Arab Spring

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Arab Spring refers to the democratic uprisings that arose independently and spread across the Arab world in 2011. The movement originated in Tunisia in December 2010 and quickly took hold in Egypt, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, and Jordan.

The term was previously used beginning in March 2005 by numerous media commentators to suggest that a spin-off benefit of the invasion of Iraq would be the flowering of Western-friendly Middle East democracies.


The Tunisian Revolution, or Jasmine Revolution, began on Dec. 17, 2010 after Mohammed Bouazizi, a 26-year-old Tunisian man, set himself on fire in front of a local municipal office. According to Aljazeera, earlier that day, Tunisian police confiscated his cart and beat him because he did not have a permit. He went to the municipal office to file a complaint, where workers there ignored him. Bouazizi then set himself on fire. [1]

Small scale demonstrations then began in Sidi Bouzid, Bouazizi’s hometown, and spread throughout the country. According to Aljazeera English, "Bouazizi's act of desperation highlights the public's boiling frustration over living standards, police violence, rampant unemployment, and a lack of human rights.”

Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali became president of Tunisia in 1987 and “tried to calm the situation by promising more freedoms, including a right to demonstrate, and announcing that he would not seek re-election when his current term ends in 2014. (In his last election, in 2009, he received 90 percent of the vote).” [2]

According to Aljazeera English, “A UN investigative panel reports that at least 219 people were killed during the uprising against Ben Ali, a figure it says is likely to rise. Another 510 Tunisians were injured, according to Bacre Waly Ndiaye.” [1]

On October 24, 2011, the moderate Islamist party Ennahda emerged as the victor in elections for a constitutional assembly. Ennadha began to engage in talks with liberals in hopes of forming a unity government. The party claims to have "a greater commitment to the principles of Western-style liberal democracy than any other Islamist party in the region," and has "repeatedly pledged to promote equal opportunities in employment and education as well as the freedom to choose or reject Islamic dress like the head scarf."[3]

Since their election, the Islamist party Ennahda has tightened censorship, being accused of clamping down on national media. [4] The arrests of two Tunisian artists reignited protests. Human Rights Watched has called on Tunisian authorities to drop all charges on the artists.


Early Stages

Following the Jasmine Revolution in Tunisia, Egyptian activists organized a demonstration on Janaury 25, Egypt’s Police Day, to protest the Emergency Law, unemployment, poverty and Hosni Mubarak’s government. Police day, a national Egyptian holiday, celebrates the 50 officers killed on Jan 25, 1952 by the British in Ismailia, Egypt. This sparked anti-British protest leading to the Free Officers taking power in Egypt.[5]

The protests began in Cairo, Egypt and spread throughout the country. According to Aljazeera’s Timeline, the protests gained more strength when widespread strikes happened throughout the country. Jack Shenker, writing for the Guardian, described downtown Cairo as a “war zone” filled “with running street battles.”[6] According to Wikipedia, pro-Mubarak supporters escalated the violence when they rode on camels and horses into Tahrir (Liberation) Square. The Mubarak government tried to crush protest with armed forces and plain-clothed supporters and when those tactics failed, state media depicted the protesters as foreign agents. The government also targeted foreign journalists and human rights workers. However, during the Protests, Muslims and Christian Egyptians demonstrated unity, and, according to Wikipedia’s timeline, Muslims protected Christian demonstrators during Sunday service.[7] Mona Seif, an Egyptian woman interviewed by Aljazeera, said, "There was one Egypt inside Tahrir and another Egypt outside."[8]

Protests in Egypt portrayed more than political will, Aljazeera Correspondent Fatima Naib, said. “Egyptian women, just like men, took up the call to 'hope.' Here they describe the spirit of Tahrir -- the camaraderie and equality they experienced -- and their hope that the model of democracy established there will be carried forward as Egyptians shape a new political and social landscape.” [8]

