We could go on. We could mention Deborah Orr in the Guardian, who somehow managed to link events in Cologne to the historical failings of European (and British) criminal justice systems; or Gaby Hinsliff (also, coincidentally enough, in the Guardian) who contrasted the “expensive smartphones” of the assaulted German women with the miserable lives of “young male migrants…scraping by at the bottom of Europe’s social and economic food chain” (query: what’s the Arabic for “with that iPhone she was asking for it”?). Suffice to say that to endure the Krakatoa-like eruption of cognitive dissonance from the feminist left in the aftermath of the obscenity of Cologne was to have a whole new dimension of unpleasantness added to what was an already thoroughly unpleasant ordeal: A bit like being hectored by One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest’s Nurse Ratched during a particularly difficult colonoscopy.


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Ominously, Libya’s chaos is spilling across the region. The country is awash with up to 15 million rifles and other weapons, and a report by the UN panel of experts this month found that “Libya has become a primary source of illicit weapons“. These arms are fuelling chaos in 14 countries, including Somalia, the Central African Republic, Nigeria and Niger. Qatar is helping to deliver Libyan armaments to Syria, where Russian-made weapons bought by Gaddafi’s regime are being given to fundamentalist Islamist rebels.

In what has all the hallmarks of mission creep, a small number of US soldiers are being sent to Tripoli to begin training troops. But a stable future for Libya seems remote, however much the country’s strife is safely hidden away from the headlines. It is dividing along every fracture line imaginable: whether it be ethnic, tribal, regional or political. Most Libyans have failed to even register for upcoming elections.

There is a real prospect of the country collapsing into civil war or even breaking up. Unless there are negotiated settlements to its multiple problems, Libya will surely continue its descent into mayhem, and the region could be dragged into the mire with it.

No wonder western governments and journalists who hailed the success of this intervention are so silent. But here are the consequences of their war, and they must take responsibility for them.

I give such a large quotation because it’s lovely to see Jones worrying about Libya being a source of illegal weapons as though this doesn’t go back to before the little lad was born, as though Libya didn’t turn into the IRA’s main weapons supplier, as though this didn’t extend to being a member of the Axis of Evil WMD-making tyrants – and as though Libya didn’t leave this select club as a result of the Western intervention in Iraq that Jones so strongly opposed.

We’re used to this sort of amoral and cynical banking on the ignorance of the reader from what a friend calls the Justin Bieber of the British left and, as the comments show, he has not underestimated the readership of Comment is Free.

But yes, there will be some consequences of the intervention and some of those consequences will be bad – some will be good, like the eradication of a sadistic, rape-fuelled, torturer state – not that I expect Owen to care very much about this. As a supporter of the Libyan intervention I completely accept this responsibility.

But Jones has never shown any sign of accepting his responsibility for the consequences of his campaigning, and that of others like him: more than 140,000 dead SO FAR, no sign of an end to the violence, all the sectarian division and violence of Iraq but no possibility of removing the tyrant, no possibility of peace, the certainty of genocidal reprisals when Assad regains control, no prospect of the introduction of democracy or the rule of law.


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Israel was hit by 50 missiles today, fired from Gaza just days after a ship carrying a consignment of missiles from Iran, in effect, was captured.

I write this at 21:00 on Wednesday 12th March.

The Telegraph has Cameron in Israel while 50 missiles hit as top story on its front page right now.

The Guardian mentions Cameron’s visit but no missiles, not on the front page, not on the World News Page, nor in the Middle East section nor in the Israel section.

The Independent doesn’t mention the missiles on its front page but does trail a story about a suicide bomber’s brother saying the bomber should receive a VC. Its Middle East page doesn’t mention it, but does mention Israeli soldiers shooting someone at a border crossing.

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From the Guardian’s live blog of the Libyan uprising, which also includes snippets from other plaves of revolt:

3.03pm: Jack Shenker sends this from Cairo, where, America-style, capitalism has grabbed hold of the revolution with both hands.

