Islamists win most seats in Moroccan vote

* Second Islamist party to benefit from Arab Spring uprisings

* PJD wins Moroccan vote with 107 of 395 seats (Adds detail, background)

RABAT Nov 27 (Reuters) – Morocco’s moderate Islamist PJD party won the biggest share of seats in the country’s parliamentary election, final results showed on Sunday, in the latest sign of a resurgence of faith-based movements since the Arab Spring uprisings.

The victory for Morocco’s Justice and Development Party came a month after Tunisia handed power to a previously-banned party of moderate Islamists. Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood is also expected to do well in an election starting on Monday.

PJD, which will get its first chance to head a coalition government, has said it will promote Islamic finance but steer clear of imposing a strict moral code on a country that depends on tourism.

The party, whose deceased founder was a physician of King Mohammed’s grandfather, is loyal to the monarchy and backs its role as the supreme religious authority in the country.

 

PJD won 107 seats in the 395-seat parliament, according to results from the interior ministry carried by the official MAP news agency.

Three parties from the secularist Koutla bloc, with which the PJD wants to form a coalition, won a total 117 seats, the results showed.

Koutla includes Istiqlal Party, of outgoing Prime Minister Abbas Al Fassi, Socialist Union of Popular Forces (USFP) and Socialism and Progress Party (PPS). The three parties won 60, 39 and 18 seats respectively. Istiqlal headed the incumbent coalition.

Ruler King Mohammed is expected to pick a prime minister from PJD’s ranks next week, with its secretary general Abdelilah Benkirane touted for the job.

Morocco has not had a revolution of the kind seen elsewhere in the region. But King Mohammed, has pushed through limited reforms to contain protests demanding a British or Spanish-style monarchy.

PJD’s strong showing came on the back of its promises for greater democracy, less corruption and to tackle acute social inequalities by raising minimum wages and reforming education. Youth unemployment is at 31 percent and nearly a quarter of the 33 million population live in severe poverty.

PJD’s rivals, a grouping of eight liberal parties with close ties to the royal palace, lagged behind with about 160 seats in total, according to the final results.

(af.reuters.com / 27.11.2011)

Those who support democracy must welcome the rise of political Islam

From Tunisia to Egypt, Islamists are gaining the popular vote. Far from threatening stability, this makes it a real possibility.

Tunisia election reactions

Supporters of moderate Islamist party Ennahda celebrate election results in Tunisia, October 2011.

Ennahda, the Islamic party in Tunisia, won 41% of the seats of the Tunisian constitutional assembly last month, causing consternation in the west. But Ennahda will not be an exception on the Arab scene. Last Friday the Islamic Justice and Development Party took the biggest share of the vote in Morocco and will lead the new coalition government for the first time in history. And tomorrow Egypt’s elections begin, with the Muslim Brotherhood predicted to become the largest party. There may be more to come. Should free and fair elections be held in Yemen, once the regime of Ali Abdullah Saleh falls, the Yemeni Congregation for Reform, also Islamic, will win by a significant majority. This pattern will repeat itself whenever the democratic process takes its course.

In the west, this phenomenon has led to a debate about the “problem” of the rise of political Islam. In the Arab world, too, there has been mounting tension between Islamists and secularists, who feel anxious about Islamic groups. Many voices warn that the Arab spring will lead to an Islamic winter, and that the Islamists, though claiming to support democracy, will soon turn against it. In the west, stereotypical images that took root in the aftermath of 9/11 have come to the fore again. In the Arab world, a secular anti-democracy camp has emerged in both Tunisia and Egypt whose pretext for opposing democratisation is that the Islamists are likely to be the victors.

But the uproar that has accompanied the Islamists’ gains is unhelpful; a calm and well-informed debate about the rise of political Islam is long overdue.

