The rumblings of a popular discontent threatening to overthrow the 30-year-old autocratic government of Egypt’s President Hosni Mubarak is being acutely felt in China whose communist dictators fear that the uprising could fuel calls for reform at home. The word “Egypt” has now joined the rank of censored or blocked terms on the internet in china, according to the AFP, the Wall Street Journal online (WSJ), and numerous other media services Jan 31.
The WSJ report said the Chinese authorities appeared to have censored the word “Egypt” on Twitter-like microblogging sites in the country. Almost all of the comments posted beneath the few limited reports on the unrest—mostly from the state-run Xinhua news agency—that have been published on Chinese news sites in the past few days had been deleted by Jan 30, it said.
The report noted that the strict online controls illustrated the Communist Party of China’s concern that the Internet was providing China’s citizens with a new means of information and organization that could challenge its monopoly on power, as had happened with other authoritarian governments in recent years.
The report said China’s state media had provided limited coverage of the unrest in Egypt, including the scores of reported deaths, the cutting of Internet and cellphone access, and president’s appointment of a vice president. The AFP report said these stressed the lawlessness in Egypt and the need for order – echoing calls by China’s foreign ministry – and Beijing’s plan to send two chartered jets to Cairo to bring home more than 500 stranded Chinese.
Government officials yesterday claimed that life in Cairo was returning to normal, after two weeks of action that has paralysed the city. State TV said that banks and courts would reopen today, the start of Egypt’s working week, though daily bank withdrawals would be limited to $15,000 and the stock market would remain shut, at least until after tomorrow.
Jitters about the impact of the unrest on the economy of both Egypt and the region were not eased yesterday when an explosion ripped through a gas terminal in Egypt’s northern Sinai Peninsula, setting off a massive fire that was contained by shutting off the flow of gas to neighbouring Jordan and Israel. Supplies are expected to be hit for at least a week. While Israel has other sources of power, and Jordan is believed to have substantial reserves, the sense that Egypt’s fragility can reach beyond its borders will add to the anxieties.
Traders are worried that the unrest might spread to oil-producing countries in the region and even affect shipments through the Suez Canal. Egypt is not a major oil producer, but it controls the canal and a nearby pipeline. Together these carry about two million barrels of oil a day from the Middle East to customers in Europe and the United States. Several large Egyptian refineries near the canal have been the site of recent protests.
At least 45 people have been killed in twin suicide bomb attacks targeting Shia Muslim pilgrims near the Iraqi city of Karbala. More than 170 people were injured in the blasts, with the death toll likely to rise. The first attack struck Karbala’s northern outskirts, while the second blast occurred about 15km south of the city.
Two cars parked outside the checkpoints to the city exploded at the same time. The blasts occurred on two routes being used by pilgrims travelling to the city to take part in the Shia festival of Arbaeen, which marks 40 days since the anniversary of the death of the 7th century Imam Hussein.
Earlier on Thursday, a roadside bomb was detonated among a crowd of Shia pilgrims at the Al-Rasheed vegetable market in southern Baghdad, killing one person and wounding nine, while another such blast in a central Iraqi town killed one and injured three.
In another incident, a suicide bomber blew up an explosives-packed car outside a police office in Baquba, central Iraq. Police say three people were killed including a traffic policeman.
The bomber detonated his payload at around 10:00 am local time (0700 GMT) on Thursday, just a few blocks away from the site of a large suicide car bomb attack against another security agency on Wednesday.
Although violence in Iraq has dropped sharply since its high point three years ago, the country is still plagued by small-scale attacks that have kept the nation on edge and raised doubts about the capabilities of its security forces
The annual pilgrimage, banned under Saddam Hussein, is expected to draw as many as 10 million people this year to the city of Karbala over 10 days. Shiite cleric Moktada al-Sadr has offered help to security agencies in protecting Shia holy places free of cost. But, US and Iraqi agencies are not willing to take the help as Mahdi’s Army of Sadr as it acts independently and sometimes conflicts with US and Iraqi forces. Many think that Al Qaeda and former members of Saddam Hussein’s Baath Party were behind the attacks on the pilgrimage.
