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Saturday, August 25, 2007
Excerpts: Troubles of the Arab World. Growing Egyptian authoritarianism. Arab (non-Persian] Iranians.Syrian Saudi anger.

Excerpts: Troubles of the Arab World. Growing Egyptian authoritarianism.Arab
(non-Persian] Iranians.Syrian Saudi anger.

+++THE DAILY STAR (Lebanon 25 Aug.'07:"Time to put away the conspiracy
and assume responsibility"
By The Daily Star

QUOTE:the vast majority of our
problems are the consequence of our own ineptitude and mediocrities"
. . .The tendency in many quarters of our societies is to blame others for
all our troubles, to find foreign scapegoats who more often than not are
nicely packaged within sinister and long-running conspiracies. The French,
Americans, Israelis and British are favorite culprits, ... Yet it is also
difficult to believe that all the troubles of the Arab world are the fault
of foreign conspiracies. The people and institutions of the Arab world need
to work more rigorously to separate the wheat from the chaff of political
history and current events, to recognize what is the occasional handiwork of
foreign mischief-makers here and there, while acknowledging that the vast
majority of our problems are the consequence of our own ineptitudes and
mediocrities ... .. More likely to blame for the bad times we suffer in this
region are the various political systems that we have generated more or
less on our own over the past century or so, by our own hands. Is it not
possible for some honest leaders in the Arab world to stand up and
acknowledge local responsibility for our shortcomings and weaknesses, which
have created our many vulnerabilities and pains? . . .

+++THE DAILY STAR (Lebanon) 25 Aug.'07:"Why does Egypt choose to stoop so
low?"By Rami G. Khouri
QUOTE:"Why do they choose to stoop low...?"
. . .The Egyptian government in the past three years,..., has stepped up
pressure on its critics or challengers, using a variety of traditional
means: arrests and harassment, massive police intervention against
demonstrators, legal charges that often include long periods of detention,
mass arrests, semi-secret military trials, organized press attacks, and,
most recently, constitutional amendments that whittle away opposition impact
and entrench regime incumbency.
None of this is new or surprising, as the ruling, military- and
security-anchored National Democratic Party (NDP) and its antecedents have
used these tactics many times before in the past half a century. What is
surprising is why they feel they need to do this. Their Egyptian and Arab
reservoir of legitimacy, national cohesion, identity and regional influence
is rich and enduring. They can stand like giants. Why do they choose to
stoop low sometimes?

Scores of Muslim Brotherhood members are now on trial again in military
court, peaceful student demonstrations are broken up, and activists ...are
arrested, threatened and harassed. An active press campaign is under way
against...Egyptian democracy activists. NDP members have filed legal
requests to close the Ibn Khaldoun center and try its director and staff on
the usual array of quite ridiculous charges, such as treason, harming the
national interest, tarnishing the country's image abroad, and showing
contempt for religion.
. . .The government has also revived a tactic that was last used in 2001,
which is to try civilians in military tribunals, including 40 Muslim
Brotherhood members whose case by the government was initially rejected by
civilian courts. Earlier this year the Mubarak government pushed through 34
amendments to the Constitution, which ... aim to "further solidify the legal
underpinnings of authoritarianism in Egypt."
Some of the amendments ban political activity based on religion, make it
almost impossible for an independent candidate to run for president,
eliminate the impressive system of judicial supervision of elections that
had been established in 2000, and provide constitutional anchorage for
wide-ranging anti-terrorism measures, such as using military and exceptional
courts, and allowing the police to search homes and conduct electronic
surveillance without warrants.
It is very sad to watch this spectacle, and harder yet for Egyptians
themselves to endure its consequences.... .

+++ARAB NEWS (Saudi) 25 Aug.'07:"The Revolt of Arab-Iranians" by Amir
Taheri -
The outside world should pay
attention to what is happening in Khuzestan if only because it produces
almost 70 percent of the oil that Iran exports each day.
Is the Islamic Republic of Iran facing a growing revolt by its Arab
minority?. . .ethnic Arabs in Iran. ...number at around 2.2 million, or
more than three percent of the total population. ... More than half,
however, live in Khuzestan, Iran's oil-rich province that also produces a
good part of the nation's food, including almost all of its sugarcane and 80
percent of its date crops.. . .The main source of the tension... is the
central government's policy of implicit discrimination against the Arab
minority. This is especially manifest in state-owned corporations where
non-Arabs have an automatic advantage in terms of job opportunities, grades
and pay.The revolt of Arab-Iranians is in its early stages. There is, as
yet, no evidence that it might degenerate into secessionism. Ahmadinejad's
repressive policies, however, could help those who claim that ethnic Arabs
would be better off in a secular democratic state with their Iraqi Shiite
Arab brethren than remaining within an Islamic republic dominated by
chauvinistic mullahs.
The outside world should pay attention to what is happening in Khuzestan if
only because it produces almost 70 percent of the oil that Iran exports each

+++AL-AHRAM WEEKLY 23-29 Aug.'07:"Fraternal altercations"
HEADING:"Recent name-calling between Syria and Saudi Arabia is rubbing salt
in worsening wounds, writes Sherine Bahaa"
QUOTE:"Damascus rarely criticises Arab
states.This is no longer the case"

"Virtually paralysed," was how Syrian Vice-President Farouk Al-Sharaa
described the regional role of Saudi Arabia. . .. "The government of the
kingdom of Saudi Arabia has followed with great surprise the distasteful
statements recently made by(Syrian V.P.] Al-Sharaa, which included numerous
lies and fallacies aimed at harming us," said the statement carried by the
official Saudi press agency.
"Talk about the paralysis of the kingdom's Arab and Islamic role does not
come from a rational and prudent person, as this role is well known to
everyone. Perhaps Al-Sharaa made a slip of the tongue and meant by paralysis
the policy he speaks for," said the statement.
. . ..
Arabs still remember Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad's famous speech after
the victory of the Iranian-backed Hizbullah in last summer's war with
Israel, in which he blamed Arab leaders for their impotence calling them
"half men" for their failure to act to stop the violence. Syria is known for
its strong anti-Western and anti-Israeli rhetoric, but, Damascus rarely
criticises Arab states.This is no longer the case..
"Although we had our differences, he [the late Hafez Al-Assad] always
maintained good relations with the kingdom," said one Saudi official,
speaking on condition of anonymity because of the subject's sensitivity.
Things have changed since then. Today Syria is out of Lebanon, and is blamed
for its former prime minister, Rafiq Hariri's assassination in 2005. It has
been given the cold shoulder by its Arab neighbours, being criticised for
falling under the spell of its Shia ally Iran.
In all these developments, the Syrians seem to see the hidden hand of Saudi
Arabia. . . .According to a Syria analyst, Damascus knows it is now
"virtually impossible" to mend fences with Riyadh without outside mediation.
But now, there are concerns the Syrian- Saudi spat could have negative
repercussions for countries where each has a major stake, such as Iraq and
Lebanon.. . .
Sue Lerner - Associate, IMRA

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