri has few stakes in the system and little interest in sustaining it, Khan’s party, which had its best electoral results in 2013, must understand that disruption of the democratic order could deprive it of the chance of forming governments by legitimate means. It should in particular cease calls to attack public property, including the prime minister’s residence or parliament. The danger that infiltrators, including terrorists and violent extremists, could exploit the situation to attack elected representatives, security personnel, diplomats or even demonstrators to provoke violence, cannot be ruled out. The government should allow the demonstrations to continue – peaceful protest is a constitutional right – while ensuring that citizens, public property and embassies are protected. 

Respect constitutionalism and protect democratic institutions:

The government, parliamentary opposition, demonstrators and the security apparatus must all respect the constitution and rule of law. Otherwise it would be next to impossible to resolve Pakistan’s security challenges, including militancy and terrorism that have claimed thousands of lives. The threat or use of force to advance political goals empowers spoilers and cuts the country’s moderate moorings. The abrogation of constitutions and closure of democratic avenues to address grievances and demands by successive dictatorial regimes fuelled political polarisation. The various components of the federation must not be led to believe that their interests and priorities could again be made hostage to extra-constitutional power deals. 

Hold meaningful negotiations:

The government must continue its efforts to seek a negotiated settlement of the crisis with Khan and Qadri, but should not allow the military to dictate the outcome of the bargaining process or concede to any demand that undermines constitutionalism, democratic governance and the rule of law. If Khan and Qadri are to convince the public their actions are in the national interest, they must respond constructively to such overtures.

18 Aug
Cricket star Imran Khan overplays hand in Pakistan power game | Katharine Houreld
ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - Cricket hero Imran Khan rode a wave of discontent to finally break through as a serious player in Pakistani politics at last year’s election. Now he is aiming even higher, leading thousands on a march to the capital in a bid to unseat the prime minister.
But in taking his campaign to force out Nawaz Sharif on to the streets of Islamabad, Khan may have overplayed his hand. This weekend his crowd of followers was already thinning out, and without overt support from the military his protests are unlikely to be a game-changer.
Thousands showed up for his rally on Saturday, but some supporters grumbled they had slept out in the rain while Khan relaxed in his nearby mansion.
"The path he’s chosen is one of protest," said Samina Ahmed, South Asia director of the Brussels-based International Crisis Group think tank. "Now the question is: does he have a strategy beyond the protest?"
FULL ARTICLE (Reuters)
Photo: Carol Mitchell/flickr

Cricket star Imran Khan overplays hand in Pakistan power game | Katharine Houreld

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - Cricket hero Imran Khan rode a wave of discontent to finally break through as a serious player in Pakistani politics at last year’s election. Now he is aiming even higher, leading thousands on a march to the capital in a bid to unseat the prime minister.

But in taking his campaign to force out Nawaz Sharif on to the streets of Islamabad, Khan may have overplayed his hand. This weekend his crowd of followers was already thinning out, and without overt support from the military his protests are unlikely to be a game-changer.

Thousands showed up for his rally on Saturday, but some supporters grumbled they had slept out in the rain while Khan relaxed in his nearby mansion.

"The path he’s chosen is one of protest," said Samina Ahmed, South Asia director of the Brussels-based International Crisis Group think tank. "Now the question is: does he have a strategy beyond the protest?"

FULL ARTICLE (Reuters)

Photo: Carol Mitchell/flickr

13 Aug
Thai junta aims to restart Muslim south dialogue
More than a year after previous talks stalled due to Thailand’s political crisis, the military has announced it will attempt to restart a peace dialogue with insurgents in the country’s Muslim-majority south demanding political autonomy.
The bitter conflict, rooted in historical distrust between Malay Muslims and Thai Buddhists, has killed over 6,000 people and injured around 10,800 since January 2004.
National Security Council Secretary-General Thawil Pliensri declared over the weekend that the talks with southern rebels would reconvene before the end of this month, in agreement with the junta.
The dialogue was initially started in March 2013 by then Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra’s civilian government, but was suspended last December as massive anti-government protests paralyzed the capital.
Since the May 22 coup, the junta has installed a series of reforms aimed at bringing together the two quarrelling factions - Red Shirts (opponents of the military and bureaucratic establishment) and Yellow Shirts (ardent royalists opposed to the governments of Yingluck and elder brother former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra) protesters - before new elections are held in October next year.
It now appears to be turning its attentions to the south.
FULL ARTICLE (World Bulletin)
Photo: Thomas Wanhoff/flickr

