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Arabs Rise for Change






IPRI Factfile



The Tunisian Spill Over

Arab States: A Quagmire of Tyranny
The Arab Scene
Infectious Unrest
Middle East Turmoil
The Fate of the Arabs will be Settled in Egypt, not Libya
Democracy Versus Culture
Who Fears Arab Revolutionaries?
Making Sense of Libya and Bahrain
Arab Youth Demand their Rights
Arab Turmoil
Analysts Link Arab Winds of Change to School Texts
Arab Revolution and Social Networking Sites
Americas Arab Comeback
Time for Political Deals in Libya and Yemen
After Popular Uprisings
Middle East in Search of Identity
Arab Revolution Fuelled by a New Kind of Music
The Arab Street Versus the Arab Elite


20. Is Algeria Prepared for a New Revolution?




Bahrain Unrest
Strategic Dimension of Bahrain Crisis
Bahrain: Need for Restraint


After Mubarak
Egypts New Legitimacy
Egypt on the Move
Egyptian Democracys Growing Pains
Egypt Will Set the Pace Again





Lebanon in Crisis


Libyan Struggle
Solving the Libyan Quagmire: Exile Option for Gaddafi
The Libyan Conundrum


Arabs Rise for Change


The Fruit Doesnt Fall Far from the Tree

Another Imperialist Intervention
An Allied Intervention in Libya
Dont Turn Libya into Iraq, Afghanistan
A Long War in Libya
Attack on Libya
Libyas Turn
Air Strikes on Libya
Arabs Should Save Arab Libya
Libya and the International Community
Libyas Open Ended Fiasco
Libya Faces Partition
Libya and Altruism
Libya: Jihadees are Coming
Libyan Royal Family Waits in Wings for Qadhafi Ouster
Wests Dangerous Libyan Game



Protests Escalate in Syria Despite Crackdown

Protests in Syria
Grim Scene in Syria



Revolt in Tunisia
Tunisias Ripple Effects



Yemen: The Way Out

Yemen: The Nexus of Arabia






Pakistanis in Libya
Recruiting Mercenaries
Alone Abroad
Pakistanis in Bahrain
Salman Bashirs Pragmatic Assessment
Arab Unrest: Pakistan Advised to Stay Neutral

IPRI Publications



IPRI Factfile

The 21st century world has become a global village. The people of one country
and region are influenced by happenings in other countries and regions. The
level of education and political consciousness of the masses is on the increase.
Beside textbooks, the students are benefiting immensely from new
technologies and the internet. The younger generation is not the same in their
outlook as their forefathers. Unlike the old generation, they are not prepared
to accept repression and authoritarianism. In addition, there is a dichotomy
between the aspirations of the people and the policies of their governments.
Thus, the people have risen for change and there have been unprecedented
protests against their rulers.
Tunisias Jasmine Revolution is the Arab worlds popular uprising
triggered by the self-immolation of a young Tunisian on December 17, 2010
resulting in President Zaine El Abidine Ben Alis fall after 23 years of
authoritarian rule. This epoch making event stirred almost the entire Arab
world from North Africa to Middle East up to the Persian Gulf in Algeria,
Bahrain, Egypt, Libya, Syria, Yemen, etc. The people have succeeded in
Tunisia and Egypt, but, as yet, there is a stalemate elsewhere.
The Arab world is in a state of flux. Mass protests have turned violent in
several Arab countries. So far the Western nations have restricted themselves
to counseling the Arab rulers where they do not have any major strategic,
political or economic interests. But the NATO is involved in air operations
against the government forces in Libya, perhaps because, besides humanitarian
considerations, there is oil and a sea of fresh water underneath. However, they
should be cautious that military action may have its unintended momentum
and consequences. Already, Russian Prime Minister Viladimir Putin has
observed that the concept of a just war may turn into a crusade.
The future of the Arab world seems uncertain but change is imminent in
the Middle East. All countries in turmoil have not demanded elections but,
ultimately, the peoples power shall prevail. Apparently, the solution lies in
pressurizing and motivating the contending parties to end violence. The rulers
and the ruled should negotiate and resolve their differences peacefully, avoid
bloodshed, introduce necessary changes and implement reforms to
accommodate peoples demands. It would be better if outside powers do not
have a partisan attitude but play a constructive role so that they may facilitate
in restoring peace and stability in the region.
As for Pakistan, there does not seem any likelihood of an uprising for
change as that is possible through elections. But the Foreign Secretary, Salman

Arabs Rise for Change

Bashir, has stated before the Senate Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs
that the ongoing unrest in the Arab region might affect Pakistan. He may be
right because the Pakistani diaspora is there in most of the Arab countries,
providing their services in various capacities, and sending valuable foreign
exchange back home. Already Pakistan has been suffering economically,
politically, socially and in terms of security for the last three decades due to a
spill over effect of turmoil in Afghanistan. Similarly, Pakistans economy and
security is interlinked with the events in the Middle East. Pakistan should
therefore support sincere and sustainable efforts for peace and stability in the
The IPRI Factfile contains a collection of selected articles appearing in
the media from January 15, 2010 to April 25, 2011.

April 30, 2011.

Dr Noor ul Haq

Arabs Rise for Change

More than its internal repercussions, the upheaval in Tunisia and the fall of a
civilian despot have begun to cast their shadows over the Arab world beyond
North Africa. Within days of President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali`s flight to
Saudi Arabia after 23 years of iron-fisted rule, cases of self-immolation have
rocked three African Arab countries. Food riots in Algeria had begun even
before the Dec 17 suicide that triggered the stir against Mr Ben Ali. Protest
suicides have been reported from Algeria, Mauritania and Egypt, and in
Yemen the police had to fire in the air to disperse student demonstrators. This
is a warning to the Arab world`s autocratic regimes. What is unique about
Tunisia`s `Jasmine Revolution` is its spontaneous and civilian character. Most
`revolutions` in the Arab world, such as those in Egypt, Iraq, Libya and
Yemen, which toppled the monarchies were led by military officers and were
essentially anti-Western or to use a Cold War term, `anti- imperialist` in
character. There were also `revolutions` that stemmed in actuality from a
power struggle, such as the numerous coups by Baathist leaders in Syria and
Iraq. Tunisia`s revolution is the Arab world`s first popular uprising. Unlike
other Arab `revolutions` which were often welcomed by either the US or the
USSR depending upon their Cold War expediency, Tunisia`s stir has
worldwide backing, for the people were clamouring for civil liberties and a
better life.
The Internet and satellite television have vaporised political and social
barriers, making people the world over conscious of their political and
economic rights more than ever before. The stifling atmosphere that
characterises the Arab world needs fresh air. The oil-rich countries may not
have poverty, but their people have no freedom. In countries such as Egypt,
Syria and Yemen, there is neither prosperity nor freedom of choice. Political
reform is long overdue in the Arab world.
Editorial, Dawn (Islamabad), January 20, 2011,




Arabs are rebelling not just against decrepit autocrats but the foreign backers
who kept them in power. We are witnessing the breakdown of the Arab state
after decades of failure and mounting crises. The Arab political establishment
has never looked weaker than it does today. It is either dying a protracted
silent death, corroded from within, or collapsing in thunderous explosions.
Tunisia, which toppled its dictator through popular revolution two weeks ago,

IPRI Factfile

is by no means an exception. The symptoms are evident throughout the

region, from the accelerating movement of protest in Egypt, Algeria and
Jordan, or the increasing polarisation of Lebanon's sectarian politics, to the
near-collapse of the state in Yemen and Sudan, and its complete disintegration
in Somalia.
The postcolonial Arab state has always carried deficiency as part of its
genetic make-up. It had emerged as a substitute for the complex network of
local elites, tribal chieftains and religious groupings through which the imperial
authorities had maintained their grip; and its mission was the regulation of the
indigenous population. This system of indirect control over the region, which
assumed its present shape in the aftermath of the first world war, specifically
required a "state" that is capable of keeping the local populations under check
and maintaining "stability" at home, but too weak to disrupt foreign influence
or disturb the regional balance of powers.
The first generation of post-colonial Arab leaders, the likes of Egypt's
Nasser and Tunisia's Bourguiba, had been able to soften the repressive nature
of the Arab state by virtue of their personal charisma, and promises of
progress. With their exit from the stage, and the entry of a new class of
colourless autocrats and crude generals, the Arab state lost any cover of
legitimacy, and became synonymous with violence and oppression.
Much of the turmoil plaguing the region today is traceable to its
diseased political order. Its degeneration has wrought havoc on the social
sphere too. It has led to weaker national identities, and to individuals reverting
to their narrower sectarian affiliations, sparking conflicts between Sunnis and
Shias, Arabs and Kurds, Copts and Muslims. The result has been a growth in
extremism, self-insulation, and what the French Lebanese novelist Amin
Maalouf calls "killer identities".
Beyond the Arab state's aura of physical might embodied in its
terrifying coercion apparatus lurks a moral vulnerability and an abysmal
dearth of popular allegiance. This paradox has been laid bare by protesters in
Tunisia and is in the process of being exposed in Egypt today. These
demonstrators are discovering the extreme frailty of the instruments of
repression that have long crushed and suffocated them simultaneously, with
the staggering power of their collective action on the street. The ousting of
Tunisia's tyrant after no more than a month of perpetual protests has handed
millions of Arabs the magical key out of the prison of fear behind whose walls
they have been incarcerated for decades.
Events in Tunisia, Egypt and to a lesser extent Algeria are
harbingers of a change long impeded and postponed. Were it not for the
international will to maintain the worn out status quo, what happened in
eastern Europe and the Soviet Union in the late 1980s could have occurred in
the Arab region too. Its decrepit autocrats were allowed to stagger on,
shedding their old skins and riding on the wave of rampant economic

Arabs Rise for Change

liberalism, which benefited the narrow interests of ruling families and their
associates alone, and thrust the rest into a bottomless pit of poverty and
Arab rulers aided by their foreign allies have been able to steal over
two decades of their societies' political life. Today they face the hour of truth:
either radically transform the structure of authoritarian Arab rule, or depart for
ever. The trouble is that an entity that has made coercion its raison d'etre and
violence its sole means of survival has left itself no option but to sink deeper
in the quagmire of tyranny. And the trouble for its sponsors, who have made
its preservation the cornerstone of their "stability" strategy in the region, is
that they have now tied their own hands, with no choice but to blindly stick
with their "friends" to the last breath.
That is why those demonstrating on Arab streets today feel that they are
not only rebelling against a band of corrupt local despots, but against their
foreign backers too. And though we cannot predict the future, the likelihood is
that just as Latin Americans had seen the fall of many Pinochets in the 1980s,
Arabs will witness more Ben Alis before the close of this decade.
Soumaya Ghannoushi, Guardian, January 28, 2011,

The Tunisia-inspired movement has created ripples across the Arab world.
The intensity of the stir in Egypt may be nowhere near what happened in the
western world`s favourite holiday resort in the Maghreb, but there appears to
be real political flux. The diversity in culture and the internal political make-up
is obvious enough from even a cursory survey of capitals such as Riyadh,
Beirut and Cairo. But if there is a common thread that runs through the fabric
of the Arab world`s political ethos, it is the suppression of the democratic will
of the people. Either there is an absence of democracy, as in most Arab
monarchies, or if there are elections and referenda, as in the `northern belt`,
they are manipulated to give quasi-civilian dictators a 90 per cent win.
Hereditary rule is not confined to the monarchies, and some Arab civilian
strongmen nominate their sons as successors.
Beyond the current wave of open defiance of authority in Egypt and
elsewhere, muffled anger has existed in the Arab world for decades. The oilrich dynasties may have given their people prosperity and a tax-free life. But
the absence of rudimentary notions of democracy has alienated the
intelligentsia and the fast-expanding educated middle class that, despite
censorship and bans, know the world they live in. The regimes in non-oil
economies have given their people neither a decent standard of living nor

IPRI Factfile

representative government in the accepted meaning of the term. Most Arab

leaders today stand discredited. While leaders like Nasser, Bourguiba, Ben
Bella and Anwar Saadat could perhaps claim to have some support from their
people and certain achievements, today most Arab governments from the
Atlantic to the Gulf have offered their people little that could give them a
stake in the status quo. One or two Arab states have made attempts at reform.
An Arab monarchy like Kuwait may put in place a pliant representative
structure, but even in countries where elections are held periodically
transparency in voting and an even playing field for all political parties and
elements is lacking.
What the Arab rulers fail to realise is they have sown the seeds for the
growth of intolerant, religiously inspired forces. The one to lose is the liberal
opposition, because it fails to convey its tolerant version of religion to the
people in the open. Instead it is religious extremists with a hate message and
radical agenda who have been given a safe gestation period. Tunisia should
serve as a wake-up call to Arab rulers. Their people cannot indefinitely be kept
away from shaping their own future.
Editorial, Dawn (Islamabad), January 28, 2011,

The Tunisian wave appears unstoppable. Anti-government protests have
become contagious, and though their severity varies from country to country,
regimes well entrenched for decades appear to be desperate. Whether the
rulers in Bahrain, Libya and Yemen, too, will go the Ben Ali and Hosni
Mubarak way cannot be predicted with certainty. But what is abundantly clear
is that a new Middle East is fighting to be born. The old authoritarian systems
may not be thrown out lock, stock and barrel, but the new awakening among
the people must have made clear to the ruling oligarchies that the political
order they have crafted has not delivered and is ripe for collapse. In Libya, its
oil wealth has not stopped its people from expressing their anger against
Muammar Qadhafis 42-year-old despotism; in Yemen President Ali Abdullah
Saleh has been unable to contain protests that have already caused several
deaths, while in Bahrain, the Shia majority is finally making its presence felt.
Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Yemen and Bahrain may differ in terms
of the internal make-up of their respective regimes and the level of their
individual socio-economic development, but what is common to them is the
perpetuation of systems that have denied even a modicum of freedom to their
people. Bahrain may be a monarchy and the others republican in theory, but
for all practical purposes the Mubaraks and Ben Alis of the Middle East have
lorded it over their subjects in royal splendour. In Yemen and Bahrain,

Arabs Rise for Change

demonstrations have already achieved partial successes: President Saleh will

not contest the next election, and Bahrains King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa has
set up a committee to study proposed reforms. In Egypt, calm has not
returned. People want missing persons to be traced and policemen accused of
excessive use of force punished. In the other countries, change may not be
orderly and could give way to chaos. While a radical redrawing of the political
order may not be possible for the unpopular leaders still clinging to power, the
least they can do is to announce an early date for holding fair general elections.
Editorial, Dawn (Islamabad), February 18, 2011,


Across the Middle East the Arab street is on the march. The events that began
with the self-immolation of a Tunisian man in mid-December have morphed
into a transnational movement that has, to date, felled two pillars of the old
Arab order Hosni Mubarak and Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali. From the
impoverished streets of Sanaa to the gleaming skyscrapers of Manama and
beyond, one word seems to be on the peoples lips: change. A mix of factors
political, economic and social has been fuelling unrest. Yet what seems
to be at the heart of peoples disaffection is the fact that repressive, often
western-backed regimes led by strongmen or ruling cliques have maintained
ossified systems in the Arab world for decades. While those heading the
regimes and their cronies have led comfortable lives, the vast majority of Arab
citizens have been denied their political or economic rights. In Bahrain, for
example, economic issues and sectarian problems have combined to create a
volatile situation. Many among the countrys Shia majority feel they have been
given a raw deal by the Sunni royal family; Shia areas in the tiny but affluent
Gulf nation are among its poorest. Morocco is the latest to join the fray with
protesters calling for a new constitution.
Though it is hoped there will be a peaceful transition towards a new
democratic Arab socio-political order, recent events have shown that change
can be bloody. Muammar Qadhafis reputation as a benign if quirky dictator
has certainly been challenged as almost 200 people have reportedly died in the
violence in his country: the Libyan state has cracked down with brutality.
Reports indicate that security forces shot live rounds into the crowds. The
state has also reacted severely in Bahrain as the army savagely uprooted a
protest camp earlier on before troops were withdrawn. In short, people want
representative government, an end to repression and a more equal distribution
of wealth. Political reforms in the Middle East are a must and the autocrats
should negotiate peaceful, democratic transitions of power, or else be prepared

IPRI Factfile

to be swept away by the winds of change.

Editorial, Dawn (Islamabad), February 22, 2011,








If Egyptians can build a genuinely popular democratic system, all the

dominoes in the region will eventually fall. Barely two months since the
triumphant overthrow of the Tunisian dictator that detonated the Arab
revolution, a western view is taking hold that it's already gone horribly wrong.
In January and February, TV screens across the world were filled with
exhilarating images of hundreds of thousands of peaceful demonstrators,
women and men, braving Hosni Mubarak's goons in Cairo's Tahrir square
while Muslims and Christians stood guard over each other as they prayed.
A few weeks on and reports from the region are dominated by the relentless
advance of Colonel Gaddafi's forces across Libya, as one rebel stronghold
after another is crushed. Meanwhile Arab dictators are falling over each other
to beat and shoot protesters, while Saudi troops have occupied Bahrain to
break the popular pressure for an elected government. In Egypt itself, 11
people were killed in sectarian clashes between Christians and Muslims last
week and women protesters were assaulted by misogynist thugs in Tahrir
Increasingly, US and European politicians and media hawks are insisting
it's all because the west has shamefully failed to intervene militarily in support
of the Libyan opposition. The Times on Wednesday blamed Barack Obama
for snuffing out a "dawn of hope" by havering over whether to impose a nofly zone in Libya. But Saudi Arabia's dangerous quasi-invasion of Bahrain is a
reminder that Libya is very far from being the only place where hopes are
being stifled.
The west's closest Arab ally, which has declared protest un-Islamic, bans
political parties and holds an estimated 8,000 political prisoners, has sent
troops to bolster the Bahraini autocracy's bloody resistance to democratic
Underlying the Saudi provocation is a combustible cocktail of sectarian
and strategic calculations. Bahrain's secular opposition to the Sunni ruling
family is mainly supported by the island's Shia majority. The Saudi regime fears
both the influence of Iran in a Shia-dominated Bahrain and the infection of its
own repressed Shia minority concentrated in the eastern region, centre of
the largest oil reserves in the world.
Considering that both Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, home to the United
States fifth fleet, depend on American support, the crushing of the Bahraini

Arabs Rise for Change

democracy movement or the underground Saudi opposition should be a good

deal easier for the west to fix than the Libyan maelstrom.
But neither the US nor its intervention-hungry allies show the slightest
sign of using their leverage to help the people of either country decide their
own future. Instead, as Bahrain's security forces tear-gassed and terrorised
protesters, the White House merely repeated the mealy-mouthed call it made
in the first weeks of the Egyptian revolution for "restraint on all sides".
It's more than understandable that the Libyan opposition now being
ground down by superior firepower should be desperate for outside help.
Sympathy for their plight runs deep in the Arab world and beyond. But
western military intervention whether in the form of arms supplies or Britain
and France's favoured no-fly zone would, as the Turkish prime minister
Recep Tayyip Erdogan argues, be "totally counter-productive" and "deepen
the problem".
Experience in Iraq and elsewhere suggests it would prolong the war,
increase the death toll, lead to demands for escalation and risk dividing the
country. It would also be a knife at the heart of the Arab revolution, depriving
Libyans and the people of the region of ownership of their own political
Arab League support for a no-fly zone has little credibility, dominated as
it still is by despots anxious to draw the US yet more deeply into the region;
while the three Arab countries lined up to join the military effort Saudi
Arabia, Jordan and the UAE are themselves among the main barriers to the
process of democratisation that intervention would be supposed to strengthen.
Genuinely independent regional backing from, say, Egypt would be
another matter, as would Erdogan's proposal of some sort of negotiated
solution: whatever the outcome of the conflict there will be no return of the
status quo ante for the Gaddafi regime.
In any case, the upheaval now sweeping the Arab world is far bigger
than the struggle in Libya and that process has only just begun. Any idea that
all the despots would throw in the towel as quickly as Zin al-Abidine Ben Ali
and Mubarak was always a pipedream. They may well be strengthened in their
determination to use force by events in Libya. And the divisions of ethnicity,
sect and tribe in each society will be ruthlessly exploited by the regimes and
their foreign sponsors to try to hold back the tide of change.
But across the region people insist they have lost their fear. There is a
widespread expectation that the Yemeni dictator, Ali Abdallah Saleh, will be
the next to fall where violently suppressed street protests have been led by a
woman, the charismatic human rights campaigner Tawakul Karman, in what is
a deeply conservative society.
And where regimes make cosmetic concessions, such as in Jordan, they
find they are only fuelling further demands. As the Jordanian Islamist

IPRI Factfile

opposition leader, Rohile Gharaibeh, puts it: "Either we achieve democracy

under a constitutional monarchy or there will be no monarchy at all".
The key to the future of the region, however, remains Egypt. It is
scarcely surprising if elements of the old regime try to provoke social division,
or attempts are made to co-opt and infiltrate the youth movements that played
the central role in the uprising, or that the army leadership wants to put a lid
on street protests and strikes.
But the process of change continues. In the past fortnight
demonstrators have occupied and closed secret police headquarters, and the
Mubarak-appointed prime minister has been dumped and Egyptians are now
preparing to vote on constitutional amendments that would replace army rule
with an elected parliament and president within six months.
There is a fear among some activists that the revolution may only put a
democratic face on the old system. But the political momentum remains
powerful. A popular democratic regime in Cairo would have a profound
impact on the entire region. Nothing is guaranteed, but all the signs are that
sooner or later, the dominoes will fall.
Seumas Milne, Guardian, March 16, 2011,




Regardless of the consequences of the ongoing turmoil in the Arab states in

the short run, it should give a fresh impetus to the efforts students of politics
have been making to analyse the travails of societies that gained independence
after the Second World War.
What has happened to Tunisias Ben Ali and Egypts Hosni Mubarak,
what Qadhafi is trying to avert by making his country desolate, or what some
other potentates are hoping to forestall with pain-reducing palliatives they call
reforms is not new. Similar was the fate of many Third World leaders who had
earlier been hailed as liberators of their people, fathers of their nations.
No more than half a century ago, the leaders of a resurrected China,
Indonesia, India, Egypt and Yugoslavia were shining as beacons of light for
the large mass of humankind that was emerging from the dark age of
imperialist exploitation. The people of Africa, belittled by its plunderers for
decades as the Dark Continent, were lining up under revolutionary leaders
banners of freedom, justice and continental unity. What happened to the bevy
of charismatic leaders, their legacy and their societies?
Soekarno of Indonesia was felled from power and grace by the forces he
had preferred to colleagues of the freedom struggle and whom he had
strengthened by denying the masses the fruits of deliverance from colonial

Arabs Rise for Change

masters. Nasser of Egypt died a broken man, driven to the wall by the forces
of tribalism backed by clerics and international moneybags. Nkrumah of
Ghana was brought down by the unavoidable corruption of absolute rule.
Write the same for Banda of Zambia. Tito of Yugoslavia died just before the
nations he had clobbered together unsheathed their knives against one
Of the Third World leaders who departed with their reputation intact,
Nyerere was helped by his austerity and the decision to retire, Zhou Enlai was
protected by the momentum of the revolution, and Nehru benefited from the
Indian peoples long history of social evolution.
Where are the people who were led by these great leaders? Have they
been able to realise the goals of freedom, equality and progress that had been
inscribed on their standards during the long and bitter fight against alien rulers,
and for which countless people had fallen along the way? The most charitable
answer will be that they are still trying. An analysis of the post-independence
political history of these countries may help one find clues to their common
Except for China, which needs to be studied separately along with other
socialist countries, especially the Soviet Union and Cuba, the front-runners in
the Third World opted for democratic state structures, many of them under
the guidance of experts steeped in the conventions of parliamentary
democracy of the Westminster style. This system presented serious problems
that the builders of new states, in the flush of victory, chose to ignore.
The most critical issues faced by these countries were, first, the
transplantation of a system of political equality of citizens in societies that were
violently hostile to the concept of social equality, and, secondly, the absence of
a sufficiently large section of the population with a stake in the democratic
system. Besides, they lacked the human resources needed to manage affairs
democratically. Most of these countries instead of meeting these shortages
chose to plod on and gradually deviated from democratic norms, especially
after the knowledge gained under articleship with the former rulers was
exhausted, as happened in Pakistan in the mid-1950s. They started relying
more and more on the military and civil bureaucracy, especially the secret
services, for suppressing dissent and frightening the populations into
Most of these new states had weak economies. Whatever development
had taken place was designed to subserve the colonial powers economies.
They jumped at any offer of aid regardless of the level of its appropriateness to
their needs or their capacity to use it for national good. On top of all this the
Cold War played havoc with many countries. On the one hand they got
addicted to aid, lost the habit of thinking ways out of their problems, and on
the other hand the imbalance in civil-military relations and the latters


IPRI Factfile

ascendancy at the cost of the former laid the foundations of an endless game
of seesaw between democrats and authoritarian elements.
These developments took place in a period of humankinds
unprecedented awakening across the globe to the concepts of freedom, justice
and prosperity as rights no people could be deprived of. The message to new
democracies was that no regime could sustain itself by force alone; that it was
necessary to nourish pro-democratic forces by freeing their people of
undemocratic relations tribalism, feudalism and social stratification on the
basis of belief, ethnicity or caste and by creating channels for developing
and training human material in the art of good governance, such as a vibrant
academia, a free media, robust trade unions and autonomous professional
All the Arab states facing trouble these days, and quite a few other
countries, are paying for their failure to meet these demands of a democratic
polity. Since these countries were afraid of strong political parties their leaders
became aliens to their own people who could not learn any means of replacing
incompetent, corrupt and selfish leaders except through upheavals backed by
any party whose bona fides could not be checked. Thus, democratic
experiments were wrecked by the rulers failure to free the peoples culture of
pre-democracy, even pre-political, assumptions.
India is generally considered to have escaped the decline discussed here
but India has earned credit because other countries have fared worse. Further,
India had started deriving strength from an indigenous capital that aided the
freedom struggle as part of its conflict with the colonial powers capital. India
also benefited by staying out of Cold War politics for a considerable period.
For Pakistan all this is not a matter of academic interest only. The
colonial pattern of governance adopted by it has completely decayed and
cannot be repaired. Neither those in power nor those waiting in the wings can
put the state back on democratic rails without creating an environment
conducive to the founding and flowering of democratic governance. Many
observers have attributed Pakistans trials to a failure to resolve the
contradiction between democratic precepts and the culture/mindset of the
population. Pakistan needs to develop a democratic culture, they often argue.
But political culture is only a reflection of economic and social relations and
unless these relations are changed it will be impossible to foster a culture a
democracy cannot do without.
I.A Rehman, Dawn (Islamabad), March 17, 2011,

Arabs Rise for Change



Authoritarian rulers are afraid of losing their power before the relentless
advance of the Arab revolution. Washington vacillated between support for
the Egyptian revolutionaries and understanding for the Mubarak position.
America may be said to be moderately cautious about future developments;
Israel is clearly apprehensive.
Neither the US nor Israel know what it is like to deal with a
democratically elected Arab ruler truly representing the will of the people.
They were clearly more comfortable with authoritarian rulers quickly acceding
to their demands and assuring them of 'stability' even at the cost of repression
and denial of human rights.
Consider the following example. During the 2003 American
preparations for the invasion of Iraq, while the Arab street was strongly
opposed to the American war against Iraq, Arab rulers in Egypt, Jordan and
other countries cooperated with Washington and facilitated its military
strategy. The Turkish government of Recep Tayyip Erdogan, on the other
hand, reflecting the Turkish people's sentiment, presented the American
request for permission to use Turkish territories to invade Iraq, to the Turkish
Parliament. An overwhelming majority rejected the American request, even
though Turkey is a member of Nato.
To understand the magnitude of the Arab revolution sweeping across
the Arab world, we should place it in context. For instance, can we speak of
Arab revolutionaries?

