Israeli Army Kidnaps Three Palestinians In West Bank

Israeli Army Kidnaps Three Palestinians In West Bank

West Bank – [Friday, March 14, 2014] Israeli soldiers kidnapped three Palestinians in the occupied West Bank, and violently assaulted a Palestinian at a roadblock, near Nablus.

Eyewitnesses said soldiers, stationed at the Yitzhar roadblock, south of Nablus, assaulted resident Mohammad Mustafa Abdul-Jawad, 22, from Tal nearby village.

Medical sources said Abdul-Jawad suffered mild-to-moderate wounds in various parts of his body, after the soldiers assaulted him, and was moved to the Rafidia Hospital, west of Nablus.

Furthermore, soldiers stationed at the Za’tara roadblock, near Nablus, kidnapped one Palestinian identified as Omar Bashir Abdul-Haq, 29.

The army stopped and searched dozens of cars, interrogating the passengers before kidnapping Abdul-Haq.

Also on Friday, dozens of soldiers invaded the Aida refugee camp, north of the West Bank city of Bethlehem, kidnapping two Palestinians.

The Palestinian News & Info Agency (WAFA) has reported that the soldiers kidnapped Mahmoud Adel Hajajra, 17, and Omar Ahmad Qaraqra, 27, taking them to an unknown destination.

(Source / 15.03.2014)

End security coordination: PFLP demands action on eighth anniversary of the abduction of Sa’adat


000001The Popular Front demands the Palestinian Authority end security coordination with the occupation and be held accountable for the crime of arresting Comrade Sa’adat and their comrades and work for their freedom

To the heroic masses of our people:

On March 14, 2006, the Zionist enemy’s military forces stormed Jericho cetral prison and kidnapped Comrade General Secretary Ahmad Sa’adat and his comrades, Ahed Abu Ghoulmeh, Majdi Rimawi, Hamdi Qur’an and Basil al-Asmar, and along with them, the struggler Fouad Shubaki, who were under the monitoring and so-called “protection” of U.S. and British troops.

The crime of the abduction of Comrade Sa’adat and his comrades, accused of the assassination of the racist Zionist tourism minister Rehavam Zeevi in response to the assassination of Comrade Abu Ali Mustafa has dimensions beyond the event itself. The Zionist enemy, in collusion with the countries providing “protection” forces to the Jericho prison, sought to arrest the idea itself of the resistance and sought to use this to liquidate the resistance.

However, the vigorous and challenging position of the General Secretary, reported by the international media at the time of his kidnapping, followed by his refusal to recognize the legitimacy of the enemy’s military courts and upholding our people’s right to resist the occupation, confronted and confounded these efforts.

He challenged the oppression of prison and continued to take up his leadership role as General Secretary of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. The enemy sought to confuse and weaken the Popular Front through the arrest of Ahmad Sa’adat and the assassination of former General Secretary Abu Ali Mustafa, but the Front proved to be unbreakable, able to protect itself and preserve its key role in the context of the Palestinian national movement. The valiant fighters, the Abu Ali Mustafa Brigades, pledge to keep their hands on the trigger and pursue the enemy everywhere in the land of Palestine.

To the steadfast masses of our people, the anniversary of the arrest of General Secretary Sa’adat and his comrades raises once more the grave realities of security agreements signed by the enemy, which led to Sa’adat’s arrest and imprisonment. It also raises the critical issue of the ongoing and continuing security coordination with the enemy which seeks to stop the resistance and to pursue the freedom fighters of our people for arrest and assassination. We have seen this with the martyrs, Comrades Moataz Washahe and Saji Darwish and other martyrs before and after them. The Authority bears responsibility for enabling the enemy to do so, either through their inability to confront, or by facilitating through security coordination. Security coordination must end. It has devastating consequences. It is time to end the commitment to these agreements, end the negotiations with the enemy, and instead, respond to calls to build a national strategy to achieve the rights of our people, to adopt all means of resistance to achieve them, and to rebuild national unity.

In this same context, we demand that the Authority take responsibility and act to address its crime of the arrest of the General Secretary and his comrades and insist upon their release, especially as they were kidnapped with brother Fouad Shubaki from a Palestinian Authority prison, despite the fact that the Palestinian courts had acquitted Comrade Sa’adat and ordered his release, as well as the fact that he holds a Palestinian national leadership position and is a member of the Legislative Council. We also demand they work for the freedom of all prisoners in Israeli jails and to escalate the Palestinian prisoners’ cause at the international levels, particularly in the United Nations and its relevant bodies, while providing support for all mass movements and international solidarity movements that work for the release of all of the captives in the occupation’s prisons.