Thai junta aims to restart Muslim south dialogue

More than a year after previous talks stalled due to Thailand’s political crisis, the military has announced it will attempt to restart a peace dialogue with insurgents in the country’s Muslim-majority south demanding political autonomy.

The bitter conflict, rooted in historical distrust between Malay Muslims and Thai Buddhists, has killed over 6,000 people and injured around 10,800 since January 2004.

National Security Council Secretary-General Thawil Pliensri declared over the weekend that the talks with southern rebels would reconvene before the end of this month, in agreement with the junta.

The dialogue was initially started in March 2013 by then Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra’s civilian government, but was suspended last December as massive anti-government protests paralyzed the capital.

Since the May 22 coup, the junta has installed a series of reforms aimed at bringing together the two quarrelling factions - Red Shirts (opponents of the military and bureaucratic establishment) and Yellow Shirts (ardent royalists opposed to the governments of Yingluck and elder brother former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra) protesters - before new elections are held in October next year.

It now appears to be turning its attentions to the south.

FULL ARTICLE (World Bulletin)

Photo: Thomas Wanhoff/flickr

13 Jun

Watch Hugh Pope, Crisis Group’s Turkey/Cyprus Project Director, discuss the unrest in Turkey on the Charlie Rose Show

Photo: Flickr/Alan Hilditch

7 Jun
Erdogan can win by engaging Turkey’s park protesters | Bloomberg
By Hugh Pope
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been in tighter spots: He was thrown in jail for alleged Islamism, saw his last political party closed down and survived a showdown with the once all-powerful Turkish military.
Yet the street protests that erupted first in Istanbul and then across the country at the end of last month present a challenge he has never faced before. So far, he has mishandled the situation, and on June 6 showed no sign of backing down. That’s a mistake, because he has the ability to turn the protests to his advantage and the country’s.
Erdogan is Turkey’s most effective leader since the republic’s founder, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, and much of his success has been based on determination, populist rhetoric and a focus on business. Born into one of Istanbul’s notoriously tough neighborhoods, he is both the unyielding bulldozer of Turkish politics and the fix-it charmer. Almost 50 percent of the population voted for his Justice and Development Party two years ago.
What is happening in Turkey today is mostly about the other 50 percent of the country’s 76 million people. An opinion poll by academics at Istanbul’s Bilgi University found that 70 percent of the protesters had no strong political affiliation. The protests have been full of humor, volunteer enthusiasm, modern women, celebrities and bands of idealistic children skipping school. For the first week, the crowds were leaderless, the only things uniting them being social-media networks and a common slogan: “Tayyip, resign!”
FULL ARTICLE (Bloomberg)
Photo: Flickr/Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung

Erdogan can win by engaging Turkey’s park protesters | Bloomberg

By Hugh Pope

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been in tighter spots: He was thrown in jail for alleged Islamism, saw his last political party closed down and survived a showdown with the once all-powerful Turkish military.

Yet the street protests that erupted first in Istanbul and then across the country at the end of last month present a challenge he has never faced before. So far, he has mishandled the situation, and on June 6 showed no sign of backing down. That’s a mistake, because he has the ability to turn the protests to his advantage and the country’s.

Erdogan is Turkey’s most effective leader since the republic’s founder, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, and much of his success has been based on determination, populist rhetoric and a focus on business. Born into one of Istanbul’s notoriously tough neighborhoods, he is both the unyielding bulldozer of Turkish politics and the fix-it charmer. Almost 50 percent of the population voted for his Justice and Development Party two years ago.