Revolt against Ottoman Rule

Up until the wave of revolutions that is sweeping the Arab world, with
dramatic results in Tunisia and Egypt, history did not record an Arab
revolution and much less Arab revolutionaries. There is to be sure the 1916
Arab revolt against Ottoman rule, facilitated and ultimately betrayed by
England, which along with France divided the Middle East among themselves
instead of upholding the promise to establish and support an independent
Arab state.
There is also the 1952 military coup that overthrew the monarchy and
deposed former Egyptian king Farouk. The Free Officers who mounted the
bloodless coup claimed that this was a revolution for the people. And
textbooks usually referred to the coup as a revolution. But it was not a
revolution for democracy. Although former Egyptian president Jamal Abdul
Nasser's agrarian reform was designed to advance social justice, his harsh
treatment of his opponents and denial of democratic freedoms led to the
establishment of the police state that former presidents Sadat and Mubarak
came to rely on to consolidate their autocratic rule.


IPRI Factfile

This begs the question: Why the glaring absence of democratic

revolutionary traditions in the Arab world? It may be the centuries of
domination under Ottoman rule, or the long and humiliating colonial
intervention by England in Egypt, by France in Algeria and Tunisia, and by the
Italians in Libya.
While these may be necessary explanations they are not sufficient.
Colonialism ended some 40 to 60 years ago; how do we explain the fact that
Arab self-governance was among the worst in the world: Anachronistic
monarchs; psychopaths and wanted criminals; megalomaniacs and
authoritarian rulers. How do we explain the fact that some 60 years after the
Universal Declaration of Human Rights and countless human rights
conventions, respect for human rights in the Arab world has been the
exception rather than the rule?
We could blame Washington. But we forget that like any great power
the US has interests, as do we, and we could learn to deal with one another on
the basis of respect and mutual interests. This was the powerful message US
President Barack Obama gave in his historic Cairo speech in June 2009.
We could blame Israel. But we have done that for years with nothing to show
for it. You would think that with the failure of the blame strategy we would
learn some lessons and change strategy. Our hanging on to a failed strategy
was the product of deliberate choices made by failed authoritarian regimes to
perpetrate their hold on power.
New York Times writer Thomas L. Friedman goes further and argues
that our rulers lied to us and taught us to hate Israel to justify their hold on
power. This is going too far because while our rulers may have lied to us, they
did not need to teach us to hate Israel. Israeli policies did that: the occupation,
the dispossession, the collective punishment and the regular wars against its
neighbours did that.
Nonetheless, one of the unique features of the January 25 Egyptian
revolution has been its focus on fundamental freedoms and liberties, on
democratic governance reforms and on social justice.
One of the remarkable responses to the democratic demands of the
Egyptian revolution was the intervention by the Israeli lobby (which argued
for years that Washington should throw its weight exclusively behind Israel
because Israel was the only democracy in the Middle East) to request the
support of the White House to save Mubarak and deny democracy to Egypt.
Adel Safty, Bangladesh Today, March 17, 2011,

Arabs Rise for Change







Libya and Bahrain need a special focus in the panoramic spread of protest
movements in the Arab lands. The dynamics at work in them are dissimilar but
portend future developments of great strategic import. In both cases, the
assertion of people power has brought outside engagement. In Libyas case,
the United Nations Resolution 1973 barely masks the international
communitys resolve to bring about a regime change. In Bahrain, the states of
the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) have invoked collective security and sent
limited contingents to help the government.
In Libya, the Arab spring has had a distinctive hue of its own. The
uprising in eastern Libya was, from the beginning, an armed revolt aimed at
bringing down Muammar Qaddafi. Very early on, it sought a no-fly zone to
neutralise his military advantage. The western media and then the western
governments quickly built up a grim narrative of Qaddafi brutalising his own
people. After initial hesitation, US President Obama and most European
leaders demanded that he steps down forthwith. The international
community was never prepared to countenance the defeat of the rebel
National Council, a parallel government in eastern Libya. French President
Sarkozy, who wants to project Paris as a bastion of western power, was the
first to recognise this Council and France carried out the first air strike against
a Libyan target. Britain and the United States followed with a crippling rain of
Tomahawk cruise missiles on the night of March 19.
The overzealous western interest in the Libyan crisis, doubtless, belongs
partially to the saga of oil, blood and sand. Libya has about 3.5 per cent of
global oil reserves; its proven reserves stand at 46.5 billion barrels. Many
western analysts concede that the present military campaign aims at
controlling, Iraq-style, the production, distribution and pricing of Libyan oil.
The western rapprochement with Qaddafi began in 2003, when he brought
back western oil companies and ended abruptly when the otherwise fawning
European politicians saw in the uprising a unique opportunity to overthrow
There is no gainsaying that Qaddafis defiant response to the initial
protest precipitated the civil war that opened the door to humanitarian
intervention. The Libyan crisis was shaped by Muammar Qaddafis unusual
personality, rivalries of the three major tribes, including his own, and his brand
of democracy which subordinated a modern nation state to the culture of a
mega tribe, of which he was the chief. He had achieved much, including a per
capita income of $12,000 for his people but, tethered to his unique philosophy,
the Libyan state remained in denial of the new forces emerging in a rapidly
urbanising society.


IPRI Factfile

The broad terms of the UN resolution authorizing the use of force to

protect the people are being implemented as a mandate to destroy the
Qaddafi regime. Western air power is already decimating his command and
control centres and other military installations; one can only hope that the
economic infrastructure survives. This may enable the rebels to recover the
towns recently lost to Qaddafi loyalists and make a bid for the capital. The
unintended consequence would be that Libya is left with tribal guerilla
formations engaged in a protracted nightmarish conflict across a vast land.
Bahrain is a small island endowed with enormous geopolitical
importance. Political developments in it can alter the regional balance of
forces. It is home to the US Fifth Fleet that projects power over a huge body
of water. Bahrains main fault line is supposed to be a tussle between a Shia
majority and the Sunni ruling alKhalifa family. This is an oversimplification, as
opposition parties such as al Wefaq traditionally seek redistribution of power
between the monarchy and parliament. In fact, King Hamad bin Isa alKhalifa
began his reign by bringing a healing touch to the sectarian tendencies that
marred politics in the 1990s. Crown Prince Sheik Salman bin Hamad alKhalifa
is a strong voice today for further reforms. However, in economic terms, Shia
villages need to be mainstreamed into Manamas prosperity. Political parties,
assorted intellectuals, lawyers and youth called for a demonstration on
February 14, ostensibly to celebrate Bahrains National Action Charter, and
the king did not object. They upped the ante by turning the landmark Pearl
Roundabout of Manama into a local Tahrir Square, an enduring encampment.
The majority still spoke of constitutional monarchy but some extremists from
the Shia party Wafa, Haq and the left-leaning Sunni Waad parties, tried to
inject republicanism into the movement.
On February 17, four persons died during a night-time operation by the
security forces to disperse the Pearl Roundabout camp. Persistent efforts to
revive it resulted in the demolition of this landmark by the security forces on
March 18. The United States has continued to play up the Iranian threat to the
region. Recently, it concluded agreements for military sales worth $123 billion
with Saudi Arabia, UAE, Kuwait and Oman. These contracts include 84 F-15
jets, 70 Apache gun ships and 72 Blackhawk helicopters. US Defence Secretary
Gates and Admiral Mullen visited Bahrain during the recent unrest and
sources revealed that there was much talk about Iran. The fact of the matter
is that only a miniscule section in Bahrains Shia population is interested in
Irans political influence. Arguably, Iran would welcome a shift of power to the
Shia majority if Bahrain becomes a constitutional monarchy; it will be
consistent with Iranian policy towards Iraq and Lebanon. There is, however,
little evidence of Irans interference in the current political strife. Against this
backdrop of internal and external factors, the GCC acted on March 14 with a
Saudi contingent turning the spectacular King Fahd Causeway into a strategic
highway. The next day, the king declared emergency for three months though

Arabs Rise for Change


he has since reiterated his resolve to continue reforms. The GCC commitment
to Bahrains stability may strengthen moderate elements in the opposition and
thus promote a peaceful solution. This could help Bahrain avoid the instability
that seems to be Libyas fate at present.
Tanvir Ahmad Khan, Express Tribune (Islamabad), March 22, 2011,




Repeated calls for reform have been neglected by governments in the region
for a long time. Strategists, who have ignored these demands, are also to
Strategic planners failed to alert people about the economic crisis that
hit the world in the last few years. The same strategic planners did not warn
Arab regimes about their people's demands and what the masses are capable
of doing if these demands are not met, especially given the modern means of
communication at their disposal.
Presently, the crisis has become very serious and the demands have
increased. Nationals, residents, visitors, casual observers, politicians,
academics, students, labourers, men, and women are all demanding reforms
and change.
But some demands for reform have transformed into calls for regime
change, wherein members of all ethnic and religious communities have stood
together asking for change in the ruling regimes. In most cases, these regimes
have responded with unconvincing reforms.
Other responses from the regimes included steps that were akin to
distributing charity to the people. The ruling elite seems to believe that people
will accept the denial of their rights and the plunder of the country's resources,
if such charity is doled out.
These regimes disregard the events in Libya and Yemen, where despite
their poverty, protesters have refused financial incentives, demanding instead
their dignity regardless of the government's overwhelming strength.
I believe that strategic planners - in different areas - were absent or were
forced to be absent from advisory circles. All sincere advice and guidelines
were ignored. When it was too late, some leaders lamented, "We know only
Some others continue to threaten and crack down on their people
disregarding calls from their own advisers. In fact, some aides have been either
removed or executed.
Furthermore, those in charge of think-tanks and research institutes are
not fully without blame. Many kept silent while others worked closely with
governments that led their societies into the abyss.


IPRI Factfile

Some lagged behind and were basically unable to give the appropriate
advice at the right time while other centres and experts may have actually given
advice that harmed their societies either intentionally or unintentionally.
Malaysian Prime Minister Najeeb Razak, when asked at an economic
convention to comment on the importance of foreign experts, said that these
experts need no less than three years to understand the society and
environment to be able to offer feasible advice.
He also added that if experts were disloyal to society, it would be very
damaging. He concluded by saying that the importance of the national expert
is that he will place the good of his nation above all else.

Unique Threats
Currently, Arab societies are facing unique security threats. Moreover, those
who believe that protecting societies from threats can just be done by
imposing security measures are wrong.
The security apparatus in both Tunisia and Egypt were among the best
in terms of organisation and loyalty towards the regimes. They also enjoyed
tremendous benefits and rewards, superseding remunerations received by
ministers and senior officials.
However, they were overwhelmed in a matter of days after the youth
revolted. Reports also revealed the extent of violence, and cruelty these
security systems employed.
People today rise and revolt in ways not seen in the past. Moreover, they
are armed with knowledge and strong values they believe in, which become the
weapons to overcome and defeat the fabrications of ruling regimes, which
descend on the liberation squares armed with guns, and hypocritical and
deceitful satellite channels.
The youth won because they believed in their right to run their
countries, and are completely confident about their abilities.
That is why they were supported by whoever heard or saw them inside
the country and abroad. They were also backed by the army which is loyal to
the nation and its history.
The situation in Arab Gulf countries is different. Threats here are of an
internal and external nature. The dangers faced by these societies warrant a
singular remedy.
However, it is not too late to salvage the situation if everyone becomes
aware of the grave threat and the fact that appropriate measures have to be
taken to protect national identity, re-build the trust between the rulers and the
ruled, and between the different communities.
Khalifa Rashid Al Sha'ali, Bangladesh Today, March 26, 2011,

Arabs Rise for Change


Regimes considered invincible have fallen or been shaken by the popular
uprising that has rocked the Arab world from the Gulf to the Atlantic since
the beginning of the year. While Muammar Qadhafi tries desperately to cling
on to power, and people die and homes burn, the situation in Syria and Jordan
too indicates a higher level of protests. While at least one demonstrator has
died in Jordan, the number of casualties and conditions in Bashar al-Assads
fiefdom are difficult to assess because of the restrictions on local and foreign
media, although according to Amnesty International 55 people have been
killed. Violence previously confined to Deraa has spread to several cities,
including Hama, Latakia and Damascus, where the demonstrators started a fire
under the statue of the late Hafez al-Assad, the presidents father, and pro- and
anti-regime partisans have clashed.
The issue in Syria and Jordan is, again, freedom and the peoples rage
against the continuation of decades-old authoritarian regimes which lack
legitimacy. According to the foreign media, the Syrian president is a popular
figure. He has promised to concede some ground, including a possible end to
the emergency imposed in 1963. However, to quote a clich, this is too little,
too late. Thanks to the electronic media, the wave of freedom ignited in the
Maghreb has spread like wildfire throughout the Middle East, presenting the
rulers, whether monarchs or civilian despots, with a stark choice: either give
freedom to the people or go the way of Ben Ali and Hosni Mubarak. The
Arab masses have reason to be angry. The humiliations which they have
suffered Palestine and Iraq come to mind immediately stem directly
from their rulers failure to give franchise to their people, industrialise their
countries, acquire science and technology, create modern, egalitarian societies
through economic equality, establish a wider social base that could give a stake
to their people in the running of their states and take the Middle East into the
21st century. Repression is counterproductive. It may give a breather to
dictatorial regimes, but in the end it is the peoples will that triumphs.
Editorial, Dawn (Islamabad), March 28, 2011,





The winds of change sweeping the Arab world have got as much to do with
school textbooks as with Facebook and Twitter, two Germany-based analysts
say. Tunisian philosophy teacher Sarhan Dhouib and German sociologist
Susanne Kroehnert-Othman have been studying what appears in Arabic


IPRI Factfile

textbooks. The books give children a positive attitude to human rights which
the political reality in their nations does not match.
The academics spoke as the popular uprisings, which have already swept
away authoritarian rulers in Egypt and Tunisia, were continuing.
"Many nations in the Middle East and North Africa see themselves as
modern and international and do include topics related to human rights in
their school textbooks," Kroehnert-Othman said in her office in
She works for the Georg Eckert Institute, a think tank that studies
school textbooks round the world.
She and Dhouib combed through Arabic-language textbooks to assess
how they have changed in recent decades and taken up such human- rights
issues as political liberty or the rights of the individual.
"One reads a great many ideals in the books, though the reality on the
ground is quite different," said Kroehnert-Othman.
Schools in Tunisia did encourage pupils to think about democracy. The
dictatorship that was toppled in the protests may have under- estimated the
far-reaching effects of education on ordinary Tunisians.
Dhouib, who was formerly a schoolteacher in Tunisia, said, "The
curriculum there covers both Arab philosophers and western ones like JeanJacques Rousseau, Immanuel Kant and Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel."
Children in Tunisia had already been conscious that neither their parents
nor their imams were very well informed about rights, said Dhouib, who is
now on the philosophy department staff at Germany's University of Kassel.
"The hopes that such classroom texts arouse were getting less and less
likely to come true," explained Kroehnert-Othman. "As long as people who
have an education have a chance to get a job, repressive states can function,
despite this disconnect. "That's because the states themselves are the principal
employer," she said.
But when a gap springs up between people's expectations and reality,
educated people lose patience with empty promises of freedoms and political
participation, she explained. "That's when they go out and join a mass
Anita Poehlig, Business Recorder (Islamabad), March 28, 2011,




As the crusade for democracy and basic human rights rages on, todays youth have a lot of
tools at their disposal which the earlier crusaders did not possess. The internet has become a
conduit for disseminating the idea of democracy, which was till now alien to the Arab

Arabs Rise for Change


From Morocco to Yemen, the Arab world is burning, and fuelling this
fire of change is the 21st century panacea, i.e. the social networks. These
agents of change helped the Arab civilisation achieve what they could not for
decades in just a few days or weeks. Be it Facebook, Twitter, Google or the
blogosphere, they have found themselves central to the action in an
unprecedented way. Let us take a look at how some of these new found tools
have spurred the actions on the ground.
Sidibouzid, a Twitter hashtag, gave rise to a movement that toppled not
only the Ben Ali regime but also inspired a dozen other mutinies. The picture
of Mohammed Bouazizi, the youth who set himself on fire in the Tunisian
town of Sidi Bouzid in protest against unemployment and official harassment
spread like wildfire on YouTube and other social media. This was for the first
time that the internet spawned a feeling of enough is enough among the
Soon after Tunisia happened, Egypt was getting ready to herald in a new
dawn of democracy, the first salvo being the We are all Khaled Said
Facebook page. Khaled Said was the young Egyptian man who was beaten to
death by the police in June 2010. The online activists began protest groups
with Khaled as their martyr. Some anonymous activist also came up with the
Arabic version of the Facebook page, who was later revealed as Google
executive Wael Ghonim. January 25 made its presence felt on Twitter, the day
Wael called for young Egyptians to take to the streets. Twitter was abuzz with
videos, pictures, data and links tagged with Jan 25, which became an effective
way to group together online information about the protest. The influence of
social networking was such that an Egyptian man named his newly born child
Facebook. By now one thing was very clear: the social networking websites
had become a force to reckon with.
The events in Tunisia and Egypt inspired a whole generation and
Yemen was no different. The Yemeni Anger Revolution group has almost
20,000 members on Facebook; those who were not bitten by the social
network bug were encouraged to pass on the word via traditional methods like
SMS and cards. After the Yemeni government cracked down on the internet,
many Yemenis settled outside Yemen shared their contact numbers with their
friends and relatives in Yemen in the wake of the internet shutdown to help
them share news about Yemen. They tweeted and re-tweeted news and links
with the international media.
The hashtag February 17 has categorised the Libyan movement and
given a fresh identity to the Libyan protest amid unrest across the Arab world.
Feb 17 is the date when the Libyan protest against Colonel Gaddafi began.
Information what little is accessible from the country has been pouring
in on Twitter and YouTube, where activists are uploading news the minute
they are able to get online. A dedicated Facebook page for the Libyan
Revolution has more than 82,000 members and another key Facebook page by


IPRI Factfile

the name of RNN Libya has 22,000 members. Libya has caught the fever of
internet-driven dissent passed on from their friends in Tunisia and Egypt, as
young Libyans are being exposed to the power of YouTube, Facebook,
Twitter to voice their opposition to the Gaddafi regime.
Just like the Feb17 Libyan protest, the Bahraini activists have Feb 14 as
their identity on Twitter. Internet providers were shut down and Facebook
accounts were deleted across Algeria as thousands of pro-democracy
demonstrators were arrested in violent street demonstrations. President
Abdelaziz Bouteflikas government first cracked down on the internet to nip
the protest in the bud.
In Morocco, the Facebook group Movement of freedom and
democracy has attracted more than 90,000 members. The Iraqis had their
own Twitter tag as iq4c but many of them tagged news of protest in Iraq with
Feb 25 so as to reach a larger audience of the internet by linking their cause
with other popular revolts.
In Syria, the case is a bit different; people are still learning about the
Arab revolution through Facebook, media, Twitter, newspapers and blogs.
The Facebook page Syrian Revolution 2011 has received more than 25,000
followers. People in Syria have slowly started to come out in the open against
the Syrian authorities.
As the crusade for democracy and basic human rights rages on, todays
youth have a lot of tools at their disposal which the earlier crusaders did not
possess. The internet has become a conduit for disseminating the idea of
democracy, which was till now alien to the Arab civilisation. For a change the
internet is applauded for its power to influence and change history for the
Lokesh Vishwakarma, Daily Times (Lahore), April 1, 2011,\04\01\story_1-4-2011_pg3_6


Without much fanfare, the past few months have seen no anti-American
demonstrations and no burning of American flags across the Arab world.
Arabs seem increasingly willing to accept - and even applaud - the Obama
administration's policy toward the region.
Of course, Arabs are still unhappy with the United States' continued
bias towards Israel. Its inability to end the 44-year military occupation of
Palestinian lands has not gone unnoticed. But many Arabs nowadays prefer to
give the US a break. With the exception of the Obama administration's lack of
resolve in denouncing the treatment of protesters by the US-allied regimes in
Bahrain and Yemen, America's position on the Arab revolts has been

Arabs Rise for Change


Arabs, especially young Arabs, who comprise the majority of the

region's population, look up to America for its global power when it upholds
democratic morals and values. There is high respect for the concept of rule of,
by, and for the people, as well as for the US Constitution's guarantee of
freedom of expression. It is precisely the failure to apply these values in areas
such as Palestine or Iraq that has made - and can still make - countless Arabs
vehemently anti-American. President Barack Obama's election two years ago
positively shocked Arabs and empowered Arab democrats, who saw it as
proof of America's true democratic nature. Obama's Cairo speech, delivered
on one of his first foreign trips, promised a new US-Arab beginning, and
certainly invigorated Arab democrats.
But the first test of Obama's foreign leadership disappointed many
Arabs. A US veto of a Security Council resolution - supported by the Council's
14 other members - to oppose Israeli settlements seemed to signal that Obama
had crumbled under pressure from America's pro-Israel lobby. The US had
not revised its policy, even with an African immigrant's son living in the White
A more positive view of Obama emerged when the Arab revolts began
in Tunisia and Egypt - countries with pro-US regimes. While the US initially
demonstrated prudence in word and deed, it quickly understood that the
revolts truly reflected the will of the people and acted to align itself with the
democratic cause.
The same people that Obama had called on in his Cairo speech to seek
democracy had now formed the most important nonviolent movement the
world had seen in decades. Arab youth had finally moved, and Obama and his
team made the right statements to encourage them, while also making it clear
to the Egyptian and Tunisian regimes that they could no longer hide behind
the claim that they were fighting America's war in North Africa.
Pulling away from dictators without trying to take credit for or hijack the
revolt was exactly what was required. Arab youth had to fight and win
democracy for themselves. All that what was wanted from America, most of
the young people thought, was withdrawal of its support for allies like Hosni
In Libya, however, the need was different. The same energy on display
in Cairo and Tunis was evident among Libyan youth, but this time, America
was able to do little diplomatically because it had no relationship with Col.
Muammar Al Gaddafi. So, no surprise, the energy of Libyan youth ran headon into Gaddafi's inclination toward brutality and, more importantly, into his
paid mercenaries. America had a moral responsibility to protect the young
people whom Obama had encouraged. Another type of help was needed, but
deciding what form it should take was complicated.
Arab countries, especially Egypt, had hundreds of thousands of their
nationals working in Libya. Their governments saw themselves as Gaddafi's


IPRI Factfile

hostages. But what the Arab countries couldn't do with military support, they
were able to do by providing political cover for the military intervention led by
the US, Britain, and France.
The Gulf countries, which have no citizens working in Libya, were the
first to denounce Gaddafi. Then the Arab League met to follow the Gulf
states' lead. With angry young Arabs from different countries demonstrating
outside its Cairo offices and demanding support for their Libyan brethren, the
Arab League took an uncharacteristic position: it agreed to denounce a fellow
Arab leader. Clearly, the Arab world was changing, and the US was suddenly
no longer an enemy, but a friend. After gaining Security Council support, the
US, Europe, and some Arab countries began doing exactly what should be
expected of the international community when a government is preparing to
butcher its own citizens: prevent the slaughter. Of course, America's problems
with Arabs and its challenges in the Middle East are far from over. Obama
must still fulfill his promises to celebrate with Palestinians their full
membership of the UN this fall and to draw down its forces in Afghanistan.
But, for the moment, Arabs are not demonstrating against America. Instead,
with America's help, they are enjoying the first blush of freedom.
Daoud Kuttab, Bangladesh Today, April 13, 2011,






In the former a delegation representing the African Union (AU) has proposed
a five-point road map that aims to achieve an immediate cease-fire, withdrawal
of forces from cities and the beginning of negotiations between the
government and the opposition. After visiting Tripoli this week, the delegation
announced that Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi has agreed in principle to
stop all hostilities and allow foreign forces to help keep the peace.
But the National Transitional Council in Benghazi rejected the offer and
said that Qaddafi and his sons must relinquish power first. Where does this
leave the AUs initiative is unknown, but in recent days focus has been shifting
toward finding a political solution to the three-month old crisis which has left
at least 9,000 Libyans dead so far.
NATO, which is now overseeing the implementation of UN resolutions
on Libya, said that its jet fighters will continue to strike pro-Qaddafi forces in
order to protect civilians, but senior officials admitted that they do not believe
a military solution could end the crisis there. In light of the poor rebel
performance in the past few days against government troops, it is unlikely that
aerial bombardment alone will help them to advance toward Tripoli and
remove Qaddafi by force.

