A R A B I C A ???????
By Kristen Gillespie
*The Jordanian intelligence service is denying that its agents hacked into the popular Ammon News website earlier this week and forced it offline for several hours. Ammon News online edition was hacked a day after it published the full text of a petition to King Abdullah demanding political and economic reform signed by 36 tribal leaders, the kings primary support base. An unnamed official source told the state-run Petra agency that the authorities have not received a complaint about possible hacking, but if they did, they would open an official investigation. Not a single reader comment appeared under this online article in Al Ghad, one of Jordans most popular dailies, nor under the statement on Ammon News website explaining the hacking. This is likely due to a restrictive press law that applies to any statement posted online, with criticism of the government and the royal family outlawed. Khaled al-Kalaldeh, one of the founders of the site, wrote the the authorities continue to resist change and attempt to silence voices calling for real, fundamental reform. Again, not a single comment appeared under al-Kaladehs statement.
*Twitter users in Jordan did not address the hacking charges directly, but Zein Abu Odeh tweeted: A constitutional monarchy requires revising the social contract, making the king the head of state and not the head of the power centers.
SOCIAL MEDIA MATTERS
*Syria appears to be relaxing a four-year ban on Facebook and YouTube, sites that users inside Syria must use proxies to access. The government does not comment on Internet access, which is intermittently opened and closed one day an email provider such as Yahoo will work, then it wont for months. Al-Watan newspaper on Wednesday quoted unnamed Syrian analysts as saying that the decision to lift the ban represents the governments self-confidence and its lack of fear regarding any potential threat these sites might pose.
*Lebanons Prime Minister-delegate Najib Mikati is preparing to unveil his new government, one that will be led by Hezbollah and its allies -- and tensions are already rising in Beirut, independent news website NOW Lebanon reports. The coalition of former Prime Minister Saad Hariri has flatly refused to join a Hezbollah-led government. Amin Gemayels Kataeb Party withdrew from negotiations on Monday to play a role in the incoming cabinet, one which will likely include centrists and technocrats alongside Hezbollah members, a source close to Mikati told AFP. The government formation has moved slowly, particularly with regard to solving the complex problem of the Interior Ministry, a ministry that oversees the entire police, intelligence and law-enforcement apparatus, NOW Lebanon reports. Hezbollah members will likely face indictments in the UN-backed investigation into the February 2005 assassination of Hariris father, former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri, and it is not yet clear how the Party of God, which has been trying to stop the Special Tribunal for Lebanons investigation, will react.
*Wael Ghonim, the new face of the Egyptian movement demanding the resignation of President Hosni Mubarak, is encouraging his nearly 34,000 Twitter followers to keep up with the protests and not back down. This is not the time to negotiate. Now is the time to answer the demands of young people: the president stepping down and the liquidation of the [ruling] party.
Feb. 9, 2011
photo credit: illustir