In the UN Security Council meeting on Libya on Saturday (26 Feb.) the French put their foot down, and insisted that the violence being carried out by loyalists and agents of the current regime in Libya against the people of Libya must be referred to the International Criminal Court.
UNSC resolution 1970 was adopted unanimously. It also freezes assets of Colonel Muammar Qaddhafi and his children, and imposes a travel ban on approximately 22 Libyans connected to Qaddhafi.
The full implications of this decision will only become clear through time…
Meanwhile, back in Palestine – photos with many thanks to Hope for a Free Palestine — Palestinian police block international and Palestinian protesters at a demonstration in Hebron on Friday 25 February:
This had to have been — it was — coordinated with Israeli security forces…
And, as always, the Israelis take the highest point:
The demonstration called for opening Shuhada (Martyrs) Street, which has been closed for security reasons to protect the Jewish settler presence in the heart of the old city of Hebron, near the immensely important Ibrahimi Mosque…
But of course the demonstration made references to the protests taking place elsewhere in the region — and to the specifics of this place. And it ended with tear gas being shot around the narrow alleyways.
In today’s UN Security Council meeting at UNHQ/NY, Libya’s Ambassador Mohammad Abdel-Rahman Shalgham (until today, apparently loyal to Col. Muammar Qaddhafi, and according to AFP his childhood friend) formally joined his deputy (Ibrahim Dabbashi), and the opposition to the current regime in his country. Shalgham reportedly told the Security Council: “Please, the United Nations, save Libya. Let there be no bloodshed, no killing of innocents. We want a decisive, rapid and courageous resolution from you”. [This was reported in an AFP dispatch published here. The AFP said that Shalgham made references in his speech to Hitler, Stalin and Pol Pot…
In today’s meeting of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, the entire Libyan delegation announced that they represented the people, and not the government of Libya, and they called for a moment of silence in honor of the victims of the violence of the regime.
And, Col. Qaddhafi and his son both gave second speeches today (their second since the outbreak of the uprising this month). I was out and missed them. Hussein Ibish of the American Task Force on Palestine wrote today on his blog here that “Well, he [Col. Qaddhafi] finally came right out and said it: ‘those who do not love me do not deserve to live’. With those words, uttered on Libyan state television today, Libyan dictator Moammar Qaddafi at least rhetorically outdid all his megalomaniacal and mass murdering predecessors including Saddam Hussein, Ceausescu, Stalin and the whole bunch. Anyone who still doubts that this man is ready and willing to visit the utmost bloodshed upon his people simply isn’t paying attention. The question is, is he able? The answer is, at this stage at least, quite possibly”.
Ibish later added this update to his post: “There is now some dispute over whether Qaddafi said ‘those who do not love me do not deserve to live” or “if people do not love me, I do not deserve to live’. Al Arabiya reports the later here. But first-rate tweeters reporter Muna Shikaki quoted him as ‘Qaddafi: ‘those who don’t like me don’t deserve to live’ and Sultan Al Qassemi wrote ‘Gaddafi now in TV “I’m in central Tripoli now. The people who don’t love me don’t deserve to live”.’ Those are two pretty good sources, in my view. Either way, the thrust of the arguments remain unchanged. At UN today, the Libyan ambassador finally abandoned Qaddafi after sticking by him till now in an open dispute with his deputy. With emotions and tears flowing, Amb. Shalqam embraced Sec. Gen. Ban and asked the UN to ‘save Libya, we want quick action, save Libya’. He rightly said Qaddafi’s message to Libyans was if I cannot rule you, ‘I will kill you’. I think that says it all. And there is no dispute that Qaddafi today threatened to turn Libya into ‘a burning hell’.”
The Independent reported that “The beleaguered Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi defiantly appealed to his hardcore supporters to ‘defend the nation’ against an uprising which was last night closing in on Tripoli after thousands of protesters braved gunfire to try to march through the capital. Standing on the ramparts of a fort overlooking the city’s Green Square, Colonel Gaddafi pumped his fist and told 1,000 pro-regime demonstrators: ‘We can crush any enemy. We can crush it with the people’s will. The people are armed and when necessary, we will open arsenals to arm all the Libyan people and all Libyan tribes’. Urging the crowd to ‘retaliate against them, retaliate against them’, the 68-year-old President was shown on state television calling on them to prepare to defend the nation and defend the oil’.” This report, written by a team in Bengazi, is published here.