On February 11, 2011, Hosni Mubarak resigned his presidency and handed power to the army. The New York Times described Hosni Mubarak as “Egypt’s modern pharaoh,” spending almost 30 years in office.[9] He would be sentenced to life in prison on June 2nd, 2012 by an Egyptain court for his role in the killing of unarmed protestors. [10] Human Rights Watch reported "302 people have been killed since the start of Egypt's pro-democracy uprising. Based on visits to a number of hospitals in Egypt, the organization says that records show the death toll has reached 232 in Cairo, 52 in Alexandria and 18 in Suez.” [11]

Social Media

Facebook pages such as “We are All Khalid Said,” Twitter, BlackBerry Messenger and blogs were tools people in Egypt used to exchange information globally. In an article in Ahram English, an Egyptian Newspaper, “By themselves, SM do not cause popular uprisings, demonstrations and revolutions. After all, this technology is to be found everywhere (though certainly with restrictions in some places), but we do not live in a world of constant global revolt.” [12]

The Ahram article adds that "if protest movements access significant numbers of people, for any opposition event, they can somewhat confidently act on their political motivations and challenge the state.” These outlets provide organizers and people a safe space to organize and potentially gain more support. [12] Google Executive Wael Ghonim developed the Facebook page “We are All Khalid Said” after an Egyptian Activist killed by the police. The Facebook group helped organize over 100,000 people to protest on Egypt’s Police Day, originally the Facebook page aimed for 50,000 people to protest. [13]

According to Aljazeera English, on Jan 27 people reported disruptions to their Facebook, Twitter and BlackBerry Messenger service. The disruption to internet service lasted until February 2, but internet services were “partially restored in Cairo after a five-day blackout aimed at stymieing protests.”[14] The use of social media to intensify the protests is a contested one. According to Mary Botarri, writing for PRWatch, "In the end, we may discover that the old-fashioned Friday prayer service was the critical vehicle for educating and mobilizing the great unwired. But Facebook appears to have played an important role in mobilizing the younger, more urban and wired classes, giving them the comfort of an online community and making it safer to take collective action.” [15]


On March 20, the interim military government held elections to garner where Egyptians stood on amendments concerning electing a leader. According to the New York Times, “Voters were asked to either accept or reject eight constitutional amendments as a whole —- all of them designed to establish the foundations for coming elections. Most addressed some of the worst excesses of previous years —- limiting the president to two four-year terms, for example, to avoid another president staying in office as long as Mr. Mubarak. The amendments were announced Feb. 25 after virtually no public discussion by an 11-member committee of experts chosen by the military.”[16] According to the New York Times article, some people argue that “early elections would benefit the Brotherhood and the old governing party, which they warned would seek to write a constitution that centralizes power, much like the old one.” [16]

According to Human Rights Watch, the ruling Egyptian generals may be trying to avoid holding Egyptian soldiers who were involved in death of more than 20 Coptic Christians accountable for their role. On October 9th 1,000 Christians attempted to "stage a peaceful sit-in outside the state television building." The protesters were assaulted and some were "crushed by a speeding military vehicle." The government has thus far denied any military involvement in the deaths. [17]

On November 29th, 2011 Egypt held parliamentary elections in the midst of widespread violence and unrest. In the days prior to the election, thousands of protesters violently clashed with the interim-military led government. Many protesters argued that demands from the original protests against Mubarak at Tharir square had yet to be addressed, leading protesters to question the legitimacy of the elections. Voters were urged by protesters to boycott the elections, and many liberal candidates suspended their campaigns, arguing that elections should be delayed to allow opposition candidates more time to organize their campaigns. [18] The elections nonetheless took place as scheduled. The Islamist parties claimed an astounding victory early, receiving 65% of the total vote. The more moderate Muslim Brotherhood got 40% of the vote, whereas ultraconservative Salafi groups got 25%, allowing for the formation of a Islamist majority coalition. The Islamist parties are said to have enjoyed a decisive organizational advantage in light of their well-established base of support that was developed during the Mubarak years. The liberal parties were comparatively newer and less organized, and were thus less able to stage an effective campaign. The strength of the Islamist coalition is expected to grow stronger as more votes are counted from rural, more conservative areas of Egypt. The final vote tally will not be completed until two more rounds of voting have occurred. [19]

