14 Feb 11. As Egypt’s new military leadership suspended the constitution, dissolved parliament and promised fresh elections, demands for similar political reform swept across the Arab world—from Libya to Iran—following the resignation of President Hosni Mubarak. Egypt’s dramatic moves incorporate many demands issued during the mass demonstrations by doing away with the institutional framework that buttressed Mr. Mubarak’s three-decade rule. But the military’s new road map for governing Egypt in the short term came down by fiat, without input from the political opposition, raising questions about how deeply the military understands the democratic process and the demands of modern politics. Mr. Mubarak’s resignation Friday emboldened protesters throughout the Middle East where opposition movements are aggressively calling for political freedom. Security forces and protesters clashed in Yemen and Bahrain on Sunday while thousands of Algerians, defying a ban on protests, flooded a central square in Algiers on Saturday calling for political reform. The Palestinian Authority in the West Bank ordered the dismissal of its Cabinet and said it would hold long-delayed parliamentary and presidential elections by September. And in Iran, opposition leaders planned a demonstration on Monday in solidarity with the Egyptian and Tunisian revolts. The streets of Tehran rocked to the chants of residents shouting “Death to the dictator” and “God is great” Sunday night, according to witnesses and videos posted on Youtube. Activists are calling for protests in Libya on Thursday, testing whether Col. Moammar Gadhafi’s 42-year regime will be forced to make political concessions. In downtown Cairo Sunday, the armed forces moved decisively to further normalize civilian life. During morning rush hour, squads of military police units rushed into Tahrir Square and broke down the tents of the entrenched demonstrators who have been protesting there since Jan. 25. They also pushed remaining protesters to the square’s periphery, breaking their hold on the area and reopening the road to bustling vehicular traffic. In a possible worrying sign of new instability, hundreds of civilian police officers demanding higher wages, protested in front of the Interior Ministry, the site of bloody clashes between the political opposition and these security forces two weeks ago. The lack of law and order throughout many of Cairo’s dense neighborhoods has become a major worry for many residents, and military leaders met earlier in the day with top internal security officials to agree on a plan to return civilian security forces to the city streets, according to state television. The Central Bank also announced that banks would be closed Monday and Tuesday, due to strikes by some state-owned bank employees and because of a religious holiday. Since taking control of the country on Friday, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces has issued five communiqués which have scrupulously repeated its intentions to bolster democracy in Egypt and restore the stability lost during the nearly three weeks of protests and political upheaval. (Source: WSJ)
11 Feb 11. U.S. Defense Department officials want to draw on the agency’s current resource of overhead-surveillance gear — such as drones, blimps, spy planes and satellites — to protect people from mass atrocities without force, according to a report by Wired’s Danger Room. Under the new initiative called Mass Atrocity Prevention and Response Operations, DOD would keep an eye out for those who commit mass atrocities or plan violent acts against other groups. The project’s surveillance arm is picking up steam because of the efforts of Rosa Brooks, the deputy assistant secretary of defense for rule of law and international humanitarian policy, writes Danger Room. Since the fall she has worked diligently to turn MAPRO into a basic military function.
“A big part of that effort is enlisting military tech to provide early warning about where