Arabs Rise for Change


But the AUs initiative could open the way for more diplomatic efforts
in the near future. Turkey is believed to be working on a peace plan of its own,
while the Arab League will meet again to review developments. The military
stalemate will certainly play in favour of Qaddafi, whose forces continue to
bombard key cities like Misrata in the west while controlling key oil facilities in
Ras Lanouf and Breiga in the east.
Badly hurt by NATO bombing, loyalists to Qaddafi continue to have
access to heavy weapons and are able to regroup and extend their supply lines.
On the other hand, it took four days of vicious fighting in and around the
town of Ajdabya between government forces and the rebels before coalition
bombing drove the loyalists back.
Meanwhile, the deadlock has also taken its toll on NATO members
where questions are being raised about finding an exit strategy and financing
the mission on the long run. France and Britain remain steadfast, until now,
but the longer they are involved in the military operations, the bigger the
political risks they are likely to face at home. And if a military solution is now
excluded, what would be the alliances next move?
The United States, which has recently withdrawn its jet fighters and
most of its battle ships from Libya, is taking a step back. It continues to call
for Qaddafis exit, but Washington is divided over the issue of arming the
rebels and formally recognizing them.
International markets too want a cease-fire even if it means that Qaddafi
and his sons might stay in power for a bit longer. Oil prices, which have been
rising steadily for weeks, eased a bit as the AU delegation proposed a peace
It is now clear that NATO, and the international community, will not
allow Qaddafis forces to overrun Benghazi and destroy the rebels. But it is
also clear that there will be no escalation in foreign military involvement to
allow the rebels to advance beyond where they are now. The siege of Tripoli
and the overthrow of Libyas strongman by his own people is now a farfetched scenario.
At one point pressure will be put on the rebel leadership to accept some
sort of a political accommodation that will allow for peace talks. This is the
price that the rebels will have to pay so long as they rely on international aid
and support. On the other hand, efforts will continue to convince Col.
Qaddafi to accept a compromise of some sort that will finally remove him
from the scene.
Either way a dramatic end to the Libyan crisis is now out of question.
The country may remain divided for months and maybe more. Qaddafi has
proved to be a tough player indeed and has been able to withstand military and
political pressures. He has managed to absorb the initial international and
regional reaction to his bloody suppression of what started as a peaceful
uprising against his rule. He will fight until the end, whatever that may be. But


IPRI Factfile

for the time being we can expect to see a deadlock on the ground as
diplomatic activities intensify.
Likewise, Yemen is also subject of diplomatic efforts seeking to find a
way out of the current impasse. President Ali Abdullah Saleh has not rejected
the latest GCC proposition that he hand over power to his deputy and allow
for a national unity government headed by the opposition to be formed, but
he shifted the responsibility of debunking this latest initiative to his opponents.
The gap between the two sides has been widening, especially since government
forces opened fire against protesters in Sanaa, Taez, Hodaida and other
Yemeni cities. Here the main interlocutor is the GCC which has an immediate
interest in seeing a peaceful transition of power takes place in Yemen.
Unlike in Libya, President Saleh has accepted, in principle, to step down
and hand over power to a suitable successor. But the opposition has been
adamant in its demand that he leave immediately. Their rejection of the GCCs
latest plan is unfortunate because it could have presented an appropriate
framework for a political way out of the current crisis, especially that the
president has lost the backing of his key supporters in the West as well as in
the region.
The current impasse in Yemen is dangerous because it threatens to drag
the country into chaos and violence. A political deal is needed and the
opposition is urged to reconsider its position now.
Osama Sharif, Daily Mail (Islamabad), April 14, 2011,


The popular uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt seem already to be a good while
ago. Later, other Arab countries have also experienced demonstrations and
uprisings. Some old regimes withstand the demands from the masses, or
should we say the vocal youth groups.
Libya seems to be a special case and different from the others. The
Republic of Cote dIvoire is also different. Colonel Gaddafi in Libya had a
point when he told a BBC reporter that the Westerners do not understand
their regime. In Libya, it is more about the peoples democratic participation
and jobs for young people. It is not about the sharing of resources, because
Libya has been good at that, having had oil money to spend to benefit
everyone in a country with a small population. But people also want their voice
to be heard, especially if they have very different ideas than the regime. In
Libya, which has been socialist oriented, many people with capitalist
aspirations oppose the regime, and in our time that clashes with the world
ideology, which is capitalist. Whether I believe that capitalism is good or bad
(and I think it has many ugly faces), is another thing. It is the voices of the

Arabs Rise for Change


broad masses in each country that must be listened to, not some old leaders or
outside social scientists.
In Tunisia and Egypt, the youth managed to get two presidents out of
their palaces, through peaceful demonstrations, much overdue, of course, but
out they went and into retirement. Well, they were probably already in semiretirement, as they were indeed not young anymore. Somehow it must have
gotten stuck in their heads that they should die on the throne. Yes, because
they had made it into a royal throne, not an elected post in a world where we
believe in democratic institutions. Presidents, who still after 30 years have not
gotten around to implementing their ideas, must be quite inefficient in any
case. And they must have become basically ceremonial leaders. And the two
old men thought their sons should succeed them and continue the reign. Why,
one wonders, and what would the justification for that be? Sadly, they had
surpassed their time and age for logic reasoning. And they lived in an
environment which did not allow much change, only continuation of old ways.
In this article, I will discuss aspects related to popular uprising and
revolution, as opposed to parliamentary change and evolution. I am also
concerned about real life after the honeymoon.
What we saw in Tunisia and Egypt were popular uprisings, but neither
was deep and broad enough to be called revolutions. The lack of broad,
organisational structures for the opposition worries me. Now it seems so quiet
and little direct, practical change has yet come to the two states. The former
presidents, the figureheads are gone, but most of the old politicians and,
certainly, the civil service, are still there. The popular uprising showed that
ordinary people could challenge the regime from the streets and squares, from
downtown markets and meeting places. The modern mobile phones and
internet connections helped in the process. The international (Western) TV
channels showed it all. They were not neutral, as they are supposed to be, but
got carried away, or for other reasons sided with the opposition. Under other
circumstance, the media might have called them hooligans, rebels, insurgents,
maybe some even terrorists.
How much change the uprisings have brought, we do not know. The
brave youth have only shown the direction, they have only taken the first,
important steps. It promises to be a long journey if change is to grow roots,
especially since the youth were not well organised in parties or organisations,
which is usually difficult to do under oppressive regimes. An uprising and a
revolution must be followed by many steady steps; committee work,
discussions, plans made and plans thrown out, and so on - and elections - if
real and deep-routed change is to take place.
Sometimes, we call this the grey everyday, the time after the excitement
when the unbelievable change took place. I would not call in the grey
everyday, because it is probably as exciting as the beginning. It is the time
when the myriad of changes can be made practical, not only at central level but


IPRI Factfile

indeed at the local levels, and that is where everyday people live, work, go to
school and dream. It is step-by-step change, without which the revolution we
saw on TV will not mean much at all. The continuation requires participation
from everyone. Otherwise, it can become one dictatorship replaced by another
dictatorship, even if the new one has good intentions to be on the side of the
poor and oppressed people.
It is probably often unrealistic, but I would still wish that the old,
outgoing regime would help the incoming leaders, at all levels, to take over,
even show them what changes to make and how to do it, and also show things
that need not be changed, at least not immediately. This type of change may
not be too different from that of a new leadership team taking over in a large
private company, and at administrative, civil service level, I believe there are
many similarities. Yet, politics is also different and new political leaders want
to change the direction of a country. Then much of the old habits must go,
and many things changed one hundred and eighty degrees. Say, if the old
regime wanted secondary education to be provided only to fee-paying pupils, a
new regime may want it to be free, maybe even give incentives to attract
underrepresented groups, poor pupils, girls, pupils from remote areas, and so
on. Then new rules must be put in place, and old bureaucrats instructed to
develop the practical modalities, yes, even if they disagree.
After popular uprisings of groups of youth, as in the two cases I have
mentioned, many people may support change even those we thought were
sedate pillars of society. Although at a different level, that may also be the case
when one political party, which has ruled for decades, is voted out. Many
people may be happy with the change, even people who supported the old
regime earlier. In Europe, the social democratic or Labour parties ruled after
World War II, and they built the countries and their welfare states. That was
the case in my home country Norway, for example. But then in the mid 1960s,
when the other, often more conservative parties came into power, that
energised the political participation, and peoples voice became heard. Often, I
dont think the new ideas were better. Yet, they were our own ideas, and they
were ideas from the ordinary people talking against power, against righteous
rulers and leaders. That is important to bear in mind.
We know it, too, from the family level, the lowest institution in society.
If the father or the mother in the house runs the home without the childrens
participation, even if the parents are doing every right, a day will come when
they will experience revolt and opposition. We all want to participate. We even
want to make our own mistakes and try new ways, although we may often
come to realise that many old ways were good enough, sometimes even better
than the latest fashions.
And then: Are popular uprisings better than parliamentarian methods?
Is revolution better than evolution? No. Hence, the uprisings we see now in
the Arab world are wrong. Yes, we should blame the rulers there, but the

Arabs Rise for Change


methods are both scary and wrong, in principle. I hope leaders in the other
countries who stay in power too long, and leaders in very unjust regimes,
realise that they should make room for others, and make necessary changes
before it is too late. Then, sustainable change will normally require evolution,
notably change and development over time. Yet, the uprisings we have seen,
and are seeing, have taught us that peoples patience has a limit, and that we
should find peaceful ways for sustainable change.
Atle Hetland, Nation (Islamabad), April 14, 2011,





Pakistans national security is intricately linked to the stability in the Middle

East. Immediate impact is visible in the form of repatriation of expatriates. As
long as the struggle of the people of Middle East remained an internal matter
of respective country, Pakistani public viewed it as a part of political process.
However, foreign intervention in Libya has drawn a sharp negative reaction
from Pakistani public.
Recent uprising in the Middle East was long overdue. An artificial
political order imposed on the Middle East region after World War I, has ever
since been simmering and looking for an opportunity for its logical return to
roots. Unnatural balkanization never went down well amongst the masses of
Middle East. Formation of erstwhile United Arab Republic by three Arab
countries and an aborted plan regarding merger of Libya and Egypt are
examples of such attempts to return towards unified and strong Arab states in
the Middle East.
Creation of Israel at the end of World War II by supplanting a legitimate
state of Palestine resulted in a human tragedy that added to the volatility of the
region. Three non conclusive Arab-Israel wars have further compounded the
agony of the masses. The forces of change have asserted themselves over and
over again. Initial wave of change occurred in the nineteen fifties and sixties
when military revolts overthrew some of the monarchies. However, the
advantage of change never tickled down to common man. New rulers soon
became as authoritarian as their predecessors were. Collusion between the
agents of external hegemony and perpetrators of internal tyranny sabotaged
the purpose of these revolutions. Ensuing frustration amongst the masses
became the driving force for subsequent waves of unrest.
Abdication of Arab cause by Egypt via Camp David accord was a major
setback to the struggle of Palestinians. While ignoring the popular sentiment,
most of the Arab rulers tacitly followed the line of Egypt in the context of
Israel. Though rulers of the Middle East capitulated, the people never


IPRI Factfile

reconciled. Assassination of President Anwar Sadat was a violent expression of

public sentiment. So far pro status quo elements have prevailed. So called
revolutions of Tunisia and Egypt have been hijacked by pro-Western forces.
Uprisings in Bahrain and Yemen are likely to go the same way; though Yemen
may end up in a partition. Unrest in Syria may follow the Libyan route.
Middle East in particular and the Muslim world in general are living
under the shadow of profound anti-Islamic prejudices. Even there is no
tolerance for symbols associated with Islam and Muslims. Outcry against
benign things like Hijab and minarets indicate the undercurrents of
intolerance for Islam as a way of life. On the political side, Turkeys inability to
get the membership of European Union is a case in point. Obstacles created in
the way of transfer of power to popularly elected governments of Algeria and
Palestine Authority has exposed the myth of love for democracy by the
western democracies. Inaction on deplorable violation of human rights of the
people of Gaza shows an attitude of selectivity in this domain as well.
Popular perception has it that the United Nation is very prompt to take
action when an uprising is in a Muslim country; an all out effort is made to
settle the dispute quickly and in favour of non-Muslims, as it happened in East
Timor, and lately in Sudan. Foot dragging is clearly visible when Muslims
could be the beneficiary of any such settlement; disputes of Palatine and
Kashmir are the examples.
There is a marked difference in the approaches taken by the western
countries towards uprisings in all other countries of Middle East as compared
to the hostile line of action followed in case of Libya. Where, hangover of
PAN AM 103 seems to be the main driving force. Focus in all other countries
was to either protect the regime or make a cosmetic transition by handpicking
the successor regime which could ensure continuity. In Libya focus is on
decimating the military capability, regime change and partition of the country.
In the neighbourhood of Arab countries, Iranian revolution has
survived over four decades. This model has radiated its effects in adjoining
areas. This revolution happened due to simultaneous readiness of the public
and the alternative leadership. Intricate relationship between these two vital
ingredients of revolution severs both as a source of national strength and a
system of checks and balances. Even detractors concede that expression of
disagreement after the previous election was a voice for an in-house political
change and not an expression of anti-revolution sentiment.
Iran has played a role of a facilitator of stability in post elections Iraq; it
is positively engaged with Afghan government and has enabled Lebanon in
achieving a relatively better political steadiness. Iranian revolution presents a
way forward sans submission to neo-colonial powers. Nevertheless, even after
four decades, existential threats to Iranian revolution are of grave magnitude
and resurgence of regressive forces cannot be ruled out. Irans economic and
social strangulation through sanctions, threats of invasion on the pretext of

Arabs Rise for Change


nuclear issues and subversion through discontented elements make a potent

complex of external intervention and internal intrigue.
A silent change has taken place in Turkey over the past one decade or
so. It has receded from its march towards secular ideals and European identity.
Democratic process has taken firm roots, economy has been turned around
and pride of a common Turk stands boosted.
Lebanon went through a long spell of painful instability, and is far from
sustainable calm. Deep seeded discord amongst the Shia and Sunni have
plunged this unfortunate country into a precarious situation. A Muslim
majority country is on its knees in front of manipulative Christian minority.
Another cause of its troubles is its close proximity to Israel. Keeping in view
the proxy wars, and sectarian biased alignment of its mainstream politicians,
Lebanon is poised to remain instable for an indefinite period of time. This
does not represent a tenable model for change.
Middle East is poised to undergo the change but in multiple stages. Pro
status quo forces are rather strong and have the capacity of bouncing back
several times. Neo-colonial powers are at the back of the elements striving for
continuity of existing policies of Middle East states, especially in the context of
two core interests of neo-colonial powers; these are continuous supply of
cheap oil and territorial integrity of Israel.
Air Commodore Khalid Iqbal, Daily Mail (Islamabad), April 18, 2011,






Bombs are falling in Libya. Demonstrators are dying in Syria. Egyptians are
defining the new political landscape after their revolution as Yemenis are
coming under state pressure. But all of these unfolding events have one
common thread that has received little attention. Aside from the conflict,
chaos and political restarts, this revolution has a creative side.
The Arabic revolutions have largely been a revolt by the young, who
have made clear they are no longer willing to live in a climate of corruption,
repression and hopelessness. And, like every youth revolution, this one has its
own sound. Dozens of revolutionary songs have been composed in the three
months since former Tunisian president Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali fled office in
January under popular pressure.
Since the weight of the protests have been carried by the young, the
protest songs are not the classic marches or ballads that were used when
Arabic countries rose up against colonisers. Instead, today's protest songs are
all hip-hop and Oriental pop.
Many of the songs aren't available in stores. To find them, one has to go
to YouTube or other websites. "Hello pharmacist, are you open? The people


IPRI Factfile

are sick, but they don't know where their pain is coming from," jokes Egyptian
singer Mahmoud el-Esseily, better known for sappy ballads.
But the images that accompany his song are anything but funny: alleys
full of garbage, torture victims and shock troops beating demonstrators. His
song, The Pharmacist, if one of the many revolutionary hits that have come
out of Egypt since its revolution.
The militant Syrian rap song Bayan Rakam Wahid (Communique No 1)
is all about social injustice. It includes lines like: "The Syrian people must not
be insulted and we will not accept this situation any longer ... everyone is
sleeping on soft down, but we don't have enough to live on." Libyan rappers
are even more hardcore. They curse Libyan leader Moamer Gaddafi, who
remains in power in Tripoli despite coalition airstrikes against his forces, with
no sign that he is willing to back down.
At the same time, their songs celebrate the bravery of the rebels,
sometimes with Islamic undertones. "The Libyan folk is learning the Koran by
heart," is one line from one of the many songs celebrating the February 17
revolution. The message from Yemeni singers, who back protesters calling for
the removal of President Ali Abdullah Saleh since the start of February, is
particularly concise: "Go away Ali, go away!" Meanwhile, singers from the
Gulf state of Bahrain have taken a more subtle approach, focusing on
patriotism while calling for unity between Sunnis and Shiites.
"I am a person who loves his people," goes the song, to the rhythm of
cheesy Oriental pop. It's clear from the accompanying video that the singer
sympathises with the opposition Shiite group, given its images of crying
mothers over coffins.
Anne-Beatrice Clasmann, Business Recorder (Islamabad), April 20, 2011,




Two important statements were recently made. One, the joint statement of
President Obama of the US, President Sarkozy of France and Prime Minister
Cameron of the UK rejecting calls for a cease-fire in Libya and reiterating that
their operations will continue as long as Muammar Qaddafi remains in power.
The other is the CIA Director Panettas reported statement that US operations
in Pakistan will continue despite Pakistans protests as they are determined by
US security concerns. The first statement is a flagrant violation of the UN
Charter and UN Security Council Resolution 1973. The other, if true, is a
flagrant violation of Pakistans sovereign independence and a challenge to the
credibility of the government of Pakistan. Raymond Davis has become the
face of the US in Pakistan.

Arabs Rise for Change


US law and US security concerns alone cannot lawfully be the basis of

US military actions in other countries. A western Triumvirate is not entitled to
distort UN and regional resolutions in order to militarily implement regime
change however reprehensible the regime may be - in the name of protection
of civilians. A No Fly Zone cannot be construed as a declaration of war. This
would make Obama, Sarkozy, and Cameron the face of a new imperial world
order in place of the UN Charter.
The Arab Spring essentially represents the potential triumph of the
Arab street over the Arab elite. Despite western attempts to curry favour
with the Arab street in countries where it has at last asserted itself against
western supported dictators, the US and its allies are not likely to welcome
their compliant Arab elites being permanently eclipsed by an independent and
empowered Arab street. This policy is of long standing. In fact it goes back to
during World War II and the plans that were then made for the post-war
The Council of Foreign Relations (CFR) conducted a War and Peace
Studies for the foreign policy elite of the US that dealt with the
requirements of the US in a world in which it proposes to hold unquestioned
power. The major task, accordingly, was to develop an integrated policy to
achieve military and economic supremacy for the US including plans to
secure the limitation of any exercise of sovereignty by foreign
nations.essential for the security and economic prosperity of the US. These
nations, essential for US security and prosperity, comprised a Grand Area
among which the Middle East, and especially oil producing countries like Saudi
Arabia, constituted, according to the State Department, a stupendous source
of strategic power, and one of the greatest material prizes in world history.
The CFR documents noted that the British Empire.will never
reappear and .the US may have to take its place. The US was transitioning
from being a major power to being a global power. This entailed the
imposition of a post war Pax Americana to replace the pre war Pax Brittanica
as strategically necessary for world control. In this regard control of
resources was a key component of US strategy which, according to a noted
US scholar, required equal access for American companies everywhere, but
no equal access for others. This in turn required government by US
dependent elites in countries where either primary resources such as oil and
gas reserves or access routes to them were located. Accordingly, the US is not
as fearful of Islamic extremism as it is of independent nationalism in Muslim
countries which could privilege the use of national resources for the security
and welfare of their own people over the security and prosperity of the
American people. Only rule by compliant and dependent elites and institutions
whether secular or not can be depended upon to prevent such


IPRI Factfile

The CFR war time documents have provided an enduring, if not entirely
successful, framework for US strategic policy over more than six decades. All
political developments or movements in the Grand Area that sought to assert
national and resource-use independence from US strategic priorities were seen
as challenges to its unquestioned power. This policy is likely to continue, Arab
Spring or not. What is interesting is that the outlines of US postwar strategy
were formulated at about the same time as the US was taking the lead in
drafting the basic documents of the UN system for the post war international
order. Were these exercises mutually contradictory? Or two sides of the same
coin? All realpolitik requires an acceptable legal cover to be effective. After the
Cold War a New World Order based on Pre-emptive and Preventive War
offered unlimited possibilities. One consequence for Pakistan has been to
make transitioning from a security to a development state much more difficult.
According to Professor Ziauddin Sardar, a noted Islamic scholar, the
Arab Spring happened through a leaderless and pluralist but electronically
connected community that broadened through global information
feedback. It is bound and impelled by a shared vision of democratic
responsibility and accountability. This is creating space for the streets in
other essential countries of the Grand Area. No matter what the media
hype about western support for the Arab Spring, in reality western power
practitioners recognize the potential threat it represents to the stability of
their Grand Area. In conjunction with the financial meltdown and economic
recession in the west and the rise of the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India
and China), the Arab Spring has confronted the US with the prospect of a
secular decline of its global hegemony in what Sardar calls a post normal
world. It is, accordingly, reacting like a wounded tiger.
The reported CIA statement on drone attacks and the Triumvirate joint
statement on Libya are manifestations of wounded tiger responses to a
broader paradigm shift of international power and influence. Similarly, the
current intellectual respectability accorded to Muslim baiting in the west and
the lead role of military aggression in western peace building strategies, etc.
are symptoms of the same syndrome. This wounded tiger syndrome (WTS) is
likely to get more acute as the global competition for scarce resources
intensifies, and as the post normal world increasingly threatens the
hegemony of international and dependent domestic elites through increasing
connectivity among the awakening streets of the Muslim world. Humanitarian
norms such as the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) and UN Security Council
resolutions are likely to be used as cover for hegemony maintenance before a
genuinely multi-polar world eventually displaces a declining uni-polar post
Cold War order.
Meanwhile, the Arab Spring in Egypt and elsewhere will struggle to
overcome inevitable impediments. According to Professor Sardar, the degree
of trust it has reposed in the Egyptian Army as an agent of change is one of

Arabs Rise for Change


its weaknesses. Moreover, pessimists believe that organized and sustained

popular support for the Arab Spring is as indispensable as it is unlikely. The
elite power structure will not concede more than it has to while it plans a
restoration. The battle is joined and history, far from being at an end, as
Fukuyama insisted, is being created. The failure of the Arab Spring in Egypt
would, of course, endanger its dissemination throughout the Arab and Muslim
In view of the foregoing, the reported CIA statement justifying drone
bombings of Pakistani territory over the protests of the Pakistan government
an unquestionable international crime - needs to be seen in a broader context.
The governance challenge in Pakistan presents the west with a dilemma. On
the one hand, it complicates their so-called war on terror. On the other, the
war on terror complicates governance challenges in Pakistan. What is the way
out of this vicious circle? The US must recognize that its continued active
military presence in Afghanistan is destabilizing that country and the whole
region without assuring it a dignified exit. Pakistan must address its
governance challenges as a matter of urgent priority to increase its policy
options and to be a real peace broker in Afghanistan. It needs to realize that a
US military presence on its territory, and in the neighbourhood, can never be a
substitute for good governance as a guarantor of its security, stability and
development. The current pessimism that this is unlikely must be overcome
through making difficult choices and implementing policies based on them.
Ashraf Jehangir Qazi, News International (Rawalpindi), April 21, 2011,


