As news of Bin Laden's death broke last night Gulf News moved my column up to Tuesday's paper, instead of my usual Wednesday slot. You can read the finished column here. Please return to this page to leave comments.

There is nothing wrong with celebrating the death of Osama Bin Laden. America, as a society, clearly needs a sort of collective form of closure and it has been obvious over the last 12 hours that Bin Laden's death offers that.

At the risk of being a party-pooper, however, I think it is important to offer two warnings. The first, outlined at greater length in the column, is that we do ourselves a disservice if we believe that Bin Laden's death 'ends' something. The man is gone, but the vicious ideology he came to embody is far from dead. Closure regarding 9/11 is good in a narrow sense, but just as it was always a mistake to think of ourselves as being at 'war' with a tactic, it is an equally grave mistake to believe that killing one man will make that tactic go away.

Second, it is difficult to see how the circumstances surrounding Bin Laden's demise can do anything other than complicate our already-difficult relationship with Pakistan. It is simply impossible to believe that Bin Laden could have been living for an extended period in a suburb of Islamabad - a suburb reportedly popular with retired Pakistani generals, and in a compound only a few hundred meters from a military academy - without some very senior Pakistani officials being aware of that fact. In his statement Sunday night President Obama declared that the Pakistanis had offered unspecified assistance in the Navy SEAL operation that killed Bin Laden. I find this very, very hard to believe and think we must assume those comments were little more than an effort to help the Pakistanis save face.

Not that we really needed further evidence, but here, again, is proof that Washington and Islamabad are playing from vastly different scripts where both Al-Qaeda and Afghanistan are concerned. We and the Pakistanis are clearly stuck with each other, and this is only going to make our shotgun marriage that much more dysfunctional.
 
 
My latest column, which appears in today's print editions of Gulf News, looks at the international intervention in Libya. Careful readers of my previous column on this subject will have noted that my objection was less to the idea of intervening in Libya than it was to the fact that we seemed not to know exactly why we were intervening or on whose behalf. This essay explores my other - frankly, bigger - fear: that we are embarking on this despite the fact that neither the West nor the Arab nations supporting the action are really prepared to accept the consequences of hat they have begun. If we are going to do this we need to be prepared to see it through to the finish. Frankly, I see little evidence of that so far.

Click here to read the entire column. Please return to this page to leave comments.
 
 
The rising humanitarian crisis in Libya is leading a lot of people to advocate a Western-imposed 'no-fly' zone over the country. As I note in my latest column for Gulf News, it is easy to understand the appeal of this idea, but on closer consideration it raises as many problems as it potentially solves.

Click here to read the entire column.
 
 
LONDON – Spending the last few days here in Britain it has been difficult to avoid the growing fracas surrounding the London School of Economics and its increasingly embarrassing ties with Libya.

Yesterday, LSE’s Director (President, in American university-speak) resigned amid the growing scandal. For those who may have missed it the basic details are these: Col. Muammar Qaddafi’s son, Saif al-Islam Qaddafi, studied at LSE from 2003 to 2008. The school awarded him a doctorate based on a thesis entitled “The role of civil society in the democratisation of global governance institutions.” In retrospect, this ought to have been the first of many red flags: Muammar Qaddafi’s son and heir-apparent writing about democratization and civil society? It is true that Libya, officially at least, styles itself a ‘people’s democracy’ as outlined in the rambling writings of Col. Qaddafi in his Green Book. Anyone with even passing familiarity with Qaddafi’s Libya, however, knew all of that to be nonsense.

LSE is now investigating allegations that Saif’s dissertation was ghost-written, but in better times it was happy to take his tuition money and, apparently, asked few embarrassing questions about his supposedly deep and growing commitment to democracy and human rights. Why would it do such a thing? Well, shortly after being awarded his degree Saif offered to donate about $2.4 million to the school. The money was not his or the Libyan government’s, mind you. Rather it was to come from the Qaddafi Foundation, a ‘private’ organization registered in Switzerland. According to this morning’s Financial Times precisely two LSE faculty members went on record opposing the school’s acceptance of the cash. One of them, the late Fred Halliday, pointed out that to say the foundation was independent of Qaddafi and his government was “a legal fiction”. LSE Director Sir Howard Davies, who resigned yesterday, wrote to Halliday that “we have taken soundings from other Middle East experts, who have taken a different view, and especially argued that rejecting this gift would now send the wrong message.”