On December 20th, 2011 hundreds of women took to the streets of Cairo to protest the military governments brutal treatment of female protesters. The demonstration took place in front of a government office complex in Tahrir Square, the scene of violent clashes that led to the death of at least four demonstrators that day. [20] This was the fifth day of violent clashes between security forces and demonstrators, that resulted in the death of 13 people and left hundreds wounded. med Morsi has won Egypt's presidential runoff. Morsi won by a narrow margin over Ahmed Shafiq, the last prime minister under deposed leader Hosni Mubarak. The commission said Morsi took 51.7 percent of the vote versus 48.3 for Shafiq.

On June 24, 2012, Egypt's election commission announced that Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohamed Morsy won the run-off Presidential election with a margin of 3.5 percentage points, taking in 51.7 of the total and defeating former general Ahmed Shafik. [21]


The uprising in Libya instantly became violent when the Libyan government reacted harshly towards peaceful protests. On February 18, three days after the protests began, the country erupted into an armed conflict when protesters executed policemen and men loyal to Colonel Muammar Gaddafi for killing protesters. [22]

According to Aljazeera English, the Libyan government, on February 19, used artillery, helicopter gunships and anti-aircraft missile launchers to kill protesters. The government’s forces also opened fire on people attending a funeral for those killed in the protests. Aljazeera reported 15 people killed in the incident.[23] Social media sites were used to organize people, however, on Feb 18, the Libyan government imposed restrictions on the internet.

On March 17, the United Nations passed a resolution allowing member states to take the “necessary measures…to protect civilians and civilian populated areas under threat of attack.” Then on March 29, 40 nations and international entities convened in London and decided to push forward, “with the NATO-led aerial bombardment of Libya's forces until Gaddafi complied with the U.N. resolution to end violence against civilians.” [22]

The BBC reported that NATO and American forces are mainly striking from the air and Libyan rebels are, “split between pro-Gaddafi forces controlling the capital Tripoli and the west, and rebels controlling Benghazi in the east.” [24] As a result of the territory clashes, several thousand people have been killed. People are also fleeing Libya to neighboring countries and the UN estimates at least 335,000 left the country. [24]

Col. Qaddafi was in power since 1969, making him the longest-serving ruler in Africa and the Middle East.[25] Throughout the recent protests, Gaddafi continues to hold onto power. According to Aljazeera English, “critics dismissed his leadership as a military dictatorship, accusing him of repressing civil society and ruthlessly crushing dissident.” The move to attack civilians has cost Gaddafi many of his close advisors and military. Reuters reported soldiers defecting to support protesters and because they refuse to shoot on their own people. [26]

On October 20, 2011 Qaddafi was killed by rebel fighters in his hometown of Surt. [27] He was found in a "large drainage pipe after a NATO air assault destroyed part of his convoy." Rebels were shown "manhandling" Qaddafi following his capture in video footage subsequently released. In response to demands from the international community, a "commission of inquiry" has been created by the interim government to inquire into the circumstances surrounding Qaddafi's death. Anti-Qaddafi-fighters have been accused of perpetrating "arbitrary arrests and torture" as well as "extralegal killings." Though rebel leaders have promised to prevent atrocities by their soldiers, the interim government may be limited in its ability to carry out a thorough investigation. [28]

General National Congress elections took place on July 7th, 2012. These were the first free national elections in Libya in 60 years. [29] On July 17th the High National Election Committee announced Mahmoud Jibril's National Forces Alliance, had taken 39 out of 80 seats and was therefore the majority party. The Justice and Construction party recieved 17 seats and third was the National Front Party with 3 seats.[30]<


