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ARABICA - A Daily Shot Of What the Arab World is Saying/Hearing/Sharing
Kristen Gillespie


A R A B I C A
ارابيكا


A NEW ARMY
*Syrian Colonel Riyadh al-Aasad announced in a video posted on YouTube the formation of the "Free Syrian Army." Sitting with a uniform brandished with two stars on each epaulet, al-Aasad read a statement while surrounded by six uniformed soldiers. "The army's job is to protect the people," he said, calling the deaths of civilians "crimes." The goal of the Free Syrian Army, al-Aasad said, "is to bring down this regime."

A commenter wrote, "may God protect you, heroes and freedom fighters of the Syrian army."

BREAKING THE SILENCE
*The Syrian Revolution Facebook group posted fresh clips from the Friday protests, billed as the Friday of "Your Silence is Killing Us," an attempt to convince more Syrians to turn out to demonstrate. In the port city of Latakia, thousands gathered and put a twist on the cry heard all throughout the Arab Spring "the people want the regime to fall." During the Latakia protest, the unseen speaker threw out the following to the crowd: "the people want the president's execution." The chant starts out slowly, and at 20 seconds in, the entire crowd gets to their feet, clapping and chanting at full force. Comments below the clip: "Hama is with you to the death," "God bless the people of Latakia," "may God grant victory to you heroes."

*Here, an enormous protest in Hama, with people, faces not filmed, in the crowd holding up signs with the date "July 29th – your silence is killing us." More from Hama here. The crowd stretches as far as the eye can see, in every possible direction.

UNITY AND DIVISIONS
*Al Jazeera reports that hundreds of thousands of Egyptians gathered in Cairo's Tahrir Square in what was being called a unity rally. The Islamists, who had stepped back from the protests still rocking Cairo and other cities, joined in what a Muslim Brotherhood official called a show of "unity of all political forces." But the "Friday of Unity" quickly began looking like what some called a "Friday of Division" as hardline Islamists held up signs reading "Islamic law above the constitution" and "there is no God but God." Preacher Hazem Shoman told the crowd that continuing the sit-in is a jihad for the sake of Allah. Several protesters told journalists covering the demonstration they felt the Islamists were creating divisions among Egyptians, and in Suez, the liberal Wafd party pulled out of the rally there because of "Islamist tactics," the official MENA agency reported.

July 29, 2011

photo credit: illustir

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photo of Senegal President Macky Sall coming out of his airplane

President of Senegal Macky Sall arrives Monday at Andrews Air Force Base for the U.S.-Africa summit. Md., Dec. 12, 2022.

U.S. Air Force, Airman 1st Class Isabelle Churchill
Alex Hurst

-Analysis-

Some 100 of the most important political eyes in Africa aren’t turned towards the U.S. this week — they’re in the U.S. For the first time in eight years, the White House is hosting 49 African heads of state and leaders of government (and the Senegalese head of the African Union) for a U.S.-Africa summit. Not invited: any nation that has recently undergone a military putsch, or otherwise not in good standing with the African Union, like Mali, Guinea, Burkina Faso, and Sudan.

It’s only the second such summit, after Barack Obama held the inaugural one in 2014. For African nations, it’s a chance to push for trade agreements and international investment, as reports FinancialAfrik, as well as to showcase their most successful businesses. According to RFI, dominant in its coverage of West Africa, on the agenda are: fighting terrorism, climate change, food security, and a financial facility intended to facilitate African exports to the U.S.

These themes are recurrent in national coverage and official diplomatic communiqués, from the likes of Cameroon (whose communiqué pointedly notes the U.S.’s “lack of colonial history” in Africa), which is seeking to regain access to the the U.S. market under the African Growth and Opportunity Act, to Madagascar, which as an island nation, is particularly concerned with climate change.

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But is the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit and the accompanying nice talk all just cynical cover for what are, in fact, purely U.S. strategic interests in its wider global competition with China? That’s certainly the message from Chinese media — but also a point of view either echoed, or simply acknowledged as matter of fact, by African voices.

“No matter how many fancy words the U.S. uses, the country still sees Africa as an arena to serve its strategic goal of competing with China,” Liu Xin writes for China’s state-run Global Times.

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