Sunday, February 6, 2011


Another blog entry from a friend in Palestine:

"Today, we enter the 12th day of protests by people calling for the Egyptian dictator, Hosni Mubarak, to step down. Mubarak has confirmed that he will not seek another term in office, but to say that is to say to the thousands on the streets that he will not move anywhere until September – and this is completely unacceptable to those who have fought so hard to get this far. Even the US president, Barak Obama, has advised that he “listen to what is voiced by the people”; and whilst not explicitly calling for his resignation, his carefully-worded statement is unambiguous as regards to whether Mubarak has the option to stay any longer than absolutely necessary.

What Mubarak must do now is admit defeat and allow a temporary government to preside over the transition to what all hope will be an authentic democracy. A Palestinian I spoke to yesterday - a man I respect and someone who has seen all the worst of the occupation – doubted that anything significant would change: he believed that the people would be offered the vote, but all five names on the ticket would just be more puppets of the US. This was the first time I’d heard a Palestinian voice genuine doubt over the revolution we are seeing – most are too caught up in the euphoria of the moment – but this doubt is borne out of a cynicism formed after many, many fruitless years of violent and non-violent struggle.

Many, however, are optimistic, and a report in the Independent by Robert Fisk suggests that the prospective government and constitution will be negotiated on by a group of 25 political personalities who have both proved their ability and have the respect of the Arab people – including a Nobel Prize-winner, the chairman of the Arab League, an Egyptian-American who has advised Obama, and a professor of Islamic studies who is close to the Muslim Brotherhood. If these people can propose a political system which is acceptable to the Arab people and could be held in good repute throughout the rest of the world, then perhaps we may finally see a beginning to the end of this bastard conflict in the Middle East.

This afternoon, across the West Bank, demonstrations were held to show support for the protestors in Egypt. Here in Ramallah, hundreds gathered in the streets waving Egyptian, Tunisian, and Palestinian flags and chanted “Down with the regime!”, with implicit recognition that the dictators which have ruled across the Middle East are all united by characteristics which have become detestable to the people: the corruption of the leaders; the submission to the US; the disregard for the people; and the sheer, gratuitous wealth of the few who live amongst the devastating poverty of the many. We joined them, and waved our flags, and we shouted what we could. Whilst we were there the protests were peaceful, but as I write this a flash on Maan News states that the protest has been broken up by Fattah supporters. It should be remembered that the PA, too, stand to lose a lot if Mubarak is ousted."

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