Shame upon everyone who contributed to the arrest of Comrade Sa’adat and his comrades, and salutes to all who support the General Secretary and his comrades, and to all of the prisoners in Israeli jails. We pledge to ontinue to make every effort in order to achieve their freedom.

(Source / 15.03.2014)

Three years on, Syrian crisis stains resource-poor Jordan

A Syrian refugee child plays at Alzaatri Syrian refugee camp in the Jordanian city of Mafraq, near the border with Syria.

Evidence of the three-year-old Syrian crisis being a trans-border dilemma can be best seen in the resource-poor Jordan that is hosting the largest number of Syrian refugees.

Experts see in the Syrian crisis the biggest challenges facing Jordan’s economy, security and even existence thus reemphasizing the long-held perception about Jordan as always inheriting burdens from the outside.

In a report published on March 14, the UNHCR described Syria as “the world’s leading country of forced displacement, with more than 9 million of its people uprooted from their homes.”

It added: “As of today, 2,563,434 Syrians have registered as refugees in neighboring countries or are awaiting registration. With displacement inside Syria having reached more than 6.5 million, the number of people in flight internally and externally exceeds 40 per cent of Syria’s pre-conflict population. At least half of the displaced are children.”

According to the latest UNHCR figures, the total number of registered Syrian refugees in Jordan has reached 584,600 since the outbreak of the Syrian crisis in March 2011.

Infographic: Worsening refugee crisis

Delivering a lecture at the University of Jordan recently, Andrew Harper, the U.N. refugee agency’s representative to Jordan has put the total number of registered Syrian refugees in the kingdom as exceeding 600,000 anyway, expecting more than 20,000 Syrians to cross into Jordan this year.

Official figures in Jordan always account for the number of non-registered Syrians living outside the three refugee camps who, along with the 600,000 registered ones, stand at around 1.2 million. The Zaatari refugee camp on the northern border with Syria is the kingdom’s fourth largest city.

The Jordanian official rhetoric on the Syrian refugee crisis has been always marked with dismay and with an appeal to the international community to increase its assistance to the resource-limited kingdom to cope with the increasing number of Syrian refugees.

In several meetings with world leaders, King Abdullah of Jordan has expressed concerns over his kingdom’s burdens resulting from hosting the largest number of Syrian refugees, warning that the continuation of the refugee influx to Jordan will lead to depletion of its already scare natural resources.

Open border policy

Since the beginning of the Syrian crisis, Jordan has been adopting the “open border” policy towards Syrians seeking refuge in its territories but there has been always “shy remarks” by Jordanian officials that their country’s patience has limits.

I once accompanied Jordan’s Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh in a tour to the northern regions on the borders with Syria, where journalists had the opportunity to meet with the border guards and with the Syrian refugees who had just arrived into the kingdom. It was in April 2013.

At the time, Judeh said that “Jordan is bearing the burdens of Syria’s unrest on behalf of the world, having received more than 485,000 Syrian refugees since March 2011,” renewing an appeal to the international community to help alleviate the economic and social burdens resulting from the continuously rising number of Syrians fleeing violence in their war-torn country to safety.

In response to the international community’s inability to find a solution to the Syrian crisis, there have been “desperate and angry” voices inside the Jordanian parliament calling for the closure of borders with Syria to prevent any security and economic consequences on their already-concerned country.

Responding to a question on why Jordan is still adopting the open border policy with Syrians despite its increasing burdens and the accompanying security challenges, King Abdullah responded during a joint presser with the U.S. President Barack Obama in Amman by saying, “We simply can’t say no to anyone seeking safe haven in our country.”

Not to be taken for granted

In his lecture, Harper said that “although the kingdom is not a signatory to the 1951 Refugee Convention, it has been one of the most generous countries in hosting refugees throughout the years out of a cultural tradition,” warning however that “Jordan should not be taken for granted and forgotten. The international community has provided support, but it does not match the needs.”