AFP reported that Qaddhafi said in Friday’s speech: “Sing, dance and prepare yourselves … If needs be, we will open all the arsenals”. The U.S. warmed up to Libya after it gave up its nuclear weapons program (after revelations that it came from Pakistani nuclear scientist and salesman], but reports indicate that Libya still has chemical and biological weapons…
In the UN Security Council today, UN Secretary-General BAN Ki-Moon said that “Colonel Qaddhafi and members of his family continue to threaten the population with civil war… Let us be frank, these remarks… raise grave considerations… I strongly believe that the first obligation of the international community is to ensure (protection)”
BAN also noted that “Today the Human Rights Commission convened in special session… it is the first time that a member of the HRC is the subject of a special session … The HRC today took steps to establish independent commission of inquiry and recommended that the UN General Assembly consider suspending Libya from HRC”
And, he said, “There are also indications of a growing crisis of refugees (since Feb 22, some 22,000 fled overland to Tunisia, and 15,000 to Egypt, but much larger numbers are trapped… And those who managed to cross the border said the journey was terrifying … It is crucial for humanitarian agencies to have access to the border”.
And, BAN said, the UN’s World Food Program is concerned about Libya’s food supplies
In those who can stand it — and especially for those who love these things — here is a UN video of today’s UN Security Council meeting on Libya:
According to a Reuters report published in Haaretz, a six-page draft UN Security Council resolution says that “The attacks against Libyan civilians may be ‘crimes against humanity’ warranting prosecution by the International Criminal Court in The Hague, according to a draft UN sanctions resolution. The text, drafted by France and Britain and circulated to other members of the UN Security Council on Friday, also calls for an arms embargo against Libya as well as travel bans and asset freezes for the country’s top leaders … The 15-nation council has only referred one other case to the ICC – the conflict in Sudan’s western Darfur region”. This Haaretz report is posted here.
Here are some selected Tweets on the situation in Libya over the last working week:
21 February: @marianhouk: Could become one of the most expedited decisions ever taken by UN Security Council – case for humanitarian intervention in #Libya
@marianhouk: To the last man + woman! RT@cnnbrk – Gadhafi’s son: #Libya’s army has been told to restore
security “at any price” http://on.cnn.com/ge2mrQ
@marianhouk: Situation in Libya doesn’t need to be international for UN Security Council action under rarely-used humanitarian imperative resolutions…
22 February: @marianhouk: It was like a music video @RT IvanCNN: Watch Gadhafi’s…strange…pre-dawn appearance with an umbrella on Libyan TV – http://bit.ly/hCZTR7
@marianhouk: The neo-Con right has tried for years to kick #Libya off the UN Human Rights Commission, then Council. This is inadequate to the carnage now
@themoornextdoor – Qadhafi: “….and the punishment is death” this is really all you need to know from this speech.
@lassecgen LAS Council decides to suspend participation of Libyan delegations in all LAS meetings.
@SultanAlQassemi – Abdul Fattah Younis: Gaddafi, that dirty man, wanted to say that I was killed by protesters so that my tribe, the Obeidat will stand by him
@marianhouk: “Greasy rats”! — one of the most disgusting and chilling things Qaddhafi said today, over + over
@marianhouk: Revelations abt Qaddafi murder of Musa al-Sadr and his secret burial ‘n Sebha, then murder of some who knew [n.b. reportedly including Qaddhafi’s personal pilot]: @SultanAlQassimi + @_RichardHall
Today’s Quote of the Day — even though it was uttered some three weeks ago — comes from Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen), who “dismissed the leak of hundreds of secret files on Israeli-Palestinian peace talks as nothing but a ‘boring soap opera’.”
One place you can find this report published is here.
Abbas also said, to adoring crowds convened by his media counsellors and political advisers upon his return from one of many trips abroad: “We know how to respond to it and how to deal with it … We’re not shocked by this nonsense”.
Yes, the Palestinians know how to deal with it… by letting targeted people, who have become inconvenient, hang out to dry, and then settling scores… Done masterfully.
At a meeting of the PLO Executive Committee in Ramallah on Sunday, President Abbas received the report of the investigation committee appointed to look into the Palestine Papers — documents leaked to Al-Jazeera, which prepared a series of programmes in late January detailing shocking behavior in the until-then secret negotiations brokered by the U.S,. first under the Bush Administration in the “Annapolis process”, and subsequently under the Obama Administration.
