All Articles Tagged "revolution"
Reports are coming in from Libya’s capital city of Tripoli that the Gaddafi regime is on its last legs. While some loyal government soldiers are defending Gaddafi’s compound from attacks among other scattered skirmishes, it is only a matter of time before power in the country completely changes hands. Aided by NATO air strikes and the intervention of America and France, rebel forces made a final push into the capital on Sunday after successfully seizing control of several other major cities over the past few months.
Egypt has already recognized the National Transitional Council — the seat of the rebel government — as Libya’s “new regime,” according to The New York Times. All the world is waiting for is the capture of Gaddafi himself to seal the end of his claim on Libya. According to The Washington Post, “[T]wo of Gaddafi’s sons, Saif al-Islam Gaddafi and Mohammed Gaddafi, are in the hands of the Libyan opposition” — and there are plans to try them for war crimes.
Despite this, rebel leaders will not consider their battle victorious until they capture the dictator himself. Gaddafi’s whereabouts remain unknown, although U.S. intelligence places him within Libyan borders.
It is not clear when Gaddafi will be captured, but Libyan communities around the world are already cheering the endgame of the freedom fighters. Emigres around the globe have total faith that the death blow is coming for Gaddafi’s 42-year reign. Aljazeera.net reports:
Celebrations have spilled over from Tripoli and Benghazi into cities around the world, as the Libyan diaspora gathered to celebrate the advance of opposition forces.
At least a hundred Libyans gathered outside the White House on Monday to celebrate the rebel’s assault on Tripoli, waving the country’s flag and chanting “Libya is free” and “Thank you, Obama”.
“Tonight for the first time in our lives we are very proud to be Libyan,” Rania Swadek, a 33-year-old Libyan-American, told the AFP news service. Swadek was waving a sign showing the red, black and green rebel flag with the words ”Thank you, NATO! Thank you, Obama!”
The mother of two, who arrived in the US in 1984 with her brothers and sisters after receiving political asylum, also had kind words for France, which was among the first countries to call for international intervention in Libya.
Back in the States, President Obama has also voiced his support for the advancing revolutionary troops, who claim to control 95% of the capital. “President Obama said Libya is ‘slipping from the grasp of a tyrant’ and called on Khadafy to step down in order to avoid more carnage,” according to a Daily News Report.
The president added that, “The future of Libya is now in the hands of the Libyan people,” and vowed to support the new regime.
(Wall Street Journal) — In the weeks since Egypt’s uprising, the television airwaves and Cairo’s streets have been filled with revolutionary slogans. ”Build your country!” shout billboards hovering over this city’s dense thoroughfares. “Develop your country!” urges another over smaller text demanding that Egyptians “Don’t stop!” But the signs aren’t the work of revolutionaries. They are advertisements for Snicker’s, the candy brand owned by Mars Inc., the U.S.-based confectioner. Since thousands of protesters ousted former President Hosni Mubarak in a nearly three-week revolt, the enthusiasm for revolution has been redirected and repackaged for television ads, billboards and jingles selling products including hair gel, soft drinks and candy. A television spot for Coca-Cola Co.’s Coke, which apes a similar Latin American commercial called “Sky,” shows hundreds of kids dressed in trendy clothes climbing to the tops of buildings in downtown Cairo. There, they lasso the sun, pull it out from behind menacing storm clouds and bask in the radiant glory that is the new Egypt. “Make tomorrow better!” the slogan implores.
We lost a legend. Songwriter, novelist, activist and poet Gil Scott-Heron passed away yesterday afternoon in New York Hospital. He was 62 years old. A master of spoken word, Scott-Heron spoke about issues of racism, poverty and social injustice, laying the groundwork for the socially conscious lyrics associated with true Hip Hop. Many have called him the godfather of the genre.
Born in Chicago in 1949, Scott-Heron was raised by his mother and grandmother in Jackson, Tennessee. He had an affinity for music and listened to the radio attempting to pick out harmonies so he could try and play them by ear. Later in college, Scott-Heron discovered the work of Langston Hughes. He wrote his most famous poem “The Revolution Will Not be Televised” in 1968 at the age of 19. By 23, he had published a book of poems, two novels and had recorded three albums.
Although he frequently delivered messages against drug use and the affects they have the community, Scott-Heron was arrested in 2001 for possession of cocaine and took a lengthy hiatus from the limelight until 2009 when he released his solo recording, “I’m New Here” at age 60.
To honor the man who did so much for our social awareness and music as we know it today, let’s look at some of Scott-Heron’s most memorable works.
