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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


ANATOMY OF A RUMOR
*Bahraini newspaper Al-Wast and other Arabic outlets have published purported comments by the brother of the African maid allegedly assaulted by IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn is a devout, veiled Muslim. "She is a committed Muslim and wears the veil," the woman's brother is quoted as supposedly saying to French daily Le Parisien. Commenters wrote that Strauss-Kahn will be judged harshly by God for his sins, and offered rare praise for the United States as "a democracy that does not discriminate." But the Le Parisien article in question makes no mention of the woman being either Muslim or veiled. Her brother is simply quoted as saying that her lawyer is speaking for her in the media.

SUPRESSION OF A STRIKE
*Calls for a general strike on Wednesday in Syria went mostly unheeded, as activists told wire agencies that the government's military and intimidation campaign is working. Still, snippets of protest footage is leaking out and being posted online. Here, several hundred people march through the covered market of Homs shouting slogans such as "leave, leave, leave" directed at President Bashar al-Assad and "the people want the regime to fall." A small protest in the Kurdish town of Qamshili is here, and a nighttime march in Aleppo is here.

APOLOGY ATTEMPT #1
*As the body count in Syria approaches 900, according to activists on the ground, and the military siege continues in several Syrian cities, the privately owned Al-Watn newspaper quotes someone who quotes the Syrian president as saying that mistakes have been made by security forces during the two-month uprising.

*The paper praised Assad for "accepting all opinions with an open mind" during a meeting with a 12-member delegation of youth and business leaders from the Meedan district of Damascus. "A member of the meeting, Amr al-Sirwan, said that the meeting was very good and that during it, a wide range of topics was discussed candidly." Al-Sirwan goes on to cite Assad, who "assured the delegation that remedies will be found and will focus on what citizens really want, but within a studied, scientific, correct framework that focuses on studying reality and the source of the problem in order to treat its causes."

APOLOGY ATTEMPT #2
This cartoon published on the "We are all Khalid Said" Facebook page shows former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak standing on a pile of bullet-ridden bodies and saying, "I'm sorry." The writing on the side of the cartoon reads, "The former president asks for a ‘pardon."" The cartoon refers to reports in the Egyptian press that Mubarak is preparing a letter to ask the ruling military leadership for a full pardon. "No pardon – we want our rights," writes Salma Hagazy under the cartoon.

May 18, 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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