Rulers in Arab capitals are taking moves to avert the emergence of mass revolutionary movements such as seen in Egypt and Tunisia. In Yemen, where protesters have called a “day of rage” for Feb. 3, President Ali Abdullah Saleh has increased wages and cut income taxes, and on Feb. 1 announced that will address a special meeting of the consultative council. Online activists have also called for a “day of rage” in Syria this week to demand the resignation of President Bashir Assad.
King Abdullah II of Jordan fired his cabinet on Feb. 1 and ordered his new prime minister to pursue political reforms to “correct the mistakes of the past” following a campaign of weekly anti-government protests after Friday prayers. The new Prime Minister Marouf Bakhit has been told to take “practical, swift, and tangible steps to launch a real political reform process, in line with the king’s vision of comprehensive reform, modernization and development,” according to a statement carried by the state-owned Petra news agency. (LAT, ABC, BBC World Service, Feb. 1)
The Palestinian Authority’s Legislative Council affirmed after a meeting in Ramallah Feb. 1 that it will hold local elections “as soon as it is possible to find a day for both the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.” The last Palestinian elections were held in 2006, when Hamas won the majority of Legislative Council seats, prompting the US to declare the results invalid and prop up the Fatah party. President Mahmoud Abbas canceled elections in 2009 when it appeared Hamas would win again.
The current Legislative Council’s mandate expired in 2010 and Abbas’ mandate expired in 2009. In a memo leaked by AlJazeera as part of the “Palestine Papers,” US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton intimated to Palestinian negotiators that any other Palestinian government would not be eligible for aid from Washington. “Abu Mazen [Abbas] not running in the election is not an option—there is no alternative to him,” Clinton evidently said in 2009, shortly before the canceled elections. (Palestine News Network, Feb. 1)
On Jan. 27, Palestinian students occupied the London diplomatic offices of the PLO delegation to the UK, demanding elections in the Palestinian territories. (Ha’aretz, Jan. 27)
Hamas-controlled police in the Gaza Strip shut down a demonstration in support of the Egyptian uprising Feb. 1. Eight men and six women were reported arrested. A day earlier, Palestinian Authority security forces shut down a demonstration in front of the Egyptian embassy in Ramallah. (Ma’an News Agency, Feb. 1)
See our last post on Egypt and the Tunisian virus.