First, we must define our terms. “Islamist” is used in the Muslim world to describe Muslims who participate in the public sphere, using Islam as a basis. It is understood that this participation is not at odds with democracy. In the west, however, the term routinely describes those who use violence as a means and an end – thus Jihadist Salafism, exemplified by al-Qaida, is called “Islamist” in the west, despite the fact that it rejects democratic political participation (Ayman al-Zawahiri, the leader of al-Qaida, criticised Hamas when it decided to take part in the elections for the Palestinian legislative council, and has repeatedly criticised the Muslim Brotherhood for opposing the use of violence).

This disconnect in the understanding of the term in the west and in the Muslim world was often exploited by despotic Arab regimes to suppress Islamic movements with democratic political programmes. It is time we were clear.

Reform-based Islamic movements, such as the Muslim Brotherhood, work within the political process. They learned a bitter lesson from their armed conflict in Syria against the regime of Hafez al-Assad in 1982, which cost the lives of more than 20,000 people and led to the incarceration or banishment of many thousands more. The Syrian experience convinced mainstream Islamic movements to avoid armed struggle and to observe “strategic patience” instead.

Second, we must understand the history of the region. In western discourse Islamists are seen as newcomers to politics, gullible zealots who are motivated by a radical ideology and lack experience. In fact, they have played a major role in the Arab political scene since the 1920s. Islamic movements have often been in opposition, but since the 1940s they have participated in parliamentary elections, entered alliances with secular, nationalist and socialist groups, and participated in several governments – in Sudan, Jordan, Yemen and Algeria. They have also forged alliances with non-Islamic regimes, like the Nimeiri regime in Sudan in 1977.

A number of other events have had an impact on the collective Muslim mind, and have led to the maturation of political Islam: the much-debatedIslamic Revolution in Iran in 1979; the military coup in Sudan in 1989; the success of the Algerian Islamic Salvation Front in the 1991 elections and the army’s subsequent denial of its right to govern; the conquest of much of Afghan territory by the Taliban in 1996 leading to the establishment of its Islamic emirate; and the success in 2006 of Hamas in the Palestinian Legislative Council elections. The Hamas win was not recognised, nor was the national unity government formed. Instead, a siege was imposed on Gaza to suffocate the movement.

Perhaps one of the most influential experiences has been that of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) in Turkey, which won the elections in 2002. It has been a source of inspiration for many Islamic movements. Although the AKP does not describe itself as Islamic, its 10 years of political experience have led to a model that many Islamists regard as successful. The model has three important characteristics: a general Islamic frame of reference; a multi-party democracy; and significant economic growth.

These varied political experiences have had a profound impact on political Islam’s flexibility and capacity for political action, and on its philosophy, too.

However, political Islam has also faced enormous pressures from dictatorial Arab regimes, pressures that became more intense after 9/11. Islamic institutions were suppressed. Islamic activists were imprisoned, tortured and killed. Such experiences gave rise to a profound bitterness. Given the history, it is only natural that we should hear overzealous slogans or intolerant threats from some activists. Some of those now at the forefront of election campaigns were only recently released from prison. It would not be fair to expect them to use the voice of professional diplomats.

Despite this, the Islamic political discourse has generally been balanced. The Tunisian Islamic movement has set a good example. Although Ennahda suffered under Ben Ali’s regime, its leaders developed a tolerant discourse and managed to open up to moderate secular and leftist political groups. The movement’s leaders have reassured Tunisian citizens that it will not interfere in their personal lives and that it will respect their right to choose. The movement also presented a progressive model of women’s participation, with 42 female Ennahda members in the constitutional assembly.

The Islamic movement’s approach to the west has also been balanced, despite the fact that western countries supported despotic Arab regimes. Islamists know the importance of international communication in an economically and politically interconnected world.

Now there is a unique opportunity for the west: to demonstrate that it will no longer support despotic regimes by supporting instead the democratic process in the Arab world, by refusing to intervene in favour of one party against another and by accepting the results of the democratic process, even when it is not the result they would have chosen. Democracy is the only option for bringing stability, security and tolerance to the region, and it is the dearest thing to the hearts of Arabs, who will not forgive any attempts to derail it.

