Monday, February 28, 2011

Gaddafi: All my people love me

Washington – Libya’s beleaguered strongman Muammar Gaddafi insisted on Monday “all my people love me” in an interview with ABC television.

“All my people love me. They would die to protect me,” the veteran Libyan leader said, according to ABC’s Christiane Amanpour in a message sent on her Twitter account.

Gaddafi, who has ruled his north African country for more than 41 years, also refused to acknowledge there were any demonstrations on the streets of Tropoli, Amanpour added.

Gaddafi’s forces hit back on Monday against opposition demonstrations, launching bombing raids in areas held by pro-democracy forces, witnesses told AFP in Libya.

Fighter jets bombed ammunition stores in the eastern town of Adjabiya, around 100km south of the city, a witness told AFP by telephone. Two planes also attacked a munitions dump at Rajma, just south of the city, a military reservist said.

A brutal crackdown by the regime on opposition protests that began nearly two weeks ago has killed at least 1 000 people and set off a “humanitarian emergency”, the UN refugee agency UNHCR said, as almost 100 000 migrant workers fled the North African state.

Govt. on alert over militia threats-Kenya

The government has taken precautionary security measures following threats of attacks by the Somali militia group Al-Shabaab.

Police Commissioner Mathew Iteere says the threats by Alshabaab cannot be taken for granted considering they issued a similar warning to Uganda before bomb attacks that killed more than 70 people in July last year for which they claimed responsibility.

Addressing journalists in Nairobi on Monday Iteere said security has been beefed up on the Kenyan borders to avert entry of any illegal groups.

However, Iteere urged Kenyans not to panic and assured them that security personnel are on high alert. Ha called on the public to cooperate with security agents in case they encounter any suspicious individuals or groups.

The police boss also said calm has returned to the border town of Mandera following a week-long fighting on the Somalia side between Al -Shabaab militia, troops allied to the Somali transitional Government and Ethiopian troops.

During the fighting, one person was killed by stray bullets fired from Somalia and ten others injured.

The Al Shabaab have threatened to launch an attack against Kenya for assisting the Somali Transitional government by allegedly allowing Ethiopian forces to stage raids from its territory.

Meanwhile the Kenya Red Cross Society (KRCS) has embarked on registration of Somalia refugees in Mandera town.

Following heavy fighting between Al-Shabab militants and forces allied to the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia, along the Kenya-Somalia border, hundreds of refugees are scattered in Mandera town and its environs.

A lull in the fighting on Sunday enabled the KRCS personnel to start registration of refugees that would facilitate distribution of relief aid.

A team comprising the Provincial Administration, KRCS and medical officers has identified a site for a temporary refugee camp. KRCS has also deployed to Mandera relief items for 1000 households (6,000 people.

On 25th February 2011, gunshots hit KRCS Mandera Offices where six staff members were holed up.

A woman was killed at Border Point One and 10 casualties treated at Mandera District Hospital.

At least 17 people who sustained injuries following the conflict have been treated in various health facilities in the district.

tragedy Intervening in the Libyan

The unfolding situation in Libya has been horrible to behold. No matter how many times we warn that dictators will do what they must to stay in power, it is still shocking to see the images of brutalized civilians which have been flooding al-Jazeera and circulating on the internet. We should not be fooled by Libya’s geographic proximity to Egypt and Tunisia, or guided by the debates over how the United States could best help a peaceful protest movement achieve democratic change. The appropriate comparison is Bosnia or Kosovo, or even Rwanda where a massacre is unfolding on live television and the world is challenged to act. It is time for the United States, NATO, the United Nations and the Arab League to act forcefully to try to prevent the already bloody situation from degenerating into something much worse.

By acting, I mean a response sufficiently forceful and direct to deter or prevent the Libyan regime from using its military resources to butcher its opponents. I have already seen reports that NATO has sternly warned Libya against further violence against its people. Making that credible could mean the declaration and enforcement of a no-fly zone over Libya, presumably by NATO, to prevent the use of military aircraft against the protestors. It could also mean a clear declaration that members of the regime and military will be held individually responsible for any future deaths. The U.S. should call for an urgent, immediate Security Council meeting and push for a strong resolution condeming Libya’s use of violence and authorizing targeted sanctions against the regime. Such steps could stand a chance of reversing the course of a rapidly deteriorating situation. An effective international response could not only save many Libyan lives, it might also send a powerful warning to other Arab leaders who might contemplate following suit against their own protest movements.

