After midnight meeting with F.M. Aziz in Moscow, Soviet leaders announce Baghdad has given "positive" response to Soviet peace plan; U.S. delays formal response until consultation with allies [NYT...
Ireland upgrades the status of the Palestinian representation in Dublin from a “delegation” to a “mission” and grants the mission head ambassador status. It does not recognize Palestine as a state or give the mission greater diplomatic privileges or immunities. Israel expresses its “regret.” (HA, YA 1/25; WJW 1/27)
OCHA reports that Israel has barred the import of industrial fuel for Gaza’s electricity plant for 2 weeks and is now internally discussing disconnecting Gaza fr. Israel’s electricity and water grid. (Gaza authorities have been able to keep electricity generation at 30% of demand by increasing the amount of fuel smuggling through tunnels fr. Egypt.) UNRWA reports that it has suspended 23 approved building projects in Gaza because of Israeli restrictions on gravel imports. Meanwhile, IDF troops make 2 brief incursion into Gaza e. of Gaza Valley village and e. of al-Maghazi r.c. to level land and clear lines of sight. Unidentified Palestinians fire 2 Qassam rockets fr. Gaza into Israel, causing no damage or injuries. OCHA reports that since 1/19, 3 Palestinians have been injured in tunnelrelated accidents (2 crushed transporting construction materials, 1 electrocuted). (JP 1/25; PCHR 1/27; OCHA 1/28)
Some 150,000 Egyptians of all socioeconomic backgrounds inspired by events in Tunisia answer a week of calls to attend a “day of revolution” antigovernment rally in Cairo’s Tahrir Square today (a national holiday to honor police), bringing blankets, food, and water and vowing to continue protests until Mubarak steps down, his government is dissolved, and parliament is disbanded. (The Muslim Brotherhood does not participate to allow the voice of the people to stay at the fore.) The government cuts cell phone and Internet service to limit international coverage and mobilization efforts via social networking sites. Late at night, government security forces raided the square firing tear gas and water cannons, beating some demonstrators, and arresting others in an unsuccessful effort to drive them out. After a paroxysm of retaliatory violence that kills 1 police officer and some looting in the National Museum on the square, protesters disengage and mobilize to call for nonviolence, notably creating a cordon around the museum to protect it. Parallel protests are held in Alexandria, Suez (where violent clashes kill 2 demonstrators), and several smaller towns, with larger protests called for Friday 1/28. By this date, there have also been several days of protests in Yemen calling for Pres. Saleh’s removal, citing economic ills, corruption, and rumors Saleh plans to install his son as his successor. (NYT, WP, WT 1/25; AFP, al-Masri al-Yawm 1/26; see also NYT 1/23; AFP 1/26; NYT 1/27)
IDF troops on the n. Gaza border fire warning shots at Palestinians scavenging for construction materials, wounding 1. In the West Bank, the IDF conducts late-night arrest raids, house searches in Nablus and nr Jenin; conducts late-night patrols in 2 villages nr. Ramallah. (PCHR 1/20, 1/27; OCHA 1/28)
Lebanon introduces a draft of a major United Nations Security Council res. for debate that urges the international community to denounce Israeli settlement activity, using wording that artfully pieces together official U.S. statements on settlements to make it harder for the U.S. to object or veto. The U.S. ultimately urges Abbas to suspend discussion of the draft until a Quartet meeting on 2/5, suggesting the Quartet might issue a statement confirming 1967 borders as the basis of final status negotiations and condemning Israeli settlement construction. (NYT 1/20)
At an Arab economic summit in Sharm al-Shaykh, Arab leaders pledge $2 b. to shore up regional economies and generate jobs in hopes of preventing the spread of antigovernment riots like those in Tunisia. Saudi Arabia and Kuwait each pledges $500 m., with 11 other states pledging the other $1 b. Observers say however (see NYT 1/20) that leaders are acting more out of a desire to secure their leaderships than to reform and develop their economies, noting that none of the similar initiatives agreed at the last economic summit in 2009 have been implemented. By this date, numerous self-immolations (some fatal) and antigovernment protests have taken place in Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Mauritania, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, and Yemen since the fall of Ben-Ali on 1/14, citing Tunisia as inspiration. In response to the Yemeni riots, the most severe to date, Pres. Ali Abdullah Saleh has cut income taxes in half, imposed price controls on basic goods, raised salaries for the army, and vowed his son will not succeed him, while the EU has announced an additional $19.5 m. in support to Sana’a for poverty programs. Today, an Egyptian Facebook group begins calling for massive street protests in Cairo on 1/25 to mark a “day of revolution against torture, poverty, corruption, and unemployment.” (WT 1/19; NYT 1/20; NYT, WT 1/25; see also al-Bawaba 1/17; NYT, WP 1/18)
After midnight meeting with F.M. Aziz in Moscow, Soviet leaders announce Baghdad has given "positive" response to Soviet peace plan; U.S. delays formal response until consultation with allies [NYT, LAT, WP, WT 2/22].
Saddam Hussein delivers speech over Baghdad radio reaffirming Iraq's 2/15 proposal; says Iraq is ready for all-out war unless proposal is accepted [BADS 2/21 in FBIS 2/21; NYT, LAT, WP, MEM 2/22; MET 3/5].
U.S. Def. Sec. Dick Cheney says allied forces are braced for "one of the largest land assaults of modem times" as U.S.-Iraq clashes grow larger and more intense; U.S. command says allies have reached level of destruction specified by senior generals as minimum needed before ground offensive can begin [NYT 2/22].
SCUD missiles are fired at Saudi Arabia in 2 rare daylight attacks; Patriot missile intercept all; 9 American soldiers are killed in 2 helicopter crashes in Saudi Arabia [LAT, MEM 2/22; MET 3/5].
Kuwaiti gov't-in-exile contracts U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to help restore Kuwait's damaged water, power, and transportation systems after war. Contract runs for 90 days, valued at $45 million [LAT 2/22].
Saudi ambassador to U.S., Prince Bandar bin Sultan, warns that Yasir Arafat, King Hussein, and Pres. Saleh of Yemen will be made to pay dearly for supporting Iraq, signalling sharp break from Saudi prewar policy of trying to forge Arab consensus (cf. 2/26) [LAT 2/22].
Hours after long-disputed $400 million loan guarantees to Israel is approved, Israeli officials claim the amount is grossly insufficient; Immigration Min. Yitzhak Peretz says "In fact, it's a very small sum that only accounts for 3 or 4 percent of the overall figure" needed [NYT 2/22].
Amnesty International accuses members of allies of using war as pretext for human rights violations, citing Britain, Egypt, and U.S. for war-related abuses [MEM 2/21; LAT 2/22].
At Labor party bureau meeting MK Moshe Shahal expresses, for 1st time in public, support for creation of Palestinian state [IDF 2/21 in FBIS 2/22; MEM 2/22; JPI 3/2].