The region has suffered a lot as a result of attempts to exclude Islamists and deny them a role in the public sphere. Undoubtedly, Islamists’ participation in governance will give rise to a number of challenges, both within the Islamic ranks and with regard to relations with other local and international forces. Islamists should be careful not to fall into the trap of feeling overconfident: they must accommodate other trends, even if it means making painful concessions. Our societies need political consensus, and the participation of all political groups, regardless of their electoral weight. It is this interplay between Islamists and others that will both guarantee the maturation of the Arab democratic transition and lead to an Arab political consensus and stability that has been missing for decades.

(www.guardian.co.uk / 27.11.2011)

Top Iran official: Israel will pay for Gaza ‘crimes’ if attacks nuclear program

Israel will pay the price of its “crimes” in the Gaza Strip if it went ahead with its threats to strike Iran’s nuclear facilities, Iranian Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi said on Sunday.

Vahidi’s comment referred to mounting speculation that Israel would strike Iran’s nuclear facilities after the International Atomic Energy Agency said Iran had tested designs used to make nuclear warheads. It was only one of several such recent remarks by top Iranian defense officials.

On Saturday, a senior commander of Iran’s powerful Revolutionary Guard said the country will target NATO’s missile defense shield in Turkey if the U.S. or Israel attacks the Islamic Republic.

Earlier Saturday, another Iranian defense official threatened retaliation against Israel if any of its nuclear or security sites are attacked.

“If Israeli missiles hit one of our nuclear facilities or other vital centers, then they should know that any part of Israeli territory would be target of our missiles, including their nuclear sites,” General Yadollah Javani of the Revolutionary Guards told ISNA news agency.

“They [Israel] know that we have the capability to do so,” he added.

Speaking to the semi-official Mehr news agency, Vahidi commented on the possibility of an Israeli strike, saying that if Israel tried to carry out its threats Iranian forces would “take revenge on this regime” for what Mehr called “years of atrocities” against “oppressed nations.”

The Iranian defense minister added that the “Zionist regime has not yet paid the price” for actions committed in the Gaza Strip, adding that the Islamic Republic would avenge Israel for its policies.

Referring to the extent of Iran’s response to an Israeli attack, Vahidi mocked Israeli preparedness, saying: “Why does the Zionist regime issue such threats? For how many missiles has it readied itself: 10 thousands, 20 thousands, 50 thousands, 100 thousands, 150 thousands, or more?”

If Israel attacks, “the Basijis [Iranian fighters] will not even give Israel the time to breathe.”

(www.haaretz.com / 27.11.2011)

Résultats Listes Nationales féminine/jeunes et total des sièges par parti.

 

Résultats listes nationales Locales et définitifs des élections du 25 Novembre.

Normalement, on attendait l’annonce du ministre de l’intérieur des chiffres définitifs des listes Nationales Femmes et Jeunes des élections du 25 Novembre ce dimanche 27 à 17h .

De sources sûres, voici les résultats de la liste nationale féminine (60 sièges) et jeunes (30 sièges) en exclusivité :

Liste
fém.
Liste Jeune
Total
PJD
16
8
24
PI
9
4
13
USFP
6
3
9
PAM
8
4
12
RNI
8
4
12
MP
5
3
8
PPS
4
2
6
UC
4
2
6
Par conséquent les résultats toutes listes confondues et classés par nombre de sièges est :

Total sièges toutes listes
PJD
104
PI
58
RNI
50
PAM
47
USFP
38
MP
30
PPS
17
UC
6
(www.bigbrother.ma / 27.11.2011)

Egypt army head: We will not bow to pressure

 

New Egyptian Prime Minister Kamal Ganzouri (L) shakes hands with Field
Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, the head of the ruling Supreme Council
of the Armed Forces, before a news conference at the Defense Ministry in
Cairo Nov. 25, 2011.
CAIRO (AFP) — Egypt’s army ruler warned on Sunday he would not tolerate any pressure ahead of new protests demanding that he step down on the eve of the country’s first elections since the January revolution.