Today, of course, accepting the gift (or rather the $500,000-ish that LSE initially took) looks like a pretty terrible idea. So does Saif’s degree, in the wake of a televised speech late last month in which he promised to defend his father’s regime “to the last bullet” and dismissed protestors as “drunkards and thugs.” LSE’s separate decision to accept a $3.5 million contract to run executive education programs for Libyan civil servants is also looking dodgy at best.

LSE’s experience with the Qaddafi regime is the first instance of academic chickens coming home to roost, but I fear it is not going to be the last.

Almost any journalist who has spent a lot of time in the oil-rich parts Middle East over the last few decades has had at least one eyebrow-raising encounter with some businessman or local official who holds an advanced degree from a second or third-tier American or (more often) British university but can barely put two sentences together in English. One could never prove anything, of course, but it was always hard to avoid the conclusion that some of these schools were happy to award degrees with very few questions asked in exchange for large tuition payments and the implicit promise of future donations.

The higher-class version of this involves better known universities and endowed chairs, programs or academic research centers. Some institutions have even set up degree-granting campuses in parts of the Middle East – a practice that is very lucrative financially but carries significant reputational risk if the universities involved fail to convince the wider world that a Cornell degree earned and awarded in Qatar or an NYU degree from Abu Dhabi is exactly the same thing as one earned and awarded on the institution’s home campus.

Mercifully, I do not make my living raising money for academic institutions. I am well-aware that it’s a tough time to be in the fundraising business, but one has to ask what, exactly, LSE was thinking and whether in this and other instances the lure of big money did not wind up overwhelming common sense? Will my own alma mater, Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, soon be equally embarrassed to have bestowed on the widely-respected scholar Joseph Nye the title of “Sultan of Oman Professor of International Relations”? Oman is not Libya – not by any stretch. At the same time, anyone who thinks that Sultan Qaboos (in power since 1970) has any serious democratic inclinations is, frankly, delusional.

My father used to say that we are each the guardian of our own integrity. LSE’s mistake was to take Libya’s money while telling itself that since it did not intend to let the donation corrupt the institution nothing bad would come of it. ‘Everyone will understand that <insert name of prestigious university here> would never allow itself to be bought for a donation,’ the theory goes, ‘so where is the harm so long as we know ourselves to be uncorrupted?’ Especially, one might add, since seven-figure donors don’t walk in the door every day.

I suspect that the mess at LSE is only the first such embarrassment that the Anglo-American academic world is going to see. This is unfortunate but, unlike many events of the last six weeks in the Middle East, it was probably predictable.

 
 
In a political climate where Republicans can find fault with the most innocent statement by President Obama you might think that there would be more debate in Washington over the unfolding Middle East revolutions. Strangely, this has not been the case. My latest column, which is online now and will appear in print editions of Gulf News on Wednesday, looks at this phenomenon, and suggests that Obama would do well to use the breathing space his opponents have given him - because it won't be there forever.

Click here to read the full column, return to this page to leave comments.
 
 
What are we to make of the seemingly abrupt turn events in Bahrain have taken over the last 48 hours? Just two days ago the small kingdom’s security forces doubled-down on repression, attacking sleeping women and children camped at the Pearl Roundabout and then beating medical first responders who tried to help the wounded. Now, the country’s Crown Prince is set to meet with demonstrators, the security forces have pulled back and protestors have again taken control of the roundabout – one of Manama’s main traffic choke points.

The answer, as Gary Sick suggested Friday on PBS’ Newshour, may lie in the hints of a schism within the royal family.

One of the most puzzling elements of Friday’s brutal assault by the security forces was the fact that it came a short time after King Hamad had appeared on television to give a fairly conciliatory speech. It was noteworthy, however, that the attacks were led by Bahrain’s internal security police – a force that reports directly to the Prime Minister, Sheikh Khalifa bin Salman Al-Khalifa. The PM is the king’s uncle and has held his job ever since Bahrain declared independence from Britain in 1971.

