Very short this week. We had family over for dinner so I’m getting a late start.
Egypt: Something is very likely to give tomorrow:
Egyptian security forces are preparing to besiege supporters of deposed president Mohamed Morsi who are gathered in Cairo protest camps.
Security sources told Al Jazeera that police would launch action against the protesters early on Monday.
Al Jazeera’s Simon McGregor-Wood, reporting on Sunday from the pro-Morsi Cairo suburb of Nasr City, said that the police action would not be a full-scale assault.
“It will simply be a very comprehensive encirclement of this encampment to try to put the squeeze on,” he said.
“They will let people out, but they won’t necessary let them or vital supplies back in.”
It’d be nice to think that whatever happens tomorrow really won’t be a “full-scale assault,” but the Egyptian government has kind of a lousy track record at this point.
Syria, India, Ethiopia, South Africa, Turkey, and Bahrain below. This turned out to be not so short after all.
Syria: Intense fighting has been going on in Latakia and neighboring provinces, which is significant because Latakia is part of the northeastern Alawite-dominated region that serves as Assad’s firewall should things go badly for him in the rest of the country. The rebels obviously feel confidant taking the fight to Assad’s core provinces, but they’re also openly fighting the Kurds in the northeast, who support Assad in a sort of “lesser of two evils” sense and are surprisingly sensitive about having their women and children (allegedly) massacred by rebel fighters. Earlier in the week government forces ambushed and killed around 70 rebels, probably affiliated with Jabhat al-Nusrah, and through it all Assad’s military keeps firing missiles into areas populated by civilians, I guess because he wants to make the full case for rebelling to anyone who hasn’t rebelled yet.
India: Police engaged in “pitched battles” with Muslim demonstrators in Indian Kashmir demanding independence and the freeing of a jailed separatist leader. Officially it was reported that the protesters were throwing rocks, but it’s unclear if they began throwing those rocks before or after the heavily-armed Indian police chose to being engaging in “pitched battles” with them. Pitched battles, like “rock vs. semi-automatic assault rifle.”
Ethiopia: Amnesty International called on the Ethiopian government to end its “ongoing repressive crackdown on freedom of speech and the right to peacefully protest” with regards to Muslim protests, citing “at least four incidents involving serious allegations of the excessive use of force by security forces against demonstrators” over the 18 months that protests have been going on. Protesters cite government “interference” in religious affairs.
South Africa: Protests in the Protea South area of Soweto turned violent, with police firing rubber bullets at demonstrators throwing rocks and bricks. The protesters are outraged that Protea South still lacks basic services like proper housing, water and sewage, and electricity, even though they’ve been getting promises from government officials that these things would be remedied, since 2010. I mean, if you can’t wait a measly 3 years for your government to put in the sewage system it promised, then you probably deserve to have a rubber bullet shot at you, amirite?
Turkey: New protests broke out this week after several former high-ranking military officials and opposition leaders were convicted and sentenced to prison for plotting to overthrown the Erdoğan government, in a trial that supporters of the defendants are suggesting was rigged. Turkish riot police used tear gas on the protesters, and at this point I have to assume that Erdoğan gets better prices on his tear gas when he buys in bulk. He should just set up misters in public spaces all around the country to regularly hit passersby with a little tear gas. Erdoğan has, of course, “vowed to crack down on any anti-government protests” resulting from these convictions, because Turkish “democracy” doesn’t include little frills like “right to assemble and petition the government” or “freedom of speech.” But, hey, change is on the horizon, maybe?
In his remarks to reporters, Erdogan also said parliament may cut short its summer recess to work on proposals for “democratic reforms.” He did not elaborate.
Of course he didn’t.
Bahrain: With a new round of anti-government protests scheduled to take place on August 14, it seems the Bahraini government has been rounding up “citizen journalists,” who have until now been the only real conduit to the outside world for news about the protests. Bloggers and photographers are being detained, having their equipment confiscated, and even being beaten in custody. Bahrain, as the only Gulf emirate to have seen a major protest movement (and, really, as the only one likely to see one, since the others lack its disaffected Shi’i majority and have been able to buy the contentment of their citizens), is an interesting window into just now repressive and violent these emirs can be and still remain more-or-less under the international radar.