IPRI Factfile




After Tunisia and Egypt, Algeria was the third Arab country that attempted to
start a social and political revolution. However, the two marches of 12th and
19th February organised by the National Coordination for Change and
Democracy (CNCD), demanding essentially a repeal of the state of emergency
and a change of system, reportedly mobilised only 250 and 500 people
respectively, according to Algrie Presse Service. Due to these low numbers,
some people might say that Algerians do not want to engage in revolution and
are therefore not ready for change. In fact the situation is different: Algerians
do want change, but they are afraid of a potential drift into unchecked anarchy
and violence. And in any case the Algerian revolution is slowly finding its way
via the structures of civil society. For some years now Algeria has been mired
in a deep economic, political and social crisis. As many as 9,700 riots, which
resulted in the destruction of property, clashes and youth violence, were
recorded in 2010 throughout the country. This relatively high figure reflects
the deep frustration of the Algerian people, who are grappling with the high
cost of living, massive unemployment, housing shortages and an across-theboard feeling of helplessness vis--vis the unknowns of their daily lives.
Expression of discontent: Judging from the fairly timid demonstrations
of recent months, one can think it is glaringly obvious that the Algerian people
have suppressed any hope for change. And the only alternative for its young
people has consisted of going on rampages to destroy property as an
expression of their discontent. Violence, however, is not a solution. And in the
meantime, a peaceful revolution is slowly happening. There is a need for
demonstrations that aim at regime change and an opening for a transition that
would steer clear of past mistakes and avoid turning back the painful pages of
the book of Algerian history. After the revolution of 1954 against French
colonialism which led to Algerian independence in 1962, a spate of popular
upheavals about social problems, such as unemployment and housing
shortages, took place in the 1980s, culminating on the October 1988 with
large-scale riots and demonstrations that shook the regime. Unfortunately the
move towards a more democratic system resulted in the so-called Black
Decade, a decade of terrorism. The Islamic Salvation Front (FIS) party, which
came out ahead in the 1991 general election, was stripped of its victory by a
military coup. A civil war ensued, engulfing the whole country in blood and
terror. Nowadays Algerian society is numbed by fear. People prefer to ignore
calls from the street that might drag them back into bloody warfare and
irreversible chaos. As a major force to be reckoned with, and representing 70
per cent of the population, Algerian youth now takes full advantage of social

Arabs Rise for Change


media, such as Facebook and Twitter, sends out calls for solidarity throughout
the country to unite various forces and wages a peaceful fight for democracy.
Youth associations, independent trade unions and womens groups are
committed to the principle of an organised movement for change. These
young people now realise that there is no future in disorganised calls for
change. The only way forward is for them to accept existing civil society
structures, bolster them, identify with them and continue on their march to
freedom. Many youth committees emerged as a result of the many strikes
organised in the country, including committees of young unemployed workers
and university student committees. They are all grouped under the umbrella of
the National Coordination for Change and Democracy (CNCD), the
movement that sparked off the demonstrations in Algiers. Currently the
CNCD is planning a number of events in various governorates of the country
to inform and mobilise the population. For organisational purposes, the
coordination has set up two operational committees, one dealing with
arranging events, and the other organising publicity for and visibility of the
events. The overthrow of the Tunisian and Egyptian dictatorships came about
as the result of a unique alliance: youth, the alternative media, solidarity and
sheer obstinacy. In Algeria, the media enjoys relative freedom. The Internet
was never censored. With this major asset civil society could channel the
restlessness of young Algerians and help them organise a platform that could
rally the rest of the Algerian people and develop a charter calling for three
main claims: Democracy, Accountability and Equal Opportunity.
N. Hafid, Frontier Post (Peshawar), March 26, 2011,


IPRI Factfile

As the Arab movement for change shows no sign of abating, all eyes seem to
be fixed on the small Gulf kingdom of Bahrain. The island has been rocked by
nearly continuous anti-government protests some deadly for the last
month or so. Bahraini security forces uprooted a protest camp at Pearl Square
Manamas answer to Cairos Tahrir Square on Wednesday in which
several protesters were reportedly killed as the king declared a three-month
state of emergency a day earlier. At least one Pakistani was also reportedly
killed in violence earlier in the week. But the arrival of a Gulf Cooperation
Council military contingent on Monday threatens to escalate tensions. As
nearly 2,000 Saudi and Emirati troops rumbled down the King Fahd Causeway
into Bahrain from Saudi Arabias Eastern Province, the move attracted
criticism from within Bahrain as well as from the region, with the Bahraini
opposition calling the foreign troops an occupation force. While the six
GCC states under a common security framework can call in the
Peninsula Shield when a member state is threatened by military aggression, this
is the first time the force has been deployed to deal with internal unrest.
What is happening in Bahrain is purely a domestic issue. The
opposition, mainly made up of a dis-enfranchised Shia majority, is dissatisfied
with the way in which the Sunni royal family is running the country and wants
representative government as well as to secure the social, political and
economic rights of the majority. Hence foreign military intervention, even
within the framework of the GCC, is a questionable solution to the problem.
It risks internationalising a local issue and should Iran get involved (it has
denounced the intervention), the conflict is likely to stir up sectarian passions
across the Muslim world. Interestingly, many Arab governments have
denounced Muammar Qadhafis brutal suppression of the Libyan opposition,
while the international community has mooted the idea of a no-fly zone over
the North African country. Yet the silence over Bahrain is deafening, where
Arab and most Muslim governments, as well as the US, seem to be rallying
behind the Bahraini regime. Pakistans religious parties are also conspicuous by
their silence.
Editorial, Dawn (Islamabad), March 17, 2011,

Arabs Rise for Change





Early this week as the Saudi military troops crossed the causeway and entered
Bahrain, the troops flashed signs of victory and the demonstrators responded
with boos and hoots, shouting "you are invaders." The Saudi troops and UAE
policemen have reached Manama to secure the royal family under the request
by the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) of which the former is also a
Unlike Egypt and Tunis where dictatorial regimes fell to largely peaceful
protests in full view of international community - though some of the powers
saw the developments as clashing with their regional interests - and accepted
the logic of the protestors. So in the end the decades-old deeply entrenched
stalwarts fell like nine pins. There was no noticeable negative fallout of the
change in Egypt and Tunis.
But Bahrain is a different cup of tea; here the stakes are high with
strategic dimensions. The fall of Bahraini royalty will put at grave risk the
future, and fate, of all Gulf monarchies. And also threaten the assured supply
of oil to most of the European countries and above all the United States.
The United States is especially concerned about the hold of the royal
family as its Fifth Fleet is based in Bahrain - though Washington's public
posturing on this crisis is at variance with its behind-the-scene manoeuvrings
to protect the ever-loyal royalty. Its principal strategic interest is in the stability
of the status quo in the Gulf region, which has acquired greater urgency in the
light of the fact that Saudi oil supply has been significantly augmented after
Libyan oil became unavailable.
But there is a thorn in the American side, and that is Iran's increased
interest reflected sharply in its opposition to "foreign intervention" in
Bahrain's internal affairs. Of course, Iran showed interest in regime changes in
Egypt and Tunis but it was limited by the political and public support as both
the countries have overwhelming large Sunni populations. The case of Bahrain
is different in that Shias outnumber Sunnis the base of the Sunni ruling royalty.
The issue becomes all the more critical now that the kind of martial law
in the county had to be enforced by the Bahraini security force which is largely
Shia. Then the sheikhdom has a history of experiencing periodic spells of the
Shia anger. If this mini country falls to the protesters in the Pearly Squire the
entire Saudi oil-rich eastern region where Shias have significant presence will
automatically become hotbed of intrigues opening the floodgates of instability.
Some ramblings of dissent in the Saudi Kingdom are being heard and in
neighbouring Sultanate of Oman.
That's where the United States' strategic interests come into play. And
for the rest of the world, assured stability of the region for their economic


IPRI Factfile

interests is not less crucial. Once instability grips this region, to bring back
normality is a long haul proposition.
The emerging Gulf scenario is also a matter of concern for the countries
of South Asia and Far East. Not only is its oil critical to their economies it is
also the place which significantly contributes to their foreign exchange
earnings in the shape of remittances. For Pakistan the foretaste of the
developments had come when five, one confirmed and four were reportedly
beaten to death by street goons.
Obviously our reaction to the evolving situation in the Gulf needs to be
analysed realistically keeping our national interest in mind. An emotional
approach will prove to be counterproductive. After all we cannot afford to
lose the principal source of employment of our expatriates and foreign
exchange through their remittances.
Editorial, Business Recorder (Islamabad), March 21, 2011,




With its roots in what is basically a domestic issue, the Bahrain crisis could
aggravate if regional states do not exercise restraint. The expulsion of some
Iranian diplomats by Kuwait, the support which the European Union has lent
to the Gulf Cooperation Council and Iran`s sharp criticism of the Bahrain
government`s handling of the pro-democracy stir have served to heighten
tensions. In a joint statement issued on Wednesday, the GCC and the EU
called for respecting the sovereignty of GCC member-states and, more
ominously, said the latter had the right to take all necessary measures to
protect their citizens. At the same time, Bahrain and Kuwait government
leaders have displayed considerable harshness in their diplomatic rhetoric and
accused Tehran of trying to dominate the Gulf region and threatening
Bahrain`s sovereignty. While the Kuwait foreign minister accused some
Iranian diplomats of spying, the Bahrain foreign minister said Tehran had
adopted a sustained campaign against the sheikhdom. Reacting to Tehran`s
criticism of the Saudi-led GCC force in Bahrain he said the force was there to
deter an external threat a clear reference to Tehran. However, like the
GCC and EU, he ignored Nato air strikes in Libya.
The pro-democracy protests in Bahrain are part of the larger freedom
wave that has rocked the Arab world and seen the fall of such strongmen as
Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and Hosni Mubarak, with Muammar Qadhafi fighting
for survival. As in Yemen, Syria and Jordan, so also in Bahrain the uprising is
an internal issue, and the Bahrain monarchy should try to address the cause of
the stir through internal reforms. The involvement of the EU and other nonregional actors in the Bahrain situation will only aggravate the crisis, while Iran

Arabs Rise for Change


should know that an escalation of the Iran-GCC tension will divert attention
away from the opposition`s just struggle for democratic reforms.
Editorial, Dawn (Islamabad), April 22, 2011,


IPRI Factfile

Was Friday the day the people of the Middle East began to reclaim their region
for themselves? Amid emotional scenes that will live long in the memory of
Egyptians and people across the world, the largest country in the Middle East
celebrated the end of President Hosni Mubaraks 30-year-old rule. Eighteen
days of the most extraordinary, peaceful, broad-based and non-ideological
protests led by the youth of Egypt made what was surely the unthinkable three
weeks ago become reality. And yet, in this region replete with authoritarian
dictators and repressive monarchs, there is still great uncertainty going
forward. In Egypt itself, much remains to be answered. A military which has
guided the country from behind the scenes since a 1952 coup overthrew the
monarchy is now running Egypt, promising to respect the peoples wishes. But
Mr Mubarak has left behind a country plagued with deep problems, from
gross economic disparities to state institutions that have been withered away
by corruption and nepotism to a stunted political system in which moderate
alternatives have been systematically sidelined. Ensuring that a stable,
responsive democracy will emerge from the detritus of the Mubarak era will be
a task almost as monumental as getting rid of the man Egyptians had dubbed
the pharaoh.
Beyond the borders of Egypt, however, hopes and fears will rise even
higher. Four weeks since the ouster of the Tunisian strongman, Zine alAbidine Ben Ali, a second fixture of the Middle East in recent decades has
been toppled. From Yemen to Bahrain and Iraq to Syria, rulers have
scrambled to respond to a rising tide of popular discontent and the future is
anything but certain. Some will attempt economic quick-fixes, such as in
Bahrain where several thousand dollars are to be doled out to every family and
in Yemen where salaries of government and military personnel have been
increased. Others will try to ease some of the more repressive laws and
measures in place, as in Algeria where the government has promised to lift the
two-decade-old state of emergency and in Syria where access to the Internet
and social-networking sites is to be loosened.
Ultimately, however, the true measure of reform will be to what extent
rulers across the Middle East respond to their peoples demand for a greater
say in how their affairs are regulated. The world over and through much of
history, rulers have argued that their people are not ready for democracy. But
the people of the Middle East rightly appear to think otherwise. Their hopes
may yet be dashed, but at least it is time to ask if it is fair to ask the people of

Arabs Rise for Change


the Middle East to continue to pay the heavy cost of stability in the region?
Editorial, Dawn (Islamabad), February 13, 2011,

In January this year time caught up with Hosni Mubarak. For decades, all
visible opposition in Egypt had been blocked. The country's political parties'
activities had been curtailed. Professional federations had been disbanded.
Labour unions were controlled by regime lackeys. Government departments
and universities had their political security controlled by the police. As a result
Mubarak's regime was incapable of addressing the challenges faced by the
community. Perhaps inevitably, renewed popular forces emerged that swept
him away.
However, every regime has a legitimacy. An assault against the regime
means an assault against the legitimacy on which it is based. This creates a
need for a new legitimacy, responsive to the demands of the new system and
its political and social relations. This is why the formulation of a new
constitution following the demise of Egypt's old regime was a necessity.
The revolutionary force that overthrew Mubarak was a popular
movement. It did not have the organisational and institutional leadership to
take power and replace the regime of the president, and so this fell to the
army. In other words, political power was transferred to the supreme military
council on the basis of revolutionary, not constitutional, legitimacy.
On the basis of this, the army declared its support for the Egyptian
people, its acquisition of a lawful mandate to rule during a transitionary period,
and its determination to protect the gains and foster the aspirations of the
people. They issued a statement confirming that their assumption of power
would be for a limited period of six months, and that the constitution was to
be suspended (not set aside) and then amended. Meanwhile, the sources of
legislative authority the people's assembly and consultative council were
At this point, it is essential that the constitutional political institutions
are rebuilt along democratic lines. This is the task of the committee charged
with amending the 1971 constitution, of which I am chairman.
On Saturday a referendum was held that put before the Egyptian people
the committee's various amendments to the 1971 constitution that would
return it to its former position until a new constitution reflecting the political
situation could be drawn up.
Had the majority of the Egyptian people voted no to the amendments,
the supreme military council would have been free to decide what type of
action to take, and what road to follow. But the majority of Egyptians have


IPRI Factfile

voted yes. The implication of this is that the supreme military council is now
obliged, by the popular will, to follow the map proposed by the amendments
for the transitional period: first, elections of both the lower and higher houses
of parliament must be held within two to three months; once convened, the
elected members of both houses must select a constitutional assembly of 100
members to draft a new constitution; presidential elections will follow, and the
elected president is obliged to present the draft constitution to another
referendum within a year.
The popular movement recently witnessed in Egypt has thus produced a
number of significant and ongoing results: the first of these is the overthrow
of Mubarak and his family. His downfall means that a regime has fallen and
the state must be changed. Furthermore, many of the regime's leading figures
have also been ousted. These include the group of businessmen associated
with it, the policy committee of the National party and the supporters of
Gamal Mubarak. It was they who controlled the entire political system for the
last 10 years, without facing any noticeable opposition.
The second result is the demise of the political influence of the police.
This influence had turned the police force away from providing public security
for more than 20 years. Egyptians are well aware that almost all the various
departments of state had been penetrated by the police and were subject to
The third result is the appearance of a new generation of young people,
sweeping like a tidal wave into the heart of the political life of the country. As
the political institutions are rebuilt on new democratic foundations, it is a
generation whose impact will be evident in the coming months and years.
Tarek El-Bishry, Guardian, March 21, 2011,




It is a matter of relief that an overwhelming majority of the Egyptian people

have endorsed the referendum on constitutional amendments aiming to rid the
country of the legacy of former dictator Hosni Mubarak and pave the way for
It is also heartening to know that the Army intends to hand over power
to the civilian elected government as soon as possible. One hopes that the
Egyptians would very soon be able to enjoy the fruits of democracy for which
they have fought so bravely against a tyrant who had become a symbol of
cruelty and poverty for them. It is also hoped that the role of Army, which had
at one time been the main pillar of support to Mubaraks regime, would shun
any political role under the new set-up. The 22 percent who voted No, as

Arabs Rise for Change


against 77 percent who voted Yes in the referendum are mainly the youth
who were in the vanguard of the revolution. They are of the view that since
the rules and regulations for democratic transition have been set by the Army
they would prevent organisation of new parties in a short time. On the other
hand, there is Muslim Brotherhood that has largely supported the changes in
the constitution. Most of the amendments should be welcomed; they tend to
make a happy beginning, with the presidential term restricted to four years and
he could be elected only twice. Likewise, his powers of referring civilian cases
to military courts have been withdrawn. Most important of all, a mechanism
for conducting free and fair elections has been devised.
The onus for establishing a democratic system of governance will be on
the elected government, whether it would respect the aspirations of the people
and quickly address problems like unemployment, corruption and social
injustice that brought the masses to the streets. All eyes will be on Egypts
government coming into power after the elections because its performance
will actually determine the success or failure of the revolution.
Editorial, Nation (Islamabad), March 22, 2011,


The political battle for Egypts future began in earnest last month when the
countrys ruling military council held a referendum to approve its amendments
to the constitution. The Muslim Brotherhood, backing the military, easily won
that first test of Egypts new democracy, with 77 percent of the public
supporting their recommended vote of yes. But the secular Tahrir Square
revolutionaries are fighting back, forming new political parties and continuing
their campaign for democratic change. And the Brotherhood, although clearly
a formidable force, is beginning to fracture, with several Islamist parties
planning to offer candidates in Egypts parliamentary elections in the fall.
Whats worrisome is that last months voting had clear religious
overtones in some of Cairos poorest neighbourhoods. The consolation is that
these religious tensions, always rumbling under the surface in Egyptian society,
are now being expressed by voters rather than by suicide bombers. Heres
what the March 19 referendum campaign looked like in the poor district
known as Old Cairo, south of downtown. My account is drawn from Yasmina
Abou Youssef, a community activist who took me through part of that area in
February. At that time, she believed the Muslim Brotherhood had little
influence in these slums. But it seems to have become more active once a
political prize was in sight.


IPRI Factfile

Abou Youssef and other activists held a rally two days before the
referendum to urge residents to vote no, arguing that more time was needed
to write a new constitution and organise parties. As she left, she received an
anonymous text message warning that if she didnt stay away, extremists would
throw acid on her face and burn down her community centre. She went back
despite the threat and photographed posters with the simple message: Yes.
Muslim Brotherhood. In the hours before the referendum, rumours spread in
Old Cairo and across Egypt that because Coptic Christians were campaigning
against the amendments, Muslims had an obligation to vote yes. (The
existing constitution, whose basic text the Brotherhood was defending, does
say that Egypt is a Muslim state ruled in accordance with sharia law, but this
provision has always been regarded as largely symbolic, and most of the no
activists didnt plan to change it.)
The Tahrir Square activists were depressed after the vote, with some
arguing that their revolution had been hijacked by an alliance of the
Brotherhood and the military. We were all down after the collapse of the
referendum, says Abou Youssef. It turned out as a battle over religion, not
the constitution. But in the weeks since the referendum, the activists seem to
have gotten a second wind and started forming new parties to compete with
the Brotherhood. Theres the Social Democratic Party, which includes prodemocracy organiser Amr Hamzawy; the Egyptian Liberal Party, formed by
Naguib Sawiris, the head of the telecommunications giant Orascom; and a
leftist group called the Popular Alliance. Many more parties are on the way.
Muslim voters, too, will have a broader array of choices in the fall, with
former Brotherhood leaders splitting into three and perhaps four camps, with
the Salafists forming two parties and a pro-jihad group forming at least one.
Thats the new Egypt all the ideologies that were suppressed by force under
President Hosni Mubarak are now out campaigning in the sun. Egypts
romance with democracy is exciting, if sometimes also discouraging.
But theres one big danger the ballot box wont address, and thats
Egypts sinking economy. Tourism has collapsed, industrial production has
fallen sharply and foreign investment has all but stopped. Nabil Fahmy,
Egypts former ambassador to Washington, worries that a liquidity crunch will
hit in mid-summer. If the democratic revolution can succeed in Egypt, it will
triumph across the Middle East, says Fahmy, but he warns: We have a huge
hole that needs to be plugged, and we cant do it alone.
David Ignatius, Pakistan Observer (Islamabad), April 8, 2011,

Arabs Rise for Change





The whole of the Arab world is watching with great interest to see how
politics will develop in Egypt over the next few months. There is a fiery debate
starting in which the emerging political parties from all sorts of backgrounds
are following two separate strands of dialogue. First, they are arguing about the
structure of government they want as Egypt resets its whole state apparatus.
But the parties also have to discuss a second strand of dialogue: what policies
the future government should follow. It is very encouraging that so far the
parties have been very open about their manifestos, and offered the public
some detailed ideas. This has taken the Egyptian political debate well beyond
the simplistic appeals to nationalism or sectarianism which unfortunately
dominate Iraqi or Lebanese politics.
Saudi initiative: The possible development of Egypt as a new
independent force in the Arab world is being watched by Saudi Arabia in
particular with great concern. The Saudis are close allies of the Americans, like
former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak, and they were deeply shocked at
the speed that Obamas administration dumped Mubarak with little effort to
save him. Over the past decade the Saudis have stepped into the vacuum
created by Egypts pro-American absence and built themselves a leading
position in the region, and they do not know how the new Egypt might
change this very important dynamic. The Arab Peace Initiative was a Saudi
initiative, as were the Taif Accords which helped end the Lebanese civil war, as
were several attempts to achieve reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah in
Palestine. And the Saudis are also very conscious of their role as the main
force to stop the growing influence of Iran in the Arab world, as they see
Iranian influence spreading in south Lebanon, Gaza, Iraq, and more recently
in Bahrain.
Whatever the Egypt will be, it will be determined by Egyptians voting
on mainly domestic issues. The winners in the September elections will be the
parties that appeal to the average Egyptian, offering the promise that his and
her concerns will be tackled fairly. So it matters a lot to the region what the
various emerging Egyptian political parties are offering their domestic
audience on issues like stopping police brutality, the repeal of the state of
emergency, transparent elections and action against corruption, as well as
economic issues like high unemployment, food price inflation, and setting
decent minimum wages. Would-be presidential candidate Mohammad Al
Baradei has taken a strong, independent and anti-American line on regional
issues, but has been a lot more vague about his domestic vision. On April 9, he
tweeted that continued trust between army and people vital to national
unity, arguing that the road to stability is quick responses to legitimate
demands, power sharing with civilians during transition, a clear road map, and


IPRI Factfile

national dialogue. Many secular groups have been terrified of the Muslim
Brotherhood. They fear both its ability to organise, and to use religion to
appeal to the rural poor, who make up over half of Egypts population. The
Brotherhood has said it wants a civil state with an Islamic identity. And
although that might sound fairly moderate, the level of distrust soared after a
speech by Mahmoud Ezzat, the Brotherhoods deputy supreme guide, in
Cairos massive northwest suburb, Imbaba. Wave of outrage Ezzat said that
the Brotherhood wants to apply Sharia in Egypt, and he was quoted saying
the enforcement of Sharia punishments will need time, and will only come
after Islam is planted in every heart and masters the life of people, and then
Islamic punishments can be applied. This speech caused a wave of outrage
across Egypt whose heterodox traditions do not include bending the legal
structures to fit one interpretation of Islam. The furious row forced Ezzat to
deny that he meant what Masry Al Youm had quoted. Khalid Abdul Hamid,
one of the leaders of the secular January 25 Revolution Youth Coalition, says
he is not worried about the Brotherhood. He treats the Brotherhood as part of
the movement for change, but adds that later the Egyptian people will be able
to judge the group not only according to how near or far they are from
religion, but how seriously they tackle economic and social problems that the
majority of the people face. But all eyes are on the young people who
inspired the Tahrir Square protests, and the key question is whether they can
carry the political momentum started by their protests into a more normal
political life. The informal alliance of protesters has moved quickly to organise
into the January 25 Revolution Youth Coalition, which includes six youth
groups. As well as making broad political statements, it is important for its
long term success that the Coalition has put forward very precise political
demands, like on April 4 when it demanded that the governors and the
presidents of the universities be dismissed; that local councils be dissolved;
that the assets of the former National Democratic Party like its headquarters
be put into public ownership; and that the interim authorities should withdraw
the nomination of Mustafa Al Fiki to be Secretary General of the Arab League.
It is an interesting straw in the wind that a few days later about half the
governors were on notice, the NDPs building was taken over by the
government, and Al Fiki will not go to the Arab League.
Francis Matthew, Frontier Post (Peshawar), April 22, 2011,

Arabs Rise for Change





Lebanon stands dangerously poised on what could be a prolonged and

perhaps dangerous political crisis. Analysts agree things may not lead to
another civil war of the kind that devastated the country and led to at least
150,000 deaths. Nevertheless, the resignation by 10 Hezbollah ministers and
one Christian sympathiser has spelled doom for the coalition led by Saad
Hariri. President Michel Suleiman is now looking for a caretaker prime
minister, but the Hezbollah leadership has made it clear it would not again
accept Hariri as head of the cabinet. The crisis comes in the wake of the leaks
that the UN-backed Special Tribunal on Lebanon is about to release its
findings and perhaps hold Hezbollah responsible for Rafiq Hariri`s murder in
2005. Syrian intelligence was largely blamed for the prime minister`s
assassination, and the subsequent anti-Syrian demonstrations led to the
withdrawal of the 40,000 troops Damascus had based in the Bekaa valley since
the civil war, but Syria continues to have a presence in its south- western
Lebanon is a country in which its friends and foes have vital stakes. The
latest crisis marks the failure of the joint Saudi-Syrian attempt to avert a
breakdown of the coalition government. America, Saudi Arabia and Egypt
backed Hariri, and Israel, which has invaded the country several times, keeps
tabs on pro-Palestinian groups, especially Hezbollah, with which it fought a
humilia- ting war in 2006. Tel Aviv would like to exploit the situation for its
interests, and that is what reinforces the need for all Leba- nese politicians to
unite. Hariri`s murder was a tragedy, but it would be a greater tragedy if it were
to lead to more bloodshed. Hezbollah must especially act with care and ensure
that its credentials as a political and militant force fighting for Palestine`s
liberation are not sullied.
Editorial, Dawn (Islamabad), January 15, 2010,


IPRI Factfile

Western governments should take note of the Arab alarm over a possible
military intervention in Libya, where the popular revolt against Muammar
Qadhafi`s 41-year-old rule has turned into a civil war. On Thursday, President
Barack Obama said all options were open with regard to Libya, where the
regime is using air power against its people. The Arab League, representing 22
member states, would like the western response restricted at best to imposing
a no-fly zone, as Iraq was subjected to for years. It has made clear that it
opposes foreign military intervention on Libyan soil. The consequences of a
western attack will not only be counter-productive, they could give a new and
dangerous colour to the protests. The anti-Qadhafi revolt could fizzle out and
transform itself into a national resistance movement which would see such
intervention as an attempt to capture Libya`s oil wealth.
As is evident from the wave of freedom unleashed by the Jasmine
Revolution, whatever has happened or is happening in Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen
and Bahrain is a popular uprising against decades of corrupt and authoritarian
rule. The sacrifices which the people have given in the pro-democracy
movement against the dictatorships of Ben Ali, Hosni Mubarak and Ali Saleh
and against the reigning Bahrain dynasty testify to the indigenous character of
the rebellion. The people`s struggle against well-entrenched dictators has
already triumphed in Tunisia and Egypt. There is no reason to believe this
would not be the case in other Arab countries in the grip of fierce anti-regime
revolts. Foreign military intervention will be a godsend for the regimes, for
they could appeal for unity against invaders to deflect the people`s ire. Besides,
as Arab analysts fear, US-led military interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan do
not inspire confidence in their ability. In Iraq, a minimum of 200,000 civilians
were killed and Iraqi infrastructure was destroyed. In Afghanistan, after a
decade of war, America and Nato are planning to get out without having
crushed the militancy. An invasion of Libya could turn Mr Qadhafi into a
hero, and the freedom struggle now raging there could disappear into thin air.
Editorial, Dawn (Islamabad), March 6, 2011,

Arabs Rise for Change



The current crisis in Libya requires quick resolution. Otherwise it may have a
serious impact at a global level. The least costly and quickest solution is to
allow Libyas Muammar Gaddafi to live in exile as has happened to many
other world dictators before.

