When mass protests toppled Hosni Mubarak in February last year, Cairo's Tahrir Square swiftly became the emblem of the hopes of the Arab Spring. Sixteen months on, however – with the constitution still not written and soldiers guarding the doors of the parliament – the outlook for the Egyptian revolution is far from certain.
It is true that the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) has restated its commitment to hand control to the new President at the end of this month as planned. But on Sunday night, a bare few hours after the polls closed, the council issued a constitutional declaration granting itself both sweeping legislative and budgetary oversight and also, crucially, the final say over who will draft the constitution that will set out the President's powers.
Introducing an unpredictable new element into the Syrian crisis, a news agency said on Monday that two Russian naval vessels with marines on board were ready to head for Syria to protect Russian citizens and a naval base there, in what would be the first known reinforcement of Moscow’s military presence since the start of an uprising against President Bashar al-Assad.
The Interfax news agency quoted a Russian naval official, who was not identified, as saying that the two amphibious assault ships would head for the Mediterranean port of Tartus, where Russia has its only warm-water naval base in the region. Russia has been the staunchest ally of Mr. Assad in the 16-month-old conflict, shielding the Damascus government from stern international measures to remove him from office.
Moscow is also Syria’s biggest arms supplier, and the relationship provides Russia with its main foothold in Middle East diplomacy.
Sudan's police used tear gas and batons to break up protests in Khartoum on Monday, witnesses said, after President Omar Hassan al-Bashir unveiled tough austerity measures to plug a budget deficit.
Sudan has avoided an "Arab spring" but anger is rising over spiraling food prices among a population strained by years of conflict, poverty and U.S. trade sanctions.
The Arab-African country has been struggling with economic crisis after losing three-quarters of its oil production, the lifeblood of the economy, when South Sudan seceded a year ago.
Protests erupted after news of Bashir's plans to cut the number of civil servants, reduce fuel subsidies and raise taxes on consumer goods, banks and imports.
About 250 students staged an anti-government protest in the heart of the capital for a second day, shouting "rise up, rise up", witnesses said. They also shouted slogans protesting against rocketing food prices.
Thousands of women representing social and farm movements marched in central Rio Monday to rail against the "green economy" advocated by the Rio+20 conference on sustainable development.
Behind a large banner from the international peasant movement Via Campesina proclaiming "the peoples are against the mercantilization of nature", they marched several miles to the Flamengo park, the venue for the "People's Summit" organized by civil society groups on the sidelines of the Rio+20 event.
Several hundred men closed off the march to show their solidarity.
Perched atop a truck fitted with loudspeakers, a female activist howled: "This is a march of urban and rural women against this Rio+20 charade."
"No to green capitalism! Yes to an economy based on solidarity, yes to people's sovereignty," she added.
People's Summit militants view the "green economy" concept touted by organizers of the official Rio+20 gathering as just "another stage of capitalist accumulation" after the failure of the current model.
World leaders are to gather here from Wednesday to Friday to debate how to steer the planet toward a greener and more sustainable future.
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Ten days before Greece’s elections, a member of the neo-nazi party, Golden Dawn, repeatedly hit a female candidate of the communist party while appearing live on a television talk show and threw water over a female candidate of the radical left Syriza. The communist had just called him a “bloody fascist” and he addressed her as a “commie”. Greek elites (journalists, intellectuals, politicians) condemned his violence almost unequivocally. Yet the ugliest part of this incident was the readiness of many lay people to defend him, even cheer him, while the neo-nazis rose in the polls.
Unfortunately this episode was not isolated. Despite the narrow victory of a centrist party in Sunday’s vote, almost every day extremist violence breaks out in Athens and beyond. Neo-nazis against immigrants, anarchists and leftists. Anarchists, ultra-leftists and other fringe groups of the nationalist-populist camp against riot police, mainstream politicians, journalists, liberal intellectuals, even artists. Add to this a surge in crime and rising tolerance of violence and you have a clearer picture of today’s Athens. Does it remind you of anything?
That’s right. Greece’s situation recalls the Weimar Republic. Violence (and its banalisation), hate, rage, polarisation, fear, despair and resignation. As for the police, it has already taken sides: neo-nazis won by a landslide in polling stations where officers were assigned to vote.