On the economic impact of the Syrian refugees on Jordan, Khalid Wazani, a veteran Jordanian economist, who is to publish next month a study on the impact of the Syrian crisis on Jordan, has been also quoted as saying that the direct cost on the budget is $3,500 per year for each refugee.
Wazani added that this is a huge burden on the state budget, which is expected to suffer a $2.32 billion deficit in 2014.

He also noted that the refugee burden places pressure on education, health facilities and infrastructure, including water and sanitation, in addition to exacerbating unemployment with Syrians taking over Jordanians’ jobs.

As was said in the UNHCR report, “Jordan is reeling under the refugee presence, estimating the related cost at more than $1.7 billion so far. In this resource-poor country, the government is paying hundreds of millions worth of additional subsidies to ensure refugees have access to affordable water, bread, gas and electricity. The surge in demand for health care has led to a shortage of medicines, and especially in northern Jordan there is less drinking water available for Jordanians and refugees.”

Risky security concerns

However, for analysts and political commentators, the threat posed by the Syrian crisis on Jordan exceeds the economic dimension to more risky security, political and demographic considerations.

“Demographically, the Syrian crisis is a real risk to Jordan,” said Amer Sabaileh, a political commentator in remarks to Al Arabiya News, citing the geographic closeness between Jordan and Syria and the problems of “civic state and identity” already existing in the kingdom.

“Northern Jordan is geographically part of the Houran Plains that penetrate into all the southern parts of Syrian, including all Daraa [the birthplace of the Syrian revolution], and due to tribal connections between Jordanians and Syrians in the two sides of Houran plains, there will be definitely a borrowed influence,” Sabaileh said.

Many Jordanian veteran politicians, some of them ex-premiers, have once warned against the demographic threat the Syrian crisis poses on Jordan, saying that with the non-stop influx of Syrian refugees into Jordan and with little possibility of an immediate solution to the Syrian crisis, Syrians in Jordan would outnumber the Jordanians.

“There is also another risk related to Jordan being transformed into an inseparable component of the Syrian crisis,” Sabaileh said, adding that “the too much incorporation of Jordan into Syria would make the kingdom’s political scene linked in a way or another to the Syrian regime’s political maneuvering in the ongoing crisis.” In other words, Sabaileh said, “Jordan is being kept like this to be used as a threat by the Syrian regime to the international community.”

Sabaileh also mentioned other threats related to security and terrorism

Jordan is home to thousands of Salafist Takfirists with hundreds of them are said to be joining the radical groups in Syria, including Jabhat al-Nusrah and the al-Qaeda inspired Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.

Recently, Jordan’s State Security Court sentenced a citizen to five years in prison for alleged ties to Syrian jihadist groups, the latest in a series of prison sentences for Jordanians accused of supporting armed Islamist factions in the country.

Threats to Lebanon

On the nature of the political threat posed by the Syrian crisis on Lebanon, Sabaileh said, “Lebanon is a different story.”

According to the U.N. refugee agency, the number of registered refugees from Syria in Lebanon is approaching 1 million and could grow to 1.6 million at the end of 2014 if current trends continue.

“Lebanon already has the highest per capita concentration of refugees of any country in recent history, with nearly 230 registered Syrian refugees for every 1,000 Lebanese, the report said, adding, “That is more than 70 times as many refugees per inhabitants as in France, and 280 times as many as in the United States. The number of registered Syrian refugees hosted in Lebanon would be equivalent to nearly 19 million refugees in Germany and over 73 million in the United States,” the report said.

Sabaileh said: “In Lebanon, the Syrian crisis means primarily the security concern as well as of course the resulting economic burdens,” adding that the political relationship between Syria and Lebanon has been always “problematic and so interconnected and nothing has changed much even after March 2011.”

However, one major reason behind Jordan maintaining its security and stability amidst a turbulent region is the Syrian crisis itself. For many observers, Jordanians’ unwillingness to sacrifice the security and stability of their country for the sake of reform-related matters was the primary reason behind their kingdom escaping the Arab Spring uprisings.

“Jordanians simply are unwilling to see their country becoming like Syria, Egypt and Libya,” said a Jordanian ex-minister who preferred to remain unnamed.