As new reports emerge daily about deadly clashes between Libyan leader
Muammar Gaddafis forces and anti-government protesters, Gaddafi has
already pledged to fight a rebellion to martyrdom. As more Libyan citizens are
being attacked and terrorised by the regime, the revolution continues to
escalate amidst the killings and suffering. Foreign powers look on cautiously as
they evaluate the best solution for the Libyan crisis.

Impact of Sanctions against Libya

Sanctions are seen as a low-risk, easy alternative. Even targeted sanctions are
a blunt instrument liable to cause unintended consequences. Some of them are
potentially as grave and as unpredictable as those of military action; the world
has never taken military action with so little forethought (hence all the
reservations about a no-fly zone at present). The financial sanctions against
Gaddafi and his cohorts might achieve something, but only if they succeed. If
the sanctions fail, they will get into precisely the worrying scenario and the
hitch is the international community cannot very well withdraw the sanctions
without looking foolish.
The stakes are higher than policymakers realise. The balance of risks is
this: sanctions may tip the balance against Gaddafi, but if he manages to hang
on, he will almost certainly make things worse. History has also shown that
sanctions can work only if implemented correctly; and there are sanctions that
did not come close to bringing down a government such as the one imposed
on Iraq during Saddam Husseins rule.

Military Intervention
Military intervention will be costly financially and politically. Even if this is
welcomed by certain sections of the Libyan opposition, military intervention
will be seen by Muslims at large as another attack on a Muslim country by
western powers. Libya can potentially be another messy battleground for


IPRI Factfile

foreign forces. The Arab League has already warned against Western military
intervention in Libya, adding that an intervention could fuel extremism
further. Also, there is no guarantee of success, as demonstrated by military
intervention in Somalia. Gaddafi says that the revolution is a disguise for
foreign involvement. If Western powers do intervene, it will make it look like
Gaddafi is right, and that may be a disastrous turn of events for the Libyan
people who are trying to overthrow him.
The mess that has been made in Afghanistan and Iraq should not be
visited on any more countries in the Middle East. Furthermore, this will be an
additional burden a third battle front for the United States and its allies and
will potentially become another rallying cry for jihadists.
Nevertheless, a prolonged crisis in Libya poses serious problems to the
world. It will affect the global economy due to the decreased supply of oil
which will raise oil prices. Libya is a significant source of oil for many
European countries still plagued with debt crises. The Libyan crisis can also
turn it into another Somalia. Thus, a quick solution to the crisis is vital.
Exile Option for Gaddafi?
The international community should seriously consider persuading Gaddafi to
leave, and not rush into unwise and counter-productive military action. The
threat of civil war has been talked up by both Gaddafi and his son Saif alIslam. The latters threat to fight to the last man and last woman, and his
fathers rallying of loyal tribes to attack demonstrators, indicate how the
regime expects to fight if forced into a corner.
It appears that the quickest and least costly solution is to persuade and
facilitate Gaddafi to leave the country and live in exile as had happened to
many dictators before him such as Ferdinand Marcos, the former president of
the Philippines who fled to Hawaii; Ugandas Idi Amin, who lived his final
days in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia; and Irans Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi who
was earlier welcomed by Panama but later moved to Egypt.
The United Nations Security Council has approved a resolution that
seeks to impose a travel ban, asset freeze and arms embargo on Gaddafis
regime. A no-fly zone is currently under consideration. There are signs that the
sanctions will be further tightened. These initiatives, however, must be treated
with utmost care and pragmatism in view of the grave consequences as
observed from historical precedents.
To achieve this objective, the appropriate exile place needs to be
identified. This would mean allowing a country to receive Gaddafi and his
family. This will also require a re-consideration of prosecuting Gaddafi and his
family at the International Court of Justice; it is unlikely that Gaddafi will
accept the offer of exile without some assurances of safe passage and even
protection. Admittedly, there is a morality issue involved which will anger

Arabs Rise for Change


many Libyans by allowing all the allegations against Gaddafi to go without

redress. However, it may still be in the best interest of the Libyan people to
pay such a price in order to oust Gaddafi and have a democratic government
constituted by the people.
If Gaddafi is cornered without any option for safe exit, this may drive him to
fight to the death like Saddam and his family. The result will be further
bloodshed. Sun Tzu in the Art of War warned against conducting a siege on a
city without allowing the defenders an exit route because this will only harden
them to fight for survival.
Zulkifli Bin Mohamed Sultan &Muhammad Haniff Hassan,
RSIS Commentaries, March 9, 2011,

If there is one lesson for US foreign policy from the past 10 years, it is surely
that military intervention can seem simple but is in fact a complex affair with
the potential for unintended consequences. So I'm glad that the Obama
Administration is studying all options on Libya. It is more important to arrive
at a smart policy than to start shooting first and ask questions later.
Those who argue that we have no national-security interests in Libya are
correct in the narrow sense. But the Libyan case represents a much larger
issue. The Arab world is experiencing a genuine awakening. People in the
region have lost faith in the old order. Whether they can actually overthrow
the government, as they did in Egypt and Tunisia, or merely demand real
reform, as in Jordan and the Gulf states, they are searching for a new political
For the US, this presents a powerful opportunity. For decades, Arabs
have regarded Washington as the enemy because it has been the principal
supporter of the old order creating a bizarre series of alliances in which the
world's leading democracy has been yoked to the most reactionary forces on
the planet. It has also produced a real national-security problem: the rise of
Islamic terrorism. Al Qaeda's first argument against the US is that it supports
the tyrannies of the Arab world as they oppress their people.
Now the US has the opportunity to break the dysfunctional dynamic
that produces anti-American hatred and violence. The Obama Administration
has properly aligned itself with the hopes and aspirations of the Arab people,
and it has called for governments in the region to engage in serious reform.
But right now all these efforts have been sidelined. Libya is burning. Its people
rose, and the tyrant gunned them down. Unless something changes, Muammar
Gaddafi and his sons will be able to reassert control over the country amid a
mass slaughter of its civilians.


IPRI Factfile

This would be a terrible outcome. President Obama has made it

unambiguously clear that he wants Gaddafi to step down. The US is actively
seeking his ouster. To have him survive would be a humiliation for
Washington at a moment and in a region where its words still have great
impact. It would also send a disastrous signal to the other rulers of the region
in Syria, Algeria, Iran that Mubarak made a mistake and that the way to
stay in office is to engage in mass slaughter, scare the US away and wait out
the sanctions and isolation. America would lose its opportunity to align with
the rising forces of the Arab world.
So the US must follow through in its efforts to get Gaddafi out of
office, pushing all diplomatic levers and seeking maximum multilateral
support. It should ask the Libyan opposition for a public set of requests, so
that Washington is seen as responding to Libyans, not imposing its will. If the
Libyans request military assistance, Washington should move in that direction.
I don't believe that a no-fly zone is a magic bullet. It is a high-profile policy
that puts the US military directly into the conflict but would actually make little
difference. Gaddafi's main advantage is not in the air but on the ground. He
has tanks, armored vehicles and massive firepower. The basic military question
is hence how to shift the balance of power away from him and toward the
Over the past five decades, the US has had very mixed results when it
has intervened, by air or land, in other people's wars. But it has done pretty
well when it has helped one side of the struggle. Arming rebels in Afghanistan,
Central America and Africa has proved to be a relatively low-cost policy with
high rates of success. Giving arms, food, logistical help, intelligence and other
such tools to the Libyan opposition would boost its strength and give it
staying power.
Once Gaddafi realizes that he is up against an endless supply of arms
and ammunition, he will surely recalibrate his decisions. There have been
reports that he floated the idea of leaving office as long as he is guaranteed
safe passage. At a weak moment, he made a plea that he be treated like
Britain's Queen or the King of Thailand, a figurehead with no powers.
Some worry that if we arm the rebels, things might turn out the way
they did in Afghanistan, where the freedom fighters became Islamic jihadists
and turned their sights on us. But that's not really what happened. After the
Soviet defeat, the US abandoned Afghanistan, leaving it open to Islamic
jihadists backed by the Pakistani military. The better analogy is to Chechnya,
where as the civil war continued, the rebels became more radical and Islamic
fundamentalists jumped into the fight and soon became its leaders. The best
way to prevent al-Qaeda from turning Libya into an area of strength would be
to have the fighting end with Gaddafi's defeat. So let's help the Libyan

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opposition do it.
Fareed Zakaria, Time, March 10, 2011,,8599,2058094,00.html




The enemy of yesterday is the friend of today....[I]t was a real war, but those
brothers are free men now. Thus spoke Saif Al Islam Al Qaddafi in March
2010, referring to the leaders of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG), an
armed organisation that had attempted to assassinate his father, Muammar Al
Qaddafi, three times in the mid-1990's.
This may seem surprising. A few days ago, the very same man promised
Libyans a "sea of blood" if his father's regime was toppled. Indeed, Saif, an
elegant, soft-spoken graduate of the London School of Economics, has now
become a prime suspect in massive crimes against humanity.
Creation of a Hydra-headed security apparatus, mass-murder of opponents
(both real and imagined), widespread torture, and sustained censorship and
repression are some of the common tactics used by Qaddafi, former Egyptian
President Hosni Mubarak, former Tunisian President Zine Al Abidine Ben Ali,
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, and many others.
But Qaddafi's regime became an international pariah mainly for a series
of terrorist plots abroad, not for crimes against humanity committed against
Libyans. Oil interests and the regime's "dovish" face in recent years
successfully extended its life.
Qaddafi's dovish period coincided with the rise to prominence of his
second son, Saif Al Islam, and his sister Ayesha, the latter becoming a goodwill
ambassador for the United Nations. Saif cultivated a reputation for being a
"reformer": he called for a national-reconciliation process with opposition
groups, supposedly liberalised the media, supported charity and development
initiatives, and most importantly, became a face that the West could talk to.
The two public fronts for those initiatives were Libya Tomorrow and the Al
Qaddafi Foundation for Development. Behind them, however, Libyan Military
Intelligence, headed by Abdullah Al Sanosi, was giving conditional support
and setting the general direction for their activities.
The "reforms" proposed by Saif Al Islam included releasing some
political prisoners, especially those, like the LIFG, who declared their
allegiance to Qaddafi's regime. But concrete steps leading to government
transparency and accountability, such as inquiries into oil wealth and state
expenditures, or serious investigation of crimes against humanity, were all
beyond his will and imagination.
Despite the cosmetic nature of the "reforms," other regime factions,
most notably those led by Saif's brothers Mutassim, Al Sa'adi, and Khamis,


IPRI Factfile

challenged them. Behind the brothers were other security agencies: the
Internal Security Forces, the Revolutionary Committees, and, to a lesser
extent, the Jamahiriya Security Apparatus (Foreign Intelligence).
When I visited Tripoli in March 2010 for a "national reconciliation"
conference, the conflicting statements given by Saif and security officials
surprised me. The head of Internal Security Forces, Colonel Al Tuhami
Khaled, another principal suspect in the crimes currently being committed
against Libyans, refused to call the process "reconciliation." For him, it was
"repentance from heresy."
Given the recent wave of uprisings, it is more evident than ever that any
"reform" initiatives undertaken in the Arab world previously were aimed only
at sustaining dictatorships and escaping punishment for criminal abuse of
power. The reform "debate" within these regimes boiled down to a struggle
between different branches of the security-military apparatus over the best way
to preserve the status quo.
When asked by a journalist what I would like to say to Saif if I were ever
to meet him again, I replied: "I hope to see you in the International Criminal
Court, beside Mubarak and Ben Ali." Millions of Arabs of my generation and
younger would probably give the same answer if asked what should become of
the men who controlled their present and sought to destroy their future.
Omar Ashour, Bangladesh Today, March 22, 2011,


With the UN Security Council (UNSC) resolution on Libya authorising all UN
members to take all necessary measures [notwithstanding the previous arms
embargo] to protect civilians and civilian populated areas under threat of
attack in the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, including Benghazi, while excluding a
foreign occupation force of any form on any part of Libyan territory, the
stage was all set for a foreign intervention. A no-fly zone was also announced
in the UNSC resolution. In view of this, the Libyan government took a
pragmatic decision and declared an immediate ceasefire. Libyan Foreign
Minister Mussa Kussa announced that the government wanted to protect
civilians and it was ready to open all dialogue channels with everyone
interested in the territorial unity of Libya. The UNSCs resolution is another
stark reminder of how imperialist powers can manipulate the world system to
their advantage. Muammar Gaddafis blood-curdling rhetoric on crushing the
rebel movement in Benghazi did not help either. He said, ...we are
determined. We will track them down, and search for them, alley by alley, road
by road, the Libyan people all of them together will be crawling out. These
were ominous words and may have even provoked some members of the

Arabs Rise for Change


UNSC to vote for (or abstain from voting against) the resolution the way they
did. It also gave the west a chance to call for direct military intervention.
It is unfortunate that the opposition to Gaddafis long 43-year rule did
not remain within the bounds of peaceful protest, either from the rebels or
the governments side. Descent into civil war was inevitable as a result. The
Libyan armed forces pulled no punches and Gaddafis hostile speeches made
the chances of a mediated settlement impossible. Having said that, a foreign
military intervention, even if it follows the UNSC resolution and does not lead
to any foreign forces on Libyan soil or foreign occupation, is the wrong way to
settle this issue. History is replete with examples of covert operations to get
around the restriction on foreign ground forces. On top of that, pre-emptive
strikes against Gaddafis forces were never ruled out by the UNSC resolution.
The US led the pack while Britain and France are all too ready to assist it.
Long-range bomber aircraft can be launched while a fleet of US naval ships is
already present in the Mediterranean. The outcome of such an attack cannot
be predicted but it may lead to a wider war. If the Libyan government is
unable to stave off the destruction of its air force and military, a regional
conflagration could be imminent. The internal struggle of the Libyan people
and their rebellion against Gaddafis rule has been turned into a potentially
international conflict. This is highly dangerous.
It is hoped that the Gaddafi regime sticks to the ceasefire and negotiates
with the rebel forces instead of attacking them head-on. If this does not work
out, the world would see a new, potentially devastating conflict. The Arab
League may have been hankering for Gaddafis overthrow and thus paved the
way for the UNSC through its own resolution asking for a no-fly zone, but if a
full-fledged military intervention takes place, the Arab world would not remain
unaffected. We have seen the disastrous results of foreign intervention in
Afghanistan, Iraq, Yugoslavia, Kosovo and other countries. It is therefore best
advised that the west should not repeat the same mistakes. In principle, too,
such an intervention is uncalled for. The Libyan opposition might not be
averse to an imperialist intervention but the responsible states of the world
should not lend support to such an aggressive posture.
Editorial, Daily Times (Lahore), March 21, 2011,\03\19\story_19-32011_pg3_1




Many Americans and Arabs, too, for that matter have a visceral sense
that if theres a war in the Middle East, the United States must be in the
vanguard. Im glad thats not the case this weekend with the Libyan


IPRI Factfile

intervention. Americans should be happy to let France and Britain, who live in
the neighborhood, take the lead.
President Obama is turning a page, by letting other nations take the first
whacks at Moammar Gaddafi, no question about that. But that strikes me as
good strategy, not a feckless blunder.
Whats increasingly clear watching the play of events over the past week
is that Obama really does want to change the narrative about America and the
Arab world even at the cost of being criticized as vacillating and weakwilled. He senses (rightly, in my view) that over the past several decades
America, without really intending to, became a post-colonial power in the
Middle East. The narrative of American military intervention stretches from
Lebanon to Iraq to Afghanistan, with the ghastly interlude of Sept. 11, 2001.
Obama seems determined to break with it. He really is the un-Bush.
The administration has gotten criticized for changing course on Libya
over the past week resisting intervention and then supporting it. But the
essential point, it seems to me, is that Obama was prepared to intervene only
when it was clear there was an international consensus with the Arab
League and then the United Nations voting for action. That strikes me as the
proper ordering of things, especially at a time when America still has big
armies in two other Muslim countries.
The Libyan rebels deserve support, but that should not automatically
mean unilateral U.S. military action. We are only beginning to understand who
the rebels are and what they want. There may have been an emotional
argument for military action on their behalf several weeks ago but not a sound
strategic one.
How should this war unfold? Whats ahead is some fighting, which isnt
likely to last long, given what we know of Gaddafis military; then were likely
to see a cease-fire and then political-military process much of it taking place
in the shadows that leads to Gaddafis ouster and replacement by some sort
of coalition government.
This Libya war may be messy and confusing, and it certainly wont be
what Pentagon planners would do if they could dictate matters. But thats the
point: America wont be the writing this script on its own. And thats a good
David Ignatius, Washington Post, March 21, 2011,




US and European military forces have bombarded Libya with cruise missiles
and air attacks as part of effort to enforce a UN-mandated no-fly zone more

Arabs Rise for Change


than a month after the outbreak of an uprising against longtime leader

Moamer Kadhafi.
French jets fired the first shots on Saturday in Operation Odyssey
Dawn the biggest international military intervention in the Arab world since
the 2003 invasion of Iraq, destroying tanks and armoured vehicles in eastern
Libya. Hours later, US and British warships and submarines launched more
than 110 Tomahawk cruise missiles at more than 20 coastal targets to clear the
way for air patrols to ground Libyas air force. According to reports by the
Libyan media 48 people were killed and over 150 injured in the western
bombing and Col Kadhafi announced to retaliate by opening the stores of
arms to the masses to defend the independence of the country. Since UN
Security Council imposed a no fly zone on Libya, the guns of western media
too have opened their fire at Libya and its leadership. Though it is true the
Government in Libya is not exemplary but in any case the uprising by the
people is an internal issue and western intervention under the pretext of
stopping massacre of the people is uncalled far. Even western media which is
in the forefront to highlight the uprising in the Middle East has been unable to
report massive killings at the hands of Colonel Kadhafi as caused by the
western missile attacks. The attacks by the US and its European allies in Libya
are repetition of aggressions in Iraq and Afghanistan and the escalation of the
highest level is feared in the days to come. That would also provide an excuse
to the western countries to land their forces in Libya. If that happens, there
would be more bloodshed and the devastation would be of unimaginable scale.
The people of Iraq and Afghanistan are still suffering and majority of them are
openly saying that they were enjoying more peace and security before than
after the US invasion of their countries. We fear that a dirty game is being
played to destabilize Afro-Arab countries and the attack on Libya is part of the
conspiracy to divide the country as had been done in Sudan to occupy the vital
sources of energy.
Editorial, Pakistan Observer (Islamabad), March 21, 2011,




Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi has vowed that the western forces
that have invaded Libya are in for a long haul. We promise you a long drawnout war with no limits. We will fight inch by inch, warned Gaddafi. He also
said, You are unjust, you are the aggressors, you are beasts, you are
criminals. French aircraft led the campaign by firing the first shots, Britain
joined in as well in the air and sea attack and after its initial hesitation, the US
too has now joined the invasion.


IPRI Factfile

The foreign forces are hitting Libyan airfields and air defence systems to
implement the no-fly zone part of the UN Security Council (UNSC) resolution
on Libya. But they have also resorted to attacking the Lybian governments
tank and armoured columns, especially around Benghazi, ostensibly on the
pretext of protecting citizens. Despite the Libyan regimes announcement of a
ceasefire, the Libyan opposition claimed that Gaddafis forces were still
attacking the rebels. The Libyan government claimed that the rebels were not
respecting the ceasefire and were attacking their forces. In any war, especially a
civil war, a ceasefire takes some time to take effect. Merely announcing a
ceasefire does not mean that all fighting would immediately come to a halt.
Instead of testing the ceasefire, the western forces launched an attack on Libya
despite knowing full well that ceasefires need some time to take hold and for
the fighting to cease. It is quite clear now that all this was pre-planned. France
and Britain have been very clear on what they want: a regime change in Libya.
They are prepared to go all the way and do whatever it takes to topple
Gaddafis government, even if it means bending the interpretation of the
UNSC resolution.
There is a wave of protests and revolt in the Arab world but the west
did not take any action because it did not have any major strategic, political or
economic interests in those countries. Tunisia falls into this category. As for
Egypt, even though it is an important country strategically, the scales were
tipped so much against Hosni Mubarak that the west willy-nilly had to go
along with the peoples demands. But to prevent further radicalisation of the
Tahrir Square movement, the western powers asked the Egyptian army to
control the situation. As time goes by and as this spectrum of forces plays out,
the constitutional referendum will indicate what the political bent, composition
and trend of the Egyptian opposition to Mubarak will turn out to be. It has
not yet been determined because of the wide array and broad spectrum of
these forces. Yemen is a strategic ally of the west because it has now become
one of al Qaedas main base areas. President Ali Abdullah Saleh is in trouble
but despite the mealy-mouthed condemnation from the west at the killing of
protestors in Yemen, Saleh is probably still an ally. The west has gone totally
quiet about the UAE and Saudi Arabias intervention in Bahrain, probably
because a successful revolution in Bahrain could potentially lead to Saudi
Arabias destabilisation. Pakistani mercenaries are also present in Bahrain and
killing the protestors. Such is the irony of our so-called Muslim ummah.
The opposition in Libya has a monarchist and pro-western tilt. A prowestern regime change in Libya will allow the west to lay its hands on the
massive oil and gas riches of the country but the western forces have to realise
that intervening in a country with superior military power is easy, predicting
the outcome is the difficult part. Gaddafi will try to hold out as long as
possible. As the war proceeds, it is inevitable that not only will the western
bombardment take out Gaddafis forces, it will also lead to civilian casualties.