Protests in Jordan began late January and escalated on March 25 when one man died of a heart attack and over 100 protestors were injured. The protests in Jordan differ from Tunisia and Egypt because they don’t want to oust their monarch, much of the dissent is centered around economic issues such as the defecit and inflation. A Jordanian man, interviewed by the Washington Post, said, "I cannot imagine the country without the royal family. They strike a balance between the people and the government. I trust them." [31]

The main goals of the protests were to lower food prices, amend the electoral law- free and fair elections, ending government corruption and a responsible and representative government. King Abdullah in return dissolved the parliament and removed Prime Minister Samir Rifai. The King also met with opposition groups and expressed his readiness to address the grievances and demands of the people. [32]

The protest draws more concern for the monarchy than reckless individuals. According to Al Jazeera, “The Jordanian government is specifically concerned about rising calls for the establishment of a constitutional monarchy, which would entail reducing King Abdullah’s powers so that the king would no longer appoint or dissolve governments or disband parliaments - prerogatives he seems reluctant to give up.” [32]

Lamis Andoni writing for Al Jazeera said, “the protests appeared to be intended to split the population by appealing to fears of the supposedly Palestinian-dominated Brotherhood among Jordanians of East Bank descent. And in so doing it has succeeded in deepening an already simmering crisis and further undermining social cohesion within the country.”[32]

Palestinians in Jordan constitute more than half of the country’s population “and this dynamic partly explains why Jordanians have shied away from calling for regime change; for the Hashemites are widely seen as guarantors of stability in the face of Israeli extremists’ calls for the establishment of a substitute Palestinian state in Jordan,” said Andoni. [32]

On October 17th, King Abdullah II fired his government in an effort to expedite the process of political reform. The previous government was accused of dragging its feet on reform measures. King Abdullah II would appoint prime minister Awn Khasawneh, who was formerly a judge at the International Court of Justice. [33]

Prime Minister Awn Khasawneh would resign on 26 April 2012 without any clear explanation. [34] In a letter to Awn Khasawneh, King Abdullah II complained that "achievements so far are far less than what is required and way below what we expected." [35] After accepting Khasawneh's resignation, King Abdullah immediatley appointed former Prime Minister and Chief of the Royal Court, Fayez Tarawneh, as current Prime Minister.


The protests for democracy, influenced by other regional upheavals, erupted in Bahrain on Feb 14. The movement, like many others, began online. Almost 30 people were killed since the beginning of the protests and according to Reuters, “Bahrain has stepped up arrests of cyber activists and Shi'ites, with more than 300 detained and dozens missing since it launched a crackdown on pro-democracy protests…” [36]

The equivalent to Egypt’s Liberation Square, Bahrain’s Peal roundabout became the symbol of the uprising says Reuters. The protesters are calling for more political freedom, but the protests hit on sensitive gulf issues because it is dominated by Shi’ite Muslims. According to Reuters, “Bahrain’s largest Shi'ite opposition group Wefaq accepted Kuwait's offer to mediate in talks with the government to end the political crisis.” Troops from Saudi Arabia have also intervened to cool the uprising. [36]

On April 5, President of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, called for Saudi troops to leave the protesters alone and to leave Bahrain, “where they are helping a Sunni monarchy put down a Shi’ite-led protest movement demanding equal rights and a political voice.” [37]

Bahrain is a "key middle eastern ally" for the US. This strong relationship between Bahrain's ruling regime and the United States has resulted in a "relatively muted" response from the United States to the ongoing protests. In October 2011, for example, the U.S. State Department failed to "directly condemn" Bahrain's government for its egregious sentencing of 20 doctors involved in the protests. [38]

Five opposition parties have formed a coalition denouncing Sunni reign and demanding a "transition to a constitutional monarchy." They issued what they referred to as the Manama Document on October 12th, which declared that the "ruling Khalifa party should "govern without powers" in a constitutional monarchy." [39]

May 15 Palestinian Protests

Along with popular protests from neighboring countries, Palestinian youth and supporters called for a protest against Israeli occupation on May 15, the day Palestinians consider the Nakba (Catastrophe). Protests began on the borders Israel shares with Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, Gaza and the West Bank.

