The recent uprisings in protest of Syrian President Baszar al-Assad, which began in May 2011, have now cost the lives of almost 10,000 people according to human rights activists. The international community, however, has not been quick to respond to the situation in Syria. Despite this high death toll, Russia and China, both longstanding allies of the Syrian regime, have twice previously voted in opposition to a United Nations Security Council resolutions condemning the Syrian regime, before acquiescing and signing a recent UN resolution this week.
Syria’s primary international ally, however, remains Iran. The depth of this relationship was revealed by email exchanges recently attained by hackers who gained access to Assad’s personal emails this past week. These emails revealed high levels of coordination between the two countries, especially recent advice given to President Assad on the best methods for controlling the Syrian media and squashing the uprisings.
Israel's survival depends on its military hegemony in the Middle East to keep it safe. A nuclear Iran changes that calculus, and not necessarily by threatening Israel with nuclear annihilation. It is the prospect of an Iran that is emboldened, emboldened to use its proxies in Lebanon and Gaza to terrorize Israeli civilians in the North and South and an Iran that is emboldened to threaten America's Arab allies in the Gulf, which will lead them to pursue their own atomic weapons. The prospect of a power shift in the Middle East and the arms race that might ensue in the Arab world has the international community most frightened.
“Power to the people
Power to the people
Power to the people, right on
Say you want a revolution
We better get on right away
Well you get on your feet
And out on the street
Singing power to the people”
With waves of revolution convulsing across the Middle East and North Africa, a new era of democracy seems to be dawning. Oppressed peoples living under the heel of various despots are courageously standing up against the machinations of dictatorship and demanding their long withheld human rights.
The Jacob Blaustein Institute for the Advancement of Human Rights (JBI) welcomes today’s historic consensus decision by the UN General Assembly to suspend Libya’s membership in the Human Rights Council.
Today’s vote is unprecedented; never before has a state’s membership in any UN human rights body been suspended.
The resolution calling for Libya’s suspension was co-sponsored by more than 60 states that supplemented the original sponsors Botswana, Jordan, Lebanon, Nigeria, and Qatar. In introducing the resolution, Lebanon emphasized that the General Assembly’s action is procedural, exceptional and temporary, and that the General Assembly may review and change its decision to suspend Libya’s membership in the Council at a later date, perhaps following a change in government. Link to UNGA Resolution
Following the demise of Mubarak's authoritarian rule in Egypt we can see two important developments unfolding amongst Scandinavian media and decision makers: firstly, there is unanimous support for the success of the Egyptian people in their fight for democracy.
The determinative role of the military, giving its blessing for recent developments and, even more importantly, shaping the future of Egypt with the formulation of a democratic constitution, is by large not scrutinised, as focus is being placed on the power of the populace in shaping their own future. Secondly, when discussing a regional context, no references are made to Israel and its democratic tradition. An underlying reason could be that there has never been any public criticism directed against the lack of democracy or personal freedoms in Egypt, in vast contrast to attitudes towards Israel, a country frequently being portrayed as a violator of human rights and international law.
Back in 2005, when I was working in Cairo as a journalist, I covered the early Kifaya demonstrations – billed as the boldest and most brazen series of protests against President Hosni Mubarak in his 30-year reign. Those protests attracted less than a thousand people. How times have changed.
Watching the early protests two weeks ago, I was skeptical at first – little reason to believe that these would end any differently than the ones I covered five years ago. But I seem to have been proven wrong. Glued to my television set (or, more accurately, my computer screen), I have been exhilarated by the courage, persistence, and dignity of the Egyptian people.