(Source / 15.03.2014)

Al-Sisi wants Fatah-Dahlan reconciliation


Mohamed DahlanPalestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas accuses Mohamed Dahlan of being involved in the assassination of the Qassam leader, Sheikh Salah Shehadi

Egypt’s de facto leader, Minister of Defence Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, has stressed the importance of the reconciliation of Fatah and one of its ex-officials, Mohamed Dahlan. Relations between Cairo and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas have been strained recently due to the latter’s rift with the controversial Dahlan, informed sources told Rai Al-Youm newspaper.The sources revealed details of a conversation between Al-Sisi and Abbas, wherein the PA chief was speaking about Palestinian reconciliation when Al-Sisi interrupted him: “Let’s put aside Palestinian reconciliation and talk instead about Fatah’s internal reconciliation,” a reference to the differences between the movement and Dahlan. Abbas responded by telling the Egyptian coup leader that Fatah “is OK” but Al-Sisi interrupted yet again, telling him, “No, it’s not OK!”

According to the media reports Al-Sisi’s remarks suggested that his message to Abbas was that Fatah needs to reconsider its decision to expel Dahlan. The minister of defence received Dahlan in Cairo recently, sending out a strong signal that the coup regime supports him.

Rai Al-Youm newspaper also reported that one of the reasons for Egypt’s disagreement with Fatah is down to what Nabil Shaath said during a meeting with Hamas leaders in February, when he described the events in Egypt last summer as a military coup. When the Egyptians heard about these remarks they placed Shaath on the list of those banned from entering the country. However, the Fatah official denied categorically that he said anything like that.

(Source / 15.03.2014)

Qatar concerned over human rights violations under the pretext of fighting terrorism

Qatar flag

He also said “loose definitions for terrorism lead to the misuse of the term, which then leads to dangerous violations of international law and international humanitarian law.”

On Friday Qatar expressed “deep concern” over the violation of human rights under the pretext of fighting terrorism and “its use by some oppressive regimes to refute the desire of their citizens to freedom,” an official Qatari news agency reported.

This view was announced in Qatar’s speech at the second meeting of the UN Human Rights Council, which is now being held. The third secretary of the permanent Qatari delegation, Jasim al-Ma’awdeh, made the speech to the Human Rights Council.

Al-Ma’awdeh said that his country “condemns all forms of terrorism whoever it is and whatever their reasons and justification are.”

However he noted that his country “had repeatedly stressed in meetings of international organisations the importance of reaching an agreement that put a specified definition on terrorism.”

He also said “loose definitions for terrorism lead to the misuse of the term, which then leads to dangerous violations of international law and international humanitarian law.”

The Qatari official continued: “This prevents nations from fighting occupation and striving for self-determination.”

(Source / 15.03.2014)

Lebanese government allows citizens to resist Israel

Lebanon’s new government agreed to a compromise policy statement on Friday that fell short of explicitly enshrining the militant group Hezbollah’s role in confronting Israel but which would give all citizens the right to resist Israeli occupation or attacks.

The agreement on the compromise language came after weeks of dispute brought the government to the verge of collapse, and now paves the way for Prime Minister Tammam Salam to put his government to a vote of confidence.

Information Minister Ramzi Jreij told reporters that most ministers had agreed on a compromise statement that declares Lebanese citizens have the right to “resist Israeli occupation” and repel any Israeli attack.

The deal was reached a few hours after Israel’s army fired tank rounds and artillery into southern Lebanon in what it called retaliation for a bomb that targeted its soldiers patrolling the border. No injuries were reported on either side.

The Israel-Lebanon border has been mostly quiet since Israel and Hezbollah fought in 2006, but Israeli forces still hold at least three pockets of occupied territory which are claimed by Lebanon.

“Based on the state’s responsibility to preserve Lebanon’s sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity and the security of its citizens, the government affirms the duty of the state and its efforts to liberate the Shebaa Farms and Kfar Shouba Hills and the Lebanese part of Ghajar through all legitimate means,” the government statement said.

It also “affirms the right of Lebanese citizens to resist Israeli occupation and repel aggressions and recover occupied territory.”

“There exists neither freedom nor sovereignty without the army, people and certainly the resistance,” Industry Minister Hajj Hassan told the Lebanese National News Agency in reaction to the agreement.

Agreement on the declaration paves the way for Salam to put his government to a vote of confidence, almost exactly a year after he was first asked to try to put together a cabinet following the resignation of his predecessor, Najib Mikati.