A few weeks ago, the road from Talaat Harb to Tahrir Square formed the bloody no man’s land between pro-change demonstrators and state-backed thugs, both hurling rocks at each other’s front lines. Today anyone walking this stretch of downtown Cairo has to run through a very different gauntlet: the endless lines of hawkers peddling their own unique brand of protest kitsch. From T-shirts to facepaints, car license plates to martyrs’ pendants, Egypt’s revolution has well and truly been merchandised.

Arab hawkers are America-style?

I think the journalist must know, deep down, that north Africa is home to some of the most commerce-minded people on earth. He can’t have missed the souks. But he just can’t stop himself from regurgitating the meme: ‘Commerce is icky and the Yanks are to blame’.

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Now Wael Ghonim, the Google executive who has risen to prominence in the Egyptian revolution, has offered thanks and support to the Iranian Green revolutionaries:

I would tell Iranians to learn from the Egyptians, as we have learned from you guys, that at the end of the day with the power of people, we can do  whatever we want to do.  If we unite our goals, if we believe, then all our dreams can come true.

Iranians plan to demonstrate on February 14th in support of the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt. After initially hailing the Egyptian democracy movement as an “Islamic” movement, Khameini has gone quiet. In fact, as Potkin says in an email, this “means egg on the faces of the Islamic Republic, STW coalition and Press TV who wanted to claim Egypt’s protests as their own”.

It is also direct contradiction of the contemptible line many on the right have been pedalling, that Muslims need to be governed by authoritarian sadists in order to protect Western interests. As Ross put it, “Egypt shouldn’t be allowed democracy because it will be bad for Israel whom we must support as it is the only democracy in the Middle East.”

That’s scarcely a parody. Here’s Peter Hitchens, flaunting his moral compass:

Even if you don’t like Israel I doubt very much if you want a new Middle East War. And the current Egyptian regime has prevented war in a highly sensitive part of the world for three decades. And Egypt, though less pivotal than it used to be, is a decisive voice in the Arab world. If it abandoned its peace with Israel, and aligned itself with Hamas in Gaza, I think many of us would find out very quickly how important Egypt’s future was to our stability and prosperity.

Here’s one of the tweets that is echoing round Tahrir Square this morning, retweeted hundreds of times by those scary, fanatical Egyptians:

TheThomason Damn girl, you’ve got a Mubarak. (an ass that won’t quit)

People just like us wanting freedom, just like us. Unlike us, they have to risk torture, rape, mutilation and death in their struggles for freedom.

This is as dramatic and significant as the fall of communism in 1989. Like that, it won’t be easy or even – there are still authoritarian regimes in Belarus and, of course, Russia. Saudi Arabia is the best analogue for Russia, the bloated, venomous spider in the middle of a web of fascist organisation and funding that stretches from Algeria to Afghanistan, from Dearborn to  Den Hague. Saudi money would, if necessary, replace American aid, Mubarak knows and this strengthens his obstinacy. Tyrants know they could follow Tunisian fugitive Ben Ali into the refuge Saudi Arabia has offered tyrants and monsters from Idi Amin on.

Tunisia fell easily and with little bloodshed. Egypt stands on a brink, either of freedom or massacre. I think it will be freedom, but it’s impossible to rule out a last vicious swing of the old torturer’s claw.

But Iran is a different matter. There will be bloodshed. There will be torture. Success there will come at a terrible price. A terrible price has already been paid by the women and men of the Green Movement.

But come it will.

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It’s still breaking, but looks like Mubarak is stepping down. An Egyptian army commander, General Hassan al-Roueini,told demonstrators in Tahrir Square: “All your demands will be met today.”