King Hamad came to power in 1997 following the death of his father, Sheikh Khalifa’s older brother. In the early years of his rule Hamad seemed to want to open Bahrain’s political system. That is hardly surprising. The last years of his father’s rule were marked by increasingly frequent unrest among Bahrain’s majority Shiites. The protests of the mid-90s were put down ruthlessly (though never with the sort of force we saw this week), but they were also generally small and rarely made their way into the capital. The unrest was confined to villages that, while only a short drive from downtown Manama, were a world away from the cosmopolitan lives of well-off Bahrainis and western expatriates. I remember arriving in Bahrain in late 1995 and being stunned to discover that my Irish and Australian hosts were not even aware of the riots that had taken place barely three miles from their apartment a few weeks earlier.

On taking power, the new Emir (it was only a few years later that Hamad promoted himself to “King”) appeared to understand that something had to change. In 2002 he allowed elections to take place for Bahrain’s parliament, which his father had suspended shortly after independence three decades earlier. The parliament’s powers, however, remained severely circumscribed and the country’s Shia majority came to complain that electoral constituencies are drawn in ways designed to dilute their strength as voters. The result, most critics will say, has been a country whose leaders talk about reform and openness a lot but tend to give away very little of consequence. Years ago, writing for Lonely Planet, I noted that people often say Bahrain is a liberal country when what they really mean is that it is liberal by the standards of its neighbors – i.e. Saudi Arabia and Iran. I made that comment in reference to social norms, but under King Hamad it can be said to apply to politics as well.

Anywhere in the Gulf it is always difficult for outsiders to know what is really going inside a ruling family, but it has long been widely believed that Hamad’s modernizing instincts, limited though they may be, are at odds with his uncle’s view of the world. Moreover, while Sheikh Khalifa is not king he does command both the loyalty of the security forces and the support of a significant faction within the royal family (though before we make Khalifa out to be the exclusive villain of this piece it is worth asking exactly how many absolute monarchs, over the course of history, have willingly ceded significant power to democratically-elected leaders).

That analysis, of course, is largely a combination of hearsay and educated guessing, but it would serve to explain the sporadic and, at times, hesitant nature of political reform in Bahrain over the last 14 years. It would also imply that the appointment of the 41-year old, US-educated Crown Prince, Sheikh Salman Bin Hamad, as the government’s key negotiator is a good thing.

It has been noted almost everywhere that Bahrain’s rulers are Sunni Muslims while the protestors overwhelmingly come from the country’s large Shiite Muslim majority. It is important to add, however, that based on what we have seen this week it is not accurate to call the protests sectarian in nature, not yet, at least. Bahrain’s Shia are a large majority of the population, they do have legitimate grievances against the current regime and the Al-Khalifas. For the most part, however, they have not expressed those grievances in religious terms. What we have seen on television are rallies for democracy and justice. That is not to say that things might not change – but if we in the West fall into the trap of assuming that any country dominated by Shiites is automatically going to become an Iranian satellite we risk alienating potential allies at best, and, at worst, turning our fears into a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Moreover, it needs to be said that Bahrain, while authoritarian, is not a police state on the model of Syria, Libya or even Mubarak’s Egypt. There are a lot of prosperous, middle class Bahrainis who are reasonably happy with things the way they are – and that group includes more than a few Shiites. In so small a country, any move toward comprehensive change will need to address their hopes and fears as well.

The Wild Card in all of this is, and will be, the role of the Saudis. Just about anyone who knows anything about Bahrain seems to agree on one thing at the moment: the Al-Saud are not going to allow Bahrain’s royal family to be overthrown. As the respected Middle East scholar Toby Jones told the New York Times recently: “Saudi Arabia did not build a causeway to Bahrain so that Saudis could party on weekends. It was designed for moments like this, for keeping Bahrain under control.”

If King Hamad is serious about reform he is now truly walking a tightrope. On the one side are demonstrators who will demand far more now, after the shedding of blood, than they might have settled for a week ago. On the other are his powerful uncle and the giant neighbor on which Bahrain is, in many ways, dependant. Both are likely to urge him to give no ground, fearing the inevitable result will be the emergence of a mini-Iran just a few miles across the water from the large and not-terribly-well-treated Shia population of Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province.

Can the king manage the delicate act of preserving his, and his family’s, position while ceding real power? My own sense is that there is no way the Al-Khalifas can continue to hold absolute power without resorting to a bloodbath that would destroy both Bahrain’s economy and its relationship with the West. Doing so might give some of the other ruling families around the Gulf cause to rejoice – but only temporarily, and only if they are astonishingly short-sighted.