Social Media

Months before the protests, the Facebook group The Third Palestinian Intifada began organizing Palestinians within the territories and the diaspora. The group was shut down after the Israeli government and Jewish Organizations in America petitioned the Facebook administration. According to the Huffington Post, Jewish groups felt the content on the group’s page had “crossed the line from free speech to violent incitement.” Before the group was shut down, it accumulated over 300,000 Facebook “Likes.” [40] According to the AP, “Since its removal, several other pages with of the same name have been created – each attracting only a few hundred "likes" apiece.” [41]

The backlash from Jewish groups raised questions whether “Facebook should be used to facilitate some popular uprisings but not others, and even whether Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg has lost touch with his family's Jewish roots.” [42]


Before the May 15 protests began, protests in Jerusalem turned violent when Israeli soldiers were injured by a Molotov cocktail and several Palestinians were injured by rubber bullets. Earlier that day, Milad Ayyash, 16, was shot in the stomach by Israeli soldiers in the East Jerusalem area of Ras Al-Amud. Protests intensified on May 15 when Palestinian refugees in Syria, Gaza and Lebanon held demonstrations on the Israeli border. Protesters on Syrian and Lebanese borders managed to enter into Israel. Israeli soldiers cracked down on the protesters killing 20 and injuring hundreds.[43]

The Egyptian military halted buses heading for the Egyptian and Israeli border town of Rafah. However, over 1,000 Protesters in Egypt demonstrated outside of the Israeli embassy in Cairo. The protest began peaceful and intensified when demonstrators rushed towards the entrance of the embassy. Egyptian soldiers responded by launching tear gas into the crowd and shooting rubber bullets and live ammunition. [44] In Jordan, over 500 protesters headed towards the Israeli border, but were cut off by Jordanian police before they could reach the border. [45]

Obama Supports 1967 Borders

In President Barack Obama’s May 19 speech, he said that Palestine “should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps so that secure and recognized borders are established for both states” and “the Palestinian people must have the right to govern themselves and reach their potential in a sovereign and contiguous state.” [46]

However, Obama’s balancing act ignored many vital issues such as the status of Jerusalem, the right of return and the Hamas and Fatah unification government. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu flatly refused Obama’s statements stating the 1967 lines are “indefensible and would leave major Israeli population centers in Judea and Samaria beyond those lines.” The “Israeli population centers” are commonly referred to as Israeli settlements in the West Bank. [47]

Saudi Arabia

Similar to Jordan, protests in Saudi Arabia are directed towards more freedoms than ousting the monarchy. The protests, in comparison, are relatively small ranging from 100 to 4000 people. However, King Abdullah, according to Aljazeera, “has tried to head off unrest in the kingdom with a series of economic reforms ... [which] include housing subsidies; unemployment benefits; and a programme to give permanent contracts to temporary government workers. State employees will receive 15 per cent raises.” [48]

The protesters are calling for “an elected "consultative council"; an independent judiciary; and a serious anti-corruption push.” [48]They are also calling for Saudi Arabia to pull their troops from Bahrain. According to Reuters, the protests, like the ones in Bahrain, have been "staged in the city by minority Shi'ites, who complain of discrimination at the hands of the Sunni majority." [24]

On September 25, King Abdullah "granted women the right to vote and run in future municipal elections." The move was surprising because Saudi Arabia is known for its widespread stifling of women's freedom. Saudi women have traditionally been not been allowed to drive and are required to be accompanied in public by a male chaperone. The move was view by Saudi women largely as a response to the Arab Spring spreading across the Middl East. The decree, however, will not enter into effect until 2015. [49]


Protests in Syria, though on a small scale, faced harsh retaliations from the government. The protest began in January after another young man lit himself on fire and groups began organizing on social media sites. They picked up speed on March 16 with a small group of protesters, but security forces quickly and violently ended them. [50]