I don’t have any illusions that the outside world can control what happens in Libya, if the regime really wants to try to hold power by force. I don’t call for a direct military intervention. And I am keenly, painfully aware of all that could go wrong with even the kinds of responses I am recommending. But right now those fears are outweighed by the urgent imperative of trying to prevent the already bloody situation from getting much, much worse. This is not a peaceful democracy protest movement which the United States can best help by pressuring allied regimes from above, pushing for long-term and meaningful reform, and persuading the military to refrain from violence. It’s gone well beyond that already, and this time I find myself on the side of those demanding more forceful action before it’s too late. The steady stream of highly public defections from the regime suggest that rapid change is possible, yesterday’s speech by Saif al-Islam Qaddafi and today’s events suggest that so is terrible violence.

There is no avoiding what is happening in Libya. Al-Jazeera Arabic has been covering the Libyan situation heavily for the last couple of days and has powerfully conveyed the gravity of the situation, including broadcasting some truly
disturbing images and video of protestors. I’ve been stunned by what Libyans inside the country and outside have been willing to say on the air about the regime — prominent Libyan diplomats declaring Qaddafi to
by a tyrant, major tribal leaders calling for his overthrow, Yusuf al-Qaradawi calling on the air for someone to shoot Qaddafi, and more. The Arab world’s attention is focused on Libya now, after several days of a fragmented news agenda divided among Libya, Yemen, Bahrain, Egypt and more. Voice after voice, Libyans and other Arabs alike, denounce the silence of the international community and call for action. Qaddafi has few friends, and Qatar has called for
an urgent Arab League meeting to deal with the crisis. While history doesn’t suggest we can expect all that much from that club, their public support for international action could go a long way towards overcoming any suggestion that this is an imperialist venture.

That’s all for now.

Protesters - security clash in capital

Massacres Reported.. Dozens Killed.. Mourners Attacked in Libya

CAIRO — Witnesses say Libyan protesters and security forces battled for control of Tripoli’s city center overnight, with snipers opening fire and Moammar Gadhafi supporters shooting from speeding vehicles.

The protests appear to be the heaviest in Libya’s capital after days of deadly clashes in eastern cities.

Three witnesses say protesters Sunday night moved into Tripoli’s central Green Square and nearby squares. Plainclothes security forces and militiamen attacked in clashes that lasted until dawn.

One witness says snipers opened fire from rooftops. Two others say gunmen in vehicles with photos of Gadhafi sped through, opening fire and running people over. The witnesses reported seeing casualties, but the number could not be confirmed. AP

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Malcolm Campbell mine death New Zealand

Headline Photo
Fiancee Amanda Shields (left) greets mourners after a thanksgiving service for Malcolm Campbell

A British miner who died in the New Zealand mining disaster has been remembered as a "real character" and a "true friend" as more than 600 people gathered for a thanksgiving service in his memory.

Malcolm Campbell, of St Andrews in Fife, was one of 29 miners who lost their lives last November following a series of explosions at the Pike River mine in Atarau on the country's South Island.

He was one of two Scots killed in the tragedy. Fellow Briton Pete Rodger, 40, from Perthshire, also died at the mine.

Hundreds of Mr Campbell's friends and family gathered for a remembrance service at St Leonard's Parish Church in St Andrews, on what would have been his 26th birthday. Among them were his fiancee Amanda Shields, 23, whom he was due to marry in December last year.

About 500 people packed into the church, where many people had to stand, and around a hundred more filled a side room from where they could listen to the service in which a sombre roll call of the 29 names of those who perished in the disaster was read out.

Leading the service, the Very Rev Dr Alan McDonald said of Mr Campbell: "We shall remember him with joy as a vital living presence and a true friend, as a boy whose roots in this part of the north-east of Fife and in the parish and community of Cameron are strong and enduring."

He recalled the former Madras College student's early fascination with motorbikes, which grew to see him compete throughout the UK in motocross and become the Scottish champion, and the minister spoke of Mr Campbell's sense of adventure, which saw him travel to Australia and then New Zealand, where he met "the love of his life".

Rev McDonald, a former Moderator of the Church of Scotland, said: "Hand in hand with our sense of loss, sorrow and bewilderment, goes an awareness of great gain, for it is people like Malcolm who bring friendship, fun, human warmth and good humour into a world that is all too short."

The ceremony, which began with the sound of a lone piper and included hymn-singing, prayers and readings, also featured a traditional New Zealand Haka, performed by three Maori rugby players based in Scotland.