The best argument for supporting democratic change in the Middle East is a moral one. But even if one puts that aside there is another, chillingly practical, case to be made: in putting down a genuinely democratic, popular uprising rulers do not prevent change, they only postpone it, even as they guarantee that the next round of unrest will be worse than the one they have just suppressed.

 
 
Expats who have spent time in the tiny Persian Gulf kingdom of Bahrain have probably spent the last week or so in a state of shock. Bahrain has always been a live-and-let-live sort of place. The violence of the last few days is unprecedented.

Except that it’s not.

Without wanting to go off on too much of a tangent here, few people in my experience are more isolated from the cultures around them than western expatriates living in the Persian Gulf and Bahrain, in this regard, has always been something of an extreme example.

Most Americans or Europeans who have visited will remember a small, socially relaxed city. Bahrain Island is about 30 miles north-to-south and 11 miles east-to-west at its widest. The southern half of the island, however, is mostly uninhabited. The country’s population of 1.1 million (about half of whom are actually Bahrainis) is mostly crammed into the northern end of the main island (in the capital, Manama, and in various small towns and villages to its south and west) and onto the neighboring island of Muharraq, where the airport is located. The US navy base you may have read about – the home port for the Fifth Fleet – is just south of downtown Manama in an area called Juffair (though there is also a huge military airfield in the southeast corner of Bahrain Island, the exact function of which neither American nor Bahraini officials are much inclined to talk about). The protests of the last few days have been taking place at the Pearl Roundabout, about two miles west of the base (i.e. at the other end of the city center).

In an irony of history, Bahrain was once the richest place on the Arab side of the Gulf but is now, arguably, the poorest. Britain established a protectorate over Bahrain in the mid-19th century. After WWI the island became the UK’s administrative headquarters for all Gulf affairs. As a result, Bahrain, in the 1920s and 30s, offered far more advanced infrastructure, better schools and better medical care than any place else in the Gulf. American missionaries built a hospital in Bahrain as far back as 1903 (to this day it carries the mailing address: PO Box 1, Manama, Bahrain). Bahrain was even the first place on the Arab side of the Gulf where oil was discovered a fact that, in the 30s, added even more to its prosperity. The oil did much to mitigate the collapse of the pearl industry in the early 30s, following the Japanese invention of cultured pearls (the importation of which is still banned in Bahrain).

After WWII, however, when the Gulf oil industry really took off, it quickly became clear that Bahrain had far less oil or gas than any of its neighbors. The British pulled out in 1971 and when oil prices skyrocketed a few years later, in the wake of the 1973 Arab-Israeli War, Bahrain, with its well-developed infrastructure, was well-positioned to serve as the commercial and communications hub for the region. In later years it also emerged as a banking center and developed a lucrative shipyard repair industry.

Overseeing all of this were/are the Al-Khalifa family, Bahrain’s rulers since the mid-18th century (by far the longest tenure of any of the Gulf’s ruling families). The Al-Khalifas are Sunni Muslims. The bulk of Bahrain’s population (about 70%), however, are Shiites, many of whom are at least partly of Persian ancestry. The Shiites believe, with more than a little justification, that the ruling family and the rest of Bahrain’s elite – virtually all Sunnis – have cornered both political power and the national wealth.

The result has been consistent political unrest since the early 90s – a fact of which even many expats living in Bahrain have often been unaware. Ignorance was an easy thing to cultivate. This was partly because past protests were never anything like those of the last few days and partly because the expat community lives in a bubble far removed from the dirt poor villages west of Manama.

The result has been a generation of rising political tension in Bahrain – one that, this week, has finally boiled over.

More on that tomorrow.

 
 
Last night I appeared on WCAX TV in Burlington, Vermont to discuss the uprising in Egypt and its possible repercussions around the region.

 

Free Egypt

14/02/2011

 
I happened across this while surfing online and wanted to share. Nice T-shirt.

Picture
If you're interested in buying one here's the link.


 
 
Earlier this week I shared a dispatch from Egyptian journalist Jihan El-Alaily. Last night she sent along this follow-up. It is republished here with her permission.

Dear Friends,

Many thanks for the congratulations that have been pouring in. It is incredible what the Egyptian people have done. This is truly a historic moment for each and every Egyptian citizen. This January 25th revolution will have deep repercussions here and far beyond.

Finally, after a very painful birth for 18 days, the People have prevailed. By the ‘Will of the People’, Mubarak and his regime have been consigned to the dustbin of history.