On March 18, three people were killed in what Wikipedia referred to as “the most serious unrest to take place in Syria for decades” and then on March 25, a group of 100,000 protesters took to the streets of Daraa. [51] Human Rights Watch reported that, “the total number of demonstrators and bystanders killed since anti-government protests began in Syria on March 16 to at least 100, according to lists compiled by Syrian human rights groups.” [52]

The protesters are calling for freedom, human rights and the end to the emergency law. In efforts to calm protesters, President of Syria Bashar al-Assad dissolved the government in Daraa, where the protests originated. Al-Assad is looking to replace the emergency law with a new anti-terrorism law. The emergency law in Syria has been in place since Al-Assad came to power in 1963. The Emergency law bans oppositional parties. [53]

On October 24, 2011 Robert S. Ford, the U.S. Ambassador in Syria, left the country in response to "threats to his safety." Ford's prescence had stirred controversy because of his frequent criticism of the repressive policies of the Syrian government. He also paid a visit to the city of Hama, which has been the site of large demonstrations by Syrian protesters and "attended a funeral for a slain activist." [54]

As of October 2011, the crackdown by the Assad regime has resulted in the loss of at least 3,000 lives according to estimates by the United Nations. [55]

On November 27, 2011, the Arab League imposed broad sanctions in Syria to punish the government for its continuing crackdowns against its citizens. The sanctions were levied in response to Syria's failure to allow Arab League observers into the country to monitor the government's adherence to a peace accord that Syria had signed just three weeks earlier. Provisions of the sanctions include prohibiting commercial transactions with the Syrian government, a travel ban on Syrian government officials, the freezing of Syrian assets in Arab countries, and a ban on transactions with Syria's central bank. This type of action against an Arab League member state was unprecedented.[56] Shortly after the Arab League announced the sanctions, Turkey also moved to impose its own sanctions. [57]

As of September 21st, 2012 the situation in Syria has escalated into an ongoing civil war that has claimed over 29,000 lives [58] and has left over one million displaced.

Helpful Resources

Reuter's Factbox:

Aljazeera's Timeline:


Anti-government rallies hit Yemen

According to Al Jazeera English, the go-to source for hard-hitting news on the Arab Spring, the uprisings in Yemen began on January 27, 2011.[59] 16,000 citizens lined the streets of the capital city of Sanaa, calling for an end to the 32 year-long rule of Ali Abdullah Saleh[60] The original protests were inspired by the uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia. The protesters chanted things such as, "Enough being in power for [over] 30 years," and, "No to extending [presidential tenure]. No to bequeathing [the presidency]."[61] As Mother Jones explained, Yemen is the poorest country in the world, which also serves as a fuel for anger for the Yemeni people.[62]

Saleh returned to Yemen on September 23, 2011 after having been hospitalized in Saudi Arabia for nearly four months due to severe injuries suffered during an attack on his presidential compound. His return spurred violent confrontations between those still loyal to Saleh and the forces of dissident Gen. Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar, whose forces controlled much of the capital. The general claims that Saleh "intends to ignite a civil wart hat would bring down the whole country and have repercussions on the whole region and on world peace.” [63]

On October 21st, 2011 The United Nations Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution supporting a deal in which Yemen's president would receive immunity in exchange for a "transfer power to his deputy and end escalating violence." President Ali Abdullah Saleh has been "accused by many Yemenis of pushing the country toward civil war by clinging to power despite massive protests, the defection to the opposition of key tribal and military allies, and mounting international pressure to step down." [64]

U.S. Complicity in Oppressive Conditions

As Mass Uprising Threatens the Saleh Regime, A Look at the Covert U.S. War in Yemen