The documents consisted mainly of staff notes of the sessions prepared by the Palestinian negotiating team, and held by the Negotiations Support Unit (NSU) of the Negotiations Affairs Department (NAD). ¨[Al-Jazeera prepared very wierd dramatic reenactments, using actors to represent the main figures, of meetings held under the Annapolis process]. But, Al-Jazeera also had documents leaked from one or more security offices, and from the office of Prime Minister Salam Fayyad…
The investigation committee report relied in part on security interviews with each and every one of the current staff members of the NSU + NAD. The finger seems to point to one or more former — now disgruntled — staff members.
The investigation committee also made a number of recommendations, including the replacement of the Chief Palestinian negotiator, Saeb Erekat — who then resigned (after it was recommended that he be replaced), as he vowed he would do on the David Frost interview program aired a couple of weeks ago on Al-Jazeera English.
“If these documents were liked from my office, I and I alone will be responsible for that”, Erekat told David Frost, “if it is proven”… By that time, Erekat was apparently very well aware that most of the documents were leaked from his office. So, he added, in his remarks to Frost, “So, I don’t think I will remain Chief negotiator forever”.
Another recommendation of the investigation committee is that the NSU + NAD be disbanded.
Staff are convinced that this will happen, and note that their contracts all end on the same date — 31 March. The current prediction is that some of them will be absorbed into the President’s office — Abbas is the person responsible for negotiations anyway. However, the royal-court atmosphere in the President’s office, and the backbiting among ambitious people already there — combined with their gross incompetence in explaining the Palestinian position on anything — do not bode well for the future.
This does signal. with yet one more masterstroke, the relentless process of collecting and centralizing all the reins of power in the President’s hands….
And, yes, it proves the sharp correctness of Abbas’ words that this really is all (just) a soap opera — but it is much more discouraging than boring.
Current affairs, via a friend in Ramallah who loves the pointed political satire of the Palestine TV Program “Watan 3ala Watar” (“Homeland on a Shoestring”) – which is posted on Youtube here:
We also learn today that Abbas issued a Presidential decree Sunday (yesterday), in which it has now been ordained that “Targeting Qatar over leaked papers over” in response to the Al-Jazeera programs, as reported here.
Oh, and by the way, this Presidential decree also reportedly bans “local media” from insulting Qatar, too… The “local” journalists — and the international ones, too — have been silent so far…
And, today, Prime Minister Salam Fayyad tendered the resignation of his cabinet … expecting to be asked to form a new and more convenient one.
The Al-Jazeera programs on the Palestine Papers ran for five days — the first three days were hard-hitting, then, once it became apparent how seriously the situation was imploding in Ramallah, with some Al-Jazeera staff saying they feared for their lives — days four and five really pulled punches, and withdrew from more explosive revelations.
Almost all these revelations had been already revealed over the past year in the Israeli media.
All a resourceful journalist, like Al-Jazeera’s Clayton Swisher, had to do was to follow the leads, to track down documents that he knew must exist somewhere. He had the financial backing and the resources of Al-Jazeera to do it, and he had the willing and interested cooperation of disgruntled former staff in Palestinian offices and institutions to do it.
However, it has to be said that for a journalist trying to cover all this, it has been very hard indeed. The Al-Jazeera programs ruined any social life and kept one awake late into the night for over a week. Then, this segue-ing badly right into the Egyptian protests centered on Cairo’s Tahrir Square, which confined journalists their computer screens and keyboards for an additional 18-19 days. The effort required endurance, and caused real physical pain, and exhaustion. We badly need a break, some relaxation, a vacation…
Personally, I found then rather reminiscent of the Fahmi Shabaneh expose [about corruption, targetting Abu Mazen’s then-chief of staff Rafiq Husseini] that was only reported because an Israeli TV channel broke the story…
Via Facebook (where else?), a pause for some day-after music, after all-night celebrations in Egypt’s Tahrir Square following Husni Mubarak’s instructions to the Egyptian military to take over running the country…for the time being.
Sawt al-Hurriya (Sout al-Horeya) – from a link shared on Facebook by Abed Alsalaam Abu Askar and Bill Van Esveld:
with Amir Eid – Hany Adel – Hawary On Guitar & Sherif On Keyboards
Tahiya Masr via a link on Facebook posted by Sabeel al-Quds:
And, the anthem of Tahrir Square, Irhal! (Get Out!)
We all want one thing, we are asking one thing: Irhal! Irhal! Irhal! Irhal!
