The Centre for the Documentation of Violence in Syria has published figures concerning the number of people killed in the repression. Data is updated to January 8th 2012 and indicates 6,062 dead, of which 4,923 were civilians and 1,139 were soldiers and police officers. The civilians are said to include 496 minors and 149 women. According to the international organization Avaaz, which also recently published a report on detention centres in Syria, 6,237 people have been killed. The High Commission for Refugees has reported that about 7,000 Syrian refugees have fled to Lebanon and 7,600 to Turkey.
Freedom and Democracy
The revolutionary atmosphere is everywhere in Tunisia. According to some, the real revolution has only just begun, and in the widespread chaos, there are many who have clear ideas both about the future and about Tunisia’s identity. It is sufficient to glance at Facebook, where on many ‘walls’ one can read messages such as: “We are Muslims not Islamists.” “We are moderates and not extremists.” “We dream of democracy.”
“Major combat operations in Iraq have ended. In the battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed. And now our coalition is engaged in securing and reconstructing that country.” It was May 1st 2003 when, speaking these words on board the USS Abraham Lincoln, President George W. Bush declared the end of military operations in Iraq and began to talk about security and reconstruction. So-called reconstruction soon revealed its darker aspects: car bombs and sectarian clashes, Abu Ghraib and a still impassable Green Zone surrounded by a T-wall.
The rain was pouring down on a crowd of thousands of people who gathered at Chiysty Prudy on December 5th during an unprecedented rally in Russian history for its scope and scale. For the first time since the early 1990s, protesters challenged Putin’s power as his new rule as President could enable him to stay in power until 2024. The number of demonstrators in street rallies has grown approximately to 100,000. Mostly political activists, professionals and intellectuals expressed their dissent as a result of alleged falsifications during latest parliamentary elections, though suspected frauds were only the last trigger. Since he took power in 1999, it seems that Putin has not changed his politics: a Leviathan’s deal of order over democracy. Meanwhile, many Russians have changed.
The prospects look increasingly dire for the protesters of Tahrir square, who are still insisting on an immediate transfer of power from the military establishment to a civilian government. Once that the elections are successfully taking place, their criticism of the electoral process has largely isolated them and diminished their credibility. They now face the preposterous accusation, by Prime Minister Ganzouri, of being "counter revolutionary", that is to oppose the transition to democracy (as engineered by the SCAF, naturally!). The very harsh repression they had to suffer on December 16th and 17th at the hands of the military (not only of the police!) seems to underscore this point. The leadership of the Muslim Brothers has condemned the repression perpetrated by the Egyptian military, but one may doubt about the restraining effect it might have achieved. One may therefore conclude that, after the first round of voting there are two winners; the Islamists and the SCAF, and two losers: the liberal/secular movement, and the would be heirs of the Mubarak regime.
On December 5th, attended by 85 countries and 16 international organizations, the International Conference on Afghanistan was held in Bonn. The summit was held exactly ten years after the Taliban regime was defeated and also a decade after another diplomatic conference was also held in the former western German capital. At the time, the foundations for the transition were established and a road map created that led to the formation of a new government and representational institutions in Kabul, as well as the drafting of a constitution and a judicial system following thirty years of conflict, dictatorships and destabilization, from the 1979 Soviet invasion to the fall of the obscurantist regime instituted by the Koranic scholars. “Bonn II” instead yielded no great results.
Many Egyptians in the past few days have complained they did not know who to vote for. They were informed neither by the media nor by the same political parties that should have represented them. Some asked for advice from their own families, others from friends. Others arrived at the polling stations and asked party members who were there. Many Muslim Brotherhood members had desks where voters could get information on how to vote.
The Kurdish conflict has re-emerged as a key issue in Turkey. On October 19th the Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK, inflicted an extremely violent attack on the Turkish state, killing 24 soldiers (the highest number of victims in the past few years) in the southeast. The AKP government’s reaction to the event was extremely harsh. Turkish President Abdullah Gül promised to “reduce to the same tears” those who had carried out the attacks. And that is what happened. Ankara launched a massive attack not only in Southeast Turkey but also across the border into northern Iraq, where the Turkish governments says Kurdish separatists take refuge and organize their attacks.To understand the recent flare-up in the conflict and its links to Turkey’s constitutional re-writing process, Resetdoc spoke to Professor Ferhat Kentel, a sociologist at Sehir University in Istanbul.
The main issue is the military’s role in Egypt’s future political arrangement, which will not be resolved by the elections. Egypt remains, at least until a new constitution is approved, a presidential and not a parliamentary republic and the new legislative bodies will not be able to choose a government, the third one so far, which is about to be appointed by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF). The new constitution remains burdened with a “constitutional declaration” with which the current military leadership would like to not only guarantee the state’s secular status, but also its own supremacy under the nation’s new constitutional laws.Some data for Egypt's general election
The fact that Egypt does not have a president ensures that the army will continue to govern after parliamentary elections, because the current system ensures that the government and prime minister do not respond to parliament, but directly to the president, an appointment currently held by the army. Beyond facile promises, between parliamentary elections and drafting the new constitution, the presidential elections should be held in a year, but in the meantime the army will continue to exercise its power.
Civil society has many roles to play in the few months and years to come in order to keep the democratic momentum in the country, and also keep conviction alive among the youth that democracy is a national need. Democracy does not need regimes; regimes need democracy because it is their only way to stay abreast of the legitimate aspirations of their people and be responsive to them. The highly dynamic and active Moroccan civil society can help in implementing the new constitution and protecting this achievement through: playing their role of watchdog, doing more grassroots activism against corruption and political malpractice, spearheading the political cultural change, fighting all forms of abuse of power and advocating for social justice in the country.Photo by Vesna Middelkoop (cc)