Despite the fact that Saleh is a brutal dictator, he is also a great ally of the United States, akin to the former U.S.-Egypt relationship with Hosi Mubarak. The Wikileaks diplomatic cables, also known as Cable Gate,[65] showed that Saleh, in a cozy relationship with David Petraeus, opened up the country for the U.S. to attack his own people. The cable from the January, 2010 meeting with Petraeus "agreed to a have U.S. fixed-wing bombers circle outside Yemeni territory ready to engage [Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula] targets should actionable intelligence become available."[66] It was described as an "open door" to attack Yemen and in the meantime, stoking the fire domestically and deceiving his own people in order to unite under his rule, blamed the launching of cruise missiles on "rebel forces." Yet, the truth is that Saleh agreed to let Americans bomb his country and agreed to continue lying about it.[67]

Baumann puts it this way: "Yemen's citizens are the poorest in the Arab world, and Yemen, for all its talk about being a republic, is a particularly nasty dictatorship, complete with the usual secret police and torture and general repression. The U.S. role in Yemen is also extremely controversial and shouldn't be underestimated as a contributing factor in the uprising against Saleh. Would you support a ruler who agreed to let another country bomb your country and then lied about it?"[62]

Baumann pieced together a well-researched, one-stop shop articled titled, "What's Happening In Yemen Explained" that can be seen here.

A thorough documentation of the Wikileaks revelations of the U.S. covert war in Yemen can be seen in Jeremy Scahill's December, 2010 article titled, "WikiLeaking Covert Wars":

Jeremy Scahill: "The Dangerous US Game in Yemen"

Dangerous U.S. Game In Yemen

In a March 30, 2011 article, Scahill explained that there are roughly 300-500 members of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) in Yemen. He explained that AQAP is not the real threat for Saleh, but the uprisings are, and the AQAP threat is "the gift that keeps on giving" for him. Scahill highlights that post-September 11, 2001, "President George W. Bush put Yemen on a list of potential early targets in the 'war on terror;' he could have swiftly dismantled Saleh's government despite Saleh's pre-9/11 declaration that 'Yemen is a graveyard for the invaders.' But Saleh was determined not to go the way of the Taliban, and he wasted little time making moves to ensure he wouldn't."[68]

Saleh proceeded to board a plane to the United States in Nov. 2001 -- during that trip, Bush and Saleh crafted an agreement through which U.S. Special Operations troops would deploy to Yemen and create a "counterterrorism camp" run by the Central Intelligence Agency, the Marines, and Special Forces. They were (and still are) housed in Camp Lemonier, located in Djibouti.[69] Not too long thereafter, the Joint Special Operations Command set up camp there to begin a campaign of targeted assassinations of so-called terrorists and members of Al Qaeda.

Numerous targeted assassinations have gone awry, with scores of Yemeni citizens having been killed. While the assassinations unfurled, over 60 documented Al Qaeda attacks on Yemeni soil took place. Scahill wrote, quoting a former senior counterterrorism official, "When Al Qaeda starts creating problems in Yemen, the US money starts flowing." A direct correlation can be drawn between increased terrorist attacks and the U.S. covert presence in Yemen, but money keeps flowing into Yemen nonetheless to do more of the same.

In April 2009, General David Petraeus, then head of U.S. Central Command, "approved a plan developed with the U.S. Embassy in Sana, the CIA, and other intelligence agencies to expand US military action in Yemen...Though Petraeus paid lip service to the cooperation between the United States and Yemen, he was clear that the United states would strike whenever it pleased." Petraeus also issued an order known as a Joint Unconventional Warfare Task Force Execute Order, which served as a "permission slip of sorts for special-ops teams.[70]

Scahill: US wages covert war in Yemen

Numerous instances of "collateral damage" have taken place during this operation phase, including the accidental killing of the main mediator between AQAP and the Yemeni Parliament. This has poured gasoline on the already burning flame that is AQAP. Furthermore, as Scahill explains, the people of Yemen understand the "special relationship" that exists between the Saleh Administration and the Obama Administration that is allowing innocent civilians to be killed in the name of defeating terrorism, the very terrorist threat that their actions are actually fueling and making worse.