Late last week, a reader, who was responding to a post I wrote on the North African revolutions, alerted me about an upcoming demonstration in Angola. The reader sent me a couple of links with a note attached: “…just something that might happen in the next few days in Africa.” One of the links was a story about a U.S. Aid ship that had been detained at port by local Angolan authorities for carrying a cache of military equipment, which hadn’t been listed on the ship’s manifest. The second link was of an Angolan hip-hop concert, where a young rapper appeared to be rallying the crowd for some event happening on March 7th.
Though it was unclear how these two links were related, what was evident was that the reader was trying to point me in the direction of something happening in Angola. So I did a little digging and found a blurb on a global activist forum about a planned anti-government demonstration in Angola, scheduled for March 7 & 8th. Within that blurb was another link to a Facebook page, called “A Revolução Do Povo Angolano,” or ‘The Revolution of Angola People.’
The Facebook page has a little more than 300 followers yet remains very active. I translated one of the many messages posted on the board using Google Translate, and found out that like many of the uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa, these youth—very much inspired by the youth in Tunisia and Egypt—are yearning for democracy.
This past Saturday, reports about peaceful pro-government rallies held in several cities in Angola began to hit the news. The rallies, which had been organized by the government, were meant to show support for the ruling party while downplaying “internet rumors” of a mass protest against President Jose Eduardo dos Santos, who has ruled for 31 years. But by Sunday, reports surfaced about government soldiers patrolling the Angolan capital and other cities, suggesting that perhaps the government was taking these rumors more seriously.
Like other countries in the Middle East and North Africa, Angola is a prime candidate for political and social unrest. Despite being a diamond and oil-rich nation, more than 75 percent of the nation’s population lives in abject poverty. Moreover, Angola is considered one of the most corrupt nations in Africa with numerous reports identifying the presidency of the Republic of Angola at the center of some very shady business deals.
However, many political analysts have suggested that most Angolans would be hesitant to protest due to the country’s long history of war. Moreover, many of the oppositional parties, including the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA), have publicly denied any connection to the demonstrations, suggesting that while they support the pro-democracy movement, they “shall not be present at this demonstration because we do not know who is organizing it.”
So if the main oppositions to the government had no hand in organizing the demonstrations, than who did?
When I first heard of the political unrest happening in Tunisia, I, like the rest of America, was enamored. The images of a bunch of average folks waving signs of democracy, chanting a chorus of ‘Yes We Can,’ and taking their own political destiny into their own hands all seemed so surreal.
Tunisia was then followed by Egypt, which also sent chills down my spine. What we were supposedly witnessing in Egypt was the textbook case of a revolution. And it’s easy to get caught up in the images of ordinary folks toppling the entrenched autocrats and corrupt governments.
But since Tunisia and Egypt, uprisings have now taken on a life of its own with similar demonstrations occurring throughout the Middle East and North Africa in countries such as Jordan, Libya, Morocco, Algeria, Yemen, Lebanon, Bahrain, and most recently, Libya.
That’s when I had to pause my celebration of the Jasmine Revolution and wonder, what the heck is really going on here?
You can say it’s my skeptical mind or a case of paranoia brought on by watching too many episodes of Jesse Ventura’s Conspiracy Theory, but all of this, all at once, and all in one particular region? Surely, I am not alone in my curiosity. So, for the purpose of exploring all options, I propose this question: Is it at all possible that a bunch of people inspired by one single event decided to just get up one day and demand their leaders to step down?
Most of these countries have little in common except for being in the same geographical region. In contrast to the Arab monarchies of Egypt, Bahrain and Morocco, countries such as Iran and Yemen both have free elections and their presidents do not rule for decades. Moreover, some of these countries, such as Egypt and Jordan, are largely modern and secular societies in comparison to the clerical caste of ayatollahs, who impose a theocratic dictatorship in other parts of the region.
Of course, the media has over-simplified the nature of these movements as being the people’s revolution brought on by a desire for democracy. However, none of these demonstrations and uprisings can be traced back to a single flagship issue.
In Tunisia, Ben Ali was ousted because of mass corruption within the government. The uprising in Egypt had a lot to do with rising unemployment and increased costs in food and energy. And in Bahrain, where it is divided unequally between Islamic denominations, the unrest there is between the Shiite Muslim majority and the Sunnis, who are the ruling class.