Meanwhile, a study by the Washington Institute reports:

This is not an Islamic uprising. The Muslim Brotherhood is approved by just 15 percent of Egyptians — and its leaders get barely 1 percent of the vote in a presidential straw poll. Asked to pick national priorities, only 12 percent of Egyptians choose sharia (Islamic law) over Egypt’s regional leadership, democracy, or economic development. And, when asked to explain the uprising, the issues of economic conditions, corruption, and unemployment (around 30 percent each) far outpace the concern that “the regime is not Islamic enough” (only 7 percent).

Surprisingly, when asked two different ways about the peace treaty with Israel, more support it (37 percent) than oppose it (27 percent) — although around a third say they “don’t know” or refuse to answer this question. Only 18 percent of Egyptians approve either Hamas or Iran. And a mere 5 percent say the uprising occurred because their government is “too pro-Israel.”…

As for Egyptian views of America, a narrow plurality (36 percent vs. 27 percent) say Egypt should have good relations with the United States. And only a small minority (8 percent) say the current uprising is against a “too pro-American” regime. Nevertheless, half or more of the Egyptian public disapprove of how Washington has handled this crisis so far, saying that they do not trust the United States at all.

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The War Nerd is right, camels are better. Higher off the ground, makes it harder for people to drag you off them. This video shows it well:

You should read the War Nerd:

You can’t help thinking of Ancient Rome when you watch this riot video from Cairo. What you see is humans re-learning the lessons of ancient warfare. And they do it in a matter of minutes! I swear, this video had me more upbeat about the species than I’ve been for a long time. It’s not that we’ve lost our edge, we’re just rusty.

We still know how to do it. First rule: mass wins. You get your side together and stay together. Second: deploy skirmishers. Those are the hotheads throwing rocks about 30 feet ahead of the main mob. They’re to provoke the enemy, absorb the enemy’s first counterstrike. It’s a suicide job, so it’s a favorite in the male age 12-20 demographic.


We’ll never know, unfortunately, because the producers at Al J decided to waste my time by cutting to Ban ki Moon, the Korean who fronts for the UN these days and the man whose bland flat face could put a weasel on speed to sleep. He comes on to say he’s “deeply concerned” about the rioting. Yeah, me too: deeply concerned your little sermon is keeping me from seeing how the Testudo turns out. What’s the point of these sermonettes anyway? Did anybody expent Ban to say, “I rove dese liots! Anybody give me five to one on Mubalak?” We all know it’s his job to tsk-tsk, we get it, why waste riot time on it?


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Yesterday, the leading Egyptian blogger Sandmonkey tweeted this:

This means the regime knows who i am and where I live. My life is now officially in danger. #jan25

Earlier today, he tweeted for people to read his most recent post.

Then, about an hour ago, he was arrested trying to take medical supplies into Tahrir Square. Within a few minutes of his arrest, his blog was taken down. It’s hosted in the USA, so presumably this was the result of pressure placed on him while under arrest.

It was important to him that people read his most recent post. Here it is:

I don’t know how to start writing this. I have been battling fatigue for not sleeping properly for the past 10 days, moving from one’s friend house to another friend’s house, almost never spending a night in my home, facing a very well funded and well organized ruthless regime that views me as nothing but an annoying bug that its time to squash will come. The situation here is bleak to say the least.

It didn’t start out that way. On Tuesday Jan 25 it all started peacefully, and against all odds, we succeeded to gather hundreds of thousands and get them into Tahrir Square, despite being attacked by Anti-Riot Police who are using sticks, tear gas and rubber bullets against us. We managed to break all of their barricades and situated ourselves in Tahrir. The government responded by shutting down all cell communication in Tahrir square, a move which purpose was understood later when after midnight they went in with all of their might and attacked the protesters and evacuated the Square. The next day we were back at it again, and the day after. Then came Friday and we braved their communication blackout, their thugs, their tear gas and their bullets and we retook the square. We have been fighting to keep it ever since.