In sum, a small group of Yemenis have flocked toward AQAP and the United States' actions in the country serve as motivators for more to join, while the vast bulk of the rest of the country sees the intricate role Saleh has played in the whole affair and is calling for his immediate ouster.


A comprehensive timeline of the action in Yemen can be seen here:

Quotes on "Arab Spring," post-Iraq War

In the wake of the electoral success of Hamas in the January 2006 Palestinian elections, Sydney Morning Herald journalist Paul McGeough noted the declining use of the term. "So what happened to the Arab spring? This time last year, as we faced the prospect of a series of elections in the Middle East, many commentators hit their keyboards to welcome the Arab spring - about 160 of them, according to one news database ... But it seems that with the results in we don't like the term any more - only 23 mentions in the past six months. Funny that."

  • "Guess who's flourishing in the Arab spring? ... While Washington hails advances for democracy in the Middle East, two of the chief beneficiaries are Hezbollah and Hamas, hard-line foes of U.S. Mideast policy." --Jefferson Morley, Washington Post, March 29, 2005.
  • "All this regional mischief-making is critical because we are at the dawn of an Arab Spring -- the first bloom of democracy in Iraq, Lebanon, Egypt, Palestine and throughout the greater Middle East -- and its emerging mortal enemy is a new axis of evil whose fulcrum is Syria. The axis stretches from Iran, the other remaining terror state in the region, to Syria to the local terror groups -- Hezbollah, Hamas and Islamic Jihad -- that are bent on destabilizing Lebanon, Israel and the Palestinian Authority, and destroying both Lebanese independence and the current Israeli-Palestinian rapprochement. ... Today the immediate objective of this Iran-Syria-Hezbollah-Hamas-Islamic Jihad axis is to destabilize Syria's neighbors (Iraq, Lebanon, Israel and the Palestinian Authority) and sabotage any Arab-Israeli peace. Its strategic aim is to quash the Arab Spring, which, if not stopped, will isolate, surround and seriously imperil these remaining centers of terrorism and radicalism." --Charles Krauthammer, Washington Post, April 1, 2005.
  • "Indicted AIPAC lobbyist Steven Rosen told the New Yorker; 'A lobby is like a night flower: it thrives in the dark and dies in the sun.' But [disgraced indicted lobbyist] [Jack] Abramoff's own words to Ralph Reed in 1983 are even more apropos; 'It is not our job to seek peaceful coexistence' with opponents. 'Our job is to remove them permanently.' Flowery language for forged freedoms, an 'Arab Spring' Machiavelli-style." --Trish Schuh, The Arab American News, May 2005.

Articles on Arab Spring, post-Iraq War

Articles by Charles Krauthammer=

Related SourceWatch Resources

External links



  1. 1.0 1.1 Ryan Rifai Timeline: Tunisia's Uprising, Aljazeera/Africa, January 23, 2011
  2. Author not stated, Times Topics: Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali, New York Times, article updated January 26, 2011
  3. David D. Kirkpatrick Moderate Islamist Party Heads Toward Victory In Tunisia, New York Times, October 24, 2011, accessed October 25, 2011
  4. Eric Goldstein Was the Revolution lost in Tunisia and Egypt? Accessed September 21st, 2012.
  5. Jack Shenker How to Celebrate Egypt’s Police Day UK Guardian, January 25, 2011
  6. Protests in Egypt and unrest in Middle East – as it happened UK Guardian, January 25, 2011
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  8. 8.0 8.1 Fatima Naib [1] Women of the Revolution, Aljazeera/Africa. Feb. 19, 2011
  9. Author not stated Times Topic: Hosni Mubarak New York Times, March 29, 2011.
  10. David Kirkpatrick "New Turmoil in Egypt Greets Mixed Verdict for Mubarak" accessed September 20, 2012.
  11. Author not stated Egypt: Documented Death Toll From Protests Tops 300 Human Rights Watch. February 8, 2011
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  13. Mary Bottari The Day Egypt Disappeared, February 14, 2011
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