Finally, the army has sided with the people. They have performed honorably since the beginning of this revolution, affirming all along that they are from the people and would never shoot at the people. In their 3rd statement, where they announced they were taking over, the spokesperson gave a military salute to the martyrs (this was a very moving moment), he affirmed that the army was not a substitute for the legitimacy that the people would agree on, and said they would take in due coarse measures to respond to the people’s call for bringing about fundamental changes. They have brilliantly resisted through out this crisis, the malicious attempts by Mubarak to create a situation whereby they would be led to confront with force the peaceful protests -- which had it happened would have destroyed their historic credibility as an institution whose sons come from the people [this is a conscription army] and whose sole responsibility is the protection of the people of Egypt.  There were many tipping points through out the hopeless acts of crisis management which created frictions between Mubarak /Solliman on the one side and the army on the other.  The most serious one- I think- was on the 10th of Feb. after Mubarak’s last statement, when thousands of angry protestors -not from Tahrir square- began marching towards Heliopolis, where the presidential palace is situated. The Palace is protected by the presidential guards whose loyalty is solely to Mubarak. They are highly trained sharp shooters. Had they opened fire in this highly volatile atmosphere to protect the regime (Mubarak was already in Sharm) , a likely blood bath would have ensued. One dreaded response was of the people directing their anger at the army. It seems that the army in those crucial moments, were the wrong decision could have cost the country dearly, decided to  play politics with their boots in order to pre-empt this doomsday scenario. It appears that in a true moment of history, they forced Mubarak to accept stepping down. (I could be wrong, but this is my reading of the situation that unfolded)

Mubarak’s last Statement: absolutely horrible, pompous, arrogant, and until the last minute he tried to give the impression that he was in control, that only himself , Mubarak is the one who sets the timings for political changes. Also it was very non conciliatory in its essence, and the tone of bitterness spoke volumes to the people. The protestors called it “Khetab al-Gazma” (the Shoe Statement) ie the protestors were treated by Mubarak as no better than shoes.  I was told by the protesters, the morning of the 11th of February, when I went to the Square,  that between 150-200 protesters had fainted after hearing Mubarak’s statement. Many needed medical treatment for acute convulsions, epileptic fits, diabetic comas, heart attacks. Urgently needed psychiatric help was sought in Tahrir Square. The anger was very palpable, this was another tipping moment. On Friday the  11th of February , we the people, millions of Egyptians  responded by coming out on the streets shouting, ‘The people demand the Fall of the regime”. 

 This has been a beautiful, non violent revolution, sparked by the youth on Facebook and twitter and very quickly embraced by the entire nation.  It was a revolution that unfolded to free our spirits, to allow us to regain our dignity, our stolen humanity and to ensure that we are able to enjoy our universal basic rights, as I’ve heard over the days from tens of protesters at Tahrir Square.

It was not planned like this. When it started on the 25th - on the National Day of the Police Force- as a peaceful protest against the brutality and routine torture practices by the Police, the protestors had thought it would be a march for a couple of hours and that’s it. The slogans that were first raised were not calling for regime change. The main slogan said “justice, freedom, human dignity”. The trigger was the brutal force the police employed to suppress the peaceful march on January the 25th and the bloody spectacle of innocent protesters being killed in cold blood in front of the TV cameras of the entire world. These repeated episodes of bloody confrontations, thuggery and violence by the regime’s security apparatus and supporters,  in addition to the defamation campaigns and the lies told on national Television about the protesters  and their ‘foreign agendas’,  charged the protestors with as much vigor and moral power as those of the violent means employed by the security apparatus. 

Every day the revolution gained new grounds, as wave after wave of Egyptians joined what they quickly recognized as their cause, a fight for FREEDOM, a cause of the highest moral order. I met many young revolutionaries on Tahrir square age 22-30, who told me, day in and day out, ‘I don’t need to be here…I have a good job, status and family support’, yet they were determined to bring down the State of Fear, the state structures of embedded corruption, the system that created unbridgeable gaps between superfluous wealth and abject poverty. Just imagine, the moto of the police force under the Mubarak regime was changed  from ‘the Police in service of the People’ to ‘the Police and the People in service of the Nation’ (ie the regime). Unfortunately for the regime when they reverted ten days ago to the earlier motto, it was a step taken far too late for the revolution.

