The Tunisian Revolution: Virtual Voices Made a Real Difference

By Nir Boms & Elliot Chodoff

The demonstrations in Tunisia and Egypt caught most of us by surprise. Revolutions often do. Sir Anthony Parsons, the British ambassador in Tehran, declared in 1978 that “there has been little or no evidence of unrest among the urban poor.” Shortly after, Iranians poured into the streets and deposed the Shah.

A decade later, the U.S. was shocked by the sudden collapse of the Soviet Union, another revolution from within. In October 2000, several hundred thousand people protested against Slobodan Milosevic, who was arrested by Serbian police six months later and eventually prosecuted for war crimes. In 2003, Georgian president Eduard Shevardnadze attempted to steal an election, and the people prevented him from opening a new session of parliament in what came to be known as the Rose Revolution. The Ukrainian Orange Revolution followed a year later, with half a million people marching to protest election fraud, corruption, and repression.

But not all marches end successfully. In 1989, the People’s Republic of China had little tolerance for the 100,000 demonstrators gathered in Tiananmen Square following the funeral of Hu Yaobang, a popular Communist leader who believed in political and economic reforms. Lebanon is still held hostage despite its million-man freedom march in 2005. Iran has learned its lesson: Repeated attempts at revolution — including that of the students in 1999 and the Green Movement of 2009 — have been crushed with high casualties. In Egypt, Syria, Libya, and even Morocco, popular protests have been quickly crushed.

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סוריה: צנזורה על הקו

בעלי בלוגים בסוריה מקבלים בשבועות האחרונים איומים טלפוניים מפקידי ממשל, המציעים להם “הצעה ידידותית” להסיר חומר פוליטי מאתריהם. על לפיתת החנק הסורית על רשת האינטרנט.
ניב ליליאן, ניר בומס

עלי עבדאללה, שעמד בשערי בית המשפט העליון לביטחון המדינה, בסך הכל ניסה להביע את דעתו בפני שוטר על חוק מצב החירום הנמשך בסוריה כבר 43 שנים. מצב החירום, משמש את המשטר הסורי לסתימת פיות ומעצר מתנגדים. זמן קצר לאחר מכן, הוא זומן להופיע בפני נשיא בית המשפט. הלה איים עליו, שאם יופיע שוב בשערי בית המשפט – הוא יוכה נמרצות.

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Yemen’s Facade of Freedom


By Nir Boms and Erick Stackelbeck | February 4, 2004

Last month, as Yemen hosted the Sana’a Conference on Democracy, Human Rights and the Role of the International Criminal Court-the first such event in a country long wracked by internal strife and despotism-the Bush administration was undoubtedly keeping a watchful eye. With Afghanistan and Iraq inching slowly towards reform, Libya apparently coming clean about its WMD program, and Syria and Iran under increasing U.S. pressure, the Yemeni government’s talk of democracy appeared to be another step toward the fulfillment of President Bush’s vision of a free Middle East. But in Yemen, as in most Middle Eastern countries, there is a fine line between rhetoric and reality. 

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Democracy Web


August 23rd, 2004

By Nir Boms/Erick Stakelbeck

While the war on terror has left scores of Islamist terrorists worldwide on the run, there is still one place where they – or at least, their message – can find safe refuge: the Internet. 

In the past two weeks alone, a beheading, a graphic terrorist training video and several chilling threats against the West have all been posted on Islamist Web sites. In addition, the FBI announced on Aug. 9 that it was investigating Mazen Mokhtar, an Egyptian-born American citizen, for allegedly operating a radical site that solicited funds and recruited fighters for the Taliban and other jihadist groups. 

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