"The historical significance of what happened in Tunisia is huge. This is the first time an Arab dictator is overthrown by a popular uprising. It is too early to speculate whether this will or can spread, but I think one lesson is too obvious: the Arab people has realized that overthrowing a regime is much much easer than they had thought. If the Iranian Revolution had an impact on Arab politics, this will certainly has an impact."
"The same 7 clans that rule the government and command the greatest share of the economy remain in power, the Mukhabarat continues its repression and there are tanks in the streets. Without revolutionary organization, the street protests will end at the barrel of a gun, the state apparatus will remain firmly in power, an interim period before elections–which undoubtedly will be between elites, with middle-class elements dissenting from working-class ranks, dividing the previous national unity–will be overseen by the likes of French President Nicholas Sarkozy (not to mention the US role). The hopes of Tunisia will be extinguished by calls for moderation and the threat of the Jasmine Revolution spreading across the greater Arab world will dwindle as the security services of Algeria, Jordan, Egypt, etc. will take the moment to up the ante of repression. This situation can escalate in the other direction, however. The self-organization of the neighborhoods is a promising start–it all depends on where the leadership of the working-class takes the movement: will they yield to elite promises of reform or to middle-class leadership, or will they push forward with a truly revolutionary purpose and look at completing the political revolution and perhaps even a social revolution that will undermine the very social relations that lie at the base of the economic and political crisis unfolding across their society?"
“Kuwait's Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah on Monday ordered the distribution of $4 billion and free food for 14 months to citizens as the oil-rich emirate prepares to mark national occasions." (thanks Khalid)
"in terms of American interests and regional peace, there is plenty of peril in democracy. It was not democrats, but Arab autocrats, Anwar Sadat of Egypt and King Hussein of Jordan, who made peace with Israel. An autocrat firmly in charge can make concessions more easily than can a weak, elected leader — just witness the fragility of Mahmoud Abbas’s West Bank government. And it was democracy that brought the extremists of Hamas to power in Gaza. In fact, do we really want a relatively enlightened leader like King Abdullah in Jordan undermined by widespread street demonstrations? We should be careful what we wish for in the Middle East. “” Those Zionist hoodlums basically want 300 million Arabs to be crushed by the various tyrannies provided Israeli occupation interests are served in the region. Do you see why Arabs blame (rightly) Israel for many of the region’s problems? They know that it is—in addition to its occupation and war crimes—an extension of the tyrannical order there."
"Boston, Mass.: How long before Mubarak steps down? If he does, do you worry about a power vacuum? Do you see ElBaradei as property interim leader until free and fair elections can be held? Hossam el-Hamalawy: I see him stepping down pretty soon or else he will be taken into custody of the protestors and will be put on trial. I do not worry about power vacuum because the people are already taking initiatives on the ground to fill any security or political vacuums as we saw in the case of the popular committee that are running security now in the Egyptian neighborhoods, following the evacuation of the police. Regarding ElBaradei, I do not want to see him as an interim leader because he will diffuse the revolution, not take it forward."
"And that is the context in which it’s true to say that the example of the Red Brigades “has served to discredit revolutionary approaches”. History is written by the victors: once an oppositional group has been labelled as criminal or insane, that label will tend to stick unless or until the group gets a chance to tell its own story – and what was good and rational and useful about the group, the common sense they shared with other people of their time and place, will wither and be forgotten. (You could call it “manufacturing the immense condescension of posterity”.) Those groups and organisations from the Italian 1970s which are now labelled as intrinsically “violent” and written out of history – or, at best, evoked as an awful warning – were previously denied political legitimacy on exactly the same basis. The violence of the victors themselves somehow never enters the accounting, even when it is more indiscriminate and more brutal than the revolutionary violence it opposes – as counter-revolutionary violence often is (cf. Cairo). In Italy there was a group called the Armed Proletarian Nuclei, who killed two people between 1974 and 1977; in the same period they had five members killed by the police, one of whom, Annamaria Mantini, was ambushed in her own flat and shot in cold blood. (The official story was that she had pulled a gun on the waiting police officer after opening the door, then somehow shut the door on his arm, causing the gun to go off. The Corriere della Sera politely criticised this story, arguing that the public fully supported the police and did not need “official versions which soften the truth”.) She was 22. We need to remember the way the world looked to Annamaria Mantini, and thousands like her. (We already know how it looked to her killers and the people who justified their actions.)"