Egyptians go to the polls on Monday to cast their first votes for a new parliament after the end of the 30-year rule of strongman Hosni Mubarak, forced from power in February in one of the seminal moments of the Arab Spring.

The run-up to voting in the cultural heart of the Arab world and region’s most populous country has been marred by violence and fears of chaos as the army, protesters and new political figures fight for influence.

Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, who heads a council of generals who took power after Mubarak’s fall, called on voters to turn out and said he would not buckle in the face of demands for the army to hand control to civilian leaders.

“We are faced with enormous challenges and we will not allow any individual or party to pressure the armed forces,” he told reporters, adding that Egypt stood at “a crossroads.”

“Either succeed politically, economically and socially or face very dangerous consequences… and we will not let that happen,” he said, according to the MENA news agency.

Protesters have again occupied Cairo’s Tahrir Square, epicenter of the mass protests that drove Mubarak from power, but this time their target is Tantawi and his fellow generals.

Thousands gathered on Sunday ahead of a planned “million-person march” called by The Revolution Youth Coalition to reject new 78-year-old caretaker prime minister Kamal al-Ganzuri, appointed by the army last week.

“Down with the military!” shouted a group of young men on the edge of the square underneath a lamp post from which an effigy dressed in army green was hanging by the neck.

Feeding the anger of those assembled in Tahrir, many of whom carried visible injuries from last week’s unrest, was the death of an unarmed 19-year-old demonstrator on Saturday who was crushed by a police truck.

The demonstrators fear that Egypt’s temporary military rulers are looking to consolidate their influence and are too quick to resort to Mubarak-era tactics of violence and repression when faced with opposition.

“I believe the Egyptian authorities must impose public order in a different way and that it is time they hand over power to civilians,” France’s Interior Minister Claude Gueant told French media on Sunday.

The generals have pushed back the original timetable for transferring power to a civilian government and demanded a final say on all legislation concerning the army in the future.

“They don’t want to give back power,” said 18-year-old student Raghda, who was visiting the square on Sunday.

Outside Tahrir, the political leaders expected to shape the democratic future of the country of more than 80 million people are locked in a fight for influence with the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces.

In an effort to resolve the crisis, Tantawi called a meeting with all political party leaders and future presidential candidates, but it was boycotted by several leading figures.

The violence over the past week, which has seen 42 people die as police used live ammunition and tear gas, has cast a pall over the start of voting that was intended to usher in a new democratic era.

The unrest has led to calls for the elections — spread in three stages over six weeks in a complicated process — to be delayed because of deteriorating security and the threat of boycotts.

“The blood of the revolutionaries has not even dried yet on Tahrir Square and we should take part in elections? I won’t go to vote,” said one protester on Sunday who gave his name as Mustafa.

Also on Sunday, the influential Islamist group, the Muslim Brotherhood, expected to be the biggest party in the new parliament, said it should form a new government if it emerges as the largest parliamentary bloc.

“If the government is not representative of parliament, the assembly will block all its decisions,” spokesman Mahmud Ghozlan told AFP.

There is great uncertainty over how the new parliament, to be elected in stages over the next six weeks, will function because of a lack of clarity from the SCAF and the legal limbo until a new constitution is written.

Two days of voting from Monday will take place in the main cities of Cairo and Alexandria as well as Fayum, Luxor, Port Said, Damietta, Kafr el-Sheikh and the Red Sea province.

Other cities and regions follow on December 14 and January 3.

(www.maannews.net / 27.11.2011)

Arab League agrees Syria fiscal, travel sanctions

The seat of the Foreign Minister of Syria is seen empty during a meeting for
Arab foreign ministers in Cairo, to discuss the situation in Syria Nov. 24, 2011.

CAIRO (AFP) — Arab foreign ministers agreed a list of sweeping sanctions Sunday designed to cripple the Syrian regime of President Bashar Assad who has defied pressure to halt a bloody crackdown on protests.