The newly-named Egyptian Vice President (the 1st in 30 years) Omar Suleiman made (read out) a brief announcement on Egyptian State TV just now: “In these hard circumstances, President … Mubarak has [resigned +] instructed the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces to run the country”.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, wrapped up Friday a couple of days visit in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory.
(0Pt = UN terminology, adopted from the 2004 Advisory Opinion of the International Court of Justice on the Wall, which she mentions below).
In a statement to the media, Pillay said “The settlement of Israeli citizens in the occupied Palestinian territory is clearly prohibited under international law. As a result, all State actions in support of the establishment and maintenance of the settlements, including incentives to create them and the establishment of infrastructure to support them, are illegal under international law. They should be stopped altogether. The idea that a partial or temporary halt is a valuable concession in the peace process, to be traded against something else, is turning the law on its head. The annexation of East Jerusalem contravenes customary international law, as confirmed by Security Council and General Assembly resolutions. This has also been recognized by the International Court of Justice. Because of its illegality, the annexation has not been recognized by any State. Under international law, East Jerusalem remains part of the West Bank and is occupied territory. All settlement-related activities, and any legal or administrative decision or practice that directly or indirectly coerce Palestinians to leave East Jerusalem, including evictions, demolitions, forced displacements and cancelation of residence permits on a discriminatory basis, should be halted and restrictions on access to East Jerusalem by other West Bank inhabitants should be lifted…”
Today’s protests in Egypt were to be Jumua Sumud (Steadfastness Friday, in honor of those fallen in over three weeks of protests demanding freedom and democracy). but after Egypt’s President failed to announce his departure, as had been widely expected, they are now being called “Farewell Friday“.
In his speech on Thursday night, Husni Mubarak announced “in a speech from the heart, from a father to his children” that he had just (earlier in the day) “proposed amendments” to articles 76, 77, 88, 93, and 189 of the Egyptian constitution, and “annulment of article 179” (which, he said, “aimed to protect the nation against terrorists” (it is the basis for the State of Emergency).
This, Mubarak said, would “clear the way” to removing the Emergency Law “once the security situation is ensured”.
A few minutes later, after praising himself, Mubarak said “I have seen it is required to transfer powers to the Vice President”.
[CNN’s Wolf Blitzer reportedly asked Egypt’s Ambassador to the U.S. if Mubarak could take back his powers whenever he wanted — but got no answer]
Mubarak also vowed, in his stat “I will not separate from the soil until I’m buried beneath it”…
Here is an old photo (I took it on 24 June 2008) as Egyptian President Husni Mubarak’s small executive jet (in middle background) arrived at Sharm ash-Sheikh for a bi-annual summit meeting with Israel’s then-Prime Minister Ehud Olmert:
Despite fears of violence and bloodshed overnight, it appears to have passed relatively calmly — the military avoided confrontations with the angry protesters who were furiously disappointed that Mubarak had not clearly announced his resignation.
Just after Mubarak’s statement, Egypt’s Vice-President called on protesters to go back to their homes, and to go to work… but that did not happen. Many thousands stayed overnight in Tahrir Square, while others went to surround the State TV studios, and to other governmental buildings. Many protesters in Alexandria said they were headed to a military headquarters.
Reports Friday morning say that Mubarak may now be in Sharm as-Sheikh, and that the military will make an “important announcement” before Friday prayers (which are due to start within the hour)…
UPDATE: At 11:00 pm, five hours after schedule, Egyptian President Husni Mubarak made his third pre-recorded speech to the nation. However, he did not step down, as had been expected. In one brief sentence that almost passed without notice, he delegated powers to the Vice President he appointed two weeks ago, intelligence chief Omar Suleiman. An, he said he had just proposed amending several articles [76, 77, 88, 93, 189] of the Egyptian constitution, and the annulment of another article  which, he said, would “clear the way to abolishing the Emergency Law”, once the security situation was ensured. Mubarak also said he would not be separated from the soil until he was buried beneath it.