Arabs Rise for Change


Such incidents will only strengthen the religious right that will play on
emotions by dubbing this as another attack on a Muslim country. By
attacking Libya, the west is making things worse for itself and losing its
credibility in the Muslim and wider world. It is also unclear whether anyone
has calculated the consequences and fallout of this attack. The mess in Libya is
getting messier by the day. The wests aggressive posture is not helping
anyones cause.
Editorial, Daily Times (Lahore), March 21, 2011,\03\21\story_21-32011_pg3_1




The Tomahawks, accompanied by warplanes, struck Libya on Saturday. The

military operation, led by Europe and the US, did not come as a surprise. A
UN Security Council resolution adopted last week called for all necessary
measures to establish a no-fly zone and protect civilians in the North African
country. This was the green signal needed to pave the way for foreign armed
intervention in the Libyan crisis. However, the military action seems to be
more along the lines of no-fly zone plus. The allies must realise that if the
intervention means putting boots on the ground as some western leaders
have hinted at there will be a negative reaction in the Muslim world, as the
Afghan and Iraqi experiences have shown.
Col Muammar Qadhafi has decided to dig in his heels, proclaiming on
Sunday that his forces were prepared for a long war. The Libyan states
propaganda machine has also claimed that there have been civilian causalities
caused by the western strikes. We think the use of force against the Qadhafi
regime at this point is not a good idea. The sooner it ends the better as western
firepower may take a significant civilian toll. The world community is also
divided on the use of force, as both Russia and China have opposed military
intervention. The African Union also wants a mediated solution. What is
more, nobody really knows who the rebels fighting Col Qadhafis government
are. Are they tribesmen, the political opposition or some other entity? It will
complicate matters if a worse alternative to the Libyan dictator is installed
because of the one-point western agenda of getting rid of him.
Interestingly, the worlds urgency perhaps for reasons of realpolitik
seems to be limited to Libya, forgetting other parts of the Arab world
where strongmen are also crushing peaceful dissent. In Yemen, progovernment forces shot over 40 protesters at a demonstration in Sanaa on
Friday. The Yemeni regime is seen as a bulwark against Al Qaeda, which is
believed to have a strong presence in the impoverished country. Hence the use
of kid gloves while dealing with Yemens autocratic government. In Bahrain,


IPRI Factfile

resistance against the Al Khalifa monarchy is hardening, with growing calls for
the royal familys overthrow. The ruling familys suppression of protests, aided
by Saudi military help, is largely responsible for this. With the creation of noprotest zones in the Gulf, a greater debate is needed in the West and the UN
about how to respond to calls for change in the Arab world, and to decide
whether it is ethical to be selective when it comes to supporting or ignoring
pro-democracy movements.
Editorial, Dawn (Islamabad), March 21, 2011,

The UN Security Council has voted to impose a no-fly zone over Libya, with
only China, Brazil and India abstaining. China, the only of the trio with veto,
did not cast it, thus showing the UNSC is only meant by the USA as a
rubberstamp for its decisions, and these decisions are usually directed against
Muslims. As with the recent resolution against Israeli settlements in the West
Bank, its veto is cast virtually reflexively. However, the USA should not
suppose that it can fool anyone, because all have noted that it itself lied to the
UNSC when it claimed that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. Its claim of
concern for the protesters in Libya will find very few takers. It has also stood
by while its friends, most notably India over Held Kashmir, have flagrantly
violated its mandate. The USA might obtain UN cover for its adventurism,
though there is a sign of caution seen in the obtaining of the backing of the
Arab League. However, the Arab League represents those very countries
whose regimes are facing a rebellion, and they are expected to contribute
either forces or funds. It is perhaps typical of the USA that it is taking its
notorious stinginess to people too, but it also shows that it feels over-stretched
by its commitments, particularly in Iraq and Afghanistan. The US record in
them has not encouraged any hopes of a beneficial result in Libya, where the
USA might be more guided by animus against the personality of its leader,
than any real hope of success. The security of Israel, another axiom of US
policy in the region, may not be negatively affected by the removal of Libyan
leader Muammar Gaddafi, because he has not affected it despite so many years
of claims, but his presence also does not help secure it. If the US purpose in
Libya is democracy, it does not seem interested in democracy for Bahrain,
which is not just up in arms, but also a US fleet HQ.
The continued cooperation of Pakistan with the USA must not be
allowed to extend to helping it against Muslim countries. The best way of
preventing this is the government to end its alliance with the USA. The
present government should understand that its policy of currying favour with
the USA will bring it no benefit, while breaking off relations will enable it to

Arabs Rise for Change


go to the people, something it must do in the near future, with better chances
than now. The Libyan regime must not solely work on the best means for its
own survival, which does not involve such killings as at present, but on how
best to keep the USA from establishing a military presence in an area made so
very interesting by recent events.
Editorial, Nation (Islamabad), March 22, 2011,




Let us be clear: We are no supporters of Moammar Qaddafi and, in

accordance with the expressed wishes of what appears to be the overwhelming
majority of Libyans, would like to see him gone.
As a consequence, the action against Libya so far, especially the
establishment of a no-fly zone and the minimisation of Qaddafis ability to kill
his own citizens is perhaps the only option that could have been employed
at this point in time. Almost too late, it appears that they have been successful
in pushing back pro-Qaddafi forces from routing rebel forces. However, the
end goal of this action is unclear since the forces have no mandate to remove
Qaddafi nor would that be possible without the use of ground forces. Tacit
acknowledgement of this has come from US military chief Admiral Mike
Mullen who was quoted on March 20 as saying that the intention of the air
strikes and missile attacks was not to oust the Libyan dictator and that he may
well survive the air campaign. In the best case scenario, however, this attack
will allow the rebel forces to regroup and eventually overcome Qaddafis band
of thug supporters and mercenaries.
That said, the action by the international forces does however come
across as odd given the silence over the protests and criticism directed of late
against the absolute rulers of Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Yemen. This means
that if the West bombs Tripoli whilst watching other Arab despots kill their
own citizens, it will seem more and more as if there is an ulterior motive to the
attacks. Yemen in particular has seen violence for several weeks because the
people of Yemen are fed up with the decades-long rule of their head of state,
but the West has so far not asked for Ali Abdullah Saleh to step down,
perhaps because he has said that he is committed to stamping out al Qaeda in
his country. A double-standard will cause more problems in the long term
leaving the basic problems of misrule, corruption and lack of genuine
democracy and freedom to be resolved in the future. For its part, Libya must
immediately abide by the no-fly zone set up under UN auspices and call an
actual halt on all attacks on its own citizens, especially in the countrys east,


IPRI Factfile

which has been under the control of forces who want Mr Qaddafi to hand
over power.
Editorial, Express Tribune (Islamabad), March 22, 2011,


The worst apprehensions are coming true as the West, led by the United
States, is persisting with its policy of eliminating and taming one Muslim
country after the other. First it was Iraq, then Afghanistan and to an extent
Pakistan and now it is Libya that is bearing the brunt of Western aggression
that is solely aimed at occupying another oil producing country.
The way the United States and its coteries like France, Britain and Italy
are using brutal force to bomb and kill innocent people of Libya is the most
evil example of misuse of the dubious authority given by the United Nations
to protect lives of Libyan people at the hands of Qaddafi forces. Even if the
Libyan forces were killing their own people, they have now been replaced by
the Western aggressors meaning thereby complications of woes and miseries
of the ill-fated people of this small and weak Muslim state. There was
absolutely no justification to launch military attacks on Libya when
immediately after adoption of the UN resolution, Libyan Foreign Minister and
military chief categorically declared cessation of military operation. But the
contemptuous haste with which France, United States, Italy and UK moved to
launch attacks made it absolutely clear that the objective was not to impose the
so-called no fly zone but to carry out aggression and occupy a country. We
believe that Arab League is mainly to be blamed for giving its consent to the
loathsome idea of imposing no fly zone. Now Arab League Secretary General
Amr Musa is lamenting that their approval was meant for imposition of no fly
zone and not attacks yet this is nothing but crocodile tears. Western powers
have a known history of betrayals and this became evident in Iraq where
intensive propaganda was launched regarding weapons of mass destruction,
but later it proved beyond any doubt that the sinister campaign was aimed at
hoodwinking the international community. In this perspective, the Arab
League should have understood the consequences of giving blanket
permission which is now being misused to kill people of Libya. What Western
countries are up to when they also claim that Qaddafi was not their immediate
target? This is despite the fact that they have known bias against him and as in
the past his residence was also bombed by Western aggressors. Anyhow, we
hope that what is happening in Libya now should be a wake-up call to Arab
League, which should, in coordination with other Muslim States and Third
World countries, go back to the UN for review of the license for kill
resolution. China and Russia, which are also to be blamed for their

Arabs Rise for Change


questionable silence at UN, should also review their position, otherwise they
too would be considered tacit approvers.
Editorial, Pakistan Observer (Islamabad), March 22, 2011,




Finally Pakistan has woken up to the disastrous military intervention by the

western forces in Libya. On Saturday, Pakistans Foreign Office expressed
serious concerns over the foreign forces strikes on Libya. Briefing the Senate
Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir said,
Pakistans position is very clear and principled. Everyone should respect a
countrys sovereignty. Mr Bashir said that the UN resolution on Libya was
faulty and allowed the west to do anything. He further stated, The
prescription of democracy, pluralism and human rights is acceptable but it has
to be done as people want and through peaceful means.
The UN resolution on Libya is indeed faulty and quite vague. The
consequences of passing such a resolution can now be seen. Even though it
was not mandated in the UN resolution, the west now wants to overthrow
Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi. The mandate of the resolution was
ambiguous. We also need to question the term international community.
Basically the term refers to powerful countries of the west led by the US. This
term has been used whenever an imperialist intervention has taken place on
so-called humanitarian grounds. The west continues to support autocrats in
countries that do not threaten its hegemony, in fact help keep it intact, such as
the House of Saud in Saudi Arabia. Military dictators in Pakistan were
supported by the west till the time that the tide turned against those despots.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has tried to justify this war by
saying, We are beginning to see, because of the good work of the coalition,
his [Gaddafis] troops begin to turn back toward the west and to see the
opposition begin to reclaim the ground they had lost. The US and its allies
should know that though their attacks on Gaddafis forces and air force have
weakened the Libyan forces, there is little possibility that Gaddafi would give
up easily. It is now clear that the west actually set out to effect a regime change
in Libya as has been stated by the British and French leaders. How is it
justified that if the west does not like a leader, it intervenes militarily to achieve
its aims? This is not the first time such things have happened and is unlikely to
be the last. Ever since the Cold War ended with the collapse of the Soviet
Union, the world has seen a horizontal expansion of capitalism into the
formerly socialist countries and under the rubric of globalisation into the rest
of the world. The worlds dominant countries, who like to call themselves the
international community, have set out to re-conquer the world through


IPRI Factfile

military means. It started with the Balkans, and via Afghanistan and Iraq, is
now being witnessed in Libya. The goal is Pax Americana (global empire).
The US is on the decline as an economic power despite the
triumphalism of the US after the Cold War ended in 1991. The global
recession may not have affected the USs military power, but it increasingly
resembles nothing more than a colossus with feet of clay. Europe, which was
seen to be the next world power, has been rendered hollow after the global
recession and remains the USs subservient ally.
Libya is a relatively weak country when it comes to the global powers
but this provides no justification for attacking it. The world today is emerging
as a multi-polar world where many countries like China, India, and Brazil are
now economically getting stronger. Russia, too, is re-emerging as a global
power. Historys verdict will one day be witness to the fact that like
colonialism came to an end, imperialism, whether masquerading as
humanitarian or otherwise, too will not last forever. The sooner the
international community comes to terms with this fact, the better all round.
Editorial, Daily Times (Lahore), March 28, 2011,\03\28\story_28-32011_pg3_1


President Obama made a televised address from the National Defence
University in Washington to explain why he took action against the forces of
the Qaddafi regime that had begun attacking civilians for protesting against the
regime. Those who drafted the Resolution 1973 based their case on a need to
protect Libyas civilians from attacks and facilitate dialogue between warring
camps. Top Vatican official in Tripoli Bishop Martinelli has recently
commented: The air strikes are meant to protect civilians, but they are killing
dozens of civilians; he was reacting to killing of 46 civilians by the UN
mandated bombers.
During the entire episode of diplomatic build up against Libya,
Organization of Islamic Countries (OIC) was neither seen nor head. Arab
League (AL) hurriedly suspended Libyas membership and abdicated its
leverage to resolve the crisis. It referred the matter to UN for military action
against Libya in the form of enforcing a no-fly zone. No wonder spoilers
promptly filled the void. UNSC resolution 1973 about Libya was poorly
drafted by these opportunists. It is likely to set a horrible precedent in the
name of vague terminologies like democracy, human rights, protection of
civilians etc.
Going by the wording of resolution, almost all Arab states and most of
the developing countries could qualify for foreign intervention under fuzzy

Arabs Rise for Change


pretexts. Such actions are poised to be selective. Atrocities committed in

places like Gaza and Kashmir will continue to be pushed under the carpet.
Realizing the implications of the resolution, Arab support for military
intervention wavered rather quickly. Alas! By then lamb had been handed over
to wolves. It is not surprising that out of 21 AL members, only four attended
the Paris summit convened for implementing the UN resolution. Qatar and
the UAE are the only Arab states taking part in enforcing no-fly zone, both
contributing just a token number of aircraft.
Resolution authorized UN member states to take all necessary
measures to achieve these aims, but ruled out the presence of foreign troops
on Libyas soil. However, the US ambassador to the UN later said that it
would permit helping the rebel forces with weapons. Hence United States has
found justification to train, arm and finance anti-Qaddafi insurgency, although
some of the rebel leaders are affiliates of Al-qaeda and have fought against
America in Afghanistan and Iraq.
The UN mandate of enforcement under Chapter 7, and related articles
is meant to be exercised as a last resort. Russia and China questioned the
merit of using force when other means had not been exhausted; this argument
was also supported by Brazil and India. These four nations also pointed out
the lack of clarity about who would enforce the measures.
Blitzkrieg style attack on Libya by the US, the UK and France surprised
almost everyone because of the speed with which it was executed after
authorization. Much before the passage of resolution, western media was
abuzz with the speculations that foreign special operatives and logistic support
units had already entered the Libyan soil clandestinely. NATO is well
experienced in enforcing no fly zone; however, other attendant aspects of the
mission and strategy are hazy. Libya is more than thirty times larger than
Bosnia, where NATO implemented a no fly zone by employing around 240
aircraft from over ten countries. A number of countries participating in the air
campaign are of the view that they want an end to the rule of Qaddafi;
whereas, this is not the language of the Resolution 1973. Moreover, a no fly
zone could do little to impede Qaddafis land forces. One wonders how long
this operation could comprise of exclusively air campaigns; Kosovo model
may not hold good for Libya. Enforcing the UN mandate by air power alone
will be impossible. Eventually, it would necessitate the commitment of ground
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has recently observed that the
concept of a just war can easily take on the aspect of a crusade. Wars on
such pretexts are indeed a replica of the medieval notion of a morally justified
war, which have since long been replaced with the model of legal war. UNO
was precisely raised to prevent this kind of just wars. Due to munitions of
phenomenal destructive power at the disposal of intervening parties, such
interventions end up in causing more casualties and destruction than what the


IPRI Factfile

repressive regimes, having relatively primitive means, could inflict on their

own people. Pakistan has termed the resolution as a sign of alarm. Pakistan is
deeply concerned on the use of force against Libya and is of the opinion that a
big crisis is in the offing in Arab region and Northern Africa. Iran has also
expressed similar reservations.
Disagreement over the extent and limits of Libyan intervention indicates
deep divisions within regional and global institutions and governments. A split
UNSC vote of 10-0, with five abstentions indicates the lack of unanimity on
the issue. Split within Europe is rather evident. Germany abstained from the
resolution, refusing to participate in the operations and calling any military
operation folly that may go beyond air strikes. Germanys stance is by backed
by Turkey. Brazils ambassador raised the prospect of the resolution causing
more harm than good to the civilians intended to be protected. Similar
considerations weighed on Arab League delegates when they debated the crisis
in Cairo. They called for a no-fly zone in Libya, and nothing more. Arab
League was opposed to any foreign intervention and wanted that no-fly zone
must end with the end of that crisis.
Therefore, in case of prolonged, conflict, the frail cooperation among
regional groupings could quickly meltdown on the pretext of violation of the
UN parameters set for intervention. Although the UN authorization is based
on the premise that civilians are under attack, the rebels are armed and an
armed conflict is underway. The Libyan government has the right, as a
sovereign nation, to put down the armed rebellion; though it certainly does not
have the right to kill the unarmed innocent protesters. China and Russia
abstained and in a way extended tacit support to the move to launch an
aggression against a sovereign country. Even though they may not be in favour
of allowing invasion and occupation of Libya, now they may not be able to
arrest or reverse this tendency. Islamic and other developing countries need to
do effective lobbying with Moscow and Beijing to stall such move.
Pakistan is of the view that no country should be divided, fractured or
brought under attack merely in the name of restoration of democracy,
protection of human rights or safeguarding the civilians. Pakistan also rejects
the trend of regime change through foreign intervention. Pakistans priority is
stability and peace. President John F Kennedy once quipped that limited
military interventions are like taking a drink, once you take one and the effect
wears off, you have to take another. American and British media are already
referring to eastern Libya as disputed territory. Forced partition of Libya
would create yet another perpetual war zone. In all probability, we are in for a
long haul!
Air Cdre Khalid Iqbal (R), Pakistan Observer (Islamabad), April 4, 2011,

Arabs Rise for Change



Unless there is a diplomatic solution, for which moves are afoot, Libya could
head towards partition. The rebels, in spite of Nato air strikes, have lost
considerable part of the territory they had gained. Both sides now want a
ceasefire obviously to consolidate their positions. If it goes into effect, the
rebels will get more western arms and sort out discipline and command
problems to renew their offensive with greater vigour. There are indications
that Muammar Qadhafi is willing to quit, but that his sons will oversee the
transition. The eastern rebels have rejected this and want the Qadhafi family
to leave. The rebels diplomatic position has improved, with Italy joining
France and Qatar in recognising the breakaway Transitional National Council.
If more states recognise the Benghazi-based regime and the stalemate is
prolonged, the oil-rich country will stand partitioned the first Arab country
to suffer this fate since the democracy wave began in Tunisia last December.
Turkey and Greece are now involved in diplomatic efforts to end the
conflict and find a peaceful solution that could end Libyas misery. Civilians
have suffered immensely, with neither side bothering to spare them. In fact,
Nato has had to warn the rebels that if they do not stop bombing civilians in
Qadhafi-held territory, its forces will target their troops just as they have hit
Qadhafi forces to save civilian lives. As in Tunisia and Egypt, where the
dissidents didnt accept a transition process supervised by regime supporters,
the Libyan rebels too are doing the same, even though privately revolt leaders
admit that a military solution to the conflict is not possible. What they should
note is that the sympathies of the world are by and large with them. A
ceasefire followed by recognition by more states will strengthen their
international status and erode Col Qadhafis power. Adopting a hard line will
only prolong the conflict, add to casualties and aggravate the plight of the
Libyan people. All one can hope is that better sense will prevail on both sides,
that they will take care to avoid collateral damage and a road map to peace is
prepared to avert Libyas partition.
Editorial, Dawn (Islamabad), April 6, 2011,




They have committed themselves to a war, but they have no plans for what
happens after tomorrow night. They swear that they will never put ground
troops into Libya, so their strategy consists solely of hoping that air strikes on
Col Qadhafi`s air defence systems (and on his ground forces when they can be
targeted without killing civilians) will persuade his troops to abandon him.
They don`t even have an agreed command structure.


IPRI Factfile

So why is this `coalition of the willing` (which has yet to find a proper
name for itself) doing this? Don`t say `it`s all about oil`. That`s just lazy
thinking: all the western oil majors are already back in Libya. They have been
back ever since the great reconciliation between their governments and
Qadhafi in 2003.
That deal was indeed driven partly by oil, although also in part by
western concerns about Libya`s alleged nuclear ambitions. (Qadhafi played his
cards well there, because he never really had a viable nuclear weapons
programme.) But do you seriously think that western governments have now
launched this major military operation merely to improve the contractual
terms for a few of their oil companies?
Maybe it`s just about local political advantage, then. President Nicolas
Sarkozy of France was the driving force behind this intervention, and he faces
a re-election battle next year. Is he seeking credit with French voters for this
`humanitarian` intervention? Implausible, since it`s the right-wing vote he
must capture to win, and saving the lives of Arab foreigners does not rank
high in the priorities of the French right.
Prime Minister David Cameron in Britain was the other prime mover in
the Libyan intervention. Unless the coalition government he leads collapses
(which is quite unlikely), he won`t even have to face the electorate again until
2014. So what would be the point in seeking political popularity with a military
intervention now? Even if that were a sure route to popularity in Britain,
which it is not.
As for Barack Obama, he spent weeks trying to avoid an American
military commitment in Libya, and his secretary of defence, Robert Gates, was
outspoken in denouncing the idea. Yet there they all are, intervening: France,
Britain, the United States, and half a dozen other western countries. Strikingly
unaccompanied by Arab military forces, or indeed by anybody else`s.
There is no profit in this for the West, and there is a high probability (of
which the interveners are well aware) that it will all end in tears. There is the
danger of `mission creep`, there is the risk that the bombing will kill Libyan
civilians, and there is the fact that many of the countries that voted for
Security Council Resolution 1973, or at least abstained from voting against it,
are already peeling away from the commitment it implied.
They wanted to stop Qadhafi from committing more massacres. They
even supported or did not oppose the means: the use of `all necessary
measures` to protect Libyan civilians, which in diplomatic-speak means force.
But they cannot stomach the reality of western aircraft bombing another Third
World country, however decent the motives and however deserving the
So why have the western countries embarked on this quixotic venture?
Indians feel no need to intervene, nor do Chinese or Japanese. Russians and
South Africans and Brazilians can watch the killing in Libya on their

Arabs Rise for Change


televisions and deplore Qadhafi`s behaviour without wanting to do something

about it.
Even Egyptians, who are fellow Arabs, Libya`s next-door neighbours,
and the beneficiaries of a similar but successful democratic revolution just last
month, haven`t lifted a finger to help the Libyan revolutionaries. They don`t
lack the means only a small fraction of their army could put an end to
Qadhafi`s regime in days but they lack the will. Indeed, they lack any sense
of responsibility for what happens to people beyond their own borders.
That`s normal. What is abnormal is a domestic politics in which the
failure to intervene in Rwanda to stop the genocide is still remembered and
debated 15 years later. African countries don`t hold that debate; only western
countries do. Western countries also feel guilty about their slow and timorous
response to the slaughter in former Yugoslavia in the 1990s. Nobody else
Cynicism is a necessary tool when dealing with international affairs, but
sometimes you have to admit that countries are acting from genuinely selfless
and humanitarian motives. Yes, I know, Vietnam, and Iraq, and 100 years of
US meddling in Latin America, and 500 years of European imperial plunder all
around the world. I did say `sometimes`. But I think this is one of those times.
Why is it only western countries that believe they have a duty to intervene
militarily, even in places where they have no interests at stake, merely to save
lives? My guess is that it`s a heritage of the great wars they fought in the 20th
century, and particularly of the war against Hitler, in which they told
themselves (with some justification) that they were fighting pure evil and
eventually discovered that they were also fighting a terrible genocide.
Gwynne Dyer, Dawn (Islamabad), April 15, 2011,




The Unholy Alliance of the West, launched the Crusade against Gaddafi in
support of the rebels, but is having cold feet now, realising that, the Jehadees
from the neighbouring countries are entering Libya, in support of Gaddafi.
Not only the West, but Gaddafi himself is nervous, which explains the
dilemma that, the Jehadees will soon gain power and influence in Libya.
The West has geo-strategic interests in the Mediterranean Rim Countries
and Africa. Libya occupies an important position. With the establishment of
the AFRICOM, Wests objective is to establish hegemony over the region.
Out of twenty countries of the Mediterranean Rim land, only Libya, Lebanon
and Syria are not allied to NATO, and so are Somalia, Eritrea, Zimbabwe and
Ivory Coast, from fifty African countries. Zimbabwe is the exception, while
Somalia, Eritrea and Ivory Coast, are facing revolt. The so called repressive


