|Southwest Asia News Digest
Egyptian Mass Strike Smashes Sectarian Warfare Operation
March 11 (EIRNS)In answer to the obvious British operation to destroy Egypt with chaos and violence, Egyptian sources report that huge demonstrations in Cairo and Alexandria took place today, to show total unity between Muslims, Christians, and all religions. One million demonstrators amassed in Tahrir Square, with thousands of them holding up crosses and Korans side by side to protest against sectarian violence between Muslims and Coptic Christians the previous week, that left 13 people dead in two incidents. A parallel demonstration took place in Alexandria.
"Muslims and Christians are one," was one of the chants of the Tahrir demonstrators, and banners showed the Christian cross and the Islamic crescent intertwined. Yesterday, the military government met with top representatives of the Coptic Christians, to give assurances that religious tolerance is the policy of the government and Christians will be protected.
Sheikh Muzhir Shahin from Omar Makram mosque in Cairo, who delivered today's Friday sermon in Tahrir, warned against following those who want "to incite sectarian tensions and waste the gains of the revolution," by attempting to drive a wedge between Muslims and Christians. Shahin "expressed deep sadness at attempts to pit Egypt's Muslims and Copts against each other," and called on the Egyptian government to oversee the collection of Muslim donations to rebuild the church in the village of Sol in Atfeeh that had been destroyed by thugs. Shahin said that there are "hidden hands that are trying to ruin the nation," and Christians must protect mosques as Muslims must protect churches, said Shahi.
Coptic Pope Shenouda III was in the U.S. for medical treatment when the violence broke outreportedly triggered by a family feud in the poor area of Helwanand he has been calling Coptic priests from the U.S., telling them to bring calm to the community.
EIR's Egyptian sources report that the attacks on the Christians comes from Salafi (fundamentalist radical Muslims), and also from the Mubarak security apparatus used against the demonstrators in February.
The huge Friday unity demonstrations were organized by the youth coalition that led the Tahrir protests since January.
Qaddafi Emissary in Cairo: Is the End Near?
March 9 (EIRNS)A top Libyan general, still loyal to Muammar Qaddafi, arrived in Cairo on March 9 for deliberations with the Supreme Military Council, prompting speculation that the Libyan dictator may be seeking Egyptian mediation for a deal to relinquish power, in return for guarantees that he will not be prosecuted at The Hague and will be allowed safe passage out of Libya with his family and at least a portion of his wealth. The growing prospect of international recognition and military aid to the rebels has reportedly caused internal dissent in the Qaddafi family and coterie in Tripoli.
According to a senior U.S. intelligence source, there were internal rumblings against Qaddafi from Army and security units in Tripoli, and a possible assassination attempt against the Libyan leader over the previous weekend. However, the source indicated that Qaddafi now appears to be in firm control over the military and security forces in and around the capital city, which is his last secure stronghold.
There are still reported splits in both NATO and the Arab League over a no-fly zone, with Germany among the European NATO countries still opposing such a direct military intervention, with the Obama Administration still split, and with Britain, France, and Italy all pressing for immediate military intervention. According to a Pentagon source, a U.S.-led no-fly zone would cost American taxpayers $10 million per day, and would not guarantee that the rebels would be able to defeat Qaddafi's forces. The source emphasized that it were far better to provide arms and other support to the rebel forces. Such an international support operation could tip the balance within the Qaddafi inner circles, and prompt a negotiated departure of the Qaddafi clan. Syria and Algeria oppose outside military action, and support the idea that Qaddafi is still the legitimate ruler of Libya, while other Arab League countries would like to see him ousted by negotiated agreement.
A former top U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency officer on the Middle East indicated that the deployment of Libyan Maj. Gen. al-Sayed to Cairo is likely aimed at getting Egyptian mediation for a negotiated departure of Qaddafi; however, the Libyan dictator will try, in the coming days, to defeat the insurgency as a way to strengthen his bargaining position before foreign military aid and recognition of an interim resistance government tilts the balance decisively.
Saudis Adopt British Divide-and-Rule in Bahrain, Yemen
March 11 (EIRNS)As Saudi citizens have begun to come out and protest against the high level of unemployment and an oppressive rule of the House of Saud, reports indicate the Saudis are involved directly in trying to suppress protests in Yemen and Bahrain.
At the same time, Asharq Al-Awsat, a Saudi news daily published from Britain, said Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal has declared that Saudi Arabia will "cut off any finger" raised against it, warning that "as for [foreign] interference in the internal affairs of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, we completely reject this, as we do not interfere in the internal affairs of others."
The Saudis' British-like duplicitous role is being exposed in neighboring Yemen and Bahrain. A Yemeni opposition leader, Riadh Hussein al-Qadhi, went public, saying Saudi Arabia is collaborating with intensifying efforts by Sanaa (the Yemeni capital), to suppress outraged masses across the country that have been calling for ouster of Yemen's unpopular ruler. He said, "We blew the cover off the Saudi intelligence apparatus, which interferes in Yemen and cracks down on the people. Yemen's [ruling] system has lost all its support and aces in the hole, whether tribal, racial, and sectarian." Dozens of people have been killed and hundreds more have been injured in government-ordered armed attacks on anti-regime protests.
Saudi Troops in Bahrain; Bahrainis See 'Occupying Force'
March 14 (EIRNS)More than 1,000 Saudi troops, as part of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) contingent have entered Bahrain, ostensibly to cow the protesters, who are out on the street protesting against poverty, high unemployment, and injustice. The GCC is the six-member regional bloc consisting of Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, and Oman. All six of them are undergoing mass protests as of now.
Members of Bahrain's opposition today appealed to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon for protection. The opposition described the deployment as an "occupation."
Saudi Arabia: Silent Masses Refuse To Be Silent
March 11 (EIRNS)Although a massive show of force kept pro-democracy protestors off the streets in Riyadh, the Saudi capital, today, about 500 protesters took to the streets in the eastern city of al-Ahsa, calling for the release of prisoners held without charges. In addition, the protesters have announced that they are planning to hold demonstrations in at least 18 cities across Saudi Arabia, including in the city of Mecca, home to Islam's holiest site. The previous day, at least three people were injured when police fired to disperse about 600-800 protesters in the eastern oil-rich city of Qatif, demanding the release of nine Shia prisoners.
In Sanaa, Yemen, tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets across the country today, demanding resignation of President Ali Abdullah Saleh. At Sanaa University, the launch pad for protests in the capital, Yemenis flooded the streets, even cramming into tiny alleys. The demonstrations followed the proposal by Saleh, a U.S. ally, for a new constitution to be put to referendum within the year and new electoral laws to ensure equal representation. Opposition figures called the offer "too little, too late."
In Kuwait, riot police in protective gear fired tear gas today to break up a peaceful 200 protestor demonstration by stateless Arabs who were demanding greater rights in the oil-rich Gulf nation. The demonstrations followed protests held on March 8 by several hundred Kuwaitis demanding the removal of the prime minister.
In Iraq, some 500 protesters turned up in Baghdad's Tahrir Square and about as many in the city of Fallujah west of the capital. Iraq's government has been shaken by a string of rallies across the country since the beginning of February, inspired by uprisings that forced out the presidents of Tunisia and Egypt. Iraqi protesters were carrying banners saying "No to unemployment; Yes to jobs."
In Jordan, about 150 protesters went into the streets of the capital Amman following Friday's Muslim prayers. The marches defied an edict by the country's religious leaders not to demonstrate. Chanting "We want to change constitution," about 150 students, independents, and leftists marched.