That night the government announced a military curfew, which kept getting shorter by the day, until it became from 8 am to 3 pm. People couldn’t go to work, gas was running out quickly and so were essential goods and money, since the banks were not allowed to operate and people were not able to collect their salary. The internet continued to be blocked, which affected all businesses in Egypt and will cause an economic meltdown the moment they allow the banks to operate again. We were being collectively punished for daring to say that we deserve democracy and rights, and to keep it up, they withdrew the police, and then sent them out dressed as civilians to terrorize our neighborhoods. I was shot at twice that day, one of which with a semi-automatic by a dude in a car that we the people took joy in pummeling. The government announced that all prisons were breached, and that the prisoners somehow managed to get weapons and do nothing but randomly attack people. One day we had organized thugs in uniforms firing at us and the next day they disappeared and were replaced by organized thugs without uniforms firing at us. Somehow the people never made the connection.

Despite it all, we braved it. We believed we are doing what’s right and were encouraged by all those around us who couldn’t believe what was happening to their country. What he did galvanized the people, and on Tuesday, despite shutting down all major roads leading into Cairo, we managed to get over 2 million protesters in Cairo alone and 3 million all over Egypt to come out and demand Mubarak’s departure. Those are people who stood up to the regime’s ruthlessness and anger and declared that they were free, and were refusing to live in the Mubarak dictatorship for one more day. That night, he showed up on TV, and gave a very emotional speech about how he intends to step down at the end of his term and how he wants to die in Egypt, the country he loved and served. To me, and to everyone else at the protests this wasn’t nearly enough, for we wanted him gone now. Others started asking that we give him a chance, and that change takes time and other such poppycock. Hell, some people and family members cried when they saw his speech. People felt sorry for him for failing to be our dictator for the rest of his life and inheriting us to his Son. It was an amalgam of Stockholm syndrome coupled with slave mentality in a malevolent combination that we never saw before. And the Regime capitalized on it today.

Today, they brought back the internet, and started having people calling on TV and writing on facebook on how they support Mubarak and his call for stability and peacefull change in 8 months. They hung on to the words of the newly appointed government would never harm the protesters, whom they believe to be good patriotic youth who have a few bad apples amongst them. We started getting calls asking people to stop protesting because “we got what we wanted” and “we need the country to start working again”. People were complaining that they miss their lives. That they miss going out at night, and ordering Home Delivery. That they need us to stop so they can resume whatever existence they had before all of this. All was forgiven, the past week never happened and it’s time for Unity under Mubarak’s rule right now.

To all of those people I say: NEVER! I am sorry that your lives and businesses are disrupted, but this wasn’t caused by the Protesters. The Protesters aren’t the ones who shut down the internet that has paralyzed your businesses and banks: The government did. The Protesters weren’t the ones who initiated the military curfew that limited your movement and allowed goods to disappear off market shelves and gas to disappear: The government did. The Protesters weren’t the ones who ordered the police to withdraw and claimed the prisons were breached and unleashed thugs that terrorized your neighborhoods: The government did. The same government that you wish to give a second chance to, as if 30 years of dictatorship and utter failure in every sector of government wasn’t enough for you. The Slaves were ready to forgive their master, and blame his cruelty on those who dared to defy him in order to ensure a better Egypt for all of its citizens and their children. After all, he gave us his word, and it’s not like he ever broke his promises for reform before or anything.

Then Mubarak made his move and showed them what useful idiots they all were.