IPRI Factfile

regimes, Sudan, Syria and Libya, the weakest has been invaded. The 5th
American fleet is located in Bahrain, where the revolt is being suppressed by
the Saudis and GCC armed forces. Thus morality has been sacrificed by
crushing the rebels in Bahrain, while the Libyan rebels are being whole
heartedly patronised.
As soon as the No Fly Zone was established over Libya, the SAS men,
Marines and CIA operatives from USA, UK and France numbering over 1500,
landed to supply arms and ammunition and provide command &
communication support to the rebels. An amount of US$ 1.1 billion, out of
the seized assets of Gaddafi, was promptly released to support the war. Libya
is important because of large oil and gas deposits and huge fresh water
deposits, called Nubian Sandstone Water, estimated at 200xyears of flow of
the Nile River. The French cartel, which controls 40% of global water market
has deep interest in this water.
The Jihadees. At the very beginning of the war on Libya, what I wrote in
my article, titled Obamas Call for Jehad Into Libya is coming true: The
worst that will happen is that, very soon the Jehadees from Iraq, Afghanistan
and the neighbouring countries, particularly the Takfeeris from Iraq will enter
Libya to liberate the Muslim land, as it happened in Afghanistan in 2001. The
rebels and the jehadees are joining Gaddafis forces against the West. The
powerful Salafi leader, Abu Masaab al-Wadood, has joined the Jehad against
the Crusaders and is getting arms and ammunition from Gaddafi. In fact,
Libya is another Afghanistan in the making, because this conflict doesnt
seem to be coming to an end soon. The West has rejected the African Union
agreed proposal for seize fire and reforms. West wants Gaddafi out, which is
not likely.
The situation is frightening both, for the West as well as Gaddafi, who
will not be able to stand-up to the jehadees, once they gain power and
influence. In fact, West is supporting Al-Qaeda Magrab (AQM) in the same
manner, they supported Mujahideen in Afghanistan 1980-88. The Jehadees are
coming as they did, when Iraq was occupied by USA in 2003. An incident,
narrated to me by my journalist friend in Karachi in 2003, explain the
phenomenon: It was about two months after the occupation of Iraq, that
while travelling in a taxi, the driver told me that he was working in Saudi
Arabia, I asked him, how was life in Saudi Arabia? He said, he was having a
roaring time there, because every evening he would pick-up the jehadees in his
taxis and show them the way into Iraq. I asked him who are they and who is
supporting them? He said name any country, they are coming on their own,
and no one supports them. I said, God help the United States. And now in
Libya, God help the West, and Gaddafi, who will be facing the jehadees,
after the air war dust settles down.
Gaddafi is threatened by the Jehadees upsurge in Libya. Himself a
moderate Muslim, he follows the philosophy of his Green-book. If he wins,

Arabs Rise for Change


he would stand to loose, both, his regime and his philosophy of moderate
Islam. Having smelled the threat, he sent his foreign minister, abroad for
medical treatment, under the pretext of abdication., with the message to the
West, that before it was too late, they better readjust their priorities. He is also
ready to cooperate as he wrote to Obama saying You are our son, who has
enough courage to annul a wrong.
It always pays, to be honest and straight forward, and that is where the
West has gone wrong. When nations like Afghanistan, Iraq, Palestine and
Kashmir fight for their freedom, their struggle is dubbed as terrorism. AlQaeda is the name of the terror, considered responsible for the 9/11 disaster
threatening the homeland security of USA. They see Al-Qaeda behind every
bush and with every movement for freedom. That is the dichotomy which has
blurred their vision. They have been chasing shadows in Iraq & Afghanistan
and have lost the asymmetric war there. And now in Libya, they are fighting a
war, which was lost, before it was joined.
Democracy is promoted as the utopia for the empowerment of the
people but the same is not acceptable for Iran, Iraq, Lebanon or Ghaza, even
if they get elected through fair means of the ballot, because they are Islamists.
On the other hand, the model democracies in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan,
Bahrain, Yemen and Qatar are being patronized. This kind of duality is the
painful realization of the Muslim World.
Swept by strong passion for change, the Arab World and the Muslim
countries, see the decline of the most powerful nations of the world during the
last thirty years a symptomatic phenomenon, similar to post World War II
decline of the colonial and imperial powers, which caused the surge for
freedom of many countries. Neo-imperialism has failed in the first attempt to
dominate the Asian Muslim region 1990-2010. It will fail again in dominating
the Afro-Mediterranean region now. The world has changed, because the
oppressed of the world desire change, which has been correctly understood
only by the Chinese, who provide the living example of a true initiative for
Peace, Cooperation and Engagement. We as Pakistanis enjoy the best of
relations with China, despite having different ideologies, different political
culture and traditions. Chinese never pull strings, never interfere in our
internal matters. They only help us to be self-reliant, self-respecting and
strong. That is the recipe for change, which Obama promised.
Gen (R) Mirza Aslam Beg, Daily Mail (Islamabad), April 15, 2011,


IPRI Factfile





Mohammed al-Senussi has lived in exile for more than 20 years, ever since his
family relinquished their claim to Libya`s throne in the wake of a military coup
led by Moamer Qadhafi. Yet, Arabic remains al-Senussi`s language of choice
and crown prince of Libya his official title. His life abroad has also featured
active participation in the exiled Libyan opposition.
"Libya is in my heart and my soul," he told European lawmakers on a
recent visit to Brussels. "I truly hope that I will be with my people from
tomorrow. As a simple, ordinary citizen living in exile, I will do all I can to
support my people."
With Qadhafi facing an internal rebellion and a Nato military
intervention, al-Senussi has high hopes that the almost 42-year rule of the man
he calls a dictator and a murderer will soon end. "We are witnessing a
determined drive to ensure that peace, freedom and democracy return to
Libya," he said. "Just a few months ago, no one envisaged a situation where
Qadhafi would not rule Libya."
What is to come next has preoccupied Western and Arab officials for
months. Al-Senussi said he envisages the revival of the 1951 constitution,
which was drafted with input from the United Nations after Libya became a
post-colonial independent state. It instituted a parliamentary system under a
federal monarchy headed by his great-uncle, King Idris.
The Senussi dynasty is related to the royal families of Jordan and
Morocco, European Union lawmaker Nirj Deva said when he introduced alSenussi to his colleagues. "The silencing and suppression of opposition
movements and political parties in the last four decades means that today there
is a vacuum of leadership and political expression in Libya," al-Senussi said.
"(The constitution) may not have been active for 42 years, but - suitably
updated - it could form the basis of a new Libya."
However, he was quick to note, the decision of which type of
government to establish in Libya lies with its population. "Whether the people
want a democracy in the form of a constitutional monarchy or a republic, I will
do everything I can to assist in creating a democratic state for Libyans based
on a representative parliament chosen by free and fair elections," he said. "It is
my task to serve the people."
Al-Senussi said he would expect the Interim Transitional National
Council, the political entity set up by the rebels currently trying to overthrow
Qadhafi, to hold a referendum so that voters could choose their form of
government. "The Interim Transitional National Council is just that transitional," he said. "It is not a permanent solution. That is down to the

Arabs Rise for Change


Al-Senussi`s father had been next in line for the crown when Qadhafi
took advantage of a medical trip by King Idris to overthrow him in a coup in
1969. Family members left behind in Libya fell victim to "brutality ordered
personally by Qadhafi," according to al-Senussi. "We were dragged from our
house and forced to watch our house burned to the ground," he said. "Family
graves were destroyed. Bodies of relatives were exhumed and dumped in the
desert." Al-Senussi interrupted his studies to work for the Libyan Ministry of
Agriculture in the early 1980s so that he could earn a living.
The whole family, however, remained under house arrest - until 1988,
when al-Senussi`s father was allowed to travel to London for medical
treatment. His relatives soon followed. He died in 1992, after appointing his
son crown prince. "While my family has suffered directly at the hands of the
Qadhafi regime, it is nothing compared to the pain, fear and anguish of those
living in ... Libyan cities today," al-Senussi said. "While I hope that my own
situation will soon change, it is much more important to look at the bigger
picture and consider the future of the 6 million inhabitants of Libya."
Alexandra Mayer-Hohdahl, Business Recorder (Islamabad), April 22, 2011,


In their mad frenzy to get Muammar Qadhafi, the western powers are piling
up one blunder after the other in Libya, potentially making for consequences
that predictably would be no lesser searing than their Afghan jihad
adventurisms terrible aftermath. They floundered from the word go. As an
uprising erupted against him in the capital city of Tripoli, they thought
Qadhafi was an easy game and needed a mere shake to tumble down.
Instantly, they rushed to the UN Security Council to wangle, apart a slew of
UN sanctions on him and his family and cronies, his referral to the
International Criminal Court for war crimes. They thus shut the door on him
to go for a compromise political denouement and left him no option but to
survive fighting or die fighting. In their blinding craze, they didnt take a pause
to take into account certain compelling Libyan ground realities. Neither did
they reckon with the tribalistic nature of its polity, deeply fractured by
inerasable tribal divisions, rivalries and antipathies. Nor did they take into
consideration the fact, no matter how unpalatable, that for quite a part of the
polity Qadhafi carried a kind of fetish image, no easy to exorcise at once as
goes for cults. No wonder, he is proving such a hard nut to crack. And in a
spot are the western powers, principally France and Britain for having put
their heads in the snake pit unthinkingly. As the fighting between the rebels
and government forces has now grounded into a stalemate, the western
powers are consequently running into desperate actions that worrisomely spell


IPRI Factfile

wholly undesirable and horrendous consequences in the long run. For

bolstering the as-yet failing rebel forces, they are showing awesome military
teeth in their aid.
The British have deployed in Libya military advisers to guide the
rebels in fighting Qadhafi loyal forces. And as these powers are saying they are
mulling military supplies to the rebel fighters, the reports are their hardware
indeed is already pouring in sizably. This should ring the alarm bells all around.
For, the east, where the revolt is presently concentrated, has been not just
unrelentingly inimical to Qadhafi all through but a lair of religious extremism
and radicalisation. And although there may be a measure of exaggeration to
Qadhafis own take that the revolt against him is being triggered by al-Qaeda,
the fact is he had had not infrequently to mount military campaigns to keep it
subdued. Throwing in bundles of weapons and other military hardware in the
region for the rebels could thus be a very dicey affair, particularly when the
resistance is just a hotchpotch assemblage of desperate strands, with no
commonly recognised central authority, the national transitional council being
just a self-anointed body commanding no all-around respect or control. Given
this, the weapons may land in undesirable hands. Indeed, the Algerians who
over the years have been fighting hard to snuff out the al-Qaeda in the Islamic
Maghreb (AQIM) outfit on their territory are extremely worried. They are in a
shrill that military supplies being shipped by the western powers for rebels are
being grabbed by the AQIM cadres, catapulting enormously their security
threat to their nation. When more western supplies come in, the AQM
arsenals are sure to fatten, as there is no central rebel authority to distribute
the largesse to secure hands and assure its right use. Can the western suppliers
imagine what would it be the possession of their sophisticated weaponry in
extremist hands? And can they even visualise what would it mean if a solethally-armed AQIM teams up with its sisterly al-Qaeda in the Arabian
Peninsula (AQAP)? They shouldnt forget how the fanatics the CIA had roped
in from all over the world to fight Americas jihad against the Soviet invaders
in Afghanistan had turned rogue once it abandoned them after the Soviet
retreat and how they spread out globally to wage terrorism. It is those jihadi
veterans of the Afghan jihad who in fact are presently spearheading the alQaeda networking worldwide. The western powers indeed would do well to
step back and let the African Union (AU) work for a negotiated peace to the
Libyan imbroglio. This African grouping had brought up a peace formula,
which Qadhafi had accepted but the rebels had rejected deeming it too
favourable to him. The western powers must pull their full weight behind the
AU peace foray to help it reach out a settlement mutually acceptable to both
the Libyan partisans. Their own game is deeply fraught and dangerous.
Editorial, Frontier Post (Peshawar), April 25, 2011,

Arabs Rise for Change


Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's tight grip over his country once made even
the suggestion of a revolution seem impossible, but the steadily growing antiregime protests have begun to echo those in other parts of the Arab world.
On Friday, 7,000 anti-government protesters took to the streets of the
cities of Homs, Aleppo, Deir al-Zor and Daraa, as well as the capital,
Damascus, where demonstrators gathered at the famous Umayyad Mosque in
the old city.
It was the first large-scale demonstration of its kind, as the uprisings and
unrest that spread from Tunisia to Egypt to Bahrain and Libya appear to have
reached Syria, one of the most tightly controlled societies in the Middle East.
They chanted "Freedom Freedom," "God Is Great," "No To
Corruption" and "Peaceful, Peaceful." At least five demonstrators were killed
in clashes with police in Daraa on Friday, witnesses said, with dozens more
On Saturday, the mourners chanted, "We want freedom," as tribes in
Daraa warned of violence if security troops were not withdrawn.
The government-controlled media has kept a tight lid on the widening
protests, which have become a daily occurrence in Damascus, Aleppo and
Daraa since Monday. But witness accounts and videos posted on Syrian
opposition websites and Facebook tell another story.
In a rare interview in January, Assad told the Wall Street Journal that the
popular revolts in the Arab world were ushering in a "new era" in the Middle
"If you didn't see the need of reform before what happened in Egypt
and Tunisia, it's too late," Assad said, acknowledging that Arab leaders needed
to do more to make room for their people's rising aspirations. But he also
questioned whether this was "going to be a new era toward more chaos or
more institutionalisation? The end is not clear yet."
Assad, 45, and his late father, Hafez al-Assad, have run Syria for nearly
40 years. In the interview, he said Syria was stable, and that his people would
give the government more time to implement reforms.
But he acknowledged that political reform in Syria hadn't moved
forward as quickly as he had thought after coming to power in 1999. Syria has
a draconian emergency law that allows for arrest without charge, a one-party
political system and a government- controlled media.
Syrian opposition figures and human rights activists critical of the
regime have long been targeted by security forces, jailed and tortured. Dozens


IPRI Factfile

of activists have been arrested at anti-government rallies this year. Criticising

the regime or calling for greater freedoms and human rights can result in
lengthy prison sentences in Syria. According to witnesses in Damascus, the
government is using security forces and army troops to disperse the protesters.
"They even used helicopters on Friday in Daraa to drop security troops
and army personal near the protesters in a show of force," one opposition
source, who requested anonymity, told dpa in Beirut.
He said that witnesses who were present at the demonstration in Daraa
on Friday told him that "they saw at least four bodies (of protesters) lying on
the streets." The protesters have so far not been calling for overthrowing the
regime of Assad family, but instead are focusing on demanding "freedom,"
and that "the Syrian people do not like to live as oppressed."
The opposition source said the Syrian government was swift on Friday
in issuing an official statement for the first time to justify to the world the
force used against the demonstrators.
"People set cars and shops on fire, which obliged security forces to
intervene in order to protect citizens and property," the source quoted the
statement as saying. Despite strict government control, the opposition has
begun to find its voice, the source said. "Facebook has been used and will
continue to rally the masses," he said.
Weedah Hamzah, Business Recorder (Islamabad), March 21, 2011,




President Bashar al-Assad accepted the resignation of the Syrian cabinet a

couple of days ago in an attempt to defuse protests against his rule as
hundreds of thousands of people attended pro-government rallies in most of
the countrys cities.
Syrians were awaiting a speech by President Assad, who has remained
silent during the 11-day crisis, laying out reforms including the lifting of the
50-year-old state of emergency.
Protesters will want to see a real reduction in the arbitrary power of the
security forces and guarantees of greater political and civil rights.
The president has a core of support and many Syrians are fearful of
sectarian divisions turning to violence. But the turnout for March 29th
demonstrations, dubbed loyalty to the nation marches where marchers
chanted the people want Bashar Assad was enhanced by schools and other
state institutions being closed for the day.
The resignation of the cabinet is largely symbolic since it holds little
power, which remains in the hands of the president, his relatives and senior

Arabs Rise for Change


officials in the intelligence apparatus. Naji al-Otari, the prime minister since
2003, is to remain caretaker until a new government is formed.
The government still appears divided on how it is going to respond to
the unprecedented unrest which has so far led to at least 61 protesters being
killed, mostly in and around the southern city of Deraa.
There has also been violence in the port city of Latakia on the
Mediterranean coast, where the population is divided between the Sunni and
the Alawites, the minority Shia sect to which the Assad family and other
members of the ruling elite belong.
Troops are patrolling streets in the centre of the city while unofficial
vigilantes have set up barricades in the outskirts.
In Deraa people are increasingly calling for a change of regime, but it is
highly unlikely that the state security apparatus will allow its power to be
diluted significantly. President Assad, a 45-year-old.
British-educated doctor, was seen as a possible reformer when he
succeeded his father, President Hafez al-Assad on his death in 2000. But the
changes he introduced were largely cosmetic and those who took advantage of
the more liberal atmosphere to criticise the regime later found themselves
The Syrian authorities have a long tradition of refusing to make
concessions and fighting back vigorously against all opponents.
So far this strategy has enabled them to withstand pressure from the US
and Israel in Lebanon and to crush domestic opposition movements, such as
guerrilla war by fundamentalists in the early 1980s and serious unrest among
the Kurdish community in 2004.
In trying to seize the initiative from the protesters the regime is
emphasising Syrian nationalism and a plot against the unity of the country.
Breaking News: the conspiracy has failed! declared one banner waved by a
demonstrator at a vast rally in Damascus.
In addition there were the more traditional chants of God, Syria and
Bashar. In Deraa protesters changed this to a chant of God, Syria and
The government is also clamping down on the foreign media, expelling
three Reuters journalists.
In all Arab countries affected by the pro-democracy protests
governments have struggled to gain control of information and modern
Patrick Cockburn, News International (Islamabad), April 4, 2011,


IPRI Factfile




The turmoil in Syria is not getting the attention it deserves from the world
media despite the rising death toll there. Libya`s civil war and the deteriorating
situation in Yemen have overshadowed the gravity of the Syrian scene. Since
March 18, when the pro-democracy protesters took to the streets, more than
200 people have been killed. There may not yet be bloodletting of Libyan
proportions, but the Baathist regime has been no less ruthless, with
government partisans and policemen firing from rooftops on unarmed civilian
protesters. The Syria chapter of the Baathist regime has been in power now for
five decades, and it has survived because it has perpetuated itself by means
more ruthless than those employed by the Iraq party, which collapsed in April
2003 because of the US-led invasion. Let there be no mistake Bashar alAssad can prove more cruel than Muammar Qadhafi.
Syria`s strategic position and the fact that it is considered Israel`s most
implacable enemy rule out either a full-fledged foreign invasion or a UNauthorised Nato intervention of the kind in Libya. The Nato strikes are already
controversial, with the Arab League criticising the Atlantic alliance`s air
missions, having itself earlier called for imposing a no-fly zone. An
intervention of that kind in Syria would be enormously risky, open to
misgivings as to its motives and considered by most Arab and Muslim people
as being done for Israel`s benefit. This could serve to strengthen the Baathist
regime and help it crush the pro-democracy protesters by branding them as
foreign agents. In fact, the regime is already labelling them as such. This is
perhaps why the Arab League has maintained a discreet silence on the Syrian
situation. It is now time for President Assad to wake up. Force failed to save
Ben Ali and Hosni Mubarak, and Yemen`s President Ali Saleh appears
desperate now. The least the Syrian president can do is to implement the
promised reforms, including the lifting of the 1963 emergency. Failing to
concede something to the democracy activists will only lead to more
bloodshed and make his own position more vulnerable.
Editorial, Dawn (Islamabad), April 13, 2011,

Arabs Rise for Change





Many people in the Arab world hope that the revolt in Tunisia will become a
genuine democratic revolution that inspires people in other Arab countries to
do the same. Other people, notably most of the existing regimes in the Arab
world and their foreign allies, hope fervently that it will not. But the current
situation is certainly fraught with possibilities.
It is not yet clear whether the street demonstrations that drove the
Tunisian dictator, Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali, into exile after 23 years in power
will lead to a genuine democracy. The prime minister he left behind,
Mohammed Ghannouchi, is promising free elections soon, but it`s still the old
regime, minus its leader, that is making the promises. This was a spontaneous
uprising, an outburst of sheer exasperation with the corruption and
incompetence of the Ben Ali regime. The rebels have no plan for what
happens next, and several hundred thousand people with guns and good
communications facilities have a lot to lose if the old regime just vanishes.
On the other hand, miracles sometimes do happen. The East German
Communist regime in 1989, after 44 years in power, controlled not only the
army but also a well-armed Communist militia several hundred thousand
strong. Yet when the Berlin Wall came down, they just decided not to start
killing their own people. No matter how loyal they were to Communist ideals,
they understood that their time was up.
Many of those who served Ben Ali`s dictatorship will not want to start
killing their own people on a large scale either, and no ideology underpinned
the Tunisian regime. Those who gave it their loyalty did so only out of selfinterest, and their perception of where their interests lie could change quite
fast. So the question arises: if the Tunisian revolt turns into a real democratic
revolution, could its example spread?
The neighbours certainly think so. Muammar Gaddafi, Libya`s ruler for
the past 41 years, said at Ben Ali`s fall. You (Tunisians) have suffered a great
loss, he said in a speech broadcast on Libyan state television. There is none
better than Zine (Ben Ali) to govern Tunisia.
Tunisia`s neighbour to the west, Algeria, is even more vulnerable to
popular revolt than Libya. The president, Abdelaziz Bouteflika, has only been
in office since 1999, but he was put there by the army, whose senior generals
have really run the country from behind the scenes since the mid-1960s.
Algerians have already begun demonstrating publicly against the high price of
food, and the regime`s response has already turned violent.
The social and economic conditions that made Tunisia such a tinderbox
also prevail in many other Arab countries: widespread poverty, huge


IPRI Factfile

unemployment (about 30 percent of the under-30s in Tunisia, and even higher

among those with a post-secondary education), and great popular anger
(usually carefully hidden) at the brutal authoritarianism and endemic
corruption of the regimes.
The strict censorship of news that has always been standard practice for
the more repressive Arab regimes has been subverted by new media, from alJazeera to the internet. Everybody who wants change has seen how easy it was
for the Tunisians to make it happen, and they may want to try it themselves.
Egypt, Syria, Morocco in fact, almost all the Arab countries except
the oil-rich Gulf states are potentially vulnerable to a Tunisian-style revolt.
Not all or even most of them are likely to have one, nor will every attempted
revolt succeed: some of the regimes are much more capable of using massive
force than Ben Ali`s ramshackle dictatorship. But some revolts may succeed.
So the big question is: what would the successor regimes look like? In
Tunisia, if all goes well, it could be a secular democracy, but in many other
places a strict Islamic regime would be a much likelier outcome. The old leftist
and secular liberal parties, beaten and bribed into submission, have long since
lost credibility in most Arab countries. Only the Islamic parties have not been
There are as many flavours of Islamic politics as there are of ice cream.
Some are retrograde and hostile to all opinions other than their own; others
are as open and reasonable as the Christian Democratic parties of Europe.
In the coming years we may well have the opportunity to observe all of those
varieties in action.
Assuming that all or much of this comes to pass, the most important
thing that non-Arabs can do, especially in the West, is not to panick. Knee-jerk
assumptions that such regimes would be implacably hostile to non-Muslims
would operate as self-fulfilling prophecies, but it ain`t necessarily so.
Gwynne Dyer, Dawn (Islamabad), January 18, 2011,


Will the ripples from Tunisia reach the shores of Pakistan? The not-so-quiet
revolution in that country toppled the 23-year-old regime of President Zine El
Abidine Ben Ali and has caused other long-ruling elites of the Arab world to
quake in their well-worn seats.
Roula Khalaf of the Financial Times nicely summed up the situation in
Tunisia before the fall of the Ben Ali government. We`ve become
accustomed to an Arab order where the young people, the vast majority of the
population, are unhappy with their rulers but too apathetic to rise up for
change. They grumble about the dearth of jobs, the difficulty of marrying and

Arabs Rise for Change


starting a family but they sit back and wait for better days. They rarely bother
to vote since they know that the elections are always rigged. But this time
around they did not wait. They came out on the street and challenged the
established order. Ultimately the street won.
There is broad consensus among commentators who write for the
western press that other parts of the Arab world cannot remain untouched by
the events in Tunisia. There are many Arab countries where ossified,
autocratic and immensely corrupt governments have long been in place.
Protected by the security establishment that also benefits from regime
longevity, the governments were able to ignore the wishes of the masses.
That may not be that easy anymore. The Tunisian youth by daring
the government and the security establishment succeeded in bringing about
change that few thought was possible. The young have shown that they can
force those who rule to take note of their problems. Since, thanks to the
internet, the flow of information cannot be constrained (Arab youth,
particularly in Egypt and Saudi Arabia are among the most enthusiastic
internet users) events in North Africa will be noticed and parallels will be
In spite of all the palpable anger and frustration felt by the citizenry in
Pakistan because of their economic plight, it is unlikely that a Tunisian-type of
upheaval could take place in the country. There are more differences than
parallels between the two nations.
The Tunisians had suffered politically but not that much economically.
The regime was supported by a small coterie that had security forces not
linked with the military to protect the regime and the established order. If the
Tunisian revolution does have an effect it will be because of the way it has
influenced thinking in Washington about political and social reform in the
Muslim world.
Pakistan has to be especially responsive to what Washington would like
to see in Arab and Muslim countries in terms of political and social
development. What the Obama administration tells Pakistani leaders will be of
greater consequence than what happens on the streets of Tunis. A troubled
relationship with the IMF means that Islamabad would like to see the United
States loosen its purse strings and allow a larger flow of resources already
committed under the Kerry-Lugar Act of 2009.
There is much more money locked in that initiative than is due from the
IMF. Pakistan would wish some of that money to become available in the
form of budgetary support. The Americans are more interested in providing it
to finance projects. Washington is in a position to lay down conditions for its
support. They are more likely to be of political rather than economic nature.
Even the senior leadership of the United States a country that has
played its part in preserving autocratic regimes in the Arab world since they
were easier to work with has taken note of the change in sentiment in that