The 22-member Arab League agreed to ban Syrian officials from visiting any Arab country, to freeze government assets, suspend flights and halt any transactions with the Syrian government and central bank.

The sanctions, announced by Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani after a meeting in Cairo, are the first time the organization has taken such economic measures against another country in the region.

“We hope that (the Syrian regime) puts an end to the massacres so that this resolution (authorizing sanctions) is not put into force,” said Sheikh Hamad, but he added that “the signs are not positive.”

He also called for “an end to the massacres, the freeing of prisoners and the withdrawal of tanks” from Syrian cities.

Long seen as a weak institution dominated by the region’s autocrats, the Arab League has taken on an increasingly activist role during the pro-democracy Arab Spring demonstrations of the past 12 months.

Nineteen of the Arab League’s 22 members voted for the sanctions, but Iraq abstained and said it would refuse to implement them, while Lebanon “disassociated itself,” Sheikh Hamad said.

Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari, whose country has close economic ties with Syria and a large refugee community in its western neighbour, had said beforehand that it was “not possible” to impose sanctions on Assad’s regime.

Even without Iraq’s participation, the impact is expected to be crippling on a country already facing a raft of EU and US sanctions, and which depends on its Arab neighbors for half of its exports and a quarter of its imports.

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu has also said his government will harmonize measures with those of the Arab League, saying that Ankara’s former ally had missed its “last chance” by failing to heed the Arab ultimatum.

Damascus has defied an ultimatum to accept observers under an Arab League peace plan and put an end to the eight-month crackdown which the United Nations says has killed more than 3,500 people.

Syrian Economy Minister Mohammed Nidal al-Shaar told AFP before the decision that sanctions would be “very unfortunate because the damage will be to all sides.”

In a letter to the Arab League on Saturday, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem accused the organization of seeking to “internationalize” the crisis in his country.

The violence showed no sign of abating, however, with Syrian security forces accused of killing at least 11 civilians on Sunday, six of them in the flashpoint region of Homs that has been under siege for several weeks.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights also reported fresh violence in the town of Qusayr, in Idlib province, the oil hub city of Deir Ezzor and near the capital Damascus.

At least 23 civilians and 12 members of the security forces were killed in clashes across the country on Saturday, the rights group said.

These included 16 civilians, among them two children aged nine and 10, shot dead by security forces — in Homs and Qusayr in central Syria and another in Deir Ezzor in the east, the group added.

Bahrain and Qatar on Sunday called on their citizens to leave Syria, after the United Arab Emirates also advised its citizens earlier in the week to stay away.

Iraq also abstained from a vote earlier this month that saw the Arab League decide to suspend Syria’s membership and threaten sanctions, while Lebanon joined Yemen and Syria itself in opposing the resolution.

 (www.maannews.net / 27.11.2011)

Israeli intelligence summonses two female ex-detainees for interrogation

 

WEST BANK, (PIC)– The Israeli occupation forces (IOF) violently stormed at dawn Sunday the homes of two Palestinian women recently released as part of the swap deal between Hamas Movement and Israel and handed them summonses for interrogation from the intelligence.

In Dura village south of Al-Khalil city, the IOF broke at dawn into the house of female ex-detainee Randa Al-Shahatit and handed her a summons for interrogation from the Israeli intelligence.

Shahatit, 25, told the Palestinian information center (PIC) that Israeli soldiers demanded her and her family to hand over their IDs before giving her the summons and threatening her with arrest if she did no show up at the intelligence headquarters inside Etzion military post.

Shahatit was serving four years and two months on a charge of attempting to kill a Jewish settler at the Ibrahimi Mosque in revenge for the massacres committed by Israel during its war on the Gaza Strip in the winter of 2008.

In Izza refugee camp north of Bethlehem city, the IOF also broke into the house of another female ex-detainee called Hanan Al-Hamouz and handed her a summons from the intelligence.