Earlier this week, Egyptian human rights activist Hossam Baghat [founder and executive director of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights] said, in an interview on Amy Goodman’s Democracy Now! radio program on 7 February: “Look, the consensus amongst everyone is right now that the solution can only begin with [Egypt’s President Husni] Mubarak stepping down. Now, there are some differences, technical differences, about, you know, whether he should resign fully, immediately, or whether he should step aside by delegating all of his powers to the vice president, like he did when he was hospitalized in 2004 and later in 2010, and then, in a couple of weeks, resign once we have ensured that we the provisions that are necessary for a meaningful presidential election. I am of the view that if Mubarak is to resign immediately, then it is 100 percent certain that Omar Suleiman will be elected within 60 days as president for a full presidential term of six years. That is not a prospect that would satisfy me as an advocate for democracy and human rights and someone who wants to see a real end to three decades of Mubarak rule. And Omar Suleiman’s succession will unfortunately be a continuation, in my view, of the Mubarak regime and the violations perpetrated under Mubarak. So I am of the view that Mubarak must immediately step down by delegating all of his authorities to his vice president, that we need within a couple of weeks to put to a public referendum some amendments of the constitutional provisions to make sure that we can have free and fair presidential elections”.
The Palestinians who broke the barrier of fear against the Israeli occupation in the first and Second Intifadas haven’t yet broken it by revolting against our own Ramallah’s dictatorial and oppressive regime. But the Palestinians have heard the voice of the revolution coming from Egypt.
Our corrupt PLO factions, our mercenaries, our security forces trained by Americans and Israelis to oppress our own people and our so-called civil society stand in the camp of the enemy.
What’s the next step?
The next step is to break up the barrier of fear with all dictators and collaborators.
I send my message from the occupied Jerusalem in Palestine to those who do not understand, or they do not want to understand, that the thunderous Egyptian Revolution is heard by the millions of the Arabs living in Africa and Asia expanding from the Arab Gulf to the Atlantic Ocean.
I shout in my loudest voice: we’ve heard you, and soon you will hear from us.
There is no doubt that the Egyptian revolution will steadily and firmly move on every inch in the Arab world sweeping up all dictators and collaborators including our chief collaborator in Ramallah, simply because Egypt is the leader of the Arab nation in peace and war, in revolution and submission, in democracy and dictatorship.
This explains the attempts by the worried Americans and Israelis to save the dictatorial regime in Egypt; they want an Egyptian government to continue even without its dictator. They try to deceive the Egyptians and push them to accept cosmetic changes to the repulsive regime.
But their attempts wouldn’t succeed.
I’m not exaggerating, because the dictator and his gangsters stand alone facing the 84 million Egyptians, the American fleet which is now in front of Ismaililya would not scare them and wouldn’t be able to save the regime. It is impossible to defeat the millions who are now in the streets and the squares of Egypt.
Yes, Egypt, all Egypt, the face book’s youths, the old generation, the women, the Middle class, the intellectuals, the employees, the workers, the farmers, the unemployed, the residents in the cemeteries are in a dynamic revolutionary state against the regime, its dictator Muhammad Hosni Mubarak, its government, its security forces, its corporate business mafia, its political parties, its 20 TV and Radio stations, its mercenaries and thieves.
Yes, Egypt, the leader of the Arab world is dusting out the garbage of the tyranny on its face; Egypt is propelling the profound water stored in the aquifers of the seven thousand years old civilization.
I tell those politicians who still live in the past age before the January 25th revolution of anger, those leaders in America, Israel, and the West; I tell those Arab and non-Arab dictators that the mom ent of the truth has come.
I tell them that the Egyptians, after two weeks of continued protests by the millions have finished writing the first two chapters in their revolution, which is the first revolution in the 21ist century that the Tunisian has the honor of writing its prelude, last December.
“Bread, freedom and dignity” were the first three words written in the chapter which is tweeted up by Wael Gonim and other hundreds of twitters on January 25th, 2011, which marks the police day, calling on the masses to demonstrate in the Cairo’s streets. The few hundred protestors who rushed onto the streets clashing with the security forces have quickly grown up to 10,000, then 20,000, and 30,000.
On the next Friday, the Interior Minister who couldn’t act without the green light from the dictator ordered the Security Central Forces to open fire on the masses which demonstrated peacefully, killing and wounding hundreds of people marching and praying on Sitteh October Bridge.
That was the beginning of the comprehensive revolution; now the ground-breaking genie energized by the three decades of oppression and frustration and thuggish deeds practiced by the Mubarak regime is gaining the momentum, shaking up the Mubarak family dictatorship.
The Egyptians have shattered the barrier of fear in the week of anger and expanded their revolution horizontally and vertically in the week of departure.
We are waiting for the third chapter in the third week of martyrs.
This article has also been published on the website of BikyaMasr, here.