It’s easy to speculate that much of the unrest is rooted in attempts to destabilize the region for political and economic purposes. Saif al-Islam, son of Mummar Khadhafi, has gone on record to accuse foreigners and opposition groups that have ties to both the United States and Al-Qaeda of fomenting unrest in Libya. In the Daily Telegraph, it speculates that the U.S. government has secretly backed leading figures behind the Egyptian uprising, and has been planning a “regime change” for the past three years. In most of these cases, the White House—U.S. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton in particular—has been supporting the protests across the region.
However, there is no clear link to prove that the U.S. or any other group had a hand in any of the uprisings. Nor is there proof of how destabilization of the Middle East and North Africa region would greatly benefit the U.S. Government.
Perhaps this is just a peasant uprising, or maybe there are more orchestrated agendas occurring behind the scenes. Either way, it’s pretty clear that the Middle East and its people are heading for uncharted destinations that will take years to fully understand the implications. As the demonstrations and uprisings in both Bahrain and Libya turn deadly, and with the Jasmine Revolution now spreading to Iraq—a country with a government less than six months old—we in the Western world should watch carefully but resist taking sides too quickly because we really don’t have a clue as to what’s going on.
Charing Ball is the author of the blog People, Places & Things.
(The Guardian UK) – Is Equatorial Guinea next in line for a revolutionary overthrow of its corrupt leader? The playboy son of one of Africa’s most notorious dictators commissioned plans for a luxury superyacht costing $380m (£234m) – nearly three times his country’s combined health and education budgets, according to a corruption watchdog.
Teodorin Obiang, eldest son of Teodoro Obiang, the president of Equatorial Guinea, wanted to build the world’s second most expensive yacht after the Russian tycoon Roman Abramovich’s $1.2bn Eclipse, the campaign group Global Witness said. It condemned the plan as “outrageous extravagance” in a country where, despite vast oil wealth, 20% of children die before their fifth birthday and few people live beyond 50. The government of the tiny west African country confirmed that Obiang junior had ordered the yacht design, but said he had decided against going ahead with it. President Obiang has ruled for more than 30 years and been accused of grave human rights violations. Forbes magazine estimated his wealth at around $600m.
Moammar Gadhafi is one of the most infamous examples of how power breeds corruption. Having seized power of Libya 41 years ago, he’s come to represent one of the most contentious and peculiar characters on the world stage. He was a man who called for Arab Nationalism, African Unity and Libyan independence. Today, he is a dictator who would rather execute his country’s citizens rather than give up money and power.
At 27 years of age, Gadhafi took power of Libya having staged a coup d’état against the reigning King Idris in 1969. As an admirer of Che Guevara, the Colonel (the title he would claim for himself and retain) promoted the ideals of country free of Western involvement. His radical stance against the West attracted many other controversial leaders like Fidel Castro, who still supports the leader today. “Gadhafi has a long record of supporting anyone who opposes the West,” said Jordan Sekulow, director of policy and international affairs at the American Center for Law. “Castro fit the mold so naturally he supported him. For many years, there wasn’t an anti-Western leader or enemy of the U.S. that Gadhafi did not try to support.”
(Los Angeles Times) — The U.N. Security Council called an emergency meeting as Libya descended into further chaos Tuesday amid reports that Moammar Kadafi’s regime used warplanes, helicopter gunships and foreign mercenaries against mounting anti-government protests, witnesses and diplomats said. The Security Council was to meet in closed-door session in New York to discuss the crackdown against mostly unarmed opposition forces in and around Tripoli, the Libyan capital.
Libyan state TV said the mercurial strongman, who has ruled since 1969, would address his nation later Tuesday. Condemnation poured in from around the world, including from many of Libya’s own top diplomats. Libya’s ambassadors to the U.S., China, India and Malaysia resigned. The deputy ambassador to the U.N. denounced the attacks as genocide.
How important is social networking in your life? What does it mean to you? Are you so invested in Facebook, Twitter or Gchat that you’d name your firstborn after one of the sites? Well that’s exactly what one Egyptian man did.
According to Al-Ahram, a popular Egyptian newspaper, a twenty-something year old, first time father named his daughter “Facebook” Jamal Ibrahim (his name). The father named his daughter Facebook to commemorate the role, the social networking site played in planning and orchestrating the January 25th revolution against President Mubarak.
(Voice of America) A leading Sunni sheikh addressed a crowd in Cairo’s Tahrir Square Friday, on a day honoring the martyrs of Egypt’s revolution. Egyptians packed Tahrir Square yet again Friday to listen to popular cleric Yusuf Qaradawi, one week to the day after Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak resigned.
There was certainly joy at what many Egyptians consider to be a political victory, but people quickly reflected on those who died during the protests that began January 25.