I consider myself a well educated person- I have an LLM in international law, a masters degree in conflict transformation from respected universities in the US and the UK, and more than 20 years of international experience as a journalist, yet I’ve been continuously humbled during those 18 days by the wisdom  of those young revolutionaries, their practice of non-violent resistance and their superb strategic thinking and organizational abilities. They were ahead of all of us.  I and millions of Egyptians believed in them, and embraced their/our cause as they raised their voices ‘Game is Over’.

Those young men and women never studied Gandhi and the non-violent struggle that he had led to free India, but everything they did were truly Gandhian in spirit and practice. Gandhi said ‘Not till the spirit is changed can the form be altered’- The protesters by their peaceful resistance, by their courage and determination to break the barriers of fear and intimidation, that we had succumbed to under Mubarak’s regime, were truly cleansing our souls. Like Gandhi they recognized that for war/violence to be stopped, the conscience of the people has to be changed until everyone recognizes the ‘undisputed supremacy of the Law of Love’. They succeeded.

Similarly, most have never heard of Martin Luther King Jr., but like King, they believed that the debasement of individual freedom was objectionable in itself. His belief that ‘Man is not made for the state ; the state is made for man’ rings true in every thing they said and did starting from Tahrir Square.

Countless Noble moments:  it will take us in Egypt and the world over, months and years to list, analyze and study the countless acts of love, generosity and kindness that were generated by the people that started the 25th of January revolution from Tahrir Square, that later spread to the rest of Egypt.

Two scenes strongly come to my mind. I will never forget the voice and the pleadings of the well known Egyptian director Khaled Youssef, when he appeared on Arab satellite tv screens, the night of the 25th ,I think,  when  the fires that engulfed the building of the ruling party, adjacent to the national museum, were visibly catching up and threatening the muesuem’s historic building.  He very passionately called on all Egyptians and the civilized people of the world, to come out and protect this world heritage.  Dark Images of the looted treasures of Iraq in 2003, came to mind and I cried.  The heroic protestors at Tahrir square formed a human chain to prevent the thugs from looting the Museum, and later the army fire fighters came. Khaled, later recounted how he met on the same night, a man who had walked for 4 hours to get to the museum, at a time when the roads were cut and the curfew was in place and the thugs were looting in Cairo, for no other purpose than to protect the Egyptian treasures.  Hundreds, like this man,  converged on the square for the same cause.

Second scene: I will never forget the 30+ man I met at Tahrir Square, whose haggard appearance; worn clothing clearly showed he comes for the struggling class- he comes from Nahya, a very rough slum area on the outskirts of Cairo, an area so congested, with hardly any proper infrastructure-- this makes it not fit for animals let alone for a dignified human existence. This guy, who is a teacher on 200 Egyptian pounds a month ie $34.5/month, came to the square with his four children, the youngest was about seven years old. I met him on this infamous day when the Mubarak’s thugs charged the square with camels and horses to spread panic and chaos. I had left the square on that day one hour before the ugly charade unfolded, but I did witness the beginnings of some very violent confrontations and actually saw some twelve injured protestors, who were hit by a volley of stones and sharp metal objects thrown by the pro-Mubarak paid thugs. This was the background scene when I met this teacher. Hence I asked whether he thought it was safe to bring particularly his youngest son. He said referring to Tahrir square to which he had been coming regularly, ‘I feel like a human being again, even if my four children are martyred here, this is a small price to pay for Egypt to become free’. He looked lovingly at his young son, who was wrapped in the Egyptian flag and said ‘look, he is a revolutionary leader, he is the youngest orator here in the square.’ 

Last night, I cried when I called Ahmed to congratulate him. Ahmed is 22 and is one of those very smart, street wise and passionate guys that I’ve met at Tahrir square. He fits in the same category of those mainly from the Egyptian middle class, whom I had tried to profile in my previous story, ‘Just an Ordinary Hero’,  for their heroic  deeds all through those 18 days. He was clearly elated when the news came that Mubarak had stepped down.  He added with the same burning passion, that they would not leave the square until all their demands for:  freedom, social justice and human dignity, for all Egyptians were met. They will monitor how the Supreme Army Council will behave. With this new spirit, I am optimistic.

The nightmare is over and a new dawn has begun.

Jihan El-Alaily

12 February, 2011

jihanalaily@yahoo.com