What is happening in Turkey today is mostly about the other 50 percent of the country’s 76 million people. An opinion poll by academics at Istanbul’s Bilgi University found that 70 percent of the protesters had no strong political affiliation. The protests have been full of humor, volunteer enthusiasm, modern women, celebrities and bands of idealistic children skipping school. For the first week, the crowds were leaderless, the only things uniting them being social-media networks and a common slogan: “Tayyip, resign!”

FULL ARTICLE (Bloomberg)

Photo: Flickr/Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung

(Source: ekathimerini.com)

4 Feb
Egypt Conflict Alert
Brussels/Cairo | 4 Feb 2013
It is difficult to know which is most dangerous: the serious uptick in street violence; President Morsi’s and the Muslim Brotherhood’s serial inability to reach out to the rest of the political class inclusively; or the opposition clinging to the hope of some extraneous event (demonstrations, foreign pressure, judicial rulings or military intervention) allowing it to gain power while bypassing arduous compromise and politics. They are tied of course: the president’s cavalier treatment of the constitution-writing process and the judiciary and the opposition’s lethargic approach to politics and rejection of Islamist legitimacy alike have eroded the authority of state institutions. This encourages in turn unrest and contributes to the economic slide. Together, these heighten risks of a complete breakdown of law and order. For two years, political factions repeatedly have failed to reach consensus on basic rules of the game, producing a transition persistently threatening to veer off the road. It is past time for the president and opposition to reach an accommodation to restore and preserve the state’s integrity.
Since President Mubarak’s ouster, the level of violence has ebbed and flowed, yet each new wave brings the country closer to tipping point. Already, some police officers, beleaguered by attacks on their headquarters, are considering removing their uniforms and going home; there is talk of brewing discontent among Central Security Forces, the riot control police; and criminal gangs along with looters profit from the chaos. There are new shocking images of police brutality. Many young Egyptians increasingly appear disillusioned with electoral politics, and some are drawn to anarchical violence.
The situation is made worse by deteriorating economic conditions. As foreign currency reserves decline, the government finds it ever more difficult to prop up the Egypt’s pound or maintain fuel and food subsidies. One should not be surprised to see larger segments of the population joining in socio-economic riots. By current trends, Egypt could find itself in a vicious cycle of economic under-performance and political instability, the one fuelling the other.
FULL ALERT
Photo: Maggie Osama/Flickr

Egypt Conflict Alert

Brussels/Cairo | 4 Feb 2013

It is difficult to know which is most dangerous: the serious uptick in street violence; President Morsi’s and the Muslim Brotherhood’s serial inability to reach out to the rest of the political class inclusively; or the opposition clinging to the hope of some extraneous event (demonstrations, foreign pressure, judicial rulings or military intervention) allowing it to gain power while bypassing arduous compromise and politics. They are tied of course: the president’s cavalier treatment of the constitution-writing process and the judiciary and the opposition’s lethargic approach to politics and rejection of Islamist legitimacy alike have eroded the authority of state institutions. This encourages in turn unrest and contributes to the economic slide. Together, these heighten risks of a complete breakdown of law and order. For two years, political factions repeatedly have failed to reach consensus on basic rules of the game, producing a transition persistently threatening to veer off the road. It is past time for the president and opposition to reach an accommodation to restore and preserve the state’s integrity.

Since President Mubarak’s ouster, the level of violence has ebbed and flowed, yet each new wave brings the country closer to tipping point. Already, some police officers, beleaguered by attacks on their headquarters, are considering removing their uniforms and going home; there is talk of brewing discontent among Central Security Forces, the riot control police; and criminal gangs along with looters profit from the chaos. There are new shocking images of police brutality. Many young Egyptians increasingly appear disillusioned with electoral politics, and some are drawn to anarchical violence.

The situation is made worse by deteriorating economic conditions. As foreign currency reserves decline, the government finds it ever more difficult to prop up the Egypt’s pound or maintain fuel and food subsidies. One should not be surprised to see larger segments of the population joining in socio-economic riots. By current trends, Egypt could find itself in a vicious cycle of economic under-performance and political instability, the one fuelling the other.