Sources: NYTimes Carbombing in Karbala
Four months of rioting brought down one of the most authoritarian leaders in the Arab world, Tunisian President Zine al-Abedine Ben Ali, Friday. And many – from Arab analysts to average citizens – believe this may mark a turning point in the Arab World.
After two decades of unaccountable leadership, Tunisians suffered from an increasingly unbearable degree of poverty, unemployment, widespread corruption and injustice at the hands of the powerful state security. On Friday they showed the world they’d had enough. But, unfortunately, their plight is a common one shared by the majority of citizens across the Arab world.
Many in the region stayed glued to satellite channels Friday watching as Tunisian riot police beat and kicked demonstrators and shot tear gas canisters into crowds. They watched as injured demonstrators were carried away by their colleagues, as the prime minister announced that Ben Ali was no longer in power, and as anchors tried to determine exactly where Ben Ali had fled.
And many viewers outside Tunisia pondered what lessons their leaders took away.
“I think it has made governments around the region aware that uprising and revolution can happen in the world. It is a wake-up call for some. Definitely after what happened in Tunisia, things will not be the same as before,” Gamal A
Source: World Blog – Tunisia: a ‘wake-up call’ for Arab leaders.
– No doubt that the south Sudan referendum, set for Jan. 9, 2011, would not be the decisive cure for a ten-year tensed relations between north and south Sudan, but it could be a tip of an iceberg of other issues awaiting this African country.
Observers and analysts believe that Sudan in 2011 would face great challenges, particularly if the referendum resulted in separation of the oil-rich region which constitutes a quarter of Sudan’s total area.
“Great security, political and social challenges are expected to arise after the referendum that could negatively affect on stability of Sudan, both in its north and south,” Dr. Mohamed Zulnoun, a Sudanese lecturer of political science, told Xinhua.
Indian Ambassador to the United Nations Hardeep Singh Puri has been elected Chairman of the all important Security Council Committee on counter-terrorism and two other key committees of this 15-membered body.
A formal announcement in this regard will be made on Wednesday, sources told PTI after the conclusion of silent procedure during which there was no challenge to India being elected as Chairman of these three important UNSC committees.
The governor of Pakistan’s powerful Punjab province was shot dead Tuesday by one of his guards in the Pakistani capital, apparently because he had spoken out against the country’s controversial blasphemy laws, officials said.
The killing of Salman Taseer was the most high-profile assassination of a political figure in Pakistan since the slaying of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto in December 2007, and it rattled a country already dealing with crises ranging from a potential collapse of the government to Islamist militancy.
The suspected killer was taken into custody, and there were conflicting reports as to whether he was wounded.
Taseer was a member of Bhutto’s Pakistan People’s Party and a close associate of President Asif Ali Zardari, Bhutto’s widower. The governor was vocal on a range of subjects, and frequently used Twitter to get across his views.
The two were arrested in October while interviewing the son of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, 43, sentenced to death by stoning for adultery.
German foreign minister Guido Westerwelle and footballer Franz Beckenbauer were among the signatories.
On Saturday, Ashtiani said she planned to sue the German journalists.
She told reporters at a news conference in the north-western city of Tabriz that the journalists had “embarrassed” her, but did not elaborate.
Iran on Wednesday accused the United States, Britain and Israel of being involved in the deadly suicide bomb attack in the country which left 39 killed and more than 50 others wounded.
The attack occurred in front of the Imam Hussein mosque in southeastern port city of Chabahar on Wednesday when people gathered for a mourning ceremony on the religious occasion of Tasua, local satellite Press TV said.
Tasua is commemorated by Shiite Muslims, marking the eve of the day when Hussein ibn Ali, the grandson of Prophet Muhammad, was killed.