The declaration reflected a compromise between the Hezbollah-led political coalition, which sought to guarantee Hezbollah’s right to fight Israel and maintain its weapons arsenal, with political opponents who sought to disarm the resistance movement.

Tensions between Hezbollah and its opponents inside Lebanon have been sharply heightened by the civil war in neighboring Syria, where Hezbollah fighters have been battling alongside President Bashar al-Assad.

Jreij said some ministers expressed reservations because the statement failed to spell out Lebanese state control over the military conflict with Israel and because it refers to “resistance,” Hezbollah’s label for its military operations.

A functioning Lebanese government would finally be in a position to pursue an offshore oil and gas exploration license round that was delayed for months by the political deadlock.

Salam has also said he hoped the emergence of the new government will allow Lebanon to hold presidential elections before President Michel Suleiman’s mandate expires in May and also hold parliamentary polls that were postponed last year.

Violence has erupted sporadically in the past year in Lebanon, particularly in the north, and car bombings targeting both security and political targets have increased dramatically.

Security sources said on Friday the death toll after two days of fighting in the northern city of Tripoli between the neighborhoods of Jabal Mohsen and Bab al-Tabbaneh had risen to five.

(Source / 15.03.2014)

Israeli and Egyptian warships shoot at Palestinian fishermen near Egypt’s sea borders


Gaza fishermenSince the ouster of the freely elected Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi on 3 July last year, Palestinian fishermen have been prevented from approaching the Egyptian border for fishing.

On Saturday morning Israeli and Egyptian warships opened fire on Palestinian fishing boats near the Palestinian-Egyptian sea borders, witnesses have said.

The Palestinian local news agency Safa said that witnesses told their correspondent the warships suddenly opened fire on Palestinian fishing boats.

According to the witnesses the Palestinian fishing boats remained under attack until they moved far away from Egyptian borders. No causalities have been reported.

Since the ouster of the freely elected Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi on 3 July last year, Palestinian fishermen have been prevented from approaching the Egyptian border for fishing.

Egyptian marine forces warned the Palestinian fishermen that anyone who approaches the borders would be detained. On the ground, several fishing boats were confiscated and fishermen were arrested.

(Source / 15.03.2014)

Israeli forces detain Palestinian youth at Huwwara checkpoint

NABLUS (Ma’an) — Israeli forces on Saturday detained a young man from the Huwwara checkpoint south of Nablus, locals said.

Local sources told Ma’an that Israeli forces detained Khaled Jamal Hamdan, 18, as he was passing through the checkpoint in the northern West Bank.

Eyewitnesses said that he was transferred to the Huwwara military camp south of Nablus.

An Israeli military spokeswoman did not have any information regarding the incident.

(Source / 15.03.2014)

UN: West of Central African Republic ‘cleansed’ of Muslims


UN: West of Central African Republic 'cleansed' of Muslims
U.N. humanitarian chief Valerie Amos told the council that there are more than 650,000 people internally displaced in CAR due to the conflict, over 232,000 in the capital Bangui alone

Most Muslims have been expelled from the west of conflict-ravaged Central African Republic, where thousands of civilians are at risk of being killed “right before our eyes,” U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres said on Thursday.

Widespread violence in the former French colony has claimed thousands of lives since Christian “anti-Balaka” militias stepped up attacks on Muslims.

“Since early December we have effectively witnessed a ‘cleansing’ of the majority of the Muslim population in western CAR,” Guterres said at a meeting of the U.N. Security Council on the crisis in the impoverished and landlocked country.

“Tens of thousands of them (Muslims) have left the country, the second refugee outflow of the current crisis, and most of those remaining are under permanent threat,” he said.

The council is considering a U.N. proposal for a nearly 12,000-strong peacekeeping force to stop the country from sliding toward what a top U.N. rights official called “ethnic-religious cleansing.” If approved, the U.N. force would likely not be operational before late summer.

“Just last week, there were about 15,000 people trapped in 18 locations in western CAR, surrounded by anti-Balaka elements and at very high risk of attack,” Guterres said.

“International forces are present in some of these sites, but if more security is not made available immediately, many of these civilians risk being killed right before our eyes.”

Guterres said that until last year CAR “was largely a stranger to religious conflict.” But the worsening bloodshed has enabled armed groups to use religion as a pretext for violence.

“The demon of religious cleansing must be stopped – now,” he said.

