Domino effect: one starts, the rest follow

The anti-government protests in the Middle East continue as residents realize that social change is possible and achievable after Tunisia and Egypt succeed in their fight for democracy.

Tunisia

The beginning of this revolution can be traced back to a brave street vendor who burned himself to death in December. The rest of the protesters rallied over social media networks such as Twitter and Facebook discussing the over throw of their former president.

People gathered on the streets to protest and bring attention to social and political issues. Residents of Tunisia were ruled with an iron fist by Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali for 23 years. Activists in the country were determined to bring democracy and justice to the Arab world.

On January 14th, former president Mr. Ben Ali left the country stepping down from his long reign as dictator.

Egypt

Protests erupted in Egypt in January as tens of thousands of people demanded that Hosni Mubarak step down after ruling the country for 30 years.

Following in Tunisia’s footsteps protestors made plans over Facebook and Twitter. After the government caught wind of this, they had the country in a communication lockdown cutting off their Internet connection in an attempt to stop the protests.

Sick and tired of living under a repression of social exclusion, little to no jobs for the youth and rigged elections, Egyptians continued protesting for 18 days demanding change. On February 11th, Mubarak stepped down handing control to the Supreme Military Council.

Bahrain

Protestors in Bahrain are demanding for King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifah to be removed from power and for Prime Minster Khalifah bin Sulman al-Khalifah to step down.

There has been growing tension between the Shiite population and the al-Khalifah family who is Sunni for some time now with religion and political injustice coming into play.

On February 16th, the people of Bahrain took it to the streets in Pearl Square to rally against the government. Riot police officers responded violently by firing shots, grenades and tear gas into the large crowds.

Protests continue with their demands for the monarchy government to resign and political prisoners to be released.

Yemen

President Ali Abdullah Saleh who has been in power for 32 years said he would not run for re-election in 2013 but protestors are still demanding change. They say that the corruption of the government stunts the country’s attempt to advance their economy and social standings.

Police have attempted to disperse the large crowds by firing gunshots but that has only resulted in the deaths of numerous civilians.

Despite the ten-day protest Saleh is refusing to give in to the demands set out by his people.

Iraq

In various cities in southern Iraq people followed suit and protested but instead of asking their government to step down, they are demanding changes. Growing frustrations amoung residents include the lack of unemployment and public services available. To this day people in Iraq are living without constant electricity and qualified water resources.

Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki addressed the protests blaming some of the problems that Iraq is still experiencing on the previous regime.

He is encouraging Iraqis to stay away from violence and to express their demands in a civilized manner. Maliki is asking residents for time to recover from the war and former dictator government.

Libya

Perhaps the most violent of all protests erupted in Libya on February 16 when a crowd armed with gasoline bombs protested outside a government office. Protestors are demanding the release of a human rights advocate in the capital, Tripoli. They also called for Muammar Gaddafi to step down after ruling as a dictator for 41 years.

Foreign journalists cannot enter and the government shut down the Internet after finding out the use of social networks played a huge role in the demonstrations.

The Human Rights Watch has reported that at least 233 civilians have been killed (if not more) with as many as 200 people injured and 800 wounded after Gaddafi called on the army to take extreme violent measures to stop the protests.

Rumours went around today that Gaddafi had fled to Venezuela but he appeared on state TV reassuring the world that he is in Tripoli.

Book Review

Chain Of Command is Seymour M. Hersh’s eighth book. Hersh is well known for his ground breaking articles in The New Yorker that outraged the Bush Administration. In this book he expands on his findings and reveals information about the 9/11 attacks, the war on terror and the conditions in Abu Ghraib.

Hersh identifies the underlining struggle for power between the United States of American and the Middle East. He examines the reasons behind George W. Bush declaring war on Iraq and where the responsibility lies with what happened at Abu Ghraib.

Hersh started off his career working for the New Yorker. He was one of the first that broke the news of the My Lai massacre at Vietnam which he went on to win a Pulitzer Price for. His article gained so much attention and reduced public support for the war in Vietnam. He is recognized as one of the top investigative journalists in the business. His career has been nothing short of remarkable and successful while still maintaining the respect of his colleagues and readers. I had read his articles that he wrote for the New Yorker about Abu Ghriab way back in 2004 but other then that I was not aware of the amount of success he had reached in his career. Hersh has done countless other work on military and government scandals. He has questioned the administration and exploited many conservative topics.

Back in 2003 when former President George W. Bush announced that the war against Iraq had begun Americans seemed to have followed blindly into the administration’s biddings at the time. Hersh examines closely the war on terror starting from the Abu Ghraib prisoners that suffered under the hands of U.S intelligence. What I found interesting was some of the stories he had from different Army officers that knew about the abuses at the prison and the fact that those reports were ignored by the people that could make a difference. Hersh really emphasize the importance of the chain of command in this book. He demonstrates his understanding of the inner workings of the military and the government. Working in the chain of command means that you are assuming responsibility for your actions that you are expecting your superior to do the same. All the issues seem to have developed when that chain is broken. When the Abu Ghraib prison scandal broke no one was there to take responsibility for the military’s wrong doings. The commander knew what was going on and did nothing to stop it. It is almost like what happened at Abu Ghraib was condoned. Hersh really points the finger as to who he thinks the responsibility lied with and how they failed to take action to fix this major problem that sparked the never ending feud.

Hersh then describes how the Bush administration manipulated intelligence and made the public think that there was a legitimate excuse to go to war. He exposes so many lies used by the administration. Bush also failed to address any of the problems including the lack of weapons of mass destruction, the causalities of Iraqis, Afghans and Americans. Not to mention the millions if not billions of dollars put in the war and the overall devastation of the state of the Middle East.