You watched on TV as “Pro-Mubarak Protesters” – thugs who were paid money by NDP members by admission of High NDP officials- started attacking the peaceful unarmed protesters in Tahrir square. They attacked them with sticks, threw stones at them, brought in men riding horses and camels- in what must be the most surreal scene ever shown on TV- and carrying whips to beat up the protesters. And then the Bullets started getting fired and Molotov cocktails started getting thrown at the Anti-Mubarak Protesters as the Army standing idly by, allowing it all to happen and not doing anything about it. Dozens were killed, hundreds injured, and there was no help sent by ambulances. The Police never showed up to stop those attacking because the ones who were captured by the Anti-mubarak people had police ID’s on them. They were the police and they were there to shoot and kill people and even tried to set the Egyptian Museum on Fire. The Aim was clear: Use the clashes as pretext to ban such demonstrations under pretexts of concern for public safety and order, and to prevent disunity amongst the people of Egypt. But their plans ultimately failed, by those resilient brave souls who wouldn’t give up the ground they freed of Egypt, no matter how many live bullets or firebombs were hurled at them. They know, like we all do, that this regime no longer cares to put on a moderate mask. That they have shown their true nature. That Mubarak will never step down, and that he would rather burn Egypt to the ground than even contemplate that possibility.

In the meantime, State-owned and affiliated TV channels were showing coverage of Peaceful Mubarak Protests all over Egypt and showing recorded footage of Tahrir Square protest from the night before and claiming it’s the situation there at the moment. Hundreds of calls by public figures and actors started calling the channels saying that they are with Mubarak, and that he is our Father and we should support him on the road to democracy. A veiled girl with a blurred face went on Mehwer TV claiming to have received funding by Americans to go to the US and took courses on how to bring down the Egyptian government through protests which were taught by Jews. She claimed that AlJazeera is lying, and that the only people in Tahrir square now were Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas. State TV started issuing statements on how the people arrested Israelis all over Cairo engaged in creating mayhem and causing chaos. For those of you who are counting this is an American-Israeli-Qatari-Muslim Brotherhood-Iranian-Hamas conspiracy. Imagine that. And MANY PEOPLE BOUGHT IT. I recall telling a friend of mine that the only good thing about what happened today was that it made clear to us who were the idiots amongst our friends. Now we know.

Now, just in case this isn’t clear: This protest is not one made or sustained by the Muslim Brotherhood, it’s one that had people from all social classes and religious background in Egypt. The Muslim Brotherhood only showed up on Tuesday, and even then they were not the majority of people there by a long shot. We tolerated them there since we won’t say no to fellow Egyptians who wanted to stand with us, but neither the Muslims Brotherhood not any of the Opposition leaders have the ability to turn out one tenth of the numbers of Protesters that were in Tahrir on Tuesday. This is a revolution without leaders. Three Million individuals choosing hope instead of fear and braving death on hourly basis to keep their dream of freedom alive. Imagine that.

The End is near. I have no illusions about this regime or its leader, and how he will pluck us and hunt us down one by one till we are over and done with and 8 months from now will pay people to stage fake protests urging him not to leave power, and he will stay “because he has to acquiesce to the voice of the people”. This is a losing battle and they have all the weapons, but we will continue fighting until we can’t. I am heading to Tahrir right now with supplies for the hundreds injured, knowing that today the attacks will intensify, because they can’t allow us to stay there come Friday, which is supposed to be the game changer. We are bringing everybody out, and we will refuse to be anything else than peaceful. If you are in Egypt, I am calling on all of you to head down to Tahrir today and Friday. It is imperative to show them that the battle for the soul of Egypt isn’t over and done with. I am calling you to bring your friends, to bring medical supplies, to go and see what Mubarak’s gurantees look like in real life. Egypt needs you. Be Heroes.

UPDATE: It’s now been tweeted that: “@Sandmonkey‘s been released, he’s on his way home. His car has been destroyed and he and friends were beaten.”

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While between one and two million people* demonstrate in Cairo, and hundreds of thousands in other Egyptian cities, Egyptian State Television has its finger on the pulse of the moment. From the Al Jazeera live blog:

5:40pm Egyptian state television, in the last hour, has aired the following segments:

1) An interview with the new prime minister to talk about the makeup and priorities of the new government.

2) A walkaround with Mahmoud Wagdy, the new interior minister, in the New Cairo neighborhood, where he promoted a new initiative, “Police Serving the People”.

* The Guardian reckons one million, Al Jazeera two.

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