U.N. peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous told the 15-nation council about the urgent need for U.N. peacekeepers.

“The state has virtually no capacity to manage the massive array of threats it is facing,” he said. “There is no national army and the remnants of the police and gendarmerie lack the basic equipment and means to exercise their duties, while state administration is largely absent throughout the country.”


The European Union is already deploying 1,000 soldiers to join 6,000 African and 2,000 French troops. Those forces have so far not been able to halt the killings and restore stability.

U.N. humanitarian chief Valerie Amos told the council that there are more than 650,000 people internally displaced in CAR due to the conflict, over 232,000 in the capital Bangui alone. Nearly 300,000 people have fled to neighboring countries.

Ladsous said he hoped to include as many of the African contingents as possible in a future U.N. force. U.N. officials have told Reuters on condition of anonymity that few of the African contingents are trained and equipped to U.N. standards.

Ladsous said the initial phase of a peacekeeping operation would have to focus on helping to establish security.

“This will require an initial surge of military personnel and corresponding military enablers,” he said. “Alongside this initial military surge, essential civilian capacities will be deployed, phased in gradually as the situation stabilizes.”

While France supports Ladsous’ call for some 10,000 troops and 1,820 police, the United States and Britain are expected to be less enthusiastic, U.N. diplomats say, because of the relatively high cost of such an operation.

The force will need to be approved by the Security Council. Diplomats said France will submit within the next few weeks a draft resolution to authorize a peacekeeping force in line with U.N. recommendations.

One diplomat present at closed-door consultations on CAR said U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power voiced support for U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon’s call for a U.N. peacekeeping mission in CAR.

Separately, a U.N. commission of inquiry, established by the Security Council in December to probe violations of human rights in the Central African Republic, will head to the troubled nation on Tuesday after gathering in Geneva to meet U.N. human rights officials, U.N. officials said.

(Source / 15.03.2014)

A Reflection: The Fight for Democracy in Egypt

Clashes between Muslim Brotherhood supporters and the army broke out across Egypt last Friday, killing three and injuring dozens. The clashes are the latest in a long streak of violence between Muslim Brotherhood supporters and the police since President Mohamed Morsi was ousted from power in July. The Muslim Brotherhood and its supporters show no sign of backing down and yielding to the interim military government headed by army chief Field Marshall Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

As turmoil, political unrest, and violence continue to escalate in Cairo, we are rarely reminded of the beginning — the beginning of a time in Egypt, that Anthony Shadid, a former reporter for the New York Times who died in Syria in 2012, once coined as an “epiphany”.

“Its hard to describe how momentous it feels when you have a million people in not all that big of a geographic terrain who are together trying to imagine a different country,” Shadid said at a TED-X conference in Oklahoma in 2011.
“What you had here was mostly young people–people using social media, people watching Al Jazeera. You had people trying to imagine or come up with an imagined Cairo, an imagined Egypt. They were telling a government that basically hated them that they were better than the government had portrayed them for so long. I actually spent a night in Tahrir Square once because I was so taken by this moment-by the power of imagination and the power of people to come up with a society that they wanted to be a part of. It was almost like crossing a border. You left an old Cairo — a Cairo that had been immiserated by decades of dictatorship and authoritarianism and you entered a new Cairo and that was the imagined Cairo.”

Shadid’s reflection on his time covering the revolution seems far gone now as the country faces a new political fight — one between the military and the Muslim Brotherhood. But we were reminded of this time especially after the release of The Square, a documentary directed by Jehane Noujaim about the 2011 Egyptian revolution. The film was nominated for an Oscar for best documentary. The film did not win, but it is available for viewing on Netflix.

In some ways, the young revolutionaries featured in the film and those left out, the ones who kick started the 2011 Egyptian revolution, have been largely absent from the conversation.

I met with several of the young men and women who helped organize the Egyptian revolution, who saw their friends die at its birth, and who saw a modern Pharaoh fall at its apex. We met in Cairo before the election of President Morsi in June of 2012. All the interviews in this story are a product of my research and interviewing prior to the election of former President Morsi. It is meant to serve as a reflection and add to an idea Shadid spoke of in 2011:

“That power of that idea of Arabs, of Egyptians, of Tunisians, of Libyans of anyone else saying that we are going to reclaim our destiny, we are going to reclaim our narrative, we are going to set out to establish and build a society that we want to live in is — I think — revolutionary,” Shadid said.