Local sources said the IOF stormed the camp, spread in its alleys and streets and closed its main entrance before breaking into and ransacking the house of Hamouz family.

(www.palestine-info.co.uk / 27.11.2011)

Israeli Forces Raze Land in Qalandia Village to Expand Separation Wall

JERUSALEM, November 27, 2011 (WAFA) – Israeli bulldozers razed Sunday the agricultural land north of the village of Qlandia, south of the city of Ramallah, in preparation of expanding the Separation Wall, according to witnesses.

Witnesses said that two Israeli bulldozers, accompanied by borders’ guards, razed land, belonging to the village’s residents, to steal it in favor of expanding ‘Atarot’ settlement.

They added that the Wall will separate a number of the residents’ homes from their village, and will completely isolate the village from the outside world.

Head of Qalandia village council, Yousef Awad, said that the razing process is going very fast and is destroying a lot of land, indicating that the villagers had confronted the soldiers and bulldozers, however, they continued bulldozing.

He called for an intervention to stop the bulldozing that targets the village’s land.

Awad indicated that the area of the land, which is inhabited by 1100 Palestinians, intended to be seized is estimated to around 400 dumuns (1 dunum=1000 square meters), and is owned by a number of the village’s residents.

(mideastnews-danmike.blogspot.com / 27.11.2011)

Jemenitische president geeft amnestie voor ‘gekheid en vergissingen’ tijdens protesten

Protesten tegen president Saleh in de Jemenitische hoofdstad Sanaa, 27 november.

De Jemenitische president Ali Abdullah Saleh heeft vandaag per decreet een bijna algehele amnestie afgekondigd voor alle personen ‘die gekheid en vergissingen hebben begaan in de crisis’.

Met de crisis duidt hij op de uiterst gewelddadige periode van protesten tegen zijn regime sinds januari. Hij tekende uiteindelijk afgelopen woensdag toch een akkoord over zijn vertrek van het met lijken bezaaide politieke toneel.

Daarmee gaf hij al zijn bevoegdheden op, maar vandaag lanceerde hij desondanks het amnestiedecreet. De amnestie geldt volgens Saleh niet voor figuren die verantwoordelijk zijn voor de aanslag op zijn paleis in juni. Daarbij raakte Saleh zeer ernstig gewond. Hij werd tot begin september in Saudi-Arabië verpleegd.

Saleh regeerde Jemen 33 jaar. Hij is de vierde Arabische leider die dit jaar de macht kwijtraakt. Eerder gebeurde dat in Tunesië, Egypte en Libië. In ruil voor zijn vertrek kreeg Saleh de toezegging dat hij niet wordt vervolgd voor misdaden die onder zijn verantwoordelijkheid tijdens zijn regering werden gepleegd.

Jemen is het armste onafhankelijke land van de Arabische wereld. Als gevolg van het akkoord van woensdag kiest het op 21 februari een nieuwe president. Tot dan blijft Saleh formeel aan, maar zijn bevoegdheden zijn overgeheveld naar vicepresident Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi.

Bruut geweld
Veel mensen zijn omgekomen door bruut geweld dat tegen betogers is gepleegd. Het land kent ook al lange tijd stammentwisten en aanvallen van een groepje extremisten die zich tot het netwerk Al Qaida rekenen. Tijdens gevechten in het noorden van het land tussen sjiitische rebellen en soennitische strijders zouden dit weekeinde alleen al meer dan 20 mensen om het leven zijn gebracht.

(www.parool.nl / 27.11.2011)

Israeli warplanes blast southern and central Gaza

GAZA: Israeli warplanes blasted targets in southern and central Gaza Strip at dawn Sunday causing only material damage, local sources reported.

They told the PIC reporter that the raids targeted a deserted area in central Gaza before firing two missiles at an area northwest of Khan Younis in the south.

The sources said that the missiles targeted greenhouses between Khan Younis and Deir Al-Balah only minutes after the first raid, adding that the area was the target of repeated bombings.