IPRI Factfile

part of the world. US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton barnstormed through

five Gulf capitals in four days in early January, holding town hall style
meetings, conferences and media interviews in which she pressed the
establishment to take note of what was happening around them and
accommodate change.
In a meeting in Doha, the Qatari capital, she bluntly criticised the
region`s leaders for tolerating corrupt institutions and stagnant political
order. According to one newspaper report, her message was enthusiastically
received by thousands of Arabs from Yemen`s crowded, rubble-strewn
capital of Sana to the dazzlingly modern metropolises of Dubai and Doha.
Yet the week also brought fresh reminders of how democratisation of Middle
Eastern societies has worked against US interests in the region. Those who
cling to the status quo may be able to hold back the impact of their countries`
problems for a little while but not for ever, Secretary Clinton told her
Her speech was given before the Tunisian president went into exile. If
leaders don`t offer a positive vision and young people meaningful ways to
contribute, others will fill the vacuum, she continued. Her reference was
obviously to the rise of extremist Islamic parties in some of the Arab countries
that were persuaded to hold free elections.
The week brought the fall of the government of Prime Minister Saad
Hariri in Lebanon when Hezbollah, the Islamic party supported by Iran and
Syria, pulled out of the coalition. In the Gaza strip Hamas, another Islamic
group, increased its operations against Israel. Both Hezbollah and Hamas had
gained power as a result of the elections promoted by the George W. Bush
administration as a way of delivering greater democratic freedoms.
In her swing through the Arab world Ms Clinton pushed in particular
the promotion of civil society. She advocated the use of these organisations to
counter corruption which she labelled a cancer. If this is the direction of the
American thrust in Pakistan, it may lead towards better governance and a real
democratic order.
Shahid Javed Burki, Dawn (Islamabad), January 25, 2011,

Arabs Rise for Change


Monday's killing of over 15 anti-government protesters in the Yemeni city of
Taiz, allegedly at the hands of security forces and Republican Guards, is a
dangerous turnaround in the two-month-long confrontation between
President Ali Abdullah Saleh and the opposition, which is calling for his
immediate abdication.
Protesters in Sanaa, Al Hudaida and others have also been attacked
bringing the total of those injured in the past few days to over 1,000.
More than 45 people were gunned down last month (March 18), when
government forces opened fire at protesters gathering in a square in front of
Sanaa University. Taghair (Change) Square has become the center of rebellion
against the rule of Saleh and has been attracting hundreds of thousands of
demonstrators from all over the country. Inspired by the recent uprisings in
Tunisia and Egypt, Yemenis have been staging a sit-in in that square
demanding the president's departure. Similar protests have been taking place
across the country, including Aden, capital of southern Yemen and a
stronghold for separatists. In addition, anti-government forces have taken
control of other towns and hamlets, while senior army generals, once loyal to
the president, have since defected and joined the protesters.
The president, on the other hand, has been defiant. Unlike in Egypt and
Tunisia, Saleh has been able to summon hundreds of thousands of supporters
to his side. It is difficult to figure out who has the majority, but in recent
weeks pro-Saleh rallies have been held only on Fridays and were restricted to
the capital.
Yemen's model is different from that of Tunisia and Egypt. It is also
unlike the Libyan example. But as opponents continue to gather momentum,
Saleh is quickly losing his options. The resort to violence to quell
demonstrators pushes the country into a dark tunnel. So far the demonstrators
have kept their rallies peaceful. Only the regime has used force to disperse and
intimidate the opposition. A political impasse could turn things around for the
worse. Saleh, who has ruled Yemen for 32 years, has made a number of
initiatives since the rallies began last February. He has ended speculations
about handing over power to his son and accepted to limit his term until
presidential elections are held before the end of the year. But the Joint Meeting
Parties (JMP), a coalition of opposition parties, has rejected such offers,
insisting instead on the president's immediate resignation. And in spite of
defections from the ruling party, General Peoples Congress (GPC), and a
flurry of political resignations, Saleh has remained steadfast. Earlier this week
the JMP made an offer suggesting that the president hand over power


IPRI Factfile

immediately to his deputy who in turn will oversee a transitional government

that will hold new elections.
The offer may be rescinded after Monday's bloody events. But it could
still prove to be an acceptable compromise in light of signs that the US, the
regime's closest foreign ally, may be distancing itself from Saleh. On Monday
the New York Times reported that the Obama administration may be moving
away from the Yemeni president, saying that he is incapable of carrying
reforms and that he is becoming a liability instead of an asset.
The US position is paramount. Saleh has been portrayed as a key ally in the
fight against Al-Qaeda, which is believed to have bases in Yemen. The US has
been given access to target suspected Al-Qaeda operatives in remote areas of
the country. Saleh's domestic challenges have proved to be bigger than
originally thought. The US, and others, would like to see a peaceful transition
of power in Yemen in a way that will not play to the benefit of Al-Qaeda.
As Saleh loses military and tribal backing, Washington and Yemen's neighbors
are worried that chaos could take over. JMP's latest deal may prove the best
way out of the current ordeal, but only if the president accepts it.
Yemen, a country of over 23 million inhabitants, is not easy to govern. This
mountainous and rugged country in southern Arabia is beleaguered by
economic and social challenges. An uprising of the Houthis in the north,
which had claimed hundreds of lives and dispersed thousands, could easily
reignite, while southern separatists continue to promote secessionist
aspirations. A power vacuum could herald civil strife and a break-up of the
country. Worse there are those in the West who warn that Yemen is close to
becoming another Somalia where Al-Qaeda will emerge as the biggest
There is a need for a political deal in Yemen if such scenarios are to be
avoided. Violence against protesters is not the solution. The president must
consider a political way out if he is to save the country from turmoil. Saleh has
accepted, in principle, to step down before the end of the year. The opposition
must take this into consideration as it attempts to meet its goals.
Osama Al Sharif, Bangladesh Today, April 8, 2011,




Of all the Arab uprisings the one in Yemen will be the most complicated and
difficult to resolve. Just about every factor is involved. Its part tribal,
religious/sectarian, political, economic, military and generational. The revolt is
not exclusively about democracy even though it does involve a yearning for
freedom. Of course, the selfishness of one man, his family and the fact the
goodies the state has to offer only benefit his coterie offends many. But

Arabs Rise for Change


whether under the Ottomans, imams or presidents it has always been like that
in Yemen, the land of incense, myrrh and spices. The spices came from
Ceylon (Sri Lanka) and India to which the sea faring Yemenis had discovered a
passage much before Vasco de Gama. But, wanting to keep it a secret, they
claimed the provenance of these much sought after items was Yemen itself.
Developments in Yemen, the dark hole of Arabia, have seldom
bothered the outside world. Yemen is a backwater state; it has no oil or at least
none that is left; very little money to buy anything; and absolutely nothing of
value to export. In many respects Yemen is like what Afghanistan used to be,
so far off the beaten track, so inhospitable the terrain and so fractious a people
that in times of peace nobody really bothered about what happened there. But
just as Afghanistan when in ferment aroused concern in the capitals of empires
so does instability in Yemen in the Arab world. And just as Afghanistan is the
gateway to the sub continent so is Yemen to Saudi Arabia through its soft
underbelly in the south.
No wonder then turbulence in Yemen has the senior most geriatrics of
the ruling Saudi family Abdullah, Sultan and Naif riveted and
apprehensive. Yemen is their backyard. Collectively and individually they are
deeply concerned by what is happening. Each has his own favourites among
Yemens leaders and tribes; and each also has his own opinion of how to deal
with Yemen, and these differ considerably. Naif and Sultan, for example, have
little time for Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh. King Abdullah, on the
other hand, has a good working relationship with him. But what all find
insufferable is the endemic hostility of the ordinary Yemeni and his traditional
contempt for Saudis.
Yemenis look down on their Saudi neighbours and their unsophisticated
desert culture. They believe Yemen is the cradle of Arab civilisation and the
birthplace of the Arabic language. They proudly claim Yemen to be the first
country to convert to Islam and allude to a mosque in Sana whose
construction Hazrat Ali reportedly supervised. Hence, they have little time for
Saudi pretensions about being the font of Islam.
To complicate the situation they consider their neighbours effete, lazy,
even cowardly and insufferably conceited. The al Houthi tribe of the (Shia)
Zaidi sect have incessantly raided Saudi territories. Their links with the shias in
the southern Saudi provinces of Najran and Jizan are strong and were they to
emerge more powerful as a result of the current unrest in Yemen this would
embolden the shia in Saudi Arabias oil rich Eastern Province bordering
Bahrain to step up their agitation against Riyadh, backed possibly by Iran. Such
a scenario deeply worries the Saudis as it would threaten Saudi Arabia and
provide the use of Yemen as a base for staging attacks on the Kingdom. To
make matters worse, armour and sophisticated Saudi weaponry is useless in
the mountainous terrain of north Yemen where the al Houthis, like the
Taliban, are masters of mountainous guerrilla warfare.


IPRI Factfile

Needless to say, not all tribes which are members of the Hasid and Bakil
confederation of tribes of north Yemen feel the same. The influential al
Ahmer clan of the Hashid tribe is staunchly pro Saudi. However, most other
clans and tribes, especially those of south Yemen, are at best indifferent; and it
is only a small step from indifference to outright hostility.
Latest reports suggest Saleh, seeing the writing on the wall, is prepared
to quit. Washington has belatedly come to the same conclusion and has
conveyed to Saleh that he is no longer a part of a solution. The two Saudi
princes and the king also seem to have finally concluded Salehs ship wrecked
presidency is beyond salvaging. But all of them and especially the Americans
are understandably apprehensive as to what will happen and who will follow
Saleh wants to be succeeded by his vice president who is a nonentity
and an acolyte, but to the protestors anyone associated with the Saleh regime is
unacceptable. Jihadists, Islamists and conservative tribesmen, who prevailed in
the civil war against Marxist south Yemen, feel power should rightly devolve
on them and specifically Salehs brother- in- law, Mohsen al Ahmar, under
whose command they fought and who has deserted Saleh. However, according
to one American sponsored publication, the US feels otherwise. It lays the
blame for the largely unsuccessful US backed counter terrorist campaign
against al Qaeda in Yemen on their inclusion in the security apparatus.
Hamid al Ahmar, a Saudi backed candidate from the influential Al
Ahmer clan has trumpeted his Saudi connections and proffered it as a reason
to succeed Saleh. But he is hardly the ideal successor being considered too
much of a Saudi pawn; nor does he speak for the other tribes.
As confabulations continue paranoia about al Qaeda rushing in to fill
the vacuum in Yemen deepens in Washington. The International Herald
Tribune reports that the anti al Qeada operations have ground to a halt in the
wake of the political tumult. It also quotes a US expert on Yemen as saying
the narrow focus on combating al Qaeda through military operations overseen
by the Saleh family has had the disadvantage of tying the US counter
terrorism effort to one family.
Speculation abounds that Yemen will again break up following Salehs
departure. Southerners gained nothing from unity and memories subsist of the
bitter civil war in which they were defeated by the north. A fairly strong
southern secessionist movement is gaining traction. The more educated and
secular Marxist south have little respect for their unsophisticated northern
tribal brethren.
The stakes are high for the Saudis and the Americans and with all the
fluidity still in the Middle East, the Yemeni situation acquires acute
importance, not least because of the al Qaeda aspect and Yemens strategic
location in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden which puts it in close proximity to

Arabs Rise for Change


the Suez Canal, the Horn of Africa and also underscores Yemens strategic
importance in the wider Indian Ocean context.
Why does the fast changing scenario in Yemen affect Pakistan? Because
of the possibility our Saudi nexus will be exploited by Riyadh to summon our
help if the tumult in Yemen leads to a war in which Saudi Arabia feels it must
intervene. Defending Saudi Arabia against unprovoked aggression is one thing
and perhaps even an honourable step, but helping the Kingdom to assert
control over the territory of a neighbouring state is quite another. In the past
our forces stationed in Saudi Arabia came close to being asked to play such a
role, today it must surely be out of the question both for external and internal
Zafar Hilaly, News International (Rawalpindi), April 9, 2011,


IPRI Factfile




One can understand the agony of Pakistanis stranded in Libya. Unlike the stir
in Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen and Bahrain, the revolt in Muammar Qadhafis
fiefdom has assumed the shape of a civil war, raising the reported casualty toll
to over 2,000. No wonder, Pakistanis like other foreigners in the oil-rich
country, are desperate to get out. At present, they are stranded on borders with
Egypt and Tunisia, and it is obvious that the neighbouring countries have not
opened their gates to them. Britain has evacuated almost all its nationals, while
India has rescued 500 of its citizens and has sent three warships to pull out the
remaining expatriates who will be taken to Alexandria and then flown home.
There are 18,000 Pakistanis in Libya, but the task force set up by the
Foreign Office on President Zardaris directive has not yet swung into action.
Pakistanis are in a different category, for many of them have been in Libya for
a long time and do not want to leave. But a large number of them are,
nevertheless, desperate to get out, and, more unfortunately, their passports are
with their employers. There are reports that the embassy in Cairo will give
them emergency documents, but that will probably take some time. Turkey has
offered cooperation, and the embassy in Ankara will serve as headquarters of
the rescue operations. However, the plans that Turkish ships will evacuate the
stranded Pakistanis for onward flight home have not yet been put into effect.
The government must act quickly, because a return to normality in Libya
doesnt appear in sight, and the condition of the Pakistanis there can worsen.
Food supplies in Libyan cities are running out, and foreigners reaching their
countries say they were looted on the way to the airport and were lucky to
Editorial, Dawn (Islamabad), March 1, 2011,

A news report makes shocking revelation of the covertly hiring of Pakistanis
to be used by despotic rulers of certain Gulf states against the uprising of their
own people demanding the minimum basic inalienable democratic rights that
their regimes are denying for decades. Bahrain and Yemen have particularly
been mentioned as hiring Pakistanis for their reprehensible objective and their
agents are already in Pakistan recruiting security guards on attractive wages.
Contractors from Bahrain and other Gulf state are here for quite some time
with a target of recruiting some 10,000 security guards. They have advertised
in the media and are doing the job openly but the government, the only

Arabs Rise for Change


authority which could have come to know their covert design, is totally
indifferent to a scam that would have convulsed Pakistan and international
community. Its ministries for Foreign Affairs and Interior have failed to issue
policy guidelines over hiring Pakistanis, mostly retired army men who are
illiterate and poor, to open fire over tens of thousands of democracy loving
citizens of Gulf countries rising to secure their fundamental rights. Media
reports suggest that contractors from Gulf state were engaging themselves in
recruiting countries without any official permission from the Ministry for
Interior and Ministry for Foreign Affairs to push thousands of Pakistani
nationals into as paid killers. Another aspect, rather despicable part, of the
story is that contractors are attaching importance to the sectarian belief of the
candidates which were being strictly followed and only those were being
confirmed in job who have sectarian belief other than the protestors in their
countries believing that the mercenaries of the same sect would not kill
protestors in the Gulf states where royal regimes are curbing the uprising by
use of brutal force. Last week a Bahraini contractor conducted interviews of
the candidates in Bahria Town in Islamabad and rejected a number of
candidates on the basis of their sect. This discrimination followed staging of a
protest demonstration. It is pertinent to mention that despite anger among
Afghan public sentiment against Pakistan, hundreds of Pakistanis were hired
by the Afghan contractors under the cover of reconstruction and rehabilitation
and a number of them had to fight along the Afghan and NATO soldiers and
lost their lives there. Needless to say what is the role of Pakistani authorities
and how far they have met the national obligation in regard to the covert
recruitment of mercenaries? It is also no secret that an overwhelming majority
of the people of Pakistan are democracy loving and foster an anti-US
sentiment in its campaign in Afghanistan and they also support the popular
uprising against the monarchs and dictators in the Middle East. Recruitment of
Pakistanis for overseas employment is also under a legal discipline and
transparency. The government inaction on laying hand on this covert
recruitment is criminal, immoral and even un-Islamic.
Editorial, Frontier Post (Peshawar), March 18, 2011,

While the situation faced by the large Pakistani community in Bahrain, where
one Pakistani national has been killed by protesters and another four have
been injured, draws attention to the risks faced by persons living overseas. It
also brings into focus the role of our missions in other countries. Following
the targeting of Pakistanis in Manama by youth angered by the role of riot
police which includes personnel from Pakistan and allegations of the use of


IPRI Factfile

excessive force by them, expatriates have been gathering outside their embassy
seeking protection. While discussions have reportedly been held on how to
offer this, the Foreign Office spokesperson in Islamabad has said there are no
immediate plans to bring Pakistanis home. A mass airlift out of Bahrain may
not be necessary at this stage, but we hope the situation is being closely
monitored and that preparations are being made to rescue Pakistanis should
the situation grow more volatile. It is a matter of concern that, in the very
recent past, this has not happened in other places where nationals found
themselves in peril. Pakistanis caught up in the terrifying violence in Libya
were first brought out aboard a Turkish Airlines flight. Those trapped in
Tripoli and other places stated they had received no assistance from the
Pakistan Embassy. Similar complaints have been made by those who recently
returned home after the earthquake in Japan, with the Pakistani mission in
Tokyo apparently doing little to help them even though our diplomats based
in that country must have been aware of the sheer horror of the situation
considering that Japan was struck by one of the worst natural disasters in living
Our Foreign Office and our political leadership need to review the role
of missions overseas. After all, staff is not posted to these embassies and high
commissions simply to enjoy the pleasures of life in far-off lands. One of its
principal roles is to assist Pakistanis based there. Yet we have heard repeatedly
of failures to even visit those in jails or take any measures to help those in
distress. The recent complaints of indifference that have poured in, both from
the Middle East and elsewhere, must not be ignored. There is quite evidently
something amiss with the working of our missions. Steps need to be taken to
correct this and ensure Pakistanis in danger in foreign countries are not left to
fend entirely for themselves. This is all the more true given that many
Pakistani expatriates are poorly educated and lack the capacity to determine
how to safeguard themselves in a violent or otherwise dangerous situation.
Editorial, News International (Rawalpindi), March 18, 2011,




Is it advisable to continue to recruit Pakistanis for Bahrain`s security forces at

a time when the anti-monarchy stir shows no sign of abating? Pakistanis have
been working in oil-rich Arab countries for decades, contributing to the host
countries` development and sending billions in foreign exchange back home.
This helps ease pressure on the acute unemployment position at home, with
Pakistanis abroad working in diverse positions from unskilled labourers to
white-collar workers. However, the situation in Manama warrants a serious

Arabs Rise for Change


review of our recruitment policies because of the hatred towards Pakistanis

serving in the Bahrain police. So far enraged mobs have killed four Pakistanis,
two of them policemen, who were lynched in Pearl Square by angry protesters.
The latter continued to kick and mutilate their bodies long after the Pakistanis
were dead.
The mob`s hostility towards the Pakistani policemen is understandable,
considering that they are part of the force that is crushing the people`s desire
for freedom. Because the Bahraini people want their rights as citizens, their
fury would naturally turn on anyone helping an authoritarian regime.
Conflicting reports say Pakistani homes have been marked as targets for future
attacks, imperilling the lives of thous- ands of Pakistani men, women and
children. Yet the Bahria and Fauji foundations continue to seek recruits for the
Bahrain National Guards. Islamabad must realise the damage the continued
recruitment is doing to Pakistan`s image in Bahrain and other Gulf countries
at a time when an anti-establishment wave is rocking the Arab world from the
Gulf to the Atlantic. It is true that the recruitment drive has been in place for
long and is not specific to the current situation. Nevertheless, Pakistanis`
continued recruitment to a coercive apparatus would appear to the people of
Bahrain as a callous disregard for their struggle for freedom.
Editorial, Dawn (Islamabad), March 22, 2011,


It is perhaps for the first time that a senior government official directly
concerned with foreign affairs has publicly acknowledged that the on-going
unrest in the Arab region might affect Pakistan. The statement of Foreign
Secretary Salman Bashir before Senate Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs
about the crisis and its possible impact on Pakistan should lead to deeper
analysis of the situation so that the country adopts a strategy that suits its
national interests and that of the Islamic Ummah.
The remarks of the Foreign Secretary were, however, somewhat vague
and ambiguous, as he did not explain as to what impact these developments
would have on Pakistan and how his ministry plans to respond. Similarly,
though he described the UN Security Council resolution authorizing use of
force against Libya as a sign of alarm but again he did not elaborate and failed
to mention whether or not the Foreign Office has any plans to coordinate with
Muslim and especially like-minded vulnerable countries to come out with a
united stance on the emerging threat. Any how, we agree with Salman Bashir
that the UN resolution on Libya is alarming, as this could serve as a precedent,
and already French President Nicolas Sarkozi has hinted at that, for similar
action against other small and weaker states. Though China and Russia


IPRI Factfile

abstained and in a way extended tacit support to the move to launch an

aggression against a sovereign country but we are sure that they would not
allow colonial Western countries to invade and occupy independent states to
advance their nefarious economic and strategic interests and therefore, Islamic
and Third World countries should do effective lobbying with Moscow and
Beijing to stall such moves in future. As for impact on Pakistan, we are already
experiencing the negative fallout in the shape of return of thousands of
Overseas Pakistanis from troubled countries, who are sending valuable foreign
exchange back home. Some politicians are expressing optimism that the wave
of unrest that has engulfed the Arab and African region would not hit Pakistan
as situation here is quite different. No doubt, instead of dictatorship or family
rule, there is democracy in Pakistan and media and judiciary are independent,
giving voice to the people and safeguarding their rights but they must not
overlook the reality that the real factors leading towards unrest are almost
similar rising gap between haves and have-nots; lopsided development, skyrocketing prices, growing unemployment, corruption and police abuse. Overall
aspirations of the people remain the same and this growing realization could
give impetus to calls for revolution. Unfortunately, apart from Foreign Office,
we dont have think tanks and entities devoted exclusively for different regions
to study various developments and analyse their impact on Pakistan and its
interests. It is time we start doing so now as we cannot afford the luxury of
responding to a situation at the spur of the moment.
Editorial, Pakistan Observer (Islamabad), March 28, 2011,




Pakistan should not take the side of oppressive rulers in Arab countries facing
uprisings against their autocracy and despotic rule as ultimate victory would be
of people fighting for their rights. This was the gist of the discussion on
"Turmoil in the Arab Countries" arranged by the Strategic Technology
Resources (STR) of Dr Shireen M Mazari.
This becomes more important in view of the prevailing anger against
Pakistanis serving in anti-riot forces in Bahrain. The people of Pakistan in the
forces of Bahrain are now being seen by the locals as standing on the side of
oppressive rulers. Former Foreign Secretary and Minister of State for Finance
Inamul Haq underlined the need of cautious approach by Pakistan in response
to Mariana Babar, a senior journalist, personal account that how 22 years old
Pakistanis having 6.6 feet height are being vigorously searched and stalked by
the locals after first incident of killing probably of a protestor by a Pakistani
employed in security forces of Bahrain.

Arabs Rise for Change


Haq gave an overview of the causes of Middle East crisis, its impact on
the economy of the countries like Pakistan as well as double standard of super
powers, their allies and world bodies like United Nations Security Council. At
the same time, he said it remains to be seen whether ongoing uprising against
long oppressive regimes of the Arab world would result in a free pluralistic
and participatory democracy or would merely change the faces as has been
happening in Pakistan. In his view, the political parties in Pakistan have been
major hurdle in the way of revolution because they are dividing forces instead
of uniting the people. He said that no one was able to understand including
the US what was happening in the Middle East and about its outcome. He was
of the view that turmoil in the Arab countries may undermine the Palestine
issue and escalate Palestine-Israel conflict. Israel may not offer concession to
Palestine if turmoil in Arab countries continues.
Dr Haq said that seed of democracy was sowed by the Bush
Administration in Middle East which has now grown into a sapling and
threatening the autocratic and oppressive rulers who not only have siphoned
100 of millions of oil dollars and banked them into Western countries but also
denied human rights to the people. The revolt against oppression, cruelty and
violation of human rights, which started from Tunisia has spread to the entire
Arab region and may force the rulers out of power.
Sensing the critical situation, he said different countries have employed
different methods to quell the peaceful protestors. Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
not only employed two-pronged strategy, religious and economic, to deal with
the protestors but also sent troops to help rulers in Bahrain. The Arab crisis,
he said, exposed more vividly the double standard of US, West and
international organisations. The US turned a blind eye to crisis in Bahrain and
Yemen but took harsh measures against Libya. Haq said that Libya has been
on target because of oil and rich water resources. The France is keen to get
control on fresh water resources in Libya because its companies have been
dominating the water market.
Mariana Babar deplored that about six countries in the Middle East did
not have Pakistani ambassadors during the time of uprising and turmoil in
Arab to take care of the their people. She said that the government has not
taken care of Pakistanis living in Bahrain. In her opening remarks, Dr Shireen
Mazari said that normally STR focuses on nuclear briefings but decided that
the time has come now to talks about the turmoil in Arab world. She said that
the UN resolution 1973 has become irrelevant and France and Britain have
gone beyond it to support the anti-Qaddafi forces in Libya. She said that there
is a unholy alliance between the US and Gulf monarchs to oppress the
uprising in the Middle East.
Business Recorder (Islamabad), April 22, 2011,