Home > Roundup > Roundup of Analysis and Investigative Articles: Assassins, Revolts, and Health Care

Roundup of Analysis and Investigative Articles: Assassins, Revolts, and Health Care

‘A matter of life and death’. Egypt’s largest workers’ action in 20 years began on Sunday. On Sunday, workers at the state run textile and weaving company Ghazl Al-Mahala began one of the largest industrial protests of the past two decades, with 27,000 workers downing tools. The strike, say the workers, is a continuation of the action taken in December, when production at the plant was halted. On Saturday night, police forces had surrounded the factory only to withdraw, fearing direct confrontation with the workers. Meanwhile , Minister of Manpower Aisha Abdel-Hady said that action can only be taken once the strike is ended. (Karim El-Khashab, Al-Ahram)

Burma More or Less Needs Help. Burma needs help, desperately, but with a “friend” like Bush trying to capitalize on his “freedom” agenda, they might do well to look elsewhere. ASEAN is a good place to start, Burma is a member country and informal personal, cultural and trade links provide intelligence and potential leverage. Surin Pitsuwan, ASEAN’s new Secretary General is a veteran diplomat who as foreign minister under Prime Minister Chuan Leekpai, chose not lend support to the dictators of Burma, in sharp contrast to the devil-may-care profiteering in Rangoon and elsewhere on the part of the successor government led by Thaksin Shinawatra. And Japan, the largest aid donor and home to a community of Burmese exiles has a modest role to play. But the real wild card in the Burma conundrum, with immense leverage for better or worse, is China. (Phillip J. Cunningham, re-published in Informed Comment: Global Affairs)

Pakistan’s plan is coming together. With President General Pervez Musharraf naming his successor as head of the army, the United States-backed stage is set for Musharraf to be re-elected as president on Saturday and for Pakistan to move towards a civilian-based consensus government. The army will not be left out, though. A select team of “war on terror” veterans will work closely with the US in its military and trade objectives in the region. (Syed Saleem Shahzad, Asia Times)

Islamabad’s grip on tribal areas is slipping. Taliban forces and their sympathizers are becoming entrenched in the seven tribal agencies in Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas. A lethal combination of President General Pervez Musharraf’s declining public support, a significant rise in suicide attacks targeting the army, and the reluctance of soldiers in the area to engage tribal gangs militarily, further exacerbates the problem. (Hassan Abbas, Asia Times)

Gaza’s darkness. Gaza has been reoccupied. The world must know this and Israelis must know it, too. It is in its worst condition, ever. Since the abduction of Gilad Shalit, and more so since the outbreak of the Lebanon war, the Israel Defense Forces has been rampaging through Gaza – there’s no other word to describe it – killing and demolishing, bombing and shelling, indiscriminately. (Gideon Levy, Haaretz)

Playing loose with law. Israel’s declaring Gaza “hostile” is but a way to justify its unwarrantable starvation of Palestinians under occupation. While some Palestinians are able to cope with temporary electricity outages, there is no dispute that Gaza’s residents will not be able to weather other means of collective punishment approved by the Israeli government. Israel provides the Gaza Strip with 150 megawatts of electricity per month, which constitutes 45 per cent of Gaza’s electricity needs. According to the first stage of Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s plan, if locally manufactured missiles continue to be fired at Israeli settlements in the Negev, Israel will significantly cut back electricity supplies. The plan clearly states that supplies will only suffice hospitals and health facilities. (Saleh Al-Naami, Al-Ahram)

Healthcare in Africa: Lesotho’s Youth Struggle to Survive. in the small African nation of Lesotho, there are only six pediatricians to care for the country’s 800,000 children. HIV/AIDS has been declared a national emergency in the country: one in four people have contracted the virus. Why are physicians in such short supply in a nation with such a dire need for healthcare? Lesotho is yet another victim of an expanding skills drain in Sub-Saharan Africa. Promising students often leave the country and once educated, flee to surrounding nations to work in a more stable, higher-paying environment. (Nash Riggins, Toward Freedom)

Lebanon and Syria: The Politics of Assassination. The assassination of Lebanese politician Antoine Ghanem on September 19 is likely to be used, predictably, to further US and Israeli interests in the region. Most Western and some Arab media have industriously argued that Syria is the greatest beneficiary from the death of Ghanem, a member of the Phalange party responsible for much of Lebanon’s bloodshed during the civil war years between 1975 and 1990. The reasoning provided is that Syria needs to maintain a measure of political control over Lebanon after being pressured to withdraw its troops. This political clout could only be maintained through the purging of anti-Syrian critics in Lebanon, and by ensuring a Lebanese parliament friendly to Syria. And indeed, with the elimination of Ghanem, the anti-Syrian coalition at the fractious Lebanese parliament is now left with an even slimmer majority – 68 MPs in a 128-member assembly. Case solved. Or is it? (Ramzy Baroud, ZNet)

Who shot Mohammed al Dura? It was a shooting that became a powerful rallying cry for Palestinians resisting Israeli occupation at the start of the second intifada. On Sept. 30, 2000, almost seven years ago to this day, Mohammed al Dura was shot and killed in Gaza while cowering behind his father during a clash between Israeli forces and Palestinian militants. Israel immediately apologized for the shooting and said the bullets had “apparently” come from their soldiers. But, very quickly, Israel and its supporters began challenging the video and the story. The controversy has been resurrected because of a pending court case in France in which the French television journalist who aired the dramatic footage in 2000 sued a media watchdog who accused the reporter of staging the shooting. (Dion Nissenbaum, Checkpoint Jerusalem)

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