Doug White, the mine's general manager, travelled over from New Zealand to speak at the service. He paid tribute to Mr Campbell, describing him as a "model employee", adding: "Malky was always smiling, always laughing and always keen to get the job done. Nothing was ever a problem. He was never afraid to have a go."

Day Of Ashura

98592856, Getty Images /Hulton Archive

The tragedy of Egyptian opposition

Mohamed ElBaradei
Most of Mohamed ElBaradei's support comes from the affluent and educated urban bourgeoisie. Photograph: Khaled Desouki/AFP/Getty Images

The final results of the recent parliamentary elections in Egypt promise five years of political irrelevance for the institutional opposition. With only 16 seats out of 504, opposition parties achieved the worst electoral result since 1990, when Egypt was experiencing a severe balance of payments crisis combined with widespread discontent over its alignment with the US in the war against Iraq.

The most important element in this disappointing outcome is the most obvious: the combination of systematic vote rigging and violence by security forces in support of the president's National Democratic party (NDP). But that does not entirely explain the patent failure of Egypt's institutional opposition.

Egyptian society is as vibrant as ever, we are often told. However, when discussing this vibrancy and the related desire for change, it appears that internal and external observers are talking of quite different things. On the one hand, the attention of external observers has been catalysed by Mohamed ElBaradei and by the ever-increasing power of new media. On the other hand, within Egypt, a similar function has been played by the waves of strikes and protests affecting urban centres, the industrial towns of the Nile delta and the countryside.

This mismatch in perceptions is closely related to the fact that Egyptian society is still deeply influenced by two traditional – and resilient – cleavages. The first separates upper classes from lower classes, and the second opposes urban and rural forces. The fourfold matrix resulting from the combination of these two distinctions helps us in understanding why my friend Khaled in Fayoum and I in London perceive things so differently, and why this disconnect between institutional and popular opposition harms the prospects for political change in Egypt.

The phenomena attracting external attention have consistently involved only the upper-urban section of Egyptian society. In the case of ElBaradei, it is no secret that most of his support comes from the affluent and educated urban bourgeoisie, and that one of his main weaknesses is his perceived elitism. When it comes to the supposed pervasiveness and thus real power of the Egyptian blogosphere, a quick glance at the ICT development report by the UN telecoms agency tells us that, while overall internet penetration in the country has increased dramatically over the last decade (reaching about one in five Egyptian households), the digital divide between the city and the countryside is far from being bridged, as only 3% of rural households had internet access by 2008.

This figure tells us a lot about the profile of most of the 160,000 Egyptian bloggers: again, they are affluent and educated city dwellers who enjoy what, for the vast majority, is the privilege of internet access.

In much the same way, the institutional opposition – in the form of political parties – is deeply entrenched in the same milieu, finding its core support in either upper-urban groups (the leftist Tagammu' and the liberal al-Ghad party) or in the upper-rural sections of society (as with the Wafd party, which historically represented large landowners). The Muslim Brotherhood, despite its huge potential for mobilisation, is still very much an upper-middle class conservative movement rooted among wealthy professionals and graduates in the larger cities.

Coming from and being largely limited to these social groups, the institutional opposition has been unable to comprehend, let alone represent, the two most relevant movements arising from lower social strata.

On one hand, the movement for workers' rights has gained significant concessions from the government since the first strikes in the textile sector in Mahalla al-Kubra in 2007, and has since gathered momentum and progressively extended its reach towards other manufacturing sectors. On the other hand, following the full implementation of Law 96 of 1992 – also known as "the law for throwing peasants out of their land" – that has to date led to the eviction of more than one million farmers, a peasant movement has emerged in the countryside, though it faces continued repression, as reported by Land Centre for Human Rights.

By its glaring inability to take these grievances serio

usly, the institutional opposition has condemned itself to continuing irrelevance in parliamentary life and has prevented a credible political articulation of the economic and social demands of both industrial and agricultural workers, ignoring that these movements could indeed constitute the much-needed popular support for a political opposition to the Mubarak regime.

Thus, it is not the split between secular and religious opposition, but rather the one between institutional and popular oppositions that constitutes the foundation for the survival – that's what it is: mere survival – of Egyptian authoritarianism. And whereas the positive reaction to ElBaradei's call for a boycott of the 2011 presidential elections is an encouraging sign, its impact will be minimal unless it resonates with those groups whose voice is rarely heard in Cairo's corridors of power.