FULL ALERT

Photo: Maggie Osama/Flickr

31 Jan
Egypt’s armed forces chief warns unrest could cause collapse of state | The Guardian
By Patrick Kingsley
Continuing civil unrest may soon cause the collapse of the Egyptian state, the head of the country’s armed forces warned.
Parts of Egypt are in turmoil following five days of rioting in which 52 people have been killed and more than 1,000 injured after protests against President Mohamed Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood and police brutality turned violent. The unrest comes two years after the start of the 2011 revolution that toppled the former dictator Hosni Mubarak.
General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s comments have sparked fears that the military might once again intervene in the day-to-day governance of Egypt, a country effectively ruled for most of the past century by army officers.
FULL ARTICLE (The Guardian)
Photo: Maggie Osama/Flickr

Egypt’s armed forces chief warns unrest could cause collapse of state | The Guardian

By Patrick Kingsley

Continuing civil unrest may soon cause the collapse of the Egyptian state, the head of the country’s armed forces warned.

Parts of Egypt are in turmoil following five days of rioting in which 52 people have been killed and more than 1,000 injured after protests against President Mohamed Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood and police brutality turned violent. The unrest comes two years after the start of the 2011 revolution that toppled the former dictator Hosni Mubarak.

General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s comments have sparked fears that the military might once again intervene in the day-to-day governance of Egypt, a country effectively ruled for most of the past century by army officers.

FULL ARTICLE (The Guardian)

Photo: Maggie Osama/Flickr

15 Nov
Riots Erupt Across Jordan Over Gas Prices | The New York Times
By Jodi Rudoren
JERUSALEM — Violent protests broke out across Jordan on Tuesday night after the government announced an increase in fuel prices, inciting what appeared to be an unparalleled show of anger directed at the king after months of mounting tension in the strategically important and politically fragile kingdom.
Demonstrators burned tires, smashed traffic lights and blocked roads in several Jordanian cities. Riot police officers tried to quell some of the crowds with tear gas. There were calls for a general strike on Wednesday.
FULL ARTICLE (The New York Times)
Photo: Kaj17/Flickr

Riots Erupt Across Jordan Over Gas Prices | The New York Times

By Jodi Rudoren

JERUSALEM — Violent protests broke out across Jordan on Tuesday night after the government announced an increase in fuel prices, inciting what appeared to be an unparalleled show of anger directed at the king after months of mounting tension in the strategically important and politically fragile kingdom.

Demonstrators burned tires, smashed traffic lights and blocked roads in several Jordanian cities. Riot police officers tried to quell some of the crowds with tear gas. There were calls for a general strike on Wednesday.

FULL ARTICLE (The New York Times)

Photo: Kaj17/Flickr

5 Oct
Some Protesters in Middle East Regret Anti-U.S. Outbreaks | The New York Times 
By Kristen McTighe 
CAIRO — Ahmad Aggour is a 24-year-old Egyptian activist who was shot in the face by the police during clashes last November on Mohammed Mahmoud Street in Cairo and again in his legs in February at protests that followed soccer riots in Port Said. In short, he has no qualms about protesting.
Yet Mr. Aggour said he was embarrassed when a mob of angry protesters breached the United States Embassy’s walls in Cairo on Sept. 11 to protest a short trailer for an amateur film mocking the Prophet Muhammad.
FULL ARTICLE (The New York Times)
Photo: Iban Zawaar/Flickr 

Some Protesters in Middle East Regret Anti-U.S. Outbreaks | The New York Times 

By Kristen McTighe 

CAIRO — Ahmad Aggour is a 24-year-old Egyptian activist who was shot in the face by the police during clashes last November on Mohammed Mahmoud Street in Cairo and again in his legs in February at protests that followed soccer riots in Port Said. In short, he has no qualms about protesting.

Yet Mr. Aggour said he was embarrassed when a mob of angry protesters breached the United States Embassy’s walls in Cairo on Sept. 11 to protest a short trailer for an amateur film mocking the Prophet Muhammad.

FULL ARTICLE (The New York Times)

Photo: Iban Zawaar/Flickr