By many people’s standards, the Egyptian revolution has ended. But the country does not look like what the revolutionaries had imagined during those 18 days in Tahrir.

“We reached the square and it was taken over completely. We felt we had the country. It was a beautiful image,” Amr Salama, one of the leading organizers of the marches to Tahrir Jan. 25, said. “There were thousands in the square. The plan to take control of the square had happened.”

Amr and I met in a café off of Talat Harb in downtown Cairo just days before the presidential election. He recounted the nights of Jan. 25th to Jan. 28, 2011. He was visibly anxious. He picked at his nails, scratching his thumbnail with his right index finger. He bounced his Blackberry that rang almost every two minutes, on his knee. He went through an entire pack of cigarettes in just one hour.

“It was a war,” Amr said as he smudged his fifth cigarette of the night into the ashtray. “The attempts to get into the square went on as they fired and we retreated, I don’t remember much after the clashes started other than the people who died and what they looked like.”

More than 800 people were killed in the Egyptian revolution and more than 6,000 were injured.
Tarek El-Khouly, who worked with the April 6 youth movement, said he could not remember one day in particular when they left the square, when they retreated from the streets. He said a part of him feels he is still there. Tahrir Square, he said, is more of a mindset than it is an actual physical place. And it is home for him, as it is home to thousands of other Egyptians.

“The revolution to us means our entire life. We were reborn in Tahrir Square,” he said. “When we go away from it for a while we miss it and want to go back to it.”

El-Khouly said he took the lead in coordinating what became the Revolution Youth Coalition — the group responsible for leading the protests on the 25th.

“The road is paved and there is still hope but people don’t understand, and a lot of revolutionaries who enjoy a great deal of revolutionary purity, don’t understand that the revolution can last for 10 years. It might take 10 to 15 years for it to succeed. Not 10 to 15 years in the square, but back and forth discussions till we reach a democratic society,” he said.

I spoke with El-Khouly in Tahrir as Muslim Brotherhood supporters flooded down Mohamed Mahmoud street toward the square’s center. We watched them pass by. A small boy sat on his mother’s hip. Behind him were three young girls, all of whom are holding their own miniature Brotherhood flags. Tarek did not participate in the demonstration. The square had been taken over by unfamiliar faces — most of them Muslim Brotherhood supporters. More than a year ago the streets belonged to him and his friends who were fighting a battle with the hope that Egypt would one day become a true democracy.

So much has changed since then.

Presidential elections have come and gone. Morsi elected. Morsi ousted. Journalists arrested. Hundreds killed, massacred, at the hands of a military that is still in control of the country. With the recent political chaos in Egypt, media outlets from across the world have been quick to point to the apparent end of the revolution, or that the revolution failed. From the outside, from afar, the current political landscape in Egypt looks as though nothing has changed.

In 2012, revolutionaries still fervently believed there had been change, even if it was not clear. That fervor still presents itself Neda Hafez, who was in the square for the 18-day uprising, said the fear of speaking out against the military, against the government, is gone. The fear has been reversed. The government now fears the consequences of continuing political protest throughout the country.

“Talking about politics was always such a taboo subject before the revolution,” she said.

Revolutionaries are still fighting against military power, and for real democracy. But they want the world to know: they may have left the streets, but they are still committed to their cause. The enemy is still the military.”The military has brainwashed people into thinking the revolution is over,” Neda said. “We are the only ones that should have the last word in saying whether the revolution is over or not.”

The revolution continues, but it continues in fragments. After interviewing revolutionaries from different political factions, it became clear to me that it was not that the revolution had ended, but that cooperation had disappeared.

Amr, Tarek, Ahmed, and Neda all said they remembered the extraordinary amount of compassion and solidarity that existed in the square during the first days of the revolution. Somehow, that solidarity is lost — mixed in with and covered up by an increasing politicized atmosphere. And most of the revolutionaries know it.

“We have made mistakes as youth who belong to the revolution. These mistakes have to do with unity and even on a political level, in regards to offering an alternative during the parliamentary elections and in the presidential elections,” El-Khouly said. “We want to carry out a revolution with all its energy. If the revolution fails then that means that this whole generation fails. It means it does not exist.”

(Source / 15.03.2014)