January 23 to 27, 2012

–         ‘Persepolis’ trial resumes in tense climate in Tunisia – Al Masry Al Youm – 24/01/2012

The trial of the director of Tunisia’s Nessma television, accused of « insulting sacred values » for showing the Franco-Iranian film « Persepolis, » briefly resumed Monday in a tense climate in Tunis. « I am sorry to be here today, this is a political trial, » Nessma’s head, Nabil Karoui, said on arrival. « It’s the trial of 10 million Tunisians who dreamed of having a democratic country. » The representative of Reporters Without Borders (RSF) in Tunisia, Olivia Gre, said the stakes were high in the « Persepolis » trial.

–          Egyptians urge civilian rule a year on from revolt – Financial Times – 25/01/2012

The first commemoration of Egypt’s revolution became a massive politicised protest against the power of the armed forces that continue to lord it over the country’s institutions. Hundreds of thousands of Egyptians of all walks of life and varied political strains marched into central Cairo’s Tahrir Square, the epicentre of last year’s 18-day revolt, demanding an immediate end to military rule and shouting slogans against the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces. “The people want the downfall of the field marshal,” they chanted, in reference to Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, head of the council.

–          Organizations Say Torture Is Widespread in Libya Jails – New York Times – 26/01/2012

Torture and death in detention have become widespread problems in postwar Libya, international humanitarian groups said Thursday, a troubling indication that some Qaddafi-era abuses continue under the fractured rule of the country’s interim government and regionally organized militias. Amnesty International said in a statement that “several” people had been tortured to death in detention “by officially recognized military and security entities,” as well as by “a multitude of armed militias.” A majority of victims were Libyans believed to have remained loyal to the government of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi during the nine-month conflict that led to his ouster, but some were sub-Saharan Africans.

–         Arabs cook up recipe for Assad ouster in New York – Middle East Online – 26/01/2012

An Arab League team is to take the 10-month-old crisis in Syria to the UN Security Council, as activists said security forces launched an assault on a protest hub near the Syrian capital on Thursday. UN human rights chief Navi Pillay, meanwhile, said the United Nations could not keep track of the death toll in Syria’s unrest that has already cost more than 5,400 lives. Arab League ministers last week urged Assad to delegate powers to his vice president and clear the way for a national unity government within two months, a plan which Damascus has ruled out as interference in its internal affairs. According to diplomats at the United Nations, European and Arab governments are drafting a new text they hope to put to a vote in the Security Council early next week.

–         Trench warfare insight within Hamas? ( Une guerre de tranchées en vue au sein du Hamas ?) – Le Monde – 27/01/2012

Relatively unscathed so far by the powerful winds that continue to consistently affect the shores of the Near and Middle East, Hamas could now turn into a zone of turbulence. After sixteen years at the head of the Political Bureau (in exile) of the Palestinian Islamist movement, Khaled Meshaal, said last weekend, that he would not seek another term. Responding or not to a political calculation, this decision completes at least the change that the leader seems to have started in the last few months.