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PARIS, THE NEW NORMAL? — Diana Johnstone files an in-depth report from Paris on the political reaction to the Charlie Hebdo shootings; The Treachery of the Black Political Class: Margaret Kimberley charts the rise and fall of the Congressional Black Caucus; The New Great Game: Pepe Escobar assays the game-changing new alliance between Russia and Turkey; Will the Frackers Go Bust? Joshua Frank reports on how the collapse of global oil prices might spell the end of the fracking frenzy in the Bakken Shale; The Future of the Giraffe: Ecologist Monica Bond reports from Tanzania on the frantic efforts to save one of the world’s most iconic species. Plus: Jeffrey St. Clair on Satire in the Service of Power; Chris Floyd on the Age of Terrorism and Absurdity; Mike Whitney on the Drop Dead Fed; John Wight on the rampant racism of Clint Eastwood’s “American Sniper;” John Walsh on Hillary Clinton and Lee Ballinger on the Gift of Anger.
Meet the Oppressed

The People of the Year in the Middle East

by RANNIE AMIRI

The 2010 Middle East People of the Year are:

The Palestinians in Gaza, desperate to let the world know that nearly two years after the end of the 2008-2009 war, the cruel embargo on the territory persists; the siege by air, land and sea continues; and the impoverished population is still held captive in their land.

The Bahraini Shia, the island’s indigent and marginalized majority, ruled by the wealthy Sunni al-Khalifa royal family who routinely orders an imported security service to round up and torture democracy and human rights advocates. Excluded from government, the public sector and law enforcement by overt sectarian discrimination, they have risked life and limb to protest their disenfranchised state.

The Egyptians, who have suffocated under a repressive U.S.-backed regime that has governed by Emergency Law for 30 years and stifled the freedom of expression, assembly and press. The inability to replace their parliamentary representatives by a fair ballot this year makes voting a cruel reminder that the “status quo” is the only candidate ever up for election.

The Iraqis, who endured seven years of occupation and a few daily hours of electricity under a blistering summer sun as unrelenting as the explosions, bombings and suicide attacks that wracked cities and killed thousands. The simple will to stroll on neighborhood streets, take a trip to the market, drop the children off at school or attend Friday prayers are testaments to bravery that should put Iraqi politicians only interested in retaining power to shame.

The Saudi Ismaili, Shia and Sufi Muslims, harassed, arrested and jailed for practicing their religion or demanding the right to do so. The doors of their mosques have been sealed shut by the Interior Ministry as has the potential for civic and socioeconomic advancement. They are the “apostates” denied basic dignities enjoyed by other citizens.

The Yemenis of Saada governorate, who became the malnourished “internally displaced” refugees caught in the country’s long civil war. Pummeled by Saudi airstrikes to the north and shelled by Yemen’s army from the south, they suffered famine and destruction in a humanitarian catastrophe ignored by the world.

The 2010 Mideast People of the Year? The Oppressed.

RANNIE AMIRI is an independent Middle East commentator.